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Posts from July 2014

At Nerdy Book Club: The 8th Annual KidLitCon

Member of the Nerdy Book ClubI'm proud to say that I have a post up today at one of my very favorite blogs, The Nerdy Book Club. I talk about the 8th annual KidLitCon, and how for me this conference on children's book blogging is really all about spending time with kindred spirits. For anyone curious, I also provide a bit of background about how KidLitCon came to be. Here's a snippet from the post:

"Attendees share a love of children’s books, as well as a determination to get the right books into young readers’ hands. I have attended six of the seven so far, and I have enjoyed them all. I find it rejuvenating to spend time, face-to-face, with kindred spirits. I try very hard not to miss this annual chance to see people who started out as online friends, but who have become, like the Velveteen Rabbit, real."

If you are not already following the Nerdy Book Club (which you should be!), I do hope that you'll take a minute to pop over and read the full post. I've read and shared countless Nerdy posts over the past couple of years, and it was an honor for me to have a chance to post there myself, particularly about something as near and dear to my heart as KidLitCon.

KidLitCon 2014. Sacramento, CA. October 10-11. I hope to see you all there! The call for session proposals is here, and the registration form will be available very soon. 

© 2014 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook

Links I Shared on Twitter this Week: July 11

TwitterLinksHere are highlights from the links that I shared on Twitter this week @JensBookPage. Topics this week include authors, awards, book lists, diversity, growing bookworms, kidlitcon, blogging, ebooks, teaching, and summer reading.

Authors and Books

The Rise Of Young Adult Authors On The Celebrity 100 List by @natrobe @forbes via @PWKidsBookshelf

Nice tidbits about author James Marshall, “Wicked Angel”, on the Wild Things blog @SevenImp @FuseEight

Thank You, @NerdyBookClub says @StudioJJK on dedication of new anthology w/ @jenni @mattholm + others

Read J.K. Rowling's new short story about grown-up Harry Potter + friends @today via @bkshelvesofdoom

Ludwig Bemelmans’s Madeline Celebrates a Milestone (happy 75th!) @NYTimes  via @PWKidsBookshelf

Author Interview: Five questions for @varianjohnson from @HornBook 

Book Lists and Awards

2014 South Asia Book Award for Children's and Young Adult Literature via @MitaliPerkins

Loved Ed DeCaria's answer to What are the best poems for kids? on Quora. He recommends the #Cybils lists @edecaria

Get On Board: SLJ Selects A Bevy of Board Books | @sljournal #kidlit

Top Ten Schneider Award Favorites of the 2014 Schneider Award Jury by Peg Glisson @NerdyBookClub #kidlit

A Top Ten List: Book that Heal by @MsLReads @NerdyBookClub #kidlit #yalit

Read Me a Bedtime Story, recommended bedtime books from @growingbbb #kidlit

A Tuesday Ten: Diverse Stories in Speculative Fiction | Views From the Tesseract #Diversity

UK Booktrust Best Book Awards announced, @tashrow has the list

3 family-tested read-aloud chapter books @SunlitPages | Mrs. Piggle Wiggle's Magic, Runaway Ralph, Ramona the Pest

Great selections! 18 Picture Books Guaranteed To Make You Laugh Out Loud Or At Least Smile @Loveofxena @NerdyBookClub 


How to Build a Bestseller with Non-White Characters | @chavelaque @sljournal on @varianjohnson + #diveristy

Sure #WeNeedDiverseBooks but don’t forget #WeNeedMoreWalterDeanMyerses too, suggests @fuseeight

"diversity in fiction is about presenting the world through different viewpoints" Tanita Davis quotes @diversityinya

Diversity Movement Gains Visibility at ALA Annual, wirtes Wendy Stephens | @sljournal #WeNeedDiverseBooks

Growing Bookworms

What do I get if I read this? A call against the use of external prizes in reading programs for kids from @HornBook

