GooseBottom Books: A real treat!

I’ve recently posted about the fabulous books published by Goosebottom Books that I found at JCLC. The postings included a video of their wonderful interact book, Horrible Hauntings and a review of Qutlugh Terkan Khatun of Kirman. I think it’s time to look behind the books and find out a little more about Goosebottom. I’ve reached out to Shirin Bridges, the Head Goose for just that purpose!

1. Your book Ruby’s Wishwas quite well received! Can you talk a little about what took you from writing to starting Goosebottom Books and entering the publishing world?

Well, the change in career was inspired by my niece. If you know my books, beginning with Ruby’s Wish, they have all been (until my recent ghost book, Horrible Hauntings) about girls who found ways to do their own thing and exceed expectations. So when my niece showed signs of getting caught up in the pink princess craze, I was a little alarmed. “You know that there were princesses who didn’t sit around waiting for a prince, don’t you?” I asked her. I knew, because I’ve always been a history buff. She didn’t know, but she was interested, so we went looking for the books. But to my surprise, we didn’t find them. I was so surprised by how few women find their way onto our children’s bookshelves, so I decided I needed to write these books myself. Then I decided that more than that, I needed to publish these books, in part to ensure that they would come out as a series—that the message would be that there were many of these princesses, across the world and throughout history; that they weren’t isolated aberrations. That’s how Goosebottom Books came about. We published our series “The Thinking Girl’s Treasury of Real Princesses” in October 2010, and followed it with “The Thinking Girl’s Treasury of Dastardly Dames” in October 2011 (this time with the help of many other authors), and have added to both series in 2012. Another series is now in the works for 2014.
2. From where did the name “Goosebottom” come?
I wanted a name that reflected our personality. “Goose” says we publish for children. “Bottom” says we do it with a sense of fun and a little attitude. And “Goosebottom” happens to be a kid-friendly English translation of a nickname given to me by a French-speaking ex-boyfriend, not because of any anatomical amplitude, but because of a certain mental attitude.
3. I’ve noticed that Goosebottom has its own staff of writers. How does that work? Are writers assigned projects? Do they create their own?
We’ve been very blessed with our authors—the geese, as we call ourselves. Many of them have now become personal friends, and there is a real collaborative spirit to Goosebottom Books.
The way we find and work with our authors is, I think, unique. We receive submissions all year ’round, and we file them for later reference. We don’t accept manuscripts—we accept writing samples. When it’s time to find writers for our next list, we review these samples and decide whom we’d like to work with. We then approach those writers with our idea for the next series, and with specific titles for that series. They are asked to pick the top two titles they would like to write, and also asked to suggest other titles for the series that they’d find interesting. We then decide on a final title list, and have so far been able to assign titles so that everyone has been able to write at least one of their top two picks, if not their favorite title.
4. Who has been the most difficult woman to research so far?
I’d say either Qutlugh Terkan Khatun of Kirman or Sorghaghtani of Mongolia. Both have left very faint traces in the historical record—or at least faint in the English language record that I can access. But the traces they left were so compelling, they begged for inclusion on our list. And in Sorghaghtani’s case, I thought that she really brought to light an often forgotten and fascinating point: that the administration of Genghis’ empire was often entrusted to women. Jack Weatherford, in his book The Secret History of the Mongol Queens, writes about Genghis’ daughters who inherited and ruled lands as his sons did. But at one point in history, most of those sons’ lands were also ruled by women. On the death of her husband Tolui, Genghis’ youngest son, Sorghaghtani was formally confirmed as the ruler of his lands (Eastern Mongolia and Northern China)—this despite her having a son old enough to inherit. Similarly, Genghis’ son Chagatai’s power passed to his wife Ebuskan (Central Asia), and Ogodei’s (named Great Khan after Genghis’ death) to his wife Toregene (Western Mongolia). That’s an impressive number of female Heads of State, ruling most of the largest contiguous empire the world has ever known. I don’t think that many people know that this seemingly macho culture had a deep respect for its women.
5.  Horrible Hauntings is one of the most innovative books I’ve seen! How did you all ever come up with such a concept? Do you think Goosebumbs will continue to work in electronic formats?
Thank you! As I write, we have just learnt that we’ve won the Best Children’s Book Award given by the Halloween Book Festival. But the credit for the idea goes to our augmented reality partner, Trigger, and specifically to their President, Jason, who also happens to be my brother. He showed me a project they were working on using the technology and said, “Don’t you think this would make a great ghost book?” The answer was obvious, so we decided to create this experience together.
Whether the book will succeed financially is an open question at the moment. It’s still too early to tell. And the augmented reality component changes all the math, as you can well imagine.
But we’re very pleased to have been able to accomplish something so innovative, and I’m especially pleased that we found a way to make the latest technology bring readers back to the printed book.
After my nieces and nephew went through all the augmented reality ghosts, they actually curled up with the book and read the stories, so they’d know what they’d just seen. That was very rewarding for me, and I’ve spoken to reading specialists who are enthusiastic about this book’s potential when it comes to luring in reluctant readers. If this book has more kids reading, I’m happy. If it has more kids interested in history and nonfiction, I’m happier still. That’s what Goosebottom Books are all about: stealth education.
6. What are some of your upcoming releases?
We have something new in the works, a format we haven’t tried before. I’m not at liberty to disclose what that is at the moment, but stay tuned! Young readers have been asking for this, so we’re going to give them what they’ve asked for.
7. Because I met you at JCLC I have to ask: What does diversity mean to you?
For me, diversity just IS. Having lived and worked around the world, I’ve seen how diverse this world is. I believe that natural, existing diversity needs to be reflected on our bookshelves. Why? Because exposure is key. Only with exposure can we hope for understanding, and only with understanding can we hope for empathy and compassion. And only with empathy and compassion is there hope at all for the world.
Children have no frame of reference except what they’ve been exposed to. When they don’t see women on their book shelves, they think it’s because women haven’t done anything. When they don’t see certain ethnicities, they think those ethnicities haven’t accomplished anything worth publishing. It sets the boundaries for what they think is possible. It sets those boundaries artificially small. The celebration of diversity not only affirms, it empowers.
Shirin, thank you for such an insightful interview. I wish you many future successes!


