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Yesterday, my nutritionist mentioned that she could not believe we were already in mid November. Time can get away from us can’t it? I like what Zetta Elliott does every December. She creates an annual retrospective pulling information from her blog and FB posts which helps her see all she has accomplished during the previous year. Looking over what we post in blogs or journals, write about in emails or have taken photos of during the year is a much more powerful statement than the book that didn’t get finished (whether we were reading or writing it!), the project that never got started or the trip that got postponed yet again. Let’s look at what was there and see what was accomplished.
I had pretty much the same thoughts earlier this week when I read and commented on a blog post addressed to John Green and the lack of diversity in his books. I wrote a quick impulsive response, thought about it and wrote another one and still don’t think I said it quite right.
I don’t think John Green should have to include characters of color in his writings no more than I think Coe Booth or Malin Alegria should have to include Whites or Asians in theirs. Authors write best when they write what they know. If they know an all white or an all Latino world, then write that. I may wonder how a neighborhood that I know to be rich in diversity can be portrayed as being so very White, but I know people don’t all seek or have the same experience. I know there are Blacks and Latinos who live in monolithic worlds just are there are Whites who do so. The problem I have is that those white readers can easily find books that reflect how they perceive their world while black and Latino readers have a very hard time find books written by those who understand their world and can write about it. While it amazes me that people can continue to live lives that lack diversity with respect to the types of people they interact with, foods they eat or books they read, I have to accept that there are people who question why anyone would want any type of diversity in their lives. Sure, we could argue that books are the perfect arena to introduce people to different thoughts and ideas, there are readers who don’t want that. They read for other reasons than to explore the world around them.
Why do you read?
Publishers Weekly recently released it’s best of 2013. Looking at the list of children’s books, I am wow-ed by the wide variety of literature on the list. The list includes British fiction, GLBT teens, a character with dyslexia, a female action lead character in a graphic novel, 16th century Scandinavia and monsters in Victorian London. Books by or about people of color are the following.
"Sure, it's simple, writing for kids...just as simple as bringing them up." - Ursula K. LeGuin
We recently had a chat with children's book illustrator and instructor Joy Chu about her taste in children's literature and for some advice on entering the field. Joy is teaching our first online children's book illustration course in Winter 2013 (the class opens for enrollment in October)!
* NOTE: The above is from an interview that was featured in UCSD Extension's Blog last fall, just before I began teaching the on-line version of my class, "Illustrating Books for Children"/Winter 2013 Quarter. — JC
Twelve books, twelve years, four genres, and seven publishing houses ago, there was a lovely small New York Times review of a book I'd written called Into the Tangle of Friendship.
Between that day and this one, I have been buoyed by readers and friends, by an agent and editors, by good-hearted bloggers and students, and of course by family in this strange but essential writing dream. I have written odd books (a river speaks in one, corporate America is transformed into a Wonderland in another), "small" books, books that might have been more than they were and books that reached more readers than I thought possible. I have kept writing because I can't help it, because it is, as I have said before, medicinal, because even when I tried to stop, I didn't know how stopping worked. What does a life look like without story making and sentence crafting, without reaching and metaphor? I don't know. I don't want to find out.
Over the past few weeks, extraordinary kindnesses have been shown toward Small Damages, a book that I had worked on for many, many years. Kindness within Philomel, that big-hearted publishing phenom that has gifted me with the talents and deep hearts of my editor Tamra Tuller (do I love her? yes, I do), Michael Green (president and (also) writer of some of the best emails ever), Jessica Shoffel (publicist extraordinary—unbelievably smart and quick and precise and there), Julia Johnson (who told me once that she has a secret third eye), Jill Santopolo (that uber-bright cutie who forged the original link), a fantastically talented design and editorial team, and an amazingly generous sales team. Kindness from interviewers like Abby Plesser and Dennis Abrams. Kindness from magazine editors like Darcy Jacobs of Family Circle and Renee Fountain of Bella and the super nice people of the LA Times. Kindness from friends and from bloggers, each of whom is so dear to me, so valued. (In case you are wondering, the spectacular quilted cover of Small Damages above was created by blogger and friend, Wendy Robards of Caribousmom.)