Shanahan on #Literacy: Teaching My Daughters to Read: Part 2, Print Awareness (point at the words at least sometimes)

How to Read Stories to a Very Active Child, tips from @Booksforchildrn

Born Reading: An Interview with Jason Boog — @fuseeight  #GrowingBookworms #literacy

I liked this post on The #Literacy Benefits of Family Dinners @growingbbb | Some excellent points 


KidlitCon2014_cube#KidLitCon14 in Sacramento, California, why @semicolonblog wants to hitch a ride i your suitcase to go

#KidLitCon14 Update: Call for Session Proposals is Up! reports @aquafortis (co-organizer)

#KidlitCon14 | Call for Session Proposals @book_nut | Blogging #diversity in YA and children's lit

Wild Things!: Website and Book Launch from @SevenImp + @FuseEight | #kidlit fans will want to check this out!

On Reading, Writing, Blogging, and Publishing

Why digital vs. print reading should not be an either/or conversation, by @frankisibberson #eBooks

Insights from @catagator at Stacked: The Three C's of the Changing Book Blogging World, credits, comments, + crit

Stacked: Reader Advocacy, Speaking Up + Ducking Out: On @catagator Quitting 2015 Printz committee. Go Kelly, I say!

Schools and Libraries

Why Should Educators Blog? | @ReadByExample shares several reasons:

Should We Be Quantifying Our Students’ Reading Abilities? asks @ReadByExample @NerdyBookClub

Too Soon for Technology?: The latest on digital use by preschoolers | @sljournal #libraries

Summer Reading

Better than the title suggests: How to Trick Your Kids Into Reading All Summer Long @TheAtlantic via @librareanne

Some experiences w/ #SummerReading programs from @SunlitPages + request for feedback from blog readers

Raising Summer Readers Tip #12: Schedule a few social gatherings that celebrate books and #SummerReading | @aliposner

This one very important! #SummerReading Tip #13: Read aloud to your kids, even if they are great readers! @aliposner

Raising Summer Readers Tip #14: Remember to make reading aloud interactive! | @aliposner #SummerReading

This sounds like fun! Tip #15 from @aliposner | Pair books with movies to add some fun into #SummerReading |

#SummerReading Tip #16 @aliposner : TALK about your plans for reading while on vacation BEFORE your travel begins

#SummerReading Tip #17 from @aliposner | Raise kids who view packing books as a traveling necessity

#SummerReading Tip#18 @aliposner | For reluctant vacation readers, wrap a book to read aloud for each day of vacation 

#SummerReading Tip #19 @aliposner | When en route to your vacation destination, take advantage of captive audience! 

© 2014 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook.

The Girl Who Wouldn't Brush Her Hair: Kate Bernheimer & Jake Parker

Book: The Girl Who Wouldn't Brush Her Hair
Author: Kate Bernheimer
Illustrator: Jake Parker
Pages: 40
Age Range: 4-8

The Girl Who Wouldn't Brush Her Hair, written by Kate Bernheimer and illustrated by Jake Parker, is my favorite type of picture book. That is, it is largely nonsense, but is based on an issue that will resonate with young kids. There's a girl who has beautiful long brown hair, and who decides that she doesn't need to brush her hair. "It's just my way", she tells her (largely invisible) parents. Because her hair is such a mess, a mouse decides that it's the perfect habitat, and moves in. Before she knows it, the girl has something like 100 mice living in her head. but there are consequences. 

Kate Bernheimer ratchets up the nonsense from page to page. Like this, after the mice ask the girl not to bathe anymore:

"Much to the mice's relief, the girl agreed. For though she was becoming quite dirty, she had grown fond of their company. They had set up such a marvelous home for themselves -- a palace, really, atop her head. It had secret passageways and a cheese cellar and a tiny circular moat."

Seriously? Mice with a moat on her head? It's hilarious. 

Jake Parker's illustrations (rendered in pencil and digitally colored) suit the story perfectly. The girl's hair is a gorgeous, tangled mess. She has bright brown eyes in her heart-shaped face. She  looks like a doll, really. The mice are perky and cute. The girl's doll, Baby, manages to look forlorn as the girl's attention is taken up by the mice. There's a slight soft-focus to the pictures that works well with the story. 

I can't wait to share The Girl Who Wouldn't Brush Her Hair with my own daughter, who has, shall we say, issues with hair-brushing. In our house, we've been telling her that birds will come to live in her hair if we don't get out the tangles. But mice work, too, and, as it turns out, are more fun. The Girl Who Wouldn't Brush Her Hair is hilarious, and well worth picking up. Especially recommended for preschool girls who have long hair. 

Publisher: Schwartz & Wade (@RandomHouseKids
Publication Date: September 10, 2013
Source of Book: Review copy from the publisher

FTC Required Disclosure:

This site is an Amazon affiliate, and purchases made through Amazon links (including linked book covers) may result in my receiving a small commission (at no additional cost to you).

© 2014 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook

Good Night, Sleep Tight: Mem Fox & Judy Horacek

Book: Good Night, Sleep Tight
Author: Mem Fox
Illustrator: Judy Horacek
Pages: 32
Age Range: 3-5

Good Night, Sleep Tight is a fun little bedtime book, chock full of nursery rhymes both well-known and obscure.  Two siblings, Bonnie and Ben, are being looked after by "their favorite babysitter", Skinny Doug. When bedtime comes, Doug relates a series of rhymes to them, like this:

"Good night, sleep tight.
Hope the fleas don't bite!
If they do,
squeeze 'em tight
and they won't bite
another night!"

The kids keep asking for a repetition, and it always goes like this:

"Some other time," said Skinny Doug.
"But I'll tell you another
I heard from my mother:"

And he goes off into another rhyme. The rhymes wind the kids up for a bit, but eventually Skinny Doug slows things down, and Bonnie and Ben go to sleep. 

Horacek's illustrations are fun-filled, and with more detail than the original rhymes suggest. For example, the "It's raining! It's pouring!" story ends with a raincoat-clad man Fred and kids knocking fruitlessly at the door of the old man's little house. In pat-a-cake, Fred and the kids, clad in old-style clothing, purchase the cake from the baker's counter. And so on.

It's nice to see a positive male caregiver dynamic, and a book about two kids experiencing the joy of words. Because the text consists mainly of nursery rhymes, Good Night, Sleep Tight is, of course, perfect for reading aloud. This one belongs on the bedtime reading shelf for preschoolers everywhere. Recommended!

Publisher: Orchard Books (@Scholastic
Publication Date: July 30, 2013
Source of Book: Review copy from the publisher

FTC Required Disclosure:

This site is an Amazon affiliate, and purchases made through Amazon links (including linked book covers) may result in my receiving a small commission (at no additional cost to you).

© 2014 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook

My Pet Book: Bob Staake

Book: My Pet Book
Author: Bob Staake
Pages: 40
Age Range: 3-7

I love Bob Staake's picture books. I especially love Mary Had a Little Lamp, written by Jack Lechner and illustrated by Staake, about a little girl who has a lamp for a sort of pet. I also love a two other books about the crazy things that kids will select as companions: Sophie's Squash by Pat Zietlow Miller and Anne Wilsdorf and Prudence Wants a Pet by Cathleen Daly and Stephen Michael King. So you may imagine my delight when Staake's newest picture book, My Pet Book, landed on my doorstep. Yes, My Pet Book, as is clear from the cover image, is about a boy who has a book for a pet. My Pet Book is fun-filled AND has the bonus of making a statement about how wonderful books are. 

