Welcome to the Bookshelf Detective, a site packed with tricks and tips for readers and writers of children's literature. Thank you for visiting!
Kim Tomsic

Friday, October 29, 2010

I Can't Wait to Get Ditched!

Yes! It's true...I can't wait to get Ditched! Ditched is Robin Mellom's debut YA novel being published by Disney Hyperion (editor Christian Trimmer) with a release date set in 2012. It's about a high school girl who wakes up in a ditch the morning after her prom. She can't remember the past 12 hours, what happened to her prom date, and how she ended up with a tattoo (of a punk Tinkerbell!). If I can base the future of a book on the tone of a blog and a crazy premise, Ditched promises to be energetic, funny, and wildly entertaining. Great job Robin!

p.s. Publisher's Marketplace calls it THE HANGOVER for teens

Ghost Story!

The Ghost Over Boulder Creek has been unleashed. Elain Pease's newest middle grade novel is now available at your favorite bookstore. Book signings are also happening this weekend, October 30, 2010 from 12:00pm to 2:00pm at Barnes &Noble in Boulder (2999 Pearl Street, Boulder 303-444-0349) and again on Sunday, October 31at Borders at the 29th Street Mall in Boulder.

After surviving the Washita River Massacre, Run Through Fire, a half-Cheyenne, half-white boy uses the ploy that he's a captured white and humbly follows Buffalo Bill across the plains in search of Run Through Fire's father. Run Through Fire hopes his father can help free the imprisoned survivors of his tribe. His mother is among them. When Run Through Fire arrives in Boulder, the ghost-like images that have haunted him during his journey prove to be more than warnings. Encourages discussions about prejudice, the westward movement and Manifest Destiny.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Read (and rock out!) with Taylor Swift!

Read (and rock out!) with Taylor Swift!

Taylor Swift and Nick Cannon Promote Reading

Scholastic's 90th anniversary literacy campaign featured a live interview with Nick Cannon and Taylor Swift who say, read every day and live a better life.  For information on seeing the video, visit Scholastic.  This is a tool teachers can use in the classroom to promote reading.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

National Novel Writing Month

November is National Novel Writing Month.  What's that?  It's a thirty day challenge, beginning November 1st, to sit down and write a 50,000 word novel.  The rules are simple, write write write; write new material  (not something you're currently working on or something you're tweaking), and have fun.  Expectations:  a bunch of fluff will be written because there is no time to reread and edit every (any!) detail, but your creative juices will flow and you may surprise yourself.   Published novels have come out of this yearly challenge.  For more details, visit  http://www.nanowrimo.org/eng/whatisnano.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Everything Elephants

I heard an NPR commentary by a clever scientist who said there is so much water in a cloud, he can only logically discuss the measure in elephant units.   Now, whenever it rains, I think of elephants.  And it's raining today, so naturally I feel compelled to offer elephant reading recommendations.

Here are my three favorite elephant books...I promise hours of fun reading!!
Modoc by Ralph Helfer
The Magician's Elephant by Kate DiCamillo
Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Judy Moody Alert!

Judy Moody Fans...Did you know that one of the producers of Precious:  Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire is currently filming a movie based on the Judy moody books by Megan McDonald?  Fun!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

I can't wait for the release of Animal Tracks by Kelly Sheahan

From the SCBWI regarding the Sue Alexander Award:

2010 Winner

Kelly Sheahan or her manuscript Animal Tracks.

Here’s what our judges had to say:

"Animal Tracks is set in a vividly rendered Alaskan wilderness. It's filled with page-turning tension, peppered with humor, and peopled with delightfully quirky characters. This middle grade adventure novel features a timid young science nerd whose struggle to survive and make sense of his parents’ disappearance engages instant reader sympathy and promises a fun and intriguing journey."

Saturday, October 16, 2010

A little about Gary Paulsen

from http://www.bookshelfdetective.org/ by Kim Tomsic
It was a cold Minnesota winter’s day that caused a very young Gary Paulsen to duck into a building and flee the harsh weather. The building happened to be a library. When the librarian offered him a book and a library card, magic ignited. Paulsen discovered his passion for reading, and books became his escape from a less than ideal home life.

It’s no wonder Paulsen fell in love with booksthey helped quench his need for adventure. When he was just a fourteen-year-old boy, he ran away from home and joined a traveling carnival. Later, he served as a soldier, and after that he raced the Iditarodtwice!  For those who are unfamiliar with the race, the Iditarod is not for the weak.  It's a sled race with 15 mushers and it spans over a 1000-mile course running from Anchorage to Nome. But you don't need to spend the $250,000 it cost to train for the event to know the thrill.  A fan can experience every drop of Paulsen’s blood, guts, and tears when they read his entertaining books on wilderness and adventure.

Perhaps when Paulsen writes, he feels compassion for the young man he wanted to be or for the kids who desperately need a break from their real world. He has dedicated countless hours writing for young people and has created more than 175 books. Gary Paulsen is considered one of the most important people in children’s literature. In addition to the numerous awards he has won, three of Paulsen’s novels were Newbery Honor Books — Hatchet, Dogsong, and The Winter Room.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

National Book Award Finalists Announced

http://www.bookshelfdetective.org/ has the info on the National Book Award Finalists

Young People’s Literature:

Paolo Bacigalupi, "Ship Breaker"

Kathryn Erskine, "Mockingbird"

Laura McNeal, "Dark Water"

Walter Dean Myers, "Lockdown"

Rita Williams-Garcia, "One Crazy Summer"


Peter Carey, "Parrot and Olivier in America"

Jaimy Gordon,"Lord of Misrule"

Nicole Krauss, "Great House"

Lionel Shriver, "So Much for That"

Karen Tei Yamashita, "I Hotel"


Barbara Demick, "Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea"

John W. Dower, "Cultures of War: Pearl Harbor, Hiroshima, 9-11, Iraq"

Patti Smith, "Just Kids"

Justin Spring, "Secret Historian: The Life and Times of Samuel Steward"

Megan K. Stack, "Every Man in This Village Is a Liar: An Education in War"


Kathleen Graber, "The Eternal City"

Terrance Hayes, "Lighthead"

James Richardson, "By the Numbers"

C.D. Wright, "One with Others"

Monica Youn, "Ignatz"

The National Book Awards will be announced at a ceremony in New York on Nov. 17. At the event, Tom Wolfe will receive the National Book Foundation’s Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters and the Literarian Award for Outstanding Service will be presented to Joan Ganz Cooney, a founding producer of "Sesame Street."


From http://www.bookshelfdetective.org/

Writer's Digest is holding its sixth annual fiction writer's competition. Entry deadline is November 1st.
A Short Story Competition from Writer's Digest

Compete and Win in All 5 Categories!


•Mystery/Crime Fiction

•Science Fiction/Fantasy



The Grand Prize-Winner will receive a trip to the Writer's Digest Conference in New York City, $2,500 cash, $100 worth of Writer's Digest Books and the 2011 Novel & Short Story Writer's Market.

Entry Deadline: November 01, 2010.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

SCBWI Winter Conference

The Bookshelf Detective wants you to know that
registration has begun for the

 12th Annual SCBWI Winter Conference.  Please know that the pre-conference writing intensive typically fills up within the first 5-7 days, so my advice is to visit www.scbwi.org and jump in before its too late to sign up for this extra class. 
WHEN:  JANUARY 28-30, 2011
WHERE:  New York

The elite line-up of keynote speakers include Jules Feiffer (cartoonist, playwright, screenwriter, and children's book author and illustrator), Lois Lowry (two-time recipient of the Newbery Medal), Linda Sue Parks (Newbery Medal Winner and author of the ninth book in the series 39 Clues), R.L. Stein (sold over 400 million books with Goosbumps, Fear Street, The Nightmare Room, Rotten School, and Mostly Ghostly) and Sara Zarr (A National Book Award Finalist, Cybil Award Finalist, and Kirkus Best Book recognition).

Agents you can meet: 

Ginger Clark of Curtis Brown LTD:  She represents science fiction, fantasy, paranormal romance, literary horror, and young adult and middle grade fiction. In addition to representing her own clients, she also represents British rights for the agency’s children’s list.

Dan Lazar from Writers HouseDaniel Lazar is a senior agent at Writers House, one of the industry's largest and oldest literary agencies. His list includes a variety of commercial and literary fiction for children and adults. For children's books, he represents primarily middle grade and YA. Recent and upcoming titles include Newbery Honor-winner Savvy by Ingrid Law (Dial/Walden); The Last Invisible Boy by Evan Kuhlman (Atheneum); Billy Bones by Chris Lincoln (Little Brown); Mike Steller: Nerves of Steel by KA Holt (Random House); and The Dork Diaries by Rachel Renee Russell (Aladdin).

Jim McCarthy from Dystel & Goderich Literary Management:  Jim McCarthy interned for Dystel & Goderich Literary Management while studying urban design at New York University. Upon graduating in 2002, Jim realized he would much rather continue working with books than make the jump (as he had originally intended) to the field of city planning and has been with the agency ever since. As an avid young adult fiction reader, his interests encompass both literary and commercial works. He is particularly interested in urban fantasy, paranormal romance, horror, gay and lesbian fiction, and absolutely anything that can make him laugh out loud.

For more on conferences, visit me, Kim Tomsic, at www.bookshelfdetective.org

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Ingrid Law and Spunk and Bite

Ingrid Law, author of the new release Scumble and author of Newbery Honor book Savvy recommends Spunk & Bite as a tool for writers.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Picture Book Discussion Panel Excerpt

**UPDATE November 15-December 15, 2014** Bid on a Picture Book Manuscript Critique with one of the publishing professionals donating their time and talent in the #KidLitForHaiti Auction at the following Link:

Click Here to go to: Picture Book Manuscript Critique:Critique with Melissa Manlove editor of Chronicle Children's Books; 
Jen Rofe agent with Andrea Brown Literary Agency;
Denise Vega-author and two-time winner Colorado Book Award
Stephen Mooser-co-founder SCBWI and author of 60 + books
and more!

And now:

A few words from an SCBWI discussion panel featuring four esteemed speakers:
Arthur Levine (Arthur A. Levine books), Melinda Long (teacher and award winning best-selling author), Eve Bunting (esteemed author of more than 100 books for young readers), and Kadir Nelson (famous award winning illustrator)


QUESTION: What makes a great picture book?
Athur Levine: Distinction and originality.
Kadir Nelson: The book needs to speak to both a personal truth and a universal truth.
Eve Bunting: It must have heart and jolt of emotion. When you write ask yourself, “Is this worth
Melinda Long: It has to appeal to children and adults. Bring in humor or love, something so the adult
can say, “I remember when I felt that way.”

QUESTION: When do you know it’s time to write?
Eve Bunting: When something jolts me, I see if the feeling lasts.
Melinda Long: When I have something inside and I have to get it out on paper and I don’t feel good until
I do.

Extra words from Mr. Levine and Mr. Nelson:
Athur Levine: Remember that your words must be apparent in your text because author has no control over the illustrations. (This makes me think of advice from Linda Arms White. She says to forget adverbs and adjectives when writing picture books (maybe one per story is okay). She advises your verbs are your work horses, so pick wisely (no “to be” verbs).
Kadir Nelson: The book illustrator’s job is not to redundantly tell the same story as the author.

Fanilow: A Tribute to Richard Peck

Fanilow: A Tribute to author Richard Peck

By Kim Tomsic

I knew I’d look for him the minute I walked into the SCBWI conference ballroom. I only hoped he'd live up to the giant I had created in my imagination. Author Richard Peck has given me many gifts: laughter, tears, and adventures with characters like Grandma Dowdel, Blossom Culp, and Tilly Pruitt. As the two-time winner of the Newbery Medal, the Margaret A. Edwards Award, the ALAN Award, and the Edgar Allen Poe Award, he has received acknowledgement from those far greater than me, but I needed to tell him how much I admire him, too; and I needed to say thank you.

By day, my husband bonds with my son over paintball wars, air soft guns, and pocketknives. But by night, I bond with my child through the magic of literature thanks to authors like Richard Peck. Evening time is when my son becomes riveted as I read aloud, hijacking a Peck character’s voice, and we sail on a Huckleberry Finn-type adventure. The enchanting time-travel journey provided by Richard Peck pushes far beyond anything found in even a Fodor's Guide.

When I arrived at the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators National Conference (www.scbwi.org) and walked into the Hyatt ballroom, I scanned the 950 people mingling and sipping coffee. There was no sign of Richard Peck. But after I found a seat, superhero music blasted from speakers. Applause filled the room and the conference faculty marched to the stage, one by one speaking into the microphone, each offering a single word for the weekend. Literary agents spoke hopeful words like “yes!” and editors said happy words like “chocolate.” Richard Peck reached the microphone and said, “friend;” then he raised his eyebrows and added, “and that is not a verb.” The crowd exploded in laughter.

