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1. Authors and Booksellers Seek Amazon Antitrust Inquiry

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2. Funding Increased for New York City’s 3 Library Systems

readeverywhereFor the past few months, the three library systems of New York City (the New York Public Library, the Queens Library, and the Brooklyn Public Library) have been pushing Mayor Bill de Blasio and the New York City Council for an increase in funding. The campaign has proved successful; a $43 million increase has been approved for the Fiscal Year 2016.

More than 150,000 New York library patrons sent in letters to support this cause. Several authors and celebrities also joined in this fight including Newbery Medal winner Neil Gaiman, In the Unlikely Event novelist Judy Blume, Pulitzer Prize winner Junot Díaz, ballet dancer Mikhail Baryshnikov, Oscar-nominated actor Ethan Hawke, and Grammy-winning musician John Legend.

According to the press release, this budget increase “will allow for citywide six-day branch service, as well as an increase in hours and programming seats, more expert library staff, and more. The budget — adopted today — also includes a capital allocation of at least $300 million to libraries over 10 years, which will go towards improving, renovating, modernizing, and repairing library facilities across the city. This is the first time libraries have received such a large, long-term investment, allowing them to adequately plan for the future.”

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3. Judy Blume and Stephen King Debut on the Indie Bestseller List

In the Unlikely Event Cover (GalleyCat)We’ve collected the books debuting on Indiebound’s Indie Bestseller List for the week ending June 07, 2015–a sneak peek at the books everybody will be talking about next month.

(Debuted at #3 in Hardcover Fiction) In the Unlikely Event by Judy Blume: “In 1987, Miri Ammerman returns to her hometown of Elizabeth, New Jersey, to attend a commemoration of the worst year of her life. Thirty-five years earlier, when Miri was fifteen, and in love for the first time, a succession of airplanes fell from the sky, leaving a community reeling.” (June 2015)

(Debuted at #4 in Hardcover Fiction) Finders Keepers by Stephen King: “The genius is John Rothstein, an iconic author who created a famous character, Jimmy Gold, but who hasn’t published a book for decades. Morris Bellamy is livid, not just because Rothstein has stopped providing books, but because the nonconformist Jimmy Gold has sold out for a career in advertising.” (June 2015)

(Debuted at #8 in Hardcover Nonfiction) Gumption by Nick Offerman: “To millions of people, Nick Offerman is America. Both Nick and his character, Ron Swanson, are known for their humor and patriotism in equal measure.” (May 2015)

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4. Celebrities and Authors Sign a Letter to Advocate For New York’s Libraries

NYPL 42nd StA group of high-profile celebrities and authors have come together to advocate for the library systems of New York. Each participant has signed their name to a letter calling on Mayor Bill de Blasio and city council members to increase the funding for the New York Public Library, the Brooklyn Public Library, and the Queens Library.

Some of the entertainers who took part include ballet dancer Mikhail Baryshnikov, Oscar-nominated actor Ethan Hawke, and Grammy-winning musician John Legend. Some of the writers who took part include Newbery Medal winner Neil Gaiman, In the Unlikely Event novelist Judy Blume, Pulitzer Prize winner Junot Díaz, Nobel Prize winner Toni Morrison, and historian Stacy Schiff.

Here’s an excerpt: “New York City’s libraries offer inspiring programs, welcoming staff, and safe spaces for people of all ages, as well as free access to technology and, of course, millions of books. Libraries are the great equalizers…Now is the time to restore $65 million in operating funding for libraries, and to invest $1.4 billion in capital funding over the next decade to repair and renovate our 217 neighborhood branches. It’s time for New York City to Invest in Libraries.”

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5. Judy Blume: ‘You Just Have to be Alone With Your Characters.’

Blume & Bee (GalleyCat)Last night, beloved author Judy Blume appeared at the 92Y to discuss her new book In the Unlikely Event. Comedian Samantha Bee served as the moderator.

Early on in the conversation, Bee asked Blume if she writes with “a vision or intention” for her readers. Blume answered: “For me, I can’t think about an audience…that would paralyze me. You just have to be alone with your characters.” As the evening went on, Blume continued to share advice on writing.

According to Blume, her mind can be a “messy” place which is why her first drafts tend to be “a mess.” As she was working on the Summer Sisters book, she formed a habit of organizing each draft in individual three-ring binders. She also emphasized that all writers must “read” because all writers start off as “readers first.” What do you think? (Photo Credit: Joyce Culver)

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6. Judy Blume on Writing Her New Book

In the Unlikely Event Cover (GalleyCat)In June, Alfred A. Knopf will release Judy Blume’s new adult fiction book In the Unlikely Event. The story came to Blume from an event back in the 1950’s where three plane crashes descended on her hometown of Elizabeth, N.J. within a two-month period.

Usually, Blume relies much more on life experiences to inspire her storytelling. For this project, she elected to try a different creative process and conducted extensive research to inform her writing.

Here’s more from The New York Times: “She spent hours at the Key West library, going through Microfilm in a room so dusty she wore a surgical mask, until her husband bought her a Microfilm machine on eBay to use at home. As she started writing, she lavishly layered in the historical details that define the small, specific universe of the book: the names of the department stores in Elizabeth where each person would have shopped, the songs and jingles that ran through their minds, the way young women stored their angora sweaters in the freezer to keep them from shedding. Her characters’ lives, and how the crashes changed them, started to take shape in her mind.”

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7. Junot Díaz Advocates for the New York Public Library

junotdiaz304Junot Díaz has become an advocate for the New York Public Library. The Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist credits libraries for helping him grow and develop into a creative professional.

Here’s an excerpt from Díaz’s letter: “Libraries are one of the greatest American institutions — they are not only treasure houses of knowledge, they are also fiercely democratic spaces. It kills me that New York City — the home of one of the greatest library systems in the world — has been under-funding libraries for over a decade. This has to stop.”

