Saturday, May 31, 2008

Slightly Longer BEA report

So I said I'd make a longer report today, after the pain had ebbed. Well, it hasn't, but I'm still reporting, because I'm just that dedicated. Also, I'll probably forget all this stuff if I don't list it now.

Clearly I had fun. I'm really not kidding about the two-foot-tall stack o' ARCs, and I think I was actually kinda conservative. (Of course, I think I'm doing good if I get my bead-addicted self out of JoAnn Fabric under a hundred dollars, so make of that what you will.) I mentioned a couple of my finds yesterday. I also got some books signed.

Cory Doctorow's Little Brother
Cecil Castelluci's Janes in Love
MT Anderson's Kingdom of the Waves (AKA Octavian Nothing II) (Ooo! And there's going to be another Whales on Stilts title!)
Adam Rex's Frankenstein Takes the Cake
David Carter's Yellow Square (well, not the actual book, but a one-page promotional foldout thingee that I may frame.)

All these authors were very cool and funny and personable, even when I could actually see their fingers start to fall off after signing umpty-ump books for umpty-ump gushing fangirls like myself.

Chocolate kisses to the all the publisher types I talked to, especially the following:

Feiwel and Friends
First Second
Harper Collins

Whether I was shamelessly begging for ARCs or just burbling about current titles, you were enthusiastic and knowledgeable and generally great to talk to.

Of course, the best part of any conference is the colleagues you meet, whose names you never get because you're too busy talking about other stuff. So hi to the teen/adult librarian from Ohio, a fellow line-waiter for Cory Doctorow, who tried to convince me that I missed the Midwest. Also in that line, a very cool gal who appreciated my shirt so much she immortalized it on digital film. Finally, the bookseller/art major in the Adam Rex line who traded titles and Lemony Snicket chat.

I wish I'd been able to go all three days, but I'm glad I got even this one.

Note to self: Take small bags. Big bag does not equal good. Big bag holds more books. More books is more weight. More weight is not being able to move your shoulders for three days. Mmmkay? Mmmkay.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Book Expo America Mini Report

I have a two-foot tall stack of wicked cool galleys to read, including one for John Green's Paper Towns and one for Suzanne Collins' The Hunger Games. However, my legs and shoulders feel like gigantic red torpedos of pain.

It is a good trade.

More tomorrow.

ETA: Slightly revived from a snack of Pocky Sticks (really. Don't ask.) I have to note: gigantic red torpedos of pain? I didn't even spell torpedoes right. Clearly I have some very good drugs or I need some.

Also? I got my hot little mitts on Frankenstein Takes the Cake. Whee!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

One of the Many Reasons I Became a Public Librarian . . .

Lee Wind over at I'm Here, I'm Queer, What the Hell Do I Read? posted a thought-provoking piece on his attempt to donate GLBTQ titles to E.O. Green Junior High School, the school where 15-year-old Larry King was killed after confessing his crush on a (male) fellow student.

Soldier on, Lee. This kind of thing is exactly why we need those books.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Book Review: Long May She Reign by Ellen Emerson White

Book: Long May She Reign
Author: Ellen Emerson White
Published: 2007

Meg Powers has not had a good year.

Last spring, she was kidnapped by terrorists, brutalized and tortured over a period of thirteen days. What’s worse, her own mother refused to negotiate for her. Why? Because her mother is the President of the United States.

Now, after a dramatic and grueling escape, Meg has turned into Humpty-Dumpty, trying to put herself back together again. There are plenty of the President’s horses and men to take care of the physical aspects--a shattered knee and hand--but the hardest recovery is inside. Dealing with psychological fallout, new physical limitations, homesickness, the media, and the ever-constant pain, Meg has to wonder. Is it even possible to be herself again?

Okay, this book? Was amazing. I read the first book in the series lo these many years ago (The President’s Daughter) and never knew that there were two sequels (White House Autumn and Long Live the Queen). But when I heard this was coming down the pike, I remembered Meg well enough to put it right on my list.

Ellen Emerson White avoids a cliché by having Meg not only know her mother’s decision not to negotiate, but understand and, even in a way, approve of it. Some other authors would have turned the book into a war between mother and daughter, an angsty “You love the United States more than you love meeeeee,” annoy-a-thon, with the appropriately weepfest reunion scene at the end. White gives everyone, including the readers, more credit than this.

It’s not a plot book, by a long shot. Not much actually happens. Meg goes to her brothers’ ball games, she goes to PT, talks with friends and family, goes to college . . . there are some exciting events, sure, but by and large this is a character book, and the character surely is Meg Powers. Proud, vulnerable, sarcastic, strong-willed, exhausted, and blessed with a core of temprered steel, Meg’s many-layered character makes the long journey back to something like life a compelling one.

