Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Totally Not an April Fool's Joke

So last week, Gregory K. emailed me to tell me about this rather awesome project called 30 Days/30 Poets. April being National Poetry Month, he intends to post a brand-spankin' new, never-before-seen poem, specially written for the purpose, every single day, starting tomorrow.

Participating poets include Jack Prelutsky, Pat Mora, Jane Yolen, Nikki Grimes . . . and those are just the ones that made me squeal extra-loud. Since I'm kind of a poetry dunce, you know this is a pretty special collection to make me sit up and take notice.

Stop on by his announcement to see the full list of poets and a list of other ways you can participate in National Poetry Month.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

I'm Probably Gonna Regret This

Maureen Johnson keeps getting people bugging her to blog, even though she has lots of things to do, mainly concerned with writing really good books. But she has listened to the voice of the people, or at least those people that are really loudmouthed, and has promised to blog every day in April.

She made the mistake of capitalizing Blog Every Day in April when Twittering about it, and now people think it's, like, a Thing. That You Do. With Capitals. And lo, it has become a Thing That You Do With Capitals.

This sounds like a good idea, especially since I've been lazyish about blogging lately. Plus, you know, people named Maureen are frickin' brilliant. Before I sober up, I hereby pledge to Blog Every Day in April. On both my blogs. Oh my god, you people, what am I getting myself into?

If you want to Blog Every Day in April, stop by Maureen Johnson's blog and find out the rules. It being Maureen Johnson, there aren't that many that don't involve zombies or coconut cream pies. If you Twitter about it, add the tag #BEDA.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Book Review: Jack Plank Tells Tales by Natalie Babbitt

Book: Jack Plank Tells Tales
Author: Natalie Babbitt
Published: 2007

Jack Plank has just been laid off from his pirate job. He's put ashore with a little money in his pocket and no idea what to do next. He finds a boarding house and the landlady reluctantly agrees to let him live there on the condition that he finds a proper job as soon as possible (i.e, nothing piratey). But Jack searches day in and day out, and never finds a job. Or rather, he finds several, but they always seem to remind him of some crazy event in his past.

The household is kept entertained by his nightly tales around the dinner table, but as the days pass, Jack gets more and more worried. How is he ever going to find the perfect job?

While Natalie Babbitt doesn't have the general-public star power of Madeleine L'Engle or Beverly Cleary, she's one of those names known to teachers and librarians for a long, long time. After reading this book, I know why. Jack Plank's stories run the gamut from hair-raising (the mummy's hand) to sweet (the music-loving crocodile. No, really), but the whole book has a light, charming, tall-tale tone about it.

It took me a couple of hours to finish Jack Plank Tells Tales, but due to the episodic nature, this would work perfectly as a middle or upper-elementary classroom or bedtime readaloud across a week or two.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Harlequin Teens

I've been meaning to post this little snippet for awhile now, so when PW ran a story, it was just the kick in the pants I needed.

The publisher Harlequin, best known for their romance novels, is hoping to slice themselves a piece of the YA pie (mmm, pie) with a new line aimed at teens. I would be inclined to snark, but two things stop me: one, that I read a lot of romance myself and that would just be hypocritical, and two, that the ladies from Smart Bitches, Trashy Books would hunt me down and gut me. I'm scared of the smart bitches, y'all.

While the Harlequin Teen line does seem to be focusing on the girls, they don't seem to be (as one would expect) solely teen romances. Instead, the line is going for
a spectrum of genres including fantasy, contemporary, historical, science fiction and—no surprise—romance.
They're also hoping to get market info directly from the girls via a website that asks for direct input. We'll see how that works out.

They have actually done YA before, with Kimani Tru, a not-totally-romance offshoot of their African-American romance line. Kimani Tru hasn't set the world on fire, but from what I've seen of their titles, they've done an all-right job appealing to teen girls.

So what do you think? Are they going to get a nice big piece of the pie, with whipped cream on top? Or just the icky, dry pieces of crust?

Monday, March 23, 2009

Operation Teen Book Drop

So you know how Uncle Sam is totally giving you back all sorts of money this year? What are you going to do with it? How about passing on your deep and slightly scary love of YA by participating in Operation Teen Book Drop?

In all their awesomosity, a whole bunch of blogs like Readergirlz and Guys Lit Wire, plus more, are sponsoring a drive to bring good books to hospital-bound teens. How can you participate, I hear you say? So glad you asked.
Readergirlz invites teens and YA authors to leave a book in a public place on April 16th. Participants can download bookplates to insert into the books they'll leave behind.
And if Uncle Sam is being a cheapskate this year, well, there's always the library book sale. Follow the link to find out what to do once you've gotten the book you want to drop.

