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

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Top Thirteen Books of 2013 for Kid Lit Fans

Top Thirteen of 2013
What would a Bookshelf Detective be without a neatly compiled list of best-of-the-year books? Lame. So please enjoy my favorite (mostly kid lit) picks of 2013. Some books listed here debuted in 2013; others I simply discovered in 2013.  In this list you’ll find out why I picked the book; what you won’t find are jacket flap descriptions, however I've provided a hyperlink to jacket copy if any of my hype grabs your interest.

Most “Important” Story of the Year: YAQUIDELGADO WANTS TO KICK YOUR ASS by Meg Medina (March, 2013 Candlewick). Medina delivers this story in a way that keeps pages turning swiftly. This is the kind of book we all look for—a face-paced story that makes us laugh and cry. YAQUI DELGADO WANTS TO KICK YOUR ASS is important, relevant and well written; so much so that YALSA has it listed as one of the top 100 books of the year. I predict that it will receive a Printz nomination (The American Library Association will release the nominations as well as the winner in late January 2014).  

Best Couples Story: ELEANOR AND PARK by Rainbow Rowell (Feb. 26, 2013 St. Martin Press). I loved this story for the sheer spit and fire of the characters. This is the book I bought as a gift for all my friends. Yep. It’s that good. It also received a YALSA nomination, and it is my second prediction for a Printz nomination.

Sweetest Book for the Middle Grade Reader who is an Animal Lover: THE FIVE LIVES OF OUR CAT ZOOK by Joanne Rocklin (Amulet, 2012) winner of the SCBWI Golden Kite Award.    

Cleverest Picture Books: Two of the following books take the hilarious approach regarding what happens when a pencil or crayon take on the protagonist role. If you love one, you’ll definitely love the other. The third book has a cover that simply calls you to read the story.
·        LITTLE RED WRITING by Joan Holub and Illustrated by Melissa Sweet (September 2013 Chronicle Books).  
·        THE DAY THE CRAYONS QUIT by Drew Daywalt, Illustrated by Oliver Jeffers (June 2013 Philomel).
   MUSTACHE BABY by Bridget Heos illustrated by Joy Ang (May 2013 by Clarion Books).

Best Book for Authors: SAVE THE CAT by Blake Snyder (January 2005 Michael Wiese
Productions). Yep. I’m a little late at jumping in on the Save the Cat craze, but I swear this is the best book for plotting and structure I’ve ever come across. After reading this you’ll know why movies are satisfying, or you’ll know why a movie you wanted to love failed to deliver. Writers should read this to find holes in their plot, or missing structure elements. A few simple fixes can transform a story experience.

Best Book for High School Boys: ROCK ON by Denise Vega (March 2012 Little, Brown
Books for Young Readers). ROCK ON (nominated for the Colorado Book Award) has great page turns; characters you want to follow and a compelling plot. And it has the bonus of a cool cover, one a boy can carry on the bus or in class. That said, girls will love this story, too.

Picture Book that Keeps Me Returning: STUCK by Oliver Jeffers (September 2011 Philomel). This author/illustrator cracks me up. And by the way, he’s the same guy who illustrated The Day the Crayons Quit.

Five-Year-Old Nephew’s Favorite Book of the Year: GUESS AGAIN by Mac Barnett (September 2009 by Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers). This book is like shampoo instructions—read, giggle, repeat. Every time my nephew and I arrive on the last page, he flips the book back to page one. Author Mac Barnett is also the author of one of my favorite books that appeared on last year’s award circuit—EXTRA YARN…such a cute book. If you read, I can’t wait for you to discover Little Louis.

Books I Bought for my Ten-Year-Old Niece: I can’t mention my nephew without a shout-out to my niece. Here are the must reads I purchased for her this year:

·        A SUMMER OF SUNDAYS by Lindsay Eland(July 2013 Egmont). Sweet story with a fun mystery, and also it’s the best book for a middle child!

·        DESTINY REWRITTEN by Kathryn Fitzmaurice (February 2013 Katherine Tegen Books). A book that somehow connects Danielle Steel with Emily Dickinson—certainly a laugh for parents. But eight to twelve-year-olds will love this book because the main character takes the reader on a fun adventure.

·        SAVVY by Ingrid Law (May 2008 Dial Books). Not only did this book receive a Newbery Honor in 2009, but it was also one of the books my son read and loved when he was in fifth grade.

Best Self-Help Book: A MILLION MILES IN A THOUSAND YEARS by Donald Miller (Thomas Nelson 2009) Read this book! If you’re lucky it will transform the way you think. Parents who are reading this blog looking for great books for your kids must stop here and get this book as their own personal read.

Most Out-of-the-Box Middle Grade Book of the Year: Flora and Ulysses by Kate DiCamillo (September 2013 Candlewick Press). This book is nothing if it’s not fun to read—I mean who doesn’t love a cynic, a squirrel that reads and writes, and a boy who claims blindness? Put it in front of your reluctant reader and they will definitely give up the “reluctant” part of their title.