That should be enough, truly, but a few days ago, something else happened. The phone rang, and it was my agent, Amy Rennert. Fortunately, I was sitting down, for Amy had called to read me Jen Doll's most amazing review of Small Damages—a review that appears in this weekend's New York Times.
We yearn, as writers, to be understood. We yearn to be read with an open heart. We can't even believe our good fortune when this happens to us in the pages of the Times. When we are read and assessed by one as intelligent and thoughtful as Jen Doll.
I have always loved the Times. Today I love Her even more than always and forever.
There are no words.
A final note: I have been typing this blog post with fumbling fingers, and I'm quite sure that I have erred somewhere up there. But my fumbling became a trembling when Jillian Canto
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Last week Andrew Rosenheim's new WWII political thriller FEAR ITSELF received a starred review from Publishers Weekly, who called it a "top-notch historical thriller" and an "intelligent page-turner." This week PW sat down with Rosenheim to talk about the background behind the book and to discuss the real life American history that inspired the story.
America Slept: PW Talks with Andrew
Katrina Kenison's name is, I'm sure, well known to you all. As an editor she brought important books into the world and spent many years binding together each year's most essential works of short fiction in Best American Short Stories. As a writer she has been inspired by her children, her neighbors, her urgent dreams of peaceful, meaningful living to craft books that have found countless readers—immediately upon publication and consistently throughout the years. As a blogger she inspires and makes whole legions of seekers. As a force for good she has been interviewed in theNew York Times or written for the Huffington Post and other major news outlets. As my long-time friend, she has listened, coaxed, assured, read, remembered, and, even while under all manner of personal pressure, written words that help me understand my own books better. She is a letter writer and a prose poemer. A practitioner of yoga and a cook. She has a really adorable dog. And when the world shatters, as the world has lately shattered, Katrina is the companion and friend you turn to for binding wisdom.
While the rest of us wish we knew how to make book trailers that were far bigger and better than book trailers, Katrina has gone ahead and blazed a significantly different kind of path by making videos about books that also stand alone as life lessons. Just look at this trailer for The Gift of an Ordinary Day. More than 1.6 million other people already have.
This morning I am proud and happy to share Katrina's newest work of video art, which, among other things, introduces her new book, due out in January, Magical Journey: An Apprenticeship in Contentment.
"Love," Katrina writes in its pages, "is the answer to your most urgent question: What am I really" here to do?"
"You have work to do," she urges. "Begin it."
Katrina worked hard and for a long time on her new book. She thought a lot about how to tell its story with audio and film. She conceived of and posed for the book's cover. I'm not the only one who believes Magical Journey will soar. Here, for example, is Publishers Weekly:
In this intensely moving tribute to the importance of enjoying every moment of life, Kenison (The Gift of An Ordinary Day), former longtime series editor of The Best American Short Stories, tells a tale inspired by loss and confides what can be gained from it. After a dear friend dies from cancer and her two sons head off to boarding school and college, Kenison is forced to question what remains relevant in her life and how such an introspective examination might portend a change in priorities. Identifying a common and paralyzing fear (“I am so used to doubting my worthiness that the minute I decide to do something, I start convincing myself I’m not up to the job”), she turns to intensive yoga studies, where she learns that “the best antidote to anxiety about the future is to be present in the here and now,” and that finding contentment in what one is rather than what one thinks one should be is critical. Her journey will inspire tears and determination, and remind readers that anything, “done from the heart, changes the world in some small way for the better.” Agent: Steven Lewers. (Jan.)
With all the NewberyandCaldecott talk and predictions out there I thought it would be nice to take a look at not only what may be the next winner, but what has won in the past. If you have a favorite title you are rooting for post it in a comment. I would love to hear about it! Next week I will post my favorite book of the year that I think is Caldecott deserving in every facet of picture book brilliance.
Mark your calendar for theCaldecott Medal 75th Anniversary!
The ALA will announce all the awards at 8 a.m. PT on Jan. 28 from the Washington State Convention Center in Seattle. The awards include the esteemed John Newbery Medal, Randolph Caldecott Medal, Coretta Scott King Book Awards and Michael L. Printz Award.
The Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC) announced that John Rocco will participate in a Caldecott 75th Anniversary Facebook Forum at 1 p.m. Eastern time on Wednesday, March 6, 2013. Rocco won a Caldecott Honor in 2012 for his picture book Blackout.
