Monday, August 6, 2012

Get your cameras ready...Finalists!

I woke up at 7 am and, on a mission, trudged bleary-eyed to my laptop.
"Can I make you some coffee?" my dear one said as I passed his office. Yes, I said, ever grateful for his daily miracle of Perfect Coffee Production.

Laptop on, I went directly to to see the results of the second phase of the contest: the composition.

The screen came up, and I screamed just a little bit: three (THREE!) of my favorite minioperas made it to the final round of competition. THREE LINGERERS!

(And now, for a moment of silence for my other favorites that found their way into my dreams and my daydreams for weeks but didn't make the finals: your magic is not done. I hope to hear you elsewhere. There were a few particular composers whose work I will follow closely from now on. Thank you for honoring me with your compositions of The Lingerer.)

Let me step out of my own (apparently enormous) ego for a moment and just say that there were so many--SO MANY--marvelous, brilliant compositions to all 10 of the librettos. If you haven't already, you won't regret visiting the website and listening to them.

Here's one more thing I need to admit: sometimes I lose faith a little in the basic goodness of humanity, especially when tragedies such as the Colorado shooting or, yesterday, the Wisconsin Sikh tragedy occur. I lose faith amid the muck of politics and ignorance. After the media coverage of the Aurora shooting, I listened to the compositions at the minioperas website, one after another, and somehow they were like a poultice to the pain. As if they were telling me: if humans are compassionate enough to make music like this, there is hope for us all. It sounds really corny here now as I'm tying it, but there you go. This music helped me profoundly, and I'm thankful for it. Better to get hope from opera than from a prescription bottle.

Congratuations, finalists! You deserve heaps of applause. (And a special hurrah to Max Perryment, Alex Weston, and Julian Chou-Lambert.)

Everyone else, get your video cameras charged and ready: the film competition begins NOW! You have 49 days to git 'er done.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Sinister Sweetness

I guess this weekend is all about my 9-year-old son.
Hold on to your hearts, because the Cuteness Meter is about to hit Maximum.
maximum cuteness

My last post was about our delightful purchase of poetry, and Julien was pleased to perform for the blogosphere. Today, I want to give you a sneak peek at a Middle Grade book that Julien won from a blog give-away recently: The Sinister Sweetness of Splendid Academy, by Nikki Loftin.

Here's the book description: Lorelei is bowled over by Splendid Academy--Principal Trapp encourages the students to run in the hallways, the classrooms are stocked with candy dishes, and the cafeteria serves lavish meals featuring all Lorelei's favorite foods. But the more time she spends at school, the more suspicious she becomes. Why are her classmates growing so chubby? And why do the teachers seem so sinister? It's up to Lorelei and her new friend Andrew to figure out what secret this supposedly splendid school is hiding. 

What they discover chills their bones--and might even pick them clean! Mix one part magic, one part mystery, and just a dash of Grimm, and you've got the recipe for a cozy-creepy read that kids will gobble up like candy. 

I had the fortune to meet Nikki earlier this year at the SCBWI conference in Austin, the same weekend I met and signed with my YA agent. Nikki was hilarious, had me wiping tears of laughter with her antics. She was also kind and encouraging and genuine. With great reviews from PW and Kirkus, she is surely a rising star in MG literature.

Julien was ecstatic about winning an Advanced Reader Copy (because of the exclusivity, you see--there's nothing as thrilling to a 9-yr-old as getting his hands on something cool before ANYONE in the whole school can), and this book did not disappoint. What's funny (and a little sad) is that Julien had NO IDEA what was coming as he read.

"You mean, you've never heard of the Hansel and Gretel story?" I asked him in the car.
"No. What's that?" he asked.

I had a brief FAIL moment as a mother who tries to raise culturally literate children. But then I decided that he'd learn his own version of Hansel and Gretel soon enough, and that was all right, too.

You really should order this one for your kiddos, who'll not only love the story, but look irresistibly cool carrying this awesome book around school:
The bookstore cover: love it

I read the book right after Julien, and I could not put the book down. Frankly, I was creeped out, as I was when I watched Coraline, chewing on my nails. But splendidly creeped out. Splendid Academy is deliciously and delightfully written, with surprising depth of character and just enough Sinister details to keep Julien hooked. Now for the Sweetness:
More cuteness: Julien cracking up with his newest book. The book cover on the ARC was different from the final cover.

best read with a Lick-Em Stick

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Dare to Dream: Poetry for everyone

Last week, we received our much-anticipated book of poetry, Dare to Dream...Change the World, edited by my fabulous agent Jill Corcoran.

I'd gotten a glimpse of the beautiful illustrations earlier, so we were pleased that the book is large (!), and the pictures fill the entire page.

Usborne books describes the collection like this: From Jonas Salk to Steven Spielberg, the subjects of these biographical-inspired poems invented something, said something, stood for something, did something, changed something. They dared to dream.

Thirty of our nation's most prestigious poets focus their creative vision on people who not only changed their own lives, but the lives of people all over the world.

Jill Corcoran   J. Patrick Lewis    Alice Schertle   David L. Harrison    Jane Yolen   Joan Bransfield Graham    Ellen Hopkins    Georgia Heard   Hope Anita Smith   Elaine Magliaro    Curtis L. Crisler   Janet S. Wong    Denise Lewis Patrick    Joyce Lee Wong    Jacqui Robbins    Julia Durango    Tracie Vaughn Zimmer    Lisa Wheeler    Hope Vestergaard    Carol M. Tanzman   Stephanie Hemphill    Alan Katz    Lee Bennett Hopkins   Marilyn Singer    Rebecca Kai Dotlich    Joyce Sidman    Rose Horowitz    Bruce Coville    Kelly Ramsdell Fineman   Laura Purdie Salas

My 9-year-old son is a bit crazy about YouTube videos and begs me to search for funny videos. (I always supervise, of course.) So it's no surprise to me that one of his favorite poems in Dare to Dream...Change the World is inspired by YouTube's co-founding geniuses Chad Hurley, Steve Chen, and Jawed Karim: "Just Like That," by Laura Purdie Salas.

Although he stumbled a little on "from Omaha to Seoul," you can tell he loves the rhythm of this poem:

It's a beautiful book. Congrats, Jill!

UPDATE: I can't believe I didn't mention in original post the illustrator: J. Beth Jepson. The poems are only half of this book. The other half, the illustrations, are gorgeous. We love the way the poems are placed ON the illustrations. (Had to share this wonderful and important detail!)