Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Jake Ryan from "Sixteen Candles"

On spookycyn, I'm blogging today in response to a 2004 Washington Post article about the character Jake Ryan from "Sixteen Candles."

I've been trying to think of YA lit heroes that fall even vaguely into the same category. Dishy, destined, and determined to help solve your problems.

I came up with only one: Gabriel from Blood and Chocolate by Annette Curtis Klause (Delacorte, 1999). And even then, Vivian could eat Samantha for lunch, so to speak.

Clearly, there's a lot of growth potential in this area.

Fan Mail: Indian Shoes

From a young reader, Jessica in Wisconsin, I received a letter yesterday telling me how much she enjoyed reading my short story collection, Indian Shoes (HarperCollins, 2002)(ages 7-up), and asking "Why doesn't Ray ever go to school?"

From my reply:

Ray does go to school but none of the short stories focus on his time there. The reason is that the stories in Indian Shoes are linked together because they are about Ray’s relationship with Grampa Halfmoon—the two of them together, and Grampa doesn’t go to school.

One of the decisions a writer has to make is which moments should be in her story and which ones don’t need to be talked about. Think about all the stories you have read or even the movies you have seen. They don’t show every second. Instead, they feature those moments that make a difference and move the story forward. They focus on a theme—like the relationship between a boy and his grandfather.

Cynsational News & Links

David Macaulay will be featured at a signing, interactive children's event, reception, and dinner June 16 at the National Center for Children's Illustrated Literature in Abilene, Texas. David's books include the Caldecott Medal winner, Black and White.

My husband, author Greg Leitich Smith, is blogging lately about preliminary research.

Monday, June 06, 2005

South Asian, BEA, and Literary Agents

I'm incredibly busy with my final edits as well as prepping for my novel-writing workshop and upcoming talks. As in swamped. Buried. But loving it.

That said, if you've emailed me lately and not gotten a response, it's probably because I had my spam filter on too high. Please try again.

Cynsational News & Links

Author Pooja Makhijani presents a wonderful new resource: South Asia and the South Asian diaspora in children's literature: an annotated bibliography. Highly recommended. Pooja is the author of Mama's Saris (Little Brown, 2006).

BEA report from Newbery author Linda Sue Park (next best thing to being there!).

Dear Diary: Random Thoughts from an Iowa Girl: a wonderful reader/writer LJ from a journalist-turned-YA writer, now studying at Vermont College. Can't wait to meet her in July!

Do You Need A Literary Agent? And If So, How Do You Find One? by Simon Hayes from Margot Finke (click on "Midnight Oil"). See also another article by the same author from "Midnight Oil," How To Self-Publish--Why, When, How?

While we're talking agents, I should mention that I have related links on my site that may be helpful to those shopping for representation.

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Summer Reading 2005

To me, "summer reading" suggests relatively light, fun, hopefully funny books. Sort of like summer movies. Not necesarily "fluff" or "beach reads," but simply stories that lift your spirits.

True story: The summer before third grade, back when I was "Cindy Lou," I won the summer reading contest at the Mid-Continent Public Library of Grandview, Missouri. I earned a lot of free paperbacks, an award certificate, and had my picture (with the mayor!) in the local paper. When Jingle Dancer was released in 2000, I sent the librarians a thank you letter and a signed copy.

Here are a few sizzlin' titles for summer:

picture books: Altoona Baboona by Janie Bynum (Harcourt, 1999); Chance by Dian Curtis Regan, illustrated by Dee Huxley (Philomel, 2003); Dawdle Duckling by Toni Buzzeo, illustrated by Margaret Spengler (Dial, 2003); Hoptoad by Jane Yolen, illustrated by Karen Lee Schmidt (Harcourt, 2003); The Journey of Oliver K. Woodman by Darcy Pattison, illustrated by Joe Cepeda (Harcourt, 2003)(see also Searching For Oliver K. Woodman (Harcourt, 2005)); Mystery At The Club Sandwich by Doug Cushman (Clarion, 2004); Old Thunder And Miss Raney by Sharon Darrow, illustrated by Kathryn Brown (DK INC, 2000); Piggies In A Polka by Kathi Appelt, illustrated by LeUyen Pham (Harcourt, 2003); Shake It, Morena And Other Folktales from Puerto Rico compiled by Carmen T. Bernier-Grand, illustrated by Lulu Delacre (Millbrook, 2002).

Middle Grade: The Meanest Girl by Debora Allie (Roaring Brook, 2005); Millicent Min, Girl Genius by Lisa Yee (Arthur Levine, 2003); Maya Running by Anjali Banerjee (Wendy Lamb Books, 2005); Monster Of The Month Club by Dian Curtis Regan, illustrated by Laura Cornell (Scholastic, 1994); Ninjas, Piranhas, and Galileo by Greg Leitich Smith (Little Brown, 2003, paper 2005); Tria And The Great Star Rescue by Rebecca Kraft Rector (Delacorte, 2002); Tofu And T.rex by Greg Leitich Smith (Little Brown, 2005); The Wish by Gail Carson Levine (HarperCollins, 2000).

Young Adult: The Adventures of the Blue Avenger by Norma Howe (Holt, 1999); The Boyfriend List (15 guys, 11 shrink appointments, 4 ceramic frogs and me, ruby oliver) by E. Lockhart (Delacorte, 2005); Burger Wuss by M.T. Anderson (Candlewick, 1999); Geography Club by Brent Hartinger (Harper, 2003); My Road Trip To The Pretty Girl Capital of the World by Brian Yanksy (Cricket, 2003); Prom by Laurie Halse Anderson (Viking, 2005); Rainbow Road by Alex Sanchez (Simon & Schuster, 2005), Son Of The Mob by Gordon Korman (Hyperion, 2002); Storky: How I Lost My Nickname and Won The Girl by D.L. Garfinkle (Putnam, 2005); Terry And The Pirates by Julian F. Thompson (Atheneum, 2000).

See also my recent post on Writers Must Read with links to my 2005 recommendations.

Cynsational News & Links

Authors' Reading Lists from authorsontheweb.com. Highlights include reading lists from: Alex Flinn; Gail Carson Levine; Kathleen Odean; Terry Trueman; and Laurence Yep.

Invasion of the Road Weenies at BEA: a real-live (giant) Road Weenie per Invasion of the Road Weenies by David Lubar (Starscape/Tor, 2005). See also David Lubar: Award-winning Author with a Sense of Humor by Sue Reichard from Suite101.com.

Thanks to Amarin Enyart, the new BookKids events and marketing coordinator at BookPeople, for helping with ordering/coordinating books for my upcoming workshop.

Saturday, June 04, 2005

It Is The Wind by Ferida Wolf, illustrated by James Ransome

It Is The Wind by Ferida Wolff, illustrated by James Ransome (HarperCollins, 2005). What has caused the noise in the night? Is it the owl, the gate, the swing? What is it, really? In perfect poetry, a young boy in his farmhouse bedroom wonders, worries, and then sleeps reassured. Ages 4-up.

More Thoughts on It Is The Wind

Now I can sleep better, too! I do that. Awaken in the night to fret what might be just outside. Certainly, it must be an even bigger question to someone small, someone to whom the outside world is so huge.

It Is The Wind is a first-rate bedtime book for young minds, both anxious and creative. The text whispers, comforts, and tucks in. The art is as calming as it is evocative of the wonders of the night.

Coretta Scott King award-winner James Ransome's decision to illustrate the protagonist as an African American boy makes this one of precious few universal (in theme) picture books featuring a character from a community historically unrepresented in children's literature.

Cynsational News & Links

Thank you to lizgallagher (for her good wishes on my upcoming Vermont College guest-teaching gig) and Vaughn Zimmer (for her congrats on the reprint of Jingle Dancer (Morrow/HarperCollins, 2000) and paper release of Greg's Ninjas, Piranhas, and Galileo (Little Brown, 2005)).

Friday, June 03, 2005

The Meanest Girl by Debora Allie

The Meanest Girl by Debora Allie (Roaring Brook, 2005). It's not only that The World Trade Center is no longer in her view, though that's part of the mix. It's also that Alyssa's best friend is suddenly pals with her worst enemy, that someone has sent her a love note, that fathers leave, that mothers flirt, that embarrassing moments happen, and by the way, where does God fit into the whole mess anyway? A funny, tender debut novel, well-grounded in its sixth grade sensibility. Charming voice. Ages 8-up. Read chapter one (PDF file).

More Thoughts on The Meanest Girl

So much about this bravely-written story rang true...the competition for a best friend...Bree'd (a' la "Desperate Housewives") supermoms...the Italian American and deftly multicultural cast.

Alyssa tackles the larger questions of God, global responsibility, and who may or not be protecting us in uncertain times. For too long, it seemed the children's literary trade had handed over faith-related themes to the religious presses. Alyssa's perspective should resonate with many young readers.

I also enjoyed the teacher crush as I had something of a sixth-grade crush on my teacher, Mr. Rideout. Given, though, that he nicknamed me "Olive Oil" because of my then tall, slender build (hard to imagine, I know) and a portrait drawn by a kindergartener, I'm almost certain it wasn't mutual. (His loss, I'm sure).

Bonus points for the Trixie Belden references.

Note: Debora is signing tomorrow, June 4, at The Little Book House in New York. Write today to reserve a copy to be shipped to you (or, if you're in the area, go see the author in person!).

Cynsational News & Links

The June issue of KidMagWriters.com features an updated on Robert's Snow, an interview with KidZone editor Anne Huizenga, information on putting together a show-stopping portfolio, and more!

CBC Showcase: Fiction on the Edge: recommended upper level YA books, including: Far From Xanadu and Keeping You A Secret, both by Julie Anne Peters; A Fast and Brutal Wing by Kathleen Jeffrie Johnson; Playing In Traffic by Gail Giles; and A Room On Lorelei Street by Mary E. Pearson. See also: Hot Off The Press: New Books.

History of Children's Book Illustration and the Role Women Played by Denise Ortakales.

Debbi Michiko Florence has updated her interviews with authors Sally Keehn and Toni Buzzeo.

Windows Into Their Lives: The Ninth Book of Junior Authors and Illustrators by Connie Rockman (H. W. Wilson, 2004) from CBC Magazine.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Vermont College Guest Faculty

I heard from department chair Kathi Appelt yesterday that the other guest faculty who'll be teaching with me at the Vermont College MFA program in Writing for Children and Young Adults in July will be Rita Williams-Garcia and Marc Aronson.

Norma Fox Mazer sent me a lovely welcoming note.


I mean, really. Wow!

Cynsational News & Links

Author Kathi Appelt and illustrator Joy Fisher Hein on Miss Lady Bird's Wildflowers: How A First Lady Changed America (HarperCollins, 2005).

Learning about Rita Williams-Garcia Compiled by: Susan Pais, Phyllis Brown, and Ann Gartner with Kay E. Vandergrift in Young Adult Literature.

Author Profile: Marc Aronson from teenreads.com.

Writers of books for children and young adults in Australia are treated as second-class citizens. Bean counters take note: a kid hooked on reading today becomes a major book buyer tomorrow. By Sonya Hartnett from The Bulletin. Thanks to Frances Hill, author of The Bug Cemetery, illustrated by Vera Rosenberry (Henry Holt, 2002), for suggesting this link.

Kindling Words by John Cech, an online audio interview from NPR. "Today, Susan Raab brings us this interview, recorded earlier this year, with Alison James and Harold Underdown, the coordinators of the annual Kindling Words conference for those working in the field of children's book publishing."

Interview with Sandra McLeod Humphrey, author of several nonfiction books for teens, from the "Secrets Of Success" column on author Ellen Jackson's Web site.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

2005 Spur Awards from the Western Writers of America

The Western Writers of America have announced their 2005 Spur award winners in the children's/YA divisions:

Best Western Juvenile Fiction

Spur Winner: Fire In The Hole by Mary Cronk Farrell (Clarion Books, 2004).

Finalists: Worth by Alexandria LaFaye (Simon & Schuster, 2004); Nothing Here But Stones by Nancy Oswald (Henry Holt, 2004).

Best Western Juvenile Nonfiction

Spur Winner: Rattlesnake Mesa...Stories from a Native American Childhood by Ednah New Rider Weber (Lee & Low, 2004).

Finalists: Friday The Arapaho Boy by Marc Simmons (University of New Mexico Press, 2004); Hear That Train Whistle Blow by Milton Metzer (Random House, 2004).

Storyteller (picture book)*

Spur Winner: Apples To Oregon by Deborah Hopkinson, illustrated by Nancy Carpenter (Simon & Schuster, 2004).

Finalists: Old Coyote by Nancy Wood, illustrated by Max Grafe (Candlewick Press, 2004), and Jim Thorpe's Bright Path by Joseph Bruchac, illustrated by S.D. Nelson (Lee & Low, 2004).

Note: Jingle Dancer by Cynthia Leitich Smith, illustrated by Cornelius Van Wright and Ying-Hwa Hu (Morrow/HarperCollins, 2000) was a finalist for the WWA Storyteller Award.

Cynsational News & Links

Fire In The Hole! from Through The Looking Glass Children's Book Review.

Who Wrote That? Featuring Alexandria LaFaye from Patricia M. Newman. Featured in California Kids! April 2004. See also A. LaFaye Discovers Her Worth by Roxyanne Young from Smartwriters.com (February 2005).

Yesterday, I was pleased to hear from my HarperCollins editor, Rosemary Brosnan, that both the library and trade editions of my picture book, Jingle Dancer, illustrated by Cornelius Van Wright and Ying-Hwa Hu, (Morrow/Harper, 2000), are going into reprint (again!).

Congratulations to my pal, Sara Shacter, on the sale of her first book (a picture book to Red Rock Press)! Sara and I know each other from my Chicago days with SCBWI-Illinois.

Congrats also to Greg, who received his author copies of the paperback edition of Ninjas, Piranhas, and Galileo (Little Brown, 2005) yesterday. Very cool how the front of the cover features the seal signifying his Parents' Choice Gold Medal and the back features quotes from his sparkling reviews! The paperback will be simultaneously released with the hardcover of its companion book, Tofu And T.Rex, this July.
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