Review of Rampant, by Diana Peterfreund


by Diana Peterfreund

HarperTeen (HarperCollins), 2009. 402 pages.
Starred Review
Sonderbooks Stand-out 2010: #1 Fantasy Teen Fiction

In Rampant we learn that, contrary to popular current sentimental beliefs, unicorns are not cuddly, cute, sparkly and sweet. No, Astrid’s mother, whom everyone including Astrid believes is crazy, has taught her since she was small that unicorns are truly vicious, man-eating brutes that are almost impossible to kill. Fortunately, their own relation killed the last unicorn centuries ago.

Astrid is making out with her boyfriend behind the house where she’s babysitting when she learns that everything her mother told her is true, except for the important part about unicorns being extinct. A unicorn comes out of the woods and viciously attacks her boyfriend. Astrid sees that he is clearly dying, but fortunately her mother comes with their ancestral gift, a last bit of the Remedy, and he is cured. But he’s convinced Astrid and her mother drugged him and doesn’t buy her rabid goat story for a moment. Her social life is over.

Fortunately, her mother gives her a chance to get far away. Unfortunately, it’s to take her place as an heir to the powerful tradition of unicorn hunting. It seems vicious unicorns are reemerging all over the world, and a group has opened an ancient cloister in Rome to train the hunters.

I want to say that this book stands the traditional view of unicorns on its head, but it actually fits quite well with many of the older unicorn stories. One tradition she definitely keeps is that unicorns are attracted to virgins, well, at least virgins who are descended from Alexander the Great, in the traditional unicorn-hunting families, like Astrid. Such virgins are immune to the poison of alicorns and have a mystical power to fight unicorns. But what can a handful of untrained girls do against such powerful beasts?

With the importance of virginity to unicorn fighters, sex and whether or not to have it is definitely an issue in this book. I think it’s handled tastefully and realistically, but keep in mind that it deals with these issues head on, and so is not a book for very young unicorn lovers.

My only quibble is the same one I have with some of Stephenie Meyer’s scenes: Where do they find these young men who are able to go so very far and yet not go all the way? Do they really want young women to think that’s realistic? All the same, I think Diana Peterfreund does point out that you can’t take that for granted.

Anyway, sexual issues are by no means the main point of the book. This is an incredibly absorbing story (It ate a chunk out of my day off!) about a girl learning who she is and how to be a warrior. Astrid is definitely a heroine to cheer for.

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Review of Letters from Rapunzel, by Sara Lewis Holmes

letters_from_rapunzelLetters from Rapunzel

by Sara Lewis Holmes

Winner of the Ursula Nordstrom First Fiction Contest
HarperCollins, 2007. 184 pages.

Cadence Brogan feels like Rapunzel. Only her tower is Homework Club, and she doesn’t have hair long enough to rescue her.

Cadence is a newly-identified genius who harnesses her creativity working hard to not give her teachers what they want. When she is required to do homework during after-school Homework Club, she keeps busy writing, but she’s writing letters to a mysterious “friend” of her father’s, using the pen name Rapunzel.

Cadence became Rapunzel when her father went away, a victim of the Evil Spell. Her mother calls it C. D., clinical depression, but Rapunzel is poetical, like her father, and thinks of it as the Evil Spell. She found a torn up letter her father was going to write to this mysterious friend. She doesn’t have even a name, but she does have the post office box number. The fragment says,

. . . You are the secret to my success as a poet and a human being. Writing these letters every day has helped me keep my heart open, to be willing to live, to keep the darkness . . .

Maybe if Cadence, as Rapunzel, can write letters to this mysterious benefactor herself, maybe she can draw back the darkness and get her father back from the hospital.

The book, Letters from Rapunzel tells the story of her quest, in the form of the letters she sends to the box, along with copies of her creative alternatives to her teacher’s assignmments. There is plenty of humor in the situations Cadence gets herself into, but plenty of poignancy as well, as she deals with her father’s absence and Evil Spell on top of pressures from school and her Mom. She uncovers things no one wanted to tell her along with some profound truths about herself.

This is definitely a promising first novel. It covers some profound issues with a light touch. Quick reading that will make you smile, but will also make you think.

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Review of Robot Zot! by Jon Scieszka and David Shannon

robot_zotRobot Zot!

by Jon Scieszka
illustrated by David Shannon

Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, New York, 2009. 40 pages.
Starred Review

Here’s another book I got to hear the authors themselves read at the National Book Festival. Okay, Jon Scieszka did the reading, but David Shannon did some awesome sound effects.