In recent years, the NYPL had to deal with a number of funding cuts; this is one of the factors that propelled Díaz to write a letter to library patrons urging them to contact New York City’s mayor and city council members. Fellow author Judy Blume also wrote a piece on behalf of the NYPL. Both Díaz and Blume hope to mobilize bibliophiles to fight for a budget increase.

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8. Judy Blume Advocates For The New York Public Library

judyblumeJudy Blume has decided to become an advocate for the New York Public Library. Blume considers librarians to be heroes and feels that this institution deserves more funding.

The Gothamist recently reported that several NYPL buildings seem to be suffering from great disrepair; this is one of the factors that propelled Blume to write a letter to library patrons urging them to contact New York City’s mayor and city council members. She hopes to mobilize bibliophiles to fight for a budget increase.

Here’s an excerpt from Blume’s letter: “As you probably know, I’ve never been one to accept the status quo. So join me in taking a stand. The City will release its executive budget soon — now’s our chance to go out and make it right. Send your letter to Mayor de Blasio and the City Council. Tell them, my heroes need their help.”

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9. Dan Ruffino to Join Simon & Schuster Australia

Simon & Schuster Image LogoDan Ruffino has been hired as the managing director of Simon & Schuster Australia. Ruffino will report to Ian Chapman, the chief executive of Simon & Schuster UK and International.

Ruffino has devoted more than 25 years to a career in publishing. Some of the authors he has worked with in the past include Jackie Collins, Ian Thorpe, Ken Follett, Marian Keyes, and Judy Blume.

Ruffino gave this statement in the press release: “I am thrilled to be given the opportunity to lead Simon & Schuster’s dynamic team in Australia and New Zealand. I am passionate about connecting writers with readers and look forward to working closely with my colleagues internationally and with local booksellers, authors and agents to continue to accelerate the growth of the business in Australia.”

New Career Opportunities Daily: The best jobs in media.

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10. Title & Release Date Revealed For New Judy Blume Adult Book

judyblumeJudy Blume has revealed the title and release date for her forthcoming adult novel. Alfred A. Knopf will release In the Unlikely Event on June 02, 2015.

BuzzFeed has posted the cover for this book—what do you think? People magazine reports that the book “focuses on an ensemble of family and friends across three generations.”

According to Blume’s website, the inspiration for this story comes from “a series of passenger airplanes crashed in Elizabeth, New Jersey within a three-month period in 1951–1952.” This real-life tragedy has inhabited a place in Blume’s mind since she was a teenager.

New Career Opportunities Daily: The best jobs in media.

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11. Judy Blume Inspires...

Judy Blume has more than 82 million copies of her books in print. Books like

Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret



Blubber



and

Just as Long as We're Together.


There's even a new movie out - based on her book - that she wrote the screenplay for: Tiger Eyes.



Judy gets a standing ovation as she takes the stage.

Every eye (and camera) on Judy Blume

Judy is full of joy and emotion and warmth.

She shares with us a few thoughts Tomie dePaola offered that resonated for her, like

Courage

When it came to Judy's writing, she never thought twice about it.

"I was brave in my writing in a way that I wasn't in my life."

Courage to create. Courage to imagine.


Judy speaks about the value of the safe space, the community SCBWI offers us all. She talks about Focus and Determination, and tells us stories...

She offers us some tweets she's designed for us, like this one

"Do not let anyone discourage you. If they try, get angry, not depressed."

Judy Blume has us laughing and thinking and feeling. And she tells us that while she was supposed to inspire us, being at this conference inspired her. She's fired up. And she's going to go home. And she's going to do it.

And we can, too.




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12. Fusenews: Hear the beat, of literary feet.

Hi ho.  Time to round-up what Jules and I have been up to over at our Wild Things blog (book promotion for bloggers means more blogging, you see).  Here’s the long and short of what you may have missed:

Whew!  We’re busy little bees, aren’t we?

  • Tra la!  It’s coming!  The greatest conference of children’s and YA literary bloggers is coming!  And Liz Burns not only has the info but also the reason such an event is cool.  Quoth she: “What I love about KidLitCon is it’s about the bloggers. Full stop. That is the primary purpose and mission of KidLitCon. It’s about what the bloggers care about. Oh, there may be authors and publishers there, presenting, and that can be great and amazing. But it’s not about them. They are there to support the blogging community: they are not there saying, what can the blogging community do for us.”  Amen, sister.  Preach!  By the way, the theme this year is Blogging Diversity in Young Adult and Children’s Lit: What’s Next?  Be there or be square.
  • So there’s a new Children’s Book Review Editor at the New York Times and by some strange quirk of fate her name is NOT alliterative (note Julie Just, Pamela Paul, and Sarah Smith).  Her name?  Maria Russo.  Which pretty much means I’ll be tracking her like a bloodhound at the next Eric Carle Honors event.  Trouble is, we don’t wear nametags at that event so I’ll probably be the crazy lady grabbing all the women, staring intently into their eyes.  Wouldn’t be the first time.

LewisTolkien 300x186 Fusenews: Hear the beat, of literary feet. I blame Saving Mr. Banks.  One little children’s writer biopic comes out where the writer isn’t seen as all kittens and sunshine (I still loathe you Miss Potter and Finding Neverland) and all hell breaks loose.  Now we hear that McG is going to do a Shel Silverstein biopic on the one hand and that there are plans to examine the relationship between C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien on the other.  I’m just counting the minutes until someone tackles Margaret Wise Brown or the whole Anne-Carroll-Moore-didn’t-like-Stuart-Little story (which you just KNOW is in the works somewhere).

  • Speaking of films, when I heard that Alan Snow’s delightful Here Be Monsters was being turned into a film called The Boxtrolls I was incredulous.  That book?  The one I couldn’t get kids to even look at until they made a blue paperback version?  I mean I liked it (it came out in a year when sentient cheese was all the rage in children’s literature) but how long was this film in production for crying out loud?  Doesn’t matter because according to iO9 it’s brilliant.  Good to know.
  • So Phil Nel, our ever intrepid professor with a hankering for children’s literature, went to ComicCon.  Best of all, he’s willing to report his findings to us (so that we don’t have to go!).  Read up on Part 1, Part 2 (my favorite for the cameo of Bananaman), Part 3, and Part 4.  Phil was there promoting his Barnaby books (which he co-edited with Eric Reynolds). These include Barnaby Volume One: 1942-1943 (2013) and Barnaby Volume Two: 1944-1945 (2014).
  • Did I know that Amanda Palmer wrote a song about what she owes to Judy Blume?  I do now.
  • This is what separates the true fangirls from the poseurs.  Thanks to the CBC for the link.
  • Two Little Free Libraries have sprung up near my home across the street from the Harlem branch of NYPL.  I couldn’t be more pleased because they mean just one thing to me . . . a place to give away my books!!!  Culling books is terribly enjoyable.  It’s also part of BookRiot’s incredibly useful post 8 Tips for Moving When You Have a Ton of Books.
  • Daily Image:

Two words. Bookish shoes.  My personal favorites include . . .

Little Prince Shoes Fusenews: Hear the beat, of literary feet.

Sherlock Shoes 500x335 Fusenews: Hear the beat, of literary feet.

Book Spine heels Fusenews: Hear the beat, of literary feet.

Remember, by the way, that my sister told you how to make some of these yourself.  Thanks to Mom for the link.

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13. Advice From Judy Blume? Martha Brockenbrough Gets That For Us, In This Pre-Conference Interview...

Here's the interview, where you can read Judy's advice on getting past the moments when she wanted to quit writing, and hear the best writing advice she ever got!


Thanks Judy, and thanks Martha!

While the 2014 SCBWI Summer Conference is sold out, make sure to check out this conference blog and our conference twitter feed (at #LA14SCBWI) for highlights and a tapas-like taste of all the inspiration, craft, business, opportunity and community!

Illustrate and Write On,
Lee

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14. Judy Blume to Pen New Book For Adults

Acclaimed writer Judy Blume has been working on a new novel for adults. According to Blume’s website, this “complicated story” takes place during the 1950′s.

The New York Times reports that Alfred A. Knopf has scheduled it for release in Summer 2015. Blume’s editor Carole Baron promises that this project is “pure Judy Blume, writing about family and about friendships, about love, about betrayal.”

Not too long ago, Blume teamed up with her son Lawrence to write the script for a movie adaptation of her young adult book Tiger Eyes. During a promotional event, Blume revealed that she had an unfinished manuscript she started back in 2009. Perhaps, she’s finally putting the finishing touches on that project and soon it will be unveiled to the world. (via The Guardian)

New Career Opportunities Daily: The best jobs in media.

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15. My Writing and Reading Life: Sarah Mlynowski

Sarah Mlynowski is the New York Times bestselling author of the Whatever After series as well as Gimme a Call, Don’t Even Think About It, Ten Things We Did (and Probably Shouldn’t Have), How to Be Bad (along with E. Lockhart and Lauren Myracle) and the Magic in Manhattan series. Originally from Montreal, Sarah now lives in the kingdom of Manhattan with her very own prince charming and their fairy-tale-loving daughters.

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16. Judy Blume Shares Her Breast Cancer Battle

Novelist Judy Blume published a long post today about her recent battle with breast cancer.

“Medical diagnoses can leave you feeling alone and scared,” wrote Blume, telling her story to help other women through the tough experience. In an honest and heartfelt diary, the author of Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret and Tiger Eyes told the story of her diagnosis and treatment. Here is an excerpt:

I have to thank Dr. S, the radiologist who’s been doing my mammograms for 20 years. If she hadn’t decided I should have a sonogram because of dense breast tissue we still wouldn’t know. This didn’t show up in a mammo or in physical exams, and I’m checked by doctors four times a year. Even the breast surgeon couldn’t feel this one. If you have dense breast tissue ask your radiologist about having a sonogram … As I’ve told my friends who’ve also been treated for breast cancer, I’ve joined The Club – not one I wanted to join or even thought I would ever be joining – but here I am. I’m part of this Sisterhood of the Traveling Breast Cells (apologies to Ann Brashares). Medical diagnoses can leave you feeling alone and scared. When it comes to breast cancer you’re not alone, and scary though it is, there’s a network of amazing women to help you through it. (Via Carolyn Kellogg)

New Career Opportunities Daily: The best jobs in media.

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17. Can You Answer “YES?” – Synopsis Questions

As many of you might know, our beloved Judy Blume was recently diagnosed with Breast Cancer.  She says she feels she is going to be okay, but she is scheduled to get a mastectomy, followed by breast reconstruction. You can read more details on Judy’s blog. http://www.judyblume.com/blog.php

I know everyone reading this blog will add Judy to their prayers.  Judy, we love you and truely hope all of this will be resolved soon and you back on your feet in short order.

Here are a few questions to ask yourself when reading a synopsis – Hint: Your answers should be YES.

  • Is there enough conflict to carry the story?
  • Are the main plot points included?
  • Was the ending reveal?
  • Were the character names capitalized when first introduced?
  • Does it avoid giving too much detail?
  • Are characters’ goals/motivations/conflicts clear?
  • Does the feel of the story (humorous, suspenseful, etc.) come through in the synopsis?
  • Did it get the above done in 1 single space page to 2 double space pages?

