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Results 1 - 25 of 2,000
1. Spotlight on Breaking Sky by Cori McCarthy, Plus Giveaway

  Breaking Sky (Now in Paperback!) By Cori McCarthy   February 2, 2016; Tradepaper, ISBN 9781492621126   Book Info: Title: Breaking Sky Author: Cori McCarthy Paperback Release Date: February 2, 2016 Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire   Praise for Breaking Sky “Breaking Sky is an action-packed thrill ride that smashes through all kinds of barriers...

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2. Trombone Shorty

Trombone Shorty. Troy Andrews. Illustrated by Bryan Collier. 2015. Harry N. Abrams. 40 pages. [Source: Library]

Trombone Shorty is a picture book biography of Troy "Trombone Shorty" Andrews, a jazz musician from New Orleans. It is illustrated by Bryan Collier. Perhaps I should say BEAUTIFULLY illustrated by Bryan Collier. I have a weakness for illustrations this beautiful. I do. I can't help it.

I also tend to read picture book biographies of jazz musicians. If you read a lot of picture books, you know that there are new ones every year. If you don't read a lot of picture books, well, you might just be surprised at how many picture books are biographies of musicians past and present--not just jazz musicians, but all sorts of musicians. I'm not sure why, but, I think it is perhaps because picture books lend themselves so very well to rhythm and rhyme.

So did I enjoy this picture book? Yes! Very much. I loved the illustrations, as I've mentioned. And I love the focus on mentoring and legacies and heritage. One of the points the author stresses is that musicians help younger musicians, they should help younger musicians. They can teach; they can inspire; they can provide opportunities. He was helped along from a very young age. And this picture book pays tribute to those who helped him, who influenced him, who guided him. The author's note also mentions how he is eager to do the same for a new generation of musicians.

This one is definitely easy to recommend.

© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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3. Doug the Pug Inks Book Deal

51XRBqWk3HL._SX390_BO1,204,203,200_Internet sensation Doug the Pug has inked a book deal.

His owners Leslie Mosier and Rob Chianelli are working on a photo book called, Doug the Pug: The King of Pop Culture, for St. Martin’s Griffin. The title will feature shots of the popular Internet dog in his living room and out on the town with celebrities, among other things.

The book is slated for a November release, but is already attracting presales on Amazon. The title is already No. 1 in Dog Care books. The pug has more than 5 million social media followers across the various networks.

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4. FAN MAIL WEDNESDAY #227: The New Technology Embedded in this Letter Just Made My Head Explode!


This letter from Madison in Chicago was particularly amazing because it included a video message:

Scan 5

Fortunately my wife, Lisa, was home to help me with it. She downloaded a “QR Reader” app on her phone, we scanned the blobby thing, typed in the password, and instantly a video of Madison appeared on the phone. There she was, reading from my book! Incredible.

Here’s the letter in full, with my reply below:

Scan 2

My answer:

Dear Madison,

Wow, that was so cool. I’ve received many letters before, but yours was the first to include a QR Code. Is that what you call it? Amazing and wonderful to see you in that video. You read very well, and I liked where you were standing with those funky planks in the background, giving your video an artistic touch. Bravo! I appreciate all the work you put into it, and my guess is that your teacher — this “Schiller” person, male or female I couldn’t tell — helped a great deal in bringing this new technology into the standard “letter to the author” format. Very cool.

61ZJfCfXgSL._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_Thanks for reading four out of the six books in my “Scary Tales” series. Good point about Malick in One-Eyed Doll. He really did show a tremendous amount of courage. I liked that aspect of the story, that he was an older brother who looked out for his younger sister, Tiana.

You asked about six billion questions, so let me get those:

* Correction: I’m now 55 years old. Rats.

* Correction #2: Thank you, but I do look at least several days older than 30. Weeks even. Months, years. Let’s put it this way: If someone thinks I’m 53, I smile, say thank you, and explain that I’ve been eating right and exercising.

