Monthly Archives: July 2011

SLJ Trailee Awards!

Posted by | July 29, 2011 | No Comments

It’s time for School Library Journal‘s annual TRAILEE AWARDS!

Between now and August 31st, 2011, you can nominate book trailers (posted between July 1, 2010 and June 30, 2011) in the following categories:

  • Publisher/Author for elementary readers (PreK-6)
  • Publisher/Author for secondary readers (7-12 grade)
  • Student created for elementary readers (PreK-6 grade)
  • Student created for secondary readers (7-12 grade)
  • Adult (anyone over 18) created for PreK-12 grade
  • Educator/Librarian created for PreK-12 grade

Check out the website for a list of criteria, instructions on how to nominate videos, and a list of the selection committee members.

Naturally, we have many book trailers that we particularly love.  Here are some of them:

PERFECT SQUARE by Michael Hall

by Gretchen McNeil (on-sale 8.23.11)

THIS PLUS THAT by Amy Krouse Rosenthal, illustrated by Jen Corace

Which book trailers have you created or seen that you’ll nominate for the awards?

Back to School

Posted by | July 28, 2011 | 1 Comment

I know that, for some of you librarians, it feels like summer (and summer reading) will never end.  But I was visiting my family in California recently and my sister-in-law mentioned that my niece is starting school on August 10th!  August 10th!  That seems so early, doesn’t it?  Here in NYC, the public schools don’t start until after Labor Day.  What about your part of the country?  When does school start?

With school starting just around the corner, here are some new books to consider adding to your library to refresh and update your collections:

This is an excellent picture book recommendation for kids with personal space issues.

AMELIA BEDELIA’S FIRST FIELD TRIP by Herman Parish, illustrated by Lynne Avril
Take a look at activity ideas for your classroom and library.

PETE THE CAT: ROCKING IN MY SCHOOL SHOES by Eric Litwin, illustrated by James Dean
It begs to be sung out loud – check out the video!  You can also download activities.

And for those of you librarians with another couple weeks of summer reading, hang in there!

Blogs We’re Reading

Posted by | July 26, 2011 | No Comments

It’s Vacation Time around the office lately, especially now that ALA is over.  But one of the delights of being offline is getting to catch up once you’re back online: it’s always fun to see that the electronic world has continued to spin even in your absence.  Here are some of the posts I’ve read and loved since being back in the office:

What are you reading and loving?  And how are your summer reading clubs going?  Have you seen more or less sign-ups?  We’d love to hear from you!

~ Laura


Posted by | July 19, 2011 | No Comments

Christopher Myers and Walter Dean Myers have recently launched their website Who Is America in celebration of their gorgeous nonfiction picture book WE ARE AMERICA, which has already received two starred reviews.  We recently had the chance to talk to Chris and Walter about the book, and here is what they shared:


This book started out as a journey to rediscover America, and what it means to be an American. I traveled abroad after 9/11, and was struck with the desire to redefine what America means to me. I set out to re-read the texts that built this country–the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and more, some of which I haven’t read since high school–and to re-understand these ideas and apply them to what America was, what America has been, and what America is. And I didn’t want to just start and end the conversation with my re-imagining–I wanted to start a conversation that continues once you’ve read the language and seen the images.

One of the themes that I think comes across in the book is that of inclusion–it’s not “I am America,” but rather, “We Are America.” I find that kids respond to the theme of inclusion, which has been a part of many of my books. We are all America and we all participate in the conversation defining our country, whether we realize it or not. The new website gives kids a chance to actively participate in this conversation by describing what America means to them, and we have found that they are so talented and poignant in their descriptions.


America brings together many different histories, cultures, languages, and that is where my mind was at when I started with the illustrations for WE ARE AMERICA. One particular painting doesn’t just portray one moment in America’s history; rather I tried to blend various figures, time periods, happenings, to show the pieces of the American puzzle. America is really a collection. This book is our love letter to America, and it isn’t complete without adding more voices to the conversation.

When Dad and I presented in Naperville, IL to young students, we found that they were eager to be included in the conversation about what America means to them. It’s so interesting to watch kids embrace and relate to America, sometimes in ways many of us would never have thought to do. That’s why we started the website–so kids can express what being an American means to them by uploading a video. They can sing a song, recite a poem, or just speak from the heart. It’s very moving to hear these kids speak about America in this way.

In addition to the Who Is America website, listen to Walter and Chris discuss what it’s like working together on WE ARE AMERICA:

Fancy Nancy and her fancy website!

Posted by | July 7, 2011 | No Comments

If you haven’t had the chance to check out the Fancy Nancy website, you must head over there now and take a look!  First, sign up for the Fancy Nancy: Bonjour! E-newsletter:

You can also see adorable photos of fancy families and read the Fancy Nancy blog.

Hosting a Fancy Nancy soiree in your library?  Download the event kit.

Prepping for a poetry unit?  Take a look at our ideas to use FANCY NANCY: POET EXTRAORDINAIRE! in the classroom.

Use this template to help kids explore their family tree!

The possibilities are endless, mes amis!  How have you shared Fancy Nancy in your libraries or classrooms?

Editorial Insight: Jordan Brown talks about Anne Ursu’s BREADCRUMBS

Posted by | July 6, 2011 | No Comments

“My brother teaches an undergraduate writing course at a university in New York, and he recently shared with me a thesis statement from one of his students’ papers: “Words are very important in A Passage to India.”  It was, perhaps fittingly, a poor choice of words on the student’s part—it’s a novel, after all—but I think I see the point about word choice that the student was trying to make.  Words, after all, are not simply bricks in the path upon which an author is leading a reader, identical and interchangeable and valuable more for their sequence than for their individual qualities.  They are much more than that.  They have shades and contours.  They catch light in different ways.  They are meant to illuminate a pathway that already exists, and when enough of the right ones are strung together in a great novel, they are just as tangible as the things they represent.

One of the reasons I love working with Anne Ursu, and especially on her latest middle grade novel Breadcrumbs, which releases this September, is because she knows how important words are.  Anne is one of the most talented wordsmiths I know – her ability to turn a phrase is boundless, fluctuating so smoothly between humorous and heartfelt that the two almost seem to form one quantum state (“It was not the greatest insult ever, but one thing Hazel had learned at her new school was when it comes to insults it’s the thought that counts”).  But Anne takes things much further than that in Breadcrumbs.  It’s a contemporary fairy tale set in present-day Minneapolis which draws its structure and inspiration from Hans Christian Andersen’s classic story “The Snow Queen.”  In Anne’s book, a young girl named Hazel and a young boy named Jack are best friends, and they’re both dealing with hardship, but it’s their friendship that holds them together.  They spend their days talking about Joe Mauer’s batting average and Batman’s utility belt and the Chronicles of Narnia, but what they’re saying with all of it is “I know you, and I am here.”  They’re just saying it with different words, and it’s the words that make the difference.

If you’re familiar with “The Snow Queen”, you know what happens next.  Jack’s heart is frozen by a broken piece of an evil mirror, and he decides to leave everything in his life behind – including his friendship with Hazel.  Jack is still there, he is still speaking English, but the language they had created is gone.  Now, baseball and comic books and talking lions are just baseball and comic books and talking lions.  As in the original story, Jack eventually leaves, taking off into an enchanted forest with a woman made of ice.  Hazel, of course, follows him, and under normal circumstances, this would be fine.  She has read Alice In Wonderland, The Hobbit, A Wrinkle In Time.  If she has to kill a sinister queen, slay giant spiders, or tesser, she’ll be good to go.  But how do you save someone you can’t talk to anymore?  How do you convince someone to come back home when no one there speaks the same language?  How do you connect when words have lost their meaning?

Part of the brilliance of Breadcrumbs is that it is so deeply concerned with the shades and contours and light-catching that make words much more than interchangeable bricks.  Hazel navigates the fantasy world in the book the same way the reader will – with the stories she’s brought in with her.  It’s finding the right words that will save Jack or lose him forever at the end, but Hazel thankfully has enough words and stories to light the pathway to him.  And we hope that readers will find a similar path lit for them by Anne’s words, in the dark spaces when language fails.  In this way, words aren’t just the most important thing in Breadcrumbs, they are the only thing.

Though I don’t know that I’d start a thesis paper that way.”

~ Jordan Brown, editor of Breadcrumbs

* And be sure to check out Betsy’s outstanding review of BREADCRUMBS over at SLJ‘s Fuse #8

* Read an interview with author Anne Ursu over at There’s a Book

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