Twenty Years of the Friz

September 15 will be the 20th anniversary of Ms. Frizzle and The Magic School Bus series. To celebrate, NASDAQ will open with a dedication to the series and Scholastic will release "The Magic School Bus and the Science Fair Expedition," the 11th picture book in the series and the first in seven years, according to Publishers Weekly. Joanna Cole, the writer of the series, says "We have to make it simple enough for kids to understand, but not so simple that the meaning goes out of it."

Kick Keswick: Three Measures of Elegant Summer Fluff

Kick Keswick did not know who her father was. Her mother lived in a trailer in the Oklahoma oil fields. Kick was a shoplifter of jewelry. After a year in juvenile detention, she goes off to college, takes a trip to London, skips out on the group tour, buys a very short Mary Quant miniskirt and some plastic boots, gets soaked in the rain, and is ushered into the limousine of Sir Cramner Ballantine, owner of the venerable Ballantine & Company Auctioneers. She becomes his mistress and the executive secretary of the auction house. She gradually becomes an elegant and self-possessed woman with a love for food, chocolate, wine, and jewels. She is a master jeweler and a master jewel thief (the Shamrock Burglar, leaving a “lovely crisp bouquet of shamrocks tied with an ivory satin ribbon” in the place of the stolen jewelry).

She wittily narrates three charming adventures (best read in order):

Brilliant 2003
Priceless 2004
Perfect 2005

Beach Reads #5 (admittedly borrowed...)


Billed as the British version of Oprah's Book Club, the vastly popular "Richard (Madeley) & Judy (Finnigan)" talk show has its very own RICHARD & JUDY'S SUMMER READ!.

The 2006 list is selected by Amanda Ross who is the joint managing director of Cactus TV, which produces the show, and was recently named the No. 1 most influential person in British publishing.

Instead of the authors or experts, a panel of celebrities is invited to discuss the books (only paperback titles are considered) on air. Richard & Judy are pleased that "The books are there to be read and enjoyed and talked about sensibly, not in the rarefied ways of a wine buff or a food critic, but in the way the rest of the world does".

Don't be surprised to find U.S. titles and some very familiar names, and what a great way to get to know new ones.

Salaam, A Muslim American Boys Story by Tricia Brown

Imran takes karate, enjoys hanging out with his friends and celebrates special religious holidays with his family. Imran is like any other boy in America except he is a Muslim. His mother receives a threatening phone call because people don't like her faith. Imran is hopeful that once people get to know his faith they will like him the way his friends and neighbors do. Tricia Brown teaches about Islam through Imran's story. From a Muslim perspective the book gives an apologetic view of Islam with an emphasis on fitting in.

FolkTale Bits - African-American Tall Tales

Zora Neale Hurston collected these "lies" from "professional liars" of the Gulf States, as she noticed there was a "decline in the quality of lies and it was just gone get worse, unless somebody did something." Christopher Myers, the adaptor and illustrator, "found them in a government office, which is where they are keeping all the llies nowadays." Each page is a new "lie". It could be great fun to create your own "lies" based on these examples. Can you top this?

Epic Tale from Ancient Iraq

This book is an exquisite rendition of an ancient middle east epic. The pictures and text are perfectly matched. The tale can be enjoyed by children and adults alike. Lugalbanda is one of the oldest stories in the world. Lugalbanda was recorded over 5,000 years ago on clay tablets written in cuneiform by the Sumerians. It is older than the Bible, the Torah, the Koran, the stories of Homer and the Greek and Roman myths.

New Fiction Titles on the New York Times Best Sellers List (7/30/06)

Nora Roberts is a modern publishing phenomenon. She lands more titles on national best seller lists than any other author, outselling all others as well, commanding almost 10% of the book market. There is a formula but for her legions of fans, she refreshes the story every time and they keep coming back for more.

At #1 is Angels Fall by Nora Roberts: the undisputed queen of romantic fiction strikes gold once again with her latest thriller; after suffering a traumatic shock in Boston, a young chef takes off and ends up in Wyoming where she witnesses a murder. Or does she?

At #5 is Break No Bones by Kathy Reichs: fans of the TV show Bones will want to read the latest adventure of forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan. Our appealing heroines keeps finding bodies around Charleston.

At #16 is Dragon's Fire by Anne McCaffrey and Todd McCaffrey: in their second collaboration in this series the authors (mother and son) return to Pern; in a race to stave off disaster, the inhabitants mine dangerous minerals and use slave labor. Fantasy or the real world?

So Matt Groening, Stephen King and Amy Tan walk into a bar...

Did you know that Amy Tan, author of The Joy Luck Club, was in a rock band with the likes of Dave Barry, Ridley Pearson, Stephen King, Scott Turow, James McBride, Mitch Albom, Roy Blount, Jr., Matt Groening, Kathi Kamen Goldmark and Greg Iles? According to Dave Barry, "We play music as well as Metallica writes novels." Check out the Rock Bottom Remainders for photos of Amy Tan decked out in a leather body suit and bright wigs.

For more amusing insight into Amy Tan's life (such as her determination to learn how to ski despite several major injuries doing so) I highly recommend reading The Opposite of Fate.

Happy Birthday, Aldous Huxley!

Writers Almanac offers some interesting tidbits about Aldous Huxley, who was born July 26, 1894, and died in 1963:
* Huxley's grandfather, Thomas Henry Huxley, is believed to have coined the word "agnostic."
* When Huxley was 17, he came down with a disease that rendered him almost blind. He taught himself Braille, and liked it because he could read in bed without getting his hands cold.
* Huxley wrote Brave New World because he wanted to write something light--in the model of H.G. Wells.
Does this intrigue you to take another look at Huxley? As Russell Baker said when he introduced Silas Marner on Masterpiece Theatre, don't let your high-school lit class prejudice you against classic literature.

Animanga Club: Cosplay Prep!

Come to the Downtown library Multipurpose room this Saturday, July 29th, between 2:00 and 4:00 pm, for last minute touches on your cosplay costume. Cosplay expert Darcy from Wizzywig will be available to help with your costume and show us how to make cat collars and cat ears. DDR will be set up and of course, Pocky will be provided. See you there!

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