Flash Fiction: a complete story
in one thousand or fewer words.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Tikatok is a print-on-demand web site for kids, now owned by Barnes & Noble. The site has easy templates for creating a book with text and pictures. For those looking for help finding an idea, Tikatok has some "worlds" (StorySparks), to help generate ideas, such as animals and bugs, holidays and vacations, princesses and fairy tales, and school and family. They're also associated with Build-a-Bear, so children can write stories for that setting (although Build-A-Bear owns the copyright to those stories).

Children will need parents to set up the accounts for parent and child, and decide if the site is safe. From other sources, I believe (but am not certain), that parents will be notified by email of their children's actions. Once a book is created, it can be published in hardbound (starts at $18), softbound (starts at $15) and PDF formats ($3).

The web site could be more open with information. "Starts at $18" for hardcover books refers to additional costs, depending on the page count. The additional cost is not explained, except, presumably, once you start the publishing phase. There's little information about the control that the parent has on the process. One would hope that Barnes & Noble has or will vet this service closely.

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Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Battle of the Kids' Book--School Library Journal

Panels for the "School Library Journal" Battle of the Kids' Books selected sixteen books and narrowed the choices to two. Finally, Lois Lowry, an icon in children's publishing, selected the winner. The finalists were:

  • The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation, Vol. II The Kingdom on the Waves, by M. T. Anderson (Candlewick): Gothic historical fiction set in U.S. revolutionary war period. Here, from the publisher's web site, is an excerpt from the first chapter.

Lois Lowry's comments about her process of choosing the finalist were amusing, involving petulance, reverse nepotism, vengeance and payola.

BONUS! Here are some astounding NASA/Hubble images (requires Adobe Flash).

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Friday, April 3, 2009

Changing Face of Children's Publishing

In this Publishers Weekly article, Rachel Deahl looks at HarperCollins' The Amanda Project. Lately, multimedia delivery to children has become a norm and perhaps a necessity for survival. The Amanda Project is an ambitious effort to press that idea forward:

And, whether the Amanda Project fails or succeeds, its existence speaks to the fast-changing face of children's publishing. Kids, more so than adults, are ready for books delivered on a multitude of platforms, willing to follow stories that begin in print and wend their way onto computer screens and various handheld devices. This makes for both an exciting and anxious moment in children's publishing, as longtime progenitors of print and ink tales are trying to figure out how to present content, and a reading experience, in a wholly different way.

The article gives some insight to the production model used. It is encouraging that they still believe that a project must begin with a proper story.

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Sunday, March 29, 2009

Why Toddlers Don't Do What They're Told

So you tell the little br--, um, little guy or little gal to do something, only to be ignored. Sound familiar? Experience and cognitive research tells you toddlers don't always obey adults as they should. However, new research shows that toddlers are not just short adults.

The pupil measurements showed that 3-year-olds neither plan for the future nor live completely in the present. Instead, they call up the past as they need it.

To use the example in the article: you may think that telling the toddler to go get a coat because it is cold outside. The toddler will both obey and learn from this, right? Not exactly. The toddler more likely will go outside into the cold and only then remember your advice, and then might go inside to get the recalled remedy to the cold.

What has this to do with writing fantasy or science fiction (or syfy)? Perhaps toddlers are different enough creatures that they may be considered other-folk or space aliens. They are an object lesson in avoiding the fallacies of writing about fantasy creatures or aliens as if they were human. (No offense. Writers are all from Lake Wobegon, where all children are above average.)

Back to Earth: the article author did give an example of what to say to the toddler rather than repeating the command to get to coat. However, the suggested text seems to exceed the attention span of most toddlers, IMHO:

I know you don't want to take your coat now, but when you're standing in the yard shivering later, remember that you can get your coat from your bedroom.

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Saturday, March 28, 2009

Leading Children's Book in 2009, S. Meyers' Deep Run

The bestselling children's book of 2009, so far, is Stephanie Meyer's Deep Run (even though she can't write).

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Sunday, February 1, 2009

Click and Jane: Book and eBook the Same?

Via the NYT, is a dusty book and an on-screen eBook graphically blinged up to look like a book the same? Ask a three-year-old: no. And some studies back him or her up. There is no substitute for Mommy or Daddy reading to their child...or even simply having books in the house.

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