Tuesday, August 31, 2010

OH NO! Eyewitness Charity Auction has begun!

Grace, Meghan, and I all have pieces up for auction this week! Click here to bid on our pieces for the Eyewitness reports auction. This profits from this fundraiser go entirely to support 826LA, a fabulous literacy organization. Bid on an original piece of children's book art and support a great cause!

This is what my piece looks like:

Monday, August 30, 2010

Sob inducers

A while ago Josie Levitt posted about crying in public over a book on the Publisher's Weekly Shelf Talker blog. I'm proud to say that she was sobbing over one of the books I edited, Sorta Like a Rock Star by Matthew Quick, a book I had also sobbed over in public the first time I read it.

Sorta Like a Rock Star is one of two books that I've edited in my career that have made me more than just cry--they've made me sob. Actual, stomach-heaving sobs. Not just moved, not just having tears well up in my eyes, but really cry. The other book was Rubber Houses by Ellen Yeomans.

I was remembering some of the books I sobbed over as a kid. The ones that stick out in my mind are My Brother Sam is Dead, Where the Red Fern Grows, Charlotte's Web, Summer of My German Soldier, and A Taste of Blackberries. I remember the sobbing, the streaming tears, the nose blowing and crumpled tissues. I remember feeling simultaneously anguished and reborn when I finished the books. God, I loved that feeling. A big cry feels good, particularly if it's not my own life's tragedies that I'm crying at.

As I always tell agents and announce at writer's conferences, I'm a sucker for books that make me cry. I just finished reading a wonderful book, One Crazy Summer by Rita Garcia-Williams. And yes, I had tears streaming down my face while on the train--although no actually sobbing this time, probably because they were tears of joy, rather than agony. But if you want sobbing, The Book Thief is your book.

I marvel at the skill of these authors to write such real characters, so real that I suffer true pain at the loss that the characters suffer, or pain when I lose them altogether. That's something.

What are some of your favorite sob inducers?

this is my contribution for the auction...

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Freelancer's vacation

I haven't taken a going-away vacation,

or, in fact, ANY declared,I'm-not-working-for-two-weeks time in 5 years. Freelancers! What about you? Who else hasn't?

So I declare from now until the Tuesday after Labor Day TIME OFF. Time out. If you (like me) can't go anyplace, make a vacation at home -- do things you don't normally do. Me, I baked a peach pie yesterday (gluten free) which the guests declared the best they'd ever eaten.

Today I'm going to the beach.

And every day from now until the Tuesday after Labor Day, I'll do something really fun -- probably, by the water. Noel Streatfeild writes in both her autobiography and her Bell family books about a holiday by the sea, "a mountain top of a holiday; one by which all the others could be measured. Afterwards the family all knew what was meant by 'nearly as good as St.Anne's.' " (Most of their holidays were rather horrible for the children: their father lived in a dreamland where everyone loved swimming in cold English water under grey skies, lips blue all day (the picture below is me and my siblings at an English beach -- but our parents didn't make us swim! Neither did anyone else's! Most kids didn't even wear bathingsuits!),

as much as he did, and relished staying in out of the way cottages with no books, no games, nothing at all for the children to do. The children's real feelings would slip out afterwards in casual comments:
"Isn't it glorious to be home after that awful Poppy-land!" or, when drinking some new medicine:
"It's nearly as nasty as Derbyshire.") But this was a real, true, happy family vacation.

Of all the places my family went -- and as anyone who's read Blow Out the Moon knows, we travelled a lot -- OUR best vacation was when we drove to Okracoke Island, in those days only accessible by four-car ferry (just visible in the small picture, very clear if you look at it full-size)

and inhabited by not very many people and a herd of wild ponies. One of the many highlights of the vacation -- to us, at least -- was when one

stuck his head through our (closed) car window, smashing it and not hurting himself one bit. Grace is on Okracoke as I write this: Grace, I hope your time there is as happy as ours was!

As for my vacation: no babysitting, no client work, and if, or as they say in math, IFF ("if and only if") I want to, my own writing. I bet this will bring something new to it, whether I write or not over the vacation.

"One should lie empty, open, choiceless as a beach, waiting for a gift from the sea." --Anne Morrow Lindbergh (probably mis-spelling her name, but the vacation starts now, with not worrying about things like that!)

Friday, August 27, 2010

POETRY FRIDAY: Fireflies by Marilyn Kallet

Sorry I’ve been missing in action the past two Fridays. I was away on vacation at a beautiful waterfront house on Westport Island in Maine. Except for one rainy day—we had glorious weather. It was warm and dry. My daughter and her husband and two close friends came up for the weekend—and other friends joined us later in the week. We cooked and ate outside and chatted and laughed and enjoyed the view and the sound of lobster boats putt-putting around and put together jigsaw puzzles and played Scrabble and bocci. I also had an opportunity to do some reading and crossword puzzles. It was a relaxing and fun-filled vacation.

As we near the end of summer, I thought I’d post this lovely poem about fireflies and memories that I found at Ted Kooser’s site American Life in Poetry.

By Marilyn Kallet

In the dry summer field at nightfall,
fireflies rise like sparks.
Imagine the presence of ghosts
flickering, the ghosts of young friends,
your father nearest in the distance.
This time they carry no sorrow,
no remorse, their presence is so light.
Childhood comes to you,
memories of your street in lamplight,
holding those last moments before bed,...

You can read the rest of the poem here.


At Wild Rose Reader, I have a post titled Going Back to School…with Poetry 2010. The post includes a brief review of and excerpts from Betsy Franco’s book MESSING AROUND ON THE MONKEY BARS AND OTHER SCHOOL POEMS FOR TWO VOICES—as well as links to my reviews of other school-themed poetry books and my original school-themed poems.

The Poetry Friday Roundup is at Book Aunt.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010


I was thrilled to receive from Albert Whitman the beloved Flicka, Dicka, Ricka & Snipp, Snapp, Snurr books that I adored from childhood. If you recall, they are the books that inspired Ling & Ting! They are actually still in print--do you remember them now? Seeing them is like seeing a bit of my childhood all over again.

I forgot about "Flicka, Dicka, Ricka and the Strawberries"...I think Ling and Ting are going to have to go berry picking in their next adventure!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Desmond is out today, hurray!

As I mentioned last week I've been busy putting together materials for my new book, out today! Lots of fun things are in the works, I'll keep you posted as I put materials on my web site and plan events this fall to get the word out about the book.

If you'll be in the San Francisco area, I'll be signing books at Kepler's in Menlo Park on October 3rd. More on that soon!

Did I mention I'm temporarily moving to San Francisco for 9 months? So that is happening too. In one week. This is what my studio presently looks like:

Also, I am seven months pregnant. This is what I presently look like:

Its been a busy summer to say the least. Looking forward to an eventful fall!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Ode to Twitter

Last week, I mentioned that I had passed my one-year anniversary of joining Twitter. To commemorate this important landmark, I thought I'd highlight a few of Twitter's benefits, in no particular order:

Research and Advice
-I was working on a book and the question arose as to whether students in an illustration set during gym class should be wearing gym clothes or their regular school clothes. The students were in third grade. I sent out a Tweet, and within 20 minutes had received over six responses from around the country saying that third graders don't change into gym clothes.
-I asked for recommendations for iPhone apps, and received lots of great tips, including Lose It, Scramble 2, and Paper Toss.

Food Recommendations
-discovered a new poutine restaurant in NYC after seeing someone tweet a picture of their almost-consumed poutine.
-after I took a picture of my soup dumpling from Joe's Shanghai, an author asked where it was from, and then she went and tried it out.

-an author saw my Tweet about doing the MS Ride--it turned out that her mother suffers from multiple sclerosis, and so she, her brother, and her father all donated to the cause. I received at least one other unrelated donation as a result of my Tweet. (BTW, I'm doing the ride again this year, you can donate here. My goal is to raise $550, and ride 50 miles. Please sponsor me!)

-I've found two interns through Twitter--in both cases, someone saw my Tweet and then referred a candidate to me. I've actually found many candidates through Twitter!
-We've also hired two editorial assistants who have come directly or indirectly via one of my tweets on Twitter.

-I interact with other editors, agents, authors, illustrators, librarians, etc. via Twitter.
-I participate occasionally in several different Twitter chats, including #Yalitchat and #kidlitchat.
-I went to a Tweet-up at ALA Midwinter.

News (publishing and otherwise)
-I follow news people and magazines (Slate.com, NYTimes, PW, SLJ, Entertainment Weekly, Gothamist, Roger Ebert, etc.), and follow links and headlines.
-I know very quickly which celebrity has died (or is rumored to have died). Of particular note this past year: Patrick Swayze, Michael Jackson, and Britney Murphy.

-I tweet reviews, awards, and other good news about the books I edit (and other books I love)
-I've set up an automatic tweet when a new post is up on both my personal blog, and the Blue Rose Girls. Oftentimes, seeing my own update on Twitter has alerted me to the fact that one of my fellow Blue Rose Girls has posted something new!
-I helped organize and participated in a Twitter chat in honor of the paperback release of Geektastic: Stories from the Nerd Herd using the hashtag #geektastic.

Keeping up with friends/Entertainment
-this is yet another way to know what my friends are up to, and vice versa.
-I love tweeting about events and reading other people's tweets who I know are watching/experiencing the same thing: for example, the season finale of Dexter, or an awards show like the Oscars or Grammys.

Creating a record
-While writing this post, I went back to a site where I've archived all of my Tweets. As I Tweeted last night, I found myself sucked in--it was like reading an old journal, except the entries are much shorter, of course! I loved reading my tweets from my Japan and Hong Kong trip last year.
-I've tweeted several live events, such as the Printz Awards, Happyface book launch party, and Children's Choice Awards.

Twitter isn't for everyone, but I love it. Although I'll admit, I'm perhaps just a wee bit addicted and spend a little more time checking Twitter than I should. But if you haven't tried Twitter, I'd suggest at least checking it out. I have a feeling it'll be around for a while. And who knows what benefits you'll find--others have found all sorts of uses for Twitter. Some people have even used Twitter to lose weight!

Saturday, August 21, 2010


In honor of my book POP! getting in the NYT...

I've finally gotten my act together and finished up some of the web pages for the book.

So this is what you have to chose from, though I haven't finished the coloring pages section yet. Okay, I haven't even started it yet. but I'll get to it! (To see the section click here)

If any of you have any good ideas of what else I can do let me know. I was thinking about having some sort of contest - like a bubble gum blowing contest. Send in videos of you blowing in bubbles and you win a book or some such. But I don't know how to make it work exactly. So I don't know.

So that's what's happening for now.


Sex vs. Race for the Under Four Set

Jake is the only child I babysit for who loves to read, and at his request, we go to the library every day. We both pull books off the shelves, then he decides if they're worth examining further. We put all the books that pass the first test on the table, and read the first few pages--then they go either into the Yes pile or the No pile.

He loved Ling and Ting, even though it's about people he normally refuses to read about: GIRLS. He got all the humor -- I could tell by his pleased, amused smile at the end of each little story. And I know he loved the book because before we'd even left the library he'd had me read it all twice.

He didn't comment on the characters being Asian, and my guess is that he didn't notice, and I KNOW it wasn't something that had anything to do with whether or not he wanted to read the book. He's three, almost four; maybe when he gets older, this will change; but maybe -- and books like Ling and TIng may have something to do with how it all comes out, for him and others? -- it won't.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

One week to Desmond!

Next week Disappearing Desmond will be on book shelves at last! I've spent the past few weeks madly making materials that teachers can use in their classroom in the new school year as I think its the perfect back to school book.

Curious City marketing has been helping me to put together a classroom/library activity kit that I'm really excited about. Desmond is a shy cat, who goes to great lengths to blend into the background so he won't be noticed. For example:

Which, of course, is not always very effective...

We've all seen kids like that in the classroom, right? The book is perfect for helping those wallflowers gain confidence and make friends. The kit will have "get to know you" activities that can be used to in conjunction with the book, and will be available for download from my web site very soon.

