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1. If You Were Me and Lived In … Scotland, by Carole P. Roman | Series Giveaway

The Children’s Book Review | April 17, 2015 Enter to win a complete autographed set of the If You Were Me series, by award-winning author Carole P. Roman; including If You Were Me and Lived in … Scotland: A Child’s Introduction to Cultures Around the World! One (1) winner receives the grand prize: An autographed set of Carole P. Roman’s If […]

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2. Update: Francisco and Robert Jiménez School

jimenez_the circuitBack in February I interviewed my mom Gretchen, who’s an instructional aide in Southern California’s Santa Maria–Bonita School District, about her campaign to name the district’s newest elementary school in honor of Dr. Francisco Jiménez. Dr. Jiménez is an author, recipient of a 1998 BGHB Award, and an alum of the area’s schools. And, as he has poignantly chronicled in his book The Circuit and its sequels, he was a migrant farmworker child, like many of the district’s current students.

Who better, my mother asks, to recognize as a champion for these children than someone who has walked in their shoes?

Last night the school board’s naming committee met to hear spoken arguments for the three names on the short list of proposals, narrowed down from about eighty. The nomination for Dr. Jimenéz was combined with that for his late brother, Robert Jiménez — who also attended SMBSD schools and was a beloved employee of the district for decades. Bill Libbon worked with the Santa Maria Boys and Girls Club for forty years and recently retired from his position as its executive director. Santa Maria police officer Mark Riddering, who died of ALS in 2008, was instrumental in bringing the D.A.R.E. drug prevention program to Santa Maria schools. Choosing which of these influential community members to honor must have been difficult, but ultimately the committee unanimously voted to christen the new elementary school “Francisco and Robert Jiménez School.” The school will open in August.

Given that the school will have a dual immersion English/Spanish program, it seems especially fitting to name it after the Jiménez brothers. As Spanish speakers in English-only schools, and with their education spotty due to their many moves, their English bilingualism was hard-won.

It’s also good timing to celebrate both brothers, honoring the memory of Robert Jiménez (who passed away in December) and the literary accomplishments of Francisco Jiménez (whose fourth memoir series entry, Taking Hold, pubbed last week.)

Congratulations to the Jiménez family!

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3. Illustration Inspiration: Tracy Dockray, Illustrator of Izzy and Oscar

Tracy Dockray's most recent book is “Izzy and Oscar”, an octopus out of water tale, by Allison Estes.

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4. Where Do Our Baby Teeth Go? By Vilasinee Bunnag | Book Review

Author Vilasinee Bunnag, along with illustrator Yasmin Doctor, have created a wonderfully interactive picture book, Where Do Our Baby Teeth Go?, to help little ones understand, celebrate, and document this rite of passage.

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5. Mock book award results | 2015

mockawardwinners2015

Committee results from left to right: the two Caldecott groups, Geisel, and Sibert.

My children’s lit students just met for the last time, and we spent most of our three-hour class in mock book award groups. I had been thinking about trying mock awards in this short six-week module for a few years, but this year Maleka Donaldson Gramling, the terrific course TF, thought it would be worth reconfiguring some tried and true aspects of the course to make room for this lengthy process. I am happy to report that it was worth it. The students had lively and informed discussions and proved that they really have learned a few things over the past few weeks.

In working out the logistics, I relied heavily on advice from Calling Caldecott readers. With 23 students and a handful of auditors, we ended up with four committees: two for Caldecott and one each for Geisel and Sibert. Each student nominated one or two books and tonight they completed the project, meeting in committees (we separated the two Caldecotts into two different rooms), presenting each book, discussing, and voting. You can see a photo of the results above. Here is the full list.

Caldecott committee #1 had an even number of members and after several ballots were still in a dead tie. The final decision was made by coin toss:

  • Winner:
    The Adventures of Beekle by Dan Santat
  • Honor Book:
    The Iridescence of Birds by Patricia MacLachlan, illustrated by Hadley Hooper

Caldecott committee #2 had a more traditional experience:

  • Winner:
    The Noisy Paintbox by Barb Rosenstock, illustrated by Mary GrandPre
  • Honor Books:
    - Nana in the City by Lauren Castillo
    - The Iridescence of Birds by Patricia MacLachlan, illustrated by Hadley Hooper

Geisel committee choices:

  • Winner:
    You are (Not) Small by Anna Kang, illustrated by Christopher Weyant
  • Honor Book:
    Tippy and the Night Parade by Lilly Carré

And the Sibert committee — the largest group — chose:

  • Winner:
    Eye to Eye by Steve Jenkins
  • Honor Books:
    The Right Word by Jen Bryant, illustrated by Melissa Sweet
    The Noisy Paintbox by Barb Rosenstock, illustrated by Mary GrandPre

The deliberations were fueled by snacks and each group had an instructor t0 help keep discussion focused on award criteria. I am so grateful to Maleka for moderating the Geisel group and to Lauren Adams (unofficial discussion facilitator and Adolescent Lit instructor) who oversaw the Sibert group. I bounced between the two rooms and helped the Caldecott groups.