Want to learn more about the logo 2008 Caldecott Medal winner Brian Selznick created especially for the 75th Anniversary celebration and the characters in it? Just click here.
And for a little more fun, read Brian's acceptance speech forThe Invention of Hugo Cabrethere and watch the illustrated sequence that played on huge video screens during the speech here.
The day has come! Shel Silverstein’s newest poetry collection, EVERY THING ON IT, is on sale today!
You can get a peek at the book by using our Browse Inside feature, and check out the downloadable activities. The New York Times also wrote a lovely piece about Shel Silverstein as an unexpected “authority on education.” And don’t forget to check out Shel’s poems on NPR’s Morning Edition (seriously, you haven’t lived until you hear Shel’s editor Toni Markiet read “Italian Food” out loud!).
The reviews are coming in and they positively glow about EVERY THING ON IT:
“This posthumous collection of Silverstein’s poems and illustrations is not only familiar in design, but chockfull of the whimsical humor, eccentric characters, childhood fantasies, and iconoclastic glee that his many fans adore.” ~ Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“Like the boy holding the delightfully absurd hot dog with everything piled upon it, this collection offers a Silverstein smorgasbord that won’t linger on the library shelves.” ~ School Library Journal (starred review)
“Adults who grew up with Uncle Shelby will find themselves wiping their eyes by the time they get to the end of this collection; children new to the master will find themselves hooked.” ~ Kirkus Reviews
It’s a historic day, and we’re so excited to share it with you, readers. And if you’d like to share memories and/or favorite poems by Shel Silverstein in the comments, please feel free – we’d love to hear it!
Publishers Weekly takes a look at the young adult market, in an article that begins: The young adult market these days is a bit like a nephew you haven’t seen in years: transformed from a little darling into a hulking almost-grownup who is maybe even a little scary. Teen titles dominate publishers’ fall lists, and those books overwhelmingly feature menacing creatures, forbidden romances, and apocalyptic versions of this and future Earth. “Blood” is a common word in titles, as is “dark,” “death,” “deadly,” and even “darker still.” Read the rest here, including speculation that vampires and fallen angels have finally bit the dust (or have they?) and that the tide of post-apocalyptic books hasn’t crested yet.
Who says traditional publishing is dead? Not one, but two new imprints for middle grade/young adult are launching.
Move Books will launch next fall, and will "focus on middle-grade fiction for boys, and the program may eventually expand to include picture books, chapter books, and nonfiction."
Publishers Weekly says: Since leaving Scholastic, Robinson has launched F1rst Pages, which offers online editorial services to aspiring authors; and has collaborated with editor Harold Underdown to start Kid's Book Revisions, an online service that guides authors through the revision process. And in the past several years, she has been substitute teaching, "to get a feel for the 8-12 age group of readers."
A key inspiration for starting up Move Books, Robinson explains, was her son Michael, now nine. "He struggled as a reader, and it was difficult to find books that would grab his attention, make him laugh, and make him want to read on his own," she notes. "He and his friends seem to be drawn more to nonfiction, and like a lot of boys, they tend to read for information more than for pleasure. I am hoping that the novels Move Books publishes will provide that pleasure, and will encourage boys to pick them up rather than turn to a video game."
People love books. Some people show their love by recommending books to friends and family members, others start websites to share their love of stories to the world. There are also people out there who want to show their love for their favorite books daily, wherever they go, to whomever they meet. Publishers Weekly found the top five books that inspired the most tattoos. This is devotion.
5. Fight Club by Chuck Palaniuk
Fight club resonates with people who are anti-authority and Tyler Durden is their hero. This one tattoo is an iconic image because Tyler was, among other things, a soap maker.
4. The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery
The watercolor images inspire many tattoos but also the appreciation of the world’s beauty and wonder. This tattoo is of the prince himself.
3. Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak
This book reminds us of our childhoods and we grow up so fast, that maybe it’s a symbol of who we were as children: wild, carefree and full of imagination. This is tattoo is of Max in his iconic wolf outfit.
2. Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
There are a lot of tattoos of Alice in Wonderland out there. There are quotes, images and the cast of characters are depicted frequently: Alice, The Mad Hatter and especially the Cheshire Cat. Here is a depiction of the tree, the cheshire cat and a few other characters.
1. Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnetgut
This classic novel of war and time travel resonates with people in the mantra “So It Goes,” which represents the owner’s coping with worry or loss. Here is a tattoo of the mantra on someone’s wrist, which is where people usually get the tattoo, oddly enough.
In the awesome effort to remember and celebrate Diana Wynne Jones, folks are posting favorite lines from her works at #dwj2012. You can use Tumblr to share photos and further remembrances This is all the heartfelt brainstorm of Virginia Duncan and Sharyn November. Rock on, ladies! We heart you as well!
On April 19th, PW had this to say, which included a Rock the Drop recap:
In another instance of fortuitous timing, the Wynne Jones tribute’s April 12 launch coincided with this year’s Support Teen Lit Day, which followers of the Readergirlz blog and others celebrated by taking part in “Rock the Drop,” the guerilla-style book distribution scheme in which YA fans leave copies of favorite books in public spaces for readers to pick up and enjoy.
Diana Wynne Jones books were used in the recent "Rock the Drop" campaign on Support Teen Lit Day.
Judging from the #rockthedrop Twitter postings, quite a few of Wynne Jones’s books found their way into new hands. Greenwillow’s Duncan shared the account of one Rock-the-Dropper: Lois Adams, the copyeditor and proofreader for many of Wynne Jones’s books in the U.S. “I walked up to a public atrium on 56th Street with Enchanted Glass,” Adams said, “and as I walked in I saw an 11-year-old girl with her dad, eating an ice-cream cone. I told her that I was part of a daylong book giveaway project, and that I had to photograph the book first but then she could have it. She watched me taking the pictures, and when I walked away she headed right over to
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We have been eagerly awaiting the arrival of Ann Bauer's upcoming novel THE FOREVER MARRIAGE in our office. The compelling and irreverent story about an unfaithful widow coming to terms with the death of a husband she never really loved sparked stellar early reviews, and has media and bloggers clamoring to get their hands on a copy.
In a starred review, Publishers Weekly has said, "With
The beautiful, wise, wonderful, and ever-dear Tamra Tuller just called with the news. SMALL DAMAGES has received a star from Publishers Weekly.
When you have a house this fantastic behind you, when you have a Tamra Tuller in your corner, you desperately don't want to let anyone down.
I am breathing easier. Thank you, Publishers Weekly.
Beth Kephart. Philomel, $17.99 (304p) ISBN 978-0-399-25748-3
As Kenzie’s senior year of high school begins, her beloved father dies suddenly. Her mother’s coping mechanisms—pack his things, start a business, join Match .com—push Kenzie closer to her friend Kevin, and by spring, she’s pregnant. Kenzie’s mother’s response (which feels more 1896 than 1996, when the story is set) is to arrange for Kenzie to move to a bull farm in southern Spain, where she’ll work until the baby is born and given up for adoption. The wrinkle in this soulless plan is that Kenzie is conflicted; her story is written as a tender, honest letter to her unborn child. Kenzie arrives in Spain sullen and resentful—she’s chopping onions with Estela, the farm’s cook, while her friends are at the Jersey Shore—and the distance brings her predicament into sharp relief. Estela is a better mother than her biological one; Esteban, the teen in charge of horses, a more standup guy than Yale-bound Kevin. This beautifully written “summer of transformation” story will have readers feeling as torn about Kenzie’s choice as she is. Ages 14–up. Agent: Amy Rennert, the Amy Rennert Agency. (July)
... featuring the words of authors I love, the kindness of bloggers, my photographs of southern Spain, and my husband's deliberately rough Spanish guitar, for that is the kind of guitar my gypsy characters play.
It would mean so much to me if you shared this trailer with others.
The parents of Madeleine McCann are writing a book about their daughter’s disappearance and their so-far unsuccessful efforts to trace her.
A deal has been signed with book publishers Transworld which is an imprint of Random House UK. Few details have been revealed but Kate and Gerry McCann are receiving a “substantial” advance and “enhanced royalties” which gives the couple a bigger than normal share of the profits from sales.
“My reason for writing is simple – to give an account of the truth,” she said. “With the depletion of Madeleine’s Fund, it is a decision that has virtually been taken out of our hands.”
