Monday, July 12, 2010

Hiatus Notice

The time has come for a break.

I'm a bit burnt out.  Running a blog is quite draining!  Especially one as involved as this.  But I've been burnt out for months and it hasn't stopped me.  So why break now?

The real reason is that I've had an idea in mind for an additional blog.  For over a year I've wanted to start this other blog, and I just haven't been able to do it simultaneously.  Finally I realized I'd have to pause this one briefly in order to get the other one up and running.

This other blog will still feature the Z-Kids.  It will be creative.  It will be fun.  And in addition, it will be collaborative -- utilizing public contributions.  It will be closed-ended -- it won't run indefinitely, but will have a start date and an end date.  And most of all, I think it has the potential to be Important.

Still, I feel kind of sad announcing this Bookie Woogie break.  In fact, my initial attempt to write this post felt a bit too moody to display here at the top.  (I didn't delete it -- I've hidden it away here if anyone wants to read it later)  So rather than being introspective, I thought instead today we'd celebrate.  I'm proud of the accomplishments thus far!  Since starting Bookie Woogie in October 2008, we've added content every single Monday without skipping once.  That's 90 consecutive weeks!  That's insane!

In fact, here are some Bookie Woogie Stats...  (note that many of these numbers happen to be nice and round at the moment - hence the reason I decided on this particular week to start our break)

90 consecutive weeks

100 total posts

75 book reviews

8 author interviews

92 books highlighted

104 authors & illustrators highlighted

285 pieces of fan art created  (wow!)

I'm pleased with that archive!

We've really enjoyed the kidlit community.  We've loved getting to know many of our readers.  We've even gotten to know some of the creators whose books we've highlighted.

We have a dozen or more regular commenters.  (Hi, ElizT!  Hi, Heidi Noel!)  And there are also many, many folks who have chimed in once or twice.  But even though we usually get 5-10 comments per post, we averaged 650 views a week.  So either lots of people have kept quiet, or 640 of those weekly hits are from my mom.

So now it would be great to hear from you!  We're not quitting.  We'll be back after a bit.  So help us make this blog even better when we return.

What have you found helpful or enjoyable about Bookie Woogie?
How long have you been following along?
Did we introduce you to a particular new favorite book?
Did we introduce you to any new favorite authors or illustrators?
What should we keep doing?
What should we stop doing?
What should we start doing?
Should we do chapter books more often or less often?  How about audio snippets?  How about author interviews?
Where are our glaring omissions?  (Personally, I can't believe we've only featured one non-fiction title!  That will have to change!)
What is YOUR favorite thing about Bookie Woogie?

Before the hiatus begins, I have one last entry that I'll post here on the 26th.  And I'll be sure to make an announcement when this new third blog goes live.  I say "third blog," because the Z-Kids already have another blog.  Their first blog Chicken Nugget Lemon Tooty will continue to be updated, so if you need a Z-Kids art fix while Bookie Woogie is on hiatus, check in over there from time to time to see what's new.

So in closing I'll ask:  Has Bookie Woogie been valuable to you?  How so?  Drop us a comment and let us know...

Z-Dad + Isaac, Grace, and Lily


Jennifer said...

I discovered a lot of great new books - for myself and my library - from reading your reviews. Plus, you guys are funny! I loved watching the kids grow up and change in their responses to the books. Non-fiction is definitely a good idea!

Cristiana C. said...

Dear Isaac, Grace, Lily and Z-Dad,

I am really sorry you're pausing for a while, I had great fun reading your reviews and interviews and all of it... you are absolutely fun and good at it! But I do understand, from my own experience as blogger (even if mine is much more recent than yours), the engagement it requires.
I discovered your blog only a few months ago, and eversince I lost no new entry. I just believe you should keep going as you did so far.
Hoping to read you again "soon".


Carrie said...

Well, I just went back to your archives and I see that I found you on your first review - The Dog Who Belonged to No One. I've followed you ever since!

