Monday, July 19, 2010

Something New To Remember

Something has been in the works here at Tea Cozy and I can finally share it with you all.

This blog is moving!

And not just moving, because...

The new URL is, drumroll please: http://blog.schoollibraryjournal.com/teacozy

Yes, Tea Cozy is now a School Library Journal blog, along with A Fuse #8 Production, Bowllan's Blog, Good Comics for Kids, Heavy Medal: A Mock Newbery Blog, Neverending Search, Nonfiction Matters, and Practically Paradise.

What does it mean?

For the most part, it's same blog, still me, just at a new location. I will be concentrating more on young adult books, ages twelve and up, and less on picture books and books for younger readers.

The new RSS for Bloglines and Google Reader: http://blog.schoollibraryjournal.com/teacozy/feed/

Today is my first post at the new place, please stop on by to say hello!



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© Elizabeth Burns of A Chair, A Fireplace & A Tea Cozy

Monday, July 12, 2010

Booklist: Everyone's A Critic

One of the programs I wasn't able to attend at ALA was Booklist's Everyone's a Critic: The Future of Book Reviewing program, with Jennifer Hubert Swan of Reading Rants, along with Ron Charles of The Washington Post Book World, Otis Chandler of Good Reads and Jon Fine of Amazon.

Jen has been doing online book reviewing (what we call book blogging) since 1998.

Yes. 1998.

The program is available to listen to at Booklist online, along with the PowerPoint and handout of the panelist's trusted review sources.* Who is one of Jen's review sources? ME. I am so amazed because Jen is the Original Rock Star of online book reviews so, yes, WOW. Thank you, Jen!

This panel talks about traditional print reviewing as well as blogging. Good Reads, Amazon reviews, etc are also discussed. So go and listen!

*Which I have had trouble printing out. Any suggestions?




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© Elizabeth Burns of A Chair, A Fireplace & A Tea Cozy

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Common Sense Transparency

Over at School Library Journal, Brian Kenney's latest editorial is Fear Factor: Kids' Lit Style, about Common Sense Media.

As you may recall, back in February I wrote about Common Sense Media in the context of their reviews being used at Barnes & Noble, called No We Don't All Agree. Many other bloggers and writers also wrote about it. Publishers Weekly did a story, called Common Sense raises issues at B&N.

At the time, I wrote: "If a parent wants the type of detailed "how many f*cks?" "is there kissing with tongue" "is it blasphemous" type of review, fine. Great! I even think CommonSenseMedia is a great resource for us readers who don't count the number of times a kid talks back to an adult, but have patrons who want to know. . . . Yes, it is biased; read some book reviews of books you have read, and you'll see this is not objective or factual. Which is fine, because some people want this. For example, in writing about The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate, drinking and parental obedience is highlighted . . . . So, for those parents whose concern is drinking regularly? And being a dutiful child? This website is for them."

Kenney says, "Well, when it comes to book reviews, it turns out there's plenty not to love. In fact, its book reviews are frightfully inept and tremendously dangerous." and then continues, "For Common Sense's reviewers, children's literature is just one big minefield of scary topics, and their job is to comb through books for any offending passages. The message is clear: based on narrow criteria, some material is problematic, children need to be protected from it, and it's the job of teachers and parents to help kids avoid questionable content. The offending incidents are presented without context, while the overall message, intent, and literary quality of a book are rarely addressed. Book after book, Common Sense reviewers harp on the negative while the positive aspects of reading broadly--including tackling books that are challenging--are never addressed."

Alas, I cannot comment at SLJ and I really, really, want to.

I decided to revisit Common Sense Media and Barnes and Noble.

My new thoughts; and please, if I've made a mistake, give me a link and I'll edit and revise.

Common Sense Media reviews are no longer available at Barnes & Noble's website. The original press releases, the original pages that highlighted the partnership, exist, but I couldn't find a children's or teen book that provided the Common Sense Media review. I don't order books from Barnes & Noble; anyone have any idea when this happened?

Judy Blume's books are no longer reviewed at Common Sense Media. How Blume's books were reviewed was one of the issues raised by Salon and Meg Cabot. Now? Nothing at Common Sense Media. It's as if the books were never reviewed there at all. I did manage to find a "kids review" section about ARE YOU THERE GOD, but when I tried to get to the original review I was told it's protected and I had to join to see it.

Common Sense Media has no transparency about the rules and procedures its reviewers are to follow, or how to use its rating system. The best I could find was a very broad "how to understand our ratings."

And the last one is why I'm changing my mind about Common Sense Media and leaning more towards Kenney's concerns. Because it's impossible to find, flat out, their bias for a parent to make an informed decision about what slant Common Sense Media uses. A scattered number of reviews leads me to conclude that unless a book fits a particular, narrow profile (obedient children, traditional gender roles, proper religious values) it will get more criticism. Yet I cannot find anywhere on Common Sense Media to reveal that to parents.

Example one: Octavian Nothing Vol. II and Bloodline. Common Sense Media says Octavian is a "brilliant, brutally violent novel for mature readers only" yet totally omits from the review the "the good stuff" part of the review. Message: nothing good here! Also watch out for the bad messages, which are (emphasis added): "Plenty of racism and despicable acts and attitudes toward African Americans. Speculation about the inherently evil nature of man, as well as wit about the nature of God that some might consider blasphemous." So a book whose entire meaning is "racism is wrong" is a bad message in that it shows the racism that is wrong. Plus, uh oh, blasphemy!

Now, Bloodline. Common Sense Media includes "the good stuff" for this tale of "Dark ages adventure a draw even for history-phobic teens". Unlike Octavian Nothing, this book is educational because (again, my emphasis added): "Although much written about the early dark ages must be conjecture, Moran has done extensive research that reveals much about day to day life in the seventh century and readers will learn much about the time and the spread of Christianity." What do parents need to know? "This is historic fiction at a very high level that gives a marvelous introduction to the rise of Christianity, the pagans' reaction to the notion of one God, and daily life in the dark ages." And what types of things should families discuss? "Families can talk about the rise of Christianity and how it spread throughout the world. What were the other world religions in the 7th century, and how many of them are still practiced?" Now, readers of this blog know that I love a book that portrays religion positively; I love historical fiction; I want to read this book. But why such a heavy emphasis on Christianity on a secular website? Especially when the professional reviews, as shown at Barnes and Noble, do not emphasize that aspect, leaving me to wonder just how important that aspect of the story is to the average reader?

Example Two: Calpurnia Tate, not a good role model. Calpurnia gets a ranking of only 2 out of 5 for "role model." Why? "Calpurnia is tomboyish, dislikes sewing and cooking, but mostly dislikes being indoors. She recognizes the injustice and points it out." Can someone explain this rating system, as to why that is not a 5 out of 5 in any way, shape, or form, other than she is operating outside of typical gender roles so gets a lesser ranking?

Example Three: Charles and Emma don't inspire. On messages in this book: "This biography probably won't inspire any young readers to become scientists, although it does glorify the life of the mind; nor is it particularly inspirational to those of religious faith. It may inspire some readers to be kind and attentive parents". Yes, let's point out that it won't inspire faith and ignore the message of how two people with opposing views of religion led a happy, loving life. And I still don't understand the role models ranking, as Charles and Emma, like Calpurnia , received only 2 out of 5 for being this type of role model: "The relationship between Charles and Emma, both with competing belief systems, reveals a partnership based on love rather than a union based on similar beliefs and conformity to expectations. They are both devoted parents". Since 2 out of 5 usually isn't a good ranking, I can assume this description means "not good role models." Except I don't read it that way. I think that is a 5 out of 5 role model!

My conclusion?

Admittedly, this is only a handful of reviews. And yes, some parents do want a Common Sense Media type of "tell us the bad stuff." My question now is Common Sense Media's lack of transparency about how reviews are done and the standards and training its reviewers follow. There are parents whose questions are about blasphemy, how a religion is portrayed, and traditional gender role models. If those parents are Common Sense Media's primary audience, shouldn't that be clearer to the average person?

As Kenney at SLJ points out, are these full reviews or ones that are quick to point out the "bad" without pointing out the "good"?

What standards are being used?

EDITED TO ADD: Kenney links to this letter sent by NCAC to Common Sense Media about its issues with how CSM treats books. The current review of Chains is significantly different from the one described in the letter and is marked as edited at a date later than that letter. Are You There, God, It's Me Margaret and Beloved, both mentioned in the letter, no longer appear at the CSM site. Does anyone have a link to CSM's official response to this letter?



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© Elizabeth Burns of A Chair, A Fireplace & A Tea Cozy

Friday, July 09, 2010

Kidlitcon 2010

Why, yes, it is July and in the 90s, so of course a blogger's thoughts turn to October, the cool climate of Minneapolis and OMG it's the KIDLITCON 2010!!!!!

Ahem.

As you may (or may not) know, the Kidlitcon AKA Children's and Young Adult Book Bloggers Convention is entering it's fourth year.

It began as a "wouldn't it be great if we could meet in person over a potluck dinner in Chicago" in 2007. Let me tell you, when I got on that plane for the first conference, part of me wondered if I'd be met by serial killers. Instead, I was met by awesome book bloggers, who eat, breath, and drink books.

Anyway, here is information and resources:

When: Saturday, October 23, 2010

Where: Minneapolis; hotel deals are still being finalized but the date and time are ON.

Note to self: make reservations ASAP. My plan is to fly in Friday morning and stay until Monday, because I have the time and want to have time to just hang out with everyone. But, since the conference is only one day, and a Saturday, it is possible to attend and not take any time off from work.

Have a great idea for a presentation? Here is the call for submissions for program ideas.

Here is the Blog: Kidlitcon 2010

The Kidlitcon floats across the country, in the hopes that eventually, one will be close enough to book bloggers that they can attend it locally. Individual bloggers host and organize it, which is a helluva lot of work, and which means that location also depends on local volunteers. It's a mix of authors and bloggers; this time around, the hosts are bloggers who are also in the publishing industry: Brian Farrey (hey, can we do something Whedon?), Andrew Karre, and Ben Barnhart.

More details, from the blog:

The rough schedule calls for a wine and cheese reception on the night of Friday the 22nd, a day of workshops and panels on the 23rd, followed by a closing conference dinner in the evening.

We're still working out the details of cost for the conference and hotel; we hope to have all the particulars very soon. Our goal is to make the cost comparable to past conferences. Once we've finished getting bids, we'll post registration information. BUT, if you send an e-mail right now to kidlitcon2010@gmail.com with the subject line "Intent to Register," you will receive $5.00 off the cost of registration.


Follow us on Twitter here: www.twitter.com/kidlitcon2010
And here's the Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Kidlitcon-2010/137299689614524?ref=ts


My posts about Kidlitcon 2009. I couldn't attend 2008; and 2007.


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© Elizabeth Burns of A Chair, A Fireplace & A Tea Cozy

Summer, and the Reading is Easy

Believe it or not, I do read grown up books!

I am putting together a list of "what to read" this summer.

Two titles already on the list: Denial: A Memoir of Terror by Jessica Stern and Confessions of a Prairie Bitch: How I Survived Nellie Oleson and Learned to Love Being Hated by Alison Arngrim.

The following suggestions were made by friends on Twitter:

Beginner's Greek: A Novel by James Collins

The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie: A Flavia de Luce Mystery by Alan Bradley

Cazalet Chronicles by Elizabeth Jane Howard

Capital of the Mind: How Edinburgh Changed the World by James Buchan

Case Histories: A Novel (the Jackson Brodie series) by Kate Atkinson

Any other suggestions? For grown up books, in no particular order (and no, they don't have to be new) my preferences for summer reading are: history; mystery; family saga.







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© Elizabeth Burns of A Chair, A Fireplace & A Tea Cozy

Thursday, July 08, 2010

ALA 2010: Laura's Life

One of my favorite things about going to conferences is meeting other bloggers.

As you know, I am on the Schneider Family Book Award Committee. That is how I found out about Laura Rodgers of the blog Laura's Life; here are some of the awesome and touching things Laura said about this Award: "I am in LOVE with this award because these books are great books AND they talk about disability appropriately; as a kid growing up with a disability I like to see books where the characters look like me and I get really annoyed when characters with disability are talked about using outdated and wrong language. The Schneider Family Books are great and I hope having this award improves how all authors, illustrators, editors, and publishers include disability."

Who is Laura? From her blog, "I am a 4th grader at Stonegate Elementary School in Zionsville, Indiana, and live "in the middle of nowhere", rural Indiana. Several years ago as a second grader I decided to read all the Newbery Medal winners before I got to middle school. For me middle school starts in 5th grade. I became interested in this goal when my mother told me about a Newbery Club her elementary school had. After I set my goal I realized that it was way easier when my mom did it (there were fewer books and middle school did not start until 7th grade for her). As it turns out I reached my goal with time to spare. You can read more about me at: http://lauramitolife.blogspot.com/2010/01/more-about-me.html "

Yes, Laura is ten and has read all the Newberys. And is reading the new books to figure out what will be next year's pick. And has also decided to read thru the Schneider Family Book Awards. And another thing - part of the reason Laura is amazing? Her parents and their support. They took their family vacation to make it into an ALA trip for Laura. Her mother was at ALA with her, and pretty much said Laura selects the books she wants to read, I sometimes read them with her, why would I tell her not to read something? Laura's most recent reading? Jerk, California by Jonathan Friesen.

