Monthly Archives: March 2018

The American author Jacqueline Woodson is the laureate of Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award 2018

Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award

The American author Jacqueline Woodson is the laureate of Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award 2018

Jacqueline Woodson is an American author, born in 1963 and residing in Brooklyn, New York. She is the author of more than thirty books, including novels, poetry and picture books. She writes primarily for young teens, but also for children and adults. One of her most lauded books is the award winning autobiographical Brown Girl Dreaming (2014).

The Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award (ALMA) is the world’s largest award for children’s and young adult literature. The award amounts to 5 million Swedish krona (approx. $613,000 or EUR 500 000) and is given annually to a single laureate or to several.

The citation of the jury reads:
“Jacqueline Woodson introduces us to resilient young people fighting to find a place where their lives can take root. In language as light as air, she tells stories of resounding richness and depth. Jacqueline Woodson captures a unique poetic note in a daily reality divided…

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Christopher Paul Curtis’s The Journey of Little Charlie

I am on the record as being a huge fan of Curtis’s Buxton books –from Elijah of Buxton (was on the Newbery Committee that gave it an honor) to Madman of Piney Woods (my starred Horn Book review). This one is as terrific as the others.

While the other two books featured black male protagonists in this one Curtis is featuring a young white male, the child of poor white pre-Civil War sharecroppers. After horrific events that leave him without family, Little Charlie Bobo (actually a twelve-year-old the size of an adult man) is forced to go with the local plantation’s overseer to capture some runaway enslaved people. Little Charlie’s voice and dialect is spot-on for a person of his class and situation; he has never been to school and can’t read. That is, spot-on, as much as I can tell — I’m certainly no expert on what it would sound like. Some have referenced Twain which makes sense as he certainly did use such dialog himself in his writing. Some have complained that it was challenging to read — I found it quite easy. Curtis is able to give you such a great sense of his boy protagonists — they are always a tad “fragile”, pensive, and so so good at heart.

From the start Little Charlie is good, everything that happens early on makes that very clear. What he is also is racist, prejudiced, and extremely ignorant. His journey with the evil slave catcher is one of learning, growing, and changing — what we would wish for all who are as limited in early experience as Charlie is.

There are some very dark moments in this book, extraordinary cruelty and brutality, yet all presented in a way that older children can definitely manage — this is very much a middle grade book. I noticed someone writing that she planned to read it aloud to her 5th graders. I would be cautious with this, be mindful of the listeners — who they are, their own lives, and how this could make them feel. I see it as for those ready for this harsh history lesson, say 6th, 7th, and 8th graders.

There are also some warm moments, Curtis’s trademark humor, and description. I feel that I can recognize his style when he describes the slave catcher’s rankness, a train ride for a boy who has never been on one, and the pain of enslaved people being retaken and separated. Most of all, there is the strength and power of the Canadians — whites and blacks together.

This feels like a book of the moment, a #blacklivesmatter for the 19th century and today. Outstanding.


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My Jaunt to Vienna: Sensitive Sisi, Comfy Cafes, and Over-the-Top-Opulence of the Hofburgs.

I am just back from a quick visit to Vienna. It was just the right amount of time for me — three days. I decided to go as I’ve long been curious, I’m fluent in German so it is easy, I wanted to get far away for a few days, and I’m not a beach and sun sort of person. Some highlights:

I arrived from my flight late morning so had plenty of time to wander about the center. I toured the Opera, looked about St. Stephen’s Cathedral, stopped by the  legendary confectionary Demel’s (where I picked up some contraband Kindereier), enjoyed some open-faced sandwiches at  Trzesniewski, spent the first of my daily visits to the Cafe Schwartzenberg, a classic Viennese cafe, and enjoyed a glass of wine at my luxurious hotel (a worthwhile splurge), the Grand Ferdinand.