And I'm excited to hear what your new blog project is and will stay tuned in for that!

In the meantime, I hear you. Keeping up a blog is hard work and this one obviously takes a lot of time, effort and creative genius. =) So...enjoy a little break and I"ll still be here when you get back.

As for what I like best - I have to confess I don't pay attention very much to author interviews. I do like seeing how creative the kids are and since you do that in every post - I enjoy most of them anyway!

My FAVORITE post was the one with teh food art. I forget the title of that book but those were just amazing.

Anyway - great work and see you around!

Heidi Noel said...

I have a "book book" that I write down books to read. There is a whole Bookie Woogie section. I like hearing the different gender and age points of view.

I think I started reading February 2009 and then couldn't sleep one night and read all back posts. I recommend it to everyone that enjoys books. (That can be a lot married to an English professor.)

Baby Mouse has been a favorite since you introduced it. We have even loaned them out to people. (My husband wants to use them for a class in graphic novels someday.)

I have no complaints about what you are doing. I do wish there were more chapter books, though. My oldest kind of feels left out and could use some new reading material. ;) This may not be good, but occasionally parts that touched your kids in different ways, made them sad or upset come up. I like those moments. It is good to know the downsides as well as the upsides. Your kids seem to be such positive, optimistic people that maybe to them there are very few parts that they don't enjoy.

The audio snippets are nice because it gives even greater insight into your personalities and voices with names.

My favorite thing about it is seeing the relationship you have with your children and their excitement for the written word. I often wondered if my family was weird, but it makes me feel better to know we are not alone. Plus, I love that you are not afraid to bring religion and God into your posts. That is very refreshing.

I will miss you. I considered trying to do what you do, but it seemed so overwhelming. I understand needing a break. You are the reason I started the blog for my kids. (Which I am not very good at keeping current anymore.) I notice you visit on occasion. I will stay tuned for more information on your other blog.

P.S. Thanks for mentioning me in the post. It made me feel special. ;)

Anonymous said...

Wow - will miss this blog.
As a parent of slightly younger kids than yours it's been extremly useful to find books my kids might like and put them on my 'goota check out from the library sometime' list. Also have loved some of your art projects and the creativity of your children. I've been inspired to get my 4-year old follow a few examples - she's been busily making mosaics from magazine paper lately.
Looking forward to the new project!

Mary Ann Dames - Reading, Writing, and Recipes said...

I recently found your blog so willl miss you but totally understand. I enjoyed "listening" in on your conversations. I admire how you and your kids interact. I felt like I was an invited eavesdrolpper. I always left smiling. It was a lift to my day. Thanks.

ElizT said...

Thanks for the mention,and yes, I have been with it from the start, coming over from Lemon Chickens Tooty Nuggets, enjoying the chat and pictures every week--Tuesdays, here.
For me the fun is definitely in the interaction.
How about more books from elsewhere, e.g. Britain.
Any plans to include the younger children?
Best wishes for the new developments!

Bethany said...

Hooray for Bookie Woogie! You will be missed, but to be honest, life keeps me busy so sometimes I have to do bulk "catch-ups" so I can't even imagine the time it takes to set this all up.

I'm actually a transplant, I stumbled across the Chicken Nugget Lemon Tooty blog and was enthralled with the art. I wandered around and came across Bookie Woogie. I love the way you include your kids, both in art and in reading. I love hearing their perspectives on the books, with often humorous results. Plus the fan art is always something I enjoy.

Your family is an inspiration to keep kids using their imaginations, showing their creativity in many ways, and encouraging them to keep reading. Thanks for that and thanks for sharing it with us!

Beth said...

I've really enjoyed watching the different kids' reactions to the books. I have kids from 11-7, and it inspired us to try to read more books together. We always love it when Elijah chimes in.

We've found many picture books through you; the latest Caldicott and Ignis are two favorites. I've been following for a few months. I like knowing which kid picked which books. Good luck in whatever you do in the future.

Melanie said...

Thank you, Z-Dad and Z-Kids, for all your hard work in sharing your thoughts and art for the last 90 weeks! I've been following Bookie Woogie since summer 2009, and I enjoy it immensely. I love seeing my old favorites (I used to check out Black and White all the time when i was a kid!) and brand new books (I couldn't rest till I found out what was at the end of Hugo's string!). Your reviews always make me laugh, and make me want to read the book. Your author interviews are an awesome way to reveal the excellent people behind the books you review. I'm really glad you share audio clips of your reviews, too--it's a neat way for us to get to know you!

Isaac, Grace, Lilly, and Elijah, I think my favorite part of your reviews is the fan art you make. You are incredibly creative, and I love your artwork (I visit Chicken Nugget Lemon Tooty, too!). You've inspired me to make my own fan art of some of my favorite books, and to be more creative in general. Thank you so much for sharing your art!

I found Bookie Woogie last summer when I worked at my local library in Kentucky, and it was so helpful in recommending books to the kids and parents there. I now work in a book store in NYC, and I recommend books you've reviewed as well as your blog to parents frequently. So thanks also for giving such great book reviews! It's helped me put a lot of good books in people's hands.

I echo other commentors' suggestions: more nonfiction titles would be good, as well as more chapter books (I loved your review of Anne of Green Gables, one of my old favorites!). I would also love to see more reviews with the individual Z-Kids, like you did in May, because you like such a wide range of books. I can't wait for the return of Bookie Woogie, and I'm excited to see your new blog, too. Thank you so much for all your hard work!

sulicat said...

I've been following you for only a few months, and I love everything you post here. The kids' enthusiasm and humour are fantastic. I look forward to whatever comes next.

Z-Kids said...

Thanks for the great replies coming in! We really appreciate it. It's nice to know what people are thinking :)

Since you've all kindly taken time to respond, I shall do the same for some of the inquiries and notes you've left...

I too enjoyed the time the 3 kids gave their own individual reviews. We'll have to do that some more. It was fun for me, since I hadn't read the books with them. I was learning right along with everyone else.

I enjoy hearing the particular titles mentioned in the comments so far.

I'd love to highlight more books from other countries. At one point in time, we thought about doing that as a little sub-series... "International Picks" perhaps. I know many of the books reviewed here were initially released in other countries and later picked up by American publishers. Suzy Lee's books for instance and Viviane Schwarz'. Millie's Marvellous Hat is a transplant. Even Anne of Green Gables is Canadian of course. I'll have to note such things in the reviews henceforth.

I do assume if we keep it up long enough, the younger kids will get more involved. Elijah is still 4, but is closing in on the age Lily was when we started. He's joined us for many review sessions, but only had noteworthy comments a handful of times. Although, the other day when reading him a bedtime story he pointed to a picture and said "I like how the artist used paint down here in this part of the picture..." Too funny! Obviously he's been watching us, and thinks he's supposed to comment on the illustrations during story time. I fear I'm creating monsters.

Glad to hear how folks have been inspired. Also glad to hear our recommendations are then recommended out into the world to even more people.

I do think we will feature more chapter books when we come back. When the kids were 5, 8, & 10 picture books didn't seem too far of a stretch. But Gracie and Isaac will be 10 & 12 soon. All of us still dearly love picture books - and always will - but chapter books are becoming a bigger and bigger part of our lives as well.

Glad to know we provide a sense of eavesdropping :) My greatest source of inspiration for the blog was the Just One More Book podcast - which did just that: let listeners sit in on candid conversations. Glad we were able to channel that.

Thanks to all our followers - whether longtime or new. During our break there's a big archive to check out in case you've missed any reviews.

I look forward to seeing what else folks would like to say, and I'm happy to address any further inquiries as well :)


R.G. said...

