Saturday, May 28, 2005

Memorial Day Weekend: Books About Grief and Healing

This Memorial Day weekend, I'm remembering my dad, my uncle Gary, my grandpa Clifford,* my great aunts Nannie and Mary and Etta, my great grandma Bessie, my step-grandpa Herb, my grandpa Ray, my great-grandpa Red (Ernest), and my great uncle Dutch.

Grief/healing books that I recommend include: The Color of Absence: 12 Stories About Loss and Hope edited by James Howe (Atheneum, 2001) and This Book Is For All Kids, But Especially My Sister Libby. Libby Died. by Jack Simon, illustrated by Annette Simon (Idea University Press, 2000)(link includes interview with Annette).

I've written a grief/healing book myself, Rain Is Not My Indian Name (HarperCollins, 2001), which has generated a lot of email from 'tween girls who've lost a friend. I'm honored that they found some comfort in Rain's story.

*Grampa Clifford has a walk on in my short story "The Naked Truth," from In My Grandmother's House: Award-Winning Authors Tell Stories About The Grandmothers, edited and illustrated by Bonnie Christensen (HarperCollins, 2003).

Cynsational News & Links

2005 Texas Book Festival Author List Released from Austin360.com. Note, though, the subhead "confirmed at this time." I'm not recognizing any children's/YA author/illustrator names, so unless our section of the program has been cut (which I doubt), that announcement is still forthcoming.

Friday, May 27, 2005

Pannell Winners Announced

BookPeople in my current hometown of Austin, Texas and Reading Reptile Books and Toys for Young Mammals in my original hometown of Kansas City are winners of the Lucile Micheels Pannell Award for Excellent in Children's Bookselling, given by the Women's National Book Association.

Congratulations to Austin's Jill Bailey,* who today is celebrating her last day at BookPeople! She will be missed at the store but still a vibrant part of Austin's sparkling children's/YA literature scene.

(Because I can't help bragging, I also remind cynsational readers that BookPeople was just named the Publishers Weekly Bookseller of the Year for 2005).

*Jill is the third Austinite to win this award, following Anne Bustard (formerly of Toad Hall; now author of Buddy: The Story of Buddy Holly (Simon & Schuster, 2005) and Tiffany Durham (also formerly of Toad Hall).

Cynsational News & Links

Promote Your Books Like A Pro and Create A Bestseller: a resource Web site whose title neatly explains its purpose.

In Margot's Writing Chat for All Seasons, see: Writing Query Letters That Work; Lousy Rejection Letters; and the complete text from published authors in Margot's May Musings on The Secret to Becoming A Published Writer (including my own contribution).

Thanks to Colorado librarian Melissa Depper, I have massively updated my listing of U.S. and Canadian regional and national awards for children's/YA books. The URL may change with the site redesign, but I'll keep you posted on that.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Role Models; Chat With Gordon Korman

I'm big on role models.

I have the obvious ones of course: Wonder Woman, Batgirl/Oracle, Eartha Kitt, Rupert Giles, my great aunt Anne (to whom I dedicated Jingle Dancer).

But I also always have a couple in this writing life. I find it helps me to know there's a specific real person out there. Author Nancy Werlin is my current "art/publishing" role model because of the consistent quality of her work and the professionalism with which she conducts herself. Author Laurie Halse Anderson is my "whole person" role model, also because of the consistent quality of her work/pro behavior, along with how happy she seems (from what I can bleam (blog+gleam) from her LJ).

Last night, I stopped by the chat with Gordon Korman, author of Son Of The Mob and No More Dead Dogs, hosted by Debby Garfinkle at the YA Authors Cafe. She asked him a myriad of questions about writing and about writing humor in particular. I'll be sure to post a link to the chat transcript when it becomes available. If you've never been to one of these chats before, make the effort. They're inspirational, informative, and a lot of fun!

Cynsational News & Links

Gordon Korman Teacher Resource File from the Internet School Library Media Center.

Why Couldn't Snow White Have Been Chinese? Finding Identity Through Children's Books by Grace Lin from papertigers.org.

In response to my post yesterday on how Writers Must Read, Debbi Michiko Florence sent the URL to her 2005 reading list.

For those of you on LJ, illustrator Don Tate asked me about writing characters different from myself in response to my Fan Mail post. For those interested in writing crossculturally, crossorientation, crosswhatever, see the comments section (scroll to read).

Check out the recommendation for Vegan Virgin Valentine by Carolyn Mackler on Liz B's blog, A Chair, A Fireplace, and A Tea Cozy (May 20 post).

Also you must read the 2005 winning entries for the Letters about Literature contest sponsored by the California Center for the Book. Selected books include: The Truth about Sparrows; The Secret Garden; The Tale of Desperaux; Ella Enchanted; Number The Stars; Because of Winn-Dixie; Holes; Bridge to Terabithia; and Dreamland. If I had written such a letter at that age, I would've chosen The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Spear.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Writers Must Read

I have no idea how anyone who isn't well read expects to write well.

Reading counts as writing time. It is also the best, most painless way to improve your craft.

