190 posts categorized "Afternoon Visits" Feed

Sunday Afternoon Visits: October 11: FTC, JOMB, and Book Awards

I hope that you're all having a peaceful weekend. Here are the recent links that have caught my eye:

The FTC Disclosure Guidelines continue to evoke strong responses from around the literary blogosphere. Here are a few new posts worthy of your attention:

  • Ron Hogan at GalleyCat offers another open letter to the FTC, saying "I object to the FTC's disclosure requirements as defined by your new guidelines. I want to be clear on those last six words—I don't object to legitimate disclosure requirements for genuine commercially subsidized content." Ron also shares the results of an interview that PRNewser did with Richard Cleland of the FTC, suggesting that publishers may be the ones who really have to start worrying about all of this. If you review books on your blog, you really should be following Ron's posts on this.
  • Melissa Fox at Book Nut also has an open letter to the FTC. Melissa argues that reviews of books are inherently "biased", because reviewers being their personal reactions to each book, and discusses why this is actually a good thing. 
  • Liz Burns pointed to two additional links in the comments of my previous post. I'm adding them here, to make sure that people don't miss them. See this and this, from Dear Author.
  • Liz has also written up her policies on accepting and processing review copies here. Her views on this are very similar to my own. I especially liked this part: "Publishers who donate copies for review have no expectation of anything when they submit books; as a matter of fact, if a publisher raises that expectation, even for something like when a review will be posted, I refuse the copy."
  • MotherReader pointed to a helpful post from a lawyer's perspective at Boston Bibliophile.
  • Susan at Color Online also weighs in. I liked this part: "I am a literacy advocate not a book reviewer. You will find book reviews on Color Online but book reviews are not our focus; they are an integral part of promoting a love of reading, celebrating multiculturalism and increasing literacy."
  • Colleen Mondor shares some publisher responses to a letter that she's been sending out here. I like the response that Flux has sent to PW on this issue.

On a lighter note, there's a party going on at 7 Impossible Things Before Breakfast, where Jules and Eisha, together with Adrienne from What Adrienne Thinks About That chat with blogging authors Sara Lewis Holmes and Tanita Davis. I also learned from Tanita's blogging partner Sarah that Tanita's "latest novel Mare's War is under consideration for the ALA Best Books for Young Adults 2010 list." Nice to see good news, isn't it?

At Angieville, Angie takes on the frequent absence of parents in young adult fiction. She says: "since I read a lot of young adult literature, I thought I'd highlight a few of my favorite YA novels that possess that rare commodity--two involved, complex parents. This is not to say they are perfect by any stretch of the imagination! But they are there. They are trying. And, most importantly of all, their presence in the novel strengthens the narrative rather than weakening it."

Terry_readingtubfinal_1 At The Reading Tub, Terry has launched a monthly new resources feature. She explains: "As you may remember, when Jen and I talked about the revamped Children’s Literacy and Reading News Roundup, we decided to pull the New Resources section from the weekly posts. The links are helpful – and often really cool – but they felt like an add-on that didn’t quite fit with the rest of the stuff.  Now, we’ve created a more fully developed post that I will publish the first full week of each month." This month, she shares a bunch of new blogs, as well as other resources.

Terry also created a new widget (with permission, of course) to show support for Andrea and Mark from Just One More Book! while Andrea fights breast cancer. You can see it in my right-hand sidebar. You're welcome and encouraged to download and add it to your own blog, if you are interested.

Liz B. at Tea Cozy and Melissa at Book Nut are talking about blog comments (as are many readers, in the comments). Liz has a pretty laid-back approach to the whole thing: "Whether or not I keep reading your blogs have nothing to do with whether you comment on mine; it's whether or not I like what you write." Melissa, on the other hand, advocates more commenting, especially one smaller, less-read blogs. Me, I think that if you want to be part of the community, you need to do some combination of commenting, engaging with people on Twitter and Facebook, emailing people directly, and linking to other people's posts. But if someone wants to just read my blog, and not engage directly, that's fine with me, too.

Quick hits:

  • Amy from Literacy Launchpad shares some lessons that she's learned from and about reading aloud to preschoolers.
  • Terry Doherty continues her series on "the people behind the passion" (for reading and literacy) at The Reading Tub, profiling Susan Stephenson from The Book Chook.
  • Jason Boog at GalleyCat reports on Barack Obama's win of the Nobel Peace Prize, emphasizing President Obama's role as an author.
  • Natasha Maw reports on the winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature at Maw Books.
  • Karen from Teenage Fiction for All Ages shares the winner of the Guardian Children's FIction Prize (Exposure by Mal Peet). It's due out in the US on Tuesday.
  • Speaking of book awards, Lee Wind has an interesting post about a change in the rules for the Lambda Awards. He explains: "See, The Lamdba Literary Awards (the Lammies) used to be for BOOKS that were GLBTQ in content. Now, they're saying that the AUTHORS have to self-identify as part of the Gay Community for their GLBTQ books to qualify." I agree with Lee that this change to an established award is the wrong way to go about things. And, for the record, as Lee mentions, the Cybils awards are about the BOOKS, not about any attributes of the authors.
  • Mary Pearson would like to know whether or not bloggers want to be thanked for their reviews. I think this is a very subjective question, but I did share a few of my personal thoughts on this in the comments at Mary's.
  • Monica Edinger has an interesting post about the use of retrospective voice (an adult narrator looking back on a story from childhood) at Educating Alice. Specifically, an in the context of the Newbery awards, she wants to know whether novels written in a retrospective voice appeal to kids.
  • Anastasia Suen hosts Poetry Friday this week at Picture Book of the Day.  
  • Episode 2 of The Exquisite Corpse Adventure (this episode written by Katherine Paterson) is now available.
  • At The Places You Will Go, Daphne Lee has a post in defense of some oft-challenged books "that educate and inform children and teens about their bodies." She also has a nice post about the rights of readers to read and to not read (quoting from  Daniel Pennac’s The Rights of the Reader).
  • And see more end of the week links from Abby (the) Librarian, Book Dads, and My Friend Amy.

© 2009 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. All Amazon links in this post are affiliate links, and may result in my receiving a small commission (with no additional cost to you).


Wednesday Afternoon Visits: October 7: The FTC Guidelines, Community Support, and Harriet the Spy

It's been another active week around the Kidlitosphere. Here's my take on the highlights and lowlights.

JOMB_bookmark First of all, please join me in sending good thoughts to Andrea Ross from Just One More Book!, who was just diagnosed with breast cancer. Andrea's husband and JOMB co-founder, Mark Blevisreported today that "The Just One More Book!! children’s book podcast will be taking an indefinite hiatus so that Andrea and I can focus on making Andrea a Breast Cancer survivor." Mark also included a few statistics in his post that show, if anyone needs to see it, how much JOMB has done to promote children's love of books these past few years. Andrea and Mark have my deepest of good wishes, in fighting this battle. Also, if there's anyone out there who might have doubts as to whether the Kidlitosphere, a virtual community, is a real community, just check out the comments on Mark's post already.

This is a bit circular, but Liz B. recently profiled my Afternoon Visits series at A Chair, A Fireplace, and A Tea Cozy. If you're reading this, you already, by definition, know about my afternoon visits posts. But still, I'd like to thank Liz for the write-up, part of a series that she's been doing about ongoing events around the Kidlitosphere (including Poetry Friday, founded by Kelly Herold, and Nonfiction Monday, founded by Anastasia Suen).

Liz also wrote an excellent post recently listing professional sources for reviews of children's and young adult literature. She calls it her "if you're reading children's books and want more reviews" list. She warns: "The primary audience for many of the reviews in these journals is adult gate keepers. The review isn't for the end-reader but for a person buying materials for the end-reader. In other words? Yes, there may be spoilers." Looking at all of Liz's recent content together, one thing is clear to me. If you're writing online reviews of children's and young adult books, and/or you're interested in being part of the community of other people doing this, you should be reading Tea Cozy.

One another thing that Liz has been on top of is this whole FTC Disclosure Guidelines issue. If you've somehow missed it, the FTC issued guidelines (link goes to PDF) for bloggers this week regarding disclosure of relationships with publishers. The implications for book bloggers are problematic, to say the least. The FTC seems to be declaring that any mention of a book (in a blog post or tweet or Facebook comment) is an "endorsement" (at least if the book was received from a publisher OR you are an Amazon Affiliate), and that review copies can be considered in some sense "compensation". There's also a suggestion of returning review books to the publisher, to avoid them being considered compensation. All of this shows that the FTC doesn't at all understand how book blogging work. Nonetheless, there are some stiff fines involved for violations, and this is something that bloggers should be taking seriously. These are going to be laws that, even if they don't fully make sense to us, could be enforced. We're going to see a lot of discussion of this issue, on blogs and listservs and Twitter, while we see how it all shakes out. The regulations go into effect December 1st. It is not out of the question that many of us will no longer be accepting review copies after that, though I hope it doesn't come to such a drastic response.

