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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
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).

Sunday
Nov082009

Sunday Afternoon Visits: November 8

From Jen Robinson’s Book Page

It’s been a fairly quiet weekend on the kidlit blogs, for whatever reason. However, I have run across a few things of potential interest for you.

Jpg_book008At Scrub-a-Dub-Tub, Terry Doherty shares a monthly roundup of new literacy and reading-related resources. The new resources section was something that we spun out of our weekly children’s literacy roundups, in the event of streamlining those, and Terry’s been collecting ideas for this monthly column. I hope you’ll check it out. She’s got lots of useful tidbits.

NcblalogoThe NCBLA blog reports that the fourth episode of The Exquisite Corpse Adventure is now available. This installment was written by Susan Cooper. The post adds: “And if you need further incentive to share the Library of Congress and the NCBLA’s reading outreach project with the young people in your life, take a look at Timothy Basil Ering’s electric new illustration for Episode Four!”

In the context of a recent graphic novel kick, Gail Gauthier muses at Original Content on how many books are “rigidly” formulaic. She says: “Maybe reading the same formula/pattern/storyline over and over again assists them in some way I’ve just never heard about.” In the comments, Becky Levine adds: “I wonder about this often—how many things we see as formulaic, “old” don’t feel that way to a child reading them—since they don’t have X number of decades of this kind of reading behind them.” What do you all think?

At Books & Other ThoughtsDarla D. wonders whether it’s a good idea for parents to “ink out all of the bad words” in books before giving them to their children. Darla says: “A discussion between this parent and child about unacceptable language and why the parent believes it is not a good idea for her daughter to use those words might be more productive than expurgating the text.” There are a range of opinions in the comments - it’s quite an interesting (and civil) discussion.

At Biblio FileJennie Rothschild discusses Amazon’s new capability to quickly share Associates links on Twitter, in the context of the new FTC disclosure regulations. She notes: “the way I understand it, you’d have to disclose ON YOUR TWEET that you’ll make money off the link. But how does one fit a link, why you’re linking to the product, and a disclosure all in 140 characters? That, I don’t know.” I don’t know, either. The idea of being able to share a Tweet that says “I’m reading this” and then get a small commission if anyone should happen to click through and buy the book, well, that has some appeal. But I think that the disclosure would be very tricky to pull off in any meaningful way.

Bookwormdock-3-300x249Lori Calabrese has started a new monthly meme (possibly to become a weekly meme, if there’s sufficient interest) in which she’ll link to book giveaways around the Kidlitosphere. Don’t you love her cute logo for Fish for a Free Book? She says in the launch post: “If you are hosting a children’s- young adult book-related giveaway, sponsoring a giveaway, or just found a really awesome giveaway that you’d like to share with us, please leave it here! (Please make sure it’s children’s book related)”.

Speaking of giveaways, I, like Betsy Bird, don’t usually link to them in my roundups (there are just too many). However, Betsy recently talked at A Fuse #8 Production about one that I think is brilliant. From the press release: “The YA and MG authors of the 2009 Debutantes are giving away a 46-book set of their debut novels to ONE lucky library, anywhere in the world! In light of recent budget cuts to libraries in Pennsylvania, Ohio, and other communities, these debut authors would like to contribute their library to your library, offering up brand new novels for your patrons at no cost.” Pretty cool!

Quick hits:

And that’s it for today. Hope you’re all having a lovely Sunday.

© 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).

Friday
Oct302009

Friday Afternoon Visits: Halloween Eve

From Jen Robinson’s Book Page

Kidlitosphere_buttonThere’s been nonstop action around the Kidlitosphere this week. Here are a few highlights.

Halloween-themed posts abound this week. I, of course, liked this one from Joyce Grant at Getting Kids ReadingHallowe’en Literacy: Some ideas for working literacy into your Hallowe’en festivities. Like “Do a Hallowe’en recipe together. A perfect combination of math, reading and - yum!” Also, via a link from Katie B’s First Book’s Odds and Bookends column, bookish Halloween costume ideas from Laura Nathan. And Roberta Gibson at Wrapped in Foil is mulling giving out books for Halloween, inspired by a Books for Treats promotion in the comic strip Luann. And Pam Coughlan profiles three books about monsters at Booklights.

I found an interesting article about adults reading young adult fiction via @DonalynBooks and @TheReadingZone on Twitter. The Courier-Journal.com article by Erin Keane says “Young adult fiction’s appeal has grown way beyond the school library. What was once considered entertainment for kids has become big business for adults, who are increasingly turning to the children’s section for their own reading pleasure, according to publishing experts.”

As for what teens themselves enjoy reading, Publisher’s Weekly recently published the results of a TeenReads.com survey about teens’ reading habits. See Carol Fitzgerald’s article for details. Roger Sutton comments at Read Roger that “The most interesting statistic of this teen reading survey concerns who responded to it: “while we purposely marketed the survey to attract male readers, females are the vast majority (96%) of responders.”“

In other news about teen readers, Becky Levine shares a lovely story about boys excited for a book signing by Eoin Colfer. She says: “I hear SO much about boys not liking books, about losing boys from reading as they get into their teens. I watch my son and, too often, see him as the exception–myself as the lucky parent who gets to keep sharing this with her son. Last night, I realized he’s not the exception and neither am I. Write for the boys, folks. They’re here, and they’re starving for more books to read, more books that show them why theywant to write, too.”

My blog was included in recent lists of 101 Book Blogs You Need to Read and 100 Best Book Blogs for Kids, Tweens, and Teens by Online Universities. I especially liked the second list, because lots of my blogging friends are on it, too. Both lists are diverse, classified, and annotated. Although, as you know, I’m not a huge fan of “bests” in reference to blogs, I am happy to be in such good company.

Speaking of bests, Susan Thomsen has started her annual list of lists of best children’s books of 2009 at Chicken Spaghetti. She explains: “Last year I started compiling all the year-end “best of” lists in newspapers, magazines, and other sources. I added in many of the various children’s literature prizes throughout the year, too. (You can peruse “The Best of the Best: Kids’ Books ‘08” right here.) A person who chooses titles from these lists will read—and give and recommend to children—many good books.”

Still speaking of bests, Amazon is counting down their 100 best books of the year at Omnivoracious. You can find books 20 to 11 here, with links to the previous lists. I’ve been particularly happy to see The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate (#83), Shiver (#62), Catching Fire (#42), The Last Olympian (#29), and When You Reach Me (#21). That’s some representation for children’s and young adult literature in the overall list. I mean, I’d like to see more, but I agree with the titles that they did include.

Cybils2009-150pxIf you’re going to be around New York City next Saturday, November 7th, there’s an excellent Cybils-themed Literary Cafe being hosted by Betsy Bird at the new Children’s Center at 42nd St. You can find details in this post/news release at A Fuse #8 Production. Panelists will include Pam CoughlanElizabeth BurnsSusan Thomsen, and Anne Boles Levy. I’ll tell you - this is one of those rare occasions when I wish I still lived in the Northeast.

Speaking of Betsy Bird and of Amazon, Betsy provoked quite a controversy recently when she asked some pointed questions about Amazon’s Vine reviewer program. She said things like “the Vine reviewers are sometimes not the best representative readers for books that are a little different” and “The difference being that you can rely on a professional reviewer to give insightful commentary and acknowledge a book’s intended audience, and you can determine whether or not a blog reviewer is the kind of person you want looking over your product. And you don’t even have to pay us. The Vine folks, by contrast, are not professional reviewers and yet they enjoy a newfound #1 status of sorts.” The comments about “professional reviewers” vs. not seem to have caused the most sting for people. Me, I tried the Vine program very briefly, and didn’t like it. I didn’t like the idea of having to review books I was lukewarm about in order to receive more books (though I can see that requiring a certain number of reviews is necessary for this type of program). But I think that Betsy raises some issues worth thinking about. See also Kate Messner’s take.

Colleen Mondor took on this Vine controversy at Chasing Ray, tied it in with two other recent conflicts, and noted one alarming overall issue that connects the three. She says: “I wanted to point this all out to emphasize the many small ways in which book choice is constantly under attack. It’s not just banning that is a problem, in some ways that is the least of our problems because at least it is obvious. We know who to fight and when. The removal of choice in places big and small is insidious however and it’s easy to lose sight of but we need to be thinking about it and doing what we can to combat it all the time.” The comments there, though not as extensive as the ones at Betsy’s, are similarly mixed.

Liz B points out at Tea Cozy one more must-read article about the FTC Guidelines for BloggersOlgy Gary typed up a detailed transcript of Mary Engle’s session at KidLitCon, and then sent it to Mary for editing/approval. The result is an sanctioned transcript of the discussion - well worth your time. You can find it at Olgy’s Children Come First website. Olgy, a first-time attendee to KidLitCon, is clearly going to be an asset to the Kidlitosphere. Also at Tea Cozy, Liz highlights Cynthia Leitich Smith’s blogCynsations, in the latest of her Kidlitosphere profile features.

I’d like to offer a fond blogging farewell to Eisha from Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast. After co-founding 7-Imp with Jules (who will still be blogging there), Eisha has decided to move on to pursue other interests. I’m glad that she’s found other things to interest her, but she’ll certainly be missed in the Kidlitosphere. See also Tanita Davis’ farewell to Eisha at Finding Wonderland.

Quick hits:

And that’s all for today. I’ll be catching up on some literacy news this weekend for Monday’s roundup. Wishing you all a festive and freakish Halloween.

© 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
Jul192009

Sunday Afternoon Visits: July 19

From Jen Robinson’s Book Page

Here is some news from around the Kidlitosphere this week:

Twitter_logo_headerBonnie Adamson and Greg Pincus have initiated a weekly Twitter chat about children’s and young adult literature. Greg reports that the next chat will be held Tuesday night at 6:00 pm PST. The tag for participants is #kidlitchat. I am on Twitter these days (@JensBookPage), but am still working my way up to the “chatting” level of interactivity. But I hear that the first chat, held last week, was quite successful.

