Friday, August 31, 2007

Ho ho ho

Off to New York for my last year's birthday present from Elizabeth, seeing my namesake challenged by the Jolly Green Newbie. Back to our usual programming on Tuesday.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Hear Us Roar

The inaugural Horn Book Podcast is up for your listening pleasure. Lolly is setting it up with iTunes so you'll be able to subscribe; for now, go to the podcast page on our site to hear my interview with Jon Scieszka.

I interviewed Jon for our special September issue, Boys and Girls. That too is now just out and you can see the table of contents here and web extras here. I think this is one of the best issues we've done.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Monday, August 27, 2007

Son of a Preacher Man

I'm spending Richard Peck's summer vacation editing his Sutherland Lecture for publication in the November HB. It's a great speech--Peck has always been among the best of our writer-speakers--and his epigrammatic style can be pure poetry. I'm working directly from the speech manuscript, and I've never seen one quite like it, with the paragraphs carefully subdivided into clauses, giving it the cadences of a well-wrought sermon and the rhythm of a verse novel. Peck has an instinct for formal shape, in his poetry and short stories as well as his novels, so I guess it's no surprise his speeches have the same discipline.

Cathy Mercier swears I once gave a one hour talk at Simmons from three words written on an index card but I know I'll never be that good (or nervy) again. I find in my twilight years that I really need to have the whole damn thing in front of me. What methods do you-all use? Full text, cards, outline? Do you wing it? And how do we feel about PowerPoint?

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Off topic: this is just for those

. . . for whom a day that does not start with inappropriate laughter is not, uh, a day.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Lesbolicious is the word

for this picture of dykon Louise Fitzhugh, looking like James Dean's love child on KT Horning's new blog Worth the Trip. The blog is going to be devoted to coverage of GLBTQXYZ books for kids and teens and with KT at the helm you know the thinking and writing are going to be first-rate.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Walking and chewing gum at the same time

This story about headphones, etc. being banned from running races makes me think about our various discussions re audiobooks. I wonder why I'm capable of reading a printed book as a discrete activity, but listening to one requires me to either be in motion or playing solitaire or some low-level computer game. I can't just sit and listen. Are there any neuro-psych types out there who might be able to explain?

I understand the safety aspect of banning headphones from races but the "purity" aspect of it--that real runners are soooo tuned into their bodies and higher power and all--makes me laugh about how similar it is to readers who turn their nose up at book listeners.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Writing for the Horn Book: Field Notes

Field Notes is our column for essays about connecting children and books. Contributors can be librarians, booksellers, parents, publishers, teachers, writers--anyone who has seen children's books in action. It's not a column for tips on running a summer reading program or how to read aloud, but rather it's a place where we invite contributors to explore how real book-child interactions have made them think about children's literature or children's reading in a new way. Avoid the words "magic" and "treasure." Keep it short--1000 to 1500 words, and payment varies. Send queries or submissions to Assistant Editor Claire Gross, cgross at hbook dot com.

Monday, August 13, 2007

A small correction

I have a short piece about Harry Potter up on the New York Times site, and it has a small but glaring (to me, anyway) mistake. The passage that reads

Nonreaders found in Rowling a benignly authoritarian guide: she told you what to look at and how to feel about what you saw. Those already accustomed to the pleasures of action learned early on to skip the adverbs, rejoicing instead in the wholly imagined world.

should read

Nonreaders found in Rowling a benignly authoritarian guide: she told you what to look at and how to feel about what you saw. Those already accustomed to the pleasures of fiction learned early on to skip the adverbs, rejoicing instead in the wholly imagined world.

The Times editor is on vacation so I don't think it will be fixed there anytime soon, and I hate sounding even more clueless than I am. At least I don't sound as churlishly brain-dead as Orson Scott Card does on the same page; there's a comfort.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Oops! I did it again

Via a colleague, I was recently warned by someone "just trying to be helpful" to refrain from political commentary on this blog. The thinking was that making fun of Republicans was not good for children's books, the one place, apparently, where we all get along.

And children's books have certainly been good to the Republicans. Just ask Mrs. Voldemort. And now Laura Bush is getting into the act. But I have just a small friendly suggestion. Really. Kids who don't like to read hate books that tell them "books can be a lot of fun." (Kids who do like to read hate them, too.) To them, it's just another instance of grownups telling them how wrong they are. As my "helpful" correspondent pointed out, nobody likes to hear that.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007


So Baby Einstein is actually bad for babies? While this study will probably only provoke more rounds of the coffee-hurts-you-coffee-helps-you kinds of further studies, I'd love to let the Freakonomics guys loose on this one. There are so many other correlations: if the Baby Einstein videos don't do what they promise, it could be because the parents don't use them as instructed (be warned, that link plays plastic classical music over and over again, trying to make you as smart as El Divo) or because dumb parents who think TV is good for babies pass their dumb genes on to their children (harsh, but that's Freakonomics for ya). Always nice to see Disney get a little grief, though.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

I meant that about the pencils

Yesterday's announcement re the September 2008 special issue ("School") has already reeled in its first submission, and yes, all of you are Called even while I can't speak to who is Chosen until I've seen what ya got.

Since I'm devoting this month to cranking out prose I thought I might give you the chance to do the same. The Horn Book Magazine is always on the lookout for good features and columns. Next month, for example, in our special issue "Boys and Girls," we'll be publishing several people I met via blogging, Gail Gauthier, Lisa Yee, and Mitali Perkins among them. It could be you.

While we are set for book reviewers right now, there's always room for a good column or article or letter to the editor. (I've already told you about Cadenzas.) Here is the submission policy:

How do I submit an article for The Horn Book Magazine?
Articles submitted should be of a critical nature on some aspect of children’s literature and should be no longer than 2800 words in length. Potential contributors are advised to have a solid familiarity with The Horn Book Magazine before submitting manuscripts. Please allow four months for a decision about acceptance. Payment is received upon publication. The magazine does not publish fiction, nor does it publish work by children. To submit an article send hard copy or disk to The Horn Book, Inc., 56 Roland Street, Suite 200, Boston, MA 02129.

In the upcoming days I will be posting advice re the various idiosyncrasies of our columns, and our likes and dislikes in articles (rule no. 1: no term papers) but in the meantime leave your general questions here.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Still looking ahead

if not so far as Christmas, Claire Gross has compiled a list of starred school stories for all you kids who need to start getting in the mood now.

And on a related note, and for the truly hardcore delayed gratification junkies, I'm pleased to announce the theme of our 2008 special issue: School. Pencils sharpened?

Friday, August 03, 2007

He Knows When You're Asleep at the Wheel, Too

Yep, it's 96 degrees out there but we've started pulling together our "Holiday Books" review section for the November issue. We will have some good books to tell you about there, I promise, but meanwhile I thought I would mention three concepts that might need to go back to Santa's workshop for some retooling:

--celebrating Hanukkah with a dreidel piƱata

--giving the crippled kid magical legs while the rest of the family gets real presents

--a Santa who can't stop farting

The elves are waiting for your call.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

I thought we were over this

But apparently not. Where I think listening to instead of reading a book-club selection might get you in trouble would be if another member challenged you to point out textual evidence for whatever point you were making. When the book under discussion is He's Just Not That Into You, however, maybe that problem doesn't come up.

Jon Scieszka discusses his wife's book club in the September Horn Book, saying that more often than not the book is peripheral to the discussion, which centers more on what's going on in the members' lives. What we used to call a kaffeeklatsch. And that's why guys tend to not like them. We tried one once at the Horn Book--the book was Sapphire's Push--and it was not very successful. I blame the book, though.