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The official blog of JacketFlap.com. This is where we'll tell you about the latest features and happenings at JacketFlap.com. We'll also occasionally comment on the children's publishing industry as a whole.
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1. Live Pictures From the New Moon Premiere

One of the fun things about living in Los Angeles is the fact that movie premieres happen pretty regularly. I happened to be at lunch in Westwood Village today, and that's where New Moon is having its premiere. There are several thousand people fans lined up to see the stars, and they're screaming their heads off. Forget about parking. You can't find a parking spot for under $30. The craziest thing of all is that 500+ fans have been camping out along the street with sleeping bags and tents for the past four days. Wow, that's dedication!

Here are some pictures I took a few minutes ago. Here's wishing all of your books get a movie deal!

Tracy





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2. Meet the Winners of the JacketFlap OC Book Festival Booth Contest

The Orange County Children's Book Festival will be held this Sunday, Oct. 4, 2009 from 9:30AM - 4:30PM. The Festival is free to attend and is expected to draw 20,000 people. Just like last year, JacketFlap held a contest for authors and illustrators to win space in the booth to display, sign and sell their books. I'm excited to announce the six winners whom will be sharing the JacketFlap booth this weekend are Joy Allen, Erik Brooks, Merrily Kutner, Susan Lendroth, Dan Santat, and Ashley Wolff!

Following is some information on each of the winners. Please click on their names to visit their profiles and wish them congratulations!

Joy Allen will be promoting her latest work - PRINCESS PARTY (Putnam Children's Books). Joy's board book BABY SIGNS is on Oprah's website (Oprah.com) as recommended reading for infants ; she received the Oppenheim Toy Platinum Award for her artwork in books with American Girls; the Silver Angel Award for her illustrations in Mud Pie Annie (Zonderkidz); the Bank Street choice for BEING FRIENDS (Dial). She is the illustrator for the CAM JANSEN series (Viking).

Erik Brooks is an author and an illustrator. He will be promoting his latest illustration project - BOO'S SURPRISE (Henry Holt), which was written by Betsy Byars, and is a sequel to their 2006 collaboration BOO'S DINOSAUR. Erik has illustrated several books, including MONKEY BUSINESS: STORIES FROM AROUND THE WORLD, 2005 Bank Street "Best Book" and New York City Public Library's "100 Titles for Reading and Sharing" selection.

Merrily Kutner will be promoting THE ZOMBIE NITE CAFÉ (Holiday House), which won a Children's Moonbeam Award (gold medal) for best picture book of the year in the Holiday Category. She is also the picture book author of Z IS FOR ZOMBIE. Her next book ALPHABET MAGIC is forthcoming from Roaring Brook Press/Neal Porter Books in the fall of 2010. Merrily teaches an online course given through the UCLA Extension Writers Program entitled Structure Your Picture Books Like The Pros. She teaches a unique course on picture book diagramming and offers one-on-one online instruction and written critiques.

Susan Lendroth will be promoting OCEAN WIDE, OCEAN DEEP (Tricycle Press). Susan has had a lifelong fascination with history. The seaside setting of OCEAN WIDE, OCEAN DEEP, which follows her first picture book, WHY EXPLORE?, also depicts her love of the ocean. When she's not working on picture books, Susan writes essays and freelance travel articles for a variety of newspapers and magazines.

Dan Santat will be promoting BOBBY VS GIRLS (Arthur Levine Books). Dan appeared on the scene with his first book THE GUILD OF GENIUSES in 2004 (Arthur A Levine Books) which won several awards including the Marion Vanett Ridgeway Award for best debut author/illustrator. He illustrated the OTTO UNDERCOVER series written by Rhea Perlman and THE SECRET LIFE OF WALTER KITTY by Barbara Jean Hicks (Knopf). He is also the creator of the new animated series, "The Replacements" which is currently featured on ABC and the Disney Channel. He is currently working on THE DOMESTICATED FOUR (Arthur A. Levine Books) and illustrating THE GHOSTS OF LUCKLESS GULCH written by Anne Isaacs (Atheneum). Dan graduated with distinction from the Art Center, College of Design in 2001. He was recently one of the 2009 National Green Earth Book Winners.

Ashley Wolff will be promoting I CALL MY GRANDMA NANA and I CALL MY GRANDPA PAPA (Tricycle Press). Ashley is an author/illustrator of more than 60 books including ONLY THE CAT SAW, BLOCK CITY by Robert Louis Stevenson, BABY BELUGA by Raffi, STELLA AND ROY GO CAMPING, The Miss Bindergarten series by Joseph Slate, ME BABY, YOU BABY, SHE'LL BE COMIN' ROUND THE MOUNTAIN by Philemon Sturges and MAMA'S MILK by Michael Ross. Her books have won numerous state and national awards.

For directions and more information about the event, you can visit the event website at:

www.kidsbookfestival.com

Congratulations again to the winners, and if you're at the OC Book Festival this Sunday, please stop by the JacketFlap booth to say hi!

Tracy

1 Comments on Meet the Winners of the JacketFlap OC Book Festival Booth Contest, last added: 10/2/2009
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3. Win booth space at Orange County book festival - Aug 17th entry deadline

The Orange County Children's Book Festival is a huge interactive and fun family festival in southern California that invites children of all ages to experience the magic of books. This year's festival is scheduled for Sunday Oct. 4, 2009 from 9:30AM - 4:30PM. The Festival is free to attend and draws 20,000 people. A few of this year's featured authors and illustrators include Robin Preiss Glasser, Frank Beddor, Kathleen Krull, Kathryn Hewitt, Jim Gilbert, Paul Brewer, and Diane Adams.

