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Results 26 - 50 of 134,865
26. Tony Awards Fashion Poll

Which Dress Would You Wear to the Tony Awards?

The Tony Awards ceremony (officially known as Antoinette Perry Awards for Excellence in Theatre) was on Sunday. The awards recognize actors and singers in live Broadway shows, and Hamilton fan that I am, you KNOW I was watching! Which dress would YOU wear if you were nominated for a Tony?

Tony Awards

Photos by Larry Busacca, Theo Wargo, and Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for Tony Awards Productions

Vote for your favorite dress in the Comments.

Sonja

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27. Debbie--have you seen THE CASE OF THE PORTRAIT VANDAL by Steve Brezenoff

This particular "Debbie--have you seen" is here, not because someone asked me about it, but because it was recommended on child_lit a few days ago because it has an Ojibwe character.

The character in The Case of the Portrait Vandal is "Raining Sam" as shown in the synopsis:

There's a vandal in the Capitol City Museum of American History, and he or she is intent on defacing priceless artifacts. Raining Sam, the son of the Head of Educational Programs and local Ojibwe tribe member, is determined to get to the bottom of things before anything else can be destroyed. But when Raining himself is considered a suspect, he and his friends must race against the clock to unmask the real culprit and solve the museum mystery before it's too late.

The name, "Raining Sam" and then "Raining" as his first name throughout is a bit of a stumbling block for me. But I do like this part about Wilson (Raining's friend):
Wilson knew about Raining's interest in American history, especially the history of his own people, the Ojibwe. The tribe had been on the continent known as North America a lot longer than some other people.
I also like the part where Wilson can tell that their two friends are approaching because Wilson knows what their footsteps sound like (p. 15):
"Amazing," said Raining, standing up from his spot at the table. "And people think we're supposed to be the trackers." It bugged Raining that people he met still assumed certain things about North America's indigenous people."
The book is part of a mystery series starring four kids whose parents work in museums. Here's a screen capture of them. On the far left is Wilson. Next to him is Amal. By her is Clementine, and, that's Raining on the far right.



Published in 2015 by Capstone, there's a copy of The Case of the Portrait Vandal on the new books shelf in my local library. I'll be back when I get a chance to read it. It




0 Comments on Debbie--have you seen THE CASE OF THE PORTRAIT VANDAL by Steve Brezenoff as of 6/16/2016 1:34:00 PM
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28. A critical look at O'Dell's ISLAND OF THE BLUE DOLPHINS

Scott O'Dell's Island of the Blue Dolphins is set on San Nicolas Island, a small island off the coast of Santa Barbara California. In the Author’s Note at the back of the book, O’Dell writes that “[t]he girl Robinson Crusoe whose story I have attempted to re-create actually lived alone upon this island from 1835 to 1853, and is known to history as The Lost Woman of San Nicolas” (p. 187). Because nobody could understand her language, her given name is not known. Named Juana Maria by the Mission priest who took her in at Santa Barbara Mission, she died six weeks after her rescue. To anthropologists, the people of the island are known as Nicoleños.

In his story, O’Dell changes Juana Maria’s status to a twelve-year old girl named Karana. As the story opens, Karana and her little brother Romo are digging roots when a ship arrives. On board is a Russian captain named Orlov who has come with forty of his (Aleut) men to hunt sea otter. Based on past experiences, Chief Chowig (Karana’s father) and Orlov have a tense discussion about what the Ghalas-at will receive in return for the otters that will be taken from the waters that abut the island. Months later when Orlov readies to leave without holding up his end of the bargain, a fight breaks out. Most of the men of Ghalas-at, including Chowig, are killed. Two years later, the survivors are rescued. After the rescue ship leaves the cove, Karana realizes Romo is not on board. She jumps ship to stay with him and wait for another rescue ship. Soon after, wild dogs kill Romo, and Karana is alone until her rescue.

Her years on the island make survival a central theme of the story. During that time, she builds several shelters, makes weapons that only men are supposed to make (according to tribal traditions), finds food, fights wild dogs, befriends a large dog that she thinks came to the island with the Russian ship and then when he dies, tames a wild dog that she thinks was fathered by the large dog. She survives an earthquake, a tsunami, and several harsh winter storms.

At the close of the story, she is leaving the island. Based on the text, she has been there at least four years. On page 162, the text reads that two years have passed since the Aleuts had been on the island. At that point, Karana stopped counting the passage of time. One spring, there is an earthquake. As she makes a new shelter, she sees a ship and at first, she hides from the two men who come ashore. She decides she wants to be with people again, and rushes down to the cove but the canoe is gone. Two years pass and a ship returns. This time, she doesn’t hide. When the ship leaves, she is on board with her dog and two caged birds.

A few words about Scott O’Dell

Born in Los Angeles, California in 1898, O’Dell died in 1989. He spent the first thirty years of his adult life working in Hollywood as a cameraman and writer. In 1920, a California newspaper misprinted Odell Gabriel Scott’s name as Scott O’Dell. Liking the misprint, Scott legally changed his name and from then on, was known as Scott O’Dell. In 1947, he became the book editor for the Los Angeles Daily News (Payment, 2006).

In addition to his writing, O’Dell spent time with his father on his orange grove ranch, where he visited ranches of Spanish families of the Pomona Valley and listened to their stories of the past. This led him to write three novels for adults, and a history of California.

In 1957, O’Dell published Country of the Sun: Southern California, An Informal History and Guide. Therein, he references Helen Hunt Jackson’s articles, published in 1882 in Century Magazine, about the mistreatment of the Cupeno Indians of California. He also references her novel, Ramona, published in 1884, saying her novel “had about the same impact as Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Overnight, the country was aroused to the plight of the Southern California Indian” (p. 52). Country of the Sun includes two pages about “The Lost Woman of San Nicolas Island”.

O’Dell developed the story into a book-length manuscript and showed it to Maud Lovelace (author of the Betsy-Tacy books). She persuaded him “that it was a book for children, and a very good one” (Scott O’Dell, n.d.). Lovelace penned the biography for O’Dell when he won the Newbery Medal for Island of the Blue Dolphins. She concludes the biography with “Scott O’Dell’s life brought him naturally a knowledge of Indians, dogs, and the ocean; and he was born with an inability to keep from writing. So he gave us the moving legend of Karana” (p. 108).

In his acceptance speech, O’Dell referenced animal cruelty and forgiveness as themes that are present in his book. He also spoke at length of Antonio Garra, a Cupeno Indian man who, just before he was executed under bogus charges, said “I ask your pardon for all my offenses, and I pardon you in return” (O’Dell, p. 103). O’Dell went on to say that this man, of a peaceful tribe, is unknown to the world because he was peaceful rather than “like Geronimo” (p. 103). Karana, he said, belonged to a tribe like Garra’s. He concluded his speech saying that Karana, before her people were killed, lived in a world where “everything lived only to be exploited” but that she “made the change from that world” to “a new and more meaningful world” because she learned that “we each must be an island secure unto ourselves” where we “transgress our limits” in a “reverence for all life” (p. 104).

Acclaim and Critiques of Island of the Blue Dolphins

Island of the Blue Dolphins received glowing reviews and went on to win the Newbery Award. It was made into a movie in 1964 and has since been made into audio recordings several times. The National Council of Teachers of English listed it on its “Books for You” in 1972, 1976, and 1988. In 1976, the Children’s Literature Association named it one of the ten best American children’s books of the past 200 years (O’Dell, 1990). It is the subject of numerous amateur videos on YouTube and there are volumes of lesson plans written for teachers. Over the years, the cover has changed several times. As of this writing, it has 734 customer reviews on Amazon.com. Thirty-three readers gave it one star, while over 600 gave it four or five stars. 

In 1990, Island of the Blue Dolphins was republished, with illustrations rendered by Ted Lewin, and an introduction by Zena Sutherland. A fiftieth anniversary edition was published in 2010, with a new introduction by Lois Lowry. She showers O’Dell’s novel with praise, noting that he “masterfully” brings the reader onto the island (O’Dell, 2010). In 2010, School Library Journal blogger Elizabeth Bird listed it as one of the Top 100 Children’s Novels (Reese, 2010). In 2010, the book was listed in second place on Amazon’s list of “Bestsellers in Children’s Native American Books” (Reese, 2010).

In the academic literature, Maher (1992) writes that Island of the Blue Dolphins is a “counterwestern” that gives “voice to the oppressed, to those who lost their lands and their cultures” (p. 216). Tarr (1997) disagrees with that assessment, asserting that the reader’s uncritical familiarity with stereotypical depictions of American Indians is the reason it has fared so well. Moreover, Tarr (2002) writes that the stoic characterization of Karana and her manner of speaking without contractions are stereotypical Hollywood Indian depictions rather than one that might be called authentic. Placing the novel in a social and historical context gives depth to Tarr’s statement and also explains why it is so popular.

Island of the Blue Dolphins in a Social and Historical Context

In the years preceding the publication of Island of the Blue Dolphins, America was enjoying the heyday of Hollywood Westerns that depicted savage Indians who terrorized settlers and captured their women, and heroic White men who courted Indian maidens and bemoaned the way Indians were treated by Whites. John Ford’s Stagecoach(1939) follows a stagecoach of travelers who must be mindful of Indian attacks. Broken Arrow (1950) featured Jimmy Stewart as a man in love with an Apache girl and who, out of love and sympathy, tries to help make peace between the Apaches and the U.S. troops. In The Searchers (1956), John Wayne plays the role of a man on the search for a White girl who had been abducted by Indians.

Some of the research that went into Country of the Sun reappears in Island.Presumably, O’Dell conducted his research during the 1950s. That decade was a devastating time for several American Indian nations, a time during which their identity as sovereign nations was again under government attack. It is useful to review how they came to be known as sovereign nations.

From the moments of their arrival on the continent now called North America, Europeans encountered well-ordered nations or tribes of Indigenous peoples, each with its own territories and forms of governance. Recognition of that nationhood is evident in the treaties European heads of state made with their counterparts amongst the 500+ sovereign Indigenous nations (Deloria and DeMallie, 1999). In the treaties, lands were ceded to the United States in return for federally provided health care, housing, and education. As time passed, various entities wanted to nullify the treaties, thereby discontinuing federal funding to tribes and making available lands held by tribes. Desire for land, coupled with the rampant corruption within the Bureau of Indian Affairs that had federal oversight for the tribes, led Congress to terminate its nation-to-nation relationship with the tribes through a policy outlined in House Concurrent Resolution 108 (Wilkinson and Biggs, 1977) that led to several public laws enacted by Congress, including the California Rancheria Termination Act (Public Law 85-671). Through the Termination period (1953-1962), over one hundred bands, communities, and rancherias (California Mission Indians) in California were terminated (Nies, 1996). Given his care to include mistreatment of California Indians in the 1800s, it is curious that O’Dell does not reference any of the Terminations in Country of the Sun.

