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Jen Robinson's Book Page - 5 new articles



Links I Shared on Twitter this Week: October 24

TwitterLinksHere are highlights from the links that I shared on Twitter this week @JensBookPage. There are a ton of links this week on topics including: book lists, book awards, recent controversies, diversity, growing bookworms, events, cybils, kidlitcon, kidlitosphere, reading, pubishing, social media, and libraries. 

Book Lists and Awards

10 Great New Non-Fiction Books for Younger Readers selected by @TrevorHCairney #kidlit

It’s Time to Come Inside! 10 Cozy Picture Book Companions as winter approaches by @epan11 @NerdyBookClub #kidlit

Meet the 2014 Teens' Top Ten titles from @yalsa @bkshelvesofdoom #yalit

Stacked: (Mostly) YA book suggestions from @kimberlymarief for various October themes (American Cheese Month, etc.)

A welcome mini-trend highlighted @HornBook | Grrrl power grrraphic novels (memoirs or w/ similar feel)

Some Favorite New Books for 3rd Grade Transitional Readers, selected by @frankisibberson #kidlit

Story Time Secrets: 8 Funny Middle School Series for Boys selected by @mrskatiefitz #kidlit

Sleuths, Spies + Alibis: Calling All Junior Secret Agents: Resources for Budding Spies + Detectives by F.T. Bradley

(Many) Nominations for 2015 CILIP Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Medals | @tashrow #kidlit

12+ Classic Books for Tweens selected by @momandkiddo (all more than fine for middle grade) #kidlit

Creepy short stories: mysteries & thrillers for ages 10-13, 4 collections recommended by @MaryAnnScheuer #kidlit

10 Awesome Middle Grade/YA Families from @Book_Nut #kidlit

The Need for Big Books: A Top “Ten” List for (mostly) boys who crave longer books by @stephaseverson @NerdyBookClub

A Tuesday Ten: Twins! in speculative #kidlit from @TesseractViews

7 Books That Will Get Young Boys Readingby @bobshea + Lane Smith in @HuffPostBooks via @tashrow


Afternoon links: Amazon Vine as the wild, wild west. As always, @bkshelvesofdoom tracks down the scoop

I'm with @gail_gauthier in her response to the @NewYorker piece "The Percy Jackson Problem". Read what you like!

Yes, I Am Afraid, says @LizB on putting one's name and face out publicly in the blogging world, and Kathleen Hale

Morning links: The author-as-stalker edition, @bkshelvesofdoom rounds up links on Kathleen Hale stalking a reviewer

Morning links: The author-as-stalker edition, part two from @bkshelvesofdoom (w/ Twitter extract)

The Consequences of Stalking: Why So Many Took a Stand Against the Author-Stalker | @bethrevis via @kidsilkhaze

Dear Author, Whose Book I Read and May Have Negatively Reviewed, Your Anger Will Not Silence Me says Tanita Davis


Read along with @Everead and others in the Armchair #Cybils #kidlit

Today's featured #Cybils Review: Gabriel Finley and the Raven’s Riddle by George Hagen, reviewed by @LogCabinLibrary

Another #Cybils featured review: Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson reviewed by Jennifer from Reederama

Our first Featured Blogger at #Cybils is Amy at Hope Is the Word, nominated by @semicolonblog #kidlit

Today's #Cybils Review is Colors of the Wind by @jlpowers, reviewed by @StackingBks


Science Fiction & Fantasy: How Multicultural Is Your Multiverse? asks Dionne Obeso in @PublishersWkly #diversity

WNDBLogoWNDB Diversity Organization Announces New Initiatives reports @PublishersWkly #WeNeedDiverseBooks

'PW' Panel Warns Industry, Lack of #Diversity Threatens Publishing @PublishersWkly

@WeNeedDiverseBooks and @sljournal Announce Collaboration #kidlit #yalit

A #WeNeedDiverseBooks post from @MsYingling on the particular lack of male writers for color in #kidlit

Why is today's teen fiction not as #diverse as it could be? | @GuardianBooks via @PWKidsBookshelf

#WeNeedDiverseBooks: Realistic fiction with diverse protagonists | @sljournal Spotlight

Why We Need #Diverse Book Reviewers + Bloggers: @dos_twinjas List of Black Book Bloggers Who Review Diverse Spec Fic

South Asian YA: 5 Titles to Read from SWAPNA KRISHNA @bookriot via @catagator #diversity

