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Posts Tagged ‘children’s books’

We Are ProQuest: Jean Ward

Dexter the Very Good Goat, Jean M. Malone, Jean Ward, Children's Picture Books

Photo with permission to use from Jean Ward

We Are ProQuest: ProQuest is only as successful as its staff. The ProQuest difference is people behind-the-scenes using their skills to create products and features to provide the optimal research experience from kindergarten to post-graduate to life-long learner. We Are ProQuest features profiles of some of our talented team members. Today let’s meet Senior Product Manager, Books for the OASIS/CIS products, Jean Ward.

Jean Ward has made a name for herself as Jean M. Malone writing children’s books and has a novel in the works. Her children’s picture book, “DEXTER the very good goat” was mentioned in a ProQuest newsletter when Jean was praised for her work. While Jean has recently changed roles to become Senior Product Manager, Books for the OASIS/CIS products she also balances that job with her writing career. Jean shared with me her journey, challenges and what she dreams to accomplish in the future.

How did you come to work at ProQuest?

I came to ProQuest through the Coutts acquisition from Ingram in 2015, and it has been a very positive experience.

What is your educational/professional background?

I double majored in English (Creative Writing concentration) and Motion Pictures (Screenwriting concentration) at the University of Miami, and then after graduating I started working in a bookstore. It was a small, family run shop where half the charm was the serendipitous discovery, but the lack of Dewey Decimals or a catalog actually drove me nuts. From there I went to work in my local public library for a few years, and then I joined Ingram as an assistant cataloger, which was the perfect outlet for my organization-starved self.

While working at Ingram I went back to school to earn a Master’s of Library and Information Science at the University of Alabama, and eventually transitioned from cataloging to a collection development position within Coutts, first as a title selector and then as the department manager. Recently I left that department to become the Senior Product Manager for the OASIS product at ProQuest.

I understand you’re a writer. When did you start writing?

Gosh, I’ve been writing for about as long as I can remember. I guess I’m not embarrassed to admit that I started out as I think probably many writers do, writing fan fiction when I was a teenager (Star Trek). Then I did a heck of a lot of writing in college, and after college, I wrote my first novel, which will never see the light of day.

What do you enjoy best about writing?

That’s a really hard question! I think what I love, even though I also hate it, is the revision process, and once I learned to embrace that, it really freed me because it allowed me to write truly terrible drafts so that I could just get things out on paper and see how they worked, and then go back to them. I think the most beautiful thing about writing is how it’s like a painting, and this is what I realized a few years ago when I finally learned how to revise. It made me think of The Girl With A Pearl Earring movie, where you actually see the way Vermeer would have painted: first there is a shape. Just a shape. And then you come back and you add more textures and more colors and the shape turns into a blob. And then you come back and add another layer–and after several layers, you have this beautiful amazing piece of art. But it didn’t start out as a beautiful, rich, textured work–it started out as shapes and blobs. And I think writing is exactly the same.

How do you balance work and writing?

When you find out, you tell me. It’s basically having two jobs, right? There have been long periods of time where I really burned the candle at both ends, but I have not been very good at this lately, and by lately I really mean for about the last two years. As I have taken on greater levels of responsibility at work, I have less and less energy to devote to writing, and I go through long dry periods where I just don’t write at all. Or it comes in fits and starts which are too sporadic to be useful.

But what I have found is that the best way to write is to have a routine. If I can manage to get myself into a routine for awhile where I sit down and write for an hour or two every day, then I find it much easier to stay in that routine. But life happens, it gets in the way. We moved this year, I have a longer commute, my husband’s schedule changed, my work schedule changed–so I have not been in a routine for awhile. I’m working on getting back into one right now. I’m not really like some writers. I don’t write to stay sane like my sister does. I actually watch TV to stay sane. I write because when I don’t write, I feel very disappointed in myself.

You’ve been published. How did you get published?

