News

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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Sunday
Nov092008

Sunday Afternoon Visits: November 9

From Jen Robinson’s Book Page

I had a bit of trouble keeping up with the blogs this week. This was partly because I had a three-day business trip to Colorado Springs (though it is lovely there). But mostly it’s Pam Coughlan and Lee Wind’s fault. You see, they started this blogger comment challenge. The idea is to increase community within the Kidlitosphere, by encouraging participants to comment more on one another’s blogs. Pam says:

“Since it is said that it takes twenty-one days to form a new habit, we’re going to run the Comment Challenge for the next three weeks — from today, Thursday, November 6, through Wednesday, November 26, 2008. The goal is to comment on at least five kidlitosphere blogs a day. Keep track of your numbers, and report in on Wednesdays with me or Lee.”

I’ve been participating, and it’s been a lot of fun. And since I tend to jump in with both feet to things like this, I’m averaging more like 10+ comments a day. But stopping to click through and comment is wreaking havoc on my ability to skim through lots of blog posts, quickly, in my Google Reader. Ah well. It’s still fun. And not too late to join in, if you’re interested. Read more here. On to other news.

XmasSwap1Dewey just announced the second annual Book Bloggers’ Christmas Swap at The Hidden Side of a Leaf. It’s kind of a Secret Santa thing between bloggers. If you’d like to participate, check out the details at Dewey’s.

This week’s well-organized Poetry Friday round-up is at Check It Out, Jone MacCulloch’s blog.

The International Reading Association blog links to an article about the 10 coolest public libraries in the United States. Is your library on the list?

A Visitor for BearIt’s only November, but the “best of 2008” lists are already coming out. I guess this isn’t so premature when the people making the lists have access to advanced copies of books anyway. Becky from Becky’s Book Reviews shares and discusses Publisher’s Weekly’s Best of Children’s Fiction 2008. It seems like a pretty good list to me. Just about every book is one I’ve either read and recommended, or have on my radar to read. Amazon has also been coming out with “Best of” lists. I was especially happy to see, on OmnivoraciousBonny Becker’s A Visitor for Bear topping the list of Best Children’s Picture Books of 2008. It was certainly one of my favorites of the year.

Of potential interest to mystery fans, Kyle Minor has a guest essay at Sarah Weinman’s blog, Confessions of an Idiosyncratic Mind. It’s about whether or not mysteries count as literature. He says “If forced to trade, I’ll take one Dennis Lehane, one Richard Price, one George Pelecanos, one James M. Cain, one Big Jim Thompson or Raymond Chandler or Dashiell Hammett—any one of them, any day—over any ten “literary” writers.” I agree.

Rose’s Reading Round-Up at the First Book Blog links to a National Post article by Misty Harris about how teen books are being read by people of all ages. It’s a little bit condescending of a step backwards from what we who read YA all the time might think (“Like many addicts, Paige Ferrari hides her compulsion behind a carefully chosen facade. The 26-year-old has been known to wrap teen novels - her guiltiest literary indulgence - inside an issue of The Economist while reading in public.”), but I’ve seen much worse. (ETA per comments below: And I do get that it probably is news for the mainstream public that adults are reading YA.) I did like this quote: “most of the adults who are reading these books likely already have them in their homes. They’re reading what their kids are reading.”

At Lessons from the Tortoise, Libby asks readers for help in differentiating young adult literature from children’s literature and from adult literature. Both MotherReader and I commented that we thought that the age of the protagonist had a lot to do with it. Pam also remarked on the wide age range of YA books today. Libby wrote a followup post with some other input from her students, but she’s still struggling a bit with a formal distinction between YA and adult fiction (beyond “I know it when I see it). Feel free to head on over there and share, if you have input on this.

In related news, The Brown Bookshelf lauds the recent decision by independent bookstore Politics and Prose to configure a separate section of the store for books for older teens. The author (I’m not sure whose post it is) says: “Yay!!!!!! Whenever anyone focuses on teen readers and thus YA literature, I feel like I’ve won a lottery…except without that whole winning a lot of money thing.” I feel the same way (except for me it’s books for kids of all ages).

