Category Archives: Other

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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An Interstitial Moment: Pig not Fig

I am a lousy speller even in the best of times, but on a small Iphone with autocorrect my poor spelling and poor typing results in many errors. It is particularly vexing with twitter because tweets are so ephemeral and not easily corrected.  Yesterday I made one that gave me, a Lewis Carroll fan, some amusement. I was tweeting away at Candlewick’s fall preview when I did this one:

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The correct title is Sam and David Dig a Hole and so first of all, my apologies to Candlewick, Mac Barnett, and Jon Klassen.  It is Dig not Fig and Dave not Dace. But I have to say this error for once made me smile as it made me think of this passage from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland:

 

`Did you say pig, or fig?’ said the Cat.

`I said pig,’ replied Alice; `and I wish you wouldn’t keep appearing and vanishing so suddenly: you make one quite giddy.’

`All right,’ said the Cat; and this time it vanished quite slowly, beginning with the end of the tail, and ending with the grin, which remained some time after the rest of it had gone.

 

 

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Children’s Literature New England’s Fall Symposium

Some of the most transformational learning experiences I have ever had occurred at the summer institutes held for years by CLNE (Children’s Literature New England).  I started going in 1999 and didn’t miss a single one until they ended in 2006. I was blown away by them. First of all, the speakers! Not only were they some of the biggest names in the field, but their speeches were amazing. All of them. This was because the organizers saw to it that those speaking knew their audience and prepared accordingly.  But then there were the discussion groups, focusing on a set of books we’d been required to read, field trips, informal times, and more. It was during those summers that I made some important and life-long friendships. CLNE took hold of me and never let go.  And so I can’t recommend enough their forthcoming symposium, “Writing the Past: Yesterday was Once Today” to be held at Vermont College of Fine Arts, November 14-16, 2014. It is bound to be amazing. Here’s the overview:

In the myriad ways the past is presented to young readers, including history, fiction, biography, memoir, poetry and historical fantasy, what questions are raised? For audiences with short personal histories, programmed to look forward, what is the point of looking back? How trapped are readers, young and old, in their own times? Can a novel be more authentic than an historian’s account of the same period? What are the demands of writing, illustrating and reading about our own past or a time before our own? At Writing the Past, we will explore such concerns as authenticity, intention, credibility and narrative voice. In recreating yesterday as today, how does the writer avoid the slippery wisdom of hindsight? Most importantly, by reaching into the past what do we reveal, deliberately or inadvertently, about ourselves?

Presenters at the Symposium will include: M. T. Anderson, Susan Cooper, Sarah Ellis, Shane Evans, Jack Gantos, Katherine Paterson, Elizabeth Partridge, Neal Porter, Leda Schubert, Barbara Scotto, Brian Selznick, Robin Smith, Suzanne Fisher Staples, and Deborah Taylor.

For more details and to register go here.

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Three New Picture Books

Chris Raschka’s The Cosmobiography of Sun Ra: The Sound of Joy is Enlightening.  I’m a Raschka fan from way back. The range and variety of his work is astounding. Among my favorites are three featuring jazz musicians: Charlie Parker Played Be Bop,  John Coltrane’s Giant Steps, and Mysterious Thelonious.  Now along comes Raschka’s appreciation of Sun Ra and it is as marvelous as the others. Sun Ra was one wild dude and Raschka captures his originality in words and images. Not just his life, but the sense and feeling of his music. Gorgeous.

Jose Manual Mateo’s Migrant.  This is a remarkable book providing a highly original look at those migrating across our southern border.  This story of a young Mexican migrant is told in English and Spanish and spectacularly illustrated in the style of a Mayan codex, folding out in a frieze so that young readers can explore the story in a wide variety of ways. Spectacular.

Barbara Kerley and Edwin Fotheringham’s A Home for Mr. Emerson is a gentle and profound portrayal of a remarkable man. Kerley has managed to write in spare and poetic text a lovely view of Emerson in a way that is perfect for a young audience. Fortheringham’s illustrations provide a lighthearted and fond view that perfectly compliment the text.

 

 

 

 

 

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