The New Harry Potter Story from J.K. Rowling

Hear more about the latest update on The Boy Who Lived, published on Rowling’s Pottermore website yesterday.

harry potter grown up

HP superfans will be delighted to hear that author JK Rowling, despite insisting that she won’t return to write another addition to her popular series, has released a short update on the adult lives of her beloved characters. The 1,500 word story appears in the form of a gossip column on Rowling’s Pottermore website, written from the perspective of her tabloid journalist character Rita Skeeter.

In it Skeeter reports from the grounds of the current Quidditch World Cup in Patagonia. As usual, nobody is safe from the sharp-quilled busybody, as Skeeter kicks up dirt on Dumbledore’s Army members Harry and Ginny, Ron and Hermione, Neville Longbottom, Luna Lovegood, and more. Among the most scandalous “discoveries” Skeeter shares with her Daily Prophet readers are the Longbottoms’ penchant for a tad too much firewhisky and Teddy Lupin and Victoire Weasley’s steamy snog sessions (“The good news is both of them seem to have invented a method of breathing through their ears”).

If you, too, are nostalgic for a time when we could all look forward to another Harry Potter adventure, read Rowling’s latest tidbit, “Dumbledore’s Army Reunites at Quidditch World Cup Final” here, and let us know what you think!

 


The Giver Trailer is Here and It Looks Awesomely Creepy

Lois Lowry’s Newbery Award-winning novel The Giver is coming to the big screen, and the first official trailer is out. Take a peek!

The film will star big names Jeff Bridges (as the Giver), Meryl Streep, and Katie Holmes. Newcomer Brenton Thwaites will play the lead role of Jonas, the new Receiver of Memory for his community. Read the rest of this entry »


2013 National Book Award Winners

Is your Kindle finger itching? Do you have a yearning to go to the bookstore or library but don’t know what sounds good? Well, maybe this will help.  Last night, this year’s National Book Awards were announced. Here is the complete list of winners and finalists.

James McBride took the fiction prize for his novel The Good Lord Bird (Riverhead Books/Penguin Group USA):

the-good-lord-bird-james-mcbride

Abolitionist John Brown calls her “Little Onion,” but her real name is Henry. A slave in Kansas mistaken for a girl due to the sackcloth smock he was wearing when Brown shot his master, the light-skinned, curly-haired 12-year-old ends up living as a young woman, most often encamped with Brown’s renegade band of freedom warriors as they traverse the country, raising arms and ammunition for their battle against slavery. Though they travel to Rochester, New York, to meet with Frederick Douglass and Canada to enlist the help of Harriet Tubman, Brown and his ragtag army fail to muster sufficient support for their mission to liberate African Americans, heading inexorably to the infamously bloody and pathetic raid on Harpers Ferry.  Starred Review, Booklist  –Carol Haggas

Finalists for the prize included:

Rachel Kushner, The Flamethrowers (Scribner/Simon & Schuster)

Jhumpa Lahiri, The Lowland (Alfred A. Knopf/Random House)

Thomas Pynchon, Bleeding Edge (The Penguin Press/Penguin Group USA)

George Saunders, Tenth of December (Random House)

The winner for non-fiction is George Packer for The Unwinding: An Inner History of the New America (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

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Do It Now: Advice from Doris Lessing and Junie B. Jones

The world lost two influential literary voices this week. Nobel Prize-winning author Doris Lessing, best known for her novel The Golden Notebook passed away Sunday at age 94.  And Barbara Park, author of the beloved children’s books featuring her irascible character Junie B. Jones, died Friday after a long battle with ovarian cancer.  Park was 66.

While it may not seem that these two very different authors have a lot in common, what Park and Lessing shared was a love of vocal women as well as sense of appreciation for life and its transient nature. Park captured what few writers for children manage to do successfully: the energy and curiosity of a girl with a questioning mind.  For her part, Lessing was always adjusting the lens.  As we get older, the clarity of a Junie B. Jones is harder to maintain, but Lessing asks us to remember, and to seek the authentic in an often exhausting world.

I wonder what Junie B. and Lessing might have to say to each other:

carpe

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Libraries and Kids: The Only True Magic

where-the-wild-things-are-680uw True Story:  I remember getting my library card more vividly than I recall getting my driver’s license.  My best memories of childhood were going to the library with my mom and checking out armfuls of books, which she would read to me for hours on end.  At two, I am told, I would stand on tiptoe at the librarian’s desk and request  favorites or authors (I didn’t know why the lady laughed at me.  I guess most toddlers weren’t as particular.) I would rather go to the library than the movies, or the park, or anywhere else.  Still true. The libraries I recall were nothing fancy.  Maybe some bulletin boards heralding an upcoming holiday or new books perched half-open, standing on top of shelves. Of course in 197…(cough, cough), there were not nearly as many ways for a child to be entertained.  The television had four channels (as God intended):  ABC, CBS, NBC, and PBS.  Cartoons were from 7am to 10am, period. No LOL cats, no Youtube…. I like to scare my son with these tidbits. Today, libraries are competing to keep your child reading and finding some interesting ways to do so, by engaging the imagination.  Here are a few of my favorite new spaces, and some words from others who continue to love libraries:

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Spain’s Playoffice, a child-centric design firm, created the “reading net” in an attempt to making reading more fun for kids. The “reading net” stretches across the length of a library room, and kids can play on it in between chapters.

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“This Is Not My Hat” Wins the 2013 Caldecott Medal

not_hat

A couple of years ago, I was going about my Sunday chores and listening to NPR’s Weekend Edition with Scott Simon.  A writer of children’s books myself and a lover of children’s literature in general, my ears always perk up when Daniel Pinkwater comes on the show to discuss a new children’s book.  The one he selected for this program was I Want My Hat Back by Jon Klassen.

hat_back

I was captivated by the deceptively simple story and delighted in Simon and Pinkwater’s animated reading of the book and their descriptions of Klaussen’s illustrations.  It seemed to me to strike the right balance of humor and a bit of angst, just right for the 4-to-8 year old set.  (You can listen to that broadcast here.)

Of course, I wasn’t alone in my delight. Klaussen’s book went on to become a #1 New York Times bestseller, winning a place on its list of “Best Books of 2011, and also nabbing the Theodore Geisel Honor (Dr. Seuss) that same year as well.

This year, Klaussen followed his runaway hit with This Is Not My Hat, and again found popular and critical success, ultimately winning the Caldecott Award, the highest honor for an illustrated children’s book.  In this story, a tiny fish comes upon a round top hat which fits him perfectly…and all will be well, unless the enormous fish to whom it belongs wakes up.

Hats and children’s books have a long history.  Here are some examples which you might also recall fondly:

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Baffling Banned Books: A Fun (Disturbing) Quiz!

If you’ve waited to celebrate the chance to be Officially Subversive during Banned Books Week, it’s not too late!  Sure, you probably figured that Huck Finn is a perennial favorite for its politically incorrect language and Fifty Shades of Grey for its Crimes Against Ink and Trees, but I am willing to bet there are quite a few that will make you say, “Ummm. What?”  The alleged  “reasons” for protecting Our Nation’s Youth are even more bizarre than you can imagine. 

Take our quiz and see if you can guess the actual arguments that succeeded in getting the following ten books on the Naughty List. Answers at the end of quiz!

charlotte

1.  Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White

a)  The National Pork Council feared declining bacon sales

b)  Children were trapping dangerous spiders and being bitten

c)  A Kansas school district decided that talking animals are blasphemous and unnatural

d)  Girls were being encouraged to defy their fathers

brave

2.  Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

a)  Removed from classrooms in Miller, Missouri, for ‘making promiscuous sex look like fun.’

b)  Removed from Texas libraries for “encouraging revolution”

c)  Attempted ban in California for “focusing on negativity.”

d) Both a and c

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