Posts Tagged ‘literature’

Put Down the Phone

07 Apr

I have to do it. I do.

I have a strange new addiction to watching videos in the evenings on my phone. Comics, beauty, organization. It’s like a visual, moving Pintrest of ideas and music and smiley faces. Games. And social media, memes … just flipping, flipping, flipping through … crap on the Internet.

It is quite the opposite of reading books. And I kind of miss those. Books.

I spend my days, quite naturally, reading. E-mails, manuscripts, proofs. Researching and fact checking. Often when I’m actually working on an actual story, I’m not “reading.” I’m editing. Or proofing, or looking something up in a style book …

The truth is, at the end of the day, cracking open a book, which used to feel like freedom, is often the last thing I want to do. Hence, the videos.

But I do miss it. I do like a time when I can read for reading sake, without taking an editorial eye to it. People who are not in the biz always make the assumption that editors will be quick to correct a person’s grammar when they’re speaking. This is simply not true. And not just because correcting someone’s grammar would make said editor seem like a pretentious a-hole. But because people talk how they talk, and verbal communication is very, very different from the written word.

Ergo, it’s so very difficult for me to take off an editorial hat when reading a book. Especially if it ain’t all that great. Know what I’m sayin’?

A great book, however, can totally bring out the writer in me. I find myself thinking and writing in the voices of characters I’m reading. I’m envious and appreciative of the actual writer, because they thought of this genius and I did not. I often find myself inspired and contemplative.

It’s what most often makes me put the phone down.

So it’s my goal, a new goal, to dive into a pretty good stash of books I’ve yet to read, and to start working them back in to my professional life. Another assumption of editors is that we are well read. And we are, up until the point where we start reading for money, and then the only thing we’re reading is our work. See the cycle?

So with this is my own pledge to start reading. And start reporting back. Stay tuned.


The Children’s Corner

15 Sep

I have read a lot of children’s literature. A lot. Once upon a time, when I worked with a big-name publisher, that was my job. Yes. My job was to get dressed up, go to an office (or a library) and read children’s books. All. Day. Long.

My eyes were very tired. Also, very dry hands. I didn’t read much for myself at night. But it was fun. SO FUN.

Now, as a children’s book editor, I am reading plenty of submissions and manuscripts and plenty of new and exciting new titles that are flying out and about. But occasionally we hit the library or the bookstore and find a gem that I have missed. A book that just really screams, “I need to be in your collection!”

So I’m starting a new column here for the ERE blog, a series of children’s book reviews that bring up not only great literature, but books that may have been passed up by our new generation of readers.

First up:

Front cover of Pete, feeling groovy.

Front cover of Pete, feeling groovy.

Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons

Art by James Dean (creator of Pete the Cat)

Story by Eric Litwin

Publisher: HarperCollins Children’s Books

ISBN: 978-0062110589


What’s In It

Like many of the Pete the Cat books, there’s lots of repetition, and a song this one about how much Pete likes his four groovy buttons. As Pete moves about his day—doing a little skateboarding, a little surfing, having some ice cream—one by one he loses all of his buttons. But, as the story goes, “Does Pete cry? Goodness, no! Buttons come and buttons go.” Pete keeps on singing his song about loving his groovy buttons.

Mom’s View

Frankly, Pete the Cat is just a hit at home. Both of my children (ages 5 and 2), are ob-sessed with this series. My eldest son, Max, started off his first week of Kindergarten using teaching materials based on Pete the Cat: I Love My White Shoes, and his teachers noted to me how much he was responding to it. So Four Groovy Buttons made its way into my Amazon cart.

I chose this particular title because I thought it would parallel the first book for Max, and it does immensely. He immediately began reading along, counting with me and repeating some of the refrains from the White Shoes book.

What surprised me also was how much little Andy loooooved this book. Since it entered the house “more kitty” is a pretty constant request. If he sees the book, or if Max and I already have been reading it, he wants in on the action.

