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1. Texas Library Association Conference (#txla16)

Just back from the Texas Library Association Conference in Houston! 

As always, it was great to see fellow authors and illustrators, as well as the librarians who've supported our books through the years.  And I always enjoy seeing what's new at the publisher booths.

We had a great time for my panel Tuesday afternoon, "What's New with Texas Middle Grade and YA Authors," organized by Susie Kralovansky, featuring Jessica Lee Anderson moderating, and fellow panelists Paige Britt, Cory Putnam Oakes, P.J. Hoover, Cynthia Levinson, Liz Garton Scanlon, Jennifer Mckissack, and Joy Preble.  Conversation was entertaining and enlightening.  

Many thanks to everyone who puts in the work to make TLA the best state library conference in the country!

Here are some pics:

Hitting the road
Rainy Houston from the hotel
Me, Cynthia Levinson, PJ Hoover
Carmen Oliver signs
Jennifer McKissack, Jennifer Ziegler, Joy Preble
Paige Britt and Donna Janell Bowman
Me and the world in the lobby of the Hilton
Janet Fox and Jennifer Ziegler
PJ, Jessica, and Joy
Me and Elaine Scott
Buffalo Bayou on my early morning run
Back in Austin!

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2. Come Meet LEE & LOW BOOKS at TLA 2016!

The Texas Library Association Annual Conference is next week and we’re so excited to meet everyone! The conference takes place in the George R. Brown Convention Center and LEE & LOW will be Booth #1746!

See below for our signing schedule as well as a few other events that our authors and illustrators will be participating in:

TLA 2016


Wednesday, April 20

Guadalupe Garcia McCall (Shame the Stars), 11:30 AM-12 PM,  Authors Area Aisle 3

Guadalupe Garcia McCall, 12:30-1:15 PM, booth #1746

Frank Morrison (Little Melba and Her Big Trombone), 3-3:30 PM

Thursday,  April 21

Lulu Delacre (Olinguito, from A to Z!), 9:30-10 AM, booth #1746

Frank Morrison, 9-9:30 AM, Authors Area Aisle 11

Pat Mora Signing (Water Rolls, Water Rises), 3-3:30 PM, Authors Area Aisle 11

TLA 2016 Now Signing



Tuesday, April 19

Donna Bowman Bratton (Step Right Up) @ the What’s New with Texas Authors and Illustrators for Elementary Readers? panel, 2-2:50 PM

Wednesday, April 20

Guadalupe Garcia McCall @ Spirit of Texas Reading Program, 2-3:50 PM, 362 BE, Level 3

Lee & Low Publisher Jason Low @ We Need Diverse Books…In Texas! panel, 4-5:20 PM

Frank Morrison @ Children’s Book Illustrators Ultimate Sketch-Off, 5-6:20 PM, Convention Center 370 A-F

Thursday, April 21

Pat Mora @ Diversity In Action with Elementary Literature panel, 10-11:50 AM

Friday, April 22

Lee & Low Marketing & Publicity Associate Keilin Huang @ Diverse and Digital: Ebooks, Bilingual Books, and More panel, 10-11:20 AM

Hope to see everyone there!


0 Comments on Come Meet LEE & LOW BOOKS at TLA 2016! as of 4/14/2016 1:53:00 PM
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3. TLA 2013!

Can I mention how wonderful this past week's Texas Library Association Conference was? Seriously, the state of Texas rocks and so do all the people in it! I seem to do best summarizing these things with pictures, so here we go!

A huge thank you to Tor for having me be a part of the conference!

The Tor booth. 
Yes, notice how SOLSTICE is right next to ENDER'S GAME?
OMG, Seriously!!!!! The ENDER'S GAME.

 Me with my Tor Teen editor, Susan Chang.
We did not intentionally dress as twins.

First up was a Young Adult Round Table panel talking about the appeal of dystopian stories to teens.

 From L to R: Marissa Meyer, Me, and Ilsa Bick

Our panel!
L to R: Joelle Charbonneau, Kristen Simmons, Marissa Meyer, Me, Ilsa Bick, and awesome librarian moderator Michelle Beebower

One of the best things about TLA and conferences in general is running into so many awesome people!

I met agent-sister Tessa Gratton for the first time and got THE VERY FIRST SIGNED ARC of her brand new YA, The Lost Sun! Be jealous.

 L to R: Jessica Lee Anderson, Me, and Cynthia Leitich Smith

I love catching up with Robin LaFevers! 
I got to congratulate her in person for her new YA, DARK TRIUMPH, hitting the NY Times bestseller list! 

I also managed to snag an ARC of Andrew Smith's new YA, WINGER!

 Finally got to meet A. G. Howard in person and gush to her about her fabulous book, SPLINTERED.

