Tag Archives: Neil Gaiman

R.I.P. Ursula K. LeGuin

24 Jan

I think Neil sums up nicely why fans are mourning.

This week’s book talks 12/11-15

15 Dec

Everyone is feeling tired at school – kids and teachers – so I looked for books with some sort of visual eye candy.

MondayOdd and the Frost Giants by Neil Gaiman, illustrated by Brett Helquist

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Tuesday – The Harlem Charade by Natasha Tarpley – I liked the banners on each chapter.

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Wednesday – I, Funny by James Patterson and Chris Grabenstein

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Thursday – Ninja Timmy  written and illustrated by Henrik Tamm

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Friday – The Loser List: Revenge of the Loser by H. N. Kowitt

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This week’s book talks 10/30-11/3

3 Nov

I chose spooky books for Halloween week!

Monday,  I shared Thornhill by Pam Smy

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Tuesday, Halloween, I went witchy, with The Apprentice Witch  by James Nicol.

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Wednesday, I talked about Neil Gaiman’s eerie The Ocean at the End of the Lane.

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Friday is the end of the quarter, and a day without students so we can write progress reports. That meant that my last book talk was on Thursday, when I talked about How to Catch a Bogle  by Catherine Jinks.

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This week’s book talks 10/9-13

13 Oct

It is Newbery week!

Monday: The 2007 Newbery Winner The Higher Power of Lucy by Susan Patron

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Tuesday: The 2009 Newbery Winner The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

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Wednesday: The 1997 Newbery Winner The View From Saturday by E. L. Konigsburg

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Next, I began talking about Newbery Honor books. I’d never before noticed the difference between the winner’s  medal and the honor book medal. It turns out, the winner gets the front of the medal, in gold. The honor book get a silver medal showing the back of the medal. Who knew!

Thursday’s book was Wolf Hollow by Lauren Wolk.

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Finally, Friday’s book was The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate  by Jacqueline Kelly. I noticed some similarities between the covers of these last two books.

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Dancing Around Yggdrasil

24 Apr

In case you don’t know, Yggdrasil is the ash tree that lies at the center of the Norse conception of the cosmos. It is also a pattern for a blanket  I’d like to knit some day.

It would be the perfect blanket to snuggle under while you immersed yourself in Neil Gaiman’s Norse Mythology.

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Publisher’s Summary: Introducing an instant classic—master storyteller Neil Gaiman presents a dazzling version of the great Norse myths.

Neil Gaiman has long been inspired by ancient mythology in creating the fantastical realms of his fiction. Now he turns his attention back to the source, presenting a bravura rendition of the great northern tales.

In Norse Mythology, Gaiman stays true to the myths in envisioning the major Norse pantheon: Odin, the highest of the high, wise, daring, and cunning; Thor, Odin’s son, incredibly strong yet not the wisest of gods; and Loki—son of a giant—blood brother to Odin and a trickster and unsurpassable manipulator.

Gaiman fashions these primeval stories into a novelistic arc that begins with the genesis of the legendary nine worlds and delves into the exploits of deities, dwarfs, and giants. Once, when Thor’s hammer is stolen, Thor must disguise himself as a woman—difficult with his beard and huge appetite—to steal it back. More poignant is the tale in which the blood of Kvasir—the most sagacious of gods—is turned into a mead that infuses drinkers with poetry. The work culminates in Ragnarok, the twilight of the gods and rebirth of a new time and people.

Through Gaiman’s deft and witty prose emerge these gods with their fiercely competitive natures, their susceptibility to being duped and to duping others, and their tendency to let passion ignite their actions, making these long-ago myths breathe pungent life again.

I listened to the  audiobook, narrated by the author. I love that fact that Neil Gaiman is the best reader of his own books and deigns to read them for us.

Before I began, I wondered how much  license Gaiman would take with the traditional tales, but I need not have worried. He retells the tales the way a long ago skald might have done it. He tells the tale in his own style, but sticks very close to his source material.

If you know any kids reading Rick Riordan’s Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard series, this would be an excellent source to understand all the deities, creatures and characters Magnus encounters in his adventures.

Happy Hallow Reads

31 Oct

Last week, I book talked five books with some Halloweenie connection.

The scariest book was the first one, Coraline,  by Neil Gaiman.

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I admitted to the kids that I had never read the book or seen the movie. I told them that Iknew enough about Gaiman and the book to know that it twists reality in a way that seems eerily possible and that seemed to intrigue a few students.

Next up was Raina Telgemeier’s Ghosts, a graphics novel to steer us into safer territory, since I don’t really read scary books.

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Many students had read Telgemeier’s other books and that was enough of a recommendation.

On Wednesday, I told them about My Zombie Hamster, by Havelock McCreely. Zombies and humor seem a perfect combination for sixth graders.

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Thursday, I told them about a new one in our classroom library, The Accidental Afterlife of Thomas Marsden by Emma Trevayne. This book gave me a chance to explain a little of the history of grave robbers.

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The last book I told them about was one of this year’s OBOB books: Zombie Baseball Beatdown  by Paolo Bacigalupi.

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I’m not yet sure what I will book talk today. I think I will decide once I am in my classroom. I will take a few minutes to leaf through the book bins and choose the 5 books of the week.

