Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Tomie dePaola In Connecticut

Yesterday afternoon, the news that author and illustrator Tomie dePaola had died at the age of 85 after falling earlier in the week quickly took over my Facebook page. I know an impressive number of people who had their picture taken with dePaola and/or have a Tomie story.

Tomie dePaola was born in Meriden, Connecticut and maintained connections with that city and this state. Beginning in 2001 he wrote a series of seven autobiographical books about growing up at 26 Fairmount Avenue in Meriden immediately before and during World War II. In 2011 the Meriden Public Library renamed its children's wing for him, and in 2018 it had to turn people away when he made an appearance there.

In 1999 dePaola donated professional materials to the Northeast Children's Literature Collection at The University of Connecticut. The University celebrated with a day-long symposium-type event. It was probably for educators. Around that time, I managed to attend a number of teacher literary events at UConn, because I had somehow gotten onto a teacher mailing list through a parent/teacher reading group I took part in at my sons' high school. So, yes, I crashed the Tomie party. That fall the William Benton Museum on UConn's Storrs campus also ran an exhibit of his work, The Heart of the Whitebird: The Art of Tomie dePaola. In October of that year, UConn awarded dePaola an honorary doctorate, one of nine he received.

And, finally, dePaola frequently was a featured author/illustrator at the Connecticut Children's Book Fair, most recently in 2018. I saw him signing there one year. The Fair had placed him on the far wall of the ballroom. The line of people waiting to speak to him went through the room, almost to the door. All the other writers signing just sat there and watched.

There was no Connecticut Children's Book Fair last year, and, personally, I have my doubts about whether it will come back, even if the U.S. is back to some kind of normal this fall. If it does, it will probably be a very long time before before the Fair finds as big a draw as Tomie dePaola willing to come out to a remote state university campus to support it.

The Connecticut children's literature world will surely miss his presence.

Edited to Add: Billie M. Levy interviews Tomie dePaola regarding the UConn event in 1999 held in honor of his donation of his archives to the University.

Monday, March 30, 2020

Coronavirus Cancellations In Childlit

Over the coming weeks I will be covering book launches within the children's literature world and other childlit-related events that are cancelled due to the coronavirus outbreak in this country. You can help out these authors by spreading the word about their new books, following them on social media, recommending their books to your libraries, and, of course, purchasing them when you can. I'm collecting this information on a catch-as-catch-can basis. Many more authors and illustrators will be affected who you won't see here.

The Only Black Girls In Town

On March 12th, Brandy Colbert announced that her March tour dates for her  middle grade novel The Only Black Girls in Town have been cancelled.

The Only Black Girls in Town, published by Little, Brown and Company Books for Young Readers, deals with the only two black girls in town, one a newcomer, who find a box of old journals and set to work to determine what that's about.

Brandy Colbert is the author of five books for young people and a contributor to anthologies. She is also a teacher in a MFA program and a copy editor.

My Life As A Potato

March and April events for My Life As A Potato by Arianne Costner have been postponed.    

My Life As A Potato, published by Penguin Random House, is about a boy forced to become a school mascot. It is Arianne Costner's debut book.

Saturday, March 28, 2020

Social Isolation Is Improving My Technology Skills

Thursday night I attended a Greater Hartford SCBWI Meet and Greet. By way of Zoom. Someone in my family decided to memorialize the moment with a picture, which means...blog post!

This was a come-as-you-are event. I want credit for having replaced the flannel shirt I'd been wearing for days (and have on as I type this) with a cleanish cardigan. For some reason, I also felt compelled to brush my teeth. However, if you look very closely, you can see I wasn't wearing socks.

In order to take part in this event, I had to learn how to use Zoom. By which I mean another family member got me set up. Remotely. Because he ran through a practice with me, I got to see him, which was an additional benefit. It appears I can take part in Zoom meetings, if someone else is hosting and sends me an invitation. I don't know how to initiate anything myself. (Like I'm ever going to want to initiate a gathering, even on-line.) That's what I mean by having learned "how to use Zoom."

On Monday I'm signing up to try to get into a SCBWI workshop conducted through Zoom. There are a number of those kinds of workshops coming up in the next few weeks I may be able to be part of.

