Steve Sheinkin Wins Empire State Award, Handbook for Storytellers Review

SheinkinSteve Sheinkin Wins Empire State Award: The Youth Services Section of the New York Library Association is excited to announce that the winner of the 2016 Empire State Award for Excellence in Literature for Young People is Steve Sheinkin.  Mr. Sheinkin will be honored at a luncheon on Friday, November 4, 2016 during the Association’s annual conference in Saratoga Springs, NY.

Steve Sheinkin is a resident of Saratoga Springs and an award-winning author of nonfiction for children and young adults.  He began his career writing textbooks, including one-page biographies, skills lessons, and entire chapters.   In 2009 he wrote his last textbook and walked away never to return.  Following his departure from the world of textbook publishing, he released the graphic novel series, The Adventures of Rabbi Harvey, and eventually his first nonfiction work, King George: What Was His Problem?, which is a look at the stories of the American Revolution that would not be published in the textbooks he used to write.

Two of his books, Bomb: The Race to Build —and Steal—the World’s Most Dangerous Weapon and The Port Chicago 50: Disaster, Mutiny, and the Fight for Civil Rights were both National Book Award finalists.  In 2013, Bomb was a Newbery Honor book and won the Sibert Medal from the Association for Library Service to Children.  His most recent work, Most Dangerous: Daniel Ellsberg and the Secret History of the Vietnam War is a National Book Award finalist and was this year’s winner of the YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults.

First awarded in 1990, the Empire State Award is given to an author and/or illustrator currently residing in New York State to honor a significant body of work in the field of literature for young people.  Past recipients of this award include Maurice Sendak, Madeleine L’Engle, Vera Williams, Donald Crews, Jean Craighead George, Jerry Pinkney, Joseph Bruchac, Linda Sue Park, Laura Vaccaro Seeger, Bruce Coville, Laurie Halse Anderson, and last year’s honoree, Vivian Vande Velde.  The Empire State Award committee is pleased to welcome Steve Sheinkin to this group.

Books for Professional Reading:

Handbook for StorytellersFreeman, Judy and Caroline Feller Bauer. The Handbook for Storytellers. ALA, 2015. 394p. $65 (paper).  ISBN 978-0-8389-1100-6 (paper). 

Many years ago, it was standard that a children’s librarian could perform memorized stories as well as use read-alouds and songs for storytime. Many of us had storytelling training, from voice projection to story selection. But with all the newer duties assigned to youth services librarians, storytelling became a skill fewer people were required to have. This book can remedy that for those storytime presenters who would like to add storytelling to their repertoire.

Judy Freeman has updated the late Bauer’s earlier book, first published in 1977 and later revised in 1993, but she captures Bauer’s well-known energy and enthusiasm for the subject. A talented storyteller herself, Freeman is also an adjunct professor at Pratt, and a former children’s librarian so she knows the subject well. It is clear she is supportive of anyone interested in learning to tell stories to children and this book gives clear instruction as well as moral support for the endeavor.

The earlier editions contained so much information that the new version is actually two separate books. This review focuses on the new storytelling book, Handbook for Storytellers.  The other book focuses on library storytimes, not the performance of stories: Handbook for Storytime Programs by Judy Freeman and Caroline Feller Bauer, ALA, 2015, 616p., $65 (paper), ISBN 978-0838912652. This reviewer has not seen the book focusing on storytime programs.

The author begins with some basics of setting up a storytime, publicity, and other nuts and bolts of program planning the reader can apply to storytimes that don’t include storytelling. For example, the chapter on publicity includes information on flyers and press releases as well as newer social media venues for promotion, such as Twitter and Facebook. The next chapter offers advice on using props and other visuals at a storytime or at storytelling sessions. But the following three-quarters of the book covers the skill of performance storytelling.

The fourth chapter, entitled “Selecting, Preparing, and Telling the Story” does just that – advice on choosing a story, techniques on learning the story, tips for vocal projection and gesturing, and lots of other information. Choosing a story that you relate to is key, along with basics for being comfortable in front of an audience. We all have seen professional storytellers at our libraries who are wonderful actors, but you don’t have to “act out” the story. But learning to speak clearly, avoid pacing back and forth or using distracting gestures, can really help the audience focus on the story.

The rest of the book contains annotated lists of stories to learn, with the emphasis on folk and fairy tales. There are even full-text short tales to learn, to get you started. There is also a section on stories from around the world, so you can choose some from your own cultural background, or offer stories from any area to show the diversity and richness of stories. These chapters will come in handy once you have tried telling a few simple stories, and want to add to your repertoire.

Even though Bauer died in 2013, the text often refers to the authors by saying “we recommend” or “our experience” which is fine, as Freeman was trained by Bauer and wants to honor the work of the earlier editions. The book’s tone is very friendly and supportive, which will be a great confidence booster to new storytellers. And the two-thirds of book containing tales to tell and lists of stories will be useful even to experienced storytellers. The book ends with subject, author, and title indices, which are quite helpful. Larger libraries will want a reference copy for staff training, but circulating copies may also be helpful for teachers if you make them aware of this book.

Penny Peck, San Jose State University’s iSchool

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ALSC Cancels Conference, Review of “No Better Friend”

ALSCALSC Cancels Conference: The Association of Library Service to Children (ALSC), a division of the American Library Association, is canceling the upcoming National Institute that was scheduled for September 2016 in Charlotte, North Carolina, in protest of that state’s new anti-LGBT laws. In a press release, ALSC said:

“The cancellation is a response to the passage last month of North Carolina’s Public Facilities Privacy & Security Act (House Bill 2), which repealed all LGBT-inclusive nondiscrimination ordinances across the state. The law contradicts the core values, purpose, and diversity work of ALSC and undermines civil rights and the fundamental principles upon which libraries are founded.”

For more information about the cancellation, including refund procedures, go to:

Review of the Week:

Weintraub, Robert. No Better Friend: A Man, A Dog, and Their Incredible True Story ofNoBetterFriend Friendship and Survival in World War II. Non-fiction. Little, 05/2016. 283[+4]pp. $16.99. 978-0-316-34467-8. OUTSTANDING. GRADES 5-ADULT.

Judy, an English Pointer, was one of the most celebrated heroes of WW II in postwar England. As a puppy she survived by her wits in the streets of Shanghai. During the Sino-Japanese War and WW II, she was looked after by a series of English naval men and took great risks to protect them—again and again— when their ships were bombed and sunk. Just before the fall of Singapore to the Japanese, a shy 22-year-old sailor, Frank Williams, took over Judy’s care. The two bonded with such force that together they survived near-fatal scrapes with prison guards; starvation; illness; and exhaustion in a POW camp in the Sumatran jungle. The author includes sidebars of historical wartime events and back matter with a timeline and bibliography. No Better Friend brings the Pacific Theater of WW II to life through the moving true story of a wily and big-hearted dog. Review based on an ARC.

Katrina Bergen, Berkeley PL

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Beatty Award Goes to Eggers, Follett Buys Baker & Taylor

This Bridge Will Not Be Gray2016 Beatty Award Recipient: This Bridge Will Not Be Gray written by Dave Eggers, illustrated by Tucker Nichols, and published by McSweeney’s  has been selected as the 2016 recipient of the California Library Association’s John and Patricia Beatty Award.

This Bridge Will Not Be Gray tells the story of how the Golden Gate Bridge came to be its distinctive orange color with simple text and vibrant cut paper artwork.

Dave Eggers is the author of many books, including The Circle and A Hologram for the King. He is the cofounder of: Voice of Witness, an oral-history series focused on human-rights crises; 826 National, a network of writing and tutoring centers; and ScholarMatch, which connects donors and under-resourced students to make college possible. As a longtime resident of the San Francisco Bay Area, he’s seen the Golden Gate Bridge just about every day for 20 years. Tucker Nichols is an artist whose work has been featured in many museums, galleries and publications. He is the co-author, with his brother Jon Nichols, of the children’s book Crabtree. He also lives and works near the Golden Gate Bridge.

Follett Corp. Buys Baker & Taylor

In a huge deal that consolidates the publishing industry’s wholesaling segment, Follett Corp. has acquired Baker & Taylor for an undisclosed price. According to a release form Follett, the combined company will have sales of $3.6 billion and will offer “librarians, patrons, educators and students unprecedented access to the best curated physical and digital content wherever learning and reading take place in the community.”

Follett, with annual revenue of $2.6 billion, is a provider of technology, services and print and digital content to PreK-12 libraries, schools and higher education institutions and is one of the country’s largest operators of college stores, while B&T has focused on distributing books, video and music products to public libraries and institutions. The purchase includes B&T’s Bookmasters unit.

Follett said B&T will remain based in Charlotte, N.C., and will continue to operate as before, serving customers through its existing management team and business operations. George Coe, B&T CEO and president, will continue to head B&T, reporting to Ray Griffith, president and CEO of Follett.

