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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 Dystopias (4)

Saturday
Feb202010

Thursday Afternoon Visits: February 18

From Jen Robinson’s Book Page

So I’ve been struggling through a bout of laryngitis this week. It’s made me a bit cranky (or perhaps general malaise has made me cranky - whichever). But the nice thing about the whole online world is that I can still interact with people, without needing to talk. And so, here are a few tidbits from the Kidlitosphere and twitterverse.

First up, the Kidlitosphere’s own Betsy Bird was profiled in Forbes today (online anyway)! Author Dirk Smillie calls her “the most powerful blogger in kids’ books”. And really, who could dispute that? I think she uses her power for good, though, don’t you? I especially liked this part, a quote from Dan Blank: “She channels her oddness into this niche blog, which then extends beyond its niche. Why was she born to do this? Who knows?” But do read the whole article. It’s great stuff!

Speaking of Betsy, she’s at the halfway point in revealing the results of the top 100 children’s books poll, with today’s reveal of titles 51 to 55. The list of titles is a wonderful resource in and of itself. And what Betsy’s doing with the posts, profiling each book, including cover images and quotes from contributors - it’s truly a labor of love. She’s made me want to go and read, or re-read, every single one of these titles. See also an interesting analysis of titles 100-71 by Eric Carpenter at What We Read and What We Think. Eric looks at things like distribution of votes, distribution of titles by decade, etc. His post is well worth a look.

Mockingjay While I love many of the titles on Betsy’s list, the genre that catches my attention most reliably is dystopian and post-apocalyptic fiction, especially when published for young adults. There’s been plenty of activity within my pet genre this week:

Cybils2009-150px My fellow Cybils panelist, Sam from Parenthetical.net, has posted mini-reviews of all of the non-winning finalists in our category, middle grade fantasy and science fiction. I’m not sure if or when I’ll get to this myself, so I refer you to Sam’s comments. They line up pretty well with what I would say, anyway. I’ll also note that Joni Sensel’s The Farwalker’s Quest is a post-apocalyptic title, and thus had my automatic attention. Melissa also has a Farwalker’s Quest review at One Librarian’s Book Reviews.

Speaking of the Cybils, special thanks to Rocco Staino for a lovely writeup about the Cybils winners at School Library Journal.  

I-can-read-meme The February I Can Read Carnival (an idea launched by Terry Doherty, now in its second moth) is running right now at Anastasia Suen’s 5 Great Books blog. Fittingly enough, Anastasia was the category organizer for the 2009 Easy Reader and Short Chapter Book committee of the Cybils. She has lots of excellent links for new readers.

Quick hits:

  • David Elzey continues his series on the aspects of books that appeal to boy readers. He talks about violence/conflict, action, and emotion in parts 3 through 5.  
  • At the Spectacle, KA Holt expresses her concern about lexile ratings being used to steer kids away from books that they want to read.
  • Travis has a very fun post at 100 Scope Notes predicting what books will be like in 3001. He is ridiculously creative, isn’t he?
  • The Texas Sweethearts have named their newest Featured Sweetheart: Mitali Perkins. Great choice, wouldn’t you say? You can read the interview here.
  • Liz B writes again, at Tea Cozy, about why it’s wrong to sell advance reading copies, or place them in library collections. If she keeps saying it often enough, perhaps the message will get across. There’s an extensive discussion going on in the comments.

And that’s all for today. Hope you all found some news 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).

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).

Saturday
Apr042009

Saturday Afternoon Visits: April 4

From Jen Robinson’s Book Page

Kidlitosphere_buttonSorry I’ve been so absent from the blog lately. I had to travel to the east coast for a funeral, a sudden, this was really NOT supposed to happen, funeral, and I’ve had neither the time nor the heart for keeping up these past couple of weeks. But I do very much appreciate the supportive comments that I’ve received (and I’m especially grateful to Terry for taking on last weekend’s literacy round-up). And now, I am ready to get back to some semblance of normal. Which is a good thing, because there have been crazy amounts of activity in the Kidlitosphere this week. Here are a few highlights:

First up, Pam Coughlan (MotherReader) reports that you can now start making hotel reservations for the Third Annual Kidlitosphere conference. The conference will be held October 16-18, in Washington, CDC. Pam also announced the date for the next 48-Hour Book Challenge (June 5th - 7th). Be sure to get both of those on your calendar.

30poets30daysVarious initiatives launched April 1st, in honor of National Poetry Month. There’s Greg Pincus’ 30 Poets / 30 Days at Gotta BookTricia Stohr-Hunt’s Poetry Makers series at The Miss Rumphius Effect, Jone MacCulloch’s Poetry Postcard project at Check It Out, and Elaine Magliaro’s various prizes at her new Political Verses blog. See also an interview with Greg about 30 Poets / 30 Days at Just One More Book!