New categorized listing of links on Where To Find #Diverse Books from #WeNeedDiverseBooks via @FuseEight

Where are all the disabled characters in children's books? | Megan Quibell in @GuardianBooks #diversity

#WeNeedDiverseBooks Group Announces Walter Dean Myers Award and Grants #diversity via @PWKidsBookshelf

Events, Programs and Research

The 9th Annual Carle Honors event 2014 as reported by @fuseeight #kidlit

Guys Lit Wire: Celebrating Ballou High School's library dynamo, Melissa Jackson, by @chasingray

.@TaylorSwift13 & @Scholastic team up to show how reading + writing can help kids be more resilient – #SharePossible

Growing Bookworms

SoupWays that reading aloud feeds your child's brain from @BooksBabiesBows @ReadAloud_org #literacy

Story Time Secrets: Early #Literacy in Everyday Places: The Park from @mrskatiefitz

"Reading isn’t just taught. It’s passed on, like a treasure from one reader to the next" @donalynbooks @NerdyBookClub

How do I get my child to read? Thoughts from @iShrutiKohli (including not forcing the issue)

How to Raise a Nerdy Book Lover, why you should read to your baby in utero from @belly_books @NerdyBookClub

Is E-Reading to Your Toddler Story Time, or Simply Screen Time? @NYTimes via @PWKidsBookshelf


#KidLitCon 2014: Further Thoughts (and Sketches) from @aquafortis

What type of blogger are you? A snazzy infographic from @shgmclicious #KidLitCon presentation #diversity

KidlitCon2014_cubeThoughts on #KidLitCon Day 1- Theme #DIVERSITY @afrocubansista @dos_twinjas

Thoughts from Tanita Davis on the #kidlitcon 2014: notepad forum: cultural appropriation, part a

Thoughts from Tanita Davis on the #KidlitCon 2014: Notepad Forum, Part b ~ The Weekend Word: "Cultural Appropriation"

A few more links to #KidLitCon roundups added here (near the bottom of the post): #diversity

New webcast: Announcing the Debut of Fuse #8 TV — @fuseeight @sljournal #kidlit

Jennifer at Jean Little Library will collecting links to reviews of scary children's books all month long #kidlit


Secret Codes and Language Games for Kids from @BookChook

Fun from @RIFWEB | Picture book-inspired Halloween costumes for kids #kidlit

On Reading, Writing, and Publishing

I Feel Smart: On Wordless Picture Books and Perception — @100scopenotes #kidlit

A Not-So-Young Audience for Young Adult Books, balanced piece by Meg Wolitzer in @NYTimes via @PWKidsBookshelf

"Does meeting a book creator make you appreciate... work more? What does it do to your critical abilities?" @HornBook

Read whatever the hell you want: why we need a new way of talking about young adult literature @ElizabethMinkel

Thoughts on #kidlit nonfiction, that incendiary @NYTimes article, and “dumbing down” by @shgmclicious

Schools andLibraries

Recommendation from @chasingray for The Public Library, a book/photo essay about libraries

Neat! With Funding From Friends Group San Antonio Public Library Installs Digital Book Kiosks at SAT Airport

Would you rather have $50,000 or $25,000? @ReadingShanahan Explains the impact of full-day kindergarten

Social Media / Online

When Your PLN Fails You (and What You Can Do About It) | Concrete suggestions from @ReadByExampleh ttp://

New @PewResearch Report Finds Young Women (especially) Targeted for Online Harassment | @sljournal

Good advice from @catagator | 7 Steps to Protect Your Privacy As A Blogger (Or As A Person On The Internet, Period)

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



Bad Dog Flash: Ruth Paul

Book: Bad Dog Flash
Author: Ruth Paul
Pages: 32
Age Range: 2-6

Bad Dog Flash is a picture book aimed at toddlers and preschoolers, about the antics of a puppy named Flash. Each pair of page spreads follows Flash getting into some sort of mischief, concluding with a pronouncement from the grown-ups of: "Bad dog, Flash." Only at the end of the book, when a little girl holds Flash, is puppy-like behavior greeted with "Good dog, Flash." 

Paul's minimal, lightly rhyming text makes this book accessible to the youngest of listeners. Bad Dog Flash could also be used as a very early reader. Here's an example, spread across four pages:

"Still cat,
dull cat.

Fast cat, 
fun cat.

Run cat!

Bad dog, Flash."

