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.

We welcome your feedback!

Search
Social Networking
Powered by Squarespace

Entries in Sara Zarr (3)

Saturday
Apr032010

Sunday Afternoon Visits: March 21

From Jen Robinson’s Book Page

Happy Spring! Happy March Madness! A belated Happy Saint Patrick’s Day! Here are a few links from around the Kidlitosphere, for those who are actually indoors on the computer this fine weekend:

First up, I was delighted to see that Jen Funk Weber profiled me this morning as her first Extreme Reader, a new series that she’s doing at Needle and ThREAD: Stitching for Literacy. She shares my story about reading on a raft in a lake in New Hampshire as a kid. Jen is looking for other extreme reader stories, as well as extreme stitcher stories, if you have any to share. And have you seen her tutorial for stitching Readergirlz bookmarks? Anyone interested in both books and needlework should really be following Jen’s blog.

Matilda Betsy Bird is up to #17 in the Top 100 Children’s Novels poll at A Fuse #8 Production. You can also enter a challenge to predict the top 10 titles. I got an extra kick out of seeing Matilda and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory side by side at #18 and #19. The book-loving Matilda is one of my all-time favorite characters from children’s literature. And I’ll always have fond associations for Charlie, because I taught myself to type by copying Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. There’s also a top 100 YA books poll going on at Persnickety Snark.

Speaking of Matilda, great fan of reading, Terry Doherty has started a list/widget at The Reading Tub with books about kids finding a love of reading. She would welcome your suggestions. Also, my congratulations to Terry for being the latest Featured Sweetheart at the Texas Sweethearts blog. There’s a great interview!

Helaine Becker believes that kids enjoy reading. Inspired by a recent visit as guest author at a bookstore, she shares her thoughts on why kids sometimes get a reputation for being non-readers. I think she makes some good points, especially: “Kids don’t like to read books that are “good for them” or jammed down their throats.” 

Middle school librarian Ms. Yingling is shifting the focus of her blog a bit to focus more on finding books for boys. She’s reformatted her blog, added a list of other blogs that suggest books for boys, and declared Guy Fridays. It’s always interesting to me how people shift the focus of their blogs over time, as they discover areas that they are particularly passionate about.

Sara Zarr, on the other hand, wants to know if blogging is dead. She notes: “I don’t have time to read and comment on blogs the way I used to, and that seems to have led to fewer comments on mine, or folks do their commenting on Twitter and Facebook where my blog feeds—or commenting has been replaced with sharing, liking, and reTweeting.” The post is a bit slanted (understandably) towards author blogs, but the discussion has implications for us all. I think it depends on whether you’re blogging FOR the sense of community, or to share particular things that lend themselves more to the longer format of the blog (vs. Twitter or Facebook).

Lee Wind (co-founder of the Kidlitosphere Comment Challenge) has a new blog about The Zen of Blogging. He says: “This is my new on-line home for sharing weekly inspiration and how-to tips about blogging with you.” 

Booklights Speaking of the Comment Challenge founders, Pam Coughlan has a great post this week at Booklights about Thrifty Reading, with suggestions for acquiring books during tough economic times (and no, shoplifting is NOT among her suggestions). See also Susan Stephenson’s suggestions at The Book Chook for finding free reading material online. Also at Booklights, Susan Kusel suggests checking out holiday-themed books from the library EARLY.

Quick hits:

© 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).

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).

Wednesday
Jun102009

Wednesday Afternoon Visits: June 10

From Jen Robinson’s Book Page

Here are some items worth mentioning from around the Kidlitosphere:

Colleen Mondor has started a new feature at Chasing Ray called What a Girl Wants. She’ll be showcasing writers whose young adult novels have strong female characters. In the first installment of the series, Colleen asks her participants to share memories of books that they read as teens, books that made a lasting impact. Colleen’s own thoughts on A Wrinkle in Time particularly caught my attention, but all of the mini-essays are worth reading.

Newlogorg200And speaking of authors who write about strong female characters, Readergirlz is featuring Sara Zarr’s Sweethearts this month. You can find details here.

The UK has a new children’s laureate. Anthony Browne will be replacing Michael Rosen in this position. Do you think he’ll have tea with Jon Scieszka? I first saw the news at Children’s Books for Grown-Ups, where Natasha Worswick reports: “Anthony’s agenda as next Childrens Laureate is to  stimulate and encourage a lifelong love of reading.”

Betsy Bird has made her mid-year predictions for the Newbery and Caldecott awards at A Fuse #8 Production. She mentions one of the books that I read last weekend, The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate 

BooklightsSusan Kusel has a brilliant analysis of the design of Where the Wild Things Are at Booklights. She looks at how the ratio of white space to text and illustration change throughout the book, and how it affects the reader’s experience. Jules from 7-Imp also pointed out that today is Maurice Sendak’s birthday, so this is an extra-fitting post.

Mitali Perkins is running a poll on her site about whether or not it’s ok for publishers to “edit beloved children’s books like LITTLE HOUSE ON THE PRAIRIE or THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA to eliminate racial or ethnic stereotyping?” I’m kind of on the fence about this. I don’t like the idea of making changes like this. I think it’s better to leave the classics as-is, and use the racial or ethnic stereotyping as a jumping off place for discussion. However, if an author wants to make such changes herself, I hesitate to say that we shouldn’t let her. If you all have thoughts on this, please share them at Mitali’s.

J. L. Bell has a post at Oz and Ends about “representation of racial and ethnic minorities in American children’s books” and the realities of today’s publishing industry. He thinks that: “The challenge isn’t convincing individual gatekeepers. The challenge is convincing those editors’ corporate employers—and the corporations they work closely with, such as the chain booksellers—that there’s enough money to be made from those families to justify publishing more books than they already are.” Which sounds realistic to me.

I’ve mentioned Greg Pincus’ new blog, The Happy Accident, before. I especially liked this recent post, in which Greg introduces a social media “rule of three” for producing good content. The idea is that you should think about why you’re using the tool in the first place, whether you’re serving that purpose with individual updates, and whether you’re getting the results that you want. Which seems like good advice to me.

These are both a bit off topic, but Lois Lowry had two posts at her blog that I particularly enjoyed. Last week she had a post documenting an encounter (while on a trip to Africa) with elephants. Big ones protecting a little one. Gorgeous! (My grandfather used to collect elephant figurines, and elephants still catch my eye). Then, returning home, she shared a lovely post highlighting the upside of living in a rural place. Since she had missed her tulips blooming while she was away, her letter carrier took a picture of them for her. Kind of made me want to live in a small town, you know?

LiteraryBloggerAnd last, but not least, thank you to Melissa from Book Nut for giving me a Literary Blogger Award. She said that “promote and inspire people of all ages to read”, which is a lovely compliment. I’m great company, too!

That’s all for today.

© 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).