The story I'm working on is set in July and August, but I couldn't resist putting up some Christmas lights.
- Current Mood: cheerful
They're two days early! Historically, YALSA has announced the William C. Morris Award finalists on the first Friday in December, but this year they're getting a head start on the party. Congratulations to all of this year's nominees, and stay tuned for our traditional Morris Award celebration here on Mirth & Matter!
YALSA selected five books as finalists for the 2014 William C. Morris Award, which honors a book written for young adults by a previously unpublished author. YALSA will name the 2014 award winner at the Youth Media Awards at 8 a.m. ET on January 27 during ALA’s Midwinter Meeting in Philadelphia.
The 2014 finalists are:
Drew, also known as “Win,” has been isolated in a New Hampshire boarding school since he was 12. Though he excels at both academics and athletics, he is concealing a horrific secret that has driven him to the brink of madness. With the help of his friends, can Win confront the beast within him before it’s too late?
Evan Carter bounces from school to school—he has no friends and views girls as nothing more than a means to sexual release. When a brutal attack leaves him physically and mentally broken, Evan must evaluate what matters in his life and learn how to “accept responsibility, but not blame.”
James has a lot on his plate: strained relationships, a fractured family, and an all-consuming anxiety. He deals with depression by hugging trees, “yawp”-ing at the world like his idol Walt Whitman, and conversing with his imaginary therapist—a pigeon named Dr. Bird.
When Maude Pichon moved to Paris, she never dreamed she would end up working for the Durandeau Agency as a “repoussoir”—a foil for society’s elite who believe a plain face alongside them makes them look more beautiful. A countess hires Maude as a companion for her daughter, Isabelle, but as the girls’ friendship grows, Maude finds herself torn between her integrity and her livelihood.
At the height of the Spanish flu pandemic, WWI, and the Spiritualism movement, outspoken Mary Shelley Black is adrift in a fear-ravaged San Diego. While her childhood friend Stephen challenges her heart, his antagonistic spirit-photographer brother, Julius, represents everything her scientific mind abhors. When the unthinkable happens, how will Mary Shelley endure the unbearable losses, not to mention the evolution of her supernatural abilities?
Excited about the finalists? Be sure to participate in our Morris/Nonfiction Reading Challenge, which begins next week!
November was a busy month in the Life of Jo.
At the start of November, I took a business trip to Berlin, where I rode the rails, saw the sights (below: Alexanderplatz station, Brandenberger Tor, Berlin Wall) and ate the chocolate:
Next came Austin Comic Con, where myself and the rest of the Writing Ninjas of Texas assumed our REAL identities and wowed the crowd with literature.
The biggest highlight was meeting a girl who'd read two of my books at her school library and stopped by to pick up the third. I LOVE MY FANS!
Also, I met James Hong! Look at him, sharing his breakfast. So thoughtful.
At the end of the month, I tried my hand at my first ever home-cooked Thanksgiving turkey. I started off with a training bird
Then moved onto the big leagues. Not bad, huh?
And nobody died.
Except the turkey.
Which was already dead.
Hope you're having a wonderful winter, and we'll talk again soon!
- Current Mood: accomplished
Grumpy and frumpy, witchy and weary, frail and forgetful—none of us expects to be that kind of older person, and in reality this does not often describe normal aging.
But negative stereotypes of age, such as older characters in decline and needing help from a child, are too often the norm in books for kids.
In actual fact, late life is generally a time of great satisfaction.
Teaching empathy is important, but the images of aging we show children in books are of vital significance—to them and us. Ageism is evident in pre-schoolers. Even children who admire their own grandparents speak negatively about growing old and about older people.
Research also tells us that taking in negative stereotypes shapes us and even shortens our lives. We will become what we think as we get older. We all need and deserve a positive vision of our future.
Books that share positive messages about aging benefit both kids and adults, and they more accurately represent our diverse world of young and old.
Ageism—pure and simple. Just like racism, ageism steals away recognition of our abilities, strengths and individuality.
In the words of Rosemarie Jarski, “We will all get older, so ageism is like turkeys voting for Christmas.”
We plan for a long life, so why is it so hard to recognize we stereotype older adults?
You can hardly blame us—our society surrounds us with words and images worshipping youth. But getting old is not a failure to remain young and it should be celebrated as the triumph of strength and survivorship it is.
What can we do to balance other media and add more realistic and positive images of aging to books for young people? As writers and illustrators let’s challenge ourselves to:
- Provide older role models by creating interesting, complex characters and avoiding one-dimensional stereotypes such as poor, sick and sad. And let’s remember—dementia is not a part of normal aging.
