Wednesday, April 27, 2011


I'm always trying to decide just what kind of sister we are to School Library Journal. Are we like Elizabeth and Jessica? Beezus and Ramona? Louise and Caroline Bradshaw? Or, eep, The Silent Twins?

In any event, we are going to be totally copying Li'l Sis this fall as we embark on a companion to SLJ's Heavy Medal blog, which runs throughout the fall and early winter, parsing the rules and possibilities for the Newbery Medal. Our blog, to be helmed by Horn Book designer Lolly Robinson and Magazine reviewer Robin Smith, will focus on the Caldecott:  what might win? what can win? what should win?

More details will be forthcoming but this blog needs a NAME. Put your suggestions in the comments; the winner--if there is one--will receive a signed and inscribed copy of A Family of Readers.

Monday, April 25, 2011

I hope the book is as good as its cover

Coming this October from Akashic Books.

Library School of the Air

On US Air earlier this month, I ran across a brief article in the in-flight magazine that referenced this study, which finds a positive correlation between physical proximity of research co-authors and citations to their work. (I'm SURE there is a more graceful and scientific way to put this.) The news-you-can-use the magazine was inferring from this was that in-person cooperation resulted in a better product than something created via long-distance collaboration.

I have no idea how true this might be but I did keep thinking of it on my travels, where I kept running into MLS students in distance education programs, where the only meetings between faculty and students, or students and each other, were via the web. I have no experience with such programs and I'm wondering what you all think. Are they as good, better, or just less expensive and more convenient than bricks-and-mortar schools? Feel free to opine about the general usefulness of library education generally, but be warned that any whining about how "it's just a union card" might get you mocked.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Live Five early warning

I've been scheduling our Live Five Questions series for ALA in June, and I'm happy to tell you that the winners of the Newbery, Caldecott, Coretta Scott King, Wilder, Sibert and Printz awards will all be coming by the Horn Book booth to submit to my ruthless interrogations. I'll put the schedule up next month. Hope to see you there!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Poetry plug

TWU professor Sylvia Vardell and poet Janet Wong have collaborated to bring us PoetryTagTime, an ebook compilation of new poems for children. With Joyce Sidman, X.J Kennedy, and Jane Yolen among the thirty poets included, the organizing principle of the book is neat, with each poet "tagging" the next to write a poem which in some way links to his or her own. Fun and cheap: 99¢! The poems are light and lively, and I'm glad to report that the line-breaks remain sacrosanct no matter how you mess with the font size. Available for Kindle and Nook.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Yes, another time-travel post

Has anyone else seen Source Code yet? The ending reminded me of Tom's Midnight Garden (that cool thing with the skates) although I don't think it completely held together. Post any theories in the comments and don't hold back on spoilers. Also feel free to speculate on the wonderful Vera Farmiga's resemblance to Pam on The Office.

Speaking of Tom, when I was at TLA last week Betty Carter reported on the same phenomenon I've noticed: grad students today hate the book. Why is that?

Thursday, April 14, 2011

I blame Kate DiCamillo

for the fact that her fellow Newbery Medalists Lois Lowry, Cynthia Voigt, and Richard Peck all have new middle-grade novels about talking mice.

P.S. Now I'm remembering Susan Dove Lempke's story about this snooty mom coming in after Kate's Newbery was announced, and requesting "The Tale of Day-Pehrr-Rehhrrr." (I know my phonetic fake French is bad but so was hers.)

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Have You Seen This Man?

I love this picture. At the Hattieburg festival, Tom Barron told the story of how he finally met Madeleine L'Engle (which meeting was both forestalled and engendered through a cruel, cruel joke) and what an inspiration A Wrinkle in Time had been to him. When I was out running this afternoon, I came upon a stretch along Leverett Pond which was busy with people. I had already taken off my headphones to tell a couple that their standard poodle was so black and curly and perfectly still that I was within five feet of him before I knew whether I was looking at his face or the back of his head. So I was paying attention. And then I saw no one around me until I was passing a bench where, suddenly it seemed, a man was sitting reading the paper. I was startled and almost bumped into him. Was he a time traveler, was there a glitch in the Matrix? Or did his cloak of invisibility suddenly fail him? He was not wearing a yellow suit.

Southern Misschief

Back from Hattiesburg, off to Austin, where I'll be seeing many of the same people it seems. Those Hattiesburgers really know how to keep a speaker happy, I must say. Eric Tribunella, prof. in the English department, picked me up, drove me around, held my hand and gave me permission to have seconds of the monster pecan cobbler they served for dessert one night. The unflappable Karen Rowell ran everything with a light touch, and Ellen Ruffin of the deGrummond Collection gave us a great backstage tour, although I was little alarmed when she told us proudly about the new fire-extinguishment program, which would suck all of the oxygen out of the archive wherein we were standing in eight seconds.

I won't play favorites among my fellow speakers as they all probably now have more on me than I really should have allowed them. But I can give props to storyteller Carmen Agra Deedy because we didn't get more than a hi-nice-to-meet-you before she took to the podium to tell a hilarious story about her sixth-grade self and a fire alarm. Carmen was there to accept the 2011 Coleen Salley Storytelling Award, and I must say Coleen's spirit was everywhere those three days. When I recollected drinking bourbon with Coleen the last time I was at the Festival in 1998, somebody told me "you must have been off campus; do you know what we had to do just to get beer and wine in here?" While my imbibing this time was limited to good old Co'cola, I had a wonderful time. And did you know that the stately, sultry lawns of Southern Miss (no period, Eric informed me) house feral cats? We saw some hunting at dusk.

I got some articles out of it, too. deGrummond Medalist T.A. Barron (who told a tragicomic tale about how he met Madeleine L'Engle) is going to write about the necessity of making the Hero's Journey an economical one (i.e., unpadded) and Ellen Ruffin is going to work with Our Martha on something to commemorate next year's fiftieth anniversary of The Snowy Day. My Keats Lecture, about what Harry Potter did for/to children's trade hardcover publishing in this country, will also show up sometime.

But now--laundry! Packing!  Hope to see some of you at TLA.

Monday, April 04, 2011

Can we still say Big Kahuna?

Sounds like Chief Illiniwek in a different headdress to me, but in any case, Richard Peck is as worthy as anyone of the title and he has spoken. Is there a teensy jab in his discussion of the virtues of Keeper or am I reading that in? Gotta watch those smooth talkers.

Friday, April 01, 2011

April Stars

A list of the books that will receive starred reviews in the April issue of the Horn Book Magazine can be found over on Out of the Box.