November 2007 Reading List
When Randolph Turned Rotten: Charise Mericle Harper

Friday Afternoon Visits: Book Plates, Book Reviews, and e-Book Readers

I'm going to be a bit busy this weekend, so I decided to bring you some Kidlitosphere news today. I expect to be back with a few more posts on Sunday, but this should give you a bit of reading material to start the weekend.

  • It's John Christopher week at Sam Riddleburger's blog. John Christopher himself even stopped by for a comment and an interview. I learned for one thing that Christopher's real name is Sam Youd. I was also inspired to add some of Youd/Christopher's other books to my "to read" list. His tripods trilogy (The White Mountains, The City of Gold and Lead, and The Pool of Fire), which I first read in elementary school, remains one of my favorite science fiction series of all time.
  • And speaking of my favorite science fiction series, Susan Beth Pfeffer shares her preliminary notes about the dead & the gone. This is fascinating stuff, but highly spoiler-filled, so consider yourself warned. She's also started a poll looking for reader suggestions for a nickname for the book, since the dead & the gone is a bit of a mouthful. Several people have expressed to me their eagerness to get their hands on this book. I recommend that you start visiting Susan's blog, because I think she's bound to have more ARCs to distribute at some point. And if not, well, it's still an interesting blog to visit. Just beware of spoilers...
  • The IEA PIRLS report, an international study of reading literacy, was released on this week. You can find responses at The Miss Rumphius Effect and at Jess's blog. Quoting Tricia, "You can read the Washington Post article where they share more U.S. statistics. You can also get your own copy of the report in pdf format." The Post reports that "U.S. fourth-graders have lost ground in reading ability compared with kids around the world, according to results of a global reading test."
  • Marc Aronson has announced a contest at Nonfiction Matters. He wants to pick "the best first sentences in nonfiction for younger readers. He asks readers to submit their top 3 sentences, and say why each was suggested.
  • Over at Original Content there's an interesting conversation going on about negative book reviews, book reviews as part of the broader literary conversation, and book reviews as a genre of writing. Much of the discussion is in the comments, so be sure to read those. I don't have anything to add at this point, but I'm reading closely.
  • Anne Boles Levy takes on "Value" added books at ForeWord Magazine's Shelf Space blog. She starts: "You know the kind. They’re from publishers gone astray, who’ve led kidlit authors down the garden path of gimmickry. These books are more tease than text, with doodads pouring out of their shrink wrapping like muffin tops over low-rise jeans", and then she really gets into what she thinks.
  • Reading Rockets suggests gift ideas for teachers. And speaking of gift ideas, Susan writes about My Home Library at Chicken Spaghetti. My Home Library is a site where you can download and print bookplates designed by well-known children's book illustrators. Susan repeats a suggestion from Anne Fine, that kids use the bookplates to jazz up thrift shop books, and give them as inexpensive yet thoughtful gifts.
  • Tamara Fisher, a K-12 gifted education specialist for a school district located on an Indian reservation in northwestern Montana, presents A Gifted Child's Bill of Rights at Unwrapping the Gifted (a Teacher Magazine blog).
  • Adrienne talks about How to Ditch Your Summer Reading Program and Find Something More Fulfilling at What Adrienne Thinks about That. She describes the low-key summer reading program that she ran at her library this summer, and her general, and potentially unpopular, thoughts on incentive programs.
  • Cybils-nominated author Laurie Halse Anderson shares How Not to Write to an Author, giving an example of a poorly written (think text messaging syntax) message in which a student asked her for help (despite a clearly stated policy of not doing people's homework for them). Laurie's post generated a flood of comments. Her response to the student is here.
  • I wrote recently about Amazon's Kindle reader. Alvina, a children's book editor, reviews the Sony Reader at Blue Rose Girls, and discusses the environmental implications of using electronic book readers for reviewing manuscripts (a lot less paper). She concludes "I don't know if the Reader will replace actual books for me, at least not for a while, but as for manuscript submissions? I'm ready to get rid of them immediately. The hard copies, I mean. ;)."
  • I found a plethora of interesting links at MotherReader's November Carnival of Children's Literature. I especially enjoyed Becky's post about giving the gift of books at Young Readers, and the Books Together blog's post about making simple books as a way to encourage kids to enjoy reading. I know a certain almost eight-year-old who makes amazing books, so the latter post especially caught my eye.
  • Kim Kotecki writes about choosing a second childhood at Escape Adulthood, in a post eloquently inspired by our own TadMack from Finding Wonderland. The general idea is that if you didn't have the childhood that you wanted, perhaps it's not too late to try again to build a carefree and fun life. Something I'm trying to work towards...
  • For those of you who just can't get enough NCTE coverage, the NCTE website has helpfully provided a list of blog posts about the conference. There appear to be several dozen (but I didn't take time to count).
  • Fuse #8 announces the Christmas edition of the New York KitLit Drink Night. Participants are asked to bring children's books in new condition for donation to the Children's Aid Society of New York. Betsy Bird and Cheryl Klein will take care of the details. Isn't that a great idea? I wish I could attend but a) I live in California and b) I already donated all of the "new condition" books that I could bear to part with to the San Jose Mercury News Gift of Reading program.

And that should tide you over for a few days, I would think. More soon. Happy Friday!