November is National Adoption MonthTerry Doherty offers up some resources and personal experience at the Reading Tub’s blog. Don’t miss the comments, either. At the ESSL Children’s Literature Blog, Nancy O’Brien suggests books about adoption, categorized by age range.

Julia's KitchenBrenda Ferber has a lovely post about the inspiration for her book, Julia’s Kitchen, and the way that online connectedness helped her to get in contact with one of the boys whose story inspired her.

At the PBS Media Fusion blog, Gina Montefusco has a detailed article about the ways that the new PBS KIDS Island will help to promote early reading skills. Gina, who was instrumental in the development of PBS KIDS Island, says “reading doesn’t – and shouldn’t – have to be an intimidating process that turns off all but the most gifted students. With online games, kids are introduced to new skills in a light-hearted, silly way, allowing them to learn at their own speed and stay engaged. Everything from the alphabet to phonemes can be fun. Really. We promise.” I look forward to working more with Gina in the near future.

Trevor Cairney continues his series on key themes in children’s books at Literacy, Families, and Learning, discussing the theme of “being different.” He notes that “the struggle the be different is a common theme in children’s books from early picture books right through to adolescent novels”, and discusses how books can help “parents and teachers to sensitively and naturally raise some of these issues.”

Book Scoops is a new blog run by two grown-up sisters, Cari and Holly, who love books. Their about page says: “Our blog focuses on children and adolescent literature (even though we do read a broad range of books) because we are still young at heart.” You can see why I added them to my reading list. I especially enjoyed this recent post: Ode to Reading Grandparents. Cari explains: “Part of why we love reading so much also has to do with our grandparents reading to our parents and taking them to the library. So we thought we’d give a thank you to our grandparents (who also let us eat lots of ice-cream).”

CybilsLogoSmallReviews of Cybils nominees are starting to crop up all around the Kidlitosphere. There are far too many to link to here, but one post that especially stood out for me was this one at Readerbuzz, featuring short reviews of a plethora of nonfiction nominees.

The ALSC blog has a nice post by Ann Crewdson about how “our fondest wish is for our patrons to read together, aloud and often with their children. And don’t forget to suggest that they point out words when they read, put on a play with puppets, and sing the ABC. Here are some tried and true companion books you can recommend without going wrong.” There are recommendations by age range.

And finally, if you haven’t had your fill yet of children’s book information, today’s New York Times Book Review has a children’s books special issue. I especially liked John Green’s article about two of my favorite dystopian novels from this year: The Dead and the Gone by Susan Beth Pfeffer and The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins.

That’s all for today. Happy blog-reading. And don’t forget to comment as you’re out and about on the blogs. As Mary Lee pointed out, “The world gets changed by doing something small over and over again.” Like telling someone that you paid attention to what they had to say.

© 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).

Wednesday
Oct292008

Wednesday Afternoon Visits: October 29

From Jen Robinson’s Book Page

I was away this weekend, attending a lovely wedding down in Los Angeles, and I’m still catching back up (I think it’s a sign of being over-committed when taking a couple of days away from the computer completely throws things completely out of kilter). But there has been plenty going on around the Kidlitosphere.

Jill posted the October Carnival of Children’s Literature at The Well-Read Child, suggesting that readers “grab a cup of hot apple cider, a warm blanket, and join me in a look at some great snuggle-worthy children’s literature from around the blogosphere.” She has tons of well-organized and interesting posts for your reading pleasure.

Charlotte from Charlotte’s Library just announced a lovely tribute that she’s organizing in honor of Amanda Snow’s son Jacob, who died much, much too young. The talented Katie Davis has designed a downloadable bookplate. If you would like to honor Jacob’s life, you can download the bookplate here, print out copies, and put them in books that you donate. Amanda suggests in particular that people donate books to Ronald McDonald House. As Charlotte explains “the children’s book blogging community has come together to give books away to places where they will bring happiness to other children and their parents.” But anyone is welcome to participate. You can find more details here. I’m planning to take some books up to the Ronald McDonald House in Palo Alto.

