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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Entries in Betsy Bird (7)

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).

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).

Monday
Dec142009

Quick Hits: December 14

From Jen Robinson’s Book Page

I’d like to share a couple of tidbits with you all this morning:

BooklightsFirst up, I have a new post at Booklights today. It’s the fifth entry in my Tips for Growing Bookworms series. This week’s tip is about taking children to libraries and bookstores. Timely for the holiday season, but a good practice year-round. I hope that you’ll check it out.

Next, many congratulations to Betsy Bird from A Fuse #8 ProductionJules Danielson from Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast and Peter D. Sieruta from Collecting Children’s Books on their new book contract. You can find their write-ups herehere, and here. This must-read title, due out from Candlewick in September of 2012, is tentatively titled Wild Things! : The True, Untold Stories Behind the Most Beloved Children’s Books and Their Creators. Very cool!

Third, Meghan Newton from Goodman Media shared a link with me today that I had somehow missed. It’s an article by Jon Scieszka from the Huffington Post, musing on the close of his tenure as National Ambassador of Children’s Literature. It’s classic Scieszka - breezy and fun, but full of concrete tips for helping reluctant readers. This is must-read stuff.

And:

Wishing you all a wonderful week!

© 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
Jul242009

Friday Afternoon Visits: July 24

From Jen Robinson’s Book Page

Here are a few links from around the Kidlitosphere, for your reading pleasure. Today’s installment is filled with controversy and thought-provoking discussion (rather surprising for a late-July Friday, but there you have it).

Controversy update #1Betsy Bird at Fuse #8 has some great links and commentary in response to the recent SLJ article by Diantha McBride that proposed changing some protagonists of children’s and young adult titles from girls to boys. I especially liked (and had already flagged myself) J. L. Bell’s response at Oz and Ends. He said: “McBride’s complaint is based on a false premise: that we’re drastically undersupplied with books about boys.” But Betsy suggests that there are an awful lot of books out there with pink covers, turning off YA male readers.

July23LiarControversy update #2Justine Larbalestier set off a true firestorm with a recent post in which she discussed the white model selected for the cover of her new book, Liar (which features a black teen). I mean, does that look like a girl who “is black with nappy hair which she wears natural and short”? Yeah, not so much. Justine said that she believes that this happened because of a pervasive belief in publishing that “black covers don’t sell.” Bloomsbury responded at PW, saying that the fact that the narrator of the book is compulsive liar led them to use the cover image to create ambiguity around the character’s race. As Colleen Mondor says: “This has to be the lamest and yet most predictable response I have ever come across from a publisher.” Lots of other people have had similar responses, Colleen has a compilation of many.

Parallel musings on an interesting topic: the pervasive connectedness that most of us have these days (Facebook, Twitter, email, blogs, etc.), and whether or not that poses a problem:

  • Sara Zarr (author of Story of a Girl and Sweetheartssaid: “We tend to see our Internet/technology addiction as a bad habit, I think, something about which we say, “I really should cut down…” Or we joke about it or Tweet about it. But it’s kind of a giant problem. We already know from research that the way our brain pathways work changes depending on what mental habits we’re in. If you’re like me and feel like you’ve developed ADD since web 2.0, you probably have.”
  • New Blackberry Pearl owner Kathy from Library Stew said: “Do I REALLY need to be connected 24 hours a day/7 days a week, even while at the beach??.. I have found that I do tend to spend too much time checking Facebook/Twitter/chatting online at night when I used to use that time to read, but then again using my phone to keep up with e-mail and things while sitting at football practice has been a great thing.”
  • I’ve been struggling with this a bit lately, too. For a while I had a Twitter newscrawler that popped up with new tweets whenever I was in Firefox. I had to turn that off - I felt it giving me ADD, just as Sara described. I have a Treo, and I love being able to read and file email and keep up with my Google Reader while I’m out and about. I’ll never have dead time while waiting in line somewhere, or sitting through a dull presentation, again. But I’m trying (with little success so far) to spend a bit less time on the computer when I’m at home. I’d like to do better at giving other things my full attention.

Literacy and Reading News reports that 1200 teachers have sent a letter to Scholastic saying “Don’t Use Us to Market Toys, Make-up, and Brands to Children in School”. Brian Scott says that the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood “sent the letter, signed exclusively by teachers, after a review of Scholastic’s 2008 elementary and middle school Book Club flyers found that one-third of the items for sale were either not books, like the M&M Kart Racing Wii videogame, or were books packaged with other products, such as lip gloss and jewelry.”

Susan Beth Pfeffer (author of my beloved Life As We Knew It and the dead and the gone) shares her response to discovering (via Google alert) an illegal download of one of her titles. While she’s not concerned that this will have any drastic affect on her own retirement, she says: “I really don’t know how writers starting out now and writers who are just on the verge of starting out are going to survive this kind of theft in years to come… The people who are stealing my works may well just be kids; they don’t understand that what they’re doing is as morally wrong as stealing my wallet.” This worries me, too.

Colleen Mondor has part 4 of her What a Girl Wants series at Chasing Ray, this time asking authors what subject areas in young adult fiction might be more important for teens than for adults. She asks: “just what sort of subjects do teen girls need to address in their reading that they can not simply find in adult titles. In other words, I asked the group why do we need YA titles for girls in particular and what those books could/should include.” 

On a lighter note, Sarah Mulhern from The Reading Zone shares her appreciation for pitcher Mark Buehrle’s perfect game yesterday for the White Sox (only the 18th in MLB history). She explains that she understood and appreciated the magnitude of Buehrle’s achievement because of what she’d learned from reading Alan Gratz’s The Brooklyn Nine. She says: “Isn’t that exactly what we want our students to do? Read, build schema, and then go out to read and learn more?” It’s a nice real-world illustration of one of the many, many benefits with which reading repays the devoted book-lover. 

Melissa from Book Nut is working on a list of 100 top middle grade titles. Her preliminary list looks pretty good - just reading it stresses me out a bit, because I wish that I had time to go re-read (or read for the first time) many of the books. I should warn Melissa, based on my own experience with the Cool Girls list, that suggestions will keep coming in, and it will be very difficult to get the list back down to 100.

Book-blogger-appreciation-weekPam Coughlan posts at Mother Reader about the upcoming Book Blogger Appreciation Week, and suggests that people ”nominate favorite KidLitosphere blogs for awards. Of course, you can nominate other non-KidLit/YA blogs, since there are plenty of categories in which to do so, but my pointhere is that the KidLitosphere needs to REPRESENT!” I have followed Pam’s suggestion (would I argue with a direct request from MotherReader? In caps? I think not!).

Smuggler_YA_finalIn related news, Angieville reports that the bloggers at The Book Smugglers “have just kicked off their Young Adult Appreciation Month, which runs from July 19 through August 15th… They’ve even extended an open invitation to anyone interested to send them a link to a post on YA lit or a review you’ve written of a YA book and they’ll post links to them all on August 15th—the last day of the celebrations.”

And a few quick hits:

  • Librarian Betsy Bird shares a lovely anecdote about why she has “the best job in the western hemisphere”.
  • Greg Pincus has a useful post at The Happy Accident about the 11 types of Twitter followers. I’ve already found this list helpful, as I manage my Twitter account (assessing “do I need to follow this person back?”, etc.)
  • Cheryl Rainfield found a site offering Curious George loungewear for adults.
  • Terry Doherty from The Reading Tub has a couple of questions, for which she’s seeking input from librarians. Can anyone help her out?
  • Congratulations to Kristin CashoreGraceling just won the Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Children’s Literature. Kristin’s response is here.
  • Funny story about a Twilight fan at my favorite non-kidlit blog, Not Always Right. (This was the only blog that I read regularly during a recent vacation - I love it).

© 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).

Saturday
Apr252009

Sunday Afternoon Visits: April 25

From Jen Robinson’s Book Page

Happy Birthday, Mom and Dad! (Yes, my parents have the same birthday - it’s pretty cool. And easy to remember.) I know I just did a Kidlitosphere round-up post a few days ago. But, I don’t know what to tell you. People keep posting interesting things. Plus, you know, these round-up posts make for a good task while watching baseball (Red Sox - Yankees this weekend!).