If you'd like to learn more, you should probably start with Ed Campion's interview with Richard Cleland from the FTC about specific applicability to book bloggers. Then move on to these two posts from Colleen Mondor at Chasing Ray. Then go to GalleyCat, and read all of Ron Hogan's posts from this week (especially this one). You might also check out responses at MotherReaderthe Book Smugglers, the Reading Tub, Kids Lit, The Cybils blog, and Confessions of a Bibliovore.

Nonfictionmonday Getting back to regular news, this week's Nonfiction Monday roundup is at Moms Inspire Learning.

Steph at Steph Su Reads has some suggestions for authors seeking reviews and for reviewers seeking books. I think that she makes some good points, and I especially agree with her top suggestion: personalization. Review requests that start with "Hey there" or "Dear Blogger" don't exactly endear themselves to me. I'll likely post on this topic myself later in the year. I've started a little file with some pet peeves.

At Shrinking Violet Promotions, Mary and Robin interview Egmont publisher Elizabeth Law about marketing and book promotion techniques for authors. Here are a couple of tidbits that struck me: "We used to send authors on the road more, and we used to encourage them to go into every bookstore within a few hours’ drive of their house and sign books, do appearances, etc. Now we love it if they have a website, get to know bloggers and librarians online, etc" and "Authors who give thoughtful recommendations of others’ books, or who comment on writers’ LiveJournal blogs for example, are showing that they are interested in good books as a whole, and not just their own."

Cybils2009-150px Nominations continue to roll in for the Cybils, at this half-way point in the nomination cycle. On this post, you can find the link to the nomination form, and to the lists of nominated titles so far. We're closing in on 600 eligible titles. Nominations will remain open through the end of the day on October 15th.

KidLitCon-badge MotherReader has some updates regarding KidLitCon (which is NEXT WEEK). The biggest news is that there's now an author signing event (featuring 6 authors) taking place on Sunday at Hooray for Books!.

Quick Hits:

  • Kate Messner suggests five ways to celebrate National Reading Group month.
  • As pretty much a direct result of blogging and Twittering by Carol Rasco, RIF has launched a new series of real-world author visits. First up is the Kidlitosphere's own Laurel Snyder. I found this a nice example of the tangible connections that can come from blogging.
  • Greg Pincus has updated his "I'm Pretty Well Connected" social web poem.
  • At Semicolon, Sherry Early asks: "What good books would you recommend for children and young adults that feature characters living in poverty or in lower middle class financial stress? How does this choice of socioeconomic class on the part of an author affect the book and its characters’ choices?"
  • Colleen has a new installment of What a Girl Wants at Chasing Ray. This week's theme is "holding out for a super heroine". She asks her stellar panel of contributors: "So does it matter if girls only have Wonder Woman to read about as a major super heroine and that all the other women are relegated to "supporting" status? Are we missing something important or is this just all too testosterone fueled anyway? Do girls even want more super heroines?" 
  • Did you hear that Harriet the Spy is being reinvented as a blogger? Monica Edinger has the scoop at Educating Alice.
  • Christine M reports at The Simple and the Ordinary that today is National Walk Your Child to School Day. While this post is probably a bit late for that to be useful, Christine's general reasons why it's important for kids to walk to school are timeless.

Sunday Afternoon Visits: October 4: Cybils, Poetry Friday, KidLitCon, and Wild Things

I did a pretty thorough Kidlitosphere roundup on Wednesday (though some of you may have missed it, because I was having some temporary technical problems with my blog this week - apologies). Anyway, I have just a few additional links to share with you today.

Cybils2009-150px First up, the Cybils nomination process is going strong. As I write this, there have been more than 400 eligible nominations. There have been some great, great titles nominated. You can view the lists of nominated titles (complete with cover images, and the name of the person who nominated each book), here:

We've also been continuing to roll out profiles of Cybils organizers, lists of panelists, and introductions to the various categories. There are too many posts to link to - I recommend that you go to the Cybils blog, and check it out. You can also follow the Cybils on Twitter. Last, but not least, you can find some great tips for new Cybils panelists at Abby (the) Librarian.

At A Chair, A Fireplace and a Tea Cozy, Liz B. offers an introduction to Poetry Friday, and a thank you to PF founder Kelly Herold. (Liz also links to Susan Thomsen's previously written and definitive intro to PF). Fittingly, this week's Poetry Friday roundup is at Crossover, Kelly's new blog. Like Liz, I don't end up participating in Poetry Friday all that often these days. I have trouble with scheduled events, beyond my own roundups and PBS posts and so on. But I still think that Poetry Friday is one of the jewels of the Kidlitosphere, a weekly celebration of poetry, spread across a variety of different blogs, completely volunteer run, and fully democratic.

Ellen Hopkins continues to face book challenge drama. She says: "the superintendent of schools in Moore OK ... preemptively pulled all my books from all her schools “as a precaution.”" Nice. Don't even put the book banners to the trouble of mounting challenges - just remove everything. Maureen has a roundup of some other Banned Book Week links at Confessions of a Bibliovore. Colleen Mondor shares her thoughts on several related topics (with lots of discussion in the comments) at Chasing Ray.

At The Happy Accident, Greg Pincus has a great post about #kidlitchat, Twitter, and community. He explains the goal that he and Bonnie Adamson had in starting the weekly chats in the first place (to build community), and the benefits that are already coming out of these sessions. Like this one: "Each member of our individual networks sees our passion and, if they want, can see our community in action – sharing, laughing, supporting, learning. We can be emissaries for children’s literature as a group, far more than we can as individuals." How great is that?

Quick hits:

  • Pam Coughlan has some new details about KidLitCon at MotherReader, as well as links to some external articles that show why authors can't "afford not to invest in learning more about blogging, social media, and online presence."
  • Sherry has a new installment of her Saturday Review of Books at Semicolon. This is a regular Semicolon feature, in which a host of bloggers submit links to a review from the week (it's supposed to one review, but lots of people apparently link to all of these reviews). Anyway, it's a nice place for browsing.
  • At Literacy, families, and learning, Trevor Cairney has a detailed piece about the importance of historical fiction, and why children should be encouraged to read it. He gives lots of examples.
  • Monica Edinger links from Educating Alice to some points at the SLJ Heavy Medal blog on the Newbery Award, audience, and insensitivity. She calls it "Hard stuff, but important. Highly recommended."
  • Esme Raji Codell has a fun post at PlanetEsme highlighting "great new books about books and writing".
  • Abby (the) Librarian has a few more links in her Around the Interwebs post from Friday. Karen has still more links at Teenage Fiction for the Ages, in her Links from the Blogosphere post. And still more from Gwenda Bond at Shaken & Stirred and from Book Dads in their Weekend Wander.
  • There's a nice post at the ESSL Children's Literature Blog from Nancy O'Brien listing children's literature on multicultural families.
  • The featured author at Readergirlz this month is Libba Bray.
  • At 100 Scope Notes, Travis posts several Wild Things links. Are you interested in Where the Wild Things Are tattoos? I'll bet Betsy is. And just in case that's not enough Wild Things news for you, Elaine Magliaro links to a Boston Globe article about how Maurice Sendak made the world safe for monsters.
  • And in closing, my favorite blog post of the week. Laini Taylor posted photos of her husband, Jim di Bartolo, reading to their baby. She's looking straight at the book. She's smiling. The photos are perfect! Do click through. They'll brighten your day.

And that's all for today. Hope you've all been having a lovely weekend!


Wednesday Afternoon Visits: Exquisite Corpse Adventure Edition

I begin to think that the sheer impossibility of keeping up with the news from around this Kidlitosphere is a permanent condition. Particularly when, as was the case last weekend, I have trips. But here's my best effort to capture the news from the past week. Hope that you find it useful.

ECA-main-title3 I've been following the news about the NCBLA/Library of Congress/Jon Scieszka project, The Exquisite Corpse Adventure. The project was officially launched at last weekend's National Book Festival. The idea is for the project to be "a buoyant, spontaneous experiment; a progressive story game just like the one many families play on road trips, at camps, at parties, at home when there is a power outage... Members of The Exquisite Corpse Adventure “motley crew” are, in reality, some of the most gifted artists and storytellers in our nation, award-winners all—M.T. Anderson, Natalie Babbitt, Calef Brown, Susan Cooper, Kate Di Camillo, Timothy Basil Ering, Nikki Grimes, Shannon Hale, Daniel Handler aka Lemony Snicket, Steven Kellogg, Gregory Maguire, Megan McDonald, Patricia and Fredrick McKissack, Linda Sue Park, Katherine Paterson, James Ransome, Jon Scieszka, and Chris Van Dusen." If you follow the NCBLA's blog, you'll be notified easily about each new episode (new episodes will be published every two weeks for the next year). You can also (I learned from Leila at Bookshelves of Doom) follow a special RSS feed for the new ECA posts alone).

