105 Ways to Give a Book

Comment Challenge 2010: Finish Line

After twenty-one days of commenting, my trusty Post-It note is full. There are hash marks to track my daily comments. There is a series of numbers to one side that represent the blogs from the Comment Challenge Sign-In that I didn’t comment at yet, but intend to go back to. There are circled numbers at the top representing blogs that I need to add to my blog reader or investigate further. There are two days without any comments at all. There are eighteen days with a total of 125 comments marked. There is space for one day — today — left to be added. The hash marks won’t matter, but I’ll do them anyway.

In fact, I’ll continue to keep a Post-It note here on the right side of my laptop and mark my comments, because I found that the reminder helped. It made me push through the inertia of reading passively, to connecting actively. It forced me to drop my insecurities about not writing a comment that reflected breathtaking intelligence and wit, and to focus on leaving simple evidence that I Was Here. It reminded me that my obligation isn’t to foster community only within the confines of my blog, but to go out into that community. Because while my readers are the energy that fuels my blog, I am in turn the energy that feeds another blog — and so it continues.

Our challenge had a set time frame, and today is the day to submit your final tally and/or your experiences with the challenge. If you reached the 100 Comment Mark, be sure to say so, so that you can be entered to win one of our prize packages. If you didn’t make that goal, still sign in to say how you did and how it helped you. Everyone who participated in Comment Challenge 2010 and who signs in here or with Lee will be entered to win door prizes. The winners will be announced on Monday.

But I hope that for most of you, this will just represent the beginning. While having a challenge is fun, the intention is to help form a new habit. Once you start commenting, you find that it is easier than it seemed to be. You start reading blogs with half a thought forming in your mind, one that becomes a full sentence that you can add to the conversation. Because that’s what blog posts are: conversations waiting to happen.

Let me share my gratitude to my friend Lee Wind because his energy, enthusiasm, and commitment fueled this venture. Without him, I would have spent January in a winter malaise, waking only to enter my picture vote and harsh on the name iPad. Lee, you rock.

For today and tomorrow: Sign in below. For always:

Read. Blog. Comment.

Comment Challenge 2010: Push to the Finish

We are closing in on the finish line for Comment Challenge 2010, but there is still time to get in your one hundred comments. To help you make that last push, Lee Wind and I have pulled together our prize packages, which will be awarded to three folks selected at random from the 100 Commenter Club.
The Cybils YA Package
A selection of three of the Cybils Young Adult Fiction finalists

The Electronic Package
The e-book The Zen of Blogging and a $15 Amazon credit

The All Ages Package
A selection of signed books for preschool, early chapter, middle-grade, and young adult.
There will also be prizes awarded at random from everyone who signs in at the finish line post with their totals (or estimated totals) from the Comment Challenge. So even if you didn’t make it to a hundred comments, join us at the party on Thursday and talk about how you did. You may even win a prize — a handmade blank journal to track your thoughts, a MotherReader handmade recycled paper necklace, a YA ARC, or maybe something I don’t even know about yet.

Read, Blog, Comment. You can do it!

ABC Storytime: J & K are for...

I’m combining the letters J and K because I don’t appear to have ever done a storytime for J and I’m waaaaaaay behind schedule in putting these up. I get distracted by other things and forget about these posts. Is there hope for me? Anyway, here are...

The Letters J and K

Book: This is the House that Jack Built, by Simms Taback

Rhyme: “Jack and the Candlestick”
Jack be nimble, Jack be quick
Jack jump over the candlestick.

Book: One, Two, Three... Jump! by Penelope Lively

Book: I Love You, Blue Kangaroo, by Emma Chichester Clark

Fingerplay: “The Brown Kangaroo”
The brown kangaroo is very funny
She leaps and runs and hops like a bunny
(two fingers up and hop)
And on her stomach is a pocket so wide
(place other hand on tummy)
Her baby can jump in and go for a ride
(first hand jumps into “pocket”)

Book: Katie Loves the Kittens, by John Himmelman

Fingerplay: “Five Little Kittens”
Five little kittens standing in a row
(hold up five fingers)
They nod their heads to the children so
(bend fingers)
They run to the left, they run to the right
(run fingers to the left and then to the right)
They stand up and stretch in the bright sunlight
(stretch fingers out tall)
Along comes a dog who’s in for some fun
(hold up one finger from opposite hand)
MEOW! See those little kittens run!
(let fingers run)

Alternate Books: A Kiss Like This, by Catherine Anholt; Jumpy Jack and Googily, by Meg Rosoff, and Knuffle Bunny, by Mo Willems.

Links to material on Amazon.com contained within this post may be affiliate links for the Amazon Associates program, for which this site may receive a referral fee.

A Picture, a List, and a Challenge (or Two)

So my fifth grader didn’t make the finalists with her picture, but that’s okay because a fellow book blogger kid is a finalist and her picture is awesome. I love that she’s captured the theme of the contest so well, and with a nice touch of humor. Please go vote for her picture — not just because Bookie Woogie is a member of our kidlitosphere community, but also because her picture really is the best. Go vote now at 5 Minutes for Mom.

I never do book challenges where you have to keep track of the titles over any period of time. It stresses me out. However, I did sign-up for the People of Color Reading Challenge and encourage you to do the same. While I do read books with an eye toward diversity and expanding my own cultural awareness, I am not as good as making sure that I actually review those titles. I am hoping that the POC Reading Challenge will keep me more accountable. After the last week, it is one small thing that I can do as a blogger and a reader. Go sign up now — but after the voting for the picture.

The deadline is closing in on Fuse#8’s Top 100 Children’s Fiction Chapter Book list. Think of your ten top chapter books, list them in order of preference, and email them to Betsy. The picture book list she did was amazing, and you don’t want to miss your chance to voice your opinion in this list. Go now to get the full instructions — but after the voting for the picture and the signing up for the POC Challenge.

Then if you still come back here, perhaps you could donate something for our Comment Challenge prize packages. A signed book, a crafty necklace, an original sketch, etc. Actually, the original artwork or sketch should probably be limited to actual illustrators — though I may toss in a zendala. Email me at MotherReader AT Gmail DOT com. (You know how screwed we all are once spam robots figure out that format.)

Thoughts on Some Week

Well, that was some kind of week. Awards and a controversy. Honestly, it was too much for me to take in, much less write about. Plus I didn’t know what to think, and in a way, I still don’t.

Everyone can agree that what Bloomsbury did with the Magic Under Glass cover was a big bowl of wrong. I mean, didn’t we just have this conversation with the same publisher? It’s maddening, if not insulting, for them to ignore the whole issue again. And it’s appropriate that they’ve at least acknowledged the error by changing the cover of the book.

Except, I don’t feel good. I guess I feel a little pleased that bloggers can affect change in the publishing industry, but mostly I don’t feel good.

In fact, I feel bad for the author who poured her heart into her first book, chose to feature a woman of color as the main character, and then found her book in the middle of a fight. And now her book’s release will be delayed as Bloomsbury tries to do the right thing by the cover. It’s not the author’s fault, but she has to suffer the consequences.

I don’t feel good that book bloggers were tossed in the mix of blame for not noticing or reporting on the cover earlier. That argument assumes that (a) lots of bloggers get early copies, (b) the bloggers actually read that book of all the books they get, (c) in reading that book they notice the cover, and (d) they feel like reviewing the book. Book bloggers — we’re all on the same team here.

I certainly don’t feel good that this is the only approach we can take to make publishers put diverse characters on the book covers. We have to catch them and make them do the right thing? That’s not a well-working strategy for any of us.

I don’t feel good that we spent the week on this issue — even if we had to spend the week on this issue — instead of getting to sit back and enjoy the ALA Youth Media Awards. This was their week. But instead of discussions, we got quick lists of winners and then we were back to the controversy.

And in that same vein, I don’t feel good that instead of talking about books that feature people of color from the Coretta Scott King and Pura Belpré awards, we spent the week talking about how we’re not talking about books that feature people of color.

Where does that leave me? Well, in the places where I disagree on methods or strategy with Susan or Doret or Ari, I am grateful for their intensity and vulnerability, which keeps us all aware and energized. I thank Colleen for following the discussion with genuine passion, but also an intelligent focus on the issues rather than the distractions. I thought Leila did a wonderful job of breaking down the discussion and giving a viable course of action — to write the publishers directly and express our concerns/dismay/outrage. And I appreciate Liz Burns’s thoughts on accountability — that by putting our voices out there as book bloggers, we aren’t just making a list of books we like, but have a greater responsibility to feature diverse books.

In the end, I want to take this week with me — the good and the bad feelings of it — to make me a better reader, blogger, and advocate. I trust that our fantastic community of bloggers can continue the dialogue, but I also hope that we won’t have to have this exact conversation again. I’m looking at you, Bloomsbury.

Comment Challenge 2010: Second Check-In

I just spent too much time writing and tinkering with the links for my post at Booklights today, where I covered the Newbery, Caldecott, Corretta Scott King, Schneider, and Pura Belpré awards with three highlighted titles. It’s 11:30 a.m. and I still need to shower, so we’re going to keep today’s Comment Challenge post short.

Here’s a quote that has stuck with me since I first saw it in June of this year. I encourage you to go to Chris Brogan’s site to read the whole article, because it could change the way you think about blogging. Or at least put it in a broader context.
The difference between an audience and a community is which direction the chairs are pointing.
In terms of commenting, that quote means to me that I can sit here and write at you, expecting readers, audience, adoring fans. Or I can make the effort to engage in and support my community by coming out to hear what you’re saying, and sometimes letting you know that I’m there. By commenting.

Check in today here or with Lee Wind on how commenting is going for you. And spend some time this last week of the challenge thinking what you can do to turn the chairs.

ALA Awards: Coretta Scott King, Schneider, Pura Belpré, Carnegie

There is a lot going on in the kidlitosphere to write about, but for now I’m going back to the ALA Youth Media Awards. There are complete lists everywhere, most notably in that there link, so my post is more about my reactions than any official summary.

Coretta Scott King Book Award
Recognizing an African American author and illustrator of outstanding books for children and young adults

Coretta Scott King (Author) Book Award:

Bad News for Outlaws: The Remarkable Life of Bass Reeves, Deputy U.S. Marshal
by Vaunda Micheaux Nelson
Sorry, I don’t know it.

CSK Author Honor Book:

Mare’s WarMare’s War
by Tanita S. Davis
Holy crap! The winner is a longtime KidLitosphere author and Blogging Friend Forever! This win is right on the money as the book is wonderful. When you hear complaints about African American books only focused on slavery or civil rights, look to Mare’s War as a model for another way to portray the experience of people of color in current and historical times. The positive and strong characters also earned the author an nomination for a NAACP image award. Yeah, Tanita!

Coretta Scott King (Illustrator) Book Award:

My People
illustrated by Charles R. Smith Jr., written by Langston Hughes
I saw this as a Cybils Fiction Picture Book nominee, and it didn’t impress me nearly as much as the next book.

CSK Illustrator Honor Book:

The Negro Speaks of RiversThe Negro Speaks of Rivers
illustrated by E. B. Lewis, written by Langston Hughes
I didn’t make any CSK predictions here, but at Fuse#8’s prediction post I suggested this book for an illustrator award. It is stunning. I’ve liked the artwork of E.B. Lewis in other books, but with the evocative poem as his guideline he came up with some amazing interpretations.

Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe New Talent Author Award:

The Rock and the River
by Kekla Magoon
I put this book on hold at the library after I realized it was never going to just be there when I went. I’ve heard wonderful things about it, and met the author in New York City this year. We talked about blogs and the Liar cover.

Coretta Scott King/Virginia Hamilton Award for Lifetime Achievement:

Walter Dean Myers
This is the first time the award was given out, and they couldn’t have chosen a better person to honor.

Schneider Family Book Award
Honoring books that embody an artistic expression of the disability experience

written and illustrated by Bonnie Christensen
The picture book winner and I haven’t seen it. D’oh!

Anything but TypicalAnything but Typical
by Nora Raleigh Baskin
The winner for middle grade, a Cybils finalists — and I nominated it for that category. I really liked this book, and seemingly forgot about it when making my Newbery predictions. Now that I think about it, I would have loved to see this on that list too.

Marcelo in the Real World
by Francisco X. Stork
The winner for young adult literature is an amazing book that will stay with you long after you’ve read it. The biggest surprise here is not its win in this category, but its exclusion from the Printz awards. I’m not the only one saying that either.

Pura Belpré Award
Honoring a Latino writer and illustrator whose children’s books best portray, affirm and celebrate the Latino cultural experience

Pura Belpré (Illustrator) Award:

Book Fiesta!: Celebrate Children’s Day/Book Day; Celebremos El día de los niños/El día de los libros
illustrated by Rafael López, written by Pat Mora
Well, I wish I had seen this, but I didn’t.

Pura Belpré Illustrator Honor Books:

Diego: Bigger Than LifeDiego: Bigger Than Life, illustrated by David Diaz, written by Carmen T. Bernier-Grand; Gracias Thanks, illustrated by John Parra, written by Pat Mora; My Abuelita, illustrated by Yuyi Morales, written by Tony Johnston;
Liked Diego. Liked Gracias Thanks. But the illustrations of My Abuelita creeped me out. There, I said it.

Pura Belpré (Author) Award:

Return to Sender
written by Julia Alvarez
Vaguely remember hearing of it, but it feels like a long time ago. Oh, released January 2009, that would explain it. Putting it on hold now. Be right back...

Pura Belpré Author Honor Books:

Diego: Bigger Than Life, written by Carmen T. Bernier-Grand, illustrated by David Diaz; and Federico García Lorca, written by Georgina Lázaro, illustrated by Enrique S. Moreiro
This is an interesting aspect to this award. The book can win for both author and illustrator, but in separate categories. With all respect to Dora the Explorer — Go, Diego, go!

Andrew Carnegie Medal
Given for excellence in children’s video

Paul R. Gagne and Mo Willems of Weston Woods, producers of “Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!
Narrated by Willems and Jon Scieszka with animation by Pete List
There wasn’t a video of this, like seven years ago? Huh.

Links to material on Amazon.com contained within this post may be affiliate links for the Amazon Associates program, for which this site may receive a referral fee.

Stong and Happy

So Five Minutes for Mom has a drawing contest for kids sponsored by Yoplait, with the theme “Strong and Happy.” I don’t usually participate in contests or giveaways, but the prize is $1000 for educational pursuits for the winner. As it so happens, my ten-year-old daughter was accepted into an exclusive summer program for young performers at Broadway Artists Alliance, for which we could use the tuition.

Anyway, her picture leans more to the happy than to the strong, but as she says of her and her cousin, “Together we’re strong and happy.” I can’t argue with that.

Five Minutes for Mom will choose finalists and then have a popular vote to determine the winners. If she makes the final group, I’ll be back begging asking for your vote. Because at ten years old doing this, she’s more than ready for formal training.

Links to material on Amazon.com contained within this post may be affiliate links for the Amazon Associates program, for which this site may receive a referral fee.
Category: 8 comments

Newbery, Caldecott, Printz 2010

I put my awards predictions on Booklights this year, and boy did I nail it! Not that it was a particularly hard year to predict, but you never know when a surprise is going to slip through. Well, actually it did in the Printz award, but I’ll get to that later. There will be helpful lists of winners all over the place, but here are my personal reactions.

Newbery Medal


When You Reach MeWhen You Reach Me
by Rebecca Stead
One of my most horrifying blogger moments was realizing that I had this book as an ARC, but didn’t get around to reviewing it until it seemed like everybody had talked about it already. Still kicking myself. I did profile it on Booklights as a very strong contender to win, and was right there. It also was a book that got some of the most engaged and passionate discussion at the DC Kidlit Book Club, which was telling right there. Awesome choice for the win. (Edited to add Booklights text: Miranda is comfortable with her friends, family, and generally her New York City life. But it feels as if things start to shift when her best friend Sal pulls away from her. Left adrift in sixth grade, she meets new people and tries new things - but is most intrigued by the strange notes appearing for her eyes only. The story is clever, layered, interesting, and intelligent. The buzz is big, the hype is high, and the love is loyal for this title. I won't be surprised to see it somewhere on the list, and maybe even as the winner.)


Where the Mountain Meets the MoonWhere the Mountain Meets the Moon
by Grace Lin
On the other hand, I’ve been talking about this book a lot. Like crazy a lot. I fell in love from the moment Grace posted the cover art, was delighted to get the ARC, was happy to be part of the blog tour, gave it to my daughter for Christmas, and will be talking about it on Wednesday at my Mother/Daughter book club. I didn’t think that it would win, because it doesn’t have that dark edge that the Newbery goes for, but am so happy to see it take a medal. (Edited to add Booklights text: Seeped in her father's fairy tales and pushed by her mother's sighs, Minli leaves home to search for the Old Man of the Moon to change her family's fortune. Along the way her kindness makes her many friends, who turn out to provide the help she needs. Incorporating Asian fairy tales with her own adventure, this is a beautiful book of love, friendship, and gratitude. The full color panel illustrations throughout add to the astonishing beauty of the book. And just look at the cover! Lots of people are hoping for a Newbery for the delightful book and author too, but it may be too light and happy for another award that tends towards death and calamity.)

The Evolution of Calpurnia TateThe Evolution of Calpurnia Tate
by Jacqueline Kelly
So I didn’t write about this book either until recently, but I was late to the party on discovering it. I did read it, loved it, and thought that it had a good chance of making the Newbery list for its strong writing and story. And hey, a historical fiction winner without death or dismemberment! It’s a new day for Newbery. (Edited to add Booklights text: The hardest thing about this book is making the one sentence description sound gripping. It's the story of a girl in 1899 who discovers the world of science under the tutorage of her grandfather. Calpurnia Tate is the youngest of a bunch of brothers, and can sometimes get lost in the shuffle to spend time at the creek looking at plant specimens or holed up in Grandfather's lab, testing the fermentation of pecans to wine. But for all this exposure to science, she's still growing into a woman at the turn of century and wonders when she'll have to put away her magnifying glass for a mop. Wonderful historical fiction that doesn't focus on death, dismemberment, or abject poverty - which is why it may not be taken seriously enough to win the Newbery.)

Claudette Colvin: Twice Towards Justice
by Phillip Hoose
Didn’t read it, but have it on hold because I was pretty sure it would make the list. Some list, at least.

The Mostly True Adventures of Homer P. Figg
by Rodman Philbrick
Never heard of this title, so here’s our Newbery surprise.

Caldecott Medal


The Lion and the MouseThe Lion & the Mouse
by Jerry Pinkney
Seriously, no one is surprised here. The book is gorgeous. Absolutely gorgeous. By taking the old tale and making it wordless, Pinkney gave the story new life and interpretation. I’m only concerned where the gold medal will go on this breathtaking cover. I’m glad I have a copy without the medal, frankly.


All the WorldAll the World
written by Liz Garton Scanlon, illustrated by Marla Frazee
Another beautiful book that could have won had it not been published the same year as Pinkney’s book. Guess those are the breaks. Like The Lion & the Mouse, it’s on the Cybils Fiction Picture Book shortlist.

Red Sings from Treetops: A Year in Colors
written by Joyce Sidman, illustrated by Pamela Zagarenski
I haven’t seen this book yet, but it did make the shortlist for Cybils Poetry.

A complete list of the ALSC winners in a variety of categories is available at the ALSC site.

Printz Award (Known this year as “Where’s Marcelo?”)


Going BovineGoing Bovine
by Libba Bray
Read it, liked it, recommended it as a must-read of 2009. Did not think it would win because it seemed to get a love it/hate it reaction from people, and I figured that the reactions would cancel each other out and knock this off the list.


Charles and Emma: The Darwins’ Leap of Faith, by Deborah Heiligman, The Monstrumologist, by Richard Yancey, Punkzilla, by Adam Raff, and Tales of the Madman Underground: An Historical Romance 1973, by John Barnes
I’m running these together, because I haven’t read any of them and have only even heard of Charles and Emma. It seems like an odd batch of mostly quirky or unusual books, and with a glaring omission of Marcelo in the Real World.

A complete list of the YALSA winners in a variety of categories is available at the YALSA site.

Links to material on Amazon.com contained within this post may be affiliate links for the Amazon Associates program, for which this site may receive a referral fee.

National Delurking Week: Last Post

DelurkThree times a month I think I’ll stop writing this blog. Three times a year I’m sure of it. Yet here I am, one week from my fourth blog birthday, still writing. Why?


I keep writing because of you. Not in an altruistic way thinking I have such important information to share. Honestly, I’m more likely to compare pandas to Ashton Kutcher than to bestow pearls of wisdom. But knowing that you are reading keeps me writing. It energizes me. You’re the gas in the hybrid, keeping the engine speeding along.

When I push National Delurking Week and the Comment Challenge, I do so for two reasons. First, because of what you can get when you step out of the shadows and become an active participant in blogs — a sense of connection and community. But also for what you can give — energy, ideas, and humanity — to what can be a lonely hobby. Statcounters show readers, but only as numbers, not as people who like popcorn and wool socks and muppets and hackeysacks and sparkling snow. Statistics can’t reveal blogging friends who strive to find joy, persevere, focus, savor, or, “as Tracy Jordan said on 30 Rock, ‘Live every week like it’s Shark Week!’” (Agreed, Jim.)

As you read blogs, remember how much you contribute just by saying, "I’m here." Be the energy. And think about how you can live every week like it’s National Delurking Week.

Comment Challenge 2010: First Check-In

There is no obligation to comment for the Check-In, but it’s here as a way to share your experience and build our energy. I am so happy that Lee and I ran this challenge during National Delurking Week, because the goals are so aligned. So instead of giving a theme for delurking, today’s check-in for the Comment Challenge 2010 is a simple How’s it going for you?

Personally, I’ve been a notch over five comments a day this whole week. And it feels good to be back. You see, I generally do comment on blogs — or at least I do in long stretches. But with 2009 starting to wear on me, I found myself commenting less on blogs, and more on Facebook. Which in some ways was fine, because it kept up a connection. But really it was a bit of a cop-out to answer a status update with “true dat,” instead of taking some time to contribute my thoughts to an excellent blog post about the very nature of libraries at Tea Cozy. However, in my Clean Slate motto, I’m not holding onto guilt for the way I’ve commented before, but instead I’m moving on to interact with a new look toward building the community.

I’ve been thinking about commenting and what prevents us from using this easy tool to connect online. Time, for sure. It feels like an extra thing to do. We also lose time when we read a blog post more attentively, as we must to comment on it. Of course, in the time we lose we also gain an appreciation for the depth of the writing. Often a blog post doesn’t inspire us to contribute, and that’s okay. Not every bit of writing will resonate with every reader.

