Category Archives: Other

Coretta Scott King Book Awards

Over at the Nerdy Book Club today I’ve got a post highlighting this year’s Coretta Scott King award winners with the hope that it will help more learn about this important award.

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Peter Pan Live

I’m very curious about the December 4th NBC live production of Peter Pan (with the just-announced Christopher Walken as Captain Hook).  I grew up with the yearly Mary Martin version (first broadcast in 1960) and, as a result, know the songs inside and out. I wonder, will they have Peter played by a woman as is usually the case with this particular version of Barrie’s story? And then there is that very problematic Tiger Lily American Indian story line. How are they going to make that acceptable for audiences today?

If you want a taste of the 1960 Tiger Lily, here she is as played by the very blonde Sondra Lee:

 

 

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Putting a Stop on the Middle Grade Novel’s Increasing Girth

Travis Jonker has a manifesto: All Middle Grade Novels Should Be 192 Pages. No Exceptions.  I like it. A lot. But still do have an exception.  Here’s my comment on his post:

Yes!!! I am with you on this with a caveat (see below). I have always tried to keep my read-alouds (to my 4th grade class) to as close to 200 pages as possible, but it has become harder and harder to stick to that what with many terrific mg books being way more than that. (One of my favorites from last year — Kathi Appelt’s True Blue Scouts — is 352 pages. On the other hand, Jennifer Holm’s forthcoming The Fourteenth Goldfish, which I read aloud to my class last year, is a just right 208 pages.) My reasoning is that I feel that if some of my listeners aren’t 100% into the book (and I can’t believe all of them are rapt no matter how great a reader I am and how great many of us think the book is — they have their own tastes after all), they aren’t stuck with it too too long. And I also think it applies so much to newly independent readers who can lose steam.

That said, I think there is a place for books like Andy Griffith’s 26 Story Treehouse (352 pages) and Stephen Patis’s Timothy Failure (304 pages), books that are light, easy reading for kids who may not gravitate to the arguably more literary titles along the lines of those you mention. They love the longer length of these sorts of books. Makes them feel they are there with those reading so many of the other  longer popular titles (e.g. Percy Jackson or Harry Potter).

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Reading Rainbow, The Doors, and Jimmy Fallon

This is awesome (and from 2012 — how did I miss it?). Via Elizabeth Law.

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Walter Dean Myers: There’s Work to Be Done

 

I believe in families, in the strength of families, and that the strength of a people can be determined by the strength of the families within that people. In December of 2015 the black family will have been established legally in the United States for 150 years. It was December, 1865, that the 13th Amendment abolishing slavery became part of the United States Constitution.

What I proposed to my family was an exhibit, to run in the fall of 2015 outlining the trials and triumphs of the American black family in documents….

Slave documents would constitute the first part of the exhibit, with the second part being a celebration of what marriage has meant to us over the years. It would be great if I could get Obama to declare November 1015 A Celebration of Black Families month. Anyone have his personal cell?….

It takes time to mount an exhibit…. It’s a great challenge but I love it. There’s work to be done.

Excerpts from “150 Years of the Black Family,” a May 2014 post on Walter Dean Myer’s blog.

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Walter Dean Myers R.I.P.

I think my life is special. In a way it seems odd that I spend all of my time doing only what I love, which is writing or thinking about writing. If everyone had, at least for part of their lives, the opportunity to live the way I do, I think the world would be a better place.

I believe that everyone is intelligent. I believe that everyone can be creative. I like just about everyone I meet. For me, life has been good and it’s up to me to appreciate it. I hope that the next book, story or poem that I write will be worthy of the time the reader spends with it. If it is then my life is successful. If it’s not, then I’ll try again.

The above is from Walter Dean Myers’s website.

The world is a lesser place without this remarkable, brilliant, caring, and —yes— very special man who did seem to like everyone he met.  He touched so many through his books, his public appearances, his personal contacts, and so much more than most individuals can do. I think of him as a mentor as I’m sure countless others do too whether they met him in person or through his books and writing. I will treasure all of those always.

His life was successful. A million times over.

My sincere condolences to his family and friends.

walter dean myers

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Summer Reading Suggestions from My Fourth Graders

Well, they won’t be “my” fourth graders after tomorrow. That is when we have our annual Arch Day when students go through an arch “and into the next grade.”  That said, today they are still fourth graders, great readers who, when I asked for some summer reading suggestions for their peers, had a great time.

The rules were the suggestions had to come from their independent reading choices; that meant they couldn’t list books I’d read to them or others they’d read for class projects.  Being avid readers, this wasn’t a problem. In fact, what was a problem for some was limiting their list to ten!  What I love is how the lists show what wide-ranging readers they are. You will see that one moment they are reading very sophisticated books and at the next something young and light.

Follow this link to my school’s open blog  to see some from each child’s list  to give you a taste of their wide reading range and to use when looking for books for children in your own environment.

 

 

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Bank Street College’s Best Children’s Books of the Year

Bank Street College Center for Children’s Literature‘s 2014 edition of their Best Children’s Books of the Year is now out. Here’s a description from their announcement:

The Best Children’s Books of the Year, 2014 Edition includes more than 600 titles chosen by the Children’s Book Committee as the best of the best published in 2013. In choosing books for the annual list, committee members consider literary quality and excellence of presentation as well as the potential emotional impact of the books on young readers. Other criteria include credibility of characterization and plot, authenticity of time and place, age suitability, positive treatment of ethnic and religious differences, and the absence of stereotypes.

Here are links to their honorees in the different age groups:

*Thank you Children’s Book Committee for including Africa is My Home on this list.

 

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Reinventing the Bookstore

When online shopping offers choice, convenience and competitive prices, why would anyone go to an actual shop? To try on clothes, perhaps. To sit on sofas or lie on beds. But if you’re after music, film or books, you’re more likely to go straight to the internet. In the digital age, bricks-and-mortar shops have to work much harder to attract our attention, let alone custom. Brands rip out and refit their stores every few years: interior design is, clearly, already crucial to their fortunes. But could design go further, and lure us away from our tablets and back onto the high street?

Curious to explore this territory, we asked four leading architecture and design practices to create a shop. Specifically, in the age of Amazon and e-books, a bookshop to save bookshops.

Four British architect and design firms were invited to reinvent the brick and mortar bookstore. Read about their results here.

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A Few BEA Moments

While I did not make it to the Javits itself this year to participate in the heady event that is  BookExpo (nor will I get there today for the associated Book Con), I did make it to some related events. (Warning: lots of name dropping and gushing follows.)

On Tuesday I went to Candlewick’s preview and got very excited with their enthusiastic presentation of their fall books. One faux pas on my part: when some Toon Books books were passed out for us to look at while Françoise Mouly spoke about them, I tweeted the following before I understood I couldn’t KEEP the one I had and then felt a little silly when I got a particular response to it. Ah well, I’ll get the book soon enough!

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Wednesday was SLJ’s Day of Dialog.  The programming, as always, was fabulous.  Kudos to SLJ for keeping the numbers down. While this may frustrate those who are shut-out of going it makes for a relatively intimate event unlike BEA.  More about this year’s event here, here, and here.  And here are a few of my tweets and photos:

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On Thursday I went to the Random House party where I had an interesting celebrity moment.  Now there were some awesomely famous writers at the event. It was fun, for instance, to catch up with Raquel (R. J. Palacio) and chat about the incredibly fun project she is doing with Tom Angleberger and Adam Gidwitz — the retelling the first three Star Wars movies. But first I made a bee line for the latest actress-turned-children’s-book-author, Jane Lynch.  Just because I watched the first few seasons of Glee mainly because of her wonderful portrayal of Sue Sylvester.  And so when I saw her iconic face I couldn’t resist talking to her and getting a photo (with my friend Roxanne Feldman).  She was, not unexpectedly, lovely. I hope her book is too!

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After that I went to a very special dinner with Peachtree Publishers where I met Carmen Agra Deedy who, along with Randall Wright, wrote one of my absolute favorite books of 2011, The Cheshire Cheese Cat and the book’s illustrator, the incredible illustrator, Barry Moser.  Being able to talk at length  with these two and Peachtree’s fabulous publisher, Margaret Quinlin, (an Alice-phile, I discovered) was a complete thrill.

And last night, Friday, I went to a party for Candlewick staff, authors, and illustrators of which I’m now one (which I still can’t always believe!) at the very-appropriately-chosen Library Hotel. Had a great time chatting with various wonderful Candlewick folk. I have to admit being especially touched when Kate DiCamillo asked me how school was as she remembered our conversation at the same party last year when I was very glum about some tough social stuff that had been happening with my class. She has a remarkable memory in addition to being just incredibly empathetic in person as well as in her books.

So that is BEA for me this year. (It was unfortunately the same set of days as my 40th college reunion so I had to miss a cocktail party with Anna Quinlan — one of my classmates — on Thursday and a gala dinner last night. So today I’m catching up with an old friend in town for it.)

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