Friday, January 29, 2010

Miss Sprite and her Dictionary

I wrote this poem a loooong time ago and just found it yesterday. The ending is a little weird, but I just left it the way it was. Enjoy! :-)

Everyone has tried to read the dictionary
At least once or twice or thrice
But you got stuck on the A’s or B’s or C’s
Probably page two, to be precise.

Now, behold! the amazing wonder of the world
The darling little Miss Sprite
She’s read the dictionary from cover to cover
And learned all the words in sight.

You can ask her the definition of an “agglomeration”
Or what “intemperate” means
She’ll shout out the answer in a second or two
Even faster than machines.

But one day she came upon a man who said,
“I don’t mean to cause any strife!
“But oh, Miss Sprite, if I am not mistaken,
“You do not know the meaning of life.”

Miss Sprite was very vexed, and went on to reply,
“Of course I know the meaning of life!
“It’s the time from a birth to a death on Earth
“Where life is very rife.”

The man shook his head and said angrily,
“I’m afraid that you’re not right.
“But since you thought that you knew it all,
“I think I’ll take my leave for tonight.”

Miss Sprite ran after the man, crying as she went,
“Mister, please do come back and tell
“I really want to know the meaning of life
“I’m sure it’ll be quite swell.”

But the man did not look back at Miss Sprite at all
And he hurried on his way
Muttering, “Alas! if only Miss Sprite had listened,
“She would’ve known that the meaning of life is today.”

Monday, January 25, 2010

Interview with Lauren Mechling

Yesterday, I posted my review of the suspenseful mystery novel Dream Life. Today, I'm interviewing the fun and awesome author of Dream Life, Lauren Mechling.

What was your inspiration for Dream Girl and Dream Life?

I wanted to write young adult books that were funny. There aren't enough of those.

I also met my friend's magical-seeming grandmother, a crotchety woman who lives in a hotel and had a word of advice for any and all people, and I wanted her to be my fairy grandmother. Thus Kiki was born.

(For those of you who haven't read the books, Kiki is the main character's grandmother.)

Dream Life is filled with lots of little facts about New York and its history. Did you have to do any research in order to write the story?

Yes, I did a bunch of research to do with the city in the 1960s, the era when Kiki was the queen of the scene. I read a few books and I took a tour at the Waldorf-Astoria where I learned all sorts of neat facts about the hotel's more famous residents. Here's a tidbit: when Mariah Carey was living there, she had huge lightbulbs attached to the bathroom mirror so it looked like the vanity you'd find backstage.

Which character do you relate to the most?

None of them, actually! Maybe that's why I like them so much?

What kind of scenes are the most fun to write?

Party scenes can be fun. In Dream Life I had a blast making up the parties that Claire's French professor parents throw for all the other professors in the building. And I also loved the big birthday party that Kiki throws, and describing how Claire's date went totally wrong. The social disaster element scene was entirely based in reality.

Are there any authors who have had a big influence on you?

I am obsessed with Barbara Pym, the author of several comedies of manner from the 1950s-80s. I reread her over and over. So should you!

Thank you so much, Lauren!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Dream Life

by Lauren Mechling

After Claire Voyante's "interesting" first semester at Henry Hudson High School, Claire starts the second semester with a few important secrets, like her onyx and ivory cameo necklace (which has been sending her prophetic dreams). Things are also changing at school - Claire's best friend Becca has been acting weird, and Claire discovers that her friend is part of a secret society of girls with mysterious missions and mysterious enemies. Claire finds herself right in the middle of all the danger and excitement as major conflicts arise in the secret society, and she's determined to get to the bottom of several mysteries once and for all.

Dream Life is the sequel to Dream Girl, but I found it quite easy to understand even though I hadn't read the first book. One thing I really enjoyed about the story was the complex, suspenseful, and intriguing plot. I was completely hooked - not only was the premise interesting, but the story was action-packed and the tone was terrific. The characters were wonderful as well; there were no major cliches and there was a great variety of personalities, from secretive to stupid to confident. The writing was light yet totally engrossing, and the story flowed together very well.

If you're a fan of Kiki Strike and other similar novels, then you'll definitely love Dream Life!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Diary of a Wimpy Kid movie!

I heard a while ago that the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series was going to be made into a movie. (The books are hilarious - if you haven't read them yet, you HAVE to.)

Well, I saw the trailer today. I was cracking up the whole time, and it looks great! I was worried that they wouldn't be able to capture the tone of the book very well, but they seem to be doing pretty good so far!

Diary of a Wimpy Kid - Theatrical Trailer

Friday, January 15, 2010

Interview with Shannon Hale

I'm super excited to present to you today an interview with the fabulous Shannon Hale about her newest release, Calamity Jack. Shannon has been one of my favorite authors ever since I first read Princess Academy and The Goose Girl, and I've really enjoyed reading all of her books. So, without further ado...

