Monday, January 23, 2017

Hot Chocolate!

Maybe I should have called this post Books and a Beverage, because that’s basically what it is—kind of like Books and a Snack, except this time we’re subbing in delicious hot cocoa for popcorn, baked tortillas, and other yummy foods. This is a fun activity you can do with kids on those chilly winter weekends or school holidays.

Here’s what you do:

  1. Find a group of kids who like cocoa (this shouldn’t be too hard to do). Then assemble a collection of books about chocolate. See below for my personal favorites from Lerner. 
  2. Grab a good hot cocoa mix. Plain chocolate mix is a classic, but you can also find mixes in flavors like sea salt caramel, malted milk, and Mexican chocolate (which has a hint of cinnamon in it—yum!).
  3. Assemble a wide variety of cocoa toppings. Feel free to go a little wild here. Marshmallows are great, but also think chocolate candies, butterscotch chips, crumbled-up cookies, colored sprinkles, breakfast cereal, and peanut butter.
  4. Put each of your hot cocoa toppings into a separate bowl. Set them out on a table.
  5. Prepare a cup of hot cocoa for each kid participating—and for yourself! Don’t forget yourself!
  6. Have everyone flavor their cocoa with as many toppings as they like.
  7. Read the books about chocolate while everybody drinks their delicious concoctions. Mmmm…can’t you almost taste the chocolatey goodness?
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Thursday, January 19, 2017

Winter Wonder

9781512414103fc_LargeWinter is a magical season. Snowflakes sparkle under moonlight on early evenings, inviting us to admire their shimmer. Bare tree branches against winter skies form quiet backdrops, offering up a bit of peace on even the busiest of days. Winter ushers in so many fun activities too: ice skating, sledding, making snowmen, sipping cocoa, settling in by a fire with a wonderful book. It seems only fitting that Lerner’s Bumba Books line would celebrate winter, through its appealing, kid-friendly offering called Winter Is Fun! (cover pictured).

Winter Is Fun! takes readers on a tour of everything great that winter brings. We learn about icicles, evergreens, winter holidays, seasonal activities, and more. The fabulous pictures bring winter joy to life, from shots of kids building a snowman with a smile made of colored candies to a sunset illuminating pines covered with frost.

As kids read about winter, they’ll be introduced to nonfiction features too. A table of contents, diagram, picture glossary, index, and Read More section are part of every Bumba book.

I hope you enjoy this winter’s pleasures—and perhaps read about them in Winter Is Fun! After all, with all the wonders that it holds, winter truly is a season to savor.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Strange Fruit: Billie Holiday and the Power of a Protest Song

When we acquired a picture book manuscript about the song "Strange Fruit" from author Gary Golio in December 2013, we had no idea the song would be making news just as the book was ready for publication. On February 1, we'll officially release Strange Fruit: Billie Holiday and the Power of a Protest Song with illustrations by Charlotte Riley-Webb.

Abel Meeropol, a Jewish teacher, poet, and activist, wrote "Strange Fruit" in the late 1930s after seeing a photograph of a lynching. He brought the song to Barney Josephson, the owner of the Greenwich Village club Cafe Society, known as "the wrong place for the Right people." It had opened at the very end of 1938, and at a time when clubs such as Harlem's famous Cotton Club forced black patrons to watch from the back, Cafe Society gave black customers the best seats in the house.

Billie Holiday performed at Cafe Society regularly, and she first sang "Strange Fruit" there in 1939. While others have performed it over the years, it is particularly associated with her. You can find a video of her performing the song live near the end of her life in London, England, here.

Billie Holiday died in July 1959, yet the song's power remains undiminished. Singers from Nina Simone to Annie Lennox to John Legend to India Arie have performed it over the years. In 1999, Time magazine named "Strange Fruit" the song of the century.

It recently made headlines when singer Rebecca Ferguson refused to perform at Donald Trump's inauguration unless she could sing it. "If you allow me to sing 'Strange Fruit', a song that has huge historical importance, a song that was blacklisted in the United States for being too controversial," Ferguson said, "A song that speaks to all the disregarded and downtrodden black people in the United States. A song that is a reminder of how love is the only thing that will conquer all the hatred in this world, then I will graciously accept your invitation and see you in Washington." The song was also featured in a post-election episode of ABC's Blackish.

