What is JacketFlap

  • JacketFlap connects you to the work of more than 200,000 authors, illustrators, publishers and other creators of books for Children and Young Adults. The site is updated daily with information about every book, author, illustrator, and publisher in the children's / young adult book industry. Members include published authors and illustrators, librarians, agents, editors, publicists, booksellers, publishers and fans.
    Join now (it's free).

Sort Blog Posts

Sort Posts by:

  • in
    from   

Suggest a Blog

Enter a Blog's Feed URL below and click Submit:

Most Commented Posts

In the past 7 days

Recent Posts

(tagged with 'books')

Recent Comments

JacketFlap Sponsors

Spread the word about books.
Put this Widget on your blog!
  • Powered by JacketFlap.com

Are you a book Publisher?
Learn about Widgets now!

Advertise on JacketFlap

MyJacketFlap Blogs

  • Login or Register for free to create your own customized page of blog posts from your favorite blogs. You can also add blogs by clicking the "Add to MyJacketFlap" links next to the blog name in each post.

Blog Posts by Date

Click days in this calendar to see posts by day or month
new posts in all blogs
Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: books, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 1 - 25 of 14,705
1. Waving the White Flag on Valentine’s Day!

There are some days in an elementary school teacher's life where the white flag must be waved. Halloween. The day before holiday break. Pajama Day. Crazy Hat Day. And, of course, Valentine's Day...

Add a Comment
2. COVER REVEAL!

And here, for the first time, is the cover of my latest children’s humorous fantasy to be released during 2016 by Crimson Cloak Publishing!

 

BCarefulWhatUWish4-FINAL FRONT

Add a Comment
3. Will Genre Wars Ever End?

Even with the success of Harry Potter, Hunger Games, Game of Thrones and so many other genre books over the last years the genre wars are apparently still raging. The latest salvo has come from Kazuo Ishiguro. With the release of his book The Buried Giant (one of my favorite books last year), the criticism the book received for its fantasy elements came up in a recent interview.

Unfortunately, it seems this interview is behind a subscription firewall so I can only go by what the articles, mainly The Independent, report about the interview.

It seems what is getting folks up in arms is Ishiguro’s comments that educational systems have been for a long time focused on conformity and turning people into productive citizens to grow the economy:

Education’s task was to get pupils to abandon the fantasy that comes naturally to children and prepare them for the demands of the workforce.

Ishiguro suggests there is a reason why geeks, who as a group tend to read science fiction and fantasy, are in demand by big companies. The big companies are looking for creative thinkers and the geeks, not beholden to mimesis, are sought after people.

And perhaps that is true but I don’t think it is the whole story. I am inclined to agree with Charlie Ander’s thinking that Ishiguro has oversimplified just a bit because there is also the matter of math and coding skills to consider. I read SFF and have no problem thinking up all sorts of imaginative worlds and creatures, but Google is not going to hire me based on that and my mediocre html skills.

Still, the author of the Independent article gets a bit grouchy by declaring that while fantasy may be good to read, “life is more like bullshitty literary fiction” and he’ll put his trust in people who “think inside the box” to make decisions about how we live our lives.

Sigh.

Ishiguro doesn’t just talk about fantasy but all genre fiction and how it is not taken seriously, how it is just as valid a means of exploring human lives, feelings and relationships as “literary fiction” is. With that I am completely on board. That we even still argue over genre seems ridiculous to me. Good literature is good literature whether it is realist or fantastic, involves a murder mystery or a romance. It is convenient to use genre as a means to discuss books that partake of certain tropes and plot elements, but as a way to categorize readers or assess literary value? We really need to get over it.


Filed under: Books, Mystery/Crime, SciFi/Fantasy Tagged: genre wars, Kazuo Ishiguro

Add a Comment
4. Preordering “Cursed Child,” Already Number One in Charts

Yesterday, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child was made available for preorder shortly after the announcement of its publication. (I preordered a hard copy lat night from Amazon, as soon as they put it out there.) The book, that is not a novel but still a book, of the eighth Harry Potter only took hours to top charts.

Despite being already half-off (available for preorder at only £10.00) on UK book dealer, Waterstones’ website, and the full price of $29.99 for a hard copy on Amazon US, price doesn’t seem to be a factor in it’s success already. Interestingly enough, Barnes and Noble is also making the book available for preorder, already advertising 28% off and offering the book for $21.59.

Both Amazon’s Kindle and Barnes and Noble’s Nook are pricing the electronic book at $14.99. It assumed that Amazon, in the coming weeks (the book has only been available for less than 24 hours) will adjust its pricing to a more competitive number to match the market. (Click on the Amazon and Waterstones links to preorder your copy, and contribute to the chart-topping statistics.)

