Interview: Julie Danielson, Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast

Children's Picture Books: Mad Tea Party by Frank Dormer

Alice at the Mad Tea Party, by Frank Dormer

Today I continue my series of interviews with children’s book bloggers in an interview with Julie Danielson (abbreviated “JD” below), who blogs at Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast, or “7-Imp” for short.  Jules  is an influential blogger in the kidlitosphere and is an aficionado of children’s picture books .  As you’ll see from the interview, she’s a wiz with American Sign Language and is also pretty darn funny.  Pithy enticing quote: “…very simply, I’m an Illustration Junkie and must feed my habit.”  The point of these interviews, of course, is to help connect readers of Children’s Books and Reviews to some of the many other excellent children’s literature blogs out there. So, if you are also a sucker for children’s picture books, after reading the interview I encourage you to check out Julie’s blog, Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast. Click here for the previous interview in this series, with Jill Tullo of the Well-Read Child.

Q: When and how did you become interested in children’s picture books?

JD: I blame Eisha Prather, my best friend and fellow imp—and whom regular 7-Imp readers will recognize as my partner-in-crime in co-founding the blog. Not too terribly long after college and before each of us went off and got hitched, we were roommates in a lovely, if un-air-conditioned, old farmhouse in beautiful Maryville, Tennessee. That’s “Murvul,” by the way, if you’re a true East Tennessean. At the time, she was a public librarian and would bring home her favorite picture books and leave them on the dining room table for me to read. I’d wander off with them and explore. I fell for them. And fell hard. Continue reading

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Interview: Jill Tullo, The Well-Read Child

Ways to help children read: On the Day You were Born, by Debra Frasier
Today I continue my series of interviews with children’s book bloggers in an interview with Jill Tullo (abbreviated “JT” below), who blogs at The Well-Read Child.  Jill is a veteran blogger in the kidlitosphere and cares a lot about children’s literacy .  As you’ll see from the interview, she suggests some great ways to help children read. She also has a soft spot for dystopian fiction. The point of these interviews, of course, is to help connect readers of Children’s Books and Reviews to some of the many other excellent children’s literature blogs out there. So, after reading the interview, I encourage you to check out Jill’s blog, The Well-Read ChildClick here for the previous interview in this series, with Sylvia Vardell of Poetry for Children.

Q: When and how did you become interested in children’s books?

JT: I’ve loved to read as long as I can remember, and in seventh grade I started a diary. Alongside the usual information you’d expect to find in a tween girl’s diary (boys, friends, school, etc.), are brief summaries and reaction to books I’d just finished. This was before the days of blogs and sites like Goodreads, so old-fashioned pen and paper had to do. Because I read so much, I’ve always wanted to keep records of what I’ve read and how I felt about the books when I finished them.  In 2007 when my little girl was just a few months, I had a very emotional experience reading a book to her – On the Day You Were BornWays to help children read: On the Day You Were Born, by Debra Frasier by Debra Frasier – and decided that I wanted to document these experiences and keep track of the books I read with her. The Well-Read Child was born that night. Continue reading

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Poetry for Children: Interview with Sylvia Vardell

Poetry for Children: Poetry Tag Time
Here’s another in my series of interviews with children’s book bloggers. Today I report my interview with Sylvia Vardell (abbreviated “SV” below), who blogs at Poetry for Children. As you will see from the interview, Sylvia is a professor at Texas Woman’s University , an author, and a strong advocate of poetry for children.  Choice quote: “Poetry is part music and part chocolate—delicious and unforgettable.”  The point of these interviews, of course, is to help connect readers of Children’s Books and Reviews to some of the many other excellent children’s literature blogs out there. So, after reading the interview, I encourage you to check out Sylvia’s blog, Poetry for Children, and the other useful resources she mentions. Click here for the previous interview in this series, with Travis Jonker of 100 Scope Notes.

Q: When and how did you become interested in poetry, and poetry for children in particular?

