Thursday, April 29, 2010

A Wrinkle in Time...Graphic Style!!

Cheers to Publishers's Weekly for giving me this article! Enjoy!

Hope Larson to Adapt ‘A Wrinkle in Time'
Madeleine L'Engle's classic to be adapted into a graphic novel
Calvin Reid -- Publishers Weekly, 4/26/2010 6:01:54 PM

Photo by J. CulkinHope LarsonCartoonist Hope Larson, winner of both Eisner and Ignatz Awards, has been chosen by Farrar, Straus & Giroux to create a graphic novel adaptation of A Wrinkle in Time, Madeleine L'Engle's award winning science fiction/fantasy classic, originally published in 1962. The graphic novel adaptation will be published in the fall of 2012 to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the prose novel's publication.
Larson, author of the graphic novels Salamander Dreams (AdHouse Books, 2005), Gray Horses (Oni Press, 2006), Chiggers (2008) and Mercury (2010, both Atheneum), announced last week through her Twitter account that she had been chosen to adapt the novel. On her blog, Larson wrote, "This is a dream project. Wrinkle is one of my favorite books, and Madeline L'Engle is one of my favorite authors and a huge influence on my storytelling." The deal was negotiated by Judy Hansen of the Hansen Literary Agency.
The graphic novel adaptation will be edited by Margaret Ferguson, publisher of Margaret Ferguson Books, an imprint of FSG. Ferguson also said that she hopes to publish the graphic novel adaptation to coincide with the publication of a biography of L'Engle to be written by children's book historian Leonard Marcus. The biography is scheduled to be published by FSG in the fall of 2012 for the novel's 50th anniversary.
Ferguson told PWCW that "I've always been an admirer of Hope's work," but she also said that she discussed possible artists to adapt A Wrinkle in Time with her colleagues at First Second, the graphic novel imprint at Macmillan. "I set down with [First Second editorial director] Mark Siegel," Ferguson said, "and we laid out all the options, and Hope turned out to be the perfect choice."

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Dr. Seuss in Yiddish?

A neat article to be found on by Cory Doctorow. Here's an excerpt:

Yiddish House press has translated several classic kids' books into Yiddish, a curious and wonderfully expressive language spoken mostly by Jews of Eastern European descent. I just picked up their Eyn Fish Tsvey Fish Royter Fish Bloyer Fish, a translation of Dr Seuss's classic One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish by Sholem Berger.
Dr Seuss works improbably well in Yiddish. Yiddish's strength is its onomatopoeic expressiveness; and it contains a lot of Germanic words that are cognates for their English equivalents (such as "bloyer," which means "blue;" and "fish," which means "fish!"), but they're pitch-bent enough to make them sound a little off-kilter, which makes them perfect for a Seussian rhyme.
Berger's translation is funny and tight, his rhymes are as sweet as Seuss's originals. The text is written in both Hebrew script and Latin-alphabet transliterations (which is good, since I read Hebrew at the rate of about three words per hour).

For Mother's Day....

Mother’s Day is a time to recognize the woman who raised and nurtured you. Why not brighten her special day with some great books? From April 16th through May 3rd, readers will have the chance to win one of our 15 Mother’s Day Gift Baskets. Each basket is filled with a selection of 12 books from our 36 featured titles, giving Mom a book to read each month and making Mother’s Day truly a yearlong celebration. Also included are a variety of gifts to treat her: a plush blanket, a Crabtree & Evelyn Shower Flower, H2O+ Body Butter, a Jane Sun Tea soothing mask, Rose Garden Sachets, garden gloves, and, of course, some chocolates. Please note: Colors may vary on items. (Approximate retail value: $400)
Our featured Mother’s Day titles can be found here. With books that are moving, uplifting, humorous and informative, look no further than for the perfect gift for Mom.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Guys Do READ!!

Ha, ha! I just found this blog which shows pictures of men reading so we know some of them are doing it. It's pretty cute; worth checking out for a few minutes. This young lady literally goes around taking pictures of men she doesn't know.....reading! Wow. That takes guts.

Why Guys Don't Read?? One Man's Perspective....

This article on male reading habits is making a splash on Twitter, and I thought I'd better share it with you. You can find it here: as well.

Back in 2005, while I was still working as an editor, I had an opportunity to acquire a book that I was confident would be a bestseller. The author had a huge media platform, was one of the stars on a show watched by millions of people each week, hosted his own radio show, headlined his own band, he had a fascinating life story, thousands (if not millions) of fans worldwide, and even had a degree in journalisn. Unlike many celebrity memoirs, I knew this author was passionate about his story and had the writing chops to make it a great read. The author's agent wanted, in my opinion, a reasonable advance. I had confidence that this book was low risk, very high reward. However...
The author's name was Chris Jericho. Chris Jericho is a professional wrestler. Needless to say, pitching Jericho's book to my editorial board was like pitching iPads to the Amish. A whole lot of blank stares and a whole lot of people saying 'I don't get it'. Now, this is not the fault of the individuals, but it is the fault of a system in which in a room of 15-20 people, not one of them knew what I was talking about.
Like many boys, I grew up watching pro wrestling. I knew that Jericho was not only a huge star, but a genuinely smart, charismatic guy who had some incredible stories to tell. In an attempt to convince the editorial board, I brought in Chris's videos, action figures, CDs, anything I could think of to prove to a skeptical room that this guy was a big deal and his book would work. Nobody was buying my pitch. Nobody had heard of Jericho. So here's what happened--and I swear this is true.
One of our senior editors had a 15-year old nephew who was a wrestling fan. I was instructed to have a conference call with the editor's nephew, where I would ask him what he thought about Jericho. If the nephew agreed that Jericho was popular and the book had potential, I would be permitted to make an offer. If the kid disagreed, no dice. Naturally I was dumbstruck, infuriated, since I was essentially being told that a random 15-year with no publishing experience and questionable judgment was trusted more than I was. Thankfully, the kid agreed with me, and thought the book was a fantastic idea. The offer was greenlit, I acquired the book, and Chris Jericho's A Lion's Tale got rave reviews (Kirkus loved it. Kirkus!!!) and thebook became a New York Times bestseller. The sequel is scheduled to come out this Fall.
Why do I bring this up? Because if you've worked in publishing, you've heard the tired old maxim: Men Don't Read. Try to acquire or sell a book aimed predominantly at men, and odds are you'll be told Men Don't Read. This story is not an isolated incident, but merely a microcosm of a huge problem within the industry. If you keep telling yourself something, regardless of its validity, eventually you'll begin to believe it. So because publishers rarely publish for men and don't market towards men, somehow that equates to our entire gender having given up on the reading books. THIS MUST END.
In my opinion, this empty mantra of 'Men Don't Read' has begotten a vicious cycle. I was hesitant to write this article, mainly because in no way do I want to be perceived as diminishing the talents of many, many brilliant women in publishing, nor do I believe that there is a true 'gender bias'. A bias insinuates some sort of malice, a purposeful exclusion of a segment of society for selfish reasons. Those kind of insinuations are not the aim of this piece, nor are they my opinions in any way. This is a critique of the system, not those who work within it.
This NPR piece three years ago came to the conclusion that women read more fiction than men by a 4-1 margin. Articles like this madden me because I think they miss the big picture, or perhaps are even ignoring it purposefully. It's like discussing global warming, while completely ignoring the fact that hey, maybe we have something to do with it.
Nobody can deny the fact that most editorial meetings tend to be dominated by women. Saying the ratio is 75/25 is not overstating things. So needless to say when a male editor pitches a book aimed at men, there are perilously few men to read it and give their opinions. Not to mention that, because there are so few men, the competition to buy books aimed at men is astronomical. I was once shot down in an effort to buy a sports humor book because I couldn't get the support of a senior editor. The reason? This editor had written a similar book proposal on submission and didn't want to hurt his chances of selling it.
Men read. Tons of them do. But they are not marketed to, not targeted, and often totally dismissed. Go to a book conference, a signing. Outside of a Tucker Max event, what percentage of attendees are men?
I thought about this while watching the first television ad for the Barnes & Noble Nook. The ad itself, I think, is quite well done and effective. It tells a story, hits strong emotions. But notice something odd? It markets itself solely towards women. What about the Kindle? Amazon is a brilliant, juggernaut of a company, but the ads for Kindle with their twee music would make any guy groan. Why would men buy an e-reader, considering the takeaway from these ads is you can a) learn about your pregnancy after falling for Mr. Darcy, or b) become Amelia Earhart or Holly Golightly?
Now look at the ads for the iPad. Cool, right? They catch your attention without alienating half the consumer population. Why can't we do that? Make a fun, cool campaign that doesn't cut your audience off at the knees?
I'm tired of people saying Men Don't Read. Men LOVE to read. I've been a reader my whole life. My father is a reader. Most of my male friends are readers. But the more publishing repeats the empty mantra that Men Don't Read the less they're going to try to appeal to men, which is where this vicious cycle begins.
Publish more books for men and boys. Trust editors who try to buy these books, and work on the marketing campaigns to hit those audiences. The readers are there, waiting, eager just under the surface. And I promise, if publishing makes an effort to tap it, they'll come out in droves. It won't be easy. They've been alienated for a long time and might need to be roused from their slumber. But as I've always said the biggest problems facing the publishing industry are not ebooks, or returns, but the number of people reading. This is a way to bring back a lot of readers who have essentially been forgotten about.
So the next person who tells me that Men Don't Read, I'll simply respond by saying Then You Don't Know Men.
Print it, and they will come.

Friday, April 23, 2010

On the Road with Gary Paulson....

Tomorrow marks the finale of writer Gary Paulsen's three-week national tour for his latest novel, Woods Runner (Random/Lamb, Jan.), which was his first tour with Random House in more than six years. Paulsen's tour took him to nine cities—Boston, New York, Chicago, Detroit, Salt Lake City, Houston, Austin, Denver, and San Francisco—with families sometimes driving hours to attend the events. Here, Paulsen spoke to a crowd of more than 400 at Nicola's Books in Ann Arbor, Mich. Photo: Lynn Riehl.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Earth Day Deals......

