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1. Review of He Has Shot the President!

brown he has shot the president Review of He Has Shot the President!star2 Review of He Has Shot the President!He Has Shot the President!:
April 14, 1865: The Day John
Wilkes Booth Killed President Lincoln [Actual Times]
by Don Brown; illus. by the author
Intermediate    Roaring Brook    64 pp.
4/14    978-1-59643-224-6    $17.99    g

This fifth entry in Brown’s Actual Times series (including All Stations Distress, rev. 9/08) begins on April 14, 1865, the day Lincoln was assassinated. Brown introduces both major actors, Lincoln and Booth, and then begins the tricky task of chronologically following each man to his death. He does so successfully, switching back and forth between the actions of both men with impeccable transitions. The text is matter-of-fact and detailed. “At about 10:00 PM, Booth reentered Ford’s through the front entrance and made his way to the second floor and the president’s box.” The illustrations, in Brown’s slightly impressionistic style and rendered in somber shades of brown, blue, and gray, create drama. There’s the despair on Dr. Charles Leale’s face as he attends Lincoln and sadness in the posture of mourners watching Lincoln’s funeral train moving slowly through America’s farmlands toward its final destination. But there’s also menace in Lewis Powell as he attempts to kill Secretary of State William Seward and in the stance of a soldier questioning eleven-year-old Appolina Dean, an innocent boarder at Mary Surratt’s house. A bibliography completes this fine book.

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2. Review of Caminar

brown caminar Review of Caminarstar2 Review of Caminar Caminar
by Skila Brown
Middle School    Candlewick    197 pp.
3/14    978-0-7636-6516-6    $15.99    g

“Forest sounds / all around / but on the ground / the sound / of Me / grew. Echoed. / I heard a path I could not see.” Exquisitely crafted poems are the basis of an unusually fine verse novel set in 1981, in the middle of the Guatemalan civil war. When the government helicopters appear in the air over the small village of Chopán, young Carlos obeys his mother when she tells him to go into the forest to hide. When all is quiet, he climbs down from his tree and soon comes across a group of four guerrilla rebel soldiers, lost in the forest. They confirm his greatest fears — that Chopán was burned to the ground, and that the people there were massacred by the government soldiers. Wracked with survivor’s guilt, Carlos begins to walk — caminar — on a mission to reach his grandmother’s village at the top of the mountain, to warn them about the helicopters. The poems, all written from Carlos’s point of view, are emotional, visceral, and lyrical. Layered and varied, some are shape poems; some can be read in more than one way, as if written from two perspectives; and all are accessible to young readers. When Carlos first encounters Paco, the rebel soldier his own age, their meeting is described in a poignant mirror poem. All combine to give us a chillingly memorable portrait of one child surviving violence and loss in a time of war.

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3. Fusenews: Blink and you’ll miss it

Hey all!  Before I dive into the oddities of the world in which we live, I just wanted to give a bit of a shout out to two distinct groups that allowed me to sprawl my librarian self all over their respective gatherings.  First up, credit and love to Nancy Castaldo and all the folks who made this weekend’s Eastern NY SCBWI Regional Conference the success that it was.  I’m mighty appreciative that I was able to offer the dessert keynote on Saturday.  Moreover, thanks to everyone who came out to see my censorship panel on Saturday at the Brooklyn Book Festival with David Levithan, Francesca Lia Block, and Lauren Myracle.  It’s always nice to moderate something that hardly needs any moderation at all.  Extra thanks to anyone who stayed around for my picture book reading later.  David Maybury I be looking at you.

And now, because the weekend was so darned exciting, I’m going to do some super quickie round-ups of the recent news.

WitchesPoster 500x319 Fusenews: Blink and youll miss it

Don’t mind if I do!