Ncblalogo I must confess to being particularly pleased because, as part of a Literacy Resource Treasure Chest accompanying the Exquisite Corpse Adventure (prepared by the National Children’s Book and Literacy Alliance and the Butler Children’s Literature Center at Dominican University), the team published a list of "Blogs that Inspire". And, well, my blog is listed, along with several other amazing blogs (see Fuse 8's thoughts here). I must say, this made my week. But in general, the page offers nice one-stop shopping for many of the literacy organizations that Terry Doherty and I talk about all the time. It is truly an honor to be included.

3961914637_3993283a87 Moving on, there have been tons of articles about on Banned Book Week, too many for me to link to here (but check out Finding Wonderland, for a range of posts, and Lee Wind's challenged author roundtable discussion). But my attention was caught by this article from Boston.com, sent to me by my friend Alex from Outside In. It's an op-ed piece by Julianna Baggott about an embattled teacher's response to potential "objectionable material" in books. Here's the part that got me: "The overwhelmingly sad thing for me was the sound of fear in this woman’s voice and her utter lack of conviction in the things that probably once inspired her to become a teacher in the first place - the way someone can talk about the world of books, the power of the imagination, and change a child’s life."

Mimlogo_sm Lori Calabrese reports that Saturday (October 3rd) is Make it Matter Day. She says: "Reader's Digest, Reading Is Fundamental, and other organizations are partnering to bring learning to life for Reader's Digest's National Make It Matter Day, this Saturday (October 3rd). Members of local communities as well as local and national organizations will rally behind literacy and education in over 100 events at select schools, Boys & Girls Clubs, YMCAs, and libraries across the U.S." She also offers concrete suggestions for participating.

What-book-2 Today is the last day to vote in First Book's What Book Got You Hooked? campaign. The First Book blog says: "Don’t forget to cast your vote for the book that got you hooked and the state to receive 50,000 new books. Voting is open through 12:00 am midnight ET TONIGHT, September 30!"

Quick hits:

  • At Semicolon, Sherry Early vents about the "torn between two lovers device" in literature and film. Now me, I find this compelling, when done well. But I still enjoyed Sherry's post.  
  • By way of followup to last week's What A Girl Wants column, which lamented the way that socioeconomic woes are often ignored in children's and young adult fiction, Colleen Mondor discusses two recent books that do take economic struggles into account (Operation Yes by Sara Lewis Holmes and Heart of a Shepherd by Rosanne Parry, two books that I loved. See also Sara's YES interview with Rosanne.)
  • Greg Pincus shares 10 Facebook Status Update Ideas at The Happy Accident. I also liked Greg's earlier post about 10 Golden Rules for Engaging Via Social Media, created with Mark Blevis.
  • Ann has an interesting post about picture book end papers at Booklights today. See also Terry's post from yesterday about celebrating culture with books, in honor of National Hispanic Heritage Month. I'm also somewhat attached to Gina's Show and Tale selection for this week: Harriet the Spy.
  • Mary Pearson writes at Tor about the unsung hero of literature: setting.
  • Becky from Becky's Book Reviews explains her reading challenge addiction.
  • Sarah shares "hot books" from her middle school classroom at The Reading Zone. Sarah also shared a lovely success story recently, about creating a lifelong reader.
  • Susan Taylor Brown is seeking your favorite unsung kidlit blogs by authors and illustrators for a top-secret project.
  • At Roots in Myth, PJ Hoover suggests that parent-son book clubs would help engage more boys in reading. There are many, many interested and supportive comments on this subject.
  • Speaking of boys and reading, Lori Calabrese highlights Gotcha for Guys: nonfiction books to get boys excited about reading.
  • Kudos to DaughterReader (and proud MotherReader) for her recent National Book Festival success doing a dramatic reading with Mo Willems.
  • Kate Coombs (Book Aunt) writes about her observation that story books (one step up from picture books, including fairy tales, written to be read to slightly older kids) are losing ground fast.
  • I was traveling and didn't have a chance to participate, but Sunday's 7 Kicks from the 7-Imps featured one of my favorite characters, Andrea Beaty's Ted (of Doctor Ted fame, now reinvented as Fireman Ted).
  • Liz B has the scoop on the Simon & Schuster Blogfest 2009 at Tea Cozy. Liz also had a post over that weekend about whether or not it should be viewed as negative to want to understand how something like the Book Blogger Appreciation Week awards worked. There is a LOT of discussion about transparency in the comments.
  • Speaking of transparency, the Readergirlz Divas recently shared an explanation of how they choose the books that they feature each month.
  • At Shelf Elf, Kerry Millar has a post highlighting three authors who she thinks are also great bloggers (including the reasons why). I certainly agree with her choices.
  • Justine Larbalestier has a bit of a rant on the current obsession with dwelling on an author's age (as in, "isn't it amazing that he wrote this book by the age of ... whatever").

Whew! That's it for today. Later this week I'll be working on literacy news and reviews. And, of course, following the Cybils nominations. And preparing for KidLitCon. And ... wouldn't it be nice to have time to read books sometime? Thanks for reading!


Wednesday Afternoon Visits: September 23

There is way too much going on around the Kidlitosphere for me to wait until the end of the week to share the news. Here are a few highlights:

Newlogorg200 Readergirlz announced their latest initiative for Teen Read Week: Read Beyond Reality. Here's a snippet: "Teen Read Week, a week-long celebration of literacy, is scheduled for Oct. 18-24, 2009, and will include live chats with top teen authors on readergirlz.com, the most popular online reading community for teen girls... In support of this tremendous literary initiative, the readergirlz divas will host nine young-adult authors—eight of whom are nominees for the Teens’ Top Ten—throughout Teen Read Week." You can read the full press release here. There's also a downloadable post here, and a trailer here.

Betsy Bird at A Fuse #8 Production reports on the new and improved Guys Read website from National Ambassador for Young People's Literature Jon Scieszka. She says: "I'm talking new look, new blog, cool recommendations, and funny funny funny." Books are in categories like "how to build stuff" and "robots". 

Cybils2009-150pxThe Cybils blog remained active this week. On Monday, deputy editor Sarah Stevenson posted the latest Cybils organizer profile, this one featuring Susan Thomsen from Chicken Spaghetti, this year's MG/YA Nonfiction category administrator. Then today she posted the profile for our Easy Reader panel organizer, Anastasia Suen. The other big Cybils news is that we've started announcing panelists for the categories. Here, you'll find the list of panelists (for both rounds) for the Easy Reader and Short Chapter Books category. Our other amazing panels will be announced soon!

At Chasing Ray, Colleen Mondor has a new installment of her What A Girl Wants Series, in which she engages in discussion with a variety of young adult authors. This installment's theme is "because we are not all rich girls". Colleen says: "The great swath of the American public however have actual jobs - blue collar or white collar they simply go to work to get a paycheck. In teen literature this is often not part of the equation and it left me wondering what that means to so many kids who can not ignore the money or how they live because of it." A number of authors share smart, insightful responses.  

KidLitCon-badgeMotherReader announced the charity that will benefit from this year's KidLitCon raffle. She says: "This year I’ve turned to Donors Choose for our charity, and specifically to impoverished Washington, DC, schools. At this point I’ve selected two proposals to fund. I picked Literacy is Fun-damental because they need Spanish language books, which are hard to pick up at a discount or at a local book sale, and because the picture of the kids is soooo cute. I picked It All Starts With Reading! because they need titles for teens, and the picture of the empty bookcase is soooo sad." She's also accepting prize donations for the raffle, if anyone is interested. You can also see the updated list of people scheduled to attend, at the bottom of this post.

Nancy_Silhouette Angie from Angieville, one of my book selection kindred spirits, has a post up today about her favorite mystery series (something that I tackled last month). Of the seven she listed, I adore five of them (some were on my list, and some weren't, but I love them all). A sixth is a second series by an author I'm currently working my way through, so I'm delighted to hear that the other series holds up, too. And the seventh, well, clearly I'll have to check that one out. Because if Angie's taste matches this well with mine, how could I possibly not want to read that one, too. Click through to see her choices. (And don't you love the image, which I borrowed from Angie's post?)

At Moms Inspire Learning, Dawn Morris has a two-part interview with Terry Doherty from The Reading Tub. (Terry is, as regular readers know, my partner in the weekly children's literacy roundups). The interview is Dawn's launch of a new "Moms Inspire Moms" series. She talks with Terry about how and why Terry started The Reading Tub (a nonprofit designed to "make it easy for families to create a positive reading environment at home, find great books ... and make it accessible to EVERYONE!"), as well as Terry's personal experience in raising her daughter, Catherine, to be a reader. Then (in an echo of the paired interviews that were my favorite part of last week's Book Blogger Appreciation Week), Terry interviews Dawn about Moms Inspire Learning ("Simple Resources and Strategies to Inspire Lifelong Learning, Reading, and Leading"). Dawn shares tips for teaching kids to read, and also talks about inspiring kids to write. She even has a Read Aloud Recipe for a Garden of Reading. Very nice!

