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This page features news in the area of children’s literature, events from around the blogging community, and announcements about KidLitosphere happenings. Primarily focused on literary news, special events, useful articles, and interesting posts from other blogs, it does not include reviews, interviews, or opinions.

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Entries in Escape Adulthood (4)

Thursday
Jun182009

Thursday Afternoon Visits: June 18

From Jen Robinson’s Book Page

Kidlitosphere_buttonAll of this blogging and social networking is a lot of fun. But now, when I see an interesting blog post, I have really to stop to think about where to put it. Do I put it in the draft for the next children’s literacy round-up (alternating between my blog and The Reading Tub)? Do I share it immediately at Twitter or Facebook or my own blog? Or do I save it for a Kidlitosphere visits post? Or for my weekly post at Booklights? So many platforms, each with overlapping, but distinct, audiences. What is a blogger to do? Ah well, I’ll figure it out. Meanwhile, here is some news from around the Kidlitosphere that I’ve been saving up for the past week.

I’ve seen a couple of other new posts continuing the discussion about kids and reading levels. Carlie Webber at Librarilly Blonde calls the problem “Trickle-Down Readonomics”, by which “Popular books trickle down in age.” GreenBeanTeenQueen writes, “Honestly I hate it when parents come into the library and brag about how their 3rd or 4th grader is reading at a higher reading level, and they want to read YA and adult books… but not with any YA or adult themes”. And Christine M from The Simple and the Ordinary draws a parallel between the problem of kids being pushed to read grown-up books too soon and pressure that kids have to stop playing with particular toys. Clearly, this whole topic has resonated with people. There are also lots of insightful comments from parents and librarians on my other posts here and here, and especially on the post at Booklights.

There’s been a lot of interesting discussion at Read Roger about bloggers and publishers, and buzz vs. recommendations vs. reviews. Today’s post, for example, has an extensive discussion about what publishers expect from bloggers and the presence or absence of negative reviews. Earlier posts in the discussion chain are here and here. I especially liked Maggie Stiefvater’s comments in today’s post (hat-tip to @TrishHeyLady for sending me back to look for this). Maggie said: “A negative review is as good as a positive review for business… The posts that weren’t useful? The ones that just said, in two lines: “OMG I LOVED THIS BOOK SO BAD EVERYONE GO BUY IT.”” But really, there are tons of other interesting comments, too. Do check it out.

I also liked the discussion on a recent post by Daphne Grab at The Longstockings about the popularity of sequels. Daphne asks: “are you a fan of more than one novel in the same world? If not, why, if so, why and what are your favorites?” For me, the answer is yes, yes, yes if it’s a world that I want to spend more time in, but no otherwise. And yes, I’m looking forward to the upcoming third book about DJ (Front and Center) by Catherine Gilbert Murdock. And the second book in Kristin Cashore’s world from Graceling. And … you get the idea. 

There’s a fun discussion going on at Angieville about the joys of rereadingAngie says, of the collection of books that she re-reads regularly, “They’re not what I should read, necessarily, but what I have to read. They’re the books that last, that remind me everything’s going to be okay, that there are entire worlds on the other side of a wardrobe door, that Lizzie and Darcy will forgive each other, that Huw’s valley was once so very green.” Poetic and true, wouldn’t you say? I have books that call to me from the shelf sometimes (including Pride and Prejudice), and I’m pretty much compelled to obey their summons.

Kate Coombs has a fabulous Scary YA Book Extravaganza at Book Aunt. She explains: ” I’ve saved up the most recent batch of teen paranormal books I’ve read in an attempt to look at some of the kinds of things people are doing. Happily, writers are branching out: only two of these books contain vampires, and they’re barely mentioned in one of the two.” She talks about many current titles.

Mrs. V from Mrs. V’s Reviews announced last week that she’s “out about reading YA”. She says: “I do not feel like I ever did an official announcement about being a YA reader, other than this blog and that my family members and students frequently see me reading YA. Either way, I am proud to say that I love YA and I would gladly announce to my peers that I frequently read it and support the merits of YA.” I can only offer my support and encouragement.

Abby (the) Librarian wrapped up her Help Me Help You series, in which she discussed ways that librarians can help people to get the most out of the library. These are great, nuts and bolts posts, worth a read from everyone. The final post has links to the previous four, so start there.

