Monthly Archives: December 2011
THE LITTLE FREE LIBRARY.
Recently I heard that a new library had opened in my town. This came as a bit of a shock to me. Libraries don’t just spring up overnight. It seems like the sort of thing I would have noticed before now. Construction sites aren’t exactly stealthy, what with the bulldozers and legions of workers in hard hats. And yet one sneaked right past me. Somehow someone put up the Hopkins Little Free Library, seemingly overnight.
I know all about Big Free Libraries. I spent a good chunk of grad school camped out in one. And I volunteer at Hopkins’ excellent Medium Free Library (Not its actual name). But I’d never experienced a Little Free Library before. I went to the corner of 13th and 4th to check it out.
Upon my arrival, I saw how I might have missed the Little Free Library before now. If I drove past, I might have mistaken it for a mailbox or a birdhouse. A small wooden plaque serves as a welcome and mission statement: “The Little Free Library is a gift from friends who wanted to PAY IT FORWARD. They hope you will do the same!”
The library’s simple collection development policy is also carved into the wood: “Take a book. Return a book.” This policy produced, on the day of my visit, a collection that included Dracula, Your Pet Bird: A Buyer’s Guide, The Complete Book of Breads, and a recent run of Popular Mechanics. It was a bit scattershot to say the least. (Unless you’re a handy, bird-fancying baker with a penchant for classic horror, in which case it’s perfect.)
I didn’t check out any books on my first visit to the library, but it charmed me nonetheless. Touch football leagues won’t put the NFL out of business, and Louis C.K. isn’t losing sleep over your funny co-worker’s watercooler banter. In the same way, the Little Free Library isn’t going to spell the end of Big and Medium Free Libraries. The Little Free Libraries provide a grassroots way for neighbors to share books and promote reading, and there’s nothing little about that.
For more information on the Little Free Libraries, visit www.littlefreelibrary.org.
As part of our New Voices Winter ’12 campaign, today we’re putting debut author of THE CABINET OF EARTHS, Anne Nesbet, through our very thorough, highly scientific, kid-tested mother-approved interview. Modeled after our Turning the Page series, we’re calling these Opening the Book, as we’re so pleased to be part of each author’s wonderful publishing beginning. Thanks for checking out yesterday’s post, where we heard from Anne’s editor Rosemary Brosnan on how Anne’s story reached her and why she had to publish it. And now, let’s hear from Anne:
Which was your favorite book from childhood, and what are you reading right now?
I am a lifelong re-reader of favorite books: L. Frank Baum’s Ozma of Oz (best talking chicken ever), Jane Langton’s The Diamond in the Window (we even went on an expedition to Concord to find that amazing house), Tove Jansson’s Moominpappa’s Memoirs (because of the wonderful prizes awarded at the Autocrat’s garden party: I’m still not quite sure what a “meerschaum tram” is, but how thrilling that Moominpappa won it!). Today I am reading Breadcrumbs, by Anne Ursu, which is heartbreaking and lovely.
Do you have a secret talent?
I guess I’d have to say everything musical: violin, viola, piano, writing “anonymous” folksongs and releasing them into the wild. Plus (but is this a talent?) I’m always reading a book while walking.
Fill in the blank: Playing cutthroat games of Hearts, Poetry, or Pounce always makes me laugh.
My current obsessions are…
…salamander-shaped cookie cutters and the Higgs boson!
Any gem of advice for aspiring writers?
Cherish your inner quirkiness–dare to be a little odd.
Finish this sentence: I hope a person who reads my book…
…will feel just the tiniest bit amphibious.
Tell us how THE CABINET OF EARTHS was born.
A few years ago we took our three children plus one borrowed child off to live in Paris for a year, in an apartment not very far from the Eiffel Tower. I had already started working on a story about a character very like Cousin Louise, but when I discovered the bronze salamander on the door of the house around the corner, I knew there would have to be magic in this book. In one corner of our apartment there really truly was a glass cabinet filled with mysterious bottles of sand (as well as fossils and desert glass and other strange things), and I used to stare at it and wonder what the history of those bottles might be. So that is how the plot began to fall into place! But what really made me care about this story–what made me want to see it through to the end and find it a home, no matter what–was the character of Maya, who cares so deeply about things, who worries so much, and yet who finds herself walking in magic.
At this point, you are as charmed by Anne as we are. And here’s the most special treat of all— CLICK HERE FOR A SNEAK PEEK of the first chapters of THE CABINET OF EARTHS.
A delightfully original middle grade mystery, this fantasy set during an American family’s year abroad in Paris has just a slight hint of tantalizing spookiness. Twelve-year-old Maya takes on worries beyond her scope: is her mother’s cancer really gone? Would her parents tell her if it came back? Can she keep her little brother out of trouble? And why does the salamander doorknocker on the house across the street seem alive? Get ready to go on a journey that takes you to the edge of immortality and back.
Anne’s editor, the magnificent Rosemary Brosnan, gave us some insight into what drew her to Anne’s story, and what continues to connect her to it:
WE’LL ALWAYS HAVE PARIS.
“I met Anne Nesbet in, of all places, Paris, where she was spending a year with her family. She had brought ten pages of her manuscript-in-progress to a writers’ conference, and as I read the first page, I knew I was in the presence of a master. That was all it took—one page. The writing was gorgeous, the plot was intriguing, and all signs pointed to a major new talent in children’s literature. This is the kind of moment that is a highlight of an editor’s life.
Months later, the full manuscript for The Cabinet of Earths arrived in my inbox, via Anne’s agent. As I read, I could see a diamond—a bit of a rough diamond, but shining brightly nonetheless. There were no tired old tropes in this middle-grade fantasy about a girl who goes to Paris with her family for a year and discovers a world both sinister and magical. The writing was finely wrought and engaging, the story was captivating, and the numerous themes resonated. I fell deeply in love with this story.
Who but the most imaginative writer could have created a Paris where door handles in the shape of salamanders move, a cousin is colorless and invisible, and people gain immortality in a most nefarious way? The central image of the story is unforgettable: a mysterious Cabinet of Earths in which unscrupulous and desperate people store their mortality—depicted as grains of earth—in multi-colored, old bottles.
A scene in which Maya, the tremendously sympathetic main character, climbs up into the Eiffel Tower with her charming little brother, James, and her friend Valko reminded me of the best moments of an Alfred Hitchcock movie. Paris itself, the expertly drawn setting, becomes a character in the story.
And, of course, the story has great heart. Maya’s mother is recovering from cancer, and Maya, a chronic worrier, is not sure that her mother will tell her if she becomes ill again. What if Maya could find a way to make her own mother immortal?
Anne Nesbet, Associate Professor of Slavic Languages and Literatures and of Film Studies at U.C. Berkeley, is a brilliant, kindhearted writer who will surely make her mark in children’s literature. We’ll be publishing a sequel to The Cabinet of Earths in 2013, and I hope to publish Anne for many years to come.”
STAY TUNED for tomorrow, when we’ll Open The Book with debut author Anne Nesbet!
In the spirit of gift-giving (tis the season!), let’s talk about that happy occasion that can happen any time: new babies! Not surprisingly, we think books are among the best baby gifts out there, and we love helping new parents build their home libraries. We’ve compiled a few of our favorites:
The Nutshell Library, by Maurice Sendak. Four tiny books (one alphabet, one counting, one about the months, one cautionary tale) in one adorable package. We love all things mini… and isn’t that why we love babies?
Kitten’s First Full Moon, written and illustrated by Kevin Henkes. Kitten sees her first full moon in the sky, and thinks it’s a bowl of milk in this beautiful, sweet Caldecott-winning picture book. Also in newborn-appealing black and white.
Bedtime for Frances, by Russell Hoban, illustrated by Garth Williams. Frances, the clever little badger, delays her bedtime with request after request. Perhaps new parents will sense some real-life foreshadowing as they read this to their little one– while the repeating text soothes their baby to sleep.
My Heart is Like a Zoo, written and illustrated by Michael Hall. This accessible and sincere picture book speaks to even the littlest ones, and it’s cleverness is an added layer of enjoyment as a child grows.
Other beloved titles:
My Very First Mother Goose, edited by Iona Opie, illustrated by Rosemary Wells (Candlewick Press, 1996).
The Little Books Boxed Set, by Amy Krouse Rosenthal, illustrated by Jen Corace (Chronicle Books, 2009).
Love You Forever, by Robert Munsch, illustrated by Shelia McGraw (Firefly Books, 1995).
Do you have a go-to baby book? We’d love to know!
What a wonderful Friday treat: YALSA announced the 2012 William C. Morris YA Debut Award finalists, and we’re beyond thrilled to share that Rae Carson’s THE GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNS was one of the five chosen!
Once a century, one person is chosen for greatness. Elisa is the chosen one. But she has never done anything remarkable, and can’t see how she ever will.
On her sixteenth birthday, she becomes the secret wife of a handsome and worldly king whose country is in turmoil—but he’s not the only one who seeks her: savage enemies, seething with dark magic, are hunting her, and a daring, compelling, handsome revolutionary thinks she could be his people’s savior. Soon it is not just her life, but her very heart that is at stake.
Elisa could be everything to those who need her most, if she finds the power within herself to fulfill the prophecy. If she doesn’t die young. Most of the chosen do.
Congratulations to Rae’s fellow finalists: Ruta Septys, Jenny Hubbard, John Corey Whaley, and Guadalupe Garcia McCall. And our heartiest HOORAY to Rae and the Greenwillow team on this fantastic achievement!
About the William C. Morris YA Debut Award (courtesy of the YALSA site):
“The William C. Morris YA Debut Award, first awarded in 2009, honors a debut book published by a first-time author writing for teens and celebrating impressive new voices in young adult literature.
The award’s namesake is William C. Morris, an influential innovator in the publishing world and an advocate for marketing books for children and young adults. Bill Morris left an impressive mark on the field of children’s and young adult literature. He was beloved in the publishing field and the library profession for his generosity and marvelous enthusiasm for promoting literature for children and teens.”
We returned from NCTE straight into that pre-holiday whirlwind, but now that we’ve had a little time to reflect, wow, what a terrific time we had in Chicago! Despite the chilly and windy Chicago outdoors and an exhibit hall that used to be (not so long ago, we imagine?) an underground parking garage, we and our authors had a wonderful time. Brief highlights include:
- Getting our booth from THIS:
- …to THIS (which involves a lot of coffee, heavy lifting, and next-day soreness):
- One of our absolute faves, David Macinnis Gill of the upcoming INVISIBLE SUN (companion to BLACK HOLE SUN), wearing the infamous Traveling Pajants (read this hilarious PW article for the inside scoop):
- The terrific Chris Crutcher making multiple appearances (and getting a standing ovation after his ALAN keynote!):
- And a pizza party at the legendary Chicago deep-dish pizza spot, Lou Malnati’s with some of our ALAN buddies toward the end of the show. We love local fare!
Thank you to all of you who stopped by our booth, familiar faces and new alike. We truly return from this conference feeling inspired and renewed with passion and respect for what we do. We hope you feel the same!
If you’ll be at ALA Midwinter in Dallas in January, stop by our booth, #1528.
Have you finished your holiday shopping? Around here, we had grand ambitions this week of grabbing stocking stuffers and the like during our lunch break… ha! A bit too ambitious for the week after Thanksgiving.
But here’s something truly easy to pick up from one of our most beloved characters: the brand new Fancy Nancy Dress Up app. Not only are there hundreds of possible splendiferous outfits and fun, fancy backgrounds, but when your little one is finished dressing Nancy for her big soiree, they can save their fantastique pictures to create an original Fancy Nancy storybook to share with friends and family.
After all, no one knows ooh la la dress up like Fancy Nancy! And we know a deal when we see one– make Nancy Fancy over and over for only 99 cents.
Available at the iTunes store on your iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch.