We kids always dreaded it when Mom pulled the red casserole dish out of the oven. We knew inside would be “Miltenberger Mush,” a variable concoction using up what few leftovers our family of 6 might have had. If you are averse to mish-mash, you might want to skip today’s post because it is coming straight from the red casserole dish.

First: Mitali Perkins threw down the gauntlet, challenging us Seattle folks to hold our own Kids Heart Authors day — and the challenge has been accepted. Details still to come but on February 14, 2009, local indie bookstores — 14 for the 14th! — will host local book creators for Kids Heart Books day. If you are a Pacific Northwest author or illustrator with a book in print that is available through a distributor, email Stesha Brandon, at steshab@u.washington.edu and soon. The deadline to sign up is January 17.

Second: I don’t know if I’m brave enough to do it myself yet, but I loved the WIP word counter posted at Lori Van Hoeven’s blog (she said she got the idea from Sarah Miller). I did, however, start a word count log for the novel-that-shall-not-be-named-and-may-never-be-finished. 1702 for yesterday; that felt good.

Third: Much ado is being made about the Newbery award these days (Anita Silvey’s SLJ article; one in the Washington Post, etc). The awarded books are being criticized for their lack of relevance to today’s readers, their lack of diversity, the fact that they often deal with hard topics, and the fact that they don’t seem to encourage children to read. You can find a thoughtful discussion at A Chair, A Fireplace and a Tea Cozy, but I am going to rant. Do you want to know what has really burned my biscuits about the award? Not one Newbery book has ever cured cancer, caused the lame to walk or the blind to see. And I understand some of the Newbery authors can’t even dog-paddle, let alone walk on water.

Talk to you later — gotta go beef up that word count!