Saturday, November 06, 2004

Writing the YA Novel

I taught a class today for the Writers' League of Texas on writing the YA novel. It was such a sparkling class--filled with thoughtful, attentive writers asking great questions. It inspires me to talk to beginners--so much potential. I hope they enjoyed it half as much as I did and learned...something!

I also brought home a stack of partial mss and just finished sending out initial thoughts to the writers via email. It's amazing! With work, every one of them could be a quite successfully published novel. Sure, they were in different stages of completion, but I can still tell.

I invited them to write with any additional questions as time goes by. I hope they all keep in touch!

In other news, one of my mentees Debbi Michiko Florence, writes today in her blog of her first gig as a writer. I'm so proud of her!

Friday, November 05, 2004

Healing Books

My friend Kathi Appelt sent me a book today, Seven Choices: Finding Daylight After Loss Shatters Your World by Elizabeth Harper Neeld, Ph.D. (Warner Books, 1990, 2003).

I was flipping through the book when a chapter titled "Helping Children and Teenagers Deal With Loss" caught my eye. Among the recommended resources is my first novel, Rain Is Not My Indian Name (Harper, 2001), along with some of my favorite books about grieving/healing, including Bluebird Summer by Deborah Hopkinson (Harper, 2001) and books about hope, including River Friendly, River Wild by Jane Kurtz (Simon & Schuster, 2000).

Nifty link:

The Teen Book Club from Dear Reader. Sign up online to receive chapters of top YA novels in your "in" box. This week's book is Comedy Girl by Ellen Schreiber.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

The Planet Esmé Bookroom

Oh, happy day!

The Planet Esmé Bookroom is a new "private, non-circulating library and literary salon geared toward parents and elementary school teachers is dedicated to the principles found in How to Get Your Child to Love Reading by Esmé Raji Codell."

It's located at 2646 West Pratt in Chicago.

I love Esmé! I love books! I love Chicago!


Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Celebrity Books

I generally refrain from cranky-ness as it too often bears no fruit. However, on the subject of celebrity books, I must say that most of the celebrities themselves are in fact unknown to children; the appeal is to parents out of touch with their own young readers. At the very least, these books send the message that quality does not matter. I'm by no means alone in this opinion.

Check out...

Critics, authors chafe as more celebrities join ranks of children's authors by Karen MacPherson, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Learn more about Linda Sue Park, Jane Yolen, Katie Davis, Maurice Sendak, and Robert McCloskey.

Kid Magazine Writers

This week, I'm largely devoting myself to preparing for a class on "Writing The YA Novel" and upcoming talks on "Native American Children's Literature" and on "Technology and Children's Literature." Each of these are wholly customized for the particular audiences and all of them will be augmented by handouts.

I'm also trying to let my WIP rest with some mixed results (on the trying, not on the manuscript).

Here's a link of interest:

Kid Magazine Writers: a Web site for those who write for children's magazines, which includes market information (such as editor interviews), writing lifestyle issues, and craft.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

The People Could Fly

The People Could Fly by Virginia Hamilton, illustrated by Leo and Diane Dillon (Knopf, 2004). A picture book edition of one of the 24 stories in Hamilton's The People Could Fly: American Black Folktales (1985) featuring breathtaking, heartbreaking, heart soaring illustrations by the Dillons. The text is a poem, a story, a fantasy, a celebration of freedom. Hamilton died in 2002, and this book is a perfect tribute. If only every home and library could have a copy. If only. (ages 7-up). Highest recommendation; a necessity.

Monday, November 01, 2004

Author Interview and Web Site Updates

Debbi Michiko Florence writes that she has updated a number of the interviews on her site. Check out the latest news from:
Pat Lowery Collins;
Laura Williams McCaffrey;
Greg Leitich Smith (that's my honey!);
Cynthia Leitich Smith (that's me!).

Visit children's author/illustrator Teri Sloat! Her site is fun, colorful, and includes information about her titles, including: From Letter To Letter (Dutton); From One To One Hundred (Dutton); The Really, Really Bad Book Of Monster Jokes (Candlewick); There Was An Old Lady Who Swallowed A Trout (Holt); and many more!

Mississippi Morning

Mississippi Morning by Ruth Vander Zee, illustrated by Floyd Cooper (Eerdman's, 2004). James always accepted that blacks and whites couldn't eat at the same tables or drink from the same fountains, but he's shocked and horrified when his fishing buddy LeRoy tells him about the misdeeds of the Klan, and even more stricken to see his own father walking home one morning in a white hood and robe. Ages 9-up.

More From Cyn

Despite the traditional focus of multicultural children's literature on racism (among other things), it is rare and important to see a story in which a child must confront racist and violent actions coming from his own family.

Mississippi Morning is a historical book, set in the south, which is completely appropriate; but unfortunately, it should also be noted that the Klan still exists today and by no means restricts its activities or membership to the southern United States.

Sunday, October 31, 2004

Sock Monkey Goes To Hollywood

Sock Monkey Goes To Hollywood: A Star Is Bathed by CeCe Bell (Candlewick, 2003). The good news: Sock Monkey, the famous actor, has been invited to the Oswald Awards; he was nominated for Best Supporting Toy. The bad news: He has to be clean at the event. Stinky soap, icy water, scratchy towels! Whatever will Sock Monkey do? This hilarious story is packed with emotion and drama, a must-read for reluctant bathers and those who love them. Ages 3-up. First time author/illustrator to watch!
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