Monday, August 29, 2011

A Few Changes...

It has been such fun, but I've come to realize Bookie Woogie will not last forever.  Oh, we'll keep posting for a good while.  But eventually, someday, we'll have to wind down.  Running Bookie Woogie really is a part time job for me.  I easily commit over 10 hours a week to the site, and it's an activity that doesn't put food on the table.

Bookie Woogie has been a labor of love.  Love for books.  Love for art.  But above all, love for my kids.  And those things won't ever change.  We'll always love books.  We'll always love art.  I'll always love, love, love my kids.  But... I may not have the ability to share all that with the public week to week.

I'm incredibly proud that up to this point, as long as Bookie Woogie has been running, we've updated with new content *every *single *week without missing once!  Of course there was that planned hiatus (the hiatus was planned... the length of the hiatus was not foreseen).  But for the 135 weeks on either side of that, we've had new content each and every week.  135 weeks!  Hip, hip!

But... that's the main thing that's going to change.  I've loved providing a blog with a reliable schedule.  Every Monday.  Like clockwork.  But I can't keep that up.  So moving forward, our posts will start showing up randomly.  It's not ideal, but it will enable us to carry on.

The mix of kids may be different too.  Isaac's starting to get all teenager-y... he still reads a ton, but he's off with friends a lot more, has a fuller schedule... reviewing has become trickier.  So for some reviews we might have 4 kids weighing in, other reviews 3 or 2 or 1.

Hopefully there are fun things to do on the site if ever there's a long stretch between reviews.  We've got a big Archive over there to the right.  And there's a huge post compiling 200 of my personal favorite books... almost 150 of which we haven't reviewed yet.  And I'm updating this Fan Art post on an ongoing basis.  And I plan to keep adding to this Wall Art one as well.

We're still excited about Bookie Woogie and hope you are too!  I've got at least 12 books that come to mind immediately that we're committed to reviewing.  And we have 2 Author Interviews already scheduled.  And we are always discovering more and more favorites.  So we've still got a good long ride ahead of us.  I just wanted to give a heads up about the changes coming:

Bookie Woogie is going to be less about having a review every Monday for Monday's sake, and more about sharing the very best books we discover when they cross our paths.

Thanks for sharing the journey with us!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Review #106: Fablehaven

From time to time we'll break from our regular group review format and check in with the kiddos One-on-One to see what they've been reading on their own.  Today we hear from Isaac!

Dad:  What have you been reading dude?
Isaac (age 12):  The Fablehaven series.  By Brandon Mull.
Dad:  You are flying through them.
Isaac:  I usually get through each book in a day or two.
Dad:  You've been wanting to read these forever.  How are you liking them?
Isaac:  They are great.  I like the action and the adventure.
Dad: Do tell...
Isaac:  These kids named Seth and Kendra go to their grandpa's house.  At first they are bored.  But then they find out that their grandpa works on a preserve for magical creatures.
Dad:  Are they new made-up creatures, or are they creatures from mythology?
Isaac:  Mostly creatures from mythology, but there are a few new things.  Like nipsies.  Those are kind of like brownies, but they are the size of flies.  There are goblins and hobgoblins - which are very different from each other.  There are giants that are 30 feet high and eat yaks.  There are centaurs which are really cool, but they are kind of stuck-up.  There are a lot of dryads - water dryads, tree dryads, everything dryads.  There's a dragon that is really awesome.
Dad:  It sounds like a lot of the same creatures as in the Spiderwick books.
Isaac:  It's a lot like Spiderwick.  You even need special abilities to see the creatures.
Dad:  Really?
Isaac:  The creatures are always invisible to people, which is what helps them stay preserved.  They are invisible unless you have this special milk from a giant 30 foot cow.
Dad:  Yikes.  Milk?
Isaac:  Or if you have walrus butter.
Dad:  Walrus?  Butter?
Isaac:  Yeah.
Dad:  Does it feel like the series copies Spiderwick?
Isaac:  No.  It has a different storyline.  The "invisible" part is the only thing that's really the same.
Dad:  So, why do you like books with fantasy creatures so much?
Isaac:  It's good inspiration for stuff I make.  I love the creatures.  I like the designs.  It gives me ideas for stories and pictures and for building little creatures.
Dad:  Could Brandon Mull tell the same kind of stories using all zoo animals instead?
Isaac:  It wouldn't be as good.  Stories with zoo animals would have to be more realistic.  But with made up creatures, anything can happen.  A dragon can breathe fire.
Dad:  You could get away with featuring a talking polar bear, but it probably wouldn't breathe fire.  With real creatures, to some degree you're stuck with things that make sense according to science.
Isaac:  But you can do anything with fantasy creatures.
Dad:  No limitations.
Isaac:  Like, there are these balls that live in caves.  Little yellow fluffy pompom things that float around in caves, hundreds of them.  They explode into gasses and disintegrate people.
Dad:  Now, are these things a mix of good creatures and bad creatures?  Or are they all neutral like animals?
Isaac:  There technically aren't good creatures and bad creatures.  But they might seem that way to people.  Like... a bear or a man-eating lion or a killer bee.  A bear would attack you if you got to close to its cubs.  People don't like some animals because they will attack you or bother you, but they are not "evil."
Dad:  But there are some bad guys in the books, right?
Isaac:  Some characters are pure evil.  But the books don't make them too freaky... not like wet-your-pants-freaky.
Dad:  What kind of creatures are those?
Isaac:  Werewolves and vampires and a genie who is evil.  Under the house they have a jail for all the bad creatures - creatures that have been transformed purposefully for the point of evil.  There are these goblins who run the jail.  And they made this stuff called glop that they feed everyone.  Glop is a mixture of any junk they can find.
Dad:  Now, you haven't finished the series yet.  You are taking a little break?
Isaac:  Yeah, I'm on book 4.  But there are a couple other books I want to read, so I'm taking a break.
Dad:  What are you reading now?
Isaac:  "This Present Darkness."  Our youth pastor told us about it.
Dad:  I read that when I was right around your age.  I was probably a year or two older.
Isaac:  Did you like it?
Dad:  Oh yeah.  Quite a lot.  But, back to Fablehaven...  I'm wondering, would girls like these books as much as boys?
Isaac:  Girls would like them too.  Especially the first book.  Because there are fairies, and the main character is a girl.
Dad:  How about me?
Isaac:  Oh yeah, you would really like them.  You would love Fablehaven.

goblin jailer serving glop, by Isaac

Author: Brandon Mull
Published 2006-2010: Shadow Mountain
Like them?  Here they are

Monday, August 15, 2011

Review #105: The Watcher

Gracie (age 11):  Oh wow, this book is amazing.
Isaac (age 12):  It is called "The Watcher."  It's about Jane Goodall.
Elijah (age 5):  Her job was to watch the chimpanzees.
Dad:  Did you know about Jane Goodall before we read this?
Isaac:  I knew that she liked monkeys.  But now I know a lot more.
Dad:  She's a pretty famous scientist.
Lily (age 8):  Then why didn't I know about her?
Dad:  Well, now you do.
Gracie:  She's amazing.  I can't believe that Jane Goodall went out there and studied the chimps and worked to save them.  She even got Fever and she wouldn't go home.  Jan Goodall is all good.
Lily:  When she was a kid, she sat in a hen house.
Gracie:  She sat in there for hours and hours watching chickens until they laid eggs.  She liked to watch and learn about animals.
Lily:  When she grew up, she saved her money to buy a ticket to go to Africa.  And she got a job watching monkeys.
Elijah:  At first... no chimpanzees for her.  They were hiding from her.  But she didn't give up, so then she got to see them.  One hundred chimps.
Lily:  And she named them.  One she named David Greybeard.
Isaac:  She learned that chimps use tools.  Nobody knew that before her.
Elijah:  It's not exactly like tools that we use.  It was a "stick" tool.
Dad:  They don't go buy tools at a store.
Elijah:  Noooooo.  Because they're just chimpanzees.
Dad:  What else did she learn?
Elijah:  She learned that chimps eat meat.  I thought they only eat bananas.  But now I know they also eat plants and meat.  She learned they hit each other.  And kiss.
Lily:  Now I don't want a pet chimpanzee anymore.
Dad:  Because you learned that they are endangered?
Lily:  But I would still kind of want David Greybeard.
Evangeline (age 3):  Lily, if you take a pet monkey, then you don't get a fishy.
Dad:  She can only pick one pet?
Lily:  Mommy hates monkeys, so it will have to be a fish.
Dad:  Now, how old was Jane at the beginning of the book?
Gracie:  Five.
Dad:  How old was she when the book ended?
Lily:  Old enough to have gray hair.  Like, "Grammy" old.
Dad:  So the author of this book, Jeanette Winter, had a challenge.  She had to pick and choose events from out of a whole lifetime and fit them into just 40 pages.  If someone else was writing this book, they could have chosen completely different details.
Gracie:  There was another person who wrote one.
Dad:  That's right, you remember.  We got "Me... Jane" from the library a few months ago.
Lily:  Yeah, it was about Jane as a kid.
Dad:  One author, Patrick McDonnell, chose to focus on Jane's childhood.  This author, Jeanette Winter, decided to pick stories from throughout her life.  That's the cool thing about writing.  A writer is a chooser.  Their stories are shaped by both what they say AND what they don't say.  It gives even more importance to what is included when we think about how many choices had to be made.
Lily:  If both authors picked the same things, they would practically have the same book.
Dad:  But can you see how that would be almost impossible?  Jeanette Winter is a completely unique person.  She's going to be drawn to specific things that interest her.
Isaac:  I think her art is awesome.  It's full of big patterns... the monkeys' fur... the trees on the hills.  I love this style.
Dad:  Would you guys like to go out and watch animals?
Elijah:  Not animals that are dangerous.  Hyenas?  No.  Lions?  No.  I would watch dogs.  And cats.
Dad:  Well, what did Jane start out with when she was 5 years old like you?
Elijah:  Chickens.
Dad:  Maybe you could start by watching a chicken.
Elijah:  I don't want to.  I'll start out with birds.  I mean bird birds.  Like robins.  Then I'll move to chimps.  And THEN chickens.  And then, even though they are dangerous, I'll do dinosaurs.  I'll build something that can go back then, and I can watch dinosaurs.
Dad:  Did this book inspire you in any ways?
Isaac:  It makes me want to be more patient when I go deer scouting.
Lily:  It made me excited to learn more about Jane Goodall.  It's kind of like when a commercial makes you want to watch a movie.  This book is like a commercial for Jane Goodall's life.

chimpanzees, by Lily

David Greybeard, by Elijah

Jane Goodall, by Gracie

Author/Illustrator: Jeanette Winter
Published 2011: Schwartz & Wade Books
Like it?  Here it is

Monday, August 8, 2011

5 Year CNLT Celebration

Illustrator friends:  I'd like to let you know about a fun little celebration going on right now at the kids' other blog Chicken Nugget Lemon Tooty!  The month of August marks 5 years (wow!) that I've been archiving the kiddos' art over there.  To celebrate, we are hosting an open call for artists to dip into the big archive (over 650 drawings) and create a piece of Fan Art for the Z-Kids.  It's kind of like what we've been doing with Fan Art for years here on Bookie Woogie, only this time the roles are reversed!  I did a few pictures myself, and it was a blast.  If you enjoy what the the Z-Kids have been doing and want to give them a little treat, I invite you to play along!  You can check out the fun Here.

Since I'm over here on Bookie Woogie, I should mention that many of the participants so far are children's book illustrators: J.C. Phillipps, Nina Crittenden, Deborah Freedman, Joost Haakman, Z-Dad, Chris Kennett, Charise Harper, and Jarrett Krosoczka:

The post will be continually updated, so be sure to stop back over there every once in a while to see what's been added!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Review #104: The Complete Peanuts

From time to time we'll break from our regular group review format and check in with the kiddos One-on-One to see what they've been reading on their own.  Today we hear from Gracie!

Dad:  Hello Gracie.
Gracie (age 11):  Hi Daddy.
Dad:  What have you been reading?
Gracie:  Peanuts!  The Complete Peanuts collection.  With good ol' Charlie Brown.
Dad:  The complete collection!  Do you know how long that comic strip ran?
Gracie:  Forever.  Ha ha ha!
Dad:  Where are we finding these books?
Gracie:  You are getting them for me from the library.
Dad:  We are so lucky that our library has been collecting these.  They're really expensive books, and we'd probably never see them otherwise.  How many volumes have you read?
Gracie:  All 15 books that they have so far.
Dad:  The publisher is working their way through the series, and so far they've released all the comics from 1950 through 1980.  That's 31 years worth!  That's over 11,000 individual episodes!
Gracie:  Ho ho ho hah!  My goal is to read all of the Peanuts comics ever made.  That's my dream.
Dad:  So, would you consider yourself a Charlie Brown expert with 11,000 episodes under your belt?
Gracie:  Oh yeah.  You could ask me anything.
Dad:  Tell us how the strip was different at the beginning than it turned out later on.
Gracie:  Well, a few characters were deleted, and a ton of new ones were added.  Violet, Patty, and Shermy went away.  Also, at the beginning Snoopy just ate and slept and didn't think at all.  It was two or three books before he started having thought bubbles.  Now he likes to play tennis and go to Woodstock's New Year's parties.
Dad:  Lots of new characters get introduced as babies, don't they?
Gracie:  Lucy was a little baby.  Schroeder was a baby.  Linus was a baby.  Sally was a baby.  When Sally was born, Charlie Brown ran out of the house... "Guys! I'm a father!  No wait - my dad is a father!  Again!"
Dad:  Do you have a favorite character?
Gracie:  Lucy.  Because Baby Lucy was just like Baby Me.  But now she's the bossy person who has to have her way all the time.
Dad:  A great role model...
Gracie:  Then there's Linus who has a blanket and sucks his thumb.  He's babyish, but he's really, really smart.  And he always quotes from the Bible.
Dad:  Who else?
Gracie:  Charlie Brown!  He's the one who thinks, "Life is going bad... I'm an awful person... Nothing good ever happens to me..."
Dad:  Would you be friends with him?
Gracie:  I would.  I love him.  My love for him goes to the ceiling of a skyscraper.  But nothing good ever happens to him ever.  Once he won a race -- that's probably the only thing he's ever won.  And the prize was 5 free haircuts...
Dad:  Ha!
Gracie:  He's only got a twist of hair in front.  And he's like, "Five free haircuts?  I don't have much hair to cut!  And even if I did... my dad is a barber!"
Dad:  Poor Charlie Brown.
Gracie:  Yeah, nothing good ever happens to him.  He's always getting teased for his perfectly round head.
Dad:  Tell me about Snoopy.
Gracie:  Snoopy!  He's the dog, and he doesn't know Charlie Brown's name.  He's always like, "Who? You mean that round headed kid that feeds me..."
Dad:  Ha ha -- I read the one when Charlie Brown comes back from the hospital...
Gracie:  Yeah!  And he's like, "Snoopy!  I'm finally here!  I missed you so bad that whole time!  I'm so glad to see you again!"  Then after he leaves, Snoopy thinks, "Now I remember... He's that round headed kid that used to feed me."
Dad:  Poor, poor Charlie Brown.
Gracie:  Snoopy has a lot of identities: Joe Cool, Joe Sporty, Joe Astronaut, World War I Flying Ace...  He's got thousands of disguises.
Dad:  Out of all 11,000 comics you've read, do you have a favorite?  Or is it too hard to pick one?
Gracie:  Well, I have a favorite book.
Dad:  Oh?  Which one?
Gracie:  Actually, it's one where all these bad things happen.  Charlie Brown gets hit by a car.  And he almost got fired from being a crossing guard.  Then Linus and Lucy move away.  And Woodstock has to fly South so Snoopy might not see him again ever.
Dad:  Goodness, why so many sad things?
Gracie:  Apparently a lot of bad things were going on in the author's life.  Schulz. 
Something Schulz.
Dad:  Charles.
Gracie:  Yeah.  A lot of bad things were going on in his life, so he expressed them in his drawings.
Dad:  Why did you like that book so much if so many awful things happened?
Gracie:  I don't know.  Because every time the terrible things ended, he'd have one of the funniest comics in history.
Dad:  Now... "Charles."  Charles Schulz...  Charlie Brown...  Do you think it's significant that they have the same name?
Gracie:  Maybe things didn't go well in his life.  Or maybe he was bald.  Or maybe Charles Schulz had a round head.
Dad:  These were made a long time ago -- some of them 60 years ago.  Why do you think you dig something so old?  Does it say something about you?  Or does it say something about the timelessness of these comics?
Gracie:  I live for the classics.
Dad:  Do you think other kids would like them too, or do you think you're an oddball?
Gracie:  Out of my friends, half of them don't even know who Charlie Brown is.  They know Snoopy and Woodstock.  But I had to explain Charlie Brown.
Dad:  Poor Charlie Brown.
Gracie:  But my friends would love them too if they could read the books.
Dad:  Is this your favorite comic?  Do you know any other comic strips?
Gracie:  This is the order of my favorite comic strips: I like the "Peanuts" comics, "Little Nemo in Slumberland," and "Calvin and Hobbes."
Dad:  I think you have good taste.  Now, are you going to try to draw a new Peanuts episode for your Fan Art this week?
Gracie:  No, I'm afraid I might come up with an idea, and not realize it is actually one that I've already read.  And plus, Charles Schulz doesn't want anyone else making his comic.
Dad:  Tell everybody about your birthday party last week...
Gracie:  The theme was Charlie Brown!  We decorated things like Charlie Brown.  I drew faces on balloons.  Isaac decorated with streamers that were zigzags like on Charlie Brown's shirt.  And we had Charlie Brown games that I made up, like "Pin the Frown on Charlie Brown."  And you made a Snoopy cake.
Dad:  Do you want to say anything to the people compiling these books?  Because that's a BIG undertaking for the publisher... committing to every Peanuts comic ever made, coming out with another volume every few months.
Gracie:  I don't know how many people read these books... but one girl LOVES them.  Thank you for making these!
Dad:  Real quick... What are you reading in the meantime while you wait for them to release the next volume?
Gracie:  I'm reading the books you got me for my birthday.  "Year of the Dog" and "Year of the Rat" by Grace Lin.  They're good.
Dad:  Thanks for the one-on-one chat, Gracie!  I love you!
Gracie:  And I love Charlie Brown!
Dad:  What?  Thanks a lot...
Gracie:  Ha ha ha!
Dad:  You make me feel like poor ol' Charlie Brown.
Gracie:  Hee hee hee!
Dad:  I'm certainly never going to kick a football that you're holding.
Gracie:  Ha ha!  I love Charlie Brown AND you!

the Peanuts gang, by Gracie

Author/Illustrator: Charles Schulz
Comics Published: 1950-2000
Books Published, 2004-present: Fantagraphics Books
Like them?  Here they are