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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: Kate Milford, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 1 - 14 of 14
1. Holiday Book Favorites with Sherri L. Smith, Author of The Toymaker’s Apprentice

Sherri L. Smith, author of The Toymaker's Apprentice, selected these five holiday book favorites.

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2. Gift Books: Page-Turning Books for All Ages

When possible, give the gift of books for birthdays, baby showers, or any other celebration that requires a present—books are special and therefore worthy of special occasions.

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3. Video Sunday: Sneaky Peeks Edition, Part 2

You know, it’s been a while since I showed you some of the fan-freakin’-tastic Wild Things videos we’ve been playing on the old Wild Things: Acts of Mischief in Children’s Literature website.  I know some of you haven’t gone over to it lately so I’ll make it easy for you.  Here’s a quickie synopsis of everyone since the last time I wrote them up on this blog.  In order:

Dan Santat on Beekle:

Tom Angleberger on The Qwikpick Papers:

Andrea Davis Pinkney on The Red Pencil:

CeCe Bell on El Deafo:

Duncan Tonatiuh on Separate Is Never Equal:

Barbara Kerley on A Home for Mr. Emerson:

Kate Milford on Greenglass House:

Nikki Loftin on Nightingale’s Nest:

Sergio Ruzzier on A Letter for Leo:

And finally, Candace Fleming on The Family Romanov:

There are a couple more coming and then we’ll be kaputski!  Woohoo!

share save 171 16 Video Sunday: Sneaky Peeks Edition, Part 2

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4. Best Kids’ Books of 2014

No, I'm sorry, it's impossible. The best kids' books of 2014? The best? Can't do it. There have been entirely too many exceptional examples of the smart, the hilarious, the exciting, the heartfelt, and the downright weird. To think we could pick just a handful and call them the absolute best for the whole 12 [...]

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5. 2015 Edgar Award Winners Revealed

theedgarsThe Mystery Writers of America have revealed the 2015 Edgar Award winners. According to the press release, the announcements were made at the organization’s 69th gala banquet.

This annual prize, named after beloved writer Edgar Allan Poe, was established in 1945 to honor the best authors within the mystery genre. Below, we’ve posted the full list of winners.

2015 Edgar Award Winners

Best Novel: Mr. Mercedes by Stephen King

Best First Novel by an American Author: Dry Bones in the Valley by Tom Bouman

Best Paperback Original: The Secret History of Las Vegas by Chris Abani

Best Fact Crime: Tinseltown: Murder, Morphine, and Madness at the Dawn of Hollywood by William Mann

Best Critical/Biographical: Poe-Land: The Hallowed Haunts of Edgar Allan Poe by J.W. Ocker

Best Short Story: “What Do You Do?” (from The Rogues Short Story Collection) by Gillian Flynn

Best Juvenile: Greenglass House by Kate Milford

Best Young Adult: The Art of Secrets by James Klise

Best Television Episode Teleplay: “Episode 1″ (from the Happy Valley teleplay) by Sally Wainwright

Simon & Schuster-Mary Higgins Clark Award: The Stranger You Know by Jane Casey

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6. Fusenews: Gravel in the bed

“If kids like a picture book, they’re going to read it at least 50 times, and their parents are going to have to read it with them. Read anything that often, and even minor imperfections start to feel like gravel in the bed.” – Mark Haddon

I’ve just returned from speaking at a magnificent writing retreat weekend at Bethany Hegedus’s Writing Barn in Austin, Texas.  That quote was one that Bethany read before Alexandra Penfold’s presentation and I like it quite a lot.  Someone should start a picture book blog called “Gravel In the Bed”.  If you need a good treat, I do recommend The Writing Barn wholeheartedly.  The deer alone are worth the price of admission.  And if you’ve other children’s book writing retreats you like, let me know what they are.  I’m trying to pull together a list.

  • I just want to give a shout out to my girl Kate Milford. I don’t always agree with the ultimate winners of The Edgar Award (given for the best mysteries) in the young person’s category but this year they knocked it out of the park. Greenglass House for the win!
  • As you know, I’m working on the funny girl anthology FUNNY GIRL and one of my contributors is the illustrious Shannon Hale.  She’s my personal hero most of the time and the recent post Boos for girls just nails down why that is.  Thanks to bookshelves of doom for the link.