I woke this morning to news of an earthquake in Canada and an impending tsunami in Hawaii. Thankfully, Hawaii prepared for the worst but damage seems to have been minimal. Let’s wish the same results for the east coast. Here in the middle fall comes and goes. Two days in the 80s this week spoiled me and I, who enjoy the cold, found it difficult to pull out the sweaters once again.

It’s easy to say not much happens in this little ol’ town. I recently joked with someone that the Sundance Award winner “Middle of Nowhere” wouldn’t show here in the middle of nowhere, and it still hasn’t!

This city doesn’t compare to Indy (and that doesn’t compare to Chicago, Atlanta or New York!) but, there are events! Yesterday, I attended the annual India Night and was entertained by Bollywood style dancing, singing and a fashion show. While India definitely was the theme of the evening, it felt more like a global night (the original name of the evening) as people from Pakistan, African, China, Egypt, Algeria, Croatia, the Caribbean and other parts of the world sat in the audience, joined in the dancing and enjoy the festivities. I had a couple of photos to post but WordPress and/or my crappy IP is acting up and won’t let me do it. Sorry!

It amazes me how much occurs in the library! Last week, there were signs of Old England and this week it will be Cinco de Maya. These day long events occur in spaces inside and outside the library. As technology transforms how we locate, access and retrieve information, it is also redefining how we use library space. I recently attended a webinar on makerspaces and found it interesting how public libraries are providing resources for community members to creatively use information to create new products. A recent post on the YALSA blog looks into makerspaces.

Librarian in Black has spent much of last week looking at the use of library space. My library has been creating collaborative workspaces for students. What more can you imagine?

Cynsations  recently linked to an interview with Cassandra Clare on the Racebending blog. Clare discusses diversity in her written work and her efforts to maintain that integrity as the works transform to film.

I’ve been picking up and putting down several books and even that is a real improvement over the little reading I’ve been doing over the past few months. I’m currently reading Never Fall Down by Patricia McCormick and  enjoy how she’s developed the narrative voice. Never Fall Down is a May release that is gaining a bit of attention.

I’ve been looking at the numbers and will not be surprised if we see a real drop in the number of children’s books written by authors of color this year. As I post the releases each month, I’m continually disappointed in the numbers. And, there are so few new authors of color this year! Scoot on over to the BrownBookShelf blog and nominate a black author for this February’s 28 Days Later! Last day to nominate is 2 November.

I hope you have something good to read and a safe, warm place to read it this week!

review: Qutugh Terkan Khatum of Kirman

title: Qutlugh Terkan Khatun of Kirman
author: Shirin Yim Bridges
illustrator: Albert Nguyen
date: Goosebottom Books, 2010

Qutlugh Terkan Khatun of Kirman is an award winning volume in the Thinking Girl’s Treasury of Real Princesses. Qutlugh ruled in Kiman, a region in Persia. Rescued from enslavement as a child, her benefactor educated her and treated her quite well. Qutlugh lived a fortunate life, becoming a princess and a ruler of many people, She acquired much power and used it to benefit others. Her story reads quite different from other rulers who manipulate and murder to maintain their positions.

