Sunday, January 31, 2010

Don't Should On Me

I really don't like being told what to do with my blog.

I mean, really.

Others have posted about this -- about people literally telling you what to blog or not to blog or when or how to do it. MotherReader mused about unrealistic expectations some people have of bloggers. My Friend Amy posted about being a public reader. I thought aloud about what happens when we move from reading in private to reading in public, a few weeks ago and yesterday.

First thing: the single person who shoulds me the most and I just want to say "shut up already?"

Myself.

Blogging for an extended time period requires serious self-motivation. Statistics are nice, comments are wonderful, review copies are awesome, but at the end of the day or the weekend when it's the blogger and the book and the computer, the only person making that blogger sit down, log on, and write is the blogger.

People who don't blog wonder at the time (as if they don't have areas in their own life that take up time!) but rarely realize the personal drive it takes, the discipline, to continue week after week, month after month, year after year. My fellow bloggers who survive the critical time periods (three months, a year) I salute you!

Which means I am my worst task masker, telling myself what I should read, what I should blog about, how often I should blog, what blogs I should read, etc.

So when someone comes along and basically adds to the loud shoulding in my head?

It makes me tired. It makes me sad. It can overwhelm, actually. And it annoys me.

Blogging for me (like most bloggers) is on my own time -- not work time, on my own time, carved out around work and family and friends and real life. And call me selfish, but I also like to go on vacations. Or spend time off-line. And, well, -- you may not believe it -- spend time on things other than blogging.

So when someone says what a blogger should be doing, especially in a "you're doing it wrong" way? Especially in a "here's more work for you" way?

It's like going into a person's home, looking in the pantry, and saying "you should be a vegan. Oh, and grow your own vegetables."

I know it's not that simple. I know that blogging is a voluntary, public act. As I said yesterday, one should have a thick skin about blogging and intellectually I know that includes shoulding.

But, still, blogging and writing and sharing about books and reading doesn't mean it's OK to have someone else say, "you should be grading your reviews." "You should have longer posts." "You should have shorter posts." "You shouldn't have a lot of your post be about plot." "You should write about older books." "You should ..." "You should..." "You should..."

Well. You get the picture.

Here's the thing. Most bloggers are thinking about what they are doing. Really. They are considering what they are doing, and how, and when, and why.

I'm not saying there shouldn't be discussions. Discussions are great! Discussions are fun! It's good to be open to and listening to different opinions. You may even realize you may not have thought of something. At the very least, you'll get a better understanding of where someone else is coming from and (hopefully) respect that point of view. Blogging, like life, is a process.

Some valuable dialogues have been held in the blogosphere, such as the ones that have played out over the last few months about books about and by people of color. Other good conversations include the many (sometimes heated) online talk about ethics. There have been, and will continue to be, great conversations about book blogging.

But back to "shoulding" instead of talking.

There are certain universal truths: spellcheck is your friend. Proofreading is good. Don't steal content. Give proper credit to others.

But beyond that... put two bloggers in a room, you get three opinions on the best way to do something. The dialogue is valuable but there is no One True Way That People Should Follow. (Other than spellcheck is your friend, etc.)

Maybe I'm just overly optimistic and positive in how I think about bloggers and what they do.

I know! Me, the cynic! The questioner!

I think bloggers take pride in what they do and contribute, and do so while looking for ways for ways to do their best and be better.

I think I'm not the only one who "shoulds" myself.



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

Saturday, January 30, 2010

The Shifts in Reading and Blogging

I began a post about "shoulds" and book blogging, but it was a bit long and unwieldy and really two posts.

One about what I mean about how blogging shifts how one reads, how one talks about books. And one about shoulding, which I'll hopefully have ready tomorrow.

So, blogging.

Well. It's like this. By myself? Dinner may be peanut butter on an English muffin. When I have company, is that what I'll serve? Nope. In a way, it's the same type of shift that occurs when one moves from talking with friends about books to the public arena of blogging. Things get cleaned up a little; spelling and grammar are doublechecked. Things get rewritten and revised.

There is the criticism and feedback that comes along with blogging, in a way that doesn't happen in conversations. Oh, I'm not saying conversations about books are all calm and pretty; people can agree and disagree and get emotional! But it does mean that if I post something and someone disagrees with me (either here or elsewhere), I need to be as thick-skinned as I expect authors to be when I talk about their books. I don't think one can go into blogging thinking it's going to be all "I agree, great post!"

And then there is the community. And not just the blogging community. There are also interactions with authors and publishers. Really -- how many people who sit and talk about books casually, outside of blogging (and I'm not looking at you, librarians) ever have the chance to meet authors and folks from publishing? And by "meet", I include doing interviews, Twitter, posts and comments on blogs. How many get review copies, or write articles, or speak at conferences or other programs? Not all bloggers do all these things, of course. But, still, there are connections and things happening that don't happen for the stay at home reader.

So right there, like it or not, there is a shift -- the blogger who is doing all that is no longer the same as the person sitting at home, casually reading. Is the way these two people read, or talk about books the exact same? If the blogger is reading an ARC, for example, there almost has to be a shift in reading, because the blogger knows its not the "final" copy of the book so has to take that into account when reading it.

And what does it mean to go from being "just" a consumer of an end product, the book, to being part of the professional chain that includes authors, editors, publishers, publicists, reviewers, and now bloggers? Does that alter what one does, should it, and to what extent?

Let's use me as an example.

As a librarian (which I still am), I read with two hats on. I read for me; but I also reader to see whether other readers would like that book. When I read for me, there would be a small handful of people to who I would say "OMG you must read this book!". When I read as librarian, I read as book matchmaker: who will be the perfect reader for this book? And then used those books to booktalk (or handsell) those books to library patrons, sometimes individually, sometimes in large class visits.

As a blogger, my audience per day is much more than those handful of people I used to say "read this" to. What does having that audience mean? And what does it mean for me to think, "people will read because of what I blog?" Because I am out here with this blog and these posts, what is my responsibility to the reader?

For me, because my blog is a potluck dinner, it means I try to vary what I read and review here. A bit of this, a bit of that, with a side helping of what I like because all reading for others and no reading for me is tiring and it's a sure fire way to turn the joy of reading into the job of reading.

So yes, I think that the act of blogging shifts what one does. Though what that shift means can vary differently, from blogger to blogger.

But does any of this mean a blogger opens themselves up to being told how to blog? Or allows one blogger to tell another how to blog? Or, well, allows anyone to tell them what to do and how to do it? More of my self-obsessed musings on "shoulding" on people tomorrow.






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

And More Awards and Lists

Abby (the) Librarian's post reminds me there are still More Awards and Lists

NATIVE AMERICAN YOUTH SERVICES LITERATURE AWARD via Debbie Reese, who has the 2009 winners. At the time of posting, the Award Website doesn't have the current winners. I haven't read any of the three winners. The criteria, policies & procedures for the award are in a PDF.

2010 Amazing Audiobooks for Young Adults, YALSA.
The ones I listened to: Carter Finally Gets It by Brent Crawford; The Killer's Cousin by Nancy Werlin.

2010 Great Graphic Novels for Teens, YALSA.
The one I read: The Secret Science Alliance & The Copycat Crook by Eleanor Davis.

Edgar Nominees, Young Adult.
The one I read: If the Witness Lied by Caroline Cooney.

Edgar Nominees, Juvenile.
Ones I read: none.

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

Friday, January 29, 2010

All The World


All the World by Liz Garton Scanlon and Marlee Frazee. Beach Lane Books, an imprint of Simon & Schuster. 2009. Picture Book. Caldecott Honor Book.

The Plot: A family is at the beach: "rock, stone, pebble, sand/ body, shoulder, arm, hand/ a moat to dig/ a shell to keep/ All the world is wide and deep." The family goes about its day and a host of other characters are depicted. At the end, they are together, one community, one world: "Everything you hear, smell, see/ All the world is everything/ Everything is you and me/ Hope and peace and love and trust/ All the world is all of us."

The Good: Really, it would be easier to say what isn't good.

Um, except it's all good.

The poem itself is deceptively simple; describing a day in the children's lives, but also describing all of us. It shows what we share and have in common.

The illustrations (pencil and watercolor) reflect the text and deepen it. They are full of details; each time you read the book, you see something new, a new connection. When does part of one scene appear in another? What people appear and reappear in the illustrations? It's more than a guessing game, a searching game. It underscores how we are all connected.

The family and people in the book reflect our world: different colors, different shades, different ages. It's not a big deal, in that it's not part of the text or done with a "look! look! look!" feel; it is a big deal because we need to have and see multicultural families in books, and yay, here is a beautifully illustrated one with two children of color on the cover.

I hesitate to say "what a great message," because message books are usually heavy handed. This is not; so I'll say, this book has meaning, and truth, and inspiration. It has reassurance and love.

Video and curriculum guide at author's website.





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

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Virginia Hamilton Conference on Multicultural Literature for Youth

Are you near Kent State University, Kent, Ohio?

Are you free on April 8 and April 9, 2010?

Are you going to the Virginia Hamilton Conference on Multicultural Literature for Youth and can you report back to the blogosphere?

What is it?

From the website for the 2010 Conference: "The 26th Annual Virginia Hamilton Conference on Multicultural Literature for Youth will be held on Thursday, April 8 & Friday, April 9, 2010 at the Kent State University Student Center. The conference provides a forum for discussion of multicultural themes and issues in literature for children and young adults. “A New Horizon: The Next 25 Years!” is the theme of the conference, featuring the illuminating talents of great wordsmiths and a brilliant illustrator. Virginia Hamilton Conference is please to be a forum that showcases some of the wonderful talents in multicultural literature for youth. The conference will bringing together renown and local writers, illustrators, librarians, teachers, students, and scholars who share in the importance of multicultural literature."

It's a Thursday night, all day Friday conference. Cost for Thursday night is $40; for Friday is $120; for both, $150.

I would love to go, but look at a map. New Jersey, Ohio: not close. Given the conversations in the blogosphere about people of color, covers, race, reading, I would love, love, love to go to this conference but, frankly, I cannot afford to (travel plus conference costs plus taking vacation time equals no, not unless I win the lottery).

But there must be some kidlit bloggers near who can attend who will represent the blogosphere and report back! Anyone?

To further make you want to go, here is the brochure.

Also? The press release I read said the conference fills up quickly.




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

Not Dazed. Just Confused.

Welcome, readers from the School Library Journal!

SLJ's enewsletter, Extra Helping, came out today and included the article YALSA Axes Venerable BBYA List. Yours truly was quoted; but alas, my photo was not included. But given the cover controversy, I'm sure readers are tired of my face!

Anyway, go, read, share your opinion.

To see more of my thoughts, you can read my January post on BBYA.



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

ALSC Notables

The ALSC Notable Children's Book List for 2010 is posted at the ALA Website. Below are links to the books on the list I've read and reviewed.

Younger Readers

...

Gracias * Thanks. By Pat Mora. Illus. by John Parra.

...

Middle Readers

...

The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate. By Jacqueline Kelly.

...

When You Reach Me. By Rebecca Stead.

...


Older Readers

...

Almost Astronauts: 13 Women Who Dared to Dream. By Tanya Lee Stone.

Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice. By Phillip Hoose.

...

Leviathan. By Scott Westerfeld. Illus. by Keith Thompson.

...


All Ages

...




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

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Soul Enchilada

Soul Enchilada by David Macinnis Gill. Greenwillow Books. 2009. Listened to Brilliance Audiobook version (2009) narrated by Michelle Carmen Gomez. Audiobook provided by Brilliance for review.

The Plot: Eunice "Bug" Smoot is struggling, pay check to pay check. She is fiercely, aggressively independent, working, paying bills, paying rent, no food stamps or government money for her. Her father was never in the picture; her mother died when she was little, followed by her aunt a few years. Most recently, her grandfather "Papa C" died, leaving her nothing except a 1958 Cadillac Biarritz.

It turns out Bug's grandfather also left her a heap of trouble. The car is about to be repossessed -- by a demon. Not only did Papa C sell his soul to buy the car -- he skipped out on the bargain, hiding post-death from the repo demons just like he hid from bill collectors while alive. As Bug argues the car is HERS, thankyouverymuch, she gets even worse news. Seems like Papa C promised additional collateral - Bug's soul.

The Good: Bug is fierce and independent, has a mouth on her, isn't afraid to stand up for herself. "Diplomatic" is not in her vocabulary. During high school, her aggression and drive found a use on the basketball court; now, she drives fast delivering pizzas. What is great about Bug's whole in-your-face persona? She's going to need it to take on the demon Mr. Beals. Playing nice, being quiet, being soft isn't going to save your soul. Literally.

Soul Enchilada is a perfect mix of humor and supernatural. The chapter headings are fun, and the supernatural world Gill has built manages to both scare you and make you laugh at loud. The threat from Mr. Beals and Scratch (the Devil) is very, very real. But you also have djinn hunters who track djinn and their visas (that is the ISIS, International Supernatural Immigration Service) and quick jokes such Judge Hathorne, whose "family has a long history of presiding fairly and objectively" over contests between the Devil and humans.

ISIS; right there, you know that Gill hasn't just decided to use traditional stories about the Devil, demons, djinn and the deals for souls. He's taken those traditions and added new, invigorating, original twists.

Bug starts the book alone, but as she discovers the supernatural world lurking beneath the real one she not only assembles a team, she becomes part of a family, including Pesto, the cute guy at the carwash who turns out to know all about djinn and demons; his mother, Mrs. Valenci, who opens her heart and home to Bug; Castor and Pollux, arguing ISIS agents. Part of Bug's aloneness is not just the loss of her loved ones. Her mother, Mita, was Latina; her father black. Bug is a mix of cultures, feeling not quite welcome in either, saying "I don't speak Spanish" when any Spanish is spoken around her.

The cast in Soul Enchilada (set in El Paso, Texas) is a diverse mix. Readers wanting action, horror, a smart story, and a touch of humor will love this; it's even nicer that the two main characters, Bug and Pesto, are teens of color.

Bug is quick to act; and accordingly, there is a lot of action in Soul Enchilada. Demons and djinn, people! Of course there is going to be action, with funny and unexpected twists and turns. At one point, halfway through listening, I thought "this is happening already? wow, what comes next, then." A plot that keeps me guessing? What's more a supernatural plot that keeps me guessing? I'm a fan of Poltergeist, Buffy, Supernatural -- I expect the twists and turns! So that Soul Enchilada kept me guessing? Bonus points.

I would love a sequel, just because Bug and Pesto are such a cute couple and Bug takes no prisoners. I want to see what she does next. But, since Soul Enchilada appears to be a standalone, I'll keep my demands simple and just demand another Gill book.

Michelle Carmen Gomez narrates the audiobook. Bug comes alive, as does Pesto and the other characters. Their "dude!" and "dog!" echo in my head and make me chuckle.

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

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

YALSA Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers

The YALSA Quick Picks are always fun to read and important to know about. "Reluctant Readers" are an oft-discussed topic; what does "reluctant" mean? Anyway. If I read and reviewed it, I've linked. These books have awesome annotations; you really should click thru to the whole list to read them.

Anderson, Laurie Halse. Wintergirls.

Baratz-Logsted, Lauren. Crazy Beautiful.
...

de la Pena, Matt. We Were Here.
...

Elkeles, Simone. Perfect Chemistry.
...

Knowles, Jo. Jumping Off Swings.
...

Stiefvater, Maggie. Shiver.
...

Williams, Carol Lynch. The Chosen One.
...




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

Monday, January 25, 2010

Sydney Taylor Book Award Blog Tour

The 2010 Sydney Taylor Book Award Winners go on blog tour! Check out the Award's blog for more information. Not only is this a way to find out about great Jewish children's and teen books; it's a great way to find out about new-to-you bloggers.

From the Press Release:

Gold & Silver Medalists Go on Virtual Tour

The Sydney Taylor Book Award will be celebrating and showcasing its 2010 gold and silver medalists and special Notable Book for All Ages with a Blog Tour, February 1-5, 2010. A blog tour is like a virtual book tour. Instead of going to a library or bookstore to see an author speak, you go to a website on or after the advertised date to read an author's interview.

The full schedule for the Blog Tour is posted at the Association of Jewish Libraries blog, "People of the Books," at jewishlibraries.org/blog.

Visit these blogs on or after the listed dates to read interviews with our authors and illustrators!

MONDAY, FEBRUARY 1, 2010

April Halprin Wayland, author of New Year at the Pier: A Rosh Hashanah Story Sydney Taylor Book Award winner in the Younger Readers Category at Practically Paradise

Stephane Jorisch, illustrator of New Year at the Pier: A Rosh Hashanah Story Sydney Taylor Book Award winner in the Younger Readers Category at Frume Sarah's World

Margarita Engle, author of Tropical Secrets: Holocaust Refugees in Cuba Sydney Taylor Book Award winner in the Teen Readers Category at bookstogether

TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 2, 2010

Robin Friedman, author of The Importance of Wings Sydney Taylor Book Award winner in the Older Readers Category at Little Willow's Bildungsroman

Jacqueline Davies, author of Lost Sydney Taylor Honor Award winner in the Teen Readers Category at Biblio File

Jonah Winter, author of You Never Heard of Sandy Koufax?! Sydney Taylor Honor Award winner in the Younger Readers Category at Get in the Game: Read! and cross-posted at Examiner.com

WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 3, 2010

Elka Weber, author of The Yankee at the Seder Sydney Taylor Honor Award winner in the Younger Readers Category at BewilderBlog

Adam Gustavson, illustrator of The Yankee at the Seder Sydney Taylor Honor Award winner in the Younger Readers Category at Great Kid Books

Judy Vida, daughter of the late Selma Kritzer Silverberg, author of Naomi's Song Sydney Taylor Honor Award winner in the Teen Readers Category at The Book Nosher

THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 4, 2010

Jacqueline Jules, author of Benjamin and the Silver Goblet Sydney Taylor Honor Award winner in the Younger Readers Category at ASHarmony

Natascia Ugliano, illustrator of Benjamin and the Silver Goblet Sydney Taylor Honor Award winner in the Younger Readers Category at The Book of Life

Deborah Bodin Cohen, author of Nachshon, Who Was Afraid to Swim: A Passover Story Sydney Taylor Honor Award winner in the Younger Readers Category at Ima On and Off the Bima

Jago, illustrator of Nachshon, Who Was Afraid to Swim Sydney Taylor Honor Award winner in the Younger Readers Category at Jewish Books for Children

FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 5, 2010

Annika Thor, author of A Faraway Island Sydney Taylor Honor Award winner in the Older Readers Category at Teen Reads

Ellen Frankel, author of JPS Illustrated Children's Bible Sydney Taylor Notable Book for All Ages at Deo Writer

Association of Jewish Libraries
Heidi Estrin


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

2010 Best Books for Young Adults

YALSA has posted the 2010 Best Books for Young Adults. And, apparently, it's the last such list in this format.

So, which of the 2010 BBYA have I read and reviewed? Here it is! Links are to my reviews. I omitted titles that I didn't read or review. I have a bunch of catching up to do!

Anderson, Laure Halse. Wintergirls.
...

Bray, Libba. Going Bovine.

Brennan, Sarah Rees. Demon's Lexicon.

Brown, Jennifer. Hate List.
...

Collins, Suzanne. Catching Fire.

Cooper, Michelle. A Brief History of Montmaray.
....

Davis, Tanita. Mare's War.

Dessen, Sarah. Along For the Ride.
....

Kelly, Jacqueline. The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate.
....

Knowles, Jo. Jumping Off Swings.

LaCour, Nina. Hold Still.

Larbalestier, Justine. Liar
...

Lockhart, E. The Treasure Map of Boys: Noel, Jackson, Finn, Hutch--And Me, Ruby Oliver.

Madigan, L.K. Flash Burnout.
...

Miller-Lachmann, Lyn. Gringolandia.
...

Pearson, Mary E. The Miles Between.

Pena, Matt de la. We Were Here.
...

Ryan, Carrie. The Forest of Hands and Teeth.
...

Smith, Sherri L. Flygirl.
...

Stead, Rebecca. When You Reach Me.
...

Stiefvater, Maggie. Shiver.
...

Taylor, Laini. Lips Touch: Three Times.
...

Westerfeld, Scott. Leviathan.

Williams, Carol Lynch. The Chosen One.
....

Zarr, Sara. Once Was Lost.
....

Heiligman, Deborah. Charles and Emma: The Darwins’ Leap of Faith.

Hoose, Phillip M. Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice.
...

Stone, Tanya Lee. Almost Astronauts: 13 Women Who Dared to Dream.





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, January 22, 2010

Covers

Well, here I was thinking I would blog this weekend about the latest cover controversy.

Except, then, the publisher up and announced that they were changing the cover!

Blogs and posts to check out are Black Eyed Susan; Color Online; Chasing Ray. And Justine Larbalestier sums up many of my thoughts on the issue of covers and race: Race & Representation.

And seriously, if you don't know what I am talking about, you have to add at least Black Eyed Susan and Color Online to your "must read" blog listing.

So it's over, yay!! The cover is changed, let's sing and hold hands and go back to how everything was. (end sarcasm font)

DARN IT, I cannot even post a "but it's not over" post because Color Online has already done it: "I am asking that you remain focused and committed to bringing about real change which is the realization of true diversity and representation in publishing." Practically every point raised at Black Eyed Susan's Color it Up post is as valid right now as it was yesterday.

So, what can be added to the conversation? I'm not a fan of "me, too" posts. I don't want to say, "look at the awesome thing I'll do."

I'm joining the POC Reading Challenge, even though you may know (or have figured out) that I don't do challenges. Too little time, too many books, not organized enough to check in when I have or have not read something. But I'm joining, because this is important. The conversation, the need, the issue do not end with one cover. Or two covers. It's every day, every reading choice. And Bookshelves of Doom shows, it's not over.

What can a blogger do? When we shift from private readers to public readers, there is a shift in our responsibilities. "Me" still matters, of course; it's why my sidebar is my favorite books. But when I try to decide what to read next, the deciding factor isn't just "what do I want to read next" or work-related ("what do I read for this library committee", "what do I read to be a good librarian to my patrons"), it's also blog related, "what did I request from a publisher or author?" "what review copies and ARCs do I have?" and "What publisher haven't I reviewed in a while?"

And added to that list of factors should also be, "am I being diverse in my reading?" "when did I last read a book about a person of color?" If I don't ask myself that question, if I don't think of that question, well, it may turn out the books I've read are all white. Being white, I have the luxury to "don't think" unless I make the decision to think about.

But even then... well. This is one person, one blog.

Blogging is about a community. And it's a community publishers look at. Yes, they hope our reviews mean sales. And yes, there's a big world of readers out there, bigger than the blogosphere. Still. Blogging is a fairly new, unique way for publishers to get direct feedback from readers. And I'm not talking about feedback that picks apart books; I'm talking about feedback that says, yes, readers want and need books about people of color. So us blogging about POC books and saying we want more? Does send a message.

What else can be done?

You have enough people saying, demanding, wanting books about people of color and the books will be made. Blogs are one part of that conversation. So are libraries -- check out the books! Ask for the books that aren't there! Leave suggestions, requests for titles. Do the same at your local bookstore. A librarian, a book store owner, hearing that readers want more books with POC will buy more books, and will tell their publisher contacts that.

Nominate titles for the various YALSA lists and awards. A book being on these lists and the awards? It means a lot. It's important. Don't assume the committees will have the book, read the book, nominated the book. YOU do it. Go to the YALSA web site at www.ala.org/yalsa/booklists, select an award or list and then select the “Nominate a title” link. Pay attention to the details (publication year, ISBN, reason for nomination)!

EDITED TO ADD: As pointed out in the comments to a post at Chasing Ray, some of the huge purchasers of books have incredible input into covers. They can decide to carry or not to carry and that decision has such a huge financial impact that publishers listen; or, I imagine, try to guess what these entities will or won't buy. To quote from that comment: "And these major buyers can be counted on one hand: Wal-Mart, wholesalers, B&N. And, to be frank, if any of those buyers say no to a cover for any reason, we have to listen to them or else our books don't get in." So, what to do? Add these three entities to the list; when in these stores, ask "why don't you have." Write these entities.


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

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Using YALSA Awards and Lists

If you read the YALSA Board Documents concerning the changes to YALSA's lists and awards (aka The BBYA Changes), you see that the documents state that "There is concern among member leaders that the portfolio of YALSA’s lists, as they are now, are not useful to many members or the library community."

I'm a list type of gal. Give me a list like BBYA, and the first thing I'm doing is counting up how many I read and wonder if I can fit in reading the ones I didn't. Of course, YALSA and BBYA doesn't exist to give guidance to Liz on What To Read Next.

So, for those of you who think "the list isn't useful to me!" here are the ways I have used the YALSA lists. Please add any other ideas in the comments.

Collection Development. Does my library own this book?

Booktalks. When looking for new books to booktalk (either one on one or to groups), I go to the YALSA lists for new titles.

Displays. Displays can be themed to the list (a BBYA display) or just useful for other displays (non-fiction, fantasy, etc.)

Other Booklist Nerds. I'm not unique in using lists like this to guide reading; I'm sure that the list as a booklist (either whole or in part -- 90 titles is a lot to fit on a bookmark!) will be appreciated by many teens.

Book Discussions. Whether its traditional (finding the one book to read) or open ended (reading any book), the lists are great for book discussion ideas. This is also true for ongoing nominated lists; many librarians like to use the nominated titles instead of waiting for the selected lists or awards.

So, how else do you use the lists and awards, either personally, professionally, or with teens?

If you're a non-librarian, do you use these lists? Do you want to know more about them?


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

A Taste for Red


A Taste for Red by Lewis Harris. Clarion Books, an imprint of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 2009. Reviewed from Advance Reader's Copy from publisher. Middle Grade, supernatural.

The Plot: Svetlana Grimm, sixth grader, is a vampire. It's not easy, especially as she is forced to go to school and act like a regular person. At school she encounters Ms. Larch, who just may be another vampire. Except Ms. Larch is anything but friendly. Maybe Svetlana isn't a vampire after all....

The Good: Svetlana used to be Stephanie, until it dawned on her that she is really a vampire and demanded her parents start calling her Svetlana. What vampire is named Stephanie, anyway? The clues to Svetlana being a vampire: only eating red food. Sleeping under her bed. Heightened senses. Reading another's thoughts and sometimes even controlling them.

At first, when I began this book, I thought that Svetlana came from a vampire family. When I realized she did not, and that her parents were unaware she was a vampire, I thought this would be about a lonely formerly homeschooled girl who believes herself to be a vampire. Within a few pages I discovered that wasn't true, either.

Svetlana does have supernatural powers. Vampires do exist. It turns out that Svetlana has simply misidentified what she is; a hunter of vampires rather than a vampire.

With the help of an elderly neighbor, Svetlana learns more about her abilities, discovers the town vampire, and tries to save fellow classmates from the clutches of the vampire.

Along the way, we find out more about Svetlana (who is delightfully snarky and world weary) and her very understanding family. Of course her family has to be understanding, if they are indulging in her "only eat red food" preferences. Though, of course, her mind control helps with that.

A sample of Svetlana's delightful narrative style: "Please. My cousin in Texas has a trampoline. As I recall, the thrill lasted about two minutes. Why would anyone ever get on a trampoline twice? In my opinion, a trampoline is basically a Darwinian device for thinning the herd." Given her attitude, one can understand why she quickly realizes and believes that there is something unique about herself.

A good addition to vampire books, especially for the fourth to seventh grade age set. Also good: after Svetlana's misdiagnosis of her own abilities, it turns out that the vampires are the baddies after all. Good to recommend to the middle grade age group, not just because it fills the request for vampires and horror, but also because the main character is active. This isn't a "oh noes bad guys! run away and survive!" book; it's "oh noes bad guys! let's do something about it."

And yes... I am amused that Svetlana's birth name is Stephanie.


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

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

ALA Youth Media Awards

Information from the ALA's Press Release for the Youth Media Awards. With, when applicable, my comments, including links to reviews or quotes. And I'm going to try to read all the books below I haven't read yet!

John Newbery Medal for most outstanding contribution to children’s literature
Winner:
When You Reach Me, by Rebecca Stead. Wendy Lamb Books, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books. "That is a lot of hype to live up to, and it's sometimes unfair to the book that you go in expecting greatness instead of just hoping for a "good read." So when the book DOES deliver everything people said, and more? You know it's a damn good book."

Honor Books:
Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice by Phillip Hoose. Melanie Kroupa Books/Farrar Straus Giroux, an imprint of Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group. "Claudette Colvin should be required reading in law schools."
The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly. Henry Holt and Company. "For having such fully realized characters; and for Kelly not telling us everything about Callie and her world and family, and rather telling us just enough; this is one of my favorite books of 2009."
Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin. Little, Brown and Company Books for Young Readers.
Mostly True Adventures of Homer P. Figg by Rodman Philbrick. The Blue Sky Press, An Imprint of Scholastic Inc.

Randolph Caldecott Medal for most distinguished American picture book for children
Winner
The Lion & the Mouse, illustrated and written by Jerry Pinkney. Little, Brown and Company Books for Young Readers.

Honor Books:
All the World, illustrated by Marla Frazee, written by Liz Garton Scanlon. Beach Lane Books.
Red Sings from Treetops: A Year in Colors, illustrated by Pamela Zagarenski, written by Joyce Sidman. Houghton Mifflin Books for Children, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

Michael L. Printz Award for excellence in literature written for young adults
Winner:
Going Bovine by Libba Bray. Delacorte Press, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books, a division of Random House. "It's a joy to discover just how multi-talented Bray is, because all you can think is "Holy Hannah, what is she going to do next?""

Honor Books
Charles and Emma: The Darwins’ Leap of Faith by Deborah Heiligman. Henry Holt Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group. "People can disagree and yet still love and respect each other. Darwin believed that God played no role in natural selection or evolution; Wedgwood (religious but not a literalist in her belief) disagreed. While they argued the point, it did not control their lives, their love, or their relationship."
The Monstrumologist by Rick Yancey. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing Group.
Punkzilla by Adam Rapp. Candlewick Press.
Tales of the Madman Underground: An Historical Romance 1973
by John Barnes. Viking Children’s Books, a division of Penguin Young Readers Group.

Coretta Scott King (Author) Book Award recognizing an African American author and illustrator of outstanding books for children and young adults
Winner:
Bad News for Outlaws: The Remarkable Life of Bass Reeves, Deputy U. S. Marshal by Vaunda Micheaux Nelson, illustrated by R. Gregory Christie. Carolrhoda Books, a division of Lerner Publishing Group, Inc.

Honor Book
Mare’s War by Tanita S. Davis. Alfred A. Knopf, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books, a division of Random House, Inc. "The classic road trip story is tweaked a little bit, bringing in grandmother. So instead of wild and crazy times, it's a journey of discovery. [Grandmother] Mare (Marey Lee Boylen)'s story of her teenage years takes her from Alabama to England; because when Mare was a teenager, she ran away from home and joined the Army."

Coretta Scott King (Illustrator) Book Award
Winner
My People illustrated by Charles R. Smith Jr., written by Langston Hughes. Gineo Seo books, Atheneum Books for Young Readers.

Honor Book
The Negro Speaks of Rivers, illustrated by E. B. Lewis, written by Langston Hughes. Disney - Jump at the Sun Books, an imprint of Disney Book Group.

Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe New Talent Author Award
The Rock and the River by Kekla Magoon. Aladdin, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing Division.

Coretta Scott King – Virginia Hamilton Award for Lifetime Achievement
Walter Dean Myers

Pura Belpré (Illustrator) Award honoring a Latino writer and illustrator whose children’s books best portray, affirm and celebrate the Latino cultural experience
Winner:
Book Fiesta!: Celebrate Children's Day/Book Day; Celebremos El dia de los ninos/El dia de los libros illustrated by Rafael López, written by Pat Mora. Rayo, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.

Honor Books:
Diego: Bigger Than Life illustrated by David Diaz, written by Carmen T. Bernier-Grand. Marshall Cavendish Children
My Abuelita illustrated by Yuyi Morales, written by Tony Johnston. Harcourt Children’s Books, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Gracias Thanks, illustrated by John Parra, written by Pat Mora. Lee & Low Books Inc. "The book is both mirror and window; when you see a ladybug, is it window or mirror? When a boy gives gives thanks for his "Abuelita," is it window or mirror?"

Pura Belpré (Author) Award
Winner:
Return to Sender, by Julia Alvarez. Alfred A. Knopf, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books.

Honor Books
Diego: Bigger Than Life by Carmen T. Bernier-Grand, illustrated by David Diaz. Marshall Cavendish Children
Federico Garcia Lorca (Cuando Los Grandes Eran Pequenos/ When the Grown-Ups Were Children) by Georgina Lázaro, illustrated by Enrique S. Moreiro. Lectorum Publications Inc.

Schneider Family Book Award for books that embody an artistic expression of the disability experience
Django written and illustrated by Bonnie Christensen. Neal Porter Book, Roaring Brook Press. Award for best young children ages 0 to 10.

Anything But Typical by Nora Raleigh Baskin. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers. Award for middle grades (ages 11-13).

Marcelo in the Real World by Francisco X. Stork. Arthur A. Levine Books, an imprint of Scholastic Inc. Award for teens (ages 13 -18)

William C. Morris Award honors a book written by a first-time author for young adults
Winner:
Flash Burnout by L.K. Madigan. Houghton Mifflin, an imprint of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. "A perfect romance, written from a teenage boy's point of view."

Odyssey Award for excellence in audiobook production
Winner:
Louise, The Adventures of a Chicken, by Kate DiCamillo and narrated by Barbara Rosenblat. Live Oak Media.

Honor Audiobooks
In the Belly of the Bloodhound: Being an Account of a Particularly Peculiar Adventure in the Life of Jacky Faber produced by Listen & Live Audio, Inc., written by L. A. Meyer and narrated by Katherine Kellgren
Peace, Locomotion produced by Brilliance Audio, written by Jacqueline Woodson and narrated by Dion Graham
We Are the Ship: The Story of Negro League Baseball
produced by Brilliance Audio, written by Kadir Nelson and narrated by Dion Graham.

Theodor Seuss Geisel Award for most distinguished beginning reader book
Winner:
Benny And Penny in The Big No-No written and illustrated by Geoffrey Hayes. TOON BOOKS, a division of RAW Junior, LLC.

Honor Books:
I Spy Fly Guy written and illustrated by Tedd Arnold. Scholastic
Little Mouse Gets Ready written and illustrated by Jeff Smith. TOON BOOKS, a division of RAW Junior, LLC
Mouse & Mole, Fine Feathered Friends written and illustrated by Wong Herbert Yee. Houghton Mifflin Books for Children, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Pearl and Wagner: One Funny Day written by Kate McMullan, illustrated by R. W. Alley. Dial Books for Young Readers, a division of Penguin Young Readers Group.

Margaret A. Edwards Award for lifetime achievement in writing for young adults
Jim Murphy

Robert F. Sibert Medal for most distinguished informational book for children
Winner:
Almost Astronauts: 13 Women Who Dared to Dream by Tanya Lee Stone. Candlewick Press. "It's refreshing to read a book that has such a firm, enthusiastic, unapologetic point of view. It's also a gutsy way to tell the book because not everyone is going to like that position taking with their nonfiction."

Honor Books:
The Day-Glo Brothers by Chris Barton, illustrated by Tony Persiani. Charlesbridge
Moonshot: The Flight of Apollo 11 by Brian Floca. Richard Jackson/Atheneum Books for Young Readers
Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice by Phillip Hoose. Melanie Kroupa/Farrar Straus Giroux, an imprint of Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group.

YALSA Excellence in Nonfiction Award
Charles and Emma: The Darwins’ Leap of Faith by Deborah Heiligman. Henry Holt Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group.

Andrew Carnegie Medal for excellence in children’s video
Paul R. Gagne and Mo Willems of Weston Woods, producers of “Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!”

Mildred L. Batchelder Award for an outstanding children’s book translated from a foreign language and subsequently published in the United States
A Faraway Island by Annika Thor, translated by Linda Schenck. Delacorte Press, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books.

Honor Books
Big Wolf and Little Wolf by Nadine Brun-Cosme, illustrated by Olivier Tallec, translated by Claudia Bedrick. Enchanted Lion Books
Eidi by Bodil Bredsdorff, translated by Kathryn Mahaffy. Farrar Straus Giroux
Moribito II: Guardian Of The Darkness by Nahoko Uehashi, illustrated by Yuko Shimizu, translated by Cathy Hirano. Arthur A. Levine Books, an imprint of Scholastic Inc.

Alex Awards for the 10 best adult books that appeal to teen audiences

The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind: Creating Currents of Electricity and Hope by William Kamkwamba and Bryan Mealer. William Morrow, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers
The Bride's Farewell by Meg Rosoff. Viking Penguin, a member of Penguin Group
Everything Matters! by Ron Currie, Jr. Viking Penguin, a member of Penguin Group
The Good Soldiers by David Finkel. Sarah Crichton Books, an imprint of Farrar, Straus and Giroux
The Kids Are All Right: A Memoir by Diana Welch and Liz Welch with Amanda Welch and Dan Welch. Harmony Books, an imprint of the Crown Publishing Group, a division of Random House
The Magicians: A Novel by Lev Grossman, published by Viking Penguin, a member of Penguin Group
My Abandonment by Peter Rock. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Soulless (The Parasol Protectorate) by Gail Carriger. Orbit, an imprint of Hachette Book Group
Stitches: A Memoir by David Small. W.W. Norton & Company
Tunneling to the Center of the Earth: Stories (P.S.) by Kevin Wilson. Harper Perennial, an imprint of HarperCollins

May Hill Arbuthnot Honor Lecture Award recognizing an author, critic, librarian, historian or teacher of children's literature, who then presents a lecture at a winning host site
Lois Lowry


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

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