Category Archives: Other

SLJ’s Battle of the Kids’ Books 2015

And we are off! Today is the first match of the 2015  SLJ’s Battle of the Kids’ Books. And it is a doozy — Brown Girl Dreaming versus Children of the King judged beautifully by Holly Black. We’ve also got our kid commentators — including one new 7th grader who is doing a fabulous job right out of the gate. You can see all the judges here and the contenders and the brackets here. It is a lot of fun, I promise you!

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Lena, Hilary, and Eloise

Lena Dunham’s Girls isn’t my thing, but I’m very interested in her forthcoming documentary, It’s Me, Hilary: The Man Who Drew Eloise.

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In the Classroom: the Irma Black Award


The Irma Simonton Black and James H. Black Award for Excellence in Children’s Literature (Irma Black Award) goes to an outstanding book for young children – a book in which text and illustrations are inseparable, each enhancing and enlarging on the other to produce a singular whole. The Irma Black Award is unusual in that children are the final judges of the winning book.

The finalists have been announced. They are:

  • Blizzard by John Rocco (Hyperion)
  • Elizabeth, Queen of the Sea by Lynne Cox, illus. by Brian Floca (Schwartz & Wade)
  • Sam & Dave Dig a Hole by Mac Barnett, illus. by Jon Klassen (Candlewick)
  • Shh! We Have a Plan by Chris Haughton (Candlewick)

And now classrooms and libraries throughout the country can participate in the voting process. More about how to do so here.

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Diverse Thinking from Diverse Folks About Diverse Books

Roxanne Feldman (AKA fairrosa), who is originally from Taiwan, and I are longtime close friends; she was an early and very important sounding board for me as I worked through how to tell the story that became Africa is My Home. For both of us the topics of diversity and identity have long been important, ones we constantly discuss and reflect upon in terms of our practice at school and outside in the children’s book world. Roxanne has now started a blog series in which she thoughtfully and carefully considers these topics. Anyone who knows Roxanne is aware of how thoughtful and passionate she is on these issues and how much we always learn from her. I highly recommend reading the following first three in the series and following her blog so as to read the rest.

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Celebrating The Bank Street Book Store

There are two major independent children’s bookstores in New York City’s borough of Manhattan, the downtown Books of Wonder and the uptown Bank Street Book Store. Both are important and wonderful to visit, each offering distinctive sensibilities. Today I want to celebrate The Bank Street Book Store, an important part of the venerable Bank Street College of Education, an institution that started  downtown on Bank Street (thus the name), but long ago moved uptown to 112th Street where it still is. As for the bookstore, it began in a tiny lobby space in the college building, then spent many years on the corner of of 112th and Broadway, and has now moved a few blocks south to 107th and Broadway.

Living nearby, for years I’ve walked by the bookstore daily with my dog, sometimes dropping in to see what was new, to chat with the managers (firstly the great Beth Puffer and now the passionate Andy Laties) and employees, to buy something as a gift for a friend or for my class, to attend an author reading, or just to browse. The bookstore kindly invited me to celebrate the release of my book last year and I go often to their events — these feature all sorts of authors — everyone from the parodic Stephen Colbert to book experts like Betsy Bird.  There are also free puppet shows, story times, literature discussions, and more. And this coming Saturday they’ve got a grand opening festival going on all day with an exciting array of authors.

On Friday they had a party introducing their gorgeous and warm new space and it was a lovely event with many recognizing the important history of the college and the bookstore in terms of children and their books. Below is the bookstore’s tweeted photo of many of the authors who came to the party including Fran Manushkin, Robie Harris, Peter Lerangis, Chris Grabenstein, Carol Weston, Yvonne Wakim Dennis, Arlene Hirschfelder, Susan Milligan, Selene Castrovilla, and me with my dog Lucy*.


And so if you are in New York City and are checking out all our wonderful bookish places, be sure not to miss this excellent bookstore.

* I told the young bookstore employee tweeting the event that Lucy was a “retro dog” being a traditional miniature poodle. I’ve now learned from her subsequent tweet that retro=disco these days.

Author of AFRICA IS MY HOME shows off her disco poodle Lucy!

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Heroes Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow

Rachel Kadish has some interesting observations on the nature of heroes in children’s books of the past versus today in “Childhood Heroes: Once Self-Made, Now to the Manner Born.”  She feels that heroes of the past were often suffering from PTSD (really!)

With a few notable exceptions, the formula is identical: Trauma is the mechanism through which superpower is acquired. It’s the very act of surviving hardship (often cataclysmic in scale) that shapes those gloriously intimidating figures into something they never were before.

Whereas she posits,

Today’s new heroes are to the manner born, and while they may spend a few scenes living in obscurity, they’re soon unveiled as members of the elect.

I think it is an interesting observation. What do you all think?  (BTW, there are some good points made in the comments, e.g. Katniss being self-made.)


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Take a Class in Fiction Writing with Rebecca Stead

Advanced Fiction with Rebecca Stead at the 92nd Street Y begins February 17th.

A workshop for writers of fiction for children and young adults.

The writing process is not just putting down one page after another—it’s a lot of writing and then rewriting, restructuring the story, changing the way things come together.

In this class, we discuss published work and student writing, giving particular attention to voice, character, dialogue, interior monologue and world-building.

Manuscript Submission Required


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