Quick hits:

  • Natasha from Maw Books has a very fun post about how she manages to blog with two small children in her house. It's a visual - click through to see. I also really liked her BBAW wrap-up post, in which she spotlighted several blogs that she learned about through the whole event.
  • The Brown Bookshelf is looking for submissions for their flagship 28 Days Later event. Their blog says: "We are looking for submissions of African American children’s authors who are flying under the radar of teachers, librarians, parents and anyone who considers themselves a gatekeeper to a child’s reading choices."
  • As reported by Lauren Barack in School Library Journal's Extra Helping, Thursday (the 24th) is National Punctuation Day.
  • Friday is the deadline to submit entries for the September Carnival of Children's Literature. Susan Taylor Brown is hosting, and asks for your favorite post of the month.
  • Elaine Magliaro shares a list of fall-themed picture books and poetry at Wild Rose Reader.
  • This week's Nonfiction Monday roundup was at Bookends. Also not to be missed, at Tea Cozy Liz B. shares a thank you post in honor of Nonfiction Monday creator Anastasia Suen.
  • I don't usually highlight author interviews, but I did especially enjoy Sherrie Petersen's recent interview of fellow Kidlitosphere member, and Any Which Wall author, Laurel Snyder.
  • This seems to be my week for highlighting interviews, because I was also pleased to see author Justine Larbalestier interview blogger Doret from TheHappyNappyBookseller (about young adult fiction featuring girls playing sports, complete with recommendations).
  • Karen at Teenage Fiction for All Ages reported earlier this week that the shortlists for the Booktrust Teenage Prize have been selected. Would you imagine? The Graveyard Book is on the list. Winners will be announced November 18th. Tasha Saecker also has the shortlist, with cover images.
  • Persnickety Snark is hosting an international celebration of young adult book bloggers. Link via Leila from Bookshelves of Doom.
  • Kidliterate has launched a new feature called Old Release Tuesdays, with videos highlighting older titles that Melissa and Sarah enjoy selling. I think it's a nice idea! 
  • Laurie Halse Anderson has an important post, written in response to recent attempts to remove two of her books (Speak and Twisted) from high school classrooms. I especially liked this part: "I used to get really angry at these things because I felt they were a personal attack on me. Then I grew up. Now I get angry because book banning is bad for my country. It is an attack on the Constitution and about the core ideals of America. It is the tool of people who want to control and manipulate our children."
  • Speaking of book challenges, Leila has an update to the recent Ellen Hopkins book challenge (which I mentioned last week), at Bookshelves of Doom.
  • And Donalyn Miller, the Book Whisperer, has some suggestions in honor of Banned Book Week, too. She recaps several recent challenges, and offers criteria for teachers "to prevent book challenges and parent complaints before they occur".

And that's it for today. I do have lots of reviews that I've starred in my reader, but I'm not sure when I'll have time for a "reviews that made me want the book" feature. Soon, I hope. Happy reading!


Sunday Afternoon Visits: Pirates, Book Reviewing, and Blog Angst Flu

Last week kind of got away from me, blog-wise. Which is a shame, because there's been a lot of great stuff going on in the Kidlitosphere. This is my attempt to catch you all up.

Via lots of people, yesterday was Talk Like a Pirate Day. Me, I've been wanting to watch the Pirates of the Caribbean movies all weekend. Or at least Goonies... I recommend, for those of you interested in a different perspective on pirates, a reading of The Dust of 100 Dogs, by A. S. King.

Cybils2009-150pxLiz Burns has a post about the Cybils up today at A Chair, A Fireplace, and A Tea Cozy. She discusses the origins of the Cybils, as well as the transparency of the Cybils award process. If you've seen the term "Cybils Awards" floating around, and you're not sure what that means, do check out Liz's post. And if you're already a fan of the Cybils, I'm happy to report that you can now buy Cybils-themed items (mugs, etc.) at CafePress. I just got two gorgeous Cybils mugs in the mail this week. See also the introduction post for Liz Jones, this year's Graphic Novel Category Organizer. And did you hear that the Cybils Award now has a Wikipedia page?

Despite general excitement about the Cybils, another round of Blog Angst Flu (loosely defined as a periodic phase of questioning the purpose of and time required by a blog) is going around. Andrea and Mark from Just One More Book!! and Lenore from Presenting Lenore have both written recently about their struggles. Outside of the Kidlitosphere, Megan from Velveteen Mind has a post about the phenomenon in general (thanks to Liz B. from Tea Cozy for the link), reporting on blog closures after big conferences. Blog Angst Flu is surprisingly contagious (considering how rarely we're all in the same room). What I find helps fight it off is focusing on my larger goals for the blog (to help people who are growing bookworms, in whatever small ways I can). My stack of unread review titles taunts me sometimes, but I try to think of every review that I DO have time for as a little candle that I'm lighting in the darkness. It works for me, anyway.

Speaking of reviews, in this weekend's Around the Interwebs post, Abby (the) Librarian pointed me to an excellent post by author Jackson Pearce about the different types of reviews. Pearce offers an ode to bloggers who write "thoughtful, meaningful reviews" (she calls us rock stars!). She also discusses the problems with reviews that offer just a ranking, with no explanation, and other equally unsatisfactory types of reviews. Everyone who blogs about books should read and think about this post.

Speaking of authors and bloggers, Colleen Mondor has a post at Chasing Ray directed at authors with suggestions for ways to interact with the literary blogosphere. She's not talking about authors like Jackson Pearce, of course, but to those who send blog reviewers mass, impersonal emails about participating in blog tours, and the like. The conversation in the comments is well worth reading, for authors and bloggers. Colleen also has another new post, one that I'm going to talk about at length separately.

Getting back to review books, Greg Pincus has been collecting photos of people's to be read stacks (or, in some cases, bookshelves and closets). He's posted a compilation of photos at The Happy Accident. Some of these have to be seen to be believed. I didn't get around to sending mine in (I have a six-shelf bookcase, double-stacked, plus a growing pile of picture books on a nearby table), but seeing everyone else's made me feel a bit better about my own.

Another post with great pictures is from What Adrienne Thinks About That. Librarian Adrienne shares photos of her library's welcoming new Tween Center. I LOVED her opening paragraph: "Lately, I’ve been thinking that my philosophy of librarianship could best be summed up, “Embrace your inner nerd.” I want every child who walks in the doors to find something of interest in the Children’s Room, but, what’s more, I want children to know that this is the place where we love books and thinking and art and creativity and logic and problem-solving. This is the place where you can go to figure out the world or get a little respite when figuring out the world is wearing you out."

KidLitCon-badge One conference that I vow will NOT lead to anyone feeling discouraged about their blogging is the Third Annual Kidlitosphere Conference (now affectionately known as KidLitCon09). Pam has come up with a handy conference badge, which I'm proud to display. I'll be working on my panel session this week, about "Coming Together and Reaching Out: Building Community, Literacy and the Reading Message".

Booklights The PBS Parents Booklights blog is pleased to welcome two new guest contributors. Terry Doherty from The Reading Tub and Susan Thomsen from Chicken Spaghetti will be alternating weekly guest posts for a bit, while Susan Kusel takes a temporary break from posting. You can read Susan and Terry's welcome posts here and here. Pam, Gina, Ann, and I are thrilled to have them both on the team! Of course the real question is, will Susan be able to get Elmo's autograph?

Mitali Perkins has an interesting theory, after much discussion on her blog, about whether kids look for themselves in what they read, or not. She says: "Elementary-aged kids and upper high-schoolers are more open to fiction with protagonists who are markedly different than they are when it comes to race, class, or nationality. During early adolescence, fifth through ninth grade, most young readers buzz about and share books featuring protagonists they hope to resemble. Also, if everybody's reading it, or watching it, or playing it, odds are they'll want to, also." Sounds reasonable to me. Read more at Mitali's Fire Escape.

