Bridging the Bookish and Mr. KJV

Three things to say yay about:
           1.) No one has fallen down the stairs thus far today (my little signs of “ICE!” are still on the doors of the building — seriously necessary, since the stuff DIDN’T MELT YESTERDAY, and the wee ice trucks don’t come up on the sidewalk and a blizzard is forecast for Thursday),
           2.) Actual writing was accomplished and the ship of the novel is being turned toward the shore at long last (and YES, I know you’re sick of hearing about it. Sorry.),
           3.) And Sarah Beth Durst has two more books coming out!!!!
From her blog:

I am delighted and thrilled and so unbelievably happy to tell you that I have just signed a contract for two new YA fantasy books with Simon & Schuster!!! Yippee!!! My new beauties are called (at least until the titles get changed, as they always do) ICE (coming Fall 2009) and IVY (coming Fall 2010).

We love her first two books around these parts, so new books is REALLY something to look forward to with glee and much Snoopy dancing!

The EPICALLY cool Judy Blume is someone most of us admire greatly, and much to our excitement, she’s blog touring. She started out Big A little a’s December with a great interview Monday, and talks a bit about her writing process with Little Willow here. Stay tuned for her chat with Book Evangelist Jen and the 7-Imps later this week.

Judy’s not the only one blog touring — the adorable author-illustrator Maxwell Eaton III was seen this week scarfing Cheerios and marshmallows with the ladies at 7 Impossible Things Before Breakfast (and may I just say The Nefarious Bunnies is such a good name for a band) and today has guest blogged at The Well-Read Child with the cutest little cartoon about how to engage reluctant readers.

Everyone has been talking so wisely about book giving this year that it nudged something in my memory this morning… about my father.

Now, my blogosphere buds know from my father already: he of the no-fiction, only KJV, laying-down-the-law sort, he of the no-fairytales-there-is-nothing-good-about-daydreaming-pick-up-a-dishtowel-stop-wasting-time kind of mentality. He has never mellowed, but learned, and tends to come down with his hobnailed boots on other things, with my younger sibs. At least, they seem less fraught than I was, but then, they’re different types of people than I am. And this is good.

But I remember when my sister turned nine or ten, and I’d just sold my first book to a major publisher*, and her birthday came up, and my father was looking on as she opened the gift I brought her. It was… Barbie clothes, which galled me (because I hate Barbie), but delighted her, since she was deeply into them at that point (although I am gratified to report that she abruptly threw her dolls away about two months ago — no prompting — she said it was “time”) — and it confused my father. “I thought,” he said mildly, off-handedly, “that you’d get her something more bookish.”

::doink:: Somewhere a cartoon anvil fell on my head.

I found that comment unbelievable. Completely surreal. Books were a field I had to die on, constantly as a kid. I felt I had to hide them, tuck them under couch cushions and go back to folding clothes — standing up, thank you, it’s lackadaisical and slovenly to fold laundry sitting down — (And yes. He used the word “slovenly.” Yes, thank-you, I did totally blow the language section of the SAT out of the water.) I constantly had to defend my right to privacy, to daydreaming, to unconstructed hours of time (which is why writing sometimes makes me feel deeply guilty. Shouldn’t I be Doing Something? Like taking a twenty mile hike, which is what he does for entertainment?) in which I could read and dream and launch forth into other worlds.

So, who was this guy asking for books for his kid?
Could he be made to want books for himself?
And, if he wanted them, what books would you get for Mr. KJV, a man who read aloud to me all my life, but read instructive things rather than entertaining things?

I want to take a moment to give a shout-out to Tricia and Susan and everyone else who participates in Nonfiction Mondays for helping me love nonfiction. I give great kudos to MotherReader, whose MotherReader Suggests list on the right hand edge of her blog I read and reread long months before I ever “spoke” to her; and to Colleen’s years worth (no, really, I read her archives once) of books organized by interest and topic and gift-worthiness. Thank you to every single one of you who reads and reviews (or… suggests, if the word “review” is still too scary sounding). I have the tools in my hands to give some really excellent gifts this year.

