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1. Call for Entries: second Society of Illustrators Comic and Cartoon Art Competition

SOI 2015CFE Call for Entries: second Society of Illustrators Comic and Cartoon Art Competition

Last year the Society of Illustrators inaugurated a comics art competition similar to the one for illustrators they’ve been running for many years. (Disclosure: I was a judge.)  The Comics and Cartoon Art Annual offered a printed guide to the best comics of the year in a succinct form. The competition is back in 2015, chaired by Steven Guarnaccia, with Co-Chair: R. Sikoryak. The above art is by Bendik Kaltenborn. I had a great time with my fellow judged and absorbing a great many new cartoonists and established one in a new guise. I’m sure this year will be an even better compeition. Entry guidelines are below. Last year’s winners are here. 


The Society of Illustrators is proud to announce the second annual Comic and Cartoon Art Competition.
Open to artists worldwide, entries are considered by a jury of professionals, including renowned cartoonists, illustrators, publishers, and editors. The competition will result in an exhibition that will showcase the most outstanding works created in this genre throughout each year.

The original works will be exhibited in the MoCCA Gallery at the Society of Illustrators from June 16 through August 15th, 2015.

Opening Award Galas will be scheduled where Medals and Certificates will be presented to the artists whose works are judged best in each category.

All accepted entries will be reproduced in a full color catalog.

A selection of 40 works from each Exhibition will then tour colleges throughout the country in an educational traveling show, a tradition that we have had at the Society for over 30 years.


Long Form: A work that is longer than 40 pages. Includes graphic novels, comic books, etc. An anthology is eligible in this category if it is created by one person, and the individual stories form a cohesive whole. If stories should be judged independently, please submit an entry form per person.

Short Form: A work that is more than two pages but shorter than 40 pages. Includes stand-alone work, zines, comic books and work that has been published in anthologies. Work appearing in anthologies may be entered in this category if the individual story is shorter than 40 pages. If stories should be judged independently please submit an entry form per story.

Special Format: Work that is design-driven and created with special attention to production values, including limited edition, small press, hand-made and artist’s books.

Digital Media: Work that is native to a digital format. Includes web comics, online comic strips, and other digitally driven works. Up to 20 images accepted per entry.

Comic Strip: A short-form work published in newspapers, magazines, books, online, etc. featuring four or more panels. Must be one page or less.

Single Image: Work featuring a self-contained narrative image with or without caption. Includes gag cartoons, political cartoons, single-panel cartoons, etc.



Eligibility: Any book that was created from January 2014 – January 2015. Both published or self-published are accepted. International entries are welcome. Each submission will receive consideration by every member of the jury for its category.

How to enter: Mail 6 copies of the publication to the Society of Illustrators: 128 East 63 Street, New York, NY, 10065. Attn: Comic and Cartoon Art Competition. Must include the official entry form with each copy.

DEADLINE: Monday, January 5, 2015.

Entry Fees For Book Submissions:
$30 per entry (includes all six copies) for non-members of the Society of Illustrators.
$20 per entry (includes all six copies) for members of the Society of Illustrators.
Include a check with the entry. Checks made out to Society of Illustrators.


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2. Oxford Dictionaries Names ‘Vape’ Word of the Year

Oxford DictionariesThe Oxford Dictionaries have chosen “vape” as the Word of the Year for the United States.

According to the OxfordWords blog, this word “originated as an abbreviation of vapour or vaporize. The OxfordDictionaries.com definition was added in August 2014: the verb means ‘to inhale and exhale the vapour produced by an electronic cigarette or similar device,’ while both the device and the action can also be known as a vape. The associated noun vaping is also listed.”

As electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) rise in popularity, linguists predict that usage of word will only continue to increase. Some of the words that made it to the short list include “budtender,” “normcore,” and “slacktivism.” In past years, the organization picked “selfie,” “gif,” and “refudiate” to receive this honor.


