Posts Tagged: School Library Journal

BBW Booktalk: GEOGRAPHY CLUB

Posted by | September 29, 2011 | No Comments

Banned Books Week goes on and today’s booktalk is GEOGRAPHY CLUB by Brent Hartinger.  It was successfully banned for its homosexual content in Brent’s own hometown in 2005 – read Brent’s great post about it – and has continued to appear on the most challenged lists.  In Brent’s blog post, he quotes a local parent who defended GEOGRAPHY CLUB at the time: “This is the most bogus thing I’ve heard of […]  It is about gay students.  However, the most important part of the book is that it’s about bullying, outcasts, about tolerance […] This is a really good book for any student to read.”

Generously contributing a booktalk today is the eloquent, often provocative, teacher, librarian, and blogger Jonathan Hunt (you can also visit him over at School Library Journal‘s blog Heavy Medal):

When is a Geography Club not a Geography Club?  When it’s the front for a Gay-Straight Alliance, of course!  Russel Middlebrook believes himself to be the only gay student at his high school, but when he makes an online connection with a job from his school, he begins to realize there may be others, too.  Ultimately, seven students will come together to form the Geography Club, offering support to each other through thick and thin.  Readers will fall in love with Russell – regardless of sexual orientation – because his voice just rings so true: funny, angsty, yet wise.  There’s been an explosion of gay and lesbian young adult fiction in recent years, but this gem remains one of the very best.

Thanks so much, Jonathan!  For more information, you can see this interview with Brent, check out Brent’s website (in particular, his information for LGBTQ kids is a wonderful resource), and follow Brent on Twitter.

EVERY THING ON IT

Posted by | September 20, 2011 | No Comments

The day has come!  Shel Silverstein’s newest poetry collection, EVERY THING ON IT, is on sale today!

You can get a peek at the book by using our Browse Inside feature, and check out the downloadable activities.  The New York Times also wrote a lovely piece about Shel Silverstein as an unexpected “authority on education.”  And don’t forget to check out Shel’s poems on NPR’s Morning Edition (seriously, you haven’t lived until you hear Shel’s editor Toni Markiet read “Italian Food” out loud!).

The reviews are coming in and they positively glow about EVERY THING ON IT:

“This posthumous collection of Silverstein’s poems and illustrations is not only familiar in design, but chockfull of the whimsical humor, eccentric characters, childhood fantasies, and iconoclastic glee that his many fans adore.” ~ Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“Like the boy holding the delightfully absurd hot dog with everything piled upon it, this collection offers a Silverstein smorgasbord that won’t linger on the library shelves.” ~ School Library Journal (starred review)

“Adults who grew up with Uncle Shelby will find themselves wiping their eyes by the time they get to the end of this collection; children new to the master will find themselves hooked.” ~ Kirkus Reviews

It’s a historic day, and we’re so excited to share it with you, readers.  And if you’d like to share memories and/or favorite poems by Shel Silverstein in the comments, please feel free – we’d love to hear it!

Heart and Soul

Posted by | September 12, 2011 | 2 Comments

This video is stunning – watch how Kadir Nelson created the breathtaking art for his upcoming book HEART AND SOUL.  It’s particularly moving when he talks about telling not just an African-American story; he’s telling an American story…from an African-American perspective.

If you’re able, watch this video in full-screen – you won’t regret it:

“Provocative and powerful, this book offers a much-needed perspective for individuals of all ages seeking to understand America’s past and present.” ~ School Library Journal (starred review)

“As in WE ARE THE SHIP, Nelson knits together the nation’s proudest moments with its most shameful, taking on the whole of African-American history. He handles this vast subject with easy grace. [Nelson’s] jaw-dropping portraits radiate determination and strength. A tremendous achievement.” ~ Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“This intimate narrative makes the stories accessible to young readers and powerfully conveys how personal this history feels for many African-Americans.” ~ Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“A detailed time line and a bibliography of books and DVDs closes this powerful, accessible history which will find wide circulation in both schools and public libraries.” ~ Booklist (starred review)

Exclusive Interview with Michael Chabon!