The fact that each incident is going to end with "Bad dog, Flash" is clear early on. My four-year-old enjoyed chiming in with that part, starting on our first read-through of the book. This predictability should help keep younger children engaged in the story. I think that preschoolers will also be able to relate to Flash, whose enthusiasm and energy get him into unwitting trouble. 

Flash's expressions are those of a hapless toddler, too, in Paul's warm illustrations. When he's caught digging up the garden, you can practically hear "Ooops. This wasn't a good idea" as he looks up at a wagging adult figure. The adults are always shown from the neck down (or lower), keeping the focus on Flash and his actions. Only the child owner, shown near the end of the book, has a face (a smiling, loving face). The backgrounds that Paul uses on most of the page spreads are minimalist, and this again serves to keep the focus on Flash. 

Parental warning: Flash is cute enough to entice young listeners into wanting a dog of their own. The cover is quite engaging, too, showing Flash chewing on the three-dimensional letters of the title. 

Bad Dog Flash focuses on kid-appealing mischief, with just a hint of sentiment at the end. This makes it a perfect fit for preschoolers, especially those who love dogs. Recommended for home or storytime use. 

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky (@Sourcebooks)
Publication Date: October 7, 2014
Source of Book: Advance 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).



Growing Bookworms Newsletter: October 22

JRBPlogo-smallToday I will be sending out a new issue of the Growing Bookworms email newsletter. (If you would like to subscribe, you can find a sign-up form here.) The Growing Bookworms newsletter contains content from my blog focused on children's and young adult books and raising readers. I currently send the newsletter out every two weeks.

Newsletter Update: In this issue I have eight book reviews (picture book through young adult), two posts with links that I shared on Twitter recently, and one post describing a recent literacy milestone by my daughter. Not included in the newsletter, I also shared one final post of the year about KidLitCon

Reading Update: In the last two weeks I only completed two books, both audiobooks, on middle grade and one young adult. I listened to:

I'm still reading the third book of Maggie Stiefvater's Raven Cycle: Blue Lily, Lily Blue. I'm enjoying it, but my reading time has been very limited, and it is fairly slow-paced and I keep falling asleep when I read it before bed. I also started Rick Yancey's The Infinite Sea on my Kindle, but I'm trying to restict reading that to times when the Kindle is all that I have available. I'm listening to Her Royal Spyness by Rhys Bowen. The narrator, Katherine Kellgren, is also the narrator for the Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place books, which occasionally pulls me out of the story. Does that ever happen to you?

As always, you can see the list of books that we've been reading to Baby Bookworm here. She is starting to learn sight words at school, and enjoys sounding out or recognizing the occasional word when I read aloud to her. She's also chiming in more with memorized passages from books, even books that I didn't realize she knew all that well.

She continues to want, want, want more books all the time. Last night we read Here Comes the Easter Cat by Deborah Underwood and Claudia Rueda. At the end of the book there is a pretty clear hint to what the next book in this series is going to be. She immediately started begging me to buy that one. But I think what I'm enjoying most is watching her sense of humor develop, as she finds more and more things in books funny. 

What are you and your family reading these days? Thanks for reading the newsletter, and for growing bookworms. 

© 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



H2O: Virginia Bergin

Book: H2O
Author: Virginia Bergin
Pages: 336
Age Range: 12 and up

Virginia Bergin's H2O is a young adult novel about an apocalypse that occurs when rain turns deadly, leaving only 0.27% of the population alive. I have mixed feelings about this book. I found the first-person narrator, Ruby, off-putting, and her chatty narrative style (with many diversions) annoying. And yet ... I couldn't put the book down, and consumed it in record time. 

The plot of H2O carries echoes of various other apocalyptic survival stories (the loss of the immediate family, the quest to find a lost relative, the teaming up with someone who one would never have teamed up with before, the presence of authority figures of questionable intent, the shopping in empty stores and scrabbling for food, etc.). There's a reason these elements are found in so many apocalyptic stories - they are compelling, and keep readers turning the pages. 

But I think that what hooked me with H2O was the sheer menace of the premise. Imagine if a single drop of rain could kill you. Imagine that the tap water, not to mention lakes and swimming pools, is corrupted. You would learn, as Ruby does, to be an expert at watching cloud formations. But eventually, someone, somewhere would have to figure out a longer term solution. Wouldn't they? There's only so much bottled water out there, after all...  So, H2O made me think, and Ruby's near constant peril kept me turning the (virtual) pages. 

