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Little Willow [userpic]

Poetry Friday: The Waste Land by T.S. Eliot (lines 60-64)

February 24th, 2017 (06:00 am)
sleepy

Current Mood: sleepy
Current Song: Houses by Noah Tauscher

Unreal City,
Under the brown fog of a winter dawn,
A crowd flowed over London Bridge, so many,
I had not thought death had undone so many.

- selected lines from The Waste Land by T.S. Eliot

View all posts tagged as Poetry Friday at Bildungsroman.

View the roundup schedule at A Year of Reading.

Learn more about Poetry Friday.

Little Willow [userpic]

Poetry Friday: The Waste Land by T.S. Eliot (lines 57-59)

February 17th, 2017 (06:00 am)
awake

Current Mood: awake
Current Song: All I Need by Noah Tauscher

If you see dear Mrs. Equitone,
Tell her I bring the horoscope myself:
One must be so careful these days.

- selected lines from The Waste Land by T.S. Eliot

View all posts tagged as Poetry Friday at Bildungsroman.

View the roundup schedule at A Year of Reading.

Learn more about Poetry Friday.

Little Willow [userpic]

Poetry Friday: The Waste Land by T.S. Eliot (lines 35-41)

February 10th, 2017 (06:00 am)
grateful

Current Mood: grateful
Current Song: All I Need by Noah Tauscher

"You gave me hyacinths first a year ago;
They called me the hyacinth girl."
- Yet when we came back, late, from the Hyacinth garden,
Your arms full, and your hair wet, I could not
Speak, and my eyes failed, I was neither
Living nor dead, and I knew nothing,
Looking into the heart of light, the silence.

- selected lines from The Waste Land by T.S. Eliot

View all posts tagged as Poetry Friday at Bildungsroman.

View the roundup schedule at A Year of Reading.

Learn more about Poetry Friday.

Little Willow [userpic]

Interview: Joel ben Izzy

February 7th, 2017 (06:00 am)
awake

Current Mood: awake
Current Song: Say No to This from the musical Hamilton

2017 blog tour

Today's stop on the 2017 Sydney Taylor Book Award blog tour is right here at Bildungsroman, with Joel ben Izzy, author of Dreidels on the Brain, recipient of the Sydney Taylor Honor Book in the Older Readers category. Our interview started even BEFORE page one...

At the start of Dreidels on the Brain, on the publication info page (yes, I always read that!), you say this book is "a work of fiction - and friction - that filled [your] childhood." What prompted you to fictionalize your own experience?

It's so cool that you even read the publication page! I suppose that, as a storyteller, most of my life walks the tightrope between fiction and non-fiction. When I first started traveling around the world telling stories, way back in the early 1980's, I only told folktales. Soon, though, I found that I was introducing the stories by telling about things that had happened on the way to or from my performances, and eventually those introductions grew into stories themselves. After years of that, most everything I did for kids - and adults - had some autobiographical element to it.

Dreidels on the Brain is mostly a memoir, with some parts fictionalized. But I think that the hard and fast distinction between "fiction" and "non-fiction" is overrated. I think of my writing as something between the two - "faction."

Do you approach writing short stories differently from writing full-length novels?

To be honest, I haven't written short stories for a long time, since college. Back then the approach was this:

1) Think about an idea for a short story for a long, long time
2) Discard idea because it's not brilliant enough
3) Come up with another idea
4) Repeat, ad nauseum, never actually writing anything
5) Walk around like a frustrated writer
6) Drop out of college and go to Paris.

That said, yes, the approach is very different, but probably has more to do with my age - and maybe some maturity that's crept in - than the form itself.

Does your process differ depending on the age of your intended audience?

My first book, The Beggar King and the Secret of Happiness was geared for adults, though it's read in a lot of high schools now. I suppose that was the book that got me into actually writing - the hard way. I had been traveling around the world telling stories for about 15 years when my own story took a sharp twist - I found I had thyroid cancer. It's considered a "good cancer" (which is a bizarre term, like "jumbo shrimp"). That's because you can operate on it, remove the thyroid gland, and go on living. In my case, though, there was a rare complication: When I awoke from surgery I discovered I could no longer speak. At first doctors said the loss was temporary, but later they decided it was permanent. So it was that I fell into a story as strange as any I had ever told - and that's the story I tell in The Beggar King and the Secret of Happiness. Even though it's published for adults, it's good for older kids - and a lot of high schools read it.

Like I said, in that case, I came back to writing the hard way. Dreidels on the Brain is something of a prequel to that book, set when I was a 12 year old magician, the nerdiest of nerds, stuck in the suburbs of the suburbs of Los Angeles. Though I could do magic, what I really wanted was a genuine miracle - and I wanted it to happen during the eight nights of Hanukkah. So, I made a bet with God, over a game of dreidel - and the story takes off from there.

Do you have any writing rituals?

I am a stunningly disciplined writer, beginning as the clock strikes 7:00 a.m. each morning, and producing exactly 300 words each and every day, and if I reach that number before I am finished I will stop right in the very middle of a -

Just kidding.

I do like to write in the morning, and if there are a bunch of dirty dishes in the sink and I can wash them, I find that's the best time for thinking. I also find that if I can get right to the writing, it's good - but if I get stuck making even one call to some insurance company or dealing with anything else bureaucratic, that creative-semi-dream state goes right out the window.

There's a particular café nearby (I live in Berkeley, close to UC Berkeley) which is good for writing in, and the walking there always helps generate ideas. The other thing that's really helpful - especially in the afternoon - is riding my bike up into the hills of the East Bay. There's something about peddling around that really helps me work through thoughts, come up with dialog, plot twists and so on.

Did any of your family members read the book prior to its publication and act as "beta readers"?

My wife and kids are far beta readers than me. In Dreidels on the Brain, they all got really involved.

I thought it was finished, then gave it to my son, Elijah, who was 23, who read it, liked it a lot, then said, "That's pretty good. But I think your main character is too nice. Twelve year olds aren't that nice, in case you've forgotten. I sure wasn't. Make him a little more of a jerk."

And my daughter, Izzy, who was 20, had big contributions. Again, she liked it, but said, "Your female lead character (Amy O'Shea, my magician's assistant) is something of a MPDG." I had to go look that up, and learned all about Manic Pixie Dream Girls. With that comment - and a lot of work - Amy's character changed entirely, so she had a life and storyline of her own.

But the biggest input was from my wife, Taly. I gave it to her when I thought I was almost finished, and she said "It's good, but… it could be a lot better." So she began to work with me, side by side, for months. Really, it was beyond editing, and that became a true collaboration. I tell the story in the acknowledgments. She really worked on this, and made Dreidels on the Brain a much, much better book.

Which of your books was the most difficult to write? The easiest?

I just have these two at this point, and they were both really difficult to write. I guess I'm kind of an ambitious writer, trying to tell a story that makes sense out life, death, God, magic, miracles, grief, illness and everything else.

It always amazes me when I go into a bookstore and see how many books there are, and how some writers have written a bunch. I guess writing for some writers comes easily, but not for me.

What's important to me, though, is not how hard or easy my books are to write, but rather how hard or easy they are to read. I like to write stories that someone will sit down with and want to finish the whole thing. I think it's almost an inverse relationship - the harder I work to write them, the more readable they become. At least I hope so.

You have been a live storyteller in addition to your work as a writer. What's your favorite part of performing live and recounting stories in front of an audience?

When I tell stories, I get to watch their faces. I don't just watch them - I read them. The response is instantaneous and gratifying. You can play with the timing, stretch the pauses, improvise, and really craft the story fresh, right there. It's magic. Not like the magic tricks I did in Dreidels on the Brain - telling a story live is real magic. And, if you can get the writing right, a book can be too.

What's your favorite part of hearing from young readers?

I love to know what resonates with them. It's different with a book, because of the lag time - which can be years. But it's great to hear that something I've written has stuck with them.

That's something I'm seeing more and more these days, having been a storyteller for over 30 years now. Adults come up to me, there's a look on their faces, and they say, "Hey, you told me stories when I was a kid! I remember them! In fact, you told me one about a guy who had a bird, hidden in his hand…" And they'll tell me the whole story. It's so cool that they remember.

Now that you have children, which holiday and/or family traditions have you passed down to them? What have you created that's new, or what have you continued from your own childhood?

Well, there's a lot there to talk about, but I'd just focus on one from Hanukkah, as that's what Dreidels on the Brain is about. I write about watching the candles burn down - and hoping that the shammes (the helper candle, which lights all the rest) will be the last to burn out. I love it when I can do that with my kids.

What books or authors did you love when you were 12?

In Dreidels on the Brain, I write about the influence of one of my favorite books, Zlateh the Goat, by Isaac Bashevis Singer. That's where I first read stories about Chelm, the mythical Jewish town of fools, which weaves in and out of Dreidels on the Brain.

I think that somewhere around that age I read the whole Wizard of Oz series, and the Hardy Boys mysteries as well. Mostly, though, I would go to the library and find anything they had about magic – and Houdini – and read those books again and again.

List ten of your favorite books. Any genre, any style.

I re-read Huckleberry Finn every few years, as well as The Odyssey. I'm pretty fond of Catcher in the Rye (the working title for this book was Kvetcher in the Rye). And I'm pretty fond of kids books by authors like Richard Peck, Sharon Creech, and Roald Dahl - as they tell really great stories. I loved listening to The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime and The Secret Life of Bees - I'm a total sucker for audio books, which would make sense, as a storyteller. I love Sholom Aleichem's stories (Tevye the Dairyman, which became the basis for Fiddler on the Roof, which also plays a part in Dreidels on the Brain). I loved One Hundred Years of Solitude - especially the first line: "Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendía was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice."

And, no matter how hard they were to write, I'm pretty fond of my own two books - though I'm probably not supposed to say that.

Want to learn more about Joel and his stories? Visit storypage.com

The 2017 Sydney Taylor Book Award blog tour continues through February 10th. Here's the full schedule:

MONDAY, FEBRUARY 6th, 2017

Adam Gidwitz and Hatem Aly, author and illustrator of The Inquisitor's Tale
Sydney Taylor Book Award winner in the Older Readers category
At The Prosen People

Gavriel Savit, author of Anna and the Swallow Man
Sydney Taylor Book Award winner in the Teen Readers category
At Book Q&A's with Deborah Kalb

TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 7th, 2017

Debbie Levy and Elizabeth Baddeley, author and illustrator of I Dissent
Sydney Taylor Book Award winner in the Younger Readers category
At Ima On and Off the Bima

Joel ben Izzy, author of Dreidels on the Brain
Sydney Taylor Honor Book in the Older Readers category
At Bildungsroman

WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 8th, 2017

Andrea Davis Pinkney (author), Steve Johnson and Lou Fancher (illustrators) of A Poem for Peter
Sydney Taylor Honor Book in the Older Readers category
At The Book of Life

THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 9th, 2017

Michelle Edwards and G. Brian Karas, author and illustrator of A Hat for Mrs. Goldman
Sydney Taylor Honor Book in the Younger Readers category
At Jewish Books for Kids with Barbara Bietz

Richard Michelson and Edel Rodriguez, author and illustrator of Fascinating
Sydney Taylor Honor Book in the Younger Readers category
At The Horn Book Blog

FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 10th, 2017

Blog tour wrap-up at The Whole Megillah


Little Willow [userpic]

Booklist: Tough Issues for Teens

February 5th, 2017 (09:00 am)
hopeful

Current Mood: hopeful
Current Song: Just Enough by Aslyn

One afternoon in the bookstore, a young woman in her late teens approached me and said, "Excuse me. Can you help me? I want some books like . . . " She named a few teen fiction titles that dealt with drug abuse and anorexia. She looked slightly uncomfortable but mostly excited. I told her that I could recommend many good books. Within minutes, she was sitting on the floor in the teen fiction section, a plastic basket full to the brim with books, with additional titles in her hand and next to her knees and her feet.

We had a great discussion. I was happy on any levels: happy that she felt comfortable enough to come to me, happy that she was open-minded, happy that I got some realistic, well-written books in her hand. This urged me to make a list of books dealing tough issues - eating disorders, loss and grieving, addiction, abuse, and so forth.

Due to subject matter, many of these books are recommended for older teens as well as adults, be they parents, teachers, librarians, or simply avid readers.

I've read every title on this list, and have given each book a rating according to the United States movie rating guide - G, PG, PG-13, or R - based on content, and a number of stars - four being the best - based on quality (my personal opinion).



PARENTAL ABUSE OR NEGLECT - Physical or emotional abuse, alcoholism, etc.
Read more...Collapse )

ABUSE BY OTHERS - physical or emotional abuse; date or acquaintance rape; accusations, secrets and lies
Read more...Collapse )

TEACHER/STUDENT RELATIONSHIPS - be they romantic relationships or rumors or no romance, but a definite abuse of power
Read more...Collapse )

POSITIVE & PLATONIC TEACHER/STUDENT RELATIONSHIPS - teachers positively influencing and educating their pupils
Read more...Collapse )

PARENT/CHILD RELATIONSHIPS - reconnecting with or distancing oneself from absentee parents, dealing with restrictions and expectations
Read more...Collapse )

LONG-LOST SIBLINGS - reconnecting with siblings, or meeting them for the first time
Read more...Collapse )

ORIENTATION AND/OR GENDER ROLES
Read more...Collapse )

VIOLENCE AT SCHOOL
Read more...Collapse )

EATING DISORDERS
Read more...Collapse )

PHYSICAL DISORDERS/INJURIES/SPECIAL NEEDS - protagonist, siblings, friends
Read more...Collapse )

BODY CHANGES - growing up and dealing with natural physical changes (as opposed to health, weight, or body image issues; disorders/injuries are in a separate list above this one)
Read more...Collapse )

TEENAGE PREGNANCY - may also deal with adoption and/or abortion
Read more...Collapse )

TEENAGE ALCOHOLISM
Read more...Collapse )

MENTAL ILLNESS OF A PARENT, RELATIVE, OR PEER
Read more...Collapse )

DEPRESSION
Read more...Collapse )

RECOVERY/SUPPORT GROUPS
Read more...Collapse )

CUTTING
Read more...Collapse )

STEALING
Read more...Collapse )

DIVORCE, SEPARATION, AND/OR STEPFAMILIES - parents dating, getting remarried, etc
Read more...Collapse )

LOSS OR PHYSICAL ILLNESS OF A PARENT
Read more...Collapse )

LOSS OR ILLNESS OF A SIBLING
Read more...Collapse )

LOSS OR ILLNESS OF A FRIEND OR PEER
Read more...Collapse )

LOSS OR ILLNESS OF A GRANDPARENT
Read more...Collapse )

LOSS OR ILLNESS OF ANOTHER CLOSE RELATIVE AND/OR ADULT
Read more...Collapse )

PROTAGONIST WITH AN ILLNESS
Read more...Collapse )

DRUG ADDICTION
Read more...Collapse )

CAR ACCIDENTS (and similar accidents)
Read more...Collapse )

INCARCERATION OF A RELATIVE
Read more...Collapse )

ADOPTION - Also foster care, group homes, and counseling
Read more...Collapse )

KIDNAPPING
Read more...Collapse )

CULTURAL IDENTITY
Read more...Collapse )

SUICIDE OR SUICIDAL TENDENCIES
Read more...Collapse )

ACADEMICS - cheating, excelling, or otherwise dealing with academic pressure
Read more...Collapse )

SOCIAL STATUS - at school or otherwise with peers; popularity, bullying, et al.
Read more...Collapse )

PEER PRESSURE
Read more...Collapse )

RELIGION
Read more...Collapse )

POLITICS
Read more...Collapse )

ACTIVISM
Read more...Collapse )

INTERNET SAFETY - and/or cyberbullying
Read more...Collapse )

SEEKING SHELTER - family shelters, homelessness, runaways
Read more...Collapse )

I hope that this list helps readers of all ages find books they may be too shy to openly discuss with a bookseller or librarian. I want those readers to know they may leave a comment here and tell me which books they have found valuable. Most of all, I want them to know they can talk to their friends or adults they know in order to get the answers and help they may need.

If you would like for me to add more titles about a certain subject, or if you want more information about any of the books on the list, please leave a comment.

Special thanks to those who have shown their support of this list by offering me links, comments, and compliments, such as Jen Robinson, Bookseller Chick, Robin Brande, Sassymonkey at BlogHer, Daisy Whitney, Caroline, Bookstore People, and Jennifer R. Hubbard.

Little Willow [userpic]

Poetry Friday: The Waste Land by T.S. Eliot (lines 19-30)

February 3rd, 2017 (06:00 am)
determined

Current Mood: determined

What are the roots that clutch, what branches grow
Out of this stony rubbish? Son of man,
You cannot say, or guess, for you know only
A heap of broken images, where the sun beats,
And the dead tree gives no shelter, the cricket no relief,
And the dry stone no sound of water. Only
There is shadow under this red rock,
(Come in under the shadow of this red rock),
And I will show you something different from either
Your shadow at morning striding behind you
Or your shadow at evening rising to meet you;
I will show you fear in a handful of dust.

- selected lines from The Waste Land by T.S. Eliot

View all posts tagged as Poetry Friday at Bildungsroman.

View the roundup schedule at A Year of Reading.

Learn more about Poetry Friday.

Little Willow [userpic]

Books to Read (Forthcoming Releases)

February 1st, 2017 (07:00 am)
thoughtful

Current Mood: thoughtful
Current Song: Without a Trace theme song

February 2017
Grim Death and Bill the Electrocuted Criminal by Mike Mignola and Tom Sniegoski
Here We Are: Feminism for the Real World by Kelly Jensen
We Are Okay by Nina LaCour

April 2017
Ararat by Christopher Golden
Gem & Dixie by Sara Zarr

May 2017
The End of Magic by Amber Benson (final book of the Echo Park Coven trilogy)
Monstrous by Thomas E. Sniegoski
Real Friends by Shannon Hale, illustrated by LeUyen Pham
The Supernormal Sleuthing Service #1: The Lost Legacy by Gwenda Bond and Christopher Rowe
Totally Crushed by Kristen Tracy

