Friday, May 29, 2009

Gleeful Video

From a legion of authors, the news that books make great gifts.

I totally geeked out upon seeing the likes of Judy Blume in this video. Happiness.

Thanks to Cheryl Rainfield for the link.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

The 48-Hour Book Challenge is Even Nigher!

MotherReader's 48-Hour Book Challenge starts next weekend, so gird your loins and gather your paperbacks, my dears. Abby (the) Librarian put up this great post about how to approach your 48HBC.

I suffered a little from competitiveness last year, so I'm going to bookmark her advice and keep it up all weekend. Remember, it's supposed to be fun!

On that note, I think I'm going to tackle the books in my TBR boxes (yes, I said boxes!) that I'm particularly looking forward to. It's no fun to marathon-read books that you feel kinda "meh" about.

What's your plan for the 48HBC?

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Sarah Dessen in Horn Book

From Horn Book, via the YAYAYAs, an interview with Sarah Dessen. She talks about her deliberately non-specific settings (Dessenland!), her passionate fans, and her rep as a teen chick lit author.
Young adults are an amazing audience to be writing for because you’re catching people at their most enthusiastic about reading. . . . It’s such a passionate time, adolescence. I remember the feeling in high school, and even in middle school, of reading a book and really connecting with it on that elemental level of “somebody understands me.” It’s so powerful. It’s a great market to be writing for because you connect so strongly with your audience.
Now Dessen is the kind of author I didn't think I would like, because I have something of a bias against literary books, but she grew on me. For the record, I now consider her one of the Big Three Chick-Literary YA Writers, the other two being Elizabeth Scott and Deb Caletti. Seeing any one of these three authors in a teen's hands garners an instant blanket recommendation for the other two. I have sent many a teen fleeing. It's a gift.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Seriously, Boys, Just Measure Them Already

I'm sure Bella has a ruler. presents us with the New Moon poster. Due out in November, lest ye forget.

Thanks to Tasha of Kids Lit,

Monday, May 18, 2009

Tweens on E-Readers

EarlyWord found this one. I've done a lot of babbling over at KTLA about e-picture books and some on here about eARCs, but this is just the kind of thing we should hear before we start talking about doing away with all the treekilling. In a column at YPulse entitled, Checking the Pulse: Tweens and Books, this question was mentioned:
"if someone bought you an eReader like the Amazon Kindle would you read books on it?" 64% responded "what's an eReader?"
And this is not an illiterate population either. The reading habits of the tweens surveyed (defined in the article as ages 8-15) warmed the cockles of my withered and blackened little librarian's heart. Makes me wonder if ebooks are really the tsunami of the future or just an additional medium that will take its place alongside paper books and audiobooks.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Guys Lit Wire, Incarerated Boys, and How You Can Help

One of my favorite things about the kidlitosphere is the trouble--ahem, initiatives--we regularly cook up. See Robert's Snow, the Bridget Zinn auction, Operation Teen Book Drop, etc. Guys Lit Wire is getting in on the fun with their own project, the Guys Lit Wire Book Fair for Boys. In a nutshell:
We are moving today into the second phase of GLW, where we put our money where our mouth is and physically act on getting books into the hands of boys that otherwise have none. Today we start the first two week Guys Lit Wire Book Fair for Boys to help the teens incarcerated in the LA County Juvenile Justice System. They have no books - at all - and they need them; they need them desperately.
Since it started last Wednesday, I take it that the GLWBFB runs until the 27th. Drop by Guys Lit Wire to find out more, especially how you can help.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Book Review: Shift by Jennifer Bradbury

Book: Shift
Author: Jennifer Bradbury
Published: 2008

Best friends since middle school, Chris and Win have the summer between high school and college all planned out. They're going to bike from coast to coast, West Virginia to California. They're going to see the country, camp out under the stars every night, and have the adventure of their lives.

But things don't work out that way. Only Chris makes it to the Pacific. Somewhere in Montana, Win took off on his own and Chris was just sick enough of his best friend to let him. He assumed Win went to Seattle as planned, then back home and on to Dartmouth and the glittering future that awaits him as Winston Coggans III.

Now it looks as if that's not the case. Nobody's heard from Win in several weeks, and Chris was the last one to see him alive, which brings a dark cloud of suspicion over him. As the search continues, and the pressure from the influential Coggans family grows, Chris begins to realize that Win simply doesn't want to be found. Would a true friend seek him out or let him disappear?

This book is unusual in that it's about the end of a friendship, rather than the beginning of one or the continuation of one. And yet, it's not about betrayal, which is the most popular way to lose a friend in YA novels. It's just about two boys becoming very different men from each other.

Alternating chapters between Chris-and-Win during the summer and Chris dealing with the mess Win left behind, Bradbury builds a mystery that comes slowly clearer in parallel threads. My only whinge is that for all the fussing about the powerful and vindictive Mr. Coggan and what he could do to Chris's family, no mention is made at the end of how they'll deal with this threat. But it's just one element in an otherwise tightly written and compelling narrative.

Don't miss this book about those times in your life when the most loving thing you can do is let go.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Many Bloggers, 48 Hours, No Sleep

For the fourth year in a row, MotherReader is challenging us to crank our natural gift for devouring the written word up to 11. Yes, my chickies, it's time once again for the the 48-Hour Book Challenge, in which kidlit lovers all over this great land hole up with two days' worth of chocolate, caffeine, an internet connection (to review, natch!) and of course, the books.

Last year was my first year doing this, and talk about a marathon. But I also flexed my reviewing skills and I'm very pleased with the result. (Hint: click the 48-Hour Book Challenge tag at the bottom of this link and see what I read and what I thought of it all.)

This year's 48HBC takes place June 5-7. You don't really have to go 48 hours without sleep in order to read, but it made a catchy title.

I just realized I'm scheduled for three days off that weekend. Woo-hoo! I can read for 48 hours AND do my laundry! Cleaning my apartment will probably take the back burner, however.

Are you in? Drop by MotherReader's blog to read up on the rules and regs, and to throw your name in the hat.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Eating Disorders, Wintergirls, and the New York Times

Today's kidlit brouhaha is brought to you by the New York Times, who ran an article titled, "The Troubling Allure of Eating Disorders." Focusing on Laurie Halse Anderson's latest, Wintergirls, it explores a question asked in the same paper's review of the novel:
Can a novel convey, however inadvertently, an allure to anorexic behavior?
Much like this blog post, the article is mainly a collection of quotes from different sources. For my money, the really interesting part of this comes in the comments, which seesaw wildly between, "How could that ever happen?" and "Yeah, that's the way it works," with some grace notes on the theme of, "We should keep this book away from teenagers vulnerable to eating disorders."

My favorite comment, however, states:
I would rather my daughter reads that and gets a real idea of what can happen than having her see pictures of anorexic models or actresses and aspiring to be like them before understanding the costs. Hiding things doesn’t keep kids from them, it just gives other sources more authority. What’s scarier than that?
If a parent is that concerned for their child's mental health that they believe he or she might see Wintergirls as inspiration, it's time for more than simply revoking their library card.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Bridget Zinn Auction up and running

One of our own, Bridget Zinn, was recently diagnosed with cancer. The Kidlitosphere, as it does, immediately rose to the occasion and organized an auction to help with her medical expenses.

And what an auction it is! People have donated art, books, crafts, manuscript critiques, even the chance to have your name in a Babymouse books.

Because I'm a bad blogger, the auction is partway over. But look at it this way--there's more to come! Go see what treasures await you.

And Bridget, we're all pulling for you.

ETA because what was up with that title? I certainly have no idea. *whistles innocently*

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Book Review: The Brooklyn Nine by Alan Gratz

Book: The Brooklyn Nine
Author: Alan Gratz
Published: 2009

In 1845, a ten-year-old German Jewish immigrant meets Alexander Cartwright and the New York Knickerbockers. In 2002, his fourteen-year-old great-great-great-great-great-great grandson hunts for the history of an antique bat. In between these two boys lies the winding, circuitous history of both baseball and modern America, and the deeply individual stories of the men and women that connect them. Through war, peace, changes, and challenges, the joy and heartbreak of baseball links nine generations in a truly American love affair.

In my April Reading Roundup, I mentioned that I loved this book and I don't even like baseball. It's true. I don't get the game, (although it has a catchy theme song) and I consider baseball on TV the best cure for insomnia available. But the love that Alan Gratz, and his characters, have for the game shines through and even hooked this sports-hater. Some characters play, some characters spectate, some are merely passionate fans. At least one or two of the stories don't even include a game, but baseball is in there somewhere.

Several of these stories would have been a fascinating novel in their own right. I especially would have liked to know more about 1950's-era Jimmy, product of a teen pregnancy and growing up without a dad in the middle of one of the most conservative eras in recent history. But that's up to Gratz, and Jimmy's story was tightly written and complete in itself.