Every single path is different, right? I had a screenwriting classmate in college who got a job at Penguin, and she put out a call when she became an editor–send me writing samples if you ever think you might like to write for Penguin. So I did, and one day she called me and said all her writers were busy and she needed a book about flamingos on a short deadline–I think she needed the first draft in about 10 days, could I do it? And I said “Of COURSE I can do it!” and promptly went to the library to learn everything I could about flamingos. I ended up doing 2 more books for Penguin, and what I learned is that you always say yes when presented with an opportunity, even if it’s a little bit scary.

What has been your proudest moment?

I think my proudest moment on this journey has been to do with my latest book. It is a picture book, and the text actually began as my writing sample for that Penguin editor. I loved it so much that I asked my dear friend JJ, who is an amazing young artist, to illustrate it for me, and she breathed life into it in a way that I hadn’t even imagined. Since this book wasn’t an assignment or publisher request, but was all of our own making, it has been incredibly exciting. My proudest moment was finding out how much my–let’s see–she would be something like my cousin-in-law once removed? Anyway, she is the most adorable little girl, and she is Dexter’s biggest fan. Hearing about how much she loves Dexter, how she keeps her book in a special spot in her play kitchen and how she knows all the words by heart–that is definitely my proudest moment so far. Knowing that something about the book struck a chord with her and makes her so happy.

What is a dream you have in life?

I want to continue to write picture books because they are so much fun, but my dream is to be a novelist published by a mainstream publisher. I’m currently revising my third novel, and have been for an embarrassing number of years now. I dream big–I want to touch people’s lives–especially young people–through my writing. I want to win the Printz. And then I also have this nerdy obsession with Hallmark Christmas movies, and I have several Christmas novels that I want to write–and then write the screenplay adaptations for them as Hallmark movies of my own.

Author Beatrix Potter, Born 150 Years Ago

This week (July 28, to be exact) marks the 150th anniversary of the birth of famed author Beatrix Potter. In addition to her writing, Potter was also known for her fascination and work with nature and science.

Beatrix Potter Research Topic

Beatrix Potter Research Topic via ProQuest’s eLibrary

Potter wrote approximately 30 books, 24 of which were children’s tales. And undoubtedly, her best known and beloved story is The Tale of Peter Rabbit, which was published in 1902.

Peter Rabbit and His Mom

Peter Rabbit and His Mom [Public Domain] via Wikimedia Commons

Peter Rabbit in the Cabbage Patch

Peter Rabbit in the Cabbage Patch [Public Domain] via Wikimedia Commons

 

 

 

 

 

The following year, Potter published The Tale of Squirrel Nutkin and The Tailor of Gloucester…and from there, the remainder of her treasured stories were penned.

Happy Birthday Lewis Carroll!

"Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, c. 1875." Photo credit: National Media Museum via Foter.com / No known copyright restrictions

“Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, c. 1875.” Photo credit: National Media Museum via Foter.com / No known copyright restrictions

Lewis Carroll was the pen name of Charles Lutwidge Dodgson. The beloved creator of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Through the Looking-Glass and other fantasy tales, has a birthday today (January 27, 1832). To celebrate Lewis Carroll, we wanted to share some of the things that made this children’s author and his work so unique:

He was also a mathematician who wove mathematical lessons into his stories.

This learning disability which hinders the ability to read didn’t seem to hinder Carroll’s writing talent.

He loved visiting the Oxford Museum of Natural History and many of the animals he saw there inspired the use of animals in his writing.

Lewis Carroll taught mathematics at Christ Church College at Oxford for years under the dean Henry Liddell. The fictional Alice was inspired by Liddell’s daughter Alice.

He contemplated a variety of book titles from Alice’s Hour in Elfland to Alice Among the Fairies.

John Tenniel, Lewis Carroll’s illustrator, made his illustrations on a wood-block before giving to an engraver to cut.

Both Carroll’s love for the Dodo Bird and his real name, Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, inspired the Dodo in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.

The book has also been translated into at least 100 languages including Classical Latin.

How will you celebrate the work of Lewis Carroll? Let us know in the comments below or Tweet us at #ProQuest!

Book Float Projects

As an editor for SIRS Discoverer who has children in elementary school, I like to pay attention to my children’s assignments at school to inform my editorial selections. I believe this adds a layer of personal relevancy to my work. Many projects in elementary school have a research component and that’s where SIRS Discoverer is very valuable as an age-appropriate resource.

My daughter’s 4th grade class was assigned a “Book Float” project this year. I had never heard of these projects before, but after a little research, I found that they are a common 4th grade project.

The idea is to make a shoebox into a miniature parade float based on the theme of a recently read book. The students have to make a 3-D scene from the book, write a summary, rate the book, and present it to the class.

My daughter chose the book “Matilda” by Roald Dahl. She really enjoyed reading the book and the book float was really fun to make. Here are some photos of the finished product. The printed pictures are some scenes from the book, the hearts represent Matilda’s kindness, and the miniature books represent Matilda’s love for reading.

book float 1

Image by Jennifer Oms

book float 2

Image by Jennifer Oms

Teachers, a great place to learn about children’s books is in SIRS Discoverer! Here are some subject searches in ProQuest SIRS Discoverer to get you started:

Children’s books

Books and reading

Books

Celebrating Jane Yolen

10.15.11JaneYolenByLuigiNovi

Jane Yolen
Source: Luigi Novi [CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons]

Jane Yolen was born on Feb. 11, 1939. She has published hundreds of books, novels, poetry and short stories suitable for children and teens. Her novella geared for young adults, “The Devil’s Arithmetic,” draws on Holocaust history to captivate readers and was turned into a made-for-TV-movie in 1999. Her ever-growing imagination and talent for fiction-writing has led her to win notable awards and accolades. While she is now both a mother and grandmother, her love for children’s literature began way before having children of her own. She has written stories and penned poems since childhood, though she jokingly refers to the first poem she ever wrote, “Bus, bus, wait for us!” as being “truly awful.” To celebrate Jane Yolen’s birthday through the power of literature and prose, think about incorporating a mix of ProQuest resources and educational activities into your next lesson:

1. ProQuest eLibrary Research Topic on Jane Yolen: ProQuest eLibrary Research Topics are carefully hand-crafted with curated materials to meet your educational needs.

Jane Yolen Research Topic Screencap via ProQuest eLibrary

Jane Yolen Research Topic Screencap via ProQuest eLibrary

2. ProQuest SIRS Discoverer not only guides you in the right direction, but is also a great resource for discovering other children’s book authors and their works. Here are a couple of articles to get you started: see Poet Finds Inspiration All Around Her and Jane Yolen: A Writer for Every Reader.

3. Jane Yolen’s For Teachers PageA wealth of teacher resources for use in the classroom can be found on Jane Yolen’s web site.

4. NPR Interview: Kids Author Jane Yolen Never Too Old For Comics: Audio interviews as primary sources are both personal and informative.

5. Reading Rockets: Interview with Jane Yolen: Video interviews can be a wonderful way to complement a lesson and bring an author’s experiences to life.

It’s Children’s Book Week!

Turn off the TV, put away the cell phone, finish up that video game…now take a deep breath and dive into a good book! It’s Children’s Book Week (May 13-19, 2013), the perfect time to discover new authors and books or to rediscover your favorites. Since 1919, Children’s Book Week has inspired writers and publishers to create quality children’s literature, has encouraged libraries and schools to offer a wide variety of appealing children’s books, and has nurtured and supported children’s love of reading.

Oh, the Places You'll Go!

Photo by frankieleon via flickr is licensed under CC BY 2.0

 

Visit SIRS Discoverer to meet children’s authors, such as Madeleine L’Engle, Mary Pope Osbourne, and Brian Selznick. Learn about children’s book illustrators, including Eric Carle, Beth Krommes, and Kadir Nelson. View book covers or illustrations from Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are, Shel Silverstein’s The Giving Tree, David Weisner’s Art and Max, and many others.

Books expand the imagination and tickle the heart while taking you around the world. Perhaps Dr. Seuss said best: “The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” (I Can Read with My Eyes Shut) So pick up a book and read!