Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Congrats to Featured Sweethearts Jill Bellomy and Pamela Thompson!

Congrats are in order for two of our past Featured Sweethearts,  
Jill Bellomy and Pamela Thompson!  

At the recent TLA annual conference,
Jill won the 2012 Middle School Blog of the Year Award and
Pamela won the 2012 High School Blog of the Year Award.
How cool is this?  We're so proud of these rock stars!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012


Emma Virjan here! 

It is my pleasure to introduce you to our next Featured Sweetheart, Cari Young. Cari is a librarian in San Antonio and has this to say about who she is and what she does: My name is Cari Young, and I am delighted to be starting my SECOND year as the librarian at Fox Run Elementary School!

I grew up all over the United States as an Air Force brat. I went to college at Texas Tech University, law school at Cornell, and library school at Texas Woman's University. I've been a librarian in Comanche, Georgetown, and Levelland before arriving in San Antonio in the summer of 2010.

I have three sons. My oldest son graduated in August 2011 from Texas Tech University (go Red Raiders!). My middle son works as a landscaper in Austin. My youngest son lives in Plains with his dad and plays guitar, basketball, baseball, and golf.

I'm on the Texas Bluebonnet Award Committee through 2013. I LOVE to read, and I LOVE to learn new things, all the time!


TXS&S: What first interested you in becoming a librarian? 

CARI: I've always loved to read (at least, it seems like always). I've often been frustrated by librarians who seemed to think the books belonged to them, instead of to all of us. I became a librarian so that I could be a different kind of librarian, one who loves to share the books, not to protect them.

TXS&S: The role of the school library has changed over the years and now, more than ever, incorporates the use of technological advances. 

CARI: How big a role does technology play in your day-to-day role as a librarian? Technology plays a huge part in my day-to-day works. When we have a power outage, I have a hard time thinking of tasks I can do without a computer! The library circulation and inventory system is computerized, of course. I use technology in most of the lessons I present to our students, from video book trailers to online citation makers for research. A big part of my job is to help students learn to evaluate the flood of online information that they will face in their lifetime.

TXS&S: One of the tabs on the Fox Run Elementary web site is labeled "Scholars." Can you share with us the concept behind that? 

CARI: I've found that (contrary to popular belief), there are many students who want to learn beyond the school day. They hunger for more knowledge. I started the Scholars page to guide those students to websites that will challenge them, in a safe environment for elementary school students. I have not introduced it to classes, but the students I intend it for tend to find it on their own, interestingly enough.

TXS&S: How important is it to include/involve the community in what school libraries are doing? 

CARI: It is definitely important to involve the community in what the school library is doing. I'm not sure that I have done this well at all. I have partnered with the local public library to obtain library cards for our students. But I am kept so busy with the customers (students, teachers, and administrators) who are right in front of me on a daily basis, that I forget to reach out to community members who could help us.

TXS&S: What do you do when you're not busy being Library Extraordinaire at Fox Run Elementary? 

CARI: When I'm not busy being a librarian, I spend a lot of time reading and thinking of learning activities for our library. I've also written a book for librarians that was just published by Upstart, and I'm getting started on some more writing projects. Writing seems like a natural extension of the reading and learning environment that I'm in all day long.

TXS&S: Would your friends and colleagues consider you a Sweetheart or a Scoundrel? 

CARI: My friends and colleagues would probably consider me a Sweetheart. It's difficult to fluster me or make me angry, even with all of the last-minute or challenging requests I get every day. I smile and laugh all day long, because I love what I'm doing.

TXS&S: Thanks so much for your time, Cari.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

On how I got 'dorked' at TLA (Texas Library Association)

My time at TLA (Texas Librarian Association) was short and sweet this year. Typically I like to spend a few days with the librarians. But this year, with my book deadlines, I had to get in and out and back to Austin.

(Pictured left: Me with one of my favorite librarian friends, Ms. Painter)

I missed our Texas Sweethearts & Scoundrels reception on Wednesday. I left in plenty of time to be there, but I had a rental car snafu that put me into Houston 2 hours later than planned. I ended that evening having dinner with my friend and future collaborator Chris Barton, and a librarian friend.

On Thursday I delivered a keynote presentation at the Black Caucus Round Table Breakfast. And guess what, they truly do eat breakfast at round tables! (As seen above.) My presentation lasted about 20 minutes, and I sure had a lot of fun delivering it. I shared the stage with DORK DIARIES creators Rachel Renee Russell and Nikki Russell (who illustrates the books). During their keynote, Nikki “dorked” me out, creating a cartoon of me in their signature stick-man style (below). DORK DIARIES is a family affair. Nikki Russell is the daughter of Rachell Russell, and there was even talk about bringing on a second daughter to help in the book business. Really nice people, I enjoyed my time with them.

In the above photo, Nikki Russell sketches a picture of me. Funny thing is, I took the picture because it was cool watching her draw. I had no idea she was drawing me. As she sat there, she probably thought, "Sit down, man, and put the camera away, so I can finish drawing you."

And then they presented the drawing to me and other audience members that Nikki had 'dorked.' As Nikki said, "It's cool to be a dork." Sure is!

Immediately following the keynotes, I signed DUKE ELLINGTON’S NUTCRACKER SUITE with Charlesbridge. Wasn’t a huge signing, but there was a steady trail of librarians and friends who dropped in to visit with me. Austin’s writing community is so supportive.

The photo above, compliments of author Greg Neri, was taken at an evening reception.

That afternoon I participated in a panel discussion entitled BOOKS, BOYS, AND BOXING: MOTIVATING BOYS TO READ. Panelist included authors Greg Neri, Charles R. Smith, Mat Johnson, Joseph Anthony Rivers. This was such a distinguished panel. Folks often kick around the word ‘humbled,” so much that it loses it’s meaning. But with this group, I. WAS. TRULY. HUMBLED. As defined: Lower in dignity or importance. These guys, their comments and discussion was smart, articulate, inspiring, well-informed. Me, not so much. But it was still an honor to be included.

That evening the Black Caucus held a reception for us authors. It was elegant and we were treated like royalty. Thank you Black Caucus Roundtable.

I ended the evening sharing dinner with author Charles R. Smith Jr. at the House of Blues.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Party Time for Don Tate!

Congrats to Don Tate on the release of IT JES' HAPPENED (Lee & Low Books, illustrated by R. Gregory Christie)! Don Tate is an award winning illustrator of many beautiful books, and he can now add award winning author to his growing list of accolades. IT JES' HAPPENED won Lee & Low's New Voices Award Honor and has been receiving much acclaim including a starred review from Kirkus and a fab review in Publisher's Weekly.
We're so proud of you, Don!

Monday, April 9, 2012


Spring Greetings from


seven authors & illustrators who write for kids and teens

Spring has officially sprung and the season brings not only beautiful roadside wildflowers, but all sorts of exciting news from The Texas Sweethearts and Scoundrels!

Come Say Hello!

The Texas Sweethearts & Scoundrels will be at TLA 2012!

Please join us for our annual librarian reception!

When: Wednesday, April 18th, 4:00-5:00
Where: Booth 2629
What: Yummy treats for that late afternoon pick-me-up

In addition to our reception, The Texas Sweethearts & Scoundrels have a bunch of fun events planned.

12:00-2:00 - YART Tea - Jessica Lee Anderson and
P. J. Hoover

4:00-5:00 - Texas Sweethearts & Scoundrels Reception -
Booth 2629

pre-exhibits - Black Caucus Breakfast - Don Tate

10:00-11:50 - Colorful Crimes: Diverse Characters in Mysteries - Jeanette Larson

11:00-11:30 - TT4L Teen Event - Jessica Lee Anderson and
P. J. Hoover

2:00-3:00 - Jeanette Larson signing at Charlesbridge

2:00-3:50 - Books, Boys, and Boxing: Motivating Minority Males
to Read - Don Tate

We hope to see you there, and please come by and say hello!


On March 31, 2012, Sweethearts P. J. Hoover and Jo Whittemore were honored to be featured as two of the Top Ten Haute Authors at the Friends of the SMU Libraries Tables of Content Fundraising Event. In attendance was former First Lady Laura Bush, and the annual Literati Award was presented to Marshall Terry. Details on the event can be found here, and an event report with more pictures can be found here.

Into mysteries? While at TLA, you won't want to miss Sweetheart Jeanette Larson's talk about diversity in mysteries on a panel called Colorful Crimes on Thursday, April 19 at 10:00 a.m. In addition to her children's books, Jeanette is the author of Bringing Mysteries Alive for Children and Young Adults published by Linworth.

Jeanette will be signing Hummingbirds: Facts and Folklore from the Americas at the Charlesbridge booth 1305 from 2:00-3:00 on Thursday.

And on April 28, Jeanette is presenting a program on hummingbirds at the Clara B. Mounce Public Library, 201 E. 26th St., Bryan, TX at 11:00 a.m. The program is for the whole family so plan a visit to the Brazos Valley.

April 16 is the official release date for Scoundrel Don Tate's first authored book, It Jes' Happened: When Bill Traylor Started to Draw, illustrated by R. Gregory Christie.

The book has received a nice write-up on A Fuse 8, a starred review from Kirkus, critical acclaim from Publisher's Weekly and praises from the Horn Book, May/June issue

Don and Greg Christie will have a book signing on May 13th at the High Museum in Atlanta.

Check out the book trialer/teaser for It Jes' Happened: When Bill Traylor Started to Draw here and here.

Jo Whittemore wants to thank all the entries for her D is for Drama ARC giveaway and has randomly selected three winners:

Ginna Wimmer - Sommer Elementary
Ruth Ann Noe - Perryton Junior High
Deidra Ballard-Moore - Bessie Coleman Middle School

Congratulations, ladies!
Please email Jo here with your mailing address and she'll send your copies right away!

In the mood to boot scoot? Check out Nacho The Dog's video and listen to My Name is Nacho, written and recorded by Grammy award winning artist, and overall nice guy, Ray Benson. Watch the video and you'll see why Nacho is Nacho Ordinary Pup!

Interested in an author visit? Please contact us!

We're now booking for summer and next fall.

Nominate a Featured Sweetheart

like Leslie Rush and Jenny Flores Did
and you can win a Starbucks gift card.

Do you know someone who would make a great featured sweetheart for our blog? We're looking for librarians, teachers, authors, editors, anyone who has an impact on books, libraries, and/or getting kids to read.

If we choose the person you nominate, we'll give you a $5 Starbucks giftcard as a thank-you! Give us a holler today!

A HUGE Thank You to Leslie and Jenny for their featured Sweethearts nominations!