Posts tagged ‘Reading’

November 14, 2011

Free Books! Seriously.

Today I’m donning my editor hat because I have something really fun to share with you, reader friends—especially you mommies and anyone else who loves picture books.

A few weeks ago, I met with the founder of a pretty cool new digital picture book platform called uTales. It’s a subscription-based picture book service, kind of like Netflix, kind of like Spotify. The cool thing—okay, there are lots of cool things—is that you can not only read picture books, but you can create them, too. The books on the site are not ones you’re going to find at your library or local bookstore. They were created on the site, and while they may be published in print in the future, currently, they’re only digital.

Lest you be wary about the quality, as I initially was, know that there is an editorial panel—of both professionals and hand-picked “uTalers”—who determine which books are worthy of being “published”. From what I’ve read thus far, probably a dozen of the 150 titles, there are a few punctuation issues, but the stories and illustrations are top-notch.

So where do the free books come in?  Well, having met with the founder (fingers crossed that I find a place on the editorial panel in the future), he offered me a free 15-day trial to share with you!

This isn’t a contest; there’s no limit to the number of people who can take advantage of it. It’s simply an effort to get the word out about this new take on what “picture book” means and how readers interact with them.

Here’s the link for the free sign-up: http://utales.com/users/sign_up

I really encourage you to give it a shot. The books work on computers, iPads, and iPhones. The site just launched at the beginning of November, and the more people who try it now, the more the folks behind it will know about the public’s interest. I currently have no professional association with them, I just think it’s pretty cool. So does Jacob. To him, it would only be better if I let him press the buttons on the computer.

Happy reading, reader friends!

P.S. You can also buy individual titles. For now, ignore the “Buy” buttons under the titles. The free trial really is free, and the entire library is open to you!

P.P.S. This one’s for you, Uncle Michael:

July 18, 2011

Building a Library . . . with Dolly Parton

I love when Jacob gets mail.  It’s rare, but it’s such a treat when it happens.  Even if he doesn’t know what mail is quite yet, I love seeing his name on a package.

 

The other day, when a copy of The Little Engine That Could arrived with his name on it, I was more than excited.  This package meant that Jacob was officially enrolled in Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library.

 

Dolly Parton? you ask.  Imagination what now?

 

A while back, a friend sent me some information about a free book program that had been launched in New York, among other cities in the U.S., Canada, and the U.K.  Dolly Parton teamed up with Penguin to create a program that would get books into the homes of preschoolers (read: children ages 0-5), regardless of their families’ income.  She started the program in her hometown, and it’s now available in any community that makes it available to all preschoolers and commits enough resources to it.  Every child’s first book with the program is The Little Engine That Could, and after that each child receives one book a month until s/he turns five.  New books are chosen each year, so if siblings are signed up, each will build his or her own unique library.

 

Luckily, New York is a participating city, and I signed Jacob up as soon as possible.  Check it out here: http://imaginationlibrary.com/ and get involved if you can!  What a great program!

 

I offered Jacob a dramatic reading of The Little Engine That Could while he ate dinner that night, and I think he liked it–lots of repetition, lots of bright colors on the pages.  I don’t think I’d read this book through as an adult, and I’ve got to say, I’m so glad to have it in our home.  I can’t wait for next month’s selection!

July 12, 2011

Dancing Home

Today is a very special day in my life as an editor.  The first book I edited—Dancing Home by Alma Flor Ada and her son, Gabriel M. Zubizarreta—was published today by Atheneum Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Simon & Schuster’s Children’s Publishing Division.

 

 

Dancing Home is a story for middle-grade readers (ages 9-12) that alternates between the perspectives of Mexican-American Margie and her Mexican cousin Lupe.  Margie has finally convinced the kids in her California school that she is one-hundred percent American, just like they are. But when Lupe comes to visit and attend school with Margie for a year, everything changes.  Margie resents the effect Lupe’s arrival has on her family, her friends, and her life at school.  Meanwhile, Lupe is struggling to learn a new language and find her place in a new school.  Both girls are in need of a friend, and with the help of a special Mexican dance, they find one in one another.

 

The book is being simultaneously published in English and Spanish (I helped very little with the Spanish edition, Nacer bailando—majoring in German really wasn’t practical).  Although I did the majority of the editorial work on the English edition before I left S&S in November, there was still plenty of work to do by the other incredibly talented people at Atheneum.  I recently got advance copies of both editions, and let me tell you, they did a beautiful job.

 

Clearly this book has a special place in my heart, and I was delighted to find that trade review journals liked it, too!  Here’s what they had to say:

 

“The third-person narration shifts its focus gently from girl to girl, allowing readers access to their thoughts and feelings…. Although sometimes wise beyond their years, Margie and Lupe will charm readers as each girl struggles for belonging and acceptance in this realistic novel.”

KIRKUS REVIEWS, June 1, 2011

“This story will assist readers in embracing their own heritage and developing an appreciation for their classmates’ backgrounds. It’s an enjoyable offering (and a great read-aloud) that will capture readers’ attention and have them rooting for the cousins and their friendships and family relationships.”

School Library Journal, July 2011

“Ada, the author of many multicultural titles, including Tales Our Abuelitas Told: A Hispanic Folktale Collection (2006), and Zubizarreta write knowingly of the difficulties of a life lived in two cultures. A subplot involving Lupe’s father (who came to America illegally and later abandoned his family) is also well handled, as is the inclusion of a Ruben Dario poem, “To Margarita.” Give this to fans of Pam Muñoz Ryan’s Esperanza Rising (2000) and Becoming Naomi Leon (2004).”

Booklist, July 1, 2011

 

Next time you’re at a bookstore or the library, stop over to the children’s section and check it out.

 

Congratulations to Alma Flor and Gabriel on the publication of their book!

 

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