Emma Hardacre’s Lone Woman of San Nicolas Island

As noted, Island of the Blue Dolphins is based on the life of Juana Maria. At the time of his research, the resources he had available to him about Juana Maria were newspaper accounts and articles about her. Emma Hardacre’s “The Lone Woman of San Nicolas Island” was first published in Scribner’s Monthly in 1880, and then again in 1950 and 1973. Hardacre begins by noting that Robinson Crusoe is a work of fiction, whereas the story of the Lone Woman of San Nicolas Island was true. In Santa Barbara, people spoke less and less about the “widow, between twenty and thirty years of age” who leapt from the ship to be with her child who had accidentally been left behind (p. 75).

Years later, a Mission priest named Father Gonzales commissioned Thomas Jeffries to go to San Nicolas to see if she was still alive. Jeffries (p. 277):
found the remains of a curious hut, made of whales’ ribs planted in a circle, and so adjusted as to form the proper curve of a wigwam-shaped shelter. This he judged to have been formerly either the residence of the chief or a place of worship where sacrifices were offered. He had picked up several ollas, or vessels of stone, and one particularly handsome cup of clouded green serpentine. 

More interesting to Jeffries was the abundance of sea otter. Soon after his return to the mainland, he returned to the island with George Nidiver and a crew of Indians on an otter hunt. For six weeks, they hunted seal and otter. Leaving the island, a sailor said he thought he saw a human figure calling to them, but the figure vanished.

On their third trip to hunt at the island, Nidiver saw a footprint and exclaimed that the woman was alive. The next day, Nidiver found a basket that contained “bone needles, thread made of sinews, shell fishhooks, ornaments, and a partially completed robe of birds’ plumage, made of small squares neatly matched and sewed together” (p. 279). In their search of the inland, they found “several circular, roofless inclosures [sic], made of woven brush. Near these shelters were poles, with dried meat hanging from elevated crosspieces” (p. 279). Not finding the woman, they determined the footprint was older than they thought, and some thought that she was probably dead. Fishing continued for several weeks. Nidiver believed she might be alive and hiding and decided to look until he found her or her remains.

A search was organized. They found the whale bone house, where “rushes were skillfully interlaced in the rib framework; an olla and old basket were near the door.” (p. 279).  Climbing over slippery rocks, they found fresh footprints and followed them up a cliff. Brown, a fisherman, saw the woman in an enclosure and approached her. A pack of dogs growled at him but ran away when she uttered a cry that silenced them. She did not see Brown approaching. Hardacre reports that “the complexion of the woman was much fairer than the ordinary Indian, her personal appearance pleasing, features regular, her hair, thick and brown, falling about her shoulders in a tangled mat” (p. 280). She was anxiously watching the men below her dwelling. Brown signaled to the men that he had found her and that they should approach. When he spoke to her, she ran a few steps, then (p. 280):
 instantly controlling herself, stood still, and addressed him in an unknown tongue. She seemed to be between forty and fifty years of age, in fine physical condition, erect, with a well-shaped neck and arms and unwrinkled face. She was dressed in a tunic-shaped garment made of birds’ plumage, low in the neck, sleeveless, and reaching to the ankle.

She greeted the other men and then set about preparing a meal for them that consisted of roasted roots. Through gestures, they communicated that she was to go with them. She understood immediately and put her things in pack baskets. 

On board their ship, Brown wanted to preserve her feather dress, and so made her a petticoat of ticking. He gave her a man’s cotton shirt and a neckerchief. She watched Brown closely as he sewed, and showed him how she used her bone needle to puncture the cloth and then put thread through the perforations. Through gestures, she told Brown of her years on the island, how she made fire “by rapidly rubbing a pointed stick along the groove of a flat stick until a spark was struck” and that she was careful not to let it go out, covering her home fire with ashes to preserve it. She ate fish, seals’ blubber, roots, and shellfish, and she used bird skins for clothing. Her main dwelling was a large cave on the north end of the island. 

On arrival in Santa Barbara, people flocked to Nidiver’s home to see her. Through gestures, she told Nidiver’s wife that dogs had eaten her baby and how she grieved its loss. She also communicated her dread of being alone, her years of hope for rescue, and at last, resignation at being alone. Nidiver was unable to find anyone amongst the Indians in the Missions who could understand her language. They learned some of her words: “A hide she called to-co (to-kay); a man, nache (nah-chey); the sky, te-gua (tay-gwah); the body, pinche  (pin-oo-chey)” (p. 283). She was so gentle and modest that some believed she was not an Indian, but “a person of distinction cast away by shipwreck” (p. 283). She got weaker and weaker and when she was near death, Nidiver’s wife asked Father Sanchez to baptize her. He did so, giving her the name Juana Maria. She was buried in a walled cemetery and the mission fathers “sent her feather robes to Rome. They were made of the satiny plumage of the green cormorant, the feathers pointing downward, and so skillfully matched as to seem one continuous sheen of changeful luster” (p. 284).

Academic Resources

The academic resources on the people of San Nicolas Island were scant at that time that O’Dell wrote Island of the Blue Dolphins. Archeological studies post-1960 have generated a richer body of materials. Pre-1960, O’Dell likely drew from resources he used when writing his history of California. These included Kroeber’s handbook. He reports that her speech (language) was “thoroughly unintelligible” to Chumash Indians in the area and to Indians from Santa Catalina Island as well (p. 634). Most dwellings, Kroeber wrote, “were reared on a frame of whale ribs and jaws, either covered with sea-lion hides or wattled with brush or rushes” (p. 634). Dugout canoes “may have been burned from drift logs” (p. 634). Seals, water birds, fish, and mollusks were the primary source of food, supplemented by roots. He concludes with “whether the toloache cult or the image form of mourning anniversary had reached the island must remain in abeyance; and as to society, there is total ignorance. Ghalas-at has been given as the name of the island. This is perhaps the native or the Chumash pronunciation of Gabrielino Haras-nga” (p. 635.)

O’Dell may have read a study published in an archeological journal in 1953. Meighan and Eberhart’s study stated that “ethnographically, almost nothing is known of the tribe” and that there was a “virtual absence of trade goods, in particular glass beads” (p. 109). They reference the possessions of the woman as follows: “a well made sinew rope 25 feet long and one-half inch in diameter, thought to have been used in snaring sleeping seals” and, “sinew fishing line; bone and abalone shell fishhooks; bone needles; bone knives, and a knife made of a piece of iron hoop stuck in a rough wooden handle” (p. 112). Items found on the island include mats and skirt fragments made of eel grass, grass skirts, woven bags, woven baskets, stone knives with wooden handles, a stone drill with a wooden handle, wooden knife handles, a wooden ladle, an arrow shaft, a wooden dark foreshaft with bone bars, a drill with wooden shaft and stone point, harpoon points, a great many mortars and pestles, steatite dishes and bowls, stone beads and pendants, bird and sea-lion claws used as pendants, stone ground spoons and ladles . Meighan and Eberhart report four Nicoleno words: “tokay (hide), nahchey (man), taygway (sky), and pinoochey (body). Bird bones were used to make beads, whistles, awls, and fishhooks.  Fish and shellfish were the primary source of food, including abalone, rock scallops, mussels, limpets, and sea urchins.

Clearly, these two key sources say little was known about the people of Ghalas-at and the woman at the heart of O’Dell’s novel. And yet, he was able to write a novel of 186 pages. With this survey of the source material of that time, I turn to a close read of specific passages from the story.

A Close Read of Island of the Blue Dolphins
In the following table, the left column contains a selection of material from the story. In the right column are notes specific to the information in the left column. Some of the passages are not addressed in the Discussion following the table; they are retained in the table for further research.
Text
Notes
“I remember the day the Aleut ship came to our island” (p. 9)
“I” is Karana. On page 12, O’Dell tells us the name of the island: Ghalas-at. The Aleut’s are an Indigenous people from what came to be known as Alaska. During the time of the novel (1835), the Aleuts were enslaved by Russians and forced to hunt sea otters (Pullar, 1996).
Karana describes Romo, her 6-year old brother: “He was small for one who had lived so many suns and moons” (p. 9)
Writers often use the cliché “many moons ago” when writing from an Indian point of view. Though it is obvious that people who do not speak English would have words in their language for sun or moon or the passage of time, the “many moons ago” idiom, inserted into the mind/mouth of any Native character obscures the diversity of language.
When Romo sees the Aleut ship, he describes it as “a small cloud” (p. 10).
In Country of the Sun, O’Dell recounts a Cahuilla legend, “The Lost Spanish Galleon” (p. 147) that begins with Cahuilla men seeing a Spanish galleon and thinking it was a cloud.
As Orlov comes ashore, “Half the men from our village stood at the water’s edge. The rest were concealed among the rocks at the foot of the trail, ready to attack the intruders should they prove unfriendly” (p. 12).
In Country of the Sun, when the Spanish galleon is sighted, O’Dell writes “The Cahuillas hid themselves behind rocks along the shore” and their chief “cautioned his people to remain hidden” (p. 148).
When Captain Orlov comes ashore and begins negotiations with Karana’s father who is chief of the people at Ghalas-at, Karana is surprised that her father gives Orlov his seldom used and secret “real” name (Chowig) because “if people use your secret name it becomes worn out and loses its magic” (p. 13).
Look for: Names and their power.
“Karana” is the protagonists’ secret name. Her common name is “Won-a-pa-lei” which means “The Girl with the Long Black Hair” (p. 13).
The translation does not make sense, given the likelihood that all the girls would have long black hair.
The Aleuts come ashore, and Karana sees “a tall man with a yellow beard” (p. 12).
In Country of the Sun, Yuma Indians and a “bearded” Spanish captain come ashore (p. 148).
The night Orlov arrives, her father “warned everyone in the village of Ghalas-at against visiting the camp. “The Aleuts come from a country far to the north,” he said. “Their ways are not ours nor is their language” (p. 17).
From O’Dell’s Country of the Sun: The night the Spanish came ashore, “Darkness fell and the Cahuillas went silently back to their village and held council far into the night. The older men, who had heard tales of Spanish greed and ferocity, were in favor of abandoning the village and taking the women and children into the mountains. But the younger men, proud of their heritage as warriors and jealous of it, prevailed” (p. 148). They lay plans for an attack.
Each night, people in the tribe “counted the dead otter and thought of the beads and other things that each pelt meant” (p. 23).

Karana does not like the slaughter of the otters she regards as friends she would have fun watching as they played. “It was more fun than the thought of beads to wear around my neck” (p. 23).
This is O’Dell’s first mention of beads. Presumably, the negotiations that took place when Orlov landed included beads but this was not specified.