I like the little incorporation of math. Each time Pete loses a button, the reader is asked how many are left, and then a little equation (4-1=3) is included. I also quite like the size of the product, which is about nine by eleven. It feels like a storybook you want to pick up and read.

Heads Up: When I first read this with Max, he picked up on the line “Does Pete cry?” which is in the White Shoes book as well. The response in that book is “No, no, no.” For some children with learning disorders and other challenges, repetition is a big thing. Particularly their designated repetition. However, he accepted the response of “Goodness, no!” and was able to go with it.

There are downloadable songs to go with this series, and subsequently, YouTube videos that include the entire story narrated and sung with images from the book. I quickly ditched the video after one viewing, for fear they would never want to read the actual book again!

Also, see my Editor’s Note.

Art Notes

It’s not my fav.


I know. But I’m an editor. I like clean lines. But, plenty of folks love this art style, and it does have a nice movement to it, like we could hop right over to a slow-motion animation version of Pete for Saturday morning TV. And it’s super bright and friendly and colorful, which is part of the reason my children were so attracted to it.

Editor’s Notes

Repetition is a key ingredient to early readers, and especially for books that are intended as a read-aloud from parent to child. I do appreciate the repetition, but because it’s Pete singing a song, and the song repeats so many words, this may pose a difficulty when reading aloud. You can choose whatever rhythm you like, but there is an actual rhythm to follow with the song. The idea is that you go download the song, which you can simply play on an electronic device. See my Heads Up as well.

Those four GROOVY buttons.

Those four GROOVY buttons.


An Open Letter to Kindle, for Book Lovers

07 Jun

Dear Kindle Marketing Team,

I liked you so much better when you were busy trashing the iPad, not trying to turn book lovers into silly, naive people that display weaker spines than those found in the books they read.

Truly, you are trying to convince non-Kindle users to come on over to the dark side by pitching: a. “Books don’t have glare, Kindles don’t have glare!” and b. Readers can do away with that pesky task of folding down a book’s page to save our place; an effort, apparently, we relish. Ugh.

Let’s discuss the bit about reading in bright light. The thing is, book lovers do not consider the concept of glare when reading books. It’s a non-issue. Trying to contrast a Kindle, a glare-free book-reading tool, to a book … a glare-free um, book … is ridiculous. It’s like saying that the Kindle, like a book, won’t slap you in the face while you read it. Or start your house on fire. Or steal your car keys. I get you’re trying to convince us to not buy the other guy’s e-reader, the one that does glare, but c’mon. You’re not fooling anybody.

And then, dear ad gurus, you try and sell the book lover on the Kindle by bringing up the pagefold=bookmark. *insert sigh*

Book lovers, true book lovers, do not fold down the pages of books. We do not rest an open book face down. We do not write in books, and when forced to write in books, say, in college lit classes, we use a pencil. As a book lover, I try to repress the childhood memory of coming upon a picture book that was my mother’s, and being horrified to discover that my mischievous Auntie Ro at some point had taken a marker and scribbled in the pages of the book, and in my child mind, ruined it forever. We honor and respect the book.

When we do want to mark our place in a book, we use bookmarks, which are like fun accessories for books, and us. We do not, under any circumstances, take pleasure in folding down the corner of the page. We will search for any other method to mark our place (a stray envelope, a random receipt from a purse or wallet, a paperclip, straight-up memorization of the page number) before we will cringe and forever mar the books we so love.

I have such sentimental attachment to bookmarks that the one time I accidentally left one—a souvenir from my honeymoon—in a library book, I called the library in a panic, and thanks to a very nice, bookmark-loving librarian, now only use said bookmark when reading books I own.

My point is, sirs and madams of the Kindle marketing team, is that if you want to turn the book readers of the world into e-book readers of the world, or at least convince us that your e-reader is the lesser of all evils, then try not to insult us, make us seem unintelligent and deem us as un-cool, simply because we prefer the pages of an actual book.


Lisa A. Schleipfer, un-official representative of worldwide book aficionados