Monthly Archives: October 2010

She Loved Baseball

Posted by | October 28, 2010 | 1 Comment

Have you ever heard of Effa Manley?  Have you worked with kids who have heard of her?  No?  The upcoming picture book biography, SHE LOVED BASEBALL: THE EFFA MANLEY STORY by Audrey Vernick, illustrated by Don Tate, is a wonderful introduction to an iconic character.

In short, Effa Manley was the first woman inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.  She also owned and managed the Newark Eagles, a Negro League baseball team, and fought for civil rights.

We had the opportunity to ask Audrey Vernick a few questions about writing SHE LOVED BASEBALL:

What inspired you to write Effa Manley’s story?

I have so many different answers to this question. Let’s start with this: I love baseball and I love a good story.

When it was announced that Effa Manley was going to be the first woman inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame, I had no idea who she was. I began to research her life and was awed by what I learned. What impresses me most is the fact that she effected change, difficult change, repeatedly. Her life was a true example of Gandhi’s famous advice to “be the change you wish to see in the world.”

I also like that Effa’s life and her accomplishments will be brand new to most readers. I am floored by Rosa Parks’ courage whenever I think about what she did, but you just can’t surprise a child with her story; her name has become synonymous with what she did on that bus. I didn’t start writing SHE LOVED BASEBALL with this application in mind, but teachers have told me that they love having a relevant civil rights story with an ending that can still surprise a reader. I’ve been in classrooms where the students cheered when I read the last page.

What surprised you most during your research?

The civil rights component of Effa’s life surprised me most. I love that she helped organize a protest against a Harlem store that refused to hire black sales clerks. She wasn’t looking for a job there herself; she was simply and rightly outraged that a store that catered to a black clientèle would not even consider having black employees. She marched that picket line until the Harlem store owner was convinced to do the right thing.

A surprise of another type: I spent one day in the A. Bartlett Giamatti Research Center at the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY, looking through files, reviewing the microfiche of Effa Manley’s scrapbook, reading clippings. I happened to be sitting there when that year’s complete batch of baseball cards arrived, long before the start of baseball season. The library staff, which had been nothing but mature, helpful, and most definitely adult in helping me access all the information I needed, instantly morphed into a pack of over-the-top excited eight-year-olds, hooting and frantically grabbing at the box.

What do you feel we still have to learn from Effa Manley?

When you think about it from Effa Manley’s point of view, it’s almost amazing that she even bothered trying. She stood up to a white male store owner at a time when most black women would do no such thing. She insinuated herself into the all-male world of baseball and business and demanded respect. She insisted that Major League Baseball deal fairly with Negro League teams, rather than simply helping themselves to the cream of the crop without fair compensation. And she lobbied the Baseball Hall of Fame, which had only recognized black players in the major leagues, to pay proper respect to men who played their entire careers in the Negro Leagues. She fought for change, full speed ahead–aware that NO was the likely answer–but determined to fight for what was right. We could all use a little of that moxie.

Who do you pick to win the World Series this year?

I’m looking for the Yankees’ 28th here, but I’ll admit I felt more confident last year. (A.J. Burnett, I’m talking to you.)

BLOGGER’S NOTE: Of course, since this interview, the results of the playoffs have been sorted out.  To which Audrey responded to me: “It’s a sad, sad day” and changed her answer to “I had the Yankees. I’m out.”  Alas.  On the upside, I have friends on the West Coast who are going beserk over their good fortune!

Thanks, Audrey, for joining us!

Also, check out Audrey’s interview with School Library Journal as well as the book trailer for SHE LOVED BASEBALL:

Giveaway winners!

Posted by | October 28, 2010 | 4 Comments

We have the winners for our Teen Read Week giveaways!

Kiersten White giveaway: Stephanie, Casey (The Bookish Type), Becky B.

Adam Rex giveaway: Kathryn, Karla, jmartinlibrary

Aprilynne Pike giveaway: Analea, Meg Brown, Kalina Converse

Lauren Oliver giveaway: Karla, Bree, Lois Szymanski

Anna Godbersen giveaway: Sarah T., Jenn, Lauren M.

We’ll contact the winners soon for mailing addresses.

Congratulations to all and hope everyone enjoyed TRW!