Not too long ago I was part of a rather large gathering based on one of my blog posts.  The artist Etienne Delessert saw a piece I’d written on international picture books and how they’re perceived here in the States.  So what did he do?  He grabbed local consulates, flew in scholars, invited friends (like David Macaulay) and created an amazing free day that was hugely edifying and wonderful.  You can read the SLJ report We need more international picture books, kid lit experts say or the PW piece Where the Wild Books Are: A Day of Celebrating Foreign Picture Books or the Monica Edinger recap International Children’s Books Considered.  Very interesting look at these three different perspectives.  And, naturally, I must thank Etienne for taking my little post so very far.  This is, in a very real way, every literary blogger’s dream come true.  Merci, Etienne!

  • There’s a lot of joy that can come when when a British expert discusses their nation’s “forgotten children’s classics“.  The delightful Oxford Companion to Children’s Literature is out and its editor Daniel Hahn has recapped the books that he feels don’t get sufficient attention in Britain.  Very funny to see one of our American classics on this list (I won’t ruin which one for you).
  • How do we instill a sense of empathy in our kids?  Have ‘em read Harry Potter.  Apparently there’s now research to back that statement up.  NPR has the story.
  • Ooo. Wish I lived in L.A. for this upcoming talk.  At UCLA there’s going to be a discussion of Oscar Wilde and the Culture of Childhood that looks at his fairytales.  It ain’t a lot of money.  See what they have to say.
  • Because of I have ample time on my hands (hee hee hee hee . . . whooo) I also wrote an article for Horn Book Magazine recently.  If you’ve ever wondered why we’re seeing so many refugees from the animation industry creating picture books, this may provide some of the answers.
  • Over at the blog Views From the Tesseract, Stephanie Whelan has located a picture book so magnificent that it should be reprinted now now now.  Imagine, if you will, a science fiction picture book starring an African-American girl . . . illustrated by Leo and Diane Dillon.  Do you remember Blast Off?

Of course you don’t.  No one does.  Stephanie has the interiors on her site.  And since the number of books that show African-American girls as astronauts are . . . um . . . okay, I’ve never seen one.  Plus it’s gorgeous and fun.  REPRINT REPRINT REPRINT!

  • Speaking of girls in space, I’ve never so regretted that a section was cut from a classic book.  But this missing section from A Wrinkle in Time practically makes me weep for its lack.  I WISH it had been included.  It’s so very horribly horribly timely.
  • As you’ll recall, the new math award for children’s books was established.  So how do you submit your own?  Well, new submissions for 2015 (and looking back an additional five years) will begin to be received starting June 1st. So FYI, kiddos.
  • Daily Image:

Know a librarian getting married?  Or an editor?  Or an author?  Gently suggest to them these for their registry.

Thanks to Stephanie Whelan for the link.


3 Comments on Fusenews: Gravel in the bed, last added: 5/4/2015
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7. Upcoming: The Mt. Airy Kids' Literary Festival at the Big Blue Marble Bookstore

Spring is here, the blues are bluing at Chanticleer, and this coming weekend I'll be joining a cast of very special writers—Wendy Mass, Audrey Vernick, Stevie French, Jennifer Hubbard, Ellen Jensen Abbot, Nancy Viau, and Amy Holder among them—for the Mt. Airy Kids' Literary Festival at the Big Blue Marble Bookstore.  My event takes place on Saturday, April 9, at 3 PM, and I'll be sharing the mike and hour with the talented Kate Milford (The Boneshaker).  More information can be found here.

1 Comments on Upcoming: The Mt. Airy Kids' Literary Festival at the Big Blue Marble Bookstore, last added: 4/6/2011
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8. The best audience member ever

 Is he not precious?  And wasn't he sweet to sit so attentively while the delightful Kate Milford (The Boneshaker) and I sat chatting at the Big Blue Marble Bookstore earlier this afternoon.  I learned about steam punk today and all manner of bicycle-powered things.  I grew nostalgic for dirigibles.  I walked Mt. Airy afterward—through the wide streets and down into a tip of Fairmount Park. 

Thank you, Maleka Fruean, for being our most gracious host.  It was a lovely (superbly sunny) afternoon.

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9. My good book fortune(s)

I'm not quite sure who this lovely lady is—Dionysus, I'm guessing—but I found her standing tall within a Philadelphia street festival, utterly and peaceably alone above the crowds (she was stilts-assisted). I return to her on this rainy morning because I feel her mood. Because I have looked out upon my pile of unread books and determined my short-term future.

