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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: SLJ, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 1 - 25 of 66
1. I am honored to have two of my books mentioned in Bibliotherapy For Teens on SLJ

I am honored to have two of my books–SCARS and STAINED–included under PTSD/Abuse & Assault in “Bibliotherapy for Teens: Helpful Tips and Recommended Fiction” by librarian Erin E Moulton on School Library Journal’s site. Erin wrote a moving and insightful article on the need for fiction to help readers, and she put together a fantastic list of books librarians, teachers, and readers can turn to for various mental health issues, including anxiety, depression, PTSD especially from abuse and assault (and resulting in self-harm), dissociation, eating disorders, bi-polar, and more!

I used books to survive my own abuse and trauma as a child and teen–and I still use books to help me cope with the effects of trauma. So it always feels so good to hear from other readers and from librarians (and teachers) who recommend my books to others, or who read my books themselves and find them helpful. Thank you Erin for helping others find my books!

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2. SLJ's "Diversity" Booklist in May issue includes flawed book about Native people

School Library Journal's much anticipated special issue on Diversity was uploaded today (May 1, 2014) in the midst of the We Need Diverse Books campaign, much of which focuses on promoting books by writers who are not white able-bodied males.

Looking over the list of books they recommend, I am astonished to see Rosanne Parry's deeply flawed Written in Stone on the list. Her outsider perspective is all through that book, and she made up several things (which, she says, is "what fiction writers do"), thereby adding to the already-too-high-pile of misinformation that circulates as information about Native peoples.

Why did SLJ choose here, simultaneously contributing to the invisibility of Native writers? 

Why did they go with Parry over any of the 30+ authors of the books on the Focus On list that I wrote for them in November, several of which were singled out for distinction by the American Indian Library Association? Presumably they invited me to write that column (in 2008 and 2013) because they trust my work.

What gives, SLJ?

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3. SundayMorningReads

School Library Journal recently published “Not a Lack of Latino Lit for Kids, but a Lack of Awareness”.

I do agree that there is a lack of awareness. Every discussion list I belong to routinely has someone asking for books that will be “of interest to Latino teens”. Which of course implies that the only people reading about Latinos are Latinos, and that Latinos will read nothing else. But, these requests are so constant that it makes one wonder why it is so difficult for people to find books with Latinos (or any people of color) and what happened to prompt the particular request.

I predict that if you watch your lists next month next month, you’ll see an abundance of requests for African American literature.

A lack of awareness is a huge issue, not doubt. If people were paying attention, they’d be more aware of the small number of Latino books that are published each year, and the small amount of themes and genre that are included in this number. I have not seen official numbers for 2012, but I found all of 17 MG and YA books published in 2012. I expect this number to be low, assuming I’ve missed several books by some of the smaller publishers. Even if I missed 20 books, that means there were 37 Latino books published in 2012.

Between 2010 and 2011 the Latino population grew 2.5%. I don’t think that 2.5% of all the MG and YA books published last year either written by Latino authors or featured Latino characters.

18% of the US population is Latino and this is the largest ethnic population in the US.

I really think the lack of books, the lack of published Latino authors and the lack of Latino protagonists and books in Spanish is a serious concern.

You know that Argo is based on a true story, right? Well, did you know that the main character of the movie, (of the story!), is Antonio Mendez, a Mexican American and multiethnic CIA agent? While this role could have gone to one of many Latino actors, Ben Affleck chose to play this role himself.

The APALA blog recently posted an interview with library leader Judy Lee who works in Riverside, CA. Lee is interviewed regarding her efforts to save her community’s Chinatown. She states Once the site is protected, I personally would like to see the group continue the cultural education mission for the community. This could include historical research and work to connect to a larger network of educators concerned with Chinese American and Asian American cultural education and preservation.

Amazon is making news with their two new children’s imprints.

It has been announced that Louise Erdrich’s Chikadee won the Scott O’Dell Award for Historical Fiction. This makes Erdrich’s second time winning this prestigious award. Congratulations!!

