Thursday, January 31, 2008
I've been a reviewer of children's and YA books for Kirkus for a little over a year now, with Karen as my editor. Thanks to the wonders of GTalk I've had the opportunity to chat with Karen about things other than books. I have decided, along with Diana Tixier Herald and Cindy Eagan, that Karen is on my list of People I Would Like to Be When I Grow Up. (Yes, technically, I am a grownup, but I think we should all have aspirations all our lives, don't you?). I'll also admit that I'm terrified of her! How else should you feel about the children's book editor of what you consider one of the best review journals out there? Karen is a force to be reckoned with and I hope to see her around ALA conventions in the future.
Karen, should you read this, thank you for all your guidance and the opportunity to review some terrific books. I wish you the best.
Tuesday, January 29, 2008
And now, those t-shirts can be ours.
Starting in April, Random House is reissuing the Sweet Valley High series. Everyone's favorite blonde, five-foot-six, lavaliere-wearing identical twins are back in all their identical-but-couldn't-be-more-different glory. Random, bless them, gave out galleys at ALA Midwinter, so I picked one up and read it.
What you may consider spoilers will follow. If you're spoiler-sensitive, now may be a good time to click your back button.
At their cores, the SVH books are still the same. They're still about life in sunny, middle-class Southern California. Jessica and Elizabeth's personalities are still the same. Jessica still schemes and ruins Elizabeth's clothes, and Elizabeth still prefers spending time with a few close friends over going to parties. Some details from the original series are changed. The twins no longer drive a Fiat Spider or hang out at the Dairi Burger. Elizabeth has an anonymous blog instead of an anonymous print gossip column. That's the bad news. The good news is that the plot still holds up, more or less.
The greatest thing about the SVH series is that the plots are timeless. Regardless of decade, teens still deal with issues of sibling rivalry, romance, feuding families, annoying but loving older brothers, and gossip. Those themes that drive the SVH series are still relevant today, which is why I think there's a good chance this repackaged series will find a new generation of readers. The other nice thing about the series is that there's no overt sex (at least, not in the first book), so this could be a nice recommendation for those who like "clean" romances or those who want a step up from The Clique but one down from Gossip Girl. Jessica and Elizabeth certainly like boys, but they're not hopping into bed with them. Even though Jessica likes a little danger in her life, she's not stupid enough to stay with the guy who endangers his life (and hers).
And years after I read the first books, I still want Lila Fowler's wardrobe.
crossposted at A Chair, A Fireplace & A Tea Cozy
Tuesday, January 22, 2008
Harry Potter Character Combatibility Test
created with QuizFarm.com
|You scored as Percy Weasley|
You are Percy Weasley. You're extremely ambitious and set very high and sometimes unrealistic goals for yourself. You're a stickler for the rules and don't find yourself having much time for play. Be careful, because if you set your mind too much into your goals you can become ignorant and stray away from what's really important.
Honestly, this didn't surprise me at all. The questions on the quiz were very similar to what you'd see in a standard MBTI test. In fact, here's a Harry Potter MBTI test that I took...bet you'll be surprised at the result...
Harry Potter Personality Quiz by Pirate Monkeys Inc.
On every MBTI test I take, I score off the charts as an ESTJ. That's not surprising; ESTJs are the most common personality type, making up more or less 10% of the world's population. My second-highest score of Draco Malfoy, according to the Pirate Monkeys quiz, is an ESTP, only one MBTI step and most of a world removed from what I am. Many large companies use MBTI testing as part of their job application or promotion process, but I prefer to use it to analyze fictional characters. Luna Lovegood, for example, is an INTJ and contrary to the Pirate Monkeys label, I think the Weasley twins are textbook ESFPs, like my youngest sister. In my other pop-culture interests, Charlie Eppes and Gil Grissom are INTPs (like my husband), Don Eppes is an ESTJ, Dean Winchester is an ESFJ (SJs are classified as "Guardians" or "Protectors," and Dean is a guardian if I ever saw one), and Sam Winchester...he's a little harder to figure out but I'd say he's closest to an ISTP.
So there's your dose of psychology for the day.
You know what? If I were on this year's Edwards committee, I'd fully admit to that "mistake." Only it's not a mistake. Normally I like what YPulse has to say about books and reading, but in discussing the Edwards award they completely missed the mark.
Kimberly Paone and Roger Sutton are absolutely right in their statements to School Library Journal. The politically correct answer is that it's icky that Orson Scott Card got what is more or less the YALSA Lifetime Achievement Award for a book, but political correctness does not and should not have any bearing on the Edwards Award. If we hold Orson Scott Card to a certain standard then we must hold ALL the recipients to that standard, and that would be ridiculous because the scope of the award is not based on an author's life or personal thoughts. It's based on his or her art and contribution to the YA genre. There's a possibility that in 10 years, David Levithan will be given the Edwards for Boy Meets Boy, and couldn't the same argument be made then, that his writing about positive, fun GLBT characters is somehow wrong and corrupting of teenagers? I may not feel that way personally, but I guarantee that many people do today and will ten years from now. If Card should be chastised and denied an award for speaking his mind on GLBTQ people, then couldn't Levithan be chastised and denied that same award for doing the same, only in the opposite direction?
In many aspects of life librarians have to separate the personal from the professional. There's one author whose books I don't like at all and usually don't recommend, but I think the author is a great person. I hated more than one book I voted for at Popular Paperbacks this year because I knew that despite my dislike of them, they fit the charge of the committee perfectly. I review for Kirkus and VOYA and my separation of personal and professional is tested on a near-daily basis when writing for those publications. Giving awards and positive reviews to books and authors is almost never a black-and-white issue.
Try again, YPulse. It's not all about you.
Yesterday, YA author John Green and his brother, environmentalist Hank Green, spoke on NPR's All Things Considered about their Brotherhood 2.0 video blogging project. Brothers Reconnect Using Video Blogging. I have all my usual thoughts about the Brotherhood 2.0 project of course: Nerdfighters rule! Why didn't I think of this, because my sister is totally a YouTube star in the making? Why am I not even half as smart and cool as John and Hank? But my biggest ponderance?
I wonder what the first print run of Paper Towns is going to look like.
Background: Those who know me know that I love book industry gossip. I have this weird ability to remember not just titles and authors of books, but who publishes them. Go ahead, quiz me! I'm fascinated by print runs and galleys and the editing and marketing process. Unrelated (mostly) to this, if I had to make a guess I'd say that the first watchers of Brotherhood 2.0 were YA librarians, because John Green was already quite well known in YA lit circles for having won the Printz Award for his first novel, Looking for Alaska. And of course, since librarians are some of the coolest people in the world, we helped spread the love of Brotherhood 2.0.
B2.0 didn't start until after John had won a Printz honor for his second book, An Abundance of Katherines, so until then there was no question as to the relative popularity of his books. But at Midwinter, Dutton announced a September, 2008 release date for John's third book, Paper Towns. With the popularity of Brotherhood 2.0 (They've been on NPR! In the NYTimes! On more than one EW Popwatch Must List! Front-paged on YouTube!), I'm not wondering if John will come up with something Printzworthy, but how many copies are going to be in the first print run.
I have no idea what the first print runs were of Alaska and Katherines. I can only assume that the first print run of Katherines was noticeably larger than the first run of Alaska. Either way, both of those books came out before John and Hank made their video blog and were featured on NPR, the NYT, etc. I'm not saying that John's books weren't popular, but let's face it, an author who wins a Printz and an honor with his first two books out automatically earns the label of "librarian's author," among others. (Other "librarian's authors:" Chris Crutcher, Ron Koertge, Chris Lynch, for example.) I know many people have gone on to love Alaska and Katherines, but let's face it, they're not Gossip Girl in terms of popularity. Through B2.0, John's found a new readership. There's no way their 16,000+ YouTube subscribers were all YA librarians or otherwise YA literature professionals. Dutton has got to know this, and I am now dying to see how they'll respond to John's internet popularity in the first print run of Paper Towns. 100,000 first printing? 200,000? Oh, the curiosity.
(If anyone from Dutton is reading this, inquiring minds want to know!)
Thursday, January 17, 2008
- The seventeeth floor of the Simon & Schuster building is a...the best way I can describe it is librarian fairyland. It's white with dark bookcases and accents and is sort of a cross between a S&S museum and Daddy Warbucks's house in the movie Annie. Pictures of their famous authors hang on the walls. The main hallway echoes. And the room where the presentation was held had bookcases built into the walls. I want to live there when I grow up.
- The guest of honor was John Scieszka, who I've never met in person. The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales is an all-time favorite of mine, so it was squee-inducing to hear him speak. He introduced the audience to his upcoming picture-book series, Trucktown and...SMASH! CRASH! One of the best things about the series is that it emphasizes having fun and making noise, which so often gets lost in all the "educational" books and videos but are so important to child development.
- I'm not on the 2009 Printz committee, but if I were I'd be saving this book for future reference: You Know Where to Find Me by Rachel Cohn. It's a first-person story of two close cousins, one of whom commits suicide despite having a seemingly perfect life. It has a fabulous sense of place and the characterizations are weird but wonderful. It's a departure from what we usually see from Rachel Cohn, and a wonderful departure at that. Not that Rachel Cohn writes bad books, just that this one is quite different.
- Perfect You by Elizabeth Scott is a very well structured, yet sad, addition to the chick-lit genre. Without spoiling it, I will say this: I really admired that Scott put the proverbial gun on the mantel in Acts I and II and fired it in Act III. The ending of the book was difficult to read but very well done.
- Other books I picked up but haven't had a chance to read because I was so busy reading for ALA Midwinter: City of Ashes: The Mortal Instruments, Book 2 by Cassandra Clare, Secrets of my Suburban Life by Lauren Baratz-Logsted, Three Little Words by Ashley Rhodes-Courter, and Me, In-Between, also by Lauren Baratz-Logsted,
- Books I didn't pick up at the preview, but am expecting in the mail: Wake by Lisa McMann and I Heart You, You Haunt Me by Lisa Schroeder
I could occupy myself for a month just with S&S. I really need to change my "books" tag to "so many books, so little time."
Monday, January 14, 2008
Theodor Seuss Geisel Award: Honors: First the Egg by Laura Vaccaro Seeger, Hello Bumblebee Bat by Darrin Lunde, Jazz Baby by Lisa Wheeler, Vulture View by April Sayre, Winner: There Is a Bird on Your Head! by Mo Willems
Coretta Scott King Award: Winner: Brendan Buckley's Universe and Everything in It by Sundee T. Frazier, Steptoe Award for New Talent Honors: November Blues by Sharon Draper, Twelve Rounds To Glory by Charles R. Smith Jr., King Author Award: Elijah of Buxton by Christopher Paul Curtis; Illustrator Honor: The Secret Olivia Told Me, Jazz on a Saturday Night ; Winner: Let it Shine by Ashley Bryan
Caldecott Award: Honors: Henry's Freedom Box by Kadir Nelson (illus.) and Ellen Levine, First the Egg by Lauren Seeger, The Wall by Peter Sis, Knuffle Bunny Too by Mo Willems Winner: The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick
Newbery Award: Honors: Elijah of Buxton by Christopher Paul Curtis, The Wednesday Wars by Gary Schmidt, Feathers by Jacqueline Woodson, Winner: Good Masters! Sweet Ladies! by Laura Amy Schlitz
Printz Award: Winner: The White Darkness by Geraldine McCaughrean Honors: Dreamquake by Elizabeth Knox, One Whole and Perfect Day by Judith Clark, Repossessed by A.M. Jenkins, Your Own Sylvia by Stephanie Hemphill
Edwards Award: Orson Scott Card, for Ender's Game and Ender's Shadow
Odyssey Awards: Honors: Bloody Jack, Dooby Dooby Moo, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Skulduggery Pleasant, Treasure Island. Winner: Jazz (Walter and Christopher Dean Myers)
Arbuthnot Lecturer: Walter Dean Myers
Batchelder Award: Honors: The Cat, or How I Lost Eternity by Julia Richter, Nicholas and the Gang by Rene Gosenny Winner: Brave Story by Miyuki Miyabe.
Sibert Medal: Honors: Nic Bishop Spiders, Lightship. Winner: The Wall by Peter Sis
Friday, January 11, 2008
I'm so not ready for this.
Monday, January 7, 2008
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
Freak Show by James St. James
Dramarama by E. Lockhart
Does My Head Look Big in This? by Randa Abdel-Fattah
Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac by Gabrielle Zevin
Beauty Shop for Rent...fully equipped, inquire within by Laura Bowers
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling, but only if I pretend that epilogue doesn't exist
The Wednesday Wars by Gary D. Schmidt
Cures for Heartbreak by Margo Rabb
A Swift Pure Cry by Siobhan Dowd
Boy Toy by Barry Lyga (which, as much as I loved the others, is probably my top favorite book of 2007)
Before I Die by Jenny Downham
The Off Season by Catherine Gilbert Murdock
I'm starting to dip into my 2008 galleys and am anxiously awaiting a mailing from Penguin.
Friday, January 4, 2008
Crossposted to the Mock Awards blog:
This year's Mock Awards were lots of fun, with provocative and informative discussions. The winning and honor books were selected as follows:
Winner: The Wizard by Jack Prelutsky, illustrated by Brandon Dorman
Honors: When Dinosaurs Came With Everything by Elise Broach, illustrated by David Small ; Casey Back at Bat by Dan Gutman, illustrated by Steve Johnson and Lou
Fancher ; I'm the Biggest Thing in the Ocean by Kevin Sherry ; Knuffle Bunny Too: A
Case of Mistaken Identity by Mo Willems.
Winner: Revolution is Not a Dinner Party by Ying Chang Compestine
Honors: Elijah of Buxton by Christopher Paul Curtis ; The Wednesday Wars by Gary D. Schmidt
Winner: The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
Honors: Before I Die by Jenny Downham ; Boy Toy by Barry Lyga
Many thanks to those who made this program so successful.