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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 Writing (3)

Saturday
Nov282009

Saturday Afternoon Visits: November 28

From Jen Robinson’s Book Page

I hope that you all had a lovely Thanksgiving. The Kidlitosphere has been relatively quiet of late, but I do have a few links to share with you all this weekend.

Abby (the) Librarian has launched her annual Twelve Days of Giving series, where she “post(s) for twelve days and recommend books for your holiday giving!”. She started on Friday with suggestions for buying books and making the world a better place, and added suggestions for a two-year old today.

BooklightsSee also a fun post from Terry Doherty at Booklights with “ideas for ways to give the gift of reading that don’t require batteries, computers, flashcards, or workbooks.” I especially liked the section on ways to “promote your little detective”. Also at Booklights, Pam Coughlan discusses ways to give a book (a continuing theme that’s she’s presented at MotherReader over the past few years). In the Booklights post, she shares some common themes, such as “giving the book along with a handmade gift certificate for a movie date for a rental or a theater release.” 

Liz Burns shares a post about giving books for the holidays at Tea Cozy. The post is a republication of something she wrote for Foreword Magazine a couple of years ago, but it remains timely today. Rather than a list of book suggestions, Liz includes tips for both giving and receiving books (like “Be Obvious About What You Want”). This is a post that many of us will want to quietly share with our friends and relatives.

Cybils2009-150pxSpeaking of giving books, Anne Levy has gritted her teeth and written her annual Cybils fundraising post. She shares ways that you can, in conjunction with your holiday shopping, send a bit of financial cheer in the direction of the Cybils organization. I also talked about this idea a bit in my post about choosing Cybils books for holiday gifts.

Leila from Bookshelves of Doom is accepting orders for TBR Tallboy #2, a short story magazine featuring stories by a variety of talented writers (including Tanita Davis and Sarah Stevenson from Finding Wonderland). I’m kind of curious about the story on “a pizza delivery guy who has an experience straight out of a pulp-horror magazine”.

Speaking of talented writers, Colleen Mondor has an introspective piece at Chasing Ray about how she does (and does not) talk about being a writer when she’s at holiday parties. Here’s a snippet: “They just shake their heads when you say you are a writer and they laugh a little bit inside. And they look down on you as foolish or flighty or deluded. That doesn’t happen though when you say you own airplanes; in fact when you say that they don’t have any damn thing to say back at all.”

At Maw Books, Natasha has an interesting guest post from author Bonny Becker. Bonny says: “Bad things happen. As a child, I found it scary, intriguing—and encouraging—when bad things happened in books… Now, as a grown-up writer of picture books, I wonder if we’ve gone too far in stripping “bad things” from our mainstream picture books?” She gives some great examples.

At Confessions of a BibliovoreMaureen muses on series books, and the way that some series (“especially the ones that get up to about four or five books with no end in sight”) lose their pull after a few books, while others don’t. She asks: “At what point does a series lose the pull, that Oooh, What’s S/He Going to Do Now and become More of the Same? What has an author done that has pulled it out for you?”. I shared what I think in the comments at Maureen’s.

Quick hits:

That’s all for today. I’ll be back Monday with this week’s Children’s Literacy and Reading News Round-Up (prepared with Terry Doherty) and a new post at Booklights. Hope you’re all enjoying a restful 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
Jul202008

Sunday Afternoon Visits: July 20

From Jen Robinson’s Book Page

BrillanteI spent a lot of time thinking this week about the time that I spend on my blog, and ways to somehow regain a bit of balance in my life. One thing that’s clear is that these Sunday visits posts, much as I enjoy them, are very time-consuming. It’s not just the time to write the post — it’s the 1000+ posts a week that I have to skim through to find the few that I mention here (which does not mean that it’s hard to decide — the right posts actually jump off the page for me — but I still have to find them). This afternoon I could have finished my review of No Cream Puffs and probably finished reading The Diamond of Darkhold, but instead I read and linked to blog posts. And yet, as with everything else, I love knowing what’s going on in the Kidlitosphere, and being part of all of the great discussions that people are having. Still, I may need to scale my blogroll back a bit… Anyway, this week there is plenty to share with you. And I think that I’ll take next weekend off.

  • This morning I was honored to learn that Andrea and Mark from Just One More Book! had awarded me a Brillante Weblog Premio - 2008 award. I’m in excellent company, too, with the other six recipients. Just One More Book! is one of my short-list blogs, because I find Andrea and Mark philosophically in tune with what I believe about children’s books and reading. It’s great to know that they feel the same way.
  • Librarian Mom Els Kushner takes on a particular result from a recent Scholastic survey (the 2008 Kids and Family Reading Report): “89% of kids say their favorite books are the ones they picked out themselves.” She adds “now many of the people reading this already believe in the importance of free book choice for kids. And of course—as is also documented in the Scholastic report—parents can help their children find and choose good and enjoyable books. But it’s just been something that’s struck me over and over, how important it is for kids to find their own reading paths.”
  • Carlie Webber (Librarilly Blonde) links to and discusses a disturbing post from the parenting blog Babble. The blog entry in question is Where Oh Where is Superfudge by Rachel Shukert. And the gist of Shukert’s post is that “Kids’ books aren’t what they used to be”. She recaps several thirty-year-old books about “average kids with real-world problems” and suggests that “the Young Adult section has become … downright aristocratic.” The author’s confusion over the difference between middle grade and YA aside, the sad thing is that Shukert, who clearly wants kids to read diverse and relevant books, has NO IDEA that hundreds of such books exist, and are being published today (in some cases, as one commenter noted, by the same authors for whom Shukert waxes nostalgic - they are writing NEW books). Anyway, do check out both Carlie’s post and the original article and the comments therein. See also Liz B’s post on this subject at Tea Cozy, in which she asks readers to help compile a “List of YA/middle grade books, written in the past few years, that do not have Rich Kids as the main character”. There’s quite an impressive diversity of literature listed in the comments.
  • Speaking of class in young adult literatureTadMack takes on the subject at Finding Wonderland. She was inspired both by Carlie’s post above and by some remarks at Read Roger, saying “I just feel strongly that name-dropping and normalizing affluence in YA literature creates the wrong idea about young adult literature as a genre and gets far more attention somehow than novels pertaining to lives more ordinary.”
  • And speaking of rants on topics like class in YA literature, Colleen Mondor reminds us “starting Monday I declare the entire children/YA portion of the litblogosphere to enjoy a week of posting loud and long about those things that have been driving them crazy in the publishing world.” She lists a few hot-button issues that have recently arisen. Lots of people — too many to link — have already written about a recent Margo Rabb article about the stigma that many people attach to writing YA. Personally, the issue that bugs me the most right now is this “children’s books aren’t what they used to be” post (described above). But I’ll defer my thoughts to a separate post.
  • Via Cheryl Rainfield, Paddington Bear is going to be used in the British Airways children’s travel program. Cheryl also takes on the question of whether or not blog reviews can influence people to buy books, and gives her own data points to say that they can. As for my own data point, I have a whole slew of people who commented on my review of Allegra Goodman’s The Other Side of the Island to say that they want it, and intend to get their hands on it when it’s available. And I recently purchased FoundLittle Brother, and The Adoration of Jenna Fox, among others, as a direct result of blog reviews.
  • Congratulations to Open Book for the recent successes of their Book Buddies program (by which volunteers become reading buddies to young kids). Erin has the details at Read All About It! Coolest part? The program is apparently inspiring some of the volunteers to want to become teachers.
  • For those who are curious, Anastasia Suen has started a Kidlitosphere FAQ, in which she explains what the Kidlitosphere is, and links to some key resources.
  • Trevor Cairney reviews the “Your Baby Can Read” program at Literacy, Families and Learning. He gives the program a detailed assessment, and appears to have approached it with an open mind, but concludes that he wouldn’t introduce it to his own children. He says “Instead of using this program I would encourage my children from birth by stimulating their language (singing to them, reading with them, asking questions etc) and learning (exploration, invention, creative play etc).”
  • Nancy Sondel recently sent me the announcement for the Pacific Coast Children’s Writers workshop. She says that it will be a “small, quality, international seminar in north Santa Cruz county (CA) Aug 15-17, for writers of literary youth novels”. If you are looking for a workshop like this, check out the website for details. 
  • Laurie Halse Anderson shares some “cold hard facts about the writing life.” This post is must-read stuff for aspiring authors.
  • At Becky’s Book Reviews, Becky makes a plea for “more authenticity and less stereotyping” in fiction (especially in the portrayals of both Christianity and body size). She talks eloquently about the ways that we find ourselves in literature, and the ways that we use literature to “see the world through new eyes”.
  • Walter Minkel writes about a recent USA Today report on how having a video on in the background shortens the attention span of children when they’re playing. Walter is concerned that this “means that children’s attention spans are broken up, and kids are engaging in less, and more fragmented, imaginative play. I’m concerned that as kids grow older and become more and more fixated on screens - in particular, the Net and video games - they use less and less of their imaginations and let their brains fall under the direction of Web designers and game designers.”

Hope that you’re all having a great day!

© 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).

Wednesday
Jul022008

Wednesday Afternoon Visits: July 2

From Jen Robinson’s Book Page

I’m finally feeling a bit caught up after last weekend’s ALA Conference, and I have a few links to share with you.

  • MotherReader posts about the first meeting of her Mother-Daughter Summer Book Club, in which the participants read Jenny Han’s Shug (which I reviewed here). Pam said: “Most interesting for me was finding out that the realistic flavor of the book that I find so appealing was actually a turn-off to some of the girls. I loved the book because it took me back to that transition so clearly and represented that age so accurately. But these particular girls felt like they’re already living this life of friends and crushes and popularity — why would they want to read about it?” Fascinating, isn’t it? Something for we adult reviewers of children’s and young adult books to keep in mind. (hmmm …. do you think the acronym ARCYAB would catch on?)
  • Speaking of summer reading, The Book Whisperer, Donalyn Miller, writes about the dichotomy by which summer reading for adults consists of “fast-paced thrillers…, weepy beach blanket reads, and thick historical epics” while young adults are required to read improving fare. She says: “We must remind ourselves that readers who leave school and keep reading are those people who discover reading is personally valuable”, suggesting that kids should be left to read what they enjoy during the summer. I know I did.
  • If you’re looking for summer reading lists, here are a few good choices. Esme Raji Codell reviews We Are the Ship, and shares various other baseball books at PlanetEsme. Els Kushner suggests several “magical, timeless, enchanting novels for children are set during summer vacation” at Librarian Mom. In contrast, Charlotte has a list of “cool books with which to escape summer” at Charlotte’s Library. Summer reading options for all! I have to say that personally, I find the summer vacation list the most enticing - it’s nice to see The Penderwicks on the same page as their literary antecedents, the Melendy Family.
  • Jama Rattigan’s Alphabet Soup has an illustration-filled interview with Marla Frazee (the talented illustrator who makes Clementine spring from the page). I especially enjoyed a photo of Marla’s work studio, which looks like a secret little cottage in the woods.
  • For all you writers out there, Laurie Halse Anderson has issued a challenge for July. She says: “1. Commit to write for 15 minutes a day for the entire month of July. 2. Just do it.” Sounds almost achievable, doesn’t it? Laurie will have encouraging/check-in posts every day on her blog.
  • And, for anyone thinking about writing as a career, you might want to check out TadMack’s recent post (OK, rant) at Finding Wonderland about the financial side of being a children’s book author. She says: “Don’t get me wrong: I love what I do. And if you want to, may you find the courage to write, too. Just understand that it may not be blindingly lucrative, and please be nice to the writers you know, who are sometimes taken for granted as the one in the group who should treat everyone to dinner or coffee because they’re “rich.” OK. Point taken.
  • Cheryl Rainfield has rounded up a huge list of contests by which you can win books for children and teens, as well as a couple that have e-book readers as prizes.
  • Via Sarah Weinman’s blog, Confessions of an Idiosyncratic Mind, I learned that someone is publishing a Treasure Island prequel. It’s not going to be a children’s book, however. According to the Independent, “The author John Drake, a former biochemist and freelance TV producer, has spent years studying Treasure Island line by line, together with books and essays on 18th-century shipping and piracy. The book, Flint & Silver, is the first in a scheduled series of six, snapped up last year by Harper Collins. Mr Drake is currently negotiating with a US publishing house for the American rights.”
  • Anna from the Literacy is Priceless blog recently recapped some family literacy activities from the PBS Kids Raising Readers site, including a shout-out to the WordWorld show. And speaking of public broadcasting, via my friend Alex, WBUR and NPR’s On Point broadcast today was about “A new history of children’s literature, and what it tells us about growing up”. The program featured guest Seth Lerer, professor of English and comparative literature at Stanford University and author of Children’s Literature: A Reader’s History from Aesop to Harry Potter.

It’s good to be back home, hanging around in the Kidlitosphere. Happy reading!

© 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).