From now on, I'm going to start opening conversations with beginners with "what children's/YA books have you read lately?" I'm going to work the question more into speeches, too.

Thinking about it, the major writing publications, workshops, etc. don't sufficiently center on reading either. Hm.

You know which author does a particularly great job of talking about reading?

Linda Sue Park, and she's doing quite well these day.

Another one?

Esmé Raji Codell, and she has a whole planet named after her.

Okay, practicing what I preach: What children's/YA books have you read lately?

So far this year, I've read (and recommended):*

Young Adult: Prom by Laurie Halse Anderson (Viking, 2005); Storky: How I Lost My Nickname and Won the Girl by D.L. Garfinkle (Putnam, 2005); Sammy & Juliana in Hollywood by Benjamin Alire Sáenz (Cinco Puntos Press, 2004); Out Of Order by A.M. Jenkins (HarperTempest, 2003); See You Down The Road by Kim Ablon Whitney (Knopf, 2004); Comfort by Carolee Dean (Houghton Mifflin, 2002); A Room On Lorelei Street by Mary E. Pearson (Henry Holt, 2005); Red Hot Salsa: Bilingual Poems on Being Young And Latino in the United States edited by Lori M. Carlson, introduction by Oscar Hijuelos (Henry Holt, 2005); The Boyfriend List (15 guys, 11 shrink appointments, 4 ceramic frogs and me, ruby oliver) by E. Lockhart (Delacorte, 2005)(Listening Library, 2005); Boy Proof by Cecil Castellucci (Candlewick, 2005); Stained by Jennifer Richard Jacobsen (Atheneum, 2005); Dancing In Red Shoes Will Kill You by Dorian Cirrone (HarperCollins, 2005); Rainbow Road by Alex Sanchez (Simon & Schuster, 2005); Far From Xanadu by Julie Anne Peters (Little Brown, 2005); Over and Over You by Amy McAuley (Roaring Brook, 2005); Moccasin Thunder: American Indian Stories For Today, edited by Lori Marie Carlson (HarperCollins, 2005); Don't Die, Dragonfly by Linda Joy Singleton (Llewellyn, 2004).

Tweener: Last Dance On Holladay Street by Elisa Carbone (Knopf, 2005)(see author interview); Maya Running by Anjali Banerjee (Wendy Lamb Books, 2005); Missing Abby by Lee Weatherly (David Fickling, 2004).

Middle Grade: Shakespeare's Secret by Elise Broach (Henry Holt, 2005); Each Little Bird That Sings by Deborah Wiles (Harcourt, 2005); Sketches From A Spy Tree by Tracie Vaughn Zimmer, illustrated by Andrew Glass (Clarion, 2005).

Picture Books: The Good Rainbow Road/Rawa 'Kashtyaa'tsi Hiyaani by Simon J. Ortiz, illustrated by Michael Lacapa (The University of Arizona Press, 2004), Buddy: The Story Of Buddy Holly by Anne Bustard (Simon & Schuster, 2005)(link features interview with author); Hotel Deep: Light Verse From Dark Water by Kurt Cyrus (Harcourt, 2005); Searching For Oliver K. Woodman by Darcy Pattison, illustrated by Joe Cepeda (Harcourt, 2005); Looking For Uncle Louie On The Fourth Of July by Kathy Whitehead, illustrated by Pablo Torrecilla (Boyds Mills Press, 2005); Night Wonders by Jane Peddicord (Charlesbridge, 2005); Miss Lady Bird's Wildflowers: How a First Lady Changed America by Kathi Appelt, illustrated by Joy Fisher Hein (HarperCollins, 2005)(link features interview with author and illustrator); Once Upon A Cool Motorcycle Dude written and illustrated by Kevin O'Malley, illustrated by Carol Heyer, illustrated by Scott Goto (Walker, 2005); Houdini: World's Greatest Mystery Man and Escape King by Kathleen Krull, illustrated by Eric Velasquez (Walker, 2005).

Resource Books: Bringing Mysteries Alive for Children and Young Adults by Jeanette Larson (Linworth, 2004).

Additional Interviews: Holly Black on Tithe: A Modern Faeire Tale (Simon & Schuster, 2002); Greg Leitich Smith on Ninjas, Piranhas, and Galileo (Little Brown, 2003); Laura Ruby on Lily's Ghosts (HarperCollins, 2003); Vivian Vande Velde on Being Dead (Harcourt, 2001) and Companions of the Night (Harcourt, 1995).

*books that I read and recommend comprise about 1/10 of the total books I read. This year I've read about 10 times as many books as are listed above.

Cynsational News & Links

Speaking of Newbery winner Linda Sue Park, her new books are a contemporary middle grade novel, Project Mulberry (Clarion, 2005)(read Greg's blog about this novel), and a picture book, What Does Bunny See? (Clarion, 2005). And speaking of Madame Esmé, her latest are Diary of a Fairy Godmother (Hyperion, 2005) and Sing A Song of Tuna Fish (Hyperion, 2004).

Reinventing the World One Reader At A Time: An Interview with Author/Advocate Esmé Raji Codell by Deborah Wiles from BookPage (June 2003).

Linda Sue Park: Teacher Resource File from the Internet School Library Media Center.

I'm blogging lately on spookycyn about the "Desperate Housewives" season finale, complete with its (allegedly) children's book illustrator character.

Monday, May 23, 2005

Rainbow Road by Alex Sanchez

Rainbow Road by Alex Sanchez (Simon & Schuster, 2005). It's the summer before college and Jason, who made national news when he came out to his coach and basketball team, has been asked to travel across the country to speak at the opening of a high school for gay and lesbian teens in Los Angeles. Jason's boyfriend, Kyle, and Kyle's best friend, Nelson, decide to come along for the ride on a road trip that will lead them to new people, new experiences, and most of all, themselves. Funny, touching, illuminating, romantic, and thoughtful. Despite its depth, a quick read perfect for summer. Ages 12-up. Don't miss companion novels Rainbow Boys and Rainbow High.

More on Rainbow Road

Rainbow Road reminds me of those old on-the-road movies and other traveling YA books like My Road Trip To The Pretty Girl Capital of the World by Brian Yansky (Cricket, 2003).

Actually, in both My Road Trip and Rainbow Road, the characters spend time here in Austin, which is fun for me and both offer an illuminating look at the city. Brian lives here, Alex used to, and they spoke together at the last Texas Book Festival. (In the interests of full disclosure and restaurant recommendations, I should probably mention that we all went out for barbecue at Hoover's Cooking, which is near East, afterward).

For those who are fans of the Rainbow books, I don't want to give too much away, but I will say that I was thrilled with Nelson's character arc in this last installment.

See also an author profile of Alex from Teenreads.com; Wordsmith: Alex Sanchez, author of young adult fiction by Ove Overmyer from The Empty Closet (December, 2004); An Interview With Alex Sanchez, author of Rainbow Boys, from ALAN review. Another interview with Alex is available on CLSCLR; because the site is under redesign, use the search engine.

Cynsational News & Links

Summer Reading Extravaganza: Fifty summer-themed titles, beach reads, and other books for vacation reading from CBC member publishers.

Do As I Do: Teachers Who Read Children's Books by June Locke from Book Links. Includes suggestions for teachers and librarians. A PDF file. See also Affirming African American Boys by KaaVonia Hinton, also a PDF file from Book Links.

Author Gail Giles blogs lately about Storky: How I Lost My Nickname and Won the Girl by D.L. Garfinkle (Putnam, 2005)(see my own comments) and A Room on Lorelei Street by Mary E. Pearson (Henry Holt, 2005)(see my own comments). Speaking of D.L. Garfinkle, a new (May 2005) interview with her has been posted at Young Adult Books Central.

Happy 40th birthday to Debbi Michiko Florence, and thanks to Debbi for her Random Act of Kindness!

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Tofu and T.Rex : Author Copies Arrive

Congratulations to my very cute husband, author Greg Leitich Smith, whose author copies of his second novel, Tofu and T.Rex (Little Brown, 2005) arrived yesterday.

The novel is a companion book to his award-winning debut, Ninjas, Piranhas, and Galileo (Little Brown, 2003)(Recorded Books, 2004), and will be available for sale in July.

We had been told that the colors on the ARC wouldn't quite reflect those on the novel, and we're so pleased with the final results. That raised, glossy T.Rex really pops!

Read Interview With Debut Children's Novelist Greg Leitich Smith by Debbi Michiko Florence (updated November 2004); Author Interviews: Greg Leitich Smith from Downhome Books (October 2003); The Story Behind The Story: Greg Leitich Smith on Ninjas, Piranhas, and Galileo from CLSCLR; and Profile of Cynthia and Greg Leitich Smith by Dianna Hutts Aston.

I also was pleased to receive my ARC of Rainbow Road by Alex Sanchez (Simon & Schuster, 2005). It's the third book in the Rainbow trilogy, which included Rainbow Boys and Rainbow High. Alex lived in Austin as a child, and he spoke on a panel and TLA with Greg and me.

Cynsational News & Links

The NE/NC Society of Children's Book Authors and Illustrators presents its fall conference, "The Adventure Awaits," Sept. 24 at the Hilton Arlington in Arlington, Texas. Featured speakers include: Suzanne Nelson, Senior Editor, Scholastic Book Club Division; Catherine Frank, Editor, Viking; Robert Mayes, Editor, Farrar Straus Giroux; Patrick Collins, Creative Director, Henry Holt; Dian Curtis Regan, Keynote Speaker, author of many award-winning books for children including Ghost Twins, Monster of the Month Club, Chance, The Initiation, and Princess Nevermore. Note: Dian is one of my fave people in children's publishing, and Chance (Philomel, 2003) is one of my fave picture books. She (relatively) recently moved to one of my home states, Kansas.

"Critique Groups: From Water Wings to the High Dive" by Lisa Lawmaster Hess, in the Publishing Paths section of Writer's Support from the Institute of Children's Literature. See also the May 12 transcript of "Anything Goes, But What Does a Banned-Book Author Do Next?" an archived ICL chat with Phyllis Reynolds Naylor.

Check out the Children's Literature Choice List for 2005.
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