Monday, January 30, 2012

Nonfiction Monday is HERE!

Welcome to Nonfiction Monday, the day when kid lit bloggers talk about nonfiction books for children and for you and me.  (They're all good.)  During the day I'll be adding to this list so do come back and check all the links out this evening.

First up is Jone MacCulloch on the blog, Check it Out, Life and Books in a K5 Library School Setting who encourages us to Get the Scoop on Animal Poop! by Dawn Cusick. Ya know? I had that very question a year or so ago in my library , except the boy was asking for 'animal scat.'  I could have used this book then.

Fats writes a review on Sawdust and Spangles: The Amazing Life of W. C. Coup by Ralph Covert and G. Riley Mills illustrated by Giselle Potter at the blog, Gathering Books. This blog entry must get the prize for most illustrated post.  Go see for yourself. 
Actually, I think I have the blog writer's name wrong here.  On the blog it has a smiley face after it like this --  fats:)

Mary Ann Scheuer at Great Kids Books shares How Did That Get in My Lunchbox? by Chris Butterworth. She says that she loves the informative but encouraging tone of this look at how food travels from the farm to our table. And, oh my goodness, she inserted the Google preview of the book into her blog. Great idea.

Roberta Gibson has a review of Stranger at Home, a True Story on her blog, Wrapped In Foil. It's a sequel to the memoir, Fatty Legs. In Stranger at Home, a young Inuit girl tells about her life when she returns home only to find her life at a boarding school had changed her.

Amy at Hope is the Word has a review of Yucky Worms by Vivian French, which although it's a story about grandmother planting a garden, has lots of worm information to fascinate the child in the story -- and the child reader, too.

Over at A Teaching Life, Tara features Meadowlands, A Wetland Story an inspiring tale about how New Jersey discovered the importance of wetlands and restored the Meadowlands near New York City. She also reviewed Allan Drummond's Energy Island: How one Community Harnessed the Wind and Changed Their World, and a biography of the poet Pablo Neruda, plus a picture book story about a child finding his family again during the aftermath of the civil war. 

Over at Jean Little Library (Don't cha just love a blog and a library with the name of a popular children's book author?), Jennifer takes a look at The Fabulous Flying Machines of Alberto Santos-Dumont, another "inventor" of airplanes during that rush-to-the-sky era in the early 20th century. This book takes three fictionalized looks at turning points in his life, but does have an extensive nonfiction author's note.

Shirley Duke who blogs at the Simply Science Blog -- Books and Simple Science Lessons, reviews Laura Purdie Salas' newest book of poetry, A Leaf Can Be, which is full of leaf facts both in the poetry and in the back matter.

Lisa at Shelf Employed has a conundrum.  She offers you the trailer for Suryia and Roscoe, the True Story of an Unlikely Friendship (very cute) by Dr. Bhagavan Antle, Barry Bland and Thea Feldman-- a book she considers nonfiction but the Library of Congress classification for it is fiction.  Stay tuned to her blog to see if she gets an answer from the publisher about this conundrum.

Oh goodie -- a new book about houses around the world! Alice at Supratentorial gives us If You Lived Here by Giles Larouche, illustrated with bas-relief paper cut collage. 

True Tales and a Cherry on Top, Jeanne Walker Harvey's blog, offers a patriotic theme with a biography of Betsy Ross in 64 words, which continues the legend of the five-pointed star.

Jeff Barger at his NC Teacher Stuff blog posted a review of A Warmer World by Caroline Arnold. (I don't know about your neighborhood, but this has been the warmest January on record here in Maryland which makes this book right on target discussing global change.) 

At the Apples with Many Seeds blog Tammy Flanders is looking at The Force Born of Truth, Mohandas Gandhi and the Salt March by Betsy Kuhn, one of a series of books for highschoolers about civil rights movements around the world.

All About the Books with Janet Squires has mind-stretching math riddles in the Grapes of Math by Greg Tang.