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3. Review of Brown Girl Dreaming

woodson brown girl dreaming Review of Brown Girl Dreamingstar2 Review of Brown Girl Dreaming Brown Girl Dreaming
by Jacqueline Woodson
Intermediate, Middle School    Paulsen/Penguin
328 pp.    8/14    978-0-399-25251-8    $16.99    g

Here is a memoir-in-verse so immediate that readers will feel they are experiencing the author’s childhood right along with her. It starts out somewhat slowly, with Woodson relying on others’ memories to relate her (1963) birth and infancy in Ohio, but that just serves to underscore the vividness of the material once she begins to share her own memories; once her family arrives in Greenville, South Carolina, where they live with her maternal grandparents. Woodson describes a South where the whites-only signs may have been removed but where her grandmother still can’t get waited on in Woolworth’s, where young people are sitting at lunch counters and standing up for civil rights; and Woodson expertly weaves that history into her own. However, we see young Jackie grow up not just in historical context but also—and equally—in the context of extended family, community (Greenville and, later, Brooklyn), and religion (she was raised Jehovah’s Witness). Most notably of all, perhaps, we trace her development as a nascent writer, from her early, overarching love of stories through her struggles to learn to read through the thrill of her first blank composition book to her realization that “words are [her] brilliance.” The poetry here sings: specific, lyrical, and full of imagery: “So the first time my mother goes to New York City / we don’t know to be sad, the weight / of our grandparents’ love like a blanket / with us beneath it, / safe and warm.” An extraordinary—indeed brilliant—portrait of a writer as a young girl. martha v. parravano

From the September/October 2014 issue of The Horn Book Magazine. Brown Girl Dreaming is the winner of the 2014 National Book Award for Young People’s Literature.

share save 171 16 Review of Brown Girl Dreaming

The post Review of Brown Girl Dreaming appeared first on The Horn Book.

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4. National Book Award Winners for 2014

nationalbookawardPhil Klay has won the Fiction award for his book Redeployment from The Penguin Press/Penguin Group (USA).

Evan Osnos has won the Nonfiction award for Age of Ambition: Chasing Fortune, Truth, and Faith in the New China from Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

Louise Gluck won the Poetry award for Faithful and Virtuous Night from Farrar, Strauss and Giroux.

The Young People’s Literature award went to Jacqueline Woodson for Brown Girl Dreaming from Roaring Brook Press/Macmillan.

The National Book Award winners for 2014 were revealed tonight. If you want to read all the finalists, we’ve collected free samples of the finalists in all the categories below. Who was your favorite this year?


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5. Neil Gaiman & Ursula Le Guin at the National Book Awards

ursula_leguinAuthor Neil Gaiman presented the 2014 Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters to Ursula Le K. Le Guin at the National Book Awards this evening.

Before tonight, the two had only met once in an elevator at a sci-fi writer’s conference more than two decades ago in the Midwest. They were on an elevator together and she asked him, ”Are there any room parties tonight that you know of?”  and he replied, “I don’t know.”

While Gaiman had never met LeGuin in person, her work played a huge role in influencing his writing. As a young writer, Gaiman couldn’t figure out how to copy her style as he did with other writers because her work was so “clean.” So he cheated and read her essays on writing to help inform his own writing when he was a young writer.

“She raised my consciousness,” he said explaining that she opened his eyes to women’s issues. “She made me a better writer and much more importantly, she made me a better person who wrote.” (more…)

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6. National Book Award Nominees Share Writing Advice

nbaGalleyCat is at the 65th annual National Book Awards tonight in New York. We have been speaking with the nominees about their advice for writers.

Maureen N. McLean, the nominee in the poetry category for This Blue said: “Have open ears and read dead writers because they are channeling sounds that are still alive and they might attune you to things in the air that aren’t necessarily on the web or on TV or on a video game. English is a huge big weird language and why not swim in it.”

Steve Sheinkin, Young People’s Literature nominee, for his book The Port Chicago 50: Disaster, Mutiny, and the Fight for Civil Rights told us that the goal is: “to get to that point where you just show it to somebody. Everyone will always tell you, ‘you have to write every day,’ so you know that. But what really accelerates the improvement, is getting past that fear of showing it to somebody and really listening to what they say open-mindedly. It will be so much better after two or three smart and trusted readers have given you feedback and the whole rest of the world will never know that it was bad to begin with.” (more…)

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7. What Makes an Award Winning Book?

sharondraperWhat makes for an award winning book? Author/teacher Sharon M. Draper, the chair of committee of judges for the Young People’s Literature, says that it is all about “the language, the charters, the imagery, the history.”

We caught up with Draper at the National Book Awards ceremony where she let us in on how the committee went about selecting books for the category. Faced with 294 submissions, the team set out to find “books that were compelling, books that were lasting, books that young people would want to read over and over again,” Draper explains.

“It is almost indescribable what makes an excellent book, but you know it when you read it and you just say, ‘this one is something that is worthwhile,” concludes Draper. “I used to be a teacher, so I know what young people do, I write for young people so I kind of know what they are looking for and what they like and what they’ll reject.”

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8. Jillian Tamaki wins Governor General Award for This One Summer

ths one summer Jillian Tamaki wins  Governor General Award for This One Summer
Another win for a graphic novel as Jillian Tamaki won canada’s Governor General Award : for This One Summer in the Children’s Literature Illustrations category. This is a prestigious Canadian literary award, and its the first win for a graphic novel, although cousin Mariko Tamaki was nominated for their previous collaboration, Skim, and Mariko was nominated in the Children’s Literature category this year. Jillian gets the hometown hero treatment from the Edmonton Journal (she’s a native of Calgary.)

It’s the first Governor General nomination for Jillian Tamaki but, strangely, not the first time her work has been nominated.  There was controversy back in 2008 when Skim, the first book she created with her cousin, was nominated in the text category but not for illustrations. Tamaki argues that separating illustration and story into two categories for comics does not make a lot of sense,  suggesting that it may be time for a separate category for graphic novels.

“It’s the same strange divorce of text and image for this one as well,” Tamaki says. “I think we are both creators of the book. You can’t read a comic without either component, it won’t make sense. It’s something I will always be addressing when talking about the award. But I am completely flattered by the honour and will be sharing the prize with my cousin.”

The National Book Awards ceremony is tonight where Roz Chast’s Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant is a finalist. Fingers crossed!

[Via Comics Reporter]

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9. The National Book Awards is Tonight

nationalbookawardTonight is the National Book Awards at Cipriani Wall Street in New York City. GalleyCat will be covering the event live on our GalleyCat Twitter feed and on this blog. You can also watch a live webcast of the event at this link.

At the ceremony last year, this GalleyCat editor interviewed author E.L. Doctorow, as well as authors Gene Luen YangWendy Lower and Tom McNeal, and they all shared their advice for writers.

Below, we’ve linked to free samples of all the National Book Awards finalists. (more…)

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10. ‘Soot,’ ‘Boy and the World’ Top Cinanima in Portugal

See the full list of winners from Portugal's Cinanima festival.

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11. Goodreads Choice Awards Graphic Novel Nominees Announced

18687079 Goodreads Choice Awards Graphic Novel Nominees Announced
Goodreads, the social media network for readers, has its 2014 has its Best Graphic Novels & Comics 2014 nominees up. And they are

Serenity: Leaves on the Wind by Zack Whedon
Locke & Key, Volume 6: Alpha & Omega (Locke & Key #6) by Joe Hill and GAbriel Rodriguez
Batman, Vol. 4: Zero Year – Secret City by Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo
Attack on Titan: No Regrets, Vol. 1 by Hajime Isayama
Manga Classics: Pride & Prejudice by Stacy King
Tomboy: A Graphic Memoir by Liz Prince
Can’t We Talk about Something More Pleasant? by Roz Chast
Sex Criminals, Vol. 1: One Weird Trick by Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky
Avatar: The Last Airbender: The Rift, Part 1 (The Rift, #1) by Guene Luen Yang and Gurihiro
Saga, Volume 3by Brian K. Vaughan and Scott Snyder

This list may not be the most indicative of the literary side of comics, but as a snapshot of what actual readers are enjoying it’s not too bad.

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12. British Comic Awards winners announced

TheWickedAndDivine 03 1 British Comic Awards winners announced
The winners of the third annual British Comics Awards were announced during the Thought Bubble fest and they are:

Best Comic – The Wicked + The Divine #1 by Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie, Matt Wilson and Clayton Cowles (Image Comics)

Best Book – The Encyclopedia of Early Earth by Isabel Greenberg (Jonathan Cape)

Young People’s Comic Award – Hilda and The Black Hound by Luke Pearson (Flying Eye Books)

Emerging Talent – Alison Sampson for her artwork on Genesis (Image Comics) and ‘Shadows’ from the In The Dark anthology (IDW)

Hall of Fame – Posy Simmonds

I can’t think of five better books and people to represent Comics 2014. A conversation between Simmonds and Maura McHUgh will be posted on the BCA site in a few days.

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13. Awards for Inspiration


Photo credit: Stuck in Customs via photopin cc

Inspiration doesn’t come along everyday. Finding someone or something that inspires you is rare and should probably be rewarded. For example:

  • Do you know someone who deserves to be recognized for outstanding service?
  • Do you know someone who has gone the extra mile to provide outreach services to underserved communities?

ALSC is reminding members to apply for professional awards this fall. Applications are open and several deadlines are approaching. Below is list of ALSC professional awards which are available for submission or nomination. For more information, please visit: http://www.ala.org/alsc/awardsgrants/profawards

ALSC Distinguished Service Award
Deadline: Monday, December 1, 2014

This award honors an individual member who has made significant contributions to and an impact on, library services to children and ALSC.

