Welcome to the Bookshelf Detective, a site for readers and writers of children's literature. Thank you for visiting, and please let me know how this blog served you.
Kim Tomsic

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Nonfiction Summit for Children's Book Writers

RMC SCBWI Spring 2016 Workshop
On April 30, 2016 the RMC SCBWI will host a Nonfiction Summit in Boulder, Colorado.

Only 45 spots will be available for this event
☼Only 20 critique slots will be available for participants
Member of SCBWI may register now
Nonmembers may register starting February 8 if spots remain

Who should sign upThis event is for all children's book writers. If you are interested in learning from the senior editor of Calkins Creek Books, an imprint of Boyd's Mill Press, you should come! If you are interested in learning from the senior editor of History and World Cultures of HIGHLIGHTS Magazine, you should come! If you have a passion for nonfiction, and want to hear from the SCBWI Golden Kite winner, you should come! If you write fiction and you're curious about applying your skills to nonfiction, you should come! If you are interested in learning about writing for the educational market, you should come! If you would like to hone your craft as a writer, you should come!

The gist:  YOU should come!

Cost: $120.00


Featured faculty
              ·       Carolyn Yoder, senior editor of Calkins Creek Books, the U.S. history imprint of Boyds Mills Press and senior editor of history and world cultures at HIGHLIGHTS Magazine
·         David Meissner is an author and winner of the Golden Kite Award in Nonfiction. David will talk about about digging deeper: How Authentic Research Leads to Authentic Writing. 
·         Terri Farely is the author of several award winning books. She wrote 37 fiction books before writing her first nonfiction work. Terri will discuss Writing Nonfiction for the Fiction Writer. 
·         Laura Perdew is the author of more than a dozen books and will discuss how to break into writing for the educational market. 
Visitthe RMCSCBWI events pages for more details and remember to register soon!

(Rory's Promise by Michael MacColl and The Big Splash by Barb Rosenstock are nonfiction books published by Calkins Creek Books. You Nest Here With Me by Jane Yolen; Heidi Stemple, Illustrated by Melissa Sweet published by Boyd's Mill Press is described as a  "lyrical bedtime book ode to baby birds everywhere and to sleepy children, home safe in their own beds."

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

What to Read Next: List of 2016 Notable Children's Books and YALSA Awards

YALSA Names 2016 top ten best fiction for Young Adults
The Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA), a division of the American Library Association (ALA), announced its 2016 Best Fiction for Young Adults (BFYA) list.

  • Albertalli, BeckySimon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda. Harper/Balzer and Bray. 2015.
  • Bardugo, LeighSix of Crows. Holt. 2015.
  • Brooks, KevinThe Bunker Diary. Lerner/Carolrhoda Lab. 2015.
  • Crowder, MelanieAudacity. Philomel. 2015.
  • Older, Daniel JoséShadowshaper. Scholastic/Arthur A. Levine Books. 2015.
  • Reynolds, JasonThe Boy in the Black Suit. Atheneum. 2015.
  • Ruby, LauraBone Gap. Harper/Balzer and Bray. 2015.
  • Shabazz, Ilyasah and Kekla MagoonX: A Novel. Candlewick. 2015.
  • Shusterman, NealChallenger Deep. HarperTeen. 2015.
  • Silvera, AdamMore Happy than Not. Soho Teen. 2015.

  • YALSA The Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA), a division of the American Library Association (ALA), announced its 2016 Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers list.

