Monday, April 12, 2010

Cynsational Spring Break

Happy Spring!

I'm going to be taking a short hiatus from Cynsations from now through April 30.

Not coincidentally, the month's end is my "tweak" revision deadline for Blessed (Candlewick, 2011).

Wish me luck! Look for my status updates at facebook, MySpace, and Twitter.

Happy reading & writing!

And for now, I'll leave y'all to enjoy the bikers and even more bluebonnets!



Cynsational Notes

Worried you'll miss me? Bookmark this page, return on week days, and read:

April 12: "On Overwriting: The pitfalls of 'lyrical' prose" by Louise Hawes. Peek: "How to explain my fall from lofty lyricism? Why, when I finally had a chance to step into Melville’s shoes, did I instead write nothing but deliberate, frivolous fun? Because, quite simply, I had children."

April 13: Short Talk with a Prospective Children’s Writer by Astrid Lindgren from The Horn Book Magazine (1973). Peek: "Now I've made you cross. Fancy having the nerve to sit here feeding you such platitudes! Fair enough. But tell me, why does one come across so many children's books that have to be translated into simpler language before they can be understood by the children their subjects are intended for?"

April 14: The Key to Unlocking Mystery and Suspense by Gail Giles. Peek: "...when I start a mystery/suspense novel, I think the audience needs to see what’s at stake, needs to know there’s something to fear, needs to get a quick, but good look at that ugly rat, teeth bared, ready to launch himself at the reader’s face."

April 15: Where Ideas Really Come From by Tim Wynne-Jones. Peek: "Over the years I’ve found all kinds of ways of answering this important question. Mostly, I lie. I say things like, Ideas come from the Idea Store. A kid once told me he had been to the Idea Store. Another liar, I suspected. Except that he could describe it in detail."

April 16: Can Children's Poetry Matter by J. Patrick Lewis from Hunger Mountain. Peek: "Children rarely gravitate to poetry on their own. It’s an acquired taste. They must be introduced to it early and often by their teachers and parents, the critical influences in their lives."

April 19: Barbara Slate: The ABCs of Graphic Novels by Lauren Barack from School Library Journal. Peek: "When I started in the '80s, there were only two women writing and drawing comics, because about 95 percent of readers were boys and about 5 percent girls. But Jenette Kahn, president of DC Comics, was looking to get girls. It was a huge untapped market."

April 20: Pick a Podcast from Children'sbookradio.com. Just to highlight: espisode #14 features Jane Yolen, #18 features Marla Frazee, #23 features Carole Boston Weatherford, #25 features Lois Lowry, #26 features Cynthia Kadohata, #28 features Kadir Nelson, #30 features Jennifer L. Holm, #31 features Cynthia Lord, #34 features Kirby Larson, #40 features Kimberly Willis Holt, #41 features Dian Curtis Regan.

April 21: Debut Teen Author Brews a Tasty Romance: Interview with Kristina Springer by Linda M. Castellitto from BookPage. Peek: "Anyone who’s worked in a service-industry job will nod in recognition while reading passages about snarky customers and cranky coworkers—and anyone who’s been a teenager will relate to the romantic tension that builds as Jane makes matches for her friends but doesn’t realize she’s overlooking her own perfect romantic partner."

April 22: The Westing Game Manuscript: an online exhibit showing the various drafts of Ellen Raskin's Newbery-award-winning book as well as items from Raskin's notes and clip files from the Cooperative Children's Book Center. This exhibit is accompanied by an audio-tape of Ellen Raskin talking about the manuscript. See also introduction, drafts, final manuscript, working notes, book design.

April 23: Virtual Exhibition: Books for/Books from Africa from IBBY. Peek: "The IBBY exhibition is envisaged as source of information for quality African children’s books produced for teachers, researchers, parents and for all those interested in children’s literature" See introduction, forward, reviewers' profiles, picture books, chidlren's fiction, folk tales, YA fiction, and others.

April 26: My Dark Deep Past by Brent Hartinger. Peek: "So I decided to write. I saved up $2000 from my summer job as a lifeguard, and I lived on that for the next nine months while I wrote my first novel (I’m still proud that I could live on so little for so long!)."

April 27: Motivating Young Readers: An Interview with Famed Children's Book Author Joseph Bruchac by Claus E. von Zastrow from Public School Insights. Peek: "Bruchac spoke ...about strategies for motivating children to read. He offered ideas for helping struggling readers, resources parents and teachers can use to combat stereotypes in children's literature, thoughts on the promise and perils of the internet, observations the shortcomings of standardized assessments, and a preview of his forthcoming books."

