Tuesday, October 1, 2013
Wednesday, March 27, 2013
It’s all about the book, the conference. I know for a fact we take it for granted, the fertile soil of Oxford, the authors, artists and musicians in our midst. This year the 20th annual Oxford Conference for the Book Young Authors Fair brought authors, Jewell Parker Rhodes and Mary Amato to Oxford and Square Books, Jr. Every year we select two authors for the Young Authors Fair, and each child in two respective age ranges is given a copy of the author’s book. By the time the conference rolls around the kids can actually meet the authors, ask questions, give feedback, share the book with others. The goal of the collaborative groups who fund the OCB Young Authors Fair is to create an opportunity for all kids to have a shared literary experience, one that might last a lifetime.
Jewell Parker Rhodes has been to Oxford before after the release of her novel Ninth Ward. We had to have her back, because we wanted lots of kids to read Ninth Ward, not only because New Orleans is geographically close to us, but because we all experienced Hurricane Katrina in parts. Most importantly, however, we want readers to connect with Lanesha, resident child of a setting we know exists or used to exist. We want to celebrate Lanesha’s story and herald the innocence of children despite great loss and suffering. Ninth Ward is not overtly about Hurricane Katrina or death or killer storms. Instead Rhodes has woven beauty and kindness into classic poverty and disenfranchisement. We are lovingly charged to look, listen and be ready by Lanesha’s grandmother, the object lesson of the storm.
Mary Amato, author of many titles across a spectrum of ages and subjects, was graciously sent to Oxford by Egmont USA, possibly one of my favorite publishing houses. Guitar Notes is Mary’s first title with Egmont, but hopefully the first of many. The success of Guitar Notes will not only be measured by sales, but by the lives the book touches. It isn’t an easy task to find a novel for the whole of ninth grade, boys and girls. Square Books, The Center for the Study of Southern Culture, The Lafayette County Literacy Council and the Oxford Junior Auxiliary are some of the collaborators of our Young Author’s Fair book selections. Without any credit or glory, each year a handful of librarians, parents and teachers read and help us find just the right book for the students. Amato’s novel was perfect and timely. While not overtly about a girl or about a boy, it is about the interchanges of youth, the crush and the crushed. Amato’s characters, like the different gauges of stringed instruments, experience “thrum” or an exchanged vibration or energy on the same wavelength or something... Dig it? Thrum, in fact, is what the Oxford Conference for the Book is all about. The kids in Oxford get it, and we are grateful to Mary for writing the book and coming all this way to share it with us.
And ultimately there is the connection between the authors and each other, between Jewell and Mary, and the readers and the booksellers and the librarians and teachers, and well, it is a domino effect… a shared literary experience in a town that’s just crazy about books and experiences.
Friday, November 16, 2012
Saturday, October 20, 2012
Thursday, October 18, 2012
The Obsidian Mirror is a very strange story. It's not for everyone. I did like it, but found it confusing in some parts. It's still a very good read. This book is full of mystery and magic. Time is of the essence, in many ways. (Luke T.)
Fisher, Catherine (Author)
Publisher: Dial Books
US SRP: $ 17.99 US - Hardcover
Pub Date: April 23, 2013
Wednesday, October 17, 2012
Tuesday, October 16, 2012
After Lane Smith's groovy and educational picture book John, Paul, George & Ben, I wondered and wondered. What will Lane Smith do next? How timely that his latest work, Abe Lincoln's Dream, is also historical, political and delightfully human. Smith's style of collage and woodcut set upon a craquelure background combines with witty and concise bits of courier bold text, yielding a picture book for children with history related to a child by the ghost of Abe Lincoln himself. Great for the whole family. (JM)
Abe Lincoln's Dream - Street Smart
by Smith, Lane (Author & Illustrator)
Publisher: Roaring Brook Press
Pub Date: October 16, 2012
Saturday, September 8, 2012
Momma officially introduced me to Eudora one day at the clinic where she kindly signed my used copy of The Golden Apples which I had purchased from Lemuria. We kept it in Momma's office for the possible eventuality that we might cross paths some day when I spent "sick" days with Momma. Eudora intently looked me in the eyes and asked me my name. "Jilleen Elaine" I answered. She wrote it out and commented that mine was one of the prettiest names she had ever heard. Only later, having read The Golden Apples and some of her short stories, did I realize that Snowdie and Stella-Rondo were some of her other favorites.
As a teenager, lucky enough to have an Ole Miss alumni for an English teacher, I took a Southern Studies class and was encouraged to read other southern authors, Faulkner, Barry Hannah, Elizabeth Spencer, Flannery O'Connor and Shelby Foote, etc. I was also fortunate enough to travel up to Oxford to see Faulker's world and Square Books and it filled me with wonder and hope.
Eudora once read The Wide Net somewhere in Jackson, maybe Newstage Theatre? She also spoke to the crowd about what it was like writing in the old days, with bits and scraps of paper tacked together and the constant barrage of ideas that were born out of the everyday vernacular she studied from the people in her midst. Her WPA job allowed her to see many different sides of rural life and poverty and it would seem many of her most memorable characters were spontaneously generated out of her lifelong interactions with some very real and strange human beings. The beauty and profundity of her observations is related with such precision and relevancy... it's why we can see ourselves and others in her words. Eudora's photos were also marvels of perspective and timing and show her eye for setting.
Several years before she passed away, while I was still in High School, I met her at a booksigning and was able to get a signed copy of One Writers' Beginnings, one of few books I have ever read again and again. Welty was a powerhouse of philosophy and emotion, and the power is still in her words.
Yesterday I met Carolyn Brown, author of A Daring Life. Carolyn Brown approaches the germ of Welty, in her collaboration of previously unpublished photos of Eudora, thoughtful prose through research and conversations with those who knew her best. Brown lovingly treats Eudora with the reverence she deserves and does so concisely, so that Eudora might be known by old and young readers only just beginning to experience the very complex and mysterious woman and her many great works of American literature.
Thursday, September 6, 2012
by Willems, Mo
Publisher: Balzer & Bray
Audience: Children's - Kindergarten, Age 5-6
Publish Date: 2012/09/04
A witty, subtle and hilarious retelling of one of the worlds most beloved fairy tales. Allegedly, the Goldilocks and the Three Bears story was first penned by Robert Southey. Willems turns the tale on its head and tiptoes the reader all the way through the story via the wonderful and silly rooms in the Dinosaurs' home. I read this gem out loud at storytime yesterday morning and the kids and parents snickered. I could not wait to proclaim my love for yet another Mo Willems book. "We Are..." book-loving, dinosaur-crazy booksellers! --JM