Monthly Archives: January 2011

Upcoming Books for GLEEks

Posted by | January 31, 2011 | 4 Comments

I’m an unapologetic GLEEk.  Like a lot of adult fans, I think I follow the show so closely because I’m a frustrated band/drama/choir geek from back in high school.  I couldn’t play an instrument, I couldn’t act, and I most certainly couldn’t sing.  But, dang, if I didn’t hang out with that group, wishing that I had some shred of talent.  So for people like me, there’s GLEE.

Naturally, though, young adult literature caught on to this segment of high school society way before the show was born.  Some of my personal favorites (yes, I’ve read them all) include ENTHUSIASM by Polly Shulman, NO MORE DEAD DOGS by Gordon Korman, and the hilariously raunchy CASTRATION CELEBRATION by Jake Wizner.  And this list wouldn’t be complete, of course, without mentioning E. Lockhart‘s spot-on DRAMARAMA.  If you haven’t read these yet…well…then I worry about your GLEEk cred.  Pick them up today.

I also want to tell you about two upcoming books that’ll appeal to the teen GLEEks you work with (and your inner GLEEk, of course):

RIVAL by Sara Bennett Wealer

In the midst of competing against each other at a singing competition, two ex-friends try to figure out where their relationship went wrong. (On-sale 2.15.11)

WITHERING TIGHTS by Louise Rennison (Note: this cover is from the UK version)

From the author of the series The Confessions of Georgia Nicholson, comes a new series about 14-year-old Tallulah who attends a summer performing arts program. (On-sale 6.28.11)

And don’t forget: there’ll be a new GLEE episode this Sunday, February 6th.  GLEEk out!


BLOG ALERT: Storytime Katie

Posted by | January 26, 2011 | No Comments

I just discovered the blog Storytime Katie and, I’ve gotta tell you guys, it’s phenomenal.  Anything and everything you want to know about storytime is here: Flannelboards! Theme ideas! Fingerplays! Books! Songs!  The Penguin storytime package is particularly sweet.

And be sure to check out her helpful Resources section and follow her on Twitter (katietweetsya)!

Yep, I have definitely developed a new blog crush.


Posted by | January 25, 2011 | No Comments

I’m certainly not unique in declaring that I’m an enormous fan of Audrey Hepburn.    I feel like I’ve grown up with her.  First, at 11 years old, when I was introduced to her by way of Funny Face.

Then again in high school when I watched Roman Holiday for the first time and felt that there really wasn’t a more perfect ending in all of Hollywood than the ending of that movie.

Breakfast at Tiffany’s was next, inevitably.  As an adult, I found Wait Until Dark and it had me looking over my shoulder for weeks.

Fast forward to today and I have the pleasure of telling you all about JUST BEING AUDREY, a picture book biography of Audrey Hepburn, on-sale today.  Written by Margaret Cardillo and illustrated by Julia Denos, this follows Audrey’s life from her childhood in war-torn Europe to her film career through her role as a UNICEF ambassador.  Here is a lovely example of the interior text and art (though it doesn’t do the gorgeous spreads justice, of course):

In a world of 15-minute celebrities, 140-character missives, and shock value, Audrey Hepburn endures not only for her class and style, but also because of her generosity and altruism.

In addition to checking out JUST BEING AUDREY, I’d recommend the movies Funny Face and My Fair Lady to get kids started on Audrey’s legacy.

And don’t forget to “like” the JUST BEING AUDREY fan page on Facebook: share your favorite Audrey Hepburn movie and enter to win a signed print and a copy of the book!  Winner will be chosen at random this Friday.  (And make sure to read others’ responses – they’re entertaining and fun!)

Incorrigible Sweepstakes: Win an E-Reader!

Posted by | January 24, 2011 | No Comments

You’ve read the first book in the INCORRIGIBLE CHILDREN OF ASHTON PLACE series by Maryrose Wood, right?  For heaven’s sake, I hope so!  It received four starred reviews and appeared on Kirkus’ 2010 Best Books list, among other accolades.  Not to mention that it’s extraordinarily clever and funny, of course!

The second book in the series, THE INCORRIGIBLE CHILDREN OF ASHTON PLACE, BOOK II: THE HIDDEN GALLERY will be on-sale February 22, 2011.  To celebrate, HarperCollins will be hosting a sweepstakes: grand prize, an e-reader with which to read all the sage words of advice from Agatha Swanburne.  And we’ll also have four first place prizes – a copy of the newly released paperback of the first book in the series, THE INCORRIGIBLE CHILDREN OF ASHTON PLACE, BOOK I: THE MYSTERIOUS HOWLING.

Want to enter?  Click here to get all the details and, hopefully, this will help quell your impatience until the next book comes out.  In the immortal words of Miss Agatha Swanburne: “To be kept waiting is unfortunate, but to be kept waiting with nothing interesting to read is a tragedy of Greek proportions.”

Leonard Marcus Discusses Ursula Nordstrom in Japan

Posted by | January 21, 2011 | No Comments

This past November I spent six action-packed days in Tokyo, lecturing about American picture books at the Japanese National Library and celebrating the November 30th release of the Japanese edition of DEAR GENIUS. What, you say, Ursula Nordstrom has Japanese fans—enough to warrant a full-dress translation of her letters to Maurice Sendak, E. B. White, et. al.? Indeed she does, and a great many of the books she published are beloved by Japanese children today. How did this happen?

Following World War II, Japanese librarians and publishers came to the U.S. to study our advanced methods for connecting children with books. Back home, they created scores of makeshift neighborhood children’s libraries and, to satisfy the growing demand, published a mix of children’s books drawn from foreign and homegrown sources. In time THE CARROT SEED, GOODNIGHT MOON, BEDTIME FOR FRANCES, WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE, and CHARLOTTE’S WEB—to name just a few of the classics Ursula championed—made their way to Japanese shores. Although Ursula herself was a walking caricature of the anxious, accident-prone traveler and rarely ventured far from New York, the books she was responsible for have circled the globe. Now, so have her letters.

Poster for the exhibition "The Golden Age of the Picture Book: History's Message to Children," in Ueno Park, Tokyo

Visiting Tokyo as the Japanese government’s guest is a very good way to go to Japan. I strongly recommend it! I was picked up at my hotel each morning and driven to a restaurant for lunch with a small party of guests: obento boxes one time, Japanese/French another. Then it was on to the day’s major event: tea and a conversation about digital publishing with the director of the National Library; a talk for the library’s staff about the state of American children’s book publishing and a library tour; a public lecture on the beginnings of the American picture book presented to mark the tenth anniversary of the library’s children’s literature division (which is known as the International Library of Children’s Literature). On view at the library just then was a major exhibition of picture books of the 1920s and 1930s from the United States, Russia, and Western Europe. The exhibition’s subtitle was a beautiful summing-up of why children’s books matter. It called them “History’s Message to Children.” I wish I had thought of that myself! Most of the displayed books came from the private collection of Tayo Shima, a past president of IBBY and a very Ursula Nordstrom-like figure herself—a shape-shifter and gadfly with a strong instinct for innovation. Take a look some time at the virtual exhibitions of children’s book art that she created for the web site of the ILCL.

Leonard signing DEAR GENIUS at Kyobunkan Bookstore, Tokyo

During my brief stay, I also made a day trip to the medieval town of Kamakura, spoke to Japan’s SCBWI chapter, and had an afternoon signing at the Kyobunkan Bookstore, in the Ginza district–Tokyo’s Fifth Avenue. The store’s gallery space filled up and I talked for an hour about Ursula Nordstrom alongside the translator of DEAR GENIUS, the wonderful Naomi Kojima, who had worked intensively on the manuscript for more than two years. Naomi and I had exchanged lots of emails along the way—most having to do with Ursula’s sense of humor—and I’d begun to wonder how well that aspect of the letters could possibly translate. But Naomi was tenacious, as was our editor at Kaiseisha, Akiko Beppu, both of whom seemed to make a personal credo of one of Ursula’s favorite pieces of advice about books: “It only has to be perfect.”

My message to them and to all my Japanese friends: Arigato gozaimasu—thank you very much!

~ Leonard Marcus

Little White Rabbit video

Posted by | January 20, 2011 | 4 Comments

We’re thrilled to show you the first in a brand new series of videos from Kevin Henkes today! Here, he lets us inside of his gorgeous studio to see him at work creating his latest picture book LITTLE WHITE RABBIT. The book will be available Tuesday, January 25th, and we’ll be posting more fantastic videos from Kevin Henkes in the coming months. (Spoiler alert: In one of the videos, we’ll get to watch him draw Lilly!)

Planning an author visit, Part II

Posted by | January 19, 2011 | 1 Comment

Last time I discussed author visits, I focused on planning tips for teachers and librarians. This time around, let’s turn the tables and look at visits from an author’s perspective.  Newbery Award-winner Gail Carson Levine has visited schools, libraries, and conferences all over the world.  She’s an expert at connecting with students and educators, so I asked her for some pro tips for authors who want to make the most of their appearances:

  1. Think of a few ideas you’d like the kids to remember. Everybody approaches school visits differently. I don’t have a set presentation, but there are points I like to make. For example, I often read from a particular one of my books, a few paragraphs in which there’s a mistake. I challenge the kids to catch the mistake, and then, after it’s identified, I segue into the publishing process and the number of times I revise before and after my editor sees a manuscript. Since many children despise revision and I love it, teachers are usually delighted with this part. Sometimes I read from something I’m working on, and I rely on the children’s questions to take me to the lessons I want to share. I don’t have a PowerPoint presentation, but I do have images on my laptop that I can show when the right moment comes along.
  2. School visits are best when the children are familiar with your books. The kids get the most out of their session with you and the schools are the most satisfied. I ask ahead of time that the students have read at least one of my books before I come, but still this doesn’t often happen. Recognize that schools have their own priorities, one of which may be to encourage the children to read your books in the future by having you come now. Also, the person who arranges your visit may not have the authority to make sure your books get read.
  3. It’s okay to tell kids to be quiet. When you do, do so quickly and move on. And don’t take it personally.
  4. Don’t stand behind a podium or up on a stage if you can avoid it. The separation creates distance and will make it harder to hold the children’s attention. Also, involve them, even when you’re speaking to an assembly of hundreds of kids. Especially then. If you use a hard word, for example, ask someone to define it. Respect guesses. If you come down hard on a wrong answer, the kids will clam up. Check with them by asking questions to make sure they’re with you. This will also keep them more alert, because they won’t know when the next question will erupt.
  5. You don’t have to put up with misery. If the kids are out of control and the teachers aren’t dealing with it, you are not being paid enough to struggle on. I’ve never abandoned a group, but on a few occasions I wish I had, and in the future I will, even if I have to sacrifice my fee. If you continue on lamely as I have, no one learns a lesson.
  6. Be warned that seventh and eighth graders may not ask many questions – or any. They may appear catatonic. Don’t conclude that you aren’t reaching them. Soldier on. Likely they love you.
  7. Practice makes better. When you’re starting out, schedule as many visits as you can. My first visits were on U.S. military bases in Germany, where I spoke to kids for five days running. It was school-visit boot camp, so to speak. By the end I knew what I was doing.
  8. When I’m out of town and spending a night, I ask if I can be taken out for dinner by my hosts. It’s always been worthwhile. I learn about the school, the teaching environment, the area in general. Plus, my time in the hotel room, which may not be charming, is curtailed. Another buttress against loneliness is SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators). If you’ll have a free evening on the road, contact the local chapter. Members will very likely be delighted to eat out with you or get together.

Gail’s next novel, A TALE OF TWO CASTLES, will be released in May.  If you would like Gail to visit your school, library, or conference, email me at

(BONUS: Click here for video of one of Gail’s recent visits.)


The 2nd Annual Kate McClelland and Kathy Krasniewicz Memorial Scholarship

Posted by | January 19, 2011 | No Comments

Thanks so much to Liz Burns at A Chair, A Fireplace, and a Tea Cozy for reminding me of this:

From Tracy Bloom Lerner, Library Marketing Manager with Random House Children’s Books, used with permission:

Help a new librarian or library student attend their first ALA Annual Conference by entering him or her to win The 2nd Annual Kate McClelland and Kathy Krasniewicz Memorial Scholarship.

In January 2009, our community lost two very dear friends, Kate McClelland and Kathy Krasniewicz.

We are proud to honor their memory and pay tribute to their distinguished careers. Both had a special gift for mentoring young librarians and this scholarship celebrates that.

ALA MEMBERS: In 500 words or less, tell us about a new librarian or library student who has never attended an ALA Annual Conference, and in whom you see great devotion to the library community and promise in the field. Tell us how he/she would benefit from attending the ALA Annual Conference. The new librarian/library student could win a trip to attend the 2011 ALA Annual Conference in New Orleans, LA!

Please click here for an entry form.

Prize includes, but is not limited to, travel to/from New Orleans, LA hotel, conference registration, and ticket to the Newbery Caldecott banquet.

Send entries to: Kate McClelland and Kathy Krasniewicz Memorial Scholarship, Random House Children’s Books, 1745 Broadway, MD 10-4, New York, NY 10019

Entries must be postmarked by February 28, 2011.

For more information, visit

Hey, Decemberists Fans!

Posted by | January 18, 2011 | No Comments

Are you as big a Decemberists fan as I am?  If so, you probably know that today marks the release of their latest album The King is Dead.

But what you may not know is that Colin Meloy, lead singer of the band, has written a middle-grade novel, WILDWOOD.  Here is the exclusive cover reveal, as reported by Entertainment Weekly:

Isn’t the artwork gorgeous?  There are more illustrations throughout the book that are stunning – Carson Ellis is fantastic.

The book isn’t coming out until August 2011 so, in the meantime, check out The King is Dead (I love it so far).  And keep checking here for more news about WILDWOOD in the months to come!

~ Laura

New Kevin Henkes Video

Posted by | January 18, 2011 | 3 Comments

Next Tuesday, January 25th is the on-sale date of Kevin Henkes’ newest picture book LITTLE WHITE RABBIT!

We recently traveled to Madison, WI to film a series of videos with Kevin Henkes in his studio, and we can’t wait to show you the first video featuring the making of LITTLE WHITE RABBIT in full this Thursday, January 2oth, on our blog.

In the meantime, here’s a sneak peek of what you have to look forward to:

Kevin draws Little White Rabbit

The finished book!

Kevin, Greenwillow publisher Virginia Duncan, and Patty Rosati set up the next shot.

Check back here for more news about LITTLE WHITE RABBIT and Kevin’s soon-to-be-launched brand-new website.  And be sure to stop by Under the Green Willow for all-things-Kevin and to hear more about Greenwillow Books!

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