Saturday, September 25, 2004

June Franklin Naylor Award

The Daughters of the Republic of Texas Library Committee announced the establishment of the June Franklin Naylor Award for the Best Book for Children on Texas History. Beginning with books published in 2004, the award will be given annually to the author/illustrator of the most distinguished book for children and young adults, grades K-12, that accurately portrays the history of Texas, whether fiction or nonfiction.

The award is granted for a book published for the first time within a calendar year, or to a book that has been annotated or revised to make the story accessible to today's students. Submission consists of two copies of the book, along with the entry, sent to Library Directory, DRT Library, P. O. Box 1401, San Antonio TX 78295, or delivered to the library, 300 Alamo Plaza, San Antonio.

Deadline for entries to be received is January 31 of the year following publication. A three-member panel of judges composed of historians, educators, librarians, and/or DRT members will choose five finalists in February. A representative of the Naylor family will choose the award winner from the finalists.

Winning entry is cash prize of $400, with certificates for second and third place. For books with multiple authors and illustrators, all will be recognized and the prize divided among them. The award will be presented in May during the Annual Conference of the DRT.

The award is named for Odessa schoolteacher and DRT President General 1989-1991, June Franklin Naylor.

Friday, September 24, 2004

Author Events

It's September so all of my wonderful event coordinators are sending contracts to follow up on dates they scheduled last year.

I'm excited about talking to librarians, teachers, and young readers.

This fall is clearly way overbooked, though; something to keep in mind as invitations for next fall start rolling in. I'm going to have to really work for writing time.

Flipping to spring... Spring is not as intense. Perhaps the spring calendar should stay as is. Especially with both WriteFest and ALA in the summer.

Watched "Chasing Liberty" this morning; spent most of the day in T-shirt nightwear featuring gray tabbies that says "Yoga Pawsitions;" hopeful to talk Greg into Chinese food for dinner. (Last night's chicken marsala didn't work out too well).

Thursday, September 23, 2004

Weiner Winner

A fellow Austin children's writer, Alison Dellenbaugh, is one of fifty U.S. winners in an essay contest sponsored by Oscar Mayer in which they will each have a day in the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile. (There were more than 70,000 entries!).

And what did the lovely and brill Ms. Dellenbaugh write about in her essay?

Using the Wienermobile as a bookmobile to go to parks or libraries with her children and crit buddies to giveaway books to kids. The event has been scheduled for Oct. 9.

Woo woo!

Allison has a lovely sweet sparkle; I expect more great things from her in the future.

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Bibliotherapy and Star Wars

I'm pleased to report that I'm back to writing. It's wonderful. I found myself dancing around the kitchen yesterday evening. Not that I don't normally, but... With particular zeal! I plan to curl up this afternoon on the day bed in the sunroom with some tea and turn the TV onto a music channel. Something non-distracting like "atmospheres."

NPR did write again and asked for the name of a librarian to interview about children's self-help books. With rare exceptions, I'm somewhat biased against these books.

For example, I'd rather suggest Molly's Family by Nancy Garden than a more didactic introduction to the idea of two moms because it's the story, writing, quality of the illustrations that make us care about the characters. Molly is our hero, and that makes us more aware, more sensitive than any published lecture of how an intrusive adult voice would frame her family diversity.

Anyway, researching the subject a trusted librarian did assure me that some of the self-help books were good (which I knew, though I thought they were more rare).

So, I gave NPR the names of three ALA uber librarians and contact information for IRA's special interest group on bibliotherapy. (This is not to say the bibliotherapy experts wouldn't use a literary trade book).

Planning to watch "Smallville" tonight in hopes it'll improve, and fascinated to study the DVD release promo for "Star Wars" with Carrie Fisher's Princess Leia clinging fearfully to Chewbacca as the men jump forward with their blasters. It's totally out of character for Leia as portrayed in the films, which is interesting, though Greg reminds me that this was still several years before Sigourney Weaver's Ripley.

I'd like to thank writer/actress Carrie Fisher for making sassy, petite, smart, curvy, long-haired brunette women the ultimate male fantasy for my generation. A lot of us owe you, honey!

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Mystery At The Club Sandwich

New titles include: Mystery At The Club Sandwich by Doug Cushman (Clarion, 2004). It's this sort of Humphrey-Bogart-esque dectective story in black-and-white illustrations about an elephant detective, Nick Trunk, on the case of Lola Gables' lost (lucky) marbles. Very tongue in cheek. Ages 7-up.

Last night Greg and I went out to dinner at Katz's and then to the bar at the Hyatt, mostly because it has a nice lake view through the trees. One thing I love about this city, even at its most famous 24-hour deli, you can still order anything on whole wheat. Ie., lox on a whole wheat bagel with no-fat cream cheese. Delicious. The restaurants and bars on the south side of the lake are less popular because they don't offer the view of the bats available from the north (largely in part to the size and proximity of the Austin American Statesman complex). I don't begrudge them of it though, being a former reporter myself, and besides, my pal and children's illustrator Don Tate works there.

Today I have officially nothing on my calendar, which means I'm pretty busy. I just finished reading and critiquing a friend's middle grade novel manuscript, packaging up a signed book to donate to a fund-raising auction, and pulling together a list of children's books related to various issues in case NPR's All Things Considered wasn't just flirting with me via email and they really do follow up about an interview. What I'm not doing (yet): working on my revision, but the muse has started whispering.

Monday, September 20, 2004

2004 Picture Books

Some highlights from the picture book front lists:

A Woman For President: The Story of Victoria Woodhull by Kathleen Krull, illustrated by Jane Dyer (Walker, 2004). A well-crafted and inspiring picture book biography about the first woman to own a newspaper, speak before Congress, have a seat on the stock exchange, and run for president. Highly recommended. Ages 7-up.

