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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Tuesday
Mar162010

Monday Afternoon Visits: March 15

From Jen Robinson’s Book Page

It’s been a while since I had time to do a Kidlitosphere news roundup. I don’t have a ton of time this afternoon, but I wanted to at least share a few things.

Booklights Terry and I were both pretty caught up in the Share a Story - Shape a Future literacy blog tour last week, and so we have no children’s literacy round-up for you all this week. I did do a post at Booklights today highlighting some of the links from each day of Share a Story that I thought would be of particular interest to parents. I’m also happy to report here that I won a giveaway - a set of four books from Sleeping Bear Press will be donated to the Santa Clara City Library (where I’m on the Foundation Board). This came about because I was a finalist in the RIF Multicultural Books giveaway. Many thanks to everyone who participated in Share a Story 2010!

Speaking of Booklights, Susan Kusel was kind enough to share some board book suggestions for me at Booklights last week. I’ve added many of them to my wish list for the baby.

Betsy Bird is up to number 21 in the Fuse #8 Top 100 Children’s Books poll. She’s going to share out the top 20 books one by one, so we all have a while to wait to see who the winner is. But I think it’s safe to say that they’ll all be wonderful books from here on out.

Mitali Perkins has a lovely post profiling 5 outstanding literacy warriors who are on Twitter. All five are organizations that I’m already following and retweeting on a regular basis, but I’m thrilled to see Mitali spreading the word and drawing more people’s attention to these excellent programs. Mitali also has a slightly longer list of literacy champions that you can follow - I just double-checked, and found a few new people to follow. Mitali also shared a useful list of a dozen YA novels with Asian guy protagonists last week.

The SLJ Battle of the (Kids) Books started this week. You can read Liz B’s thoughts on Round One, Match one at Tea Cozy, or view the full schedule here. SLJBoB is “a competition between 16 of the very best books for young people published in 2009, judged by some of the biggest names in children’s books.”

Shannon Hale has had a couple of interesting posts recently about the shortage of female characters in movies these days (especially animated movies), and what, if anything, concerned parties can do about this. She says: “what changes things is money. Even more specifically: the Opening Weekend. That’s all that really matters. If women and girls flood movie theaters the opening weekend in support of movies that are led by or even have a realistic ratio of female characters, those accountants will notice and things will change.”

Speaking of female protagonists, Doret has put together a “list of titles with strong and smart female protagonists” at TheHappyNappyBookseller. As she notes, the list is by no means complete, but it’s an excellent place for anyone to start looking for strong female characters in books.

Meanwhile, David Elzey is still working on helping people to build better boy books at Fomograms, writing last week about nonlinearity in books for boys.

Quick hits:

Hope you found some links of interest!

© 2010 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
Mar162010

Sunday Afternoon Visits: February 28

From Jen Robinson’s Book Page

I’ve been spending some time weeding through my ridiculously large to be read pile this weekend, after a relatively hectic work-week, so I haven’t had much time for reading blogs. But I managed to do a bit of catch-up today. Here are some links that I thought people might be interested in.

Cybils2009-150px This year, for the first time, you can purchase stickers to place on your Cybils finalist and winning titles. All of the information, and samples of the stickers, is available at the Cybils blog.

Speaking of book-related contests, School Library Journal’s annual Battle of the Kids’ Books starts tomorrow. This contest pits book against book, until a field of 16 is narrowed down to one by an illustrious panel of judges. Betsy Bird has the details at A Fuse #8 Production. You can also follow the action on Twitter at @SLJsBoB or at the Battle of the Kids’ Books blog.

At The Reading Tub, Terry Doherty has an interview with Liz Burns from A Chair, A Fireplace and A Tea Cozy. Terry says: “We *know* a lot about Elizabeth Burns’ book, TV and movie interests from A Chair, A Fireplace and a Tea Cozy, but she doesn’t talk much about her job as the Youth Services Consultant at the New Jersey State Library Talking Books and Braille Center. In fact, she makes it clear on the blog that what she says there is her opinion and not her employer’s. Last fall, after reading several articles about Braille literacy, I asked Liz if we could do an interview.”

