Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Our team: from Newbery Medal committee member to gourmet cook to swimming with dolphins

As our November 1 features are being readied to appear tomorrow, I want to do a "shout out" about the team members who make keen readers happen.
Nothing makes me prouder than the hard work they all go to to bring you new material each month.
There's Cameron, reading and judging all the youth contest entries between his work as a science center presenter and substitute teacher. (Having recently finished his teachers' training, he hopefully will land on his feet in a lucky school soon.)
And Darian, who burns the midnight oil posting new features and keeping our website up and running in addition to coping with a staggering college workload (and on top of that, being a gourmet cook for friends and lucky keen-readers staff like myself).
I don't know what we'd do without Teresa Bateman, whose prodigious book reviewing output happens in her "spare time" between serving as a school librarian and writing books herself. (She has promised to give us a head's up when the next one is out.)
Then there's Stacey Matson, whose passion besides children's literature (and working on a novel of her own) is working with marine life. (I'd love to post a photo of her swimming with dolphins one of these days...)
Tony keeps tabs on the operation between voluminous travel trips (he's just off a cruise ship in Spain right now, the bum). 
And why have I saved our longest-serving book reviewer Rob Bittner till last? Because we're particularly proud of him this month. He has just learned that he will be a member of the 2014 Newbery Medal committee through the American Library Association. You rock, Rob! Plus, at about the same time, he learned that an article written with Dr. Eric Meyers will be included in the essay collection, Children’s Play Worlds: Culture, Learning and Growth in Virtual Spaces. Hard to top that!
Finally, thank you, readers, for making our work worthwhile.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Love letter & surprise phone call

Love letter
I was touched by a recent blog from a librarian who used to snub “reluctant reader” books, but now realizes the value of short, high-action, low-vocabulary books aimed at hooking middle grade and high school kids into reading. Her new insight inspired her to write a "love letter" to Orca Books, a publisher of reluctant-reader books, on her blog:
“You know that not every 15-year-old can read above a third grade level, and even a lot of those who can, think reading an actual book is equal to pulling out all of your teeth.”
Three of my own novels are aimed at “reluctant readers” – Camp Wild, Breathless and Daredevil Club – all published with Orca Books, whose Orca Currents and Orca Soundings series(among others) specialize in such material (
Here’s the rest of that blog entry I’d like to share:
Surprise phone call
Just a quick note regarding my most recent young-adult novel First Descent (Tundra Books), even though it’s not a reluctant reader book: I got the phone call a few weeks ago, only to be told I had to keep it hush-hush until today! Well, I’m honored to announce that as of this morning, the Ontario Library Association has officially released a list of books nominated for its “Forest of Reading” awards, and First Descent is up for the Red Maple Award. Thank you, Ontario Library Association! Here’s more information about them:

That means I’ll be in Toronto May 15-16, 2013. Coincidentally, just two weeks later I’m due to sign advance reading copies of my sister’s and my forthcoming book for parents, about getting reluctant-reader boys to read (more about that in a future blog) at the Book Expo America conference in New York City (May 30 and June 1, 2013). So in between, I’ll be doing presentations in Ontario, in Washington D.C. and in parts between. (Here’s where I insert a little plug; hope no one minds): Anyone interested in booking a presentation, feel free to contact my speaking-tours agent Chris Patrick, 1-866-413-9216, jcpem (at) More information on my presentations is below.
presentations for schools:
presentations to adults: