Tag Archives: Children’s Literature

The Bronx is Up and the Central Children’s Room Seems to Be Falling Down

Last fall I read in my paper of record that the New York Public Library had sold the building housing the Central Children’s Room (the Donnell Library Center), that it would be razed, and that the new hotel would have a smaller branch. Ever since then many, many, many of us have wondered and worried about the fate of the glorious Central Children’s Room. Sadly, we are still in the dark, but increasingly anxious about what is planned.

I visited the original Central Children’s Room at the 42nd Street Library on a visit to New York as a child and remember the incredibly special and exciting atmosphere. That is still the case; it is a library serving child readers, adult readers, and scholars alike. Many a writer or illustrator has gone there to do research. I took a class of graduate students a few years ago and was beside myself as the highly informed staff pulled out treasure after treasure for us to study. I can only hope that this wonderful and special New York City library will be given a third home, one even better than its current one.

Any one with memories or more to share about this special place please go to this post of Fuse#8, a Central Children’s Room librarian by day, a blogger by night.


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Scholastic Audiobook/NCBLA Book Basket Auction

Scholastic Audiobooks has donated 10 new audiobooks, including Gregory Maguire’s New York Times Best Seller What-the-Dickens! for an online auction to benefit The National Children’s Book and Literacy Alliance (www.thencbla.org), a 501C3 not-for-profit that advocates and educates on behalf of literacy, literature, libraries and the arts. This audiobook collection includes The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick; Main Street #1 by Ann Martin; Stoneheart by Charlie Fletcher; and Looking Glass Wars by Frank Beddor

In addition, the NCBLA Board has donated many personally autographed audiobooks and books to this collection including works by M.T. Anderson, Natalie Babbitt, Susan Cooper, Nikki Grimes, Patricia MacLachlan, Gregory Maguire, and Katherine Paterson. The retail value of this book basket exceeds $1,000. For a detailed list of books and audiobooks, go to: http://www.thencbla.org/ncblanews.html

The auction will begin on January 31, 2008 and run until February 9. 2008. To find the online auction, on or after January 31 go to: www.ebay.com.
In the search window, top left, paste in the title of the auction: Signed Wicked! +Unique Collection Autographed New Books and click, Search.
If you like you can also select the category: Books.

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Advance Reader Copies

I came back from my Newbery experiences to find an email from one of my former students asking me if I’d gotten an ARC for the forthcoming Percy Jackson book and if not could I please, please, please get one. Wanting to be sure of the title before making my request, yesterday I went to Rick Riordan’s blog where I discovered that there are no ARCS for The Battle of the Labyrinth. In “Raiders of the Lost ARCs” Rick gives some very good reasons why he doesn’t like them. He writes, “What bothers me is giving away the story before it is time.” Do read his post as he has some very solid reasons to be bothered by the ARC business (although I do hope he won’t go all legal if word gets out before May 6th about The Battle of the Labyrinth as happened this past July with …um…another…book).

But it isn’t just authors who are ambivalent about ARCs. I have an editor friend who detests them. She will send me one and then warn me repeatedly that it isn’t the final book. She worries that committees and reviewers will base their opinions on the ARC, still very much a work-in-progress, rather than the finished book. I understand completely because these are indeed often quite different and it often does seem unfair to overly pass judgement on the former. On the other hand, I have other editor and marketing friends who happily give them to me, eager to see what I think.

This post was prompted by Bookwitch on Proofs. She writes of the excitement of getting those advanced copies and I totally agree with her. While most of my fellow Newberys (they called us that at the photo-op Monday AM and I loved it!) used our few hours off Saturday afternoon to rest or reread I charged over to the exhibits to snap up a few. And with the buzz building before the official pub date it is hard not to want to get your hands on a hot item.

While I didn’t start this blog to review books, I do enjoy mentioning books I like, especially those that might otherwise get overlooked. So far I’ve commented about one book that I received and read as an ARC and will, no doubt, reference others now that I’m again free to do so. But there is another reason I debate doing so; I hate to frustrate people. There have been occasions when I read a rave review of a book not out for months and I did feel very frustrated having to wait. So I do my best to excite and not frustrate when mentioning forthcoming books.

But some ARCs are truly special. Last June I was first in line at BEA to get a signed ARC of Elijah of Buxton. The inscription? “To Monica, This is the 1st one I’ve signed! Christopher Paul Curtis.” Serendipity? Fate? Kismet? Whatever, I think I will bring it along to ALA in June where I suspect I may meet up with Mr. Curtis again.


