Top Ten – Wait! – Eight Tuesday: New to Me Authors in 2012

8.  John Cotton Dana


Not terribly exciting, but one of the first books I downloaded when I got my Kindle Fire.

7.  Margret Rey Image I am NOT a Curious George fan.  I mean, have you ever READ the book?  But, since I have a miniature dachshund myself, how could I resist?

6.  Anthony Horowitz Image I know Horowitz has written a lot of teen books and I probably should have read him before.  And I also know this is quite a departure from his other books.  But this one is fabulous – the first time the estate of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle has authorized a new Sherlock Holmes novel.  It left me hanging until the very end, and is oh so respectful of the original.

5.  Mike Lupica


I should have read Lupica  before now, too, but I’m really not a big sports fan (but I do buy lots of sports books for the library).  This was a fun read, though, and I see why kids like him.  (Actually, I have read him before, his book Hero, book it is quite different than this, his typical YA sports fare.)

4.  Rachel Joyce Image Rachel Joyce is a new author, but I did quite like this book.  (As you might discern from this list, I’m not really into finding new authors!  My list of my favorite books of 2012 would be harder to wade through as there would be a lot more choices.)

3.  Robert Fagles


Fagles is the translator here of good ol’ Homer, but what a difference he makes!  I read Fitzgerald’s translation a decade ago and it was fine and good, but Fagles’ translation is simply beautiful.  If you’ve read Homer before, read it again – but only this Homer.

2.  Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell


Some high school students were doing a project on banned books and wanted to know if I could had this one.  I didn’t, nor did any school or public library around me.  Of course it’s controversial but ridiculously so – it’s a true story and a sweet one at that.  At any rate, I own it now, and am glad to do so.  I hope Richardson and Parnell find other sweet stories to tell.

1.  Michael Connelly Image I’m surprised I hadn’t read this author before, as it is right up my alley.  I found him by watching The Lincoln Lawyer on Amazon (with Prime membership, free – Prime is the best $79 I’ve ever spent!).  I wanted to go read another book right away, but I’m not going to make the mistake I did with Jonathan Kellerman and read all the books (with the same characters) together very quickly – I’ll never want to read another again if I do that!  I like his style, though – quick and smart.  Of all the authors here, this is the only one I’m sure I’ll read again.

Top Ten Picture Book Authors

This week it’s top ten authors in x genre.  I’m actually not a big genre reader.  I’ll read any – after I took a Readers Advisory class and had to read a novel a week in different ones, from romance to horror to literary nonfiction (that was an amazing experience) – but I can’t pick any genre in which I have ten favorite authors.  Realistic fiction comes the closest, I suppose, but that seems sort of lame.  So picture books it is!

10. Brian Selznick

Normally, I wouldn’t call Brian Selznick’s The Invention of Hugo Cabret and Wonderstruck picture books, but the Caledecott Committee did, so that’s good enough for me.

9. David Wisniewski 

I just discovered Wisniewski’s work when I was reshelving picture books.  His work, Golem, for which he won the 1997 Caldecott, is an artistic wonder of paper craft.  It’s a little dark for my picture book readers, though, so I added this title, Tough Cookie, to my fall book order.

8. Kevin Henkes

I know that Henkes has done a lot of other more popular work, like Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse and Kitten’s First Full Moon, but A Good Day is my favorite.  If there’s any book that I’d like to go cut up and make into gift wrap or posters, this is it.  

7. J. Klassen

This is a new favorite author.  This is Not My Hat continues the hat theme after the hit of 2011, I Want My Hat Back.  I feel a preschool storytime theme brewing . . . 

6. Jan Brett

Jan Brett’s books are an intricate delight, and truly a must-have for any children’s library.  I especially love that Brett has created signs for libraries and distributes these free on her website:  “Print as many as you wish.”  How cool is that!  (Smart too – get the librarians on your side, and they’ll buy all your books.)

5.  Quentin Blake

Although I’m featuring picture book authors, I have to include Quentin Blake here, just for his illustrations.  I wasn’t aware that he’s author/illustrator of many books in his own right.  I’ll have to check those out.  Blake, of course, illustrated many of Roald Dahl’s books, including most famously, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.  Check out his Rights of the Reader poster (with Daniel Pennac) – free for download here.

4.  Chris Van Allsburg

Van Allsburg’s portfolio is very deep – Jumanji, The Garden of Abdul Gasazi, and The Mysteries of Harris Burdock.  The one above, though, is my favorite, for its almost ethereal images that evoke the exact emotions of the story.

