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Entries in Summer Reading (10)

Friday
Jul312009

Friday Visits: July 31

From Jen Robinson’s Book Page

The Kidlitosphere continues to be full of interesting posts this week, some weighty, some just fun (with most of the lighter stuff towards the end of the post, as seems fitting for a Friday).

BWI_125sqAlong with some 500+ others to date, both Tasha from Kids Lit and Amy from My Friend Amy have signed a pledge to blog with integrity. The idea is to “assert that the trust of … readers and the blogging community is important”, and publicly declare a set of standards. Tasha explains: “The integrity badge is a shorthand to openly declare what my blogging ethics are… I see it as a tangible expression of my blogging beliefs. It says what I already do and already believe in. It is not going to change my blogging.” Amy says: “Why sign the pledge? Because I believe in proactive measures rather than reactive measures when possible. This issue won’t go away and this is a clear and public statement that when I accept review copies, I will let you know and I’ll still give you honest feedback.” I’m following with interest (though I managed to miss the Twitter discussion).

Kidlitosphere_buttonAnd speaking of bloggers and integrity, Pam Coughlan has a post at MotherReader about BlogHer09 vs. KidLitCon (I don’t remember who came up with KidLitCon - Laurel Snyder, maybe - but it’s sure less of a mouthful than “The Third Annual Kidlitosphere Conference”). Here’s a snippet: “What’s going on in the mommy blog community concerns me, not because it’s a direct correlation but because it’s a warning.” Bloggers should read the whole post (and think about attending KitLitCon, of course).

Kate Coombs also takes on blogger integrity questions as part of a post at Book Aunt. Though she starts with a light-hearted blogger vs. professional reviewer smackdown, she continues with a balanced look at some of the criticisms being leveled at blog reviewers today.

At the Picnic BasketDeborah Sloan shares some book reviewing tips from Shelf Awareness’ Jennifer Brown. Thanks to Susan Thomsen from Chicken Spaghetti for the link.

Discussion continues in response to the Liar book cover issue (which I talked about last week). There are hundreds of comments and posts out there, far too many to link to. People have, however, moved on this week from venting to suggesting and/or committing to positive courses of action to support diversity in their reading (diversity of race, gender, sexuality, etc.). Here are a few examples:

Kristine from Best Book I Have Not Read has a request for donations to the Make A Wish Foundation, in support of a young friend of hers, fighting cancer, whose wish is to meet author Brian Jacques.

At Just One More Book!Andrea and Mark interview Horrid Henry author Francesca Simon. In the course of the interview, they talk about “books with universal themes, the penalty of growing old enough to read by yourself and Storybook Dads — breaking the cycle of crime through a literacy and family connection program for convicts in a high-security prison”.

Casey from Bookworm 4 Life shares books that she thinks “might be contenders for modern/current teen classics”. She has some of my favorites on her list, and I suspect that the ones that I haven’t read are all worthy of my attention. Do check it out!

Susan Beth Pfeffer is looking for suggestions for a name for her Life As We Knew It and dead and the gone trilogy. It kind of grew into a trilogy - she thought that LAWKI was a standalone book when she wrote it, so there’s no cool, over-arching name. Leave suggestions in the comments here.

At The Book WhispererDonalyn Miller asks readers to share memories of their own reading origin stories. She asks: “How did your reading life begin? How does your reading past impact you now as a teacher or parent? What books stick with you now, years later? Who influenced your reading life?” The results (in the comments) make for a lovely ode to reading.

DogdaysMoving on to the stuff that’s pure fun, I’m loving the idea of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid ice cream truck tour to promote literacy and celebrate the title announcement for Book 4. I first heard about this on Omnivoracious, but then saw a detailed schedule in School Library Journal’s Extra Helping.

In other ice cream news, Cheryl Rainfield reports that there’s a petition for Ben and Jerry’s to come up with a library-themed ice cream flavor. Cheryl suggests “Anne of Green Gables ice cream, with raspberry and lime swirls.”

