Saturday, January 29, 2011

Funny females of kid's lit

LaughImage via Wikipedia
Are you a fan of funny female kid's book writers?  If so, head on over to Betsy Bird's blog to weigh in.  I've listed my favs, Sara Pennypacker, Lenore Look, and Linda Bailey. But if you're think or reading along different lines, now's the time to put your favourite funny woman forward.  I'm really interested to see who the top choice will be.
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Friday, January 28, 2011

Good-bye Sheepie by Robert Burleigh

Cover of "Hoops"
Cover of Hoops
I'm a huge fan of Robert Burleigh.  His poetic picture book, Hoops may be one of my all time favorites.  So, when I was checking out another book title by illustrator Peter Catalanotto, and discovered that he and Burleigh had a new picture book out, I ordered it right away.  Their beautiful new book, Good-bye Sheepie, arrived yesterday morning.  I dropped what I was doing and sat back with a cup of tea to enjoy it.
Despite the lack of pitter pattering feet, I still buy picture books, although these days I tend to read them and donate them to a needy day-care, school or organization that supports family literacy.

Good-bye Sheepie is a poignant goodbye to a boy's best friend, his dog.  Sheepie is getting too old to fetch a stick.  Sometimes Owen even has to help him climb the stairs.   A few pages into the story, Owen finds Sheepie lying very still under a big oak tree.  When Sheepie doesn't respond to Owen's pat, he gets his dad.  Sheepie has died.  The scene is understated but powerful.  Owen's dad gets his shovel and proceeds to dig a whole for Owen's beloved dog, as if death were as natural as life...
Tears are shed, past exploits are remembered, and Sheepie is lovingly laid into the soft earth.  Owen is sad and his sadness is acknowledged respectfully by his dad who helps him to understand that Sheepie will continue to have a place in their family's memories.

I like that Burleigh doesn't pull any punches or gloss over difficult scenes.  His straight forward text is complemented by Catalanotto's warm palate.  As the reader turns each page, the images become increasingly blurred, as if by tears.  But, by the time we arrive at the end of the story, Catalanotto sharpen's his illustrative lens suggesting Owen's acceptance. Wrapped in the comfort of his father's arms, Owen is able to say good-bye to his beloved friend.

Good-bye Sheepie is a treasure that is destined to be become a classic.  It deals simply and honestly with one of the issues that we must all face ...the loss of someone dear.
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Thursday, January 27, 2011

Family Literacy Day

Illustration of Peter Rabbit with his family, ...Image via Wikipedia
Today is Family Literacy Day. There are lots of ways to support Family Literacy all year round though so turn off the TV and play a game of scrabble with your kids, read them a picture book or a chapter of a novel (kids are never too old to be read to), or follow a recipe and bake a cake together.  Above all, act as a role model and get caught out reading on a regular basis.  For more ideas and information, visit ABC Life Literacy Canada.
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Monday, January 24, 2011

Kevin Hinkes and Little White Rabbit video

I've always been a big Kevin Henkes fan...I mean how can you not be with books like Lily's Purple Purse.   So I hurried on over to have peak at him working on his new book, Little White Rabbit.  I was going to post the video, but couldn't get it work for me so you'll just have to visit yourself.  Here's the link.  The book will be out tomorrow.  And guess what...more Henkes videos will be posted soon, including him drawing Lily!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Brief review of Library of the Early Mind

On January 20th The University of Victoria had the honor of hosting the Canadian premiere of the "Library of the Early Mind," a documentary by Edward J. Delaney and Steven Withrow to a packed house. It was the most wonderful evening and a great way to celebrate my 58th began with a children's book donation to support local groups who support children.  The Dean of Education, Dr. Ted Riecken, welcomed the audience and introduced a children's literature panel. Dr. Sylvia Pantaleo introduced the film and gave a little background on it's creators. After the documentary was shown, the panelists, including myself, Kid's Can Press editor and non-fiction writer, Val Wyatt, Governor General short-listed illustrator, Kristi Bridgeman, and Victoria Public Library Children's and Youth Services Coordinator, Tracy Kendrick, were led in a lively discussion led by moderator, Dr. Pantaleo.  The film was so jammed packed full of the most interesting interviews and insights that the discussion could have gone on for hours. Creators like: Chris Van Allsburg, Daniel Handler (AKA Lemony Snicket), Lois Lowry, David Small, Mo Willems, Patrick Lane, and many others, offered inspirational insights and pearls of wisdom about the impact of children's literature on children and the adults they will become. Social responsibility, creativity, cultural impact, new media, the importance of literature, and the ability of literature to open doors were only some of the subjects touched on.  In addition to interviews with creators, critics such as Roger Sutton and Anita Silvey were interviewed.  Librarians such as Betsy Bird and editors like Arthur Levine also offered their insights.  There were three things disappointing about the film.  The first is that it didn't include any Canadian talent.  The second is that it was over far too soon.  And the third was that one could not stop the film repeatedly to take notes; there was just too much to take in. I can only hope that it will soon be available on DVD. Every school, library, and writer will want one.  Thank you to Edward and Steve for devoting the time and resources to the creation of this wonderful documentary.  Thank you to a fabulous panel for providing a Canadian perspective.  And thank you to Dr. Sylvia Pantaleo and The Department of Education of the University of Victoria for bringing it to Canada.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

An interview on Open Book Toronto with Frieda Wishinsky

An interview with the always awesome Frieda Wishinsky on Open Book about WHERE ARE YOU BEAR?
Beloved children's author Frieda Wishinsky talks to Open Book about her cross-Canada alphabet story, Where Are You, Bear? (OwlKids), and tells us why she finds picture books more challenging to write than chapter books — even though there are far fewer words!

New Mystery Award for kids' books

Great news...The Canadian Children's Book Centre has just announced a new mystery award for kid's books...

The John Spray Mystery Award will honor excellence in the children's mystery book format and comes with a $5000 cash prize.  The first John Spray Mystery Award will be given out in November of this year for a mystery (thriller, crime novel, or 'whodunit') aimed at readers ages 8-16.  That means another short-list folks, and I love short-lists.  For more info, visit the CCBC.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Martin Luther King Day

Happy Martin Luther King Day.  We don't celebrate it here in Canada, but Betsy Bird has provided at great list of books if you want to find out more about this amazing American who influenced so many.
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Friday, January 14, 2011

The "N" word and Huck Finn

The Mark Twain "white wash" controversy continues.  I'm sure you've all heard about the removal of the word "nigger" from Huck Finn and it's replacement with the word "slave."  Jon Stewart did quite a funny piece on it on the John Stewart Show.  Here is the Canadian link.  And here is the American link.

One one side of the coin, is the argument that the book will be more widely read, especially in high schools, if the "N" word is changed, On the other hand, some people feel that Twain wanted us to be uncomfortable with the racial epitaph and taking it out is contrary to Twain's intention.  For a more serious look at the question, Katie Davis has interviewed Dr. Alan Gribben, the editor who made the decision to make the change.  It's worth listening to.
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Thursday, January 13, 2011

Words to live by

Obama's Arizona speech moved me to tears. Here is the link, and here are a few of the words that all of us who want a better world for our children ought heed.

"We recognize our own mortality, and we are reminded that in the fleeting time we have on this Earth, what matters is not wealth, or status, or power, or fame -– but rather, how well we have loved -- and what small part we have played in making the lives of other people better."   

Thank you Mr. President.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

More on ALA Awards

Tomie DePaolaImage by kabod via Flickr

More ALA Award Winners...Lots of great books to keep you busy.

Laura Ingalls Wilder Award honors an author or illustrator whose books, 
published in the United States, have made, over a period of years, a substantial 
and lasting contribution to literature for children. 

The 2011 winner is Tomie 
dePaola, author and illustrator of over 200 books, including: “ 26 Fairmont 
Avenue ” (Putnam, 1999), “The Legend of the Poinsettia” (Putnam, 1994), “Oliver 
Button Is a Sissy” (Harcourt, 1979) and “Strega Nona” (Prentice-Hall, 1975).

Coretta Scott King (Author) Book Award recognizing an African American author of 
outstanding books for children and young adults 

One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia is the 2011 

published by Amistad, an imprint of HarperCollins 

Corretta Scott King Author Honor Books

Lockdown by Walter 
Dean Myers and published by Amistad

Ninth Ward by Jewell Parker Rhodes and published by Little, Brown and 

Yummy: The Last Days of a 
Southside Shorty by G. Neri, illustrated by Randy DuBurkeand 
published by Lee & Low Books Inc.

Coretta Scott King (Illustrator) Book Award recognizing an African American
illustrator of outstanding books for children and young adults

Dave the Potter: Artist, Poet, Slave illustrated by Bryan Collier.  Written by Laban Carrick Hill 
and published by Little, Brown and Company

Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor Book

Jimi Sounds Like a Rainbow: 
A Story of the Young Jimi Hendrix illustrated by Javaka Steptoe, by 
Gary Golio and published by Clarion Books

Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe New Talent (Author) Award

Zora and Me by Victoria Bond and T. R. Simon published by Candlewick Press

Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe New Talent (Illustrator) Award

Seeds of Change illustrated by Sonia Lynn Sadler, written by Jen Cullerton Johnson and published 
by Lee & Low Books Inc.

