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1. 2 new paperbacks

The House at the End of Hope Street by Menna Van Praag was absolutely charming. I don't always love magical realism, because it's rarely done well, but this one (along with those by Sarah Addison Allen) was an exception. 

The story of Alba Ashby, a young PhD student at Cambridge, and the house she falls in love with at 11 Hope Street. She has 99 nights to stay in the house and change her life. Many women from the past have entered the door and allowed the house to work its magic on them and they went on to have incredibly successful lives -- Agatha Christie, Dorothy Parker, and Florence Nightingale to name a few. Alba quickly learns, if her life is to actually be changed, this is the place to do it. 

While reading this one, I felt transported to 11 Hope Street. The writing is fantastic and I loved the premise of the plot. It was truly a charming novel and one I'll happily recommend to all readers, even those who aren't typically into magical realism. 

I also wanted to make a brief mention of the paperback release of one of my favorite books of last year, Looking for Me by Beth Hoffman. I raved about this book back in May and now it's available in paperback. If you haven't read it yet, grab a copy now -- it's a sweet, fun read with quirky, well-developed characters and lots of Southern charm.  I'll be gifting this one to a few of my favorite moms for Mother's Day! 

Thanks to Penguin for the review copies!

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2. Stoker & Holmes

It took me a long, long time to finish The Clockwork Scarab by Colleen Gleason.  But now the foundation has been set and I look forward to more of this partnership between the sister of Bram Stoker and the niece of Sherlock Holmes.

Gleason set herself a monumental task.  Not only did she need engaging characters who somehow embodied their family traits, but Gleason created a steampunk London that outlawed electricity and was built on three levels with steam powered elevators between.  AND she incorporated a 21st century time traveler. 

Young ladies of society are taking their own lives - or so someone wants the police to believe.  Somewhere near each corpse, or in the victim's belongings, a scarab mechanism is found, causing Irene Adler, -yes, THAT Irene Adler - who works at the British Museum, to call on Mina Holmes and Evaline Stoker for help in hunting down this connection. 

The atmosphere of suffrage unrest and Egypt-mania that existed in Britain at the end of the 19th century is the perfect breeding ground for this mystery.  

What will Evaline and Mina tackle next?  Will their 21st century visitor find a way home?  And the character they know as the Ankh, just who was she - or he?  Wait for the next book to find out.

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3. Rump (2013)

Rump: The True Story of Rumpelstiltskin. 2013. Random House. 272 pages. [Source: Review copy]

What a fun book! I really, really enjoyed Liesl Shurtliff's Rump which boasts of being, of course, the TRUE story of Rumpelstiltskin. From page one, Rump makes a delightful hero in this middle grade fantasy. Here's the first paragraph: "My mother named me after a cow's rear end. It's the favorite village joke, and probably the only one, but it's not really true. At least I don't think it's true, and neither does Gran. Really, my mother had another name for me, a wonderful name, but no one ever heard it. They only heard the first part. The worst part." Rump lives in a world where your NAME leads to your destiny, so, you can imagine that Rump struggles with what destiny has in store for him since it "blessed" him with a name like that. Rump is NOT friendless, however. His two biggest supporters are his Gran, who has raised him from his birth, and Red, his best friend and sidekick who has a Granny of her own in the forest. The situation is relatively bleak when the novel opens. Rump lives in a poor community that is easily oppressed by the king. The local miller dispenses food to the community based on how much gold the person (family) has contributed. So hunger is a part of life for many. One day, however, Rump discovers something in his Gran's woodpile: his mother's spinning wheel. His Gran is NOT pleased that Rump wants to keep it, to learn to use it. Rump gives it a try, and, he discovers the magic within. Yes, he learns he has the magic inside him to spin straw into gold. But what does NOT come naturally is the wisdom on when to use and when NOT to use magic. He has NOT learned that all magic comes with a price. That his oh-so-delightful talent might come with a big, big price that he won't want to pay.

I love this one. I do. I love the narration. I love the storytelling. I love how the story was adapted and changed. I loved that magic had consequences. I loved seeing Rump grow and mature into Rumpelstiltskin.
© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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4. The mysteries of marketing

Yes, that is Drew Barrymore -- the picture was taken on the steps of my building in Boston, while they were filming Feverpitch.  The pink hat is mine, but I (wisely, I think) cropped myself out of the picture.
Ordinary people rarely come off well when photographed with celebrities -- especially when the celebrities are young, beautiful movie stars!

She didn't just happen to be holding my book -- I asked her if she would, which now seems a bit obnoxious. She was really gracious about it, though. I've liked her ever since I saw her in E.T. and I liked her even more after she was generous enough to let the picture be taken.

Even though it seemed like a great marketing idea at the time, all I ever did with the photograph was post it at the bottom of a page on my old Web site. I doubt that anyone ever even saw it (this was before the days of blogging), and I'm almost positive that it didn't sell a single copy! Still, it's nice to have.

And that's the thing about marketing -- you never know in advance what's going to work and what isn't. You have to just try lots of different things, and hope some of them work..... I think it's a little like Internet dating: if you do something fun on the date, it's not time wasted even if it doesn't lead to anything. And you have to date lots of people to find someone you like and do lots of marketing things to find any that work   -- though with marketing, you'll probably never know which things worked and which didn't.

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5. On BookExpo and diversity.

At Book Riot:

This utter lack of diversity is gross. It is inexcusable. And it is really, really embarrassing. Book Expo America is the industry’s flagship event, and the statement it is making on the industry’s behalf is that we believe that what readers–the kind of devoted, passionate readers who fork over thirty dollars to spend a summer Saturday in a convention center–want out of a book event is an all-white, heavily celebrity line-up.


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6. Open letter from the NCAC to Fauquier High School.

Two boys kissingFrom the letter:

These and other reviews attest to the literary and educational value of the book. In contrast, no legitimate pedagogical rationale has been advanced for its removal, and it is highly doubtful that any legitimate justification could be advanced, especially for removing the book from the library, the purpose of which is to give students the opportunity to explore books on their own, according to their own interests, views and values.

See also: the related press release.

See also: an article from the school newspaper:

After a group of students noticed the cover of David Levithan’s 2013 novel, Two Boys Kissing, parent Jessica Wilson launched a book challenge to remove it from FHS’s library. The complaint was officially filed on the grounds that the picture on the book’s cover, which features two boys kissing, violated the school’s policy of no public displays of affection. Furthermore, Wilson was concerned that the book had overt sexual content.

In that article, there's a quote from the challenger:

“The good thing about appealing is that it opens the matter up to public debate,” Wilson said. “It’s not like this isn’t a book that I wouldn’t let my kids read, but it’s the fact that it’s in a school. Books like The Scarlet Letter and One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest don’t embrace sexuality. They have consequences, and it’s integral to the story. When you’re a teenager, it’s normal to question your sexuality, your faith, but the school isn’t your nanny; it isn’t up to the school to provide this guidance.”

I'm fascinated by her logic here: she says that the school "isn't your nanny" and that it isn't up to the school to "provide [this] guidance", but it seems to me that in asking for the library to only include stories in which sexual contact has "consequences", that's EXACTLY what she's asking the school to be and to do.

