Orbis Picture Book Award Announced

schubertThis is so cool since I reviewed this book last week and “know” the author in that we participate in several online forums together.

Each year the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) gives out the Orbis Picture Book Award to one book as an example of excellent nonfiction for children.

The winner for 2013 is Monsieur Marceau: Actor without Words by my friend Leda Schubert, illustrated by Gérard DuBois (Roaring Brook Press).  Way to go, Leda!   This book impressed me in showing how much he was able to express without words.  Because he communicated without words, he could “speak” to people from many countries who knew a wide variety of languages.

The committee also named honor books and recommended reading.

Honor Books:

  • Citizen Scientist: Be a Part of Scientific Discovery from Your Own Backyard by Loree Griffin Burns, photographs by Ellen Harasimonwicz (Henry Holt & Company)
  • Electric Ben: The Amazing Life and Times of Benjamin Franklin by Robert Byrd (Dial Books for Young Readers)  which is on my “to read” stack.
  • The Mighty Mars Rovers: The Incredible Adventures of Spirit and Opportunity 

    by Elizabeth Rusch (Houghton Mifflin Books for Children)

  • Those Rebels, John & Tom by Barbara Kerley, illustrated by Edward Fotheringham (Scholastic) which I loved.
  • We’ve Got a Job: The 1963 Birmingham Children’s March 

    by Cynthia Levinson (Peachtree Publishers)

Recommended Books:

  • A Black Hole is NOT a Hole by Carolyn Cinami DeCristofano, illustrated by Michael Carroll (Charlesbridge Publishing)
  • Abraham Lincoln & Frederick Douglass: The Story Behind an American Friendship by Russell Freedman (Clarion Books)
  • The Amazing Harry Kellar: Great American Magician by Gail Jarrow (Calkins Creek)
  • Beyond Courage: The Untold Story of Jewish Resistance During the Holocaust by Doreen Rappaport (Candlewick Press)
  • The Case of the Vanishing Golden Frogs: A Scientific Mystery by Sandra Markle (Millbrook Press)
  • Chuck Close: Face Book by Chuck Close (Abrams Books for Young Readers)
  • Hands Around the Library: Protecting Egypt’s Treasured Books by Karen Leggett Abouraya, illustrated by Susan L. Roth (Dial Books for Young Readers)
  • Life in the Ocean: The Story of Oceanographer Sylvia Earle by Claire A. Nivola  (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

Happy Reading and, again, Congratulations to Leda!


Algonquin Young Readers Debut in 2013

Do you have a middle grade novel or young adult novel to market?  Then you might want to take a look at Algonquin Young Readers.

This line was started by long time HarperCollins Children’s Book editor Elise Howard who left  HarperCollins in October 2011 to start this new line at Algonquin Books, a small press based in North Carolina.

Howard, editor and publisher of Algonquin Young Readers, is looking for “character- and voice-driven stories.”  Her goal is to release 15 books/season their third year.  They are launching this fall with two YA and three middle-grade books to be followed in the spring of 2014 with a similar list.

The titles in the first list are:

  • The Time Fetch by Amy Herrick.  A middle-grade fantasy about a boy who rips the space-time continuum.
  • If You Could Be Mine by Sara Farizan.  A young adult about Sahar, an Iranian teen in love with another girl.
  • Somebody Up There Hates You by Hollis Seaman.  A YA about teens in hospice care.
  • The Show Must Go On! by sisters Kate and M. Sarah Klise.  This is the first of three  Three-Ring Rascals books for newly independent readers.
  • Anton and Cecil: Cats at Sea by Valerie Martin and, her niece, Lisa Martin.  Another middle grade title.

I was encouraged that not all of these authors are big names like the Klise sisters with their long running collaboration in children’s books.    Herrick, Seaman, and Valerie Martin have experience but in writing for adults.  Lisa Martin is an educator and poet.  Farizan is a debut author.

If you plant to submit, target your work well and send only your best because they report receiving a large number of submissions.

The publisher doesn’t take unsolicited manuscripts, either by post or electronically, but they do welcome queries.  In your query include a no more than 15-20 double-spaced page sample of your work, a cover letter, and a SASE.  Mail to:  Editorial Department, Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, P.O. Box 2225, Chapel Hill, NC, 27515.

