Children's Literature

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  • Review of At Home in Her Tomb

    The Horn Book
    Joanna Rudge Long
    20 Aug 2014 | 8:00 am
    At Home in Her Tomb: Lady Dai and the Ancient Chinese Treasures of Mawangdui by Christine Liu-Perkins; 
illus. by Sarah S. Brannen Intermediate, Middle School    Charlesbridge    80 pp. 4/14    978-1-58089-370-1    $19.95 e-book ed.  978-1-60734-615-9    $9.99 Late in 1971, workers digging an air-raid shelter in Hunan Province found three tombs of a noble family from early in the Han dynasty. The oldest tomb, 
of the Marquis of Dai (d. 186 BCE), was plundered long ago. His son’s 
(d. 168 BCE) retained important artifacts, though it had been damaged during construction…
  • Blast from the Past: Last Year's KidLitCon

    Finding Wonderland: The WritingYA Weblog
    Sarah Stevenson
    18 Aug 2014 | 3:37 pm
    That's right--it's time for our weekly plug for this year's KidLitCon! (Are you going? Are you going? Are you going??? We are!!) This time, though, I thought I'd entice you by re-posting my recap of last year's conference in Austin, which was, as always, an amazing event. Here are a few photos and impressions, plus lots and lots about why this is one of my favorite kidlit events EVAR....I did want to post some pictures from KidLitCon Austin this weekend while I'm still riding high on the fabulousness of having gotten together with my blogging kindred spirits to compare notes on two of our…
  • Sometimes, reading the book just isn’t enough – LeakyCon Lit

    The Horn Book
    Sara Danver
    20 Aug 2014 | 1:19 pm
    Well, after the glorious, gleeful exhaustion brought on by the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, your intrepid intern still had a whole conference to attend. For those of you who haven’t heard of LeakyCon, it originally started as a Harry Potter–themed fan conference in 2009, but has since morphed into an all-out geek-fest in which fan communities from all kinds of media platforms come together to celebrate the power of story and fandom. In fact, the conference has been renamed and will be known as GeekyCon from here on — opening up to the wide, wide world of geekdom! It will not…
  • 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #393: Featuring Christopher Weyant

    Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast
    16 Aug 2014 | 11:01 pm
      Over at BookPage, I’ve written a review of Anna Kang’s You Are (Not) Small (Two Lions, August 2014), illustrated by her husband, Christopher Weyant. So, I’m sending you over there today to read about it, but I’ve got a bit art here at 7-Imp today to go with it. The review is here. Enjoy the art …     YOU ARE (NOT) SMALL. Text copyright © 2014 by Anna Kang. Illustrations © 2014 by Christopher Weyant. Illustrations used by permission of the publisher, Two Lions, New York.   Note for any new readers: 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks is a weekly meeting…
  • TURNING PAGES: CHARM & STRANGE by Stephanie Kuehn

    Finding Wonderland: The WritingYA Weblog
    19 Aug 2014 | 3:57 am
    Got a long stretch of quiet time available? This isn't a read-at-the-crowded-airport-layover novel, necessarily, but I found it absolutely arresting over the one-sitting course of a quiet morning. I grabbed this book because this author's debut novel is winner of the 2014 William C. Morris Award, was longlisted for the 2014 CILIP Carnegie Medal and was a finalist for the California Book Award, and I've read three starred reviews already for her second book, which has only been out since June. I thought it was well past time for me to read some Stephanie Kuehn (pronounced "keen"). NB:This is,…
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    The Horn Book

  • Sometimes, reading the book just isn’t enough – LeakyCon Lit

    Sara Danver
    20 Aug 2014 | 1:19 pm
    Well, after the glorious, gleeful exhaustion brought on by the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, your intrepid intern still had a whole conference to attend. For those of you who haven’t heard of LeakyCon, it originally started as a Harry Potter–themed fan conference in 2009, but has since morphed into an all-out geek-fest in which fan communities from all kinds of media platforms come together to celebrate the power of story and fandom. In fact, the conference has been renamed and will be known as GeekyCon from here on — opening up to the wide, wide world of geekdom! It will not…
  • Review of At Home in Her Tomb

    Joanna Rudge Long
    20 Aug 2014 | 8:00 am
    At Home in Her Tomb: Lady Dai and the Ancient Chinese Treasures of Mawangdui by Christine Liu-Perkins; 
illus. by Sarah S. Brannen Intermediate, Middle School    Charlesbridge    80 pp. 4/14    978-1-58089-370-1    $19.95 e-book ed.  978-1-60734-615-9    $9.99 Late in 1971, workers digging an air-raid shelter in Hunan Province found three tombs of a noble family from early in the Han dynasty. The oldest tomb, 
of the Marquis of Dai (d. 186 BCE), was plundered long ago. His son’s 
(d. 168 BCE) retained important artifacts, though it had been damaged during construction…
  • Matchy-matchy

    Katie Bircher
    19 Aug 2014 | 9:12 am
    When you realize your reading material coordinates with your desktop wallpaper, mug, and water glass, it may be time to admit you have a control-freakiness problem. And by “you,” I mean me. The post Matchy-matchy appeared first on The Horn Book.
  • Review of Alvin Ho: Allergic to the Great Wall, the Forbidden Palace, 
and Other Tourist Attractions

    Jennifer M. Brabander
    19 Aug 2014 | 8:04 am
    Alvin Ho: Allergic to the Great Wall, the Forbidden Palace, and Other Tourist Attractions by Lenore Look; illus. by LeUyen Pham Primary, Intermediate    Schwartz & Wade/Random    163 pp. 8/14    978-0-385-36972-5    $15.99 Library ed.  978-0-385-36973-2    $18.99    g e-book ed.  978-0-449-81986-9    $7.99 Alvin Ho, who’s afraid even when safe at home, faces previously unknown fears when his family travels to China to introduce his new baby sister to relatives. Forget fear of flying (“small enclosed spaces filled with strangers, hurtling across the sky at 600…
  • Magic School

    Roger Sutton
    19 Aug 2014 | 7:27 am
    Continuing my adventures in books for boys grown big, I’m reading Lev Grossman’s The Magicians, which I somehow missed when it came out and only noticed on the recent publication of a second sequel. It’s a story about a nice boy who thinks he’s on the way to Princeton but winds up in magic school instead, but I’m guessing everyone already knows that but me. I don’t know if it’s exactly Harry Potter for grownups but it’s certainly Harry Potter for me–Grossman gives his characters and magic AND readers a lot more breathing room than does…
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    Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast

  • 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #393: Featuring Christopher Weyant

    16 Aug 2014 | 11:01 pm
      Over at BookPage, I’ve written a review of Anna Kang’s You Are (Not) Small (Two Lions, August 2014), illustrated by her husband, Christopher Weyant. So, I’m sending you over there today to read about it, but I’ve got a bit art here at 7-Imp today to go with it. The review is here. Enjoy the art …     YOU ARE (NOT) SMALL. Text copyright © 2014 by Anna Kang. Illustrations © 2014 by Christopher Weyant. Illustrations used by permission of the publisher, Two Lions, New York.   Note for any new readers: 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks is a weekly meeting…
  • What I’m Doing at Kirkus This Week,Plus What I Did Last Week,Featuring Leo & Diane Dillon and Liniers

    14 Aug 2014 | 11:01 pm
      Today over at Kirkus, I write about a new collaboration from J. Patrick Lewis and Gary Kelley, Harlem Hellfighters. That is here. Last week, I chatted (here) with Diane Dillon, and I also wrote (here) about Liniers’ What There Is Before There Is Anything There (Groundwood, September 2014). Today I have art from that book (pictured right), as well as the last book Diane and Leo Dillon did together (pictured above), If Kids Ran the World (Blue Sky Press/Scholastic, August 2014). Enjoy …   Art from What There IsBefore There Is Anything There   (Click either image to…
  • Seven Questions Over Breakfast with Birgitta Sif

    13 Aug 2014 | 11:01 pm
    Yesterday I did a guest blog post at BookPage, talking about my favorite new illustrators. That is, those illustrators who have come to prominence in the past couple of years. I snuck author-illustrator Birgitta Sif onto my list, and today she visits for breakfast. Here’s what I wrote at BookPage: “Hailing from Iceland (but currently living in Sweden) is author-illustrator Birgitta Sif. Her debut, Oliver (2012), is the picture book I’d point to that most accurately gets what it is to be an introvert. And Frances Dean Who Loved to Dance and Dance, coming at the end of August,…
  • So hard to narrow …

    13 Aug 2014 | 11:45 am
      I’m guest-blogging over at BookPage today, who asked me about my favorite new illustrators. Needless to say, I loved this challenge. It’s here. Thanks to BookPage for having me!
  • Nervous Children and Magic Pencils Before Breakfast

    12 Aug 2014 | 7:37 am
    “‘No!’ said Joe.”– Spread from Anthony Browne’s What If …?(Click to enlarge)   Over at BookPage, I’ve got a review of Anthony Browne’s What If …?, published by Candlewick this month. This was evidently first published last year but sees its U.S. release this year. That is here, and I’m following up with a bit of art from the book today at 7-Imp. I’ve also got a spread from Browne’s The Little Bear Book, which was originally published in 1988 but re-released by Candlewick this year. Enjoy …   Art from…
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    Finding Wonderland: The WritingYA Weblog

  • TURNING PAGES: CHARM & STRANGE by Stephanie Kuehn

    19 Aug 2014 | 3:57 am
    Got a long stretch of quiet time available? This isn't a read-at-the-crowded-airport-layover novel, necessarily, but I found it absolutely arresting over the one-sitting course of a quiet morning. I grabbed this book because this author's debut novel is winner of the 2014 William C. Morris Award, was longlisted for the 2014 CILIP Carnegie Medal and was a finalist for the California Book Award, and I've read three starred reviews already for her second book, which has only been out since June. I thought it was well past time for me to read some Stephanie Kuehn (pronounced "keen"). NB:This is,…
  • Blast from the Past: Last Year's KidLitCon

    Sarah Stevenson
    18 Aug 2014 | 3:37 pm
    That's right--it's time for our weekly plug for this year's KidLitCon! (Are you going? Are you going? Are you going??? We are!!) This time, though, I thought I'd entice you by re-posting my recap of last year's conference in Austin, which was, as always, an amazing event. Here are a few photos and impressions, plus lots and lots about why this is one of my favorite kidlit events EVAR....I did want to post some pictures from KidLitCon Austin this weekend while I'm still riding high on the fabulousness of having gotten together with my blogging kindred spirits to compare notes on two of our…

    15 Aug 2014 | 1:48 am
    Novels dealing with death in young adult literature aren't exactly new - we're currently living in The Summer of the Cancer Novel, hello - but what's always new is every young person's - really, every person's - way of dealing with death - dealing with loss, dealing with grief. Some choose to go on and have super relationships in the face of death -- and other people just... choose, as their means of "dealing," not to deal with it at all. Kate Bassett's debut novel with the clever, origami-wordy cover, explores what happens while dealing, and shows readers one girl's way of finding a path out…
  • Drrrummm Rolllll.....

    Sarah Stevenson
    14 Aug 2014 | 2:58 pm
    Just you wait until tomorrow.I could not be more excited that the Cybils Awards are launching a BRAND-NEW-SUPER-DUPER-AWESOME website!I helped out with the redesign, but most of the credit for the heavy lifting goes to Sheila of Wands and Worlds (who is the Cybils tech guru) and Jen Robinson, who is all-around talented and awesome. There are so many great new features on the new site, including a mobile-friendly design, Twitter feed in the sidebar, popup finalist lists by year and category, and tons of info for bloggers, authors, and publishers. Oh, and it's on Wordpress now. It's going to be…
  • Congratulations, Betsy & Jules!

