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1. Rural juror

The Morning News started its tournament of books yesterday with a match between Louise Erdrich’s The Round House and John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars. I thought the critic, Edan Lepucki, did a great job of assessing each book’s strengths and shortcomings and coming up with a winner. Today, the match between Adam Johnson’s The Orphan Master’s Son and Maria’ Semple’s Where’d You Go Bernadette is judged by a more milquetoasted Elliot Holt, but I found a useful link in the commentary. I seem to have missed Jacob Silverman’s “Against Enthusiasm” when it appeared in Slate last August, but I hope every member of the kidlitosphere reads it.


Our sis School Library Journal begins its Battle of the Books on Monday Tuesday and I’ll be over here critiquing the judges in brackets of two and allowing one to “move forward,” where, eventually (and if I’ve done the math right) one shall face the BoB’s Big Kahuna judge, Frank Cottrell Boyce. I’m not doing this to be mean–unless somebody drives me to it–but to test my frequent assertion that there’s too much diplomacy in children’s book discussion (again, see the Silverman essay linked above). I am also interested in exploring what kind of criticism these non-professionals will employ: will they argue from personal taste, moral significance, reader appeal, aesthetic value? Each or all of these can work; what matters most in this contest is that the judge is able to express a clear preference for one book over another and say why. The prize is two one-year subscriptions to the Horn Book Magazine, one to the winning judge and another to the library of his or her choice.I’ll be judge and jury (shades of SLJ’s Lillian Gerhardt: raise your hand if you’re old enough to remember her infamous Billy Budd Button and Huck Finn Pin!)


The post Rural juror appeared first on The Horn Book.

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2. Ben Mezrich On Picking Stories to Tell

How does a nonfiction author figure out what to write about? Recently, Ben Mezrich revealed his selection criteria during a talk he gave at Google. He feels most drawn to stories that feature ambition, intelligence, and people who “game the system” to be intriguing.

Mezrich also makes it a rule to “never start a book if I don’t think there can be a movie. Because I feel like if it can’t be a movie, it’s probably not going to be a good book.”

The video embedded above features his entire talk. In the past, Mezrich has written books on a diverse range of topics such as college students counting cards in Las Vegas, the founding fathers of Facebook, and a trio of moon rock thieves. Recently, he studied how a group of Russian oligarchs climbed up and came into power.

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3. Ben Mezrich on Picking Stories to Focus On

How does a nonfiction author figure out what to write about? Recently, Ben Mezrich revealed his selection criteria during a talk he gave at Google. He feels most drawn to stories that feature ambition, intelligence, and people who “game the system” to be intriguing.

Mezrich also makes it a rule to “never start a book if I don’t think there can be a movie. Because I feel like if it can’t be a movie, it’s probably not going to be a good book.”

The video embedded above features his entire talk. In the past, Mezrich has written books on a diverse range of topics such as college students counting cards in Las Vegas, the founding fathers of Facebook, and a trio of moon rock thieves. Recently, he studied how a group of Russian oligarchs climbed up and came into power.

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4. Cover Revealed for New Emil Ostrovski Book

Away We Go Cover (GalleyCat)

The cover has been unveiled for Emil Ostrovski’s young adult novel, Away We Go. We’ve embedded the full image for the jacket design above—what do you think?

According to EpicReads.com, Tim Smith served as the designer for this project. This book will be published on February 02, 2016.

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5. Theodore Weesner Has Died

Car Thief Cover (GalleyCat)Writer Theodore Weesner has died. He was 79 years old.

As an author, Weesner was best known for his debut novel The Car Thief. He followed-up this work with five other novels and one short story collection.

Here’s more from The New York Times: “He taught for years at the University of New Hampshire and later at Emerson College. His other books include Winning the City, a 1990 novel about a high school basketball player; a story collection, Children’s Hearts (1992); and a 2000 novel, Harbor Lights, about a lobster man facing death from cancer.”

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6. James Patterson to Give Away $1.75 Million to School Libraries

James Patterson 200 (GalleyCat)Back in March 2015, James Patterson (pictured, via) and the Scholastic Reading Club established a partnership to help school libraries. Initially, Patterson vowed to give away $1.25 million.

Since this announcement was made, over 28,000 applications were sent in vying for these funding grants. In consideration of all these requests, Patterson has decided to increase his donation amount to $1.75 million. So far, $500,000 has been handed out to 127 different schools.

Here’s more from the press release: “Scholastic Reading Club will match each dollar with bonus points that allow teachers to buy materials, including books, for their classrooms…With the school library initiative, Patterson’s mandate was to make the application process as simple as possible for librarians. The online application poses a single question: ‘What would your school library do with $1,000 to $10,000?'”

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7. Todd S. Purdum Inks Deal For a Rodgers & Hammerstein Biography

Henry-Holt-130Journalist Todd S. Purdum has landed a deal with Henry Holt. Purdum will write a biography profiling musical theater icons Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II.

The publisher has set the release date for Spring 2018. It was chosen to coincide with the 75th anniversary of the opening of their acclaimed Broadway show, Oklahoma!.

Purdum had this statement in the press release: “These are the songs and stories I grew up with, the original cast albums that my parents played till they were worn thin, and I could sing the scores in in my sleep. In watching the joy with which my own children have discovered Rodgers and Hammerstein, and the enormous worldwide commercial and critical success their work still enjoys, I became certain that the fascinating story of their collaboration was ripe for a fresh telling, not only to the Baby Boomers who love The Sound of Music, but to even younger generations who will appreciate the pioneering contributions this team made to one of America’s most important native arts.”

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8. Cover Unveild For Tim Federle’s First Young Adult Novel

Tim Federle Book (GalleyCat)

A cover has been unveiled for Tim Federle’s young adult novel, The Great American Whatever. We’ve embedded the full image for the jacket design above—what do you think?

Prior to this project, Federle published a picture book (entitled Tommy Can’t Stop!), two middle grade books (Five, Six, Seven, Nate! and Better Nate Than Ever), and two cocktail recipe books (Tequila Mockingbird: Cocktails with a Literary Twist and Hickory Daiquiri Dock: Cocktails with a Nursery Rhyme Twist). Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers has scheduled the publication date for March 29, 2016.

Here’s more from The Huffington Post: “Federle had a mature audience in mind when he began writing the book, originally titled Quinn, Victorious, five years ago, basing the plot on his personal experiences as seen through characters in their mid-20s. The success of the two Nate books, which are geared toward middle-grade readers, inspired him to trim 10 years off Quinn’s age and emphasize the character’s defining, post-adolescent moments instead – including brushes with self-doubt and an early sexual encounter. Still, he hopes the new book, which is shades darker than Nate but no less droll, will resonate with grown-ups as well as young adults.”

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9. Staten Island Direwolves to Host George R.R. Martin Night

Stark Direwolf Game of Thrones (GalleyCat)The Staten Island Yankees will be hosting “George R.R. Martin Night” on August 8 in New York. During this event, the Staten Island Yankees will be called the “Staten Island Direwolves.”

According to MLB.com, Martin himself will be present and signing autographs. A wolf from the Wild Spirit Wolf Sanctuary will also be a guest; this animal will make an appearance on the field.

The players will wear specially-made jerseys with fabric that features a brown fur and gray material design. One jersey will be auctioned off to raise funds for the wolf sanctuary. (via DNAinfo.com)

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10. Cover Revealed for New Sarah Ahiers Book

Assassin's Heart Cover (GalleyCat)

The cover has been unveiled for Sarah Ahiers’ Assassin’s Heart. We’ve embedded the full image for the jacket design above—what do you think?

According to EpicReads.com, Kate J. Engbring served as the designer for this project. HarperCollins Children’s Books has set the publication date for February 02, 2016.

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11. Stephen King Shares a Digital Audiobook of Drunken Fireworks

Stephen King Drunken Fireworks (GalleyCat)Stephen King has shared a free digital audiobook which contains his short story, Drunken Fireworks. According to Entertainment Weekly, readers can access this work on King’s website.

The New York Times reports that Tim Sample served as the narrator for this project. This piece will be featured in the forthcoming collection, The Bazaar of Bad Dreams.

Each short story in this collection is accompanied by a passage of commentary from King on his writing process. Scribner, an imprint at Simon & Schuster, has scheduled the release date for November 3.

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12. Rick Moody Inks Deal With Henry Holt

Henry-Holt-130Writer Rick Moody has signed a deal to write a new memoir. Henry Holt, an imprint at Macmillan, will publish The Long Accomplishment in 2017.

With this book, Moody will offer month-by-month details on the first year of marriage shared between himself and his second wife Laurel Nakadate. Executive editor Barbara Jones negotiated the deal with literary agent Melanie Jackson.

Here’s more from the press release: “Moody’s most intimate book to date, The Long Accomplishment begins at the happy start of Moody’s second marriage and follows him and his new wife through a sudden, yearlong storm of troubles. Although Moody worries that his past bad behaviors have somehow brought these trials – including serious illness, abruptly aging and infirm parents, a child custody battle, the deaths of close friends, and a calamitous home invasion – upon the family he loves, with humor, wit, and heartrending insight, he discovers that love is a sturdy boat, indeed the only boat, that can carry us across.”

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13. How I Became An Author

Ralph Fletcher, who is a beloved trade and professional book author, steps into our Author Spotlight.

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14. Cover Revealed for New Rhiannon Thomas Book

Kingdom of Ashes (GalleyCat)

The cover has been unveiled for Rhiannon Thomas’s young adult novel, Kingdom of Ashes. We’ve embedded the full image for the jacket design above—what do you think?

According to EpicReads.com, Jenna R. Stempel served as the designer for this project. This book, the sequel to A Wicked Thing, will be released on February 23, 2016.

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15. John Green on Why He Hasn’t Published a New Book

John Green TFIOSAs of late, John Green seems to be devoting his efforts to various YouTube series, film adaptations based on his young adult novels, and charity projects. Given this busy schedule, many fans have been wondering about when he will publish a new book.

Entertainment Weekly reports that Green explained in a recent Reddit AMA session that he doesn’t “want to publish until I’ve written something I can feel proud of. That hasn’t happened yet. Hopefully I’ll make more progress soon.”

Earlier this month, Green shot a vlog discussing what it means to be human. In that video, he revealed that he had been working on a novel about “how we define personhood.” At the moment, the PEN / Faulkner Foundation is hosting an auction and one of the items is to have your name appear as a character in an upcoming John Green novel. Over on Twitter, the author pledges not to kill off this character, but he “can’t promise when the book will be finished.”

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16. The Best of Australian YA

I’m an avid chewer of books but, surprisingly, I don’t read a lot of literature from my own country. Oh horror! Gasp with me! It’s an abominable shame. The reason for this is, a) I read mostly YA, b) most famous YA books are by American authors, and c) it seems much easier to get […]

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17. Neil Gaiman to Write Scripts for American Gods TV Adaptation

American GodsEarlier this year, Starz gave the green light for a TV adaptation based on American Gods. Neil Gaiman, the author behind the book, will not only serve as an executive producer, but also a screenwriter.

Variety.com reports that fellow executive producer Bryan Fuller confirmed that Gaiman will write several episodes. When the announcement about the TV show was first made, Gaiman expressed that he feels “relieved and confident that my baby is in good hands.\"

Here’s more from Deadline.com: “The 2001 novel concerns a brewing war between old and new gods, with traditional gods from myth and religions steadily losing believers to deities that reflect more modern concerns, such as love of money, technology, media, celebrity and drugs. The book centers on Shadow Moon, an ex-con hired as a bodyguard by one of those older gods trying to push back against the new gods’ successes.”

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18. Sherman Alexie to Write His Debut Picture Book

Books Sherman AlexieNational Book Award-winning author Sherman Alexie plans to write this debut picture book, Thunder Boy Jr. Artist Yuyi Morales created the illustrations for this project.

Publisher Megan Tingley negotiated this deal with literary agents Nancy Stauffer and Charlotte Sheedy. Editor in chief Alvina Ling and associate editor Bethany Strout worked on editing the manuscript together. Little, Brown Books for Young Readers will release this book on May 03, 2016.

Here’s more from the press release: “Thunder Boy Jr. tells the story of a little boy who is named after his dad. But Thunder Boy Jr. doesn’t want to share a name; he wants a name that is all his own, and he goes through many possibilities—Not Afraid of Ten Thousand Teeth? Touch the Clouds? Old Toys Are Awesome? Just when all hope is lost, his dad helps him find the perfect name, one that celebrates the love between father and son.”

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19. Chris Matthews is Working on a Book About RFK

MSNBC host Chris Matthews is reportedly working on a book about Robert F. Kennedy aka RFK.

Politico has the scoop:

The book is Matthews’ first on the former New York Senator and Democratic presidential candidate, and the third to touch on the Kennedy family dynasty. Matthews also authored “Jack Kennedy: Elusive Hero,” which came out in 2012, and “Kennedy & Nixon: The Rivalry that Shaped Postwar America,” which came out in 2011.

Bobby Kennedy authored several books himself, before he died in 1968, including:
To Seek a Newer World and The Enemy Within. In addition, Kennedy’s son Maxwell Taylor Kennedy published an edited version of RFK’s journal in 1999 called Make Gentle the Life of This World: The Vision of Robert F. Kennedy.

