Happy 5th Birthday Little Bloggy Wog!
Five years ago, I had a notion. I’d read enough articles in SLJ to get an idea of what a blog was and could be. So on February 7, 2006 I started my own. Here’s what I said:
Yeah. That whole “a review a day” thing sort of ended when I realized that . . . well . . . that I’m not insane in the membrane. And I learned fairly fast not to use the term “kiddie lit” or even “kid lit” ever again, since it’s considered a dismissive term in academic circles.
Still and all, it was a start. And as I went I got more confident in my abilities to write and post thoughts on various children’s literary issues. Folks started to read me too, which was a bit of a shocker since I wasn’t entirely certain whether I myself believed half the things I posited.
I realized early on that I needed to have a “hook” to get people interested in the first place. Thus the Hot Men of Children’s Literature series was born. Now long defunct, HMOCL was what put this gal on the map. It was weird. It was different. It fell trippingly off the tongue. Folks have assumed that I stopped the series after some squeamish folks told me it was disrespectful. Not at all. The truth of the matter is that I started getting submissions from men . . . of themselves. And there is no way that I have ever found to tell a gentleman that he isn’t, as we say, hot. Nor the wives who submitted their husbands as well. It began to turn into a strange marketing tool, and that was just unpleasant. But in the beginning, it was pure and good. I maintain we’ll get a calendar out of it someday.
And generally speaking, people were incredibly kind to me. Check out this anonymous little gift that arrived in the mail when the blog was just two or three years of age:
Ain’t he sweet? He’s my little Fuseman and he guards the door to my office as we speak. Later it turned out that he was the product of illustrator Katherine Tillotson who harbors an enormous wealth of creativity.
I was also tapped in June of 2006 to fill in on the Newbery committee, in part because of the blog. You can read my old recap of that time here. At that time ALSC had not yet revised their rules regarding blogging, and Fuse #8 got more attention that it might have as a result. I pumped up the volume in October too when I posted a letter someone had written to me regarding the usefulness of SCBWI. That post got 66 comments, the most I’d had to date.
I had begun the blog on Blogger, which was a perfectly nice place to be. Yet in 2007 SLJ started wondering if I might want to blog on their site instead. It was a generous offer but I had many concerns. Would I own my own content? Would everything have to be vetted? What about my reviews? Would folks confuse the reviews I wrote on my SLJ blog with the official SLJ reviews out there? To each of these concerns, SLJ gave me a happy answer that pleased me considerably (yes, no, no). So it was that in June of 2007 I moved. For a time I kept the old Blogger site running as a place for my podcasts, but the sheer amount of energy a podcast took out of me sapped my energy down to a nub. From here on it, we’d be all SLJ blogging, all the time.
Since that move we’ve been a good fit for one another. I wrote my first post here and after we worked out a few kinks (remember the bouncing Atherton banner ad of death?) all was well. There have been a couple minor scandals since I arrived, most notably the Amazon VINE program (lesson learned: If you criticize a group with its own message board, you’re just asking for it). But generally speaking we’ve kept it low key, my blog and I.
Now there’s a new little arrival due in my home in June. My blog’s going to have to contend with its greatest challenge yet: A little Bird. I have faith that I’ll be able to balance them both, but it’ll mark a new shift in the blogging atmosphere, that’s for certain.
In the meantime, I’d like to thank those of you out there who have followed me since the beginning, and to also thank y’all who have joined along the way.
Here’s to at least another five years down the road!
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About Betsy Bird
Betsy Bird is currently the Collection Development Manager of the Evanston Public Library system and a former Materials Specialist for New York Public Library. She has served on Newbery, written for Horn Book, and has done other lovely little things that she'd love to tell you about but that she's sure you'd find more interesting to hear of in person. Her opinions are her own and do not reflect those of EPL, SLJ, or any of the other acronyms you might be able to name. Follow her on Twitter: @fuseeight.
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