Saturday, September 1, 2018

Harassment in KidLit and Utah KidLit

This is an open letter to my school librarian friends. I post it here also, so that readers of Kiss the Book are better informed about what has been done, said, and written.


(Some of the links may not work while you are at schools because of firewall issues, but they will all work at home)

I am not emailing this to offend anyone or to ask you to make any changes or judgments. I just want you to have access to the full chronology of the circumstances

 I think many of you have by now heard about what is going with Richard Paul Evans (RPE) right now. If this is the first that you have heard of it, then you have come in in the middle of the conversation. If you’d like to know more about what has been happening in the KidLitverse, then here are some articles, twitterfeeds, and blogposts you might read.

 1. In response to what was happening with Harvey Weinstein, Anne Ursu decided to send out a survey to see if there were similar stories lurking in KidLit. This is the blogpost that she wrote. You might want to read the comments (there are A LOT of them), because there is where some Utah authors get involved.

 2. Here is a summary, with updates of the actual named individuals who came out in the comments of Anne’s blogpost.

 3. Here is a summary of the fallout or responses from some of the named people on School Library Journal.

 4. This is how Dan Wells reacted after he was accused and then the accuser recanted.

 5. Dan’s post was in February. For a little bit after that, things were kind of quiet, unless you are on Twitter, where things were still brewing. If you follow Ally Condie, Shannon, Hale, Bree Despain, Sara Zarr, Linsey Leavitt, then you probably know all of this already. These women, rightfully so, were stewing about what they were hearing from their fellow authors about RPE.

 6. Robison Wells was hearing from women telling him specifically about women being harassed by RPE at conferences and ComicCon (FanX now). He posted on Facebook, with updates about what he was hearing.

 7. On May 1st, a group of female authors decided to start a pledge that they would not attend events without clear anti-harassment policies with confidentiality and consequences. In the comments you can see the names of the people who have signed it so far. You can also see that on May 14th Bryan Brandenberg from FanX specifically asked for feedback about their harassment policy.

 8. On May 8th Sean Means of the Salt Lake Tribune wrote an article about RPE being uninvited to Fanx.

 9. On May 10 Robison Wells made a video about the events to date.

 10. On May 13th Bob Evans from Fox 13 sat down with RPE for his 3 Questions segment.

 11. In reaction, twitter lit up in the Utah KidLit community in dismay. See the twitter feeds I mentioned above. 

12. At some point Shannon Hale started communicating with FanX about this harassment policy and what they were specifically going to do and say about RPE. In response, On May 21st they doxxed her (posted her personal email online for everyone to see) and dismissed her concerns as trivial and called the #metoo movement trendy. Shannon has deleted the post that shows her email and the response she received. Here is an inadequate summary.

 13. On May 22nd, RPE voluntarily talked to KUTV reporter Chris Jones.

 14. May 23rd Shannon Hale explains why she is adamant about RPE’s behavior being confronted.

 15. Article about FanX on May 23rd.

 Do with this information what you will, but now you know what has happened and what is being said. We each have to decide for ourselves and for our libraries what we should/would/could do. I am not telling you to do anything.

 I just want you, my friends, to be informed.

 Summer is so close, I can taste it! I hope you all have a great time recharging your batteries and I’ll see you in August!


Thursday, May 24, 2018

The Lonely Giant by Sophie Ambrose- OPTIONAL

Ambrose, Sophie The Lonely Giant. PICTURE BOOK. Candlewick Press, 2016. $17. 978076368225

There is a giant who loves to bash and crash all day long. He knocks down mountains, he yanks out trees, and scares all of the animals away. Eventually, he bashes and crashes so much, that there are no places for any animals to live and he is running out of wood for his fire at night. He finds that he misses the birdsong and animal noises. One day a small yellow bird follows him while he destroys things and sings to him. He loves the bird’s song and catches her in a cage so that he won’t be lonely anymore. The bird gets sadder and sadder and the giant lets her go. When he can’t find her again, he decides to fix what he has broken to bring all the animals back.

I like how the giant makes a mistake in this book and owns up to it to fix the problem himself. I think that’s a good lesson that most children don’t always see, or understand. I don’t like how there isn’t really any major conflict in the story and it’s wrapped up a little too quickly and neatly. The illustrations are really lovely and do a great job of first showing how the forest is slowly destroyed, and then later, how it slowly regrows.

Pre-K, EL (K-3)- OPTIONAL. Shay, School Librarian

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Beat Bugs: Help! by Anne Lamp- OPTIONAL

Lamb, Anne Beat Bugs: Help! PICTURE BOOK. HarperFestival (HarperCollins), 2017. $4. 9780062640604

There is a new catapult invention in Beat Bug Village and Jay really wants to try it out. Even though his friends think it’s a dangerous idea, he catapults himself up into the air and lands very far away in a jam jar. He can’t get out and has to wait for his friends to find him to help him, even if he doesn’t think he ever needs help or advice from anyone.

The pictures in this book are shots from the animated TV show. Because of that, they are really blurry and unappealing. They are difficult to see. The story is fine, but will be more interesting to readers who enjoy the television show. It won’t likely be picked up by many who don’t know much about it already. The lyrics to the song, “Help” by The Beatles are included in the back of the book.

Pre-K, EL (K-3)- OPTIONAL. Shay, School Librarian

The Case of the Disappearing Dinosaur by James Preller -ADVISABLE

Preller, James The Case of the Disappearing Dinosaur, 77 pages. Feiwel and Friends, 2013 (2017 reprints).  $5.  Language: G (o swears); Mature Content: G; Violence: G.
This book starts with Jigsaw and Mila looking at the contents of a purse lost at the park in order to solve the mystery of finding its owner. Next they attend a birthday party, where their friend Danika performs an amazing magic show –but a trick goes wrong. Now the birthday boys favorite toy has really and truly disappeared. Will Jigsaw be able to solve the mystery before the party is over and all the clues and suspects are gone?
Like I have said for the other books in this series that I have already reviewed:  dated artwork, just enough dated language to be jarring, and a boatload of characters –so this book (series) could be a hard sell for its target audience of younger readers to choose and read on their own. A teacher read-a-loud could get students liking this wholesome and sweet mystery solving series and you may have requests after that.  
EL (K-3) – ADVISABLE Stephanie, Elementary School Librarian & Author

Confessions from the Principal's Kid by Robin Mellom - ADVISABLE

Mellom, Robin  Confessions from the Principal’s Kid, 262 pages. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2017.  $17. Content: G.  

Allie is a fifth grader at the same elementary school that her mom is a principal.  Sometimes being the principal’s kid has benefits, such as: knowing the secret paths throughout the school; being friends with the nice janitor; and being a part of the Afters, a group of kids whose parents are teachers and staff at the school.  But sometimes it’s not great being the principal’s kid because when Allie tells her mom about concerns at school, her mom/principal intervenes and the other students make fun of Allie.  Allie has to navigate through friendships and her mom’ job to learn to value her true friends.  

I enjoyed imagining what it would be like to feel like the school building was your second home.  Allie makes mistakes but she is a likable character and her quirky Afters friends are adorable and forgiving.  This is an easy book to recommend because it has a smooth story line and realistic characters.  

EL – ADVISABLE.  Reviewer, C. Peterson.   


Audrey's Magic Nine by Michelle Wright - OPTIONAL

Wright, Michelle  Audrey’s Magic Nine, 141 pages.  Illustrated by Courtney Huddleston.  GRAPHC NOVEL.  Penny-Farthing Productions, 2018. $15.  Content: Language: G; Mature Content: G; Violence: PG.  

Audrey is a foster child who uses her sketch pad as a way to deal with what is going on in her real life.  A nice woman named Tabitha and her husband decide they want to adopt Audrey, and Tabitha enrolls Audrey in all sorts of extracurricular activities.  Audrey is exhausted, but also likes Tabitha so she tries to keep up.  Audrey still makes time for her drawings and she starts to draw stuffed puppet she brought with her from the group home.  The stuffed puppet comes to life and sets her on a quest to find other puppets who once were great warriors but have been banned to Audrey’s world as puppets.  

I love Audrey and the realistic parts of this story, including the well intention-ed Tabitha who is dealing with her own insecurities.  The illustrations are fantastic and appealing.  Everything got a little too crazy when the puppet came alive and then Audrey and her puppet go to a creepy puppet show to try and track down the other missing puppets/warriors.  That’s when the story lost me and it got a bit too fantasy weirdness for my taste.  The ending is super abrupt and this story covers the first three puppets and there is supposed to be two more graphic novels to the series.  The violence is PG because in the beginning the foster house implies abuse and neglect, the creepy puppet show feels menacing and Tabitha's friends bully her even though she is an adult.  

EL, MS – OPTIONAL.  Reviewer, C. Peterson.   

Long-Armed Ludy and the First Women't Olympics by Jean Patrick-

Patrick, Jean L.S. Long-Armed Ludy and the First Women’s Olympics, Illustrated by Adam Gustavson. PICTURE BOOK. Charlesbridge, 2017. $17. 9781580895460

Lucille Godbold was six feet tall with very long, very strong arms. She was a powerful athlete and a devoted spectator. The time she was encouraged to try the shot put, she excelled and she loved it. She began to train hard and worked every muscle in her body. She worked so hard that she set a world record in the shot put and made it into an international meet called the Women’s Olympics. She didn’t think she could afford to go, but trained hard anyway. She was floored when she found out that students and teachers at her college were donating money so that she could go to the Women’s Olympics in France. She continued to train on the ship to France, as well as when she arrived. When she saw her competitors at the games, she was very nervous. All she could do was her very best to try to win for herself, her school, and her country.

The text and illustrations in this book are an outstanding pair. The story moves along at a wonderful pace for a biography picture book, sparing unnecessary details, but still giving a full idea of the life of Ludy. I was very engaged and I loved learning about a historical female figure that I hadn’t heard of before. There is more information and an author’s note included in the back of the book.

EL (K-3), EL- ESSENTIAL. Shay, School Librarian