Speaking of Tea Cozy, Liz has sparked a discussion about the difference between “lit blogs” and “book blogs”. All of the discussion is in the comments, so do go beyond the main post if you’re interested in this. Personally, right at the moment, I don’t have the energy for any clique-ish behavior or finger-pointing. But I’m glad that Liz is sorting things out. [See also Liz’s thoughts on the new CommonSense Media ratings at Barnes & Noble’s website.]

Colleen Mondor has the 12th edition of her What a Girl Wants series at Chasing Ray, with musings and book recommendations from authors about “Bad Girls” in literature. She says: “This month the panel discusses just what good and bad have to do with sex and the teenage girl, why we persist in labeling girls so much more harshly than boys and books that help readers navigate these ever present and always turbulent teen waters.”

Amy has an interesting post at Literacy Launchpad about watching movies made from books, and why it’s important to use them as an addition to, rather than a substitute for, reading the book.

Percy_Jackson_poster And speaking of movies made from books, check out the new Percy Jackson Reads! poster from the ALA store. There are also bookmarks available. I think this poster would be a great classroom addition - let’s by all means jump on the coattails of the popularity of the book and the movie and use them to encourage reading. I’m sure that Rick Riordan agrees.

David Elzey continues his great series about building better boy books. Part 7 is about keeping things short. He says: “There are readers, many of them boys, who will pick up that book and judge it by its girth, by its font size, by the amount of white on the page. As a former bookseller, if I had a dollar for every boy I ever witnessed fan a book’s pages as a method for deciding whether or not to read it, I’d have enough money today to buy a small publishing house.”

Happy-accident-31-300x296 Greg Pincus is offering a free consultation from his blog, The Happy Accident. He says: “At conferences recently, besides doing my main presentations, I’ve also been giving individual, shorter social media consultations (see below for the details of how they work). Because they’ve proven to be so popular, I’ve decided to start offering that same service here through The Happy Accident. To kick this new offering off  (and to help celebrate my fourth anniversary of blogging over at GottaBook), I’m going to give one of these consultations out for freeeeeee.” Comment by midnight tonight with a recommended blog or blogs to enter. You’ll already find a great list of recommended blogs in the comments.

Today is the last day of The Brown Bookshelf’s 28 Days Later celebration of African American authors and illustrators, featuring Charles R. Smith, Jr. Of course, one of the great things about blogs is that it’s easy to go back and look over the posts from the entire month, if you’ve missed them.  

Quick hits:

And now it’s back to my towering stacks of books. Eventually, my creating order from the books will translate into more reviews for you. In the meantime, Terry will have this week’s Literacy and Reading News round-Up tomorrow at The Reading Tub.

© 2010 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).

Saturday
Feb202010

Thursday Afternoon Visits: February 18

From Jen Robinson’s Book Page

So I’ve been struggling through a bout of laryngitis this week. It’s made me a bit cranky (or perhaps general malaise has made me cranky - whichever). But the nice thing about the whole online world is that I can still interact with people, without needing to talk. And so, here are a few tidbits from the Kidlitosphere and twitterverse.

First up, the Kidlitosphere’s own Betsy Bird was profiled in Forbes today (online anyway)! Author Dirk Smillie calls her “the most powerful blogger in kids’ books”. And really, who could dispute that? I think she uses her power for good, though, don’t you? I especially liked this part, a quote from Dan Blank: “She channels her oddness into this niche blog, which then extends beyond its niche. Why was she born to do this? Who knows?” But do read the whole article. It’s great stuff!

Speaking of Betsy, she’s at the halfway point in revealing the results of the top 100 children’s books poll, with today’s reveal of titles 51 to 55. The list of titles is a wonderful resource in and of itself. And what Betsy’s doing with the posts, profiling each book, including cover images and quotes from contributors - it’s truly a labor of love. She’s made me want to go and read, or re-read, every single one of these titles. See also an interesting analysis of titles 100-71 by Eric Carpenter at What We Read and What We Think. Eric looks at things like distribution of votes, distribution of titles by decade, etc. His post is well worth a look.

Mockingjay While I love many of the titles on Betsy’s list, the genre that catches my attention most reliably is dystopian and post-apocalyptic fiction, especially when published for young adults. There’s been plenty of activity within my pet genre this week:

Cybils2009-150px My fellow Cybils panelist, Sam from Parenthetical.net, has posted mini-reviews of all of the non-winning finalists in our category, middle grade fantasy and science fiction. I’m not sure if or when I’ll get to this myself, so I refer you to Sam’s comments. They line up pretty well with what I would say, anyway. I’ll also note that Joni Sensel’s The Farwalker’s Quest is a post-apocalyptic title, and thus had my automatic attention. Melissa also has a Farwalker’s Quest review at One Librarian’s Book Reviews.

Speaking of the Cybils, special thanks to Rocco Staino for a lovely writeup about the Cybils winners at School Library Journal.  

I-can-read-meme The February I Can Read Carnival (an idea launched by Terry Doherty, now in its second moth) is running right now at Anastasia Suen’s 5 Great Books blog. Fittingly enough, Anastasia was the category organizer for the 2009 Easy Reader and Short Chapter Book committee of the Cybils. She has lots of excellent links for new readers.

Quick hits:

  • David Elzey continues his series on the aspects of books that appeal to boy readers. He talks about violence/conflict, action, and emotion in parts 3 through 5.  
  • At the Spectacle, KA Holt expresses her concern about lexile ratings being used to steer kids away from books that they want to read.
  • Travis has a very fun post at 100 Scope Notes predicting what books will be like in 3001. He is ridiculously creative, isn’t he?
  • The Texas Sweethearts have named their newest Featured Sweetheart: Mitali Perkins. Great choice, wouldn’t you say? You can read the interview here.
  • Liz B writes again, at Tea Cozy, about why it’s wrong to sell advance reading copies, or place them in library collections. If she keeps saying it often enough, perhaps the message will get across. There’s an extensive discussion going on in the comments.

And that’s all for today. Hope you all found some news of interest.

© 2010 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
Feb112010

Wednesday Afternoon Visits: February 10

From Jen Robinson’s Book Page

There has been a lot going on around the Kidlitosphere this past week. Here are some links for your perusal:

The biggest news is that Betsy Bird has started reporting the results of her Top 100 Children’s Books Poll at A Fuse #8 Production. Betsy asked readers to share their list of top 100 children’s books of all time. She’s compiled the results, and is reporting the list in small chunks, complete with commentary and assorted covers for each book. These posts (see 100-91, 90-86, 85-81) are truly an amazing resource, filled with quotes and memories about beloved books, new and old. Even though we’re only 20 titles in, I would venture to suggest that the completed list is going to make an excellent recommended reading list. In fact, I actually dreamed about reading these posts last night. Stay tuned to A Fuse #8 Production for the rest of the Top 100.

For anyone who might be snowed in this week, Joan S. at the First Book blog suggests: “Settling in to enjoy a GOOD BOOK doesn’t require electricity or a wireless connection. Satellite dishes may be covered with snow, wires may be down, but READING A BOOK just takes a quiet nook and a willingness to enjoy the moment.”

I noticed two posts today about creative classroom activities dedicated to popular books. At Educating Alice, Monica Edinger shares a mural that her students created after reading When You Reach Me together as a class. And at Learn Me Sumthin’, Tony’s class is tracking Percy Jackson’s adventures using Google Maps. Here’s a snippet from Tony’s post: “Some very unexpected and wonderful things started to happen. The classroom conversations about writing became stronger, because I think the kids really started to see the connection that fiction, even fantasy like The Lightning Thief, is more ‘real’ when the author can layer in events, details that are real. Also the importance of setting, which can get lost of 4th grade writers is now more apparent.”

Speaking of classrooms, Everybody Wins! reports: “MrsP.com has created some beautiful literary-inspired valentines — that you can download for free at www.MrsP.com. They are perfect for teachers or mentors to use in the classroom this week. They are created for readers of all-ages and perfect to give to the book lovers in your life.” Here’s the direct link. They are very cute! 

And in other Percy Jackson news, Amanda from A Patchwork of Books reports: “The Guardian has an awesome interview with author Rick Riordan (of Percy Jackson fame) about his son’s dyslexia and ADHD preventing him from enjoying reading. Well Mr. Percy Jackson’s story helped fix that!”. Of course, the Lightning Thief movie comes out on Friday, too, so we’ll be hearing lots more about Percy in the coming weeks.

David Elzey is writing a series (based on work that he did as part of a graduate residency) on building better boy books. You can find part 1 here and part 2 here. Part 1 is introductory, while Part 2 is about grabbing the attention of boys by using humor. David says: “there are subtleties to some forms of humor that boys respond to above others that can be incorporated into fiction. Knowing these elements might help explain what makes many boys – both readers and characters – tick.”

Charlotte's web At Booklights, Susan Kusel discusses reading Charlotte’s Web aloud to young children (who might not cope well with Charlotte’s death). Susan notes: “As a librarian, I frequently get asked what age the book is appropriate for. My answer is always that it depends on your child. Will they be able to handle it?” Commenters seem to agree.

Also at Booklights, Terry Doherty has launched a new monthly column called A Prompt Idea. She says: “Each month, I’ll talk about writing and suggest ways to add writing to children’s literacy diet. Even if your child isn’t ready to put pen to paper, prompts can open the doors to building vocabulary, honing communication skills, and being creative. Varying the outlets for writing and communicating is as important as offering different types of reading materials.”

Abby (the) Librarian and Kelly of Stacked are starting a new monthly roundup of posts about audiobooks. Abby says: “We want to encourage people to listen to audiobooks and to post about them. We want to provide a place for people to find out about great audiobooks.”

Cybils2009-150px The Cybils winners will be announced this Sunday (Valentine’s Day). In the meantime, the Cybils blog has been running a fun series about the inside scoop on the nominees in various categories. Here’s Part I, Part II, and Part III. I continue to be wowed that Deputy Editor Sarah Stevenson manages to keep up her own blog, and keep coming up with creative content for the Cybils blog, too.

Quick hits:

And that’s it for today. I’m feeling much better having the starred items in my reader cleaned up, and I’m off to watch the Duke/UNC game with a friend. Happy reading, all!

© 2010 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
Jan312010

Saturday Afternoon Visits: January 30

From Jen Robinson’s Book Page

There’s been lots going on around the Kidlitosphere this week. Here are some highlights:

Liz B has an interesting post at Tea Cozy about the ways that blogging shifts the way the blogger reads. I’ve certainly noticed this in my own reading. Much as I enjoy most of the books that I review, I find I need to mix in ever-increasing numbers of books that I read purely for my own satisfaction (with not thoughts of writing a review). Otherwise, reading, which has always been my solace, and necessary for my mental health, starts to feel like work.

BkBrownBear Did you hear about how the Texas Education Board accidentally banned popular children’s author Bill Martin, Jr. (author of the much-beloved Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?). It seems that the board confused Mr. Martin with a different Bill Martin, who wrote a book on Marxism. Elaine Magliaro has the details and links at Wild Rose Reader. Ridiculous! Almost as ridiculous as the school system in CA that banned the Merriam-Webster dictionary in certain classrooms. I can’t even bring myself to comment on that one, but Leila has the details at Bookshelves of Doom.

Sadly, Brown Bear, Brown Bear is currently missing from Amazon’s website (except for purchases from third-party sellers), because Amazon is in the midst of a battle of wills with publisher Macmillan, and has pulled all of Macmillan’s titles. Here is the NY Times article about the situation. I learned about this from Charlotte’s Library.

Farwalker Regular readers may be aware that dystopias and post-apocalyptic stories are one of my favorite genres of recreational reading. Joni Sensel (author of Cybils finalist The Farwalker’s Quest) has an interesting post up at The Spectacle about pinning down the definition of a dystopia. I think she makes some good points - it’s easy to use “dystopia” as shorthand for a wide range of stories (and I’m sure that I’ve done that), but something can certainly be post-apocalyptic or speculative without being dystopian. That’s why the full title of my booklist in this area (which needs to be updated) is Futuristic, Speculative, Science Fiction and Dystopian Fiction for Young Adults. See also Tanita Davis’ thoughts on, and recent list of, young adult science fiction.