Zombie_chicken_awardFirst up, I received another award this week. Angie from Angieville was kind enough to give me a Zombie Chicken Award, in particular recognition of my Reviews that Made Me Want the Book features. Here’s the scoop: “The blogger who receives this award believes in the Tao of the zombie chicken - excellence, grace and persistence in all situations, even in the midst of a zombie apocalypse. These amazing bloggers regularly produce content so remarkable that their readers would brave a raving pack of zombie chickens just to be able to read their inspiring words. As a recipient of this world-renowned award, you now have the task of passing it on to at least 5 other worthy bloggers. Do not risk the wrath of the zombie chickens by choosing unwisely or not choosing at all…” Hmm.. do I risk the wrath of the Zombie Chickens, or do I stick to my policy of saying that everyone who I mention in my visits posts is a blog that I’m giving recognition? Quite a dilemma. Either way, I’m grateful to Angie - this is a particularly fun award.

Kidlitosphere_buttonAt Lectitans, Kimberly has a helpful post with 5 Ways to Use Kidlitosphere Central. I especially applaud her suggestions to use the resources at Kidlitosphere Central to make friends, and get involved in the community.

I’m thrilled to be in the middle of a few weeks at home between trips. However, Betsy Bird made me a bit sad that I’m not going to BEA this year, when she described at Fuse #8 a Day of Dialog that School Library Journal is putting together. It’s “a free, day-long program where librarians, editors, authors, and vendors meet to discuss the changing world of books, reading, and libraries”, complete with food from Little Brown, and a panel session moderated by Betsy. Maybe next year…

Caps for SaleSpeaking of Betsy, she’s up to #17 in her Top 100 Picture Books announcements (Caps for Sale by Esphyr Slobodkina). This list is already filled with amazing, amazing books, and you know that the remaining 16 are all going to be popular favorites. What I’m interested to see is how many of the top 15 are newly published books. Will there be any, or will it be all old favorites? Stay tuned!

OppositedayOver at Scholastic’s Ink Splot 26 blog, Karen W. has come up with a list of clever book titles in honor of “Opposite Day”. In my favorite, Because of Winn Dixie becomes In Spite of Safeway. Your suggestions are welcome in the comments.

In other made up book title news, the winner of the Bottom Shelf Books / Saints and Spinners Unnecessary Children’s Book Titles that Never Were contest was announced. Congratulations to Book Aunt Kate Coombs for coming up with “Harry and the Can of Purple Spray Paint”. Click through for the delightful illustration. 

Speaking of delightful illustrations, Eric Carle was just featured in Newsweek, with an article titled “The Surprising Dark Side of the Very Hungry Caterpillar”. Travis has the scoop at 100 Scope Notes.

At Original Content, Gail Gauthier has an interesting post pondering adult characters in children’s books. She asks: “Have we always felt that children should be center stage in children’s books? Or back in the day when books for children were more instructive were they filled with adult characters for them to model themselves upon?” There’s quite a discussion in the comments, including a response by author Tim Byrd, whose work is mentioned in the post.

As reported on many blogs, the shortlists for the Carnegie Award (the oldest children’s literature award in Britain) were announced this week. Charlotte has the list at Charlotte’s Library, and was the first person I saw to point out the fact that in all seven, the main characters are boys. Alison Flood of the Guardian also called it a “boysy” list. UK-based blogger Bookwitch is happy to have read and liked all seven titles, and approves of the boy-friendly slant, too.

StarclimberMeanwhile, over in Canada, the 2009 Ruth and Sylvia Schwartz Children’s Book Awards short lists were announced. You can find the list at Kids LitTasha is always up on the award news. Chester’s Back, which I loved, is on the picture book list. Starclimber, which I just reviewed last week, is on the young adult list.  

Two posts caught my eye this week from moms who are clearly doing well with the whole raising readers thing:

  • At Paradise Found, confronted by a son who finished four middle grade novels in one day, Kris Bordessa asks: “Do you ever tell your kids to stop reading? Would you, if they read four books daily? How much is too much?” There are bunches of comments in response to this question.
  • Jennifer from Snapshot shares her progress with daughter Amanda in their Read Together Challenge. She says of the challenge: “I have found the accountability great in encouraging my perseverance. When we finished this book, Amanda said, “We need to get another book we can read together.” I was glad that she is enjoying this effort as much as I am.” 

 And a few other quick hits:

© 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).