JacketFlap had a booth at last year's festival, and it was a great success. We will have a booth again at this year's festival, and we're going to use it to help promote the work of our incredible members. We are giving away space in our booth for six people to sign autographs, display, and sell their books. To qualify, you must be a published author or illustrator of children's or young adult books, and at least one of your books has to be listed on your JacketFlap profile in your published works section. How do you enter? All you have to do is post a comment saying "I want the space" on the Event's page on JacketFlap:

http://www.jacketflap.com/eventdetail.asp?Event=1159


Six winners will be randomly selected from the entries between now and August 17th, 2009. If your name isn't selected, don't be too disappointed. JacketFlap's booth will have a flat screen monitor showing a slideshow of our members books. If you have books listed in the published works section of your JacketFlap profile, your books will appear on our monitor throughout the show.

Finally, there is also the opportunity (first come first served) to purchase time in one of the bookstores that are offering 3-hour blocks of time for $75. To find out how you can be a part of this wpnderful event, email the Cofounder and Executive Director Pat Burns - speakr@aol.com or call her Mobile - 949.836.4722. Visit www.KidsBookFestival.com for more information.

Best,
Tracy

2 Comments on Win booth space at Orange County book festival - Aug 17th entry deadline, last added: 8/13/2009
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4. Introducing JacketFlap Chat!

We've just released a new feature - JacketFlap Chat!

JacketFlap Chat lets you:

  • See which of your JacketFlap friends are online now
  • Chat live with your online JacketFlap friends
  • Leave messages for your offline friends
  • Visit friends' profiles or send offline messages
  • Share pages you are viewing while you chat
  • Get friends' activity updates as they happen
How to Use JacketFlap Chat

You can start a chat with online members in one of 2 ways:

1) Click the Friends Online link in the chat bar at the bottom of your screen:This will pop up a list of your JacketFlap friends that are online. Click their name, and a chat window will open where you can chat with that person. Type a message and hit return / enter. They'll hear a beep on their end, and a window will pop up with you message. It's that easy!

2) Look for the new Chat Now link when you're viewing someone's profile. The Chat Now link is only visible when the person is online. Click Chat Now, and a chat window will open where you can chat with that person. Receiving Notifications

In addition to chatting, the Chat Bar contains a Notifications alert system. When you receive a notification, you'll see the Notifications icon change colors to the right of the number of Friends Online. Click that icon, and a list of your new notifications will pop up.
Currently, you'll get notifications every time someone leaves a comment on your profile, invites you to be a friend, accepts your friend invitation, or sends you a message using the Send Email link on your profile. Please let us know if there's any other notifications we should add to the list.

Updating your Chat Preferences

By default, the only people that can chat with you are people on your JacketFlap friends list. However, you can also choose to allow the Chat Now link to be visible when you are online to all members or just certain types of members. To set your chat preferences, click the Account Settings link in the upper-left of JacketFlap. Then, scroll down to the JacketFlap Chat section to se your Chat preferences. Be sure to click the Save profile settings button when you are done.

For more information about JacketFlap Chat, you can read the JacketFlap Chat FAQ.
Please send us any feedback to info@jacketflap.com.

Happy chatting!
Tracy

4 Comments on Introducing JacketFlap Chat!, last added: 4/11/2009
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5. Amazing blog events during National Poetry Month


Hi everyone!

As you may know, April is National Poetry Month. Inaugurated by the Academy of American Poets in April 1996, National Poetry Month brings together publishers, booksellers, literary organizations, libraries, schools, and poets around the country to celebrate poetry and its vital place in American culture. To keep up on all the latest posts, be sure to bookmark JacketFlap's blog reader tag page for the keyword poetry.

Here are some examples of the blogs you'll want to visit every day in April and the really fantastic ways they're celebrating National Poetry Month:


Greg Pincus at GottaBook has put together a really fun celebration - the first annual 30 Poets/30 Days. Every day in April, he'll be posting a previously unpublished poem by a different poet. Here's the alphabetical list of who's participating:

Arnold Adoff, Jaime Adoff, Rebecca Kai Dotlich, Douglas Florian, Betsy Franco, Kristine O'Connell George, Charles Ghigna, Nikki Giovanni, Joan Bransfield Graham, Nikki Grimes, Mary Ann Hoberman, Lee Bennett Hopkins, X. J. Kennedy, Bruce Lansky, Julie Larios, J. Patrick Lewis, Pat Mora, Kenn Nesbitt, Linda Sue Park, Ann Whitford Paul, Gregory K. Pincus, Jack Prelutsky, Adam Rex, Jon Scieszka, Joyce Sidman, Marilyn Singer, April Halprin Wayland, Janet Wong, and Jane Yolen. Visit 30 Poets/30 Days and follow 30poets30days on Twitter.

