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Results 1 - 25 of 33
1. What’s a children’s librarian to do?

JeaneD Whats a childrens librarian to do?Twice in the past week I’ve been asked to opine publicly about the future of books and libraries for children, first at the NYLA conference in White Plains and then at the investiture of Eileen Abels as the new dean of the Simmons GSLIS. I had far fewer answers than questions, which I present to you for possible mastication:

Whenever I worry about the future of publishing and, in particular, the demand for professional book reviews in an increasingly Amazoned world, I think, “well, I could always go back to being a librarian again.” I’m twenty-five years out from the Chicago Public Library but I still hold my union card in the form of an MA from Chicago’s Graduate Library School (itself gone for almost a quarter century as well).

But then I think, could I? My library school curriculum included no courses in electronic reference, never mind the web, which did not yet exist. In Don Swanson’s required computer class, we learned assembly language and how to program IBM punch cards. As a children’s librarian in the early 80s, I worked at a branch that boasted the first public-access microcomputer in a public library, the brain child of branch manager Patrick Dewey. Adults used it to access BBS networks; kids used it to play Pong-like games and use very elementary, black-and-white, educational programs. For story hours, our idea of high-tech was a filmstrip projector.

Still I tell myself that the basics of library work with children remain the same as when I was working in the 80s and in fact when Anne Carroll Moore and Alice Jordan, cheered on by the Horn Book’s Bertha Mahony Miller, were establishing children’s librarianship as a profession a century ago: Library service based in book collections and storytelling, presided over by librarians with deep knowledge of literature and methods of bringing children and books together. Last week I was at the White Plains Public Library in New York and while the place was so high-tech that I expected lasers to shoot from the ceiling, books—regular old print books—were everywhere.

How long will this remain true? As reading becomes increasingly at one with the ether, will librarians have a place? As even reader’s advisory becomes more automated and egalitarian, to whom do we give advice? If there is no physical collection of books to maintain and promote, what do our jobs become? I would like to believe that there are 21st century Alice Jordans ready to colonize and civilize the brave new digital world, and I hope that our library schools are getting these pioneers packed and ready.

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2. May/June Horn Book Magazine starred books

view May/June Horn Book Magazine starred books

I feel like the Fisherman’s Wife here–now that I have a window in my office, I want sunshine.

But we are getting accustomed to our new quarters, scary warnings in the cafeteria about noroviruses notwithstanding. We even managed a star meeting! The following books will receive starred reviews in the May/June issue of The Horn Book Magazine:

The Baby Tree; written and illustrated by Sophie Blackall (Paulsen/Penguin)

Gaston; by Kelly DiPucchio; illus. by Christian Robinson (Atheneum)

All Different Now: Juneteenth, the First Day of Freedom; by Angela Johnson; illus. by E. B. Lewis (Simon)

The Last Forever; by Deb Caletti (Simon Pulse)

We Were Liars; by E. Lockhart (Delacorte)

West of the Moon; by Margi Preus (Amulet/Abrams)

Josephine: The Dazzling Life of Josephine Baker; by Patricia Hruby Powell; illus. by Christian Robinson (Chronicle)

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3. Moving moment No. 8

Elaine 500x375 Moving moment No. 8A literary genius–I do not use the word lightly–a gifted painter, and she had PERFECT PENMANSHIP.

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4. Moving moment No. 9

Block that metaphor!stalk 500x375 Moving moment No. 9

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5. Moving moment No. 12

BMM 225x300 Moving moment No. 12Elf on the shelf. Her nephew told me I was making Bertha laugh in Heaven, so that’s something.

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6. A true Dutch treat

Fairy Godfather A true Dutch treatI hope you jumped on those Sutherland Lecture tickets yesterday because they are gone baby gone–I understand that even the waiting list is full. A big fan of John Green’s books, I am nevertheless nervous about being in an auditorium filled with John Green Girls, beautiful, complicated and ka-razy creatures that they are. Or do I infer too much? Come say hello–I’ll be the flustered chaperone in the corner.

In the meantime I am off to White Plains today to visit Brian Kenney’s library and speak to the Youth Services Section of  NYLA tomorrow morning. Then a weekend with our lovely Dutch friends in Rye, taking the adorable Julia, Mads, and Lizze to see Matilda on Broadway, for what else are fee peetvaders for?

