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 Justine Larbalestier (4)

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
Jul312009

Friday Visits: July 31

From Jen Robinson’s Book Page

The Kidlitosphere continues to be full of interesting posts this week, some weighty, some just fun (with most of the lighter stuff towards the end of the post, as seems fitting for a Friday).

BWI_125sqAlong with some 500+ others to date, both Tasha from Kids Lit and Amy from My Friend Amy have signed a pledge to blog with integrity. The idea is to “assert that the trust of … readers and the blogging community is important”, and publicly declare a set of standards. Tasha explains: “The integrity badge is a shorthand to openly declare what my blogging ethics are… I see it as a tangible expression of my blogging beliefs. It says what I already do and already believe in. It is not going to change my blogging.” Amy says: “Why sign the pledge? Because I believe in proactive measures rather than reactive measures when possible. This issue won’t go away and this is a clear and public statement that when I accept review copies, I will let you know and I’ll still give you honest feedback.” I’m following with interest (though I managed to miss the Twitter discussion).

Kidlitosphere_buttonAnd speaking of bloggers and integrity, Pam Coughlan has a post at MotherReader about BlogHer09 vs. KidLitCon (I don’t remember who came up with KidLitCon - Laurel Snyder, maybe - but it’s sure less of a mouthful than “The Third Annual Kidlitosphere Conference”). Here’s a snippet: “What’s going on in the mommy blog community concerns me, not because it’s a direct correlation but because it’s a warning.” Bloggers should read the whole post (and think about attending KitLitCon, of course).

Kate Coombs also takes on blogger integrity questions as part of a post at Book Aunt. Though she starts with a light-hearted blogger vs. professional reviewer smackdown, she continues with a balanced look at some of the criticisms being leveled at blog reviewers today.

At the Picnic BasketDeborah Sloan shares some book reviewing tips from Shelf Awareness’ Jennifer Brown. Thanks to Susan Thomsen from Chicken Spaghetti for the link.

Discussion continues in response to the Liar book cover issue (which I talked about last week). There are hundreds of comments and posts out there, far too many to link to. People have, however, moved on this week from venting to suggesting and/or committing to positive courses of action to support diversity in their reading (diversity of race, gender, sexuality, etc.). Here are a few examples:

Kristine from Best Book I Have Not Read has a request for donations to the Make A Wish Foundation, in support of a young friend of hers, fighting cancer, whose wish is to meet author Brian Jacques.

At Just One More Book!Andrea and Mark interview Horrid Henry author Francesca Simon. In the course of the interview, they talk about “books with universal themes, the penalty of growing old enough to read by yourself and Storybook Dads — breaking the cycle of crime through a literacy and family connection program for convicts in a high-security prison”.

Casey from Bookworm 4 Life shares books that she thinks “might be contenders for modern/current teen classics”. She has some of my favorites on her list, and I suspect that the ones that I haven’t read are all worthy of my attention. Do check it out!

Susan Beth Pfeffer is looking for suggestions for a name for her Life As We Knew It and dead and the gone trilogy. It kind of grew into a trilogy - she thought that LAWKI was a standalone book when she wrote it, so there’s no cool, over-arching name. Leave suggestions in the comments here.

At The Book WhispererDonalyn Miller asks readers to share memories of their own reading origin stories. She asks: “How did your reading life begin? How does your reading past impact you now as a teacher or parent? What books stick with you now, years later? Who influenced your reading life?” The results (in the comments) make for a lovely ode to reading.

DogdaysMoving on to the stuff that’s pure fun, I’m loving the idea of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid ice cream truck tour to promote literacy and celebrate the title announcement for Book 4. I first heard about this on Omnivoracious, but then saw a detailed schedule in School Library Journal’s Extra Helping.

In other ice cream news, Cheryl Rainfield reports that there’s a petition for Ben and Jerry’s to come up with a library-themed ice cream flavor. Cheryl suggests “Anne of Green Gables ice cream, with raspberry and lime swirls.”

There’s a meme going around by which people design their own debut young adult novel covers. I don’t quite understand it, but quite a few people have participated, and some of the results are quite eye-catching and/or humorous. Travis, who I believe started this whole thing, has a round-up at 100 Scope Notes.

And this just in, via A Fuse #8 ProductionJill Davis snapped a picture of the ultimate expression of summer reading: a girl in a park reading while hula hooping. I love it! Betsy Bird called this “the Holy Grail of summer reading spottage.” Jill’s got some nice summer book recommendations in the post, too. Betsy also shares a press release about a call for photos of literary tattoos. And that, my friends, is why you should never miss your daily dose of Fuse #8.  

Last but not least, this week’s Poetry Friday roundup is available at Poetry for Children. Wishing you all a book-filled, fun-filled 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).

Friday
Jul242009

Friday Afternoon Visits: July 24

From Jen Robinson’s Book Page

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And a few quick hits:

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

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

Saturday
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).