Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Holiday Gift Giving Ideas

Now is the time when thoughts turn to giving books as holiday gifts. Last year, I posted at ForeWord Magazine's Shelf Space blog Liz's Tips for Giving (and Receiving) Books. (Shelf Space changes its guest blogger each month; this month it is Jen Robinson.)

While reading Mitali Perkins' post, I've Got The Royalty Statement Blues, one thing jumped out: Mitali wondering about the impact of the release date on sales, and then in comments the discussion turned to one about marketing.

One of the pluses about blogging about books? We aren't confined to release dates of books. Oh, yes, we do blog new releases, and we do get advance copies. And we like it. And it's great to review those books.

But, I believe that one of the strongest things about book blogging is because we are blogging for readers, we blog about books published anytime. So we can bring attention to books at any time. (Gail Gauthier has blogged about this in great detail.)

So, Dear Readers, here is my idea for book giving this year.

Give something not published in 2008.

Give something that you loved, loved, loved, yet, somehow, was overlooked; something that did not get on any of the awards lists, but, in your humble opinion, should have been on those lists.

Any suggestions for titles?

Of course, you all know my love for Ellen Emerson White's books. But technically, one of her books was released this year, so I won't include her. (Notice how I'm including her, anyway? It's my blog. I can do that.)

If you don't mind hunting down used books, my recommendation is to give Norma Johnston books, particularly the Tish Sterling books.

What do you suggest?

Friday, November 21, 2008

Poetry Friday: Hip Hop Speaks to Children

Hip Hop Speaks to Children with CD: A Celebration of Poetry with a Beat (A Poetry Speaks Experience) edited by Nikki Giovanni. Sourcebooks. 2008. Copy supplied by publisher. Sample pages and audio are at the publisher's website.

Poetry Friday roundup is at Holly Cupala's Blog.

Hip Hop Speaks to Children is from the same publisher as 2005's Poetry Speaks to Children (Book & CD) (Read & Hear).

Poetry and lyrics are presented with brightly colored, vibrant, and sometimes haunting illustrations. Many of the selections are also on the enclosed CD; some with music. Most are read by the person who wrote them.

The Good:

Giovanni's introduction reads like poetry: "When humans were beginning to develop our own language, separate from the growls and howls, separate from the buzz and the bird songs, we used rhythm: A sound and a silence. With no silence, the sound is cacophonous. With no sound, the silence is a lonely owl flapping her wings against the midnight sun seeking a careless mouse."

The poets in this book, I knew. But the musicians, not so much. I'm just not a music person. My brother-in-law, on the other hand loves music, especially Hip Hop and Rap. When he saw this on my table, he hounded me until I had finished reading it, listening to the CD, and writing this review.


He wanted it. He wanted to use it to help explain Hip Hop to his daughter and son. And just as I went "ooh ahh" over the index of authors who are poets, he nodded with familiarity at Mos Def (who I knew only as an actor) and Common.

In showing the historical and literary origins of Hip Hop, Giovanni has created a sure fire hit for both music lovers and poetry lovers.

So what is Hip Hop? I came away with more knowledge than I had from a brief listen on the radio or seeing musicians at award shows. It is "bold, boastful and brave." I loved the poems; the illustrations; but most of all, I loved the combination with the audio CD, as the words came alive. I have to confess -- the brother-in-law had to wait an extra couple of weeks for the book, because I was listening to the CD over and over during my commute. I opened my iTunes to download some songs, and will be borrowing some of my brother-in-law's CDs.

I liked the inclusion of both well-known poems (Gwendolyn Brooks' We Real Cool) and ones that are less familiar (Langston Hughes' Harlem Night Song: Come/Let us roam the night together/Singing/I love you).

Giovanni's own work is included, with my current favorite:

Ego Tripping.
I was born in the congo
I walked to the fertile crescent and built the sphinx
I designed a pyramid so tough that a star
that only glows every one hundred years falls
into the center giving divine perfect light
I am bad.
This is a must-own, both in libraries and for personal collections of poetry lovers and music lovers. The holidays are coming up; this would make a perfect gift.

Fun bonus feature:

Video clip, by publisher. Nikki Giovanni speaks about the book:

This book is a gem, but hardly a hidden gem. There have been a ton of great reviews. so I'll just list a few:
Omnivoracious (using this book to teach poetry to children)
Poetry for Children
A Wrung Sponge
A Fuse #8 Production at SLJ
A Year of Reading

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Welcome, Christine!

Christine Marciniak and I have been friends since 4th grade. We had open classrooms. Ah, the joys of experimenting on school children with educational fads. Oops, topic. Christine has been writing for as long as I can remember. And as long as I can remember, I've been reading those drafts and waiting eagerly for her first book to be published. Good news -- Christine's first book was recently acquired! She agreed to sit down and answer some questions about her path to publication; look forward to more interviews as more publication milestones occur. Liz B: Can you tell us a bit about the book? Christine: When Mike Kissed Emma is about, well... about when Mike kissed Emma. Emma has the 'perfect' boyfriend and hopes to play opposite him in supporting roles, in the school musical. She wants to sing a romantic song with him and dance with him. But Emma gets the lead and the leading man is the school loner "Biker Mike". As they get to know each other she realizes that maybe the rumors about him and his past are jut that - rumors - and then...well, you guessed it - Mike kisses her. And suddenly Emma has to figure out if her 'perfect' boyfriend is really so perfect and if maybe there's more to Mike than she ever suspected. Liz B: How did you find your publisher? Christine: I had tried this story with several agents - and one seemed interested, but thought the plot needed to be punched up a bit. I did that and the agent turned it down, saying she thought the story was a bit too old fashioned. A member of my critique group mentioned Wild Rose Press and their new Climbing Rose Line for teens and I decided to submit. Oddly enough my punched up story line was too risque for them and once I toned it down, they accepted it. Liz B: How did you find out they wanted to publish the book? Christine: It was Columbus Day and the kids were home from school and I was checking my e-mail. I saw one from Wild Rose Press and I thought - oh, here it is, the rejection and I steeled myself to open the e-mail. It took about three readings for me to process that they were saying yes! Liz B: What's your next step? Christine: Well, I just got the cover design today - they designed that based on answers to a questionnaire I filled out and on November 21st I expect to get a revision letter. Then I'll have 30 days to make the changes. The book should come out in the spring of 2009. Liz B: It's a great cover; and wow, you'll have a busy holiday season. I look forward to hearing more about your path to publication. Christine blogs at The Simple and the Ordinary and Simply Put.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

YALSA Podcasts

The YALSA blog has a number of podcasts up from the YA Lit Symposium.

I'll highlight a few.

Part I by the kidlitosphere's own Lindsey Dunn (whose Libba Bray Tea Party was highlighted in the Fandom program Carlie and I did), where you can hear me speak. Lindsey does a great job! Stay on for the whole podcast, and you'll hear Tea Cozy's Melissa Rabey speak about the Fandom program.

Part II: Beth Saxton talks to Carlie about the presentation we did.

Part III: Tea Cozy's latest contributor, Melissa Rabey, speaks with a number of people about the Symposium.

Do you see a common theme? Yes, at Tea Cozy, it's all about Tea Cozy.

Library Journal

Library Journal's review of Pop Goes the Library: the Book is in the November 15 issue of the magazine; and it is also available online.

I'm pleased as punch with it: "This entertaining book by the creators of the "Pop Goes the Library" blog is a breath of fresh air for those progressive librarians wanting to secure their library's future by making patron interests the focus of library services" and "an exciting and essential book."

Monday, November 17, 2008

Online Mentions About the Book

Some online mentions of the Book.

Brad Ward at the Blah Blah Blah Blog from NEFLIN (Northeast Florida Library Information Network:) "Really, really good stuff. . . . The authors were nice enough to also put up a wiki that provides links to the resources listed in their book."

Andrew at Librarian Idol says, "it's got some brilliant ideas in it - I highly recommend!" (Librarian Idol also goes on to say some very great stuff about being cool and books and libraries.)

Crossposted at the Pop Goes the Library Book Blog.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

RDR Appeals Lexicon Verdict

The Notice of Appeal has been filed. (Thanks to Carlie for letting me know.)

I haven't read much of the online comments about this, because there really is nothing to comment on, yet.

I will say a few things, though.

RDR has every right to appeal. That's part of the legal system. You believe that the trial judge made a mistake, you have the right to get that mistake fixed.

Now, what one says -- that can be limited. You just cannot yell "do over." Most appeals are based on errors of law -- in other words, saying, "sorry, Judge, but you got the law wrong or interpreted the law wrong." Sometimes, it is based on an error of fact: "sorry, Judge, but your findings of fact were wrong." The latter is rarer, because appeal courts do not want to substitute their own judgment about facts for the trial judge's judgment, under the belief that the person who actually heard the testimony has a better understanding of what was said than the person(s) who read the transcript of the testimony.

So, I really don't want to hear about sore losers, or who is right or wrong, or wastes of money, etc. etc.

Also, the appellate court doesn't give a different decision; rather, they usually send it back to the original judge saying "sorry, you used the wrong law, here is the right one, do it again."

This still doesn't affect you. This is still between the parties. Now, what the appellate court ends up deciding may be controlling -- but only controlling over those courts over which it has jurisdiction. Let's worry about that later.

This is no longer about the Lexicon. It stopped being about the Lexicon once the Stanford Law School Center for Internet and Society got involved. Hell, it's no longer about JKRowling anymore, for that matter. This is CIS and copyright; the Lexicon case happens to be the vehicle that CIS is using. CIS really doesn't care, one way or the other, about the Lexicon itself; what they care about is copyright. So as long as they have a chance to clarify, refine, or even change copyright law, they will argue this case forward.

Who do you want to create laws -- judges or legislators? Personally, I have always been of the opinion that ideally the legislative branch creates the laws and the judges interpret. At what point does "interpretation" become "creation"? Discuss amongst yourself. Discuss further how your attitude changes depending on whether or not you agree with what the judges are doing. My personal belief (and I'm not unique in this) is that CIS is going to use the Lexicon case to change the law of copyright and, accordingly, this case will end up being appealed to the Supreme Court. Part of the reason I'm not behind CIS is I think it is for Congress, not the Supreme Court, to change those laws.

Disclaimer: yes, I used to be a lawyer but I don't practice anymore. All the above are short and sweet versions and explanations and interpretations of things it takes a long time to cover in law school.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Reference & Research Book News

Reference & Research Book News is a quarterly publication that "focuses on reference and scholarly works in the social sciences and the humanities." The November 2008 issue includes my book, Pop Goes the Library. You can check out entry about PGTL at the online version; or, go to the PDF of the full publication. I'm a big nerd -- I love seeing the book's Library of Congress subject classification code!

Separated Sisters: Frankie Landau-Banks and Kiki Strike

One is a short, skinny girl with white hair. The other is a newly-minted willowy beauty. Yet these two girls have much in common. Both offer us a look at just what girls can achieve--results that greatly exceed society's expectations. Both Kiki Strike and Frankie Landau-Banks, from the eponymous books by Kirsten Miller and E. Lockhart, are much more than meets the eye.

Kiki Strike is described as an elf or a leprechaun. Her small stature packs quite a punch, as several evil-doers find out the hard way. Yet it is Kiki's mind that is the greatest weapon. Calculating, insightful, and cunning, Kiki forms the group of girl adventurers known as the Irregulars, leading them on an exploration of a shadow city beneath Manhattan. But when an accident injures one of the Irregulars, Kiki disappears in the aftermath. Two years later, she returns, leading the Irregulars on another mission that will reveal Kiki's secret past.

Frankie Landau-Banks was unnoticeable; known as Bunny Rabbit to her family, she didn't attract attention. Then she became pretty over the course of one summer and saw how beauty can draw the eye. Either way, however, she discovered that a girl doesn't have much power. And for a smart, observant, thoughtful girl like Frankie, this was a hard realization to make. When she finds out that her boyfriend is the member of a secret male-only society at their boarding school, she decides to infiltrate it. Frankie manages to direct the actions of the group, keeping her true identity a secret. Yet when a prank backfires, Frankie finds out what it's like to have everyone know who you are.

Each of these books explore girls as they enter their teen years and start discovering the power they hold. Part of this power is due to their looks, as they begin to become women. But such power is fleeting, and is too easily confused with popularity. True power is that which comes from the strength of your intelligence. Both Kiki and Frankie have minds that let them strategize and plan, solve problems and direct others. Yet the truly amazing thing is that they choose to hide their abilities, preserving the belief in sweet quiet girls. After all, no one expects a girl to be up to any trouble. Both Frankie and Kiki realize this and exploit this fact fully.

Why do these two young women do this, when they could be capable of so much more? It's not just the dangers each character faces in the course of her story that causes her to work in secret. In fact, it's the very fact that the deck is stacked against them that makes them appear to live up to the stereotype. Society's view of young females becomes rather like the chicken-or-the-egg problem: Kiki and Frankie rebel against being consigned to silent, invisible girlhood, yet that ability to be unnoticed leads them to be even more successful. And neither of these girls are about to forgo such an advantage.

For Frankie, she begins to use her brain, knowing that she's outsmarting a group of boys who are expected to become the male elite in this country. Kiki goes even further: to achieve her goal, she finds other girls who have great but untapped strength, and teaches them how to wield this power while appearing to be ordinary young women.

As the news tells us, being taken advantage of is a common problem for females of any age. Women seem to be held to different standards, whether they're managing companies, performing research, or running for political office. It's hard for any female to figure out what is the right course for her. Yet through books, girls and women can discover different ways to use their power. And while we might not be a martial arts master like Kiki or be a brainy beauty like Frankie, these two characters offer a powerful repudiation of the expectation that girls shouldn't cause trouble, act too smart, or contradict those who know better. Because who knows better how to make your way through life than you?

Crossposted to Librarian by Day.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Reviews comma Young Adult

Admittedly, one of these books is adult, and one is more middle grade, but they're all worth reading.

As usual, reviews are posted at Librarilly Blonde.

Watch Me! See Me! Hear Me!

Do you want to not only hear me talk about the Fandom, Fan Life and Participatory Culture presentation that Carlie & I did at the YALSA YA Literature Symposium -- but also see me? Then check out this video at the YALSA Blog.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Another Pop the Book Review!

Book Review: Pop Goes the Library at OPL Plus by Judith A. Siess, editor and publisher of The One-Person Library: A Newsletter for Librarians and Management.

My favorite part? That Sophie and I "have created a wonderful guide to creating a library that will please and inspire your younger users."

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Thoughts on the National Book Awards

I'm a bit late to the party in talking about the nominees for the National Book Award, but here's some thoughts I had in looking over the 2008 nominees for the National Book Award for Young People's Literature.

Does buzz work against a book?

There's been a lot of discussion around The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks when awards are talked about, and I think few people were surprised when it was one of the five nominees. But will that work against it? I can remember several cases where there was pre-award buzz around a book that ended up not winning the big prize. Just when it comes to the Printz Award, for example, I had heard mention of Saving Francesca, Octavian Nothing Vol. 1 The Pox Party, The Book Thief, and The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian as a winner. None of these books won the Printz; two were shut out entirely, not even meriting an honor award. Yet in the same breath, it's not that these books went completely unrecognized. Both The Book Thief and Octavian Nothing merited Printz Honor Awards; Octavian Nothing and Absolutely True Diary were the National Book Award winners in their respective years. It's perhaps too soon to tell if buzz will hurt Frankie Landau-Banks, but I think just getting recognized as a nominee is a validation of the importance of this book.

The esteemed members of the panel

I didn't realize this, but the National Book Award is determined by a panel of authors from the same field. Not just any authors, either--these are major players in the field. The 2008 panel is headed by Daniel Handler, with Holly Black, Angela Johnson, Carolyn Mackler, and Cynthia Voigt. That's some panel! In the past few years, the National Book Award panels have included such authors as Elizabeth Partridge, Pete Hautman, Scott Westerfeld, Linda Sue Park and Patricia McKissack. It's very gratifying to know that not only is this award granted by an author's peers, but that authors are giving back by serving on panels such as these.

Interesting facts

--Apparently, publishers have to submit books for consideration for the National Book Award. While my friends and I have jokingly called the ALA Youth Awards press conference "the Oscars", it could be that the National Book Award's announcement deserves that nickname more.
--In 2008, submissions for Young's People Literature just edged out Fiction as the second-most submitted work. Nonfiction is the big winner in this category.
--I'm very envious of those who live close to New York City and can attend the National Book Award Teen Press Conference. What a wonderful way to publicize and celebrate the National Book Award--not to mention the fact that this event is just for teens!

I Voted.

Walked there (beautiful weather), only one person in front of me.

Monday, November 03, 2008


Blog the Vote is the brainchild of Colleen at Chasing Ray first mentioned Blog the Vote, Gregory K at Gotta Book, and Lee at I'm Here, I'm Queer, What the Hell Do I Read.

Looking to see who else is Blogging the Vote? Go to Chasing Ray. Edited to add this second Chasing Ray link.

When I first read about it, I knew I had to be a part of it. So here goes.


Please, please, please vote tomorrow.

Voting is our opportunity to be heard; to make a difference. Maybe your candidate will win; maybe your candidate will lose. Your vote can make the difference; but even if your candidate loses, your vote counts. Because the winner also needs to know just how many people didn't agree with him or her.

Your vote is your own. No one -- parent, child, spouse, famous person - can tell you how to vote or stop you from voting. No, I mean it. I recently read a "humor" piece at an online site where the husband and wife intend to vote for different candidates. As the child of a mixed marriage myself (stepfather Republican, mother Democrat) I can attest that yes, these marriages happen and last. Anyway, the "humor" was directed at all the ways the husband would help the wife to not vote (not set the alarm clock, schedule a spa day, etc.). Needless to say, I didn't find it amusing.

But think about it -- a vote, a single vote, is so powerful that someone would want to stop you from voting? Someone doesn't want you to vote? Someone is that afraid of one person voting?

Wow. That is telling you just how powerful your one vote is. And why you should take the time to vote.

For some people, this is going to be an easy vote. They are in love with with one candidate or another, one party or another. Yet for others of us, it is not an easy vote. No candidate represents all we want; and, even worse, one candidate may be a mix of what we want -- and don't want. Which is the deciding issue or factor? I know, some people don't "get it" -- that this is a hard decision. I get it. I've had people look at me as if I've lost IQ posts for saying I'm undecided.

Now is the time for you, and me, to make that final decision. DO IT. DECIDE. VOTE.

Pick that issue that is the most important to you. Voting isn't just for those who are true believers; voting is also for those of us who have not found the perfect candidate. Because it is time ... the researching of positions, the reading interviews over and over, the hashing out issues part of the election is now over.

It's time.



Sunday, November 02, 2008

Madam President

Madam President by Lane Smith. Hyperion Books, 2008. Copy supplied by publisher. Picture Book.

The Plot:
A young girl imagines her life as President of the United States.

The Good:
Some of my favorite (fictional) Presidents are women. President Powers. President Roslin (OK, not President of the US. But still.) And now Katy, who not only wants to be President -- she lives her life as if she were President. She's confident.

Katy explains, "A president must tackle press conferences gracefully."

A blackboard says, "oral reports today," while Katy brings her own presidential podium to the front of the room as her teacher and classmates look on. Then she begins, "That's top secret. No comment. I'll get back to you on that. I won't digntify that question with a response. C'mon, Tiffany, get real! No comment. Let me think about that. I know you are, but what am I? Next question. No comment!" The font varies in size, so you can sense Katy's response. And I love the working into it of "I know you are, but what am I?"

Smith's illustrations are engaging. Katy is a mix of girl and President, with her teeth brushing and cat, yet wearing a presidential outfit. (Katy's name is not mentioned -- she is The President, after all -- but you can read it on a note her mother leaves her.)

I have the most fun looking at the background details in pictures like the bedroom. It's not just about Presidents -- it's all US History. Our President is a non-fiction fan. Posters of Susan B. Anthony and Revolutionary War flags, plus a Mr. Potato Head (she sitll is a kid!) and books on Frederick Douglas, Theodore Roosevelt, and Harriet Tubman.

This isn't a wordy book; but it is a picture book for older readers, who will get the references and chuckle at Madam President's press conference.

Madam President Event Kit (PDF, from publisher)
Jen Robinson's Book Page review (with links to other reviews)

Another Review

Another review of Pop Goes the Library: Using Pop Culture to Connect with Your Whole Community,* this time from Ch-Ch-Changing Librarian. In her post Using Pop Culture to Connect With Your Audience, Amy mentions how the book, while of primary interest to public and school libraries, has information of use for academic libraries and librarians.

Are you waiting for a copy from Sophie and me? Check out this post at the Book Blog where all is explained, and yes, they are on their way.

*This links to Amazon, where it is currently out of stock, and fifty cents higher than buying it directly from the publisher. See sidebar for publisher info.