April 28: Now and Forever: The Power of Sex in Young Adult Literature by Tanya Lee Stone (PDF). Peek: "Oddly, sex explored within the context of fantasy seems to ruffle fewer feathers. For quite some time, we have been able to enjoy Tamora Pierce’s and Francesca Lia Block’s wonderfully sexy characters without much, if any, backlash. Is that because it seems safer to wouldbe censors to frame sexuality in non-realistic settings?"

April 29: To Cheer or To Covet by Liz Garton Scanlon. Peek: "Actually, this is probably the conundrum of the artist, not the writer exclusively. That it is our own community--the community that inspires us and lifts us up -- that can also drive us ugly-green with envy."

April 30: Choosing Your Own Path by R.L. LaFevers from Shrinking Violet Promotions. Peek: "...whatever your creative process and working method is, chances are there is a very legitimate path to success that you can emulate."

Cynsational Notes

The winner of the 10th Anniversary Giveaway of my debut picture book, Jingle Dancer, illustrated by Cornelius Van Write and Ying-Hwa Hu (Morrow/HarperCollins, 2000), was Gina in North Carolina. Thanks to all who entered and celebrated!

This week marks over 2,000 posts here at Cynsations. Any efforts to recommend and/or link to the blog while I'm in the revision cave will be deeply appreciated. Thank you!

The Greater Houston Teen Book Convention

What a great time I had this weekend at Houston Teen Book Con!

The event took place between 10 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Saturday at Alief Taylor High School. From the official website:

The TeenBookCon mission is to celebrate and promote reading by connecting teens with authors.

Speakers included keynoter Sharon Draper and:
Here's a peek at the festivities!

Okay, these are not YA lit enthusiasts! These fish are swimming in a pool in the lobby of the Omni Hotel, which offered a choice of restaurants and lovely rooms. We enjoyed our stay.

The event opened with a Friday evening reception for the author/illustrator speakers and the event committee at Blue Willow Bookshop, a tremendously warm and charming indie store!

Here's Greg with author pal Marjetta Geerling from Florida.

George O'Connor from New York with his graphic novel, Zeus.

The store has a terrific selection of books for kids, teens, and grown-ups!

Authors sign the walls in blue marker. (I climbed a ladder to sign!).

Here's one of the Fillbach brothers--illustrators may have an advantage at such things.

Houston author Judson Roberts visits with fellow speakers the following morning in the green room. In the background, Greg looks over as Sharon Draper walks in.

Sharon gave one of the best keynote addresses I've ever heard.

I have a few more terrific pics, but I'm going to save them for future features.

But first, let me draw attention to Elizabeth Eulberg's books.

Huge thanks to all the sponsors and committee members, especially everyone at Blue Willow, and the rock-star librarians! This was a first-rate event! Authors, if you're invited in the future--go! You'll love it. I know I did!

Cynsational Notes

I tend not to run photos of kids for the obvious security/permissions reasons, but attendance was excellent (over 400), especially considering that this was a first-time event.

Attention: Massachusetts Teens & Tweens -- YA Author Laurie Faria Stolarz to Teach Spring & Summer Creative Workshops

YA author Laurie Faria Stolarz will be teaching three upcoming workshops in Massachusetts.

The Creative Writing Workshop for Teens is scheduled for 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. April 24 at Cornerstone Books in Salem. Geared for teens, ages 13+, students will work to develop, nurture, and improve their writing craft in a fun and supportive group. They will work on such literary devices as setting, character, voice, point-of-view, dialogue, and plot. With the author, they will discuss how closely these devices are linked in creating believable stories. They will learn from other writers by examining their styles through excerpts. They will also practice these styles through group and individual exercises. Students are encouraged to be creative and ready to try new things. Laurie says, "Please bring a notebook and pen."

The cost for this workshop is $75. Scholarships are available for those with financial need. To apply for a scholarship, please submit a typed explanation, in 300 words or less, as to why you would like to take this course. Submit this writing sample to Cornerstone Books, along with your name, telephone number, and e-mail address by April 15. Please note: the scholarship will cover the full cost of the course. See more information.

The four-day Creative Writing Workshop for Tweens is scheduled for 4 p.m. to 5:45 p.m. July 13, July 15, July 20, and July 22 at The Spirit of 76 Bookstore and Card Shop in Marblehead. Cost $200.

Geared for ages 9 to 12, students will work to develop, nurture, and improve their writing craft in a fun and supportive group. They will work on such literary devices as setting, character, and plot. With the author, they will discuss how closely these devices are linked in creating believable stories. They will learn from other writers by examining their style through excerpts. They will also practice these styles through group and individual exercises. Students are encouraged to be creative and ready to try new things. Please bring a notebook and pen. Again, Laurie says, "Please bring a notebook and pen."

