Friday, December 26, 2014

Top Book Editors Pick their Favorite Children's Books of 2014





With so many wonderful children's books published in 2014, it's hard to know where to begin in making reading choices. One easy way to discover amazing stories is to take a look at Publishers Weekly round-up of top book editors' 2014 picks (only books not published by their own company). They talk about the books they wish they'd snagged before another publisher got to them first, how they learned about the books, and why they love them. Their favorites also include some older classics.
 
The picks include:  The Bunker Diary; The Iridescence of Birds; Grasshopper Jungle; El Deafo; Blue Lily, Lily Blue; The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender; The Winner’s Curse; Half Bad; Mr. Rabbit and the Lovely Present; Charlie and the Chocolate Factory; Brown Girl Dreaming; The Perks of Being a Wallflower; The Glassblower’s Children; Sideways Stories from Wayside School; Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children; The Storm Whale; The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making; Wild Rover No More; The Secret Garden; Egg & Spoon; and Grasshopper Jungle.

A few quotes from the piece:

David Levithan, Scholastic. Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith. "Grasshopper Jungle is a messy, repetitive, horny, ridiculous novel with a main character who will strain your sympathies about as far as they can go. And I love it for all of these qualities, and for the exuberance of its daring."

Nicholas During, New York Review Books. Mr. Rabbit and the Lovely Present by Charlotte Zolotow, illustrated by Maurice Sendak. "There’s something rather melancholy about the story in combination with Sendak’s illustrations, and, don’t ask why, I find it’s a bit of sadness that makes the best children’s books."

Brittany Pearlman, Macmillan Children's Publishing Group. Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Steifvater. "There’s a line in the book where the main character, Blue, reflects about herself and her four male companions (the Raven Boys): “We were all a little bit in love with each other”; and that’s exactly how I feel about every one of the characters. The magical realism and fantasy make the story truly enchanting, but it’s always grounded in character so that you feel completely immersed."

T.S. Ferguson, Harlequin Teen. Half Bad by Sally Green. "Half Bad by Sally Green has obvious comparisons to the world of Harry Potter, but the story unfolds in such a uniquely compelling way that I couldn’t put it down. I loved the themes of racism, genocide, and terrorism as viewed through a fantasy lens."

Liz Herzog, Scholastic. Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs. "When I brought the book home and read it, I loved the way Riggs had so artfully built a rich and engaging world all from a collection of found photos. It made me think about where stories come from, and how pictures can be a powerful jumping-off point for the imagination."

Megan Barlog, HarperCollins Children’s Books. The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente. "This book takes the best elements of fairytale romps like Alice in Wonderland and The Wizard of Oz and transforms them into a tale of daring adventure."

Be sure to visit Publishers Weekly for the complete article.

What were your favorite books of 2014 for children?

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Tuesday, November 25, 2014

The Pros and Cons of Self-Publishing for Children's Book Authors




 
It's difficult for any writer to get published by a traditional publisher, whether you write for adults or for children. That's why more writers than ever are turning to self-publishing. But before you jump on the bandwagon, especially if you write for children, it's helpful to find out more about self-publishing.
Check out the recent post by guest blogger Sangeeta Mehta on publishing expert Jane Friedman's blog. Mehta, a former acquiring editor of children's books at Little, Brown and Simon & Schuster who runs her own editorial services company, interviewed agents Kate McKean and Kevan Lyon for answers to key questions on self-publishing children's books.
Here are some highlights:
Kate McKean: “The anecdotal evidence I’ve seen, however, is that the more titles a self-published author has up, the more visibility they can possibly garner.”
Kevan Lyon: “I do believe that YA writers probably have an edge over middle grade writers in the indie publishing world.”
Kate McKean: “For picture book writers, the cost of producing the book is one hurdle, and distributing it is another bigger hurdle.”
Kevan Lyon: “Self-publishing a full-color print picture book can be very expensive with little room for a profit margin, especially without distribution.”
Click here to visit Jane Friedman's blog for the complete post.
What do you think about the pros and cons of self-publishing? Please share your experiences.
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Thursday, November 13, 2014

Tweets and Text From Literature's Great Characters

What if Ahab were tweeting? Or Nancy Drew sending texts? Or Scarlett O'Hara texting Ashley?
What if great literary characters had smartphones! The new book Texts from Jane Eyre by Mallory Ortberg is a novel built around the conceit of great literary characters texting and tweeting.

Here's a funny example from the book posted on the National Public Radio (NPR) website:

Gone with the Wind

Texts from Jane EyreScarlett O'Hara:
ashley
ashley
ashley
ashley r u there
ashleyyyyyyyy
(i'm DRUNK (from brandy))
remember that time
we made out in the barn

Ashley Wilkes:
Scarlett, it's four in the morning and I have to
get up in two hours to run your mill
Please don't text me this late

Scarlett O'Hara:
oh i sold the mill
haha
did i not tell you that

Ashley Wilkes:
Oh my God.

Scarlett O'Hara:
did you know that pantalets are out this year
that's why im not wearing any :)

Ashley Wilkes:
OH MY GOD

Texts from Jane Eyre also plays with many other characters from the Western canon, including Sherlock and Watson, Captain Ahab and Ishmael, and Nancy Drew and Ned.

Check out Ortberg's website The Toast, which she co-founded with Nicole Cliffe, for more literary satire.
And take a look at NPR's story on Ortberg.

Now choose a character and let me know what he or she would tweet or text?

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Thursday, November 6, 2014

Writing Funny Isn't Easy: Just Ask John Cleese

So, Anyway...


National Public Radio (NPR) has an interview with John Cleese about his new autobiography So, Anyway... Check it out to discover what the British wit whose comic characters and hit movies, including Monty Python and the Holy Grail, Time Bandits, and A Fish Called Wanda, has to say about writing funny.

Here's a highlight from the NPR interview:

Cleese's advice for young comedy writers

"I tell them to steal, because comedy is extraordinarily difficult. It's much, much harder than drama. You only have to think of the number of great dramatic films and then compare that with the number of great comic films ... and realize that there's very, very few great comedies and there are lots and lots of very great tragedies, or dramas. That tells you, really, which is the hard one to do. So at the very beginning, to try to master the whole thing is too difficult, so pinch other people's ideas and then try to write them yourself, and that'll get you started."

To read and listen to the NPR interview, click on this link to NPR's website:

Do you agree that it's hard to write funny?

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