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The 2007 Cuffies

Every year Publishers Weekly asks booksellers around the country for their favorites of the year resulting in their “Off the Cuff” or “Cuffies” awards. This year’s are here: The 2007 Cuffies.

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CLNE: The Opening Page

Children’s Literature New England is a unique and wonderful organization that held the most wonderful summer institutes for twenty years. I started attending in 1999, was a speaker in 2005, and a book discussion leader for the final institute in 2006. Now, for anyone who wants a taste of CLNE, I highly recommend their new venture as described in the following email sent out to previous attendees a few days ago.

Dear friends,

We are delighted to announce CLNE’s exciting new venture, a colloquy titled THE OPENING PAGE to be held May 8-11, 2008 at the Inn at Essex in spectacular Vermont. The colloquy will feature superb speakers, including M.T. Anderson, Susan Cooper, Sarah Ellis, Janice Harrington, Arthur A. Levine, Katherine Paterson, Pam Muñoz Ryan, and Brian Selznick. The program builds on the solid work of two decades of CLNE summer institutes.

Visit our website http://www.clne.org for details and an online registration form. If you can attend, we recommend that you enroll quickly. Space is limited. We hope you can join us! We would appreciate it if you would forward news about the program to others who might be interested.

As we begin the new year, we remain grateful for the CLNE community. In that context we note the recent death of upstate New York school librarian and powerhouse enthusiast for books for the young, CLNE stalwart Micki Nevett. We also thank CLNE speaker and participant Monica Edinger for posting the eulogy for Micki on her blog, Educating Alice https://medinger.wordpress.com (see 12/20/08 posting for the eulogy). If you go to the 12/18/08 posting you can read or add to the many comments written in memory of Micki.

May we stay strong, stay brave, and may we see one another soon!

Cheers from the CLNE Board.



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Death, Taxes, and Children’s Books

Should children’s authors explore child death?” wonders Julia Eccleshare.

Just a few short years ago, while teen sex had long been OK-ed and drug use was creeping in “for authenticity”, death was cited as the last taboo. Now, death seems to positively stalk children’s books, with characters confronting the grave with sometimes alarming abandon.

You mean, sort of the way Katherine Patterson did quite a while ago in Bridge To Terabithia?


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Jon Scieszka: Stinkycheese Man, Trucktown Man, and now… NationalAmbassadorforKidsLit Man

Whoopie! This came in the ye olde email mailbox yesterday:

The Children’s Book Council (CBC) in association with the CBC Foundation, and the Library of Congress’ Center for the Book will announce the inaugural National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, a children’s laureate for the United States, at a celebratory event hosted by the New York Public Library. Upon the announcement, the National Ambassador will reveal his/her platform to an audience that will include school children, who will have the opportunity to interview their new Ambassador.

Appointed for a two-year term, the National Ambassador post was created to raise national awareness of the importance of young people’s literature as it relates to literacy, education, and the development and betterment of children’s lives.

I’m not going ( as I need to stay home and continue my frantic Newbery rereading), but now I see (thanks to Susan Thomsen) that the beans have already been spilled at the New York Times and PW. And it is none other than that incredibly cool guy, Jon Scieszka. Great, great, great news! Congratulations, Jon!


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Noel Streatfeild

I was a huge Noel Streatfeild fan in my youth. I’ve still got my favorites, 3/6 Puffins picked up at Foyles (during my years living abroad as a kid). My favorite was White Boots, but I did love the Fossils’ stories as well and reread those books multiple times. And so, like many, I was curious what the BBC would do with it.

“Drama school brats,” is what you’d be forgiven for thinking, had you tuned into BBC1’s Boxing Day adaptation of Noel Streatfeild‘s Ballet Shoes. And that’s a great shame because Streatfeild’s depression era tale of treading the boards at a tender age is a perceptive and determined work.

I have several gripes: Winifred came across as a horrid backstabber, not the talented, earnest but dowdy kid of the book. I loathed Posy-the-Precocious, a bitching Bonnie Langford, who hardly dances at all – she dances all the time in the book and it’s her obsession with dance that makes her so interesting. But my real beef is that Heidi Thomas’ adaptation got the one thing wrong that for me, as child and adult, is special about the book: the family.

That’s from Shirley Dent at the Guardian who seems to have been quite disappointed. Read the rest of her review here.

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Nostalgia Ain’t What It Used To Be

Thanks to Maude Newton, I came across Fine Lines, a Friday feature “… in which we give a sentimental, sometimes-critical, far more wrinkled look at the children’s and YA books we loved in our youth.”

