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Children's books reviewed for grownups.
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Say you've got a 14-year-old reader. A boy who is has started to welcome a sliver of romance into his postapocalyptic action novels, a girl who is beginning to find the Wings of Fire novels a little simplistic. Maybe you've got a formerly enthusiastic reader who is suddenly uncommunicative, a good student who is newly plagued by self-doubt, a pair of lovebirds who spend half their homework time texting each other emojis. I am trying - unsuccessfully - not to say 'ugh' to that last one. I mean, there's no harm in texting adorable tongue-stuck-out poofy pandabear hearts to your... Continue reading
Posted Nov 21, 2015 at
I've been working on a list of great books to give kids this holiday season for the Baltimore Sun. Did you know I write for the Baltimore Sun? I always forget to link to those articles here. Anyway, I've been up to my armpits in beautifully printed picture books, factbooks, and pop-up books. I've even gone to the local independent bookstores to see items that the library doesn't buy - sticker books, activity books, books with storycubes . But I haven't been looking at gift books for grownups, not at all. That's because Quirk Books sent me this set of... Continue reading
Posted Nov 20, 2015 at
A picture book biography is more than the product of an author. You could safely say that the responsibility for its appeal is shared by the author, the illustrator, and the subject, especially when the subject is herself an artist. If you think of the recent picture book bio of Anna Pavlova, Swan: The Life and Dance of Anna Pavlova , you quickly realize that some people will pick it up because it's about a marvelous ballerina, some will snatch it because they are fans of the author, Laurel Snyder, while still others will be drawn in by artist Julie... Continue reading
Posted Nov 11, 2015 at
Wow, I am finally reclaiming my brain. For about two, maybe three months I have literally not had one unclaimed hour. Since September, I have co-hosted one conference, facilitated at another, spoken at a third - IN EGYPT - and presented at two events. And written three columns for the Baltimore Sun. You should see my house. But the smoke is clearing and I am getting my feet back under me. Today I finally put away all the Sharpies and Post-Its we took to KidLitCon. I have four tote bags and one box of books to go out the door... Continue reading
Posted Nov 2, 2015 at
Yes yes, I know. I am the last children's lit professional on the planet to have read this book. You've all read it, and you've all loved it, and I am late to the Eleanor & Park Party. Oh my god. Think of it -- that would be the funniest party. We'd all have to wear plaid flannel and band t-shirts and stand around looking at the floor until we each stormed out of the room in tears. It would be like the parties at my college radio station in the 80's, come to think of it! Actually we didn't... Continue reading
Posted Sep 25, 2015 at
Here is a thing that I am not: I am not a high school English teacher. But if I were... The kids and I all read Half Bad by Sally Green in the last couple of weeks. It's on the reading list for Books for the Beast, a one-day YA conference put on every other year by the Enoch Pratt Free Library. I'm a facilitator and Milo's a teen attendee and I think registration is still open. You should come! Anyway, the book is - I mean, not to put too fine a point on it - it's good. Characters... Continue reading
Posted Sep 20, 2015 at
Readers of may be familiar with the twice-yearly festival of craft that happens at my house for about a month prior to my deadline for the biannual special issue of School Library Journal called Series Made Simple. For, like, one hundred years I have been writing the arts and crafts section of that special issue. I am a pretty good choice to test craft instructions meant for elementary school children, as I pretty much suck at crafts. Look at these things: Paper boat fail. Can tab bracelet fail Paper bauble fail - these are a lot harder to make... Continue reading
Posted Aug 22, 2015 at
Last night, while strolling with my husband through one of the lovely, artful outdoor evening events that occur with some frequency in Baltimore, we were treated to a vocalist and a little combo absolutely butchering Marvin Gaye's "What's Goin' On." "You take on Marvin Gaye," observed Bob, "you better be at the very top of your game." Why am I talking about Marvin Gaye? Because a) this post is about what's goin' on and b) you will be at the very top of your game once you avail yourself of all the exciting opportunities for professional and personal growth that... Continue reading
Posted Aug 8, 2015 at
