Category: Young Readers

Celebrate Shel Silverstein’s Birthday!

Shel Silverstein is possibly one of the most famous children’s authors in literature, famed thanks to being the author of the world renowned The Giving Tree and Where the Sidewalk Ends.

 

 

A musician and poet in addition to being a children’s author, Silverstein established himself as a composer in Chicago where he was born. He wrote some notable songs you may have heard of, including A Boy Named Sue (which was popularized by Johnny Cash) and One’s on the Way for Loretta Lynn. Silverstein began his career by enlisting in the army in 1950 and served in both Korea and Japan. He became a cartoonist for the Stars & Stripes, learning to draw for the magazine.

 

Image via Encyclopedia Britannica

 

Afterwards, he continued his work as an illustrator and found acclaim when he began drawing for Playboy magazine. He doodled short cartoons for the magazine, his work appearing in every issue from 1957 to the mid 70s, where he found great popularity with the readership. While working for Playboy, he began exploring other areas of his imagination, writing songs, poems, along with self-publishing his own original cartoons. He also recorded his first album during this period, in 1959, which was entitled Hairy Jazz.

 

Image via Wikipedia

 

In 1963, Shel Silverstein was approached by Ursula Nordstrom, who convinced him to try and write material for children. He did so on short notice, producing The Lion Who Shot Back, A Giraffe and a Halfand The Giving Tree in rapid succession. The third title became Silverstein’s most popular work, as its themes were ambiguous in intent and left an open question of what it meant, which made publishers initially balk. Although criticized by some for a bleak or hash worldview, The Giving Tree was nonetheless translated into 30 languages and has been a mainstay of the best children’s books of all time.

 

Image via Wikipedia

 

Shel Silverstein went onto write two more children’s books in the 1970s, Where the Sidewalk Ends and A Light in the AtticHe passed in 1999, right at the turn of the millennium. His legacy will live on for producing some of the most thoughtful children’s books of all time and showcasing that children’s literature can be truly thought provoking while also being fun to read.

Go on and introduce your own kids to his work to celebrate his birthday!

 

 

 

Featured Image Via Scholastic

UChicago Wants Young Readers to Start Their Own Libraries

Thousands of students from the U.S. and the Dominican Republic are building their own libraries thanks to UChicago's 'My Very Own Library' literacy program.

Read more

Author Fight Club: Dr. Seuss vs Roald Dahl

Ignoring the broader themes of Chuck Palahniuk seminal work, Fight Club, we’re going to do what we do best and have two people fight each other.

Since we can’t talk about Fight Club (see rules one and two), we’re going to write about it. Specifically, we’re going to have two writers fight each other. Three rounds will determine their strength as we go through their power as description, their distinctive style, and their impact on the world at large.

Then, they’re going to beat the snot out of each other.

In one corner we have the creator of James and the Giant Peach, Matilda, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and many more (including all those Oompa Loompas). He’s the King of Pure imagination—although he didn’t write the song—he’s Roald Dahl. Dahl’s birthday just past so wish him some luck because he’ll be facing off against…

The creator of the Cat in The Hat, The Grinch, and the Lorax, the man whose made elephants hatch eggs and put stars on Sneeches. A brilliant author, a quirky illustrator, and the man who just breathes wondrous insanity and insane wonder: Theodore Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss—though he’s not a real doctor.

Let’s fight!

 

 

1-Whose Writing Style is More Descriptive?

You read that right. Who has the most expressive, pictorial, picturesque descriptions between these two children’s writers?

 

Theodor Geisel

Image Via All That’s Interesting

 

Now we’ll give it to Theodor Geisel: We all have the same picture The Cat in the Hat, The Sneeches, How The Grinch Stole Christmas whereas we all have different images of what the layout to Willy Wonka’s dangerously FEMA-violated haven of a factory in our mind, but we’re not talking pictures here.

No, we’re saving that for later.

Let’s compare passages from both author’s magnum opuses: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and The Cat in the Hat

First is Roald Dahl up at bat:

 

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Image Via Roald Dahl Wiki

 

Charlie Bucket stared around the gigantic room in which he now found himself. The place was like a witch’s kitchen! All about him black metal pots were boiling and bubbling on huge stoves, and kettles were hissing and pans were sizzling, and strange iron machines were clanking and spluttering, and there were pipes running all over the ceiling and walls, and the whole place was filled with smoke and steam and delicious rich smells.

 

Now let’s look at what the doctor’s got cooking:

 

The Cat in the Hat

Image Via Amazon

 

the sun did not shine.
it was too wet to play.
so we sat in the house
all that cold, cold, wet day.

i sat there with sally.
we sat there, we two.
and i said, ‘how i wish
we had something to do!’

too wet to go out
and too cold to play ball.
so we sat in the house.
we did nothing at all.

so all we could do was to
sit!
sit!
sit!
sit!
and we did not like it.
not one little bit.

and then something went BUMP!
how that bump made us jump!
we looked!
then we saw him step in on the mat!
we looked!
and we saw him!
the cat in the hat!

