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Simon and Schuster Preview with Ashley Bryan

What a treat… What a marvelous treat…


It is a celebration of Ashley’s 90th birthday (July 13) and we got to hear him reading to us his new book: Can’t Scare Me.  Here is just a little taste.  Because I need to focus on him now.

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The ABC Of It: Why Children's Books Matter

I plan to go see this exhibit (looks AMAZING!! — but of course, it is curated by Children’s Literature Scholar Leonard Marcus and put up in the Main New York Public Library space!) — soon!  Even if it will be around until March 2014… if you plan to come to NYC in the next 8 months, be sure to include this on your itinerary:


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Penguin Young Readers Preview

I had a great time at Penguin Young Readers Group fall preview yesterday.  Here are some things that I’m personally excited about:

Robin McKinley has a stand alone new book with magic and dogs called Shadows coming out in September.

Counting by 7s by Holly Sloan has already gathered fans from its galley and will be available in August — about a group of misfits making their own kind of “surrogate family” to face the world together.  I can’t wait to read it!


I like the cover of The Twistrose Key by author Tone Almhjell.  The setting is in Norway where she grew up and it’s compared to His Dark Materials!

Nancy Werlin has another book coming out as a sequel/companion to her very popular book Impossible, entitled Unthinkable. It’s a “puzzle” novel with heated romance…

Control by Lydia Kang is set in an interesting sounding futuristic world about genetic harvesting, bonds of outcasts, survivors, a promised page turner.

The Grimm Conclusion by Adam Gidwitz will be out in October where we will actually be meeting the Narrator face to face who will show his own vulnerability and explore how a story can be told and reshaped…  Can’t wait!!!!

Gayle Forman’s follow up to Just One Day is coming put in October called Just One Year.

Andrew Smith’s winter book sounds exactly like the kind of crazy imaginative story that I’d LOVE to read.  It’s called.  Grasshopper Jungle.  

I have to include this summary from Goodreads: ”

It is the end of the world, and nobody knows anything about it. Except for Austin and his best friend Robby. This is a story about bugs, urinal factories, Polish immigrants, the Great Depression, medieval Catholic saints, the war in Afghanistan, the caves of Altamira, President Nixon, an inflatable whale, cigarettes, corn, spawning walleyes, and the Rolling Stones.

And the end of the world. It’s unstoppable. You will get lost and found again on all the roads that keep crossing and crossing in the small town of Ealing, Iowa, at a place called Grasshopper Jungle.”

Mike Lupica’s new book will be about football: QB1: Inspired by the Football royal family of the Mannings, this book shows how a 14 year old high school freshman deals with the burden to be under the huge shadows cast by his father and older brother.

And there is A New Alex Rider? by Anthony Horowitz — Russian Roulette .. An origin story about Yassen and how he was trained and became the cold blooded assassin. I am actually going to read this as soon as my other books are don!!!

Celebrity chef Giada de Laurentiis has penned a series of picture books with travels and food for the younger readers. Sounds exactly right for my school where food is becoming a major curricular component.

Penguin Audio is presenting newly recorded Roald Dahl… With celebrity readers (Kate Winslet, Douglas Hodge, David Walliams, Stephen Fry, Peter Serafinowicz and more.) I am quite excited about this – check out the UK page for all the details.

Humor is always in demand. Hopefully debut author Matthew Ward delivers a lot of it that will resonate with young readers in Fantastic Family Whipple featuring a family that break all sorts of world records that don’t exist in our real world.

The Creature Department by Robert Paul Weston has another great cover that glows in the dark and will be accompanied by animated creatures online upon its fall release.

Intrigued by Meg Rosoff’s new and edgy YA book called Picture Me Gone.

The conclusion to Legend and Prodigy, Champion will be out on November.  We were told that it’s a tear-jerker… wha??

Brotherhood by A.B. Westrick is set in Reconstruction era and about the establishment of the KKK.

