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Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Donny's... I mean, ERICA's ALA Antics

Want to know what I did at the American Library Association annual conference and what it has to do with Donny Osmond dressed as Joseph?

Go to Pajamazon and see for yourself!

Friday, June 22, 2007

Build Me Up, Buttercup

To read about my dinner with David Macauley (okay, and a few other people... though we did sit at the same table!) at the National Building Museum, go to Pajamazon.

Right now, no dawdling.

Thank you!

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Librarians Rock!

Please visit me at Pajamazon! to see my tribute to librarians that rock (in more ways than one).

And please tell your favorite librarian (or teacher or media specialist) to come visit me in person at the American Library Association's Annual Conference in Washington, DC.

At the ALA conference, I will be signing books at the Abrams booth (#1700) on Saturday, June 23 from 9:00 - 10:00 a.m. I'll also have free classroom and activity guides, bookmarks and a squirrel on my head (see photo, previous post).

Rock on!

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Attention ALA Early Birds!

As you may have read on Pajamazon:

This coming Saturday (June 23, 2007) I will be attending the American Library Association's Annual Conference in Washington, DC and I will be signing books at the ABRAMS booth (”A-brams, beautiful A-brams, wonderful A-brams, I love you SO!” See? It does work to the Star Wars theme!), which is # 1700, from 9:00 - 10:00 a.m. If you happen to swing by Starbucks first, I prefer dark roast coffee, milk, no sugar. Kidding! I mean, yes, that is my brew of choice, but I will be fully caffeinated so just bring yourself.

If you are coming to the conference it is is worth arriving early, not just because you’ll get to pick up one of my books and have me personally sign it. There’s all sorts of good swag available and the best stuff goes fast (I’m particularly fond of my TIME FOR NEW UNDERPANTS tote bag from last year’s BEA). In addition to books, I will have copies of the excellent NINETY-THREE IN MY FAMILY classroom and storytime activity guide (a big hit with librarians and teachers, I’ll have you know) and some really cute new bookmarks if the printer fulfills its promises. Good printer, nice printer.

So come on by and say hi! I won’t bite and neither will the squirrel on my head. He is a stuffie, as my kids would be quick to inform you, so he’s safe.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

I Want My Pajamazon!

Today I am posting my blog entry on Pajamazon and not here (since Offsprung launched and I started writing Pajamazon, I have been double-posting, which seems likely to win me a lovely case of carpal tunnel syndrome). It is a fun entry about a great book I just read: A CROOKED KIND OF PERFECT, by Linda Urban (who should be named Linda Rural, since she lives in Vermont... and I am allowed to make that joke because I grew up in Vermont). Check it out here.

Also, check out the rest of Offsprung. There are some great columns (I particularly like Huxtabled, the tv column, and Zooglobble, the music column, plus I love The Cleaver and Meconium and everything Neal writes... you just can't go wrong on our site!) and a new chatting feature called The Playground which seems very cool and has the excellent slogan "Use Your Words." And if you like Pajamazon, which is my children's books column, tell your friends and bookmark it and add it to your feed reader of choice and send me comments and all that good stuff.

OK, so get yer Pajamazon and I'll see you there!

Monday, June 11, 2007

Brits Get There First, Again!

No word yet on who will be the U.S.A.’s first “children’s literature ambassador” but the U.K. has just named its fifth children’s laureate: Michael Rosen, author of Michael Rosen’s Sad Book, a rare picture book willing to explore and embrace the darker side of children’s emotional range, among other titles.

Rosen was appointed to the post at a ceremony in London this morning. Rosen received a £10,000 (about $20,000) stipend for the post, which he holds for the next two years.

Following illustrator Quentin Blake and authors Anne Fine, Michael Morpurgo and the current children’s laureate, Jacqueline Wilson, Rosen is the first poet to become children’s laureate. Rosen has set his mission as children’s laureate to make poetry as accessible as possible. “I think poetry for children needs to be saved from the cold dissection table of right and wrong answers and put back into rooms and halls full of wonder, compassion, haunting, laughter, music and rhythm,” said Rosen.

Rosen first poetry collection, Mind Your Own Business, was published in 1974, and he has since published more than 140 books including poetry, picture books and nonfiction; his next is a biography of Roald Dahl. His classic picture book We’re Going on a Bear Hunt, illustrated by Helen Oxenbury, won the Nestle Smarties Grand Prize (now there’s an award I’d love to win - yum! plus dig the double ententre in winning The Smartie Prize!) in 1989. In addition to his writing, Rosen is well-known for his work as a live performer, broadcaster, teacher and critic. He is a familiar radio voice in the U.K., where he regularly hosts BBC radio programs.

Apparently, we’ll finally get our own American version of the children’s laureate in January, 2008. Not that we’ll be able to catch up with those cheeky Brits, who will forever be five (and a half!) appointments ahead of us.

Still, this one is very deserved, so heartiest congratulations to Rosen.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Likes: Eating Dirt, Selling Books

This just in. Charlesbridge publishing has created a myspace page AND a youtube video for its two new picture book characters, Wiggle and Waggle.
Which many well be a first for fictional earthworms (please let me know if I’m wrong about this). According to the book’s promotional copy, these two “wormy best friends” like to dig in the dirt and “have fun swimming and singing.” Apparently, “beginning readers will dig the simple science facts” in the book.
Get it? DIG? They’re worms? Wow, that kind of joke is going to win lots of friends at myspace.
Sorry for the sarcasm. My emotions are somewhere between “now there’s a prime example of marketing going way beyond the bounds of sense” and “geez, I wish I’d thought to do that for my picture books!”
Meanwhile, I couldn’t seem to get the video to work. I called in my seven year old for a tech consult and while she was able to make my computer play several Hannah Montana youtube snippets, Wiggle and Waggle’s screen remained dark.
Unless that is how it is supposed to look. I mean, they do live underground.
Anyway, I’m going to post the clip on pajamazon (my blog away from blog). Please let me know if you get it to play (and, if so, if it is any good).

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Take a Number, David Copperfield.

Sometimes, the classics just have to wait.

Or so says Barnes and Noble, which shoved Dickens and Dostoevsky aside last night to make room for a new classic: my friend Jennifer Oko's "sleek, sly and irresistibly dishy" new novel, GLOSS. This was a photo op I could not resist: the tower of GLOSS threatening to topple and crash all over the cornerstones of Western Literature.

Plus it was the first time I'd attended an event there that did not involve BYOSC (bring your own sippy cup). It was sort of an "On the Internet, nobody knows you're a dog" moment. In Barnes and Noble at a book reading held after dark, nobody knows you're a mom. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

Even more embarrassing for the masters (the shame, the shame), their books languished with their "Buy Two Get One Free" promo stickers whereas GLOSS was flying off the shelf at full retail price.

Of course, none of the masters were alive (much less living in the greater Washington area) to give book readings, which tend to lead to spikes in sales. But that's not really the point. For the moment... and it was just a moment, for as Jen signed her last book the GLOSS display was moved away from the classics... Jen was able to be the embodiment of the new literary guard. Alive, radiant, bursting with energy and new life (she's about to have a baby any second now), wielding a feisty, witty pen and taking no prisoners!

I'd like to think that the masters, many of whom were rebels of their own times, would have been proud.
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Monday, June 04, 2007

Top Ten Things I Learned at BEA 2007

Despite the fact that I said I wasn't going to go this year (and despite the fact that, as a result of that statement, my publisher did not arrange any book signings), I went to Book Expo America, otherwise known as BEA, last weekend.

BEA took place in NY this year, at the Javitz Center. I had not been to the Javitz Center since I took the NY Bar Exam in it some ten or more (okay, more) years ago. Walking in the door brought a rush of bar exam flashbacks - I have to go to the bathroom but I don't have tiiiiiimmmmmeee! - but I quickly quashed them (see, there's a bit of residual legalese) and strode deeper into Javitz's bowels.

I was only at BEA for 24 hours this year, but I learned many things that I figured my readers might enjoy knowing. So, here you go. Don't say I never gave you anything.

1) There's no such thing as a free book. Okay, that's not actually true: at BEA, like all book conferences, there are LOTS of free books. And candy and bookmarks and tote bags... BUT you have to carry it all, which is where you pay the price. My shoulders are now killing me, which suggests that being your own sherpa is perhaps not that wise. Hey, wait, that sounds like something else I learned...

2) Being your own sherpa is not wise. If you attend a book conference, bring one big bag (I highly recommend the gi-cundo tote I got from IKEA) and stop picking up free books when - or ideally, before - you lose feeling in your fingers.

3) If you don't already have a My Space page, it is too late. Apparently, all good writers have them already, so if you get one now you are not only coming to the party late, you are admitting to the highly attuned other My Spacers that you are a total poseur who is only jumping on the My Space bandwagon because some panel at BEA told you to (wait, let me understand this... did a panel on My Space just tell me why My Space is preemptively rejecting me?).

4) But, haha, you may just get the last laugh. Um, My Space? It just dawned on me that if there's a BEA panel about you, you may have officially jumped the shark. Which means that I just have to figure out what not-yet-invented website will be the trendsetting thang when my young adult novel comes out in early 2009.

5) No matter how much you read, it is not enough. Chagrined though I am to admit it, I now have to go back and read some of the books that came before the books I just picked up, like Grace Lin's Year of the Dog (Year of the Rat) and Charise Mericle Harper's Just Grace (Still Just Grace). Thank goodness I already read Jerry Spinelli's Stargirl (Love, Stargirl) and Judy Blume's The Pain and The Great One (Soupy Saturdays with The Pain and The Great One) or I would feel completely out of the loop.

6) Impatient though you might be with wordless books, the truly great ones are sublime. I am speaking of Sarah Varon's Robot Dreams. I cannot say enough about this amazing nearly wordless graphic novel. It is so funny, so perfect, so hauntingly sweet, it pains me. And I applaud Neal Porter for publishing it, as it is a book that so many publishers would just plain not get or not see the commercial point of.

7) $3.00 for water is highway robbery, no matter how you slice it.

8) Even if Markus Zusak wasn't so durned cute, he'd probably sell a couple zillion books. I'm apparently the last person on earth to read The Book Thief (Alison Morris recommended it to me over a year ago, mea culpa, Alison!) and so my expectations are quite unrealistic but even so it is off to a pretty good start.

9) Ditto Watt Key. Boys, if you want to impress the ladies but you don't have an Australian accent, try an Alabama one.

10) The best thing about book conferences is not books. Not even free books. It is book people, real book people. Call me a big sap, but I gotta say: all this shmoozing and awarding and book-plugging is fun, but the best moment was when James Howe accepted his E.B. White Award and talked about the simple joy of writing to a room full of people who nodded because they knew exactly what he was talking about. Which made all the craziness of needing to sell, sell, sell and put up pages on random websites in the hopes of "meeting" "friends" who might "buy" your book and all those hallmarks of the digital age. Made me just want to run home and get a, what are those things called? Oh, right, a pen. And take it and start writing.

Which I will do.


Just as soon as I finish typing this blog entry.

Oh, hey, before I forget, the Boston Globe-Horn Book Awards were just announced. Congrats to my pal Tobin (M.T. Anderson), whose novel Octavian Nothing took home an award (to add to its pile, notwithstanding the fact that many-including the author himself-aren't entirely convinced that this should be categorized as a "kids" rather than an adult book).

Although, as John Green stated this past weekend in his NYT Review of Laurie Halse Anderson (no relation to M.T. Anderson)'s new young adult novel, Twisted: So, no, this is not a book for children. Of course it isn’t. These days, hardly any worthwhile book on the young adult shelves is.

And another thing: go to pajamazon (my blog on offsprung.com) and check out my new banner. Cool, huh?

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