Tuesday, December 23, 2014

My Christmas Greeting

Somehow it is the festive time of year once more, and I want to wish all my readers a very Merry Christmas and a Blessed New Year.  I also want to thank you for all the support you have shown me and this blog.

In this season of love and good will, it is, I believe, important to pause a moment and reflect on our blessings and the important people in our lives.  I am so very grateful for my husband, and sons and their families, and faithful friends, and good health.  And the list could go on.

It is my hope that everyone who reads these words may do the same in his or her own way.  Merry Christmas to those of you who celebrate the holiday.  The sentiment applies to those of you who do not.

I wish the very best wishes to you all during this time of renewal, rebirth, and rejoicing.  A Happy Holiday to you all!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Cookie Monster in a New 'Night Before Christmas' Book

Twas the Night Before Christmas on Sesame Street!" By Lillian Jaine and illustrated by Joe Mathieu (Sourcebooks,$10.99) may be one of the cutest new books for Christmas around this year.

slmw1210art.jpgThe child who believes Santa is on the way and who adores Cookie Monster will love this offering.  As one would expect, it's Christmas Eve and Cookie Monster is getting ready for the big day. He's dreaming about cookies and awakes with a start:

" 'Santa!' he cried. Me thinks this is great! "But me wish me not eat what was on Santa's plate!"

Frantic, in that kooky Muppet way, Cookie bustles into the kitchen and decides to make a full batch of cookies from scratch. Luckily, the gang shows up to help.

"Elmo started to mix, then measure and splatter. (And though Bert was the baker, Ernie tasted some batter.) The clock ticked away, and when the bell sounded, They opened the oven, pleased and astounded!"

Since it's a Sesame Street book about Christmas, all is guaranteed to end well. The cookies should be terrific, Santa should have some and Elmo, Oscar, the Count and Abby should share every cookie down to the last crumb!

Friday, December 12, 2014

New Holiday Books for Kids

"Blizzard" byJohn Rocco Disney-Hyperion. Hardcover, picture book. $17.99.
“Blizzard” by John Rocco 
 Disney-Hyperion. Hardcover, picture book. 40 pages. $17.99.When a blizzard blankets his town and buries his home, a young boy experiences joy (no school! snow tunnels!) that slowly turns to alarm (no snowplows, no food). But having read his Arctic survival guide, he knows that he has what it takes to help the neighborhood survive the storm. Caldecott honoree John Rocco’s lovely illustrations contain nostalgia, whimsy, warmth and light, and the boy finds both fun and meaning in doing for others. “I couldn’t think about myself. I was on a mission."

“Merry Moosey Christmas” by Lynn Plourde, illustrated by Russ Cox
Islandport Press. Hardcover, picture book. 32 pages. $17.95.
“Merry Moosey Christmas” by Lynn Plourde, illustrated by Russ Cox 
 Islandport Press. Hardcover, picture book. 32 pages. $17.95.
Another Christmas Eve is coming, and Rudolph wants, just this once, to take the night off. He wants to know what it feels like to have that giddy sense of anticipation, to hear reindeer hooves on the roof, to wake up to presents under a tree. So he convinces Santa to accept a substitute, and off they go to find a worthy replacement. Their search leads them to a willing moose, and the training begins. This lighthearted tale, by Maine author Lynn Plourde with illustrations by Maine artist Russ Cox, shows that resourcefulness goes a long way. Moosey might not be able to make his nose glow, or fly, but he knows how to solve a problem.

“Winter Candle” by Jeron Ashford, illustrated by Stacey Schuett
“Winter Candle” by Jeron Ashford, illustrated by Stacey Schuett 
 Creston Books. Hardcover, picture book. 32 pages. $16.95.Creston Books. Hardcover, Picture Book. 32 pages. $16.95.
It’s Thanksgiving in an apartment building in the city, and Nana Clover has forgotten to get a candle for her traditional centerpiece. The only thing the building superintendent can come up with is an ugly lumpy stump of a thing, but it’ll do. And so the candle’s journey begins, from one apartment to the next, from one seasonal celebration to another. This could easily get bogged down in sentimentality, but Ashford gracefully describes the little candle’s power to shine through a Jewish family’s havdalah ceremony, to gleam on a Scandinavian Saint Lucia crown, to dance on a kinara holder during Kwanzaa, and to glitter enough to welcome and guide a new family to the building during a storm.
Schuett’s gorgeously rich and textured illustrations glow with shadows and stars.

