Monthly Archives: March 2010

Out of the mouths of babes

Today my post is not about what I’m reading, or about my writing, or anything to do with my journey toward publication.  No, today I will write about the things children say and where they say them.

Last week I took my four year old son to story time at our local public library, as I do every Wednesday.  At our story time, the librarian reads three or four books that center on a particular theme, like apples and pumpkins, or clothing, or animals, or kids’ bodies and movements.  In between books she makes the kids stand up and sing or do a finger play.

We got through the first two books without incident, beyond his usual wiggling around in my lap, walking in circles around me, hugging me from behind.  Then Ms. Leslie read Wiggle by the wonderful Doreen Cronin, in which a dog narrates this picture book about wiggling the various parts of your body.  Can you see where this is going yet?

In between wiggling where your tail would be and wiggling your hair, my precious little boy, my baby, stated in a loud, high-pitched voice, “Wiggle your penis!”

Yes, everyone heard.

Ms. Leslie gave a nervous giggle before continuing the story.  No one else said a word.  Unbelievably, no child laughed or commented or asked, What is a penis?

And my little guy?  He turned in my lap to smirk at me and then buried his face somewhere between his chest and mine.

I have never dashed out of story time so quickly before.  Will we be welcome next time?

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Filed under The rest of my life

State of the Reader

Today I’m feeling blown away by children’s literature.  There is just so much great stuff out there and I’m honored to have the opportunity to read it.  Obviously, I hope someday to be more part of it than I am now.  But for now, while I toil away in solitude, I surround myself with wonderful books, of all genres, for all ages.

Since beginning to write MG and YA, I’ve read so much of it, and as a result, my favorite genres have changed.  I didn’t think I was a fantasy (especially dystopian) reader, but Suzanne Collins, Sarah Rees Brennan, Lesley Livingston, Scott Westerfeld and Kristin Cashore have changed my mind.  I didn’t think I was a chick-lit/romance (as a sub-genre) reader, but I have enjoyed Maureen Johnson’s Scarlett and 13 Little Blue Envelopes books.  I didn’t think literary fiction was my thing, but Sara Zarr is just plain awesome.  There are plenty of other authors who have inspired my reading and writing (Libba Bray, Gennifer Choldenko and Rebecca Stead jump to mind).  I just can’t fit them all in here right now.  And new authors debut all the time.

I am so glad that I will never have to be without a good book!

This is also a good opportunity to offer public thanks to all the librarians in my life.  Ms. Leslie keeps my littlest guy entertained.  Sarah S. keeps my older son in good books, and gives me great opportunities to help out at the school library.  Elizabeth P. and Jennifer D. support my research, reading and writing in multiple ways.  And the reference librarian at my local public library kept bringing me books even while I sat among the stacks, pulling things off shelves.  And it was in one of those books that I found the exact photo I was looking for of the Paris Opera in 1895.

Not only do kids and teens need authors like those mentioned above.  They also need the dedicated librarians who keep abreast of the latest books and make sure those books are available to their youngest readers/patrons.

So what are some of your favorite books, Dear Readers?  And who would you like to thank for making you the reader and/or writer you are today?


Filed under Reading, writing

Need a good book?

I haven’t posted any YA or MG recommendations in a while, so here are some books I really enjoyed recently.

Jay Asher’s Thirteen Reasons Why:  A teen boy receives a box of tapes in the mail from a classmate who had recently committed suicide.  On each side of a tape, the girl tells a piece of what led her to end her life.

Not only does it have a good voice, it has two good voices – the main character’s and the girl on the tapes.  This book was so gripping despite the dark subject matter.  I skipped my one workout a week to finish this book while sitting in my car outside my son’s preschool.  And it reminds us how fragile the teen psyche can be.

Gaile Parkin’s Baking Cakes in Kigali:  I am a huge fan of the #1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series by Alexander McCall Smith, and I spent time in Rwanda.  So I had to read this book.  I expected to hate it, honestly.  I expected either the author to get it wrong or for it to be too similar to my own work-in-progress.  Neither was the case.  This story was very funny and touching and I could hear the voices of my African friends in the characters. 

Although not YA, there is no reason a teenager couldn’t like this book.  A Tanzanian cake maker living in Rwanda with her university professor husband and their grandchildren gets involved in the lives of everyone around her, locals and ex-pats, young and old.

Nova Ren Suma’s Dani Noir:  A tween girl drowns her sorrows over her parents’ divorce at the local movie theater, watching her favorite femme fatale, Rita Hayworth, and by getting overly involved in a love triangle.  Usually I’m all about plot, but in this book I didn’t want the story to end because  I loved Dani’s voice.  Just the right amount of heart and snark for her age without alienating the reader.

Libba Bray’s Going Bovine:  The 2010 Printz Award winner delivers the best teen boy voice I have ever read in fiction.  The main character, suffering from mad cow disease, takes the reader on an unforgettable journey that includes a happiness cult, spring break in Daytona, “the happiest place on earth”, a yard gnome, a hypochondriac little person and a pink-haired, fishnet-wearing angel.  A crazy combination?  Maybe.  But it all works, because everything is connected.


Filed under Reading

Fantabulous Followers Contest

Just in time for today’s blog post, I gathered this information about a fantabulous contest, hosted by young adult authors, Suzette Saxton and Bethany Wiggins.

The grand prize is a 40-page submission and critique by literary agent Suzie Townsend of FinePrint Literary. Yes, Suzie Townsend will not only read 40 pages of your manuscript, she will critique them!

Click the fantabulous contest link above for information on the other prizes and how to enter.

In addition, young adult author, Elana Johnson, has book giveaways galore on her site, also in honor of her fantabulous followers.

So, go be a fantabulous follower, win some books, or a critique/submission, and learn a lot of great info about YA books and authors.


Filed under writing

My First Blog Award

Thank you so much to blogger, writer and humanitarian, Laura Diamond, for choosing me to receive the Creative Writer Award for my blog.

If you know of other blogs maintained by writers that you think are worthy of a Creative Writer Award, please let me know in the comments. I’d be happy to pass on the love!

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