Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Powering Down: Blog Break

I'm taking a little blog/Facebook/Twitter break for the rest of the month so I can catch up on a few important things (including sleep!)

Photo by San Diego Shooter

Monday, January 17, 2011

Martin Luther King, Jr: I've Been to the Mountaintop

I've been reading a bit about Martin Luther King Jr's prophetic last speech, given April 3, 1968 in Memphis, Tennessee. It's so important to have heroes like Dr. King. After all the obstacles he came up against, all the resistance, all the threats, he stood strong. On what would be his last night, when he was feeling too ill to speak, he still came up to that microphone to do what he did best. He strengthened others through his words. He gave them power. He was fearless so they could be fearless.

You can read the entire Mountaintop speech at American RadioWorks.

In honor of the day, here are a couple reviews of two excellent children's books about civil rights:
The final words from Dr. King's Mountaintop speech:

Friday, January 14, 2011

Grab Bag Friday: Honey Butter

Oh my. I made cornbread on my snow day and tried a new recipe for honey butter that I found on Relish. It's so unbelievably easy, and so delicious you could theoretically eat it with a spoon. (Okay, maybe I tried that theory out with a spoonful. Or two. Good thing I'm going for a cholesterol test today.)

Honey Butter
1/2 cup butter, softened
4 tablespoons honey
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon butter

Just mash it all up and keep it in a little bowl in your fridge. Try not to eat it all by the spoonful. It's probably not the healthiest choice.

Honey photo by riekhavoc

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Andrew Bird: Oh No

When I was a kid, I always felt sorry for all the poor kids who lived in warm climates and didn't get to have snow days! Today, work was canceled, so I got to spend the day tucked warmly inside, listening to Andrew Bird's Noble Beast, working on my new novel, and making delicious cornbread with honey butter (if it turns out well, I'll post the recipe on Friday). I wish every day could be a snow day!

So you can enjoy a bit of my lovely day, too, here's a cool live version of "Oh No."

Andrew Bird: Oh No

Monday, January 10, 2011

2011 ALA Awards

So today is kind of like the Oscars in the kidlit world. Today, the American Library Association bestows huge names like "Caldecott" and "Newbery" and "Printz" on the best children's books of 2010. The lists came out this morning, to much ballyhoo and celebration.

You can view the complete list of winners at the ALA website, but here are the bits I was most excited about:

A Sick Day for Amos McGeeA Sick Day for Amos McGee by Philip and Erin Stead
Won the Caldecott Medal!
The timeless charm of this book made it a shoo-in if you ask me. You can read my original blog post about Amos here.

One Crazy SummerOne Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia
Won The Coretta Scott King Award and a Newbery Honor Award!
Well-deserved. I loved how Williams-Garcia balanced humor and powerful moments in a story about three young girls who spend a summer at a Black Panthers day camp in the 1960s.
Peter Sis
Won the May Hill Arbuthnot Honor Lecture Award!
I've gushed plenty about Peter Sis on this blog, so I will spare you. If you'd like to read previous posts about the talents of Peter Sis, you may.

And then, of course, there was the wildcard...

Moon Over ManifestThe Newbery Award this year was given to a book I'd never heard of! What? The Moon Over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool was a dark horse. It came out of nowhere and apparently, swept the Newbery Committee off its feet. How cool is that? I love it when the underdog pulls it off in the end. Especially an underdog so off-the-radar (either that, or I'm just that out of the loop). And now I've got a new book on my to-read list.

Congratulations to all!!!

Friday, January 7, 2011

Grab Bag Friday Movie Vault: Dan in Real Life

Dan in Real LifeWednesday, I posted a Sondre Lerche song from the movie Dan in Real Life, so how could I resist posting a clip from the movie today?

This is one of those movies that I can watch over and over again and it's not because it's amazing or mind-blowing. It won't change your life. It's simply a sweet/funny/sad story about Dan, a guy who is trying to raise three daughters, have a career, and find a way to get on with his life after his wife passes away.

Yes, the fact that Steve Carrell is the lead is a huge reason this movie is so great. He is so pathetic and endearing and hilarious as Dan. But the thing that puts it over the edge for me is that it's a movie about family. I come from a family of six kids, and when you're all on top of each other in the same house, nothing is private. Everything is fair game for dinner table conversation and merciless teasing. I can't help but howl with laughter at the way Dan's family tries to get involved with his parenting, his work, and his love life. This clip (while a bit mean to poor Ruthie Draper) is a perfect example. The song cracks me up every time.

Dan in Real Life: The Ruthie Pig-face Draper Scene

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Sondre Lerche: My Hands Are Shaking

Over the break, Kevin and I spent a fair amount of time on the couch in our pajamas watching movies. We pulled out old John Cusack chestnuts, black-and-white screwball comedies, and new documentaries. When it's snowing buckets outside, there's nothing better than being cozy inside with tea and Christmas cookies and a stack (or Netflix instant queue) full of good movies.

One of my picks was Dan in Real Life, which is one of my favorites of the past few years. Watching it again reminded me how much music can make a movie. Norwegian singer/songwriter Sondre Lerche did all the music for the film, and I think it was a perfect match. I love the movie because it is lighthearted and silly, but with an underlying tension and sadness that feels very real. Kind of like this song exactly:

Sondre Lerche: My Hands Are Shaking

Monday, January 3, 2011

My Holiday Wish Came True

Thanks to so many of you excellent elves, my holiday wish for clean water for 100 people by 2011 has been granted!

In fact, through my Give Water Get Music campaign, we raised enough to provide clean water for one hundred and SIX people, which is even better than I'd hoped.

I sent out stacks of CDs to thank everyone who helped, and still I want to say it again:

If you'd like to learn more about the world's water issues and what you can do to help, please visit charity:water.