In Country of the Sun: The next morning, the Spanish gave each of the Indians “a handful of beaded trinkets” (p. 149).

The beads story works because it plays on the idea that Indians are not smart enough to know that their land and resources aren’t worth more than beads. Williams’ analysis of Dutch, Manhattan, beads is excellent.
Karana’s father sends young men “to the beach to build a canoe from a log which had drifted in from the sea” (p. 24).
Kroeber: Canoes “may have been burned from drift logs” (p. 634).
Orlov and his men prepare to leave without paying for the otter pelts. Chowig speaks to Orlov, who signals his men to bring a black chest to the island: “Captain Orlov raised the lid and pulled out several necklaces. There was little light in the sky, yet the beads sparkled as he turned them this way and that” (p. 27)
The archeological record (Kroeber/Meighan & Eberhart) does not list sparkly beads recovered on San Nicolas Island.


Items Karana has in a basket she carries onto the rescue ship: “three fine needles of whalebone, an awl for making holes, a good stone knife for scarping hides, two cooking pots, and a small box made from a shell with many earrings in it” (p. 42).
References to these items are in the historical record.
Karana’s sister, Ulape, “had two boxes of earrings, for she was vainer than I, and when she put them into her basket, she drew a thin mark with blue clay across her nose and cheekbones. The mark meant that she was unmarried” (p. 42).
An assumption that Karana and her people had the same ideas of beauty (vanity) that O’Dell did.
After she leaps off the boat and is back on shore, “The only thing that made me angry was that my beautiful skirt of yucca fibers, which I had worked on so long and carefully, was ruined” (p. 47).
An assumption that Karana and her people held the same ideas of beauty that O’Dell did.
Romo declares that, as son of Chowig, he is now Chief of Ghalas-at. Karana replies that before he can be the chief, he must become a man: “As is the custom, therefore, I will have to whip you with a switch of nettles and then tie you to a red ant hill” (p. 51).
O’Dell’s likely source for this is Kroeber’s Handbook of the Indians of California, Volume 2. On page 672, he describes “The Ant Ordeal” that may have been part of the “Toloache Initiation” of Luiseno boys: “The boys were laid on ant hills, or put into a hole containing ants. More of the insects were shaken over them from baskets in which they had been gathered. The sting or bite of the large ant smarts intensely, and the ordeal was a severe one, and rather doubtfully ameliorated when at the conclusion the ants were whipped from the body by nettles.”
Romo has “a strong of sea-elephant teeth which someone had left behind” (p. 50).
Meighan references sea-lion claws used as pendants.
Karana needs weapons: “The laws of Ghalas-at forbade the making of weapons by women of the tribe, so I went out to search for any that might have been left behind” (p. 58.)
Future research
Thinking the chest Orlov left may have an iron spearhead, Karana digs up the chest and finds it “filled with beads and bracelets and earrings of many colors” (p. 59). There are no spearheads in the chest.
Reference to beads draws on “primitive” (stupid) Indians who sold Manhattan for beads.
Karana “wondered what would happen to me if I went against the law of our tribe which forbade the making of weapons by women—if I did not think of it at all and made those things which I must have to protect myself” (p. 61).
Future research on weaponry.
“There was a legend among our people that the island had once been covered with tall trees. This was a long time ago, at the beginning of the world when Tumaiyowit and Mukat ruled. The two gods quarreled about many things. Tumaiyowit wished people to die. Mukat did not. Tumaiyowit angrily went down, down to another world under this world, taking his belongs with him, so people die because of him” (p. 82).
This story, from the Cupeno Indians, appears in Country of the Sun in “Revolt in the Mountains” as follows: “One of the most dramatic and current [myths of creation], as recounted by Salvador Cuevas, a Luiseno, has the world and everything in it created by the gods Tumaiyowit and Mukat. The gods quarreled and argued about their respective ages. They disagreed about many things. Tumaiyowit wished people to die. Mukat did not. Tumaiyowit went down, down to another world under this world, takig his belongings with him, so people die because he did” (p. 47). It is also in Kroeber’s Handbook, on page 692.
Karana uses several words that she says are in her language:
“Won-a-pa-lei” means “the girl with the long black hair” (p. 13)
“sai-sai” is a kind of fish (p. 85)
“rontu” means fox eyes (p. 105)
“zalwit” means pelican (p. 107)
“naip” means fish (p. 107)
“gnapan” is a thick leaved plant (p. 115)
“Mon-a-nee” means “Girl with the Large Eyes” (p. 160)
“Rontu-Aru” means “son of Rontu” (p. 169)
None of these words are in Kroeber or Hardacre.



Discussion

O’Dell had little to go on in creating the worldview of Karana and her people. To flesh out the story, he inserted his prior research on other California tribes, inserting their ways into the Nicoleno tribe, as though one peoples’ way of being was interchangeable with another. O’Dell wrote Island of the Blue Dolphins prior to the development of multicultural literature and the attention to specificity, so it may be appropriate not to judge him too harshly for doing it. He also drew from popular stereotypes and clichés of American Indians, including the stories in which American Indians traded their land for a string of beads. An American embrace of stereotypes and clichés led to—and guaranteed—the success of the novel.

Island of the Blue Dolphins is a lot like most books and media about American Indians that give the audience the kind of Indians that America loves to love (Shanley, 1997). O’Dell gave us both: the savage ones (the Aleuts), and the gentle ones (Karana’s people). In a spirit of generosity, it is possible to justify why his story met with such success but how do we justify an embrace of it in the present time, when we know so much more about accuracy and authenticity of representation? And why do even our leading scholars fail to step away from the book? For example, in her introduction to the illustrated version, Zena Sutherland conflated the story of Juana Maria with the fictional story of Karana. She incorrectly refers to the Lost Woman as Karana, instead of Juana Maria. She says that she was twelve years old (Juana Maria was a mother, not a child), and that Karana’s brother died on the island (Juana Maria’s child died). The real person is lost in the embrace of the fiction character, Karana. Is sentiment in the way?

Conclusion

There is a fascination, a nostalgia, and a yearning for the romantic Indian and all that “Indian” means to people who think the best life anyone could have is one of the Indian of yesteryear, living in the pristine wilderness, where the weight of the world is not on your shoulders, where you can breath clean air, and drink clean water.

This nostalgia also captures the imaginings of the perfect childhood, but neither one is—or was—real. As such, Island of the Blue Dolphins is a perfect example of a book at the center of the canon of sentiment (Stevenson, 1997). Indeed, the canon of sentiment “exists to preserve—to preserve the childhood of those adults who create that canon and to preserve the affection those adults feel for the books within it” (p. 113). A good many adults imagine the childhood O'Dell described and the survival that Karana experienced. We like to think we could survive, too, and a story like this one lets us see how that could happen. 

Nonetheless, the story is lacking in its accuracy and suitability for informing children about American Indians. Will there come a time when there is a critical mass of gatekeepers rejecting works like this? I hope so. Sentiment is no excuse for ignorance.


References

Deloria, V. and DeMallie, R. J. Documents of American Indian Diplomacy. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press.

Hardacre, Emma. (1971). The Lone Woman of San Nicolas Island. The California Indians: Source Book, edited by R. F. Heizer and M. A. Whipple. Berkeley: University of California Press, 272-281.

Kroeber, A.L. (1925). Handbook of the Indians of California. Washington DC: U.S. Government Printing Office.

Lovelace, M. H. (1961). Scott O’Dell: Biographical note. The Horn Book Magazine, 37,
105-108.

Maher, S. N. (1992). Encountering others: The meeting of cultures in Scott O’Dell’s Island of the Blue Dolphins and Sing Down the Moon. Children’s Literature in Education, 23(4), 215-227.

Meighan, C.W. and Eberhart, H. (1953). Archaeological resources of San Nicolas Island, California. American Antiquity, 19(2), 109-125.

Nies, J. (1996). Native American History. New York: Ballantine Books.

O’Dell, S. (1957). Country of the Sun: Southern California, An Informal History and Guide. New York: Thomas E. Crowell Company.

O’Dell, S. (1961). Acceptance paper. The Horn Book Magazine, 37, 99-104.

O’Dell, S. (1978). Island of the Blue Dolphins. Trumpet Club Edition. New York: Dell Publishing Co.

O’Dell, S. (1990). Island of the Blue Dolphins. With illustrations by Ted Lewin. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company.

Payment, S. (2006). Scott O’Dell. New York: Rosen Pub. Group.

Pullar, G. L. (1996). Alutiiq. Native America in the Twentieth Century: An Encyclopedia. New York: Garland Publishing, Inc. Edited by Mary B. Davis.
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29. No More “Illegal Aliens”

guest blogger iconFrom the US presidential candidates to the current situation in Europe, immigration is a hot topic. In our last blog post, we looked at the battle that’s currently going on in the Library of Congress over the term “illegal alien.” Many activists argue that the term is outdated, yet the Library of Congress chose to let it stand. In this guest post, Children’s Book Press author René Colato Laínez talks about his own experiences coming to the US from El Salvador and the label “illegal alien.”

At the 2016 American Library Association Midwinter Meeting, librarians passed a resolution urging the Library of Congress to change the subject heading from “Illegal Aliens” to “Undocumented Immigrants.” As the author of the new picture book, Mamá the Alien/ Mamá la extraterrestre, I totally agree. Undocumented Immigrants is a better subject to describe the people who arrived from other countries to live and work in the United States. They are undocumented because they don’t have the right papers to come to this country via an airport or through a border checkpoint entrance. They are also immigrants because they were born in another country. So the term Undocumented Immigrant fits the status of this group of people.

mama the alienThe term “Illegal Aliens” definitely is confusing to many, just like it was to me. Yes, I was an Undocumented Immigrant, and when I arrived in this country, I was called an “Illegal Alien.”

Since I was a small child in my native country of El Salvador, I was taught by my family and teachers that I needed to be a good boy. Especially during that time! There was a civil war in my country. Teachers and priests had been killed and many people would disappear from one day to the next. It was a scary time to grow up, and I always tried to be a good boy.

One afternoon, my fifth grade teacher said, “Soon, you will be teenagers and you have to know that ‘illegal acts’ only take people to jail or the cemetery. You need to do only ‘legal things’ in order to be safe.” Then he asked the class to make a list of “illegal acts” and to write a promise that we would be good citizens to have a better society. In my list I included among other things that using drugs, stealing, and not following the rules were illegal acts. Then I proudly promised never to do anything illegal.

As a result of the civil war in the 1980’s, many Salvadoran families left the country looking for a better life and opportunities. My family was not the exception. My mother left the country at the beginning of the war. In 1985 it was my turn to come the United States.