 

Which can you picture more: The house with the rain outside, or the room in the factory? Whose passages give us most illustrative words?

Well, our good ol’ doc might have the illustrations, but Dahl’s got the words, so we have to give it him. After all, can’t you just picture Willa Wonka’s factory? Maybe that’s just because of the Gene Wilder, and the Johnny Depp, movie, but we found ourselves on the side of Dahl.

 

Roald Dahl

Image Via Smithsonian Magazine

 

Dahl=1

Seuss=0

 

 

2-Style

 

Roald Dahl writing

Image Via The Telegraph

 

Whose got style? Who’s method of writing is more memorable, distinctive, and just all around fabulous?!

Roald Dahl is up to bat:

 

Charlie Bucket stared around the gigantic room in which he now found himself. The place was like a witch’s kitchen! All about him black metal pots were boiling and bubbling on huge stoves, and kettles were hissing and pans were sizzling, and strange iron machines were clanking and spluttering, and there were pipes running all over the ceiling and walls, and the whole place was filled with smoke and steam and delicious rich smells.

 

Here we have great comparison: “The place was like a witch’s kitchen!” Buzzing onomatopoeia: “boiling, bubbling, hissing, sizzling, clanking, sputtering.” Dahl shows us a knack for word order, notice how those adjectives rhyme?. Plus, he’s certainly has a knack for names. What’s Augustus Gloop’s main characteristic? What about Mike Teavee?

 

Theodor Geisel writing

Image Via LA Times

 

Now before we hand this over to Dahl, let’s take a look at what Dr. Seuss has to offer.

 

the sun did not shine.
it was too wet to play.
so we sat in the house
all that cold, cold, wet day.

i sat there with sally.
we sat there, we two.
and i said, ‘how i wish
we had something to do!’

too wet to go out
and too cold to play ball.
so we sat in the house.
we did nothing at all.

so all we could do was to
sit!
sit!
sit!
sit!
and we did not like it.
not one little bit.

and then something went BUMP!
how that bump made us jump!
we looked!
then we saw him step in on the mat!
we looked!
and we saw him!
the cat in the hat!

 

Oh. Dang.

Not counting pictures, you can just tell by the word choice and the way the good doc structures his sentences that he’s got a style that could rival Billy Shakes.

 

Dr Seuss 'The Cat in the Hat'=sit sit sit

Image Via Goodreads

 

Notice how Seuss uses ‘sit sit sit’, making each word take up page on the space to symbolize how much time them sitting takes up. We don’t know how long exactly, but we know it took a dang long time.

 

Dr Seuss 'The Cat in the Hat'=the introduction

Image Via SlideShare

 

Notice how he also stages for the introduction to the Cat in the Hat. The phrase “We looked!” is good on its own, but then we get the line “we saw him step in on the mat!”, building the anticipation. What’s next?

Another “we looked!”, empathizing the children’s stares at this magnificent creature. To further pound the hammer into that, we have the line “and we saw him!” before we finally learn what these children are looking at.

Yeah, but we already have a picture of the cat, I hear you say. But the words that build the anticipation, emphasis that this creature is not one the children normally see. The words and the pictures, they are intertwined.

It’s such a distinctive style that it’s the figure of parodies.

 

 

Now we’ll give it to Roald Dahl: We all can all picture what the layout to Willy Wonka’s dangerously FEMA-violated haven factory might look like, but know exactly what the Cat in the Hat and the Sneeches and the Grinch all look like.

See, I told you were saving that for later, and it came in good use, didn’t it?

 

Dr Seuss drawing

Image Via History

 

Each word, each space is used for maximum effort. Deadpool would be proud and he’s got Katanas, so in this battle of word use we have to the side with Seuss.

 

Dahl=1

Seuss=1

 

 

3-Influence/Impact

Both of these authors have made classics work, but how have they influenced pop culture?

 

Roald Dahl movie

Image Via The Wrap

 

We have Roald Dahl, whose work has been turned into great movies. We have the cult classic James and the Giant Peach as well as Matilda, the classic and iconic Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory that’s given us Gene Wilder as the ultimate Willy Wonka, and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, a movie that didn’t hurt anyone.

