Category Archives: Other

Rick Riordan Presents: An Appreciation

I have long been an admirer of Rick Riordan.  After reading an ARC of The Lightning Thief and learning that the author was a middle school teacher, I checked him out and came across his comprehensive teacher’s guide for the book. (You can find it on this page.) Having also taught this content I was so impressed with his material — the lessons and more showed a sure understanding of the students he taught. And so I wrote him a letter expressing my admiration and appreciation and he wrote back. Sadly I have no idea what happened to that hand-written letter and the accompanying over-sized orange Camp Half-Blood t-shirt. I went on to read the following books, enjoying some more than others, but continuing to admire his ethos, the way his goodness came through in his writing. I was so glad when the 2017 Stonewall Committee gave Magnus Chase 2: The Hammer of Thor an award for Alex Fierro, a beautifully rendered genderfluid character. You can read Rick’s acceptance speech here.  Another celebratory post of mine on the man is here.

I’m here today to comment on the new Rick Riordan Presents. It is described thus:

Rick Riordan Presents is one small branch of the Disney-Hyperion Publishing family. We aim to publish about four books a year. All these will be books that my editor Stephanie Lurie and I feel will appeal to kids who like my books. In other words, they will probably be some type of middle grade fantasy, with lots of humor and action, and probably draw on myth or folklore in some way.

I’ve read the first few books, some of which are out and some almost out, and can say that they will be enjoyed by fans of Rick’s books. Each is very much its own, but still offers the great adventure, teen characters, snark, and more that make his books so popular.

The first I read was Roshani Chokshi’s Aru Shah and the End of Time, an enjoyable romp featuring a museum, artifacts, and the Hindu Mahabharata. The second in the series is soon to be out too.

The Storm Runner by J. C. Cervantes features Mayan mythology, complicated and scary, and including a road trip.

Then there is Yoon Ha Lee’s forthcoming Dragon Pearl. I loved it!  Probably my favorite thus far of the books in this imprint. A fast, funny, and furious space opera that involves terraforming, transforming foxes, and a smart and snarky main character — Min — it was a terrific read. At times made me think of Star Trek in the best way. Highly recommend this one!

Finally, I just finished the ARC for Sal and Gabi Break the Universe by Carlos Hernandez also sci-fi, this time playing with time, space, physics and more. Sal’s another snarky narrator, but such a good guy. Gabi is a delight in her own way. In this one, I especially enjoyed the cultural bits — lots of Cuban food, love, music, and laughter from some very blended and unconventional families.

Bravo Rick and company — can’t wait to see what else you bring to us in this worthy imprint.


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Thinking About Rethinking Language

I found Jamie Naidoo‘s post on the ALSC blog, Words Matter: Owning and Learning from Our Mistakes, very thought-provoking. It is a model for apologizing, for reflecting, and more. I recommend reading the post, the comments, and adding in your own thoughts. Here are mine:

I was glad you called out the problem with the word “tolerance” as it has always bothered me. I’m a longtime subscriber to the excellent publication Teaching Tolerance, but the word has always rankled for the reasons you point out.

I was curious about the recommendation of using caregiver instead of parent. As a classroom teacher I work with all sorts of families and had thought it was okay to call those who identified as the parents of the children to just that whatever and however they gained that role. (I do address them collectively as “families” in my communications so as to include grandparents and others.) I’ve used caregiver for those paid to care — for children (here the terms used are nannies and babysitters) or elders (my parents both had caregivers including me). For instance, we are starting an oral history project and children often want to interview these individuals. Is there a different term we should be using? (As to the issue around doing so — that is different and we definitely discuss that. That these paid employees are placed in a difficult position by agreeing to do this. Some love it and some don’t. We definitely discuss this and try to help families consider this too. But that is a whole ‘nother issue.)

Anyway, much to think about. Thanks again.


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Mary Poppins Returns Official Trailer

Curious touches referencing the first movie given the improved CGI technologies of today. Only see bits here so looking forward to the full movie for that and much more, of course. I mean: Dick Van Dyke! Meryl Streep! Angela Lansbury! Lin Manuel Miranda! Colin Firth! I could go on and on.

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Quentin Blake on Roald Dahl’s Matilda as a Grown-Up — Genius!

Now, Roald Dahl’s Matilda – the most powerful female genius ever to be underestimated by a hammer-throwing headmistress – has been portrayed for the first time as a 30-year-old woman in a series of eight sketches by Dahl’s long-time illustrator and friend Quentin Blake.

Go take a look here!

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Bookfest at Bank Street this October

There is no better way to get some autumn inspiration than attending Bank Street College’s annual Bookfest. On Saturday, October 20th, it is full of wonderful speakers, panels, and discussions.

The Center for Children’s Literature at Bank Street College is thrilled to announce the program for the 47th annual BookFest!  This will be BookFest’s 9th year at Bank Street.  Our keynote speaker will be the delightful and humorous Newbery Honor winner, Adam Gidwitz, author of The Inquisitor’s Tale: Or the Three Magical Children and Their Holy Dog. 

I’m excited to be back leading a book discussion, this time on Heroic Activists. You can see the full program and register here.

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Jack Gantos’s The Dented Head of Joey Pigza


Just discovered this among Audibles’ new releases and will be listening to it on my way to work today. Can’t wait!

Here’s the description:

Joey Pigza wants to win! In this audio-only adventure, Jack Gantos’s beloved hero races back into kids’ hearts with a tale about running, perseverance, and life’s inevitable crashes.

Despite his beat-up old shoes and struggles with ADHD, Joey won’t let anything hold him back – after all, he’s the lightning-fast champion of schoolyard races. But when a high-speed collision leaves him with a dented head and more problems than ever, can our infectiously impulsive hero overcome his hurdles and race to the top?

In this zany and surprisingly inspiring listen, perfect for kids ages 8 and up, our chaotic hero realizes he can’t outrun his troubles. Joining him this time around in a series of hyperactive hijinks are his eccentric Granny and his ever-faithful Chihuahua, Pablo. Written and performed by the multi-talented Jack Gantos, and delivered in a wildly energetic voice, this gem is full of the hilarity and heart that made the Joey Pigza creator a Newbery Award-winning children’s book icon.

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My Latest New York Times Reviews — Picture Books on Refugees and Migrants

Whether they are nostalgic reveries of those who came long ago to this nation of immigrants, or the brutal nightmares of worldwide millions fleeing war, violence and persecution today, memories of migration matter. Telling these stories seems more important than ever — even, and some might say especially, to children. A wave of picture books has arrived to help with this difficult task.

I had the great privilege to review six timely migration-centered picture books for the New York Times, Please check them out here.







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