“My True Love Gave to Me: Twelve Holiday Stories,” edited by Stephanie Perkins
St. Martin’s Griffin. Hardcover, YA Fiction. 321 pages. $18.99.
“My True Love Gave to Me: Twelve Holiday Stories,” edited by Stephanie Perkins 
 St. Martin’s Griffin. Hardcover, young adult fiction. 321 pages. $18.99.These 12 holiday tales charm and delight. Some of the best and bestselling young adult writers of the day, including Rainbow Rowell (“Eleanor and Park”), Laini Taylor (“Daughter of Smoke and Bone” series), Gayle Forman (“If I Stay” series), and Holly Black (“Doll Bones”), spin yarns of winter romance from the contemporary to the magical to the all-out fantastical.
Love and hope cross all borders here: rich-poor, black-white, city-country, human-mythological, even human-elf. Standouts include Kiersten White’s “Welcome to Christmas, CA,” where a young chef divines the foods and tastes that connect people to happier times, and Stephanie Perkins’ “It’s a Yuletide Miracle, Charlie Brown.” It’s about a girl who ends up kissing the boy selling Christmas trees in the parking lot, but it’s really a story about the gifts – the kind you can’t buy – that matter most.

Melissa Kim is senior editor for children’s books at Islandport Press.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Children's Classic UK Ladybird Publishing Drops Gender Branding

Children's publisher Ladybird BG will be dropping gender branding from its books after almost 100 years and will not publish anymore books labelled for girls or boys.  It does not want to be seen "limiting children" in any way.
Ladybird Books will now make gender-neutral children booksIts current gendered titles include Favourite Fairy Tales for Girls, which has the tales of Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty, and Favourite Stories for Boys, which has the stories of Jack and the Beanstalk and the Three Little Pigs.
It is the seventh publisher to commit to the Let Books Be Books campaign which is urging 'boys' and 'girls' labels to be removed to enable youngsters to choose freely what kinds of stories and activity books interest them.
Ladybird, which is part of the Penguin Random House Children’s division, said it had been in discussions with campaigners as part of its decision.
The campaign group, which believes gender titling is "limiting and restrictive", has gathered thousands of signatures on a petition to challenge publishers to remove their labelling.
It says that titles like "The Beautiful Girls' Book of Colouring" or "Illustrated Classics for Boys" sends the message that certain books are off-limits for girls or for boys, and promote limiting gender stereotypes.
Children’s publishing should always aim to open up new worlds for children. But telling children which stories and activities are 'for them' based on their gender closes down whole worlds of interest.
In March publisher Parragon confirmed it would support the campaign.
In response to the petition, it posted on Twitter: "Feedback on gender-specific titles is important to us. We have no plans to create new titles referring to boy/girl in the UK."
It has received support from publishers Miles Kelly, Chad Valley, Usborne, Waterstones and Dorling Kindersley.
The former UK children's laureate Anne Fine has described gender labelling as "exasperating."

Friday, November 28, 2014

Red Cross Launches Emergency App for Children

 Emergency preparedness is no laughing matter and not to be taken lightly.  But kids will get a kick out of a new American Red Cross emergency preparedness app that combines important information and fun.

monster-guard-flood-screenshot-1.PNGThe free "Monster Guard" app, geared toward children ages 7 to 11, is a game that teaches how to prevent emergencies, such as home fires, and what do if severe or natural disasters occur. 

Set in the "Monster Guard Academy," the young app user is a recruit who trains to prepare for disasters and practices what to do if one happens.

Users can role-play as various monster characters, go through the initiation and engage in interactive training for hazards such as tornados, floods and hurricanes. A player who completes all of the episodes graduates to become a member of the "Monster Guard."