Tip from Chuck Sambuchino over at Writer’s Unboxed says, “Take more care and time if you’re writing genre fiction. Synopses are especially difficult to compose if you’re writing character-driven (i.e., literary) fiction, because they may not be a whole lot of plot in the book. Agents and editors understand this, and put little (or no) weight into a synopsis for literary or character-driven stories. However, if you’re writing genre fiction — specifically categories like romance, fantasy, thriller, mystery, horror or science fiction — agents will quickly want to look over your characters and plot points to make sure your book has a clear beginning, middle and end, as well as some unique aspects they haven’t seen before in a story. So if you’re getting ready to submit a genre story, don’t blow through your synopsis; it’s important.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: Advice, authors and illustrators, News, Process, reference, Tips Tagged: Evaluating a Synopsis, Judy Blume, Synopsis Questions

7 Comments on Can You Answer “YES?” – Synopsis Questions, last added: 9/8/2012
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18. Fusenews: Paddington V. Pooh (supporters could call themselves marmalites and hunnies)

You folks have been awfully good about my recent shoddy blogging, so I tip my hat in your general direction.  Jules of 7-Imp and I are putting the final touches on our book for Candlewick editing-wise and, as you might imagine, it eats up large swaths of time like an irate and hungry badger.  There is no situation in which a badger cannot be used as an example.  True fact.

In other news, there’s an author/illustrator out there that I happen to like very much.  His name is Aaron Zenz and over the years he has startled me time and again with the relative brilliance of his creativity.  If he wasn’t making multiple inspired pieces for the Re-Seussification Project then his kids were contributing to the stellar Boogie Woogie blog.  Well, Aaron and Co. are some of my favorite folks so when I saw the Friends of Zenz page asking to help ‘em out in the midst of some pretty upsetting surgery, you can bet I jumped on board.  If you’ve a minute, you can too.  They’re swell folks.

So I got to meet J.K. Rowling the other day.  Yup.  The woman who basically set me on the path of children’s librarianship in the first place via her books and I up and met her.  You see the good Dan Blank had tickets and one of those tickets happened to have my name on it.  So I got to see her speak with Ann Patchett about this adult novel of hers The Casual Vacancy (a title I’m certain she stole from the notes of Lemony Snicket) and then I stood in a long line and got my copy signed.  The conversation between us is as follows:

J.K. Rowling: Thanks for coming.

Betsy Bird:  Guh.

Many thanks to Dan for the opportunity.  He’s blogged about the experience here and just so you writer folks know, he’s doing another session of his author platform course starting Oct 31, with a free webinar. The course features Jane Friedman, Richard Nash, Colleen Lindsay, Kathleen Schmidt, Joanna Penn and Jeff Goins as guest speakers.  Info on the session is here and the webinar is here.

COMIC LEGEND: There was a Winnie the Pooh comic strip where the characters acted a lot more aggressively than most Winnie the Pooh fans are used to.

STATUS: True”

Thus we find the strangest and maybe most engaging link of the day.  Apparently there was a Winnie-the-Pooh syndicated comic strip out there for a while that contained the Disneyfied Pooh and friends.  And apparently it was written by some seriously odd souls.  How else to explain some of these downright weird inclusions?  Comic Book Legends Revealed explains more (you’ll have to scroll down a little but they’re worth finding).  This one’s my favorite:

Wowzah.

And speaking of bears . . . how do you get kids interested in the political process?  Have ‘em vote for bears, of course!  The West Linn Public Library had an inspired idea.  They’re holding a bear election through election day on November 6 and, as they explained it to me:

“inviting kids (and adults) to vote for their favorite bear from children’s literature: Pooh, Paddington, Mama Berenstain, or Corduroy. We have also gotten staff involved by asking them to volunteer to be bear campaign managers. The response from staff and patrons has been tremendous! Our campaign managers have embraced their roles beyond my wildest dreams by designing posters, stickers, bookmarks, and games to support their bear.We are having so much fun that I thought I would share with other libraries. I have even created a campaign video for my candidate, Mama Bear—here is that link: http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=vb.153513568034372&type=2“  Love it!  I suppose I’m a staunch Pooh supporter thanks to my job, but it’s tough.  Paddington comes in at a close second in my heart.

Okay, let’s do the Me Stuff all in one fell swoop today.  First off, I made a reading list for NYC’s New Victory Theater to accompany their upcoming shows.  Check it out here.  I never properly thanked Miss Kathleen at Mental Floss for including me in the 24 Library-Centric Sites We Love round-up, to say nothing of the compliments regarding my video with Travis Jonker. Thanks to Maureen Petry for the links!  I’m speaking at a Joan Aiken event tonight so enjoy this piece written by Lizza Aiken, Joan’s daughter, entitled Voices: The magical mysteries of children’s literature.  I was interviewed at the blog The Children’s Book Review as part of their ongoing librarian series.  And the Children’s Media Association blog gave me what could well be the most flattering spotlight I’ve received in my long internet life. Whew!

There was a Bibliography-Off between Judy Blume and one of my favorite comics Patton Oswalt not long ago.  As Jezebel described it, “The only thing that could really be better than this (for a Sunday, anyway) is if Calvin and Hobbes were real and they spoke at a TED Talk about the vividness of a small child’s imagination.” I just wish S.E. Hinton had heeded Patton’s call to give him a hand.  She’s on Twitter all the time, y’know.  Thanks to Marjorie Ingall for the link!

Maybe you can’t see Phil Nel speaking in my library tomorrow about Crockett Johnson.  If not, here’s the next best thing.