Scholarships are available for those with financial need. To apply for a scholarship, please submit a typed explanation, in 300 words or less, as to why you would like to take this course. Submit this writing sample to The Spirit of 76 Bookstore, along with your name, telephone number, and e-mail address by June 15, 2010. Please note: the scholarship will cover the full cost of the course. See more information.

The four-day Creative Writing Workshop for Teens is scheduled for 6 p.m. to 7:45 p.m. July 13, July 15, July 20, and July 22 at The Spirit of 76 Bookstore and Card Shop in Marblehead. Cost $200

Geared for teens, ages 13+, students will work to develop, nurture, and improve their writing craft in a fun and supportive group. They will work on such literary devices as setting, character, voice, point-of-view, dialogue, and plot. With the author, they will discuss how closely these devices are linked in creating believable stories. They will learn from other writers by examining their styles through excerpts. They will also practice these styles through group and individual exercises. Students are encouraged to be creative and ready to try new things. Once more, Laurie says, "Please bring a notebook and pen."

Scholarships are available for those with financial need. To apply for a scholarship, please submit a typed explanation, in 300 words or less, as to why you would like to take this course. Submit this writing sample to The Spirit of 76 Bookstore, along with your name, telephone number, and e-mail address by June 15th, 2010. Please note: the scholarship will cover the full cost of the course. See more information.

About the Instructor

Laurie Faria Stolarz is the author of several popular young adult novels, including Deadly Little Secret, Deadly Little Lies, Project 17, Bleed, and the bestselling Blue is for Nightmares series, which has sold well over 500,000 copies worldwide.

Stolarz's titles have been named on numerous award lists, including the Quick Pick for Reluctant Readers list, the Top Ten Teen Pick list, and YALSA's Popular Paperback list, all through the American Library Association.

She is currently working on the Deadly Little Games, the third book in the Touch series, as well as Do You See, the third book in The Amanda Project.

Read a Cynsations interview with Laurie.

Friday, April 09, 2010

Ming Doyle to Illustrate Tantalize: Kieren's Story by Cynthia Leitich Smith


I'm thrilled to announce that Ming Doyle is in the process of illustrating the interior art for my upcoming graphic novel, Tantalize: Kieren's Story (Candlewick, Feb. 2011).

The graphic novel is set during the same time as the Tantalize prose novel (Candlewick, 2007, 2008), is told from the character Kieren Morales's point of view, and includes several new scenes.

My editor was kind enough to share with me Ming's early sketches, and wow! What a treat to see Quincie, Kieren, Brad, and Sanguini's: A Very Rare Restaurant brought to life. Ming absolutely "gets" the world and its players while bringing her own fresh energy and perspective.

According to her bio, Ming is originally from Boston, the daughter of an Irish American sailor and a Chinese Canadian librarian. She's a 2007 graduate of Cornell with a dual concentration in painting and drawing. She says, "I am currently working on art all night and every day. I would probably love an espresso."

Visit Ming's site and she was like, (her LJ).

Check out this terrific artlapse video showing Ming in action.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Cynsational News & Giveaways

Enter to win a paperback copy of Shifty by Lynn E. Hazen (Tricycle, 2010). From the promotional copy:

Fifteen-year-old Shifty knows all about moving around and next to nothing about where he came from. When he's assigned to a new foster home and family, he tries hard to keep cool and stay out of trouble.

But it seems like the more he tries to do the right thing, the more trouble he finds.

As Shifty navigates a series of messy summer adventures, he struggles to find a balance between the street-wise spirit that has helped him survive and his longing for a place to call home.

Lynn E. Hazen has created a fast-paced, page-turning plot full of surprises and warmth.

To enter the giveaway, email me (scroll and click envelope) with your name and snail/street mail address and type "Shifty" in the subject line. Facebook, JacketFlap, MySpace, and Twitter readers are welcome to just privately message me with the title in the header or RT or comment on this round-up; I'll write you for contact information, if you win. Deadline: midnight CST April 30. Note: U.S. entries only. See also a Cynsations interview with Lynn.

The Happiest Day Giveaway

Enter to win The Happiest Day: A Yoga Story by Uma Krishnaswami, illustrated by Ruth Jeyaveeran (Lee & Low, 2008) from Writing with a Broken Tusk. From the promotional copy:

Meena is excited about the class play, a new and improved version of Red Riding Hood. But when she learns that she must play one of the trees in the forest, Meena's excitement vanishes. She is just too clumsy to be a quiet, steady tree.

One day at the Indian grocery store, Meena sees a yoga class in progress, and the store owner convinces her to try the children's class. Little does Meena know she is about to find a way to grow from the inside out, just like a tree, and move beyond her feelings of clumsiness and frustration.

The Happiest Tree is a gentle and empowering story of a young girl's road to self-confidence. It is sure to spark interest in yoga, and provide comfort to all children as they struggle to overcome the everyday obstacles to growing up.

Learn more about the book from Uma at Lee & Low. Note: The giveaway is in celebration of National Public Health Week. See also a Cynsations interview with Uma.

More News

The Asian Festival of Children's Content will take place May 6 to May 8 at the Arts House in Singapore. Peek: "This year's ACWIC is expected to attract a large number of writers, teachers, illustrators, librarians, publishers and distributors of children's content from Asia and other parts of the world. Over 70 renowned speakers from 15 countries will be presenting more than 100 workshops and panel discussions at this Festival." Note: the program will feature the Asian Children’s Writers and Illustrators Conference, which will include tracks such as New Media Technologies and Children's Content; Alchemy of Writing; Illustrators' Palette; The Librarians' Menu; and The Publishers' Daily Bread. Speakers include Uma Krishnaswami.

Terms to Know: Abbreviations by Eric from Pimp My Novel. Peek: "All industries are full of jargon, gentle readers, and publishing is no exception. To make it doubly confounding, however, many of these oft-repeated jargon-filled phrases are abbreviated or transformed into acronyms, which renders the proverbial (already murky) waters utterly opaque."

The End of History (Books) by Marc Aronson from The New York Times. Peek: "Either we change the way we deal with copyrights — or works of nonfiction in a multimedia world will become ever more dull and disappointing." Read a Cynsations interview with Marc.

See also Marc on Young Men and Reading (about 30 minutes)(more thoughts). Marc also discusses his own books. See also Guys Lit Wire and Guys Read.



Definitions for the Perplexed: Royalties, Advances, and Earning Out from Editorial Anonymous. Peek: "An advance is an approximation of what the publisher thinks your book will earn you in royalties in (perhaps) a year."

Silence by Brian Yansky from Brian's Blog - Writer Talk. Peek: "Sometimes it’s critical voices saying I can’t write about this or a voice saying that no one will want to read my manuscript." See also a Cynsations interview with Brian.

Author/Illustrator Tip: regardless of whatever degree we embrace it, our bylines are our brands, and positive brands fare far better than negative. Think before you rant online or off. If you decide to go ahead, write the draft and then let it sit for a couple of days before you push "publish." If you're still unsure, ask a trusted pal to read it first.

Saltypie: A Choctaw Journey from Darkness into Light, by Tim Tingle, illustrated by Karen Clarkson: a recommendation by Debbie Reese from American Indians in Children's Literature. Peek: "One of the stories Tim told is about his grandmother's years at Tuskahoma Academy, a boarding school for American Indian girls. The color palette on the page for that story is, appropriately, a somber blue. There, Mawmaw as a young child, stands, looking wistful, stuck at the school at Christmas time. That illustration is exceedingly powerful. Actually, it is only one of many illustrations in the book that are astounding in what they convey."

Young Adult Authors Agent Bullying at facebook. Peek: "This group was created for Young Adult authors and readers to come together and put an end to bullying. Victims of bullying do not need to feel like they are alone. We are creating a platform for your stories. We are creating a safe haven for your concerns. We encourage all YA authors to become a part of this group, so that we can provide updates, mission statements, action items and simple ways to spread the anti-bullying cause. Please join our fight to end bullying and to give a voice to those who cannot or are too afraid to be heard." See also A List of YA Novels that Battle Bullying compiled by Mitali Perkins from Mitali's Fire Escape.

Old Manuscript: Two Questions Before Starting to Revise by Darcy Pattison from Fiction Notes. Peek: "Maybe, when you originally started a story, you didn’t have the skills necessary to do a story justice. But you’re at a different place now. Are you ready to tackle it?" Read a Cynsations interview with Darcy.

How to Layer Points of View by Mary Kole from Kidlit.com. Peek: "A lot of adult writers want to reinforce to teen readers that adults have problems and to be more sympathetic to them. Probably because they’re raising teens at the time and feel unappreciated. This is not the way to help teen readers empathize because this type of moralizing usually doesn’t get published and reach teen readers." Note: the standard caution applies--if breaking the rule works, do it. But this is an interesting point, and in considering it, I can think of several books that integrate adult POV, but only a couple that do so successfully.