We are also working on a Disappearing Desmond Master of Disguise sheet that kids can use to disguise themselves just like Desmond. Here was my first draft:

After consulting with Curious City they suggested it be black and white so that teachers and librarians could easily xerox it. Also, the leaf border kept me from fitting as much on there as I wanted to, so this is version number two:

I'm still tweaking the cutouts and testing everything out...

Do you recognize me?

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

acting the book

Check out this completely adorable post! A children's summer theater program was used Where the Mountain Meets the Moon with delightful results. Now, if I could only get them to talk to Broadway...

Monday, August 16, 2010

Making Readers and Eleven years and counting

I've been on vacation for two weeks, first to CA to visit my parents, and then to CO to visit G's family. G has EIGHT nieces and nephews. Four in each family, all between the ages of 11 months and 11 years. They get excited when I give them books, and they asked me to read them three picture books in a row (Shark vs. Train, I Can Be Anything, and Sergio Saves the Game) but as far as I can see and have been told, none of them are "real" readers, in the sense that I'm sure most of us are real readers, as in, genuinely love reading, and read a lot. Sure, most of them like the occasional book--they're all on a WIMPY KID kick right now. But other than that, they don't seem to like to read for pleasure. They'd much rather watch TV, play video games, or play outside. None are readers, that is, except for one. And what's especially thrilling about that one reader is that the last time I saw her, maybe two years ago, she wasn't a reader. But she is now. Hurray!

It gives me hope that one day, a few of the others will become readers, too. They will if I have anything to do with it!


In other news, today is my eleven-year anniversary of starting at Little, Brown. Happy Anniversary to me! If you missed it, here's my look back on my ten-year anniversary, and other "look backs" are here and here.

Some highlights career-wise from the past year:

-Grace won the Newbery Honor for Where the Mountain Meets the Moon, on top of numerous other awards, and also hit the NY Times bestseller list for the first time.
-Peter Brown won the E.B. White Read-Aloud Award for The Curious Garden, as well as Illustrator of the Year, and spent 26 or so weeks (I lost count) on the NY Times bestseller list.
-Shark vs. Train was a NY Times bestseller
-I acquired many amazing books, including Libba Bray's The Diviners series, Laini Taylor's Daughter of Smoke and Bone, Barry Lyga's I Hunt Killers, three books by Grace Lin, Justina Chen's next YA Return to Me, Karen Healey's Summerton, and Matthew Quick's Boy 21, Jerry Spinelli's picture book Mama Seeton's Whistle, plus another YA novel by a debut author that hasn't been announced yet because we don't have a title yet!
-My assistant of over four years was promoted to Associate Editor, and I now have a new Editorial Assistant
-I hired two interns
-I joined Twitter--a year ago yesterday. Happy Twitterversary to me!
-I worked on, edited, and published numerous books that I love and am so proud of.

Will I still be a children's book editor another eleven years from now? Only time will tell.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Two BRGs in the NY Times Book Review today!

Congratulations to Grace and Meghan -- and good for the NY TIMES, too, for GETTING IT. That's not always the case with reviews!

Read the reviews (and see better pictures) for POP here and LING AND TING here.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

What's the most torturous part of writing?

Grace wrote awhile ago that first drafts were "the most torturous part" of writing for her, and explained why and how she broke through the barrier.

They definitely are for me, too: revising I can brute through, whether I'm tired, whether I have an idea or not--but that first draft! In the past, anyway, I haven't handled first drafts as well as Grace does. I LOVE writing first drafts while I'm inspired; but there always comes a point when I am not, and when that happens, I babble. I just write nervously, the way I might once have talked nervously at a party (I've since learned to be quiet in those circumstances).

But when it comes to writing, I babble, then get very discouraged by how awful what I've written is, so discouraged that I sometimes stop. This is the worst thing to do! It's better to just sit there, not writing, until I think of something true to say, something I want to say, something I find interesting. And if nothing comes up: just sit -- and eventually, something that moves the story along again will come to me....it doesn't have to be great, just something with some life (energy? sincerity?) to it -- something that's truly part of the story, that is. An irrelevant scene or detail -- no matter how charming -- doesn't count. And it definitely doesn't have to be well-written --writing (including details to bring the scene to life for the reader the way it is for me) I can fix later, too. But it has to be something *I* find interesting and believable-- something alive to me that keeps the story moving.

A side note -- I'm having a hard time defining exactly what I mean by "alive" or "sincere" -- it's that quality in a book that makes it feel real while you're reading it....that makes you almost forget that you're reading words on a page and feel "in" the world of the book. Its opposite is contrived--when you can see what the writer is trying to do or force; and a lot of modern writing feels contrived to me. MINE does, when I'm babbling and forcing! And that's the hard thing about first drafts -- if the book is ever going to be any good, some part of it has to just COME. It can be worked on and fixed later, but if there isn't some spark of this inspiration or whatever it is, the book will never be any good.

I think one reason writing every day, at the same time, is helpful is that after awhile your mind learns that you're going to be sitting there waiting, so it might as well come up with something. If it doesn't, it's not going to get to go to the beach or have a little snack: it's going to be just sitting there, facing the page (not email, not a Web site, not cute dresses on ebay, the page that needs to move the characters along.

I really hope to be able to report at some future point that I did this and it worked....but in the meantime: What's the most torturous part of writing for you?

Friday, August 13, 2010

fashion fight!

So, On the Red Carpet at ALA has put up their Fashion Statement movie showcasing the attendees' finery. Viewers can vote on their fashion favorites. Even though I am the first one showcased, I was the last interview of the evening--it was just about midnight when I was filmed which is why I am babbling incoherently. I am never very good on camera anyway, but at that time of night I was especially unintelligible. I tried to tell the story of the dress but it came out rather jumbled. Sorry, Cindy!

Anyway, I think I am at a disadvantage for the fashion favorite voting. Not only am I inarticulate, I am so short that no one ever gets to see my whole dress. The skirt is the prettiest part, don't you think? Boo.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

VIDA: Women in Literary Arts

I've joined this exciting new group as part of the children's literature committee, invited by children's author Laurel Snyder. Being a woman writer is complex no matter what genre one is writing and I'm glad that a group has formed to address those issues.

This is an e-mail from the co-founder of the organization, Cate Marvin:

Dear Friend,

It’s quite strange to realize it was only a year ago I sat hunkered down in my sweaty apartment writing an email that seemed to blast right out of my head.

If you received this missive, you’ll know I’d spent the evening folding a LOT of laundry – an endless chore made worse by the fact I was not only folding my laundry, but also that of my 8 month old daughter (any parent will attest that the act of sorting a mountain of brightly patterned shirts, socks and pajamas is in itself a certain hell). After projecting myself into the mindset of the narrator of Tillie Olsen’s seminal short story “I Stand Here Ironing,” I allowed myself a couple glasses of wine. This, I believe, was a key factor in my committing the most grievous of email sins.

For not only did I send my email to numerous people— worse, I concluded my missive with a most lamentable statement: “Feel free to forward this to anyone and everyone you think might be interested.”

This email, titled: “As I Stood Folding Laundry: Women’s Writing Now,” was spurred by my disgruntlement over the fact an AWP proposal I’d submitted--addressing a rhetorical means of dissent in contemporary American women’s poetry--had been rejected. In my email I worried aloud about whether this panel had been dismissed because of its distinctly feminist overtones, while also noting certain trends I’d observed in the literary world: specifically how male literary achievements are so often deemed more important than those of women with regard to publication, criticism, reviews, awards, etc.

While this disparity had long seemed obvious to me, I’d never before had the nerve to speak to it openly.

My email went on to describe my fantasy of creating an association that would serve to unite women writers, across genres, aesthetics, ethnicities and generations. Indeed, in the simple act of conceiving such an organization’s potential, I got so fired up that evening it seemed to me perfectly reasonable that I send my thoughts to every female writer I knew.

The following morning my in-box was full.

In less than twelve hours, I’d already received numerous replies—some from female poets I considered so awe-inspiringly important I was stunned to see their names appear on my computer’s screen; others from women writers I’d never met, who wrote compelling accounts of their own frustrations, each one expressing a desire to create a national forum for the very issues my email had addressed.

I was awed by the response. But I was also afraid. Because I recognized that I’d unwittingly taken on a responsibility to remain true to all that I’d written only the night before. I realized I would not only need to acknowledge the immediate support with which my proposal had been received, but that I must also embrace it.

I discovered that it was due to the poet Erin Belieu’s initiative that my email reached the astonishing number of people it did. It was she who sent my email to some forty established female poets, who then sent it on to the female writers they knew. It was due to Erin’s initial enthusiasm that my email went, as they say, viral, ending up on blogs, listservs and in newspapers throughout the country.

So it only seemed fair to turn to the culprit who had so thoroughly disseminated my thoughts. I didn’t in fact know Erin Belieu well personally, but I knew she had a reputation for gumption and guts, something this fantasy organization was going to need to get off the ground.

One short phone call later and I now had a co-director. It was that day that Erin and I co-founded the organization that began as WILLA, and has now transformed into a different name--VIDA: Women in Literary Arts.

[To create a more distinct identity and preempt possible legal issues, WILLA 
is now VIDA. We are confident that we've already begun to grow into our new 
name and feel that "VIDA" better reflects the vitality of our organization.]

So I write to you a year later from a poorly air-conditioned room while suffering the advances of a particularly persistent mosquito. I still have laundry that needs sorting. However, I can say that my life as a female writer been not only been invigorated, but deeply altered, in the best sense of the word, by the email I almost regretted sending a year ago.

VIDA’s had a great first year. A few of many highlights include our mention in the New York Times for calling out Publisher’s Weekly “Top Ten Best Books of 2009,” and their egregiously “female-free” list. VIDA also hosted a number of readings and conversations, including our AWP Evening of Burlesque, Roller Derby And Literature, which turned out to be just as thought provoking and fun as we’d wanted our debut to be. We’ve recently been asked by AWP to be a sponsor of next year’s conference in Washington DC and are busily scheming to make our follow up just as memorable.

There are many more things under way for VIDA this year: we have a spiffy new website and blog (www.vidaweb.org) with articles and features you’ll want to check out as well as a new Facebook page where you can find out about VIDA events and join the thousands of people there who’ve entered into our conversation. We’re also moving along in planning a national conference for those who want to support and know more about literature written by women. It’s heavy-lifting, but we’re devoted to making this enormous and financially complicated project happen. More information will be coming about this soon.

Thank you for reading this. I hope that you will once again: “Feel free to forward this to anyone and everyone you think might be interested.”

Your friend,


Cate Marvin, Associate Professor
Department of English
College of Staten Island, CUNY

Co-Director, VIDA: Women in Literary Arts
Co-Director, VIDA: Women in Literary Arts

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

North Andover Public Library on Wednesday

This Wednesday (the 11th) I'll be giving a presentation at the North Andover Public Library to celebrate the Go Green theme in Massachusetts libraries this summer. I'll be talking about the making of What Can You Do with an Old Red Shoe? and showing lots of sketches and artwork. Come join us if you can!

The Details:

2:00 to 3:00 pm
Stevens Memorial Library
345 Main St. North Andover, MA 01845

OH NO! Eyewitness Charity Auction

Like Grace, I recently sent off my piece for author/illustrator extraordinaire Dan Santat's Eyewitness charity auction for 826LA, featuring his new book OH NO!. He sent the manuscript for this very clever story to a variety of illustrators to interpret in their own way. Check out all the pieces here!

The work will be shown at the Nucleus Gallery in LA from August 14-17th, and then auctioned off on ebay beginning on August 23rd. Don't forget to check out the book too, which Dan illustrated brilliantly!

Monday, August 09, 2010


This is a painting I am doing for my friend (and amazing illustrator/author) Dan Santat's Eyewitness Auction to benefit 826LA. It's a great charity and I'm glad to be a part of it but I have to admit that participating in it has been a bit of a lesson for me.

Because this is my 2nd painting for it. My first one I painted hurriedly while in the midst of writing my first draft of "Dumpling Days." And it was bad. Really bad. But I just couldn't paint anything of quality while consumed by first draft concentration as well as schedule (I was already a month late). But it was such a great cause that I wanted to help with that I threw my subpar painting into an envelope and mailed it out.

