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Cool Bookmarks!

I received a package in the mail today containing my excellent new "Jen Robinson's Book Page" bookmarks! Ordering them wasn't exactly a major life accomplishment, but they are making me happy. I plan to use them instead of business cards when I go to the BlogHer conference later this month.

If you would like your own stylish "Jen Robinson's Book Page" bookmark, just drop me an email with your mailing address, and I'll be happy to send you one. They look much like the title bar above (with the addition of a link to the site, and a mention of the "Cool Girls").

Kudos to PrintRunner for a nice job! And thanks to Tanya Lee Stone and Patricia Bennett Wilson, both of whom inspired me recently with their nice bookmarks.

TypePad Downtime

TypePad was down for pretty much all of yesterday, and actually lost some data from comments and articles posted yesterday morning. So, my apologies if you tried to comment and couldn't, or commented and don't see your comment on the site (though I was able to resurrect a couple of these this morning). Things seem to be back to normal today.

I learned yesterday that I do suffer from a bit of a blog addiction. I kept wanting to go post, or respond to comments, or look at my web statistics, and was stymied by technical difficulties. Very frustrating! At least it didn't happen during the 48 Hour Book Challenge last month...

Sunday Afternoon Visits: July 9th

I'm finally getting caught back up on the blogs are my vacation. Here are a few things that caught my eye, a veritable feast of links for you:

  • In honor of the release of the second Pirates of the Caribbean movie, I recommend two posts about pirates: A Readable Feast covers pirate books and pirate-related activities, including delicious-looking pirate food. A Chair, A Fireplace, and a Tea Cozy lists several young adult titles about pirates (including Airborn, for which I'll be posting a review shortly). Thanks to Liz B. for the link to the Readable Feast post.
  • Kelly from Big A little a is seeking submissions for the next Carnival of Children's Literature, to be published on July 23rd. Get your submission in by July 15th to be included. And if you feel list hosting for August, visit Here in the Bonny Glen. I'm tempted, but my travel schedule is a bit uncertain for mid to late August. Sigh! Eventually things will slow down.
  • This is a bit belated, but A Fuse #8 Production published a blog reader selected list of the Top 25 American Children's Books Written in the Last 25 Years. The winners: for picture books, Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus, and for fiction, Ramona Quimby, Age 8.
  • My belated thanks, also, to Melissa Wiley at the lovely Here in the Bonny Glen for listing me among her Top 12 Referrers from Recent Months. And good luck to Lissa on her family's big move to Southern CA.
  • Chris Barton has a new historical book list, this one focused on the time period from 1900 to 1950. Prohibition and the great depression are included.
  • If you're into this sort of thing, Leila at bookshelves of doom links to a quiz put together by E. Lockhart, "What teen angst novel are you?" I got Looking for Alaska, by John Green, which is the same result that E. Lockhart herself got. Gail Gauthier was disappointed to find herself Catcher in the Rye.
  • Leila also brought to light at bookshelves of doom the news the the Wilson School District in downtown L.A. is taking censorship to new levels. "Books now cannot depict drinking alcohol, smoking, drugs, sex, including "negative sexuality," implied or explicit nudity, cursing, violent crime or weapons, gambling, foul humor and "dark content." White-out will be used in some cases to remove offensive words. I particularly enjoyed Tadmack's comments on this topic at Finding Wonderland. ("Equally crucial is the realization that other people live in other ways, and that if a reader chooses to live their life differently when they grow up, it's possible. That's truth. How can anyone honestly object to that?")
  • Little Willow has various new book lists and interviews. Based on my recent positive experience with A Bad Boy Can Be Good for a Girl (review forthcoming), I was especially interested in her list of Verse Novels.
  • The cool girls have a new fan. See Alison Tuck's Women and Children First blog for more details. The site is "A main course of psychology regarding women, children and adolescents, with generous side orders of pop culture and feminism." I love that the cool girls fit in with this lofty mission!
  • As already announced on lots of blogs, Tamar by Mal Peet won the Carnegie Medal (the U.K. children's book prize, similar to the Newbery award).
  • MotherReader laments the "muffin madness" by which Betty Crocker now sells muffin mix that only makes five muffins, instead of the traditional six. Not book related, but if you a platform (like a blog) you might as well use it to vent about the things that drive you crazy. (Don't get me started on American Airlines...).
  • Congratulations to Michele at Scholar's Blog on her one-year blog anniversary.
  • Becky at Farm School has a post about The Dangerous Book for Boys (which I mentioned earlier), and other, similar books. She can relate well to these sorts of books, because, she says, "my kids tend to go through their days fully armed (pockets full of slingshots, jackknives, cap pistols, and lengths of rope, the latter of which came in surprisingly handy the other week when we had to move a neighbor's sheep) and whose idea of fun is to leap off bale stacks and on and off a moving horse."
  • Rick Riordan blogs about his Sea of Monsters tour in England. I'm listening to Sea of Monsters on MP3 these days, but it's been too hot to go walking this weekend, so I'm stalled at the entrance to the Sea of Monsters itself.
  • The film rights for Scott Westerfeld's Uglies trilogy have been purchased by 20th Century Fox. Here's the coolest part of the story: "The (husband and wife) producers were plugged into the tale by their daughter, who read the book in school." Isn't that great?
  • Illustrator Don Tate has a new bookmarks blog, where he's doing to save links to articles that he wants to read sometime. Also a must-read is Don's post about his library visit at a jail (with 12 to 17 year olds).
  • I got a nice little hat tip on Alan Silberberg's blog a while back, and just came across it today. He called me a "kid-lit lioness". I'm not sure what that means, exactly, but I thought it was fun anyway.
  • Mary Pearson recently published her list of 60 strong real-world women, which she started after reading the Cool Girls list. This list is simply must-reading - inspirational for girls and women alike. 
  • Carrie at Mommy Brain has a wonderful post about the love of books, and the first time her daughter truly found a book to be the gateway to a new world. Way to go, Carrie!
  • And, apropos of nothing, I keep thinking about how I can't wait until the sequel to Stephenie Meyer's young adult novel Twilight, New Moon is published.

It's great to be back in the kidlitosphere! Hope that you all had a wonderful weekend.

Comments Working Now

If you submitted comments on my blog in the past couple of weeks, and noticed that they didn't show up on the blog, my apologies. I forgot that I had held comments for approval while I was on vacation, after getting a bunch of junk trackbacks right before I left. Anyway, the submitted comments should all be posted now, and new comments should post normally. Sorry about any confusion!!

Sunday Afternoon Visits

I am once again out visiting around the blogs on a Sunday afternoon. Here are some things that especially caught my eye from the past few days:

  • Susan at Chicken Spaghetti links to the new First Book Blog. I've written about First Book before, but hadn't heard about their new blog. First Book is a national organization that collects books and distributes them to underprivileged children. To date, First Book has distributed more than 43 million books to kids! On Friday, First Book celebrated its 14th birthday. What I like about the blog is that the enthusiasm of the people who work for First Book really shines through. They also have several video interviews with children's book authors and illustrators. I highly, highly recommend visiting the First Book blog, or finding a way to help them to put more books in the hands of children.
  • Little Willow has another booklist this week, this one on Young Adult Fantasy titles. I don't know how she keeps coming up with such great lists, but fantasy lovers of all ages should definitely check this one out. She also has some thoughts on the many sub-genres of fantasies. I've noticed for myself that I like best fantasies that start out (and sometimes remain) in our ordinary world, and then either have a doorway that people go through, or have an overlapping world of magic, or something like that. I find it easier to get lost in books like this than in what Little Willow calls "standard fantasy novels" that are set in some unspecified place and time. Finally, Little Willow also has a new booklist on Summer Reads. I was happy to see The Penderwicks on this list - what a wonderful summer story.
  • Wendy Betts of Blog from the Windowsill has published a new issue of her electronic publication Notes from the Windowsill. How can I resist this tagline: "celebrating children's books loved by adult readers"? Wendy reviews some classic reprints, several new books, and several that are new to paperback. As I did, she recommends Dana Reinhardt's A Brief Chapter in My Impossible Life (which I reviewed here). She also likes Scott Westerfeld's So Yesterday, which I read recently, but didn't review (I was a bit more lukewarm on this one, though I have liked other Westerfeld books).
  • MotherReader has a Louie-themed list of children's picture books. You'll have to go read the whole post on her site to understand it. I have to tell you that I think this woman should be a writer. She can write about anything, and I find it funny. Here's an example: "it is one of my favorite words to use — but I digress (I like digress too)." She said, digressing. I can't explain it, but I think it's off-handedly hilarious.
  • The Disco Mermaids unravel their first set of clues to The dePaola Code, deciphered from looking at the cover of Tomie's favorite of his books: Nana Upstairs & Nana Downstairs. Well worth a visit!
  • Camille from Book Moot got to hear Rick Riordan speak recently, and pronounces him "a true "gentleman"." She also links to Rick's report from this week's Book Expo America, which is pretty funny. Take-home message from Rick's report: "if Dave Barry asks you to donate a vital organ for a worthy cause, say no." Now there's advice that would be difficult to live without, don't you think? Camille also reviews Alice Alone by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor, and is pleased to report that her family has been unharmed so far by having this frequent censor target in the house.
  • Becky from Farm School has a fun post on books about the locations of children's books. That is, books about the real-life places that lie behind famous, and not-so-famous, children's books. For instance, did you know that there's a children's book walking tour guide to New York City? Becky has the links.
  • PJ Librarian strongly recommends library summer reading programs. What's not to like, I say, in programs that encourage kids to keep reading over the summer. The one at my local library is quite popular.