Quick Hits:

  • Color Online shares a recommended reading list for Hispanic Heritage Month (September 15 - October 15). There are some additional suggestions in the comments, too.
  • Bill from Literate Lives has a fun post (with pictures) about how NOT to treat a library book.
  • Sherrie from Write About Now has a lovely little post about her second grade daughter looking around the house for "secret portals", after reading The Doll People. This is what it's all about, people! Kids finding magic in what they read.
  • This weekend's Poetry Friday roundup was at Becky's Book Reviews.
  • Jill T. from The Well-Read Child recently put out a call for guest hosts for her weekly "what my children are reading" roundups. Quite a few people have already volunteered, but there are still slots available. I think that including other hosts is a great idea to strengthen this event.
  • Congratulations to the Kidlitosphere's own Monica Edinger from Educating Alice, who just sold her book Africa Is My Home (a book 10 years in the making) to Candlewick Press. Details here.
  • Inspired by a recent experience with having an author visit canceled because of censorship, Author Ellen Hopkins offers a stirring defense of the First Amendment (and a criticism of banning books). She says things like this: "NO ONE PERSON should be able to tell other people what their children can or can't read... Why not instead, parents, read the books with your kids, open the lines of communication, and TALK TO THEM!"
  • Middle school librarian Ms. Yingling (a frequent source of book suggestions for me) asks a philosophical question about what books she should be providing for middle school readers. In a depressing kind of reverse censorship, she gets pressured to push middle school kids to read YA, in many cases reading above their interest levels. See also Robin La Fevers' thoughts about older middle grade fiction.
  • Kelly from YAnnabe has a post about how to ban books the right way. OK, that's a provocative title. What she really talks about is banning oneself from buying more books, before they take over one's life. It's pretty entertaining.
  • At The Spectacle, Parker Peevyhouse asks whether authors should try to create more female secondary characters.
  • Charlotte from Charlotte's Library made me laugh out loud with this post.
  • Another fun post comes from Bri Meets Books, about "Top Five Kidlit Characters Who Were Infinitely Cooler Than Me When I Was Younger". She mentions one of my favorite characters, Sara Crewe from A Little Princes. Bri also had a nice post about last weekend's Roald Dahl Day.
  • Becky from Becky's Book Reviews recently read Tarzan for the first time. Check out her fun interview about the book, here.
  • The deadline to submit articles for TBR Tallboy (which Tanita Davis says is "a hip, low-tech, chapbook style fiction 'zine, successful after only one issue, filled with stories from atrociously talented writers, if I do say so myself") is September 30th.
  • Maureen from Confessions of a Bibliovore reports that the next big thing in young adult fiction is going to be angels. I say, sure, why not?
  • Did you hear about the Harry Potter Theme Park being built in Orlando? I heard about it from Educating Alice.

Five hours after starting this post (I kid you not, though I've also been working in parallel on tomorrow's Children's Literacy Roundup and watching the Red Sox), I am thrilled to report that all that's left starred in my Google Reader are an assortment of book reviews. (I'm saving those for the next "Reviews that Made Me Want the Book" column, of course.) Maybe you guys could all take next week off from writing interesting things, as a little favor to me? Kidding ... kidding! Thanks for tuning in!


Wednesday Afternoon Visits: September 16

This is one of those weeks in which it's nearly impossible to keep up with all of the interesting things going on around the Kidlitosphere. I'll be back with more over the weekend. But here are a few things that I wanted to share with you now.

BBAW_Celebrate_BooksMany children's and young adult book bloggers are participating in Book Blogger Appreciation Week. Yesterday a host of book blogs participated in randomly assigned interview swaps. The results are, I think, quite successful. It's nice to read about why people blog, how they blog, etc. (as a chance from the more customary author interviews.) You can find links to all of the interviews here, and links some of the participating children's and young adult at MotherReader. Today's theme is a Reading Habits Meme, which I'm going to try to get to later in the day. The winners in the various blog award categories have also been trickling in. There was much rejoicing in KidLitLand yesterday for Lee Wind, who won for Best GLBT Review blog. Kudos also to BBAW creator Amy, who won for Best Community Builder, and Natasha Maw, who won for Best Challenge Host and Best KidLit Blog.

A while back I posted about a reading teacher, Sandra Stiles, who was frustrated by being asked to follow a very structured reading program in her classroom (with students expected to choose between a proscribed set of 8 books). Today that link was included in an Examiner.com article by Cheryl Vanatti (aka Tasses from Reading Rumpus!) about why the recent New York Times article about reading workshops (and ensuing dust-up) missed the point. Cheryl says: "The real reason the New York Times article is important was lost in the scuffle. As standardized testing and accountability are the current driving forces in education, teachers like Sandra Stiles, who are forced to choose from eight district-approved titles, have lost the ability to do what is best for their students. Now, that’s an article we all should be reading." I agree! But do read Cheryl's whole article.

Cybils2009-Web-Small Nominations for the 2009 Cybils open October 1st. The Cybils organizers are working behind the scenes to put together judging panels in various categories, and get the new nominating form (created by Sheila Ruth) ready. In the meantime, you can learn more about the Cybils organizers at the Cybils blog (with two profiles posted so far, mine included). You can also show your support for the Cybils, if you are so inclined, by downloading and posting the snazzy new Cybils logo (created by Sarah Stevenson. You can find downloadable logos (aka bling for your blog) here. We hope that you'll all start thinking about your favorite books published since last year's contest and now, and be ready for nominations to open October 1st. 

Kidlitosphere_button Time is running out to register for the Third Annual Kidlitosphere Conference (aka KidLitCon '09). The deadline has, however, been extended into next week, so there's still time to register, and get the truly excellent hotel rate. The conference will be held October 17th in Arlington, VA. Here's a quick blurb about the conference from organizer Pam Coughlan (who has the extremely tough job of asking people to travel for a conference in a down economy):

For authors, illustrators, editors, and publishers in the area of children's and Young Adult literature, the October 17th Kidlitosphere Conference in Arlington, VA offers an incredible opportunity to learn more about online reviewers, blog book tours, blog writing, and social media. Participants will also talk to forty book reviewing bloggers one-on-one about their books in a Meet the Author session. The dinner gives everyone has a chance to socialize, talk, network, and collaborate. And all for a low $100 registration fee that includes breakfast and dinner.

Featured sessions for authors/illustrators include:

* It’s Not All About Your Book: Writing Ideas for Author Blogs
* Social Networking for Fun (and Profit?).
* Building a Better Online Presence

And several more sessions in the 8:00-5:00 p.m day. Attending authors will have the opportunity to set up a table and show their books to bloggers. This is a great opportunity to connect with the blogging community and promote fall titles.

It's not too late to participate!! I hope to see you all there. Everyone is welcome.

Online College recently posted a list of 100 Best Blogs for Book Reviews. Of course "best" is a highly subjective thing, but I think that the list is a nice resource for people looking to dip a toe into the book blogosphere. The list includes categories from general fiction reviews to mysteries to graphic novels and comic books to children's and young adult literature (where I was happy to be listed among several friends). The authors of the list took the time to include short blurbs about each blog. One thing that I thought was interesting (in light of some discussions that we've had in the Kidlitosphere) is that they specifically mention that several of the blogs "include sources of the books". I've always thought that listing the sources of the books enhances a blog's credibility - this list seems to support that. But I'd say, if you're looking for new review blogs in a particular genre, this list could be a good place to start.

And finally, speaking of sources for books, Colleen Mondor has a thought-provoking post at Chasing Ray asking publishers: "are you looking for publicity or critical reviewing from the lit blogosphere?" Here's a quote from Colleen: "I get a book, I read the book, fit it into a column's theme down the line, review the heck out of it ... and generally put some serious time into doing a good job of lit crit. Then I look online and see someone else who pasted the same book's catalog copy into a post, wrote three sentences about how much they LOVE it (for no reason I or anyone else can discern) and announce a giveaway of one or three or five copies of the book. Which means the publisher has happily sent them not only the exact same book but multiple copies of it and only wanted this nice little PR post in return. So why do I even spend more than five minutes at a single review EVER?" There is an excellent discussion going on in the comments. You can find my thoughts on this there.

And that's it for today. I have other starred items in my reader, and hope to get another post out soon. Happy reading!


Friday Afternoon Visits: September 11

September 11th will never again be just another day. One can't even think about the date without remembering the events that occurred 8 years ago. My heart goes out to the friends and family members who are still grieving. The people lost on 9/11/01 will never be forgotten.

But I think that remembering terrible things only makes it that much important to take positive actions when we can. In doing so, even when the actions are small, we send out a tiny light into the darkness. And so, this Friday, September 11th, I bring you the news from the largely joyful place that is the Kidlitosphere. First, some September 11th-related remembrances and reviews:

RIFF_logo At Rasco from RIF, Carol Rasco shares RIF's plans for the first official September 11 Day of Service and Remembrance. She says: "The tragic events of September 11, 2001 unified us as a nation. The memory of that day continues to inspire us to serve our neighbors, our communities, and our country. We are pleased to join this national effort and thank the President for making this call to service." 

14_cows At The Reading Tub, Terry Doherty shares her personal response to the book 14 Cows for America, saying: "Although September 11, 2001 is the backdrop for the story, Deedy is offering us a timeless, universal story of empathy, compassion, and shared dreams of hope. Sharing this book with a child will open their minds to other cultures, traditions, and belief systems."

Levithan_love And at Finding Wonderland, Tanita Davis intermingles her memories of 9/11 with a review of David Levithan's Love is the Higher Law. She says: "David Levithan is a New Yorker whose own impressions of that bewildering, horrifying, terrifying day are reflected in these pages. Few readers, teens and adults alike, will be able to experience this novel without remembering their own story -- where they were that day, what they did." Jackie Parker reviews the book, too, at InteractiveReader. She says: "I read it because it was David Levithan writing about 9/11. I know that Levithan is a New Yorker. And I trusted him as an author to deal with this subject with barefaced honesty, never pandering, never with any sense of self-importance or false heroism, or anything else that sullies that day." 

