Friday, March 22, 2013

MARCH NEWS!

HAPPY SPRING FROM THE TEXAS SWEEETHEARTS & SCOUNDRELS!


Bluebonnets are blooming, birds are building their nests, and The Texas Sweethearts & Scoundrels have a case of spring fever with so much good news blossoming and many fun events to look forward to!

 Bluebonnet

While time seems to be zooming by like the hail in a recent thunderstorm, many of us are still scheduling school and library visits, as well as festival and event appearances. Please don't hesitate to contact us.
  
The Sweethearts are Region 13 Bound!  
  
 
  

The Texas Sweethearts & Scoundrels will be at the Region 13 Hill Country Library and Literacy Summit and it's sure to be a great pre-TLA event. We look forward to seeing many of you there!
  

Stay tuned for our upcoming TLA and IRA plans!

 
NEWS & UPDATES
  
  
 
GRAND PRAIRIE LIBRARY EVENT
On March 10, Jeanette Larson, Jessica Lee Anderson, K.A. Holt and PJ Hoover ventured deep in the heart of Texas to visit the Betty Warmack Branch Library in Grand Prairie for a fun celebration of children's and teen literature.

Grand Prairie Event
From left to right:  past Featured Sweetheart Karen Jensen, local author and friend, Krissi Dallas, Jessica Lee Anderson, K.A. Holt, and Jeanette Larson.
  
P.J. Hoover and Karen Jensen
  P.J. Hoover and Karen Jensen
  
  
SCBWI 
In late-February, the Austin SCBWI held their annual conference with an amazing faculty lineup.
  
At the conference, K.A. Holt was able to connect with two of her editors, Tamra Tuller (editor of a forthcoming middle grade novel) and Neal Porter (editor of BRAINS FOR LUNCH). 
  
  Tamra Tuller, K.A. Holt, Neal Porter
  
We think nothing says Texas hospitality quite like a  swag bag featuring Girl Scout cookies for the faculty members.  Yum!
  
  Swag Bag

 
SWEETHEART NEWS
Jessica Lee Anderson 
had a blast recently visiting Fulmore Middle School and spending time talking with librarian extraordinaire, Jo Patrick. She'll be concluding her first year of teaching a graduate children's literature writing course at St. Edward's University soon and couldn't be more proud of her students!


P. J. Hoover is thrilled to announce that Hungarian Rights for her middle grade trilogy beginning with The Emerald Tablet have sold to Fonix. Nogicals Rule!


P. J. also had a blast presenting "My Life as Hercules" (her hero's journey presentation) at the Westbranch location of the Austin Public Library over Spring Break.


Don Tate thanks the Texas Book Festival, University of Texas Pan American, FESTIVA, and H-E-B stores, for allowing him to put nearly 600 copies of his books in the hands of kids who might not otherwise own any.

 
  
We're beyond thrilled to announce Don is the recipient of an Ezra Jack Keats New Writers Honor! He will accept his award next month at the Fay B. Kaigler Children's Book Festival (http://www.usm.edu/childrens-book-festival).
    
Jeanette Larson will be a featured author at the Book and Author Luncheon benefiting New Braunfels Public Library Foundation on Thursday, April 18th. Tickets are available through the library, http://www.nbtexas.org.

Hummingbirds: Facts and Folklore from the Americas was selected as the featured book for a Pflugerville Pfamily Book Club. Jeanette will meet with parents and kids to talk about writing the book, pourquoi stories, and birding on April 9.
 
K.A. Holt has been enjoying visiting elementary and middle schools across central Texas, and is looking forward to more school visits in April. If there's anything she learns from visiting so many students it's that kids are the best zombie haiku poets in the world!
  
    
Many thanks to the talented Emma Virj√°n for her beautiful graphic designs!  Don't miss the opportunity to check out her newest illustrations: www.emmavirjan.com
  
  
You can read about our latest Featured Sweethearts who are making a different in their communities, Laura Stiles, here, and Renee DeHoyos, here.
Please stop by the blog and read about the amazing things they have to say about the world of kidlit! 

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

FEATURED SWEETHEART: Laura Stiles

Hi, P. J. Hoover here, and today I am so happy to feature Laura Stiles who is not only the librarian at our middle school but was also just selected by her colleagues as Teacher of the Year. Congratulations, Laura! We are honored that you are here with us today!

*****



TxSandS: Can you tell us a little bit about yourself, what you do, and who or what inspires you?

LauraS: I'm a reader, a baker and an exerciser. I love to read and bake - I exercise only because I love to eat! I'm not a natural athlete but I do it, anyway. My husband is a lieutenant with the Austin Fire Department and we have one daughter, Emma, who is in 7th grade. I love that she attends the school where I am the librarian (Canyon Vista Middle School) but you'd have to ask her if she loves that...

I'm inspired by my family. My mother worked with the Civil Rights Movement in Atlanta in the 1960s and has been advocating for social justice ever since. My stepfather started the Opportunity Center for the Homeless in El Paso in the 1990s and continues, at age 76, to chair the Social Justice committee at his church. My brother, like my husband, is with the Austin Fire Department. I'm proud to be from a family of helpers.


TxSandS: What were your goals when you first started working with kids and books, and how has that vision changed now that some time has gone by?

LauraS: My goal when I started as a librarian, in 2000, was to get every kid to love reading. That vision has changed soooooo much! My goal now is to make every kid feel like they belong in the library - especially non readers! I've found that by doing unexpected things in the library - serving hot chocolate, hosting a chocolate fountain, lots of contests and puzzles - kids find the library a fun place to be. Some of those kids who don't love to read learn to love it. And, others don't learn to love it, but they still have a safe, academic environment where they feel they belong.


