Thursday, January 28, 2010

How Do I Pronounce Thee? Let Me Count The Ways

Jon Scieszka? Laurie Halse Anderson? Louis Sachar? How DO you pronounce their names, anyway?

For that matter, how about Rick Riordan? Is it Ree-OR-dan (as I've been saying it for years)? Or Rear-den? Or something else entirely?

I've heard respected booksellers say HAL-zee for Laurie's middle name. I've been saying Chess-ka for Jon and Satch-er for Louis. But how do you know if you're right or wrong?

While blog-hopping earlier this month, I discovered this post over at Peter Sieruta's wonderful blog, Collecting Children's Books.

First, I was thrilled to realize that I'm not the only one who mispronounces words (I grew up saying in-dicked instead of indict, DEN-ee instead of deny, etc.).

Second, in the comments on that post, Andrea (thank you, Andrea, from the bottom of my heart) posted this useful and fun website for learning how to pronounce authors' names. Go check it out.

I'll wait.

Hmm, hmm, hmm...

Back? Okay. NOW you've not only had the fun of hearing the authors' actual voices, you know how to pronounce Scieszka. It's SHESS-ka. Rhymes with Fresca. Louis Sachar. Sack-er. Rhymes with cracker. Laurie HALSE Anderson. Halse rhymes with waltz.

The logical conclusion to this: If you want to be a successful author of children's books, your name has to RHYME with something!

But then again, Rick RYE-or-den doesn't rhyme with anything, so maybe not...

Friday, January 22, 2010

Gem of the Week: Wendy Mass does it again

FINALLY by Wendy Mass (Scholastic, pub date March 1, 2010, for ages 8 to 12).

I've finally figured out the secret of Wendy Mass (author of 11 Birthdays, Every Soul a Star, Jeremy Fink and the Meaning of Life and other novels).

It's simple. Really.

Wendy Mass is a time traveler.

See, the way I figure it, she must travel back in time to her own childhood, scribble a bunch of notes, and then whoosh back to the present and write her novels. How else would she remember in such hilarious detail what it's like to be finally turning 12?

Rory Swenson has a long list of things her overprotective parents will let her do when she turns 12. But when the big day dawns and she starts checking off goals on her list, something manages to go wrong each time, with riotously funny results. She finally gets her first cell phone -- and loses it in 15 minutes. She finally gets to wear make-up -- and has an allergic reaction. She finally gets to stay home alone -- and scary noises drive her into the bathroom, where she locks the door and takes a bath with her headphones on. When her parents return and she doesn't respond to their frantic knocking, Dad kicks a hole in the door to "rescue" her.

At school, Rory's always been forgettable, the type of mousy girl who blends right in. This actually works to her advantage when a movie crew arrives to film a teen heart-throb movie right there at Rory's school. She gets hired as an extra and tries to blend in to the background, but her "accidents" keep happening. The scene where Rory shaves her legs for the first time will have you hooting with laughter (and maybe wincing a little, too).

Keep on the lookout for this book. It's light. It's funny. It's terrific.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Winners Update

Well, I'm thrilled that THE LION AND THE MOUSE won the 2010 Caldecott. Jerry Pinkney richly deserved that gold medal.

I'm also thrilled that WHEN YOU REACH ME by Rebecca Stead won the Newbery. One of my favorite books from 2009.

Hey, guessing two out of three ain't bad. That's the first time I've ever done that. Of course, I'm not the only bookseller who correctly predicted these two winners.

GOING BOVINE by Libba Bray was one of my picks for Printz honor, but it actually won the Printz award itself.

I'm sad that IF I STAY didn't win an honor. I thought Gayle Forman deserved mention.

Congratulations to all the winners of the 2010 ALA Youth Media Awards.

Special note to Babs for Books: you won the contest! You correctly guessed WHEN YOU REACHED ME as Newbery winner. Please e-mail me at JoanneRFritzATgmailDOTcom to give me your address and tell me which of these three books you'd like as your prize.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

My predictions

Now that my contest deadline has passed, I'll reveal my own (newest) predictions for Caldecott, Newbery and Printz awards:


The Lion and the Mouse by Jerry Pinkney

Mama Says by Rob Walker, illustrated by Leo and Diane Dillon
Crow Call by Lois Lowry, illustrated by Bagram Ibatoulline
All the World by Liz Garton Scanlon, illustrated by Marla Frazee


When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead (so I agree with Babs here)

Magician's Elephant by Kate Dicamillo, illustrated by Yoko Tanaka
Also Known as Harper by Ann Haywood Leal
War Games by Audrey and Akila Couloumbis


If I Stay by Gayle Forman

Once Was Lost by Sara Zarr
Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
Going Bovine by Libba Bray

Naturally, these are all books I've read and in some cases already reviewed (see here and here and here and, hey, even here) or talked about as potential winners (click here). But more often than not, the winners end up being books I've never read. Sometimes they're books I've never even seen. In less than 24 hours, we'll find out.

A more important question: do these awards mean anything to readers anymore? What do you think?

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

CONTEST 2.0 -- Predict the future!

Since my January 3rd contest was ridiculously easy (or Frankie is incredibly well-read and has an amazing memory), I'm now offering a far more difficult challenge.

On Monday, January 18th, 2010, at their midwinter meeting in Boston, the ALA will announce the Youth Media Award winners. Booksellers and librarians across the country are eagerly anticipating what the committee has chosen for the Caldecott, Newbery, and other awards (see my earlier post explaining the Caldecott and Newbery awards).

Think you can guess what will win?

Many awards will be announced that morning, but for this contest I'm only concerned with the Caldecott (best illustrated), Newbery (usually give to a middle-grade novel), and Printz (young adult novel) awards.

If anyone correctly guesses all three gold-medal winners, I will personally buy and mail to you a hardcover copy of each of those three winning books (subject to availability, of course).

If nobody manages to do this (and believe me, it's nearly impossible), then I will look at the most correct guesses overall, including gold and silver awards in those three categories. So feel free to submit one guess for gold and up to three guesses for silver in each category. Post your guesses in the comment box. Winner will receive one hardcover 2010 medal winner of your choice.

CONTEST ENDS at 11:59 pm on Saturday, January 16, 2010.

I'll announce the winner no later than Thursday, January 21, 2010.

Happy Guessing!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

New Year, New Contest!

Ok, readers, it's time to test how much you REALLY know about kid lit.

I've been struggling with rewriting the opening to my middle-grade fantasy novel because, well... ok, I might as well admit it: I'm reading an ARC of INCARCERON by Catherine Fisher, and the chapter that introduces Claudia, the daughter of the warden, describes her up in an oak tree, surveying her father's estate. And, darn it all, that's exactly how my novel started...

So, needless to say, I have to rewrite the first chapter. One recent day at work, I spent a few wonderful minutes poring over opening lines of several YA and MG novels for inspiration. And the thought occurred to me that this would make a great contest.

Guess the titles of these books. One chance per person per day.

I couldn't use anything obvious. I mean, the first line of ARTEMIS FOWL is "How does one describe Artemis Fowl?" Heh heh. So, naturally, that's not included. And you'd be amazed how few novels from 10 or 20 years ago start with a grabber of an opening line. Shows how much publishing has changed.

Oh, you wanna know the prize, eh? Sheesh. Well, I just happen to have a few ARCs lying around. So here it is: The FIRST person who correctly guesses all of these opening lines, will win ARCs of LINGER, by Maggie Stiefvater, LIFE OF GLASS by Jillian Cantor, NUMBERS by Rachel Ward, and FINALLY by Wendy Mass.

The one restriction I will impose on you is: PLEASE, no using Amazon. I work for an indie bookstore, for pete's sake. Try to figure it out yourself. Spend some time in your local library or independent bookstore (ok, ok, the chains if you must), browsing away. You know you go there anyway.

Remember, all of these are currently in print, either middle grade or young adult novels. I take full responsibility for any mistakes I might have made in transcribing these opening lines.

Ready? So, here goes:

1) There was a hand in the darkness, and it held a knife.

2) There were only two kinds of people in our town.

3) Sophie couldn't sleep.

4) Everyone thinks it was because of the snow.

5) The day after my mother died, the priest and I wrapped her body in a gray shroud and carried her to the village church.

6) The best day of my life happened when I was five and almost died at Disney World.

7) If you asked the kids and teachers at Lincoln Elementary School to make three lists -- all the really bad kids, all the really smart kids, and all the really good kids -- Nick Allen would not be on any of them.

8) My mother used to tell me about the ocean.

9) I have been accused of being anal retentive, an overachiever, and a compulsive perfectionist, like those are bad things.

10) Killing him should be easy; he's only six.

Good luck!