Poetry Makers Series - At the Miss Rumphius Effect, Tricia Stohr-Hunt will be featuring interviews with 36 children's poets: Kenn Nesbitt, Rebecca Kai Dotlich, Avis Harley / Ann Whitford Paul, Joyce Carol Thomas, J. Patrick Lewis, Janet Wong, Joseph Bruchac, Ralph Fletcher / Steven Schnur, Jane Yolen, Linda Ashman / Julie Larios, Adam Rex, Marilyn Singer, Lee Bennett Hopkins, Georgia Heard, Joyce Sidman, Paul Janeczko, Arnold Adoff / Jaime Adoff, Joan Bransfield Graham, Bobbi Katz, Kristine O’Connell George, Jorge Argueta, Carole Boston Weatherford, Betsy Franco, Lisa Westberg Peters / Laura Purdie Salas, Calef Brown, Marilyn Nelson, Helen Frost / Sara Holbrook, Douglas Florian, Mary Ann Hoberman, and Pat Mora.

At Poetry For Children, Sylvia Vardell will be reviewing a new children's poetry book every day.

At the Pencil Talk blog, Anastasia Suen will be collecting school poems written by children throughout April, and she's posting one each day.

And, of course, there's Poetry Friday every week. Keep checking searching JacketFlap's blog reader for the keyword poetry all throughout April to see the latest posts.

Enjoy!
Tracy

2 Comments on Amazing blog events during National Poetry Month, last added: 4/5/2009
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6. How to Filter your My Updates page

An often requested feature from JacketFlap's members has been the ability to filter the content in our My Updates page. I'm happy to report that we've added that feature. You can now use the links in the left column of your My Updates page to see just specific types of updates. For those of you not already using My Updates, just try clicking the My Updates link in the upper-right corner of any page on JacketFlap while you are logged in.

For example, to see pictures recently added by your friends, click the "Pictures added" link. To see books that your friends are reading, you can click the "Books added" link. By default, the updates displayed are those added since you last logged in to JacketFlap. You can also change the time period by changing the "Since" pull-down menu to a different time period. For example, change the Since time period to "Past week" and click the "New blog posts" link to see the blog posts by your friends in the past week. Updates also work for more than just your friends. You can see updates made by choosing Member Updates under the Community tab in our main navigation bar.

On a related note, we've also removed the updates posted when I personally add someone to my friends list. That means you should no longer see a stream of updates like "Tracy Grand added Jane Doe to her friends list". I know those were a bit overwhelming! Please post a comment here if you have any thoughts on the new feature.

Tracy

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7. Congratulations to Children's Choice Award finalists - get the widget!

The finalists for the 2009 Children's Choice Book Awards were recently announced. I'm excited to say that books illustrated by three of JacketFlap's members are among the finalists! Please join me in congratulating the three finalists by clicking their names below and leaving a congratulations comment on their profiles:

Willow, illustrated by Cyd Moore

Sort it Out!, illustrated by Sherry Rogers

Those Darn Squirrels!, illustrated by Daniel Salmieri

Voting for the finalists is now open. Children and teens are able to cast their vote for their favorite books, author, and illustrator at bookstores, school libraries, and online until Sunday, May 3, 2009. Close to 15,000 children and teens from around the US spent months reading and evaluating books submitted by publishers. The five favorite books published in 2008 in each of these categories are open for a nation-wide vote in March and April 2009 in each of four grade categories: K-2nd, 3rd-4th, 5th-6th, and Teen as well as Favorite Author, and Favorite Illustrator. The winner in each category will be named at a gala during Children's Book Week on May 12th, 2009 in New York City as part of Children's Book Week (May 11-17, 2009), the oldest national literacy event in the United States.

To enhance the awareness of the awards, the Children's Book Council is working with JacketFlap again this year to create a Children's Choice Book Awards Widget, which you can see below:

Powered by JacketFlap.com


The Widget displays a different finalist book every time it loads on a web site or blog, and there are links where people can learn more about the books and the nominees or click to vote. You can get the Widget for your own blog or web site here:
http://www.jacketflap.com/widgets/widget.asp?widgetname=cbc2

Please spread the word to children so they can vote. Remember, voting ends May 3, 2009!

Tracy

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8. Enter JacketFlap's contest for space at the Orange County Children's Book Festival

Hi everyone!

As you may know, The Orange County Children's Book Festival is a huge interactive and fun family festival in southern California that invites children of all ages to experience the magic of books. The Fifth Annual Orange County Children's Book Festival is scheduled for Sunday Oct. 5, 2008 from 10:00AM - 4:00PM. The Festival is free to attend and draws 18,000 people. A few of this year's featured celebrity and popular authors are Jamie Lee Curtis, Gary Soto, and Barney Saltzberg; and Guy Gilchrist and Steve Gray are two featured illustrators.

JacketFlap will have a booth at this year's festival, and we're going to use it to help promote the work of our incredible members. We are giving away space in our booth for six people to sign autographs, display, and sell their books. To qualify, you must be a published author or illustrator of children's or young adult books, and at least one of your books has to be listed on your JacketFlap profile in your published works section. How do you enter? All you have to do is post a comment saying "I want the space" on the Event's page on JacketFlap.

Six winners will be randomly selected from the entries between now and September 19th, 2008. If your name isn't selected, don't be too disappointed. We'll also have a flat screen monitor showing a slideshow of our members books. If you have books listed in the published works section of your JacketFlap profile, your books will appear on our monitor throughout the show.

If you want to purchase space in this year's festival, authors, illustrators and storytellers have the opportunity to participate on one of three presentation stages, personal and/or shared exhibitor booths and in one of three book stores. Contact the Festival organizers (see below) for how you can bring your books to thousands of families in southern California. We're told that the spaces are almost full, so hurry up!

Exhibitor Booths are fully enclosed with three walled. As a (full booth) exhibitor you'll be posted in the Festival guide. You will also be given a 6 X 1 foot name banner, a table, two chairs and a waste paper basket. Everything is included at a cost of $495 plus all day exposure to thousands of families. Authors (up to two) are permitted to share a booth. Martha's Bookstore is featuring author book signings for three hours time slots for $75.

To find out how you can be apart of this extraordinary event, email the Cofounder and Executive Director Pat Burns - speakr@aol.com or call her Mobile - 949.836.4722. Visit www.KidsBookFestival.com for more information. You can also see a short video about the Festival on YouTube:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e7EKVYZqCTY

Best,
Tracy

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9. Zoom! JacketFlap is MUCH faster now!

We've been hard at work for the last several weeks improving the software that powers JacketFlap. I don't know about you, but for me, the speed increase is incredible! Pages that took 10 - 20 seconds to load last week now load in less than a second. We have a bunch of new features that we'll be releasing shortly, but we want to be sure the overall site is as fast as possible first. Please leave a comment here if you run into a slow-loading pages or other problems, and we'll get them fixed ASAP.

Thanks!
Tracy

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10. JacketFlap BEA Meet-up!

I had a great time this weekend at BEA (BookExpo America). Walking the floor in the expo halls was a great deal of fun. It's truly overwhelming when you see how many new titles are being promoted. I have a great deal of respect for the publicists, sales people, marketing people, authors and illustrators that tirelessly worked to promote their titles to the tens of thousands of booksellers, librarians and other people walking the floor (like me). My favorite part of the show was meeting hundreds of JacketFlap members, many for the first time.

Some people literally shouted out to me as I walked the floor wearing my JacketFlap hat. Then came the JacketFlap meet-up, which we held Saturday at 3pm. It was a great time! People got to meet virtual friends in person, and there was a lot of hugging and great conversation. I'm not sure how many people were there in total, but I know we gave out about 200 hats during the show. If you were there and didn't get a hat, please send me a message from my profile page with your address, and I'll put one in the mail. It was terrific being able to meet so many JacketFlap members. We're now planning to have a meet-up during ALA. I'll post details about that in an upcoming post. I've posted some of the photos from the meet-up below. If you were there, please feel free to post a message in the comments. I really loved meeting everyone, and I can't wait for our next event!

Best,
Tracy


The one & only Peter Hannan "Joe Hemingmouse", creator of the Nickelodeon animated series CatDog, and author of the series Super Goofballs talking with Ron Yurman, founder of Storytime To Go and Short Hills Media Group.
Our wonderful Flappers!
Thora Gabriel, Author of Chessie Bligh and the Scroll of Andelthor meeting another JacketFlap member.

BLISS literary agency international principal agent Jenoyne Adams with other JF memebers, including Cynthia Polansky.


Pat Burns (Co-founder, Orange County Children's Book Festival) with youpublish.com Roice N. Krueger and founder of youpublish.com and The Creator of Chicken Soup for the Soul Mark Victor Hansen.
The amazing Editor of Blooming Tree Press and Writer's Digest 2008 101 Best Websites for Writers - Buried in a Slushpile - Madeline Smoot with Cynthia Polansky, the fabulous author of Far Above Rubies.
Pat Burns (Co-founder, Orange County Children's Book Festival) and author of Grandparents Rock: The Grandparenting Guide for the Rock-N-Roll Generation.

Other members who stopped by at the meet-up were Elizabeth Bluemle author of My Father the Dog and owner of The Flying Pig Bookstore, Michael Reisman author of The Gravity Keeper, and Debi Durst owner of Holy City Zoo Productions, to name a few.

More JF flappers we saw throughout the expo were author & illustrator Ev Stanton, illustrator JR Johnson, Andy Mitchell, illustrator & toymaker Marilyn Scott-Waters, Jay Asher author of the incredible book THIRTEEN REASONS WHY, Sondra LaBrie of Kane Miller Publishing, Mom's Choice Awards Dawn Matheson & Tara Paterson, Laurel Snyder author of Inside the Slidy Diner, and Mary McAveney vice president of marketing at Simon & Schuster.

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11. The server move is complete!

As many of you noticed, JacketFlap has been busily moving our servers over the last few days. Why did we move? Well, for the second time in the past year, we grew too large for our prior host's servers. We decided it was time for an upgrade. As of this morning, JacketFlap is now hosted on a set of brand new, much faster servers at ServerBeach. They hosted YouTube, so I think we're in good hands. Thanks everyone for your emails of support and your patience during the move. I'm sure there are still a few kinks to work out, so please post a comment if you see anything not working right. We'll get it taken care of right away.

Now that the move is pretty much behind us, we can get back to finishing up a bunch of great new features. I'll post about them soon!

