Advertisement. Click on the ad for more information.
Winding Oak's Bookology Magazine

Archive | From the Editor

From the Editor

by Marsha Qualey

ph_redbirdHere in the upper Midwest most of us are waiting for the other shoe to drop. We’ve had a hint of winter, and we all suspect the real thing will arrive soon.  Meanwhile, the landscape is brown, with the occasional flash of color from holiday trimmings, birds, blaze orange outerwear. 

The National Book Awards were bestowed last month at what’s probably the fanciest book event in the U.S.  While the book award season is now on hold until January, the end of year “best” or “best bets for gifts” listing is in full swing. These commercial lists have a lot in common with those announced in conjunction with an award: They’re all about the new books.

From its inception, Bookology has not been about new books. Yes, a number of our Bookstorm™ books have been new releases, but month-to-month we aim our focus on and use our platform to herald the vast catalogue of books published in previous years.  The perfect book to place in the hand of a young reader might not be the one generating all the current buzz, and that’s why so many titles in our columns and ‘storms and Quirky Book lists have a few miles on them and deserve to be talked about once again.

Firekeeper's SonOur Bookstorm™ book this month is The Firekeeper’s Son by Newbery medalist Linda Sue Park. A picture book set in 19th century Korea, it’s the story of a boy who is suddenly swept away from playtime with his toy soldiers and challenged to “step up” when his father is injured.

We’ll have interviews with both Linda Sue Park and, later this month, the illustrator, Julie Downing. Also coming soon: a Quirky list and an end-of-year slide show honoring the children’s book creators who have died this year. And of course we’ll have the usual columns from the bookologists and authors who show up regularly in Bookology. Today: author Elizabeth Fixmer shares how children’s books deepened her work as a psychotherapist.

Thanks for visiting Bookology.


From the Editor

by Marsha Qualey

Untamed: the Wild Life of Jane GoodallThank goodness for public libraries. I’ve been a user and fan for well over 50 years now, but for the last eight months, as I’ve worked with the other bookologists putting together the magazine, I’ve put more book miles on my card than in many years combined.

My local library is the largest in a consortium of nearly 50 libraries in western Wisconsin, which means delivery of special requests happens quickly; that reach and speed has been a key element in my ability to keep up with the necessary book work. This is especially true for the Bookstorm™ books. Before we recommend or write about those titles we like to—at the very least—get our hands on the candidate books, riffle pages, and examine back matter and illustrations. And of course we read. For nearly a year now I make the trip to the library several times a week to see what’s waiting for me on the hold shelf.

This month our Bookstorm™ features Untamed: The Wild Life of Jane Goodall, written by Anita Silvey, with photographs and book design by the editorial team at National Geographic. The companion book reading for this month’s storm has quite possibly covered more literary distance than that triggered by previous Bookstorms. Not only have I crossed and recrossed the African continent, but I’ve read about animal friendships and inspiring scientists, East African trickster stories, and visited a market in Zanzibar.

golden-baobab-prizeI’ve discovered more than books, of course. I’ve learned about the developing and exciting children’s literature scene throughout the African continent: The Golden Baobab Prize, first awarded in 2009 to celebrate and encourage emerging writers and illustrators of children’s stories; Bookshy, a wonderful blogger who focuses on African literature and book art; Book Dash, a writers and illustrators’ project designed to provide thousands of children with story books at little or no cost, and–most intriguing–Worldreader, a nonprofit that provides e-readers and e-books to schools and students in Africa and also works with African publishers to digitize their titles. 

And of course, I’ve read and thought a lot about Dr. Jane Goodall. As Bookstorm™ creator Vicki Palmquist says in her introduction to this month’s ‘storm, “[i]t’s not often that a book offers us a glimpse into the childhood of a woman who has followed a brave, and caring, career path, but also follows her through more than 50 years in that chosen profession, describing her work, discoveries, and her passion for the mammals with whom she works.”

Thanks for visiting Bookology. Please roam, and enjoy.


From the Editor

by Marsha Qualey

written by Candace Fleming  illustrated by Eric Rohmann  Atheneum, 2015

Atheneum, 2015

Welcome! It’s the first Tuesday of the month and time to launch a new month of Bookology. Our October Bookstorm™ has as its centerpiece the wonderful picture book Bulldozer’s Big Day, the first time we’ve focused on a picture book for young readers.

Bulldozer’s Big Day was written by Sibert honor author Candace Fleming and illustrated by Caldecott Medalist Eric Rohmann. We will feature interviews with both, beginning today with our conversation with Eric Rohmann.

Rohmann’s block print art for Bulldozer triggered a discussion between various bookologists about other print-illustrated children’s books, and put together a slide show of some of the stand-outs of the last couple of decades. Have your own favorite? Let us know.

Our regular columnists will be writing through the month about their latest book or writing discoveries; today: Reading Ahead author Vicki Palmquist on Isabelle Day Refuses to Die of a Broken Heart, a new middle grade novel by Jane St. Anthony and many other books that deal with “Laughter and Grief.”

Don’t forget to check out our two latest Authors Emeritus posts about Virginia Lee Burton and Lynd Ward, who both used block print techniques in their illustration work.  


Eric Shabazz Larkin, illus.
Readers to Eaters, 2013

October is a month of change in the northern hemisphere, so why not change a world record? Two organizations are looking to claim the world record of most children-read-to-in-a-day.

On October 19, 2015, Points of Light, a Houston-based nonprofit, will attempt to establish a new world record by rallying volunteers to read to over 300,000 children in 24 hours. The campaign book for this attempt is Farmer Will Allen and the Growing Table, written by Bookology columnist Jackie Briggs Martin!

The current world record is held by the nonprofit Jumpstart, which in association with Candlewick Press, has for ten years run a global campaign, Read for the Record® that generates public support for high-quality early learning by mobilizing millions of children and adults to take part

Noah Z. Jones, illus. Candlewick, 2005

Noah Z. Jones, illus.

Candlewick, 2005

in the world’s largest shared reading experience. This year’s attempt is scheduled for October 22; the campaign book is Not Norman: A Goldfish Story, by Kelly Bennett.

And, finally, it is a truth universally acknowledged that any October issue of a magazine must include something related to Halloween.  We’ve got that covered with this month’s Two for the Show column: “What Scares You?,” in which Phyllis Root and Jackie Briggs Martin discuss the role of fear in books for young readers and spotlight a few books that deliver on a scary promise. Look for their conversation October 14.

As always, thank you for taking the time to visit Bookology.


From the Editor

by Marsha Qualey

Welcome to Bookology.

Thank you for coming back, or checking us out for a first look, or for pausing if you landed here by accident.

Chasing FreedomReturning readers know that each month much of our content is connected to the magazine’s monthly centerpiece: the Bookstorm™, a bibliography of books and websites compiled and written by our chief Bookologist, Vicki Palmquist, which has at its starting point a single book. This month that book is Chasing Freedom by Nikki Grimes, in which the author imagines a conversation that might have occurred had Susan B. Anthony and Harriet Tubman sat down for tea. Susan B. Anthony and Harriet Tubman’s “paths frequently crossed one another’s,” Grimes says in our interview with her, but she could find no documentation of an actual shared tea.  Still, “[t]he fact that these historical powerhouses knew one another was exciting.”

The September Bookstorm™ focuses on the 19th century and the early 20th century and the political and social environments and institutions in which Susan B. Anthony and Harriet Tubman lived and worked: slavery, war, Reconstruction, the advent and dawn of Jim Crow, the new century.  If you don’t have time now to look over the bibliography, our Bullet Point Book Talks offers a quick look at some of the books in the ‘storm.

On the lighter side, today we also celebrate the back-to-school season with a Quirky Book List of books involving classroom pets. Cautionary reading for our teacher friends? Perhaps.

Catch You Later, TraitorDon’t forget to return after today, because, as usual, throughout the month you can join us for some skinny dipping and read what our regular book-loving contributors have to say about their latest forays into children’s literature. Want to be alerted to Bookology updates? Please subscribe.

And finally: We have a winner. Last month we encouraged our readers to comment on our articles, and we offered a signed copy of that month’s Bookstorm™ book, Catch You Later, Traitor by Avi as the prize for a drawing for which all commenters would be eligible. Linda B. from Colorado took a moment to comment on our August Literary Madeleine, and it was her name we pulled out of the Bookologist Hat. Congrats to Linda, and thank you to all who commented.

That’s enough. Time to explore Bookology. Thanks for stopping.


From the Editor

by Marsha Qualey

Catch You Later, TraitorWelcome to the sixth issue of Bookology.

This month’s Bookstorm™ Book is Catch You Later, Traitor, the latest novel by Newbery medalist Avi. Set in the 1950s in New York City during the era of communist-hunting, the novel explores the long and frightening reach of government into private lives under the guise of security and patriotism and how a pointed and accusing finger can cause so much damage.  Accompanying the Bookstorm™ is a conversation between Avi and Newbery Honor author Gary D. Schmidt and our usual bullet point book talks for some of the Bookstorm™ companion books.

After prepping and reading for this month’s 1950s-influenced Bookology, I’m ready to claim the podium and assert that the most important year in American Children’s publishing was 1957. Thanks to two of that year’s events, everything changed.

  1. bk_cat-hatThe publication of The Cat and the Hat. In one fell swoop, reading instruction and the type of books early readers could encounter would never be the same. Dick and Jane would hold on for a few years, but not much longer.
  2. The launch of Sputnik. According to author and children’s literature scholar Anita Silvey, after this salvo in the space race the “school market for children’s books surged into the forefront of children’s publishing” (Children’s Books and Their Creators, p. 5 43). This surge was strengthened a year later with a tremendous increase in the federal funds available for purchasing school books—texts and general reading material.
Sputnik 1

Sputnik 1

Everything changed.

Well, that’s a bit of hyperbole, isn’t it? It’s also quickly refuted because one big thing that didn’t change was the whiteness of American children’s literature.

The world of children’s book writing and publishing is now engaged in a needed and wonderful campaign for diversity in the topics and subjects of the books and in the voices creating, publishing, and promoting those books.

A wonderful campaign, but not a new one, though the definition of diversity has expanded in ways the early proponents might never have imagined. One of those proponents was Nancy Larrick, whose 1965 Saturday Review article “The All-White World of Children’s Books” brought the topic to the general public’s eye, much like Walter Dean Myers’s 2014 article in the New York Times shortly before his death.

Blacklist coverThe whiteness of children’s literature came into sharp relief as I was reading and reading about books included in this month’s storm.  We include several Red Scare novels on the list, but they are centered on white lives; I’d love to hear about books that explore what a child or teen of color experienced. In the terrific book The Other Black List, author Mary Helen Washington writes “Because J. Edgar Hoover suspected that anyone working against segregation or in the field of civil rights also had communist ties, the FBI (in league with Joseph McCarthy’s Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations and the House Un-American Activities committee) persistently targeted the black intellectual and cultural community of the 1950s” (pp. 22-23). At least some of those targeted adults must have had young people in their lives who were affected.  I want to read their stories.

bk_FreeWithinIn her excellent book Free Within Ourselves: The Development of African American Children’s Literature, Rudine Sims Bishop, Professor Emerita at Ohio State University, states there is a surprising dearth of children’s novels about the organized civil rights events of the fifties (and by extension, I suppose, the Red Scare).

Which brings me back to 1957 and yet another momentous event: the desegregation of Central High School in Little Rock. At the center of that were nine teenagers:  Ernest Green, Elizabeth Eckford, Jefferson Thomas, Terrence Roberts, Carlotta Walls, Minnijean Brown, Gloria Ray, Thelma Mothershed, and Melba Pattillo. Perhaps one reason there are so few fictional explorations of the 1950s civil rights period is that the real stories and people involved tend to blow everything else out of the water. Still, desegregation is one civil rights era experience that many authors HAVE tackled in novels, and our timeline this month shares some of those.

The upheavals of the 1960s, on the other hand, have inspired many writers, and later this month we’ll have an interview, “Writing History,” with Kekla Magoon, author of How it Went Down, Fire in the Streets, The Rock and the River, and many more books for teens and middle grade readers.

And of course throughout the month we will run our regular features and columns, beginning today with a Knock Knock column: “Being Ten” by Candace Ransom.

We also have a contest! Anyone who comments (on any article in Bookology) during the month will be entered into a random drawing to win a signed hardcover of Avi’s book, and our featured Bookstorm, Catch You Later, Traitor.

And by all means…if you disagree with me about the year 1957, tell me why. In a comment, please. You might be a winner.

Thanks for visiting Bookology.





From the Editor

by Marsha Qualey

ph_catI made my professional entrance into the world of children’s books in the early 1990s when the first of my YA novels was published. One thing that has changed drastically since then is the increased media coverage; YA lit is an especially big show right now. While you still run across some vestigial articles of the “Should Adults Read Children’s Books” nature, gone are the days when a children’s book author would be dismissed out of hand as not being a real writer, especially by writers of literary fiction and poetry.

My response—most often delivered to unappreciative but patient cats but a few times when face to face with those writers—was always, “Well, where do you think your readers come from? Do you think readers don’t exist until they discover your writing?” #snap!

Okay… #sadsnap. 

Shadow HeroAnother thing that has changed is the prevalence of graphic novels in the classroom, libraries, and publishers’ catalogues. For the second time in its short history Bookology’s Bookstorm™ book is a graphic novel: Gene Luen Yang and Sonny Liew’s The Shadow Hero.

I’ve had the good fortune of working with Gene in a writing program for adults. He is a natural, brilliant teacher. I’ve observed die-hard novelists and poets emerge from one of his Writing a Graphic Novel workshops excited about this new storytelling form.

Of course it’s not really new, just new to us here in the mainstream US book world. Wouldn’t you love to go back in a time machine to a library conference in the 1940s or 50s and tell everyone about comics in the classroom? Can’t you just see the white gloves flying up to smother gasps or cover ears?

Later this month we will have interviews with both Gene and Sonny. Today we’re rolling out the Bookstorm™ and a couple of related features—storm cells, you might call them (and yes, it’s pouring as I write this.) We also have a thoughtful Knock Knock essay by author Lynne Jonell: “Justice in Another World.” Skinny Dip interviews and our regular columns will of course appear throughout this week and weeks to come.

Enjoy—and thank you for stopping by.



From the Editor

by Marsha Qualey

cover imageThe confluence of science and art is at the heart of this month’s Bookstorm™ book, Scaly Spotted Feathered Frilled by Catherine Thimmesh.

In conversations about school curriculum, STEM (science-technology-engineering-math) turned into STEAM (+arts) quite some time ago. But why were science and art ever detached from each other?

I suspect the truth is that wherever learning has occurred, they never were detached.

As a veteran writer and writing teacher, I know the importance of asking “What If?” Most often the question is used to nudge or explode a plot (Dragons!). But the question has equal importance when applied to manipulating reader reaction: What if I add some white space here? What if I move that page turn? How will that affect the reader’s response? Why?

As for the visual arts and music, well what’s NOT about exploring the science of the tools?

Helen Frankenthaler on Life Magazine cover

Helen Frakenthaler, artist. Photo by Gordon Parks. Click to enlarge.

What sound will I get if I mute this horn?

What If I thin the paint and don’t prime the canvas?

As you peruse this month’s Bookology you’ll see science and art hand in hand many places, most obviously in the books included in the Bookstorm ™ and our fossil slide show. Later this month we’ll have more that embraces the confluence: interviews with Catherine Thimmesh and Melissa Stewart (on teaching science through literature), and an article by Jenny Barlow on using picture books to connect with people living with Alzheimer’s and dementia.

All that and our regular columns and articles. And of course, we’ll be skinny dipping. Glad you could join us.





From the Editor


by Marsha Qualey

Nancy2Happy Birthday, Nancy Drew!

For the last few days it’s been hard to navigate online without stumbling across some celebratory musing about the titian-haired heroine turning 85. Which main characters from recent YA and children’s lit do you think could be the subject of such attention eight decades down the road?

This month’s Bookstorm™ book is a graphic novel, Lowriders in Space. The heroine of the story, Lupe, gives Nancy D. a run for her money in confidence, skills, and roadsters. What’s more, Lupe—like Nancy—keeps company with two fine friends.  Vicki Palmquist, Bookologist extraordinaire, has done her usual terrific job of compiling a storm of good reading to enjoy in the classroom or at your leisure.

I’m happy to announce three new regular additions to the Bookology line-up. We sneaked one in a week ago: Middle Kingdom, a monthly visit with a middle school librarian. Author Lisa Bullard wrangles these interviews, and the first librarian spotlighted is Laurie Amster-Burton of Jane Addams Middle School in Seattle, Washington. If you know a hard-working middle school librarian, email us with the info!

Maurna Rome returns, and she’ll now be writing regularly about her classroom literacy work (and the work of others) in Teach It Forward. Green eggs and ham never looked so good.

I’m especially delighted to introduce two wonderful writers to the Bookology crew: Jacqueline Briggs Martin and Phyllis Root. I’m sure many if not most of you are familiar with their books. Each month in their new column Two for the Show they’ll discuss two older picture books they’ve discovered or rediscovered.

And all that (and more) just today—issue launch day, the first Tuesday of the month. Look for even more all through this month as our regular columns and features roll out. 

Thank you for stopping in. Now please go explore the third issue of Bookology.



From the Editor

by Marsha Qualey

April Bookology cover

The FIRST Bookology!

It’s the first Tuesday of the month, and all the Winding Oak bookologists are a bit breathless but happy to be opening this second issue of Bookology.

We’ve been so gratified by the warm response to the magazine. Thank you.

In this April edition you’ll find another Bookstorm™ at the center of everything. Since its publication in 1994, Catherine, Called Birdy by Karen Cushman has been a reader favorite and classroom stalwart. So why shine the spotlight on a book that earned its honored place long ago?

Well, we chronic readers may know a book is worth reading and we may believe in our bones that you shouldn’t need a reason to promote and share a good book in the classroom, but ever-shifting curriculum requirements demand that we take a fresh look at old favorites and evaluate how well they support that curriculum.

And so we took a fresh look at Catherine, Called Birdy; we’re delighted to share the results in the new Bookstorm ™.

Besides the regular features and columns, you’ll also find an interview with the author of Birdy, Karen Cushman. Because we wanted to focus on the story behind the story, especially the research involved, we asked veteran nonfiction writer Claire Rudolf Murphy to conduct the interview. 

April means poetry, and for this Bookology we asked Sylvia Vardell and Janet Wong to share examples from two of their Poetry Friday anthologies.

And, finally, we’ve also launch a new feature: Wacky Book Lists. In this month—books starring dachshunds.




From the Editor: Welcome

by Marsha Qualey

Welcome to Bookology.

WelcomeWhat began almost a year ago as a conversation among colleagues has now taken shape and arrived on your virtual doorstep: an e-magazine dedicated to nurturing the essential conversation about the role of children’s books in the K-8 classroom.

That meeting was convened by Vicki and Steve Palmquist, owners and founders of Winding Oak and perhaps more familiar to many of you as the founders and heartbeat of Children’s Literature Network, an organization they rolled up last year after providing 12 years of leadership as well as an unparalleled online platform for communication between children’s book creators and the adults who love those books.

Vicki and Steve wanted to create a similar online presence, one that would not only highlight the work of Winding Oak’s many clients, but which would also invite a larger network of readers, writers, illustrators, teachers, and librarians into the conversation.

A quick guide to what you’ll see each month:

A Bookstorm ™.  Each “storm” begins with one book. From there we spin out a cross-curriculum array of subjects and provide titles for each category. Common Core, STEM/STEAM, state standards—any curriculum structure will be served by the Bookstorm™ bibliography. But we also go beyond a simple list, and each month much of the Bookology content we present will emanate from the Bookstorm™ titles.

Columns.  Whether written by one of our regulars or a guest writer, these posts are intended to share the voices of people immersed in the world of children’s literature. We are especially delighted to launch “Knock Knock,” a blog collective from Winding Oak’s many clients that will appear on alternate Tuesdays. Heather Vogel Frederick gamely accepted the assignment to write the inaugural column; she’ll be followed up later this month by Melissa Stewart and Avi.

Interviews and articles. We will be visiting with illustrators, writers, teachers, librarians and others in order to expand what we all know and understand about children’s literature. We’ll also be offering a lighter, more humorous getting-to-know-you interview venue: Skinny Dips, in which we ask about almost anything except the creative process.

We will scatter about the magazine features and incidentals we hope will be of interest, such as Literary Madeleines—discoveries that even the veteran readers on the staff savored—and Timelines, quick at-a-glance looks at seminal books in a genre or subject. Contest, quizzes, and book-giveaways will also appear throughout the month.

What you won’t see are book reviews. While many of our articles and columns will of course discuss and recommend books, those recommendations will always be in context of a larger topic. There are plenty of book review forums available, and we weren’t interested in adding to those voices.

And for now you won’t see “Comments” sections. This is ironic of course in view of our stated mission of nurturing a conversation; we’ll open those, and soon. In the meantime, should you have a comment or suggestion or request, send me a note.

Thanks for your time and interest. Now please go explore Bookology.