I’d recommend this for older YA’s, sixteen and up, who enjoy dry humor, a savvy and intelligent protagonist, and an intimate look behind the scenes of one of the most public institutions in the world.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Five Things Meme

Liz B. invited everyone into the sandbox on this one. Here's my Five Things meme, started by . . . somebody, I know not who.

Five Things Meme

Rules for the game:
1. The rules of the game get posted at the beginning.
2. Each player answers the questions about themselves.
3. At the end of the post, the player then tags 5-6 people and posts their names, then goes to their blogs and leaves them a comment, letting them know they’ve been tagged and asking them to read the player’s blog.
4. Let the person who tagged you know when you’ve posted your answer.

What was I doing 10 years ago?

Exactly ten years ago, I was a junior in high school. At that time, I was convinced that NYT bestseller-dom was only a finished book away, and I could support myself by teaching until that happened. Believe it or not, librarianship wasn't even a speck on the horizon.

Five things I would do if I were a billionaire:
1. Buy a hybrid car
2. Buy a house
3. Take a trip around the world
4. Buy every TV show on DVD I ever wanted, ever.
5. Become Batwoman! (Oh shut up. You would too. Admit it.)

Five jobs that I have had:
1. Babysitter
2. Library page
3. Bakery
4. Temp (for a year. I do not recommend this to anybody. Ever.)
5. Children's librarian

Five of my habits
1. Keeping obsessive track of what I want to read in my Blue Journal
2. Keeping obsessive track of what I have read via LibraryThing
3. Telling myself I will exercise tomorrow. Really. I will.
4. Talking myself out of buying kewl electronic toys
5. Planting flowers, which then die really, really quickly.

Five places I have lived:
1. Various cities, Michigan (that gave me a loathing of snow and all cold weather)
2. Louisville, Kentucky (that gave me Suth'n mannahs, which consist of a lot of Sirs and Ma'ams and being able to cut jerks off at the knees with a sweet smile. At least in my head.)
3. Kingston, Surrey, UK (that gave me a taste for McVittie's and Indian food)
4. Tucson, Arizona (where I left my heart. Really. It was in a jar under my bed when I moved.)
5. LA County, California (that gave me a real hatred of commuting)

I think all my regular taggees have already done this one, so I'll say what Liz said: Wanna play? Jump in!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Bringing You Last Week's News Today

As usual, I'm about the last person to hear, but we have another rockin' Summer Blog Blast Tour going on! Check out this schedule, you guys. Look at those authors! Look at those bloggers! Look at those authors talking to those bloggers!! How cool is that?

In other news, SBBT organizer Colleen so needs to switch to decaf.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Technology in the Picture Book

Check out this rather neatokeen little slide show over at, about the portrayal of technology in picture books. I went in expecting a diatribe on how picture-book authors are all nostalgia chasers, stuck in the past and it's time to move into the 21st century. But the commentary makes some valid points for why, in some books, telephones steadfastly have cords and earphones are still gigantic. At the same time, she points out a couple of books that realistically portray technology as an everyday part of a young child's life.

Thanks to Gail over at Original Content for the link.

Book Review: Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

I've been sitting on this review for a little while, mostly because it just needed a couple of tugs and tweaks to be postable. I named this book my Teen Standout for March and promised a review, so finally here it is!

Book: Thirteen Reasons Why
Author: Jay Asher
Published: 2007

It's been two weeks since Hannah Baker's suicide, and just like everyone else who knew her, Clay Jensen still doesn't understand why. Then he gets an unusual package in the mail. Seven audiotapes, with Hannah's voice on them. Each side contains one story, about somebody in her life who contributed to her descent into darkness. Thirteen stories, and one blank side. Not coincidentally, these thirteen people are also the only ones who will receive this package, one after the other, and learn how their actions, or inactions, affected Hannah's decision to end her life.

Over the course of one night, Clay will listen to Hannah's taped voice and follow the map she left in his locker, seeing through her eyes and hearing her story. The question is, at the end of it, will he understand her choice any better than he did when he started?

And will he understand what he could have done to save her life?

This could have been just another angsty suicide novel, but Jay Asher did something intriguing when he brought in the idea of the taped stories. It makes Hannah's voice one of two in the story. Clay's perspective allows us to realize that as much as she believed she had no choice but to take her own life, Hannah had a number of chances to reach out to another person. At the same time, we can see that other peoples' choices and actions affected Hannah deeply, and often in a way that those people probably never could have anticipated.

Along with Clay, we have an exceptional chance to hear someone's personal story, and to understand that every story has at least two sides, and often many more.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

News and Links!

My Google Alert spit out a few articles worthy of linking, so I'm sharing the joy.

First up? A short Q&A with Diary of a Wimpy Kid author Jeff Kinney, including news of a third book (although no title yet, bah!)

Then an article about prison-bound parents who have found a way to read to their children on the outside.

Finally, Columbia Pictures has gotten their mitts on the rights to the Goosebumps series. Considering how popular this series has always been, I'm hopeful that Scholastic and Stine were holding out for quality before signing over. We'll see what happens.

Happy Birthday Paddington!

Paddington Bear is 50!

To tell you guys the truth, Paddington always struck me as being somewhere in his forties, a dear middle-aged duffer with questionable fashion sense, gently earnest outlook, and comfortable in his own skin.

Check out the link for an article about Paddington Bear, his writer, and his illustrator(s). Also, there will be a new Paddington book in June in the UK, so hopefully soon after in the US!

Thanks to Trisha at Kids Lit for the link.

Doom! Doooooooom!

Apparently the Picture Book is Dying. Don't tell the people who come flooding to my library to check out metric tons of the things, or the writers and publishers who keep putting out delicious picture books that I thrust upon those self-same parents with a manic glint in my eye. (Current favorite: Big and Little. Read it to 50 under-4s this morning and kept their attention throughout. Holy Hannah.)

Or maybe it's only in the UK?

Really, I think the only thing affecting the picture book is the same thing that affects every other sector of the publishing world: People buy what they know. So that's what libraries are for.

Thanks to Fuse #8 for the link.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

We're in on the Secret

Not that Secret. The other Secret. The Secret of YA, how it's the coolest and most innovative place in the bookstore these days.

Dare I say, duh.

Check out this article at Don't forget to read the comments, which range from echoing my sentiments above to "Yeah, yeah, whatever" to "Make sure you bring a kid along to the bookstore or people will look at you like you're a pedophile."

Also have a look at Scott Westerfeld's post on this article.

Sunday Funny!

Ever wondered why you had to find Waldo?

Also? Wicked cool PSA from the UK. I want them to make one with all kids' books, although this one does include Peter Pan and some unidentified picture book.

Courtesy of Bookshelves of Doom

Friday, May 09, 2008

In Author We Trust

So yesterday I was catching up on my emails from adbooks and Child_Lit, two listservs that collectively generate about 2,568,034 emails per day. Some people were chatting about the books they're looking forward to, and I broke out my Blue Journal of Stuff I Gotta Read Before I Die and started copying down names.

I paused and thought, Why am I putting these titles down? In some cases, it was just a list of titles--no synopses, nothing. I don't know anything about their subject, their tone, or even their age level. But some author names I saw and went, "Oo, okay!"

I realized that I just trust the author that much. No matter what they've written (and sometimes the style and content vary wildly), it's well-done and absorbing. That's quite a thing, to gain the trust of your reader in that fashion.

Author trust is different than following a series. I'll request the latest Enola Holmes or the next Cronus Chronicles because I want to find out what happens next, but I'll have to hear a little bit about any title the author writes outside of that series before it does down in my Blue Journal.

The deepest author trust is when you hear the synopsis and go, ". . . Huh. I dunno about that one. If another author were writing it, I'd pass it over, but it's X. So I'll give it a whirl."

Sometimes it's style-related. I know what I'm getting from Meg Cabot, for instance--a fun, funny girl-centric story. There've been disappointments, sure, but not enough to destroy my trust. Sometimes it's just the characters. Catherine Gilbert Murdock, for instance, can be counted on for kick-ass girls, no matter if they play football or wear crowns.

But sometimes author trust is just there because the quality has been consistent on practically every page.

Here's a few more of my most trusted authors:
Lisa Yee
Diane Wynne-Jones
Meg Cabot
Eva Ibbotson
John Green
Mo Willems
Maureen Johnson
Emily Gravett

I'm sure there's more, but from flipping through my Blue Journal and noting the titles I wrote down without any need to hear a synopsis, that's my preliminary list.

Who are the authors you most trust?

Friday, May 02, 2008

Reading Roundup April 2008

Yes, I'm still alive! I haven't been blogging much because for the past couple of weeks I've hit a patch of not-very-interesting books. Luckily, there were just enough way-cool ones to keep my head above water. Here's what I liked.

By the Numbers
Total Number Read: 75
Teen: 17
Tween: 11
Children: 21
Preschool: 40

Teen: Dragon Slippers by Jessica Day George
Tween: The True Meaning of Smekday by Adam Rex
Children: Aggie and Ben: Three Stories by Lori Ries
Preschool: Thank You Bear by Greg Foley

Because I Want To Awards

Worth the Wait: Into the Wild by Sarah Beth Durst
Made My Mouth Water: Hot, Sour, Salty, Sweet by Sherri L. Smith
Prompted the Loudest, Girliest Squeals: Nic Bishop Spiders by Nic Bishop
Trippiest Structure: Black and White by David Macauley
Most Reassuring: It's Okay to Be Different by Todd Parr
Passed It Around to All the New Grandmas Working At My Library to Watch Them Cry, Because I’m Like That: You Were Loved Before You Were Born by Eve Bunting