According to the Red Cross, the game is best played on a tablet, but it also works well on other mobile devices. The app can be downloaded through the user's mobile app store. Go to redcross.org/monsterguard or text 'MONSTER' to 90999 for a direct link to download the app.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Red Berries, Blue Sky, White Clouds: Kids' Book on the Wartime Internment of Japanese Americans

A move from California to Colorado takes place in the new book “Red Berries White Clouds Blue Sky” by Sandra Dallas — but it is certainly nothing to look forward to, especially if you're a kid.

Twelve-year-old Tomi Itano hoped that her little brother Hiro wouldn’t notice the hurtful word on the 
door of the grocery store. It made her cringe that he was 7 years old and could read the word “Japs.”
It was 1942, and the Japanese had just bombed Pearl Harbor. America entered World War II soon after, which caused much discrimination for Japanese-Americans like the Itanos. Tomi, Hiro and their older brother Roy had been born in America, but that didn’t seem to matter to their friends and neighbors.
Mom said “Shikata ga nai” (“It cannot be helped.”). Pop kept working on the strawberry farm where they all lived — until the day the FBI showed up, arrested him and took him away to prison camp. Shortly afterward, the rest of the Itanos packed a single suitcase and were forced to move to a relocation camp.
Ellis, Colo., was nothing at all like California, and Tallgrass Camp was nothing like the strawberry farm. Tomi’s family lived in a barracks surrounded by barbed wire in an area that didn’t seem like it would grow anything. There was a school and a community hall where Mom taught other Japanese-American women to sew, but the Itanos didn’t enjoy living there — especially without Pop. Still, they made friends and started new projects, and things settled into a pattern of normalcy.
Then the one thing Tomi wanted more than anything finally happened — but it made her mad and bitter. The Itanos were as American as anybody, so why were they treated as if they weren’t? She couldn’t stop being angry, until her brother asked her to do something very important. 

Japanese Intermnent Camp in US
Dallas says:
I really traveled alongside these characters, rooting for them and feeling for their struggles. I know that all readers, young or more advanced, will experience something similar.
In addition to explaining the historical facts, Dallas says in her afterword that years ago she met a couple of Japanese-American journalists who’d spent the war years in relocation camps, and their stories were the basis for part of this book. It will be interesting for readers to root for and identify with Tomi, a regular American girl. 
Red Berries White Clouds Blue Sky" by Sandra Dallas
c.2014, Sleeping Bear Press $15.95 / $16.95 Canada:  216 pages

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

To Kill a Mockingbird Now Offered in an Enhanced eBook Edition

HarperCollins has published an enhanced eBook edition of Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird.

To Kill a MockingbirdThe company released the normal eBook To Kill a Mockingbird eBook in July, 2014. The enhancement features on this digital book include a radio interview with Lee, footage from the 1962 film adaptation, audiobook clips performed by Sissy Spacek.

 There will be snippets from the Hey Boo documentary with appearances from Oprah WinfreyTom Brokaw, and Anna Quindlen.

According to The Associated Press, “HarperCollins spokeswoman Tina Andreadis says the new Mockingbird edition had received 6,500 pre-orders, far more than for the usual ‘enhanced’ book. She says the publisher has sold 80,000 copies of the regular eBook, a figure comparable to print sales.

Total worldwide sales exceed 30 million copies since the book’s 1960 release. Both eBook editions are priced at $8.99.

To Kill a Mockingbird, a novel by Harper Lee published in 1960. It was immediately successful, winning the Pulitzer Prize, and has become a classic of modern American Literature. The plot and characters are loosely based on the author's observations of her family and neighbors, as well as on an event that occurred near her hometown in 1936, when she was 10 years old.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Hunger Games is Going to the (Near) London Stage

The blockbuster post-apocalyptic action franchise “The Hunger Games” is hitting the stage and will open London in the summer of 2016 in a new purpose-built theater next to Wembley Stadium, said Lionsgate . 

