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1. Max & Shred Boys

MAX AND SHRED Meet JOHNNY GRAY and JAKE GOODMAN from Max & Shred!

Q: Which character are you more like in real life, either Max or Shred?
Johnny: Honestly, I do find myself a lot like my character, Max. He’s a very athletic person and I play a lot of sports. He’s a very charming person and I’ve been told that I’m very charming in interviews. He’s a really enthusiastic and upbeat person and I’m a really high-energy person as well, which really helps me playing the character. And he’s a really physical person. I use a lot of my physical presence when I’m speaking as well. I’m not like Max intelligence-wise. I do very well in school and I always strive for good grades. Max, he kind of struggles in that field of education but he’s a socially smart person, not really a book smart person. I use a lot of the same terminology as he does, like “bro” and “sick.”
Jake: I have a very good time playing Shred, but I think I’m actually like a mix of them. I have some Max and some Alvin traits. I guess probably slightly more Max maybe, but I’m very, very like both of them. I have lots of friends. I kind of like school, but not as much as Alvin and I don’t do science experiments at home. I think I’m a mix of the two.

Q: Why did Max give Alvin the nickname “Shred”?
Jake: In the pilot episode, Alvin is making fun of Max in his bedroom alone. He puts on a Max wig and his helmet and is all dressed in his snowboarding stuff and is just making fun of Max. And Max’s snowboarding agent comes into the house and sees Alvin. Since he’s all dressed up like Max, he thinks that Alvin is Max and he takes him snowboarding to a mountain and it’s in front of a bunch of people and it’s, you know, televised nationally. Alvin, who has never snowboarded before, has to go down this hill and do all these crazy tricks and do a 50-foot jump at the end, which is crazy. So Alvin ends up having to go because, you know, everyone’s watching him and he can’t just leave. Everyone thinks he’s Max. So he ends up going down the hill and his tricks are all wobbly and really bad and he just happens to land all of them. In the last scene when Alvin is in the hospital, Max comes to visit him, and they have their first moment really as friends and Max is like, “Wow, you shredded up that mountain so well. I’m going to call you Shred.” It’s a special thing between the two of them and only Max calls him that.

Q: How long have you been snowboarding?
Jake: 
I think this past winter was my third season. Johnny’s been snowboarding for way longer.
Johnny: I’ve been snowboarding for six years now. Hitting rails is really awesome. I might come up to a rail riding fakie and then I’ll hop up onto it and just board slide. That’s my starter move. It’s just easy for me and it’s a satisfying move, or maybe doing, like, a blunt slide on a rail.

What is your most embarrassing moment?
Johnny: I ripped my pants once in gym class. It was a grade 8 dance unit, and I forgot all my attire. So I’m up there in skinny jeans and we had to do this, like, wheelbarrow move, and, yeah, I completely ripped my pants and I was extremely embarrassed. It was really funny, but funny for everybody else.
Jake: 
First recess, first day, grade 2, got pantsed. I don’t even remember if I got pantsed or if they just fell down. But I mean that’s so embarrassing, right? First day, grade 2, I didn’t know many people. Yeah.

Q: How do you balance being a celebrity with a typical young boy life?
Jake: 
Honestly, just like every other kid, Monday to Friday when I’m not filming, I go to school. You know, I do all my school work. I do all that normal kid stuff. I’m very lucky, but I don’t feel like a celebrity. I do all that normal kid stuff honestly and then, you know, when I go to the Kids’ Choice Awards it’s so cool because it’s in L.A. But I don’t even feel like I have to make an effort to balance being on a show and being a 12-year-old boy.

What books would you recommend to a friend?
Johnny: The first book that probably made me want to read more is reading the Hunger Games series (for ages 12 and up). I love that series and I really got into them. I read them all within like a month and I usually don’t do that. And then it made me go read more. Like right after that I started reading Maze Runner (for ages 12 and up) and that was a really amazing book.
Jake: 
Classics like Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit I guess. They’d be the best ones. If you haven’t read the books, they’re very good. That’s what I would say because lots of people have seen the movies, but it’s an amazing story. That’s my all-time favorite book.

Do you have any pets?
Jake: 
I do. She’s sleeping next to me right now. Her name’s Daisy. She’s a dog. She’s called a Ganaraskan. It’s a mix between a poodle, a schnauzer, a Cocker Spaniel and a Bichon Frise. She’s very cute. Sometimes she’ll see her tail and just start running in circles. I know lots of dogs do it but honestly it’s so funny when she’s just basically like playing tag with her tail and no matter how fast she runs her tail’s going to be faster because it’s on her body. But that’s just funny when you’re just relaxing and all the sudden your dog is having a seizure chasing her tail.
Johnny: My favorite episode is the episode where I get a dog. I really love that episode because I’m a dog, animal fanatic. I actually have five dogs in my family, so I love dogs. We have a Boston Terrier. His name’s Maverick. I have a French Bulldog named Lola, I have a German Shorthaired Pointer named Violet, a Great Dane named Maggie, and a – who am I missing – oh, and a Schnoodle named Holly. They’re amazing. I love them. They’re all really friendly and they’re all pack dogs. But we live on a farm, right? So they can burn most energy when we go for really long walks. They can just rip around and then they come back in and they sleep.
Do you have a pet?

If you were going to star in a biopic about an athlete, what athlete would it be?
Johnny: I was thinking about a hockey player but at the same time, I think it would be really awesome to play some kind of football star, like some running back because when I played football I played running back. I love Marshawn Lynch. Seattle Seahawks are my favorite team, and he’s an absolute animal on the field. I just love his style.

Q: If you hadn’t chosen acting, what job do you think you would be working towards?
Jake: I don’t even know if I want to be an actor when I grow up. I’m open to lots of things. You know, I go through phases. Like, I’ll do a month of being really into something and then the next month I’ll be really into something else, and then eventually I’ll go back to that something that I was doing the first month. I just have lots of different interests that I pick up and drop. Something might come up and that might stick around. Right now I’m into learning different programming languages, which is fun. So, you know, there are lots of things and I honestly don’t know what I’ll do as a career.

What is one thing you think could help make the world a better place?
Jake: I’m a very environmentally friendly person. Our geography teacher at school always talks to us about that stuff. You know, I don’t use plastic water bottles. I have a reusable water bottle. I have a lunch box. I don’t have a plastic bag for a lunch bag. I don’t litter, obviously.
Johnny: Wow. I’ve never actually put any thought into something like that. But, I don’t know, like, some kind of technological advancement, like a different way we could filter energy instead of depleting our world’s resources. So, you know, cars can now run on . . . blahbity blah or like, “We’ve now figured out a way to create fresh water just by like putting these two kind of chemicals or elements together.” Something like that would be mass-changing for the world. It’s a great question. That’s the best question I think I’ve actually ever been asked.

Interview by Marie Morreale
Image courtesy Nickelodeon

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2. Excerpt: Edible Memory

9780226228105

An excerpt from Edible Memory: The Lure of Heirloom Tomatoes and Other Forgotten Foods by Jennifer A. Jordan

***

“Making Heirlooms”

How could anything as perishable as fruits and vegetables become an heirloom? Many things that are heirlooms today were once simple everyday objects. A quilt made of fabric scraps, a wooden bowl used in the last stages of making butter, both become heirlooms only as time increases between now and the era of their everyday use. Likewise, the Montafoner Braunvieh—a tawny, gorgeously crooked-horned cow that roams a handful of pastures and zoos in Europe, a tuft of hair like bangs above her big brown eyes—or the Ossabaw pigs that scurry around on spindly legs at Mount Vernon were not always “heirlooms.” Nor were the piles of multicolored tomatoes that periodically grace the cover of Martha Stewart Living magazine or the food pages of daily newspapers. What happened to change these plants and animals from everyday objects into something rare and precious, imbued with stories of the past? In fact, food has always been an heirloom in the sense of saving seeds, of passing down the food you eat to your children and your children’s children, in a mixture of the genetic code of a given food (a cow, a variety of wheat, a tomato), and also in handing down the techniques of cultivation, preservation, preparation, and even a taste for particular foods. It is only with the rise of industrial agriculture that this practice of treating food as a literal heirloom has disappeared in many parts of the world—and that is precisely when the heirloom label emerges. The chain is broken for many people as they flock to the cities and the number of farmers and gardeners declines. So the concept of an heirloom becomes possible only in the context of the loss of actual heirloom varieties, of increased urbanization and industrialization as fewer people grow their own food, or at least know the people who grow their food. These are global issues, relevant to hunger and security and to cultural memory, community, and place. This book addresses one aspect of the much larger spectrum of issues around culture and agricultural biodiversity, focusing on these old seeds and trees.