Friday, March 20, 2009

"Congratulations--You Pissed a Lot of People Off"

This was one reaction to "Be Still and Know," a play based on one of the few books to deal positively with both faith and homosexuality, Alex Sanchez's eye-opening The God Box. Making it even more fun, the play was adapted and performed by a group from Sacred Heart Preparatory school in the Bay Area, as part of a school-wide unit on homosexuality and faith. Pretty awesome, if you ask me.

Follow the dancing link to find out more about the book, the play, and the reaction.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Farah Mendlesohn and the Campaign for Shiny Futures


Farah Mendlesohn, a name I see often on the Child_Lit listserv, has published an impassioned article about the state of sci-fi in YA, and how it got there. Quotage, you ask? Soitenly.
Very few SF books published for the teen market since 1970 saw the future as something to look forward to, and the downbeat books are not merely skeptical, they are downright doom-mongering and disempowering.
Now I love me some Uglies and Feed as much as the next geek, but I have to admit she's got a point there. Dystopia are so common in YA SF that I have a whole category in my LibraryThing for it. She also makes some remarks about why teens aren't supposed to like classic techno-geek SF (and why that assumption isn't always right) that are worth paying attention to.

She mentions a forthcoming book, The Intergalactic Playground. Now I'm terribly interested in reading it, or at least getting my hot little hands on a booklist.

Thanks to SheilaRuth via Twitter.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

New Award on the Horizon

YALSA's adding another award to the Printz, the Alex, and new-kid-on-the-block Morris. This one doesn't have a snappy title yet, but it's for Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults.

This one made me blink a little. We've got great nonfic for kids of all ages (even some awesome early-reader nonfic, as evidenced by the inclusion of Wolf Snail on the Geisel award list this past January), but once you get up into the YA zone, it gets pretty thin on the ground. Most libraries, in fact, shelve teen nonfic together with adult nonfic.

On the other hand, maybe that's exactly why we should have an award. I'll keep an eye on this one.

Thanks to AbbyLibrarian on Twitter, again.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The Hunger Games Movie!

After yesterday's post on books being made into movies, here's some news for you: The Hunger Games is next up for the silver screen!

It's just talkity talk at the moment, but I'm excited because a) the book kicked all forms of tail and b) I happen to think it'll translate on-screen very well. Crossing my fingers on this one!

Thanks to AbbyLibrarian for the news, via Twitter.

Monday, March 16, 2009

The Neverending Movie (Again) Plus Special Bonus Lightning Round

I've had this one marked in Google Reader for a few weeks, but something akin to the Black Death laid me low all last week. I'm crawling back towards life now, so I've decided to post about it. Apparently, The Neverending Story is on the radar of Leonardo DiCaprio's production company, for a remake, or a reboot, or some such. I have two questions:

1) Since when does Leo have a production company?
2) Really, Leo, must you?

I have fond memories of TNS, including the book itself, which I buckled down and read in grad school. I fear the Hollywood treatment. Currently, the only studio I trust to make a halfway decent movie out of a really good book is Walden Media.

The link asks pretty much the same questions, including our Special Bonus Lightning Round: what book should be made into a movie? Leave your opinions (and your opinions on the comments at EW) in the comments section.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

K.L. Going Rules the World

You know she does. Check out this recent Publisher's Weekly interview, wherein she talks about her circuitous route to publication, her new book (King of the Screwups), and writing in the wake of the critical huzzahs that greeted her first novel, Fat Kid Rules the World (hint: tough. Very tough).
I was used to thinking that writing a novel you had all the time in the world and all of a sudden people were asking, ‘Where’s the next one?’ I was thinking, ‘What? Another one? So soon?’ I can’t do that.
Apparently she managed.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Book Review: The White Darkness by Geraldine McCaughrean

Book: The White Darkness
Author: Geraldine McCaughrean
Published: 2007

Symone Wates is in love with an older man. A lot older. Like 90 years. Ever since her father's death, she's had a passion for the romantic, tragic figure of Titus Oates. She knows everything about his wanderings in the Army and his participation in Scott's doomed expedition to the South Pole. She even has entire conversations with Titus in her head. She's gobbled up every scrap of information about Antarctica that she possibly can, knowing it's the closest she'll ever get to him.

Then her uncle sweeps her away on a whirlwind expedition to Antarctica itself. But this is no ordinary vacation. Uncle Victor is convinced that the path into the hollow earth lies at the South Pole, and he'll stop at nothing to get them there.

Symone might be meeting the real Titus sooner than she thinks . . .

This book was the Printz award winner for 2008, and was a bit of a dark horse as far as I was concerned. (Me: "The White Wha?") I've read Geraldine McCaughrean before, and she's honestly sort of hit or miss. She scored a hit with this one, a very palpable one.