Thanks for visiting with me on this Sunday afternoon! I'll be in touch.

BlogHer Conference

I learned from Susan at Chicken Spaghetti about a blogging conference for women that takes place right in my own backyard. BlogHer 2006, the second annual BlogHer conference, will be held in San Jose, CA on July 28th and 29th. As someone who has started blogging fairly recently, about a topic that's always been important to me, I found the conference theme of "how are your blogs changing your world?" particularly resonant.

According to the conference website: "Day One is a day of hands-on instruction on a variety of topics, most technically-focused... Day Two focuses on community, conversation and the culture of blogging. Day Two also includes our Room of Your Own sessions. Room of Your Own sessions are sessions that were created, staffed and proposed by BlogHer Conference attendees."

Organizers are expecting approximately 350 attendees each day, and Day One is already sold out (though they may be in the process of adding more seats). I signed up for Day Two (and the Day One cocktail party). If any of my blogging friends decides to attend the conference, please get in touch with me. It would be great to meet face to face! I believe that men are welcome to attend the conference, but that last year they represented a distinct minority.

Thank you again to Susan for bringing this conference to my attention.

Congratulations are in Order

Three of my fellow kid lit bloggers are due for congratulations today.

  • Tasha Saecker, the creator of the wonderful Kids Lit blog, has just accepted a new position as the next director of the Menasha Public Library in Wisconsin. The Appleton Post-Crescent news article about her appointment, while not directly mentioning Kids Lit, does feature this quote: "She's a high-energy person with very good technical skills," said James Englebert, chairman of the library director search committee. "She's been on the cutting edge of technology as it pertains to libraries." You can read Tasha's thoughts about her new position here. I learned about this from A Fuse #8 Production. Congratulations, Tasha, on your new job!! I'm sure that they made an excellent choice.
  • Melissa Wiley at Here in the Bonny Glen made this announcement today: "Starting in the next few weeks, I will actually be getting paid to blog, which is both very nice and hard to believe." Melissa will be blogging about homeschooling and special needs children for a new set of blogs at ClubMom.com. You can read more about it here. I'm just so impressed! How cool is it to be paid for blogging? Congratulations, Melissa! Thanks for being such an inspiration to other bloggers.
  • And finally, Chris Barton announced yesterday that his seven-year-old son for the first time has declared a love for history. Chris loves history himself, so this is both an achievement and a validation. Congratulations, Chris!

If anyone else has occasion for congratulations, do drop me a line! Cheers!

New Blog on the Block

I learned from Kelly at Big A little a (who in turned learned from Tasha at Kids Lit) about a new children's book blog. It's called Outside of a Cat, and was created by Kurtis Scaletta. I like this blog already! Kurtis has in-depth reviews of several of my favorite books (Ender's Game, Pinballs, Charlotte's Web, Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH). You should definitely check it out!