In some ways heirlooms become possible (as a concept) only because of the industrialization and standardization of agriculture. They went away, there was a cultural and agricultural break, placing temporal and practical distance between current generations and past foods. In the meantime, gardeners and farmers quietly saved seeds for their own use. And then, as I discuss in much greater detail below, these heirloom foods began, tomato by tomato, apple by apple, to return to some degree of popularity.

In the United States, newspaper article after article, activist after activist, describes heirloom varieties as something one’s grandmother might have eaten. The implication is that there has been a significant break—that the current generation and their parents lost touch with these fruits, vegetables, and animals but that their grandparents might not have. “Heirlooms are major-league hot,” a reporter marveled in 1995. “As we become more of a technological society, people are reaching into the garden to get back that simple life, the simple life of their grandparents.” Concepts like “old-fashioned,” “just like Grandma ate,” and even “heirloom” can feel very American. But this is a mythical grandmother. The grandmothers of today’s United States are a diverse crew whose cooking habits are just one of the ways they differ. Gender is also obviously a vital element of the study of food production and consumption. Women are perceived as (and often are) the primary cooks and shoppers, and there are many gendered understandings of our relationships to food. Many people, men and women alike, have little time to cook, despite recent exhortations to engage in more home cooking. My own grandmother (the niece of my great-great-aunt Budder whom I write about in the prologue) smoked cigarettes and drank martinis with gusto, and for her, making Christmas cookies consisted of melting peanut butter and butterscotch chips, stirring in cornflakes, and forming the mixture into little clumps that would harden as they cooled. I loved them as a child, and when I make them today, I am invoking my grandmother just as much as other people may when serving up a platter of ancestral heirloom tomatoes.

In the context of food, however, the word “heirloom” also has a genetic connotation. The object itself is not handed down. Heirloom tomatoes are either eaten or they rot. Old-fashioned breeds of pigs are slaughtered and end up as pork chops; they rarely live a long life like Wilbur in Charlotte’s Web, without the help of a literate spider and a film career. The “heirloom,” then, what is handed down, is the genetic code. Heirloom foods are products of human intervention, ranging from selecting what seeds to save for the next growing season to deciding which tom turkey should father poults with which hen.

The genetic heirloom takes on a physical expression in the form of a pig or a tomato, for example, to which people may then attach all kinds of meanings—not only the physical appetite for the flavor of a particular tomato or pork chop, but also the sense that edible heirlooms connect us to something many people see as more authentic than supermarket fare. Over and over, in conversations and newspaper articles, orchards and public lectures, I have heard people articulating a search for a connection to the past, even as they also sought out appealing flavors, colors, and textures. The appetite for an heirloom food commonly leads, of course, to the destruction of its embodiment—in a Caprese salad, say, or an apple pie—but it is precisely the consumption of its phenotype that ensures the survival of the genetic code that gave rise to it.

A guide to heirloom vegetables describes heirloom status (of tomatoes and other produce) in three ways:

  1. The variety must be able to reproduce itself from seed [except those propagated through roots or cuttings]. . . .
  2. The variety must have been introduced more than 50 years ago. Fifty years, is, admittedly, an arbitrary cutoff date, and different people use different dates. . . . A few people use an even stricter definition, considering heirlooms to be only those varieties developed and preserved outside the commercial seed trade. . . .
  3. The variety must have a history of its own.

The term “heirloom” itself generally applies to varieties that are capable of being pollen fertilized and that existed before the 1940s, when industrial farming spread in North America and the variety of species grown commercially was significantly reduced. Generally speaking, an heirloom can reproduce itself from seed, meaning seed saved from the previous year. When growing hybrids, you have to buy new seed each year (for plants that reproduce true to seed; apples, potatoes, and some other fruits and vegetables are preserved and propagated through grafts or cuttings rather than seeds). In other words, if you save the seeds of a hybrid tomato and plant them the next year, you more than likely won’t be pleased with what you get, if you get anything at all. Furthermore, simply because they are “heirloom” tomatoes does not mean they are native. In fact, tomatoes are native not to the United States, but to South and Central America, and many heirloom varieties such as the Caspian Pink were developed in Russia and other far-off places. People also use the term “heirloom” to describe old varieties of roses, ornamental plants, fruit trees (reproduced by grafting rather than from seed), potatoes, and even livestock.

As the US Department of Agriculture’s heirloom vegetable guide explains, “Dating to the early 20th C. and before, many [heirloom varieties] originated during a very different agricultural age—when localized and subsistence-based food economies flourished, when waves of immigrant farmers and gardeners brought cherished seeds and plants to this country, and before seed saving had dwindled to a ‘lost art’ among most North American farmers and gardeners.” Fashions, tastes, and technology changed, but “since the 1970s, an expanding popular movement dedicated to perpetuating and distributing these garden classics has emerged among home gardeners and small-scale growers, with interest and endorsement from scientists, historians, environmentalists, and consumers.” In Germany they speak of alte Sorten, “old varieties,” but this phrasing does not carry the same symbolic, nostalgic weight as the homey word “heirloom.” In French heirloom varieties may be called légumes oubliés, “forgotten vegetables,” or légumes anciennes. Of course, once vegetables are labeled forgotten, they’re not really forgotten anymore. In general, the United States has a different relationship to its past than European countries do. Thus there are regional gardening and cooking traditions in the United States, as well as a particular form of nostalgia that allows the term “heirloom” to apply to fruits, vegetables, and animals in the first place. The idea of an heirloom object can be very homespun. Certainly an heirloom can be something of great monetary value, but it can also be a threadbare quilt, a grandfather’s toolbox, or in my case the worn and mismatched paddles my great-great-aunt used in the last stages of making butter. The word “heirloom” can be a way to preserve biodiversity, but it can also be inaccurate and misused, a label slapped on an overpriced tomato. There is always the danger that dishonest grocers and restaurateurs will exploit the desire for local, seasonal, and heirloom food.

Heirlooms of all sorts are often wrapped up in nostalgic ideas about the past. Patchwork quilts and butter churns evoke not only idyllic images of yesteryear, but often difficult lives circumscribed by poverty and dire necessity as much as by simplicity and self-sufficiency. They speak of times (and, when we think globally, of places) when life may have been (or may still be) not only technologically simpler but also much, much harder. Old-fashioned farm implements in the front yards of rural Wisconsin, or in living history museums, evoke nostalgic feelings. But there’s a reason they’re in museums or front yards and not hitched to a team of horses or in the hands of a farmer, at least in Wisconsin. These are backbreaking tools whose functions have wherever possible been transferred to machines.

Even today, while it may surprise people who pick up a book like this, when I first tell someone about my work, I routinely have to explain what an heirloom tomato is. On a recent trip to a Milwaukee farmers’ market, I heard an older man say to his female companion, “Heirloom tomatoes? Never heard of ’em.” He’s not alone. While some food writers and restaurant reviewers may feel that heirloom tomatoes are yesterday’s news, plenty of consumers are still encountering them for the first time.

Heirloom varieties are just one form of edible memory, but they offer a unique opportunity to understand the powerful ways memory and materiality interact, and how the stories we tell one another about the past shape the world we inhabit. I write about heirlooms not because I think they’re the only way to go, but because they present an intriguing sociological puzzle (How can something as perishable as a tomato become an heirloom?) and because they are the subject of so much activity by so many different people. These efforts, all this work, are also just the latest turn in the twisting path of fruit and vegetable trends, of the relationship of these plants to human communities. This book recounts my search for endangered squashes, nearly forgotten plums, and other rare genes surviving in barnyards, gardens, and orchards, this intertwining of botanical, social, and edible worlds.

