Hello, Orlando!

ALA HaikuWe’re looking forward to seeing all our library friends later this week at the American Library Association’s Annual Conference, in Orlando. Here’s an overview of what we’ll have to share with you, and an invitation to visit us at Booth 2239, where you know that, no matter who you are, we have smiles and good wishes to share with you.

The exhibits open on Friday, at 5:30. come join the festivities during this ribbon cutting reception! Our booth will be fully staffed all exhibit hours, which are are 9-5 on Saturday and Sunday, and 9-2 on Monday. Ellen, Jackson, and Claire Myrick, Along with Mary Burkey and Sharon Grover,will be on hand, with Francisca tweeting from various corners of the conference and booth events.

Oh, and booth events! We have in-booth signings scheduled throughout the weekend, booksignings adand staff will be participating in other exhibit happenings as well, including the Paizo
program in the Gaming Parlor, Saturday at 10:30, and a program focusing on diversity at 3 that afternoon.

Oh, and the books! We’ll be showing and talking about new titles from AMMO, Two Little Birds, Scotland’s Floris from Steiner, Flying Start, and Free Spirit Press; from Gannon& Wyatt, New Zealand’s Gecko Press, and Karadi Tales, Canada’s Pajama Press, Dutch publisher Lemniscaat; from No Starch Press, Phaidon, Tilbury House, and Tiger Tales. Then there are the audio publishers: L. A. Theatre Works, Live Oak Media, and Brilliance Audio, along with the Sound Learning literacy program from the Audio Publishers Association. Amazon imprints Thomas & Mercer, Lake Union, and Montlake Romance Authors, all for adults, and Two Lions, for kids, will also be at our fingertips–and could be at yours.

Follow us on Twitter @pubspotlight throughout the conference. Our first tip as you pack is to be sure to bring rain gear as showers and thunderstorms are predicted, right now, for every day of the conference.

And bring a smile and a hello! We know Orlando needs both right now and we always enjoy them ourselves and bet you do, too!

 

Hello, Texas!

We’re here at the Texas Library Association’s 2016 conference and having a blast (now that the rain has stopped)! Among some of new finds you can make at Booth 1630 are both children’s and adult graphic novels from a variety of publishers, including TOON, Papercutz, Fantagraphics, and NBM. Thanks to Diamond Bookshelf and IDW, we also have the new-to-America–and we think an award-winner here as well as in Europe–Paracuellos, by Carlos Giménez, which earned him the Heritage Award at the Paracuellos1_revAngoulème Festival in 2010. This is a memoir about a place and period American readers rarely meet in books: life in an orphanage during Franco’s dictatorship over Spain.

COVERLAYOUT.inddNBM, a comics publisher with a long and deep track record of providing North Americans with literary graphic novels, is just now releasing Guardians of the Louvre, acclaimed manga artist Jirô Taniguchi’s beautiful and compelling fantasy that seamlessly twines together many of the treasures in the Paris museum, and its environs, with the experiences of a lonely young tourist from Japan. I couldn’t put this one down from the moment I opened its beautiful watercolor-reminiscent right to left layout pages and met the young man as he, in turn, meets a variety of great figures from art’s history, including a countryside chat with Van Gogh and a tour of World War II’s art rescue history with the Winged Victory of Samothrace. Pair this one with Anthony Doerr’s 2015 Alex Award winning All the Light We Cannot See to bring vivid life to art history.

We have many other comics and graphic novels for you as well! Come visit–oh, and you might want to enter to win a whole basket of beautiful goodies!

A monstrously good read

Screen Shot 2016-03-08 at 8.52.55 AMTucking into Steven T. Seagle and Jason Adam Katzenstein’s Camp Midnight (Image Comics, 2016) offers a trip through those late tween/early teen years when, yes, everyone–except you–is a monster, adults are clueless, and even the ghost of childhood has its problems if you hang out with her too long. The action-packed and expressive panels fairly pop with morphing personalities as the mean girls go witchy and the cute boy turns into a hairy wolf. The palette is vivid and offers another layer of that too-bright feeling with which a good dose of hormones can shock your pubescent system.

Screen Shot 2016-03-08 at 9.00.31 AMThe storyline features Skye, truculent about everything in her life and especially her divorced dad’s new wife and the camp where they’ve dared to send her for the summer. Screen Shot 2016-03-08 at 8.54.04 AMRun by a witch, who turns out to be both wise and kind, and literally overrun by kids who aren’t afraid to show their “true”–emerging–selves, Skye deals with being out of her depth by whining, screaming, and, eventually, taking up the challenge to grow up.

This one’s perfect for both middle schoolers and anyone who is willing to revisit that stage in life to get a funny, articulate handle on the sheer and terrifying messiness of it all. For the former group, there’s reassurance, and for the rest of us, an easy to swallow dose of sympathy-building memories.

And oh yeah, it’s coming to us for Free Comic Book Day, this year on 7 May, so there are positively no excuses for not getting yourself a copy!

Rediscovering local history

Cathy Forde, who’s both popular with readers ages eight to twelve, and  with literary Screen Shot 2016-03-01 at 4.37.54 AMcritics, may be best known in the US for Fat Boy Swim and The Drowning Pool. In 2001, she published Think Me Back, which I frankly can’t remember happening across here across the pond.

Instead of living a life of reader regrets, however, I’m delighted to discover The Blitz Next Door, which is a revision and republication of that 2001 title, wonderfully immediate and so gentle in its updating of details marking the present that I know it had to be Floris Books behind this 2015 Kelpies edition. Let me share it with you:

 

You can visit our Activities pages to find some discussion and engagement support for including this novel in book discussions and other programs.

Booktalk transcript

The Blitz Next Door, by Cathy Forde, for readers 8-12

Pete is far from thrilled to arrive in in Clydebank, Scotland, far away from home in London: he’s had to leave his best friends, his baby sister is cranky and colicky, his mother is depressed, and Dad seems way more interested in pleasing his new boss than making sure his family gets comfortable.

The house is nice, though: way bigger than their London flat, and Pete gets his own room. However, it’s not enough, apparently, that Pete’s sister is crying; on the other side of the wall in Pete’s new room, there’s another crying girl, too, only she talks as well, telling her mum that she really won’t get packed and ready to move. And sometimes she plays the recorder.

When Pete’s dad shows him the old air raid shelter in the garden, and tells Pete he can have it for his own den, Pete’s thrilled. Looking back at his new home, above the crater near the air raid shelter, however, he realizes that … there can’t be a girl next door because there is no next door. The bomb that made this crater 75 years ago demolished that house. So where is that weeping girl? And who is she?

Soon enough, Pete has a new friend, a neighborhood boy named Dunny who shares his passion for football. He seems to have another new friend as well. The girl in the house that isn’t there any longer next door appears in the air raid shelter, come to write in her journal, which Dunny himself found before Pete’s arrival in Clydebank, or to play with the boys’ football figurines when they aren’t around. But Pete sees her, and even talks with her.

How can that be? How can there be a house where there is no house, a girl who would have to now be an old woman, if she survived the bombing?

Pete’s story is vivid and studded with just enough historical facts to send readers scrambling to read more about the World War II bombing known as the Clydebank Blitz, on March 13, 1941, and other events that truly do echo into the 21st century. Pete and the girl, Beth, do have a connecting point in the present as well, and that allows them to bring her haunting of her old and ruined home to rest.

A note about the second edition: This story easily works 15 years after its original publication. Gentle editing to add such details as Pete’s preoccupied father as texting when he might better be conversing with his wife or his son make it feel very much of the moment. With this being the 75th anniversary of an event that killed over 500 Scottish civilians, damaged or destroyed about 12,000 houses, and left 35,000 homeless, yet still escaping much notice except locally even today, it offers a great opportunity to jumpstart studies of local history.

The Blitz Next Door, by Cathy Forde, is published by Kelpies, a Floris Books Imprint, 2015. Originally published 2001 as Think Me Back and available in paperback and e-book. It’s 172 pages.

No Starch Press Bundle Giveaway

Celebrating Digital Learning!

Teaching elementary school-aged children to understand computer code and functions can be challenging, especially when textbooks lack the creativity necessary to hold a child’s attention. No Starch Press offers a solution to all that confusing classroom tech talk! Known for its vast array of creative learning and STEM titles,No Starch Press has six titles that stand out for teaching children how to code, program, and understand computer language engagingly. Now you have a chance to add these titles to you classroom or library!

One first prize winner will be receiving the No Starch Press bundle including all six titles mentioned below for their classroom or library.

Six runners-up will be receiving one randomly selected title from a second bundle of the same No Starch Press books.

