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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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Friday
Oct302009

Friday Afternoon Visits: Halloween Eve

From Jen Robinson’s Book Page

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Quick hits:

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

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

Wednesday
Oct142009

Wednesday Afternoon Visits: October 14

From Jen Robinson’s Book Page

First up, congratulations to the Kidlitosphere’s own Laini Taylor, shortlisted for the 2009 National Book Award for Young People’s Literature (for Lips Touch, which was already on my “must read soon” stack). I have raved about Laini’s other two books, Blackbringer and Silksinger, and heard great things about Lips Touch, too. Laini is a fabulous writer, and this is much deserved. Not to mention that Laini was a Cybils panelist last year, and co-organizer of the second Kidlitosphere Conference in Portland (with Jone MacCulloch). And she’s growing a young bookworm, even as we speak. Oh, I am just so happy for Laini!! {Edited to add: here’s Laini’s response.} Congratulations to the other nominees, too. Especially Deborah Heiligman (author of Charles and Emma), who I haven’t met, but who is my Facebook friend. See the full young people’s list at the Cybils blog.

Cybils2009-150pxCybils nominations close at midnight tomorrow night (10/15). You can access the nomination form, and lists of all of the nominated titles in each category, here. So, if you have a title that you LOVE, that you think is well-written and kid-friendly, the kind of book that you want to shout from the rooftops about, and it hasn’t been nominated yet, don’t miss your chance to see it considered for the Cybils. You can also read a bio/manifesto for Cybils co-founder Anne Boles Levy here.

KidLitCon-badgeKidLitCon is also fast approaching. Sara Lewis Holmes and her blogging author co-panelists are looking for your input. Sara asks: “What would you like to know about blogging as an author? Do you have questions about how we decide what to blog about/how we got started/why we continue/what benefits we see/what the pitfalls are? Or any other question?” See also Pam’s most recent post, encouraging locals who haven’t signed up yet to give the conference a look.

Susanna Reich wrote to me from I.N.K., saying: “Twenty-two award-winning authors who’ve been blogging at INK: Interesting Nonfiction for Kids, have created a searchable  database, INK Think Tank: Nonfiction In Your Classroom, at www.inkthinktank.com. Visitors will be able to search by keyword, subject, author, title, grade level, and most significantly, by national curriculum standards. Our goal is to get trade books into the classroom, and initial response from teachers and librarians has been enthusiastic.”

Becky Levine has an inspirational post about re-opening doors that you might have closed earlier in your life. She says: “I’m finding a big plus to being a person “of a certain age.” And that is that I believe in more possibilities than I did when I was younger… Possibilities. What doors have you closed and either forgotten about or too stubbornly ignored? Is it time, perhaps, to go oil the lock and hunt out the key?”

I ran across two additional responses to the FTC Guidelines for Bloggers:

Quick hits:

  • Kate Coombs shares five great out of print read-alouds at Book Aunt.
  • At Tea CozyLiz B shares information about the ALA’s Great Stories Club: “The Great Stories Club reaches underserved, troubled teen populations through books that are relevant to their lives. Libraries located within or working in partnership with facilities serving troubled teens (including juvenile justice facilities, alternative high schools, drug rehabilitation centers and nonprofits serving teen parents) are eligible to apply.”
  • Liz is also continuing her series of informational posts. This week she talks about children’s and young adult literature listservs.
  • Pam Coughlan has a repeat of an excellent article that she wrote about being a mother and a reader (they don’t call her MotherReader for nothing).
  • The Shrinking Violets have an interview with Laurie Helgoe, author of Introvert Power (which I reviewed here). This is an interview that particularly resonated with me (as did the book).
  • Terry Doherty has a great post at Booklights about Easy Readers (starting with The Cat in the Hat, of course, and including the Geisel and Cybils awards). This week’s Show and Tale at Booklights is Eloise.
  • Angie from Angieville has good news for fans of Dennis Lehane’s Patrick Kenzie/Angela Gennaro mystery series (like me).
  • Don’t forget that next week is Teen Read Week. See more details about the Readergirlz plans at Miss Erin.
  • A new issue of Notes from the Horn Book is now available, featuring an interview with Kristin Cashore.
  • The authors at The Spectacle are discussing Suzanne Collins’ Catching Fire (with spoilers).
  • Monica Edinger links to a New Yorker article by Daniel Zalewski about how strongly kids seem to be in charge in today’s picture books. He criticizes a number of modern books for their portrayal of browbeaten parents and rampaging kids (citing Kevin Henkes as an exception).
  • See more news at Terry’s Tuesday Blurbs post at the Reading Tub. She is highly recommending “the pictures from the Read for the Record event at Nationals Park”, and I agree with her.