Investigating Heirlooms

I relish the moments I have spent with the old-fashioned farm animals at the Vienna zoo, standing in the stall with the zookeeper to scratch the fluffy head of a newborn lamb or the vast forehead of that speckled black-and-white cow, one of only a few of her breed remaining on the planet, who had just dutifully produced a calf that looked exactly like her. I also relish the meals I’ve prepared from multicolored potatoes or tomatoes; and, given a free Saturday, I can spend hours at farmers’ markets, contemplating what I can do with a bucket of almost overripe peaches (freeze them for my winter oatmeal) or a pile of striped squash (a spectacularly failed attempt at whole wheat squash gnocchi, which may still be lurking in the back of my freezer). And I have my own history of deep attachment to processed spice cake and the unctuous taste of a rare glass of whole milk—a reminder that “edible memory” goes far beyond the relatively narrow confines of heirloom food.

But I am also a sociologist, so in this book, while I am fond of many of the places, people, and foods I discuss, I also aim, ultimately, to tell a sociological story. I did not, like Barbara Kingsolver in Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, try to raise turkeys or can a heroic quantity of heirloom tomatoes. Unlike Michael Pollan in the journey he undertook for The Omnivore’s Dilemma, I did not try to shoot anything or make my own salt. Along the way, however, I did get involved; I immersed myself in these rich landscapes, markets, and texts and in conversations with diverse groups and individuals who often, unknown to anyone else, managed to hold on to vital and beautiful collections of genes in the form of old apple trees or tomato seeds, turnips or taro. I set out not to grow these plants and raise these animals myself, but to talk with and observe the diverse and committed gardeners, farmers, curators, seed savers, animal breeders, and other people who make possible the persistence of these plants and animals on this planet. I set out to understand in particular where these plants have come from, the threats they face, the kinds of places that are created in the attempt to save them, and the stories they tell us about the past and about ourselves, as well as how they figure in the broader patterns of human appetites, trends and fashions, habits and intentions.

The research for this book comprised seven years of observation and analysis. In my efforts to understand how tomatoes became heirlooms and apples became antiques, I set out on multiple journeys, of varying sorts. I drove down Lake Shore Drive to the Green City Market and urban farms and gardens in Chicago, traveled across town in Milwaukee to Growing Power and other urban growers, flew across the Atlantic to Vienna, took a streetcar over the bridges of Stockholm to get to the barnyards and gardens of the Swedish national open-air folk museum, and got lost on the tangle of bridges and highways between Washington, DC, and rural Virginia in search of Thomas Jefferson’s vegetable garden and George Washington’s turkeys. I also took more philosophical journeys: literary and archival travels through the pages of government reports, scholarly periodicals, and popular and scientific books. I traveled through recipe collections and the glossy pages of food magazines, through the digital universe of online databases, and through correspondence with colleagues and informants in far-off places. The collection of these journeys, of this movement through gardens, barnyards, orchards, and markets, as well as thickets of printed and digital information, accounts for the story I tell here.

This book emerged in part from solitary hours in front of the computer, taking notes, with stacks of books at my side, reading newspaper articles and academic journal articles on everything from apple grafting to patent law. I analyzed thousands of newspaper articles, charting the emergence of the term “heirloom” in popular food writing and looking for changes in the quantity and quality of the discussion over time as well as differences and similarities across different kinds of foods. Much of this book is based on the ways heirloom varieties register in public discussions, especially the media, and the ways they get taken up by organizations and individuals, both in and out of the limelight. Blogs and other food writing have also figured centrally in my analysis of the heirloom food movement as markers of popular discussions, and I have relied on hundreds of secondary sources (see the bibliography) for historical information about specific foods. I read encyclopedias and fascinating scholarly and popular books, charting the rise and fall of particular foods and their historical transformations. And I drew on the insights of my colleagues in sociology and neighboring academic disciplines and the ways they think about things like culture, memory, and food.

Occasionally I would take a break and cook one of the recipes I came across, and I also left my desk and set out to visit the farms and gardens, camera and notebook in hand. I scratched the noses of wiry old pigs, walked through fragrant herb gardens, and tasted hard cider and fresh bread, the hems of my jeans coated in mud and my nose sunburned from a long day in an Alpine valley or at a midwestern heirloom seed festival. I spoke formally and informally with gardeners, farmers, and chefs, activists, seed savers, academics, and all kinds of people devoted to food. I visited farms and gardens and living history museums and farmers’ markets, and I attended conferences and public lectures and delivered some of my own to smart crowds full of eager gardeners, eaters, and thinkers. I also spoke with the gardeners of less well-known historical kitchen gardens across Europe and the United States, quiet conversations about their enthusiasm for their work and about their assessments of the changing public perceptions of edible biodiversity over recent decades. Many of these farmers and gardeners became good friends, and our late-night conversations over good meals in my dining room or cheap beer at a rooftop farm in Chicago’s Back of the Yards also came to shape my sociological understanding of these trends. Sifting through the stacks of papers on my desk in the depths of winter, and wandering through gardens, barnyards, and farmers’ markets in the heat of summer, I wanted to see what patterns I might find.

Finding Edible Memory

What I found was something I came to call “edible memory.” And I want to emphasize that I did not expect to find it. Edible memory emerged out of these documents, landscapes, and conversations. This book focuses largely on the contemporary United States, with occasional examples drawn from elsewhere. But the fundamental ideas and questions can help us to think about other times and places as well. For sociologists, the study of human behavior— of what people actually do, and do in large enough numbers to register as visible patterns—is at the heart of our work. Many of us are studying what happens when people are highly motivated, when they are so passionate about something that the passion provokes action. That said, many of us are also deeply interested in the small actions of habit, the little steps we take every day that add up to this big thing called society. What we eat for breakfast, who we spend time with and how, what we buy, even what we ignore— these are all crucial to understanding how and why things are as they are. This book is about the fervent devotees, the people who can’t not plant orchards full of apple trees or spend countless hours saving turnip seeds. But it is also about the ways millions (perhaps even billions) of people make small decisions every day about what to serve their families, about how to feed themselves.

When I began to look in scholarly and popular writing, and in kitchens, gardens, farms, and markets, I saw more and more evidence of edible memory: in the rice described by geographer Judith Carney, in the gardens of Hmong refugees in Minnesota, in the hard-won community gardens of New York’s Lower East Side, and in the appetites and memories of friends and strangers alike. Edible memory appears in the reverberations of African foods in a range of North American culinary traditions, in the efforts to cultivate Native American foods today, in the shifting appetites of immigrant populations and ardently trendy folks in Brooklyn or Portland. It goes far beyond the heirloom, but heirlooms were my way in, a way to narrow, at least temporarily, the scope of the investigation and to explore one particularly potent intersection of food, biodiversity, and tales of past ways of being. Edible memory is a widely applicable concept, and I hope it will resonate well beyond the boundaries of the examples I have included in this book.

Edible memory is also in no way the sole province of elites. Much of what people understand as heirloom food today is expensive and out of reach, justifying the pretensions sometimes assigned to heirloom tomatoes, farmers’ markets, or the pedigreed chicken in the television show Portlandia. Food deserts, double shifts, cumbersome or expensive transportation, and straight-up poverty greatly reduce access to a wide range of foods, heirlooms included. But to assume that edible memory is strictly connected to privilege ignores the vital connections people have to food at a range of locations on the socioeconomic scale. Poverty, and even hunger, does not preclude (and indeed may intensify) the meanings and memories surrounding food. As many researchers have discussed, the various alternative approaches to food— heirlooms, but also farmers’ markets, organic and local foods, and artisanal foods—tend to be expensive, eaten largely by elites—well-off and often white. However, while that may characterize what we might call mainstream alternative, both edible biodiversity and edible memory happen across the socioeconomic spectrum. There are vibrant, successful projects in which people worlds away from expensive restaurants and farmers’ markets grow and eat many of the same kinds of memorable vegetables, in rural backyards, small urban allotments, and school gardens. Chicago alone is home to many farms and gardens supplying food and often employment and other projects in low-income communities, projects like the Chicago Farmworks, Growing Home, Gingko Gardens, or the Chicago location of Growing Power, which is even selling its produce in local Walgreens, trying to improve access to locally grown produce in predominantly low-income and African American neighborhoods. The numerous farms and gardens profiled on Natasha Bowen’s blog and multimedia project, The Color of Food, also offer examples across the country of farmers and gardeners with a deep commitment to many of the same foods that find their way into high-priced grocery stores or expensive restaurant dinners.