The boy, from Smartytown, doesn't care for dogs, and is allergic to cats. As he's casting about for a pet that will be easy, his mother suggests that "A book would make the perfect pet!". His father jumps on the bandwagon by suggesting that "no pet book had ever run away." Various benefits of book as pet are outlined in the book, including the fact that they don't poop. (This amused me because just the day before two young friends were lamenting the fact that dogs poop, and that kids in their home would be expected to help clean that up.) And so the boy selects "a frisky red hardcover." 

"Of all the books with the store,
He liked this one a lot!
The pages crisp, the printing fine,
It's spine so very taut.
He didn't need to give his pet
A name, like Rex or Spot.
It wouldn't answer anyway,
And so the book was bought!"

The boy has a number of good times with the book (not least immersing himself in the book's stories), and he is devastated when the book in fact does run away. A frantic search ensues, but not to worry. All turns out well in the end for boy and book. Here's my favorite part of the text:

"The boy's mom gently asked him
How a book could bring such joy.
"It's cuz every book's a friend!"
Said the yawning little boy.

While I generally resist overt messages in picture books, I am happy to be able to give this particular message a pass, because it is supported by an such exciting and amusing story. While the book is not alive (doesn't eat or talk or anything), Staake does allow the book a bit of apparently independent movement. It can march along ahead of the boy on its leash, and it is able to hide at one key point in the story. 

My Pet Book showcases Staake's colorful, detailed illustrations. The people have round, abstract faces in various colors. The houses are sometimes tilted, and the cars oddly shaped. Each page includes some small detail to delight young readers. My daughter, for instance, was pleased to point out fleas jumping off a dog's back on one page. And while there is no apparent reason for there to be a cat on a tightrope in the middle of the book, it's nice to see one there anyway. My daughter and I both particularly like one page spread in which the boy is imaging that he is in various stories. The smirk on his face as he ties a purple octopus in knots is priceless, as is his sheer joy to be headed into space in a yellow rocket ship.

Even the end papers of My Pet Book are fun. They feature various images of the boy doing things with his book, like juggling, eating ice cream, and taking a bath. 

My Pet Book is destined to be a family favorite in my house, and will find a place beside The Donut Chef (a frequent read) in my daughter's room. Especially recommended for libraries, My Pet Book will be a colorful, quirky addition to the ranks of books about the joy of books. What a treat!

Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers (@RandomHouseKids)  
Publication Date: July 8, 2014
Source of Book: Review copy from the publisher

FTC Required Disclosure:

This site is an Amazon affiliate, and purchases made through Amazon links (including linked book covers) may result in my receiving a small commission (at no additional cost to you).

© 2014 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook

Links I Shared on Twitter this Week: July 3

TwitterLinksHere are highlights from the links that I shared on Twitter this week @JensBookPage. I am posting a day early this week because of the July 4th holiday. Topics this week include: authors, awards, book lists, common core, growing bookworms, events, kidlitcon, publishing, teaching, libraries, and summer reading.


Rest in Peace, Walter Dean Myers. Here's an appreciation from Tanita Davis at Finding Wonderland

Just Walk Away: Authors and Illustrators Who Do — @fuseeight #kidlit

Book Lists and Awards

Roger Sutton makes some excellent points in this @HornBook editorial about new ALSC policy on communication by judges

RT @CynLeitichSmith: Growing Int'l #Latino Book Awards Reflect Booming Market via @NBCNews

2014 Guardian Children’s Prize Longlist | @tashrow has the list

Children's Literature at SSHEL | #kidlit recommendations for Independence Day: Remembering the Revolution

Stacked: Get (sub)Genrefied: Alternate History @catagator #BookList

A few Seek and Find Picture Books, recommended by @greenbeanblog #kidlit

Very nice list! 14 Children's Books that Challenge Gender Stereotypes | @momandkiddo #BookList

Top Ten Books for Young Readers about Encountering Obstacles by @MrazKristine @NerdyBookClub

2014 Mind the Gap Awards (books ignored by ALA awards) from @HornBook via @tashrow

Common Core / Literacy

#CommonCore IRL: In Real Libraries -- 2014 ALA Presentation from @MaryAnnScheuer + friends

Higher Ed Administrators Seek To Stem States’ Rush Away From #CommonCore @LibraryJournal via @PWKidsBookshelf

Spreading the Good Word about Visual #Literacy @SevenImp chats with Francoise Mouly @KirkusReviews

Events, Programs and Research

RIF_Primary_Vertical"children spend nearly 3 times as many hours weekly watching TV or playing video games as they do reading" | @RIFWEB

Sad! The World Book Night project has been suspended, reports @bkshelvesofdoom

Book drive for unaccompanied immigrant children kicks off July 10 reports @latimes via @PWKidsBookshelf

Growing Bookworms

One of many reasons to read aloud | Children’s Picture Books Use More Sophisticated Words Than You | Michaels Read

Why dialogue is important to kids' comprehension development from @TrevorHCairney #literacy

RT @PapaJFunk: @JensBookPage This story inspired me more than anything … I'll read every night to my kids while they're in my house...


KidlitCon2014_cubeCall for session proposals @charlotteslib -- #Kidlitcon 2014: Blogging #Diversity in Young Adult and Children’s Lit

The call for session proposals for #KidLitCon14 is live! Deadline for submissions is 8/1. Theme: blogging #diversity

Celebrating @MrSchuReads with a Donation to @ReadingVillage, from @MaryLeeHahn + @frankisibberson


Interesting thoughts @haleshannon on the segregation of ideas (choosing to only hear from people w/ similar ideas)

Interesting article on the cost to our productivity of distractions from Facebook push updates, etc. @WSJ (login req)

On Reading, Writing, and Publishing

Bertelsmann Getting Out of Book Retailing, reports @wsj (login req) #Publishing

Powerful post on books as Lifelines by Heather Preusser @NerdyBookClub

Schools and Libraries

Teachers should cry in class when reading poignant stories ... Michael Morpurgo says @TelegraphBooks @PWKidsBookshelf

Interesting! Pew Research Center – 7 Surprises About Libraries | reported by @tashrow @PewInternet

Save libraries by putting them in the pub says man tasked by Government to save them The Independent via @bookpatrol

Summer Reading

Fizz, Boom, Read: Library #SummerReading Programs Blend Learning with Fun and Prizes | @sljournal

Jumpstart your summer adventure – Dig into reading, suggests @wendy_lawrence #SummerReading

Fun idea! @aliposner Tip-a-Day #5: Designate a place outside your home specifically for #SummerReading outings

#SummerReading Tip-a-Day #6: Take your kids on a “summer is here” new book-getting mission! | @aliposner

#SummerReading Tip#7 @aliposner | Make sure your kids have reading STARs – Space, Time, Access to books, and Rituals

#SummerReading Tip #8 @aliposner | Create an open-faced book display somewhere in your house

The Ultimate #SummerReading List for Teachers from @Scholastic via @mattbgomez 

I love this one! #SummerReading Tip #9 from @aliposner | Create an outside reading spot at your home |

#SummerReading Tip #10 @aliposner : Make sure kids have easy access to tools for written response to books

#SummerReading Tip #11: Stock up on “Barebooks” materials for fun and authentic summer writing | @aliposner

Five Tips for Summer-Long Learning - Tina Chovanec from @ReadingRockets @FirstBook #SummerReading

Macy’s and @RIFWEB Aim to Boost Summer Reading (hint: only 17% of parents think it’s a priority!), says @StorySnoops

© 2014 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook.

The Call for Session Proposals for KidLitCon14 is Now Live!

I 2014KidLitConLogo am pleased to announce the call for proposals for the 2014 KidLitCon. The 8th annual KidLitCon will be held in Sacramento, CA on October 10th and 11th, with sessions held on both days. This year’s theme is Blogging Diversity in Young Adult and Children’s Lit: What’s Next?

From the proposal submission form: 

“We are looking for presentations and panels that will inspire and edify Kidlitosphere bloggers. While we’re specifically interested in presentations that address what bloggers can do to make a meaningful difference in increasing and promoting diversity in children’s and young adult literature, sessions covering other topics such as reviewing critically, trends, social media, marketing, technology, and industry relationships are welcome.”

This year’s Program Coordinator is Charlotte Taylor, who blogs at Charlotte’s Library. Charlotte prepared this year’s submission form with assistance from last year’s Coordinator, Jackie Parker from Interactive Reader

The last day for proposal submissions is August 1st. I hope you'll consider participating. Click here for the Proposal Submission Form. The registration form will be available soon. 

Growing Bookworms Newsletter: July 1

JRBPlogo-smallToday I will be sending out a new issue of the Growing Bookworms 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 and young adult books and raising readers. I currenty send the newsletter out every two weeks.

Newsletter Update: In this issue I have four book reviews (board book, picture book and young adult), two posts with links that I shared on Twitter recently, and a tip for nurturing developing readers. Not included in the newsletter, I shared a news release about the Kate Greenway Medal win for Jon Klassen's This Is Not My Hat

Also, just so that it doesn't get lost amid the clutter of my Twitter links, I highly recommend a Summer Reading Tip a Day series that Ali Posner is running on her blog, Raising Great Readers with Great Books. These tips are well beyond your usual: take your kids to the library and participate in summer reading programs. For example, there's Tip #7: Make sure your kids have reading STARs – Space, Time, Access to books, and Rituals for summer reading. This one comes complete with a photo of kids quietly reading in a cozy, tent-like space. My daughter happened to see the photo, and immediately demanded her own reading tent. In short, if you are in need of detailed, out of the ordinary tips for engaging young readers this summer, you definitely won't want to miss Ali's series. 

Reading Update: In the last three weeks I read two young adult and three adult books (helped out by a lot of time spent listening to books on MP3 while walking). I read:

  • Demitria Lunetta: In the After. Harper Teen. Young Adult. Completed June 18, 2014, on Kindle. Review to come. 
  • Charlie Higson: The Fallen (Enemy #5). Hyperion. Young Adult. Completed June 29, 2014. I enjoy the plot twists of this series, and the way the various books connect and overlap. But the violence and gore are starting to get to me ... 
  • Victoria Thompson: Murder in Murray Hills (A Gaslight Mystery). Berkley Hardcover. Adult Mystery. Completed June 21, 2014, on MP3. This series remains one of my favorites, though there is some particularly disturbing content in this installment. 
  • Elizabeth Bird, Julie Danielson, and Peter Sieruta: Wild Things! Acts of Mischief in Children's Literature. Candlewick. Nonfiction. Completed June 23, 2014, ARC. Review to come.
  • Janet Evanovich: Top-Secret Twenty-One (Stephanie Plum). Bantam. Adult Mystery. Completed June 24, 2014, on MP3. Must admit that I am getting a bit tired of the sameness of these books - I may stop here... 

I'm currently reading The Silkworm (A Cormoran Strike novel) by Robert Galbraith (aka J.K. Rowling) on Kindle, The Summer I Saved the World ... in 65 Days by Michele Weber Hurwitz in print, and All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr on MP3. Next up on MP3 is going to be the first Harry Potter book (with thanks to Maureen Kearney, who inspired me to try listening for the first time instead of re-reading this series). 

As always, you can see the list of books that we've been reading to Baby Bookworm here. She's currently obsessed with an old childhood favorite of my husband's, rediscovered on a recent trip to Boston. It's Something Queer is Going On: A Mystery, by Elizabeth Levy & Mordicai Gerstein. She got quite upset when she was unable to find it one afternoon when she had friends over, because she wanted to show it to them. 

What are you and your family reading these days? Thanks for reading the newsletter, and for growing bookworms. 

© 2014 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook