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 Colleen Mondor (6)

Wednesday
Aug122009

Wednesday Afternoon Visits: August 12

From Jen Robinson’s Book Page

This week’s posts around the Kidlitosphere have been filled with reminders about why I love this community so much. I’ll probably be back with more over the weekend, but wanted to share these links with you all now.

Mitali Perkins shares photos from her recent visit to Prince Edward Island, home of Green Gables. She says: “As an oft-displaced child, I borrowed roots from my favorite authors. L.M. Montgomery’s novels made Prince Edward Island one of my many homes.”

Speaking of lovely places to spend a summer day, check out this post at Cynthia Lord’s blog. Her husband John is the  most amazing photographer. I always enjoy his photos, but this one, of two Adirondack chairs facing sunset over a lake … truly gorgeous. Click through. However your day is going, it will make you feel better. [And to my friend summering in Truro, this one made me think of you.]

If those first two links didn’t offer enough travel for you, Colleen Mondor’s One Shot Southeast Asia round-up post is now available at Chasing Ray. There are tons of great entries, too many for me to mention here. But I did especially like seeing Liz B feature PaperTigers at Tea Cozy.  

At Wild Rose Reader, Elaine Magliaro announces the August Small Graces auction from Grace Lin. Elaine says: “All the proceeds from the Small Graces auctions will benefit The Foundation for Children’s Books, a small non-profit organization in Boston that is making a big difference in the lives of young readers by bringing children’s book authors and illustrators into under-served schools in the Greater Boston area for visits and residencies.” This month’s painting is beautiful and sunny.

Jennie has a new project at Biblio File, a Reading Challenges Clearinghouse. She says: “This blog will post (and link) to all the reading challenges out there for all types of book blogs. The long ones, the short ones, the serious, and the silly.” So, if you are hosting or participating in a reading challenge, do let Jennie know. (I personally have enough trouble keeping up with my reading, without adding challenges to the mix, but I know that a lot of people love them).

Angiegirl at Angieville writes about stubborn girls (in literature) and why she likes them. She highlights three of her favorites, and concludes: “In the end, I guess I’m just a ridiculously firm believer in the kind of heroines Robin McKinley (an excellently stubborn girl herself) refers to as “girls who do things.”“

Newlogorg200Someone else who I suspect appreciates stubborn girls (in life and literature) is Tanita Davis (have you read Mare’s War?). Tanita has a wonderful guest post at the Readergirlz blog about mothers and daughters. She shares some family memories, and photos, too. Go, read. It’s lovely.

Tanita also shares, at Finding Wonderland, an announcement about a call for young adult writing submissions for e-Publishing company Verb Noire. They’re looking for: “original works of genre fiction (science fiction/fantasy/mystery/romance) that feature a person of color and/or LGBT as the central character.”

Kidlitosphere_buttonAnd finally, another must-read post from Pam Coughlan at MotherReader. Pam summarizes her position of several topics currently in discussion around the Kidlitosphere, from review copy envy to the idea of making money from blogs. Not surprisingly, I thought that she was dead on. There’s some good discussion in the comments, too. Pam suggests (not for the first time) that we as a community: “spend some time educating ourselves about the issues, discussing the possible implications, and drafting our personal policies.” She asks: “What does it mean to you to Blog with Integrity?”

See what I mean? This is such a great community. Hope you found some food for thought, or just some news to make you smile.

© 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
Aug092009

Sunday Afternoon Visits: August 9

From Jen Robinson’s Book Page

I’ve been a bit out of the blogging loop this week, due to the presence of houseguests. But I’m slowly getting myself back to normal, and have some news to share with you from around the Kidlitosphere.

Kidlitosphere_buttonFirst and foremost in Kidlitosphere news, Pam Coughlan (MotherReader and Kidlitosphere Central founder) has announced the preliminary agenda for the Third Annual Kidlitosphere Conference (aka KidLitCon). A registration form is now available with full details. If you blog about children’s or young adult books, or you’re thinking of blogging about children’s or young adult books, you should come. If you write or edit children’s or young adult books, or you are a teacher, librarian, or literacy advocate, and you are thinking about dipping a toe into the Kidlitosphere, you should come, too. The conference will be held at the Sheraton Crystal City Hotel in Virginia on October 17th. I attended the conference the past two years, and I simply can’t recommend it highly enough. It’s going to be great!!

LiarThe other big news in the Kidlitosphere this week is that Bloomsbury responded to the huge outcry about the cover of Justine Larbalestier’s upcoming young adult novel Liar. The publisher maintains that their original choice to put a white teen on the cover of a book about an African-American teen was “symbolic” (reflecting the character’s nature as a liar), rather than a response to perceptions about the market for book covers showing people of color. Regardless, they have decided to change the cover to one more representative of the book, and I think that’s great news (in no small part because people will no longer have to conflicted over whether to buy the book or not). I also find the whole thing to be an excellent demonstration of the power of the literary blogosphere. The new cover was first reported in Publisher’s Weekly’s Children’s Bookshelf, and has since been commented upon pretty much everywhere. (See Justine’s response here).

Also, if you’re thinking of starting a blog (and especially if you are thinking of ways to make money from book blogging), I recommend checking out Liz B’s recent piece at A Chair, A Fireplace and A Tea Cozy about the business of publishing and blogs. Specifically, Liz discusses the question of whether or not bloggers could accept advertising from authors or publishers without the integrity (and/or perceived integrity) of their reviews being compromised. Liz’s own view on this is pretty clear: “I do not believe that basically becoming an employee/independent contractor of a publisher/publicist (let’s be realistic, authors don’t have that kind of money) would ultimately allow for a website/blog, in its entirely, to remain objective, critical, and uninfluenced by the publisher.” I agree with her.   

Speaking of Liz, kudos to her for having a recent School Library Journal cover story with Carlie Webberas announced here. It’s called When Harry Met Bella: Fanfiction is all the rage. But is it plagiarism? Or the perfect thing to encourage young writers?

In excellent kidlit news, Camille reports at BookMoot that the young adult novel Airborn, by Kenneth Oppel, is currently in orbit around the International Space Station. According to a press release: “astronaut Robert Thirsk, currently aboard the International Space Station with fellow Canadian Julie Payette, has brought with him two books by Canadian authors – Airborn by Kenneth Oppel and Deux pas vers les étoiles by Jean-Rock Gaudreault.” Having been saying for years that I think that adults should read children’s books, I am thrilled by this high-profile example.

Last week’s Poetry Friday roundup was at The Miss Rumphius Effect. Tomorrow’s Nonfiction Monday roundup will be at MotherReader (updated to add direct link to the post here).

Also this week, Colleen Mondor is hosting a One-Shot blogging event in celebration of Southeast Asia. She says: “the basic rules are simple - you post at your site on a book either set in SE Asia or written by a SE Asian author and send me the url. I’ll post a master list with links and quotes here on Wednesday.”

I don’t normally highlight blog birthdays in these roundup posts (because I read so many blogs - there are blog anniversaries happening all the time). But I did want to extend special congratulations to Tasha Saecker, who has now been blogging at Kids Lit for SIX YEARS. As Pam said in the comments, that’s like being 40 in blog years. Tasha has demonstrated style, integrity, and a passion for children’s literature all along the way. If you’re thinking of starting a children’s book blog, I encourage you to make a study of Kids Lit - Tasha will steer you right. Happy Birthday to Kids Lit.

I’ll be back tomorrow with this week’s Literacy and Reading News roundup. I’ll also have a new post up tomorrow at Booklights.

© 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).

Tuesday
Jul072009

Tuesday Afternoon Visits: July 7

From Jen Robinson’s Book Page

I know that I just published a Kidlitosphere news round-up on Sunday. But I have a few additional links to share with you today:

First up, congratulations to Guys Lit Wire. Their Book Fair for Boys was a huge success. Colleen Mondor reports: “I am thrilled to announce that to date we received 600 books for the boys in the LA County juvenile justice system. The response to the original Book Fair for Boys post has been huge - far greater than we anticipated - and will make a big difference in a lot of lives. So many books were sent to LA that InsideOut Writers is able to spread them over all three facilities where the boys are held, providing much greater access to the books.” Very cool!