Gratz also hits several interesting spots in history--not only the Civil War, but also the New York Mafia world of the 20's and the All American Girls Professional Baseball League in the 40's. The thing that he really does well about this is to sit you down in the center of a world, with its own celebrities, hot brands, and slang, and show you events that happen as part of this world rather than Important Historical Moments. Once is pretty impressive. Eight consecutive times (since the last inning takes place in 2002) takes a combination of fine writing and crackerjack (ha!) research skills. Fine work, sir.

A good book for sports nuts, history buffs, and anybody who likes a game full of cracking good yarns.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

And the Winner is . . .

The Hunger Games!!!

Honestly, I'm kind of amazed. I thought for sure that Octavian, with its literary complexity and nasty underbelly of history, would nudge out the red-hot thriller action and moral dilemmas you get from The Hunger Games. But they're such different books it's hard to compare. Let's go to judge Lois Lowry for a quotable quote:
Any book that starts out with 24 children and ends up with 22 of them dead----(one of them eaten alive by canines. I bet he was a very, ah, Tender Morsel)---that’s tough to beat.

You don’t like my decision? Find out my home address. Send thugs.
Lois, honey, I like your style. She does acknowledge, by the way, that every last book in the battle was a fabulous book to start out with.

Guys, suggestion for next year? Forget this "battle" stuff and just call it the Olympics. It gets that close.

Oh, and don't miss the comments!

Monday, May 04, 2009

Favorites of our Favorites

I'm always interested to see what today's whizbang children's writers loved when they were kids, and apparently I'm not alone. (For proof, look no further than the recent renaissance of The Little White Horse after J.K. Rowling pointed to it as her favorite childhood read.) Recently, some of Britain's top children's authors each picked their own Top Seven list. As the article writer notes:
Children's laureates Quentin Blake, Anne Fine, Michael Morpurgo, Jacqueline Wilson and Michael Rosen each selected seven books but have favoured the classics over the modern era. Only five of the 35 books selected were published during the last 20 years.
We could argue all day about why that is, but I couldn't help noticing that some of the titles were new even to me. Hooray, more books to read!

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Who's the Fairest of Them All?

School Library Journal's Battle of the Kid's Books has been raging for the past several weeks, but the end is drawing nigh, and it's down to the last bracket:

The Hunger Games vs. Octavian Nothing Vol. II.

You guys, I honestly don't know which to root for. I'm covering my eyes now. Nudge me when judge Lois Lowry makes her decision.

In the meantime, check out the Bo(K)B blog, which is jam-packed with much amusement, like the books' tweets. Hee.

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Book Review: Right Behind You by Gail Giles

Book: Right Behind You
Author: Gail Giles
Published: 2007

Once upon a time, there were two little boys. One was named Kip, and the other was named Bobby. One day, Kip got angry at Bobby. So he set him on fire, and Bobby died.

This story has been part of Kip McFarland’s life ever since he was nine years old. He’s spent four years in a mental institution for juvenile violent criminals. Now he’s emerging, with a new name, a new home, and hopefully a new life. But the crime he committed is still buried deep inside. Bobby may have died, but Kip lived. And Wade has to keep on living, knowing what he did, every single day.

Talk about a hook. The booktalk for this one just writes itself. How many of us have contemplated hideous murders on the news and wondered how a human being could do that, and, more, how they could live with themselves after? The idea of sociopathy is a comforting one--they look human, but they didn’t come equipped with a conscience. We could never do that because we’re real people.

In Right Behind You, Giles chooses to tell the wrenching tale of someone who made a terrible mistake and will never stop paying for it. But beyond that, this novel asks the questions: what is forgiveness? What is redemption? Is either possible when you’ve taken another’s life, even if by accident?

This is not a light read, and not for somebody who likes their heroes flawless. But it's most definitely worth reading.

Friday, May 01, 2009

Reading Roundup April 2009

By the Numbers
Teen: 13
Tween: 12
Children: 20

Teen: Right Behind You by Gail Giles
Tween: The Dragonfly Pool by Eva Ibbotson
Children: Where I Live by Eileen Spinelli

Because I Want To Awards
Most Extended Happy Dance Upon Arrival: Fire by Kristin Cashore (and yes, it lived up to it)
Most Unusual Character Description: Punk rock Orthodox Jewish sitcom actress Hava Aaronson, from Never Mind the Goldbergs by Matthue Roth
Tearjerker Without Being Sappy: Mick Harte Was Here by Barbara Park
Loved It and I Don't Even Like Baseball: The Brooklyn Nine by Alan Gratz
More Than I Expected: No Talking by Andrew Clements