Archive for September 13, 2012


Publisher’s Weekly has the results from Understanding the Children’s Book Consumer in the Digital Age, an ongoing study from Bowker Market Research.  The trends seems to be affected by the recent blockbuster films and series like The Hunger Games, but also goes well beyond those:

“Although bestsellers lead, there’s a long tail of rich reading that has interesting implications for the publishers of YA books in terms of discovery and consumer relationships,” said project editor Kristen McLean.

Adult readers of teen books appear to also have the most valuable of traits to publishers.  They are early adopters of e-books but willing to purchase a book they want in either print or digital format.  They are loyal to the authors they love and they are active on social networks and get reading recommendations from their friends.

Sounds like a lot of the folks I know online and in person who read these books.

UPDATE:  Thanks to a tweet from @ScottWesterfeld, I realized that I misunderstood the study results.  55% of BUYERS of YA books are adults while 28% of sales are to adults.  Of those, 22% are reading the books themselves.  My apologies!

gold star for zog

A Gold Star for Zog by Julia Donaldson, illustrated by Axel Scheffler

Zog is a young dragon who desperately wants to win a gold star in his dragon classes.  Unfortunately, he isn’t having much luck.  Flying classes ended with him crashing into a tree, though he was patched up with a band-aid from a young girl.  In Year Two, Zog learned how to roar.  The same girl, a little older now, offered him a peppermint for his scratchy throat after he tried too hard.  The next year, Zog learned how to breathe fire but set his own wing on fire.  Again, the girl was there to bandage his wing.  The final test was to capture a princess.  Zog tried and tried, but could not manage it.  The girl showed up and revealed herself as a princess and offered to be captured by Zog.  Zog got a gold star from his teacher, and the princess revealed herself to want to be a doctor instead.  To find out how it all works out, you will have to quest into the story for yourself.

Told in a rhyme that is great fun to read aloud, this book is fanciful and humorous.  Donaldson has nicely melded dragons and princesses with a classroom setting, achievement and aspiring to be something else.  The princess character is nicely integrated throughout the story, though at first readers are not sure she is anything other than a girl with a medical kit.  That reveal is done nicely and then her further dreams to be something else add a freshness to the tale.

Scheffler has created zingy art filled with bright colors, action and plenty of prat falls.  The class of dragons in a rainbow of colors alone is enough to brighten any book.  Scheffler’s style keeps the dragons friendly and cartoon-like, making the book particularly fun to read. 

A great pick for reading aloud to elementary and preschool classes, this book’s dragons and humor will have it soaring high.  Appropriate for ages 4-6.

Reviewed from library copy.

Lulu and the Duck

Lulu and the Duck in the Park by Hilary McKay

Lulu loves animals, so she can’t understand it when people don’t love every animal, like her teacher Mrs. Holiday.  In fact, Mrs. Holiday has asked Lulu to never bring an animal to school again after an incident with her dog.  When their class is heading back through the park after swimming, something awful happens.  Two dogs run rampage through the ducks’ nests in the park, scaring the ducks, ruining their nests and smashing eggs.  So when Lulu sees the duck egg rolling down the hill, she just does what comes naturally and puts it into her pocket.  Once back at school though, it is hard to figure out how to hide an egg without smashing it.  It becomes even harder when the duckling decides to hatch!

McKay is one of my favorite British authors, capturing the unique qualities of her characters with a distinct merriment.  In this short novel perfect for beginning readers, she changes the perspective up sometimes by offering Mrs. Holiday’s point of view too.  It is done with a lot of humor and children will easily make the transition between Lulu and her teacher. 

The writing is simple but great fun to read.  There are plenty of jokes and moments of seriousness too that both help keep the book moving forward.  It is a trick to offer depth of story in such a brief book, but McKay manages it.

I look forward to the next Lulu book and the trouble that she gets into there.  Appropriate for ages 7-9.

Reviewed from library copy.

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