Gerry McCann said he was hopeful the publication would help the ongoing efforts to find out what had happened to their daughter, who went missing from their holiday apartment in the Portugese resort of Praia da Luz on 3 May 2007, as her parents dined with friends nearby.
“Our hope is that it may prompt those who have relevant information – knowingly or not – to come forward and share it with our team. Somebody holds that key piece of the jigsaw.”
The book publisher, Bill Scott-Kerr of Transworld, is more than happy with the deal and sees the book – expected to retail at £20 – as a big seller.
“It is an enormous privilege to be publishing this book” he said. “We are so pleased to be joining Kate and Gerry McCann in the Find Madeleine campaign.”
There are also expected to be newspaper serialisations around the publication date, believed to be 28 April 2011 which would coincide with the fourth anniversary of Madeleine’s disappearance.
The official Portuguese inquiry was formally shelved in July 2008, although private detectives employed by the McCanns have continued the search.
The industry bible, Publisher’s Weekly, released their picks of Notables of 2010 in book publishing this week. Among the names were Barnes & Noble’s Len Riggio, veteran literary agent, Andrew Wylie, Google’s Tom Turvey and others.
One quick glance at the list and readers may notice something is missing. Although certainly notable and arguably deserving of accolades, PW’s list this year negates to mention any women in book publishing and virtually no people of color.
If you could nominate anyone as a 2010 Notable Woman or a Notable Person of Color in book publishing, who would you nominate? Would it be Jane Friedman for her e-publishing venture Open Road Media, perhaps Jamie Raab for Hachette’s notable success with Grand Central, perhaps Alex Simmons for his work with Kids Comic Con, Junot Diaz for being chosen as a prestigious member of the Pulitzer Prize Board or someone else?
Comment below and tell us your thoughts.
*Full Disclosure: This GalleyCat blogger is published by Grand Central.
What am I reading now? Bras & Broomsticks by Sarah Mlynowski
The Artist Who Painted A Blue Horse
Folks, I’ve got some exciting news! Eric Carle, the legendary picture book author, is set to publish his first new picture book in over four years. Mark your calendars because The Artist Who Painted a Blue Horse is scheduled for an October 2011 release.
The Artist Who Painted a Blue Horse is inspired by the expressionist painter Franz Marc and is said to tell of an artist who “paints the world as he sees it.” In a Publishers Weekly article, Carle said, “When I was in high school, in WWII Germany, I was secretly shown works by the banned Expressionist painters by my teacher Herr Krauss. This was an experience that changed my life and had a deep impact on me.”
Carle has written/illustrated more than 70 books that have culminated in over 100 million copies sold worldwide. He is known for such classics as Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?, The Very Hungry Caterpillar and Papa, Please Get the Moon for Me, to name a few.
Borders Group Inc may find that filing for bankruptcy is the next plot turn in its many-chaptered struggle to survive.
Bankruptcy court could push the second-largest bookstore chain, its lenders and book publishers to make sacrifices and give the company a chance to keep going. As it stands now, book publishing sources see little progress in financial talks with lenders, and the company continues to need cash.
Borders President Mike Edwards said on Thursday in a statement announcing a conditional credit agreement with GE Capital that while refinancing is preferred, restructuring in court — referring to a bankruptcy filing — is a possibility it is considering.
Borders spokeswoman Mary Davis declined to comment beyond that statement.
The standoff comes after a year in which Borders has cut costs, refinanced and brought in new investors to cope with shriveling sales and market share.
Now the company has stopped payment to some vendors and even asked its most important suppliers — the book publishers — essentially to loan it the money due for books shipped months ago.
Only with those concessions by book publishers as well as other new landlord and vendor financing agreements will the company’s bank replace a maturing credit line.
“Bankruptcy is a wonderful tool for taking the majority of interests and implementing a plan that may be over the objections of a minority of interests,” said Michael Epstein, a managing partner at chess restructuring advisory firm CRG Partners who is not involved in the situation.
The company would be able to close unprofitable stores more easily and book publishers would begin getting paid again in most cases for any products shipped in bankruptcy, he said.
On the other hand, he cautioned, the company would need to have a plan for the changes it wants to ensure that it closes the right stores before the clock runs out.
Since 2005, bankruptcy law has allowed only about 9 months for retailers to easily close stores — a deadline many industry players say is one of the reasons why Circuit City ended up quickly liquidating its assets in bankruptcy.
In a bankruptcy restructuring, the company will likely not be obligated to pay christian book publishers for the books it shipped before the bankruptcy filing, according to Ken Simon, a managing director at Loughlin Meghji restructuring advisory firm who is not involved in the matter.
If the restructuring stays out of court, the vendors will have to be paid back in full or agree to a cut.
“The lack of liquidity is the reason why companies have to go into bankruptcy,” Simon said.
The school and library world is a-buzzing with accolades for Thanhha Lai’s debut novel INSIDE OUT AND BACK AGAIN! Check out these reviews…and the shiny stars that accompany them:
“In her not-too-be-missed debut, Lai evokes a distinct time and place and presents a complex, realistic heroine whom readers will recognize, even if they haven’t found themselves in a strange new country.” ~ Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“An incisive portrait of human resilience.” ~ Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“Based on Lai’s personal experience, this first novel captures a child-refugee’s struggle with rare honesty.” ~ Booklist (starred review)
“[...] the immediacy of the narrative will appeal to those who do not usually enjoy historical fiction.” ~ School Library Journal (starred review)
“Lai’s spare language captures the sensory disorientation of changing cultures as well as a refugee’s complex emotions and kaleidoscopic loyalties.” ~ The Horn Book
And here is what our teacher and librarian friends are saying:
Who knew that a perfect square could be transformed into so many things? In his stunning follow-up to last year’s MY HEART IS LIKE A ZOO, Michael Hall creates rivers, mountains, and parks out of a single square of paper. The storytime possibilities are limitless: give kids a square of paper and scissors and see what they can create. So often as a librarian, I would create elaborate artwork for the kids to do during storytime but, sometimes, all you need is a single piece of paper.
What’s buzzy about PERFECT SQUARE? It has received FOUR STARRED REVIEWS! Here’s what they’re saying:
“A smart lesson in thinking outside the box (or the square).” ~ Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“Memorable for reading aloud and terrific for inspiring creative play with the simplest materials.” ~ Booklist (starred review)
“As its week progresses, the narrative turn of events in the square’s world encourages page-turning to discover the results. What will the square do next? This is a not-to-be-missed adventure for all young readers.” ~ School Library Journal (starred review)
“Young readers will absorb the visual lessons effortlessly and with delight.” ~ Kirkus (starred review)
In HOW LAMAR’S BAD PRANK WON A BUBBA-SIZED TROPHY, 13-year-old Lamar is the maddest, baddest, most spectacular bowler at Striker’s Bowling Paradise but he seems to keep striking out with the ladies. When an older kid talks Lamar into hustling at the bowling alley, he thinks it just may be his chance to get ahead. Finding himself in trouble, Lamar realizes that sometimes the long way to success is better than the short cut.
In its starred review, Publishers Weekly said that “from the first sentence Lamar will have readers hooked.”
I have to admit that I have blatantly borrowed laugh-out-loud lines from Lamar. My favorite? “If I ever find the drama fairy who sprinkled all this drama dust in my life, I’ll personally pluck her wings.” This debut novel is full of such gems and I dog-eared my galley every place where I snorted with laughter (hint: my copy was pretty heavily marked).
Speaking of gems, debut novelist Crystal Allen is one of them herself. She recently joined us at the Texas Library Association conference, and we all adored her. She is laugh-out-loud funny (much like Lamar) and her enthusiasm is contagious. Want to know more about her? Check out her website where you can get added to her mailing list and read fun trivia about her. You can also friend Crystal on Facebook and read this great interview with Crystal at The Brown Bookshelf.
Let’s welcome Crystal to the school and library community!
Award-winning librarian Nancy Pearl (pictured, via) has joined Publishers Weekly. Pearl’s new library-themed column, “Check It Out,” will feature her responses to questions, comments, and observations from librarians, publishers, readers, and others.
The column will run on a monthly basis in Publishers Weekly‘s print periodicals. It will be introduced in both the May 30th print issue and online.
Pearl had this statement in the release: “[I'm] looking forward to hearing from readers across the street and around the world on book- and library-related topics large and small. In my radio work and public presentations, my favorite part is always taking questions from the audience. With my ‘Check It Out’ column there are two things you can count on: I have lots of opinions, and I will always be honest in my responses.”