KidLitCon 2010

Posted by | October 26, 2010 | 1 Comment

I’ll just come out and say it: KidLitCon 2010 was fantastic. It was this past weekend in Minneapolis, and I just had the best time. Organized by Andrew Karre, Ben Barnhart, and Brian Farrey, it began on Friday evening, Oct. 22nd, with a keynote conversation with The Merry Sisters of Fate (a.k.a. authors Maggie Stiefvater, Brenna Yovanoff, and Tessa Gratton). They were engaging, irreverent, interesting, and even inspirational.

Here are some other highlights (for me, anyway) at the conference:

  • Simultaneously tweeting at the conference (from @thepageturn at #kidlitcon), reading the tweets from my fellow conference-goers, AND reading tweets from the SLJ Leadership Summit in Chicago (#sljsummit).  It’s official: thanks to technology, we can be in more than one place at a time.
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  • Meeting Anne Ursu and Brian Farrey.  These are two new authors to Harper, publishing in Fall 2011 and 2012 respectively, and it was fun to meet them in person.  I also loved meeting Melissa Wiley, a Harper author who spoke on a panel about the importance of promoting the backlist.
  • One of my favorite quotes of the conference, asked during a panel discussion about publishing and blogging – Q: What can authors be doing? A: Writing.
  • Finding out that more than 1000 nominations have been made for the Cybils and that 200 bloggers applied for only 100 judging spots.  The Cybils are a force!  Another favorite quote (said by Jen Robinson): the Cybils are “the organic chicken nuggets of children’s books.”
  • The lively debate about the relationship between publishers and bloggers…(I was on the panel)…and then going back afterward to see what people were tweeting the whole time.
  • The point was made that blog readers are looking for books to love, not books to hate.  Which I agree with – isn’t that true for any reader?
  • The space at Open Book in downtown Minneapolis.  It was very modern, but the exposed brick all over made for such a warm, cozy environment.  I would host an event there in a second.

I could on forever, I could.  It was an amazing event.  But, alas, work calls.  Luckily,  I have many, many more places you can go to live vicariously through attendees’ experiences:

It was a pleasure meeting so many of you at the conference and I hope we can keep the conversation going and nurturing our community.  Feel free to contact us with any questions or comments.  Likewise, we’ll be adding your blogs to our blogroll (if they aren’t already) and we hope you’ll do the same!

And don’t forget: KidLitCon 2011 will be in the lovely city of Seattle and KidLitCon 2012 will be in my ‘hood, NYC!  Looking forward to it already!

Chronicles of Narnia Sweepstakes!

Posted by | October 22, 2010 | 3 Comments

We just launched a super sweepstakes with our friends at Walden Media and 20th Century Fox. Teachers and librarians, you can enter to win a trip to London for the World Premiere of The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, or win an advance screening of the film for your school or town. Click here to enter!

Turning the Page with…Anna Godbersen

Posted by | October 22, 2010 | 12 Comments

Final stretch of Teen Read Week!  I hope all of you are having a good time and doing lots of programming with your teens!

Our last guest this week is the fabulous Anna Godbersen, author of the bestselling Luxe series, which I am an unabashed fan of (as noted here).  Anna has a new series which just went on sale: BRIGHT YOUNG THINGS.

This time, it’s the Jazz Age in New York City: sizzling speakeasies, lavish parties in Long Island mansions, and red-hot jazz.  Not to mention bootleggers, crimes of passion, and Broadway.  The Gilded Age this is not, especially for three young women who find themselves entwined in each other’s lives in ways they never expected.

Anna agreed to sit down with us and be subjected to our shrewd line of questioning.  Given that she’s a woman who makes historical fiction one of the most deliciously wicked genres in town, let’s see how she handles herself:

What time is your alarm clock set for?

It’s not! I pretty much always wake up at eight anyway, but I’m my own boss, so if I sleep in, it just means I have to stay at my desk late. Plus sleeping in is such a simple, lovely indulgence, and making allowances for it is good for morale.

Favorite book from childhood?

I read The Mists of Avalon when I was twelve and got totally obsessed. Something about this magical, long time ago world really sparked my imagination in those days.

If you weren’t an author/illustrator, what job would you like to have?

Owner of the coziest restaurant in some sweet little Northern California town.

How many stamps are in your passport?

I have been to nine foreign countries, although I don’t have all the stamps (I just realized, to my chagrin) because they give you a new book when you renew. It really doesn’t look as romantic or impressive as, say, my parents’ from when they were bumming around Europe in the 1970s. Sigh. Once again, born too late.

Favorite word?

Dusk—so simple and short, just one little syllable, yet so evocative and dramatic!

