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Posts from October 2014

Links I Shared on Twitter this Week: October 17

TwitterLinksHere are highlights from the links that I shared on Twitter this week @JensBookPage. Please note that I am NOT sharing the many, many tweets that I posted during last weekend's KidLitCon. You can see those by following the #KidLitCon hashtag. Links to KidLitCon roundups from other people's blogs can be found on this Kidlitosphere Central post (which I will continue to update). I'm also not sharing here various links that I shared to posts with suggested Cybils nominations, since nominations for the Cybils Awards have closed.

What I do have by way of links this week is many book lists, plus posts about the cybils awards, diversity, growing bookworms, reading, schools, and libraries.

Book Lists and Awards

Horn BOO! 2014, an annual 
selection of “spooktacular” new books for Halloween reviewed by @HornBook staff

Scary stories for beginning readers (ages 5-8) from @MaryAnnScheuer #kidlit

I am a sucker for #YAlit about Plagues & Epidemics. Luckily Kimberly from Stacked has a list:

Stacked: The Death Business in YA Fiction: A (Short) Reading List from @catagator #YALit

Picture Books: Our New Loves, a list of recent favorites from @StaceyLoscalzo #kidlit

7+ Kids' Books Illustrated by Alexandra Boiger, featured by @mrskatiefitz #kidlit

From Easy Readers to First Chapter Books | Titles to Ease the Transition | Joy Fleishhacker in @sljournal

Great titles about 2014 Nobel Peace Prize winner, Malala Yousafzai | @LibraryVoice in @sljournal

Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Bones | New Books About the Human Body | Vicki Reutter in @sljournal

12 Picture Books to Inspire Artistic Creativity in kids from @momandkiddo #kidlit

Book Recommendations Based on Books You Already Love from @growingbbb #kidlit

The 2014 National Book Award Finalists have been announced. @tashrow has the scoop for Young People's Literature


Today's #Cybils Featured Review: Cress by Marissa Meyer reviewed by @Miss_Fictional @MacKidsBooks

Nominations for #Cybils Awards Now Closed to the general public, and open to publishers + authors #kidlit

Calling all publishers, authors, + app developers, the #Cybils awards will accept your nominations starting tomorrow

Share your suggestions for the new Featured Blogger selection at the #Cybils Awards. People who blog + love #kidlit


Why @GuardianBooks is holding a #diversity in children's book week via @bkshelvesofdoom #WeNeedDiverseBooks

See also #diverse voices: the 50 best culturally diverse children's books from @GuardianBooks #kidlit

Huge collection of other #diversity in #kidlit -themed links @bkshelvesofdoom today

DiverseYAInfographicWNDBLooking for a #diverse YA book? New Infographic from #WeNeedDiverseBooks by @TracyDeLopez shared @bkshelvesofdoom (click image to left to enlarge)

A Checklist to "See" Race/Culture in Kid/YA Books by @MitaliPerkins our keynote speaker at #KidLitCon

#WeNeedDiverseBooks -- recommending books from a wide range of perspectives (ages 4-14) by @MaryAnnScheuer

Shine a Bright Spotlight on Unsold #Diverse Books: An Idea Inspired by Hollywood’s Black List | @LatinosInKidLit

Black Speculative Fiction Month, Day 15:Author Alicia McCalla's Thoughts on #BSFM @dos_twinjas

Thirteen Scary YA Books: #Diverse Edition from @LEEandLOW via @bkshelvesofdoom #yalit

Events + Literacy Programs

Guys Lit Wire: Ballou Sr High School is moving into new digs & we want to celebrate that with our annual book fair!

Growing Bookworms

Parents who read to their children nurture more than #literary skills @AAPNews via @librareanne

Storyline-online-logoStoryline Online: a great resource spreading the joy of reading (ages 3-8) from @MaryAnnScheuer

Mommy Librarian's Story Time Secret #5: Sing Story Time Songs at Home from @mrskatiefitz

Guest post @BookChook by Amie Butchko | Bringing the Wow Factor to Reading #GrowingBookworms

On Reading, Writing, and Publishing

"Stories provide a simplified simulation world that helps make sense of + learn to navigate our complex real world"

Great places to keep up with YA and Children's Books! from @yabooksandmore #kidlit #yalit

Historical Accuracy in Illustration: Shifting Standards or Stubborn Certainties? asks @fuseeight

Top Ten Reasons to Marry a Nerdy Book Club Member by @brianwyzlic + @rex_lisasaurus @NerdyBookClub


Great stuff! Six Good Reasons Why Family Conversation at Mealtimes is Still Important from @TrevorHCairney

Schools and Libraries

Should we level texts for students? asks @ReadByExample #reading

This is cool! Milwaukee Public Library Introduces Book Vending Kiosk | @WPR via @tashrow

Librarians React to Pew Study on Willingness to Disagree on Social Media @LibraryJournal via @tashrow

A new campaign: "can we throw away our reading logs? I actually think we can" says @StaceyLoscalzo

© 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.

