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Creating Books

Writing a book for young people? Look here for information, advice, and inspiration.

Teamwork: Pictures in My Head

sidman_before morning

In the deep woolen dark, as we slumber unknowing, let the sky fill with flurry and flight. Let the air turn to feathers, the earth turn to sugar, and all that is heavy turn light… As an editor, when authors give me such powerful, precise words, I almost immediately begin to imagine them with pictures. […]

The Writer’s Page: What Is Narrative Nonfiction?

aronson_sugarhc

It’s been a topsy-turvy time in the education world recently: Common Core and high-stakes tests; then pushback; and now states are revising, revisiting, and renaming their standards. The recently passed ESSA (Every Student Succeeds Act) encourages this trend toward local choice. But if you look closely at the new standards across the board, one big […]

What Can Data Tell Us?: An Agent’s Thoughts on the 2015 Nielsen Children’s Book Summit

NielsenBookSummit2015header

A few years ago, while on a trip to Paris, I met the great sports writer Simon Kuper for coffee. The author of the revolutionary book Soccernomics, a kind of Moneyball for soccer, Kuper and his co-author Stefan Szymanski had been using data analysis to skewer the decision-making of big soccer clubs in novel ways, […]

The Writer’s Page: On Writing the American Familia

medina_mango, abuela, and me

I’ve always been fascinated by how people become part of the American tapestry. Some had ancestors who were enslaved. Others fled persecution, poverty, or violence. Their stories are often a potent mix of hope and tragedy. My parents came to the United States during the mass political exodus of the Cuban upper and middle class […]

Shelf Lives: From Bookseller to Bestseller

The Books of Wonder mafia: George O'Connor, Julie Fogliano, Neal Porter (editor), Philip and Erin Stead, Nick Bruel with daughter Izzy, and store manager Jennifer Lavonier. Photo: Carina Vocisano.

When Brian Selznick first applied to work at Eeyore’s Books for Children on New York’s Upper West Side, he was given a children’s literature test by store manager Steve Geck. “I knew Where the Wild Things Are, the Remy Charlip book Fortunately, and some Dr. Seuss,” recalls Selznick. “One of the questions was, ‘What book […]

Parrotfish Needed an Update: The Rapidly Changing Language of Transgender Awareness

wittlinger_parrotfish update

A decade ago, I wrote Parrotfish, the first young adult novel with a transgender protagonist. At the time I wrote it, most of my (middle-aged) friends didn’t understand the meaning of the word transgender. They guessed that it meant cross-dresser or drag queen, but the topic was not one that straight, mainstream Americans thought about, […]

3 terrible truths about NaNoWriMo (that prove you should absolutely do it)

nanowrimo

We’re a little over a week into National Novel Writing Month, and it seems an excellent time to let a few terrible secrets out of the box. For those curious outsiders, NaNoWriMo is a thirty-day writing challenge to produce a 50,000-word novel by 11:59 pm on November 30th. But when you’re writing, as those who […]

YA Meets the Real: Fiction and Nonfiction That Take On the World

budhos_remix2

It began with hot summer nights. It was on hot summer nights — when it was far too hot to go outside, when all I wanted to do was sit under the throttle of a noisy air conditioner — that I got my best reading done as a teenager. There were two kinds of books […]

Kids’ Own Publishing

BookCubby

In 2014 co-founder and publisher Victoria Ryle held a party in Melbourne, Australia, to celebrate Kids’ Own Publishing’s 100th book. She told friends and supporters at the event that the richness of these books comes not only from the books themselves but also from the diverse communities that created them. As a young teacher in […]

(Very Eventually) The Zena Sutherland Lecture

norveltandjackslide

Dear Readers, This particular version of my Zena Sutherland Lecture is a fabrication or, at best, a fabulation. Either way it is entirely false. Yes, I did give the Zena Sutherland Lecture at the Harold Washington Library Center in Chicago on May 1, 2015, but it was not as properly cured and marbled as this […]