All right.  Enough with the books.  Let’s look at some up-to-date movie news directly from Cynopsis Kids.  First up:

Nickelodeon begins production this month on its new original comedy/caper TV movie, Swindle, which will star a bevy of the network’s stars including Jennette McCurdy (iCarly), Noah Crawford (How to Rock, You Gotta See This), Noah Munck (iCarly), Ariana Grande (Victorious), Chris O’Neal (How to Rock, You Gotta See This) and Ciara Bravo (Big Time Rush). Based on the popular kids book of the same name by Gordon Korman, the movie will be shot in Vancouver Canada. The movie is set to begin airing in 2014 on Nickelodeon’s 40+ international channels across Europe, Latin America, Asia and Australia. The story begins when an evil collector cons Griffin (Crawford) out of a million dollar baseball card that could have saved his best friend’s (O’Neal) home, he teams a ragtag group of his classmates (Grande, McCurdy, Munck and Bravo) to take down the swindler. Directed by Jonathan Judge (Big Time Rush, Fred 3), Swindle is written by Bill Motz (Brandy & Mr. Whiskers) & Bob Roth (Lion King 2), Eric Freiser (Road to Ruin) and Adam Rifkin (Small Soliders, Mousehunt). Marjorie Cohn (Big Time Movie, Rags), Lauren Levine (Bridge to Terabithia, Best Player), Loris Lunsford, Karen Glass and Paul Barry serve as executive producers. Scott McAboy’s Pacific Bay Entertainment is producing.”

Second up:

“Toronto-based Radical Sheep Productions (Stella and Sam, Yub Yubs, The Big Comfy Couch) acquires the rights to the graphic novel series Fangbone! Third-Grade Barbarian, by author/illustrator Michael Rex (Goodnight Goon, The Runaway Mummy). Under the deal Radical Sheep will develop a K6-11 aimed animated series based on Fangbone! The story revolves around Fangbone, a nine-year-old barbarian warrior from Skullbania who winds up in third grade at Eastwood Elementary in order to save his native land from the evildoer Venomous Drool. With the help of his new pal Bill, a lovable, average, goofy kid, Fangbone outwits his enemies while discovering the modern world.”

Sometimes the title sells it alone: Children’s Author Illustrator Elisha Cooper Gives Lecture on “Inappropriate” Children’s Books.

New Blog Alert: The election’s coming up and everyone’s getting ready.  With that in mind, did you know that there’s a blog out there solely dedicated to talking about political children’s books?  Kid Lit About Politics it’s called.  One for the radar.

New Blog Alert II: For that matter did you know there was a mother-son blog out there (adult mother and son!) called crossreferencing: a hereditary blog?  Yep.  There you can find Sarah and Mark Flowers as they, “discuss YA Literature and Librarianship from our dual perspectives.”  It’s pretty cool.

New Blog Alert III: Tis the season.  This third new blog is actual that of The Junior Library Guild called Shelf Life.  It’s currently doing a wonderful job of discussing current issues and hot books.  Of particular note is the post Save [Books of Wonder] and Save Your Soul.  Couldn’t have put it better myself.

Have you ever watched the movie Matilda and thought to yourself, Whatever happened to child actress Mara Wilson?  Thank god for the internet, eh?  Thanks to Brita for the link.

On a serious note there is a lovely memory of Peter Sieruta up at the blog Archives and Special Collections.  It happens to include what may be the first picture of Peter to ever make it to the world wide web.  God, I miss that guy.

The Onion’s A.V. Club has been a bit lazy in their looks at children’s and YA literature but this recent post on 2012 graphic novels is well worth reading. Many thanks to Eric Carpenter for the link!

Daily Image:

Just knowing that Gabi Swiatkowska has a blog where she displays art like the pieces below is enough to make my life complete.

Thanks to Jane Curley for the link.

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19. Readers & Writers Celebrate Judy Blume’s Birthday

The National Coalition Against Censorship (NCAC) has collected birthday wishes for the legendary author, Judy Blume.

The Giver author Lois Lowry, former National Ambassador of Young People’s Literature Jon Scieszka and Internet Girls series writer Lauren Myracle all contributed messages.

Scieszka and Myracle shared photos of themselves posing with Blume. Read all the messages on the NCAC blog.

continued…

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20. Fusenews: Though wouldn’t you rather read “Bertie & Psmith”?

NewRamona 200x300 Fusenews: Though wouldnt you rather read Bertie & Psmith?Before we begin I would like to have a few words with the publishers on behalf of catalogers nationwide.

Ahem.

Hi, guys.  How’s it going?  Heckuva weird weather we’ve had lately, right?  Yeah . . . so . . . here’s the thing.  You know how you’ve been rereleasing a couple classic children’s books recently like Slake’s Limbo and all the Ramona Quimby books?  That is just awesome of you.  Seriously, new covers were desperately needed.  But, you’re kind of doing this weird thing that’s messing everything up.  See, for some reason you’re changing the covers but you’re keeping the old ISBNs.  And we wouldn’t really mind if it was just the jackets you were changing, but in the case of the Ramona books you have new interior illustrations.  This is a HUGE disservice, not only to libraries, but to your new illustrator, Ms. Jacqueline Rogers.  If you keep the same ISBN then in records across the country previous illustrators will be listed in the system.  Not Ms. Rogers.  So, I know we’re supposedly going to go through some crazy crisis where we run out of all the ISBNs, but do a gal a favor and change the ISBNs on rereleases if you have new interior art (or, also in the case of Ramona, new pagination).  It just makes good clean sense.

Okay!  Moving on.