There’s a meme going around by which people design their own debut young adult novel covers. I don’t quite understand it, but quite a few people have participated, and some of the results are quite eye-catching and/or humorous. Travis, who I believe started this whole thing, has a round-up at 100 Scope Notes.

And this just in, via A Fuse #8 ProductionJill Davis snapped a picture of the ultimate expression of summer reading: a girl in a park reading while hula hooping. I love it! Betsy Bird called this “the Holy Grail of summer reading spottage.” Jill’s got some nice summer book recommendations in the post, too. Betsy also shares a press release about a call for photos of literary tattoos. And that, my friends, is why you should never miss your daily dose of Fuse #8.  

Last but not least, this week’s Poetry Friday roundup is available at Poetry for Children. Wishing you all a book-filled, fun-filled 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
Jul052009

Sunday Afternoon Visits: July 5

From Jen Robinson’s Book Page

Kidlitosphere_buttonHope that you’ve been enjoying the July 4th weekend (for those in the US).The blogs have been pretty quiet this weekend. However, quite a few posts from around the Kidlitosphere have caught my eye over the past week or so. First up is Tanita Davis‘ public service announcement at Finding Wonderland about Kidlitosphere Central and the upcoming 3rd annual Kidlitosphere Conference. In other news:

Newlogorg200The Readergirlz will be celebrating Cecil Castellucci’s graphic novel The Plain Janes in July. They urge: “Join us all month right here on the blog for discussions and mark your calendars a LIVE chat with Cecil and Jim on Wednesday, July 22nd at 6pm PST/9pm EST.”

Yankee Doodle GalSpeaking of gutsy women, President Obama just signed a bill to recognize female pilots who flew during World War II. The New York Times Caucus blog says: “During World War II, more than 1,000 female pilots became the first women to ever take the controls of American military planes. Now, more than six decades later, members of the Women Airforce Service Pilots will receive the Congressional Gold Medal, one of America’s highest civilian honors.” There’s also an NPR story about it. I found out about this from Amy Nathan, who wrote a children’s book called Yankee Doodle Gals about the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASPS) that’s been getting some attention in light of the recent bill, and was on hand during the recent signing. I haven’t read Yankee Doodle Gals, but it might be something that the Readergirlz postergirlz would be interested in, don’t you think? Perhaps to pair with Mare’s War?

Steampunk in young adult fiction also seems to be getting some play in the Kidlitosphere this week. Becky Levine wrote about this last week, quoting a definition by Jeff VanderMeer: “”Mad scientist inventor + [invention (steam x airship or metal man divided by baroque stylings) x (pseudo) Victorian setting] + progressive or reactionary politics x adventure plot = steampunk.”“. Becky also shared a lovely picture of her local bookmobile. Maureen Kearney also picked up on a recent piece about YA steampunk at Confessions of a Bibliovore, and suggests some omissions from a recent i09 story. Maureen also has a great snippet from a recent interview with new UK children’s laureate Anthony Browne about not living pictures behind in appreciating books.

IMGP3383Natasha Maw at Maw Books shared a post asking: why do I own books when I rarely reread? She concludes: “I’ve decided that the reason that I like to keep the books that I’ve read and enjoyed, even though it’s unlikely that I’ll read them again, is because I just like to look at them. I mean, is nothing better then perusing your own shelf and remembering a particular story or characters? I like to reminisce. Plus, this is what people see when they walk into my home”. There are a whole slew of comments - so many that I chose not to comment there. Personally, I do reread books sometimes, but I also keep some books just because they are my friends, and I can’t possibly part with them. That’s one of my bookshelves, to the left.

Another interesting discussion can be found in the comments on a post at Laurel Snyder’s blog about epic vs. episodic fantasy. The post was inspired by a post from Charlotte’s Library, where Charlotte was seeking Edward Eager read-alikes, and mentioned their episodic nature. I’m more of an epic than episodic fan myself at this point, but many of my episodic childhood favorites are mentioned in the comments of Laurel’s post.

