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Happy Mother's Day!

Happy Mother's Day to all of you mothers out there, especially to my own Mom, who passed along to me the love of books, and always makes me feel special, and to Mheir's Mom, who has passed along many wonderful meals to us, and who always makes me feel welcome. I would also like to send special Mother's Day wishes out to two friends who are mothers for the first time this year. Happy Mother's Day, Nic! Happy Mother's Day, Carla! Mheir and I hope that you are basking in the glow of this day.


Blogging the Kidlitosphere

Our own Betsy Bird of A Fuse #8 Production has an article about Blogging the Kidlitosphere in the May/June issue of The Horn Book Magazine. I haven't received my print copy yet, but the full article is available online. My favorite quote from the article is this:

"Every day more parents, teachers, librarians, scholars, authors, illustrators, and readers are discovering and creating blogs of their own in an effort to add something to the general discourse surrounding books for kids. You can avoid blogs and suffer few consequences, but this new technology offers a remarkable way to talk about children’s literature while adequately supplementing already existing media."

Way to go, Betsy! The website also include a list of Kid-lit Bloggers to Watch, with short descriptions of each site. Welcome, to all Horn Book readers who have clicked through to visit this page. And thanks, Betsy, for making us all look good with your well-informed piece.

© 2009 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved.


Quick Hits on Wednesday

First things first, Happy Birthday to Cory! And belated Passover greetings to my Passover-celebrating friends. Here are a few things that caught my attention, that I didn't think should wait for the weekend:

  • First of all, don't forget to make your submission for the lucky 13th carnival of children's literature. Submissions are trickling in, but there are many blog friends who I haven't heard from yet.
  • LitLove has an interesting post at Tales from the Reading Room about the future of the book, written in response to an Economist article. She particularly takes exception (and rightly so, I think) with the idea that "Certainly, some types of fiction – novels as well as novellas – are also likely to migrate online and to cease being books. Many fantasy fans, for example, have already put aside books and logged on to “virtual worlds” such as “World of Warcraft”, in which muscular heroes and heroines get together to slay dragons and such like. Science fiction may go the same way, and is arguably already being created by “residents” of online worlds such as Second Life."  She's evoked some vehement responses in the comments.
  • Vivian has issued a challenge over at HipWriterMama. She asks us: "What Would You Do If You Knew You Could Not Fail? Create your own Mission Statement and be as specific as you can. Identify the who, what, where, when and how, if possible." She's offering prized for people who share their mission statements and hold themselves accountable. Strong stuff! I wish her well in her own stated goal, too. I was especially taken by Robin Brande's words of encouragement to Vivian and others in the comments. Well worth checking out.
  • If you are interested in the present and future of young adult publishing, Liz has a can't miss post over at Tea Cozy. She discusses two articles on the subject, and posts her own opinions, and has many other shared opinions in the comments. See also TadMack's response to these articles, and her passionate and informed response to yet another article about YA books at Finding Wonderland.
  • I also recommend Colleen Mondor's Stories for Boys column at Booksl*t. How did I miss that Robert Parker just published a YA mystery? Oh, maybe because it won't be released until later this month. But Colleen reviews several other titles, too. If you're looking for books to recommend to older boys, it's well worth reading. 
  • Tricia continues her insightful posts over at The Miss Rumphius Effect. First, she writes about the amount of time that teachers spend focused on reading in the classroom, and whether or not science and social studies are getting short shrift. Her mantra is now "Where's the science?" See also A Year of Reading's response. Tricia also has a non-book-related post that I identified with about the fact that children don't play outside as much now as they did when we were children. I find it sad, too. Some of my best childhood memories are of climbing trees, and exploring woods.
  • Fans of Beverly Cleary (and really, who isn't?) should definitely check out this post by Jennifer at The Kiddosphere. She says "In celebration of Beverly Cleary’s 91st birthday, I am challenging myself to read all of her books by her birthday, April 12. It’s been an interesting experience, to say the least." She proceeds to discuss several of the books, complete with nostalgic cover pictures.
  • At Fuse #8, Betsy revisits the frequently-addressed question of whether or not book reviewers should write negative reviews, with a new twist inspired by comments from Gail Gauthier. Gail said that while she would prefer not to have bad reviews, at least they tell a writer that their book is worth discussing. Betsy asks whether or not it might help the author for us to publish negative reviews, as compared to the current widespread policy of not writing at all about the books that we don't care for. It's the old "all publicity is good publicity" thing. I have done this a couple of times (written about a book that I wasn't personally wild about because I thought that even my luke-warm words would at least get some exposure for the book), but I think that it's tough on author and reviewer.
  • Check out Blog from the Windowsill for a hilarious Kidlitosphere-based spoof of the Little House books. I rarely actually laugh out loud while reading blog posts, but this one did it for me. Here's a tiny example, but you really should go check out the whole post: "Miss Robinson told them she was a tutor for a young girl in the nearby town, but when she wasn't busy Educating Alice, she loved to share books with her neighbors. "Prairie life is so busy" she said with a smile, "But There's Always Time for a Book."" You do have to be a Kidlitosphere aficionado to appreciate it.
  • Cynthia Leitich Smith reviews a book that I simply must read. It's called Don't You Forget About Me: Contemporary Writers on the Films of John Hughes. Since I know many of these movies by heart, more or less, this is a book that I'll simply have to read.