Having just left Cleopatra (Stacy Schiff) in her tragic, epic Alexandria, I turn toward next titles. Some of them I've read before and will be re-reading. Some are brand-new both to the world and to me. Some are written by friends or friends of friends, one by a Pulitzer Prize winner who once surprised me with a glorious response to my Chicago Tribune review of her March, some by people I doubt I'll ever meet; two were gifts. I feel decadent, to be honest, to have found this time to read. But I have it; I'm claiming it; it will be forever mine.

My au courant (can I use that term this way?) book list, then:

Sweet Dreams, DeWitt Henry
When We Danced on Water, Evan Fallenberg (a Kindle book—about dance! about Berlin! Becca recommended!)
Dreamland Social Club, Tara Altebrando
Caleb's Crossing, Geraldine Brooks
A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, Dave Eggers
The Origin of Stories, Brian Boyd
Moments of Being, Virginia Woolf
The Liars' Club, Mary Karr
Touchy Subjects, Emma Donoghue
The Blue Flower of Forgetfulness, Cyrus Samii
The Boneshaker, Kate Milford

Stay tuned for my responses.

3 Comments on My good book fortune(s), last added: 5/19/2011
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10. Fusenews: At the sign of the big yellow fuse

  • Ain’t he just the sweetest thing?  Author/illustrator Aaron Zenz recently wrote just the loveliest ode to his four top favorite children’s literary blogs, and then went and created original art for each.  In my case he created this little Fuse guy (or possibly Fuse gal) based on the bright yellow Fuse you see at the beginnings of each of my posts (I put it there in lieu of my face because I can only look at myself so often before going stark raving mad).  This, I should point out, is not the first time a little Fuse person has been created for this blog.  Katherine Tillotson, an artist of outstanding ability (I’m biased but it also happens to be true) created not one but TWO little Fusemen in the past, both for separate birthdays.

I’m a fan.  So thank you Aaron and, once again, thank you Katherine.  Fusemen of the world unite!

  • *sniff sniff*  Smell that?  That’s the distinctive odor of a brouhaha brewing.  Sort of a combination of burnt hair, dead goldfish and patchouli.  And you wonder why I don’t cover YA books.  Sheesh!  One word: drama.  Seems that a YA blog called Story Siren plagiarized the work of others for her own blog posts.  Folks noticed and suddenly the internet was was heaping helpful of flames, burns, accusations, and other forms of tomfoolery.  For a sane and rational recap we turn to our own Liz Burns who gives us the run down in Today’s Blog Blow Up.  Ugly stuff.
  • And while we’re on the subject of YA (which I just said I don’t cover, and yet here we are), I thought we were done with whitewashing, folks.  So what’s up with this?  Harlequin Teen, you got some explaining to do.
  • In other news, book banning: It’s what’s for dinner.  Take a trip with me to The Annville-Cleona School District where a picture book fondly nicknamed by some as Where’s the Penis? is getting some heat.  If you’ve ever seen The Dirty Cowboy by Amy Timberlake, illustrated by Adam Rex, then you know that calling it “pornographic” works only if you are unaware of what the word “pornography” actually means.  I would like to offer a shout-out to librarian Anita Mentzer who has handled the whole situation with class and dignity.  You, madam, are the kind of children’s librarian others should aspire to be.  Well done.  And thanks to Erica Sevetson for the link.
  • We may not yet have an ALA accredited poetry award for a work of children’s literature but that doesn’t mean we can’t have a Poet Laureate or two instead.  Rich Michelson, gallery owner and

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11. My Admittedly Biased Holiday Book-Buying Guide

What to read, what to read?

There are a ridiculous number of books out there. It’s beyond intimidating. It is to me, at least. I’m not a particularly fast reader. I linger. I soak in the language and the story. I give up on a lot of books, not because life is short but because some books are damn long. And boring. I read from the bestseller list occasionally, and I check off a few cultural touchstones. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn √ The Fault in Our Stars by John Green √ Life by Keith Richards √ Rin-Tin-Tin by Susan Orlean √ A Song of Fire and Ice Vol. 1-3 by George R.R. Martin √√√ But most of the time, I flounder. I hardly ever know what to read next.

Sometimes I force noble projects upon myself. Read some classic mysteries, try some Booker Prizer winners, delve into some epic poetry from East Timor–you know, that sort of thing. I don’t always enjoy it. So recently I tried a different tack. I decided to go local. By local I mean I focused on books by authors I personally know, have met in my online social media adventures, or have heard about through the gossipy cabals that secretly rule children’s book publishing. I was so glad that I did.