I know what should really have me exciting this week are the ALA youth media awards (and I will be listening as the winners are announced) but, what really, really has me excited is the release of the Surface Pro on 9 February. I’ve been waiting for this since I first learned about the Surface and the greater functionality of the Pro over the RT and yes, over the iPad.

The Hub will stream the ALA awards live on Monday at 7:45 PST.

Let’s go into this new week with our eyes open, aware of all that makes up our diverse and wonderful world!

Filed under: Sunday Reads Tagged: Amazon, Latino childrens books, PALA, SLJ, yalsa

1 Comments on SundayMorningReads, last added: 1/28/2013
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4. Distinguished Writing: Awarding the Struggle

So I've stayed away from School Library Journal's Heavy Medal blog all of a couple days. Not so hot on discipline, am I?

This quote is from a post there called The Art of Writing. It really struck me in its loveliness.
We have to muddle our way through a lot of really good work, hold each up against the other, try calling it distinguished, disagree, find something better…in order to identify the best out there.  I always hope, in the end, that the medals go to works that truly achieve “liftoff.” Our job (most of us) is one of connecting readers with great books, medal or not. Though the Newbery award is certainly for those readers,  in my mind, it’s more important that it’s for the writers/creators: awarding them for the struggle, so that they’ll continue, and so that others have a standard to shoot for.
Let's celebrate Newbery winners today, those whose struggles have set the bar high and have given us books we love. Who's on your list?

9 Comments on Distinguished Writing: Awarding the Struggle, last added: 12/2/2012
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5. The premise for Scholastic's INFINITY RING

Thanks, Ami, for pointing me to something Elizabeth Bird at SLJ said:

I’m sure you’ve all heard of the upcoming Scholastic series The Infinity Ring.  It looks like it’s getting a big push in the same vein as The 39 Clues and all that.  I hadn’t paid it much mind, until I realized the plot.  So in Book #1 it is imperative to rescue Christopher Columbus so that he can discover America (the reasoning being that if he doesn’t then even worse guys will . . . to which I say, just how much worse?).  That’s Book #1.  Book #2 requires that the bad guys, who want to prevent The French Revolution, be thwarted.  So to recap, the heroes must save Columbus in Book #1 and ensure that Marie Antoinette gets her head separated from her neck in Book #2.  If this is incorrect please tell me now.  Otherwise, I’m utterly baffled.  I demand clarification!!!
I went over to the Scholastic page, where I learned that The Infinity Ring is a series for children ages 8 and up, in which three kids will time travel to save the world. The first book in the series is A Mutiny in Time, by James Dashner. At the Scholastic page, I read:
History is broken, and three kids must travel back in time to set it right!
History, the kids learn, "has gone disastrously off course" because Christopher Columbus was thrown overboard in a mutiny.

Wait, wait, wait... Off course for who?!

I guess, in this story, the entire world is a wreck because Columbus did NOT "discover" America. I wonder what this "undiscovered-by-Columbus" America looks like?! Who is making a wreck of what? Who are the "bad guys" Elizabeth refers to?!


Scholastic sent out some advanced reader copies (arcs) and by reading reviews at Goodreads, I gleaned a bit more info.

Because Columbus didn't "discover America" all sorts of natural disasters are occurring because someone else--"the Amancio brothers"--have done the discovering. I guess they are to blame for the natural disasters. I wonder what the disasters are?

Climate change, anyone? The real one, I mean?

I wonder if the author takes up anything to do with Indigenous peoples?!

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6. Elizabeth Bird at SLJ: 2012 "Top 100" Picture Books & Novels

Betsy's photo at Goodreads
Elizabeth Bird, author of SLJ's A Fuse 8 Production blog has, for the past few weeks, been posting the results of the 2012 survey of the "Top 100" picture books and novels of readers who responded to her survey.

When she first did the Top 100 survey a few years ago, I did some analysis of the titles on the list. I'll do a similar analysis when she's finished sharing the Top 100.

Today (June 12, 2012), Betsy wrote about book #19 in the Top 100 novels: Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little House in the Big Woods. Betsy pointed her readers to my site:
Be sure to check out Debbie Reese’s reaction to this book the last time it appeared on this poll, including a problematic section regarding American Indians in the book.  There is another piece following the book’s inclusion on the Children’s Book-a-Day Almanac.  The book is also mentioned in conjunction with the Common Core Standards for English Language Arts.
This isn't the first time Betsy has pointed her readers to my site. I'm glad each time she does it, because her readers to click on her links and read what I have to say. That, in my view, is a good thing for all of us, Native and not, who value children and the books they read.

1 Comments on Elizabeth Bird at SLJ: 2012 "Top 100" Picture Books & Novels, last added: 6/12/2012
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In case you haven’t heard us talking about this book yet, we’ll say it again here: WE LOVE IVAN.

Ivan is an easy-going gorilla who lives at the Exit 8 Big Top Mall and Video Arcade, and he spends his days drawing, watching his TV, and being stared at by shoppers. When Ruby, a baby elephant, moves in, Ivan summons the protective instincts of his inner mighty silverback and makes a promise that Ruby will have a different kind of life than the one he has known.  

Katherine Applegate tells the story (which, by the way, is based on a true one) in Ivan’s own voice, with narration full of gentle gorilla observations and subtle, sharp insights. His voice and his story are poignant and profound and deeply moving, and we could go on for a very long time about what a fantstic read this is. But we’d rather you find out for yourself!

Others are loving Ivan, too:

“Extraordinary.” ~ Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books (starred review)

“The characters will capture readers’ hearts and never let go. A must-have.” ~ School Library Journal (starred review)

“Compelling. . . . Poignant. . . . Utterly believable.” ~ Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

We are so excited about this book, and we’re thrilled to share Ivan’s story far and wide. You can get a peek at the book by using our Browse Inside feature, and don’t miss the discussion guide for conversation starters and activities for your students.

And here’s some exciting news! We’re giving away three copies of THE ONE AND ONLY IVAN, each of which will be accompanied by an adorable gorilla stuffed animal*.  Post a note to us in the comments telling us your favorite animal character in all of children’s literature, and we’ll enter you to win a copy of the book and a stuffed Ivan.  You have until Wednesday, February 15th at 11:59 p.m. EST to enter, and we’ll announce the winners at the end of next week.  Open to U.S. and Canada only.


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8. Get ready for the 2012 SLJ Battle of the Kids Books!

Who says February is a bummer? Imagine my joy this morning when my sleepy eyes spied the announcement in my Twitter feed that the 2012 BoB contenders had been announced! I adore the Bob's (also known more formally as the School Library Journal Battle of the Kids Books.) I love the guest judges. I love the monkey wrench of the Undead contender. I love the debate and conversation and

2 Comments on Get ready for the 2012 SLJ Battle of the Kids Books!, last added: 2/4/2012
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9. SLJ Battle of the Books

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10. School Library Journal Best Books of 2011

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11. SLJ Round Three, Match One

CharMa! CharMa! CharMa!

Sadly, all Megan Whalen Turner can say to me is LoCo! LoCo! LoCo!

Perhaps it is because Turner loves a book with conspiracy in the title.

Perhaps she and Fuse #8 are in a conspiracy for me to finally read the 576 page book.

Meanwhile, I am giggling madly thru Turner's entire decision. She, of the Thief books, does not like suspense yet delights in writing books that twist and turn! Confession: half or more of the books I read? I read the last chapter first. Second confession: I do not do that with Turner's books, and even if I did, it wouldn't tell me the ending.

And sigh... my favorite paragraph, which shows why I adore this writer: "The point of BoB, is that the judges have axes to grind, and I am happy to identify mine. (Besides the no-dead-dogs one, to which I’ve already confessed.) A writer who asks a lot from the reader is a writer who believes the reader can deliver. That’s a writer with a lot of respect for her audience. It’s a risk for an author to demand so much, and I want Hardinge to be rewarded for it."

OK, already! I am picking up The Lost Conspiracy and reading it as soon as I go offline.

Amazon Affiliate. If you click from here to Amazon and buy something, I receive a percentage of the purchase price.

