Monthly Archives: October 2013

NCTE: Teri Lesesne, Rita Williams-Garcia, M.T. Anderson, Gene Yang, and Me

Since NCTE is in nearby Boston this year and knowing my book would just be out, I put together what looks to be a stimulating panel on historical fiction, “Inventing the Past: Historical Fiction Comes Alive.”  Here’s the annotation:

Complex, creative, and compelling, historical fiction challenges young readers with ideas from a wide range of times and places, offering rich instructional possibilities in this time of Common Core. Join M. T. Anderson, Monica Edinger, Rita Williams-Garcia, and Gene Yang in an exploration of the creation and teaching of fictional works about the past.

Our chair is  Professor Teri Lesesne (aka The Goddess of YA Literature and an unceasing advocate for teachers). Looks pretty awesome, does it not?  It is 11 -12:15 on Friday, November 22nd in the Hynes Convention Center.


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What do Strange and hammer throwing have in common?

BBC One/BBC America co-productionJonathan Strange And Mr Norrellstarts shooting next week with Ray Donovan‘s Eddie Marsan and Olivier award-winning Bertie Carvel (Matilda) starring in the lead roles. Based on the bestselling novel by Susanna Clarke, the seven-part series has been adaptedby Wallander‘s Peter Harness.

From this.  Hurrah!

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Congratulations to Rebecca Stead!

I am delighted that Rebecca Stead’s Liar & Spy won this year’s Guardian Children’s Book Prize.  I was a big fan of the book and so am thrilled to bits to see it get this well-deserved award. Congratulations to all!

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My Battle/Birthday Bunny

My birthday was a few weeks ago and for fun I decided to read aloud Jon Scieszka, Mac Barnett, and Matthew Myers’ wonderful and subversive-to-the-depths Battle Bunny.  I thought I’d made clear just what it was, but my class was silent and I was puzzled. Later I discovered they thought someone named Alex had really destroyed the book and were very confused and even a bit dismayed. Once I made things clear they breathed sighs of relief! Ah well… I will just have to do better next time, because I adore the book (and already wrote a longer post review articulating my my enthusiasm).

So how fun to see My Birthday Bunny — a site with all sorts of crazy things you can do with the book created by Bank Street College librarian Allie Bruce. It is fun to navigate through and provides all sorts of great ways to get kids to take the crazy ideas of the book out and beyond.  To my mind, of particular fun, is the blank Birthday Bunny provided along with the invitation to kids to make their own crazy messed-up re-write. They’ve already got a bunch here.





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Africa is My Home: A Bookstore Event and a Few More Things

Thanks to everyone at the Bankstreet Bookstore, especially manager Andy Laties, and to all who came to yesterday’s event. It was really, really  lovely to see my family, colleagues, friends, and students with their families.  It was surprisingly daunting to be on the author-side of things, but everyone was so positive and interested that I was able to relax, read, answer questions, and sign. (If you weren’t able to make it you can still order signed copies from the bookstore.)





Now that the book is out in the world it is really exciting to see mentions, features, and blog reviews. Here are some I came across recently:

  •  The University of Arizona’s World of Words site is featuring the book here.
  • Debbie Ridpath Ohi wrote this lovely review in which  she wishes the book had been around when she was a kid. Me too, Debbie!
  • In Nancy Bo Flood’s kind review she writes with great appreciation of my work and that of illustrator Robert Byrd.
  • Kendal Rautzhan featured the book in her round-up of books on compassion.

And finally, for those in New York City, Robert Byrd’s glorious final spread from the book is in this year’s Original Art Exhibit at the Society of Illustrators — go see it!


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Philip Pullman, Shaun Tan, and Grimm Fairy Tales


Last summer, at a wonderful international children’s literature conference, I met Klaus Humann of Aladin Verlag at which time, among other things, we chatted about his publishing a German edition of Philip Pullman’s Grimm fairy tales retellings. It was interesting to talk to him and later to Philip about the interesting situation of translating a British retelling of what was, after all, originally a collection of stories written and published in German.

I think I also did vaguely know, but forgot until now that Shaun Tan was to do the cover. But now I just learned that he did much more than that, he did illustrations too, small sculptures for each of the stories, no less!  Of course, I ordered it immediately.  You can see a few of them and read about Shaun’s thinking about the creation of them here.  


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NYC Parent Marjorie Ingall on Ethical Parenting

As someone who teaches in an elite NYC private school I am very aware of the moral quandaries our parents find themselves in, a situation that was highlighted in the recent New York Magazine article, “Ethical Parenting.” Not being a parent myself I am cautious about judging those who are, but  have to admit to discomfort at the justifications made for actions that benefit some at the expense of others. And so I was very happy to read  Marjorie Ingall‘s riposte, “Ethical Parenting is More Than Possible: It’s Essential for Parents and Children Alike.” Marjorie is an urban parent, one whose children go to local public schools. (She has worked liked crazy to keep a library in one of them in this era where too many public school leaders see them as a frill). She is also a terrific writer — this article is smart, funny, and furious. Read it and then joint the rest of us who are waiting with bated breath for her forthcoming book.


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National Book Award Young People’s Literature Short List

It is great that the National Book Foundation has broaden aspects of their National Book Award. They are now including other knowledgeable book people besides writers on the juries and introduced a 10 book long list this year.  Yesterday the short lists were announced — five books from those original long lists. (Reminder: this is a very different award from the Newbery as only books submitted for a significant fee by the publishers are considered. There were under 300 of these submitted for the Young People’s award. More on the process here.)

I have to say I’m delighted with the Young People’s Literature shortlist, having read and enjoyed very much four of the five. Congratulations to all!


Kathi AppeltThe True Blue Scouts of Sugar Man Swamp
(Atheneum Books for Young Readers/Simon & Schuster)

I’ve been reading this one aloud to my 4th graders and we are having an absolutely grand time with it. Appelt is a storyteller for sure — her books just demand that you read them aloud. This one is especially fun and funny.  Just one thing— I want a sugar cane pie!

Cynthia KadohataThe Thing About Luck (Atheneum Books for Young Readers/Simon & Schuster)

This  feels like a slice of life story, a point in time, vividly evoked. Wonderful characters, setting, and set pieces. The last part was especially beautifully done.

Tom McNealFar Far Away (Alfred A. Knopf/Random House)

I found this a unique read, sort of spooky, definitely creepy as it goes on. McNeal really knows how to make food sound really scrumptious and also various characters twinkly and fun until…they are not. It probably would have given me nightmares as a kid!

Meg RosoffPicture Me Gone (G.P. Putnam’s Sons, a division of Penguin Group USA)

Need to read this one!

Gene Luen YangBoxers & Saints (First Second/Macmillan)

Liked both of these tremendously. Really vivid portrayal of a difficult historical period, one that makes you think and feel.


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Reading and Signing Africa is My Home at Bank Street Book Store

I will be doing my first event for Africa is My Home this coming Sunday, October 20th, at 2:30,  at the Bank Street Book Store.  I’ve been to so many of these over the year, but never as the featured author! Maybe I’ll see some of you there?

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Help Jonathan Stroud Write a Halloween Story

This looks great fun:

Jonathan Stroud, author of the Bartimaeus trilogy, will be writing an exclusive interactive story for Halloween based on the intrepid ghost hunters from his latest book, Lockwood & Co – but he needs your help!

Go here to help out and see his progress.

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