Earth Day is turning 40 this year. To celebrate, many businesses are offering consumers free stuff, chances to win valuable prizes, and some good deals.
Here's a sampling of Earth Day freebies:
Gain free admission into all 392 U.S. national parks now through Sunday, April 25.
Trade in six plastic bottles or soda cans for a free hat made from recycled bottles at the Disney Store on April 22.
Babies R Us will give you a free reusable tote bag if you bring a valid coupon (PDF) into its stores through April 22. Plus, you'll get a 25% discount off all the clothing and shoes you can fit into the bag.
Evos is giving away free organic milkshakes served in biodegradable cups on Earth Day. The healthy fast-food chain has locations in California, Florida, Georgia, and North Carolina.
Origins is offering a trade-in program on Earth Day only. Bring one of your current skin-care product bottles -- empty or full, from any brand -- to an Origins counter and receive a free full-size cleanser. Choose from Checks and Balances Frothy face wash or Perfect World antioxidant cleanser with white tea.
Get a chance to win a $20,000 green home makeover by registering on the Purex website by April 30.
Enter a sweepstakes to win 1 of 10 smart fortwo vehicles by making a pledge to help protect the environment on Safeway's website through April 27.
Sign up for the Drive Home Green sweepstakes on Target's website through the end of the month. The grand prize is a 2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid. You could also win bicycles, electric scooters, a national park trip, and other prizes.
Add a green pledge to the Sierra Club's Earth Day map for a chance to win a trip for two to Hawaii.

Your Daily Dose of Lit.....

I think Spring is officially here! A reminder that the Teen Advisory Board is tonight at 6:30--be sure to come and share your great ideas for summer and beyond!

I wanted to turn you on to a website I find extremely fun and interesting. is a great website that allows you to read books for free; a lot of classics but many others as well, including cookbooks. They send a daily installment to your email, so you can literally read a paragraph a day and in a couple months have finished, let's say, Anna Karenina (my current favorite.) Please go ahead and check it out. It's totally free and is a great way to get in a dose of reading even on the most hectic of days.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Article on Teens & Exercise.....

By Steven Reinberg
HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, April 5 (HealthDay News) -- Does carrying a gene tied to obesity doom a teenager to becoming obese? Not if that teen stays physically active, a new study shows.

Among genes related to obesity, mutations in the so-called fat mass-and-obesity-associated gene (FTO) appear to be particularly important. In fact, each copy of a mutation in this gene has been tied to an average jump in weight of about 3.3 pounds, the researchers say.

However, an hour of physical activity a day largely negated the gene's effect, the new study found.

"These findings have important public health implications, and indicate that meeting the physical activity recommendations may offset the genetic predisposition to obesity associated with the FTO [gene variant] in adolescents," said lead researcher Jonatan R. Ruiz, a scientist in physical activity and fitness epidemiology at the Karolinska Institute in Huddinge, Sweden.

The report is published in the April issue of the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.

For the study, Ruiz's team collected data on 752 teens who took part in the Healthy Lifestyles in Europe by Nutrition in Adolescence Cross-Sectional Study, which was conducted in 10 European countries between October 2006 and December 2007.

Among these teens, 37 percent did not have FTO mutations, 47 percent had one copy and 16 percent had two copies. Copies of the mutation were linked with higher body mass index (BMI
). BMI is a measure of weight divided by height. Statistically, a BMI of 25 is considered the threshold for overweight while a BMI of 30 is the threshold for obesity.

Copies of the gene mutation were also linked with a higher percentage of body fat and a larger waist.

For teens who got at least an hour of physical activity each day, the effect of the obesity-linked gene mutation on weight was much smaller, Ruiz said.

For each copy of the mutated gene, those who exercised had an average BMI that was only 0.17 points higher than teens with no mutations. In comparison, teens who did not exercise for at least 60 minutes daily had a BMI that was 0.65 points higher for each copy of the gene, compared to those with no mutations.

Exercise also helped trim back gene-linked increases in body fat mass and waist circumference, the study found.

Ruiz' advice to teens worried about excessive weight gain? "Be active. Try to do at least 60 minutes of moderate and vigorous physical activity every day -- like playing sports," he said.

Samantha Heller, a Connecticut-based dietitian, nutritionist and exercise physiologist, commented that, "since few of us will ever get our genes tested, the take-home message from this study is that children and adolescents need to be physically active and eat a healthy diet."

While we are stuck with our genetic makeup, our lifestyles can either magnify or minimize many genetic tendencies, Heller said.

"If a person has a gene predisposing them to obesity yet they eat healthfully, exercise regularly and adopt other healthy lifestyle behaviors, they are stacking the deck [in their favor] in maintaining a healthy weight and avoiding chronic diseases," she said.

However, too many youngsters are losing touch with the fundamental joy of engaging in physical activities, Heller added.

"Whether it is a formal team sport or playing tag, playing catch or riding bicycles, the human body is designed to move," she said.

When this natural instinct is muted by spending hours playing computer games, watching TV or sitting around, so too is the body's innate ability to stay healthy, Heller said.

"The cycle of weight gain, sedentary lifestyle and poor diet can be tough to break free from, but it is absolutely doable if the whole family is committed to and takes part in the process of reinventing their lifestyle to a healthier one. The rewards are tremendous," she said.