 

Dr Seuss movies

Image Via Yahoo

 

Then we have Dr. Seuss, whose film adaptations reminds us of the horrors of soulless consumerism. We have the Grinch, a movie where Jim Carry makes a man he hates kiss a dog’s butt…

 

The cat in the Hat Mike Myers

Image Via Amazon UK

 

The Cat in the Hat staring Mike Myers, a movie which I’m convinced isn’t really a movie but a portal to hell…

Other adaptations include Horton Hears A Who, an alright movie that never hurt anyone, The Lorax, which butchered the original message, and The Grinch, starring Benedict Cumberbatch, a movie that panders to children and adults at the same time creating a confused mess.

In fact, the only way Dr. Seuss’s film adaptations can even stand up to Roald Dahl is with the shorts, such as The Lorax (1972) and The Grinch starring Boris Karloff, but what do you remember more? The 1973 Sneeches movie

Plus, the most modern adaptation of a Roald Dahl work is Wes Anderson’s fantastic The Fantastic Mr. Fox and how can you fight the power of symmetry?

 

Willy Wonka

Image Via Gorton Community Center

 

…or Gene Wilder as Willy Wonka?

Just goes to show that just because people know you’re name, doesn’t mean that’s a good thing. Dahl lives in a world of pure imagination, while Dr. Seuss is now at the center of pure consumerism.

So Roald Dahl wins!

 

Dahl=2

Seuss=1

 

Winner: Roald Dalh!

 

 

The Match

Coming down from the Great Glass Elevator, Roald Dahl surveyed the black land. He had left as soon as Great Daredevil Sneelock flew into his troops, knocking down Oompa Loompas by the dozen before he met the might of a lone, Oompa loompa, smeared with blood and war paint, his head chopped off with a machete.

Landing on the ground, Roald Dahl took a breath. At his feet the enormous alligator and Trunky lay side by side. The enormous alligator had gobbled up The Cat in the Hat and choked on his hat. Trunk was dead when Horton flew a spear at his chest using his drunk.

Coming across the battle field, Dahl put a hand over his nose. Black smoke made his eyes water from when the ingenious Mr. Fox, against the orders of General Wonka and Colon Charlie Buckett, had crafted a bomb under the factory and blew it up.

With each step, Dahl stepped in the remnants of the giant peach. When the hordes broke through, the Grinch had raised the peach above his head like a Christmas sled and threw it at the factory. That was their only mistake. It didn’t kill them, in fact it made them stronger, well fed and ready to fight.

On the horizon lay what was left of Horton. Oompa Loompas had slingshot an every-flavor-dinner gumball and threw it in Horton’s mouth. The Horton turned violet, bloated, and soon, since no one could properly juice him, blew up. Dr. Seuss had been riding the elephant. What had become of him?

Dahl marched forwards and heard a soft scream from below him. On the ground, he saw nothing, but he knew that Sam-I-Am had eaten some green eggs and ham during the battle, unaware they were poisoned with George’s marvelous medicine.

The sun poked its orange head above the horizon, and in the light everything was clear to see.

The Wonka factory was in ruins, the Oompa Loompas were smoldering alongside with the hordes of witches. The BFG lay on his side, a gaping gushing bloody hole in his chest from a spear that shot straight through him when Horton threw a spear at him with his trunk.

The Lorax has called upon The Fox in Socks, Thidwick, Yertle and all his turtles, but they were all slaughtered, when Matila and her army of schoolchildren had come after them. They had taken on the Trunchbull; the Lorax and his army were chopped down like a Truffula Trees.

The Sneeches (star-bellied or otherwise) and all the other men in the Seuss army, from Nizzards to Quan and all the fish (yes, even the blue fish), were taken out from the bomb.

All the Seuss characters, all of Dahl’s characters, dead.

Walking over to the dead purple mesh that once was Horton, Dahl looked to the ground. There had to be something here, they had to be something that made all this madness worth it. Then he saw it, the cause of this war.

It was called the Helen of Troy, but it was no woman. It wasn’t even a human. It was a drawing pen that Thedore had stolen.

Picking it up from the ground, Roald Dahl smiled. Now he could create his characters once more. No, he would new characters, better characters.

Turning around, Roald Dahl danced through the battle field. Six foot six and he towered over the dead, basking in the sun.

But when he got the Great Glass Elevator and took out a notebook, he found that the pen was out of ink.

 

 

Featured Images Via History.com and Metro

This Beautiful Middle-Grade Novel About Native American Identity Is a Game Changer

I Can Make This Promise by Christine Day doesn’t come out until October 1st, but it’s already making waves. Day’s debut is inspired by her own family’s history and follows a girl named Edie Green who uncovers her family’s secrets, and discovers her true identity as Native American.

Christine Day and I Can Make This Promise | Images Via HarperCollins

 

Tackling themes of identity, coming-of-age and First Nations family separations, Christine Day, who is Upper Skagit, has written a beautiful, sensitive and hopeful debut, and in doing so has added some much needed First Nations representation to the middle-grade reading pool.

All her life, Edie has known that her mom was adopted by a white couple. So, no matter how curious she might be about her Native American heritage, Edie is sure her family doesn’t have any answers.

Until the day when she and her friends discover a box hidden in the attic—a box full of letters signed “Love, Edith,” and photos of a woman who looks just like her.

Suddenly, Edie has a flurry of new questions about this woman who shares her name. Could she belong to the Native family that Edie never knew about? But if her mom and dad have kept this secret from her all her life, how can she trust them to tell her the truth now?

While the story is inspired by Day’s own family history, the book is not autobiographical. In an interview with The Horn Book Inc., Day stated:

In earlier drafts of this book, the family’s story was almost identical to mine. When I finally departed from the full, absolute truth of my personal history, I fell in love with the revision process. It was so liberating and inspiring to blur the lines between fact and fiction. Everything in this book still feels like it could be true to me. But it no longer feels like I’ve said too much.

I Can Make This Promise has received starred reviews from both Kirkus Reviews, who calls it, “enlightening and a must-read for anyone interested in issues surrounding identity and adoption”, and Publishers Weekly who have dubbed it “an affecting novel [that] also considers historical truths about how Native Americans have been treated throughout U.S. history, particularly underlining family separations.” Cherokee Nation’s Traci Sorell, award-winning author of We Are Grateful: Otsaliheliga, says “Day’s novel brings an accessible, much-needed perspective about the very real consequences of Indigenous children being taken from their families and Native Nations. The absence of one’s tribal community, loss of culture and lack of connection to relatives have ripple effects for generations.”

Described by Hayley Chewins, author of The Turnaway Girls, as a book that “manages to be both deeply sad and brightly hopeful”, I Can Make This Promise approaches difficult subject matter with the sensitivity and skill required by any great children’s author, which is what Day undoubtedly is.

Day holds a master’s degree from the University of Washington, where she wrote her thesis on Coast Salish weaving traditions. A huge ice cream fan, (her favorite flavors are Rainbow Sherbet by Baskin-Robbins and Half Baked by Ben & Jerry’s, for those wondering), Day is also super into Harry Potter (rating Prisoner of Azkaban as her number one!) and the Marvel Comics Universe.  You can find her online at bychristineday.com, where she has writing tips, a discussion guide for educators, a blog, fun facts and more! You can also follow her on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook to keep up with her news, as there is sure to be lots to come!

Top 5 Princess Bride Memes

The Princess Bride is a fantastic movie based on a book about a book. And it’s also the inspiration for a host of fabulous memes. Sure, they’re a little niche, and you have to do some digging, but I already did that part, so sit back and enjoy.

 

When You Find This Article

Featured image via Aww Memes

 

I, like Westley, was startled out of nowhere to discover these. Discovering new memes is a little more fun than discovering rodents of unusual size, though. Unfortunately I didn’t get the incredible situational irony he did. If only I’d said very loudly that I I didn’t think anything like this existed and then someone yeeted it at my face. Still, I’m glad they’re here, and I’m glad they’re such high quality. Also, does Westley have a lot of confidence here? ‘Large rats? Who would believe something so crazy?’

 

 

Incredibly RELATABLE Content

Image via Memes Monkey

 

How did William Goldman break into my apartment and record my thoughts decades before I was even born? I mean, there’s relatable content, and then there’s being entirely called out, and this is the intersection of that venn diagram. It’s like the book, the movie, whoever made this meme, and whoever posted it really get me. Yikes. I should probably write some apology letters. If you’re out there, I’m sorry for relating to you.

 

 

Surprise!

Image via Tumblr

 

The Chris Fleming meme is perennial, and I kind of love that some effort was actually put into the editing, but none was put into picking the pictures of Buttercup. It works! And it shows the meme creator’s priorities. As revelations from this meme go, it’s maybe middling, though Buttercup might disagree. We all learn things we can’t even imagine, and thank goodness we have this meme to express them.

 

 

How to Write a Cover Letter

Image via Randy’s Random

 

Honestly this is all just solid advice. Sure, he applied it for a very different genre of introduction, but whether you’re trying to get revenge very politely, or applying for an office job, greeting the person and telling them your name is a helpful move, and just plain good manners. If you’re going for the second, I might leave off the death threats, but hey, I’m just one person with one opinion. You’ve gotta live your best live.

 

 

When You Learn a New Word

Image via Tumblr

 

“There are more things in heaven and earth, Vizzini, Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.” Or something. We’ve all been there. You learn a new word and then not only use it left and right, but hear it everywhere. I really like the word ‘ameliorate’, for example, and if it were as flexible as inconceivable, I might use it this regularly. Some people think he just doesn’t understand it, but I choose to believe he does and is just being outrageously dramatic.

 

 

 

Featured image via Tumblr