Category Archives: Field Reports

Notes from Beijing, Day 7

FCLBeijingSecond full day at BIBF brought me much delight in discovering more wonderfully original picture books, novels, and literary nonfiction. It is apparent that children’s books are growing in market, importance, and quality countrywide.

Got invited to a dinner with two publishers from Sri Lanka and exchanged much information about the two countries and heard quite a few humorous stories by one of the veteran publisher and former newspaper editor.

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Notes from Beijing, Day 6

FCLBeijingToday was the first day of BIBF (Beijing International Book Fair). I attended five meetings with various publishers and rights reps, exploring a wide range of picture book themes and styles. There is so much potential and such willingness to learn and eager to improve: and a few names to be seriously look out for. The authors and artists of note will be posted this Sunday for the special China edition of the FCL Sunday Select. I am to meet with more people in the next two days, but perhaps a little more free time to wander around on my own as well.

Dinner was a most wonderful affair at an elegant restaurant specializing in Beijing traditional food, done with delicacy and close attention to details. We talked a lot about the future of Chinese Children’s books: its need for YA books, for creative and literary nonfiction, for better training of editorial staff, for curtailing the practice of giving the illustration jobs to “illustration companies” where the pictures are done in bulk and without personal touches, individual connections or editorial input.

A very productive and delicious day!

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Notes from Beijing, Day 5

FCLBeijingI attended the very first International Children’s Publishing Forum at the Beijing International Book Fair today. Jam packed with great information: we listened about the development of Chinese Children’s literature of the past 100 years, how to examine picture books for their individual worthiness whether a title has garnered major award or not, the statistical and strategic reports from major publishers and booksellers here and abroad, and the extremely valuable collaboration of authors and illustrators, among other topics.

The most fun was to spend time with my close friend and like minded colleague Junko Yokota who gave the talk at the event on picture book evaluation. I learn so much from her every time we talk! Today was no different.

After the Forum, Junko’s host, Miss Zhang from the China Children’s Press and Publishing Group graciously invited me to the opening ceremony and reception hosted by the BIBF organizer at the Great Hall of The People. There many new connections were formed and much hope for future collaborations was shared.

Went back to Junko’s hotel room where we talked some more: about our plans, the upcoming IBBY conference in New York, and her upcoming talk on building empathy through reading picture books.

This is not a short note but then again this was not an uneventful day!
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Notes from Beijing, Day 4

FCLBeijingHad a very fruitful meeting this morning, understanding what the company’s immediate and long term goals are and exploring original materials that might have potentials for high quality translations of interest to Mandarin learners and educators.

The entire afternoon was devoted to the visit to the Great Wall. I managed to climb the 454 steps (some of them are really steep) to the highest allowable platform.

The picture at the summit is in the camera. Here are some pictures taken with my phone:

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Notes from Beijing, Day 3

FCLBeijingDa Guan Yuan, the Garden of Broad View (my translation) was both a disappointment and an unexpected delight. This garden modeled after the creation of one of the best known literary settings in China, where most tumultuous family and love drama took place in The Dream of the Red Chamber by Cao Xueqin, was well designed but poorly constructed and has fallen to much disrepair. So, even when I was excited to visit the living quarters of my literary crush Jia Baoyu, I couldn’t but lament the lost potential of the space.

However, the Garden is now also a meeting place for the elders who are practicing traditional art forms: music, Peking opera, and rhyming storytelling, calligraphy, etc. I got to see and listen to my heart’s content.

I wonder when will the story of Jia Baoyu and Lin Daiyu, the epitome tragic lovers, be know to western readers and story lovers. Is it my calling to finally make this decades long dream of mine a reality?

The afternoon was spent meandering the highly developed, crowded touristy area of Nanluoguxiang (Southern Drum Lane.). Squeezed between stalls selling imported food and beverage items (Frozen Yogurt, Bubble Tea, Starbucks) are genuinely wonderful drafts shops offering goods based on traditional folk art concepts with inventiveness and care for elevated qualities.

Dinner was a semi-business affair, meeting a couple of the managers from Chinese Educational Publications. We talked about everything and much of dinner had an elated overtone because their first major venture with an American publisher (Tor) just garnered a major award: the Hugo went to The Three Body Problem, a 2008 Chinese novel translated and published last year! The first ever Hugo Award for an Asian import. In look forward to examining Chinese children’s publications to select the titles that will help non-Chinese young readers gain better cultural understanding through high quality literary work.

(Da Guan Yuan pictures are on my camera. Can’t post them until a week from now.)

A happy find in Nanluoguxiang, clay creations: lucky rabbit on lucky mounts:
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Dinner dishes at Hua Jia Yi Yuan restaurant:
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Notes from Beijing, Day 2

FCLBeijingSince posting on WordPress has proven quite challenging using my phone alone (didn’t travel with a computer) and most of the pictures are on my camera (and I didn’t bring all the cable connectors), my posts will be short and with just a couple of pictures. More to come after I am back to New York.

Day two in Beijing was split into three segments: The Summer Palace (Ye He Yuan); the newly developed areas of restaurants near the Palace ground; and the Hou Hai area of bars and live music. One sentence summary: The city seems to be a happy but awkward mixture of the very old and the aspirationally new; the responsibility to maintain the heritage of the Chinese past and the drive to catch up with the global future.

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Notes from Beijing, Day 1

FCLBeijingStill cannot quite believe that I am in Beijing: and have been here for a whole afternoon already. First impression is extremely vague, tall buildings, many many cars, big specialty shopping complexes, not a lot of pedestrians.

My gracious guide Li Xiaocui shared with me much of her aspiration for bringing Chinese literature and art to the U.S. and took me for a fabulous inner Mongolian meal.

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Personal murals interspersed with the official pictorial reminders of community morals.

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Watching a variety show: amateur performers from the North East provinces reenact a local heroic legend of young women fighting against the Japanese aggressors.

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Kind of dig this concept: each group or individual performer has to pass multiple stages of the challenges: from their personal specialty to their hometown’s famed performance numbers.

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跑啊跑的程千里 (Run Run Cheng Qianli) by 冯与蓝 (Feng Yulan)

跑啊跑的程千里The story about a chubby 5th grade boy who is grappling with being the unathletic one in the class is told with a very light and gentle touch: he’s never so troubled by it to be sad, his best friends (who are all fast runners) are all supportive, his teachers do not put him down, even when they try to help him build up his stamina. And his relationship with his parents is loving, albeit full of little conflicts due to his very active mind that is constantly wondering about the world around him and coming up with out-of-the-box ideas.

This is the first of the Rainbow Crow set of high quality contemporary children’s books from China (by the 21st Century publishing company) that I have read and I am definitely impressed: by the author’s understanding of young people’s mindset, by the excellence of the production/design value, and by the publisher’s insistence of offering current stories by Chinese authors to young readers.

Colorful Ravens* “Original Stories in Chinese”* series of 20 titles  were published in 2012.  I obtained four copies and will report on all of them as soon as I finish each.  To read the bilingual plot summary that I made for this book please head over to the Goodreads page.

Rainbow Crow titles*My translations for the series names were different from the publisher’s.  Corrected on 8/18/2015.

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Teaching The Graveyard Book in China

graveyardbookFour young readers from Shanghai (ages 13-15) and I spent two weeks together enjoying and analyzing Neil Gaiman’s Newbery winning title The Graveyard Book. The lessons were all conducted in English. We had a lot of fun and here are some of the observations that we made about the book:

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  • The author makes it so that the supposedly bad people (the graveyard dead, a witch, a vampire, and a werewolf) turned out to be super nice and caring.  It made us reconsider our assumptions to the people around us.
  • The author effectively uses verbs and action phrases for inanimate objects to create vivid and poetic imageries: tendrils of fog could insinuate themselves into the hall, the graveyard could keep secrets, and the burnt sun could gaze into the world below.
  • We had lots of fun figuring out what Gaiman implies in his text.  Silas’ true being is, of course, the most fun to guess: so many clues about what he is without the word* EVER being present in the book. But there are many other things that the readers need to figure out: the characters’ moods, interior thoughts and motivations, etc.  In other words, this is a great book for inferences. 
  • Paradox is another literary device used often by the author.  We bookended the course with this paradoxical phrase: “Glorious Tragedy” that Gaiman used to describe what it’s like to be a parent and how The Graveyard Book can be read as a book about the bittersweetness of successful parenting.  This phrase could be used especially to frame much of the last part of the book when Nobody Owens grows too old to be contained within the safety of the Graveyard.   Isn’t “growing up” also a kind of glorious tragedy? I asked the four young readers to contemplate in what ways that “growing up” is a glorious tragedy.
  • Each student wrote me a quick feedback on their individual experience with the book.  All were positive and had strong emotional reaction to the events and characters in the book.
    • One wrote how they appreciated the many new vocabulary words (Gaiman definitely did NOT shy away from using precise, perfect, but not easy words.)
    • They all enjoyed the “guess” work whenever I asked them to infer a particular subtly presented idea.
    • One student who never read a single English language book before this class vowed to continue reading books in English!

I had a blast!  The students were diligent and after the first couple of days, were lively and contributed a lot.  It’s especially rewarding to closely re-read The Graveyard Book and confirm how finely crafted this book truly is, in every aspect!

* SPOILER ALERT — Silas’ identity is revealed after the cover image (for those who have yet to read the book.)

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Silas is a vampire.

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Who Publishes Newbery Winning Titles (1996-2015)?

Last Monday, I published the statistics of Caldecott publishers from the last 20 years.  This week, I offer the results of my spreadsheeting for The Newbery Award.  Sampled years: 1996 to 2015 (20 years.)  Two comparative highlights:

The Newbery gold and silver medals have gone to fewer publishers than the Caldecott medals.  (28/13 for Newbery and 32/17 for Caldecott.)

The Newbery Gold Medal winners are mostly female while women have only won four Caldecott gold.  (13x vs 4x)

Again I ask the Children’s Lit experts in the field to correct information when you spot errors so I can update and make this report more accurate for everyone.

Summary by the number, from 1996 to 2015:

Authors

  • 84 Winning and Honored Titles total (20 winner and 64 honor)
  • 19 Individuals won — (Kate DiCamillo won the gold medal twice.)
  • 12 women are named award winners (63%)
  • 4 Winners are POC: Kwame Alexander, Christopher Paul Curtis, Cynthia Kadohata, and Linda Sue Park
  • 41 Honor titles are written by women and 23 are written by men (64% vs 36%).
  • Multiple winners of Gold + Silver seals: 4 times: Jacqueline Woodson; 3 times: Christopher Paul Curtis (1 gold), Kate DiCamillo (1 gold), Jennifer Holm; 2 times: Richard Peck (1 gold), Jack Gantos (1 gold), Nancy Farmer, Sharon Creech (1 gold), Kevin Henkes, Laura Amy Schlitz (1 gold), Jim Murphy, Gary D. Schmidt, and Patricia Reilly Giff.

Imprints & Publishers

  • 28 Different Imprints
  • 13 Different Publishers after consolidation*

* Please bear in mind that due to the nature of large companies incorporating smaller publishers with previous wins, the accounting can not be perfect.  (FSG, for example, was independent, then part of Macmillan.)

Also recognize that children’s book publishing is a small world and there are but a few dozen companies operating in the U.S., eligible for the award.

Here are the two charts I made.

Newbery Wins by Imprint

The reddish area represents about 50% of the total, split between 7 imprints while 21 other imprints share the rest 50%.  Clarion had a large share and now counts as part of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. FSG did exceedingly well as a small publishing house (Frances Foster and Melanie Kroupa were both acknowledged as their imprints) before becoming part of Macmillan.  So did Henry Holt, now also part of Macmillan.

Nancy Paulsen, Joanna Cotler, Frances Foster, Richard Jackson,Melanie Kroupa, and Wendy Lamb are all editors with their own named imprints, making up for almost 10% of the total.


Newbery Wins by Publisher

The reddish area represents about 89.5% of the total, split between 8 publishers while 5 other publishers took home 10% (7 titles) of the win. Penguin and Random House are still counted separately even though they are technically merged.  Together, these two publishers combined would have 30% (25 titles) share of the total wins for the last 20 years.  Front Street is no longer a stand-along publisher and their backlist titles are now sold by Boyds Mills and also absorbed into Namelos, under the steerage of Steven Roxburgh, former publisher of Front Street.

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Sunday Select, August 09, 2015

FCLSS

Quote of the Week:

“There is, however, a somber point in the social outlook of Americans. Their sense of equality and human dignity is mainly limited to men of white skins. Even among these there are prejudices of which I as a Jew am clearly conscious; but they are unimportant in comparison with the attitude of the ‘Whites’ toward their fellow-citizens of darker complexion, particularly toward Negroes. The more I feel an American, the more this situation pains me. I can escape the feeling of complicity in it only by speaking out.”

Albert Einstein, “The Negro Question (1946)”

Children’s Lit Happenings!

Announcing the 2015 Golden Kite Winners — from Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators

2015 Teens Top Ten Nominees Announced — from Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA)

Ashley Bryan Talks with Roger by Roger Sutton — from The Horn Book Magazine

A Notable Summer by Andrew Medler — from Association for Library Services to Children (ALSC)

Author Name Pronunciation Guide — from TeachingBooks.net

Interview with Phoebe Yeh by Jenn Baker — from Minorities in Publishing (MiP)

Roundtable: The New Archie by Brigid Alverson– from School Library Journal

Important Points to Consider:

Einstein: The Negro Question (1946) by Albert Einstein — reposted on On Being

Teen Girls and the Persistence of Gender Stereotypes by Randye Hoder from The Atlantic

Diversity: What Can We Do About It? — from The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators

INDIAN 101 FOR WRITERS – A Five Part Series, Part I — from A Fresh Pot of Tea (link provided for Part II and so on)

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Avatar: The Last Airbender (TV show) Survey Report

avatar posterAvatar: The Last Airbender, the Nichelodeon channel animated show from 2005, has been and continues to be really popular with my middle and high school students.  (The show was created for even younger viewers.) I got curious and asked random internet users (via facebook, twitter, reddit, FCL, etc.) to fill out a form and tell me whether: “Avatar? OMG — AVATAR is MY LIFE!” or “This is the first time I have ever heard of this show,” and anything in between.  Although the respondents can choose from 12 different answers, I decided to consolidate them into four categories: Extreme Love, Positive, Neutral/Negative, and Never heard of/watched the show. Those who filled out the form also shared their demographic information and self-identified as one of the following: Asian or Asian American, White (Hispanic), White (Non-Hispanic), Black (Hispanic), Black (Non-Hispanic), Racially Mixed – part Asian, Racially Mixed – no Asian, Native American, or Other* * I had to take out a few responses (for example, a self-identified “penguin” – Oh, internet, you never fails to amuse me!) As you can see, the responses are really positive, just like those from my students and myself.  We are excited about the show, its spin-off Legend of Korra, and are happily reading the Graphic Novels series extending the storyline, and anxiously awaiting the new installments for both Aang, Katara, Zuko, Toph, Sokka storylines and the Korra storyline.  My notes on The Search by Gene Luen Yang will be posted tomorrow. If your browser can’t load this embedded chart, click on THIS LINK. I also asked for age ranges but decided to not include that information in the chart.

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Who Publishes Caldecott Winning Titles (1996-2015)?

Inspired by Barbara Genco’s Caldecott by the numbers: Brooklyn edition (math is fun!), I did a little bit of my own unscientific investigation playing with a spreadsheet and a couple of charts: for the past 20 years of Caldecott winners and honor titles.  There are people more knowledgeable about the publisher/imprint situation and also where they are located (and were located when each individual title won the award) so please feel free to comment and correct.  I will update the blog entry when corrections are received and verified.