Parker Peevyhouse has a post at The Spectacle about “how to get rid of the parents” in children’s literature. She asks: “How is a young reader affected by reading a story in which all of the adults are missing, incompetent, or antagonistic?  It’s a question that’s been brought up before, but the answer still eludes me.”

The BookKids blog (from BookPeople) has a four-part series by Emily Kristin Anderson: “Fab YA Authors on their Favorite Queer-Themed Books”. Here’s part 4. You can find the other links here.

At A Fuse #8 Production, Betsy Bird shares her thoughts on 10-year-olds reading Twilight. She says: “If you are a parent, I fear you are merely delaying the inevitable. Your child, if forbidden Twilight, will desire it all the more. There’s nothing saying you can’t suggest other books as well, though.” And she includes some suggestions.

NonfictionmondayTerry Doherty is ready early with this week’s Nonfiction Monday round-up post at The Reading Tub. Contributors can use Mister Linky to enter their nonfiction posts tomorrow. 

Donalyn Miller (The Book Whisperer) calls upon people to celebrate their reading freedom. She says: “On this Independence Day, I am grateful for my freedom to read what I want. My fundamental right to write or read any book, blog, news article, or Twitter feed—no matter how controversial, thoughtful, or ridiculous—is not commonplace for all citizens around the world. When we choose our own reading material and encourage children to do the same—we exercise our rights as Americans. Celebrate your reading freedom today!” She also shares her recent reading list - she’s trying for a book a day this summer.

Speaking of The Book Whisper, Sarah Mulhern from The Reading Zone shares her experience in implementing a survey recommended by Donalyn in her book. She asked her students which factors from their classroom helped them the most in their development as readers. The result is a list of seven non-negotiables, in order of importance. I think that all teachers looking to inspire a love of reading in their students should check out the results from Sarah’s classroom. You might be surprised!

BooklightsI’ll also be sharing links to a bunch of posts written in defense of fun summer reading at Booklights first thing tomorrow morning. Other recent posts at Booklights have included a post in defense of comic strips by Susan Kusel, and some recommended beach-themed books suggested by Pam Coughlan. Happy reading!

© 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
Jun252009

Thursday Afternoon Visits: June 25

From Jen Robinson’s Book Page

Kidlitosphere_buttonHere are a few things from around the Kidlitosphere that caught my eye this week.

BooklightsWe have a new regular blogger over at BooklightsAnn will be posting once a month, offering “an end-of-the-month summary, reaction, and (sharing of) the ideas” that Pam, Susan, and I have raised. You can find Ann’s first post here. She has her top 10 picture books list, and responses to some of the ongoing discussion at Booklights about social reading, summer reading, and the importance of picture books. It’s an honor to have her participation!

Also at Booklights this week: Susan has an informative post about how to find information on series books and sequels, while Pam highlights three extra-cute picture books. And speaking of cute picture books (though not at Booklights, Abby (the) Librarian shares titles from a chicken storytime.

Elaine Magliaro shares Book Lists for Summer Reading 2009 at Wild Rose Reader. In addition to links to various book lists, she also links to two articles from Reading Rockets about getting the most out of summer reading. And for some summer reading suggestions directly from sixth graders, check out “You HAVE to Read This” from Sarah Mulhern’s students at the Reading Zone. “Each student chose one book that they feel all 6th graders must read.” One thing that I love about the list is the range of reading levels of the books included.

Brbc+buttonBook Dads hosts the 20th Edition of the Book Review Blog Carnival (and the first time I’ve run across this carnival, I think). There are quite a few reviews in honor of Father’s Day.

