Thursday, December 25, 2008

My mother's cards

For a long time, every year at Christmas my mother made me a card, often lettered in my father's lovely hand.

Over the years I've received 22 of Mum's cards - but there was no new one this year. At 84 she is not sewing as much as she used to (she received her City and Guilds when I was a teenager and is a very accomplished fabric artist and canvas work designer).

I bring out the cards every year - still thinking that maybe one day I may find the ideal way of mounting/displaying them all together. But for now, I just arrange them on my bookshelves, some randomly, and some in a row, and they provide all the seasonal decorations I need - other than my small Christmas tree for which I have an eclectic collections of ornaments - a number of which were also made by my mother - and a few Santas who I started collecting a few years ago.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

First ten titles on my must-read list for 2009

That didn't take long. A post from Linda Joy Singleton has given me a list of reading that should keep me busy for the next ten weeks. Her top ten books are:

Little Brother by Cory Doctorow
Savvy by Ingrid Law
Graceling by Kristin Cashore
Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Cabinet of Wonders by Mari Rutkoski
Little (Grrl) Lost by Charles de Lint
The Magic Thief by Sarah Prineas
Into the Wild by Sara Beth Durst
Found Missing by Margaret Peterson Haddix
Patron Saint of Butterflies by Cecelia Galante

See what Linda Joy has to say about her top picks of 2008 on her blog here.

Please drop me a note with your recommendations. Only 42 weeks left unaccounted for on my list!

I'd prefer third-party recommendations rather than suggestions from authors that I add their book to my list. I'm aiming for objectivity here.

Check out the list as it develops here.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

I'm making a list...a Book a Week for 2009

I'm casting around for recommended reading for 2009.
My goal is to read one kids' book a week.

My reading is often pretty random - usually books I review for Resource Links, those recommended by my past colleagues at the library, and new titles by kids' writers I know. I'm wanting to compile a reading list for 2009 of juvenile literature including MG fiction, picture books and YA (no graphic novels). I prefer realistic fiction rather than fantasy or sci fi (although I admire David Almond as much as any kids' writer publishing these days, and I'd say his books verge on the magic realism).

A few I particularly enjoyed this year :

War Horse by Michael Morpurgo
Skellig by David Almond
The Fire-Eaters by David Almond
Johnny Kellock Died Today by Hadley Dyer
I am a Taxi by Deborah Ellis
Mr. Karp's Last Glass by Gary Fagan
Island of Mad Scientists... by Howard Whitehouse
The Lit Report by Sarah Harvey
Love my Dog by Sharon Creech

I will be posting the list on my website once I have 52 pinned down.
Leave a comment with YOUR suggestions. As long as they are still in print or readily available at a library, I'd welcome your recommendations.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Reviews from all over

All writers live for reviews - even if they try not to care.

Reviews come from all over - in professional journals written by teachers and librarians who understand what kids need and want in their reading. Such as Quill and Quire and School Library Journal.

In review journals (print and/or online) written by teachers, librarians, readers and writers written for teachers, librarians, readers and writers. Resource Links and CM (Canadian Materials)

Blogs written by teachers and parents (The Reading Zone) for other parents and teachers.

And ones written by kids for kids (The Spaghetti Book Club).
This is only a very small list of the dozens of review sources out there.
And those for the general literary community such as the Canadian Children's Book Centre's journal Children's Book News.

I have been thrilled over the past two days to be directed to two recent reviews of Meeting Miss 405 - one in CM and the second in The Reading Zone. (Thanks to my friends who passed on the word that the reviews were out there!) The first written by a librarian, and the second by a teacher and parent. (Thanks also to those who took the time to read the book, and formulate such careful responses to it.)

Both gave my book passing marks, for which I am very grateful. Especially if it helps the book find its way into hands of readers who might not otherwise know about it.

It's easy to get distracted by the search for reviews - easier now than it's ever been, now that you don't have to wait for the actual journal to find its way into your hands; most journals post reviews online - something I just discoverd today checkiing out the websites of some of the ones that I still hope will find my book worth a column inch or two.

But two reviews in two days is just what I needed to send me back to my desk to keep working on what I hope will be the next book to find its way into the world.