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Results 26 - 50 of 68,413
26. A Day for Biographers

Today's guest blogger is Catherine Reef, author of Leonard Bernstein and American Music; The Bronte Sisters: The Brief Lives of Charlotte, Emily, and Anne; and Jane Austen: A Life Revealed.


I can easily conjure up little Eleanor Roosevelt suffering through her lonely childhood, or Helen Keller, on the cusp of adult life, announcing her intention to go to Harvard; both scenes were imprinted on my memory by my early reading of biographies.
Biography thrives as a literary genre because people love to read about other people. This is true for readers of any age. A good biography breathes life into a figure readers may have met only briefly in a classroom or history book; it takes them behind the scenes, where they get to know the subject in family life; it places them on the spot as the subject experiences triumphs and setbacks, sorrow and joy, and learns how to navigate life.
                  I still like reading about people, but today I like writing about them as well. Biography lets me do what writers love to do: tell good stories. Even better, through biography I can explore a character in depth and create a vivid portrait in words. But writing is a solitary task, so like many writers I welcome opportunities to mingle with other people doing the same kind of work, to talk shop and gain from others’ wisdom. This is why I was happy to discover Biographers International Organization, or BIO for short.
                  BIO is young (founded in 2010), but it has been strong and active from the start. Having as its mission “to promote the art and craft of biography, and to further the professional interests of its practitioners,” BIO presents the annual BIO Award to a distinguished biographer for his or her body of work. This year’s recipient is Stacy Schiff, author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning Véra and other notable works. BIO also hosts a terrific annual conference that always sends me home with many new ideas to think about and apply to my work.
                  At this year’s Compleat Biographer Conference, which will be held at the University of Massachusetts Boston on May 17 and 18, I will moderate a panel on young adult biography. On the panel will be two accomplished biographers, Mary Morton Cowan and Kem Knapp Sawyer, and a representative of the world of children’s book blogging, Dorothy Dahm.
Cowan received a 2010 National Outdoor Book Award and other honors for Captain Mac: The Life of Donald Baxter MacMillan, Arctic Explorer (Calkins Creek). She has also published numerous magazine stories and articles, a novel based on MacMillan’s experiences, and a book on logging in New England. Cowan has said about her work, “I am pleased and proud that these books give young readers a glimpse of relatively unknown history—dangerous and adventurous chapters of history!”
Sawyer’s recent biographies are of Mohandas Gandhi and Nelson Mandela (both from Morgan Reynolds) and Harriet Tubman and Abigail Adams (both from DK Publishing). “I try to figure out what gave my subjects the ambition and the drive to set out to change the world,” she said in a recent interview. “And I like to focus on what they were like when they were young, before they went on to become leaders.” Sawyer has written as well about current social issues such as the situation of refugees worldwide, and historical subjects such as the Underground Railroad. She also reports on youth in developing countries for the Pulitzer Center, an organization that supports journalism and education.
In recent years, book bloggers and online reviewers have become increasingly influential in the world of children’s literature. Dahm’s lifelong interest in biography for young readers led her to launch the Kidsbiographer’s Blog (http://kidsbiographer.com/), where she reviews new and noteworthy biographies for children and young adults and interviews their authors. A professor of English at Castleton State College in Vermont, Dahm has contributed articles and reviews to publications in the United States and Great Britain. I’m eager to hear what she has to say about the state of young adult biography today and what she looks for in a book of this genre.
Other conference sessions will focus on such matters of craft as creating suspense in biography and finding the right balance between a subject’s life and work, and on practical aspects of the writing life: dealing with agents, marketing, and the like. There will be plenty to interest biographers writing for any age level. You can learn more about the Compleat Biographer Conference from BIO’s website: http://biographersinternational.org/conference/. I hope to see you in May!

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27. It’s SOL Time!

What's going on in your world today? Share your story here today at TWT!

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28. Greetings from Somewhere : The Mystery of the Gold Coin AND Greetings from Somewhere: The Mystery of the Mosaic, by Harper Paris and illustrated by Marcos Calo, 166 pp, RL 2

<!-- START INTERCHANGE - GREETINGS FROM SOMEWHERE THE MYSTERY OF THE GOLD COIN -->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);} First, The Kingdom of Wrenly, a fantastic new Bridge Chapter Book series with the rare (for this reading level) traditional fantasy setting and

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29. PFAS: “Let’s All Be Scientists” by Renee M. LaTulippe

Today Melinda L. features “Let’s All Be Scientists” by Renee M. LaTulippe. I think she really captures the spirit of the poem with her nature images and jaunty background music. Plus she includes a second reading by children, too! Check it out.

Click here.



You’ll find this poem in 2nd grade, Week 1 in The Poetry Friday Anthology for Science


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30. Good Night, Trucks!: a Bedtime Book by Brian Biggs

I have discovered that little boys’ interest in trucks begins at a very early age. Right now, one of my toddler’s favorite books is Everything Goes: Good Night Trucks by Brian Biggs. He loves to look at the colorful, cartoon illustrations of all of the trucks. The story consists of one or two trucks per spread, and it includes old favorites as well as some less familiar trucks to build a toddler’s vocabulary. I always know when my toddler finds the ice cream truck because he starts smacking his lips, and he does his best monster impression when he gets to the monster truck page. Little ones will love saying good night to all their favorite trucks.

Posted by: Liz


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31. The 2014 Oklahoma Book Awards...

Mojo...have been announced.

The YA prize went to MOJO, by Tim Tharp.

Which, YAAAAAAAAAAAY!

Click on through for the other winners!

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32. Kindle Daily Deal: Strange Chemistry title.

I love this press, and I make a point of buying their stuff whenever it's on sale.

SO HERE YOU GO, AMAZON. TAKE MY $1.99 AND GIMME MY COPY OF ROSIE BEST'S SKULK.

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33.

Have been writing lots of reviews ... now I'm (slowly) getting around to sharing them. This is my review of The Boy on the Wooden Box by Leon Leyson.

"What struck me most about the book was not how Mr. Leyson left me feeling even more bitter about what the Nazis did, but how he carried himself ... if he was bitter, it didn't show here."

http://bit.ly/1hUC6zr CHILDREN'S BOOK REVIEWS - THE BOY ON THE WOODEN BOX; How the Impossible Became Possible . . . on Schindler's List by Leon Leyson

from Google+ RSS http://ift.tt/1jFQlZ5

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34. Clip: The Fault in Our Stars.

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35. National Library Week



What is National Library Week? First sponsored in 1958 by the American Library Association, National Library week is celebrated by all types of libraries across the United Sates.  During this annual celebration our nation's libraries and librarians promote library use and support. It begins April 13 through April 19th with the theme "Lives change @ your library."
We hope the library has a positive impact on your life.


We're celebrating this week with a Book Character Scavenger Hunt.  Come in and hunt all over the children's room to find the characters and win a prize. The scavenger hunt is going on until this Saturday.


posted by Josephine



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36. Twelve Minutes to Midnight -- Christopher Edge

Twelve minutes to midnightI love this cover art. Very Gorey-esque, no?

London, 1899.

Bedlam Hospital has a disturbing problem: every night, at precisely Twelve Minutes to Midnight, the inmates begin feverishly writing gibberish—on paper, on the walls, on themselves; in pencil, in ink, in blood. In the morning, none of the inmates have any memory of their actions, and every night, the madness spreads further. Having exhausted every medical avenue*, the authorities turn to Montgomery Flinch, an author who has recently taken England by storm with his macabre tales of terror published in the Penny Dreadful.

Little do they know, Montgomery Flinch doesn't exist. The stories are actually written by thirteen-year-old Penelope Treadwell, the orphaned heiress who owns the Penny Dreadful.

But Penelope isn't going to let a trifling detail like THAT prevent her from investigating...

Pros:

  • Loads of atmosphere, action, and tense moments.
  • Details like the secret door leading to the SPOILER, and the mysterious, beautiful widow are nice nods to the genre and suggest a real affection for it.
  • Edge doesn't condescend to his audience: he doesn't over-explain plot points, and he never actually spills the beans about the specific events the prisoners are writing about. Deciphering those texts isn't necessary to enjoy the story, but they'll make a nice Easter Egg for any readers with a basic knowledge of twentieth-century history.

Cons:

  • I got the impression that Edge was shooting for Late Nineteenth-Century Verbose and Flowery, but there's a distinct lack of rhythm in the prose. For example: "Behind him, Alfie failed to hide the smirk on his face as he took a sip from one of Monty's discarded glasses before grimacing in sudden disgust." In other words, much of the book feels like one big run-on sentence.
  • There's nothing in the way of character arc or growth: at the end of the story, the main characters are exactly who they were at the beginning. (I suppose that could be chalked up as a nod to the conventions of the genre, but as always, I don't like that as an argument, as it suggests that genre fiction is somehow 'lesser' than 'literary' fiction. Anyway.)
  • For a smart girl, Penelope is amazingly slow to put two and two together. Also, three-quarters of the way in, a plot point requires her to suddenly possess Crazy Science Skills which she explains away by saying that she's 'always' had a strong interest in science. It was so out of left field that I wrote NANCY DREW MOMENT in my notes.

Nutshell: Plenty of atmosphere and action, but no character development or emotional depth.

_____________________________

*I think? Hopefully this wasn't their first choice of solution?

_____________________________

Book source: ILLed through my library.

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37. Mountains Beyond Mountains (2013)

Mountains Beyond Mountains: The Quest of Dr. Paul Farmer, A Man Who Would Cure the World. By Tracy Kidder. Adapted for Young People by Michael French. 2013. Random House. 288 pages. [Source: Review copy]

Some books are intimidating to review. They just are. Such is the case with Mountains Beyond Mountains. The book I read was the "adapted for young people" edition; it was adapted by Michael French. The book is good, very good. The subject is serious, but, the style is personal. The subject of the book is Dr. Paul Farmer. The book is not always in chronological order, but, essentially by the time you're done, you've got a good grasp on who he is, what he does, why he does it, how he grew up, how he balances (or not) his personal life and professional life, etc. The book seems very well-researched and quite detailed. I'm not sure all those personal details were essential. For example, I'm not sure readers need to follow every little fight he had with an ex-girlfriend and how that relationship developed and fell out. I suppose, it was interesting to have another strong opinion as to what he was like to be around on a day to day to day basis, but, was it essential? I'm not sure. 

 The book chronicles decades worth of work, mainly but not exclusively in Haiti. There is a lot of discussion about infectious diseases: how to treat them, how to make the most effective treatments available to everyone, how to decide who gets what and who pays what, etc. TB-MDR, HIV, AIDS among others.

The book has an honest, open approach to it. Many parts are narrated by the author who, over the years, accompanied him various places, observed him working and interacting, traveled with him to various conferences, etc. The author, of course, also was in contact with him at other times through email. The author, again, had access to interview those closest to Farmer. The book definitely reflects this.

I would recommend this one.


© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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38. Review of the Day: Boys of Blur by N.D. Wilson

BoysBlur Review of the Day: Boys of Blur by N.D. WilsonBoys of Blur
By N.D. Wilson
Random House Books for Young Readers
$16.99
ISBN: 978-0-449-81673-8
Ages 9-12
On shelves April 8th.

I like a kid’s book with ambition. It’s all well and good to write one about magic candy shops or goofy uncles or simpering unicorns or what have you. The world is big and there’s room for every possible conceivable type of book for our children you can imagine. But then you have the children’s book authors that aim higher. Let’s say one wants to write about zombies. Well, that’s easy enough. Zombies battling kids is pretty straightforward stuff. But imagine the chutzpah it would take to take that seemingly innocuous little element and then to add in, oh I dunno, BEOWULF. N.D. Wilson is one of those guys I’ve been watching for a very long time. The kind of guy who started off his career by combining a contemporary tale of underground survival with The Odyssey (Leepike Ridge). In his latest novel, Boys of Blur Wilson steps everything up a notch. You’ve got your aforementioned zombies as well as a paean to small town football, an economy based on sugar cane harvesting, spousal abuse, and rabbit runs. It sounds like a dare, honestly. “I dare you to combine these seemingly disparate elements into a contemporary classic”. The end result is a book that shoots high, misses on occasion, but ultimately comes across as a smart and action packed tale of redemption.

There is muck, then sugarcane, then swamps, then Taper. The town of Taper, to be precise, where 12-year-old Charlie Reynolds has come with his mother, stepfather, and little sister to witness the burial of the local high school football coach. It’s a town filled with secrets and relatives he never knew he had, like homeschooled Sugar, his distant cousin, with whom he shares an instant bond. Together, the two discover a wild man of the swamps accompanied by two panthers and a sword. The reason for the sword becomes infinitely clear when Charlie becomes aware of The Gren. A zombie-like hoard bent on the town’s obliteration (and then THE WORLD!), it’s up to one young boy to seek out the source of the corruption and take her (yes, her) down.

I had to actually look up my Beowulf after reading this. The reason? The opening. Wilson doesn’t go in for the old rules that state that you should begin your book with some kind of gripping slam-bang action scene. His first page? It reads like an ode. Like a minstrel has stepped out of the wings to give praise to the gods and to set the scene for you. Only in this case it’s just the narrator telling you what’s what. “When the sugarcane’s burning and the rabbits are running, look for the boys who are quicker than flame.” Read that line aloud for a second. Just taste and savor what it’s saying. It sounds familiar, doesn’t it? Like you’ve read it somewhere else before (particularly that “look for the” part). Then there’s that last line. “Out here in the flats, when the sugarcane’s burning and the rabbits are running, there can be only quick. There’s quick, and there’s dead.” So I looked up the beginning of Beowulf just to see if, by any chance, Wilson had cribbed some of this from his source material. Not as such. The original text is a bit more concerned with great tribal kings past, and all that jazz. That doesn’t make Wilson’s book any less compelling, though. There’s a rhythm to the opening that sucks you in immediately. It’s not afraid to be beautiful. It begs to be heard from a tongue.

And while I’m on the topic of beautiful language, Wilson sure knows how to turn a phrase. If he has any ultimately defining characteristic as a writer it is his complete and utter lack of fear regarding descriptions. He delves into them. Swims deep into them. Can you blame him? Though a resident of Idaho, here he evokes a Florida that puts Carl Hiaasen to shame. Examples of some of his particularly good lines:

“As for the church bell, it crashed through the floorboards and settled into the soft ground below. It’s still down there, under the patched floor, ringing silence in the muck.”

“Charlie looked at the sky, held up by nothing more than the column of smoke he’d noticed during the service.”

“Charlie stopped at the end, beside a boy with a baby face on a body the size and shape of someone’s front door.”

And I’m particularly fond of this line about new siblings: “When Molly had come, she had turned Charlie into a brother, adding deep loves and loyalties to who he was without asking his permission first.”

The book moves at a rapid clip, but not at the expense of the characters. For one thing, it’s nice not to have to read about a passive hero. From early in the book, we know certain things about Charlie that are to serve him well in the future. As the story says, thanks to experiences with his abusive father, “he could bottle fear. He’d been doing it his whole life.” This gives Wilson’s hero a learned skill that will aid him in the rest of the story. And when there are choices to be made, he makes them. He isn’t some child being taken from place to place. He decides what he should and should not do in any given moment and acts. Sometimes it’s the right choice and sometimes it’s wrong, but it is at least HIS choice each time.

The sugarcane fields themselves are explained a bit late in the narrative. On page 64 or so we finally get an explanation about why the boys are running through burning fields to catch rabbits. For a moment I was reminded of Cynthia Kadohata’s attempts to explain threshing in her otherwise scintillating book The Thing About Luck. Wilson has the advantage of having an outsider in his tale, so it’s perfectly all right for Charlie to ask why the only way to successfully harvest cane is to burn it, “Fastest way to strip the leaves . . . Stalks is so wet, they don’t burn.” Mind you, this could have worked a little earlier in the story, since much of the book requires us to take on faith why the rabbit runs occur.

It’s also an unapologetically masculine story as well. All about swords and fighting and football and dangerous runs into burning sugarcane fields. The football is particularly fascinating. In an age when concussions are becoming big news and people are beginning to turn against the nation’s most violent sport, it’s unique, to say the least, to read a middle grade book where small town football is a way of life. Small town football almost NEVER makes it into books for kids, partly because baseball makes for a better narrative by its very definition. Football’s more difficult to explain. Its terms and turns of phrase haven’t made it into the language of the cultural zeitgeist to the same extent. For an author to not only acknowledge its existence but also give it a thumbs up is almost unheard of. Yet Boys of Blur could not exist without football. Charlie’s father went pro, as did his stepfather. The book begins by burying a coach, and there are long seated animosities in the town behind old high school football rivals. For many small towns, life without football would be untenable. And Boys of Blur acknowledges that to a certain extent.

The women that do appear are few and far between, but they are there. One should take care to note that it’s Wilson’s source material that lacking in the ladies (except for the big bad, of course). And he did go out of his way to add a couple additional females to the line-up. It’s not as if Charlie himself doesn’t notice the lack of ladies as well anyway. At one point he ponders the Gren and wonders why there aren’t any girls. The possible explanation he’s given is that much as a selfish man is envious of his sons, so would a selfish woman find her own daughters to be competition. Take that as you may. We veer close to Caliban country here, but Wilson already has one classic text to draw from. Shakespeare can wait.

Charlie’s mother would be one other example of a woman introduced to this story that gets a fair amount of page time. On paper you’d assume she was just a victim, a woman who continues to fear her ex-husband. But in reality, Wilson gives her much more credit. She’s the woman who dared to get out of an untenable situation for the sake of her child. A woman who managed to find another husband who wasn’t a carbon copy of the first and who has done everything in her power to protect her children in the wake of her ex-husband’s threats. And most interesting, Wilson will keep cutting back to her in the narrative. He doesn’t have to. There’s a reason most children’s fantasy novels star orphans. Include the parents and there’s a lot of emotional baggage to attend to. But Wilson’s never liked the notion of orphans much, so when his story cuts back to Natalie Mack and what she’s up to it’s a choice you go along with. In Wilson’s books parents aren’t enemies but allies. It goes against the grain of the usual narratives, wakes you up, and makes for better books.

Where do heroes find their courage and resolve? In previous books Wilson had already gone underground and into deep dark places. In Boys of Blur he explores the dual worlds of cane and swamp alike. Most epic narratives of the children’s fantasy sort are long, bloated affairs. They feel like they can’t tell their tales in anything less than 300 pages, and even then they end up being the first in a series. Wilson’s slick, sleek editing puts the bloat to shame. Clocking in at a handsome 208 pages it’s not going to be understood by every child reader. It doesn’t try for that either. Really, it can only be read by the right reader. The one that’s outgrown Harry Potter and Percy Jackson. The one who isn’t scared off by The Golden Compass and who will inform the librarian that they can’t possibly impress him or her because they’ve read “everything”. This is a book to stretch the muscles in that child’s brains. To make them appreciate the language of a tale as much as the action. And yes, there are big smelly zombies that go about killing people so win-win, right? Some may say the book ends too quickly. Some will wonder why there isn’t a sequel. But many will be impressed by what Wilson’s willing to shoot for here. Like the boys in the cane, this book speeds out of the gate, quick on its feet, willing to skip and hop and jump as fast as possible to get you where you need to go. If you’ve read too much of the same old, same old, this is one children’s book that’s like no other you know out there. Gripping.

On shelves now.

Source: Galley sent from author for review.

Like This? Then Try:

  • Zombie Baseball Beatdown by Paolo Bacigalupi – Lots of similarities, actually. Particularly when it comes to beating down zombies in cane fields / corn fields.
  • Beowulf by Gareth Hinds – Undoubtedly the best version of Beowulf for kids out there, this is Hinds’ masterpiece and is not to be missed.
  • The House of Dies Drear by Virginia Hamilton – Bear with me here. It makes sense. In both books you’ve mysterious African-American men hiding a secret of the past, scaring the local kids. I draw my connections where I can.

First Line: “When the sugarcane’s burning and the rabbits are running, look for the boys who are quicker than flame.”

Other Blog Reviews:

Misc: Read some of the book yourself to get a taste.

Videos:
Remember, if you will, that Wilson both shot and narrated the following book trailer. One of the best of the year, too:

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39. Starstruck (2013)

Starstruck. Rachel Shukert. 2013. Random House. 339 pages. [Source: Review copy]

Starstruck is delightful and fun. It is. It is set in 1938 in Hollywood. It features three heroines; the narration switches back and forth between all three throughout the novel. The three aren't always friends. But. They aren't always enemies either. Each girl has a dream, a hope, an idea of how they want their happily ever after to come about. Selfishness comes naturally, but, that doesn't mean the girls lack depth of feeling.

Margaret (Margo) Frobisher (Sterling) has dreamed of being discovered for years and years. She is more than a little obsessed with the movies, with the big stars. When she is discovered, her life will change forever. It wouldn't have to be FOREVER, but, her family makes it super-dramatic. If she signs a contract with Olympus Studios, if she chooses to become an actress, then they never want to hear from her again. No matter what. She can never come home. Margo doesn't even take a minute to consider. To be a star is her destiny!

Amanda Farraday has reinvented herself more than once. She is another hopeful under contract at Olympus. She has not had her moment to shine...yet. She is not as obsessed with BEING A STAR as Margo. I think Amanda would settle for happily ever after off screen. I think Amanda just wants to be loved. Unfortunately, she seems to be caught in a world where appearance is everything and secrets have to stay buried because no one wants to live in the real world. I really cared about Amanda's story.

Gabby Preston is a talented singer, and a fine actress. Is she a great dancer? Not really. And Olympus wants her to SING and DANCE and ACT. To make it big, she needs to have it all, and Gabby isn't quite there yet. They encourage her to lose weight. They send her to a special doctor with special pills. Gabby is enthusiastic, or, as enthusiastic as one can be when struggling. Is Gabby happy? No! She wants to be a big star. She wants a HAPPILY EVER AFTER. And that means a romance with a star. Even if that romance is dictated and scripted--the product of the studio. Gabby has never felt good enough, she's always felt like an almost. Gabby, like Amanda, could use some good unconditional love.

Starstruck also features MYSTERY and ROMANCE.

For me, this series has more potential than Luxe. I enjoyed Luxe, but, saw the flaws and weaknesses with each book. That didn't stop me from reading the series! I read each and every one. I remember liking some characters, hating some characters. There weren't any characters that I truly LOVED. In Starstruck, I actually cared about all three girls.

© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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40. Today @KirkusReviews...

The-vigilante-poets-of-selwyn-academy-kate-hattemer...I wrote about The Vigilante Poets of Selwyn Academy, and OMG I LOVE LOVE LOVED IT:

I laughed SO MUCH while reading it. Laughed and laughed and laughed. If Ethan wasn’t “stewing in the Crock-Pot of betrayal,” he was taking a “dumbwaiter ride to hell,” or becoming part of a “tornado of justice.” I loved the scenes with his triplet sisters; Ethan’s ongoing willingness to play with language (the past tense of high five is apparently “high fove”); and the many, many literary references (“...we were kicking it old-school, searching his files in the grand tradition of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler”)

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41. So You Want To Read Middle Grade: Nonfiction for Middle Grade by Sarah Albee


Sarah Albee writes nonfiction for middle grade readers. She is the author of Poop Happened and Bugged. You can find her online at:  http://www.sarahalbeebooks.com/

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I write nonfiction for middle graders, and my mission is to get kids who’ve been traumatized by deadly-dull social studies textbooks to unthink that they hate history. One tactic I use is to select a subject kids will be interested in—be it sanitation, insects, clothing, disease, poison—and trace it chronologically through history. I feel an obligation to entertain them, to astonish them, to make them laugh. After all, they could be reading fiction. I want them to see that history is full of conflict, tension, controversy, emotion, drama. 

Humorous writing does not equal unserious writing. Some of my favorite adult writers – Mary Roach, May Berenbaum, Stephen Jay Gould--are serious scholars and hilarious writers. Most of my favorite middle school history writers are that, too. They understand that to snag the interest of a middle school kid, to expect her to pick up a nonfiction book that hasn’t been assigned to her, it’s our job to make it irresistible. How? Through the use of humor, offbeat topics, engrossing stories, and lots of fascinating—or disgusting, or lurid--details.
           
Here are some of my favorites, new and backlist, that may help change kids’ minds about history.

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How They Choked by Georgia Bragg (Walker, May, 2014)

A delightful follow-up to her wickedly-wonderful How They Croaked (Walker, 2011), both of which are enhanced by Kevin O’Malley’s evilly-funny illustrations. Bragg combines humor with impressive research, as she recounts stories of famous flawed figures and their fabulous fiascoes. As she points out in her intro, “sometimes historians lose sight of the fact that their subjects were human beings. Real people make mistakes (even historians).”

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The Raucous Royals Test your Royal Wits: Crack Codes, Solve Mysteries, and Deduce Which Royal Rumors are True written and illustrated by Carlyn Beccia (HMH 2008)

Beccia’s biographies of twelve European rulers are funny, fascinating, and thoroughly-researched. She’s a hilarious writer (check out her blog here). http://www.raucousroyals.com/ Her breezy, conversational style engages readers and invites them to be active participants, to recognize that contemporary sources can be unreliable, to learn to interpret biases and sort out facts from rumors. It’s an excellent mentor text for helping kids “identify author’s point of view and purpose.”

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Tales of the Cryptids: Mysterious Creatures that May or May Not Existby Kelly Milner Halls, Rick Spears, and Roxyanne Young (Millbrook Press, 2006)

For kids fascinated by cryptozoology (and I know many), this book gives evidence for and against mythical monsters like Bigfoot, the Loch Ness Monster, and Champ, as well as examining confirmed real-life monsters like giant squids and the coelacanth. The authors present eyewitness accounts, blurry photos, and speculative reconstructed models. They include interviews with experts on both sides of the argument, and discuss famous hoaxes. “For Further Investigation” provides websites and sources for curious kids interested in following up.

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Women of the Frontier: 16 Tales of Trailblazing Homesteaders, Entrepreneurs, and Rabble-Rousers by Brandon Marie Miller (Chicago Review Press, 2013)
Miller profiles 16 women of the western US, and every story sucks you in with electrifying details and masterful storytelling. Kids will love the gritty, gripping accounts of life on the frontier, liberally interspersed with fascinating excerpts from letters and diaries and other primary sources. Miller’s unflinching accounts of the horrors of privation, insects, disease, and, yes, laundry—make every story a page-turner.


And on my to-read list:

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Lives of the Explorers by Kathleen Krull (HMH, August 2014)

I am a big fan of all of Krull’s Lives of… books and can’t wait for this one!

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Bad Girls: Sirens, Jezebels, Murderesses, and Other Female Villains by Jane Yolen and Heidi E.Y. Stemple (Charlesbridge, 2013)

 I love the sound of this book for its approach to the lives of some of the baddest (or possibly just misunderstood or misguided) women in history. As Booklist’s reviewer put it, “ . . . both an introduction and afterword focus on how history changes its opinion on people’s actions, the way history’s winners get the glory, and whether circumstances shape events more than personalities do.” Plus it’s got an awesome cover.






0 Comments on So You Want To Read Middle Grade: Nonfiction for Middle Grade by Sarah Albee as of 4/15/2014 8:29:00 AM
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42. More footage from The Giver has been released...

...and yes, some of it is in black and white:

I'm still feeling EXTREMELY skeptical. It just looks way... flashier than I ever pictured the book.

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43. Male Monday: Tim Z. Hernandez

Tim Z. Hernandez is an award winning author and performance artist. His debut collection of poetry, Skin Tax (Heyday Books, 2004) received the 2006 American Book Award from the Before Columbus Foundation, the James Duval Phelan Award from the San Francisco Foundation, DSC03383and the Zora Neal Hurston Award for writers of color dedicated to their communities.

 

Dr.Tim Z. Hernandez in his own words.

“Growing up I wasn’t one of those well-read literary types, not in high school, and not in those liminal years after, when I found myself in a void, a space of total possibility. I was not well read at all, but well read-to. My first encounters with literature were through voice, expression, and embodiment. It was my mother, Lydia Hernandez, a self-made woman and product of the harsh New Mexico landscapes, who believed in the transformative magic of language and narrative. And she would read to me during those long migrant road trips, field to field, across state lines and shifting landscapes. The whole way my father, Felix Hernandez, a sarcastic Tejano, spun these tales, these written words, off in new and strange directions. He was a consummate jokester, a stand-up comedian of the fields, and of family barbecues. But always, stories were at the heart of our family. This was my beginning.” source

 

Home

Fresno is the inexhaustible nerve
in the twitching leg of a dog
three hours after being smashed
beneath the retread wheel
of a tomato truck en route to
a packing house that was raided
by the feds just days before the harvest,
in which tractors were employed
to make do where the vacancy
of bodies could not, as they ran out
into the oncoming traffic of Highway 99,
arms up in dead heat, shouting
the names of their children,
who were huddled nearby,
in an elementary school, reciting
out loud, The House That Jack Built.

source; with reading by the author

 

The following is from an interview by Dini Karasik and appeared on the blog “on writers and writing” earlier this month. Click here to read the entire interview

DK: Speaking of limitations, young writers are often told that they should write what they know. Do you agree with this instruction? What is a writer’s obligation to himself, the craft, the reader?

TH: I think each writer has to come to these terms on his or her own, it’s different for each. In our process, if we stick with it long enough, we build our own philosophies about why we write and who we write for. Around 1997, the late poet Andres Montoya and I were having a conversation one day, and he asked me about a poem I had written. I was trying to articulate to him what it was about and when I was done he leaned his head to one side and sort of chuckled, then said, “What’s your purpose, bro?”

I think this is the question we ultimately end up confronting. What is our purpose? As to the question of “writing what we know/don’t know,” that’s a one dimensional way of looking at it. Things aren’t merely black or white. Right or wrong. True or false. Know and don’t know. And this is precisely why we write, to work through the complex layers toward some sense of an understanding.

If we look honestly at our own lives, we know this is true. Sometimes I look in the mirror and wonder who the hell that is staring back at me. On the one hand, I know that guy. On the other hand, there are things taking place inside me, tiny exchanges, unjust compromises, molecular wars going on, things I’ll never know about within me. But again, this comes down to personal philosophy. If I was forced to choose a side I would have to say I only write about what I don’t know. I have experiences and impressions about things, and maybe some informed opinions, but I truly, simply, do not know.

So for me, I write to explore the possibilities, and am perfectly okay with not knowing. But it’s because of this not knowing that I’m free to write about whatever I want. This is what dictates my approach to subject, form, obligation, audience—the investigations. I suspect every writer wants the freedom to write about whatever piques their interest.


Filed under: male monday Tagged: Tim Z Hernandez; Latino; poet

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44. Diversity in YA: A round-up of links and some thoughts on the silence surrounding the discussion.

At Book Riot:

It’s hard not to wonder why some of the largest voices in the YA world and kid lit world more broadly aren’t speaking up and out in visible ways. They have far less at stake than any author of color (and most women, white or not) would have doing the same thing, in part because their privileged position affords them them their platform. They do not succeed simply because they work harder; they have more advantages. This isn’t just pointed at authors with power. It’s pointed equally toward librarians, toward booksellers, toward major media outlets, and to anyone with a position to say something.

There’s no expectation for anyone to talk about everything. That would be impossible. But in a week where an announcement of an all-male, all-white panel coincides with a wealth of well-written, thought-provoking, and important conversations about diversity and there’s nothing but silence?

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45. The 2013 Los Angeles Times Book Prize winners...

Boxers and saints...have been announced.

The YA winner is: Boxers & Saints, by Gene Luen Yang.

Click on through for the other winners and finalists.

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46. Breakfast for Bill at ALSC Institute in Oakland, CA in September

One of the most anticipated events at the ALSC Institute in Oakland this September is the Breakfast for Bill, which all attendees are welcomed to as part of their registration (no separate tickets need to be purchased).  The event honors the late Bill Morris, who was head of library marketing at HarperCollins for many years.

WilliamsFederleRyanYangThis year’s Breakfast for Bill will feature a panel of four authors of tween novels: Rita Williams-Garcia, Tim Federle, Pam Munoz Ryan, and Gene Yang.

The emcee for the panel discussion will be Jamie Campbell Naidoo, professor at the School of Library & Information Studies at the University of Alabama, and author of Rainbow Family Collections (Libraries Unlimited, 2012). Naidoo

I will helping to run the event as part of the ALSC Institute planning committee, and had an online conversation with Jamie about our focus on authors of tween literature. Here is some of what we discussed:

What about tween literature appeals to you?

Jamie: While all children are influenced by the literature that they read, tweens are in their formative years at the beginning of adolescence trying to figure out who they are, their place in the world, and how this meshes with larger society, but particularly their family’s views. Literature for tweens can really shape their understanding of the world. Good tween literature can be the impetus for change in their lives and encourage them to be social activists for their peers around the world.

What is your take on the current state of diversity in tween novels?

Like all areas of children’s literature there is not enough diversity in books for tweens. I would even go as far as to say that there is probably less diversity in tween literature than picture books for children and young adult novels. There is a critical need for tweens in their critical stages of development to make connections with characters that are like themselves but to also make larger global connections with peer characters from other cultures.

Is there any trend in tween lit that you are excited about, or any trend that you wish was over?

I am going to go out on a limb here and say that I so wish the crush and gushy tween BFF romance trend was over. I realize tweens are beginning to figure out who they are and who they might like (or not). But, I think they deserve a little more emotional depth and sophistication than these types of books provide.

Is there any voice or group that you don’t see represented in tween lit?

Where do I begin! There are so many voices that I don’t see represented in tween lit. Where are the tweens from low socioeconomic households? Where are the tweens from mixed race or bicultural families? Where are the LGBTQ tweens? Where are the homeless tweens? Where are the tweens that are differently able? Where are the tweens that are ethnically diverse? Sure you can probably find 3 or more tween titles representing these groups but are they really good titles? Are they recent and relevant?

What are you looking forward to hear about from our four featured authors?

I’d like to hear from each of them about the stories they liked to read as tweens and what features of those stories are present in their own works. I’d also like to learn what they think about the current state of diversity in tween literature and how we can fix it. On the fun side, what is their most embarrassing tween moment and has that ever featured in their books? Finally, their top 5 favorite tween books (either currently written or yet to come).

Did you ever get the chance to meet Bill Morris, the late editor with HarperCollins that this event honors?

Unfortunately, I never had the privilege of meeting Bill. I really regret that as I have heard from many that he was such an awesome man!

Penny: I was lucky enough to meet him at an ALA conference and to sit by him at lunch. He was hilarious! He loved to dish the dirt on the who’s who of children’s books, but not in a mean-spirited way. He was a delightful conversationalist, and could have held his own on a talk show!

Anything else about the William Morris Breakfast event that folks should look forward to at the ALSC Institute?

It is a breakfast. I don’t do mornings. There will definitely be some surprises to help me (and all those other night owls) wake up. I just have to think of what we can do to make folks squirt orange juice out their noses. :)

Penny:  I totally agree! I am “nocturnal” myself, but I am looking forward to this wonderful event!  We have lots of surprises planned for the attendees, including some local children’s authors coming to sit with the attendees at breakfast, as well as some fun games and prizes planned!

ALSC Institute

If you have not yet registered for the ALSC Institute, there is still time!

Go to:  www.ala.org/alsc/institute

Special thanks to Jamie Campbell Naidoo for his time – and I hope to see many ALSC members at this wonderful event!  

Penny Peck, author of Readers’ Advisory for Children and Tweens (Libraries Unlimited, 2010).

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47. Reminder: Submit Your Photo in the ALSC Blog Photo Contest by 4/23

ALSC Blog Photo Contest

Photos courtesy of ALSC

Show off your creativity! We’re giving you a reminder about the ALSC Blog Photo Contest. Send us your great photos related to children’s librarianship. We’ll even give you some ideas:

  • Library spaces
  • Programs
  • Displays
  • Crafts
  • Books
  • Children’s technology
  • Reading

May the best photo win!

Participants must be ALSC members to enter. Anyone, members and non-members, can vote in the final round. Be sure to visit the ALSC Blog to vote for your favorite library photo beginning April 25, 2014.

Prizes include tickets to the Newbery-Caldecott Banquet and $50 gift certificates to Barnes & Noble. Entries must be submitted by 8 am Central Time, Wednesday, April 23, 2014. For rules and entry form, see the ALSC Blog Photo Contest site.

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48. #539 – Two Hands to Love You by Diane Adams & Paige Keiser

TWO HANDS TO LOVE YOU.

Two Hands to Love You

by Diane Adams & Paige Keiser, illustrator

Chronicle Books      2014

978-0-8118-7797-8

Age 4 to 8     36 pages

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“With two loving hands, an adoring mother cradles her baby after bath time and a devoted father introduces his toddler to the wonders of he world. Sister, brother, grandma, and grandpa all can’t wait to share what they love best about the world with their newest family member. And when it is time to step ot into the world, this caring family is right there alongside. In simple, heartfelt language, this soothing picture book for the very young will tug at the heartstrings and remind us all of the caring hands that helped us along our way.”

Opening

“When the world is a strange place, unfamiliar and new,

my two hands will hold you, will carry you through.”

The Story

In a nutshell, the story is about a couple who begin a family and the paths they take with their children as they grow and become a family of five—plus two involved grandparents. The first baby is gently cared for, everything new for everyone, not just the baby. As he grows, mom plays outside with her toddler, pulling him in a wagon after an afternoon bath in the sun.

Dad takes over, playing airplane with his son, then cradles the new baby and pledges his love. The first-born cares for the second-born, a girl as curious as her brother. Then the third arrives and the three kids guide and love each other.

Grandparents read to their grandson and blow bubbles for this newest child. The joys of childhood and a mother who races to her crying child. This all is part of this family of five, who love each other.

Review

My loyal readers know what I will write in this space and it will not be that I hated this book. The story is composed of fragments of time, caught like photographs. A mother holds her first-born close, never wanting to let go, but she does. With dad, the toddler continues to grow and this happy family of three thrives. Then enters child number two, a girl. It is daddy’s turn to hold the baby close, his little girl. The images that accompany each frame of time softly plays the scene out for us.

mom

Using watercolors and ink, the artist catches these tender moments, making them precious and tenderer, if that is even possible. Her images could tell this story without the text, which is what a good illustrated picture book should do—words for adults and kids, images for little ones, not yet a reader. I tended to pick up this book and turn its pages carefully, feeling the fragility of family, and the joys of one so close.

Children have real childhoods, playing with each other, guiding each other. Along the way, various hands help the children to grow: mom, dad, grandma and grandpa, and many more not shown.The sweetness is palatable. Two Hands to Love You may well have you thinking about your own little ones, whether they are still little or grown and on their own, maybe starting families. Alternatively, of your own childhood and what that meant to you.

dad

I love the rhyming text. The words fit together perfectly, meaning I did not immediately recognize the rhyme, just the smooth flow of words that belonged together in that precise order. I think this story can help others remember what a family needs to be—a shelter in the storm and a place to learn and grow without ridicule and maybe a little rhyme.

I love the inherent gentleness the illustrations give us. I love the extended family all involved in raising a child. I guess I simply love Two Hands to Love You, which is an ideal baby shower gift. This is also an, “Oh, my, gosh, you’re pregnant” gift. New parents will cherish Two Hands to Love You. It would be the couple’s first, How to Raise Baby book.

For children Two Hands to Love You reinforces that parents will always be there for them, no matter the distance. That home is a shelter from the storm. A place to recharge before heading back into the world. Children want to know their parents will also be there for them. That message rings loudly through the tender pages of Two Hands to Love You.

kids

TWO HANDS TO LOVE YOU. Text copyright © 2014 by Diane Adams. Illustrations copyright © 2014 by Paige Keiser. Reproduce by permission of the publisher, Chronicle Books, San Francisco, CA.

To learn more about Two Hands to Love You, click HERE.

Make Two Hands to Love You yours by going to AmazonB&NChronicle Books—or your local bookstore.

 

Meet the author, Diane Adams at her website:   http://www.dianeadams.net/

Meet the illustrator, Paige Keiser at her website:   http://www.paigekeiser.com/

Find other incredible books at the Chronicle Books website:   http://www.chroniclebooks.com/

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Also by Paige Keiser

The Little Green Pea

The Little Green Pea

One Night In Bethlehem

One Night In Bethlehem

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. I Love My Hat (October 2014)

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NEW from Chronicle Books

I Didn't Do My Homework Because . . .

I Didn’t Do My Homework Because . . .

 Peek-a Zoo

Peek-a Zoo

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2 hands to love you

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Today is National Library Workers Day

Be extras nice to those who staff your library!


Filed under: 5stars, Children's Books, Debut Author, Favorites, Library Donated Books, Picture Book Tagged: children, children's book reviews, Chronicle Books, Diane Adams, family, family relationships, grandparents, growing up, Paige Keiser, parents, raising children

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49. YALSA Staff Appreciation Week

YALSA is a member driven organization and accomplishes amazing things through the dedication and hard work of volunteers. We celebrate this through National Volunteer Week, Volunteer(s) of the Year Awards, a Writing Award, grants, weekly shout-outs, and more.

In the background, staff ensure that all of these things happen and support members in a 1,000 different ways. From securing corporate sponsorships to planning logistics for the YA Literature Symposium, organizing a webinar series to crafting the perfect press release, managing hundreds of member appointments to supporting annual initiatives, the list of the hard (and great) work that they do goes on and on and on. Even if you’ve never met one of these dynamos, there’s no question that each of them has positively impacted your YALSA experience, so let’s celebrate them. The YALSA Board and I have unofficially resolved that this week shall be declared YALSA Staff Appreciation Week! Join us this week to write, tweet, or email your thanks and appreciation for all that they do on behalf of the organization each and every day.  Beth Yoke, Nicole Munguia, Nichole O’Connor, Letitia Smith, Jaclyn Finneke, and Anna Lam, we salute you!

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50. PLEASE LET THIS HAPPEN.

Olivia kidneyFrom Reuters:

Moonbot Studios announced today that it will acquire film rights to the Olivia Kidney trilogy of young adult books by award-winning author Ellen Potter. The series is published by Philomel (a division of Penguin/Putnam). Moonbot plans to develop Olivia’s Alice in Wonderland-like adventures as a live action film with significant animation sequences. The film rights deal was handled by David Lipman and Michael Siegel for Moonbot and for Ellen Potter by Alice Tasman and Jennifer Weltz of Jean V. Naggar Literary Agency.

If the movie happens, hopefully the books will finally get the attention that they deserve. EEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!

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