TxSandS: What has been the biggest surprise since you've entered the world of books for kids and teens?

LauraS: The world of YA lit has totally changed since I was a teen. The term "YA" didn't even exist in terms of literature back then! The current generation of kids and teens get books on every possible subject. I so loved Judy Blume when I was in middle school - I read and reread her books because I didn't see much else out there for me. Now, there's a seemingly endless supply of books for teens. I love that there are books about happy teens, hurt teens, teens of every ethnicity and income bracket and home life, etc. I truly believe there is a book - or many books - for every single kid out there.


TxSandS: How do you see reading changing for teens in the next couple years? What challenges do you see? And what can we do to help?

LauraS: About once a week someone asks me, "Are you worried about the shift to electronic reading? Aren’t you worried for your job?!" I love that kids can read electronically; I think it may make readers out of kids that might not read otherwise. That said, I like the feel of a book - the actual turning of pages is a joy to me.

Challenges...yikes. The fact that some states have gotten rid of school librarians or closed school libraries all together is completely frightening. I love the reading aspect of my job but I spend more than half my professional time teaching and researching. School librarians are teachers!

It astounds me to think that some people think school libraries are negotiable. They're not, and I'm so thankful to work in a school district that recognizes the value of the library.

Sweethearts and Scoundrels alike can point to the multiple state studies that have proven that quality school libraries directly impact student achievement. I'm more of the emotional/feeling type of person that appreciates school libraries that are inclusive to every kid, but testing matters when money is an issue, and the results of these studies give us the unequivocal data to prove that quality libraries positively affect test scores: http://www.lrs.org/data-tools/school-libraries/impact-studies/


TxSandS: Would you consider yourself a Sweetheart or a Scoundrel?

LauraS: A little bit of both. Hopefully people see me as more of a Sweetheart, but I'd bet my husband might label me as a Scoundrel...I like a little bit of trouble now and then!


TxSandS: Thank you again, Laura, for being here and for all you do!


*****

BIO:

Laura Leonard Stiles grew up in El Paso and graduated from The University of Texas at El Paso in 1991 with a degree in Literature. She worked in the high technology industry in Austin for several years until following her calling by becoming a middle school librarian. Laura graduated from The University of Texas at Austin with a Masters degree in Library and Information Science and has worked as a librarian in the Round Rock Independent School District since 2000. She lives in Northwest Austin with her husband, daughter and maniacal dog, Arlo.

*****

If you know of someone who would make a great Featured Sweetheart, please let us know! The best part? If you nominate someone, we'll send you a $5 Starbucks gift card :)

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

FEATURED SWEETHEART: Renee DeHoyos

Hi, P. J. Hoover here, and I am so happy to feature Renee DeHoyos today, a fabulous librarian who does so much for her school kids!

Thank you so much for being here, Renee!

*****


TxSandS: Can you tell us a little bit about yourself, what you do, and who or what inspires you?

ReneeDH: I am the new librarian at Taylor Middle School. I moved to Taylor MS from the Houston area.

Since arriving, I have been getting to know the kids, faculty, curriculum and collection. Weeding was priority one, so we would make the collection work for us.

I feel inspired when students ask for a particular book. I love they have preferences. It is especially rewarding when they want a sequel to something I recommended.


Renee 1 and 2


TxSandS: What were your goals when you first started working with kids and books, and how has that vision changed now that some time has gone by?

ReneeDH: I began my career teaching students in a self-contained class. While doing that, my goal was to teach a love of learning be it through reading, writing, math, science. I tried to find the students gifts and teach them how they could use that to their advantage. We were a Learning Styles district in Bryan, so that was helpful.

After teaching 3rd and 4th grade, I moved to teaching ELA at the middle school. The advantage of that was I could focus on teaching students to love literature by finding a connection between them and the stories we read. I also got to teach writing!

Upon becoming a librarian, I was back with the younger grades. In a grade 2-5 school, I integrated books and activities that extended or enriched the classroom learning. Usually we did things like readers theatre, short science experiments or other curriculum needs in library time.

Years later, back at the middle school level, I was the information literacy specialist. I integrated research techniques and technology for the campus. My love at GCCISD was history fair. I loved the year-long, in-depth process of learning about a history theme. The kids became so advanced after 3 years of competition. It was a joy to watch their growth.

In Taylor, the technology in the district is at an early stage. I am glad to be on the ground floor of the decision making for that. I am hoping that as we roll out new technologies, the students will have more exposure to real research, primary sources, and student generated topics and culminating activities.

Sweetheart P. J. Hoover with Renee


TxSandS: What has been the biggest surprise since you've entered the world of books for kids and teens?

ReneeDH: It is surprising that they want to read books about someone dead. I always enjoyed sci-fi. Having a dead person in those was not a requirement; more a by-product.



TxSandS: How do you see reading changing for teens in the next couple years? What challenges do you see? And what can we do to help?

ReneeDH: With teens now and in the future, they want YA material in an elementary length novel. It is a special challenge to find topics they want in a book that is short enough. When we do find those books for them, the literary value is missing.

So I guess writers need to produce a gritty topic in a short piece of literature. A tough order.



TxSandS: Would you consider yourself a Sweetheart or a Scoundrel?

ReneeDH: I am a sweetheart that is a scoundrel wanna-be!



TxSandS: Thank you so much for being here!


*****

If you know of someone who would make a great Featured Sweetheart, please let us know! The best part? If you nominate someone, we'll send you a $5 Starbucks gift card :)