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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 Guys Lit Wire (4)

Friday
Sep112009

Friday Afternoon Visits: September 11

From Jen Robinson’s Book Page

September 11th will never again be just another day. One can’t even think about the date without remembering the events that occurred 8 years ago. My heart goes out to the friends and family members who are still grieving. The people lost on 9/11/01 will never be forgotten.

But I think that remembering terrible things only makes it that much important to take positive actions when we can. In doing so, even when the actions are small, we send out a tiny light into the darkness. And so, this Friday, September 11th, I bring you the news from the largely joyful place that is the Kidlitosphere. First, some September 11th-related remembrances and reviews:

RIFF_logoAt Rasco from RIFCarol Rasco shares RIF’s plans for the first official September 11 Day of Service and Remembrance. She says: “The tragic events of September 11, 2001 unified us as a nation. The memory of that day continues to inspire us to serve our neighbors, our communities, and our country. We are pleased to join this national effort and thank the President for making this call to service.” 

14_cowsAt The Reading TubTerry Doherty shares her personal response to the book 14 Cows for America, saying: “Although September 11, 2001 is the backdrop for the story, Deedy is offering us a timeless, universal story of empathy, compassion, and shared dreams of hope. Sharing this book with a child will open their minds to other cultures, traditions, and belief systems.”

Levithan_loveAnd at Finding WonderlandTanita Davis intermingles her memories of 9/11 with a review of David Levithan’s Love is the Higher Law. She says: “David Levithan is a New Yorker whose own impressions of that bewildering, horrifying, terrifying day are reflected in these pages. Few readers, teens and adults alike, will be able to experience this novel without remembering their own story — where they were that day, what they did.” Jackie Parker reviews the book, too, at InteractiveReader. She says: “I read it because it was David Levithan writing about 9/11. I know that Levithan is a New Yorker. And I trusted him as an author to deal with this subject with barefaced honesty, never pandering, never with any sense of self-importance or false heroism, or anything else that sullies that day.” 

At The Simple and the Ordinary, Christine M. shares her fragmented but crystal clear 9/11 memoriesSarah shares hers at The Reading Zone, and Susan hers at Chicken Spaghetti.  Me, I was in Austin, Texas on a business trip, and I heard about the events in New York on the car radio, on my way to work. During the course of that half hour drive, the first tower fell. And things were different. We all remember.

But, now, because life does go on, I’ll go on to the regular blogosphere news:

Book-blogger-appreciation-weekSherry Early has been running a great feature at Semicolon. She’s going through the shortlists for Book Blogger Appreciation Week, checking out each blog, writing a short blurb about the blog, and identifying her pick in each category. For example, here’s her assessment of the Best Thriller/Mystery/Suspense Blog category. I’ve flagged several of her posts to go back to, as I seek out new blogs to follow myself. (In the interest of full disclosure, I should admit that Sherry has some nice things to say about my own blog, shortlisted in the Best KidLit Blog category. But I would think it was a neat feature in any case, I’m sure.) See also a thoughtful post at Chasing Ray, in which Colleen Mondor shares her opinion about shortlisting blogs, in general. Incidentally, voting for BBAW closes at midnight Saturday night. I hope that if you have opinions about any of the categories, you’ll take a few minutes to vote. And stay tuned for lots more BBAW activity next week.  

Cybils2009-Web-SmallThanks to the talented and hard-working Sarah Stevenson, new Cybils Bling is now available for purchase at Cafe Press. All of the new merchandise (t-shirt, mugs, buttons, tote bag, etc.) features the snazzy new Cybils 2009 logo. You can find details at the Cybils blog. Personally, I have my eye on a new mug, to go with my assorted Kidlitosphere Conference mugs from years past.

BooklightsPam and Susan have both hit it out of the park at Booklights this week, in my opinion. On Wednesday, Susan wrote about the ups and downs of reading aloud. She offers practical advice for parents who might be disappointed by their young kids’ unwillingness to sit still for read-aloud. Her conclusion: “Go easy on yourself and your children when it comes to reading aloud. And enjoy the wonderful moments when they happen.” Then yesterday, Pam used her Thursday Three feature to offer reading help for “the three people involved in your child’s reading development - the teacher, the child, and yourself.” I especially liked her strong suggestion that parents try to avoid The Reading Game (parental competition over kids’ reading levels and books). Both of these posts have the same general message for parents: raising readers works best if you keep it fun, and keep from being too hard on yourself or the kids. And that, my friends, is why I’m so happy to be working with Pam and Susan (and Gina, who guides us all, and Ann, who reinforces what we’re doing) at Booklights.

Terry Doherty wrote a guest article for this month’s Children’s Book Insider (subscription required) that some of you may find of interest. It’s about generating cyberbuzz (or, how to get your book reviewed online). Terry offers tips based on her experience in moderating book review requests at The Reading Tub. She also makes an interesting distinction between “stories written for kids, titles adults like for their kids; and books meant for adults.” There’s also a followup interview between Terry and CBI’s Laura Backes here. Terry also has a guest piece in the Examiner, as part of Jennifer Finke’s series on Toys with Imagination. Terry talks about engaging toddlers and kids with interactive books (no batteries required!).

Nathan Bransford, the literary agent, started an interesting discussion on his blog this week about whether or not children’s books should be “content-rated” like movies and video games. As I write there are some 250+ comments - clearly this is a topic that people feel strongly about. I found this post via Dawn Morris from Moms Inspire Learning (who found it via Jon Bard from Children’s Book Insider). Dawn says (on her own blog): “I wish the YA section of the library could be split in two, with books that address serious issues being put into a separate section for high school students. Why can’t there be a “safe” section just for children between the ages of 10 and 14? Parents can’t always read every book, after all.” Me, I think it’s a complicated question, because content ratings for books are such a subjective and variable thing. What’s “safe” for one kid might seem edgy for the next. It’s not easy. On a related note, Robin LaFevers writes about “some of the delineations in writing YA versus MG versus adult books”.

Another controversy has spun up around the lit blogosphere this week. The latest Notes from the Horn Book (a monthly email newsletter from Horn Book Magazine) included an interview with author Richard Peck. Mr. Peck apparently criticized teachers for reading books aloud. The interview has evoked some dissenting opinions from teachers, of course, particularly from Sarah at The Reading Zone and Monica Edinger at Educating Alice. See also Horn Book editor Roger Sutton’s take at Read Roger (he says “I think Peck was complaining about classrooms where kids’ only exposure to trade books was hearing them read aloud”). But still… it’s always something! 

Gail Gauthier linked to an interesting piece in the Denver Post by David Milofsky. The author posits that, as Google and Yahoo start paying publishers to link to news stories, the same might be expected of literary bloggers. A number of prominent bloggers are quoted in the article. I would tend to agree with Gail that if your blog doesn’t make money, fair use would probably apply in linking to a news story. Personally, it’s not like my blog is a big profit center for me. If I had to pay to link to news stories, well, I just wouldn’t link to news stories. Or I’d find some other way to do it, anyway. But it’s something to watch.

Quick Hits:

  • This week’s Poetry Friday roundup is at Wild Rose Reader. The last Nonfiction Monday roundup was at The Miss Rumphius Effect.
  • Greg Pincus has an inspirational post about community and the power of #kidlitchat (a weekly Twitter chat about children’s books and publishing). I’ll tell you, he made me want to participate, and I’m so not a “chat” person (the introvert in me can’t cope with the swirl of conversation, even when it’s online).
  • At Angieville, Angie has a fun post about the appeal of “bad boys” in literature, inspired by a post from Adele at Persnickety Snark. Reading both posts, it’s clear to me that in literature and TV, I’m generally in favor of Bad Boys, too (I pick Pacey over Dawson any day, and I am Team Gale all the way).
  • At Bookshelves of DoomLeila is in a bit of a reading slump, and looking for “something that I’ll be able to fall into, that has writing that at the very least won’t make me roll my eyes, that has characters I can believe in, a story that I haven’t read a million times before (unless the writing and the characters make it work), something that I’ll remember for more than an hour after reading.” Lots of promising suggestions in the comments.
  • At Parents and Kids Reading Together, Cathy Puett Miller says that “picture books are for everyone”.
  • Cheryl Rainfield has pictures of a house and furniture made out of books (well, not really, but they’re made to look like they’re made out of books, which works, too). Very fun!
  • At the Miss Rumphius EffectTricia links to a Fledgling post by Zetta Elliott about authors of color. Tricia says: “In addition to being a mighty strong argument for the recognition of works by authors of color, she includes links to some astounding and disheartening statistics.” See also Roger Sutton’s response.
  • Speaking of the need for diversity in publishing, Susan has a great quote at Chicken Spaghetti from Amy Bowllan’s School Library Journal blog, in a recent column about writers against racism: “Literature helps us understand who we are and to find our place in the world.” 
  • Responding to the recent trend of adding horror elements to classic romances (e.g. Pride and Prejudice and Zombies), Becky from Becky’s Book Reviews suggests adding romance to some of the classic horror stories (e.g. a love interest for Frankenstein). I like it!
  • At A Year of Reading, Mary Lee and Franki are commemorating the start of the new school year with a series of posts celebrating teachers. I especially liked Day 4, in which Franki reminds people about Mary Lee and Franki’s list of Cool Teachers in Children’s Literature.
  • Liz Burns from Tea Cozy is one of the winners of the Color Me Brown challenge at Color Online. She links to other winners here
  • Susan Beth Pfeffer unveils the cover of the third Life As We Knew It book, The World We Live In. This is one book for which I don’t need to see any reviews. I already want it.  
  • Colleen Mondor wrote a short history of Guys Lit Wire for Crossed Genres magazine.
  • Mary Pearson guest blogged at Tor the other day about everyone’s obsession with the future (and specifically talked about how thinking about the future led her to the ideas in The Adoration of Jenna Fox). She also has a smart post at Tor about what YA lit is and isn’t (I found that one via Liz B.).
  • Sarah Stevenson chimed in on MotherReader’s Kidlitosphere Conference meme at Finding Wonderland. Updated to add that Betsy Bird chimed in from Fuse #8, too (and she hardly ever does memes). And Colleen makes a particularly strong case for writers to attend, at Chasing Ray. Oh, I wish that EVERYONE could come this year. At least Liz B. will be there again this year (here’s her meme).
  • And if this isn’t enough news for you, Abby (the) Librarian has some other links today.

Wishing you all a weekend of peace. Me, I just got some good news from my brother, which definitely makes the day a lot brighter.

© 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).

Tuesday
Jul072009

Tuesday Afternoon Visits: July 7

From Jen Robinson’s Book Page

I know that I just published a Kidlitosphere news round-up on Sunday. But I have a few additional links to share with you today:

First up, congratulations to Guys Lit Wire. Their Book Fair for Boys was a huge success. Colleen Mondor reports: “I am thrilled to announce that to date we received 600 books for the boys in the LA County juvenile justice system. The response to the original Book Fair for Boys post has been huge - far greater than we anticipated - and will make a big difference in a lot of lives. So many books were sent to LA that InsideOut Writers is able to spread them over all three facilities where the boys are held, providing much greater access to the books.” Very cool!

Also at Guys Lit Wire, an excellent post from Mr. Chompchomp suggesting some guy-friendly books that feature female protagonists. He says: “Fortunately, the world of literature is more varied than the world of Disney movies, and gives us many books with girls as the main characters, girls who are neither princesses nor fairies, nor, for that matter, the tormented little playthings of boy vampires. Here are some of those books, mostly fantasy and sci-fi, because that’s what I know, but some non-fiction too, for good measure”. There are some great suggestions, including Garth Nix’s fabulous Sabriel (and sequels).

Mitali Perkins just published a great list of Take Me Away Fiction (books with a strong sense of place). She says: “f you can’t afford a lavish vacation this summer, here’s a list of books that make you forget where you are by creating a great sense of place. I haven’t read all of these, so don’t quote me as your travel agent — they came in response to my call for YA/Kid novels that turn us into armchair travelers with their mastery of setting.” The first three books I thought of were Sara Zarr’s Story of a GirlMary Pearson’s A Room on Lorelei Street, and Laini Taylor’s Blackbringer. And of course there is Mitali’s own Monsoon Summer. Do you have any other titles to suggest for Mitali’s list?

In light of the many responses to the recent NY Times column by Nicholas Kristof’s list of “the best kids’ books ever” (one person’s opinion, and not at all a diverse list, but at least he’s got lots of people talking about children’s books), Laurel Snyder has re-posted her own essay on “the very worst books for kids”.

There seems to be a minor bout of blog reviewer burnout going around. This is different from blog focus angst, and tends to be caused by either writing many reviews in a short time, or by having a big stack of books that have been read, and not yet reviewed. Amy from My Friend Amy is the latest victim of this malaise (though she clearly has an excellent support network). In any event, for anyone suffering from this, I prescribe 7 Tips for Quitting a Book, from Kelly at YAnnabee. That and a big stack of books that you don’t feel like you’ll need to review - things outside of your usual focus, old favorites, etc.

OK, that’s all for now. Back to our regularly scheduled programming.

© 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).

Friday
May152009

Friday Afternoon Visits: May 15

From Jen Robinson’s Book Page

It’s been another week of newsworthy events around the Kidlitosphere.

GLWHeader3First up, Guys Lit Wire has an amazing initiative going on. They are running a Book Fair for BoysColleen Mondor first announced the event on Wednesday, saying: “We are moving today into the second phase of GLW, where we put our money where our mouth is and physically act on getting books into the hands of boys that otherwise have none. Today we start the first two week Guys Lit Wire Book Fair for Boys to help the teens incarcerated in the LA County Juvenile Justice System. They have no books - at all - and they need them; they need them desperately.” Essentially, the Guys Lit Wire team, together with the InsideOut Writers Program, put together a list of 125 books of interest to teen boys, and asked people to help by purchasing one or more titles. Word spread fast, and I’m delighted to report that within 48 hours, more than 100 books had already been purchased. (See a lovely post about Colleen’s joy here). Here are more details about the response to this event.

Of course the other ongoing event in the Kidlitosphere is the auction to benefit Bridget ZinnBridget is one of our own. She was recently diagnosed with stage four colon cancer. And although she is blessed with many things (a new husband, an agent for her YA novel, and many friends), she is not blessed with sufficient health insurance to weather this battle. So some of her friends from the Portland branch of the Kidlitosphere (especially Jone MacCulloch) decided to host an auction to help. It’s a blog auction, and you can bid by commenting. There are tons of amazing, one-of-a-kind prizes, far too many to list here. But I did want to draw special attention to Vivian’s post at HipWriterMama. Not only is Vivian donating a signed copy of the last Percy Jackson book, she is also having a contest for another copy, which you can enter by bidding in the auction. All I can say is, I feel privileged every day that I can be part of this community, I really do. The auction closes the morning of May 30th. You may be sure that I’ll be bidding on more items between now and then.

48hbcLooking forward to future Kidlitosphere events, MotherReader has posted a prize update and minor rules change for the upcoming 48 Hour Book Challenge. Pam also announced her plan to donate a dollar for every hour that she spends reading to the Bridget Zinn fund. See also MotherReader’s post about her participation in the 48 Hour Film Project, with a link to the resulting film, “Please Forward”.

Also, if you’re in the San Francisco area tomorrow (Saturday), do consider attending the launch party for Lynn Hazen’s new book: The Amazing Trail of Seymour Snail. I had hoped to attend myself, but we have out of town guests arriving during the event, and I’m not going to be able to swing it.

I don’t normally highlight individual Poetry Friday entries (Kelly Polark has this week’s roundup), but I really liked this original poem by Gregory K. at Gotta Book: A Perfect Game - A Baseball Poem. Also, Cari and Holly published this week’s Nonfiction Monday round-up at Book Scoops.

Updating on Saturday to add one more event: The Summer Blog Blast Tour starts Monday. You can find the whole schedule at Chasing Ray (and that post will be updated as direct links are available). The SBBT is a series of author interviews, carefully organized across a group of blogs to ensure diversity and avoid redundancy. The SBBT and corresponding Winter Blog Blast Tours are the brainchild of Colleen Mondor.

Moving on from events, Parker Peevyhouse has an interesting post at The Spectacle about the traits valued in girl vs. boy heroes in books. She says: “It seems to me that girl heroes tend to be valued for their smarts and their compassion, while boys are held up as daring (even reckless)–but it could just be that my presuppositions color my perspective. What do you think–are there general differences between boy and girl heroes?” Be sure to read the comments, too.

Solvang Sherrie has a thought-provoking post at Write About Now about the aspects of a book that make her fall “truly, madly, deeply” in love with the book. She says: “For me it comes down to characters. I want to care about the people I’m reading about. I want them to be like me, but better than me.” There’s some good discussion in the comments, too. I wrote about my thoughts on this issue in detail a while back in my 6 P’s of Book Appreciation.

At Literacy, families, and learning, Trevor Cairney has a new post in his key themes in children’s literature series: Problem Solving. He explains: “Many children love to solve problems. Children’s authors are smart enough to work this out and tap into this interest as one of many ways to engage children with books. There are many forms of problem solving that authors have used. In this post I’ll outline a few examples.”

2009-CBW-PosterAs part of Children’s Book Week, the Children’s Choice Book Awards were announced. Tasha Saecker has the winners at Kids Lit. In other Children’s Book Week news, see Lori Calabrese’s blog to find 10 activities for children’s book week. In other award news, at Fuse #8, Betsy Bird announced the number one entry in her Top 100 Picture Books poll: Where the Wild Things Are. No surprise, really, but still good to see. Here’s the complete top 100 list, all in one place, with links back to the more detailed posts.