I arose on the second day to snow and cold. Bundled up I headed out to the summer residence of the Habsburgs, Schönbrunn Palace. I always seem to visit these places in cold months when the gardens are all pretty bare, but I like that sort of bleakness so it was fine for me. I’ve been to Versailles and Sans Souci more than once under similar conditions. It was as opulent and over-the-top as I expected. I am not a fan of zoos, but went to this one as I was curious about it when it started, but it was as depressing as I find most zoos, up-to-date as it surely is. I did enjoy (and get briefly lost in) the maze, the walk up and view from the Gloria, the palm house, the carriages, and the insanely opulent royal rooms (no photos of allowed for most of these).  There was even a little holiday market!
I started my final day exploring the charming Naschmarkt, picked up some fancy chocolates at a tiny shop, and then headed to the Hofburg Palace. More mind-blowingly opulent royal apartments. The Sisi Museum where you learn of the life and times of the eccentric and fascinating Empress Elizabeth. The treasury with extraordinary ancient stuff — crowns, orbs, jewels, and regalia galore. My favorite exhibit, surprisingly, was the Silver Collection as the audio guide and wall cards gave a remarkable social history — describing meals and fascinating details such as a foot washing ceremony, meal behaviors, and even washing (say collections of objects for this, among them women’s chamber pots, aka bides). I then spent significant time in the Welt Museum, intrigued by the way the curators grappled with their ethnographic collections and its position in the world today. No photos allowed for the palace exhibits, but some of it can be seen here.
Headed home just ahead of today’s storm. A very very worthwhile few days.

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She’s heading our way, umbrella and all: Mary Poppins Returns

This trailer has me excited. Picking up nicely at the end of the last movie, Lin Manuel Miranda, cute kids, Emily Blount are all looking spit spot for the story.



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NYU to Host “Telling Lives,” a Symposium Exploring Picture Book Biography

New York, NY – On Friday, April 13th from 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., NYU’s Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development, and its Constantine Georgiou Library and Resource Center for Children and Literature will host “Telling Lives,” a half-day symposium and exploration of picture book biography. The event is free and open to the public.

The program will consist of three parts:

  • An illustrated overview of picture book biography by one of the world’s preeminent scholars and authorities on children’s literature, Leonard S. Marcus.
  • A deep-dive panel discussion about the making of landmark picture book biography, Action Jackson, which tells the story of abstract expressionist painter Jackson Pollock. The panel will include the book’s co-author’s Sandra Jordan andJan GreenbergRobert Andrew Parker (illustrator), Neal Porter (editor), and Jennifer Browne (designer).
  • A panel discussion around the current popularity of picture book biographies, the value of picture book biographies for school curriculum and home reading, and the creative challenges of tailoring complex subject matter to younger audiences in children’s books. Panelists will include: Selina Alko (author/illustrator), Sean Qualls (illustrator), Christy Ottaviano (publisher, Henry Holt & Company, an imprint of Macmillan Children’s Group), Luann Toth (managing editor, School Library Journal Reviews), and John Parra (illustrator). Audience members are encouraged to bring questions of their own for this panel.

“Telling Lives” celebrates the arrival of a collection of picture book biographies donated to the Georgiou Library by Leonard S. Marcus. This growing collection currently contains 250 volumes. Read more about the initial gift here.

Along with housing this new collection of picture book biographies, the Georgiou Library contains several other categories of children’s literature, including early concept books, fairy tales, poetry, and Caldecott Medal winners and honor books. The library and all books are available as a reference resource to the NYU community, researchers from around the globe and the public by appointment.


The Iris & B. Gerald Cantor Film Center

36 East 8th Street

New York, NY 10003

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My Thoughts on The Wrinkle in Time Movie

I’m one who adored the book as a young reader (you can see a sample of my fan art here) and so I did my best to go into the movie with a recognition that it was an adaptation, film, and made decades after the book was written. Here are some thoughts after seeing it.

  • Thought the back story of the father was beautifully done. Loved the opening scenes of him with Meg, with her mother, as a loving couple, family, and as brilliant scholars. Outstanding!
  • Storm Reid is wonderful. She is able to communicate so much, so subtly, in her face. Stillness, anger, fear, love, terror, determination….a Meg for the ages.
  • The trailers had me a bit apprehensive about the Mrs Whatsit, Who, and and Which as they came across as a bit plastic, but that was not the movie. Each is fully realized, not perhaps exactly as they are represented in the book, but in ways that worked beautifully for the movie. In particular, I liked that they were for the audience — children today, not children in 1962. Liked Mrs Who looming instead of her mostly being a shimmer and then a horse-sort-of-thing — that would have not worked visually today, I don’t think.
  • Uriel — loved loved this first world they visit. The flowers, the colors. (Less so, Mrs Whatsit’s transformation, but you can’t have everything:)
  • I can’t say I remember well the original Happy Medium, but the scene in the movie worked well for me. The balancing, the seriousness leavened with some humor.
  • The movie Charles Wallace, while bright and unusual, didn’t seem as far on the spectrum as the book one. That said, Deric McCabe is captivating in the role.
  • Good tessering, all!
  • I suppose it would have been impossible to successfully represent a two dimensional world cinematically, but I have to admit I’d been looking forward to seeing it. Ah well — that is me ancient-lover-of-the-original-book. Won’t matter a wit to those just enjoying the movie. Doesn’t really advance the plot, after all. Just a cool literary thing.
  • Great job with the robot children and mothers in Camazotz.
  • Did I miss something, or did only Meg get gifts? What about the others? Guess it is Meg’s story, but it made the other two seem a little fuzzy to me in terms of intention and importance.
  • Interesting that The Man with the Red Eyes stuff is set on a beach full of regular-looking people instead of a scary office of regular-looking people. Certainly, good to update from L’Engle’s comment on the bland office worker, but the beach-goers puzzled me, I must admit.
  • Calvin is a delight — wasn’t he an athlete in the book? Feels more rounded in the movie. So I liked him better than the book character! Levi Miller does a great job.
  • I completely understand the reasoning  behind eliminating Aunt Beast, but I did yearn for her. Not rational, but my ten-year-old self from across the decades can’t help it.
  • It is definitely a smart movie for kids and that is fabulous. Can’t wait to find out what my 4th grade students think. Hoping they are all going to clamor for the book now — one kid is already reading our class copy.

The more I think about it the more I like it for what it is — a smart, smart, original, different movie for kids today. At first wasn’t sure I wanted to see it again, but the more I think about it the more I do.


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Tickets available for 2018 Arbuthnot Lecture featuring Naomi Shihab Nye

CHICAGO — The Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC), Western Washington University, and the Whatcom County Library System announced that tickets for the 2018 May Hill Arbuthnot Honor Lecture featuring Naomi Shihab Nye are now available.

The lecture, titled “REFRESHMENTS WILL BE SERVED – Our Lives of Reading & Writing” will be held at 7:00 p.m. on Saturday, April 28, 2018 at the Western Washington University Performing Arts Center. Required tickets are free for the lecture and must be obtained through the Whatcom County Library System website. To learn more about acquiring tickets and event details, please visit the 2018 May Hill Arbuthnot Honor Lecture website.

The daughter of a Palestinian father and an American mother, Naomi Shihab Nye grew up in St. Louis, Jerusalem, and San Antonio, Texas. The author and/or editor of more than 30 books for adults and children, her latest for young people, “The Turtle of Oman,” was chosen as a 2015 Notable Children’s Book by the ALA. She has received four Pushcart Prizes, was a National Book Award finalist, and has been named a Guggenheim Fellow, amongst her many honors.

The May Hill Arbuthnot Lecture is sponsored by ALSC. The lecture title honors May Hill Arbuthnot, distinguished writer, editor and children’s literature scholar. Each year, an author, artist, critic, librarian, historian or teacher of children’s literature is selected to prepare a paper considered to be a significant contribution to the field of children’s literature.

The Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC) is driven by more than 4,000 members dedicated to the support and enrichment of library service to children. Our members include youth librarians, literature experts, publishers and educational faculty. ALSC supports its members in engaging communities to build healthy, successful, futures for all children. To learn more about ALSC and how to join, please visit our website at

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