Terry Doherty has a comprehensive October 27th reading round-up at the Reading Tub’s blog, filled with children’s literacy and reading news. I found this tidbit especially interesting: “The National Literacy trust just issued Literacy Changes Lives: An Advocacy Resource, a report about the relationship between a child’s literacy ability and their success later in life.” I haven’t had a chance to read it yet, but Terry promises “Lots of great snippets to reinforce the need to read.” I also really liked this: “Randy Astle, who is not associated with PBS Kids, wrote a very detailed post about how PBS Kids is raising readers.” It’s a great post.

BlogTheVote-SmallLots of bloggers from around the Kidlitosphere are banding together to encourage readers to vote next week. Even the organization is a group effort. Lee Wind and Gregory K both have the scoop. The master list of participants will be maintained by Colleen Mondor at Chasing RaySarah Stevenson developed the neat graphic. Personally, I voted late last week (I’m a permanent vote by mail person in California). I don’t like to talk politics on my blog, but I will say that I wanted to get my vote in before heading out to the lovely wedding that I mentioned, the wedding of two dear friends who both happen to be male. I would not have missed it for anything.

5 Minutes for Books recently had their Kids’ Picks Carnival for October. Seventeen participants chimed in with posts about what books their kids have enjoyed. I love this idea by site editor Jennifer Donovan, and enjoy checking out the posts each month.

In author news, Cynthia Lord shares some tips for librarians about “Including and Serving Patrons with Autism and Asperger’s Syndrome at Your Library.” There’s also a nice interview with Rick Riordan in Texas Monthly. And via Bookshelves of Doom, I learned that Holly Black has the coolest hidden library ever. Yes, the door is a bookshelf. Someday…

On a non-book-related note, I enjoyed this post by Robin from The Disco Mermaids about finding your special “spot”, someplace outdoors where you can go and think and clear your head. I have had spots like that in my life, though I don’t have one now that’s near to where I live. But what I LOVED about the post are Robin’s pictures of her son enjoying nature. There’s one of him skipping down a path in the woods that is positively magical. Seriously, if you could use a little pick-me-up, just click through to the post, and scroll down.

And last, but definitely not least, Deanna H, on a new blog called Once Upon A Time, writes about reasons for adults to read children’s literature. She dug up quotes from David Almond and Jonathan Stroud about the power of the narrative in children’s books - and I do think this is a big part of why I’ve always enjoyed kids’ books so much.

That’s all for today - I expect to be back with more news and reviews over the weekend.

© 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).

Friday
Oct032008

Friday Night Visits: October 3

From Jen Robinson’s Book Page

CybilslogosmallIt’s been a tough week for me to keep up with the blogs, between the Cybils and the start of the baseball playoffs (how ‘bout those Red Sox!!). And I never really caught up after being away at the Kidlitosphere conference last weekend. Which means that I have many pieces of news to share with you.

But first, a mildly funny word thing. Earlier I tried to email someone about something “boggling the mind”, but my fingers really wanted to type “bloggling” instead. Shouldn’t& bloggled be a new word? As in, to be overwhelmed by the sheer volume of blog posts in one’s Google Reader. I am bloggled!

IheartyourblogOK, back to the blog news. First up, my thanks to Kristine from Bestbooksihavenotread and Bill and Karen from Literate Lives, both of whom were kind enough to give me the “I (heart) your blog” award. I also got kind of an honorable mention from Esme Raji Codell. I already passed this one along last week (though I neglected to go around and comment, so some people might have missed it), so I’m just going to say THANK YOU! These awards have come at a particularly nice time, when I’ve been struggling to keep up, and I especially appreciated a bit of validation.

Newlogorg200There’s a new issue up at Readergirlz. “In celebration of YALSA’s Teen Read Week™ Books with Bite, readergirlz is excited to present Night Bites, a series of online live chats with an epic lineup of published authors! The five themed chats will take place at the rgz MySpace group forum, October 13-17, 2008, 6:00 pm PST/9:00 pm EST.” This month, Readergirlz will also be featuring Rachel Cohn, co-author (with David Levithan) of Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist. This choice is quite timely. Not only is there a recently released motion picture based on Nick and Norah, but the book also won the first-ever Cybils award for Young Adult Fiction in 2006. You can find more details about this month’s Readergirlz activities at Bildungsroman.

