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 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: Lewis Buzbee, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 1 - 8 of 8
1. Blackboard: A Personal History of the Classroom

I am proud of my friend, Lewis Buzbee, who has written this much-acclaimed book — and it just came out this week. He is a great writer and friend and I can’t wait to read this new one. A book for anyone who has gone to school, or cares about education.

A classic back-to-school book.

 

10524370_10204440422270168_5446714264040880078_n

“Buzbee’s affectionate account [is] a subtle, sharply etched critique of contemporary public education. . . . Deeply affectionate toward teachers, harshly critical of budget cuts, the book offers an eloquent, important reminder (which in a perfect world would inform policy) about the nature of school.”—Publishers Weekly, starred review

“A bracing rejoinder to the didactic, data-driven books from policy gurus and social scientists. . . . From the layout of schools to the distinction between ‘middle school’ and ‘junior high school,’ Buzbee spreads engaging prose across the pages, providing both a reminiscence of better days and a considered examination of the assumptions we all make about what does—and does not—constitute a quality education. . . . A welcome book on the importance of education for all.”—Kirkus Book Vault Reviews

Add a Comment
2. “A minnow! A minnow! I’ve got him by the nose!”

mr-jeremy-fisher

Our favorite line from The Tale of Mr. Jeremy Fisher. And Sir Isaac Newton (the newt) cracks Rilla up every time.

And in the you-had-me-at-hello department, how’s this for an opening?

When I walk into a bookstore, any bookstore, first thing in the morning, I’m flooded with a sense of hushed excitement. I shouldn’t feel this way. I’ve spent most of my adult life working in bookstores, either as a bookseller or a publisher’s sales rep, and even though I no longer work in the business, as an incurable reader I find myself in a bookstore at least five times a week. Shouldn’t I be blasé about it all by now? In the quiet of such a morning, however, the store’s displays stacked squarely and its shelves tidy and promising, I know that this is no mere shop. When a bookstore opens its doors, the rest of the world enters, too, the day’s weather and the day’s news, the streams of customers, and of course the boxes of books and the many other worlds they contain—books of facts and truths, books newly written and those first read centuries before, books of great relevance and of absolute banality. Standing in the middle of this confluence, I can’t help but feel the possibility of the universe unfolding a little, once upon a time.

—from The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop by Lewis Buzbee, one of your memoir suggestions from the other week, and also mentioned by jep in the comments here.

And a bit of Howards End this morning. I didn’t read much this weekend. How about you?

Add a Comment
3. My Interview at “Author Turf”

I was recently invited for an interview by Brittney Breakey over at AUTHOR TURF. Brittney has really accomplished a lot with her site. It’s worth checking out. She’s recently interviewed Holly Goldberg Sloan, Sally Nicholls, Gennifer Choldenko, Jo Knowles, Kathryn Erskine . . . and my great pal, Lewis Buzbee.

For me, that’s a double-edged sword. I’ll be honest, I’ve always hoped to be the kind of person who somebody wanted to interview. It’s an incredible compliment. And a true honor.

In my career, some of the first work I ever did was interviews of authors for promotional brochures. I think Ann McGovern was my first interview, back when I worked as a junior copywriter for Scholastic. Or it might have been Johanna Hurwitz. I don’t think I saved them. This would have been in 1985, I guess. Life went on and I’ve interviewed some talented authors and illustrators over the years.

You’d think I’d have learned some things along the line, but my basic feeling is usually one of disorientation, a sense that I have no idea what I’m doing, most likely saying the wrong things, awkwardly. Oh well.

I do have lucid moments, times when I think, “Okay, not terrible.” But in general I can’t read things like this without wincing, without twitching and blinking too often. I don’t know, it’s weird. I try to be honest, authentic, and hope for the best.

Below, you’ll find a brief excerpt of a much longer interview. Click here for the whole shebang.

What’s the worst thing you did as a kid?

It’s interesting you ask this, because I recently wrote about it in my journal. A theme that I’m exploring in the book I currently writing (or should be writing), which is a quasi-sequel to BYSTANDER. I have superstitions about talking about books before they are finished, but I’ll say this: In the summer between 7th and 8th grade, a girl in my homeroom died unexpectedly. I didn’t know her well, and wouldn’t call her a friend. When I first heard about Barbara’s death, I was with a bunch of friends –- I can picture it vividly, a bunch of us lounging around — and I said something dumb, snarky, immature. Of course, the death of a peer was completely new to me, a big deal, and I didn’t know how to react. I still feel a sense of shame about it, across these forty years, that one dumb thing I said that no one else even noticed. I’ve been reflecting a lot about identity lately, the idea of self not as a revelation, but as a made thing. Something you earn. Bryan Stevenson gave an incredible presentation for TED Talks -– everyone in America should Youtube it -– and he said, “I’ve come to understand and to believe that each of us is more than the worst thing we’ve ever done.” That’s a huge, complicated, controversial idea –- and it speaks directly to the topic of my next book. [NOTE: I've embedded Stevenson's talk, below.]