Posted by | September 8, 2011 | 1 Comment

With villain names like Professor Von Evil and the Flaming Eyeball, how can you not be dying to read Pulitzer Prize-winning author Michael Chabon’s debut picture book THE ASTONISHING SECRET OF AWESOME MAN, illustrated by Jake Parker?  With short text and plenty of derring-do action (take a peek inside), this picture book will be a favorite of kids who love comics, as well as kids in your storytime programs.

In its starred review, School Library Journal said “the depiction of a showdown between Awesome Man and his nemesis-the Flaming Eyeball-is priceless. Readers may notice that there’s a moral peeking out from Awesome Man’s cape, but they’ll still grab this story in their ‘ginormous Awesome Power Grip’ and not let go.”

Monica Edinger (of Educating Alice and Huffington Post fame) recently had the chance to interview Michael Chabon himself!  Here’s how the conversation went:

Photo by Jennifer Chaney

From reading your Pulitzer Prize-winning adult novel The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, fans probably know you have a long-term relationship with superhero comics.  Can you give us a taste of your own childhood introduction to them and how that might have inspired this story of Awesome Man?

Well, of course I remember seeing Batman and the first animated Spider-Man show on television when I was very small… but my first true plunge into the world of superheroes came through the comic books that my father began to bring home for me, as soon as I could read. He had grown up reading them himself, and felt they were an important part of a kid’s education.

You clearly revel in language and names — Professor Von Evil, Moskowitz the Awesome Dog, positrons, and…pooped (and what kid doesn’t like saying “pooped!”).  As an adult author known for reveling in words and language, how did you manage to balance that with the need to keep things relatively simple for a picture book audience?

I was really thinking about the parents here–how much it meant to me, when I was reading a book aloud to my children for the 33832nd time, if there was a little verve or snap to the language. Probably the all time champ, in that regard–to me, at least–is William Steig. Nobody used English, in kids’ books, the way he did.

You have children of your own — were they helpful in the creation of this book?

I wrote this book for my younger son (I have two, and two daughters), Abe. He was the direct inspiration, in every way, for the main character of AWESOME MAN.

Are you a reader of children’s books yourself and if so, what are some of your favorites?

One of the greatest, and most lasting, pleasures of having children, for me, has been the excuse and the opportunity that bedtime reading has given me to revisit, and re-relish (usually), so many of the books I loved as a kid, from The Hobbit to The Secret Garden to From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler.

Are there any plans for more adventures of Awesome Man or another book for children (even perhaps a sequel to your middle grade fantasy Summerland)?

Yes, the next book I write, when I am done with the novel I’m finishing, will be for the same readership as Summerland.Not a sequel, though.

Thanks so much to Michael and Monica for the interview!

THE ASTONISHING SECRET OF AWESOME MAN is available now.  You can visit Michael’s website, Jake Parker‘s website, and  download an activity sheet for AWESOME MAN.

Holiday Weekend Links

Posted by | September 6, 2011 | No Comments

I hope everyone enjoyed the holiday weekend!  It seems that Mother Nature decided this weekend really did herald in the autumn, as it’s drizzly and chilly in NYC today.  It turns out it’s the best weather to hunker down and catch up on blog reading.  Here are some interesting links we’ve been reading lately:

