November 21, 2017

The Advocate's Toolbox

Archives for May 2011

Paula Fox on a Roll

Paula Fox isn’t about to slow down. The 1974 Newbery Medalist, who recently turned 88, has a new book, News from the World: Stories & Essays (W.W. Norton, 2011), and was just inducted into the New York State Writers Hall of Fame.

SLJ spoke with Fox at the Brooklyn, NY brownstone she shares with her husband of 50 years, publisher and editor, Martin Greenberg.

Tell us about News from the World.

It is a collection of short stories, essays, and observations of various towns and places, including […]

The Best Animation Tools, from CrazyTalk and Toon Boom to Free Web Apps

Thanks to some new, easy-to-use tools, kids of almost any age can create their own animated films

By Jennifer Stern and Joyce Kasman Valenza

Move over, Shrek. Step aside, Toy Story. Ditto, Kung Fu Panda. Thanks to a slew of new, easy-to-use animation tools, you don’t have to work at Pixar or DreamWorks to create a summer blockbuster. In fact, it’s now a snap for young storytellers to learn the ABC’s of animation. And that’s […]

Teacher Appreciation Week

Image courtesy of Sophie Blackall © 2011and Abrams Books for Young Readers

You’ll find a similiar mix of reminisences from the authors and illustrators we surveyed in celebration of Teachers Appreciation Day (and Week). We hope you’ll enjoy them. Oh, and don’t forget to put that feather in your cap; you’ve earned it.

Sophie Blackall, the illustrator of The Crows of Pearblossom (Abrams, 2011) and other titles:

Mrs. Shepard, my ninth grade English teacher, was old, authoritative, Irish, and beloved. She had […]

Fluency: The Misunderstood Goal of the School Reading Curriculum

In 1983, Richard Allington proclaimed that fluency—the ability to read textual words automatically and with meaningful expression—was the neglected goal of the reading curriculum. It simply was not being taught. Fast forward to the year 2000 and the National Reading Panel identified reading fluency as a scientifically validated element of effective reading instruction. The importance of reading fluency was later reinforced when Reading First, the national literacy initiative, required that any school accepting Reading First funding commit itself […]

Master of Disaster: Paolo Bacigalupi’s dystopian tales are infuriating, disturbing, and impossible to put down

Photo by J.T. Thomas

Paolo Bacigalupi is on a roll. During the last 12 months, the rising sci-fi star has walked away with the Hugo Award, the Nebula Award, and, most recently, the Michael L. Printz Award for Excellence in Young Adult Literature—the Young Adult Library Services Association’s top prize for prose. That’s pretty impressive for a guy who’s published only two novels—The Windup Girl (Night Shade, 2009), a gritty futuristic thriller about the dire consequences of genetic engineering, and […]

SLJ’s 2011 Technology Survey: Things Are Changing. Fast.

Despite the funding challenges nearly all school libraries face, many media specialists are optimistic about the role of technology in the school library, according to SLJ’s 2011 Technology Survey. Maribel Castro, a high school librarian, in Lubbock, TX, spoke for many school librarians when she wrote that even though her library is behind the tech curve, she still feels that “we are at the cusp of great things.”

But in spite of the general optimism, others point to some […]

Not Just the Lucky Ones | Editorial

Tech survey reveals vast inequities in our nation’s libraries

“My school is up-to-date with technology,” writes a Florida librarian in response to our latest technology survey. “Our school embraces technology and strives to use more,” says a North Carolina librarian. “We are cutting edge!” adds an Arizona high school librarian.

It’s great that some school libraries are thriving despite the recession. They have the necessary hardware, are able to integrate tools and digital content into the curriculum, can teach students […]

Insects: Bugged Out! | Focus On

Insects really need no introduction. They have lived on earth much longer than humans and vastly outnumber us and all other animal species combined. We encounter them daily in our houses and yards. Yet, when children want to investigate insects, books can help them start their explorations. Paleo Bugs carries readers back to the time of prehistoric arthropods while Biggest Bugs Life-Size introduces remarkable insects living around the world today. Dramatic photos by Nic Bishop and Darlyne […]

Policy Buster | Scales on Censorship

Is it legal for an administrator to make sweeping changes?

What happens to challenged books after they’ve been removed from a library collection? Are they ever returned to the collection? Or are they destroyed?

It depends on the library and its board of trustees. Sometimes, books that have been removed from a collection are stored in the library director’s office or in a back room. Unfortunately, sometimes they are actually destroyed. Yes, removed books […]

Stop Disasters! | The Gaming Life

Gaming programs can help disseminate vital information to the community

Every year, natural disasters such as hurricanes, tornadoes, tsunamis, and earthquakes wreak havoc all over the world. And South Carolina is no exception. Hurricane Hugo, a devastating category 5 hurricane, struck coastal South Carolina in 1989 causing $4.2 billion in damage. Education and preparedness are keys to survival, and libraries can help disseminate that vital information.

I manage the Bunnelle Youth Technology Series (BYTES) […]

The App Squad: SLJ’s advisors weigh in on kids’ book apps

Photos by Robert London

As SLJ formally begins reviewing kids’ book apps, we decided, heck, we could use some help. So we assembled a diverse group of advisors at our Soho office in New York to talk apps—what we like, what we should look for in discerning the best for kids and teens, and where this all might be headed.

What elements make a successful app?

Lisa Von Drasek: Fast loading. Fast loading is my number one issue. […]

A Happy Ending | First Steps

Outcomes-based evaluations help us define what we’re trying to accomplish

Spring is the time of year when we ask our early childhood community partners to help us measure the effectiveness of our outreach services or—said another way—evaluate the outcomes of our programs. Outcomes are what the participants will know or be able to do after participating in our programs. For example, one parent wrote, “I will be more patient when I read with my daughter. […]

A Bird’s-eye View | Under Cover

Gill Lewis’s first novel is about friendships, tragedy, and unexpected connections

In Wild Wings, two kids protect a pair of endangered ospreys by keeping their existence a secret. Somehow, it seems fitting that you write in a tree house—at least, when the weather’s nice.

Since we live in England, that’s probably about one day a year. [Laughter]

When one of the birds, Iris, is in danger of dying, Iona and Callum share their […]

A Healthy Dose of Diversity | Up for Discussion

It’s not just good for you, it’s entertaining, too

In May, I’m embarking on a five-city book tour across the United States, accompanied by 23 other authors of middle grade and young adult fiction, including Rita Williams-Garcia, Francisco X. Stork, Holly Black, David Levithan, Nnedi Okorafor, and more. The one thing we have in common? We’ve all written books that feature characters who are of color or are LGBT.

The “Diversity in YA” tour […]