 

 

Why we read

2 Oct

In 2013, Neil Gaiman delivered a speech entitled “Why Our Future Depends on Libraries, Reading and Daydreaming” to The Reading Agency in London. You can watch the speech on Youtube,  listen watch and read the text on The Reading Agency’s website, or simply hold the text in your hands and read it, along with many other essays, in Gaiman’s recent collection of essays, The View From the Cheap Seats. 

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I highly recommend that you make the effort to see what Gaiman has t say on this topic. You will nod your head in agreement because, if you read this blog, you are a reader.

Oliver Jeffers and Sam Winston clearly believe in the same power of books and reading. His new picture boo, A Child of Books,  says the same thing as Gaiman, though in simpler language.

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Publisher’s Summary: New York Times best-selling author-illustrator Oliver Jeffers and fine artist Sam Winston deliver a lyrical picture book inspiring readers of all ages to create, to question, to explore, and to imagine.

A little girl sails her raft across a sea of words, arriving at the house of a small boy and calling him away on an adventure. Through forests of fairy tales and across mountains of make-believe, the two travel together on a fantastical journey that unlocks the boy’s imagination. Now a lifetime of magic and adventure lies ahead of him . . . but who will be next? Combining elegant images by Oliver Jeffers and Sam Winston’s typographical landscapes shaped from excerpts of children’s classics and lullabies, A Child of Books is a stunning prose poem on the rewards of reading and sharing stories—an immersive and unforgettable reading experience that readers will want to pass on to others.

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Where will your reading take you today?

Enter at your own risk

30 Oct

I’ve been listening to Neil Gaiman’s Trigger Warning during my commute this week.

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Gaiman is not only the author, he is the reader. Not all authors should read their world on an audiobook, but Neil Gaiman definitely should.

Everytime I read Neil Gaiman, I think I should read more Neil Gaiman, which is how I ended up getting this audiobook. I put it on hold after finishing the last one.

The subtitle of Trigger Warning is Short fiction and Other Disturbances and it is apt.It is a collection of works, most, if not all, having been published elsewhere. So far, five discs in, none have been scary. They have all been the perfect accompaniment to my 30 minute commute in the dark week before Halloween: my Halloween candy.

The longest piece in the book is the introduction and so far, that has been my favorite part. Gaiman reflects on writing, Ray Bradbury, life and literature.

Here is a taste of what the book holds; two stories, just for this Halloween eve.

Stepping off the Path with Neil Gaiman

23 Jan

Have you read Neil Gaiman’s article in the Guardian entitled Why our future depends on libraries, reading and daydreaming ? It made the rounds in the library and FB world. Perhaps it landed within your universe, too. If you haven’t read it, please do.

I must admit that I haven’t loved everything Neil Gaiman has written. I don’t think one has to love everything an author writes. But I am currently  listening to Neil Gaiman’s  book  The Ocean at the End of the Lane and I am entranced.

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 At first, I thought it was Alan Rickman reading. I love Alan Rickman’s voice. But it wasn’t him.

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I was pleasantly surprised to find out it was Mr. Gaiman himself. I like hearing authors reading their own work well.

Can I just tell you that this book has me entranced. The story is a little scary for me, but here’s why I can keep listening: Gaiman isn’t graphic. He takes aspects of real life and twists it just enough to make it eerie. Even though I know the events in the book can’t really happen, it seems like they could, especially if I were 7 years old, like the narrator. Gaiman really captures the essence of his unnamed protagonist. Another character has one of my favorite names in a long time: Lettie Hempstock. I like how it rolls off my tongue.

And then there is Gaiman’s beautiful prose. I loved this line the best:

Adults are content to walk the same way, hundreds of times, or thousands; perhaps it never occurs to adults to step off the paths, to creep beneath rhododendrons, to find the spaces between fences.

When was the last time you stepped off the path?

Of JAWS, Neil Gaiman, and the funny things dads do

2 Dec

My Uncle Don died in the summer of 1975. The funeral was far away (Timmins I think) and Mom went to the funeral, alone,  by train. She left us my twin sister and I alone with Dad for a week. Before she left she packed the freezer full of casseroles and gave explicit directions to everyone. We managed pretty well. The best weird thing that happened way that Dad took us to the drive-in theater. Guess what was playing.

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That wouldn’t have happened if Mom had been home.

In Fortunately, the Milk, his new book for young readers, Neil Gaiman explores the idea of what might happen when Mom is gone and Dad is left in charge.

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Like my mother, the mother of the story leaves two kids alone with their dad. She also leaves instructions and a freezer full of food. Gaiman’s mom leaves with the ominous reminder “Oh, and we’re almost out of milk. You’ll need to pick some up.”

They make it through the first night, but the first boring, Dad uses up all the milk in his coffee so there is none for the kids’ cereal. “You poor children,” he said. “I will walk down to the shop on the corner. I will get milk.”

The poor children have to wait a long time. When their father finally returns he has a story to tell that will knock your sicks off. His adventure is filled with hot air balloons, dinosaurs, aliens, ponies, vampires and a talking volcano. This is a fun and quirky adventure. It is also a short read that is enhanced by Skottie Young’s illustrations.

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This would be a fun read a loud and I can imagine kids writing their own tale about what happens when someone other than their main caregiver is left in charge of their home.

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