Category Archives: Other

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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Ten Recent and Forthcoming Books I Liked

Here are ten to put on your radar. (There are some others coming that are going to get solo posts, but I wanted to give these their due too.)

  • Wed Wabbit by Lissa Evans. I adore this one and wrote at goodreads, “This is MY kind of whimsy. That is, this is a story pushing back on traditional whimsy in a witty and wry way that is still ultimately a journey story for a couple of kids.” Currently having so much fun reading it aloud.
  • You Go First by Erin Entrada Kelly. This is a gentle and moving middle grade novel featuring two outlier kids from different parts of the country who connect over online Scrabble — by…. this year’s NEWBERY WINNER!  (As regular readers of this blog will know — and those who follow Heavy Medal — I adore, adore, adore Hello, Universe and was so happy it got the gold!)
  • The Ambrose Deception by Emily Ecton is an entertaining puzzle mystery along the lines of The Book Scavenger and Mr. Lemoncello’s Library. Three distinctive and bright kids make their way around Chicago to find answers to clues and, hopefully, win a scholarship. There is a brisk, lively style to the book that makes it go down easily — might even do as a read-aloud.
  • Aru Shah and the End of Time by Roshani Chokshi is the first in the Rick Riordan Presents imprint and does not disappoint. I mean you’ve got the Mahabharata, three brave and awesome kids, fighting, weapons, bravery, humor, and a fast paced adventure. What’s not to like?
  • A Problematic Paradox by Eliot Sappingfield. The publishers had me at “Guardians of the Galaxy meets The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” and I am happy to say I was not disappointed. This is a quirky debut featuring the brilliant outsider Nikoka, aliens, and a unique school for geniuses. There are quite a few books featuring the latter, some better than others. This is definitely in the better camp.
  • The Serpent’s Secret by Syantani DasGupta. The first in a series, this is a lively fantasy featuring Indian mythology, a strong and snarky-voiced girl protagonist, and a plot that goes down fast and furious — definitely one that kids will eat up.
  • The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton. I had thought this was the sort of YA fantasy that would not be for me (the …er …overly…swoony sort:), but I was wrong. Clayton’s world building is excellent and highly inventive — a place where those who have the magical power to alter people’s looks are celebrities, but also used in a very original way. I was swept into the book immediately and look forward to the next in the series.
  • The Last Gargoyle by Paul Durham. Another series beginning, solidly middle grade this time, Durham (who did another series, The Luck Uglies, that I liked very much) has crafted a moving story about, indeed, a lonely gargoyle (though he dislikes that word) who has been stoically doing his job (protecting) in Boston when the other remaining two of his kind are finished off, a mysterious girl name Viola shows up, and stuff happens. Gothic and dark (though still solidly middle grade), this made me eager for the next.
  • Blue Window by Adina Gerwitz. A group of siblings fall, more or less, through a window into another world a la Narnia, but with a more sci-fi vibe. Kids who enjoy portal fantasies that are long and somewhat melancholy will most likely take to this one. Curious if it is a stand-alone or part of a series.
  • The Extremely Inconvenient Adventures of Bronte Mettleson by Jaclyn Moriarty.  This isn’t out till the fall, but when I saw the egalley on edelweiss I snapped it up being a huge fan of this Australian writer. She is sorely not sufficiently appreciated here in the States, but should be. This is, I believe, her first middle grade work, and it is a complete delight.




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Thoughts on Newbery: Today’s Announcements

This was only the second time I wasn’t at Midwinter for the announcements. I went to school figured I’d see if I could watch the live stream or perhaps peek at my phone. Happily, someone was doing something with my class and I was able to watch all of it. And, boy, did I end up happy and pleased. Congratulations to all the honorees and committee members!

Here are some quick responses (while my class is out for a few minutes):

First and foremost — I’m over-the-top pleased with Erin Entrada Kelly  receiving the Newbery medal for Hello, Universe . I fell in love with this book last March and have been advocating for it ever since.

And then there are the Newbery honors, all beloved by me:

  • Jason Reynold’s Long Way Down. Another I fell madly in love with, but since I didn’t read it until late December I wasn’t able to advocate for it on Heavy Medal until after they made up their list.
  • Renee Watson’s Piecing Me Together. I read and liked this, but it took participating in my school’s first ever Faculty Mock Newbery this past Saturday to really appreciate it. So much as we selected it as our winner.
  •  Derrick Barnes’s Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut. So so happy about this as I’d been arguing that it should be considered as much for Newbery as for Caldecott.

I haven’t read the Printz winner, so can’t comment, but I adore all the honors:

  • Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds
  • Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor
  •  The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
  • Vincent and Theo: The Van Gogh Brothers by Deborah Heiligman

Among the CSK honorees, all fabulous, I was especially pleased to see Charly Palmer honored for  Mama Africa! How Miriam Makeba Spread Hope with Her Song, a book I reviewed with great enthusiasm.

Jackie Woodson for the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award.  Absolutely!

Angela Johnson getting the Edwards — hurrah!

Debbie Reese for the Arbuthnot. Yes, yes, yes!!!


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Gentleman Bill Teale

I am remembering the intelligent, kind, pensive, thoughtful, quiet actor, beautiful, wonderful Bill Teale. I knew him first as a smart leader in the field of literacy education, later as a fellow mascot to the 2002 Newbery Committee (we both were connected to members of that legendary group and so allowed to hang around:), then as a trailblazer in educational technology who invited me to present with him, as one who so loved his wife Junko, and of his sense of fun. My sympathies to his family, friends, colleagues, and all who knew this very special man.

I spent many delightful times with Bill over the years. The photos below are of a favorite memory. During the 2012 IBBY Congress in London, Junko, Bill, Claudia Söffner, and I entered the Victoria and Albert via a back entrance and came across these spinning chairs. May you spin in joy, Bill.


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