Monday, June 27, 2016

Why Do We Say These Things?

Is this because I’m an editor, or does anyone else out there find themselves wondering what the deal is with the way we talk? (And by “we,” I pretty much mean all of us—especially myself, because I wonder about the things that come out of my own mouth about a million times more often than I question what anybody else says!) In particular, here are a few things I hear often that—to borrow words from an old-school rap song—always make me go hmmm.

● people using boughten for the past tense of buy. Is this a Minnesota thing? Has anyone else heard this? I don’t remember hearing it in the past, but suddenly, I’ve come across it a few times in just the past several months. (Like I said…hmmm.)

hone in instead of home in. This one’s been around forever, and I should probably just give it up because it seems like a losing battle. But still, it doesn’t change the fact that, in this editor’s mind, hone will always mean “to sharpen” while home means “to zero in.”

try and instead of try to. I use this one myself sometimes. To me, though, when we say we’re going to try and do something, it sounds like we’re saying we’re going to do two separate things—first, we’re going to try. Then, we’re going to do whatever it is we want to do. If we say we’re going to try to do something, on the other hand, we mean we’re going to give it our best shot and see how it all pans out.

● the reflexive pronoun thing. People are always asking one another to “give the form to Person A or myself [myself being the reflexive pronoun here] once you have completed it,” and things like that. Whatever happened to just saying me?

● Eye-talian…as opposed to, you know, Italian. This always makes me wonder if whatever Eye-talian thing the speaker is describing comes from a place called Eye-taly. This one’s a biggie here in Minnesota. We Minnesotans also like to say Holly-Dazzle to describe a legendary local parade we used to have here every December—even though this parade is actually called Holi-Dazzle. (Minnesotans never say holly-days to describe the holidays…so why do we all say Holly-Dazzle? Just one of life’s great mysteries.)

● Last but not least, adults who refer to themselves in the third person when talking to kids—as in, “Mommy’s thirsty. Let’s stop at the drinking fountain.” This is another one I've caught myself doing. This, in spite of the fact that, back when I was in kindergarten, I had a teacher who did this all the time—as in, “Mrs. So-and-So doesn’t like it when you talk out of turn.” And it always threw me for a loop. I forever wondered why this teacher didn’t say I.

What speech quirks have caught your attention? Are they ones you use yourself, or ones you’ve overheard? And do people in any other state say Eye-talian? Inquiring minds would love to know—so please drop me a comment!

Friday, June 24, 2016

Free Book Friday: Goodreads Incognita Giveaway

Happy Friday, everyone! Today we're featuring a Goodreads giveaway of a Fall 2016 title: Incognita (sequel to Tabula Rasa) by Kristen Lippert-Martin.

In the wake of an experimental procedure that almost wiped out her memory forever, Angel has a chance for a fresh start. She's recovered most of her memories, rebuilt her physical strength, and reunited with her boyfriend, Thomas. But her Velocius abilities—capacities for superhuman mental power—linger in her brain and put her life in jeopardy. And just when Angel is starting to feel comfortable with her new life, Thomas is kidnapped.

With Thomas's life and perhaps her own in danger, Angel races to unravel a new layer of the mystery surrounding her past and stay one step ahead of her enemies.

Enter the giveaway for the chance to win one of five ARCs today!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Incognita by Kristen Lippert-Martin


by Kristen Lippert-Martin

Giveaway ends July 07, 2016.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter Giveaway

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Get Gardening

Special thanks to intern Rebecca Rowell for the following post!

It’s officially summer! The gardening season is in full swing. We’ve moved past tulips, lilacs, and other spring flowers and are well on our way to the glorious colors (and tastes!) of summer in Minnesota. Even the youngest of gardeners—or budding botanists or aspiring arborists—can pick from a great selection of eBooks on the topic of gardening. Here are just few selections from Lerner Digital. 

In Urban Gardening (2016), Carol Hand highlights the community garden which is growing in popularity. In this gardening book for readers in grades 6–8, we can learn about why such a garden, which includes a school garden, might be a good idea, what it takes to start a community or school garden, and how readers can get involved. 

Kari Cornell’s The Nitty-Gritty Gardening Book: Fun Projects for All Seasons (2015) has fun and creative ideas to get kids in grades 4–8 gardening, including indoors. In addition to learning how to grow potatoes and strawberries, readers can get the 4-1-1 on which flowers to plant to attract bees, birds, and butterflies. And there’s no need to wait until spring or summer to get planting. Eager gardeners can even learn how to get daffodils to bloom in winter (yay!).

Dig into the mathematics of gardening by reading Garden Math. This 2016 title by Katie Marsico for readers in grades 3–4 shows how math is everywhere in the garden. Readers will learn how to measure a garden’s perimeter and area, calculate how many flowers will fit in a plot, and predict vegetable growth and harvest dates. It all adds up to a lot of fun! 

Spring may be over, but summer has only just begun. There’s still plenty of time to start gardening this season, so get planting!

Monday, June 20, 2016

The Library in My Head


I give this advice all the time. Read children's books. Read the books are currently being published--not just what you loved in your own childhood. Read, read, read.

Intellectually, this advice always made sense to me, but recently I've been noticing the ways in which my reading influences how I edit books.

Around 2007 or 2008, I began reading children's nonfiction in earnest. I went through lists of past winners of the Sibert Award, the Orbis Pictus Award, and more. I began seeking out blogs that regularly review children's nonfiction. The wonderful Minneapolis Central Library is quite close Lerner's offices, so anytime I came across a reference to a book that sounded interesting, I requested it.

While reading, I'd notice things I liked, things I disliked, things I'd never thought of doing in a book. Sometimes I'd tell a colleague about what I was reading or even force a book into their hands and demand that they read it so I could find out if they shared my opinions. (Why yes, I just used their and they as third-person singular gender-neutral pronouns.)

I knew what I was doing was somehow helpful to me as an editor, but I didn't quite know how. Well, I finally figured it out: reading all these other books has allowed me to build my own sort of mental library. When I'm evaluating a new submission or editing a book, I don't think of that book in isolation. I think of it terms of what else I've read and how it relates to those other books.

This goes beyond determining whether a book will stand out from the competition. A lot of editing is problem-solving. And by having seen how so many other book-makers have approached and solved the problems related to sharing information and stories with readers of different ages, I can borrow from those techniques as I suggest possible solutions for the problems I see in the books I edit.

Sometimes when I'm editing, it almost feels as if all the books I've read are having a conversation in my head. I'm borrowing from and reacting to these books while working with an author (and sometimes an illustrator) to create something new and compelling.

In your own reading, perhaps you've come across the quotation: "If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants," which is a line from a letter Isaac Newton wrote to Robert Hooke in February 1675. That's not unlike the way I feel about the books I work on. If I contribute in a meaningful way to making a book the best it can be, my contributions are in large part due to all I've learned from the books I've read.

Note: The books included in this post are just a few of the books in my mental library. What are some of the books in the library in your head?

Friday, June 17, 2016

Free Book Friday: Masters of Disguise

Happy Free Book Friday! First, congratulations to Kizzi Roberts, who's won The Black DragonKizzi, please send your address to so we can get your book in the mail.

Today we're giving away a copy of Masters of Disguise: Amazing Animal Tricksters by Rebecca L. Johnson.

In the animal kingdom, survival is the name of the game—and not everything is as it seems. A number of animals rely on particularly clever tricks to fool predators or prey. A baby bird mimics a poisonous caterpillar. A moth escapes bats by making sounds that interfere with the bats' echolocation. A tiny rain forest spider builds a big spider "puppet" out of bits of dead leaves, insect parts, and other items. Find out more about some of nature's most bizarre and bloodthirsty con artists and meet the scientists who are working to figure out just how they pull off their amazing tricks. 

If you'd like a chance to win Masters of Disguise, please leave a comment on this post that includes your first and last name, or tweet this line: 

Free Book Friday! Tweet to win MASTERS OF DISGUISE from  @LernerBooks. 

We'll announce the winner on the blog on Friday, July 1. Good luck!