Author Julie Berry of All the Truth That’s In Me came and shared with the attendees her creative process of this beautifully written romantic mystery set in a “watercolor-esque) Colonial America. The book started its life as an attempt at a second person narration but the final version is still from a first person point of view. Berry didn’t want to burden the very personal tale with too many historical details, but she still obsessively researched the time period to give it an authentic atmosphere. She hates anachronistic elements in historical fiction and is conscientious to not use words for whichever decade she set her stories in. BRAVO for an author who cares!!!  I started the first few pages of the book on my way home.. and was instantly hooked by its writing!  Can’t wait to finish the book I’m reading now to delve into it soon.

Until It Hurts to Stop by Jennifer R. Hubbard is about the aftermath of bullying: years after the perpetrator has forgotten about the incidents, the victim still remembers and lives its effects.

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At the Penguin Young Readers Spring/Summer 2013 Preview

This morning I attended the Penguin Young Readers preview — an event I don’t always get to go due to teaching scheduling conflicts.  So glad that this happened during our spring break and this is a somewhat lengthy summary of what transpired, not limited by 144 characters per post even though it is 6-8 hours late!

I am excited about these follow-up to series that I know both myself and my students have enjoyed:

A new series of Winnie’s brother (from The Winnie Years) Ty by Lauren Myracle, the fall publication of Adam Gidwitz’s Grimm Conclusion, The Mouse with the Question Mark Tail, a companion story of Secrets at Sea which I adored, by Richard Peck, Al Capone Does My Homework (the stakes are even higher now that Moose’s father is the deputy warden and their family’s safety is threatened) by Choldenko, Wells Bequest, a follow-up story of The Grimm Legacy that I just read last week, and the sequel to Marie Lu’s Legend, Prodigy.

And these are books that I’d love to get my hands on and read:

No Easy Way Out by Dayna Lorentz sounds intriguing: quarantined shopping mall full of teens during a biological weapon attack.

Moxie and the Art of Rule Breaking by Erin Dionne is compared to The Westing Game.  Set in Boston, an art theft caper and a treasure hunt.

After Iris by Natasha Farrant: a British import that has gotten some strong love in house.

Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea by April Genevieve Tucholke sounds like a delicious horror novel.

The new fantasy trilogy by Jane Yolen and her son Adam Stemple The Seelie War.  The first title The Hostage Prince was introduced.  Sounds promising.

Rogue by Lyn Miller-Lachmann is book on a timely topic of the struggle and experiences of children with Asperger Syndrome, based partially on the author’s personal (and apparently painful) experiences.

RazorBill (an imprint) made a fun book trailer with TV celebrities for Firecracker by David Iserson.  Too bad I couldn’t find a link to it on YouTube.

Rick Yancy’s new SciFi thriller The 5th Wave has already received 3 stars.

Is P.K. Pinkerton a boy or a girl? We still won’t find out in the second installment of Caroline Lawrence’s series (rebranded from Western Mysteries to P.K. Pinkerton…) called P.K. Pinkerton and the Petrified Man. (The first is The Case of the Deadly Desperados.) We are promised that all will be revealed in book three.  If you don’t know about the first book — seek out and read — it features a main character on the autism spectrum in a time where the terminology did not exist.

Golden Boy by Tara Sullivan deals with a current and horrific subject in Tanzania and other African countries: albino people being hunted, killed or mutilated for their body parts due to superstitious beliefs of their magical benefits.  (I found this article on the NPR site: Tanzania’s Albinos Face Constant Threat Of Attack for some background information.)

The Puffin Chalk classics series got a whimsical and elegant repackaging of beloved books. The texture of the cover is just so fun to the touch.

Proxy by Alex London sounds like a futuristic Whipping Boy, where young and rich youths pay for their Proxies to receive punishments for their wrong doings — including death sentencing for killing someone during a car crash.

Really enjoyed The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt, illustrated by Oliver Jeffers.

Ashes on the Waves by Mary Lindsay is based on Annabel Lee by Poe, one of my favorite poems in the whole wide world.  So, hopefully this book does not disappoint!

Our surprise lunch guests were Andrea Cremer and David Levithan … They came to talk about Invisibility, their new collaborated novel of a girl who is in love with a boy who is invisible.  It’s an exploration of what true love means, set against a magical world backdrop in contemporary America.  They discussed their collaborative process — how sometimes one was surprised by the twists and turns the co-author conjured up and then had to figure out clever and smooth ways to continue the storyline.  We all received a copy of the book.  I can imagine many young readers eager to devour this book.  Next week, when I go back to school — it will land in someone’s hands.

Finally, I have to say how much I love Sharyn November’s description of certain young girl readers whom I often encounter: “Occasional readers: girls who prefer reading magazines to books.” I am always on the lookout for books that are just right for them: dealing with topics they will enjoy, written in ways that are easy to get into and digest, and offering quite a bit of thought provoking issues and solutions.  I hope the new book that is coming out in July 45 Pounds, More or Less will satisfy such readership and make my inner morally-concerned-librarian happy!

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Imag•N•O•Tron Demonstration Video

Moonbot Studio, owned and supervised by William Joyce, illustrator extraordinaire (and now Oscar Winning animation shorts producer) has released something that looks really interesting: their Imag•N•O•Tron App for the iPad — an “experience enhance” device that goes with Moonbot picture books. Of course, right now, all the Moonbot Studio has to offer is the tie-in with The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore – but the potential is definitely here.

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Wonder-struck by Brian Selznick

I already wrote about how much I enjoyed Brian’s new book.  It’s finally out in the store!!  Glorious.

In the past week, I had the opportunity to attend two events hosted by Scholastic and, they were as GLORIOUS as the book itself.

Monday night the book launch party was held against the the magnificent Milstein Hall of Ocean.  It was simply the coolest setting for a book party and Brian couldn’t have been more gracious or more humorous as a speaker, or more passionate about the museum and all that it holds, or more humble about his own work.  Here are some pictures taken on my phone that evening:

On Wednesday evening, Brian spoke about his inspirations, work methods, and the editorial process of the writing of this new book.  This took place in the Scholastic Auditorium and he was brought on stage under strobe lights and the rumblings of thunder sound effects.  We also got to watch the trailer for HUGO (the upcoming movie based on The Invention of Hugo Cabret) and were told that he saw the movie for the first time and was moved by it.

Brian spoke eloquently and answered very thoughtful questions from the audience with candor and humor.  A sign-language interpreter was on stage with him and I spent moer than half of the time watching the dance of the hands and the dramatic postures and facial expressions of the deaf communication system.  It was beautiful to behold and we were all thoroughly wonder-struck!

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Start Reading for the SLJ BoB Now!!!

Hey, world — for those who are passionate about children’s books, here is another chance to read, think, talk, debate, and speculate about the top 2011 books for young readers.  Congratulations to the sixteen contenders of School Library Journal’s Battle of the Kids’ Books, 2011 — which will take place in mid- to late- March.

  • THE CARDTURNER by Louis Sachar
  • A CONSPIRACY OF KINGS by Megan Whalen Turner
  • COUNTDOWN by Deborah Wiles
  • THE DREAMER by Pam Munoz Ryan
  • THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE BARBIE by Tanya Lee Stone
  • KEEPER by Kathi Appelt
  • THE ODYSSEY by Gareth Hinds
  • ONE CRAZY SUMMER by Rita Williams-Garcia
  • THE RING OF SOLOMON by Jonathan Stroud
  • SUGAR CHANGED THE WORLD by Marc Aronson and Marina Budhos
  • A TALE DARK AND GRIMM by Adam Gidwitz
  • THEY CALLED THEMSELVES THE K.K.K. by Susan Campbell Bartoletti
  • TRASH by Andy Mulligan
  • WILL GRAYSON, WILL GRAYSON by John Green and David Levithan

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Waiting for SLJ’s Battle of the Kids’ Books…

As my friend Monica blogged yesterday at Educating Alice, we are waiting for the official announcements of the 2011 Battle of the Kids’ Books. (Last year’s matches and decisions are still available for interested readers.)  The 16 contenders from 2010 have been sitting behind the curtain for more than a month now and the judges are all confirmed.  The books are being delivered to the judges.  They will be read, and considered carefully. And very soon, the decisions will come into our inboxes.  The excitement mounts on our end, eagerly waiting to share all these with you eventually!