That’s all I have for news for this week. I’ll be taking a few days off from the blog to attend KidLitCon. Ironic, I know, that I won’t be blogging because of a blogging conference. But there you have it. I have left a review or two queued up for delayed posting. Wishing you all a lovely 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).

Sunday
Oct112009

Sunday Afternoon Visits: October 11

From Jen Robinson’s Book Page

I hope that you’re all having a peaceful weekend. Here are the recent links that have caught my eye:

The FTC Disclosure Guidelines continue to evoke strong responses from around the literary blogosphere. Here are a few new posts worthy of your attention:

  • Ron Hogan at GalleyCat offers another open letter to the FTC, saying “I object to the FTC’s disclosure requirements as defined by your new guidelines. I want to be clear on those last six words—I don’t object to legitimate disclosure requirements for genuine commercially subsidized content.” Ron also shares the results of an interview that PRNewser did with Richard Cleland of the FTC, suggesting that publishers may be the ones who really have to start worrying about all of this. If you review books on your blog, you really should be following Ron’s posts on this.
  • Melissa Fox at Book Nut also has an open letter to the FTC. Melissa argues that reviews of books are inherently “biased”, because reviewers being their personal reactions to each book, and discusses why this is actually a good thing. 
  • Liz Burns pointed to two additional links in the comments of my previous post. I’m adding them here, to make sure that people don’t miss them. See this and this, from Dear Author.
  • Liz has also written up her policies on accepting and processing review copies here. Her views on this are very similar to my own. I especially liked this part: “Publishers who donate copies for review have no expectation of anything when they submit books; as a matter of fact, if a publisher raises that expectation, even for something like when a review will be posted, I refuse the copy.”
  • MotherReader pointed to a helpful post from a lawyer’s perspective at Boston Bibliophile.
  • Susan at Color Online also weighs in. I liked this part: “I am a literacy advocate not a book reviewer. You will find book reviews on Color Online but book reviews are not our focus; they are an integral part of promoting a love of reading, celebrating multiculturalism and increasing literacy.”
  • Colleen Mondor shares some publisher responses to a letter that she’s been sending out here. I like the response that Flux has sent to PW on this issue.

On a lighter note, there’s a party going on at 7 Impossible Things Before Breakfast, where Jules and Eisha, together with Adrienne from What Adrienne Thinks About That chat with blogging authors Sara Lewis Holmes and Tanita Davis. I also learned from Tanita’s blogging partner Sarah that Tanita’s “latest novel Mare’s War is under consideration for the ALA Best Books for Young Adults 2010 list.” Nice to see good news, isn’t it?

At AngievilleAngie takes on the frequent absence of parents in young adult fiction. She says: “since I read a lot of young adult literature, I thought I’d highlight a few of my favorite YA novels that possess that rare commodity—two involved, complex parents. This is not to say they are perfect by any stretch of the imagination! But they are there. They are trying. And, most importantly of all, their presence in the novel strengthens the narrative rather than weakening it.”

Terry_readingtubfinal_1At The Reading Tub, Terry has launched a monthly new resources feature. She explains: “As you may remember, when Jen and I talked about the revamped Children’s Literacy and Reading News Roundup, we decided to pull the New Resources section from the weekly posts. The links are helpful – and often really cool – but they felt like an add-on that didn’t quite fit with the rest of the stuff.  Now, we’ve created a more fully developed post that I will publish the first full week of each month.” This month, she shares a bunch of new blogs, as well as other resources.

Terry also created a new widget (with permission, of course) to show support for Andrea and Mark from Just One More Book! while Andrea fights breast cancer. You can see it in my right-hand sidebar. You’re welcome and encouraged to download and add it to your own blog, if you are interested.