Anyway, thanks to the Schneider Family Book Awards, I got to meet Laura and say "hi".

Here is Laura's video interview from ALA:




Wait, you want to know if I've read all the Newberys? I got as far as The Story of Mankind and gave up. Laura had the right idea -- she saved it for the last book read!

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© Elizabeth Burns of A Chair, A Fireplace & A Tea Cozy

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

ALA 2010: Children's and Young Adult Book Blogs

Children’s and YA Book Blogs: Enhancing Library Services.
Sunday, June 27, 2010
8 a.m – 10 a.m.

I presented with Travis from 100 Scope Notes and Pam from MotherReader. Despite competing popular programming, such as the YALSA “speed dating with authors” coffee klatch, as well as an 8:00 a.m. start date, 130 people attended this panel on using book blogs to assist in library services such as collection development, readers advisory, and programming.

The PowerPoint, should you want to look at it, is available at SlideShare at http://www.slideshare.net/eaburns/ala-presentation

Travis has a terrific video at his website; and Pam also reports on ALA at her blog. The Photo is from Mitali Perkins. (Thanks Mitali who doesn't know I borrowed it...well, she knows now.)

Blogs mentioned in the PowerPoint, in order they were initially mentioned. All were accessed and live as of June 2010; I added a couple of updated URLs were appropriate.

Elizabeth Burns, A Chair, A Fireplace & A Tea Cozy, http://yzocaet.blogspot.com/

Pam Coughlan, MotherReader, http://www.motherreader.com/

Travis Jonker, 100 Scope Notes, http://100scopenotes.com/

Melissa Wiley, Here in the Bonny Glen, http://melissawiley.typepad.com/bonnyglen currently blogs at http://melissawiley.com/blog

Cybils, http://dadtalk.typepad.com/cybils and http://www.cybils.com/

Robin Brande, http://www.robinbrande.com/

Annual Kidlitosphere Conference, www.kidlitosphere.org/kidlitcon and information about the October 2010 Conference is at http://kidlitcon2010.blogspot.com/

Kidlitosphere Central, http://www.kidlitosphere.org/

A Fuse # 8 Production at School Library Journal, http://blog.schoollibraryjournal.com/afuse8production

Kids Lit, http://kidslit.menashalibrary.org/

American Indians in Children’s Literature, http://americanindiansinchildrensliterature.blogspot.com/
Charlotte’s Library, http://charlotteslibrary.blogspot.com/

From the Mixed Up Files . . . of Middle Grade Authors, http://www.fromthemixedupfiles.com/

Little Willow, http://slayground.livejournal.com/

Scrub-a-Dub-Tub, http://childrens-literacy.com/

Color Online, http://coloronline.blogspot.com/

Chasing Ray, http://www.chasingray.com/

Steph Su Reads, http://stephsureads.blogspot.com/

Small Beer Press, http://smallbeerpress.com/

TLC Book Tours, http://tlcbooktours.com/

Cynthia Leitich Smith at Cynsations, http://cynthialeitichsmith.blogspot.com/

Reading in Color, http://blackteensread2.blogspot.com/

GalleySmith, http://www.galleysmith.com/

Librarian By Day, http://librarianbyday.blogspot.com/

POC Reading Challenge, http://pocreading.blogspot.com/

The Story Siren, http://www.thestorysiren.com/

School celebrates Lincoln's 200th birthday with presidential impersonator, Web cast, Grand Rapids Press February 2009, www.mlive.com/news/grand-rapids/index.ssf/2009/02/school_celebrates_lincolns_200.html

Bookends at Booklist Online, http://bookends.booklistonline.com/

Good Comics for Kids at School Library Journal, http://blog.schoollibraryjournal.com/goodcomicsforkids

Shelf Talker at Publishers Weekly, http://blogs.publishersweekly.com/blogs/shelftalker

Chicken Spaghetti, http://www.chickenspaghetti.typepad.com/

Hi Miss Julie!, http://himissjulie.com/

Heavy Medal: A Mock Newbery Blog at School Library Journal, http://blog.schoollibraryjournal.com/heavymedal

Collecting Children’s Books, http://collectingchildrensbooks.blogspot.com/

The Reading Zone, http://thereadingzone.wordpress.com/

Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast, http://blaine.org/sevenimpossiblethings


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© Elizabeth Burns of A Chair, A Fireplace & A Tea Cozy

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Katie Davis & Her ALA Question

Katie Davis of Book Burps about Books created an ALA 10 video that asks authors, illustrators, publishing folk and a blogger or two the question: "If you could work for any character in children’s literature, who would you work for and what would be your job be?"

I, totally unprepared for the question, could come up with only one answer.

While Fuse #8 figured out how to embed it, I could not. So click thru to watch the video.

Yes, I'd be the equivalent of a monster hunting redshirt, dead in the first ten pages, I'm sure. But oh, what a ten pages they would be!

Go, Team Monstrumologist!



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© Elizabeth Burns of A Chair, A Fireplace & A Tea Cozy

Monday, July 05, 2010

Nibbles: A Green Tale

Nibbles: A Green Tale by Charlotte Middleton. Marshall Cavendish. 2010. Copy supplied by publisher.

The Plot: The guinea pigs love to eat dandelion leaves. They love them so much no more are left. Hungry Nibbles finds the last dandelion growing outside his window. What is a guinea pig to do?

The Good: A guinea pig saves the day, I mean the dandelion! Nibbles goes to the library, reads up on dandelion care, and then spreads the dandelion seeds around town to restart the dandelions.

Nibbles explains to young children about limited resources and how to care for them. Nibbles doesn't give up eating dandelions; he just recognizes that replacements must be grown to balance all that are eaten.

While Nibbles will work for schools and story times about conservation, ecology and gardening, it's not a didactic message book. Told in bright and cheerful pictures, Nibbles has a dilemma (loss of his favorite) food and achieves both long and short term solutions that make sense.

What else? As is usual with animals in picture books, the guinea pigs stand in for children, playing soccer, wearing clothes, and dreading the dandelion replacement -- cabbage!


Amazon Affiliate. If you click from here to Amazon and buy something, I receive a percentage of the purchase price.

© Elizabeth Burns of A Chair, A Fireplace & A Tea Cozy

Saturday, July 03, 2010

Children's Literature on NPR

Monica Edinger (Educating Alice), Esme Raji Codell (Planet Esme website and blog) and Pete Cowdin (Reading Reptile) were on On Point Radio on NPR talking about summer books for kids and teens!

Highlights for me included:

acknowledging how the economy has impacted bookstores;

a shout out to the Kidlitosphere Central website at www.kidlitosphere.com as a resource to find children's and young adult book blogs;

ALA and bloggers at ALA, including "new ones all the time";

and book lists. I'll let you click through, below, to see just how great those lists are.

There was also talk about reading other than books, and reluctant readers, and, well, A LOT of food for thought.

For example, are certain titles good literature or guilty pleasure? Does it hurt children's literature and cause differences in the market here in the US and in Europe?

I put aside time during Saturday morning with my coffee to sit back and listen. Which for me meant sometimes agreeing, sometimes disagreeing and always enjoying the show!

Listen to it yourself at On Point at NPR, and read the book lists.

Monica blogs about the experience. New York Times book reviewer, now on NPR, perhaps Oprah is Monica's next step!



Amazon Affiliate. If you click from here to Amazon and buy something, I receive a percentage of the purchase price.

© Elizabeth Burns of A Chair, A Fireplace & A Tea Cozy

Friday, July 02, 2010

ALA 2010: Promoting Teen Reading with Web 2.0 Tools

On Friday, I presented at the preconference, Promoting Teen Reading with Web 2.0 Tools. Wendy Stephens organized it, and did a terrific job. Wendy on Twitter; and her website.

My topic? Fanfiction! So of course, I had to wear my favorite Team Peeta T-shirt.

I was part of a "speed dating" presentation, so speaking with a small group of attendees, moving on to the next group, etc.

I had a one-page handout for attendees. For those of you who are curious, here are the resources I included. Any questions, please let me know!

Resources

Definitions

Archive: Online site that stores fan fiction. May be general or specific to one fandom.

Beta reader: Editors for fan fiction.

Canon: The source material.

C&D: Cease And Desist letters. When the copyright owner requests you stop.

Fandom: The fan community for a story, book, movie, television show, game, etc.

Fan fiction: Fan written stories inspired by original works by others.

Mary Sue: An idealized character, often perceived as representing the author. When male, called “Gary Stu.” Sometimes found in original fiction.

Ship: A romantic relation”ship” between two characters.

Slash: A romantic relationship between two same sex characters.

Resources

Anelli, Melissa. Harry, A History: The True Story of a Boy Wizard, His Fans, and Life Inside the Harry Potter Phenomenon. Pocket, 2008.

Burns, Elizabeth and Carlie Webber. "When Harry Met Bella: Fanfiction is all the rage. But is it plagiarism? Or the perfect thing to encourage young writers?,” School Library Journal, Vol. 55, No. 8, August 2009. www.schoollibraryjournal.com/article/CA6673573.html

Chilling Effects Clearinghouse, http://www.chillingeffects.org/ Legal issues for online activity.

Fanfiction.net, http://fanfiction.net/ Largest online archive.

Moore, Rebecca C. “All Shapes of Hunger: Teenagers and Fanfiction.” Voice of Youth Advocates, April, 2005.

Pflieger, Pat. Too Good To Be True: 150 Years of Mary Sue. Presented at the American Culture Association conference, March 31, 1999, San Diego, CA. Revised. www.merrycoz.org/papers/MARYSUE.HTM

Schaffner, Becca. “In Defense of Fanfiction,” Horn Book. November/December 2009. www.hbook.com/magazine/articles/2009/nov09_schaffner.asp


Edited to add: Cazzy Files reports on the preconference.

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© Elizabeth Burns of A Chair, A Fireplace & A Tea Cozy

Thursday, July 01, 2010

ALA 2010: In Photos



Friday began with breakfast with Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl and a bunch of book bloggers at Teaism.

So much fun!

First photo: Meaghan from A Bookworm’s Haven, me, Kami Garcia

Second photo: (Back Row) Katie (Katie Tweets YA / Read What You Know), Drea (Book Blather / Awaitin Serenity), Alexa Barry (Not Enough Bookshelves), Kami Garcia, Tiffany (TiffanyE), Michelle (GalleySmith); (Front Row) Sarah (Green Bean Teen Queen), Margie Stohl, me & Meaghan (A Bookworm’s Haven)

And yes, I totally stole the photos and all from Kami & Margie.

Mitali Perkins photographed an ALA ARC Party, taking photos of attendees with ARCs/books they picked up. Here I appear, midsentence about something or else. I am holding a signed copy of A Plain and Simple Christmas: A Novella by Amy Clipston.


I have snagged a couple more photos, from the presentation I did with Travis / 100 Scope Notes and Pam / Mother Reader, but that will wait for another day!



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© Elizabeth Burns of A Chair, A Fireplace & A Tea Cozy

Oh, What A Busy Time...

I know, I know, promises were made about posts after ALA.

They WILL be here by next week, promises, cross my heart and pinky swear.



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© Elizabeth Burns of A Chair, A Fireplace & A Tea Cozy

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

ALA

Yes, things are going to be quiet here.

No, I'm not hunting rabbits. I'm hunting ARCs!

ALA bound; see you next week!


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© Elizabeth Burns of A Chair, A Fireplace & A Tea Cozy

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Take A Deep Breath

Take two.

Then click this link.

YES!!!!!

I KNOW!!!!!

Deep breath.

Nathan Fillion (of Firefly, Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog and Castle) is on an ALA READ poster.

Even better, he is holding a young adult book: The Softwire: Awakening on Orbis 4 by P.J. Haarsma. Sometimes, when an actor stars in a READ poster, it's publicity for their latest film project and they are holding the book that their film was based on.

Fillion is holding a science fiction book for young adults.

Haarsma and Fillion are co-founders of Kids Need to Read: "Kids Need to Read works to create a culture of reading for children by providing inspiring books to under-funded schools, libraries, and literacy programs across the United States, especially those serving disadvantaged children." So, in addition to Fillion promoting a YA book, this poster also brings publicity for Kids Need to Read.

More information on the ALA READ Poster is at the Kids Need to Read Community website.

ALA READ Posters can be bought at the ALA Store. According to the Kids Need to Read website, the poster isn't available until mid-July. That won't stop me from looking for it at ALA DC!



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© Elizabeth Burns of A Chair, A Fireplace & A Tea Cozy

Monday, June 21, 2010

Must See Film: Library of the Early Mind

Sweet! Library of the Early Mind: a Documentary Film Exploring Children's Literature looks terrific, based on the trailer at the film's website.

From the website: "a feature-length documentary film about children’s literature directed by Edward J. Delaney and produced by Edward J. Delaney and Steven Withrow. We’ll be working through this year interviewing authors, illustrators and critics on the topic. The film is intended for festival release in 2010."

The first screening is October 19, 2010, at 5:30 at Harvard University. Details at Crackles of Speech.

Information from Greg Pincus and Fuse #8.



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© Elizabeth Burns of A Chair, A Fireplace & A Tea Cozy

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Revolutionary Voices

A big thanks to Josh Olesker of the National Coalition Against Censorship, who confirmed, on the record, that Revolutionary Voices, a GLBT title, has been removed from Burlington County Public Library in New Jersey because "children may find it."

From Olesker's comment to my prior post on this instance of book banning:

"Greetings All: You have the story correctly. "Revolutionary Voices" has been pulled from not just the Rancocas Valley School library but now also from the Burlington County (NJ) library system. It's not just about the children; simply put, book-banning is now a reality in Burlington County, and everybody ought to know about it. We here at the National Coalition Against Censorship (NCAC) have been following the situation for some weeks now and are glad to hear of your concern.

As the NCAC understands the BCLS part of the story, a female member of the 912 group (possibly Mrs. Marinelli) approached the BC Library staff to complain about "Revolutionary Voices" and push for its removal there too, sometime close to when the book was pulled from the RV school library, since "kids might find it there also." Instead of following the BCLS formal challenge procedure, the staff (under director Gail Sweet and library commissioners including Patrick Delany, whose name appeared on and then disappeared from a local 912 group member list earlier this spring) quietly pulled all available copies of the book off the shelves. Today there are no available copies of "Revolutionary Voices" in the BC library system, but it was pulled quietly in the hope that you wouldn't notice.

It is said that "free people read freely." That is not the case today in Burlington County, NJ. For more information and how you might get involved, visit www.ncac.org.

Joshua Olesker
National Coalition Against Censorship
www.ncac.org"


In a nutshell, then:

the reconsideration process was bypassed;

the book was removed from the adult nonfiction section of the public library;

the reason was "children could find it."





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© Elizabeth Burns of A Chair, A Fireplace & A Tea Cozy

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Americas Award

What is the Américas Award? From the website, "The Américas Award is given in recognition of U.S. works of fiction, poetry, folklore, or selected non-fiction (from picture books to works for young adults) published in the previous year in English or Spanish that authentically and engagingly portray Latin America, the Caribbean, or Latinos in the United States."

2010 Award (PDF)

2010 Américas Award Winners

Return to Sender by Julia Alvarez. Knopf, 2009.

What Can You Do with a Paleta? / ¿Qué puedes hacer con una paleta? By Carmen Tafolla, Illustrated by Magaly Morales. Tricycle Press, 2009.

Américas Award Honorable Mentions

Gringolandia by Lyn Miller-Lachmann. Curbstone, 2009.

I Know the River Loves Me/Yo se que el rio me ama by Maya Christina González. Children's Book Press, 2009.

My Papa Diego and Me/Mi papa Diego y yo: Memories of My Father and His Art/Recuerdos de mi padre y su arte by Guadalupe Rivera Marín and Diego Rivera. Children's Book Press, 2009.


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© Elizabeth Burns of A Chair, A Fireplace & A Tea Cozy

Monday, June 14, 2010

The Association of Jewish Libraries

The Association of Jewish Libraries (AJL)'s annual convention is coming up: Seattle, July 4 to 7, 2010.

I know of AJL primarily from the Sydney Taylor Book Award, "presented annually to outstanding books for children and teens that authentically portray the Jewish experience."

So, I asked Heidi Estrin of The Book of Life: a podcast about Jewish people and the books we read and AJL member what would be of interest to book bloggers and authors.

From Heidi Estrin:

Good questions about the AJL convention! The whole event is actually very book blogger friendly. There are always many book-centric sessions (here are some titles from the preliminary program on the website: "Bibliographic Treasures," "Fictional Jews at the End of Time," Historical Fiction," "Literature as a Reflection of Cultural Life," "How to Be a Book Critic.")

The highlight of each year's convention is a banquet where the Sydney Taylor Book Awards for Jewish children's/YA literature are presented to the winning authors and illustrators (these authors also get to speak during the convention at a session presented by the awards committee); prizes are also presented to the winner of the Sydney Taylor Manuscript Award (for an unpublished children's book), and the Reference and Bibliography awards are presented for scholarly works.

All in all, AJL is a small, intimate convention (around 300 people) where authors, librarians, and other book lovers mingle and network, and everyone revels in their love for Jewish libraries and literature. You can get a good sense of what the conventions are like by looking at http://jewishlibraries.org/podcast/, where the last two years' of convention session audio is available."

Registration: form (PDF, with fee information) or online

More information can be found at the AJL blog, or on http://twitter.com/jewishlibraries

The Twitter hashtag is #AJL10

If any book bloggers go, please report back!

Disclosure: AJL is running a Mention Convention weekly drawing for a $10 Amazon gift card for mentioning the AJL Convention. I am not entering the drawing.




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© Elizabeth Burns of A Chair, A Fireplace & A Tea Cozy


Friday, June 11, 2010

Reflected Faces

Want to read something awesome?

Click over to Reflected Faces by Tanita S. Davis at Hunger Mountain, the Vermont College of Fine Arts journal of the arts.

Davis writes about the "very distorted mirror in which I saw myself as a young adult", where African Americans appeared in history books as victim and never in literature.

While noting that today's classroom is (hopefully!) different, "Present day high school students don’t face quite this same disadvantage. The multicultural landscape has flowered, and varicultured characters have flowed into the mainstream. Young adult fiction has benefited from this largess in the form of characters who have charmed, disgusted, amused, and informed us, and widened our reading world. And yet…. Yet, it still seems as if young people with brown skin are acceptable to ignore, at least in the marketing departments where the Powers That Be have determined that Brown doesn’t equal Buy."

And Davis concludes: "We must discard the assumption that the presence of a minority on a book will confront YA’s with “issues” which they find boring, unpleasant and inconvenient. We must abandon the idea of a “minority issue” as something trivial and strange that has nothing to do with them—or us. Worlds overlap; a true mirror reflects a humanity which shares a commonality of experience regardless of color."

I include so much in case, well, you don't click through. But you really should.

I want to shout: brown on the cover does not mean "minority" issue and does not mean "other." A TRUE MIRROR REFLECTS A HUMANITY WHICH SHARES A COMMONALITY OF EXPERIENCE.

For librarians with communities with brown faces, it's easy: have books which offer that mirror.

For librarians with communities that are white faces, it's easy: realizing that books with brown faces on the cover also offer a mirror.

And for readers.... I say the same thing. Do not assume that minority = issue = boring = nothing to do with me. You know what? I say it's OK if you do think that because we are the sum of our lives and I don't think shaming ("you're WRONG") ever works. What I hope is for the reader to catch themselves as they think that ("oh, THAT'S what they meant by assumptions") and pick up the book they almost passed by and read it. What IS wrong is to continue to have that assumption; to read Davis's essay (and other essays) and to not recognize that assumption is being made.

Disclaimer: I've never met Davis in real life; we are friends online. I am thankful for this essay because it's eloquent; but also because it introduced me to Hunger Mountain which I've never read before.





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© Elizabeth Burns of A Chair, A Fireplace & A Tea Cozy

Thursday, June 10, 2010

ALA 2010, Let's Party!

Yes, I know I should be saving money....

But, how can you resist some of the ALSC and YALSA offerings! So, no, I won't be getting a new iPod or Netbook or saving.

So, here are the places I'll be.

Margaret A. Edwards Luncheon, Saturday, noon. When I heard it was Jim Murphy -- well. I just had to get a ticket! ALA Press Release. YALSA Blog.

Newbery Caldecott Banquet, Sunday, 6 p.m. This is my first time attending! I'm really looking forward to it. Getting a table & ticket information.

Michael L. Printz Award Reception, Monday, 8 p.m. Libba Bray. How can one not go? Press Release. YALSA blog.

As a member of the Schneider Family Book Award Committee, I will be attending the ALA Award Reception/Ceremony at 5:30 on Tuesday. I did not get a ticket for that night's banquet; I'm just attending the free part.



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© Elizabeth Burns of A Chair, A Fireplace & A Tea Cozy

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

ALA 2010


Putting together your ALA plans?

I will be presenting at two, yes, two programs!

First, I'm part of the YALSA Preconference, Promoting Teen Reading with Web 2.0 Tools. Last time I checked, there was still room in the precon. It's Friday, June 25th, from 12:30 to 4:30. I will be talking about fanfiction. Description from the press release: Librarians, reporters and academics will explore teens' daily use of technology and the interaction of digital and print reading channels, including fan fiction and gaming. YA authors will discuss leveraging readership through social networking channels. Speakers for the preconference include Kami Garcia,Margaret Stohl, Malinda Lo, John Green and David Levithan.

Second, I'm part of the panel for Children's and YA Book Blogs: Enhancing Library Services, 8:00 AM. Also on the panel are Pam "MotherReader" Coughlan and Travis "100 Scope Notes" Jonker. : From ALA Conference Program.

Hope to see you there!


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© Elizabeth Burns of A Chair, A Fireplace & A Tea Cozy

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Siobhan Parkinson

Siobhan Parkinson was named the first ever Irish Children's Laureate (Laureate na nÓg). It is a two year position; and more information can be found at the website for Laureate na nOg.

Parkinson writes for all ages. Many of her books are available in the US. I wish all of them were available here!

The Irish Times interviewed Parkinson in A Champion for Children's Literature. Since my day job is working at a library for those who are blind, low vision, or handicapped, this part especially caught my attention:

This commitment to writing is profound, given that a decade ago Parkinson developed a visually impairment. “There was no treatment 10 years ago, so one eye was damaged,” she explains. Her second eye’s degeneration was halted by a new treatment about six years ago. It is upsetting for her to visit a bookshop as she “simply can’t read the books”.

But she remains upbeat. “Audio books are wonderful,” she says, and she would be lost as a writer without a system she uses on her computer that makes words “enormous” for her. “The only problem is that all the people going by on the top deck of the number 83 bus can also read every word.”

She also has a voice on her computer – the “talking laptop” usually causes quite a stir in classrooms she visits.

As part of the laureateship she is keen to further her creative work with blind children and to find “alternatives to Braille such as extensive oral work and typing and recording of stories”. Parkinson is eager to raise the profile of children’s literature in Ireland and abroad and wants to expose Irish audiences to high quality international thinkers and writers.

Parkinson talking about children's literature:


I subscribe to the Children's Books Ireland Newsletter. In my "things I wish I could do," is to go to Ireland for some of the conferences and workshops they have. The wish factor is all the more now that Parkinson is the Children's Laureate.





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© Elizabeth Burns of A Chair, A Fireplace & A Tea Cozy

Monday, June 07, 2010

Kate McClelland and Kathy Krasniewicz

Random House established a Memorial Scholarship in honor of Kate McClelland & Kathy Krasniewicz, for a librarian or library student attending ALA. The first recipient has been selected!

From the Random House Press Release:

Congratulations!

Yelena Alekseyeva-Popova is the first recipient of the Kate McClelland and Kathy Krasniewicz Memorial Scholarship to attend the ALA Annual Conference in Washington, DC this summer!

Nominated by Miriam Budin of the Chappaqua Library, Chappaqua, New York.

Of Yelena, Miriam writes, “I was impressed by Yelena’s enthusiasm, her interest in current children’s literature, and her resourcefulness in availing herself of this discussion by local librarians. I could see she was a remarkable up-and-coming-librarian…Yelena has juggled her courses, student teaching, and work at our library magnificently…she is vibrant, brilliant, outgoing, responsible, and increasingly well-grounded in children’s literature. She reads incessantly, voraciously, and widely…I have no doubt that Kate and Kathy would have recognized Yelena’s genius and sparkle. I can almost hear Kate telling her, ‘You’re a star!’”

For those readers outside the library world, Kate McClelland and Kathy Krasniewicz were children's librarians from Connecticut who were actively involved in ALA and the children's literature community. McClelland was vice-president/president elect of ALSC. They attended the ALA Midwinter 2009 in Denver; took a taxi back to the airport; and that taxi was hit by a drunk driver. Both women died from their injuries.(School Library Journal).

The drunk driver was recently sentenced to 36 years. See: Centennial woman gets maximum 36 years for drunken crash that killed two librarians from the Denver Post. See also the Greenwich CT coverage, Jail sentence a sigh of relief for Greenwich community.



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© Elizabeth Burns of A Chair, A Fireplace & A Tea Cozy

Thursday, June 03, 2010

First, The School Library. Then, The Public Library

Back in May, I blogged about the removal of a book from a school in New Jersey.

Quick recap: Revolutionary Voices, edited by Amy Sonnie, was removed from the Rancocas Valley High School library.

As was reported in School Library Journal: "The Rancocas Valley Regional High School banned the book following a complaint by the local chapter of broadcaster Glenn Beck's conservative 9.12 project, which specifically singled out books with lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender themes. "We did it for the children," Beverly Marinelli, a grandmother and member of 9.12, told the Philadelphia Enquirer, saying that the book, which contains some sexually explicit material, is “pervasively vulgar, obscene, and inappropriate.”"

Apparently, its not enough to do it for the children.

It also has to be done for adults. Goodness knows, we cannot have adults making their own decisions about what to read! Because according to the website Revolutionary Voices, "the book was successfully banned at the Burlington County Public Library".

The Revolutionary Voices website describes itself: "revolutionary readings, a new social issue piece, is a theatrical reading of revolutionary voices, the 2000 literary anthology edited by amy sonnie. the readings are in response to the rancocas valley regional high school board of education's decision to ban the book from their school library. this theatrical reading project is conceived by young theatre artists."

I went to the Burlington County Public Library catalog and searched for Revolutionary Voices, and found an entry that said the library has no copies.

I haven't found any news reports on this -- does anyone know anything? Is it accurate that a public library has removed this book from the collection?


EDITED TO ADD: An anonymous visitor has commented below about the controversy, including using language to provoke me (and others) to say "oh my goodness, a child could read this, of course it must never be in any book in any library." Anon directed insults at me initially and then went on to direct them towards a guest to this blog who disagreed with her/him. Because of that, comments are now shut down on this post.






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© Elizabeth Burns of A Chair, A Fireplace & A Tea Cozy

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Countdown

Countdown by Deborah Wiles. Scholastic Press. 2010. Copy provided for review.

The Plot: Franny Chapman, eleven, is a fifth grader at Camp Springs Elementary School in October 1962. Her father is a pilot at nearby Andrews Air Force Base.

Franny's life is in upheaval. Her great uncle Otts, who lives with the family, is acting weird, almost as if he's back in World War I, and the whole neighborhood knows. Her best friend Margie is treating her like a competitor and enemy. Older sister Jo Ellen, a freshman in college, disappears with new friends and unshared secrets.

At school they are taught to "duck and cover" to protect themselves in case of a nuclear attack. It's scary; made scarier when Uncle Otts goes even crazier and tries to turn the front yard into a fallout shelter. Life continues to spin out of control with the news reports that Communist Russia is sending nuclear weapons to Cuba.

The Good: Before Chapter One even begins, before Franny informs us that "I am eleven years old, and I am invisible," Wiles immerses us in the world of the early 1960s. Photographs, quotations, advertisements, the price of gas; and most about politics, the Soviet Union, Kennedy, "duck and cover".

I was born in 1966; I never had "duck and cover" drills, though we saw the dusty faded Fallout Shelter signs on buildings. By the time I was in school, it was with the knowledge that if we were attacked, we'd all die. Squatting by a wall, pulling a newspaper over you, having canned foods in your basement was not going to save you. So, just like the young reader of Countdown, I don't know first hand about America in the early 60s. Wiles's use of primary documents woven throughout the book creates a "you are there" feel for the book, so when Franny hears the drill we, like Franny, have seen the illustration of how to "duck and cover" when you're outside.

This "documentary novel" shows the reader, throughout the book, life in the 60s, life Franny experiences. The careful reader will put together some of the clues, such as the mentions of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee in the documentary sections and then the abbreviation SNCC showing up in the story. The documents do more than show life as of October 1962: the biography of Harry S Truman relates his death in 1972, and President Kennedy's assassination in 1963 is included. While the documents may give a "1962" flavor and depth to the reader, these references acknowledge that the reader, unlike Franny and her friends and family, is in the present.

Early in the book, in a short biography of President Truman, the reader is told that Russia was an ally during World War II and an enemy after. Franny's and Margie's friendship reflects this in a personal way; one day they are friends, the next Margie is conspiring against her. When Margie needs Franny's help towards the end of the book, what should Franny do?

I loved this book; I'm pretty proud of the fact that I'm not turning this into a gushing "love love love" post (because that wouldn't tell you much about the book, would it?) but instead am discussing interesting parts about Countdown.

Other things to love? The disdain and fear that Franny's mother shows the divorced neighbor and her daughter simply because the woman is divorced, reflecting a mindset much different from today. The casual and constant cigarette smoking by Franny's mother. The very familiar non-Julia Child food -- instead of biscuits and cheese, one of Franny's favorite dishes. my family made crescent rolls and cheese and I totally forgot it and how much we loved it until right now. Franny, herself, not quite sure what to do at times. The teacher who repeatedly skips over Franny during the readaloud time at school -- and oh, the resolution of this is so perfect because it is about misunderstandings and lack of communication. Some would say that such misunderstandings and communication were part of the Cuban Missile Crisis. The family, sometimes flawed (like when the mother blames Franny for not being able to stop Uncle Otts from digging up the front lawn, not realizing or accepting she's asking a child to prevent an adult from doing something) but always loving (despite Uncle Otts's outbursts, there is no question that home is where he belongs).

What age for this book? Just like the format isn't easy to define, because of the mix of fiction and images, the age isn't simple. Franny herself is in fifth grade, and some fifth graders and younger will like this. Even though some think that readers won't read "down" (so those older than eleven won't read about eleven year olds), I disagree. Given a good story and engaging characters, readers will, well, read. Countdown is a heavy book, literally (no, really, this book just seems to weigh more than other!) and figuratively, with the combination of documents and story, and the parallel story telling, with the countdown to war, the countdown to the end of a friendship, the countdown to changes in life, this will appeal to older readers who want something different. I'd hand this to anyone looking for a good story who welcomes complexity in both storytelling and in characters, and that includes adults.

Wiles's website has some yummy extras, including a 1960s songs playlist and the instructional Duck and Cover film that Franny and her classmates are shown in school.

I'm adding this to my Favorite Books Read in 2010 (see sidebar for full list).






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© Elizabeth Burns of A Chair, A Fireplace & A Tea Cozy

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Professionalism & Ethics in Blogging

Couldn't make it to the Book Blogger Conference?

Click over to Beatrice to see Ron Hogan talking professionalism and ethics.

I think Hogan's is the only presentation that is available on line; if I find others, I'll add to the post.


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© Elizabeth Burns of A Chair, A Fireplace & A Tea Cozy

Friday, May 28, 2010

George Washington

Reviews that originally appeared in the April 2006 issue of the now-gone The Edge of the Forest.

George vs. George: The American Revolution As Seen from Both Sides
By Rosalyn Schanzer
Publisher: National Geographic Children's Books (October 1, 2004)
ISBN: 0792273494

George Washington, Spymaster: How the Americans Outspied the British and Won the Revolutionary War
By Thomas B. Allen
Publisher: National Geographic Children's Books (January 1, 2004)
ISBN: 0792251261

Originally appeared at The Edge of the Forest.

The American Revolution is brought to life in two books that use a similar device. On the surface, both George v. George and George Washington, Spymaster are about George Washington; but both are about more than the man.

George v. George compares the two most visible people on each side of the war, both named George: the American George Washington and the English King George III. Schanzer initially focuses on these two individuals, but then expands to compare the American and British views on everything from politics to methods of war. The approach results in a balanced view of the American Revolution, explaining such things as the structure of Colonial government and taxation. Particularly impressive to this American is how Schanzer conveys how the British viewed the American guerilla warfare as dishonorable.

In any conflict, there are two sides to a story. Books that show historical events from one side, painting the other as "them" and "wrong," can lead a child to wonder at how stupid those "others" were to not agree with "us." Schanzer, by providing balance in the arguments, is not looking to persuade the reader to agree with either George; rather, by providing the point of view of the "other," she allows the reader to see the war from a different point of view. This is about understanding another's position.

The color illustrations are reminiscent of 18th century political cartoons; so while original to the text, they convey a time period appropriate feel. At the same time, there is a modern, kid-friendly feel.

As the title indicates, George Washington, Spymaster, uses George Washington to highlight the value of information in war. This isn't a book about the life of George Washington; and it's not a book about the politics and battles of the American Revolution. The focus is what each side needed to know (and didn't want the other side to know) before the battles to try to ensure victory. How many soldiers are in the camp? Are they well fed? Where are they going, and when? What are the battle plans? Who is the commander?

Who was gathering that information? Who was protecting that information? Spies. Allen brings this to life by relating the stories of individual men and women on both sides of the conflict who risked everything to get information. He tells who they are, how information was obtained, and how that information was then sent. It may be in person; it may be by the arrangement of laundry on a line; it may be in secret code.

Because of the secrecy required, many agents (and double agents) were not publicly known; Allen relates exciting stories, including one man who was believed to be a Loyalist and who almost burnt out of his house by angry Americans; it turns out that he was a double agent! Due to the lack of documentation, and the continuing risk to family members even after the war, some individuals went to the grave with the truth about their activities unknown. Allen does a marvelous job of pulling together information from various sources, from original documents, newspaper accounts, and family legends, and weaves them into an exciting story of intrigue.
Allen includes samples of different spy codes used during the American Revolution; sprinkled throughout the book are secret messages for the reader to decode. Like Schanzer, Allen pays attention to the details; even the font used in the book is historically accurate.


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© Elizabeth Burns of A Chair, A Fireplace & A Tea Cozy

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Animal Crackers Fly the Coop


Animal Crackers Fly the Coop by Kevin O'Malley. Walker Books for Young Readers, Bloomsbury. 2010.

The Plot: A retelling of the Bremen Town Musicians. Except instead of wanting to be musicians, the animals want to be comedians. Or, in the case of Hen, a comedi-hen.

The Good: Hen just wants to open a comedy club and be a comedi-hen. Because she's concentrating on humor rather than laying eggs, the farmer warns of "Fry-day." Hen runs away, and encounters three other animals, Dog, Cat, and Cow, who ignore their expected jobs and instead tell jokes, riddles, and sing funny songs.

Animal Crackers is full of the jokes and puns of Hen, Dog, Cat and Cow. Illustrations add to the tale; when we encounter Cat, Cat is so caught up in singing songs that mice are jumping all around Cat.

A laugh out loud tale that will work with older readers, especially those who are in the loving puns and jokes stage.












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© Elizabeth Burns of A Chair, A Fireplace & A Tea Cozy

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Daydreams of a Solitary Hamster


Daydreams of a Solitary Hamster by Astrid Desbordes. Illustrated by Pauline Martin. Enchanted Lion Books. 2010. Picture Book. Review copy supplied by publisher.

The Plot: The friendship of Hamster, Mole, Snail, and other animals.

The Good: Comic strips make this a picture book with appeal to older readers; which is good, because the humor here will go over the heads of most four year olds.

Hamster is wonderfully, blissfully, egocentric. When he looks at the stars, he doesn't stop with thinking they are beautiful and mysterious; no, the stars must, in turn, look at him and think not just that Hamster is beautiful and mysterious but that "seen from space, a hamster must be a magnificent sight." Hamster not only sleeps outside so that the stars will be happy as they contemplate him; he spells out his name, Hamster, in rocks, so they know who he is from a distance.

And it's philosophical! Here is Hamster mulling his favorite food: "I love waffles so much! The fear of running out of them haunts me. This love will stay with me forever and ever. That's just the way it is." Who hasn't thought that about love?



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© Elizabeth Burns of A Chair, A Fireplace & A Tea Cozy

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The Sons of Liberty Guest Post



The Sons of Liberty #1 by Alexander Lagos and Joseph Lagos. Illustrated by Steve Walker (artist) and Oren Kramek (colorist). Random House 2010. Review copy from publisher.

As a brief introduction, I LOVED this graphic novel. Set in Colonial Pennsylvania, two runaway slaves develop superpowers and fight back.

I loved this so much that we are doing something a bit different today. I'm participating in a blog tour about the book (I know!). You'll be getting my review in June, but in the meanwhile, enjoy a guest post by Alexander Lagos and Joseph Lagos. And yes, they are brothers!

From the brothers Lagos:

Creating THE SONS OF LIBERTY was fun and challenging. Our first step was to understand the world in which our heroes, Graham and Brody, would exist. That meant immersing ourselves in Colonial America and the American Revolution.

The process began by creating a historical/fictional timeline that helped us in weaving our characters in and out of famous events. Since we live over 1600 miles apart, the bulk of the work process had to be done through e-mailing the draft back and forth, lengthy phone conversations…and, of course, snail mail.

Once a rough draft was complete, we sent the manuscript to Random House in New York to begin that refinement process that all writers are intimately familiar with-editing.


When the final draft is approved, the copy is forwarded to artist, Steve Walker and Colorist, Oren Kramek so that thumbnails and about a hundred other details may be determined. Like the script, drawing and colors go through a careful approval process and a team of people including the authors examine every detail for accuracy.

The end result, is a book that, we hope, will provide, good quality entertainment and a bit of historical information.

~The Lagos Brothers

Some links about the book, including some terrific extra information:

The book website

The blog the Lagos brothers visited yesterday, the Graphic Classroom

And the blog they will be at tomorrow, Comic Book Galaxy

Interior art provided by the publisher. (Yes! Full color interior!)

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© Elizabeth Burns of A Chair, A Fireplace & A Tea Cozy
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