At The Simple and the Ordinary, Christine M. shares her fragmented but crystal clear 9/11 memories. Sarah shares hers at The Reading Zone, and Susan hers at Chicken Spaghetti.  Me, I was in Austin, Texas on a business trip, and I heard about the events in New York on the car radio, on my way to work. During the course of that half hour drive, the first tower fell. And things were different. We all remember.

But, now, because life does go on, I'll go on to the regular blogosphere news:

Book-blogger-appreciation-week Sherry Early has been running a great feature at Semicolon. She's going through the shortlists for Book Blogger Appreciation Week, checking out each blog, writing a short blurb about the blog, and identifying her pick in each category. For example, here's her assessment of the Best Thriller/Mystery/Suspense Blog category. I've flagged several of her posts to go back to, as I seek out new blogs to follow myself. (In the interest of full disclosure, I should admit that Sherry has some nice things to say about my own blog, shortlisted in the Best KidLit Blog category. But I would think it was a neat feature in any case, I'm sure.) See also a thoughtful post at Chasing Ray, in which Colleen Mondor shares her opinion about shortlisting blogs, in general. Incidentally, voting for BBAW closes at midnight Saturday night. I hope that if you have opinions about any of the categories, you'll take a few minutes to vote. And stay tuned for lots more BBAW activity next week.  

Cybils2009-Web-Small Thanks to the talented and hard-working Sarah Stevenson, new Cybils Bling is now available for purchase at Cafe Press. All of the new merchandise (t-shirt, mugs, buttons, tote bag, etc.) features the snazzy new Cybils 2009 logo. You can find details at the Cybils blog. Personally, I have my eye on a new mug, to go with my assorted Kidlitosphere Conference mugs from years past.

Booklights Pam and Susan have both hit it out of the park at Booklights this week, in my opinion. On Wednesday, Susan wrote about the ups and downs of reading aloud. She offers practical advice for parents who might be disappointed by their young kids' unwillingness to sit still for read-aloud. Her conclusion: "Go easy on yourself and your children when it comes to reading aloud. And enjoy the wonderful moments when they happen." Then yesterday, Pam used her Thursday Three feature to offer reading help for "the three people involved in your child's reading development - the teacher, the child, and yourself." I especially liked her strong suggestion that parents try to avoid The Reading Game (parental competition over kids' reading levels and books). Both of these posts have the same general message for parents: raising readers works best if you keep it fun, and keep from being too hard on yourself or the kids. And that, my friends, is why I'm so happy to be working with Pam and Susan (and Gina, who guides us all, and Ann, who reinforces what we're doing) at Booklights.

Terry Doherty wrote a guest article for this month's Children's Book Insider (subscription required) that some of you may find of interest. It's about generating cyberbuzz (or, how to get your book reviewed online). Terry offers tips based on her experience in moderating book review requests at The Reading Tub. She also makes an interesting distinction between "stories written for kids, titles adults like for their kids; and books meant for adults." There's also a followup interview between Terry and CBI's Laura Backes here. Terry also has a guest piece in the Examiner, as part of Jennifer Finke's series on Toys with Imagination. Terry talks about engaging toddlers and kids with interactive books (no batteries required!).

Nathan Bransford, the literary agent, started an interesting discussion on his blog this week about whether or not children's books should be "content-rated" like movies and video games. As I write there are some 250+ comments - clearly this is a topic that people feel strongly about. I found this post via Dawn Morris from Moms Inspire Learning (who found it via Jon Bard from Children's Book Insider). Dawn says (on her own blog): "I wish the YA section of the library could be split in two, with books that address serious issues being put into a separate section for high school students. Why can't there be a "safe" section just for children between the ages of 10 and 14? Parents can't always read every book, after all." Me, I think it's a complicated question, because content ratings for books are such a subjective and variable thing. What's "safe" for one kid might seem edgy for the next. It's not easy. On a related note, Robin LaFevers writes about "some of the delineations in writing YA versus MG versus adult books".

Another controversy has spun up around the lit blogosphere this week. The latest Notes from the Horn Book (a monthly email newsletter from Horn Book Magazine) included an interview with author Richard Peck. Mr. Peck apparently criticized teachers for reading books aloud. The interview has evoked some dissenting opinions from teachers, of course, particularly from Sarah at The Reading Zone and Monica Edinger at Educating Alice. See also Horn Book editor Roger Sutton's take at Read Roger (he says "I think Peck was complaining about classrooms where kids' only exposure to trade books was hearing them read aloud"). But still... it's always something! 

Gail Gauthier linked to an interesting piece in the Denver Post by David Milofsky. The author posits that, as Google and Yahoo start paying publishers to link to news stories, the same might be expected of literary bloggers. A number of prominent bloggers are quoted in the article. I would tend to agree with Gail that if your blog doesn't make money, fair use would probably apply in linking to a news story. Personally, it's not like my blog is a big profit center for me. If I had to pay to link to news stories, well, I just wouldn't link to news stories. Or I'd find some other way to do it, anyway. But it's something to watch.

Quick Hits:

  • This week's Poetry Friday roundup is at Wild Rose Reader. The last Nonfiction Monday roundup was at The Miss Rumphius Effect.
  • Greg Pincus has an inspirational post about community and the power of #kidlitchat (a weekly Twitter chat about children's books and publishing). I'll tell you, he made me want to participate, and I'm so not a "chat" person (the introvert in me can't cope with the swirl of conversation, even when it's online).
  • At Angieville, Angie has a fun post about the appeal of "bad boys" in literature, inspired by a post from Adele at Persnickety Snark. Reading both posts, it's clear to me that in literature and TV, I'm generally in favor of Bad Boys, too (I pick Pacey over Dawson any day, and I am Team Gale all the way).
  • At Bookshelves of Doom, Leila is in a bit of a reading slump, and looking for "something that I'll be able to fall into, that has writing that at the very least won't make me roll my eyes, that has characters I can believe in, a story that I haven't read a million times before (unless the writing and the characters make it work), something that I'll remember for more than an hour after reading." Lots of promising suggestions in the comments.
  • At Parents and Kids Reading Together, Cathy Puett Miller says that "picture books are for everyone".
  • Cheryl Rainfield has pictures of a house and furniture made out of books (well, not really, but they're made to look like they're made out of books, which works, too). Very fun!
  • At the Miss Rumphius Effect, Tricia links to a Fledgling post by Zetta Elliott about authors of color. Tricia says: "In addition to being a mighty strong argument for the recognition of works by authors of color, she includes links to some astounding and disheartening statistics." See also Roger Sutton's response.
  • Speaking of the need for diversity in publishing, Susan has a great quote at Chicken Spaghetti from Amy Bowllan's School Library Journal blog, in a recent column about writers against racism: "Literature helps us understand who we are and to find our place in the world." 
  • Responding to the recent trend of adding horror elements to classic romances (e.g. Pride and Prejudice and Zombies), Becky from Becky's Book Reviews suggests adding romance to some of the classic horror stories (e.g. a love interest for Frankenstein). I like it!
  • At A Year of Reading, Mary Lee and Franki are commemorating the start of the new school year with a series of posts celebrating teachers. I especially liked Day 4, in which Franki reminds people about Mary Lee and Franki's list of Cool Teachers in Children's Literature.
  • Liz Burns from Tea Cozy is one of the winners of the Color Me Brown challenge at Color Online. She links to other winners here
  • Susan Beth Pfeffer unveils the cover of the third Life As We Knew It book, The World We Live In. This is one book for which I don't need to see any reviews. I already want it.  
  • Colleen Mondor wrote a short history of Guys Lit Wire for Crossed Genres magazine.
  • Mary Pearson guest blogged at Tor the other day about everyone's obsession with the future (and specifically talked about how thinking about the future led her to the ideas in The Adoration of Jenna Fox). She also has a smart post at Tor about what YA lit is and isn't (I found that one via Liz B.).
  • Sarah Stevenson chimed in on MotherReader's Kidlitosphere Conference meme at Finding Wonderland. Updated to add that Betsy Bird chimed in from Fuse #8, too (and she hardly ever does memes). And Colleen makes a particularly strong case for writers to attend, at Chasing Ray. Oh, I wish that EVERYONE could come this year. At least Liz B. will be there again this year (here's her meme).
  • And if this isn't enough news for you, Abby (the) Librarian has some other links today.

Wishing you all a weekend of peace. Me, I just got some good news from my brother, which definitely makes the day a lot brighter.


Wednesday Afternoon Visits: September 2

Kidlitosphere_button I did a pretty comprehensive Kidlitosphere round-up on Friday. Since then, however, there have been a slew of interesting posts. Here are a few that I couldn't resist sharing.

Newlogorg200 As the month changes, the Readergirlz divas say goodby to Coe Booth (roundup of August posts here). For September, they will be hosting Kristin Cashore (author of Graceling and Fire, both of which I adored). The theme of the month is Triumph! They'll also have Beth Kephart as author-in-residence this month. You can read more details on the Readergirlz blog. Postergirl Little Willow has just posted a Graceling Roundtable.