The book was trending news immediately after its publication announcement, yesterday, as the world exploded with the idea of getting more Potter in print, and the fairness of not having to fly to London to get the rest of the story. Though it never left number one Trending News on Facebook, the byline of the title changed form “Rowling releases 8th Harry Potter book,” to “script of upcoming play reaches No. 1 on book sales charts.” Honestly, who expected any less?

Screen Shot 2016-02-11 at 4.09.52 PM

 

 

 

Screen Shot 2016-02-11 at 4.09.41 PM

 

 

The book, being published by Little, Brown and Scholastic, and authored by all three script writers (J.K. Rowling, Jack Thorne, and John Tiffany), is being released in both paper copy and electronic versions. Both formats seems to be over taking charts everywhere. Waterstones, Barnes and Noble, and Amazon serving as an example:

Screen Shot 2016-02-11 at 4.26.22 PM

 

 

Screen Shot 2016-02-11 at 4.27.41 PM

 

 

The Gulf News reported on this chart-topping phenomenon and ringed Little, Brown for comment and questioning on whether or not such success would warrant a midnight release party for the books–a phenomenon that Harry Potter introduced to the publishing industry. Gulf News reports:

 

Little, Brown, publisher of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, said it was “too early to say” whether there would be midnight openings this time round, but that Rowling herself would not be doing any events.

As the book topped the Waterstones, Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com bestseller lists – where it is already discounted to half price – James Daunt, Waterstones chief executive, said there were “no sweeter three words to the ears of a bookseller than ‘the eighth story’.

“Younger booksellers now face, of course, the dubious prospect of their older colleagues rolling out war stories of Harry Potter launches for the next five months. On 31 July, we will put these into the shade.”

Simon Heafield of Foyles said the bookshop chain was “massively excited at the news and are already putting our heads together on the question of how to mark the occasion in style.”

“It’s great that bookshops will get the chance to benefit from this new chapter of Harry’s story,” he said.

David Shelley, chief executive of Little, Brown, said on Wednesday that Rowling and her team had received many requests from fans who cannot see the play to publish it in book form: “We are absolutely delighted to be able to make it available for them,” he said.

 

The full report may be read here.

 

Add a Comment
5. Books from my Bookshelf - Potter Pinner Meadow by Mollie Kaye

Potter Pinner Meadow is a recent addition to my bookshelf found at the Oxfam Bookshop in Shaftsbury, Dorset. I was lucky enough to buy this and a second book by the same author for just a few pounds. I've uncovered a few hidden gems from this charity shop so if you are ever in the area, it might be worth calling in.



  Gold Hill, Shaftsbury

Dating back to the Saxon era and boasting amazing views of the Blackmore Vale Shaftsbury itself is well worth a visit. Gold Hill is a steep cobbled street in the town famous for its picturesque appearance. You may well recognise it as the setting for a film version of Thomas Hardy’s Far from the Madding Crowd, and advertisements for Morrisons and Hovis bread.

Filmed more than 40 years ago the Hovis advert is now one of the most famous scenes in British TV history.  Image: Mail Online

Anyway, I digress;

Potter Pinner Meadow by Mollie Kaye with decorations by Margaret Tempest Published in 1937 by Collins, London.

Mollie Kaye also known as M. M. Kaye is best known for her immensely popular novel The Far Pavilions. I’ve added some factual information about her and the illustrator Margaret Tempest at the end of this post.



Potter Pinner Meadow was a very select neighbourhood and only the VERY BEST people had their houses there. Aloysius Pricklewig J.P. lived in a roomy hollow under a bank. Mr. Pricklewig was a hedgehog. His bristles were always coming through his coats, so he continually had to darn them or to order new ones.



Mr. Pricklewig was by no means the only inhabitant of that very select neighbourhood.  The Whiskertips, a family of aristocratic field mice owned a smart apartment on the sunny side of the hawthorn hedge.  Mrs. Beatrice Brownwing, the speckled thrush occupied a cosy nest, while Timothy Tidmarsh the Dormouse lived in a small but cosy house among the roots of the big Elm tree. 




The fly in the ointment came in the guise of Farmer Wraggs and his dog Tatters. Farmer Wraggs had a sour face, a mouth that turned down at the corners and a fringe of sandy whiskers. He also had a habit of poking around among the tree roots and slashing at the hedges with his stout hickory stick while Tatters growled and barked.   


Whenever Farmer Wraggs came stumping up the meadow everyone locked their doors and pulled down the blinds. Even Mr. Pricklewig put out a Not - At - Home sign and closed the shutters when farmer Wraggs was about. However, there was one person who didn't mind at all because he was nearly always fast asleep in his bed. 




While Timothy Tidmarsh slept the rest of the inhabitants of Potter Pinner Meadow attended an Indignation Meeting to complain about the state of affairs. Wonderful plans were discussed, and long speeches were made beginning with “Tatters Must Go” but all Timothy ever said was “SSSNOORE”. 



