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 Afternoon Visits: Holiday Weekend Edition

From Jen Robinson’s Book Page

It was a pretty quiet weekend on the blogs, what with the July 4th holiday in the US and all. Still, I ran across a few things that I wanted to share:

  • Jill is hosting a Family Reading Challenge and Giveaway at The Well-Read Child. After discussing her reasons for starting this challenge, she says “Would you like to spend more time reading and challenge yourself and your family to read a bit every day? If so, I’d love it if you joined me! The only rule is that you try to fit in time every day.” Sounds like a worthy goal to me. Jill also has some excellent books that she’s going to give away to participants.
  • Over at the Reading ZoneSarah asks readers for book recommendations for her nine year old sister, “a voracious reader.” There are tons of suggestions in the comments (including a few from me), so if you are looking for ideas for the nine year old in your life, this post is worth checking out.
  • And, if you’re looking for recommendations for slightly younger readers, check out the conclusion of Gail Gauthier’s Three Robbers blog tour, with links to all of the interviews/early chapter book discussions.
  • At Shrinking Violet PromotionsMary Hershey and Robin LaFevers have an event going on in honor of the launch of Mary’s new book (10 Lucky Things that Have Happened to Me Since I Nearly Got Hit by Lightning) that will get books into the hands of young girls who need them. Explains Robin, Mary “has invited her friends and family to purchase a gift card (by phone if that’s easier) from our local independent bookstore, Chaucer’s, and then in turn designate that it be used to buy a copy of our books (yes we’re doing a buddy signing!) to be donated to Girls, Inc. so that a girl that might not otherwise have a chance to read or own the books might do so.” How cool is that?
  • Shelf Elf is celebrating her upcoming one-year blogiversary. And she is seeking presents. Not to worry, though. All she wants are your book recommendations. If you read Shelf Elf, and would like to show your support, just head on over to this post, and leave a link to one of your reviews in the comments.
  • Speaking of showing support, congratulations to Mitali Perkins, whose Rickshaw Girl (reviewed here) was recently named to The Children’s Literature and Reading Special Interest Group of the International Reading Association’s list of 25 Notable Books for a Global Society. She’s in some excellent company, too. If you’re looking for some globally diverse book recommendations, do check out the full list.

And now, for the first time since I left on June 19th to go to my brother’s wedding, I’m feeling caught up with what’s going on in the Kidlitosphere — reviewsliteracy news, and other general happenings. Next up — catching up on my own reviews. I’ve read some great stuff lately, and hope to have time to write a bunch of reviews later this week.

© 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 Afternoon Visits: July 2

From Jen Robinson’s Book Page

I’m finally feeling a bit caught up after last weekend’s ALA Conference, and I have a few links to share with you.

  • MotherReader posts about the first meeting of her Mother-Daughter Summer Book Club, in which the participants read Jenny Han’s Shug (which I reviewed here). Pam said: “Most interesting for me was finding out that the realistic flavor of the book that I find so appealing was actually a turn-off to some of the girls. I loved the book because it took me back to that transition so clearly and represented that age so accurately. But these particular girls felt like they’re already living this life of friends and crushes and popularity — why would they want to read about it?” Fascinating, isn’t it? Something for we adult reviewers of children’s and young adult books to keep in mind. (hmmm …. do you think the acronym ARCYAB would catch on?)
  • Speaking of summer reading, The Book Whisperer, Donalyn Miller, writes about the dichotomy by which summer reading for adults consists of “fast-paced thrillers…, weepy beach blanket reads, and thick historical epics” while young adults are required to read improving fare. She says: “We must remind ourselves that readers who leave school and keep reading are those people who discover reading is personally valuable”, suggesting that kids should be left to read what they enjoy during the summer. I know I did.
  • If you’re looking for summer reading lists, here are a few good choices. Esme Raji Codell reviews We Are the Ship, and shares various other baseball books at PlanetEsme. Els Kushner suggests several “magical, timeless, enchanting novels for children are set during summer vacation” at Librarian Mom. In contrast, Charlotte has a list of “cool books with which to escape summer” at Charlotte’s Library. Summer reading options for all! I have to say that personally, I find the summer vacation list the most enticing - it’s nice to see The Penderwicks on the same page as their literary antecedents, the Melendy Family.
  • Jama Rattigan’s Alphabet Soup has an illustration-filled interview with Marla Frazee (the talented illustrator who makes Clementine spring from the page). I especially enjoyed a photo of Marla’s work studio, which looks like a secret little cottage in the woods.
  • For all you writers out there, Laurie Halse Anderson has issued a challenge for July. She says: “1. Commit to write for 15 minutes a day for the entire month of July. 2. Just do it.” Sounds almost achievable, doesn’t it? Laurie will have encouraging/check-in posts every day on her blog.
  • And, for anyone thinking about writing as a career, you might want to check out TadMack’s recent post (OK, rant) at Finding Wonderland about the financial side of being a children’s book author. She says: “Don’t get me wrong: I love what I do. And if you want to, may you find the courage to write, too. Just understand that it may not be blindingly lucrative, and please be nice to the writers you know, who are sometimes taken for granted as the one in the group who should treat everyone to dinner or coffee because they’re “rich.” OK. Point taken.
  • Cheryl Rainfield has rounded up a huge list of contests by which you can win books for children and teens, as well as a couple that have e-book readers as prizes.
  • Via Sarah Weinman’s blog, Confessions of an Idiosyncratic Mind, I learned that someone is publishing a Treasure Island prequel. It’s not going to be a children’s book, however. According to the Independent, “The author John Drake, a former biochemist and freelance TV producer, has spent years studying Treasure Island line by line, together with books and essays on 18th-century shipping and piracy. The book, Flint & Silver, is the first in a scheduled series of six, snapped up last year by Harper Collins. Mr Drake is currently negotiating with a US publishing house for the American rights.”
  • Anna from the Literacy is Priceless blog recently recapped some family literacy activities from the PBS Kids Raising Readers site, including a shout-out to the WordWorld show. And speaking of public broadcasting, via my friend Alex, WBUR and NPR’s On Point broadcast today was about “A new history of children’s literature, and what it tells us about growing up”. The program featured guest Seth Lerer, professor of English and comparative literature at Stanford University and author of Children’s Literature: A Reader’s History from Aesop to Harry Potter.

