Friday, May 28, 2010


(Photo by SLJ's Rocco Staino)

I had a great time. SLJ's Day of Dialog on Tuesday was packed (both the schedule and attendance) and while I don't think our panel on the difference between graphic novels and picture books actually came up with any answers, we had a good time exploring the question. I also heard most of the steampunk panel--it made me wish the telectroscope was still here. Later I went over to the Egmont offices to meet Elizabeth, and I got to hear and see a fascinating discussion re cover choices for a paperback reprint of one of their novels. My one contribution was "Boys won't touch that."  Tuesday night, after a claustrophobic half-hour at the Association of Children's Booksellers reception and art auction (unfortunately, it was too crowded to look at the art), E and I spent the evening watching American Idol and having a Twitchat (Tweetchat?) about children's book reviews. Greg Pincus has the transcript up here.

On Wednesday, I signed ARCs of A Family of Readers at the Candlewick booth, where I actually had a line and we even ran out of copies. Before I started feeling too glamorous, I remembered that the ARCs were, you know, free. But people seemed enthusiastic about the book and Candlewick was very nice to me all around.

Before departing on the Limoliner Thursday afternoon, clutching my newly purchased copy of The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest, I had a nice visit with Virginia Duncan and Steve Geck at Greenwillow. They are working on this really neat iPhone app based on Donald Crews's Freight Train. Pull the levers! Toot the horn! Feed the animals! It has the same sleek look of the book, now more than thirty years old itself but not at all betraying its age. I suggested they follow it up with On Market Street--lots to push and pull and juggle and jiggle there.

Okay, back to the adventures of Lisbeth. Everybody, have a great weekend.

Friday, May 21, 2010


The last time I was at BEA it was called ABA and I had just started working here. What I remember most, along with the glitz and giveaways that made ALA look like a sidewalk sale, was one renowned (his word) author of joke books coming over to angrily berate me for the fact that  he had never been reviewed in the Horn Book despite the fact that his books had sold in the tens of thousands. Why are publicly funny people so frequently privately bitter? And why is my memory so good for the smallest of slights?

In any event I'll be there next Wednesday, walking around with the Horn Book's own (M)ad man Al Berman and signing ARCs of A Family of Readers: The Book Lover's Guide to Children's and Young Adult Literature by Martha and me. Candlewick booth #2759 in the Javits Center, 1:00 to 2:00 PM. And speaking of private bitterness, the last time I signed books (Hearing Us Out) it was at TLA and freaking Jon & Lane were signing Math Curse right next to me. Phyllis Naylor came by and bought two copies out of pity.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

What's on your summer reading list?

Here's ours.  I'm getting a jump on the season with War and Remembrance, just perfect for a lazy rainy afternoon sitting on the porch of the old Cape Cod cottage I do not possess. In cleaning out the basement this weekend, I also found my forty-year-old copy of Nicholas and Alexandra, which I devoured one junior-high summer. I wonder if it would hold up to rereading?

Monday, May 17, 2010

Grief counselors were at the scene this weekend

when we hosted Buster's old friend Typhoon. Really, couldn't you tell him anything?

Thursday, May 13, 2010

2010 Gryphon Award

Okay, this is not new news, as I spaced the email from the CCB when I got it a few months ago, but I still want to pass the word about the Gryphon Award, given by the University of Illinois's GSLIS/Center for Children's Books. The 2010 award goes to "the author of an outstanding English language work of fiction or non-fiction for which the primary audience is children in kindergarten through fourth grade," and this year's winner(s) are James Sturm, Andrew Arnold, and Alexis Frederick-Frost for Adventures in Cartooning, published in 2009 by Center for Cartoon Studies / First Second/ Roaring Brook. More information about the award and this year's three honor books can be found here.

I like this award not only because of my long association with and continuing respect for BCCB but because books for younger children need all the help they can get. Those people relying on YA to keep the publishing industry and youth librarianship going had better mind that, as a population bump, those readers are aging out. What will you do then?

Calling out the Twi-moms

Personally, I'm Team DCS Foyle, but you know who you are.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

New Notes, summer's coming

The new issue of Notes from the Horn Book is out, with Laura Vaccaro (look at the photo; you can totally see they're related) Seeger at the beach; graduation gifts, concept books, new YA novels, etc. etc.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Congrats to Siobhán!

Via childlit, I have learned that Siobhán Parkinson has been named Ireland's first laureate for children's literature. Read her bristling article on the Famine in children's books to clear the faery dew from yer head.

Euwwww, used e-books

Amazon's practice of keeping track of what you underline is not only creepy, it's disgusting. There I was, happily beginning Herman Wouk's The Winds of War on my iPod Touch's Kindle reader (all in all a nifty piece of software) when I came upon this:

To hear Rhoda Henry's daily chatter, her life passed in combat with an incompetent world and a malignant climate. It was only female talk, and not in the least uncommon. But talk, not sex, constitutes most of the intercourse between a man and his wife. Henry detested idle whining. More and more, silence was the response he had come to use. It dampened the noise.

I clicked the underlined portion in horror, and up popped a balloon which read

3 other people highlighted this portion of the book

Popular Highlights can be turned off and on by going to the Info menu in the bottom right corner of the Home screen.
While I'm GRATEFUL, of course, that this feature can be turned off, I still feel like a haberdashery offered me a choice in shorts, dirty or clean. Really, who needs to know that three bozos felt the need to complain about their wives via sticking a digital "how true!" in their Herman Wouk?  As the immortal Mrs. Harry Welsch magnificently snapped, "I don't even know who you are." And what do they mean, "other people?" I'm not touching that line or any other.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Monday Diary

Anita Lobel was great and glamorous for her Zena Sutherland Lecture last Friday night in Chicago, and we will be bringing you that speech in an upcoming issue. Thank goodness for our full-color printing as Anita Lobel paints the most beautiful colors I know and Lolly should be in pig(ment) heaven choosing illustrations. Thanks again to Greenwillow Books for supporting Anita's appearance in Chicago and to executive editor Steve Geck for coming along. And don't miss next year's lecture on May 6th, 2011, at the Harold Washington Library in Chicago, where the lecturer will be Mo Willems.

I see from blog-browsing and from Twitter that Jennifer Armstrong's children's-book-based argument for vegetarianism is getting a lot of response; The Tea Cozy has rounded some of them up. Thanks, Liz! I'm hoping that we can soon swipe some technological expertise from our new sister and make it possible for people to comment right where the article lives.

Now I'm deeply into planning the July awards issue (I think you all are going to love it), BEA (where I'll be moderating a panel for SLJ's Day of Dialog) and ALA, for which I'm currently lining up the Live Five interviews--Jerry Pinkney, Rebecca Stead and Libba Bray are already scheduled. More to come.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Food and Art

Tomorrow's Sutherland Lecturer tells a story. And I know she has many more to tell, so come on down to the Harold Washington Library in Chicago tomorrow night to hear them.

Book plot #2

I offer this one to Andrew Clements. Or the next Andrew Clements. The protagonist would be this guy's grandson. Ron Koertge can have it, if you make it this guy's only grandson, and he's blind.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Why isn't there a license to bear children?

Dan Gutman's analysis of a not-a-fan letter reminds me of the odd irony that non-readers ascribe to books a degree of power that actual readers can only wish books had.

(On a related note, one of our reviewers let us know that "ugly" is now a no-no word. That's stupid. See what I did?)

Monday, May 03, 2010

May/June Magazine

The new issue of the Horn Book Magazine is out, and selected articles are up on our website, including "YA: Why So Big and Stupid?" and "Meat Is Murder." I paraphrase.