The studio behind “The Hunger Games” said it was teaming with Dutch media company Imagine Nation and US based Triangular Entertainment on the show, which will be produced by Tony Award winner Robin de Levita and others.

 Lionsgate Chief Marketing Officer Tim Palen said in a statement:

Their creative genius, combined with world-class production values and state-of-the-art technology, will provide a uniquely immersive experience for fans around the world.

The latest installment in the series, “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1” stars Oscar winner Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth and Woody Harrelson.

It will be released worldwide on Nov 21.

The previous two “Hunger Games” films grossed more than US$1.5 billion (RM 5.019 billion) in worldwide box office receipts. 

The books by Suzanne Collins, on which the films are based, have sold more than 80 million copies around the world.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Interview With Ella Kennen: Junior Agent at Corvisiero Literary Agency

Today it is my distinct pleasure to welcome literary agent and friend Ella Kennen to the blog! Ella is a junior agent at New York based Corvisiero Literary Agency.  Congratulations!

NS  Please tell us a bit about your literary journey to your recent appointment of agent at the Corvisiero Literary Agency.

EK  I edited my first piece – one of my mom’s speeches – when I was about twelve, and I delighted in the turn-around: the chance to take a red pen to paper. But, editing was never my goal: I wanted to be a writer. I did all the typical things literary-minded kids do: I worked on the school lit mag, I entered (and sometimes won) contests, I inhaled books. In college, I added Writing Center tutor to my repertoire. But I heard it was too hard to break into fiction, so when I graduated I started focusing on nonfiction – small articles, for magazines, newspapers, and the web, and bigger pieces for trade magazines. And I made pretty decent money off of it… until I burned out. I didn’t write professionally for years. Then I had a daughter… and I started reading to her, and reading, and reading, until story ideas were oozing out of me. So I learned about kid lit, took a class, had some early successes – Appleseeds, Highlights, MeeGenius, etc. And then I joined a couple of critique groups.  And that was pivotal. I was one of those people who had always enjoyed the idea of writing more than writing itself, but I LOVED critiquing. I didn’t have to wrangle a muse, or wait until I was in the mood.  I just did it. The more I critiqued, the more I learned, and it made me want to become even better.  So I read more, and critiqued more, and got some freelance gigs, and used that experience and skills to land an editorial position at an ebook publisher. But I didn’t have a say in what projects I worked with, so I started to look around to see what other options I might have.  I landed an internship at the Corvisiero Agency in January of this year, then became an agent apprentice, and was recently promoted  to Junior Agent.

NS  As many of my readers are writers themselves, is there any advice you’d give them on the route to being published?

EK  Write the type of projects you want to write. If you want to be a novelist, don’t start with short stories because you’ve heard you need credentials (you don’t!). If you want to write middle grade, don’t start with picture books because you’ve heard it’s easier (it’s not!). If you want to write picture books, don’t start with magazine articles – the word count is similar, but the pacing, the cadence, and the use of imagery are all very distinct. If you want to try your hand at an assortment of things, then by all means, do it, but otherwise it’s like taking up the violin because you want to be a tuba player.
-- You don’t have to write what you know, but you should write what you care about. Your passion will come through.
-- Writing is part rocket science and part alchemy. So many variables – a standout premise, distinct character development, realistic dialog, fast pacing, seamless worldbuilding, believable yet unexpected plot arcs, satisfying character arcs, fascinating subplots – have to come together just right for magic on the page to occur. It’s HARD. All those things don’t happen overnight, and you shouldn’t expect them to. Debut novelists aren’t novice writers – they are people who are now breaking through, and you can, too.
 -- Read about your craft. Read, read, read. Publishing is a business, and there are good practices and bad practices. Most of the people we pass on get passed because of avoidable issues. Don’t be those people.
-- Join a critique group or two. It can be very hard to be objective about your own work, but it is so much easier to see a technique that’s been well or poorly carried out in someone else’s work.  Seeing something done badly (and what is that something? It could be a host of things… which is why you read craft books to become aware of the issues) can bring about that “aha!” moment where you see why a rule exists and what happens when it’s poorly executed. And once you gain that awareness, it is easier to see how it applies to your own work.
-- Develop a thick skin. Yes, on the one hand, this is your baby that you’ve poured heart and soul and countless hours into, but it is not you. It is one attempt; you will have others. 
-- Keep writing. Nothing distracts from the agony of waiting and the anguish of rejection than being excited about another project. And the only way to really get better at writing is to write.