My time was packed with fun activities including:

Participating in the Texas Tea!

A group signing with Susan Kralovansky and fellow Texas Sweethearts Don Tate and Jessica Lee Anderson.

But the picture that makes me the happiest is this one, taken during my signing for SOLSTICE!
There is nothing quite like the support of friends! I adore all you guys so much!
L to R: Maria Cari Soto, Jen Bigheart, Kari Anne Holt, Jessica Lee Anderson, Me, Madeline Smoot, and E. Kristin Anderson

On a final note, I want to mention the breakfast because it was so delicious!

Here is where I ate.

Here is what I ate!

Here is who I ate with! 
L to R: Mari Mancusi, Me, Jo Whittemore, Jessica Lee Anderson, Kari Olson, and Kari's friend, Kelli

So that's a wrap. 
TLA, I miss you already, but I will see you again next year!

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4. Remembering South Street and celebrating Isaiah Zagar, in today's Philadelphia Inquirer

Last Friday I pushed away from the desk, went out into the air, and returned to South and Gaskill Streets. I rediscovered some of my own history. I talked with Julia Zagar about her husband's remarkable mosaics (Isaiah Zagar, Philadelphia's Magic Gardens). I remembered.

The story is here, in today's Philadelphia Inquirer. Huge thanks to Kevin Ferris and to Amy Junod, page designer, who used six of my photographs for this piece. I'm sort of overwhelmed. I'm very grateful. Thank you.

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5. 2015 Texas Library Association Conference Signing Schedule

The Texas Library Association Annual Conference is next week! Will you be there? If so, we’d love to meet you. Here is our exciting signing schedule below:

TLA 2015 Signing Schedule posterWednesday, April 15

Thursday, April 16

We’ll be at Booth 2051 and look forward to meeting you!

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We’re soon to touch down in one of our absolute favorite literary states for the Texas Library Association Conference in Austin! If there’s anything better than talking books, hanging out with authors and librarians, and enjoying sunshine and Shiners, then we don’t want to know about it.

If you’ll be in the Lone Star State, too, please swing by our booth, #1341, for galleys, giveaways, and face time with the HarperCollins Children’s Books School & Library team. We can’t wait to chat and put books in your hands.

But if you’re reading this thinking, “sure, you guys are nice, but we’re here to meet the AUTHORS, silly!” check out our top-notch signing schedule, here:

11:00am–12:00pm, Joy Preble, Aisle 7, Finding Paris
11:00am–12:00pm, Melissa Marr, Aisle 8, Made For You
12:00–1:00pm, Kiera Cass, Aisle 8, The Selection Series
1:00–2:00pm, Thanhha Lai, Aisle 8, Listen, Slowly
2:00–3:00pm, Dan Gutman, Aisle 8, Genius Files #5: License to Thrill
4:00–5:00pm, Lauren Oliver, Aisle 8, Vanishing Girls

10:00–11:00am, Sherry Thomas, Aisle 3, The Elemental Trilogy
11:30am–12:30pm, Neal & Brendan Shusterman, Aisle 1, Challenger Deep
2:00–3:00pm, Gordon Korman, Aisle 1, Masterminds
2:00–3:00pm, Julie Murphy, Aisle 2, Dumplin’ galleys
3:00–4:00pm, Becky Albertalli, Aisle 1, Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda

You don’t want to miss our coupon in the aisle by aisle guide, either! It points you to our booth for a free copy of BONE GAP, by Laura Ruby (*while supplies last), and a chance to enter to win a piece of framed original art by Jef Czekaj, from his upcoming picture book, AUSTIN, LOST IN AMERICA.

We can’t wait to see y’all!


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7. Hello, Austin!!

Texas Library Association,  April 13-15, 2011
WLT YA A to Z Conference April 15-17, 2011

I’ll be in Austin, TX for the Texas Library Association meeting April 13-15. I can’t wait! In addition to some food and drink opportunities, I’ll be speaking at the Lone Star Authors Shine panel Thursday morning  8:30—9:50am, and then signing at the Disney-Hyperion Booth 10-11 a.m.  
Check out all the awesome authors who’ll be at TLA:

Here’s more information about the conference

I’ll also be among a posse of YA authors, agents, and editors who will be appearing at the Writer’s League of Texas YA A to Z conference. Take advantage of an awesome assembly of talent! More information here.

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8. TLA Setup

I am excited to announce that I have survived my very first TLA setup day all by myself.  I've only been to TLA as part of Blooming Tree.  CBAY has never exhibited before, and it's very exciting to have enough books to fill a whole booth.  I posted some pictures over on Facebook if you're curious to see the booth.

My plan for this week is to do a bunch of tweets, Facebook, and video updates throughout the conference.  So, be sure you're subscribed to everything so you can see the fun!

