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 Afternoon Visits: January 6

From Jen Robinson’s Book Page

A few tidbits for you to brighten the first work-week of the year:

Ccba_logoTasha Saecker reports at Kids Lit that, in association with the Children’s Book Council, is “giving you the opportunity to vote for your five favorite books of 2008! The five books that receive the largest number of votes will then become finalists that will again be voted on. The ultimate winner will be announced in May.”  You can vote here. I also very much enjoyed this post at Kids Lit, in which Tasha thanks the publishers for her review titles. Can I just say “Ditto”. She says it all.

Betsy Bird reports at Fuse #8 that the Children’s Literary Cafe at the New York Public Library is recommencing. Here’s her description: “The Children’s Literary Café is a monthly gathering of adults who are fans of children’s literature.  Professionals, librarians, authors, illustrators, publishers, booksellers, teachers, and anyone else interested in the field are welcome to attend our meetings.   The Literary Café provides free Advanced Readers galleys, a rotating series of talks with professionals in the field, and great conversation.” It’s almost enough to make me wish I lived in NY. Except for that whole big city with snowy weather thing.

Speaking of Betsy Bird, she was recently interviewed over at Just One More Book! (well, she was interviewed by Mark Blevis at the Kidlitosphere conference last fall, but the interview is now available).

TBD2009Little Willow has the early announcement for the second annual Operation Teen Book Drop event, hosted by Readergirlz. She says: “Last year, the first-ever Operation TBD was a huge success. YALSA and readergirlz organized a massive, coordinated release of 10,000 publisher-donated YA books into the top pediatric hospitals across the country and encouraged people to donate books to hospitals, schools, libraries, and gathering spots in their communities.”

Over at The Tiger’s BookshelfJanet posts about the Books for Laos program, “a labor of love that the Cotterills (Jessica and Colin) have been involved in for years, distributing books written in the Laos language to schoolchildren in conjunction with Big Brother Mouse” (an organization that strives to make literacy fun).

Regular readers of this blog may know that I usually stay away from “challenges” (with the recent exception of Pam and Lee’s Comment Challenge). I find keeping up with my reviews and regular features, in combination with keeping caught up on my job, quite enough of a challenge. However, I decided to make an exception for HipWriterMama’s new 2009 New Year 30 Day Challenge. The idea is to choose a new habit that you’d like to work on for 30 days, publicly proclaim it, and check in at Vivian’s every week with a status update. And since I already have a goal of exercising more, I put up a tangible goal related to time spent riding the exercise bike. I’m hoping this helps me to stay motivated (along with watching past seasons of 24 on NetFlix while I bike). Lots of other people have already joined up, and I’m sure it’s not to late to join in.

In honor of their three-year blogiversaryMary Lee and Franki are holding a festival of threes at A Year of Reading. Here’s part 1, and part 2. They have great mini-lists here, like their three favorite wordless picture books, and three new favorite versions of old favorites. Do stop by to enjoy the festivities, and wish Franki and Mary Lee many more years of blogging. See also Franki’s new article at Choice Literacy on The Year’s Best New Read-Alouds (from 2008).

And if you’d like more lists, check out last week’s Saturday Review of Books at Semicolon. For this year-end edition, Sherry Early offers a “special edition of the Saturday Review of Books especially for booklists. You can link to a list of your favorite books read in 2008, a list of all the books you read in 2008, a list of the books you plan to read in 2009, or any other end of the year or beginning of the year list of books. Whatever your list, it’s time for book lists.” This is a great resource. And, of course, don’t miss The Best of the Best: Kids’ Books ‘08 from Susan Thomsen at Chicken Spaghetti.

Also not to be missed is a 2008 7-Imp Retrospective that Jules put together over the long weekend. Jules adds: “yes, do I hear you saying this is the LONGEST POST IN THE HISTORY OF THE WORLD? Why, it is at that, but it’s oh-so skim-able — and mostly full of wonderful stuff at which to look. Sit back and enjoy. Pick your favorite interview and read a snippet. Find your favorite illustrator and kick back to soak in their skills. Choose your own adventure.” I’m a little afraid to delve into this post, I must admit, for fear I’ll never resurface…

Yet another controversy has erupted over the Newbery Award, this one about the question of diversity. I’m not going to get into it, but you can find an excellent analysis by Liz Burns at A Chair, A Fireplace and A Tea Cozy.

Trevor Cairney offers a detailed discussion about how online reading is different from print reading at Literacy, families and learning, addressing a recent research study by Jakob Nielsen. Trevor’s take is that “While I’m a great believer in the value of the Internet, the over-use of screen-based ‘reading’ via the Internet has the potential to change the type of texts that people read.” He has lots more to say on this, so do check out the post.

And last, but not least, a thoughtful post by The LiteraBuss on “WHY I Teach Literacy”. “I DO NOT teach literacy in order to have my students score better on a test, any test. I teach the way I do because I want my students to develop a love and/or appreciation for reading and writing, and to further their own critical thinking skills. I want my students to enjoy the things they read, and seek out more. I want them to become independent, quick (and slow) minded thinkers”. They sound like excellent reasons to me!

That’s it for today. I’m off to ride that exercise bike! 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).


A Few Quick KidLitosphere Announcements

From Jen Robinson’s Book Page

Clearly, people are back at their blogs this weekend, after many a holiday hiatus. My Google Reader is hopping on this rainy afternoon. I thought I’d share a few announcements of potential interest, before I shut down the computer to start a movie marathon with Mheir (he’s out picking up the Chinese food right now).

Omnivoracious has an in-depth tribute to author Donald Westlake, who died Wednesday night. Mystery fans from around the world are saddened by his passing.

Leila from Bookshelves of Doom is starting an ambitious new project: TBR Tallboy. She says: “TBR Tallboy is a very low-tech chapbook-style fiction magazine. A more detailed description will follow, say, after the first issue has been printed.” She’s seeking submissions now, explaining: “I’ll consider middle grade and YA fiction of any genre* as well as adult fiction that could have crossover potential, anywhere from 500 – 5,000 words.” My guess is that TBR Tallboy will be a lot of fun.

Author Mitali Perkins is launching her new bookSecret Keeper, on January 13th. She says: “I’ll be reading, signing books, and offering writing workshops in the San Francisco and Seattle areas, as well as just plain partying in Bellevue, Palo Alto, and Newtonville.” I’m planning to attend her Palo Alto event: Book Signing and Chai, Thursday Jan. 15, 2009, 6:00 - 7:00 pm, Not Your Mother’s Book Club, Books Inc., Town & Country Village, 855 El Camino Real #74, Palo Alto, CA. Phone: 650-321-0600. This event will be followed by a writing workshop, and promises to be fun all around. I hope to see some of you there!

S320x240Loree Griffin Burns reports that 2009 is the Year of Science. She has all of the details, including the themes for each month. She adds: “In thinking of ways that I might join the celebration, I have decided to adjust my reading for the year. I’d like to explore these topics each month through the books I read, and I will share the best of them here on my blog.” Sounds cool, doesn’t it?

Over at The Well-Read Child, Jill is hosting a Parents Roundtable (where she uses “parent” loosely, to include anyone who has a reading relationship with a particular child). Her question is: “Do you have a reading routine with your child? If so, please describe it. For example: When do you read? Do you read out loud? What types of books do you read?”. There are already several responses, and I hope to see lots of people participate.

Today’s Poetry Friday Round-Up is at A Year of Reading. Also at A Year of Reading, an announcement that The Electric Company is returning to PBS in January.

Last but not least, this year’s Golden Fuse awards are now up at A Fuse #8 Production. The Fuse awards are Betsy Bird’s always-entertaining take on the year’s children’s books, with categories ranging from Best Endpapers to Worst Mother of the Year. My favorite section is “weirdo trends and similarities between books”. Don’t miss this post! 

Happy reading! Hope that you’re all relaxing and enjoying a lovely four-day 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).


