Seven Impossible Interviews Before Breakfast #59: Tasha Saecker of Kids Lit

h1 December 12th, 2007 by jules

It truly is some kind of small crime that we have not yet interviewed Tasha Saecker in our ongoing blogger interview series. We have no hard-and-fast rhyme or reason to whom we interview when, but Tasha’s blog about children’s lit, Kids Lit, is practically a dinosaur in the kidlitosphere, considering the very young age of many blogs. Kids Lit is approximately five years old, which doesn’t sound like much, but that’s considered ancient in the kidlitosphere; you’ll see in the interview below that Tasha states that there were very few blogs about children’s lit when she began hers: “I think there were about five of them when I started,” she told us. It’s for this reason that Tasha was the perfect blogger to present on the basics of kidlit blogging at the recent 1st Annual Kidlitosphere Conference in Chicago. She started us all off with a talk on how to get started blogging, how to do reviews, what blog formats seem to work best, etc.

It’s also for this reason — as well as her consistent, smart book reviews, of course — that she has influenced many other bloggers. Many of the kidlitosphere bloggers we’ve featured in our interview series have cited Tasha’s Kids Lit blog as being an inspiration of one sort or another: Kelly Herold of Big A little a; Sheila Ruth of Wands and Worlds; Jen Robinson; and Betsy Bird of A Fuse #8 Production, to name a few. In fact, at the risk of sounding very This Is Your Life (which means, you know, that you’ll just have to shed a tear — and dramatically — at some point, Tasha), we thought we’d ask some of them to include some thoughts on Tasha and her blog. Here’s what they had to add to our interview today:

“When School Library Journal featured children’s literary blogs in an article, none of the blogs featured could hold a candle to Tasha’s. She was the one who knew how to find the best information on the widest possible array of topics. I still check Kids Lit almost daily. I consider it to be a staple in my children’s literary online diet. If you read any one with regularity, read KidsLit.” — Betsy Bird, A Fuse #8 Production

“If it weren’t for Tasha, I’d be just another dried-up Mommy blogger hustling the mean back alleys of the Internet, whispering, ‘Hey, Daddy, wanna read about my kid’s spit-up?’ Tasha saved my life. She really did.” — Anne Boles Levy, Book Buds

“Shortly after I began blogging nearly three years ago, I found Kids Lit and that Tasha had been at it a year longer than I had. I was a little intimidated at first. Kids Lit is a first-class blog. What impresses me most about Kids Lit is Tasha’s skill at the short book review and the varied content she posts. Tasha posts news and reviews of children’s books from baby books through teen. I also really appreciate Tasha’s professionalism. Her blog is nicely designed and archived: She keeps the reader in mind.” — Kelly Herold, Big A little a

“I was reading Tasha’s Kids Lit blog long before I started blogging. Not only was she an inspiration to me, but when I contacted her for advice about blogging, she encouraged me to start and made me feel welcome. I’m thrilled to be working with her on the Cybils Fantasy and Science Fiction nominating committee. She’s a dedicated, passionate, and thoughtful reader and a pleasure to work with.” — Sheila Ruth, Wands and Worlds

Kids Lit is your source for reviews of children’s titles, as well as “news and occasional rantings about book banning,” as Tasha put it. Tasha’s reviews are short (a nice touch for readers in a hurry), but don’t assume that short means shallow, ’cause Tasha manages to get right to the heart of why a book works in a few short paragraphs (as Kelly Herold already pointed out). She also always wraps up her posts with recommended age ranges and information such as whether a book is a good fit for a group read-aloud or particular units of study, etc. Yup, she’s a librarian to the core!

We always ask interviewees about blog titles, and here’s what Tasha said about Kids Lit:

Ah, the blog title. Everyone has such great ones! Mine is simple and plain because I have been around longer than cool blog titles. I love to think that if I was starting a blog now I would come up with a more glam title, but perhaps this is best. My punning has been known to get out of control!

Many thanks to Tasha for stopping by to chat with us. It might sound like a bit much, but we feel like kidlitosphere royalty has come to visit. We hope we behaved well, didn’t slurp our cyber-tea too loudly, used proper etiquette, that kind of thing — oh, and that we didn’t embarrass her too much. ‘Cause we have as much respect for her as, very obviously, a whole handful of other bloggers do.

One more thing. A moment for our Perfunctory Curse Word Disclaimer, an oldie but goodie we haven’t typed in a while: Remember that we use the Pivot Questionnaire in our interviews. Remember that it includes the what-is-your-favorite-curse-word question. It’s optional for folks to answer, but if they do, we will not edit their responses in any way; yup, we’ll post their responses exactly as they send them to us. Some people might not use “*”s to edit their saucy words. If you’re easily offended, just don’t read that question.

Without further ado, here’s Tasha . . .

* * * * * * *

7-Imp: What do you do for a living?

