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Right before the Thanksgiving holiday, I went to the library to see if I could find some books to read while I was in Athens. It was there that I saw the popular Graceling by Kristin Cashore. Now having the opportunity to read it, I checked it out and I’m so glad that I did.
I loved Katsa and her strong character. I also enjoyed the world-building that author created (I found myself referring the maps at the front of the book several times). Katsa is character who has been given great powers but what I liked about this book is how she learned the true essence of her gift. How she alone could determine how to wield her power instead of others. I also liked the strong character in Po and how despite his own powers, he yielded to let Katsa be her true self. He wasn’t jealous or vindictive. He didn’t want to own her. He wanted to be her partner.
Anytime I read about strong female characters (and they are many that are in this book) it’s always a plus for me.
Kristin also wrote a great NaNoWriMo Pep Talk essay for Week 3. Here’s some excerpts that resonated with me:
“Self-doubt and fear are just part of the process. Those voices are never going to go away. Write anyway. Take a breath; go for a walk; look at the stars; listen to OutKast and shake it like a Polaroid picture; and then, sit down and write anyway.
Breathe. Be kind to yourself. Don’t panic. Take risks. Make messes. Decide every day that in your writing toolbox, next to the fear and self-doubt, you are also going to keep at least one tiny little seed of faith. That’s all you need to keep going—one mustard seed. Keep tight hold on that faith, and keep writing.”
So even if you’re not a hardcore fantasy fan, but you love strong female characters who determine their own destiny, plus a little romance, you should give this book a try.
By: Beth Kephart
Blog: Beth Kephart Books
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, Lyanda Lynn Haupt
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, Lorrie Moore
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It has been walking-and-sitting-outside weather, but I've been inside, piled high with work, feeling sunk beneath innumerable pressures. I'm in the final leg of a major edit of the Centennial novel, finishing up a client project, trying desperately to get the house in order, looking for time to get myself in order, too, before the academic year begins at Penn.
And I am missing books. I am missing easy strolls through bookstore aisles and time spent hovering over recommended reading tables. I am missing time on my deck, a book in my lap.
I am ten pages into Graceling; I'll finish that when some of this work clears. After that, I am headed to the bookstore to find out whether books like A Gate at the Stairs (Lorrie Moore) and Crow Planet (Lyanda Lynn Haupt) and Parallel Play (Tim Page) and Zeitoun (Dave Eggers) and Border Songs (Jim Lynch) and I'm So Happy for You (Lucinda Rosenfeld) are for me. I'll likely come home with some of those; no doubt I'll find and revel in the unexpected, too.
In the meantime, a big hug to Bermudaonion, for her deeply kind review of Undercover today. Bermudaonion has a lot in common, it seems, with my protagonist, Elisa. Which means she has a lot in common with me.
New York will be in a good mood when I arrive this afternoon – an afterglow of congeniality from the Giants’ Super Bowl lightning-bolt win. Of course, there’s always a feeling of camaraderie at the SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) conference. SCBWI is an international professional organization that promotes knowledge among authors, illustrators, publishers, agents, educators, and booksellers who are passionate about children’s books. It’s the ideal networking opportunity for people who are already a part of this industry, as well as those who want to join in. I look forward to their annual winter conference each year; it’s a great place to meet enthusiastic and talented authors and artists. That’s where I met Lisa Trumbauer. Her book A Practical Guide to Dragons had just topped the NY Times bestseller list. She went on to write one of our first sports books for girls, Storm Surfer. And now she’s working with us on another project for Spring ‘09.
Last year’s conference brought together three of the biggest names in children’s literature: Katherine Paterson, Susan Cooper, and Brian Selznick. It was an alignment of the heavenly bodies. This year’s opening address will be given by poet Nikki Grimes. Wow! And Richard Peck, one of my favorite authors, will be there, along with Susan Patron (Newbery Award-winning author of The Higher Power of Lucky) and David Wiesner (Caldecott Medal-winning author/illustrator of Flotsam).
I’m also excited to hear from some equally influential stars on the business side of the industry. David Gale, Vice President/Editorial Director at Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, and Mark McVeigh, the Editorial Director at Aladdin Paperbacks, will be heading up breakout sessions. I’ve signed up for both of them. When I return to the office, I know that my laptop will be reaching its megabyte limit with new names and addresses of potential authors and illustrators for Stone Arch Books, as well as info on the hottest industry trends, the latest technology, the changing profile of young readers, and the delight and challenge that all the participants share in the ageless art of storytelling.
Editorial Director, Stone Arch Books
The New York Fire Department made an unexpected guest appearance last week at the 9th Annual Winter Conference of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI). Their visit was brief, thankfully. Saturday morning, as most of the guests and speakers were in their respective showers, the hotel’s fire alarms went off. A small blaze had started in a laundry chute. The fire was quickly put out; the alarms were switched off. In her opening remarks, Executive Director Lin Oliver explained the situation to the attendees and gleefully enjoyed crying “Fire in the Chute!” She said it had always been part of her “boy fantasy” to say those words.
Too bad there weren’t more words given over to boy fantasies, or mysteries, or adventures. The 1000+ crowd included only 160 men. This may not be an accurate reflection of the overall industry, but it made me think. Last year’s conference was all abuzz with “books for boys.” All the major trade houses had talked up their commitment to bring out more titles and series for the young male reader. But this year, the buzz was gone. The excitement was switched off.
Yes, there are a few more books out there with boy heroes and boy topics, but the big houses are concentrating on girls. Again. I guess they realize that’s where their biggest market is. Why not boys? Why not give every kid an adventure that can be found only on the written page? I want to create books that the reluctant boy reader will grab and devour. I don’t think of this as simply a trend, or something the team at Stone Arch Books will do just this year. It’s a daily preoccupation in our office. Sparking a boy’s imagination, firing up his curiosity, feeding the burning need for adventure and heroics. Fire in the chute!
Editorial Director, Stone Arch Books
This fantasy adventure tale has a heroine, a journey, a good vs. evil battle, and heart throbbing romance. Ultimately, though, it is a story of self-discovery, and dare I say it, identity.
In today's Ypulse Books Alli <a href=http://www.ypulse.com/todays-ypulse-books-reviews-of-graceling-nyt-on-beacon-street-girls-healthy-reading-more/"http://books.ypulse.com/2008/10/15/review_review_graceling_by_kri.php">rounds... Read the rest of this post
Last year at the SCBWI conference in New York, I was in the audience when Brian Selznick presented his amazing The Invention of Hugo Cabret, a Novel in Words and Pictures. He first spoke about how he was inspired by silent films, especially those created by the Lumiere brothers of France. Then he showed a nonstop montage of images from Hugo (lasting at least 20 minutes) accompanied by atmospheric orchestral music and, of course, ending with a famous shot of the David O. Selznick mansion, which featured in the credits of many Hollywood classic films (the director is a cousin of Brian’s grandfather). When the “film” was over, there was a collective gasp, and then a standing ovation.
Graphic novels today seem to take most of their inspiration from current mainstream cinematic effects. Selznick showed his audience that any powerful visual medium can spark and trigger an idea, a plotline, a character, or a scene. That’s one of the reasons I was thrilled to hear that Hugo won the Caldecott: Selznick has redefined the novel that tells its story “in words and pictures.” At Stone Arch Books we have two copies of Selznick’s 20-pound tome on our shelves, one for Design and one for Editorial. Hugo makes us look at all of the art that surrounds us on a daily basis, and re-think how it can help us make our books more exciting and more affecting, and speak to reluctant readers in ways we never thought possible.
Editorial Director, Stone Arch Books