At the same time, I do not want to argue that edible memory is a universal concept. We can ask where and how it appears and matters, but we should not assume that it is everywhere either present or significant. It is certainly widespread, based on the research I have conducted, but it is not universal. For some people food may be a way to imagine communities, to understand their place in the world and connect to other people, but for others it is simply physical sustenance or transitory pleasure.

To read more about Edible Memory, click here.

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3. Anthony C. Yu (1938–2015)

Yu 2

Anthony C. Yu (1938−2015)—scholar, translator, teacher—passed away earlier this month, following a brief illness. As the Carl Darling Buck Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus in the Humanities and the Divinity School at the University of Chicago, Yu fused a knowledge of Eastern and Western approaches in his broadranging humanistic inquiries. Perhaps best known for his translation of The Journey to the West, a sixteenth-century Chinese novel about a Tang Dynasty monk who travels to India to obtain sacred texts, which blends folk and institutionalized national religions with comedy, allegory, and the archetypal pilgrim’s tale. Published in four volumes by the University of Chicago Press, Yu’s pathbreaking translation spans more than 100 chapters; an abridged version of the text appeared in 2006 (The Monkey and the Monk), and just recently, in 2012, Yu published a revised edition.

In addition to JttW, Yu’s scholarship explored Chinese, English, and Greek literature, among other fields, as well as the classic texts of comparative religion. He was a member of the American Academy of the Arts and Sciences, the American Council of Learned Societies, and Academia Sinica, and served as a board member of the Modern Language Association, as well as a Guggenheim and Mellon Fellow.

From the University of Chicago News obituary:

“Professor Anthony C. Yu was an outstanding scholar, whose work was marked by uncommon erudition, range of reference and interpretive sophistication. He embodied the highest virtues of the University of Chicago, his alma mater and his academic home as a professor for 46 years, with an appointment spanning five departments of the University. Tony was also a person of inimitable elegance, dignity, passion and the highest standards for everything he did,” said Margaret M. Mitchell, the Shailer Mathews Professor of New Testament and Early Christian Literature and dean of the Divinity School.

To read more about The Journey to the West, click here.

 

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4. Why We’re Asking Publishers to Join Our Diversity Baseline Survey

diversity102-logoIf you’ve been following us for a while, you know that over the past few years we’ve released a series of infographics about the diversity gap in different industries including publishing, film, television, theater, and politics. Our infographic studies were designed to give people who were unfamiliar with issues of race and gender a sense of how deep the diversity problem goes in the United States and how entrenched these issues are in every facet of media. Our latest infographic, The Diversity Gap in Silicon Valley, is our first study that reports on a bigger question: What comes after the numbers are established? Once we acknowledge the diversity gap, what can we do to close it?

The Diversity Gap in Silicon Valley
The Diversity Gap in Silicon Valley (click to read more)

The tech industry presents a unique model for this. After Pinterest engineer Tracy Chou asked, “Where are our numbers?” hundreds of companies, both large and small, chose to release the diversity statistics of their staffs in a transparent way. Although the numbers showed a lack of diversity, after they were revealed there was a flurry of activity across the industry to address the problem. We were encouraged to see the brightest and the best minds in technology confronting a decades-old problem with pragmatism, budgets, and goals.

We were inspired to create our own baseline survey in the hopes that it could serve as a catalyst for the same kind of movement within the publishing industryGiven this, we were inspired to create our own baseline survey in the hopes that it could serve as a catalyst for the same kind of movement within the publishing industry. The Diversity Baseline Survey we’ve proposed would be the first of its kind for US publishers. It involves creating statistics that do not yet exist by measuring staff diversity among publishers and review journals in four areas: gender, race, sexual orientation, and disability.

There is precedence for a survey like this, not only from the tech industry, but also from the publishing industry in the United Kingdom. Both industries ran surveys as recently as 2014. Even large publishing houses, such as Hachette UK, HarperCollins, and Penguin Random House UK, were among the publishers who participated in the British survey. Hopefully, this is a good sign that these companies might extend their participation to the US version of the survey.

In the past, publishers have usually put the responsibility on readers for the lack of diverse representation in books. The extremely dated adage that “diverse books do not sell” has become a belief that has reached mythical proportions. While it’s important for readers to support diverse books with their dollars and voices, it’s equally important for publishers to self-reflect on how they can do better on their end. We must acknowledge that one factor contributing to the lack of diverse books is the lack of diversity among the people who edit, market, review, and sell the books. Surveying our staffs and reporting on our The onus is on us to move forward.findings would give us a starting point, not to point fingers or assign blame (especially since most media industries face similar problems) but to bring clarity to the problem so we can understand it better, attempt to correct it, and measure whether or not we are improving.

Publishers, the onus is on us to move forward. Many publishers have said that they support We Need Diverse Books and the movement for more diverse books, but words are not the same as action. If we are serious about increasing the number and quality of diverse books, it is essential for us to be transparent about our own challenges. By surveying our staffs and sharing our numbers, we can work together to put in place sustainable programs that will increase diversity among publishing staffs in the long-term.

Here are some ways you can help:
Sign the petition. We consider transparency in the publishing industry both a social and economic justice cause. If you agree, stand up and be counted. Your name in support of this effort will be used to convince publishers to join this effort.

Place a comment in the comment field of School Library Journal’s article about the survey. Public commentary about this issue from educators, librarians, reviewers, editors, authors, and illustrators helps put a face to this problem. Many of the gatekeepers/decision makers do not understand the problem, but words can make a difference and change people’s minds.

Ask your publishers to sign on. If you are an author or illustrator, contact your editors and other publishing contacts and encourage them to participate in the survey. Your voice in support of this effort can make a difference.

Subscribe to Lee & Low’s blog or social media channels. Understanding the issues is important, but the complexity surrounding issues of race and gender can be daunting. We discuss these issues on a daily basis. Learn through reading and engagement in a safe place to ask questions and stay current on the issues.

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5. Ricky Ricotta

Ricky ricotta and his robotRicky Ricotta and His Mighty Robot are back in a brand new, out-of-this-world adventure!

Ricky Ricotta loves his Mighty Robot, but sometimes it’s hard having a best friend who is so BIG! If only his Mighty Robot had someone his own size to play with, Ricky could have some fun by himself. Little does Ricky know, his wish is about to come true. Ugly Uncle Unicorn is hatching a hideous plan to take over Earth, and he’s got a super-sized surprise for Ricky and his Robot friend!

Click here to learn more, make your own robot, watch cool videos, and more!

 

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6. in which A Sense of the Infinite is published, and time travel occurs


Hello friends! A SENSE OF THE INFINITE comes out today. Whereas for both my previous books, my release day to-do list was dominated by items such as "1. Freak out" and "2. Stress balls" and "3. Tweet a bunch," I am celebrating this book by scheduling a blog post in advance and then disappearing into the national forest for the day (don't let the present tense fool you! I wrote this post yesterday. In reality-land, I am nowhere near a computer).

It is pretty nice here, not-on-a-computer. I am enjoying it immensely. Maybe I will even see a snake, or save an injured hiker, or get lost and survive on roots and berries for six months. More likely, I will just tromp around for several hours, eat a bag of peanuts, and go home--but that sounds pretty good too.

Thank you to everyone who has been a friend and supporter of this novel. Here are some links if you'd like to know more about it or buy a copy:

Interview on xoJane
Interview on First Draft Podcast
A SENSE OF THE INFINITE on BookRiot
Starred Review, VOYA
Buy on IndieBound
Buy on Amazon

Oh yes, and if you'd like to chat in person, you can catch me on this book tour in August:


It's been an amazing trip, and I'm grateful. Happy reading to all.

0 Comments on in which A Sense of the Infinite is published, and time travel occurs as of 5/19/2015 9:57:00 AM
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7. Soccer Trivia Quiz

Arjen RobbenWe  are kicking off with some regulation Soccer Trivia! See how well you score . . .

  1. TRUE or FALSE? Soccer cleats and baseball cleats are the same.
  2. The World Cup (the world championship of soccer) is played every ________ years?
  3. Who won the 2014 World Cup? A) Brazil B) Argentina C) Germany D) United States
  4. What is it called when you hit the soccer ball with your head?
  5. In soccer rules, what does it mean if the referee shows you a red card?
  6. The handsome and ridiculously talented Cristiano Ronaldo is from what country?
  7. Americans call it soccer, but what is this sport called in most other countries around the world? (Hint: It is not called “soccer” in England.)
  8. In youth soccer, what do the terms U-8 and U-10 mean?
  9. Only 1 player on the soccer field is allowed to touch the ball with his or her hands. What is this player called?
  10. How many players from each team are on the soccer field at a time?

