Authors Dish on The Chronicles of Harris Burdick

November 3rd, 2011 by

Have you ever heard of a man named Harris Burdick? I hadn’t, until I learned about The Mysteries of Harris Burdick — a picture book by Chris Van Allsburg. But the illustrations inside aren’t by Chris Van Allsburg, they’re from Harris Burdick… or so Chris Van Allsburg claims! Even stranger: each illustration has just a title and caption — so the reader can make up their own story to go along with it.

And in the newly released The Chronicles of Harris Burdick, 14 award-winning authors did exactly that. Just like school homework, the authors were assigned (or politely fought over) an illustration from The Mysteries of Harris Burdick, and then each author wrote a short story to accompany the picture.

Makes me wonder what kind of grades my 7th-grade Language Arts teacher would have given the likes of Jon Scieszka (author of the Time Warp Trio series) or Lois Lowry (Newbery Medal-winning author of The Giver — no big deal or anything)! Would she have given a gold star to Walter Dean Myers or extra credit to Jules Feiffer, or would she have marked up their papers with red pen?

Jon Scieszka, Chris Van Allsburg, Lois Lowry, and Linda Sue Park

Last week, Karen and I attended an event at a local Barnes & Noble, where authors Jon Scieszka, Lois Lowry, Chris Van Allsburg and Linda Sue Park graced us with their presence and talked about the new book!

For those who missed it, the authors are Sherman Alexie, M. T. Anderson, Kate DiCamillo, Cory Doctorow, Jules Feiffer, Stephen King, Tabitha King, Lois Lowry, Gregory Maguire, Walter Dean Myers, Linda Sue Park, Louis Sachar, Jon Scieszka, and Chris Van Allsburg… PLUS an introduction by Lemony Snicket.

I discovered a few things from being approximately 7 feet from the some of the coolest authors, ever:

1. It is impossible NOT to be in awe of them.

2. In a classroom: Jon Scieszka would be the class clown, Lois Lowry would be the sarcastic brainy one, Linda Sue Park would be the thoughtful poetry writer, and Chris Van Allsburg would be the science nerd. Who just happens to be really, REALLY good at drawing.

3. Linda Sue Park has an intense fear of worms, just like me!

As authors were selected to write for The Chronicles of Harris Burdick, the most coveted illustration was “the one with the nun” — which Lois Lowry got!

Jon Scieszka’s first choice was also “the one with the nun,” but in the end, he wrote a story for “Under the Rug” — and he had some interesting things to say about it:

Wish you were there? Check out more videos from the event on the Kidsmomo YouTube channel! Meanwhile, pick up a copy of the book and let us know which illustration most fascinates YOU!

— Nancy

Nancy knows that if it turned out to be a giant worm under that rug, she would totally jump onto that chair and by sheer will and fright, float away to meet up with that nun.

More about Nancy »

Btw, Nancy works at Barnes & Noble, but her job has nothing to do with events like these — or with this book in particular. Unfortunately.

Books for Asian Pacific Heritage Month

May 21st, 2011 by

Did you know that May is Asian Pacific American Heritage Month? Unfortunately, Karen and I were a bit busy with our Poetry & Verse, Book Starring Guys and Wacky, Gross, Weird & Real! themes so we didn’t get to cover Asian Pacific American books this month!

(Side note: Perhaps we should abbreviate “Wacky, Gross, Weird & Real!” to WGWR!,which should always be shouted out loud due to the exclamation mark. As in, I read a WGWR! book today about honey badgers.)

But just because we didn’t get to do a full theme for Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, that doesn’t mean we forgot about it! For those of you who want to celebrate, check out these books:

Project Mulberry by Linda Sue Park
Julia Song is a 7th-grader who moves to Plainfield, Illinois — and her family is the only Korean-American family in the neighborhood. What happens when her mom suggests that Julia and her new friend, Patrick, raise silkworms for the state fair?

Suki’s Kimono by Chieri Uegaki
On her first day of 1st grade, spunky Suki decides to wear her Japanese kimono, because it reminds her of the wonderful summer she spent with her grandmother. Her older sisters protest and her classmates snicker, but Suki dances her way into their hearts!

Farewell to Manzanar: A True Story of Japanese American Experience During and After the World War II Internment by Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston and James D. Houston
Even though this was “assigned reading” for school, it has always been one of my favorite books. Jeanne Wakatsuki was only 7 when her family was uprooted and sent to the Manzanar internment camp; it’s fascinating and heart-wrenching to read about her experience there.

Random Kidsmomo Connection: Karen went to the same high school as co-author James D. Houston! Not at the same time, though. Obviously.

Kimchi & Calamari
by Rose Kent

14-year-old Joseph Calderaro doesn’t look like a typical Italian-American kid, because he’s ethnically Korean. He was abandoned as a baby in Korea and the Calderaros adopted and raised him in New Jersey. His adopted dad doesn’t get why Joseph is having an identity crisis — or why he would pretend a famous Korean marathon runner is his grandfather.


Even More Books for Asian Pacific American Heritage Month:

  • Kira-Kira by Cynthia Kadohata, winner of the 2005 Newbery Award!
  • Dragonwings by Laurence Yep
  • Rice Without Rain by Minfong Ho
  • The Alvin Ho and Ruby Lu series by Lenore Look
  • In the Year of the Boar and Jackie Robinson by Bette Bao Lord and Marc Simont

And last but not least, a few different ways to say “I LOVE READING!” (Click on the image to hear it read out loud)

Wǒ ài dúshū (Mandarin Chinese)

Watashi wa dokusho ga daisuki (Japanese)

naneun dogseo leul salang (Korean)

Have you read any of these books? Send in your review or leave a comment below on how you celebrated Asian Pacific Heritage Month!

— Nancy

Kimchi & Calamari caught Nancy’s eye because of its delicious title.

Meet Nancy »

Kidsmomo Podcast #12: “Leaving on a Jet Plane”

November 17th, 2009 by

An important mission in Korea, a human bulldozer in France, a taxi ride in Hong Kong, an underground grave in Paris… Which of these come from our favorite books set in foreign countries, and which are stories from our own travels abroad? You’ll just have to listen to our latest podcast to find out!

    Download the MP3 (14.6 MB)

  • “Around the World in 8 Minutes” — aka this week’s mystery book + our travel stories
  • “Foreign Favorites” — aka our book picks this week (Secret Letters From 0 to 10 and Shabanu)
  • Kid-submitted book recs (The Wednesday Wars and Swindle + the On the Run series)

And don’t forget: we’re taking a little Thanksgiving break, so we won’t announce our next theme until December 8th. But dry your crying eyes, because we’ll have plenty o’ blog posts and weekly Kidsmomomo videos to keep you occupied until then. So don’t start ignoring us! Then we might start to cry…

— Nancy and Karen

Book Trailer: A Single Shard

November 10th, 2009 by

This book trailer for A Single Shard was originally the Mystery Book Theater video for our Foreign Lands theme. For more on A Single Shard, check out our “Leaving on a Jet Plane” podcast.

Pretend you’re entrusted with precious cargo that you must transport safely across the country. Say you’re alone in the woods with your important package, no contact with anyone from home for days. And then imagine that suddenly, a robber approaches. What would you do?

That’s exactly the situation in Linda Sue Park’s A Single Shard — except, did we forget to mention that it takes place in 12th century Korea?