Tracy

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12. Children's Choice Book Awards Widget

Children's Book Week is approaching, and a new feature of this year's Children's Book Week is a national child-selected book awards program called the Children's Choice Book Awards. Kids across the country can vote electronically online or in their school, library, or bookstore via paper ballot for the five favorite books published in 2007 in five categories - three grade categories: K-2, 3-4, 5-6 as well as Favorite Author, and Favorite Illustrator. The winner in each category will be named at a gala during Children's Book Week 2008 in New York City. You can see a list of the 25 finalists as well as information on voting at the following URL:
http://www.bookweekonline.com

To enhance the awareness of the awards, the Children's Book Council worked with JacketFlap to create a Children's Choice Book Awards Widget. The Widget displays a different finalist book every time it loads on a web site or blog, and there are links where people can click to vote for the Children's Choice Book Awards. You can get the Widget for your own blog or web site here:
http://www.jacketflap.com/widgets/widget.asp?widgetname=cbc1

In the past 24 hours, Publishers, authors, illustrators, librarians, and children's literature bloggers have been adding the widget to their blogs and web sites, effectively bringing the voting to the places where people learn about children's books. Below are some examples where you can see the widget live from the 40+ web sites that have installed the Children's Choice Book Awards Widget in the past 24 hours:

Publisher blog examples:
http://charlesbridge.blogspot.com/
http://kanemillerkidlit.blogspot.com/

Author blog examples:
http://beverlystowemcclure.blogspot.com/
http://debloganwrites.blogspot.com/
http://umakrishnaswami.blogspot.com/
http://mpbarker.blogspot.com/

Illustrator blog examples:
http://dulemba.com/blogger.html

Librarian blog examples:
http://shelf-employed.blogspot.com/

Children's Literature blog examples:
http://cwim.blogspot.com/
http://thereadingtub.blogspot.com/
http://writingforchildrencenter.com/
http://scbwi-za-news.blogspot.com/

Robin Adelson and the team at the Children's Book Council have really done a great job with this year's Children's Book Week! Be sure to visit the web site at: http://www.bookweekonline.com

Tracy

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13. JacketFlap article in Publisher's Weekly


In case you missed it, Sally Lodge wrote a great article about JacketFlap in Publishers Weekly's Children's Bookshelf on 2/14/2008. It was a perfect present for Valentines Day! The article is titled "JacketFlap on the Rise", and you can read it here:

http://www.publishersweekly.com/article/CA6531941.html?nid=2788


Tracy

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14. A fresh cup of Joe on JacketFlap

It's Monday, and you know what that means... a nice fresh cup of Joe is waiting for you on JacketFlap. Joe Hemingmouse, that is...


Here's a link where you can leave a comment and read comments by Joe himself and other JacketFlap members.

Enjoy!
Tracy

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15. Award winning JacketFlap members and new Joe Hemingmouse

What a great way to start the week!

New Joe Hemingmouse

As many of you know, our new Joe Hemingmouse cartoon by Peter Hannan is updated every Monday, and this week's cartoon is to the right.

As always, you can click the link below this week's cartoon on our home page to leave a comment and read comments from other members.

If you missed last week's debut cartoon, you can still see and comment about it.

Awards

I've been busily reading posts in our blog reader about the ALA (American Library Association) award winners, which were announced yesterday. Please join me in congratulating two JacketFlap members for their award winning books:

Tracie Vaughn Zimmer is the winner of a Schneider Family Book Award for Reaching for Sun!


You can leave a comment on Tracie's JacketFlap profile to congratulate her.






And, Yuyi Morales received the Pura Belpre Illustrator Award for Los Gatos Black on Halloween.

You can leave a comment on Yuyi's JacketFlap profile to congratulate her.






Congratulations to Tracie, Yuyi, and all the other winners!

Tracy

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16. JacketFlap.com Signs CatDog Creator Peter Hannan for Weekly Cartoon about Children's Book Publishing

Hi everyone!

I wanted to share some exciting news with you. We've signed CatDog creator Peter Hannan to create a weekly cartoon on JacketFlap about Children's Book Publishing. The cartoon, "Joe Hemingmouse", will follow the trials and tribulations of a mouse aspiring to be a children's book writer and illustrator. The first cartoon is live on JacketFlap's home page now:

http://www.jacketflap.com

As you may already know, Peter created and executive produced the popular Nickelodeon animated television series CatDog and is the author and illustrator of Super Goofballs, a series of illustrated chapter books from HarperCollins. He has long wanted to write a regular cartoon about the life of a writer/illustrator. Here's what Peter said about why he's working with us on this cartoon - "After working in television with a big crew and bigger hysterics, writing and illustrating children's books is a refreshing change of pace. However, the independence can sometimes feel curiously like solitary confinement. Any creative endeavor is a series of setbacks and successes, and it's crucial to keep one's sense of humor. Luckily, I've always found my foibles, and those of friends and colleagues, funny."

Please take a look at Joe Hemingmouse, and use the discussion link below the cartoon to let us know what you think!

Tracy

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17. JacketFlap mourns the passing of Olive Evans

I would like to take a moment to pass along the sad news that a wonderful member of our JacketFlap community passed away a couple of weeks ago. Olive Evans was the author of “The Thrift Store Bears." Olive's husband David sent me the following email. I have included the full article below. I hope you find it as inspiring as I do. This letter is a reminder to enjoy every minute of life. Olive you will be missed. From this point on, when I see a bear in a thrift shop, I will think of you.

" This was an article that Olive was working on before she went into the final decline. It's a little rough but considering her condition it is wonderful, positive and enlightening, A lesson for us all. David"

Olive Evans, January 16, 1933 - November 25, 2007

My Life

Olive Evans was born in England before the start of World War II to Maude and
Harold .Wheeler. Since she and her twin sister Sylvia were Londoners (Cockneys from East Ham) they became evacuees when London began undergoing heavy bombing. When hearing that they were to be evacuated to Wales, their father put his foot down and said “My daughters will not be going to a foreign country” (or words to that effect), so they went to Felixstowe, on the English east coast, which was a mistake. Her family took us back to London and I’m afraid, into the worst of the bombing. Finally we went to the county of Buckinghamshire with our mother and new baby sister.