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7. #whylib - My journey into librarianship...

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Andy Plemmons started a campaign for School Library Month and asked librarians to share their story of why they become a librarian, which is a great idea!  I’ve read so many and all are not only inspiring, but gives a personal glimpse into the lives of some people I only know online.  I wanted to share my story as well.  

There were two factors that made me love books, reading and libraries.  The first  factor was that I lived in the middle of nowhere near the small town of Fredericksburg Texas.  Nowhere was named Morris Ranch and although I had fun playing in the creeks, old buildings and open spaces, there were many times when I stayed at home reading.  The second factor was that I grew up in a large family with strained finances.  Reading was one of those things considered both a recreation and better than that, it was FREE. 

To say I’ve known since I was a child I was going to be a librarian is an understatement.  While my sisters played with Barbies I would beg them to play library with me.  I would set up a table, and grab as many books in the house as I could (to make displays) and my sisters would check out books, “read” them, and bring them back.  And guess who was behind the circulation desk?  Yep….me.  The library was definitely embedded in my life.  During the week when my sisters and I had piano lessons, we would walk from the elementary school to the public library to wait until it was our turn. 

But it was the summers when I sought out the library the most.  I grew up without air conditioning, and the Fredericksburg Public Library was the only place I knew that was cool, quiet and filled with books.  I loved the smell of the building, looking up things in the card catalog, the children’s room, and getting my first library card with a metal embossed number on it. I even pretended it was my house, finding all the secret nooks and crannies and building my dream home in my mind. 

As I grew older, I still sought out the library as a safe haven not only in town but at school too.  Today, I am proud to admit I am a nerd, but back then as a teen, that wasn’t the case.  I was quiet, didn’t have many friends and was picked on.  So when I discovered how to live vicariously through a book, I tore through as many as I could.  In an age (mid 1980’s) when there was very little YA fiction, I read Terry Brooks, Stephen King, Anne Rice, James Michener and anything non-fiction…the bigger the better.  This also helped in my English classes as well as the SAT, where my score was so high, I didn’t have to take freshmen English in college (I consider myself a living statistic of how libraries with certified librarians directly influence academics and test scores).   

After high school, I went on to college where I had the chance to discover my  extroverted side.  I didn’t have time to visit the library anymore, and the passion subsided. I graduated with a double major in English and history and became a certified teacher, never knowing there was such a thing as a masters in library science.  So I felt like I found my niche in teaching English at the high school level, and with that, I found my reading passion again.  I also now had an audience of 14-18 year olds that I had the potential to make readers out of as well.  We read the classics and short stories out of the textbook, and I tried my hardest to make the pages come alive. I knew I hit the mark when most of the freshmen class went to see Luhrmann’s Romeo+Juliet together and could quote most of the movie. Then research time rolled around, and an epiphany happened….

I was gearing up to go to the library to teach students how to use the Readers’ Guide to Periodical Literature (if you don’t remember those, you missed out!) when the librarian told me I couldn’t use the library because I wasn’t signed up for it.  This was in a junior high/high school situation located in a small town where I was the only high school English teacher.  Well, I used the library anyway.  Little to none of the students ever used the library because of the negative connotation associated with it, which both angered and saddened me. Then BOOM!!!My passion for libraries came back with a vengeance and I decided I could be a librarian and make a difference!  So off I trotted to Sam Houston State University, where I received a masters in library science in 2000. 

I became the librarian at that school and made some major changes.  When bond money came through, the district built two new libraries (one elementary, the other at the JH/HS) and I cut my librarian’s teeth through many experiences from opening and moving a new library to learning how to work with elementary aged children as their librarian.  I got to work with other districts who didn’t have a librarian on record and continued to create relationships with the students.  Out came the cobwebs and in came couches, technology, YA books, and open doors. 

I chose a great time to become a librarian too.  The year 2000 ushered in a lot of technology, including social media and web tools I had never heard of before.  It was also a time when computers were constantly changing, along with the cell phone (anyone ever own a bag phone?).  Not only did I embrace the changes, but it embraced me back.  And as they say, the rest is history….
I still go back to where it all started – my hometown library – and see that while it has changed throughout time on the inside, it continues to be nostalgic and safe. Now, as part of the profession, I find myself looking into the future and cannot WAIT to see the changes, with the reassurance of a constant – relationships.  Change is scary but having a constant helps ease that fear.  SO glad I grew up the way I did and had those influences!  Now I get to go work at my passion every day and make the library and librarianshipjust as important as the classrooms on campus. 

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8. Navigating the Dangers of Research

Today's guest post is by Karen Blumenthal—author of YALSA Nonfiction Award finalists Bootleg and Steve Jobs: The Man Who Thought Different—and a committed researcher. Or, maybe, a researcher who should be committed? Read her post and decide for yourself!

One evening during a research trip to Washington, D.C., I missed the hotel’s revolving-door entry and slammed into a glass wall schnoz first.

While I reeled in pain, the guests in the lobby eyed me as if I'd enjoyed the happy hour a little too much. Embarrassingly, I was suffering instead from a wicked case of microfilm myopia.  I had only been researching drinking, not actually doing it.

In writing nonfiction for young people, I know the quality of the research drives the story. But that all-important work, I've concluded, may be dangerous to your health.

Other afflictions from recent research were less painful, but almost as embarrassing:

Quarter hoarding: My obsession won’t make great reality TV, but I have stashed quarters everywhere, in pockets, wallets, and tote bags, and I won’t share them with you, even for a desperately needed soft drink. They’re crucial for parking meters, copiers and lockers for stashing your stuff while you research Al Capone at the Chicago History Museum. 

Research fog: An ailment closely related to microfilm myopia, this dense stupor sets in around the fifth hour of reading, especially if you skip lunch to squeeze in more work during a research library's limited hours. As you emerge from the fluorescent-lit haze, jabbering about what you have learned, it slowly becomes apparent that no one you know cares that Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton and Penney founder James Cash Penney had similar backgrounds.

Library breath: What is it about libraries that makes your mouth feels like a herd of camels just ambled across your tongue? Spend too much of the day inside one of these important (and low-humidity) places of knowledge and you'll find that your newfound trivia isn't all that will knock people out.

Chronic nerditis: Finding some new gem online can lead to mysteriously intense, heart-pounding excitement that will surely bore your family to death. You mean you can read 1920s magazines online? Find newspapers stories back to the 1850s? Look at a database instead of those fat green Reader's Guides to Periodicals?


Waitwhat? You've never heard of the Reader's Guide to Periodicals?

“Just one more” syndrome: Now this is when things get really ugly. Researching is fun; writing, for me, is difficult. So why in the world should I want to stop searching for good stuff? What if there’s a better anecdote out there? What if I’ve missed a great example? If only the deadline wasn’t approaching!

Of course, the paper cuts and smudges on my clothes from newspapers and fresh photocopies are all worth the trouble when I finally sit down at the computer. Having great stories and specific detail is crucial to writing for young people because the story must crackle and pop, and every idea must be crystal clear for readers who have little experience or context to bring to a subject.

Just try not to get behind me when I take a break at the coffee shop. I may be paying with quarters.