Each of these titles would be a wonderful addition to any classroom or school library!scratchjr_cover-front_revised

Scratch Jr teaches children how to understand Scratch, the most popular and FREE language for children. More fun than instructional, this title keeps kids interested and learning for hours as they sort color blocks of code to create their own interactive games!

scratch2_frontcover_web
Super Scratch: Programming Adventure
introduces a newer version of Scratch to students. With this title, kids have countless opportunities to learn new programming concepts by using the software to create interactive games and animations.

PFK_frontcoverPython for Kids is creatively developed to teach children how to use Python easily and without getting bored or discouraged. Puzzles and games are included at the end of each chapter to help students solidify what they’ve just learned as well as reward them for getting through a whole lesson.

jsfk_cover-front_finalJavaScript for Kids is made for computer whiz students who already understand the function of code on standard CPU’s, but are curious about the workings of internet programming and what goes on behind website homepages. With this book, kids will get the chance to create interactive webpages, learning from fun step-by-step examples.

teachKids_front_new-newTeach Your Kids to Code is parent-friendly, written specifically for parents and teachers involved in helping children learn the ins-and-outs of coding. It’s a must-have for any programming instructor whose greatest challenge is teaching grade-level students how to understand programming science.

rubyWiz_frontcoverRuby Wizardry helps students’ grasp the Ruby programming language. Wizards, dragons, and two young heroes guide readers through the book, until the students themselves are able to create their own characters and stories using the Ruby software.

Here’s how you can enter!

  • You must be either a teacher or a librarian located within North America
  • All prizes must be used for school and library use only—they are not intended for personal use
  • You must submit the form by midnight (central time) Wednesday, March 9th
    • Click here (you will be redirected to the form on our Facebook page)

Winners will be announced on Friday, March 11th. Give us a shout-out on your own social media outlets, and tag us to double your chances to win! Good luck everyone!

Planting Seeds of Greatness

by Veronica Crisler, Myrick Marketing and Media Intern

Planting Seeds of Greatness, a month-long global campaign, encourages people to start thinking about the world around them and to use their talents to help build a better future for others. It’s a gentle push to help one another enact change on a global scale.

Sometimes promoting greatness in the lives of children happens through the simple act of handing them an outstanding book to read. Pajama Press, actively advocating social justice through their children’s books, brings to the table two heartwarming stories to plant seeds of greatness in the minds of young readers worldwide.

In a Cloud of Dust, written by Alma Fullerton and illustrated by Brian Deines, tells the story of Anna, a young girl growing up in Tanzania who is dedicated in her studies. 51PQMyrVm8L._SX449_BO1,204,203,200_Each day, Anna and her classmates are pressed to find enough time to complete their school day before having to walk miles home before the sun sets. When a man from the bicycle library visits the school yard, each child has the opportunity to rent a bike, except Anna, who is the very last in line. Though she has the longest distance to walk home, Anna remains cheerful and passes her knowledge of bicycles on to her friends.

This vividly portrayed and gracefully scripted story empowers children to become more aware of the circumstances of people around them, encouraging them to share knowledge and time without expecting anything in return. Anna’s story shows how one idea can help change a multitude of lives.

Be sure to take a look at our activity page here to expand on this book in programs and classes. Also, check out some of the organizations that donate and distribute bicycles in developing countries like Tanzania.


Elephant Journey
, written by Rob Laidlaw and illustrated by Brian Deines, is the touching story of three captive elephants living in the Toronto Zoo. When it’s clear that their health is suffering from the foreign living arrangements and climate, people across Canada and the US begin protesting the mistreatment of these quiet creatures. After two years of petitioning for the elephants to be transferred to the PAWS sanctuary, the City Council is able to make the correct arrangements.

A long, treacherous journey awaits the three gentle giants before their arrival in California. With the help and determination of kind and sensitive people, they safely make it to their new home: a vast 51NOov1-BJL._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_sanctuary filled with lush foliage, warm weather, and plenty of space to roam.

Author Rob Laidlaw is the founder of Zoocheck, a wildlife protection charity that promotes and protects the interest and well-being of wild animals. Check out more books by Rob and Pajama Press promoting animal protection and care.

Everybody has seeds of greatness inside. When was the last time you shared a book encouraging those seeds to grow and flourish? We’d love to know!

