Daisy Hirst's picture book about friendship, loneliness and self-reliance is shot through with delightful absurdity and illustrated with enormous wit. Read the rest
At my house, we've fallen in love with Recipe, a 2013 picture book about a little girl who tells her good-sport mom that it's time she learned to cook, and hands over a set of ingredients for Mom to buy, including a new puppy, a Cleveland Browns sweatshirt, a helmet, a water squirter, and 20 bags of marshmallows. Read the rest
Reading Daniel Pinkwater's novels as a kid changed my life for the better, and I've never looked back, so this beautifully written profile by Josh Nathan-Kazis was a pure delight to read, from Pinkwater's experiences as a cult member to the time that Terry Gilliam blamed him for killing Harvey Kurtzman's Help! magazine, putting R. Crumb out of a job. Read the rest
One year ago today Odd Duck: great picture book about eccentricity and ducks: Cecil Castellucci's Odd Duck is the story of Theodora, "a perfectly normal duck" who likes her routine -- swimming, stretching, taking books out of the library, buying duck kibble, doing craft projects (with duck burlap, naturally) and star-gazing. When Chad moves in next door, Theodora can tell she's not going to get along with him. He makes weird abstract sculptures, dyes his feathers funny colors, and talks a mile a minute.
Five years ago today In The Yggyssey: Pinkwater takes on The Odyssey: The Yggyssey: How Iggy Wondered What Happened to All the Ghosts, Found Out Where They Went, and Went There, a tribute to (what else?) The Odyssey. The Yggyssey picks up a few years after the world-shaking final battle that concludes Neddiad, and switches POVs to Yggdrasil Birnbaum ("Iggy" for short), the tomboyish female lead of the Neddiad, daughter of the famed cowboy Captain Buffalo Birnbaum, a retired silent film-star.
Ten years ago today UK cinema copyright warnings: a call to action: "You are not permitted to use any camera or recording equipment in this cinema. This will be treated as an attempt to breach copyright. Any person doing so can be ejected and such articles may be confiscated by the police. We ask the audience to be vigilant against any such activity and report any matters arousing suspicion to cinema staff. Thank you." Read the rest
Children's author, essayist and hero of literature Daniel Pinkwater has revived his classic backlist as a line of DRM-free ebooks! Each one is only $3, and there are some astoundingly good titles in there.
Alan Mendelsohn, The Boy From Mars was my first Pinkwater, and it literally changed my life. It's your basic nerd-discovers-he-has-special-powers book, except it's not: it's got saucer cults, green death chili, mystic bikers, and a sweet and inclusive message about following your weird without looking down on others. It literally changed my life.
The Education of Robert Nifkin is another take on an Alan Mendelsohn-like story, but this time, it's all about taking charge of your own education and an alternative school where the inmates run the asylum. It's probably no coincidence that I ended up at a school much like Nifkin's after reading Mendelsohn (here's my full review).
Young Adults is a hilarious, bawdy romp through the conventions of young adult literature. When got my first paperback copy, I walked around for days, annoying my roommates by reading long passages from this at them until they forgave me because they were convulsed with laughter. Dadaism was never so funny.
Wingman is such a beautiful, compassionate book about race, comics, and a love affair with literature. I read my copy until it fell apart.
What can you say about the Snarkout Boys? They sneak out at night and go to an all-night B-movie palace where they have comic, X-Files-style adventures with the paranormal and diner food. Read the rest
It was a lot of work, rowing The Father Skolnik Maru, but it wasn't torture. It wasn't like Les Miserables or anything.— Daniel Pinkwater (@DanielPinkwater) March 4, 2014
We got 10 minute breaks, every 30 minutes.— Daniel Pinkwater (@DanielPinkwater) March 4, 2014
Geets and I were able to fake-row some of the time. We let the Lake Scouts do the heavy pulling, and just skimmed the surface.— Daniel Pinkwater (@DanielPinkwater) March 4, 2014
Daniel Pinkwater's Bushman Lives! was one of my favorite young adult novels of 2012. Unfortunately, his publisher refused to give him an advance contract for the sequel, so he's seemingly parted ways with them. Instead, Pinkwater is serializing the sequel through his Twitter account. It's (unsurprisingly) wonderful so far. Read the rest
In the tradition of August's book-review roundup, I've pulled together a collection of my favorite young adult reviews from the past decade. Hope you -- and the young adults in your life -- enjoy these as much as I did!
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Planesrunner: Ian McDonald's YA debut is full of action-packed multidimensional cool, airships, electropunk and quantum physics: Planesrunner is the story of Everett Singh, a moderately unhappy schoolboy in London whose divorced, quantum physicist dad is kidnapped before his eyes one night. Everett embarks on an epic quest to find out what happened to his dad, a quest that is complicated by his mother's hostility to her ex-husband, a police cover-up, sinister visits from the head of the Imperial College physics department, and mysterious, threatening strangers who tail him through the streets of London.
Jennifer writes with amazing news! "FISH WHISTLE is a compilation of the best of Daniel Pinkwater's short essays. Contains classic (and very funny) stories of Pinkwater's family, travels in Africa, food, raising dogs and becoming an artist, many of which were first heard on NPR's 'All Things Considered.' Originally published in 1990, this first ebook edition is updated for 2013. And it's free through Wednesday on Amazon."
Pinkwater is like unto a god to me. Read the rest
When I was finishing grade school the works of Daniel Pinkwater delighted me. I read his stories over and over and The Snarkout Boys and the Avocado of Death is a life long favorite.
Reminiscing with an old friend last night brought tears to my eyes. It is amazing how this tale of youth and discovery holds me. Walter's terrible boredom at Ghengis Khan High? Sneaking out to see classic films with Winston Bongo? Beers at Beanbenders? I still want to do these things! My imagination is permanently warped in the most wonderful ways.
I just ordered a copy, the same edition I had as a kid. Next up will be Alan Mendelsohn, the Boy from Mars.
Hal Johnson's Immortal Lycanthropes is a YA novel unlike any other. It's the story of Myron Horowitz, a horribly disfigured amnesiac orphan whose nice adoptive parents can't protect him from the savage beatings administered by the school bully every day. But then the bully is found bruised and battered and hurled through shatterproof glass, and Myron is found on the floor of the cafeteria, naked, with no sign of his clothes anywhere. And the adventure starts.
You see, Myron is an immortal lycanthrope, part of an ancient mythic race of human/animal hybrids -- one for every species of mammal -- who date back to the dawn of humanity. Nothing can kill him save another immortal in animal form, and there are plenty of those around, as it turns out. They have all come out of the woodwork to attempt to kidnap/kill/rescue/brainwash/claim/manipulate him, because he appears to be the first newborn immortal lycanthrope since the dawn of history.
Myron is off on a madcap trip across America, variously beaten and nearly killed and tricked and conned and even worshipped as he discovers the true nature of his race, and speculates about what animal might lurk within him.
Johnson has taken a slight idea -- his editor says that the book's genesis was a sarcastic remark about writing YA fiction, as in, "What, you want me to write about immortal lycanthropes or something?" -- and made something perfectly wonderful and wonderfully perfect out of it. A few chapters in, I flipped to the beginning of the book looking for an "about the author," only to notice that he'd dedicated the book to Daniel Pinkwater, who is the all-time world champion of weird amazing mind melting brilliant YA fiction. Read the rest