© Elizabeth Burns of A Chair, A Fireplace & A Tea Cozy

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12. SLJ Round Two, Match Four

Shannon Hale gets to look at a lot of pictures: The Storm in the Barn and Tales From Outer Suburbia.

Despite having quibbles with the cover of Tales from Outer Suburbia, and despite having love for The Storm in the Barn, Hale goes with Tales from Outer Suburbia. Hale says, "They’re both obviously terrific books, but that one just stuck to me longer. I’m sure another judge could easily rule the other way."

If there is one take away we have from this Battle, its that different judges can easily lead to different decisions.

Another is how well a book sticks. Sometimes, bloggers review books immediately after they are read. Sometimes, bloggers wait a bit before writing.

While when I write my reviews is usually based solely on when I have time (and how much time), waiting does allow a book to further prove itself by withstanding the passage of time. Or, sadly, shows that it was not perhaps as strong a read, if when one sits in front of a computer one can remember little about the book other than a certain fondness, like for a place one used to live but does not care to return to.

Amazon Affiliate. If you click from here to Amazon and buy something, I receive a percentage of the purchase price.

© Elizabeth Burns of A Chair, A Fireplace & A Tea Cozy

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13. SLJ Round Two, Match Three

Christopher Paul Curtis's tough decision (and all of these have been tough): Marching For Freedom versus A Season of Gifts.

And this is the point in the Battle of the Kids' Books that I almost go completely off topic. Obesity? Really? And chubby? (Erase rant about health versus obesity and celebrity culture saying constant dieting, purging and excessive exercise is the desired norm, plus lets stop confusing obesity (with its implications of laziness and lack of self control along with the use of that term for anyone overweight) with health issues (about food and additives)).


Curtis praises both books, to the point where until I read "and the winner is..." I wasn't sure who he would pick. But Marching for Freedom continues to March on. Will its luck change once a decision is posted in April? Or will the appeal of Marching for Freedom combined with its educational value mean that it will April on?

Since Gifts has fallen by the wayside, I can now confess: I haven't read it. And I don't get the Grandma Dowdel worship. I do love that books for kids have a main character that is a senior citizen!

Amazon Affiliate. If you click from here to Amazon and buy something, I receive a percentage of the purchase price.

© Elizabeth Burns of A Chair, A Fireplace & A Tea Cozy

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14. SLJ: Teh Winner

For the final round of School Library Journal's Battle of the Kids' Books, Katharine Paterson had to decide between three books:

The Lost Conspiracy

The Frog Scientist

Marching For Freedom: Walk Together Children and Don't You Grow Weary

In my earlier post, I categorized the choice between The Lost Conspiracy and Marching for Freedom as fun versus education. With The Frog Scientist later thrown into the mix, that seemed to remain the case.

Look at Paterson describing the books: she "truly enjoyed" The Lost Conspiracy. The Frog Scientist? Inspires commentary about how "It is also a dramatic reason why wonderful informational books are vital to our children’s education."

So what did Paterson pick? Marching for Freedom! And why? "It stirred my soul in a way few books have."

And this is why you have to love Paterson. In selecting the winner, she steps beyond the entertainment/education model of what a book "should" be for younger readers and goes for the book that stirs her soul. And that has nothing to do with fiction versus nonfiction.

Amazon Affiliate. If you click from here to Amazon and buy something, I receive a percentage of the purchase price.

© Elizabeth Burns of A Chair, A Fireplace & A Tea Cozy

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15. Portrayals of American Indians in SLJ's 2010 "Top 100 Children's Novels" - compiled by Elizabeth Bird - PART ONE

In his July/August 2009 editorial in Horn Book Magazine, Roger Sutton poses a question about eligibility for the Coretta Scott King Award. I was looking at Horn Book's articles online, trying to find Neil Gaiman's speech (the one he gave when he won the 2009 Newbery). I was doing that because I'd just read an interview with Gaiman, in which he said something that surprised me, and I wondered if he repeated it in his Newbery speech. He did not.  Here's what he said in the interview:

"The great thing about having an English cemetery is I could go back a very, very, very long way. And in America, you go back 250 years (in a cemetery), and then suddenly you’ve got a few dead Indians, and then you don’t have anybody at all, unless you decide to set it up in Maine or somewhere and sneak in some Vikings.”