Wednesday Afternoon Visits: New Year’s Eve Edition

From Jen Robinson’s Book Page

_IGP0749WHappy New Year to all! (Photo by Paul Anderson, shared at MorgueFile, and technically from July 4th, but relevant to today) It’s been another great year of blogging, one during which many new authors and parents and teachers and librarians and book fans joined the Kidlitosphere. I’m back from a densely-packed nine-day trip to Boston (spending Christmas with the families), and have been slowly catching up on the doings of the Kidlitosphere. Thank goodness this is a relatively slow time on the blogs! Still, I have a few things to share with you.

Over at the NCFL Literacy Now blog, Meg Ivey is collecting family literacy resolutions. She says: “It’s that time of the year when everyone is making positive changes in their lives. But instead of resolving to eat fewer desserts or exercise more, how about making a family literacy resolution? …Whatever your resolution is, please let me know!”. Meanwhile, at The Tiger’s Bookshelf, Janet asks that people remember to give the gift of reading for the New Year. She says: “Please think of how different would be without the joy of reading, and think of how you can be sure that somewhere, somehow, a child will learn to experience that same joy.” I, naturally, agree with them both.

Another post that I enjoyed was by Susan from Wizard’s Wireless, about “how to write a book by your favorite author in ten steps or less.” She outlines, for example, the structure found in most of the Harry Potter books (with a few admitted deviations), concluding with “Harry deep in thought about whatever happened during the climax, takes the train home and dreads another summer with the Dursleys.” Then she moves on to other favorite authors who have relatively predictable story structures.

My friend Cory emailed me the other day about a New York Times story by David Streitfeld on the changes in the book publishing industry caused by people buying deeply discounted used books on the Internet. Walter Minkel comments on the same article, and on what he sees as the future of book publishing, at The Monkey Speaks. For example, he thinks that in the future “We’re much more likely to be reading books from a mobile phone than from specialized e-book-reader devices like the “Readius”. Interesting stuff all around. I’m a die-hard fan of the printed book, but I do agree that a higher percentage of electronic reading is coming, whether we like it or not…

Tons of people are publishing their end of the year reading lists, “best of 2008” lists, and/or reading resolutions for 2009. There are far too many to link to (though a few books have been popping up enough to convince me to read them, like The Knife of Never Letting Go). But do check out this post at Fuse #8 for a link to a site that Jim Averbeck set up for tracking people’s mock Newbery, Caldecott, and Printz lists. I also especially enjoyed Sarah Miller’s “completely subjective, unordered, and unorthodox mish-mash of my various favorites from 2008”, featuring categories like “Book I would feel remiss if I didn’t mention” and “Book that prompted the most sniggering”. Fun stuff!I also found that Jackie Parker’s list, for Readergirlz, of ten “best girl-power books that we read this year, regardless of copyright date” really resonated with me. Speaking of Readergirlz, congratulations to the newest postergirl, Shelf Elf. 

Another year-end post that I enjoyed was Just One More Book’s 500th podcast, in which Andrea and Mark talk with their daughters, Lucy (9) and Bayla (7) about their thoughts on favorite chapter books read during 2008. It’s a true pleasure to hear from two young girls who so clearly love and appreciate books, including remarks like “Eva Ibbotson usually writes about orphans, that is something I’ve noticed” and “I would really really love to read it” on the prospect for a third Penderwick title. Great stuff! Here’s wishing JOMB 500 more posts.

Congratulations, also to Esme Raji Codell for her 200th post at Planet Esme. She shares her personal appreciation for the book A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (which I have to admit I don’t think I’ve ever read, though clearly I should). And, congratulations to Kirby Larson and Mary Nethery. Their book Two Bobbies was recently featured on NPR’s All Things Considered. Also, happy one year blogaversary to Trevor Cairney for Literacy, families and learning.

In sadder news, the Disco Mermaids are signing off. Oh, they’ll each have their own blogs, but it won’t be quite the same… Do check out their final post, though.

