Wednesday, July 30, 2014

To Kill a Mockingbird: Young Adult or Adult Fiction and Does it Matter?

Harper Lee's classic, To Kill a Mockingbird, is an American classic.  It is part of the fabric, the persona of this nation.  When, dear reader, did you first experience Ms. Lee's book?

Harper Lee says she didn't OK new book about her photo
Harper Lee
Rob Carr (AP Photo)
In Marja Mills’ The Mockingbird Next Door: Life With Harper Lee, the reclusive author of American essential To Kill a Mockingbird talks more freely than she has previously about her life through her friendship with Mills, a journalist from The Chicago Tribune.  The book, however, is unauthorized.  Ms. Lee states:

As long as I am alive, any book purporting to be with my cooperation is a falsehood.

Mills recorded a conversation with Lee who wrote: “She said she felt lucky Mockingbird was published when it was. Much later, and it might have been classified as young adult fiction and never reached the audience, and all the adults, it did.”

Young adult fiction has been a hot topic lately, with the success of John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars reaching a mainstream audience through things like a New Yorker profile and a hit movie adaptation. 

If To Kill a Mockingbird had been released even ten years later, it probably would have been sold as a kids’ book.  If it were released now, there’s a chance it would even be marketed as middle grade. In fact, Scout, the narrator is looking back on her life as a ten-year-old child.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Shel Silverstein’s Life Showcased in New Biopic for the Cinema

Any of us who are teachers, parents, and other caregivers, are familiar with the works of Shel Silverstein, who is best known for writing and illustrating classic children’s books, including Where the Sidewalk Ends and The Giving Tree, as well as penning country music classics like Johnny Cash’s “A Boy Named Sue.”
Now Award-winning songwriter and children’s book author Shel Silverstein will be the subject of a new biopic based on the biography A Boy Named Shel: The Life and Times of Shel Silverstein by Lisa Rogak.
Wonderland Sound and Vision is producing the project, with writing partners Chris Shafer and Paul Vicknair adapting the script from the biography. Director McG (Charlie’s Angels, 3 Days to Kill) will be among the film’s producers. 

 Silverstein also collaborated with musicians including Johnny Cash, Loretta Lynn, and Dr. Hook and the Medicine Show and drew cartoons for Playboy. Silverstein’s songs were as well-crafted as they were funny, and he was even nominated for an Oscar and a Golden Globe for his song “I’m Checkin’ Out,” which was sung by Meryl Streep in Postcards from the Edge
Silverstein’s most famous books have been translated into more than 30 languages and sold over 20 million copies, but the biography also looks at his experimental plays written with David Mamet and other projects that not many people know about. 

Silverstein died in 1999 of a heart attack at the age of 68.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

The 5 Best Books for Kids This Summer (Chosen by Kids)

Looking for terrific summer reading to keep kids interested in reading? TIME For Kids magazine asked its kid reporters to review the season’s hottest new books.  Here is a partial list:

Edmund Xavier Lonnrot (Eddie Red) is an average sixth grader. That is, if the average sixth grader has a photographic memory and can draw anything he sees. His whole life, Eddie has used these gifts for fun. But one day, the New York City Police Department (NYPD) seeks his help with a case involving some major art thieves. Eddie finally puts his extraordinary talents to good use.

Nearly 100 years after the Great Disruption, Sophia Tims and Shadrack Elli, Sophia’s uncle and master cartographer, begin map reading and map writing in an attempt to find Sophia’s missing parents.  Along the way, she encounters a multitude of mysteries, creatures, and hazards.

Thirteen-year-old Margaret O’Malley’s life is turned upside down when her father is sentenced to death by the cruel Judge Biggs. Margaret’s father is innocent, and she sets out to prove it.  She uses her ability to time-travel to make a daring journey into the past.  Luckily for Margaret, she has her friends Charlie and Grandpa Josh, who join her in the quest to save the person she loves the most.

For his entire life, 12-year-old Adam has spent summers at his Grandma’s cabin in Minnesota. But this year things are different. His parents have divorced. On top of that, Adam’s cousins won’t be vacationing at the cabin with him. Also, Grandma seems to be acting differently. At first, she’s just a bit more forgetful than usual. But after spending more time with her, Adam realizes Grandma is “slipping.” 

Teddy Fitzroy lives at FunJungle, the world’s largest zoo. He has a reputation for being a troublemaker. FunJungle has recently acquired a big moneymaking attraction—a furry koala named Kazoo. Unfortunately, the adored koala goes missing, and all fingers point to Teddy.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Book-Inspired Benches Throughout London This Summer

Here is a fun thing to do if you are in the greater London environs and are looking to do something fun with and about books:
The Cat in the Hat
Dr. Suess
How to Train Your Dragon by Cressida Cowell and Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll are among books that have been given a new life in London this summer.

Peter Pan
J.M. Barrie
The National Literacy Trust in Britain has developed a public art project that commemorates 50 books in an new and innovative way: as public benches.
The project is called Books about Town. Artists have been asked to adapt famous books into benches which have been placed throughout the city. The “BookBenches” project is designed to encourage reading.

Paddington Bear
Michael Bond
 Readers can find four different literary maps of these sculptures online and use them to guide their literary treasure hunts. The routes include: Greenwich Trail, Bloomsbury Trail, City Trail and Riverside Trail.
The exhibition is running through September 15th.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

3D Printing Aids Blind Kids Enjoy Classic Bedtime Stories

We all know the story of Helen Keller and her struggles to lead a normal life. How much more enhanced would her awakening to the wider world have been, if she were able to experience the newest technology for visually impaired children?

The Very Hungry CaterpillarA new initiative is helping blind and visually impaired children gain access to classic bedtime stories. Launched by researchers at the University of Colorado, the Tactile Picture Books Project converts standard children’s books into textured pages using 3D printing technology, reports the Daily Mail.

Goodnight Moon

So far, the team has successfully converted ‘Goodnight Moon’, ‘Harold and the Purple Crayon’, ‘The Very Hungry Caterpillar’ and ‘Cat in the Hat’, with the aim of creating many more.

Front Cover
The books each feature raised illustrations for children to feel while the story is read aloud. In the 3D version of ‘Goodnight Moon’, for instance, they can physically touch the cow jumping over the moon. 

According to Alice Applebaum, whose Denver-based organization, the Anchor Center, helped create the project, 3D printing is a logical step in educating vision-impaired children. “We often add texture to books; we have a room here where we add braille and things that children can feel to stories,” she told Mashable.

“It’s just like when we learn how to read with our eyes, but they’re learning with all their other senses.”