Light the Way: Library Outreach to the Underserved Grant
Deadline: Monday, December 1, 2014

This $3,000 grant is sponsored by Candlewick Press in honor of author Kate DiCamillo and the themes represented in her books. The grant will be awarded to a library with exceptional outreach to underserved populations in efforts to help them continue their service.

Deadline: Sunday, February 1, 2015; applications open soon!

Three libraries are awarded a full collection of newly published books, videos, audiobooks, and recording from children’s trade publishers to be used in a way that creatively enhances their library service to children and families.

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14. Thomas Piketty Wins the 2014 FT & McKinsey Business Book of the Year Award

CapitalThomas Piketty won the 2014 Financial Times and McKinsey Business Book of the Year for his book, Capital in the Twenty-First Century. Piketty earned a £30,000 (about $48,711) prize, and the other shortlisted authors received £10,000 (about $16,237).

According to the press release, “the book is an account of the historical evolution of inequality in advanced economies, presenting key economic and social patterns uncovered through an analysis of data from twenty countries, ranging as far back as the eighteenth century.” Follow this link to watch Piketty’s TED talk.

We’ve posted the entire short list below. Lionel Barber, an editor for the Financial Times, served as the chair for the judging panel. Other members of this group include Steve CollSteven Denning, Mohamed El-ErianHerminia IbarraRik Kirkland, and Shriti Vadera.


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15. Barack Obama to Honor 3 Writers With the Presidential Medal of Freedom

President Barack ObamaPresident Barack Obama (pictured, via) will present 19 individuals with the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

According to the White House blog, this award is considered to be “our Nation’s highest civilian honor.” The people within this group work in a broad range of fields such as activism, art, politics, science, and of course writing.

The authors who have been recognized with this award include Isabel Allende, Tom Brokaw, and Marlo Thomas. A ceremony will be held at the White House on November 24, 2014.

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16. KLIK! Animation Festival Winners: ‘Hipopotamy’ Wins Top Prize

The KLIK! Animation Festival concluded its six-day event last Sunday in Amsterdam, awarding its top prize to Piotr Dumala's festival favorite "Hipopotamy."

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17. Amazon Editors Choose Their Best Books of 2014

amazon130Amazon has revealed their picks for Best Books of 2014, a list led by Celeste Ng, Stephen King, and Liane MoriartyFollow this link to see the full list of 100 titles.

According to the press release, the editorial team chose the top 10 from a pool of 480 books. We’ve reprinted the top 10 books below.

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18. Chast leads Amazon’s Best Graphic Novels for 2014

chast Chast leads Amazons Best Graphic Novels for 2014Roz Chast continues her dominance of the end-of-year best graphic novel lists, by topping Amazon’s list of the best graphic novels of the year. The books are selected by the Amazon editorial team, led by Sara Nelson, and ranked in order of sales (which is pretty interesting in and of itself.)

Chast’s book, a painful yet humorous look at the end of her parent’s life—has already won the first Kirkus Award for non fiction, and been named to PW’s Best Books list, and I suspect we may see it on a few more lists before the year is done. As of the moment, it’s Amazon’s #1 book in the “Parenting & Relationships > Aging Parents” category. So there.

The best of the list includes all the books from PW’s list, and some more, including strong efforts by Bryan Lee O’Malley, Charles Burns, Jeff Lemire, and more. The complete list:

• The Terrible and Wonderful Reasons Why I Run Long Distances by The Oatmeal and Matthew Inman (Andrews McMeel)
Can’t We Talk about Something More Pleaseant? by Roz Chast (Bloomsbury)
Saga Deluxe Edition Vol. 1 by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples (Image Comics)
Seconds: A Graphic Novel by Bryan Lee O’Malley (Ballantine)
The Graveyard Book Graphic Novel Vol. 2 Hardcover by Neil Gaiman and P. Craig Russell (HarperCollins)
Batman: A Visual History by Matthew K. Manning (foreword by Frank Miller) (DK Publishing)
Through the Woods by Emily Carroll (Margaret K. McElderry Books)
Sugar Skull by Charles Burns (Pantheon)
Deadpool by Joe Kelly Omnibus by Joe Kelly, James Felder, Stan Lee, Ed McGuinness, Aaron Lopresti, Bernard Chang, Shannon Denton, Pete Woods and Rob Liefeld (Marvel)
Beautiful Darkness by Fabian Vehlmann and Kerascoet, translated by Helge Dasher (Drawn & Quarterly)
The Harlem Hellfighters by Max Brooks and Canaan White) (Broadway Books)
Trillium by Jeff Lemire (DC/Vertigo)
This One Summer by Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki (First Second)
Locke & Key: Alpha & Omega by Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez (IDW Publishing)
The Shadow Hero by Gene Luen Yang and Sonny Liew (First Second)
How to Be Happy by Eleanor Davis (Fantagraphics)
Andre the Giant: Life and Legend by Box Brown (First Second)
The Wrenchies by Farel Dalrymple (First Second)
The Love Bunglers by Jaime Hernandez (Fantagraphics)
Ant Colony by Michael DeForge (Drawn & Quarterly)


