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Life As We Knew It: Susan Beth Pfeffer

Sunday Afternoon Visits: April 1

Happy April Fool's Day! Happy Palm Sunday! And Happy Birthday, D! I was actually able to stay caught up with the blogs this week. And there are tons and tons of interesting posts that I've earmarked to share with you (and no, none of them are actually April Fool's-ish):

  • I discovered that the blog South of the Border, West of the Sun had addressed my question from many months ago about "children's books you'd like to live in." She makes some great choices, including the somewhat unexpected (certainly uncommon) choice of The Extraordinary and Unusual Adventures of Horatio Lyle as a book to live in.
  • And, as another follow-up to something I mentioned, Betsy from Fuse #8 links to an answer to my question about the lure of post-apocalypse stories. The LA Times concludes this: "The simple answer is that the attacks of 9/11 and the Iraq war have brought a sense of unease and vulnerability to both artists and audiences. Growing worries about global warming and the greater visibility of the Christian right — Protestant fundamentalists, for whom the apocalypse is not metaphor, are thought to have swung the last two presidential elections — have brought the end of the world in from the shadows." Personally, I think that may explain the upswing in publication, but still doesn't address the fundamental interest we have as human beings in such stories.
  • Liz interviews Alma Fullerton at Tea Cozy. I reviewed Alma's book, In the Garage, in February. And, for another fabulous author interview, check out Miss Erin's talk with Rick Riordan. And not to be missed is Camille's recap of a Rick Riordan school visit at Book Moot, including five signs that the author visit has been a success.
  • Mitali Perkins has a new can't miss article in School Library Journal's Curriculum Connections. She discusses the need for and advantages of books that create a strong sense of place, with lots of detailed examples. Several of the books that she discusses are Cybils middle grade fiction titles (because Mitali was a staunch member of the nominating committee). She also includes a writing exercise for students. Also, be sure to check out the blog of Mitali's upcoming book character, Sameera Righton, daughter of the (fictional) President.
  • Inspired by a spring walk, Tricia writes about books that fill the senses at The Miss Rumphius Effect.
  • Robin Brande asks readers to list "nice things you did for yourself this week." It's a nice idea, and made me really stop to think about what I do for myself, vs. what I do for others, or because I have to do something. This is a nice companion post to the 7-Imp 7 Kicks Before Monday series, in which people write about nice things that have happened to them over the week. These people will turn me into a "glass half-full" kind of person yet.
  • There's an interesting discussion going on at The Longstockings (and other places, Caroline Hickey has the links) about what people do with leftover review copies. Caroline raises the issue that when people sell ARCs, "the authors don't receive any money from these transactions." What I think is that legally, a person who receives an ARC owns it, and can do with it what they like once the book is published. But personally, selling my review books makes me a bit uncomfortable, and I prefer to give them away as gifts, or to charity.
  • Somewhat apologetically, Shannon Hale revisits the Scrotumgate issue. Specifically, she takes offense to the notion that Susan Patron might have introduced the word "scrotum" into The Higher Power of Lucky for "shock value." Her point is that authors value words, and choose them very carefully, so "Why would we waste a single one just to shock and risk ruining the story?"
  • On a lighter note, Liz Garton Scanlon (Liz in Ink) describes a recent school visit. After a mention of the award sticker on her picture book (A Sock is a Pocket for your Toes), a kindergarten boy asked "Is that why you write books, to get more and more labels? To win more and more awards?". Check out her response, and his wisdom beyond his years.
  • GuusjeM Of Life, Education, E-bay, Travel, & Books writes about the use of goal setting (and food) to encourage less privileged kids to read books. She's rather blunt (she is in Texas), with statements like "After 16 years in the biz I've come to the conclusion that some kids are born with an inner drive to read and some aren't. Some, no matter what you do just don't like reading" (though she still tries to get them reading). I thought she had interesting and useful things to say.
  • Jason Kotecki from Escape Adulthood proposes (inspired in part by Kim and Jason's podcast interview with me) that our nation would be better off (and we would all sleep better) if people traded in "the evening news for a few pages of a good children’s book." What do you think?
  • Els Kushner goes into a bit of rant at book, book, book about the historical inaccuracy of The Boy in the Striped Pajamas. She says: "Historical events aren't playthings for writers who want to make a point. Details matter, especially to the relatives and descendants of those to whom those details happened." As someone who lives with a descendant of a population that experienced a related historical event (the Armenian genocide of 1915 to 1917), those words rang very true to me.
  • The Scholar's Blog Book Discussion Group is beginning discussion of a new title this week: Terry Pratchett's A Hat Full of Sky.
  • Kelly linked to a heartwarming story about the power of children's literature from Big A little a. The Washington Post story by Margie Goldsmith describes how the book Madeline and a letter from Ludwig Bemelmans helped her to keep hope during a dark childhood. Kelly also steered me to a fabulous article by Don Tate in the Austin American Statesman. Don describes his recent speaking gig / visit with a group of "young men at the Gardner Betts Juvenile Justice Center library in South Austin", and his hope to have made a difference for them. It's not to be missed!
  • Choice Literacy is featuring, from their archives, an article by the Kidlitosphere's own Franki Sibberson about how to invite children to see the playful language in books. She says: "Over the years, I have learned that for children to really be attentive to word meanings and spelling patterns, they first need to see the fun in words and language", and then goes on to give examples.
  • And speaking of our friends at A Year of Reading, Mary Lee has an update about her use of literature circles with her students. The post includes lots of great stuff, but by far my favorite part was this: "The next day, the most reluctant member, who had never read a book that long and was pretty sure he couldn't, asked to reconvene the group so he could try to convince them to read more -- he had finished 25 pages in one day, he was hooked, and he knew the rule about not reading past the stopping point. If I haven't done anything else of value this year, I have shown that one student what it's like to get sucked into a story so great you don't want to put it down!" I think that's of tremendous and lifelong value for the student, don't you?
  • Saturday was Silly Words Day at Journey Woman. Nancy received lots of great submissions, and will be announcing a winner soon.
  • Amanda is having a contest, inspired by Buy A Friend A Book week, over at A Patchwork of Books. If you comment on this post, she'll put your name into a drawing to receive a free book of your choice  (under $15). How cool is that?
  • And finally, if you've made it this far, you simply must check out Robin Brande's latest post, about how much time blogging takes up, and how we do and don't prioritize things. There's a lot of great input in the comments, too. I left a long response, but do some internet quirk, I don't think that it was saved. It was probably overly long anyway.

And that should be more than enough for any children's literature aficionado for one day. Happy Reading!

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