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Guess who’s on the Printz 2016 Ballot…

16 Mar

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With Benjamin Alire Saenz at the 2013 Printz Awards Reception.

Some of you may or may not be aware, but I’m on the ballot for the 2016 Printz Committee. I only realized after submitting my information (and reading the profiles of the other fabulous candidates) that I left out some stuff. Therefore, if you’re a member of YALSA, and are planning on voting between March 19 – April 25,  I’d like to share with you a teeny bit more about myself, and why I would be a good fit for the Printz Committee.

I’ve served on several children’s and YA book selection committees since 2009, which include: YALSA’s Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Readers (2009-2011), the ALA Amelia Bloomer Project (2012-present), the 2012 CYBILS Awards (Book Apps category), and the 2013 John and Patricia Beatty Award Committee (California State Library Association). My service on these committees demonstrates my passion for engaging in critical discussions on youth literature, as well as the ability to hear and take into consideration diverse viewpoints. These are vital qualities for selection committee members to have in order to move deliberations into a positive and productive direction.

Much of my professional career has been spent in youth services – I was a full-time teen services librarian until late 2010, when I shifted to a position as a part-time youth services librarian (working with children, tweens, and teens). In this role, I am primarily responsible for selecting picture books, early readers, and juvenile replacement items, and programming and reference for ages 0-12. While we were in the process of recruiting and hiring a new teen services librarian, I was the interim YA selector from August 2013-February 2014. Additionally, I have been an adjunct community college librarian since 2011, serving adult patrons who range from fresh-out-of-high school to non-traditional students returning to the classroom after a long hiatus). My varied work experiences have given me several opportunities to share my expertise in great depth, whether it’s co-planning a quarterly readers’ advisory program with our teen librarian, or teaching college students how to find and organize resources for an upper-division English assignment on fairy tale tropes in young adult literature.

The Printz Award is given to books that embody the highest quality of writing in young adult literature. As a librarian, I always want amazing books to have wide readership, but in the case of the Printz Award, popularity and appeal are not criteria. Friends and colleagues who have served on the Printz Committee say it’s an energizing and impassioned experience–understandably, tensions run high when you’re trying to pick THE BEST book of the year! Beyond that, members must deal with external reactions ranging from elation to downright disappointment–that can be an incredible burden. But I promise you, I AM READY FOR IT.

While YALSA’s Quick Picks committee had me reading and evaluating massive amounts of YA books during a brief window, ultimately our final decisions were heavily informed by teen feedback. In ABP, we solely rely on our professional expertise and deep understanding of feminism (and its constant evolution) to create our selection list. ABP criteria states that “feminist books for young readers must move beyond merely ‘spunky’ and ‘feisty’ young women…feminist books show women overcoming the obstacles of intersecting forces of race, gender, and class, actively shaping their destinies.” The committee votes by consensus, meaning each member who has read the book weighs in–in this respect, each voice is heard, and when opinions strongly differ, committee members strive to find a common ground (which IS NOT always easy).

The most important thing I’d like voters to know about me is that I want to offer a feminist, multicultural perspective to the Printz Committee mix. I cannot overemphasize the significance of honoring books that draw attention to underrepresented areas in teen literature including the experiences of people of color, LGBTQ issues, mental and physical disability, and mental illness.

I also want to add that on the ballot, I left the area under “accomplishments” blank. Therefore, I’d like to share a few professional endeavors of which I’m especially proud:

*Providing an engaging weekly baby story time (“Wee Wigglers”) whose regular attendance has grown from 10 to 50 people in 3.5 years.

*In July 2012, I wrote a successful grant to acquire early literacy iPads for our children’s department.

*Since late 2012, I have co-planned and co-presented Escondido Public Library’s Burritos & Books teen readers’ advisory event, which involves creating a Prezi of titles and trailers, speed booktalking 9-10 (there are 3 of us, so we present between 25-30 titles), and giving away tons of free books.  When we last presented this program (June 2013), we had about 80 attendees!

*In August 2013, I proposed a middle-grade book club called R.E.A.D. (Read, Eat, and Discuss) that garnered a fantastic reception among our tweens. We had about 20 attendees at our first discussion of Raina Telgemeier’s Smile. In April, we’re going to be reading Pickle and skyping with author, Kim Baker!

*Since 2012, I have done an off-site summer reading program for our local Boys & Girls Club where I provide two back-to-back weekly storytimes for about 50 children from ages 3 to 6. It blows my mind when kids remember me from the previous summer!

*One of my longest library-related projects to date has been with the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) Women’s and Gender Studies Section’s Core Books Database – I’ve been the updater of the Transnational Feminism section since 2002 (!).

I’d like to close out this post by saying that it would be absolutely wonderful to serve with all of the candidates running for the 2016 Printz Committee. But I would be remiss if I didn’t mention how one of them, in particular, has had a profound influence on my understanding and appreciation of YA literature. Since 2010, I’ve been reading Kelly Jensen’s outstanding blog, Stacked Books, which is co-written with her friend and fellow librarian, Kimberly Francisco. In addition to writing in-depth and honest reviews, Kelly has shared innumerable fantastic insights on topics related to YA literature, including cover trends, analysis of bestseller lists, and readers’ advisory. There is no doubt in my mind that she would be a stellar addition to the 2016 Printz Committee – please vote for her, too!

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Cybils 2012 Book App Finalists!

6 Jan

The Cybils 2012 Finalists were announced on January 1, 2013. After going through a hefty list of over 80 submissions, the Cybils book apps committee came up with a well-rounded shortlist of five titles representing the year’s best. Getting everyone to agree on a list is generally the hard part, but we had a lot of cogent discussions and were able to come to consensus fairly quickly. It was a privilege to be on this committee, and I learned so much from my fellow colleagues/app-enthusiasts. I can’t wait to see which title will be selected by the Round 2 judges as the top app of 2012!

2012 Cybils Book App Finalists

Bats! Furry Fliers of the Night written by Mary Kay Carson; created by Ellen Jacob; developed by Bookerella and Story Worldwide

Excellent interactive design expertly melded with engaging non-fiction content made Bats! Furry Fliers of the Night! a standout title. Round 1 Panelist Cathy Potter noted, “The vivid animation of bats flying in the night sky coupled with sound effects from nature (bat wings flapping, wind howling, water babbling, and bats screeching) give readers the sense they are watching live bats in the wild.”

I especially liked this app because the 3d animation and the top-notch graphics reminded me of a video game, possibly elevating its appeal among children. Chock-full of interactivity and fascinating facts, this app will be enjoyed multiple times by young readers.

Dragon Brush created by John Solimine and Andy Hullinger developed by Small Planet Digital

Bing-wen, an artistic rabbit living in ancient China, loves painting eagles, tigers, but most especially dragons. Because he and his family are poor, Bing-Wen can’t afford art supplies. But one day, he receives the unexpected gift of a paintbrush made from the whiskers of a dragon. Children will be enchanted by this fanciful story about letting your imagination run wild.

The soft illustrations, painted in a muted, delicate palette reminded me of one of my favorite books from childhood: Tenggren’s Arabian Nights. The folksy, gentle guitar music has a lulling effect, making this an ideal bedtime read. Youngsters will revel in uncovering Bing-Wen’s artful drawings with a few swipes of their fingertips. It’s a big favorite with my sons.

Rounds: Franklin Frog written by Emma Tranter illustrated by Barry Tranter developed by Nosy Crow Apps

Nosy Crow’s non-fiction Rounds apps–Franklin Frog, and the more recent Parker Penguin–focus on animal lifecycles. In fact, the cyclical storytelling in these apps means that there isn’t a true conclusion – reflecting the cycle of life, the story keeps going.

Franklin Frog is a fabulous title brimming with valuable facts about amphibians, their environment, and feeding and mating habits. Child actors with charming British accents narrate the app, making it less didactic and especially accessible. Readers swipe the screen to make Franklin jump, do somersaults, catch tasty flies for lunch, and a whole lot more! Soft illustrations in earth tones, and soothing music add to the gentle ambience of this app.