- Share the knowledge and strength older adults have acquired because of their age and experience. See My Teacher by James Ransome (Dial, 2012).
- Highlight creativity and lifelong growth. Include a wide range of abilities and interests. See It Jes’ Happened: When Bill Traylor Started to Draw by Don Tate, illustrated by R. Gregory Christie (Lee & Low, 2012).
- Normalize aging and changing by showing it is a lifelong process. See Miss Rumphius by Barbara Cooney (Viking, 1982).
- Show satisfaction with late life—research tells us people grow happier as they age.
- Avoid the freaky and foolish in both text and images, and choose our words carefully. “Old” is not a bad word and should not be used as such in any of our writing.
- Include older characters that are working, volunteering, or making a difference in the world. Highlight the strengths often masked by an aging body. See Grandmama’s Pride by Becky Birtha, illustrated by Colin Bootman (Whitman, 2005). Show what people of all ages have in common.
- Share the positives of intergenerational relationships, including those outside the family. See Mrs. Katz and Tush by Patricia Polacco (Doubleday, 2009).
Let’s try visualizing who we want to be as we grow older—both words and pictures carry powerful images.
And lastly, in the interest of full disclosure—the grandmother in my latest manuscript? She knits. But that’s not all she does...
Cynsational NotesVisit Lindsey's Blog, A is for Aging, B is for Books, and like A is for Aging on facebook.
In Boston I had the chance to speak to several hundreds secondary teachers at their Get Together on Thursday evening. I ended my presentation by asking them to brainstorm lists of books they would use to create their own canon. Joan Kindig suggests that a canon is a set of texts we hold sacred. So I asked these teachers to come up with books they held sacred, books they wanted to be sure to pass along to a new generation of readers. They posted them to Twitter using #canon as the hashtag. I collected them for several days after the Get Together and I present them here (and they will be up on SlideShare.net/professornana as well.
What is not at all surprising to me is that the books they listed are a diverse lot. There are some traditional canonical texts. However, they are mixed in with more than a few contemporary texts. Also unsurprising, there were not many titles listed by more than 1 person. The only titles with multiple “votes” were:
THE FAULT IN OUR STARS
THE ABSOLUTELY TRUE DIARY OF A PART TIME INDIAN
THE POISONWOOD BIBLE
THE CHOCOLATE WAR.
If I were to ask a different audience this same question, I have no doubt that some of the titles would be different. When Connie Epstein asked this question dozens of years ago of Ivy League English professors, she found much the same thing: there was little agreement about the specific books they wanted incoming freshmen to know. What one professor remarked has stayed with me over those years: give us kids who love to read; assign grades for reading by the pound. I feel the same way: I want my grad students to love books and reading. I can give them titles and let them explore children’s and YA literature if they already love to read and know the power of a good book (the right book for the right reader at the right time as my subtitle to Making the Match declares). I worry in our prescriptive CCSS Exemplar Text state that we risk losing readers. And so, here is the rest of the CANON from NCTE’s Secondary Get Together. May it be a starting point for more discussion and for more celebration of books and reading.
THE GREAT GATSBY
THE COLOR PURPLE
THE DIARY OF ANNE FRANK
THE MIRACULOUS JOURNEY OF EDWARD TULANE
HURT GO HAPPY
IF I STAY
A WRINKE IN TIME
THE BOOK THIEF
LORD OF THE RINGS
THE PERKS OF BEING A WALLFLOWER
THE ONE AND ONLY IVAN
WILFRID GORDON MACDONALD PARTRIDGE
TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD
OF MICE AND MEN
THE CLOCKWORK PRINCESS
STUCK IN NEUTRAL
AMERICAN BORN CHINESE
FROM THE NOTEBOOKS OF MELANIN SUN
A FIRE IN MY HANDS
THE MOVES MAKE THE MAN
CHAOS WALKING SERIES
ELEVEN AND OTHER STORIES
THE LITTLE PRINCE
- Current Location:home
- Current Mood:blissful
Preparing for the Harbor Lights Festival, Boothbay Harbor, Maine. Photo by my husband
- Current Mood: busy
Cheers to your upcoming series, The Haunted Library (Grosset & Dunlap, 2014)! Could you tell us about it?
It's a chapter book mystery series, just like my Buddy Files series (Albert Whitman). But instead of a canine protagonist, my main character Kaz is a ghost.
He's spent his whole life (and he is "alive"...this is a chapter book series so my ghosts aren't dead people, they're simply transparent people with superpowers) living with his ghost family in an old, abandoned schoolhouse.
But when the "solids" come and tear down the schoolhouse, Kaz and his family are separated as they blow away in the wind. Kaz ends up in a city library, where he meets a solid girl named Claire. Claire can see Kaz when he's not "glowing." She can hear Kaz when he's not "wailing." No one knows why.
Kaz and Claire form a detective agency to solve ghostly mysteries and help Kaz find his family.
What are the challenges of writing chapter books? How about writing a chapter book series?
I hear a lot of parents say, "my child is reading chapter books."
What do they mean when they say that? Do they mean their kids are reading Frog and Toad? Yes, Frog and Toad has chapters, but it's an easy reader. Are they reading A Wrinkle in Time? That's a middle grade novel. Or are they reading The Magic Tree House? Those are chapter books!
You can't go by the age of the child...kids learn to read at different ages. Though, if pressed, I would say most chapter book readers are between ages 7 and 10. They're able to read and comprehend easy readers, but they maybe don't have the stamina to stick with a middle grade novel yet.
Chapter books tend to have spot illustrations, large type, lots of write space. Chapters are short. So are paragraphs. Sentences tend to be simple, but not too simple. Main characters are spunky and fun, and plots are fast-paced with lots of action. You don't see a lot of explanation and description in chapter books. Everything moves along at a good clip.
What advice would you give to writers interested in creating a chapter book series of their own?
First, read some chapter book series. I don't think you can write one if you've never read one or if you haven't read one since you were a kid.
Read a bunch of them. Get a feel for chapter book characters, plot, and pacing. Get a feel for how series are put together. That will help you as you craft your own series.
Keep in mind that each book in a series should be a stand-alone story, but it should also advance the series arc. Create a series character and/or concept that's interesting enough to follow through multiple books. Readers like series because they connect with a character and want to follow that character into other adventures. Give yourself enough to work with.
I love the cover art! I'm usually pretty happy with the covers of my books, but these may be the best covers of any of my books. I think Aurore really captured the personalities of the ghosts and she makes the books look fun.
I'd pick these books up if they weren't already mine.
Wow, silent reading has now become reading with interruptions to make sure kids hit CCSS standards. Reading for pleasure is now reading with guidance from Curriculet and interference from teachers. How long will it be until kids truly do equate reading with words, words, words and not with personal response, aesthetic response? Before titles that kids love (GONE, WALK TWO MOONS, BRIDGE TO TERABITHIA) become texts that create cringing responses on the part of the most avid reader?
I compare something like this to SUBTEXT, an app that permits readers to stop and comment, question, annotate at will. Here it is the reader in charge (though the teacher can pose questions and make comments as well). But aside from who is in control, there are other considerations:
1. How is access granted? Is it inside of the classroom only? What about kids who do not have access outside of school? Are we still creating and supporting a two tiered system?
2. Where is the human interaction? This reminds me of many of the other panaceas I have seen touted that put a program in charge of reading (and this is just an extension of Read 180 and AR in any event).
3. How much does all this cost? Follow the money.
As I noted yesterday, I am left with many questions and a growing mound of concerns that schools will buy into this and other programs without questioning the costs.
- Current Location:office
- Current Mood:appalled
And then PARRC announced it, too, was interested in names, this time names for its latest test items. In this article (http://partnerinedu.com/2013/11/26/ano
The PCR will be on early testing only and not on the end of the year assessment (Why, I wonder. though I do have some suspicions). Here is how PARRC delineates the differences between the essay and their PCR: "The PCR differs from typical classroom assessment essays in several ways. First and foremost, the text base that students will be addressing in their writing is novel or new so students will not base their written text on recollection of lecture or experience. Secondly, unlike most combination multiple choice and essay assessments given in class, the multiple choice questions preceding the PCR will be leading the student to think about the text because these two-part questions will be correlated to the PCR prompt. PARCC’s."
A rose by any other name, folks. I recall many tests as a student where I was given fresh material to tackle, where other test items helped me formulate the essay response. What I need to see a RUBRIC. Will this be scored by a human or a machine? What manner of text will be provided? What does PARRC count as an extended response? So many questions about names and labels. And this is one of my key struggles with CCSS and all the related materials: how EXACTLY does a rebranding, relabeling, renaming make kids any more ready for college or career?
I think we need to make up our own acronyms and meanings. Brand them. Sell them. Make $$$. Retire. That is what too many of the architects and test makers are doing.
- Current Location:home
- Current Mood:puzzled
|Check out the Penguin Cha-Cha Storytime Kit!|
for Cynthia Leitich Smith's Cynsations
Look through your shelves of picture books (does everyone love picture books enough to own shelves of them?). Do you notice any differences between the books that were written and illustrated by the same person versus the books that were written by one person and illustrated by another?
My first picture book as both author and illustrator, Penguin Cha-Cha, was published recently by Random House. I loved illustrating my own story, but I also love illustrating other authors’ books.
I’ve illustrated a handful of those, including the upcoming Pretty Minnie in Paris, written by Danielle Steel, about a teacup Chihuahua in the fashion world of Paris - Oh la la!
I approach illustrating someone else’s manuscript differently than when I illustrate my own.
I can deepen the story by adding elements, and sometimes even characters, to the illustrations that aren’t mentioned in the text. For example, in the picture book, Cora Cooks Pancit (Shen's), I added in a dog that wasn’t in the text and used him to echo the main character’s feelings with a problem of his own – all through the illustrations.
But even though I can deepen the story and be creative through the illustrations, the fact remains that the text was written before the illustrations, and I can’t change the text.
Penguin Cha-Cha started as a portfolio illustration. The great thing about portfolio pieces is that you can draw anything you fancy. I was in a Latin-and-swing dance group and I liked penguins, so I drew dancing penguins.
Art directors and editors kept asking if I had a story to go with the illustration. They could see just by looking at the dancing penguins that I had fun drawing them.
When that joy shines through an illustration, it’s time to start thinking about making a book.
So I began writing stories about dancing penguins. Learning the craft of writing picture books, of course, took time and many tries.
My editor had me add in a bit more text after the dummy was acquired, but mostly we stuck with the original dummy.
Many of us author-illustrators tend to start as illustrators and therefore are more visual than wordy. We can show part of the storyline in the illustrations, so perhaps not as much text is needed.
Check out the picture books on your own shelf and see if you can tell if the same person wrote and illustrated them.
Cynsational Screening Room
Enter to win a signed copy of Penguin Cha-Cha, a bookmark, a sticker and a magnet at Cynsations at Blogger. Author sponsored. Eligibility: U.S. only. Enter here.
553. THE GREAT AMERICAN DUST BOWL
554. ROTTEN RALPH: ROTTEN FAMILY
555. WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE ANIMAL?
556. TEA WITH GRANDPA
557. HOW TO WASH A WOOLY MAMMOTH
558. MY HUMONGOUS HAMSTER
559. SOPHIE SLEEPS OVER
561. DINNER WITH THE HIGHBROWS
563. KNOCK KNOCK
564. DUCK TO THE RESCUE
565. PINK CUPCAKE MAGIC
566. MONSTER CHEFS
567. MONDAY, WEDNESDAY AND EVERY OTHER WEEKEND
568. EYE: HOW IT WORKS
569. DARE THE WIND
570. JANE, THE FOX, AND ME
571. BAD KITTY: DRAWN TO TROUBLE
572. WITCHING SEASON: STORMCASTER
573. HE HAS SHOT THE PRESIDENT
574. THE MINIATURE WORLD OF MARVIN & JAMES
575. FLORENCE NIGHTENGALE
576. WHAT THE HEART KNOWS
577. FARTY MARTY
578. OLIVIA GOES TO THE LIBRARY
579. A MOOSE THAT SAYS MOOOOOO
553. MUSK OX COUNTS
554. 35 LEGO CREATIONS
555. HOW TO HIDE A LION
556. UNDER THE SAME SUN
557. PICTURE ME GONE
558. A HOME FOR MR. EMERSON
559. HI, KOO!
560. CLARA AND DAVIE
561. PATTI CAKE AND HER NEW DOLL
562. HOT ROD HAMSTER MONSTER TRUCK MANIA
563. THE GOOD-PIE PARTY
565. THE END (ALMOST)
566. A BUNNY IN THE BALLET
567. ELEANOR AND PARK
568. THE PROMISE OF SECURITY
569. ALSO KNOWN AS
- Current Location:home
- Current Mood: accomplished
Me and Kenny from DDG Booksellers
Here's proof that I did some work! I'm gift wrapping a book for a customer.
One funny moment came when a mom said to her 3 year old, "OH! We love Hot Rod Hamster at our house, don't we? Do you see this lady here? It's her book!"
The little girl looked shocked and said, "No. That's MY book."
I think she was afraid I was going to take her book away!
- Current Mood: cheerful
I read a lot this month, but because most of what I read is unpublished at this time - including some intriguing works in progress by some very creative people - I'll just list picks that are actually available:
Dangerously Ever After by Dashka Slater and Valeria Docampo, a picture book about a little girl who embraces her love of unusual and unpredictable things. Read my review.
Arcadia by Tom Stoppard, a play that shows events taking place in one house at two different points in time. Read my review.
Happy publication anniversary to Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll, which was published in England on November 26th, 1865.
- Current Mood: thankful
- Current Music:Royals by Lorde
1. Grateful for my job. I LOVE it.
2. Grateful for my BH who loves me even when I am incredibly unlovable.
3. Grateful for my sisters who love me and cheer me on.
4. Grateful for Cali and Natalie who have grown into such beautiful women.
5. Grateful for my colleagues who get me and let me be me.
6. Grateful for the lovely lake view from my porch.
7. Grateful for Scout who loves unconditionally, though loves me more when I have treats. He also makes me put down the technology and pay attention to him.
8. Grateful for the challenges given me that make me think and consider and learn.
9. Grateful for my friends on Facebook and Twitter that, even though we may never meet, offer succor and support.
10. Grateful for the platform I have to share my opinions (and I have many).
11. Grateful that there are people who do care about my opinions and who, even when they disagree, acknowledge my right to have different opinions.
12. Grateful for the incredible opportunities to travel and to meet colleagues from all over.
13. Grateful for the authors who craft stories that make me understand we are all connected.
14. Grateful for memories of those gone from my life but not and never forgotten.
15. Grateful for the faith that sustains me during dark times.
16. Grateful for the Nerdy Book Club for letting me be a part of their club.
17. Grateful for the chance to laugh with colleagues, friends, and family.
18. Grateful that my family continues to grow. Some are born into it and others elect to join it.
19. Grateful for technology that allow me to stay connected.
20. Grateful for pens and paper and the feel of pen running across the page.
21. Grateful that I am still able to do what I do but also that I can stop doing this soojjn and let others take over.
22. Grateful for Diet Coke and coffee when I need to wake up.
23. Grateful for those who protect and serve (sometimes invisibly).
24. Grateful that I ad the chance to say goodbye to some of those I have lost.
25. Grateful that I found time to list my gratitudes.
26. Grateful for trees, deer, nature nearby and along the way.
27. Grateful for surprise trips (Sweden!).
28. Grateful for continued chances to learn, learn, learn.
29. Grateful that this list is inexhaustible, really.
30. Grateful for chance encounters that lead to deeper conversations.
- Current Mood: cheerful
[L]ibrarian Melissa Jackson at Ballou Sr High School in Washington DC has done an amazing job over the past few years of taking her school library from less than one book for each student to a ratio now of more than five. She will be moving into a modern library and media center next fall when the new Ballou High School is opened.
Feel free to check out the list at your leisure and make your selections. While we prefer new, it is perfectly fine to purchase used copies of a book (more bang for your buck), but make sure the book is in "standard" used condition and not "student owned"...Once you have made your selections head to "checkout" and you will be prompted to inform Powells if the books were indeed bought from the wishlist. This lets the store know to mark them as "purchased" on the list. After that you need to provide your credit card info and also fill in the shipping address.
Melissa Jackson, LIBRARIAN
Ballou Senior High School
3401 Fourth Street SE
Washington DC 20032
It's very important that you get Melissa's name and title in there - she is not the only Jackson (or Melissa) at the school and we want to make sure the books get to the library.
The Book Fair will be open for 2 weeks, through December 11th. Spread the word!
Also check out Ballou's We Read! Reading Initiative, which includes a pledge to read five books by April. Again, in Colleen's words: If you want to show your support of Ballou's efforts to get teens reading, then print out the pledge, sign it and send a picture holding it up to Melissa via instagram or on their facebook page. You can even send a tweet letting her know you promise to read books in support of Ballou.
Click here to learn more!
- Current Mood: awake
- Current Music:Royals by Lorde
Rock on the crest
In the low blue lustre
Of the tardy and the soft inrolling tide.
A long brown bar at the dip of the sky
Puts an arm of sand in the span of salt.
The lucid and endless wrinkles
Draw in, lapse and withdraw.
Wavelets crumble and white spent bubbles
Wash on the floor of the beach.
Rocking on the crest
In the low blue lustre
Are the shadows of the ships.
- Sketch by Carl Sandburg
View all posts tagged as Poetry Friday at Bildungsroman.
View the roundup schedule at A Year of Reading.
Learn more about Poetry Friday.
- Current Mood: grateful
- Current Music:The Secret Garden musical soundtrack