More information

For more on childhood obesity, visit the U.S. National Library of Medicine.

A fun teen exercise video:

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Children's Book Award--Your Vote Counts!

The Children's Book Council's Teen Choice Book of the Year Finalists
We at are thrilled to announce the finalists for the Children’s Book Council’s 2010 Teen Choice Book of the Year. The five books that were chosen most frequently by our readers as their favorites of 2009 are BLOOD PROMISE: Vampire Academy, Book 4 by Richelle Mead; BLUE MOON: The Immortals, Book 2 by Alyson Noel; CATCHING FIRE: The Second Book of the Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins; CITY OF GLASS: The Mortal Instruments, Book 3 by Cassandra Clare; and SHIVER by Maggie Stiefvater. Many thanks to the more than 3,000 people who participated!

Now it's time to make your voices be heard again. From March 15th through May 3rd, you can vote for your favorite book, author and illustrator of 2009 by clicking here. The winners will be announced on Tuesday, May 11th during Children’s Book Week.

YA book trailers....

Smoky Hill library each year does a book trailer for one of their Young Adult book club choices. This year it was Christopher Golden's Soulless. The teens write a script, memorize it, perform it, and finally video-tape it. The YA librarian provided the make-up and blood. I think it's a pretty good video and wanted to pass it along. I couldn't get the video to embed, so I'll post the link here We should think about doing something like this at our library! Check it out and tell me what you think!

Saturday, April 17, 2010 Giveaway.....

Grab Bag of Books GiveawayEvery month in our Grab Bag of Books contest, five readers are awarded a signature tote bag filled with some of the hottest books --- and may even include a sneak peek at titles that haven’t been released yet!This contest period’s winners will each receive a copy of FEVER CRUMB by Philip Reeve; NOTHING BUT THE TRUTH by Avi; THE PROPHECY: The Watchers Chronicles, by Dawn Miller; STARLIGHTER: Dragons of Starlight, by Bryan Davis; and WISH by Alexandra Bullen. All you have to do to enter is fill out this form by Tuesday, May 18th at noon ET.

National Library Week Song.....

I had hoped to actually make a video of this, but there's no way it will be done by the end of the week, so I'm posting the lyrics for now.With apologies to Tom Lehrer (and Neil Gaiman, Danielle Steel, and Hemingway, for that matter)

:Oh, the e-books hate the print books
And the "snooty" books hate the "trashy" booksTo insist your books are the best books
Is an old established rule
But during National Library WeekNational Library Week
Danielle Steel and Hemingway
Are dancing cheek to cheek
Fiction or Biography
Makes no difference to me
I'll check your book out to you with a smile.
Oh, the poor folks and the rich folks
And those crazy middle-class folks
Are all equal at the library
It's American as apple pie!
And during National Library WeekNational Library Week
It's National Everyone-Lend-a-Book-to-One-Another-y Week
Neil Gaiman tells us all
To come and have a ball
At the library in your college, town, or school.
Oh, there's research, and there's job help
There are movies, and music CDs
All free to use at your library
Let me tell y'all the news
This week is National Library Week
National Library Week
Academics love the publics'Cause it's very chic
Think of librarians whoHave been helpful to you.
It's only for a week, so if you please
Remember to support your libraries!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Win a copy of this book! is giving away 10 copies of THE LAST SUMMER OF THE DEATH WARRIORS by award-winning author Francisco X. Stork. For your chance to win a copy of this touching story of friendship, hurt and healing, fill out this form and answer the following question by Thursday, May 13th at noon ET.From what book does D.Q. read a passage?You can find the answer by reading the excerpt here.

THE LAST SUMMER OF THE DEATH WARRIORS by Francisco X. Stork (Fiction)Death surrounds Pancho. His father, in an accident. His sister, murdered. His own plans to find her killer. And D.Q. --- a guy Pancho’s age who’s dying of cancer. That is, if he’ll ever shut up. D.Q. is writing “The Death Warrior’s Manifesto,” a guide to living out his last days fully. He needs just one more thing: the love of the beautiful Marisol. But as Pancho tracks down his sister’s murderer, he finds himself falling for Marisol as well….

Let's hear it for the boys....

I've mentioned to you before for as a wonderful resource for young men who love to read, and I just checked it out so see if I was missing out on any great "guy reads" and noticed this page where you can dowload bookmarks, spine labels, and more. And the best part about it is that it's totally FREE!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Are you feelin' Generous? Welcome Teen Literature Day...

by helping out other teens! Check out this site: to learn how you can donate a teen book to a school library that is less fortunate than most, and then attend the on-line bash at six o'clock on Thursday night to celebrate Teen Literature Day. Even if you don't have the money to purchase a book, attend the party and meet some interesting new people! This event helps Native American tribal lands get their hands on some new YA books for teens just like you who may not be as fortunate. I found this on the web and had to tell you guys about it. I'm personally going to buy a book and donate it today!