Also at Guys Lit Wire, an excellent post from Mr. Chompchomp suggesting some guy-friendly books that feature female protagonists. He says: “Fortunately, the world of literature is more varied than the world of Disney movies, and gives us many books with girls as the main characters, girls who are neither princesses nor fairies, nor, for that matter, the tormented little playthings of boy vampires. Here are some of those books, mostly fantasy and sci-fi, because that’s what I know, but some non-fiction too, for good measure”. There are some great suggestions, including Garth Nix’s fabulous Sabriel (and sequels).

Mitali Perkins just published a great list of Take Me Away Fiction (books with a strong sense of place). She says: “f you can’t afford a lavish vacation this summer, here’s a list of books that make you forget where you are by creating a great sense of place. I haven’t read all of these, so don’t quote me as your travel agent — they came in response to my call for YA/Kid novels that turn us into armchair travelers with their mastery of setting.” The first three books I thought of were Sara Zarr’s Story of a GirlMary Pearson’s A Room on Lorelei Street, and Laini Taylor’s Blackbringer. And of course there is Mitali’s own Monsoon Summer. Do you have any other titles to suggest for Mitali’s list?

In light of the many responses to the recent NY Times column by Nicholas Kristof’s list of “the best kids’ books ever” (one person’s opinion, and not at all a diverse list, but at least he’s got lots of people talking about children’s books), Laurel Snyder has re-posted her own essay on “the very worst books for kids”.

There seems to be a minor bout of blog reviewer burnout going around. This is different from blog focus angst, and tends to be caused by either writing many reviews in a short time, or by having a big stack of books that have been read, and not yet reviewed. Amy from My Friend Amy is the latest victim of this malaise (though she clearly has an excellent support network). In any event, for anyone suffering from this, I prescribe 7 Tips for Quitting a Book, from Kelly at YAnnabee. That and a big stack of books that you don’t feel like you’ll need to review - things outside of your usual focus, old favorites, etc.

OK, that’s all for now. Back to our regularly scheduled programming.

© 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).

Thursday
Jun182009

Thursday Afternoon Visits: June 18

From Jen Robinson’s Book Page

Kidlitosphere_buttonAll of this blogging and social networking is a lot of fun. But now, when I see an interesting blog post, I have really to stop to think about where to put it. Do I put it in the draft for the next children’s literacy round-up (alternating between my blog and The Reading Tub)? Do I share it immediately at Twitter or Facebook or my own blog? Or do I save it for a Kidlitosphere visits post? Or for my weekly post at Booklights? So many platforms, each with overlapping, but distinct, audiences. What is a blogger to do? Ah well, I’ll figure it out. Meanwhile, here is some news from around the Kidlitosphere that I’ve been saving up for the past week.

I’ve seen a couple of other new posts continuing the discussion about kids and reading levels. Carlie Webber at Librarilly Blonde calls the problem “Trickle-Down Readonomics”, by which “Popular books trickle down in age.” GreenBeanTeenQueen writes, “Honestly I hate it when parents come into the library and brag about how their 3rd or 4th grader is reading at a higher reading level, and they want to read YA and adult books… but not with any YA or adult themes”. And Christine M from The Simple and the Ordinary draws a parallel between the problem of kids being pushed to read grown-up books too soon and pressure that kids have to stop playing with particular toys. Clearly, this whole topic has resonated with people. There are also lots of insightful comments from parents and librarians on my other posts here and here, and especially on the post at Booklights.

There’s been a lot of interesting discussion at Read Roger about bloggers and publishers, and buzz vs. recommendations vs. reviews. Today’s post, for example, has an extensive discussion about what publishers expect from bloggers and the presence or absence of negative reviews. Earlier posts in the discussion chain are here and here. I especially liked Maggie Stiefvater’s comments in today’s post (hat-tip to @TrishHeyLady for sending me back to look for this). Maggie said: “A negative review is as good as a positive review for business… The posts that weren’t useful? The ones that just said, in two lines: “OMG I LOVED THIS BOOK SO BAD EVERYONE GO BUY IT.”” But really, there are tons of other interesting comments, too. Do check it out.

