Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Connecting with Nonfiction Webinar

Connecting with Nonfiction: Techniques and Title Tips for Young Readers and Teens

Thursday, October 1, 2009
2:00 - 3:00 PM EDT

We've all been hearing it-want boys to read? Give them nonfiction. Looking for success with reluctant readers? Try nonfiction. Looking for enrichment for gifted students? Nonfiction is a good bet. What are some ideas to help you incorporate nonfiction into your work with students and teachers? You'll get the answers you need on how to make these connections with your teachers and students in the Connecting with Nonfiction webcast.

Are you being asked to find nonfiction for students to "read" and not just use for a report? Are you prepared to talk to your young library patrons, students and their teachers about nonfiction? You can use some of the same techniques that you currently employ to talk about fiction and apply them when talking about nonfiction. Are you aware of new and popular nonfiction titles, including the latest biographies, informational books, and poetry? Is your library collection keeping up with the demand for nonfiction? We'll be giving you the scoop on some of this year's hottest nonfiction titles. Titles you will be sure to want to have on hand.

Join our panel of experienced professionals for a look at the latest trends in children's and teen nonfiction publishing and a discussion of best practices that can boost your confidence in this expanding area of patron and student interest. The webcast will also include a discussion of distinguished titles in several areas of nonfiction that every librarian will want to know about and have on hand.

Register Today!


Kathleen Isaacs is a long-time middle school teacher and occasional librarian. She has chaired the 2005 Sibert Award Committee which annually recognizes authors and illustrators of the most distinguished informational book published in English during the preceding year, as well as chairing USBBY Outstanding International Books for 2006 and 2007. Isaacs has previously served on Newbery, Notable Children's Books, and Best Books for Young Adult award committees. She has taught children's literature to aspiring elementary educators and reviews regularly for professional journals.

Julie Corsaro is a writer, reviewer, and a children's literature consultant, as well as a NoveList juvenile materials specialist, and the editor of NoveList School News. She is also vice-president/president-elect of the Association for Library Service to Children. A former school and public librarian, Julie has served on numerous books award committees, including the Newbery, Caldecott and Sibert.

Beth Gerall is the Juvenile Content Lead at NoveList. She is currently serving on the 2010 ALA Notable Children's Books Committee. As a school librarian, she worked with children from preschool through high school. She has also served on the 2008 United States Board on Books for Young People (USBBY) Outstanding International Books Committee.

MODERATOR: Dodie Ownes, Editor, SLJTeen

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The National Book Festival: Part I

Saturday, I was one of 130,000 people who attended the National Book Festival on the Mall in Washington, DC. The Library of Congress Blog stated that the high attendance was likely because of the prominence and star power of this year’s authors. I am in complete agreement! The star power of the children's and young adult authors alone was magnificent. Overall, the National Book Festival is a day of celebration for all book lovers, but for a reading educator, it's like spending a day in heaven!

I arrived at the children's tent around 9:45 and it was already packed with no available seats. The Library of Congress Blog promised that the"Lollapalooza of the book world" would open with a flourish, and it did indeed! A panel of children's authors/illustrators took the stage to announce the new site and the online book The Exquisite Corpse in which each author (plus many more not present) had written a chapter or episode. I have seen panels of children's authors plenty of times at national conferences, but I'm not sure I've ever seen anything like this. Jon Scieszka, Megan McDonald, Steven Kellogg, Nikki Grimes, Kate DiCamillo, and Shannon Hale were all on stage. They seemed very relaxed, happy to be together, and having a great time!

Jon Scieszka read aloud the first episode of the Exquisite Corpse, which is now available online. He is hilarious, so you might expect that the book will be quite funny as well. Each author gave the audience a few clues (which are also in the first episode) as to the crazy adventures that will take place in their respective episode. Shannon Hale, for example, told the crowd that in her episode, one character has a butt in the place where his head should be! The next chapter, written by none other than Katherine Paterson, will be available online October 9th.

After the Exquisite Corpse presentation was over, I saw a former student and fellow National Book Festival fanatic, Amy Stewart. We couldn't stop talking about how excited we were to be there -- we even had our picture made with the book festival backdrop behind us (I'm in the green William & Mary shirt!):

I'll blog about the other amazing presentations I attended as the week goes on. But, you've got to take a look at the video below, taken by the Washington Post. Various authors were asked what book they would have people read if they were suddenly the "Literature Czar." Here are a few responses I loved:

Nicholas Sparks said we should focus on getting kids to enjoy reading. "Reading Shakespeare in the tenth grade is like teaching a foreign language." He said that by learning to enjoy reading first, kids will find Romeo and Juliet and War and Peace on their own.