    12 Aug 2014 | 3:19 pm
    From Booklist, who knows good literature, a star for WILD THINGS: ACTS OF MISCHIEF IN CHILDREN'S LITERATURE. Congratulations, you guys! May this be the first of many accolades. Haven't got your copy yet? For a most EXCELLENT review from Kelly, pop over to Writing & Ruminating. This work is copyrighted material. All opinions are those of the writer, unless otherwise indicated. All book reviews are UNSOLICITED, and no money has exchanged hands, unless otherwise indicated. Please contact the weblog owner for further details.
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    A Chair, A Fireplace, & A Tea Cozy

  • Reunion - Saint John Vianney High School Class of 1984

    Liz B
    20 Aug 2014 | 1:00 am
    So, this past weekend I went to my 30th High School Reunion.I KNOW.Also, Hallmark and Lifetime Channels lied -- no grand romances begun, and no murders.Here are some photos:Included in that are both my high school graduation photo, as well as photo of me from fifth grade.I KNOW.It was fun seeing old friends again. Especially since the last time I saw many of them was at graduation from high school.I am now at an intense level of nostalgia -- right now I'm listening to songs from the 70s. Which is before I graduated high school, yes, but was the soundtrack to my life for my first fourteen…
  • Review: Amity

    Liz B
    19 Aug 2014 | 1:00 am
    Amity by Micol Ostow. Egmont USA. Reviewed from ARC; publication date August 2014. My Teaser from April.The Plot: Two families, years apart, move into the same house.A house called Amity. A house in the middle of nowhere. A house with secrets, dark and deadly.The Good: Amity is about a haunted house; a house that is both haunted and that haunts its unfortunate inhabitants. It is told by two seventeen year olds, Connor and Gwen. Both have just moved into a new house. It is the same house, ten years apart. And both see what those around them cannot, or will not: that…
  • Review: Ketchup Clouds

    Liz B
    14 Aug 2014 | 1:00 am
    Ketchup Clouds by Annabel Pitcher. Little Brown. 2013. Reviewed from ARC. (Note: the paperback is coming out in Fall 2014, and will be renamed Yours Truly; the book will also have a new tagline, see the second image.)The Plot: Zoe is writing letters, letters to America, to a man on death row.She is writing him, because "I know what it's like. Mine wasn't a woman. Mine was a boy. And I killed him three months ago exactly."No one knows. So Zoe is at home, going through the motions of her life, being the daughter her parents expect, the older sister her younger sisters expect, the person…
  • Review: United We Spy

    Liz B
    12 Aug 2014 | 1:00 am
    United We Spy by Ally Carter. Final book in The Gallagher Girls series (and oh, how it pains me to say that.) Disney Hyperion. 2013. Personal copy.Previously, in The Gallagher Girls:In I’d Tell You I Love You, But Then I’d Have To Kill You, Cammie Morgan had to balance boyfriend and school. Not too simple when you're at the local snooty private boarding school and he's a townie; when your mom is the headmistress; and, oh, yes, when the Gallagher Academy for Exceptional Young Women is actually a school for super spies.Cross My Heart and Hope to Spy introduced a new layer to Cammie’s…
  • Over at SLJ: The Story Behind Addison Stone

    Liz B
    6 Aug 2014 | 1:00 am
    Adele Griffin's newest book is The Unfinished Life of Addison Stone (Soho Press, 2014).I had the privilege of interviewing Griffin, and writing up a little something about the book and how it was created, for School Library Journal.You can go read my article at The Story Behind Adele Griffin's Hybrid Novel, 'The Unfinished Life of Addison Stone'.I promise to write up more of my thoughts on Addison Stone here -- the short version? Loved it. This is the type of creative, inventive story telling I love, and Addison herself is a fascinating young women. Love her or hate her, you'll remember…
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    educating alice

  • BBC Television Series of Susanna Clarke’s Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell

    19 Aug 2014 | 2:47 am
    I was a huge fan of Susanna Clarke’s Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norell and have been keeping an eye out on the progress of the forthcoming BBC seven-episode series.  I found this article about the filming with some images, one of which is below. There’s also  a facebook page featuring more images and stuff from the series filming.  Evidently the filming is done and they are into post-production. Bertie Carvel plays Jonathan Strange and Eddie Marsan plays Mr. Norrell.
  • Coming Soon: Katherine Coville’s The Cottage in the Woods

    18 Aug 2014 | 3:25 am
    I love fairy tale reworkings. At the same time their popularity of late has resulted in a lot of mediocrity and so when I come across something new I’m both excited and wary. Is it going to be a goofy-movie-Shrek-imitating-like thing or more in the vein of Michael Buckley’s Fairy Tale DetectivesChristopher Healy’s Hero’s Guides, or Adam Gidwitz’s Grimm series?  And if YA dark is it going to be a lame bodice-ripper or something with heft, like Tom McNeal’s Far Far Away? And so seeing a  description of Katherine Coville’s debut novel The…
  • Learning About Africa: The Realness of Ebola in Sierra Leone

    17 Aug 2014 | 1:46 am
    This blog is a platform I normally reserve for the important issue of fashion in Sierra Leone, but this week, I’m struggling to find a fashion angle. Unless you’ve been living on mars, you will know that West Africa is suffering the worst ever outbreak of the world’s most deadly disease – Ebola. I traveled to Kenema district last week for an assignment to write about the outbreak. I live in Freetown and before leaving, the epidemic hadn’t really kicked off here. ‘EBOLA!’ (said with a loud voice and chuckle) was something that was happening in villages, places that didn’t…
  • Learning About Africa: Ebola

    16 Aug 2014 | 3:13 am
    Yet again Africa is in the news as the other, as a place of horror and misery.  So just a few reminders: Ebola is not throughout Africa. You don’t need to worry when coming into contact with someone from the continent or someone who has been there recently. Africa is a big continent and Ebola is not everywhere.  In fact… Ebola is currently in three West African countries:  Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone. But… Ebola is not an air-borne illness. You will not contract it by being in the same plane or auditorium or building as someone who has it or has come from one of…
  • In the Classroom: Authors and Kids

    7 Aug 2014 | 8:24 am
    I just saw something from author/teacher Andrew Smith about how he answered a letter from a kid asking him to explain his book to him. Smith replied that the book stood on its own and that that the kid should trust himself to figure it out for himself. Here’s what I wrote in response (slightly edited for clarity and such). Thank you, teacher Andrew Smith. And I hope somehow you can keep teaching as there aren’t too many high-visibility authors like you who can also speak from the POV of a currently practicing teacher. I’m one for much younger kids (private school 4th…
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    Chasing Ray

  • UPDATED!! - Cursing a clerk who did not write clearly in 1895

    13 Aug 2014 | 1:22 am
    This is the marriage certificate for my great great grandmother and her husband (who was not my great great grandfather). It has given me a lot of information including, on the 2nd page (which I did not scan), her signature. That finally proved her true name was Maria Filak. As her first and last names are spelled differently in all sorts of census records, it was nice to have that proven. (Even here they screwed up though--as you can see the clerk wrote in "Mary Filak".) My problem is Maria's address. It is listed under her name and the number, "59", is clear but the street name gets…
  • Considering the masterful plotting of Miss Peregrine and Hollow City

    12 Aug 2014 | 1:41 am
    I just read and enjoyed immensely Ransom Riggs's Hollow City, the sequel to Miss Peregrine's Peculiar Children. Fans of the first book need only hear that the second exceeds it in every way, (which is pretty amazing as that book was fantastic), and those who have missed both and love a good story (regardless of whether you like young adult, new adult or just plain adult) really ought to read these books immediately. But what I've been thinking about is what a good job Riggs did at crafting both of these books around the photographs he illustrates them with. Riggs finds odd photographs in the…
  • Born in America but not an American

    7 Aug 2014 | 10:32 pm
    This ranks as the weirdest thing I have discovered thus far in my family history research. My great grandmother had three younger sisters: Marie, Ernestine & Carol. All three of them were born in NYC (1895, 1897 & 1900). I knew they were born in NYC because all of their birth certificates are available online. These are not "people we heard were born in NYC" or "people we thought were born in NYC" but 100%, no doubt, for sure, born in NYC. So imagine my surprise when I found Carol's naturalization papers. I tracked Carol through the census records in the early 1900s, just as I tracked her…
  • Photos from the sky in 1926

    4 Aug 2014 | 1:20 am
    From my article on the survey of Southeast Alaska up at Alaska Dispatch News: In 1926 Alaska's aviation industry had barely been born. Ben Eielson had flown and lost the first air mail contract in 1924. Russ Merrill and Roy Davis made the first flight over the Gulf of Alaska only one year before. And future famous pilots like Bob Reeve, Joe Crosson, Bob Ellis and Shel Simmons had yet to make their marks. But as reported in the 1929 publication "Aerial Photographic Surveys in Southeastern Alaska," using aircraft to survey the territory was a logical choice. Although topographic mapping of…
  • The Giant Squid, its first photographer & a writer's obsession

    28 Jul 2014 | 8:24 pm
    Preparing the Ghost by Matthew Gavin Frank is without a doubt one of the more unusual books I have read in a long time. Described as "an essay concerning the giant squid and it's first photographer" it is, in my mind, first and foremost a writer's book. (Not that the natural history isn't fascinating.) It's about a writer (Frank) obsessed with a Victorian era naturalist and photographer (Harvey Moses) who was obsessed with the Giant Squid which he famously photographed in Newfoundland in 1874. There is also much here about humanity's obsession with the Giant Squid and the vast amount of…
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    Books for Boys - Children's Adventure & Mystery Author Max Elliot Anderson

  • This Blog Just Voted BLOG OF THE MONTH at Book Fun Magazine

    6 Aug 2014 | 5:35 am
    BLOG OF THE MONTH!From the very beginning, this blog has intended to reach out to young, middle grade readers, especially boys, in the hope of encouraging them to read. As part of that goal, I sat at my computer and, over the space of three years, wrote thirty-six action adventure and mystery manuscripts for this age group. So it’s an honor to have my Books For Boys blog voted as the best this month by people who love to read. Book Fun Magazine now reaches nearly 400,000 readers. And subscriptions are FREE if you’re interested. In the August issue, you’ll find a feature…
  • Church Bookstores Are On The Front Lines To Get Kids Interested In Reading

    29 Jul 2014 | 8:49 am
    How can church bookstores help to get middle grade readers, especially boys, interested in reading? Bookstore managers will likely agree that they stand on the front lines of this issue and are in the perfect position to reach out to children in their congregations. I would challenge managers and bookstore staff to take multiple steps to encourage boys to read.  ·         Stock the kinds of books kids like to read. Many churches today can be tempted to focus on adult books. This alone discourages young boys from visiting the bookstore. Churches…
  • What's the right length for middle grade books?

    17 Jul 2014 | 4:17 pm
    What's the right length for middle grade books? See page 164 in Book Fun Magazine - subscription is FREE Fun Magazine - July 2014 Book Fun MagazineWhere Book Fun Begins
  • Does your church have a library and/or bookstore?

    13 Jul 2014 | 12:30 pm
    It's an honor to have my middle grade mysteries and adventures profiled in a feature article in the summer issue of Church Libraries. If we want adult readers in the future, we have to hook them when they're younger. If you have an opportunity to mention this to the people in charge at your church it would be appreciated. Thank you.Max Elliot Anderson
  • Are shorter books better books for kids?

    6 Jul 2014 | 4:38 am
    Is shorter better for young readers?  This article explores the best book length for kids, especially middle grade readers. Find it in the July issue of Book Fun Magazine, page 164.
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    American Indians in Children's Literature (AICL)

  • A killer line in Jaye Robin Brown's NO PLACE TO FALL

    17 Aug 2014 | 1:17 pm
    Yesterday, Kelly Jensen of Book Riot tweeted that 20 pages into a YA novel, she came across this line: [H]e must be part Indian. Red dot, not feather.I asked for the title, and she pointed me to her review at goodreads, where she said:You lost me right there, with that line. No need to read more.I'd have that reaction, too. I've heard the phrase used before. It reduces Indians to red dots, and American Indians to feathers. Pretty gross.   
  • Finding Bruchac's BUFFALO SONG at Reading is Fundamental's office

    11 Aug 2014 | 11:13 am
    In July I was in Washington DC to visit my daughter. Among the many things I did while there was visit the Reading is Fundamental office. As I waited in their reception area, I noted the books on their coffee table. Among them was Joseph Bruchac's excellent Buffalo Song:Seeing it did two things:First, it isn't often that a great book by a Native author greets me as I sit in a waiting room. My heart soared.Second, its presence on that table is evidence that the people at Reading is Fundamental are committed to providing recipients of their books with ones that accurately portray Native…
  • BEFORE WE WERE FREE, by Julia Alvarez

    22 Jul 2014 | 1:40 pm
    Among the projects I'm doing this summer is a do-it-yourself paint job of the exterior of our house. On days when it isn't too hot or humid, I enjoy being out there, scraping paint and listening to an audiobook.Today, I started listening to Julia Alvarez's Before We Were Free. Published in 2002 by Knopf Books for Young Readers, it won the Pura Belpre Award in 2004.Chapter one opens with this:"May I have some volunteers?" Mrs. Brown is saying. We are preparing skits for Thanksgiving, two weeks away. Although the Pilgrims never came to the Dominican Republic, we are attending the American…
  • Gary Paulsen's MR. TUCKET

    22 Jul 2014 | 7:57 am
    A reader of AICL wrote to ask me about Gary Paulsen's Mr. Tucket. I read a copy of the book via the Internet Archive. Here's my notes, summarized by chapter. Sometimes I put my comments in italics beneath each chapter. This time, you'll find my thoughts on the book in the THOUGHTS at the end of the summary of chapters.First, though, let's look a bit at Gary Paulsen. He's a prolific author and quite well known for Hatchet and the sequels to it The Hatchet series is also known as Brian's Saga, because the protagonist is a kid named Brian who survives a plane crash, alone, in the…

    19 Jul 2014 | 5:39 pm
    In the last few days, I've been looking at picture books about Christopher Columbus. Peter Sis did one, titled Follow the Dream: The Story of Christopher Columbus. Sis has won a lot of major awards for his work in children's literature, but none (that I know of) for his biography of Columbus.Published in 1991 (likely timed to coincide with the 500 year 'anniversary' of Columbus landing in the New World), the reviewer at Publisher's Weekly called it flat, while the one at Kirkus called it uncontroversial, and the reviewer at School Library Journal said to "make room on your crowded…
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  • Poetry Friday: Experiment escorts us last by Emily Dickinson

    15 Aug 2014 | 8:41 am
    Experiment escorts us last -His pungent companyWill not allow an AxiomAn Opportunity -- Emily DickinsonView all posts tagged as Poetry Friday at Bildungsroman. View the roundup schedule at A Year of Reading. Learn more about Poetry Friday.
  • Interview: Kelly Jensen

    15 Aug 2014 | 7:50 am
    Today, I'm celebrating the publication of It Happens: A Guide to Contemporary Realistic Fiction for the YA Reader by Kelly Jensen, a fellow blogger and book reviewer. We share an appreciation for literature and libraries, and I've been following her blog for a long while. It was fun to conduct this interview and learn more about her academic background and literary inspirations.How old were you when you started reading teen fiction?I was a teenager when I was reading teen fiction. Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson and The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky came out in 1999. I…
  • Poetry Friday: In the Gloaming by Meta Orred

    8 Aug 2014 | 7:40 am
    In the gloaming, oh, my darling,When the lights are dim and low,And the quiet shadows falling,Softly come, and softly go;When the winds are sobbing faintly,With a gentle, unknown woe;Will you think of me and love me?As you did once long ago?In the gloaming, oh, my darling,Think not bitterly of me.Tho’ I passed away in silence,Left you lonely, set you free;For my heart was crushed with longing,What has been could never be;It was best to leave you thus, dear,Best for you and best for me.It was best to leave you thus,Best for you and best for me.- In the Gloaming by Meta OrredIn 1877,…
  • Interview: Jen Wang

    6 Aug 2014 | 8:46 am
    If you like multiplayer RPGs and graphic novels, then you should pick up IN REAL LIFE by Cory Doctorow and Jen Wang when it hits the shelves on October 14th. This full-color graphic novel, which has a front-cover blurb o' praise from Felicia Day of Geek & Sundry, is based on Cory's short story. Thanks to Gina at First Second Books, I had the opportunity to read the book early and then virtually meet writer-illustrator Jen Wang. Let's dive right into our interview:Creative types the world over have had to take day jobs to pay the bills, and many have stories about their worst…
  • Poetry Friday: La Reina by Pablo Neruda

    1 Aug 2014 | 6:06 am
    I have named you queen.There are taller than you, taller.There are purer than you, purer.There are lovelier than you, lovelier.But you are the queen.When you go through the streetsNo one recognizes you.No one sees your crystal crown, no one looksAt the carpet of red goldThat you tread as you pass,The nonexistent carpet.And when you appearAll the rivers soundIn my body, bellsShake the sky,And a hymn fills the world.Only you and I,Only you and I, my love,Listen to me.- The Queen by Pablo NerudaYo te he nombrado reina.Hay más altas que tú, más altas.Hay más puras que…
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    Jen Robinson's Book Page

  • New Fancy Nancy Books Bring Joy

    Jen Robinson
    20 Aug 2014 | 11:45 am
    The arrival of a box of new Fancy Nancy books generated considerable excitement in my house this week. My four-year-old daughter actually delayed her departure for her first-ever soccer practice (something that she was VERY excited about) to finish reading Fancy Nancy: Sand Castles and Sand Palaces. Later, before she would go to sleep, we had to read the new picture book Fancy Nancy and the Wedding of the Century AND all six titles in Fancy Nancy's Fabulous Fall Storybook Collection, as well as the newest copy of Fancy Nancy and the Fall Foliage (which we already had a copy of).
  • Small Blue and the Deep Dark Night: Jon Davis

    Jen Robinson
    19 Aug 2014 | 8:38 am
    Book: Small Blue and the Deep Dark Night Author: Jon Davis Pages: 40 Age Range: 4-8 Small Blue and the Deep Dark Night by Jon Davis is a cozy picture book that presents a practical solution to night-time fears. Small Blue is a little, floppy-eared rabbit. When she awakens during the night, she imagines that all sorts of "creepy" things lurk in the darkness. Big Brown, a big, cozy bear/parental figure brings safety and reassurance. He patiently offers up cheerful alternatives to Small Blue's imaginings. Eventually, Small Blue is able to imagine cheerful things in the darkness, too. …
  • Links I Shared on Twitter this Week: August 15

    Jen Robinson
    15 Aug 2014 | 8:00 am
    Here are highlights from the links that I shared on Twitter this week @JensBookPage. Topics this week include illustrators, madeline, book lists, awards, the cybils, kidlitcon, common core, diversity, growing bookworms, reading, technology, schools, and libraries.  Authors and Illustrators 10 children's illustrators to watch | guest post by @SevenImp @BookPage #kidlit Madeline’s 75th Birthday Brings Revelations | fun tidbit-filled story by @roccoa @sljournal #kidlit Book Lists and Awards Trends in Picture Books: Birds, noted by @greenbeanblog…
  • Tut: The Story of My Immortal Life: P. J. Hoover

    Jen Robinson
    14 Aug 2014 | 8:44 am
    Book: Tut: The Story of my Immortal Life Author: P. J. Hoover Pages: 320  Age Range: 9-12 The premise of Tut: The Story of My Immortal Life is that when King Tut was fourteen years old, his uncle tried to kill him. A god (Osiris) intervened, and granted Tut immortality. 3000 years later, Tut is living in Washington, DC, attending 8th grade, and living with the god Horus (in the form of a cat) and another immortal named Gil. As the story begins, signs become evident that Tut's evil uncle (also immortal) is nearby, and that a curse on Tut and his uncle is affecting citizens in DC. Tut…
  • Growing Bookworms Newsletter: August 13

    Jen Robinson
    13 Aug 2014 | 12:49 pm
    Today I will be sending out a new issue of the Growing Bookworms email newsletter. (If you would like to subscribe, you can find a sign-up form here.) The Growing Bookworms newsletter contains content from my blog focused on children's and young adult books and raising readers. I currenty send the newsletter out every two weeks. Newsletter Update: In this issue I have six book reviews (picture book to adult), two posts with links that I shared on Twitter recently, and a post about the upcoming start of Cybils book award season. I…
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    Writing and Ruminating

  • Julia's House for Lost Creatures by Ben Hatke

    19 Aug 2014 | 10:00 am
    Dear Readers,You really should get your hands on this graphic novel for the younger set, which is, for all intents and purposes, a most excellent picture book (there, I said it). It includes multiple panels on some pages, but nothing that's difficult to follow, and it should therefore not deter a single soul that it is technically a graphic novel and not a picture book.The plot is adorable. The art is adorable-er. Julia moves to town (her house, it should be noted, moves with her on the back of an enormous tortoise, which is never mentioned but can be seen on the interior title page), and…
  • The True Secret of Writing: Connecting Life with Language by Natalie Goldberg

    15 Aug 2014 | 4:00 pm
    Over the past couple of months, I've been reading The True Secret of Writing by Natalie Goldberg, perhaps most famous for her book, Writing Down the Bones, which is on my bookshelf, but thus far unread. (I know, I know . . . I'm getting there.) It's not that the book requires that much time, but I had a habit of dipping into it before bed each night, reading a chapter or less each night. It was a good way to go, in my opinion.In addition to writing memoir and writing books, Goldberg runs a lot of writing retreats, some of which she calls "True Secret" retreats. This book talks about a lot of…
  • VOICES BEYOND BONDAGE, ed. by Erika DeSimone and Fidel Louis

    14 Aug 2014 | 3:31 pm
    I feel very lucky to have received a review copy of VOICES BEYOND BONDAGE: An Anthology of Verse By African Americans of the 19th Century from New South Books. The editors, Fidel Louis and Erika DeSimone, have spent years working to locate and collect the poems found inside the book. All the poems were written during the 19th century and published in black-owned paper, and all are believed to have been written by African Americans, with strong effort to identify authors as much as possible, though some remain anonymous. (Hence my use of the phrase "believed to have been".)The book is divided…
  • Over at Guys Lit Wire

    12 Aug 2014 | 10:45 am
    It's my review of The Green Teen Cookbook, a book composed primarily of recipes from teen contributors. The quick version: A great resource for teens, especially if they are interested in cooking more with fresh ingredients. The first chapter includes information on shopping for/finding organic or local foods, among other things. Although a few of the recipes could have been a tad more clear about ingredients (e.g., one requires shredded cheese, but doesn't say so - just says "whole milk mozzarella"), it's an accessible resource with plenty of variety in its fare.
  • Weekend report, or why I now need a day off

