Saturday, January 30, 2010

This is neat!

While googling my book's title (a not-so-secret secret is that authors are prone to doing this at least once a week...), I found The Pout-Pout Fish listed as one of the nominees for the South Carolina 2010-11 Picture Book Award.

The sponsoring organization is the South Carolina Association of School Librarians. I believe that school librarians are a national treasure (and it breaks my heart that more and more schools are eliminating library staff), so it's a deep and true honor to see The Pout-Pout Fish on a nomination list as selected by school librarians. Thank you!


Just an FYI for those of you who are Amazon shoppers: apparently, Amazon and Macmillan are currently in some sort of standoff (can't say I fully understand the details of it, but you can read more about it here). This has resulted in all Macmillan titles (including titles from FSG, publisher of The Pout-Pout Fish) being removed from Amazon.

I don't know if this is just a temporary thing or permanent. But in any case, if you're wanting to shop online, The Pout-Pout Fish continues to be available in many locations (for example, here, here and here). And when it comes to book shopping, don't forget your favorite local bookstore! Everyone there is glad when you stop by.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Great Review for Buffy!

There's a nice NSTA review of Buffy Silverman's Can An Old Dog Learn New Tricks over here. Yay, Buffy!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Michigander Monday: Rhonda Gowler Greene

I'm extremely pleased to welcome Rhonda Gowler Greene to Michigander Monday! Rhonda has written many wonderful books, and I had the pleasure of hearing her speak at an SCBWI-Michigan conference some years back.

Debbie: Rhonda, tell us a little about yourself.

Rhonda: I grew up in southern IL. My family moved to northern KY the summer before my senior year in high school. (Not a fun time to move! But...I met a great guy in KY!) We've been in Michigan 26 years now, so it seems like home sweet home. Out of college, I was an elementary learning disabilities teacher. I then got my Master's to be a school librarian, which is probably what I would be now if I wasn't writing. But, I had 4 kids within 7 years (what was I thinking!) and decided to stay home with them. That's when my interest in writing children's books began. I read a LOT to my kids. Reading great children's books to them fed my desire to write. Getting published wasn't easy though (understatement!). At first I tried my hand at other genres, but then found what I loved writing most-- picture books. I got 220 rejections over 3 1/2 years before that exciting first sale...Atheneum bought Barnyard Song. Then, luckily, I began selling more manuscripts. All my books so far are in rhyme. I love to write in rhyme. I have a music background, minored in music/piano in college, and often think that fuels my love of writing with rhythm and rhyme.

Debbie: And, of course, we want to know all about your latest books!

Rhonda: This spring I have 2 new books coming out-- Mommy is a Soft, Warm Kiss (in March) and Daddy is a Cozy Hug (in May). In each book, I use metaphors--for what a daddy is, and a mommy, during the twelve months of the year. These 2 have taken the longest of any of my books to be published--6 years! I had written a "daddy" story a few years back, and an editor at Little, Brown was interested in it. She asked if I would come up with a "mommy" one too. So I did. She was thinking of making them into a "flip" book. Then that editor left Little, Brown and went to Scholastic. She was still very interested in my stories. So my agent withdrew them from Little, Brown and submitted them to Scholastic. The editor wanted some revisions at that point, which I did. After a few months, she left Scholastic and went to Walker. The manuscripts were withdrawn and resubmitted--again! Finally, I got contracts on them at Walker. That editor then left Walker, but--my stories had a home by then. I had to do more revisions for a different editor there. The books were scheduled to come out in Spring 2009. But in April 2008, I got this email heading in my inbox from my new Walker editor..."Disappointing news." Yikes, my heart dropped. My first thought was that they were not going to even publish the books after all the years of waiting. The email started out: "I'm sorry to have to write and let you know..." I was scared to read the next words. She said the illustrator could not make the art deadline because of unavoidable circumstances--illness and her mother passed away, and so the books would have to be pushed to Spring 2010. Well, yes it was disappointing, but I totally understood. I was just glad the books were still going to be published. And anyway, what was one more year after 5 years of waiting! So this spring--Yeah!--the books will finally be released.

Debbie: Hurrah! What a story in perseverance -- and patience! Other projects on the horizon?

Rhonda: I'm always working on new projects. I just completed a couple of new manuscripts. Fingers crossed!

Debbie: Upcoming appearances?

Rhonda: School visits, both in and out of state. And my daughter's wedding in June!

Debbie: Congratulations to your daughter! Rhonda, how about your favorite places in Michigan?

Rhonda: One of my favorite places in Michigan is inside any bookstore. Book Beat in Oak Park is a gem of one with stacks of books I get lost in. I never go away empty-handed. And, though I don't go real often, it's always a total treat to go to the Detroit Symphony Orchestra downtown. Too, I love Michigan libraries. We have many gorgeous ones! Barnyard Song was the first Michigan Reads pick back in 2004 (I was honored!). When zigzagging all across the state for Michigan Reads, I presented at so very many beautiful libraries. One more favorite-- my husband and I recently bought a second place, a get-away place (only 15 minutes away!). It's in a wooded nature preserve. We love it! I'm looking forward to making a cozy writing room there.

Debbie: Sounds wonderful! Favorite Michigan event or happening?

Rhonda: First snowfall (though I might have a different answer for that one if I was the bundle-up-go-out-in-the-dark-and-freezing-cold-to-shovel person at my house!)

Debbie: A few fun Michigan people we should all know about?

Rhonda: Oakland University professors Linda Pavonetti and Jim Cipielewski. Their 4-week summer graduate class--Authors & Illustrators - Art & Craft--is unique and first-rate. They bring in children's authors and illustrators from all over the country to speak. They include local Michigan ones too. I had dinner with them the night before I spoke to the class. What a fun couple (and who know SO MUCH about children's books)--they're a delight! Also, I'd like to mention Aileen Fisher, whose poetry I admire. Many of her books are dated now, but she won the N.C.T.E. Excellence in Poetry for Children Award in 1978. She was born in the U.P., in Iron River, and grew up there. I wrote to her several years ago (she lived in Boulder, CO then) and I was honored that she wrote back to me. I treasure that letter (and also the one I have from Cynthia Rylant!). Ms. Fisher died in 2002 at the age of 96. A quote from her--"Poetry is a rhythmical piece of writing that leaves the reader feeling that life is a little richer than before, a little more full of wonder, beauty, or just plain delight." I like that.

Debbie: I like that, too! Something you'd like a non-Michigander to know about our state?

Rhonda: We have a National Park, a unique one, Isle Royale. It's way out in Lake Superior, so you can only get there by boat (4-hr. ferry ride) or seaplane. I've seen some amazing Michigan moose there! Also, Michigan has more lighthouses than any other state. My husband and I stayed in a B&B lighthouse way up in Big Bay several years ago. While there, I woke up in the wee hours of the morning to watch the sun rise over Lake Superior. Beautiful!

Debbie: Some residents of Michigan refer to themselves as Michiganders; others Michiganians. For our ongoing vote tally: Are you a "Michigander" or a "Michiganian"?

Rhonda: Michigander. I love when words "sing" and sort of sail on the air. Is pleasing to the ear. I think the word Michigander "sings" and "sails" more than Michiganian. Maybe because it has wings!

Debbie: What a beautiful answer! (And I completely agree.) Rhonda, thank you for being today's Michigander Monday!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

ALA Youth Media Awards - Michigan Winners

Among the many wonderful names on the ALA Youth Media Awards lists announced Monday were several Michigan folks:
  • Wong Herbert Yee's Mouse and Mole: Fine Feathered Friends received a Geisel Award Honor (full Geisel list here)
  • Amy Huntley's The Everafter received a Morris Award Honor (full Morris list here)
  • David Small's Stitches was one of the Alex Award recipients (full Alex list here)
  • Kekla Magoon, not currently of Michigan but born here, received the Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe New Talent Author Award (full Coretta Scott King list here)
Congratulations, all!

A little "behind the scenes" film about the ALA Youth Media Awards is available here (you can live vicariously by listening in on one of the early-morning phone calls!).

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Emma Goldman, Eugene V. Debs, and Me

First review of The Barefooted, Bad-Tempered Baby Brigade is up, at Publishers Weekly. Click here and then scroll down (just past the cat, the mouse, and the manatees).

Monday, January 18, 2010

Michigander Monday: Christine Kole MacLean

I'm pleased to welcome Christine Kole MacLean to our weekly feature on Michigan children's book authors and illustrators.

Debbie: Christine, tell us a little about yourself.

Christine: Nothing like an open-ended question to start things off! I’m the youngest of six kids and I knew early on that to get noticed I was going to have to distinguish myself in some way. I learned to whistle (by sucking my breath in) by the time I was six months old. There you have it—my claim to fame.

Debbie: And, of course, we want to know all about your latest book.

Christine: Mary Margaret, Running Scared is the fifth book in a series for 8- to 12-year-olds. In this one, Mary Margaret develops a fear of the dark right before Halloween, which definitely messes with all her Halloween plans and also with her concept of herself as uber-competent.

Debbie: Other books and projects on the horizon?

Christine: Something Good (Carolrhoda) is a forthcoming picture book about a lost lovey and a found dog but it won’t be out for a few years.

Debbie: Your favorite place in Michigan?

Christine: I’ve given this a lot of thought and the answer I’ve arrived at is the location doesn’t matter as much as that I’m with my friends and/or family. Wherever they are—that’s my favorite place.

Debbie: What a sweet answer! How about something you'd like a non-Michigander to know about our state?

Christine: You can’t see across Lake Michigan, folks.

Debbie: Some residents of Michigan refer to themselves as Michiganders; others Michiganians. For our ongoing vote tally: Are you a "Michigander" or a "Michiganian"?

Christine: I’m not wild about either choice and I’m big on recasting the sentence when I don’t like it, so I just say I’m from Michigan.

Debbie: Fair enough! Christine, thank you very much for being with us here today for Michigander, er, Michigan Monday!

Friday, January 8, 2010

Emily Post in the Ocean

I was browsing news articles and ran across the headline, "Fish Punish Fish for Bad Manners."

My immediate reaction was, "Yeah, and they get down on each other for Bad Attitudes, too!"

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Your Chance At Some Free Books Over on Jay Asher's Blog

Over on Jay Asher's blog, leave your name in the comments section of his "Tangled Everafter" blog post, and you'll be entered for a chance to win...