NatPoetryMonth2009Also, as reported by Jules at Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast, “at Poetry for Children, Sylvia Vardell will be reviewing a new children’s poetry book every day. And at Pencil Talk — School Poems, author and teacher and blogger Anastasia Suen is inviting K-12 students during the month of April to write their own poems and send them to her. She will post them there at Pencil Talk.” Jules also notes that at 7-Imp “celebrations will occur in the form of some interviews/features with poets and poet/illustrators AND artists who have illustrated poetry titles, and I’ve got some new poetry collections and anthologies I’d love to share.”

National Poetry Month also inspired an enormous outpouring of posts for last week’s Poetry Friday (a year-round event by which KidLit bloggers focus on poetry on Fridays). Amy Planchak Graves has a simply amazing round-up. Also don’t miss Lynn Hazen’s Imaginary Blog, where Lynn is celebrating “Bad Poetry Friday”, with a poem written by Betsy Bird of Fuse #8 when she was 17 years old. Lynn is also the subject of a delightful ForeWord Magazine interview this month.

And speaking of Fuse #8, via Fuse News, I found a link to the International Edible Book Festival announcement, and I could not resist sharing. “This ephemeral global banquet, in which anyone can participate, is shared by all on the internet and allows everyone to preserve and discover unique bookish nourishments. This festival is a celebration of the ingestion of culture and a way to concretely share a book; it is also a deeper reflexion on our attachment to food and our cultural differences.” I do find the April 1st date somewhat suspicious… But did I ever mention that Mheir got me a chocolate book last Christmas? Well, it was a book, but when you opened it up there were delicious truffles inside. But close enough to being a chocolate book. He does know me.

Still speaking of Betsy (she is everywhere this week), please join me in congratulating her. Betsy just had two picture books acquired by Greenwillow. The timing seems particularly fortuitous, given that she’s just started releasing the results of her fabulous Top 100 Picture Books poll. You can find the results so far here and here. These are must-read posts for picture book fans. More than just listing the titles, Betsy also includes cover images and commentary. I find myself very curious about what books will be showing up on the rest of the list. I did chime in with my picks, but I haven’t yet been bold enough (or had time enough) to post my top 10 list here.

I’m also kind of curious to see what books show up on a list that Laurel Snyder has started: 100 Horrible Picture Books. She explains: “For the next week, I ask that you email me… and tell me the name of a picture  book you HATE! And please, if you can, a few words about why you detest it. Here’s the catch: It has to be a book other people love. A classic. A bestseller. A “gem” of some kind.” I’m pretty sure that there will be overlap with a book that’s already been featured on Betsy’s list… you all know which one I’m talking about.

CbstnwAnd as long as we’re being irreverent, Minh Le from Bottom Shelf Books and Farida Dowler from Saints and Spinners are running a contest called Unnecessary Children’s Book Sequels that Never Were. It’s pretty self-explanatory, but you can find the details here.  

Amy has a lovely post at Literacy Launchpad about children’s books as family heirlooms. She begins: “What if you had something in your family to pass down through the generations that was truly beautiful, appreciated, practical, valued, and could make your children (or grandchildren) smarter and more successful? I bet you do! Children’s books!”

And while we’re on the subject of adults who cherish children’s books as heirlooms, don’t miss Melissa’s recent rant at Kidliterate, asking adults to please stop apologizing for reading kids’ books. She says: “I don’t care if you don’t have kids. I don’t care if you have kids. It is okay to read books written for children and young adults. It is okay to enjoy them. It is okay for other adults to see you reading them. It is okay to tell other adults to shove it if they mock you for reading books written for children and young adults.” Hear, hear! 

IloveyourblogOne thing that brightened my own week was that Natasha Worswick from Children’s Books for Grownups (is that a great blog name, or what?) gave me an I (heart) your blog award. I’m not going to directly pass this one along, but of course I love all of the blog that I’ve mentioned here, and the others that I’ll be linking to in Monday’s Children’s Literacy Round-Up. Thanks for cheering me during a tough week, Tasha!

And finally, some quick tidbits:

  • The Readergirlz featured title for this month is Impulse by Ellen Hopkins.
  • My fellow dystopian fiction fan Adrienne has a fun post about The Top Five Things You Might Want to Read/Watch If You Want to Make THIS the Year You Start Canning.
  • On the subject of dystopias, Gail Gauthier links to a fascinating article by Farah Mendlesohn in the Horn Book Magazine about the state of science fiction for kids. I’m going to echo Gail in saying that Sheila Ruth must read this one.

I can’t even tell you how great it feels to be relatively caught up on the doings of the Kidlitosphere. Thanks for being here, guys!

© 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
Feb082009

Sunday Afternoon Visits: February 8

From Jen Robinson’s Book Page

My blog has been lamentably quiet this week. I was in Fort Collins, CO for work, and couldn’t even keep up with email, let alone with blogging. Now I find myself with a free Sunday, and a Google Reader filled with posts. Here are some highlights of the doings of the Kidlitosphere. The Literacy and Reading News Round-Up will follow tomorrow.

