Tag Archives: events

Make Not The Past Rosy, Nor The Present Bleak

On September 30th, I had the honor to present, with my fellow judges Joanna Rudge Long and Besty Bird, the 2016 Boston-Globe Horn Book Awards to children’s book creators. Unlike many other awards, we were not given a set of criteria to base our reading and evaluation on.   It was simply, look for excellent books in Picture Books, Fiction and Poetry, and Nonfiction category.

One award title for each category and up to two honored titles.  The author and illustrator both receive the award in cases of an illustrated title.  This year’s titles were announced in late May.  You can see the program description and watch the May announcement on the Horn Book site.

On October 1st, I attended the Horn Book Colloquium at Simmons College focusing on a theme inspired by the titles we chose, with talks and panel discussions based by the winning creators.  This year’s theme was Out of the Box — because, boy, did we have a hard time figuring out where to place some of our favorite books of the year!

So, the picture book winner, Jazz Day, is also poetry, and can arguably be Nonfiction, and one of the Nonfiction honored titles, Voice of Freedom, is a picture book of verses, too.   There are also other out of the box endeavors by the creators.

As part of the program for the day, I had the honor to interview Ekua Holmes and Carole Boston Weatherford, illustrator and author, of Voice of Freedom: Fannie Lou Hamer: The Spirit of the Civil Rights Movement.

We discussed many topics about the book and about their craft and when I asked both of them what they would like to see published more for children, these are their answers – and I paraphrase grossly here:

Weatherford: I’d like to see more lesser known people of color movers and shakers profiled for children.  We probably don’t need one more book on Martin Luther King Junior or Harriet Tubman; but we definitely need to tell stories of others who paved the roads and blazed the trails for us through extremely difficult times and against all odds.

Holmes: I’d like to see more books about just the daily miracles of any child of color — their lived experiences and they can be quite bright and fulfilling, full of art, music, beauty, and happiness.  We need to tell these stories!

I agree with both of them.  Let’s have a fuller exploration of the past; don’t make it rosy, and don’t hide the ugly spots.  But let’s also fully represent the present.  There are definitely struggles and dark moments, but we must also celebrate and acknowledge the love and support that many children experience in their own families and communities.

And let’s make sure that multiple and differed perspectives and voices from the seemingly homogeneous marginalized communities are heard and honored.  There is room for the representation from the entire spectrum of experiences and values.

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Sunday Select, USBBY Special


Quotes (Paraphrased) of the USBBY Conference

(On Verse Memoirs) Even when writing one’s own memoir, there are gaps that one has to fill with invented details. — Margarita Engle

(On Verse Novel) We are always writing outside of our own experiences.  The important thing is to be conscientious in one’s research and understanding of “the others.” — Padma Venkatraman

Translators are writers, editors, storytellers, researchers, and cultural mediators, all rolled into one. — Panelists’ Consensus on Translation

Where does a translator’s loyalty lie: with the author or the readers?  In a way, we can say that by being loyal to the readers, one is loyal to the authors as well.  And there is the loyalty to the text.  Also the loyalty to the idea as IF the author actually knows the target language and makes the meaning or the language very clear to the kids who will be reading the translated book. — Ajia

Certain kind of information is best conveyed via what we consider as the “comics format.”  Look at the airline safety guides, manuals to put together furniture, etc.  Certain stories can be best expressed via the duality of text and images. — Gene Luen Yang.

We need to encourage the chaotic and messy creative process that is writing and creating stories: especially in children and the importance of play.  — David Almond

from the 11th Annual USBBY
Regional Conference, New York, NY


Title of David Almond’s talk

11th Annual USBBY Highlights

USBBY is the United States Chapter of the International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY.)  I joined USBBY only this year and am so glad to have attended the whole conference.  What a weekend!  Presenters come from China, Korea, Bulgaria, Russia, Brazil, Great Britain, France, The Netherland, Iran, Austria, Denmark, etc. and the topics include picture book art, translation, graphic novels, verse novels, Alice in Wonderland (as part of the theme of the year,) international YA literature, disabilities in children’s books, among many others.