 NS  What are you looking for in the slush pile at this particular time?  Any happy surprises?

 EK  Surprises are exactly what I’m looking for. I get giddy whenever I see a project from a perspective I’ve never come across before. I love realistic novels that open the curtains to a world previously unknown to me – what it’s like to have cerebral palsy or to be a fire-eater. I love page-turning plots – I pick projects on their ability to make me lose sleep because I’m too busy reading. But it’s the characters that make me care about going on the journey or not.
I’m always on the lookout for great graphic novels (any age group, any genre) and page-turning nonfiction (any age group). I am also open to any genre of middle grade, young adult, new adult, and will consider picture books by invitation only.
NS   You and I serve as judges of the marvelous Rate Your Story Organization.  Are there any other groups to which you give your (limited) time?

EK  Just to be clear, I am not an active judge at Rate Your Story anymore, though I do manage the blog there – and I often wish submissions I see in the slushpile had gone through RYS first! In the writing world: I’ve had the opportunity to work with the Children’s Book Academy, present at a regional SCBWI conference, and help with a Writer’s Digest workshop. I hope and plan to have more opportunities like that – I love interacting with authors and helping provide them with opportunities for professional growth.
In the nonwriting world (which I sometimes have to remind myself exists), I am on the board of my local homeschooling group and teach homeschool drama, and am special activities coordinator for my base’s spouses’ club, which sounds much more stuffy than it is – we’re talking craft club, movie outings, improv, triathlon training, etc. I don’t lead all those groups up – I just cajoled people into taking the reins!

NS  How may people reach you to submit?

EK  Writers can submit their query letter, 1-2 page synopsis, and first five pages of their completed manuscript to me at query@corvisieroagency.com Be sure to include my name on the subject line.  Please note that we respond to EVERY submission, but do only submit one project to one agent at our agency at a time.

NS  Ella, it has been such a pleasure having you visit the blog today.  I know how very busy you are with homeschooling, agenting, and the myriad other responsibilities you assume.  I want to wish you every success in your career at Corvisiero Literary Agency as junior agent! 

Monday, November 3, 2014

New Oxford Companion to Children's Literature Out in the New Year

Oxford University Press (OUP) will next year publish a new edition of the Oxford Companion to Children's Literature, more than 30 years after the book first appeared in print according to Charlotte Eyre.

Oxford Companion to Children's LiteratureThe new edition, scheduled for release as a £30 ($45.00) hardback in March 2015, was edited by author and journalist Daniel Hahn and covers all the major developments in children’s publishing since 1983.

Hahn said he approached OUP about updating the old companion because “after three decades it was clearly missing a lot of what was exciting in children’s literature nowadays”.

He added 900 new entries, bringing the total to 3,640, and shortened older content to make way for the new. He cut about 70 complete entries that were mostly about the literary output of different countries, such as Brazil, Czechoslovakia (which is now the Czech Republic) and Holland (the Netherlands), and added authors such as Philip Pullman, David Almond, Julia Donaldson, Jacqueline Wilson, Dick King Smith and Neil Gaiman. One of the longest entries is about J K Rowling’s Harry Potter series, running to 1,600 words.

“The new material is incredibly varied, mostly it’s covering things over the last 30 years but also filling in a few gaps from the first edition,” he said. “The English-speaking world beyond the UK is better represented as a whole, as are foreign-language writers.”

YA fiction is much more prominent than in the first edition. “There were no more than a handful of YA writers in the old edition, for instance, and there are dozens and dozens now. The crossover book is discussed as a phenomenon in itself, and lots of books that typically carry that label are included in their own right.

There are also sections on manga, fan fiction and non-print publishing.

