Schneider Family Book Award

The 2013 winner is “A Dog Called Homeless.” This award is given to an author whose book “embodies an artistic expression of the disability experience for child and adolescent audiences.”  This year’s winner is appropriate for the 9-12 age group. Cally Fisher lives with her father and older brother. Her mother passed away a year ago and the family has not held together well in her absence. Cally starts seeing her mother (her ghost?) and it comforts her while the rest of her life is taking a downturn. She decides to stop talking. She has already had a fight with her best friend. Her father just sold the family house and they’ve moved. The only bright spot is a large dog that appears suddenly and seems to understand her. Now her new neighbor Sam, a boy who is deaf and blind, is another source of comfort. He also seems to understand her without having to speak and without them knowing each other for very long. Perhaps Cally can find a new way to be in the world.

James Patterson fans

The National Kidney Foundation and James Patterson are sponsoring a fund-raising activity to raise awareness about organ donation and fight kidney disease.  If you are the highest bidder in an on-line auction,, Patterson will name a character in an upcoming novel after you.  This is an interesting way to raise money for a worthwhile charity and to get your five minutes of fame.  Patterson does warn those interested in this endeavor that he gets to choose the character, so your name might be used for a hero or a serial killer.  Take your chances.

Award winners

I finally got around to really looking through the recent list of award winning children’s books.  The 2013 Caldecott Medal winner as you all know was “This Is Not My Hat.”  When we received our copy several months ago I had to read it more than once.  My first reading was done too quickly.  I said to myself, “I can’t be getting this.”  After the second more carefully reading, I still was not impressed.

On Wednesday, Carolyn Travers and I were discussing all the recent award winners.  I said I wouldn’t have voted for “This Is Not My Hat.”  Carolyn then told me that she read it to her class of fourth graders, and they thought it was great.  Perhaps that is why the Caldecott committee awarded their top prize to this book.  They read it through the eyes of young readers.

Rock of Ages

I recently watched the movie, Rock of Ages with Tom Cruise. The movie is a musical of sorts with mostly rock anthems from the 1980s. Journey, Foreigner, Quiet Riot, and Def Leopard are well represented. It is the story of a struggling rock concert club on the Sunset Strip at the end of the 1980s, two star-crossed lovers, and an aging rocker named Stacey Jaxx (Tom Cruise).  Catherine Zeta-Jones plays the activist mom who wants to shut them down.  The movie was not very good but it was entertaining. If you are not familiar with the above rock groups then this movie is not for you.


I watched this movie the other night and it was fairly entertaining. It is definitely a dark movie ( I had forgotten it was by Tim Burton) and not for children under 8 or 9 I would say. It was in black & white, which  gave it a really creepy feel. Apparently it is the full length version of a short that Burton had made earlier on in his movie career. It is the story of a young boy, Victor Frankenstein, whose best friend is his dog that, alas, is hit by a car and dies. Victor is so upset that he takes an idea from his science teacher, and uses electricity and lightning during a thunderstorm to bring his dog Sparky back to life. Of course it works, and Victor tries to keep Sparky hidden, but the cat is soon let out of the bag by a really creepy classmate reminiscent of Igor from the movie Frankenstein. Chaos ensues during the town’s Dutch Day festival as several of Victor’s classmates bring their dead pets back to life. There are some funny parts, and the requisite clueless parents who do finally rally ’round Victor in the end. It is definitely for a young patron who likes horror flicks.