BookExpo America is taking place this week in New York City, an event originally for booksellers, librarians, and K-12 teachers, now open to anyone who wants to browse new books and meet some of the authors. On Friday is the book blogger convention, and those of us who aren’t attending are meeting a few new book bloggers virtually, through Armchair BEA. Today I'm being interviewed by Jen Vincent over at Teach Mentor Texts, where she is especially interested in recommendations for young readers.
And today I'd like to introduce you to a blogger new to me--although she's been blogging about books in some form or another since before other book blogs even existed--Callista at SMS Book Reviews, specializing in non-fiction and children's books. This is her first interview!
Why did you choose the name “Callista” for your blog?
Way back in the late 90s when I was looking for an online name to use, the name Callista just sort of came to me. I didn't know of Calista Flockhart at the time and in fact I didn't pronounce it that way. I pronounced it KA-LEESE-TA. However so many people have said it KA-LISS-TA that now I use both ways. I don't know what it means or why the name came to me but that's how most names come to me (pet names, nick names etc..)
What made you start blogging when you were only 19?
I had my own website (on geocities) since I was 15 and then I started doing book reviews on my website for Pagan books. Then I found Amazon and liked the idea of having more people see my reviews and vote on them so I transfered them all there and kept reviewing. Then they came up with the rule that you had to have purchased from them to post reviews and I didn't have a credit card so I couldn't put my reviews there anymore. Soon after I found some blogs and decided that was a good place to put my reviews. So in 2003 I started a blog but posted my reviews back to 2001. Then I slowly added reviews whenever the mood striked. It wasn't till 2007 that I found book blogs and realized other people put reviews on their blogs and really got into it with challenges and memes and frequent posts. Since I didn't start blogging frequently till 2007, I'm not sure when to consider it my blogiversary! I suffer from a mental illness and when it strikes hard, blogging (and most other things) are the last things on my list so it suffers. Those periods of inactivity are mental illness. Also now I keep up more than one blog so each one gets posted to less often. I've been working on a schedule to keep me constant which worked for March and the beginning of April but then I slacked off. Hoping to fix that again.
Your reviews are very brief—who do you picture as your ideal reader?
I don't consider my reviews very brief except for the ones 2007 and before because I was new to book reviewing and was just getting the hang of it. Picture book reviews are short as there just isn't that much to say and I have a harder time reviewing fiction so they are a little shorter. My nonfiction reviews are quite long, some really long, depending on how indepth I get. I've seen blogs whose book summaries are longer than their thoughts, those to me would be very brief. My ideal reader would be adults who love nonfiction (especially parenting, psychology, life, self-help and religion) and adults who either have kids or who read kids books themselves.
If you could recommend one book about parenting to all parents, which one would it be, and why?
I would say The N.D.D. Book: How Nutrition Deficit Disorder Affects your Child’s Learning, Behavior, and Health, and What you Can Do About It—without Drugs by Dr. William Sears would be an important read for all parents. With the amount of overweight and obese children (and adults) in the world today, I think this is an important read. Even adults who don't have kids could use the information for themselves. The review speaks for itself. Highly recommended.
Are your favorite picture books also your childrens’ favorites, or do they have different tastes?
We have different tastes. The ones they want read a lot are okay to me but not spectacular and the ones I really like they think are okay. However they don't have any that we read over and over again like most kids do.
If you could name one book that you wish all parents would read or recommend to their children, would it be a book for older readers like Parrot in the Oven: Mi Vida, or a book for younger readers?
I would have to recommend The Pigman and The Pigman's Legacy by Paul Zindel for all children to read and perhaps discuss with their parents. I read The Pigman in school and The Pigman's Legacy in 2007. There is a third book in the series but I have not read that yet. They carry very important lessons. If you want to link my recommendation to my review:
Why are you not going to NYC for BEA?
I wish I was but I just don't have the money to travel anywhere. If it was just the cost to get in maybe but of course you have to pay to get there and somewhere to stay and food to eat.