  • Nonfiction
    • Maggs, SamA Fan Girl’s Guide to the Galaxy: A Handbook for Girl Geeks. 2015. Illus. Quirk Books.
    • Schatz, Kate. Rad American Women A-Z: Rebels, Trailblazers, and Visionaries Who Shaped Our History... and Our Future! 2015. Illus. City Lights Books.
    • Aveyard, Victoria. Red Queen. 2015. HarperTeen/HarperCollins.
    • Black, Holly and Clare, Cassandra. The Iron Trial. 2014. Illus. Scholastic Press.
    • Lee, Fonda. Zeroboxer. 2015. Flux/Llewellyn Worldwide.
    • Murphy, Julie. Dumplin’. 2015. Balzer & Bray/HarperCollins
    • Myers, E.C. The Silence of Six. 2014. Adaptive Studios.
    • Older, Daniel José. Shadowshaper. 2015. Arthur A. Levine/Scholastic.
    • Stevenson, Noelle. Nimona. 2015. Illus. HarperTeen/HarperCollins.
    • Yoon, Nicola. Everything, Everything. Illus. 2015. Delacorte Press/Random House.
    The Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC), a division of the American Library Association (ALA), has selected its 2016 list of Notable Children’s Books. The list of titles includes fiction, nonfiction, poetry and picture books of special interest, quality, creativity and value to children 14 years of age and younger.
    The titles include:
    Younger Readers
    "An Ambush of Tigers: A Wild Gathering of Collective Nouns." By Betsy R. Rosenthal. Illus. by Jago. Lerner/Millbrook.
    "The Book Itch: Freedom, Truth, & Harlem’s Greatest Bookstore." By Vaunda Micheaux Nelson. Illus. by R. Gregory Christie. Lerner/Carolrhoda.
    "Ballet Cat: The Totally Secret Secret." By Bob Shea. Illus. by the author. Disney/Hyperion.
    "Beep! Beep! Go to Sleep!" By Todd Tarpley. Illus. by John Rocco. Little, Brown.
    "Boats for Papa." By Jessixa Bagley. Illus. by the author. Roaring Book/Neal Porter.
    "A Chicken Followed Me Home! Questions and Answers about a Familiar Fowl." By Robin Page. Illus. by the author. Simon & Schuster/Beach Lane.
    "Detective Gordon: The First Case." By Ulf Nilsson. Illus. by Gitte Spee. Gecko.
    "Don’t Throw It to Mo!" By David A. Adler. Illus. by Sam Ricks. Penguin.
    "Drum Dream Girl: How One Girl’s Courage Changed Music." By Margarita Engle. Illus. by Rafael López. HMH.
    "Emmanuel’s Dream: The True Story of Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah." By Laurie Ann Thompson. Illus. by Sean Qualls. Random/Schwartz & Wade.
    "Finding Winnie: The True Story of the World’s Most Famous Bear." By Lindsay Mattick. Illus. by Sophie Blackall. Little, Brown.
    "Float." By Daniel Miyares. Illus. by the author. Simon & Schuster.
    "Flop to the Top!" By Eleanor Davis and Drew Weing. Illus. by the authors. TOON.
    "Flutter & Hum / Aleteo y zumbido: Animal Poems / Poemas de animales." Ed. by Julie Paschkis. Illus. by the author. Holt.
    "Gingerbread for Liberty: How a German Baker Helped Win the American Revolution." By Mara Rockliff. Illus. by Vincent X. Kirsch. HMH.
    "Grandma Lives in a Perfume Village." By Fang Suzhen. Illus. by Sonja Danowski. NorthSouth.
    "The Grasshopper and the Ants." By Jerry Pinkney. Illus. by the author. Little, Brown.
    "Growing Up Pedro." By Matt Tavares. Illus. by the author. Candlewick.
    "Hippos Are Huge!" By Jonathan London. Illus. by Matthew Trueman. Candlewick.
    "I Yam a Donkey!" By Cece Bell. Illus. by the author. Clarion.
    "If You Plant a Seed." By Kadir Nelson. Illus. by the author. HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray.
    "Last Stop on Market Street." By Matt de la Peña. Illus. by Christian Robinson. Putnam.
    "Lenny & Lucy." By Philip C. Stead. Illus. by Erin E. Stead. Roaring Book/Neal Porter.
    "Leo: A Ghost Story." By Mac Barnett. Illus. by Christian Robinson. Chronicle.
    "Lillian’s Right to Vote: A Celebration of the Voting Rights Act of 1965." By Jonah Winter. Illus. by Shane W. Evans. Random/Schwartz & Wade.
    "Mango, Abuela, and Me." By Meg Medina. Illus. by Angela Dominguez. Candlewick.
    "The Moon Is Going to Addy’s House." By Ida Pearle. Illus. by the author. Penguin/Dial.
    "The Most Amazing Creature in the Sea." By Brenda Z. Guiberson. Illus. by Gennady Spirin. Holt.
    "Moving Blocks." By Yusuke Yonezu. Illus. by the author. Michael Neugebauer/Minedition.
    "Mr. Squirrel and the Moon." By Sebastian Meschenmoser. Illus. by the author. NorthSouth.
    "My Tata’s Remedies = Los remedios de mi tata." By Roni Capin Rivera-Ashford. Illus. by Antonio Castro L. Cinco Puntos.
    "A Pig, a Fox, and a Box." By Jonathan Fenske. Illus. by the author. Penguin.
    "Piper Green and the Fairy Tree." By Ellen Potter. Illus. by Qin Leng. Knopf.
    "The Popcorn Astronauts: And Other Biteable Rhymes." By Deborah Ruddell. Illus. by Joan Rankin. Simon & Schuster/Margaret K. McElderry.
    "The Princess and the Pony." By Kate Beaton. Illus. by the author. Scholastic/Arthur A. Levine.
    "Raindrops Roll." By April Pulley Sayre. Illus. by the author. Simon & Schuster/Beach Lane.
    "Red. By Jan De Kinder." Illus. by the author. Eerdmans.
    "Roger Is Reading a Book." By Koen Van Biesen. Illus. by the author. Eerdmans.
    "Sidewalk Flowers." By JonArno Lawson. Illus. by Sydney Smith. Groundwood.
    "The Skunk." By Mac Barnett. Illus. by Patrick McDonnell. Roaring Brook.
    "Special Delivery." By Philip C. Stead. Illus. by Matthew Cordell. Roaring Brook/Neal Porter.
    "Supertruck." By Stephen Savage. Illus. by the author. Roaring Brook/Neal Porter.
    "Swan: The Life and Dance of Anna Pavlova." By Laurel Snyder. Illus. by Julie Morstad. Chronicle.
    "Tiptoe Tapirs." By Hanmin Kim. Illus. by the author. Holiday.
    "Trombone Shorty." By Troy Andrews. Illus. by Bryan Collier. Abrams.
    "Two Mice." By Sergio Ruzzier. Illus. by the author. Clarion.
    "Wait." By Antoinette Portis. Illus. by the author. Roaring Brook/Neal Porter.
    "Waiting." By Kevin Henkes. Illus. by the author. HarperCollins/Greenwillow.
    “Water Is Water: A Book about the Water Cycle.” By Miranda Paul. Illus. by Jason Chin. Roaring Brook/Neal Porter.
    “Who Done It?” By Olivier Tallec. Illus. by the author. Chronicle.