I’m pleased to report that I was a winner in HipWriterMama’s 2009 New Year 30 Day Challenge. As the other winners have commented, the real prize was successfully participating (my challenge goal had to do with riding my exercise bike every day, and I did pretty well with it, despite guests and travel). Thanks, Vivian!

PaperTigers has a new February issue about “the growing global awareness of the power of children to change the world.” I especially enjoyed Mitali Perkins’ article about how books can shape a child’s heart. Although I don’t have quite so specific an example as Mitali’s description of reading A Little Princess, I have always felt that the books that I read as a child influenced my moral compass. For more on how children are changing the world, see my post from last week about Free the Children.

KidsheartauthorlogoSpeaking of PaperTigers, Janet has a nice write-up about the upcoming Kids Heart Authors Day, explaining how “from New England to the Pacific Northwest, independent bookstores, children’s authors, illustrators, and the young readers who love them are coming together on February 14 in a grand celebration.” It’s not quite enough to make me wish, in February, that I still lived in New England, but it comes close.

With her usual thoroughness, Elaine Magliaro has compiled book lists, book reviews, and other resources for Black History Month at Wild Rose Reader. This is an excellent starting point for anyone looking for resources on this topic. Friday’s Poetry Friday round-up is also available at Wild Rose Reader.

ReadkiddoreadWendie Old has a very positive write-up about James Patterson’s new ReadKiddoRead site.

In other encouraging news, Cheryl Rainfield shares a tidbit about a child who saved herself from a fire, after learning how to do so from a children’s book.

PJ Hoover brought to my attention a new blog that’s right up my alley. In The Spectacle, “Authors talk about writing speculative fiction for teens and pre-teens.” I especially enjoyed PJ’s post The Cool Thing About Post-Apocalyptic. Speaking as a series fan of the genre myself, I have to agree with her conclusion. See also this post at Presenting Lenore about dystopias. And speaking of speculative and post-apocalyptic fiction, Bookshelves of Doom reports that John Christopher’s Tripods trilogy is being adapted for the big screen. Very cool!

NORTHlogo[1]In celebration of the launch of her new book, North of BeautifulJustina Chen Headley is launching a Find Beauty Challenge. Justina says: “Tell the world what you find to be Truly Beautiful! Just upload a 90-second video describing what real beauty means to you…and you could win yourself an iTouch! PLUS, for every uploaded video, I’ll donate $10 (up to $1,000) to Global Surgical Outreach, an amazing group that helps kids with cleft lips and palates in the third world.” North of Beautiful is on my short list, but I haven’t gotten to it yet. Anyone else find it ironic that I’m spending so much time reading and writing about encouraging readers that I don’t have time to read myself? Ah, well!

Amy from Literacy Launchpad has a fun post about the importance of building home libraries for children, and the dilemma that she faces in deciding which of her precious books to actually share with her book-eating young son. And speaking of home libraries, Susan Thomsen shares resources for inexpensive children’s books at Chicken Spaghetti, with additional resources suggested in the comments.

Facing another literacy dilemma, Tricia from The Miss Rumphius Effect mulls over the idea of a canon of children’s literature, asking: “Are there books and stories that every child should/must know?” There’s a good discussion going on in the comments about it - my own views are pretty much identical to what Chris Barton said. Maureen Kearney also weighs in at Confessions of a Bibliovore.

Reminding us that not all kids learn to read in the same wayKris Bordessa from Paradise Found links to an interesting post by Miranda at Nurtured by Love. Comparing her own children’s experience to those of a friend, Miranda notes: “So not only did I not do very much to nurture my kids’ early achievement of literacy, but what I did do was probably almost beside the point. It’s mostly in the wiring, modulated by issues of temperament. Sure, an impoverished learning environment can cause delays in literacy learning. But a reasonably supportive nurturing environment? It’s in the wiring. The ages when perfectly bright non-learning-disabled unschooled kids will learn to read is all over the map.”

Natasha Worswick reports that BBC Four will be showing a documentary tonight about Why Reading Matters. Doesn’t seem to be on here in CA, but I’ll stay tuned at Children’s Books for Grown-Ups, to see if Natasha has any feedback after watching it.

And for all of you bloggers out there, especially blogging authors, Pam Coughlan has a great two-part piece at MotherReader with blogging tips. Here’s Part 1 and Part 2 (which incorporates reader comments from Part 1, and has concrete examples of people she thinks are doing things right). I think she’s convinced me to a) prune my blog sidebars and b) be more careful about the use of acronyms.

And finally, our own Greg Pincus from Gotta Book was mentioned in an article in the Guardian this week, about the relationship between math and poetry. Remember the Fib? The article certainly wouldn’t have been complete without this art form that bridges math and poetry so perfectly.

Now my Google Reader is empty of unread items, for the first time in a week or so, and I’m off to ride my exercise bike for a while. Happy Sunday to all!

© 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).