In reading her story, we learn much about the Persian culture and how different Qutlugh’s life was from ours. The story is documented with some photos that are well placed throughout to emphasize important details while others add background details. It’s eye-opening to realize how few details are left about this woman who ruled for 26 years.

other books in this series

Male Monday: Earl Sewell

Earl Sewell’s name is almost synonymous with Kimani Tru. He’s written seven novels with this imprint and his books featuring Keysha and her crew are always highly anticipated by teen girls. Sewell was featured this past February as part of the BrownBooksShelf’s 28 Days Later series.

In telling his story there he says

“I worked for a public library in my early twenties, which is where I first encountered the works of Zora Neale Hurston, Richard Wright and James Baldwin. Up until that time, I did not realize that African American writers even existed. My unawareness was a result of my suburban upbringing. After reading the works of those writers, I searched the book shelves for more authors. I found Alice Walker, Terry McMillian and a host of other authors who inspired me. One of the highlights of my career took place in 2009. While on a book tour, in St. Louis, I had an opportunity to share the spotlight with Terry McMillan whose works I’d always admired.”

Click ro read from Sewell’s latest book!

In the past 14 years, Sewell has released 18 books, 11 adult and 7 teen fiction. As part of this year’s Summer Teen series, Sewell was asked why he likes writing for teens.

“I love the feedback I receive from teen readers. I constantly get emails from readers expressing how much they love the series and its characters. Readers always want to know when I’ll be finished with the next installment. I can’t seem to write the novels fast enough for them.”

And with that, I’d have to agree! My high school students loved those books!

on Twitter:

on Facebook:



Lists and Piles

Piles and piles of books!!!

piled on my coffee table

Some have been piling up on my coffee table. I won one from Cynsations, received some from Lee and Low and bought others.

Thank you, Goosebottom Books!!

I also received a wonderful pile from Goosebottom Books!! I’ll be reviewing these over the next few weeks and interviewing the publisher as well. I don’t have a copy of their newest books (yet!) but it is one of the absolutely coolest books I have seen! It’s featured in this YouTube video.



The BrownBookShelf has begun collecting author suggestions for the 2013 28 Days Later list. They are looking for African American children’s authors and illustrators they’ve not yet featured. Visit their site for a reminder of who they have interviewed over the years and then add a few. They’re accepting names through 3 November.

Liz B over at a Chair, Fireplace and Teacozy recently sparked a conversation about gender balance and YA. I found the post particularly interesting as I’ve recently proposed a presentation on the topic myself. Liz B asks what really is the question, what is driving all the discussion about male vs. female authors/ protagonists/authors in YA fiction and she leads her readers to lady business’s post Gender Balance in YA Award Winners Since 2000. There are so few male writers of color in YA! Does this influence young men of color and their interest in reading? Is it the lack of male protagonists, or do these things not matter? Is the male voice of consequence in YA literature?



Libraries Fellows, 2013-2015, Raleigh North Carolina

The Libraries seeks a diverse pool of applicants with ALA-accredited M.L.S. or M.I.S. degrees awarded between September 2012 and August 2013. The NCSU Libraries Fellows program offers a unique opportunity to a select group of M.L.S. and M.I.S. graduates who will receive the degree between September 2012 and August 2013. Fellows will be appointed at the rank of librarian for a two-year term from July 2013 through June 2015. An option for January or September placement may be available, depending upon graduation date. The NCSU Libraries is particularly well known for its digital library programs, its technological advances, and its commitment to defining the future of librarianship. The NCSU Libraries offers Fellows the opportunity for rapid professional growth through assignment to one of the Libraries’ strategic initiatives, combined with experience and mentoring in a department. ALA-accredited MLS or equivalent advanced degree is required. Review of applications is underway; position will remain open until a suitable candidate is found. See vacancy announcement with application instructions at

AA/OEO. NC State welcomes all persons without regard to sexual orientation. For ADA accommodations, please call (919) 515-3148.

as posted on LIBJOBS

October New Releases

I haven’t (completely) forgotten to post October releases by authors of color. I’ve wanted to devote more time to looking as I cannot believe there are only 7 books! October has one of the longest lists in general for YA, yet on 7 by authors of color??  Nonetheless, we’ve got repeat performances by some talented writers and I expect each of these to prove to do quite well. Here’s hoping!

October releases on Pinterest

January- October 2012 releases by authors of color on the blog page