Even though we’ve had to leave many many beloved 2010 books off of the finalists list, Monica (Edinger,) Jonathan (Hunt,) and I (Roxanne Feldman) also had the pleasure and freedom of considering a wide range of titles: genre-wise and age-wise, especially.  You will see graphic novels, speculative fictions, nonfiction titles, and realistic fictions, for both younger and older readers and originally published in America and overseas.  In our minds, they were and are all winners already, even though many of them did not make it on the recent Youth Literature Awards slate.

Hope you will seek out, buy, borrow, and read all of them and join in on the action by voting and by posting your comments, and by encouraging your young readers to do the same!


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Fairy Tales On My Mind

Starting yesterday, I am teaching an 8-week course for the Youth Literature (online) Certificate program on Fairy Tales. The course is called: Does the Shoe Fit: Fairy Tales as Children’s Literature. After just a couple of days, I can see that my students are well versed in this genre and can’t wait to start the meaty discussion with them once we start reading critically the tales and the theories.

If anyone has particularly great resources on line, please drop me a line in the comments area!


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Save New York Public Libraries

Petition to Save New York Public Libraries

This is reposted from a former student of mine who attends Stanford right now.  She would like me to spread the word and hopefully get enough people to sign the petition so that we can really SAVE the New York Public Library Systems from facing another budget cut:
New York City is facing (more) budget cuts. The city government is considering cutting funding for the public library system. Considering the state of education in New York (and in the country at large), squeezing public libraries is not the best way to save money — the societal cost is just too great.

Please sign this e-petition to reject budget cuts for, and closure of, public libraries in New York (even if you’re not a New Yorker):


Spread the word.

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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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Pining for Kiki III, Waiting for Katniss #3, and Excited about Bitterblue!

I (and thousands, if not millions of young readers) need, need, need, to read the NEXT INSTALLMENT in the Kiki Strike series.  The second book was published in 2007.  It’s 2010 and I know the manuscript has not even been submitted for book 3.  Rumor has it that the projected publication date for the third book is 2012 — FIVE — FIVE years after its predecessor.   A child who discovered Kiki Strike and the Shadow City in 2006 at age 9 will be 15 in 2012 and almost too old for it!  We collectively BEG YOU, Kirsten Miller, to finish writing book three and let us have the joy of reading it!  (But, at the same time… we DO understand that you want to make a good book, a good story, and to not disappoint your loyal fans — so, if you are having trouble, we wish you the best at overcoming the problems!)

Mockingjay, as the third (and final?) book in the Hunger Games series is titled, will be out in the stores on August 24th, 2010.  The cover and announcement can be found at the Scholastic’s blog: On Our Minds @ Scholastic.  What do you think of the color?  And isn’t David Levithan hilarious?  (Quote: “Panem is not shaken up when District 9 is nominated for a best picture Oscar.”)

And I can’t be more excited about the prospect of reading Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore — which is some sort of a sequel to Graceling but, as the title indicates, will be about Bitterblue and her Grace.  I want to be surprised,  moved, thrilled, and impressed by it the same way I did for both Graceling and Fire.  And Ms Cashore, keep it up with the one-word titles!  It will be your signature move.

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The Mysterious Dozen

Next Friday, my 4th and 5th graders will participate in a grade-wide Library Quiz Show: Do You Know Books?!

This year, I picked twelve books for the children to read and enjoy and many of them have signed up to participate.  These are all mysteries and thus I named this year’s Quiz Show “The Mysterious Dozen Edition.”

Here’s the list of titles:

  • Wolf Rider by Avi
  • The Sisters Grimm: Once Upon a Crime by Michael Buckley
  • The Face on the Milk Carton by Caroline B. Cooney
  • Last Shot: A Final Four Mystery by John Feinstein
  • Running Out of Time by Maragret Haddix
  • Flush by Carl Hiaasen
  • The Ghost in the Tokaido Inn by Dorothy and Thomas Hoobler
  • Stormbreaker by Anthony Horowitz
  • Regarding the Fountain: A Tale in Letters, of Liars and Leaks by Kate Klise
  • Kiki Strike: Inside the Shadow City by Kirsten Miller
  • Holes by Louis Sachar
  • A Series of Unfortunate Events: A Bad Beginning by Lemony Snicket

I am re-reading Holes and just finished re-reading The Bad Beginning and The Face on the Milk Carton. SO much fun had I!  Will write another post on these re-reading experiences.

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Taking a Moment to Mourn Salinger

J.D. Salinger, celebrated and reclusive author, dies at age 91, as reported in Boston Globe and many other news sources.

I still remember reading Catcher in the Rye as a high school student in Taiwan.  I read the Chinese translation, of course.  And I don’t think I quite “got” the book — partly because the portrayed culture was so foreign to me and I suspect that some meanings might have lost in the translation.  Still, I treasured the book and the almost outlandish experience I had encountering the book.  Years later, when I started work on my Master’s in children’s lit at Simmons College, I re-read the book in English and was delighted to fall in love with it again.  My teen, NYC independent school students still read and are moved by the tale of Holden — more than half a century after its publication (in 1951.)

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The Winners and Honors: 2010

A link to the official press release from the American Library Association announcing the 2010 Youth Media award winners and honorees.

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Psyched about Moomins!!!

Finnish author Tove Jansson’s beloved classic series of the Moomintrolls (Moomins) will be reissued this year to celebrate its 65th anniversary by Henry Holt/Macmillan.  All eight of them will have a snazzy and  fresh look.  They are ready to be re-introduced to the next generation of young readers.

Anyone unfamiliar with the Moomins and their sweet but often comically unfortunate adventures might gain a bit of an insight by visiting the official characters site here:

On Moomin Characters Ltd.

Not available in English, here’s the site for the 65th anniversary illustration competition.  It is absolutely joyful to look at and listen to :)


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Some Book News from Midwinter

The American Library Association’s Midwinter conference is happening in Boston as I post.  The weather has been very gentle on all attendees.

Some books to look forward to (and to wait for…)

* Kristin Cashore is writing the sequel to Graceling.. no Katsa and Po do not get a dog (as some fans want her to write about) … The book’s central character will be Bitterblue.

* The prequel (a few hundred years previous) to Philip Reeve’s Mortal Engines is Fever Crumb and will be out in April, from Scholastic.

* A new Rick Riordan series called “The Kane Chronicles” (Book One: The Red Pyramid) will be released on May 4 from  Hyperion Books.

* For the fans of Kiki Strike #1 and #2, it seems that you will have to maintain your patience since there is no release date for the third book yet.  (sigh)

* Yes,  The King of Clonmel (“Ranger’s Apprentice” #8) will be out in May while #7 (Erak’s Ransom) already hit the story earlier this month.

Tomorrow, we find out what books win major Children’s Literary awards.  Quite exciting.

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2 upcoming fantasy novels for the fans

Nancy Farmer’s last book of The Sea of Trolls trilogy is to be published in late October.  It is a truly satisfying read.  And Kristin Cashore’s thrilling romantic fantasy, Fire, will be out in early October.  Great treats for fantasy fans.

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Heavy Medal Blog

Heavy Medal : the Mock Newbery blog at SLJ, is back in business.  This year it will be hosted by Nina Lindsay and Jonathan Hunt.  I say HOORAY for the two of them.  It will be a fabulous run!

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