Seven Questions Over Breakfast with Tao Nyeu by Jules from Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast. Peek: "Bunny Days (Dial, 2010) features three slapstick tales of six curious rabbits; one paternal, ever-patient, and very wise Bear; and Mr. and Mrs. Goat, who are simply about their chores in the countryside, only to have their plans foiled by the inquisitive rabbits. The writing is good, and there’s a lot of humor, but it’s Nyeu’s stylized art that really stands out, what Publishers Weekly once described as possessing an 'Art Nouveau-meets-psychedelic feel.'"

Building the Framework for Your Authorial Success from QueryTracker. Peek: "Put your name, first and last, on your blog. Near the top, so it is one of the first things people see. And if you are agented, say so, mentioning your agent by name. It’s good publicity for both of you."

Expectations: Looking Back by Candace Havens from Genreality. Peek: "I thought when I sold that first book that was it. The truth is, that’s when the work really begins." Source: Elizabeth Scott.

GottaBook Blog by Gregory K. Pincus: an endorsement from School Library Journal. Peek: "Jacqueline Woodson, Walter Dean Myers, and Kathi Appelt are just some of the writers who’ll take part in 30 Poets/30 Days, a celebration of children's poetry during National Poetry Month. Every day in April, author Gregory K. Pincus’s GottaBook blog and Twitter site will feature a previously unpublished poem by a different poet—and it’s completely free and open 24/7."

Kristin Walker: Your Inner Critic is a Jerk from Teenreads.com. Peek: "Cracking the whip on the inner critic can be like trying to stand an eel on end, but it’s essential for a writer to do."

Barahona Center for the Study of Books in Spanish for Children and Adolescents features recommended books in Spanish, recommended books about Latinos in English, professional books, and more.

Sweetheart Jessica Lee Anderson: Interview & Giveaway by P.J. Hoover from Roots in Myth. Comment to win a copy of Border Crossing (Milkweed, 2009). Read a Cynsations interview with P.J. and Jessica.

Agent-Requested Revisions: An Interview with Literary Agent Joan Paquette by Mary Lindsey from Query Tracker. Peek: "Don't be afraid to take all the time you need to do a thorough revision; get some additional readers; let it sit a while and then come back to it with fresh eyes." Read a Cynsations interview with Ammi-Joan (same agent).

More Personally

Highlights of the week included tea at Bennu Coffee in East Austin with Greg (in the cap), Vermont College of Fine Arts MFA students Meredith Davis (in white), Sean Petrie (in blue) and Anne Bustard (in orange). The guest of honor was my fellow VCFA faculty member (and National Book Award finalist) Martine Leavitt (in black) in town from Canada.

How 21 of Your Favorite YA Authors are Spending Their Easter Day! from Reading Teen. Holiday insights from me, Ellen Hopkins, Heather Brewer, R.J. Anderson, Claudia Gray, Lesley Livingston, and many more! See also a peek at my Easter festivities below!



Central Texas is so magical right now. Here's one of the many wildflowers in my back yard.

More Giveways

Enter to win a copy of Athena the Brain and/or Persephone the Phony from the Goddess Girls series by Joan Holub and Suzanne Williams (Aladdin, 2010-)! To enter, email me (scroll and click envelope) with your name and snail/street mail address in the body of the message. Type "Athena the Brain" or "Persephone the Phony" in the subject line, depending on which you'd prefer. Facebook, JacketFlap, MySpace, and Twitter readers are welcome to comment, message, or RT; I'll write you for contact information, if you win. Yes, you can enter to win both books! But please send two separate emails/comments/RTs, following the instructions above. Read a Cynsations guest post by Joan and Suzanne.

Enter to win Vampireology: A Genuine and Moste Authentic Ology (Candlewick, 2010)! To enter the giveaway, email me (scroll and click envelope) with your name and snail/street mail address and type "Vampireology" in the subject line. Facebook, JacketFlap, MySpace, and Twitter readers are welcome to just privately message me with the title in the header or RT or comment on this round-up; I'll write you for contact information, if you win. Deadline: midnight CST April 30. Note: U.S. entries only.

In celebration of the 10-year anniversary of Jingle Dancer by Cynthia Leitich Smith, illustrated by Cornelius Van Wright and Ying-Hwa Hu (Morrow/HarperCollins, 2000), enter to win a copy the book! To enter the giveaway, email me (scroll and click envelope) with your name and snail/street mail address and type "Jingle Dancer" in the subject line. Facebook, JacketFlap, MySpace, and Twitter readers are welcome to comment, RT, or privately message me with the title in the header; I'll write for contact information, if you win. Deadline: midnight CST April 11. Note: U.S. entries only; sponsored by HarperCollins.

Cynsational Events

The Greater Houston Teen Book Convention is scheduled for 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. April 10 at Alief Taylor High School, and admission is free! Speakers include keynoter Sharon Draper and Cynthia Leitich Smith.

The Texas Library Association Annual Conference will be April 14 to April 17 at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center in San Antonio. Note: I'll be speaking from 1 p.m. to 1:50 p.m. on the "A Conversation Between Books and Technology" panel with Jay Asher, Corey Doctorow, Maureen Johnson, and Jude Watson. Then I'll sign books from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. See a schedule of Austin authors at TLA.

Release party - author Chris Barton will celebrate Shark v. Train, illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld (Little Brown, 2010) at 1 p.m. April 24 at BookPeople in Austin. Read a Cynsations interview with Chris.


Moments of Change: the New England SCBWI Conference will take place May 14 to May 16 in Fitchburg, Massachusetts. See conference schedule, workshop descriptions, manuscript critique guidelines, and special conference offerings. See faculty bios. Note: I'm honored to be participating as a keynote speaker!

SCBWI Florida: Mid-Year Workshop and Intensives will be June 4 and June 5 at Disney's Coronada Springs Resort at Walt Disney World. Note: I'm honored to be leading the marketing track with author/social media consultant Greg Pincus and Ed Masessa, author and Senior Manager Product Development, Scholastic Book Fairs. Picture book, middle grade, YA, and series tracks also are available.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

The 10th Anniversary of Jingle Dancer

My first book, Jingle Dancer, illustrated by Cornelius Van Wright and Ying-Hwa Hu (Morrow/HarperCollins), was published ten years ago. From the promotional copy:

Jenna, a contemporary Native American girl in Oklahoma, wants to honor a family tradition by jingle dancing at the next powwow. But where will she find enough jingles for her dress?

A warm family story, beautifully evoked in Cornelius Van Wright and Ying-Hwa Hu's watercolor art.


I wrote the book for a lot of reasons.

First, I wanted to share a daily-life story about a contemporary Native girl.

So many Native-themed children's books, to this day, are historicals. And I love a great historical story, but the balance had tipped too far in that direction. It suggested that Native people existed only in the past, which is not true. We are citizens of Nations with a past, a present, and a future.

And though I was open to (and later pursued) telling stories with boy heroes, it seemed that the body of youth literature heavily favored fictional Native boys over fictional Native girls.

Jingle Dancer is a story of love, reciprocity, and tradition. It's also specific, reflecting a Muscogee (Creek)-Anishinabe (Ojibwe/Chippewa) girl from small-town Oklahoma.

The illustrations reflect diversity within Native America by including characters who're also of European and African-American heritage. In fact, it's one of the few books reflecting Black Indian characters wherein their ethnicity is incorporated without commentary.

The story also offers a wider socioeconomic view of Native folks than we normally see in children's books. The main characters include a young attorney.

Above all, it's the story of Jenna, Grandma Wolfe, Great-aunt Sis, Mrs. Scott, and Cousin Elizabeth. And of course a jingle dress!

The book was dedicated to my much-beloved Great-aunt Anne, who sadly is no longer with us. I had the privilege of living with her when I was younger. And oh, my! We had such fun. I hope that when young readers turn the pages, they feel the love we shared.

And finally, I'm forever appreciative of the efforts and caring exhibited by the amazing illustration team and our wonderful editor.

From the Illustration Team


Hi Cynthia:

I can’t believe it’s been 10 years since Jingle Dancer was published. But the evidence stares back at me when I look at the photos we (Ying-Hwa and I) took of the jingle dancers at a powwow we attended as a family.

Our kids were in some of the pictures, and they were waist high. Now they are as tall (my son taller) then we are.

Of the different kinds of books we had the privilege to illustrate, there are a handful that made the joy-to-illustrate list. Jingle Dancer is one of them.

As mentioned above, we researched and became familiar with the jingle dance as a family. Not just the day at the powwow, speaking with many of the participants, but also on trips to the National Museum of American Indian.

Aside from having a great time illustrating Jingle Dancer was the later benefit of watching your explosive growth (as an author) and witnessing the abundant energy and resources of your blog and website.

You also very much impacted our daughter when she found out we knew the author of Rain Is Not My Indian Name (HarperCollins, 2001). She loved that book.

A true hope of mine is to one day illustrate another book by Cynthia Leitich Smith.

