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Posts from November 2008

Third Shelf Space Post Available: A Culture of Reading (and a short break)

My third guest post is now available at ForeWord Magazine's Shelf Space blog. It's about creating a culture of reading. Here's an excerpt:

"Creating a culture of reading is about more than just setting an example for children (though that’s clearly something that I think is important). Creating a culture of reading is about deciding what kind of a world we want to be part of. Do we want to live in a society that values books and reading, or not? The alternative, living in a society in which libraries fall into disuse and reading is a marginalized activity, is unthinkable."

Click through to read the full article.

Speaking of reading, I'm taking a bit of a hiatus from computer work for a few days, in an attempt to clear up some neck/shoulder problems that I've been having (nothing else is working, but a completely computer-free day yesterday seemed to help a bit). So, after I finish this post, I'll be back on the couch with the heating pad. No reading blogs, no FaceBook, no reviews ... it's a little weird, but I will be able to get some reading done, and I'll be checking email on my cell phone. Thanks for your patience!

Growing Bookworms Newsletter: November 18

Jpg_book007Tonight I will be sending out the new issue of the Growing Bookworms weekly email newsletter. (If you would like to subscribe, you can find a sign-up form here.) The Growing Bookworms newsletter contains content from my blog focused on children's books and raising readers. There are currently 450 subscribers.

This week I have one book review (a young adult fiction title), an announcement about a book previously reviewed that's now available, a Kidlitosphere round-up with links to useful posts from the past week, a Children's Literacy Round-Up, and the schedule for the 2008 Winter Blog Blast Tour (a series of blogger-conducted author interviews). I also have an installment of my Reviews that Made Me Want the Book feature, an announcement about the November Carnival of Children's Literature, and a link to a second post that I had published at Shelf Space (about being a Cybils Literacy Evangelist). Posts from my blog not included in the newsletter this week include:

  • An announcement about a new Cybils widget now available from JacketFlap.
  • A video that shows a post of mine that was included as a Children's Lit Blog Post of the Day at Children's Writing Web Journal. (Video does not lend itself well to email newsletters.)  

I have read a bunch of great books that I haven't had a chance to review yet, including Ingrid Law's Savvy, Lesley M. M. Blume's Tennyson, Christine Fletcher's Tallulah Falls, and several lovely picture books. My creative energy for this week was taken up by writing my last couple of Shelf Space posts (coming out on the 21st and the 28th of November). But I hope to get back on track with reviews soon. I also re-read an old favorite, Then There Were Five by Elizabeth Enright. I don't plan to formally review it, but I will say that I think this one has the most heart of all four Melendy family titles (it's about the family's adoption of an orphaned boy). And I do love the Henry Holt/Square Fish reissues of all four titles.  

Thanks for reading the newsletter, and for growing bookworms!

Books Now Available: Theodosia and the Staff of Osiris

Theodosia and the Staff of OsirisLast month I reviewed Theodosia and the Staff of Osiris, the second book about Theodosia Throckmorton by Robin LaFevers. I concluded:

Theodosia and the Staff of Osiris gets my highest recommendation for middle grade and middle school readers. Try it on fans of the Percy Jackson books, kids who are fascinated by Egypt, and anyone who enjoys mysteries with a strong sense of place. But have them read Theodosia and the Serpents of Chaos first - some of the details in this one will make more sense (my review of the first book is here). I know for certain that I would have loved this book as a 10-year-old. I hope that Theodosia has many more adventures.

And, as TadMack pointed out today at Finding Wonderland, this book received "Not one, but two starred reviews, and the School Library Journal invoked the sacred name of Indiana Jones!" Theodosia and the Staff of Osiris is now available for purchase. It would make an excellent holiday gift for adventure fans (perhaps pair it with an Indiana Jones DVD, even)!

Children's Literacy Round-Up: November 17

Welcome to this week's children's literacy and reading news round-up, with links contributed by me and by Terry Doherty from The Reading Tub. There has been plenty of news around the net this week:

Brian Scott at Literacy and Reading News reports on an NIH study that "shows that it's possible to teach preschoolers the pre-reading skills they need for later school success, while at the same time fostering the socials skills necessary for making friends and avoiding conflicts with their peers.

Also via Brian Scott, we learn that "Recorded Books announced the upcoming release of its newest reading and writing program, Dr. Janet Allen's Plugged-in to Nonfiction for grades 4-5... Plugged-in to Nonfiction Grades 4-5 includes a collection of high-interest texts and audiobooks for students who struggle with fluency and pronunciation. The program is designed to help students develop the necessary skills to tackle nonfiction text found on standardized tests and in real world situations."

The Boston Globe reports, in an article by Gabrielle Dunn, that Boston Mayor Thomas Menino is "urging parents to teach preschool children the old-fashioned way: by talking, reading, and playing with them." The Mayor's goal "is to remind parents of the simple but often overlooked ways they can improve their child's education before formal schooling begins", including reading aloud. I found this article in Meg Ivey's Literacy Voices Round-Up at the NCFL Literacy Now blog. See also this article about early literacy projects in Pensacola, Florida.

Also on the NCFL Literacy Now Blog, Toyota Teacher of the Year finalist Misti Lauer has a guest post with words of advice about building a family literacy program. She says: "most important is a thorough look at the community needs and current resources available. Collaboration is an ongoing process as needs and resources change, but partnerships and collaborations are assets to any family literacy project."

The Midwest Book Examiner has an article by Terri Schlichenmeyer about "How to Choose a Children's Book (For Grandparents, the Childless, and the Clueless)". She suggests that the hardest age to buy for is the 9 to 13 set, and adds "My best advice is to ask Mom or Dad what the child likes to do and go from there. I think kids of this age are hard but fun to buy for, because the books are adult-friendly as well as perfect for kids. This means you can spend time reading them, too, without feeling silly." Of course if you're already reading children's book blogs, you probably have lots of ideas for books to buy kids. I found this article via the International Reading Association blog.

The Association of Jewish Libraries has started a new podcast covering author talks, lectures on Jewish literature, panel discussions, and workshops. Available here, the program provides audio that "enhances and enriches the listener's appreciation of Jewish book culture." We found the link at Becky's Book Reviews.

And the Jewish News of Greater Phoenix has an article about a retired educator who encourages literacy through art. "One of (retired educator Muriel) Feldshuh's ongoing projects is her literacy quilts, of which she has completed three, with a fourth on the way. Periodically she mails letters to the most esteemed children's book illustrators across the country requesting a drawing. She takes the illustrations and sews them together to create a quilt." The quilts are currently on display at the Children's Museum of Phoenix.

While we're on the subject of literacy and crafts, Ann Wallace writes about literacy baskets for the Clarksville Leaf-Chronicle. "The literacy basket project is one more avenue to encourage parents and children to make reading part of their daily routine. "We plan to give these baskets out to every family in our school with a new baby and be here to support them in establishing reading habits at home," (School Librarian Rachel) Wainwright said."

At Unwrapping the Gifted, Tamara Fisher has a detailed post rebutting several "reasons why the academic needs of our gifted students aren’t always met, among them lack of teacher training, lack of funding, lack of accurate data on student learning needs (or lack of acting upon the data we do have), lack of awareness about these students and the effects that little challenge can bring about for them, and so on." The idea that people would hold gifted kids back from reading more advanced books because this might make other kids feel bad, well, I find that horrifying, and certainly a path to kids who DON'T become readers as adults.

Johnwood At the Tiger's Bookshelf (the PaperTigers blog), Janet writes about the Room to Read program and "the joy of literacy". I must admit that I haven't read Room to Read founder John Wood's book, Leaving Microsoft to Change the World. But I have a copy, and I will get to it one of these days.

School Library Journal reports, in an article by Debra Lau Whelan, that the Reach Out and Read program (in which doctors give children books on their well-child visits) is expanding to military bases. Reach Out and Read "is piloting a program that will reach 90,000, or 25 percent, of the children of U.S. military families worldwide aged from birth to five years old, says Matt Ferraguto a Reach Out and Read spokesman." I love Reach Out and Read, and I think that this is a logical and timely expansion to the program.

Jill McGivering of BBC News suggests that literacy is seen as a key to fighting the Taleban in Afghanistan. Link via the International Reading Association blog. She quotes science teacher Abdul Raziq, who says "If the people were literate, they wouldn't have this insurgency now. That's why I'm trying to do what I can to educate the future generation, so they can serve their country, instead of destroying it."

The blog I Speak of Dreams reports on a Neurologica study about "Modifying the brain activation of poor readers during sentence comprehension with extended remedial instruction". ScienceDaily reports that "A new Carnegie Mellon University brain imaging study of dyslexic students and other poor readers shows that the brain can permanently rewire itself and overcome reading deficits, if students are given 100 hours of intensive remedial instruction." Promising stuff!

We learned from the Everybody Wins! blog about ", a new, free educational / entertainment website for kids ... which is creating the magic of "story time" to an audience around the world. The site stars actress Kathy Kinney, who played Mimi on "The Drew Carey Show," as Mrs. P, an adventurous, funny Irishwoman with a passion for books and reading.  From beside the crackling fire of her Magic Library, Mrs. P reads classic children's stories and gives kids a chance to read along with her through a special subtitle option."  

RebekahC at Ready Set Read Reviews writes about the Cheerios Spoonful of Stories program, in which General Mills puts children's books into Cheerios boxes. Rebekah says: "whether or not you're a big fan of the plain Cheerios themselves (I'm not. I prefer the Honeynut kind myself.), why not go out and pick up a couple of boxes now. If your kids are anything like mine they see the prizes/toys shown on a cereal box and are jumping crazy to get them. Why not indulge them this time, and get a prize that will keep on giving for years to come through strengthened language skills, literary skills, etc?!" She also has this year's list of books. Whatever makes reading fun, I say.

According to a recent news release, the Toys for Tots literacy program is kicking into gear for the holiday season. "Launched in March of this year, the Toys for Tots Literacy Program is a year-round initiative offering our nation's most economically disadvantaged children the ability to compete academically and to succeed in life by providing them direct access to books and educational resources that will enhance their ability to read and to communicate effectively." The UPS Store and Mailboxes Etc. will be selling donation cards for the rest of the year.

Pbskids According to another press release, a "Nonpartisan Research and Advocacy Group for the Well Being of Children Cites PBS as Model of Successful Educational and Non-Violent Programming".

Paul C at the TLTT Cyber Cafe (from Think Literacy Team Teachers) shares children's books for high school read-alouds. Paul says that "Several posts to First Class reveal the power of reading children's books to build literacy skills in cross curricular high school classrooms", and includes several examples. How cool is that? 

The LA Times has an article by Anna Gorman about how "a monthly class at Southern California WIC sites urges low-income parents to read to their children, take them to visit their local libraries and engage them in literacy-related activities." The class is "sponsored by Reading is Fundamental of Southern California (and) aimed to teach parents the importance of literacy and help them start building their own libraries at home." I'll bet this program really makes a difference.

The Times (UK) book section has an article by Joan Smith about the fight for literacy in Sierra Leone. She begins "Sierra Leone (is) one of the poorest countries in the world. It needs electricity, hospitals, sanitation, vaccination programmes - but above all it needs books. When my friend Claire Curtis-Thomas, the Labour MP for Crosby, visited Sierra Leone for the first time five years ago, she asked people what they most wanted. Curtis-Thomas is an engineer and the answer she expected was a health clinic or a water-treatment plant; they asked for a library." She calls upon Times readers to help.

Also in the Times, an article by Emily Bearn about UK Children's Laureate Michael Rosen's distaste for standardized tests. For example: "Rosen, who is 62, is the patron saint of the overtested child. For decades, he has trawled like the Pied Piper around schools and literary events, enticing children into the magical world of books. A vociferous critic of the current education system, he believes that “futile” testing has reduced literature to a series of tick-box exercises. The tragedy, Rosen believes, is that children are no longer encouraged to love books." I think that I'd like Michael Rosen, don't you?

And that is quite enough for this week! Hope you find some tidbits of interest.

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

November Carnival of Children's Literature

This just in: The November Carnival of Children's Literature is now available at Mommy's Favorite Children's Books. Karen says:

"The theme for this carnival is The Gift of Reading. As the holiday season soon approaches, people will start planning their holiday celebrations and the gifts they will give to loved ones.  I felt the Gift of Reading is the perfect subject for the November carnival -- a well-chosen book is a wonderful gift, especially to a young reader. Also, reading is a gift for a lifetime.  It's amazing how important literacy is to a person's entire life, and it's a message worth repeating again and again."

Don't miss it! Karen has some lovely links.

Next month's Carnival will be held here, on December 17th. That happens to be the three-year anniversary of Jen Robinson's Book Page. As a theme, I'm going to ask you to submit what you think is your very best post (ideally about children's literature or reading) from all of 2008. The deadline is December 15th. I'm not sure what's happened with the Carnival site, but you can make your submissions to me by email.  

Sunday Afternoon Visits: Summer's Day Edition

It's a beautiful day here in San Jose. So beautiful that I'm sitting out in my backyard this afternoon, with the computer on my lap, because I just can't bear to be inside. It's a bit hard to read the screen, though, so I'm not sure how long I'll last. But it's about 75 degrees, with blue skies, there are occasional prop planes flying by and late roses blooming, and if I lean forward a tiny bit, I can see cows out grazing. Yeah, it would be hard to leave California.

Anyway, there has been a lot going on in the Kidlitosphere this week:

The Comment Challenge is still going strong. MotherReader has the full list of participants here. If you're new to the Kidlitosphere, and looking for a list of active bloggers, this is a great place to start.

Via Rick Riordan's blog, I learned that registration opens for Camp Half-Blood in Austin tomorrow (Monday). You can find more details in the Austin-American Statesman, or at the BookPeople website.

Imbuyingbooks_button There have been lots of great posts at or around the Books for the Holidays blog. If you're looking for motivation or ideas related to giving people books as gifts this season, do head on over to check it out. I especially liked this post by Becky Laney, with mini-reviews of children's and YA titles, from bargains to books to get kids hooked on a series. See also Tricia's post at The Miss Rumphius Effect about gift books for kids who love animals, and Elaine Magliaro's post at Wild Rose Reader with links to various book lists.

Speaking of the gift of books, Tanita from Finding Wonderland shares a lovely Emily Dickinson poem about "precious words". She's also giving some thought to the idea that we can work together to create a culture of reading, and says "anyone can become a reader." I agree 100%. You can find a full Poetry Friday round-up at Yat-Yee Chong's blog.

I already posted the schedule for the Winter Blog Blast Tour (which launches tomorrow). As if that weren't enough organizing for anyone, Colleen Mondor just announced another cross-blog event, in which everyone is welcome to participate. It's called the 2008 Holiday Season Book Recommendation Event. Colleen explains: "If you want to join in then you send me the exact url of your first Holiday Book Recs post. I'll link to that on a master list and then from there, if you want to keep posting for however many days of the 12 (all or part or whatever), then you need to update your own first day post to reflect that."

CybilsLogoSmall Over at The Well-Read Child, Jill shares her Cybils nonfiction evaluation criteria. She includes age-appropriateness, layout, writing style/tone, appealing story, visual elements, and (with a nod to Tricia from The Miss Rumphius Effect) references. This is a post that I think would benefit anyone analyzing nonfiction titles for kids.

Speaking of judging books, Carlie Webber from Librarilly Blonde identified a cringe-worthy sentence in a review of John Green's Paper Towns by Monica Watson from the Ithacan. Watson says: "The young-adult genre has been riddled with uninspiring novels that lack any kind of creativity or originality. Shuffling through the mundane “Gossip Girl” spin-offs and “Twilight” rip-offs has made finding a substantive novel as easy as finding a needle in a haystack." How sad is that? See Carlie's rebuttal.

On a lighter note, Kim and Jason over at the Escape Adulthood website are running a tournament to decide the all-time greatest childhood food. They started with 16 options, from mac and cheese to chocolate chip cookies, and voters select the winners in a series of rounds. You can find more details here.

I saw this link first at Guys Lit Wire. Publisher's Weekly shares an opinion piece by 13-year-old Max Leone about what kinds of books teenage boys would like to see published. Here's a brief taste, but you really should click through and read the article, especially if you are an author or a publisher: "The selection of teen literature is even more barren now that the two great dynasties, Harry Potter and Artemis Fowl, have released their final installments. Those two massive successes blended great characters, humor and action in a way that few other books manage. When they went for laughs, they were genuinely funny, and their dramatic scenes were still heart-poundingly tense, even after I'd read them dozens of times." Other parts of the article are hilarious. And probably true.

Shannon Hale shares the latest installment of her books and readers series, discussing "good book vs. bad book". She says "It would be so convenient if we could classify books as either good or bad, as vegetables or candy, as Literature or Dross. Sometimes I really want to... I think it’s good to question the merit of what we’re putting into our minds. But I also think it’s wise to challenge how we determine the value and quality of a book." As usual, she says smart things, and generates tons of interesting comments. I especially liked this part: "But something happens, some profound chemical reaction, when a reader is introduced. The reader takes the text and changes it just by reading it. The reader tells herself a story from the words on the page. It is a unique story only for her."

Over at A Year of Reading, Franki Sibberson shares the second installment of her "books I could read a million times" feature. Think about the power of a person who does read the same book aloud multiple times a day, to different classes, identifying books that she still enjoys, reading after reading. Those are books that parents should buy.

And while we're on the subject of reading in the classroom, Bestbooksihavenotread shares an idea, originally suggested by Beth Newingham, about bringing a mystery reader into the classroom. She explains: "Parents sign-up for a slot (about 20 minutes) to come in and share a favorite book with the class. The week leading up to their visit, the teacher reads one clue that points to the reader’s identity." The idea is to use the mystery to get kids extra-excited about the read-aloud.

And that's all for this week in general Kidlitosphere news. I'll be back today or tomorrow with the children's literacy and reading news round-up. But now, the cows have gone in for the day, and I believe that I will, too.

The 2008 Winter Blog Blast Tour

Twice a year, Colleen Mondor organizes a fabulous team of bloggers in a week-long extravaganza of interviews. Most of the bloggers conduct multiple interviews, and sometimes the authors who participate are interviewed multiple times. The bloggers work together to ensure, however, that the interviews are not redundant. The blog blast tours have been a huge hit. This year's Winter Blog Blast Tour begins tomorrow. Here is the full schedule (I am filling in direct links as they appear):


Lewis Buzbee at Chasing Ray
Louis Sachar at Fuse Number 8
Laurel Snyder at Miss Erin
Courtney Summers at Bildungsroman
Elizabeth Wein at Finding Wonderland
Susan Kulkin at The YA YA YAs


Ellen Dalow at Chasing Ray
Tony DiTerlizzi at Miss Erin
Melissa Walker at Hip Writer Mama
Luisa Plaja at Bildungsroman

DM Cornish at Finding Wonderland
LJ Smith at The YA YA YAs
Kathleen Duey at Bookshelves of Doom


Ellen Klages at Fuse Number 8
Emily Jenkins at Wrting and Ruminating
Ally Carter at Miss Erin
Mark Peter Hughes at Hip Writer Mama
Sarah Darer Littman at Bildungsroman
MT Anderson at Finding Wonderland
Mitali Perkins at Mother Reader


Martin Millar at Chasing Ray
John Green at Writing and Ruminating
Beth Kephart at Hip Writer Mama
Emily Ecton at Bildungsroman
John David Anderson at Finding Wonderland
Brandon Mull at The YA YA YAs
Lisa Papademetriou at Mother Reader


Mayra Lazara Dole at Chasing Ray
Francis Rourke Dowell at Fuse Number 8
J Patrick Lewis at Writing and Ruminating
Wendy Mass at Hip Writer Mama
Lisa Ann Sandell at Bildungsroman
Caroline Hickey/Sara Lewis Holmes at Mother Reader
A.S. King at Bookshelves of Doom

Colleen will be maintaining an updated version of the list here, with direct links to all of the interviews as they appear.

Reviews that Made Me Want the Book: November 15

Welcome to the latest edition of my reviews that made me want to read the book feature. I've stored up quite a few promising titles over the last few weeks:

From Alice to ZenBill from Literate Lives recently reviewed From Alice to Zen and Everyone in Between, by Elizabeth Atkinson. He had me at: "Alice Bunt is a tom boy who moves from the city life of Boston, to the suburbs and a big fancy mansion of a house built on a cul de sac that use to have trees and other natural things, called Hemlock Trail. She has a cat named Yaz after her favorite Red Sox player, and a dog named Einstein, supposedly the smartest pug puppy ever." 

ItchAnd Bill had a good couple of weeks, because he also caught my attention with his review of Itch: A Novel, saying "this is a fabulous book! Even though it deals with such a serious topic, author Michelle D. Kwasney manages to mix in some humor through the grandparent characters." He also called it a favorite of the year, and inspired me to want to check it out.