Was there ever a time in your writing career where you wanted to seriously give up? If so, how did you find the motivation to continue?

Yes, I’ve wanted to quit. Absolutely. Mostly because it’s hard, and because I’ve felt (and still feel, though less so) insecure about my own ability –- that I was a pretender, a self-deceiver, a fake. Also, it’s a bunny-eat-bunny business that can crush your soul at times. As a husband and father, I’ve worried about my ability to provide for my family, to keep paying the bills. But that’s life, right? You have to keep getting up. You can’t just lie there on the canvas. That said: Every day I feel blessed that I can do this for a living. The hard is what makes the good.

What’s your favorite writing quote?

It’s not a quote, so much as an attitude about doing the work, a sort of blue collar distrust of pretentiousness. In a phrase, shut up, sit down, and write. Or not! But either way, shut up. It’s hard, writers are told that we need to promote ourselves, we need to “have a presence” on the web, we need to “get out there.” And I just keep thinking, we need to write great books. That’s all that matters.

Is there anything you find particularly challenging in writing? What comes easily?

The whole thing is a challenge. One thing about having published a bunch of things over a long period of time is that I’ve come to understand that each book is its own, self-contained thing. You write the story that’s in front of you. Then you write the next one. And the next. You don’t control what happens after that and, on good days, you accept that plain fact.

Add a Comment
4. GUEST BLOGGER: Lewis Buzbee Interviews James Preller About His Upcoming YA Novel, “Before You Go”

Greetings, I’m Lewis Buzbee, guest-blogger for the day.

Guest blogger: Lewis Buzbee.

It’s true, I’ve hi-jacked James Preller’s blog to bring you a very cool conversation with Mr. Preller (he makes me call him that) about his newest book, Before You Go (Macmillan, July 2012), which is his first Young Adult novel. I’ve taken control here because Mr. Preller is a very generous writer who frequently trumpets and supports the work of his fellow writers, and I figure it was time to hear from him. James has interviewed me twice, and our conversations have been so enjoyable, so thoughtful, I wanted to turn the tables, see what he had to say.

Before You Go, I must tell you, is a deliciously good book, whether you call it YA or not. It centers on a tough summer in the life of Jude, who has to face all of the toughest questions — what is love, what is death, what comes next? It’s everything a novel should be; it’s funny, moving, troubling, smart, and illuminating. Forget the labels, it’s a beautiful novel, and you should read it.

James, you’ve written picture books, chapter books, and middle grade novels; Before You Go is your first Young Adult novel. Why now?

Before You Go was the most logical step in a haphazard career path. You could argue that writing older and longer has been a gradual process for me, roughly parallel to the growth of my own children (Maggie, 11, Gavin, 12, Nick, 19). But you asked, “Why now?” and frankly I don’t have an easy answer for that. Except: opportunity. I’m lucky to have an editor, Liz Szabla, who doesn’t look to put me in a box or turn me into a brand. She supports my randomness.

How was writing Young Adult different?

I felt that writing for young adults came closest to my natural voice. I loved going back to my 16-year-old self, tapping into that rich and vigorous vein. So many ideas and feelings and memories bubbled forth. First love, big emotions, friendships, wild times, painful times, all of it. Location became central to this story, and I set it in my hometown, including real places I’d been. That trip out to the Amityville Horror House, for example, that’s something many of us Long Island kids did in our boredom, in our driving-around-looking-for-something-to-do lives. I am instantly transported back into that car with my high school friends, Kevin, Eric, Billy, and Jim –- a bunch of guys, a little lost, trying to figure out Saturday night.

Add a Comment
5. Raymond Carver: Quote of the Day

In this age of desperate self-promotion, of tweets and status updates and high-cost book trailers, of authors being told, over and over again, about the importance of having a web presence, and — God help me, I’ve heard this — “the value of leveraging the media for maximum impact” — I am comforted by this quote, from one of the masters.

“Writers will be judged by what they write.”Raymond Carver.

Taken from a terrific interview from the Paris Review, conducted by my most respected pal, Lewis Buzbee, with Mona Simpson.

Add a Comment
6. Let Kids Read Comic Books . . . D’uh!

Instead of “Let Kids Read Comic Books,” I almost titled this entry, “Don’t Be an Idiot.” Because I can’t believe this needs to be discussed anymore.

Over at Imagination Soup, they ran a good piece with a solid message: “8 Reasons to Let Your Kids Read Comics.“ Check it out, there’s a lot of worthwhile links attached to the article.

Here’s their list of “8 reasons” in brief.

1. Comics are fun to read.

2. Comics contain the same story elements and literary devices as narrative stories.

3. Comics provide built-in context clues.

4. Reading a comic is a different process of reading using a lot of inference.

5. Readers need variety in their reading diet.

6. We’re a visual culture and the visual sequence makes sense to kids.

7. Reading comics may lead to drawing and writing comics.

8. The selection of graphic novels is bigger, better, and reaches a wider age-range than before.

Yeah, feh, okay. I get that. We have to establish that comics are credible resources, that it’s valid in the classroom, and there’s a perceived need to throw in a lot of pedagogical goobledygook. But I don’t care. Because one thing I know in my bones is that many (many!) professional authors began their childhood love of reading with comic books. Those authors are almost always men (read: ex-boys).

They read what they wanted to. They read what they liked. They read, period.

One of the critically important aspect of this issue of “boys reading junk” is that well-meaning adults — and in particular, women — need to become sensitized to our bias against certain types of reading. We have to become aware of the messages we send to boy readers, the disapproving, dismissive way we view personal choices.

We must trust in the process.

When I was working on my belly-up blog, Fathers Read, I received written contributions from several children’s book authors, including Matthew Cordell, Lewis Buzbee, Michael Northrop, Eric Velasquez, and Jordan Sonnenblick. One recurring strain in their reflections on their lives as young readers was the love

Add a Comment
7. Author Sighting: Lewis Buzbee!

Author Lewis Buzbee and his daughter Maddy tackle a big fat book.

Lewis wrote:

Five Things About Me as a Young Reader

1.  I was not a voracious reader as a child — I watched a lot more TV than I read books.  My love for reading didn’t start until I was in high school.

2.  Neither of my parents had gone to college, and were not what you would call literary.  But they read, for their own pleasure and information.  My mother read Gothic novels, the precursors to today’s Romance novels.  My father read the newspaper every morning at breakfast — he’d read it to us — and he read magazines like Argosy and True Stories.

3.  My favorite way to buy books was through the Scholastic Books catalog.  My second favorite way was at the local five and dime.

4.  My favorite early books were all very generic — The Long Bomb, Murder by Moonlight, Mystery Under the Sea, Radar Commandos. I loved those books.

5.  I can still remember the moment, when I was six, when I realized the word “says” on the page was pronounced “sez.”  That was a moment of profound understanding.

Lewis Buzbee is a San Francisco-based author of many fine books for both adults and children, including: The Haunting of Charles Dickens . . .

. . .

Add a Comment
8. Illustrating Charles Dickens

The Haunting of Charles Dickens is the first of my books to carry illustrations, and it’s a thrill to see an illustrator, here the fabulously talented Greg Ruth, giving graphic form to scenes and characters I’d only seen in my head.  I’ve often found it disappointing that illustrations disappear from books as the readers of those books get older.  Why must non-kids’ books be so bland?  Especially in an era when graphic novels have become so popular.  Wouldn’t it be great to have this added dimension in every novel? 

Of course, it’s only fitting that Feiwel and Friends has chosen to decorate this book.  Nearly all of Charles Dickens’s novels were illustrated, both when they appeared in serial form and in their first editions.  Today, many of those illustrations are often reprinted in contemporary editions.  A typical Dickens novel would have 40 or so illustrations, two per chapter, and while I was writing this book, I couldn’t get that notion out of my mind.  In fact, at one point, the main character, Meg Pickel, imagines the scene in her living room as an illustration from a Dickens novel, a scene she titles “The Consolation of the Father.” 
Dickens, of course, wrote long before film and television, but even though photography was a thriving technology in his later years, it was still too expensive a technology to publish in books and newspapers.  To readers of Oliver Twist and A Christmas Carol, these illustrated novels were as vibrant and innovative as 3-D films today.

We may actually owe a debt of gratitude to an illustrator for all the novels of Charles Dickens.  His first book, The Pickwick Papers, which was enormously popular and made Dickens a celebrity, began as a book of sporting prints for which Dickens was to simply write editorial copy.  But when the book’s illustrator, Robert Seymour, killed himself soon after the contract was signed, Dickens hired a new artist, Halbot Knight Browne (known as “Phiz”) to complete the project.  Brown (known as Phiz) and Dickens (then known as Boz) changed the entire shape of the book and together created the hilarious and unique Pickwick.  Phiz and Dickens continued to collaborate on all his major works up through A Tale of Two Cities.

What I love most about Greg Ruth’s illustrations for The Haunting of Charles Dickens is how much work they do, while at the same time leaving so much room for the reader to use her own imagination.  In some cases, Greg’s brush and ink drawings help illustrate a plot point—the map of a constellation, a mysterious iron bolt—while in other cases, he depicts the mood of the story with one simple image—a golden monkey perched on a railing, London’s rooftops at night.  His emotional, intense drawings help guide the reader.

But Greg chose not to show the faces of the main characters.  He knows that for the reader of a novel, how we see characters is a very personal matter; we build those pictures in our heads.  This strategy allows the reader to fully inhabit the novel, and as readers, we see the scenes from the book as if we were in them, rather than watching them from afar.

Like a lot of writers, I’ve hidden little clues in my books, and in The Haunting of Charles Dickens, you’ll find, if you read really closely, references to Dickens’s books and characters, to other great British writers and books, and to pop songs and other odd bits and pieces.  Greg tells me that he, too, always hides little puzzles or inconsistencies in

Add a Comment