January 28, 2012

Take a Walk on the Wild Side

What dogs think about . . .

1.  Walking
2.  Sniffing
3.  Eating
4.  Pooping
5.  Scratching

What cats think about . . .

1.  World domination
2.  Catnip

January 26, 2012

Book Twins . . . Again

I've discovered two books with very similar covers.  If you read my blog, you know this has happened before.

I guess it's bound to occur occasionally, with hundreds and hundreds of books being published each year.

Here are the latest book twins:


And just for fun, check out this link -- 24 Books That Actually Got Published.

January 23, 2012

ALA Youth Media Awards . . .

This morning, I watched the Youth Media Awards live via Webcast.  For those who are not children's book junkies, these awards are akin to the Academy Awards for film, and people in the industry get very excited about it.

If you want to skip my commentary and go right to the awards, click here.

I'm delighted with the winner of the Newbery Medal:  Dead End in Norvelt by Jack Gantos because it's FUNNY!  The first scene was so outrageously hilarious, I had to read it to Hubby then reread it myself a few times. 

It's fun to check the Amazon ranking of the winning book when the award is first announced (27,051) and the ranking as I write this (45).  Yeah, a little thing like winning the Newbery has a tendency to do that to a book's ranking. 

I love Jack Gantos' books from Rotten Ralph to the Joey Pigza books to A Hole in My Life.  And I'm delighted that his novel Dead End in Norvelt won the 2012 Newbery.  (I'll bet his speech this summer will be wildly entertaining.)

Here he is at the 2011 National Book Festival (being wildly entertaining) . . .

The two Newbery honor books were Breaking Stalin's Nose by Eugene Yelchin (an absolutely terrific book that's highly illustrated) and Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhha Lai (which also WON the National Book Award).

John Corey Whaley won the William C. Morris Award for a first-time author writing a debut book for teens for his novel, Where Things Come Back.  This novel also won the Printz Award for excellence in literature for young adults.  Can't wait to get my hands on this one . . .

This from Kirkus Reviews:  "This extraordinary tale from a rare literary voice finds wonder in the ordinary and illuminates the hope of second chances."

I was so happy to see Wendelin Van Draanen's The Running Dream win a Schneider Family Book Award -- books that embody an artistic expression of the disability experience.  Wendelin's novel kept me up late one night because I had to keep reading to find out what happened next.  A beautiful book.

And fellow Florida writer, Greg Neri, snagged an Odyssey Award for best audio book for his terrific, highly illustrated book -- Ghetto Cowboy.  (Illustrations by Jesse Joshua Watson.)  Neri's dramatic story illuminates a part of Philadelphia's history I knew nothing about, despite being a native.  Neri's books fill a need.  They should get in the hands of as many young readers as possible.

There were many other awards announced and many exciting books to explore further.  You'll find the whole list here.

Now, I can get back to writing my own books . . . as visions of the awards dance in my head.

January 20, 2012

Basketball Season . . .

Our son loves playing basketball.

For years, he's played in the driveway with Dad, at neighborhood courts and at school. 

Here's Jake two years ago, when Dad was still able to beat him . . .

This year, Jake joined the inaugural class at a most amazing high school -- Oxbridge Academy of the Palm Beaches.  Not only does the school provide exceptional educators and support staff, healthful meals and snacks, the latest in technology, a caring community and amazing opportunities -- like the chance to meet and interact with scientists, astronauts and Holocaust survivors -- they offer tons of sports, including the one Jake has enjoyed for years -- basketball.

Last night was the team's final home game of the season . . .

I'm happy to say they ended the game with a win.  Go, Thunderwolves!

It's not a game until the uber-talented Allison Taylor belts out her rendition of the Star Spangled Banner.   Allie has a superstar voice!

Here's Jake and Allie after the game . . .

And here's Jake with his wonderful coach -- Dwayne McClain (who played on Villanova's National Championship team in 1985).

Can't wait for tonight's game -- an away game -- the final one for the season.  Looking forward to celebrating with the team and their families afterward.  What a great community.  What a great school.  Thank you, Oxbridge Academy!

January 17, 2012

Want to Write a Picture Book in 2012?

How about 12 picture books?

The inspiring Julie Hedlund has created a vibrant community of writers pledging to write 12 picture books -- one per month -- in 2012.

12x12 in '12

There will be an industry professional blogging at the beginning of each month, offering information and inspiration.  There will be giveaways that will help us reach our goals.  There is an active Facebook page.   A Twitter group. 

Want to join the fun?

Check out the F.A.Q. of 12x12 in 2012 to join.  And be sure to do it by January 29th so you will be eligible to win the great prizes.

How did I hear about this very cool community?  On Katie Davis's Brain Burps Podcast about Children's Literature, of course.

January 15, 2012

FL SCBWI Conference in Miami

One-word description:  Inspiring.

A few more words:  Even though I've attended the FL SCBWI Conference nearly each of the last eleven years, this year I hesitated.  Do I have the time?  Money?  Then I remembered that at one of the conferences, instead of taking notes during a speech, I began scribbling ideas that became my novel, HOW TO SURVIVE MIDDLE SCHOOL.

When my good buddy Jill said she'd drive, I was in!

To say that speeches by Lin Oliver, E.B. Lewis, Greg Neri and others inspired me would be a vast understatement.

There's something magical about the energy created by a room full of creative people.  I knew a quarter way in it was clearly worth the time and money. 

The Editors Panel Discussion

Sometime during Lin Oliver's amazing speech, while I was taking notes so fast my hand hurt, it happened again.  IT HAPPENED AGAIN!  I scribbled an idea I think will be my next middle grade novel.

Thank you Linda Bernfeld and the many hard-working, dedicated volunteers (I'm talking to you, Laurie Taddonio!) who helped make the magic happen for the 11th year in a row!

January 13, 2012

Fun Friday -- Four Truths and a Lie

Which of the five photos below was NOT something I saw on today's walk?

Care to share YOUR four truths and a lie in the comment section?  I'll try to guess.   Promise.

January 12, 2012


Psst.  Have you heard?


On World Read Aloud Day, several children's book authors will Skype with students and read to them from their books FOR FREE!

I participated in this wonderful event last year, the event's inaugural year.  Virtually, I visited six schools in five states, without ever getting out of my bunny slippers.  Read about it here.

Enthusiastic students from Oak Brook, IL

If you'd like an author to read to your students via Skype on World Read Aloud Day, check out Kate Messner's blog, where she lists the authors who are available.

Who started World Read Aloud Day?  Why super hero, literacy advocate Pam Allyn, of course.  Read more at LitWorld.   Their motto is:  "Words changing worlds." 

How did I hear about Pam Allyn?  On author/illustrator, Katie Davis's, Brain Burps Podcast.  I love this podcast.  I've learned so much about the industry from these fun, informative podcasts, brimming with interviews.  Thanks, Katie!

And thanks to everyone involved in creating and supporting World Read Aloud Day.  So far, I'll be Skyping with students from five schools in five different states.  Can't wait!  Hmm, I know my bunny slippers are around here somewhere.

January 4, 2012

Seeing Stars . . . And a New Cover!

The first e-mail of 2012 from my editor:

Hi Donna,
Here’s a great way to kick off the new year—a starred Kirkus for Olivia!

Olivia Bean, Trivia Queen (March 13, 2012) begins it's journey into the world with a starred review from Kirkus, which is exactly how the journey with How to Survive Middle School began.  And that's been a fun ride!

Here's a peek at the Kirkus review, which will appear January 15th:  "This tale will have readers cheering for the resilient, resourceful Olivia."

And here's the brand new cover for Olivia Bean, Trivia Queen that will appear in stores this March:

What do you think?

Here's to star-studded, FUNTASTIC 2012 for each of us!