Tasha: I am the library director at the Elisha D. Smith Public Library in Menasha, Wisconsin. I’ve been the director at Menasha for 1.5 years and was a library director at a smaller town in Wisconsin before that for 11 years. I started out in libraries as a children’s and teen librarian and was able to continue doing children’s work until I took this job in Menasha. Luckily, I have my blog to keep me in touch with the children’s literature trends that I would otherwise miss out on.

7-Imp: How long have you been blogging?

Tasha: I started blogging on my other blog, Sites & Soundbytes almost five years ago. And I started Kids Lit about six months after that.

7-Imp: Why did you start blogging? Why do you continue to do it?

Tasha: I started blogging because I realized it was an easy way to me to maintain my collection of websites. I had been struggling with HTML and updating lists and it was painful! Blogging made it so much easier.

Then I read on several library blogs that it would be nice if there were more niche blogs for librarians and I started my Kids Lit blog. There were very few KidsLit blogs around back then, and none of them had a public librarian point-of-view. I think there were about five of them when I started.

I also have a Library 2.0 blog called Winnefox 2.0 where I blog about new technologies in libraries. It is aimed primarily at the librarians in my library system, but anyone is welcome to subscribe.

And, as if that wasn’t enough blogging, our library website is now blog-based. I have an active Director’s blog there.

I continue to blog, because otherwise I would have to stop! Blogging is a huge part of how I stay in touch professionally and how I can contribute to the larger conversation. Plus, I am blogging about what I love and that means it’s not a chore to blog.

7-Imp: Which blog or site would you take to the prom to show off and you love it so much you could marry it?

Tasha: It would have to be a double date with Fuse #8 and Read Roger. Those two have such amazing perspectives on children’s lit. I love their knowledge, their snarkiness, and their passion. What better qualities could a girl ask for?

7-Imp: What are your other favorite things to do, other than reading and blogging?

Tasha: I love video games and TV. I enjoy playing World of Warcraft, and I am completely obsessed with a Puzzle Quest on my Nintendo DS right now. I am just barely staying a few levels ahead of my ten-year-old son {Tasha is pictured here with her first son, just a few minutes old. She says it’s one of her favorite pictures}. As for TV, I enjoy all sorts of shows. My current favorites are Pushing Daisies and Women’s Murder Club, but I also love cooking shows and reality shows like Project Runway. I know, not stereotypical librarian fare!

I also love to bake. Luckily, I have two sons and a husband who will even try my mistakes. I once made the best waffles in the entire world but had measured stuff all wrong and have no idea what I did to get them that great. I don’t do fancy food, just kid-friendly stuff. I make a mean chocolate chip, whole wheat muffin. They kept my youngest son going for years, because they are all he’d eat.

7-Imp: What’s one thing that most people don’t know about you?

Tasha: I’m way into organic food and living green. I belong to a CSA where organic local food is delivered right to the library’s door once a week, even in the winter. Our house has good passive solar light and we plan to add solar panels in the future. My project for next summer is to get a good compost pile going at our new house.

7-Imp: What’s in heavy rotation on your stereo/iPod lately?

MikaTasha: I love Mika. I am also listening to Five For Fighting lately. But then my iTunes will also suddenly start playing my favorite Sesame Street songs so it can get a little odd in my office. A little Joe Raposo can brighten any day.

7-Imp: If you could have three (living) authors over for coffee or a glass of rich, red wine, whom would you choose?

Tasha: Let’s see. Invitations would go out to Lois Lowry, because her books are so worth chatting about; Jack Prelutsky for a large touch of humor; and Tamora Pierce, because we could talk for hours about strong girls in novels.

The Pivot Questionnaire:

7-Imp: What is your favorite word?

Tasha: “Mom”, though my staff would say it is “chat,” because I am always stopping by to chat about things. Much less formal than having a talk or discussion.

7-Imp: What is your least favorite word?

Tasha: The c-word.

7-Imp: What turns you on creatively, spiritually, or emotionally?

Tasha: Connecting with people, with the world, with ideas.

7-Imp: What turns you off?

Tasha: War, disconnect, and hate.

7-Imp: What is your favorite curse word? (optional)

Tasha: “Shit.”

7-Imp: What sound or noise do you love?

Tasha: The sound of my kids coming home from school, filling the quiet of the house with sudden noise.

7-Imp: What sound or noise do you hate?

Tasha: Doors slamming shut.

7-Imp: What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?

Tasha: Teacher. Both my parents are teachers, and I would have liked to try it.

7-Imp: What profession would you not like to do?

Tasha: Soldier. I am a pacifist and simply could not do it.

7-Imp: If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?

Tasha: “Wanna ride again?”

20 comments to “Seven Impossible Interviews Before Breakfast #59: Tasha Saecker of Kids Lit

  1. It’s a pleasure to learn more about Tasha, whose blog I’ve been reading and looking up to since I first had an inkling that there were kid lit blogs. Blogging about children’s books has changed my life, and I’m so grateful to Tasha for lighting the way.

