Monthly Archives: February 2012

Fall Books I’ve Got My Eye On

The following from PW’s Fall 2012 Sneak Previews caught my eye:

  • Splintered by A. G. Howard from Abrams. I’ve been mostly unimpressed by creative efforts to go into new directions with Lewis Carroll’s Wonderland (say the recent film by Tim Burton), but there are occasional successes (most notably Neil Gaiman’s Coraline) so I’m curious.
  • Hereville Book Two by Barry Deutch also from Abrams.  YAY!!
  • The Boxcar Children Beginning: The Aldens of Fair Meadow Farm by Patricia MacLachlan from Albert Whitman. Like many I have an incredible nostalgic love for the first book, but haven’t read any of the other ones.  But this is Patricia MacLachlan so I’m interested.
  • Shannon Hale‘s sequel to Princess Academy has many very, very excited! From Bloomsbury.
  • Lawrence Pringle‘s ICE!: The Amazing History of the Ice Business looks fascinating. From Boyds Mills/Calkins Creek. (I have a fond memory of the book and movie, The Mosquito Coast, which involved a crazy plan to bring ice to the rainforest.)
  • My heart races just typing this: Laura Amy Schlitz’s Splendors and Glooms, “a comic, Victorian-gothic thriller.”  CANNOT WAIT! Candlewick.
  • I’m intrigued by the Chronicle title, Ganesha’s Sweet Tooth by Emily Haynes, illus. by Sanjay Patel, “a picture book account of how Ganesha came to write the Hindu epic poem, the Mahabharata.” Cool.
  • Disney-Hyperion’s got the next Heroes of Olympus on tap, The Mark of Athena. I’m a fan of these, the last one even more than the first in this series. And Athena?  I’m in.
  • From Groundwood there is the intriguing-sounding La Malinche: The Princess Who Helped Cortès Conquer an Empire by Luis Barbeytia, illus. by Pablo Serrano,” the story of the woman who became a translator for Cortès during the Spanish Conquest of Mexico.”
  • Harper Collins has Nelson Mandela by Kadir Nelson. Do I need to say anything? No.
  • HarperCollin’s Balzer and Bray have The Other Normals by Ned Vizzini, “a YA novel about a boy sent to camp to become a man, but ends up on a fantastical journey.”
  • I was shown the F & G for Greenwillow’s Seed by Seed: The Legend and Legacy of John “Appleseed” Chapman by Esme Raji Codell, illus. by Lynne Rae Perkins and it is spectacular.
  • From Holiday House there is The Boston Tea Party by Russell Freedman, illus. by Peter Malone, a historical picture book. Sweet.
  • HMH’s Clarion’s has What Came from the Starby Gary D. Schmidt,  a “fantasy in which sixth-grader Tom receives an unusual gift from a besieged civilization across the cosmos” has me very excited. I’m such a Schmidt fan, not only for his well-known realistic and historical fiction books, but for his less known retelling of RumpelstiltskinStraw into Gold.
  • Also from Clarion the intriguing The Twinning Project by Robert Lipsyte, “in which middle-schooler Tom has an imaginary twin on another planet.” Who, I gather, turns out to be real. I know Lipsyte for his sports books so this seems a very interesting change for him.
  • HMH’s Harcourt has Perry’s European Playlist by Joe Schreiber, an “action-packed sequel to Au Revoir Crazy European Chick” (which I enjoyed for being so over-the-top).
  • Lerner’s got Infinity and Me by Kate Hosford, illus. by Gabi Swiatkowska, “about a girl contemplating the concept of infinity.” Intriguing topic paired with a wonderful illustrator.
  • From Little Brown there is the much hyped title from Glee star Chris Colfer,  The Land of Stories: The Wishing Spell  about “… twins who enter the world of fairy tales and have trouble getting out.” I mean, I do love fairy tales. Besides, you never know, do you?
  • Also in my CAN’T WAIT category is Who Could That Be at This Hour? by Lemony Snicket, the first in the “autobiographical” All the Wrong Questions series. Lucky Little Brown.
  • Also from Little Brown comes The Diviners by Libba Bray, “which kicks off a glitzy murder/mystery/occult series set in New York City during the Roaring ’20s.” Fun!
