Posts Tagged ‘Grace Lin’

Stand-out Authors: Second-Timers

Monday, February 25th, 2013

Here’s one last post about the authors who appeared on my 2012 Sonderbooks Stand-outs who have had Stand-outs in years past. This post will be about the twelve authors who are appearing this year for the second time. Most of these are only there the second time because I’ve only just discovered them. I’m looking forward to reading more of their work!

Let’s start with the one with the biggest gap. Back in 2002, Patricia Polacco had a #2 Sonderbooks Stand-out in Picture Books with the book Christmas Tapestry, a heart-warming picture book. This year’s Stand-out, The Art of Miss Chew, is yet another heart-warming picture book.

Another picture book author from this year, Kate DiCamillo, co-author of Bink and Gollie: Two for One, had a book on my 2003 Sonderbooks Stand-outs, her Newbery-winning The Tale of Despereaux, which came in at #3 in Children’s Fantasy.

And while I’m talking about Bink and Gollie: Two for One, I should mention that its illustrator, Tony Facile, appeared on my 2011 Sonderbooks Stand-outs with a book he illustrated and wrote himself, Mitchell’s License, my #3 choice in Picture Books in 2011. His style, developed in animation, works so well in picture books.

Back in 2004, another author with a picture book on the list this year had a children’s novel on the 2004 Sonderbooks Stand-outs. Kevin Henkes, author of my #1 Picture Book this year, Penny and Her Song, was #8 in Children’s Contemporary Novels in 2004 with Olive’s Ocean.

And one more picture book author from this year is a second-timer. Jon Klassen’s two Hat books, besides winning ALA recognition, were both Sonderbooks Stand-outs. This year’s offering and Caldecott Medal winner, This Is Not My Hat was #4 in Picture Books on my 2012 Sonderbooks Stand-outs. Last year’s I Want My Hat Back was also #4 in Picture Books, but this one was on my 2011 Sonderbooks Stand-outs.

This year’s Caldecott Medalist is a Second-Timer to Sonderbooks Stand-outs, and so is this year’s Newbery Medalist, Katherine Applegate. The Newbery Medal-winning book, The One and Only Ivan, was #2 in Other Children’s Fiction on 2012 Sonderbooks Stand-outs, but I first discovered her writing in 2009, when Home of the Brave was #1 in Other Children’s Fiction on my 2009 Sonderbooks Stand-outs. (And I usually don’t like prose poems! In both these cases — gorilla or immigrant without much command of English — it seemed completely appropriate.)

And another Newbery Medalist first appeared on my 2009 Sonderbooks Stand-outs, but for Rebecca Stead, it was the earlier book, When You Reach Me, that won the Newbery Medal. It also was my #1 in Children’s Fantasy and Science Fiction. This year, with Liar and Spy, she was #4 in Other Children’s Fiction.

And yet another Newbery Honoree first showed up in 2009. Grace Lin’s Newbery Honor Book, Where the Mountain Meets the Moon, was #5 in Children’s Fantasy and Science Fiction on my 2009 Sonderbooks Stand-outs. This year, the companion novel, Starry River of the Sky, was also #5.

There’s one more Second-Timer in Children’s Fiction, and I’m happy to say that she’s a new writer. Her first two books have both been Sonderbooks Stand-outs, and I am hopeful there will be many more to come. Stephanie Burgis’s debut novel, Kat, Incorrigible was #4 in Children’s Fiction on my 2011 Sonderbooks Stand-outs. The follow-up, Renegade Magic, was #8 in Children’s Fantasy and Science Fiction on this year’s list.

One author of Children’s Nonfiction made the Sonderbooks Stand-outs for the second time this year. Philip Hoose had a #1 book on my 2009 Sonderbooks Stand-outs with Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice, and this year he made my list again with Moonbird, at #9 in Children’s Nonfiction.

One writer of Nonfiction for adults appeared on my lists the same two years as Philip Hoose. Karen Casey’s book Change Your Mind and Your Life Will Follow was #2 in Other Nonfiction on my 2009 Sonderbooks Stand-outs. That led directly to my purchasing Each Day a New Beginning, which was #7 in Other Nonfiction on this year’s list.

Finally, one last Second-Timer is the only one writing novels for adults. Chris Cleave first appeared on my 2010 Sonderbooks Stand-outs with the stunning novel Little Bee. Little Bee was #4 in Fiction, and is a book I will remember all my life. (It was only the disturbing nature of the book that got more pleasant books ranked above it. Powerful stuff, though.) This year’s book about the Olympics, Gold, was also #4, this time in Other Fiction (as opposed to Fantasy).

I hope I haven’t seen the last of these authors! May they write many more books, and may I love their future work as much as I did these. If you haven’t caught these books from the past, I highly recommend them. At least with these second-timers, you can easily catch up!

Conference Corner – KidLitCon 2012

Sunday, September 30th, 2012

KidLitCon in New York City! At the New York Public Library! KidLitCon is a conference for bloggers who blog about children’s books. I went to KidLitCon09 close to home in DC, to KidLitCon11 in Seattle, and just had to go when it was so close by and free to boot.

I’m way behind on my Conference Corner posts. So, for fear I’ll never get to KidLitCon, I decided to post the same night I got back, when everything’s fresh. Instead of giving you all my notes, I’m just going to give you the high points. Here are the things I took home from KidLitCon12, in chronological order.

1. Publisher Previews are Dangerous.

I only was able to go to one preview, since I flew in to New York at noon, and that was probably a good thing. It was at the offices of HarperCollins going over books they’re publishing soon.

Why are previews dangerous? First, I had packed lightly. They gave us a full bag of advance reader copies, as well as three hardbound published books and a blank book. Did I tell them, no, I couldn’t possibly carry the bag home on the plane or fit it in my suitcase? No, I did not. Did I even tell them my neurologist said, since my vertebral artery dissection, that it’s not a good idea for me to walk around carrying more than 15 pounds? No, I did not.

Now, don’t worry, as I walked 20 blocks up 5th Avenue to our dinner (which I actually enjoyed. Definitely gave me the feel of New York City.), I found a FedEx and stuck the bag on their counter, and had them ship the whole bag home to me. But the other reason the preview was dangerous is after hearing them talk about the upcoming books, I want to read every single book! Was I hurting for ideas of books to read? No, I was not. Did I need to know about more books I’d like to read? No, I did not. Does that make me want to read them any less? No, it does not.

Now, later in the conference, I did end up with two more hardbound and two more paperback books. My suitcase ended up being hard to close, but I managed it. But to show how dangerous I find publisher previews, and how impossible I find it to resist free books — this morning I woke up from a dream where I was in a line to get advance reader copies of some adult books I didn’t even find very interesting, and which I knew I wouldn’t be able to fit in my suitcase, and when I knew it was Sunday and I wouldn’t be able to ship them — but I took them anyway! I was so relieved when I woke up! I had not taken more books than I could carry after all.

Yeah, I have a problem.

2. KidLit Bloggers are My People.

Okay, I knew this already. But it was a lovely to spend a weekend with other people who are a little nuts about children’s books. My resolution: Read more of their blogs! More regularly! These are my people, and it was wonderful to see the ones I already knew and meet some I hadn’t met before.

And I got to be roommates again with Lisa Song, who blogs at Reads for Keeps. She helped me navigate the subways, and having some quieter time with her between busy days was definitely a highlight of the conference.

3. Grace Lin shines with niceness and has a Really Cute Baby.

4. Sushi tastes good.

Who would have thought?

5. You should be creating something you want to share with the world, not something to show how clever or talented you are.

This was from Grace Lin’s talk. Just an inspiring reminder why I blog: To share special books with other people.

6. Although they are My People, not all Children’s Book Lovers are introverts like me. The extroverted ones are really fun to be around, though.

Here’s Pam Coughlan, Mother Reader, “auctioning” off ARCs from the Publisher Previews the day before. (I managed not to take any, I’m proud to say.) That’s Charlotte, middle grade science fiction and fantasy specialist, on the right. (Who is in the middle?)

7. Make your blog easy to share.

Resolution: Add more sharing buttons, besides the Tweet button. Must get around to this….

8. “If you talk like you’re alone in a room, you will be.” — Marsha Lerner

This point brought a small epiphany for me. Since I began Sonderbooks as an e-mail newsletter consisting of book reviews, I think of it as my thoughts I’m sharing with people. I’m talking like I did when I was the instructor lecturing the classroom.

9. Ask questions you want answers to.

All these last three points are from Marsha’s talk. And, mulling them over, I had an idea this morning. I think I am going to start using comments to discuss the books I review with other people who have read them. So I will put Spoilers in the comments. So far, I don’t get a lot of comments on book reviews. I mean, what do you say if you haven’t read the book? You can say, I’m looking forward to reading that. But wouldn’t it be nice to be able to talk about that annoying or brilliant thing at the end of the book and find out what other people think? I could use the comments for deeper discussion.

What do you think? I am honestly curious. Do you think spoilers in the comments is a good idea, if I put lots of warnings? My main blog doesn’t show comments, and on my website, you’d have to click over to the blog to see them, and I’d make sure to put warnings. Do you think it will work?

10. Winnie-the-Pooh!!!!! The Original!!!!

Okay, this was NOT something I took home with me, but this WAS a big huge enormous thrill. I got to see the original animals that Christopher Robin played with! Don’t they look so much like the Ernest Shepard illustrations? Especially Tigger:

And you can clearly see why Piglet is truly a Very Small Animal:

Eeyore actually looks patched, which easily explains the story of him losing his tail. All the animals, including dear Pooh, were clearly much loved.

But wait. You may be asking, like me, “What is that OTHER stuffed animal doing in the case?” That, dear reader, is a Travesty. You see, not only was a sequel to Winnie-the-Pooh and The House of Pooh Corner “authorized,” a new character was created. A stuffed animal of this new character was created, and someone had the Very Bad Idea of putting the new stuffed animal in the case with the original toys with whom Christopher Robin once played. Here is a picture Leaving It Out:

I took these pictures on my lunch break, and was so glad I’d made the pilgrimage. Wow.

11. Keep my inner fangirl in check. Maybe?

There was quite a lot of talk about the relationship between writers and bloggers. Do we get too nice because we don’t want to hurt the authors’ feelings? Is our professionalism hurt when we “know” the writer online or have met them in person?

I began writing Sonderbooks when I was working in a library, but was not yet a librarian. Now I’m a librarian, and I’ve been to the William Morris Seminar, and I closely follow the Heavy Medal blog — and I would so love to be on the Newbery committee some day. If I don’t want my reviews to be merely cheerleading, I should practice thinking critically. Yes, I feel I can continue with my policy of only reviewing books I like, but why do I like them? And, come on, it’s more professional if I try not to Squee too hard when I meet an author. Maybe less pictures with them? (And you’ll notice at least I posted Grace only with her baby.) Hmm. I’ll have to work on this one.

12. If you’re doing a PowerPoint presentation, make sure you are not scheduled after Brian Selznick.

This point is courtesy of Maureen Johnson; it seems very wise.

13. Always feel free to bring a friend.

Maureen roped her friend Robin Wasserman into sharing the keynote, and that added lots of fun to the talk.

14. Keep in mind every day why you’re doing what you’re doing.

Another one from Maureen Johnson.

15. Central Park is lovely.

Who knew?

I had a late afternoon flight, so I went into Central Park, and when I walked a little way in, I heard and saw an actual waterfall. So lovely.

I liked the juxtaposition of the trees with the skyscrapers.

Then later I came upon a large lake. Walking through Central Park was simply a lovely way to spend a couple hours after an inspiring weekend.

How about you, other KidLit Bloggers? What did you take away from KidLitCon?

Notable Books and Library of the Early Mind – ALA Annual Conference Finishing Up Day Two

Tuesday, July 5th, 2011

After attending the program on Readers’ Advisory Research and Trends, I stopped in at the end of a meeting of the Notable Books for Young Readers Committee. These meetings are open, so you can come and listen. I heard them discuss a few books I’ve read: Okay for Now, by Gary Schmidt, and The Great Wall of Lucy Wu, by Wendy Wan Long Shang. They also discussed a book I have checked out, The Emerald Atlas, by John Stephens, and made me aware of a book I hadn’t heard much about: Between Shades of Gray, by Ruta Sepetys.

The format of the discussion was interesting. First, people talk about the strengths of the books, and then any “concerns.” For some of the books, there was no question that the books were very good, more a question of whether they are “notable.” For Okay for Now and Between Shades of Gray, one “concern” was that they are edging toward Young Adult, not children’s books. Indeed, later when I attended a Best Fiction for Teens committee meeting, exactly those two books were mentioned.

However, that concern worries me. I haven’t read Between Shades of Gray yet, but it sounds like an outstanding book. And Okay for Now is absolutely brilliant. Will these books get overlooked by award committees because they will be enjoyed by both children and teens? It will be interesting to see what they decide.

After that meeting concluded, I was fading fast and went back to my hotel for a nap. Then I went to dinner with my roommates, April and Katie. They had gotten a recommendation from a waiter, and we ate at the Cafe Desire, which was indeed excellent. I love this picture of them:

I was lucky with my roommates. I “met” April from the DC KidLit Book Club e-mail list, but we had never met in person. She’s a new teen librarian at the brand-new Rust Library in nearby Loudoun County, working with some of my former co-workers. I loved her enthusiasm and initiative getting involved with YALSA. She’s been friends with Katie for a long time, and Katie is a high school English teacher who is finishing up a Library Science Master’s. She had a good perspective on what teens like.

After dinner, I’d been looking forward to a screening of the film, “The Library of the Early Mind.” I posted the trailer when anticipating ALA.

The movie was outstanding. It was a documentary about picture books and picture book creators and how much they affect kids. There were lots of great quotes I wished I could write down (but it was dark!). Afterward, they had a panel of people in the film:

Pictured are Roger Sutton from The Horn Book Magazine, the director of the movie, Daniel Handler (Lemony Snicket), Grace Lin, and Jack Gantos. I liked what Jack Gantos said when asked what he thought of seeing himself in the film. His answer was what you’d expect from a writer: He said he wished he could edit it.

Afterward was a reception. With the small crowd, I was able to tell the director how excellent I thought the movie was. He said to Like it on Facebook, and I’d be able to get updates as to when the DVD comes out and when they post some additional interview footage from the authors they interviewed.

And I saw Grace Lin, and she remembered me! From our reading The Wizard of Oz together last year. I asked if I could get a picture with her again, and she said we can make it a yearly tradition. 🙂

And finally, I met Travis Jonker, of 100 Scope Notes, and got to talk with him. As it happens, he’s already been a year on the ALSC Committee which I am just beginning to serve on, Children and Technology. So he answered some questions I had about the committee and I enjoyed meeting him.

Then, to top off an exciting day, I took the shuttle back to the Mariott, a couple blocks from my hotel. As I was walking down the sidewalk, talking with Sharon from Unshelved, we saw several Librarian/Publishing types coming out of a restaurant.

Lo and behold, one was Maureen Johnson! I asked her if she was Maureen, and she said Yes, and I asked if I could get my picture with her. Here it is:

When I got back to my room, I was telling my roommates about the encounter and how nice all the authors we’d met are. We were discussing if the authors mind being accosted like that. I tweeted: “I bet @maureenjohnson was surprised when she was accosted on the street. But that’s what happens when celebrity authors come to a city full of librarians.”

Imagine my delight when she tweeted right back, “I liked it!” 🙂

Maureen Johnson is my favorite person to follow on Twitter. I don’t know how she manages to be so funny in only 140 characters, but she does. And she tweeted to me! (Not to mention she writes excellent books! Here are my reviews of Suite Scarlett and her stories in Let It Snow! and Zombies vs. Unicorns.)

The next day was a big one, finishing off with the Newbery/Caldecott/Wilder Banquet! I’ll blog more about ALA Annual Conference 2011 tomorrow.