Note: only this past week, I was talking to an education professor about how incredibly few women (and, for that matter, minorities) are on the standards requirements for Texas elementary students. I strongly encourage educators and parents to keep in mind that just because it's not required to introduce a particular historical figure of note by one's state doesn't mean that they can't make the extra effort. This biography is an excellent step toward balancing against the many biases in the system, and it's lovely in its own right.

Cesar Si, Se Puede!/Yes, We Can! by Carmen T. Bernier-Grand, illustrated by David Diaz (Marshall Cavendish, 2004). Written in eloquent palm poems, this picture-chapter book eloquently illuminates the life of Cesar Chavez, Friend of the Farm Workers and American hero. Ages 7-up. Highly recommended.

Note: in South Austin, a mural of Cesar Chavez on the side of a building was defaced some time ago with gray paint, splashed carelessly across his face and the surrounding landscape. It always made me ache as I drove by, wondering who in the predominately Mexican-American neighborhood would do such a thing. Wondering if it was someone inside or outside of that community. Wondering if they had even known who Chavez was or what his life's work had meant. Then one day I saw that someone had spray-painted over the gray paint in red. "Viva Cesar!" they wrote. I don't normally have much patience for folks who get creative with paint on other people's property. But in this case, I'm willing to make an exception.

The Train Of The States by Peter Sis (Greenwillow, 2004). Sis offers a journey from one state to another with each turn of the page, highlighting the official symbols and related facts for each. A must-buy for every elementary library. Ages 5-up.

Note: the dedication is to twenty-two years in the U.S. and at Greenwillow. The latter, in today's volatile publishing climate, is stunning.

For those with an interest in English-Spanish bilingual books, surf over to Raven Tree Press, which among other front list titles is featuring My Pal, Victor/Mi amigo, Victor by Diane Gonzales Bertrand, illustrated by Robert L. Sweetland. I've already featured Diane quite extensively on my Web site. She is a fellow Texas writer though from San Antonio (not Austin, like me). We often see one another at events like the annual TLA conference. I enjoy her company and admire her stories. They are refreshingly inclusive of middle class Mexican Americans. She's a great speaker, too.

And some picture books in my In box, which I haven't yet had a chance to read include: An African Princess by Lyra Edmonds, illustrated by Anne Wilson (Candlewick, 2004); The Groundhog Day Book of Facts and Fun by Wendie Old, illustrated by Paige Billin-Frye (Albert Whitman, 2004); Hana In The Time Of The Tulips by Deborah Noyes, illustrated by Bagram Ibatoulline (Candlewick Press, 2004); Going North by Janice N. Harrington, illustrated Jerome Lagarrigue (FSG, 2004); My Chair by Betsy James, illustrated by Mary Newell DePalma (Arthur A. Levine, 2004); Mary Ann by Betsy James (Dutton, 2004); I Know It's Autumn by Eileen Spinelli, illustrated by Nancy Hayashi (HarperCollins, 2004).

Sunday, September 19, 2004

Banned Books Week

Vote on the top 10 banned books via the Louisville Courier Journal.

Also learn about the Schneider Family Book Award, designed to honor an author or illustrator for a book that embodies an artistic expression of the disability experience for child and adolescent audiences.

The Foot-Stomping Adventures Of Clementine Sweet

THE FOOT-STOMPING ADVENTURES OF CLEMENTINE SWEET by Kitty Griffin and Kathy Combs, illustrated by Mike Wohnoutka (Clarion, 2004). Set in the Texas Hill Country, this tall tale is a winner! Ages 4-up

Parent Wise Austin

Hey Austinites! Is there a children's book you're longing to recommend? Surf over to Parent Wise Austin and tell the world (or at least the World Wide Web).

Intensive Picture Book Workshop

Subscribe to ipb-news, the Intensive Picture Book workshop newsletter, sponsored by author Anastasia Suen. The newsletter features news related to children's/YA publishing and of Anastasia's upcoming classes.

Teddy Award

I'm pleased to announce that Ninjas, Piranhas, and Galileo (Little Brown, 2003) by Greg won the Teddy Award, sponsored by the League of Texas Writers, in the longer-works division and that the other two finalists, My Father's Summers by Kathi Appelt and My Road Trip To The Pretty Girl Capital Of The World, likewise were celebrated. More on each of those great titles:

MY FATHER'S SUMMERS: A DAUGHTER'S MEMOIR by Kathi Appelt (Henry Holt, 2004). Poignant. Powerful. Poetic. Appelt's memoir is her best work to date. Heartfelt and hopeful, she describes the impact of her father's departure, her first kiss, and a surprisingly close connection to a defining day in American history. This book will resonant with young adult and adult readers alike. Five stars. Ages 12-up. Recommendation by author Anne Bustard. This memoir is already getting Newbery buzz.

MY ROAD TRIP TO THE PRETTY GIRL CAPITAL OF THE WORLD by Brian Yansky (Cricket, 2003). In this journey to the self (and from Iowa to Austin), Simon’s struggling to keep things together. He’s skating the law, recently dumped, and dealing with a dad who just doesn’t understand. Overwhelmed, he hits the road to find his biological parents and wisdom about evil advertisers, scary giants, witches, ETs, friendship, nature/nurture, and, well, pretty girls. One part magic, two parts tall tale, this YA debut is one to read and remember. Ages 12-up. This novel was honored earlier this year by the Texas Institute of Letters as the winner of its YA award.

Finalists in the shorter-works division, included an Austinite I was honored to meet for the first time: Karin Cates, author of The Secret Remedy Book: A Story of Comfort and Love (Orchard Books).

A number of additional children's and YA authors attended to show support for the various finalists and celebrate Texas literature, which was quite gracious.
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