One fine spring evening Timothy woke from his afternoon nap put on his second best coat, and set off to buy his supper. When he arrived at the shop it was full of customers all complaining about Mr. Waggs. Not wishing to get involved Timothy decided to enjoy a little snooze. “That Dormouse has no public spirit said Mrs. Beatrice Brownwing. I was telling him only yesterday how dreadfully I have been disturbed by that farmer person and would you believe it all he said was I don’t see much of him myself!”

When Timothy woke up he was rather bored by all the talk of farmers and dogs, so taking up his basket he started off for home.  He was hardly more than half-way up the meadow when he heard sounds of barking. He stood still and listened.  The barking seemed to come from the direction of the big elm tree. Continuing with caution he was faced with a dreadful scene! For where there had been a cosy home for a dormouse, there was nothing but a broken mess of bits and pieces. Of Timothy's beautiful furniture and his comfortable four-poster bed there was not a trace.  



Timothy put his pocket hankie over his nose and wept most bitterly. The sounds of his woe were so loud that everyone in Potter Pinner Meadow came hurrying to see whatever was wrong. At first, they all said "I told you so" and "serve you right," but afterwards they were sorry.  That night Timothy slept on Mr. Pricklewig's sofa and the next morning all the inhabitants of Potter Pinner Meadow, including Timothy attended another Indignation Meeting.

This time it was decided that Timothy should make his way to Black Bramble Wood and consult Old Madam Mole. It was already afternoon by the time Timothy came in sight of the wood the sky was cloudy and dark, and a cold wind was rustling through the grass. Black Bramble Wood looked damp and dark and dangerous. Timothy shivered in his shoes and wished he was snug in his comfortable bed, but when he remembered he no longer had a comfortable bed it made him so angry he got quite brave.


Old Madam Mole rocked backwards and forwards in her rocking chair and began to think.  “Fetch me the little green bottle from the cupboard” she said.  “The next time you see Farmer Wraggs, empty the contents over him.  Be careful not to miss and remember the effect only lasts for one day.” 

Back at Potter Pinner Meadow, Timothy and his friends were busy building him a new home when a young rabbit came dashing down the meadow crying “He’s coming!” quick as a flash Mrs. Brownwing circled high above Farmer Wraggs and sprinkled the magic potion over him.  At once, he began to shrink and grow smaller and smaller until eventually he turned into a frog!  Tatters began barking at his former master. “Down, Tatters, down!” cried Farmer Wraggs but “croak, croak, croak” meant nothing to Tatters who kept on barking. The poor farmer became so frightened he jumped high into the air and landed in a bed of nettles.