Jon Scieszka enjoyed reading the book so much, I can’t help but like it. When I brought it home, I still enjoyed it, and I think it will be an outstanding pick for Storytime — plenty of great sound effects, nice drama, and inside jokes to point out in the illustrations.

The book opens with Robot Zot in his spaceship looking out at earth, ready to conquer.

“No one stop Robot Zot.
Robot Zot crush lot!”

But then as Robot Zot enters an earth building, ready to conquer, we see in the pictures that he turns out to be only a few inches tall.

He enters an earth kitchen and believes the appliances are enemy robots which he must conquer. Indeed, he conquers them.

But then a large sinister monster (the television set) offers a challenge in the next room. And in the children’s room he sees the bot of his dreams — a little girl’s toy cellphone. He must save her from the evil guardians (dolls).

Throughout the book, we hear of Zot’s bold conquests from his perspective, while the big, bold pictures tell another story of a suburban household with plenty of appliances and a curious dog, who ends up getting blamed.

Tremendous fun, and will definitely be featured at my next Storytime.

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Review of Stitches, by David Small


A Memoir

by David Small

W. W. Norton & Company, New York, 2009. 329 pages.

It is always poignant when a successful, accomplished adult tells the story of a painful childhood. When the person telling the story is a skilled artist telling the story in graphic form, it has all the more power.

David Small is an award-winning illustrator of picture books for children. His memoir, however, is not for children.

When he was a child, he was given x-ray “therapy” as treatment for a sinus condition. That well-meaning therapy gave him cancer as a teenager, leaving scars both on his skin and on his voice.

The abuse he suffered is all the more poignant in that much of it was well-meaning, and some of it simply neglect. In this powerful graphic memoir, he shows us how the world looked to a little boy and a teen going through difficult things at the hands of those who were supposed to love him.

A moving and memorable story.

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Review of Any Which Wall, by Laurel Snyder

any_which_wallAny Which Wall

by Laurel Snyder
drawings by LeUyen Pham

Random House, New York, 2009. 242 pages.
Starred Review
Sonderbooks Stand-out 2010: #3 Children’s Fantasy and Science Fiction

The caption at the front of this book is a quotation from Seven Day Magic, by Edward Eager. As it happens, Seven Day Magic is one of my favorite books from childhood, and one of my favorite quotations is the first line of that book:

“The best kind of book,” said Barnaby, “is a magic book.”

A little further along comes the part Laurel Snyder quoted:

“The best kind of magic book,” Barnaby was saying, “is the kind where the magic has rules. And you have to deal with it and thwart it before it thwarts you. Only sometimes you forget and get thwarted.”

When I read that, I instantly hoped that here I would find a magic book in the style of the Edward Eager books I loved so much. I was not disappointed.

Further warming me up to be delighted, I was captivated by the note at the front of the book — “A Brief Note on the Existence and True Nature of Magic.” Here’s an excerpt:

Some magic (the kind you hear about most often) is loud and full of dragons. But that magic is rare, generally reserved for scrappy orphans and misplaced princes. Some magic is mysterious, beginning with the somber tolling of a clock at midnight in the darkest corner of a graveyard. However, that magic is unlikely to include you if you don’t visit cemeteries late at night (which I don’t think you’re supposed to do). There is also magic especially for very tiny children, full of kindly rabbits and friendly old ladies with comfortable laps. It smells like sugar cookies and takes place mostly in gardens or bedrooms the pale colors of spring. But you outgrow it about the time you learn to read.

So perhaps the very best magic is the kind of magic that happens to kids just like you (and maybe even the occasional grown-up) when they’re paying careful attention. It’s the most common magic there is, which is why (sensibly) it’s called Common Magic. Common Magic exists in the very unmagical world you yourself inhabit. It’s full of regular-looking people, stop signs, and seemingly boring buildings. Common Magic happens to kids who have curious friends, busy parents, and vivid imaginations, and it frequently takes place during summer vacations or on rainy weekends when you aren’t allowed to leave the house. Most important, it always starts with something that seems ordinary.