LuAnn Toth and Kate DiCamillo


Lois Lowry


Chris Raschka

Attendees were treated to thoughtful and moving speeches by Leonard Marcus, Lois Lowry, Kate DiCamillo, David Amond, Chris Raschka, Susan Cooper and also lively and enlightening panel discussions.  Panelists included well known American children’s book creators such as Gene Luen Yang and Paul O Zelinsky, and international guests such as Roger Mello (Brazilian illustrator,) Ajia (Chinese translator,) and Lisbeth Zwerger (Austrian illustrator.)


Graphic Novels panel

Two breakout sessions offered conference goers 24 different workshops to further examine aspects of children’s literature with the mindset of broadening one’s knowledge and bridging cultures.

My first break-out session choice was on Verse Novels and Memoirs.  Authors Holly Thompson, Padma Venkatraman, and Margarita Engle gave great talks and insights into the power of telling stories with verse and their incredible dedication on detailed researches into the characters that they were to portray.

Nami Concours 2015The second break-out session for me was an introduction to the incredible international picture book illustration concours held on the Nami Island of South Korea.  I don’t think I’ve ever seen picture book illustrations being taken so seriously, treated with such reverence, and brought to life and made so relevant to the children and adults who encounter these objects of literature and art.

Because the Nami Concours is such a unique and amazing event, I will devote an entire post on it in the coming week.  Look out for my post — or you can check out the website:




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New York ComicCon 2015 – Day 4


Selected sights and some notes

Lucasfilm hosted a Readers Theater for Star Wars fans:



Adam Gidwitz conducting a Jedi Lesson:



More Talented Artists from Diverse Backgrounds in the Artist Alley

Edwin Huang


Screen Shot 2015-10-12 at 10.00.04 AM

Dexter Vines


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Tran Nguyen


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Annie Wu

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Velentine De Landro


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Janet Sung


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Creators of Lumberjanes: Noelle Stevenson & Shannon Watters (Grace Ellis is not pictures)





Couldn’t Leave without Seeing the Gotham Panel

with the super talented actors!

 IMG_20151011_165930-COLLAGE IMG_20151011_165412 IMG_20151011_165122 IMG_20151011_164726 IMG_20151011_164637 IMG_20151011_164129

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New York ComicCon 2015 – Day 3


Selected sights and some notes

First event of the morning — a wonderful session sponsored by Scholastic where Raina Telgemeier fielded many audience requests and drew for the crowd:IMG_20151010_111738



Star Wars Everywhere

Books, Crafts, Movies, TV Shows… IMG_20151010_112211




Jelly Bean ART! (Click and Enlarge to see the details) IMG_20151010_115119


Artist Alley

Spent some time at the Artist Alley — Couldn’t stay too long… too many wonderful art, too little money… IMG_20151010_115658


Probably my new favorite pop artist:


This is an example of Haas’ art (from his website) — TOTORO!

A couple of other accomplished artists with their own distinct styles:

Ray Fawkes


Tony Moy (梅)– TOTORO!!

Jed Henry — inspired by traditional Japanese art (hmm… a theme here?) TOTORO!!!



Jiu Ge (from Beijing/Seattle) Fan Art of Buckie & Loki IMG_20151010_122740

Didn’t get this artist’s name but again, Japanese Manga/Anime inspired artwork:


Jim Mahfood:IMG_20151010_124245

Dave Crosland:


More Cosplay Fun

Doctor Octopus — all home made, anchored on a backpack frame

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Over the Garden Wall (Cartoon Network)

War Boy (Mad Max: Fury Road)


Masters of Unreality: Heavy Metal & SFF (SciFi/Fantasy)
(AKA My Favorite Panel Today)

These three authors/metal musicians discussed their inspirations, influences, writing habits, views on popular vs canonized literature (and music,) etc.:

Myke Cole (Gemini Cell: A Shadow Ops Novel)
Michael Fletcher (Beyond Redemption)
Peter Orullian (Trial of Intentions)

One point raised by Cole resonated with me, although he was referring to contemporary music. He encouraged the American music fans to be conscious about how American music industry has always been in the “exporting business” and how we miss the gems from around the world if we just stay inside the US bubble.