Liz B. at Tea Cozy and Melissa at Book Nut are talking about blog comments (as are many readers, in the comments). Liz has a pretty laid-back approach to the whole thing: “Whether or not I keep reading your blogs have nothing to do with whether you comment on mine; it’s whether or not I like what you write.” Melissa, on the other hand, advocates more commenting, especially one smaller, less-read blogs. Me, I think that if you want to be part of the community, you need to do some combination of commenting, engaging with people on Twitter and Facebook, emailing people directly, and linking to other people’s posts. But if someone wants to just read my blog, and not engage directly, that’s fine with me, too.

Quick hits:

  • Amy from Literacy Launchpad shares some lessons that she’s learned from and about reading aloud to preschoolers.
  • Terry Doherty continues her series on “the people behind the passion” (for reading and literacy) at The Reading Tub, profiling Susan Stephenson from The Book Chook.
  • Jason Boog at GalleyCat reports on Barack Obama’s win of the Nobel Peace Prize, emphasizing President Obama’s role as an author.
  • Natasha Maw reports on the winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature at Maw Books.
  • Karen from Teenage Fiction for All Ages shares the winner of the Guardian Children’s FIction Prize (Exposure by Mal Peet). It’s due out in the US on Tuesday.
  • Speaking of book awards, Lee Wind has an interesting post about a change in the rules for the Lambda Awards. He explains: “See, The Lamdba Literary Awards (the Lammies) used to be for BOOKS that were GLBTQ in content. Now, they’re saying that the AUTHORS have to self-identify as part of the Gay Community for their GLBTQ books to qualify.” I agree with Lee that this change to an established award is the wrong way to go about things. And, for the record, as Lee mentions, the Cybils awards are about the BOOKS, not about any attributes of the authors.
  • Mary Pearson would like to know whether or not bloggers want to be thanked for their reviews. I think this is a very subjective question, but I did share a few of my personal thoughts on this in the comments at Mary’s.
  • Monica Edinger has an interesting post about the use of retrospective voice (an adult narrator looking back on a story from childhood) at Educating Alice. Specifically, an in the context of the Newbery awards, she wants to know whether novels written in a retrospective voice appeal to kids.
  • Anastasia Suen hosts Poetry Friday this week at Picture Book of the Day.  
  • Episode 2 of The Exquisite Corpse Adventure (this episode written by Katherine Patersonis now available.
  • At The Places You Will GoDaphne Lee has a post in defense of some oft-challenged books “that educate and inform children and teens about their bodies.” She also has a nice post about the rights of readers to read and to not read (quoting from  Daniel Pennac’s The Rights of the Reader).
  • And see more end of the week links from Abby (the) LibrarianBook Dads, and My Friend Amy.

© 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).

Wednesday
Oct072009

Wednesday Afternoon Visits: October 7

From Jen Robinson’s Book Page

It’s been another active week around the Kidlitosphere. Here’s my take on the highlights and lowlights.

JOMB_bookmarkFirst of all, please join me in sending good thoughts to Andrea Ross from Just One More Book!, who was just diagnosed with breast cancer. Andrea’s husband and JOMB co-founder, Mark Blevisreported today that “The Just One More Book!! children’s book podcast will be taking an indefinite hiatus so that Andrea and I can focus on making Andrea a Breast Cancer survivor.” Mark also included a few statistics in his post that show, if anyone needs to see it, how much JOMB has done to promote children’s love of books these past few years. Andrea and Mark have my deepest of good wishes, in fighting this battle. Also, if there’s anyone out there who might have doubts as to whether the Kidlitosphere, a virtual community, is a real community, just check out the comments on Mark’s post already.

This is a bit circular, but Liz B. recently profiled my Afternoon Visits series at A Chair, A Fireplace, and A Tea Cozy. If you’re reading this, you already, by definition, know about my afternoon visits posts. But still, I’d like to thank Liz for the write-up, part of a series that she’s been doing about ongoing events around the Kidlitosphere (including Poetry Friday, founded by Kelly Herold, and Nonfiction Monday, founded by Anastasia Suen).

Liz also wrote an excellent post recently listing professional sources for reviews of children’s and young adult literature. She calls it her “if you’re reading children’s books and want more reviews” list. She warns: “The primary audience for many of the reviews in these journals is adult gate keepers. The review isn’t for the end-reader but for a person buying materials for the end-reader. In other words? Yes, there may be spoilers.” Looking at all of Liz’s recent content together, one thing is clear to me. If you’re writing online reviews of children’s and young adult books, and/or you’re interested in being part of the community of other people doing this, you should be reading Tea Cozy.

One another thing that Liz has been on top of is this whole FTC Disclosure Guidelines issue. If you’ve somehow missed it, the FTC issued guidelines (link goes to PDF) for bloggers this week regarding disclosure of relationships with publishers. The implications for book bloggers are problematic, to say the least. The FTC seems to be declaring that any mention of a book (in a blog post or tweet or Facebook comment) is an “endorsement” (at least if the book was received from a publisher OR you are an Amazon Affiliate), and that review copies can be considered in some sense “compensation”. There’s also a suggestion of returning review books to the publisher, to avoid them being considered compensation. All of this shows that the FTC doesn’t at all understand how book blogging work. Nonetheless, there are some stiff fines involved for violations, and this is something that bloggers should be taking seriously. These are going to be laws that, even if they don’t fully make sense to us, could be enforced. We’re going to see a lot of discussion of this issue, on blogs and listservs and Twitter, while we see how it all shakes out. The regulations go into effect December 1st. It is not out of the question that many of us will no longer be accepting review copies after that, though I hope it doesn’t come to such a drastic response.

If you’d like to learn more, you should probably start with Ed Campion’s interview with Richard Cleland from the FTC about specific applicability to book bloggers. Then move on to these two posts from Colleen Mondor at Chasing Ray. Then go to GalleyCat, and read all of Ron Hogan’s posts from this week (especially this one). You might also check out responses at MotherReaderthe Book Smugglersthe Reading TubKids LitThe Cybils blog, and Confessions of a Bibliovore.

NonfictionmondayGetting back to regular news, this week’s Nonfiction Monday roundup is at Moms Inspire Learning.

Steph at Steph Su Reads has some suggestions for authors seeking reviews and for reviewers seeking books. I think that she makes some good points, and I especially agree with her top suggestion: personalization. Review requests that start with “Hey there” or “Dear Blogger” don’t exactly endear themselves to me. I’ll likely post on this topic myself later in the year. I’ve started a little file with some pet peeves.

At Shrinking Violet Promotions, Mary and Robin interview Egmont publisher Elizabeth Law about marketing and book promotion techniques for authors. Here are a couple of tidbits that struck me: “We used to send authors on the road more, and we used to encourage them to go into every bookstore within a few hours’ drive of their house and sign books, do appearances, etc. Now we love it if they have a website, get to know bloggers and librarians online, etc” and “Authors who give thoughtful recommendations of others’ books, or who comment on writers’ LiveJournal blogs for example, are showing that they are interested in good books as a whole, and not just their own.”

Cybils2009-150pxNominations continue to roll in for the Cybils, at this half-way point in the nomination cycle. On this post, you can find the link to the nomination form, and to the lists of nominated titles so far. We’re closing in on 600 eligible titles. Nominations will remain open through the end of the day on October 15th.

KidLitCon-badgeMotherReader has some updates regarding KidLitCon (which is NEXT WEEK). The biggest news is that there’s now an author signing event (featuring 6 authors) taking place on Sunday at Hooray for Books!.

Quick Hits:

  • Kate Messner suggests five ways to celebrate National Reading Group month.
  • As pretty much a direct result of blogging and Twittering by Carol Rasco, RIF has launched a new series of real-world author visits. First up is the Kidlitosphere’s own Laurel Snyder. I found this a nice example of the tangible connections that can come from blogging.
  • Greg Pincus has updated his “I’m Pretty Well Connected” social web poem.
  • At SemicolonSherry Early asks: “What good books would you recommend for children and young adults that feature characters living in poverty or in lower middle class financial stress? How does this choice of socioeconomic class on the part of an author affect the book and its characters’ choices?”
  • Colleen has a new installment of What a Girl Wants at Chasing Ray. This week’s theme is “holding out for a super heroine”. She asks her stellar panel of contributors: “So does it matter if girls only have Wonder Woman to read about as a major super heroine and that all the other women are relegated to “supporting” status? Are we missing something important or is this just all too testosterone fueled anyway? Do girls even want more super heroines?” 
  • Did you hear that Harriet the Spy is being reinvented as a bloggerMonica Edinger has the scoop at Educating Alice.
  • Christine M reports at The Simple and the Ordinary that today is National Walk Your Child to School Day. While this post is probably a bit late for that to be useful, Christine’s general reasons why it’s important for kids to walk to school are timeless.

© 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).