Jeff Kinney said Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing by Judy Blume since it's a funny book and that will get kids hooked.

Julia Alvarez and Holly Black/Tony DiTerlizzi said they wouldn't want to force anyone to read any one particular book because to love reading, everyone must find a book that speaks to them, and that book will be different for each person.

Do take a minute (or two) and watch the video.

Monday, September 28, 2009

PW's starred reviews

This week's PW starred reviews includes two books by authors speaking at the National Book Festival this past weekend, Lois Lowry and Sharon Creech. I'll post blogs about their presentations later this week (sneak peek: FABULOUS!).

From Publisher's Weekly -- 9/28/09


January’s Sparrow by Patricia Polacco. Philomel, $22.99 (94p) ISBN 978-0-399-25077-4

Based on actual events, Polacco’s (In Our Mothers’ House) story is at once horrifying and heartening. It centers on the Crosswhite family, slaves who flee their Kentucky plantation after witnessing the merciless whipping of January, a slave caught while attempting escape. Led to believe that January died from his wounds, Sadie Crosswhite is heartbroken when she inadvertently leaves behind the wooden sparrow he carved for her. Writing in credible dialect, Polacco conveys the family’s fear and fortitude as they follow the North Star, “trackin’ through cornfields, climbin’ up bluffs, rollin’ through muck and mud.” They take refuge in Marshall, Mich., a sanctuary on the Underground Railroad, where they remain until slave chasers track them down. After a confrontation in which the town rallies behind them, the Crosswhites steal away for Canada, accompanied by January, who has shown up unexpectedly. Like Polacco’s prose, her dynamic and sometimes brutal pictures, rendered in pencils and markers, hold nothing back—be it the Crosswhites’ anguish and terror while under pursuit or their affection for each other and those who harbor them. An illuminating and trenchant account. Ages 8–up. (Oct.)

Crow Call by Lois Lowry, illus. by Bagram Ibatoulline. Scholastic Press, $16.99 (48p) ISBN 978-0-545-03035-9

A parent returning as a stranger after WWII could be a difficult situation, but in Newbery Medalist Lowry’s first picture book, drawn from her childhood, the reunion brings warmth and trust. Out on a fall hunting trip with her father, Lizzie is quiet with apprehension (“Daddy. Daddy. Saying it feels new”). Yet he respects her wishes, even when they’re quirky. When she longs for a plaid hunting shirt many sizes too big, he endorses her choice: “You know, Lizzie... You will never ever outgrow this shirt.” He orders three pieces of cherry pie (her favorite food) for breakfast. She’s worried about the idea of hunting; he gives her the crow call—“I’m pretty sure you can handle it”—and the crows gather like magic. To her relief, her father never fires his gun. Ibatoulline (The Scarecrow’s Dance) fittingly dedicates his artwork to Andrew Wyeth. The Pennsylvania countryside, in shades of gold and fawn, undulates behind Lizzie and her father, the quiet colors echoing the intimacy they share. It’s a loving representation of a relationship between parent and child, and an elegy to a less ironic era, while fully relevant for today’s military families. Ages 9–12. (Oct.)


The Unfinished Angel by Sharon Creech. HarperCollins/Cotler, $15.99 (176p) ISBN 978-0-06-143095-4

As adept at writing fantasy as she is creating slice-of-life novels, Newbery Medalist Creech (Walk Two Moons) again works her magic, offering an offbeat tale set in a small village in the Swiss Alps. The narrator is an endearingly flawed angel, who has trouble with “peoples’ ” language (“I am supposed to be having all the words in all the languages, but I am not”) as well as uncertainty about his (or her) mission (“Do the other angels know what they are doing? Am I the only confused one?”). When discovered by an energetic and imaginative child named Zola, the angel finally finds something more meaningful to do than “floating and swishing” around the village (“Know and fix? How does Zola know these things?” thinks the angel). Working together, the two create small miracles, instilling compassion in villagers, bringing lonely people together and finding refuge for a group of orphan children hiding in the mountains. Uplifting and full of vibrant characters, this book shows that angels come in all shapes and sizes and can sometimes even be human. Ages 8–12. (Sept.)

The Museum of Mary Child by Cassandra Golds. EDC/Kane Miller, $16.99 (336p) ISBN 978-1-935279-13-6

Gothic and wonderfully creepy, Golds’s (Clair-de-Lune) atmospheric story delights, offering meditations on the nature and power of love. Lonely Heloise wants only to be loved, but lives as if jailed in the house of her stern and sometimes cruel godmother. One day Heloise uncovers a beautiful doll, Maria, hidden under the floorboards of her room, and it is love at first sight. Heloise hides Maria from her godmother, whose personal Ten Commandments include forbidding play, “pretty clothes” and the possession of a doll, not to mention never uttering the word love (“We are all of us evil. And to love something evil is wicked,” she professes). Once Maria is discovered, Heloise finds out the horrible truth about the museum that adjoins her godmother’s cottage and is thrust down a strange and magical path that reveals how sheltered she has been (“Most people, she now knew, had heard music. Most people had seen pictures”). Readers will wonder throughout: who is Heloise really—or better, what is she? Aside from an occasional tendency toward sentimental prose, Golds’s novel is pure fun, filled with mystery and nearly impossible to put down. Ages 11–up. (Sept.)

Last Night I Sang to the Monster by Benjamin Alire Sáenz. Cinco Puntos, $19.95 (240p) ISBN 978-1-933693-58-3

“I don’t like remembering. Remembering makes me feel things. I don’t like feeling things,” writes Zach as a homework assignment from his therapist at the outset of this psychologically intense novel. Tracing 18-year-old Zach’s somewhat disjointed but utterly candid monologue during his stint at an institution, readers will feel his fear as he remembers the events leading to his hospitalization and meet his “monster,” the unnamed force that appears in his dreams. But breaking through the chaos of Zach’s internal worldare two remarkable individuals: his fatherly roommate, Rafael, and therapist, Adam, whose determination to make Zach whole again never falters. Zach’s progress advances in small steps, and there are plenty of setbacks. Fellow patients who have become his friends leave suddenly, and the sadness of other lost souls is nearly too much for Zach. However, the good that comes from his struggles far outweighs the dark moments. Offering insight into addiction, dysfunction and mental illness, particularly in the wake of traumatic events, Sáenz’s (He Forgot to Say Goodbye) artful rendition of the healing process will not soon be forgotten. Ages 14–up. (Sept.)

Congratulations to these authors!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

National Book Festival Update

If you are a reader of the JCL blog, you know that I'm going to the National Book Festival this weekend and am encouraging anybody and everybody to go with me. If you need more enticement (than the FABULOUS line-up of children's and young adult authors), just read this from the Library of Congress blog:

Here’s a tip — this “Lollapalooza” of the book world is going to open with a flourish. A team of young people’s authors, fronted by the irrepressible National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature Jon Scieszka, will launch the new website that promotes reading and literacy for all ages as the festival opens at 10 a.m., in the Children’s pavilion. You won’t have to be a kid to get a kick out of this one: The new site will premiere a serial story, with the first (completely zany) chapter to be read by Scieszka from the stage. It’s titled “The Exquisite Corpse Adventure,” and to find out what happens next — this story will unfold every two weeks for a year — you’ll have to go to

HOW EXCITING IS THAT!!! Wow! That's just about all I can say. Wow!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Look out National Book I come!

I'm already so excited about this weekend and it's only Monday! Saturday is the National Book Festival held on the Mall in Washington, DC. For me, it will be like attending the Oscars, except better...have you seen the line up of children's and young adult authors????? NO? Well, let me give you a tantalizing peek.....

Holly Black
Judy Blume
Kate DiCamillo
Sharon Creech
Nikki Grimes
Shannon Hale
Steven Kellogg
Lois Lowry
Megan McDonald
Kadir Nelson
Jerry Pinkney
Sharon Robinson
Rick Riordan
Jon Scieszka
David Shannon
Tony DiTerlizzi
Mo Willems
Jacqueline Woodson

And, if you happen to like adult fiction, big hitters like John Grisham, John Irving, James Patterson, Jodi Picoult, Nichoas Sparks, and Janette Walls--just to name a few--will be there.

You can go to the author page of the National Book Festival to find out all about these authors and more. The event is free and open to the public.

I hope to see you there!

PW's Starred Reviews

Publisher's Weekly Starred Reviews for 9/21


Waiting for Winter by Sebastian Meschenmoser. EDC/Kane Miller, $15.99 (56p) ISBN 978-1-935279-04-4

Like furry slapstick comedians, a squirrel, hedgehog and bear make one sweet goof after another as they look for the first snowflake of winter. Told that it will be “white and wet and cold and soft,” they put off hibernating and begin to search. Hedgehog holds up his discovery in triumph: it's a toothbrush (“Winter will be wonderful,” Hedgehog thinks, as the next page shows the animal delighting in a shower of white toothbrushes against an inky sky). Squirrel is convinced that a tin can is the first snowflake, and Bear appears with an old white sock. Meschenmosher (Learning to Fly) sketches freely on white pages in dark gray and sepia, drawing with casual grace and unerring comic instinct. Squirrel's reddish hair springs forth frenetically, Hedgehog's prickles look untidy and sleepy, and Bear's luxurious fur hangs over his eyebrows, making him look even grumpier. Giggles and guffaws will abound (three whole spreads are devoted to Squirrel and Hedgehog belting out sea shanties to keep themselves awake). The moment when the snow really does begin to fall is worth waiting for, too. A quiet, atmospheric and offbeat treasure. Ages 5–8. (Sept.)


The Small Adventure of Popeye and Elvis by Barbara O'Connor. FSG/Foster, $16.99 (160p) ISBN 978-0-374-37055-8

With humor and authenticity, this beguiling tale of summer friendship mines the small, jewellike adventures of a rural childhood. Popeye (so named after a fateful BB gun accident) is utterly bored in rainy Fayette, S.C. But when a passing motor home gets stuck in the mud, he befriends one of its unruly inhabitants, a devil-may-care boy named Elvis. In the creek, the boys discover boats made from Yoo-hoo cartons that carry cryptic messages––a mystery that launches the “small adventure” of tracking down the boats' creator as well as Popeye's struggle between obeying his overprotective grandmother, Velma, and venturing out with his new friend. O'Connor's (How to Steal a Dog) easygoing, Southern storytelling crafts an endearing protagonist and irresistibly quirky cast. Velma recites the names of English monarchy to avoid “cracking up” and teaches Popeye new vocabulary words, which surface comically in his observations (“Velma's appearance at the edge of the cemetery, arms crossed, face red, was definitely not serendipity. It was much closer to vicissitude”). Undercurrents of poverty and dysfunction are handled with gentle humor as Popeye discovers the magic of a little adventure. Ages 8–12. (Sept.)

Lips Touch: Three Times by Laini Taylor, illus. by Jim Di Bartolo. Scholastic/Levine, $17.99 (272p) ISBN 978-0-545-05585-7

Taylor offers a powerful trio of tales, each founded upon the consequences of a kiss. She explores the potentially awkward conceit in three dramatically different fantasies, each featuring a young female protagonist out of place in the world she inhabits: contemporary Kizzy, who so yearns to be a normal, popular teenager that she forgets the rules of her Old Country upbringing and is seduced by a goblin in disguise; Anamique, living in British colonial India, silenced forever due to a spell cast upon her at birth; and Esmé, who at 14 discovers she is host to another—nonhuman—being. The stories build in complexity and intensity, culminating in the breathtaking “Hatchling,” which opens with a spectacularly gripping prologue (“Esmé swayed on her feet. These weren't her memories. This wasn't her eye”). Each is, in vividly distinctive fashion, a mesmerizing love story that comes to a satisfying but never predictable conclusion. Di Bartolo's illustrations provide tantalizing visual preludes to each tale, which are revealed as the stories unfold. Even nonfantasy lovers will find themselves absorbed by Taylor's masterful, elegant work. Ages 12–up. (Oct.)

Congratulations to these authors!!!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Webcast with Kate DiCamillo

I am a big fan of Kate DiCamillo and am anxiously awaiting my copy of her newest book, The Magician's Elephant. I would love to start a book discussion over at the Joy of Children's Literature Ning. The start date would be in plenty of time for everyone to get a copy and read it. Come on, join the Ning and we'll have a lively discussion!
A live webcast with Kate DiCamillo will be held on Octorber 25th at 1:00 PST/4:00 EST, hosted by Sidewell Friends School in Washington, DC. Click on the link and register for what I am sure will be a great experience. I've already signed up!

Booklist Webinar




Need help engaging reluctant readers, promoting reading success, and keeping your library relevant in this era of accountability?

Attend "The Scoop on Series Nonfiction" Webinar and come away with a wealth of information and ideas for enhancing your collection and engaging young readers with series nonfiction. Booklist youth editors will moderate as four top series nonfiction publishers—Lerner Publications, ABDO Publishing Company, Norwood House Press, and Cherry Lake Publishing—share their expertise and introduce a selection of their fall titles. Webinar participants will also get a sneak peek at Booklist's October 1 Series Nonfiction Spotlight, including a focus on a new trend: series nonfiction and early literacy.