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Wild ThingsToday I’m thrilled to welcome two authors (and bloggers) whom I’ve admired for years, Betsy Bird and Julie Danielson. When I started blogging back in 2008 they had both been involved in the children’s literature world for years and were highly respected for their knowledge as well as their ability to find the absolute best books.  So, needless to say, when I was approached to share a post from the pair as well as feature their new book, Wild Things! Acts of Mischief in Children’s Literature, I was thrilled! Enjoy their words of wisdom now and be sure to stick around to win a copy of this incredible book for your library as well!

Mention children’s literature to even the most jaded and sophisticated adult, and you sometimes get an “awww!” in response, as if the topic immediately conjures up cute, fluffy bunnies and gumdrops alike. This response, one that generally romanticizes and sentimentalizes children’s literature, is a curious phenomenon. Part of our aim in writing Wild Things! Acts of Mischief in Children’s Literature was to explore the edgier side of children’s books – the books themselves (we three authors are fans of more subversive books), as well the lives of those who wrote and illustrated them. (There are double agents, those who also wrote for Playboy, those who also wrote erotic fiction, and in one case, an author who killed her own mother with a table knife.) Children’s literature, indeed, has a complex and sometimes slightly dark history that most texts and histories don’t explore.

The Annotated Charlotte’s Web Peter F. NeumeyerOur original manuscript included stories about how not all of children’s literature’s most famous characters (in this case, creatures) were so well-received. In the introduction to The Annotated Charlotte’s Web, Peter F. Neumeyer discusses the books leading up to the publication of this American treasure, and one of those books is Stuart Little (1945), now widely regarded as a classic in the field and a story that came to White in a dream. Neumeyer notes how, by the end of 1946, the book had sold 100,000 copies—by 1975, it had sold half a million—and gained immense popularity, nation-wide. Except, that is, for some parents and librarians who took issue with Stuart Little’s very arrival.

Stuart LittleIt turns out that in the book’s first edition, released in October of that year, Stuart Little, the talking mouse who lives with a human family in New York, was “born.” If you pick up a copy of the book now, you will see in the opening paragraph of the first chapter that “Mrs. Frederick C. Little’s second son arrived.” Yes, cryptically arrived. The notion of a rodent springing forth from a woman’s loins was too much for some. White’s story was that, after the book’s release, New Yorker editor Harold Ross popped his head into White’s office to yell, “God damn it White, at least you could have had him adopted.”

Another of children’s literature’s most entertaining tales involves Stuart and Anne Carroll Moore, head of children’s services for the New York Public Library from the early 1900s to 1941. Moore infamously railed against some children’s books that are now considered classics, and Stuart Little was one. Thought she sent encouraging letters to E. B. White as he wrote, she was greatly disappointed in the novel once it reached readers — and made her feelings known, going as far as trying to persuade its editor to stop its publication.
Poor Stuart. He didn’t have an easy time of things, though his story remains well-read today.

What did Moore think of Charlotte’s Web, White’s second novel and the novel that many people consider the most perfect children’s novel on the planet? Well, we can’t give away all our book’s secrets, can we?

(This does leave us wondering what Moore would have thought of our book. Hmm…)

 

BetsyBird Julie-Danielson

Betsy Bird is the youth materials collections specialist for the New York Public Library and the author of Giant Dance Party, illustrated by Brandon Dorman. In addition to writing for The Horn Book magazine, she is the creator of the blog A Fuse #8 Production.

Julie Danielson is a regular contributor to Kirkus Reviews, and in her blog, Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast, she has featured and/or interviewed hundreds of top names in picture books. Julie Danielson lives in Tennessee.

Peter D. Sieruta (1958-2012) was an author, book critic, and frequent reviewer for The Horn Book magazine. His blog, Collecting Children’s Books, served as inspiration for his contributions to Wild Things!

Wild ThingsAbout Wild Things! Acts of Mischief in Children’s Literature by Betsy Bird, Julie Danielson and Peter Sieruta

Secret lives, scandalous turns, and some very funny surprises — these essays by leading kids’ lit bloggers take us behind the scenes of many much-loved children’s books.

Did Laura Ingalls cross paths with a band of mass murderers? Why was a Garth Williams bunny tale dubbed “integrationist propaganda”? For adults who are curious about children’s books and their creators, here are the little-known stories behind the stories. A treasure trove of information for a student, librarian, new parent, or anyone wondering about the post–Harry Potter book biz, Wild Things! draws on the combined knowledge and research of three respected and popular librarian-bloggers. Told in affectionate and lively prose, with numerous never-before-collected anecdotes, this book chronicles some of the feuds and fights, errors and secret messages found in children’s books and brings contemporary illumination to the warm-and-fuzzy bunny world we think we know.

Giveaway!

Thanks to the wonderful people at Candlewick Press I have ONE copy of Wild Things! Acts of Mischief in Children’s Literature by Betsy Bird, Julie Danielson and Peter Sieruta to offer one lucky There’s A Book reader! Be sure to enter using the rafflecopter form below and be aware that this one is for US and Canadian residents only.

Find Wild Things! Acts of Mischief in Children’s Literature by Betsy Bird, Julie Danielson and Peter Sieruta at the following spots:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Powell’s Books | Indiebound | Book Depository | Goodreads | ISBN10/ISBN13: 0763651508 / 9780763651503

Thank you so much to the publisher, Candlewick Press, for providing a copy of this book for review! Connect with them on Twitter, Google+ and on Facebook!
Purchasing products by clicking through the links in this post will provide us a modest commission through our various affiliate relationships.

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a Rafflecopter giveaway

It’s no surprise I’m a huge Patrick Ness fan. In the past I’ve written about how inspiring his work is as well as the time when I was actually able to meet him in person. I’ve also reviewed quite a few of his books:

The Knife of Never Letting Go
The Ask and the Answer
Monsters of Men
A Monster Calls

I’ve also interviewed the narrator for the audiobooks, Nick Podehl, whom is a personal favorite of mine. The way that Nick narrates The Knife of Never Letting Go will turn any non-audiobook fan into a audiobook listener for life. He’s brilliant!

Chaos Walking paperback

So when the publisher, Candlewick Press, reached out to me to offer a giveaway featuring the newly designed paperback covers for The Chaos Walking series I couldn’t resist. Not only do I love the redesign, but it also reminds me a bit of the UK edition that I love. Also, they’ve added additional content to each book! Each paperback includes a short story that was only previously available in eBook format. Candlewick has really done an excellent job with this new edition and I’m thrilled to have a full set to giveaway to one There’s A Book reader!

Giveaway!

Thanks to the wonderful people at Candlewick Press I have ONE FULL SET of this new edition of The Chaos Walking series by Patrick Ness which also includes a bonus short story within each book! Be sure to enter using the rafflecopter form below and be aware that this one is for US and Canadian residents only.

Ad1_PatrickNess

Find the new paperback edition of The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness at the following spots:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Powell’s Books | Indiebound | Book Depository | Goodreads | ISBN10/ISBN13: 0763676187 / 9780763676186

Thank you so much to the publisher, Candlewick Press, for providing a copy of this book for review! Connect with them on Twitter, Google+ and on Facebook!
Purchasing products by clicking through the links in this post will provide us a modest commission through our various affiliate relationships.

Follow There’s A Book with Bloglovin.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Before AfterBefore After by Anne-Margot Ramstein and Matthias Aregui
Published by Candlewick Press
Pages: 176
Ages: 4-8
Buy It: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Powell’s Books | Indiebound | Book Depository | ISBN-10/ISBN-13: 0763676217 / 9780763676216
Publishers Summary:

Everyone knows that a tiny acorn grows into a mighty oak and a caterpillar becomes a butterfly. But in this clever, visually enchanting volume, it’s also true that a cow can result in both a bottle of milk and a painting of a cow, and an ape in a jungle may become an urban King Kong. Just as day turns into night and back again, a many-tiered cake is both created and eaten down to a single piece. With simple, graphic illustrations sure to appeal to even the youngest of children, this beautiful rumination on the passage of time will please the most discerning adult readers, too.

TurkeybirdTurkeybird Giggles and Gawks: This is such a cool book! I really like learning about how things work. I ask my mom and dad lots and lots and lots of questions, so this was so neat! Even if I did have to keep asking my mom to explain some of the pictures it was really fun to hear about how things got from little tiny things to big big things and the cook-coo clock was the coolest. I’ve never seen one of those before! Some of it was super silly though, like the statue and the cake that gets eaten. I think I will keep reading and reading this book, it’s so neat.

Before After Interior

Mom’s Two Cents: Earlier this week we received out copy of Before After and since that time it’s been in someone in our families hands. Not only the kiddos have been drawn to it, but myself and my husband haven’t stopped riffling through it. Each turn of the page presents a new question, a new thought or feeling. For myself, it evokes memories of seasons changing and Turkeybird getting stuck in the snow one winter in Virginia. It also leads to thoughts of how to explain the process from one beginning image to the next evolution, in part because both kiddos have been asking non-stop how it’s all connected.

Turkeybird is just the right age for this book, the one where every new discovery leads to another question. And while Littlebug enjoys the beautiful illustrations and love to know that one is connected to the other she doesn’t inquire about the process as much. I’m sure the day will come, too soon, when she’s begging to know just how the electricity surges through wiring to turn a room from dark to light with the flip of a switch. For now, she’s content with knowing it works. What I love though is that this book, while completely wordless, has captured everyone in our homes attention regardless of their age or interest.

Before After by Anne-Margot Ramstein and Matthias Aregui is a beautiful addition to any library. Its wordless pages come to life as you watch a caterpillar hatch into a beautiful flying butterfly while imagining the step in between, cultivating curiosity in youth and bringing to light memories in adults. This will be a book discussed for many many months and years to come, and certainly one that I’d recommend again and again.

The1stdaughter Recommends: Ages 5 to 10. Before After takes the simplest of childhood questions and brings them to life in beautiful illustrations that readers of all ages will be fascinated by.

Find Before After by Anne-Margot Ramstein and Matthias Aregui at the following spots:

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Powell’s Books | Indiebound | Book Depository | Goodreads | ISBN-10/ISBN-13: 0763676217 / 9780763676216

Thank you so much to the publisher, Candlewick Press, for providing a copy of this book for review! Connect with them on Twitter, Google+ and on Facebook!
Purchasing products by clicking through the links in this post will provide us a modest commission through our various affiliate relationships.

Follow There’s A Book with Bloglovin.

After the Book Deal Banner

The Internet is full of great advice about how to sell a book, but what about after the sale? When my first book came out, I found it was surprisingly hard to find answers to some basic questions. Like most authors, I learned most of the answers through trial and error. And so in anticipation of the launch of my new novel,The Night Gardener, I’ve decided to write down everything I learned so I don’t make the same mistakes twice!

AFTER THE BOOK DEAL is a month-long blog series detailing the twenty things I wish someone had told me before entering the exciting world of children’s publishing. Each weekday from now until MAY 20, I will be posting an article on a different blog. Follow along and please spread the word!

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School Days: Crafting an Effective School Program

Yesterday I talked about how to do Skype visits with classrooms, now I want to move on to school assemblies! When my first book came out, I did almost nonstop school events for seven months—it was exhausting but extremely rewarding. I picked up a few things along the way that might be worth sharing …

 

NightGardener Cover

Be a Storyteller, not an Author

In the vast majority of cases, you will be coming to these kids as a complete stranger. Most kids will not have read (or even heard of) your books. This is important to remember as you’re crafting your presentation: don’t assume they will be impressed by the fact that you’re a published author. Your only job is to convince them that your story is something they want to read. The best way to do this is by BEING A STORYTELLER. Don’t just read an excerpt and give a summary—instead invite them into the world of your story, put them in the shoes of your hero, make the book come alive right there on the stage.

