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Nonfiction Monday is the best day of the week!

  • Posted on March 28, 2011 at 10:44 AM

It’s here – the most wonderful day of the week – NONFICTION MONDAY. Again, the rules are simple:

  • Write a blog post on anything to do with nonfiction
  • Send me a link to your blog post via email to DianeRChen at comcast dot net (preferable) or in the comments below.
  • Read everyone else’s blog posts and comment.

Picture Book of the Day: Nonfiction Monday: Me, Frida

A bio of how a now famous artist found her own way.

Nina LaCour speaks at TN Library Association Conference

  • Posted on March 27, 2011 at 1:24 PM

Nina LaCour was the featured speaker at the Tennessee Library Association Children’s and Young Adult Services Author Talk on Friday, March 25th. Here’s a snippet:

“I think that this is why young adult literature is so well-loved right now. Could there be a more vibrant and tumultuous time to rediscover? We have all of these old wounds that are so easy to re-open, and as for our young readers, they are sitting on high rise rooftops, not sure whether to rejoice or give up, to embrace their emerging adulthoods, or to cling to childhood for a little longer. Librarians, teachers, parents, friends – they can all help them find their way. And books and music and art and films can help them feel a little less alone as they find it.”

As soon as Nina spoke these concluding words to her speech, I knew I had to share them with you, so I raced to the front and copied from her notes while crowds of librarians posed for pictures. As soon as she was free, I did ask Nina’s permission to share her thoughts with you. Nina is so bubbly and fun. She’s also willing to skype with classes and I think she’d be a perfect author to connect with teens.

Nina LaCour grew up in the San Francisco Bay area. She has tutored and taught in various places, from a juvenile hall to Mills College, where she received an MFA in Creative Writing in 2006. She now teaches English at an independent high school of about 130 students. Nina’s first novel, Hold Still, was published by Dutton Children’s Books in 2009. Hold Still is a William C. Morris Honor book, a Junior Library Guild selection, an ALA Best Book for Young Adults, and a Chicago Public Library’s Best of the Best Books of 2009. Nina won the 2009 Northern California Book Award for Children’s Literature and was featured in Publishers Weekly as a Flying Starts Author.

Nina shared with us her love of the movie Reality Bites which speaks to her with the “intensity and passion that characterize the teenage years.” She likes the juxtaposition of ecstatic desperation and happily singing the School House rock Conjunction Junction song which seem to show youths hunger to grow up yet longing to cling to childhood.

Nina shared with us two incidents in her growing up years that impacted her: losing her best friend from elementary school to drugs before their freshman year and the way her other friend’s suicide was handled. Having lost a student last year, I can relate when Nina says she couldn’t understand the gossipy tone in which it was discussed or how the teachers either ignored the incident or simply said “counselors are available.”

Nina turned to poetry. Her poem Blackberry Bushes comes from a really dark place while she was dealing with her friend’s treatment for drug abuse. At that time she had a teacher share “Sometimes life is more important than school.” With the emphasis on testing that occurs now, I doubt many administrators would agree with that. Testing, meeting AYP, forcing enough students through promotion to graduation, and attendance rates seems to be more important than teaching our students the coping skills to handle what life throws at them. Administrators and teachers are under terrific pressure to push all students to higher achievement levels – or they will suffer the consequences. What happens to students who feel this pressure but are dealing with their own problems in life?

But Nina does not despair. She loves the resiliency of youth. She did not realize when she wrote Hold Still just how many youth would write to her. She feels humbled yet compelled to answer them. Nina hopes her books will help youth feel less alone as they learn they can be crushed and yet live again – resiliency. Here is the tiny URL to a review of her book

The publisher description of Hold Still is:

An arresting story about starting over after a friend’s suicide, from a breakthrough new voice in YA fiction. “dear caitlin, there are so many things that i want so badly to tell you but i just can’t.” Devastating, hopeful, hopeless, playful . . . in words and illustrations, Ingrid left behind a painful farewell in her journal for Caitlin. Now Caitlin is left alone, by loss and by choice, struggling to find renewed hope in the wake of her best friend’s suicide. With the help of family and newfound friends, Caitlin will encounter first love, broaden her horizons, and start to realize that true friendship didn’t die with Ingrid. And the journal which once seemed only to chronicle Ingrid’s descent into depression, becomes the tool by which Caitlin once again reaches out to all those who loved Ingrid–and Caitlin herself.

Her newest title we are waiting for is called Disenchantments and will be the story of an eighteen year old boy who takes a  seven day road trip with three girls and learns how to overcome disenchantment with life and friends. It won’t be released til next year Spring.

When Nina showed us a photograph that touched her spirit – a photograph of someone who was obviously a cutter yet had moved on with living – I connected Hold Still with other books like Scars by Cherly Rainfeld, 13 Reasons Why, and all of the “friend deals with suicide” books that are out there. We can never have enough to put in students hands as long as we still lose even one of our future lights to suicide.

Check out Nina’s blog at loved the book trailer at I will try to post it here, but these things get quirky. In the meantime, if you need more of Nina try these contact points:


Read more online at:

Nonfiction Monday at Practically Paradise

  • Posted on March 27, 2011 at 10:06 AM

It’s our turn to host Nonfiction Monday so, readers, please show all of our guest bloggers today how much you appreciate their posts. The rules are really simple for being included:

  • Write a blog post on anything to do with nonfiction
  • Send me a link to your blog post via email to DianeRChen at comcast dot net (preferable) or in the comments below.
  • Read everyone else’s blog posts and comment.

KidLit Celebrates Women's History Month 2011

  • Posted on March 27, 2011 at 6:43 AM

Lisa Taylor of the Shelf Employed blog posted a comment drawing my attention to a  commemorative blog that she created with fellow blogger, Margo, of The Fourth Musketeer.

Their blog,KidLit Celebrates Women’s History Month 2011, is only for this month, and features daily posts by well-known kidlit authors, illustrators, booksellers and bloggers. More than 17 authors, including Kathleen Krull, Tanya Lee Stone, Tonya Bolden, and Carolyn Meyer have already contributed posts – most have been moving and inspiring.”

This is the type of information and blog that I have been seeking. These are the amazing stories that must be read, pondered, and shared this month and all months. I particularly liked the article on Haunted by History which remembers the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire (since I’ve been working on reviewing two books for the 100th remembrance of that tragedy) and Real History was not Meant for Publication.

It is not too late to check out this blog. I hope it lasts far longer than just one month. The collaborations and contributions of all of the authors are worth reading and re-reading. The links from the blog were helpful. I spent time examining the White House Report on women.

[On March 1, 2011,] the White House released a new report entitled Women in America: Indicators of Social and Economic Well-Being, a statistical portrait showing how women are faring in the United States today and how their lives have changed over time.  This is the first comprehensive federal report on women since 1963, when the Commission on the Status of Women, established by President Kennedy and chaired by Eleanor Roosevelt, produced a report on the conditions of women. View Women in America HERE.

I am reposting from the White House blog in case you missed the opportunity to ask your questions on women in the workplace, education and work-life balance:

Last August, in honor of Women’s Equality Day and the 90th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, we had a thoughtful conversation with the BlogHer community about how far women have come since gaining the right to vote in 1920. And given the recent release of the new White House report, “Women in America: Indicators of Social and Economic Well-Being”, we thought it would be an opportune time to revisit the conversation.

On Wednesday, March 30, join White House Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett, Chair of the White House Council on Women and Girls, and Preeta Bansal, General Counsel and Senior Policy Advisor in the U.S. Office of Management and Budget, for a discussion with Shine about women in the workplace, education and work-life balance.

Submit your questions and thoughts here, and Shine editors will select as many as they can pose in the time we have on Wednesday at 4:45pm ET on

Back to the KidLit Celebrate’s Women’s History blog where the link for Internet Resources for Women’s History is useful. This compilation includes links to book lists including SLJ’s list for this year. Perhaps this will guide your purchasing for next year.
Thanks, Lisa, for leaving a comment and alerting me via email to find the comment awaiting moderation. This information needs to be shared and promoted.

Kidlit4Japan – a fundraising from the US kidlit folks courtesy of Alice Bauer

  • Posted on March 21, 2011 at 6:12 AM

Hi folks.

If you’re looking for a way to help folks in Japan, you can make a donation that will benefit children affected by the earthquake and tsunami while also purchasing  some neat children’s literature swag.

Beginning at 9AM EDT on Monday March 21st, the Kidlit4Japan site<>
will feature a children’s and YA auction to benefit the victims of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan. Dozens of authors and illustrators have contributed thousands of dollars worth of signed books, virtual author visits, critiquing services, artwork, and even a few opportunities to name a character in an upcoming book!

Through the auction process over the next couple weeks, they hope to turn these donated items into much-needed funds for the UNICEF U.S. Fund<>.
They are targeting relief efforts specifically to the needs of children in the affected area of Japan, using methods refined during decades of disaster response campaigns around the world. (Bidders outside the United States may choose to donate to an alternate aid organization based in their own country instead.)

Bidding will be open on each item for 3 to 5 days. If you’re interested in A.C.E. Bauer related stuff, I’ve donate signed first edition copies of *No Castles Here* and *Come Fall*, and the audio production of *No Castles Here*in a 5-CD set. They’ll be up on the rotation from Friday March 25 @ 2:00PM EDT to Tuesday March 29 @ 2:00PM EDT.

The link again for the auction:

Thanks for your help!

A.C.E. Bauer
COME FALL — on shelves now!
Random House Children’s Books

Lorna warns against unintentionally pitting oppressed groups against each other

  • Posted on March 21, 2011 at 6:07 AM

Dear Diane and COSWL members, I am glad to see this post for Women’s History month. And although I know that no harm or offensive was intended, I am nevertheless disappointed by this: “Each year I complain because Women’s History is not being recognized and focused upon to the extent I desire in schools anymore. As I walk through various schools and classrooms, I seem posters for Black History Month in February put up before Martin Luther King Jr. day in January.”

These months to recognize the achievements of oppressed groups should not be pitted against one another. And it must be remembered: “All the women are white and all the blacks are men, but some of us are brave.” In other words– black women are women too! black women are blacks too! Black History month celebrates the achievements of Black Women. Women’s History Month celebrates the achievements of Black Women– or at least both should. But most important, don’t pit one against the other. These designations are to fill in the gaps, to remind that freedoms enjoyed weren’t always so and were gained through courage, intelligence, work, achievement in the struggle for human rights and dignity.

Thank you Diane for your post and for your acknowledgment of the work of the committee and staff liaison Lorelle Swader. Committee member Karen Weaver alerted us to Library History Buff Blog and its COSWL shout out. Jennifer Paustenbaugh did outstanding posting of Oklahoma’s activities that should serve as models for other states. And Paige Mano got us up on Facebook and Twitter. Rayette Sterling and Elizabeth (Beth) Cox have  been actively posting to our listserv. My thanks to all committee members!

And if Diane does not mind, I may need to respond to her blog post regarding the unintentional pitting of Black History month against Women’s History month. Maybe the observations of both months are becoming perfunctory in all of our libraries and we need to strive for more creativity and educating that these opportunities provide. And I hope that others will continue to post and blog– a little controversy is always good — you cannot have advancement and education without analysis, critique, illumination, conflict … I say this to encourage and not to silence expression. with respect,

Lorna Peterson

So, I wrote to Lorna asking permission to post this:

Thanks Lorna for honestly sharing your reaction to my blog post. Of course I do not intend to pit groups against each other. Unfortunately, many schools have “gotten it” when it comes to the importance of teaching Black History Month and the achievements of African-Americans, but they DON’T get the importance of teaching women’s history month and the specific achievements of herstory that have been overlooked and dismissed for so long. I wish schools would GET the need for acknowledging and embracing the achievements of women. I wish I would see similar results.