The story that follows concerns four children (like Edward Eager’s books!) who encounter Common Magic, must learn its rules, enjoy it, thwart it, but also get a bit thwarted themselves. When the children in the story had read Edward Eager’s books, just like the children in Edward Eager’s books had read the books of E. Nesbit, I knew that indeed Laurel Snyder must be setting out to write a book in the style of Edward Eager. Hooray! Much to my delight, she pulls it off.

The magic these children encounter is a wall. And a magical key. When they turn the key, the wall transports them to any other wall where they wish to be — from Merlin’s castle to a pirate’s home to the wild West.

The complete package is a delightful, fun, wholesome, and magical adventure for kids. The kids interact with each other and do some growing and thinking as they interact with the magic.

Reading this book will put you on the alert, hoping to run across Common Magic in your own life. And you will feel you’ve already had a taste of it.

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Review of Pigs Make Me Sneeze, by Mo Willems

pigs_make_me_sneezePigs Make Me Sneeze!

An Elephant & Piggie Book

by Mo Willems

Hyperion Books for Children, New York, 2009. 57 pages.
Starred Review
Sonderbooks Stand-out 2010: #3 Picture Books

I love Mo Willems’ books, and I try to refrain from reviewing every single one. However, this is the Elephant and Piggie book I got to hear Mo Willems himself read at the National Book Festival. Naturally, I bought a copy, and I certainly have to review it.

The more I read Mo Willems’ books to kids, the more impressed I get. I can be completely losing the kids at a storytime, but if I open an Elephant and Piggie book, I soon have them hanging on my every word. They’re funny; they’re easy to read; they convey all kinds of exuberant emotion with simple lines; and they often teach a lesson, too!

In Pigs Make Me Sneeze! Gerald (the elephant) finds himself sneezing as soon as Piggie comes around. He is heartbroken to realize that pigs make him sneeze, so he should never be around his best friend any more. Then Doctor Cat comes along with an alternate explanation.

My teenage son pointed out that this beautifully illustrates a basic truth: Correlation does not imply causation. It actually makes me wish I still taught college courses in Intro Statistics, so I could bring in this book to teach that concept in a memorable way. (I still say Mo Willems’ books are more effective than lectures.)

The summary of the book naturally doesn’t do justice to the humor of the illustrations, and the comic timing of the characters’ interactions. My son was also quite taken with Doctor Cat — He would like to see a new book about Doctor Cat; he said he’s as cool as Dr. McNinja, only he’s a cat. Can you tell that even a fifteen-year-old could not resist the charms of reading this book when I brought it home? This book is in a class far above your ordinary run-of-the-mill easy readers that make up a plot to use simple words. Truly a book for all ages, and great for beginning readers, too.

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Mo Willems reading Pigs Make Me Sneeze!
Mo Willems reading Pigs Make Me Sneeze!

Back to School

I did something a little crazy. I signed up for a six-week online class. The class is The Newbery Medal: Past, Present, and Future. I wasn’t going to sign up, because I can’t afford a class and don’t have time for a class.

However, two things persuaded me. At the National Book Festival, a co-worker I ran into reminded me that the Library’s Employee Association offers grants for things like that, to help with the cost. Then, I was following School Library Journal’s Heavy Medal blog, and actually found myself looking through all 79 pages of the Newbery Committee Guidelines that were posted. Yes, I am fascinated with the Newbery Medal. One of the reasons I am thrilled to be a librarian is that now I’m one of the people who sponsors the Newbery Medal! What’s more, the instructor was the chair of the Newbery Committee the year that I got to go to the Award Banquet, and she also wrote the textbook we used in my Library Services to Children class.

So — My reading habits are going to have to change. Mind you, I still have a persistent backlog of about 20 books I’ve read and plan to review, so the change in my habits may take awhile to hit the blog. Though I may get far further behind because of not having time to write reviews.

I’m going to be reading at least one Newbery winner from each decade the award’s been giving. One nice part of that assignment is that I’ve already discovered that almost every decade has a book that I’d long been meaning to read (and own) but haven’t got around to reading yet. Now I will!

Mind you, Kidlitcon 09 is only two weeks away! I’ve already begun reading a book by one of the authors I’m going to meet there, and I’m planning to read another. But once that is done, maybe I can settle in to some classics.

Of course, the clincher in deciding to take the course is that it is not graded. — If I don’t get the books read, it’s not like I’ll fail the course. But even as I say that I know that I will want to read even more than what’s required, not less. However, I just thought of an even better point in the classes favor: No papers! Yes, we have to post on the forums three times a week, but that part is fun. A class where I get to read lots of children’s books, but don’t have to write any research papers. What’s not to like? I’m excited!