This is a big tech step forward.

But We're Not Just Talking Zoom!

In the last two weeks I've also learned how to insert photos and images into word documents so I can write illustrated letters to family members. This is a ridiculously easy thing to do. I should have tried it long ago.

I also learned how to "show this thread" on Twitter, for a long-involved reason that is also connected to what I've been doing recently. Another ridiculously easy thing to do. Embarrassed I never tried it before.

There Must Be Historical Precedent For This

I am sure there are all kinds of examples of cultures making technological advances, because they needed to respond to illness or war or natural disaster. I'm guessing someone has also written on  individuals who have done the same thing. It's definitely happening for me.

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Malka Penn Award Goes To "The White Rose"

The White Rose by Kip Wilson has won the 2019 Malka Penn Award for Human Rights in Children's Literature.  This is the third year for the award, which was  established in part by writer Michele Palmer who has written children's books under the name Malka Penn. The award also is connected with the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center at the University of Connecticut.

The White Rose is a novel-in-verse dealing with the White Rose resistance movement in Germany during World War II. Kip Wilson has published an extensive amount of short fiction and nonfiction. The White Rose is her first book.

Honor Books 


Four Malka Penn honor books were named this year:

The awards ceremony is scheduled for April 23 at the Thomas Dodd Research Center on the Storrs campus of the University of Connecticut.

On April 11, 2018: Author of "My Beautiful Birds" Wins First Malka Penn Award

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

March Book Release: When the Babies Came to Stay

When the Babies Came to Stay by Christine McDonnell with illustrations by Jeanette Bradley was published yesterday by Viking.

According to the book description, four unrelated babies arrive by different means on an island. A librarian ends up raising them in the library. Which is, of course, where many of us wish we'd grown up.

McDonnell is the author of ten children's book, across all age groups. Bradley's debut book was published in 2018, and she is co-editor and illustrator of an anthology being published in September.

Monday, March 23, 2020

Good News! I Got A Rejection This Weekend!

I received a rejection late Saturday for an adult novel that I started thinking about, sort of, back in college. And then thought about some more in the '90s. And started working on many years ago and finished last year. I made this submission less than two weeks ago, on the Tuesday of the week everything went to hell.

I assumed that would be my last book submission for years, maybe ever, because I never recovered professionally after the economy sunk into the toilet in 2008. Publishing was hard hit then, I just accepted that the same thing is going to happen as a result of this month's/year's pandemic turmoil. I thought I would shift to short-form work and try to publish with journals, on-line and off, paid or not.

That was my plan to maintain a writing life.

But I've seen a few things on Twitter and Facebook that suggest that there's a little activity going on with editors and agents. And then I got this rejection.

Why Is The Rejection A Good Thing? 


Because that rejection means that agent is working. She hasn't thrown in the towel. And she could. She's in Seattle. But she's still working, and working on a Saturday.

So I will continue to work, too. I just generated half a page of new work!

Friday, March 20, 2020

Coronavirus Cancellations In Childlit

Over the coming weeks I will be covering book launches within the children's literature world and other childlit-related events that are cancelled due to the coronavirus outbreak in this country. You can help out these authors by spreading the word about their new books, following them on social media, recommending their books to your libraries, and, of course, purchasing them when you can. I'm collecting this information on a catch-as-catch-can basis. Many more authors and illustrators will be affected who you won't see here.

Today's author info relates to events that appeared on the March Connecticut Children's Literature Calendar and includes nonbook launch appearances. These are followed by some Massachusetts news.

Amphibian Acrobats

R. J. Julia Bookseller's (Madison, Ct.) Event Calendar has been cleared until the end of the month. Leslie Bulion was to have appeared there on Saturday, March 21. Her March 22 Byrd's Books (Bethel, Ct.) appearance has been rescheduled to June 5, 5:30 to 7:30
Both dates supported her book, Amphibian Acrobats.

Amphibian Acrobats, published by Peachtree Publishing Company and illustrated by Robert Meganck, is a nonfiction book dealing with amphibians around the world.

Leslie Bulion is the author of six other books for children, which have been named to lists sponsored by such organizations as the NCTE, Bank Street College, and Book Sense.

A Galaxy of Sea Stars 


The Barnes and Noble in West Hartford, Ct. has no events listed for the rest of the month. Jeanne Zulick Ferruolo was to have appeared there on Saturday, March 21 in support of her latest book, A Galaxy of Sea Stars.

A Galaxy of Sea Stars, published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux,  involves an eleven-year-old American girl whose family sponsors a family from Afghanistan that includes a girl her own age.

Jeanne Zulick Ferruolo is also the author of Ruby in the Sky, which won a number of awards before publication.

Welcoming Elijah: A Passover Tale With A Tail

Leslea Newman's March 29 appearance at the River Bend Bookshop in Glastonbury has been cancelled. She was to have read her new book, Welcoming Elijah: A Passover Tale With A Tail.

Welcoming Elijah, published in January by Charlesbridge and illustrated by Susan Gal, is the story of a young boy celebrating Passover with his family while a kitten observes from outside the house.

Newman is the author of numerous books that have won multiple awards. More importantly, she was at the University of Vermont around the same time I was. Seriously, we overlapped on campus two years. Additionally, she was at the Bread Loaf Writers Conference as a participant the year after I finished my three summers there as the pastry assistant in the kitchen! This is amazing! (I feel that I may have noted this info sometime over the years in a post about Newman, though I can't find it. Well, if I have told people about this before, all I can say is that it is well worth repeating.)

Other Cancellations

The Public Library of New London, Ct. is closed as of last Friday, March 13. Katie L. Carroll and Patrick Scalisi were to have appeared at the library's Local Author Fest on Sat., March 28.

The Storytellers' Cottage in Simsbury, Ct.  is closed for the rest of the month. Joyce Lapin was to have appeared there on March 21st.

The New England Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators spring conference on May 1   through May 3 has been cancelled.

The New England SCBWI art show, Art From the Heart, at the Wedeman Gallery, Lasell College, from May 8-30, has been cancelled.

La Francophonie Day: Dear Haiti, Love Alaine

Well, mes amis, we have reached the official La Francophonie Day, and my final La Francophonie Day post. Today I am discussing an American book written in English but set in a Francophone country, Haiti. French is an official language there, but, significantly, so is Haitian Creole.

Dear Haiti, Love Alaine by Maika Moulite and Maritza Moulite starts out with a lot of humor about a Haitian American girl, Alaine Beauparlant, working on a Latin American history project on Haiti's history. Two of my favorite things--history and humor. I was psyched. The story veers off to dealing with Alaine's mother's health, her aunt's high-level work in Haitian government, a family curse, and a college boy. It was a little trop pour moi. But on the other hand, that's how a lot of YA books are. They're piled with many elements.

As exposure to another culture, though, Dear Haiti works very well. There's some French, there's more Creole, there's food, there's a lot of beautiful scenery. There's good presentation on the wealth versus poverty aspect of the country. The book definitely left this reader interested in Haiti.

Since my focus this week has been on language and culture, I'm going to bring up a point about the main character's last name, Beauparlant. I read that as meaning something like beautiful talk. And, sure enough, it's a surname meaning "fine speaking." Alaine is the daughter of a well-known on-air journalist with plans to become a journalist, herself. An excellent name for her. I spend a lot of time sweating over the names for my characters. I found this one very apt.

A La Francophonie Day Roundup

Links to this week's La Francophonie Day posts here at Original Content:

A Break From Angst To Celebrate La Francophonie Day

La Francophonie Day: Manon Gauthier

La Francophonie Day: Who Left The Lights On?

Thursday, March 19, 2020

La Francophonie Day: Who Left The Light On?

Today's La Francophonie Day post features a book from Restless Press, a company that publishes English editions of books from around the world. Who Left the Light On? is a picture book written by Richard Marnier and illustrated by Aude Maurel. It was translated by Emma Ramadan.

Who Left the Light On? is described by its publisher as being "about a uniform, monotonous village where all the neighbors follow the same rules of how their homes should look and when it’s okay to turn on the lights—until one day someone decides to turn on the lights at the “wrong” time."

Emma Ramadan wrote Five Translators on the Joys and Challenges of Translating Children's Books for Words Without Borders. She begins the piece discussing her own work translating Who Left the Light On?

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

La Francophonie Day: Manon Gauthier

 Today in honor of La Francophonie Day, this Friday the 20th, I am featuring Quebec children's illustrator Manon Gauthier.  She is described by Canadian publisher Pajama Press as working in "many media, including gouache, pencils, and paper collage."  
She is a self-taught illustrator who has been nominated for the Governor General’s Literary Award for illustration four times and has had work  selected for the illustrators' exhibition at the Bologna Children’s Book Fair.

I like Gauthier's style, though I'm not knowledgeable enough about art to describe it, and, of course, she has a very cool name.

We have no connection. There are many Gauthiers in the French-speaking and Franco-American worlds.

Eighteen Years And What Do You Get?

I thought Original Content celebrated its eighteenth anniversary today, but in reality it was March 6th. How did I bungle that? I didn't even do a post on March 6th of this year.*

Fortunately, I hadn't planned to do anything beyond starting to tweet links to posts from the archive again, something I was doing last year and then sort of forgot about. As you can see, I'm not good at pulling off special events, which explains why I'm always complaining here about what an ordeal Christmas is.

What's Happened Over The Course Of Eighteen Years?

Because I started dipping into my past last year, I am aware of some changes that have occurred over the eighteen years I've been blogging:

  • One is the decline in engagement, both between bloggers, which used to happen a lot, and between myself and regular readers. I was posting links to posts from 2010 and often came upon real give and take in the comments. Well, maybe not often, but it did happen. It's been years now since I've seen that here. I put this change down to people taking their interaction with others to Facebook and Twitter, where they can just engage with a "like," and the overwhelming number of blogs, leading them to give up on following them altogether. Seriously. The number of blogs is overwhelming, I tell you. I don't read hardly any, anymore, myself. Unless something good is pointed out to me through Facebook or Twitter, of course.
  • Another is dead links. I have many, many blog posts that include links that now go nowhere, because whatever I linked to is gone. The blog or site not only is inactive, it isn't being maintained. Keeping up an on-line presence takes endurance. Perseverance. Obsession. Compulsion. Some of those things are marks of my personality. 
Here's a link to my very first blog post, entitled Not Another Self-involved Weblog? (That's another change. Nobody says "weblog," anymore.) If you'd like to follow me on Twitter, (@gail_gauthier), I'll be posting links to the past there regularly. Or maybe not regularly, but sometimes. And I think I might start adding an anniversary link to the bottom of my 2020 posts. A "What was I blogging about on this day in ______?" thing. Yeah, that would be interesting. For me.

And this is why I'm so bad at planning special events. Ideas come to me way too late.

On This Day In 2002: The Answer to a Question You Didn't Ask.

*Update: I know how this happened! I have a work planning calendar (Ha! For what good that does me!), and I wrote "Blog turns 18 years old" on the March 18 date. 18 and 18. A logical mistake, though still inept. And may have been due to rushing.

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Time Management Tuesday: Staying On Task When You're So Busy Social Distancing

I'm hearing two responses from my writer friends to the social distancing we're going to be doing over the next few weeks. One is that they're going to look at this time at home as an opportunity to get some writing done. Maybe a lot. The other is that recent events have left them unable to concentrate enough to take advantage of this, shall we say, found time.

Here are three things we can do to help us soldier on.

Go Retro And Check In With The News Just Once Or Twice A Day. A Few Times, Tops

We'll begin with a little history lesson: When we had only newspapers, TV, radio, and magazines for the distribution of news, people took this information in at specific times. They might read the paper in the morning or the evening. TV news came in the morning, at noon, and in the evening. Radio news came at the top of the hour. News magazines came out weekly. It wasn't possible to spend hour after hour reading and watching news. News sites weren't struggling to fill 24 hours of air time with content back then and thus searching for opinions and analysis from every person who ever worked in any field even remotely connected with, say, infectious disease, or who had been somewhere near a grocery store in the last twenty-four hours. They weren't printing tweets...any tweets, from anybody.

Yes, arguably we knew less, but, arguably, how much do we need to know? In the case of the present pandemic, we've been hearing about it for weeks, if not a couple of months. We've had a lot of time to prepare. Some of us have been social isolating since last week. We've been advised to continue doing so for another fifteen days. Can we expect something to change so dramatically so fast that we need to be checking in with the news all day long?

Choose some times during the day that will be your news times. Check in then. Use the rest of your time for something else.

Get Some Distance From Social Media And Its Misinformation

People are scared now and often angry. They can't get together with their friends to discuss what's happening...except they can. On Facebook. They can get together with their followers on Twitter and I'm sure on other platforms, as well. They can get emotional support for problems in their lives caused by the coronavirus. They can feel better when people they know share their experiences. Cousins can share a laugh over how hard an eighty-something aunt is taking having to stay home. (Yeah, that was Annette, Mary, and me.)

But for many writers, the bulk of our Facebook friends are just that...Facebook friends. They are people we have connected with in order to create a professional network. They are not people we have ever met in person or are geographically near so we ever will. Spending hour after hour picking up and absorbing their fear may not be the healthiest thing we can be doing now, and it certainly isn't the most time and energy efficient.

On top of that, according to Peter Adams of the News Literacy Project
in an interview on NPR last Saturday, some of those stories our Facebook friends and Twitter followers are sharing are what he calls "misinformation." He even talks about a "misinformation ecosystem." "This pandemic has brought out a really clear picture of the kinds of things that tend to circulate in the misinformation ecosystem, generally...," he says. He goes on to add:

"A lot of what we're seeing is actually, you know, what you would call a kind of cheap fake or a low-tech fake, just copied and pasted claims online going viral across platforms...we're seeing just a lot of text-based claims with - this person is in a position of authority, you know? My sister-in-law works with a man who's married to someone at the CDC who says, right? So this sort of second and thirdhand totally anonymous information just gets copied and pasted over and over and over again across these platforms."  

Yes. I have definitely been seeing a lot of that, and it's often alarmist. I wonder if some of this stuff isn't entering the area of urban legend.

So when you're choosing a time to catch up on the news, choose a time to catch up on social media, too. And start skimming your Facebook wall and Twitter stream instead of reading every word, assuming you ever did. Avoid any messages that say things like "You have to read this!" with a link to a story on the coronavirus or the economy or the new world order or anything else that will start you down some kind of reading binge that will suck up your whole morning. Maybe your whole day. Your week. The next month.

Use Done Lists To Get Back On Task Or Help You Stay There

A lot of writers aren't working full-tilt right now, and that's okay. But if you want to ease into work, a done list may be more helpful than a to do list. To do lists often just don't get done at all, but a done list is, well, done. It's a big support psychologically and can be a motivator because it can direct you with what you might want to do next.

My done list for yesterday included yesterday's blog post, some work on the first paragraph of a humor piece, collecting humor pieces from humor blog sites, and reading half of them. Since we had had some sickness in our extended family before everything went south last week with the coronavirus, I felt pretty good about work yesterday. And my direction today, and the next few days, is to stick with small tasks until one becomes interesting enough to keep me working on it.

More interesting than those stories about the nurse from Seattle who said XYZ or another Costco with empty shelves.

A Break From Regularly Scheduled Time Management Tuesdays

I am going to take a break from doing weekly Time Management Tuesdays for a while, because many writers don't need it at the moment. As I said above, they're not working at capacity, anyway, so how they manage their writing time isn't an issue. If there's one thing I don't believe in with time management, it's harassing ourselves and others about it. Making ourselves or others feel bad is guaranteed to cause failures of impulse control.

Additionally, many people are offering all kinds of advice on how to get along during the pandemic. The world doesn't need any more advice. I am striking a blow for no advice.

I have many little irons in the fire I can write about that might actually be entertaining or useful. I'll focus on those for a while.

I'll probably be back with time management at some point, because you all know how obsessive I am. "She's never going to let that go," you're thinking, and I'm sure you're right.

Monday, March 16, 2020

A Break From Angst To Celebrate La Francophonie Day

Friday, March 20 is International Francophonie Day, a celebration of French language and culture. I've also seen references to Francophonie Week and Francophonie Month. While the United States is not a Francophone country, Francophonie Week/Day is celebrated here by some French organizations.

While many Francophonie Day events have been postponed or cancelled, pas ici! Over the course of the week, I'll be featuring children's writing in French from French speaking countries or children's books set in French speaking countries.

Les Livres Canadian

I'm beginning with Great French Books for Kids, a review by Kelly Di Domenico of six books, which appeared in a Montreal paper, so I'm going to make the assumption that the books are from Quebec publishers. The article is from 2008 and publishing being what it is, I don't know how many of the books are are still available.

A book from the list that particularly struck me and that does appear to be available only used is La Classe de Neige by Alain M. Bergeron. The story is about a boy who has broken his leg skiing, and he describes how he ended up in a cast. This caught my attention, because I don't see a lot of skiing books in American childlit. And, yes, readers, you are welcome to hit me with ski stories in the comments.

Here you can see Bergeron doing a talk in French about La Classe de Neige. He starts out saying, "Hello, everyone" and that he's going to give a talk on La Classe de Neige. Then it sounds as if he's saying hello to a long list of kids. Then I was lost. I missed my Netflix sous-titres.

Les Autres

A more recent book list from Canada is 8 Books Your French Immersion Student Won't Be Able To Put Down by Laura Mullin.  She has collected child recommendations of French books, including some French translations of American titles, which I won't mention because that's not what I'm here to do this week.

In this group, the book I particularly like is Les P'tits Diablos by Olivier Dutto. This appears to be a lengthy series from France, though I can't find a nice, tidy website describing everything. I liked the ten-year-old girl's take on the book in the article. "It's about a brother and sister who don't get along, but when they put their minds together, they can sneak up on anybody."

The series is also animated. Again, ou est mes sous-titres? J'ai besoin mes sous-titres! This episode starts out with "It's not fair! It's not fair!" The sister greets the boy. The boy says he's sick today. And then they start talking over my head.

I can tell you, however, that the cover of the book to your left says, "Sister for sale. Cheap."

More French-related books or writers/illustrators coming this week.

Sunday, March 15, 2020

Coronavirus Cancellations In Childlit

Over the coming month (or more) I will be covering book launches within the children's literature world and other childlit-related events that are cancelled due to the coronavirus outbreak in this country. You can help out these authors by spreading the word about their new books, following them on social media, recommending their books to your libraries, and, of course, purchasing them when you can.

I'm collecting this information on a catch-as-catch-can basis. Many more authors and illustrators will be affected who you won't see here.

A Whale Of A Mistake

A few days ago, Ioana Hobai announced on Twitter that all her events for A Whale of a Mistake have been cancelled.

A Whale of a Mistake, illustrated by the author and published by Page Street Kids, is about a girl dealing with a big mistake.

Ioanna Hobai has published two other picture books since 2018, one as an illustrator and one as an author and illustrator. She studied art in her native Bucharest.

The Fabled Life Of Aesop


Ian Lendler also announced on Twitter last week that he's had to cancel events for the launch of The Fabled Life of Aesop: The Extraordinary Journey and Collected Tales of the World's Greatest Storyteller.

The Fabled Life of Aesop, illustrated by Pamela Zagarenski (two-time Caldecott Honor winner, by the way) and published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, is both a picture book biography of Aesop and an anthology of his work.

Lendler is the author of a number of children's books, as well as adult nonfiction. Interesting mini-fact: He grew up in Wallingford, Connecticut, which isn't that far from me. Not that close, either. Close enough that I may have driven through. Never knew him, though. Not that interesting a mini-fact.

The  Derby Daredevils Book 1

On Wednesday, Kit Rosewater announced that the launch for The Derby Daredevils Book 1 at Book People in Austin, Texas has been cancelled.

The Derby Daredevils, illustrated by Sophie Escabasse and published by Amulet/Abrams, is about two girls trying to pull together a 5-girl roller derby team in one week.

Daredevils is Rosewater's debut book.

Hudson Children's Book Festival

The Hudson Children's Book Festival, scheduled for May 2 in Hudson, New York, has been cancelled. This year's Newbery winner, Jerry Craft, was to have been the featured author. The author/illustrator list included many NESCBWI colleagues. The Book Festival's 2021 date has already been set--May 1.

Saturday, March 14, 2020

Hey, It's Still Women's History Month

The Secret History of Wonder Woman by Jill Lepore is a fantastic Women's History Month read, even if, like myself, you were not a Wonder Woman fan until Gal Gadot started carrying her shield. (I read most of my DC comics at a friend's house whose older brother purchased them. He must not have been a WW fan.) Wonder Woman is the most popular female superhero character and the third most popular superhero character overall, coming in only behind Superman and Batman.

The Secret History of Wonder Woman isn't really about Wonder Woman, though. It appears to be about William Moulton Marston, Wonder Woman's creator. He's one fascinating guy, even though, according to Lepore, he was not nearly as successful as he appears on paper. Instead, he went from one academic job to another, usually in a downward spiral. He went from one project to another, Wonder Woman being one of them. Then there was his unconventional lifestyle. He lived with his wife,  Elizabeth Holloway Marston, a highly-educated woman who wanted both a career and a family. Even in the early part of the twentieth century, how women could do this was an issue under discussion. Elizabeth Holloway Marston managed this by accepting her husband's lover, Olive Byrne, into their home to raise her children with Marston...as well as Byrne and Marston's children...while she worked.

Yeah, that is fascinating.

But what is also fascinating is the way Lepore pulls together the little aspects of Marston's life that turn up in the Wonder Woman story. He was in on the creation of the lie detector, for instance. Wonder Woman carries a lariat that forces people to tell the truth. There are photos of his companion, Olive Byrne, wearing bracelets similar to the ones Wonder Woman wears.

But what is the most fascinating is the way Marston was a sort of magnet for all sorts of pre-WWII feminism. His wife was an early working woman, for instance. His girlfriend was Margaret Sanger's niece.

All these Marton factors, both from his personal life and the feminism he supported, turn up in Wonder Woman in the mid-twentieth century.

Lepore says, "The suffrage campaign, from 1848 to 1920, is often thought of as the "first wave" of the women's movement, and women's liberation, in the 1960s and 1970s, as the "second wave." In between, this thinking goes, the waters were still. But there was plenty of feminist agitation in the 1940s in the pages of Wonder Woman."

I don't know what I was expecting when I bought this book. But I was delighted to be exposed to so much early- to mid-twentieth century women's history.


Thursday, March 12, 2020

Coronavirus Cancellations In Childlit

Over the coming month (or more) I will be covering book launches within the children's literature world and other childlit-related events that are cancelled due to the coronavirus outbreak in this country. You can help out these authors by spreading the word about their new books, following them on social media, recommending their books to your libraries, and, of course, purchasing them when you can.


The thirteenth annual KidLitCon, which was to have been held on March 26 and 27 in Ann Arbor, Michigan, announced on Twitter yesterday that it has been cancelled. The Ann Arbor District Library, where it was to have been held, has cancelled all its programs and events indefinitely.

KidLitCon is described as a Cybils Award Event, and is connected to the same childlit blogging community. My recollection is that it was originally specifically about blogging and bloggers, though now it is an "...annual gathering of people who care about, and/or blog (or Tweet or Instagram or Facebook or make Videos) about children’s and young adult books..." It involves a wider group these days.

Check out the bloggers and authors who were scheduled to attend.

You're Invited To A Moth Ball

You're Invited to a Moth Ball by Loree Griffin Burns was supposed to launch at the National Science Teaching Association conference in Boston in April. The conference has been cancelled.
Burns said yesterday on Facebook that other spring launch events are up in the air.

You're Invited to a Moth Ball, illustrated by Ellen Harasimowicz and published by Charlesbridge, describes how child readers can observe night time insects at their own homes.

Loree Griffin Burns is the author of numerous nonfiction books for children, some of which have been named ALA Notable Books, Boston Globe-Horn Book Honor Books, and have won IRA Children's Book and Green Earth Book awards.

Numbers in Motion

The book launch for Numbers in Motion: Sophie Kowalevski, Mathematician by Laurie Wallmark, at The Book Garden in Frenchtown, New Jersey on March 15 (this Sunday), has been cancelled.

Numbers in Motion, illustrated by Yevgenia Nayberg and published by Creston Books, deals with Sophie Kowalevski, a nineteenth century Russian mathematician, who was the first woman to receive a doctorate in mathematics that required original research and to hold a university chair in mathematics. (Hmm. A women's history month title, perhaps?)

Laurie Wallmark is the author of three other picture book biographies on women in technology, one of which was named Outstanding Science Trade Book and Cook Prize Honor Book.

Laurie was also scheduled to appear at the National Science Teaching Association conference next month. 

I have at least two more cancellations to cover, and I suspect I'll be hearing about more.

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Time Management Tuesday: Those Sad To-Do Lists

Recently I read...ah...skimmed...an article on the misery of reaching the end of the day and realizing you've done little on your to-do list. The article didn't have a lot of new assistance to offer, so I didn't keep the link. But I've been thinking about it a lot the last couple of days, after having a lot of family things going on last week and then spending most of this morning shopping on-line for a 93-year-old relative.

A to-do list should be a tool that helps, it shouldn't set us up to be discouraged and unhappy. Feeling bad about ourselves is when we're most likely to experience failures of impulse control and willpower. A bad to-do list is almost guaranteed to lead to that kind of failure.

Steps To Making A Useful To-Do List, One That Isn't Bad

1. Shorten the daily to-do list. A lot of time management folks agree that a daily to-do list shouldn't be lengthy. You have to be realistic about what you can accomplish. If you've had some bad experiences with not finishing a long daily to-do list, try to recall how many things you did manage to get done those days. Make your next to-do list only that long. Or be realistic about the types of things on your to-do list. If you have a big project on your list for tomorrow, try not to put many other things on it. If tomorrow looks like a day when you're only doing short, easy tasks, you can beef it up a bit.

If you make a short to-do list and finish everything on it early, you can always start another task. There are no laws governing these things. Writers, at least, don't have anyone monitoring what we do.

2. Make the to-do list for a week, not a day. If you've worked on a task from your weekly to-do list but haven't finished it, make a hash mark next to it. Visually, you can see that you've done something toward that task, even if you haven't been able to cross it out. This avoids the daily crash and burn scenario, because you feel you haven't done enough. And you're almost certain to make some kind of progress and finish a few things over the week.

3. Build your to-do list around goals. If you have created goals with objectives for a particular period--the year, the summer, Lent, the month--you have things to work toward that are particularly important to you. Make your to-do lists around some of those. Even if you do only a few things from your to-do list, they are important things. An example: Besides this blog post, I've done only one work-related task today. It was a submission that I started working on yesterday, and submitting is a goal for me this year. I'm not suffering too much about how this day went.

Check out more thoughts on to-do lists here at Original Content.

Tuesday, March 03, 2020

Time Management Tuesday: Stay Calm And Carry On With Those Goals And Objectives

Yesterday is probably going to be the only full day of work I'm going to have until next Tuesday. A full week. We have no crisis here, no high temps, body aches, or runny noses, just the usual whack-a-mole family this-and-that. How did I manage that day, and how do I plan to manage whatever bits of time I'll find coming up over the next seven days?

I'm a broken record on this, folks.

Situational Time Management

This an acceptance thing. It's alright that we can't write every day because of family, income-producing work, tending to the apocalypse, and other types of obligations. Writing this week is different than writing last week or the week before, and it's going to be different than writing next week or next month. Don't panic!

The Unit System

Recognizing that it's not necessary to work in eight-hour shifts is a huge help. The knowledge that creative work, and, for that matter, many other kinds of work, can be done in small units or segments of time, when you're not washing your hands or wiping down the kitchen counters with disinfecting wipes, is encouraging. You can do something with 45 minutes or even 20 minutes. Again, do not panic, people!

Goals And Objectives

Knowing what you want to work on ahead of time may be the best technique for using time when you don't have a lot of it because you're going out to the store every other day to buy toilet paper, soap, and every kind of over-the-counter viral treatment you can think of. Determine your goals for a period--a year or the summer or a two-week quarantine period--and then decide what objectives/tasks you need to do to meet those goals. Then when you only have a day or a couple of hours or thirty minutes, you can work on a task you really want done.

Personally, yesterday I worked on Goal 4 of my 2020 goals, a YA thriller, because I want to bring some material from that project to my writers' group next Monday night, assuming we are still gathering in public places here. And, if we're not, I've revised part of a scene. How great is that? Hey, nothing to panic about here!