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Life Lessons from Children's Books

Wednesday Afternoon Visits: October 4

I've been a bit preoccupied lately, and haven't provided you with very many links to what's going on around the kidlitosphere. I've tried to catch up a bit today. Here are some highlights (and low-lights, in one case):

  • A Fuse #8 Production started a veritable uproar by publishing an anonymous letter that she received that is critical of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (henceforth known as the SCBWI debate). There has been a huge discussion about the society going on in the comments, but it is mercifully antagonism-free, simply people having an intelligent discussion about the nature of this society. I don't personally have anything to contribute to the discussion, because I've never participated in the SCBWI, but it's an interesting debate.
  • Did you hear about the Frisco, Texas art teacher who was suspended because her students saw nude art while on a field trip an art museum? You can read the New York Times article about it here. This woman was apparently well-regarded, a 28-year classroom veteran, until she made the grievous error of taking her students to the Dallas Museum of Art last spring. Astounding! Thanks to Franki at A Year of Reading for the link.
  • Chris Barton is taking a new approach to selecting history books for his two sons. Instead of selecting books by chronology, he's going to look for history books by theme. He's going to select the themes according to the kids' interest. He says: "Many of the titles I'll expose them to won't look like history books at all, and some won't even be children's books. The idea is that I'm going to give them more of what they're already passionate about, and let their curiosity and the contextual details in these books do the rest." They are starting with birds.
  • As announced at Big A little a and at Scholar's Blog, the shortlists have been announced for the Nestlé children's book awards, a long-time set of awards given in the UK. As Kelly explained, the Nestlés are different from other children's book awards in the UK in that after the shortlists are selected, kids take over the judging process. Awards will be announced on December 13th.
  • Many bloggers have been excited to welcome new kid lit blogger Monica Edinger, with her new blog educating alice.
  • Wendy has some interesting thoughts at Blog from the Windowsill about the nature of book reviewing, and whether or not we as reviewers should publish negative reviews. Wendy says yes, and discusses what it takes to write a meaningful review. It's some food for thought, that's for sure.
  • Anne from Book Buds and Susan from Chicken Spaghetti were able to meet recently, and each shares her thoughts on how nice it was to spend time with someone else who has the same "obsession with kiddie lit" (as Anne put it). I've been fortunate this year to meet up with Kelly Herold from Big A little a and Kim from Gemini Moon. So much fun!
  • On a related note, Liz from A Chair, A Fireplace and A Tea Cozy asks if anyone else will be attending the ALA midwinter conference. I have to admit that I don't know what industry conferences to attend, myself, since I'm not a librarian or a teacher, and I'm not an author (except for the blog). But I'm sure I'll figure something out. It is a great gift to be able to spend time with people who are passionate about the same things.
  • Young adult author John Green has been conducting a blog circuit interview tour. You can read thoughtful interviews at Chasing Ray, Frank Portman's blog, and A Fuse #8 Production. MotherReader was also able to finagle an informal interview by posting some questions for John in an open post, to which he responded. As for me, I've been meaning to read An Abundance of Katherines since it came out, but I haven't gotten to it yet. So many books, so little time...
  • TadMack at Finding Wonderland is looking for suggestions for books for two to four year olds, so that she can support a nonprofit Early Childhood Education Center. As she is a young adult writer, she is seeking help in deciding what to buy. Also, while there were many posts last week for banned book week, TadMack particularly took the topic to heart, and posted thoughtful comments every day. Visit Finding Wonderland and scroll down to see.
  • Melissa Wiley had a very moving post last week in which she cited some of her journals from 1997, when her daughter Jane was in the hospital for leukemia and when she also started writing her Martha series. If you are in need of perspective, I highly recommend this post.
  • Susan Taylor Brown shares her impressions of her Hugging the Rock book launch party. Oh, how I wanted to be there (it was last week, when I was in Minneapolis). But I'm so glad that it was a success.
  • If such things interest you, you can find Disco Mermaids Mad Libs here. And I'm not sure if I ever congratulated Jay from The Disco Mermaids for being named A Fuse #8 Production's 26th Hot Man of Children's Literature. It's quite an honor. I'm sure that it's much deserved, though I have yet to actually meet Jay in person.
  • In honor of the final volume of Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events, Miss Erin is posting a quotation from the series each day, from October 1st to the 13th. They're a lot of fun!
  • Semicolon has a round-up of writing contests for children and adults. Sherry also believes that she has discovered the latitude of the island on Lost. For those of you who are not familiar with the television show Lost, the new season starts TONIGHT.

And, while I'm sure that there are other things that I've missed, I had better get back to work so that I'll be ready to watch Lost when it comes on. Yes, I have Tivo, but if one is obsessed with something, it doesn't do to hold off for too long.

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