 

Welcome to Boston and #alamw16

ALA Jan 2016 20x2 banner

We’re traveling to Boston today and looking forward to seeing all of you attending the American Library Association’s 2016 Midwinter meeting there!  You’ll find us at Booth 1917 in the Exhibits…and why would you want to find us? Because:

We’re bringing cool new picture books, comics, and books for older youth from a variety The_Boy_Who_Drew_Catsof quality publishers, including Pajama Press (Canada), Leminscaat (Netherlands), Gecko (New Zealand), Floris Books (Scotland), Karadi Tales (India), Udon Entertainment (Canada/Hong Kong), and, from the United States, Diamond, Tilbury House, Gannon & Wyatt, Namelos, No Starch, and Two Lions.

We’ve got audiobooks and audiobook programming information from Oasis, AudioFile Magazine, and the Audio Publishers Association’s literacy initiative, Sound Learning APA.

EMMA_SC_FRONT_Fin1We’re hosting signings by Rebecca Emberley, Bill Thomson, Licia Morelli and Jennifer E. Morris, and Susan Schwake.

We have a librarian staff who know books, audiobooks, and kids.

Plus, we are a lot of fun and generous, too…hmm, prizes anyone?

A special book to share this Christmas

Screen Shot 2015-12-22 at 3.06.00 PMOne of our wonderful publishers has a holiday book we hope you’ll find time to share next weekend.  And to make that easier for you, Jessica has designed some activities to go along with reading and looking at the wonderful illustrations in Tom’s Christmas Fish, from Floris Books.

Set in Prague, this is a story combining both the sweetness of the season with the very real bittersweet need to recreate holiday rituals when we lose family members. This is a book to read again and again, and although it’s a Christmas story, neither the season nor the specific cultural system is necessary to appreciate how Tom and his grandfather celebrate together what they once they celebrated with others.

Catch up with Evie Brooks on her blog tour

MaroonedinManhattan_Softcover_Apr28.inddSheila Agnew’s delightful character, Evie Brooks, has been on a blog tour (with Sheila) this week. If you haven’t had a chance to meet Evie, you can catch up with her–and Sheila–at these three generous bloggers’ sites:

GeoLibrarian Heidi

Caught Read Handed’s Stefani interview

Roarbots hosting of Sheila Agnew on “Writing for Children”

Do you have a favorite author or illustrator you hope we can take on a blog tour of your favorite kids books blogs? Let us know!

Have you ever looked at our Book Activities?

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Here’s a sample….

What the book’s about

The legends relating  creation and prehistory that are passed between Inuit generations are collected into a picture book in both English and Inuktitut, displaying the images of a highly regarded First People’s illustrator.

Two Activities for ages 7 up, by Francisca Goldsmith

Activity 1: Origin Stories

Readers select one of the brief stories in the collection and retell it two ways.

Supplies

Writing equipment with which readers are accustomed to working

Activity

After reading the collection and having the opportunity to revisit legends that struck particular chords with each reader, each youth composes two reflective narratives.

The first narrative is a an original retelling of a legend from the reader’s own culture that treats the same theme as the one selected from the book, such as the characters who might be creating the sounds of nature or giant animals that are mistaken for places.

After sharing these narratives, each reader returns to the original legend in the book and, using her own cultural narrative of the same theme, weaves an original story using details from both cultures into a longer short story.

Note: For groups in which speakers and readers of languages besides English are participating, encourage work in multiple languages.

Activity 2: Storyboarding the Tale

Readers select one of the legends and, using the illustration as a guide, create a multi-paneled interpretation.

Supplies

  • Drawing paper or bristol board, depending on group’s expertise
  • Pencils and, where appropriate, inking pens

Activity

Each reader selects a legend to use as the foundation for his project.

Storyboard the sequence of events as they are told in the text, using the accompanying book illustration as a guide to attributes not described by the text, such as clothing and shapes of the landscape and the characters.

Stories, combining text and images that reveal more content about mood, activity, and consequences, can range from four to ten or more panels depending on the degree of experience and engagement with cartooning work of the group members.

Note: For storyboarding support templates, see Comics Pages from Printable Paper (printablepaper.net/category/comics).

A note about using picture books with older readers

This book is an excellent example of how rich the experience of encountering a picture book can be for older readers. This is an authoritative look into an indigenous culture, recounted and depicted by members of it rather than by outsiders. Because the content is fairly slim, we have the basic concepts and rhythms and the opportunity to expand and build out from these seeds.

To have the text presented in the language and the lettering of its origin is also important and invites discussion of how translation and interpretation can be highly complex. Consider using this book, and these exercises, in teacher training as well as with youth.