As soon as Tatters went away the animals began to lecture Farmer Wraggs on his disgraceful behaviour. He was made to spend the day mending Timothy Tidmarsh’s broken china. He was also forced to darn Mr. Pricklewig’s coats and iron his waistcoats.  It didn’t take long for Farmer Wraggs to promise to mend his ways, and that was exactly what he did.  


~~~~~~~~~~

M.M. Kaye, (born Aug. 21, 1908, Simla, India—died Jan. 29, 2004, Lavenham, Suffolk, Eng.), British writer and illustrator who captured life in India and Afghanistan during the Raj in her immensely popular novel The Far Pavilions (1978). The daughter of a British civil servant working in India, Kaye spent her early childhood there. She was sent to boarding school in England at age 10. After graduating from art school in England, she found work as an illustrator and soon began to write. She married a British army officer in 1945. Before achieving worldwide success with The Far Pavilions she wrote a number of children’s books (as Mollie Kaye), several detective and historical novels and three volumes of autobiography. [Encyclopaedia Britannica.]

M. M. Kaye dedication from Potter Pinner Meadow.


Margaret Mary Tempest, (May 15, 1892, Ipswich, Suffolk, Eng. – died 1982, Ipswich, Suffolk, Eng.),  British writer and illustrator attended Ipswich Art School and later moved to London to study at the Westminster School of art from which she graduated in the summer of 1914. She went on to the Royal Drawing School but was already planning the formation of a society of women illustrators with twenty other talented girls from the School of Art. Between 1919 and 1939 they put on annual exhibitions and ran a successful business, selling their work and producing commercial material including Christmas cards. She began illustrating Little Grey Rabbit books in 1929 and continued to do so into the 1960s, by which time 34 titles had appeared. [I’ve included images of all the Little Grey Rabbit books in three previous posts – here, here and here] Margaret also wrote and illustrated children's books of her own, with characters called Curley Cobbler and Pinkie Mouse. She illustrated books by M. M. Kaye, Rosalind Vallance, Elizabeth Laird, and many other authors. She also found time to design postcards for the Medici Galleries. Between the wars she lived in London during the week, and apart from her illustration work she taught drawing to the children of most of the aristocratic houses in London. In 1939 Margaret returned to the Ipswich area and  married her cousin, Sir Grimwood Mears, a former Chief of Justice in Allahabad, in 1951. Sir Grimwood died in 1963 at the age of 93. Margaret died in 1982 aged 90 and by then she had become afflicted with Parkinson's Disease and could no longer draw. [The Ipswich Society.]

0 Comments on Books from my Bookshelf - Potter Pinner Meadow by Mollie Kaye as of 2/11/2016 10:04:00 AM
Add a Comment
6. UPDATE: ‘Cursed Child’ Book to be Published in July, and Jim Kay’s Illustrated ‘Chamber of Secrets’ Announced!

Following speculations, Pottermore and Little Brown UK have just announced that the script book for Cursed Child will be released July 31st (Harry Potter / J.K. Rowling’s birthday)!

Screen Shot 2016-02-10 at 14.27.39 Screen Shot 2016-02-10 at 14.27.52 Screen Shot 2016-02-10 at 14.28.00

Pottermore reports:

A host of new print and digital publishing has been announced from J.K. Rowling’s Wizarding World, including a Special Rehearsal Edition of the script book of new stage play Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Parts I & II. 

Print and digital editions will publish simultaneously after the play’s world premiere this summer, and will comprise of the version of the play script at the time of the play’s preview performances. 

Theatre previews allow the creative team the chance to rehearse and explore scenes further before a production’s official opening night. Harry Potter and the Cursed Childopens for previews several weeks before its official first performance on Saturday 30 July and the Special Rehearsal Edition of the script book will later be replaced by a Definitive Collector’s Edition.

The news confirms that fans around the world will be able to join this next venture into the Wizarding World, so don’t fret if you didn’t get tickets to the play!

Pottermore also announced the release of Special Editions, and Jim Kay’s next illustrated edition of Harry Potter and The Chamber of Secrets!:

Next year will see the publication of four special editions of the first book in the UK, one for each of the four Hogwarts houses. There will also be a brand new edition of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them in 2017, with new content by J.K. Rowling, as well as new formats and editions of the Hogwarts Library books – Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Quidditch Through the Ages and The Tales of Beedle the Bard. 

Pottermore doesn’t play favourites, but we’re especially looking forward to nabbing a copy of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets illustrated by Jim Kay. That’s coming a little sooner, in October 2016, and we’ll be prodding Jim for a look at his latest work soon because we’re nosy like that.

2016 is looking like a huge year – Cursed Child, Fantastic Beasts, more Jim Kay illustrations – what more could we want?!

Add a Comment
7. Between language and folklore: “To hang out the broom”

We know even less about the origin of idioms than about the origin of individual words. This is natural: words have tangible components: roots, suffixes, consonants, vowels, and so forth, while idioms spring from customs, rites, and general experience. Yet both are apt to travel from land to land and be borrowed. Who was the first to suggest that beating (or flogging) a willing horse is a silly occupation, and who countered it with the idea that beating a dead horse is equally stupid?

The post Between language and folklore: “To hang out the broom” appeared first on OUPblog.

0 Comments on Between language and folklore: “To hang out the broom” as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
8. “The experience of chocolate craving”- an extract from The Economics of Chocolate

It is indisputable that chocolate consumption gives instant pleasure and comfort, especially during episodes of ‘emotional eating’, which involves searching for food (generally in large amounts) even if not physiologically hungry in order to get relief from a negative mood or bad feelings (e.g. stressful life situations, anxiety, depression). The pleasure experienced in eating chocolate can be, first of all, due to neurophysiological components.

The post “The experience of chocolate craving”- an extract from The Economics of Chocolate appeared first on OUPblog.

0 Comments on “The experience of chocolate craving”- an extract from The Economics of Chocolate as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
9. A Magical Extra Day

It’s February and do you know what that means? An extra day for reading! It’s Leap Year y’all! Twenty-nine days this month instead of twenty-eight. I almost said I wish every year were Leap Year but then it would just come to be a regular year and the joy of an extra day of reading would get washed away. Any plans for cramming in some extra reading? It is unfortunate that the extra day falls on a Monday but we’ll just have to make the best of it.

The piles on my reading table are shrinking and it’s not because I am reading the books on there that I own. Nope, it is shrinking because I am working my way through the library books that got added to the table. It feels good to have my library reading under control. At the moment I have only four books checked out, two of which came today, The Story of My Teeth by Valeria Luiselli and All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Anders. Also out from the library is a book of poetry by Joseph Massey called To Keep Time. It is most excellent. And then there is Sorcerer to the Crown by Zen Cho with which I am just about finished. It too is good.

I have six outstanding hold requests at the library, for two I am up next, for the rest I am in the nebulous who knows when my turn will come, probably all at once realm. Only six outstanding requests is pretty darn good though given my profligate ways of late. I can even see several of the non-library books on my reading table and I am eyeing them and thinking , oh, I forgot you were there! Looking forward to reading you! I am quite proud of myself and if I am not careful I will cause harm to my shoulder and arm from patting myself on the back so much. That or my inflated sense of self-worth will be too large for me to fit through my door.

Other books on the go at the moment include Pilgrim at Tinker Creek by Annie Dillard. This is my slow, meditative read of the moment. Very much enjoying it. Then I am still working my way through The Art of Slow Writing by Louise DeSalvo. She writes in short chapters and it is the perfect book for the spare ten minutes here and there. While it is quite good, I don’t want to try reading it in bigger chunks, it would lose its umph and quickly become boring.

And finally, I just began reading a review copy of a new biography of Charlotte Bronte that will be out in March. Charlotte Bronte: A Fiery Heart by Claire Harman is pretty good. It is advertised as being groundbreaking but since I haven’t read any other Bronte biography I can’t say whether it is or not. At the moment Charlotte is still a young girl and the family has just moved to Haworth. There are a good many more siblings than I knew about which means bad events ahead.

There are a couple other books I am in the midst of that have been moved to the back burner and not worth mentioning at the moment since I haven’t picked them up in a few weeks. I will get back to them, just probably not this month! Or perhaps the extra day will grant me the chance to get them in front of my eyes again. Ha! The odds in Vegas don’t seem to be leaning in my favor. Imagine that!


Filed under: Books, In Progress Tagged: Read the Table

Add a Comment
10. New Map ~ The Turn of the Tide

























It's always fun to get copies of a new book with a map I've worked on inside.
This is from THE TURN OF THE TIDE, by Rosanne Parry (Random House BYR, 2016).

Yay!

0 Comments on New Map ~ The Turn of the Tide as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
11. Mary Church Terrell: a Capitol crusader

When Mary Church Terrell died on 24 July 1954, at the age of 90, her place in civil rights history seemed secure. She had served as the first president of the National Association of Colored Women. She had been a charter member of the NAACP.

The post Mary Church Terrell: a Capitol crusader appeared first on OUPblog.

0 Comments on Mary Church Terrell: a Capitol crusader as of 2/9/2016 10:20:00 AM
Add a Comment
12. Blue planet blues

The Earth we live on was formed from a cloud of dust and ice, heated by a massive ball of compressed hydrogen that was the early Sun. Somewhere along the four billion year journey to where we are today, our planet acquired life, and some of that became us. Our modern brains ask how it all came together and progressed, and what shaped the pathways it followed.

The post Blue planet blues appeared first on OUPblog.

0 Comments on Blue planet blues as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
13. Adolescents and adolescence: the glass really is half-full

Recently I was invited to be the guest clinician for a school district’s new young men’s choral festival. The original composition of the festival changed over the course of planning and, long story short, I ended up with a group of 79 fourth- through ninth-grade male singers.

The post Adolescents and adolescence: the glass really is half-full appeared first on OUPblog.

0 Comments on Adolescents and adolescence: the glass really is half-full as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
14. The CISG: a fair balance of interests around the globe

The CISG may be called a true story of worldwide success which is not only proven by the ever increasing number of member states around the world but also by the fact that during the last 20 years the CISG has served as a decisive blueprint for law-making in the area of contract law on the international as well as on the domestic level.

The post The CISG: a fair balance of interests around the globe appeared first on OUPblog.

0 Comments on The CISG: a fair balance of interests around the globe as of 2/9/2016 5:48:00 AM
Add a Comment
15. Between the World and Me