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9. Free excerpt: The Chance You Won't Return, by Annie Cardi

The Chance You Won't Return by Annie Cardi Chapter Sampler by Candlewick Press

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10. Skyscrapers by Rachel Field

The Flatiron Building in NCY, home to publisher MacMillan and their many imprints! Skyscrapers Do skyscrapers ever grow tired       Of holding themselves up high?        Do they ever shiver on frosty nights     With their tops against the sky? Do they feel lonely sometimes,         Because they have grown so tall?              Do they ever wish they could just lie down And never

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11. Petition Process Update

Petition candidates will now find the process to have their name added to a YALSA election ballot a little easier, thanks to action taken recently by the YALSA Board.  What’s the change? Instead of obtaining signatures by means of a paper ballot, the petition will be electronic beginning with the 2015 election process. The second change is one that needs to be approved by the membership via a vote to change the bylaws.  In the bylaws the number of signatures required for a petition candidate is currently 25; however, the board is asking the membership to vote to change that to 1% of the personal membership.  A percentage, rather than a number that is unchanged from year to year, ensures that regardless of membership size, the number of required signatures remains proportionate to the membership.  It will also eliminate the need for future adjustments to the bylaws as YALSA’s membership size changes.  The number 25 was chosen many years when YALSA had only about 2,000 members. Since then, YALSA’s membership has grown to over 5,100.  So, what’s 1% of the personal members?  Right now that’s 48 people.  Be sure to look for this proposal on next year’s ballot, and, if you’re interested in running on the 2015 slate, visit http://www.ala.org/yalsa/workingwithyalsa/election to learn more.


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12. World Book Night and a Proper Celebration of the Day of Shakespeare’s Birth

ShakespeareBirthday World Book Night and a Proper Celebration of the Day of Shakespeares BirthIn terms of folks who share my birthday today, it’s a mixed bag.  On the one hand I got Shakespeare.  So . . . y’know.  That’s nice.  By the same token 4/23 was the reported date of the death of Cervantes.  On the other hand, I share my birthday with President James Buchanan.  Oog.  But then I also got Shirley Temple and Vladimir Nabokov.  Now THERE is a pairing for you!

So if we’re going to do this correctly we need to have something properly Shakespearean to celebrate today.  I suggest that you head on over to this site and read a version of The Hokey Pokey as written by the man in question.  It’s worth it alone for the line “Command sinistral pedestal to writhe.”

But wait!  There’s more!  Unless I much miss my guess tonight also is World Book Night.  What is it, you might ask?  Well, according to their website it says:

World Book Night is an annual celebration dedicated to spreading the love of reading, person to person.  Each year on April 23, tens of thousands of people go out into their communities and give half a million free World Book Night paperbacks to light and non-readers.

World Book Night is about giving books and encouraging reading in those who don’t regularly do so. But it is also about more than that: It’s about people, communities and connections, about reaching out to others and touching lives in the simplest of ways—through the sharing of stories.

World Book Night is a nonprofit organization. We exist because of the support of thousands of book givers, booksellers, librarians, and financial supporters who believe in our mission. Successfully launched in the U.K. in 2011, World Book Night was first celebrated in the U.S. in 2012. Thank you to our U.K. friends for such a wonderful idea!

So there you go!  If you do nothing else today, just give somebody a book.  As the bard might have said, ’tis what it’s all about.

share save 171 16 World Book Night and a Proper Celebration of the Day of Shakespeares Birth

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13. 30 Poets/Day 24 - J. Patrick Lewis and Georgia Heard

It's Day 24 of 30 Poets/30 Days and today, with J. Patrick Lewis and Georgia Heard poems for you, I present theme-by-coincidence: poems that are about poetry! Maybe it's my "day after Shakespeare's birthday" tribute? Or maybe, as before, it's just two great poems shared a year part. You be the judge....

The Poet of the World
J. Patrick Lewis

"How ho-ho-hum has the planet become!"
      Cried the Poet of the World.
"I must sonnet the wind, sestina the sea."
      Then he dipped his pen and he swirled

Out a poem where braves become braver, and knaves
      Wander under a vinegar sky,
And a Duchess receives purely innocent thieves
      Who are normally camera-shy.

"The heroes are villains, the geniuses mad!"
      So he spun them a roundelay.
"All the people who live in the Ivory Land
      Would be happier villanelle gray."

Then he thought, "I must metaphor girls in gold
      And simile boys in blue."
He looked up from his Book, and he said, "I forgot,
      Which character are you?"

©2009 J. Patrick Lewis. All rights reserved.
From A Countdown to Summer: A Poem for Every Day of the School Year – Little, Brown, Ethan Long, illustrator
(click here to see the original post and comments)

Ars Poetica

Georgia Heard

In September, small poems lay
still and silent inside your hearts.
If you listened carefully,
you might have heard
the quivering of wings.

In January, from the corner
of your eye, you could have spied
a flutter or two –
poems slowly unfolding,
delicate silken wings.

In April, poems began to appear everywhere!
Rainbow wings beating, flapping,
hovering over desks, hanging
from the ceiling, tips of noses, tops of heads.
It was difficult to get any work done!

Now, your butterfly poems
fly free. You fold the memory
into your hearts. Poems --
small butterflies raised, watched,
let loose into the world.

©2010 Georgia Heard. All rights reserved.
(click here to see the original post and comments)

Yesterday we had poems from Nikki Giovanni and Charles R. Smith, Jr. Tomorrow... Julie Larios and George Ella Lyon.

Please click here for more information about this year's edition of 30 Poets/30 Days, including how to follow along. 

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14. AFTER THE BOOK DEAL, Day Three: "I Hate Networking" - Guest Post by Jonathan Auxier, author of the forthcoming The Night Gardener

Today I'm pleased to welcome Jonathan Auxier for Day Three of his After the Book Deal blog tour! Jonathan is the author of Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes, and The Night Gardener, which I'll be reviewing closer to its May 20th release date. 

AFTER THE BOOK DEAL - Guest Post by Jonathan Auxier

The Internet is full of great advice about how to sell a book, but what about after the sale? When my first book came out, I found it was surprisingly hard to find answers to some basic questions. Like most authors, I learned most of the answers through trial and error. And so in anticipation of the launch of my new novel, The Night Gardener, I’ve decided to write down everything I learned so I don’t make the same mistakes twice!

AFTER THE BOOK DEAL is a month-long blog series detailing the twenty things I wish someone had told me before entering the exciting world of children’s publishing. Each weekday from now until MAY 20, I will be posting an article on a different blog. Follow along and please spread the word!
DAY THREE - I Hate Networking
Yesterday we discussed how to craft your online identity, and today I want to look a little more closely at how to navigate the world of social networking. There is no shortage of advice about online marketing, so I won’t waste time trying to convince you that it’s important. Instead I’ll just list a few things I have observed that might be helpful.
TWITTER – The first thing you should do is read author Nathan Bransford’s excellent post on how to use Twitter. Twitter is an invaluable tool for connecting with strangers. It was through Twitter that I discovered my favorite bloggers. It was through Twitter that I met authors, booksellers, teachers, and librarians who shared similar interests—in short, it helped me find my tribe. Case in point: when I was registering for my first ALA conference, someone shouted my name from across the room. It was an author I knew from Twitter who introduced me to a whole group of other authors, who ended up becoming friends (more on that in Week Two).
FACEBOOK – Now that I’m a bit more established, I have found that Facebook has become a more valuable tool than Twitter—it’s a way to maintain and deepen the connections that I made through Twitter. Think of Facebook as “phase two” of your social networking plan. The easiest way to do this is by accepting friends on your private Facebook account. I would recommend that you NOT make a separate “author page.” Managing two different pages can be a hassle—plus with new changes to Facebook, author pages no longer reach a wide audience (unless you pay an advertising fee!). If you worry that your current Facebook profile might turn off potential readers, then this is a good time to examine the sorts of things you’re posting. While it’s fun to vent about politics or a neighbor you hate, you should probably save such things for real-life interactions. Keep Facebook friendly, but professional.
GOODREADS – Goodreads is a unique tool insofar as it is designed specifically for the publishing world. Before Peter Nimble came out, I reached out to a group of family and friends who had read my book and asked them to review it on Goodreads—many of them obliged, which resulted in my book having a strong star rating right out of the gates. That was nice, but along with those strong reviews, I got a few zero-star reviews from total strangers who had not read the book. Why did they decide to give me zero stars? I don’t know. All I know is that it drove me crazy. I learned when talking to other authors that my experience was pretty much universal. Every new writer spends a dark week where they obsess over star ratings ... ratings over which they have no control. So here’s my advice on Goodreads. Don’t do it. Stay away. It will make you crazy. Beyond rallying a few troops to give you reviews, it’s not worth your time. Goodreads is designed for readers, not writers.
YOUR AUTHOR WEBSITE – A few years ago, author blogs were a fairly important part of online marketing. Things have changed in recent years, and author blogs are no longer essential. (Some of this might be the death of the Google’s Reader, which results in fewer blogs being read overall). When I was preparing to launch my first book, I spent a LOT of energy in crafting a thoughtful, well designed website. I was posting four times a week, which may not seem like much, but I am a SLOW writer, which meant I was spending 25+ hours per week maintaining a website. While I won some early fans and am proud of the work, the time commitment was exhausting and unsustainable.
These days, author websites seem to serve two basic functions. First, they provide a place for readers to visit and learn more about you (and about your other books!). Second, they provide a way for schools/libraries/bookstores to screen authors before booking them for events. (I know this because when people contact me for an event, they always mention that my website sealed the deal for them.) So, by all means, make an author website that is professional and reflects your platform—but don’t feel pressure to update it more than once a week. That time is better spent elsewhere—mainly in starting your next manuscript (more on that in Week Three).
That’s it for day three of AFTER THE BOOK DEAL! I should mention that you should follow me on Twitter and be my friend on Facebook, and visit my awesome website. Tomorrow I’ll be at The Lost Entwife discussing the pros and cons of book trailers!

JONATHAN AUXIER writes strange stories for strange children. His new novel, The Night Gardener, hits bookstores this May. You can visit him online at www.TheScop.com where he blogs about children's books old and new. 

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15. Keep a Poem in Your Pocket by Beatrice Schenk de Regniers

POEM IN YOUR POCKET DAY IS TODAY! (print, clip,pocket and share!)   Keep A Poem in Your Pocket  by Beatrice Schenk de Regniers Keep a poem in your pocket And a picture in your head And you'll never feel lonely At night when you're in bed. The little poem will sing to you  A dozen dreams to dance to you At night when you're in bed. So-- Keep a picture in your pocket

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After days of downtime*, it looks like Typepad is back up and running, which means that so is yours truly (and Gwenda!).

So, thanks all, for your patience and concerned emails.


(Well, except to the jerks who caused all of the problems in the first place. Yeesh.)


*They were hit by some massive DDoS attacks starting last week.

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17. #544 – There’s a Mouse Hiding in this Book! by Benjamin Bird

mouse hiding book.

There’s a Mouse Hiding In This Book! (Tom and Jerry)

by Benjamin Bird

Capstone Young Readers             8/01/2014


Age 4 to 7          32  pages


“This Tom and Jerry interactive picture book holds a surprise on each page! Where is Jerry hiding? On the title page, on the back cover, or somewhere in between? Little readers will howl with delight each time they open the covers and try helping Tom find the mischievous mouse. Perfect for story time. A light, quirky “meta-fictional” picture book series using the well-known, timeless characters of Tom and Jerry. Young readers will whoop with delight at the story and artwork, but parents and caregivers will also appreciate the humorous and gentle introduction to the process of reading and the parts of a book.”


“LOOK. That no-good mouse Jerry is ruining my book! Come on, help me catch him.”

The Story

Tom, the cat from Tom and Jerry™ is trying to write a book. Problem is Jerry, the little grey mouse from the cartoon duo, is wreaking havoc on every page. Tom is out to catch the little villain—wait, Jerry the villain. Well it seems Jerry is the troublemaker and Tom is only trying to write a book. Your role, should you choose to accept it, is to assist Tom in capturing Jerry. Your job: just do what Tom tells you to do and be very fast. That’s it!


I laughed aloud when reading There’s a Mouse Hiding in this Book! First, there is the history of Tom and Jerry going after each other, every Saturday morning, and poor cat Tom never getting one over on Jerry, the resourceful mouse who loves tormenting Tom. As hard as Tom tries, whatever he tries, it returns to him twice his intended result. For example. Tom has Jerry cornered immediately after you join in the chase. Entering the dark mouse hole, you cannot see a thing, but you know Jerry is in there. Listening closely, you can hear him breathing. The light pops on. Run! Run! Run! It’s not Jerry . . . it’s that big bulldog, and he has huge canines. Quickly, quickly, turn the page!

That might have been too close for comfort, but Tom is not discouraged. Stick with him and you’ll find a surprise inside every spread, but will you ever find Jerry? There’s a Mouse Hiding in this Book reminds me of Press Here, the picture book with colored dots on every page, the number of which changed depending upon what you did in the previous spread. Shake the page and the dots fall out. Slide the book to the right and the dots on the left move to the right. There is a review of Press Here here.


Instead of moving around dots, Tom is trying to catch Jerry by setting up traps. Tom carefully sets mousetraps then you turn the page to see Jerry trapped, but instead, something goes wrong, terribly wrong. Tom needs you to do something quickly to get him out of this mess. The surprises are hilarious. Kids of all ages will laugh aloud until their stomachs ache. I know, because I did. To further tickle your funny bone, There’s a Mouse Hiding in this Book is one book from a series of, currently, 4 books.

If your child likes the Elmo series, Please Do Not Open this Book, by Jon Stone or Press Here by Herve Tullet, your child will like There’s a Mouse Hiding in this Book! I also think parents who grew up with this Saturday morning comic duo will also love this book. Just seeing these characters was a delight. For the best experience, buy or borrow the physical copy of There’s a Mouse Hiding in this Book rather than an eBook.

There is nothing better than actually turning those pages, slowly lifting until colors appear and then, even slower, looking for Jerry, but he is not on the page. Tom is there and he is yelling for your help. Laughing you take your time, looking at the mess Tom created by not thinking things through, and then you comply. Will there be another surprise? Will Tom be building another mouse-catching trap? Can Tom draw Jerry out from his hiding place?  Will Jerry finally appear in the book, ready to goad Tom as only Jerry knows how to do? There is only one way to find out. Get your hands on a copy of There’s a Mouse Hiding in this Book, and be prepared to laugh yourself silly.


THERE IS A MOUSE HIDING IN THIS BOOK. Text and illustrations copyright © 2014 by Turner Entertainment Company. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Capstone Young Readers, an imprint of Capstone, North Mankato, MN.


cat chasing me through bookdont' give book a bowl of milknot a piece of cheese


The series (L to R) A Cat Is Chasing Me Through This Book! — Don’t Give This Book a Bowl of Milk! — This Book Is Not a Piece of Cheese!


Learn more about this Tom and Jerry™ series HERE.

Pre-Order any of the series at AmazonB&NBookDepositoryCapstoneyour local bookstore.


Turner Entertainment Company website:    http://www.turner.com/

Capstone Young Readers website:    http://www.capstoneyoungreaders.com/



mouse hiding in book

Filed under: 5stars, Favorites, Picture Book, Series Tagged: "meta-fictional" picture book series, Benjamin Bird, Capstone Young Readers, cat and mouse games, children's book reviews, picture books, Tom and Jerry™, Turner Entertainment Company

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18. What's in Your Purse? by Abigail Samoun, illustrated by Nathalie Dion

<!-- START INTERCHANGE - WHAT'S IN YOUR PURSE -->if(!window.igic__){window.igic__={};var d=document;var s=d.createElement("script");s.src="http://iangilman.com/interchange/js/widget.js";d.body.appendChild(s);} <!-- END INTERCHANGE --> There are so many reasons why What's in Your Purse?, written by Abigail Samoun and illustrated by Nathalie Dion, is a fantastic new book that kids will

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19. Pilgrims Don't Wear Pink -- Stephanie Kate Strohm

Pilgrims don't wear pinkI hadn't read a straight-up chick-lit rom-com in ages, and I'd forgotten just how much fun they can be.

Despite the best efforts of her best friend to convince her to go to New York City with him while he interns at a teen fashion magazine, Libby Kelting is leaving Minnesota to spend the summer before her senior year in Camden Harbor, Maine, interning at the Museum of Maine and the Sea. She'll be wearing 1791-era garb, teaching young campers about the daily life of colonial Americans, and hopefully, in her off-time, spending time at the beach in one of the many (many, many, many) cute outfits that she's dragging halfway across the country with her.

Things she didn't count on: an enormously judgmental, slut-shaming roommate; a uniform for when she's not in costume; a super-hot sailor who spouts Shakespeare and looks VERY nice while chopping wood; getting roped into sharing EXTREMELY cramped quarters with a VERY irritating budding journalist who's on a ghost hunt.


  • Oh, where to start? I cackled all the way through this one. For instance:

    "Listen, Garrett—"
    "Why do you keep saying my name like it's in air quotes?" he interrupted.
    "What are you talking about?" I snapped.
    "You keep saying 'Garrett' like it's 
    allegedly my name."
    "Maybe because it's not a name, but a small Parisian attic where writers live?"
    "Oh, as opposed to a brand of canned pumpkin owned by the Nestle corporation?" he shot back.
    We glared at each other.

    Ahahahahahaha. Anyway, she and Garrett are very obviously well-suited to each other, and their sparring is just as entertaining as their inevitable lurrrve-falling. Also, Libby's campers are HILARIOUS. 
  • Libby is a genuine history nerd, and as her focus is on fashion and the domestic arts, there are LOADS of interesting factual tidbits. Also, she's a wonderful example of a character who is a 'girly-girl' AND whip-smart, so yay to Strohm for that. Bonus: When it comes down to it, Libby is perfectly capable of fighting her own battles. Literally. So yay to Strohm for that, too!
  • Along those lines, there are some great threads about being judgemental/making assumptions about people: because Libby is interested in fashion and in boys, her roommate immediately jumps to the conclusion that Libby is an airheaded moron with red bottomosity. At the same time, Libby judges Garrett for his love of science fiction, so no-one is entirely without fault in that departmentwhich is good, because few people are!


  • Cam and most of the rest of the dudebros are totally two-dimensional stereotypes. And actually, Libby's bestie Dev is also pretty two-dimensional, but I gave him a pass because he was rad.



Behind the scenes of Austenland, starring YA characters.



Book source: ILLed through my library.

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20. Librarian Preview: Penguin Books (Summer 2014)

penguinlogo 243x300 Librarian Preview: Penguin Books (Summer 2014)There is a certain element of mystery that accompanies each and every librarian preview here in New York City.  When the larger publishers gather the librarians to their proverbial bosom, those same librarians walk in with just one question in your mind: How long is this going to take?  If you’re lucky you’ll be out by lunchtime.  But with Penguin beginning their preview by providing lunch, the day was rendered simply more mysterious.  Fortunately the answer to the puzzle lay on our seats.  Each librarian was given a 48-page collection of PowerPoint slides for the event.  48 pages!  The length of a slightly long picture book.  That’s entirely doable!  And indeed, for this particular preview I was pleased to discover that we’d only be covering a sampling of the books from each imprint.  Bonus!

During the course of the event a photo was taken of the librarians and posted to Twitter that day.  See if you can spot me in this shot:

Penguin14libpreview 500x375 Librarian Preview: Penguin Books (Summer 2014)

If you said, “Why Betsy is the woman in white imitating a small ocean liner” you would have earned yourself a cookie.  There is very little photographic evidence of my pregnancy this second time around.  As such, this is one of the very rare shots in existence.  Credit due to @VikingChildrens.

But enough of this silliness.  Onward to the previews!  As per usual I’ll just be reporting on the children’s fare, with the exception of the rare YA novel here and there.  And, naturally, we begin with . . .


Absolutely Almost by Lisa Graff

AbsolutelyAlmost Librarian Preview: Penguin Books (Summer 2014)

To be slightly more specific, we begin with Lisa Graff.  Absolutely Almost by Lisa Graff has, as of this blog post, earned itself four starred reviews thus far, unless I am much mistaken.  Like all her other books out there, it’s a standalone.  There’s something infinitely comforting about authors that aren’t afraid to write standalone novels.  Heck, in this era of ubiquitous sequels it’s a downright relief, it is.  In Absolutely Almost our main character goes by the name of Albie.  He’s a good kid but he thinks of himself as an “almost”.  You know.  He does a lot of things . . . almost well.  So what do you do when you’re just almost everything?  Aye.  There’s the rub.  Set in NYC the book is apparently for fans of Wonder, Rules, Joey Pigza books, and Liar & Spy.  An interesting assortment of connections, to say the least!

Chasing the Milky Way by Erin E. Moulton

ChasingMilky Librarian Preview: Penguin Books (Summer 2014)

Next up?  A little Moulton.  Editor Jill Santopolo called her a “gorgeous under the radar” author.  One must assume she is referring to her books, though I’m sure she’s quite cute.  In this particular title two sisters try to take care of their mentally ill mom.  A common theme this year, what with the near simultaneous release of books like Under the Egg.  Lucy the eldest, however, can’t keep everyone safe.  Ms. Moulton’s own mother is a social worker and took her daughter along on the job often enough that it made a significant impression.  Authors Moulton was compared to included Jerry Spinelli, Katherine Paterson, and Sharon Creech.  But no pressure or anything!

Brotherband: Slaves of Socorro by John Flanagan

SlavesSocorro Librarian Preview: Penguin Books (Summer 2014)

If your library system is anything like mine then you have a devil of a time figuring out where to catalog John Flanagan.  Is he Juv?  YA?  Well don’t expect the answers to come any easier.  Penguin is planning on repackaging the first four books in the Ranger’s Apprentice series as well as the Brotherband books.  Speaking of which, in this latest little novel, the Slaves of Socorro, editor Michael Green called it a “crossover episode” of sorts.  Characters from the Rangers books and the Brotherband books are now banding together.  It’s a fictional literary character supergroup!  Expect already existing fans to be pretty stoked over the idea.

The Secret Sky by Atia Abawi

SecretSky Librarian Preview: Penguin Books (Summer 2014)

Ah.  The first of the true YA novels to be mentioned here today.  I might not have even mentioned it except that Jill, its editor, got so existed.  “This is THE most important book I’ve ever edited”, said she.  Hard to ignore enthusiasm like that.  A love story set in the time of the Taliban, the book is by ABC Bureau Chief, Atia Abawi.  Raised in Germany and the American south after her mother escaped Afghanistan during the Russian invasion, Ms. Abawi’s book has been getting blurbs from authors (Daphne Benedis-Grab, Trent Reedy, etc.) as well as folks in her own business (Chief Foreign Affairs Correspondant of NBC Andrea Mitchell, for example).

Once Upon an Alphabet by Oliver Jeffers

OnceUponAlphabet Librarian Preview: Penguin Books (Summer 2014)

Now to switch gears as far as those gears will go.  Oliver Jeffers is a tricky fellow to judge.  I’ve loved some of his stuff (I maintain that Stuck is a modern classic for our times) and loathed others.  I think it’s fair to say that Once Upon an Alphabet is going to fall a little more squarely on the love side of the equation.  Jeffers tackles the alphabet on his own this time and isn’t afraid to break out the fancy words.  Calling this, “Oliver’s magnum opus” the book contains little stories for each storyline.  Here’s one example: “C: Cup in the cupboard. Cup lived in the cupboard. It was dark and cold in there when the door was closed. He dreamed of living over by the window so he’d have a clear view. One afternoon he decided to go for it.” I won’t spoil the ending of that one for you.  Regardless, think of this as a lighter companion to books like The Gashlycrumb Tinies and the like.

Nancy Paulsen Books

The Baby Tree by Sophie Blackall

BabyTree Librarian Preview: Penguin Books (Summer 2014)

Then we’re off to the Nancy Paulsen Books side of the equation.  And can I tell you how goofy crazy my librarians are about The Baby Tree right now?  I tell you, the cover of this book came up onto the screen and there were universal coos from the librarians in attendance.  And why not?  The whole where-do-babies-come-from niche is still fairly wide open.  In this story a boy asks for some straightforward explanations of where babies come from, only to be met with a flurry of ridiculous answers from a variety of elders.  It’s a pretty darn good second sibling book for the older set (the 4, 5, and 6-year-olds) out there.  Definitely a keeper and one to watch.

Sleepover with Beatrice & Bear by Monica Carnesi

SleepoverBeatrice Librarian Preview: Penguin Books (Summer 2014)

And speaking of keepers covering well-worn topics, let us now discuss hibernation.  Or not.  Totally up to you.  Now you may think every possible hibernation book out there has already been published but that’s just because you didn’t realize that Sleepover with Beatrice and Bear was on the horizon.  Carnesi was best known to me as the woman behind that rather lovely early chapter book Little Dog Lost a year or two ago.  Nancy Paulsen calls her “our librarian author” so, y’know, right there.  Occupational pride.  In this story a bear and rabbit are buddies but soon it’s time for the bear to hibernate.  Beatrice, the aforementioned bunny, decides she will hibernate too, though she’s not entirely certain what that would entail.  As it turns out, bunnies are no good at hibernation but rather than turn this into one of those books where the bear wakes up in the winter and has a spiffing good time (those storylines always bug me for some reason) the solution to Beatrice’s problem is far more charming.  Good stuff.


The Secret Hum of a Daisy by Tracy Holczer

SecretHumDaisy Librarian Preview: Penguin Books (Summer 2014)

Onward to Putnam and a book that I’m just going to have to read for myself if I’m going to figure it out at all.  As you can see, it has one of those non-covers and poetic titles that publishers give books when they’re super excited about their literary award possibilities.  And when they start bandying about the phrase “lyrical”, you know something’s up.  In very brief terms it’s a girl with a dead mom story.  Elaborated upon a bit, the girl in question is ripped from what she knows and is placed with a grandma she never knew well.  In time she goes on a treasure hunt, believing that her mother, in whatever form, is behind it in some way.  Basically, all she wants is for her mom to be the treasure at the end.  Rife with clues, it reminded me of Eight Keys by Suzanne LaFleur or Jeremy Fink and the Meaning of Life by Wendy Mass.  I’ll give it a go!

Dreamwood by Heather Mackey

Dreamwood Librarian Preview: Penguin Books (Summer 2014)

This year carnivorous trees are quite hot.  We’ve seen four different middle grade novels thus far with trees that have dark desires/appetites, and Dreamwood falls into that category.  Don’t write it off as a mere example of hungry wood, though.  No no, this one’s supposed to be pretty good.  Set during the turn of the century in the Pacific Northwest, a girl’s father goes missing in the forest.  So what else can she do but set off with a boy to find her missing father and maybe along the way find a cure for tree blight?  One of my librarians who loves fantasy read it and gave it two enthusiastic thumbs up.  For my part, I was just grateful that the words “eco-fantasy” were never used when describing it.  Oo, I dislike that term!

Ninja Red Riding Hood by Corey Rosen Schwartz, illustrated by Dan Santat

NinjaRedRidingHood Librarian Preview: Penguin Books (Summer 2014)

I got name checked with this next book, which had me just knocking my brain try to remember the context.  Perhaps it was another librarian preview in the recent past?  Could have been.  In any case, apparently when I saw the version of The Three Little Pigs by duo Corey Rosen Schwartz and Dan Santat I wondered out loud for all to hear why no one had ever done the same for Little Red Riding Hood.  Enter the answer to my prayers (though I’ve no doubt they had the idea long before I did).  Basically, this is the book for you if you ever wanted to see the wolf get the ever-loving-crap kicked out of him by a girl in a red cape.

Oh, and here’s a non-workplace safe fun activity for you: Google Image the term “ninja red riding hood” sometime and see what comes up.  I was looking for a copy of the jacket of this book.  What I initially found . . . wasn’t that.

All Four Stars by Tara Dairman

AllFourStars Librarian Preview: Penguin Books (Summer 2014)

Finally, something light and frothy and VERY New York.  I have witnessed firsthand the existence of the foodie child.  They exist, often raised by foodie adults, so that they know the difference between flavors and can go so far as to distinguish between them for you.  This, however, is not the life our heroine leads.  She’s a foodie kid, sure, but her parents are fast food lovers.  Still, the kiddo has prodigious talents so she gets hired to review a restaurant professionally.  The catch?  Her new bosses don’t know that she’s a kid, so she basically has to sneak to NYC and the restaurant in question on her own.  Ms. Dairman is a bit of a foodie herself, though alas the book will not include any recipes.  Ah well.  The sequel is due out in 2015.


Nelly Gnu and Daddy Too by Anna Dewdney

NellyGnuDaddyToo Librarian Preview: Penguin Books (Summer 2014)

There was a time when I wouldn’t have understood the lure of the Llama Llama Red Pajama world.  But have a small child and your view of things changes.  Say what you will about Anna Dewdney, the woman scans.  Consistently and without fail.  You can read a book of hers cold and come out looking like a pro every time.  Since Llama Llama is the unofficial poster child of the single mama household, it was only a matter of time before the masses demanded a book along similar lines with but a daddy.  Llama Llama’s best friend Nelly Gnu now gets her chance to shine in the sun with this latest title.  Daddy Gnu, I should note, is a pretty darn good feller.  He takes care of his kiddo and makes dinner to boot.  This is hardly a novel idea, but it’s not like we see it in picture books as often as we might.  Well played.

Starbird Murphy and the World Outside by Karen Finneyfrock

StarbirdMurphy Librarian Preview: Penguin Books (Summer 2014)

It’s a toss-up as to what I like more: The title of the book, or the name of the author?  On the one hand, “Starbird Murphy” just feels right.  On the other hand, who can resist a last name like “Finneyfrock”?  The plot of the actual book is nice too.  It stars a commune kid who lives entirely off the grid.  This world is entirely normal to her, but eventually she must leave normal and travel into the city.  Think of it as a girl version of Alabama Moon.

Brave Chicken Little by Robert Byrd

BraveChickenLittle Librarian Preview: Penguin Books (Summer 2014)

Now here’s a real beauty that deserves some of your time and attention.  For the most part, big publishers eschew folk and fairytales.  You want the latest version of Snow White and Rose Red?  Get thee to a smaller company!  But once in a great while a biggie will take a chance.  Mind you, after reading this book I don’t think there’s anything the least bit chancey about Robert Byrd’s work.  The ultimate cautionary fable gets a leg up in this updated look at the chick that went for the most extreme of explanations.  It follows the usual storyline to a point, then diverges and allows the hero to come out triumphant.  The moral of the old story was probably something along the lines of “don’t believe everything you hear”.  The moral of the new story?  “Don’t get eaten. Get even.”  [This phrase, by the way, when you Google it appears to be the tagline of a popular Bear Pepper Spray.  Just thought you'd like to know.]


Follow Your Heart: Summer Love by Jill Santopolo

FollowYourHeart Librarian Preview: Penguin Books (Summer 2014)

One of these days, my children, my prayers will be answered and someone will republish those old Sunfire Romances where the historical girl had to choose between two hunky men.  Them’s my youth!  Until then, however, we have the next best thing.  Something that sounds so obvious when I say it that I’m shocked SHOCKED that no one until now came up with the idea.  Meet the Follow Your Heart series by Jill Santopolo (she edits AND writes because she is a Renaissance woman).  Basically we’re talking Choose Your Own A Romance here.  A girl has to choose between two boys and you help make that choice.  I wonder if they’ll allow you to plug your fingers into the pages where you make the choices so that you can backtrack when things don’t start going your way (anyone else do that back in the day?).  “The Bachelorette in book form” someone said.  There you go.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (50th Anniversary Edition) by Roald Dahl, illustrated by Quentin Blake

CharlieChocolate Librarian Preview: Penguin Books (Summer 2014)

Sweepstakes time.  And really, was there ever a book better suited to a sweepstakes than Charlie and the Chocolate Factory?  Because it’s celebrating its 50th anniversary, you’ve probably heard the rumors about the current Golden Ticket Sweepstakes.  Well, it’s all pretty standard stuff.  Before August 8th kids ages 6 and up can apply for this pretty cool prize.  According to the site:

FIVE lucky winners will receive a Golden Ticket trip of a lifetime to New York City that includes:

  • A VIP experience at Dylan’s Candy Bar
  • Tickets to Matilda the Musical
  • A year’s supply of chocolate
  • A visit to the Empire State building
  • A library of Roald Dahl books
  • And MORE!

I love that they get to work in Dylan’s Candy Bar for a day.  But how does one determine what a “year’s supply of chocolate” really consists of, I wonder.  Hm.

In other Dahlian news, copies of Charlie are about to be published with golden tickets in the back of the paperbacks.  Aw.  There was also some mention made of the Miss Honey Social Justice Award which, “recognizes collaboration between school librarians and teachers in the instruction of social justice using school library resources.” Awesome.  In my own life, I recently finished reading Danny, the Champion of the World for the first time in my life.  I’m feeling pretty good about filling that gap in my knowledge now.

Grosset & Dunlap

The Whodunit Detective Agency: The Diamond Mystery by Martin Widmark, illustrated by Helena Willis

Whodunit Librarian Preview: Penguin Books (Summer 2014)

A good early chapter book is hard to find.  And a good early chapter book from Sweden?  Much easier to find now that Martin Widmark is being brought over to the States in book form.  As a librarian of my acquaintance put it recently, this book apparently contains “A snappy little narrative that will have young readers saying, ‘I know who did it!’ right out loud.”  Little wonder since the original books sold two million copies worldwide and the author is sometimes referred to as the “Children’s Agatha Christie”.  Are you curious yet?


Ice Whale by Jean Craighead George

IceWhale Librarian Preview: Penguin Books (Summer 2014)

There are some authors that pass away and their posthumous novels go on and on and on until you begin to doubt that they ever died in the first place.  Tupac Syndrome would be a good description of this.  It tends to hit children’s authors quite often (see: Eva Ibbotson, Diana Wynne Jones, etc.) and was even mocked in a rather brilliant College Humor piece called I Think They’re Running Out of Material for New Shel Silverstein Books back in 2011.  All that aside, we were assured that this final Jean Craighead George novel really will be her last.  Two of her children finished it and I like that it has a kind of a Heart of a Samurai book jacket going on.  Set in Northern Alaska (the same location as Julie of the Wolves, for the record) the book follows an Inuit boy who learns to bond with a whale.  From the description it sounded like it would pair particularly well with Rosanne Parry’s Written in Stone from last year.  And as Travis Jonker pointed out in his recent post 2014: The Year of the Whale, this book is just a drop in the ocean of a much larger trend.

Three Bears in a Boat by David Soman

ThreeBearsBoat Librarian Preview: Penguin Books (Summer 2014)

Speaking of whales, here’s a book that gives them some full credit.  I was so blown away by this title when I first read it that I immediately had to rush out and review it without considering how long it would be before it actually reached publication.  Really, this is the book of the year for me.  If you read no other picture book, read this one.  It’s a stunner in the purest sense of the word.  Really remarkable.