Michael Fletcher, Myke Cole, Peter Orullian

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New York ComicCon 2015 – Day 2


Selected sights and some notes

Arrival: 10:15 a.m.


Waiting in line (in clumps) for special event wristbands:IMG_20151009_102318

Got three wristbands — Marvel Lego Games Panel, Adult Swim Panel Block, and Batman Bad Blood Panel — IMG_20151009_104059Wound up only going to the Adult Swim event.

Some future comics from Dark Horse at the Announcements panel:IMG_20151009_110459





This kind of serendipitous encounters is why I enjoy attending the Con — an artist commissioned on the show floor to make a Boba Fett image in his own style:IMG_20151009_121100 IMG_20151009_121135 IMG_20151009_121627 IMG_20151009_121631
And no Con can be completed without Cosplay or random outfits (like mine):

Kiki’s Delivery Service:IMG_20151009_140538

No special anything:

Beetlejuice — this couple made their own “faces” and even the book!

Avengers, with Quick Silver running:


IMG_20151009_134634My #1 Goal this year — meeting the creative soul behind Zen Pencils: Gavin Aung Than, all the way from Australia!  We chatted for a bit and I wished him best of luck of his two new books and on his North America book tour.  Look for him and buy his books!  His touring schedule can be found HERE.  but I’m going to list it all here for you.  Please support him!
Monday, October 12
7:00pm @ Harvard Coop (B&N College)
Tuesday, October 13
7:30pm @ BookPeople
Wednesday, October 14
7:00pm @ Tattered Cover Colfax
Thursday, October 15
7:00pm @ Changing Hands Phoenix
Friday, October 16
7:30pm @ Mysterious Galaxy
LOS ANGELES (Huntington Beach)
Sunday, October 18
2:00pm @ Barnes & Noble, Huntington Beach
Monday, October 19
7:00pm @ Third Place Books
Wednesday, October 21
7:00 pm @ Books Inc Berkeley
Two more fun things to report: Will buy Star Wars Origami for both the Library collection & for my Origami folding group.


Teeturtle is a fantastic T-Shirt company with simply fun Sci-fi Fantasy designs.  They can be found HERE.


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New York ComicCon 2015 – Day 1


Selected sights and some notes

Arrival: 1:15 p.m.


I decided to not visit the show floor and attended as many panels as I could fit in for the next few hours: DC Comics – Master Class/Art History; Vertigo: The New #1s; Geeks in the Stacks: Engaging Your Library Community with Pop Culture; Star Wars Rebels Season 2 Sneak Preview; Sean Bean Brings Legends to NYCC

Two of the five events were of greater interest to Graphic Novel lovers and librarians: the Vertigo panel that revealed 12 series titles and the practical advice for librarians and libraries that wish to host their own local Cons.

I am intrigued by these first issues from Vertigo coming out in the next 3 months:






And at the Geeks in the Stacks, teen librarian Ivy Weir gave some on-point practical advice on how to host a library Comic Con:

  • Keep it free to attend and friendly to all ages
  • Act like it’s the biggest Con
  • Create a brand
  • Vet your guests
  • Ask your online and real life communities for help
  • Remember this is fun!