* I have given up my dream of playing for the New York Mets. They don’t need me. But just this morning I signed up with a men’s hardball baseball team. I managed a team for years, then gave it up when I decided to coach my son’s All-Star and Travel teams. He just turned 16 and doesn’t need me in the dugout anymore, so now it’s my turn. I guess the lesson there is that if you enjoy something, keep doing it . . . even if it’s not for the New York Mets.

CourageTestFrontCvr* New books? Yes, for sure, that’s my job. I have a new book coming out this October that also touches on the theme of courage. It’s called The Courage Test. It’s about a father who takes his son on an unexpected trip — the entire time, the boy, Will, wonders what’s really going on — and they travel from Fort Mandan in North Dakota west along the Lewis and Clark Trail. So there’s a lot of history built into the story, about the Corps of Discovery, the native people they encountered, Sacagawea, York, and more. They meet new people along the way and have various camping and whitewater adventures. And they do encounter a bear, both literally and metaphorically. I hope you read it! I am also writing a new Jigsaw Jones book. 

* I’ve won some awards over the years, nothing too spectacular, usually by making state lists and whatnot. Books that have won something include: Along Came Spider, Wake Me In Spring, Six Innings, and Bystander

* I can write a Jigsaw Jones book, or a Scary Tales, in two months. Longer books for older readers tend to take more time. Six months, nine months, even years. 

Illustration by Iacopo Bruno from Scary Tales #5: ONE-EYED DOLL.

Illustration by the great Iacopo Bruno from Scary Tales #5: ONE-EYED DOLL.

* My brothers are named Neal, Bill, Al, and John. My sisters are Barbara and Jean. Sadly, I have lost two brothers, Neal and John. Both are gone but not forgotten. My children are Nicholas, Gavin, and Maggie. The boys don’t like scary stories or movies, but Maggie is more like you. She loves to feel a sense of suspense, fear, and anticipation where her heart is racing, going boom, boom, boom. I think I wrote that series for readers like my Maggie.

* Cats are Midnight and Frozone. Our dog is Daisy.

Thank you for your fabulous letter. You really knocked it out of the park.

James Preller

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5. Giveaway: Breaking Sky by Cori McCarthy (US & Canada Only)

Breaking Skyby Cori McCarthyPaperback Release Date: February 2, 2016Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire   Praise for Breaking Sky “Breaking Sky is an action-packed thrill ride that smashes through all kinds of barriers at a Mach 5 pace.” -- Carrie Jones, New York Times bestselling author of the Need series “Breaking Sky had me in its...

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6. Scholastic to Publish a Book With the Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Script

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Art (GalleyCat)Arthur A. Levine Books, an imprint at Scholastic, will publish a hardcover book based on the special rehearsal edition script for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Parts I & II. The release has been scheduled for 12:01 a.m. on July 31; fans will recognize that this significant date is both Harry Potter and J.K. Rowling’s birthday. Pottermore will publish the eBook edition.

Here’s more from the press release: “It was always difficult being Harry Potter and it isn’t much easier now that he is an overworked employee of the Ministry of Magic, a husband, and father of three school-age children. While Harry grapples with a past that refuses to stay where it belongs, his youngest son Albus must struggle with the weight of a family legacy he never wanted. As past and present fuse ominously, both father and son learn the uncomfortable truth: sometimes darkness comes from unexpected places.”

Jack ThorneJohn Tiffany, and Rowling worked on the story for this theatrical production together. Back in October 2015, Rowling announced on Pottermore that this project will serve as the eighth story of her beloved book series. The opening date for the West End show has been set for July 30, 2016.

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7. Kickstarter Has Funded 100K Projects

Crowd-funding site Kickstarter has successfully funded 100,000 projects.

The 100,000th project to reach its goal is a photo piece called “Falklands/Malvinas: One War, all Wars”.

Several of these successes were in publishing, comics and journalism. For instance, the site helped to fund 3,521 comic books and comics related events. In addition, Kickstarter fund a collection of lost poems by Chilean poet and Nobel Laureate Pablo Neruda which will be published by Copper Canyon Press. Follow this link for more interesting facts about Kickstarter successes.