Scroll down to see the answers.

  1. ANSWER: FALSE. Soccer cleats have spikes usually made from rubber or plastic and are lightweight and flexible for running on grass. Baseball cleats have metal or hard thin spikes to grip the clay/dirt on the field, and are bulkier and stiffer for support.
  2. ANSWER: Every 4 years. The next World Cup will be in Russia in 2018.
  3. ANSWER: Germany won (beating Argentina in the championship).
  4. ANSWER: A “header.” Believe it or not, if you hit it in the right place on your head, it doesn’t hurt that much.
  5. ANSWER: It’s a penalty card, and you are kicked out of the game. Also if you receive 2 “yellow cards” (warning cards) it equals a red card and you’re kicked out of the game! Yikes, talk about fiery red.
  6. ANSWER: Portugal. He plays for the Portugal National Team, and also the Spanish club Real Madrid C.F.
  7. ANSWER: Football. The United States, Canada, and Australia call it soccer but most other countries call it football, futbol, or “footie.”
  8. ANSWER: U-8 is a division for kids aged 8 and under. U-10 is for kids 10 and under.
  9. Only the goalkeeper or “goalie” is allowed to use his or her hands while on the field. Of course, any player may use his or her hands to take a throw-in from off the field.
  10. ANSWER: In professional, high school, and college soccer 11 players total (10 plus a goalkeeper). Although in youth leagues it can be 4 vs. 4, 6 vs. 6 or 8 vs. 8.

Are you a soccer fan or a soccer player? Shout out to your favorite teams in the Comments below!

-Ratha, STACKS Writer

Arjen Robben photo credit Global Panorama

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8. Game of Thrones: Thoughts about Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken (Spoilers)



Last night's episode was a real downer. My first reaction was, "Well, that was depressing," but as I think about and process it, I have some different thoughts. There will spoilers here, so if you haven't watched the episode yet, I recommend you leave now.

As a clarification, I've only read the first two books in A Song of Ice and Fire, so I can't discuss this episode in relation to the books. However, since the showrunners have made it clear that they aren't strictly following the books anymore, I don't think it's overly relevant.

I think the key to understanding this episode is the title, "Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken." While of course that's the motto of House Martell, I think the producers are also telling us something. (And often the GoT episode titles seem to have more than one meaning.)

As I said to my husband immediately afterwards, "For an episode called Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken, there sure were a lot of bowed, bent, and broken people." However, on further consideration, I'm not sure that's true.

Tyrion and Ser Jorah are captured by slavers. However, Tyrion works his magic with a little help from Ser Jorah in the right places, and the two of them are now headed where they wanted to go anyway. Jaime and Bronn end up captured, but Bronn takes it in stride with usual Bronn-ness: "You fight pretty good for a little girl." And I hope that Jaime learned his lesson from the last time he was a prisoner and won't lose another hand.

A quick aside on the sand snakes: I haven't got far enough in the books to read about the sand snakes, but I had heard about them, and as a former martial artists and a fan of women warriors, I was very much looking forward to seeing them. So far, though, I have to say I'm disappointed. Although it's clear they can fight, they've been pretty ineffective so far, and there's not even enough character development for me to tell them apart.

I think that Ser Loras and Queen Margaery fared the worst in this episode. You might say Sansa fared worst, but more on that in a minute. Lady Olenna will use her considerable personal and House resources do what she can (although it is somewhat worrisome that Cercei sent Mace off right before implementing this plot) and while Tommen may be the Most Ineffective King Ever, he's pretty besotted with Margaery, so maybe this will wake him up. However, I fear for Loras. As the show's token gay character, he's been treated pretty poorly by the showrunners.  I fear that Loras won't survive this, but even if he does, will the showrunners let him become, as the article I linked above says, “a knight and a son of House Tyrell, who happens to be gay" or will he continue to just be "the gay character"?

Finally, I want to talk about the most talked about scene of the episode: Ramsey Bolton's wedding night rape of Sansa. The scene was vile and repulsive, and like everyone else, I was hoping that Stannis would arrive in time to stop the travesty. Viscerally and emotionally I hate it. But on thinking about it, I don't believe that Sansa was as much a victim as she appeared to be. As awful as it was, Sansa made the choice to go through with this wedding.  While Littlefinger may be using her for his own ends, his talk with her about using the situation to regain her birthright seems to have resonated with her.

Remember that this isn't Sansa's first experience with a sadist. This is not the young Sansa with dreams of a fairy tale wedding. This is an older, wiser, more experienced Sansa who has survived Joffrey and Cercei and knows the worst that humans are capable of. This Sansa is a survivor. And thanks to Myranda's attempts at manipulation, she has some idea of what she's getting into. She has options - she knows she could have lit a candle at the top of the broken tower. But she chooses to go through with it for the sake of her birthright, her people, and hopefully for a chance to avenge her family. And Sansa knows as well as anyone that an unconsummated marriage can be annulled, so she endures the rape - with a witness even - to cement her place at Winterfell. When Sansa tells Myranda, "I'm Sansa Stark of Winterfell and you don't frighten me," I have to think that in her mind she was saying that to Ramsey as well. I hope that somewhere not to far down the road, Sansa will stick a dagger in Ramsey. I also think that alternating Sansa's scenes with Arya's was intentional. Even though their roads are very different, they are both in the process of becoming someone else.

Was the scene gratuitous and unnecessary? Maybe, I'm not sure. It does seem like GoT has a disturbing pattern of violence against women, but then GoT has plenty of disturbing violence overall, and yet I still watch it. I'm not sure if this scene was any worse than what the rest of Sansa's family has been subjected to, not to mention many other characters. You want to talk about horrifying? One of the most horrifying things to me was Theon's killing and burning the miller's sons as stand-ins for Bran and Rickon. Theon in turn was the victim of horrifying violence by Ramsey. It broke Theon, but I don't think that Ramsey will break Sansa in the same way.

Personally, I hate the prison that most women in Westeros are forced into. For most, with some notable exceptions, marriage is their only option, most likely a marriage not of their own choosing. As much as we hate Cersei, Queen of Manipulators, we also have to remember that as a young woman she was forced into marriage with Robert Baratheon. But although I hate it, it's also a reflection of the life that many, if not most, women throughout history have been forced to lead. Violence against women is a reality; should we pretend that it doesn't exist?

When we talk about strong female characters in books and movies, we're usually talking about women warriors or leaders of some type. But I think it takes a particular strength to endure rape, forced marriage, or other violences perpetrated against women and to survive, to live, and to move forward. In our outrage and our disgust, in characterizing Sansa merely as a victim, I fear that we are missing the point that Sansa Stark is one of the strongest characters on the show.

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9. How to Read With Your Rising First Graders and Kinders This Summer

For parents of soon-to-be kindergartners and first graders, helping their children be prepared for the start of school can be exciting and daunting (and not just for students).

What can parents do over the summer to help their children maintain the growth they made this past year in preschool or kindergarten and be ready to tackle new topics and skills in the fall?

Below is one way parents can read and explore books over the summer. This model can be adapted for both fiction and nonfiction texts and follows how many teachers practice guided reading, which children may experience the first time in the upcoming school year.

I’m going to model how parents can practice reading using the text, David’s Drawings.

We do not need to, nor should we, ask every question for every book during every reading time. We may have only four minutes of our child’s attention one day and maybe twenty on another. The goal is not to drill our youngest learners in Common Core standards by the start of school.

Rather, the ultimate goal here is to show our beginning and soon-to-be readers how reading can be a joyful, positive experience. This mindset will set them up for the best start to their school journey.

Getting Ready to Read

1. Questions to ask and talk through with our rising kinders or first graders about the book:

  • Who is the author? / Show me where the author is on the cover. What does an author do?
  • Who is the illustrator? / Show me where the illustrator is on the cover. What does an illustrator do?
  • Where is the front cover? The back cover? The title page of the book?
  • As we read, which direction do we read the words?