  • I’m a fan of Cat Valente’s  The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making so am delighted to see that Macmillan’s Feiwel and Friends has The Girl Who Fell beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There “about September’s return to Fairyland and her venture to dark Fairyland Below.”
  • I enjoyed the first in the Ruby Red series (along with a number of my students) so am very happy to see that Macmillan/Holt has the second one, Sapphire Blue by Kerstin Gier, trans. by Anthea Bell due out.  Yay!
  • And then there is Macmillan/Roaring Brook’s The Children’s Book-a-Day Almanac by Anita Silvey. “Nuff said.
  • Macmillan/Neil Porter Books’s Monsieur Marceau by Leda Schubert has me interested because Leda is a friend, because I saw Marceau perform as a child, and because I think it is time for us oldsters to get over our mime hatred as kids today might find them quite interesting!
  • Macmillan/FSG/Ferguson has A Wrinkle in Time: The Graphic Novel by Madeleine L’Engle, illus. by Hope Larson, a newly illustrated edition of the classic.
  • Also from Macmillan/FSG/Feguson is The Quiet Place by Sarah Stewart, illus. by David Small, “in which a girl newly settled in America writes letters to her aunt in Mexico.” Sounds absolutely lovely.
  • Macmillan/FSG/Foster is On the Road to Mr. Mineo’s by Barbara O’Connor, “about the excitement a one-legged pigeon brings to a small town in South Carolina.” I’m a big fan of O’Connor’s gentle small town stories so am looking forward to this one.
  • Macmillan/Holt/Ottaviano has Potterwookie by Obert Skye, about a creature that’s a mash-up of Chewbacca from Star Wars and Harry Potter.  I mean…whaa…?
  • From Penguin/Dutton we’ve got In a Glass Grimmly by Adam Gidwitz. Having been mad for A Tale Dark & Grimm I eagerly await this one.
  • Penguin/Paulsen’s has Each Kindness by Jacqueline Woodson, illus. by E.B. Lewis, “about a girl who learns the importance of friendship and small acts of kindness.” This duo never fails.
  • Random House/Delacourt has Enders by Lissa Price, conclusion to the two-part thriller begun with Starters (which I just read so I want to read the conclusion!).
  • Random/Wendy Lamb’s got  Liar & Spy by Rebecca Stead.  Another that I don’t think I need to say anything more about, do I?
  • Random/Knopf has by David Levithan, “in which a genderless main character ‘A’ inhabits a new person’s body every day and must learn how to navigate it  before moving on.”
  • And then there is The Brides of Rollrock Island by Margo Lanagan, “a selkie tale” that I read reviews of already in the U.K. Love Lanagan so can’t wait for this one! From Random/Knopf.
  • Random House/Schwarz & Wade has One Year in Coal Harbor by Polly Horvath, a sequel to Everything on a Waffle. I’ve been a fan of Horvath ever since The Trolls. Very, very happy to see this one.
  • On the Day I Died by Candace Fleming, “in which nine teenage ghosts in a Chicago cemetery tell the stories of their deaths.” Fascinating. Also from Random/Schwartz & Wade.
  • I love me some Jon Agee so am delighted to see The Other Side of Town  “in which a Manhattan cab driver picks up an odd little guy who leads him to a surprising world” coming from Scholastic/Di Capua.
  • From Scholastic/Graphix comes Drama by Raina Telgemeier, “about 12-year-old Callie’s experiences onstage and off when she gets involved in the school play.”
  • The Savage Fortress by Sarwat Chadda, “a tale of a London-born boy who, on a trip to India, tries to protect his sister from monsters of Hindu myth” from Scholastic/Levine sounds very interesting.
  • Super Grammar by Tony Preciado and Rhode Montijo,” which features easy-to-remember tricks from sentence structure superheroes” from Scholastic/Nonfiction tickles my teacher bones.
  • From S&S/Beach Lane there’s Boot and Shoe by Marla Frazee, “in which a piece of footwear goes missing and disrupts a comfy schedule.”
  • And I adore the work of Petra Mathers so am delighted to see that she has illustrated for S&S/Mcelderry an anthology of favorite rhymes, The McElderry Book of Mother Goose. 


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Some Sites Worth Visiting

I follow all sorts of blog, sites, twitterers, many familiar to all of you too, I’m sure. Here are a handful that may not be.

Brain Pickings I kept coming across cool posts from this site and so began following. I’m clearly late to this party, but maybe some of you are too.  From the About page:

Brain Pickings is the brain child of Maria Popova, a cultural curator and curious mind at large, who also writes for Wired UKThe Atlantic and Design Observer, among others. She gets occasional help from a handful of talented contributors.

There’s all sorts of fascinating stuff on this site, but it was Maria’s featuring new-to-me children’s literature material that made me sit up and take notice. The most recent is “A Brief History of Children’s Picture Books and the Art of Visual Storytelling” a substantive and fascinating review of Martin Salisbury’s book Children’s Picture Books: The Art of Visual Storytelling.

Culture at The Guardian  The children’s book coverage is excellent, but there is related material too that you might miss if you only followed their children’s site.  Say “Hugo and the magic of film trickery.”   Or this provocative piece:  “Beautiful bookshops? No thanks.”

Building a Library I just came across this one via a twitter friend (and my apologies for not remembering just who). It is a young blog by a young dad who is writing smart stuff, say this post on Scholastic/USA Today’s 100 Greatest Books for Kids List.

Pink Me Here’s a blogging librarian I’ve been following for some time. Paula reviews all sorts of material and is invariably blunt, witty, and smart. Recently she came up with a fabulous idea, to provide “Reader Advisory to those actors and actresses who have starred in movies based on books written for kids and teens.” In her first post of this “Librarian to the Stars” series  (and I can’t wait for more) she gives Jennifer Lawrence a few suggestions.


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Germans and their Fairy Tales

Thanks to Heidi Heiner for alerting me to this video that Jack Zipes showed at the recent Grimm Legacies conference (that I so wish I could have attended).


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What About Fact Checking?

I just received a copyedited version of my forthcoming book, Africa Is My Home, and one of the things the copyeditor did is a whole lot of fact checking. I had no idea that was part of her job, but boy am I glad it was. Having seen serious errors in other books I’ve been fretting a great deal about the possibility of some in my own.  Thus my fascination with Dan Kois’s “Facts are Stupid” in which an “essayist and his fact-checker go to battle over the line between true and false.”  I recommend it highly for anyone grappling with the issues of truth in nonfiction, creative nonfiction, essays, historical fiction, and more.


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More Awards

The Cybils were announced on February 14th, Valentine’s Day and a grand bunch they are. Given by the children’s literature blogging community in a wide range of categories, this award is intended to provide another selection of great books for parents and children and all who love children’s books.  This year I was tickled that two of the books I nominated ended up winners:  Carmen Agra Deedy and Randall Wright’s The Cheshire Cheese Cat and Candace Fleming’s Amelia Lost.

This year’s British Red House Children’s Book Award has just gone to Patrick Ness’s A Monster Calls, another personal favorite from last year.  This award is given by children — that is they nominate titles from which a shortlist is created and then vote for the winner.

Still to come are:


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Theater for One: The Incredible Book Eating Boy

The Guardian alerted me to the British company Bootworks delightful-sounding theatrical version of Oliver Jeffers’ The Incredible Book Eating Boy where:

..each five-minute show has an audience of just one person, who watches it from inside a small black box, with the puppeteers dancing round the outside.

Doesn’t that sound wonderful? Here’s a video that gives a teeny taste, but I’m sure hardly even begins to do justice to this remarkable sounding production.

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A Wrinkle in Time Celebration

Yesterday’s Wrinkle in Time’s 50th Anniversary Event was excellent. Symphony Space, Macmillan, Betsy Bird, Bank Street Bookstore, and everyone involved did a fantastic job. The place was packed with a lovely range of kids, parents, and adult admirers of the book (now out in a gorgeous 50th anniversary commemorative edition) and its author, Madeleine L’Engle. The event was part of Symphony Space’s author series, the Thalia Kids’ Book Club. Next up — Carl Hiassen.

The program was a lovely mix that, I think, appealed to this wide audience range. It began with James Kennedy‘s video “A Wrinkle in Time in 90 Seconds.”  After an introduction by one of Madeleine L’Engle’s grandchildren Betsy Bird moderated a wonderful conversation with Lois Lowry (wow), Katherine Paterson (wow,wow), Rebecca Stead (wow, wow, wow), and R.L. Stine (wow, wow, wow, wow).  I hope someone else blogs about this as I didn’t take notes.  (There are some tweets though.) I do remember Betsy saying she didn’t think a Newbery Committee today would select the book because of its religious content. Having been on a recent Committee I beg to differ.

Next was one of the absolute highlights of the afternoon — Jane Curtin reading from the book. She was amazing, amazing, amazing.  After her was another excellent performance by a group of high school students.  Children’s literature expert Leonard S. Marcus (who has an adult biography of L’Engle coming out this fall) provided closing remarks, featuring a wonderful story about one of L’Engle’s performances.  Between the different presentations were lovely videos and images including the new book trailer and others of L’Engle and her book.

Personal tidbit: for many years I lived a block away from L’Engle and often went with my elderly father to Henry’s, a restaurant in the ground floor of her building. Because my mother had been in a wheel chair for several years before her death I was always aware of elderly women in wheelchairs and often noticed one when we dined there.  Years later someone told me it was Madeleine L’Engle. Last night, hearing this story,  one of her granddaughters told me she loved the place and would go often.

It is hard to do an event about a beloved iconic author and book that speaks to a range of ages, but yesterday it happened. Bravo, Symphony Space, Macmillan, Betsy Bird, and everyone else involved.

(N.B. Among my handful of tweets yesterday during the event I mentioned that I’d loved the book so much as a kid that I’d done some illustrations for it.  @bankstreet replied, “@medinger Oh, please show them to us!” So I am — the above being my teen take on Meg Murry.)

A truncated version of this post is also up at Huffington Post.


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This Isn’t My First Battle

SLJ’s Battle of the Kids’ Books OFFICIAL (well, as official as anything we do at the BoB) Trailer!

Created by the amazing Everdeen Sisters (AKA Summer Ogata and Lauren Downey). More about them and their making of the trailer here.

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The Mysterious Mr.Snicket is Returning this Fall

As he did so brilliantly with A Serious of Unfortunate Events*, Mr. Lemony Snicket is teasing us by giving us small bits of information about his new series, coming out this fall from Little Brown. For those who weren’t following the previous series in real-time, Mr. Snicket not only wrote wonderfully clever and witty books about the very sad Baudelaire children, but also did some absolutely brilliant promotion between books. There were websites with daily clues, wonderful author events (where Mr. Snicket would suddenly be indisposed requiring one Mr. Daniel Handler  to fill in and often including an accordion), and various other delightful diversions.

The new series, All the Wrong Questions, purports to be autobiographical and about the elusive writer’s childhood. The first volume Who Could That Be at This Hour? will be out October 23rd.  Can’t wait!

* My appreciation of this series can be read here.

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The Judges Are Coming!

To launch this year’s Battle of the Kids’s Books SLJ did a smashing article in which four of our distinguished judges were revealed.  Starting today we will be celebrating each of our judges with individual posts. The first four will be of those already announced, but then we will go with those who were not. So if you want to know ALL of this year’s judges keep a close eye over the next few weeks over at the BoB site!

As for what they will be judging — we will be announcing that closer to the time of the actual Battle.


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