But I think a lot of our silence — especially for habitual lurkers — lies in our fear of writing something dull, dumb, or wrong. We know in conversation we occasionally say something dull, dumb, or wrong, but we can just go on like it never happened. It’s no big deal. But add the notion that our statements are written, and we get a little shy. Well, I’m here to tell you that it doesn’t matter. This week I’ve written comments that are dull, dumb, and wrong and I survived. I talked about how much I loved a book — and got the name wrong at A Year of Reading. I went into a dull discussion of my use of italics with Madelyn Rosenberg. My Happy Book Day comment to Lee Wind sounded dumb to me after I posted it, but I’ll roll with it as I know that my sentiment — to congratulate Lee on publishing an e-book  — will certainly trump any awkward sentence structure.

You know how hard it is to get over the DDW’s? So hard that I’m a little embarrassed putting in links to my examples. Really. But I think that it’s important that I do show my own mini-mistakes because — here’s the payoff — they won’t be a big deal to you. We’re our own harshest critic. And if you blog and get comments yourself, you know that you don’t judge the commenters — unless they’re spammers, and that’s a totally different thing.

Anyway, back to the check-in: How’s commenting going for you so far?

National Delurking Week III

DelurkNational Delurking Week continues, being y’know... a week. I know that there are long-time lurkers out there waiting to be first-time commenters, so come on out and play with us. I’m staying with the positive energy, but making the question a bit easier. In fact, you’ll only have to toss out a word or two to participate. Today topic: What small thing makes you happy?

After seeing what a steady diet of negative thinking has done to people, I’ve made a conscious effort to be more positive. There are really two ways to look for happiness. One is to step back and look at the big picture where you can be grateful for your family, friends, health, job, house, and indoor plumbing. The other way is to look at the things that make you happy in small, everyday ways. Right here, without leaving my seat, I can look around me and say these things make me happy:
My laptop
I don’t know how I lived without one for so long, and I love love love my Macbook!

I saw this Zendala video, and now I’ve been making them in little bits of downtime.

My camera
I don’t take amazing photos, but I do take good pictures and love doing so.

Hallmark ornaments
I always buy at least one a year after the sales. Right now I’m enjoying the Marigold Fairy, which reminds me of my niece.

American Idol
My fifth grader and I watch it together and analyze the singing. It’s part fun, part vocal class.
Now that I’ve primed the pump, it’s your turn. Delurk today with a happy thing like Sharpie pens, lip gloss, school glue, funny coffee mugs, Harry Potter, kids’ artwork, Facebook, snowglobes...

National Delurking Week II

DelurkThanks to those who commented yesterday and kicked off National Delurking Week. I truly appreciated your congratulations on behalf of my daughter, and I loved reading about the things that were making January great for you. In fact, I’m going to continue with the positivity theme with today’s delurking topic: What’s your resolution or goal or motto for the year?

For me, 2009 was a crappy year. I hate to even say that, because I can’t negate the big, wonderful things in my life. My family is generally healthy, financially comfortable, and amazingly connected. We all support each other in our individual ventures, do a lot of things together, and simply enjoy each other’s company. I feel blessed and lucky and grateful. But.

If there ever were a year where I felt cursed in a death-by-a-thousand-paper-cuts kind of way, 2009 was it. Nothing was devastating, but nothing was easy either. I lucked into someone who would look at my picture book manuscript — and she left that job. I hoped to be more involved in the Junior Girl Scout troop, and had the whole thing dumped in my lap in September. I made peace with losing my job in June, to find out that additional budget cuts mean that I am never getting it back.

And it was my whole family that went through this craptastic year. Bill was promoted in his job, to find himself swamped with meetings and leading a department in an era of belt-tightening. He was thrilled to participate in the International Shootout, but it would be the one time that we lost valuable equipment. The fifth grader got a terrible, homework-obsessed teacher. The teen had her iPod stolen. It was like this all year. I’m not going into all of this for sympathy, but to set the stage for my 2010 motto:

Clean Slate.

You see, with so much going wrong it became hard to do anything at all. Everything felt tainted with history, baggage, failure. But what if I approached things this year without guilt or annoyance or despair? Instead of berating myself for not answering those emails, I could just answer them — or delete them and let it go. Instead of blaming someone else for not being organized with my troop, I could just set the time aside to get things together. Instead of being paralyzed by what to do with my manuscript, I could just send it out.

It’s come to me in this year of “growth” that much of what holds us back is in what we won’t release. The tasks themselves are often less onerous than what we bring to them. Guilt. Blame. Anxiety. Doubt. Discouragement. We can’t banish these feelings, but maybe we can push them aside once in a while. Backtrack where we have to, but without issues. Let go when possible, without remorse. Start over when we can, without fear. Look at tasks and relationships differently, as if they were fresh.

What could I accomplish with a Clean Slate?

How about you?

National Delurking Week

Delurk Other than the Arctic cold, this month is awesome. The Cybils finalists were announced and the choices are fab. Bloggiesta got people psyched to take care of bloggy business, and Comment Challenge 2010 is off the hook. In another week we’ll have the ALA Youth Media Awards, which is totally TCP (my family’s own made-up text-speak for The Cat’s Pajamas). And now it’s National Delurking Week!!!

I’m using the graphic I got from Paper Napkin in 2007. It is one of my favorite things ever. There are plenty more out there through Google or Yahoo images. Go find your favorite and encourage folks to delurk on your blog too.

Because I know that one of the obstacles in leaving a comment is feeling like you have nothing unique to add, this week I’ll be featuring posts to make it easier to delurk. And delurk you will, if I have anything to say about it. So today’s topic is: What is making or is going to make this month a winner for you?

In a personal way this month is amazing for me because my daughter auditioned for and was accepted into the summer workshop program of Broadway Artists Alliance in New York City. She had to perform parts of two songs and do a script reading in front of judges, plus learn a dance routine with other candidates and perform that in small groups. And all with lots of older girls around and me in another room. Honestly, the audition experience itself was worth it, much less acceptance in the five-day program. I am so proud of her. But I’m not entirely surprised.

Bloggiesta Personal Update

Okay, so I did good work for Bloggiesta, but not excellent work. I’m also not sure I’m done yet, but it seemed like an update was in order.

How sad is it that my note for the first hour simply says “reviews” and I have no recollection of what reviews I was doing?

My second hour I spend cleaning up my blogroll a bit. I removed some blogs that aren’t posting and added a few that I never got around to adding. I don’t know if anyone looks at blogrolls anymore, but I’m not ready to part with mine. It doesn’t have everything I follow on my blogreader, so I updated that too. It was actually in pretty good shape, though I suspect the Comment Challenge will see me adding blogs back to it.

My third hour I spent on some of the mini-challenges. I checked my copyright info, corrected post labels, added to my cheat sheet, and dumped dead links. Then I took a break for dinner and Lost episodes with the family. (We ended with the one where Sayid shoots Ben. Remember watching that and just going nuts?)

Last night I spent two hours on updating member links at KidLitosphere Central. Twenty minutes of that was beating myself up for neglecting it for so long. I also spent an hour clearing my Google Reader, though I did star a fair number of posts to go back to when I have more time. (Isn’t fooling yourself like that a hoot?)

I had high hopes for today, but so far I’ve only given two hours to Bloggiesta — one for typing reviews that I had scribbled in a notebook and one for cleaning up blog-related emails. With only eight hours so far, I’m hoping to come back tonight — after more Lost.

Edited to Add: I was able to do some blog reading, commenting, and email culling for two hours tonight. So my total time is ten hours, with five mini-challenges, twenty comments, and some new ideas in my head. I really loved having Bloggiesta in January, especially when it was too cold to want to leave the house anyway.

In other news, the Comment Challenge is rockin’ with the crossover of the Bloggiesta and the promotion by the KidLit/YA book bloggers. So, thanks!!!

Bloggiesta Mini-Challenge Sign-In

Hello, fellow Bloggiesters! For my Bloggiesta mini-challenge, join Comment Challenge 2010, leave your first ten comments on blogs new to you, and comment here to say that’s you’ve completed those two tasks to enter for Bloggiesta prizes. Of course, I hope you’ll keep commenting for twenty-one days.

So that I don’t clutter my page with a separate update, this post is also my own beginning Bloggiesta post, starting at 11:00 a.m. EST and hoping to get some great blogging housekeeping done. (As opposed to my actual housekeeping, which is shameful.)

Comment Challenge 2010: Sign-Up

Today begins Comment Challenge 2010. Running through Thursday, January 28, the goal is to comment on at least five book blogs a day. Keep track of your numbers, report in on Thursdays for support, and comment like you mean it for three weeks. At the end, we’ll award prizes at random to bloggers who’ve passed the 100 Comment Mark — along with some random participation prizes. If you have any questions, check out the FAQs.

As this weekend is Bloggiesta — a chance to devote time to bloggy activites — you may join the Comment Challenge and leave your first ten comments on blogs new to you to complete your mini-challenge. There will be a separate post on Saturday to check in for completing that task.

Sign up here, go forth and comment.