At the Escape Adulthood blog, Kim Kotecki shares 17 simple & free ways to have fun today. Like “Carry an umbrella even though it’s not raining.” and “serve a purple dinner.”

NerdsheartyaSpeaking of fun, I learned from Natasha’s Maw Books Blog about the ongoing Nerds Heart YA book tournament, “that highlights sixteen young adult books published in 2008 that might not have garnered the attention of their counterparts.” It’s the brainchild of Renay from YA Fabulous. I was pleased with the outcome of Round 1, judged by Valentina from Valentina’sRoom, in which one of my favorite 2008 titles was selected.

BlogiestaAnd speaking of Natasha, she’s organizing a new blogging event called Bloggiesta, taking place this weekend. Don’t you just love the logo? Natasha explains: “The Bloggiesta will focus on blog content, improving/cleaning up your blog or working on your social network profiles. I’m pretty open on what you can do during the bloggiesta but reading actually won’t count!  I know, I know. The point is to catch up instead of adding another book to the “to be reviewed” pile. Actual blog content is what I’m really aiming for with some technical/housekeeping bloggy stuff mixed in for good measure.” The idea is to spend as much time as you can out of a 48-hour time period this weekend. As someone (I’m sorry, I forget who it was) wrote on her blog, this pretty much describes all of my weekends anyway. I’m going to sit this one out, though, because I’m feeling spread a bit thin at the moment, and even tracking my time feels like an extrathing. But I’m pleased to report that there are already some 75 participants signed up. I think it’s going to be great!

Map_southeast_asiaIn other event news, Colleen Mondor recently announced another One Shot World Tour, this one focusing on Southeast Asia. The event will be held August 12th. Colleen explains “For those of you not familiar with the One Shot idea, a group of bloggers (and its open to everybody with a blog) all agree to read a book by an author from a certain region or a book set in that region and then blog about it on a specified day. You can also interview an author from there if you prefer.” You can find more details at Chasing Ray.

And now, I’m pleased to report that my Google Reader is, for the moment, empty of starred items. I do believe it’s time to go read an actual book. Here’s an early wish to you all for a relaxing weekend.

© 2009 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson’s Book Page. All rights reserved.
You can also find me on Twitter and at Booklights from PBS Parents.
All Amazon links in this post are affiliate links, and may result in my receiving a small commission (with no additional cost to you).

Sunday
Nov162008

Sunday Afternoon Visits: Summer's Day Edition

From Jen Robinson’s Book Page

It’s a beautiful day here in San Jose. So beautiful that I’m sitting out in my backyard this afternoon, with the computer on my lap, because I just can’t bear to be inside. It’s a bit hard to read the screen, though, so I’m not sure how long I’ll last. But it’s about 75 degrees, with blue skies, there are occasional prop planes flying by and late roses blooming, and if I lean forward a tiny bit, I can see cows out grazing. Yeah, it would be hard to leave California.

Anyway, there has been a lot going on in the Kidlitosphere this week:

The Comment Challenge is still going strong. MotherReader has the full list of participants here. If you’re new to the Kidlitosphere, and looking for a list of active bloggers, this is a great place to start.

Via Rick Riordan’s blog, I learned that registration opens for Camp Half-Blood in Austin tomorrow (Monday). You can find more details in the Austin-American Statesman, or at the BookPeople website.

Imbuyingbooks_buttonThere have been lots of great posts at or around the Books for the Holidays blog. If you’re looking for motivation or ideas related to giving people books as gifts this season, do head on over to check it out. I especially liked this post by Becky Laney, with mini-reviews of children’s and YA titles, from bargains to books to get kids hooked on a series. See also Tricia’s post at The Miss Rumphius Effect about gift books for kids who love animals, and Elaine Magliaro’s post at Wild Rose Reader with links to various book lists.

Speaking of the gift of books, Tanita from Finding Wonderland shares a lovely Emily Dickinson poem about “precious words”. She’s also giving some thought to the idea that we can work together to create a culture of reading, and says “anyone can become a reader.” I agree 100%. You can find a full Poetry Friday round-up at Yat-Yee Chong’s blog.

I already posted the schedule for the Winter Blog Blast Tour (which launches tomorrow). As if that weren’t enough organizing for anyone, Colleen Mondor just announced another cross-blog event, in which everyone is welcome to participate. It’s called the 2008 Holiday Season Book Recommendation Event. Colleen explains: “If you want to join in then you send me the exact url of your first Holiday Book Recs post. I’ll link to that on a master list and then from there, if you want to keep posting for however many days of the 12 (all or part or whatever), then you need to update your own first day post to reflect that.”

