Coffee Talk, September 22nd

Some weeks get so newsy: 

A can't-miss interview with Mary Norris, one of the New Yorker's copy editors, at Andy Ross's blog, Ask the Agent.

The new MacArthur Fellows were announced. (They are the genius-grant people.)

Down with popularity contests (of the blog variety), at Chasing Ray and Jen Robinson's Book Page.

It's officially autumn. I just like that fact.

A great conversation between Justine Larbalestier and Doret Canton (of The Happy Nappy Bookseller blog) about girls, sports, and books, at the Liar author's blog.

Nominations for the 2009 Cybils open October 1st. Anyone can nominate a book in a number of categories. (Cybils = Children's and YA Bloggers' Literary Awards)

An interview at Powell's with David Sibley, author of the brand-new book The Sibley Guide to Trees, and other guidebooks. Sibley is our era's Roger Tory Peterson.

Coming up: Banned Books Week, Celebrate the Freedom to Read, sponsored by the American Library Association, September 26th-October 3rd

Over at PBS Parents' Booklights, I write about a Pied Piper children's librarian and her current read-aloud recommendations.

September 11, 2009


Eight years ago the sky was blue. The sun was bright. A touch of fall was in the air. All day long I looked up, trying to figure out...something, I'm not sure what. How the miraculous modes of transport that took us to visit grandparents had been turned into weapons. How my friends in the city were. How it had happened. At a playground I walked straight into some monkey bars, accidentally slamming my head . That night I kept looking up, too, at the silent skies. Because we're near the flight path from Kennedy to Europe, I often mistook those overnight flights for stars.My toddler son, though, knew, and liked to watch them as much as the fireflies. Air-pane! Air-pane! Not that night.

Eventually I started looking at what was right in front of me again. My tiny boy began going to preschool a few hours a week. We read books. We played. We went apple picking, and he said his first long sentence on the way home. 

And when we went to visit his grandparents at Christmas, my heart soared when the flight took off. 

I remember.

Photograph: 9/11 Memorial, Sherwood Island State Park, Connecticut. Taken by ST, September 2008.  All rights reserved.

August '09 Carnival of Children's Literature

Head over to In Need of Chocolate (isn't that a funny name for a blog?) for the August Carnival of Children's Literature. There you will find many links to blog posts about children's books. Here on the rainy East Coast, I am going to pour myself some coffee and read away.

Check out the lists of favorite chapter books and picture books, too. Sarah, a homeschooling mom, reads a lot with her family.

Books: Southeast Asia

Over at the blog Chasing Ray, Colleen Mondor has a terrific roundup of posts on books 1. set in southeast Asia, and 2. by authors from that area. You'll find the information at Chasing Ray's One Shot World Tour: Southeast Asia.

Although I didn't yet get to it, I had hoped to read (in time for the tour) Over the Moat, by James Sullivan, about love and a bike trip in Vietnam. I first heard about this memoir on National Geographic Traveler's list of "50 Books of Summer." Soon!

Keeping southeast Asia in mind, I came across a lovely blog, Nye Noona, written by a woman who grew up in Laos, Thailand, and New York City, and now lives in the southeast U.S.

"Hunger Mountain" Literary Magazine

The Vermont College of Fine Arts produces a literary magazine called Hunger Mountain, which now features a section on children's and young adult literature. You can read the journal online. The current issue contains a speech by Katherine Paterson (The Bridge to Terabithia)—an amazing story about a fan letter from an remote spot in the world. You'll also find interviews, articles on the writing process, fiction,  poetry—and that's just the kids & YA area. I'm looking forward to reading the whole journal.

Thanks to Jill Corcoran, a literary agent and writer who blogs at Jill Corcoran Books, for pointing the way to Hunger Mountain.

Books (and More) on Twitter

Update 9/20: I'm still on Twitter; please visit! I took down the Twitter feed here on the blog to reduce clutter. 

In the far right-hand column of this blog is a feed called Twitter Updates. I use Twitter to call readers' attention to book reviews and literary essays at other publications; to point out other interesting but possibly non-book-related links; and to ask questions here and there. 

While some of my tweets (or, Twitter entries) are about children's books, a good many are not. So, there's a little but not a whole lot of overlap with the blog, although I hope both endeavors cover books and how they fit into today's world, at least to a tiny degree.

Recent articles I've pointed out via Twitter are Alice Sebold's Atlantic essay about literary prizes, a New York Times mention of author/photographer Seymour Simon's wedding, and a piece on the Bronx's Museum of Trees. (I'm all for Museums of Trees, aren't you?)

Please visit at

Happy reading on this rainy Tuesday.

Reading Fest

48hbc Pam Coughlan, who blogs at MotherReader, sponsors a read-a-thon each June, in which participants read and blog about as many children's books as they can in a 48-hour period. You'll get many reading suggestions from all those involved just by keeping up with the reviews. At last count 107 people were signed up and burying their noses in books!

See the starting-lineup list at MotherReader, and click on the individual blog titles to follow the action. I'll be sitting in the grandstand, rooting everyone on.

Children's Book Week

Children's Book Week starts today, May 11th, and runs through Sunday, May 17th.  It's sponsored by the Children's Book Council, a consortium of publishers. The event's web site says, 

Since 1919, Children's Book Week has been celebrated nationally in schools, libraries, bookstores, clubs, private homes-any place where there are children and books. Educators, librarians, booksellers, and families have celebrated children's books and the love of reading with storytelling, parties, author and illustrator appearances, and other book related events.

Also associated with Children's Book Week are the Children's Choice Book Awards; finalists can be found at the web site. (Note that the voting is now closed.) The winners will be announced tomorrow evening. 

Happy reading!