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The Writer's Page: Hello Again

Writing sequels or companion books to my novels has never been tempting to me, probably because I like to think each book accomplished all I’d intended to say. After completing When Zachary ­Beaver Came to Town (1999), I felt satisfied that I’d finished the story of Toby, Cal, and Zachary....

Field Notes: "But Are They Level O?": Leveled Reading and Antiracism

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Knoth reading to a kindergarten class in her school library. My search began with the most ordinary of questions. All school librarians will recognize the request: a teacher sent a weekend email needing book suggestions for her fourth graders — books that were well written, accessible, and of course, engaging....

Why Read Books from the Past?

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Mitali Perkins's nonfiction book for adults Steeped in Stories: Timeless Children's Novels to Refresh Our Tired Souls (Broadleaf Books) will be published in August. In it Perkins examines seven classic children's novels — Anne of Green Gables, Heidi, Emily of Deep Valley, The Hobbit, Little Women, A Little Princess, and...

In Memoriam: Jill Paton Walsh (1937–2020)

It’s a trick of the human mind that we rarely remember experiences in sequence. Rather, our brain does something scattershot, collaged. When emotion inflects memory, as happens at the death of a friend, it can be a struggle to organize the onrush of the past into narrative coherence. The news...

The CCBC's Diversity Statistics: New Categories, New Data

This is the fourth column in a series examining statistics gathered by the recently expanded database of the Cooperative Children’s Book Center (CCBC), a research library of the University of Wisconsin–Madison School of Education. Previous columns can be found at hbook.com/tag/ccbc. Since 1985, the CCBC has kept track of children’s...

"Sometimes You Have to Lie": A Conversation with Leslie Brody

Nearly sixty years after the publication of Harriet the Spy (Harper, 1964) the book remains as fresh as ever, so it’s not surprising that Harriet’s author was just as captivating. In her new, thoroughly researched biography, Sometimes You Have to Lie: The Life and Times of Louise Fitzhugh, Renegade Author...

New for New Readers: How to Publish (What I Think Are) Great Books for New Readers

Sometime in 2017, I got a call from Bernice Myers, a mid-twentieth-century illustrator of nonfiction picture books and author-illustrator of books for new readers such as Not THIS Bear! Bernice, who hadn’t published a new book for many years, had a story for me, and of course I was happy...

What Makes a Good Hanukkah Picture Book?

Let’s say, for some reason, you wanted to read the worst Hanukkah picture book ever written. Why would you wish to do this? Well, such a book could serve as a fine blueprint for how not to write a lousy Hanukkah book and/or how not to choose a lousy Hanukkah...

The Writer's Page: Navigating the N-Word

The mere mention of the n-word is usually cause for conversation and consternation, to put it mildly. Whenever used in a song lyric or a piece of literature, dialogue and debate are quick to follow. Even so, the n-word is a brick wall I occasionally crash into, on purpose, whenever...
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