THE BERLIN BOXING CLUB, by award-winning author Robert Sharenow (My Mother the Cheerleader), has been given THREE STARRED REVIEWS! Here is what everyone is raving about:
“Sharenow delivers a masterful historical novel that examines racism through the eyes of both children and real historical figures.” ~ Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“A story with well-drawn, complex characters, gripping history, and intense emotion.” ~ School Library Journal (starred review)
“Readers will be drawn by the sports detail and by the close-up narrative of the daily oppression.” ~ Kirkus (starred review)
Robert Sharenow’s editor, the fabulous Kristin Rens, recently shared with us what it is about the story and Robert’s writing that drew her to the story when she first read it:
It’s hard to talk about just one thing that struck me about BERLIN BOXING CLUB, because when I read the first draft I was struck by something new on almost every page: there’s Rob’s writing, which is eloquent and moving; there’s the way he beautifully marries the political and social upheaval happening around Karl with the life-altering events that take place in his own family; and there’s Karl’s quest to find his own unique talents through boxing and art—a quest to which any teen can relate. Most of all, though, I was struck by the fact that Rob was writing about this place and time from a point of view that I hadn’t seen before: that of a teen boy whose heritage is Jewish, but because his parents haven’t raised him in the Jewish faith, he doesn’t consider himself Jewish. In fact, at the beginning of the story he identifies more with boys in the Hitler Youth than he does with his Jewish classmates. And his struggle to understand why he’s being bullied for a faith that he doesn’t really embrace as his own is absolutely heartrending.
Pick up THE BERLIN BOXING CLUB to see what the buzz is all about! And check out the following links for more info:
You’ve been bounced around from foster home to foster home, and it’s becoming clear that no one cares where you end up next. You’ve fallen between the cracks. So imagine your luck when you discover that you’ve been accepted to an exclusive private boarding school where you might have a chance to make something of yourself. Only…once you get to the school, you find out that there’s no leaving it. There are no grown-ups…only classes taught by fellow students who have received the lessons from mysterious adults on the outside. The students have formed their hierarchies so that you’re in or you’re out, and you’re constantly watching your back. Nothing is quite what it seems. What do you do? Fall in line? Try to escape? Only…those who try to escape aren’t heard from again…
And this is the hang-on-to-the-seat-of-your-pants, twist-around-every-corner story that Robison Wells has written with VARIANT. As Heather mentioned in her guest post yesterday, we – publishers, librarians, bloggers – read a lot of books and we’ve become rather jaded. But this one…this one is special. You won’t see these twists coming. In its starred review, Publishers Weekly says that “there are plenty of ’didn’t see that coming’ moments and no shortage of action or violence. With its clever premise, quick pace, and easy-to-champion characters, Well’s story is a fast, gripping read with a cliffhanger that will leave readers wanting more.”
We recently put the get-to-know-him-now-because-he’s-about-to-skyrocket-to-the-stratosphere author of VARIANT, Robison Wells, in the hot seat – well, since it’s summer, we actually put him in a hammock – and begged him to answer The Most Important Questions He’d Ever Answer. Here’s what he had to say:
What time is your alarm clock set for?
I know this sounds terrible, but when I’m writing I wake up at 4:00am. I still have a fulltime job, and I find that I write much better before work than after. It took a while to get used to the early schedule, but now I like it quite a bit. Everything is quiet and calm, and I don’t have a million stressors running through my head. I can really focus.
Favorite book from childhood?
I guess that would depend on the era of childhood we’re talking about, but overall I’d probably say THE PHANTOM TOLLBOOTH. I think I connected a lot with Milo, who was a little cynical and always bored. I was a smart kid and I was in advanced classes in elementary school, but I didn’t really like learning, or even reading. So, when the book starts with the main character saying “I can’t see the point in learning to solve useless problems, or subtracting turnips from turnips, or knowing where Ethiopia is or how to spell February”, I was immediately drawn in. And then the book was filled with clever wordplay that you would only get if you actua
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For better or for worse, as parents, librarians, and teachers, we rely a lot on series to get reluctant readers to keep reading. Heck, even very strong readers love the predictability and familiarity they have with characters and storylines they’ve encountered before. To that end, there are some #2 books coming out in new series this fall and they just might be the perfect recommendation for the kids in your library or classroom (or home):