Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Babymouse: Rock Star reviewed at Farmer Chords

Blogger Correne gave a nice review of Babymouse: Rock Star at her blog, Farmer Chords:

I first heard about the Babymouse series from a 2nd grader I used to tutor. He was really excited about them because he was able to read them and I think he felt an accomplishment because of their length.

...The things I liked about the book is that it's definitely a breezy read. Most words are repeated and the story is not too complicated so I wasn't overwhelmed with word boxes. Another thing I liked was the humor. Jennifer and Matthew Holm draw on a number of stories (The Wizard of Oz, The Pied Piper) and realistic experiences (riding the disgusting, death trap of a school bus) to tell Babymouses tail which often jumps back and forth between the real present and her daydreams. The third thing I kind of liked was the art work. The illustrations are in black and white with pink accents. The one drawback I found was that even though the plot wasn't super complicated, there always seemed to be a lot going on and sometimes I found myself having to reread sections to remember which universe we were in.

I love seeing more and more kidlit bloggers out there, but it always begs the question ... who ARE you people? I think we all need to take a look at our blogs and double-check that we've actually explained who we are (parent? author? librarian? grad student?) and why we're into children's books in the first place. It gives our news and reviews a bit more context.

Your Kids Graphic Novel Starter Set

Courtesy of Fuse #8, a rather comprehensive list of recommended graphic novels for kids (with links!) from her 2009 New York Comic Con panel.

Now you all can stop asking for recommendations. They're right there! Go! Shoo!

Monday, February 9, 2009

Jon Scieszka drops shout-outs like there's no tomorrow

You've gotta hand it to Jon Scieszka, the National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature: He knows how to spread the love around.

He gave an interview chock-full of recommended reads to the Providence Journal:

Ambassador’s recommendations will encourage children to read

By Kathleen Odean

Jon Scieszka is a man with a mission. Since last January, he’s been the National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, appointed by Library of Congress. His mission, as he described it in a telephone interview, “is to go around the country bragging about great books!” He’s also talking to concerned parents and teachers about getting children to read more.

“Find out what your child’s interested in,” he urges parents who wonder why their children don’t like to read. “Let them have some choice. Make sure they read for fun, not just as an assignment.”

... “Parents don’t always recognize funny books or books with pictures as real reading,” laments Scieszka. Yet these are often just the books that get kids excited. Many kids love the Baby Mouse graphic novels by Jennifer Holm, full of comical drawings and tales of a little mouse’s escapades. Along the same lines, Scieszka sees kids psyched about Fashion Kitty and its sequels by Charise Mericle Harper.

Upper elementary and middle schoolers like the series of light-hearted Amelia books by Marissa Moss. Amelia’s now in middle school, where the book’s hand-printed text and engaging pictures show her in Amelia’s Science Fair Disaster, in which Amelia muses on the fact that “science” and “fair” don’t go together. Science is “serious business” while fairs are “where you go on rides, spend a lot of money to win cheap-o prizes, and eat too much fried everything.”

These three popular series may not qualify as the “serious business” that some parents have in mind for their children’s reading, but they are hits, especially among girls, who exchange the newest books with their friends.

Parents: Obey your Ambassador. It's Federal Law. I swear.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Graphic Novel sales up in 2008

Nice to see that Graphic Novel sales keep climbing, albeit slowly and steadily:

2008 Graphic Novel Sales Up 5%; Manga Off 17%

by Calvin Reid -- Publishers Weekly, 2/6/2009 7:17:00 AM

Overall graphic novels sales in the U.S. and Canada for 2008 were $395 million, a 5% increase over 2007 and the slowest rate of growth since 2001, according to the annual report on the market delivered by ICv2 CEO Milton Griepp at the pop culture news site's annual Graphic Novel Conference held at the Javits Center yesterday on the eve of New York Comic-con....

Interesting to see where (i.e., retail-space-wise) the shifts are occurring:

Sales of graphic novels in general bookstores continued to grow faster than in comics shops. Bookstores generated $265 million in sales in 2008 compared to about $165 million in sales through the comics shop market (also known as the direct market). Libraries represent about $25 million in sales.

I wonder if that's a shift of traditional direct-market producers (i.e., DC, Marvel, Dark Horse, et al) to bookstores, or if it represents instead an increase in the graphic-novel offerings from traditional book publishers (Random House, etc.)?

Oh--and whose fault is the decline of Manga sales? One pointy-toothed guess:

Griepp blamed the decline in manga sales on the tough economy as well as inventory reductions at Borders and the ongoing closing of mall stores. He also cited a decline in exposure of anime on cable TV and the overwhelming popularity of the blockbuster Twilight series, which competed with manga for the consumer dollars of teen girls.

Fordham University Graphic Novels in Education Conference

Just saw this from SLJ:

Fordham University Hosts First Graphic Novels in Education Conference

Artists, publishers, educators, and librarians came together in New York on January 30 to share their insights on graphic novels at Fordham University’s first Graphica in Education: Graphic Novels Come Out from Under the Desk conference.

... [James Bucky] Carter, a North Carolina native brought up on comics, went on to dismiss critics who say comics doesn’t involve real reading. In fact, Carter says, one comic book contains 2,000 words. If a child read a comic book a day, the total number of words read by the end of the year would be in excess of half a million. And in the process kids improve their vocabulary, develop an understanding of various reading genres, and increase their reading comprehension.

... Youth and reference service librarian Michael Schofield, of the Bradford County Public Library in Starke, FL, together with Chris Wilson, creator of the blog, The Graphic Classroom, presented a collection development overview for the graphica novice. Based on a survey of graphic materials checked out of libraries, the two men said superheroes or manga weren’t the most popular. It was titles such as American Born Chinese (Roaring Brook, 2006) by Gene Luen Yang, the "Babymouse" series (Random) by Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm, and "Amelia Rules!" (ibooks) by Jimmy Gownley that topped the list.

There just might be something to that whole "no flying, no tights," idea!

There was also this cute quip:
Throughout the daylong event, there was much debate about what the graphic novel/comic book format should be called. Many said the term "graphica" was too closely linked to "erotica." In a moment of levity, Jimmy Gownley, author of the best-selling "Amelia Rules" series (S & S/Atheneum) and a seven-time Eisner Award nominee, pondered that the format was "illustrated literature," so why not call it "illiterature"?

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Matthew Holm at NY Comic Con this Sunday!

Yes, I'm going to be taking part in a panel at New York Comic Con on Sunday, February 8, from 3-4 PM:

Sunday, 3:00 - 4:00 p.m.

Panel — “What Are Kids Reading Now? Graphic Novels & 22 Pagers”

Location: Panel Room 5 (1A17)

Panel Description: There's such a wide selection of graphic novels out there from the serious super hero drama of The Watchmen, to the nostalgic humor of The Best of Archie, to the sober reflections of three different 9/11 chronicles. In fact, there are so many book that many teachers, parents, and comic book lovers can't quite tell what to buy or borrow. That's where we come in. Join a panel of teachers, teens, and comic pros as we review and discuss the merits and values of comics' fertile field of facts an fiction. What's new, old, entertaining, and educational? From the controversial to the comical, we'll cover it all and have a good time, too!

I'll also be doing a book signing earlier that day from 2-2:30 PM at the Kids’ Comic Con booth.

So come on out! It's part of the Kids Day portion of Comic Con.

Bad News: You'll have to make a Sophie's Choice between our panel and that panel with Betsy and Matt Bird and, um, Sophie. Wow. An actual Sophie's choice.