What is the process of writing graphic novels like?

First we come up with a strong concept and outline the plot. Then we write the script, dialog and illustrations descriptions. Then we polish it. Then we throw the whole thing away and start over.

In Calamity Jack, we get to see more of Jack's personality and past. How did you first come up with his character? Did his personality evolve much over the course of putting together the book?

We looked for clues in the original story of Jack and the Beanstalk. He’s a thief, a rogue, and yet a hero. Those are seemingly contradictory things, so from there we looked at a conflicted criminal. And the presence of Rapunzel made him even more interesting.

Calamity Jack features a wide variety of new, exciting characters. What was your inspiration for all the different creatures in the book?

We really liked the idea of a world where all the fairy tales are true, and the Old World is full of their creatures: brownies, pixies, ogres, giants, etc. What would a city look like full of those immigrants? It was fun to design, and even more amazing to see in Nate’s illustrations.

How is writing a graphic novel different from writing a regular novel? How did you have to alter your writing style?

I had to be so much briefer! You have very little space for storytelling, so every word counts. I also had to give up the luxury of a prose narrator. The illustrations take that role. Different, but also so fun.

What were your favorite and least favorite parts of the whole process?

I really liked collaborating with Dean and Nate, not being alone in a project, having other people to talk to about it. But Calamity Jack was honestly a really hard book to write. It took months to figure out how to make it work. Someday I want to get it right the first time!

Do you ever try to convey themes or messages through your writing or through your characters' actions?

I always try to weave in themes to make the story stronger, but I never try to teach a message. That makes it less strong. It’s always better if the reader discovers her/his own personal messages. Readers should create their own morals, not the writers.

Do you have any plans for another graphic novel?

Not immediately, but we have ideas! I’d love to do another someday. Thanks, Priya!

Thank you so much, Shannon!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Kidz Book Buzz Blog Tour: Calamity Jack

by Shannon and Dean Hale, illustrated by Nathan Hale (no relation)

Calamity Jack starts where Rapunzel's Revenge leaves off with a new and exciting storyline. Jack and Rapunzel are heading back to Jack's hometown, where they find that giants have basically taken over the city and are crushing anyone who dares to speak out against them. Once again, Jack and Rapunzel (with the help of a couple friends) have to reveal the giants' evil plans and save the day.

I loved Calamity Jack! It was much better than Rapunzel's Revenge, with more action and suspense and a stronger plot. We get to see Jack's history and his point of view about everything, which I enjoyed more than Rapunzel's pov (Jack's more sarcastic and witty). The drawings were amazing as usual; I only got to see them in black-and-white, but I'm fully planning on getting my hands on one of the final copies and going through it again just to read it in color.

Just overall, everything about Calamity Jack was perfect. If you haven't read any of Shannon/Dean/Nathan's graphic novels, I highly recommend them for all ages.

Stop by the other blogs on this tour:

Friday, January 08, 2010


I probably won't be on this blog much for the next two weeks- the semester ends at the end of January and I have a ton of finals. You can still expect a couple posts, though!

That being said, I wanted to mention two other things:

First of all, everyone who has read The Hunger Games and Catching Fire must read this. I totally agree with everything in it.

Second of all, today is Miss Erin's birthday! Happy birthday, Erin! I hope you have a wonderful, fabulous year - you are inspirational and so much fun to talk to.

Monday, January 04, 2010

Rapunzel's Revenge

by Shannon and Dean Hale, illustrated by Nathan Hale (no relation)

I reread this again today and I can't get over how amazing it is. It is, by far, the best graphic novel I have ever read (in addition to its sequel, Calamity Jack). The story is so well done and full of action, and it puts a exciting, fantastical spin on (in my opinion) two vague and lame fairytales. I love how Shannon and Dean have added so much personality to the characters. The dialogue is sure to please anyone with a mix of funny, witty, and sweet moments.

Not only was the writing amazing, but the illustrations were flawless as well. Nathan Hale's colorful drawings were incredibly detailed and exquisite, and fit in so perfectly with the story. I felt like I was watching a movie - I could see everything happening so clearly in my mind.

Only two words for you this time - READ IT!

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Move over, Ken!

I was at the store a few weeks ago and I saw this:

Yes, this is an Edward Cullen Barbie doll. Here's a close-up of his face:

And to prove to you that I'm not joking, here's the Twilight logo at the bottom of the box. It's a little hard to see, but it's still there.

I'm sure there will be Bella and Jacob Barbie dolls soon. *sigh* I knew this was coming ever since I saw those Twilight action figures in the bookstore...