New Christmas Book Fave: Great Joy

December 23, 2011

We don’t really vary too much from our Christmas favorites here. I still love Christmas in Noisy Village best because it has earnest lines like “This cooky smell is the kind I like!” and “I wish Christmas would come oftener, don’t you?”

I’m sure there’s a place for dinosaurs dressed as Santa*, and we do get those from the library, but I tend to be fairly traditional when it comes to holiday books (with the notable expression of Lemony Snicket writing about latkes or coal).

A new favorite this year is Great Joy by Kate DiCamillo, with incredible illustrations by Bagram Ibatouilline. It’s sweet and heartfelt and old-fashioned. A girl named Frances can’t stop thinking about the organ grinder and his monkey who stand on the street corner outside her apartment. Her mother — who is harried, presumably because the father is off fighting in a war, though this is only vaguely hinted at in the illustrations — doesn’t want to deal with Frances’s questions about the organ grinder, and where he goes at night, and whether they can invite him to dinner. Frances does end up reaching out to him, and it’s just lovely.

Plus now Zuzu insists that I braid her hair with ribbons like Frances, which is a good look for her.

*Ok, I don’t know of any books where dinosaurs dress as Santa, but a fun surprise this year was Santa Duck by David Milgrim, which is completely hilarious. Check it out, if you can.


I’ve turned over all disciplining to the dog

December 14, 2011

Ok, so, first of all, my mom has a blog. Check her out! Mostly she updates on her own life (as she should) but there are occasionally World of Julie updates as well (that is, updates about me and my brood).

The latest one was hilarious. While I went to the first grown-up movie in a movie theater since 2003 (!!), this is what was happening in my home. (The lovely Sutswana took me to see “Gainsbourg: A Heroic Life” which I loved loved loved, but I think I would have loved anything, really, because it was a grown-up movie with no kids. I will say that the amount of smoking in this movie was truly comical. I know they smoked a lot in mid-century France, but COME ON. I’m surprised the dog wasn’t smoking. Anyway.)

Speaking of dogs, just like in Peter Pan, we like to have the dog be responsible for the children here:



Two new reviews up at Katie Davis’s podcast

December 14, 2011

Yeah, so I totally missed the fact that I had a review on Brain Burps About Books last week. Where is my head? I review Amy Krouse Rosenthal’s Al Pha’s Bet on last week’s episode. The episode is all about making ebooks, and it’s a super-technical episode, but worth listening to if you have any interest in publishing an ebook yourself. And it’s worth it to get to my review at the end, after which Katie totally made me blush by calling me cute and funny and says she loves my enthusiasm. Hee! You can see info on the episode here, or listen directly by going here.

And then on this week’s episode, I review Nothing Like a Puffin by Sue Soltis. This was the first review I did after I got a new microphone. Katie had complained (or, well, nicely and casually prodded) that my old mic made me have too many popping p’s. And then, unintentionally, I recorded this review, which had roughly 70,000 p’s in it. I had to edit out this long, anxiety-ridden pause when I suddenly heard myself saying the thousandth plosive and wondered how ridiculous it sounded. You can find out more about the episode here, or listen directly by going here.



PiBoIdMo Winner!

December 2, 2011

Ok, so for the past month I have been sort of secretly (well, secretly to World of Julie readers) participating in PiBoIdMo. PiBoWHAT? PiBoIdMo is Picture Book Idea Month, a challenge dreamed up by the fabulous Tara Lazar. You come up with roughly one picture book idea a day, so at the end of the month you have 30 ideas. You “win” if you come up with 30 (or more).

Now, I didn’t post about it earlier because I wasn’t sure I could do it. Or, I thought maybe I’d have a list that said, “Dog. Cheese. Canary. Penguin.” which might be 30 ideas, technically, but might be 30 boring, not-very-fleshed-out, duds.

Well, you know how they say that the secret to writing every day is to…write every day? The secret to coming up with a lot of picture book ideas, some of which are actually decent, is to do it every day. This is the thing we forget about creativity. You’re not going to get struck by the muse unless you’re actively seeking her. Making something worthwhile — stories, furniture, children, rock-hard abs — takes hard work. But the most important hard work is the daily small work. You can write a novel by ignoring your life and typing nonstop for a month. Or you can make something worthwhile by working on it for a few minutes a day. That option makes more sense for most of us, and probably makes a better product because you’re actually breathing fresh air and waving hello to people and eating decent sandwiches while you’re being creative.

Anyway, so: yeah! I came up with 43 ideas. Some of them are, more or less, “cheese.” But a few have morphed into early drafts, and some others are a page or two of frantic scribblings, so there’s potential there. I am also very happy that writer Julie Hedlund has launched a new challenge: 12×12 in 2012, where we’re going to turn those PiBoIdMo ideas into drafts.

Having an outside force holding me accountable is very motivating. I’m now actively seeking challenges like CleHoEvDa (Clean Your House Every Day) and DoFoHoChi (Don’t Forget to Homeschool the Children).