Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Halloween Reading Haunts - 2012

So, here are my top picks for the best Halloween and Halloween/Fall-esque/Spooky picture books, children's books, YA novels and even a few "non children's books" novels!  The list is made up of some new books, some old favorites, and a few that I've been wanting to read but haven't had a chance to.  I would love to just sit all day on Halloween and read these books, but unfortunately I won't be doing that, maybe I'll sneak a few in though :)

Hope you enjoy your Halloween!

What books are you reading this Halloween??

For the children's/YA/Adult novel choices:

The next four are specifically novels surrounding the Salem Witch Trials, I used to be fascinated by this historical episode when I was in upper elementary school, which is probably strange, but I just found it so interesting and strange:

I was obsessed with this book when I was in third or fourth grade, not sure what it was about it, I'll have to go back and read some day and see why I continued to check it out:

And for the Picture Books!

This one was suggested to me by a few people, and I haven't read it yet but LOVE the illustrations so thanks to Julie Danielson and Lindsey Manwell for pointing me to it!:

One of my favorites when I was little:

And from Jane Yolen, haven't read this before but looks interesting, unfortunately my library doesn't have it!:

And last but not least, I'm not sure when this tradition stopped, probably about the time we got a DVD player, but I have fond memories of watching this movie every, single Halloween:

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Fairy Tale Q&A with Cornelia Funke!

So, Cornelia Funke.  She has literally been my favorite author for years and years, ever since I read Inkheart.  That is why I'm so excited to announce that the first ever author Q & A on Alice in Baker Street is with the lovely, Cornelia Funke!

As all of you know, this semester I'm taking a class on Grimm's Fairy Tales. Last summer I read Reckless, the first of Cornelia Funke's new series inspired by fairy tales and since then I have been following the progress of her latest projects in the Mirrorworld, hearing all about her research into the fairy tales of Russia and Ukraine, of England and France, and I was just mesmerized by all she was discovering.

And so some weeks ago, I contacted Cornelia and was over the moon when she offered to answer any questions I might have about fairy tales!  So, here we go:

                      What was your favorite fairy tale as a child?  Is that still your favorite fairy tale?

I think it was The Six Swans, where a sister has to turn her cursed brothers from swans into human beings again. It is still one of my absolute favourites, but there are so many wonderful tales! :)

            Is there a volume of fairy tales on your bedside table? If yes, which one?

At the moment it is Cossack Fairy Tales and Russian Fairy Tales, as they are my research for Reckless Book 3.

What was the last fairy tale that made you really think, or moved you emotionally, or just impressed you in some way?

I read so many since I work on the Mirrorworld books, that I don’t really know which one to pick.  I loved The Fire Bird, a famous Russian Tale, but I also loved a French tale about the blacksmith of Pont de Pille. I used motives of it for Reckless 2.

      Are you currently reading a fairy tale? Which one?

Many many many, Jess. The list would fill pages!

      Why do you think similarly themed fairy tales have cropped up in all corners of the world?  What about fairy tales like Beauty and the Beast and Cinderella or Snow White or many others make it so universal that they are found all over the world in various forms?

I think they show that human beings have the same desires and fears all over the world. On the other hand I love the differences between the tales, as they tell so much about the various countries, cultures and how deeply rooted our tales are in landscapes and local history. They are travel guides to every country in the world.

      Do you have a favorite illustration of a fairy tale and/or a favorite illustrator who did illustrations for a fairy tales?

I very much love the Russian illustrators, like Spirin for example and then Harry Clarke and Edmund Dulac.

      Last one, I love the fact that you have your space in your writing house where you post images that inspire you! (It was so cool to see a video that was made where you showed bits of your inspiration wall, I love seeing that because it inspires me too!) Do you have any images there right now that are inspiring your writing of Fearless? 

The images for Fearless are already stored away in a few boxes. Now my walls are covered with images for Book 3, that brings Jacob and Fox to the Ukraine and Russia. One part of the wall is covered with images of all the characters I met so far in Book 1-3. Another part is all about the Goyl, showing sculptures of Auguste Rodin and Bernini to remind me how much alive stone can look.

Thanks so much to Cornelia for taking the time to answer my questions and allow all of you to hear her answers as well!!  

Look for Fearless, the next book in the fairy tale-inspired Mirrorworld series, coming out April 2, 2013!

What are your Favorite Picture Books?

So, I have A LOT of picture books out from the library right now (there's a sampling of them above) but last week in my Children's Literature class we were asked to think about what makes a picture book great.  On Tuesday we discussed picture books and Thursday comics/graphic novels, and our professor asked us to think about what makes a perfect picture book, and also what are our favorite picture books and graphic novels, excluding Where the Wild Things Are and Hugo Cabret, which we discussed in class.  So, these are the books I ended up bringing in, and I even found my favorite picture book from when I was little on our bookshelf!

Picture Books:

My all time favorite book when I was little, that I remember looking at and reading all of the time was Nancy White Carstrom's and Bruce Degen's Jesse Bear, What Will You Wear?

Some of my favorite spreads and pages from the book:

And this last spread here below, was my absolute favorite, I think in part because the light is so wonderful and magical and safe, but also because I was obsessed with The Little Princess film when I was little, and well still am, and I loved the idea that when she was asleep or when she close the door her toys came to life, and I remember thinking that about this page, that perhaps as I turned the page and Jesse's eyes finally closed, all of these toys would burst to life!

Here are my other personal favorite picture books which I brought into class:

Now for graphic novels and especially comics, that's a place that I have yet to really experiment a lot with.  However from what I have read, I do have some favorites, and some not so favorites, and I'll share the ones I brought into class that I really liked:

I absolutely loved this book by Eugene Yelchin!  And I put it here with graphic novels because it's toeing the same line as Hugo Cabret.  Of course it's shorter than Hugo, and thus has fewer images, but in this text the images play as important a role as the words, and as in Hugo Cabret where there are pages in which the story is only being conveyed in image, the same is true to Breaking Stalin's Nose.  And the illustrations that Yelchin has created are just so perfect for the novel, there's something so quintessentially Soviet about them, I felt as if I was bringing to life the moments of history I had learned about in my "Portraits of Soviet Russia" college course three years ago!  Also, I'm not sure if anyone else has read a book called Timur and his Gang/Team, probably not, but it's an old Soviet children's book, and I keep coming back to the idea that it would be incredible to see that text with Yelchin's illustrations!

 Here are a few more images from Breaking Stalin's Nose:

The other graphic novels that I've really loved (I really also want to read Spiegelman's Maus, I've heard about it for so long and haven't read it yet!):

So, what are you favorite picture books and graphic novels/comics?? What was your favorite picture book when you were little?