Colleen Mondor has a new installment of her fabulous What a Girl Wants series. This week, she talks with a variety of authors about the allure of the “girl detective” in literature. She asks: “does the girl detective genre matter to teen readers today? Do we need her around and if so, what does she bring to the table? Are we missing out on a chance of future female justices by not having mysteries with teen girl protagonists? In a nutshell, should we care at all about the girl detective?” In addition to the contributions by various authors in the body of the post, there’s a great discussion in the comments, too.

Colleen also links to a post that I neglected to mention before from TheHappyNappyBookseller, about the treatment of an African-American character in the final Percy Jackson book. Doret says: “this final book left a bad taste in my mouth”, and explains why. Jennie from Biblio File expands on the topic of race in the Percy Jackson books with a complaint about the narrator’s treatment of Asian-American characters in the audiobooks.  

CybilsLogoSmallAt the Cybils blog, Sarah Stevenson links to several upcoming and recently released titles written by Cybils panelists. She includes two titles that I recently reviewed (Mare’s War by Tanita Davis and Silksinger by Laini Taylor). Click through to see the others.

At Charlotte’s Library, Charlotte shares a list of fantasy titles compiled for a nine-year-old girl who likes “a bit of scary stuff”. This post is part one of the list, featuring older titles that Charlotte loved at that age. A followup post with more current titles will be forthcoming. There are a bunch of other suggestions from the 1970’s in the comments.

MotherReader shares some suggestions for preventing, and recovering from, the current round of blog angst flu. Here’s a snippet: “Look to the things that make you feel good, or at least feel better. Tap into strong relationships. Find things that make you smile. A sense of humor can be a saving grace. A well-developed sense of irony is better than a good night’s sleep.” She is very wise, that MotherReader.

LemonadestandawardLast, but not least, I received two lovely blog awards this week. First Tif from Tif Talks Books gave me a Lemonade Award, for “blogs that show great attitude or gratitude.” I certainly am grateful to be a member of the Kidlitosphere, so this award means a lot. Thanks, Tif! Susan Stephenson, who was also on Tif’s list, named me a June 2009 Book Chook Hero, with Terry Doherty, for our efforts in putting together the weekly children’s literacy round-ups. We do spend quite a lot of time on those, and it’s extra-nice to have that recognized. A great week all around! Susan also has a lovely post about books and food (reading and eating at the same time) at the Book Chook.

And now, my reader is nearly free of starred items (with the exception of a couple of reviews that I’m saving). It’s time to set aside the computer in favor of dinner. Happy reading, all!

© 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
May072009

Thursday Afternoon Visits: May 7

From Jen Robinson’s Book Page

A few interesting things have crossed my reader this week from around the Kidlitosphere.

Babe RuthFirst up, I won a prize at Get in the Game—Read. I hardly ever enter contests for books because, you know, I feel guilty enough about the books that I already have that I’m not reading. But this one, I couldn’t resist. Lori Calabrese was giving away a signed copy of David A. Kelly’s Babe Ruth and the Baseball Curse. Here’s a snippet from the product description: “Then, in 2004, along came a scruffy, scrappy Red Sox team. Could they break Babe Ruth’s curse and win it all?” What can I say? I’m a woman of limited interests. (If it wasn’t for books, chocolate, the Pride and Prejudice miniseries, and the Red Sox, I’d be hard pressed to ever come up with Facebook status updates.)

Diary of a Wimpy Kid author Jeff Kinney was named to the Time 100 this year. Travis has the details at 100 Scope Notes. I love seeing a children’s book author recognized for his positive impact on kids. Also available at 100 Scope Notes this week, photographic proof of Where the Sidewalk Ends. I knew it had to be somewhere.

2009-CBW-PosterChildren’s Book Week will be observed May 11-17. Elaine Magliaro has tons of great links at Wild Rose Reader. Elaine also has a comprehensive round-up of National Poetry Month links from around the Kidlitosphere. I don’t know where she finds the time, I really don’t!

For anyone looking for summer reading recommendations for kids, do check out Claire’s summer reading list at The Horn Book website. There are some great titles, all nicely organized by age range. Link via Read Roger.