Karen from Euro Crime and Teenage Fiction for All Ages links to a pbpulse article about how women of all ages are enjoying urban fantasy novels. It says: “The economy may be deeply troubled, but urban fantasy novels about vampires, werewolves, zombies, supernatural creatures, blood and romance are booming, and women are sinking their teeth into them in ravenous numbers.”

There was also a recent Wall Street Journal article that talked about the high quality of literary young adult fiction. Cynthia Crossen recommended YA fiction for older adults, saying: “Good YA is not dumbed-down adult fare; it’s literature that doesn’t waste a breath. It doesn’t linger over grandiloquent descriptions of clouds or fields, and it doesn’t introduce irrelevant minor characters in the hope (too often gratified) that the book will be called Dickensian.” Thanks to Laurie Halse Anderson for the link.

And speaking of people reading books originally written for a young audience, Jennie from Biblio File shares her thoughts on reading regardless of level. She said that she tells parents: “Everyone should always be reading something below level, something above level, and something at level. This mixture is what lets us grow as readers.” 

Daphne Lee from The Places You Will Go shares tips on reading aloud with kids, including how to choose books, how to tell a story well, and dos and don’ts. I liked: “Don’t preach. Try not to use stories to teach children a lesson or make a point unless the message can be arrived at through discussion.” See also, via We Be Reading, Neil Gaiman’s excellent answer to a parent’s question about reading aloud.

Farida Dowler from Saints and Spinners brought to my attention a recent Amazon incident, in which the company remotely deleted from people’s Kindles books that they had purchased (due to a copyright issue). In a particularly ironic twist, one of the books in question was Orwell’s 1984. Farida draws a parallel with my own experience of lost books (that one due to flooding), noting how upsetting it would be to have a good that you bought vanish before your eyes. This is not making people more likely to buy Kindles, that’s for sure.

At The Spectacle, Joni Sensel asks whether people who read a lot could be doing “too much of a good thing”, at the expense of their real lives. I’m not sure where I stand on this, but there’s some thought-provoking discussion in the comments. I also appreciated the comments on a recent Spectacle post by Parker Peevyhouse responding to a suggestion made by a librarian that authors change their protagnists from girls to boys, to increase readership.

Speaking of thought-provoking posts, Colleen Mondor has a third installment in her What A Girl Wants series, this time various authors discuss issues related to including diversity in books. She asks questions like: “Do you think that writers and publishers address this identity issue strongly enough and in a balanced matter in current teen fiction? Can authors write characters of different race/ethnicity or sexual preference from their own and beyond that, what special responsibility, if any, do authors of teen fiction have to represent as broad a swath of individuals as possible?” See also Lisa Chellman’s response to this topic at Under the Covers.

Book-blogger-appreciation-weekAmy from My Friend Amy recently announced the second Book Blogger Appreciation Weekcomplete with its own website. BBAW will be held September 14-18. Amy calls it: “A week where we come together,  celebrate the contribution and hard work of book bloggers in promoting a culture of literacy, connecting readers to books and authors, and recogonizing the best among us with the Second Annual BBAW Awards. There will be special guest posts, daily blogging themes, and giveaways.” You can register to participate, and also nominate your favorite blogs for awards in various categories. See also, from Natasha at Maw Books: Ten Reasons Why Book Blogger Appreciation Week is So Cool. I had a fun time participating last year - it was nice connecting with the larger book blogging community (not just children’s and young adult books), and I discovered new blogs that I still read every day.

And finally, some quick hits:

  • Jay Asher has been posting pictures from a recent trip to Boston. Having grown up in that part of the country, I enjoyed seeing his travelogue, most especially this post. Scroll down to see Jay climbing onto Mrs. Mallard’s back.
  • I found an interesting article at Socialbrite by Josh Catone about 10 Ways to Support Charity through Social Media. (h/t to Barbara H for pointing me to Socialbrite in the first place).
  • GreenBeanTeenQueen asks bloggers and librarians to all just get along, suggesting ways that bloggers can embrace librarians and vice versa.
  • Becky Laney has last week’s Poetry Friday Roundup at Becky’s Book Reviews. Sarah has last week’s Nonfiction Monday Roundup at In Need of Chocolate (one of my favorite blog names). And the July issue of Notes from the Horn Book is now available (via Read Roger).
  • At Escape Adulthood, Jason Kotecki shares a great list of 22 family-friendly movies from the 80’s. Such flashbacks! E.T. The Karati Kid. Ghostbusters! Click through for more. They also have some fun new t-shirts available, including Red Rover, Rock Paper Scissors, etc.
  • MotherReader has in which she expresses her recent conference envy and rounds up an array of reports from the American Library Association conference.
  • On a less light-hearted note, Pam (aka MotherReader) links to some articles with important implications for book bloggers. Lots of good discussion in the comments.
  • And speaking of my Booklights cohorts, Susan Kusel has a great post about her experiences at the Newbery / Caldecott banquet, including chatting with Newbery winner Neil Gaiman.

And that’s all for tonight. Terry Doherty will have a full literacy and reading news round-up at The Reading Tub tomorrow. Over at Booklights, I’ll be following up on last week’s post about series titles featuring adventurous girls, with a few user-suggested additions.

© 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).