Sunday, December 7, 2014

2nd Annual Diversity Month Day 6-Blogger Interview with Charlotte @ Charlotte's Library +Kindle Fire 6" and Book Giveaway!

We met this lovely blogger at Kidlitcon earlier this year and just had to have her on to talk about her blog, Charlotte's Library. She's just one of those bloggers that constantly updates her content(which takes a lot of work as y'all know) and does an amazing job at highlighting diverse titles. If there is ever a blog we look to for recommendations, her blog is definitely that one.

 So everyone do yourself a favor and check her blog out! In the meantime, check out her sit down with the Twinjas!

1.You’re a first timer on Twinja Book Reviews, so obviously, you have to go to the front of the class and introduce yourself.  What can you tell us about you and your journey as a blogger?

I owe my blogging life to a copy of Kira-Kira, by Cynthia Kadohata, picked up for pennies at a booksale in 2006.  I read it, thought it was fine, and left it lying around….and my sister saw it and was happy to tell me that I had a first edition of a scarce Newbery book, with no sticker on it, and it was worth something.  Indeed, it was enough to pay the sewer bill (yay!).
So I decided that I would find out what book was going to win the Newbery next and buy it in advance.  That google search of “what will win the Newbery this year” led me to Linda Sue Park’s blog, and then to more and more blogs…soon I was hooked on blog reading.
The more I read, the more I noticed that other bloggers were getting books from the publishers.   I wanted to get books from the publishers too, mostly for my small local library, which needed fresh children’s and YA books very very badly.   But a cunning, selfish part of me thought—if I have a blog, perhaps I will get an advance copy of Megan Whalen Turner’s next book…
2.Your blog’s name is “Charlotte’s Library.” What inspired the title and theme of your blog and do you only read and review certain genres?
So I started my blog in February of 2007, and because I was doing it for my library (mostly) I called it Charlotte’s Library.  As I direct result, I’ve been able to add a considerable number of books to the library’s shelves.  And when A Conspiracy of Kings came out several years later I did in fact get an ARC (achievement unlocked!).
When I started blogging, the YA section of my library was the saddest, so those were the books I most wanted review copies of.   But the more I blogged and the more I read, the more I realized that the books I really enjoyed reading were fantasy and science fiction for people aged 10-14 ish, and so in my second year I began to focus my blog on these; it is now almost entirely speculative fiction reviews.
Now, after almost 8 years of blogging, the library has an actual children’s librarian and book budget, and Megan Whalen Turner’s next book will probably be sent out as an e-ARC, which rules me out, although I’d welcome a paper copy (makes puppy eyes at Greenwillow).  But at this point (2,663 posts later) I am addicted to blogging for its own sake, and so physical review copies, though I still love to get them, aren’t a necessary incentive anymore.
3. What's interesting about "Charlotte's Library" is the effort to include diverse and multicultural titles. Was there a particular reason you started branching out?

I decided to actively look for diverse and multicultural fantasy and science fiction on May 16, 2009, after my review of Thirteenth Child got picked up in the online discussion about "mammothfail," the name given to Patricia Wrede's decision to keep Native Americans out of her alternate America. Reading all the various strong reactions to this led me to thinking about the overwhelming whiteness of speculative fiction for kids and teens.

This in turn led me to examine my own eight-year old's bookshelves. There were two books with African-American characters, review copies from Lerner's Graphic Myths and Legends Series--Marwe: Into the Land of the Dead: an East African Legend Sunjata: Warrior King of Mali: a West African Legend. There was one book set in China, The Remarkable Journey of Prince Jen, by Lloyd Alexander (but Prince Jen never struck me as particularly Chinese).  Not much diversity at all.  And when I asked my son if he could think of a book in which a character's skin color was different than his own (which is the inside of a plain bagel, untoasted), he suggested an aberrantly white character in the V book of the A-Z mysteries, who is taken for a vampire.

As I said at the time “Gah. On so many levels, gah.”
(Here is the full post from May 17, 2009, that tells what I did next—shopping, and not finding much)
So my initial motive was maternal – I wanted to make sure my two white kids had windows into a more diverse world.  But as I blogged more consciously and more directly about diversity, I became much more concerned with the wider issues, such as the importance of having books that are mirrors for kids of color.  So I’ve tried to expand my contribution to the larger push for diversity—to keep looking for the books, to keep reviewing them as thoughtfully as possible, and to be a useful part in promoting multicultural speculative fiction for all young readers.  I have a page at my blog where I list all my multicultural spec. fic. reviews—I’m up to 171.
Every May 17th I go book shopping again for diverse middle grade science fiction and fantasy.  Strangely (irony font) I have not bankrupted myself…though I do think there are more diverse books to buy than there were in 2009.
4. You also highlight other blog's reviews. What inspired the decision? Do you have a particular way you rate and judge books? How often do you read? How do you prefer to receive books?

Every Sunday I have a round-up post in which I gather all the middle grade speculative fiction related blog posts I can find.  I started doing this because I wanted someone else to have already done it—I was getting frustrated with how time consuming it was to find all the reviews of my favorite genre.  Of course, doing the round-up is perhaps even more time consuming (I follow around 450 blogs on Bloglovin these days), but at least I have a Useful Product to share at the end of it!  
I don’t rate books because I don’t trust myself to be consistent in my evaluations, I read about 300 books (plus more I don’t finish) a year, and I am a print person all the way!

5. You're also a huge contributor to KidLitCon. How did that come about? (if you want, you can mention all the people who make it happen as well =)  )

One of the things I like about reading all the blogs I do is that it widens my network of bloggers, and this community is one of the main reasons I can’t conceive of not blogging.  From its beginning, I’ve been part of “the Kidlitosphere”—a loose amalgam of anyone who blogs about kid’s books, which has its own website, email list, and a conference every year—Kidlitcon.   I can’t speak highly enough about how wonderful it is to go to Kidlitcon, and to be surrounded by kindred spirits all eager and ready to talk about children’s and YA books!  Every year I come back recharged, and this year especially so, as the focus of the conference was on diversity.  It was a lovely program, if I say so who shouldn’t (I organized it) and I am so grateful to all the speakers who made the effort to come! Kidlitcon is another thing that I find it easy to spend energy on to make it happen, because I want it to keep existing.  It will be in Baltimore next fall—please come!

Guinevere with Charlotte @ Kidlitcon

 Don't forget everyone!We're hosting an amazing giveaway including an Amazon kindle, just in time for the New Years so please be sure to check it out!
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