11/11/13

2 Cute Pictures of My Cat, or what I learned at Kidlitcon (with recap of Blogging the Middle Grade Books)

Here is my official Kidlitcon 2013 recap post!

A thing I learned from Cynthia Leitich Smith's Keynote talk (which was great)-- having a number in your blog post title and having pictures of cats are both good ways to get visitors....


(I know.  They are awful pictures.  Not cute at all.  But I don't particularly like taking pictures of my cats.  This might not be a good idea).










So. The main thing I learn every time I go to Kidlitcon is how much fun it can be to talk to people. Sure, I talk to my family and co-workers and friends in real life, but rarely do I talk to them with passionate interest about really interesting things like children's books and blogging and candy crush. And on top of that, when you know people on line in the book world, but then meet them in real life, you have so much background information that you've never shared with each other, and so you can chat chat chat about that too. In short, I love being reminded that I can be social and enjoy it (and I managed to beat six more levels of Candy Crush during those times when I had to take Restorative Breaks).

Working my way chronologically through my time in Austin:

On Thursday I learned that I enjoy hanging out with Sarah Stevenson lots, and that it is sad to see dead tortoises by the side of the road (both of which I actually could have guessed).

On Friday, I learned that when put in front of hundreds of free books, as happened at the meet and greet that kicked off the con, I loose what little rational thought I start with and want far too many.   First Second sent a lovely box of finished copies, and Bloomsbury sent a lovely box that included such gems as Shannon Hale's forthcoming Dangerous (thanks to the both of you--we were very appreciative!), and the local bookstore (I think it was them) brought boxes and boxes of books, and lots of us brought books, and my luggage wasn't any lighter going home.

I learned Nikki Loftin (Sinister Sweetness of Splendid Academy) has a new book, Nightingale's Nest, coming out in February that sounds great--it is a reimagining of Hans Christian Anderson's The Nightingale, and she let me have her second-to-very-last ARC.  And look at the cover.  Win!

I learned (while on break from socializing) that 12th Street Antiquarian books has no children books at all, but a nice lady (people were so friendly!) offered to drive me to the next closest used bookstore.  Sadly, I had to pass.

Friday summary:  I met lots of new people, and re-met lots of less new people, and it was lovely.

On Saturday I learned that it was not possible to get coffee at our hotel at 5 am.  I learned that Austin goes in heavily for vanilla flavoured creemer [sic] product, and if you want milk with your gas station coffee, you have to buy it yourself.  On the way back to the hotel, I learned the life story of a nice homeless man, and was rather glad he was, in fact, nice, because the neighborhood was somewhat dicier in the dark of the early morning than was comfy.  (On Saturday I bumped into the hotel manager at 5:30, and he got me my coffee. Phew.)

And then Kidlitcon kicked of, with Cynthia Leitch Smith's great keynote talk.  And all the sessions I went to (Jen and Sarah on fighting blog burnout, Kim and Kelly on critical review, and Lee Wind on diversity) were inspiring and thoughtful book and blog-wise, and Lee's session went even further and inspired me, in my dutiful child-like way, to try to be a better person in general (in all sincerity).

Then it was my turn-Katy and I and  Melissa  ran a discussion on Blogging the Middle Grade (thanks to Rosamund for the picture):



We came into it with a pageful of topics, but the conversation got going in just the sort of beautiful audience-participatory way I had hoped it would, so we have enough topics left over for several more kidlitcons.

We agreed that it is important to remember that readers, even if they can be lumped with other readers (11 year old boys who like sports) are still individuals, still in the process of learning who they are, and so, when you write a review, the more you can make clear just what what very particular sort of book it is, and what very particular sort of reader will like the book, the better.   Mentioning other similar titles is really helpful for the parent, or teacher, or other person actually getting the book, and might even bring genuine kids to your blog.

Likewise, middle grade books have tons of variety in theme, content, style of writing, etc, and every blog reviewer is going to pick up on different things.  Linking to other blog reviews of the same book will help clarify a book's appeal, or lack thereof.    And in a similar vein, the point was made that (in general) bookshelves and libraries only put the book in one slot, but a blog review can place a book in many possible categories, helping it find readers.

There are lots of gatekeepers looking for books to offer precocious readers who are still too young for many of the books at their "reading level," and so making it clear when a book marketed for 10-12 year olds actually would be  good read for a second grader too is useful; my co-panelist Katy suggested that such posts could be labeled these specifically in some way  as "Careful Content" (not to be confused with the warning Careful!!!! Content!!!).  

There was more, but that's all I wrote down.

[edited to add:  It occurs to me that I should mention there were concurrent sessions as well, that were also of great interest--I wish I could have gone to everything.  I think this was the best Kidlitcon programing ever.  And the final talk was a round-table moderated by Sarah, in which veteran bloggers discussed how the whole blog thing has changed over the years, and that was great too.]

And after that it was just more lovely socializing, that kept on going right up until Sheila and I parted ways at the Baltimore airport....

Thank you, Kidlitcon Organizers!   Next year is a West Coast year, which is hard for me, but typing this post has made me smile all over again (except for remembering the poor dead tortoise), so I may well go anyway.  Cause it is so nice to have peeps.

Pam is going to round-up recaps at the Kidlitosphere website, so check there for more.  And if you would like to sign up for the Kidlitosphere listserv, here's the link for that:
http://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/Kidlitosphere/info

And here's another round-up from Kelly at Stacked that is considerably more substantive.


24 comments:

  1. Is that an African-American character? Fully illustrated on the cover instead of being shown as a silhouette? Go, Razorbill! (A division of Random Penguins I think?)

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    1. And it's Pretty!!! I hope the Random Penguins don't change it!

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  2. You did a wonderful job of capturing all the things that were great about Kidlitcon. I didn't get to attend your session, but having been in the position of trying to find appropriate books for an advanced reader who wanted complex stories, but not mature content, I think the idea of "Careful Content" labels and lists is a great idea.

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    1. Thanks! I'm glad you commented, because it reminded me to mention, at least generally, all the other programing I hadn't!

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  3. Thanks for recapping so well and so quickly, Charlotte. It was wonderful seeing you, and I'm glad to hear that you're planning (at this point anyway) to attend next year.

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    1. I didn't have to go to work today, and so had lovely peaceful blogging (and painting and laundry and etc) time today! I hope next year works out for all of us.......................

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  4. Thanks for the recap. Maybe next year i can go if it's on the West Coast.

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  5. awesome notes and sound bites! Thanks so much for sharing. I wish I could have made it, but this year it was just tough! Looking forward to more notes from the other sessions.
    -Reshama

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    1. thanks! I hope we end up at the same one some day!

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  6. That is a pretty cover!

    (And I wish I'd gotten a copy of Dangerous!)

    And I've never had anything but nice conversations with the homeless people on Austin buses.

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    1. I found all the people in Austin to be extremely friendly...although it might have been that I was being friendlier than usual too. I don't like to talk to anybody on the buses I take here, because then they might expect me to talk more to them every time we're on the same bus, and then when would I read????

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  7. Sounds like a wonderful conference. Thanks for giving us a sense of what you got out of it.

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  8. Thanks so much Charlotte! I so wanted to attend--hopefully next year, and I won;t be such a newbie then.

    Lindsey at A is for Aging

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  9. I think you are one of the smartest and funniest people I've ever met. I might be your stalker fangirl now.

    P.S. I asked Amanda what she would recommend for someone who picked up and read Animal Farm just for fun, and she said, "I liked it, but I don't read a lot of political satire for fun, so I don't know any more."

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    1. Aw shucks.

      And thanks for asking Amanda! I don't read political satire for fun either...

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    2. Ooh, I would recommend The Mouse That Roared. I loved it at that age.

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    3. Ooh, the Mouse that Roared - I loved that when I was younger, too.

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  10. As always, it was terrific seeing you again Charlotte. I may just have to take you up on your offer to go to BEA next year. It'd be tons of fun. (But probably not as much fun as KidlitCon.)

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    1. I want to go again before it moves from NYC!

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  11. I loved doing this panel with you and Melissa, Charlotte! And, indeed we have enough info to talk specifically about middle grade books and readers for several KidLitCons to come.

    It was me talking about Middle Readers - Careful Content as that's one tag which Barb Langridge gives on www.abookandahug.com so that librarian-reviewers can highlight books with interesting/mentally challenging content which precocious readers ages 8-10 can enjoy *without* running into teen situations and problems.

    Can't wait till next year's KidLitCon - being able to discuss kids/YA books with other enthusiastic, authentic (thank you, Cynthia Leitich Smith & Lee Wind for bringing this front and center) fans who love connecting books and readers.

    **Katy
    (getting ready to travel the Natchez Trace Parkway)

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    1. I went in and fixed that--sorry!

      (I went on a family road trip down that very parkway--I hope you enjoy it!)

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  12. Wonderful recap, Charlotte!! It was absolutely lovely hanging out with you and rooming with you this year. And I agree 100% with everything you've said here.

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  13. Wow, you got that ARC? Jealous. I'm in love with the cover alone.

    Great seeing you, as always!

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