Unmade (The Lynburn Legacy Book 3): Sarah Rees Brennan

Book: Unmade (The Lynburn Legacy, Book 3) (iBooks link)
Author: Sarah Rees Brennan
Pages: 384
Age Range: 12 and up

Unmade is the conclusion of Sarah Rees Brennan's Lynburn Legacy trilogy, following Unspoken and Untold. I read a lot of books, but the Lynburn Legacy series has stayed in my head more than most. I think this is due to a combination of Brennan's strongly rendered Gothic tone, and her deep characterization of primary and secondary characters.

The Lynburn Legacy series is about a teen named Kami who lives in an English town historically ruled by the Lynburn family of sorcerers. When the Lynburns return after an absence, and one of them goes very bad (and power-mad), Kami finds herself defending her family and her town against impossible odds (but with a strong team of supporters, including two Lynburn teens). 

I hesitate to say too much about the plot of this third book, for fear of spoilers for the other two. So I will merely say that Unmade picks up following the cliffhanger ending of Untold, and takes heroine Kami through some dark times. A couple of the twists in Unmade shocked me, and were painful because I cared deeply about the characters. If I could have, I would have read this book straight through without once putting it down. 

What more can I say? Rather than a formal review, I will give you a few comments:

  • Kami rocks. She is strong and determined, and doesn't let even major losses stop her from doing what is right. She has a keen sense of self, but is also plausibly insecure (e.g. about whether people find her less attractive because she is of mixed race, in a very white village). 
  • Jared Lynburn, Kami's love interest, also rocks. He is unconventional and brittle, the survivor of a difficult upbringing. A particular bonus of this third book was watching his developing relationship with his snooty aunt, Lillian Lynburn. 
  • Lillian also rocks. She is not a nice person, but she is fiercely loyal, and cuts to the heart of things. Her reluctant banner with Kami's non-magical dad is priceless. Here's my favorite quote from Lillian: "I don't believe in telling children comforting lies. It lets them delay growing up. I want to lay all possible choices before my children, so they can decide what to do." (Of particular note about this quote is a certain ambiguity about who she means by "children", since only one of the kids in the book, Ash, is actually her biological child.)
  • Brennan incorporates diversity into Unmade, seamlessly and organically. There is a character coming to terms with wanting a lesbian relationship (and associated introspection/insecurity about that), as well some diversity or race and class, all tackled head-on.
  • Another nice thing: while not taking over or saving the day, parents play a significant role in the book. Here's Kami on that subject: "The first thing to do was slip away from her father, who might have questions about why she kept insisting on going back to the lair of ultimate evil. Kami saw why so many teenagers who had adventures in books were interestingly tragic orphans. Parents were a real buzzkill, adventure-wise." (Page 201) Kudos to Brennan for incorporating parents without killing the books's buzz. 

I think that fans of Sarah Rees Brennan's Lynburn Legacy trilogy will find Unmade to be a satisfying conclusion to the series. And for those who have not read these books, if you enjoy darkly atmospheric, supernatural YA romance, the Lynburn books are not to be missed. Highly recommended!

Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers (@RandomHouseKids
Publication Date: September 23, 2013
Source of Book: Review copy from the publisher

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

Literacy Milestone: Getting Her First Library Card

LiteracyMilestoneAI wrote last week about my daughter reading (well, sounding out) her first book. By way of celebration, we went to the library the next day, to get her first library card. She was literally jumping up and down with excitement. Naturally, we had to check out books - a lot of books.

Apparently, she could have had her own library card when she was two (thank you, San Jose Public Library). But I'm glad that we waited until she was old enough to see it as a milestone herself, and to be excited about it. 


When she spoke to Grandma on the phone later that day she said:

"Grandma, I have good news! I got my own library card today."

Grandma was suitably impressed. As was the cashier at the restaurant where we picked up pizza the next day. And pretty much everyone else we've run across lately. 

Getting one's first library card is a big deal. I can remember mine, actually, and I have a terrible memory. I hope that my daughter will remember getting hers. Certainly, her new bright green library card is going to get plenty of use. 

© 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


KidLitCon and Cybils Update: Last Call to Nominate for 2014

Cybils-Logo-2014-NominatedTomorrow, October 15th, is the last day for the general public to nominate titles for consideration for this year's Cybils awards. Starting Thursday, we will be accepting nominations from publishers and authors through October 25th. Today at the Cybils site, Blog Editor Melissa Fox shared links to quite a few posts in which people have compiled lists of titles that have not yet been nominated. If you haven't nominated (or haven't nominated in all of the categories that you are interested in), these lists are a great source of ideas. 

The general goal of all Cybils nominations should be to recognize titles (published in English in the past year) that are well-written and kid-friendly. The Round 1 Cybils panelists are already hard at work gathering and reading the nominated titles. So far (with thanks to Sheila Ruth for designing our lovely database), there have been 786 eligible books nominated, 60% of which have been read by at least one panelist. Much more reading will be taking place over the next couple of months.

Personally, as a Round 1 judge in Fiction Picture Books, I've read 32 of 111 eligible titles. The hard part is not reading 111 picture books, of course, but getting hold of them from various library systems (which we try to do as much as possible, rather than imposing upon publishers). 

KidlitCon2014_cubeIn other news, the 8th Annual Kidlitosphere Conference (aka KidLitCon) was a resounding success. Here is a slightly modified version of what I shared at the Kidlitosphere Central site:

KidLitCon was 50+ people talking in Sacramento over two days about children’s and young adult literature and blogging, and how to increase diversity in both. There was a tremendous energy in the room(s) at all times. It was exhilarating and exhausting. Keynote speaker Mitali Perkins was fabulous, as was Skype guest speaker Shannon Hale, and the many brave presenterslisted here. 

Below, you can see a photo of the KidLitCon organizing committee. Lots of other pictures are available by following links further below. 

KidLitCon: Brought to you by:
l-r: Maureen Kearney, seated. Standing, Tanita Davis, me (Jen Robinson), Charlotte Taylor, Melissa Fox, Reshama Deshmukh, and Sarah Stevenson. (Image credit to Tanita’s husband, David.)

Here are links to some roundups and followup posts from presenters (in Twitter format, because they were first shared there):

#KidLitCon, 2014: A Retrospective, Part I, from Tanita Davis, w/ great photos + insights 

Thoughts on #KidLitCon 2014 from @aquafortis | Small World, #Diverse Voices 

A Checklist to “See” Race/Culture in Kid/YA Books by @MitaliPerkins our keynote speaker at #KidLitCon 

Happy times at #Kidlitcon from @charlotteslib like @haleshannon Skyping from her rocking chair + calling@Book_Nut 

i am #kidlitcon | finding more people to play!!!, conference wrapup by @MayaGonzalezArt w/ cute child photos 

A bit late to post, but this was a mid-con Update from @MsYingling attending her first #KidLitCon 

#kidlitcon wrapup + PDF handout for reading + blogging diversely from presenter @shgmclicious 

Ten takeaways from #Kidlitcon 2014 from Leila @bkshelvesofdoom 

#KidLitCon wrapup and thoughts on #diversity from @CrazyQuilts 

Thoughts on #kidlitcon and on not being “too nice” in the call for #WedNeedDiverseBooks from @ZettaElliott 

Very interesting thoughts from Tanita Davis on the #KidlitCon, 2014: NOTEPAD FORUM and following #diverse bloggers 

#KidlitCon in Photos, 10 pictures shared by @Book_Nut 

With special thanks to Leila from Bookshelves of Doom for collecting many of these links. 

For more tidbits from the conference, do check out the #KidLitCon hashtag, where a number of folks were live-Tweeting during both days. 

And, in other important KidLitCon news, KidLitCon 2015 will be held in Baltimore, with thanks to Sheila Ruth andPaula W. More details to come! We will continue to share information at Kidlitosphere Central, as well as on the KidLitCon Twitter and Facebook accounts. Stay tuned…

Many, many thanks to everyone who participated in KidLitCon 2014. 

And now, get out and nominate books for the Cybils awards!


Oddrey and the New Kid + Oddrey Joins the Team

Books: Oddrey and the New Kid / Oddrey Joins the Team 
Author: Dave Whamond
Pages: 32
Age Range: 4-8

Oddrey is a young girl with a free spirit. With her quirky behavior, she is accustomed to standing out from the crowd, but she's also a natural leader. She thinks up interesting games, and encourages her friends to participate. When a new girl, Maybelline, joins Oddrey's class, Oddrey expects them to be friends. What she doesn't expect is that Maybelline's over-the-top stories of exciting adventures will draw their classmates' interest, and make Maybelline the new class leader. Only when Maybelline gets herself into a bit of trouble on a visit to the zoo do the two girls learn to fully coexist. 

Oddrey is a likable heroine. I like the way Whamond shows that even though Oddrey does have a certain flair for drawing attention, she also goes out of her way to give her attention to others. There's a marvelous page spread (pre-Maybelline) in which the kids are all building a huge sand castle, and we see Oddrey popping about, telling people: "Good job!", "Love those colors!", etc. This is in sharp contrast to Maybelline, who leads a leaf-jumping game by bossing the other kids around. The author refrains from editorializing about this (he shows without telling), but it's easy enough as a parent reading to a child to ask which approach seems better (leading by encouragement or leading by bossiness). 

I also like the ending of this book. Oddrey ends up helping Maybelline, and the two girls do become friends, but Maybelline remains fully in character, bragging about her own performance to the last. Instead of showing an unrealistic character change for Maybelline, we instead see Oddrey learn to accept the new girl for who she is, and interact with her on those terms. Again, there's a message there that the parent can point out to young readers, but it's not heavy-handed.

Whamond's bright, cartoon-like illustrations are delightful. He tends toward busy images, with lots of things going on, and lets the pictures, together with fairly minimal text, tell the story. Oddrey and Maybelline's personalities both come across through their expressions and posture. My favorite is an image where Oddrey is standing, hands on hips, mouth a thin line, as Maybelline, proud expression on her face, declares her intention to rescue a monkey. These images are probably too hectic for the youngest of readers, but they are sure to appeal to pre-K and up. My four-year-old daughter adores Oddrey and the New Kid. She has been regularly digging it out of my "to be reviewed" stack for ages. 

When my daughter learned that there was a new Oddrey book, about Oddrey playing soccer, no less, she literally jumped up and down for joy. In Oddrey Joins the Team, Maybelline invites Oddrey to join the school soccer team. The core traits of each of the two friends are immediately on display. Oddrey has an "interesting technique", pirouetting atop the soccer ball, and bouncing it off of her backside. Maybelline is a strong player, but hogs all the glory for herself, never passing the ball. This combination leads the team to struggle in their first game, until Oddrey steps in with a game plan. Oddrey's plan acknowledges Maybelline's position as "queen bee", but also takes into account the unique skills of the other teammates (including Oddrey herself, of course). 

I especially appreciated the fact that Oddrey's team "didn't win that day. But they did have fun playing together." I feel like in sports books for kids there's often this requirement that the home team pulls out from behind to win, and that completely wasn't need here. 

Once again, Whamond offers amusing, vignette-filled illustrations. I especially liked one that uses a dashed line to show the path of the soccer ball as it is passed from kid to kid, with Maybelline issuing orders every step of the way. And I continue to love Maybelline's deadpan expressions in response. 

The Oddrey books are fun to read, with engaging illustrations, and a strong protagonist. They do offer some subtle lessons about social dynamics among kids, but they do this by showing, not telling, and keeping things light. I expect my daughter to continue requesting these two books on a regular basis for the foreseeable future. While the subject matter in these books would work well for classroom read-aloud, I fear that the illustrations may be a bit detailed for group reads. But for home use, for four and five-year-olds new to being in school, the Oddrey books are a treat. 

Publisher:  Owlkids Books (@Owlkids)
Publication Date: September 10, 2013, August 12, 2014
Source of Book: Review copy from the publisher

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

Shh! We Have A Plan: Chris Haughton

Book: Shh! We Have A Plan
Author: Chris Haughton
Pages: 40
Age Range: 3-7

I love Chris Haughton's books. Oh No, George! has become one of my four-year-old daughter's favorites. But his new one, Shh! We Have A Plan, is simply hilarious. Four little blue guys, in various sizes, are out in the woods. Three of them carry nets. They spot a red and purple bird (who stands out against the blue background and muted scenery). The littlest guy, the one without a net, tries to say hello to the bird, but the others shush him. Because they have "a plan." Then they try repeatedly to catch the bird, and fail every time. As astute readers will expect, it's the friendlier little guy who ends up with the best results. 

Though the text is minimal, Shh! We Have A Plan is a joy to read aloud. The mostly small text simply cries out to be whispered, and the short, repeated phrases will be accessible to even the youngest of listeners. It goes like this:

"hello birdie (little guy)

shh (next guy, holding a net, finger to lips)

SHH! (next guy, also holding a net, eyes scrunched tight in frustration)

we have a plan. (fourth guy, holding a net and a cage)"

Then on the next page, the following text is shown above each of the three as they approach the bird, while the littles one watches from a distance:



now stop.

Then when they try to actually get the bird, "GO!" is in bigger letters, for the young reader to shout out. And they end up tumbled in a pile, while the bird flies serenely away. I laughed out loud, and then laughed again at the pattern was repeated throughout the book. 

The blue-skinned guys (they don't look quite human, but are clothed and clearly not animals) resemble the parent figure in Oh No, George!, with big eyes, long noses, and squat figures. Their tumbles are comical. The bird looks like something a kid might make out of cut and taped construction paper in bright colors (though more nimble than actual kids would be able to produce). Later pages include a variety of different-colored birds that I think may inspire preschoolers to do some drawing of their own. 

Shh! We Have A Plan, with its muted colors and mostly whispered text, would make a wonderful bedtime book, though there is some risk of a late-evening attack of the giggles. There's a subtle message for readers about reaching out with kindness instead of stealth, but the three bigger guys never do learn this lesson (to continued giggles). Though perhaps a bit simple for first and second graders, Shh! We Have A Plan is perfect for the preschool and K set. Highly recommended!

Publisher: Candlewick Press (@Candlewick) 
Publication Date: September 9, 2014
Source of Book: Review copy from the publisher

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

Enzo Races in the Rain!: Garth Stein & R. W. Alley

Book: Enzo Races in the Rain!
Author: Garth Stein
Illustrator: R. W. Alley
Pages: 40
Age Range: 4-8

Enzo Races in the Rain! is a new picture book written by Garth Stein and illustrated by R. W. Alley. It's about a puppy who, unlike the other puppies, feels "more like a person." When people talk, he wants to talk back, and hear them say "Yes, yes, we know exactly what you mean." The puppy also loves, loves, loves to run. He loves speed so much that when he is adopted by a little girl named Zoe and her father, they name him after Enzo Ferrari. Enzo Races in the Rain! is about Enzo's adjustment to his new home, and about finding a place where one is understood. It is adorable, from cover to cover. 

Enzo Races in the Rain! is a bit more text-heavy than many modern picture books, told from Enzo's first-puppy viewpoint. Like this (on one page spread):

"One day, I see a cloud of dust blowing down the barn road toward us.

It's a car running like I've never heard before. Not chugging like the old man's tractor but smooth and even, the way I feel when I run.

I race to meet it. But it is fast. Really fast.

A girl in the car is waving at me. 

The girl and a big man get out. I see that the girl is small -- a puppy like me.

The car smells like the others, but there is a new smell, too. It is sweet and clean. It is the little girl."

There's a lot to like here. I like how despite feeling like a human, the puppy has a dog's focus on smells (this theme continues through the book). I also like the way Stein makes it clear that this is a new puppy, without a lot of knowledge of the world. He's never seen a car that doesn't chug. And I love Enzo's enthusiasm about everything. 

Another thing that I like about this book is that Zoe's father appears to be a single dad. There's no comment on this, but he is caregiver and nurturer, and maker of pancakes for dinner. It's nice to see a picture book that reflects something other than the traditional two parent, two child family. And Zoe and her dad are a lovely family, too, even if small. They welcome Enzo into their home with understanding and generosity, though the book never feels cloying or overdone. 

Alley's illustrations ("pen and ink, pencil, watercolor, gouache, acrylic, and coffee spills") are simply perfect for Enzo Races in the Rain!. Enzo is bright-eyed, with perky ears. Alley conveys his near constant movement, as well as his human-like curiosity. The backgrounds seem predominantly colored pencil and pen and ink, with textures everywhere (especially where there is grass). There is a warm feel to the pictures that works well with the warm feel of the story. 