Soon after I arrived, some children in my new school called all the children who only spoke Spanish “illegals.” I did not understand why they were calling us “illegals.” I asked my father and he explained to me that they called us that because we did not have the right papers to come in an airplane or through the bridge in Tijuana.

I began to understand the term, but it did not make sense to me. In my country only people who had money were able to get papers to come to the United States. Poor people like my family did not have the privilege to get these documents. I did not understand why it was illegal to escape a civil war to look for a better life and opportunities in a country that was safe from war.

As I learned English, I remember our social studies teacher asked us to read the newspapers to write class reports. It was there when I first encountered the term “Illegal Aliens.” I kept reading the article and discovered that people who arrived to this country without the right papers were not only illegals, but were aliens too.

mama the alien
illustration from Mamá the Alien

Every night, after I saw the movie E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, I remember looking at the stars wondering if there was life on another planet. It was the 1980’s and, like everyone, I loved that little alien who wanted to go home. When I saw the stars, I wondered if there were aliens like E.T. and how it would feel to be lost on another planet.

Imagine my surprise to learn that I was also an “alien” and that “aliens” were not only from outer space, but from other countries, too. The word “alien” could have more than one meaning—it was also a synonym for foreigner. But when I looked at both words, even though foreigner was a longer word and harder to pronounce in English, it sounded much better to me than alien. I touched my hands and looked at my face in the mirror. Yes, I spoke another language but I had a face, arms and body just like the other children at school. I did not look like a strange creature from out of space. But being an alien implied that I could not be like other “normal” persons, because I was so different from them.

Years later, thanks to the Amnesty Program in 1989, my family had the opportunity to obtain the right papers to live and work in the United States. When I got my pink resident card, I read the blue words at the top of the card: “RESIDENT ALIEN.” “Wow,” I said to myself, “I am now a resident, but I am still an alien!”

I became a teacher and I was assigned to a bilingual kindergarten/first grade classroom. All of my students spoke Spanish. Many of them were born in the United States and others were like me, from other countries. My goal as a teacher was to teach them to read and write, but also to teach them to be smart children who are proud to be bilingual. In the country where I grew up— and almost everywhere around the world!—speaking other languages and being bilingual is nothing to be ashamed of. Instead, it is a wonderful achievement.

juan felipe herrera collectionI began to read bilingual books to my students, especially Friends from the Other side/ Amigos del otro lado by Gloria Anzaldua, The Upside Down Boy/ El niño de cabeza and Super Cilantro Girl/ La Super niña del cilantro by Juan Felipe Herrera, My Diary from Here to There/ Mi diario de aquí hasta allá by Amada Irma Pérez, A Movie in My Pillow by Jorge Argueta and the poetry collection such us Laughing Tomatoes: And Other Spring Poems / Jitomates Risueños: Y Otros Poemas de Primavera by Francisco X Alarcón. My students loved these books because they were able to see their faces, lives, language and culture in the pages of these books. I began to write stories myself and my students began calling me, “The Teacher Full of Stories.” At the turn of the new century, I decided to follow the advice of children’s book authors like Alma Flor Ada, F. Isabel Campoy and Amada Irma Pérez who suggested that it was time to submit my work for publication. Since the first moment that I typed the words of my first book, Waiting for Papá/ Esperando a Papá, I knew I wanted to write books about children of color. My first book was published in 2004 by Piñata Books, an imprint of Arte Público Press.

 My goal as a children’s books author is to produce strong multicultural children’s literature; stories where minority children are portrayed in a positive way, where they see themselves as heroes, and where they dream and hope for the future. I wanted to write authentic stories of Latin American children living in the United States.

These were the books that I had wanted to read when children called me “Illegal” at school.

from north to southSoon, I was receiving emails and letters from parents, librarians, and teachers on how my first book was helping them in homes, libraries and the classrooms. Next I wrote about the importance of being bilingual in Playing Lotería/ El juego de la Lotería. In From North to South/ Del norte al sur, José and his father need to go south to cross the Mexican/ US border to be reunited with his deported mamá in Tijuana. I also write about the importance of living in two cultures and speaking two languages in books such as The Tooth Fairy Meets El Ratón Pérez, Juguemos al Fútbol and Football/ Let’s Play Fútbol and Football and in my two sing-along books, Señor Pancho Had a Rancho and ¡Vámonos! Let’s Go!.

In 2016, my newest picture book Mamá the Alien/ Mamá la extraterrestre will be published by Lee & Low Books. In the story, Sofía discovers a Big Secret. She finds a card that belongs to her mother. It has mamá’s picture and the word alien on top of the card. Sofía cannot believe it. Her mother is an alien.

Sofía feels just like me when I discovered that I was also an alien. I am excited that Mamá the Alien/ Mamá la extraterrestre will soon be in the hands of parents, teachers, librarians and children. In this book readers will find out in a humoristic way that we are all children of planet earth. There are no aliens among our families. We can be from different countries but are all human beings.

Come meet René Colato Laínez at ALA this year. He will be signing with LEE & LOW (Booth #1469), as well as participating in a REFORMA panel on bilingual books. You can see our full ALA schedule here

About René Colato Laínez

rene colato lainezKnown as “the teacher full of stories,” René Colato Laínez is the Salvadoran author of more than a dozen picture books including ¡Vámonos! Let’s Go! (illustrated by Joe Cepeda, Holiday House), Señor Pancho Had a Rancho (illustrated by Elwood Smith, Holiday House), and The Tooth Fairy Meets El Raton Pérez, (illustrated by Tom Lintern, Random House). His new picture book, Mamá the Alien/ Mamá la extraterrestre (illustrated by Laura Lacamara) will be available this summer.

In 2015, René was awarded the Premios Actitud El Salvador Award. He has received many awards and honors including International Latino Book Award, The Américas Award Commended Title, International Reading Association Teacher’s Choice Award, and Tejas Star Book Award List.

René is a graduate of the Vermont College MFA program in Writing for Children & Young Adults and a faculty member of Sandra Cisneros Macondo Writers Group. He is a bilingual elementary teacher at Fernangeles Elementary School, one of Los Angeles Unified School District’s most innovative schools. He is also a columnist for LA BLOGA, the Latino literature blog and LOS BLOGUITOS the blog for children learning to speak Spanish. He has appeared on Univision and Telemundo, and is a regular participant at conferences and book festivals in the United States and Latin America.

Visit him on the web http://www.renecolatolainez.com, or follow him on twitter @renecolato

More reading

Diversity 102: The Library of Congress Battle Over “Illegal Alien” 

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30. I AM NOT A NUMBER, by Jenny Kay Dupuis and Kathy Kacer

Jenny Kay Dupuis and Kathy Kacer's I Am Not A Number, illustrated by Gillian Newland and due out from Second Story Press on October 4th of this year (2016), is one of the books I will recommend to teachers and librarians.

Dupuis is a member of the Nipissing First Nation.

In 1928, Dupuis's grandmother, Irene Couchie Dupuis, was taken to a residential school in Canada. "Residential" is the term used in Canada for the schools created by the Canadian government. They are similar to the government boarding schools in the U.S. These were schools designed to "christianize" and "civilize" Native children. Some of them were mission schools where efforts were made to convert the children to whatever denomination ran the school.

I Am Not A Number opens with a frightening moment. An Indian agent is at their door, to take Irene and her brothers to residential school. When Irene's mother tries to keep Irene, the agent says "Give me all three or you'll be fined or sent to jail." Irene's parents, like many Native parents, were coerced into giving up their children.

When Irene arrives at the school and tells the nun (it is a mission school run by the Catholic Church) her name, she's told "We don't use names here. All students are known by numbers. You are 759." Irene thinks to herself that she is not a number, hence, the title for the book.

Her hair, as the cover shows, was cut. That happened to children when they arrived at the schools. It was one in a long string of traumatic moments that Native children experienced at residential or boarding schools.

Another was being punished for using their own language. At one point, Irene gives another girl a piece of bread. The girls speak briefly to each other in their language, Ojibwe. One of the nuns hits Irene with a wooden spoon, telling her "That's the devil's language." The nun drags Irene away for "a lesson." The lesson? Using a bedpan filled with hot coals to burn Irene's hands and arms. It was one kind of abuse that children received, routinely.

Irene's story ends on a different note than many of the residential and boarding school stories. She and her brothers go home for the summer. What she tells her parents about her time at the school moves them to make plans so that Irene and her brothers don't go back. When the agent shows up in the fall, the children hide in their dad's workshop. The agent looks for them, but Irene's dad challenges the agent, saying "Call the police. Have me arrested." In a low, even voice, he tells the agent that he (the agent) will never take his children away again. In the Afterword, Dupuis writes that her grandmother was only at the school for that one year. Her father's resistance worked. She was able to stay home, with her family.

Residential and boarding school stories are hard to read, but they're vitally important. In the back matter, Dupuis and Kacer provide historical information about the residential school system. They reference the report the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (the TRC) released in 2015, too. The work of the TRC is being shared in Canada, and books like I Am Not A Number should be taught in schools in Canada, and the U.S., too. In my experience, schools don't hesitate to share stories of "savage Indians" who "massacre" those "innocent settlers." In fact, the Native peoples who fought those settlers were fighting to protect their own families and homelands. Depicting them as aggressors is a misrepresentation of history. The history of the US and Canada is far more complex than is taught. It is way past time that we did a better job of teaching children the facts.

I'll end with this: I'm thrilled whenever I see books in which the author/publisher have opted not to use italics for the words that aren't English ones. There's no italics when we read miigwetch (thank you) and other Ojibwe words in I Am Not A Number. Kudos to Second Story Press for not using italics.

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31. Cammie McGovern's JUST MY LUCK

Cammie McGovern's Just My Luck is new this year (2016) from HarperCollins. A reader wrote to ask me about it, because Indian in the Cupboard is part of the story.

I started reading it two days ago and kept setting it aside. The main character is a 4th grader named Benny. His brother, George, is in 6th grade, and is "medium-functioning autistic" (p. 16). I hope Disability in Kidlit finds someone to review it. Some time back, I read their review of Anne Ursu's The Real Boy. I love that book. One thing that stood out in the review was that the story is told from the perspective of the autistic child, rather than from outsider's who gawk at him. There are pages in Just My Luck where it feels like someone is gawking at George. 

I got to page 49 and paused. At that point in the story, Benny is with his older brother, Martin, who is on his first date with Lisa. They go into a Barnes & Noble, where Lisa asks Benny what he's reading (p. 49):

She said she knew it sounded childish but her favorite books were still the Little House on the Prairie series that she read when she was in Mr. Norris's class. "I just love them," she said."
Benny has a crush on Lisa, and so, he says he loves them, too. He's never read them, but their mother used to make them watch the TV show. Two weeks later when she's visiting their house, Benny pretends to be reading Little House in the Big Woods. Lisa exclaims that it is her favorite book.

I wonder if McGovern read that book recently? In Little House in the Big Woods, Pa tells the girls how he, as a young boy, would play that he was a mighty hunter stalking wild animals and Indians. Stalking Indians. Do you remember that part of that book? Do you know any other book for kids that has someone hunting another person or people?

I wanted to throw Just My Luck across the room when I got to that part and I want to ask McGovern if she remembers that passage.

On page 64, Lisa tells Benny that Mr. Norris read Indian in the Cupboard aloud to them when she was in his class and that he dressed up as characters, too. That was five years back. Benny is in Mr. Norris's class now and he's not done anything like that. Benny tells his mom that Mr. Norris wasn't reading Indian in the Cupboard to them, so, his mom gets the book from the library and starts reading it aloud, doing the voices as she does (p. 72):
It turns out he's [Little Bear] not only alive, but he's a real person from history, an Iroquois who's fighting battles with the French and English. So Mom has to talk like him, which George loves because he doesn't talk very well. George keeps laughing until Mom tells him it isn't really funny. "In fact," she says, "it perpetuates a lot of negative stereotypes about Native Americans, which is probably why Mr. Norris isn't reading this book out loud to his class anymore."
Then she keeps on reading. She's decided, apparently, that she's going to perpetuate those stereotypes herself. That doesn't add up, does it? And it doesn't seem very caring of her to lay into George like she did, either. She's deliberately being an animated reader, which prompts a response from her autistic son, and she scolds him?! And keeps reading?!

Throughout the next chapters, Benny thinks about toys coming to life. He wants a cupboard so he can bring his Legos to life. Several times, he thinks about Indian in the Cupboard as he develops the idea for how he'll use his Legos to make a movie. Later, they find out why Mr. Norris isn't doing the things he used to do. It isn't because he's recognized the problems in Indian in the Cupboard. It is because he's got to take care of his own autistic son, and he's exhausted. He has no time or energy to do the things he used to do.

I don't like Just My Luck. If Disability in Kidlit reviews it, I'll be back to point to their review. For now, the Native content alone is enough for me to say that I do not recommend Just My Luck. 

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32. 10 Books for When You Are 10

Recommend me!10 Books for When You Are 10

Yeah for double-digits! If you’re new to the double-digit club, or even if you’ve been a member for a little while, be sure to check out this list of books that every ten-year-old has GOTTA read.10 books for when you are 10

Walk Two Moons
Salamanca’s mother has gone missing, so Sal and her grandparents set off on a road trip from Ohio to Idaho to look for her. During the trip, Salamanca tells a series of fanciful stories about her friend Phoebe whose mother, coincidentally, also went missing. But the real story is the one being written by Sal during this life-changing trip, as she learns more about herself . . . and what really happened with her mother.

The One and Only Ivan
Ivan the gorilla has spent 27 years behind glass walls in a shopping mall. He doesn’t really remember his life before in the jungle, and is used to his everyday routines living in captivity. That all changes the day he meets Ruby a baby elephant, and his whole world is turned topsy-turvy! This Newbery Medal-winning book is a MUST-read. It’ll make you laugh; it’ll make you cry. Don’t miss out.

Wonder
Ten-year-old August Pullman is starting fifth grade and he’s really nervous because he’s never been to a regular school before. Though he likes playing video games and Star Wars like other kids his age, August was born with a facial difference that makes him look unlike other kids. Auggie is about to have a life-changing year, but he’s not the only one who is going to be transformed–everyone he meets is about to learn what it means to be human, to fit in, and to be extraordinary.

Wings of Fire
An ancient treasure has kept seven dragon tribes at war for years, but a prophecy involving five baby dragons — or dragonets — could bring an end to the endless fighting. So five dragonets are collected and raised in hiding, trained to fight and bring about the end of the war. However, they are held against their will, and when they escape, they unwittingly redefine their destinies . . . and the destiny of dragons everywhere.

Number the Stars
For ten-year-old Annemarie, who lives in Nazi-occupied Copenhagen in the year 1943, things are getting steadily worse. She loses her older sister, Lise, in a car accident, and now her best friend Ellen is in danger. Ellen and her family are Jewish, and as the Nazis begin rounding up the Jewish people to send them to concentration camps, Annemarie and her family take in Ellen and pretend that she is Annemarie’s sister . . . but how long can they keep up the act before they are discovered?

Bud, Not Buddy
In Flint, Michigan, ten-year-old orphan Bud Caldwell only has a few objects to remember his mother by as he gets sent from foster home to foster home. One of these objects is a flyer for the famous jazz musician Herman E. Calloway and his band, the Dusky Devastators of the Depression. Convinced that Herman must be his father, Bud runs away to find him — and ends up on one hilarious, heartwarming journey! (Check out our book trailer.)

Tuesdays at the Castle
Eleven-year-old princess Celie lives in Castle Glower, a magical castle that sprouts a new secret passageway or room each day . . . and it decides who gets to be king. When Celie’s parents are declared dead and her older brother becomes king, Celie is suspicious. Are they really dead, or is there something more sinister afoot? With the aid of her siblings and the castle itself, Celie is about to find out!

Flora and Ulysses
When ten-year-old Flora, lover of comics, rescues the squirrel Ulysses after an unfortunate run-in with a vacuum cleaner, the last thing she expects for the revived squirrel to do is develop superpowers. But that’s exactly what happens, and Ulysses (who can now fly and has super-strength, and can write poetryis about to open up a world of possibilities for super-cynical Flora. This Newbery Medal-winning book is bound to open your eyes and warm your heart, too!

El Deafo
Cece loses her hearing when she is just a toddler, and has to wear a very bulky, embarrassing hearing aid called The Phonic Ear. Cece’s worried The Phonic Ear is getting in the way of her making a real friend, but she soon discovers that The Phonic Ear is a lot more powerful than most people realize . . . and it may not just only be her “superpower,” but a way for her to find her inner superhero. Watch the video!

Warriors
Do you ever wonder what your pet cat gets into when he’s running around outside? Wonder no longer! In this exciting and excellent series, cat Rusty finds four clans of wild cats living in the forest near his home. As he is taken in by the Thunder Clan to train as a warrior apprentice, he discovers the deception and deceit that threaten to overthrow clan order . . . but all of that pales in comparison to the greater threat lurking just beyond the forest.

Which books from this list have you read? Which books do you think every ten-year-old should read? Share your thoughts in the Comments below!

En-Szu

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33. Certain Songs #568: Guns N’ Roses – “November Rain”

Guns november Album: Use Your Illusion I
Year: 1991

In the early 1990s, if you wanted to prove how big of an artist you were, it wasn’t about your riders or groupies or drugs or private planes.

Nope. It was about how big your videos were. We didn’t know it at the time, but the early 1990s was the the last great moment of the MTV-oriented video era, and Guns N’ Roses took full advantage of the gynormous budgets guaranteed by their stardom to make ridiculously over-the-top videos that matched both their ridiculously over-the-top songs and their ridiculously over-the-top egos.

And sitting on the top that they were constantly going over? “November Rain,” W. Axl Rose’s attempt to write “Stairway to Dream On.”

And while the “November Rain” video seemed insane and nonsensical, that’s only if you don’t realize that it was secretly outing Slash as a Time Lord. Called, er, “Slash.” You see, the wedding — you know, where Axl is basically showing off that his girlfriend is supermodel Stephanie Seymour — takes place in and the wedding takes place in his TARDIS.

And now the most famous scene in that video — one of the most famous scenes in any music video — where Slash walks out of the giant church where the wedding is plays his guitar solo while a helicopter shot reveals that the church is larger on the inside that it is on the outside suddenly makes sense, right?

Back then of course, it didn’t make any sense, because whoever heard of a Time Lord playing guitar? Now, of course, we know better. Though we should have realized it then, because how else would Slash get a CREEM T-shirt in 1992?

That said, make all of the fun you want, because the popularity of “November Rain” has been as huge as the song, and the nearly nine-minute single made the top ten, and the video was not only the top video on MTV that year (though it didn’t win the VMA), since it was put on YouTube in 2009, it’s been watched over 600,000,000 times.

Official Video for “November Rain”

Every Certain Song Ever
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Certain Songs Spotify playlist
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34. Diversity 102: The Library of Congress Battle Over “Illegal Alien”

Over the past several months, a quiet battle has been raging among librarians and politicians over the term “illegal alien.” For many years, immigrant rights activists have argued against using the term, which has taken on a decidedly pejorative meaning. Activists and legal experts note that while actions can be “illegal,” human beings cannot – to refer to them as such criminalizes existence itself.

While several news outlets have pledged to cease using the term “illegal alien,”  there’s one place where the term still stands: the Library of Congress. But while subject headings don’t usually claim a lot of media attention or political interest, the Library of Congress has become a battleground for those who want to replace the term, and for those who won’t give it up. Here’s a timeline of the issue (for more detail, check out this excellent Library Journal piece):

2013

Dartmouth College student Melissa Padilla notices problematic search terms while researching a paper. Padilla and classmates bring the issue up with Dartmouth’s librarians, and discover that the search terms come from the Library of Congress and cannot be changed within Dartmouth’s libraries. Together, librarians and students work on a proposal asking the Library of Congress to replace the term “illegal alien” with “undocumented immigrant.” The proposal is submitted in summer 2014.

2015

After consulting with staff members, the Library of Congress releases a public memo stating that it will not change the wording because the phrase “Undocumented immigrant” is not directly synonymous with “Illegal alien.” Word spreads to members of the American Library Association, who decide to work through the system to try to push the change through.

January 2016

Various divisions and affiliates of the ALA, including the subject I believe the term alien is not only offensive but also dehumanizing. These folks may not be U.S. citizens, but they're not from outer space. They are human beings.analysis committee, social responsibilities roundtable, and REFORMA, formulate a resolution asking the Library of Congress to reconsider the original request.  The resolution passes at the ALA midwinter meeting in January 2016.

March 2016

The Library of Congress announces that it will no longer use “illegal aliens” as a bibliographic term, saying that the once common phrase has become offensive. The library plans to use “noncitizens” in place of “aliens” and “unauthorized immigration” in place of “illegal immigration.”

April 2016

After learning of the change, conservative Republicans on the House Appropriations Committee introduce a provision calling for the term’s reinstatement, which is tied to a bill for Library of Congress funding. They argue that the term is legally accurate and should not be changed for the sake of political correctness.

June 2016

The House votes 237-170 to order the Library of Congress to continue using the term “illegal alien.” This is the first time in history that the House has interfered in the Library of Congress’ subject headings processes.

As a company that values diversity, this is an issue that we feel deeply invested in. Those of us who love books know well how powerful just one word can be. When that word is tied to our identity, it can not only define us but also define how others see us. It can make us feel safe, or endangered. It can make us feel proud, or ashamed. We believe that the term “illegal alien” is derogative and has no place in the Library of Congress. To see it politicized- and especially to see the power of decision taken away from expert librarians and placed in the hands of politicians- is disheartening and alarming.

Tomorrow, we’ll share a guest post with René Colato Laínez, author of Mamá the Alien/Mamá la extraterrestre about his own experience being called an “illegal alien” when he was young.

In the meantime, the Library of Congress has posted a survey where the public can share their thoughts on the proposed changes. If you would like to see the terminology changed, you can fill out this survey through July 20.

2 Comments on Diversity 102: The Library of Congress Battle Over “Illegal Alien”, last added: 6/17/2016
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35. Review of the Day: Coyote Moon by Maria Gianferrari

CoyoteMoon1Coyote Moon
By Maria Gianferrari
Illustrated by Bagram Ibatoulline
Roaring Brook Press (an imprint of Macmillan)
$17.99
ISBN: 978-1-62672-041-1
Ages 4-7
On shelves July 19th

I feel as if there was less nature out there when I was a kid. Crazy, right? But seriously, as I grew to be an adult I was appalled at the discovery that other people in the United States had to deal with stuff like ticks and chiggers and painful jellyfish and worse. Me? The worst encounter I ever had with something stinging or biting were a couple of sweat bees on my knuckles. But the critter that seemed the most impossible in terms of everyday encounters has been, and continues to be to this day (until the moment we come face-to-face) the coyote. Coyotes were always the heroes of Wild West tales of Native American folklore. They didn’t just wander into your Michigan backyard or anything . . . did they? Now, thanks to books like the beautiful Coyote Moon I learn that coyotes live in every American state except Hawaii. Best that I get as much information as possible about them then. Thankfully, I’ve lots of help. Maria Gianferrari and Bagram Ibatoulline ratchet up the realism to eleven, making it hard to walk away from this book without considering the modern coyote’s plight.

The sun has set and the moon is on the rise. What better time for a coyote momma to leave her den and search for tasty morsels for her kin? Slipping in and out of the shadows of a suburban neighborhood, the coyote attempts to secure a mouse, a rabbit, and even the eggs of Canadian geese, all to no avail. As the sun begins to rise in the east, however, the coyote smells, seas, and hears a flock of turkeys. There is no hemming or hawing now. Without another thought she secures a big one for her family. Of course, before she returns home, she howls. A potentially dangerous act to perform so close to humans, but fortunately the one person who hears her is the one person who understands why she would howl in the first place. Backmatter consists of Coyote Facts, Further Reading, and Websites.

CoyoteMoon2 copyThe book is not written in verse or rhyme, but there’s something inherently rhythmic to Ms. Gianferrari’s text. Listen to how she begins the book: “Moon rises, as Coyote wakes in her den, a hollow-out pine in a cemetery. Coyote crawls between roots. She sniffs the air, arches her back, shakes her fur.” That’s beautiful, that is. Gianferrari’s text is like that from start to finish and it all gets particularly interesting near the end. What an interesting choice it was to switch into the second person near the story’s end. “You open your window… You watch as Coyote slips under the fence painted pink by the sun.” Interesting too that the coyote gets her name capitalized throughout the story. She’s the heroine, no bones about it, and refusing to give her a name keeps her appropriately wild. Capitalizing the word “coyote”, however, gives just the slightest personal bent to an otherwise impersonal descriptive name.

Which brings us to the art. I’ve been a big time fan of artist Bagram Ibatoulline for years. He’s one of those artists that are so good he’ll never ever win any American illustration awards. Such people exist all the time and this is particularly true of artists who truck with realism. Ibatoulline’s challenge here is twofold. On the one hand, he has to render the coyote and her environment in a nighttime setting without sacrificing detail. On the other hand, without giving his character any anthropomorphized tendencies, he also needs to make her sympathetic in her quest to provide food for her babies. The end result is fascinating to watch. With the aid of a full moon, Ibatoulline believably provides just enough light to justify seeing every single solitary hair on the coyote mama’s pelt. Often her eyes are the most colorful things on the page, aided in part by the streetlights as well. He even manages to give the sky that odd pink/grey color it sometimes takes on thanks to light pollution. I don’t know that I’ve ever seen it so perfectly rendered in a picture book before. Then there’s his ability to accurately render the light of an early dawn. We see the light striking the trees, the day beginning on the houses, and silhouetted against the lake the mama coyote. And even then, every single hair on her head is present and accounted for. How does he do that?

CoyoteMoon3 copyI read almost every picture book I review to my kids at some point or another, and I’m glad that I do. Even after all these years, they have the ability to surprise me. For example, if you’d asked me if this were a tense or scary book in any way I’d have initially said no. Yet clearly the book is capable of touching a nerve. My staid stoic five-year-old daughter, who recently informed me that The Walking Dead couldn’t possibly be all that scary a show, was positively petrified by the image of the coyote making her first pounce. No wolf attacking Little Red Riding Hood has ever made such an impression on her as that shot. Fortunately, it’s almost as if Mr. Ibatoulline and Ms. Gianferrari anticipated this. As a parent I was able to smoothly flip back three pages and show the baby coyote cubs near the den and explain that this was their mama. The explanation went a far ways towards alleviating her anxiety. Later, when the coyote gets a big mouth of turkey, Ibatoulline frames the shot in such a way as to display minimal carnage. All you get is, on one page coyote’s face ending just under her nose and on the other the tail, drifting feathers indicating the turkey’s dire fate.

Some folks might make the argument that this book is clearly nonfiction, and you could see their point. If we take the heroine of this story to be an average coyote and not a single one, thereby making this an average situation and not a specific one, then combined with the backmatter (the copious “Coyote Facts” as well as the bibliography for both further reading and websites) you almost find yourself in nonfiction territory. So out of curiosity I decided to see how my library’s distributor, Baker & Taylor, characterized the book. Lo and behold, they call it straight up nonfiction, no bones about it. Personally, I don’t agree. For whatever reason, for all that the book is informative and interesting, I still found the storyline just a tad too fictionalized to count as a purely informational text. Why is this? Compare the book to Hungry Coyote by Cheryl Blackford. In both cases you have average coyote storylines, and both very realistic indeed. Gianferrari has the leg up in this case since her book has nonfiction backmatter, but in both cases I felt like I was hearing a story more than I was learning factual information. Certainly authors can do both, but at the end of the day it’s the librarians who’ll decide where to shelve the puppy. And for me, any picture book collection should be honored to receive this book.

After finishing Coyote Moon I truly believe I have a better sense of coyotes now, and not a moment too soon. Just the other day I was told that the house I’m currently renting is on a little street, dubbed by the neighbors “Coyote Way”. I was told not to be surprised if I see those cheerful souls walking down the road to their destination. And while I have no desire to get up close and personal with the clan, it would be cool to watch from my windows. So thank you, Ms. Gianferrari and Mr. Ibatoulline for giving me the confidence, courage, and curiosity to see this through. I have little doubt that those qualities, to a certain extent the very benchmarks of childhood itself, will resonate with curious young readers everywhere. Lots of younger kids love wolves. These coyotes are about to give those wolves a real run for their money. Beautiful work. Beautiful stuff.

On shelves July 19th.

Source: Galley sent from publisher for review.

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36. Painting with Rainbows – A Michael Foreman Exhibition at Seven Stories

On Friday I finally made it up to Newcastle to catch the National Centre for Children’s Books, Seven Stories’ exhibition Painting with Rainbows – A Michael Foreman Exhibition, which closes today (sorry!). The good news is that it will be heading out on tour: so far, it’s … Continue reading ...

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37. Penelope Anne Cole

Penelope Anne Cole has taught at every grade level. She enjoys writing children’s stories to be read aloud. “Reading to children is the best way to help them love literature.” When not writing or reviewing children’s books, Ms. Cole enjoys dog walking, reading, church, and choir activities. Ms. Cole is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, and is a Reading Therapist with Read America. Ms. Cole reviews books at

http://pennyreviews-chat.blogspot.com/

See reviews of Ms. Cole’s books at

http://reviewsforpenny.blogspot.com/

Her website is www.penelopeannecole.com

The post Penelope Anne Cole appeared first on The National Writing for Children Center.

10 Comments on Penelope Anne Cole, last added: 6/16/2016
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38. Insect Trivia Quiz

insectQuiz: How Well Do You Know Bugs?

1. Which story does NOT feature a ladybug as a main character? A) James and The Giant Peach. B) A Bug’s Life. C) Pokémon. D) Harry Potter.

2. The fear of spiders is called: A) Arachnophobia. B) Acrophobia. C) Acarophobia. D) Agoraphobia.

3. Which insect builds a cocoon and transforms itself into a butterfly? A) Ant. B) Mite. C) Caterpillar. D) Ladybug.

4. Which bug harbors the bacterium in its stomach that causes Lyme Disease? A) Roaches. B) Deer ticks. C) Bees. D) Crickets.

5. Which insect’s lifespan depends mostly on temperature, humidity, and its ability to successfully obtain blood for food? A) Wasps. B) Maggots. C) Mosquitoes. D) June beetles.

6. Which insect lives among human hairs and feeds on extremely small amounts of blood drawn from the scalp? A) Lice. B) Termites. C) Worms. D) Pill bugs.

7. How many eyes do spiders usually have? A) Eight. B) Seven. C) Three. D) None.

8. Which insect has earned the nickname “pincher bug”? A) Earwigs. B) Yellow jackets. C) Fleas. D) Ants.

9. Which insects create societies most closely paralleling those created by humans? Hint, this insect has roles nicknamed: “workers,” “soldiers,” and “queens.” A) Silk worms. B) Centipedes. C) Ants. D) Flies.

10. A firefly is part of which family of insects? A) Beetles. B) Flies. C) Bees. D) Butterflies.

Read on for the answers.

  1. D) Harry Potter.
  2. A) Arachnophobia.
  3. C) Caterpillar.
  4. B) Deer ticks.
  5. C) Mosquitoes.
  6. A) Lice.
  7. A) Eight.
  8. A) Earwigs.
  9. C) Ants.
  10. A) Beetles.

Flickr photo by Zhao

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39. Diverse Children’s Books Link-Up – 18 June

DiverseKidLitMirrors Windows Doors is one of the hosts of the new Diverse Children’s Books meme. Find out all about it below – and be sure to join in, both by adding a post to the linky and by exploring the riches that both … Continue reading ...

