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Call for the 2010 Cybils Children's Literature Award Judges

The 2010 Children's and Young Adult Bloggers' Literary Awards (the Cybils) need you! Here is the call for judges from administrator and co-founder Anne Levy.


Yes, it's that time of year, when we ask kidlit bloggers around the world to stop what they're doing and join us. It's going to be another crazy contest year, so we're again reminding everyone:

  1. judging is loads of fun work. For which we pay you tons nothing. 
  2. you should skip skim read every word of this post here
  3. you'll also find an explanation of the secret handshake rules there too.
  4. The deadline to sign up is September 15th.


Hey, it's me, Susan, again. This is what you do: email us at cybils09 (at) gmail (dot) com with the specifics mentioned in Step #2. Please read the post linked in Step #2 to find out all the details. That post explains it all way better than I can!

I am looking forward to the awards this year, and am once again coordinating the Middle Grade and Young Adult Nonfiction judging. So many good books!

Poetry Friday: "Beyond Katrina"

I really want to buy this book as soon as I can: Natasha Trethewey's Beyond Katrina: A Meditation on the Mississippi Gulf Coast (University of Georgia Press, 2010). Like Trethewey, I grew up in Mississippi, too (though not on the Coast). I listened to an interview with Terry Gross on NPR's "Fresh Air," and Trethewey's sadness was heart-wrenching. She is a Pulitzer Prize-winning poet whose mother was murdered (by Trethewey's step-father) and whose brother was incarcerated for a time.

A Mississippi native and a professor at Emory, Trethewey talked to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution about Beyond Katrina, which the AJC calls "an amalgam of memoir, reportage and poetry."  She mentioned another Southern poet, several generations removed.

The book, she said, was modeled after "Segregation," poet Robert Penn Warren's series of informal conversations with Southerners after the Brown v. the Board of Education U.S. Supreme Court decision changed racial politics in the South. ‘"It was a pilgrimage for him to rethink his own feelings about the region, to take stock," she said. "He was figuring out something about himself as much as he was figuring out something about the region."

Beyond Katrina is for adults, but I'm sure some teenagers would be interested, too. I've mentioned Trethewey's work several times, and included a link to her poem "Pilgrimage" a few years back. 

The Poetry Friday roundup is at Book Aunt today. You'll find lots more links to poetry for children and adults there.

New Boss at the Coop


It's Lovey.

Doesn't she look authoritative?

Lordee. It's been a summer of change at the backyard chicken coop. We lost Fuzzy the Wonder Chicken to a predator. Lovey the White Crested Black Polish hen, above, took the loss in stride, while we humans were very sad. Lovey stood up straighter than she ever had before. Some of her bouffant grew back. (Fuzzy, you never fessed up to feather plucking.)

We bought two new young hens.

Queen Elizabeth III, standing regally on her water bowl.


Loretta Lee II. Our second chicken named Loretta. I hope this one does not crow.


Pecking order is literal. Lovey pecks the new girls fairly often, reminding them who's in charge. At night they all squeeze into the covered portion of the coop.

This afternoon I cleaned out the coop, and put fresh bedding in the nest box. Queenie and Loretta are too young to lay eggs, but I encouraged them to check it out.

Smell the pine shavings! So fresh. Look, girls!

Lovey led the way toward sleeping quarters. Queenie and Loretta followed behind cautiously.

They all stood at the doorway...

and began to eat the bedding.


Before I forget, here's a funny picture book I recommend: Interrupting Chicken, by David Ezra Stein (Candlewick, 2010), starring two fowls who know their fairy tales well.

More Best Books, This Time from Australia

Today the Children's Book Council of Australia announced its best books of the year in a number of categories. These 2010 awards honor books published in 2009, and I have added a link to the Aussie list to the page on this blog called Best Children's Books of 2009: The Big List of Lists.

The following are some other recent additions to The Big List of Lists '09. Not all were recently announced; some I just caught up with.

Eisner Comic Industry Awards nominations and winners.

Giverny Award for children's science picture book

Growing Good Kids Award for Excellence in Children's Literature, sponsored by the American Horticultural Society and the Junior Master Gardener Program

Gryphon Award, for books for children from kindergarten to 4th grade

Lane Anderson Award for Canadian science books shortlist (includes a children's category)

LIANZA Children's Book Awards (Library & Information Association of New Zealand)

MER Prizes (South Africa)

Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Children's Literature

Top 6 Things About "The Strange Case of Origami Yoda"

9780810984257_3D  From me:

1. It's hilarious.

2. The sixth-graders in the book talk like real sixth-graders. (See #1.)

3. Origami Yoda is a super-fun read-aloud. (See #1.)

From my son, a soon-to-be sixth grader:

4. The straw holes in a hamburger thing.

5. The pee stain chapter.

6. The "fools rush in do" part.

The card-catalogue-description basics: "Sixth-grader Tommy and his friends describe their interactions with a paper finger puppet of Yoda, worn by their weird classmate Dwight, as they try to figure out whether or not the puppet can really predict the future. Includes instructions for making Origami Yoda." 

Angleberger, Tom. The Strange Case of Origami Yoda. Amulet Books/Abrams, 2010.

A sequel is on the way in 2011. Which is awesome.

On the 50th Birthday of "Green Eggs and Ham"

Philip Nel, the director of the Program in Children's Literature at Kansas State University, is the author of Dr. Seuss: American Icon and an upcoming biography of Ruth Krauss and Crockett Johnston, among other books. Nel has also started a blog, Nine Kinds of Pie, and today writes about the 50th birthday of Dr. Seuss's Green Eggs and Ham.

Dr. Seuss‘s Green Eggs and Ham is one of the reasons I do this blog, write books, and am an English professor. Nearly forty years ago, Green Eggs and Ham — which turns 50 this month — taught me to read. It also taught me that reading is fun, helping to make me a life-long reader. 
The book didn’t teach me literacy all by itself, of course. My parents read to me. And I watched both Sesame Street and The Electric Company onPBS. But Green Eggs and Ham helped me put what I learned into practice. The poetry and the limited vocabulary were key.
Go, read. Link: "Green Eggs and Ham: A 50-Word Book Turns 50"

Zigzag Kids: A New Series from Patricia Reilly Giff

Catalog_cover_100 Zigzag Kids, Patricia Reilly Giff's new series for young readers, takes place at an after-school program full of lively activity, and features a multi-age, multicultural cast, as well as a gentle sense of humor. In the first book in the series, Number One Kid, new boy in town Mitchell McCabe wonders where he will fit in, while Destiny Washington, in Big Whopper, tells a fib to impress a competitive companion. Childhood dilemmas (and fears, as adults will recognize) are front and center. Not to worry though—the children find a supportive group of friends and mentors in the Zigzag School's Afternoon Center.

A description of the Afternoon Center from Big Whopper:

[It] took up most of the school's basement. It was a great place. The art room was down there. So was the lunchroom.

Destiny loved everything about the center. Dancing, and plays, art, and snack. She loved bouncing on the trampoline.

On her blog, the author explains what she had in mind for the Zigzag books:

For many years, I was a reading teacher, searching for stories for my emerging readers, for my remedial kids. I wrote The Polk Street Kids [an earlier series] for them. I was always thinking about fluency. I wanted them to read many things on their independent level, turning the pages faster, comprehension assured. How well I remember the children I worked with, their joy when they read their first book and then the next.

And so I began to shape my stories about the kids at the Zigzag Afternoon Center: the sentences short, the phrases few. I tried to provide context clues to help them decode unfamiliar words.

I know some second graders who attend a program much like the one at the Zigzag Afternoon Center. What treat they'll have reading stories with a familiar setting! Short chapters and enough illustrations to break up the text are just the kinds of things they like, too.

Giff, Patricia Reilly. Number One Kid. Yearling Books/Random House, 2010.

Giff, Patricia Reilly. Big Whopper. Yearling Books/Random House, 2010.

This post is part of the blog tour for the Zigzag Kids launch. The lineup of participating sites is here.

Summer Re-Run: Poetry Friday the 13th

6a00d834516d9569e200e5536ccfab8834-320pi Here's a Poetry Friday column from June 2008. We still read this book!

You'll find the Poetry Friday roundup, i.e.,  links to more poetry talk in the kidlitosphere today, at The Stenhouse Blog.


For today's Poetry Friday entry, I'd like to tell you about a book that Junior and I are enjoying: Janet S. Wong's Knock on Wood: Poems About Superstitions. I have soft spot for books, like this one, that start up a conversation between the people reading it. That's my hope for all children's books, really.

Junior's age, 8, is a fine one for talking about superstitions [note: 10 is still good, too!]; he's heard of a few that Wong addresses in the seventeen short poems. With a whiff of mystery and magic, the subjects include four-leaf clovers, horseshoes, broken mirrors, and ladders, not to mention Friday the 13th. Because he didn't know about all of them, Junior was eager to read the glossary where the poet gives a little background on each superstition. For instance, in reference to black cats, Wong notes that they were "revered in ancient Egypt, but feared in medieval Europe." Since we're feline aficionados, we decided we'd rather be like the ancient Egyptians. The poem "Cat" begins "Look out for her, the black cat./Walk backward/when she crosses your path/if you fear the magic she brings/as she travels through your time." Julie Paschkis's typically lush and beautiful illustrations accompany the poems, and provide additional things to discuss.

Audiobookin': Secrets of a Civil War Submarine

Secrets of a Civil War Submarine: Solving the Mysteries of the H.L. Hunley is proving to be an entertaining audiobook for my 10-year-old guy. We're listening to it in the car on the way to camp each day and on errands around town.

Built and designed in Mobile, the Hunley belonged to the Confederacy. I didn't even know that there were submarines during the Civil War. (I should read more kids' books.) The author, Sally M. Walker, includes lots of engineering details (on ballast, buoyancy, etc.), and does not shy away from the grisly. On this morning's ride alone, two of the submarine's crews have died. (I kept saying, "Oh, that's terrible, that's terrible," until Junior pointed out the repetitious nature of my comments. Still, those poor guys! Anyway...)  I'm thinking since the sub was only pulled up from the ocean floor near Charleston in the 1990s, things aren't going to be so great for at least one more group, either.

Walker, Sally M. Secrets of a Civil War Submarine [sound recording]. Random House/Listening Library, 2007. Read by J.R. Horne.