I blogged that remark and provided some context for how I interpret it, too. I'm reading his words after having spent the better part of the previous 24 hours studying (again) the ways that American Indians appear in Elizabeth Bird's Top 100 Children's Novels. I conclude that the ignorance on display in the Top 100 novels is alive and well---frighteningly so---in Mr. Gaiman. While he exhibits ignorance about American Indians in that remark, his book (at #80 on the list)  does not actually have anything to do with American Indians. Neither does L. Frank Baum's The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, published in 1900. It is #40 on the list. Baum, however, was outright racist in the editorials he wrote for the Aberdeen Saturday Pioneer. Here's an excerpt from the editorial dated December 20, 1890:
"The Whites, by law of conquest, by justice of civilization, are masters of the American continent, and the best safety of the frontier settlements will be secured by the total annihilation of the few remaining Indians. Why not annihilation? Their glory has fled, their spirit broken, their manhood effaced; better that they die than live the miserable wretches that they are. History would forget these latter despicable beings, and speak, in later ages of the gory of these Grand Kings of forest and plain that Cooper loved to heroism."
Turning, now, from ignorance and racism of authors, to portrayals of American Indians in Elizabeth Bird's Top 100 Children's Novels. Here's my list (see notes at bottom):

#99 - The Indian in the Cupboard, by Lynne Reid Banks, published in 1980
#94 - Swallows and Amazons, by Arthur Ransome, published in 1930
#90 - Sarah, Plain and Tall, by Patricia MacLachlan, published in 1985
#87 - The View from Saturday, by E. L. Konigsburg, published in 1996
#85 - On the Banks of Plum Creek, by Laura Ingalls Wilder, published in 1937
#78 - Johnny Tremain, by Esther Forbes, published in 1943
#68 - Walk Two Moons, by Sharon Creech, published in 1994
#63 - Gone Away Lake, by Elizabeth Enrich, published in 1957
#61 - Stargirl, by Jerry Spinelli, published in 2000
#59 - Inkheart, by Cornelia Funke, published in 2003
#50 - Island of the Blue Dolphins, by Scott O'Dell, published in 1960
#46 - Where the Red Fern Grows, by Wilson Rawls, published in 1961
#42 - Little House on the Prairie, by Laura Ingalls Wilder, published in 1935
#41 - The Witch of Blackbird Pond, by Elizabeth George Speare, published in 1958
#34 - The Watsons Go to Birmingham, by Christopher Paul Curtis, published in 1995
#31 - Half Magic, by Edward Eager, published in 1954
#25 - Little Women, by Louisa May Alcott, published in 1868/1869
#24 - Harry Potter and t

19 Comments on Portrayals of American Indians in SLJ's 2010 "Top 100 Children's Novels" - compiled by Elizabeth Bird - PART ONE, last added: 4/22/2010
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16. I'm smokin'!

I loved Fuse's wording: slow burn.

(Scroll down to The Fantastic Secret of Owen Jester. Or, well, okay, I guess you could read about the other books before you get to mine..)

1 Comments on I'm smokin'!, last added: 6/9/2010
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17. Ypulse Essentials: Mobile Learning Evolves, Millennial Rebellion, What Gen Y Drives

Teen social commerce site Lockerz (has quietly ramped up its user base and funding, most recently landing $18 million in backing from newly launched sFund) (TechCrunch) - Mobile learning (is evolving with the growth of mobile media and new usage... Read the rest of this post

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18. Feel free to weep tears of joy--the SLJ Battle of the Kids' Books is back!

At the risk of effusing, it is with great delight that I announce the return of the School Library Journal Battle of the Kids' Books. Not that I have anything to actually do with it, per se, except act as cheerleader and generally gush about it to my readers (who are hopefully following it themselves.) This is the tournament's third year, and it is still early days over at the Command Center. But

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19. Buzz Alert: PERFECT SQUARE by Michael Hall

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)

Here are some more wonderful links for you:

PERFECT SQUARE (ISBN 9780061915130) is available now.

