Tag Archive for Ellen Potter

The Stack of Books on My Night Table: Summer Reading

Many of us have a big stack of books that we hope to read. Sometimes there’s a plan, often it’s a spur of the moment grab. Here’s some of the titles I currently hope to get to — soon, someday, maybe never.

STORY by Robert McKee — a book on the craft of writing, the dynamics of story.

PAUL IS UNDEAD by Alan Goldsher — the Beatles as flesh-eating zombies, naturally.

LEGENDARY SESSIONS: BOB DYLAN, HIGHWAY 61 REVISITED by Colin Irwin — the great artists always make me want to know more; and alas, with so many of today’s celebrities, we just want to know less. Much, much less. Charlie Sheen, I’m looking at you (and I don’t want to).

CRUDDY by Lynda Barry — found this in a used bookstore. Lynda Barry is completely awesome, I revere her. A true artist.

THE UNNAMED by Joshua Ferris — I enjoyed his previous book, Then We Came to the End.

TO THE LIGHTHOUSE by Virginia Woolf — a classic that has slipped through the cracks. Okay, not cracks. The gaping holes in my education.

HOW TO WRITE YOUR LIFE STORY by Ralph Fletcher — I loved Boy Writers, and really respect this man and all that he works to achieve.

BEST NEW ZOMBIE TALES, VOL. 1 — a collection of stories, old and new, about zombies. I’m kind of maybe looking for inspiration here, ideas. No, I’m not writing a zombie book, exactly.

FREEDOM: A NOVEL by Jonathan Franzen — feels like a mandatory read, a divisive book that people seem to either love or hate. No idea in which camp I’ll be.

LET US NOW PRAISE FAMOUS MEN by James Agee — I just finished A Death in the Family and it blew me away. One of the best things I’ve read. Ever.

SLOB by Ellen Potter — this book just keeps coming up on lists, over and over again. At a certain point, I take that as a sign: Somebody’s trying to tell me something.

SUMMERTIME by J.M. Coetze — it’s been a while since I’ve read anything by Coetze, and this book fell into my hands. We’ll see.

WAR DANCES by Sherman Alexie — curious about this one, the rag-tag format, the voice, the awards.

POINT OMEGA by Don DeLillo — a great writer and a book I didn’t know about until I had it in my hands. I love, love, love a short book!

THE MEMBER OF THE WEDDING by Carson McCullers — another used bookshop buy, a classic I haven’t read yet.

LIFE by Keith Richards — should be a lot of fun, waiting for the right moment. I asked for this for my birthday and . . . got it!

What birthday? The one that happened back on February 1st.

“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.

“Bystander” Nominated for the 2011-12 Oklahoma Sequoyah Book Award

I’m happy to report that my master plan for world domination is well under way.

Yes, I’ve got Vermont!

Yes, Kentucky too!

And now, at long last, Oklahoma is mine! All mine!


Three states down, 47 to go. I feel like Alf Landon in the 1936 elections, staring up at the big board as the electoral vote trickled in. How’d that work out for old Alf, I wonder?

Answer: He lost to FDR, 8 electoral votes to 525.

This Alf might have fared better.

Seriously, what an honor to be nominated. It’s so great when you throw a book out into the world and something positive bounces back. (Imagine, I just griped about this the other day.)

I received an email from Christopher Elliott, which said:

Congratulations!! You have been nominated for the Oklahoma Library Association’s Sequoyah Book Award. The Sequoyah Book Award program is one of the most prestigious of the state student choice awards in the nation.


I am pleased to notify you personally that your book “Bystander” has been nominated for the 2011-2012 Intermediate Masterlist. I am attaching a list of this year’s nominees. You have been nominated for the 2011-2012 program that will be promoted from May 2011 until the voting deadline of March 31, 2012. Votes will be counted in early April, 2012 and the winning author(s) will be notified by April 30, 2012.

The OLA Conference will be held either late March or early April 2013. If your book is selected as a winner, I look forward to contacting you to arrange for your trip to Oklahoma to accept the Sequoyah Award from Oklahoma students.

Here is a list of the Nominations for the 2011-2012 Intermediate Award. Remember the students of Oklahoma will choose the winner.

Chasing Lincoln’s Killer, James Swanson
, M.E. Breen
Ellen Abbott
The Girl Who Threw Butterflies
, Mick Cochrane
Closed for the Season,
Mary Downing Hahn
The Brooklyn Nine,
Alan Gratz
Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice
, Phillip Hoose
The Amaranth Enchantment,
Julie Berry
, Courtney Sheinmel
Ellen Potter
The Pricker Boy,
Reade Scott Whinnem
All The Broken Pieces,
Ann E. Burg
Liza Ketchum
Murder At Midnight,
James Preller

Funny, with company like that, I already feel like a winner.

Congratulations, detested rivals fellow authors.

Thank you, members of the Oklahoma Library Association. I’m honored and grateful. I have only one question: Do you know anything about ballot stuffing? Tips, suggestions?

For more information on the Sequoyah Book Award, and about Sequoyah himself (he created the Cherokee syllabary, therefore helping to preserve his people’s language and culture), click here and knock yourself out.