Portraits of Hispanic American Heroes by Juan Felipe Herrera, illustrated by Raul Colon

PortraitsHispanic Librarian Preview: Penguin Books (Summer 2014)

And finally, a book that I would like right now please.  Please.  Right now.  What’s that you say?  It’s not coming out until August?!  Well who made up THAT crazy rule?  Look, I don’t care when it’s coming out, I would like to see this book in my lap pronto.  I mean, first of all, it’s art by Raul Colon.  I don’t know if you’ve been paying attention but the man’s been on fire this year.  Have you seen his work on Baseball Is . . . by Louise Borden?  Or how about the pictures in Abuelo by Arthur Dorros?  Now we have 24 of his portraits in, what Penguin described as, “tawny golden tones”.  Penned by 2012 California Poet Laureate Juan Felipe Herrera, it covers the well known folks and the lesser know folks in equal degrees.  Admit it.  You haven’t seen anything like this before that came close to this level of quality.  It’s going to be for the middle grade crowd too, so bonus!

And that, as they say, is that.  There were plenty of other YA titles mentioned and even a guest or too, but I’ll quite while I’m ahead.  Thanks to Penguin for the preview.  Thanks to all of you for reading!


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21. App of the Week: Local Birds

local birdsTitle: Local Birds
Platform: iOS
Cost: Free





Springtime. Flowers are blooming. The sun is shining. Birds are singing… and flying by and hanging out on the lawn. Hey, what kind of bird is that anyway? If you’ve wondered about this, Local Birds can help.

photo 1

Local Birds pulls together a database of birds based on your location. If you use the browse function, birds are sorted by types, raptors, songbirds, etc and listed in order from most common to least common in your area. You can also search for birds that don’t live in your part of the world and get information about them as well. For each bird, the app gives a short description and pulls in data from around the web to provide detail. The Details tab links to the bird’s Wikipedia page, the Images tab links to Google Image search, and the Videos tab links to YouTube videos of the bird.

photo 2 (1) photo 3 (1)










Birdwatching is like a scavenger hunt for getting close to nature. In most places, if you pay attention, you’ll see birds. On this New England spring morning, I woke to bird calls, Chickadees and Crows, and something else that I’m not quite sure about. (One thing I wish this app had was a more consistent means of hearing bird calls. YouTube has great videos for some birds, Crows and Ravens for example, but nothing of the American Robin or Song Sparrow). If you pay more attention, you’ll notice things about the birds you see and hear. That’s all well and good if you enjoy nature and  are interested in paying attention to birds, but birdwatching is very specific. It’s not for everyone.

Something I noticed about this app that might be interesting to a wider audience is the way the app is structured. It pulls together information from different places to make a quick and useful resource focused on its topic. This is the kind of thinking teen researchers should be using when working on a large scale project: focusing on a topic, pulling data from multiple sources, and organizing it for ease of use. In that way, Local Birds, is like a research project presented as an app. I wonder if this is a type of project we might see more of in high schools and colleges as a companion to the traditional research paper. It’s something to consider, perhaps, when you’re not checking out that Red-tailed Hawk or trying to spot a Bald Eagle.

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22. Where YALSA Gets Revenue for Member Services and Support

Pam Spencer Holley, YALSA Fiscal Officer

Now that I have a year of experience with YALSA finances, it’s become obvious to me that there is sometimes confusion in the minds of members about our dues, requests for donations, and books and other products that we sell. Why does YALSA need to do all this?

When I first became active in YALSA in the fall of 1985, we were considered a small division because we had about 2000 members (today we have over 5,100) and we were only able to cover about 50% of our operating expenses. Because of YALSA’s inability to cover all of the costs of providing member services and support, ALA gave YALSA what is called the “small division subsidy,” which covered the rest of our expenses. While ALA generously provided the financial support to meet the basic needs of members, YALSA wasn’t able to offer new selection or award committee opportunities or take on large national projects as we just did with the IMLS grant and the report that was generated. Not only that, the division had only a deputy director and 2.3 other staff positions (today we have an executive director and 4.5 other positions).

All this changed in the early 2000s when YALSA worked out a plan with ALA to gradually increase revenues and move off of the small division subsidy.  Today, revenue from dues makes up about a third of YALSA’s total revenue.  However, additional funds are needed by our division to continue with our dozen award and selection committees, the webinars and tool kits that enable library workers to be well prepared to serve their teens, the various events at conference where we all have a chance to rub elbows with noted YA authors and experts in the field, and more. Our strategic committees form the heartbeat of our organization and funds are needed to ensure their work is made available to aid library workers and teens. Our member awards and scholarships require a minimum of $16,000every year, hence we have the Friends of YALSA society whose donations help ensure that we are able to recognize members for their achievements and support them in their professional growth.

The other two thirds of YALSA’s revenue comes from key sources, like the sale of books and e-learning, the YA Literature Symposium, ticketed events at ALA conferences, grants, individual donations, corporate sponsorships and interest from YALSA’s endowments.  All of the revenues that come into YALSA, from whatever source, are used to provide members with services and support.

Although finding room in your budget to pay for things like association dues can sometimes be a challenge, YALSA really does give you a lot of bang for your buck.  The highest dues category for membership in ALA/YALSA is $193 per year (the lowest is $59).  Some of the key benefits of membership add up to well over $193.  For example, all of these things come free with membership:

  • $35 subscription to YALSA E-News
  • $70 subscription to Young Adult Library Services
  • $760 worth of webinars on-demand
  • $588 in live monthly webinars

And those are just a few of the freebies and discounts members get from ALA and YALSA.  So, with an investment of $59 – $193, members get a minimum of $1,453 worth of resources – resources that help make your daily work easier and position you to advance your career.  Are you making the most of these perks that YALSA has to offer?  If not, you should be!  Check out this free 30 minute webinar about making the most of your membership: http://connectpro87048468.adobeconnect.com/p34esi7r6xh/.  And don’t forget one of the best values from your YALSA membership: the opportunity to be part of a group of like-minded librarians, educators and teen supporters who care about library services to teens. Now, that opportunity is priceless.

I hope this post helps explain a bit about how YALSA finds the funds to support member services and programs, as well as where dues fit into the picture.  Please don’t hesitate to get in touch with me (pamsholley@aol.com) if I can answer any questions you may have.

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23. Earlier this week @KirkusReviews...

Fates...I wrote about Lanie Bross' Fates:

Ten years ago, Corinthe made a huge mistake. Since then, she’s been exiled from her sister Fates, living on Earth among the humans. To earn her way back into the good graces of the Unseen Ones and be allowed to return home, she is tasked with helping humans achieve their destinies: whether that means facilitating meet cutes, making someone late for work, preventing an accident, saving a life...or ending one.

(I couldn't post the link earlier due to the Typepad debacle.)

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24. PFAS: “Welcome to the Science Lab” by Heidi Bee Roemer

Sylvia D. highlights “Welcome to the Science Lab” by Heidi Bee Roemer in her simple poem movie slideshow below. She even incorporates factual information alongside the poem text.

You’ll find this poem in the 5th grade section of The Poetry Friday Anthology for Science in Week 2: Lab Safety.

0 Comments on PFAS: “Welcome to the Science Lab” by Heidi Bee Roemer as of 4/24/2014 3:05:00 AM
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25. What’s Your Process?

Listen to a group of 6th graders discuss their writing process.

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