It’s good to be back home, hanging around in the Kidlitosphere. 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).


Thursday Afternoon Visits: Pre-ALA Version

From Jen Robinson’s Book Page

I’m off to ALA tomorrow, which means that blog posts will be pretty sparse for the next few days. But I leave you with a few tidbits:

  • Trevor Cairney has a nice post at Literacy, Families and Learning about The Importance of Play. It’s actually the third part of a series, but it stands alone just fine. He includes “Some thoughts on playing creatively with young children (in particular with toys)”. In a perfect world, we wouldn’t need help figuring out how to play creatively with kids, but I’ll bet a lot of people find this post useful.
  • Cheryl Rainfield shares a “fun, creative way to get your child interested in a book”. It involves anonymously sending the child books in the mail. I have to admit that I have mixed feelings - it seems a bit deceitful - but we did at one time mail books to our nieces, and that was a hit.
  • Susan Taylor Brown recently published the June Carnival of Children’s Literature at Susan Writes. The theme is fathers in children’s literature, and these is some great material there. If you only check out one thing, check out that post.
  • Sherry Early is trying something new at Semicolon: author celebrations. She was already taking note of author birthdays, but she recently asked herself: “why not have blogosphere-wide celebration for certain of my favorite authors on their birthdays? I pick an author with an upcoming birthday, let folks know about the celebration, and if you enjoy that author too, you can post about his/her books: reviews, the time you met Author X, or whatever is related to that particular author, maybe a list of read-alikes for other adoring fans.” The first author celebrated is Charlotte Zolotow.
  • I.N.K. (Interesting Nonfiction for Kids) is having a book blast giveaway. They say: “To support the children’s nonfiction community, our fifteen published authors have each agreed to DONATE A SIGNED COPY OF ONE OF THEIR BOOKS. That’s FIFTEEN books all to ONE LUCKY WINNER.” Check out this post for the quite reasonable rules.
  • Big news for author Rick RiordanHe recently announced: “It’s a big day for 39 Clues. Scholastic announced today that DreamWorks has purchased the film rights to the series. Deborah Forte and Steven Spielberg will produce, and Steven Spielberg is considering directing the project.” Way cool! The first book in the 39 Clues series, Maze of Bones, will be published September 9th.
  • I’m way behind on my literacy round-up news (and won’t get to it now until next week sometime, though I’m saving links). Meanwhile, Terry has you covered at The Reading Tub blog with her June 23rd Reading Round-Up.
  • Colleen Mondor’s recent post about “whether or not boys are emasculated by YA literature that does not allow them to be the hero” has sparked quite a bit of discussion. See her followup post here (with links to the original, and to some of the controversy). Kiera also has some links on the topic at Library Voice. The whole thing is fascinating, though depressing in many ways.
  • For another interesting discussion, check out this post at Chicken SpaghettiSusan asks some tough questions, in light of the even increasing number of KidLit blogs, like “Is it hard for a general non-kid-lit-affiliated person to know where to start reading? Are we bloggers reaching our target audience, and, if not, how do we do so?” Do check out the discussion in the comments.

And that’s it for today. 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).


Wednesday Afternoon Visits: June 18

From Jen Robinson’s Book Page

There is so much going on around the Kidlitosphere this week that I hardly know where to begin. But here you go:

  • The 2008 Boston Globe-Horn Book Awards were just announced. You can find the details here, at Read Roger. Also, the Association of Jewish Libraries has just named the 2008 Sydney Taylor Manuscript Award winner. The press release is here. And, for a different type of award, the Queen’s Birthday Honours List in in England includes people who received honors for services to Children’s Literature and Children’s Literacy. The Old Coot has the details.
  • Never one to shy away from expressing opinions, Betsy has posted her early 2009 Newbery and Caldecott predictions at A Fuse #8 Production. There is much discussion in the comments.
  • Colleen Mondor has a must-read post over at Guys Lit Wire in response to a discussion between Ted Bell and Glenn Beck about whether or not books that feature strong female protagonists are emasculating for boys. Colleen says things like this (in response to the notion that the boy needs to save the girl in fiction): “I’m sure the sociologists would have a field day over all this but I can’t believe that anyone in the 21st century would believe that such antiquated notions of what it means to be a hero have any place in a worthwhile discussion. Save the world - yes! Save the animals, save the environment, save whatever needs saving in your books. But the girl MUST be saved by the boy for the boy to feel powerful? How do these gentlemen think it makes the girl feel to have to wait to be saved? Have they ever thought about that at all?” Click through for more details. It’s well worth your time.
  • Did you notice how I just quoted Colleen above? If Colleen wrote for the AP, however, I could have been in big trouble for quoting her so entensively. It seems that the AP is going to try to start charging bloggers if they quote more than four words, and possibly even if they link to AP articles. I first heard about this from Kelly Herold at Big A little A, where Kelly linked to the story at Boing BoingMelissa Wiley then linked to Michael Arrington’s response at the Washington Post’s TechCrunch blog. It seems pretty clear to me that they’re trying to overstep the bounds of Fair Use, but the whole thing is pretty scary.
  • Another controversy around the blogs was started by Frank Cottrell Boyce, who recently made some very negative comments about YA as a genre. He said (as quoted on Tea Cozy): “We have already ghettoised teenagers’ tastes in music, in clothes and - God forgive us - in food. Can’t we at least let them share our reading? Is there anything more depressing than the sight of a “young adult” bookshelf in the corner of the shop. It’s the literary equivalent of the “kids’ menu” - something that says “please don’t bother the grown-ups”. If To Kill a Mockingbird were published today, that’s where it would be placed, among the chicken nuggets.” Needless to stay, this has stirred up a host of responses, at Read Alert and Bookwitch, for example. But start with Liz B’s remarks in defense of YA reading. I’m with her. 
  • A Year of Reading has a nice interview by Franki of Shelley Harwayne, author of the upcoming professional book Look Who’s Learning to Read. I don’t normally highlight reviews, but this was has lots of great information about raising readers, including suggestions like: “Children need choice. They love to be part of making decisions” and “Children deserve the finest literature. We need to be fussy about the books we borrow or buy for them.”
  • And at Lessons from the TortoiseLibby links to another interview that talks about raising readers. She says “In Literary Mama this monthLisa Harper interviews Lewis Buzbee about his writing and his parenting. It’s a fabulous interview.” I agree with Libby. It’s a great interview. Buzbee (a middle grade author) says things like “What I enjoy so much about middle readers is not merely the complexity of vocabulary or complexity of ideas, but also the complexity of emotions.” He talks about why he writes for this age range, and the importance of letting kids read the books that they’re interested in.
  • Over at Bookshelves of Doom, Leila is collecting suggestions of classics that are likely to please a voracious teen reader. There are tons of suggestions in the comments.
  • The First Book Blog has a guest post by Dale Brown from LDOnline about “encouraging reading this summer with some particular emphasis on supporting children who have a hard time in the classroom during the school year” (e.g. kids with dyslexia and other learning disabilities).
  • Also along the lines of summer reading, Anna M. Lewis at I.N.K. recommends some of her favorite nonfiction titles “to help keep kids happy this summer”.
  • In the interest of “practicing what (they) publish”, staff members from Charlesbridge spent Friday picking up trash along the Charles River.
  • Over at the Tiger’s Bookshelf at PaperTigers, Janet shares book recommendations from two British boys (aged nine and a half and seven and a half).
  • And speaking of books that boys like, Charlotte shares some thoughts at Charlotte’s Library about boys and reading. Specifically, she talks about the difficulty that she sometimes has as a parent purchasing books for her sons that aren’t the sort of thing that she would ever want to read, saying “it is hard, sometimes, for me to put the books my boys want into their outstretched and eager hands. It is much easier to buy books that appeal to me, than books that really truly don’t.” I actually think this dilemma is a major issue for a lot of people in getting boys reading - often the books that boys want to read just aren’t the ones that inspire the people who are guiding their reading choices.
  • There’s a bit of a mixer going on right now between Readergirlz and Guys Lit WireVia Guys Lit Wire, I learned that Readergirlz Diva Justina Chen Headley has invited “the readergirlz to list YA novels they wish all guys would read to understand girls”. Little Willowhas asked on GLW for readers to head over to the Readergirlz MySpace forum and make the discussion a two-way street. She says: “Tell us what YA novels you wish girls would read to understand guys, and vice-versa! Also tell us what YA novels “get” BOTH sides of the story.
  • At Pixie Stix Kids Pix, Kristen McLean has a series of tips for success in the children’s book industry. She has links to tons of great resources about writing and publishing children’s books.
  • And finally, sadly, I learned via Sharon Levin thatauthor/illustrator Tasha Tudor passed away today. I’ll never forget her for as long as I have the editions of The Secret Garden and A Little Princess that she illustrated (well, that copy of The Secret Garden was lost, but I just ordered another one). She leaves a truly magical legacy.