    I especially liked Tasha’s response about why she continues to blog: “I continue to blog, because otherwise I would have to stop! Blogging is a huge part of how I stay in touch professionally and how I can contribute to the larger conversation. Plus, I am blogging about what I love and that means it’s not a chore to blog.” I feel EXACTLY the same way (well, except for the keeping in touch professionally part, since it doesn’t help me that much with my day job).

    Thanks, Jules and Eisha! And Tasha, I’ll be reading.

  2. OH MY WORD!!
    I was thinking, “Oh, I’ve never even heard of this blog, how can I be so lame?!” and then I realized OOHHHH, IT’S THE GREENLAKE LIBRARY BLOG CHICK!!!!! I thought that was only a blog I knew about that blog! I LOVE IT (and, yeah, okay, I am using way too many exclamation points!!). THANK YOU TASHA! Your book recommendations have been — amazing for me, for AGES.

    YAY, you! And YAY 7 Imp Grrlz for once again putting a name and a face to internet AWESOMENESS!

  3. Oy. See what over-exclamation pointing will get you? In the name of coherence, I repeat: I thought it was a blog only I knew about. Obviously THAT was wrong. (And badly garbled.)

  4. You all have me in tears. What a warm and wonderful community to belong to! Off to gather more tissues…

  5. Tasha,
    I have been reading your blogs (and book marking the GREAT links!) for ages. I love your short and to-the-point posts! Keep up the good work!

  6. Tasha/ Kid Lit was my inspiration that a blog could be professional, yet have an engaging voice. And it set a model in terms of what to write about, how to write it, and keeping it up to date. I especially loved that it was a library blog.

  7. I knew I loved Tasha’s blog for its content and wit, but I had no idea she was so cute on top of it all!

  8. Great interview! Tasha, I love your answer to the Pearly Gates question! And I’m a Pushing Daisies fan, too. It’s a pleasure working with you on the Cybils.

    jules and eisha, thanks for doing these interviews and giving us all a chance to get to know each other better.

  9. Our pleasure, Sheila and everyone else. It was fun getting to know Tasha better.

    I love that second pic, too. It doesn’t matter to me if I’ve never even met the person; I love seeing mamas-with-their-newborns pics, knowing first-hand that that’s The Best Moment Ever Ever Ever, even after all the pain (my favorite depiction of it is Carol Burnett’s “having a baby is like taking your bottom lip and pulling it over your head”). If I just think about the moment my daughters were handed to me, I get all teary-eyed, blast it.

    And then I see others’ pics, like Tasha’s, and think I want another baby (but then after I hear my girls squabble, I think, perhaps I should just find a neighbor with a baby or ask a cousin to have one I can cuddle and send back. Heh).

    I also love Tasha’s eclectic taste in music.

  10. I’ve been visiting Kids Lit on a regular basis, but I had no idea that Tasha was the Grande Dame of the Kidlitosphere. Five years is a long time in this business. Thanks for publishing this interview!

  11. Hey you guys, I get to work with Tasha everyday – she’s as fun & smart & savvy in person as her blog indicates! Glad 7-imps did the interview of a truly remarkable woman.

  12. Tasha has been inspiring me since I began blogging. Hers was the only other kidlit blog that I could find back then. Lovely interview!

  13. Okay: obviously I need to have my head (eyes? Ears?) examined… just realized I’ve been working with the same Tasha ALL THIS TIME on the Cybils SciFi/Fantasy team. Way to put two and two together, huh?

    THANK YOU. Tasha is so cool, and this was a great interview.

  14. Thanks, Alkelda, but — to be clear — there are some kidlit blogs that are older, I believe. Didn’t Camille’s begin in ’04? No big deal ….just want to make sure I don’t slight anyone.

  15. Jules– It’s too bad my husband’s blog isn’t a kidlit blog, because he started his in 2000! 🙂 Earlier than that, he had a small website that was dedicated to Smilla’s Sense of Snow. I remember a lot of those early Netscape websites, especially with all of their “Site under construction” graphics. Oh yes, and the abundance of spinning graphics. But I digress…

  16. TadMack, you crack me up!

    Alkelda, and don’t forget the blink tag! (Although I’d like to.)

  17. (Tanita: You are cracking me up in this comment thread!)

    Yay for Tasha and KidsLit. That mother and child photo is just beautiful.

  18. Sheila and Alkelda, what about the marquee tag! Seriously, I think it’s considered tacky and outdated and not-cool-old-skool and all that, but I’ve used it TWICE already at 7-Imp. It’s too fun.

  19. See what I mean? It’s even fun a second time! Mwahahahahahahahahahaha!

    Okay, for serious, reading entire sentences that way is not fun.

  20. It was so much fun learning more about one of my fellow Cybils panelists! Thanks, guys.

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