Wednesday, June 23, 2010


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.


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

Joshua Olesker
National Coalition Against Censorship"

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, 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

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.

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, 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.

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

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:


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 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