Summary by the number, from 1996 to 2015:

Illustrators

  • 87 titles received gold and silver medals (20 winner, 67 honor)
  • 18 individual Caldecott winning illustrators (David Wiesner and Chris Raschka both won twice)
  • 4 women were named medal winners (20%)
  • Out of the 67 honored titles, some illustrators were named more than once like Jerry Pinkney: 4x, Mo Willems, Brian Collier, and Peter Sis: 3x, Kadir Nelson, Melissa Sweet, Laura Vaccaro Seeger, Jon Klassen, 2x — not an exhaustive list, and some honored illustrators were also winners in other years, such as Jon Klassen, Brian Selznick, and David Wiesner.
  • 58 out of the 87 titles are illustrated by men (67%)

Imprints & Publishers

  • 32 individually named imprints
  • 17 publishers were named (after some consolidation*)
  • 10 titles are from publishers that do not operate mainly from the NYC offices – as to the best of my knowledge: Candlewick: 4x, Chronicle: 1x, Eerdmans: 2x, Harcourt: 3x, Beach Lane: 1x (11%)

* Please bear in mind that due to the nature of large companies incorporating smaller publishers with previous wins, the accounting can not be perfect.  (Roaring Brook, for example, was independent, then part of Millbrook, and now part of Macmillan, which in turn is actually a part of an even bigger company, Holtzbrinck Publishing Group.)

Also recognize that children’s book publishing is a small world and there are but a few dozen companies operating in the U.S., eligible for the award.

Here are the two charts I made.  If you can’t see them here, please click on the links.

Caldecott Wins: By Imprint — The reddish area represents about 60% of the pie

Caldecott Wins: By Publisher — The reddish area represents about 87% of the pie

The information gathered for these charts are from the Official Caldecott Award Page. Readers might find it of interest to browse older winners and honor titles and discovered more facts, such as:

Finding some publishing names no longer with us: Lothrop, Bradbury, Scribner, Four Winds and the “original” Macmillan Children’s publishing group.

Some years the same publisher is awarded 2-3 times, for example: Orchard in 1997, 3 wins; Macmillan in 1972, 3 wins; Harper in 1971 2 wins

Before 1980s, Newbery and Caldecott were the SAME committee.


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Sunday Select: August 2nd, 2015

FCLSS

Quote of the Week:

“When you hear, ‘black lives matter,’ don’t instinctively respond that all lives matter, as if one statement negates the other. Instead, try to understand why people of color might be compelled to remind the world that their lives have value.”  — Roxane Gay

Mostly About Children’s Books:

What Children’s Publishers Read at Home with Kids” Compiled by Diane Roback — from Publishers Weekly.

Newbery/Caldecott/Wilder Banquet Speech Videos” — from Association for Library Service to Children

2015 LIS 7210 Library Materials for Children List” by Dr. Sarah Park Dahlen — from sarahpark.com: musings on korean diaspora, children’s literature, and adoption

#WeNeedDiverseBlogs: Reviewing & Reading Diversely” hosted by Nicole Brinkley — from Twitter Discussion thread

Important Points to Consider:

Of Lions and Men: Mourning Samuel DuBose and Cecil the Lion” by Roxane Gay — from The New York Times.

American Racism in the ‘White Frame’” interview of Joe Feagan by George Yancy — from The New York Times

The Hololcaust and White Privilege” by Monica Edinger — from Educating Alice

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Sunday Selection, July 26th, 2015

FCLSS

Jimmy Carter and Jacqueline Woodson on Race, Religion and Rights – from The New York Times

It’s Time to Get Real About Racial Diversity in Comics – from Wired

A Historic Week for the Fight to #EndMassIncarceration! But Will President Obama Play It Safe or Courageously? – from Huffington Post

Actor Jesse Williams Breaks Down Sandra Bland and Racist Hypocrisy in 24 Tweets – from ColorLines

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The Ever Expanding Bubble of Knowledge and Facts

A former student shared this article by Jef Rouner, “NO, IT’S NOT YOUR OPINION. YOU’RE JUST WRONG” on facebook and I reshare this here.

It is definitely a quick and worthwhile read, especially for those who are in the profession of educating young minds and often struggle with how to guide young people toward more fact-based opinion forming, something that I have to face frequently.  As mentioned in the article, young children often believe that what they know is the totality of certain area of facts (about dinosaurs, about Star Wars, about the Civil Rights movement, etc.,) and thus they easily believe that their opinions, based on all that they know, are 100% accurate and valid, even sacred, and cannot be challenged: by peers or teachers whose knowledge bases are a lot bigger.

But my students are in their pre-teen and early/mid-teen years and are still quite flexible in becoming better informed. I just have to keep pointing out (and sometimes bursting) the bubbles they find themselves in.  In fact, we all operate within our own knowledge/information/social bubbles.  All our knowledge bases have to have some sort of limitation, even when we are well-informed.  In order for me to be less limited, I need to keep identifying the boundary of each bubble and see how to expand the size of that bubble to include more facts and thus strengthen or even alter my opinions.  I hope I can continue modeling this behavior in front of my students so they can accept when their bubbles are being challenged or burst!

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New Star Wars fictions, Chronicle Books and More

From June 26th to 29th, I enjoyed the many festivities at American Library Association’s 2015 Annual Conference in San Francisco.  Here are some photos with captions (click on the first photo to see the slideshow with full captions!)

Star Wars retold for Middle Grade readers — from Disney Publishing Worldwide.  The four authors of the upcoming (and already published) books are: Tony DiTerlizzi, Alexandra Bracken, Adam Gidwitz, and Tom Angleberger.

Chronicle Books invited us to check out their amazingly beautiful, open, and creative work space!  I found out that there is an entire Industrial Design department, creating merchandise connected to the books they publish.  Too fun!

Of course, there were many other events, sessions, workshops that I didn’t take a lot of pictures of — The Coretta Scott King Awards Breakfast, the ALSC Preconference highlighting and celebrating this year’s Honored books (Caldecott, Newbery, Sibert, Geisel, Carnegie), Newbery/Caldecott/Wilder Banquet, and the ALSC Awards ceremony (Sibert, Geisel, Carnegie, Batchelder.)

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Coretta Scott King Book Awards Breakfast: A Most Memorable Morning from ALA 2015, San Francisco

We always grumble about it being too early (7:00 a.m. on a Sunday during a long weekend of festivities and after a couple of really late night parties); we always know that once we get there, something magical will happen so all our sleepiness will be swept away: when the entire room sang Lift Every Voice and Sing together, when the morning invocation calls to attention of the importance of this award in our still trying time for African Americans, and when the award winners give their heart-felt, thought-provoking speeches.

This year felt like it was the BEST yet!  From Jason Reynold’s tribute to his mother and the power of community, to Kwame Alexander’s rousing spoken words; from Kekla Magoon’s insistence of telling the world the multi-faceted truths behind the single-angled reporting of the media, to Frank Morrison’s belief of encouraging all children to be who they truly are; from Marilyn Nelson’s quiet reminder of the power of words to Christian Robinson’s (and Patricia Hruby Powell) dancing like Josephine Baker!  And of course, to the dreaming and frustration and dreaming again by Jacqueline Woodson and Christopher Myers.

Jackie’s and Chris’ speeches in their printed form can be found on the Hornbook site.

Dream Keepers by Jackie and This untitled speech by Chris are must reads!  Don’t miss this moving tribute to Chris by John Steptoe (new talent winner): Giant (for Christopher Myers)

That entire breakfast was at once extremely somber and electrifying.  These talented African American authors and artists have joined a long line of creative souls who continue to inspire and inform young readers.  Bravo!

(Christian Robinson & Patricia Hruby Powell – illustrator/author duo for Josephine even danced for us.)

Another noteworthy honoree of the day is Deb Taylor (my fellow 2002 Newbery member,) of the Enoch Pratt Free Library in Baltimore for her Distinguished Services over the years!  Here’s a picture of her giving her passionate speech —

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and her talking to Marilyn Nelson, author of Carver: A Life in Poems, (2002 Newbery Honor book winner):

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More pictures and reports of this past weekend at ALA can be found on the SLJ site.  And my own photo documentary of the weekend is forthcoming!

 

 

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My One and Only BEA

My first BookExpo America happened this past Friday, May 29, and they are moving it to Chicago next year!  So, this might be my one and only BEA.

My first impression upon approaching the Javits Center was, “This is no where near overwhelming as so many people had told me.”  (My experience with Javits is mostly ComicCon with 151,000 unique attendees in 2014; BEA had about 11,000 last year.)

Around 9:15 a.m, I entered the building:

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The exhibits floor was actually not that empty and by 9:30, there were definitely a lot of people excited about meeting authors and getting their books signed.  Long lines for John Grisham and other authors.  I learned that there’s the thing called “the Galley Drop:” You stand in line for a specific ARC give-away at a certain hour.  Brian Selznick’s Marvels had more than one galley drop times!

Of course, the Expo is not really for “common book fans.”  It’s where a lot of business meetings were taking place amongst industry professionals and deals got made.  I acted as a fan briefly but devoted most of my day scouting possibilities and finding ways to bridge the Chinese and American children’s publishing worlds.

It was definitely thrilling to meet Marie Lu and to tell her how much my students and I have enjoyed all her work: The Legend trilogy and the new Young Elites.  So looking forward to The Rose Society this fall!

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Most of my day was spent on going through the China Pavilion where this year’s Honored Guests, dozens of Chinese Publishing companies, displayed their wares and where special events featuring editors, authors, and publishers took place.  The space was set up beautifully, if a bit sterile, but I imagine that most display must have felt quite impenetrable to American buyers, with little or no English explanation of what they are seeing.

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By sheer good luck, I discovered some middle grade titles that capture contemporary Chinese life that could be introduced to American young readers.  This promising series: Colourful Ravens: Original Stories in Chinese, features fiction around 120 to 145 pages long, with colorful illustrations and high production value, is from the 21st Century Publishing House.  I talked to the editor of the series and the company’s Rights manager and can’t wait to read through their entire output this summer!

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Another memorable event was the dialog between two young writers, Xu Ze Chen, author of Running Through Beijing and Dale Peck, author of Sprout, moderated by Eric Abrahamsen, a translator from Seattle currently living in Beijing and the publisher of Paper-Republic.org (website and print magazine for translators of Chinese literature.)  The audience who were not fluent in both languages were given headsets, tuned to the correct language channel, and two interpreters simultaneously provided accurate translation for the audience AND for the two authors.  This allowed for the two of them to have a completely seamless and meaningful conversation mostly about contemporary Beijing, generational gap, writing for a perceived audience, and the time-sink that is self-promotion, etc. even with the language barrier.  It’s a beautiful thing to behold!

I ordered Running Through Beijing right then and there.  It will arrive soon.  Book report forthcoming!IMG_20150529_141944

I also attended an off-site meeting with a newly established Children’s Publisher in China and will report when there are concrete things to cover.

Overall, a superbly productive day!

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Snapshot of the Day

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A quick snapshot of some books returned by my students (mostly in 4, 5, and 6 grade) on a random spring morning.  It makes me happy to see that classics, new titles, and a variety of genres live harmoniously side by side, waiting to be checked out again and  enjoyed by young readers.

The titles from left to right:

11 Birthdays (Wendy Mass)
Fever, 1793 (Laurie Halse Anderson)
Letters from Rifka (Karen Hesse)
Cardboard (Doug TenNapel)
Ten (Lauren Myracle)
Moribito (Nahoko Uehashi, translated by Cathy Hirano)
Five, Six, Seven, Nate (Tim Federle)
The Mother Daughter Book Club (Heather Vogel Frederick)
Trial by Jury (Kate Kliss)
Splendors & Glooms (Laura Amy Schlitz)
Ranger’s Apprentice: The Burning Bridge (John Flanagan)
Earth Afire (Orson Scott Card)
Habibi (Naomi Shihab Nye)
Magyk (Septimus Heap) (Angie Sage)
Million Dollar Throw (Dan Gutman)
Chains (Laurie Halse Anderson)
Quarterback Walk-On
Kiki Strike: Inside the Shadow City
Vango (Timothée de Fombelle, translated by Sarah Ardizzone)
Ranger’s Apprentice: The Royal Ranger (John Flanagan)
Mary Poppins (P.L. Travers)
The Golden Compass (Philip Pullman)
Every Soul a Star (Wendy Mass)
Gregor the Overlander (Suzanne Collins)
The True Meaning of Smekday (Adam Rex)
The Scary States of America (Michael Teitelbaum)
Mad Dogs (Cherub) (Robert Muchamore)

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