My Bio

My Bio
My name is Sharon Levin and I've been reviewing children's literature for 20 years. I founded and run the Bay Area Children's Literature List. My biggest passion (outside my family) is getting books into the hands of children and teens. My favorite thing is getting non-readers to realize that they're readers. I also LOVE t-shirts that have to do with books or literature. As soon as I figure out how to do it, I'll have a click through on the above picture so you can see my entire collection (and where to get them).

April 28, 2013

The Path to College (a request! WOW!!)

Hi all,

For those who don't know (since I have not gotten my act together and done the bio part of the blog yet), I founded and am Minister of Communication of the Bay Area Children's Literature List (and yes, I want a click through to sign up members, but I'm still a newbie, so I'm still working on it).  This list has been going on for well over a decade, so while it mainly has posts related to the children's literature world, occasionally I'll go into the personal.

Last year at this time I sent a post regarding my daughter Elise's journey to college.  One of my listees requested that I use it as a blog post (that was SO COOL!!  Thank you!)  So, you have her to credit (or blame) for this.

Here it is as it was sent to the list:

Some of you have known my kids since they were babies, some came in later, but those who have met my daughters have always been so sweet to them and interested in them that I thought I'd share with you the Elise College Process.  She really has become the best example of making sure you get all the info before picking a school and don't think you know what you want before you look.

Here's her journey:

I want to go to school in Manhattan. 

I will NOT go to school in California

Manhattan is too overwhelming.  I'm NOT going to school in Manhattan.

I will go to school in California, it's between Davis and Berkeley.

I HATE Berkeley!

I'm going to Berkeley.

The entire process was without any pressure from us (okay, she'd disagree with that).  We wanted her to choose the right school for her.    She LOVED Davis when she visited (as did I, we found a great independent bookstore and a restaurant with a large gluten-free menu)  She hated Berkeley on Cal Day and decided to go one more time to check out Psych classes.  She met the nicest students, realized that the Berkeley Psych Dept. is ONE THIRD the size of Davis' (meaning more opportunities for internships), sat in on a Psychology of Happiness class and decided Berkeley was where she wanted to be (one week before the decision deadline).

All I can say is, Phew.

As a p.s.  Elise is entering 'Dead Week' at Berkeley next week with finals after that.  It has truly been a fantastic fit for her and given that there were two emergency room runs (if there is a germ, it will find Elise - and considering that Elise's dorm has gender neutral bathrooms, there are many germs) and various ailments it was good to have her close to home.  AND, before anyone flames me, I have no issues with gender neutral bathrooms, I am delighted that Berkeley has these.  It's just that Elise has seen boys' (let's point fingers here) dirty footprints coming OUT of the shower.  Okay?  All I can say is, eeeewww. (but to keep it balanced, Elise's half of her dorm room qualifies as a bio-hazard).

April 23, 2013

A Tribute to E.L. Konigsburg, a Wonderful Author and Lovely Woman

Mrs. Konigsburg passed away this last weekend, the literary and physical worlds have lost a wonderful person.

Mrs. Konigsburg will always have a very, very special place in my heart.  She can be credited (or blamed) for turning me into an author groupie.

This is something I sent to my Bay Area Children's Literature list 9 years ago, and I'm making it my second blog post, because I got off my booty and finally started this blog because I wanted to pay tribute to her.


Soooo, years ago (almost 41 to be precise) I was reading "About the B'Nai Bagels" right before we were going to Jacksonville, Florida to visit my grandmother. My father picked up my book and said, "Look, this author lives in Jacksonville, you should give *him* a call when you visit Grandma."  (Looking at my old copy of BB I realize it does say she on the book flap, but guess we didn't look THAT closely.)

Anyway, we got to Jacksonville and one day I went into my grandmother's bedroom, closed the door (I didn't want anyone to know what I was doing, just felt kind of embarrassed) and called.  A woman answered the phone and I asked if this was the home of E.L. Konigsburg and she said 'yes'.  I asked if I could please speak to E.L. Konigsburg and she said "speaking". 

I told her what a big fan I was and that I wanted to call her while we were visiting my grandmother.  She invited my mother and me over to visit!!!  I was in seventh heaven!!

We got to go to her house, sit in her living room and chat.  I remember looking up and seeing two large oil portraits on the wall and I said, "That's Claudia and Jamie!"  Sure enough, they were paintings she had done of two of her children, the two who served as the models for the drawings in "From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler"

She had just published "A Proud Taste of Scarlet and Miniver" and told us a bit about it (I had never heard of Eleanor of Acquitaine - so it was fascinating AND educational) :-)

It was a wonderful, delightful afternoon and I still remember her warmth and openness to two complete strangers.

My mother, who had happily taken me to meet my heroine that day, only lived another three years, until I was 13 years old.  To tie this together a bit more, my mother died from pancreatic cancer.  Years later, Mrs. Konigsburg would lose both her husband and her editor to the same horrific disease.

Fast forward from age 10 to age 34,  I called her again to interview her for a children's literature course I was taking.  She remembered me and even remembered who some of my 'mother's people' were (this is the south after all) :-)

SO, I felt as if we had come in a bit of a circle when on March 20th,(2004) Mrs. Konigsburg (cannot think of her as Elaine, there's that Southern influence again) came and spoke at the annual Otter Dinner put on by the Northern California Children's Booksellers' Association.  At that dinner, I introduced her to MY 10 year old daughter (who had just finished reading "About the B'Nai Bagels) who is named Elise after my much loved mother, Elsie (who would have completely understood our rearranging the letters of her name and not actually saddling a child born in 1994 with the name Elsie) :-)

Mrs. Konigsburg was just as warm and gracious as I remembered her and introducing her to Elise brought tears to my eyes.  It is a moment that Elise and I will both remember (and I'm sure Grandma Elsie was there somewhere as well) for a very, very long time.

Thanks for letting me share.


April 22, 2013


After making sure that I retain my title as Queen of Procrastination, I am FINALLY launching my blog.  (This was set up almost two years ago, sigh.)

I've been reviewing children's literature for 17 years, reading it for 48 (never stopped not even in those years between being a child and having children) and love talking about it and 'evangelizing' for books that I'm passionate about.

However, life in general often gives me things to muse about, so I won't be just talking about books, there will be a lot of life happening too.  Hopefully, this will also mean laughter.

I hope you enjoy reading this blog.  I will (once I figure out how to do things) be vetting comments, since, while I do not mind if people disagree with me, I don't want to allow even a nanosecond (yes, I'm married to an engineer, why do you ask?) of hate speech on my page.  If you disagree respectfully, you'll be posted. 

If you have hints, since I have obviously never done those before, I'd love to hear them.  Just be kind, since I'm a newbie. 

Okay.  Here goes....