Childish Nonsense

Exploring Children's Literature

Happy St. Patrick’s Day

on March 17, 2013

Next Saturday, I will be helping run the Twentieth Anniversary Celebration for the Maryland/Delaware/ West Virginia region of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI). I’m very excited for this event for several reasons.

One, the region is going strong, making me think that the more and more people are trying to make sure that quality literature is available for children. Without quality literature, children will not want to read and will learn nothing. As the registrar for this event, I can tell you I was worried we were going to top 200 participants.

Two, the speakers are exciting. T.A. Barron writes some of the best fantasy around. His Merlin series is worth a look for everyone. Paul O. Zelinsky gets mentioned at the Caldecott competition nearly every year for a reason. He’s good. Stephen Mooser is not only a co-founder of SCBWI, but writes really funny books.

Three, after this conference, my friend Sue Peters and I will become the new Co-Regional Advisors. Edie Hemingway has been Regional Advisor for three years now and has done a fantastic job. Lois Szymanski has been her helpmate for a good portion of that time. Lois is also a prior Regional Advisor They both deserve a break. So, Sue and I have been working on the next conference already – scheduled for September 21 and 22.

In the meantime, here are a couple of books I read this week.


Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar ChildrenMiss Peregrine
Written by Ransom Riggs
It’s no coincidence that the word peculiar appears in the title of this fantasy. Far beyond pointing out that photographs don’t always show the reality of the pictured situation, Riggs turns this concept over and asks what would happen if the reality actually fit what was shown in peculiar photographs. What if a child could levitate? What if another child were invisible? What if a bee charmer had bees in his stomach? And so on. For his entire life, sixteen-year-old Jake has heard about the monsters from his grandfather. Most people either say the old man is crazy or add their own interpretation based on his war experiences. When he witnesses the grandfather’s death at the hands of a monster, Jake is sent on a journey to find the source of the stories. What he finds are the peculiar children. Fascinating story for those who like the truly weird.
Reviewed by Sue Poduska
Quirkbooks, 2011
Young adult, fantasy.
Hardcover, 352 pages
ISBN: 978-1-59474-476-1



The One and Only IvanIvan
Written by Katherine Applegate
I’m so glad the Newbery Committee agreed with me. This is a good book. Getting into a gorilla’s head is not an easy exercise. I wonder if Ms. Applegate knuckle walked (her words) for the time it took her to write this masterpiece. Actually, all of the characters are wonderful. Ivan lives at a truck stop with Stella, an elephant, and a stray dog named Bob. Mack, the owner, falls on hard financial times and the care for the animals suffers. Trying to shy away from spoilers, I’ll just say Ivan has a major hand in solving the situation. And you know, in a children’s book, things will get better. This is a heartwarming and inspiring look at the treatment of animals that says a lot about humans too.
Reviewed by Sue Poduska
Harper/HarperCollins Books, 2012
Middle reader, Nature.
Hardcover, 305 pages
ISBN: 978-0-06-199225-4

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