CybilsLogoSmallOver at The Well-Read Child, Jill shares her Cybils nonfiction evaluation criteria. She includes age-appropriateness, layout, writing style/tone, appealing story, visual elements, and (with a nod to Tricia from The Miss Rumphius Effect) references. This is a post that I think would benefit anyone analyzing nonfiction titles for kids.

Speaking of judging books, Carlie Webber from Librarilly Blonde identified a cringe-worthy sentence in a review of John Green’s Paper Towns by Monica Watson from the Ithacan. Watson says: “The young-adult genre has been riddled with uninspiring novels that lack any kind of creativity or originality. Shuffling through the mundane “Gossip Girl” spin-offs and “Twilight” rip-offs has made finding a substantive novel as easy as finding a needle in a haystack.” How sad is that? See Carlie’s rebuttal.

On a lighter note, Kim and Jason over at the Escape Adulthood website are running a tournament to decide the all-time greatest childhood food. They started with 16 options, from mac and cheese to chocolate chip cookies, and voters select the winners in a series of rounds. You can find more details here.

I saw this link first at Guys Lit Wire. Publisher’s Weekly shares an opinion piece by 13-year-old Max Leone about what kinds of books teenage boys would like to see published. Here’s a brief taste, but you really should click through and read the article, especially if you are an author or a publisher: “The selection of teen literature is even more barren now that the two great dynasties, Harry Potter and Artemis Fowl, have released their final installments. Those two massive successes blended great characters, humor and action in a way that few other books manage. When they went for laughs, they were genuinely funny, and their dramatic scenes were still heart-poundingly tense, even after I’d read them dozens of times.” Other parts of the article are hilarious. And probably true.

Shannon Hale shares the latest installment of her books and readers series, discussing “good book vs. bad book”. She says “It would be so convenient if we could classify books as either good or bad, as vegetables or candy, as Literature or Dross. Sometimes I really want to… I think it’s good to question the merit of what we’re putting into our minds. But I also think it’s wise to challenge how we determine the value and quality of a book.” As usual, she says smart things, and generates tons of interesting comments. I especially liked this part: “But something happens, some profound chemical reaction, when a reader is introduced. The reader takes the text and changes it just by reading it. The reader tells herself a story from the words on the page. It is a unique story only for her.”

Over at A Year of Reading, Franki Sibberson shares the second installment of her “books I could read a million times” feature. Think about the power of a person who does read the same book aloud multiple times a day, to different classes, identifying books that she still enjoys, reading after reading. Those are books that parents should buy.

And while we’re on the subject of reading in the classroom, Bestbooksihavenotread shares an idea, originally suggested by Beth Newingham, about bringing a mystery reader into the classroom. She explains: “Parents sign-up for a slot (about 20 minutes) to come in and share a favorite book with the class. The week leading up to their visit, the teacher reads one clue that points to the reader’s identity.” The idea is to use the mystery to get kids extra-excited about the read-aloud.

And that’s all for this week in general Kidlitosphere news. I’ll be back today or tomorrow with the children’s literacy and reading news round-up. But now, the cows have gone in for the day, and I believe that I will, too.

© 2008 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson’s Book Page. All rights reserved.
You can also find me on Twitter and at Booklights from PBS Parents.
All Amazon links in this post are affiliate links, and may result in my receiving a small commission (with no additional cost to you).

Thursday
Aug212008

Thursday Afternoon Visits: August 21

From Jen Robinson’s Book Page

I find myself with a bit of time to spare this afternoon, and a few links saved up, so I thought that I would share:

  • Regular readers know that I love Kim and Jason’s Escape Adulthood website. This week, I especially appreciated a post by Kim about finding reasons to celebrate, and then celebrating them. The post starts with a couple of sad stories about loss, but Kim takes the positive view, saying “Human nature tricks us into believing that we’ll all die from old age, but it’s simply not true. Don’t wait until a tragedy happens to realize that your life is meant to be lived to the fullest today. Don’t wait until your anniversary to surprise your spouse with a night out on the town. Don’t wait until your birthday to allow yourself the permission to pick up that ice cream cake from Dairy Queen. (Yum!) Don’t wait until circumstances are perfect before you plan that spontaneous camping trip. Celebrate today!” I’m not always good about this, but Kim and Jason provide regular and excellent reminders, which I really appreciate. What have you celebrated lately?
  • Betsy Bird shares ten children’s novels that would make good movies at A Fuse #8 Production. She offers an exceptionally wide range of titles, all described with Betsy’s trademark voice. Here’s an example, on Kiki Strike: “So let us consider making a movie for tween girls, starring tween girls, and doesn’t involve them wearing short skirts, shall we?  Or indulging in bad movie banter.  I know, I know.  I’m probably asking too much with that latter requirement.  Fine, if you make the film you can fill it to the brim with banter. Just show girls doing something other than teaming up with boys in an action movie and I’ll never complain again.”
  • I don’t generally highlight author interviews from other blogs, because I tend to focus more on the books than on the authors. But Jules and Eisha have posted a truly impressive interview with Jane Yolen over at 7-Imp, which I would like to bring to your attention. There is discussion, there are dozens of links to more information, there are interesting tidbits about the author, and there are fabulous pictures. This is the kind of interview that becomes a resource for the author herself, because Jules and Eisha have collected so much information into one place. Do check it out. 
  • Reading MagicAt PaperTigers, Janet shares some examples from the new edition of Mem Fox’s book, Reading Magic: Why Reading Aloud to Our Children Will Change Their Lives Forever. Janet says: “After reading her essays about the true magic that comes from reading aloud, I don’t think this lady is exaggerating. If reading aloud to children can turn them into smart, inquisitive, creative people, then reading aloud may well hold the key to solving all of the world’s woes.” I just might have to pick up with new edition.
  • For all you book reviewers out there, Steph at Reviewer X has a question: “which of the reviewers are also writers? There’s some stereotype that says all reviewers (or book bloggers, or something like that) are aspiring authors. Accurate?” A brief perusal of the comments reveals that, as with many stereotypes, there’s some truth, but by no means universal adherence.
  • Colleen Mondor writes about the value of the color gray at Chasing Ray. The discussion is in the context of Colleen’s review of two YA titles set in alternate futures: Cory Doctorow’s Little Brother and Nick Mamatas’s Under My Roof. Colleen notes that Under My Roof “is a book where the good and bad guys are never clearly defined” (in contrast to the more clear-cut Little Brother) and says that “Reading these two books had made me realize just how uncomfortable the shade of gray can be for most people.”
  • At BookKids, the BookPeople children’s book blog (from the famous Austin bookstore), Madeline discusses modern mysteries aimed at kids. She says: “I have to admit that I think there is a lack of really great new kid mystery series. There are some good stand alone books like Elise Broach’s Shakespeare’s Secret, but not the kind of series where you just want to read nine or ten of the books in a row. In fact, I could only think of three current mystery series at all. However, I fortunately like all three series, and I can heartily recommend them as great chapter books for kids and teens.” Click through to see what she recommends, and other discussion in the comments.
  • Via School Library Journal, as “part of the 10th anniversary celebration of the U.S. release of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, Scholastic, the U.S. publisher of the wildly popular Harry Potter series, is inviting fans of all ages to its New York City headquarters to take part in “Harry Potter Cover to Cover Day,” an all-day muggle read-a-thon.”
  • Guardian piece by Louise Tucker on boys and reading has sparked discussion between Tricia from The Miss Rumphius Effect (here and here) and Libby from Lessons from the Tortoise (here). Tricia asks (in direct response to the article): “Why are we so blessed concerned with the “right” books instead of the process of immersing kids in books that they will love? Shouldn’t the goal be developing readers?” It’s all interesting stuff - well worth checking out.
  • Last, but not least, I’ve seen this in several places, but Jackie has the full details at Interactive Reader. Readergirlz have launched rgz TV on YouTube. Here’s a snippet from the press release: “rgz tv is broadcasting interviews with Rachel Cohn, Jay AsherSonya Sones and Paula Yoo. The uploaded videos have been shot and edited by the readergirlz founders and members of the postergirlz.” Pretty cool!

And that’s all for today. Hope you find some tidbits of interest.

© 2008 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson’s Book Page. All rights reserved.
You can also find me on Twitter and at Booklights from PBS Parents.
All Amazon links in this post are affiliate links, and may result in my receiving a small commission (with no additional cost to you).

Monday
Jul142008

Monday Night Visits: Blog Identity Crisis Edition

From Jen Robinson’s Book Page

So I did my usual Sunday visits post yesterday, and that was all well and good. Except that today, interesting posts simply exploded across the Kidlitosphere. So I’m back with a few additions. (Perhaps feeling extra keen to report on the news, after Daphne Grab kindly included me in a Class of 2k8 round-up of recommended resources for kidlit industry news).

  • First up, my sympathies go out to Jules and Eisha, the proprietors of Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast. They are experiencing a bout of what I like to call “blog focus angst” (though they call it an identify crisis), and they write about it eloquently. Feeling worn down under the pressure of review books and the time required to write the long, thoughtful, link-filled reviews that are their trademark, they’ve decided to pull things back a bit. And who can blame them? I often feel the same way (especially when I actually look at the number of review books that I’ve accumulated recently), and it’s clear from the comments that many other people do, too. I’m just glad that they’ll still be keeping 7-Imp, and modifying it to fit their own busy lives a bit better. Colleen Mondor offers support at Chasing Ray, too.
  • And, in an ironic counterpoint, given the pressure that bloggers are putting on themselves to write thoughtful book reviews, another article (from the Guardian) takes on the print vs. online reviews debateLiz B. offers up her customary insightful analysis of the piece at Tea Cozy. I think that a particularly important point Liz makes is that “there isn’t a lot of print coverage of children’s/YA books, so the blogosphere fills that vacuum.”
  • Meanwhile, Kim and Jason from the Escape Adulthood site are suggesting, as their tip of the week, that readers “Spend 15 – 30 minutes doing something you love that you don’t often have the chance to do.” As Kim points out, ” If you cannot find 15-30 minutes on a regular basis to do something you love, then what’s the point?” Words to live by, I’d say. If our blogs, which started out as a way to talk about our love of reading, become work, then it’s up to us to make them enjoyable again.
  • Kiera Parrott at Library Voice is starting a new reluctant reader pick of the week feature. First up is Jellaby. I think it’s a great idea, and I’ll be watching for her other recommendations. (Though, I hope that Kiera doesn’t put pressure on herself with this weekly schedule - see identify crisis above).
  • Sheila at Greenridge Chronicles has a lovely post about what her family has learned from readalouds (including books by Laura Ingalls Wilder, J. K. Rowling, and Diana Wynne Jones).
  • And if you’re looking to read to escape, Newsweek has an article about the rise of post-apocalyptic fiction aimed at kids. Lots of people are quoted, including Susan Beth Pfeffer (hat-tip to Sue for the link). The article, by Karen Springen, discusses the suitability of such books for kids, and also touches on “potent political messages” embedded in some of the books.
  • And, if you really want to escape, check out Franki Sibberson’s list of books for kids who like Captain Underpants, at Choice Literacy (linked from A Year of Reading). Franki adds “if we are thinking of summer reading lists like this—connecting kids to books based on books they love, kids would have lots of ownership over what they read.”
  • Walter Minkel shares a couple of summer literacy links from Reading Rockets at The Monkey Speaks.
  • And finally, Becky from Becky’s Book Reviews weighs in on the Summer Reading List question. Becky points out (among other insights) that (on the topic of required reading) “You cannot force someone to enjoy something. Requiring something means it’s work. And it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that once something becomes work, it loses its ability to be fun. Work is tedious. It’s mundane. It’s something to be endured.” And so we’ve come full circle with the 7-Imps post, in which Jules said: “I’ve also felt obligated to write about these books after I read them (even if I find fault with the writing), and I just really, REALLY want to read something and not have to report on it. To be thrilled about reading a book and then putting it down, instead of spending one or two hours to write about it….well, that tells me something. I feel like I’m doing to myself what we do to children when we give them programs like Accelerated Reader: Don’t just read and enjoy it. You must take a quiz now. I know I’M DOING THAT TO MYSELF.” Definitely a common theme going on today - don’t take something you enjoy and turn it into work. And especially don’t do that to kids.

Here’s wishing you all 15-30 minutes (at least) to do something that you enjoy.

© 2008 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson’s Book Page. All rights reserved.
You can also find me on Twitter and at Booklights from PBS Parents.
All Amazon links in this post are affiliate links, and may result in my receiving a small commission (with no additional cost to you).