#Fridayreads and The New Yorker

It’s #FridayReads with Albert Whitman Staffers!  Social Media Coordinator Danielle Perlin discusses her current reads:

For the past few years, I’ve received a new The New Yorker magazine weekly. As a features writer, I absolutely love diving into a new 10-page feature story. I’ve read so many obscure, intimate, upsetting, and electrifying stories from all over the world because of The New Yorker magazine staffers’ amazing work. I thought this week’s magazine cover in particular was extremely relevant to my job at Albert Whitman.

New Yorker

When I was scrolling through Nook deals from B&N one day, I came across a memoir, The Receptionist: An Education at The New Yorker. I knew at once that I’d be interested in purchasing it. The memoir, written by Janet Groth, discusses her 21-year tenure at The New Yorker as the receptionist on the eighth floor, beginning in 1957. Using flowery language throughout her memoir, Groth describes her personal relationships with writers, discusses “jealous wives checking on adulterous husbands … and was seduced, two-timed, and proposed to by a few of the magazine’s eccentric luminaries.”

The Receptionist

Although I haven’t finished it yet (I will soon!), I love the way it’s written. There’s so much depth to Groth’s writing, and you have to pay attention to each and every word to understand the full meaning of the sentence, the paragraph, and the chapter. The chapters don’t necessary flow together, but I don’t think they’re meant to, as each one lets the reader peak into Groth’s life and into the world of the late 1950s, the ’60s, and the ’70s.


My favorite part about Groth’s memoir, so far, is reading about how she took messages at The New Yorker and how people communicated back then. With all the technology we have now, and with peoples’ diminished attention spans, I just have to wonder if technology, and the distraction it causes, keeps us from perfecting our work — in Groth’s case, she challenged herself constantly to be a better writer. Groth’s classy attitude, honesty, and perseverance in attaining her goals is really empowering to me as a woman. Usually, when we hear about a woman in the ’50s, she was a housewife; at least, that’s the general portrayal. But Groth went to college, moved to New York City on her own accord, and eventually became a professor. I’m really looking forward to reading the rest of this memoir, and I’m grateful I decided to buy this book.

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Bullying Prevention Month: JACOB’S NEW DRESS

My wife, Sarah, and I were preparing to speak at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Berkeley about kids, gender, and our book, Jacob’s New Dress.

Reviewing our materials, we marveled at how far the world had come since our son, now twelve, first asked to wear a dress at age three. In nine years, gender non-conforming kids had gone from being publicly shamed to being featured in magazines, newspapers, and TV talk shows. Supportive feature articles had appeared in both The New York Times and The New Yorker. There were even gender non-conforming characters on mainstream television who weren’t caricatures or the butt of jokes. Change was happening at a pace we’d never imagined, a pace we could see.

jacobs new dress

We carried that enthusiasm into our talk. The audience was warm, thoughtful, and appreciative. We learned that the Unitarian Church has a comprehensive sex-ed program where they start teaching about gender diversity in kindergarten. “Look,” we thought, “more change for the good!” We knew there would always be educational work to be done, but sitting in that room, we could see the world had become a better place.

Then one woman spoke up, telling the group that her daughter had just been kicked out of preschool for dressing and acting like a boy. As she spoke, she tried not to cry. This was all new to her, and she didn’t know what to do. Was it true what people said, she asked, that her little girl was like this because she and her husband were too permissive? She’d read our book and decided she had to meet us. Maybe we would know the answer to her questions.

Unitarian Universalist Association

It was hard to breathe. We were sitting in a progressive church, in the liberal Bay Area, in the year 2014, celebrating incredible social change. And yet we just heard about a little girl who had been kicked out of preschool for…what? Pants? Baseball caps? Short hair?

Maybe the world hadn’t changed as much as we thought.

At home after the event, Sarah and I talked about the pain that woman and her family were going through. A kind of pain so common when a child has a gender difference. Yet it was still true that the world had changed an incredible amount in the last few years. We realized that this is very much the heart of our job: to hold both of these things as true, and to not lose sight of either of them. To remember the pain, because that’s why we wrote our book, and to remember the change, because that’s why we wrote it, too.

Sarah and I would like to thank Albert Whitman & Company for being brave, thoughtful, and forward-thinking–for publishing Jacob’s New Dress. A lot of kids, and a lot of parents, need a story about someone like them. They need to know they are OK being who they are.  And they need to know they are not alone.

-Ian & Sarah Hoffman

Sarah and Ian are the parents of a pink boy and a girl whose favorite color is yellow. Sarah writes for national magazines, newspapers, and radio, and speaks publicly about raising her gender-nonconforming son. Ian writes children’s books. You can find them through their website, Facebook, and Twitter.

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Another #FridayReads with AW&Co Staffers!