I waited all Friday morning and afternoon to shake Mr. Peck’s hand, the time passing with conference-filled fun. I belly-laughed all through Sherman Alexie’s presentation (a speech as funny as his book The Absolutely True Story of a Part Time Indian) and I was dazzled by the stimulating art of David Wiesner (Flotsam). I concluded my morning trifecta (comedy, art, music) with the delightful and irreverent tunes of Frank Portman (King Dork). And then 3:15pm rolled around, and I bounced my way to Richard Peck’s seminar entitled Setting: the Landscape of Story, I found the great man greeting people as they walked in the door, thanking folks for attending his seminar. He was thanking us!

Sitting in class beside me was Newbery Medal winner, Linda Sue Park (A Single Shard)--now I had star dazzling all around me. She fiercely jotted notes and was as enamored with Peck as I was. Another Newbery winner was in the room, though I can't remember who. Throughout the lesson, I was impressed by Mr.Peck and thought, here is a true gentleman plucked right out of yesteryear; he’s like one of his very own characters (not Grandma Dowdel of course). Another attendee, who accurately read the admiration plastered on my face, told me that one time Mr. Peck had agreed to speak at her regional conference. Later it was publicly announced that Richard Peck won the ALAN Award. The ALAN ceremony was scheduled on the same day as her conference. Sure enough, she received a phone call from Mr. Peck. She expected him to cancel. Instead, he said he was calling because he realized the events overlapped and that he wanted her to know he did not intend to cancel his commitment. She was flabbergasted, but recovered by saying that he needed to receive his award. She canceled on him.

The presentation ended. The time to shake my hero's hand finally arrived. Like a star struck teenager, I asked Mr. Peck to sign my copies of A Long Way from Chicago and A Year Down Yonder. I don’t know what came over me--I’m not even from the generation I’m about to reference--but the first thing that gushed from my unbridled mouth was, “I’m your biggest fanilow!” His eyebrows bounced twice and he graciously smiled. With a sparkle in his eyes, he said, “Why thank you; and I know what that means!” He looked right at me when he talked and not at the swarm of people all wanting a piece of him. He was patient and pleasant and everything I hoped for. I was respectful and moved along to allow others a turn to prattle, but I watched as he generously gave every last "fanilow" time for questions and photos.

I had a chance to redeem my goofy first impression. Later that evening, I entered an elevator and there he was. Could I be cool about the situation? No! Earlier in the day, I had enjoyed watching author Ellen Hopkins (Crank) on the podium; she danced and skipped when she talked about the joy of writing, so I danced my way into the elevator; I did a jig a-la Ellen Hopkins, and I announced to the passengers, “It’s Richard Peck! It’s Richard Peck!”

Later I sent my thirteen-year-old daughter a text, “I just met Richard Peck!!! That’s equivalent to you meeting a Jonas Brother.” The reply came back, “Ha Ha Mom. U R so weird.” I knew she was secretly impressed since (years ago) she was the first to introduce a Peck book to our family (Here Lies the Librarian). When I called home, my son was outwardly wowed and said, “Make sure you get his autograph!” I did better, I got a photo—not a good one, because I didn’t have the heart to ask for a second chance (which he would have indulged), but I have a treasured photo nonetheless.

Over the conference weekend, Richard Peck escalated to the highest level of my admiration. I saw him many times in the audience. He was referenced by author after esteemed author. Men want a bromance, women adore him, and children are captivated by his writing. My son told me, "You should give him a hundred dollars, Mom." Without a doubt, we all love Richard Peck. We love his charm, his beautiful and gentle heart, his chivalrous nature, his witty quips, and his gift to entertain.

At the end of the SCBWI Conference, Richard Peck gave a humble presentation to a captivated and packed audience at Sunday’s Golden Kite luncheon. He delivered an entertaining, funny, and tear-tugger keynote address and while the audience froze under his spell, waiting for more, he quickly and modestly exited the stage before what followed—an explosion of applause and a standing ovation.

Mr. Peck says that in every story, nobody grows up before they have to, but eventually somebody has to. In my childish and bubbling awe of the master, I knew it wasn’t me growing up anytime soon.

Some of my favorite books by Richard Peck include: A Long Way from Chicago (Newbery Honor winner), A Year Down Yonder (Newbery Medal winner), and Here Lies the Librarian.

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