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Wednesday Afternoon Visits: Valentine's Day, Anne Shirley, and Countdown to the Cybils

Cybils2007whiteHappy day before Valentine's Day, and day before the Cybils announcements! (If you're reading this on Thursday, they are probably already here). I've been delinquent in keeping you up to date on Kidlitosphere news, due to my recent travels, but I have saved up lots of interesting tidbits for you.

  • Before Green GablesFirst off, a not to be missed podcast for all of the Anne Shirley fans out there. In celebration of the 100 year anniversary of the release of Anne of Green Gables, Just One More Book! talks with Before Green Gables (the new prequel) "author Budge Wilson, editor Helen Reeves, LM granddaughter Kate Macdonald Butler, the Right and Honourable Adrienne Clarkson, LM Montgomery expert Betsy Epperly, publicist Alina Goldstein and the many voices of Anne Shirley enthusiasts." Did you know that there's going to be an Anne Shirley quarter released in Canada? And it's nice to know that LM Montgomery's family has been involved with this prequel from the start. But what's really wonderful about this podcast is listening to various fans talk about why they love Anne - I swear she's more alive to her fans than if she was ever real. Go listen. You won't regret the time, I promise. And for the record, Mark has convinced me to read Before Green Gables.
  • And speaking of anniversaries, February 12th was the 199th anniversary of the birth of Charles Darwin. Becky has a comprehensive post about Darwin at Farm School, with simply tons of links and book recommendations. This post is a tremendous resource for readers, teachers, and Darwin fans everywhere.
  • In a sad piece of book news, I learned from Educating Alice and BookMoot that mystery author Phyllis A. Whitney died this week at 104. It was fitting, however, that I read this news while visiting with my parents, because my mother and I shared a love of Whitney's books when I was younger (along with Victoria Holt, Mary Stewart, and Daphne Du Maurier, as also cited by Camille and Monica). I had actually picked up one of Whitney's teen mysteries at a used bookstore earlier that day, though I didn't end up buying it.
  • Charlotte from Charlotte's Library has a tip for engaging reluctant readers that I haven't seen anywhere before: "on nights when I think it might be a struggle, I communicate only in written notes... And it gets him to read." She also references the use of notes as games to engage children, as illustrated in Elizabeth Enright's Spiderweb for Two.
  • Marjorie's most recent Books at Bedtime post at PaperTigers suggests "two resources which offer parents some tools to help make storytelling a joy for all concerned." She includes this wonderful quote from Australian author Mem Fox: "Please read aloud every day, mums and dads, because you just love being with your child, not because it’s the right thing to do."
  • Jennifer Schultz writes at The Kiddosphere about one of my favorite books: Jim Trelease's The Read-Aloud Handbook. She notes: "Trelease stuffs his handbook with absorbing anecdotes from parents, teachers, librarians, and children. It's a wonderful read, even if you already incorporate reading aloud time in your home or school." I completely agree! Jennifer goes on to talk about two specific titles recommended by Trelease. In an odd coincidence, my local library blog also featured The Read-Aloud Handbook this week. Great minds think alike, I guess.
  • The Horn Book has published a new guide to relatively recently published sports books for kids, organized into categories. Thanks to Read Roger for the link. Food for many a reluctant reader on the list, I'm sure.
  • At Chicken Spaghetti, Susan writes about the neuroscience of Mother Goose. That is, she talks about "Proust and the Squid: The Story and Science of the Reading Brain, by Maryanne Wolf, a cognitive scientist and professor of child development at Tufts. Her book looks at how children learn to read—or, in some cases, why they don't learn to read." It's fascinating stuff.
  • PostergirlzThe newest postergirl for readergirlz, HipWriterMama, has an important post about self-worth, teen dating, and violence awareness. She wrote this in honor of National Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Week, which was last week, but sadly, this information is relevant all the time. She especially urges communication, and closes with this validation: "Love is all about respect and empowerment. Love is about honor. Remember that. Because you deserve to be honored and respected. You are so worth it." A message for Valentine's Day, or any day.
  • Speaking of respect for women, Tasha from Kids Lit links to the 2008 Amelia Bloomer list, which "honors authors and illustrators whose books are feminist and expand the role of girls and women beyond the traditional." However, both Tasha and the awards committee lament the "small number of truly powerful, well-written feminist books for young readers, and by the small number of non-white, non-Western characters."
  • And speaking of non-white characters (well, of non-white authors, anyway), Mitali Perkins has the complete list of the Brown Bookshelf's 28 Days Later series of interviews for Black History Month. She's linked to the first few interviews - you can find the others at The Brown BookShelf. Also for Black History Month, Elaine Magliaro has several lists of relevant poetry and picture book biographies at Wild Rose Reader. You can find links to her wonderful posts, and several others, here.   

I must close by telling you how lucky I feel, reading all of these posts, to be part of such a wonderful community of smart, literate people who care about children and reading. I am truly fortunate, and in awe of the amazing things that all of these people are doing on their blogs and in their book-loving lives. Happy Valentine's Day! I wish you all happiness and chocolate.