Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Getting a new name

The 9-year old has decided that we all need new names.

From now on, she wants to be called, G-K. (grand kid)
She calls my husband, G-D. (for grand dad)
And me -- she calls G-M.
I'm a Car Company?

GM for short

Monday, January 26, 2009

Sibert Medal winner -- We Are the Ship

This morning the American Library Association announced their awards for best children's books of last year. You can find the press release about them by following links on their home page.

It seemed appropriate for me to feature the winner of the Sibert Medal (best nonfiction book for children)on this Nonfiction Monday. Which just happened to also win two Coretta Scott King medals as well -- one for illustration and one for the writing. Since Kadir Nelson is both, he will be awarded both (plus one for the Sibert) in July at the Summer ALA convention.

We Are the Ship, the Story of Negro League Baseball, written and illustrated by Kadir Nelson, Jump at the Sun/Hyperion Books for Children, an imprint of Disney Book Group, 2008.
More information about this book can be found on the Publisher's website, here.

This history of the Negro Baseball League reads as if someone were sitting across from you, telling you the story. From the first words, "Seems like we've been playing baseball for a mighty long time." you're enthralled by a storyteller and there's no way you're going to move until the story reaches its conclusion. The illustrations are photographically (is that a word) perfect. The only way you know it's a painting is because the bleachers aren't filled with people -- just dabs of paint representing people. You can tell they are based on actual photographs of the people and places.

“Kadir Nelson's eight years of research score a grand slam in his rookie writing effort,” said Sibert Chair Carol K. Phillips.
The book also indicates his deep research by including an author's note, an index, chapter notes, bibliography, filmography, acknowledgments, and a foreword by Hank Aaron.

For a look at the Horn Book review of this book, check here.
Links to other blogs participating in Nonfiction Monday can be found here.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Vermont College Notes

There will be bits and pieces about my Vermont College Residency adventure for the next few weeks. And they will be in no order.

After our class (all four of us) gave our presentations about our critical essays, our advisor offered a few words and presented us with our Vermont College Writing for Children and Young Adults Picture Book Concentration Certificate.
When I was handed mine, I had the greatest urge my to grab the mike and begin to thank everyone.

"I want to thank my family for helping me through this.
Thank my advisor.
Thank Vermont College for accepting me to the program.
Thank my class for being so supportive and all around great people.
Thank the Class of 2010 for including us in all their events, even though two of us were leaving after getting this Certificate.
And I especially want to thank L.L. Bean for the jacket, boots, fleece sweaters and blankets that helped me survive the minus 27 degrees F. here in Vermont."

Here are some links to other students at Vermont College this January-- who managed to blog their adventures during the time they were there. One is a graduate who came back as a graduate assistant and the other is a school teacher. Watch her blog carefully -- she purposely made grammatical errors for her students to find.

I think others blogged (is that a word) about the adventure. I'll post their links whenever I find them.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Newbery/ Caldecott

The big ALA awards will be announced on Monday and there have been discussions on various blogs about who should win/ who could win.

Fuse #8's early discussion is here. (That's as far as i've gotten with my blog reading, now that I'm finally home from Vermont College.)

I can't wait to hear, Monday. Will you try to get linked to the streaming video from the Denver convention center? Or will you wait until the winners are posted on the ALA website. (some people are planning to TWITTER from the convention center. Who has access to that? I'll have to read more blogs tomorrow to find out.)

Good night, all.
-wendie O

Monday, January 19, 2009

If you were wondering about results of the bubble experiment, the surviving bubble lasted for half a day, then gradually collapsed.

Nonfiction Monday will return in the next weeks or so. Meanwhile, click here to visit all the other blogs who are participating.

I'm still here in Montpelier, Vermont -- at the Vermont College of Fine Arts in Writing for Children and Young Adults. I'm sad that my time here is almost over. Such a short time (less than 2 weeks) to shove masses of writing information into my brain.

We were warned not to blog about the lectures because the copyright to the lectures is owned by the people who gave them. (although some of the lectures are available on CD from the college website and I plan to purchase a bunch of the previous year's lectures, myself.) However, I can write on my blog about my own lecture.

Tomorrow the Picture Book Certificate group will present. That's my group. The four of us have each been alotted 15 minutes of the lecture time. We did two run-throughs today and I have to tell you, I am blown away by the quality of the other people in the class.

My own lecture will be about the Picture Book Biography -- History, Future, and How to write them. (We each worked on a critical essay about some part of the picture book world and then had to present our findings.)

Since I always like to post writing advice on this blog, during the next few weeks, I'll be posting tid-bits of my lecture here.

Oh, and we are having a heat wave -- it got above zero degrees yesterday and today it even got into the 20s. And it snowed again. I'm getting used to living in boots and fuzzy fleece sweaters.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Making snow

Now why, you are asking yourself, would someone want to make snow when there is already two feet of snow on the ground in Vermont?

Oh, I don't know.
It was an experiment.

My roommate made more bubbles this morning, wondering if they would shatter in the minus 23 F. degree weather. No, so far all the bubbles she blew simply froze. (one is still there. We are going to keep checking to see if it will last the whole day.)