What do you all think? Students? Other blog readers? Do you like their results? After all, part of the real committee experience is dealing with the post-decision social media fallout.

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6. What ELSE do you do?: five questions for T. A. Barron

Author T. A. Barron instituted the Gloria Barron Prize for Young Heroes in 2000. Named for the author’s mother, the Prize is given annually to fifteen young people “who have made a significant positive difference to people and/or our environment.” Each winner receives $5,000 toward his or her work or higher education.

Barron’s latest fantasy novel, Atlantis in Peril, will be published in May by Philomel Books, and look for his thoughts about his main man Merlin in the forthcoming May Horn Book Magazine, a special issue on the theme of Transformation. Nominations for the 2015 Barron Prize can be made through the website linked above, but the deadline is April 15th so burn rubber, jk.

This is the first in a series of interviews with children’s book people about what else they do with their time.

Author photo 2014 for Horn Book 1.  RS: Over the fifteen years the prize has been awarded, have you seen any shift in the kind or focus of activism from the nominees? 

TAB: The quality and diversity of these kids has always been extraordinary – they blow my mind every single year. But there have been dramatic shifts in what kinds of activism motivate them. For example, there’s been a big increase in young people helping other people and the environment at the same time – such as one recent winner who invented solar lanterns to replace dangerous and polluting kerosene or dung ones in developing countries. Another change is that nearly all our nominees these days have created their own activism websites and have a real social media presence, which definitely wasn’t the case when we started!

2.  RS: Where do you see the intersection between your work as a novelist and as a conservationist?

TAB: Both are about young people – their struggles, ideals, and surprising power to change the world. Every day, I’m worried about the terrible planetary mess we are handing to our children. Yet every day, I’m amazed by the honesty, freshness, energy, dreams, humor, and courage of young people. So in my writing, I try to authentically earn the idea that every kid, of any description, has a special magic down inside – magic that could change the world. Add to that “hero’s journey” core how much I like to weave ecological ideas into my books…and you have the two themes that flow through all my stories.

Similarly, in my conservation work, I try to share stories of real people who have made a difference to creating a more healthy environment – people like Jane Goodall (visionary), John Muir (activist), Rachel Carson (writer), and Johnny Appleseed (tree planter). We actually do have the power to give Mother Nature the space and flexibility she needs to survive – but we have to believe that before we can do it. The stories we tell young people – the seeds we plant metaphorically as well as physically – can help us get there.

3. RS: Could you describe one of the most surprising or inventive projects you’ve seen submitted for this prize?

TAB: I’m still waiting and hoping for the bright young kid out there who will invent a way for me to write books faster (as a community service, of course)! Alas, that isn’t going to happen. Some of my most favorite recent projects are: (1) Waste No Food, linking food donors with charities that feed the hungry, thus helping people and keeping food waste out of landfills. (2) Literacy for Little Ones, providing new books and early literacy information to nearly 10,000 families with newborn babies. (3) Project TGIF (Turn Grease Into Fuel), collecting waste cooking oil from residents and restaurants and refining it into biodiesel to help New England families with emergency heating needs.

4. RS: What do you think is the key to growing a lifelong idealist?

TAB: Here’s what I hope to convey to any kid from any background: See your life as a story – a story of which YOU are the author. So make it the very best story you can! Tell it with courage; tell it with passion. And also find a way to have a chapter or two where your dreams for how to make the world a better place are made real by the small, everyday things you do in your life – as well as the broader causes you support.

5. RS: If I told you I wanted to save the world, what would you give me to read first?

TAB: I’d give you three books: (1) Seedfolks by Paul Fleischman (on the power of every person to make a difference). (2) A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle (on the power of love). And (3) The Hero’s Trail (the new 2015 edition) by T. A. Barron. (I know it’s shameless of me to include that last title…but this new edition is so packed with inspiring stories of real young people who have shown amazing courage and compassion that I just can’t resist.)

 

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7. Book Series Giveaway | Spot The …

Enter to win copies of Spot the Dinosaur on the Island and Spot the Monkey in the Jungle, written by Stella Maidment and Illustrated by Joelle Dreidemy. Giveaway begins April 9, 2015, at 12:01 A.M. PST and ends May 8, 2015, at 11:59 P.M. PST.

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8. Shh! We have an author event!

The other night, Martha Parravano and I attended an “Ink and Drink” at Candlewick Press for visiting author Chris Haughton. Boston was a stopover for Haughton, an Irishman who lives in London, on his way to Mississippi to accept the Ezra Jack Keats New Illustrator Award for Shh! We Have a Plan, which received a starred review in the November/December 2014 Horn Book Magazine. His other books include Little Owl Lost and Oh No, George! and he developed a snazzy-looking app called Hat Monkey.

Haughton_bks

Haughton started as a graphic designer, then got hooked in to People Tree, a fair trade organization specializing in fashion/textiles and gifties. He talked about his time in Nepal, including co-founding a free-trade carpet and knitwear organization called Node that works with an adult education and support center to train and employ women, many of whom are domestic violence survivors or otherwise victims of oppression. This little guy — a George hand puppet (from Oh No, George!) — is one of the projects.

george

Just when you thought he couldn’t get any more big-hearted, he also created the artwork for a hospital children’s ward. And he read Shh! We Have a Plan aloud to us. And all with an Irish accent. The evening was lots of fun. Thanks for hosting, Candlewick!

shhprofile

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9. Children’s Book Trends on The Children’s Book Review | April 2015

This month, The Children's Book Review's book trends shows that your still helping us celebrate our 7th birthday by entering our Fire HD 6 Tablet giveaway. Have fun perusing this list of TCBR's book trends.

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10. Five questions for Nikki Grimes

nikki grimesApril is National Poetry Month, and what better way to celebrate than by talking with acclaimed poet Nikki Grimes? Her many books include narratives in verse, prose fiction, poetry collections, and nonfiction, frequently featuring African American characters and culture. In Grimes’s latest picture book, Poems in the Attic (illustrated by Elizabeth Zunon; Lee & Low, 5–8 years), a girl describes, in free verse, an exciting discovery: a box of poems her mother wrote during her own youth. Like a diary, the poems offer the daughter an intimate first-person perspective of her mother’s world travels as the child of an Air Force captain.

1. Your author’s note for Poems in the Attic says that you moved around a lot as a child. Did you have adventures similar to your characters’? What were some of your favorite places?

NG: My life was very different my characters’, I’m afraid. My frequent moving had to do with being in the foster-care system, and my adventures primarily took place between the pages of books! However, the challenges that result from a child frequently being uprooted, no matter the cause, are challenges I can relate to. As for favorite places of my childhood, I would have to say the public library, the planetarium, and Central Park. All three were magical.

2. How did you come up with the idea of having the mother write in a different poetic form than her daughter?

grimes_poems in the atticNG: I’d been wanting to do a collection of tanka poems for young readers for some time. I’d originally considered creating a collection of paired poems similar to A Pocketful of Poems (illus. by Javaka Steptoe; Clarion, 5–8 years), in which the character introduced haiku poetry, but using the tanka form. However, I came up with the idea for this story and realized it provided me a perfect opportunity to use two different forms to capture the voices of mother and daughter. I had tanka on the brain at that point, so it was an easy choice for me.

3. The daughter reflects, “My mama glued her memories with words / so they would last forever.” How does poetry help to glue down memories?

NG: Poetry is the language of essence. Through the use of metaphor, simile, and the rest, the poet paints a picture, catches the essence of a subject, and plumbs all of the senses connected with that subject. What better genre is there for capturing a memory?

4. As you travel and engage with children, how do you inspire in them an interest in reading and writing poetry?

NG: That interest is already in them. Poetry is a huge part of their childhood, from the ABC song to jump-rope rhymes to “Ring Around the Rosie.” Stoking that interest only requires sharing poems with them to which they can relate. One whiff of poetry about the stuff of their own childhood, their own lives, and they are off and running. Once they’ve gotten a good taste of poetry, just try and stop them from reading and writing it!

5. Which poets inspire you?

NG: Oh, my! That list is long. My library includes Lucille Clifton, Naomi Shihab Nye, Wendell Berry, W. B. Yeats, William Stafford, Jane Yolen, Pablo Neruda, Natasha Trethewey, Gary Soto, Helen Frost, Mary Oliver, Marilyn Nelson, Shakespeare (sonnets, anyone?), Langston Hughes, Mari Evans. Yikes! Okay, I’ll stop.

From the April 2015 issue of Notes from the Horn Book.

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11. When a Cat Lover Writes Dog Haiku Poems

Lee Wardlaw is the author of 30 books for young readers, including Won Ton: A Cat Tale Told in Haiku, recipient of the Lee Bennett Hopkins Children’s Poetry Award, the Myra Cohn Livingston Award for Poetry, and the Purina/Fancy Feast “Love Story” Award.

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12. Best Selling Kids Series | April 2015

This month's best selling kids series from The Children's Book Review's affiliate store is the wonderfully educational series The Adventures of Riley.

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13. Best Selling Middle Grade Books | April 2015

This month, Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Book 1, by Jeff Kinney, is The Children's Book Review's best selling middle grade book.

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14. Best Selling Picture Books | April 2015

This month our best selling picture book from our affiliate store is the gorgeously illustrated Sleep Like a Tiger, written by Mary Lougue and pictures by Pamela Zagarenski.

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15. 2015 Zena Sutherland Lecture by Jack Gantos

GantosSuttonPlease join us for the 2015 Zena Sutherland Lecture, “A Pair of Jacks to Open,” with Jack Gantos. Friday May 1, Harold Washington Library in Chicago, 7:30PM. The lecture is free but tickets are required.

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16. Zodiac, by Romina Russell | Book Review

Readers looking for tension, angst, fantastical myths, well-rounded characters, and a very human tale of survival will delight in this quick and engrossing page-turner of a story, sure to inspire the inner-Zodiac in everyone.

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17. Selfie Sweepstakes Reviews: Bandits Peak

[As an experiment last fall, I invited self-publishers to submit their best new titles for review. About a dozen heeded the call, and I am reviewing their books in this space.]

bandits_peak_500x800-210Bandits Peak; by Chris Eboch. Pig River Press, 2015. 173pp. ISBN 0-978-0692346006. Paper ed. $9.99

Jesse is out for a wander in the wilderness he loves near his small Washington State town when he comes across some strangers, two men and a pretty young woman. Fifteen-year-old Jesse’s insta-crush on the slightly-older Maria is believable and touching, and gives the subsequent boy-detective plot some emotional resonance. That the strangers are Up to No Good will be instantly apparent to readers, but an unrealistic degree of naivete on Jesse’s part, and the unrealistic lengths the story goes to in reinforcing that cluelessness, make the novel less credible than it needs to be. But what keeps it grounded–so to speak–are the wilderness-survival details (tracking, fire-making, fishing) that are Jesse’s best weapons for getting these varmints behind bars where they belong.   R.S.

 

[This review may be distributed freely and excerpted fairly; credit to “Read Roger, The Horn Book Inc., www.hbook.com.]

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18. Re-Imaging Shakespeare or Creating a Shakespeare Re-Mix

To make re-mixed Shakespeare exciting for young readers as well as older readers, get your hands dirty and have a field day in that Shakespeare toolbox.

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19. My Writing and Reading Life: Jen Calonita, Author of Flunked

JEN CALONITA has interviewed everyone from Reese Witherspoon to Justin Timberlake, but the only person she's ever wanted to trade places with is Disney's Cinderella. She's the award-winning author of the My Secrets of My Hollywood Life series.

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20. Synthia Saint James at Simmons

(Say *that* three times fast!)

Next week, visual artist, author, and illustrator Dr. Synthia Saint James will be on the Simmons College campus as the Eileen Friars Leader-in-Residence. Right now some of her art is being installed along the hallway outside the Horn Book office. It’s lovely and thought-provoking — lucky us!

stjamesart2

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21. Best Non-Fiction Picture Books of 2014

The best non-fiction picture books of 2014, as picked by the editors and contributors of The Children’s Book Review.

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22. Gallery Nucleus Presents Children’s Book Illustrator Adam Rex

From the book that inspired the movie H​OME,​ creator of T​he True Meaning of Smekday,​ Artist Adam Rex will be flying in for his solo exhibition as well as the artist panel for The Art of Home.

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23. Guess How Much I Love You Celebrates 20 Years

This year, Sam McBratney’s timeless, endearing story of Big and Little Nutbrown Hare, Guess How Much I Love You, turns 20!

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24. A Lovely Night

CINDERELLAWe saw the new Cinderella last night and you should see it too. What I loved most was that it was genuinely a children’s movie. While Cate Blanchette as the stepmother and Helena Bonham-Carter as the fairy godmother were on hand to provide some camp (and there was a PG-pushing plethora of men in tights), neither they nor the movie ever winked over the head of the intended audience. Cinderella herself was given just enough spirit (or “agency,” as our reviewers keep trying to say) to rescue her from stereotype without tipping into anachronism, and plot complications to the tale’s essentials were mercifully few. Rightfully, the high point of the movie was The Dress, first as HBC enchants it around Ella and then again when it whirls about the dance floor at the ball. Look for it on October trick-or-treaters–and maybe some June brides?

P.S. Stick around for the credits to hear Lily James (Cinderella) and HBC sing two of the classics from the original Disney film.

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25. Public School Superhero: James Patterson Reads Prize Pack

Make it through middle school with James Patterson! Enter for a chance to win a James Patterson Reads prize pack. Giveaway begins March 23, 2015, at 12:01 A.M. PST and ends April 22, 2015, at 11:59 P.M. PST.

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