Below I will share some of the engrossing and oft-overlooked middle-grade and young-adult books that I have enjoyed during the last few months. You can find their plot summaries anywhere, so I’ll focus on a few thoughts and feelings these books stirred in me. Perhaps it’ll inspire you to buy one or two for your friends, family or self. I realize this humble post won’t generate tons of sales for the authors, but if I can help at least one of them become a rich and ruthless media mogul with the ability to make and break men with a snap and a whistle, then it’s all worth it. So, without further ado…

The Boneshaker by Kate Milford. I knew of Kate’s book before I knew of her. That cover! A man with fire for hair! Burning fairgrounds! Miscellaneous creepiness! When I met Kate, I had to apologize. “I’ve been meaning to read that book,” I told her. She was kind. She didn’t say, “Well then get to it, Champ! I need more money for bourbon.”  (Or perhaps she did say that–details are hazy). In any case, when I did get around to reading the book, I was greeted with an elegant slice of Americana. A headstrong girl learns to ride a very difficult bike while finding time to challenge the devil himself. Automata, demon dolls, guitar pickin’ contests, what’s not to like? The book has received the inevitable comparisons to Bradbury’s Something Wicked This Way Comes but I like to look at it as historical fiction run through a hand-cranked nightmare projector. Yes, it’s world building, but it’s also world restoration–wiping the mud off the weird bric-a-brac and giving it new uses. Kate has two companion volumes currently out: the novella The Kairos Mechanism and the just-released The Broken Lands.

Trapped by Michael Northrop. I’ve tossed back a few beers with Michael in my day. A fine lad with a gregarious laugh. He’s also the creator of a remarkably taut and realistic thriller. Growing up in the snowbelt of upstate New York, I know a thing or three about blizzards and the existential yearnings of suburban youth from cloudy communities. I also know more than enough about survival–we did, after all, have a “Survival Unit” in my seventh grade science class. So I can tell you that when Michael traps a bunch of teenagers in a snowbound high school, his details are spot on (n.b. Michael only traps fictional teenagers in snowbound high schools…as far as I know). I was expecting melodrama. What I got was far more surprising. Michael’s latest, Rotten, will be out in the spring and stars a rottweiler named Johnny Rotten. I just hope there’s a “never mind the bullocks”/neutering joke in there.

Imaginary Girls by Nova Ren Suma. Nova is truly a friend to all writers (as her never-ending and always-fascinating blog series attests) and one of the most dedicated authors of young adult fiction out there. Her lyrical, haunting tale of ghosts and sisterhood and the recklessness of rural youths is unlike anything on the market. In a way, you could call it a romance, but it’s not the girl-meets-swoonworthy-monster-man treacle we’ve all tired of. It’s about the romance of power, of being a big fish in a small pond (or reservoir, in this case). It’s about the twists of love and jealousy that bind together and choke families and small communities. It’s about 350 pages long. Nova’s new novel, 17 & Gone, is on the horizon. I’ve read the first chapter. Beautiful, scary stuff.

The Mostly True Story of Jack by Kelly Barnhill. I remember reading a fantastic early review of this book and since Kelly was someone I followed on Twitter, I thought I should check it out. I read the first chapter online and…gulp. This is the brand of middle-grade fiction that most people don’t know exists: dark, risky and intellectual. The set-up seems typical enough: new boy in town, mysteries to uncover. But when the perspectives start shifting and things get botanical and pagany, you realize you’re reading a story about the gnarly roots underneath, and not just the literal type. It’s a modern folk tale, but not in a jokey or revisionist way, which means it has guts to spare (as well as some tree sap). Kelly’s new fairy tale, Iron-Hearted Violet, is also getting great buzz.

The Dead Gentleman by Matthew Cody. Matt and I met when we were both debut authors, in the long ago year of MMIX (I’m pretty sure they only used Roman numerals back then). He told me that he was working on a book inspired by H.G. Wells and Jules Verne and featuring time travel, monsters in the closet and dinosaurs. I was obviously intrigued. When I finally had the chance to read the finished product, I was thrilled to find a yarn that was both pulpy and dripping with Victorian ambiance, a rip-roaring adventure of the old mold. If they make a movie of it, they should resurrect Ray Harryhausen to do the special effects. In case you haven’t heard, Matt’s Super is now out. It’s a sequel to his delightful anti-superhero tale Powerless.