Most Out-of the Box YA I Read This Year: EVERY DAY by David Levithan (August 2012 Knopf Books) same author of this year’s buzz book, Two Boys Kissing. Although EVERY DAY isn’t the best book I’ve ever read, I’m always of fan of David Levithan’s writing, and I was a huge fan of his unique approach to delivering a story—the sixteen-year-old protagonist wakes up in a different body every single day. It’s a little TIME TRAVELERS WIFE meets GROUND HOG DAY, and yet it’s completely different.

Best Book I found via Tweet: DAIRY QUEEN by Catherine Gilbert Murdock (2006 HMH Books for Young Readers). Word of mouth is one of the most influential marketing tools, so I’m here to confess I buy books when I hear Twitter buzz (it’s how I found PLEASE IGNORE VERA DIETZ).

And here’s a bonus!

Book I’m Most Looking Forward to This Year: NINJA, NINJA, NEVER STOP! by Todd Tuell (Spring 2014 by Abrams, Appleseed).

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Rebuilding Haiti one Suitcase at a Time

Rebuilding a Country One Suitcase at a Time
DECEMBER 2013: Last week Joseph Provost, President and founder of The Friends of Haiti Inc., and Rev. Susan Provost stepped away from the traditional hustle and bustle of the holiday season and found a way to rejuvenate their spirit. They headed to the Las Vegas airport with eight miserably heavy pieces of luggage. Now you’re like, huh? Navigating McCarran International Airport with a cumbersome load doesn’t sound like a break from the December hubbub. But to Joseph and Rev. Susan it’s an opportunity to enjoy a bit of giving. They faced chaotic traffic and tight airline seats so they could deliver eight pots of gold, at least it’s like gold to the people of Haiti. Each tattered piece of luggage was jam-packed with medical supplies, computers and cell phones—all donations for the students they support at The University of Notre Dame d’ Haiti. The Provost’s flight took them to Florida where they met an agent from Food for the Poor—a charity that collaborates with The Friends of Haiti Inc.
Food for the Poor generously shares space on their airplane. The luggage will travel to Haiti on the next mission flight to Port au Prince where a representative of The Friends of Haiti will meet the flight and receive the donations to distribute to the students. The whole process sounds exhausting; especially at this time of year, but Joseph and Rev. Susan believe their efforts are exactly what the season of giving should be about. Last year they did the Florida run three times, delivering a total of 45 pieces of luggage.

Why do they use their time, personal money and travel points instead of USPS? It’s not for an excuse to go to Florida, since they fly home only one day later; it’s because Joseph and Rev. Susan have a heart for Haiti, and a flight to Florida costs less than shipping eight large packages.

WANT TO KNOW MORE? Last year they did the Florida run three times during the holiday season. With a bit of charm, a lot of luck and a few kind employees, 72 year-old Provost overcame the two bag maximum airline restrictions. He and Rev. Susan brought a total of 45 pieces of luggage, each packed with medical supplies, food and clothing for needy students in Haiti.

Provost is no novice when it comes to helping Haiti one suitcase at a time. Five years ago when he first started volunteering, he arrived in Pignon, Haiti and helped build a community center. Prior to his arrival he filled his luggage with snacks, clothes, and the little soaps and shampoos collected from hotel stays. When he donated these items to the people in that small Haitian town, the ecstatic response was as if he had hosted a major giveaway (like Oprah’s Favorite Things)!
Provost continued volunteering in Haiti and soon discovered the doctor to patient ratio is 10,000:1. This inspired him to form his 501 c (3) charity called The Friends of Haiti Inc.  (TFOHI). The charity has a focused mission—to grow the population of medical professionals. TFOHI provides scholarships to medical students who attend the University de Notre Dame d’Haiti.  Scholarship students must pledge to remain in their country for a minimum of five years upon graduation, so they can play a role in helping their fellow citizens.  Provost believes education is the first step in helping Haiti become a self-sustaining nation.
If you’d like to make a donation to The Friends of Haiti Inc. please visit the website www.thefriendsofhaitiinc.org or send a check to THE FRIENDS OF HAITI INC., 2520 Mesa Verde Terrace, Henderson NV 89074.

**Keep your eye out for the 2014 online Kid-Lit auction supporting this charity : http://www.kimscritiquingcorner.blogspot.com/2014/11/kid-lit-for-haiti-online-auction.html

Friday, December 13, 2013

Top Ten Gifts to Give to the Writer in Your Life

Wow! You must really love the writer in your life. How do I know? Because you used your Google Machine (or Bing) to help find a gift for an author. Now Relax. Rest easy, because you've arrived at the write right spot (and I promise, no more puns).

November -December 16, 2014 you can give your writer or illustrator the gift of a PROFESSIONAL CRITIQUE from a top literary AGENT, EDITOR, Author, or Art Director. Visit the #KidLitForHaiti online auction here:    Click Here

Top Ten Gifts for the Writer in Your Life
1.  Dragon Software: Dragon Software is home speech recognition software for your P.C. It's amazing! Simply speak and the words appear on your screen. "Transfer words into text at the speed of thought." The words appear three times faster than you can type. Cost - $99.00

2.  Moo Cards: Moo Cards are beautiful and affordable business cards. Even if the writer in your life has not established a business, it's still important to have business cards printed. Writing is typically done alone, so when the author steps out of their creativity cave and attends a conference, it's nice for them to share contact information (whip out Moo card here). Stay connected with peers. On the card include important information and don't forget to list Twitter name and blog page address. Also, don't make the mistakes I made, which means don't choose red print unless you expect all your future friends to have had lasiks.
Cost - Approximately $25.00

3.  Membership! I'd like to steal a phrase from American Express, "Membership has its privileges." It's so true. Membership example: If the person you are buying for writes for the children's market (ages one month to eighteen years old; think board books to Hunger Games or Good Night Moon to Twilight) then a membership in the S C B W I would be the best possible gift you could give this person. SCBWI stands for Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators and please know that Judy Blume was one of the first members in this forty-year-old organization. With membership you receive a bi-monthly magazine on the children's market, discounts to conferences, scholarship opportunities and a lot of how-to information. Cost - $75.00 per year.
(If your author writes for another industry, find the appropriate membership for the genre)

4. Conference. There is probably no better gift than enrollment in a conference. Conferences are attended by editors from leading publishing houses, agents from dream-teams, industry professionals (i.e. reps from places like Dryden Books or Harold Underdown's PC Editorial Services) and respected authors (I've met Judy Blume, Richard Peck, Sherman Alexie, M.T. Anderson and Libba Bray to name a few).
     At the conference, attendees not only learn from the best, they also have the opportunity to attend master classes taught by industry professionals. Furthermore the writer will make connections with people with whom they would generally not have access. Many editors who say they are closed to submissions will accept a query or chapter submissions from a writer they meet at a conference; same goes for agents.
Average cost of a conference $400 plus transportation plus hotel accommodations

5.   Book: Writing the Breakout Novel by Donald Maass. Not only is Donald Maass the author of seventeen books, he is also a literary agent. His book, Writing the Breakout Novel, is regularly discussed in critiquing groups as THE book to get.  Cost - $16.99

6. Book. Another great book to wrap for the writer in your life is called Self Editing for Fiction Writers by Rennie Brown and Dave King. Available at Tattered Cover Bookstore. Cost- $13.99

7. Subscription. A subscription to Writer's Digest magazine comes with the option to receive it in either printed or digital format. It's packed with sage advice and also comes with a free copy of The Writer's Digest Guide to Creativity. Furthermore advise your writer to follow Chuck Sambuchino's blog: Guide to Literary Agents.
Cost:  subscription $19.96 for print and $16.06 for digital; Chuck's blog subscription: free

8.  Subscription: Buy your writer a subscription to a professional organization such as Publishers Marketplace so they can have online access to critical information. Publishers Marketplace web page says, "Welcome to biggest and best dedicated marketplace for publishing professionals to find critical information and unique databases, find each other, and to do business better electronically. A service of Publishers Lunch, the most widely read daily dossier in publishing and known as "publishing's essential daily read," Publishers Marketplace really works in part because it is driven by the attention of over 40,000 publishing professionals who read Lunch every day."
Cost: $20.00 per month.  Publisher's Lunch is a newsletter you can sign up for and receive for free; what you won't be able to do is search the data base unless you pay the $20.00 per month membership fee.

9. Gift Card: Nothing gets the creative juices flowing like sitting in an Indie bookstore, sipping fresh brewed tea (or a latte) and being surrounded by thousands of wonderful books. Give your writer a gift card to their favorite (or your favorite) independent bookstore, and if the writer has children then also give them the gift of time to use the card; offer a few hours of babysitting. Colorado Recommendations: Tattered Cover Book Store and Boulder Book Store
Cost: $20.00 - your limit plus time

10. Massage: Sitting hunched over a computer for hours while banging out the next great novel takes its toll on the back. Buy the author a massage, and if you really want to help with their creativity, add on a bonus scalp massage. Don't forget to include extra funds for the gratuity.
Cost: $60.00-$200.00

Bonus: If you are feeling extra generous, buy your writer the opportunity to have their manuscript professionally critiqued with a book doctor such as Emma Dryden or Harold Underdown. Costs vary so visit their links.

Want more? Visit this clever list posted by Tara Lazar: http://taralazar.com/2013/12/07/gifts-for-writers-in-other-words-gifts-for-you/

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