The Voyage of Ulysses
developed by Elastico Srl

Taking on The Odyssey seems like it would have been an ambitious task, especially when it came to presenting the centuries-old epic in a new light for young readers. But Elastico Srl breathes new life into Homer’s beloved classic in this innovative, gorgeously designed app. Boasting beautiful artwork, clear narration, and stunning interactivity, Voyage of Ulysses had me enamored beyond the first swipe. Round 1 Panelist, Paula Willey wonderfully sums up the value of this app, saying it “succeeds in communicating the themes of loneliness and exile that make Homer’s epic emotionally arresting three thousand years later.”

Where Do Balloons Go? An Uplifting Mystery
written by Jamie Lee Curtis; illustrated by Laura Cornell
developed by Auryn, Inc

Jamie Lee Curtis’s 2000 picture book gets a make-over in this lively app from Auryn, Inc. Curtis’s engaging narration coupled with Cornell’s bright illustrations, not to mention tons of interactive surprises, will engage readers for hours. No, seriously, it will. As if that weren’t enough, there’s a fantastic balloon theatre feature that allows little ones to literally tap into their own creativity and tell their own stories. Round 1 Panelist Carisa Kluver isn’t kidding when she says, “…Don’t read it before bedtime–it’s way too much fun!”

Cybils Awards~Nominate an App TODAY!

11 Oct
This is the second year that Books Apps are being recognized by the Cybils Awards. The Children’s and Young Adult Literary Bloggers’ (Cybils) Awards annually recognize the best in children’s and young adults books.  As I mentioned before, I am a Round 1 panelist for the Book Apps category. Anyone can nominate books (and apps!) between October 1st and October 15th. Time is running out, and there are only 5 DAYS left until public nominations close.

The process to nominate is simple – go HERE to nominate, and enter your favorite titles. All titles nominated must fall within the publication range of October 16, 2011-October 15, 2012.

We currently have approximately 20 excellent book apps nominated, but we would like to see more! Here are some worthy nominations that I hope you’ll consider submitting. If, by the time you read this blog, some of these titles have already been nominated, Kirkus has excellent app recommendations for consideration.
[All quotes and links from Kirkus Reviews]
Mr. Sandman published by Manon Aidan and Yanick Gourville. Illust. by Cyril Jedor
A moody, beautifully rendered dreamscape, this app about conquering a fear of the dark takes full advantage of the iPad’s capabilities.”
Leah & the Owl by Cori Doerrfeld
Because I love owls, of course I had to include this title. 🙂 “Leah’s adventure with the owl is a lovely dream, and so is this whimsical app, which makes the magic feel effortless.”
Hiding Hannah by Mike Johnson. Illust by Melanie McCall
“A child’s frustrating habit of hiding things (including herself) around the house is offset by the cuteness of the hider and the light, playful tone of this app.”
“Ever a guilty pleasure anyway, the popular but violent preschool hand rhyme takes a gothic turn in this startling iteration.”
Sneaky Sam by Josh Stewart. Illust. by Binny Talib
“A brief but endearing tale about a mischievous little boy.This app proves the notion that an interactive storybook need not be super slick or brimming with tricks to leap the “average” bar.”
The House That Went On Strike by Rania Ajami and John Casey. Illust. by Walter Krudop
“In an episode both funny and pointed, a family of slobs receives an ultimatum from their filthy house and its disgusted appliances.”
Even Monsters Get Sick by Michael Bruza
“Zub looks like a bad bargain until his new young owner, Harry, realizes that the monster isn’t sad and boring but actually ill…Children with wheezles and sneezles of their own will sympathize with the droopy monster and perhaps feel a little less anxious about doctor visits, too.”
Where Do Balloons Go? An Uplifting Mystery by Jamie Lee Curtis. Illust. by Laura Cornell
“…The stratospheric level of interactivity transforms the verse into soaring, imaginative exploration”

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Let the fun begin…2012 Cybils!!!

17 Sep

This morning, the 2012 Cybils panelists were announced, and, boy is it exciting! The Cybils are the Children’s and Young Adult Bloggers’ Literary Awards, annually recognizing the best titles in children’s and young adult literature. I’m not exaggerating when I say that the Cybils are akin to the Academy Awards of the children’s/young adult blogging community.