Good luck!


Are You Eligible for a Crystal Kite Award?

Crystal KiteThe Crystal Kite is the member choice award given out by the Society of Children’s Books Writers and Illustrators each year.  That means that if you are an SCBWI PAL member with a book published in 2012, you need to make sure that your book has been nominated.

Do this by going to the SCBWI site.

Once there, you will have to update your member profile to include the information on your 2012 book.  To do this:

  1. Log in.
  2. Click on Manage Profile.
  3. Click on the tab labeled Publication.
  4. Enter your 2012 book.  When you do, be sure to click the box next to the following.  “Yes, I would like to submit this publication for Crystal Kite Awards nomination.”

NOTE:  Once voting has begun (February 1, 2013) no more books can be nominated.  You have two days to nominate your book!

Good luck to all of you PAL authors.


ALA 2013 Awards Announced

The American Library Awards named the winners of their coveted medals this morning.  Here is a list, hopefully formatted a bit more clearly than the lists I’ve found online.

Newbery Medal winner for outstanding contribution to children’s literature:
The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate (HarperCollins Children’s Books)

Newbery Honor Books:
Splendors and Glooms by Laura Amy Schlitz (Candlewick Press)
Bomb: The Race to Build-and Steal-the World’s Most Dangerous Weapon by Steve Sheinkin (Flash Point/Roaring Brook Press).  My son wants to read this one so I’m already on the library’s list.
Three Times Lucky by Sheila Turnage (Dial Books for Young Readers/Penguin Young Readers Group)Caldecott Medal for illustration:
This Is Not My Hat illustrated and written by Jon Klassen (Candlewick Press).  One of my girlfriends just recommended this to me.

Caldecott Honor Books:
Creepy Carrots! illustrated by Peter Brown, written by Aaron Reynolds (Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers).  I adored this book.
Extra Yarn illustrated by Jon Klassen, written by Mac Barnett (Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins Publishers)
Green illustrated and written by Laura Vaccaro Seeger (Neal Porter Books/Roaring Brook Press)
One Cool Friend illustrated by David Small, written by Toni Buzzeo (Dial Books for Young Readers/Penguin Young Readers Group)
Sleep Like a Tiger illustrated by Pamela Zagarenski, written by Mary Logue (Houghton Mifflin Books for Children)

Coretta Scott King (Author) Book Award recognizing an African American author and illustrator of outstanding books for children and young adults:
Hand in Hand: Ten Black Men Who Changed America by Andrea Davis Pinkney (Disney/Jump at the Sun Books, an imprint of Disney Book Group)

King Honor Books:
Each Kindness by Jacqueline Woodson, illustrated by E. B. Lewis (Nancy Paulsen Books/Penguin Young Readers Group)
No Crystal Stair: A Documentary Novel of the Life and Work of Lewis Michaux, Harlem Bookseller by Vaunda Micheaux Nelson, illustrated by R. Gregory Christie (Carolrhoda Lab)

Coretta Scott King (Illustrator) Book Award:
I, Too, Am America illustrated by Bryan Collier (Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers)

King Illustrator Honor Books:
H. O. R. S. E. illustrated and written by Christopher Myers (Egmont USA)
Ellen’s Broom illustrated by Daniel Minter (G. P. Putnam’s Sons/Penguin Young Readers Group)
I Have a Dream: Martin Luther King, Jr. illustrated by Kadir Nelson (Schwartz & Wade Books/Random House Children’s Books)

Michael L. Printz Award for excellence in literature written for young adults:
In Darkness by Nick Lake (Bloomsbury Books for Young Readers)

Printz Honor Books:
Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz (Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers)
Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein (Hyperion)
Dodger by Terry Pratchett (HarperCollins Children’s Books)
The White Bicycle by Beverley Brenna (Red Deer Press)

Pura Belpré (Illustrator) Award honoring a Latino writer and illustrator whose children’s books best portray, affirm and celebrate the Latino cultural experience:
Martín de Porres: The Rose in the Desert illustrated by David Diaz (Clarion Books)

Pura Belpré (Author) Award:
Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz (Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers)

Belpré Author Honor Book:
The Revolution of Evelyn Serrano by Sonia Manzano (Scholastic Press)

