Archive for April 28, 2011

“Bystander” Named to Ballot of 2012 Charlotte Award Nominees

This is amazing good news. Great news, in fact. I’m happy and proud to say that my book, Bystander, is included on the ballot for the 2012 New York State Reading Association Charlotte Award.

To learn more about the award, and to download a ballot or bookmark, please click here.

The voting is broken down into four categories and includes forty books. Bystander is in the “Grades 6-8/Middle School” category. Really, it’s staggering. There are ten books in this category out of literally an infinity of titles published each year. You do the math, people.

For more background stories on Bystander — that cool “insider info” you can only find on the interwebs! — please click here (bully memory) and here (my brother John) and here (Nixon’s dog, Checkers) and here (the tyranny of silence).

Below please find all the books on the ballot — congratulations, authors & illustrators! I’m honored to be in your company.


Bubble Trouble . . . Margaret Mahy/Polly Dunbar

City Dog, Country Frog . . . Mo Willems/Jon J Muth

Clever Jack Takes the Cake . . . Candace Fleming/G. Brian Karas

Lousy Rotten Stinkin’ Grapes . . . Margie Palatini/Barry Moser

Memoirs of a Goldfish . . . Devin Scillian/Tim Bower

Otis . . . Loren Long

Stars Above Us . . . Geoffrey Norman/E.B. Lewis

That Cat Can’t Stay . . . Thad Krasnesky/David Parkins

Turtle, Turtle, Watch Out! . . . April Pulley Sayre/Annie Patterson

We Planted a Tree . . . Diane Muldrow/Bob Staake


The Can Man . . . Laura E. Williams/Craig Orback L

Emily’s Fortune . . . Phyllis Reynolds Naylor

Family Reminders . . . Julie Danneberg/John Shelley

Fly Free! . . . Roseann Thong/Eujin Kim Neilan

Jake . . . Audrey Couloumbis

Lizards . . . Nic Bishop

Lunch Lady and the Cyborg Substitute . . . Jarrett J. Krosoczka

Mirror Mirror: A Book of Reversible Verse . . . Marilyn Singer/Josee Massee

The Sandwich Swap . . . Queen Rania of Jordan & Kelly DiPucchio/Tricia Tusa

Sojourner Truth’s Step-Stomp Stride . . . Andrea Pinkney/Brian Pinkney


All the Broken Pieces . . . Ann E. Burg

Bystander . . . James Preller

The Brilliant Fall of Gianna Z. . . . Kate Messner

Candy Bomber . . . Michael Tunnell

Cleopatra Rules! . . . Vicky Alvear Shecter

How to Survive Middle School . . . Donna Gephart

January’s Sparrow . . . Patricia Polacco

The Secret Science Alliance and the Copycat Crook . . . Eleanor Davis

Slob . . . Ellen Potter

A Tale Dark & Grimm . . . Adam Gidwitz


Beautiful Creatures . . . Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl

The Chosen One . . . Carol Lynch Williams

The Maze Runner . . . James Dashner

North of Beautiful . . . Justina Chen Headley

The Notorious Benedict Arnold . . . Steven Sheinkin

The Sweetheart of Prosper County . . . Jill S. Alexander

The Things a Brother Knows . . . Dana Reinhardt

Trash . . . Andy Mulligan

Truce . . . Jim Murphy

The Year of Goodbyes . . . Debbie Levy

By the way, who’s Charlotte?

Illustration: Garth Williams.

Overheard: “But Dad, it’s the mud room!”

Quick story from this morning:

Nick has already gone to school. Lisa, off to work. Maggie still asleep upstairs. And it’s almost time to get Gavin, my middle schooler, out the door. Not a problem usually, as he’s pathologically punctual, like his father.

I walk into the mud room by the side door, where we hang coats and backpacks and shelve our shoes (in theory!). Clang, bang, clang! Gavin is slamming together the soles of his Reeboks, mud flying everywhere in caked clumps.

To be clear: He is inside the house as he does this. And my son is doing it out of the goodness of his dutiful heart, since we’ve recently disparaged the trail of mud inside the house, through the halls, into the kitchen, across the rug. Yesterday I went so far as to hand my put-upon son a broom and dustpan, compelled him to sweep and other hideous punishments.

So watching him bang the sneakers together, I recognize it as some form of progess.

“Gavin, you do that outside,” I said. Maybe with a little something in my voice that conveys a hint of, just possibly, frustration.

“But Dad, it’s the mud room,” he replied.

I let that sink in for a moment, admire the logic of it. The mud room. Maybe not the best name in the world. In Gavin’s mind, a room dedicated to the accumulation of mud. There should be mud, in fact. And, in fact, he was doing a swell thing. Helping the cause! A good boy.

“Yeah, but,” I replied, gently, “let’s try to keep it outside. Okay? Bang the sneakers outside.”

So he instantly steps into the wet driveway in his white socks and starts to whack away. I almost talk about the wet ground and the white socks and how maybe that’s not the best combination in the world. How it’s possible to stand just inside and kind of lean out the door when whacking said sneakers. But decide against it.

We’re moving in the right direction, one soggy step at a time.

My Family, Getting Their Bronze On

Lisa sent along this snap from Florida — while I stayed home in the cold, damp, gray Northeast to work. No, no skin cancer for me! I’ve neatly avoided that trap by working in a windowless basement. Clever, eh? Lisa knew this photo would make me smile. Left to right: Gavin (11) reading The Notorious Benedict Arnold by Steve Sheinkin, which I purchased for him based on reviews like this; Nick (17) reading And Here’s the Kicker: 21 Conversations with Humor Writers on Their Craft by Mike Sacks, a book which I thoroughly enjoyed and passed along; and Maggie (10) reading Nature Girl by debut novelist Jane Kelley.

Don’t you just love debut novelists? The thrill of that first book, a dream come true, and so much promise of what’s yet to come. Good luck, Jane, whoever you are!

Yo Yo Ma & Lil Buck

Ah, the viral video. This one has been around for a few days, and I hadn’t clicked on it, because, obviously, I can’t click on everything. But it kept showing up, time and again, and finally I thought, okay . . . and clicked away. Glad I did. It’s sort of a small miracle, magical, wondrous.

If you haven’t seen this yet, trust me and give it a try.

Yo Yo Ma and Lil Buck, together for the very first time. I can’t wait to show this to Maggie.

You need to a flashplayer enabled browser to view this YouTube video

Famous Typewriters and Their Authors (and vice versa)

Flavorwire had a fun piece recently, just a series of cool photos, and I recommend you check it out by clicking the link.

If you’re still with us, here’s a taste of Flavorwire’s simple idea, below. For fun, see if you can correctly guess who is who. Or whom is who. Or who is whom? Because, like, anybody can guess incorrectly, that takes no special talent.

Write your answers in the comments section. First prize gets nothing whatsoever.

TIME OUT: You know what. Strike that. You want to lurk? You want to read, click through, but not be guilted into writing in the comments section? I get that. I do. So lurk away, it’s fine. It’s better than fine. I’m grateful that you’re here at all, like some enlightened camper, leaving no footprint behind. I hate going to concerts when the star starts desperately trying to enlist the audience into some sad sing-along. “Come on, everybody, clap your hands!”

Hell no.