I also liked the discussion on a recent post by Daphne Grab at The Longstockings about the popularity of sequels. Daphne asks: “are you a fan of more than one novel in the same world? If not, why, if so, why and what are your favorites?” For me, the answer is yes, yes, yes if it’s a world that I want to spend more time in, but no otherwise. And yes, I’m looking forward to the upcoming third book about DJ (Front and Center) by Catherine Gilbert Murdock. And the second book in Kristin Cashore’s world from Graceling. And … you get the idea. 

There’s a fun discussion going on at Angieville about the joys of rereadingAngie says, of the collection of books that she re-reads regularly, “They’re not what I should read, necessarily, but what I have to read. They’re the books that last, that remind me everything’s going to be okay, that there are entire worlds on the other side of a wardrobe door, that Lizzie and Darcy will forgive each other, that Huw’s valley was once so very green.” Poetic and true, wouldn’t you say? I have books that call to me from the shelf sometimes (including Pride and Prejudice), and I’m pretty much compelled to obey their summons.

Kate Coombs has a fabulous Scary YA Book Extravaganza at Book Aunt. She explains: ” I’ve saved up the most recent batch of teen paranormal books I’ve read in an attempt to look at some of the kinds of things people are doing. Happily, writers are branching out: only two of these books contain vampires, and they’re barely mentioned in one of the two.” She talks about many current titles.

Mrs. V from Mrs. V’s Reviews announced last week that she’s “out about reading YA”. She says: “I do not feel like I ever did an official announcement about being a YA reader, other than this blog and that my family members and students frequently see me reading YA. Either way, I am proud to say that I love YA and I would gladly announce to my peers that I frequently read it and support the merits of YA.” I can only offer my support and encouragement.

Abby (the) Librarian wrapped up her Help Me Help You series, in which she discussed ways that librarians can help people to get the most out of the library. These are great, nuts and bolts posts, worth a read from everyone. The final post has links to the previous four, so start there.

At the Escape Adulthood blog, Kim Kotecki shares 17 simple & free ways to have fun today. Like “Carry an umbrella even though it’s not raining.” and “serve a purple dinner.”

NerdsheartyaSpeaking of fun, I learned from Natasha’s Maw Books Blog about the ongoing Nerds Heart YA book tournament, “that highlights sixteen young adult books published in 2008 that might not have garnered the attention of their counterparts.” It’s the brainchild of Renay from YA Fabulous. I was pleased with the outcome of Round 1, judged by Valentina from Valentina’sRoom, in which one of my favorite 2008 titles was selected.

BlogiestaAnd speaking of Natasha, she’s organizing a new blogging event called Bloggiesta, taking place this weekend. Don’t you just love the logo? Natasha explains: “The Bloggiesta will focus on blog content, improving/cleaning up your blog or working on your social network profiles. I’m pretty open on what you can do during the bloggiesta but reading actually won’t count!  I know, I know. The point is to catch up instead of adding another book to the “to be reviewed” pile. Actual blog content is what I’m really aiming for with some technical/housekeeping bloggy stuff mixed in for good measure.” The idea is to spend as much time as you can out of a 48-hour time period this weekend. As someone (I’m sorry, I forget who it was) wrote on her blog, this pretty much describes all of my weekends anyway. I’m going to sit this one out, though, because I’m feeling spread a bit thin at the moment, and even tracking my time feels like an extrathing. But I’m pleased to report that there are already some 75 participants signed up. I think it’s going to be great!

Map_southeast_asiaIn other event news, Colleen Mondor recently announced another One Shot World Tour, this one focusing on Southeast Asia. The event will be held August 12th. Colleen explains “For those of you not familiar with the One Shot idea, a group of bloggers (and its open to everybody with a blog) all agree to read a book by an author from a certain region or a book set in that region and then blog about it on a specified day. You can also interview an author from there if you prefer.” You can find more details at Chasing Ray.

And now, I’m pleased to report that my Google Reader is, for the moment, empty of starred items. I do believe it’s time to go read an actual book. Here’s an early wish to you all for a relaxing weekend.

© 2009 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson’s Book Page. All rights reserved.
You can also find me on Twitter and at Booklights from PBS Parents.
All Amazon links in this post are affiliate links, and may result in my receiving a small commission (with no additional cost to you).