OK, so this wasn't so very quick. But there's some interesting stuff. Happy reading!


Quick Hits

A few more things for you to ponder, as you wait eagerly for Valentine's Day, and the Cybils award announcements:

  • Franki at A Year of Reading takes up the question raised at The Miss Rumphius Effect, and asks why it is that some older books just don't interest current students. She includes a classroom experience with From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler as an example. There's some interesting discussion in the comments. At least, I think it's interesting, because I've had this experience with my nieces, too. I was so excited when they were first old enough to read books I loved, but I found that often these would fall flat. I do better if I'm up on current books to recommend and discuss. You may also want to read Tricia's follow-up to her original post about this.
  • Gail Gauthier links to a wonderful article in the Burlington Free Press about the real-life story behind Katherine Paterson's A Bridge to Terebithia. I knew vaguely that the book was based on a true story, but this article goes into enough detail to make me really understand. Wow! It's also a testament to the impact that the right childhood friend can have on someone's life.
  • Jennifer at Snapshot has initiated the very cool Read to Me 2007 challenge, to encourage parents to set tangible goals for reading more with their kids. What could be better than that? Well, there will also be an Amazon gift certificate awarded as a prize.
  • If you want to see a great story about how writers support one another, check out this post at Cynthia Lord's journal. And while we're talking with writers, you can read Shannon Hale's thoughts on why reading negative reviews of her books isn't helpful for her.
  • I've been avoiding the whole Maureen Dowd column about chick lit debate (this Galley Cat entry, which I learned about from Liz B. at Tea Cozy, sums it up quite well). But I was taken with Bookseller Chick's response to this and some other recent instances of book snobbery. She offers a strong defense of people's right to read whatever they want to, saying "My time, and what I do with it, is my time and until it affects the great and judgmental you in some detrimental way you don’t have a right to infringe upon it." She also adds a solid yet witty defense of genre novels, asking: "If it expands my vocabulary, does it count? If it educates me in pop culture, something that our world trades upon as heavily these days as solid facts, have I wasted brain space or increased my knowledge in other areas more accessible to those around me?" It's great stuff. Well worth reading.

And now I'm reasonably caught up, and off to go finish my last unread title from the MG and YA Fiction shortlists for the Cybils.


Mid-Week Visits: February 7

Usually I save round-up posts for the weekends, when I have more time. But there is so much great stuff going on this week, that I simply must bring it to your attention right now.