Bunnies! Bears! A llama, a hamster, a couple of apes and holy crap I hope I am never face to face with a wolffish! And in the end, a little girl who just wants a giraffe for her birthday. Enjoy! from 8: An Animal Alphabet by Elisha Cooper. If I end up with an iguana tattoo, you can blame this artist. Those Pesky Rabbits by Ciara Flood Just once I'd like to see a picture book about a grumpy old solitary fella who, when his cheerful new neighbors move in, does NOT soften like butter in the sun. But until... Continue reading
Posted Jul 22, 2015 at
Let me be right up front about something: I couldn't wait to read this book. There aren't a whole ton of people writing literature - Literature with a capital L - for teens these days, and even fewer that I can stand to read. Not because they're bad, not at all - but because the truth of teens is so hard. If you write it well, it's going to hurt. Everybody Sees the Ants hurt. Reality Boy , that too. But after reading Glory O'Brien's History of the Future , which had pain but also love and humor and that... Continue reading
Posted Jun 22, 2015 at
I love helping kids find books. I mean, der, that's what is all about, that's why I work in the public library, etc. etc. But it bears saying. One of the things I love about it is surprising a kid. Say it's a kid who doesn't want a book. A kid who is reflexively embarrassed because his mom is insisting that he talk to the librarian. He just wants me to go away and stop asking him questions. Nicki Minaj wants nothing to do with this reader advisory nonsense. So I say, "What about a book where a bunch... Continue reading
Posted Jun 9, 2015 at
I am home, at my kitchen table in the dimness of my house, birds and windchimes and helicopters (and the 12 o'clock boys) are all I hear, and my ears are still ringing from the din of a thousand conversations in the cavernous hollow ice cube that is the Javits Center in New York. That's just me being metaphorical. My ears always ring like this. But sure, let's do it. Let me put my thoughts in order, or at least jot them randomly into a blog post and see if I learned anything at BEA this year. BEA, or Book... Continue reading
Posted Jun 1, 2015 at
I live in Baltimore City. If my city were a character in a middle grade novel, it would be described by reviewers as "a mass of contradictions," "quirky" and proud, "intensely loyal," and the kind of kid whose self-destructive outbursts camouflage a wounded heart. Readers would be fascinated by Baltimore's mercurial nature: he is strict but playful as he distributes lunch money to his younger siblings; goofy and creative hanging out with his friends; but can become ferociously confrontational when he believes himself opposed. Anger and love, the urge to destroy and the will to build - not mutually exclusive,... Continue reading
Posted Apr 29, 2015 at
Sometimes my children like a book. Ok, if you are at all familiar with my two sons you might be rolling your eyes right now. Yes, Milo and Ezra are enthusiastic readers. But that doesn't actually mean that they just loooove all books. The fact is that they, like most enthusiastic readers, have developed into fairly critical readers as well. They'll race through a book and then when you ask about it, say, "Ehh." That's good intel. I need to know that. It doesn't do to falsely praise a book to a kid. I won't give an ehhh book to... Continue reading
Posted Mar 24, 2015 at
Hi. Hi there. Let me tell you a little story. When I was approved to read an advance copy of The Royal We , the first adult novel by the snarky minds behind the fashion commentary site GoFugYourself, the timing could not have been better. It was four days before Christmas. My husband had ruptured his Achilles tendon and was in a fracture boot and on crutches. His injury had briefly cast our long-planned holiday travel into a gutter of despair and frenzy. But at long last, I was on an airplane with my whole family headed for the Caribbean.... Continue reading
Posted Mar 12, 2015 at
Something bad has happened. It was a long time ago, but it was really bad, and Sean's life is now carefully constructed from and around the consequences of that thing. He's not lonely, exactly. He's not sad, exactly. He's also maybe not reliable, exactly. While Sean was in the hospital, he distracted himself from his pain by imagining a world, a ruined America in which desperate survivors have constructed one giant fortress, the Trace Italian. The world of the Trace turns into a quest, and several years after his ordeal (or during the latter phase of his ordeal, depending on... Continue reading
Posted Mar 5, 2015 at
By now, everyone has seen that Ugly Volvo post on everything that is wrong with Goodnight, Moon. Many of us were already quite firm in our understanding that Goodnight, Moon is abominable - in my case I find it suspicious that we say goodnight to AIR and to SOUNDS - much as one might if one were being nailed into a COFFIN because of premature burial, which people are not afraid of as they once were but maybe that is just because we're not reading as much Poe as we ought to be. RIGHT?! Here in Baltimore, where we are... Continue reading
Posted Mar 1, 2015 at
Locked down and blizzarded up, you need a dose of color, don't you? The kids are kind of eating each other and you're sick of telling them to get off YouTube. Time to hit the graphic novel section: The Golden Compass Graphic Novel, Volume 1 (His Dark Materials) "You're going to have to realllly convince me," I can hear famous curmudgeon Philip Pullman mutter as he surveys the latest in what I imagine must be a never-ending parade of proposals to adapt his 1995 masterpiece trilogy His Dark Materials into graphic novels. He probably imagined himself as Penelope at her... Continue reading
Posted Feb 15, 2015 at
The ALA Youth Media Awards were just announced about an hour ago. These honors are awarded by committees of librarians who read, evaluate, and discuss approximately a femto-jillion books in a year and decide which book in a given category is THE BEST of the year and which few are THE RUNNERS UP. I generally don't comment on these awards on this blog because, like any other award, calling any given anything THE BEST in a year is ridiculous. YOU ARE THE BEST TOMATO. WORLD'S BEST JOKE 2014 IS WHAT EDDIE IZZARD SAID ON TWITTER NOVEMBER 13th. THE AWARD FOR... Continue reading
Posted Feb 2, 2015 at
So, uh, hi. I changed the name of my blog. I mean, come on, "Pink Me" was always kind of dumb. The day I decided to spin all the children's book review posts off my (ahem) other blog, I had to quickly come up with a name that was short and memorable (having learned a valuable lesson from that other blog, whose name is 25 letters long and includes at least one difficult-to-spell word). I named Pink Me after my hair color at the time. I guess it could have been worse. Giant 13-year-old boy voluntarily reading a picture book... Continue reading
Posted Jan 22, 2015 at
Here I am back at work after a little Holiday holiday. I can see my tan hands on the keyboard and still don't actually believe that they were paddling through salt water a little more than a week ago. SIGH. SIGH! Before we get down to this big ol' stack of picture books I've devoured since returning (FROM THE CARIBBEAN HOLY CRAP), may I politely mention a series of posts on Pink Me's red-headed step-sister blog, Your Neighborhood Librarian. Children's literature devotees of legal drinking age may enjoy these posts featuring authors and characters from teen and young adult fiction.... Continue reading
Posted Jan 6, 2015 at
I'm a generalist. Professionally. Personally, I'm a bit of a specialist, but - hrmhm - that's just between us. No, I'm a generalist librarian - a librarian who serves both adult and juvenile customers. Most public library systems don't expect their professional staff to be proficient with teens, children, adults, and seniors, but the one I work for... does. As you might imagine, librarians in other systems sometimes scoff at this arrangement. School librarians in particular are kind of amusingly horrified. Generalists are expected to maintain at least a glancing knowledge of the adult best-seller list and genre fiction (I... Continue reading
Posted Dec 10, 2014 at
Detail from Julia's House for Lost Creatures by Ben Hatke But first! the ballots have just been announced for the 2017 Newbery and Caldecott award committees. I am so proud and overjoyed to see the names of talented friends on there - Betsy Fraser! Jamie Watson! and Lovely Laura Lutz! are nominated for the Newbery Committee! Stacy Dillon (mytweendom) is on the Caldecott ballot and Laura Given (liblaura5) is on the 2016 Caldecott Committee!! If you are a member, vote for these fabulously smart and well-read women! That is all. Our new baby Tumblr. So cute! So bloody! SO! I... Continue reading
Posted Nov 6, 2014 at
What the heck. Let's do this. For some reason - it's not like I've got nothing else going on - I have been unusually aware of upcoming titles recently. I've spent a bunch of time on Edelweiss and Netgalley scanning publisher catalogs, and just yesterday attended the Book Buzz that the AAP put on at DC Public Library. Reps from Scholastic, Penguin, Sourcebooks, Quirk, Tor, and many others gave a roomful of librarians a preview of what they've got coming down the pike. Here are the books that I thought really stood out, plus books that weren't represented at the... Continue reading
Posted Oct 21, 2014 at
I don't know about these passion-project picture book biographies. Don't get me wrong - *I* love 'em. My colleagues love 'em. Awards committees love 'em. Parents sometimes love 'em. But I have to heave a heavy sigh and admit that I have trouble getting a kid to take Andrea Davis Pinkney's marvelous, swingy Ella Fitzgerald: The Tale of a Vocal Virtuosa into his or her hands, or The Boy Who Loved Math: The Improbable Life of Paul Erdos , or the new picture book biography of Golda Meir, Goldie Takes a Stand!: Golda Meir's First Crusade . Golda. Meir. WHO...... Continue reading
Posted Sep 22, 2014 at