The Marbury Lens by Andrew Smith. I don’t know Andrew, but my agent recommended I check out one of his latest. The cover promises some sort of steampunky or sci-fi adventure, along the lines of this or this. But it’s not really like those other books at all (at least I don’t think it is). It’s a psychological horror tale, about how trauma lays waste to our worlds. People are undoubtedly calling it dystopian fiction, but that’s not accurate either. What’s disintegrating here is not society, but the mind. And the book has one of the most spectacularly tense openings of anything I’ve read in years. Andrew’s sequel, Passenger, just hit shelves. Not for the faint of heart or stomach I bet, but riveting I’m sure.

Bigger Than a Breadbox by Laurel Snyder. I’d been meaning to check this one out for a while, ever since I noticed it was being published around the same time as The Only Ones. But I lollygagged, and Laurel beat me to the punch by reading my book first and writing a lovely review of it. So I immediately went out and got a copy of hers. I fired through it in three evenings and found myself nostalgic for my early reading experiences. I was weened on the junior versions of magical realism like The Indian in the Cupboard and Laurel’s book certainly lives up to that tradition. But its real magic is its plainspoken and intimate portrayal of a family falling to pieces and it made me remember what I’ve always truly cared about in fiction: emotion, confusion, difficult questions that don’t always have answers. I’ve never met Laurel, but I’ve learned through her Twitter feed that she’s working on a prequel of sorts. If it’s as poised and well-crafted as this one, I can’t wait to read it. In the meantime, we can all pick up her picture book The Longest Night when it arrives in February, right before Passover.

Because of Mr. Terupt by Rob Buyea. I sat next to Rob at the Collingswood Book Festival in October. He was passing through, on his way north to join his wife for their wedding anniversary, and he only had a couple of hours to meet his fans. He was greeted by an enthusiastic class of local 5th-graders who were reading this debut novel and were desperate for the author’s autograph. He signed a few dozen copies and prepared to hit the road. I trusted the kids’ endorsement, so I also had Rob sign a copy for me as he left. I read the book a few weeks later, by candlelight during the Hurricane Sandy blackout. I understood immediately what made him such a rock-star to these kids (and to their teacher). Rob has written an ideal book for the classroom, a story about a variety of children with conflicting perspectives and motivations, about mistakes, about the importance of forgiveness and understanding. It’s a thoughtful tale and he continues it in his second book, Mr. Terupt Falls Again. Assign this one to your fourth or fifth grade class and you’re sure to have hours of discussions.

So there you have it, my admittedly biased holiday book-buying guide. Each of these novels is available in paperback, so they can be had for less than ten bucks. Stuff a stocking, why don’t you?

1 Comments on My Admittedly Biased Holiday Book-Buying Guide, last added: 12/5/2012
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12. Michelle, Critique Group & Publishing Industry News

Don’t care which political side you are on, this is very cute!

New critique group forming for picture book, middle grade, and YA writers in Bergen County. WHERE AND WHEN: Initial meeting will be on Monday, March 11th at 7:30 pm at the Upper Saddle River Library– 245 Lake Street. Future meetings and group goals will be discussed and formulated that night.
INTERESTED? Contact SCBWI member Nona Maher at nona.maher@gmail.com

Eliza Wheeler’s illustrations’s for Kate Milford’s LEFT-HANDED FATE, a nautical fantasy set in 1813 about the wars in the Atlantic was sold to Noa Wheeler at Holt Children’s, for publication in Fall 2014. Eliza was featured on Illustrator’s Saturday.  Here’s the link: http://wp.me/pss2W-3Kp

At Pippin Properties, Elena Mechlin has been named literary agent and will continue managing the agency’s foreign and audio rights.

At Harlequin’s Love Inspired imprint, Giselle Regus has been promoted to assistant editor.

Amy Tannenbaumhas joined the Jane Rotrosen Agency as a literary agent. She was previously an editor at Atria, and will represent new adult, romance, and commercial women’s fiction authors.

Avideh Bashirrad has been promoted to vp, associate publisher for the Random House and Dial Press imprints, reporting to Susan Kamil.

At Harlequin, Mira executive editor Valerie Gray will retire at the end of March after more than 13 years with the company. As a result, Tara Parsons will move into that role in addition to her duties as executive editor for HQN and Luna. Also at Mira, Nicole Brebner has been promoted to senior editor, while both Leonore Waldrip and Michelle Venditti move up to assistant editor (Waldrip will also work on HQN titles.)