There are several Cybils categories and they include:

I’m please to announce…that I’ve been selected as a Round 1 Panelist for the Book Apps category! Squee!!! I’m so excited to be a part of this particular panel, because one of my favorite things to do is share book apps with my two young sons. Of course, we still enjoy reading picture books, but you can’t deny the magic of a book app. A remarkable app with effective interactive elements has the potential to enhance (not take away from) a beloved print book. In addition, my library was recently awarded a grant to purchase iPads for our children’s room, and we’re looking forward to using them in our programming and services. I. Cannot. Wait!

For the Cybils, there are two rounds of judging, and Round 1 is the preliminary evaluation, occurring between October-December 2012. Round 1 panelists come up with a shortlist of 5-7 titles and submit them to the Round 2 judges at the end of December.  Round 2 judges have the super difficult, but ultimately fun task of picking the winners in February 2013.

Anyone can submit one nomination per genre during the nomination period (October 1-15), using the online form on the Cybils website. Books and apps published between October 16, 2011-October 15, 2012 are eligible for nomination.

Given that so many parents, educators, and librarians are implementing transmedia in their curricula and storytelling, the Book Apps category is such a vital part of the Cybils. As soon as nominations open up, I’m looking forward to hearing about your favorite apps!

Congratulations to my fellow panelists and judges in Books Apps:

Round 1: Carissa, Cathy, Lisa, and Paula

Round 2: Alyson, Sara, Helen, Elisabeth, and Melissa

And a shout-out to our fabulous chair, Mary Ann!

Let the fun begin!

New Header! ALA 2012 re-cap!

30 Jun

As you can see, colors have changed and a new header has made this blog blossom (see what I did there? ;P). My talented friend, Elle, who is an AMAZING graphic designer, worked with me to create a header fitting the theme of this blog, as well as my own personal identity. I couldn’t have imagined something better. She also designed Allison’s header, so if you’re ever in need of a quality re-design for your blog, Elle’s your girl!

Now…on to my ALA 2012 re-cap.

I am always super glad when ALA is local (or semi-local…I still had to drive 50 minutes) – it’s truly a relief when I don’t have to contend with flying, hotel reservations, worrying about luggage limits, etc.  My good friend, Allison was super awesome, and let me crash at her place, for which I’m supremely grateful!

Allison, me, Cindy Pon, and Joanna catching up at the Harper Collins booth.

Friday night was a whirlwind of activity, beginning with a brief foray into exhibits. Immediately upon our arrival, Joanna, Allison, and I ran into one of our favorite writers: Cindy Pon! Cindy wrote the lush, and fully engrossing Kingdom of Xia duology, Silver Phoenix and Fury of the Phoenix.

I ended up picking up most of my ARCS on opening night, and spending time chatting with some lovely folks, including Hannah Ehrlich from Lee & Low. Hannah was extremely gracious and handed me a copy of Diverse Energies a forthcoming dystopian sci-fi anthology featuring amazing writers like Cindy Pon, Malinda Lo, Paolo Bacigalupi, Ursula Le Guin, Greg Van Eekhout, and more! She also gave me Guadalupe Garcia McCall’s new book, Summer of the Mariposas, a Mexican American re-imagining of Homer’s Odyssey – I can’t wait to dig into this one!

Following exhibits, we made our way over to the Hilton where Kellie from Walden Pond Press and MaryAnn Scheuer from Great Kids Books organized a fantastic meet-up to discuss middle grade books. I met so many fabulous writers, publishers, bloggers, and librarians at this event. The best part? I got to finally meet one of my favorite librarians ever from Twitter, Sarah – who is just as charming and hilarious in person!

Lastly, it was on to the House of Blues for Little, Brown’s Dance Party celebrating the forthcoming publication of Libba Bray’s The Diviners.

Libba and I at the LBYR Dance Party ~ in keeping with THE DIVINERS Roaring 20s theme, I’m wearing a flapper headband.

Libba was showcasing her awesome dance moves (she seriously is a great dancer), and I got to talk with her for a brief while, and tell her how terrifying her new book is. She advised me to “sleep with one eye open.” Not helpful, Libba. 😉

Saturday was filled with a host of activities and sessions, beginning with Harper Collins’ Picture Book Breakfast where I got a chance to see some of the newer titles on display – I picked up a couple of books that possibly merited consideration for ALA’s Amelia Bloomer Project: Defiance by C.J. Redwine and Valkyrie Rising by Ingrid Paulson. Following the HC breakfast, I was off to an insightful focus group with Lerner Books where we discussed how libraries currently proceed with collection development for juvenile areas. At the end of the session, we were allowed to choose some books for our libraries~thank you, Lerner Books, for such a wonderful opportunity!

Later that afternoon, I went to a delightful publisher preview by Disney-Hyperion, where they showcased some incredible titles including Matthew Cordell’s new picture book, Hello! Hello!, a timely story about how social media obscures the important things in life. Andrea Davis Pinkney and her husband, Brian Pinkney are collaborating on a stunning picture book featuring vital black men who shaped African-American culture and history. I also discovered that Ms. Pinkey sings beautifully. Mo Willems closed the preview by reading aloud from his new Elephant and Piggie book.

My Saturday wrapped up with the YALSA Happy Hour at Morton’s, arranged by Allison, who served as YALSA’s Local Arrangements Chair. After that, it was a nice dinner with Michelle, Allison, and Melissa. Then we were off to the YA Blogger Meet-up, organized by YA Highway and Kelly Jensen from Stacked Books.

Sunday was equally as busy, and my highlights included the YA Coffee Klatch, a musical-chairs type affair where authors rotate around tables every 5 minutes–truly a blast. We also met up with my friend and co-worker Eveleen at the Scholastic Literary Brunch, where we were treated to tasty quiche and a lively Readers’ Theatre. Things I learned: James Dashner is a fan of Downton Abbey (I know, right?!), and Eliot Schrefer wins the award for cutest “awwww” inspiring moment (the slideshow had a picture of him being cuddled by a Bonobo chimp). Schrefer’s upcoming YA book, Endangered is set in the Congo and features a girl who must save Bonobos when a revolution breaks out. Raina Telgemeier’s forthcoming graphic novel,Drama will draw budding thespians.

Allison, Melissa Wiley, and me, following the Authors are ROCKSTARS! interview.

Following the brunch, I had the opportunity to guest host on Allison and Michelle’s Authors are ROCKSTARS! podcast.  Allison and I interviewed Melissa Wiley about her splendid Martha and Charlotte series of books (about Laura Ingalls Wilder’s ancestors), a mutual love of Betsy-Tacy, her forthcoming books, The Prairie Thief and Fox and Crow Are Not Friends, and juggling motherhood. Lastly, because the kids at my library love her so much, it was even more of an honor to meet Melissa. Afterwards, it was off to the Disneyland Hotel for the Pura Belpre Celebracion where Guadalupe Garcia McCall’s speech moved me to tears.

In the early evening, Joanna, Allison, and I, along with my husband, Bryan, went to an author/librarian/blogger meet-up organized by Sarah Bean Thompson of Green Bean Teen Queen and YA author, Lindsay Leavitt. So. Much. Fun. And I also got to chat more with one of my other literary heroes, Malinda Lo, who wrote the breathtaking Huntress (an Amelia Bloomer 2012 Selection). Then it was off to the Newbery-Caldecott Awards, where Jack Gantos and Chris Raschka gave very heartfelt, moving speeches. This event made me feel very proud to be a children’s librarian. I mean, I grew up seeing those iconic gold seals on the books, and to actually be in a room with all these esteemed authors and librarians was very emotional.

Monday wound down very nicely, including some sessions that revitalized me as a librarian. In particular, the joint ALSC/YALSA program on the Digital Lives of Tweens was INCREDIBLE. We also stopped in on the LibWardrobe session on perception about librarians’ dress, where there was a heated discussion about TLC’s What Not to Wear. The Odyssey Awards were exciting, and if you ever get a chance to attend, I highly encourage it. These awards are given to the best audiobook narrations for children and teens. The day capped off with the Printz Awards. Always the ultimate in my conference experience. Daniel Handler and Maira Kalman regaled us with a special librarian song (including accordion accompaniment!), and Christine Hinwood, Craig Silvey, and Maggie Stiefvater gave gracious, touching speeches. Corey Whaley’s acceptance did not disappoint – it was funny, sincere, and humble.

Angie Manfredi, Allison, Corey Whaley w/his shiny Printz, and me.

And that concludes my ALA re-cap. Phew!