Drummer BoyIt's actually pretty rare for a picture book review to catch my attention enough to make me covet it. But when Franki from A Year of Reading says: "WHAT A BOOK! If you are looking for a great, new Christmas story that will last generations, this one is just that. A great gift book for any child (or adult) you know", well, that catches my eye. So I'm looking forward to Drummer Boy by Loren Long.

HeadlongIt takes a real knack for someone to make me want to read a book even before they tell me anything about it. But Sarah Miller pulled it off in her review of Kathy Koja's Headlong. She said: "You know, sometimes I don't want to actually review a book. Sometimes I just want to snap the bugger shut and say, very satisfied, "Golly, that was good!"" I feel like that sometimes, and I trust Sarah's judgement, so I didn't even read the rest of the review (but you can find it here).

The Book WomanAnother very brief recommendation from Sarah also caught my eye: That Book Woman, by Heather Henson (another picture book review!). "If you are a book lover (and we both know you are) just open up your emotional fuse box and let this darling have its way with you. It is spare and sweet and perfect, and that is all you need to know."

Jo-Jo and the Fiendish LotThe Book Muncher just reviewed an intriguing upcoming title called Jo-Jo and the Fiendish Lot, by Andrew Auseon. Here are the bits that drew me in: "I am pleased to say that my high expectations for this novel were exceeded. I immensely enjoyed Auseon’s unique version of death and the afterlife because it was so creative and entirely unlike any other book I’ve read on the same topic... Readers who liked Elsewhere by Gabrielle Zevin will also enjoy this fabulous novel; I actually liked Jo-Jo’s story better than Elsewhere which is saying something because I loved Elsewhere."

The Gypsy CrownLaini Taylor is deeply immersed in Cybils fantasy and science fiction reading. She recently highlighted  a book that she was disappointed never to have heard of before, commenting on the arbitrariness of buzz. The book is The Gypsy Crown by Kate Forsyth. Laini called it: "My favorite kind of story: fast-paced, makes the page disappear as you fall right into the flow of events, and all the while, painlessly (not just." I also borrowed this cover image (which she took) from Laini's review.

The Sisters 8Over at Welcome to my Tweendom, Stacy Dillon reviewed first two The Sisters 8 books, by Lauren Baratz-Logsted: Annie's Adventures and Durinda's Dangers. They're about a set of octuplet sisters who have special powers, and solve mysteries. Stacy says: "Part Snickett, part Dahl with a little dash of Gorey, author Lauren Baratz-Logsted along with Greg Logsted and Jackie Logsted have created a series that is perfect for the younger tween set."

The Hardboiled DetectiveOver at Charlotte's Library, Charlotte discussed a new series that she says fills the gap between easy readers and Harry Potter books, "Humpty Dumpty, Hardboiled Detective, by the team of Nate Evans, Paul Hindman, and Vince Evens (Sourcebooks Jaberwocky, 2008). Think Guy Noir (from Garrison Keillor's radio show) as a hardboiled egg detective, in a warped fairy tale New Yolk city, with copious black and white drawings featuring lots of action." The first two books are The Case of the Fiendish Flapjack Flop and The Mystery of Merlin and the Gruesome Ghost.

Library MouseBooksForKidsBlog reviewed Daniel Kirk's Library Mouse. And honestly, a picture book called Library Mouse? What is not to love? GTC says "Lucky Sam is a library mouse, with a home in a hole in the wall behind the Children's Reference section of the library. Naturally, Sam is quite well read". Sam becomes and author, and encourages kids to become authors, too. I think I'd pair it with Bats in the Library (which I will review as soon as I get the chance).

The Uncommon ReaderI've seen The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett around, but I was never interested to read it until I saw Dewey's review at The Hidden Side of a Leaf. She says: "As you may know, I give away all the books I read unless they belong to someone else... But I have to keep The Uncommon Reader. I know I’ll want to read it again, and fairly soon. Keeping a book is really the highest praise I give; I have moved books from one house to another too many times to want more than my TBR books and my husband’s and son’s books in the house. I think every one of you would love this story, and I recommend it to you all."

And that is quite enough wish list books for today. Many thanks to all of the reviewers who help to keep me in excellent books.

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

Cybils Widget Now Available

CybilsLogoSmall Tracy Grand at JacketFlap has kindly provided a Cybils 2008 widget, which rotates through nominated books in the genres that you select. You can see an example of it in my left-hand sidebar, just  below the "What I'm Listening To" section. Note how I've been able to select the colors, so that it matches my blog. Isn't that slick? If you want one, here's the link to create your own. Pick genres and colors and the widget does the rest. It's set with default Amazon and BookSense / Indie Bound affiliate codes, but you can edit to replace those with your own if you like. Commissions received under the Cybils code go towards buying prizes for the winners.  

Second Shelf Space Post Available: Cybils Literacy Evangelist

My second guest post is up at ForeWord Magazine's Shelf Space blog. The title is "Just What Exactly is a Cybils Literacy Evangelist?". Here's a brief extract:

"I believe that the Cybils have the potential to make a tremendous contribution to children’s literacy. Every year, thousands of new children’s books are published. While this variety is wonderful, the sheer magnitude of titles makes it difficult for parents and teachers, and even for librarians, to help kids choose books. And if we’re going to engage kids as readers, we have to offer them GREAT books. The books exist—but people don’t always have an easy way to find them. The Cybils, with their focus on literary quality and kid-appeal, give people a place to start." 

Please do click through to read the full article. Thanks! And a Happy Friday to all.

Just One Wish: Janette Rallison

Book: Just One Wish
Author: Janette Rallison
Pages: 272
Age Range: 12 and up 


Just One Wish by Janette Rallison is a light, romantic comedy for young adult readers. I have to admit, however, that although most of the book is about romance and madcap escapades, Just One Wish also brought a few tears to my eye at the end.

Seventeen-year-old Annika is determined to help her cancer-stricken younger brother Jeremy. So determined that she convinces Jeremy that she has a magic lamp, and that he can wish for a positive outcome of his upcoming surgery. Annika believes strongly in the power of positive thinking. But in order for Jeremy to believe in the lamp, he has to see another wish come true. Jeremy's wish, his greatest desire, is to have a visit by Robin Hood, his favorite television character. This wish sends Annika, along with her trusty best friend Madison, on a road trip to LA. Annika's mission is to convince the handsome television star who plays Robin Hood to visit Jeremy in Nevada before his surgery. She has no expectations of capturing the star's heart, of course. But well, unexpected things sometimes happen.

Like most romantic comedies, Just One Wish is a book that requires some suspension of belief. Would two high school girls really be able to sneak onto a closed production set in Burbank, and meet up with the star? Would archery really make a difference in real life? Would a young adult heartthrob really give the time of day to a random high school girl from Nevada, let alone fall for her? Probably not. But this novel is about wish fulfillment. It's a book for anyone who has ever fantasized about being the one that the celebrity notices, the one that he can be himself with.

Just One Wishis a light, quick read that fans of teen romance novels and movies should enjoy. What I think makes it worth reading, however, is not the relationship between Annika and the TV star, Steve Raleigh, at all. In truth, their relationship didn't resonate with me (though I can imagine it might in a movie version). No, where Just One Wish touched my heart was in the relationship between Annika and her ailing, beloved brother. Read Just One Wish for that.

Publisher: Putnam Juvenile
Publication Date: March 5, 2009
Source of Book: Advance review copy from the publisher
Other Blog Reviews: Becky's Book Reviews
Author Interviews: WebbsBlog, Bildungsroman

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

Children's Lit Blog Posts of the Day

Jon Bard over at Children's Writing Web Journal (the blog) has started a new video feature. Each day, he makes videos based on what he feels are the Children's Lit Blog Posts of the Day. I was going to write about this in my next round-up, after seeing yesterday's fun inaugural entry (featuring 7-Imp, Mitali Perkins, Women on Writing, and MotherReader). But then Jon picked my post about favorite fictional rooms (which was inspired by a post at Charlotte's Library) for today's installment (along with Through the Tollbooth and Write to Done). So I thought that I would share the video here.  

This is a terrific idea, and one that I think will expose people to new blogs. There's a nice mix so far of writer blogs vs. reviewer blogs (and yes, of course there are bloggers who do both). I look forward to future videos.