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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 —



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


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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Quick ALA 2014 Midwinter Recaps

  • Really impressed by many of the teen readers who talked about and analyzed the Best Fiction for Young Adults (BFYA) list on Saturday.
  • Trying to not bring too many books home but am definitely still carrying two big bags of (mostly) 2014 Young Adult fiction — this is not just for fun any more, it’s WORK!  (It’s always WORK but this one lies heavier on my heart due to my inability to read fast… but I will brave this challenge and come out a richer person at the other end.)
  • Can’t quite believe that 3M Cloud Library is not offering a School Library Module.  Oh, well!
  • Really happy for Kathy Dawson’s new imprint with Penguin!
  • And really happy to have met a new author for Random House: Jaleigh Johnson, girl gamer tax prep accountant author of fantasy novels.
  • ALSC Membership Committee is filled with smart, funny, and intelligent people.  I’m honored to serve with them.  And the Children’s Librarian Meet-Up initiative should prove quite fun and exciting.
  • BFYA members delivered cogent analyses and I definitely felt their passion for this literature.  Bravo!
  • The Battle of the Kids’ Books meetup went well and I, as always, made a fool of myself by being too excitable and silly, as always!  There will be a group photo posted on BoB site, soon.  We are going to reveal judges starting tomorrow or Wednesday.
  • The Youth Media Awards press conference went smoothly and I quite agreed with many of the award choices.  A little sad to not see True Blue Scouts of Sugarman Swamp or The Thing About Luck on the lists.  Extremely pleased with Newbery: Flora and Ulysses; Caldecott: Locomotive; Sibert: Parrots Over Puerto Rico; CSK: P.S. Be Eleven; Schneider: Rose Under Fire; Printz: Midwinterblood.  And many other deserving titles!  Special shout out to my friend,  co-Newbery-member from 2002, Ken Setterington for winning a Stonewall honor for his Branded by the Pink Triangle.
  • Excited to get back home and continue reading Far From You. 

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More photos for today’s post

More photos for today’s post: IMG_20130702_175227IMG_20130629_141110


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July 3, 2013 · 11:08 pm

2013 ALA Personal Highlights – Part 1

The 2013 American Library Association’s Annual Conference has brought me a multitude of unforgettable moments — mostly due to the fact that I served on the 2013 Newbery Committee and this was the weekend when the publishers of the honored and winning titles treated the Committee to celebratory meals. The restaurants were all distinctly different:

Friday night: We had dinner with Macmillan and Steve Sheinkin at Gioco — located inside a prohibition era building with a speakeasy back room — where there’s a large bookcase disguising a hidden door. A perfect setting to celebrate Bomb. We received the galley of Steve’s next book: Port Chicago 50.



Saturday: Lunch with Candlewick and Laure Amy Schlitz was at Blackbird, a sophisticated French restaurant. The fares are marvelous and the presentation impeccable — much like the honored book, Splendors and Glooms, and much like the publisher itself. Laura kept us spellbound with her storytelling and her elegant thank-you to all of us.

lauraamyschlitz with blair and steve laurasigning

Saturday night: Katherine Applegate and HarperCollins took us to Everest, the restaurant on the 40th floor of the Chicago Stock Exchange Building, overlooking the city lights — we saw a huge rainbow that night, much to everyone’s delight! Each member of the Committee also received a soft stuffed animal of a Mighty Silverback that wears a shirt saying, “The One and Only Ivan!

kateandelizabethwith ivans rainbow

Sunday: Lunch with Penguin and Sheila Turnage at Chicago Q, an urban BBQ place serving everything family style inside a quirky building, truly fitting for Three Times Lucky. We were given the bound manuscript and a short reading of Ghosts of Tupelo Landing, sequel to this Newbery honored book.  Can’t wait to read it!


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Liberated!!! P(post)N(ewbery)W(ithdraw)S(syndromes)!

It is done.

For the last two days, 15 of us had the most exhilarating and literarily and intellectually challenging discussions over our nominated contenders for the 2013 Newbery. Everyone was civil, thoughtful, passionate, willing to negotiate AND willing to stand firm with conviction and concrete support from the books we read and re-read. Now the winning titles, author bios and book summaries have been submitted to the Public Information Office (ALA.) I have a day at the Conference to roam the exhibit hall isles, meet and chat with librarian friends from around the country, attend a luncheon, a preview, and a dinner.