I've only recently discovered Ellen Hopkins' blog. She has two recent post of particular interest. She shared a post about "writing on the edge" in young adult fiction, saying "don't dare think most of today's YA readers aren't equipped to deal with books like TRICKS (about teen prostitution). They aren't just reading about these issues. They're living them. Knowing they're not alone is valuable. Knowing there's a way out is invaluable." She continued by writing about "the YA renaissance", and how it did not start with Twilight. She says: "I don't want to sound snippy or envious. I think it's great that a YA author can find the kind of following and crossover appeal that Stephenie Meyer has. But it bothers me that other (and in my opinion, better) YA authors aren't more justly rewarded." She includes good examples.

At The Brown Bookshelf, Varian Johnson links to an Examiner article by Paula Chase-Hyman about "why YA is the new hotness". I agree with Varian's positive take on "Reason #5. YA novels enable their young readers to process problems and situations from a safe distance."

Tricia muses on "half-read books" at The Miss Rumphius Effect, influenced by an essay by Suzanne Munshower in today's Guardian books blog. Someone who normally feels compelled to finish every book, Tricia has had a revelation: "Time is too precious and there many books out there waiting to be read. If a book doesn't work for me (or you) why stick with it?" That's certainly how I feel - if a book puts me to sleep for more than a couple of nights in a row, or if clunkiness in the writing makes me cringe, I will quietly set the book aside, and find something else. How about you all?

Yesterday there was an interesting discussion on a discussion group for KidLit bloggers. Today, Pam Coughlan shares some highlights at ForeWord Magazine's Shelf Space blog. After quoting Laurel Snyder (who started the whole discussion), Pam defines three different types of book buzz. She says: "Our first line of attack is knowing what kind of buzz we’re seeing. Some book coverage is justified, some... not so much. Knowing the difference can allow us to enjoy the ride of literary excitement without being taken for a ride by literary publicists." It's interesting stuff - head on over and comment with your take. And definitely don't miss the last sentence of the post.

Speaking of Pam, at MotherReader she has another reminder about registration fo the Third Annual Kidlitosphere conference. This time, she includes a list of bloggers and authors who will be attending. I challenge you to read the list and NOT want to attend. I'm so looking forward to meeting the people I haven't met before, and seeing friends from the past couple of years. It's going to be great!

Quick hits:

  • Here's more on the new web series on social media and the book industry by Mark Blevis and Greg Pincus (which I mentioned last week).
  • At Misrule, Judith Ridge shares a bit of a rant on expectations of virtue (or not) among children's authors.
  • At Roots in Myth, PJ Hoover writes about what makes for a good audiobook. She has a ton of comments on the post, with pros and cons and specific recommendations for audiobooks.
  • Little Willow has an interesting post at Guys Lit Wire about literary initials. She asks a variety of questions on the subject, and shares responses from a number of kidlitosphere friends.  
  • At Book Aunt, Kate Coombs muses on "the eight deadly words" that turn off readers "I don't care what happens to these people". So true! (And one of those things that will make me give up on a book.)
  • Travis shares breaking sock news at 100 Scope Notes (with an illustration of some of the many sock-dedecked book covers in MG fiction these days).
  • Susan Kusel writes at Booklights in praise of that essential back to school supply: the library card.
  • Roger Sutton has an interesting analysis on the changes in book length for middle grade fiction over the past 30 years.
  • At Reading Rockets, Joanne Meier for first classroom readaloud for the new school year.

I'm going to take a little blog-break over Labor Day weekend. I won't be commenting or twittering much. However, I've left some book reviews scheduled to post. Hope you all have a lovely holiday!


Friday Afternoon Visits: August 28: Cybils, Blog Comments, and Themes in Literature

Kidlitosphere_button My blogging time has been limited for the past couple of weeks, due to a combination of guests, travel, and Internet access woes. Fortunately, I had a few reviews stored up, which kept the blog from going dark. But I've missed out on a lot of activities going on around the Kidlitosphere. Today, I've managed to catch up on the past couple of weeks of kidlit blog news.

Cybils2009-Web-Small The call for judges for this year's Cybils Award process went out earlier this week. Here's the scoop: "If you:

  • blog about some aspect of children's or teen books on at least a somewhat consistent basis;
  • or contribute regularly to a group blog about same;
  • know a thing or two about what kids/teens are reading these days;
  • are planning to be reading obsessively over the next few months anyway

...we may have a spot for you. You start by emailing us at cybils09 (at) gmail (dot) com. It's a group email so that our organizers can get excited when they see the names coming in from prospective volunteers." (Do click through to read the full announcement first.) I'll be continuing as Literacy Evangelist for this year's Cybils, and I know for certain that a result of the process is going to be fabulous lists of books. I hope that many of your will participate. Also, have you seen our gorgeous new logo? It's the work of the multi-talented Sarah Stevenson (aka aquafortis). I love it!

Two of the savviest bloggers I know, Mark Blevis from Just One More Book!! and Greg Pincus from Gotta Book and The Happy Accident, are teaming up on a new project. According to the Just One More Book!! newsletter, they're going to "deliver a series of free webcasts that will give book publishers, publicists, authors, illustrators and enthusiasts social media savvy for outreach and promotion." You can find more information here. Congratulations to Andrea and Mark of JOMB on their third blogging anniversary, too.

Mary Lee and Franki from A Year of Reading have started a new "lifetime of reading gallery". Here's the scoop: "Members of the Kidlitosphere are invited to submit stories from their reading lives. Your submission can be an anecdote from childhood, a recent experience around books or reading, a memory from school (good or bad), a vignette about learning to read, the impact of a particular book--anything about your life as a reader. We are looking for a variety of short pieces (think blog post length) from anyone in the Kidlitosphere, including bloggers, authors, illustrators, readers of blogs, etc. Our gallery is open to everyone who is a blogger, blog reader, author, illustrator, blog reader, blog commenter, etc." [And while you're thinking about reading memories, Charles from online children's bookstore Through the Magic Door is also looking for submissions in that area.]

Pam Coughlan (MotherReader) is guest blogging at ForeWord Magazine's Shelf Space this month. This week she has a new post "about saving time, money, and energy at your library during this difficult economic climate." Dedicated community builder that she is, Pam also wrote a must-read post at MotherReader recently reminding people not to let an addiction to Twitter keep them from taking time to comment on blog posts. She says: I don’t want to come off as angry or peevish, and I hope that those of you who follow me understand that. I do think commenting is important and is something that we are losing in our community to the detriment of all." And she discusses the benefits to the person commenting, in terms of exposure. There is, appropriately, an interesting discussion in the comments, some of which points out ways that Twitter and blog comments can complement each other. Personally, I like Twitter for broadcasting news tidbits, but I find that I prefer my blog or Facebook for back and forth discussion in the comments. It's easier to see the whole thread. But I've found new friends on Twitter, too. It's an interesting balance. But do check out Pam's post, and the comments. See also a getting started guide for Twitter, prepared by Mitali Perkins.

Speaking of people who inspire lots of comments, My Friend Amy has taken on a couple of interesting topics this week. Yesterday, she asked: "what themes draw you in when reading?" Today, she asks "how important are likeable characters?" Both posts have tons of comments. I was particularly interested in the themes question. Here's an abridged version of my response: "My favorite sub-genre is dystopian fiction. I think as a theme I'm drawn to a larger question of identity (as mentioned be Lenore and Alexa). I'm curious about what happens when the traditional constraints of society are removed. How to individuals rise to the challenge? How does society reform? Which values are internal, and which are imposed by society? I'm also drawn to tween books where the characters are just starting to think about growing up, dating, etc. Perhaps this is identity, as framed by separation from the family (just as the dystopia books are identity as framed by separation from society... interesting parallel)."

And still speaking of people who inspire many comments, Shannon Hale published a new installment in her fabulous "How to be a reader" series last week. This one is about book evaluation vs. self-evaluation. Shannon talks specifically about star ratings on reader reviews, and calls the practice into question, saying (among other excellent points) "In my opinion, there are more interesting questions to ask myself after reading a book than what I would rate it... I wonder if book evaluation is trumping self-evaluation. I wonder if we get so caught up in gushing or bashing, shining up those stars or taking them away, that the reading experience is weighed too heavily on the side of the book itself and not enough on the reader." She also includes a quiz for people who review books. Tanita Davis responds at Finding Wonderland. Liz B responds at Tea Cozy, here and here. Like Liz and Tanita, I don't include ratings in my reviews. It just seems arbitrary. I'd rather talk about the book, and what I liked or didn't like, or what I thought was particularly well done. Most of the time, any review from me is an implied "thumbs up" anyway, because I don't tend to spend my time reviewing books that I don't think are worth my reviewing time. Still, there's a lot of great food for thought in Shannon's post, the comments, and Liz and Tanita's responses.

