Saturday, May 31, 2008

Walt Whitman's Birthday!

Happy birthday Walt! Below is my favorite poem of his and a couple great quotes too.

Darest Thou Now, O Soul

"DAREST thou now, O Soul,
Walk out with me toward the Unknown Region,
Where neither ground is for the feet, nor any path to follow?
No map, there, nor guide,
Nor voice sounding, nor touch of human hand
Nor face with blooming flesh, nor lips, nor eyes, are in that land.

I know it not, O Soul;
Nor dost thou—all is a blank before us;
All waits, undream’d of, in that region—that inaccessible land.
Till, when the ties loosen,
All but the ties eternal, Time and Space,
Nor darkness, gravitation, sense, nor any bounds, bound us.
Then we burst forth—we float,
In Time and Space, O Soul—prepared for them;
Equal, equipt at last—(O joy! O fruit of all!) them to fulfil, O Soul."

"And your very flesh shall be a great poem."
Walt Whitman

"If you done it, it ain't bragging."
Walt Whitman

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Won't you be my neighbor...

Today in 1967 was the premiere of Mister Roger's Neighborhood! Kid's television wouldn't be here as we know it today if it weren't for Fred Rogers and his passion for educating children. Linda Urban had this awesome link on her blog and it affected me so deeply I thought I would share it with you all. It is of Fred Rogers testifying about the importance of children's programming. I can't watch it without crying. He was an amazing man.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Boy Proof

I just finished reading Boy Proof by Cecil Castellucci. I had the pleasure of hearing her speak at SCBWI Writer's day last month. After hearing her panel I had to pick up one of her books, which I finally got around to reading. Boy Proof was a fantastic read. It is described as a "geek-chic fairy tale." I have to agree that that describes it perfectly. We follow, Egg, a sixteen year old high school senior who has named herself "after the kick-ass heroine of her favorite sci-fi movie, Terminal Earth." She is smart, has a wonderfully dry sense of humor and is a talented artist. But can she be confident enough in her own skin, Victoria, and not just impersonating her fave movie character? It's definitely worth reading to watch her find out. Cecil has an engaging writing style and nails the teen voice. I'll definitely be reading more of her books.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

A Crooked Kind of Perfect

I just read a wonderful middle grade fiction book, titled A Cooked Kind of Perfect by Linda Urban. It is about 10-year-old (almost 11) Zoe Elias, who dreams of playing a grand piano in Carnegie Hall, but in reality plays "a wood-grained, vinyl-seated, wheeze-bag organ. The Perfectone D-60." Zoe is lovable from word one and when she said "I have gone over to the dork side", she was not only Zoe Elias, but me in sixth grade. All the characters in the story are beautifully written: Zoe's mom, a controller for the state of Michigan who sometimes puts work ahead of the family she loves so much, Zoe's father who is afraid to leave the house and takes Living Room University classes to stay active and Wheeler, Zoe's friend (and possible boyfriend!) who hangs out with her dad and is completely supportive of her piano aspirations.

A Crooked Kind of Pefect is a heartwarming story about family, friends, passion in music and discovering what being perfect really means. Linda says it best when she wrote: "Perfection itself is wasn't enough to all get the notes right. When you play the piano, you have to get the heart right. Which is harder than getting the notes right....And the ways to do it are as many and as different as there are people in the world."

In hearing Linda Urban speak, she claims not to be funny. Don't believe her. This book is poinent and laugh out loud funny.
What I would have done for this book when I was 10. Why would anyone want to be the "popular" kid in school? They never have books written about them.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Harry Potter Revisited

I just finished reading the Harry Potter series for the second time. What a treat! I loved being able to read the books in a row without a break. Now, I am well aware that J.K. Rowling does not need any publicity from me. But reading those books again made me remember why I am a writer. She creates so completely the world they live in, that it seems almost impossible, that there is no Floo Network to get wizards from place to place and no Patonus charm to save us from looming dementors. Harry, Hermione, Ron, Dumbledore and, well, everyone in the books are whole and true, not merely characters to tell a story. But they seem to be real people with stories to tell. That is what I strive for as a writer, to create a world the reader can escape to and lose themselves in. Thank you J.K. Rowling for reminding me of that. I also wanted to write about his because, I notice that Harry Potter is not talked about a lot in the writing world. I think partly because it is the penomenon that it is. And I get that in a way. But Harry Potter was definitely a turning point for me as a reader and a writer.