3. Tad Hills

Truth be told, I’ve never read one of Tad Hills books – they are always checked out!  But after hearing of his generosity to a great cause – creating an original Christmas card for free – he has to be included on this list.  

2. Kate and Jim McMullan

This is a favorite book of mine to read out loud.  And how could it not be?  Know what I do when you’re asleep? / Eat your trash, that’s what.  I will say, though, they get to the near top of my list also for the reminder of another of their books popping up in my Amazon feed, with me just seeing the title.  I wondered what sort of book Amazon was suggesting I buy!

1.  David Wiesner

I’ve already talked about Wiesner, winner of the 2007 Caldecott for Flotsam, and before that, one in 2002.  Although there are other wordless books that have a less intricate of plot and perhaps are better choices for younger students, you have to hand it to Wiesner for boldly going where no one had gone (much) before.  Word is, Wiesner is working on a new book, called Mr. Wuffles.
  • Runners up:  Mo Willems, Eric Carle, Ludwig Bemelmans
  • What I don’t like:  Curious George, and most picture books published by a famous person who isn’t a writer – actor, television news anchor, singer, etc.  With a few notable exceptions.

Top 10 rewind: Top 10 books that make me think

10. Botany of Desire: A Plant’s Eye View of the World by Michael Pollan – This made me think, “Genetic engineering is dangerous.”  Also how great Johnny Appleseed was – he’s not exactly what you think!

9. Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson – This made me think, “Being teenager isn’t always great.”


8. My Life in Dog Years by Gary Paulsen – This made me ask myself, “If I named a handful of events to symbolize my life, what would they be?”  Also, how absolutely great it is to share your life with dogs.

7. Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter by Seth Grahame-Smith – Even if I’m mad at Grahame-Smith for how he ruined this book for the big screen (with that said, I’ve already pre-ordered the DVD), his book definitely made me think, “What if it’s true?”

6. The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls – This made me think, “I have no idea what my students’ lives are like at home.”

5. The House of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer – This made me think, “Are we already on the road to El Patrón’s world?”

4. Night by Elie Wiesel – This made me think, “How can man do this to man?”  Also, “How did a generation live through these horrors?”

3. Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America by Barbara Ehrenreich – This made me think, “I really have no idea what life is like for those around me.”  And it made me a better tipper.

2. The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates by Wes Moore (obviously) – This makes me think, “What one decision have I made that changed everything in my life?”

1.  The Giver by Lois Lowry – I refused to finish this book the first time I tried, it made me so angry.  I finished it eventually, and it makes me think, “Be careful what you wish for.” 

Top ten "older" books I don’t want people to forget about


10. Summer of My German Soldier by Bette Greene
I read all the time as a kid, but I don’t remember many specific titles.  I do this one, though.  I came in the living room, weeping a bit, and said, “Don’t mind me, I just finished the best book.”  My siblings just rolled their eyes – I was the youngest and was always weeping – or crying, or bawling – a little bit!  Still, I should push this a bit more in readers’ advisory.

9.  The Cricket in Times Square by George Selden

I read this when I was trying to read all the books on the National Endowment of the Humanities Summertime Favorites book list.  The thing is, they have a new list – with some fun new books like Ivy + Bean, If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, etc.  But to take out one like this?  I’m going to go through the lists later today and see what else they took out.  So disappointing!
With that said, I am struggling on where to put this book.  The copy we have is a large one, more like a picture book, but it’s obviously not a picture book.  But put it in fiction, and who will read it?  Perhaps my juvenile fiction for early chapter book readers.  (Go to this link to see what the earlier – about 2001? list looked like.)

8. Holes by Louis Sachar


A few years ago, I asked my kids to suggest the one book they would have me read, above all others.  My oldest daughter suggested this one, which she had read when it first came out several years before.  After reading it, I said, “Why didn’t you tell me to read this years ago???”  It really is a great book.  I try to book talk it to students and succeed about half the time – the other half, kids say, “Well, I already saw the movie.”  For some books that wouldn’t make a difference, but this one, it probably would.

7. The Great Brain by John D. Fitzgerald

I talked about this book in last week’s list (Top Ten eight series I haven’t finished).  This and Summer of My German Soldier are the only books I remember reading as a kid – and yes, I was always reading!  (I do remember a lot of Jackie Collins as a teenager . . . that’s so sad, I know!)  I’m in the midst of doing my fall book order at the elementary; I need to order this as it’s not in my collection.  How can I really mean that I don’t want people to forget this book if it isn’t even in my library?

6. Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card


This is the book my oldest son said that I needed to read, and boy, am I glad I did!  I’m not a sci-fi aficionado by any means, but this is a great book.  It’s one of the few that I remember audibly gasping at a scene (the other is Sandra Dallas’ The Persian Pickle Club).  I’ll have to check if this is in both elementary and secondary libraries.

5. Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift
This is another that has gone off of the NEH list.  Boo!  I read this as a teen, and though I certainly didn’t understand the symbolism (I guess it’s about British economic policy of the 18th century), I was glad I read it.  It’s one of those things where the characters and plot are in our cultural conscious (like The Odyssey or Alice in Wonderland), so if you read a Newsweek article there will be some mention of Gulliver and it certainly helps to have read it. 
4. 1984 by George Orwell
I read this as a teen also, in fact, in 1984.  (So obviously, it did not have that cover, but I think that’s awfully fun.)  The NEH has taken 1984 off its classic book list, too.  How is this possible?  Oh like we have no fear of government surveillance or censorship, right?  Please.  (The previous school librarian had kept lots of clippings of important events.  Some aren’t so important anymore as others – sniff, sniff, I guess I see the point of culling the list, NEH – but I definitely kept the ones FROM 1984 ABOUT 1984.)
3. Strawberry Girl by Lois Lenski


I read this from the NEH list – thankfully, it still makes the cut.  What amazes me about this book is that the setting is really not that long ago in American history – about 1900.  By then, most small towns in Iowa were formed, and we were certainly on the way to progress.  But in Florida, it was still very much a backwoods sort of place.  It’s amazing how fast the state progressed in the 20th century!  I love the colloquialisms in this book, too. 

2.  The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin by Benjamin Franklin
I love Ben Franklin!  I think of all the folks in history, if he were to time travel to our age, he would totally get it.  Air travel, antibiotics, the internet, 3-D printing, all of it.  He is a genius.  (And the NEH?  Ben isn’t on the list?  You’re dead to me.)
When I was a nontrad student a decade ago, I had to write a paper comparing two of the works that we had read in American Lit.  I chose this one and The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass.  I said that they both had served time in servitude, both were American heroes that many still looked up to, and that both were quotable.  My favorite one for Franklin? 

And when you are criticized, as you will be, remind your critics that you have the right to speak your mind. And if they shout you down, as they probably will, then inform them that since they insist on being asses, you will henceforth communicate with them with the appropriate part of your own anatomy. And turning to face them from the posterior, let them know where you stand. Let every fart sound as a peal of thunder for liberty. Let every fart remind the nation of how much it has let pass out of its control.


It is a small gesture, but one that can be very effective—especially in a large crowd. So fart, and if you must, fart often. But always fart without apology.


Fart for freedom, fart for liberty—and fart proudly.

I obviously got an A.
1.  Millions of Cats by Wanda Gág
Want a classic book that is still on the NEH list?  Check.
Want a book that changed children’s book illustration forever, by pioneering the double-page spread?  Check.
Want a rhyming, cute picture book, that features cat genocide?  Check, check, and check.
For the record – if you want to get blogging done in a hurry and not fiddle-fart around with it all day – do it when you don’t have access to your charger!  You will get it done in no time.

Top ten series I haven’t finished


I know, I know, it’s Thursday.  So much for my goal of blogging regularly this week . . .

The top ten series I haven’t finished . . . this is a tough one!  I don’t read a lot of series, and the ones I have read, I generally finish (the Mitford series, the Harmony series, and a few that are decidedly not religious). 

But for what it’s worth, here’s ten eight book series that I started and haven’t finished, in no particular order:

1.  Diary of a Wimpy Kid

I’ve read the first Wimpy Kid book, and liked it fine enough, but just haven’t found the desire to go back to it.  Captain Underpants and the Terrifying Return of Tippy Tinkletrousers is all the humorous cartoon books I need, I guess.

2.  Twilight

Really, don’t get me started on Twilight.  Okay, since you asked.  I was taking a class in Young Adult Librarianship and we had to read this book.  In our discussion, all the other ladies loved the book, as well as my professor.  I just kept thinking of a girl in my high school who was abused by her boyfriend, if this book had been out then.  She might have thought, “Wow, this is exactly how my boyfriend treats me!” – with Edward’s stalking, bullying behavior.  But then she realizes that not only her classmates, but her mother, her teachers, her librarian think it’s romantic.  I was told in class that I was being silly, but the next day I heard on NPR of a government report that some crazy percentage of high school girls are in abusive relationships.  So there.  (Though I think it would be an excellent book to read with high school girls to discuss.  But I won’t be reading anymore of her work.)

3.  Series of Unfortunate Events

I read the first, but just didn’t like how unfortunate everything is!  Should I try again?