Welcome, Kurtis!

Miscellaneous Items of Interest

I wasn't traveling this week, but I still didn't manage to keep up with what was going on out there in the blogs. Maybe I've become too ambitious, and I try to visit too many blogs. Of course, having a day job that's completely unrelated to children's books doesn't help. Anyway, here are a few things from the blogs that have caught my eye this week:

  • A Fuse #8 Production (which seems to have something interesting to say every single day) has a hilarious response from author Mo Willems to his inclusion in Fuse's "Hot Men of Children's Literature" list. I like his closing "Yours tepidly". You'll have to go read the whole letter yourselves. Kelly at Big A little a called this post "the best thing you (will) read all day."
  • Also on A Fuse #8 Production, you'll find How to Create the Perfect Charlie and the Chocolate Factory movie. As long as she kept Gene Wilder as Willy Wonka (which she did), I'm all in favor.
  • Kelly at Big A little a links to an article in the Independent, in which Jacqueline Wilson, the U.K. Children's Laureate, urges parents to continue reading to their children until their children are 12 years old. According to the Independent article, by Sarah Cassidy, "Research revealed that fewer than a quarter of children over the age of seven have a regular storytime at home. Only 3 per cent of 12-year-olds are read to, the research, commissioned by Scholastic Book Clubs and Fairs, found." Isn't that sad? You can find the whole article here. I think that if parents can find the time to read more with their children, even after they are old enough to read themselves, everyone will benefit.   
  • And also on the subject of what parents can do to help with their children's literacy, Camille at Book Moot recommends Raising A Child Who Is Ready To Learn (My Shining Star), by Rosemary Wells (who is a strong literacy advocate). Camille says "This little book is going to be my gift to new parents along with Goodnight Moon and a Mother Goose book." Sounds like a great idea to me!
  • Kids Lit reports that Per Nilsson's You & You & You won the L. A. Times Book Prize for young adult fiction. I haven't read it, so I can't comment further.
  • Read Alert has launched a new website "for young people about books."
  • Michele at Scholar's Blog has an interesting post about what makes a book series epic, and whether or not the Harry Potter books qualify for this distinction. Sadly, I think that answer may rest on whether or not Harry lives happily ever after (or lives at all), at the end of book 7. Personally, I'm torn between my love of the characters, and wanting them to be happy, and my sense of drama, and what makes a great story.
  • Cynthia Leitich Smith writes about a new literary prize for children's books: the Lacapa Spirit Prize, in memory of Michael Lacapa. "The Lacapa Spirit Prize will be given annually to the best illustrated children's book that focuses on the spirit of the peoples, culture and natural landscape of the Southwest. Books published in the two years prior to the award are eligible for consideration." You can find more details at Cynsations.
  • I enjoyed this post at Gail Gauthier's blog, Original Content, about a school visit that she made to an elementary school in Massachusetts (perhaps this caught my eye because I went to elementary school in Massachusetts). She was actually brave enough to have lunch in the school cafeteria, and lived to tell about it.
  • Illustrator Don Tate has a funny vertical comic strip on his blog showing what a book signing can be like for the signer. He calls this post "staying humble."
  • The Library Lady has a brief rant about censorship that I agreed with. As she says "You have the personal power to censor what is read and watched in your home", but not in other people's homes. Or at least, that's how it should be!
  • Sherry at Semicolon posted about living in children's books, in response to my suggested topics from a couple of weeks ago (which I had expanded from an original idea on Blog from the Windowsill). Sherry got lots of good feedback to the questions in her comments! I also had just a response on my blog to this question from my wonderful niece.
  • Although it's not a blog, I simply must mention the nice plug that author Chris Abouzeid made for my blog on the Anatopsis website. I reviewed Anatopsis here
  • Finally, I've added a bunch of new blog links. Check out the right-hand sidebar, and scroll down. I have a new category of parenting and homeschool blogs that I visit. And yes, it's a fine line in some cases as to whether a blog is a children's book blog or a homeschool / parenting blog. But I did my best!

That's all for now. I'm off to watch the latest Pride & Prejudice movie, which I have been dying to see. Enjoy the rest of the weekend!

Growing Bookworms Website

As regular visitors to this site can probably infer, I love blogging about books and literacy. In just over four months, I've made about 165 posts (an average of 1.3 posts per day). I enjoy the ease of posting, and the ease of browsing other blogs to read recent posts.

What I find frustrating about the blog format, however, is the difficulty of finding past articles that I've written, especially book reviews. Therefore, I've decided to add a companion website to this blog. You can find it at www.GrowingBookworms.com. Of course you'll still be able to find new posts on my blog, Jen Robinson's Book Page.

At my Growing Bookworms site I've included lists of books that I've read recently, want to read, and recommend (categorized according to whether they are kids books or books intended for adults). I've also included an Index of Book Reviews, with links back to the original reviews on my blog. I certainly expect this index to grow.

Over time, I also expect to fill out my lists of recommended books in more detail (they tend to include only recent reads right now), and to include other resources helpful for growing and sustaining bookworms of all ages. Of course I'll have a special emphasis on resources for raising children who love books, and on children's books that adults will enjoy, because those are my strongest interests. Readers of adult mysteries and thrillers will also find recommendations. Because, to paraphrase the author P. B. Kerr, 'mysteries and thrillers are children's books for adults anyway'.

If you have some time, please visit my new site and tell me what you think. Thanks! Have a great week!

Like Fibs, I'm Famous, Too

Last Friday I wrote a post called Fibs are Famous, congratulating Gregory K. for the tremendous success of his new poetry form, the Fib. Today I learned, through her kind email, that Melissa McNamara quoted my post in her weekly Blogophile column about must-read blogs on CBSNews.com. In one section of the column, Melissa re-caps the Fib phenomenon, closing the section with this quote from me: "I just think that it's amazing that a blogger can have a neat idea, see it catch on across the blog universe, and end up in the mainstream media. Very, very cool!

I continue to enjoy watching the spread of the Fib phenomenon, secure in the knowledge that I was an "early adopter" to the trend. Even apart from the reference to myself, I enjoyed the rest of Melissa's column, too. The section on "How Not to Get a Job" is particularly entertaining.

Happy Blogging, All! 

Items of Interest

Yet again catching up on the blog news after a trip (regular readers may notice a pattern here), a few items especially caught my eye:

  • Two of the blogs that I regularly visit both reviewed a picture book that I love, Annette Simon's Mocking Birdies. You can find positive reviews at A Fuse #8 Production and Book Moot.
  • Book Moot also has a neat list of Titanic-related books, in honor of the April 14th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic.
  • A Fuse #8 Production also carries "a fabulous rant" by J. K. Rowling "against our thin-girl-obsessed culture." My favorite part is where J. K. R. (she has the same initials as me) bumps into a woman she hasn't seen in three years, and the woman comments not on J. K.'s new baby, or on the publication of her sixth hugely best-selling novel, but on the fact that she's lost weight.
  • Both A Fuse #8 Production and Big A little a mention the movie version of Cornelia Funke's The Thief Lord, recently released to DVD. Like Kelly, I didn't find that The Thief Lord was my favorite Funke book (I LOVE Inkspell), but I do think that it should be a good movie.
  • Read Roger links to an article about Easter Crime, a Norwegian annual tradition in which people read mysteries and thrillers during the week leading up to Easter. There seems to be some sort of historical precedent to this, stemming from Vikings returning from raids to the British Isles, and settling down to tell tales of murder and mayhem. Since I love mysteries, I thought that this was a cool tradition.
  • Kids Lit links to a Philadelphia Inquirer article by Kristen A. Graham and Dan Hardy about a gender gap in reading. The article notes that "In the region and across the country, boys lag behind girls in nearly every educational benchmark." It discusses the gap in more detail, and explores various potential explanations for it.
  • Mother Reader has a funny post about cutting corners, in life and in books.
  • You can find some other pictures of funny signs on the blog Random Notions and Stories of Teaching. (I linked to a site last week that featured funny signs). The funniest one from Random Notions, to me, was this one
  • The Magic of Books has a lovely post suggesting a vacation idea: that of buying location-specific children's books whenever you go somewhere. I love this idea, and plan to take it up immediately. Well, I've always bought children's books when I go to England, but I hadn't thought of local books from places in the U.S.

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