Here are a couple of sample quotes, to give you a feel for Ruby's voice:

"I was sitting in a hot tub in my underwear kissing Caspar McCloud. Ha! That also sounds like a great beginning, maybe from some kind of kiss-fest romance, or maybe Caspar would turn out to be a sexy vampire." (Chapter One)

"All those people's lives--on the coffee table, in one long, neat row. People (like Simon) go on about people (like me) and not being able to be apart from their cell phones. They're missing the point; it's not the cell phone--it's the life that's in it you don't want to be apart from...even when they don't work anymore." (Chapter Twelve)

""Bye!" I shouted, which I thought was very charitable of me, considering. Charitable and also a further sign of how serious the situation was: girls like me don't even acknowledge the existence of boys like Darius Spratt. It's a basic law of nature." (Chapter Fourteen)

That last quote gives you a bit of insight into Ruby's character. She's run into a boy from school who is a bit of a nerd, and she just can't let go of their social differences. In the middle of an apocalypse. She's vain (constantly looking for makeup and cool clothes, in the middle of her travels) and selfish. Now, the target audience of actual teen readers might be able to relate to Ruby better than I did, of course. And she does try to do the right thing here and there, and improves over time. But overall, Ruby's voice didn't work well for me. 

And yet, on another level, it did work for me. I could picture, and practically smell, Ruby's surroundings. She does not shrink from talking about things, even disgusting or embarrassing things. She reveals her flaws and her insecurities. She is loud and out there and alive. I was impatient with her digressions because I wanted her to get on with the story. I wanted to know what would happen next. I was invested.

So, if you like apocalyptic survival stories - ones that tell you exactly what someone was going through during and immediately after the disaster, H2O is one to check out. It has many of what have become conventions of the genre, and the narrator is (in what may be a refreshing change for some), not particularly heroic. But the premise is compelling and downright creepy. I don't think I'll ever look at rainclouds the same way again. 

PS: Tanita Davis has a much more comprehensive review than mine at Finding Wonderland. 

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire 
Publication Date: October 7, 2014
Source of Book: Advance 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).



The Right Word: Roget and His Thesaurus: Jen Bryant & Melissa Sweet

Book: The Right Word: Roget and His Thesaurus
Author: Jen Bryant
Illustrator: Melissa Sweet
Pages: 42
Age Range: 7 and up

The Right Word: Roget and His Thesaurus is a picture book biography written by Jen Bryant and illustrated by Melissa Sweet. The publisher lists it for ages 7 and up, which seems about right to me. It's quite dense, and full of lists and historical tidbits that make it likely over the heads of younger readers. But for elementary age kids, and adults for that matter, particularly those who appreciate words and lists, The Right Word is simply a delight.

This book made me smile, and it made me want to go out and get an old copy of Roget's thesaurus, from back before it was even arranged alphabetically. It enabled me to picture the young Peter Roget, a lonely, bright boy who always loved lists. The Right Word made me feel like I knew him. And that is a successful biography. 

The Right Word describes Peter's life, from early childhood through his publication, late in life, of his Thesaurus. There is a mix of narrative text, poems, and information conveyed through the illustrations (including comic strip-like panels). And, always, throughout the book, there are lists of words. Afterwords by the author and illustrator explain where the included information (especially the illustrations) came from. There is a timeline that mingles events from Peter's life with world events of the same time periods (separating the types of events by color).

Somehow, this mix of Bryant's text and Sweet's annotated collage illustrations  evokes emotion in the reader. One feels for Peter, and rejoices in his eventual success. Or I did, at least. Like this:

"When Peter moved back to London,
he joined science societies and
attended lectures given by famous
thinkers and inventors. Before long,
he was asked to give lectures too.

But could he do it? Could shy
Peter Roget face a crowded room
and talk about what he knew?

(next page)

Yes, he could.

With his book in hand, Peter spoke concisely,
with clarity and conviction!"

Sweet's illustration of this second page shows Peter standing, proud without being vain, in front of a group of black-robed men who are whispering about him. There's a mix of old-fashioned setting with cartoon-like faces keeps the book accessible to young readers. 

Even the cover of The Right Word is appealing, with a worn book cover showing at the bottom of the page, looking like soft leather, and a host of images from various fields of study and periods of time spilling out from between the pages at the top. The Right Word celebrates that power of words, and the lasting contribution of the man who created Roget's Thesaurus, still in print today. It is a wonderful picture book biography and a must- purchase for libraries and word-lovers everywhere.  

Publisher: Eerdmans Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: September 15, 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).