Award_butterflyAnd finally, I received a couple of nice compliments for my blog this week (in addition to the many wonderful comments from the recent carnival/birthday post). First, Nadine Warner from Kiddos and Books gave me a Butterfly Award, for having a “cool” blog. She did accuse me of being a robot, but trust me, it was a compliment. I actually passed along this award a while back, so I won’t do it again, but it definitely brightened my Christmas weekend. And then Donalyn Millerthe Book Whisperer, named my blog as one of her Reading Rabbit Holes, saying: “I have some gems in the rabbit hole—Websites that make my eyes glaze over with reading bliss, and surprisingly, enhance my classroom instruction and my conversations with students about books.” It’s an honor to be one of Donalyn’s rabbit holes.

And that’s it for today. I look forward to reading many more of your posts in 2009. Happy New Year to all!! And stay tuned for the Cybils short lists announcements tomorrow!

© 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 Afternoon Visits: Pre-Holiday Edition

From Jen Robinson’s Book Page

This might be redundant after the enormous Birthday Carnival of Children’s Literature from Wednesday, but I’ve saved up a few Kidlitosphere links from this week that I’d like to share with you all. Besides which, sitting at my kitchen table, listening to Christmas music, and visiting a few blogs seems like a nice way to spend some time, after an expectedly stressful work week.

KidsheartauthorlogoFirst up, kudos to author Mitali Perkins for launching Kids Heart Authors Day, a celebration of authors and independent booksellers scheduled for Valentine’s Day. As announced on the project website:

“Bookstores, authors, and illustrators are teaming up to make V-Day 2009 an unforgettable one for New England families. Bundle up your brood and head to your community bookstore on Saturday, February 14th, where local authors and illustrators will gather from 10 to 12 a.m. to sign books for kids and teens. Bookstores will provide bunches of books, and authors and illustrators will personalize them and answer any and all questions about writing and drawing.”

It’s almost enough to make me wish I still lived in New England. And this time of year (I am NOT a snow person), that’s really saying something.

And speaking of taking kids to bookstores, author Sara Lewis Holmes recently announced plans for going on a Reading Date with her daughter. She says: “Don’t you want to make a Reading Date with someone you love?” I’m going to see if I can work one in over the holidays.

Imbuyingbooks_buttonYou can find book recommendations everywhere this time of year, of course, especially on the Books for the Holidays blog. (For the record, I bought a TON of books this year, and I purchased most of them by going through the Cybils blog). I’m particularly taken with the book lists on BookKids Recommends (the Book People children’s book blog). They’ve been offering first recommendations for “dudes of various age ranges, and more recently for girlie-girls, from picture books through teen books. These are fun, up-to-date lists, and are a perfect example of the specialized services offered by independent booksellers. I also liked this list of 10 great gifts for dads that read to their kids (and don’t you wish that category included all dads?) from BookDads.

See also this anecdotal piece by Janet Brown at The Tiger’s Bookshelf (the PaperTigers blog) about the pleasure of giving a book. Janet says: “Snuggling with your father, hearing his voice directed especially toward you, seeing the glow of colors and the excitement of new shapes as the pages turn, what could be better than that? Nothing, except perhaps for the delight of choosing a book that can help this experience be as good as it can be–and then hearing about it later from a happy parent.” I certainly agree!

Jama Rattigan has two posts about literary cookbooks for kids (and short grown-ups). Very fun! They are here and here. She has lots of delicious posts about things like Christmas cookies, too.  

As linked by many people, this past week was Girl Week at Reviewer X, featuring guest posts about girls and book reviews of girl-friendly titles. Another good place to look for gift ideas, I’d hazard.

I’ve pretty much had my fill of children’s book controversy by this point in the year (who knew there would be so much, honestly?). But if you’re still interested in discussions, the Washington Post has jumped on the Newbery Award criticism bandwagon (actually going so far as to imply that recent Newbery award selections have been hurting reading enjoyment among kids). Lots of people have written about this article, including Mitali Perkins (who writes more generally on the impact of adult recommendations on kids), and Donalyn Miller at the Book Whisperer.

CybilsLogoSmallI tend to agree with Donalyn that “The limited allure of recent winners doesn’t marginalize reading, it marginalizes the award and reveals a missed opportunity by the Newbery committee to celebrate books that are not only well-written, but also attractive to readers.” I know that kid appeal isn’t part of the criteria of the Newbery, but I do think that there are plenty of books that have kid-appeal and are well-written. Happily, the Cybils short lists will be out on January 1st!!

And, discussing one more publishing controversy that I think is going to pick up steam in 2009, 100 Scope Notes talks about PDFs and eBooks being sent to reviewers. There’s some discussion in the comments. Personally, I am NOT up for more time in front of my computer. So eBook review copies would mean either getting a Kindle-type decide, or just not accepting review copies at all. I’ll be interested to see how things shake out.

And I’m not even going to comment on the recent New Yorker article that dissed young adult fiction even while reviewing a particular YA title in a positive light (“I tend to think of young-adult fiction as sort of facile—a straightforward style, uncomplicated themes and morals—but this had a complexity, an ambiguity, that surprised me”). See the comments there, or this post by Brian from the Flux Blog.

On a lighter note, Lisa Chellman has a fun post about Fictional Parents with Interesting Jobs. Click through to see which character’s father is a funeral director, a punk rocker, or a mathematician.

And for lots of fun tidbits about the past year in children’s literature, check out this very fun post at 100 Scope NotesTravis is predicting a trend of “tiny characters” in 2009. What do you think? See also his Best Confirmation That a Character is Indeed Awesome in the post. Can you guess?

Mary Pope Osborne (of Magic Treehouse book fame) has just completed a blog tour at The Well-Read ChildJill has direct links to the four previous stops. For a different type of interview, author James Preller recently interviewed Karen and Bill from Literate Lives (source for many book recommendations that catch my eye). It’s more of a conversation than an interview, and definitely a fun read.

Libby shares some children’s literature love at Lessons from the Tortoise, quoting a couple of recent articles in which authors recalled and rediscovered their appreciation for children’s booksTricia also posted a response to one of the articles at The Miss Rumphius Effect.

Kudos to Andrea and Mark from Just One More Book for helping to get a favorite book re-printed. They’ll also have a blurb on the reprinted book: Sleeping Dragons. See here and here. It’s nice to see tangible evidence that book advocacy can make a difference.

Mary and Robin at Shrinking Violet Promotions are doing a lovely 12 Days of Christmas - Introvert Style series. The gifts that they recommend introverts seek out this time of year include earplugs, soothing drinks, and “a nice quiet place to be.” They’re also giving out a gift each day, to previous commenters. I find that their blog is a nice quiet space that I want to visit.

Speaking of blogs that I want to visit, would you like to know about a blog I that actively seek out, and am disappointed when there are no posts? Not Always Right: Funny & Stupid Customer Quotes. Some of the posts are hilarious. I forget where I discovered this site (Finding WonderlandBookshelves of Doom?), but I love it. If you need a little humor, it’s definitely worth checking out.

And that’s it for Kidlitosphere links until after the holidays. Happy reading!

© 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 Afternoon Visits: December 5

From Jen Robinson’s Book Page

I find myself with a bit of time to spare this afternoon, before what promises to be a hectic weekend, so I thought that I would share a few Kidlitosphere links with you.

Fresh off the comment challenge, MotherReader has been coming up with her usual amazing lists of ways to give a book. These are lists pairing books with something else, “to give it that fun factor”. You can find the lists herehereherehere, and, the newest one, here. The suggestions include things like “What else can go with Monkey With A Tool Belt but a tool belt?” Can’t argue with that one, Pam! You can also find links to tons of other lists of holiday book recommendations at Chasing Ray. Seriously. There is no excuse for NOT buying books for the holidays, with all the energy people have been putting into providing gift ideas through Colleen’s 12 Days of Christmas event. I’m especially appreciating Sarah’s Tween Book-Buying Guides at The Reading Zone, and Susan’s tracking of “best of” lists at Chicken Spaghetti.

SolvangSherrie has a lovely little post about the joy of raising readers at Write About Now. Her first grade daughter reads aloud to the Kindergarten class every week, with great pride.

There are author interviews all over the place this week. But two interviews that I particularly enjoyed were of fellow bloggers. Maureen at Kid Tested, Librarian Approved interviewed Anastasia Suen, organizer for the Cybils Easy Reader committee, about what makes a book an easy reader, and how adults should use them with kids. Jon Bard at Children’s Writing Web Journal interviewed Abby (the) Librarian about what she’s learned from her blog, and what she likes to see in books. I’m completely with Abby about didactic books, and her recommendation of The Hunger Games.

Jill has a must-read guest post at The Well-Read Child. Author Maxwell Eaton shares 10 Tips for the Parents of Ricky the Reluctant Reader, in comic strip form. The tips for dealing with reluctant readers are dead-on, and the format is funny and engaging. As fellow commenter Jeremy said: “this 10-tips comic should be distributed far and wide.” I really like the way Jill has been branching out from doing traditional author interviews to ask authors abut literacy and raising readers.

Authors thinking about starting a blog, or about what their goals are for their blog, might appreciate this sixth blog anniversary post by Shannon Hale. She talks about her goals for the blog, and her struggles. I especially liked: “I blog to promote ongoing literacy. I love to recommend books I’m passionate about, so that readers who like my books don’t stop here but keep reading, or parents and teachers can get good suggestions for all kinds of readers.” That’s the kind of thing that keeps someone like me coming back.

There have been a few tempests in the normally cozy teapot of the Kidlitosphere this week. One was started by The LiteraBuss, with a post called “Must NOT Read List For Elementary School (Books That Were Once Great But Have Become Irrelevant)”. I mean, anyone who is going to call To Kill A Mockingbird “trash” (admittedly in the context of classroom reading, but still…) is going to raise a few eyebrows. See follow-on posts at The LiteraBuss here and here, and at Charlotte’s Library.

A School Library Journal article by Gail Giles has also triggered some conflict. Addressing the question of why boys generally don’t read as much as girls do, Gail comes to the conclusion that boys don’t have enough male role models demonstrating reading. She’s pretty blunt about it: “Now, this is purely my opinion, but children copy their elders. They want to be what they see. A boy doesn’t want to be a woman. He wants to do what a man does. And if he doesn’t see a man reading, he won’t read.” Colleen Mondor begs to differ at Guys Lit Wire, saying “I do not think that boys (or girls) read or don’t read because of what other people do (or don’t do) in their homes.” Carlie Webber, on the other hand, thinks that Gail raises a valid point, concluding “I think that male role models are only one of many factors in getting boys to read, but they’re an important factor.” Tricia at The Miss Rumphius Effect asks “Why do we give boys so little credit? Why the gross generalizations?” She has a bit of a discussion going in the comments, if you’d like to participate.

In other interesting chat, there’s discussion about why “girl books” focus on home (see Kids Lit), what girls want in literature, and when a personal area of expertise leads to a “fail” moment when you’re reading. Lisa Chellman has links for those last two. Doret also writes about what’s NOT urban lit at TheHappyNappyBookseller. And, though this isn’t particularly controversial, Stacy DeKeyser proposes a definition of young adult fiction at Reading, writing, and chocolate.

In closing, two reminders to appreciate each day. Well-known blogger Dewey from The Hidden Side of a Leaf passed away over Thanksgiving weekend. There have been various tributes across the blogs, and you can read an outpouring of comments at Dewey’s blog. And, as if she hadn’t had enough loss for one year, Amanda from A Patchwork of Books lost her mother, unexpectedly. Amanda expects to be back to blogging soon, though, because it helps her to have something normal in her life. So, in memory of Dewey, and of Amanda’s son and mother, show a little extra appreciation for the people in your life this weekend. You won’t regret it.

© 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).