I just found out that Phenomenal Female Entrepreneurs has earned a spot on the Bank Street Books “Best Children’s Books of the Year, 2014″ list. I’m so pleased! The Bank Street College of Education, based in New York, New York, has a Children’s Book Committee, which was founded in 1909. This committee “fostered a growing awareness of the emotional needs of children, and of how books might affect children’s feelings of themselves and the world around them.” They began by publishing a pamphlet, but as time went by, they developed lists, reviews, a magazine, and now a booklet. The 2014 list is not yet available on the Web, but I’ll be sure to provide a link as soon as it is. In the meantime, you can read more about the work of Bank Street Books at these links:
Other good news: shoots are finally started to sprout in my garden and one clump of snowdrops is in full bloom. After a long, cold winter, it looks like spring is finally making a sunny appearance. Happy spring!
~ JillRead More »
I have lots to share this week. First of all, there is a great review of Phenomenal Female Entrepreneurs in Children’s Materials (CM), which is published by the Manitoba Library Association at the University of Manitoba. Their reviews are lengthy and comprehensive — great for authors who want valuable feedback — and great for busy teachers and parents who want all the details. I must admit I had to chuckle once while reading the review, that is, once I calmed down. (Note: Reading a review of your work is a nail-biting, teeth-gnashing, heart-pit-a-patting, emotionally fraught event, where you jump to the end to read the concluding statement and determine if overall it’s a thumbs-up, down, or sideways critique. And through it all, you’ve got to remain somewhat detached and “be tough,” and “strong,” and “resilient.” They aren’t critiquing you, they are critiquing your work. Oh yes, but your work is what you are passionate about, so it might as well be you. But don’t take it personally, yadda yadda.)
Ehem. So, yes, it’s an impressive and I’m really pleased at what reviewer Julie Chychota pointed out. She did such a careful read of the book and picked up some very nuanced detailed. It’s an honour to have an expert engage so thoroughly in the work you’ve created. Books take a long time to write (obviously!) and it’s appropriate when the reviewer takes time to investigate the finer points of the text. What made me laugh was that she said
“not to mention the 56 sidebars, an amount that surpasses the record of 46 previously set by Bryant in Dazzling Women Designers.”
OMG, I had no idea I was a record setter and a record breaker! It’s kind of interesting to know this about the exact number and the comparison. I had no idea. I included sidebars whenever it seemed appropriate and fitting to do so. I’m glad the reviewer appreciated that these help contextualize the content. I do love sidebars for the way they offer some fresh asides to the running text and break up the design. Also I like that they add a deeper dimension to the content, which is the contextualization part.
Chychota went on to say:
“writes cleanly and neatly”
“Bryant’s clear, coherent, and conversational style will facilitate readers’ comprehension, just as it did in Amazing Women Athletes and Dazzling Women Designers.”
The review finishes with a lovely pitch for the series as a whole:
“As a 2013 video by The Representation Project counsels, “Women and girls deserve better representation in the media and in our larger culture” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NswJ4kO9uHc). With its “The Women’s Hall of Fame Series,” Second Story Press seeks to cultivate in young readers a deeper awareness of and appreciation for women leaders. School and public libraries should acquire the affordable series as part of their collections as a way to perpetuate positive representations.”
That video is well worth watching, and shows we still have lots of important work to do, people.
Click here to read the full review in CM.
OK, my next share is from the Canadian Children’s Book Centre’s March 2014 Newsletter. To honour International Women’s Day, the staff at the CCBC have put together an extensive list to commemorate this theme. Then, in the “Author Corner,” Kate Abrams features an interview with me. What an honour it was to be asked for my opinion on must-reads for girls today. Admittedly, that was a doozy of a question, and one I pondered over for quite some time.
The link for this CCBC interview is here.
And now I bid you adieu. Happy International Women’s Day!Read More »
Recently I attended the Ontario Library Association’s “Superconference 2014″ at the Metro Convention Centre in Toronto. I had a 10:00 a.m. book-signing gig at the Second Story Press booth. When I first walked into the lounge for authors and presenters, I saw fellow Second Story Press author/illustrator Janet Wilson and had a quick chat with her. Then I found the booth and met some very welcoming Second Story employees. There was a great turn-out for the signing. Hey, what teachers won’t line up for a free, signed copy of a book for their school library?! I enjoyed chatting with teachers and teacher-librarians. One funny moment was signing a book for a teacher from QECVI, one of the three fantastic downtown public high schools in Kingston, where I live. After about 20 minutes, the stack of give-away books were gone. I enjoyed checking out the books Second Story Press had on display. Wow! There were so many books that I wanted to read. Every Day Is Malala Day is the first book in a new series through Plan Canada. This looks like a great partnership for SSP.
Later, walking through the aisles, and popping in and out of booths by various publishers and organizations, I bumped into author/illustrator Patricia Storms who I worked with at KNOW magazine, but had never met. I also had a chance to meet author Marsha Skrypuch and caught a glimpse of author Lizann Flatt while she was busy signing books. I don’t often travel into Toronto, but events like this are a lot of fun to attend, largely because of the enthusiastic, book-loving attendees and the who’s who of author, illustrators, and publishers moseying about. I bought a book called In Those Days: Collected Writings on Arctic History by Kenn Harper and picked up a catalogue for “Inhabit Media, an Inuit-owned publishing company that aims to promote and preserve the stories, knowledge, and talent of northern Canada.” After interviewing Nicole Robertson for Phenomenal Female Entrepreneurs, and then the heightened media attention around Aboriginal issues during last year’s Idle No More campaign, I’ve become increasingly interested in indigenous issues and stories.
About a week ago, I made the happy discovery that my book Phenomenal Female Entrepreneurs is on the Resource Links Year’s Best 2013 List. A reviewer who published a December critique says, “I was impressed with the conversational tone that still conveyed a lot of information.” She added that the “writing style makes the text easy to read and understand.”
That’s all for today, folks! It’s back to preparing for TD Canadian Children’s Book Week. I’m getting very excited about travelling to Alberta!
Ciao!Read More »
I’ve been working on my book talks for TD Canadian Children’s Book Week 2014. I know it’s not happening until May, but time is flying these days and I don’t want to be caught short. While researching, I came across this article called “How Indian Women Are “Leaning In.” The cool thing about it is that it brings together Sheryl Sandberg (Facebook) and Naina Lal Kidwai (HSBC), both featured in my book Phenomenal Female Entrepreneurs. I thought it was pretty neat that another writer linked these two women who come from such different backgrounds and work in different industries. It turns out that the article was adapted from the Indian version of Sheryl Sandberg’s book, Lean In, and it was written by Naina Lal Kidwai, not a journalist. Now that is very cool, indeed. Naina, as you may know from my book, was the first Indian woman to graduate from Harvard Business School — in 1982.
On another note, I just finished reading a novel called One Year in Coal Harbour by Polly Horvath. It’s the long-awaited sequel to the Newbery Honor Book Everything on a Waffle. What a fabulous, fabulous book! I devoured it in a day. I loved the protagonist, Primrose Squarp, and the interesting adult characters, including Miss Honeycut and Miss Bowzer. The author has a great feel for her target audience. There are some serious and heavy themes: foster kids, the death of two dogs, poverty issues, problems with “friends.” But there are plenty of laugh-out-loud moments to off-set the sober moments. Horvath’s images are utterly unique. She writes about a “bedrock of multiplication” (p. 2) and waves that are “bunched up and wrinkled” (p. 3). At one point Primrose’s mom recalls a “lady who lives on the outside of town” and writes poems about cats saying that “being a writer was like being a cross between a ditchdigger and a pit pony” (p. 20). Wow.
I was continuously amazed at the range of vocabulary Horvath used. Page 7 offers up “complicit,” page 8 features the word “staccato,” and by page 25 the word “ersatz” stands out as an anomaly in books. This is a book for middle schoolers. Then — I kid you not — on “heretofore” makes a bold appearance (p. 33) and later “ululation” (p. 128). Yes, I starting collecting these lovely words, jotting them down as I read.
A foster parent named Evie, who is wonderfully nurturing and down-to-earth, has a thing for putting mini marshmallows in everything she serves kids and teens. By the book’s end, I figured I’d never look at mini marshmallows in the same way. Interspersed through the book are recipes that hail from the 1970s: “Penuche with Mini Marshmallows,” “Gussied-Up Cinnamon Toast,” and “Polynesian Jell-O Salad,” to single out a few.
In short, One Year in Coal Harbour is a stylistic masterpiece, highly deserving of the 2013 TD Children’s Literature Award and many more. I strongly recommend this book.
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Book reviews are a vital part of a book’s footprint. Critical reviews can offer a stamp of approval, a thumbs-up or a thumbs-down verdict on the final, published result of a writer’s hard work. More importantly, reviews help spread the word. They can say, “Hey, look at this book! It’s really good!” Nowadays it’s easy for anyone to log into any number of online bookseller sites to give their two cents worth and their own emotive summary of what a book means to them. Certainly, the reviews can go either way — favourable or unfavourable, lukewarm or cool. The most constructive are a tempered blend of both, but, in the end, it seems that publishers agree these informal book clubs take what used to be livingroom chit chat and transform it into public, shared, and widely accessible feedback. Listen to the buzz!
Writers love to write. What outsiders to the craft may not know is that few if any writers believe writing is simple. Rather, writing, which quickly evolves to rewriting and more rewriting, is enormously challenging. The process of bringing an idea to full fruition, in book form, normally takes at least a year. The journey is fraught with seemingly insurmountable hurdles, annoying glitches, and road blocks that send you back to the drawing board. As drafts are completed, as editors step in with their professional wordsmith skills, and as all the components (e.g., design, photographs, illustrations) fall into place, hope rises that the book will make a difference, have an impact, and be noticed. Certainly, seeing the book in print and holding it your hands is one of the greatest feelings. As word spreads, the rewards can be very affirming.
As author of three of The Women’s Hall of Fame Series books — most recently Phenomenal Female Entrepreneurs — my greatest wish for these books (above and beyond stellar sales fantasies) is that they have an impact on the lives of some girls’ lives, helping girls be more confident, more bold, and eager to pursue their goals, unimpeded by societal constraints. Seeing reader feedback is enormously rewarding and helpful in informing me whether I’ve succeeded in my goal. Consequently, I welcome your feedback about my books. Thoughtful comments help me grow as a writer and let me know which aspects were most effective, and which needed more finessing. Just knowing that someone has taken time out of the crazy, fast-paced life we lead to read a book and fully and critically engage with it in a well-informed, carefully considered way, is truly the greatest gift of all. It is an honour to be reviewed, formally or informally. It’s all good.
If you’ve read Phenomenal Female Entrepreneurs, here are some quick links to pages where you can rate or review it:
Thank you also to Leanne Lieberman, a YA author and elementary school teacher, who reviewed Phenomenal Female Entrepreneurs on her blog: http://leannelieberman.blogspot.ca/Read More »
On November 9, Kingston, Ontario authors gathered together for an afternoon event at Chapters. I wouldn’t have missed it for the world, but — my goodness — it was a busy day for me. Bobbing between an outlying swimming pool and Kingston’s Chapters — whilst a large family get-together occurred in my home — proved to be exhausting. But hey, when book promotion and exposure beckons, who would dare refuse?
A sizable table boasted stacks of familiar titles by Young Kingston authors Y.S. Lee, Mary Alice Downie, Ann-Maureen Owens, and me. We were joined, too, by acclaimed novelist Leanne Lieberman. Young Kingston member Christine Fader snapped these lovely photos and welcomed shoppers to investigate our books and ask questions. We greeted some friends, met avid readers, signed books, and handed out bookmarks. All in all, it was a fun afternoon. And later, when I got home, there was a delicious meal and decadent desserts awaiting me. Ahh!
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I’ve had a very thrilling last few weeks. My application to tour during Canadian Children’s Book Week in May 2014 was accepted! This is truly a high point of my entire career. It is a great honour to be included and I am so excited about travelling out of province to give talks to kids at schools and libraries. You can view the complete list of touring authors here. And, last Friday, I found out where I’ll be going for Book Week — Alberta! I haven’t been to Alberta for over 20 years. I hope I’ll have a great view of the Rocky Mountains. If I’m anywhere near Calgary, it would be great if I could connect with Nicole Robertson, one of the featured entrepreneurs in my book.
I recently attended the TD Canadian Children’s Literature Awards Celebration in Toronto. It was my first time at that event, but I don’t think it will be my last. Wow. It was so much fun to meet so many super stars in the Canadian publishing scene. Speaking of which, all you aspiring authors and illustrators should check out The Canadian Children’s Book Centre’s Resources for Authors and Illustrators.
I just finished reading Writing Fiction by Janet Burroway. I’ve finished a draft of my one-act play and am attempting to rewrite it as a novel. This is proving to be very challenging, but I think it’s a good exercise.
I’ll post more news about TD Canadian Children’s Book Week as I learn more.
Bye for now!Read More »
As promised, here are photos from last week’s launch. Thank you to all the friends who came out to show their support and to celebrate the release of Phenomenal Female Entrepreneurs. It was wonderful to see so many people from all different places. Rest assured that my hand is not too badly cramped and I’ll be more than happy to sign more books should anyone want to stop by Novel Idea for a copy! For those of you who live farther afield, you can pop into your local bookstore and order my book. Aimed for readers ages 9 to 13, this new title is meant to inspire kids — especially girls — to follow their passions and aim high.
Did You Know?
You can help create a buzz about this book by placing it on your “To Read” shelf on Goodreads — a social media website for avid readers. (FYI, my Goodreads Author page can be found by clicking here.) What’s more, by rating a book or reviewing it on Goodreads, Amazon, or Chapters, you can inform others about the merits of a particular title. So next time you find yourself in front of a computer with time to tinker,
click away and make an author’s day.
Thank you, and all the best.
September 18th is here at last. It’s launch day. The day that Phenomenal Female Entrepreneurs squeezes proudly onto a shelf at a bookstore near you. And the day that I have a cheery celebration with family, friends, neighbours, and members of the community at Novel Idea Bookstore in Kingston. Yes, it’s sure to be an all-round happy day, filled with celebration.
For the first time ever, I have bookmarks to promote the book. Thank you to Emma at Second Story Press for this special bonus item. I also have activities planned for children, including some business-y dress up clothes, a quiz, and a word search. I can’t wait to see how kids like the quiz “Budding Entrepreneur or Space Alien?” I have it posted on Goodreads as well. Click on this link.
I have an interview on Open Book to share with you today as well. You can click here to see the full interview. All this news and excitement has me grinning from ear to ear.
And now, it’s time to decide what to wear to the launch on this gorgeous, sunny fall day.
I’ll post some pics of the launch in the next week or so. I can’t wait to hear some feedback about the book.
Happy reading and bye for now!
I’ve been busy planning for my upcoming book launch. Save the date: Wednesday, September 18 from 7:00 to 8:30 at Novel Idea Bookstore in Kingston. I’ll have some activities for kids of all ages and you can enjoy some light refreshments. Book launches are a great way to celebrate all the hard work that goes into creating a book. In some ways, it feels like a way to mark the occasion where said writer emerges from the solitary writing cocoon and joins the ranks of bubbly socialite once again — that is, if the writer in question can remember how to, er, uh, socialize — yeah, that’s it.
If you’d like a peek at the post for the event, click on the link below:
Hope to see you there!
Teachers and Librarians: Are you interested in having an author visit your school this year? Are you in Ontario? If so, take five minutes to fill out the application on The Writers’ Union of Canada website, which describes the Ontario Writers-in-the-Schools Program and contains a link to a one-page application form. The funding is available on a first-come first-served basis, so now is a great time to apply for an author to visit this fall. I’d be delighted to visit your school! Contact me for more information.
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