Wednesday, October 29, 2008

November Book: The Spoon in the Bathroom Wall

Our November book selection is The Spoon in the Bathroom Wall by Tony Johnston. We will be meeting a week early this month because of the Thanksgiving holiday. Our November meeting will be Monday, November 17th at 3:30pm in the Children's Program Room. Copies of The Spoon in the Bathroom Wall are available at the Children's Desk or through the Ocean State Library Catalog. If you are new and want to join our club, please send me an email so I can get you registered. I like to know how many people are coming so that I can prepare enough snacks and craft supplies. My email is

Things have taken a bizarre turn at Bloggins School: misbeahving dragons, dastardly principals, dancing eggs (with shoes - and attitude). Then there's the giant glowing tongue (or could it possibly be a...spoon?) that appears one day, stuck in the wall of the bathroom. What could a spoon (or is it a...tongue?) in the bathroom wall mean?

Splat in the middle of the hullabaloo is Martha Snapdragon, the boiler room-dwelling, bacon-eating, bully-tolerating daughter of the loopy but lovable janitor. Not that Martha has a clue of what to do about the all-around weirdness. She can't even get that rotten bully to stop calling her - ugh - Marthur. Surely she has not chance of thwarting the disaster that is bounding toward Bloggins.

Or does she?

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Author Interview: Marlane Kennedy

The Book Buddies Book Club had the unbelievable priviledge of speaking with the author of our October book, Marlane Kennedy. We called her at her home in Ohio and had about 15 minutes to ask all of our questions about her wonderful book, Me and the Pumpkin Queen, and her life as a full-time author. The book club members came up with some fabulous questions and Ms. Kennedy was so kind and gave us very thoughtful responses.

The club members wanted to know if she writes everyday and where she does her writing. She writes on her couch with her laptop and she doesn't write every day. Some days she has a harder time feeling inspired to write and other days she can't stop! Her favorite part of being an author is hearing from her readers. It makes her feel good to know she has written something that someone else has enjoyed. She has a degree in teaching but never taught as a career and now she is enjoying visiting classrooms and having the opportunity to speak with her readers.

We wanted to know if she's anything like Mildred and she told us that part of her is a lot like Mildred - she was shy and loved animals growing up - but she had her mother with her and did enjoy things like clothes and shopping.

One of our club members wanted to know if she had ever grown a giant pumpkin of her own and up until this past summer she hadn't! But this year she decided to try and although it was a lot of work her family helped and she grew a 250 pound pumpkin which is sitting on her front porch and which she will carve into a jack-o-lantern for Halloween.

We all wanted to know if there would be future books about Mildred and at the moment she does have some ideas but nothing is definite. She told us a very interesting story about how when her publisher, Greenwillow Books, bought the manuscript for Me and the Pumpkin Queen, she originally had an epilogue as the ending where Mildred was age 16! Her editor didn't like the idea of Mildred at age 16 and asked her to change it. And now she is thrilled that she did because if she had left Mildred at age 16 there wouldn't be any need for another book!

Ms. Kennedy shared that it took her about a year to write Me and the Pumpkin Queen and that besides wanting to be an author (which she decided in 4th grade) her other career aspiration was to be a jockey because she loves horses!

Finally, we wanted to know what inspired Me and the Pumpkin Queen. Ms. Kennedy grew up in Pickaway County, Ohio and went to a lot of pumpkin shows. But the idea came to her out of the blue one day. She thought of a 5th grader and she started asking herself questions like, why is she growing pumpkins and what are her problems? This all eventually turned into Mildred's story.

We had such a great time talking with Ms. Kennedy. She was so nice and we so appreciated having the opportunity to ask our questions. Thank you to Ms. Kennedy for her time and her willingness to be involved with our book club. Authors are the best!

October Meeting Wrap-Up

The Book Buddies Book Club met yesterday to discuss Me and the Pumpkin Queen by Marlane Kennedy. It was a jam-packed meeting and lots of fun! We had special Halloween cupcakes as well as our regular snacks and we made foam pumpkins for our craft project. The highlight of the meeting was our phone call with the author, Marlane Kennedy! But more on that in the next post....

We had a wonderful discussion of Me and the Pumpkin Queen. Everyone really liked the book and all agreed that they would recommend it to a friend. We started by talking about our own hobbies (Mildred is obsessed with growing pumpkins and I wanted to find out what our club members were interested in) Our club member's hobbies include swimming, cooking, reading, arts and crafts and animals and all of our members agreed that their families are supportive of their hobbies (unlike Mildred's Aunt Arlene). We talked about why Aunt Arlene was not supportive of Mildred's pumpkin growing and decided it was because she wanted Mildred to be like her and to be more interested in clothes and shopping.
I asked the group why it was so important for Mildred to grow the pumpkin on her own and we decided it was because she wanted to prove she could do it and also it was her personal connection with her mom.

Mildred isn't at all concerned with fitting in at school and our club members felt that that was okay, because everyone has to be different and it's more important to be yourself than to fit in with others.

Our favorite parts of the story were when Mildred won the pumpkin growing contest and when she met her cousin Amanda. Our least favorite parts were when Grover started spreading the rumor that Mildred hadn't grown the pumpkin on her own and when Aunt Arlene forced her to do things she didn't want to do, like go shopping and go on vacation to West Virginia.

Overall we really liked this book. The author, Marlane Kennedy, sent us autographed bookmarks and real Atlantic Giant pumpkin seeds so that we can try to growing our own giant pumpkins! I'll keep you posted if any of us have success!

It was a fantastic meeting and a BIG thank you to Marlane Kennedy for sending us the seeds and the bookmarks and for talking with us on the phone. More on the phone interview in the next post.....

Friday, October 24, 2008

Book Club Meeting Monday!

Hi everyone,

Just a reminder that the Book Buddies Book Club is meeting this coming Monday, October 27th at 3:30pm in the Children's Program Room to discuss our October book, Me and the Pumpkin Queen by Marlane Kennedy. We will have snacks, make a pumkpin craft and discuss the book. We will also be calling the author for a brief phone interview! So come ready to discuss the book and with some great questions for Ms. Kennedy.

I can't wait for our meeting - it's going to be jam-packed and lots of fun! I also have a special surprise for the book club members, sent to us by Ms. Kennedy! You'll just have to wait until Monday to find out what it is!

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Wimpy Kid Comic Contest

Have you read the very popular and funny Diary of a Wimpy Kid books? They combine text and comics to tell the very humorous story of Greg Heffley and his experiences in middle school.

Have you ever tried to draw your own comics?

Diary of a Wimpy Kid is having a Do-It-Yourself Comics Contest. All you have to do is create an original comic on one side of an 8/12 x 11 piece of white paper. The contest is open to children ages 6 - 16 and ends January 31, 2009. The grand prize winner will receive one vist by Jeff Kinney to the winner's school, one framed original comic by Jeff Kinney and one signed copy of Diary of a Wimpy Kid Do-It-Yourself Book by Jeff Kinney. 30 Runners up will receive a signed copy of the book.

Visit the Children's Desk at the Newport Public Library for the official Comics Contest flyer and where to send your entry!

Good Luck!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Letters About Literature

Has a book ever touched your life in a special way? Have you ever read anything that deeply affected you? Have you ever wanted to write a letter to a famous author? Now is your chance! Enter the Letters About Literature letter writing contest presented by The Center for the Book in the Library of Congress and Target and sponsored by The Rhode Island Center for the Book. You must be at least 9 years old to enter and the deadline is December 6, 2008. There are three levels of competition: Level 1 - grades 4 - 6, Level 2 - grades 7 & 8, and Level 3 - grades 9 - 12. Here's what you have to do:
  • Select a fiction or nonfiction book, short story, poem, essay, or speech that you have read and about which you have strong feelings.
  • Write a letter to the author of no less than 100 words and no more than 400 words telling them how their work has affected you. Think of it as a conversation with the author - don't summarize the plot or simply flatter them.
  • Submit your letter by December 6th!

For official rules and information on how to submit your letter, go to

First place winners will receive a $50 gift card to a local bookstore and a $50 Target GiftCard. The first place winners in each state will then advance for national judging.

For more information, visit the children's desk at the Newport Public Library, and take a look at the official Letters About Literature flyer.

Good luck!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

New Children's Poet Laureate

The 2nd Children's Poet Laureate has just been announced by The Poetry Foundation! The recipient is the wonderful Mary Ann Hoberman, author of 45 books, all but one of which are in verse. The Newport Public Library has a number of her books, including My Song is Beautiful: Poems and Pictures in Many Voices, You Read to Me, I'll Read to You and Whose Garden Is It? Come in, check out one of her books today and make poetry an important part of your life!

Ms. Hoberman also has a very interesting website with a biography, news and poetry that I encourage you to visit!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Scary Stories

It is really starting to feel like Fall outside - the leaves are falling, the air is crisp, the days are getting shorter. And in three short weeks we'll be celebrating Halloween! To get you in the mood, here are a few scary stories you might want to read...if you dare!

All the Lovely Bad Ones by Mary Downing Hahn (2008)

While spending the summer at their grandmother's Vermont inn, two prankster siblings awaken young ghosts from the inn's distant past who refuse to "rest in peace."

Who Stole Halloween? by Martha Freeman (2005)

When nine-year-old Alex and his friend Yasmeen investigate the disappearance of cats in their neighborhood, they stumble onto a larger mystery involving a haunted house and a ghostly cat.

Babymouse: Monster Mash by Jennifer and Matthew Holm (2008)

A graphic novel following the Halloween adventures of Babymouse, an imaginative young mouse.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Author Interview

I have some great news to share - we are going to have our first author interview of the year! I emailed Marlane Kennedy (author of Me and the Pumpkin Queen) to see if she would be willing to speak with our book club at our October 27th meeting and she agreed! We will be calling her at her home during the meeting, so start thinking of some great questions now. We'll have about 10 minutes to talk with her about her book and her life as a writer. This is your chance to ask an author all of the things you've always wanted to know about writing and to get any questions answered about Me and the Pumpkin Queen. We are so lucky to have this opportunity!

A BIG thank you in advance to Ms. Kennedy for her time and her willingness to participate in our book club!

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Pumpkins and Pumpkin Shows

In Me and the Pumpkin Queen, Mildred is determined to win the annual Circleville, Ohio pumpkin growing contest by growing the largest pumpkin ever! Well, Circleville, Ohio is a real place and has a real Pumpkin Show every year. They have a great website with lots of interesting pictures. Check it out!

One of the biggest pumpkin festivals in New England is the Keene Pumpkin Festival in Keene, New Hampshire. This year it is on October 25th. They have an amazing display of lit jack-o-lanterns - the largest around!

Closer to home we have some pumpkin patches right here on Aquidneck Island that are worth visiting. Escobar's Highland Farm (in Portsmouth) features a pumpkin patch, corn maze and hay rides and is evening having a pumpkin festival this weekend. In Middletown we have Sweet Berry Farm which includes a pumpkin patch where you can pick your own pumpkins!

Pumpkins are truly an autumn treasure. Go out this weekend and pick up a pumpkin - or better yet, get some seeds and grow one for yourself!