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All of the books on my Summer 2015 list have five things in common:
- Strong Female Characters!
- Multiple starred reviews!
- They're out now!
And a sixth, I guess: I'm very proud of them! Here are brief descriptions, and a list of some of their other distinct and shared traits.
by Bill Konigsberg
The author of Openly Straight
returns with an epic road trip involving family history, gay history, the girlfriend our hero can't have, the grandfather he never knew, and the veyr prickly Porcupine of Truth.The friends:
Carson Smith, Aisha StinsonShared traits with other books on this list:
Young adult; wildlife (symbolic); road trip; mystery; Internet searches; city setting (Billings, Salt Lake, and San Francisco); familyDistinct traits:
Contemplation of religion and God; improv comedy
by Cherie Priest
Art by Kali Ciesmeier
Best friends, big fans, a mysterious webcomic, and a long-lost girl collide in this riveting mystery, perfect for fans of both Cory Doctorow and Sarah Dessen, and illustrated throughout with comic art.The friends:
May (a writer in glasses), Libby (a glamorous artist, until she drowns ... and then maybe after)
Young adult; mystery; Internet searching; street art; chase scene; fight scene; city setting (Seattle); fairy tale elements; YA debut of an adult author; ghosts; interior art; biracial main characterDistinct traits:
Hackers; printed in purple
by Megan Morrison
You know the hair, the tower, and the witch. But in the land of Tyme, that's just the start of the story . . .The friends:
Rapunzel, of the tower, and Jack, of beanstalk fameShared traits:
wildlife (actual -- a frog); royalty; road trip; a chase scene; a fight scene; fairy tale elements; magic; over-the-transom submission (of sorts); big hairDistinct traits:
Middle grade; debut novel
by Kate Beaton
: See title . . . if they can work it out.
wildlife (actual); fight scene; biracial main character; interior artDistinct traits:
Picture book; castles; sweaters; farting
by Daniel Jose Older
Paint a mural. Start a battle. Change the world.The friends:
Sierra has an awesome group at her back: Bennie, Izzy, Tee, and Big Jerome
Young adult; street art; chase scene; city setting (Brooklyn); mystery; Internet searching; family; fight scenes; magic; YA debut of an adult author; ghosts; over-the-transom submission; big hairDistinct traits:
A completely heretofore-unseen form of magic in fantasy, deeply connected to its heroine's culture and imagination; a sweet and hot romance; tattoos
Thank you for checking these books out!
Roz Chast's Poetry Month poster - request it here!I like to do the occasional link roundup, and since it's National Poetry Month, I thought it would be fun to revisit our past reviews of novels in verse. It's not a genre we tend to focus on--I'll... Read the rest of this post
I published eleven books this year -- my most ever! I did not write about those titles here so much, however, because I was spending much of my time readying my 2015 books. (Such is publishing.) But I'm very proud of them all, and as always it was a pleasure to have such a wide-ranging list . . . to be able to turn from the proofs on Divided We Fall, say -- a YA novel about the start of the second American civil war -- to figuring out what piece of classic artwork would match a particular stage of our heroine's journey in I Know an Old Lady Who Swallowed A Dreidel. (You'd have to see the book to get it.) So yay for my 2014 list!
Divided We Fall
by Trent Reedy
Gold Medal Winter
by Donna Freitas
Amber House: Neverwas
by Kelly Moore, Tucker Reed, and Larkin Reed
The Good-Pie Party
by Liz Garton Scanlon
illustrated by Kady Macdonald Denton
Curses and Smoke: A Novel of Pompeii
by Vicky Alvear Shecter
The Great Greene Heist
by Varian Johnson
by Bethanie Murguia
What's New? The Zoo! A Zippy History of Zoos
by Kathy Krull, illustrated by Marcellus Hall
If You're Reading This
by Trent Reedy
Finding Ruby Starling
by Karen Rivers
I Know an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Dreidel
by Caryn Yacowitz, illustrated by David Slonim
I'm still not quite back on a normal blogging schedule--I don't quite have the brain space for a review today (though the book currently on deck is an exciting one: Mortal Heart by Robin LaFevers!). But I did want to share a few books which arrived... Read the rest of this post
Between the two of us, Tanita and I have done several posts with our notes and impressions from this year's KidLitCon in Sacramento. I suspect for both of us, some of these were necessary in order to come down a bit from that special organizer's... Read the rest of this post
There is all kinds of great and exciting stuff happening with diverse children's literature these days! By the time you're reading this, the #weneeddiversebooks campaign should be live on social media, May 1-3 -- follow it on Twitter and Tumblr and please share your own thoughts there. Kudos to the awesome team who put that together!