What are you reading right now?

Evelyn Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited and Jonathan Franzen’s Freedom. I am a shameless one for overworking my handbag with multiple books.

Finish this sentence: “I always smile when…”

…the sun shines through an iron sky. Cheesy, but true.

Funniest (or most interesting) question from a fan?

A young woman asked me to tell her a secret about one of my characters once. And I love that! Because of course I have all these ideas about my characters’ personal histories, their appearance, the dreams they had the night before a scene, things that don’t make it to the page—and of course, readers do, too, and I like to think that there are these whole other universes of information about my fictional creations beyond the framework of facts I’ve set down in print.

Thanks, Anna, for answering our questions – you handled yourself as gracefully as Elizabeth Holland.  Readers, you know the drill by now: say hi to Anna on Facebook, check out The Luxe website, as well as the newly launched BRIGHT YOUNG THINGS website.

By now you know the drill: giveaway time!  We have three (3) hardcover copies of the new book and we’re dying to give them to our readers.  Tell us in the comments what makes you smile – cheesy or not – and you’ll be entered for a chance to win.  Now off you go!  To the comments!  But before you do…want a sneak peek at the cover shoot for BRIGHT YOUNG THINGS?  Of course you do!  Well, since you asked so nicely…

Turning the Page with…Lauren Oliver

Posted by | October 21, 2010 | 7 Comments

Teen Read Week continues!  Party on!

Today we have Lauren Oliver hanging out with us.  She’s the author of the New York Times bestselling debut BEFORE I FALL, the gorgeous and touching story of a young woman who dies in a car crash and must relive that day over and over – until, on the seventh day, she realizes what she must do to save herself.  Lauren also has a dystopian novel on-sale February 1st, 2011: DELIRIUM.

Everyone, welcome Lauren to what is, by now, our world-famous, much-feared hot seat!

What time is your alarm clock set for?

On the weekdays, 7:30 a.m. On the weekends, it really depends. 10 a.m., ideally, although some days it’s closer to noon!

Favorite book from childhood?

Matilda, by Roald Dahl.

If you weren’t an author/illustrator, what job would you like to have?

Well, I’d probably be an editor, but I would like to be a chef! Or a pop star.

How many stamps are in your passport?

Oof. A bunch. I love to travel. I travel internationally 5-6 times per year, I would say.

Favorite word?


What are you reading right now?

Two books: The Child in Time, by Ian McEwan, and The Replacements, by Brenna Yovanoff

Finish this sentence: “I always smile when…”

…my best friend laughs so hard that she snorts.

Funniest (or most interesting) question from a fan?

“When can I marry you?”

Thanks, Lauren, for answering our questions!  Readers, take a look at Lauren’s website, her blog (that features amazing writing advice and prompts), her Twitter, and her Facebook.

Now it’s contest time!  But I’m going to change things up today.  I will draw three random names for those who enter – and then those winners can choose whether they want a hardcover copy of BEFORE I FALL…or…an advanced readers copy of DELIRIUM.  You get to choose!  Leave a comment and tell us what you would do on your last day on Earth*.  You have until 11:59 p.m. EST on Saturday, October 23rd (the last day of Teen Read Week).  US and Canada only, please.

Also, don’t forget to check out our interviews and giveaways with Kiersten White, Adam Rex, and Aprilynne Pike!

* I’d go skydiving because I’ve never done it and have always wanted to.  And I’d seek out amazing food experiences.

Turning the Page with…Aprilynne Pike

Posted by | October 20, 2010 | 25 Comments

Teen Read Week continues here at the pageturn!

We’re thrilled to chat about SPELLS, Aprilynne Pike’s sequel to her New York Times bestselling debut WINGS.

Looking for read-alikes for popular series like TWILIGHT and Melissa Marr’s WICKED LOVELY series?  This is the ideal recommendation.  Laurel thinks she’s spending her summer at the Academy in Avalon to hone her faerie skills.  Of course, it’s never quite that easy and Laurel finds herself protecting her family and friends from a danger greater than anything she could imagine.

Aprilynne Pike happily agreed to our interview…but only because she had no idea how challenging, how difficult, how in-depth our questions would be.  Let’s see how she fares:

What time is your alarm clock set for?

6:15 AM, yuck! But I have two kids who commute to school so no sleeping in for me! At least not on school days. Sundays are another story altogether!

Favorite book from childhood?

THE TRUE CONFESSIONS OF CHARLOTTE DOYLE, by Avi. I honestly have no idea how many times I read that book. And sadly, the copy I have has an eighth grade teacher’s name on it . . . so I think I stole it. Sorry Mrs. Sockwell!!

If you weren’t an author/illustrator, what job would you like to have?

I am a doula (a professional labor coach) kind of on the side and if I weren’t an author I would do it much less on the side!

How many stamps are in your passport?

None! I got my very first passport last year to go to Toronto, Canada and was SO excited to get my first stamp! Then I went through customs and they didn’t stamp it!! So I have a passport, and I have been out of the country, but I have no proof!

Favorite word?

Snatch. I love having my characters snatch things, especially wishing they could snatch back the hasty words they just said! I have to remind myself, “Once per book, once per book.”:)

What are you reading right now?

I am reading PETER AND THE STARCATCHERS, by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson, with my kids. I have to say, I am really impressed with the tight plotting! I am in the middle of drafting the last book of my own series and as I am writing I find myself thinking, “Is this plot point as good as the twists in PETER AND THE STARCATCHERS?”

Finish this sentence: “I always smile when…”

I see someone carrying my book! I don’t see it very often, but when I do I get this sappy grin on my face and probably scare the unknowing people around me.

Funniest (or most interesting) question from a fan?

I have had this one twice, actually. Two people have asked me if I drew my own cover image. There’s just no nice way to say, “Um, sweetie, it’s a photograph.” And even if it wasn’t, trust me, you don’t want to see anything I drew on a book cover. Unless maybe it’s a cheesy horror novel. . . Hmmmm…

Thanks, Aprilynne, for bravely answering our questions!  Readers, check out Aprilynne’s blog, her website, Facebook, and Twitter (@AprilynnePike).

We also recommend reading Aprilynne’s fantastic writing tips over at Inkpop!

We’ve got three (3) copies of SPELLS to give away to three lucky folks.  Inspired by Aprilynne, we want to know what book you took (unconsciously or not) from your teacher or librarian as a kid*.  You have until 11:59 p.m. EST on Saturday, October 23rd (the last day of Teen Read Week).  US and Canada only, please.

* Mine was AMY AND LAURA by Marilyn Sachs.  Sorry, Ms. Weldon!

Turning the Page with…Adam Rex

Posted by | October 19, 2010 | 4 Comments

I know I’m biased but still… FAT VAMPIRE is one of my favorite covers of 2010:

Written by the always clever, Adam Rex, FAT VAMPIRE has been dubbed a “never coming of age story” about an awkward, geeky guy who, thanks to a bite from a random vampire, is cursed to spend eternity overweight and fifteen.  But like any normal teenager, all he wants is to fit in with his peers and snag the girl of his dreams.  Not your average, everyday vampire story, this is about growing up, relationships, and identity…all while being viciously hilarious too.

We asked Adam if he could stand the heat from our grueling list of questions and, after the blood drained from his face (bad pun intended), he finally agreed he could take it.  Here goes:

What time is your alarm clock set for?

Alarm clock?

Favorite book from childhood?

I’m going to go with The Monster at the End of this Book, Starring Lovable, Furry Old Grover. It’s like a Kid’s First Postmodern Reader.  As an adult my favorite picture book has become Where the Wild Things Are, but while I remember liking that book years ago, nothing could engage my young mind like an illustration of Grover hastily bricking up a spread in a vain attempt to keep me from turning pages.  I was always too strong for him, you see.

If you weren’t an author/illustrator, what job would you like to have?

Maybe film director.  Maybe animator.  These answers feel like cheats because they’re still in the same vein of visual storytelling.  I’m not qualified to do anything else.  Maybe I’d go back to school and become a librarian, if they’d have me.

How many stamps are in your passport?

Hmm.  Only six, from the US, Canada, Mexico, and Spain.  I blame the governments of the world for not consistently stamping, and our own government for making me get a new passport three years ago.  My last one was wicked full of stamps.

But here’s the answer to the question I think you’re really asking: Canada, Mexico, England, France, Germany, Spain, Italy, Greece, Taiwan, and Japan.

Favorite word?

Baby.  No–Monkey.  Or maybe I ought to pick something with a little more meat on its bones–effluvia.  Verisimilitude.

Oh, they’re all great.  Don’t make me choose.

What are you reading right now?

Salinger’s short stories (only ever read Bananafish before), and A People’s History of the United States.

Finish this sentence: “I always smile when…”

…I see a baby or small dog.