Comment Challenge Participants
1. MotherReader
2. Lee Wind
3. Bookie Woogie
4. The Furnace
5. Brimful Curiosities
6. Niki
7. Sarah N.
8. Sandra Stiles
9. Jim Randolph
10. Angela
11. Abby the Librarian
12. Kyle
13. Rasco from RIF
14. Kelly Polark
15. Sherry at Semicolon
16. Zoe @ Playing by the book (Moonshot)
17. Wendy @ Six Boxes
18. stella Villalba
19. Kathy (Insde of a Dog)
20. Colleen (Books in the City)
21. Terry Doherty (Reading Tub)
22. Loree Griffin Burns
23. Jen Lehmann
24. Richard Hanks
25. Kristi
26. Caroline Starr Rose
27. Lori Calabrese
28. Becky (Becky's Book Reviews)
29. Saints and Spinners
30. Kimberly (lectitans)
31. Kim Baker
32. Melissa Wiley @ Bonny Glen
33. Heather (Composition Book)
34. Mary Lee
35. Karen at Literate Lives
36. The1stdaughter (There's A Book)
37. Sherrie Petersen
38. Mitali Perkins
39. I Heart Monster
40. bestbook
41. Vicki~Reading At The Beach
42. Kathy Erskine
43. Carmela Martino
44. Kathy Bloomfield
45. Sarah-GreenBeanTeenQueen
46. Carol Coven Grannick
47. Sarah Rettger
48. Kim(Wild About Nature)
49. Melissa@Book Nut
50. Jenny
51. Natasha @ Maw Books
52. Charlotte
53. Erika (Reading with Momma)
54. JoAnn Early Macken
55. Tabitha
56. Callista (SMS Book Reviews)
57. Jaymie
58. Tasha Saecker
59. Anamaria
60. Jennie from Biblio File
61. Grace (Books Like Breathing)
62. Slushbusters
63. Natalie @ This Purple Crayon
64. Z.N. Hively
65. Trisha
66. T. Fox
67. Kara Parlin
68. msmac
69. Bill at Literate Lives
70. Peggy Archer
71. Elisabeth (YSPrincess)
72. Lori Walker
73. Irene Latham
74. Jolie
75. Alison (Alison's Book Marks)
76. Jen Robinson's Book Page
77. Rawley at Sweet Reads
78. Ari (Reading in Color)
79. Jeanne Marie Ford
80. Great Kid Books (Mary Ann)
81. Melissa
82. Jenn Bertman (From the Mixed-Up Files)
83. Meg
84. Wendy Morrell
85. Tess
86. Kara (@tardisgrl)
87. Catherine
88. Debbie's World of Books
89. melissa @ 1lbr
90. One Persons Journey Through a World of Books
91. Maureen (Confessions of a Bibliovore)
92. Lexie (Poisoned Rationality)
93. Liz B (Tea Cozy)
94. Carrie, Reading to Know
95. Meg Lippert (StorySleuths)
96. Sharon Mayhew
97. The Brain Lair
98. MillyMarie
99. Suey (It's All About Books)
100. Sarah Mae
101. Sarah (aquafortis)
102. Amused (AmusedByBooks)
103. Doret
104. Esther Hershenhorn
105. Jill of The O.W.L.
106. Colleen (Chasing Ray)
107. Jenny Schwartzberg
108. Tena @ Crazy Book Slut
109. Beth of Library Chicken
110. Alethea (Read Now Sleep Later)
111. Colleen -Books in the City)
112. Lisa Nowak
113. Marg (Reading Adventures)
114. Liz in Ink
115. Michelle (Galleysmith)
116. Paige Y.
117. New Horizon Reviews
118. Sarah
119. Amy
120. Dana (Rantings of a Bookworm Couch Potato)
121. Laura
122. Robin (The Book Nosher)
123. ReadingCountess
124. Three Turtles and Their Pet Librarian
125. Dreadful Penny
126. Kristen (Bookworming in the 21st Century)
127. Kristi(e)
128. Mandy (MandyCanRead)
129. Alexia561
130. Read These Books and Use Them
131. Angie (By Book or By Crook)
132. Alyssa (The Shady Glade)
133. Esme Chocolate & Croissants
134. Hannah (A Quiet Spot)
135. Elie (Ellz Readz)
136. Caroline (Crowding the Book Truck)
137. monica @ paper bridges
138. Kris
139. Moira Rose Donohue
140. Reading My Library
141. Margaret Ann Abrahams
142. Andromeda Jazmon
143. Justine (A Bookful of Thoughts)
144. Holly Cupala
145. debnance at readerbuzz
146. Julie (My Book Retreat)
147. Sondy (Sonderbooks)
148. Katie (Read What You Know)
149. The Kool-Aid Mom (In the Shadow of Mt. TBR)
150. Amber
151. Julie @ My Own Little Corner of the World
152. Moonbeam
153. Rebecca Fabian
154. Margot
155. Jan@eatingyabooks
156. LynnHazen's ImaginaryBlog
157. Marion @ Books & Fiber
158. Teacherninja
159. Shelf Elf
160. Emma (BookingThrough365)
161. Mary Jo Guglielmo
162. The Book Faery Reviews
163. Michelle @ Michelle's Masterful Musings
164. vanessa@Silly Eagle Books
165. M. A. Noeth
166. Kristen (BookNAround)
167. April (Books & Wine)
168. BookMoot
169. Kim Kasch
170. Nicole Langan
171. Miss Pippi @ Pippi's Postings
172. Sami
173. Brenda B. Hill
174. Marge - Tiny Tips for library Fun
175. Gayla
176. Jessica Leader
177. Barrie Summy
178. DaNae
179. Kristi
180. Pat Weaver
181. aloi
182. Simcha (SFF Chat)
183. Gayla (Unfussy Living)
184. Kate (Midnight Book Girl)
185. Peaceful Reader
186. StableGranny
187. Nathalie Mvondo
188. Dee White
189. Michelle Munger
190. Danny House

Learn more about Comment Challenge here.

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Booklights, Comment Challenge, Bloggiesta, NDW

Today at Booklights I’m sharing three of the Cybils Fiction Picture Book finalists. At least one of these will be on the Caldecott list — mark my words.

Tomorrow begins Comment Challenge 2010. Look to the FAQs for all the info, and join us in our community venture.

This weekend is Bloggiesta, hosted by Maw Books. It’s a chance to spend some time improving your blog, catching up on your reviews, and taming your Google Reader.

Next week is National Delurking Week, so plan on coming out of the woodwork and making yourself known.

Of course, we’re continuing with Freeze Your Tail Off Month, brought to the United States straight from the Arctic. Lay your bets now that the cold front will be used to dispute global warming.

Edited to add the text from Booklights.
For the past few months, I've been working as a Cybils panelist to find the best picture books that combine literary value with a kid-friendly appeal. On January 1, 2010 Fiction Picture Book finalists were revealed - along with the finalists from all of the Cybils categories. Looking at the upcoming Caldecott awards, I'm starting my focus on all of the Cybils winners with the ones more likely - in my opinion - also bring home Caldecott silver or gold.
The Lion & the Mouse by Jerry Pinkney The Lion & the MouseGorgeous. Jerry Pinkney has to win the Caldecott for this stunning book. Has to. The wordless book - unless you count the owl sounds and mouse squeaks - allows the reader to fill in the Aesop's fable of the mighty lion who releases a mouse, to find that the tiny creature comes back another day to save him. But by making the story wordless, it removes the arrogance of the lion and the meekness of the mouse, allowing a greater depth of interpretation. This spectacular book breathes new life to an old tale. And I must mention again, gorgeous.
All the World by Liz Garton Scanlon, illustrated by Marla Frazee All the WorldThe Lion & the Mouse is likely to find company on the Caldecott list with this enchanting book. The poetic text is simple, taking a multicultural family through a day that focuses on their connection with each other, with friends and neighbors, and the world around them. The sentiment is lovely and is made more so by the detailed illustrations and breathtaking panoramas. This title encourages repeat readings to expand on the stories contained in the pictures, and the beauty contained in the message.
The Curious Garden by Peter Brown The Curious GardenDon't rule out this title for the Caldecott list, with it's amazing artwork that takes a dark, smoggy urban area to a green, bright lushness. In the story, Liam discovers a little bit of greenery in a gray, bleak city and decides to care for it. He nurtures the struggling plants into a thriving, growing garden which creeps into the city and transforms the buildings and people. If the book is about the value of nature and the environment, it is also about the possibilities in each of us to affect change for the better.

