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Jen Robinson's Book Page - 5 new articles



KidLitCon Registration Deadline Extended by One Week

KidlitCon2014_cubeReposted from the Kidlitosphere Central blog:

We have a fabulous program and an exciting list of attendees for this year’s KidLitCon (being held October 10th and 11th at the Tsakopoulos Library Galleria in Sacramento, CA). The original registration deadline was today. However, we have room for a few more people, and we would love to have YOU among them. Therefore, we have extended the registration deadline by one week, to next Friday, September 26th. Now is your chance! The KidLitCon registration form is here

KidLitCon offers a wonderful opportunity to spend time with kindred spirits, other people who care about children’s books (and in particular this year about increasing diversity in children’s books) the way you do. KidLitCon is a chance to recharge your blogging batteries, and pick up concrete tips for making the most of your children’s and young adult book blogging experience.

Participating in the Cybils this year? Come to KidLitCon and share your excitement? New to blogging? Come to KidLitCon and meet some of the bloggers you’re been following face-to-face. KidLitCon rotates around the country each year. For those of you on the West Coast, this is your chance to attend a (relatively, at least) loval event. Don’t miss it! We hope to see you there! Register here. And any help you can give in spreading the word about KidLitConwould be much appreciated. 

See also: The Cybils Goes to KidLitCon.




Links I Shared on Twitter this Week: September 19

TwitterLinksHere are highlights from the links that I shared on Twitter this week @JensBookPage. Not included here are the many Cybils-related links, particularly when I was live-tweeting the Cybils panelist announcements. I do have links related to books, book lists, national book awards, diversity, growing bookworms, kidlitcon, reading, writing, parenting, literacy programs, literacy research, schools, and libraries. 

Books, Book Lists, and Awards

A Tuesday Ten: Inventors and Scientists Wanted | @TesseractViews #BookList

TUT: The Story of My Immortal Life by @pj_hoover released today. I reviewed it here #kidlit

E is for Esoteric: 2014 Alphabet Books Get Creative — @fuseeight #kidlit

Jean Little Library: RA RA READ: Girls with REAL Powers (mostly psychic) #BookList

Literature on Civil Rights for Younger Readers from @TrevorHCairney #kidlit #BookList

Always interesting; The Newbery / Caldecott 2015: Fall Prediction Edition — @fuseeight #kidlit

10 Funny Books to Read Aloud with kids from @momandkiddo #kidlit

The @nationalbook 2014 Longlist for Young People’s Literature has been announced. @tashrow post: #kidlit

18 Picture Book Biographies About Black Women Who Made History, @ForHarriet via @PWKidsBookshelf


Hispanic American Books for Kids: Link Round Up : @pragmaticmom #diversity #kidlit

we need #diverse (picture) books | a call from Martha V. Parravano @HornBook #kidlit

Chris Barton on A New & #Diversity Bookselling Strategy: @BookPeople Modern First Library | @CynLeitichSmith

Guest post from Garrett Carter @PragmaticMom | A Call for Diverse Children’s Literature #WeNeedDiverseBooks #kidlit

Women Make Picture Books Too: the 2014 edition. @LaurelSnyder is compiling great 2014 PBs illus by women #kidlit

Growing Bookworms

What Should I Read to My Baby? Solid suggestions from @mrskatiefitz at @LibraryAdvent #kidlit

Mommy Librarian's Story Time Secret #4 @mrskatiefitz : Build Up Your Baby Story Time Collection

8 Ways to Use #Poetry to Calm Your Kids and Bring Joy to Your Daily Life @momandkiddo #literacy

Gateway Books -- 6 y/o Benjamin reviews the Magic Tree House series @Everead #GrowingBookworms


KidlitCon2014_cubeColor Me Excited--It's Cybils (+ #kidlitcon ) Season Again! says @aquafortis #kidlit

Hey there, #KidLitCon14 attendees, are you all following each other on Twitter? Here's the list:

Just added names to list of Registered Attendees for #KidLitCon14 | Registration deadline is Friday! Don't miss it!

