Tag Archive: rebecca stead

About an eon ago, my friend, young-adult author James Kennedy, “took over” my blog – I hosted a giveaway when his book The Order of Odd-Fish came out in paperback. Oh what fun that was, since James was also gearing up for his “Dome of Doom” fan art show and battle-dance party in Chicago – in which yours truly competed and valiantly… uh, lost… in the first round. But anyway.

James is up to some serious fun again. This time, he’s asking folks to retell Newbery-winning stories…  In video, in 90 SECONDS.

[Cough] Oh my. The prospect starts my little heart racing, it does. The contest has gotten lots of kids, classrooms, and families inspired, too. James and co-curator Betsy Bird (she of School Library Journal’s Fuse8!) have collected dozens of entries from miles around. With submissions from Canada and New Zealand, this thing has gone international AND intercontinental.

(Where it all began: A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle, starring James’s niece Freya. She’ll also star in the book trailer for my young adult novel Thirty Decibels.)

Check out this entry, told entirely in shadow-puppets!

Grace Lin’s Where the Mountain Meets the Moon

OH! Here’s one that had me laughing. I mean, c’mon, it’s a musical!:

The 21 Balloons by William Péne du Bois

Mark your calendars for the 90-Second Newbery Film Festival:

New York:  Saturday, November 5, 2011, 3-5 pm
The 90-Second Newbery Film Festival at the New York Public Library main branch (Fifth Avenue at 42nd Street, New York, NY. 917.275.6975.)
Co-hosted by James Kennedy and Jon Scieszka, with appearances by Rebecca Stead and Ayun Halliday!

Chicago: Wednesday, November 16, 2011, 6-8 pm
The 90-Second Newbery Film Festival at the Harold Washington Public Library in Chicago (400 South State Street)

Even better: you can be a part of it. That’s right, James is taking entries until October 17th!

Here’s James’s take on the whole thing:

Teachers, here’s a fun project that will get your students reading Newbery winners.
Students, here’s an excuse to mess around with video equipment.
Librarians, here’s an activity to do with your teen advisory boards.
Anyone can enter. Everyone wins!

I love it! For full rules, head over to the official contest announcement. And get crackin’ on your entry!

In Stead’s Head

Friday evening is still with me.

That’s when I attended a discussion at 57th Street Books, organized by the Hyde Park network of SCBWI. (It’s an acronym you’ll see here often, and it translates to the Society of Children’s Writers and Illustrators.)

The event featured Rebecca Stead, author of When You Reach Me, and her editor Wendy Lamb (of Wendy Lamb Books, an imprint of Random House). I was nervous. Why was I nervous? I’d read the book, so I was ready for any potential pop-quizzes. Maybe it was the John Newbery Medal that the book just won. It could just be that the book was amazing, and to be in the room was to feel like a “smart 10-year-old” again. (Stead and Lamb joked that this particular “demographic” was the ultimate test of WYRM‘s internal logic. Lamb added that she still doesn’t “get” it!)

The discussion was varied and entertaining in itself. Preteens and adults alike raised their hands, and Ms. Stead answered every question with the same openness and honesty as the one before. This is what’s still with me: Her willingness to let us into her head, to walk around for a little while. She signed the children’s copies of the book first, taking time with each young fan to answer questions and just talk. In my copy, she signed a “note” to my son Archer, because I can’t wait until the book “reaches” him. We also talked very briefly about the business. I shared what little experience I’ve had (which has been interesting), and I completely felt like she understood. She said “Well then, keep going!” and her written note in my new copy of First Light says the same.

There are little quips about being human in When You Reach Me that I never expected to find reflected in a page of print. And in real life, she’s just like that. She admitted, “I never liked book groups,” explaining that the experience of a book is so personal and the emotions were too big to talk about. As she explained this feeling she’d had as a kid, I went right back to my childhood and felt it, too.

A writer has to be brave enough to write honestly, even if it means saying something new. It can be scary to be original. Maybe the nerves mean we’re doing something right.

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