It’s #FridayReads with Albert Whitman Staffers!  Today, metadata master and sales team all-star Caity Anast talks about her current reads:

I laughed when I read Annette’s post, because I too went through a period of very little “fun-for-me” reading when my children were babies (What to Expect the First Year doesn’t count as fun).

I nodded my head as I read Wendy’s post, because although I am not keeping track of books I’ve read on Goodreads, I do have my own personal list that I have kept since high school. It started with a pamphlet my freshman year English teacher passed out called “Excellence in English: The Honors English Program, York Community High School” that listed the core and supplemental readings by grade level. (A shout out to those great English teachers at York.) I highlighted the titles as I read them, and my goal was to read all the titles in the pamphlet.

high school pamphlet

(The ACTUAL pamphlet…I still have it…)

But I reassessed that goal after picking up Moby Dick for fun. I just couldn’t get through it. I mean how many times do you have to describe the whale? I get it, it’s big. I suppose if I read it for English class and had someone to discuss it with, I would have found it more interesting. But instead, I put it down and never finished it. That was the first time I had ever done that. I always felt it was my duty to finish a book. After that, I decided I didn’t have to read every book on that list, but I could refer to it from time to time.

The latest book I am reading is a recommendation from my dad, Bellweather Rhapsody by Kate Racculia. I’m not very far along into the book, but the setting is the Bellweather Hotel where a murder-suicide happened fifteen years ago in room 712. Now the hotel is host to Statewide, a high school music festival. So far I’ve been introduced to Alice and Rabbit Hatmaker, twins who are participating in the festival, and their chaperone and teacher, Natalie, who happens to be a former student of Viola Fabian, Statewide’s chairperson and mother of Jill, the best flautist in the state. It’s received three starred reviews, so it’s bound to be good. Booklist says, “Encore, encore.”


At the same time I am listening to an audio book in the car. I find this is a great time to catch up on what my kids are reading. It’s also a great way to find out the proper pronunciation of a character’s name. I am in the middle of because of mr. terupt (tear upt, not tur upt as I thought) by Rob Buyea. It’s a great story about a fifth grade class and their new teacher. Each chapter is told from the point of view of one of seven children in the class. You’ve got your brain, outcast, loner, mean girl, prankster, fat girl, and the new girl. I honestly can’t wait to get in my car each day to see what’s going to happen next.


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#FridayReads with Albert Whitman Staff …Plus StarWarsReadsDay!

It’s #FridayReads with Albert Whitman Staffers!  Today Senior Editor Wendy McClure talks about her current reads:

So I’m one of those nerds who does the reading challenge on Goodreads, where you set a reading goal for the year and log all your books. In the past years my goal has been around thirty books—not that many compared to some folks, but then I read a lot of manuscripts for my job, so if you count unpublished works or books in production, my stats are a lot higher. So high, in fact, that I decided I was totally WINNING at reading and decided to set my Goodreads goal for FORTY books this year. So here’s where I’m at now:


You guys, I don’t know if I’m going to make it to my goal.

Part of what got me behind is The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell, the most recent book I finished, because it’s 600 pages. But it’s one of the better 600-page books I’ve read. Then again, I don’t take on a book this long unless I’ve heard it’s good. And as it happened, my husband read it, and he made me read it too, partly because he wanted to talk to someone about it.


This is only the second David Mitchell novel that I’ve read—last year I read Black Swan Green, and I’ve been trying to gather the will to read Cloud Atlas (which is supposed to be a challenging read). How do I even begin to describe The Bone Clocks? Um, well, it begins in 1984 and ends in 2044. And it’s divided up into six sections. And there are immortal characters fighting a psychic war that has lasted for centuries. And since it’s 600 pages, you really do feel like you’ve been fighting a psychic war for centuries. IN A GOOD WAY, I mean. I really enjoyed it. It just came out, so you’re probably reading all about it right now anyway. (And hey! Here’s an excerpt.) I won’t give anything away except to say that I really hope the real 2044 is better than the one in the book (spoiler alert: it’ll make you want to hoard batteries).

Another fun thing about The Bone Clocks: my husband won the advanced reader copy in a bookstore raffle, so we both got to feel like the cool kids on the block for getting to read it early. And this is one of the first times I’ve read an ARC and found out that there are some significant differences in the final version: apparently David Mitchell loves to put characters from his previous books in cameo roles in other books. Several of them made an appearance in The Bone Clocks, but Mitchell changed his mind at the last minute and took out a few of them in the final version.  As an editor, I know of course that this can happen, but it was fascinating to find out about it from a reader’s standpoint.

So, what do you read next after reading a 600-page book about the future?


Book 3 in a totally addictive YA trilogy!  Ashes to Ashes by Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian is now on deck. This is the follow-up to the novels Burn for Burn and Fire with Fire (which of course I’ve read), about three girls who find they’ve been wronged by the same people and enter into a revenge pact to bring them down. PSYCHIC WAR, INDEED. I can’t wait.


And here’s a little bonus link in honor of #StarWarsReadsDay tomorrow—my favorite story ever about books and Star Wars: Darth Vader Made Me Cry, about a book signing with the Imperial Dark Lord. Seriously, read it.

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#FridayReads with Albert Whitman Staff

It’s #FridayReads with Albert Whitman Staffers!  Today our Marketing Manager, Annette Hobbs Magier, is filling us in on what she’s currently reading:

As I thought about what I was going to post this week for #FridayReads, I found myself getting a little depressed.  I used to read A LOT.  Like, all the time and everything—NYTimes best sellers, classics for the second or third time, YA novels, middle grade (my fave!), graphic novels, you name it.  I even used to be in a few book clubs at once!  Then, about 2 years ago, I had a baby and, well, reading for pleasure kind of went down the toilet.  There was a period of time where the thought of reading was so exhausting, that I even stopped picking up ARCs at trade shows.

But then, my baby turned a corner.  She started paying attention to the actual words in her little board books and before I knew it, she was finishing the stanzas in Jamberry and The Little Blue Truck as I read each page.


Now, on the cusp of her 2nd birthday, she’s finally able to sit through an entire picture book without trying to chew the corners or tear the pages into oblivion (thank goodness because somehow my signed copies of Kevin Henke’s Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse and A Good Day have made it into her regular rotation!) AND she’s actually paying attention to the story.

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So, what are we reading in the Hobbs Magier household these days?  Every single night for the last three weeks we’ve read Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak.  She requests it every single night.  Her favorite part is when Max shouts, “Be still!” at the Wild Things and tames them with the trick of staring into their yellow eyes.  I love the way she shouts, “Be still!” when we get to that page (and sometimes she shouts “Be still!” while she’s eating her dinner or playing with her toys, which is always a little hilarious and strange).


Our other selections usually rotate between Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse, The Hello, Goodbye Window, and The Ghosts Go Haunting.  And you know what? It’s not depressing at all—it’s awesome! I feel like I’m starting my reading journey all over again with fresh eyes. I can’t wait to break into the Roald Dahl collection with her!

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Colleen Gleason remembers distinct, family-oriented images from The Boxcar Children

In light of the new animated film, “The Boxcar Children,” our author series continues with author Colleen Gleason, who read The Boxcar Children, by Gertrude Chandler Warner, as a child. The film features voice actors Joey King, Mackenzie Foy, Zachary Gordon, and Jaden Sand; directors include Daniel Chuba and Mark A. Z. Dippé. It’s now available at local retailers!

Boxcar DVD cover

Gleason remembers the first time her librarian handed her a Boxcar Children book:

It was the first in the series, and I dove right in, completely enchanted with—and worried for—the four homeless children. I loved their sense of family, these four parentless children, and found the creativity and ingenuity of the Alden siblings compelling.

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These reactions continued as I read the whole series—many of the books multiple times. My very favorite was Blue Bay Mystery. There was something so fun about the four of them going to a South Seas island with their grandfather and Lars, the kindly shipwrecked sailor. I loved the environment of the island—and what we learned about everything from plankton to some basic survival skills to the statues of Easter Island.

To this day, whenever I think of The Boxcar Children, the first image that comes to mind is the pink cup in their comfy little boxcar, followed closely by the sunny, warm tropics of Blue Bay and the mysterious stranger on their little island. Sleeping in huts, picking bananas, swimming in Green Bay, and, of course, soup in the turtle shell.

The Boxcar Children were a part of my young reading life, and not only were the books filled with interesting mysteries, but I also felt as if the family of four really existed, really cared about each other, and would always be together.


Colleen Gleason’s The Spiritglass Charade: A Stoker & Holmes Book is out now!  Connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, or through her website.

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#FridayReads with Albert Whitman Staff

It’s the perfect storm! #Fridayreads and #BannedBooksWeek. You know all of us at Albert Whitman love books. Publishing them and reading them. Going forward, every #FridayReads we’re going to have one of our staffers talk about a book they’re currently reading. Today, we start off with our Director of Sales and Marketing Mike Spradlin:

I kind of chuckle to myself that ALA reports ever increasing challenges of comics and graphic novels in the last few years. Growing up, if it wasn’t for comics, I know I wouldn’t be the reader I am today. I read all of them I could get my hands on, and still do to this day. Right now I’m enjoying the Fables graphic novels by Bill Willingham, James Jean and Alex Maleev.


The story takes place in a contemporary world, where all of the characters from classic fables and fairy tales have been driven from their world, and forced to live among mankind. Many of them like Snow White and her ex-husband Prince Charming can pass as human, but many such, as the three little pigs, must keep to the shadows. All the ‘fables’ want is to unite and remove a mysterious, malevolent evil from their homelands that drove them into our world in the first place. But much like human beings, factions develop, trust issues abound and they find that even with a common enemy uniting is harder than first thought. It’s a great story, with terrific art and I highly recommend it.