  • First of all, there is only one week left to wait for the announcement of the Cybils winners! Liz B. from Tea Cozy has an excellent article about the Cybils published today in School Library Journal. A fine companion piece to her article about the kidlitosphere from the other day, I think. You can also find a teaser over at the Cybils site about the status of the various groups, and a post about how to better spread the word about the awards, with suggestions in the comments. If you have thoughts about how to promote this award, head on over and give your feedback.
  • You'll also recall that I wrote the other day about maintaining a childlike spirit, even while working at a responsible adult job. Well, Alvina has a post at Blue Rose Girls about remembering your childhood and finding activities that bring you back there in spirit. And Grace Lin wants to have a party. Such a fun crowd, those Blue Rose Girls.
  • Meanwhile Whimsy Books reports on the Top 10 Hazards of Being an Obsessive Reader. Let's just say that I can relate. I also relate to her obsession with all things Stephenie Meyer (author of Twilight and New Moon), and enjoyed this detailed list of notes from a recent Stephenie Meyer talk. And can I just say that I totally picked up on the Pride and Prejudice vibe in the first book, as mentioned in my review.
  • I learned from Wendy at Blog from the Windowsill that it's Library Lover's Month. She urges people to celebrate by checking out books. I say, be nice to a librarian, or volunteer, or donate books, or all of those things. Libraries are a critical part of our communities, and we should be appreciating them year-round. It's no coincidence that the Foundation and Friends organization that I volunteer for has the url www.LoveTheLibrary.org.
  • In a tremendous show of modesty, MotherReader has declared this MotherReader Week. It must be true, because in addition to her interviews on the Cybils site and the 7-Imp site, her Blogger's Against Celebrity Authors plan was mentioned in the Orlando Sentinel Parenting Blog.
  • It's not too late to take part in the first Scholar's Blog Book Discussion Group. If you've read Susan Cooper's King of Shadows, head on over to the Scholar's Blog Spoiler Zone to put in your two cents. There's some great discussion going on.
  • And if you're thinking of becoming a writer, check out Kirby Larson's thoughts on what people should ask themselves before answering the call to write children's books. Best sentence: "If you take up writing for children because you think it's easy, because you have a message to send or because your grandchildren love your stories about Opie Oppossum whose tail doesn't curl, please do the world a favor and go on tour with Madonna instead." Kirby is the author of the Newbery Honor winning Hattie Big Sky.
  • And while we're talking about this year's Newbery Honor winners, please join me in congratulating Cynthia Lord for selling her second, third, and fourth books! Yay, Cindy!
  • And while we're still talking about Newbery Honor winners from this year, I received a lovely package from Jennifer Holm this week. I'll be posting a picture and details soon.
  • In case you haven't seen it yet, Overdue Media's Unshelved comic strip recently featured Kiki Strike! Thanks to Gail Gauthier for the link.
  • For a different take on literacy, check out Jess's post over at Frontline Books. She writes about how newer technologies (like html and videos and podcasts) affect our ability to read, and our pleasure from reading. You can see some of my thoughts in the comments. I met Jess at the BlogHer conference in San Jose last summer, and enjoy her academic perspective on the digital culture, and the role of women in said culture.

And that's enough for today. Whew! It's hard to keep up with all this Kidlitosphere activity.


Monday Night Visits: January 29

The past week or so has been a bit hectic for me, work-wise, compounded by the fact that I got a new laptop, and I had to spend quite a lot of time getting it set up and working. (It is gorgeous, and only weighs 3 pounds!). But this has kept me largely absent from the kidlitosphere for a few days. And boy, you disappear for a few days, and you miss all sorts of interesting things. Here are a just a few highlights, from a very quick glance. I'll be back with more soon.

  • Jennifer discusses When to Quit over at Snapshot. She includes a list of "signs that it might be time to quit (a relationship, a job, a ministry, a committee)." Having struggled with this at times myself, I found comfort in her words, as did a variety of commenters.
  • Jennifer Schultz of The Kiddosphere at Fauquier is starting a new feature: Around the World with Your Library Card. She begins with Indiana, complete with maps, tourist information, and, of course, various children's books that take place in Indiana. It's a fun trip!
  • I am very late in reporting this, but Lisa Yee has announced the winners in her fractured book title contest (in which you change the first letter of one word of a children's book title, and come up with a short description of the resulting book). The winner is: "Billy's Purple Plastic Purse: When Billy brings his latest fashion accessory to school, Mr Slinger helps the kindergarten class understand that it's okay for Billy to march to the beat of a different drummer." If you find this funny, head on over and check out the full list of nominations. It had me giggling so much that Mheir was actually concerned for my sanity (OK, the jury's still out on that).
  • And, for another quick dose of amusement, check out Journey Woman's photos of computers that you can use while comfortably lying down. They are a bit scary, actually. But tempting. Very tempting. I don't think that my new 3-pound baby computer would hurt me.
  • On a more serious note, there's been quite a bit of discussion going on regarding the nature of awards, and of the Cybils in particular. You can read some of Colleen's thoughts at Chasing Ray, or you can find an intense discussion in the comments of this A Fuse #8 Production post. Midwestern Lodestar also has some thoughts in response to the Fuse post. For my part, I think that Cybils co-chairs, Anne and Kelly, have done a tremendous thing in a short amount of time, and with a lot of help from the Kidlitosphere. I'm equally sure that next year, with the benefit of experience, will be even better.
  • There's also a prolific discussion going on over at Read Roger about the Newbery awards, diversity, picking books that kids want to read, and more. It's all well worth thinking about, especially for those of us judging for the Cybils. Thanks to A Fuse #8 Production for the link. See also Leila's response to the Read Roger post, over at Bookshelves of Doom.
  • And as a nice counterpoint to the awards discussion, Gail Gauthier writes about Why Blog Reviews are Important. Among other excellent points, she notes that "Blog reviews bring books to the attention of readers who had never heard of them, but they also remind readers of books they'd been meaning to read but had forgotten about." She challenges blog reviewers not to replicate the print journals by always scurrying to review the newest thing, but to take time out to review other, older gems, also. Thanks to Liz B. for the link.
  • And, on the topic of what kids like to read, check out this guest article at Chicken Spaghetti, by Deborah J. Lightfoot, about the Accelerated Reader program. It's eye-opening stuff! Some of the comments are quite vehement, too.
  • What with Mary Lee and Franki from A Year of Reading having reached their goal of finding 100 Cool Teachers of Children's Literature, Franki is proposing a new list: 100 Great Children's Books About Books and Reading. Let her know if you have anything to add.
  • Also on the scene with a new list, Wendy from Blog from the Windowsill and Lady Schrapnell from So Many Books... are compiling a list of "our favorite tough, selfish, mean, even downright rotten kids." So fun!

