WELCOME! Once a month, usually on a Thursday evening, a group of writers, illustrators, teachers and librarians meets in the Los Feliz area of Los Angeles to discuss children's books. Usually we talk about one picture book and one middle grade or YA novel. After the meeting, Sandy Schuckett, a retired LAUSD librarian, summarizes our discussion. Here are her reports of our thoughts about the books we have read. We'd love to have your comments too!
Thanks to Nancy Hayashi for our wonderful title art! Our group has been meeting since 2007. It was organized under the auspices of the Children's Literature Council of Southern California (CLCSC).

Thursday, September 8, 2011

MOON OVER MANIFEST by Clare Vanderpool and 13 WORDS by Lemony Snicket

Novel: Moon Over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool (2011 Newbery Award)
We had quite animated discussions last night on both books...I think we were all on a 'sugar high'! Re: the novel, some of us absolutely loved it for its writing, plotting and storytelling, time/place setting, historical perspectives, and the amazing amount of research the author obviously had done. Others absolutely hated it, saying it was contrived, staged, trite, foreshadowing, (and since I am one of those who loved it, I can't remember the other adjectives.....sorry.) And a few of our folks were in the middle -- they loved parts of it, other parts/issues, not so much. We all agreed that it was a plot-driven rather than a character-driven novel. Since it DID win a Newbery Award, several people wondered about how the Newbery Committee is selected and who is chosen to serve on it. 
To answer these questions, the following comes from the ALSC (a division of ALA) Operating Handbook:
All members of the Association for Library Service to Children are eligible to serve on the Newbery and Caldecott awards committees. The only restrictions are that a person must agree to be present at the summer and midwinter meetings at which discussion takes place and at which the selections are made, and that the person must have ready access to the major part of the children’s books published during the year under consideration. In addition, a committee member must not have any personal or business involvement that may lead to conflict of interest. Finally, ALSC members cannot serve on either the Newbery Award Selection, Caldecott Award Selection, or Sibert Award Selection, and Notable Children’s Books Committees more often than once every four years (with the exception of the chairs). Committee members are chosen for their experience and represent a broad range of geographical areas as well as sizes and types of libraries. Members may include special and public librarians, university educators and professional reviewers.
a) The Newbery Award Committee shall consist of the following fifteen (15) members: Eight (8) members to be elected (by ALSC members) annually from a slate of no fewer than sixteen (16), a chairperson appointed by the (ALSC) president, and six (6) members appointed by the (ALSC) president.
...and, here's the link to an interview with Clare Vanderpool, author of Moon Over Manifest:
...and, another great interview on the same site with our own Susan Patron:

 Picture Book: 13 Words by Lemony Snicket, illustrated by Maira Kalman
And now, our reactions to our picture book, 13 Words by Lemony Snicket: Again, we had a complete split in opinions. Some thought it was terrific, funny, quirky, and something 2nd -- 3rd graders would love, just because of the complete idiocy of the story. Others felt it would never have been published if it had not been written by Lemony Snicket (aka Daniel Handler), and that it wasn't really 'a story.' All agreed that the illustrations were wonderful, and that the book would not have worked without them.
So....once again, a great evening, great discussions, a lot of sugar, and, as they say, "A good time was had by all."

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