Closer to home, The Great Greene Heist
by Varian Johnson
-- a modern, middle-school, multicultural Ocean's 11
; a book I edited and am immensely proud of -- is getting a ton of awesome attention from indie booksellers and Varian's fellow authors, who are asking everyone to take the #greatgreenechallenge and help us get a diverse book on the bestseller lists. Kate Messner threw down the initial challenge
; Shannon Hale raised the bar
; and some guy named John Green sweetened the pot further
for bookstores. You can check out all the action at Varian's blog post here
. The book has received wide praise from many authors and a starred review from Kirkus,
and it was named a Publishers Weekly
Best Summer Book of 2014! If you still need more convincing, you can check out this wonderful little prequel
as a taster, or just join the challenge and preorder it now
. (I advise the latter.) Out officially on May 27, 2014.
Equally exciting: Sarwat Chadda
is going to be in New York for the PEN World Voices panel this coming weekend, and appearing at Books of Wonder
and a conversation on writing superheroes
on May 3, and a great panel on sex and violence in children's literature
on May 4. Good stuff!
Finally, I'm going to post this list here for anyone who might still need diverse book recommendations -- a list of books I've edited featuring diverse protagonists. Diversity has been a priority at Arthur A. Levine Books since the imprint was founded, and it's been a particular passion of mine for years, so I'm very proud of both this list and the many great books on our publishing lists to come.Books I've Edited Featuring Diverse Protagonists
- Millicent Min, Girl Genius and Stanford Wong Flunks Big Time by Lisa Yee (MG; Asian-American)
- Bobby vs. Girls (Accidentally) and Bobby the Brave (Sometimes) by Lisa Yee (chapter book; biracial, Asian-American)
- Eighth-Grade Superzero by Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich (MG: American of Black Jamaican descent)
- If I Ever Get Out of Here by Eric Gansworth (YA; Tuscarora Native American)
- The Path of Names by Ari Goelman (MG fantasy; Jewish)
- Marcelo in the Real World, The Last Summer of the Death Warriors, and Irises by Francisco X. Stork (YA; Latin@)
- The Nazi Hunters: How a Team of Spies and Survivors Captured the World's Most Notorious Nazi by Neal Bascomb (YA nonfiction; Jewish)
- The Fire Horse Girl by Kay Honeyman (YA; Chinese)
- Openly Straight by Bill Konigsberg (YA; Gay)
- Gold Medal Winter by Donna Freitas (MG; Latina)
- The Savage Fortress and The City of Death by Sarwat Chadda (MG fantasy; British of Indian descent, Hindu(ish))
- Words in the Dust by Trent Reedy (MG; Afghan, Muslim)
- The Encyclopedia of Me by Karen Rivers (MG; biracial, of British-Caribbean descent)
- Moribito: Guardian of the Spirit and Moribito II: Guardian of the Darkness by Nahoko Uehashi, translated by Cathy Hirano (YA fantasy; Asian-inspired)
- Above by Leah Bobet (YA fantasy; differently abled cast -- which is putting it mildly -- and biracial protagonist of French and Indian descent)
Yay diverse books!
The online existence of this preview will be old news to many, but good news to more: Behold the lineup of Scholastic's Spring 2013 books! We recorded it a little bit differently this time, so you get a glimpse inside many of editors' offices, including mine*, where I talk about the books:
- The Path of Names by Ari Goelman, at 13:46 in middle grade -- The ONLY Jewish summer-camp fantasy you'll ever read or need: Diana Wynne Jones meets Chaim Potok in the Poconos, with a wholly original magic and some of the smartest, most believably snarky 12-year-olds ever to appear in a novel. Out in May.
- Openly Straight by Bill Konigsberg, at 8:00 in YA -- This has pretty much everything I'm looking for in a novel these days: An original, provocative premise; wonderful characters; a smart, funny, relateable voice; believable consequences to its action; the courage of its convictions in following through on its ideas and story; and pleasure in reading, provoking thought long after. Also: THIS IS NOT JUST A BOOK FOR GAY PEOPLE. STRAIGHT PEOPLE SHOULD READ IT AND WILL LOVE IT TOO. (I feel the need to make that point.) Out in June.
- The Fire Horse Girl by Kay Honeyman, immediately after it -- This book satisfied every single teen-girl reader part of me: the headstrong heroine, who was sometimes lonely because of her iconoclasm; the fascinating historical background of Angel Island and San Francisco in the age of the tongs; terrific adventures; a romance whose tiny gestures I could reread again and again. In stores now!
There will be more to say about all of these books in the course of the year. In the meantime, won't you please check the preview out to see them now?
* Fun fact: The KID LIT Missouri license plate you can see over my shoulder belonged to my grandfather
Two terrific books pubbed officially yesterday: The Savage Fortress, by Sarwat Chadda, and Stealing Air, by Trent Reedy. I wrote about The Savage Fortress for the CBC Diversity blog here, cheerfully (and with Sarwat's full approval) calling it a book of "no socially redeeming value" -- which is one of the many things that actually makes it awesome. But you should also read Sarwat's own wonderful blog post on the reasons why he wanted to write this book, to satisfy his ten-year-old self "who always wanted another hero like him." And when you're done with that, please hop on over to the Scholastic Savage Fortress site and play the "Master the Monsters" game. I am terrible -- TERRIBLE -- at video games, so my high score on this game is 600; my compliments to anyone who can do better than I did (e.g. the average five-year-old). There's good stuff to come on Stealing Air as well.
Speaking of diversity: In this week's Narrative Breakdown, James and I and our return guest Matt Bird discuss creating ensemble casts, including Matt's excellent theory on Heads, Hearts, and Guts, and why there are so few characters of color in ensembles like Girls or Sex and the City. Subscribe on iTunes, and do please comment, review, or tell us what you'd like to see more of!
Speaking of developing your writing muscles: If you'd like to see me give my Plot Master Class in person, registration for the November 17 edition in Salt Lake City is now open! To get a sense of the topics covered, check out the description for the online edition of the class (which is sold out, I'm sorry to say. If I'm able to balance work and my responsibilities in teaching it, we'll run it again sometime next year). I believe there are also still spaces available at both the Master Class and the SCBWI general conference in Hawaii on February 22 & 23, 2013 -- e-mail Lynne Wikoff at lwikoff at lava dot net if you're interested.
Speaking of appearances in connection with educational opportunities, did you know J. K. Rowling is doing a virtual author visit with schools, in support of the new Harry Potter Reading Clubs? You can register a class for the webcast here.
And there the chain comes to an end. Or wait -- a little delight to send you on your way:
This has been a good and busy week, and promises only to get more so. Some quick things, first non-booky (for a change) and then all-booky:
- I finished "Downton Abbey," and oh my goodness: What period, characterful, conspiracyful, Englishy goodness! Someday I aspire to wear dresses like Lady Sybil and bite off words like the Dowager Duchess. (And more immediately to write a blog post comparing the series to "Mad Men" for all the things they have in common: a large ensemble cast; of multiple social classes, with the attendant conflicts and resentments; on the cusp of (or even in the midst of) gigantic, sweeping societal changes they don't quite grasp, even as they inadvertently bring them about; also on the cusp of a war whose seriousness they cannot possibly foresee; with many buried secrets revealed over time, and liaisons right and left; all while wearing teeth-gnashingly envy-inducing* clothes (though really I suppose I should remember: corsets).)
- * This phrase courtesy of Joanna Pearson's The Rites and Wrongs of Janice Wills, out in July. You read/edit a book enough times, its phrases naturally leap into your brain and writing. . . .
- I'll be teaching a Master Class on Plot at the Kansas SCBWI conference the first weekend in May. There are, I think, exactly six spots left as of this writing, so book quickly if you're interested!
- My other upcoming appearances: the Mid-Atlantic SCBWI Novel Revision Retreat in June, and Lit Day at LeakyCon 2011 in July. The Lit Day lineup is insane -- insane! -- and features Arthur's first appearance/speech at a Harry Potter fan convention ever, so it's well worth attending if you can make your way there.