However you want to classify them, I find dystopian and related novels fascinating. So does Lenore at Presenting Lenore. So much so that she’ll be dedicating all of February to discussing them. She says: “I have lots of fun planned including reviews, interviews, guest posts and of course prizes! If you like speculative fiction, then Presenting Lenore is the place to be in February.” I will surely be staying tuned.

Last week I mentioned Kelly’s celebration of unsung young adult books at YAnnabe. She ended up having 73 bloggers participate. She also took the time to compile some statistics on the recommended titles, coming up with lists like the “top 10 unsung YA heroes”. This whole thing is truly a labor of love of the genre. YA fans will find this post a wonderful resource. Now if only I had time to read all of the books…

Speaking of YA heroes, Justine Larbalestier shares her thoughts on Amazon’s list of most influential young adult authors of the decade. Although she calls it an excellent list overall (and I agree), she suggests a couple of omissions, questions a couple of additions, and invites discussion.

As reported by Betsy Bird at FuseNews, the Cuffies have been announced. PW hosts these entertaining awards, based on input from booksellers from around the country. They include your typical “favorite picture book” etc., but also categories like “book you couldn’t shut up about”, “most overdone subject” and “happiest to see back in print” (Blueberries for Sal, of course).

28DaysLater2010 The Brown Bookshelf’s 28 Days Later, 2010 kicks off Monday, February 1st. This annual celebration of African-American children’s book authors and illustrators is not to be missed. Don Tate says: “my work here at the Brown Bookshelf, specifically the 28 Days Later campaign, always inspires me. Whenever I find myself getting down, when I start to feel that the cards are stacked against me — and believe me, they are — I look at all the faces on the posters from past and current campaigns, and I feel hopeful.” 

The Sydney Taylor Award blog tour also starts Monday. You can find the full details at the Association of Jewish Libraries blog. The tour “will be celebrating and showcasing its 2010 gold and silver medalists and special Notable Book for All Ages.” More than a dozen blogs will be participating.

Middle school librarian Ms. Yingling has been working hard at finding books for boys. In this post she shares several recommendations of funny books for boys. Then in this post she shares a bit of a rant about the need for more boy-friendly books for her library. There are some great comments on that post, with suggestions. Then, apparently deciding to take action, she launched a “super-secret evil plan” to put “girl books” into the hands of boys. It was apparently quite a success, too. All I can say is, if you care about getting middle school kids interested in books, you really should be reading Ms. Yingling’s blog.

The latest controversial topic making waves in the Kidlitosphere concerns book piracy. Cheryl Rainfield linked to an article at The Millions in which an anonymous e-Book pirater discussed his motivations. Then Laurie Halse Anderson took on the topic, and sparked a host of responses and rationalizations from people. Her first post is excellent, and her second, in which she debunks the arguments of the book thieves, is even better. Sara Zarr responded, putting it simply: “Piracy is stealing, and stealing is wrong”. Mary Pearson added her thoughts, discussing how reading pirated books is also bad for the reader. These are all must-read posts for anyone who cares about books and reading. Personally, my views on this are influenced in part by the fact that I own a software company, and sell a product, the result of much hard work, that could be copied electronically. I think that anyone who tried to steal my product would be just as guilty of outright theft as the people who steal the work of hard-working authors like Cheryl, Laurie, Sara, and Mary. Like Sara said: stealing is wrong.

If you’re looking for new blogs to follow, and an incidental example about strengthening social networks, check out Gregory K’s 1000th post at Gotta Book. Speaking to his blog’s audience, Greg says: “A lot of you know each other, but it’s always seemed unfair that so many of you DON’T know each other. So I want to turn over the comments of this post to introductions. I want you all to say hello, link to your blog or website, and, if you want, give a one sentence “blurb” about you/your blog/whatever.” There are currently 83 comments and counting. Me, I wish Greg 1000 more posts, and thousands more followers.

Quick hits:

And now, my reader is clear, and I’m off to dinner. Hope you find some material of interest for your weekend web reading.

© 2010 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).