Enzo Races in the Rain! has a timeless feel. I think that young listeners will fall in love with Enzo, and ask to have this book read to them again and again. Highly recommended for home, library, or school use. I hope to see more books about Enzo in the future. 

Publisher: HarperCollins Children's Books (@HarperChildrens
Publication Date: October 7, 2014
Source of Book: Review copy from the publisher

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

Links I Shared on Twitter this Week: October 9

TwitterLinksHere are highlights from the links that I shared on Twitter this week @JensBookPage. As I am headed out for KidLitCon tomorrow, I am posting the links one day early. Topics this week include book lists (many!), cybils, kidlitcon, growing bookworms, events, literacy programs, diversity, schools, libraries, reading, publishing, ebooks, and parenting.

Book Lists

Atmospheric audiobooks, stories of supernatural and psychological suspense, chosen by Katie Bircher @HornBook #kidlit

10 Amazing Character Driven Picture Books, list by @rosemondcates #kidlit

10 Perfect Read Alouds for Fifth Grade @PragmaticMom #BookList #kidlit

Great resource! 7 Easy Reader Series by Cynthia Rylant (with Printable Reading Checklists), from @mrskatiefitz

Reviews from @bookchook | Recent Children’s Picture Books about Animals #kidlit

YA supernatural baddies, our new novels involving creepy paranormal characters, by Cynthia K. Ritter @HornBook #yalit

Off-the-wall picture books for Halloween selected by Martha V. Parravano @HornBook #BookList #kidlit

Eerie places in recent middle grade fiction, selected by Shoshana Flax @HornBook #kidlit #BookList

The 2014 Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize Shortlist, @bkshelvesofdoom #BookList #kidlit


At @charlotteslib a list of forthcoming books eligible for the Elementary/Middle Grade category of the #Cybils

Some suggested titles to nominate for #Cybils in Middle Grade Speculative Fiction from @semicolonblog

My #Cybils reading has begun in earnest reports @bkshelvesofdoom w/ feedback on 4 titles

Some suggested fiction picture books to nominate for #Cybils from @semicolonblog #kidlit

Some suggested #Cybils Nominations from @brandymuses in elem/MG speculative fiction

Today's #Cybils featured review is Always Emily by Michaela MacColl, reviewed by @bkshelvesofdoom

Get Your Cybils Nominations In! urges Round2 judge @TesseractViews #kidlit

Stacked: #Cybils - Thoughts & Considerations from @kimberlymarief on her first time as a Round2 judge

Some suggested titles in Young Adult Speculative Fiction from @semicolonblog for #cybils nominations

Amy at Hope is the Word is once again hosting Armchair #Cybils. Details here on participating:

Today's #cybils featured review: Eerie Elementary #1: The School Is Alive!, review by @mrskatiefitz


What to Read at Baby Storytime #6: #Diverse Books selected by @abbylibrarian #kidlit

Top Ten LGBTQ Books the Younger Me Desperately Needed by @librarydino @NerdyBookClub #BookList #Diversity

#Diversity in Publishing Matters (Whether You Like It Or Not) @WallaceYovetich @bookriot via @tashrow

Events, Programs and Research

Lots of good stuff in the October 2014 Calendar of Children’s Books @AboutKidsBooks via @CynLeitichSmith #kidlit

A challenge from @roomtoread for International #Literacy Day: try to go for 24 hours without reading anything. Video:

Favourite fictional teachers on World Teachers Day from @cjfriess at Story Snug #kidlit #BookList

A great event! The annual Book Fair for Ballou returns on Monday! reports @chasingray #literacy

They are gorgeous! Book Benches Charm Londoners, reports @PublishersWkly

Growing Bookworms

Tips from @StaceyLoscalzo | Raise a Reader from A to Z, for example Q: "Quit books that you don’t like" #literacy

"My kid doesn’t like books and it’s okay" @embeedub @salon on letting go of hyper-competitive intellectual parenting

How do I know if my preschool child is ready for school?, tips from @TrevorHCairney #literacy


KidlitCon2014_cubeFrom @aquafortis at Finding Wonderland: #KidLitCon 2014 Is Coming! w/ invite/image for Author Mingle on Friday pm

As she prepares for #kidlitcon, @MsYingling has a question for her fellow book-loving travelers:

Thinking about Blogging Voice, in preperation for #Kidlitcon, @charlotteslib would welcome your feedback

On Reading, Writing, and Publishing

Marc Aronson at Uncommon Corps: Crossover? Cross-Up? What Is Going On W/ Adult-authors Writing NF for Younger Readers