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8. Author Guest Post--Katherine Fleet

  Five Secrets You Didn’t Know About Katherine Fleet   Hi, everyone! I’m Katherine Fleet, and I’m so excited to be here on YA Books Central. I’m the debut author of The Secret to Letting Go from Entangled Teen. It’s a YA contemporary set in a fictional town on the Gulf...

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9. Audrey Vernick on The Kid from Diamond Street

vernick_kid from diamond streetIn our January/February 2016 issue, reviewer Dean Schneider talked with author Audrey Vernick about her clear love of America’s favorite pastime. Read the full review of The Kid from Diamond Street: The Extraordinary Story of Baseball Legend Edith Houghton here.

Dean Schneider: You’ve written a few books about baseball. Have you always been a fan? Or did you become one after you started writing about the sport?

Audrey Vernick: One of my favorite things about being a grownup is no one can make me write about explorers. I write about baseball because I truly love it and have for decades. While I am a devoted fan of a team I’ll not mention by name in a Boston-based publication, I also love the game’s rich, textured history and the individual stories folded within it.

From the January/February 2016 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

The post Audrey Vernick on The Kid from Diamond Street appeared first on The Horn Book.

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10. Release #Giveaway: Jewels Emerald Rebellion by Lakisha Spletzer


Happy Release Month!

Catch the sequel to Lakisha Spletzer's
debut space opera novel, Jewels.


emeraldrebellionThey entered and Jewels smiled. The room looked like a dojo. Martial arts had been a required course for any going into Special Ops. Jewels had enjoyed the rigorous training and discipline the training had given her. She hadn't done as much of it in recent years as she would like, but, if that was what Dex had in mind, she was all for it.

"I sense your happiness, my Onugrass. Is this room to your liking?"

"I haven't sparred in a while. That is why we are here, right?"

"That is correct, Mate. My father reminded me that you are a warrior and probably missed training. Was he correct in his assumption?"

"Yes, he is. I didn't say anything because I only wanted to learn about your culture. But, after dealing with Nala yesterday, I realized that I can't neglect the skills that will keep me alive. I'm not so naive as to think that you don't have enemies. I need to be able to protect myself and you. So training is a must."

"I am glad you feel that way."

Jewels heard the strange tone to his words and she glanced at his face. It was unreadable as always. Just what was Dex planning?

The whooshing of the doors opening caught her attention and she frowned at the interruption. An Eirarjuss strolled in and Jewels felt a moment of confusion. Who was this Gatoan? The Eirarjuss wasn't one she had met before. Was the newcomer another female trying to use Dex to become Queen?

That thought bothered Jewels and she swiftly tried to push it away. Never make assumptions. That's what Jeremy had constantly drilled into her. She knew better than to jump the gun about anything. She would wait for Dex's explanation about the new arrival before drawing any conclusions.

"Jelin, thank you for coming." Dex walked over to the Eirarjuss who bowed before responding.

"It is my honor, your Highness, to assist you and your mate."

Jewels gently brushed against Dex's mind. Not enough to intrude, but to let him know she was confused. He didn't block her, but he also didn't answer her. Immediately, she strengthened her mental defenses. The familiar rush of anticipation filled her. Maybe Jelin was a challenge that she had to overcome. So be it. She was ready. She'd already proved that with Nala.

"Jelin, this is my mate, Jewels." Dex turned and gestured for Jewels to come closer.

Jewels joined them, taking a moment to assess the taller Gatoan. All the Gatoans were taller than Jewels. That wasn't a problem. It meant she'd have a better advantage in a fight. At least in theory she'd have one. Every fight was different so who knew what might happen.

"It is an honor to meet you, Jewels, mate of his Highness."

"Nice to meet you," Jewels kept her tone neutral. So far the Eirarjuss was the complete opposite of Nala's grating and whiny personality. That was a perk.

"Mate, Jelin comes highly recommended by Lord Bravenone. She is one of the few female warriors on the ship. I wanted you to meet Jelin today because she is your new adviser and bodyguard."
Jewels frowned. Had she misheard him? "Bodyguard?"

"Yes. My father feels that you should have protection. Though one guard might be considered an insult to other Gatoans, I know that you will be fine with this arrangement on the ship until we can get more at home on Felinia."

"Really?" Jewels clenched her hands. Did Dex think her so incompetent that she couldn't take care of herself? All she needed was a little training and she would be fine. This was what she hated most about the whole “males are stronger than females” crap. True, males had the size advantage and strength but that didn't mean they couldn't be defeated. And it wasn't like she didn't have her psionic skills to augment her physical and weaponry skills. "And when was I going to be consulted about the need for a bodyguard?"

Dex's surprised look almost made her calm down but his next words only fueled her pique. "You are precious to me. I do not wish you to be harmed."

"Dex, just what am I to you?" she demanded. "I mean, really. What am I to you?"

"You are my mate. You should be kept safe at all cost."

"Uh...huh. And that's why we are going to have a problem."

"I don't understand."

Jewels smiled; she knew it wasn't a friendly one. She really wanted to rip into him so badly she could taste it. She struggled to keep from lashing out, but it was hard. She was tired of all the over protectiveness of the male Gatoans.

In a mock happy tone, she explained to her bewildered husband, "I know you don't, Dex. It's infuriating. I am not a doll that will break if you touch it. I am a warrior in my own right. By assigning me a bodyguard, you are offending me. You are telling me, by your actions, that you don't think I'm capable of taking care of myself."

"Mate, that is not...,"

"Furthermore, the last adviser you gave me wasn't worth the air she breathed and tried to kill me. I'm not feeling very welcoming of your choices in that area."

Jewels felt Dex try to talk telepathically but she kept him out. He needed to learn that he couldn't treat her this way. She wasn't a bed toy. She was a woman and a fighter. He had to acknowledge that or else she'd be stuck in a life she hadn't wanted.

"If I may interrupt, your Highness, Lady Jewels."

Jelin's voice distracted Jewels from arguing further with Dex. What could the Eirarjuss possibly have to add?


"Your Highness, let me spar with Lady Jewels."

Jewels was shocked at the suggestion and, judging by the stiffening of Dex's body, so was he. That intrigued Jewels. Was the Eirarjuss really that good? The competitor in Jewels wanted to find out.

"I agree."

Dex's annoyed growl didn't faze Jewels. She moved away from him and walked up to Jelin.

"I'm ready. Are there any rules I need to be aware of?"

Jelin smiled, baring her fangs. "Do there need to be any? Let us spar as if I am an enemy intent on killing you. Use any means necessary to stop me."

Jewels grinned. "If I win, you can still be my adviser but not my bodyguard." She had no objections to the rules. She and Jeremy used to do the occasional fight the same way. It helped keep them both sharp in the field. Riding that edge of near death. That suited the mood she was in perfectly.

"And, if I win, I will become your bodyguard and adviser."

"Sounds good to me. And, Dex, don't interfere," Jewels warned her glowering mate. Let him stew. She had to concentrate. Her life and respect depended on this fight.

About the Book

Special Lt. Jewels Enbran took to the stars with her husband, Dex LoudRoar, Crown Prince of Felinia, to search for answers about Earth's new allies and their enemy, the Lupinious Empire. She didn't expect to have such a difficult time fitting in or dealing with the crushing animosity of the xenophobic Gatoans.

Amid the political turmoil and the ongoing war with the Lupines, Jewels struggles with her own understanding of the two species. She tries to keep it together, but that is hard to do with the recurring nightmares, frequent assassination attempts and her own inner demons. She wants to find happiness, but at what cost? Can the deepening love and trust she shares with Dex be enough to withstand the challenges of his people? Is the fate of three empires worth more than her own desires?

She thought she would find peace and security with Dex, but the trials and tribulations of her unexpected pairing to royalty are just beginning....

Buy the eBook
Smashwords (all ebook formats) | Amazon/Kindle

Make sure and grab ebook #1 in the Alien Encounters Saga: Jewels for only $0.99.

Special Lieutenant Jewels Enbran, a human telepath unable to shield her mind from thoughts, uses telepathic anchors who protect her vulnerable mind. Her current anchor, Colonel Jeremy Lingley, is nearing burnout. An alien race is seeking an alliance with Earth and the pair are assigned the mission of discovering the aliens’ secrets.

Crown Prince Dex LoudRoar is a Gatoan warrior and a royal with a terrible secret. His people wage a constant war against their enemy, the Lupinious empire. But the tide of battle is turning and his people seek help from a new source: the humans of Earth.

With an interstellar war looming, Jewels and Dex seek salvation for their planets and find their destinies changed forever.

Buy the eBook
Smashwords (all ebook formats) | Amazon/Kindle

About the Author

Where to start? I suppose with the basics.

I'm an indie cross-genre writer of science fiction/fantasy/paranormal romance/YA.

I started writing stories and poetry at the age of 8 and haven't stopped yet. I think I've always been a writer, but becoming a published one took a lot of work and dedication.

That didn't happen until after I left my home state of Virginia, and moved to Florida in 2004.

Finding time to write while being a full-time mother and wife, can be difficult but I've always liked a challenge.

I've learned to not let life's many road blocks and speed bumps throw me to the curb. I can't wait to dive in and continue to share the stories swirling around in my head.

To learn more about me as an author feel free to visit any of links below.



  • Autographed Paperback Copy of Jewels 1 & 2 (US & Canada only)
  • $15 gift card from Amazon or Barnes & Noble (Nook)
  • Ebook pack: Jewels 1 &  2

Terms and Conditions: Giveaway ends Feb 29, 2016. Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com or BN.com Gift Code. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Lakisha Spletzer, http://www.lakishaspletzer.com. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

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11. Team Blog's Jolie Stekly Interviews Award-Winning Author (And #NY16SCBWI Faculty) Gary Schmidt

It's concise, intriguing, and packs some good advice. Check out Jolie's pre-#NY16SCBWI interview with Gary Schmidt here.

Illustrate and Write On!

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12. Goethe's color theory

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13. Kelly Clarkson Inks Picture Book Deal With HarperCollins

Kelly Clarkson has signed a deal with HarperCollins Children’s Books. The singer has become well-known as a three-time Grammy Award-winning recording artist and the winner of the 2002 season of American Idol.

According to The Seattle Times, Laura Hughes will serve as the illustrator on this project. The publication date for River Rose and the Magical Lullaby has been set for October 2016.

Clarkson posted a video about this picture book on her social media page; we’ve embedded her Twitter post above. TIME reports that “the story follows a little girl who’s too excited about the next day’s zoo visit to fall asleep, until her mom sings her a lullaby that gives her dreams about playing with hippos, penguins and other zoo creatures.”

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14. 15th Printing!

Lunch Lady and the Cyborg Substitute has entered its fifteenth printing and got a spiffy new back cover. Thank you to everyone for supporting this little, yellowy book!

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15. Starred reviews, March/April 2016 Horn Book Magazine


The following books will receive starred reviews in the March/April 2016 issue of The Horn Book Magazine:

Thunder Boy Jr. by Sherman Alexie; illus. by Yuyi Morales (Little, Brown)

When Spring Comes by Kevin Henkes; illus. by Laura Dronzek (Greenwillow)

School’s First Day of School by Adam Rex; illus. by Christian Robinson (Porter/Roaring Brook)

Twenty Yawns by Jane Smiley; illus. by Lauren Castillo (Two Lions)

Booked by Kwame Alexander (Houghton)

The Passion of Dolssa by Julie Berry (Viking)

Raymie Nightingale by Kate DiCamillo (Candlewick)

Burn Baby Burn by Meg Medina (Candlewick)

A Tangle of Gold by Jaclyn Moriarty (Levine/Scholastic)

Jazz Day: The Making of a Famous Photograph by Roxane Orgill; illus. by Francis Vallejo (Candlewick)

The post Starred reviews, March/April 2016 Horn Book Magazine appeared first on The Horn Book.

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16. A Pre-#NY16SCBWI Interview with Publisher Megan Tingley

Here's the interview I did with Megan Tingley, Executive Vice President and Publisher at Little, Brown and Company Books For Young Readers.

We talked about the increasing visibility of trans and other LGBTQ stories in children’s literature, what makes her say about a submitted manuscript not only, "YES, this is a Little Brown Book," but "I want this for MY list!”, and Megan even shared her favorite piece of advice for authors.

Thanks, Megan!

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17. LIVROS LIVRES! Pra dar e vender!

Eu vendo e você dá!
; )

Estou em fase de arrumação de estante, e com um sério caso de muito livro e pouco espaço. Irei vender todas as cópias e com o dinheiro comprar livros novos pra não ter como guardar!

São o presente ideal, porque crescem junto com os leitores, carregam memória afetiva, e fornecem amplo material para construção das narrativas pessoais das crianças. Quem sabe construir a si próprio, transforma o mundo. Já diziam por aí.

Caso deseje, mando de carona uma linda dedicatória ilustrada.

Os lindos títulos que querem levantar vôo são:

Cobra-coral e Outros Bichos do Mal
O Livro do Cavaleiro
O Livro de Laura
O Livro de Lola
O Monge e o Macaco

Valor, instimável, mas para maior praticidade, se liga aí:

PREÇO DE CAPA + POSTAGEM (calcularei para cada cidade)

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18. A Favor

I hate to ask a favor
‘Cause it puts somebody out.
Of course, to help another
Is what friendship’s all about.

But being self-sufficient
Is the way I like to be,
When all that I require
Is attended to by me.

Yet circumstances sometimes
Interrupt with booming voice,
Creating situations where
I really have no choice.

So I’ll quietly inquire
Of a relative or friend
If what I need taken care of
Is a hand that they could lend.

If they acquiesce, I’m grateful
For their trust I’ve surely earned
But I’ll never be relaxed until
The favor is returned.

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19. SE-YA Book Fest Press Release

  Young Adult Book Festival Launching in Rutherford Co.   MURFREESBORO, Tenn., January 25, 2016 – A one-of-a-kind book festival will connect area teens and the general public to authors of young adult literature with its launch in Murfreesboro March 11-12, 2016.   The details for the 2016 SE-YA in the...

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20. Behind-the-Scenes of the 11/22/63 Mini-Series

Hulu has unleashed a behind-the-scenes video for the 11/22/63 mini-series. In the video embedded above, Stephen King, the author behind the 11/22/63 novel, talks about the inspiration behind his alternative history story.

Members of the cast include James FrancoChris Cooper, Josh Duhamel, Lucy Fry, Sarah Gadon, and Cherry Jones. Franco’s character embarks on a time-traveling quest to prevent the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

Entertainment Weekly reports that the air date for the first of eight episodes has been scheduled for Feb. 15. Follow these links to watch the first teaser, the second teaser, and the full trailer. (via Slash Film)

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21. Review of The Kid from Diamond Street: The Extraordinary Story of Baseball Legend Edith Houghton

vernick_kid from diamond streetThe Kid from Diamond Street: The Extraordinary Story of Baseball Legend Edith Houghton
by Audrey Vernick; 
illus. by Steven Salerno
Primary   Clarion   40 pp.
3/16   978-0-544-61163-4   $17.99   g

Edith Houghton was “magic on the field,” a baseball legend of the 1920s. Playing starting shortstop for the 
all-women’s professional team the Philadelphia Bobbies, she drew fans to the ballpark with her impressive offensive and defensive talent. Besides that, Edith was just ten years old; her uniform was too big, her pants kept falling down, and her too-long sleeves encumbered her play. But she was good, and the older players took “The Kid” under their wing. And that’s the real story here, told through Vernick’s conversational text. It’s not so much about the baseball action but the team — barnstorming through the Northwest U.S. playing against male teams; experiencing ship life aboard the President Jefferson on the way to Japan; playing baseball in Japan; and learning about Japanese culture. Salerno’s appealing charcoal, ink, and gouache illustrations evoke a bygone era of baseball with smudgy-looking uniforms, sepia tones, and double-page spreads for a touch of ballpark grandeur. An informative author’s note tells more of Houghton’s story — the other women’s teams she played for, her job as a major league scout for the Philadelphia Phillies, and being honored at the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2006. An engaging story that reminds readers that “baseball isn’t just numbers and statistics, men and boys. Baseball is also ten-year-old girls, marching across a city to try out for a team intended for players twice their age.”

From the January/February 2016 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

The post Review of The Kid from Diamond Street: The Extraordinary Story of Baseball Legend Edith Houghton appeared first on The Horn Book.

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22. A Talk With Pat Scales

Photo courtesy of Pat Scales

Photo courtesy of Pat Scales

Pat Scales is the 2016 recipient of the ALSC Distinguished Service Award, and we’re thrilled to have her share some memories of her years of working with children, families, librarians, and educators across the country. ALSC Intellectual Freedom Committee member Miriam Lang Budin chatted with Pat via email:

Miriam Lang Budin: First of all, congratulations on receiving the 2016 ALSC Distinguished Service Award! What a well-deserved recognition of your many years of dedicated school librarianship, professional leadership, and continuing guidance to those of us in the trenches.

Do you have any funny stories about your work as a champion of intellectual freedom?

Pat Scales: Yes.  I helped an elementary school in the late 1980s deal with a parent who complained about William Steig’s Sylvester and the Magic Pebble because “Sylvester has an out of body experience.”  She was, of course, referring to Sylvester turning into a rock.  I have used that book in teaching students about the freedom to read.  I told them about the complaint about the “pig policemen” in the 1970s, and then I told them about the later complaint.  They asked me to explain an out of body experience.  I had to say I didn’t know because I had never had one.

One of my favorite stories is the time I was teaching the First Amendment to eighth graders.  I told them that My Friend Flicka had been banned in Florida because of the word “bitch” in reference to a female dog.  I asked them to name other words that society has turned into slang.  A boy on the front row said, “pussy.”  The students didn’t hear him and asked me what he said.  I turned to the class and said, “John said pussy, and he’s absolutely right.”  I then recited ‘The Owl and the Pussy Cat.’ Not one student laughed. Later the teacher and I invited the principal to the class to hear the lecture.  He was amazed by the students, and said it was one of the best lessons he had ever observed.  I turned to him and told him that I was sorry he missed “pussy.”  He collapsed on the floor laughing.

MLB: Have you ever been afraid for your safety when working in the field?

PS: No, not ever.  There were two incidents that happened when I was at a residential high school for the arts, but they didn’t frighten me.

I served on a panel at ALA about privacy and the Patriot Act. What we didn’t know until later was that some very conservative organizations had planted people in the audience.  When I returned home I received some very threatening telephone calls at work. Someone even wrote to our governor complaining about my views.  I was called from the governor’s office just to inform me that the governor stood behind me.  Security guards escorted me to my car for about a week.  I never heard anything more after that week.

A woman appeared in the library one day around 5:00 and began pulling books, marking specific pages with strips of paper, and stacking them on tables.  Most were art books that had nude paintings.  There were a few graphic novels that she added to the stacks.  She quickly fled when I asked her if I could help her.  Then I spotted a magazine that had my name on the label.  She had circled my name and written “the problem.” I never knew who she was.

MLB: Can you tell us about a satisfying victory?

PS: I worked with a group of citizens in Fayetteville, Arkansas who were fighting a woman who was leading a campaign to get any books that dealt with “sex” out of the school libraries.  The group addressed the school board in a kind of town hall meeting, and won their battle.  It was wonderful to see a community group rise in support of books, the right to read, and the right to seek information.

I was also an expert witness to the Annie on My Mind censorship trial in Olathe, Kansas. High school students sued the superintendent of schools after he pulled the book from the library shelves.  Garden’s book had been in the library for ten years, and there had never been a question until a gay/lesbian group wanted to gift the book to the school library. That made the superintendent nervous, and he dismissed the selection policy and the materials review policy, and banned the book. The students were brilliant, and they won the case.

MLB: Have there been any crushing defeats?

PS: Yes.  The Miami-Dade Public Schools removed Vamos a Cuba because they didn’t think it accurately represented life in the Communist country.  They cited the cover of the book where a young boy is smiling.  “No child would smile under the Castro regime.” There were other complaints: “Only the rich would wear the festival dress.” “The boy pulling the oxen was too clean and neat and didn’t represent hard work.”  The Florida ACLU took the case to court, and they called me as an expert witness. We won the case in the federal district court, but the school district appealed.  The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals is very conservative, and they ruled that the school board had not violated anyone’s First Amendment rights.  The book was permanently removed.

MLB: Is there an ongoing battle that you feel is especially important?

PS: We still deal with issues related to “labeling” of content in books, and restricting students to books on their “reading level” in school and public libraries.  This is extremely troubling, because this restricts young readers’ access to books they want, or information they need.  There are documented cases where books have been removed from a library based solely on a Common Sense Media review.  This site uses emoticons to label controversial issues in books and media.  It’s all taken out of context, and the folks working for them aren’t professionals. There are other websites that label in much the same way.

There have been many censorship cases related to “reading levels.”  Parents and teachers want their really “good” readers to read books that have “high reading levels.”  Sometimes these books are too mature for the reader.  For example, a newspaper in Arizona interviewed me when The Perks of Being a Wallflower was banned in an elementary school in Apache Junction.  The school had purchased the book because Accelerated Reader put it on the fourth-grade reading level.  This case prompted the State Superintendent to send a letter of “warning” to all school libraries in the state.  The Perks of Being a Wallflower isn’t appropriate for fourth-grade, and shouldn’t have been purchased for the elementary school.

No librarian should ever allow any company to determine what they purchase for their library.  We have a number of professional review journals to guide us.

MLB: What can we do to help?

PS: Talk the Talk.  Walk the Walk.  DO NOT succumb to pressure from organizations from the “right” or the “left.”  Review your selection policies and make sure they include statements related to “controversial” materials and cultural and historical accuracy.  Then stick to your policies.

Encourage state library associations to sponsor programs; enroll in webinars about the issues; write blogs and articles for journals and newsletters; and, sponsor Banned Books Week activities for kids and adults to make them aware of the issues.

Pat’s regular column in School Library Journal, Scales on Censorship, is a valuable resource for reasoned, practical responses to intellectual freedom concerns. Questions can be sent to pscales@bellsouth.net.

Thank you, Pat!

The post A Talk With Pat Scales appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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23. Jay Asher to Write a New Young Adult Novel

Jay Asher 200 (GalleyCat)Jay Asher has signed a deal with Penguin Young Readers. In the past, he has written two young adult novels: Thirteen Reasons Why and The Future of Us (a collaboration with Carolyn Mackler).

According to The Associated Press, Asher (pictured, via) has finished a contemporary romance novel entitled What Light. He drew inspiration to write this story “after reading about a family in Oregon with a Christmas tree lot.”

This young adult book will be Asher’s “first solo work of fiction in nearly a decade.” The publication date has been scheduled for Oct. 11. (via The New York Times)

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24. Most College Students Prefer Print to E-Books

Ninety-two percent of U.S. college students prefer print books to e-books, according to new research.

The numbers come from a four year study led by American University’s linguistics professor Naomi Baron who is also the authors of Words Onscreen: The Fate of Reading in a Digital World.

The research includes feedback from more than 420 university students from the U.S., Slovakia, Japan and Germany in 2010 and 2013. Tech Times has more:

The team also found that the main reason why students used e-books was because they were cheaper than the traditional paper book versions. It wasn’t always because it was easier to use or lighter to carry but some of the survey’s open answers included space saving reasons and convenience. When it comes to preference, paper trumps the screen.

(Via The Los Angeles Times).

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25. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

Scholastic will publish the eighth Harry Potter book, HARRY POTTER AND THE CURSED CHILD, on Harry's birthday--July 31, 2016. Check out all the details here.   Join the rest of the YA book world as we hyperventilate and mark our July calendars with shiny stars and lightning bolts!    

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