Dear Isaac, Grace, Lilly, and Elijah and Z-Dad, I love checking in to see which book you've reviewed each week. (I found you through Shannon Hale's blog.) You've inspired me to be more thoughtful in the discussions I have with my own kids about the books they love and are reading. Our family also loves your Chicken Nugget Lemon Tooty blog; we now do family trading cards too! Thank you for the sharing your thoughts with us, and I look forward to anything you all decide to share through this blog or another.

Zoe @ Playing by the book said...

I shall miss Bookie Woogie. I loved it's humour and I soon learned that pretty much any book you reviewed here would be one my children and I would enjoy. Whilst several kidlit blogs try to include comments from children when it comes to reviews, Bookie Woogie always felt the most genuine - not the parent's interpretation of what the child said/though, but rather a real voice. (And sometimes it made me think of a great sitcom we have here in the UK - Outnumbered - all about family life and the strangest things kids can say - I don't know how the humour would transplant to the US, but the honest, sometimes leftfield, often funny, always perceptive nature of your kids comments were somewhat akin to the kids in outnumbered) I can't wait to see what your new blog will be!

kostia said...

I've been lurking since near the beginning. I can't say why I never spoke up, but I definitely appreciate the world having more readers in it. I've been so impressed with Isaac's (especially) progress in art.

jenn said...

90 consecutive weeks of Bookie Woogie reviews--WOW! Having started a weekly interview feature on my blog this year and being proud of hanging in there for only 19 weeks and counting so far, I have a sense of how much work you all have put into this blog. You definitely deserve a break and I'm very intrigued to see what you have in the works for your new blog.

I can't remember exactly when I discovered your blog, but I think it was sometime in late 2009. I think what makes Bookie Woogie so enjoyable to me is that you all seem to have a lot of fun discussing books together and creating art for the books. I think as long as you are having fun with what you are doing--whatever you are doing--I will continue to enjoy it.

My favorite part is definitely the conversation aspect and the Z-Kids. You've inspired me to do this same thing when I have children of my own--not necessarily for a blog, but I know as a parent I'll appreciate having some of my book conversations with my children documented. In fact, I wish I'd done this with my niece and nephew!(They are 8 and 10, I suppose it's not too late to start.) I think you do an excellent job of modeling how reading books with children can be a fun and interactive experience.

I also enjoy (and am impressed with) the artwork. That's another place you guys have inspired me--I always get the creative itch when I see the new paintings and drawings you've done.

One of the books that you introduced me to that I wasn't familiar with was THE CUCKOO'S HAIKU. I know there have been many more, but that one in particular sticks out because it was a book that I might have passed over in a bookstore but after your review I sought it out.

Thank you to all of you for providing me with the most entertaining book reviews I've come across in a long time! I look forward to seeing what you do in the future.

Z-Kids said...

Thanks for the feedback! It really does help determine what our return will look like...

The Bookie Woogie fan art has been a lot of fun to make. Even though I only post the kids' pictures, I sit down and make a drawing with them each time too. It's been a lot of fun to experiment with different styles as we try to emulate the week's particular illustrator. The kids have even continued experimenting on their own with the new methods and materials we try out.

I LOVE that all these conversations have been documented. I didn't think about any of that when we started, but the site has become a precious collection of memories. Of course, the best part is that we had any of these conversations in the first place -- but the fact that we can go back and revisit them is a great bonus. I hope the kids get a kick out of these early chats years down the road.

And I agree, it is fun to see the progression over time -- both in the way they talk about the books and in the art they make...

Thanks everyone for continuing to weigh in! It means a great deal to us to know about YOUR experiences with Bookie Woogie too :)


Nina Crittenden said...

I have always loved visiting your delightful blog and marveled at the wit, insights, humor, and creativity. The Z-Kids are darling and it has been great fun watching them grow through their art and in reading their charming commentary! Being short on time myself, I completely respect your need to take a break... and look forward to your return, whenever it shall be.
Wishing you all the best, today as ever. :)

Christine said...