Still, it’s kind of terrifying.

Giving the gift of a book not only tells the recipient something about a topic, it tells them something about what the giver thinks — of them. It says to them that someone thought about them and their interests, or thought them smart enough or good humored enough or enough the same to share their favorite stories. It’s a tremendous compliment, in a way, to get a book — be it a graphic novel or a romance, or a comedy or a tale of polar expeditions. It’s a passport that says, “Oh, I know you’ll like this place — tell me all about it when you get back.”

I still don’t know what books to get for Mr. KJV, but I started slowly — for Father’s Day, he got Kadir Nelson’s baseball book, which is gorgeous and lovely, and was possibly thought of as a strange gift… but if nothing else, he can look at it with my nephew, and think he’s just reading to a child. That’s surely safe. He asked me, once, if I knew anything about E.R. Braithwaite, the “To Sir, With Love” guy. I should have thought, “biographies!” but I told him the titles of the other books Braithwaite wrote. Duh. I think I’ve been being given some hints, through the years, but I’ve just never seen them, or taken him up on them.

And now I have an excuse to lay down a shaky piece of lumber to begin building a bridge.

Suggestions — specially from those of you who know from KJV — and you heathens, too 😉 — welcome.

*Ah, yes, geeky old me, making it sound like dog-years ago. But it was. Remember it takes almost three years to put one of those puppies out; it was purchased way back in 2006. Possibly the end of 2005. I could look it up, but who cares?

Dispatches from the Cold North

I’m feeling pretty good today, despite watching people fall down just outside my building, and having to put up “watch for ice” signs on the front doors so there would be no more accidents. (New Northern shopping list: *must* invest in rock salt). I finally made a little headway on my manuscript, and am cheering on Sara from afar as she comes in on the home stretch on her line edits. Go, Sara!

Okay — apparently C.S. Lewis was writing a cosmological treatise with the whole Chronicles of Narnia thing. Each of his seven books is alleged to be related to a …planet. So, if you’re keeping score, the allegorical thing is out, and three-dimensional chess is in.

Just when I was asking about books for babies, Lorie Ann comes out with readertotz! Especially if you’re an ECE teacher, check it out.

Ever heard of Book View Cafe? It’s a cooperative, nonprofit website supported by over twenty authors who have books published in print, who are also wisely giving themselves another arena of expression. YA fiction and more is served up a chapter a week, and if you’re the type of person who likes to read online, you can read a chapter a day in your Google Reader. And now no one has an excuse to say they don’t have time to read.

Meanwhile, Whidbey announces their monthly fiction contest — very, very short fiction this time because after this November we’ve just had, who’s got the attention span to write a longer story? “Enter December’s Whidbey Student Choice Contest for a chance to find $50 under your tree and a publication on your resume. Remember to keep the word count under 1000.”

Reading and You

A Happy and frosty cold first of December to you, people! November in Glasgow ended on a self-congratulatory note, as the temperature dropped to its coldest in November since 1985. Yes, round of applause, please. Being from a warm westerly place, I’d never before seen an ice mist. I have seen one now. It is not nice, though the air does rather sparkle!

Ah, another well-meaning person is talking about young adult literature! Hie thee onward to Miss Rumphius’ blog, and log in on the great debate: why do you read?

This conversation was sparked by the very well-meaning Caitlin Flanagan and her piece in The Atlantic titled, What Girls Want. As soon as I a.) read the title, and b.) realized that most of the article was a long run-up to a highly positive critique of the Twilight series, I realized we have some deeply fundamental differences on men and women — but I read it anyway.

The gist of her article is that young women are the best readers out there, because they need fiction to escape into — to ignore the world whilst they work out Those Big Questions. During their “sulks and silences” they’re thinking.

Obviously, a.) boys don’t think, b.) boys have no inner lives, c.) she’s just wrong.

This was a stunning piece — as in, I’m stunned and, like Miss R., not quite sure how to respond…

Meantime, I’m in search of opinions — I’m looking for books again — for babies, which is totally beyond my frame of reference. What’s the happening one and a half year old man reading these days?