cover artBetween the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates is a powerful and passionate book. As a white person in America, it was at times difficult for me to read. I found myself whispering I’m sorry I’m sorry I’m sorry over and over. How do we make things different? What can I do? And at other times, reading the words of a black man talking about how white society does whatever it can to control his body and lets him know regularly that his body is not his own, I thought, yes, I understand from my place as a woman in a patriarchal society what it means for the culture and the law to always be trying to control your body. The control comes in different forms, but I too know what it’s like to walk down the street and be afraid. And so Coates’s book had the curious effect of making me feel guilt and sympathy and anger in repeated waves of various intensities.

Between the World and Me is a “letter” Coates wrote to his fifteen-year-old son. It is inspired by James Baldwin’s 1963 book The Fire Next Time, a book about what it means to be black in America. Certainly a great deal has changed since 1963 but so much remains stubbornly the same. I got the impression at times that Coates felt like nothing would ever change, that we will never see an end to racism, while at other times, especially when he was reflecting on his son’s life and experiences and how they have been different from his own, Coates seemed hopeful in a clear-eyed there is still much work and struggling ahead sort of way.

In thinking about the book and how I should read it and understand it, the best approach was to just listen. Don’t try to say, it’s not like that; don’t even think about suggesting things aren’t that bad. Don’t argue and critique or dismiss. Don’t compare my experience of oppression with his in order to determine who is worse off. Don’t go to an insensitive place and think, I have a black friend so I can’t possibly be racist. Don’t get defensive and definitely don’t try and claim I am not part of the system.

It is not always easy to listen, to refrain from Yes, but… I think I managed pretty well. Being open to Coates’s experience was unsettling at times. I caught myself thinking at one point when he was talking about slavery that my ancestors came to America after the Civil War, none of them owned slaves, my family had no part in it and can’t be blamed. But that is beside the point, isn’t it? While my ancestors may have had nothing to do with slavery they certainly reaped the benefits of a country made wealthy by the work of slaves. And they were definitely not immune from participating in casual and thoughtless racism.

It is hard to shut up and listen and not try to exonerate oneself, to think other people are like that but not me. When you grow up and live in a racist society, especially when you grow up and live with the privileges that come from white skin, you are not free from prejudice, I am not free from prejudice. And it hurts, I don’t want to be a “bad” person. And that is good. Because that is the only way we can move as individuals, as a culture, as a country, through prejudice to a society that is as free and equal as it imagines itself to be.


Filed under: Books, Nonfiction, Reviews

Add a Comment
16. Interview: Suzanne Nelson

Please welcome to the blog author Suzanne Nelson, winner of the Sydney Taylor Honor Award in the Teen Readers Category for her novel Serendipity's Footsteps.

What inspired you to write Serendipity's Footsteps? Did you plan from the onset to tie various plotlines together through a pair of shoes, or did the characters' individual stories come to you first?

There were so many inspirations for Serendipity's Footsteps. Versions of Ray and Pinny had been in my mind for over a decade, and I'd even tried once, years ago, writing a vastly different rendition of their story where they were biological sisters. Sixty or so pages into that story, though, I realized it wasn't working and shelved it. Then, a few years ago, I saw a single red slingback sitting atop a boulder in my town. It spurred a conversation with my sister about lost shoes. We tried to unravel the mystery of all the shoes we spotted hanging in trees or laying abandoned on roadsides. What were their stories? Who'd left them behind? It was my sister who asked me to write a novel about lost shoes. She's always loved shoes and told me, "Just write it for me." Because she's my best and most loved and trusted friend, I began writing for her. Then, as I wrote, without me even being fully aware of how pieces were falling into place, Dalya and her story were born. Once Dalya came to me, Ray and Pinny appeared beside her. Maybe they'd been waiting for her the whole time. Needless to say, I knew that these three heroines needed to come together. They each needed families and love, and the story's pale pink shoes became the key to their unbreakable bond. Really, writing the book was as much about serendipity for me as it was for my three heroines. I love Dalya, Ray, and Pinny and consider them kindred sisters and family. They exist for me, real as any other people, and so do the shoes they love.

Dayla, Ray, and Pinny have distinct personalities and voices. Is there a little piece of you in each of them? My Knopf editor and dear friend Michelle Frey tells me that she sees some of me in each of my three heroines, so it's probably true. I can't say with confidence that I could ever possess Dalya's resilience, because I've never experienced anything like her tragedies. Still, I admire her strength of spirit, her loyalty to her faith, culture, and family, and her deep capacity for love. I'd like to believe I carry some of those traits within me, too. I'm as passionate about writing as Ray is about her music. As a teenager, I sometimes wished to escape my life like Ray does. But who doesn't dream of running away at some point or other? The idea of reinventing yourself in a new place and starting fresh without obligations to anyone or anything can be appealing, until you start thinking about how lonely it would be. I have some of Ray's selfishness and outspokenness, too, although maybe I've learned to temper those shortcomings through the years (only my family can tell you how successful I've been in my efforts.). As for Pinny and her quest for the "More of Life," the joy she finds in so much of the world around her--I strive to find "More" joy and love in my life each and every day. I'm not as much of an optimist as she is, but I believe in magical thinking and sucking the marrow out of every moment life has to offer.

Did you model any of the characters after people you know or admire?

None of the characters are based directly on people I know personally. However, the emotions Dalya experiences in the wake of her losses, and the decisions she makes in her personal life to preserve and honor her family and her Jewish heritage and identity, were informed by some close friends who shared their family's Holocaust survival stories with me. I have such great admiration for these friends who continually work to protect their family's histories and faith and I hoped to convey some of this with Dalya's character. Pinny's character and story, as well, were influenced indirectly by an experience I had as a teen. My senior year of high school, I tutored a three-year-old boy who had Down Syndrome. The afternoons I spent with Troy were some of the most memorable and rewarding of my adolescence, and I've stayed in touch with the Drake family through the years. Troy and his parents opened my eyes to the challenges so many people with special needs face in finding meaningful employment and independence. It was so important to him and to his family that he work in a field he truly loved. Troy is in his twenties now and has his own Etsy business, Doodle Duck Design. Talking with the Drakes about their journey to find ways for Troy to live his "More of Life" helped me develop Pinny's story. I hope Pinny's search to find fulfillment in her life and work reflects that.

What are the biggest challenges - and rewards - when writing and researching historical fiction?

Research is one of the most fascinating parts of writing historical fiction. I love it so much that for me, the biggest challenge of researching is knowing when to stop! Then there's the problem of having to choose which pieces of research to include in my story, and trying to glean what facts will hold the most interest for readers. It's a time-consuming process, but one that I truly enjoy.

What resources did you use while writing and revising Serendipity's Footsteps?

With Serendipity's Footsteps, I read letters, diary entries, and first-hand accounts from Jewish children and teen refugees who came to the United States prior to and during World War II. From the mid 1930s to the early 1940s, one thousand Jewish children were brought to our country from Europe as part of an American kindertransport. All of those one thousand children left their parents behind in Europe and many never saw them again. They were placed with foster families around the country. Many of the children didn't know English when they arrived, were placed in school classes with younger students, and struggled with loneliness and coping with the grief of the terrible losses of the families they left behind. Learning about the obstacles they overcame and the strength and courage they had in such tragic circumstances helped me portray the difficulties Dalya faced in her transition to America.

Although my visit to Dachau Concentration Camp took place years ago, that visit has always haunted me. I drew on my memories of it when writing the novel. I also contacted two lovely professors, Dr. Buser and Dr. Ley, in Germany who were experts in the Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp and its history, and they answered my numerous questions about that specific camp. Dr. Joselit, Professor of Judaic Studies and History at George Washington University, also gave me wonderful insight into Jewish life and culture in 1930s and 40s New York City. In the end, I was fortunate to have a number of knowledgeable people, here and overseas, guide my research and am so grateful to all of them for their help.

Your modern day romantic comedies include Cake Pop Crush, Hot Cocoa Hearts, Bacon Me Crazy, and Macarons at Midnight. Did you always plan for these stories to be a connected series?

This series started out as a single book, Cake Pop Crush. My Scholastic editor and I were so thrilled to see how popular that book became, and the other companion books followed as a result. Even though the books all have some fun baking theme, they each have different characters and a distinct plot, so they don't have to be read in any specific order. There will be a fifth foodie romance book coming in 2017, titled Donut Go Breaking My Heart. The style of writing for this series is very different from the style of Serendipity's Footsteps. The baking series is lighter and geared towards a younger, middle grade audience. It's fun writing the baking books because it gives me a break from the more serious topics and themes I'm drawn to in my other novels for older readers.

Do you like baking? If so, what are your specialties?

I am giggling at this question, because the honest truth is that I am not as much of a baker as my Cake Pop series might lead readers to believe. When I was experimenting with cake pop recipes for Cake Pop Crush, I actually set a bowl of candy melts on fire in my microwave. I had to run out onto my back porch with the flaming Tupperware to extinguish it under the pouring rain! My family thought it was hilarious.

Cake pop mishaps aside, I do enjoy baking with my three kids. I have a particular weakness for gooey brownies and white chocolate chip cookies and gobble them warm straight out of the oven. My five-year-old daughter is especially passionate about baking, and her love for it rubs off on me. We made some cupcakes a few weeks ago that had mountains of fluorescent icing so high they could've rivaled Mount Everest.

You have also worked as a book editor. How did your work as an editor inform your writing, and vice versa?

I don't think I ever would have become a published author without having been an editor first. Learning the ins and outs of the publishing process and working with other authors on their manuscripts was the best education I received as a writer. Because I was able to see what needed to be revised or reworked in other people's manuscripts, I learned how to view my own writing with a more critical eye. I also learned that you have to write what you're passionate about but also what fills a need in the current book market. Being a writer as well as an editor also gave me great empathy for other struggling writers, and when I had to reject a submission I tried to do it as nicely and encouragingly as I could.

Describe your current favorite go-to pair of shoes for daily wear.

Right now we're in the depths of winter here in Connecticut, and I have this enormous pair of brown fuzzy boots that I wear to wade through the snow and ice. They're so comfortable and warm. For the most part though, because most days I work from home, I keep my feet toasty in some snug slippers. Boring? Maybe, but absolutely essential for my creativity and productivity!

How about your most fun pair of shoes?

I have a pair of glam handmade shoes that are decorated with peacock feathers and another pair of glossy, cherry red peep-toe heels that make me feel beautiful inside and out every time I slip them on. Walking in them feels akin to teetering on a tightrope, but they're absolutely worth it!

List ten of your favorite books. Any genre, any style.

Disclaimer: This is an eclectic mix of classical, contemporary, adult and children's literature. I could easily add another hundred titles to this list (there are so many incredible books in the world!), but these ten are stories I turn to again and again.

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
Winter's Tale by Mark Helprin
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy series by Douglas Adams
The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak
The Blue Castle by LM Montgomery
The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
Flora and Ulysses by Kate DiCamillo, illustrated by K.G. Campbell (And really anything written by Kate DiCamillo!)
Life of Pi by Yann Martel
Holes by Louis Sachar
Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson


Congratulations to all of the recipients of The Sydney Taylor Book Award! Follow the blog tour featuring the 2016 gold and silver medalists all this week, February 8th-February 12th, hosted at a variety of blogs. Click here for the full blog tour schedule.

Learn more about the Sydney Taylor Honor Award.
Visit the People of the Books Blog.
Visit Suzanne Taylor's website.

Add a Comment
17. Another unpleasant infection: Zika virus

Over two years ago I wrote that “new viruses are constantly being discovered... Then something comes out of the woodwork like SARS which causes widespread panic”. Zika virus infection bids fair to repeat the torment. On 28 January 2016 the BBC reported that the World Health Organization had set up a Zika “emergency team” as a result of the current explosive pandemic.

The post Another unpleasant infection: Zika virus appeared first on OUPblog.

0 Comments on Another unpleasant infection: Zika virus as of 2/8/2016 5:02:00 AM
Add a Comment
18. The Lie Tree by Frances Hardinge

The Lie Tree begins with a gloomy, wet boat journey to a gloomy, wet island in the English Channel.  Fourteen-year-old Faith Sunderly, our protagonist, is moving with her family to the Isle of Vane, so that her father, the Reverend Erasmus Sunderly, can consult on an archaeological dig.  It's the 1860s, and amateur natural scientists like Erasmus are grappling with the new, controversial theory

Add a Comment
19. Nils Alwall: The quiet, unassuming Swede

During the night, between 3rd and 4th September 1946, things were stirring in the basement of the internal medicine department, at the university hospital of Lund, Southern Sweden. A 47-year-old man had been admitted for treatment. His main problem was uraemia (urea in the blood), but he was also suffering from silicosis (a lung disorder), complicated by pneumonia.

The post Nils Alwall: The quiet, unassuming Swede appeared first on OUPblog.

0 Comments on Nils Alwall: The quiet, unassuming Swede as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
20. Review: Through My Window by Tony Bradman and Eileen Browne – 30th Anniversary Edition

Through My Window - 30th Anniversary edition, written by Tony Bradman, illustrated by Eileen Browne (Frances Lincoln, 2016)

Through My Window – 30th Anniversary edition
written by Tony Bradman, illustrated by Eileen Browne
(Frances Lincoln, 2016)

Little girl Jo has to stay … Continue reading ...

Add a Comment
21. Are you really free? Yes: a new argument for freedom

How is human freedom really possible in the natural world as correctly described by modern physics, chemistry, biology, and cognitive neuroscience? Or, given the truth of modern science, are you really free? By 'real freedom,' I mean 'real free will and real rational agency'.

The post Are you really free? Yes: a new argument for freedom appeared first on OUPblog.

0 Comments on Are you really free? Yes: a new argument for freedom as of 2/6/2016 5:28:00 AM
Add a Comment
22. Seven reasons why your medications are not working properly

What happens when medication doesn’t bring your condition under control? Usually, it’s not just one single issue but various factors that contribute to the problem. Your doctor will work to figure out why–and from there, create a new plan of attack. Finding the right combination of medications may require some trial and error.

The post Seven reasons why your medications are not working properly appeared first on OUPblog.

0 Comments on Seven reasons why your medications are not working properly as of 2/6/2016 7:39:00 AM
Add a Comment
23. Writing Books

With so many craft books from which to choose, how do you decide?

http://writershelpingwriters.net/recommended-writing-books/

0 Comments on Writing Books as of 2/6/2016 7:36:00 PM
Add a Comment
24. Bang, bang — democracy’s dead: Obama and the politics of gun control

It would seem that President Obama has a new prey in his sites. It is, however, a target that he has hunted for some time but never really managed to wound, let alone kill. The focus of Obama’s attention is gun violence and the aim is really to make American communities safer places to live.

The post Bang, bang — democracy’s dead: Obama and the politics of gun control appeared first on OUPblog.

0 Comments on Bang, bang — democracy’s dead: Obama and the politics of gun control as of 2/7/2016 8:44:00 AM
Add a Comment
25. How can we hold the UN accountable for sexual violence?

Cometh the new year, cometh the fresh round of allegations that United Nations peacekeepers raped or abused some of the most vulnerable people in the world. 2016 has just begun and already reports are surfacing of UN peacekeepers paying to have sex with girls as young as 13 at a displaced persons camp in the Central African Republic.

The post How can we hold the UN accountable for sexual violence? appeared first on OUPblog.

0 Comments on How can we hold the UN accountable for sexual violence? as of 2/7/2016 8:44:00 AM
Add a Comment

View Next 25 Posts