Stop what you are doing and burn all your books (or how to tell if a picture book is good) by @bobshea @NerdyBookClub

Reading our Way Through Chemo Treatments - Guest post by Barbara Dee in On Reading @5M4B

5 Tips For Getting Out of a Long-Term Reading Slump - Susie Rodarme @thebooksluts @bookriot via @tashrow

Interview @CynLeitichSmith | @FuseEight + @SevenImp on Wild Things: Acts of Mischief in Children’s Literature


Why I Am Not "Just" A Parent (+ Neither Are You) | @momandkiddo on being qualified to have fun learning with kids

Schools and Libraries

I Tried, I ‘Liked,’ I Shared: How School Librarian @100scopenotes handles social media | @sljournal

Problems with Library #Ebooks | Wayne Bivens-Tatum in Peer to Peer Review @LibraryJournal via @tashrow

© 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.

You Are (Not) Small: Anna Kang & Christopher Weyant

Book: You Are (Not) Small
Author: Anna Kang
Illustrator: Christopher Weyant
Pages: 32
Age Range: 2-5

You Are (Not) Small by Anna Kang and Christopher Weyant is a well-executed picture book designed to make the concept of relative size clear to the youngest of readers. The story begins with an orange bear saying to a smaller purplish bear: "You are small." The smaller bear objects, insisting that it's not that he's small, but that the other bear is big. They each line up other friends to support their argument ("They are just like me. You are small.").

Just as things are getting a bit testy, a huge blue furry paw drops down in between them with a "BOOM!", followed by the descent of tiny pink bears floating down via parachute. This is enough to help the bears to realize that it's possible to be big and small at the same time. Which is a pretty subtle concept to be conveyed by a book that has entire page spreads with no text except for "Big!" and "Small!" 

You Are (Not) Small will be a fun book to read aloud to toddlers and preschoolers. The text is all dialog (except for the "BOOM!"), inviting the use of higher vs. lower pitched voices. The "BOOM!" is likely to startle young readers the first time, but sure to elicit giggles after that.

Weyant's ink and watercolor bears are minimally detailed, yet fully able to convey expressions of puzzlement, belligerence, etc. They're awfully cute, too. My favorite is when the first smaller bear says: "I am not small. See?". He gestures to himself, eyes closed, with such an innocently proud expression. He reminds me of a two year old.

In short, You Are (Not) Small is a delightful addition to the ranks of picture books for early preschool set. It teaches about relative size without feeling like it's teaching anything, and even throws in a very subtle dose of conflict resolution by kids. Plus, I'm telling you, kids are going to love these bears. This would make a good choice for a library storytime, or as a gift for your favorite two-year-old. Recommended!

Publisher: Two Lions Press 
Publication Date: August 5, 2014
Source of Book: Review copy from the publisher

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

Growing Bookworms Newsletter: October 8

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 currently send the newsletter out every two weeks.

Newsletter Update: In this issue I have six book reviews (picture book and young adult), two posts with links that I shared on Twitter recently, and two posts describing recent literacy milestones by my daughter.

Cybils-Logo-2014-Rnd1I'll be sharing quite a few picture book reviews in the coming weeks, which is why I'm increasing my reviews per week from two to three. I'm a round 1 judge for the Cybils Awards in Fiction Picture Books this year, and have been clearing my "to be reviewed" pile to prepare. You can see the list of titles that have been nominated for the Cybils in Fiction Picture books so far. I'll try to have at least one middle grade or YA review each week, too. 

Not included in the newsletter, I also shared two posts about KidLitCon (taking place this Friday and Saturday in Sacramento). 

Reading Update: In the last two weeks I completed five books, two middle grade, one young adult, and two adult. I read:

  • J. K. Rowling: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Book 7). Scholastic. Middle Grade/Middle School. Completed September 27, 2014, on MP3.
  • Peggy Eddleman: Sky Jumpers #2: The Forbidden Flats. Random House Books for Young Readers. Middle Grade. Completed October 2, 2014. Review to come.
  • Virginia Bergin: H2O. Sourcebooks Fire. Young Adult. Completed September 24, 2014, on digital ARC. Review to come.
  • Deborah Crombie: To Dwell in Darkness (Kincaid/James). William Morrow. Adult Mystery. Completed September 29, 2014, on Kindle. A bit bleak, but still lovely. This one ends on a bit of a cliffhanger, with a threat to Duncan left open for the next book. 
  • Lee Child: Personal (A Reacher Novel). Delacorte Press. Adult Mystery/Thriller. Completed October 5, 2014, on MP3. I liked this one better than the last couple - more action in the field and less action in the bedroom. Reacher spends time on the international stage. 