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40. Certain Songs #566: Guns N’ Roses – “Sweet Child O’ Mine”

Guns Appetite For Destruction Album: Appetite For Destruction
Year: 1987

Right. This song. A number #1 hit single in 1988, which seemed a little weird even then, because it wasn’t like it as a slow power ballad, or even a conventional pop song that ended with the chorus repeating over and over again.

But what “Sweet Child O’ Mine” did have was loads of drama, and a weird seat-of-your pants feel to it that somehow connected deeply to just about anybody who heard it.

Of course, I could be reading too much into its origin story here. At this point who doesn’t know that Slash accidentally came up with that instantly familiar heart-rending riff while warming up, and Izzy Stradlin & Duff McKagan — especially Duff, whose bass during the opening is Mike Mills level of hook — encouraged him by working around it?

Not to mention the fact that Axl Rose was smart enough — or at least in a good enough mood — to write one of his more sappy lyrics around the whole thing. Right?

I mean, he could have just as easily been in a fight with Erin Everly and written the lyrics for “Back Off Bitch” that day, but instead she forever wins the “Greatest Love Song Written About A Specific Person Who Is The Daughter Of A Rock Legend” competition.

And adding to the seat-of-your pants feel of course, was the whole “where do we go from here” section, which even more than the forever riff or the lovely chorus, sealed the deal for the song, because that’s always the story of any relationship: what’s next? No one wants a dead shark on their hands.

Toss in Axl’s “hi-yiiides” and “mi-yinneees” and you got a song that rocks too much to be a power ballad, is too purty to be a straight metal song, with a guitar hook that Peter Buck or Johnny Marr could have written and an undeniable chorus that doesn’t get worn out.

It all adds up to a song that somehow became one of the most important things in the world during that awful summer of 1988.

Also: I still think the Miss Alans should have covered this, as I’m sure I kept telling them.

Official Video for “Sweet Child O’ Mine”
https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=sweet+child+o+mine

Every Certain Song Ever
A filterable, searchable & sortable database with links to every “Certain Song” post I’ve ever written.

Check it out!

Certain Songs Spotify playlist
(It’s recommended that you listen to this on Spotify as their embed only has 200 songs.)

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The post Certain Songs #566: Guns N’ Roses – “Sweet Child O’ Mine” appeared first on Booksquare.

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41. Fusenews: Trotsky, Harriet the Spy, A.A. Milne and More

Farm copyYou know what’s even better than serving on an award committee?  Having someone else write about it.  As I’ve mentioned in the past, I was on the judging committee for this year’s Boston Globe-Horn Book Awards alongside Chair Joanna Rudge Long and Roxanne Feldman.  It was Roxanne who reported on our discussion, and even took photos of where we met (Joanna’s gorgeous Vermont farmhouse), what we ate, and more.  There is also a particularly goofy shot of me that is impressive because even without knowing that there was a camera pointed in my direction, I seem to have made a silly face.  I am nothing if not talented in that respect.


Speaking of listening in on committees and their discussions, ALA is next week (she said, eyeing her unfinished Newbery/Caldecott Banquet outfit nervously) and that means you have a chance to sit and listen to one particular committee talk the talkety talk.  I am referring, of course, to the ALA Notables Committee.  This year they’ve released the list of books on their discussion list online for your perusal.  A lot of goodies there, as well as room for a lot of books I hope they get to eventually.


 

I was very sad to hear about the passing of Lois Duncan. Like many of you, she was a staple of my youth.  When Jules Danielson, Peter Sieruta, and I were writing our book Wild Things: Acts of Mischief in Children’s Literature we initially had a section, written by Peter, on why Lois stopped writing suspense novels for teens.  It’s a sad story but one that always made me admire her deeply.  She was hugely talented and will be missed.


BloodRedSpeaking of Wild Things, recently I was sent a YA galley by Marcus Sedgwick called Blood Red, Snow White.  But lest you believe it to be a YA retelling of the old Snow White / Rose Red fairytale, it ain’t.  Instead, it’s about how Arthur Ransome (he of Swallows and Amazons) got mixed up with Trotsky’s secretary and a whole lotta Bolsheviks.  What does this have to do with Wild Things?  This was yet ANOTHER rejected tale from our book.  Read the full story here on our website where we even take care to mention Sedgwick’s book (it originally was published overseas in 2007).


 

As I’ve mentioned before, my library hosts a pair of falcons each year directly across from the window above my desk.  I’ve watched five eggs laid, three hatch, and the babies get named and banded.  This week the little not-so-fuzzyheads are learning to fly.  It’s terrifying.  Far better that I read this older Chicago Tribune article on the banding ceremony.  They were so cute when they were fuzzy.  *sigh*


 

In other news, Harriet the Spy’s house is for sale.  Apparently.


 

Sharon Levin on the child_lit listserv had a rather fascinating little announcement up recently.  As she told it, she’d always had difficulty finding a really fast way to catalog her personal library.  Cause let’s face it – scanning every single barcode takes time.  Then she found a new app and . . . well, I’ll let her tell it:

“Shelfie is a free app for iOS and Android (www.shelfie.com) where you can take a picture of your bookshelf and the app will automatically recognize your book spines and generate a catalog of your library. In addition, the team behind the app has made deals with over 1400 publishers (including HarperCollins, Macmillan, and Hachette) to let you download discounted (usually around 80% off) or free ebook or audiobook edition of your paper books (right now these publisher deals cover about 25% of the books on an “average” shelf). The app also lets you browse other readers’ shelves. Shelfie will also give you personalized book recommendations based on how readers with similar taste in books to you organize the books on their shelves. The founder of Shelfie is named Peter Hudson and he’d love to hear any suggestions about how he can make the app better. Peter’s email is peter.hudson@shelfie.com.

Thanks to Sharon Levin for the heads up.


 

I leave NYPL and its delightful Winnie-the-Pooh toys and what happens?  The world goes goofy for the story of A.A. Milne and Christopher Robin.  Now we just found out that Domhnall Gleeson (a.k.a. Bill Weasley in the Harry Potter films) has just been cast as Milne in an upcoming bio-pic.  Will wonders never cease?


Double TroubleAre you familiar with the works of Atinuke?  An extraordinary storyteller, her Anna Hibiscus books are among my favorite early chapter books of all time.  They do, however, occasionally catch flack of saying they take place in “Africa” rather than a specific country. Recently, K.T. Horning explained on Monica Edinger’s recent post Diversity Window, Mirror, or Neither that Atinuke did this on purpose so that kids in Africa could imagine the stories as taking place in their own countries.  That makes perfect sense.  The ensuing discussion in Monica’s post is respectful, interesting, and with a variety of different viewpoints, all worth reading.  In short, the kind of talk a blogger hopes for when he or she writes something.  Well done, Monica.


 

Big time congrats to the nominees for the Neustadt Prize.  It’s a whopping $10,000 given to a children’s author given on the basis of literary merit.  It may be the only children’s award originating in America that is also international.  Fingers crossed for all the people nominated!


 

Hooray!  The Children’s Book Council has released their annual Building a Home Library list.  I love these.  The choices are always very carefully done and perfect for clueless parents.


 

In other CBC news, I got this little press release, and it’s worth looking at:

“For the second consecutive year, the Children’s Book Council has partnered with The unPrison Project — a 501(c)3 nonprofit dedicated to empowering and mentoring women in prison — to create brand-new libraries of books for incarcerated mothers to read with their babies at prison nurseries. Fourteen of the CBC’s member publishers answered the call by donating copies of over 35 hand-picked titles for children ages 0-18 months for each library. The books will be hand-delivered and organized in the nurseries by Deborah Jiang-Stein, founder of The unPrison Project and author of Prison Baby. Jiang-Stein was born in prison to a heroin-addicted mother, and has made it her mission to empower and mentor women and girls in prison.”


 

You know who’s cool?  That gal I mentioned earlier.  Julie Danielson.  She’s something else.  For example, while many of us might just say we were interested in James Marshall, she’s actually in the process of researching him.  She even received the James Marshall Fellowship from The University of Connecticut’s Archives & Special Collections at the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center. As a result she spent a week looking through the James Marshall Papers there. Their sole stipulation?  Write a blog post about it.  So up at the University’s site you’ll find the piece Finding the Artist in His Art: A Week With the James Marshall Papers. Special Bonus: Rare images you won’t find anywhere else.


 

Daily Image:

I take no credit to this.  I only discovered it on Twitter thanks to Christine Hertz of Burlington, VT.  It may constitute the greatest summer reading idea I’ve seen in a very long time.  Public libraries, please feel free to adopt this:

SummerReadingDisplay

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42. Jack Griffo Thundermans Would You Rather

Jack GriffoJack Griffo (a.k.a. Max Thunderman) Would You Rather

I met 19-year-old Jack Griffo and we chatted about The Thundermans, superpowers, his best guy friend who plays Link, and his real-life girlfriend who plays Allison on the show. He was super-sweet and fun.

Watch the video!

jack griffo video

It’s your turn to answer The Thundermans questions.  Would you rather . . .

Be best friends with Henry Danger OR Link Evilman?

Be slimed OR be turned into an animal with the animalizer?

Be world famous OR have a secret superpower that no one knows about?

If you could only have 1 of Max’s superpowers, which would you choose and why?

Leave YOUR answers in the Comments and tell us what you think of The Thundermans!

Sonja

 

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43. Conversation at Electric Literature


The good folks at Electric Literature invited me to converse with Adrian Van Young, perhaps not knowing that Adrian and I had recently discovered we are in many ways lost brothers, and so we could go on and on and on...


We talked about Texas Chainsaw Massacre, The Sublime, writing advice, writers we like, Michael Haneke, neoliberalism, The Witch, and all sorts of other things. It was a lot of fun and we could have gone on at twice the length, but eventually we had to return to our lives.

Many thanks to Electric Lit for being so welcoming.

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44. "Killing Fairies" in Best Gay Stories 2016


I'm thrilled that my A Cappella Zoo story "Killing Fairies" has just been reprinted in Best Gay Stories 2016 edited by Steve Berman for Lethe Press.

The table of contents for Best Gay Stories this year is quite strong, and it's an honor to be among this company. It's especially nice to have my story in a book with a story by Richard Bowes, since "Killing Fairies" is my attempt to write Bowesian tale: something that skirts the line between fiction and memoir. In this case, I wanted to preserve a few memories of my first year of college before those memories slip away (they grow dimmer and dimmer), and I thought a fun way to do that would be to give myself the challenge of trying to write like Rick.

It's harder than it looks. The problem for me was that my memories didn't add up to a story. There were a couple of really great characters (two of the strongest personalities I ever met in my life), but no story, just encounters that ultimately led nowhere because I quickly lost contact with those people as I developed a better network of friends. Then I thought: Who did I hope to meet in college, but never did? And thus I created the strange, perhaps rakish character of Jack. Once he was added to the mix, the story began to cohere.