- And I loved, loved, loved the new "Jane Eyre" adaptation, partly for the fabulous period clothes and design, yes, but mostly because Mia Wasikowska and Michael Fassbender bring terrific passion and intelligence to the roles of Jane and Rochester, and make Charlotte Bronte's sometimes unwieldy or ethereal dialogue sound perfectly natural in their mouths, sweeping us viewers up in their passions as well. When I reviewed the Keira Knightley "Pride and Prejudice," I contrasted what I called Romantic and Rationalist romances, and faulted that P&P for shooting a Rationalist romance as if it were a Romantic one. Well, "Jane Eyre" is a Romantic romance par excellence (and the film gives that all the brooding atmosphere it warrants, to delicious effect) -- but I had forgotten, till I saw this adaptation, how much it is a Rationalist romance too, how much its unique intensity derives from Jane's absolute control over herself, and how much hotter the love burns for it. I want to see it again already; get your own taste on the movie page here.
Now the Second Sight
- When I go home to Kansas City for the Kansas SCBWI conference, I'll also have a public book party in Belton, Missouri, on Thursday, May 5th; e-mail me at asterisk.bks at gmail dot com if you're interested in attending.
- Jennifer Bertman interviewed me for the Creative Spaces feature on her website, where I talk about my writing process, my workspace, and the regrettable lack of a magic bullet for making someone a good writer.
- Donna at the First Novels Club and Kate Coombs at Book Aunt each reviewed Second Sight and said some kind things.
- Apparently people have started to receive their books! I hope you enjoy them. If you find typos (sigh), please e-mail me with them at asterisk.bks at g
- Elizabeth Bluemle's The Elephant in the Room post from back in June
- This account of Mitali Perkins's recent chat with the good people of Random House
- Via Mitali's blog, "A Girl Like Me," a 16-year-old filmmaker's reflection on Black female beauty, including a re-conducting of the Kenneth Clark doll test. If you think that white people are being discriminated against, or that children are immune to cultural cues about race, please watch this video -- starting at the 3:20 mark if you can't take the time to watch the whole thing.
- The wonderful Chimimanda Adichie talk, "The Dangers of a Single Story" (also a video)
- I Didn't Dream of Dragons, the reflections of a fantasy writer of Indian descent on racial and cultural power imbalances in her own thinking
- White People, It Is Not All About You, But for This Post It Is -- her followup to that, responding to some critics and other commenters
- Through that, a List of Links for Clueless White People, with lots of good stuff on white privilege, and from that:
- What I Have Learned Through Conversations About Race -- a white woman's manifesto on, essentially, trying not to be an idiot about race
- Finally, on October 8-9, NYU is hosting "A is for Anansi," a conference on literature for children of African descent. I'll be there.
Much fun stuff happening lately! To wit:
If you're going to be at ALA Annual in Washington this weekend, come to my lovely authors' book signings! All take place in the Scholastic booth, #2624 (or, what's easier to find: under the gigantic red Scholastic banner that will be looming over all our heads).
I personally will be flitting about the convention from Friday evening, when I'm attending the awesome Kidlit Drink Night
that Sara and her Mid-Atlantic SCBWI peeps are hosting, through Tuesday afternoon, when Francisco receives the Schneider Family Book Award
. (Yay, Francisco!) If you see me, please say hi!
If you'll be in New York over the weekend instead of Washington, I recommend the "Notes from the Underground" play festival
at the American Theatre of Actors, including a one-act directed by my own dear boyfriend, James Monohan
-- "Bastard," by K. Alexa Mavromatis, which despite its blunt title actually has the feel of a good YA novel. It has two more performances, Friday and Saturday.
Anyone interested in plot structure: This Jennifer Crusie post is a must-read
. Other things I've been reading lately: All five volumes of the Scott Pilgrim
series, which were huge fun and have me eagerly anticipating both the sixth book and the movie (click here to see my avatar
(winter edition) and make your own); A Game of Thrones
by George R. R. Martin, which I found annoyingly interesting and compelling; and Where the Mountain Meets the Moon
by Grace Lin, which was a perfect, calming, pleasingly round read before bedtime.Arthur has started a blog.
Emily and I have decided that we don't get out of the office enough and explore our lunch options in Soho, so we're making it a summer project to go out one day a week. And thus far the experiment has been a roaring success, because I recently had the best sandwich I have ever eaten in my life -- "the Korean," with bulgogi-marinated steak, lettuce, and slaw, on Cuban bread with sesame oil -- at a place called Project Sandwich
. Be still, my carnivorous heart. Any other suggestions for great Soho lunch places or excellent New York sandwiches are hereby welcomed.
AKA, all my 2009 books and a few other favorite things. To wit:
Absolutely Maybe by Lisa Yee. Coedited by Arthur and me. CYBIL nominee.
YA readers; fans of hair dye or tacos; anyone who has ever worked a fast-food job; anyone with a crazy mother or charming best friend; people who like a mix of the funny and the bittersweet (that is, if you like laughing or
crying); residents of Los Angeles, California.Bobby vs. Girls (Accidentally)
by Lisa Yee
, illustrated by Dan Santat
. Coedited by Arthur and me. Starred review in The Horn Book
. New York Public Library 100 Titles for Reading and Sharing.Perfect for:
Boys; girls; particularly the seven- to nine-year-old members of both genders; anyone who has ever felt puzzled by the behavior of a person of the other gender; people who like donuts.The Circle of Gold (The Book of Time III)
, by Guillaume Prevost, translated by William Rodarmor.Perfect for:
Fans of time travel novels, literature in translation, or the first two books in the series.Heartsinger
by Karlijn Stoffels
, translated by
Back-ish, anyway. I spoke at the Western Washington SCBWI retreat last weekend -- a lovely conference -- and two of my three Fall 2010 novels are now in copyediting, with the next to follow within the week (right, Author Who Should Be Revising Rather Than Reading This Blog or Facebook*?), so I am now free, by my own standards, to blog again at will. But it seems to be taking a little time to move my brain from a work place to a blog-writing place, so here are some tidbits to get it going again:
- Kidlit Drinks Night tonight (Thursday the 12th) at the Globe Bar on 23rd! I'll be there at 6; Betsy will join us at 7-ish; all shall be swanky.
- A lovely, lovely book I edited, The Snow Day by Komako Sakai, was named a New York Times Best Illustrated Book! It has also been named a Kirkus Reviews Best Book for Children. I adore this book for how beautifully it evokes a day spent inside, waiting for the snow to stop, but there's a real emotional wallop to it, as you realize how very present the missing character actually is all that day. Writers, if you're going to do a quiet book, this is a good model for its careful precision, pacing, and scope.
- And Marcelo in the Real World by Francisco X. Stork was named both a Publishers Weekly Best Book and an Amazon.com Teens Top Ten.
- And The Snow Day, Bobby vs. Girls (Accidentally) by Lisa Yee, and Wishworks Inc. by Stephanie Tolan were all named to the New York Public Library's One Hundred Titles for Reading and Sharing.
- And in AALB-wide accolades, Tales from Outer Suburbia by Shaun Tan was both a NYT Best Illustrated and a PW Best Book, and Lips Touch by Laini Taylor was also a PW Best Book, and Blue Mountain Trouble by Martin Mordecai was also a Kirkus Best Book!
- My church's annual holiday crafts fair -- a great place to pick up beautiful handmade gifts and participate in a silent auction for services from local businesses -- will be this Saturday from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at Camp Friendship, on 8th St. just below 6th Ave. in Park Slope. I will again be donating an hour of editorial services of some kind (bidder's choice) for the silent auction (opening bid $40, all proceeds to benefit the church); if you're interested in bidding remotely, e-mail me at the address associated with my website.
- And speaking of my website, I finally reestablished links to my complete book list and a bunch of other resources on the Etc. page, like the Annotated Query Letter from Hell.
I think that will do for a blog-brain warm-up. In the words of Jim Anchower, I look forward to rapping at you again soon.**
____________________* Kidding, with great love and understanding, since I am always, always Editor Who Should Be Reading a Manuscript Rather Than Writing This Blog or Facebook.** Or in the words of Smoove B, I have missed you, my one true blog reader, and I will soon break it down with you again. Damn.
A friend on child_lit sent me this list of Five Things You Can Do to Contribute to the Health Care Reform Cause. I've read a fair amount about this in the media, and the more I read, the more complicated it gets; but what doesn't change is the desperate need for SOME reform that will be sympathetic to those who are freelancers (like my boyfriend, and nearly all writers and illustrators), or out
A Thank You Speech: At the ALA convention a couple of weeks ago, Arthur and I accepted the Batchelder Award for translation for my dear Moribito: Guardian of the Spirit. You can read the full speech (scripted by me and revised by both of us) here on Arthur's blog.A Kidlit Drink Night: August 11th, 6 p.m.-ish, at our old favorite Sweet & Vicious in Soho.My Current Favorite Video in Life: I love
Next Kidlit Drink Night! We'll gather at the Blue Owl on Monday, March 30th, about 6 p.m. All the cool kids will be there -- except, of course, in kidlit, the cool kids are all just happy dorks. So you become a cool kid by just loving the subject and showing up to discuss it. Hope to see you there!Francisco Stork, author of Marcelo in the Real World, was featured in a SLJ interview here.Lisa Yee
In other words, everything ever in the history of the world! AND the results of the great Socks vs. Underwear debate.
I had the great pleasure of being a guest on PotterCast this week for a live discussion of The Tales of Beedle the Bard at Books of Wonder. You can listen to the audio here. Thanks as always to the PotterCasters for having me on the show!
During the discussion, I start to
And now I go away AGAIN for a grand Midwestern tour of Minnesota (hi Carleton friends!), Missouri (hi family!), and Chicago (hi Harry Potter fans!). I should be packing, but bah! Packing! Some fun things instead:
A Publishers Weekly article on my beloved Moribito: Guardian of the Spirit, including quotage from me. The anime of this book will be coming to [adult swim] at the end of August, and it
Movie Reviews 1: The Darjeeling Limited and Dan in Real Life. Darjeeling is yet more familial whimsy from Wes Anderson, and after the overindulgence of The Royal Tenenbaums and especially The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, I was prepared not to like it very much. But the director is working against a much wider background than usual -- the stunning beauty of India -- and with a much more
Back from a nice five-day vacation in southern California with James. (More to come when the pictures have been developed.) I am thankful today, as I was on Thursday, as I am year-round, for him, my family, my wonderful friends, my health, my job, my apartment, my church, my books -- indeed, almost all the books in the world -- freedom, music, movies, good design, and Plain Chocolate McVitie's.
A really nice Publishers' Weekly article about the tenth anniversary of Arthur A. Levine BooksAn excellent time-wasting geography game. I can't get past Level 11 -- Geraldton, Australia? Really? But glory, it's fun playing up to it. A lovely, lovely picture book I edited and adore, The Light of the World: The Life of Jesus for Children, by Katherine Paterson and Francois Roca, has TWO starred
The New York Giants! WOO-HOO!
The Light of the World just picked up its third starred review, this one from Publishers Weekly. Also WOO-HOO!And A Curse Dark as Gold got a marvelous review from Bookshelves of Doom recently, following another lovely review from Teensreadtoo. There will be lots more on this book coming in the next month or so.
(And anyone who wants to buy me the "Wimsey & Vane 4eva"
Some days, I think about retitling this blog "The Usual Crazy," as that would more accurately reflect the everyday state of my mind than the calm verdure of a Brooklyn Arden. I aspire to that verdure, though. The trees there would be gorgeous and arching and delicate, like the sycamores over Poets' Walk in Central Park, and everyone would lie on blankets reading books or toss Frisbees to happy
In that order:
I am going to be a keynote speaker at Terminus 2008, a Harry Potter convention in Chicago, Illinois, August 7-11 (Tamora Pierce is the other keynoter). This page has the official description of my speech, but I think in practice I think it will play out as "Ten [or some other number] Things Writers Can Learn from the Harry Potter Series," as that's a talk I've looked forward to
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I am off tomorrow for a week's-plus vacation in California with James, seeing various friends and family members of his and hopefully catching up on sleep and relaxing. On the other hand, I'm also planning to write two speeches, a set of illustration notes, and notes on a manuscript while we travel -- no rest for the wicked or the terminally overcommitted.
(I will leave it to you to judge which