2. Practice making predictions:

  • Together, look at the front cover. Using the title and picture on the cover, ask: what might happen in the story? What makes you think that?
  • Take a picture walk through the book. Ask: What do you think this story will be about? What do you notice when you look through this book?

3. Build background schema and draw on your child’s past experiences:

  • What do you know about drawing, or making a picture?
  • What types of things do you like to draw?
  • Where do artists get their ideas for drawings and paintings?
  • Who might help you draw a picture?

Reading the Book

  • As you begin to read, make sure the book is between both of you so your child can clearly see the text (and illustrations) and be in the position of the reader (rather than a regular listener at a group story time).
  • Make sure to point your finger to each word as it is read aloud. In doing so, your child can follow the text as well as the storyline and learn that we derive meaning from print—we in fact are not just making up a story to match the pictures we are seeing!

Video examples of parents reading with primary grade students:

After Reading

Discuss the meaning of the text. Here are some questions to check comprehension during and after the reading. (CCSS Key Ideas and Details)

  • Who is the main character? Or, who is David?
  • Where does the story take place? When does the story take place?
  • Where does David get his idea for his picture?
  • What details do his classmates add to David’s tree?
  • How does David feel when the other children draw on his picture? Share a time you felt the same way.
  • Why do you think David decides to make another drawing when he arrives home?
  • What does this story remind you of?
  • Could this really happen?
  • Do you think David is polite? Why or why not?
  • If you were to add one more page to the story, what do you think would happen next?
  • Why do you think the author, Cathryn Falwell, picks the title, David’s Drawings? Do you think this is a good title for the book? Why do you think so?
  • What do you think might happen the next time David starts a drawing in class?
  • Why do you think David isn’t shy anymore at the end of the story?
  • What was an interesting part for you in the story? Or, what part of the story made you smile? Why?

Video examples demonstrating book comprehension:

rising kinder readingExplore foundational skills and language:

  • Please show me a word that starts with the uppercase letter D. Show me a word that starts with the lowercase letter p.
  • Put your finger on a word that starts with b. Put your finger on a word that ends with e.
  • Can you think of another word you know that rhymes with day?
  • Can you show me a sentence that has a question mark at the end? A period? An exclamation point?
  • Can you show me a word that ends in –ed? –s?
  • Find a word that starts with the same letter as your name.
  • Find a word that ends with the same letter as your name.
  • Find a word that has a letter that is in your name.
  • Can you show me the (high frequency) words: the, of, and, a, to, you, on, I, me, my? Many primary grade classrooms build reading fluency with sight word practice. For a review for rising first graders or a peak for rising kinders, here are kindergarten high frequency word lists:

Post-Reading Activities

Done with sitting still? Time to move but keep the connections going!

1. Write or draw an answer to this question: Would you be friends with David?

2. Find a tree near school, at a park, or near your home. Sketch it using a pencil and then later decorate it.

3. Re-read the story or have another adult read the story—re-reading stories is great for helping children practice fluency, make predictions, retell events, and build confidence in eventually reading parts on their own.

For more further ideas on early literacy:

Jill Eisenberg, our Senior Literacy Expert, began her career teaching English as a Foreign Language to second through sixth graders in Yilan, Taiwan as a Fulbright Fellow. She went on to become a literacy teacher for third grade in San Jose, CA as a Teach for America corps member. In her weekly column at The Open Book, she offers teaching and literacy tips for educators. 

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10. Displacement: Review Haiku

Lucy takes her grandparents
on the worst/best cruise ever:
Heart-wrenching.

Displacement by Lucy Knisley. Fantagraphics, 2015, 168 pages.

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11. One Direction Without Zayn

Zayn MalikOne Direction without Zayn is like . . .

. . . a sock without its match.

. . . a day without a friend.

. . . a rainstorm without a rainbow.

Ok. You’ve come to grips with the news, sort of. Zayn Malik has left One Direction.

Some of you are devastated he left the band. Some of you understand that he wants to live like a normal 22-year-old. Some of you are skeptical and feel betrayed after his first solo song was leaked just a week after leaving the band. And . . . Some of you don’t really care.

Well, whatever side you’re on, we’re about to hit you with a Writing Prompt that you’ll want to answer! Pour out your feelings . . . or non-feelings . . . and complete this sentence in your own unique way.

One Direction without Zayn is like . . . 

We can’t wait to see YOUR Direction in the Comments below!

-Ratha, STACKS Writer

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12. Submit Your Picture Book Manuscript to the New Voices Award!

New Voices Award sealSummer is almost there! That means that the sixteenth annual NEW VOICES AWARD is now open for submissions. Established in 2000, the New Voices Award was one of the first (and remains one of the only) writing contests specifically designed to help authors of color break into publishing, an industry in which they are still dramatically underrepresented.

Change requires more than just goodwill; it requires concrete action. The New Voices Award is a concrete step towards evening the playing field by seeking out talented new authors of color who might otherwise remain under the radar of mainstream publishing.

NEW VOICES AWARD submissions we have published include Sixteen Years in Sixteen Seconds: The Sammy Lee Story, It Jes’ Happened: When Bill Traylor Started to Draw, and Bird.

The contest is open to writers of color who are residents of the United States and who have not previously had a children’s picture book published.

The deadline for this award is September 30, 2015.

For more eligibility and submissions details, visit the New Voices Award page and read these FAQs. Spread the word to any authors you know who may be interested. Happy writing to you all and best of luck!

 

 

 

0 Comments on Submit Your Picture Book Manuscript to the New Voices Award! as of 5/15/2015 12:53:00 PM
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13. Zendaya Interview

Zendaya in K.C. UNDERCOVERZendaya from K. C. Undercover 

If you love Zendaya, then you must read this interview. It’s kind of long, but she talks about everything! She talks about the weird thing that she’s afraid of, her 7th grade eyebrow disaster, going to high school with an 8-year-old, and her advice for girls.

Q: How would you describe K. C.?
Zendaya: K. C. is just a regular girl. What I think is so exciting about her is the fact that she’s just a regular teenager who was put in this really irregular type situation and lifestyle, and I think she kind of just has to make the best out of it. But I love the fact that she’s kind of awkward. She’s not the coolest person in school. She’s not very popular, but is able to be cool and popular through her spy work. She’s able to use all these things that kind of made her nerdy.

ZENDAYA in K.C. Undercover

Photo credit: Disney Channel/Kelsey McNeal

Q: Would you be friends with her?
Zendaya: Absolutely. I think we’re like the same person. In fact, somebody who is close to me was telling me, “It’s funny. On TV you act a lot more like yourself.” And I was like, “Yeah. I do,” because I feel like she’s a lot like me, you know what I mean? She has a lot of characteristics like me, which makes her easier to play and easier to understand.

Q: K. C. is a math and tech whiz. How does that help her in her spying?
Zendaya: It helps her be more problem-solving, you know? The fact that she’s able to think on her feet and solve things with her mind . . . you know, it’s like brain exercise. She’s really sharp.

Q: How about the fight training? Has that been difficult?
Zendaya: Well, fight training is never super-easy, especially when you’re not a martial artist, you know what I mean? That’s not where I started. So for me, I think of it like dancing. It’s like learning new dance choreography, but only you’re punching someone.

Q: Out of acting and dancing and singing and writing, is one talent your favorite?
Zendaya: Honestly I don’t have a favorite. I always try to find time to balance all of them because I think it’s really important if you want to be an entertainer to give each of your arts time and be able to enjoy all of them. You know what I mean? That’s the same for acting, singing, dancing, even visual art as well. So I try to find time for everything.

Q: What career would you follow if you had never been famous?
Zendaya: I feel like my life kind of happened for a reason and everything is the way it is for a reason and I couldn’t see myself doing anything else. But I’d maybe want to do something that involves kids. I don’t know if it would be teaching or, you know, coming up with an organization that helps younger people.

Q: What’s the weirdest food you’ve ever eaten?
Zendaya: Honestly . . . ok, here’s the thing. I’m not a huge experimenter. I’m definitely more of a cheese pizza and fries type of girl. I don’t like to get too crazy. Plus I’m a vegetarian, so any of those super-weird foods I can’t eat.

Q: What is it like going to school on the set of your show?
Zendaya: Well, I go to high school in a classroom with me, Kamil, who’s also 18, and an eight-year-old. [Laughter.] Which is very strange, but it’s funny. It’s also kind of hard because, you know, there are certain things that we’re learning that she hasn’t learned yet. So there’s certain stuff that I can’t really talk about because it’s something that’s way beyond where she’s at right now and it’ll confuse her. But it’s also cool because there’s a lot of teaching moments and she can learn from us being in the classroom as well.

Q: How do you balance your life as a celebrity with just your normal life?
Zendaya: Honestly, all I do is I just do regular kid stuff. It’s like all in a state of mind. For me, I don’t feel like I’m a celebrity or anything like that. I just feel like I’m a regular kid. So what do regular teenagers do? We go to the movies, and we hang out with our friends and that’s honestly what I do. I don’t do anything that special.

Q: Do you have advice for younger girls who look up to you as a role model?
Zendaya: My number one piece of advice is always not to grow up too fast, to enjoy the years that you have as, you know, a 12-year-old because they go by so fast. The next thing you know you’re an 18-year-old and you have to worry about so much and think about so much more. So just enjoy the age that you are. And that’s even when you get older. When you’re 18, enjoy being 18. You don’t want to be 21 yet.

Q: Do you have a motto or a quote that you live by?
Zendaya: My motto is always DFTS. It means “don’t forget to smile” because I think smiling is just a really powerful thing.

Q: When you were little, did you have a word that you couldn’t pronounce?
Zendaya: Milk. I used to say chocolate mook.

Q: If you could invent an ice cream flavor, what would you invent?
Zendaya: It would be . . . “Nutella Greatness.” Maybe it would be vanilla ice cream with Nutella in it. Maybe do a version with caramel. But it all has Nutella with multiple different kinds of things inside.

Q: What’s your biggest fear?
Zendaya: You know, I don’t know why I’m so afraid of flies. It’s not that I’m afraid of them. They’re just really, really annoying and they drive me crazy. But the thing is I feel bad killing them. So I either make my friends kill them or my dad or something. [Laughter.] Or I just let them be . . . like, especially at night time when it’s dark and they, like, buzz around you. I have this irrational fear that they’re going to crawl in my nose. I don’t know.

Q: What’s your favorite holiday or summer activity?
Zendaya: I love vacations. I love going on vacations with my family usually to somewhere tropical. I like that weather where you don’t need a jacket. You just walk around with a tank top and it’s comfortable even at night time. Honestly, I like doing absolutely nothing. Laying by the beach, going to the pool, like just chilling out because sometimes I work so much and I do so much all the time that not doing something is a strange feeling and it’s exciting. I think one of my favorites was when I went to Jamaica. The culture was really awesome, like the music, food, everything out there is really great. And then on top of that, the water is warm. I’m not a huge fan of cold ocean water, so the fact that the water was warm was very exciting.

Q: Do you have a first-day-of-school memory?
Zendaya: Oh, yeah. I remember, It was my first day of seventh grade. I went to get my eyebrows done the day before and the lady really messed up my eyebrows and I was so embarrassed to go to school. I cried. But I think that’s why I’m so obsessed with my eyebrows nowadays.

Q: What are your dreams and hopes for your future?
Zendaya: That’s a good question. Well, I dream to just continue to do my art but continue to spread positive messages and do good things with what I do.

Interview by Gerri Miller
Photos courtesy Disney Channel

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14. STACKS Stars Feature

Stacks starsSee how you can get featured in next month’s STACKS Blast newsletter!

We think you are awesome and we want to know more about you! Every month, I will post questions in a STACKS Stars blog post. All you have to do to participate is answer the questions and we will pick one random user to be featured in next month’s newsletter. Don’t see yourself in the next newsletter? No worries! You can enter yourself again as many times as you like! Everyone is a winner so there’s always a good chance that you could be next.

To participate, you must have a STACKS profile and screen name. If you don’t have one, it is easy and free to set one up. Click here to set up a profile. Be sure to create an awesome avatar that really shows who you are because that picture will be used in the feature if you are selected! Remember to have fun with your avatar and get creative.

This month’s questions are about the Summer Reading Challenge! Do you think you are ready to participate? If so, here they are.

  1. What is your STACKS screen name?
  2. Which book are you planning to read next?
  3. Why are you choosing this book?
  4. If you could read this book anywhere in the world for a day, where would it be and why?
  5. Have you read any books on the Summer Reading Challenge list? If so, which was your favorite and why? If not, which books are you interested in reading next?

To help give you some ideas, here are my answers:

  1. CleverPiglet15 (I think pigs are really cute!)
  2. I’m planning to read The Madman of Piney Woods, by Christopher Paul Curtis.
  3. I chose this book because I like realistic adventures and friendships.
  4. If I could read this book anywhere for an entire day, it would be under a shady tree by a nice creek with picnic blankets and snacks.
  5. I’ve read some of the other books on the list and they have been all good, but my favorite is probably the Amulet series because it’s a graphic novel that is both fun and magical.

OK, now your turn! Ready? Set? Go!

Sandy, STACKS Staffer

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15. Glass Slippers Interview

BookwormFairy31 avatarHey! BookwormFairy31 here. I wanted to interview Ella from “Glass Slippers.” Ella, come out here!

Ella: Oh, hi Destiny.

Me: My writer name is Destiny. So, Ella, were you surprised when your aunt Cora told you about your power?

Ella: I was stunned but I made a limo out of my car and created an iPod 8 out of thin air.

Me: Do you like Will? *smiles sheepishly*

Ella: Why did you ask me that?!

Me: Sorry! Sorry! Sheesh.

Me: What do you like best about Jessica?

Ella: I guess that she’s honest and caring, same as her sister Madilene.

Me: What do you hate about Alexa?

Ella: What’s not to hate? She’s a huge jerk. She’s even mean to her own kids!

Me: Can I bring someone else up?

Ella: Sure.

Me: Will, come up here!!

Will: Umm . . . hi.

Me: So you ran into Ella at the dance. What did you think of her when you first met?

Will: I thought she was nice . . . and clumsy.

Ella: Hey! I was pushed.

Will: Sorry. I didn’t know.

Me: Umm . . . let’s stop this right now before there’s a fight.

*Ella creates Will’s worst nightmare in the background.*

Me: Cut! Cut!

*Camera goes black.*

To find out more about BookwormFairy’s version of Cinderella, read the story here.

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16. SpongeBob Would You Rather

SpongeBob SquarePantsSpongeBob SquarePants Would You Rather

SpongeBob SquarePants. The name says it all. One of the most wildly popular cartoons of all time, it is still going strong in its 16th (!!!) year since the first episode on Nickelodeon in 1999. Not many can “absorb” as successfully as this sponge.

Did you know the creator of SpongeBob, Steve Hillenburg, was a marine biologist? Or that the series was going to be named SpongeBoy or SpongeBoy Ahoy?  And did you realize what a special place SpongeBob had in your heart . . . until you just read this blog? Well if you’re a landlubber who loves SpongeBob, we want to know . . .

Would You Rather . . . 

1. Live in a pineapple under the sea OR a tree house up in the sky?

2. Eat a krabby patty from The Krusty Krab OR a crab cake from Red Lobster?

3. Have to wear a bikini in a snowstorm OR a snowsuit jumping into a pool?

4. Have Plankton as your evil sidekick OR the hyenas from The Lion King?

5. Go on a date with Larry the Lobster (the muscular lifeguard of the Goo Lagoon) OR Patchy the Pirate?

6. Get sunburn OR frostbite?

7. Have Gary the snail as your pet OR Sandy Cheeks the squirrel?

8. Be the “voice” of SpongeBob on the cartoon OR star in YOUR OWN live-action TV show?

9. Have to wear square pants OR octagon pants?

10. Be best friends with SpongeBob OR Greg Heffley from Diary of a Wimpy Kid?

Anchors away, and let us know YOUR answers in the Comments below!

-Ratha, STACKS Writer

 

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17. Pinterest Roundup: 100’s of End-of-the-Year DIY Ideas for Teachers & Students

Pinterest has become a teacher’s go-to source for all sorts of curation inspiration. If you’re like me, you can browse and pin for hours without even once questioning when you’ll have time to DIY your heart out or eat everything pinned to your food inspiration board.