I would love for you to post your concern as a comment in the blog, or even better, how about if I post the letter in its entirety on the blog so there are no limits for length? I welcome our frankly discussing these issues because the controversy is out there. Why hasn’t someone commented on the quote I put up there about teaching men’s history month? People make these comments frequently and no one is addressing them. What’s that phrase to use? No one is discussing the big pink elephant in the room? Even within ALA I hear from male librarians the following quote: “ALA is full of women, librarianship is primarily women so why do we need these women’s groups?” Have you ever heard this? I would love to have some quick talking points at hand to address this. The last time it was asked of me, I choked on my coffee and then couldn’t coherently answer.

Lorna  gave me the additional information italicized and inserted above plus this response:

And I do not think that the majority “gets” Black History Month.   The “Men’s History” (or even white history for that matter) is an old chestnut. It is the refusal to acknowledge “otherness.” It is the refusal to accept every month is for men– that women of all colors, and those who are not white are the “other”– cite Simone de Beauvoir.

******************** So, readers …. what do you think?

Women's History Month

  • Posted on March 20, 2011 at 1:22 PM

March is National Women’s History Month. The National Women’s History Project’s slogan is “Our History is Our Strength.” The National Women’s History Project website has suggestions for planning for celebrations. Be sure to check out their website, blog, and facebook page.

Each year I complain because Women’s History is not being recognized and focused upon to the extent I desire in schools anymore. As I walk through various schools and classrooms, I seem posters for Black History Month in February put up before Martin Luther King Jr. day in January. I do not see the same number of displays for women’s history in classrooms and libraries. I’m not seeing the guest speakers and luncheons, bulletin board displays, or new book displays. I should and I should do a better job creating my own displays to focus on women’s history.

When I have suggested classes do mini-research topics on women’s history, I am met with resistance and invariably the comment “When is men’s history month?” I see this as a problem signifying that we need to do more outreach, not less. I know that the fields of teaching and librarianship have a higher percentage of females than males. This does not mean we should hesitate to address the roles of women in history – even in our own field.

The American Library Association has three major groups that focus upon the role of women – COSWL the Committee on the Status of Women in Librarianship, the Social Responsibilities Round Table Feminist Task Force (SRRT-FTF) and the Association of College and Research Libraries Women’s Studies Section (ACRL-WSS). I currently serve as a liaison between COSWL and the ALA Executive Board, but this post reflects only my beliefs and is not an official ALA perspective. COSWL released a press statement about National Women’s History Month.

As liaison I am able to listen in to conversations and observe the actions of COSWL. (Check out their COSWL Facebook page, subscribe to the COSWL Causes blog, and follow them on COSWL’s twitter group.) COSWL committee has greatly increased their activity this month under the leadership and advocacy of committee chair Lorna P. Peterson and ALA staffer Lorelle R. Swader.

Do you know the relevance of Jane Addams and Jella Lipman to books and librarianship? Honestly, I didn’t either. Fortunately I found a link on ALA Connect that directed me to an article on Larry T. Nix’s tribute to Women’s History called Our History is Our Strength: Theresa West Elmendorf. Larry writes the Library History Buff Blog.

From the ALA Connect post, there was a simple link to material from the March Display at the Northport-East Northport Public Library featuring two women who made a difference with Children’s Books: Jane Addams and Jella Lepman posted by Doris Gebel.

From the COSWL Cause blog I was able to read about “The Other Women of Seneca Falls.” Juliana Nykolaiszyn wrote about Oral History Collections from Oklahoma. Do you know who was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame in 2011? One person you might have heard of is Coretta Scott King.

Thanks to the COSWL Cause blog, I was able to read Librarified’s blog post discussion of Fred Lerner’s book The Story of Libraries: From the Invention of Writing to the Computer Age (Continuum, 2009). Has the reviewer from Library Journal responded at all? I need to find out who wrote the review and if he or she has read Gretchen Kolderup’s post. Frankly I dare you to read Gretchen’s comments and not be spitting mad at Fred Lerner!

It made me want to read Women and the Values of American Librarianship (Ide House, 1994) by Sydney Chambers and Carolynne Myall. I wish we had a newer title reflecting recent work by women in librarianship. I found a link to an edited monograph by Suzanne Hildenbrand and I have put the following title on my list to read:

Hildenbrand, Suzanne, ed. Reclaiming the American Library Past: Writing the Women In. Norwood, N.J,: Ablex, 1996. 324ρ. $59.50 (ISBN 1Ablex, 1996. 324ρ. $59.50 (ISBN 156750-233-4); paper, $24,50 (ISBN 1-56750-234-2).

Now, readers, here’s some homework for you. There have been some outstanding titles for elementary, middle, and high school readers this year that should be highlighted during Women’s History Month. Point me to them. Point out the blogs out there on women’s history this month so we can continue spreading the word. In short, get going!

Top Teen Titles #15-19

  • Posted on March 20, 2011 at 12:44 PM

We started this journey a year ago surveying and asking readers, teens, librarians and teachers for their recommendations. During the past year I’ve read (and sometimes re-read) titles from the recommendations. Finally I’m getting around to posting the last titles in the list.

#19 Blue Sword, The by Robin McKinley. Greenwillow, 1982. ISBN:  9780688009380, 288 pp.

Harper Collins Publisher’s Description: When Harry Crewe’s father dies, she leaves her Homeland to travel east, to Istan, the last outpost of the Homelander empire, where her elder brother is stationed. Harry is drawn to the bleak landscape of the northeast frontier, so unlike the green hills of her Homeland. The desert she stares across was once a part of the great kingdom of Damar, before the Homelanders came from over the seas. Harry wishes she might cross the sands and climb the dark mountains where no Homelander has ever set foot, where the last of the old Damarians, the Free Hillfolk, still live. She hears stories that the Free Hillfolk possess strange powers — that they work magic — that it is because of this that they remain free of the Homelander sway. When the king of the Free Hillfolk comes to Istan to ask that the Homelanders and the Hillfolk set their enmity aside to fight a common foe, the Homelanders are reluctant to trust his word, and even more reluctant to believe his tales of the Northerners: that they are demonkind, not human. Harry’s destiny lies in the far mountains that she once wished to climb, and she will ride to the battle with the North in the Hill-king’s army, bearing the Blue Sword, Gonturan, the chiefest treasure of the Hill-king’s house and the subject of many legends of magic and mystery.

Quotes from Readers:

Online reviews: Goodreads, LibraryThing, Shelfari, and Fantasy Finder.

Awards: Newbery Honor Book; ALA Notable Children’s Book; Horn Book Fanfare; ALA Best Book for Young Adults; ALA Best of the Best Books for Young Adults; Rebecca Caudill Young Reader’s Book Award Nominee (1988); Iowa Teen Award Nominee (1984-1985); Mythopoeic Fantasy Award Nominee (1983).

Diane’s note: While reading Robin McKinley’s blog (geek that I am), I saw that some reader told Robin that she was their Tolkien.  Actually she wrote “What I’m saying is, what Tolkien is to you, is what YOU are to me.”

I thought about this because I loved McKinley’s books growing up and was thrilled to read her first book “Beauty “. Beauty and the Beast had always been one of my favorite fairy tales and this added a twist to the story. When I read The Blue Sword four years later, it opened my eyes to a new style of smart fantasy with strong female characters, practicality, and romance.

Every year I am able to place a reader’s first Robin McKinley title in their hands and experience anew that first romantic encounter with fantasy. While checking TeenReads and TeensReadToo, I was disappointed not to see The Blue Sword reviewed. I understand that most of those reviews are of new titles and many urban fiction titles populate the lists, but there must be a librarian somewhere in the lives of our teens to put special titles like The Blue Sword in their hands.

Authors for Japan fundraiser live now

  • Posted on March 15, 2011 at 7:34 AM

Go to the website and start bidding. It’s live now.

This website and fundraiser is fascinating to watch. Not only have I honed my skills bidding in UK pounds instead of U.S. dollars*, but I’ve discovered some British bloggers and activities worth watching. For example,I have my eyes on 9: Atom prize pack from The Bookette (because I love YA literature and would like that House of Night tote bag. Reading the bio of the donator, I learned that:

The Bookette is Becky, a UK school librarian who is passionate about YA fiction. Since August 2009, she has been reviewing all the YA and Pre-Teen fiction that she reads and the occasional adult title and picture book. She also hosts contests and spotlights her favourite pre-release books. Becky is hosting the British Books Challenge to encourage other bloggers to review books by British authors. You can find out more about the challenge HERE.

I asked Keris Stainton a couple quick questions about the Authors for Japan project and she graciously found time to answer.

Keris, what inspired you?

Keris: I’m afraid I stole the idea from but I did ask them first, honest!

What are your pie-in-the-sky goals? How much do you think you can raise?
Keris: I would love to match Queensland’s total of AUS$20,000, which is around UK£12,000. (Diane’s note: somewhere around $19,200 or  19,267.34 USD, 19,261.02 USD, 19220.38 USD)

Have you heard from authors all over the world?
Keris: I have. We have items on auction from authors in Australia, America, Ireland and of course plenty from the UK. I’m not even sure where other items have come from since I didn’t have time to ask too many questions. I just know that the authors have been incredibly generous in not only offering the items, but in agreeing to send them out directly to the winning bidder.
What has surprised you the most for this project?
Keris: People’s generosity. When I first suggested the auction, I expected to hear from a few authors I chat with on Twitter, I didn’t expect to be inundated with emails, tweets, comments and messages for the next 48 hours. And not just that, but people have offered items worth, in some cases, thousands of pounds and taking a huge amount of time. That’s just the authors – the response from people wanting to bid on items has been incredible too.
Do you have your eye on a particular item to bid?
Keris: I shouldn’t have a favourite, should I? But I do love this illustrated copy of Candy Gourlay’s novel Tall Story and the Susie Day mentorship packages is incredible too

Please check out the amazing items being auctioned in aid of Japan at

*Need help in your bidding? Try some of the pound to dollar converters:

Something I learned from travel overseas. If you go and exchange cash, you receive the up-to-the minute rate. If you use your credit card, the rate can vary so is harder to predict. Usually it seemed my credit cards did a good job getting me the best rate. You can see from my converting 12,000 GBP to USD that each of the calculators varied the rates.

If you go and win any bids, please share with me about your experience.

CALA shares information on ways to help Japanese libraries

  • Posted on March 14, 2011 at 8:27 PM

Thanks to the CALA (Chinese American Library Association) listserv message from Zhijia Shen, Ph.D. Director, East Asia Library University of Washington I’m able to share more information. She writes:

We all have heard that a terrible 9.0 magnitude earthquake and Tsunami hit Japan’s northeast region last Friday, March 11th. Japanese libraries and librarians have also suffered terrible damages. Some public libraries in Miyagi prefecture were washed away completely by Tsunami. They would appreciate so much to hear from their colleague librarians in the U.S. If you would like to send your encouragement messages and suppot to Japanese librarians, please email to: Your messages will be posted at: The Japanese Studies Librarian at our East Asia Library at University of Washington, Keiko Yokota-Carter, has put together some information about the earthquake in Japan at her Japan studies LibGuide:

# How we can help ? the University of Washington Japanese Students Association compiled this list:

Show your support through:

UW’s  Chapter for helping aid Japan:

American Red Cross: go to to donate to Japan Earthquake and Pacific Tsunami or donate $10 by texting REDCROSS to 90999.

Google’s Person Finder: go to Try to find someone you’re looking for. Or supply information about someone who you’ve heard back from.

Convoy of Hope: or text TSUNAMI to 50555 to donate $10.

Salvation Army: Text either the word JAPAN or QUAKE to 80888 to make a $10 donation or call 1-800-SALARMY | Mail checks made out to “Japan Earthquake Relief” to the Salvation Army World Service Office, International Relief Fund, P.O. Box 630728, Baltimore, MD 21263.

Facebook pages:


Paper Cranes for Japan:

Lastly, we want to tell you that in collaboration with Bellevue College, we are making paper cranes for the victims. For more information, please go to the event page: