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Nonfiction Matters
Inside Nonfiction Matters

Sad News

Last Tuesday night, the marvelous Norma Howe passed away. I’d known Norma for decades, ever since an envelop came across my desk at Henry Holt. A manuscript came to me that, I later learned, had gone to 20 different editors — in fact it had been to Holt I believe, before I got there, so […]

Common Core — And Where We All Fit In

Did you see this article in the Times this morning? It is about one high school in Queens that is experimenting with the Common Core standards approach to teaching — as opposed to the NCLB standards that states manipulated in order to arrive at the results that would release federal money. The new standards […]

Expert Witnesses

We’ve been talking here about the possible value of having NF books for younger readers “vetted” by experts as well as reviewed by people whose expertise rests in knowing how young people read. To complicate that story a word of caution is in order. All of you reviewers have been trained to look at the […]


I asked the guests at our Passover seder (seder means “order” — the order of ritual and discussion at the family passover celebration) to bring a story about being trapped and released — personal, mythical, fictional, historical, it did not matter. I picked that theme because the seder is about the story of the Jews […]

Why I Think We All Need to Consider This True-False Question More Carefully

Three articles that I read this weekend point out to me that we have framed this issue of errors in NF incorrectly. The Sunday Times ran a marvelous essay on the question of whether cell phone uses causes brain cancer: The highly readable and thoughtful article shows the many, many ways scientists have gone about […]

Mismatch — The Review Problem

I see a theme lurking in Jim’s posts, and Tanya’s article, and Monica’s new post linking to this discussion: all of you are hinting that there were books that got stellar reviews which you believe had errors, or invented dialog, or in other ways did not deserve the warm reception they received. There is a […]

On Language and War — Updated With Cool Link

This post came out of recent YA reading, but is not directly related to the usual themes of this blog. Last week we read war books in my YA classes — Ryan Smithson’s Ghosts of War; Walter Dean Myers, Sunrise at Falujah, Trent Reedy, Words in the Dust, Harry Mazer, The Last Mission; War Is […]

Audience, Audience — Who Is the New NF Reader?

Jim Murphy added some new thoughts to the Speculative NF discussion this week in his I.N.K. blog He suggests that one reason I’ve been advocating for  this “new knowledge” is that I “wanted his books and those of other New Knowledge practicioners to be seen as equal to and as worthy of serious discussion […]

As We Skype Along Together

Last week two authors, Ryan smithson (Ghosts of War) and Susan Campbell Bartoletti (we were discussing her KKK book) visited my Rutgers class, then I came to meet Mary Ann’s Lesley University class, all by Skype. And over on her blog, Joyce Valenza posted about new interenational Skype tools. This is getting interesting. I’ve noticed […]

Keep Those Cards and Letters Coming

Thank you Mary Ann, Myra, Mark for your suggestion of upper-elementary NF. I’m giving a talk this morning on NF and so the selection criteria — if not the list of examples — is on my mind. I think we might break up NF for these ages into different kinds of books that offer different […]