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Month: July 2014

  • Happy Birthday, Harry Potter!

    Harry Potter Party, anyone?

  • ‘The Day the Crayons Quit’ Movie is Coming!

    “The book tells the story of a box of crayons whose inhabitants decide to go on strike after growing sick and tired of how they’re being used. Among the lead …

  • See a Cut Scene From the ‘Divergent’ Movie!

    In total, two deleted scenes will be included in the Blu Ray and DVD. Those items will be released on August 05, 2014. Watch the video below! (CinemaBlend.com)

  • Industry Q&A with publisher Christy Ottaviano

    Please tell us about the most recent diverse book you published.

    imageI recently published Jumped In by Patrick Flores-Scott.  This novel is about Sam, a teen who’s in a depressed state due to the breakdown of his family.  He’s pretty much getting by in life by being a slacker, always remaining under the radar so he can fade into the background.  But then he’s paired in English class with the much feared Luis, a Latino who is said to be in a hardcore gang.  Together the two team up in a poetry slam contest and emerge, after much introspection and hard work, as very capable, talented students.  It’s a book about breaking boundaries and stereotypes, as well as friendship, tragedy, and the power of words.

    What is one factor holding you back from publishing more diverse books?

    Nothing is holding me back from publishing diverse books — it’s very much something that I feel passionate about doing.  I don’t feel I see enough submissions about diverse characters just living in the world and experiencing life through strong storytelling.  In other words, submissions where the story is the story and the characters just happen to be Latino or African American rather than their diversity driving the storyline.  I tend to see more agenda-oriented books on the topic and these can be harder to position and market, and are often less appealing to young readers. 

    Who would you consider to be a diversity pioneer in children’s and/or young adult literature?

    The list is long but these authors jump to mind: Ezra Jack Keats, Donald Crews, Ashley Bryan, Walter Dean Myers, Jerry Pinkney, Francesca Lia Block (LGBT) — are all diversity pioneers, but thoroughly accomplished authors like Dinah Johnson, Hope Anita Smith, and, of course, Kadir Nelson continue to create important books that help extend the diversity reach.

    If you have an author who wants to write about characters outside of his/her own background, how do you generally handle that?

    imageLast year I published When We Wuz Famous by Greg Takoudes. This book is about a Latino teen living in Spanish Harlem who gets a scholarship to a prep school and thinks it will be his ticket to a better life.  Once at school, he realizes that racial stereotypes are nearly impossible to break and before he knows it, his once bright future is shattered. 

    The author Greg Takoudes is not a Latino nor did he grow up in Spanish Harlem.  But he did attend boarding school on a merit scholarship and knows that world well.  Greg is also an indie filmmaker and spent many months prior to writing the book, filming the movie with a cast of unknowns all living in the hood.  He became immersed in the story of his characters and gained first-hand research from working so closely with the Latinos in the film. 

    I realize most authors are not also filmmakers but I find that authors who want to write about characters outside their own background are usually fascinated with the research and try to experience as much as they can of the group they are writing about in order to bring the story to life.  I encourage this kind of research by immersion if it will help bring an author closer to his characters and world.

    Tell us about your editing process. When you edit cross-culturally, how do you ensure that the book gets a culture with which you might not be as familiar “right”?

    I think it’s important to do a good deal of research as an editor in the same way an author does research when writing a book.  When editing books where I’m not as familiar with the culture, I tend to do everything I can to immerse myself in that world by way of extensive research (reading about and watching films related to the culture, speaking with others who have first-hand experience with that community, even listening to the music associated with that world).  Like so many authors, I love research so it becomes both a necessary task as well as a fun one; the goal being to help the author bring as much authenticity as possible to the telling. Ultimately, I welcome brilliantly written coming of age stories both historical and contemporary that highlight a different part of the world, culture, or life experience. Books of this kind can only lead to reader discovery.image

    If you could receive a manuscript about one culture or subculture that you don’t normally see, what would it be?

    I’m fascinated with Asia and just don’t see enough submissions about characters from this part of the world.  A number of years ago I published Revolution is Not a Dinner Party by Ying Chang Compestine. It’s a memoir about her youth growing up during the cultural revolution in China under Mao’s rule.  I welcome more coming of age stories both historical and contemporary that are set somewhere in Asia.


    imageChristy Ottaviano is Publisher of Christy Ottaviano Books, an imprint of Macmillan Children’s Group. Her imprint focus is on books that encourage imagination and free-thinking and speak directly to young people’s interests as they explore various milestones.

  • Watch ‘The Maze Runner’ Trailer Here!

    The upcoming adaptation of James Dashner’s bestselling young adult book will be released on September 19, 2014. The film stars Dylan O’Brien as the lead protagonist Thomas. Watch the trailer …

  • Kate DiCamillo Wins ‘Voice of the Heartland’ Award

    In their statement about the win, the judges said that Kate “has demonstrated a passion for writing and a commitment to literature since she moved to Minneapolis in the 1990s. Thirty …

  • Little Five Star Seeks Sponsors to Help Give Every Third Grader in Arizona a Copy of ‘Arizona Agriculture: Bee’s Amazing Adventure’

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CHANDLER, AZ (July 24, 2014)— Arizona-based publisher Little Five Star, a division of Five Star Publications, Inc. has launched a campaign to give every third grade student …

  • Penguin Young Readers Group Launches Pre-Publication Marketing Campaign For New Stephanie Perkins Book

    In addition, Perkins has put together a special tote bag of goodies that will be awarded to twenty-five winners from each store. To entice readers even further, a five-chapter excerpt …

  • Happy Birthday, Sharon Creech!

    “When I was young, I wanted to be many things when I grew up: a painter, an ice skater, a singer, a teacher, and a reporter. It soon became apparent …

  • SCBWI Announces 2014 Book Launch Award Winners

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASEJuly 28, 2014 SCBWI ANNOUNCES 2014 BOOK LAUNCH AWARD WINNERS The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators is pleased to announce the winners of the 2014 SCBWI …

  • Scholastic to Publish ‘Bone’ Tribute Edition with New Art From Creator Jeff Smith, Plus More Than 15 Top Artists

    SAN DIEGO, CA — Scholastic, the global children’s publishing, education and media company, will publish BONE #1: Out from Boneville, The Tribute Edition on February 24, 2015. This special edition of the first …

  • R.L. Stine & Marc Brown Team Up For ‘Little Shop of Monsters’ Picture Book

    This project marks Stine’s debut as a picture book author. Liza Baker, an executive editorial director at Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, managed the acquisitions process and obtained world …

  • Expert Argues That Profanity Is No Reason to Remove LGBT Coming-of-Age Novel From Cape Henlopen High School Summer Reading List

    NEW YORK, NY — NCAC’s Kids’ Right to Read Project and other organizations concerned about free speech and education have enlisted the aid of noted children’s literature expert Pat Scales to …

  • “So, What District Are You In?”: Stuff YA Readers Say

    Share your favorite things that YA readers say by tweeting @this_is_teen using #IreadYA.

  • Effingham County Students Make Dramatic Reading Gains in 2013-14 School Year

    Springfield, GA – Students in Effingham County’s READ 180® classrooms made dramatic gains in reading in the 2013-14 school year, with nearly half of them advancing the equivalent of two years …

  • How To Create Safe Space From Slut-Shaming: A Librarian’s Guide

    “As people who work with youth, we must continually examine our culture and engage with teens to break down these harmful stereotypes. One way to do this is through collection …

  • CBC Diversity: Subjective Reality

    Full disclosure up front: this is a post that asks more questions than it has answers.

    I was speaking with a librarian the other day who told me that one of her challenges was handling the myriad restrictions parents put on their kids’ reading. In one specific case a mom complained about a middle grade novel that discussed how to tell the gender of one of the character’s pets. The parent felt this type of discussion was inappropriate. Of course it is important to be sensitive to a parent’s wishes when it comes to their children, and it brought into stark relief the difficult task that both teachers and children’s librarians have in recommending books to their students and patrons.

    But my immediate reaction upon hearing that story was disbelief: surely, biology was not an off-limits topic in middle school? And the immediacy of my reaction forced me to face my own prejudices.

    Although I was raised in a conservative Muslim family, there was one thing that was never policed in my household, and that was books. Maybe this was partly self-preservation on the part of my parents. As one of five kids, there was no way they would be able to keep up with helicoptering all of us. And maybe it was also a function of how we were being educated. My parents sent us to a Catholic school because they wanted remembrance of God to part of our daily life, and taught us our own faith through active discussions of the differences and similarities between what we were learning in school, and what we believed at home. I got used to learning all things comparatively, comfortable in the gray areas, and my knee-jerk assumption is that this is the best way to teach kids.

    It’s not. Of course it’s not. It’s just one way.

    What does this have to do with diversity in children’s literature? I think a lot about how individual kids are, and how what’s an appropriate book for one kid would not be suited for another, just based on their level of maturity and reading comprehension. But there is another element at play, and that is parents.

    To state the obvious, not all parents are the same. But most do share one common goal: to protect their children. Sometimes that means protecting their kids from the very stories I believe are the most important to share. They want to create a reality for their kids that is in keeping with their worldview. They want to create a strong foundation of family values. This means reading books that are mirrors not windows. And that is where things get tricky. I don’t have the answer to this but it’s something I’ve been thinking a lot about—at what age does protecting your kids become a form of censorship in itself?

  • ‘Who Was…?’ Wrap Your Head Around History!

    NEW YORK, NY — Since its launch in 2002, Grosset & Dunlap’s Who Was…? series has sold more than twelve million books, making it the most popular biography series for children. …

  • Your Favorite Quinquagenarian Books

    These books got away with stuff that likely wouldn’t fly now (Veruca Salt being sent down the ‘bad’ egg chute to almost certain death, anyone?). PC or not, they’ve all …

  • Vote for the Fairest Book of Them All!

    Everyone is invited to submit nominations and vote for the “Beauty and the Book” award, which is the Stiftung Buchkunst and Frankfurt Book Fair’s international audience prize for the best-designed …

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