Monday, October 26, 2015

Non-Threatening Zombies? Yes!

Monsters don’t always have to be scary. In a new children’s book series “Yay, Monsters!” the monsters are simply misunderstood. 

Yay, Zombies!” the first book in the upcoming “Yay, Monsters!” series by author J.R. Simmons and illustrated by J. Brent Hill, is an entertaining story that encourages children to overcome their fears of the unfamiliar and refrain from judging too quickly.

“These zombies love to play, and when they get hungry, don’t run away quite yet,” explains Simmons. “The creatures in 'Yay, Zombies!' aren’t hungry for brains. All they want is grains!”

Illustration from the book "Yay, Zombies!" a book by Ogden-area author J.R. Simmons, illustrated by J. Brent Hill.“After giving an assembly to the youth, I had a signing that night. Many parents asked if I had books available for younger children. I felt bad watching them turn away when I did not,” Simmons said. “I vowed from that day on, I would have books that children of all ages could read and enjoy. ’Yay, Zombies!’ is my first — but definitely not last — children's book.”

“Yay, Zombies!” is a fun book full of beautiful watercolor illustrations and clever rhymes. The zombies are not hungry for brains, but rather grains. Once they have been fed, they become the best of playmates.

“The message of ’Yay, Zombies!’ is that we should not judge people (or monsters) on their outward appearance alone. If we give people a chance, they will usually surprise us,” said Simmons. “’Yay, Zombies!’ is also a way for parents to share their love of monsters with their children in a safe and nonthreatening way.”

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Teen Read Week (October 18-24) Discuss a Book with Your Teen!

Teen Read Week  is a national adolescent literacy initiative created by the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA). It began in 1998 and is held annually in October the same week as Columbus Day. Its purpose is to encourage teens to be regular readers and library users.

The Young Adult Library Services Association, a division of the American Library Association (ALA), has launched its 2015 Teen Read Week website,  This event nationwide is a perfect forum to spotlight teens and the books they can learn from and enjoy as well.

The theme this year is Get Away @ your library and will be celebrated Oct. 18-24, 2015. The theme encourages teens to escape to the library to enjoy novels from genres such as fantasy, adventure, sci-fi, travelogues and many more.

Teen Read Week is an opportunity for libraries to showcase to their communities all of the great literacy related resources and services that are available to teens and their families.

Anyone who joins the free site will have full access to a variety of resources to help them plan their Teen Read Week (TRW) activities.
Resources and incentives include:
  • Forums: Discuss and share TRW related resources and experiences;
  • Grants: Teen Read Week Activity Grant and Teens’ Top Ten Book Giveaway;
  • Planning and publicity tools;
  • Products: Posters, bookmarks, manuals and more;
  • Showcase: Share your planned events;
  • Themed logo (site members only): Downloadable low-resolution theme logo;
  • Webinars (site members only): Free access to a live webinar to help you prepare for TRW, as well as archived webinars.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Raggedy Ann Turns One Hundred Years Old

Who of us does not recall having a Raggedy An or Andy doll as children?  I, for one, do and wish I still had it to this day.
Raggedy Ann Turns 100With her button eyes, triangle nose, candy-striped pantaloons and orange yarn hair, Raggedy Ann is one of the most recognizable dolls around. This famous redhead has gone through a only few updates in her 100 years.

Ann’s 1915 patent shows her with very long thumbs, a teardrop-shaped nose, a puffy dress, and a floral bonnet with her namesake on a ribbon.
While much folklore surrounds her creation, we know that Raggedy Ann’s creator Johnny Gruelle, actually created Raggedy Ann (and later Raggedy Andy) for the pages her of children’s books.

According to family lore, his young daughter, Marcella, stumbled upon a well-worn, faceless rag doll while exploring her grandparents’ attic sometime before 1914. Gruelle and his wife, Myrtle, spruced up the doll for Marcella, giving her facial features and inscribing the message, “I love you,” within the doll’s newly drawn heart.

Set in his daughter Marcella’s nursery, Gruelle’s first book, The Raggedy Ann Stories, introduced the doll who embarked on a series of adventures: raiding the pantry, rescuing the family dog, and teaching tolerance to the other dolls in the nursery. But tragically, their daughter died of an illness at age thirteen.  

Raggedy Ann’s popularity soared when the P.F. Volland Co. published Raggedy Ann Stories in 1918. The author patented a doll version of Raggedy Ann and a doll based on Raggedy Andy, who made his first book appearance in 1920.

So much happiness has happened around the Raggedy dolls and books.  It is quite a legacy, and long may is continue, so that other kids will have the opportunity to heap lots of love on their personal Raggedy dolls.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

And on the Topic of Banned Books...

A young adult novel that has come under fire in its author's native country will be making its way to the U.S. Ted Dawe's Into the River, which earlier this month became the first book in more than two decades to be banned in New Zealand, has been acquired by Jason Pinter at Polis Books.

The award-winning coming-of-age novel, published by Random House New Zealand in 2013, has become a target of the conservative group Family First. According to CNN, a representative from Family First said the book's "strong offensive language" and "strong sexual descriptions" drove the organization's complaint. The group said it also took issue with the fact that book "covers serious things like pedophilia and sexual abuse."
Family First asked that the country's Office of Film and Literature Classification—which generally deals with ratings on things like movies and video games—look into the title, which won the New Zealand Post Margaret Mahy Award in 2013. The result has led to the book being pulled from retailers, schools and libraries.

Author, Ted Dawe
Targeted at boys 15 and older, the novel follows a Maori boy whose life is upended after he wins a scholarship to an elite prep school in Auckland. Te Arepa Santos's struggles to fit in, as he deals with issues of assimilation, are at the heart of the novel. This process, Pinter explained, forces the character to "turn his back on the culture and history that helped shape him and his ancestors."

The banning of Into the River has stirred a number of authors to speak out, with many criticizing the government for what they perceive as a blatant act of censorship. Among those taking up the issue are Man Booker winner and The Luminaries author Eleanor Catton, who said of the ban: 

appalling and shameful...says nothing about the pretext and everything about those who are enforcing the ban.

Pinter acquired North American rights to Into the River, as well as Dawe's earlier novel Thunder Road (the sequel to Into the River), directly from Random House New Zealand. Polis is aiming to publish Into the River, in both hardcover and e-book, in June 2016.