And What Comes After a Thousand: Anette Bley
Fix-It Duck: Jez Alborough

Sunday Afternoon Visits: March 11

Another week, another business trip. This week I was teaching classes in Dallas and San Antonio, with scarcely time to glance at the Internet. But I am home this lovely, sunny Northern California weekend. Yesterday I made a small dent in my "to be reviewed" pile, reading and reviewing five lovely picture books (two of the reviews are set up to post next week). And now, I've been able to spend a bit of time out and about in the Kidlitosphere. Here are some highlights:

  • Kelly writes about a study on gender bias in picture books at Big A little a. The study found that "(t)here were nearly twice as many male as female title and main characters" in the top-selling picture books from 2001. However, Kelly hasn't observed this discrepancy in her own reading. She speculates that "people choose the books with male protagonists to purchase. I also think there's a real nostalgia factor when people buy picture books. They like to find the titles they had as children, meaning the best sellers are books from the 1950s-1980s." There is considerable discussion in the comments.
  • And while we're on the subject of Big A little a and picture books, please join me in congratulating Kelly Herold on becoming a contributing Book Bud. Kelly will be writing weekly picture book reviews for Book Buds, working with her Cybils co-creator Anne Boles Levy. Now this is a collaboration that works!
  • While I'm offering congratulations, cheers to Lisa Yee for being named the 2007 Thurber House Children's Writer in Residence. She has great photos on her blog of Thurber House, and her celebratory drawing and flowers (but not the cupcakes, because those have been eaten). Go Lisa! And how cool is Lisa for commenting on Kelly's daughter's review of So Totally Emily Embers?
  • Eisha and Jules from 7-Imp also have a new project. Jules had the idea for a weekly cyber-gathering in which participants from the Kidlitosphere share "Beautiful and/or Kick-Ass Things Happened to You or That You Read or That You Noticed This Week" (the title is still a work in progress). Check out this week's contributions here. How come they have all the great ideas, that's what I want to know. This one is clearly destined to be a hit.
  • I was entertained by this tidbit from Leila at bookshelves of doom. Apparently kids from Clarke County who want to read the novel Imani All Mine have to bring permission slips from their parents before the book will be released to them. And then the librarians are supposed to call the parents, to make sure that the permission slips aren't forged. Personally, I find the notion of kids forging permission slips in order to be able to read a particular title tremendously heartening.
  • Sue Corbett (author of Free Baseball, which I loved) has an article at Publisher's Weekly called "To Blog or Not to Blog", about whether or not authors should spend their time blogging, and what some of the pitfalls are. Thanks to Cynthia Leitich Smith for the link.
  • Some of you may be interested in the Women, Business & Blogging Conference, to be held Friday 8 June 2007 at De Montfort University "to find out how blogging by women and for women builds networks, improves customer reach, monetizes creativity and infuses your business with Web 2.0 goodness!" Jess has the details. I think it sounds very cool, though I don't think a trip to Leicester in June is in the cards for me.
  • I loved this post by Loree Griffin Burns (author of Tracking Trash) about a recent school visit that she made, where she ended up reading to the class a story that she had written when she was twelve. This was Loree's advice to the kids: "Never, ever, ever throw away your stories... Even if you read them in six months, or two years, or ten years, and decide they are awful. Even if you decide the moment they are finished that they are awful. Tuck them away in a drawer and save them forever." This advice resonated with me because I recently received several boxes from my parents (who were moving), containing many of my old stories. I haven't had the nerve to read any of them yet, but I'm so glad that they still exist. Just as Loree said, they're a glimpse into the child that I once was.
  • First (as far as I know) there was my list of Cool Girls of Kid Lit (really a combined effort on the part of the many people who suggested names for the list). Then HipWriterMama started publishing a weekly list of Strong Girl Role Models in Children's Literature (most recent list here). And then came readergirlz, focusing on Gutsy Girls in Life and Literature. And now Mrs. K at Readathon has started a weekly series called Girls You Should Know, spotlighting one or two characters each week. This week she features Aerin and Harry from Robin McKinley's books. I look forward to future installments. And yes, just as soon as I finish with this insane bout of travel, I plan to publish some updates to the cool girls list. But in the meantime, there is a plethora of attention being paid to cool, gutsy, strong girls from literature. Hopefully someone, somewhere, is paying attention to the boys, too.

And that's all for tonight. Sorry if I missed you! I'm still struggling to keep up, with all of this travel, but things should get back to normal eventually. Happy reading to all in the meantime! I'm currently obsessed by Ann Benson's The Physician Tale, the recently published third volume in her plague tales series. It's cutting into my kid lit reading, though...