Here's a brief excerpt:


Killing Fairies 
I met Jack at the end of my first year of college, a year that had begun in misery and ended in something else, though even now I'm not sure what to call it. Jack was two years ahead of me, and like me was one of the few people in our program who wanted to be a playwright and not a screenwriter. He was six-foot-four, scarecrow thin, with short sandy blonde hair and green eyes that won all staring contests. We had our first conversation during the height of a frigid winter. This was back in the mid-'90s, when you could still smoke inside buildings in New York City, and the smoking area for the Dramatic Writing Program at NYU was in a stairwell of the seventh floor of 721 Broadway, headquarters of all my shattered dreams. I regret I wasn't a smoker — it would have been easier to make friends, easier to have the casual conversations that led to connections, especially since the stairwell was an egalitarian place where the distinctions between faculty and students disappeared; the only distinction was between those who were fond of nicotine and those who were not.

I ended up in the stairwell with Jack because we were continuing a conversation we'd begun in class. It was a class called, simply, "Cabaret" — we all wrote and then performed two cabaret shows during the semester. Jack and I had somehow started talking about Arthur Miller, a playwright revered at DWP (he'd taught a course or two just before I enrolled). In class, I'd told Jack I thought Death of a Salesman was sentimental drivel, and he said he was thrilled to hear someone say that. Class ended, and we walked through the narrow DWP hallway to the stairwell, where a couple of other students nodded to Jack, though he paid no attention to them. As our evisceration of Miller's entire career wound down, and as I told Jack for the third time that no, I didn't need to bum a cigarette, he said, "So, tell me something about you I don't know."

"I'm left-handed," I said.

"I know that," he said.

"I'm from New Hampshire."

"Everybody here knows that."

"I used to read a lot of science fiction."

"How cute."

"What about you?" I said.

"Me?"

"It's only fair."

"Fine," he said, exhaling smoke. "I kill fairies."

I'm sure my face displayed exactly what he wanted: wide-eyed shock.

"People give them to me," Jack said. "Fairies. Plastic or glass. Dolls. Icons. And every one of them, I smash with a hammer, or I cut off their hair and wings, or I throw them in front of the subway, or I bite their fucking heads off and spit them to the ground."

Perhaps I chuckled nervously. More likely, I stood silent.

"You should come over sometime," he said. "It's fun. We can have a fairy-killing party."
-------------- 

Lethe is one of the few LGBT presses out there, and much deserves our support. (And they're currently celebrating their 15th anniversary!) The Best Gay Stories series is consistently interesting and a valuable guide to queer writing today.

Here's the table of contents:

"A New Gay Fairy Tale" by Sandip Roy
"Repossession" by Jonathan Harper
"Gift-Wrapped" by Daniel M. Jaffe
"Wildlife" by Carter Sickels
"Fordham Court" by Richard Bowes
"What Do You Wear to a Nudist Colony?" by Michael Hess
"Marginalia" by Daniel Scott
"Monograph" by Mike Dressel
"Shoot-out" by Lou Dellaguzzo
"Killing Fairies" by Matthew Cheney
"Acres of Perhaps" by Will Ludwigsen
"Surfaces" by Peter Dubé
"Tea At Balmoral" by Paul Brownsey
"The Lesson" by Kelly Link

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45. Review: Kangaroo Kisses by Nandana Dev Sen and Pippa Curnick

Kangaroo Kisses, written by Nandana Dev Sen, illustrated by Pippa Curnick (Otter-Barry Books, 2016) - great bedtime story

 

Kangaroo Kisses
written by Nandana Dev Sen, illustrated by Pippa Curnick
(Otter-Barry Books, 2016)

 
Children and parents alike may … Continue reading ...

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46. Certain Songs #565: Guns N’ Roses – “Paradise City”

guns paradiseAlbum: Appetite for Destruction
Year: 1987

Has there ever been a more perfectly crafted stadium rock song? Especially when you consider that it was by a band that hadn’t even come close to playing stadiums?

Sure, I guess you could make a case for “We Will Rock You / We Are The Champions,” but Queen were already huge by the time time News of The World came out, and I still think that “Paradise City” is — at the very least — more relatable. After all, very few of us well ever be champions, but we all got a shot at paradise.

“Paradise City” announces its intent for raised lighters from the opening chiming guitars and kick…snare, kick-snare from Stephen Adler, before launching into not into it’s riff, or its verses, but its chorus.

Because sometimes you need to lead with what’s going to get 60,000 people singing in unison from the very start.

Take me down to the paradise city
Where the grass is green and the girls are pretty
Take me home (oh won’t you please take me home)
Take me down to the paradise city
Where the grass is green and the girls are pretty
Take me home (oh won’t you please take me home)

And not only did “Paradise City” open up with its utopian chorus, there were enough harmonies — including that wonderful low voice — to instantly stick the song deep in your head almost instantly.

After that, Izzy Stradlin starts playing some chords, and there’s even a synth hanging out, as Slash sends some guitar notes heavenward before launching into the supersized churning AeroZep riff that powers the rest of song.

“Paradise City” is unlike the rest of the mostly dour Appetite For Destruction, and sounds more joyous than anything else in their catalog. Though of course, Axl has to toss in his counterpoint during the bridge that the Paradise City is “so far away,” but luckily we’re all listening to Slash’s circular riff that’s running across that bridge so we’re not really worring about what Axl has to say.

Which, come to think of it, is a pretty good policy in general.

After that, it’s all about the chorus. Let’s all sing! And just to make sure everybody in the whole stadium gets their money’s worth, “Paradise City” pretends like its ending, but instead, spends it’s last minutes barreling towards the paradise city like they’ve got a legion of cops on their trail and if then can just get there, they won’t get arrested.

So with Slash powering the car with the energy coming soloing his ass off and the rest of the band singing the chorus over and over, “Paradise City” reaches its goal of being the greatest stadium song ever, and collapses at the end, spent and happy.

“Paradise City”

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47. Books by Penelope Anne Cole

Magical Max and Magical Mickey’s Big Surprise Like their magical older brother and sister, Matt and Mea, nine year old twins Max and Mickey knew they’d soon lose their magic. But they are determined to build an amazing graduation gift before their magic runs out. Will they make it in time and what is their Big Surprise?

Magical Max and Magical Mickey's Big Surprise

Magical Max and Magical Mickey

Matt is going off to college and Mea is entering middle school. At their family emergency meeting, Matt and Mea are surprised to learn Mom is having twin baby boys. Matt, Mea, and Grandma Nonie watch and wonder if twins Max and Mickey will be magical, too? For readers: Ages 5 -8

penelopemaxmickey

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Magical Mea (The Magical Series) (Volume 2)Matthew’s little sister Mea is a trickster. Mea got her magic when Matthew lost his. Matthew tries to guide Mea to use her magic for good. But the more Matthew tries to mentor Mea, the more she wants to “do it her way.” Matthew worries Mea might get into trouble.

penelopemea

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48. Debbie--have you seen Cammie McGovern's JUST MY LUCK?

A librarian in Nebraska wrote to ask me if I've seen Cammie McGovern's Just My Luck. Released on February 23, 2016 from HarperCollins, here's the synopsis:

Critically acclaimed author Cammie McGovern's middle grade debut is a powerful and heartwarming story that will appeal to readers who loved R. J. Palacio's Wonder, Ann M. Martin's Rain Reign, and Holly Sloan's Counting by 7s.
Fourth grade is not going at all how Benny Barrows hoped. He hasn't found a new best friend. He's still not a great bike rider—even though his brother George, who's autistic, can do tricks. And worst of all, he worries his dad's recent accident might be all his fault. Benny tries to take his mom's advice and focus on helping others, and to take things one step at a time. But when his dad ends up in the hospital again, Benny doesn't know how he and his family will overcome all the bad luck that life seems to have thrown their way.
Just My Luck is a deeply moving and rewarding novel about a down-on-his-luck boy whose caring heart ultimately helps him find the strength to cope with tragedy and realize how much he truly has to offer his friends and family.

Just My Luck, the librarian wrote, references Indian in the Cupboard. There's a copy in my local library. I'll pick it up, read it, and be back with a review.

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49. Certain Songs #567: Guns N’ Roses – “Double Talkin’ Jive”

Guns Use 1 Album: Use Your Illusion I
Year: 1991

Izzy Stradlin was always my favorite. While he could have seemed like the lukewarm water between Axl Rose’s fire and Slash’s ice, to me he was also the guy who embodied the straight-ahead rock ‘n’ roll groove at the heart of Guns n’ Roses.

He was also arguably the best songwriter in the band, which was why their first move after he left was to do a covers album, and their second move was to break up.

But of course, all of that was in the future, because in September, 1991 — in the middle of a three-month release period that solidified 1991 as my favorite year ever for music — Guns n’ Roses were the biggest fucking thing on the planet, thanks to their larger-than-life decision to release what was essentially two double albums on the same day.

I remember going to Tower Records to buy the Illusion twins the evening they came out — though not at midnight, because in September of 1991, I probably wasn’t in any shape to go anywhere at midnight — and coming across an indie-rock friend of mine (who might be reading this exact post), who asked me why I was there. And when I told him it was to buy Guns n’ Roses, he looked at me like I was kidding.

But, of course, I wasn’t, and songs like the Izzy Stradlin-sung “Double Talkin’ Jive” more than justified my decision.

Like so many of the songs on Use Your Illusion I, “Double Talkin’ Jive” comes absolutely roaring out of the gate, with a huge riff in one speaker and Matt Sorum’s utterly unforgiving beat powering the song, and slams into a stop-time chorus where Izzy — backed by Axl — believably sings about a life that he probably never led:

Double talkin’ jive
Get the money motherfucker
‘Cause I got no more patience
Double talkin'(lies)
-I got
No more patience
Man

Barely a minute in, we’ve had a couple of verses and choruses so Slash takes over for a long long guitar solo that — with Sorum egging him on — soars and soars and soars until it finally fades into a classical guitar segment that reminds me of Black Sabbath at the end of “Symptom of The Universe”

On one level, it’s probably a bit of a throwaway, but on another level, it’s all so well thought out and so incredibly well-played that it never failed to thrill, especially when you figure that the classical guitar segment was also supposed to be a bit of a chill room for the next song, the epic “Novemeber Rain”

“Double Talkin’ Jive”

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50. Turning Pages Reads: GIRL IN THE SHADOWS, by GWENDA BOND

Welcome to another session of Turning Pages!Full disclosure: Gwenda is a blog buddy, and she and AF share the same agent, so this is more of a "hey another Bond book!" advertisement than a terribly critical booktalk. AF reviewed the first book in... Read the rest of this post

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