And oh, I know there's a lot more. But this should keep you all busy for a while.


Sunday Afternoon Visits: January 21

Time is short. The Patriot's play at 3:30 (PST), and we are going over to a friend's house to watch. Usually, we watch football at home (thank you, DirecTV), and I can sneak in work on my weekly visits post during the slow parts of the game. But not today - not in the AFC playoffs. Still, here are a few things that I saved up from during the week. Fortunately for my ability to keep up, a lot of people are at the ALA, and aren't posting as much as usual.

  • First of all, I have a question for you. A visitor to my blog was asking me about how to find information on a book that she dimly remembered from her childhood. And I would like to have a more general answer to give to this question. Does anyone have any experience with Book Stumpers? Or, do you have other sites that you can recommend? I've heard mention of such sites, but I wasn't clever enough to write them down, so I'm hoping for your help. Thanks!
  • Over at Chicken Spaghetti, Susan responds to Janine Wood's article "Please, I Want Some Dickens" in the Christian Science Monitor, a woman's plea for her son, and other preteens, to read more Dickens. Susan comments: "I'm going to go out on a limb here, say, about an inch, and suggest this: the subtext of this kind of piece is always "I'm smarter than you are." Which is too bad, because toward the end of the  article, Wood makes some good suggestions for creating more interest in the classics."
  • There is a ton of speculation about the upcoming Newbery announcements. To get yourself in the mood for the award, check out A Year of Reading's Mock Newbery Round-Up post, where Mary Lee and Franki summarize several people's projected picks. You can also find twenty-some people's top picks in the comments of this post at A Fuse #8 Production.
  • Also not to be missed is Franki's article about the Cybils for Choice Literacy. Thanks to LibrariAnne for the link. And speaking of Anne, she has a great post about the recent Best Books for Young Adults meeting, and a discussion about "books published for adults and their place in this list of best books for teens." She also includes comments about some specific books, and has lots of other posts about the conference, too.
  • As a fan of Jacqueline Winspear's Maisie Dobbs series (adult historical mysteries), I enjoyed Colleen Mondor's recent article about Paul Nash and Maisie Dobbs. In other news, Colleen also reports: "Fans of Kiki Strike be aware that the latest Bloomsbury catalog included a teaser that a sequel will be listed in the Fall catalog. No word - anywhere - as to what it's about but I'm delighted to see a return to this story." I say, YAY, Kiki Strike! (Which in no way indicates whether or not I'm going to vote for Kiki Strike for the middle grade Cybils award - I like the other books too.)
  • Proud new mom Shannon Hale asks about Seuss for the teenage mind. She's responding to an article about efforts back in the 50's to get authors to write "an alternative reading primer that first graders wouldn't be able to put down." She asks "And what about high school students? Don't they have the right to read books that aren't boring? There's little comparison between the banal Dick and Jane books and the renowned classics that make up a high school English class curriculum. But still, I find a correlation. Dick and Jane were the unquestioned reading material of elementary schools for years until people started to say, hey, wait a minute, why can't we have other choices? Literacy at the high school level is very much threatened. Wouldn't it also make a difference to have stories that capture the older reader's interest?" I think that it's an excellent post, and it has generated her usual dozens of comments in response.
  • HipWriterMama is back with more Strong Girl Role Models, including, coincidentally, Miri from Shannon Hale's Princess Academy. She should have another list out soon, too, because this one is from last Sunday.
  • TadMack has some additional follow-up thoughts on book reviewing and the Cybils. I'm having some trouble with the site's permanent links, but head on over to Finding Wonderland, and scroll down through the last couple of posts. See in particular her comments, and her link to Not Your Mother's Book Club's comments, on the fact that the Young Adult fiction shortlist ended up with four out of five books from the same publisher. TadMack said: "The second painful thing was that shortlist -- and discovering that four of the final five are from one publishing house. We hadn't noticed until we 'heard' that house described as having a stranglehold on the category. Ouch!" Personally, I believe that the fact that four out of five titles were from the same publishing house shows that the team WASN'T taking the publisher into account in selecting the books, because if they had known, they would have been tempted to balance things out a bit. And I don't think that would have been right. They picked the books that they thought were the best. Period.