It's a hard trick to create a character that you accept in all their oddity and at the same time want to shake awake, but McCaughrean pulls it off. You know of Symone's imaginary relationship with Oates from page one, and there's something off about Uncle Victor right from his introduction. While Symone knows the Oates thing is weird, (and she's okay with that, which is probably at least some of her charm) she takes considerably longer to catch on in the case of Victor. This could have led to the fifty-page execution order if it weren't for Symone's self-deprecating narration, which is soaked in all the passion that a fourteen-year-old is capable of--passion for a romantic ideal and for a place. I was honestly surprised to read that McCaughrean had never been to Antarctica, because the way she describes it, you can almost feel the frostbite getting at your fingers.

When you get right down to it, this is a story of obsession and its accompanying blindness. Symone, Uncle Victor, and even the doomed 1912 expedition all suffer from obsessions that cloud their understanding of the world around them. Symone just happens to be the lucky one who survived hers.

Friday, March 06, 2009

Friday Glee #4

My glee seems sporadic lately. You may have to live with it. Some weeks are more gleeful than others.

I use Google Reader, and every time I run across a blog post or a news item I think I should put up, I mark it with the little "share this" button, and then it languishes in that file until I get around to it. Consider this cleaning house.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Rainbow List is Out

No pun intended. Oh, who am I kidding? If there's a pun, I intended it.

Anyway, the 2009 Rainbow List is out and proud. This list, created by a couple of very long-named subcommittees from the American Library Association, is for
well-written and/or well-illustrated titles with authentic and significant gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgendered/queer/questioning (GLBTQ) content for youth from birth through age 18.
Yowza. Ambitious much? But I'm especially glad that it included picture books, which are hard to find. The list includes titles like Uncle Bobby's Wedding, After Tupac and D Foster, and Another Kind of Cowboy. Good job, guys.

Thanks to Cheryl Rainfield for the heads-up.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Blogging Award

Okay, so this has been in my inbox for awhile. Ronni awarded me a Premio Dardos award. Wow!
The Dardos Award is given for recognition of cultural, ethical, literary, and personal values transmitted in the form of creative and original writing. These stamps were created with the intention of promoting fraternization between bloggers, a way of showing affection and gratitude for work that adds value to the Web.
Thanks for the award, Ronni! I've seen this making the rounds of the kidlitosphere, so I'm going to follow Jen Robinson and Lee Wind's examples and let it stop with me. There are so many good blogs on my blogroll and the nearcircle widget off to the left that I think you should check all of those out.

Monday, March 02, 2009

ARCs at Shelf Space

Liz Burns of A Chair, a Fireplace, and a Tea Cozy has an article up at Shelf Space about ARCs, or Advance Reader Copies, the book blogger's favorite perk (okay, well, mine). She talks to various people involved in publishing about the practice and uncovers some facts, like the real difference between a galley and an ARC.
"[Galleys] are for hot, hot, hot books where the publisher wants to generate buzz," Farrey says. "They're meant to get people talking about the book itself, not necessarily to generate reviews (although that does happen too)." With the recent cutbacks in publishing, Farrey speculates that we will start seeing fewer galleys and more ARCs; and that they will be done digitally, via PDF.
I'd heard about the PDF thing recently. While I've always been a fan of the paper copies that I can lug around in my purse and thwack impertinent patrons with, I have to admit that the idea of e-ARCS (EARCs? Now I'm just getting silly) is more palatable than I thought.

I have an iPod Touch with a free e-reader called Stanza on it. I don't have a lot of books on it (yet) but it's super-handy for grocery store lines and the like. I've even found myself curled up on the couch hunched over my Touch, heedless of time passing, just like with a paper copy. It's lighter and the experience is much the same once you get used to nudging a screen with your thumb instead of turning a page.

Less thwackable though.

The other positive about e-ARCs is that they aren't as environmentally wasteful. While I often give my used ARCs away to kids at my library, I even more often find myself staring at a stack of ARCs that nobody was interested in, steeling myself to toss them in the trash. It's less painful to just delete a file.

What do you guys think? Is this the wave of the future for ARCs, or just for utter techies like me?

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Reading Roundup February 2009

By the Numbers
Teen: 18
Tween: 9
Children: 13

Teen: The White Darkness by Geraldine McCaughrean
Tween: Genesis Alpha by Rune Michaels
Children: Deep and Dark and Dangerous: A Ghost Story by Mary Downing Hahn

Because I Want To Awards
Coolest Nonfiction: Where in the Wild?: Camouflaged Creatures Concealed ... and Revealed by David Schwartz
Favorite Retelling: Cinder Edna by Ellen Jackson
Neatest Structure: Stealing Home: Jackie Robinson: Against the Odds by Robert Burleigh