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Bright shiny things for bright young things and the people who love them: Some new YA (and YA-adjacent) books, Spring 2016
I am on a significant roll with my YA and adult reading lately. When's the last time you could say that? When's the last time every book you picked up knocked you on your butt and made you holler on Facebook or DM the author or, in once case because I don't have any access to the author - yell at the author's agent about how good the book was? I mean, who knows agents? Apparently, I do. Each and every one of these books deserves a thoughtful in-d...
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Happy International Women's Day to us all: some positive sexuality in pop culture
Not bad - just drawn that way. You hear a lot, in some circles, about how difficult it is to teach children about values in the face of persuasive and abundant media depictions of violence, licentiousness and other bad crap, including sexual violence and predatory behavior toward women that is often dressed up as romance. I'm looking at you, Edward the vampire. What was that character's last name? Crap, now I have to go check. Aaaand I fell down ...
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Somewhere under the radar - Overlooked Books of 2015 - Sometimes we read books, sometimes they're just scenery. Opened my email this morning to find an unu
Sometimes we read books, sometimes they're just scenery. Opened my email this morning to find an unusual year-end list from Kirkus: the Most Overlooked Books of 2015. I like that. That list made me think. Usually this time of year I have no time for thinking. Even as the holiday BS is winding down, I'm usually busy reading hard and arguing loudly as a judge in the Cybils Awards. The Cybils are publicly nominated, with the finalists and winner agr...
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Waking from tormented sleep - Two recent coming of age novels
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Mary Cassatt: Extraordinary Impressionist Painter by Barbara Herkert and Gabi Swiatkowska - review
A picture book biography is more than the product of an author. You could safely say that the responsibility for its appeal is shared by the author, the illustrator, and the subject, especially when the subject is herself an artist. If you think of the recent picture book bio of Anna Pavlova, Swan: The Life and Dance of Anna Pavlova , you quickly realize that some people will pick it up because it's about a marvelous ballerina, some will snatch i...
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Teen lit that talks back to the canon: Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
Yes yes, I know. I am the last children's lit professional on the planet to have read this book. You've all read it, and you've all loved it, and I am late to the Eleanor & Park Party. Oh my god. Think of it -- that would be the funniest party. We'd all have to wear plaid flannel and band t-shirts and stand around looking at the floor until we each stormed out of the room in tears. It would be like the parties at my college radio station in the 8...
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I love the artists - some new great picture books Spring 2016
I know it's hard to write a picture book manuscript. Some of my favorite people do it, and it seems like a labor of love, with the emphasis on the labor. The very economy of the form means that every phrase, sometimes every word will be examined and held up to the light and chipped at like a tiny gem. Page breaks are a factor. Pace. There's space in a picture book - literally - page real estate, that lets you insert beats and pauses. It's probabl...
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#don'tthrowittomo - the 2016 ALA Youth Media Awards - Cheap shot? Maybe. But it's hard to resist a good cheap shot. Here's the story: I was in the auditor
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GIVE IT: All the goodies for this holiday season - I don't want to sell anything, buy anything, or process anything as a career. I don't want to sell a
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GIVE IT: the Hillary Rodham Clinton Presidential Playset - I've been working on a list of great books to give kids this holiday season for the Baltimore Sun. D
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Post-Candy Meltdown picture book roundup - AUTUMN 2015 - Wow, I am finally reclaiming my brain. For about two, maybe three months I have literally not had on
Wow, I am finally reclaiming my brain. For about two, maybe three months I have literally not had one unclaimed hour. Since September, I have co-hosted one conference, facilitated at another, spoken at a third - IN EGYPT - and presented at two events. And written three columns for the Baltimore Sun. You should see my house. But the smoke is clearing and I am getting my feet back under me. Today I finally put away all the Sharpies and Post-Its we ...
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Teen lit that talks back to the canon - Half Bad by Sally Green
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Have them in circles
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Books for teens and children, reviewed. With some swearing.