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ynl
Children's books reviewed for grownups.
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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 Pink Me
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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 Pink Me
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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 Pink Me
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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 Pink Me
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It's 2014, the centennial of the onset one of the bloodiest, most devastating wars in history. A war which should have taught the world the dangers of nationalism, military escalation, and imperialism. Well, we all know how that went. On the UP side, the WWI centennial gives us (educators, parents, librarians) an excellent opportunity for engaging the kind of reader who connects with nonfiction, especially history, and especially the kind of history that involves guns. I'm not using the word "boys," but you know what I'm talking about. Author Laurel Snyder's male-variety offspring enjoying a Civil War reenactment and Nathan... Continue reading
Posted Sep 18, 2014 at Pink Me
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Who says the dog days are uneventful and slow? Over here in the picture book section we're playing with trains, learning about numbers, traveling the world, and experiencing minor peril! I love the plots of picture books. Let's see what we've got... Me First by Max Kornell I like this book a little more every time I look at it. I like the way that Martha and Hal compete, cheat, and cooperate. I like that Martha ACTUALLY tries something a little bit dangerous and falls in the creek, and I like that both kids are a little bit shaken up... Continue reading
Posted Aug 28, 2014 at Pink Me
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I am going to have a teenager in my house. In - wow - 11 days, I will suddenly have a teenage boy in my house. Somehow, this person... ...turned into this person. Relax, that's root beer. And that's MY jacket. He looks better in it than I do, the swine. His feet are bigger than mine. His tan is better than mine. God, I think his hair might be better than mine! Sigh. His taste in reading material is pretty good, though. And he reads faster than I do, so lately I've been relying on him to vet titles... Continue reading
Posted Aug 24, 2014 at Pink Me
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Do you mind if I take a moment to talk about Australians? I kind of have a need to talk about Australians (and their neighbors, New Zealanders). Just for a sec. I don't know any jokes about Australia. Sorry! At the pool the other day I was pimping a book to my friend Marnie and her little girl. There we were, half-naked, bobbing in the water, and I'm throwing out book titles. I really need a life, or at least a second hobby. Marnie was looking for readalouds and I had an absolute howler to recommend: "The main character is... Continue reading
Posted Jul 10, 2014 at Pink Me
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The warmness, it is all around. I live in Baltimore, and a large percentage of our Gross Domestic Product this time of year (mid-April til October) is humidity. Humidity and 90-degree temperatures. It's kind of ridiculous. I have spent an August weekend in New Orleans that was more temperate. I have crossed the Equator and been more comfortable. I have ridden in an open boat on the AMAZON and not chafed so badly. Camped in THE SAHARA. Hiked THE BADLANDS. I experienced nicer weather in THOSE PLACES. Where else have I been that's hot? MADURAI, INDIA. No, Madurai was hotter... Continue reading
Posted Jul 6, 2014 at Pink Me
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I know what you want. I see you. You come in to the library with that little-bit-panicked look in your eye: "Oh shit there's no school for like MONTHS and they're going to do nothing but play Minecraft and moan about being bored." Or pull scary crap like balance-beam on an 8-foot fence. YEESH. I am right there with you. Milo is in the basement right this second watching those awful Sky Does Minecraft YouTube videos. Or porn. No I did not just write that. I take it back. Wait, let me just get him up here, I'll be right... Continue reading
Posted Jun 10, 2014 at Pink Me
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NO THANK YOU. Although I think that's my friend Lori off to the left there. DAY FOUR I did two full Javits Center days at Book Expo this year, and swore I wasn't coming back on Saturday, when the show opens to the general public and the signing lines GET REAL. But I did. I skated in quietly on Saturday to see who won the Boston Globe / Horn Book Awards. These awards are less well-known than the big ALA awards, but to some they are more prestigious. The committees that award them are small and thoughtful and savvy. Grasshopper... Continue reading
Posted Jun 5, 2014 at Pink Me
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DAY THREE Apparently, for picture books, brown is the new blue. My Day Three was actually Day Two of Book Expo. People had settled in, figured out where the hell they'd stashed the Disney/Hyperion booth, and patiently assembled into signing lines. But first! The Children's Book Author Breakfast. With your host, Jason Segal. Unlike BJ Novak, I know who this guy is. He does stuff on Funny or Die sometimes. He was in Forgetting Sarah Marshall, which was not about my friend Sarah Marshall, who is a printmaking professor at 'Bama. AND! I have read the sample chapters of his... Continue reading
Posted Jun 4, 2014 at Pink Me
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DAY TWO You have to maximize your time when you're in New York. Even when you live there, you're grouping errands geographically in your head, trying to do at least two things at once, strategizing time and transit and factoring in how much crap you are hauling with you at any given time. E.g., it is darn convenient that NYPL's Jefferson Market branch is so close to C.O. Bigelow. Which is how I found myself in the sale racks at Brooklyn Industries during the ten-minute gap before the shuttle came to ferry a group of us back to the Javits... Continue reading
Posted Jun 3, 2014 at Pink Me
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SO much happened at Book Expo (BEA) last week and this weekend. I'm breaking it up into four posts. Four! (Don't worry, they're each pretty short. Except maybe for this one.) DAY ONE The School Library Journal Day of Dialog BEA preconference! I have said it before - possibly THE best single day of the year in children's literature. Smart, insightful authors - hell even the audience is better qualified than the presenters at most events... Oh my gosh we saw Cabaret this week and I must paraphrase the Emcee: The authors - are beautiful! The presentations - are beautiful!... Continue reading
Posted Jun 2, 2014 at Pink Me
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I do this about quarterly, don't I - maybe I should make it a regular thing. Oh who am I kidding. One of the benefits of writing your own blog is you don't have to adhere to any schedule. Well, that and you can swear. Froodle by Antoinette Portis YES I like books by Antoinette Portis and NO I am not going to change my mind. Just like Crow is not going to fall victim to the silly craze sweeping through the yard. Little Brown Bird is supposed to say "peep." Cardinal is supposed to say "chip." THAT'S JUST THE... Continue reading
Posted May 14, 2014 at Pink Me
This is what's wrong with me. This is what's very very WROOONNG with me - and that was Bill Murray in Stripes in case you missed the reference ("We're ten and one!") (Not anymore, brother). I have been neglecting the crap out of Pink Me for MONTHS because I've started reviewing for Booklist Online and those guys send me I swear 5 books a month. And not five 32-page picture books, although sometimes yeah I get picture books. No. I get five NOVELS. Five middle-grade books about burping and zombie pets. Five YA sci-fi barnburners. Shit involving fairies. And some... Continue reading
Posted May 10, 2014 at Pink Me
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It can't be easy, right? Writing a cookbook for kids? I mean, if you're writing a cookbook, that means you are a good cook. You know your asparagus from your elbow macaroni, if you know what I mean. And here you are writing instructions for people who don't know what the salt looks like when you tell them to get it out of the cupboard. IT'S THE BLUE CYLINDRICAL CONTAINER. CYLINDER. YOU KNOW, ROUND LIKE A... oh Christ I'll get it. SEE? THIS IS SALT. I'm writing an article about books about food for kids for School Library Journal. It's... Continue reading
Posted Mar 11, 2014 at Pink Me
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It is the damnedest thing. In recent years, YA trends have come on about as subtly as a brick tornado. Vampires. Zombie plagues. Fairy tales. Mermaids, oh god the mermaids. Last year it was cancer. And you'd think, if I took a mermaid trend in stride, I would not be surprised by the sudden appearance of dragons in contemporary YA fiction. I'd be like, "Aw come on guys - it's all dragons nowadays!" But there I was, five pages into Talker 25, going "What the...? It's dragons?" I think it's because they're just so doofy. Right? Giant lizards with wings?... Continue reading
Posted Jan 28, 2014 at Pink Me
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Well there aren't a lot of shopping days left until Christmas, but the good news is that in these depressing final days, when the best that most stores can offer is a choice between Picked-over or Shopworn, your favorite independent bookstore is an absolute ACE at getting that brand-new book - or books - for you just about right away. Let's place our order, shall we? LEGO Space: Building the Future by Peter Reid and Tim Goddard. What looks like a building guide – along the lines of the terrific LEGO Play Book: Ideas to Bring Your Bricks to Life... Continue reading
Posted Dec 17, 2013 at Pink Me
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I have never been very good at all that best / best of / ten best BS. My little mind has trouble finding a common metric between different books. How can you say whether the silly and charming linear narrative of Sophie's Squash is "better" or "worse" than - for example - the dreamlike, lyrical Red Knit Cap Girl to the Rescue ? Naoko Stoop paints on plywood. Anne Wilsdorf's lively ink and watercolor art. Which illustrations are better? DOES NOT COMPUTE. I try, though - as previously mentioned, I'm a first-round Cybils judge and I will help pick a... Continue reading
Posted Dec 8, 2013 at Pink Me
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Dot, Clem, Ozzie, Ollie, Maya, Nalah, Loula, and Ripple. Henry, Dorothy, Francis, Betsy, Willow, Jemmy Button and Anna Hibiscus. Plus French film icon Jacques Tati and former Vikings defensive end Alan Page. These are my new best friends. And they are just a very few of the main characters of picture books nominated for Best Picture Book in the Cybils Awards. Go on, take a peek at the nominations list. Wow, right? It's a diverse bunch of folks - there's a dolphin, a dog, foxes, monsters, princesses, squirrels and more than one bunny. Loula is French, Noah and Na'amah are... Continue reading
Posted Nov 23, 2013 at Pink Me
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Captain Cat is a crazy-eyed, cat-lovin', Santa-bearded old sailing man. After a lifetime as a sort of less-than mediocre trader (he tends to swap valuable goods for worthless felines), Captain Cat decides it's finally time to see the places on his bucket list. Blown way off course by a really nicely drawn storm, he and his crowd of cats fetch up at a sweet, wealthy, rat-infested remote island presided over by a skinny-legged wild-haired Queen. With her unhinged grin and mens' shoes, the Queen is kind of like a tropical Pippi. MAN this is a great story. I'm not kidding.... Continue reading
Posted Nov 13, 2013 at Pink Me
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There's a lot of horror running around loose on the streets these days. It's a trend. Brainless monsters, mad government scientists, possessed townsfolk and crafty killers lurk in the alleys and infest the woods by the side of the highways. Yep, it's a stimulating time to be a teen reader. Until fairly recently, horror had been in kind of a slump. Horror had a big day back in, hm, the late 70's, early 80's. Throughout the 80's, the Halloween movies were in theaters and Stephen King was putting out two books a year. In 1978, I was pretty sure this... Continue reading
Posted Nov 7, 2013 at Pink Me
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Fast and furious edition: (So fast, so furious, I am just copying the event descriptions off the festival website.) (All events take place in the Children's Bookstore Tent unless otherwise noted.) DON'T MISS Tiger Beat, 5:30 PM on Friday Sept 27! "YA rock sensation Tiger Beat features Libba Bray 's charged lyrics, Dan Ehrenhaft 's arena-ready power chords, Natalie Standiford 's face-melting bass riffs, and barnabas miller 's searing drumming. They will open an evening celebration of YA literature." Nat Standiford! Local hero! Her dad was my pediatrician! Also, obviously, LIBBA BRAY OMG. KEEP READING THERE'S MORE DON'T MISS Jon... Continue reading
Posted Sep 24, 2013 at Pink Me
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...which is my way of saying oh my life - and my reading - has been HELTER-SKELTER for the past couple of months. Here's why - allow me to solicit your interest in some excellent upcoming events and ongoing projects: 1). I'm on YALSA's Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults booklist committee (nominate your favorites today!) 2). I'm a facilitator at Enoch Pratt Free Library's biannual teen reading fest Books for the Beast (join us!). It's an all-day event (free lunch!) October 19th with super speakers and small group discussions. This year, we will be joined by RAINA TELGEMEIER ! SHARON... Continue reading
Posted Sep 20, 2013 at Pink Me