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19. The Usborne Big Book of Stars and Planets – a Royal Society Young People’s Book Prize shortlistee

7277409-MThe Usborne Big Book of Stars and Planets written by Emily Bone, illustrated by Fabiano Fiorin is a first primer in astronomy, full of simply explained and rather beautifully illustrated facts about the Solar System, different types of stars and how they group together, and space exploration and observation. Four large flaps fold out (a little like the expanding universe), to reveal further facts and some lavish astronomical vistas.

Usborne has history when it comes to astronomy books and the Royal Society Young People’s Book Prize: Last year Usborne’s Look Inside Space (which I reviewed here) won the prize, and in 2011 The Story of Astronomy and Space (which I reviewed here) was shortlisted. So how does The Usborne Big Book of Stars and Planets compare? Is it an award winner?

Many Usborne books are characterized by cartoony illustrations, and here, The Usborne Big Book of Stars and Planets does something rather different and really worthwhile in my opinion: Fiorin’s illustrations do justice to the beauty of space, with the use of vivid watercolours, particularly effective in the section on nebulae.


As to the information presented, I have come up against a problem. Whilst I don’t fact-check everything in the non-fiction books I review, I do always check a few “facts”, to get a feel for how the book presents information. Unfortunately with The Usborne Big Book of Stars and Planets I very quickly came across a few statements which made me slightly concerned: the thickness of Saturn’s rings and the length of Uranus’ day don’t match what is stated on NASA’s website (65 ft thick vs 30-300 ft thick, 17 hours and 54 minutes vs 17 hours and 14 minutes). I know that “facts” are often much more complicated than presented, especially in books for the youngest of readers, and that simplification is sometimes necessary (and that my research skills can always be bettered) but it makes me uneasy when with just a little investigation I can find contradictory information from reliable sources.

I love the look and feel of The Usborne Big Book of Stars and Planets but I can’t help feeling unsettled by it too; why doesn’t the information I’ve looked up elsewhere match with some of the information presented in the book? Hmm.


Inspired by the patterns and colours of the planets in the illustrations, and such photos as the one below, where Jupiter appears in pastel colours because the observation was taken in near-infrared light, we decided to make our own set of planets.

Triple Jupiter Eclipse. Photo:  NASA on The Commons, ESA, and E. Karkoschka (University of Arizona)

Triple Jupiter Eclipse. Photo: NASA on The Commons

We used marbling paint and different sized polystyrene balls to replicate the colours and patterns.


Having created a swirly pattern with a toothpick the girls slowly dipped their “planets” into the paint/water. (In order to hang up the planets to dry, we attached string to them before we dipped them).

The effects were just lovely!


Once dry, we put our planets into orbit in the windowsill:


We shall never have a dull sky at night now.


Whilst marvelling at our marbled planets we listened to:

  • The Monty Python Universe Song
  • The Planets suite by Gustav Holst. ‘Mars’ recently featured in the BBC’s 10 Pieces, a project designed to get primary school aged children really excited about classical music. The BBC created a video to go with the music, which you can view here.
  • For the Planet Pluto by The Music Tapes

  • Other activities that would go well with reading The Usborne Big Book of Stars and Planets include:

  • Making a scale model of the Solar System down your garden path or along the pavement to school. Here’s how we did it (all measurements included).
  • Watching some of the experiments carried out by Chris Hadfield when he was in the International Space Station. He’s got his own YouTube channel where you can hear him sing (not just the Bowie song) as well as explore many of the amazing things that happen in space.
  • Signing up to find out next time you can send your name into space! Occasionally NASA sends probes into space on which you can have your name inscribed – my girls’ names will be launched into space with Bennu in 2016 – and if you sign up you can find out when the next such opportunity arises.
  • When you read reviews of non-fiction books do you expect some commentary on factual accuracy? When can a book still be worth recommending even if it appears to contain errors? I wrote a review of a non-fiction book for a print publication at the start of this year. The book contained an error (double and triple checked by me), but my review was never published, and in all the other reviews I’ve seen of the book, the error has not been mentioned. What do you think of this? Should errors be overlooked because they can be corrected in future editions?

    Disclosure: I received a free review copy of The Usborne Big Book of Stars and Planets about Your Body from the Royal Society.

    royalsocietyprizebuttonEach year the Royal Society awards a prize to the best book that communicates science to young people with the aim of inspiring young people to read about science. The Usborne Big Book of Stars and Planets is on this year’s shortlist for the The Royal Society Young People’s Book Prize. The winner will be announced 17th November.

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    20. Opening Round Begins For The 2014 Goodreads Choice Awards

    goodreads 2014Bibliophiles can make their voices heard on some of their favorite books that were published this year. Opening round has begun for The 2014 Goodreads Choice Awards.

    Goodreads users can submit their votes in 20 different categories: fiction, mystery & thriller, historical fiction, fantasy, romance, science fiction, horror, humor, nonfiction, memoir & autobiography, history & biography, business books, food & cookbooks, comics & graphic novels, poetry, debut Goodreads author, young adult fiction, young adult fantasy, middle grade & children’s, and picture books. Each category contains 15 nominees. Readers also have the option to write-in votes. Click here to learn about the full details

    This initial period will run from November 3rd to 8th. The second period, the semifinal round, will follow from November 10th to 15th. At the end, the final round will last from November 17th to November 24th. The winning titles will be unveiled on December 2nd. Past winners include The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling (fiction), Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn (mystery & thriller), and Allegiant by Veronica Roth (young adult fantasy).

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    21. Putting Portable STEAM into Action

    Winning one of YALSA’s 2014 Teen Tech Week Grants was both professionally and personally rewarding. It was my second foray into grant-writing and I was surprised that my plan for Exploring Arduino and the creation of a portable STEAM lab at my library branch had won. I was also excited to learn something new, something that “my” kids would think was fun, cool, and wanted to learn too. Of course, with any new challenge, there are degrees of success.

    The overall challenge was the timeframe – only five weeks between notification that my branch had won and Teen Tech Week.  Purchasing the equipment – three SparkFun Inventor’s kits and three laptops – didn’t go as planned. All the equipment used in my proposal no longer existed and were replaced by more expensive items. The Inventor’s Kits now available were upgraded, simplified, and cost $10 more each; this was a blessing in disguise as I wouldn’t have to solder anything and preparing the kits involved nothing more than taping two pieces together with double-sided tape. The bargain laptops? I now knew the reason they were such a bargain – discontinued for newer, faster models with greater memory capacity, and nearly double the price. So back to the Best Buy website for a laptop that fit my technology and price needs. Success! And, with the financial and logistical help of the Treasurer of my branch’s Friends, three laptops were acquired in record time. The next challenge was having the laptops ready to go which meant a phone call and email to our library system’s IT department. In four days, IT staff loaded anti-virus and administrative software before downloading the open-source Arduino code. The equipment that formed the basis of a portable STEAM lab was ready!

    The burning question – was I ready? The short answer was no, not really. So, I picked up one of the shiny new laptops and an Inventor’s Kit with guidebook and parked myself in the Reference Office. When researching Arduino products, I chose the SparkFun Inventor’s Kit because it’s relatively foolproof, making it perfect for beginners of all ages. Both the red board and breadboard are well-marked, but most importantly the guidebook is amazing. It takes you through 15 basic exercises called circuits – with both written directions and a full-color diagram of a successfully executed circuit. I worked through the first three circuits in about an hour. Surely a group of teens with a desire to learn circuitry and a predilection to technology could complete 10 or even all 15 circuits in two hours!

    I had planned to have as many as three teens per workstation in a two hour workshop. I was pleased when six teens registered (five boys and one girl), and momentarily disappointed when only three boys attended. In spite of the numbers, the program ended with valuable feedback: no more than two people per workstation, teens are not necessarily faster when learning new things (they completed five to six circuits in about one hour and forty minutes), they were looking forward to a three-part summer workshop (two afternoons of working through all 15 circuits followed by a third afternoon of experimenting with original circuits and programming), and they really liked that I admitted I was not an expert and was learning along with them.