    11 Aug 2014 | 7:36 am
    It turned out to be a highly social weekend this weekend. We started early, even, celebrating my pseudo-grandson's 14th birthday on Friday, complete with a birthday "cake" made up of Pringles cans. You see, grandson doesn't like actual cake, and thanks to an offhand comment he made months ago about wishing he could just have Sour Cream and Onion Pringles, well . . . Here's what happened:He had extreme difficulty when he tried to cut the cake, and was extremely pleased to scrape the whipped topping off the outside and unwrap the Pringles cans. My sweetheart, our granddaughter, and I all had…
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    The Miss Rumphius Effect

  • Monday Poetry Stretch - Joy

    18 Aug 2014 | 12:36 pm
    This weekend I watched my niece get married. I'm a bit shocked that time has passed so quickly and that we've all aged (some more gracefully than others). There were lots of smiles this weekend, a great deal of happiness, and a whole lot of joy.What makes you happy or joyful? Let's write about that this week. I hope you will join me. Please share a link to your poem or the poem itself in the comments.
  • Monday Poetry Stretch - The Kitchen

    11 Aug 2014 | 5:27 pm
    I had planned to write to form again this week, but I found myself thinking quite a lot of my mother this weekend, and nearly every memory was of her in the kitchen.As a child I hated chores in the kitchen, particularly drying the dishes, but these are some of the times with my mom I remember most fondly. She always washed. I dried and put dishes away. I can still see her the ceramic elephant on the windowsill, trunk raised and holding her rings while she plunged her hands into very hot soapy water to scrub the pots and pans. That elephant sits on my kitchen windowsill now.Perhaps my fondest…
  • Poetry Friday - Of Modern Books

    8 Aug 2014 | 7:35 am
    I'm especially fond of the pantoum as a poetic form. Here is a lovely example.Of Modern Booksby Carolyn Wells               (A Pantoum)Of making many books there is no end,   Though myriads have to deep oblivion gone;Each day new manuscripts are being penned,   And still the ceaseless tide of ink flows on.Though myriads have to deep oblivion gone,   New volumes daily issue from the press;And still the ceaseless tide of ink flows on—   The prospect is disheartening, I confess.Read the poem in its entirety.I do…
  • Monday Poetry Stretch - Macaronic Verse

    28 Jul 2014 | 2:21 pm
    Back in 2011 we wrote poems in the form of macaronic verse. It's been a long time, so this seems like a good time to revisit the form. The Handbook of Poetic Forms defines macaronic verse in this fashion.Macaronic verse is a peculiar, rare and often comic form of poetry that sometimes borders on nonsense. It is a mixture of two (or more) languages in a poem, in which the poet usually subjects one language to the grammatical laws of another to make people laugh.Poetry Base describes macaronic verse this way.The definition is a poem in a mixture of two languages, one of them…
  • Poetry Friday - The Tide Rises, the Tide Falls

    24 Jul 2014 | 9:01 pm
    It's been one week since posting a poem about the sand, and I'm still dreaming of the sea.The Tide Rises, the Tide Fallsby Henry Wadsworth LongfellowThe tide rises, the tide falls,The twilight darkens, the curlew calls;Along the sea-sands damp and brownThe traveller hastens toward the town,      And the tide rises, the tide falls.Darkness settles on roofs and walls,But the sea, the sea in the darkness calls;The little waves, with their soft, white hands,Efface the footprints in the sands,      And the tide rises, the tide falls.The morning breaks; the steeds in…
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        Poetry for Children

  • GUIDE for Silver People by Margarita Engle

    Sylvia Vardell
    14 Aug 2014 | 10:30 pm
    One hundred years ago today, the first ship passed through the newly completed Panama Canal changing the route through the Americas forever. Although this was and is celebrated as a technological achievement, I wasn't aware of the cost in human lives and ecological impact till I read Margarita Engle's vivid and compelling novel in verse, Silver People. I was fortunate enough to read an early copy of the book and create an educator's guide for sharing the book with young readers. You can download the guide here. To whet your appetite, here are just a few components to explore. To set…
  • Poet to Poet: Joyce Sidman and Irene Latham

    Sylvia Vardell
    7 Aug 2014 | 9:33 pm
    It's time for another installment of my "Poet to Poet" series-- in which one poet interviews another poet about her/his new book. Today, Joyce Sidman asks Irene Latham three questions about her new book, Dear Wandering Wildebeest and Other Poems from the Water Hole.  Joyce Sidman is a Newbery honor author whose beautiful poetry often focuses on the natural world. Her ecological trilogy including Song of the Water Boatman, and Other Pond Poems, Butterfly Eyes and Other Secrets of the Meadow, and Dark Emperor and Other Poems of the Night offers sensitive depictions of animal life in verse.
  • The Poetry Friday Party is HERE!

    Sylvia Vardell
    24 Jul 2014 | 6:30 am
    Welcome to the Poetry Friday party!Today is the perfect day to go public with our plans for our next installment in The Poetry Friday Anthology series! Drum roll…The Poetry Friday Anthology for CELEBRATIONS!We’ll be gathering poems related to more than 100 holidays (like Halloween and July 4th), occasions (like graduation and the first day of school), and odd and interesting events (like Left Handers Day or National Yo-Yo Day). Our audience will be young children and the librarians, teachers, and families who care for them. Once again, we’ll provide “Take 5” activities for every…
  • Painting the Poetry Landscape

    Sylvia Vardell
    17 Jul 2014 | 9:13 pm
    During my recent trip to Las Vegas for the American Library Association conference, I stopped by the ALA Bookstore to look for the latest installment of The Newbery & Caldecott Awards: A Guide to the Medal and Honor Books (2014 Edition) just published by ALA. Why?Because I wrote the opening essay for this guide! I was so honored to be invited to contribute that essay-- the only such piece in a book that focuses on thoroughly describing each of the award and honor books for these two prestigious awards. It's been 25 years since Paul Fleischman's book Joyful Noise won that Newbery…
  • Walter Dean Myers, Poet

    Sylvia Vardell
    11 Jul 2014 | 7:17 am
    Poetry by Walter Dean Myers"Summer" from Brown AngelsAs you've probably heard, the great Walter Dean Myers passed away recently and his impressive and significant body of work has been recognized far and wide-- as it should be. His mastery of every genre was amazing and I would like to take a moment to highlight his POETRY for young people, in particular. I was fortunate enough to feature him in my "Poetry Round Up" at the annual conference of the Texas Library Association in 2005. Hearing a poet read his/her own work aloud is the ultimate treat and Walter's reading was such a perfect…
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    WordPress Tag: Children's Book

  • The Swap by Jan Ormerod and Andrew Joyner

    11 Aug 2014 | 7:29 pm
    The Swap by Jan Ormerod and illustrated by Andrew Joyner, hardback picture book, published by Littler Hare Books in 2013. Caroline Crocodile is very jealous of her baby brother. Mama Crocodile is always saying how wonderful he is, and giving him big smoochy kisses. Caroline thinks her brother is just a big smelly and drooly mess, and she really wants Mama Crocodile to herself. So when Mama Crocodile asks Caroline to look after her brother while she pops into the hat shop, Caroline decides to trade her brother for a new baby  at The Baby Shop. She tries a baby panda, twin tiger cubs and an…
  • A Bear Discovered, by Andrew Lysaught

    11 Aug 2014 | 7:29 pm
      click here to take a peak inside the book A Bear Discovered, by Andrew Lysaught is a search f
  • Antique Copy of Louisa May Alcott's Little Women, Vintage Children's Book, 1929

    11 Aug 2014 | 5:15 pm
    11.00 USD, by shavingkitsuppplies via Etsy
  • Antique Copy of Louisa May Alcott's Little Women, Vintage Children's Book, 1929

    11 Aug 2014 | 5:08 pm
    by shavingkitsuppplies Antique Copy of Louisa May Alcott's Little Women, Vintage Children's Book, 1929
  • I illustrated a book!

    Bri Sidari
    11 Aug 2014 | 4:36 pm
    Hey guys. I was commissioned to illustrate a children’s book for a lovely couple. It is in a more cartoony style than I usually do and I had a blast. Check it out here and here’s some example pages. They also do penpals here. So cool to be a part of something like this! :): 
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    School Library Journal

  • A Mystery Unravels | Touch and Go

    Daryl Grabarek
    20 Aug 2014 | 12:58 pm
    Prepare to spend time with this app. On opening it you’ll find yourself in a labyrinth and a mystery, and it’s up to you to decide where the story goes. Download the first chapter (it’s free) and experience the adventure described below. Roland Bartholomew Dexter III lives a life of rigid rules and inflexible routines. His family runs a barbershop that, oddly, has only one customer. The boy works in the shop sweeping the floor and, because his family is so poor, helps to recycle the hair into everything his family needs from clothing to (gross!) dinner…
  • Chicago Public School Librarian K.C. Boyd: The Heartbeat of Her School

    Mahnaz Dar
    20 Aug 2014 | 12:37 pm
    Wendell Phillips Academy school librarian KC Boyd When librarian K.C. Boyd first came to Wendell Phillips Academy High School in Chicago in 2010, it was ranked second to last among schools in Illinois. Since then, test scores have jumped, especially reading. Boyd has transformed the school’s reading culture and pioneered the school’s use of social media. And while she isn’t  entirely responsible for the school’s turnaround—the Academy for Urban School Leadership, a nonprofit organization that helps chronically low-performing schools, became involved in 2010 as well—she’s…
  • A Girl Who Loved Reading and Triumphed in Math | Consider the Source

    Marc Aronson
    20 Aug 2014 | 8:46 am
    Dr. Maryam Mirzakhani My colleague and friend Sue Bartle sent me this thrilling notice: for the first time in its history, the Fields Medal, sometimes referred to as the “Nobel Prize for math,” has been awarded to a woman. Dr. Maryam Mirzakhani is an Iranian immigrant who teaches at Stanford and everything about her story is wonderful for those of us who work with young people. As a trail-blazer in abstract math and a leader in her profession, Dr. Mirzakhani and her work counteract the hopelessly outdated idea that girls aren’t good at math, don’t like it, or require that it be linked…
  • NJ State Library to Launch High School Diploma Program at Select Public Libraries

    Gary Price
    20 Aug 2014 | 7:53 am
    From the New Jersey State Library: The New Jersey State Library (NJSL), an affiliate of Thomas Edison State College, has announced the launch of its Online High School Completion Program, which will allow NJ residents to earn an accredited high school diploma and credentialed career certificate at their local library. The groundbreaking program is designed to reengage adults in the education system and prepare them for entry into post-secondary education or the workforce. The State Library was awarded a Literacy Innovations Program grant in the amount of $146,475 from the NJ Department of…
  • Novels in Verse, Literary Street Lit, and High-Interest Nonfiction | What’s Hot in YA

    Shelley Diaz
    20 Aug 2014 | 6:36 am
    Kekla Magoon’s How It Went Down (Holt, 2014) about a black teen who is shot by a white man, is especially timely with recent events in Ferguson, Missouri, and just the right title for young adults grappling with the headlines streaming in every day. And, a new book from the queen of verse novels, Ellen Hopkins (Rumble), will entice fans of the format, while Dana Walrath’s lyrical historical fiction work about the 1914 Armenian genocide (Like Water on Stone), will illuminate and win new ones. The following fiction and nonfiction titles for teens will be perfect for late-summer reading and…
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    A Fuse #8 Production

  • Books to Films – Coming Soon So Be Prepared!