  • I have dealt with difficult reference desk requests in the past, but Benji’s story on dealing with a student looking for Effie?  That takes the cake.  Thanks to 100 Scope Notes for the link.
  • Though it falls squarely into the Couldn’t Be Published in America category of European picture books, Sergio Ruzzier’s remarkable The Birds is WELL worth reading through today.  And not just because I like the name.
  • Ever been curious about the history of children’s theater in New York City?  Well, you lucky ducks, I just found a post that’s gonna make your day.
  • Confused as to where exactly I work and what exactly I work for?  My job has gotten a bit more complicated since I became part of BookOps.  This interview with my colleagues by Booklist should clear up any and all confusion, though.  At least I hope it does.
  • Take one look at this image and tell me what you think it is:

AnneGablesWedding 500x333 Fusenews: Blink and youll miss it

If you said it was an Anne-of-Green-Gables-inspired-wedding-shoot you would be correct.  Sadly it wasn’t a real wedding, but you can tell it’ll serve as inspiration to a lot of folks.

  • Hooray!  The good Elizabeth Bluemle has collected The Stars Thus Far for 2013 and they’re a doozy.  A bunch of five stars are up, but not a single six star book has appeared so far this year.  Whodathunkit?
  • Looks like we have a bookless library on our hands.  Now the only question is whether or not we’ll be seeing the community clamoring for print or not.  Not so sure I agree with the statement that “it will take more than 100 years before all libraries are paperless” (so that’s inevitable, eh whot?) but we can all watch this site with some interest.
  • Daily Image:

Yup.  That’s gonna be the walls of my house someday.  Though the books will undoubtedly be thinner.

BookWall Fusenews: Blink and youll miss it

Thanks to Aunt Judy for the link!

printfriendly Fusenews: Blink and youll miss itemail Fusenews: Blink and youll miss ittwitter Fusenews: Blink and youll miss itfacebook Fusenews: Blink and youll miss itgoogle plus Fusenews: Blink and youll miss ittumblr Fusenews: Blink and youll miss itshare save 171 16 Fusenews: Blink and youll miss it

4 Comments on Fusenews: Blink and you’ll miss it, last added: 9/26/2013
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4. Review of My Bus

barton my bus Review of My Busstar2 Review of My BusMy Bus
by Byron Barton; illus. by the author
Preschool    Greenwillow    40 pp.
4/14    978-0-06-228736-6    $16.99    g

In a companion volume to My Car (rev. 11/01), we ride along with Joe as he drives Bus #123 across a bold-hued landscape populated with feline and canine passengers. “At my first stop, one dog gets on my bus. / At my second stop, two cats get on my bus.” After four stops, he points out he has five dogs and five cats riding on his bus. And here’s where the real fun for toddler transportation enthusiasts begins: Joe drops off one dog and two cats at a boat (“They sail away”), two dogs and one cat at a train, and one dog and two cats at a plane; the last little dog (“My dog!”) goes home with Joe in his car. Beyond the initial excitement many young children will feel as they share Joe’s journey and see the departing animals through the windows of their various vehicles, there is so much here for repeated readings (and there will be repeated readings). Barton ingeniously introduces the basic concepts of cardinal and ordinal numbers, addition, subtraction, and sets, but he does it all so subtly that even parents may not realize they’re getting a math lesson. And yet it’s all there for little brains to absorb and work out on their own as they “sail, ride, and fly away” again and again. Illustrated in Barton’s signature style, with bold, flat colors and with only the most important visual details included, this is a welcome companion to My Car.

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5. Review of The Scraps Book

ehlert scraps book Review of The Scraps Bookstar2 Review of The Scraps Book The Scraps Book: Notes from a Colorful Life
by Lois Ehlert; illus. by the author
Primary    Beach Lane/Simon    72 pp.
3/14    978-1-4424-3571-1    $17.99
e-book ed.  978-1-4424-3572-8    $10.99

In a generously illustrated picture book memoir, Ehlert speaks directly to her audience, particularly readers who like collecting objects and making things. Aptly titled, the book is jam-packed with art from her books and photos from her life, beginning with pictures of her parents, the house she grew up in, and the small wooden table where she was encouraged to pursue her own art projects. Along the way, we see how autobiographical her books have been. There are her mother’s scissors and her father’s tools (used in Hands, rev. 9/97), and her sister’s cat (the star of Feathers for Lunch, rev. 11/90). The small, 
square volume uses the same distinctive typeface seen in most of Ehlert’s books and serves as a reminder of her unique color sense and recurring subjects: 
flowers, leaves, fruits and vegetables, cats and birds. In addition to the large text for children, she includes smaller hand-written notes to fill in details, much as her books use a smaller sans serif text to label birds, plants, etc. We are treated to a description of her creative process including reproductions of thumbnail illustrations and detailed sketches. In the final stage of building collages, she uses whatever is at hand and enjoys making messes. “I use old tools to create texture; I splash paint with a toothbrush or rub a crayon over my grater.” Ehlert emerges as a woman who lives a good life surrounded by the objects and colors that make her happy. She wants the same for her readers, ending the book with “I wish you a colorful life!”