Why you'd like to come to #Kidlitcon 2014 if you're a fan of MG/YA speculative fiction from @charlotteslib #kidlit

On Reading, Writing, and Publishing

On the Power of the Reread @abbylibrarian | "The reread allows you to pick up on the many layers of a story..."

Read slowly (+ read more) to benefit your brain and cut stress. Slow reading movement profiled in @WSJ

The problem with the neutral love interest. On not needing to be able to "fall in love" as a reader from @haleshannon

In Defense of “Real” Realism in #Kidlit (w/ mention of Ramona Quimby) by Emma Barnes @AwfullyBigBlog @CynLeitichSmith

Kids Actually Read the Books That Movies Are Based On reports @TheAtlantic via @PWKidsBookshelf 


Steve Jobs Was a Low-Tech Parent | @NYTimes piece on techie parents limiting kids' gadget time via @ReadByExample

Discussing the Power of Play at the @CBCBook Annual Meeting, report in @PublishersWkly 

Events, Programs and Research

ReadAloudWebBadgeA National Effort to Read to Kids 15 Minutes a Day Needs Our Support | Lisa G. Kropp in @sljournal @ReadAloud_org

Why Everyone Should Read Harry Potter (improved empathy for other social groups) @SciAm via @charlotteslib

Today is International Dot Day. See what @MrSchuReads is doing to celebrate: #kidlit

A Picture Book Review for National #Library Card Month @SproutsBkshelf | Books Always Everywhere by Jane Blatt

Schools and Libraries

"instead of automatically turning to the canon ... let’s ... find stories that will speak to our children." @HornBook

Have You Tried Making #CommonCore Lemonade? | Teacher Amber Chandler discusses pros + cons @middleweb @ReadByExample

Harold O. Levy in @WSJ : Big Data analysis provides insight into school performance, esp. re. truancy

Literate Lives: Thoughts on providing Choice in students' #SummerReading fro @karenterlecky

Press Release Fun from @FuseEight | A $5,000 Award for School #Libraries

© 2014 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook.



The Case of the Stolen Sixpence (Maisie Hitchins): Holly Webb & Marion Lindsay

Book: The Case of the Stolen Sixpence (Maisie Hitchins, Book 1) (iBooks link)
Author: Holly Webb
Illustrator: Marion Lindsay
Pages: 176
Age Range: 7-10

The Case of the Stolen Sixpence is the first book in a fun new mystery series by Holly Webb, author of the Rose series. The Maisie Hitchins series is aimed at readers who are past early readers, but not quite ready for middle grade novels. The lines are widely spaced, the chapters are fairly short, and there are black and white illustrations by Marion Lindsay every few pages. I believe that this title would fall happily into the Early Chapter Books category for the Cybils awards.

Maisie Hitchins is an engaging protagonist. She lives in Victorian London with her Gran, who runs a highly respectable boarding house. Maisie helps out by running errands. But her passion is solving crimes. She is fascinated by "the famous detective Gilbert Carrington", and imagines herself "following footprints, spotting clues, trailing culprits..." Soon enough, by paying close attention to everything around her, she finds herself with a couple of mysteries to solve. She seeks to learn who tried to drown a poor puppy by tying it up in a bag, and, more importantly, to clear the name of a delivery boy who was (she believes) falsely accused of theft. 

Maisie is assisted in her efforts by a friend from the neighborhood (a bit of a stealth friend, as Alice is of a higher social class), her new puppy, and a couple of the lodgers in the boarding house (one of whom is in the theater, and can help with disguises). Her Gran is harried and stern but kind underneath, and the delivery boy is realistically prickly.