Robert F. Sibert Informational Book Award:
Bomb: The Race to Build-and Steal-the World’s Most Dangerous Weapon by Steve Sheinkin (Flash Point/Roaring Brook Press)

Sibert Honor Books:
Electric Ben: The Amazing Life and Times of Benjamin Franklin written and illustrated by Robert Byrd  (Dial Books for Young Readers)
Moonbird: A Year on the Wind with the Great Survivor B95 by Phillip M. Hoose (Farrar Straus Giroux Books for Young Readers)
Titanic: Voices from the Disaster by Deborah Hopkinson (Scholastic Press)

Stonewall Book Award – Mike Morgan & Larry Romans Children’s & Young Adult Literature Award given annually to English-language children’s and young adult books of exceptional merit relating to the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender experience:
Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz (Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers)

Stonewall Honor Books:
Drama by Raina Telgemeier (Graphix/Scholastic Inc.)
Gone, Gone, Gone by Hannah Moskowitz (Simon Pulse)
October Mourning: A Song for Matthew Shepard by Lesléa Newman (Candlewick Press)
Sparks: The Epic, Completely True Blue, (Almost) Holy Quest of Debbie  by S. J. Adams (Flux)

Theodor Seuss Geisel Award for the most distinguished beginning reader book:
Up, Tall and High! by Ethan Long (G. P. Putnam’s Sons)

Geisel Honor Books:
Let’s Go for a Drive! by Mo Willems (Hyperion Books for Children)
Frank the Cat and His Four Groovy Button by Eric Litwin (HarperCollins Children’s Books)
Rabbit & Robot: The Sleepover by Cece Bell (Candlewick Press)

William C. Morris Award for a debut book published by a first-time author writing for teens:
Seraphina by Rachel Hartman (Random House Children’s Books).  Loved this book!


What Setting Can Do For Your Story

blackSetting.  Its the place where your story takes place, but if you play it right, you’re setting can be so much more.

Mood.  Have you ever noticed how some authors use the setting for instant mood.  Need spooky?  Place your character in a cemetery.   Cheerful?  A beach in bright sunshine.

Character.  It can also reveal a lot about a character.  Set your story in a middle school and we have a pretty good idea how old your teen character is.  Likewise, if your story opens at the animal shelter where your character volunteers, we know a thing or two.

Until now, I really couldn’t have added much more to this list, but this morning I finished reading The Drowning House by  Elizabeth Black  (Nan A Talese/Doubleday, 2012).  Thanks to Black’s masterful debut novel, I can also add…

Foreshadowing.  Black’s book is about a character who is finding out about her family’s past.  What she learns about the history of the setting, Galveston, mirrors the history of her own family and the mistakes made in the distant past hint at similar mistakes she very nearly made.

Read more about Black’s work on the Muffin post .  I posted there today with a book review that goes into a bit more detail about how this writer uses her plot to its fullest.

Me? I’ve got a book to re-read.


And the Nominees for the Edgar Awards Are…

Recently the nominees for the 2013 Edgar Awards were announced.  I’m only going to give the juvenile and young adult lists below.  For the full list, click here.  Without further ado, the nominees are. . .

For Best Juvenile:


Fake Mustache: Or, How Jodie O’Rodeo and Her Wonder Horse (and Some Nerdy Kid) Saved the U.S. Presidential Election from a Mad Genius Criminal Mastermind by Tom Angleberger (Abrams – Amulet Books)
13 Hangmen by Art Corriveau (Abrams – Amulet Books)
The Quick Fix by Jack D. Ferraiolo (Abrams – Amulet Books)
Spy School by Stuart Gibbs (Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers)
Three Times Lucky by Sheila Turnage (Penguin Young Readers Group – Dial Books for Young Readers)

For best Young Adult:

Emily’s Dress and Other Missing Things by Kathryn Burak (Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group – Roaring Brook Press)
The Edge of Nowhere by Elizabeth George (Penguin Young Readers Group – Viking)
Crusher by Niall Leonard (Random House Children’s Books – Delacorte BFYR)
Amelia Anne is Dead and Gone by Kat Rosenfield (Penguin Young Readers Group – Dutton Children’s Books)
Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein (Disney Publishing Worldwide – Hyperion)
So, which of these books have your read?  The Edgars always surprise me.  With other awards, I’ve usually read a few of the titles.  With the Edgars, I usually recognize a few of the titles.  Embarrassing, isn’t it?  If you’re like me, you have until May 2 to get these books read so that you can say, “Of course, I’ve read the winner.  Haven’t you?”

What I Learned from Snap Judgement

Maybe you are familiar with Snap Judgement, Story Telling with a Beat, but it was new to me when Jane Yolen posted a link to this video on Facebook.

Wow.  Initially, that’s all I could say.  Wow.

Noah St. John is the performer and his pacing is amazing.

He draws us in and makes us (forces us!) to care.

He makes his personal story appeal to a larger audience.  It doesn’t just matter to him.  It matters to us.  We have to keep listening.

And his misleads us in the most amazing way.  You think you know where he’s going and then — snap — he jerks you in another direction.

Yes, this is a video.  It is a story as spoken word.  There is a musical accompaniment which we, as writers, normally don’t have for our work.  But don’t just shrug it off.  This is story telling.  What can you take away from this to use in your own work?

Watch and learn, people.  Watch and learn.


What Changes are Coming at Egmont

EgmontAndrea Cascardi, formerly an agent with Transatlantic Literary, has been appointed as managing director and publisher effective immediately.  As an agent, she represented Mary Casanova, Mary Nethery, and Clare Vanderpool, Newbery winner.  Before becoming an agent, Cascardi held editorial positions at Disney Publishing, Kingfisher USA, and the Knopf and Crown imprints of Random House Children’s Books.

With Cascardi taking this newly created position, Elizabeth Law is leaving the company.  Law has been with Egmont USA since its creation 5 years-ago.

What will these changes mean for authors?  We will have to stay tuned to find out.



Why NOT to Share Your Writing Goals

Are you one of those writers who shares every single story idea before you start working on it?  If you watched this video, you may be wondering if that’s such a good idea.   I’m still trying to decide how I feel about it.

It seems like you would have to know yourself as an artist to know if this is a good idea or not.  Here are 6 questions that you should ask yourself:

  1. If I tell someone about my story, does it feel like all of the energy has gone out of the project?
  2. Why am I telling other people about my work?
  3. Do I need to bounce ideas off other people to work through them?
  4. I know a number of writers who discuss each and every project in great detail before they get a word down.  Some of them then go on to write the book. Other, don’t.
  5. Which goals to I finish — those I announce vs those I don’t.
  6. If I discuss a project, are there people in my life who will hold me accountable?

Thank you to Alison Pearce Stevens for sharing the link to this video.  It has definitely given me something to think about!


Three Lessons I’ve Learned as an Activity/Craft Writer

One of my favorite projects.  This one is going in the family room.
One of my favorite projects. This one is going in the family room.

Here are a few of my crafts that were recently published on Education.com.

  • Brownie Waffles.  Brownies made in a waffle iron.  So good!  So rich!
  • Cereal Man.  Think rice crispie treat in the form of a ginger bread man.  No, I can’t call it a rice crispy treat in the actual activity, because rice crispies are a particular product.
  • String Art Tree.  String tree made on a cone form.  Messy but fun.
  • String Jewelry.  Like spyro-graph with string but you get to wear it.
  • String Letters.  Very time consuming but I love the final product.
  • Yarn Letters.  Another one that took a while to finish.

You would think that as many of these activities that I do (20 every 4-6 weeks), I would have learned all there is to learn.  Maybe I’m just slow but here are three things that I learned this time around.

Do not pitch too many food activities at once if they are all dessert.  Or maybe you should only do it if you are having a party.  Way, way too much food this time around (there are four more pieces that haven’t been posted yet).

When you do this many pieces every month, take the time to complete each project into consideration as you pitch.  String art if very time consuming.  Nuff said.

Also look at the space each project will take up.  I try to hang onto a finished piece at least until it is published.  That way I don’t have to redo a project if my editor needs additional photos.  Big, bulky projects take up a lot of space.  Multiply that by 2 or 6 or 20 and other people in the family start to give you funny looks when they try to squeeze through the dining room.

What will I learn with my next batch of activities?  Who knows!