Tomorrow we wake up around 5:00 and make our phone calls to Newbery medal and honor authors at 6:00. And then we attend the Youth Media Award Press Conference — to see everyone else’s reaction to our selections.

So, I guess, not all duties are done.

But, I am LIBERATED from the reading duty of 2012 children’s books!

Then came PNWS — Post Newbery Withdraw Syndromes — What do you mean that I don’t have to take page notes on the books I am reading now? (Which is the 3rd Kiki Strike, by the way) What do you mean that I no longer have the pleasure of constantly check what I read and how I feel against the set of Newbery criteria to see its eminence, distinguishing literary qualities, delineation of plot and setting, or presentation of information??? What do you mean that I don’t need to write cryptic “reviews” about the books I read… I can name them?

TOOO MUCH FREEDOM… I … CANNOT… CAN NOT handle this much freedom….. give me rules and restrictions… Don’t abandon me….

The above was only for dramatic effects… the truth is — although this feels a little odd and I feel a little lost without the FINAL GOAL looming over my head, the liberty of being able to read books not from the U.S., books not aimed at 0-14, books not newly published, etc. and then to openly discuss them cannot be sweeter.

I look forward to everyone’s reaction to the chosen titles!


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2002 Newbery Committee (that I served on) was written up in PW. It was a great evening. Thank you, Linda Sue and Kathy, our winner and amazing chair! http://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/childrens/childrens-industry-news/article/50475-ten-years-later-a-newbery-committee-reunites.html

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February 2, 2012 · 10:40 pm

Neil Gaiman and Co. in NYC

Neil Gaiman and six other authors who contributed to the STORIES: ALL NEW TALES spoke at a lively, humorous, and thoughtful panel discussion at Teachers College and I, along with a few high school students from the Science Fiction/Fantasy Cllub (SciFan as we call ourselves) had the pleasure of being entertained and at the same time gaining some insights into these interesting authors’ minds and their creative processes.

It was well worth the 2-hour wait (playing with my new laptop and new iPad with good WiFi connection in the building) and the two hour readings and Q&As.

The authors present were: Walter Mosley, Joe Hill, Kurt Andersen, Jeffrey Ford, Lawrence Block, Kat Howard, and Neil Gaiman.  Joe Hill acted as the moderator and did a fantastic job with his wit and deadpan humor.  Each of them read a few minutes from their stories and they all sounded quite intriguing — seems like this anthology collects quite a few different genre stories: sci-fi, fantasy, and horror were the ones we heard.  The authors discussed the state of the book world in light of “main stream” literature (those we’re MADE to read in schools?) and popular, genre fictions which, in some way, are leading the field in their popularity and success.

Gaiman stressed the importance of “page turning” writing — that you’re so hooked by a story well told, it doesn’t matter which genre it is; Mosley cautioned the audience to not generalize a generation’s or a perceived group’s experience by saying “we all….” because he believes that each individual has a dramatic struggle in life that does not have to have a War or an exterior pressure (such as racial discrimination) to lend itself to create and read great stories with dramatic arcs.

Kurt Andersen explained why the apocalyptic stories are in fashion by saying that the Baby Boomers generation is getting old and dying and if they are DYING, the world, of course, in their ego-centric mind, is DYING.. What else?  That got quite a hearty collective laugh from the audience.

I have not read the collection and only imagine that the tales are not meant for a child audience but some of the short stories might lend themselves to be shared in our Club come fall.

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Children’s Literature Circle (CLC)

I’ve been running a Faculty Children’s Literature Circle for, I guess, about 10 years here at Dalton.  The purpose of the Circle is simple: to enjoy books published for children and young adults, without a curricular agenda.  We meet once a month (give or take) during the school year and have read picture books, poetry, graphic novels, fiction and nonfiction.