At the end of the war, my identical twin sister and I continued our education first in high school in Buckinghamshire and then onto London University where we graduated with degrees in elementary education. We both taught in England for a number of years in small village schools where I had all the children between 4years of age up to eight years of age. It was a wonderful experience and I learned the importance of poetry and even simple plays have on children’s education development.

Fourteen years later after my father’s refusal to allow us to be evacuated to Wales, Olive told her parents that she would be marrying a Welshman, her father put the other foot down and said: “My daughter will absolutely not be marrying a foreigner.” However, his future son-in-law managed to charm him, as only Welshmen can do, and her father finally decided that the Welsh weren’t such a bad lot after all.

While raising two very young sons, they moved from England to Nova Scotia, then to Rochester, New York, where their third son was born. After four years, they moved to Manhattan Beach, California, where they arrived in 1968. They rented an old redwood house two blocks from the ocean, then bought it, and are living in it still. As the boys became older, Olive returned to Cal. State University Dominguez Hills and earned an English Literature degree and obtained a California early childhood teaching credential. Then I then taught for a couple of years in a private school helping children with learning and emotional disabilities.

Olive’s life changed substantially the day she received a telephone call from the Manhattan Beach Recreation Department’s Program Director asking her to teach a belly dancing class. The lady obviously had the wrong number, for Olive had absolutely no skill in that area, although she could dance the polka quite well after a drink or two. The director, not to be put off, asked Olive if she would like to teach a drama class. This sounded more interesting, and before she knew what had hit her, she was down at the Joslyn Center teaching drama to 8 – 12 year old children. Then she began writing plays for the children to perform, and finally she decided to take some acting classes to help her with her teaching. She tried out for the part of a Cockney maid in a British farce and was soon acting in several plays produced by the City of Manhattan Beach. Olive also had lead parts in the Santa Cruz Shakespeare Festival and other acting adventures.

She also managed to become part of a vaudeville revue called “Av’A Banana” and because of her age (middle at that time) and her inability to sing and dance at the same time, she was considered “comedic.” That probably explains why her solo performance consisted of the old music hall song “Nobody Loves A Fairy When She’s Forty,” a naughty song with sexual innuendos of which she was quite unaware until the day the troupe performed at a birthday party for a television producer and his friends. Since she was- well, rather flat chested, she was advised to put a bag of birdseed in each ‘cup’.

She remained a naughty fairy for two years and then decided it was time to work with children as a storyteller. So she became “The Fairytale Godmother” and for the next thirteen years she traveled to schools, churches and birthday parties with her own stories, costumes and sets and turned the stories into plays in which the children could perform. She made the costumes and headbands and designed the forest scenery, which all fitted snugly into her little red Ford Escort.

In 1999 her husband was diagnosed with prostate cancer. He dealt with the surgery and subsequent side effects with bravery and humor. The following year Olive was diagnosed with breast cancer. She had a bilateral mastectomy, two rounds of chemotherapy, followed by radiation, the usual regimen for this type of cancer. Since she had retired from storytelling she was able to concentrate on returning to good health as quickly as possible, and David was very instrumental in doing everything he could to see that she would eat properly and rest.

But chemotherapy can be a downer at the best of times, and there were times when Olive had a hard time trying to stay positive. That’s when she decided she had to do something to keep her mind off the treatment she was going through. She needed to write, because she had always found that writing took her to a happy and creative place. She couldn’t write about how she felt, but she could write about the ‘thrift store bears’ she had bought over the years from thrift stores all over the L.A. area. She had forty-two bears at the time, so she set herself a goal to write about each bear, and to write poems rather than stories. She had never written poetry before and it didn’t come easily to her, so she had to concentrate for hours finding appropriate rhymes.

After getting started, Olive settled down into a routine, writing each day, going for chemotherapy treatments and visiting the doctor’s office in between. As her poems began to improve, she would sometimes take the bear and poem to the Wellness Community, and would read the poem to her weekly support group, who encouraged her to bring more poems and bears to the meetings. When she had finally finished her forty-second poem, a dear friend told her to take the poems to another friend who was an artist and loved bears of the teddy variety. Pat Woolley wanted to paint them, Olive picked out twenty seven of the better poems and with encouragement from friends and family, she and Pat decided they would self-publish the book. Olive’s husband, who many, many years ago had received training in printing, took on the tremendous task of scanning the illustrations on to the computer, organizing the written words with the illustrations and making a PDF file which would be used by a printing company to produce the book. Then another good friend, Jim Furmston, who is a well known musician and composer, persuaded Olive to record the poems in his studio, and when that was done, he decided to write music to accompany each bear poem.

In August, 2004, 2000 books arrived from Taiwan, and shortly afterwards, the CD was available to add to the book. “The Thrift Store Bears” book and CD were ready for sale.

Olive considers this time to have been one of the most productive, creative and joyful times of her life. The book has brought so much happiness, so many new friends, and has made her realize that having cancer was part of the journey she had to take. She also realizes that she has a spiritual strength she never knew she had, and the love and support of friends as well as strangers, who continue to encourage her and bring laughter to her life. She is now “The Teddy Bear Lady” and goes into schools with a select few of her thrift store bears to read their poems to the children. She has written a second book of
poems about other bears in her home, which Pat illustrated and Jim composed music to go with the narration and also recorded the CD. Olive intends to continue reading the poems to young children, encouraging them to face life’s challenges and to be proud of their accomplishments. Though she continues to fight cancer and has to have a another form of chemotherapy weekly, she continues to draw positive thoughts and inspiration from her writing and, of course, from her friends The Thrift Store Bears who, like her, are survivors.