Comment Challenge 2010: FAQ

Actually, that FAQ can’t stand for Frequently Asked Questions, because there were indeed very few questions that needed answers. So let’s call it a Few Answers to Questions (that you might think of asking at some point).

The basics are that Lee Wind and I are taking the much-noted “twenty-one days to form a new habit” to get commenting back on our — and your — radar by running the Comment Challenge from Friday, January 8, through Thursday, January 28. The goal is to comment on at least five book blogs a day. We’ll keep track of our numbers, report in on Thursdays for support, and have prizes awarded at random to bloggers who’ve passed the 100 Comment Mark — along with some random participation prizes. Here are some questions I received last year and my answers.

Where do I sign up?

Sign up at the Friday, January 8th post, either here at MotherReader or with Lee Wind, my co-conspirator. (Note: Direct links will be added on Friday.)

If I don’t start on that Friday, is it too late to start?

No. You can either up your number of comments per day if you want to make the 100 Comment mark, or you can set your own goal and join us for the support and camaraderie.

Five comments a day! How can I do that?

Feel free to set your own goal. Maybe start smaller and build up. Maybe aim for one thoughtful comment and two “I can’t wait to read that!” comments a day.

Does it have to be exactly five daily comments, or can they be averaged?

I will say that it sets the habit better if you make a point to comment every day that you’re reading blogs, but you don’t have to hit exactly five comments every day. Averaging them together is fine.

Does Young Adult blogging count as kidlitosphere?

YA Lit is totally included in the kidlit world. We just haven’t been able to come up with a catchier term than Kid Lit Bloggers or Kidlitosphere — and believe me, we’ve tried.

Do you have to be an exclusive kid lit blogger?

No, you don’t have to be exclusive to kid lit. We’re only pushing the Comment Challenge within the kidlitosphere to boost the energy in our community. We don’t want the knitting blogs to get the fruits of our commenting labor. The challenge is open it to any book blogger who would like to participate. Especially those who would like to find out more about the wonderful world of KidLit/YA Blogging.

Is there a special tracking system?

Well, mine is a Post-It note. We’re on the honor system here, so track your own comments however you see fit. However, I don’t recommend tattoos.

What are the prizes?

I’m working on it. If you have something special you’d like to donate — signed books, original art, crafty ventures — send me an email at MotherReader AT gmail DOT com.

Are there bonus points for branching out in your blog reading and commenting?

That’s giving Lee and me far more credit for tracking this thing than we deserve. So, uh... no. But personally, I find it easier to spread my comments around among lots of blogs because I find I have more to say.

Will there be a list of participants whose blogs I can make a special effort to visit as fellow Comment Challengers?


Why isn’t anyone coming back to my blog?

Make sure that your profile links back to your blog. I’ve often tried to follow comments on my own blog back to the writer only to find that the profile is blocked or leads to an old blog.

Any other questions? You can ask them in... the comments.

Comment Challenge 2010

What if I told you that for the cost of a few extra minutes a day, you can boost your blog readership, foster a feeling of connection, and make someone’s day? Does that sound like something you might be interested in?

Well, I’m talking about commenting, and the power is in your hands to make a difference. Based on last year’s success, Lee Wind and I are bringing The Comment Challenge to January — the perfect time of year to make a new resolution to connect more with your fellow bloggers.

Since it is said that it takes twenty-one days to form a new habit, we’re going to run the Comment Challenge for the next three weeks — starting Friday, January 8, and running through Thursday, January 28, 2010. The goal is to comment on at least five kidlitosphere blogs a day. Keep track of your numbers, and report in on Fridays with me or Lee. We’ll tell each other how we’re doing and keep each other fired up. On Thursday, January 28, we’ll have a final check-in post for the Comment Challenge. A prize package will be involved, drawing from among the bloggers who reach the 100 Comment Mark (five comments a day for twenty-one days with one day free of comment charge). It’s also pretty likely that we’ll award some random door prizes for trying.

Every comment doesn’t have to be insightful and intellectual. I know sometimes it’s hard to think of something to say. But what I’ve found is that when I’m in the habit of commenting, the words do come easier. I find myself reading posts with a bit more focus because I’m thinking about what is connecting with me. Also, when you make yourself heard, that blogger may check out your blog. Can’t hurt your stats. Plus, you’ve made that blogger’s day a little bit brighter. Maybe you’ll make a new BFF — Blog Friend Forever.

I know, the whole thing sounds awesome. Ready to join us? Then come back Friday to sign up. And tell all your friends, because that’s kind of, like, the point.

Questions? Ask in the... comments.

Links to material on Amazon.com contained within this post may be affiliate links for the Amazon Associates program, for which this site may receive a referral fee.

Shout-Out for Scieszka

One thing I can say about Jon Scieszka is that he is such a blast. The fun we had with the book cart drill team at ALA… No, hold it. That wasn’t me, that was Mo Willems. Well, there was that fantastic tour of four guys where he was targeting reluctant readers — i.e., boys... Hmmm, now that I think about it, I saw the video at Adam Rex’s blog. But there was that launch of GuysRead that I was involved in… No, I guess I read about that. Huh. I guess I’ve never actually met the guy.

The thing is, I feel like I must know him, which is to me evidence of his successful run as National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature. Because the man was everywhere. There were appearances, articles, and interviews. There were books and a website. I think at one point there was skywriting. All in the interest of promoting children’s literature, literacy, and reading. It’s no wonder that the kidlitosphere is turning out today to thank this man that we all know and love. (With thanks to A Year of Reading for organizing and rounding up the posts.)

It was an amazing inaugural run for a job that seems impossible: Promote a love of reading for no money and without really knowing the results of what you’ve done. OMG, he’s a book blogger! I AM SCIESZKA!

(Thanks Herr Ambassador Scieszka, for your tireless yet endlessly humorous work in children’s literature.)