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20. SLJ Trailee Awards!

It’s time for School Library Journal‘s annual TRAILEE AWARDS!

Between now and August 31st, 2011, you can nominate book trailers (posted between July 1, 2010 and June 30, 2011) in the following categories:

  • Publisher/Author for elementary readers (PreK-6)
  • Publisher/Author for secondary readers (7-12 grade)
  • Student created for elementary readers (PreK-6 grade)
  • Student created for secondary readers (7-12 grade)
  • Adult (anyone over 18) created for PreK-12 grade
  • Educator/Librarian created for PreK-12 grade

Check out the website for a list of criteria, instructions on how to nominate videos, and a list of the selection committee members.

Naturally, we have many book trailers that we particularly love.  Here are some of them:

PERFECT SQUARE by Michael Hall

by Gretchen McNeil (on-sale 8.23.11)

THIS PLUS THAT by Amy Krouse Rosenthal, illustrated by Jen Corace

Which book trailers have you created or seen that you’ll nominate for the awards?

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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:

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22. Blank-Meets-Blank

Our popular feature is back!  Blank-Meets-Blank was actually started first by Betsy Bird at Fuse #8 – she ranks the best “Blank-Meets-Blank” when she attends publishers’ librarian previews.  This is an awesome way to booktalk to kids and teens in your library or classroom!

Today, we’re sharing the best Blank-Meets-Blanks for our upcoming Fall 2011 titles:

“Richard Scarry meets Where’s Waldo?”

On-sale 9.13.11

“Kate DiCamillo meets Neil Gaiman”

LIESL & PO by Lauren Oliver
On-sale 10.4.11

“Ramona meets The Penderwicks”

MO WREN, LOST AND FOUND by Tricia Springstubb
On-sale 8.23.11

“Lord of the Flies meets Michael Grant’s GONE”

VARIANT by Robison Wells
On-sale 10.4.11

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23. The Writing Process: Walter Dean Myers and Ross Workman

We hope you have all had a chance to read KICK, the outstanding YA novel co-written by debut teen author Ross Workman and New York Times bestselling author Walter Dean Myers.

When Ross Workman, then 13, emailed his favorite author, he hardly knew that he would have the opportunity to write a story collaboratively with him, in alternating chapters.  What’s so wonderful about the story of these two authors is that it has broadened the conversation about the writing process, not to mention that it’s inspiring for teens considering writing to their favorite author.

Below, Ross Workman poses 5 questions about their writing process to Walter Dean Myers:

1. We did a lot of thinking about the story before we even started writing. You had all these techniques you’d developed to help you figure out your characters and plot—using photographs of the characters to help you think of them as real people and keep them consistent, doing character timelines, and creating a detailed outline. How did you come up with these? Did you ever try to write without them? How did that turn out?

Ross, I started writing without the outlines and without time-lines, etc.   My understanding of literature was that the writers were all geniuses and the words just flowed from their pens or typewriters.   I kept getting stuck in the middle of a manuscript. Developing the prewriting techniques help me to understand if I really have a book in mind or just the germ of an idea.  Now, having said that, I still occasionally jump into a book too quickly.   When I do, there’s usually a price to pay in starting over or replotting.

2. At times, I got discouraged, especially when I was worried that my writing wouldn’t be good enough.  Did you ever get discouraged when you were writing or revising KICK? Did you ever get discouraged while working on another project?  What do you do when you get stuck?

I enjoyed working on the book so much that I didn’t get discouraged.   In fact, I’m rarely discouraged.   If I do get stuck, I simply revisit my outline to see what I’ve overlooked.

3. Was it easier to edit my chapters or your chapters?

It was easier to edit your chapters because I can’t always see what mine are missing.   My wife reads my chapters and reminded me to put in descriptions.   Then you would point out my inconsistencies and, finally, our editor Phoebe made suggestions.   I get the core feelings right most of the time but I often fall down when it comes to details.