Olive leaves her husband of 50 years, David, her sons Gareth (Dianna) of Newport Beach, Huw and her grandchildren Alex and Bianca of Stockholm, Sweden and David (Alicia) and nine week old twin girl granddaughters (Audrey and Gabriella) of Culver City, her sister Valerie (John) and niece Sandra in Sidney, Australia and twin girl grand nieces

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18. 465 Robert's Snow Posts so Far!

Wow! We're nearing the end of week 2 of the fantastic multi-blog effort promoting the Robert's Snow Auction. I just did a search for Robert's Snow in the JacketFlap Blog Reader, and there have been an incredible 465 blog posts mentioning Robert's Snow. As many of you know, there are 4 to 5 regularly scheduled "official" blog posts across the kidlitosphere featuring the work of the wonderful illustrators contributing snowflakes to this year's auction. But 465 blog posts means that this effort has inspired numerous other people to blog about Robert's Snow, and that's really fantastic!

Click here to search for Robert's Snow in our Blog Reader and read the 465 blog posts for yourself. I'm sure you've read many of these posts, but as you can see, there are plenty to read. Have a great weekend!

Tracy

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19. What are your JacketFlap Friends up to?

Hi everyone!

I had a fantastic time meeting so many of you this weekend at the SCBWI conference. I'll write up a separate post about that shortly. Right now, I want to tell you about a new feature that I absolutely love - My JacketFlap Updates. There's so much going on in the Kitlitosphere, and I always feel like it's impossible to keep on top of everything. With a single click, you can now see everything that your JacketFlap Friends have been up to lately. This includes:

  • Updates to your Friends' JacketFlap Profile pages
  • Your Friends' new blog posts
  • Blogs your Friends have subscribed to in the Blog Reader
  • People your Friends have Friended
  • Comments your Friends have left on other people's Profile pages
  • Pictures your Friends have added to their Picture galleries
  • Books your Friends have added to their Bookshelf
  • Book Discussions your Friends are participating in (more on that in another post)
Below is a screenshot of a few of the recent updates on my own My Updates page:
In each line, there is a description of the update followed by short summaries for things like blog posts and comments, and you can click the links in each summary to view the entire post, comments, and other changes.

You can see how many updates are waiting for you by looking at the new "My JacketFlap Updates" indicator in the toolbar at the top of every page on JacketFlap:


Clicking on My JacketFlap Updates will take you to your own My Updates page. The number in the parenthesis indicates the number of new updates since you last visited JacketFlap, and the number changes in real time, so you can see instantly if there are new updates while you are browsing JacketFlap.

When you are on your My Updates page, you can change the time period of the updates displayed by using the "Since" pull-down menu in the top of your My Updates section. I like looking at updates in the Past week to be sure I haven't missed anything.

In addition to letting you see the updates from all your Friends, there is now a version of the Updates page as part of every member's Profile page. This version lets you see all of the updates for just that member, and you can get there by clicking the Updates tab at the top of any member's Profile:
Finally, we have also added a Blog Reader Updates box in the right column of your My Updates page. You can see a screenshot showing the Blog Reader Updates box on my own My Updates page to the right.

I love this, because it shows me a quick summary of Updates to my own blog, the blogs I have subscribed to in My JacketFlap, as well as all of the blogs in our public Blog Reader list (492 at the moment!).

You can click on any of the links in the box to see just those posts or comments. This is really nice, because you can also use the "Since" pull-down menu at the top of the box to change the time period. This can help ensure you haven't missed any important posts. You can also keep up with posts that have new comments.

If you have a blog in our Blog Reader, you will see the statistics for your blog at the top of the Blog Reader Updates box.

I know this has been a long post, and you probably have lots of questions and ideas. Please don't be shy! Post your thoughts here in our comments section.

I hope this helps you keep up with all of the great things happening in the Kitlitosphere as much as it's helped me!

Best,
Tracy

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20. Newly published books

It's always interesting to learn about new releases. To make this easier, we've recently added a page to JacketFlap that contains a constantly updated list of the most recently published Children's & YA books.

To get to the Newly Published page, click the new Books tab at the very top of any page on JacketFlap. Then, click the Newly Published tab in the lower navigation bar.


You can change the time period using the "Books Published Since" menu, e.g. select "Yesterday" to see books published since yesterday. And, you can filter the list by Age levels, e.g. see newly published books for Ages 4 - 8 readers.

I've bookmarked this page, and it's one of the first places I check each day to keep up on newly published books. I hope you find it useful too!

Tracy

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21. Calling all Bloggers - Participate in Blogging for a Cure

The incredible Jules & Eisha at Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast are organizing a multi-blog effort to help raise awareness of the Robert’s Snow: for Cancer’s Cure fundraising effort benefiting the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute (DFCI). As many of you already know, this stems from the heart-wrenching news of the death of Robert Mercer, Grace Lin’s husband, who passed away at the end of last month, due to cancer. Grace is the driving force behind the Robert’s Snow: for Cancer’s Cure fundraising effort, which she began after Robert was diagnosed with Ewing’s sarcoma. She wrote Robert’s Snow (Viking Books; 2004) soon after that diagnosis.

