Saturday, December 30, 2006

More 2007 books

More books from people in my listserv, bulletin board, e-mail and real time worlds.

Joy Allen, Baby Signs, Dial Books for Young Readers, (illustrator) Cam Jansen: Summer Mystery writen by David A. Adler, Viking; (illustrator) The House in the Middle of Town, written by Crystal Bowman, Standard Publishing
Laurie Calkhoven, George Washington: An American Life, Sterling; Miles of Smiles: Travel Games and Quizzes to Go, American Girl
Julia Durango
, Angels Watching Over Me, Simon & Schuster; Pest Fest, Simon & Schuster
Heather Vogel Frederick, Spy Mice: Goldwhiskers, Simon & Schuster; The Mother-Daughter Book Club, Simon & Schuster
Jamila Gavin, Walking on My Hands: The Teenage Years (autobiography), Hodder (UK)
Diane Greenseid (illustrator) Waynetta and the Cornstalk, written by Helen Ketteman, Albert Whitman
Jennifer Holm
, Babymouse: Heartbreaker, (with Matthew Holm), Random House; Camp Babymouse, (with Matthew Holm), Random House; Babymouse: Skater Girl, (with Matthew Holm), Random House; Middle School is Worse than Meatloaf, Illustrations by Elicia Castaldi, Ginee Seo Books
Betsy James, Listening at the Gate, (paper), Simon Pulse)
Barbara Newman, Tex and Sugar: A Big City Kitty Ditty, Sterling; Bones and the Birthday Mystery, written by David Adler, Viking
Pooja Makhijani, Mama's Saris, Little Brown
Linda Sue Park, Tap Dancing on the Roof, Clarion (poetry collection); Clicks!, a serial novel written with nine other authors, Scholastic
Sara Pennypacker, Pierre in Love, Orchard Books; The Talented Clementine, Hyperion Books for Children; Clementine's Letter; Hyperion
Dian Curtis Regan
, Cam's Quest: the Continuing Story of Princess Nevermore and the Wizard's Apprentice, Darby Creek Publishing; Princess Nevermore: Updated and Expanded Edition, Darby Creek Publishing
Susan Roth, Babies Can't Eat Kimchee, with Nancy Patz, Bloomsbury
Ruth Sanderson, Mother Goose and Friends, Little, Brown; More Saints, Lives and Illuminations, Eerdmans
Laurie Stolarz
, Project 17, Hyperion
Ellen Wittlinger
, Parrotfish, Simon & Schuster

Enjoy the feast.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Children Who Write

I was one. In some ways, even with a half-century clocked in (gasp!) I still am. So I was intrigued by the story of Nancy Yi Fan, who wrote Swordbird in response to class discussions about war and terrorism, then sent the manuscript by e-mail to the CEO of HarperCollins. Her book is doing the rounds now in galleys. Speculation is that it will serve as part of a larger plan to gain Harper a presence in China. That's all been amply covered elsewhere. There's information on the book on the publisher web site, and admiration from fans to be found too, so I won't go there. Reading Swordbird reminded me of my own writings in childhood. They ranged from wild to earnest, and stamped me in a deep and personal way. For many years I lost writing as a tool for making sense of the world. When I found it again in my thirties it was like coming home. There was something about the process of writing as a child, something both tactile and visceral, that grew to be part of my structure of self.

For years I thought of the writing of children either as preparation for adult writing (Austen, or the Brontes, or Ruskin) or as in the case of Daisy Ashford, a path that led nowhere, in that the writer did not live up to early potential. But then I read The Child Writer from Austen to Woolf, edited by Christine Alexander and Juliet McMaster. It's a weighty collection of essays examining the writings of children, suggesting that juvenilia ought to be an area of study by itself, regardless of whether those children grew up to be famous writers or not. Here's a comprehensive review of the book from JASNA, the Jane Austen Society. Many of the essays explore the childhood writings of famous 19th century writers, but the most interesting ones are about the inner worlds of child writers, of writing as an empowering act in itself, regardless of publication, of imitation as an extension of play. There's something interesting and authentic to be found here, these essays suggest, if we take the time to think about what they mean for us, the ex-children who sit in judgment.

Books I'll Be Looking For in 2007

Books for children, written or illustrated by people I know in real life or cyberspace or both. I'll add to the titles as I find out about new ones. Thanks to everyone for sending me your book news.

Andrea Beaty, Iggy Peck, Architect, Abrams Books for Young Readers
Alfred B. Bortz, Ph.D., Physics: Decade by Decade, Facts on File (20th Century Science set)
Fred Bortz, Astrobiology, Lerner, Cool Science Series (Yes there's only one Dr. Fred but he can be bow-tied or sans, depending.)
Toni Buzzeo, Fire Up with Reading: A Mrs. Skorupski Story, Upstart Books
Shutta Crum, A Family for Old Mill Farm, Clarion
Audrey Couloumbis, Maude March On the Run, Random House
Jacqueline Davies, The House Takes a Vacation, Cavendish; The Lemonade War, Houghton Mifflin
Alex Flinn, Beastly, HarperCollins; Diva (paperback), HarperCollins; "Brainiac" (short story in Declarations of Independence by Donald Gallo), Candlewick; "The Cards that Are Hidden" (short story in Full House by Pete Hautman), Simon & Schuster
Phillis Gershator, Skysweeper, illustrated by Holly Meade, Farrar Straus Giroux; This is the Day! illustrated by Marjorie Priceman, Houghton Mifflin
S. A. Harazin, Blood Brothers, Delacorte
Cynthia Kadohata, Cracker! The Best Dog in Vietnam, Atheneum
Jo Knowles, Lessons From A Dead Girl, Candlewick Press
Joe Kulka, Wolf's Coming! CarolRhoda Books
Brian Lies, illustrator, Deep in the Swamp, by Donna Bateman, Charlesbridge Publishing
Christine Kole MacLean, Mary Margaret Meets Her Match, Dutton/Penguin
Rafe Martin, Birdwing (paper) Scholastic/Afterwords
R.A. Nelson, Breathe My Name, Razorbill
Vaunda Micheaux Nelson, Bad News for Outlaws: The Remarkable Life of Deputy U.S. Marshal Bass Reeves, Carolrhoda
Kim Norman, Jack of All Tails, Dutton Children's Books
Barbara O'Connor, How to Steal a Dog, FSG/Frances Foster
Cynthia Leitich Smith, Tantalize, Candlewick
Gloria Spielman, Janusz Korczack's Children, Lerner
Tanya Lee Stone, Amelia Earhart: A Photographic Story of a Life, DK; A Bad Boy Can Be Good for a Girl (paperback), Wendy Lamb/Random House
Kyra Teis, The Magic Flute, Star Bright Books; Illustrator, Words Are Like Faces, written by Edith Baer, Star Bright Books
Vivian Vande Velde, Remembering Raquel, Harcourt
Jennifer Ward: There Was a Coyote Who Swallowed a Flea, illustrated by Steve Gray (Rising Moon); Because You Are My Baby, illustrated by Sylvia Long (Rising Moon); Way Up In the Arctic, illustrated by Ken Spengler (Rising Moon); Forest Bright, Forest Night (board book, Dawn Publications); I Love Dirt! 52 Projects to Get Outside, Get Dirty and Enjoy Nature, illustrated by Susie Ghahrehmani (Shambhala Publications)
Jane Yolen, Sleep, Black Bear, Sleep with Heidi E. Y. Stemple, illustrations by Brooke Dyer, HarperCollins; Here's A Little Rhyme: Baby's First Poetry Book, with Andrew Fusek Peters, illustrations by Polly Dunbar, Candlewick Books (USA) and Walker UK Books (UK); Baby Bear's Big Dreams, illustrations by Melissa Sweet, Harcourt; How Do Dinosaurs Go to School?, illustrations by Mark Teague, Blue Sky/Scholastic; Rogue's Apprentice with Robert J. Harris, Philomel Books; Sea Queens, Charlesbridge Books

In travel book land:
Sandra Friend, A Hiking Guide to Florida's National Forests, Parks, and Preserves, with Johnny Molloy, University Press of Florida; North Florida & the Florida Panhandle: An Explorer's Guide, with Kathy Wolf, The Countryman Press

And finally, my 2007 title, Remembering Grandpa, from Boyds Mills, illustrated by Layne Johnson.

Here's to a year of rich, rewarding reading and writing in our little universe of children's books. An outbreak of peace in the wider world of grownup thieves and bunglers would be nice too!

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Truth, Fiction, and Spaces in Between

Bringing Asha Home is the story of a fictional family waiting for their adopted baby girl, named Asha, to come to them from India. It grew out of gatherings I was invited to years ago, of families in Maryland who had adopted children from India, and whose stories stayed with me over the years, moving me to write this version. Realistic fiction. At least, that's what I thought it was.

But I am only the writer. What do I know? Today, I received an e-mail from my editor at Lee & Low, with a news item from the Salt Lake Tribune. It turns out that Utah's first family is planning a pre-Christmas trip to India to pick up their 1-year-old adopted daughter. Her name is Asha. Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr., first lady Mary Kaye Huntsman, and their seven-year old daughter Gracie Mei began the journey to adopt their Asha around the time my book was going to press. The story of their wait is the story of the fictional family in Bringing Asha Home, with a few differences. The older sibling in my story is a boy, Arun. The sequence of events is off by a few months. And the rakhi motif is missing from their experience. But in all other respects, the Huntsmans are living my fiction.

Coincidence, of course. Asha's a common enough Indian name. Meaning "hope," it was a natural name for me to pick for the child in my story. I'm sure there are other families in the US who have adopted baby girls named Asha from India. Still, life weaves patterns in its own organic way, makes truths out of fiction, knocking complacency out from under my typing fingers. It's why I do what I do.