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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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Entries in Book Reviews (9)

Saturday
Oct182008

Saturday Evening Visits: October 18

From Jen Robinson’s Book Page

The FireI haven’t spent as much time working on my blog this weekend as usual, because I’ve been consumed by a couple of books. The Eight, by Katherine Neville, is one of my favorite books - an adult thriller/romance/historical epic/mystery. However, it had been several years since I last read it. When the sequel, The Fire, came out this week, I had to sit down and re-read The Eight first, before diving into The Fire. I’ve felt a bit guilty about neglecting my blog, but I had to remind myself that I started my blog because I love books. And it’s really not right for the blog to keep me from being consumed by books, is it? But anyway, here are some links that I saved up from the week.

The Reading Tub website has a gorgeous new look. The Reading Tub is one of my favorite resources for encouraging young readers. They have hundreds of profile pages for books, with details like recommendations for age to read together vs. read yourself, whether to borrow or buy, and read-alikes. The Reading Tub also has related links and reading resources, and an excellent blog that features reading news. If you have a few minutes, do check out their new website.

Over at The Reading Zone, Sarah has a nice post about helping struggling readers to find the perfect book. She warns: “It can take weeks to find something that a reluctant and struggling reader can read and wants to read.  There will be a lot of abandoned books along the way.” But she offers concrete suggestions to help. I think this is a must-read post for anyone new to recommending books for struggling readers.

My VerboCity reports (a story originally from Publisher’s Weekly) the Simon & Schuster is going to be releasing eBooks for cell phones. Some of the Nancy Drew mysteries will be available at the program’s launch, to drive initial interest.

Mary and Robin at Shrinking Violet Promotions (with much help from their devoted readers) have made tremendous progress in drafting their Introvert’s Bill of Rights. If you’re an Introvert, or you live with one, this is required reading. See also Robin’s post about the benefits of spending some time unplugged. I followed her advice, and turned my computer off at noon on Friday. I later checked email on my phone, but wished that I hadn’t… I do think there’s something to be said for spending more time away from the computer, to provide clear mental space.

Liz Burns writes at Tea Cozy about some important purposes of book reviews, including the reasons why professional book reviews “won’t be going away anytime soon.” She proposes that “instead of cutting back book reviews, newspapers and magazines should be increasing the book-talk that appears on their websites.” Liz’s post was quoted on GalleyCat, and sparked some further discussion there.

Trevor Cairney has a post at Literacy, Families, and Learning about a key theme in children’s literature: death. He notes that “Literature can helps parents, in particular, to discuss the reality of death with their children. Books that address death can be read with children and by children themselves as a source of insight, comfort and emotional growth.” Trevorsuggests some books that deal with, but haven’t been specifically written to address, death (like Bridge to Terebithia).

Lisa Chellman reports that Cavendish is launching a line of contemporary classic reissues. She says: “This is truly a labor of love. I mean, presumably Cavendish expects to make some money from this line, but they’re tracking down all sorts of rights and artwork to make this happen while looking at a pretty strictly library and indie bookstore market.” Lisa also shares some books about out of the ordinary princesses.

The PaperTigers blog offers multicultural reading group suggestions for young readers. Janet explains: “At PaperTigers, we are deeply committed to books on multicultural subjects that bring differing cultures closer together. So of course the books on our little list are novels that we think will accomplish that, while they keep their readers enthralled and provide the nourishment for spirited book group discussions.”

Laura writes at Children’s Writing Web Journal about staying young as a children’s book writer. She says: “Whenever I’m feeling more mature than I’d like, I read children’s books. A great book for kids pulls me right back to my childhood. A stellar novel for young adults makes me feel like a teen again, only now I’ve got some perspective on the experience and can actually laugh about it.”

The Hunger GamesOn a related note, Gail Gauthier links at Original Content to a School Library Journal article about teen books that adults will enjoy. I can think of lots of other titles that could have been listed in the article (The Hunger Games comes immediately to mind), but right now I’m just happy that articles like this are being written.

The latest edition of Just One More Book! asks how old is too old for reading aloud. Several commenters report that it’s never too old for read-aloud, which makes me very happy. Everything I’ve ever read on this topic suggests that parents should keep reading aloud to their kids for as long as their kids will let them.

Speaking of reading aloud, Cynthia Lord shares a lovely story about reading aloud to her daughter, and a whole waiting room full of other people, around Christmastime. She concludes, speaking to the author of the book she was reading, “ As authors we get to do something that very few people get to do. We get to matter in the lives of complete strangers. Barbara Robinson, you’ve mattered in mine.” Isn’t that lovely?

ChainsThis has been written about pretty much everywhere, but just in case you missed it, the National Book awards were announced this week. I first saw the short list for Young People’s Literature at Read Roger. The titles are: The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart (Hyperion); The Underneath by Kathi Appelt (Atheneum); Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson (Simon and Schuster); What I Saw and How I Lied by Judy Blundell (Scholastic); The Spectacular Now by Tim Tharp (Knopf). Chains is high up on my to-read list, and I am especially happy for Laurie Anderson.