Once in a while, an author or an editor would drop by and talk to us.  Last spring Wendy Lamb (editor for the Newbery winning title When You Reach Me) came and listened to our discussions and met with a few students about the book and this spring Rita William-Garcia and Rosemary Brosnan (author-editor duo for One Crazy Summer) visited with us and answered some of our queries and shared with us some of their insights and process.  Two other authors came to Dalton and spoke to the students and we also prepared ourselves by reading one book from each author: Katherine Paterson and Jacqueline Wilson.

There are about twenty of us who hold quite a mixture of roles: administrators, middle school classroom and English teachers, math teachers, preceptorial faculty, theater teachers, technology department staff, and librarians from lower and middle school.  We have lively discussion and really enjoy each other’s company.

I always wanted to keep a record of what we read and what we talk about during the meetings and now I am actually going to start simply by listing what we read this past academic year in the Circle.  We met six times this year and read novels of various genres.

The Day of the Pelican by Katherine Paterson

Kiki Strike: Inside the Shadow City by Kirsten Miller

Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes by Chris Crutcher

A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula le Guin

The Illustrated Mum by Jacqueline Wilson

One Crazy Summer by Rita William-Garcia

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Counting Down to Mockingjay

Scholastic hosted a lovely cocktail party yesterday for Mockingjay, the third and final book in Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games trilogy. Suzanne was there, reading the final pages from Catching Fire, asking (to a roomful of avid fans) us to cover our ears if we had not read the book. We all laughed at this little jest.

She then took out a few printed pages — exclaiming how they looked so much like the pages from galleys.  And sure enough, it was the first chapter of Mockingjay.  Suzanne read it.  We were all excited and appreciated the emotional beginning of the new book.  But, alas, no advance readers copies and no reviewers copies for this much anticipated title.  We ALL have to wait until August 24th to read the book.

I think I am going to suggest to my Science Fiction/Fantasy book club to host an August 24th reading party in the Library.  It will be a worthy activity not too long before the start of the year.

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Monday Morning Post

This is a post that catches a lot of stuff from the past few weeks:

1. At the Random House summer 2010 preview presentation, this new term surfaced several times: “Tween Clean”

Books that feature probably slightly older teen characters, dealing with more mature themes but without the “scary” YA elements such as curse words, explicit portrayal of sex, drugs, and other taboo topics, designed for pre-teens and young teens (mostly girls?) who crave the books in the traditional YA Section in the library and at bookstores.

2. It is only a week away from when the Battle of the Kids’ Books (SLJ) officially starts on March 15th and we want your VOTE!!! for the Undead title at the final showdown!

3. Just finished re-reading LeGuin’s A Wizard of Earthsea and am in the middle of writing a post on figurative writing and its use (and mis-use) in children’s books.

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More on Gaiman’s Graveyard Book Reading

(I was asked to report on the event at Child_lit so I wrote a bit more about it and decided to post the report here!)

It was a lovely free event (I got there at 4:30 for the 7:00
event so I did get very good seating!) at the Teacher’s College Horace
Mann Auditorium. It seats about 500 and the room (orchestra and
balcony) was filled to capacity. Most of the people in the audience
are Neil’s adult fans — many college/late 20s who obviously are great
fans of Sandman since when he made references to Sandman characters,
the entire room responded. There were, however, a dozen or so
children and when he read (he read the entire first chapter — 33
pages,) those children responded very favorably — laughing at the
right moments (also thanks to Neil’s skillful and dramatic reading).
I sensed that the audience got slightly restless toward the end of the
chapter since there were a couple of places that we felt would have
made a natural break. but the story kept going, after shifting gears.
However, I imagine that if it is broken down to two readings, no one
would have felt the reading was just a tad “long.”

Oh, and we were treated to a very cool, not-before-seen, Coraline
trailer. It IS going to be 3D Stop Motion Animation for the whole
entire deal. Let’s hope for the BEST!

His Q&A section was great, talking about his China trip (one month,
researching myths and legends, and breaking a finger,) his haircut,
his characters in books, whether he’ll write sequels to Neverwhere,
American Gods, etc. (yes, he WOULD if he had the time — and yes,
there are stories set in all these worlds.) He was asked if there is
any difference in writing a “more intricate and complex” book for
adults than a “less so” (grumble) book for young adults/children. He
said No. It’s all putting one word after another. And then he said
that the only difference was the length it took him to write the books
— one (American Gods) took longer than the other (Graveyard Book.)

He talked about how he sometimes worries about his characters coming
out of his books to knock on his door and demand to know WHY he
created him and made them live such miserable and dark lives. He
talked about how he indeed is “their maker.” He imagines of his own
“meeting the maker” moment after his unavoidable demise: “When I ask
WHY ME, Why NOW? I’m afraid of hearing a booming voice from the Sky
that says, ‘Because that makes a BETTER STORY.'” The audience
laughed, of course. (He did the God-Booming voice very well… and my
paraphrasing is nowhere near funny as he was in person.)

I posted a link to the audio file from HarperCollins on my blog. No
pictures or video from me, unfortunately. I believe that the reading
will be (is planned to be) put online soonish — since he is doing ONE
CHAPTER per city on this tour until the whole book is read through.
(And he also talked about audio book recording and how much he LOVES
doing it even though it is really hard work.)

– AND INDEED the VIDEO of his reading can be found HERE.

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Neil Gaiman in NYC

I feel strangely obligated and slightly compelled to at least mention that I was one of the audience members (around 500) who went to hear/see Neil Gaiman read the first chapter of The Graveyard Book. He was as always, charming and witty, and the Q&A section where he answered many questions written on index cards went beautifully humorous. And I, as always, did not bring a camera. Oh, well. I am sure that if you google Neil Gaiman Graveyard Book New York City — you’ll see some more enthusiastic and better prepared fans’ pictures, videos, and audio clips. Here’s an audio file for the entire first chapter as pre-recorded by HarperCollins.

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2008 Anaheim ALA Highlights in Pictures

I’m back home in warm and breezy New York City. It’s beautiful here by the Hudson. The sun just set. And we saw many beautiful white sails on the river in the dimming sunlight…. Now it’s time to upload some pictures from the ALA Annual Conference. I never remembered to bring a camera but this time, I did and boy did I go a bit crazy! I should have taken some pictures of the Notable Children’s Books Committee but I got too nervous and too focused on “work” and never thought of capturing those moments which were super important. These pictures here preserved the moments that I relaxed and had fun with friends — old and new.

But before the people pictures… see the carpet in the Ballroom of the Disneyland Hotel…. can you “Spy Mickey”?

Yes. Monica and I (and Nina) went to Disnleyland!

Peter Sis

Orson Scott Card

Nina Lindsay, Me, Candace Fleming, Eric Rohmann, Richie Partington at the Lucky Strike Bowling Lane (Orange Block)

Andrew Clements

Reunion with the 2002 Newbery Committee
(Kathy Odean, Ken Setterington, Louise Sherman, Jeri Kladder,
Patty Carleton, Me, Vaunda Nelson, Vicky Smith)

Lisa Falk, Vicky Smith, Elizabeth Overmeyer, and Kathy Odean

I also saw Joanne dinner and “glanced” and said hi to Deb. Junko is in Germany and Gail and Shron were not at the Conference.


Yup, it’s me with the 2008 Caldecott Medal winner Brian Selznick. Our footwear matched!

2008 Newbery Winner Laura Amy Schlitz with Nina Linday, Newbery Chair.

2002 Newbery winner Linda Sue Park with me.

Me, Kathy, and Louise pre-banquet

Jonathan Hunt, friend, librarian, reviewer, and 2008 Printz Committee member Monica Edinger, friend, teacher, author, blogger of children’s literature, and 2008 Newbery Committee member. At the banquet.

Me with Hope Anita Smith, poet, author of The Way A Door Closes and Keeping the Night Watch.

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