I learned via Omnivoracious that one of my favorite 2009 titles is already on the way to becoming a movie. “Film rights have for Carrie Ryan’s YA novel The Forest of Hands and Teeth have been snapped up by Seven Star Pictures. Publishers Weekly is reporting that “the project [is] for an-as-yet-unnamed A-list starlet.”” Now that has the potential to be a great movie!

Catching FireAnd speaking of my favorite dystopian YA novels, kudos to Lois Lowry for selecting Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games as the winner of SLJ’s Battle of the (Kids’) Books. For responses, see Liz B.’s take at A Chair, A Fireplace and A Tea Cozy or Maureen Kearney’s at Confessions of a Bibliovore. Color me envious of all those attending BEA, who may be able too score advance copies of the Hunger Games sequel, Catching Fire. (I’m also envying Sarah Miller, who seems to have herself a copy of Kristin Cashore’s Graceling prequel, Fire. One would think that I didn’t have hundreds of other books to choose from already. And don’t you think that Carrie Ryan’s next book should be called Unconsecrated Fire?).

Speaking of Kristin Cashore, she has an interesting post about intertextuality (when later books are influenced by earlier books, and then re-readings of the earlier books are influenced by your experience reading the later books).

Colleen Mondor comments on a trend that she’s noticed, of having 12-year-old protagonists in books published for adults. She says: “I”m not saying that adults can’t enjoy a book with a child protagonist - we all know and love Tom Sawyer and Scout and all those other classics that have stood the test of time and that’s great. But this whole teen trend thing that seemed such a big deal with Special Topics in Calamity Physics is starting to look like vamp novels look in YA. In other words these preternaturally smart children are starting to crop up everywhere and I wish I knew why.”

And last but not least, don’t miss MotherReader’s latest post at Booklights, about her favorite funny chapter books.

© 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
Jul202008

Sunday Afternoon Visits: July 20

From Jen Robinson’s Book Page

BrillanteI spent a lot of time thinking this week about the time that I spend on my blog, and ways to somehow regain a bit of balance in my life. One thing that’s clear is that these Sunday visits posts, much as I enjoy them, are very time-consuming. It’s not just the time to write the post — it’s the 1000+ posts a week that I have to skim through to find the few that I mention here (which does not mean that it’s hard to decide — the right posts actually jump off the page for me — but I still have to find them). This afternoon I could have finished my review of No Cream Puffs and probably finished reading The Diamond of Darkhold, but instead I read and linked to blog posts. And yet, as with everything else, I love knowing what’s going on in the Kidlitosphere, and being part of all of the great discussions that people are having. Still, I may need to scale my blogroll back a bit… Anyway, this week there is plenty to share with you. And I think that I’ll take next weekend off.