  • Thanks to the Disco Mermaids for linking to the first issue of the Class of 2k7 eZine. You can find it here. If you subscribe, you could win a selection of Advance Reading Copies of books by Class of 2k7 authors.
  • The Longstockings Question of the Week is "what children's book character would you want as your best friend?" They always have such appealing questions. Not that they asked me, but I would have to say that I'm torn between Pippi and Hermione (both of whom where selected by Longstockings, too). I would not choose Lyra, because look what happened to her first best friend... The Longstockings also gave out their new award, the Flappie Award, to Absolutely Positively Not..., for best jacket flap copy. The book was nominated by Jay from The Disco Mermaids, and is one that I've been wanting to read.
  • Wendy shares some thoughts about writing book reviews at Blog from the Windowsill, here and here. I've never given much thought to the concept of reviewer's block, but I definitely have it from time to time. Right now, for instance, I have a bunch of books that I read around the holidays, and didn't have time to review. It would appear that I have time now, since I'm spending all this time visiting other blogs. And yet... I can't make myself sit down and write the reviews. I think it's because I'm putting some pressure on myself to write "better" reviews, and as a result, I don't write them at all. But I will. Soon. Wendy has helped motivate me.
  • Little Willow has a new list of Books for Sports Fans. They aren't all books about sports (e.g. The Westing Game), but are books with characters that sports fans will identify with. She's also updated her list of Funny Fiction for Kids.
  • If you're not a fan of this book, be sure to check out The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane: Readers Theater at MotherReader. And if you are a fan, well, then you might not think that it's funny. I haven't actually read Edward Tulane, but I think that the Reader's Theater is hilarious.
  • Over at Original Content, Gail Gauthier relates an experience that she and her son had with The Westing Game. While she and her son liked the book, when his class at school read it, the other kids complained that it was too hard. Gail concludes: "I'm always concerned about whether kids like the same books the adult kidlit community does, so I found this incident worrisome. That's all. But it made me think. And still does." I sometimes wonder about this question, too, so I thought it was an interesting post. Though I have no intelligent conclusions to make on the subject.
  • Jennifer discusses three different versions of Mary Poppins (book, movie, and Broadway show) over at Snapshot. Definitely enough to make me want to go back and re-read the books.
  • Eisha and Jules over at Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast have their first of a planned series of interviews available. This one is with Liz B. from A Chair, A Fireplace, and a Tea Cozy. My favorite part (because I feel the same way) is where Liz says: "While I do post mostly about books, my broader interest is in stories. The stories we tell, the stories we believe, the ones we read and the ones we watch. The ones we want to believe in, the ones we’re afraid of, and the stories we tell because we’re afraid and we want comfort. I think stories are important, and whether it’s a picture book or a T.V. show or Gossip Girls, it’s important." Bravo to that! And it's exactly how I justify watching TV and loving books.
  • Kristen has put together a list of "awesome resources for reading and kid lit" over at Pixie Stix Kids Pix. She includes both printed and web resources. It's well worth checking out.
  • I wrote a bunch yesterday about raising readers (in the context of Jim Trelease's visit). But I've also always been interested in young kids who are interested in writing (hello, J. from Lexington and N. from Westwood). So I was particularly interested to read Adrienne's recent post about Raising a Writer. She says "Personally, I can't get enough of watching this barely seven-year-old using writing to express himself, to communicate, to entertain, and for all manner of practical applications." I feel that way about a couple of kids I know, too.