    “Wolfie the Bunny. By Ame Dyckman. Illus. by Zachariah OHora. Little, Brown.
    “The Wonderful Fluffy Little Squishy.” By Beatrice Alemagna. Illus. by the author. Enchanted Lion.
    “Woodpecker Wham!” By April Pulley Sayre. Illus. by Steve Jenkins. Holt.
    “Written and Drawn by Henrietta.” By Liniers. Illus. by the author. TOON.
    Middle Readers
    "28 Days: Moments in Black History That Changed the World." By Charles R. Smith Jr. Illus. by Shane W. Evans. Roaring Brook/Neal Porter.
    "Adam and Thomas." By Aharon Appelfeld. Illus. by Philippe Dumas. Seven Stories/Triangle Square.
    "Adventures with Waffles." By Maria Parr. Illus. by Kate Forrester. Candlewick.
    "Blackbird Fly." By Erin Entrada Kelly. HarperCollins/Greenwillow.
    "The Blackthorn Key." By Kevin Sands. Aladdin.
    "Echo." By Pam Muñoz Ryan. Scholastic.
    "Enormous Smallness: A Story of E. E. Cummings." By Matthew Burgess. Illus. by Kris Di Giacomo. Enchanted Lion.
    "Fish in a Tree." By Lynda Mullaly Hunt. Penguin/Nancy Paulsen.
    "Frederick’s Journey: The Life of Frederick Douglass." By Doreen Rappaport. Illus. by London Ladd. Disney/Jump at the Sun.
    "Full Cicada Moon." By Marilyn Hilton. Penguin/Dial.
    "Funny Bones: Posada and His Day of the Dead Calaveras." By Duncan Tonatiuh. Illus. by the author. Abrams.
    "Fuzzy Mud." By Louis Sachar. Random/Delacorte.
    "George." By Alex Gino. Scholastic.
    "Gone Crazy in Alabama." By Rita Williams-Garcia. HarperCollins/Amistad.
    "Hamster Princess: Harriet the Invincible." By Ursula Vernon. Illus. by the author. Penguin/Dial.
    "Lailah’s Lunchbox: A Ramadan Story." By Reem Faruqi. Illus. by Lea Lyon. Tilbury.
    "Lost in the Sun." By Lisa Graff. Penguin/Philomel.
    "Mad about Monkeys." By Owen Davey. Illus. by the author. Flying Eye.
    "Mars Evacuees." By Sophia McDougall. HarperCollins.
    "The Marvels." By Brian Selznick. Illus. by the author. Scholastic.
    "Mesmerized: How Ben Franklin Solved a Mystery That Baffled All of France." By Mara Rockliff. Illus. by Iacopo Bruno. Candlewick.
    "My Story, My Dance: Robert Battle’s Journey to Alvin Ailey." By Lesa Cline-Ransome. Illus. by James E. Ransome. Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman.
    "My Two Blankets." By Irena Kobald. Illus. by Freya Blackwood. HMH.
    "Murder Is Bad Manners." By Robin Stevens. Simon & Schuster.
    "The Nest." By Kenneth Oppel. Illus. by Jon Klassen. Simon & Schuster.
    "Poet: The Remarkable Story of George Moses Horton." By Don Tate. Illus. by the author. Peachtree.
    "Red Butterfly." By A. L. Sonnichsen. Illus. by Amy June Bates. Simon & Schuster.
    "Roller Girl." By Victoria Jamieson. Illus. by the author. Penguin/Dial.
    'Sex Is a Funny Word: A Book about Bodies, Feelings, and YOU." By Cory Silverberg. Illus. by Fiona Smyth. Seven Stories/Triangle Square.
    "Stella by Starlight." By Sharon M. Draper. Atheneum.
    "Terrible Typhoid Mary: A True Story of the Deadliest Cook in America." By Susan Campbell Bartoletti. illus. HMH.
    "Tricky Vic: The Impossibly True Story of the Man Who Sold the Eiffel Tower." By Greg Pizzoli. Illus. by the author. Penguin/Viking.
    "Unusual Chickens for the Exceptional Poultry Farmer." By Kelly Jones. Illus. by Katie Kath. Knopf.
    "The War That Saved My Life." By Kimberly Brubaker Bradley. Penguin/Dial.
    Older Readers
    "Baba Yaga’s Assistant." By Marika McCoola. Illus. by Emily Carroll. Candlewick.
    "The Boys Who Challenged Hitler: Knud Pedersen and the Churchill Club." By Phillip Hoose. illus. Farrar.
    "Child Soldier: When Boys and Girls Are Used in War." By Jessica Dee Humphreys and Michel Chikwanine. Illus. by Claudia Dávila. Kids Can.
    "Cuckoo Song." By Frances Hardinge. Abrams/Amulet.
    "Drowned City: Hurricane Katrina and New Orleans. "By Don Brown. Illus. by the author. HMH.
    "Enchanted Air: Two Cultures, Two Wings: A Memoir." By Margarita Engle. Atheneum.
    "First Flight around the World: The Adventures of the American Fliers Who Won the Race." By Tim Grove. illus. Abrams.
    "Goodbye Stranger." By Rebecca Stead. Random/Wendy Lamb.
    "The Hired Girl." By Laura Amy Schlitz. Candlewick.
    "The Lightning Queen." By Laura Resau. Scholastic.
    "Listen, Slowly." By Thanhhà Lại. HarperCollins.
    "Most Dangerous: Daniel Ellsberg and the Secret History of the Vietnam War." By Steve Sheinkin. illus. Roaring Brook.
    "My Seneca Village." By Marilyn Nelson. Namelos.
    "Orbiting Jupiter." By Gary D. Schmidt. Clarion.
    "Rhythm Ride: A Road Trip through the Motown Sound." By Andrea Davis Pinkney. illus. Roaring Brook.
    "The Seventh Most Important Thing." By Shelley Pearsall. Knopf.
    "The Smoking Mirror." By David Bowles. IFWG.
    "The Thing about Jellyfish." By Ali Benjamin. Little, Brown.
    "Turning 15 on the Road to Freedom: My Story of the 1965 Selma Voting Rights March." By Lynda Blackmon Lowery, as told to Elspeth Leacock and Susan Buckley. Illus. by P. J. Loughran. Penguin/Dial.
    All Ages
    "Bird and Diz." By Gary Golio. Illus. by Ed Young. Candlewick.
    "Counting Lions." By Katie Cotton. Illus. by Stephen Walton. Candlewick.
    "Hiawatha and the Peacemaker." By Robbie Robertson. Illus. by David Shannon. Abrams.
    "Lost in NYC: A Subway Adventure." By Nadja Spiegelman. Illus. by Sergio García Sánchez. TOON Graphics.
    "My Pen." By Christopher Myers. Illus. by the author. Disney/Hyperion.
    "National Geographic Book of Nature Poetry: More Than 200 Poems with Photographs That Float, Zoom, and Bloom!" Ed. by J. Patrick Lewis. illus. National Geographic.
    "The Only Child." By Guojing. Illus. by the author. Random/Schwartz & Wade.
    "Pool." By JiHyeon Lee. Illus. by the author. Chronicle.
    "Sail Away." By Langston Hughes. Illus. by Ashley Bryan. Atheneum.
    "Voice of Freedom: Fannie Lou Hamer, Spirit of the Civil Rights Movement." By Carole Boston Weatherford. Illus. by Ekua Holmes. Candlewick.
  • The Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA), a division of the American Library Association (ALA), announced its 2016 Great Graphic Novels for Teens list.

    • Awkward. By Svetlana Chmakova. Illus by the author. Yen Press. (9780316381307)
    • Drowned City: Hurricane Katrina and New Orleans. By Don Brown. Illus by the author. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. (9780544157774).
    • Lumberjanes.
      • vol. 1. By Noelle Stevenson, Grace Ellis and Shannon Watters. Illus. by Brooke Allen. Boom! Box, paper, $14.99, (9781608866878).
      • vol. 2. By Noelle Stevenson, Grace Ellis and Shannon Watters. Illus. by Brooke Allen. Boom! Box, paper, $14.99, (9781608867370).
    • Ms. Marvel.
      • vol. 2: Generation Why. By G. Willow Wilson. Illus. by Jacob Wyatt and Adrian Alphona. Marvel Comics, paper, $15.99, (9780785190226).
      • vol. 3: Crushed. By G. Willow Wilson. Illus. by Takeshi Miyazawa and Elmo Bondoc. Marvel Comics, paper, $15.99, (9780785192275).
    • Nimona. By Noelle Stevenson. Illus. by the author. Harper Teen, hardcover, $17.99, (9780062278234).
    • Roller Girl. By Victoria Jamieson. Illus. by the author. Dial Books for Young Readers, hardcover, $20.99, (9780525429678).
    • Sacred Heart. By Liz Suburbia. Illus. by the author. Fantagraphics, paper, $24.99, (9781606998410).
    • A Silent Voice.
      • vol. 1. By Yoshitoki Oima. Illus. by the author. Kodansha Comics, paper, $10.99, (9781632360564).
      • vol. 2. By Yoshitoki Oima. Illus. by the author. Kodansha Comics, paper, $10.99, (9781632360571).
      • vol. 3. By Yoshitoki Oima. Illus. by the author. Kodansha Comics, paper, $10.99, (9781632360588).
    • Trashed. By Derf Backderf. Illus. by the author. Abrams ComicArts, hardcover, $24.95, (9781419714535).
    • The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl.
      • vol. 1: Squirrel Power. By Ryan North. Illus. by Erica Henderson. Marvel Comics, paper, $15.99, (9780785197027).
      • vol. 2: Squirrel You Know It’s True. By Ryan North. Illus. by Erica Henderson. Marvel Comics, paper, $14.99, (9780785197034).
  • Saturday, January 9, 2016

    Confessions from a First Grade Class: What Kids Want to Read in 2016

    This week in first grade, my nephew learned about author/poet Tomás Rivera and how much he loved books. The homework assignment that followed read: write at least three sentences telling what kind of books you like to read and why.

    I love my brilliant nephew's clever answers:

    1. I like the action in Batman books.
    2. I am a ninja that is why I like ninja books (well, duh, of course he's a ninja. That's why he loves NINJA NINJA NEVER STOP by Todd Tuell)
    3. I like family books because I spend time with my family. (I love this answer, because YES! That's the power of a great book--it can bring families together. His family currently spends evening time together, listening to Mom read Harry Potter)
    Look at the other great answers from students in his class:

    I like to read nonfiction books because they teach about real life. They teach us about wild stuff. When I read nonfiction books I get really excited. (Okay, I love this kid, whoever he or she may be! Hooray for nonfiction and excitement. You should definitely pick up a Kate Messner book!) 

    "I like to read books about Pokemon because it tells me how they evolve. I like learning."

    "I like reading books about princesses. I love the dresses they wear."

    "I like to read books by Dr. Deuss because they help me learn how to read. My favorite is Green Eggs and Ham." (yep, good old  Dr. Deuss) 

    "I like to read princess books. All the girls are pretty! I like to read about horses. They are my favorite animal. I like to read about dogs. They are fun to play with."

    "I like ballet books because they are pretty. I also like adventure books because they have a lot of action in them. I like Hello Kitty books because they are fun." (I want to hang out with this kid--who doesn't like a pretty ballet centered around action and adventure (maybe a ninja or two), and yeah, let's throw in a cat, because they are fun. I want to read that book, too!)

    "I like Cat in the Hat books because they are goofy. My favorite is Fox in the Box." 

    Monday, December 28, 2015

    Top Ten Ways to Jumpstart Your Writing Career

    A few times a year, one friend or another tells me they’d like to write a book. They mention how they heard I have a book coming out with Chronicle, and then they ask the “how” questions that make me smile. I love sharing a similar dream with friends, and their interest in my opinion is a huge compliment!

    My most recent email was: Hey Kim! I know you are a writer, correct? I am thinking of writing a true life story. Any pointers you can give me? How do I go about presenting to a publisher? Is it best that I get a writer to assist me in my story? Any help/guidance would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

    Here’s my evolving answer. I hope the information is useful to others, too.

    I'm happy to hear you're interested in writing a book. Good for you to ask questions early! When I decided I wanted to write, I spent a year typing out a 60,000 word novel. After I finished, I a read book on craft and talked to experienced writers—that’s when I discovered the one million things I did wrong, haha—oh well! The best thing I did was sitting my butt in a chair and getting started. Here are my recommendations:

    1. BIC (butt in chair). Have a goal of how many words a day you plan to write and do it (by the way, word count is where it's at; not page count but word count). Set aside a time every day to write and commit to that schedule. For me, it is first thing in the morning (it's 5:16am right now, and I’ll get started as soon as I finish this blog post). One of my friends writes at night after everyone has gone to bed.
    2. Join a genre-specific organization and participate in activities and events. I write children's books, so I joined the SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators). There are many organizations out there, and it might take a bit of research for you to find the right one for you (Romance Novelist of America; History Writers of America, etc.).
    3. Research if anyone in your area hosts a writer’s connection event (a writer get-together). Every six weeks(ish), I co-host a Connect for SCBWI members who live in Boulder (or for those who want to drive to Boulder). The other co-host and I pick a topic and moderate a group discussion. We cover a variety of topics including novel structure, character development, craft book discussions, goal setting, etc.
    4. Find blogs and read, read, read. My blog is geared toward children's book writers and readers. I post book recommendations, interviews with agents and editors, and writing tips. I like the SCBWI blog by Alice Pope, and several others such as Dear Editor, Adventures in Children’s Publishing, and the one by Nathan Brandsford.  In addition to blogs, read craft books like SAVE THE CAT by Blake Snyder, or WIRED FOR STORY by Lisa Cron, or SCENE AND STRUCTURE by Jack Bickham, or THE BREAKOUT NOVELIST: Craft and Strategies for Career Fiction Writers by Donald Mass.
    5. Find or form a critiquing group. This is crucial! It takes a village to write a great book—your village starts with your critiquing group. A good critiquer gives feedback in the sandwich method—they tell you what they like and what works well, next they tell you what needs work and why (in their opinion), and then they close with something positive. If you can't find an in-person critiquing group, there are many on-line forums.
    6. Join Twitter and “follow” a focused base of people who are both experts and novices in your field—through them, you can stay on top of what is relevant—i.e. conference chatter, or when is the so-and-so book award coming out, or when is Dear Editor giving away a free critique, or what's the latest in Publishers Marketplace, or what did Daniel Handler say this time (okay, just kidding. He made his amends).
    7. Subscribe to Writer's Digest and consider a subscription to Publishers Marketplace. Subscribe to the free email offered by Publishers Lunch.
    8. Attend a conference. The knowledge you'll gain at a conference will close the learning gap quickly (craft, formatting, word count, looking professional, how to, and more). Also attend a writing workshop which is primarily craft and feedback focused.

    9. Listen to Grammar Girl podcasts and become familiar with The Punctuation Guide, then forgive yourself for how many things you get wrong (but fix them).
    10. READ read and read. Good writers need to be avid readers first, especially in the genre they want to write. It is crazy to me when someone says they want to write a children's book, yet all they read are adult books. The best writers are readers first.
    Good luck! I look forward to seeing your name listed under New York Times Best Sellers.

    Friday, December 11, 2015

    The Bum Book: A Reluctant Reader Winner, Humor for Kids

      We all know kids love CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS and the CHARLIE JOE JACKSON books. But why? And furthermore, why are these books embraced by the reluctant reader far and wide? I propose it’s because they’re packed with quick and engaging page turns, chapters with ample white space, and because THEY ARE FUNNY.
    Another book for the reluctant reader recently crossed my path, and trust me—it will make kids “crack” a smile, especially with a name like THE BUM BOOK. Authors Dawko and Ditz, and illustrator Cartoon Dave promise “…piles of poopy poems, cheeky cartoons and a butt-load of other stuff that will crack you up!”  Maybe lines like this have you chuckling, or perhaps this is not your personal choice for humor—but put your taste aside for a moment and consider the notion that a book like this may be the key to engage an unwilling reader. It's the perfect propaganda to win over another library attendee (insert evil-villain laughter here).  Furthermore, there’s some literary merit, after all—Dawko and Ditz include a poem on using the thesaurus (of course their goal is to look up other ways to say “bottom” “butt” and “kiester”, but still).