Quick hits:

  • Also from Liz B, a survey about time spent blogging. For me, today, it's going to be something like 8 hours. But that's not typical. Really.
  • Today's Poetry Friday roundup is at Kate Coombs' blog, Book Aunt.
  • Kirby Larson has been hosting a discussion panel on the topic of gender in reading and writing. Here are Part 1 (about the reading histories of the 10 panelists), Part 2 (about "girl books" vs. "boy books"), and Part 3 (books that appeal regardless of gender). (updated to add Part 4)
  • Elaine Magliaro shares an excellent list of links to back to school booklists and other resources at Wild Rose Reader.
  • At Literate Lives, Karen writes about a first day of school author visit from Margaret Peterson Haddix. How great is that for getting kids excited about being back at school?
  • Franki Sibberson shares her reflections, pros and cons, on reading via Kindle. Overall, she sees the Kindle as her primary reading source for the future.
  • Charlotte from Charlotte's Library (with help from various commenters) muses on fantasy books that include girls who like to read.
  • At Confessions of a Bibliovore, Maureen takes on Susan's recent Booklights question about books that you'd like to read again for the first time. Maureen talks about books that she's re-read, and found more the second (or third or tenth) time.
  • Kelly at YAnnabe shares 7 ways to revive your love of reading. She even suggests having a friend or partner read aloud to you, if you need to bring back the fun of reading.
  • Tif from Tif Talks Books writes about books as bridges, saying "I have discovered that books can truly be a bridge . . . a connection . . . something that can help many of us relate despite our differences." 
  • Abby (the) Librarian has more Kidlitosphere links, if you're still hungry for news. So does MotherReader.
  • Last, but not least, don't forget to register for KidLitCon 2009.

I hope to be back this weekend with an installment of my "reviews that made me want the book" feature. That would let me finish cleaning up my Google Reader in quite a satisfactory fashion. And it's an excellent baseball task. Happy reading, all!


Wednesday Afternoon Visits: August 12: From Green Gables to SE Asia, with Adirondack Chairs in between

This week's posts around the Kidlitosphere have been filled with reminders about why I love this community so much. I'll probably be back with more over the weekend, but wanted to share these links with you all now.

Mitali Perkins shares photos from her recent visit to Prince Edward Island, home of Green Gables. She says: "As an oft-displaced child, I borrowed roots from my favorite authors. L.M. Montgomery's novels made Prince Edward Island one of my many homes."

Speaking of lovely places to spend a summer day, check out this post at Cynthia Lord's blog. Her husband John is the  most amazing photographer. I always enjoy his photos, but this one, of two Adirondack chairs facing sunset over a lake ... truly gorgeous. Click through. However your day is going, it will make you feel better. [And to my friend summering in Truro, this one made me think of you.]

If those first two links didn't offer enough travel for you, Colleen Mondor's One Shot Southeast Asia round-up post is now available at Chasing Ray. There are tons of great entries, too many for me to mention here. But I did especially like seeing Liz B feature PaperTigers at Tea Cozy.  

At Wild Rose Reader, Elaine Magliaro announces the August Small Graces auction from Grace Lin. Elaine says: "All the proceeds from the Small Graces auctions will benefit The Foundation for Children's Books, a small non-profit organization in Boston that is making a big difference in the lives of young readers by bringing children's book authors and illustrators into under-served schools in the Greater Boston area for visits and residencies." This month's painting is beautiful and sunny.

Jennie has a new project at Biblio File, a Reading Challenges Clearinghouse. She says: "This blog will post (and link) to all the reading challenges out there for all types of book blogs. The long ones, the short ones, the serious, and the silly." So, if you are hosting or participating in a reading challenge, do let Jennie know. (I personally have enough trouble keeping up with my reading, without adding challenges to the mix, but I know that a lot of people love them).

Angiegirl at Angieville writes about stubborn girls (in literature) and why she likes them. She highlights three of her favorites, and concludes: "In the end, I guess I'm just a ridiculously firm believer in the kind of heroines Robin McKinley (an excellently stubborn girl herself) refers to as "girls who do things.""

Newlogorg200 Someone else who I suspect appreciates stubborn girls (in life and literature) is Tanita Davis (have you read Mare's War?). Tanita has a wonderful guest post at the Readergirlz blog about mothers and daughters. She shares some family memories, and photos, too. Go, read. It's lovely.

Tanita also shares, at Finding Wonderland, an announcement about a call for young adult writing submissions for e-Publishing company Verb Noire. They're looking for: "original works of genre fiction (science fiction/fantasy/mystery/romance) that feature a person of color and/or LGBT as the central character."

Kidlitosphere_button And finally, another must-read post from Pam Coughlan at MotherReader. Pam summarizes her position of several topics currently in discussion around the Kidlitosphere, from review copy envy to the idea of making money from blogs. Not surprisingly, I thought that she was dead on. There's some good discussion in the comments, too. Pam suggests (not for the first time) that we as a community: "spend some time educating ourselves about the issues, discussing the possible implications, and drafting our personal policies." She asks: "What does it mean to you to Blog with Integrity?"

See what I mean? This is such a great community. Hope you found some food for thought, or just some news to make you smile.


Sunday Afternoon Visits: August 9: KidLitCon '09, Liar Cover Revisited, and Books in Space

I've been a bit out of the blogging loop this week, due to the presence of houseguests. But I'm slowly getting myself back to normal, and have some news to share with you from around the Kidlitosphere.

Kidlitosphere_button First and foremost in Kidlitosphere news, Pam Coughlan (MotherReader and Kidlitosphere Central founder) has announced the preliminary agenda for the Third Annual Kidlitosphere Conference (aka KidLitCon). A registration form is now available with full details. If you blog about children's or young adult books, or you're thinking of blogging about children's or young adult books, you should come. If you write or edit children's or young adult books, or you are a teacher, librarian, or literacy advocate, and you are thinking about dipping a toe into the Kidlitosphere, you should come, too. The conference will be held at the Sheraton Crystal City Hotel in Virginia on October 17th. I attended the conference the past two years, and I simply can't recommend it highly enough. It's going to be great!!

LiarThe other big news in the Kidlitosphere this week is that Bloomsbury responded to the huge outcry about the cover of Justine Larbalestier's upcoming young adult novel Liar. The publisher maintains that their original choice to put a white teen on the cover of a book about an African-American teen was "symbolic" (reflecting the character's nature as a liar), rather than a response to perceptions about the market for book covers showing people of color. Regardless, they have decided to change the cover to one more representative of the book, and I think that's great news (in no small part because people will no longer have to conflicted over whether to buy the book or not). I also find the whole thing to be an excellent demonstration of the power of the literary blogosphere. The new cover was first reported in Publisher's Weekly's Children's Bookshelf, and has since been commented upon pretty much everywhere. (See Justine's response here).

Also, if you're thinking of starting a blog (and especially if you are thinking of ways to make money from book blogging), I recommend checking out Liz B's recent piece at A Chair, A Fireplace and A Tea Cozy about the business of publishing and blogs. Specifically, Liz discusses the question of whether or not bloggers could accept advertising from authors or publishers without the integrity (and/or perceived integrity) of their reviews being compromised. Liz's own view on this is pretty clear: "I do not believe that basically becoming an employee/independent contractor of a publisher/publicist (let's be realistic, authors don't have that kind of money) would ultimately allow for a website/blog, in its entirely, to remain objective, critical, and uninfluenced by the publisher." I agree with her.   

Speaking of Liz, kudos to her for having a recent School Library Journal cover story with Carlie Webber, as announced here. It's called When Harry Met Bella: Fanfiction is all the rage. But is it plagiarism? Or the perfect thing to encourage young writers?

In excellent kidlit news, Camille reports at BookMoot that the young adult novel Airborn, by Kenneth Oppel, is currently in orbit around the International Space Station. According to a press release: "astronaut Robert Thirsk, currently aboard the International Space Station with fellow Canadian Julie Payette, has brought with him two books by Canadian authors – Airborn by Kenneth Oppel and Deux pas vers les étoiles by Jean-Rock Gaudreault." Having been saying for years that I think that adults should read children's books, I am thrilled by this high-profile example.

Last week's Poetry Friday roundup was at The Miss Rumphius Effect. Tomorrow's Nonfiction Monday roundup will be at MotherReader (updated to add direct link to the post here).

Also this week, Colleen Mondor is hosting a One-Shot blogging event in celebration of Southeast Asia. She says: "the basic rules are simple - you post at your site on a book either set in SE Asia or written by a SE Asian author and send me the url. I'll post a master list with links and quotes here on Wednesday."

I don't normally highlight blog birthdays in these roundup posts (because I read so many blogs - there are blog anniversaries happening all the time). But I did want to extend special congratulations to Tasha Saecker, who has now been blogging at Kids Lit for SIX YEARS. As Pam said in the comments, that's like being 40 in blog years. Tasha has demonstrated style, integrity, and a passion for children's literature all along the way. If you're thinking of starting a children's book blog, I encourage you to make a study of Kids Lit - Tasha will steer you right. Happy Birthday to Kids Lit.

I'll be back tomorrow with this week's Literacy and Reading News roundup. I'll also have a new post up tomorrow at Booklights.