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Author: Dave


Massachusetts Book Award

Pennies for Elephants is a finalist for the Massachusetts Book Award!

You can download the full list of finalists -- books in Children's/Young Adult Lit here.

The Bird Talk Tree

We have a spindly tree on the way to our front door that seems to mysteriously get decorated when we leave the house, most recently with a Bird Talk theme!

This isn't the first time. Even before the tree was in the ground we came home one afternoon to find some strange objects on it.

Hmmmm. It all looks strangely similar to our friend Kim Cunningham's found object art.


Pencil Sketches

(Written by Dave) We were just updating several of the pages on Lita's website and thought we'd post a few pencil sketches. These are part of a story that's currently percolating. (Click on any of the images to see them larger)



playing ambulance

cat circus

More sketches are here and more illustrations are here.


Winter in New York City

(Written by Dave) We just got back from a few cold days in New York City and had a great time there. We made a quick stop at the Children's Center at the New York Public Library and I got a picture of Lita out front with one of the Library Lions.

Lita Lions

After the library and a quick hello to Betsy Bird, we had lunch with Lita's wonderful agent at Metrazur on the balcony above Grand Central Station. It was really fun! Then we visited lots of great book stores, like Books of Wonder, Barnes and Noble at Union Square and The Strand. We wanted to get up to the Bank Street Books (Children's Bookstore) but never quite made it up that way.

I just saw an article in the NY Times which said the number of visitors in the city was down a few percent in 2009, but we saw unbelievably huge crowds at the Natural History Museum and at the Met. At the MOMA people were lined up outside the building all the way to 6th Ave. We never did get in there -- didn't even try. At Rockefeller Center, in the early evening, there was a human traffic jam like nothing I've ever seen before. I can't imagine fitting more people into the space.

The window decorations at Bergdorf Goodman were pretty good this year:

Bergdorf Goodman

Good trip overall, but now we're glad to be back in New Hampshire!


Smithsonian Notable Books for Children 2009: Yellowstone Moran

Just a few days ago the Smithsonian Magazine put out an annual list called the Smithsonian Notable Books for Children 2009. Here's how they described their list last year: "... at Smithsonian Magazine, we're reviving a tradition: our annual selection of outstanding books for children, a compendium of surprising, inspiring titles—everything from picture books and novels to memoirs—for youngsters and the grownups who read to, and with, them."

2009 Smithsonian Notable Books for Children

For the 2009 list, they said, "This year’s titles range across cultures, into the past and toward the future. Their creators have relied on humor to touch our hearts; documentary accounts to bring history alive; biography to convey the true meaning of courage; poetic language to demonstrate the power of the written word—and the artist’s brush or camera to create ravishing illustrations."

We were excited to see Yellowstone Moran included on the 2009 list!

Yellowstone Moran

And here's what they said about Yellowstone Moran: "In 1871, a young artist joined an expedition of scientists setting out to explore the West. The monumental canvasses based on his travels would become iconic images that are now part of our nation’s heritage."


2009 New Hampshire Literary Awards

Written by Dave. We just heard some good news for Pennies for Elephants! It's one of the winners of the 2009 New Hampshire Literary Awards. Here is the complete list of the award winners:
  • Outstanding Work of Children’s Literature: Lita Judge, Pennies for Elephants and Joseph Monninger, Hippie Chick
  • Outstanding Book of Fiction: James Patrick Kelly, The Wreck of the Godspeed
  • Outstanding Book of Nonfiction: Mimi Schwartz, Good Neighbors, Bad Times
  • The Jane Kenyon Award for Outstanding Book of Poetry: Mimi White, The Last Island
  • Donald M. Murray Outstanding Journalism Award: John Walters, Collection of articles from Kearsarge Magazine and Upper Valley Life
  • Lifetime Achievement Award: David Carroll


Written by Dave. Back in the 1960s and 70s Lita's grandmother, Fran Hamerstrom, led a long term project on the captive breeding of golden eagles. The work produced the birth of Ithaca, the world's first living eagle resulting from artificial insemination. Sadly, we just heard that Ithaca died several days ago at the age of 37. Here are a few pictures and a note from Jim Grier, the biologist who successfully hatched and raised Ithaca. Ithaca's parents were Fran's eagles, Chrys and Grendel.

Ithaca with Jim Grier and Fran Hamerstrom Fran holding Ithaca, Jim Grier holding Ithaca's parents -- Chrys is on his right hand, Grendel is on the left hand (photo from Jim Grier).

Ithaca Flying Jim Grier flying Ithaca (photo from Jim Grier).

Fran Eagle Fran with Chrys. The chick here is a surrogate redtail hawk (Hamerstrom photo).

Fran Feeding a Golden Eagle Fran feeding a Golden Eagle (Hamerstrom photo).

ITHACA the Golden Eagle (1972-2009) (by Jim Grier) Ithaca was hatched 13 May 1972 at Cornell University, Ithaca, NY. He was named after the town of Ithaca, a Greek name which, according to a local librarian who I consulted at the time,  means "a rugged place suitable only for pasturing goats." He had to be euthanized 29 September 2009 because of complications resulting from West Nile Virus. It is sad that he encountered and suffered from the virus, that we lost him, and that he died so young (only 37 years old -- he otherwise probably would have lived many more years and I expected that he would outlive me). As a biologist, however, I'm familiar with life (and death) and understand that it's all in the nature of biology. Ithaca resulted from an extracurricular project I conducted on captive breeding of eagles. (My primary, dissertation research at Cornell was on avian thermal regulation and physiology.) He was the second of three chicks that hatched in the project. The other two died prematurely. Ithaca [also almost died at the same time], but I discovered the problem in time while he was still alive and managed to rehabilitate him as a young chick. Cornell University produced a news release (click here) and the story was widely reported in the news at the time. National Wildlife magazine published an article on the work in the 1972 Oct-Nov issue, pages 44-45. The story was included in the latest editions of a book by Fran Hamerstrom, "An Eagle to the Sky" (Iowa State Univ Press, out of print). (Fran owned the two adult golden eagles that were Ithaca's parents, see photo.)
Here is part of Lita's reply to Jim: "It feels a little strange, kind of like losing a relative you haven’t seen for a long time, but who at one time was a big presence of your life. Ithaca was born not long after me, and growing up, I knew his birth was far more important to my grandmother than her first grandchild was -- something I always accepted since Fran and you had worked so hard. I really appreciate you letting me know."

The Cybils 2009

Written by Dave
Tomorrow, nominations for the 2009 Children's and Young Adult Bloggers' Literary Awards open up and will remain open until October 15th. Be sure to stop by the Cybils site and nominate your favorite books published between last year's contest and this year's in the following genres:
  • Fiction Picture Books
  • Middle Grade Fiction
  • Young Adult Fiction
  • Nonfiction Picture Books
  • Middle Grade/Young Adult Nonfiction
  • Science Fiction and Fantasy
  • Poetry
  • Graphic Novels
  • Easy Readers and Short Chapter Books
Last year I was on the Nonfiction picture book panel, and this year I'm a round 2 judge in the Middle Grade/Young Adult Nonfiction category. Here are the panelists and judges in that category: Panel Organizer: Susan Thomsen, Chicken Spaghetti Panelists (Round I Judges): Alicia Blowers, The LibrariYAn Sarah Rettger, Archimedes Forgets Jennie Rothschild, Biblio File Jill Tullo, The Well-Read Child Erin Walker, Erin Explores YA Round II Judges: Wendy Burton, Six Boxes of Books Jennifer Donovan, 5 Minutes for Books Dave Judge, Adventures at Wilder Farm Colleen Mondor, Chasing Ray Lisa L. Owens, L.L. Owens-Children's Writing Blog

Four Book News

We just heard that Lita's next release, Born to Be Giants: How Baby Dinosaurs Grew to Rule the World, is a 2010 Junior Library Guild selection! The book is on the Roaring Brook/Flash Point spring 2010 list.

Born To Be Giants by Lita Judge

Yellowstone Moran is the current (October) Junior Library Guild selection in the Elementary Biography category.

Yellowstone Moran by Lita Judge

One Thousand Tracings has been selected by Jessica Doyle, the first lady of Wisconsin, (and an advisory committee) as a December 2009 primary pick for Read On Wisconsin! The other picks for December include: Preschool: Old Bear by Kevin Henkes, Intermediate: The Higher Power of Lucky by Susan Patron, Middle School: How To Steal a Dog By Barbara O'Connor, High School: Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins.

Read On Wisconsin

And the board of the Keene Children's Literature Festival has picked an image from Pennies for Elephants to be on the 2010 Festival Poster!

Pennies for Elephants by Lita Judge

Lita is speaking at the 2009 festival (October 31st) along with Beth Krommes, Lois Lowry, Katherine Paterson and Jane Yolen.

Yellowstone Moran Website

The long awaited release date of Yellowstone Moran is almost here! So just in time for the book's release (this Thursday, September 3rd) we just put the finishing touches on our mini website for Yellowstone Moran.

Yellowstone Moran

We're especially excited to feature (Lita's parents) Dale and Elva Paulson's beautiful wildlife photography. They're frequent visitors to Yellowstone and over the years they've taken some fantastic photographs. The pictures are special because of the animal behavior they capture -- a bear stretching after a long winter hibernation, or cubs playing in a tree. These photographs include pictures of  wolves, bison, elk, fox, bears, raven, cranes, and more.

Yellowstone Wildlife

We also have pictures of some of the items that were on the 1871 Hayden expedition. These are on display at the Albright Visitor Center at Mammoth Hot Springs which we visited last summer.

More about Thomas Moran

And we've also got some great photographs that Lita took of the geysers and hot springs at Yellowstone.

Yellowstone Geysers

There's a timeline that has details of the three important expeditions into the Yellowstone Region between 1869 and 1871. And for students who want to get started with a nature journal, Lita put together a fantastic guide that can be downloaded from the activities section of the website.

Nature Journal

If you get a chance, please take a look.