    The book includes fun illustrations and write-in activities like connect the long-lost bum (hobo) to their bum (rump). It also includes the all-important list—Twelve Things to Know About Bumsthat's worth the price of the book alone!
    • Paperback: 176 pages
    • Publisher: Scottlyn Books (June 2, 2015)
    • Language: English
    • ISBN-10: 0646582208
    • ISBN-13: 978-0646582207

    Also by these authors and available at Boulder Bookstore and Tattered Cover

    Friday, September 25, 2015

    Picture Books: Visual Treats for Halloween

    It Eye Candy Palooza in my town! The picture book section at my local bookstore featured a pile of visual treats, so of course I want to share them with you.

    Jampires by Sarah McIntyre and David O'Connell. It's the great doughnut mystery! The jam has been sucked out of Sam's doughnuts. Who's the culprit?
    And if the illustrations don't push you over the edge to want to own this book, read the cute opening:
    “THERE’S NO JAM!” yelled Sam. “This doughnut is wrinkly! This doughnut is jamless and dry!
    Someone has got to this doughnut before me and sucked out the jamminess! WHY?”

    TheLittlest Mummy by Brandi Doughtery

    “Mae is the littlest mummy in the Spooky Wood.
    Too little to moan, groan, and look scary.
    Too little to shuffle and wear wrappings.
    Too little to dance at the big Halloween bash.

    But she's not too little to make a friend.”

    Creepy Carrots by (author)Aaron Reynolds and
    (illustrator) Peter Brown.
    You've probably heard of this one, it won a Caldecott Honor after all.
    "Jasper Rabbit loves carrots—especially Crackenhopper Field carrots. 
    He eats them on the way to school.
    He eats them going to Little League.
    He eats them walking home.
    Until the day the carrots start following him...or are they?
         Celebrated artist Peter Brown’s stylish illustrations pair perfectly with Aaron Reynold’s text in this hilarious picture book that shows it’s all fun and games…until you get too greedy."

    I could spend an hour enjoying the cute and clever details in this book featuring the lost creatures who show up after Julie hangs a welcome sign.
    When Julia and her walking house come to town, she likes everything about her new neighborhood except how quiet it is! So Julia puts a sign up: "Julia's House for Lost Creatures." Soon she's hosting goblins, mermaids, fairies, and even a dragon. Quiet isn't a problem anymore for Julia...but getting her housemates to behave themselves is!
    The simple, sweet text of this picture book by New York Times Best-Selling Zita the Spacegirl author/illustrator Ben Hatke is perfectly balanced by his lush, detailed, immersive watercolor illustrations."  

    MAX the Brave by Ed Vere

    Max is adorable, and so is every action and illustration in this book. You'll enjoy the page turns as Max the Brave hunts for Mouse.
    "Max the Brave is a brilliant new picture book from Ed Vere. This is Max. Max the Brave, Max the Fearless, Max the Mouse-catcher... But, in order to be a Mouse-catcher, Max needs to know what a mouse is, so off he goes to find out. This hilarious new picture book from the phenomenally-talented Ed Vere introduces a new and lovable character, with Ed's trademark bold illustrations and clever story. Other Ed Vere titles to look out for: Banana; Bedtime for Monsters; Mr. Big; The Getaway Ed Vere studied fine art at Camberwell College of Art and has been writing and illustrating children's books since 1999. He is published in both England and the US. Ed is also a painter, working from his studio in east London and is represented by galleries in London and Los Angeles. After a year and a half living in Barcelona, Ed now lives and works in London."

    You can't help but laugh and feel nostalgic when you see the familar-ish cover (and title) of Goodnight Goon by Michael Rex
    “Goodnight monsters everywhere, in this parody romp with its own special twist!
    Goodnight tomb. Goodnight goon. Goodnight Martians taking over the moon.?
    It?s bedtime in the cold gray tomb with a black lagoon, and two slimy claws, and a couple of jaws, and a skull and a shoe and a pot full of goo. But as a little werewolf settles down, in comes the Goon determined at all costs to run amok and not let any monster have his rest.
    A beloved classic gets a kind-hearted send up in this utterly monsterized parody; energetic art and a hilarious text will have kids begging to read this again and again.”

    PEANUT BUTTER AND JELLY BRAINS A ZombieCulinary Tale by Joe McGee Pictures by Charles Santoso
    Here’s another picture book I could look at over and
    over again. And it's a perfect fit for this generation of zombie lovers, plus the pictures are hilarious.
    “Reginald isn’t like the other zombies who shuffle through Quirkville, scaring the townspeople and moaning for BRAINSSSSS! The only thing Reginald’s stomach rumbles for is sticky peanut butter and sweet jelly. He tries to tell his zombie pals that there’s more to life than eating brains, but they’re just not interested. Will Reginald find a way to bring peace to Quirkville and convince the other zombies that there’s nothing better than PB&J?

