Book Review: The Forest Laird

March 29th, 2012 No comments

By Jack Whyte
Forge Books ©2012 | Hardcover 512pgs

Scottish history buffs and fans of historical fiction will have no trouble immersing themselves in The Forest Laird: A Tale of William Wallace, the first novel in the new Guardians Trilogy by Jack Whyte. The bestselling author of the Dream of Eagles series and The Camulod Chronicles, Scottish born Whyte imagines the early life of one of his homeland’s greatest heroes. The author conducted in-depth research into his subject, even traveling throughout Scotland on a fact-finding mission. Unfortunately little documentation remains of the freedom fighter’s life before his stunning victory against the English at Stirling Bridge in 1297. However, this absence of fact is fertile ground for the mind of an historical novelist, and the writer fills the void with very interesting and well-developed characters. Read more…

Steve Martin Finds Comedy Inspiration in Twitter Universe

March 19th, 2012 1 comment

Comedian Steve Martin stopped by NPR’s Morning Edition program last week to talk about his latest book The Ten, Make That Nine, Habits Of Very Organized People. Make That Ten., inspired by his Twitter feed. Martin did not join the Twitter universe until 2010, when friend Tom Hanks encouraged him to try tweeting for promotional purposes. “…I thought, well that’s interesting, because I was growing frustrated that when you do a movie or a record, that you have to promote it. I was going on television [and] playing to an audience of 4 million, for example, and maybe only 400 of them were interested in my so-called product. And I thought if I had a Twitter feed and say I had a following of a 100,000, that means 100,000 of them would be interested in my book,” the funny man explained.

“It was logical, but it didn’t turn out to be true. It turned out if I had a Twitter feed of a 100,000, four of them were interested in my book. So, tweeting is really only good for one thing — it’s just good for tweeting … It is rewarding, because it’s just its own reward. It’s sort of like heaven.” Read more…

Prison Libraries Aid Rehabilitation

February 10th, 2012 No comments

The state of America’s prison system, and its ability to rehabilitate inmates, are hotly debated political and social topics. Even educational elements, like prison libraries, which are widely viewed as having a positive impact on inmate’s lives, can come under fire when issues of budget and censorship arise. In the recent blog post 15 Amazing Effects of Prison Libraries, presents the far reaching benefits of allowing prisoners access literary resources. Read more…

Reading Rainbow Resurrected?!

February 9th, 2012 No comments

The Emmy winning PBS series Reading Rainbow had been entertaining and educating children for 26 years when it lost it’s funding in 2009 and went off the air. LeVar Burton, the program’s host and executive producer, believes that the show’s core message of teaching kids the joy of reading is still vital, and hopes to revive the series using digital media. “There is a brand new generation of kids who could definitely use the kind of spark and inspiration Reading Rainbow provided where actually becoming a reader is concerned,” said Burton in an interview with Mashable. “As far as I can tell, reading will never go out of style, and neither will good old fashioned storytelling.” Read more…

Dickens’ 200th Birthday Celebrated Worldwide

February 7th, 2012 No comments

Readers around the world are commemorating the 200th birthday of beloved author Charles Dickens today. Among the numerous events planned is a Global Dickens read-a-thon launched this morning by the British Council. At the top of each hour, a new video of a Dickens reading is posted on the Council’s Twitter feed (@BritishCouncil). The posted readings are chosen from submissions worldwide. According to the British Council’s website “Each exclusive clip will reflect on the most interesting, engaging and significant moments in Dickens’ literary colossus.” Read more…

Groundbreaking Picture Book The Snowy Day Turns 50

February 3rd, 2012 No comments

The Snowy Day, the Caldecott Medal winning picture book by Ezra Jack Keats, celebrates its 50th anniversary this year. The story depicts the explorations of a young boy named Peter, who wanders about his neighborhood after a fresh snowfall. The book broke new ground by featuring an African-American boy as the main character, charmingly drawn in an iconic red snow suit. The child’s race is never referenced in the text. “It wasn’t important. It wasn’t the point,” explained Deborah Pope, the executive director of the Ezra Jack Keats Foundation, on NPR’s All Things Considered program. “The point is that this is a beautiful book about a child’s encounter with snow, and the wonder of it.” Read more…

Franzen Prefers the Quality of the Printed Word

January 30th, 2012 No comments

Lauded author Jonathan Franzen held the first press conference of his career this week at the Hay Festival, a literature and arts festival held in Cartagena de Indias, Colombia, where he will serve as a headline speaker. The writer spoke on several weighty topics such as politics and religion, and expressed his thoughts on the inferiority of eBooks, when compared to traditional printed books. “The technology I like is the American paperback edition of Freedom. I can spill water on it and it would still work! So it’s pretty good technology. And what’s more, it will work great 10 years from now. So no wonder the capitalists hate it. It’s a bad business model,” Franzen is reported as saying in The Telegraph.

“I think, for serious readers, a sense of permanence has always been part of the experience. Everything else in your life is fluid, but here is this text that doesn’t change. Read more…

The Advantages of Being an Introvert

January 27th, 2012 No comments

Modern American society seems to prize the extrovert, those with brash, outgoing personalities often climb to the tops of both corporate and social ladders. Yet, as former attorney, Susan Cain, writes in her new book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, introverts have their own subtle advantages. The Harvard law school alumna viewed her own cautious manner as a sort of hindrance in her professional life, until research into the introverted personality helped her realize that many traits that society views as faults are actually very powerful attributes. Quiet, the result of her research, draws from personal interviews, as well as the latest finds in neuroscience and psychology, and works to correct misconceptions of introverts and empower them to embrace their nature. Read more…

A Storyteller Shaped by History

January 24th, 2012 No comments

In a recent interview with The Children’s Book Review, celebrated children’s book author Patricia Polacco spoke about her gift of storytelling. When asked if it was a gift she was born with, the author replied: “I don’t know that story tellers are born. I think I was shaped into one by being raised by amazing story tellers. My dad was a wonderful story teller, his family was Irish. My mother’s people were Russian and Ukrainian, natural story tellers. So I literally, inherited it from both sides.”

Polacco has certainly nurtured the talents her ancestors passed on to her, as is evident in her numerous awards and the impressive list of over 50 picture books that she has written and illustrated, including Bun Bun Button, The Art of Miss Chew, and The Keeping Quilt. But it is not only her personal history that inspires her stories, but also cultural and folkloric history as well. Her latest book, Just in Time, Abraham Lincoln, takes two young boys on a trip through time to meet President Abraham Lincoln during the Civil War. While the beloved story Babushka Baba Yaga, was based on Russian folklore. Read more…

New Release: The Fault in Our Stars

January 18th, 2012 No comments

By John Green
Dutton Juvenile | 336pgs
Release Date: January 10, 2012

Award-winning young adult author John Green addresses the serious issues of sickness and death in his latest novel The Fault in Our Stars. Protagonist Hazel ­Lancaster is a teenager grappling with her terminal cancer diagnosis when she meets Augustus Waters in a cancer support group. Their shared enthusiasm for ultra-violent video games and Dutch author Peter van Houten fosters a love that grows despite their illnesses. Told with a spark of humor to balance the gravity of the subject matter, Green crafts a story that is both heartwarming and heartbreaking. Read more…