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9. Texas Librarians Rock--I Cannot Lie!

Had a fabulous and energizing day at the Texas Library Association annual meeting in Austin. First off was the Lone Star Authors Shine panel with fellow Lone Stars James Dashner, Greg Taylor, Jordan Sonnenblick, Melissa Kantor, and Helen Frost. 
 That’s one of the best parts of this job—rubbing shoulders with awesome authors!
At the Disney-Hyperion booth, The Gray Wolf Throne arcs were a hot commodity. I enjoyed meeting hundreds of Texas librarians and re-acquainting myself with many more.

And then on to the Texas Teens for Literacy events. TLA does a fantastic job of getting teens involved in the conference. You could pick them out from their eye-catching yellow tee shirts. Why didn’t they have events like that when I was a teen? 
First, I was on a panel with authors Melissa Kantor and Sophie Jordan.
Then it was on to the Teen Mingle room, where the teens made me feel like a total rock star.
Bravo, Texas! Now on to the Writers’ League of Texas YA A to Z conference.   

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10. TLA treasures

I didn't go to TLA this year, but Capstone was there in full force. My boss was sent down to Austin with directions to not return unless he brought a signed copy of one of the Kylie Jean books for me. Our wonderful author Marci Peschke did a signing at the show, and the books were a huge hit--she signed over 200 copies.

The first thing Michael did this morning was hand this over to me. Yay!

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11. What I did at TXLA – the library version

Rally for Texas Libraries

So there are two reports about what I did in Austin, what I ate and what I did at TLA. Sometimes they overlap. That said, this is the what I did at TxLA post. The other one will be over at jessamyn.com. I’ll add a note here when I’ve posted it.

I went to TxLA to give a talk about the digital divide. I had done a talk the previous month for SXSW but really it was mostly me introducing my co-presenters and then letting them go. I have a little page for that here and you can listen to how it went here. I was pleased with it, but it wasn’t the talk I wanted to give for TxLA. Here is the talk that I gave for TxLA (an all new talk, one that I’m very happy with) and here is a blog-report of it. I felt like it went well, though one of the downsides to being at a giant conference is that a lot of the talks, even ones that I thought would be crazy popular, were only about half full. Here is what else I saw

  • The American Warn on Sex – Marty Klein has written a book by the same name. He does a terrific talk about how encroaching fundamentalism is causing people to basically self-censor in order to “be polite” and it’s shifting our ideas of what it means to be American, and how to participate civically. He’s a funny guy with a very professional talk and I think everyone should hire him to speak at their library conference.
  • I saw Aaron Schmidt’s talk on user experience. While I know the things Aaron talks about generally, I haven’t seen him give a talk in a long time and it was neat to get to see him really untangle what we can do to make our websites more usable.
  • I saw John Scalzi and a host of other authors on a Sci-Fi panel–Science Fiction: Beyond Earth’s Boundaries–which was great fun. I know John Scalzi online through MetaFilter and was mostly going to say hi. The panel itself turned out to be wonderful. Six very different authors who spoke briefly and then answered questions for an hour, talking about their craft and the world of epic fantasy and how they got into the business. Enthusiastic audience and a really great moderator made this a fun panel.
  • Library Book Cart Drill Team requires no additional explanation. Was terrific. It’s always terrific. Here’s a video you might like.
  • Did I mention that TXLA had an app and a very well-curated Twitter feed and hash tag? Both of them were great ways to see what was happening at the conference in real time. For people with non-app phones that could still use browsers, there was a really simple mobile site that functioned well. Big props to Chris Jowaisas for the work he did on this as a newish TLA member.
  • Oh I think I forgot to mention the rally! There was a huge Rally for Texas Libraries which happened on Wednesday. That’s what the photo is from. There were more librarians on the statehouse lawn than there ar in the entire state of Vermont. It was impressive, well-organized and well-planned. Short and to the point and they even got a few reps to come out and say a few things. I

    3 Comments on What I did at TXLA – the library version, last added: 4/19/2011
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12. New Voices: Crystal Allen

In HOW LAMAR’S BAD PRANK WON A BUBBA-SIZED TROPHY, 13-year-old Lamar is the maddest, baddest, most spectacular bowler at Striker’s Bowling Paradise but he seems to keep striking out with the ladies.  When an older kid talks Lamar into hustling at the bowling alley, he thinks it just may be his chance to get ahead.  Finding himself in trouble, Lamar realizes that sometimes the long way to success is better than the short cut.

In its starred review, Publishers Weekly said that “from the first sentence Lamar will have readers hooked.”