  • The Book Blogger Appreciation Week 2011 shortlist just came out and CONGRATULATIONS to author Veronica Roth (DIVERGENT) for her nomination in the “Published Author Blog” category.  Thanks to Lee Wind at I’m Here, I’m Queer, What the Hell Do I Read? for the link (and congrats to his nomination as well)!
  • There’s still time to have the teens in your library or classroom vote for YALSA’S Teens’ Top 10 – they have until September 16th.
  • Family of robots? Bookshelves of Doom does it again: makes me laugh hysterically first thing in the morning before I’ve even had coffee.
  • The time has come: awards buzz is in full effect.  Heavy Medal has started their coverage of all things Newbery.  There doesn’t appear to be a link yet, but keep an eye out for Horn Book‘s own blog, Calling Caldecott.
  • Liz Burns over at A Chair, A Fireplace, and a Tea Cozy had quite the ordeal, courtesy of Hurricane Irene.  Read her story and check out her links of other bloggers with Irene stories.
  • Snape voted the favorite Harry Potter character?  Really???  It’s a total upset.  Me, I’m a Hermione fan through and through.  And you?
  • Sam over at Parenthetical has a fascinating blog post, “To RSS or not to RSS?”  Really?  Only 6% of North American, Internet-using consumers use an RSS feed once a week or more?  That floors me, as I couldn’t live without Google Reader to help me keep it all organized (and I couldn’t live without my Bloglines before that, nor could Liz).  What do you think?  When everyone and their brother has a blog out there, how do you keep it all organized?
  • Once again, Seattle Public Library closes for a week due to budget cuts.  I think the quote at the end really gets to the crux of the problem: “You kind of take it for granted – and then suddenly you miss it when it’s gone.”
  • Doing last-minute book buying for school?  Here’s a list of some back-to-school titles from the New York Times.

Have a great (short!) week, everyone, and enjoy the cooler weather!

WILDWOOD DAY!

Posted by | August 30, 2011 | No Comments

It’s been an eventful couple of days: earthquakes! hurricanes!  But even Mother Nature can’t put a stop to Book Birthdays!  Today is the birthday for WILDWOOD by Colin Meloy (of Decemberists’ fame) and illustrated by his wife, Carson Ellis.  We’re so thrilled that it’s out there for everyone to read now!

Check out the reviews:

“Meloy has an immediately recognizable verbal style and creates a fully realized fantasy world…. Ellis’s illustrations perfectly capture the original world and contribute to the feel of an instant timeless classic.” ~ School Library Journal (starred review)

“Fantasy lovers of all ages will be enthralled by fast-moving plot lines, evocative descriptions, and smart, snappy dialogue.” ~ VOYA (5P, 5Q)

“A satisfying blend of fantasy, adventure story, eco-fable and political satire with broad appeal; especially recommended for preteen boys.” ~ Kirkus

Interested in teaching WILDWOOD in your classroom?  The discussion guide is here to help, and you can read the first four chapters here!

Get to know Colin Meloy and Carson Ellis:

And take a look at the book trailer to whet your appetite:

Happy publication day to WILDWOOD!

The Writing Process: Walter Dean Myers and Ross Workman

Posted by | August 8, 2011 | No Comments

We hope you have all had a chance to read KICK, the outstanding YA novel co-written by debut teen author Ross Workman and New York Times bestselling author Walter Dean Myers.

When Ross Workman, then 13, emailed his favorite author, he hardly knew that he would have the opportunity to write a story collaboratively with him, in alternating chapters.  What’s so wonderful about the story of these two authors is that it has broadened the conversation about the writing process, not to mention that it’s inspiring for teens considering writing to their favorite author.

Below, Ross Workman poses 5 questions about their writing process to Walter Dean Myers:

1. We did a lot of thinking about the story before we even started writing. You had all these techniques you’d developed to help you figure out your characters and plot—using photographs of the characters to help you think of them as real people and keep them consistent, doing character timelines, and creating a detailed outline. How did you come up with these? Did you ever try to write without them? How did that turn out?

Ross, I started writing without the outlines and without time-lines, etc.   My understanding of literature was that the writers were all geniuses and the words just flowed from their pens or typewriters.   I kept getting stuck in the middle of a manuscript. Developing the prewriting techniques help me to understand if I really have a book in mind or just the germ of an idea.  Now, having said that, I still occasionally jump into a book too quickly.   When I do, there’s usually a price to pay in starting over or replotting.

2. At times, I got discouraged, especially when I was worried that my writing wouldn’t be good enough.  Did you ever get discouraged when you were writing or revising KICK? Did you ever get discouraged while working on another project?  What do you do when you get stuck?

I enjoyed working on the book so much that I didn’t get discouraged.   In fact, I’m rarely discouraged.   If I do get stuck, I simply revisit my outline to see what I’ve overlooked.

3. Was it easier to edit my chapters or your chapters?

It was easier to edit your chapters because I can’t always see what mine are missing.   My wife reads my chapters and reminded me to put in descriptions.   Then you would point out my inconsistencies and, finally, our editor Phoebe made suggestions.   I get the core feelings right most of the time but I often fall down when it comes to details.

4. You introduced me to the poem “The Second Coming” by W.B. Yeats. What made you think of that poem and its relevance to KICK?

As I understood the character you created, he seemed always eager to do the right thing.  He wanted to help his friend, Christy, when she was troubled.   He was very sympathetic and concerned with Dolores, who worked for McNamara.  He was even hoping that Mr. McNamara wouldn’t get into too much trouble.   I liked Kevin’s character and his willingness to get involved.  In “The Second Coming” Yeats describes the end of the world, made easy by the lack of conviction of good people:

The best lack all conviction, while the worst

Are full of passionate intensity

I believe that the end of the world as we know it can only come about if “the best” lack the conviction to change it.  Kevin, in my mind, has that conviction.

5. What was different about working with a collaborator?  Did my age make a difference – besides having to stay up later for our phone calls?  (You are a very early riser, and I go to bed late and get up late–at least on the weekends!)

You understood what we were trying to do and stayed on task, which made the whole project easier.  But I had to consider what you were doing and how you saw the story so as not to invade your space.   Your age did make a difference because you matured over the period in which we worked on the book.   Your writing was considerably better during the last rewrites.

And be sure to check out these links for more information:

Blank-Meets-Blank

Posted by | August 4, 2011 | 1 Comment

Our popular feature is back!  Blank-Meets-Blank was actually started first by Betsy Bird at Fuse #8 – she ranks the best “Blank-Meets-Blank” when she attends publishers’ librarian previews.  This is an awesome way to booktalk to kids and teens in your library or classroom!

Today, we’re sharing the best Blank-Meets-Blanks for our upcoming Fall 2011 titles:

“Richard Scarry meets Where’s Waldo?”

EVERYTHING GOES: ON LAND by Brian Biggs
On-sale 9.13.11

“Kate DiCamillo meets Neil Gaiman”

LIESL & PO by Lauren Oliver
On-sale 10.4.11

“Ramona meets The Penderwicks”

MO WREN, LOST AND FOUND by Tricia Springstubb
On-sale 8.23.11

“Lord of the Flies meets Michael Grant’s GONE”

VARIANT by Robison Wells
On-sale 10.4.11

BUZZ ALERT: THE BERLIN BOXING CLUB

Posted by | August 3, 2011 | 1 Comment

THE BERLIN BOXING CLUB, by award-winning author Robert Sharenow (My Mother the Cheerleader), has been given THREE STARRED REVIEWS!  Here is what everyone is raving about:

“Sharenow delivers a masterful historical novel that examines racism through the eyes of both children and real historical figures.” ~ Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“A story with well-drawn, complex characters, gripping history, and intense emotion.” ~ School Library Journal (starred review)

“Readers will be drawn by the sports detail and by the close-up narrative of the daily oppression.” ~ Kirkus (starred review)

Robert Sharenow’s editor, the fabulous Kristin Rens, recently shared with us what it is about the story and Robert’s writing that drew her to the story when she first read it:

It’s hard to talk about just one thing that struck me about BERLIN BOXING CLUB, because when I read the first draft I was struck by something new on almost every page: there’s Rob’s writing, which is eloquent and moving; there’s the way he beautifully marries the political and social upheaval happening around Karl with the life-altering events that take place in his own family; and there’s Karl’s quest to find his own unique talents through boxing and art—a quest to which any teen can relate. Most of all, though, I was struck by the fact that Rob was writing about this place and time from a point of view that I hadn’t seen before: that of a teen boy whose heritage is Jewish, but because his parents haven’t raised him in the Jewish faith, he doesn’t consider himself Jewish. In fact, at the beginning of the story he identifies more with boys in the Hitler Youth than he does with his Jewish classmates. And his struggle to understand why he’s being bullied for a faith that he doesn’t really embrace as his own is absolutely heartrending.

Pick up THE BERLIN BOXING CLUB to see what the buzz is all about!  And check out the following links for more info:


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


POSSESS
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?

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