In addition, Susan Swinwood has been promoted to executive editor, HQN and Luna, while Margo Lipschultz moves up to senior editor. Finally, Emily Martin has been promoted to director of overseas publishing for the company.

Grand Central’s romance imprint Forever and their companion digital imprint Forever Yours will expand to publish 120 titles in 2013 and more than 190 titles in 2013 — up from 64 titles in 2012 — as part of a “major initiative” celebrating the imprint’s 10th anniversary. Forever will also add editorial and marketing staff.

Illustrator Hazel Mitchel, who was featured on Illustrator Saturday http://wp.me/pss2W-2pf sent in this book promotion opportunity:

Do you have a book on cows or ice cream? This may be of interest to you:

“One of my PR clients is a large homemade ice cream stand in Swansea, Mass. I am organizing a spring book fair and would like to have authors of cow and ice cream-related books appear for a book signing/ ice cream festival.

Also, we are going to have other signings throughout the spring, summer and early fall and would love to showcase your talent – free of charge. You will also get a free ice cream cone!

Please email me offline if your are interested in participating. The creamery is located about 20 mins. east of Providence and on weekends sells about 1,300 cones a day.


Talk tomorrow,


Filed under: authors and illustrators, Editor & Agent Info, News, opportunity, Publishing Industry Tagged: book signing opportunity, Elena Mechlin, Harlequin, Hazel Mitchell, Kate Milford, Liza Wheeler

2 Comments on Michelle, Critique Group & Publishing Industry News, last added: 2/25/2013
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13. Fusenews: All you need is love (and books before the age of 3)


No reason in particular I wrote that word.  I just like to say “Zounds!” from time to time. Onward!

  • I initially misread this post as “Summer Reading Takes a Hit From Online Scanning and Skimming Researchers Say” (which shows you where my mind is these days).  It’s not “Summer” but Serious Reading Takes a Hit From Online Scanning and Skimming Researchers Say.  I am not dead to the irony of linking to such a piece within a post where the entire purpose is to skim and scan.  That said, I’m just grateful that summer reading isn’t taking that hit.  Now THAT would be a catastrophe.  Thanks to Wayne Roylance for the link.
  • I’m about a week behind in all my news, so you probably saw this long ago.  But just in case you didn’t I was amused by this mash-up of Syd Hoff/Richard Scarry and some very adult novels.  Here’s the link and here’s one of the images in question:

TheRoadHoff Fusenews: All you need is love (and books before the age of 3)


  • It wouldn’t be the first time Mac Barnett and Daniel Handler have appeared on the same panel.  Heck, it probably wouldn’t even necessarily be the best time but there’s nothing like an imminent birth to make a person want to attend the 2014 ALSC National Institute. Aside from the great guests, folks get to go to a place called Children’s Fairyland.  I went to see whether or not I’d added the attractions there to my Complete Listing of All Public Children’s Literature Statues in the United States and found that I had not yet.  I think on maternity leave I go back to updating that post.  It’s 75% done.  Just need to keep adding on suggestions (and I see that the Albany Public Library turned it into a Pinterest board, which is rather fascinating in and of itself).
  • I was fascinated by the recent ShelfTalker post To Host or Not to Host?  The gist of it is that local authors will often ask a bookstore to host an event for their book.  No big surprise there, except what do you do when they’ve published through Amazon?  The back and forth in the comments is worth your time and money.
  • Good old Rocco Staino wrote up the recent celebratory 90-Second Newbery hosted at NYPL.  The gist of the article is quite clever too.  I had noticed vaguely, but without putting it together, that this year’s film festival featured a lot of forgotten Newbery book winners.  I mean, does anyone at all remember The Old Tobacco Shop: A True Account of What Befell A Little Boy in Search of Adventure?  And I blush to say it, but I had no idea that Anne Carroll Moore won a Newbery Honor back in the day.  Wowzah.  How is THAT fact not better known?
  • Yay, Tea Cozy!  Liz Burns does a really good and in-depth look at a recent Entertainment Weekly article that discussed the sheer lack of diversity in our child and teen books these days.
  • Bluecrowne 341x500 Fusenews: All you need is love (and books before the age of 3)There are certain authors on this good green globe that make the world a more interesting place by simply being here. Years ago when I read Kate Milford’s The Boneshaker, I knew she was one of those few. The fascinating thing about Kate is that she’s always writing. Even when her characters aren’t making it into books published by traditional publishers, they’re living their lives in books funded by Kickstarter. Now Kate’s got a new book on the horizon called Bluecrowne that I’d be dying to read, and at the same time she has a book that’s kinda sorta related coming out in August called The Green Glass House. I really need to read that August title, but I’d love to see her publish the Bluecrowne book as well. So if you’ve some jingle in your jeans and like her work (or even if you’re just simply interested in what she has going on) check out her Kickstarter project here.
  • Thanks to a push in Britain to stop promoting gendered toys for kids, the focus has moved a bit to books for kids as well.  I know I’m not the only person in the world who shudders every time she sees a book spell out on its cover that it’s just “For Boys” or “For Girls”.  Just as I grind my teeth when the toy store tells me the same dang thing.  A not so hotso article in a Philadelphia magazine yielded a pretty darn good conversation in its comments.  The article itself is one of those rabble rouser pieces that throw words like “Orwellian” around higglety pigglety.  The comments from Let Toys Be Toys focus everything and keep the conversation civil.  Thanks to PW Children’s Bookshelf for the link.
  • And speaking of gender . . . Anyone out there familiar with Sheila Hamanaka’s picture book I Look Like a Girl?  I wasn’t and I only knew Ms. Hamanaka’s name because of her All the Colors of the Earth.  Well over at Bank Street College of Education’s school the kids got a little passionate about the messages they get from books sometimes.  Here’s the part one and part two of the kids and their reactions/interpretations.  Wowzah.
  • Some folks know that before I decided to become a children’s librarian I played with the notion of heading into conservation instead.  Now my worlds collide as I present to you a recent NYPL post on what it takes to take care of Winnie-the-Pooh and friends.  Stuffed Animal Husbandry, for the record, is the perfect title.
  • Daily Image:

I’m actually doing very well on Daily Images these days.  Perhaps too well.  I was all set with the image for today but that was before I saw this.  It’s a link that will instruct you on the finer details of creating your very own one-of-a-kind Hobbes doll.

HobbesDoll1 500x365 Fusenews: All you need is love (and books before the age of 3)

HobbesDoll2 Fusenews: All you need is love (and books before the age of 3)

I ain’t crafty but that, my friends, is just about the cutest thing I’ve ever seen.

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14. Review of the Day: Greenglass House by Kate Milford

Greenglass Review of the Day: Greenglass House by Kate MilfordGreenglass House
By Kate Milford
Clarion Books (an imprint of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
ISBN: 978-0-544-05270-3
Ages 9-12
On shelves August 26th

When I was a kid I had a real and abiding love of Agatha Christie. This would be around the time when I was ten or eleven. It wasn’t that I was rejecting the mysteries of the children’s book world. I just didn’t have a lot to choose from there. Aside from The Westing Game or supernatural ghostly mysteries sold as Apple paperbacks through the Scholastic Book Fair, my choices were few and far between. Kids today have it better, but not by much. Though the Edgar Awards for best mystery fiction do dedicate an award for young people’s literature, the number of honestly good mystery novels for the 9-12 set you encounter in a given year is minimal. When you find one that’s really extraordinary you want to hold onto it. And when it’s Kate Milford doing the writing, there’s nothing for it but to enjoy the ride. A raconteur’s delight with a story that’ll keep ‘em guessing, this is one title you won’t want to miss.

It was supposed to be winter vacation. Though Milo’s parents run an inn with a clientele that tends to include more than your average number of smugglers, he can always count on winter vacation to be bereft of guests. Yet in spite of the awful icy weather, a guest appears. Then another. Then two more. All told more than five guests appear with flimsy excuses for their arrival. Some seem to know one another. Others act suspiciously. And when thefts start to take place, Milo and his new friend Meddy decide to turn detective. Yet even as they unravel clues about their strange clientele there are always new ones to take their places. Someone is sabotaging the Greenglass House but it’s the kids who will unmask the culprit.

To my mind, Milford has a talent that few authors can boast; She breaks unspoken rules. Rules that have been dutifully followed by children’s authors for years on end. And in breaking them, she creates stronger books. Greenglass House is just the latest example. To my mind, three rules are broken here. Rule #1: Children’s books must mostly be about children. Adults are peripheral to the action. Rule #2: Time periods are not liquid. You cannot switch between them willy-nilly. Rule #3: Parents must be out of the picture. Kill ‘em off or kidnap them or make them negligent/evil but by all means get rid of them! To each of these, Milford thumbs her proverbial nose.

Let’s look at Rule #1 first. It is worth noting that with the exception of our two young heroes, the bulk of the story focuses on adults with adult problems. It has been said (by me, so take this with a grain of salt) that by and large the way most authors chose to write about adults for children is to turn them into small furry animals (Redwall, etc.). There is, however, another way. If you have a small innocuous child running hither and thither, gathering evidence and spying all the while, then you can talk about grown-ups for long periods of time and few child readers are the wiser. If I keep mentioning The Westing Game it’s because Ellen Raskin did very much what Milford is doing here, and ended up with a classic children’s book in the process. So there’s certainly a precedent.

On to Rule #2. One of the remarkable things about Kate Milford as a writer is that she can set a book in the present day (there is a mention of televisions in this book, so we can at least assume it’s relatively recent) and then go and fill it with archaic, wonderful, outdated technology. A kind of alternate contemporary steampunk, if there is such a thing. In an era of electronic doodads, child readers are going to really get a kick out of a book where mysterious rusted keys, old doorways, ancient lamps, stained green glass windows, and other old timey elements give the book a distinctive flavor.

Finally, Rule #3. This was the most remarkable of choices on Milford’s part, and I kept reading to book to find out how she’d get away with it. Milo’s parents are an active part of his life. They clearly care for him, periodically checking up on his throughout the story, but never interfering with his investigations. Since the book is entirely set in the Greenglass House, it has the feel of a stage play (which, by the way, it would adapt to BRILLIANTLY). That means you’re constantly running into mom and dad, but they don’t feel like they’re hovering. This is partly aided by the fact that they’re incredibly busy. So, in a way, Milford has discovered a way of removing parental involvement without removing parental care. The kids are free to explore and solve crimes and the adult gatekeepers reading this book are comforted by the family situation. A rarity if ever there was one.

But behind all the clues and ghost stories and thefts and lies what Greenglass House really is is the story of a hero’s journey. Milo starts out a soft-spoken kiddo with little faith in his own abilities. Donning the mantle of a kind of Dungeons & Dragons type character named Negret, he taps into a strength that he might otherwise not known he even had. There is a moment in the book when Milo starts acting with more confidence and actually thinks to himself, “And I didn’t even have to use Negret’s Irresistible Blandishment . . . I just did it.” Milo’s slow awakening to his own strengths and abilities is the heart of the novel. For all that people will discuss the mystery and the clues, it’s Milo that holds everything together.

Much of his personality is embedded in his identity as an adopted kid too. I love the mention of “orphan magic” that Milford makes at one point. It’s the idea that when something is sundered from its attachments it becomes more powerful in the process. At no point does Milford ever downplay the importance of the fact that Milo is adopted. It isn’t a casual fact that’s thrown in there and then forgotten. For Milo, the fact that he was adopted is part of who he is as a person. And coming to terms with that is part of his journey as well. Little wonder that he gathers such comfort from learning about orphan magic and its potential.

I’m looking at my notes about this book and I see I’ve written down little random facts that don’t really fit in with this review. Things like, “I did wonder if Milo’s name was a kind of unspoken homage to the Milo of The Phantom Tollbooth. And, “The book’s attitude towards smuggling is not all that different from, say, Danny, the Champion of the World’s attitude towards poaching.” And, “I love the vocabulary at work here. Raconteur. Puissance.” There is a lot a person can say about this book. I should note that there is a twist that a couple kids may see coming. It is, however, a fair twist and one that doesn’t cheat before you get to it. For the most part, Milford does a divine job at writing a darned good mystery without sacrificing character development and deeper truths. A great grand book for those kiddos who like reading books that make them feel smart. Fun fun fun fun fun.

On shelves August 26th.

Source: Galley sent from publisher for review.

Like This? Then Try:

First Sentence: “There is a right way to do things and a wrong way, if you’re going to run a hotel in a smugglers’ town.”

Professional Reviews:

Interviews: Milford reveals all with The Enchanted Inkpot.


  • In lieu of an Author’s Note, Kate provides some background information on Milo and adoption that is worthy additional reading here.
  • Cover artist Jaime Zollars discusses being selected to illustrate the book jacket here.
  • Discover how the book came from a writing prompt here.

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