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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 Susan Beth Pfeffer (3)

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).

Sunday
Sep212008

Sunday Afternoon Visits: September 21

From Jen Robinson’s Book Page

CybilslogosmallLast week was a bit hectic, between Book Blogger Appreciation Week (the complete list of winners is here) and the announcement of the first Cybils panels (PoetryMiddle Grade FictionFiction Picture Books, and Easy Readers, so far). But I did save up a few other links.

Iloveyourblog_thumb_thumb_2I’m honored to have received this beautiful “I (heart) your blog” award from both Becky of Becky’s Book Reviews and Andrea from Just One More Book!. I’m touched, Andrea and Becky! I love your blogs, too. I’m supposed to nominate seven other blogs, and pass along the award, and tell them each that they’ve been nominated. You all know my position on that — I feel that I show my appreciation for the blogs that I love by linking to them in my visits posts. And yet… this week I feel like I should do more. So, I’d like to go a bit further, and offer this award to the dozen blogs that I added when I first created my blog roll, almost three years ago, and that remain among my favorite sites: Finding WonderlandBartographyRead RogerRead AlertKids LitChicken SpaghettiTea CozyBig A little aWands and WorldsBook MootBook Buds, and What Adrienne Thinks About That. I had pretty good judgment back then, didn’t I? You guys all rock, and I do love your blogs. If you feel so inclined, please do pass along the award to others.

  • This just in, the September Carnival of Children’s Literature is now available at Jenny’s Wonderland of BooksJenny includes quite a few links to reviews of classic children’s books, as well as more modern fare. Jenny and I share a fondness for Alexander Key’s The Forgotten Door, which makes me happy. You can also “Submit your blog article to the next edition of Carnival of Children’s Literature which will be held October 26, 2008 at The Well-Read Child using our carnival submission form.”
  • Speaking of Just One More Book!, Andrea and Mark have started an e-newsletter. The first edition contained: “announcements about (their) upcoming: * Picture Book Pilgrimage, * children’s book and literacy related conference activities, and * exciting autumn guests.” You can sign up here.
  • Two fun posts from Emily at BookKids (the BookPeople Children’s Book blog): Kids Books are for Grown-Ups, Too! and Grown-Up Books to Share with Kids & Teens. Of course I favor the former over the latter - Emily picked some great titles.
  • Congratulations to Susan Beth Pfeffer, whose Life As We Knew It made the NY Times Bestseller List for paperback children’s books for the first time this week. She is very happy. I’m happy, too, because it’s one of my favorite books. 
  • Shrinking Violet Promotions has a reissue of a great post about self-care for introverts. If you missed this one last year, and you think you might be an introvert, you should definitely click through to check this one out. 
  • I missed Talk Like a Pirate Day on Friday. But Sherry from Semicolon and Elizabeth O. Dulemba did not, and they have the scoop. 
  • Elaine Magliaro shares poetry resources about fall at Wild Rose Reader. I especially like how she uses fall colors for highlighting throughout the post.
  • Jenny from Read. Imagine. Talk has a guest post at 5 Minutes for Books this week. She writes aboutchildren’s books based on television shows, and has some surprisingly positive things to say. Also at 5 Minutes for BooksLauren from Baseball and Bows shares a delightful story about her young son’s degree of bookworm-ness.
  • Shannon Hale has a lovely new post in her “how to be a reader” series. This one is about “reviewing the review”, and who, and what, a review is really for. My favorite sentence is “A review can turn the intimate experience of reading into a conversation that enlightens both sides.” I like that idea a lot. Reading is such a solitary experience, usually, but in reviewing a book, we open up avenues for discussion. I like that! 
  • And finally, my heart goes out to Amanda from A Patchwork of Books on the sad news about her son. I don’t know why terrible things happen to good people, I really don’t. But it does kind of put the recent financial news into perspective…

Wishing you all a peaceful week.

© 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).

Monday
Jul142008

Monday Night Visits: Blog Identity Crisis Edition

From Jen Robinson’s Book Page

So I did my usual Sunday visits post yesterday, and that was all well and good. Except that today, interesting posts simply exploded across the Kidlitosphere. So I’m back with a few additions. (Perhaps feeling extra keen to report on the news, after Daphne Grab kindly included me in a Class of 2k8 round-up of recommended resources for kidlit industry news).

  • First up, my sympathies go out to Jules and Eisha, the proprietors of Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast. They are experiencing a bout of what I like to call “blog focus angst” (though they call it an identify crisis), and they write about it eloquently. Feeling worn down under the pressure of review books and the time required to write the long, thoughtful, link-filled reviews that are their trademark, they’ve decided to pull things back a bit. And who can blame them? I often feel the same way (especially when I actually look at the number of review books that I’ve accumulated recently), and it’s clear from the comments that many other people do, too. I’m just glad that they’ll still be keeping 7-Imp, and modifying it to fit their own busy lives a bit better. Colleen Mondor offers support at Chasing Ray, too.
  • And, in an ironic counterpoint, given the pressure that bloggers are putting on themselves to write thoughtful book reviews, another article (from the Guardian) takes on the print vs. online reviews debateLiz B. offers up her customary insightful analysis of the piece at Tea Cozy. I think that a particularly important point Liz makes is that “there isn’t a lot of print coverage of children’s/YA books, so the blogosphere fills that vacuum.”
  • Meanwhile, Kim and Jason from the Escape Adulthood site are suggesting, as their tip of the week, that readers “Spend 15 – 30 minutes doing something you love that you don’t often have the chance to do.” As Kim points out, ” If you cannot find 15-30 minutes on a regular basis to do something you love, then what’s the point?” Words to live by, I’d say. If our blogs, which started out as a way to talk about our love of reading, become work, then it’s up to us to make them enjoyable again.
  • Kiera Parrott at Library Voice is starting a new reluctant reader pick of the week feature. First up is Jellaby. I think it’s a great idea, and I’ll be watching for her other recommendations. (Though, I hope that Kiera doesn’t put pressure on herself with this weekly schedule - see identify crisis above).
  • Sheila at Greenridge Chronicles has a lovely post about what her family has learned from readalouds (including books by Laura Ingalls Wilder, J. K. Rowling, and Diana Wynne Jones).
  • And if you’re looking to read to escape, Newsweek has an article about the rise of post-apocalyptic fiction aimed at kids. Lots of people are quoted, including Susan Beth Pfeffer (hat-tip to Sue for the link). The article, by Karen Springen, discusses the suitability of such books for kids, and also touches on “potent political messages” embedded in some of the books.
  • And, if you really want to escape, check out Franki Sibberson’s list of books for kids who like Captain Underpants, at Choice Literacy (linked from A Year of Reading). Franki adds “if we are thinking of summer reading lists like this—connecting kids to books based on books they love, kids would have lots of ownership over what they read.”
  • Walter Minkel shares a couple of summer literacy links from Reading Rockets at The Monkey Speaks.
  • And finally, Becky from Becky’s Book Reviews weighs in on the Summer Reading List question. Becky points out (among other insights) that (on the topic of required reading) “You cannot force someone to enjoy something. Requiring something means it’s work. And it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that once something becomes work, it loses its ability to be fun. Work is tedious. It’s mundane. It’s something to be endured.” And so we’ve come full circle with the 7-Imps post, in which Jules said: “I’ve also felt obligated to write about these books after I read them (even if I find fault with the writing), and I just really, REALLY want to read something and not have to report on it. To be thrilled about reading a book and then putting it down, instead of spending one or two hours to write about it….well, that tells me something. I feel like I’m doing to myself what we do to children when we give them programs like Accelerated Reader: Don’t just read and enjoy it. You must take a quiz now. I know I’M DOING THAT TO MYSELF.” Definitely a common theme going on today - don’t take something you enjoy and turn it into work. And especially don’t do that to kids.

Here’s wishing you all 15-30 minutes (at least) to do something that you enjoy.

© 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).