Sunday, November 25, 2012

Gloom Mansion... cue sinister music

Have you ever thought that your shadow might have a life of its own? I hadn't until I read Gustav Gloom and The People Taker by Adam-Troy Castro

Fernie What (yes, like the question) finds herself lost in the Gloom Mansion after her cat has been chased there by its own shadow. There she meets Gustav Gloom, a not quite boy, who the neighbors call "the unhappiest little boy in the world".

The Gloom house is unpredictable. There's a library full of books that have never been written. There is shadow food, and shadow furniture. Everything is dark and never ending and full of twisty-turny corridors.

And, of course, there is a villainous villain called The People Taker. He, frighteningly, works for someone even more evil.

This book has the makings of a super-creepy series.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

and glimmering incarnations

When we were at the Schoenbrunn Palace in Austria we saw a marionette performance. We saw Mozart's "The Magic Flute" which was maria Theresia's favorite. It was beautiful and enchanting...

...but the marionettes are kind of creepy... in that 'doll-that-might-murder-you-in-your-sleep' kind of way.

So imagine my excitement when I read about the book, Splendors and Glooms by Laura Amy Schlitz:
The master puppeteer, Gaspare Grisini, is so expert at manipulating his stringed puppets that they appear alive. Clara Wintermute, the only child of a wealthy doctor, is spellbound by Grisini’s act and invites him to entertain at her birthday party. Seeing his chance to make a fortune, Grisini accepts and makes a splendidly gaudy entrance with caravan, puppets, and his two orphaned assistants. 
Lizzie Rose and Parsefall are dazzled by the Wintermute home. Clara seems to have everything they lack — adoring parents, warmth, and plenty to eat. In fact, Clara’s life is shadowed by grief, guilt, and secrets. When Clara vanishes that night, suspicion of kidnapping falls upon the puppeteer and, by association, Lizzie Rose and Parsefall. 
As they seek to puzzle out Clara’s whereabouts, Lizzie and Parse uncover Grisini’s criminal past and wake up to his evil intentions. Fleeing London, they find themselves caught in a trap set by Grisini’s ancient rival, a witch with a deadly inheritance to shed before it’s too late. 
Newbery Medal winner Laura Amy Schlitz’s Victorian gothic is a rich banquet of dark comedy, scorching magic, and the brilliant and bewitching storytelling that is her trademark

Three children in a foggy Dickens-like London, a magical puppeteer, and a dying witch set the stage for a beautifully written, horrifying and heart-warming story.

If you have a fondness for magic, morbid creepiness, and captivating writing... Splendors and Glooms is the book for you.

*spoiler alert...
Let me know if page 118 caught you as off guard as it caught me.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

indoors - outdoors - online - offline

Just when I was wondering what we'll do over the holiday breaks... look what arrived in the mail:

Unbored is the guide and activity book every modern kid needs. Vibrantly designed, lavishly illustrated, brilliantly walking the line between cool and constructive, it's crammed with activities that are not only fun and doable but also designed to get kids engaged with the wider world.

With contributions from a diverse crowd of experts, the book provides kids with information to round out their worldview and inspire them to learn more. From how-tos on using the library or writing your representative to a graphic history of video games, the book isn't shy about teaching. Yet the bulk of the 352-page mega-resource presents hands-on activities that further the mission in a fun way, featuring the best of the old as well as the best of the new: classic science experiments, crafts and upcycling, board game hacking, code-cracking, geocaching, skateboard repair, yarn bombing, stop-action movie-making-plus tons of sidebars and extras, including trivia, best-of lists, and Q&As with leading thinkers whose culture-changing ideas are made accessible to kids for the first time.

Just as kids begin to disappear into their screens, here is a book that encourages them to use those tech skills to be creative, try new things, and change the world. And it encourages parents to participate. Unbored is exciting to read, easy to use, and appealing to young and old, girl and boy. Parents will be comforted by its anti-perfectionist spirit and humor. Kids will just think it's awesome.

Contributors include: Mark Frauenfelder of MAKE magazine; Colin Beavan, the No Impact Man; Douglas Rushkoff, renowned media theorist; Geoff Manaugh, author of BLDGBLOG; John Edgar Park, a CG supervisor at DisneyToon Studios; and Jean Railla, founder of and Etsy consultant.
Make your passion part of your school work.

Do what you love.

This is an awesome guide for kids 8-13. They'll find ways to create things, spark their imaginations, and connect with their community. Check out more at 

Tuesday, November 13, 2012