  • If I say that Travis Jonker fellow at 100 Scope Notes is a nice guy I’m not exactly telling you anything you don’t already know.  But how nice is he?  Well, in his awesome 10 to Note: Spring Preview 2013 do you know what book he led with?  MINE!! I’m thrilled and flabbergasted all at once.  Ye gods!  I hit the big time, folks!  Now I just need to get my hands on that cool looking Lauren Myracle early chapter book and that new Charise Mericle Harper graphic novel.  Woot!
  • You know you’re cool when the National Coalition Against Censorship collects cool birthday wishes for you.  You’re even cooler if those birthday wishes come from folks like Jon Scieszka, Lois Lowry, and the aforementioned Lauren Myracle.  And if you happen to be Judy Blume?  Icing on the cake, baby.
  • On the one hand, it’s awfully interesting to hear folks speculating on what really made Mary Ingalls blind.  On the other hand  . . . . NBC News linked to me, linked to me, linked to me me me!
  • In case you happened to missed it, I hosted a helluva Literary Salon the other day.  Yup.  Jeanne Birdsall, Adam Gidwitz, N.D. Wilson, and Rebecca Stead all gave up their precious time to stop by old NYPL for a Children’s Literary Salon where they debated why pop culture at large tries to label middle grade fiction as YA.  The whole conversation was, for the very first time, recorded for posterity.  That’s the good news.  The bad news is that the audio feed is lousy.  Not sure what I did but it’s a bit mucked up.  Clear enough that you could make a transcript from it (casts meaningful looks into the nethersphere) but not so clear that you could actually enjoy listening to it.  A little later in the podcast some folks stop speaking into mics.  That actually helps.  Rear in Gear reports on how it went from  the frontlines.  By the way, the title “Why YA” is a good one.  I might shorten it to Y.YA, then proclaim that to be the newest bestest trend without explanation.  Cause that’s how I roll.
  • Speaking of my Children’s Literary Salons, I’ve one in early March on the topic of Diversity and the State of the Children’s Book that will prove to be most fascinating (and better recorded, I hope).  Much along the same lines is a truly fascinating post over at Ms. Yingling Reads.  The post concerns those book jackets that do not reflect the ethnicity of the characters within, but brings up a very interesting p.o.v. from that of the smaller publisher reliant on stock images.  This post is your required reading of the day.  Many many thanks to Carl in Charlotte for the heads up.
  • The post on 10 Fictional Libraries I’d Love to Visit is a lot of fun, but I would add the library featured in Neil Gaiman’s Sandman books most certainly.  That would be the library that contains every book conceived of but never published by the world’s greatest writers.  The in-jokes alone are worth it.  Who doesn’t love Psmith and Jeeves?

SandmanLibrary Fusenews: Though wouldnt you rather read Bertie & Psmith?

Thanks to AL Direct for the link.

  • Nerd that I am, I cannot help but be thrilled that the Bologna Book Fair has just established a new prize for the Best Children’s Publisher of the Year.  What a fantastic idea, and why has no one else come up with it before?  Now THAT is something I can get behind.  Boy, yeah.
  • Flavorwire’s Conspiracy Theories About Classic Literary Characters doesn’t tell you a lot you haven’t already heard about your classic books (Nick Carraway = gay, Holden Caulfield = gay, yadda yadda yadda) but there are some fun exceptions on the children’s literature side.  I think I’ve heard the Winnie-the-Pooh theory before, and I certainly heard the Harry Potter one (Rowling herself even addressed it) but the Wizard of Oz one is actually entirely a new one on me.  Huh! Thanks to Annie Cardi for the link.
  • I like it when authors reveal the covers of their upcoming books.  I especially like it when those authors are folks I’ve heard of before and have enjoyed thoroughly.  I met Matthew Kirby (The Clockwork Three, Icefall) at a SCBWI event recently and now I find out that he has revealed his latest title The Lost Kingdom.  Yep.  I’ll be reading that one.
  • The other day I spoke on a panel for some young publishers about the library’s role in the pursuit of Common Core.  I was on that panel with Scottie Bowditch of Penguin and John Mason of Scholastic.  After the fact I learned that Scholastic has been working to get their hands on all this Common Core schtuf by creating the site Common Sense for the Common Core.  It was created to help parents through this tricky time, but no doubt we librarians would benefit a tad as well.  FYI!
  • You may have heard that tornadoes recently ripped through Mississippi on Sunday causing untold devastation in their wake.  They hit in a number of places, including Hattiesburg, Mississippi.  Why do I mention this?  Well, are you aware what resides in Hattiesburg?  That would be the University of Southern Mississippi.  And what is the University of Southern Mississippi home to?  If you answered that it was the de Grummond Collection “one of North America’s leading research centers in the field of children’s literature” you would also be correct.  So did the collection survive the storms?  We are happy to report that they did.  And on the de Grummond’s Twitter feed they assured everyone that they were safe and sound.  Whew!
  • Look me in the eye.  Right here!  Right in my beady little eye and tell me that this is not the smartest use of The Pigeon you’ve seen in a long long time.  The crazy thing?  I thought they melded together a bunch of different Pigeon books.  Not true!  Instead, all these panels come from The Pigeon Wants a Puppy.

PigeonHamlet Fusenews: Though wouldnt you rather read Bertie & Psmith?

  • Remember when NPR started that program they called NPR’s Backseat Book Club?  They said they would pick a new book for kids every month and discuss them.  Well, the whole “every month” part of that plan has been spotty and the selections have been even spottier.  Seems to me NPR isn’t taking full advantage of the field.  I mean, Black Beauty and Wimpy Kid?  Is that the best you can do?  Fortunately it looks like they’ll crank things up a notch when they discuss Gary Schmidt’s Okay for Now.  In fact, kids are encouraged to submit some questions to the author ahead of time.  Got yourself some kids?  Then go to it!
  • Speaking of kids submitting stuff, you may have heard that YA author Ned Vizzini is getting into the middle grade fiction arena.  He isn’t doing it alone, though.  Director Chris Columbus is penning House of Secrets with him.  Aside from the fact that the book has an honest-to-god blurb from J.K. Rowling on it (no blurb whore she) kids can get a copy by tweeting Ned their “secrets”.  You can see some examples here.  Love the kid who used to eat chocolate dog biscuits. That one I believe.
  • Would you like $1000?  Sure.  We all would.  But to be a bit more specific, would you like $1000 for your program that uses, “children’s literature as a way to promote international understanding”?  Well then are you in luck!  USBBY would sure like to give you some cash.  Say they, “Schools, libraries, scout troops, clubs and bookstores are all eligible for this award. Does your school or library program or do you know of another organization that “promotes reading as a way to expand a child’s world”? To learn more about the award, view information about past winners and award criteria and access the downloadable application form, please link to: http://www.usbby.org/list_b2u.html
  • Done and done.I wasn’t particularly aggrieved by the Anne of Green Gables brou-de-haha going on about that random cover someone created.  In fact, a commenter at ShelfTalker with my name (not me, alas) basically summarized my thoughts on the matter brilliantly when she said, “Folks, you are getting all upset because you MISUNDERSTAND the situation. This is NOT a ‘PUBLISHER’ with a marketing dept. This is a public domain book that some RANDOM PERSON is selling. You could do the same thing. PUBLIC DOMAIN – it means anyone can do anything with it. Here is a list of public domain books: http://www.feedbooks.com/publicdomain. If you want, you yourself could publish, say, Les Miserables by Victor Hugo with a photo on the cover of Governor Chris Christie eating a donut. (If you had the rights to the donut picture of course.)”  Which was all well and good . . . but I truly have to tip my hat to Donytop5 who simply replied, “Here Betsy, I found it! http://wolverinesss.tumblr.com/image/42556986881“  That made my day, right there.
  • Apparently there’s a competitor to Goodreads out there and it’s calling itself Bookish.  It’s not really the same thing as Goodreads, mind you, since it’s publisher driven through and through.  Says Media Decoder, “Instead of relying essentially on the taste of other customers with similar preferences, as most recommendation engines do, Bookish’s tool takes into account critical reviews and awards.”  Curious, I decided to see what they had in the realm of children’s literature.  It’s interesting.  Not a ton of content yet, but their recommendations aren’t shabby.  Worth eyeing warily for a while.
  • Daily Image:

Someday I will be very rich and I will create a children’s library of my very own.  When I do, I will allow one or two walls to be like this:

WallArt1 Fusenews: Though wouldnt you rather read Bertie & Psmith?

Fortunately if that looks cool to you, you don’t have to wait.  Just head on over to the Indianapolis Museum of Contemporary Art and have your fun.  Thanks to Swiss Miss for the link!

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21. Revisiting the YA Books of My Past


Recently, I’ve taken to browsing through the book sections of my favorite thrift and consignment stores. Quite often, I find copies of bestsellers in both paperback and hardcover that I wouldn’t mind purchasing for my home library, but those aren’t exactly what I’m looking for. In the past year, I’ve revisited a love of writing and reading children’s literature, and part of that rediscovery includes searching for copies of the books I read and loved as a teenager.

My journey started when my daughter started reading more advanced middle-grade books, and it hit me that I could probably write one of my own with a little research. I began scanning the juvenile fiction shelves at the library, where I picked up the vaguely familiar Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson. After spending a tear-filled afternoon reading it, I was hooked. I whooped with joy when I found a used copy of Are You There God, It’s Me Margaret? by Judy Blume at the local Habitat for Humanity ReStore. (I hid that one away for now, as my 9-year-old daughter is not quite ready for the subject matter yet!) It even had the same cover I remember from reading it as a child. I posted a photo of my find on Facebook and it sparked many comments from girlfriends, who all had a personal connection with the book. The first e-book I bought on my new Kindle a few weeks ago was Daughters of Eve, written by one of my all-time favorite authors, Lois Duncan. Daughters of Eve was one of the only books of Duncan’s I had never read, and I was surprised to find out that it had been updated to have a more modern feel, as have many books in her catalogue of titles.

When I was a teenager, I had stacks of paperback books by both Duncan and Christopher Pike, my two favorite suspense YA authors, along with a weathered complete collection of the Trixie Belden mystery series that my grandmother discovered in storage and gave to me. I carried them all with me for years, but somewhere along my many moves they were lost. It makes me sad to think that I probably donated them, not knowing how much I would want them back one day as I pursued my dream to become a published novelist.

I’m not sure why I’ve been feeling such a sense of nostalgia regarding these lost books lately. It might be because I first dreamed of becoming a writer while reading those treasured books, and after their loss, I spent many years thinking that becoming published wasn’t in the cards for me. Now that I’m finding success as a writer, the memory of all those stories continues to provide me with hope and inspiration, so I’ll keep looking for my old favorites in secondhand bookstores every chance I get.

Who were some of your favorite young adult authors?

Renee Roberson is an award-winning freelance writer and editor who blogs at Renee's Pages.

8 Comments on Revisiting the YA Books of My Past, last added: 4/8/2013
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22. Fusenews: I had a little list, the prettiest ever seen

  • 100GreatNYPL Fusenews: I had a little list, the prettiest ever seenOh, so very much has gone on this week!  Where to begin?  What to do?  Well, for starters, NYPL released a handy dandy list to accompany their current exhibit The ABC of It: Why Children’s Books Matter.  I helped make said list, which is officially called 100 Great Children’s Books, 100 Years.  So, two things.  #1: We didn’t say “best” or “most popular”.  We just said great.  These are great books.  Hard to argue with that.  And #2: It’s just the stuff published in the last 100 years.  So before you get your knickers in a twist, there is a reason The Secret Garden, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, and Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland are nowhere in sight.  NYPL even lets you buy the books in little packages by age level or the whole kerschmozzle at one time.  Groovy.
  • In conjunction with the exhibit and the list, the library brought over Judy Blume and Eric Carle.  So, naturally, when a photograph was to be taken I wedged myself between the two of them.  I intend to blow it up, crop it, and then in fifty years claim to my grandchildren that we were all bestest buddies and this was taken mere moments before we stepped out for some pie.

CarleBlumeBird 500x333 Fusenews: I had a little list, the prettiest ever seen

  • And now, on the depressing side of things, Gary Soto explains why I haven’t seen a new children’s title come out of him since I got my library degree.  I just completely missed that entire Marisol debacle.  In 2005 I was a newly minted librarian.  Seems a bit unfair that I just missed the output of Soto.  So come on, man!  That was basically a decade ago.  Time to do with the typey type.
  • More with the me stuff.  Rob Smith was kind enough to interview me for his podcast The Interactive Teacher.  Now the podcast is up and running and you can hear me yammer from here to Sunday, should you chose to do so.  If you follow this link you’ll find that the written recap isn’t strictly what I’ve said, but it comes close.  Thanks for chatting with me, Rob!  Good stuff.
  • I don’t care that it’s YA. I think I’m still going to have to read this when galleys become available. If only because the last name of the heroine is Gumm. Cute.
  • I know Banned Books Week is over but I just wanna say one thing.  Anything that uses rollergirls can only be a force for good.  In my next life, I’m coming back as one of them.  I ain’t kidding.
  • Note to Self: Create place on website where you can include amazing examples of programs that folks have done in conjunction with Giant Dance Party.  Today’s example, Ms. Helen N. Hill and the AMAZING ideas she came up with after reading my book.  This completely and utterly rocks.  Thank you, Helen!!!
  • Speaking of GDP, do you happen to live in NJ?  Anywhere near Montclair?  Wanna see me dance like a fool and read my book?  Watchung Booksellers is hosting l’il ole me this coming Saturday morning at 10:30.  Please come!
  • Do you instead live on the other side of the country entirely?  Say, around the San Francisco area?  Then why don’t you consider heading on over to Booksmith on Saturday, October 20th at 2 p.m.?  Apparently Julie Downing (Spooky Friends) and Lisa Brown (Vampire Boy’s Good Night) will come together to tell Halloween stories and draw pictures of the kids that attend in costume.  Now there’s an offer you can’t refuse.
  • Daily Image:

Haven’t a clue where my Aunt Judy found this or even who it’s by.  All I know is I love it.

Book Waterfall Fusenews: I had a little list, the prettiest ever seen

I want to go to there.

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23. Video Sunday: Robot, heck. You should see my krumping.

All right.  Me stuff off the bat.  I was recently asked to moderate a panel of authors for the Children’s Media Association.  The panel consisted of Ame Dyckman, Joanne Levy, Katherine Longshore, Elisa Ludwig, Lynda Mullaly Hunt, and Sarvenaz Tash.  During the course of the evening it was suggested that we perform a Giant Dance party.  Joanne was kind enough to edit the footage and the results . . . well, here you go.  I’m the one in the middle, for the record.

Goof-tastic!

In other news, NYPL recently turned my Children’s Literary Salon that featured Leonard Marcus talking about the current NYPL exhibit The ABC of It: Why Children’s Books Matter as interviewed by Jenny Brown into a Google+ Hangout.  Here is the gist of it.  You’ll probably want to start watching after the 5 minute mark.  Unless you like watching empty chairs.  In which case, go crazy.

It’s worth it for the info on the ivory umbrella handle info alone.

And since I’m on a roll with the NYPL events, any interest in hearing Leonard Marcus interview Judy Blume and Eric Carle at the same time?  Hit the 9:50 mark on this l’il ole video and it’s all yours.

Okay.  Now it’s time to acknowledge that Halloween is nigh.  Scaredy Squirrel created a PSA / book trailer.  Pretty good, though I’m amused that Scaredy is still drilling home the fear of apples.  In the history of man I’m pretty darn sure no one ever actually put a razorblade in a fruit.  That was a myth.  Ah well.  Scaredy wouldn’t care.  It’s still a potential threat.

In other book trailer news, this one’s pretty cute.  Let’s hear it for effective Flash animation paired with music that bloody gets caught in your brain.

And speaking of earworm music . . .

Everything Goes: By Sea (animated trailer) from Brian Biggs on Vimeo.

And for our off-topic video of the day, technically this is a GIF and not a video but I figure if it moves and slows down my computer’s operating system, that’s close enough for me.  Et voila:

BabyNames Video Sunday: Robot, heck. You should see my krumping.

 

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3 Comments on Video Sunday: Robot, heck. You should see my krumping., last added: 10/22/2013
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24. Judy Blume Says Parents Worry Too Much

Veteran YA author Judy Blume said that parents spend too much time worrying about what their kids are reading, at the Hay Festival in the UK this past weekend. In her opinion, kids "self-censor" and won't read any content that the don't get. The Telegraph UK has more: If the content was unsuitable, she argued, children would simply tire of it or let it wash over their heads without understanding.... she said the experience of having her own books banned in the Eighties was "alarming", leaving her feeling "very alone". Her novels, which confront issues of teenage sex, racism, divorce, bullying, puberty and masturbation, were considered shocking at the time, and are remembered by a generation of women for teaching them the facts of life.

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25. Powell’s Q&A: Joanna Rakoff

Describe your latest book. My Salinger Year is a memoir about my sojourn as the assistant to J. D. Salinger's agent, a job that involved answering his fan mail, typing letters on an ancient IBM Selectric, mastering an archaic device known as a Dictaphone, and generally coping — or trying to decipher — the odd, [...]

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