    In late May, I had accepted a position at a library in a different county. I had outlined my intended summer calendar, including a modified two-part Arduino workshop – if I could troubleshoot the basic circuits, anyone could. I heard from a former colleague that the Arduino workshops had been held and that the teens in attendance had a good time, a definite indicator of success. That is what Teen Tech Week is all about – getting teens excited about the convergence of technology, experimentation, and libraries.


    Caroline Aversano is the Teen Services Librarian at the Jackson Branch of the Ocean County Library. She had been the Young Adult Librarian at the West Windsor Branch of the Mercer County (NJ) Library from March 2009 to May 2014. In 2007, she was awarded an MSLIS from Drexel University and was inducted into the Sigma Chapter of Beta Phi Mu. Caroline has been a member of ALA, YALSA, the New Jersey Library Association (NJLA), and NJLA’s Young Adult Services Section since 2007; she was a member of NJLA’s Emerging Leaders Class of 2009. She currently serves on YALSA’s Teen Read Week Committee, is in her seventh year of reading for NJLA’s Garden State Teen Book Awards, and is in her third year of serving on the NJ Statewide Summer Reading Committee. Caroline had served as a member of YALSA’s Guidelines for Public Libraries and Reader’s Choice Task Forces in 2011-12.

    Prior to becoming a librarian, Caroline held a variety of positions including Assistant Vice President – Marketing Communications for a global financial services provider, Sales and Media Relations for collegiate and minor league athletics, and Quality Control/Quality Assurance for a service provider to manufacturers of composites, gemstones, medical devices, plastics, and semiconductors. These previous occupations provided Caroline with an eclectic collection of knowledge that is infinitely helpful when staffing the Adult Reference Desk.


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    22. Primanima Winners: ‘Small People with Hats,’ ‘Symphony No. 42,’ ‘Man on the Chair’

    The 3rd annual edition of Primanima, a festival dedicated entirely to student work and debut professional films, took place last week in Budaörs, Hungary.

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    23. My Teen Tech Week Grant Experience: Opening a dialogue with at-risk teens about how they use social media

    My library is the closest library to public housing in my community. Most teens who visit the library are poor. Their city is unsafe, ranking 3 on a 1 to 100 scale, with 100 being safest. Their schools are failing. The public high school was forced to restructure after years of ranking in the lowest 5% of Michigan schools. Every week I see teens who are suspended, on probation with the juvenile system, homeless, or runaways.

    Despite all this, the library’s Teen Zone is a mostly safe and positive space. Young people gather daily to use the computers for schoolwork, online games, and to catch up on what their friends are doing. Teens drop in and out of the library to see who’s hanging out. The space is abuzz with conversation and activity. We ask everyone to engage in a library activity–access the wireless, color the tattoo and mandala designs available on the table, play xbox. Anyone who learns something at a program can ask for the supplies anytime and continue creating. An active Teen Advisory Group (TAG) helps plan and host programs.


    However, providing quality programs that engage teens and allow them to experience new technology can be a challenge. As with many libraries in the U.S., the downturn in the economy saw property tax in-takes decline while the community’s needs increased. Grant money allows me to offer internships and unique programs of interest to TAG members I couldn’t otherwise, so I have applied for and received several YASLA and Michigan Arts grants. I’m always watching for grants that will allow me to provide something I hope will improve the lives of teens at my library.

    When I saw the posting for the 2014 Teen Tech Week grant, two things went through my mind and shaped my proposal. First was the recent negative use of social media by teens in my community to create and distribute a “thot list” using Instagram and Facebook. It included nude pictures of young women and lists of men they’d supposedly slept with. Everyone was sharing the list in the Teen Zone. It was humiliating and led to charges against some of the creators, and it weighed heavily on my mind as I filled out the grant application. Second was the knowledge that the current technology gap between teens of varying incomes isn’t about who owns which device, but how the devices are used. Compared to middle-income teens, low-income teens are more likely to use technology in passive ways, or without guidance and direction. In my experience this means too often passively watching YouTube videos, using phones for taping fights, and social media for starting arguments, bullying and sharing content like the thot list.

    My hope was to provide an opportunity for teens to be creators of digital content rather than passive users and create something positive they would share online. I chose using technology to create music. In addition to making music, I envisioned teens marketing their music online, which could naturally lead to conversations about the positive and negative uses of social media. I intended to invite someone from the Youth Violence Prevention Center at the University of Michigan to lead this conversation. I envisioned the Making and Marketing Music workshop as a series rather than a standalone event, so quality music could be produced and teens would be proud to share it. I thought the visit from the Youth Violence Prevention Center would be my way of sneaking something educational into the fun of making music…


    But I was wrong! The most rewarding and engaging part of the plan was the conversation about social media. It was difficult to get momentum going for the project because several TAG members, including the one who chose the rap artist we invited, attempted an armed carjacking and were incarcerated before the workshop began.

    Eight music workshops turned out to be too many. Participants didn’t attend regularly, making it difficult to progress as a group. Many only wrote lyrics or learned about beat making and song form. They didn’t return each week to build a complete piece of music. Only two teens took home quality pieces of music to share. In hindsight, I would host a one-day music-making event, with several professionals and various stations allowing teens to experiment with the recording equipment with guidance from the professionals but not too much talk.

    To fulfill the part of the plan that involved conversation about social media, the Youth Violence Prevention Center connected me with Desmond Patton, a Social Work professor who researches gangs’ use of social media in Chicago and Detroit. He brought his colleague, Katie Richards-Schuster, a youth action project specialist, to a TAG meeting. I invited members of another nonprofit’s teen leadership committee to attend as well.


    Twenty teens spent an evening eating pizza and talking about how they and their friends use social media. Desmond and Katie returned to help teens brainstorm an action plan, prompting them to think about what they could do to improve their own community. A plan was tentatively formed to create an anti-bullying app. Desmond and Katie contacted engineers at the university and I began to research funding. Although the project didn’t advance during the busy summer months at the library when we were serving free lunch to children and offering STEM and maker programs daily, I am again looking into how we can fund the app project.


    And because our library’s program brochure was published before I knew I received the grant, we held another Tech Week program I found at MakeItAtYourLibrary.org that was a big hit—arduino ambient lights. A volunteer continues to host a monthly engaging electronics project. Between all programs, we reached many teens with a variety of interests and engaged them in using and thinking about how they use technology and the internet. It was great, and the YALSA Teen Tech Week grant drove the conversations and engagement. Thank you YALSA!


    Jodi Krahnke is the Young Adult Librarian at Ypsilanti District Library’s Michigan Avenue location. She received her MLIS with a concentration in Urban Libraries from Wayne State University in 2010. Holding an undergraduate degree in sociology, she has long had a passion for social justice and believes a library is an important place for providing opportunities to engage and inspire young people in a community.  Read more at http://www.michigannightlight.com/people/jodijohnson.aspx.



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    24. Fall Appointments Update

    Happy Fall!

    I just wanted to thank our members for the 537 volunteer committee applications that were submitted and to give everyone an update on the award and selection committee appointments process!

    The appointments task force was finalized in October and award and selection committee chairs were selected. The appointments task force and I are still working on filling all of the award and selection committee member vacancies, but rosters should be finalized soon.

    Appointing the local arrangements committee for Midwinter 2015 is the next priority.

    ALA Appointments: There has been one ALA Appointment call to review the general ALA appointment process. The slate for the nominating committee has not been officially presented, but does include one YALSA member.

    ALA President Elect Sari Feldman has put out a call for volunteers for the ALA committees listed below. Please let me know if you are interested in being recommended for any of them. The ALA application form closes this Friday, November 7, 2014.

    It’s been a pleasure and privilege to go through all of the your applications. Thank you so much for your dedication to YALSA and to teen library services!


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    25. Goodreads Choice Awards for graphic novels are open for nominations

    18465601 Goodreads Choice Awards for graphic novels are open for nominations The preliminary list is here. To say some critical darlings are missing would be an understatement. However some excellent reader favorites are well represented. But you can still write in—the top five write ins will be added to a list of final nominees.

    The criteria for the first round are as follows:

    Books published in the United States in English, including works in translation and other significant rereleases, between November 17, 2013, and November 15, 2014, are eligible for the 2014 Goodreads Choice Awards. Books published between November 16, 2014, and December 31, 2014, will be eligible for the 2015 awards.

    We analyze statistics from the millions of books added, rated, and reviewed on the site in 2014 to nominate 15 books in each category. Opening round official nominees must have an average rating of 3.50 or higher. Write-in votes may be cast for eligible books with any average rating, and write-in votes will be weighted by the book’s number of ratings to determine the top five books to be added as official nominees in the Semifinal Round. A book may be nominated in no more than one genre category, but can also be nominated in the Goodreads Author category. Only one book in a series may be nominated per category. An author may receive multiple nominations within a single category if he or she has more than one eligible series or more than one eligible stand-alone book.

    Good Reads is a pretty well known promotional social media tool in the book world, but it doesn’t seem to have gained too much traction in the comics world, which is odd since comics folk love to read and compare notes. Anyway, jsut a reminder that 2014 is hurtling to a close.

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