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Betsy Ross's Star: Stacia Deutsch and Rhody Cohon

Wednesday Afternoon Visits: December 19

I'm going to be with my family on Sunday afternoon this week, but I find myself with a bit of free time today, so I thought that I would share a few items with you. For some reason, many of today's posts are by and/or about authors.

  • Everlost I don't usually link to book reviews in my round-up posts, but Gail Gauthier just reviewed a book that I read on a plane the other night: Everlost by Neal Shusterman. I'm taking a tiny bit of a break from writing reviews this week (though I have some older ones stored up ready to post over the next few days), so I've decided to cheat by referring you to Gail's review. Gail picked up the book for the same reason that I did. Having seen Shusterman speak recently, we were each drawn by his engaging speaking manner to try the book. Gail and I don't always agree on books (she doesn't see what the big deal is about Clementine, whom I adore). But in regards to Everlost, we agree that (quoting Gail's review): "Everlost is a very good adventure... This world is very well done. Every character in it is just marvelous. We have powerful protagonists of both genders so this is a good read for both boys and girls."
  • As reported at Kids Lit and at Rick Riordan's blog, and originally reported in the New York Times, Scholastic has announced a high-profile new book series. The Times said: "Called “The 39 Clues,” this series will feature 10 books — the first of which is to go on sale next September — as well as related Web-based games, collectors’ cards and cash prizes.... The series ... will be aimed at readers 8 to 12 and offer mystery novels telling the story of a centuries-old family, the Cahills, who are supposed to be the world’s most powerful clan." The first title will be written by Rick Riordan, who has also outlined the story arc for the remaining books. The other books will be written by different authors, including Gordon Korman, Peter Lerangis, and and Jude Walton. Rick Riordan assures us that work on this project will not affect his continuing to work on his other projects (the Percy Jackson and Tres Navarre books).
  • Becky will be hosting the 7th edition of the Bookworms Carnival at her blog, Reading with Becky, in January. The theme is Best Books of 2007. She says: "You could create your own "best of" list of books you've read and loved in the past year. You might want to make this a list with notes or commentary. But that isn't a requirement necessarily. Or you could submit a book review of the book you think is THE BEST of the year. Your list can be general or specific. Your focus can be looking at all books or just books about pirates in space fighting spiders. :)". The deadline for submission is January 11th. See here for submission details. Becky also weighs in, with characteristic thoughtfulness and detail, on the UK plan to add reading age guidelines to the covers of all children's books.
  • Even if I didn't already adore Life As We Knew It and the dead & the gone, I would have become a Susan Beth Pfeffer fan recently, simply because her blog is so funny (a dry, poking fun at self sort of funny that appeals to me). Right now she has a poll up in her sidebar about when "Sue's New Year's Resolution To Be Modest Will End". Options include: "Jan. 3 (Sue rarely blogs on Wednesdays)". This week she has a post with handmade drawings showing how special effects could be used to handle the weight loss that occurs during LAWKI, so that it could be filmed. The last scene is hilarious (in a black humor sort of way). Click through if you dare, though it is a slight spoiler for the first book.
  • At her blog, Notes from the Purple Desk, author Jenny Meyerhoff discusses the advantages of reading children's and YA fiction for adults, musing "Sure there are books that purely kid-centric that wouldn't hold an adult's attention span. But there are so many books that are ageless in their appeal, because of the quality of the writing, the likability of the characters and the level of thought and discourse the book will provoke. Movies and TV programs are cross-marketed, are promoted as appealing to entire families. I wonder why this doesn't work with books." Excellent points, indeed!
  • Miss Spitfire Miss Spitfire author and bookseller Sarah Miller weighs in on last weekend's discussion about "doesn't anybody read at grade level anymore?". She rails in particular against the very use of the word "advanced" to refer to young readers, saying: "It's like the kids are so smart that using anything less than a polysyllabic word to describe their abilities would be insulting somehow." Comments continue to trickle in at Tea Cozy on this topic, too. If you're interested, it's well worth checking back.
  • Chronicle Books, a strong and early Kidlitosphere supporter, has asked people to help spread the word about two new contests. The first asks participants to create their own artwork, using selected pages from Squiggles (reviewed here). Prizes include art materials and a limited edition print autographed by Squiggles creator Taro Gomi. The contest is open to children under 13, and entries must be postmarked by May 15th, 2008. More details are here. The second contest is the Ivy and Bean friendship contest, open to elementary school teachers. The prize is a school visit by author Annie Barrows.
  • Em's Bookshelf is also having a contest, offering one winner a pastel rainbow of seven titles, plus a tote bag from Harper Teen. Entry requirements are not too rigorous - she asks people to "Just leave me a comment and tell me 1) your favorite teen book that you read this year and 2) a teen book that you want to read but don't own."
  • Elaine Magliaro has some nice mini-reviews of Christmas Books in Verse at Wild Rose Reader, complete with cover illustrations and excerpts of poems. A lovely source for inspiration. Meanwhile, over at Chicken Spaghetti, Susan, with some help from various contributors, has compiled a list of Christmas suggestions for slightly older picture book readers. You can also find many holiday titles reviewed at 7-Imp (start here with part 5, and work your way back). See also some Christmas books recommended at Wildwood Cottage (also here for part 1). There have been other lists, too, but I didn't bookmark them specifically because I figured they would be in today's Carnival of Children's Literature at Big A little a.
  • In recent news: Peter Jackson will be directing a New Line Cinema big-screen production of The Hobbit. The best reactions that I've heard about are in this post at Book Moot. Here's the Guardian link from Finding Wonderland, where TadMack's response is less joyous . 
  • Happy One Year Blogiversary to HipWriterMama! In typically unselfish fashion, Vivian is using her anniversary post to ask for suggestions for gifts for teachers, and discussing her attempts to shelter her kids from materialism at Christmastime.

OK, I guess I ended up with quite a bit of spare time. Anyway, happy reading to all. Mheir and I are going to see the Nutcracker tonight, something of an annual tradition that we have (he especially loves it). We splurged on front row balcony seats, and are looking forward to it. Hope that your week is peaceful, wherever you are.