But you may not hear as much from me for about six weeks….

Review of The Lost Symbol, by Dan Brown

lost_symbolThe Lost Symbol

by Dan Brown

Doubleday, New York, 2009. 509 pages.

It took me a long time to get through The Lost Symbol, because I felt like I read it before. The formula is the same as for The Da Vinci Code and Angels and Demons. Once again, we’ve got a supposedly earth-shaking secret with layers upon layers of clues that Robert Langdon is trying to solve before a crazy killer does something catastrophic.

Dan Brown has a habit of short chapters, where people discover something that shocks them, and then it cuts away to something else. The reader doesn’t learn the shocking secret until later. That worked to keep me reading in The Da Vinci Code, but two books later, I find it a little bit annoying.

I also had to laugh right at the beginning when secret government experiments in Noetic Science were discussed. It reminded me far too much of a nonfiction book my son recently had me check out for him titled Men Who Stare at Goats about secret government military experiments on the power of the mind, which have not borne much fruit at all. Having heard of that book ruined my ability to take the experiments in this book as seriously as they were intended.

However, even with all that said, even though my emotions weren’t fully engaged in this book, I do like puzzles. And Dan Brown is exceptionally good at making puzzles, and puzzles that have layers and layers. So for the puzzles alone, this book was worth reading.

I also thoroughly enjoyed that this book was set in Washington, DC. I have been to the Louvre, which was important in The Da Vinci Code, and I was in Rome right after the Pope died, which was the setting of Angels and Demons. And now I live near Washington, DC. Last February, I was in the new Capitol Visitor’s Center, which is where the story starts. And I have been at some of the other sites mentioned — and they are always real places, described in detail, including details you probably didn’t notice when you were there. So I will be looking at Washington, DC, with new eyes.

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Review of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith

pride_and_prejudice_and_zombiesPride and Prejudice and Zombies

by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith

Quirk Books, Philadelphia, 2009. 319 pages.

This book is awful. Truly terrible. But I have to admit that I find it frightfully hilarious.

Seth Grahame-Smith took the text of Pride and Prejudice and simply adjusted it to reflect an England in the grip of a dreadful plague of zombies. Everyone’s prim and proper about it, but Elizabeth and her sisters are valiant zombie fighters who have trained in China in the “deadly arts.”

This book should not go on lists titled “If you like Jane Austen…” It would be better for lists for those who don’t like Jane Austen. I found myself laughing out loud and reading bits to my 15-year-old son, who is not interested in the original book, but found this all perfectly reasonable zombie mayhem.

In many places the story is much cruder, and definitely far more violent. I think they went too far when they had Elizabeth eat the beating heart of a ninja she’d conquered. I couldn’t stomach more than a few chapters a night. But I’m afraid I found I couldn’t stop. Knowing Pride and Prejudice as well as I do, I knew exactly what they had changed, and it was hilarious.

For example, at the party where we first meet Mr. Bingley and Mr. Darcy, just as in the original book, Elizabeth overhears Darcy calling her “tolerable” and saying “I am in no humour at present to give consequence to young ladies who are slighted by other men.” But in this book, Elizabeth is insulted, and her warrior code demands that she avenge her honour. However, just as she is reaching for the dagger concealed at her ankle, a herd of “unmentionables” breaks the windows of the room and attacks the party.

“As guests fled in every direction, Mr. Bennet’s voice cut through the commotion, ‘Girls! Pentagram of Death!’

“Elizabeth immediately joined her four sisters, Jane, Mary, Catherine, and Lydia in the center of the dance floor. Each girl produced a dagger from her ankle and stood at the tip of an imaginary five-pointed star. From the center of the room, they began stepping outward in unison — each thrusting a razor-sharp dagger with one hand, the other hand modestly tucked into the small of her back.

“From a corner of the room, Mr. Darcy watched Elizabeth and her sisters work their way outward, beheading zombie after zombie as they went. He knew of only one other woman in all of Great Britain who wielded a dagger with such skill, such grace, and deadly accuracy.

“By the time the girls reached the walls of the assembly hall, the last of the unmentionables lay still.

“Apart from the attack, the evening altogether passed pleasantly for the whole family….”