When considering what should go into the book, Hahn considered both quality and significance, saying: “Some books I may not think are especially good but are clearly important if only because they sold a zillion copies and made everyone else suddenly want to write about vampires.”

He added: “It’s also about balance – trying to represent work in a range of countries and for a range of ages, by a variety of writers and illustrators in a range of genres and styles. Ultimately it’s only a snapshot but it’s important that it represents a recognisable picture.”

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Shel Silverstein's Five Book Celebration

HarperCollins is marking several of the late author-illustrator Shel Silverstein (1930–1999) milestones this year.The Giving Tree (which has sold more than 10 million copies), Don’t Bump the Glump!Who Wants a Cheap Rhinoceros? and A Giraffe and a Half all celebrate 50 years in print, and poetry collection Where the Sidewalk Ends(which also has sales of 10 million copies) turns 40.

In February, the publisher kicked off a six-figure, year-long marketing campaign to observe these significant book birthdays. Commemorative editions of each of the five titles were released on February 18, as was the first-ever digital version of The Giving Tree, marking the only time a Silverstein book has appeared in a format other than hardcover.

The challenge of any Silverstein book anniversary is “what do you do to the books that is in line with what Shel had done or might have liked? Sometimes all you can do is add a sticker.” As examples of more significant tweaks, she cites the 50th-anniversary edition of The Giving Tree, which features a green foil jacket, and the 30th-anniversary edition of Where the Sidewalk Ends, which included 12 additional pages of previously unpublished poems.But any planning for new projects begins by speaking with Silverstein’s family members, who maintain an archive of his original art and papers in Chicago. “We talk to the family and see what they might consider,” editor Antonia Markiet says. “And it’s great that they do consider what we suggest. For the recent editions of A Giraffe and a Half and Lafcadio, the Lion Who Shot Back (which turned 50 last year), Markiet says she went back to the vintage jackets using the type and color from 50 years ago. 

“We looked at our archives and the family archives to see if the paper was a different color and it was cream more than blue-white,” she said. The vintage jackets will be available for a limited time, in tandem with the more familiar, long-running, black-and-white versions. “It’s nice to offer both and let people decide; they can buy a copy for nostalgia,” Markiet notes.

Shouldering the responsibility for Silverstein’s backlist is “humbling and terrifying,” Markiet says. “There is certainly gratification, and being able to bring 50-year-old classics to new generations of kids spoils you a bit,” she adds. “Shel was one of the best that ever was. Kids still love his work and scream with laughter – and so do people my age!”

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Thirty Early Truman Capote Stories Discovered

A Swiss publisher was searching for chapters of Truman Capote’s unfinished final novel last summer when he stumbled upon a different find. While poring over Capote’s writings and papers at the New York Public Library, the publisher, Peter Haag, discovered a collection of previously unpublished short stories and poems from Capote’s youth.

Truman Capote
Portofino, Italy
Leonida Barezzi/Mondadori Portfolio via Getty Images        

Four of the stories, believed to have been written from 1935 to 1943, appear in German translations in the German publication ZEITmagazin. Those stories will be seen in German more than a year ahead of the scheduled release of the full collection, a dozen poems and roughly 20 stories, by Random House in English and by Kein & Aber in German.

Editor David Ebershoff says:

By the time Capote was writing these early stories, his voice was already formed. Reading the manuscripts — with his corrections and edits — is fascinating. You can literally see a young genius at work. I don’t use that word lightly, but these early stories show that Capote’s talent and way of experiencing the world was with him from a very young age

Truman Capote
Even in translation, Capote’s style is immediately recognizable in the short stories, under the titles “Miss Belle Rankin,” “This Here Is From Jamie,” “Saturday Night” and “The Horror in the Swamp,” laced with his incisive attention to detail and themes of longing for love and acceptance, and the transience of life.

Capote, who died in 1984, at 59, is believed to have written these works between the time he was 11 and 19, although not all are dated.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

James Patterson: Sharing His Wealth Across the Pond

James Patterson is a man who, as the saying goes, puts his money where his mouth is.  In the UK and Ireland, 73 indie booksellers are feeling very lucky, indeed.
Taking a page from his 2013 announcement to give a cool $1 mil to independent bookstores around the U.S. to help keep print reading and indies alive, Patterson has extended his sharing of the green across the pond, pledging to donate £250,000 (approximately $406,000) to bookshops in the UK.
In his first round of grants, more than £130,000 (approximately $211,120) was given to 73 bookshops in the UK and Ireland. Eligible were any bookshops with a dedicated children’s book section, and 183 applied. Grants ranged from £250 ($406) to £5,000 ($8,120).
Speaking to The Bookseller, Patterson said:
I have been completely overwhelmed by just how many people have applied for the grants and impressed and enthused by the caliber of the applications. It’s been a very difficult decision process and I have worked to identify independent bookshops for whom this money may make a difference. I’m excited to follow their progress and see the proposed ideas in action.
James Patterson is a top-selling author of detective thrillers. He is best known for the Women's...Among the plans Patterson might see, according to The Bookseller, are a camper van that will take books into rural communities, leaving from Book-ish in Crickhowell, Wales; a “Hagrid’s Hut” children’s room come to life in the existing hidden stockroom at Far From the Madding Crowd in Linlithgow, Scotland; new shelving and display materials including a children’s books “Christmas ‘wow’ window” at the Gutter Bookshop in Ireland; and a reading and writing room for families at the Newham Bookshop in London.
A second round of Patterson’s generous grants will be awarded next year, and UK bookshops are being encouraged to apply again for a grant via The Booksellers Association in the UK.
Stateside, the recipients of James Patterson’s second round of grants have been named.
The U.S. indie booksellers will be receiving the remainder of that $1 million throughout the rest of 2014

Friday, October 10, 2014

Marcel the Shell (The Most Surprised I've Ever Been) is Back!

Time was back in 2013, I wrote a post about a wonderful app called Marcel the Shell With Shoes On.  Brilliant as it was, I wondered if we would see Marcel again.  And sure enough, he's back!

Brainchild of writer/director Dean Fleischer-Camp and writer/actress Jenny Slate, Marcel is a shell you want to hug. 

For those of you who have been living under a shell rock, Marcel originated as a bit Slate joked around with while feeling cramped in a hotel room, she told MTV News

Since then, there have been multiple stop-motion short films starring Marcel, as well as the first 2011 children’s book centered around the little guy. And that’s not all: there are plans for a Marcel movie musical as well!
Marcel the Shell: The Most Surprised I’ve Ever Been, hits shelves October 21.

As the title implies, the follow-up to the 2011 bestseller “Marcel the Shell: Things About Me,” chronicles the most surprising incident in Marcel’s life. When Marcel finds himself flying through the air (you'll have to wait to find how he does this), one of the things he sees down below is his grandmother’s house.

Personally, I can't get past Marcel's grandma's French bread, the place Marcel sleeps, of course, when visiting.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

More ‘Lost’ Stories From Dr. Seuss

Ted Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss, filled his books with fun and happiness, but as a new collection of his early, little-known magazine stories demonstrates, there was method to his madness, reason to his rhyming.
Alison Flood tells that In the 1950s, in stories published in Redbook and other magazines, Geisel started experimenting. He moved away from a mostly prose style and launched the wildly inventive wordplay that would become his trademark.
Four examples are collected in a new book, “Horton and the Kwuggerbug and More Lost Stories,” which have just been published..
“His intention was to craft stories that would make kids want to learn to read what they had heard, and in so doing, he ended up revolutionizing the way reading is taught to children,” said Charles Cohen, a Massachusetts Seuss scholar who wrote the book’s introduction.
An illustration from Horton and the Kwuggerbug and More Lost Stories by Dr. SeussBy 1957, Geisel had perfected the technique with “The Cat in the Hat,” and three years later added “Green Eggs and Ham,” still two of the best selling and most influential children’s books of all time. His experimenting in magazines was pretty much over.
Geisel died in 1991 at age 87, but his catalog — more than 40 books in all — remains as popular as ever, with some 600 million copies sold over the years in 17 languages and 95 countries. “How the Grinch Stole Christmas!” is a perennial holiday season favorite, and “Oh, the Places You’ll Go!” a staple at graduation time.
An illustration from Horton and the Kwuggerbug and More Lost Stories by Dr. SeussThe new book features familiar characters. There’s Horton, the elephant, and Marco, the boy from Seuss’ first book, “And to Think I Saw It on Mulberry Street.” And there’s a Grinch, who cons a Hoobub into believing that a piece of green string is more valuable than the sun.
“It’s like finding a lost one-act play by Shakespeare, or occasional verse by Walt Whitman,” said Philip Nel, director of the children’s literature program at Kansas State University and the author of two books about Seuss. “Even minor works of major artists tell us something about their unique genius.”


This is the second book of forgotten Seuss, and probably the last. Cohen, the driving force behind the projects, said copyright issues will keep the few remaining early tales from being republished..
The first collection, “The Bippolo Seed and Other Lost Stories,” came out in 2011 and was a New York Times best-seller.
Cohen makes his living as a dentist, but he’s also an avid collector and researcher — baseball cards, bourbon — who got interested in Geisel after the author died 23 years ago this month. Cohen lives about 20 miles from where Geisel grew up in Massachusetts.

The new collection of stories is available through  Random House. 

Sunday, September 28, 2014

How Do Young Americans Use Libraries?

Here is some good news concerning young Americans and their reading habits.  Have a look.
Eighty-eight percent of Americans under 30 read a book in the past year, which is more than older Americans, according to a new report form Pew Research. The report revealed that 79 percent of Americans 30 and older had read a book in the last year.
The research investigated how young Americans are using libraries. The report revealed that millennials are just as likely as older adults to have used a library in the past year. The report also found that this group is more likely to have used a library website in the past year than older Americans. While millennials admit to knowing where their local library is, many reported that they are unfamiliar with all of the services the library offers.
Here is more from the report: “Among those ages 16-29, 50% reported having used a library or bookmobile in the course of the past year in a September 2013 survey. Some 47% of those 30 and older had done so. Some 36% of younger Americans used a library website in that time frame, compared with 28% of those 30 and older.”

This is very good news, indeed and flies in the face of reports that reading as a pastime is flagging with American youth. 

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Take a Chance and Read a Banned or Challenged Book to Celebrate Banned Book Week September 21 to 27

My favorite banned book is To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee.  That's correct; one of the great books of the world was, in fact, banned.  Banned Books Week (BBW) is coming up next week and the American Booksellers Foundation For Free Expression is encouraging booksellers, librarians, authors, publishers and teachers to get involved.

unnamedLast year, the "Captain Underpants" series of children's books by Dav Pilkey was the most-challenged book of 2013.  Rounding out the top five were Toni Morrison's "The Bluest Eye," Sherman Alexie's "The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian," "Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James, and "The Hunger Games" by Suzanne Collins.

Those five and more were challenged in 2013 by people or groups who sought to have them banned from libraries, schools or other institutions for being offensive because of language or unsuitability for a particular age or religious group; for drug, alcohol or smoking references; racism; nudity; violence; sexually explicit scenes or other reasons.

Conceptual BooksThe theme of this year’s event, which runs September 21-27, is the censorship of graphic novels and comic books. Booksellers are encouraged to promote specific banned titles. Here is more information on how booksellers can participate:
web Captain underpantsBooksellers have always played a key role Banned Books Week by creating displays that show customers that some of their favorite books are under attack. For the second year, ABFFE and Ingram Content Group are making it easy for booksellers to mount their displays by distributing a free promotional kit that contains everything they need. To qualify, booksellers choose 30 or more titles from 450 banned and challenged titles listed on Ingram’s iPage. They also receive additional discounts on initial and subsequent orders.

This author urges you to buy a banned book and give it a read.  A democracy such as ours has no place for the banning of books.  Yes, it is a parent's purview to help a child make good choices; banning books in a wholesale manner is not a thing that should be condoned in the United States.