“Acquiring Baker & Taylor marks a major milestone for Follett that expands the possibilities of our two businesses,” said Todd A. Litzsinger, chairman of Follett, in a statement. “Through our support of schools, public libraries, colleges, local bookstores and retailers, our teams are uniquely positioned to help communities everywhere strengthen literacy and learning.

In a note sent to publishers, David Cully, president of retail and executive v-p of merchandising, wrote:

There are no plans to integrate the two companies at this time, which means both will continue to operate as before.

To ensure a seamless transition, the existing partner relationships and processes each company has in place today will largely remain unchanged for now.

If you have relationships with both companies today, expect to receive the same high level of service and attention without disruption going forward.

As in the past and in keeping with our commitment to your business, we will keep you informed of any relevant changes or developments.

Following the announcement, Follett said that Nader Qaimari has been promoted to president of Follett School Solutions, reporting to Coe. Qaimari was named general manager of Follett’s PreK-12 business in October of 2015.

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Our Family Coalition Supports Transgender Youth with Readings

I am Jazz

In just a few weeks, parents, caregivers, educators, community leaders, ministers and students across the country will join to support transgender children and youth by hosting readings in their communities of the children’s book I Am Jazz.
Already, more than 85 people have signed up. Today, you can help us break 100!
HRC Foundation’s Welcoming Schools program is joining with the National Education Association (NEA) and the National Coalition Against Censorship (NCAC) to hold these readings on April 28, 2016, and we need your help. But don’t worry, we’ll help you every step of the way with promoting your event, planning your event and discussion and providing attendees with information and resources. We even have a new I Am Jazz lesson plan for educators!
Sign up today to help us reach even more young people with this amazing story.
With all the challenges that transgender youth face, and all the negative messages they hear from lawmakers and anti-LGBT groups, let’s send them as many messages of love, affirmation and support as we possibly can!
Here’s what we need from you:

Spread the word by sharing this information with your friends on social media.
Consider hosting a reading yourself –– in your school, at a local library, in your church or in a community center. Sign up here.

We’re counting on you to be a part of this amazing day of action to support transgender youth!


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James Cross Giblin Dies, Meg Rosoff Named Astrid Lindgren Laureate

GiblinNonfiction Author James Cross Giblin Dies: James Cross Giblin, author of several notable children’s nonfiction books, died at age 82 on April 10, 2016 after a long illness. Giblin was also an editor and publisher, including Clarion books and Houghton Mifflin. He received the 2003 Sibert Medal for The Life and Death of Adolf Hitler.

Meg Rosoff Named 2016 Astrid Lindgren Laureate: Meg Rosoff, author of several award-Rosoffwinning Young Adult novels, has been named the Astrid Lindgren Laureate in the UK. The American-born author has lived in London since 1989, and is probably best known for How I Live Now (Penguin, 2004), and Picture Me Gone (Putnam, 2013).

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Review of the Week: Steve Light’s “Swap!”


Light, Steve. Swap!  Steve Light, Illus. Picture Book. Candlewick, 02/2016. [34]pp. $16.99. 978-0-7636-7990-3. OUTSTANDING. GRADES PRE-2.

Gorgeous hand-drawn illustrations depict a set of trades, starting with a coat button and two teacups, to gather materials to refurbish a rundown ship. “Two teacups for three coils of rope. Swap ! Two coils of rope for six oars. Swap !” Detailed illustrations using a fountain pen with nib, then hand-colored using inks and blue gouache on paper will be devoured by the observant child. The sea, ship captain, his friend, and a monkey appearing throughout, as well as the objects traded are in color while everything else is illustrated in b&w. Readers will have fun seeing how new owners use the traded objects: oars are used to hang flags; a flag is used as a smock; anchors are used to hold spools of thread, etc. The level of detail will only be fully appreciated during a lap read. Front endpapers depict a map and back endpapers depict the same map with a route of all the trades.

Dayni Kuo, Oakland PL

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Stagebridge Storytelling Class, Beverly Cleary Salute

Olga LoyaStagebridge Storytelling Class: Renowned storyteller Olga Loya will be teaching a storytelling course at Stagebridge, 2501 Harrison St., Oakland, CA. The course runs on Wednesdays, May 3 through June 6, 2016, for $95. The focus of the course is on bilingual storytelling and Latino stories but all are welcome (Spanish speaking is not required). Check here for the course schedule and registration: .

More on Beverly Cleary’s 100th: Check out this article celebrating “Ramona Quimby” and author Beverly Cleary –

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