    Elizabeth Bird
    19 Aug 2014 | 1:00 am
    The advantage of having a bookstore in the library is when it has a tendency towards brilliance.  Take this recent list the employees of the Schwarzman Building of NYPL came up with.  I can take no credit for this.  It’s just smart stuff (and very useful for my ordering as well).  With mild tweaks on my part: KIDS READ the book: Alexander and the No Good Horrible Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst BEFORE YOU SEE the movie, opening in October READ the book: Here Be Monsters! by Adam Snow BEFORE YOU SEE the movie, called The Boxtrolls, opening in September READ the book: A Bear Called…
  • Video Sunday: Sneaky Peek Edition

    Elizabeth Bird
    17 Aug 2014 | 1:00 am
    Currently I am maxing and relaxing in Stratford, Ontario enjoying a play or two.  Just kidding.  By my calculations what I’m actually doing as you read this is driving hell-for-leather out of Canada back to New York City while seated in a rental car’s back seat next to a 3-year-old and a 13-week-old.  For hours.  And hours.  And hours. As you digest that pleasant little mental image (fun fact: someone in this car gets carsick regularly and it’s not me) I’m going to do you a solid.  In case you missed it, we’ve been soliciting authors for special…
  • Fusenews: “… by her mouth there was a scar”

    Elizabeth Bird
    14 Aug 2014 | 1:00 am
    Okay.  So we’re still in the thick of book promotion here.  As such, I’ll be taking a trip to my home state on Saturday.  Yup!  It’s a Michigan appearance at Book Beat, the bookstore beloved of my deceased co-writer Peter Sieruta.  The Oakland Press did a nice little write up of what’s to come and barring floodwaters (a real concern) I shall be there with Jules Skyping in.  Here’s Book Beat’s info on the matter. Enough me stuff.  Let’s look at some other books for adults about children’s literature.  Now here is a book I can guarantee…
  • Film Review: The Giver

    Elizabeth Bird
    12 Aug 2014 | 1:00 am
    [SPOILER ALERT: This whole review pretty gives away every plot point in both the book and film versions of The Giver.  Abandon ship all ye who wish to remain surprised.] On Sunday night I had an extraordinary experience.  I was sitting in a theater, just about to watch Guardians of the Galaxy, and seeing what had to be the lamest run of movie trailers I have ever experienced.  I’m talking horrible stuff.  The Annie trailer (which ends with a prostitute joke), the Alexander and the Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day trailer (which may rival the Paddington film for Worst Trailer of the…
  • Review of Day: The Categorical Universe of Candice Phee by Barry Jonsberg

    Elizabeth Bird
    11 Aug 2014 | 1:00 am
    The Categorical Universe of Candice Phee By Barry Jonsberg Chronicle Books $16.99 ISBN: 978-1-4521-3351-5 Ages 9-12 On shelves September 9th It often takes a while to figure out when you’re falling in love with a book. A book is a risk. You’re judging it from page one onward, informed by your own personal prejudices and reading history. Then there’s this moment when a shift takes place. It might be a subtle shift or it might be sudden and violent but all of a sudden it’s there. One minute you’re just reading for the heck of it, and the next you are LOVING what you’re reading,…
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    Michael Gerson: Most Recent Articles and Archives

  • Rand Paul is no Jack Kemp

    Michael Gerson
    18 Aug 2014 | 4:51 pm
    Why should Republicans engage in outreach to African Americans, even though the level of suspicion is so high and the yield in votes is likely to be so low? Even among some reform-oriented conservatives, what might be called the Kemp project — after the late congressman Jack Kemp, who spent a career engaged in minority outreach — is viewed as a secondary concern. They consistently pitch their approach toward the middle class — in part to distinguish it from previous iterations of compassionate or “bleeding heart” (Kemp’s phrase) conservatism. The cover of the reform-conservative…
  • Michael Gerson: Ferguson and the paradox of American diversity

    Michael Gerson
    14 Aug 2014 | 6:06 pm
    While I was growing up in an overwhelmingly white, resolutely middle-class neighborhood west of St. Louis, the city of Ferguson — about 20 minutes north around Interstate 270, past the airport — was never an intended destination. It was a working-class area that did not figure or matter much in my world. For all I knew, it was a foreign country. Read full article >>
  • Mugged by reality in the Middle East

    Michael Gerson
    11 Aug 2014 | 5:16 pm
    So ends a foreign policy experiment that began with two choices in 2011. In that hinge year, President Obama decided to stay out of the Syrian conflict and to passively accept the withdrawal of all U.S. ground forces from Iraq (which he later claimed as a personal achievement during his reelection campaign). Read full article >>
  • Ebola fever

    Michael Gerson
    7 Aug 2014 | 5:00 pm
    A prominent AIDS researcher recently recalled for me the panic at the start of the pandemic in the 1980s. Her superiors asked her not to publicize her work because they didn’t want their institution to be known as an “AIDS hospital.” Some parents instructed their children at school not to play with the researcher’s children, because she was in contact with the AIDS virus. Fear and stigma were overcome only by the relentless application of science. Read full article >>
  • Bet on Africa rising

    Michael Gerson
    4 Aug 2014 | 5:38 pm
    As more than 40 African leaders gather in Washington for an unprecedented summit, Africa’s brand problem in the United States has grown significantly worse. Two events — the kidnapping of more than 200 Nigerian girls by Boko Haram and an uncontrolled Ebola outbreak in West Africa — have tuned in clearly through the news and social media static. And they have reinforced existing public impressions of disorder and disease. Read full article >>
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  • A Hitch at the Fairmont by Jim Averbeck

    19 Aug 2014 | 7:41 pm
    Alfred Hitchcock films are some of our family’s favorites. Engineer Husband says Vertigo is a masterpiece. Brown Bear Daughter likes The Lady Vanishes. Betsy-Bee and my sister say they are both fans of Rear Window. I rather like North by Northwest and To Catch a Thief, only partially due to my crush on Cary Grant. Author Jim Averbeck harbors a fondness for “Hitch”, too, and he’s made the famous director a central character in his debut middle grade mystery novel, A Hitch at the Fairmont. After his aspiring actress mother drives her car off a cliff, eleven year old Jim…
  • Saturday Review of Books: August 16, 2014

    15 Aug 2014 | 6:40 pm
    “To read a writer is for me not merely to get an idea of what he says, but to go off with him and travel in his company.” ~André Gide Welcome to the Saturday Review of Books at Semicolon. Here’s how it usually works. Find a book review on your blog posted sometime during the previous week. The review doesn’t have to be a formal sort of thing. You can link to your thoughts on a particular book, a few ideas inspired by reading the book, your evaluation, quotations, whatever. Then on Friday night/Saturday, you post a link here at Semicolon in Mr. Linky to the specific post where…
  • Against All Odds by Jim Stier

    14 Aug 2014 | 5:11 am
    This book is published by YWAM and tells the story of YWAM leader Jim Stier and his missionary work in Brazil during the 1980′s. YWAM stands for Youth With a Mission, “an inter-denominational, non-profit Christian, missionary organization. Founded by Loren Cunningham and his wife Darlene Cunningham in 1960, YWAM’s stated purpose is to know God and to make Him known.” A worthy purpose, but I’m not so sure about the wisdom of all that I read about in Mr. Stier’s book. I must say that there are some odd episodes in Against All Odds. For instance, the young…
  • Quaker Summer by Lisa Samson

    13 Aug 2014 | 5:50 am
    Not much happens in this character-driven novel of a woman who is having a mid-life crisis in the midst of her addiction to materialism and shopping. In fact, if you want to know what Quaker Summer is all about, read this 2007 interview with author Lisa Samson. That’s pretty much it: suburban upper middle class Christian mom feels guilty and stressed all the time. She discovers that Christ is calling her to give up her materialistic life, quit shopping so much, and serve the poor. It’s hard. I sound sarcastic, and I don’t mean to be. However, the main character Heather…
  • Heidi Grows Up by Charles Tritten

    12 Aug 2014 | 5:51 am
    At Half-Price Books in San Antonio (which by the way is a very old-fashioned edition of Half-Price with lots of nooks and cubbyholes and corners and old books), I found a copy of translator Charles Tritten’s sequel to the classic Heidi by Johanna Spyri, called Heidi Grows Up. I remember Tritten’s two sequels, Heidi Grows Up and Heidi’s Children quite fondly from my teen years of reading, and I would love to have a copy of Heidi’s Children to go with my new/old copy of Heidi Grows Up. So, I re-read this story of Heidi’s teen years. In the story, first Heidi agrees…
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    Stories from NPR

  • Masters And Disasters: The Met Opera Quiz

    Tom Huizenga
    20 Aug 2014 | 1:19 pm
    To mark the apparent end of the Metropolitan Opera's labor crisis, try a nerdworthy quiz — and learn a few quirky things about America's largest performing arts organization.» E-Mail This
  • In Syria, The U.S. Weighs A Range Of Unpalatable Options

    Michele Kelemen
    20 Aug 2014 | 1:17 pm
    The U.S. could aid moderate rebels. It could bomb militants of the Islamic State. Or it could sit on the sidelines as the war plays out. There are many choices, but none appears promising.» E-Mail This
  • In Liberia, An Ebola Quarantine Descends Into Riots

    Nurith Aizenman
    20 Aug 2014 | 1:13 pm
    After the Liberian government ordered a quarantine of one of the poorest neighborhoods in its capital, Monrovia, residents there woke up to find themselves cut off from the rest of the city by security forces. By midday, the neighborhood was in riot.» E-Mail This
  • Yogi Iyengar, Who Helped Bring Yoga To The West, Dies At 95

    20 Aug 2014 | 1:13 pm
    The man who helped popularize the practice of yoga around the world has died at the age of 95 in India. B.K.S. Iyengar had created his own brand of yoga, which was practiced by artists like Aldous Huxley.» E-Mail This
  • Militants Behead American Journalist, Leveling New Threats At U.S.

    Dina Temple-Raston
    20 Aug 2014 | 1:13 pm
    The group known as the Islamic State has fired its first violent salvo against the U.S. The group declared that the beheading is a retaliation for U.S. airstrikes in Iraq.» E-Mail This
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    Ally Carter

  • Magnificent Trending Monday

    18 Aug 2014 | 4:00 am
    Hi Everyone! I was just wondering what things are trending where you live. And your answers can be a trend in your area or just a trend in your life!   What is your favorite social media outlet? Any new food trends? Any cool Youtube videos trending where you are? What kind of fashion is trending where you live or in your life? What song or band is everyone talking about or you are just really enjoying?   I love when you guys fill out these surveys it keeps me up to date and in the know! I also really like learning about what is going on with you!   xoxo, Shellie The post…
  • And the title of Embassy Row will be…

    Ally Carter
    15 Aug 2014 | 6:00 am
    Hi everyone, I was planning on blogging this week with pictures from my Alaska trip, but I guess those will have to wait because  the time has come! I can finally announce that the official title of Embassy Row 1 will be . . .   ALL FALL DOWN: An Embassy Row Novel In stores January 27, 2015 A new series of global proportions — from master of intrigue, NEW YORK TIMES bestselling author Ally Carter.This exciting new series from NEW YORK TIMES bestselling author Ally Carter focuses on Grace, who can best be described as a daredevil, an Army brat, and a rebel. She is also the only…
  • Magnificent Monday

    11 Aug 2014 | 8:25 am
    Hi Everyone! Ally is heading home from Alaska and we are wrapping up our summer giveaway spectacular! Up for grabs today is another e-book just like last week! The winner will receive this cool pamphlet  of Sweet Venom signed by the author Tera Lynn Childs with a code on the back for the free e-Book download! For your chance to win please comment what has been your favorite part of summer! Good Luck! We have a winner!!! Congrats Lydia! Lydia says: August 11, 2014 at 12:10 pm (Edit) My favorite part of summer was getting to go canoeing with my family. We had so much fun and I love hanging…
  • Magnificent Monday

    4 Aug 2014 | 5:00 am
    Hi All! As you know Ally is on vacation in Alaska! You can follow her pictures on Instagram and Twitter. And while I wait for her to get back to Ally Carter HQ I thought I would give away a little something. Like last week I am going to giveaway something from another author! Up for grabs is a pamphlet with a FREE e-bo0k download of The Burning Sky by Sherry Thomas and it’s signed!!!! Just post in the comments if you read more ebooks or old school paper books! Good Luck! I will pick a winner randomly in 48 hrs. U.S. residence only. Please check back here for winner announcement! We…
  • Alaska!

    Ally Carter
    2 Aug 2014 | 9:45 am
    Hi everyone! Ally here with what is (for me) exciting news: I’m leaving today for Alaska! Now, this isn’t work travel. This is family vacation travel (a concept that is fairly foreign to me, to be honest). You see, it is almost my parents’ 50th wedding anniversary (!!!) and my entire family is going on an Alaskan cruise to celebrate. I’m super excited about it. Don’t worry, I will be working on Embassy Row 2 while I’m gone. Except, instead of working in a booth at Panera I’ll be working in a deck chair as we pass by glaciers and whales and stuff.
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    Justine Larbalestier

  • US Cover of Razorhurst

    13 Aug 2014 | 4:06 pm
    I’m super excited to reveal what Razorhurst will look like when Soho Teen publish it in the USA next March. Quite a contrast to the Australian cover, eh? Yet at the same time they both have that gorgeous, strong font treatment. I adore that font and those colours. I hope you do too. Everyone who’s seen this cover has been wildly enthusiastic uttering comments like, “I would buy that in a heartbeat.” “Utterly beautiful.” “Wow, that’s so commercial.” All of it music to my ears. Soho’s edition will have a bonus glossary. Yes, you US…
  • On Ideas and Plots and Their Mutability

    7 Aug 2014 | 2:54 pm
    Sometimes I get asked questions on twitter that cannot be answered in 140 characters. Candanosa asked one such yesterday: Do you ever get amazing ideas for your books and then realize it was just something you read in someone else’s? I couldn’t answer this in a tweet because being inspired by other books is at the heart of most writers’ work. It’s a feature, not a bug. My book Razorhurst wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for Larry Writer’s non-fiction account of the same period, Razor. Now most people see no problem with that: a novel being inspired by a…
  • Who is My Audience?

    31 Jul 2014 | 2:26 pm
    On Twitter ages ago N. K. Jemisin asked “*do* white writers want only white readers?” The immediate, obvious answer for me is: No, I don’t want only white readers. And I’m really glad I don’t have only white readers. But I’ve not been able to stop thinking about that question. And the shadow question which is “do white writers only write for white readers” regardless of what kind of audience they might want? In order to respond I need to break it down: Whiteness I’m white. That fact has shaped everything about me. I know the moment when I…
  • BWFBC: Patricia Highsmith’s The Price of Salt/Carol (1952)

    28 Jul 2014 | 6:56 pm
    Welcome to July’s Bestselling Women’s Fiction Book Club in which we discuss Patricia Highsmith’s The Price of Salt/Carol. It’s original title was The Price of Salt and that’s what some editions in the US still call it. In Australia and the UK it’s called Carol. That’s how I think of it because that’s the edition I first read and fell in love with in my early twenties. This is the first book we’ve discussed that one of us knows really well. I’m a huge Highsmith fan. Have read everything she’s published as well as all the…
  • Writing Goals: Reduxing the Redux of the Redux

    23 Jul 2014 | 1:42 pm
    This post is a thing that I do every so often. It started in 2006 when I posted my writing goals. I updated it in 2008 with the publication of How To Ditch Your Fairy and then again in 2009 after Liar came out. And then in 2012 in anticipation of the publication of Team Human. These goals of mine are not stuff like Become NYT Bestselling Author or Win Nobel Prize.1 Winning prizes, making bestseller lists, having your books turned into genius TV shows are not things anyone can control,2 but I can control what I write. Not only can I control that, I do control that. So that’s what my…
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    Scott Westerfeld

  • Afterworlds NaNoWriMo Event

    19 Aug 2014 | 11:53 am
    The schedule for my Afterworlds tour is slowly coming together, and I’ll be posting a draft of it here soon. But there’s one special event I want to mention now: On October 22, I’ll be doing an event in San Francisco to benefit NaNoWriMo. In this special presentation, I’ll talking about the craft of writing, the importance of NaNo, and other stuff of interest to young and not-so-young writers. This is a ticketed event, and you can buy tickets now! (See below.) The ticket price of $22 INCLUDES a copy of Afterworlds and a guaranteed place in the signing line. On top of…
  • Uglies Exclusive Edition/Gen Con

    12 Aug 2014 | 7:32 am
    Below is my Gen Con schedule, but first some interesting news: Early this year I returned to the Uglies universe to write a short story called “How David Got His Scar.” David, of course, has a scar through one eyebrow, the origin of which is the subject of much discussion. In the novels, Tally asks him about it, and he says, “I’ll tell you how I got it one day.” But he never does. Because he and I are perverse that way. In the Shay’s Story graphic novels, he STARTS to talk about it once, but only says something about being chased by a bear. Still perversely…
  • Japanese LB Covers

    11 Aug 2014 | 8:15 am
    Just got copies of the mass-market Japanese version of Behemoth, shown here with Leviathan. (Goliath isn’t out yet, but will be in October!) Love these covers. The art for these smaller editions is by the same artist as the larger format, Pablo Uchida. Here’s his site, where he often posts the studies for his covers. For example, the bigger format Goliath cover, with the studies bloew: Too bad novels don’t get alternate covers, like comic books sometimes do. It would have been cool to have seen all four. More cool Levithan art is coming soon, including an incredible model of…
  • Reskinned

    20 Jul 2014 | 9:09 am
    Behold the new website, reskinned in honor of Afterworlds (which now has its own page at last). I hope you enjoy the new look. Let me know in the comments below if anything is broken anywhere, especially in the Forum. Next week I’ll be at San Diego Comic Con, so if you’re there come see my panel, Sunday at 1PM or come to my signing at the Mysterious Galaxy Booth (#1119) on Saturday, 1:00p.m. – 1:30p.m. If you’re in San Diego but not going to Comic Con, come see me at the The Yellow Book Road Bookstore, where I’ll be talking about Leviathan and Afterworlds. The Yellow…
  • On Tour in 2014 (Updated)

    25 Jun 2014 | 11:37 am
    With Afterworlds coming out, I’ll be traveling and making appearances all year long. The tour in September and October isn’t set yet, but here are a few places I’ll definitely be: Comic Con San Diego, CA July 24-27 Signing at the Mysterious Galaxy Booth (#1119) Saturday, July 26 1:00p.m. – 1:30p.m. My books will be on sale there too! “What’s Hot in YA?” panel Sunday, July 27 1:00p.m. – 2:00p.m. Room: 25ABC Signing afterward in the Sails Pavilion: AA09 02:30 PM – 03:30 PM The Yellow Book Road Bookstore Just me, talking about Leviathan and…
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  • The long day

    20 Aug 2014 | 4:48 am
    You can’t get into Charlotte Square before 9.30. I’d do well to remember that, and I could – and should – stay in bed for longer. But a witch can always read, so on Tuesday morning time was killed with Theresa Breslin’s Ghost Soldier. Thanks to Theresa’s generosity I was able to be her husband for the morning. Not as nice a one as her regular Mr B, but I did my best. And I can confirm that while I was in the authors’ events prep area, I didn’t hear anything. At all. Then I went along to Theresa’s school event with Mary Hooper, and…
  • Dr Book

    19 Aug 2014 | 4:33 pm
    They think of everything. Visitors to the children’s bookshop have had the opportunity of consulting Dr Book. He/they looked really friendly and I was awfully tempted to ask them something. Like, what will become of my blog? But I was a little afraid of what the answer might be, so didn’t.
  • Was it Franz Ferdinand’s fault?

    19 Aug 2014 | 6:22 am
    My second WWI event participants agreed that the war would have happened anyway. Things were tense in Europe. School events are the best. The topics seem more interesting and the theatres are full, and the questions asked by young audiences are sometimes good, sometimes a little unexpected. I successfully became 13 again for a whole morning listening first to Theresa Breslin and Mary Hooper discuss their WWI novels with chair Jane Sandell. Theresa’s Remembrance has been re-issued and Mary has a brand new novel out, Poppy. For added interest Theresa brought along a hand grenade. She…
  • Treasures and mysteries

    18 Aug 2014 | 8:08 pm
    It’s interesting going to a two-author event where you have read one writer’s books but know nothing about the other’s. They will obviously have been paired for a reason. I know that Michelle Harrison is quite famous, but I still haven’t read any of her books. Charlie Fletcher, on the other hand, I have come across a few times. This event was good in that it had a large number of readers of the right age group, plus the unavoidable parents. And, erm, me and a few more un-accompanied adults. Calum McGhie, who chaired, let Charlie and Michelle fight it out as to who…
  • The Siobhan Dowd Trust Memorial Lecture #1

    18 Aug 2014 | 7:38 am
    Having been – sort of –  ‘in’ on Siobhan Dowd’s memorial trust since its start, there was no way I wouldn’t go and hear Patrick Ness deliver (such a posh word) the first lecture in aid of the trust. He is well known for calling a spade a spade, so my feeling was that it wouldn’t be boring. It wasn’t. Introduced by Tony Bradman, Patrick got his usual superstar greeting from the audience (I’m trusting there were lots of young people in the theatre…), before offering us his 90 minute talk in 28 minutes. He talks fast when he gets…
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    Confessions of a Bibliovore

  • Book Review: A Certain October by Angela Johnson

    16 Aug 2014 | 3:58 pm
    Book: A Certain OctoberAuthor: Angela JohnsonPublished: 2012Source: Local LibraryWhen she's in a horrible accident that kills a friend and severely injures her seven-year-old brother, Scotty feels responsible - for Kris's death, for Keone's injuries. It's all her fault, but there's no way she can make up for it. In the face of her helplessness, Scotty starts to do things to help other peoples' lives, and that might be just enough to get her through this October alive.It's always hard for me to characterize an Angela Johnson book. They don't seem to have beginnings or ends, you feel like…
  • Book Review: Beautiful Music for Ugly Children by Kirstin Cronn-Mills

    9 Aug 2014 | 9:19 am
    Book: Beautiful Music for Ugly ChildrenAuthor: Kirstin Cronn-MillsPublished: 2012Source: Local LibraryIn the studio, Gabe runs his community radio show, "Beautiful Music for Ugly Children." He plays eclectic mixes and chats over the airwaves to night owls just like him. In the studio is the only place Gabe can truly be himself. Because to the outside world, Gabe is Liz, and Liz is female.But Gabe has always known he's male, even if it's a scary thing to declare that to the world. As his radio show gains a cult following and he starts to dream of bigger and better (a career in radio, a life as…
  • Book Review: A Song for Bijou by Josh Farrar

    2 Aug 2014 | 9:40 pm
    Book: A Song for BijouAuthor: Josh FarrarPublished: 2013Source: Local LibraryWhen Alex spots the beautiful girl in the corner store, that's it for him. He's in looooooove. He has to find a way to get to know her. But Bijou Doucet isn't so sure about this strange American boy. Back home in Haiti, she was never allowed to spend time with any boy outside of her family, and she's not entirely sure she wants to defy that for a boy who can't seem to talk to her without tripping over his own feet.Determined friends and creative thinking get the two into each other's company, and they shyly stumble…
  • Reading Roundup: July 2014

    1 Aug 2014 | 4:19 pm
    By the NumbersTeen: 10Tween: 4Children: 6SourcesReview Copies: 7Library: 9StandoutsTeen: Sinner by Maggie StiefvaterMy two favorite secondary characters from the Shiver series get their own book! Isabel and Cole are each broken in their own way and it's fascinating to watch them trying to line up their jagged edges.Tween: The One and Only Ivan by Katherine ApplegateI don't always love the Newbery picks, even if I can see why they won. That said, I both appreciated AND loved this story of a lonely, artistic gorilla.Children: Captain Underpants and the Tyrannical Retaliation of the Turbo Toilet…
  • Book Review: The Lost Girl by Sangu Mandanna

    26 Jul 2014 | 5:07 pm
    Book: The Lost GirlAuthor: Sangu MandannaPublished: 2012Source: Local LibraryEva has always known that her life doesn't belong to her. She is an echo. Like the backup of a hard drive, her sole purpose is to absorb all the details of another girl's life, so that if that first girl dies, she's on hand to step in.But Eva wants her own life, not Amarra's. She wants to create art, she wants adventures that haven't already happened to somebody else, she wants to love the boy she picks and not the one Amarra loves. Then Amarra dies, and Eva must travel from England to India to take her place. The…
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    ReadPlus Review Blog

  • Rescue on Nim's island by Wendy Orr

    19 Aug 2014 | 6:17 pm
    Allen & Unwin, 2014. ISBN 9781743316788. (Age: 9+) Highly recommended. Conservation, Sustainability, Island life, Adventure. After the first two successful stories of Nim and her island (Nim's island, and Nim at sea) it is a pleasure to read another about this resourceful child living with her father, Jack on a remote island now a wildlife sanctuary. Conservation and sustainability are the undeniable themes of this book, and are woven skillfully into the story. Jack has allowed a group of scientists on the island to further his research into biofuel using algae. Nim is surprised that he…
  • Badudu stories by May L. O'Brien

    19 Aug 2014 | 6:14 pm
    Fremantle Press, 2014. ISBN 9781922089823. (Age: 6-10) Recommended. Chapter book, Aboriginal themes, Early learning, Western Australia. Four short stories, first published by May L. O'Brien in 1994 have been collected together to contribute to the growing store of literature about Aboriginal history. In these tales, O'Brien tells short snappy stories of her time at the Mount Margaret Mission, near Kalgoorlie where she received her European education. In some schools it was forbidden to speak their native tongue, but not so here. She was encouraged to learn English but the children were able…
  • Cryptic casebook of Coco Carlomagno and Alberta: The quivering quavers by Ursula Dubosarsky

    19 Aug 2014 | 6:10 pm
    Puzzles and illustrations by Terry Denton. Allen & Unwin, 2014. ISBN 9781743319512. (Age: Middle primary and adults) Highly recommended. This is a new to me series by the ever reliable Ursula Dubosarsky. This is a funny mystery when Alberta receives a coded letter from Coco to come to fly to South America and help him solve a mystery. La Bella Cucharita the stupendous guinea pig opera star is about to return to the stage for the first time since a disaster earlier in her career. A series of threatening coded notes have been received by her and Coco is puzzled by their meaning. In a…
  • The Last Apprentice: The Painted War by Imogen Rossi

    19 Aug 2014 | 6:05 pm
    Hot Keys Books, 2014. ISBN 9781471402616. Recommended by readers 12+. Imogen Rossi's A Painted War, the conclusion to The Last Apprentice series illustrates a Renaissance like no other. With magical paintings and a paintbrush-turned-key, this novel puts a spin to a classic historic moment of time. But did it fulfil my need for a book that was going to keep me on my toes? This book unfortunately didn't hit the mark with me. Although the concept was well thought out and original, it had lost its spark. A Painted War is a classic tale about good vs. evil and the struggle of faith when things are…
  • Ciao EJ! by Susannah McFarlane

    19 Aug 2014 | 6:01 pm
    EJ12 bk 18. LemonFizz Media, 2014. ISBN 9781921931666. Recommended for readers from 8-10 years of age. Emma Jack's eighteenth mystery adventure takes the SHINE Stars off to Italy. Famous statues are mysteriously being targeted, stained with black paint and the combined skills of the team are needed to investigate the problem. This novel has all the elements the fans love. There's EJ12's expertise in cracking codes, new charms for their bracelets with special powers, an evil mastermind with a wicked plan and a team of talented girls whose goal is to defeat the enemy. EJ12's charm bracelet…
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    There's a Botticelli Angel Inside, Snapping Beans:

  • Wearing your heart on your… whole torso

    1 Aug 2014 | 10:41 pm
    Via my dear friend Jess, here is a way you can wear an entire book on your shirt. An actual entire book.
  • I wrote a personal disability article.

    13 Jun 2014 | 2:06 pm
    It's posted at xojane, if you're curious.
  • Trans Bodies, Trans Selves

    1 Jun 2014 | 10:34 pm
    I had the opportunity to see the book Trans Bodies, Trans Selves tonight. For people new to my blog who haven't heard of it, "Trans Bodies, Trans Selves is a resource guide for transgender populations, covering health, legal issues, cultural and social questions, history, theory, and more. It is a place for transgender and gender-questioning people, their partners and families, students, professors, guidance counselors, and others to look for up-to-date information on transgender life."I was at a party when I saw it, so I couldn't properly sit down and read, but I perused, and it looks pretty…
  • Some things to think about when writing thin characters.

    18 May 2014 | 6:59 pm
    Recently I wrote a post about some things that I wish authors would keep in mind when writing about fat characters. This post is a companion to that one. Not a parallel -- a companion. Here are some things that I wish authors would think about when they're writing a character who is thin.What are you hoping it says about a character, for them to be thin? What does their thinness symbolize about their actions, their ethics, their level of power?What does this character's thinness imply about anyone in the book who is not thin?What does the character's thinness imply about an alternate version…
  • Excellent post about mainstream coverage of YA lit and why it frustrates us.

    17 May 2014 | 2:48 pm
    Over at Teen Librarian Toolbox: Dear Media, Let me help you write that article on YA literature.
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    I'm Here. I'm Queer. What the Hell do I read?

  • Gender 101, episode #18 Redux: Being Trans Enough

    Lee Wind, M.Ed.
    20 Aug 2014 | 3:03 am
    Continuing my discussions with my gender queer friend Lucy, we explore Lucy's experiences with being seen in different circumstances as being either too trans or not trans enough. Here's the link, with the video below:Thanks, Lucy.Here are the comments from the original post, some of which reference a planned break in the roll-out of the Gender 101 series:ivanova said...I'm going to miss these Gender 101 videos and look forward to seeing them again in the spring. I have heard some things recently that echo what Lucy was saying about being considered not trans enough or too trans, such as some…
  • Replica - A YA Dystopian Future of Clones, Spies, Murder and A Gay Secret

    Lee Wind, M.Ed.
    18 Aug 2014 | 3:00 am
    Replica by Jenna BlackSixteen-year-old Nadia Lake’s marriage has been arranged with the most powerful family in the Corporate States. She lives a life of privilege even if she has to put up with paparazzi tracking her every move, every detail of her private life tabloid fodder. But her future is assured, as long as she can maintain her flawless public image—no easy feat when your betrothed is a notorious playboy.Nathaniel Hayes is the heir to the company that pioneered human replication: a technology that every state and every country in the world would kill to have. Except he’s more…
  • The Coldest Girl In Coldtown - Urban Fantasy Horror with a Transgender Character

    Lee Wind, M.Ed.
    15 Aug 2014 | 3:05 am
    The Coldest Girl In Coldtown by Holly BlackTana lives in a world where walled cities called Coldtowns exist. In them, quarantined monsters and humans mingle in a decadently bloody mix of predator and prey. The only problem is, once you pass through Coldtown’s gates, you can never leave.One morning, after a perfectly ordinary party, Tana wakes up surrounded by corpses. The only other survivors of this massacre are her exasperatingly endearing ex-boyfriend, infected and on the edge, and a mysterious boy burdened with a terrible secret. Shaken and determined, Tana enters a race against the…
  • Gender 101, Episode 17 Redux: The No Pronoun Preference

    Lee Wind, M.Ed.
    13 Aug 2014 | 3:03 am
    In this episode my gender queer friend Lucy explains how even well-intentioned questions about preferred gender pronouns from queer people and our allies can misfire - and then explains how to successfully navigate the conversation.I really am learning so much! Thanks, Lucy.Namaste,LeeHere are the comments on the original post:Kelly Robinson said...Very informative and makes so much sense. Pronouns take the place of a noun, so there's no reason they have to be used at all. (As we learned on Schoolhouse Rock, though, if your name is Rufus Xavier Sasaparilla, it can be tiring to say!)November…
  • WONDERland - A YA Mystery with Teen Outcasts and Three Queer Relationships

    Lee Wind, M.Ed.
    11 Aug 2014 | 3:00 am
    WONDERland by David-Matthew BarnesAfter her mother loses her battle to cancer, fifteen-year-old Destiny Moore moves from Chicago to Avalon Cove, a mysterious island in South Carolina. There, she starts a new life working part-time as a magician’s assistant and living with her eccentric uncle Fred and his hottie husband, Clark. Destiny is soon befriended by two outcasts, Tasha Gordon and Topher McGentry. She accepts their invitation to accompany them to a place called Wonderland, a former boarding house owned by the enigmatic Adrianna Marveaux. It’s there that Destiny meets and falls in…
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    Literacy, families and learning

  • Australian Children's Book of the Year Winners Announced

    Trevor Cairney
    17 Aug 2014 | 4:11 pm
    The Children’s Book Council of Australia (CBCA) Book of the Year Awards were announced on the 15th August in Canberra. This event always marks the beginning of Children’s Book Week. As usual, the winners and honour books are a fabulous collection. But for every book that wins or is an honour book, there are many more worthy books. Thankfully, the CBCA publishes a list of approximately 100 notable books each year. You can find the lists HERE.  1. Older Readers (Young Adult Readers)Winner 'Wildlife' by Fiona Wood (Pan)  Life? It's simple: be true to yourself.The tricky part…
  • Author & Illustrator Focus: Chris McKimmie

    Trevor Cairney
    14 Aug 2014 | 3:41 pm
    Chris McKimmie is a writer, illustrator and artist. His career has had several phases. In the 1970s he worked as a graphic designer and publications designer for the ABC, the National Parks and Wildlife Services and the University of WA Press. As well, he wrote, illustrated and designed a series of 8 children's books as well as designing many book covers. Later he moved to Queensland and established the illustration program at the Queensland College of Art, Griffith University. He has also applied his skills, knowledge and experience to film. In the 1980s he was production designer for the…
  • Helping toddlers to develop reading comprehension

    Trevor Cairney
    4 Aug 2014 | 5:43 am
    IntroductionI've written a number of times about comprehension on this blog and have also written books and articles on the topic (see some references at the end). This post is a revised version of one I wrote in 2013. My claim in many of these publications is that comprehension begins early; in fact, in the first years of life. By comprehension I mean the ability "to understand, interpret, appreciate and critique what we read, view, hear and experience." This might not sound like something preschoolers do, but it is! Young children begin to make sense of their world and all that is in it…
  • Getting Boys Excited About Reading: Ideas & Resources

    Trevor Cairney
    25 Jul 2014 | 5:02 am
    Well-known Australian writer Paul Jennings was asked by a grandmother one day at a signing to write something in it for her grandson "...that will make him want to read the book". He wrote "When you finish this book your grandmother will give you $20!" This isn't my perferred strategy but Paul felt it would work! There are other ways.We've known for years that girls make a faster start in reading in the early years. In the last 30 years the gap between the literacy achievements of boys and girls has widened in favour of girls. Professor William G. Brozo who is co-author of the book 'Bright…
  • Corporal Punishment in Schools: Can it be Justified?

    Trevor Cairney
    17 Jul 2014 | 6:04 am
    Kevin Donnelly, the co-chair of the Australian Federal Government's national curriculum review has backed the use of corporal punishment for ill-disciplined children in schools as long as the local school and community supports it. Not surprisingly, there has been widespread comment in Australian media. I'm old enough to have experienced 'corporal punishment' in the school. In fact as a young child I had been caned 39 times by the time I reached 3rd grade. I have interesting memories of it. First, my most vivid recollection is of the keen rivalry I had with another boy who was caned almost as…
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    The Book Chook

  • Children’s Book Review, Mr Wuffles

    19 Aug 2014 | 12:00 pm
    Children's Book Review by Susan Stephenson, www.thebookchook.comMr Wuffles is an almost wordless children’s picture book created by David Wiesner, and published in Australia by Random House. There are teacher notes available at Random House website. From the publisher:Mr Wuffles ignores all the toys people buy for him. He's not lazy, he's just very picky. Now Mr Wuffles has the perfect toy and he's ready to play. But it's not really a toy at all. It's something much more interesting . . . Take a look at the cover above. See that tiny bumpy cat toy between the feathery thing and toy mouse?
  • Children's Book Review and Activities, I'm a Dirty Dinosaur

    17 Aug 2014 | 12:00 pm
    Children's Book Review and Activities, I'm a Dirty Dinosaurby Susan Stephenson, www.thebookchook.comIt's Children's Book Week in Australia - YAY! What better week for me to review I’m a Dirty Dinosaur, a children’s picture book, written by Janeen Brian, illustrated by Ann James and published by Penguin Books Australia, 2013.Today I was lucky enough to do something I love. I shared a picture book with children that brought them to life! I’m a Dirty Dinosaur works very well as a picture book with pre-school, and I would also use it with primary classes. Recently I shared it with a…
  • Let’s Celebrate The Reading Hour, 2014!

    14 Aug 2014 | 12:00 pm
    Let’s Celebrate The Reading Hour, 2014!by Susan Stephenson, www.thebookchook.comNext week there’s a special day that’s a great way to add a little more literacy and literature into your kids’ lives. It’s The Reading Hour, officially held between 6.00pm and 7.00pm on Tuesday, August 19. But let’s face it, The Reading Hour can be celebrated anytime, and multiple times! The Reading Hour continues to inspire Australians working toward the shared goal of helping to lift literacy rates and the country becoming a nation of readers. Reading doesn’t have to be a massive undertaking in…
  • Children’s Book Review, Sleep Tight, Anna Banana!

    12 Aug 2014 | 12:00 pm
    Children’s Book Review by Susan Stephenson, www.thebookchook.comSleep Tight, Anna Banana! was written by Dominique Roques, illustrated by Alexis Dormal, translated into English by Mark Siegel and published by First Second Books (2014). You may recall I have also reviewed another First Second book, Fairy Tale Comics. I was intrigued to see First Second had published its first children’s picture book, wondering if it would include comic elements. It does! From the publisher: Anna Banana can't settle down tonight, even though her stuffed animal friends are tired and just want to sleep. They…
  • Schoolyard Stories: Inspire, Create, Publish

    10 Aug 2014 | 12:00 pm
    Schoolyard Stories: Inspire, Create, Publishby Sophia StefanosAsha and Claire from Quilpie State CollegeImagine if kids were excited about literacy and learning. Imagine the pride they would feel by seeing their work published in a REAL book. Schoolyard Stories publishes books created by children and families. Our vision is to change the way teachers teach, students learn and volunteers raise funds. It’s all about inspiring pride and the love of reading and writing through publishing, and it’s so easy!The publishing options on offer are vast:Portfolios are ideal for recording personal…
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    Gail Carson Levine

  • What's funny

    20 Aug 2014 | 5:55 am
    On July 13, 2014, Writer At Heart wrote, I'm having problems with my MC. I feel as though she isn't very developed. How do I get around to do this? Maybe it's because I don't think that she has a great sense of humor.carpelibris responded with these questions: Why doesn't she have a sense of humor? Is she overly serious? Socially awkward? Too literal-minded? The reason might give you clues to her personality.Is she in a situation where humor's important? Why? How does she respond? What problems does this cause for her?And Writer At Heart answered, No, she's not overly serious or any of that…
  • Moving Along

    6 Aug 2014 | 5:53 am
    Thanks to all for the questions. That was terrific! My list is healthy again, but questions are always welcome.On June 2, 2014, Sunny Smith wrote, Hey, I was wondering if any of you guys have any tips on how to spice up travel scenes so they aren't boring? I'm writing a book where the main characters are doing a lot of traveling and I'm learned quickly that if you don't spice it up it can get pretty boring really fast. So that’s what I've been doing, but I keep wondering how much spice is too much spice. Where's the line between making the reader so interested they can't stop reading and…
  • Defined by decisions

    23 Jul 2014 | 5:01 am
    Before the post, this is a call for questions. My long list is running down. I know I don’t add every question that comes in to my list. Some I don’t have a lot to say about, or I may have answered something similar recently. But if there’s anything about writing that plagues or confuses you or that you’ve always wondered about, this is a good time to ask. Poetry questions also welcome.On April 5, 2014, Farina wrote, If you have a character's, well, characteristics down in a description of him, can you give some advice for then writing that person in their own character, showing off…
  • Subplots and Slow-Cooking Romance

    9 Jul 2014 | 5:04 am
    On March 29, 2014, maybeawriter wrote, I noticed that I tend to rush through subplots. For example, in one story, I have my two MCs falling in love. They meet the first day, then they're already friends with hints of romance by the end of the second. I know shared life-threatening experiences tend to help people bond quickly, but it seems somehow too fast to me. In the same story, I have a (fundamentally good) character who considers himself a super villain, and I think he abandons his life philosophy too quickly. I think both subplots need to be slowed down. Any thoughts on how to pace…
  • Deadly but likable hero

    25 Jun 2014 | 7:18 am
    Here–ta da!–is the reveal of the cover for Writer to Writer, from Think to Ink:And here’s the new cover for Writing Magic:On March 23, 2014, Kenzi Anne wrote, So I have a predicament... The villain in my story needs to lose, and I was initially going to have him die. Unfortunately, I need the heroine of my story to be the one to defeat the villain, but I'm not sure how to do that without having my heroine outright kill the villain herself. I feel like she wouldn't be much of a hero since killing really isn't moral or likable for a heroic character...any thoughts?Elisa opined, Well,…
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  • Robin Williams and artists

    18 Aug 2014 | 3:01 am
    Clearly, people from all walks of life loved Robin Williams. His hilarity was one part of him, his incredible warmth and kindness was another. I think it’s particularly frightening for the artistic community, for so many of us also have a sad side we may hide behind, and this sadness informs our work more than the outside product might show.  Creative energy burst forth from Williams in a relentless cascade; he couldn’t contain it.  I’m lucky when I feel a trickle. I can’t imagine the roller coaster he must have been on. He was a sensitive soul who I think can be…
  • Children’s Book Art Auction Piece: Dr. Seuss Tribute

    13 May 2014 | 10:09 pm
      Here’s my donation to this year’s American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression (ABFFE) 2oth Annual Children’s Book Art Auction. This year’s illustration theme is a special dedication to Dr. Seuss. I’ve borrowed his characters, as you can see (I did add my own Who, and the Cat in the Hat is none other than Dr. Seuss himself). The giant instrument was from a story I wrote that was a bit Seussian, in its own way, and it seemed apropos here. I enjoyed doing the flat watercolors. He used black ink to shade and outline. I’ve used pencil here.
  • New Pieces with blue warthog

    4 Apr 2014 | 4:48 pm
    Here are two new children’s book illustrations for a postcard featuring a blue warthog and various other characters in part or whole for a story. I used a softer brush for this style than I usually do. I like the effect.  Guess this is my blue period?  
  • Creative Routines

    31 Mar 2014 | 10:08 am
    This fascinating poster is from the book Daily Rituals by Mason Currey, outlining the daily routines of famous creative people. We could all do to learn something from them. Ben Franklin would “Rise (early, of course), Wash, and address Powerful Goodness!”  Victor Hugo took public ice baths on the roof. Maya Angelou works “always in hotel or motel rooms. ” Some had some not-so-healthy habits—Honore de Balzac drank up to 50 cups of coffee per day, and Freud smoked 20 cigars per day (and they were just cigars). He also trimmed his beard every day. Maybe he…
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    The Divergent Series

  • 2 More Books to Read after Divergent or Hunger Games
    19 Aug 2014 | 12:25 am
    “The Giver” and “If I Stay” – The 2 Books to read next! After reading Divergent, Hunger Games, The Maze Runner, Mortal Instruments etc, from the list in my last post, you may be wondering where to go next for a great read. There are 2 more books that should grab your attention… and both will also be out as movies real soon too! 1. If I Stay If I Stay by Gayle Forman In a single moment, everything changes. Seventeen year-old Mia has no memory of the accident; she can only recall riding along the snow-wet Oregon road with her family. Then, in a blink, she…
  • Top 10 Books to Read after Reading the Divergent Series
    20 Apr 2014 | 11:21 pm
    A list of the Top 10 Books to read after reading the Divergent Series Here is a list of the Top 10 Books  to read after you have finished reading the Divergent Series and are stuck looking for your next series. (mainly trilogies, but one has 6 books) 1. The Maze Runner The Maze Runner series (3 books) by James Dashner, includes The Maze Runner, The Scorch Trials and The Death Cure. “When Thomas wakes up in the lift, the only thing he can remember is his name. He’s surrounded by strangers—boys whose memories are also gone.” Read the New York Times bestselling Maze Runner…
  • Allegiant Book review
    5 Apr 2014 | 6:09 pm
    Allegiant Book review Allegiant is the last book in the Divergent trilogy by author Veronica Roth. As with the other books, it was published by Harper Collins and completes the story line started in Divergent. It expands on the themes presented in the other two books and brings a compelling end that, while tragic on one hand, presents hope in the other. Expanding on the themes found in the first two books, the main character Tris, is now joined with a previously secondary character to form a perspective combined. This expansion to a perspective of two main characters allows the reader to…
  • Insurgent Book Review
    5 Apr 2014 | 6:06 pm
    Insurgent Book Review The second book in the Divergent trilogy, Insurgent is a novel by author Veronica Roth. Published by Harper Collins, Insurgent expands on the society and themes first explored in Divergent. It follows the main character, first introduced in the first book, as she navigates a society consisting of five factions that wrestle for eventual control over the city of Chicago. The themes of betrayal, romance bravery and courage are still main components with the added thrill of rebellion and heroism thrown in to complete the mix. Secondary characters are adequately represented…
  • Divergent Book Review
    5 Apr 2014 | 6:02 pm
    Divergent Book Review The first in a series of novels for young adults, by author Veronica Roth. Noted on the New York Bestseller list, Divergent is a novel that further expands the look and feel of the dystopian genre in young adult fiction. Similar in feel to the book Hunger Games, by author Suzanne Collins, Divergent looks more towards the internal personality of its characters and the resulting struggles in dealing with their identity and future. The novels tell of a dystopian future, in which children, at the age of sixteen, are evaluated by testing and then placed in factions. The…
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