Despite the design of The Case of the Stolen Sixpence, there is some relatively advanced vocabulary. Like this:

"Maisie had to make sure she wasn't around when Miss Sidebotham came to collect Alice, though. She wouldn't have thought that landlady's granddaughter was a suitable friend for her dear little Alice. Plus Maisie couldn't help sniggering whenever the governess's name was mentioned. It sounded exactly like Sidebottom, and Miss Sidebotham's rear end was rather enormous." (Page 21)

I wouldn't expect the average 8 year old to recognize "sniggered", but I think it's a great word to learn!

Marion Lindsay's illustrations feature wide-eyed, round-headed characters in old-fashioned clothing. The people aren't quite realistic (with a hint of the cartoon to them), but they are friendly, and make the book more accessible. For kids new to reading about Victorian England, they quietly introduce cobblestones, and the appearance of horse-drawn carriages. 

Book 2 of this series, The Case of the Vanishing Emerald, will be out in 2015. This is a series that libraries will definitely want to stock - perfect bridge books for kids between The Magic Treehouse series and Nancy Springer's Enola Holmes books. And although the main character is a girl (shown in a purple dress on the cover), there is no reason at all why boys couldn't enjoy the amusing adventures of Maisie Hitchins. 

Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers (@HMHBooks)
Publication Date: September 2, 2014
Source of Book: Review copy from the publisher

© 2014 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook. This site is an Amazon and iBooks affiliate, and purchases made through affiliate links (including linked book covers) may result in my receiving a small commission (at no additional cost to you).



Zac and Mia: A J. Betts

Book: Zac and Mia (iBooks link)
Author: A. J. Betts
Pages: 292
Age Range: 12 and up 

Zac and Mia by A.J. Betts is, yes, another young adult novel about two kids with cancer who become involved with one another. But it's quite distinct from The Fault in Our Stars, from characters to setting (Australia). Zac and Mia begins with a first-person section from Zac's viewpoint. Zac is in isolation in a hospital in Perth recovering from a bone marrow transplant. Zac is 17 and is in an adult ward. As the story begins he is feeling pretty good, and is getting bored. He is intrigued when he glimpses and hears a new patient in the room next door, a girl of about his age. Mia is in and out, having chemotherapy for a cancer in her leg. The two teens connect by tapping on their shared hospital wall, and eventually on Facebook. In later sections of the book, the reader also gets to hear Mia's first-person viewpoint. 

Zac and Mia are kids who would never have met under ordinary circumstances. Zac lives on an olive farm five hours out of the city. Until becoming ill, he played sports, and helped out on the farm. He is close to his family, particularly his pregnant older sister, Bec. Mia, on the other hand, lives in Perth with her young single mother. She was, until her illness, a popular party girl, attending beauty school part time. She is not at all adjusted to having cancer. She hides her cancer from her friends, and fights bitterly with her mother and boyfriend. Despite their differences, the thing that Mia and Zac having in common, cancer, ties them together.

I thought that Betts did a fine job of developing both Zac and Mia's characters. Their different strengths allow them to help one another in ways that are not immediately obvious. They both change over the course of the book, too, in response to both each other and their clinical diagnoses. Zac is more likable, I think. He's a teen boy, with a thing for Emma Watson, and keen sense of observation. He maintains a sense of humor about his situation. Here are a couple of snippets.

"Mum's not a four-wall kind of woman. As long as I can remember, she's always had a straw hate and a sheen of sweat. She's hazel eyes and sun spots. She's greens and browns and oranges. She's a pair of pruning shears in hand hand. She's soil and pumpkins. She'd rather be picking pears or fertilizing olive trees than stuck in this room, with its pink reclining chair. More than anything, she's my dad's soul mate, though she won't go home when I ask her--even when I beg her." (Page 20)

"The marrow's German--the doctors were allowed to tell me that much. I've had German marrow for fourteen days, and though I'm not yet craving pretzels or beer or lederhosen, it doesn't mean I'm not changed in other ways... " (Page 29)

"According to the bathroom mirror, I have no neck. Is it possible my German donor was, in fact, Augustus Gloop? Or has all the ice cream I've been eating gone straight to my chin?" (Page 32)

Then there's a lovely passage in which he says that he's not brave, which I think says everything that needs to be said about him. But you can read the book to find it. I didn't flag as many passages from Mia, but she did grow on me as the story progressed. 