So far they’ve done:

All-Of-A-Kind Family: Where I Would Put Something Yiddish If I Thought You Goyishe Farshtinkiners Would Farshtey

Island Of The Blue Dolphins: I’m a Cormorant And I Don’t Care.

Little House In The Big Woods: “I Play With A Pig Bladder Like It’s A Balloon”

‘The Grounding Of Group 6’: Have Fun At School And Don’t Forget To Die

Are You There, Crazy Psychic Muse? It’s Me, Lois Duncan

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Eulogy: Micki Sue Nevett

Micki’s husband, David Galletly, wrote:

I can not thank you enough for providing a space for friends to share their feelings for Micki. I have been reading the posts since yesterday and have shared the link with April, our families and friends as well as a printout of them with Micki’s mom. Your kind words and those of her colleagues have been of great comfort on a very difficult day as we laid her to rest. Micki, as you know, touched many in her all too brief life. She collected people in several different circles, which did not quite know about or understand each other. Your blog has let them know just how others in another of Micki’s circles loved her as much as they did.

One of those people that knew and loved her was our Rabbi Scott Shpeen who conducted her memorial service and eulogized her today. Scott’s daughter Hillary was born within days of April and they attended each others birthday parties from the age of 2. It is a bit long for a post so I wanted to share it with you directly, pasted below. It is an extraordinary effort from another of her friends to tie together Micki’s circles. Please feel free to use it as you wish.

Micki Sue Nevett

None of us should be here today. We should all be out and about doing whatever it is that we would normally be doing at this time of the day. But we are all here today, brought to this place because fate has dealt someone whom we love and for whom we care such a bitter blow.

Our natural inclination is to cry out, “why?” Why has someone so very kind and dear, someone who always had a smile on her face, someone who would give you the shirt off her back, someone who truly loved life, why has she been taken from us at such a young age, truly in the prime of her life, so suddenly and without warning?

Of course, there are no answers to our questions. We look for some sort of rationale, some sort of logic, but truly none is to be found. Instead, we do what our heart dictates. We are here together to bear this tragedy as a community and to stand with you, Micki’s dear family, and to envelop you with our love and concern, and to anchor you through these stormy hours with our presence and our unwavering support.

All of us here, in one way or another, crossed paths and shared a special connection, a special bond with our dear Micki. Micki branched out into many different circles in her life, each overlapping to form the fabric of her world. Whether it was friends from childhood, college classmates, colleagues with whom she worked, students whom she taught, neighbors and fellow parents, precious friends in her chavurah, fellow congregants here at Beth Emeth, Micki maintained relationships and connections with people from all aspects of her life.

In fact, these relationships which formed the core of her being and was the common thread throughout her life, focused primarily in three different spheres.

First and foremost, Micki treasured the strong bonds which linked all of her family to each other. Born in Brooklyn, the Nevetts later moved to Plainview, Long Island when Micki was a young teenager. For the first nine years of her life, Micki relished the fact that she was an only child to her parents Stanley and Evelyn. She savored the attention and the love showered upon her. Oftentimes, she would jokingly remind her sister Wendy, who is nine years younger, and brother Jonathon, twelve years younger, that all was well and good for those first nine years!!

And although Micki was that much older than Wendy and Jonathon, still they shared a very close and loving bond throughout their lives. When Wendy married Paul and Jonathon married Karen, they, too, were warmly embraced into Micki’s heart and the closeness extended even further as nieces and nephews Ted, Mady, Rachel, Michael and Danielle were each born.

When Micki’s father, Stanley, died a year ago March, she lost a father that she truly adored and treasured those early childhood memories of his taking her to the Park or to the zoo and wonderful afternoons the two often spent together.

Evelyn: Micki, I know, was a very caring and devoted daughter. You both were always in constant contact, talking to each other nearly each and every day. It came as no surprise to me to learn that Micki was a wonderful child growing up, rarely if ever any cause for upset or rebellion…but always with a smile on her face, with a good natured, positive and upbeat disposition.
Evelyn: There are no words that could begin to describe the loss you have now sustained. I only hope and pray that God will give you the strength and the fortitude you now need to take one day at a time and find your solace in all of the blessings in Micki’s life and the MANY lives that she touched, as evidenced by the outpouring here today, and the immeasurable influence that she has left in our community.

Micki came here to Albany to attend SUNYA in 1971 and quickly Albany became her home. Because of her love of literature and avid interest in reading, Micki was an English major. In her senior year, she took a course in Children’s Literature offered through the school of Library Science. Well, that one class made such an impression that it set the course for the rest of her career. Micki found a perfect match between her love of words and literature AND sharing that love with others, especially children.

This began the second very important circle in Micki’s life, her career as a Librarian and a storyteller par excellance.

Any of us who have ever had the good fortune to watch Micki read a book or tell a story to a group of children know what I mean when I say it was a marvel to behold. It was like watching an artist create the canvas in front of your very eyes. Perched on the edge of her chair, book propped high in the air, her voice and her facial expressions enabled the words to come alive and the story she was telling to take on a magical quality. What a gift she had in sharing her love of anything having to do with books, stories and literature.

Micki first worked in our area in the Bethlehem Public Library which provided the initial encouragement for her to develop her professional skills. For the past 15 years she has worked in the Guilderland school district primarily as Media Specialist at the Westmere Elementary school where her spirit and enthusiasm inspired a generation of students that came to love books and reading from Micki.

During her long career as a Librarian, Micki was actively involved in the American Library Association. Last year she was elected to serve on the very prestigious Newbery Book Award Selection Committee, truly a feather in the cap of her professional career.

The third sphere in which Micki lived her life was in our Jewish community. From a young age, she learned to love and appreciate the beauty of Judaism from her parents and the home in which she was raised. Early in her life Micki understood the importance of being connected to a synagogue having the role model of her father serving as President of their Temple.

So when she settled here in Albany and put down her roots, it became second nature for Micki to immerse herself in our Jewish community. She became part of a wonderful and special chavurah, a friendship group of families that have grown together over these years celebrating so many holidays and milestones.

Joining our Beth Emeth, Micki first became involved in our Religious school as our Children’s Librarian and master story teller as well. Just this past year, Micki was elected to our Board of Trustees and took over as chair of our Religious School committee. She was so very proud of that invitation and as busy as she was, there wasn’t anything that Micki couldn’t do, and do well, if she put her mind to it.

Her family, her colleagues, her students, her friends and neighbors, her Temple family here at Beth Emeth, we have all lost a very precious part of our lives and a shining spirit that brightened and enriched our community.

But as we say in our tradition, Acharon, Acharon, Chaviv….We save the most precious for last. And certainly the most precious in Micki’s life were you, David, and you, April.

Many years ago, when both David and Micki were students at SUNY and Micki was Student Government Secretary and David was involved in student government and work at the school radio station, their paths often crossed and they shared many friends in common. It was a comfortable friendship.

But it wasn’t until David came back to school his Senior year having sprouted a new beard over the summer, that he caught Micki’s eye in a different way and she quickly told him, “You look like Abe Lincoln!”. The relationship took a new turn and the they began dating more seriously.

David eventually graduated and went to work at a local radio station. Micki graduated the following year and accepted a position as a Children’s Librarian in Connecticut. That one year of commuting cemented their relationship and David claims that he lured Micki back to Albany with Friehofer Chocolate Cookies and a marriage proposal!

Thirty years ago this past October, David and Micki began their life together and set down their permanent roots in our community. David, as we know, ended up at WAMC and Micki as a Librarian, truly each other’s best friend, strongest supporter and closest confidant.

Then six years into their marriage, April arrived and life was never the same! Well, not only did Micki relish having an only child, remembering well how it felt those first years of her own life, but truly the sun rose and set in Micki’s eyes when it came to April.

Not only did Micki support anything and everything that April wanted to do, and would often step back and take a deep breath at April’s boundless energy and enthusiasm which rivaled her own, but like a lioness fiercely protecting her cub, you don’t mess with Micki when it came to April. All of a sudden, this easy going, good natured, sweet woman could rev it up a notch if it meant defending or supporting her daughter. Legend has it that Micki nearly ran down a High School teacher in the parking lot because he was mean to April! How very proud she was of all that April did in her life, everything that she accomplished and achieved.

Through all of what life presented over the years, Micki’s love for both David and April was total, immeasurable and unconditional…..truly the defining essence of all that Micki was and in all that she believed.

Why is it, then, that it takes a tragedy for many of us to really appreciate life and appreciate those with whom we share life’s journey? If nothing else, Micki, who loved life and who lived life so fully, her death has taught us so much about living…..And if we leave here today, yes, stunned by the shock and the tragedy of her death but committed to honoring the memory of one who was so special, so dear, so warm and welcoming, the way we will live OUR lives will then be a tribute to all that Micki meant to each one of us!

Micki, may you ever rest in peace, dear friend, dear and sweet soul that you were, and know that your memory will ALWAYS remain among us as truly the blessing you were!

Delivered by
Rabbi Scott L. Shpeen
Congregation Beth Emeth
Albany, NY


Filed under Children's Literature