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Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Sorry, more award info coming soon

Had planned on posting more award books tonight but just finished working on the rewrite of a picture book manuscript and am too tired.  Will post more tomorrow.

Monday, January 10, 2011

2011 Newbery and Caldecott Medals & 2011 Printz Award winners

Finally getting back to the blogging.  I promised the ALA youth media award winners, and here are the big three.

Newbery Medal for the most outstanding contribution to children’s literature

Moon Over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool and published by Delacorte Press

Newbery Honor Books

Turtle in Paradise by Jennifer L. Holm, published by Random House Children’s Books
Heart of a Samurai by Margi Preus and published by Amulet Books
Dark Emperor and Other Poems of the Night by Joyce Sidman, illustrated by Rick Allen and published by Houghton 
Mifflin Books for Children
One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia and published by Amistad

Caldecott Medal for the most distinguished American picture book for children

A Sick Day for Amos McGee illustrated by Erin E. Stead.  The book was written by Philip C. Stead, and is published by Roaring Brook Press

Caldecott Honor Books

Dave the Potter: Artist, Poet, Slave,” illustrated by Bryan Collier, written by Laban Carrick Hilland and published by Little, Brown and Company
Interrupting Chicken written and illustrated by David Ezra Stein and 
published by Candlewick Press.

Michael L. Printz Award for excellence in literature written for young adults

Ship Breaker written by Paolo Bacigalupi and published by Little, Brown and Company

Printz Honor Books 

Stolen by Lucy Christopher and published by Chicken House
Please Ignore Vera Dietz by A.S. King and published by Alfred A. Knopf
Revolver by Marcus Sedgwick and published by Roaring Brook Press
Nothing by Janne Teller and published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers

Just so you aren't totally overwhelmed, I'll list more of the ALA awards later.  For now, get out there and read some really fine books.  I know that's what I'll be doing.  Congratulations to all the winners including those who were honored.  High praise indeed. is the place to go

The thing I probably get asked most (aside from how much money I make...answer NOT AS MUCH AS I'D LIKE.") is Can you recommend good books for boys.  I do have a few favs, but for a comprehensive list, you can't beat the Guys Read website.  The latest highlighted book (they do one a month) is David Macaulay's Built to Last which is a combination of three earlier books combined (Castle, Cathedral, and Mosque) with updated drawings and research.

And if you're on the lookout for just plain good books for kids, check back later today. I'll be posting the ALA Award winners.

Sunday, January 09, 2011

I Like Big Books - Dowell Middle School

Applaud the creativity and fun of Dowell Middle School. Thanks to Margriet Ruurs for the link.

Friday, January 07, 2011

Tweeting on Twitter

Image representing Twitter as depicted in Crun...Image via CrunchBase

Yes, I've finally done it...I've joined the ranks of millions tweeting.  In fact, I think I might like it since the posts are short and sweet.  On the other hand, there are sooo many.   I'll have to be careful to keep my WIP in my sights and ignore twitter while I'm working. You can locate me by going to twitter and searching for "@sherylbooks" or follow the link on the sidebar.
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Babe creator, Dick King-Smith dies

Sad news.  Dick King-Smith, author of "The Sheep Pig" (aka "Babe the Gallant Pig" passed away on January 4th at the age of 88. He didn't have his first book published until he was 56 which will be very encouraging to those thinking of a second careers as writers.  Not only did he get a late writing start, but he was like the energizer bunny.  He just kept going!  At the time of his death, a few days ago, he had written more than 130 books.  

Here is a link to a news article.

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Library of the Early Mind coming to Victoria

Mark your calendars for an exciting children's literature event.  Library of the Early Mind, a documentary that explores children's literature, is coming to Victoria on January 20th at UVIC at the David Lam Auditorium at 7pm.  This free documentary will be followed by a children's literature panel moderated by Professor Sylvia Pantaleo to discuss the film's themes from a Canadian perspective. The panel features, Valerie Wyatt, an editor with Kids Can Press and the author of the award-winning How to build Your Own Country, Kristi Bridgeman, illustrator of the Governor General's short-listed UirapurĂș written by the late P.K. Page, Tracy Kendrick, Coordinator of Children's and Teen Services for Victoria Public Library, and Sheryl McFarlane, author of Waiting for the Whales.

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Happy 2011

Victoria contourImage by by Lorena via Flickr
Welcome back and happy 2011 to everyone.  I'll start  posting in a few days...I rang in the new year with a bit of a bad back, but watch for posts again in a few more days.