Justine Larbalestier takes on the topic of editing titles originally published in foreign countries to Americanize them. I hate this, too. As a kid, I loved figure out what British words like lift and pram and jumper meant.

At Greetings from Nowhere, Barbara O’Connor shares ”timelines that kids made focused on books that were important to them at various points in their lives.” I love this idea (and the examples shown). What a way to celebrate the love of reading!

Sp0112x2Finally, I so want this notepad, which Betsy linked to at Fuse #8. It says “I will do one thing today. Thing:”. Brilliant!

And that’s all for tonight. I’ll just conclude by saying: how ’bout those Red Sox!!

© 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).

Monday
Jul142008

Monday Night Visits: Blog Identity Crisis Edition

From Jen Robinson’s Book Page

So I did my usual Sunday visits post yesterday, and that was all well and good. Except that today, interesting posts simply exploded across the Kidlitosphere. So I’m back with a few additions. (Perhaps feeling extra keen to report on the news, after Daphne Grab kindly included me in a Class of 2k8 round-up of recommended resources for kidlit industry news).

  • First up, my sympathies go out to Jules and Eisha, the proprietors of Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast. They are experiencing a bout of what I like to call “blog focus angst” (though they call it an identify crisis), and they write about it eloquently. Feeling worn down under the pressure of review books and the time required to write the long, thoughtful, link-filled reviews that are their trademark, they’ve decided to pull things back a bit. And who can blame them? I often feel the same way (especially when I actually look at the number of review books that I’ve accumulated recently), and it’s clear from the comments that many other people do, too. I’m just glad that they’ll still be keeping 7-Imp, and modifying it to fit their own busy lives a bit better. Colleen Mondor offers support at Chasing Ray, too.
  • And, in an ironic counterpoint, given the pressure that bloggers are putting on themselves to write thoughtful book reviews, another article (from the Guardian) takes on the print vs. online reviews debateLiz B. offers up her customary insightful analysis of the piece at Tea Cozy. I think that a particularly important point Liz makes is that “there isn’t a lot of print coverage of children’s/YA books, so the blogosphere fills that vacuum.”
  • Meanwhile, Kim and Jason from the Escape Adulthood site are suggesting, as their tip of the week, that readers “Spend 15 – 30 minutes doing something you love that you don’t often have the chance to do.” As Kim points out, ” If you cannot find 15-30 minutes on a regular basis to do something you love, then what’s the point?” Words to live by, I’d say. If our blogs, which started out as a way to talk about our love of reading, become work, then it’s up to us to make them enjoyable again.
  • Kiera Parrott at Library Voice is starting a new reluctant reader pick of the week feature. First up is Jellaby. I think it’s a great idea, and I’ll be watching for her other recommendations. (Though, I hope that Kiera doesn’t put pressure on herself with this weekly schedule - see identify crisis above).
  • Sheila at Greenridge Chronicles has a lovely post about what her family has learned from readalouds (including books by Laura Ingalls Wilder, J. K. Rowling, and Diana Wynne Jones).
  • And if you’re looking to read to escape, Newsweek has an article about the rise of post-apocalyptic fiction aimed at kids. Lots of people are quoted, including Susan Beth Pfeffer (hat-tip to Sue for the link). The article, by Karen Springen, discusses the suitability of such books for kids, and also touches on “potent political messages” embedded in some of the books.
  • And, if you really want to escape, check out Franki Sibberson’s list of books for kids who like Captain Underpants, at Choice Literacy (linked from A Year of Reading). Franki adds “if we are thinking of summer reading lists like this—connecting kids to books based on books they love, kids would have lots of ownership over what they read.”
  • Walter Minkel shares a couple of summer literacy links from Reading Rockets at The Monkey Speaks.
  • And finally, Becky from Becky’s Book Reviews weighs in on the Summer Reading List question. Becky points out (among other insights) that (on the topic of required reading) “You cannot force someone to enjoy something. Requiring something means it’s work. And it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that once something becomes work, it loses its ability to be fun. Work is tedious. It’s mundane. It’s something to be endured.” And so we’ve come full circle with the 7-Imps post, in which Jules said: “I’ve also felt obligated to write about these books after I read them (even if I find fault with the writing), and I just really, REALLY want to read something and not have to report on it. To be thrilled about reading a book and then putting it down, instead of spending one or two hours to write about it….well, that tells me something. I feel like I’m doing to myself what we do to children when we give them programs like Accelerated Reader: Don’t just read and enjoy it. You must take a quiz now. I know I’M DOING THAT TO MYSELF.” Definitely a common theme going on today - don’t take something you enjoy and turn it into work. And especially don’t do that to kids.

Here’s wishing you all 15-30 minutes (at least) to do something that you enjoy.

© 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
Jun142008

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).