June 2017
Indigo by Charlaine Harris, Christopher Golden, Kelley Armstrong, Jonathan Maberry, Kat Richardson, Seanan McGuire, Tim Lebbon, Cherie Priest, James Moore, and Mark Morris
Let's Pretend We Never Met by Melissa Walker
Once and for All by Sarah Dessen

July 2017
I See London, I See France by Sarah Mlynowski
Dark Exodus by Thomas E. Sniegoski

September 2017
Alexander Hamilton, Revolutionary by Martha Brockenbrough

Sometime in 2017
The Baby-Sitters Club Graphix #5: Dawn and the Impossible Three by Ann M. Martin, adapted by Gale Galligan
The Baby-Sitters Club Graphix #6 by Ann M. Martin, adapted by Gale Galligan
Breakaway by Gale Galligan
Hazel by Gale Galligan
Sam & Ilsa by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan
Solutions and Other Problems by Allie Brosh
World of Payne Book 0: Ghost Dog by Tom Sniegoski and Frank Cho

Fall 2018
A Blade So Black by L.L. McKinney
Magic Camper by Courtney Sheinmel and Bianca Turetsky ‏

Sometime in 2018
Dear Miss Sweetie by Stacey Lee

Little Willow [userpic]

Best Books of January 2017

January 31st, 2017 (05:59 pm)
awake

Current Mood: awake
Current Song: Say No to This from the musical Hamilton

January 2017: 49 books and scripts read

The first month of 2017 was filled with pages; I read some supernatural stories, a graphic novel, and a lot of unpublished scripts and screenplays that I can't disclose. Good books and good movies served as a lovely balm when the news of the world clawed at my heart. Thank you, storytellers, for reminding people of the strength and beauty that exists in the world. Thank you, protestors, for standing up for what's right.

Little Willow [userpic]

2017 Sydney Taylor Book Award Blog Tour

January 30th, 2017 (07:10 pm)
sleepy

Current Mood: sleepy
Current Song: Breathless by The Corrs

2017 SYDNEY TAYLOR BOOK AWARD BLOG TOUR
2017 blog tour

Learn more about the 2017 Sydney Taylor Book Award gold and silver medalists during their blog tour February 6th through February 10th! I'll be posting my interview with Joel ben Izzy, author of Dreidels on the Brain, on Tuesday, February 7th. Here's the full schedule:

MONDAY, FEBRUARY 6th, 2017

Adam Gidwitz and Hatem Aly, author and illustrator of The Inquisitor's Tale
Sydney Taylor Book Award winner in the Older Readers category
At The Prosen People

Gavriel Savit, author of Anna and the Swallow Man
Sydney Taylor Book Award winner in the Teen Readers category
At Book Q&A's with Deborah Kalb

TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 7th, 2017

Debbie Levy and Elizabeth Baddeley, author and illustrator of I Dissent
Sydney Taylor Book Award winner in the Younger Readers category
At Ima On and Off the Bima

Joel ben Izzy, author of Dreidels on the Brain
Sydney Taylor Honor Book in the Older Readers category
At Bildungsroman

WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 8th, 2017

Andrea Davis Pinkney (author), Steve Johnson and Lou Fancher (illustrators) of A Poem for Peter
Sydney Taylor Honor Book in the Older Readers category
At The Book of Life

THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 9th, 2017

Michelle Edwards and G. Brian Karas, author and illustrator of A Hat for Mrs. Goldman
Sydney Taylor Honor Book in the Younger Readers category
At Jewish Books for Kids with Barbara Bietz

Richard Michelson and Edel Rodriguez, author and illustrator of Fascinating
Sydney Taylor Honor Book in the Younger Readers category
At The Horn Book Blog

FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 10th, 2017

Blog tour wrap-up at The Whole Megillah


Little Willow [userpic]

Will there really be a morning by Emily Dickinson

January 27th, 2017 (06:00 am)
awake

Current Mood: awake
Current Song: Wayne by Chantal Kreviazuk

Will there really be a morning?
Is there such a thing as day?
Could I see it from the mountains
If I were as tall as they?

Has it feet like water-lilies?
Has it feathers like a bird?
Is it brought from famous countries
Of which I have never heard?

Oh, some scholar! Oh, some sailor!
Oh, some wise man from the skies!
Please to tell a little pilgrim
Where the place called morning lies!

- by Emily Dickinson

View all posts tagged as Poetry Friday at Bildungsroman.

View the roundup schedule at A Year of Reading.

Learn more about Poetry Friday.

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