Later on, when Elizabeth goes to visit Jane, taken ill at Netherfield, it is scandalous that she walk alone through the fields because the ground is soft from the recent rain, so all the more zombies are digging themselves out of graves. Elizabeth does encounter some, and dismembers them with skill. In this version, instead of simply commenting on the state of Elizabeth’s hem, Bingley’s sister notes,

“Yes, and her petticoat; I hope you saw her petticoat, six inches deep in mud, I am absolutely certain; and pieces of undead flesh upon her sleeve, no doubt from her attackers.”

Later on, instead of being shocked that Elizabeth and her sisters did not have a governess, Lady Catherine is shocked that they didn’t have their own ninjas.

Of course, probably the best part is when Elizabeth refuses Mr. Darcy’s proposal and kicks him across the room with a force that shatters the mantelpiece. You don’t mess with Elizabeth Bennett!

It’s all very very silly and all carried off as if this is completely natural. Some things even make a little more sense. For example, Charlotte marries Mr. Collins because she was bitten by a zombie and stricken with the plague. She says,

“All I ask is that my final months be happy ones, and that I be permitted a husband who will see to my proper Christian beheading and burial.”

Surely such a fate would make it worthwhile to marry even Mr. Collins.

I also find Wickham’s eventual fate much more appropriate than the original.

One of the funnier parts of the book is the set of discussion questions at the back, still taking the book very seriously. Here is the final question:

“Some scholars believe that the zombies were a last-minute addition to the novel, requested by the publisher in a shameless attempt to boost sales. Others argue that the hordes of living dead are integral to Jane Austen’s plot and social commentary. What do you think? Can you imagine what this novel might be like without the violent zombie mayhem?”

My only fear is that memories of this book might intrude the next time I reread that great classic, Pride and Prejudice.

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National Book Festival 2009


Today I attended the National Book Festival in Washington, DC, and had an awesome time!

I learned a bit from last year’s trip, which was something of a fiasco. I didn’t waste a lot of time standing in long lines for autographs, but focused on the one author whom I really really wanted to talk to and get books signed by — Shannon Hale. And then I spent most of my time enjoying the author presentations — which turned out to be FABULOUS!

Next year, I’ll add a step of ordering any books I want signed ahead of time. Both years, on impulse I’ve bought lots of books at the Festival, have waited in a huge crowd to purchase them, and then end up not waiting in enough lines to get them signed. I did buy books by a couple authors I didn’t even see, but at least they are good books I’d been meaning to read anyway.

I saw three different fellow employees from Fairfax County Public Library who were also lucky enough to have the day off. In fact, I cheated a little bit and stepped into the book sales line to join Gena, the Woodrow Wilson Library Children’s Assistant. (She was almost at the back of the line anyway.) We talked and talked the whole time we were waiting to pay for our books, which made that a fun part of the Festival, too.

Shannon Hale is one of my favorite living authors, along with Robin McKinley, whom she acknowledges as her inspiration. Back in 2004, I named The Goose Girl the best book I read in 2003, the #1 Sonderbooks Stand-out 2003. I e-mailed Shannon about it, and she answered, and we corresponded for awhile.

When I told Shannon who I was when I was getting my books signed, she gave me a hug! And asked how I am doing and if I’d finished my MLS. Such a nice person besides being such a wonderful writer!

Besides that, her fabulous and funny talk was about her path to becoming a published author. She brought in a laminated roll of past rejection slips, which she has also posted on her blog recently. Somehow to know that such an exceptional writer was rejected for reasons that seem ridiculous to me — well, it gives me hope for my own writing.

Shannon with old rejection letters
Shannon with old rejection letters

She talked about a principle she learned in a pottery class about throwing away your first 100 tries. I’m so very glad she persisted, found an editor who loved her work, and now has so many avid fans. I do love telling library patrons about her books, and I know of many, many other people who love her writing.

So — the Shannon Hale part of my day was a tremendous success! Inspiring and thrilling! I felt so honored that she remembered me! Some day, some day, some day, I hope to be at an event as a fellow author — but that won’t happen unless I am as persistent as she was — both in submitting and especially in working on my craft.

Here’s what she wrote in my book!