    Debut author Joe McGee and up-and-coming illustrator Charles Santoso have created a delicious tale about being true to yourself that will make readers hungry for more.”

    Thursday, September 17, 2015

    National Book Award Longlist, Young People's Literature

    NATIONAL BOOK AWARD Longlist: Young People’s Literature

    • M.T. AndersonSymphony for the City of the Dead: Dmitri Shostakovich and the Siege of Leningrad (Candlewick Press)In September 1941, Adolf Hitler’s Wehrmacht surrounded Leningrad in what was to become one of the longest and most destructive sieges in Western history—almost three years of bombardment and starvation that culminated in the harsh winter of 1943–1944. More than a million citizens perished. Survivors recall corpses littering the frozen streets, their relatives having neither the means nor the strength to bury them. Residents burned books, furniture, and floorboards to keep warm; they ate family pets and—eventually—one another to stay alive. Trapped between the Nazi invading force and the Soviet government itself was composer Dmitri Shostakovich, who would write a symphony that roused, rallied, eulogized, and commemorated his fellow citizens—the Leningrad Symphony, which came to occupy a surprising place of prominence in the eventual Allied victory. This is the true story of a city under siege: the triumph of bravery and defiance in the face of terrifying odds. It is also a look at the power—and layered meaning—of music in beleaguered lives. Symphony for the City of the Dead is a masterwork thrillingly told and impeccably researched.”

    • Gary Paulsen, This Side of Wild: Mutts, Mares, and Laughing Dinosaurs (Simon and Schuster Children's Publishing) The Newbery Honor-winning author of Hatchet and Dogsong shares surprising true stories about his relationship with animals, highlighting their compassion, intellect, intuition, and sense of adventure. Gary Paulsen is an adventurer who competed in two Iditarods, survived the Minnesota wilderness, and climbed the Bighorns. None of this would have been possible without his truest companion: his animals. Sled dogs rescued him in Alaska, a sickened poodle guarded his well-being, and a horse led him across a desert. Through his interactions with dogs, horses, birds, and more, Gary has been struck with the belief that animals know more than we may fathom. His understanding and admiration of animals is well known, and in This Side of Wild, which has taken a lifetime to write, he proves the ways in which they have taught him to be a better person.”

    • Laura RubyBone Gap (Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins Children's Books) “Eighteen-year-old Finn, an outsider in his quiet Midwestern town, is the only witness to the abduction of town favorite Roza, but his inability to distinguish between faces makes it difficult for him to help with the investigation, and subjects him to even more ridicule and bullying.”

    • Ilyasah Shabazz, with Kekla Magoon, X: A Novel (Candlewick Press). “Malcolm Little's parents have always told him that he can achieve anything, but from what he can tell, that's a pack of lies--after all, his father's been murdered, his mother's been taken away, and his dreams of becoming a lawyer have gotten him laughed out of school. There's no point in trying, he figures, and lured by the nightlife of Boston and New York, he escapes into a world of fancy suits, jazz, girls, and reefer. But Malcolm's efforts to leave the past behind lead him into increasingly dangerous territory. Deep down, he knows that the freedom he's found is only an illusion--and that he can't run forever. X follows Malcolm from his childhood to his imprisonment for theft at age twenty, when he found the faith that would lead him to forge a new path and command a voice that still resonates today.”

    • Neal ShustermanChallenger Deep (HarperCollins Children's Books)Caden Bosch is on a galleon that's headed for the deepest point on Earth: Challenger Deep, the southern part of the Marianas Trench. Bosch is a brilliant high school student whose friends are starting to notice his odd behavior. He is designated the ship's artist in residence to document the journey with images.  Bosch pretends to join the school track team but spends his days walking for miles, absorbed by the thoughts in his head. He is split between his allegiance to the captain and the allure of mutiny. He is torn. He is dealing with schizophrenia... and as fantasy and paranoia begin to take over, his parents have only one choice left.” (Update: Winner of the National Book Award for Young People's Literature!)

    • Noelle Stevenson, Nimona (HarperTeen/HarperCollins Children's Books). “Nimona is an impulsive young shapeshifter with a knack for villainy. Lord Ballister Blackheart is a villain with a vendetta. As sidekick and supervillain, Nimona and Lord Blackheart are about to wreak some serious havoc. Their mission: prove to the kingdom that Sir Ambrosius Goldenloin and his buddies at the Institution of Law Enforcement and Heroics aren't the heroes everyone thinks they are. But as small acts of mischief escalate into a vicious battle, Lord Blackheart realizes that Nimona's powers are as murky and mysterious as her past. Andher unpredictable wild side might be more dangerous than he is willing to admit.