I'm currently reading the third book of Maggie Stiefvater's Raven Cycle: Blue Lily, Lily Blue. I'm listening to The Fifth Wave by Rick Yancey. I read The Fifth Wave last year, but decided to listen to it prior to reading the sequel, The Infinite Sea, which just came out. In case this isn't obvious, this is quite an endorsement, that I am keen to listen to the audio of a book that I read just last year.

As always, you can see the list of books that we've been reading to Baby Bookworm here. We've been on quite a reading binge. When she's eating breakfast these days she no longer asks me to read a book to her. No, she asks: "Can you please read me a few books while I eat, Mommy?". We also read a book or two while I'm brushing her hair (no small task). I'm seriously thinking I need to start getting her up for school earlier, because she's ending up late. But it's a good problem for a mommy bookworm to have (my kid expects me to read her too many books in the morning, poor me). I have to give credit to the breakfast table book rack, though (which I restock at least once a week). Having books there all the time has been a huge factor. 

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

Headed Out for KidLitCon

2014KidLitConLogoI will be headed out later this week for the 8th Annual KidLitCon in Sacramento. The conference is being held Friday and Saturday at the Tsakapoulos Library Galleria. If you are already registered for KidLitCon, great! I look forward to seeing you there. And if you've been thinking about it, but didn't register by the pre-registration deadline, we are accepting walk-in registrations. Details are at the bottom of this page

One thing that hasn't been publicized much: for those planning to attend KidLitCon, we will be having an informal book swap. If you would like to bring a few books to trade/give away, feel free. We also have a number of ARCs sent by generous publishers, so if you are traveling, definitely come with extra room in your luggage. Ms. Yingling is! 

If you happen to be in the Sacramento area, you are welcome and encouraged to attend our Author Mingle on Friday afternoon from 3 to 5 (no registration needed). Details are below:


Finally, if you are not attending KidLitCon, but would like to follow along, I am quite sure that people (myself included) will be live-tweeting as much as possible. Follow the hashtag: #KidLitCon. 

The 8th Annual KidLitCon! It's going to be a great time. Looking forward to seeing you there!

This book just ate my dog! by Richard Byrne

Book: This book just ate my dog!
Author: Richard Byrne
Pages: 32
Age Range: 3-6

This book just ate my dog!, by Richard Byrne, is a playful story that encourages kids to interact with the book. The author makes it clear from the first page that the story is taking place within the context of a book. We begin: "Bella was taking her dog for a stroll across the page when...". And then Bella's dog just disappears into the crack in the middle of the book. A boy who tries to help and a "Dog Rescue" ambulance also disappear into the book. Eventually, Bella disappears herself. Fortunately, she's able to get a note out to the reader, indicating how to resolve the tricky situation. 

This book just ate my dog! is a wonderful read-aloud. It's one of those books that you try to read silently to yourself, but you can't help imagining (or sharing aloud to the empty room) the inflexions that you would use to read it to a child. I think this is partly due to Byrne's use of short, punchy phrases and cliffhangers, and partly due to the mastery with which he conveys Bella's emotions. You can see exactly what she's feeling, which makes it easy to read the words in that same tone.

Not that one would really use it this way, but this book would actually make a good primer with which to teach young kids about different emotions (puzzled, dejected, hopeful, etc.). After the Dog Rescue vehicle disappears into the book, Bella is the perfect epitome of crestfallen. 

Byrne's illustrations are deceptively simple, with sponged gray backgrounds, and a minimal white grid drawn to indicate the ground. This muted background makes brightly drawn Bella, holding the red leash for her missing dog, stand out.

The end of the book borrows a page from Herve Tullet's Press Here, asking the young reader to interact with the book. I can't imagine any reader who will be able to resist. This book just ate my dog! is absolutely perfect for preschool age readers, and, with brief text, might also work as an early reader for slightly older kids. This is going to be one of my new "go to" books. Highly recommended. 

Publisher: Henry Holt Books for Young Readers (@MacKidsBooks)
Publication Date: September 30, 2014
Source of Book: Review copy from the publisher

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