Speaking of Readergirlz, Diva Lorie Ann Grover was featured this week on GalleyCat. She spoke of the passion for reading that she sees within the Readergirlz community. GuysLitWire, focused on teen boys and reading, also got a positive mention. The GalleyCat piece even inspired a followup at the Christian Science Monitor’s Chapter & Verse blog. Thanks to Mitali Perkins for the links. 

Also in time for Teen Read Week, Sheila Ruth shares a couple of very detailed lists of Books with Bite at Wands and Worlds. The lists are based on input from teen members of the Wands and Worlds community. One list is focused on animals, the other is focused on “creepy creatures”. Sheila has generously prepared pdf, text, and widget forms of the lists, so that other people can use them.

Jill will be hosting the October Carnival of Children’s Literature at The Well-Read Child. Jill says: “In my part of the world, we’re finally starting to experience the cool, crisp air of Fall - the kind of weather that makes me want to snuggle up with a good book and read all day. So, this month’s theme is “Snuggle Up With a Good Children’s Book.” Submit your posts here by Friday, the 24th, and I’ll post the Carnival on the 26th. Happy reading and snuggling!”

Jenmheir_4I never got my post up about the Kidlitosphere conference last weekend. Honestly, so many people have written about the conference, that I’m not sure that I’d have anything useful to add. But I did want to share a photo that Laini Taylor took late on Saturday night. I was wiped out from the conference, and Mheir (who kindly accompanied me on the trip) had tired himself out hiking to Multnomah Falls, and we were just beat. Here are a couple of posts about the conference that I particularly enjoyed, by Mark BlevisLee WindGreg Pincus, and Laini Taylor (who had great photos). Also not to be missed are Sarah Stevenson’s live-action sketches from the conference.

Speaking of conferences, Sara Lewis Holmes recaps that National Book Festival. She made me want to attend, one of these years (perhaps next year, when the Kidlitosphere Conference will be held in Washington, DC…).

There’s been quite a lot of discussion on the blogs this week about a piece that Anita Silvey wrote for the October issue of School Library Journal. The article is called “Has the Newbery Lost Its Way?” In light of some critical comments about the Newbery Award, Silvey asks “Are children, librarians, and other book lovers still rushing to read the latest Newbery winners? Or has the most prestigious award in children’s literature lost some of its luster?” She interviewed more than 100 people, and shares statements like “School librarians say they simply don’t have enough money to spend on books that kids won’t find interesting—and in their opinion, that category includes most of this century’s Newbery winners.” Of course, as has been pointed out on many blogs, popularity isn’t a criterion for the Newbery in the first place. I particularly enjoyed Carlie Webber’s post about the article.

Speaking of the Newbery Awards, blogger WendyB recently decided to read all of the Newbery winners that she hadn’t read already. She then prepared a detailed three-part post about her experience. I thought that the most interesting was part 2, in which Wendy shares some statistics about the winners, like the stat that “59%, of the Newbery winners are either historical fiction or plain historical” and three books are about “orphaned or semi-orphaned boys traveling through medieval England and meeting colorful characters typical of the period.” Fun stuff!

Lisa Chellman has a useful post about ways to offer “better library service to GLBTQ youth”. She recaps a conference session “presented by the knowledgeable and dynamic Monica Harris of Oak Park Public Library”, and includes suggestions from the session attendees, too. For example: “Don’t assume that because books aren’t circulating heavily they’re not being used. Books on sensitive topics often see a lot of covert in-library use, even if patrons aren’t comfortable checking them out to take home.”

Colleen Mondor and Lee Wind are organizing a non-partisan effort to encourage people to vote. “The plan is to run a One Shot event on Monday, November 3rd where all participants blog about why they personally think voting matters this year. You can write a post that touches on historical issues or policies of significance today. Anything you want to write about that expresses the idea that voting matters is fair game. The only hard and fast rule - and this is very hard and fast - is that you do not get to bash any of the four candidates for president and vice president.”

TitlesupersistersPBS Parents recently launched a parenting blog called Supersisters, “Three real-life sisters sharing their kids’ antics, milestones and adventures through this crazy journey called motherhood”. Supersister Jen had a post recently that I enjoyed called “seven sensational things to do when you’re not feeling so super”. My personal favorite was “Create your own personal chocolate stash and stock it.” 

Shannon Hale has another installment in her fascinating How To Be A Reader series, this one about morals in stories. Her main question is “Is an author responsible for the morals a reader, especially a young reader, takes from her book? I can say, I never write toward a moral. But then again, some writers do.” She also asks (about morals in books): “Is the book powerful in and of itself, the carrier of a message that can change a reader’s life? Or is it just a story, and the reader is powerful by deciding if and how the book might change her life.” Ultimately, as a writer, Shannon comes down on the side of telling the story.

I’m not a big fan of memes (which are basically the blog equivalent of chain letters). However, I can get on board with this one from Wendy at Blog from the Windowsill. It includes this final step: “Carry the secret of this meme to your grave”. So, that’s all I can say about it, but it’s my favorite meme so far since I started blogging. So go and check it out.

Poster2007And finally, this past week was Banned Book WeekThe ALA website says: “Banned Books Week: Celebrating the Freedom to Read is observed during the last week of September each year. Observed since 1982, this annual ALA event reminds Americans not to take this precious democratic freedom for granted. This year, 2008, marks BBW’s 27th anniversary (September 27 through October 4). BBW celebrates the freedom to choose or the freedom to express one’s opinion even if that opinion might be considered unorthodox or unpopular and stresses the importance of ensuring the availability of those unorthodox or unpopular viewpoints to all who wish to read them. After all, intellectual freedom can exist only where these two essential conditions are met.” I did not, alas, read any banned books this week, but I’ve appreciated the people who did. The poster to the left is from last year, but I like it.

And that is quite enough catching up for one evening. I’ll be back with literacy and reading news over the weekend.

© 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
Sep152008

Pirates, Cybils, and BBAW Ahoy

From Jen Robinson’s Book Page

I did a couple of pretty comprehensive Sunday Visits and Literacy Round-Up posts yesterday. But a few things came up today that I simply must mention:

  • CybilslogosmallThe 2008 Cybils panelists will be announced over the next couple of weeks, starting tomorrow. Stay tuned! And isn’t the new logo pretty?
  • Becky from Becky’s Book Reviews reminds readers about her Google reading groupReading with Becky. There are 20 or so members, and the group is currently reading The Count of Monte Cristo.
  • Bookbloggerbutton2Book Blogger Appreciation Week has officially started at My Friend Amy. In the first daily raffle (today) you can win books and chocolate. Comment on this linked post for an extra raffle entry. And in general, stay tuned at My Friend Amy. There’s a ton of interesting stuff going on. Amy is encouraging people to highlight, on their own blogs, the blogs that they love that weren’t short-listed for awards. I’ll say (again), check out my Sunday Visits posts. All of the blogs that I mention deserve to be noticed.
  • Terry has another great installment of her Reading Round-Up at The Reading Tub’s blog. Of particular note: “Tonight on PBS Judy Woodruff hosts Where We Stand: America’s Schools in the 21st Century. The show airs at 10:00 PM.” Reading Today Daily has a link to the trailer.
  • Librarina reports that September 19th is International Talk Like a Pirate Day. I can’t say that I do a lot to celebrate this day, but I’m glad that it exists. The website is quite fun, too.
  • The Readergirlz reported on their MySpace page that Libba Bray has had to postpone being their featured author for October (she was called away to a book tour in Germany and Italy - the author’s life is rough sometimes). But they have an amazing replacement in Rachel Cohn. As Readergirlz Diva Lorie Ann Grover said: “The very month her and David Levithan’s bookNick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist launches onto the big screen, she’s going to be talking with you each at the group forum. WOOT!”

Hope that everyone has a great week! I’ll be back tomorrow with more Cybils news.

© 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).