After that, I spent the afternoon in the Children’s tent. I had hoped to get Mo Willems’ autograph, but his line was just way too long (at least if I wanted to make it to Shannon’s talk). And I did forgo trying to get Kate DiCamillo’s autograph in order to get to Mo Willems’ talk. Then, since I was a fan of all the authors left on the program, I just stayed in that tent the rest of the afternoon. They were incredible! Tremendously entertaining and interesting and inspiring, every single one.

I should mention that in the morning, I got in on the first segment of The Exquisite Corpse Adventure, which should now be posted on This is a tale put together by several different authors — and Jon Scieszka started it off with all kinds of challenges of things that would be in it — like a rollerskating baby, real ninjas and fake vampires, a talking pig, and of course a ticking clock. Watching the authors present teasers was great fun.

Jon Scieszka, Megan McDonald, Steven Kellogg, and Shannon Hale listening to Kate DiCamillo give her Exquisite Corpse teaser
Jon Scieszka, Megan McDonald, Steven Kellogg, and Shannon Hale listening to Kate DiCamillo give her Exquisite Corpse teaser

First were Tony DiTerlizzi and Holly Black, talking about the upcoming last volume of The Spiderwick Chronicles. I didn’t have great seats for their talk or Mo’s, but at least I had a seat. They talked about how they got ideas — cool stuff about bestiaries and folklore. Tony did some drawings, which unfortunately I couldn’t see.

Tony DiTerlizzi and Holly Black telling about folklore and a house said to be visited by fairies.
Tony DiTerlizzi and Holly Black telling about folklore and a house said to be visited by fairies.

Then was Mo Willems, whom I consider an absolute genius. He did nothing to alter that impression. He read Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed, Today I Will Fly (with other helpers), and his new Elephant and Piggie book, Pigs Make Me Sneeze.

I also bought the new book, and when I read it to my teenage son, he pointed out that it teaches that correlation does not imply causation. So right! Almost makes me wish I still taught Statistics so that I could bring that book in to read to the class. Incidentally, my son wishes that Mo would write a book about Doctor Cat, a new character introduced in Pigs Make Me Sneeze.

When it was time for questions, I loved how Mo answered the one about where he gets his inspiration: He’s lucky enough to get it in the mail every month. In the form of a mortgage bill! He said that writers get inspired when they need to get inspired. That’s their job.

Another child asked why the pigeon appears in all his books. He said the pigeon is stinker and gets jealous when Mo writes a book that isn’t about him. So when he writes another book, the pigeon sneaks into the drawings when Mo is sleeping.

Here's Mo!
Here's Mo!

After Mo spoke, lots of better seats became available! So I settled in for the rest of the programs. Steven Kellogg was the illustrator of one of my oldest son’s favorite picture books, The Day Jimmy’s Boa Ate the Wash. His smile was so genuine and warm, and he was a dynamo in his talk, illustrating the stories he told while telling them with enthusiasm and expression. It was delightful to watch.

Steven Kellogg's enthusiastic talk
Steven Kellogg's enthusiastic talk

Then came Jerry Pinkney, talking about his new book, The Lion and the Mouse. I recently “read” this book at a storytime. It is a wordless book with sound effects, but even without me reading a story, the children were mesmerized by the glorious pictures, and it was fun getting them to tell me what was going on.

In his talk, Jerry told about the things in his life and in his childhood that inspired him to become an artist and gave him a love for animals. This talk was maybe not as entertaining, but it was enthralling and inspiring.

Jerry Pinkney with his latest book
Jerry Pinkney with his latest book

Finally, the last show was the two-man comedy act of Jon Scieszka and David Shannon, who have written a book together called Robot Zot. I definitely need to get my hands on a copy of that book!

I can’t adequately express what it’s like to listen to those two men interact with an audience together. Did I say men? Perhaps they’d be better described as mature little boys. Not in a bad way, at all. Hmm. Recently I’ve been listening to a CD about accessing your inner archetype of the Playful Child. Let’s just say that these two have got that down pat. Two Playful Children entertaining a roomful of people.

They talked about the collaboration process (and how the illustrator doesn’t listen to the author!) and read their new book, and then David Shannon drew a robot villain inspired by audience suggestions. But along the way, lots and lots of fun was had by all.

Jon Scieszka and David Shannon obviously plotting something
Jon Scieszka and David Shannon obviously plotting something
Jon Scieszka reading Robot Zot
Jon Scieszka reading Robot Zot
David Shannon and his audience-inspired robot villain
David Shannon and his audience-inspired robot villain

Truly a thoroughly wonderful day!