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Maurice Sendak dies at 83

8 May

Maurice Sendak has passed at age 83.

A few months ago I heard an interview with Sendak and Teri Gross on NPR after Sendak had published his latest book Bumble-ardy. The book is about a pig who is turning 10 and decides to have a costume party, even though his family frowned on fun. The party turns to mayhem and his aunt tells him “never again.” One of the best lines in the book is Bumble-ardy’s response to his aunt, “I promise, I swear, I won’t ever turn 10.”

I was in the library when I heard the interview, listening to the podcast, pulling books off of the shelf. The interview brought me to tears. At the end of the interview he breaks down and cries, and tells Gross, “You are the only person I have ever dealt with in terms of being interviewed or talking to who brings this out in me. There’s something very unique and special in you, which I so trust. When I heard that you were going to interview me or that you wanted to, I was really, really pleased…And almost certainly, I’ll go before you go, so I won’t have to miss you. ” What an incredible, kind, special person. Today they are replaying NPR’s interviews with Sendak through the years, including the one I just mentioned. Don’t miss it.


Young Adult books: Popularity soars with all ages

16 Nov

The Boston Globe of 11/16/11 has an article explaining the trend for crossover popularity of YA fiction: “Young adult novels heating up the charts”.

It all began with the “Twilight’’ series, which has the first of its two final movie installments, “The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1,’’ hitting movie theaters this weekend. The book ignited a publishing industry trend that continues to see adults purchasing books written for teens.

The market shift is considerable. An example: Jonathan Franzen’s much-anticipated novel “Freedom’’ has sold more than 600,000 hardcover copies since it was released in August 2010, according to Nielsen BookScan, while Suzanne Collins’s “Mockingjay,’’ the third book in her “Hunger Games’’ trilogy – released that same month and geared to young adults – has sold more than 1.3 million single, hardcover copies to date.

Hardcover copies of books for young adults (known as YA books) are a few dollars less than adult releases, but the huge sales numbers still have the books earning more money at the register. As of last week, all three books in Collins’s “Hunger Games’’ trilogy were on the Amazon Kindle bestseller list. They beat out “The Help’’ and Stieg Larsson’s “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.’’

This reader-driven trend has changed the scope and priorities of the publishing industry. Six years after the release of the first “Twilight’’ book, literary agencies have restructured themselves to account for strong young adult sales. Publishers continue to increase the number of YA acquisitions.


Boston Book Festival is Oct. 15th in Copley Square!

19 Sep


The Boston Book Festival, now in its third year, is the largest literary event in New England. On October 15, Copley Square will be alive with more than 100 world-renowned authors and thought leaders, workshops and participatory events like Writer Idol and Flash Fiction, exhibitors, live music, booksellers and book signings, activities and presentations for children, and delicious food. Whatever your interests, they’ve got it: fiction, history, memoir, science, food writing, sports writing, crime fiction, the environment, graphic novels, super kids’ events, and more! Got the picture? Read on!

[FYI: The Boston Book Festival is held in Copley Square, rain or shine. All author events take place indoors in either the Boston Public Library, Old South Church, Trinity Church, or Back Bay Events Center. The street festival takes place in Copley Square and also occurs rain or shine. ]

“The Information: A History, A Theory, A Flood” by James Gleick

28 Jun

I highly recommend James Gleick’s new book “The Information: A History, A Theory, A Flood”.  It chronicles how information has become our modern era’s defining quality.  Below you can watch an interview with the author, in which he discusses one of the ideas explored in the book: Are we drowning in information?

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Great advice about being a “beginner” at anything

24 May

Ira Glass of “This American Life” has some words of wisdom that come out of his own experience:

“What nobody tells people who are beginners — and I really wish someone had told this to me . . . is that all of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, and it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase. They quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know it’s normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story. It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile. You’ve just gotta fight your way through.


Just arrived! Take a look at some new YA books

7 Apr

Fist, stick, knife,gun: a personal history of violence by Geoffrey Canada; adapted by Jamar Nicholas.

A powerful and important graphic novel based on Geoffrey Canada’s 1995 memoir of growing up among the violence in the South Bronx.  As 6-year-olds his older brothers learned to fight to reclaim a stolen jacket, Canada learned to fight himself by age 12 and by college he was packing a gun to make himself feel invinsible and safe.  Despite these struggles Canada earned degrees from Bowdoin and Harvard.  Today he is the president and ceo of the Harlem Children’s Zone, a nonprofit designed to help urban areas with high crime and low student academic achievement.  His organization was deemed “one of the most ambitious social experiments of our time” by the N.Y. Times Magazine.   Strong violence and language.  Good for tweens through adult.

Shipbreaker by Paolo Bacigalupi wins 2011 Printz Award

10 Mar

Paolo Bacigalupi is also a 2010 National Book Award Finalist in Young People’s Literature

Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi
Little, Brown & Co.


In America’s Gulf Coast region, where grounded oil tankers are being broken down for parts, Nailer, a teenage boy, works the light crew, scavenging for copper wiring just to make quota–and hopefully live to see another day. But when, by luck or chance, he discovers an exquisite clipper ship beached during a recent hurricane, Nailer faces the most important decision of his life: Strip the ship for all it’s worth or rescue its lone survivor, a beautiful and wealthy girl who could lead him to a better life. . . .


Paolo Bacigalupi’s writing has appeared in High Country News,, The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, and Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine. His short fiction has been nominated for two Nebula Awards and four Hugo Awards, and won the Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award for best science fiction short story of the year. His short story collection PUMP SIX AND OTHER STORIES was a 2008 Locus Award winner for Best Collection and also named a Best Book of the Year by Publishers Weekly.

His debut novel THE WINDUP GIRL was named by TIME Magazine as one of the ten best novels of 2009, and also won the Hugo, Nebula, Locus, Compton Crook, and John W. Campbell Memorial Awards. His most recent novel, SHIP BREAKER, is his first for young adults and has received starred reviews from Publishers Weekly, Booklist, and The Horn Book.

Paolo lives in Western Colorado with his wife and son, where he is currently working on a new novel.

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