But it gnawed at me. I realized it wasn't even that the charity deserved more (though that would've been a more selfless reason), it was a point of personal pride. I was embarrassed to think that people would see my name on that piece of artwork. As the days passed, it bothered me more and more and finally I asked Dan if he could withdraw my piece. Which he did quite graciously.

So, as soon as my first draft was finished (and after I bought my cherry sheets) I got to work on a new one. I'm glad to say I'm much happier with this one. It's not my greatest work (unfortunately. the subject matter of chaos & destruction is not my forte) but I am not ashamed of it and I'm proud it's a part of the project.

However, this was a learning experience for me. I love creating art for good causes, it's something I will always feel strongly about. But, I've also realized that I need to be able to do it right. I have to be able to devote the time to it or else it's better to decline. People have asked me if I ever plan to revive Robert's Snowflakes and while there are many parts of me that want to, I realize that all of me has to be dedicated for it to happen. And, right now, there are parts of me that want to do other things instead.

Saturday, August 07, 2010

"It could have happened"

For Adam's birthday, he has a party and all that but he and I always have our own celebration, too, and we always do the same thing. We go to the beach -- always, East Beach on Watch Hill (picture to come). The waves are huge and we swim. Then, we have dinner -- always, at the same restaurant. Dinner always ends with icecream, and then (it is his birthday after all) we walk to The Candy Shack, a store that sells nothing but, as Adam put it when he was six, "pure candy."

Adam begins Middle School at the end of August, and is looking forward to "more freedom." At his current school, "the teachers watch us every second."
"What if you have to go to the bathroom?"
"Someone stands in the hallway and watches us."

He also complained about reading. They "make us" read, and "don't let us" choose the books -- instead, they assign them. He said he was glad that they hadn't had to finish the book that was assigned at the end of May (because school ended). I asked him what he had read this year, and he said,
"I can't remember. I hated all of it. I only remember books I like."
Pressed, he said that there was a lot of fantasy. He "hates" fantasy.

I asked if he had ever read a book he enjoyed, and he said he was reading one now, a "non-fiction" book called ELEVEN. It's about a boy who lives with his grandfather and (while he's looking for presents) finds a newspaper article that someone with his name was kidnapped when he was three. So the boy thinks maybe the person he THINKS is his grandfather kidnapped him, and (helped by a girl in his class) decides to find out.
"This really happened?"
"WEll -- no, but it could have happened."

I said something like "That's fiction -- it's called realistic fiction," and he said that was the kind of book he liked.

I'm not claiming this is a trend or anything -- Adam is unusual in many ways; but lots of times I think all kids now want to read is YA or fantasy, and it's enormously reassuring to me that there are children who like books about things that could have happened -- and that those events are so real to them that they count as non-fiction.

And at the risk of ruining the punchline: if any teachers are reading this, is is true that teachers assign only ONE book? And if it is, couldn't there be a list, with books from different genres on it?

Friday, August 06, 2010

A New ALA Award for Children's Poetry??? What Do You Think?

At Wild Rose Reader today, I have Children’s Poetry and the Cinderella Syndrome—which I originally posted at Blue Rose Girls in October of 2006 before I became a regular contributor to this blog. I was inspired to re-post my two-part article after reading Betsy Bird’s Baby Wants Another New Award: Poetry Time!—in which she discusses the idea of a new ALA/ALSC award for children's poetry. A number of people—including some children’s poets—have left comments about the poetry award at Betsy’s post at the School Library Journal site.

I thought it might be a good idea to continue the discussion of an ALA/ALSC award for children’s poetry—and to find out people’s opinions on the subject. Do you think a new award for children's poetry would be a good idea? Let us know what YOU think. You can leave comments at Children's Poetry and the Cinderella Syndrome or at Baby Wants Another New Award: Poetry Time!


Laura has the Poetry Friday Roundup at Author Amok.

Thursday, August 05, 2010


I finally turned in the art for my book about Balto. Here are a few finishes. I took photos of a few more but didn't notice that they were blurry. Darn!