An interior spread from Strange Fruit: Billie Holiday and the Power of a Protest Song
Carole Boston Weatherford, who wrote a notable book about Billie Holiday for a YA audience, had this to say about our picture book: "With poignant text and striking art, Golio and Riley-Webb put the anti-lynching hymn and racial hatred in historic context for young readers of the twenty-first century. Provocative yet age appropriate, this book is not only a window to past violence but a mirror for horrors unfolding today."

In a starred review, Kirkus Reviews called the book, "A must-read, must-discuss that will speak to children and linger with adults."

If you want to learn more, here are a few additional resources:
More about the song and Billie Holiday from The Guardian
More about Abel Meeropol from NPR
Photographs of Billie Holiday from the Library of Congress
Nina Simone discussing and performing "Strange Fruit" (warning: contains graphic imagery)

By the way, if any readers are going to be attending ALA Midwinter over the weekend, be sure to stop by our booth to get a copy of the book signed by Charlotte Riley-Webb on Saturday at 2:30 pm in booth 1829.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

President-elect Donald Trump’s New Gateway Biography

Special thanks to Spencer Hanson for the following post!

President-elect, Donald J. Trump, will be inaugurated as the 45th President of the United States on Friday, January 20th. Congress, former Presidents and the Supreme Court will be in attendance for the ceremony with Chief Justice John Roberts swearing in the new President at noon. Perhaps most think they know everything about Donald Trump from the past year of media coverage, but there may still be some surprises in Lerner Digital’s new addition to the Gateway Biographies series, Donald Trump: Outspoken Personality and President.

Jill Sherman’s Trump biography is leveled for upper elementary and middle school readers and details Trump’s life and achievements up till his November 2016 victory. Donald Trump’s bid for the White House began on June 16, 2015, when he announced his candidacy for president of the United States at Trump Tower in New York. To this point Trump has led a varied career, from his many business enterprises as a real estate mogul to his role as host in the reality TV show The Apprentice. As chairman of The Trump Organization, his net worth is estimated at more than $4 billion. Trump has tested the waters for a presidential campaign, as a possible candidate for California’s Reform Party in 2000, but he did not go all in to win till his 2016 campaign as a Republican. Trump's outspoken personality caused numerous media controversies and even protests at his presidential rallies, but he never allowed them to slow his momentum. Follow Trump's journey from Trump Tower to the White House in this eBook, Donald Trump: Outspoken Personality and President, and learn about the history of the man who promises to "Make America Great Again."

Meet Sally McGraw!

From Domenica, TFCB’s editorial director: I asked Sally McGraw (above) to share her thoughts about writing Find Your Style: Boost Your Body Image through Fashion Confidence, her new Spring 2017 YA title for TFCB. This a great addition to any collection. In its December 1, 2016, review of the book, School Library Journal said, “The colorful photos portray a diverse set of teen girls….Consider this selection for teen collections for its positive tone and outlook on fashion and style."

Sally says:

My own lifelong struggles with body image are what inspired me to create my blog, Already Pretty, in 2007. The blog mainly focuses on an adult audience. Yet over the years, I've received many pleas for posts and resources that speak to younger women. Which is why I was honored and delighted to have the chance to write Find Your Style, body-positive guidebook to fashion, personal style, and figure flattery for teen girls. 

 I wanted to re-cast the mission of Already Pretty—which shows that body knowledge gained through explorations of personal style can foster self-love and self-respect--in terms that would resonate with a YA audience. And since young women have access to more sartorial options than ever before, I knew this message would be welcome.

In Find Your Style, my goal is to be inclusive of a wide range of body shapes and sizes, gender identities, and cultural dressing needs. I know that real diversity not only supports those who feel and are marginalized, but also reminds us all to think beyond ourselves. In the book, I focus on presenting options. Instead of handing down maxims about the "right" way to dress, I talk about a variety of figure flattery techniques. I talk about how we can use color, shape, balance and accessorization to highlight or downplay whatever we want. The book is great resource for all style-curious teens, and especially for those who worry about "doing it wrong.I feel strongly that there is absolutely no wrong way to be stylish! And I encourage teens to explore styles they love and embrace what makes them feel good.

Exploring personal style is no cure-all for how we may feel about our bodies. It isn’t a message that resonates with everybody, and some body issues do require professional help. However, personal style can be a tool for changing how we feel about and present our bodies—and it doesn't require that we change our bodies. It is a gentle, accepting means of shifting self-image. Which may be just right for teen girls who want support to feel less discouraged as they seek ways to love themselves and their bodies. I think this is a book that every school will want to include in their collections!