 

Play to Your Strengths

Take careful inventory of personal skills that you can bring to the table. Some authors draw on giant notepads. Others perform music. Others juggle or teach dance routines or fold origami. I exploited my past career as a professional yo-yo demonstrator by incorporating a yo-yo into my routine. It is hands-down the most popular part of every presentation! Chances are, you’ve got some silly talent that can be turned into a memorable moment in your presentations—make the most of it! Here’s a video of my yo-yo presentation, for the curious: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tbmSYeyVDtI

 

Crowd Control

There’s no question that wrangling a crowd of kids can be tricky. I have a loud voice, but with groups over 100, I always require that schools provide a microphone. Even with a mic, however, a hall full of squirming kids can get pretty loud. I always request that the teacher/librarian who introduces me gives the kids a special reminder about appropriate assembly behavior. And when the classes are streaming into the room, I go to every one of the teachers and introduce myself, thank them for coming, and ask them where their students are sitting—this is a subtle way of encouraging the teachers to be more proactive with crowd control. My final crowd control trick is to start every presentation by showing the Peter Nimble book trailer. Not only does this give kids something to visualize the story, but it creates a baseline of actual silence from the crowd. I’ve found that when I don’t show the trailer, I’m never able to eliminate the dull roar of whispers and fidgeting that passes for “quiet” in other circumstances.

 

Build a Flexible Program

Every school runs on a different schedule. Generally speaking, assemblies will run between 40-60 minutes. It’s important that you have a program that can expand or contract to fit these requirements. Your goal should be to have discrete “bits” that you can add and remove at will depending on the needs of your audience. If I’m talking to a restless crowd, for example, I can trade out a more serious literary discussion for an extra game. Flexibility goes beyond time-management. When I started touring, I carried around two vintage suitcases full of props. The suitcases looked cool, but they were a serious pain in the neck. I’ve since learned to pare down my props—fitting everything I need into a single shoulder bag. Likewise, when showing my book trailer, I used to haul my laptop computer (school computers were just too unreliable). Recently, however, I’ve ditched the laptop for a small VGA adaptor that plugs directly into my iPhone … so much easier!

Selling Books

You always want to be working with a local bookseller that can handle sales—you don’t have time to deal with that stuff yourself. If the school doesn’t have a store they regularly work with, then offer to connect them to someone. In most cases, a store will give 10-20% of all proceeds back to the school … which you should encourage them to do. Every store has a different way of handling book sales. I’ve found the best method is to send out pre-order forms in advance of the event as well as a “last chance” order form that kids take home the day that you visit—then once all orders are collected, you can sign books at the store, which will deliver them to the school later in the week.

 

That’s it for AFTER THE BOOK DEALTomorrow we’ll be talking about how how and when to charge for appearances. In the meantime, you can catch up on previous posts (listed below), and please-oh-please spread the word!

AFTER THE BOOK DEAL – Stops So Far

WEEK ONE: Before Your Book Comes Out
4/21 – Finding Your Tribe: entering the publishing community
4/22 – Do I Really Need a Headshot?: crafting your public persona
4/23 – I Hate Networking: surviving social media
4/24 – A Night at the Movies: the ins and outs of book trailers
4/25 –  Giveaways! … are they worth it?

 

WEEK TWO: Your Book Launch
4/28 - Can I have Your Autograph?: 5 things to do before your first signing
4/29 –  Cinderella at the Ball: planning a successful book launch
5/1 – Being Heard in the Crowd: conferences and festivals
5/2 - The Loneliest Writer in the World: surviving no-show events

 

WEEK THREE: The Business of Being an Author
5/5 – Handling Reviews … the Good and the Bad!
5/6 – Back to the Grindstone: writing your next book
5/7 – The Root of All Evil: some thoughts on money
5/8 – The Green-Eyed Monster: some thoughts on professional jealousy

 

WEEK FOUR: Ongoing Promotion
5/12 – Death by 1000 Cuts: Keeping ahead of busywork
5/13 – Can You Hear Me Now? Tips for Skype visits

Jonthan Auxier Headshot - web square

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JONATHAN AUXIER writes strange stories for strange children. His new novel, The Night Gardener, hits bookstores on May 20—why not come to his book launch party? You can visit him online at www.TheScop.com where he blogs about children’s books old and new.

Find The Night Gardener by Jonathan Auxier at the following spots:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Powell’s Books | Indiebound | Book Depository | Goodreads | ISBN-10/ISBN-13: 141971144X / 9781419711442

Thank you so much to Jonathan for stopping by today! Connect with Jonathan on Twitter and on Facebook!
Purchasing products by clicking through the links in this post will provide us a modest commission through our various affiliate relationships.