This is my first time commenting! I love this blog! I used to work in a children's bookstore and currently work in a library shelving children's books. I have lots of opinions about the books but I know that they are not written for someone my age. I love this blog because it gives me a chance to hear what kids think. I really value that! It also helps me know what to recommend to other kids. I'm sorry you are leaving but excited for what will come next!

Amy May Yam said...


I love your blog. I work at a Public Library in Children's Services and have been able to use your blog as a resource quite often. I found it while doing an ongoing research project for educators. I have been compiling resources about specific children's titles (mostly Caldecott nominees or runners for this year). Your blog has been a great help as I search for read-a-likes and generate book lists. I added your blog to my RSS feed and have been following you since January. It's also really entertaining how the children's voices come a across. I love the honesty and intelligence of children. It's great to hear their perspective on the books they are reading. That way, when a little girl asks me what I know about "The Quiet Book," for instance, I can say, "Well, I hear that it is quite funny..."

All my best,

hollybookscoops said...

So sad to hear you're taking a break, just as I'm getting set to jump back in. But, I totally understand. I have loved reading your reviews and seeing the art that accompanies. You guys are an inspiration! Best of luck with the new blog. I look forward to that and your return with great anticipation.

Maria said...

As a general rule, I never comment on blogs because that would eat up too much time. I'm a classmate of yours from H.C. who stumbled onto your books at the library, then your website, then Chicken Nugget, then this site ...

My 2 year old adores the Howie books and has them memorized. She also says "hic" every time she hears the hiccups!

I'm always trolling for new reads for her (and me) and appreciate this website for ideas.

Thanks for sharing!

pambelina said...

My big sister Heidi Noel (yes, THAT Heidi Noel) told me about this blog and I've been reading it ever since. I'm an unpublished writer and a mom and I also give a lot of books as gifts so your blog is a great resource when I'm stumped what to buy/read next.

I love that your reviews are always positive. That the kids always have wonderful things to say about the books and the artists. There are too many critical critics out there and it's nice that your kids are so sunny!

ElizT said...

I wonder if you have considered two old favourites of ours:
The Tiger who came to Tea
Mog the Forgetful Cat [series]

Z-Kids said...

I appreciate the time you all have taken to leave us notes! Thanks for the well-wishes. And it's good to know ways we've been of help. We welcome continuing feedback anyone else wants to share - it's helpful!

Thanks for the recommendations ElizT -- we'll look for them!

Pambelina -- Yep, we've intentionally tried to keep Bookie Woogie's focus on books we love. We check out hundreds over the course of the year, and there's no way we can hit all our favorites. Since we only post once a week, we wouldn't want to bump some of those books we love for the sake of bringing critical reviews.

Though, I have to imagine we'd be hard pressed to get many negative comments out of the kids anyway. Truth be told, most kids are simply thrilled when a parent takes time to read with them at all. So right off the bat, the experience is going to be a positive one for them. And our kids REALLY love books - any kind of books. I do guide the selection process a bit -- I usually spread out 10 to 12 titles each time and let them choose one out of the batch. If I didn't, we'd probably be reviewing Strawberry Shortcake 8x8's... the Z-Kids really do love any kind of book :)


Boni Ashburn said...

I miss new Bookie Woogie posts! Gracie's drawing of Kelly Murphy and I being eaten by our dragon characters was one of the highlights of my first book-publishing experience. The honesty of the Z-kids' perspective, both in their art and their comments, always made me think. Loved that!

Laura said...

I don't have kids. I'm not a kid. I love Bookie Woogie. Have a great hiatus. I will look forward to your return

Jacelyn said...

Well, I only discovered you guys about a month or two ago, so I'll use this hiatus to catch up on all the reviews! I started from the beginning this morning, and I'm having so much fun! I love the format of being able to "hear" everyone's contributions, and it's amusing to see personalities come through (Gracie makes me laugh so hard). Keep up the awesome work,and I have no real suggestions other than don't stay away too long!