You are great!

All the best,
Cornelius (& Ying-Hwa)

From the Editor

Happy Anniversary, Jenna!

When Cynthia asked me to write something for the tenth anniversary of Jingle Dancer, her first book, I was thrilled. Ten years!

Since it had been a while since I’d read the book, I sat down to reread it. Tears came to my eyes, and I got goosebumps. What an absolutely perfect picture book this still is, after ten years, with such a sympathetic main character and a compelling storyline.

I have always loved the way this book evokes the importance of family, friends, and community—how people together can accomplish something that one person cannot.

Cyn and I started working together in 1997, when she submitted a manuscript called "Something Bigger" to me. There was something in this story about contemporary Native Americans that I just loved, and Cyn had a fresh, exciting new voice.

Then she sent me a picture book manuscript called "Jenna, Jingle Dancer," which was eventually titled just "Jingle Dancer."

I fell in love with the story right away—-again, Cyn’s voice and lyrical language were wonderful, and I very much welcomed a story about a contemporary Native girl, with not a stereotype in sight.

I acquired Jingle Dancer at Lodestar Books, which was a imprint of Dutton Children’s Books. I received a revision of the manuscript on April 9, and Cyn’s wonderful agent, Ginger Knowlton, had an offer in hand by the end of April. I had to have this book!

Then, in August 1997, the Lodestar imprint was shut down. Cyn kindly followed me to Morrow Junior Books, where I published the book. (Her next two books were published by HarperCollins, which bought Morrow. Same editor, three publishing houses!)

Editorially, the manuscript was in fine shape when it came in. I said in my letter to Cyn, “The changes I made in the manuscript are to smooth out the writing, and they are minor. I think the story is in great shape. You write well, and every word counts—which is just as a picture book should be.”

Most of the work was on the author’s note and glossary, which we both felt were so important to have in this book. Cyn thought of including a recipe for fry bread but worried (okay, she’s a former lawyer!) that frying the bread is a messy business, and a child could get burned.

As soon as I signed up the manuscript, I contacted Cornelius Van Wright and Ying-Hwa Hu. I’d worked with them before, and I thought they would be the perfect illustrators for this book, with their soft watercolors and ability to draw appealing, realistic characters.

Cyn was quite involved with the art, as we wanted to get it just right. She generously sent me packages to pass along to the artists: a video of jingle-dancing, a craft magazine that featured making jingle dresses, photos of houses and neighborhoods from towns within the borders of Muscogee Nation in Oklahoma.

And have you noticed how many characters in the book are wearing glasses? That’s deliberate: Native Americans are almost never depicted wearing glasses in any media. It was time to change that.

When Cyn received the F&G’s (folded and gathered, print sheets) of the book, she said she felt as though she’d made a trip to family in Oklahoma. I was so pleased!

I’m proud to have published this very, very special book, and the fact that it was Cynthia’s first means a great deal to me.

Happy anniversary, Cyn and Jenna!

Rosemary Brosnan, HarperCollins Children's Books

Awards and Honors

NCSS Notable Children's Trade Book in the Field of Social Studies and a Selector's Choice for 2001;

Named to the 2001 2 x 2 Reading List of twenty books recommended for children ages two through second grade by the Texas Library Association;

One of five finalists for the children's/YA division of the Oklahoma Book Award;

Runner-up for the Storyteller Award from the Western Writers Association;

Named a CCBC Choice for 2001;

Debuts That Deliver (Book Magazine);

Editor's Choice, Library Talk;

Featured in Great Books About Things Kids Love by Kathleen Odean;

2002 Read Across Texas Bibliography (Texas State Library and Archives Commission).

Cynsational Giveaway

Enter to win a copy of Jingle Dancer! To enter the giveaway, email me (scroll and click envelope) with your name and snail/street mail address and type "Jingle Dancer" in the subject line. Facebook, JacketFlap, MySpace, and Twitter readers are welcome to comment, RT, or privately message me with the title in the header; I'll write for contact information, if you win. Deadline: midnight CST April 11. Note: U.S. entries only; sponsored by HarperCollins.

10,000 Books To Be Delivered to Teens on Native Reservations and Tribal Lands

Nationwide, scores of young adult authors and librarians to drop books on April 15 AKA Support Teen Literature Day


Operation Teen Book Drop will deliver 10,000 new books to teens on Native reservations and tribal lands, an event that coincides with Support Teen Literature Day.

In addition, more than 100 top young adult authors will leave their books in public places for young readers to discover, and members of the public can buy books online and have them shipped to tribal libraries.

Publishers donated the books, valued at more than $175,000.

“These publishers have shown astounding vision and generosity by supporting Operation Teen Book Drop,” said readergirlz co-founder Dia Calhoun, an award-winning novelist herself. “Now underserved teens can benefit from the current explosion of high quality YA books. These teens can see their own experience, their tragedies and their triumphs in these books, books that become shining doorways to the young human spirit.”

The donations are especially significant to many Native teens. “In their lives, they really don’t have new books,” said Mary Nickless, the librarian at Ojo Encino Day School, one of 44 institutions that will benefit from Operation TBD.

A nationwide effort of authors, publishers, librarians and readers

In its third year, Operation TBD is part of a massive effort by librarians, young adult authors, and avid readers to spur reading on a nationwide scale. The day aims to encourage teens to read for the fun of it.

The effort is coordinated by readergirlz, the Young Adult Library Services Association, GuysLitWire, and a new partner, If I Can Read, I Can Do Anything, a national reading club for Native children.

• More than 100 young adult authors—including David Levithan, Sara Zarr, and Cynthia Leitich Smith—are participating by leaving copies of their books in public places for teens to find.

• Teens and other fans of YA literature are also invited to “rock the drop.”

GuysLitWire has created a wish list of 750 books that supporters can buy from Powells.com. Beginning April 7, these purchases can be made and sent directly to one of two tribal school libraries, Ojo Encino Day School or Alchesay High School.

In 2008 and 2009, the groups coordinated the delivery of 20,000 new books to teens in hospitals.

“Operation TBD was originally conceived with the hope of reaching a number of teen groups,” said readergirlz co-founder Lorie Ann Grover. “While we donated books to hospitalized teens for two years, I was personally compelled to donate books to the local Muckleshoot Indian Tribe. We were thrilled to discover we could broaden this effort with If I Can Read and gift TBD to our second targeted group, Native teens.”

“By making Operation TBD part of Support Teen Literature Day, YALSA and its partners help raise awareness of the importance of teen literature to all teens,” said Linda W. Braun, YALSA President. “Our thanks to the publishers, If I Can Read I Can Do Anything, readergirlz and Guys Lit Wire for joining us in supporting such a worthy cause.”

Participating publishers this year include Abrams Books; Bloomsbury/Walker Books; Candlewick Press; Chronicle Books; Hachette Book Group; Boyds Mills Press; Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; Milkweed; Mirrorstone Books; Orca Book Publishers; Scholastic; Simon & Shuster Children's Publishing; Tor/Forge/Starscape/Tor Teen; Roaring Brook Press; and Better World Books.

Everyone who participates in Operation TBD is invited to celebrate at the TBD Post-Op Party on April 15 at the readergirlz blog.

Cynsational Notes



About Support Teen Literature Day

In its fourth year, Support Teen Literature Day is April 15, and will be celebrated in conjunction with ALA’s National Library Week. Librarians across the country are encouraged to participate in Support Teen Literature Day by hosting events in their libraries. The celebration raises awareness that young adult literature is a vibrant, growing genre with much to offer today’s teens. Support Teen Literature Day also seeks to showcase award-winning authors and books in the genre, as well as highlight librarians’ expertise in connecting teens with books and other reading materials.

About the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA)

For more than 50 years, YALSA has been the world leader in selecting books, videos, and audiobooks for teens.

About GuysLitWire

Guys Lit Wire brings literary news and reviews to the attention of teenage boys and the people who care about them. Working to combat the perception that teen boys aren’t as well read as teen girls, the organization seeks out literature uniquely targeted toward teen male readers in hopes of bringing attention of good books to guys who might have missed them.

About If I Can Read, I Can Do Anything

If I Can Read, I Can Do Anything is a national reading club for Native children directed by Dr. Loriene Roy. The program works to encourage reading among Native children by offering incentives, sending books to schools, and sponsoring activities.

About readergirlz

readergirlz is the foremost online book community for teen girls, led by critically acclaimed YA authors—Dia Calhoun (Avielle of Rhia), Lorie Ann Grover (Hold Me Tight), Justina Chen Headley (North of Beautiful), Holly Cupala (Tell Me a Secret), Liz Gallagher (The Opposite of Invisible), Elizabeth Scott (The Unwritten Rule) and Melissa Walker (Lovestruck Summer).

readergirlz is the recipient of a 2007 James Patterson PageTurner Award and a 2009 Innovations in Reading Prize from the National Book Foundation.

To promote teen literacy and leadership in girls, readergirlz features a different YA novel and corresponding community service project every month, and offers chats with authors and an author-in-residency program for aspiring writers.
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