Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Little pitchers

Just back from a busy ALA, and here are a few pictures.

Proud papa Dean Schneider standing next to the poster Lolly designed for his and Robin Smith's "When A Is for X-Box," from our July issue (which I think is the most beautiful one we have ever published):

Newbery-winner Rebecca Stead, her editor Wendy Lamb and her agent Faye Bender dropped by:

I had to pass this display every day and I think it has scarred me forever. Adele Griffin called them "the children of Pompeii":

I spotted two seersucker suits at the Newbery Caldecott banquet and we were at the same table. Zena told me that when this happened once to Ursula Nordstrom and Augusta Baker, Augusta ceded the floor and went back to her room to change. But Laban Carrick Hill and I just posed for a picture:

When I was at National and my flight was rained out, I discovered that my new phone's camera can turn anyone into Arthur Geisert:

More later, including photos from the Five Live Questions series.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Conference swag

Along with my five-question interrogations of seven prize winning authors and illustrators, the Horn Book booth (#2960) will be featuring giveaways of two new posters, one of Jerry Pinkney's cover for our special Awards issue (which itself will be available Monday) and the other of Dean Schneider and Robin Smith's sequel to their classic "Unlucky Arithmetic," "When A Is for Xbox: 26 Ways to Prevent Summer Reading." Come on by!

Flowers in Het Achterhuis?

Jezebel is self-righteously fuming about an allegedly sexy new book about Anne Frank, Sharon Dogar's Annexed, being published in this country in October by Houghton. Sadie, the Jezebel columnist, does not seem to remember Anne's diary very well ("If you've read the original diaries, you'll recall that Anne and Peter's relationship consists of a lot of talking, a growing affection, and a chaste kiss"), which was Twi-lite steamy in its original published version, and even more so in subsequent unexpurgated editions.  More to the point, Sadie hasn't even read Dogar's book but feels free to fulminate against it because it portrays Anne and fellow hider Peter van Pels having sex.

Except--spoiler alert--that it doesn't. Dogar's book, which I'll be reviewing in the September issue of the Magazine, is a daring and intense version of the Anne Frank story told from Peter's point of view. It's quite a tightrope act--while Dogar freely speculates on what Peter may have said and felt and done, she does so while keeping Anne's diary alive, well, and uncontradicted. Unlike Sadie, Dogar clearly read before she wrote.

Monday, June 21, 2010

ALA Washington

Later this week I'll be taking questions and asking them too in the exhibits hall at ALA. Here is the schedule for the Live Five interviews:

Saturday, June 26th: 
1:00 p.m.  Matt Phelan, winner of the Scott O’Dell Award for The Storm in the Barn
4:00 p.m. Tanya Lee Stone, winner of the Sibert Medal for Almost Astronauts: 13 Women Who Dared to Dream

Sunday, June 27th:
11:00 a.m.
 Rebecca Stead, winner of the Newbery Medal for When You Reach Me
1:00 p.m. Libba Bray, winner of the Printz Medal for Going Bovine
2:00 p.m. Charles R. Smith Jr., winner of the Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award for My People
3:00 p.m. Vaunda Micheaux Nelson, winner of the Coretta Scott King Author Award for Bad News for Outlaws: The Remarkable Life of Bass Reeves, Deputy U.S. Marshal

Monday, June 28th:
1:00 p.m.
Jerry Pinkney, winner of the Caldecott Medal for The Lion and the Mouse

The Horn Book booth number is #2960 and the interviews will all take place just across the aisle on the JLG stage. Come early if you want a seat, although each interrogation should not last for more than fifteen minutes or so. Let me know in the comments if you have any good questions for these fine people.

Also, on Monday morning from 11:00AM to noon I will be signing copies of A Family of Readers, my book with Martha Parravano, at the Candlewick booth, #3002.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

We ARE here to judge, but . . .

 . . . not lay blame. Editorial Anonymous has a letter from a reader asking why reviewers don't ever blame the publisher for "inept design and production decisions" that "ruin" a book. While the letter-writer seems to have a particular if unspoken agenda for his or her comment, I was rather more taken aback by some of the comments which expressed concern that an author might be "hurt" by critical comments about aspects of the book over which the author had no control--a bad cover illustration, say.

Reviewers really can't work that way. If the type is too small, if the cover is ugly and/or inaccurate, if there are mispellings, we have to call it like we see it, literally. It can't matter to us who made the mistake. This goes beyond design problems: I remember reading elaborate theories about J.K. Rowling's excessive adverbiage, with people speculating that her editor was "afraid" or indifferent, or that "Jo" was too powerful or out of control. Who knows? Who cares?

What's tricky about pointing out a design or typesetting problem is deciding when it's enough of a problem to mention in a 300-word review. Do we point out that a YA novel has one misspelled word or typo? What about a picture book with a brief text? (I hasten to add that if we have any plans to mention a mistake in a review we always call the publisher, in case there is time to fix it, or we wait for a finished copy to see if they really intended to put that easy reader in 8-point type.) We always go on a case by case basis (a missed hte is one thing, Artic for Arctic in a book about the same is another) but never on the grounds of who is to blame.

And anybody who reviews withe idea of either sparing or flattering authors and/or publishers can't really do the job properly. I know this is an old problem but these days I blame Facebook.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Championed by Children

Mitali Perkins has up a great letter sent on her behalf by a group of second-graders to Barnes and Noble: "we were surprised when we figured out that most of your bookstores in Massachusetts don’t carry her books. Why do you not carry Mitali Perkins’ books in your bookstore?!"

Who knows if they will get an answer? And who knows if they will get a straight answer? One that runs along the lines of "we stock the books that the largest number of our customers expect us to carry. We have no staff to tell people about books, especially books that weren't published this month and are not backed by co-op dollars from publishers. Tell Mitali to write My Indian Grandmother Loves Me as Much as My Other Grandmother Does and get back to us."

Monday, June 14, 2010

All Her Children

SLJ interviews another Zena offspring, Marilyn Kaye. While we both handed her disappointments (Marilyn by writing romances, me by leaving BCCB for Horn Book) I like to think we've by and large done the lady proud.

More more more

than 400 reviews of Spring 2010 books have been added to the Horn Book Guide Online.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

New Notes, Outdoors edition

The June issue of Notes from the Horn Book has just been published and features an interview with Sy Montgomery and reviews of new books devoted to the great outdoors and a few other things.  Also included is the schedule for my "Live Five" interviews with award-winners at ALA in D.C. later this month.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

The 2010 Boston Globe-Horn Book Awards

Here they are:

Fiction: When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead (Wendy Lamb Books)
Honor books: The Dreamer by Pam Muñoz Ryan; illustrated by Peter Sís (Scholastic)
A Conspiracy of Kings by Megan Whalen Turner (Greenwillow)

Nonfiction: Marching for Freedom: Walk Together Children and Don't You Grow Weary by Elizabeth Partridge (Viking)
Honor Books: Anne Frank: Her Life in Words and Pictures by Menno Metselaar and Ruud van der Rol (Roaring Brook/Flash Point)
Smile by Reina Telgemeier (Scholastic/Graphix)

Picture Books: I Know Here by Laurel Croza; illustrated by Matt James (Groundwood)
Honor Books: The Lion and the Mouse by Jerry Pinkney (Little, Brown)
It's a Secret! by John Burningham (Candlewick)

The judges were Martha Parravano of the Horn Book; NYTBR Children's Books editor Julie Just; and novelist Gregory Maguire. The complete announcement can be found here.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

John Green Dream

I usually only inflict my dreams on Richard and coworkers but this one was great. I dreamed last night I was reviewing a new book by John Green, and it was terrific. And so John Green:  it was about this college upperclassman who enlisted an impressionable freshman girl in a plan to expose a college administrator, who was widely considered heinous for reasons I don't remember. The boy had some kind of incriminating paperwork that he was talking the girl into faxing to the school newspaper. WHY couldn't he do it himself? Because the evidence would also in some way destroy the life of another girl, also a freshman, who had rejected the boy's romantic advances in high school. That girl, who looked like the beautiful Sam Stosur (I've been watching the French Open) was a drummer in a band, a free spirit, and all around nice person. I woke up before I finished the book but the plot turned on the two girls becoming friends and together conspiring to put the boy in his place. It was all very Don Giovanni.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

July/August stars

The following books will receive starred reviews in the July/August issue of the Horn Book Magazine (which, if I do say so myself, is going to be among our classics):

Sleepy, Oh So Sleepy by Denise Fleming (Holt)

The Village Garage by G. Brian Karas (Ottaviano/Holt)

Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi (Little, Brown)

Happy Birthday, Sophie Hartley by Stephanie Greene (Clarion)

Butterfly by Sonya Hartnett (Candlewick)

Ling & Ting: Not Exactly the Same! by Grace Lin (Little, Brown)

The Ghosts of Ashbury High by Jaclyn Moriarty (Levine/Scholastic)

Big Nate: In a Class by Himself by Lincoln Peirce (HarperCollins)

The War to End All Wars: World War I by Russell Freedman (Clarion)

Ballet for Martha: Making Appalachian Spring by Jan Greenberg and Sandra Jordan; illus. by Brian Floca (Porter/Flash Point/Roaring Brook)

Kakapo Rescue: Saving the World’s Strangest Parrot [Scientists in the Field] by Sy Montgomery; photos by Nic Bishop (Houghton)