Funniest (or most interesting) question from a fan?

A kid once asked me if I had a REAL job.  I thought that was pretty funny.  The answer was no.

Thanks, Adam, for answering our questions!  Readers, don’t forget to check out Adam’s website and his blog.  And because we think it’s hilarious, check out Mac Barnett’s video about FAT VAMPIRE:

Now’s the time when we give things away!  I have three (3) copies of FAT VAMPIRE and you could win one of them.  Answer this in the comments: if you were bitten by a vampire, at what age would you want to be stuck for eternity?  You have until 11:59 p.m. EST on Saturday, October 23rd (the last day of Teen Read Week).  US and Canada only, please.

Turning the Page with…Kiersten White

Posted by | October 18, 2010 | 19 Comments

Happy Teen Read Week, all!  This week we’ll be featuring our fabulous teen authors so you can get to know them a little better.  Today, we’ve got Kiersten White up to bat.  She’s the author of the New York Times bestselling debut novel, PARANORMALCY:

PARANORMALCY is the story of Evie who works for the International Paranormal Containment Agency (IPCA)…but all she wants is to be a normal teenager.  When she finds herself stuck at the center of a dark faerie prophecy, her dream of a normal life seems further away than ever.  Evie is snappy and sassy – if you haven’t met her already, then you must.  She’s one of my favorite recent heroines.

We recently had a chance to chat via email with Kiersten…little did she know that she was about to be put to the test by our interrogatory skeelz:

What time is your alarm clock set for?

7:14, which is the absolute latest down to the minute I can wake up, make my daughter’s lunch, wake her up, get her ready, wake my son up, and drag them both out the door to get her to school on time.  A morning person I am not.

Favorite book from childhood?

I loved the Pippi Longstocking series (and wanted to name my first daughter Annika for years!) (I didn’t).  I also loved Mrs Piggle Wiggle and The Boxcar Children.

If you weren’t an author/illustrator, what job would you like to have?

I think it would be really fun to be an editor or a librarian!  (Can you tell my interests are very narrow?)

How many stamps are in your passport?

Two: England and Romania.  Both from this June, which was the first time I’d ever left North America.

Favorite word?

Frankenstein.  I never get tired of saying it.

What are you reading right now?

Zombies Versus Unicorns.

Finish this sentence: “I always smile when…”

…my kids are laughing while playing together.

Funniest (or most interesting) question from a fan?

Someone asked if I had a secret phobia about being in public with hairy legs!  It was referencing a scene in PARANORMALCY.  I laughed, but then I realized I do, in fact, have lots of dreams that I forgot to shave and am embarrassed of my prickly legs.  So maybe she was on to something!

Thanks, Kiersten!  And, readers, don’t forget to read Kiersten’s blog and her website for more hilarity!

Now it’s time to give things away!  I have three (3) copies of PARANORMALCY sitting right here on my desk and you could win one of them.  Tell us in the comments what your favorite word is and your name could be one of the three randomly drawn for a copy of the book.  You have until 11:59 p.m. EST on Saturday, October 23rd (the last day of Teen Read Week).  US and Canada only, please.

Halloween Books + Giveaway!

Posted by | October 15, 2010 | 1 Comment

Guess what I’m going to be for Halloween this year?  Cruella de Ville!  We’re having a big shindig at work and I’m all about the costumes.  So I’ll be sporting a black and white striped wig, a black and white boa, and a black dress – don’t worry, I’ll post a photo!

To inspire you, here are some spoooooky Halloween books:

MORE SCARY STORIES TO TELL IN THE DARK by Alvin Schwartz, illustrated by Brett Helquist

VAMPIRE BOY’S GOOD NIGHT by Lisa Brown (check out the fabulous trailer!)

SCAREDY-CAT, SPLAT! by Rob Scotton

THE ZOMBIE  CHASERS by John Kloepfer, illustrated by Steve Wolfhard

And….we also have a giveaway!  We’ll be giving away five (5) Halloween event kits, containing jack o’lantern pencil erasers (should be enough for your class) and Halloween masks.  And who knows…maybe we’ll throw in an extra goodie or two in the box…

Tell us in the comments what you plan to dress up as this Halloween (or if you plan to dress up at all) and we’ll pick five (5) random winners.  Enter by 11:59 p.m. (EST) Monday, October 18th and we’ll pick the winners on Tuesday, October 19th.  (U.S. and Canada residents only, please)

Happy Halloween!

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