  • This morning I was honored to learn that Andrea and Mark from Just One More Book! had awarded me a Brillante Weblog Premio - 2008 award. I’m in excellent company, too, with the other six recipients. Just One More Book! is one of my short-list blogs, because I find Andrea and Mark philosophically in tune with what I believe about children’s books and reading. It’s great to know that they feel the same way.
  • Librarian Mom Els Kushner takes on a particular result from a recent Scholastic survey (the 2008 Kids and Family Reading Report): “89% of kids say their favorite books are the ones they picked out themselves.” She adds “now many of the people reading this already believe in the importance of free book choice for kids. And of course—as is also documented in the Scholastic report—parents can help their children find and choose good and enjoyable books. But it’s just been something that’s struck me over and over, how important it is for kids to find their own reading paths.”
  • Carlie Webber (Librarilly Blonde) links to and discusses a disturbing post from the parenting blog Babble. The blog entry in question is Where Oh Where is Superfudge by Rachel Shukert. And the gist of Shukert’s post is that “Kids’ books aren’t what they used to be”. She recaps several thirty-year-old books about “average kids with real-world problems” and suggests that “the Young Adult section has become … downright aristocratic.” The author’s confusion over the difference between middle grade and YA aside, the sad thing is that Shukert, who clearly wants kids to read diverse and relevant books, has NO IDEA that hundreds of such books exist, and are being published today (in some cases, as one commenter noted, by the same authors for whom Shukert waxes nostalgic - they are writing NEW books). Anyway, do check out both Carlie’s post and the original article and the comments therein. See also Liz B’s post on this subject at Tea Cozy, in which she asks readers to help compile a “List of YA/middle grade books, written in the past few years, that do not have Rich Kids as the main character”. There’s quite an impressive diversity of literature listed in the comments.
  • Speaking of class in young adult literatureTadMack takes on the subject at Finding Wonderland. She was inspired both by Carlie’s post above and by some remarks at Read Roger, saying “I just feel strongly that name-dropping and normalizing affluence in YA literature creates the wrong idea about young adult literature as a genre and gets far more attention somehow than novels pertaining to lives more ordinary.”
  • And speaking of rants on topics like class in YA literature, Colleen Mondor reminds us “starting Monday I declare the entire children/YA portion of the litblogosphere to enjoy a week of posting loud and long about those things that have been driving them crazy in the publishing world.” She lists a few hot-button issues that have recently arisen. Lots of people — too many to link — have already written about a recent Margo Rabb article about the stigma that many people attach to writing YA. Personally, the issue that bugs me the most right now is this “children’s books aren’t what they used to be” post (described above). But I’ll defer my thoughts to a separate post.
  • Via Cheryl Rainfield, Paddington Bear is going to be used in the British Airways children’s travel program. Cheryl also takes on the question of whether or not blog reviews can influence people to buy books, and gives her own data points to say that they can. As for my own data point, I have a whole slew of people who commented on my review of Allegra Goodman’s The Other Side of the Island to say that they want it, and intend to get their hands on it when it’s available. And I recently purchased FoundLittle Brother, and The Adoration of Jenna Fox, among others, as a direct result of blog reviews.
  • Congratulations to Open Book for the recent successes of their Book Buddies program (by which volunteers become reading buddies to young kids). Erin has the details at Read All About It! Coolest part? The program is apparently inspiring some of the volunteers to want to become teachers.
  • For those who are curious, Anastasia Suen has started a Kidlitosphere FAQ, in which she explains what the Kidlitosphere is, and links to some key resources.
  • Trevor Cairney reviews the “Your Baby Can Read” program at Literacy, Families and Learning. He gives the program a detailed assessment, and appears to have approached it with an open mind, but concludes that he wouldn’t introduce it to his own children. He says “Instead of using this program I would encourage my children from birth by stimulating their language (singing to them, reading with them, asking questions etc) and learning (exploration, invention, creative play etc).”
  • Nancy Sondel recently sent me the announcement for the Pacific Coast Children’s Writers workshop. She says that it will be a “small, quality, international seminar in north Santa Cruz county (CA) Aug 15-17, for writers of literary youth novels”. If you are looking for a workshop like this, check out the website for details. 
  • Laurie Halse Anderson shares some “cold hard facts about the writing life.” This post is must-read stuff for aspiring authors.
  • At Becky’s Book Reviews, Becky makes a plea for “more authenticity and less stereotyping” in fiction (especially in the portrayals of both Christianity and body size). She talks eloquently about the ways that we find ourselves in literature, and the ways that we use literature to “see the world through new eyes”.
  • Walter Minkel writes about a recent USA Today report on how having a video on in the background shortens the attention span of children when they’re playing. Walter is concerned that this “means that children’s attention spans are broken up, and kids are engaging in less, and more fragmented, imaginative play. I’m concerned that as kids grow older and become more and more fixated on screens - in particular, the Net and video games - they use less and less of their imaginations and let their brains fall under the direction of Web designers and game designers.”

Hope that you’re all having a great day!

© 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).