SV: I loved the rhythm and rhyme of poetry when I was a little girl and memorized a poem to perform for my Mom for her birthday when I was 7 or 8. Then came a long dormant period where poetry became more academic. I actually enjoyed analysis in college, but it wasn’t til I met a poet in graduate school that I came to see the passion BEHIND the creation of poetry and remembered how fun it could be. And that was when Shel Silverstein was a brand new voice (in the 1970’s) and his poetry persuaded my cranky sixth grade students to give the genre a chance. I used to say that Where the Sidewalk EndsPoetry for Children: Where the Sidewalk Ends, by Shel Silverstein was the one book I would want with me if I were ever stranded on a desert island with sixth graders! Continue reading

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Interview: Travis Jonker, 100 Scope Notes

Elementary School Librarian Travis Jonker, 100 Scope Notes
Here’s another in my series of interviews with children’s book bloggers. Today I report my interview with Travis Jonker (abbreviated “TJ” below), who blogs at 100 Scope Notes . As you will see from the interview, Travis is an elementary school librarian; he also happens to be a pretty funny guy, so you won’t want to miss the interview.  I laughed out loud at least once!  The point of these interviews, of course, is to help connect readers of Children’s Books and Reviews to some of the many other excellent children’s literature blogs out there. So, after reading the interview, I encourage you to check out Travis’s blog, 100 Scope NotesClick here for the previous interview in this series, with Barbara Bietz of Jewish Books for Children.

Q: I understand you are an elementary school librarian.  Can you tell me a bit of the story of how you decided to take up that profession?

TJ: I followed the classic three step program:

1. I found that I hung out in libraries a lot. Public, school, college – I’ve visited and staked out my territory in them all. I can’t imagine how much time I would have spent in libraries if they circulated Jughead Double Digests when I was growing up. I think we would have had a From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. FrankweilerFrom the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, by E.L. Konigsburg situation (except, you know, with a library instead of a museum). Continue reading

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Interview: Barbara Bietz, Jewish Books for Children

Jewish Children's Books, Like a Maccabee, Barbara Beitz
Here’s another in my series of interviews with children’s book bloggers. Today I report on my interview with Barbara Bietz (abbreviated “BB” below), who blogs at Jewish Books for Children. As you will see from the interview, Barbara is a children’s author and has a special place in her heart for Jewish Children’s Books.  The point of these interviews, of course, is to help connect readers of Children’s Books and Reviews to some of the many other excellent children’s literature blogs out there. So, after reading the interview, I encourage you to check out Barbara’s blog, Jewish Books for Children; its focus on Jewish children’s books makes it a unique and important member of the kidlitosphere.  Click here for the previous interview in this series, with Monica Edinger of educating alice.

Q: I understand that you write children’s books.  How and when did you decide to become a children’s author?

BB: I have always enjoyed writing and did quite a bit of academic and technical writing. From the time I was young I would write poems and stories but was afraid to share them with others.  Finally, I took a class on children’s literature with Alexis O’Neill. In the safe environment of a critique group I gradually became brave enough to share my work. Over the years I have met some wonderful writers in classes and workshops. Writing is a passion but it is also a skill that needs to be developed and nurtured. Continue reading

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Interview: Monica Edinger, educating alice

educating alice monica edinger

"What a curious feeling!" said Alice, "I must be shutting up like a telescope!" And so it was indeed: she was now only ten inches high.

Here’s another in my series of interviews with children’s book bloggers. Today I report on my interview with Monica Edinger (abbreviated “ME” below), who blogs at educating alice and the Huffington Post. As you will see from the interview, Monica is a teacher and an author, and she has worked around children’s books for a long time.  She has even served on the Newbery Medal committee. The point of these interviews, of course, is to help connect readers of Children’s Books and Reviews to some of the many other excellent children’s literature blogs out there. So, after reading the interview, I encourage you to check out Monica’s blog, educating alice; it is one of the most widely read and respected blogs in the kidlitosphere. Click here for the the previous interview in this series.

Q: How and when did you become interested in thinking and writing about children’s books?

ME: I have always been interested in children’s books.  Drawing and art was what I did as a kid and so in high school I consciously decided that when I grew up I was going to be a children’s book illustrator.  I worked on a number of projects, most notably illustrations for Madeleine L’Engle’s  A Wrinkle in TimeA Wrinkle in Time, by Madeleine L'Engle and J.R.R. Tolkien’s  short story, “A Leaf by Niggle” [in The Tolkien ReaderThe Tolkien Reader, by J.R.R. Tolkien].  In college and after (say, when I was in Sierra Leone as a Peace Corps Volunteer) I continued to do art—fairy tales, Kipling’s The Elephant’s ChildRudyard Kipling, The Elephant's Child, and a few chapters of another favorite book, Alice’s Adventures in WonderlandAlice's Adventures in Wonderland, by Lewis Carroll.  I had an agent or two and took my work around, got a few nibbles, Continue reading

