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

Share

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

Share

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

Share

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

Share

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

Share

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

Share

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

Share

Interview: Jen Robinson, Jen Robinson’s Book Page

jen robinson's book page logo baby book worm image
Here’s another post in my series of children’s books blogger interviews.  Today I report on my interview with Jen Robinson (abbreviated “JR” below), who blogs at Jen Robinson’s Book Page.  Along with excellent children’s book reviews, Jen’s blog has a particular focus on child literacy.  She is also a leader in the online children’s literature community (the “kidlitosphere” as it is sometimes called), 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 Jen’s blog (link above), as well as the many excellent resources she mentions in the interview.  Thanks Jen!

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

JR: I never stopped reading children’s books, just because I enjoyed them so much. I was also always an advocate of people helping kids to grow up to love books. I think that the whole growing bookworms concept [AMM: hence the bookworm graphic above] resonated with me because I loved books SO SO much as a child. And my love of books enriched my life, both subjectively (countless hours of pleasure) and objectively (high SAT scores, admission to my dream college, etc.). I was a grassroots advocate for literacy for years, long before there were blogs, but I always wished that I could do more. Blogging gave me a platform to work in an area that I was already passionate about. Continue reading

Share