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6. Review of The Children of the King

hartnett children of the king Review of The Children of the Kingstar2 Review of The Children of the King The Children of the King
by Sonya Hartnett
Intermediate, Middle School    Candlewick    266 pp.
3/14    978-0-7636-6735-1    $16.99    g
e-book ed.  978-0-7636-7042-9    $16.99

Continuing her string of novels exploring the effects of war on innocents (The Silver Donkey, rev. 9/06; The Midnight Zoo, rev. 9/11), Hartnett’s latest book tackles the home front. In the early days of World War II, twelve-year-old Cecily Lockwood, her older brother Jeremy, and their mother flee London for the safety of Uncle Peregrine’s country manor. Jeremy chafes at being packed off to the country, since he desperately wants to contribute to the war effort, and tensions escalate between mother and son. Meanwhile, Cecily and an evacuee named May discover two boys dressed in fifteenth-century clothing hiding in the nearby ruins of Snow Castle, as Uncle Peregrine begins to recount the legend of Richard III and the young “Princes in the Tower.” As always, Hartnett’s gift for language deftly conveys both the sublime and the mundane in life. “[The sun’s] heatless light reached over miles of marsh…and finally crawled, with a daddy-longlegs’s fragility, up the walls of Heron Hall to Cecily’s window.” Hartnett grounds the relatively minor fantasy presence in the book with a heartfelt examination of the pain and hardships, endured by civilians in wartime. Cecily is a naive, spoiled, but well-intentioned heroine, effectively contrasted by the quietly independent and mature May and impetuous, brave Jeremy. Over the course of the story, Hartnett’s characters waver between feelings of helplessness, anger, and fear; ultimately, they find the necessary resolve to carry on.

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7. WILDWOOD DAY!

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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8. Exclusive Interview with Michael Chabon!

With villain names like Professor Von Evil and the Flaming Eyeball, how can you not be dying to read Pulitzer Prize-winning author Michael Chabon’s debut picture book THE ASTONISHING SECRET OF AWESOME MAN, illustrated by Jake Parker?  With short text and plenty of derring-do action (take a peek inside), this picture book will be a favorite of kids who love comics, as well as kids in your storytime programs.

In its starred review, School Library Journal said “the depiction of a showdown between Awesome Man and his nemesis-the Flaming Eyeball-is priceless. Readers may notice that there’s a moral peeking out from Awesome Man’s cape, but they’ll still grab this story in their ‘ginormous Awesome Power Grip’ and not let go.”

Monica Edinger (of Educating Alice and Huffington Post fame) recently had the chance to interview Michael Chabon himself!  Here’s how the conversation went:

Photo by Jennifer Chaney

From reading your Pulitzer Prize-winning adult novel The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, fans probably know you have a long-term relationship with superhero comics.  Can you give us a taste of your own childhood introduction to them and how that might have inspired this story of Awesome Man?

Well, of course I remember seeing Batman and the first animated Spider-Man show on television when I was very small… but my first true plunge into the world of superheroes came through the comic books that my father began to bring home for me, as soon as I could read. He had grown up reading them himself, and felt they were an important part of a kid’s education.

You clearly revel in language and names — Professor Von Evil, Moskowitz the Awesome Dog, positrons, and…pooped (and what kid doesn’t like saying “pooped!”).  As an adult author known for reveling in words and language, how did you manage to balance that with the need to keep things relatively simple for a picture book audience?

I was really thinking about the parents here–how much it meant to me, when I was reading a book aloud to my children for the 33832nd time, if there was a little verve or snap to the language. Probably the all time champ, in that regard–to me, at least–is William Steig. Nobody used English, in kids’ books, the way he did.

You have children of your own — were they helpful in the creation of this book?

I wrote this book for my younger son (I have two, and two daughters), Abe. He was the direct inspiration, in every way, for the main character of AWESOME MAN.

Are you a reader of children’s books yourself and if so, what are some of your favorites?

One of the greatest, and most lasting, pleasures of having children, for me, has been the excuse and the opportunity that bedtime reading has given me to revisit, and re-relish (usually), so many of the books I loved a

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9. EVERY THING ON IT

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!

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10. Review of No Crystal Stair: A Documentary Novel of the Life and Work of Lewis Michaux, Harlem Bookseller

nelson crystalstair 212x300 Review of <i />No Crystal Stair: A Documentary Novel of the Life and Work of Lewis Michaux, Harlem Bookseller</strong></p>star2 Review of <i />No Crystal Stair: A Documentary Novel of the Life and Work of Lewis Michaux, Harlem BooksellerNo Crystal Stair: A Documentary Novel of the Life and Work of Lewis Michaux, Harlem Bookseller
by Vaunda Micheaux Nelson; illus. by R. Gregory Christie
Middle School, High School    Carolrhoda Lab    188 pp.
2/12    978-0-7613-6169-5    $17.95
e-book ed.  978-0-7613-8727-5    $12.95
Inspired by Marcus Garvey and the drive to make a difference, Lewis Michaux opened the National Memorial African Bookstore in Harlem at the end of the Great Depression with an inventory of five books and a strong faith that black people were hungry for knowledge. Over the next thirty-five years, his store became a central gathering place for African American writers, artists, intellectuals, and political figures, including Malcolm X, who frequently gave his speeches in front of the bookstore. But Michaux also sought to reach ordinary citizens, believing that pride and self-knowledge would grow naturally from an understanding of global black history and current events. He didn’t just sell books; he surrounded his customers with ideas and provocative discussion. He also drew people in with pithy window signs that used humor and clever rhymes. When Sugar Ray Robinson stopped by in 1958, for example, Michaux communicated his disapproval of the hair-straightening products the boxer used: “Ray what you put on your head will rub off in your bed. It’s what you put in your head that will last ’til you’re dead.” Short chapters—some just a paragraph or two—are written in thirty-six different voices, mostly those of Michaux himself, family members, and close associates. Some of the voices are those of fictitious characters based on composites—customers, a newspaper reporter, a street vendor—but most are real people whose statements have been documented by the author in her meticulous research. The voices are interspersed with documents such as articles from the New York Amsterdam News and Jet magazine and with excerpts from Michaux’s FBI file. As Michaux’s grandniece, the author also had access to family papers and photographs. Given the author’s close relationship with the subject, she manages to remain remarkably objective about him, largely due to her honest portrayal of the lifelong conflict between him and many of his family members, most notably his evangelist brother, who didn’t approve of his radical politics. Sophisticated expressionistic line drawings illustrate key events. An extraordinary, inspiring book to put into the hands of scholars and skeptics alike. Appended are a family tree, source notes, a bibliography, further reading, and an index of historical characters.

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11. Review of The Mighty Miss Malone

fic curtis mightymiss Review of <I />The Mighty Miss Malone</strong></em></p>The Mighty Miss Malone
by Christopher Paul Curtis
Intermediate, Middle School    Lamb/Random    309 pp.
1/12    978-0-385-73491-2    $15.99
Library ed.  978-0-385-90487-2    $18.99
e-book ed.  978-0-375-89736-8    $10.99
To her father, twelve-year-old Deza Malone is “my Darling Daughter Deza,” “that sassy, smart, beautiful, charming little girl…my Mighty Miss Malone.” But it’s 1936, and the Depression has hit Gary, Indiana, hard. The loving Malone family is desperately poor and withering away. Older brother Jimmie hasn’t grown in three years, Mrs. Malone’s clothes hang on her, and Deza’s teeth are so bad it’s as if she’s rotting from the inside. In one poignant scene, Deza overhears her beloved father say to her mother, “I can’t breathe out of my nose when I’m near Deza because of the smell of her teeth. How sick is that?” Mr. Malone lights out for Flint, Michigan, in search of work, planning to write when his family can join him. But when they don’t hear, they journey to Flint in search of him. As incandescent and full of good cheer as Deza is (and as she was when introduced in Bud, Not Buddy, rev. 11/99, as the little girl who kissed Bud in a Hooverville camp), and as funny as the book’s early scenes are, this is an angry novel, unflinching in its portrayal of poverty, with plenty of resonance with the fifteen million poor children in the United States today. There’s certainly a measure of hope, hard won, by the end of the novel, but this is a depiction of a family and a nation that embody poet Robert Burns’s lines, much repeated here: “the best-laid schemes of mice and men gang aft a-gley.

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12. Review of Code Name Verity

wein codename1 Review of Code Name Verity star2 Review of Code Name VerityCode Name Verity
by Elizabeth Wein
High School    Hyperion    337 pp.
5/12    978-1-4231-5219-4    $16.99    g
e-book ed.  978-1-4231-5325-2    $16.99
Wein’s exceptional—downright sizzling—abilities as a writer of historical adventure fiction are spectacularly evident in this taut, captivating story of two young women, spy and pilot, during World War II. Wein gives us the story in two consecutive parts—the first an account by Queenie (a.k.a. Lady Julia Beaufort-Stuart), a spy captured by the SS during a mission in Nazi-occupied France. Queenie has bargained with Hauptsturmführer von Linden to write what she knows about the British war effort in order to postpone her inevitable execution. Sounding like a cross between Swallows and Amazons’s Nancy Blackett and Mata Hari, she alternately succumbs to, cheeks, and charms her captors (and readers) as she duly writes her report and, mostly, tells the story of her best friend Maddie, the pilot who dropped her over France, then crashed. Spoiler: unbeknownst to Queenie, Maddie survived the crash; part two is Maddie’s “accident report” and account of her efforts to save Queenie. Wein gives us multiple doubletakes and surprises as she ratchets up the tension in Maddie’s story, revealing Queenie’s joyously clever duplicity and the indefatigable courage of both women. This novel positively soars, in part no doubt because the descriptions of flying derive from Wein’s own experience as a pilot. But it’s outstanding in all its features—its warm, ebullient characterization; its engagement with historical facts; its ingenious plot and dramatic suspense; and its intelligent, vivid writing.

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13. Review of A Confusion of Princes

nix confusion Review of A Confusion of Princesstar2 Review of A Confusion of Princes A Confusion of Princes
by Garth Nix
Middle School, High School    Harper/HarperCollins    337 pp.
5/12    978-0-06-009694-6    $17.99
Library ed.  978-0-06-009695-3    $18.89    g
Nix’s gaming-inspired, sci-fi fantasy is a pleasing mix of high-adventure space drama, total bunkum (e.g., “it’s functioning on the tertiary backup level, without a holo…”), and wry, boyish charm. Khemri’s coming-of-age story begins with his emergence from years of genetic and technical “remaking” to take up his title of Prince. But he’s only one of millions of Princes in the Empire, and immediately finds that Princely life isn’t the easy, glamorous ride he’d imagined. Instead he has to join the Navy, suffer manifold humiliations, and, if he wants to live, heed his personal Master of Assassins. But Khemri’s telepathic intelligence is above average, and eventually he moves into a new sort of training that involves him becoming an almost normal human. That experience and his native intelligence cause him to reinterpret everything he’s been taught about the Empire. Nix’s fantasy has enough gadgets, escapes, battles, duels, deaths, and near-death experiences to keep die-hard adventure story readers enthralled. Happily, Khemri is also a thoughtful, winsome, and somewhat complex character, and his cheerfully self-deprecating tone and unpredictable choices make this romp entertaining on multiple levels.