It's time for Operation Teen Book Drop (TBD), our annual event held in honor of Support Teen Literature Day. On Thursday, April 15th, 2010, we - the combined efforts of readergirlz, Guys Lit Wire, YALSA, and If I Can Read I Can Do Anything - will be dropping over 10,000 new YA books, donated by publishers, into the hands of teens on Native American tribal lands. Nationwide, librarians, over 100 YA authors, and teens will drop YA books in their own communities. Participants can download bookplates to insert into the books they'll leave behind. That night at 6 PM PST / 9 PM EST, everyone will join an online TBD Post-Op party at the readergirlz blog.

Click here for full TBD information, bookplates, bookmarks, and more.

You may also purchase books from the TBD Wish Lists which will go directly to two tribal school libraries. Click here to learn how to purchase books for students at Ojo Encino Day School and Alchesay High School.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Libraries are the heart of our community.....

so celebrate National Library Week by stopping down at the library, visiting your favorite librarian or section of the library, checking out a book-- cd, dvd, or e-book; and most IMPORTANTLY: grabbing a FREE bookmark!

Money for Good Grades?

A friend sent me this Article in this week's issue of TIME magazine and I thought you would enjoy it? Should schools pays you to keep your grades up? Should your parents? Read this article and weigh in on the debate.....

In junior high school, one of my classmates had a TV addiction — back before it was normal. This boy — we'll call him Ethan — was an encyclopedia of vacuous content, from The A-Team to Who's the Boss?

Then one day Ethan's mother made him a bold offer. If he could go a full month without watching any TV, she would give him $200. None of us thought he could do it. But Ethan quit TV, just like that. His friends offered to let him cheat at their houses on Friday nights (Miami Vice nights!). Ethan said no.

One month later, Ethan's mom paid him $200. He went out and bought a TV, the biggest one he could find.

Since there have been children, there have been adults trying to get them to cooperate. The Bible repeatedly commands children to heed their parents and proposes that disobedient children be stoned to death or at least have their eyes picked out by ravens. Over the centuries, the stick (or paddle or switch) has lost favor, in most cases, to the carrot. Today the petty bribes — a sticker for using the toilet or a cookie for sitting still in church — start before kids can speak in full sentences.

In recent years, hundreds of schools have made these transactions more businesslike, experimenting with paying kids with cold, hard cash for showing up or getting good grades or, in at least one case, going another day without getting pregnant.
(See pictures of kids comparing their paychecks at school.)

I have not met a child who does not admire this trend. But it makes adults profoundly uncomfortable. Teachers complain that we are rewarding kids for doing what they should be doing of their own volition. Psychologists warn that money can actually make kids perform worse by cheapening the act of learning. Parents predict widespread slacking after the incentives go away. And at least one think-tank scholar has denounced the strategy as racist. The debate has become a proxy battle for the larger war over why our kids are not learning at the rate they should be despite decades of reforms and budget increases.

But all this time, there has been only one real question, particularly in America's lowest-performing schools: Does it work?

To find out, a Harvard economist named Roland Fryer Jr. did something education researchers almost never do: he ran a randomized experiment in hundreds of classrooms in multiple cities. He used mostly private money to pay 18,000 kids a total of $6.3 million and brought in a team of researchers to help him analyze the effects. He got death threats, but he carried on. The results, which he shared exclusively with TIME, represent the largest study of financial incentives in the classroom — and one of the more rigorous studies ever on anything in education policy.
(See Roland Fryer Jr. in the 2009 TIME 100.)

The experiment ran in four cities: Chicago, Dallas, Washington and New York. Each city had its own unique model of incentives, to see which would work best. Some kids were paid for good test scores, others for not fighting with one another. The results are fascinating and surprising. They remind us that kids, like grownups, are not puppets. They don't always respond the way we expect.

In the city where Fryer expected the most success, the experiment had no effect at all — "as zero as zero gets," as he puts it. In two other cities, the results were promising but in totally different ways. In the last city, something remarkable happened. Kids who got paid all year under a very elegant scheme performed significantly better on their standardized reading tests at the end of the year. Statistically speaking, it was as if those kids had spent three extra months in school, compared with their peers who did not get paid.

"These are substantial effects, as large as many other interventions that people have thought to be successful," says Brian Jacob, a University of Michigan public-policy and economics professor who has studied incentives and who reviewed Fryer's study at TIME's request. If incentives are designed wisely, it appears, payments can indeed boost kids' performance as much as or more than many other reforms you've heard about before — and for a fraction of the cost.

Money is not enough. (It never is.) But for some kids, it may be part of the solution. In the end, we all want our children to grow into self-motivated adults. The question is, How do we help them get there? And is it possible that at least for some kids, the road is paved not with stickers but with $20 bills?

Fryer runs an education-innovation laboratory that has a staff of 17 and an annual budget of about $6 million. His goal is to use the scientific method to figure out how to close the learning gap between America's white and minority kids by the year 2025. When I visit Fryer at his Harvard lab this spring, he hands me an agenda for the day and proudly introduces me to his team. For the next three hours, as we talk about the experiment, Fryer is charming and intense, occasionally lapsing into economist speak and then apologizing for being a "nerd."
(Comment on this story.)

But Fryer's fascination with the lives and choices of kids is not entirely academic. He grew up poor in Texas, where he lived with his dad, a copier salesman. When Fryer was 16, his dad was arrested for sexual assault and Fryer had to bail him out of jail.

Meanwhile, Fryer raised himself, and not very well. He got a job at McDonald's and stole from the cash register. He sold marijuana and carried a .357 Magnum for a while. But he was fiercely competitive on the basketball court and the football field, and that's where he excelled, earning a basketball scholarship to the University of Texas at Arlington.

In his first semester of college, Fryer took a calculus class. On his initial exam, he scored 45 out of 100. "My friends started calling me Colt 45," he remembers. The failure enraged him, and his pride kicked in. "I didn't want to be like everyone else from my neighborhood," he says.

Fryer started working hard in school for the first time. He graduated in two and a half years with an economics degree. Then he got his Ph.D. at Penn State University, where he began to use the tools of economics to study the problems of inequality. He joined Harvard's faculty at age 26, a case study in the power of shifting motivations.

At Harvard, Fryer heard about a school in New York City that was trying to incentivize kids on a small scale. The idea appealed to him because, unlike reforms focused on the teacher or the curriculum, it treated kids not as inanimate objects but as human beings who behave in interesting ways. But he had no idea if it would work.

In 2005 he persuaded Gavin Samms, a friend and Harvard colleague, to go to New York City with him to try to sign up some schools for a pilot program. "We didn't know anything about what we were doing," Fryer says. They couldn't afford to stay in New York, so they stayed at a hotel in the Meadowlands — a grim tract of wetlands in New Jersey. Then they drove around to pitch the idea to principals.

One day while they were visiting a school, they got a call from the school system's headquarters, which had originally approved their project. "They said, 'You gotta leave now,' " Samms remembers. " 'You gotta leave the schools.' " Fryer protested, but he lost. "It was just too political," he says. "It was an election year. They'd already gotten letters saying, 'You can't be paying kids.' "

Monday, April 12, 2010

Ivy and Bean go Platinum....

No, the next Ivy and Bean book isn't about experimenting with hair dye. Rather, the six-book series by Annie Barrows and illustrated by Sophie Blackall recently clocked one million books sold. Barrows recorded an online video to thank teachers, librarians, and booksellers who have supported the series, and publisher Chronicle celebrated the milestone with a company-wide party earlier this week. Book #7, Ivy and Bean: What's the Big Idea?, will be published this fall with a 75,000-copy first printing

Friday, April 9, 2010

Teens & Yoga

Because so many of you enjoyed the yoga we did on the 7th, I wanted to give you some information on Teen Yoga from Also if you are on Facebook, be sure to "friend" Teen Yoga for yoga updates, information, and classes near you. Here are some of the basics to know before you get started:

Are you looking for a workout program that's easy to learn, requires little or no equipment, and soothes your soul while toning your body? If strengthening your cardiovascular system, toning and stretching your muscles, and improving your mental fitness are on your to-do list, keep reading to learn more about the basics of yoga.
What Is Yoga?
It seems like a hot new trend, but yoga actually began more than 3,000 years ago in India. The word yoga is Sanskrit (one of the ancient languages of the East). It means to "yoke," or unite, the mind, body, and spirit.
Although yoga includes physical exercise, it is also a lifestyle practice for which exercise is just one component. Training your mind, body, and breath, as well as connecting with your spirituality, are the main goals of the yoga lifestyle.
The physical part of the yoga lifestyle is called hatha yoga. Hatha yoga focuses on asanas, or poses. A person who practices yoga goes through a series of specific poses while controlling his or her breathing. Some types of yoga also involve meditation and chanting.
There are many different types of hatha yoga, including:
Ashtanga yoga: Ashtanga yoga is a vigorous, fast-paced form of yoga that helps to build flexibility, strength, concentration, and stamina. When doing Ashtanga yoga, a person moves quickly through a set of predetermined poses while remaining focused on deep breathing.
Bikram yoga: Bikram yoga is also known as "hot yoga." It is practiced in rooms that may be heated to more than 100° Fahrenheit (37.8° Celsius) and focuses on stamina and purification.
Gentle yoga: Gentle yoga focuses on slow stretches, flexibility, and deep breathing.
Kundalini yoga: Kundalini yoga uses different poses, breathing techniques, chanting, and meditation to awaken life energy.
Iyengar yoga: This type of yoga focuses on precise alignment of the poses. Participants use "props" like blankets, straps, mats, blocks, and chairs.
Restorative yoga: This practice allows the body to fully relax by holding simple postures passively for extended periods of time.
Vinyasa/power yoga: Similar to Ashtanga yoga, these are also very active forms of yoga that improve strength, flexibility, and stamina. This type of yoga is popular in the United States.
Yoga has tons of benefits. It can improve flexibility, strength, balance, and stamina. In addition, many people who practice yoga say that it reduces anxiety and stress, improves mental clarity, and even helps them sleep better.
Getting Started
Many gyms, community centers, and YMCAs offer yoga classes. Your neighborhood may also have a specialized yoga studio. Some yoga instructors offer private or semi-private classes for students who want more personalized training.
Before taking a class, check whether the instructor is registered with the Yoga Alliance, a certification that requires at least 200 hours of training in yoga techniques and teaching. You may also want to sit in and observe the class that interests you.
You could also try using a yoga DVD. Websites, DVDs, and books can't compare to learning yoga poses from a teacher, but they can help you find out more. They can be especially helpful if you have already taken yoga classes and want to practice at home.
Dress comfortably for your first yoga session in clothing that allows you to move your body fully. Stretchy shorts or pants and a T-shirt or tank top are best. Yoga is practiced barefoot, so you don't have to worry about special shoes.
If you're doing your yoga workout on a carpeted floor, you probably don't need any equipment, although many people like to use a yoga mat or "sticky" mat. This special type of mat provides cushioning and grip while you do your poses. You can buy yoga mats in sporting goods stores or often at the yoga class location.
What can you expect at a yoga class or when you watch a yoga video? To begin the class, the instructor may lead you through a series of poses like
Sun Salutations to warm up your arms, legs, and spine. After that, you'll concentrate on specific poses that work different areas of your body. Most yoga sessions end with some type of relaxation exercise.
Before you begin any type of exercise program, it's a good idea to talk to your doctor, especially if you have a health problem. Be sure to let your instructor know about any orthopedic problems or special needs you may have before the class begins. A good instructor will be able to provide modified poses for students who are just beginning or who have special needs.

Zombie Humor.....

Fat Vampires & Other Things.....

Hey everyone! I hope your spring break was amazing and you were able to rest up a bit. We held our first "Spa Day" at the library on Wednesday, April 7th and the feedback we received was awesome! I hope you're all enjoying your spa products and are practicing the yoga we learned!

On another note, don't forget that the next teen advisory board is on April 22nd, from 6:30-7:30. I hope to see you all there and don't forget to bring a book review for our website if you have one.

Lastly, here's an article I found on the Publisher's Weekly website that I thought you would find interesting. Have a great rest of spring-break!!

PW's "Beyond Twilight" panel looked at what teens and kids are reading
By Calvin Reid -- Publishers Weekly, 4/7/2010 10:00:29 AM

The continuing prevalence of pale, sexy vampires (and the rise of related comic sub-genres), the growth of teen-focused dystopian fiction and the transformation of the children's publishing niche into a big advance—along with big financial pressure—publishing category, were just some of the topics covered by a panel of agents at Publishers Weekly's "Beyond Twilight: What's Hot in the Teen Market in Publishing and Hollywood." Held at the Random House offices in Manhattan, the panel was co-moderated by PW's children's editor Diane Roback and news editor and deals columnist Rachel Deahl. The well-attended event ranged freely across the YA and children's book and film market, touching on the growth of middle-grade fiction, paranormal genres, the use of public domain works (like Alice in Wonderland and Sherlock Holmes) and the obvious and not so obvious ways that Hollywood studios and book publishers have an impact on the category. But the panel quickly got to the overriding theme of the morning session—are book publishers only interested in signing the next Twilight-like megaseller in a teen marketplace that seems perpetually fixated on vampires?Rebecca Sherman, an agent at Writers House, conceded that, yes, indeed more vampire lit is coming—but it's vampire lit with "a spin." Sherman pointed to forthcoming properties like Blood Thirsty, a title that features "a pale scrawny kid and a rumor that he's a vampire that makes him very popular with the girls." Sherman pointed to the growth of comic subgenres, including the forthcoming novel Fat Vampire by Adam Rex and more mashups that include comic riffs on werewolfs and zombies. Claire Lundberg, a literary scout for MGM and United Artists, acknowledged that the film studios continue to see "a lot of paranormal; a lot of vampires, angels, zombies and a fair amount of werewolves are still getting optioned. I'm tired of it but I'm not sure the kids are." Of course both industries are interested in what's popular—what will sell to teens—and Stephen Barbara, an agent with Foundry Literary + Media, said that maintream YA titles were not being completely edged out by paranormal blockbusters. But he also made the obvious point that "it's easier to sell a big book with a hook than coming-of-age realism." Barbara also emphasized the country's demographics, saying "there's a huge number of teen readers," and pointed to their enthusiasm. "It's an age group that is not afraid to love a book." Barbara said he expects to see more "big across the board, multi-platform franchises." Indeed, in light of the impact of blockbuster series like Harry Potter and Twilight, the discussion focused on the growth of the children's blockbuster book and the attendant big advances and multi-book deals. At his agency, Barbara said, "I used to be the guy over in the corner doing the little kids' books deals." No longer. Later in the discussion he acknowledged what that means: "less freedom and more people paying attention to us like the adult side, and more pressure to succeed." While book publishers and movie studios have a symbiotic relationship in creating megaselling franchises, Lundberg noted that the two industries have very different needs. Studios are leery of series publishing: "they're risky if the first book doesn't do well," she said, while Sherman emphasized, "We don't push series but it's nice to sign more than one book if you're offering a substantial advance. It's hard to put everything on one book." Lundberg noted the difficulty of getting studios to pay attention to book publishing numbers that seem small to Hollywood. "100,000 copies—a thrill for publishers—just isn't impressive to a movie studio." So while Hollywood offers "possibilities," said Sherman, the potential for films should not be the criterion by which a book is judged. "Hollywood is fickle," said Lundberg without surprising anyone in the audience. The discussion also touched on the rise of dystopian novels like The Hunger Games and The Road and the role that blockbuster films like Avatar and a forthcoming Hunger Games film adaptation will have on the popularity of the genre among teen readers. Noting the depressing plot of The Hunger Games, Lundberg said the industry was "not sure how the film will do. Kids killing kids? It's a Hollywood non-starter," causing a librarian in the audience to respond, "But my teens like depressing," to general laughter.Pointing to the popularity of graphic books like the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series and The Invention of Hugo Cabret, Sherman predicted a greater impact of "illustrated books for older readers that were not graphic novels," while Lundberg pointed to the continuing influence of graphic novels on forthcoming films—noting in particular the manga/pop culture mashup Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, and the superhero/adventure sendup Kick-Ass, both being released this summer. Indeed the discussion finally drew out Susan Katz, president and publisher of HarperCollins Children's Books, who was in the audience and who addressed a few topics, including big advances (they are "no predictor of success, some of our lowest advances have gone to our biggest successes") and digital publishing for teens ("We go where our readers go. If they read on their phones we go there").And she also spoke to the pressure to publish books similar to whatever blockbuster title is dominating the bestseller lists. "Be it Harry Potter or Twilight, and many other books will be written around them," Katz said. "We don't ask for these trends. What really happens is that someone writes something fantastic that hits a nerve, and word-of-mouth builds momentum."

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Readers as Hunters....

First-time YA author Kay Cassidy believes in paying it forward, which led her to create an unusual thank-you for an Indiana librarian who introduced her to some teen titles that she loved: the Great Scavenger Hunt contest. The monthly contest, which she began last April, consists of a book-related trivia challenge for kids, administered by librarians—and offers a chance for both to win free books.
Kay Cassidy."I was looking for a way to keep kids reading other than by writing books," says Cassidy. "I thought it would be fun to do a trivia contest and contacted a few of my friends." Initially she did outreach to a few librarians she knew, who posted information about it on their state listservs. From there, the contest took off. Young people between the ages of eight and 19 scavenge to find the answers to 10 trivia questions about a middle-grade or YA book that they have read from among the 350 titles in the program. The tests are administered by the 500 participating librarians. Children, aka hunters, who get eight answers right are entered into a drawing for a $50 gift certificate for the bookstore of their choice. The librarian who submitted the winner's name gets to choose five free books for their library.
L. to r.: last November's Scavenger Hunt winner Hannah Smith from Lapel High School in Lapel, Ind.; Cassidy; and winning librarian Kim Murdock, also of Lapel High School.To encourage busy librarians and authors to participate, Cassidy created a Web site where they can sign up and get more information. So far, she says, participating libraries are split evenly between school and public libraries. The former are using the Great Scavenger Hunt to encourage reading during the school year, while public libraries see it as an opportunity to promote summer reading. Only six Canadian libraries have signed on to date, but Cassidy is working to boost that figure as well as participation in the U.S.
When she launched the program, Cassidy started with New York Times bestsellers and Newbery and Printz Award winners. One year later the contest has grown to include debut novels like her own recently released The Cinderella Society (Egmont USA). Each month Cassidy adds eight new titles, with related questions, and sends out an e-newsletter to librarians that highlight recent additions. Some librarians, she notes, are printing out the newsletters and posting them to let kids know about new books.
Saying "I'm in it for the long haul," Cassidy continues to fund and operate the entire program herself. In the coming year she looks forward to seeing more kids reading and more libraries signing on for the Great Scavenger Hunt—and maybe getting an assistant.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Surprise Your Parents!! Some Easter Facts.....

• According to widespread belief, Easter owes its name to “Eastre”, the Anglo-Saxon goddess symbolizing hare and egg. Another theory suggests that it comes from the early German word “eostarun”, meaning dawn and white.
• Easter always falls between March 22 and April 25.• Easter is a “moveable feast” as it does not fall on a fixed date in the Gregorian or Julian calendars. The full moon determines the date of Easter.
• “Pysanka” is a name given to the tradition of Easter egg painting.
• The color used in painting the eggs differ in different nations. Orthodox Grecians paint their eggs red to symbolize the blood of Christ. Some Germans and Austrians paint their eggs green and use them on Holy Thursday. Slavic peoples decorate their eggs in gold and silver patterns.
• Chocolate eggs were traditionally given as gifts in Europe.
• In 19th century Europe, bitter dark chocolate was used to make small egg shapes. These chocolate eggs were traditionally exchanged as Easter gifts, especially in countries like France and Germany.
• Ninety million chocolate Easter bunnies and 16 billion jelly beans are produced each year before the commencement of the Easter festivities. As a holiday, Easter comes only second to Halloween in terms of the annual sale confectionary items.
• 76 percent of people eat the ears on chocolate bunnies first.
• According to the Guinness Book of World Records the largest Easter egg ever made was just over 25 feet high and weighed 8,968 lbs.
• In countries like Hungary and Transylvania, the day after Easter is called “Locsolo Hetfo” meaning “Watering Monday”. This is because water, perfume or perfumed water is often sprinkled in exchange for an Easter egg on this day.