I have to admit that I have blatantly borrowed laugh-out-loud lines from Lamar.  My favorite?  “If I ever find the drama fairy who sprinkled all this drama dust in my life, I’ll personally pluck her wings.”  This debut novel is full of such gems and I dog-eared my galley every place where I snorted with laughter (hint: my copy was pretty heavily marked).

Speaking of gems, debut novelist Crystal Allen is one of them herself.  She recently joined us at the Texas Library Association conference, and we all adored her.  She is laugh-out-loud funny (much like Lamar) and her enthusiasm is contagious.  Want to know more about her?  Check out her website where you can get added to her mailing list and read fun trivia about her.  You can also friend Crystal on Facebook and read this great interview with Crystal at The Brown Bookshelf.

Let’s welcome Crystal to the school and library community!

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13. The TLA Report post

Last week, Cyn and I had the pleasure of attending the Texas Library Association Annual Conference in Houston!  Cynthia signed the TANTALIZE series with Candlewick and also with Perma Bound Books, and I had the pleasure of my first conference signing of CHRONAL ENGINE with Clarion/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.  It was great fun to meet librarians and fellow dinosaur enthusiasts!  They cleaned us out of books and postcards...

Wednesday was the Texas Tea YA Author event, sponsored by YART (essentially speed-dating: pairs of authors serially circulated at tables filled with Texas librarians).  I was paired with Mary Lindsey, whose novel, SHATTERED SOULS, has one of the best covers ever (at least, one of the best that doesn't have dinosaurs :-)).  We presented our books and swag -- in my case, postcards, author feature brochures, and temporary dinosaur tattoos -- and had some great conversations.

On Friday, Cyn was named the first featured Spirit of Texas author for high-school aged readers. Check out the page for activities, curriculum tie-ins, and fun! The featured middle-school author was Andrea White.

Encounters in the exhibit hall or various other venues included out-of-state authors Toni Buzzeo, John Green, Shannon Hale, Kelly Milner Halls, Geoff Herbach, David Lubar, Greg Neri, Dom Testa, and Sara Zarr; and Texans Lynne Kelly, Don Tate, Kathi Appelt, Christina Mandelski, Elaine Scott, Jeanette Larson, Cynthia Levinson, Madeline Smoot, Salima Alikhan, E. Kristin Anderson, Bethany Hegedus, Jessica Lee Anderson, Debbie Leland, P.J. Hoover, Mary Lindsey, Jennifer Ziegler, Chris Barton, Joy Preble, Kelly Bennett, Nikki Loftin, Anastasia Suen, Jo Whittemore, Jeff Crosby, and Shelly Ann Jackson; and countless librarians and publisher marketing and editorial personnel.

Thanks to everyone at YART and TLA, all of the librarians who came to the signings and events, and to the publicity teams at Candlewick and Houghton Mifflin!

Here are some photos:

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14. Texas Library Association Conference 2013 (#TXLA13)

Just back from the 2013 Texas Library Association Conference in Fort Worth! 

 First, some pics I took when I went running:

Reflected in doors of federal courthouse
Boarded up freight depot
Post office
Gorgeous art deco court building (foreground). New city hall (back)
Monument to JJ Burnett
A couple shots of publisher dinners:

Daniel Nayeri and onion ring mountain
Candlewick "family" dinner
Steak tartare

 And on the conference floor:

Spirit of Texas panel
Cyn and me and this awesome dinosaur book

Signing with E. Kristen Anderson and the Book Festivals of Texas booth
Kathi Appelt poses with her forthcoming release

Debbie Leland and Gingerbread Football guy
Cyn at the Mackin booth
Many thanks to all the publishers, librarians, organizers, sponsors, exhibitors, etc., for a fabulous event!  

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15. Updates from the Texas Library Association

I'm just wrapping up an awesome week at the Texas Library Association meeting. These Texas librarians rock! On Tuesday, I was on a panel of YA fantasy authors, entitled “Strong Voices, Other Worlds” with fellow authors Libba Bray, Suzanne Collins, John Flanagan, Jacqueline Kolosov, and moderated by Rick Riordan. Such smart, witty people—I just wanted to sit back and listen myself.

Rick asked us why we write fantasy fiction and Suzanne had an interesting answer. She said that sometimes an author can address issues in fantasy fiction that are too intense to deal with in YA realistic fiction. The element of fantasy provides a bit of a buffer, in a way.

We were asked about series vs. stand-alones. Series novels are common in fantasy. After going to all the trouble to create a fantasy world and magical system, we authors want to work it for awhile. My Heir series takes place in Ohio, so I didn’t exactly have to create a world, but some of us also don’t like to let go of our characters. That was what happened to me when I finished Warrior Heir. It would just be a lot more convenient if I planned things out more. By the time I get to Book 3, I’m thinking, “Well, if I’d known when I wrote Book 1 that this was going to happen in Book 3, I’d have set it up better. But Book 1 is already in print. I want to go out to bookstores and put sticky notes in The Warrior Heir.

Libba discussed how she created the strong female characters in her Victorian fantasy series, set in a time when women had little power. I could listen to John Flanagan’s Aussie accent all day. And Jacqueline discussed her dual role as college professor and fiction writer. Rick did a fantastic job as moderator. He was clearly a home-town favorite among the librarians in the audience.

Wednesday morning I attended the opening session, with Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson. I just kept thinking, Thank God I don’t have to keep up with them! Dave Barry could read the phone book and it would be hilarious. I looked around the auditorium to see thousands of librarians in black pirate eye patches. I think I’m going to adopt Dave Barry’s method of disciplining teens through the strategic use of embarrassment.

I passed by the hundreds of librarians lined up for Dave and Ridley’s signing on the way to my own, in the author area of the exhibits. I had lots of fun, meeting librarians from all over Texas, including Nancy McGinnis from Killian Middle School near Dallas. I’ll be visiting Killian at the end of May for a One Book, One School event.

Wednesday afternoon and Thursday, I visited 3 different middle schools in Coppell, Tx. More on that in my next entry.

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16. Reviewing the TLA Poetry Round Up

I’m still riding the high of my Poetry Round Up at the Texas Library Association conference this week! Five fabulous poets, John Frank, Juanita Havill, Alan Katz, Linda Sue Park, and Adam Rex, worked their magic on an audience of nearly 200 participants. It was fantastic! John Frank read from How to Catch a Fish and his new collection, Keepers, in his deep and steady voice. Juanita shared excerpts from her new novel in verse, Grow, that brought several audience members to tears. Alan Katz had us in stitches laughing over poems from his new book, Oops, and his upcoming follow up, Uh-Oh. What fun to feature Linda Sue Park as a POET as she read her sijo poems from Tap Dancing on the Roof, plus a brand new sijo on explaining baseball to an alien. And Adam Rex wrapped it up for us with his deadpan delivery accompanied by slides from his hysterical collection, Frankenstein Makes a Sandwich, as well as the upcoming sequel, Frankenstein Bakes a Cake. (Thank you ALL for coming and sharing!) [Unfortunately, poet Tracie Vaughn Zimmer was not able to come due to an illness, but we hope she is well soon and will join us for the Round Up next year!]

What fun! What variety! The different voices, styles, and approaches helped the audience see the tremendous range of poetry available for young people today. PLUS, the experience of HEARING poetry was moving and exhilarating. People stopped me throughout the rest of the conference to tell me how much they had enjoyed the session. One woman said, and I’m paraphrasing, “I loved just soaking up the words of the poets, sitting back and taking it all in. But I also realized that I was getting ideas about how to share the poems with kids, how to connect the poems with various activities, and get kids involved.” EXACTLY! We spend so much time at conferences attending informational sessions, learning new strategies, networking, etc. But so little time just reveling in literature, hearing the lyrical language of literature, remembering what motivates us all to work as librarians and teachers—sharing our love of literature with kids and hoping they’ll love it too. And in my experience, nothing captures that quite so well as experiencing the literature firsthand through reading and listening—especially to literature read by the creator. It’s primal!

I’m proud to say we’ve brought 26 poets to Texas over the last four years including: John Frank, Juanita Havill, Alan Katz, Linda Sue Park, Adam Rex, Jaime Adoff, Tony Crunk, Rebecca Kai Dotlich, Charise Mericle Harper, Heidi Zingerline Mordhorst, Eileen Spinelli, Marilyn Singer, Calef Brown, Felipe Herrera, Kathi Appelt, Nikki Grimes, Stephanie Hemphill, Carole Boston Weatherford, Walter Dean Myers, Joyce Sidman, Quincy Troupe, Lee Bennett Hopkins, Janet Wong, Kurt Cyrus, Pat Mora, Susan Pearson. What an embarrassment of riches! Each voice has been a delight. I encourage you all to seek out poets and poetry and share them OUT LOUD with kids you care about. There’s nothing quite like it. It’s like a rock concert experience, a night at the theater, or meeting the President (any president!).

Some of the most interesting literature for children today can be found in poetry-- from humorous rhymes to verse novels. How do we create a welcoming environment for poetry? Poet and teacher Georgia Heard put it this way, “Kids need to become friends with poetry…. They need to know that poems can comfort them, make them laugh, help them remember, nurture them to know and understand themselves more completely” (1999, p.20). This session helped participants become familiar with some of the best poets writing for young people today with a panel of acclaimed poets sharing favorites from their own work through reading aloud or performance. Modeled after the “Poetry Blast” session first sponsored by ALSC at the 2004 ALA convention, this session reminds us all of the pleasures to be found in the spoken word. Look for it again next year at TLA in Houston—and in Anaheim at the ALSC Poetry Blast on Monday, June 30. See you there!

Picture credit: www.rccsd.org

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17. End Days

We've come to the last day of TLA. I'm actually here in the convention center at the Maximum Ride Internet Room. Yep, that's right. Even something like the Texas Library Association manages to find corporate sponsorship for their stuff. No one is immune. I would like some corporate sponsorship for my corporation. It seems unlikely.

I was to tired to list the readers I was excited to get, but I've got a few moments until the exhibit hall opens, so I'll do it now.

  • Skulduggery Pleasant 2: Playing with Fire -- I'm not a big fan of sequels. I often love the first in a series only to be vaguely disappointed in the second book. Sometimes the third book redeems the series, sometimes it only makes it worse. However, in the case of Skulduggery 2, I liked it just as much as I liked the first book. The tone and voice are still just as witty and sarcastic. I actually found myself grinning on the train last night as I commuted back last night. I rarely make an expression while reading. And the story itself was still an exciting fun read. So, look for the book when it comes out. Atrocious new jacketing aside, it's going to be a fun book.
  • Hunger Games -- Collins Gregor the Underlander series (I forget the actual series title) would be an example of a series that fit the usual excellent first book/downhill from there series. Still, I know she can write a good first book, so I grabbed her new one, Hunger Games. Much to my glee, it's a science fiction real game story - kind of a survivor TV show with more violent outcomes. I read 80 pages on the train this morning, and now I don't want to man my booth but sit in a quiet little corner somewhere and finish the story.
  • Madapple -- This reader has been floating around for a while. It's apparently a brilliant but disturbing book that no one knows what to do with. I'm dying to read it.
Those are my top picks of readers, the ones I was most excited to find laying around for the taking.

But now it's back to Blooming Tree and our own books. This last day is only a half day, thank goodness, traditionally with a lot of last minute sales and networking. I have to say that contact-wise, this has been my most productive TLA yet. I met an author who is now going to work up a chapter book series proposal for me, and even some poetry that might be coming my way. I'm so pleased, that chills are running down my back. Or it's still just insanely cold in here.

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18. Flat Stanley

If you are a teacher, parent or librarian, you are probably aware of who Flat Stanley is and what it means to be presented with the opportunity to share your part of the world with a flattened version of your child, or a child you know.

My cousin's daughter - who is in the second grade - sent me a flattened version of herself and kindly asked me to share the sights of California with her (and her classmates). I was thrilled that she thought of me and even more excited to share with her the travel experiences that I was able to encounter on behalf of Kane/Miller.

I included photographs in the return shipment back to Armstrong Elementary from my recent trip to Dallas (TLA), Las Vegas (a personal adventure) and Atlanta (IRA).

The great thing about the Flat Stanley project is that it provides young people with the opportunity to learn about other parts of our world. I realized that this concept is not unlike the books Kane/Miller provides.

As a young reader, and even now, I love discovering new places and adventures while reading a book. Oftentimes I learn more about myself and the way others live in different parts of the world, or within our own country.

If you have a travel experience that you would like to share with Kane/Miller readers (especially if it ties in with a children's book), please do. We're always looking for more ways to invite young people to explore the world around them.

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19. Busy busy!

We’ve been busy (hence the lack of posts lately): Michael, Heather, and Joan were manning the booth at TLA, where they met with a ton of awesome librarians. Back at the ranch, the editorial and design staffs have been in the throes of finishing up our Fall 2009 books. About half of our 100 or so books for that season have been sent to the printer, and we’re already starting to see proofs (the last stage during which we can make changes).

While we’re all either flying across the country or spending lots of time at our desks, finishing up the season, we’ve all been thrilled to take some time out to enjoy the buzz about our Super Hero contest. (Check out our list of links, to the left.) I hear from the art department that the sketches for the book THE KID WHO SAVED SUPERMAN have just come in, and Bob, our art director, said he’s sure contest winner Hakeem is going to love seeing his likeness in the book.

We will be back soon with pics and a recap from TLA. In the meantime, check out the links and enjoy...and rest assured we’re busy making awesome books that’ll be available in less than four months!

(Administrative note: We’ve added some check boxes to each blog post. Please let us know what you think. We want this blog to provide what you’re looking for, so if you have additional comments or ideas, you can leave a comment or email me.)

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20. State Library Conference: Some Observations from the Trenches

I am freshly returned from the Texas Library Association Conference in Houston. I do not know the numbers in attendance, but if my observations were correct, there were thousands upon thousands.  Handouts from the sessions are available here for those of  you interested (http://www.txla.org/conference/handouts.html). Here are a few things I noticed:

1.  There were many of us using Twitter to provide some updates on sessions and hot books to be had.

2.  Facebook friending (and posting)  was occurring at an alarming rate.

3. Publishers were thrilled to see interest still in books as well as technology.

4. Authors were blogging and tweeting and posting to FB, too.

5. Librarians are eager to learn about anything they can use to keep teens (and kids) connected to learning. They brought along administrators and teachers this time.  You should have seen the wide eyes when those first-timers saw the bounty of the exhibits and the conference sessions. 


I guess this was an affirmation of a couple of  things I hold to be true but needed some evidence:  Web 2.0 is alive and well.  These apps can exist nicely alongside books. 


Posted by Teri Lesesne

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21. Four Most Powerful Words

TLA was simply amazing! Those aren’t the four most powerful words. But they come close. The Texas Library Association is a great chance for those of us who spend most of our life at quiet desks, tinkering with nouns and verbs, to meet the people who give life to books by connecting them with kids and readers. Librarians and media specialists are the best conversationalists you’ll ever meet. And I had some great conversations.

I talked with a woman who said she was finally able to raise a young student’s test scores because the girl became an enthusiastic reader of our Library of Doom series. In fact, the girl brought four of her friends into the school library to turn them on to the books too.

One media specialist thanked me because the Stone Arch books were the only books that one of her problem boy readers would pick up . . . and finish!

Joan Berge, the president of Stone Arch Books, Heather Kindseth, the creative director, and I hosted a breakfast focus group with a dozen librarians.1 We discussed everything from scary books to comic superheroes to the popularity of the Twilight series. 2

One day on the exhibit floor, scores of high-school students were roving in nomadic bands, hunting for advance copies and posters and fun giveaways3. It was fun to talk about graphic novels as well as traditional novels with these young people. They were so passionate about their favorite books.

The welcoming and literate and diverse crowd at the conference reminded me of my first introduction to Texas hospitality, when I worked at the Renaissance Festival outside Magnolia, Texas a number of years ago. I was part of a wandering troupe of players that would improvise stories yelled out from the crowd – “Rapunzel! Jason and the Golden Fleece! Cinderella! Ben Hur!4

It seems every time I’m in Texas I’m either telling a story or hearing one. I heard some great stories and anecdotes from the media professionals about the stories that our authors tell in our books. It was like a powerful chain reaction of literacy, or a massive Southern oak sprouting from a seedling. Oh, and those four most powerful words – tell me a story. Thanks to all the people who told me their stories in Houston this year.

Michael Dahl
Editorial Director

1 Why don’t they serve biscuits and gravy up here in Minneapolis? Yum!

2 Several librarians said that their girl patrons loved the books not because of the romance between Bella and Edward, but because of the vampires. Vampires, it seems, never lose their cool quotient.

3 We literally had girls (and boys!) screaming with excitement over our lenticular Superman/Batman bookmarks. I have to admit, they do look cool.

4 Uh, yes, one afternoon we improvised a version of Ben Hur. Complete with a chariot race and a sea battle of Roman warships.

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For 6 months now I've been working on a project with the Region IV Head Start Association's Executive Director, Myra Ingram.  Talk about inspiring!  I've visited Head Start classrooms, talked with parents and teachers and children and today we have a chance to make a bigger dream real.

My company, TLA, Inc., and Region IV Head Start Association are teaming up now for the Pepsi Refresh Project,  

Parents everywhere can relate to the idea that moms and dads want the very best for their child.  And in Head Starts across the SE, we have a chance to build upon what is already happening with family engagement to bring a new level of partnership between home and school.Learn more by visiting the Pepsi Refresh Pages for this project, watching the video and then voting.  Take a few minutes to then help us spread the word as broadly as possible (I'm telling EVERYONE on the earth that I know!)

There are several ways you can participate and make this dream possible:

to vote personally for the project (a quick registration is all you need).  Then bookmark the site and put a reminder on your phone or calendar to vote daily (30 votes are possible for this one project per person - one a day.  

2) Share this blog or the link through social networking sites like Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin and others.  Your connections plus ours make for great numbers.  Encourage as many of your friends as possible to vote daily as well. When you see someone else Tweeting this voting, retweet them too!

3) Offer voting by texting  (all regular texting fees apply):  Text* 102675 to Pepsi (73774).
 Again, daily votes prompted by a calendar reminder are great.  If you'd like an email remainder, request same by emailing TLA

4)  Reach your best friends, collagues and the nonprofit agencies (including Head Starts) throughout the SE states of AL, FL, GA, KY, MS, NC, SC, TN - they'll be learning about this opportunity to impacts them directly soon if they haven't already gotten the word.  Let's get everyone on the bandwagon to vote daily.  
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23. After Too Long An Absence . . .

Greetings from sunny Tampa and the National Title I Conference!

I'm pleased to say that family engagement is a hot topic this year at this conference and so it should be.  In addition to my session, Families and Educators:  A Joint Book Club Concept, there are at least five other presenters who are helping Title I teachers and other Title I staff attending to understand best practices and get a handle on this idea of authentically partnering with parents.


What I see happen too many times:

1) Educators and parents "in charge" (such as PTA/PTO leadership) don't take the time to talk to your average, every-day parent (the involved and the not involved).  Making them a part of the solution is essential!

2) Professional educators trying to teach families how to do the "academic stuff" that those teachers are teaching children in the classroom (and that those teachers went to school multiple years to master).  You may have some families interested in that, but I guarantee you are limiting your family engagement if you take that approach.  Use your curriculum mapping to look for complementary practical "real-life" activities you can involve families in, rather than duplication of academic practice.  You'll engage many more moms, dads, grandmas, uncles and community members AND children will hear the important message that LEARNING HAPPENS EVERYWHERE, NOT JUST AT SCHOOL.

Get Involved in the Conversation!

I'd love to hear from all of you out there (both attendees at this important conference and those who are "holding down the forts") on these questions:

1) What is the MOST EFFECTIVE family engagement activity/strategy you EVER saw work at your school?  What made it successful?

2) Why do you think parents aren't involved with their children's learning? 

You can add more insight by responding to a brief survey online.  Its findings will be the beginning of a new book on this important subject . . .

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24. Texas Library Association Conference

Around the office, we refer to this time of year as “Conference Season”.  You’ll see why – here’s the schedule:

April: Texas Library Association Conference
May: International Reading Association Conference
May: SLJ Day of Dialog/BEA
June: ALA Annual Conference

It’s crazy…but we also have lots of fun.  First up is TLA in Austin where we have a phenomenal line-up of authors signing with us:

Wednesday, April 13th
10:15 am – 11:00 am Pat Mora (author aisles)
10:15 am – 11:00 am Rafael Lopez (author aisles)
11:30 am – 12:30 pm Lauren Oliver (author aisles)
12:30 pm – 1:30 pm Will Hobbs (author aisles)
12:30 pm – 1:30 pm Bettina Restrepo (author aisles)
1:30 pm – 2:00 pm Crystal Allen (Harper booth 1824)
2:00 pm – 2:30 pm Sophie Jordan (Harper booth 1824)
2:30 pm – 3:00 pm Tera Lynn Childs (Harper booth 1824)
3:00 pm – 3:30 pm Suzanne Harper (Harper booth 1824)

Thursday, April 14th
9:00 am – 10:00 am Diane Stanley (author aisles)
11:30 am – 12:00 pm Jason Henderson (Harper booth 1824)
2:00 pm – 2:30 pm Jennifer Archer (Harper booth 1824)
2:00 pm – 3:30 pm Kevin Henkes (author aisles)
3:00 pm – 3:30 pm Don Tate and Audrey Vernick (Harper booth 1824)

And don’t miss JAMIE LEE CURTIS as the Keynote Speaker on Wednesday, April 13th at 9:00 am!

Aside from our outstanding authors, we’ll have galleys galore at our booth (#1824) and we hope you’ll stop by to say hi to Patty, Robin, and me!

See you in Texas!

~ Laura

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25. New Voices: Bettina Restrepo

When Nora’s father, Arturo leaves their home in Mexico to search for work in the United States, Nora stays back with her mother, Aurora and her grandmother. Nora struggles to make sense of her loss as the three women live in abject poverty in wait of Arturo’s return and a better day. When the letters and money stop coming, Nora decides that she and Aurora must go to Texas to find Arturo. After a harrowing and dehumanizing border crossing experience, Nora and Aurora find themselves all alone in a new place and not speaking the language. Befriending kind strangers in Texas, the two are offered employment after purchasing work papers, but their life in America is filled with challenges.

In her debut novel for teens, ILLEGAL, Bettina Restrepo shares a slice of the American experience that is compelling and harrowing, yet hopeful and uplifting.

In its starred review, Booklist said:

“The teen’s immediate first-person narrative will grab readers with its gritty specifics, honest anger and sorrow, and the small acts of kindness that occur throughout the harrowing journey.”

Get to know Bettina – this certainly isn’t the last you’ll be hearing of her!  You can meet her at the Texas Library Association conference next month: she’ll be on the “Crossing the Border: Migrant Stories” panel on Wednesday, April 13th from 10:15-11:50 am, and she’ll sign in the author aisles afterward from 12:30-1:30 pm.  Stop by to say hi!

Bettina is also on Facebookand Twitter, and make sure to check out her website for information on school visits,  discussion questions for ILLEGAL, and a list of events.

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