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14. Review of Lies, Knives, and Girls in Red Dresses

koertge lies knives and girls in red dresses1 Review of Lies, Knives, and Girls in Red Dressesstar2 Review of Lies, Knives, and Girls in Red Dresses Lies, Knives, and Girls in Red Dresses
by Ron Koertge; illus. by Andrea Dezsö
High School     Candlewick     88 pp.
7/12     978-0-7636-4406-2     $19.99
A much-honored poet and novelist retells, in free verse and from various points of view, twenty-three familiar tales (mostly Grimm, Andersen, and Perrault). With a contemporary sensibility and voice, Koertge pitches directly to teenagers. Beauty’s Beast, though allowing that “her love…transformed me,” is still nostalgic for the time when his teeth were fangs and Beauty “almost wanted / me to break her neck and open her / up like a purse.” For the Ugly Duckling, “Grief is a street he skates down”; the swans, surrogate parents, beg, “Please don’t go away like / that again. We were worried sick.” There are several eager risk takers here, like the queen who outwits Rumpelstiltskin, then exits in a red cape, seeking a wolf. A few stories later, Red Riding Hood’s condescending account to her mother is a perfect parody: “I’m into danger, / okay? What? You said to tell you the truth and be, like, frank.” It’s also a swell mix of the comical, concrete, and macabre: “Anyway, it’s weird / inside a wolf, all hot and moist but no worse than flying / coach to Newark.” Dezsö’s choice of cut-paper illustrations is brilliant, a nod to Hans C. Andersen’s skill in that medium despite the radically different tone. Her stark silhouettes are peculiarly appropriate to such gruesome scenes as “The Robber Bridegroom” dismembering a bride, though the lurid gore is in a comfortably distancing black and white. Need to grab a restive class’s attention? Seek no further. And take note: “Wolf ” has the last word: “This is our forest…Perfect again when all your kind is dead.”

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15. Fusenews: Chubby little cubby all stuffed with RAGE!!!!

On Saturday, August 7th at 2:00 p.m. I will be moderating a talk with Stephen Roxburgh of namelos and Jennifer Perry, the Assistant Vice President & Editorial Director of the Book Publishing Group at Sesame Workshop, about ebooks, digital literature, and the current children’s literary industry.  As preparation, this article from Publishers Weekly called The Digital Revolution in Children’s Publishing could not be better timed.  I was particularly taken with this quote from Kristen McLean (executive director of the Association of Booksellers for Children) regarding interactive content: “Early reports indicate that this content is not replacing traditional books. It’s replacing games . . . Parents would rather see their kids engaged in book content than in game content.”  For my part, I hope that in the future more authors will be directly involved in the interactive aspects of some of these books.  Or that we get more designers that study exactly what works and doesn’t work with our kids from a storytelling standpoint.  Whatever the case, I’m inclined to suggest to attendees of my panel discussion that they read this article before attending.  It’s sure to answer a lot of questions, and raise even more.

  • Whoopsiedoodle (yes, I just wrote that word and yes, I regret nothing).  Looks like I missed talking about ShelfTalker’s latest Stars Thus Far posting.  You’ll remember that Elizabeth Bluemle takes it upon herself to accomplish the Herculean task of collecting all the starred children’s book reviews for a given year on a regular basis.  In this latest one I see that I missed that Cosmic by Frank Cottrell Boyce achieved the very rare SIX STAR level!  Even When You Reach Me never accomplished that.  Well done, Mr. Boyce!  Pity you’re ineligible for a Newbery, eh?  Now if I can only convince Harcourt to send me a copy of Ubiquitous . . .
  • I was enjoying the Jacket Knack post The Unexpected Ordinary anyway.  Then I saw the picture of the new paperback jacket for How to Ditch Your Fairy by Justine Larbalestier.  Oh man.  I am suddenly in love with some unknown Art Director. Of course, it immediately brings to mind Lady Cottington’s Pressed Fairies, but that is not a bad thing.  That book particular book is due for a YA revival anyway.  Or maybe we’ll just wait for the current crop of Rainbow Fairy enthusiasts to hit their teen years.  Give it 5 years or so.
  • Oo!  Speaking of both ShelfTalker AND book jackets, check out this post they made of The Season of Windblown Hair – Or, the Zeitgeist of Book Covers.  Personally, I prefer really weird cover trends.  This one’s my favorite

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16. Gail Carson Levine at IRA Conference!

Next week (May 8-11) we’re off to another conference: the International Reading Association Annual Convention in sunny Orlando!  We have a stellar line-up of authors and illustrators – for a complete list of authors and signing times, click here.

One such author is Gail Carson Levine, author of some of the best-known books in children’s literature, such as ELLA ENCHANTED and WRITING MAGIC.  She’ll be featured on a panel called “Engaging Readers K-5″ with Kristin Clark Venuti, Laurie Friedman, and Ethan Long.  The fabulous Kate Messner will be moderating.  If you’ll be at the conference, this panel will be on Tuesday, May 10 from 11:00am-12:00pm.

Gail will also be signing her new book, A TALE OF TWO CASTLES, from 12:30-1:30 after her panel.  In its starred review, Kirkus said that this is a “thoroughly delicious romp” and we couldn’t agree more.  Stop by booth #1220 and say hi to Gail!

We hope to see you in sunny Orlando!

Additional resources:
ELLA ENCHANTED discussion guide
A TALE OF TWO CASTLES book trailer
WRITING MAGIC discussion guide

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17. Fusenews: Straw waist-coats and sheet-iron cravats

Like the wind!  Faster than lightning!  Lots of news and no time to tell it.  In brief . . .

Oh, how cool!  This is not to be missed.  For those of you with an interest in children’s literature around the globe, the blog Playing by the Book offers this fantastic view of children’s literary destinations in Denmark.  That Little Mermaid statue is worth the price of the flight alone.

Travis Jonker of 100 Scope Notes was kind enough to stop by my library the other week to say howdy.  He recounts his time near the library lions in the post Fuse Live! Cheers, mate!

I was pleased to see James Kennedy post a new entry for the 90-Second Newbery Film Festival that will be held at New York Public Library this November.  Of course we need more, people. MORE!  If you know any creative kids who would be interested in distilling a Newbery winning book down to 90 seconds, please do not hesitate to read the rules here and have them submit.  We must have more!

  • Shocking news!  Old children’s books used to contain more male characters than female!  Well, maybe not all that shocking.  Thanks to Abigail Gobel for the link.
  • A similar article pointed out that the number of characters with disabilities as portrayed in Newbery books is not equal to the number of children in the real world who “attend special education classes”.  The report appears to look at the whole of Newebery winners from the past to today.  It does acknowledge that things have gotten better, though, so I’m a bit confused about the point of it all.  If books today do a much better job than books in the past, isn’t that the point?
  • In other news, the picture book is not dead.  Nor is it about to be supplanted by apps or anything with spangles and whizzbangs.  Allyn Johnston and Marla Frazee explain more.
  • The Detroit Public Library recently came under fire for its new renovation.  The concern is how much was spent on a single library wing ($2.3 million) while neighborhood branches close.  More info here.  Thanks to Aunt Judy for the link.

Author of the Year: Rick Riordan for The Lost Hero

Illustrator of the Year: David Wiesner for Art & Max

K-2nd Grade Book of the Year: Little Pink Pup by Johanna Kerby

3-4th Grade Book of the Year: Lunch Lady and the Summer Camp Shakedown by Jarrett J. Krosoczka

5-6th Grade Book of the Year: The Red Pyramid by Rick Riordan

Teen Choice Book of

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18. Buzz Alert: THIS PLUS THAT

Don’t listen to us gab about the newest picture book from Amy Krouse Rosenthal and Jen Corace…check out the three starred reviews for THIS PLUS THAT!

“Teachers could use the book, perhaps paired with Betsy Franco’s picture book Mathematickles! (2003), to introduce math equations or to inspire students to create their own verbal equations. But first, just read this unusual book aloud and let it work its magic.” ~ Booklist (starred review)

“Clever premise + artful execution = sure winner.” ~ Kirkus (starred review)

“Corace’s tidy figures echo with prim grace the gentle theme of the book, that life can be parsed into the simplest terms that recombine to create something joyous.” ~ Bulletin for the Center for Children’s Books (starred review)

Check out the adorable book trailer:

And check out these other great reviews:
A Year of Reading
Literacy and Laughter (look how she used it in the classroom!)
The BK Club (the Children’s Room at Memorial Hall Library)

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19. BUZZ ALERT: THE BERLIN BOXING CLUB

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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20. Turning the Page with…Robison Wells

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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