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Cynthia Leitich Smith: Children’s Book Author Interview

Cynthia Leitich Smith face graphic

Cynthia Leitich Smith

Here’s another in my series of kidlitosphere blogger interviews. Today I report on my interview with children’s books author and blogger Cynthia Leitich Smith (abbreviated “CLS” below), who blogs at Cynsations.  Cynthia is a New York Times and Publishers Weekly best-selling author, and is a member of the faculty at the Vermont College M.F.A. Program in Writing for Children and Young AdultsCynthia’s official author website was named one of the top 10 Writer Sites on the Internet by Writer’s Digest and an ALA Great Website for Kids. Her blog, Cynsations, was listed as among the top two read by the children’s/young adult publishing community in the SCBWI “To Market” column.

The point of these interviews, of course, is to help connect readers of Children’s Books and Reviews to some of the many other excellent websites in the kidlitosphere. So, after reading the interview, I encourage you to check out Cynthia’s blog (links above), her fantastic website, and the other children’s books resources she mentions in the interview. Cynthia Leitich Smith, ladies and gentlemen!

Q: How and when did you become interested in writing children’s books?

CLS: I’d just graduated from law school at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor and took a clerkship at the Department of Health and Human Services in the loop in Chicago. I’d been haunting local bookstores and begun reading children’s and YA books.

Then after the Oklahoma City Bombing, Continue reading

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Kidlitosphere Interview: Blogger and Author Colleen Mondor, Chasing Ray

book-loving stingray image from Chasing Ray about page

A book-loving stingray

Here’s another in my series of kidlitosphere blogger interviews. Today I report on my interview with Colleen Mondor (abbreviated “CM” below), who blogs at Chasing Ray. Don’t miss her hilarious anecdotes about flying small charter planes in Alaska! The point of these interviews, of course, is to help connect readers of Children’s Books and Reviews to some of the many other excellent blogs in the kidlitosphere. So, after reading the interview, I encourage you to check out Colleen’s blog (link above), as well as the other children’s books resources she mentions in the interview. Thanks Colleen!

Q: How and when did you become interested in thinking/writing about children’s books?

CM: I never left my affection for children’s books behind – probably because several of them (esp Little WomenLittle Women and A Wrinkle in TimeA Wrinkle in Time were so significant to me. I worked in an indy bookstore in the mid 90s and we were very involved in reading contests at the local schools (this was basically the only bookstore in Fairbanks, AK) so I kept up on new children’s and YA [Young Adult] titles as part of my job. And then my son was born in 2001 and that started me back on picture books again for obvious reasons. As a reviewer at Bookslut when I saw there was no one doing a YA column there I pitched the idea to Jessa [Bookslut editor-in-chief] and she thought it was great. And I’ve been professionally reviewing kid and YA books there ever since. Continue reading

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Interview: Charlotte Taylor, Charlotte’s Library

kira kira by cynthia kadohatakira kira by cynthia kadohata
Here’s another in my series of children’s books blogger interviews. Today I report on my interview with Charlotte Taylor (abbreviated “CT” below), who blogs at Charlotte’s Library.  As you will see from the interview, Charlotte’s blog focuses on fantasy and science fiction children’s books (especially for middle-schoolers and teens).  The point of these interviews, of course, is to help connect readers of Children’s Books and Reviews to some of the many other excellent websites focused on children’s books. So, after reading the interview, I encourage you to check out Charlotte’s blog, and the excellent resources for fantasy and science fiction children’s books it provides. Thanks Charlotte!

Q: How and when did you start your children’s books blog?

CT: It all started in September of 2006 with a hardcover first edition of Kira-Kirakira kira by cynthia kadohata I picked up at a library booksale for fifty cents. My sister saw it lying around my house, and let me know it was worth something. Indeed, it was—more than enough to cover that pesky sewer bill. Knowing that next September would bring a fresh sewer bill, it occurred to me later that fall that it might be useful to buy another first edition Newbery winner, so I went online to find out if anyone had predictions. And this led me to this post on Linda Sue Park’s blog—the very first blog post I remember reading.

I was in a bad patch, bookwise, constantly running out of things to read. I would wander into book stores, not know what I wanted to buy, and leave again empty handed….very sad. Linda Sue Park’s list of recommended books seemed like manna from heaven—not just these specific titles, but the realization that there were people out there who could help me. Continue reading

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Interview: Terry Doherty, The Reading Tub

The Reading Tub logo
Here is another in my series of interviews with kids books bloggers. Today I report on my interview with Terry Doherty (abbreviated “TD” below), who blogs at Children’s Literacy: Scrub-a-Dub-Tub, a Reading Tub Blog. Terry’s blog reflects her passion for children’s reading and literacy. The point of these interviews, of course, is to help connect readers of Children’s Books and Reviews to some of the many other excellent websites focused on kids’ books, including children’s reading and literacy resources. So, after reading the interview, I encourage you to check out Terry’s blog (link above), as well as the other excellent resources she points to in the interview.  Thanks Terry!

Q: How and when did you become interested in children’s reading and literacy?

TD: I have always loved reading. I was one of those flashlight-under-the-covers kids. The literacy light bulb turned on when First Lady Barbara Bush started talking about the importance of reading.

I was a young bureaucrat at that point, steeped in my career, so the spark just sat quietly and waited. Fast forward 12 years … I am a full-time mom and I want to share my love of reading with our new baby girl. As she grows as a reader, so do I. I volunteer in her school, and I have learned so much by watching her and her peers. Even in your (cough) 40s (cough) you can learn a lot from Kindergartners! Continue reading

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Interview: Carol Rasco, Reading is Fundamental

Reading is Fundamental logoHere is another in my series of interviews with kids books bloggers. Today I report on my interview with Carol Rasco (abbreviated “CR” below), who blogs at Rasco From RIF.   Carol is a prominent children’s reading and literacy advocate in the United States and is currently CEO of Reading is Fundamental (RIF).  In her blog she shares reviews and reflections on the world of children’s books.  The point of these interviews, of course, is to help connect readers of Children’s Books and Reviews to some of the many other excellent websites focused on kids’ books, including children’s reading and literacy resources.  RIF’s website has some particularly good resources that can help children learn to read.  So, after reading the interview, I encourage you to check out Carol’s blog (link above), as well as the excellent resources on the RIF website. I also encourage you to consider making a donation to RIF.  Thanks Carol!

Q: How and when did you become interested in children’s reading and literacy?

CR: I was an avid reader from an early age, always wanted to have plenty of books in case I finished one book, ready to start the next.  And I found studying authors great fun, loved many genres early on but in particular biographies, poetry, and travel books in addition to the more traditional novels.  My undergraduate degree was in elementary education and I then taught sixth grade until going into elementary / early childhood counseling when I used bibliotherapy in many situations.  While I then took a pause from the “paid workforce” as my two children were born, I re-entered that workforce in the policy field for the next 20 years.  When that period came to a close I chose RIF as the place I wanted to be, back to the children’s books! Continue reading

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Interview: Cindy Dobrez and Lynn Rutan, Bookends

Bookends Blog - A Booklist Online Blog, bannerHere is another in my series of children’s books blogger interviews. Today I report on my interview with Cindy Dobrez and Lynn Rutan (abbreviated “CD” and “LR” below), who blog together at Bookends – A Booklist Online Blog.  Their “Bookends” blog is one of several hosted at the Booklist Online website.  Cindy and Lynn take a refreshing tag-team approach to their children’s book reviews. They are also both middle-school librarians, as you will see from the interview, so they have special insight on teen and tween readers. The point of these interviews, of course, is to help connect readers of Children’s Books and Reviews to some of the many other excellent websites focused on children’s books. So, after reading the interview, I encourage you to check out Cindy and Lynn’s “Bookends” blog (link above), as well as the other excellent resources they mention in the interview. Thanks Cindy and Lynn!

Q: How and when did you become interested in young adult and children’s books?

CD: In the fourth grade I was a library helper and soon decided that I wanted to become an author of books for children. I decided that a career in library science would be a good back up and would put me in touch with the market. Then I had a YA Literature class in college and was hooked. Now I just need to write that first book…

LR: I have always loved children’s books – I probably just have never really grown up.  Early in my library career I fell in love with that wonderful magic of connecting kids with good books.  My own children were big readers, which just reinforced my love of youth books.  As much as I love adult books, I think my heart has always been with youth books. Continue reading

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Illustrator Interview: Don Tate, The Brown Bookshelf

the brown bookshelf african american children's books blog bannerHere is another in my series of children’s books blogger interviews. Today I report on my interview with Don Tate (abbreviated “DT” below), who blogs at The Brown Bookshelf, a multicultural children’s books blog focused on the work of African-American artists and authors.   At The Brown Bookshelf Don posts children’s book reviews and news that fit with the focus of the blog.  As you will see from the interview, Don is primarily an illustrator of multicultural children’s books.  He has illustrated (beautifully!) many books, some of which are sprinkled throughout this post, and he maintains a website (Don Tate – Children’s Literature Illustration) focused on his illustration work.   The point of these interviews, of course, is to help connect readers of Children’s Books and Reviews to some of the many other excellent websites focused on children’s books.  I am particularly excited to introduce my readers to Don Tate and The Brown Bookshelf, as they inject an important African-American voice into the discussion.  So, after reading the interview, I encourage you to check out The Brown Bookshelf, as well as the many excellent multicultural children’s books resources he mentions in the interview. And why not buy one of his books while you’re at it?  Thanks Don!

Q: I understand that you are primarily an illustrator.  How and when did you begin being interested in illustration?

DT: Well, I’ve always been an artist. I was the “best drawer in class” throughout grade school, and I never considered anything else beyond art. I went to a vocational-technical high school. My core area was commercial and advertising art, so I’ve always operated within the commercial art realm—art with a commercial purpose. Following college, I started getting freelance illustration projects from a local educational publishing company. I loved children’s publishing, and have pretty much stuck with it. Continue reading

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Blogger Interview: Elizabeth Bird, A Fuse #8 Production

Children's Literature Gems: Choosing and Using Them in Your Library Career cover art, by elizabeth bird a fuse #8 production
Here is another in my series of children’s books blogger interviews. Today I report on my interview with Elizabeth Bird (abbreviated “EB” below), who blogs at A Fuse #8 Production.  Her blog is one of several hosted at the School Library Journal websiteElizabeth Bird is perhaps the most prominent and prolific blogger in the kidlitosphere (kidlit celebrity?).  She posts children’s book reviews, along with news, videos, and funny stuff related to kids’ books.  She is also a public librarian in New York City, as you will see from the interview. The point of these interviews, of course, is to help connect readers of Children’s Books and Reviews to some of the many other excellent websites focused on children’s books. So, after reading the interview, I encourage you to check out A Fuse #8 Production (link above), as well as the many other excellent resources she mentions in the interview. Thanks Elizabeth!

Q: How and when did you become interested in thinking/writing about children’s books?

EB: Excellent question.  Basically, I stumbled into it.  After I determined that I wanted to become a librarian I was a little vague on what kind of librarian I could be.  I took a course on children’s literature to fill a credit while getting my MLIS (Masters in Library and Information Science).  Honestly, I probably just saw it as an easy “A”.  But then as I started to get into the class, I discovered my calling.  I’d been reading books like Harry PotterHarry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone and His Dark MaterialsHis Dark Materials for years for fun.  It never occurred to me to make a whole occupation out of it. After that, I was a clear goner. Writing about children’s literature just seemed a natural next step after studying them all the time. Continue reading

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Interview: Melissa Fox, Book Nut

melissa fox book nut photo children's books
Here’s the next installment in my series of children’s books blogger interviews. Today I report on my interview with Melissa Fox (pictured to the right, abbreviated “MF” below), who blogs at Book Nut. Melissa’s blog focuses on children’s book reviews, though she reviews some adult books too.  She is also an active member of the online children’s literature community (the “kidlitosphere”), as you will see from the interview. The point of these interviews, of course, is to help connect readers of Children’s Books and Reviews to some of the many other excellent websites focused on children’s books. So, after reading the interview, I encourage you to check out Melissa’s blog (link above), and the other kidlit resources she points to. Thanks Melissa!

Q: How and when did you become interested in thinking/writing about children’s books?

MF: Back in about 1995, a friend of mine was appalled that I had never read BeautyBeauty, by Robin McKinley by Robin McKinley. She insisted that I read it, and I was hooked: I loved the story, I loved the writing, I loved the idea that, as an adult, I could experience books that I’d missed as a kid. But then, over time, I realized that there was just so much more good writing and story telling going on for children, more so than for adults, and that’s what appeals to me most. So, that’s what I read. Continue reading

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