Wow -- There's a Marvelous Middle Grade Nonfiction Guy Monday (don't you just love that blog post title) over at Ms. Yingling Reads, books for middle school students especially boys. She has the lowdown on two books on Forensics: Police Forensics by Adam Sutherland (NF) and she partners it with a fiction book -- Guy Langman, Crime Scene Procrastinator by Josh Berk. 

The Biblio phile, written by Jeannie (Librarian ninja, among other things), features a National Geographic Kids book: Tornato, The Story Behind these Twisting, Turning, Spinning and Spiraling Storms by that famous writer team of Judith Bloom Frandin and Denis Brindell Frandin.

Sibert Award Winner, Marc Aronson, talks about his newest book-- Master of Deceit: J. Edgar Hoover and America in the Age of Lies over at the NonFiction Book Blast blog. If you are going to attend the June meeting of ALA, be sure to plan to be at the Nonfiction Book Blast presentation to meet a lot of your favorite nonfiction writers and hear about their new books. (and then go to their publisher's booth to get copies signed by them.) Of course, the other reason to go to ALA this summer is that it's at Disneyland. Take your family and enjoy both books and the amusement park.

Over at Booktalking Children's Books, Anastasia Suen brings our attention to two books: Polar Bears by Mark Newman, and Sky Sailors, True Stories of the Balloon Era by David L. Bristow.

We've Got a Job: The 1963 Birmingham Children's March by Cynthia Levinson got a smashing review on the blog, Laurie Thompson -- Inspiring and Empowering Young Changemakers. She says, "It's a Must Read!"

Bookends, a blog on the magazine, Booklist Online, has a review of The Worst of Friends: Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, and the True Story of an American Feud, by Suzanne Tripp Jurman. The reviewer today is Lynn Rutan.

The Mangrove Tree: Planting Trees to Feed Families by Susan L. Roth and Cyndy Trumbore is the featured book at The Swimmer Writer today.

Allison Hamer at Better with a Book says that Swirl by Swirl: Spirals in Nature written by Joyce Sidman invites us to look at the world around us a little differently. 

I was cleaning out my Spam Filter today (Friday) and discovered another Nonfiction Monday announcement had been caught there. So sorry that this entry is late.
 Heidi Grange at Geo Librarian featured Kubla Kahn, Emperor of Everything by Kathleen Krull. 

Friday, January 27, 2012

Authors, authors, and more authors in Philly in February

My friend, Linda Trice, sent me this announcement:

 This will be especially exciting for parents, educators 
and librarians: 

 Walter Dean Myers, Jerry Pinkney, Javaka Steptoe,
 E.B. Lewis and Linda Price will be among the
 authors and illustrators who will be participating
 in the African American Children’s Book Fair in
Philadelphia on Saturday Feb. 4, 2012.
The fair is 1-3 PM.
It is free.
There will be games for children, giveaways, short readings
and of course book signings.
NBC will cover the event.

This is the 20th year of the fair. 
Click on “The Brown Bookshelf’ to read about the history 
of the fair and the challenges, obstacles and triumph
of the one woman who saw her dream become a success.

Linda's book, Kenya’s Word (Charlesbridge Publications) 
can be bought at the fair. 
It can always be ordered from any bookseller. 

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Please ask your State Legislators to Support Libraries

Although the link in this post is to Maryland's call to action, I encourage you to contact your own state legislator.

January 25th - February 1st - Ask State Legislators to Support Libraries

Each year, members of the Maryland library community participate in Maryland Library Legislative Day. This annual event is an opportunity to advocate for libraries in Annapolis. The Senate and House of Delegates declare the day as Maryland Library Day, visits with legislators are conducted and the day culminates with a reception. This is a great opportunity to thank legislators for their past support of libraries, increase awareness about services that libraries provide to their constituents, promote the value of libraries and encourage support for all types of libraries.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Rest in Peace, Carolyn Reeder

A wonderful historical fiction author has died, Carolyn Reeder.  Click on the link to see her books which have won many awards, including the Scott O'Dell award for historical fiction.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Learn as if you were to live forever

"Live as if you were to die tomorrow; learn as if you were to live forever." Gandhi

And people wonder why I'm back in college, taking graduate courses in writing.  Now I have a suitable response.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Watching the ALA Media Awards on Monday

On Monday, the American Library Association announces the winner of their awards. Various committees have been meeting all year long, by email and in person, choosing the best of various types of books and audio Visual versions of books. (Thus the award ceremony is called the Media Award Ceremony.)

I've actually been in the room when these were announced and I have to tell you that the tension grows tighter and higher as they are announced, leaving the major awards of Caldecott and Newbery for last.  One year one of my own books was in contention for one of these awards and I was sitting in the meeting room, on pins and needles until I gave myself a good shake, telling myself that my editor, who was also at the media awards, would have told me if I had won. (another one of her books did win.)

For years, the minute the award ceremony ended, librarians would rush out of the room and fight over the pay phones in the hallway so that they could, 1) order more copies of the winners and 2) tell their staff at their workplace what the winners were.

Nowadays, everyone is cool.  There are companies who will instantly order X-many copies of the books for your library system AND the winners are posted on the ALA website an hour after the announcements. Some librarians are either Tweeting the announcements or posting the info on their blogs the minute they happen. So all the librarians attending this event have to do is remain in the room and casually discuss the winners and hash over the ones that should have won. (in their opinion)

Recently, the award ceremony has been streamed over the Internet. Last year, the whole student body (and faculty) of Vermont College of Fine Arts gathered in a meeting room and watched the streaming announcement as it happened.  So exciting. Why?  Because I WAS SITTING NEXT to ONE of THE WINNERS! Rita Williams-Garcia, one of our faculty members, won the Corretta Scott King award plus also a Newbery Honor, in addition to her National Book award for One Crazy Summer. 

If you want to watch it on this coming Monday, here's the info:

For those of you who will not be in Dallas on Monday, you can watch the award press conference here, at least until it crashes due to traffic overload! If and when that happens, you might find the Twitter feed more useful.
 All this is supposed to begin at 7:45 a.m. MT, which would be 8:45 for east coasters, 5:45 for west coasters, etc.

I hope your book/ media wins!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Nonfiction Monday -- a Craft of Nonfiction Storytelling Workshop

Information was sent to me about a great workshop put on by the Highlights Foundation:

The Craft of Nonfiction Storytelling

     "There have been great societies that did not use the wheel, but there have been no societies that did not tell stories." -Ursula K. Le Guin

     It's not enough to have the facts. You have to tell the story. Balancing both is the challenge of any nonfiction manuscript, and it doesn't just happen. Research has to be vetted. Stories have to be compelling and accurate. Together, facts and narrative must capture the hearts and imaginations of young readers. Sometimes, you just can't do it alone. You need a trusted reader. An experienced guide. A helping hand.

     For twenty-seven years, the Highlights Foundation has been fulfilling its mission of improving the quality of children's literature by helping authors and illustrators hone their skills. The Whole Novel Workshop, launched in 2006, expands its offerings this year with a program specifically designed for nonfiction. During our week-long Nonfiction Narrative Workshop, May 20-26, you'll have the chance to learn the craft of nonfiction storytelling with our award-winning faculty, including Carolyn Yoder, Susan Campbell Bartoletti, and Elizabeth Partridge. (I know these people and recommend them highly.)

You'll gather with other dedicated writers, talking the talk, discussing your questions, and learning the subtleties of what makes a good manuscript a great book. You can enjoy all this, along with the quiet tranquility of your own cabin and the kind of farmhouse hospitality that makes you feel right at home.

     During the workshop, your full manuscript will be read and critiqued by one of our faculty, you'll have time to discuss your goals and vision for the story, and you'll leave with a revision plan that will clarify and polish the text. We'll also give you support as you prepare your pitch, query, and synopsis to ensure the manuscript is given full consideration by agents and editors. Get the help you need to tell the facts and the story. Join us for the Whole Nonfiction Narrative Workshop.

     To find out more, contact Jo Lloyd at 570-253-1192, e-mail Jo at, or visit to request an application. 

     To view more 2012 Founders Workshops, which take place near Honesdale, Pennsylvania, please visit

     Please feel free to share this information with others who might have an interest or to include the information in blog posts or through other social networking forums.

The Highlights Foundation is a public, not-for-profit 501©3 organization. We dedicate our efforts to connecting, nurturing, and inspiring children's book writers and illustrators.

For links to other blog posts about children's nonfiction check out the list at The Swimmer Writer blog.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Semester 3 Reveals their name

For those of you who wondered about the strange design I put on the blog last week, all now can be revealed. Although I was not able to be at Vermont College this week for the January residency, I still want to give a cheer for my classmates because they revealed their class name today.
Here's the YouTube link to the video they used as part of their presentation.

The class name is Dystropians -- a take-off combination of the writer's term "Trope" plus the predictions about Dystopia scheduled to begin in this year of 2012.

We are the DYSTROPIANS: Writers of the Apocalypse!

The other part of the presentation had the whole class up on stage wearing black hoodies, which they took off to reveal awesome black tshirts with the saying, Dystropians -- We Survive! on them. (plus a fantastic writers swiss army knife full of pens and markers and a flash drive instead of knives, etc.)

I wish I had been able to be there.  I wish you-all had been there to see it.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Interviews with Picture Book Editors

I've discovered an interesting new blog called Picture This written by picture book author, Rob Sanders.

Click here to read the first part of an interview with Picture Book Editor, Maria Modugno.  Then click on "newer post" to read the next three parts of this interview.

Click here to read the first part of an interview with Picture Book Editor, Diane Muldrow. Then click on "newer post" to read the next three parts of this interview.

Keep reading Picture This to learn all about writing picture books.  Lotsa good information there. His latest post is all about setting goals for 2012. He also has a great list of the best picture books of 2011.  Go see.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Nonfiction Monday -- Emperor Penguin

Brrrrr.  It's cold outside.
News Flash -- it's wintertime; it's supposed to be cold outside. (but has been strangely warm lately)
Therefore it's now time to examine books like those in the series: A Day in the Life: Polar Animals.

Emperor Penguin by Katie Marsico. (illustrated with photographs) Chicago, IL: Heinemann Library, 2012.  Available now.
Oh, I hadn't known that Capstone bought up Heinemann - Raintree.  How about that?

Hmmm, maybe this book would be better to read in the summer.  Each page not only has photographs of the snow in Antarctica, but snowflake designs on a pale blue frosty (cold) background.

Suitable for first graders, this book has two sentences per page below the photo illustration. Each sentence has the standard Subject/ verb/ predicate arrangement.  The book ends with the longest sentence of the book: "Then young emperor penguins leave their parents to explore the snow world around them!" which will probably inspire young naturalists to want to find out more.

This series doesn't vary the placement of the photographs; it's the same on every page -- Picture above and two sentences below. There are some excellent underwater photographs of a flock of penguins swimming plus a closeup of their major food -- Krill -- which will interest young naturalists.

The last page contains an Index, two books for further reading, and two websites.  One is the National Geographic website. Although it doesn't list videos (okay, now they are DVDs), there are also a good many DVDs teachers and parents could borrow from their local library for further exploration of this cold weather bird.

Other books in this series include:
Arctic Fox
Leopard Seal (hmm, they eat penguins)
Polar Bear

For links to more great reviews of nonfiction books, go check out this blog:
Great Kid Books.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Agents talk

There's a nice blog I like to read, written by someone who only calls herself The Intern. Where does she do her internship? She works for publishers and sometimes for agents. And she tells all (okay, she tells some) on her blog.

Here's a post where she attends a dinner, surrounded by agents -- who talk about the submissions they've seen. This is not a Submission Fail discussion. It turns out that agents talk about "the one that got away," and they compare notes.  Click on over and become a fly on the wall at this discussion.

(Now I can't get the tune of "It's a Small, Small World" out of my head.)

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

New Ambassador for Young People's Literature

Wonderful news -- Walter Dean Myers is the new National Ambassador for Young People's Literature, replacing the retiring Katherine Paterson.
Read it here in the New York Times.

And there's a longer article here in School Library Journal.

Sunday, January 1, 2012