Then she went on to the next experiment -- making snow.
She went outside with a cup of hot water and a cup of cold water.
When she threw the cup of cold water into the air -- it instantly made largish, hail-sized lumps of ice that fell to the ground.

But the hot water?
When she threw the hot water in the air, it came down as fine particles of SNOW.

Another student has told us that, when the weather is much, much colder (minus 50? who knows?), hot water will evaporate completely when you throw it out of the cup. But minus 23 is the coldest it's supposed to be this week, so we'll never know.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Bubble Experiment

Here I am in cozy Vermont.
In the Winter.
High of 5 degrees Farenheit yesterday.
High of -2 degrees today and low of -17.

But enough talk about the weather.
Before we came to the Winter Residency of the Vermont College Master of Fine Arts in Writing for Children and Young Adults, our picture book writing group had talked ahead of time about a science experiment we wanted to do.
How do below zero temperatures affect bubbles?

As we went to the last readings of the day at Vermont College last evening, my roommate blew bubbles.
The temperature was hovering around zero and they acted like normal bubbles.

Arround 10 pm, on the way back to the dorm, my roommate blew more bubbles. Or tried to.
No bubbles would come out of her bubble wand. Finally, she waved the wand frantically and
a small bubble flew out and drifted down to the snow. And stayed a bubble.

We touched it.
It was frozen -- in a bubble shape.
When we picked one up, it thawed and slowly collapsed like a balloon losing air, then melted.

It was -5 degrees farenheit.

I hear that beyond -10 degrees, bubbles shatter like glass.
We can't wait to try it again tonight.
at -17 degrees.
-wendie O

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Christmas Tree

Oh Christmas Tree
Oh Christmas Tree
How lovely are your BARE branches!

Both grandchildren are here this weekend and they helped take the tree down and clean up.
The little Angels! (ages 6 and 9)

Friday, January 9, 2009

Writing a Nonfiction Proposal

What have I been doing?
- Completing the replacement order for the Children's Department of my library branch.
- Cleaning and organizing my cubicle at work so that, when I come back in two weeks, I won't be overwhelmed.
- Writing my lecture for the Vermont College of Fine Arts Writing for Children and Young Adults Picture Book Certificate end of semester presentation. (and how they're going to put the name of the course I just took on the Certificate will be interesting to see.)
- Beginning my powerpoint presentation. Realizing that I'll have to complete it when I get to the college, because I have the wrong version of Powerpoint.
- Buying warm things so I won't freeze in the 0 to 12 degree weather in Vermont next week. ooooh, one or two days it's scheduled to get up to 23 degrees. A heat wave.
- and figuring out how to pack everything.
- plus, trying to get my home and family ready so they can survive without me for 2 weeks.

Which leads us to the title of this post -- Nathan Bransford mentioned on January 9th on his blog that Jessica Faust at BookEnds has a wonderful post on how to write a nonfiction book proposal. It's for adult books, but we children's book writers can easily adapt it for our own nonfiction projects.
Go. Read and learn.
-wendie O

Monday, January 5, 2009

NF Monday -- Sandy's Circus

Sandy's Circus -- a Story About Alexander Calder by Tanya lee Stone, illustrated by Boris Kulikov. New York: Viking Penguin, 2008.

Nonfiction Monday is back. It's a whole new year and there are new books to review.

Does anybody know who Alexander Calder was? (He's dead, you know.)
Well, does anybody know what a mobile is?
Yup, I thought you'd know what that was. Well, Sandy Calder invented them. He just loved to create moving sculptures -- mostly made out of wire. If he was out walking with a friend, Sandy would take out his ever-present coil of wire and his pliers. Twisting and bending the wire while they talked, he soon had a small portrait of his friend.

One day he made a lion. Lions need cages, so he made one. Lions need lion tamers, so he made one. Soon he had created a whole circus, complete with ringmaster. The circus didn't just sit there gathering dust -- no. He entertained his friends with circus performances.

It was a natural step from creating wire trapeze artists to forming shapes connected with wire hanging high and drifting in the wind. Enjoy your mobiles -- they were first invented by Alexander Calder.

Since this picture book biography does not show his life -- only his art and how it came to be -- it is cataloged in the 730's instead of the Biography area. But it can easily be read and enjoyed by second graders and up.

For other Nonfiction Monday posts, click here.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Your guide to ALA

Registration opens on Monday for The Annual American Library Association Conference to be held this summer in Chicago -- July 9 - 14. Those of you who have been to ALA before, go head and ignore this message and move on to another one.
If you have never been -- here's some of the things I've learned. (searching through my files to find my usual ALA information -hmmmm.)

These are thoughts off the top of my head, with no order of importance:
1) You need to click on this link. That's where ALA posts most of the information the ordinary conference-goer needs to know about the 2009 summer conference in Chicago in July. Hotels (location/ prices), registration form, and eventually the tentative schedule of events.

2) During the first few minutes of open pre-registration, I have a feeling that the publishers and exhibitors are online making reservations. Which means that, by the time the rest of us think of it, a lot of the rooms are already booked. I was on the waiting list for a while for the hotel I really wanted last summer, but finally did get in Probably because the publishers overbook and then let rooms go when they don't need them.

3) No, there is not ONE single conference hotel that most people stay in. You can choose from inexpensive to very expensive, all that the nice conference rate. Most are about $200 per night, so don't faint from sticker shock because the normal prices of those rooms in downtown Chicago are over $400/night.
The Headquarters is the Hilton -- but it's halfway away from everything. Although free ALA busses run during the day, keep in mind the possible expense of taxis home during the evening from any event elsewhere.
There is one hotel next to the convention center -- but the same thing applies. It's convenient during the day if you want to rest, but inconvenient during the evening if you want to party.
All the rest of the hotels are in the Chicago Loop and are nicely located near everything. Plus you have that free ALA convention bus to take you to and from any meeting at any hotel and at the convention center. Those are the hotels I'm aiming at. (see ALA website for list and map)
--All of the hotels have internet, some wireless some high-speed. Plus there are two Internet rooms at the convention center.

4) What days to plan for?
If you are not a librarian, you don't need to get there for the Pre-conferences on Thursday and Friday. Arriving Friday or Saturday morning will ensure you the full weekend at the exhibits. And it does take two days to walk the exhibits, especially if you want to attend meetings, too. Since I wear both a librarian hat and a writer's hat, I go frantic during this time going back and forth.
-- Friday evening is the Booklist presentation, always an interesting event. Last year the first ever Audio awards were given out then. See Odyssey (sp) awards.
-- Exhibits open early Saturday morning. I never make it to the grand opening. (food and goodies being handed out at booths.) They close about 5 pm Saturday and Sunday. I forget when they close on Monday. Goodies are handed out at various times during the day, so you might reach an exhibitor who has run out and doesn't plan to offer more until mid-afternoon -- or Sunday.
--Should you get an Exhibits Only pass, or should you register for the whole conference, or should you get a one-day registration, or should you ask your publisher to sponsor you with a publisher's pass to the exhibits? It's up to you. The regular registration allows you to enter any meeting. Sitting in and listening to the discussions of Best Books for Young Adults committee or the Notable Books committee, etc. is interesting. You never can sit in with the Newbery/ Caldecott/ Prince/ or other award committees. They are private. If you are interested in other author presentations besides ours, you will need a regular registration, not just the exhibits pass. On the other hand, if you've already gotten your publisher to agree to sponsor you, you can move around anywhere with THAT pass, too.
-- There are various luncheons where they give out awards to people. You have to pay extra for that. Sunday evening is the Newbery/ Caldecott Banquet. This is a bit dressy and a lot of fun -- especially if you loved the winning books and would like to come cheer for the authors/ illustrators. (see Fuse #8's blog and my blog about that event. Others, too) It's going to be difficult for this year's winners to follow the wonderful program that last year's winners gave.
-- The exhibits are not as crowded on Monday -- a lot of the working librarians and the general public, who came to get author's autographs, go home. Which means you can now go re-visit some of the exhibits that you would like to examine more closely. Why? It's a good way to see what publishers are producing -- what appeals to them. Think about what you might have you could send to them. Ask them if they are accepting submissions. (some are not, right now) But, of course you know that you do NOT carry your manuscript with you and thrust it at them. Unfortuately, most editors are NOT at the booths on Monday and the Marketing people who are there might not know the answers to this question.
--The exhibits are about one third book (and audio/video) producers and one third electronic/ computer/ technology services and one third furniture salesmen. With some program suppliers thrown in the mix.
-- If you overload yourself with goodies, there's a post office inside the convention center so that you can mail them home.
-- Get an Author Badge. They are available at the Walk-In Registration booth. Now, I know you-all will be pre-registered, but once you have your ALA stuff from the pre-registered area, get thee over to Walk-In and get the Author badge. People LOVE to talk to authors. Plus, with that author badge on your nametag, you can go anywhere.
-- meetings. Do go to the ones where publishers talk about their latest books. (you'll also get a goodie bag from them with some of those books in it.) Listen carefully as the editors explain just why these books are good ones. It gives you clues as how to improve your own writing.
-- If you are interested in the Siebert Award (for best non-fiction) and the Geisel Award (for best EAsy Reader, which does include nonfiction), then try to get to the ALSC (Asso. of Library service to Children) annual meeting on Monday, about 10 am. Last year Mo Willems gave the funniest speech, as he tried to accept the award using an easy-reader script.

What else would you like to know?

-wendie old

Friday, January 2, 2009

Cybils Award Shortlist announced

This just in:
Jen Robinson ( Jen Robinson's Book Page) just announced that the judges have come up with the shortlists for the Cybils Award. Just click on this link to find the shortlist. :

The Cybils Award is given to those books that the online BLOGGERS community think are the best books of the year, that is, published in 2008. You may find a lot of your own favorite titles here. Plus, it makes a great buying guide for late Holiday gifts or birthdays or for just no reason at all. The formatted, printable (if you have MS Word) lists will be available soon.

Happy New Year, everyone!
-wendie O