The Australian setting is different enough to pique the interest of US readers, without really feeling all that different at all. The hospital scenes are fairly universal, but Zac's family farm is full of "roos" and alpaca. There are some different food brands mentioned, but communication still takes place via text and Facebook, just as it does (or did until recently, anyway) here. 

All in all, I found Zac and Mia to be an engaging relationship drama about two strong characters. Their cancer drives the plot, but Zac and Mia is about much more than illness. There is some language and sexual references, making this more of a high school book than a middle school book, I think. Recommended for library purchase, or for anyone who enjoys realistic young adult fiction.

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (@HMHBooks)
Publication Date: September 2, 2014
Source of Book: Review copy from the publisher

© 2014 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook. This site is an Amazon and iBooks affiliate, and purchases made through affiliate links (including linked book covers) may result in my receiving a small commission (at no additional cost to you).



Cybils and KidLitCon Updates

It's time once again for an update on what's going with the 2014 Cybils Awards and the 8th Annual KidLitCon


The Cybils organizers are all in place. You can see links to their profiles below. You can follow the Cybils organizers on Twitter via this handy list

The application period to be a judge for the 2014 Cybils Awards has closed. The panelist announcements will be coming soon, after a slight delay due to circumstances beyond our control. If you applied to be a Cybils judge and are waiting to here, please be patient. We'll share the panels just as soon as we possibly can. 

Nominations will still be opening on October 1st. It is definitely not too early to start thinking about what you feel are the most well-written, kid-friendly titles in each of the various categories. To see lists of finalists from previous years, visit the Cybils website, and follow the links in the upper right-hand sidebar. 

Here are our recent Twitter links: 

Meet the #Cybils Organizers: Stephanie Charlefour @scharle4 | Young Adult #Nonfiction | 

Meet the #Cybils Organizers: Jackie Parker @interactiver | Young Adult Fiction | #yalit 

Meet the #Cybils Organizers: Karen Yingling @MsYingling | Middle Grade Fiction |  #kidlit

Meet the #Cybils Organizers: Liz Jones @LizJonesBooks | Graphics  #kidlit

Meet the #Cybils Organizers: Pam Coughlan @MotherReader | Fiction Picture Books  #kidlit

Meet the #Cybils Organizers: Charlotte Taylor @charlotteslib | Elementary + Middle Grade Speculative Fiction  #kidlit

Meet the #Cybils Organizers: Jennifer Wharton, Elementary/Middle Grade #Nonfiction  #kidlit

Meet the #Cybils Organizers Katie Fitzgerald @mrskatiefitz | Easy Readers/Beginning Chapter books  #kidlit

Meet the #Cybils Organizers: Cathy Potter @cppotter | Chairing Book Apps  #BookApps


The Kidlitosphere Conference starts four weeks from today (October 10-11 in Sacramento, CA). Have you registered? You can find a partial list of registered KidLitCon attendees on the Kidlitosphere blog, and you can also follow the KidLitCon14 Twitter list. The KidLitCon Program has been updated slightly, and is looking great. 

Here are a couple of KidLitCon-related tweets from the past week: 

Do you guys realize that #KidLitCon14 is one month from today? Get those registrations in soon!  #kidlit #diversity

The Official @SCBWI Blog: #KidLitCon 2014 Focuses On #Diversity, writes @leewind 

And that's the scoop. I hope to see you at KidLitCon, and I hope that you'll considering nominating books for the Cybils. Not one but two chances to participate in the larger children's book blogging community! Have a great weekend, everyone!