4. You introduced me to the poem “The Second Coming” by W.B. Yeats. What made you think of that poem and its relevance to KICK?

As I understood the character you created, he seemed always eager to do the right thing.  He wanted to help his friend, Christy, when she was troubled.   He was very sympathetic and concerned with Dolores, who worked for McNamara.  He was even hoping that Mr. McNamara wouldn’t get into too much trouble.   I liked Kevin’s character and his willingness to get involved.  In “The Second Coming” Yeats describes the end of the world, made easy by the lack of conviction of good people:

The best lack all conviction, while the worst

Are full of passionate intensity

I believe that the end of the world as we know it ca

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It’s been an eventful couple of days: earthquakes! hurricanes!  But even Mother Nature can’t put a stop to Book Birthdays!  Today is the birthday for WILDWOOD by Colin Meloy (of Decemberists’ fame) and illustrated by his wife, Carson Ellis.  We’re so thrilled that it’s out there for everyone to read now!

Check out the reviews:

“Meloy has an immediately recognizable verbal style and creates a fully realized fantasy world…. Ellis’s illustrations perfectly capture the original world and contribute to the feel of an instant timeless classic.” ~ School Library Journal (starred review)

“Fantasy lovers of all ages will be enthralled by fast-moving plot lines, evocative descriptions, and smart, snappy dialogue.” ~ VOYA (5P, 5Q)

“A satisfying blend of fantasy, adventure story, eco-fable and political satire with broad appeal; especially recommended for preteen boys.” ~ Kirkus

Interested in teaching WILDWOOD in your classroom?  The discussion guide is here to help, and you can read the first four chapters here!

Get to know Colin Meloy and Carson Ellis:

And take a look at the book trailer to whet your appetite:

Happy publication day to WILDWOOD!

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25. Holiday Weekend Links

I hope everyone enjoyed the holiday weekend!  It seems that Mother Nature decided this weekend really did herald in the autumn, as it’s drizzly and chilly in NYC today.  It turns out it’s the best weather to hunker down and catch up on blog reading.  Here are some interesting links we’ve been reading lately:

  • The Book Blogger Appreciation Week 2011 shortlist just came out and CONGRATULATIONS to author Veronica Roth (DIVERGENT) for her nomination in the “Published Author Blog” category.  Thanks to Lee Wind at I’m Here, I’m Queer, What the Hell Do I Read? for the link (and congrats to his nomination as well)!
  • There’s still time to have the teens in your library or classroom vote for YALSA’S Teens’ Top 10 – they have until September 16th.
  • Family of robots? Bookshelves of Doom does it again: makes me laugh hysterically first thing in the morning before I’ve even had coffee.
  • The time has come: awards buzz is in full effect.  Heavy Medal has started their coverage of all things Newbery.  There doesn’t appear to be a link yet, but keep an eye out for Horn Book‘s own blog, Calling Caldecott.
  • Liz Burns over at A Chair, A Fireplace, and a Tea Cozy had quite the ordeal, courtesy of Hurricane Irene.  Read her story and check out her links of other bloggers with Irene stories.
  • Snape voted the favorite Harry Potter character?  Really???  It’s a total upset.  Me, I’m a Hermione fan through and through.  And you?
  • Sam over at Parenthetical has a fascinating blog post, “To RSS or not to RSS?”  Really?  Only 6% of North American, Internet-using consumers use an RSS feed once a week or more?  That floors me, as I couldn’t live without Google Reader to help me keep it all organized (and I couldn’t live without my Bloglines before that, nor could Liz).  What do you think?  When everyone and their brother has a blog out there, how do you keep it all organized?
  • Once again, Seattle Public Library closes for a week due to budget cuts.  I think the quote at the end really gets to the crux of the problem: “You kind of take it for granted – and then suddenly you miss it when it’s gone.”
  • Doing last-minute book buying for school?  Here’s a list of some back-to-school titles from the New York Times.

Have a great (short!) week, everyone, and enjoy the cooler weather!

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