More than 200 well-known children’s book illustrators from around the world have been given a five-inch wooden snowflake to decorate at will. Like actual snowflakes, each design is unique. You can see the 2005 snowflakes at this site. The 2007 online auctions for bidding on these hand-painted snowflakes will take place in three separate auctions, open to everyone, from November 19 to 23, November 26-30, and December 3-7.

I'm encouraging all of your with blogs to volunteer to drive traffic to the site for this year’s auctions and help raise money for the cause by highlighting the illustrators who have created snowflakes for these upcoming ’07 auctions — as well as post the unique snowflakes they have made (one at a time at each blog, which the DFCI has graciously given permission to do), ultimately driving as much traffic as we possibly can to the Robert’s Snow online auctions.

Jules & Eisha are reaching out to all of you to help raise awareness for this well-needed cause. As we all know, cancer does not discriminate due to age. Robert was only 35. Combined, we are a big neighborhood in this suburb of the Internet that we call the Kidlitosphere. Let’s continue to make this neighborhood great by making a difference in each other’s lives. Please read the post at Seven Impossible Things for more information.

Tracy

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22. Pirate Day, congratulations to Wendy Mass and Carrie Jones

Pirate Day!

September 19th is International Talk Like A Pirate Day. I searched for Pirate Day in JacketFlap's blog reader, and I saw that the wonderful & talented Elizabeth O. Dulemba has graciously posted a pirate-themed coloring book page for all to download and color in her fabulous style. My kids will now have an after-school activity to do. Thanks Elizabeth!

And speaking of Pirate Day, I was browsing JacketFlap's Newly Published books section, and I noticed that Eloise's Pirate Adventure was published yesterday (Sept. 18th) by Aladdin Paperbacks. Great timing!

Congratulations to our members!

I'd like to send a big congratulations today to two JacketFlap members. Wendy Mass, author of such fabulous books as Jeremy Fink and the Meaning of Life and A Mango-Shaped Space emailed to say that her new book Heaven Looks a Lot Like the Mall is now available, written for seventh graders and up.


Also congratulations to Carrie Jones who sold two books to Bloomsbury. The first book is called NEED. Read her Super Great News post for the details. Great job!


Book Stores in the news

Jessica Stockton of The Written Nerd blog did a great job of summing up some recent news articles regarding independent book stores versus the big chains. It is quite interesting to take note that while big chains like Barnes and Nobles are closing shops the independent ma & pa shops might be making a come-back. Read her post here.


New Member Welcome

I always get a kick out of checking JacketFlap's New Members page to see the faces of the people that just joined the site. From time to time, I'm going to introduce some of our new members here in my blog. I'd like everyone to join me today in welcoming Marjorie van Heerden. Since the publication of her first children’s picture book in 1983 Marjorie has written and/or illustrated more than 80 children’s books and has been published in 33 languages in Africa, England, Europe, Canada and the USA. She was born in South Africa, lived in Stellenbosch near Cape Town for 20 years, in Linden, Johannesburg for a decade, travelled for eighteen months on honeymoon in a camper van around Europe, lived for a year on the banks of Lake Michigan in the USA and for four years in a forest on a mountain north of Athens in Greece. Now her studio overlooks False Bay, once again near Cape Town, South Africa. Please leave a comment on Marjorie's profile page to welcome her to JacketFlap!

Tracy

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23. 20th Anniversary of Owl Moon!

Last night was Back To School Night for my oldest daughter Alex, who is in the 4th grade. Her teacher stated that his goal for the year was to make our children leave the classroom feeling confident as writers. He was holding up the book Owl Moon, as an example of a book that took a simple idea and made a beautiful story. His point was that all things, no matter how simple - have meaning - and can have a story. As you may know, Owl Moon won the Caldecott Award in 1988.

In an interesting coincidence, I noticed today on JacketFlap's newly published books page that a 20th anniversary edition of Owl Moon was just published yesterday! This edition includes letters from author Jane Yolen and artist John Schoenherr. Here's a link to Owl Moon's book detail page. If you've read it, add it to your JacketFlap bookshelf and tell us your thoughts about it! If you haven't read it yet, I encourage you do to so!

Tracy

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24. Tracy Grand interview in WOW! magazine

The amazing Angela Mackintosh has posted an interview with me about JacketFlap in her WOW! e-zine . I am very flattered! Click here to read the interview.

WOW! is a global magazine, designed to support women's creativity, energy, blood, sweat and tears, throughout all stages of the writing process. WOW!'s concept is unique, as it fills in the missing gap between writing websites and women's magazines. Thanks Angela!

Tracy

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25. First annual kidlitosphere drink night at the SCBWI Summer Conference

As you may have already heard via Greg Pincus at GottaBook, we're planning a get-together in LA this Friday night during the SCBWI Conference. It's even got a catchy name - the first annual kidlitosphere drink night at the SCBWI Summer Conference (FAKDN@SSC). Greg says that there are other groups meeting Friday night, but all we've heard of are meeting earlier. Come by anyways, as we'll be there for a while!

We're planning to meet on the patio outside the lobby bar area at 9PM. I'll be there along with a number of other KidLit Bloggers like Greg, the Disco Mermaids, Lisa Yee, Kelly Herold, and more. I'll be the one giving out JacketFlap hats (I'm bringing 200 of them, so first come first serve). I hope to see you there!

Tracy

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