And that’s alll for today. Happy weekend, all! I’ll be back Monday with the Children’s Literacy Round-Up.

© 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).

Thursday
Mar192009

Thursday Afternoon Visits: NCAA Tournament Edition

From Jen Robinson’s Book Page

Kidlitosphere_buttonI’m watching a bit of college basketball in the background, while catching up on Kidlitosphere news today. (You just have to listen for when the crowd gets loud to know when something exciting is going on.) Here are a few highlights from the children’s and young adult book blogosphere.

At The Miss Rumphius EffectTricia begs to differ with a Guardian article that says: “The larger-than-life, black-and-white morality of children’s books is a relief for adult readers tired of ambiguity.” I agree with Tricia that this is not a particularly nuanced representation of the moral complexity often found in children’s books. But I’d be happy to see more adults take time to check out children’s and young adult literature either way.

Tbd2009Little Willow has the official press release for the Readergirlz, Guys Lit Wire, YALSA 2009 Operation Teen Book Drop, a “reading stimulus plan for hospitalized teen patients… Teen patients in pediatric hospitals across the United States will receive 8,000 young-adult novels, audiobooks, and graphic novels.” In preparation for the April 16th event, the Readergirlz Divas are hosting a series of weekly contests. You can find more details here.  

Laini Taylor has the scoop on an upcoming Phoenix event called Project Book Babe, a fundraiser for bookseller Faith Hochhalter, who is going through chemotherapy right now for breast cancer. Laini also has news about her own expected and sure to be a book-lover baby.

ShareAStoryLogo-colorTerry Doherty has a wrap-up post for the Share a Story - Shape a Future literacy blog tour at The Reading Tub. Please join me in thanking Terry for this amazing event. Although the initial event is finished, Terry promises “Share a Story-Shape a Future will be back. For the near term, the blog will remain our bulletin board and archive. If/When we pull together the links and bloglists into a single spot, that’s where you’ll find it. When we’re ready to start thinking about themes and start planning our lineups, that’s where we’ll make the announcement.” [Image credit: Author/illustrator Elizabeth Dulemba created the Share a Story - Shape a Future logo.]

Speaking of raising kids who love books, Jenny from Read. Imagine. Talk shares a lovely anecdote in which her very young son, Ethan, demanded to go to the bookstore right away “because there was a new book out that he “really very needed to get right now.””  He was following her example, and gives us all a real-life demonstration of the way that modeling book-loving behavior rubs off on kids.

I’ve been enjoying Sarah Mulhern’s “Slice of Life” posts at The Reading Zone. Yesterday, she related some snippets of discussion from her 6th grade girls about the best literary boyfriends. Sarah concluded: ” I couldn’t help but smile- they weren’t arguing over boy bands, or movie stars, or athletes- it was literary characters. This language arts teacher couldn’t be prouder.” As she should be. Sarah also shares her accelerated reader frustration, and a more positive follow-up.

Tamara Fisher has a great post at Unwrapping the Gifted about using bibliotherapy with gifted kids. She explains: “Essentially, by having gifted students read literature and/or biographies featuring gifted children or adults, the students can gain insights into their own giftedness.” She also provides a list of sample questions to ask kids about their reading, and an extensive reading list.

Last OlympianDates are now available for Rick Riordan’s author tour for The Last Olympian. He’ll be here in the Bay Area on May 9th, just a few days after the official release date. Safe to say that these events will be very, very popular! Perhaps I’ll see some of you there.

Kate Coombs has a fun post about picture books with bite at Book Aunt. She says: “it is with some gusto that I give you a handful of books that aren’t sweet. In fact, they are tart and funny, and above all, toothy.”

Witch MountainI also enjoyed this post at Ink Splot 26, about the movie Race to Witch Mountain. I know that a lot of people think it was corny, but I love the 1975 Disney movie version ofEscape to Witch Mountain. I will have to have the new special edition DVD, even though my brother Steve, the king of gift-giving, already bought me the regular DVD. So I was pleased to learn from Nancy T’s interview with the stars of the new movie that the actors who played the original Tony and Tia will have cameos in the new movie. Fun stuff!

And finally, I wanted to say thank you to Travis from 100 Scope Notes, who recently included my blog in his “blogs that clog my reader (in a good way)” list. I’m in excellent company. And his is a blog I never miss, either.

© 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).