Thank you all for visiting. This is my 500th published post. I look forward to 500 more! Happy reading!


Sunday Afternoon Visits: January 14

This weekend I read three of the Cybils shortlist titles in Middle Grade fiction (Heat, Framed, and Weedflower). I still have plenty of other books on my to read stack, starting with a re-read of Kiki Strike, which I read several months ago. I haven't spent a lot of time visiting the other blogs this weekend, because I've been wrapped up in reading. But here are a few things worth noting:

  • In case you missed it, last week was National Delurker Week. I posted about it, and have so far had comments from 13 people. A few are old friends who couldn't resist an invitation to comment (and who can blame them?), and some are newer friends. I was also pleased to hear from several previously unknown lurkers. Blogs that I wasn't previously acquainted with include: Left Coast Mama, The Sixth Essential (which would be books, of course), and Whoopittydoooo. And of course, the first thing I did was check out everyone's blog, and/or email them as appropriate. And just so you know, this is what nearly everyone does who has a blog. So, if you have a new blog, and you want people to notice it, the best thing to do is comment on other people's blogs. Stepping off of soapbox now. Thanks to all of you who visited!
  • And speaking of commenting, Monica Edinger has an interesting post over at Educating Alice about how the commenting that she's seeing on her students' blogs reflects already existing social dynamics. That is, the number of comments that people receive is an indicator of already existing popularity levels. There is, naturally, some discussion in the comments of this post about how we handle this, and feel about this, as adults.
  • TadMack has some additional Cybils Young Adult fiction followup thoughts over at Finding Wonderland, with musings about several of the books that did, and did not, make the shortlist.
  • I learned from LibrariAnne that there's going to be a new book to follow Scott Westerfeld's Uglies trilogy. It will be called, appropriately enough, Extras, and it won't feature Tally Youngblood as the main character. Also via LibrariAnne, the family reading chair (you'll have to click through for pictures). She finds the coolest stuff!
  • Anne-Marie Nichols has a post asking people how they create their personal libraries, over at A Readable Feast. No responses/suggestions so far, so if you have any thoughts about how you build your library, head on over and share them. And really if you don't have thoughts on how to build your personal library, you should head over anyway, because Anne-Marie has some great suggestions.
  • The Kidlitosphere's own Liz Burns, from A Chair, A Fireplace, and a Tea Cozy is one of eight candidates for four slots on the 2009 Printz Award Committee. Send her your happy thoughts, and/or votes, as you feel are appropriate!
  • A Fuse #8 Production is happy to break the news about the awarding of the 2007 Sydney Taylor Book Awards, while Roger Sutton announces the Scott O'Dell award winner. Yellow Star, which I loved, was an honor winner for the Sydney Taylor award for older readers. And finally, Michele over at Scholar's Blog brings us some local (to her) news, and announces that Philip Pullman has been awarded The Freedom of Oxford.
  • Speaking of awards, Franki over at A Year of Reading has a great post about her selection criteria for her list of Newbery predictions. If you haven't seen Mary Lee and Franki's list of Newbery predictions, they are well worth checking out. A big part of why they started their blog was because they hoped that they would have read the eventual Newbery winner by the time the award comes out. Aren't you curious to see if they succeed?
  • For the record, even if Pippi Longstocking tells you to, you shouldn't eat mushrooms that you find in the wild. True-life story from author Jennifer J. Stewart via A Fuse #8 Production. There's a current non-fiction-related story from San Jose here.
  • Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast has an idea to start the new year. They are interviewing bloggers from around the kidlitosphere, starting with each other. Their questions and responses are a riot, and we all look forward to seeing who they'll feature next. You can also find a series of interviews of Cybils judges taking place over on the Cybils site, starting with Kelly's interview of Gregory K
  • I couldn't say exactly why I dropped out of Poetry Friday (too many balls in the air, I guess), but it continues to grow in popularity every week. Kelly has a round-up of this week's contributions over at Big A little a.
  • Sherry from Semicolon links to a wonderful post over at Coffee, Tea, Books, and Me, about the joys of re-reading books. Brenda says, in defense of her large personal library: "For one thing, my books are my old friends as well as new friends whose acquaintance I have yet to make. My old friends give me warmth and stability in a very chaotic world. The books I haven't read entice me with anticipation." The rest is great too, for those of us who love our books.

