Latest Blog Posts

by Lara Killian

1 Dec 2008

This past weekend, NPR ran a short piece on Weekend Edition where, as usual, I learned something new. Though it’s a bit tricky to find any information on it via Google, in January the Library of Congress appointed the first ever National Ambassador for Children’s Literature.

Sometimes I think you don’t realize you need a post like this until someone really great comes along to fill it. That someone is Jon Scieszka, author of some of the most clever kids’ lit since Roald Dahl.

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The True Story of the Three Little Pigs, told from the wolf’s perspective, has become a storytime staple, making kids laugh and also serving as a great lesson in point of view. Scieszka’s strength lies in realizing how smart kids really are, and how much they appreciate a funny book that doesn’t underestimate that intelligence. What little boy would turn down hearing a book called The Stinky Cheese Man and other Fairly Stupid Fairy Tales?

NPR’s piece features a short interview with Scieszka and it’s worth a listen for anyone interested in children’s stories – or in getting kids to read. They’ll be asking for these new classics again and again – and they’re smart enough for adults to enjoy, too.

Ambassador Scieszka’s term lasts for two years, so he’s almost halfway through. Although I’m sure he’s doing an admirable job promoting children’s literature as part of his current duties, it’ll be interesting to see who gets to fill his shoes in 2010.

by PopMatters Staff

1 Dec 2008

1. The latest book or movie that made you cry?
The stupidest movies can make me well up. I don’t know why as I am generally quite cynical. I’m not going to embarrass myself by telling you guys.

2. The fictional character most like you?
Fritz the cat.

3. The greatest album, ever?
Frank Zappa’s Lumpy Gravy. This is a terrible question for me to have to answer, and an arbitrary response

4. Star Trek or Star Wars?
Star Trek.

5. Your ideal brain food?
Fresh vegetables, raw nuts.

by Sarah Zupko

1 Dec 2008

Hometapes Records out of Portland specializes in smart indie rock and has released quite a few critically acclaimed releases in its young history, including 2008’s Pattern Is Movement release that we deemed worthy of an 8. For the discriminating hipster/vinylphile, Hometapes has released a number of gorgeous limited edition vinyl albums with numbered album art and other special features. Shedding’s self-titled LP comes in light green vinyl with three art inserts and a uniquely numbered fold-out cover. The aforementioned Pattern is Movement LP includes a digital download of the record packed with bonus features as well as a number of printed photographs. Even the CD version includes a little batch of fold-out photos. Nick Butcher’s recent Bee Removal album is packaged as a white vinyl release with hand-screened cover art. Cyne’s erudite backpack hip-hop is also available on a double LP as well as CD. These little touches speak to a strong commitment to artfulness across mediums. In an era of ever more disposable culture, Hometapes works hard to make things meant to save and treasure.

HOMETAPES RECORDS

by Mike Schiller

1 Dec 2008

Ignore the corporate tie-in for a second. The Nintendo DS is the current safe haven for addictive, brain-taxing puzzle games, and this particular Puzzle Adventure actually continues that tradition magnificently. The game puts a candy-coated shell around Reversi (or Othello, or whatever other name you have for the game where you transform your opponent’s pieces by surrounding them with your pieces), and yet the gameplay does not cater to the young demographic that it courts. I was oddly surprised and delighted when I was handily defeated by the very first opponent I faced, and the game’s difficulty simply doesn’t let up. The story is incidental, the colorful characters may or may not be a distraction, but there’s no mistaking the quality of the puzzling. The Neopets brand as a whole has its issues, but this particular tie-in will keep you tapping the screen through the long winter break and beyond.

AMAZON

by Ryan Michael Williams

1 Dec 2008

Unlikely as it may seem, this year’s champion recipient of critical plaudits and book blog buzz is an unfinished 900-page novel in translation. 2666 is the posthumous masterpiece of the Chilean-born writer Roberto Bolañ. At the book’s dark heart is the story of the murders of hundreds of women in the Mexican bordertown of Santa Teresa—a thin fictionalization of real events in Ciudad Juarez. But 2666 also ranges over a dazzling kaleidoscope of other settings,  from postwar Germany to contemporary Detroit. A fine gift for English majors, aspiring writers, globetrotters, expatriates, and anyone with lots of free time.

AMAZON

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