That’s all for today. I think I’m going to go look through my copy of A Little Princess now.

© 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).


Saturday Afternoon Visits: Father’s Day Edition

From Jen Robinson’s Book Page

Happy Father’s Day weekend to all of the dads out there, especially to my Dad and Mheir’s Dad. Thanks for all that you do for your kids every day. And extra special, super-duper thanks to the dad who read to to their kids (mine did, and look at how I love books!). The kidlit blogs have been pretty quiet this weekend, hopefully because people are out spending time with family. But here is some news for those who are interested:

  • If you’re in need of some reading that will make you appreciate what you have, check out Kelly’s poem at Big A little a about the recent tragedies in Iowa. Beware, though, it’s quite a tear-jerker. My heart goes out to the affected families.
  • I didn’t win it, but Kim and Jason at Escape Adulthood gave away a very cool book-themed clock this week. Click through to see it. Also, to enter the contest, Jason asked visitors to comment on “When you were a kid, what was your favorite time of day, and why?”. The result is a treasure trove of memories that I thought might be of interest to children’s book authors.
  • Lectitans has a nice summer reading round-up here. She links to lots of great resources.
  • The debate over age-banding of children’s books continues to rage. Tricia links to some new discussion on the matter at The Miss Rumphius Effect.
  • The recent flap over the new KidzBookBuzz blog tour site has prompted several bloggers to take a look at how and why they write reviews. Check out posts at Chasing RayThe Miss Rumpius Effect, and Becky’s Book Reviews, as well as a plethora of comments on these posts (especially on Tricia’s post). I shared my opinons hereGail Gauthier also offers an author’s perspective on the idea of whirlwind, three-day blog tours at Original Content (and I shared some opinions there, too, now that I think about it).
  • Kris B. at Paradise Found linked to an interesting site this week: BookTour (unrelated to the blog tours discussed above). You can enter your zip code, and the site shows you all of the authors who have upcoming events in your area. You can filter the list for, say, authors who write for kids. If you sign up, you can get a weekly email listing book tours in your area. I’m going to give it a try.
  • Speaking of events, I’ll be attending both the upcoming ALA Annual Conference in Anaheim and the BlogHer conference in San Francisco (the latter I’m currently planning to attend for Saturday only). This will be my first time attending ALA, and I’m looking forward to meeting up with some KidLit bloggers, meeting some authors, talking with some of the publishers’ PR people, and attending some of the events (like the Newbery banquet and the Edwards lunch). And, of course, I’m looking forward to scooping up a few, or more than a few, ARCs. I attended the first BlogHer conference in San Jose two years ago, and will be interested to see how that has evolved as a conference. If any of you are attending either event, and would like to meet up, just let me know.
  • Congratulations to Laurie Halse Anderson for winning the 2008 ALAN Award (from the Assembly on Literature for Adolescents). I first read about it here, at the CMIS Evaluation Fiction Focus blog. The full announcement is here, and you can read Laurie’s reaction here. Laurie rocks! She so deserves this award (and the dozens of congratulatory comments that she received are a strong indicator of this). She’s also organized a Hot Summer Twisted/Speak Book Trailer contest, with details here. This contest would be a great addition to anyone’s summer reading program for teens. 
  • And last, but definitely not least, don’t miss Jules’ post about early readers (and the other names that people use for this category of books) at 7-Imp. She’s got tons of great recommendations for parents in this hard-to-define category. Jules is one of my few “go-to” reviewers for books in this age range, and I’m bookmarking this one for future reference.

And that’s all for today. It’s a hot day here (as it is many places), and Mheir and I are planning to make margaritas, and watch the Red Sox on TV.

© 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).