Happy Friday and Happy Reading!

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Karen Hawkins’ magical adventure with The Boxcar Children

The first animated DVD of The Boxcar Children by Gertrude Chandler Warner, the first book in the series, is now on sale wherever DVDs are sold! The film features voice actors Joey KingMackenzie Foy, Zachary Gordon, and Jaden Sand.  Directors include Daniel Chuba and Mark A. Z. Dippé.

Boxcar DVD cover

New York Times best-selling author Karen Hawkins writes how The Boxcar Children series is magical:

I’ve been a reader from the day I could hold a book. My mother encouraged reading by filling every bookshelf in our house with books she’d gathered from library sales and bookstore bins, both new and used. And it was on one of her packed bookshelves that I found my first Boxcar Children book.

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It was a difficult time for me, as we’d just moved, and I was struggling to find friends in a small school where everyone already had a best friend. Reading was my escape from the awkwardness of being the new girl, and from the moment I opened the first page of the first Boxcar Children book, I fell madly, wildly, and crazily in love with the series. In a few weeks’ time, I’d read every single one and would reread them over and over.

There were so many things I loved about the Boxcar Children—the mystery of each story, the family interactions, the way they faced adversity together—all of it spoke to me. To this day, whenever I see a Boxcar Children book on a shelf, I smile. I smile even more when I see the books in the hands of my children. And one day, I hope to see those books in the hands of their children, too.

It takes a special series to last through generations of readers, and yet the Boxcar Children series has done just that. There is magic in those pages. Magic that lasts.

Karen will be doing a Boxcar DVD giveaway—like her on Facebook or follow her on Twitter for a chance to win a copy!  And be sure to pick up her new book THE PRINCE WHO LOVED ME on sale SEPTEMBER 23!  Visit her website for more information. 

Out September 23!

Available September 23!

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Susan Elizabeth Phillips’ thoughts on reading The Boxcar Children

The Boxcar Children by Gertrude Chandler Warner, the first book in the series, has come to life in the animated film, “The Boxcar Children,” with voice actors Joey King, Mackenzie Foy, Zachary Gordon, and Jaden Sand.  Directors include Daniel Chuba and Mark A. Z. Dippé. It’s now on sale wherever DVDs are sold!

Boxcar DVD cover

Susan Elizabeth Phillips, a New York Times Bestselling author of over twenty novels, writes about how reading The Boxcar Children as a young girl helped shape her love of reading for pleasure:

The Boxcar Children is the book that changed my life. An exaggeration? Nope. Cross my heart. I was seven years old and in second grade. Learning to read had been a terrible struggle for me, and my seven-year-old brain could not comprehend reading for pleasure. And then Mrs. Martin began reading The Boxcar Children to the class at the end of each school day.

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I was enraptured with the story from the first page, and to this day, I remember the sick feeling in my stomach when the school bell rang, and Mrs. Martin closed the book—the story UNFINISHED. Then, the agonizing wait through the next day for the magical moment—would it ever arrive?—when she would open the book again.

After that introduction, how could I not beg my mother—not that it took much begging—to take me to the library to get Surprise Island. And then The Yellow House Mystery. My lifelong love of reading had begun.


Phillips’ newest book Heroes Are My Weakness is on sale everywhere that books are sold beginning on August 26th. You can visit her website; follow her on Twitter, and like her Facebook page.

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Hilary McKay Lulu Blog Tour



Hilary McKayThe Lulu books have arrived in the United States and Canada with a blast! Thanks to five starred reviews and a number of best book lists — including ALSC’s Notable Children’s Books – Lulu and the Duck in the Park has captured the hearts of kids everywhere. Lulu and the Dog from the Sea is now available here as well. Author Hilary McKay is touring North America via her office at home in England. Please join her travels as she answers questions and muses on a variety of topics from eyeglasses to beaches.

Blog Tour Stops

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Monday, March 25, 2013
Guest post and giveaway

Tuesday, March 26, 2013
Guest post and giveaway

Wednesday, March 27, 2013
Interview and giveaway

Thursday, March 28, 2013
Review and giveaway

Friday, March 29, 2013

Saturday, March 30, 2013
Interview and giveaway

Sunday, March 31, 2013
Guest post and giveaway

Tuesday, April 02, 2013
Interview and giveaway

Wednesday, April 03, 2013
Guest post and giveaway

Thursday, April 04, 2013
Interview and giveaway

Friday, April 05, 2013
Interview and giveaway

Saturday, April 06, 2013
Guest post and giveaway

Sunday, April 07, 2013
Interview and giveaway

Monday, April 08, 2013
Guest post and giveaway

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