4.  Ghost and the Goth

This is a fun quirky book.  And although I was at first disappointed that there is a second book – why can’t authors just finish the story in one?  It was a fun one and I should get the second for the library.

5.  Lord of the Rings

I actually read The Hobbit, which technically isn’t part of LOTR, but in my mind it is.  I really enjoyed Farmer Giles of Ham, but this heavy of fantasy just isn’t for me.  Too dense.

6.  Work and the Glory

I’m a lapsed Mormon and have read some of these, but good Lord!  Talk about preachy – and I thought that even when I wasn’t a lapsed Mormon.

7.  The Great Brain Adventures

I read a lot as a kid and this is one of the few that I remember reading.  Actually, that’s not true – when I read it as an adult, I realized that I’d read it as a child.  What fun!  I did go back and read several of them, but not all.  Fun reads, I wish they were still popular for kids.

8.  The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency

The problem with this book is I have no idea where I left off! 



Here’s a great site to look for book series you may have met.

Top Ten Bookish People I’d Like to Meet

I’m getting into this daily blogging . . . we’ll see if it holds!

10. John Grisham

I’d  tell John Grisham how his books are the only ones that I’ve ever stayed up literally all night long reading.  I’d also say how his books for children, like Theodore Boone, Kid Lawyer, have helped me connect with reluctant readers at my elementary school library.  And I’d finally mention that it wasn’t my fault that The Firm was cancelled on NBC – I was a loyal viewer!
9. Rick Bragg

I would tell Rick Bragg that, despite all the bad press he’s gotten the past few years, I still think he has the most authentic voice I’ve ever read.  I thought All Over But the Shoutin’ was a perfect book, that it needed nothing more.  Then I read Ava’s Man, which completed the story I had thought was finished. 
8. Seth Grahame-Smith

I would tell Seth Graham-Smith that I hate vampire books.  Seriously, I hate them.  Dracula scared me, and Twilight, well, let’s not talk about that.  With that said, I loved, loved, LOVED Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter.  So why did he ruin a great book?  Here’s my review of the movie – which, all in all, I admit isn’t that bad.  But I’m still mad at him about it. 
7. Dav Pilkey

I would tell Dav Pilkey how I love to share Captain Underpants with students.  I love to see their face when I tell them that I love Captain Underpants myself.  I remember working at the Sioux City Public Library and a woman and a boy sitting at a table, laughing uproariously.  I had to see what was so funny, and I wasn’t surprised that it was Captain Underpants.  Dav Pilkey is genius. 
6. David Wiesner

Have you ever seen a more beautiful book than Flotsam by David Wiesner?  I know I haven’t.
5. J.K. Rowling

 I’d love to talk to J.K. Rowling and ask her how she got motivated to write.  I want to want to write, if that makes sense.  This will be my third year at NaNoWriMo.  Will the third time be the charm?  I’d also love to see my kids have a conversation with her.  They are much bigger Harry Potter fans nerds than I am.
4. Gary Paulsen

I have a lot of favorites when it comes to books, but my all-time favorite book is My Life in Dog Years.   I read this last year with a few classes of elementary students.  It’s the perfect book for that, as you can read a chapter in about fifteen minutes and then not pick it up again for months and months.  My favorite story is about Ike, and I could read it a hundred times and it would still make me cry. 
3. Kate DiCamillo

This is the one bookish person on my list that I’ve already met!  I went to a book reading a signing at Davis Kidd Bookstore in Nashville in 2000 to support DiCamillo’s first book, Because of Winn Dixie.  I’ve read all her books, but the most special one to me is The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane, the story of a special china rabbit dollI talked about why in my successful application to be a book giver for last year’s World Book Night.

2.  Carl Hiaasen

My favorite author, bar none, is Carl Hiaasen.  His books for adults are saucy fun, and his books for children?  I love that they have the same setting – modern day Florida – and theme – stick it to the man.  (Okay, perhaps not exactly, unless the man is some egotistical environment-hating man.)  I love how he puts “Easter eggs” into his books for children for people like me who read both.  His books are always checked out my school library.  What can I say?  I love to book talk them!
1.  Tori Ross

And finally, my favorite bookish person, Tori Ross – or Miss Tori, as she’s better known – the children’s librarian at the Edmondson Pike branch of the Nashville Public Library.  She is my role model, my mentor, my hero, my friend.  (And had I known, I could have met both Carl Hiaasen and seen Tori for the first time in ten years!  In March, not sure how I could have convinced my superintendent that I needed to go to the national Public Library Association conference, but . . . )