Has anyone else noticed that I start these posts saying that I have a few items of interest, and then I go on and on? Sorry about that. It's just that there's so much interesting stuff out there, it's hard to leave things out. Happy reading! And Happy Martin Luther King Day tomorrow! And finally, GO PATRIOTS!!


Quick Hits on a Tuesday Afternoon

Here are a few things that I've run across this week that I simply must share with you all right away:

  • I learned from LibraryAnne about a new board game that's sure to be a hit with book lovers. It's called LieBrary. And although, like Anne, I think that the name could be better, I do like the concept. It's like Balderdash, where you make up definitions for obscure words and people have to guess the right definition. In LieBrary, you are given the name and title of a book, and you make up a convincing first line. You get points if someone votes for your made-up line. The box, needless to say, looks like a book. This is now on my mental "I want" list.
  • I found this post by Kim (of Kim & Jason Lemonade Stand / Escape Adulthood) inspirational. Kim discusses the concept of retirement (in context of Brett Favre), and how unnecessary that can be when you're already doing something that you love. She proposes that people "make that long list of things you want to do when you retire and start doing them…today!" A worthy goal, I think.
  • If you were interested in that discussion of age ranges as they apply to middle school (not middle grade) kids, you may be interested in the Yahoo group (middle_school_lit) that Richie Partingon is putting together. Thanks to Mitali Perkins for the link.
  • OK, this doesn't have to do with books, but I thought it was funny (and true). Check out this list at FeatherBee of signs that you are living in 2007. My favorite is "You have a list of 15 phone numbers to reach your family of 3."
  • Also not related to books, for all you sports fans out there here's a post by Julius Lester about "why the emotional lives of so many people, including me, are tied to the fate of our favorite sports team." I liked that his example is the New England Patriots, but his conclusions certainly generalize.
  • There is a hilarious new contest in the works over at Lisa Yee's blog. She challenges you to change the first letter of one word of an existing book title to make it into something new and different. The results are highly entertaining so far, though I haven't had creative energy to think of something myself.
  • HipWriterMama, a new blog that I've recently discovered and quite enjoy, has what I think is a great post about identifying strong role models for girls in literature. Of course I'm a bit biased, because she references my Cool Girls list. But I think that many of you will enjoy her musings about why this is important (she has three young daughters), and why she chose the characters that she did. I know that MotherReader was pleased to see Junie B. Jones on the list. This post is the first of what HipWriterMama promises will be weekly lists (very ambitious!) so check back.
  • Colleen Mondor has a lot of great new review articles up. Liz B. has the summary at A Chair, A Fireplace, and A Tea Cozy.
  • There's a new Hot Man of Children's Literature over at A Fuse #8 Production. You'll have to click through to see who he is.   

And, on the Cybils front:

And now, I'm off to the library to volunteer, something I didn't have time for at all in December. Here's to life being a little less busy this year. Happy Tuesday! 


Saturday Afternoon Visits: January 6

Happy Armenian Christmas / Three Kings Day! As I catch back up on the kidlitosphere after the holidays, I've found a plethora of things to share with you. It's hard to even know where to begin - my tireless colleagues have so much going on. But here's a start:

  • Susan has updated her compilation of "best of 2006" lists over at Chicken Spaghetti. A valuable resource for anyone looking for reading suggestions.
  • Kelly over at Big A little a reminds people that she's hosting the 10th Carnival of Children's Literature. Get your nominations in by January 15th - your best post from December and early January.
  • There is an interesting discussion taking place about age ranges, and the appropriateness of 12 as the cut-off for calling a book "young adult." It starts with Justine Larbalestier, continues at Chicken Spaghetti, and continues again on Mitali's Fire Escape and A Fuse #8 Production. Little Willow weighs in with her comments on why she doesn't use the term middle grade at all, and proposes separate age designations for elementary school, middle school, and high school.
  • And speaking of A Fuse #8 Production, Betsy's Golden Fuse Awards are not to be missed. She offers up awards for 2006 publications in all sorts of categories, including "most misleading cover" and "best villain of the year".
  • Also not to be missed is Franki and Mary Lee's one-year anniversary post "What a Great Year to be a Blogger" over at A Year of Reading. They have a month-by-month listing of the highlights of the kidlitosphere, from the Hot Men of Children's Literature inauguration to the 48 Hour Book Challenge to my own Cool Girls and Cool Boys lists. It's such a nice stroll down memory lane, this post! On a related note, congratulations to Mary Lee and Franki for reaching their personal goal of having 100 Cool Teachers on their list! Nice timing, that it came right at their one-year anniversary.
  • Another recent trend in blog posts is blog resolutions, started, I believe, by Sherry at Semicolon, with an impressive list of 10. Liz B. at A Chair, A Fireplace and A Tea Cozy also weighs in with her seven blog goals, and MotherReader touches on the issue in her Happy New Year post. Meanwhile, a.fortis offers up her writing resolutions at Finding Wonderland., and the Longstockings tackle writing goals, too. Like MotherReader, I find the idea of resolving to comment more on other people's blogs most appealing. I also would like to increase the number of book reviews that I write, while simultaneously writing better reviews, though the inherent time conflict might make doing both impossible. Maybe I could give up doing laundry or something...
  • Also available at Semicolon, a compilation of bloggers' 2006 reading lists and 2007 reading goals. It's an impressive collection of links to more than 50 lists. There is a wide range in terms of number of books read, as well as in preferences, but I would think most people will be able to identify with at least a few of the lists.
  • Another trend in 2007 reading goals is the alphabet-based list, where you name a book that you would like to read starting with each letter of the alphabet. I learned about this at Booktopia, where Stacy shares her alphabet list
  • And, while we're on the subject of 2007 reading goals, Michele from Scholar's Blog is starting an online book discussion group. She was inspired in part by her enjoyable discussions with the Cybils fantasy and science fiction nominating committee, and she has already generated a groundswell of interest. The first book to be discussed will be Susan Cooper's King of Shadows. It's shaping up to be another great year!
  • It should be a great year for librarians, too. Librarian is one of the 25 "get-ahead careers of 2007", per U. S. News and World Report. Thanks to A Fuse #8 Production for the link. Fuse also reminded me about the Nancy Pearl librarian action figure, which I was slightly baffled (though highly entertained) to receive as a Christmas gift this year from my friend Mark. Thanks Mark!

And that's quite enough for now. My eyes are glazed over. But it's great to feel more caught up with all of you!


Sunday Afternoon Visits: December 17

The next couple of Sundays are Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve, and I don't expect to have any time to blog. So this will be my last Sunday visits post of the year. This weekend is pretty crazy, too, actually, but here are a few tidbits for you:

And while I truly wish that I had time for more, I have guests literally at the door, and this will have to be it for a while. Happy reading!


Sunday Afternoon Visits: December 10

Hello blog friends! I'm back from a week in Disney World. Though not so restful as vacations go, it was a lot of fun. Mheir scheduled lots of excellent dinners for us, and even some other surprises. As the check-in lady at The Wilderness Lodge said, on reading our schedule, he's definitely a keeper. A highlight of the trip was going on Splash Mountain three times in a row, first thing in the morning, with no waiting. We paid in wet clothes for the rest of the day, but it was worth it. We also went three times in a row on the new Expedition Everest ride in Animal Kingdom, after strong recommendations from our niece.

I haven't had a chance to catch back up with the other blogs yet (work also required a fair bit of catching up, funnily enough). But here are a couple of things that I noticed for one reason or another. I'll try to catch up more tomorrow, before leaving on my next business trip (sigh!).

  • Alan Silberberg has a new Book-Toon available on his blog. He's promoting books as holiday gifts. It's well worth checking out. Note also the subtle Cybils reference near the end.
  • And speaking of ideas for holiday gifts, Ian Ybarra sent me a link to his 10 Great Gifts for Baseball Nuts post. If you're looking for gift ideas for baseball fans, he has some great stuff listed (despite the high density of Yankee's examples, for which I will forgive Ian in the spirit of the holiday season).
  • Mitali Perkins has captured people's imaginations in her post (and follow-up) about blog crushes in the kidlitosphere. There are lots of great blogs highlighted, and it's a fun discussion.
  • Another question going on around the 'sphere concerns the inclusion of bibliographies in fiction books. Monica Edinger started the discussion at Educating Alice, and Liz B. added her own thoughtful comments at A Chair, A Fireplace and a Tea Cozy. Personally, I love having a bibliography in a historical novel, and some indication of what is and isn't based on the truth.
  • And, thanks to Liz B. for this link, Esme Raji Codell muses about the nature of children's and young adult literature, in response to a review of Octavian Nothing. Be sure to read the comments, too.

And oh, how I wish I had time for more right now, but I have to run. Happy Reading!