Thursday
Jun052008

Thursday Afternoon Visits: June 5

From Jen Robinson’s Book Page

I’m getting ready to participate in MotherReader’s 48 Hour Book Challenge this weekend, which means that I won’t have a lot of time for round-up type blog posts. But I will be blogging about the books. For those not participating in the book challenge, I leave you now with a few quick links:

  • The next Carnival of Children’s Literature, to be hosted by Susan Taylor Brown, will focus on fathers in children’s literature. Submit your posts here. This is fitting both because of Father’s Day, and because Susan wrote about a wonderful father in her novel Hugging the Rock. Links for the Carnival are due Saturday, June 21st.
  • Speaking of Father’s Day, see this post at the FirstBook Blog by guest blogger Tina Chovanec about the importance of fathers in getting kids reading. Tina reports, for example, that “studies show that when fathers participate in learning, their children receive higher marks, enjoy school more, and are less likely to repeat a grade.”
  • Sally Apokedak’s blog All About Children’s Books was one of the first blogs that I read when I discovered the Kidlitosphere. Sally signed off a year or two ago for various reasons, but recently brought her blog back online. She’s also started a new project called KidzBookBuzz.com. Through the site, she’ll be coordinating various blog tours, during which a collection of people all blog about the same book over a two- to three-day period, to raise the buzz level for those books. The posts can be reviews or other mentions of the book - they don’t have to be interviews (though interviews are typically what I think of when I think of a blog tour). Publishers will be asked to provide review copies (and apparently will be paying the organizers for the service). If you’re interested, check out the requirements for participating, here. I’ve decided to sit this one out, because I find that organized blog activities, where other people set the date, turn out to be stressful for me [updated to admit, after reading more about it, that something didn’t feel quite right about it], but Sally already has a number of bloggers and authors lined up. [Updated to add: if you’re going to consider this, please do see Colleen Mondor’s post about it first. She raises some serious concerns.]
  • The ESSL Children’s Literature Blog has a great list of baseball books and related links, posted by Nancy O’Brien.
  • The Horn Book’s Web Watching with Rachel column, a companion to the new print issue of The Horn Book, is now available.
  • Guys Lit Wire has been off to a strong start, with tons of interesting post (and I’ve heard positive feedback from several people outside of the target teenage guy audience). I was especially intrigued by this post from Mr. Chompchomp about speculative nonfiction, which “addresses “what if” questions, but instead of turning to wacky stories about aliens and dragons, answers them with research and facts and just a little bit of educated surmising.”
  • Melissa from Book Nut is looking for book suggestions for her bibliovore daughter, who reads so rapidly that they’re having trouble keeping her in books. It is, as she says, a good problem to have. But if you have any book suggestions for “a precocious reader, reading at a 10th grade level (who is) not quite 12” do share. Or, if you need book suggestions, check out the already-extensive comments, which include titles old and new.
  • I learned from A Fuse #8 Production today about a new blog by NYPL librarian Kiera Manikoff called Library Voice. I love it already, especially this post about The (Reluctant) Reader’s Bill of Rights. Kiera includes things like “The right to choose whatever book you want,” and asks for other suggestions.
  • And speaking of librarian blogs that I like (of which there are many), check out this post by Abby (the) Librarian, about attending a local elementary school’s family reading night. Abby includes observations like this: “The evening started off with 15 minutes of silent reading in the school’s gym. Families were asked to bring books, and books were provided for those who forgot. I think this is a simple activity that says a lot. It’s important for kids to view reading as a pleasurable activity. Kids look up to their parents and caregivers and if they see grownups who love to read, they’ll want to join in the fun.”
  • Another blog that I’ve recently discovered is debrennersmith: Writing and Reading Lessons. Deb is a literacy consultant. She had a post the other day called: Any Place a Child is Reading, about her joy in the fact that her children love books: “I am thankful that my two children never had to be coaxed to read! Read. Read. Read. Read. They read over the 2 million words by reading over 41 minutes a day so they developed a life long habit. The kids are reading for the joy of being lost in a book.” I’m happy for Deb, but I wish that every kid could have the chance to feel this way about books…
  • Just in time for summer reading, Cheryl Rainfield has a round-up of various contests for free books. Personally, I’m feeling pretty well set for books at the moment, but perhaps I’ll check the list out again after I finish the 48 Hour Book Challenge.
  • Stephanie Ford from The Children’s Literature Book Club is working on a very cool project: a Children’s Literature Alphabet (E is for Eloise, etc.). She’s looking for suggestions for some of the less common letters (like Q and X). But it’s worth visiting just to see all the great pictures she’s already included (not sure what she can actually do with this, given copyright issues, but the idea is just for flashcards to use at home).
  • I’m not sure when I’ll get my next Children’s Literacy Round-Up ready, but in the meantime, do check out Terry’s latest Reading Round-Up at the Reading Tub blog. She’s got all the top literacy and reading news stories from the past few days. 
  • Over at Tea Cozy, Liz B. has the scoop on a reading news controversy - the plan to label children’s books by age range in the UK. Actually, Liz summarizes the controversy, and shares the relevant links, and then goes into detail about the more general need for readers advisory and book matching. She argues “We (librarians) — not an age on a book — are the best help to someone who is looking for the right book for a child. And we need to let more people know that.” But even among the comments on Liz’s post, it’s clear that age-banding of books is not a clear-cut issue.

That should give anyone who needs it some reading material to tide you over this weekend. Or, you could always watch the NBA playoffs instead. (How ’bout those Celtics?)

© 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).

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