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20. A Poisoned Apple on the Cover of The Shadow Queen

Shadow Queen (GalleyCat)

The cover has been unveiled for C.J. Redwine’s The Shadow Queen. We’ve embedded the full image for the jacket design above—what do you think?

Sarah N. Kaufman served as the designer; she incorporated a real carved apple for this project. Balzer + Bray, an imprint at HarperCollins Children’s Books, has set the publication date for February 23, 2016. (via EpicReads.com)

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21. See Paulo Coelho’s Early Struggles in a New Movie Trailer

Did you ever wonder how Paulo Coelho carved out his career as a writer? Director Daniel Augusto teamed up with screenwriter Carolina Kotscho to shoot a biopic called “Paulo Coelho’s Best Story.”

The video embedded above offers glimpses of actor Júlio Andrade playing the role of The Alchemist author. Earlier this year, the film was screened at the Miami International Film Festival; a theatrical release date has been set for July 31st.

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22. J.K. Rowling on the Symbolism Behind Dumbledore and Hagrid’s Names

Pottermore Logo (GalleyCat)Five new essays were posted on the Pottermore website: “Alchemy,” “Vernon & Petunia,” “The Sword of Gryffindor,” “Extension Charms,” and “Hatstall.” Thanks to this new content, Harry Potter fans now know about the symbolism behind Albus Dumbledore and Rubeus Hagrid’s names.

SPOILER ALERT: If you don’t want to know more, you should stop reading now!

Entertainment Weekly reports that “Rubeus and Albus are derived from red and white, two colors that are traditionally associated with alchemy…Hagrid represents the red base metal, which is associated with warmth and wildness, while Dumbledore is more in line with gold and the color white, which is impressive and intellectual, but can also be detached.” Together, these two characters make-up the ideal father figure for The Boy Who Lived.

Throughout the year, J.K. Rowling has revealed several new details about the Harry Potter series (primarily through Twitter). Readers have been made aware of the existence of an American wizarding school, that Moaning Myrtle’s full name is Myrtle Elizabeth Warren, and that Fred Weasley’s death at the Battle of Hogwarts \"was the worst for\" the author. Do you have any other burning questions that you wish Rowling would answer? (via TIME.com)

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23. New Harry Potter Play to Open at London’s West End in 2016

rowlingBack in 2013, J.K. Rowling announced that she would be working on a Harry Potter-related play. Over on Twitter, the author announced that Harry Potter And The Cursed Child will open at London’s West End in Summer 2016.

BBC News reports that Rowling collaborated with Jack Thorne, a seasoned playwright, and John Tiffany, the director, to create this original story. She revealed that the tale being told in this theatrical production should not be considered a “prequel,” but it does feature an “untold part of Harry’s story.”

At this point in time, no announcements have been made as to who will play The Boy Who Lived. We’ve collected all Rowling’s tweets about this project in a Storify post embedded below—what do you think? (via BuzzFeed.com)

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24. Cover Revealed For New Brittany Cavallaro Book

Study in Charlotte (GalleyCat)

The cover has been unveiled for Brittany Cavallaro’s A Study in Charlotte. We’ve embedded the full image for the jacket design above—what do you think?

This story explores what a friendship between the progeny of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. John H. Watson. Click here to download free eBook editions of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s works about the original detective duo.

According to EpicReads.com, Katie C. Fitch served as the designer for this project. Katherine Tegen Books, an imprint at HarperCollins Children’s Books, has set the release date for March 1st.

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25. Elizabeth Gilbert Writes an Essay on Seduction

Elizabeth Gilbert Photo (GalleyCat)Elizabeth Gilbert has written an essay for entitled “Confessions of a Seduction Addict.” With this autobiographical piece, published in the New York Times, Gilbert recounts her past obsession with the act of seduction.

Gilbert even shares details on how this unhealthy habit played a role in the dissolution of her first marriage. That divorce, while painful, eventually lead Gilbert to embark on a journey chronicled in her mega-hit memoir, Eat, Pray, Love. Here’s an excerpt from the essay:

“Seduction is the art of coercing somebody to desire you, of orchestrating somebody else’s longings to suit your own hungry agenda. Seduction was never a casual sport for me; it was more like a heist, adrenalizing and urgent. I would plan the heist for months, scouting out the target, looking for unguarded entries. Then I would break into his deepest vault, steal all his emotional currency and spend it on myself.”

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