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7. Sequelitis

giver Sequelitis

I was out for a run the morning of the 4th when a squadron of Blue Angels came zooming across the sky in formation. The contrast between the Olmsted-ordered beauty of my surroundings (see above, near Ward’s Pond in Jamaica Plain) and the high-tech menace above made me feel like I was in The Giver. So then my thoughts wandered to Lois Lowry’s latest novel, Son, fourth and presumably last in what the publisher is now calling the Giver Quartet.

I like the book (it will be reviewed in the September issue of the Horn Book Magazine) but I do wonder about the wisdom (aesthetic if not commercial) of going to the same well too often. Any time I speak to an audience that includes library students, I plead with one of them to make a master’s thesis (do library school students still write master’s theses? Masters’ theses?) of the intersection of Newbery attention and sequel publication. There are tons of variables, including the fact that no fewer than five Newbery Medals have gone to books that were sequels to books that had previously won Newbery Honors. At least fifteen Newbery winners have spawned sequels, sometimes where you would expect (as with Susan Cooper’s ongoing Dark Is Rising series, or Cynthia’s Voigt’s further adventures of the Tillerman kids) but often where you would not, as with Julie of the Wolves or The Giver or Shiloh. None of these stories needed to keep going, and one thing I like about all those books is the way they end. Here’s hoping Dead End in Norvelt is true to its title.

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8. Moving moments No. 1

Magid Moving moments No. 1As we (WE?, the staff snarks) pack up the offices for our move at the end of this month, it’s just one madeleine after another as old toys and treasure unveil themselves from the shadowed recesses, bringing with them the little joies and horreurs of années passées.

Martha uncovered this copy of Magid Fasts for Ramadan, a pleasant little chapter book we reviewed back in 1996. This was my first object lesson in the necessity of careful proofreading, as it was not until the final pass through the July issue blues that we saw that somewhere along the line the title in the review had been changed to “Magid FEASTS for Ramadan.” So much for cultural sensitivity!

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9. Moving moments No. 2

TernRock Moving moments No. 2Cindy found this one, The Light at Tern Rock by Julia Sauer, a Newbery Honor Book in 1952–and originally published in the Horn Book Magazine in 1949. This would seem to break the award’s rule about “original work,” that the “text is presented here for the first time and has not been previously published elsewhere in this or any other form.” But maybe the rule was different then? Or perhaps here as so often, he says, drawing his emeralds warmly about him*, the Horn Book was above any such petty restrictions as criteria.

K.T. Horning, do you know?

*Dorothy Parker.

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10. This year’s headless torsos?

silhouettes 375x500 This years headless torsos?

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11. Moving moment No. 5

A good writer and a good friend, taken too soon.

Janet 375x500 Moving moment No. 5

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12. BoB

Cakejpg BoBSLJ’s Battle of the Books is underway, and let me just say how glad I am that the judges are being (relatively) tough.

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13. Moving moment No. 6

Jake 375x500 Moving moment No. 6Ooh, who remembers this one? In 1982, the library systems of Chicago, Milwaukee, and San Francisco banned Margot Zemach’s Jake and Honeybunch Go to Heaven from their collections (Chicago, from where I followed the whole story avidly, did include it in its two regional research libraries). Unlike the headlines, still popular today, that too-loosely use the term “censorship” to describe any effort to remove a book from a library (it ain’t censorship unless the effort succeeds), this was the real thing: local governments, through their libraries, actively refusing to stock a book because of “partisan or doctrinal disapproval.” This was the book that made me realize that librarians could be their own worst enemies: I recall one librarian interviewed in an NPR story about the flap who actually said, “when WE do it, it’s selection, not censorship.” That is exactly backwards.

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14. Moving moment No. 7

One of the best friends the Horn Book has.Natalie 500x375 Moving moment No. 7

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15. Well, this is refreshing

hunger games movie photo jennifer lawrence Well, this is refreshingA non-hysterical newspaper article in the Boston Globe about whether parents should let their pre-teens see The Hunger Games or not. Katie is going to be reviewing the movie for us so look out for that. She’s already posted some read-alikes.

Has anyone seen Tomorrow, When the War Began? I don’t know if it got a theatrical release here but it’s on PPV. Should I watch?

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16. And this is funny

robotqr And this is funnyI was reading in the PRINT edition of American Libraries about how all the cool kids can’t wait to use QR codes to access library programming via their smartphones. First: oh, sure. Second, who ever uses those things (or as Brian Kenney said on Facebook, “I think we should just donate a few examples to the Smithsonian and call it a day”)? Third, the article urges us to find out more about a library that is using them by instructing us to “click here for the details.” I want magic paper too!

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17. May/June Horn Book Magazine starred reviews

The following books will receive starred reviews in the May/June issue of the Horn Book Magazine:

Animal Masquerade; by Marianne Dubuc; trans. from the French by Yvette Ghione (Kids Can)

Demolition; by Sally Sutton; illus. by Brian Lovelock (Candlewick)

The Drowned Cities; by Paolo Bacigalupi (Little, Brown)

Dying to Know You; by Aidan Chambers (Amulet/Abrams)

A Confusion of Princes; by Garth Nix (Harper/HarperCollins)

Code Name Verity; by Elizabeth Wein (Hyperion)

Forget-Me-Nots:Poems to Learn by Heart; selected by Mary Ann Hoberman; illus. by Michael Emberley (Tingley/Little, Brown)

The President’s Stuck in the Bathtub: Poems about the Presidents; by Susan Katz; illus. by Robert Neubecker (Clarion)

A Black Hole Is NOT a Hole; by Carolyn Cinami DeCristofano; illus. by Michael Carroll (Charlesbridge)

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18. Well, this bites

Here at the Horn Book we’ve gotten used to publishers sending us off-the-wall books.  But this week even we were taken aback when we lifted the flap of a box and found this volume sitting on top of the stack:

norvelt33 3copy1 Well, this bites














As Bertha Mahony Miller might have said:  WTF?

Was this a sequel to our newly-crowned Newbery?  If so, how come we’d never heard any advance word about it? The confusion continued when we lifted out the next book:

moon over manifest copy4 Well, this bites















Fortunately, we then found the paperwork that accompanied these books, sent by a new publisher, Hexwood Books.  According to their press release:

Newbery winners? 

Critics, librarians, and teachers love them.

Kids?  Not so much.

As demonstrated by the popularity of Stephenie Meyer’s “Twilght” series, kids today want to read stories about sexy vampires…stories about fangs poised above the neck of a young innocent…stories about blood slowly seeping into the bodice of a white ruffled nightgown.  Our new series, “Vamped-up Newberys” will satisfy both young people and their teachers – featuring the plots  and characters of your favorite award-winning novels, slightly altered to include today’s most popular subject matter among young people: vampires!

The first five volumes in the series are based on the 2012 winner DEAD END IN NORVELT, last year’s winner MOON OVER MANIFEST, 2007’s THE HIGHER POWER OF LUCKY, JACOB HAVE I LOVED (1981) and that classic from 1945, JOHNNY TREMAIN. 

Take a look at this series.  Share the novels with a kid you love.  Then tell us what you think.  We’d love to hear from you!

Passing the volumes around the office, we began to compare the “Vamped-up” editions with the original books.  Although a good 80% of the content – prose, characters, dialogue – is virtually identical between original and “altered” versions, each of the Hexwood Books has been modified to somehow include vampires.

Remember the sibling rivalry between Sara Louise and Caroline in Jacob Have I Loved?  It’s still there, but now the sisters are feuding vampires:

jacob copy1 Well, this bites
















Johnny Tremain is now a Revolutionary War lad with iron-enriched blood being fought over by two covens of  beautiful and sexy vampires:

Johnny Tremain copy Well, this bites

















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19. Two things to do tonight

One: Ruta Sepetys will be speaking and signing her novel Between Shades of Gray tonight at Porter Square Books in Cambridge at 7:00PM.

Two: I am being interviewed by Emma Walton Hamilton tonight at 7:00PM EDT at the Children’s Book Hub. It’s a membership site, but you can listen for free by following this link. I’ll be talking about book reviewing, trends, and how I really feel about your blog.

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20. Who would we put on our walls?

Yesterday afternoon, my friend Kirk and I went to see Marilyn Horne give a masterclass at Harvard. The location was incidental, as the event was actually sponsored by Oberlin, where Horne is Distinguished Professor of Voice, and the four singers had all worked with her there. (Many thanks to Oberlin alum Elissa, who scored us the tickets.)

BlaineHall Who would we put on our walls?

The masterclass took place in Harvard’s Paine Hall, whose interior walls are on three sides inscribed with the names of 26 composers, chosen when the hall was being finished in 1913-14. It’s all dead great European men from the 19th century and earlier. Some of the names have worn better than others. At one point, while guiding a young soprano through “Porgi, Amor,” Horne happened to glance up at the frieze of names and exclaimed “Couperin?! How did HE get up there?” And worse was to come when Horne noticed that her career stalwart Rossini was absent from the roster.

It made me wonder who the names on a children’s-book frieze would be, if we used a basic criteria of “dead but important and still singing to readers.” Let me take a stab at 26:  Alcott, Andersen, Barrie, Baum, Bemelmans, Burnett, Carroll, Collodi, Grahame, Grimm, Keats, Kipling, L’Engle, Lewis, Lindgren, McCloskey, Milne, Perrault, Potter, Seuss, Spyri, Stevenson, Wilder, Twain, Travers, White. Hmm, all white and mostly male. Is that me, the canon, or both?

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21. Boots on the ground

Location Location Location Boots on the ground

Barbara Bader’s “Cleveland and Pittsburgh Create a Profession” looks at a time when place really mattered and where you worked was far more allied to what you did than it is today. Certainly, you would learn from your distant colleagues via professional associations and journals, but change in librarianship happened building by building. Reading Bader’s account I’m struck by the concreteness of everything–Effie Power moving from Cleveland to Pittsburgh; Frances Olcott’s “Library Day” programs on summer playgrounds; William Howard Brett literally carving out space to make a children’s room. All of this still goes on, of course, but what will the ebook future hold? You can now go to library school from your home and check out books the same way. With public libraries currently so tied to geographically dependent funding, how will they fare as their physical location matters less and less?

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22. Another Belle of Amherst

betsyandcow Another Belle of Amherst

Shaddup, that's Betsy on the right.

This coming Saturday, I’ll be introducing my old friend Betsy Hearne at the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art, where she will be delivering the Barbara Elleman Research Library Lecture. 25 bucks for lunch with Betsy and me at noon; the BERL lecture (hey Barbara–how’s it feel to be an acronym?) is  at 2:00 PM and free with admission to the museum. Like Anne Carroll Moore, Bertha Mahony Miller, and Ellen Robillard O’Hara before her, Betsy Gould Hearne is a true three-named Great Lady Legend and you shouldn’t miss this chance to hear her speak.

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23. When librarians do stupid things

JandH When librarians do stupid thingsSometimes we really are our own worst enemy. Somebody take away this lady’s library card.

And has anyone read these Fifty Shades of Grey? How is it?

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24. Grad school from your couch

Kauffmann seated in the company of other Bluestockings  1778 Grad school from your couchSimmons grads Kristin Cashore, Deborah Kaplan, Rebecca Rabinowitz, and Amy Stern recorded their living-room discussion of E. Lockhart’s The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks. Watch and learn. It’s making me remember the scene–also a living room– in 1978 where I had to present my senior thesis to all the other graduating English majors and our  senior seminar professor, the late and great Beverle Houston, who asked “Who’s next? Roger? On Gertrude Stein? Perfect, who’s got some grass?” I, um, took a deep breath and began.

Kristin, by the way, will also be signing her new novel Bitterblue at the Harvard Book Store this Thursday, May 31st. (Doesn’t this May seem to have had like eleven weeks in it?)

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25. Live! From New York!

oscar Live! From New York!If you’re coming to BEA, please join 2010 Boston Globe-Horn Book Award winner Rebecca Stead and me on Thursday as we announce the winners of the 2012 BGHB Awards, live with champagne, in the Librarians’ Lounge (booth #2148), 1:00PM, at the Javits Convention Center. If you can’t be there, we (fingers crossed and prayers sent aloft) will be showing a video of the announcement Thursday afternoon (threeish? fourish?) at www.hbook.com. All I’m gonna tell you NOW is that our judges did a GREAT job.

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