February 2, 2010
Next Monday Cynthia Lord, author of The Newbery Honor award winning book Rules, will be coming to Mallett School to share her new picture book, Hot Rod Hamster. This event is open to the public, especially pre-schoolers! Event details are here. We're seething with excitement about this event, partly because Hot Rod Hamster is an absolutely terrific book, and partly because Cynthia was brave enough to agree to a hard hitting Weekly Top 2 interview!

KB: Even though they both deal with the management and presentation of choices, to me there is a real difference between Faust and Hot Rod Hamster, and that has to do with the responsibility of a child's caregiver to manage choices responsibly, as opposed to an adult who is basically on an island when it comes to dealing with Mephistopheles. I love the way the Bulldog manages things with Hot Rod, particularly when he makes one choice for him and gives him a helmet. Is if fair to see the Bulldog as an ideal caregiver, or is he just a great crew chief?
Cynthia: You are the first person to see the Faust connection! How very insightful of you to see what I was going for there! Bulldog and Hamster have a parent/child relationship. As a parent myself, I always wanted to encourage my children to dream and try--even when I knew their grand plans probably wouldn't end exactly as they hoped. I remember my daughter as a preschooler making an elaborate "squirrel trap" in our yard. She came and asked for rope, a laundry basket, crackers, and various other things. Watching her put that trap together, I knew the squirrels wouldn't fall for it, but I gave her the rope and such anyway. Hamster is a dreamer of big dreams. Bulldog is the sensible one, but he still lets Hamster try--because sometimes, as a parent (or as a business-owning bulldog), you end up being wrong. Every now and then, those big, seemingly-impossible dreams do come true.
KB: Hmmn. Now if you had to pick out a book for a four year old you didn't know what would it be?
Cynthia: I love so many books for that age, but I have yet to meet a four-year-old who didn't love The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle.
KB: How about for a friend who was going to be home sick for a few days and asked for something well written and sensationally fun?
Cynthia: The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins would be a great sick-bed choice for a young adult or adult reader. It's so exciting that I bet it would make my friend forget he/she was sick! It was also edited by Kate Egan, who lives around the corner from me in Brunswick. I've tried to get Kate to spill some secrets from the upcoming third book in the series, but she won't budge!
KB: It's only right and proper that Kate keep the details locked down, but if she does slip up call me right away! And finally, what book, if you heard a friend disparage it, would make you rethink your friendship?
Cynthia: The "Frog and Toad" early-reader series by Arnold Lobel are very special to me. Not only are those books timeless masterpieces, but I have a son with autism, and when my son was little, there were times that he couldn't put words together on his own to say what he wanted. So to express himself, he would repeat a line from one of his favorite books where a book character was feeling the same way he was. To hear those beautiful lines said by a child who couldn't express himself any other way was always very moving for me as his mom.

As an author myself, I am sure Arnold Lobel had no idea what those books would mean to the world. Not only was he crafting words and stories that would resonate with children for generations, he was also writing words that would become my child's communication with the world.

So if someone were to disparage or minimize those books, that person had better know how to duck! No, I would actually feel sorry for him/her. That person would be missing out on something incredibly special.

KB: I won't be running for cover because the memory of sharing Frog and Toad stories with my son has remained an unvarnished pleasure for me. They should be a part of every childhood. Thanks so much Cynthia, we'll see you on Monday!

 

Secrets of Eden



Secrets of Eden
By Bohjalian, Chris A.
2010-02 - Shaye Areheart Books
9780307394972 - Hardcover
List Price $25.00 - Your Price: $20.00

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If you judged the world mainly by looking at the book covers of popular literary novels you would have to conclude that most women have long hair and spend most of their time either staring out at bodies of water that they have just climbed out of,* or standing still in windswept fields. So no, you probably can not tell a whole lot about Chris Bohjalian's new book by looking at the cover. (hint hint, stop by the store and have a go at a few paragraphs.)

*(note: Young Adult covers differ in that their protagonists are sitting near the body of water with their legs dangling in it.) ...More

The Bricklayer

The Bricklayer
By Boyd, Noah
2010-02 - William Morrow & Company
9780061827013 - Hardcover
List Price $24.99 - Your Price: $19.99

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I'm not entirely sure why I read The Bricklayer, as I don't read many thrillers. The publisher, William Morrow clearly felt that they had a strong new talent, a retired FBI insider who could write (Noah Boyd is a pseudonym). Lee Child, James Patterson and Patricia Cornwell tossed in blurbs saying it was the stuff for their sort of troops. Still, that is more the sort of thing I make mental notes of rather than plunging into the merchandise. What can I say, there was something about the book that seemed to say, "go ahead and read me, I dare you." And I must say that it was a good read. "Boyd" really did bring a great deal of authenticity to the narrative, it has a formidable evil villain, the details of whose character are revealed very gradually, and the male and female leads of the book are both strong characters with depth and charm. The book was not gratuitous in any way when it came to content, which I liked. The romantic tension was well handled, and though I thought the final hostage drama was unnecessary, one scene too many as it were, this is definitely a strong new thriller series well worth checking out. ...More

Unincorporated Persons in the Late Honda Dynasty

Unincorporated Persons in the Late Honda Dynasty
By Hoagland, Tony
2010-02 - Graywolf Press
9781555975494 - Paperback
List Price $15.00 - Your Price: $12.00

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Poet Tony Hoaglund has been a store favorite ever since his semester here as a visiting writer at UMF 16 years ago. His new book of poems is out today and, come to think of it, the clever title reminds me that David Hinton's very fine anthology of Classical Chinese Poetry is also out today in paperback today. ...More

The Kitchen House

The Kitchen House
By Grissom, Kathleen
2010-02 - Touchstone Books
9781439153666 - Paperback
List Price $16.00 - Your Price: $12.80

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Now available in paperback, Grissom's examination of race in a plantation households, as seen through the eyes of a white indentured servant with a foot in two worlds, should make for a great reading group title. ...More

Freefall

Freefall
By Gordon, Roderick
2010-02 - Chicken House
9780545138772 - Hardcover
List Price $18.99 - Your Price: $15.19

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The the third volume in this standout young adult fantasy series is finally in. For background on this series check out our review of book one, Tunnels. Book two, Deeper, ended up with monstrous cliffhanger, but with Freefall in hand the situation is handled, at east for another 599 pages! ...More

Hot Rod Hamster

Hot Rod Hamster
By Lord, Cynthia
2010-02 - Scholastic Press
9780545035309 - Hardcover
List Price $16.99 - Your Price: $13.59

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As you will have gathered from the feature above, this is a terrific picture book for ages 4-7. ...More

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