So, since June is right around the corner we thought we’d help you get a head start thinking about and planning some fun end-of-the-year tokens of appreciation. Whether you’re a teacher, student, or parent, Pinterest has an overwhelming amount of DIY-inspired gifts to celebrate the end of the school year and kick-off the start of the summer.

 Teachers: 8 gift roundups (& no apples in sight!)Pinterest roundup

101 Easy & Creative Teacher Gift Ideas from The Dating Divas. An impressive list of over 100 teacher gift ideas broken down by category: the first day of school, appreciation gift ideas, end-of-the-year ideas, and even 2 bonus gift ideas for the bus driver.

Teacher Gift Ideas in Mason Jars from Mason Jar Crafts Love. If I had to describe Pinterest in two words it might just be mason jar. But dare to challenge their all-inclusive, miscellaneous nature and you’ll surely be disappointed.

20 Cheap, Easy, Cute & Practical Teacher Appreciation Gifts from It’s Always Autumn. You’ll find less of the cutesy, where-am-I-going-to-put-this DIY projects and more practical gift ideas that teachers can actually use, from classroom supplies to gift cards.

28 Pun-Tastic Teacher Gifts from BuzzFeed. A laugh-out-loud collection of “punny” printables and DIY ideas for your “uh-mason” teacher or “berry sweet” students.

DIY Treat Bag Tags-Teacher Appreciation from The Busy Budgeting Mama. You can never go wrong with an edible gift, particularly those made with sugar. Here are 5 printable tags to say thanks in a sweet way.

25 Teacher Appreciation Ideas That Teachers Will Love by Crazy Little Projects. This roundup of 25 usable and practical DIY gifts hits it on the head for most teachers. I would be ecstatic to receive anything on this list.

4 Gifts That Teachers ACTUALLY Want (told by teachers!) from A Girl and a Glue Gun. This roundup of teacher-minded gifts shows you how to make what teachers really need and want-from cleaning wipes to pizza gift cards- feel personal and special.

cute-easy-useful-teacher-gift-appreciation-idea-13
from the blog Love The Day

 FREE Teacher Appreciation Cards from The Chickabug Blog. Overwhelmed by Pinterest’s crafting skills? Are you a self-aware last-minute gifter? Or maybe you just have a sarcastic sense of humor? Look no further. This list of printable teacher gift card holders is here to save the day.

The Archives: These blogs are a treasure trove of teacherappreciation gift ideas, many more than can be covered in 

thisroundup. Here, you’ll find teacher gifts for any and every occasion throughout the school year.

Teacher Appreciation Ideas from Skip to My Lou. 10 whole pages worth of ideas to thank a teacher. Need I say more? This is one you’ll want to bookmark for later.

Teacher Appreciation/School from Eighteen 25. Printables, printables, printables! This blog is chock-full of cheesy tags & quick DIY gift ideas for teachers that are practical, yummy, and great keepsakes.

Teacher Appreciation/School from The Domesticated Lady. An archive of teacher gift ideas and even “s’more” puns.

Teacher Appreciation Gifts from The Happy Scraps. Teacher gifts for any occasion, these DIY ideas are quick and as simple as possible without breaking the bank.

Students: 8 ways to settle those testing nerves and end the year on a high note with your students.

 End of the Year Gifts! from Lessons With Laughter. Your students’ futures are bright! But with cool sunglasses to wear, a survival kit bucket for life by their side, and having had you as a teacher they’re sure to be headed in the right direction.

Smartie Pants from The Muddy Princess. These are the best kinds of “smartie pants.” All you need is some cardstock, brads, glue, and Smarties!

Sidewalk Chalk End of School Year Student Gift Idea & Free Printable from My Sweet Sanity. Puns make the teacher and student DIY gifts really special, and this “chalk full” of fun idea is no exception. Any inexpensive, summer-themed gift that encourages kids to head outdoors is definitely a winner.

smartie_pants3
from the blog The Muddy Princess

Have a “Kool” Summer- End of Year Goodbye Gift for Classmatesfrom The Crafted Sparrow. Oh so “kool!” Kool-Aid packets and crazy straws just might make you the koolest teacher/parent around.

End of the Year Gift for 2nd Graders from Drama Mama’s LittleCorner. There is only one small problem with this ice-pop gift idea and it’s that it’s being limited to second grade. Ice pops RULE!

Easy End of the Year Student Gift from Happy Home Fairy. Just like the school year, these Frisbees will fly (just hopefully not at your head!).

Candy Gram Ideas from Happy Home Fairy. Candy grams are always sweet motivation for either starting or ending the school year.

Graduation Gift Idea Printable Seed Packets from Pre K-Pages. Just as you helped them plant seeds of knowledge, encourage students to keep growing their minds with this gift. Not only perfect end-of-the-year gifts for students and teachers, Forget Me Not seedlings make memorable graduation gifts.

Finally, if you’re a fan of Pinterest then we want to connect! Follow Lee & Low Books on Pinterest here.

veronicabioVeronica has a degree from Mount Saint Mary College and joined LEE & LOW in the fall of 2014. She has a background in education and holds a New York State childhood education (1-6) and students with disabilities (1-6) certification. When she’s not wandering around New York City, you can find her hiking with her dog Milo in her hometown in the Hudson Valley, NY.

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18. Hamster Create a Caption

Create a CaptionCreate a caption for Michael’s adorable hamster!

I think this cutie pet is saying, “This strawberry would taste even better dipped in some chocolate!”

Leave your captions in the Comments!

hamster

Sonja, STACKS Staffer

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19. Book Review: An Ember in the Ashes

An Ember in the Ashes

by Sabaa Tahir

Told in alternating stories of two main characters on opposite sides, An Amber in the Ashes is a suspenseful exploration of the effects of violence on both the conquered and the conquerors. Set in a Rome-like fantasy world, the Scholars are a subjugated people under the rule of the Martials. Laia is a Scholar living with her brother and grandparents. When her brother is arrested on suspicion of being a member of the resistance, and her grandparents are killed violently by Martial soldiers, Laia runs away in fear. To atone for her cowardice, Laia sets out to save her brother, and goes undercover as a slave to the cruel and sadistic commander of the elite military academy Blackcliff.

Elias is a student at Blackcliff, training to become a Mask, the most elite of Martial soldiers. Although he has lived most of his life as a student under the harsh discipline at Blackcliff, Elias still sees things differently than his peers because he spent the first six years of his life outside the Martial society. Elias is determined to escape the violent society and his role as an enforcer as soon as he graduates. Then a visit from the Augurs — the Martial's version of oracles — puts a difficult choice before Elias. But can he trust the prophecy, or is he being manipulated by the Augurs?

Sabaa Tahir was inspired to write An Ember in the Ashes during her time at the Washington Post's foreign desk, when she was exposed to horrifying stories of the effects of violence on people around the world. An Ember in the Ashes is an exciting dystopian story that shows how a violent society affects everyone, from the slaves to the highest levels. Even the resistance is divided by the question of whether they have an obligation to help those of their people in need, or whether such aid detracts from their mission of fighting back against the Martials.

I had some minor credibility problems, and the plot development was occasionally awkward. I thought that the addition of supernatural characters like djinn was an unnecessary device that muddies the waters. The augurs were fine and really drive the plot in many ways, but the djinn and other spirits made it start to feel like everything was thrown in, including the kitchen sink.

This isn't a subtle book: the message about the effects of violence is hammered pretty hard. However, as I write this in a Baltimore (and a nation) trying to figure out how to police our communities without unnecessary violence by police against the people they are supposed to protect, the message really resonates.

In spite of the minor issues, I found An Ember in the Ashes to be a thrilling and highly engaging plot-driven story with loads of teen appeal, especially for fans of dystopian fiction like the Hunger Games. I can understand why it's been optioned for film already.

Diversity

Elias is described as having golden-brown skin. The identity of Elias' father is unknown, but it's likely that his skin color came from his father, since his mother is described as having pale skin. Other than that, skin color doesn't seem to play a role, although one of the more despicable characters is also described as having dark skin. The Martial empire appears to be generally diverse, with various ethnicities of people coming from the different conquered nations, although it's not significant to the plot.

Although the empire appears to be fairly patriarchal, female characters play a significant role. Besides Laia, there's Helene, who is also a student at Blackcliff and Elias' best friend. Helen is one tough cookie, in some ways one of the toughest students there. In spite of that, though, she's mostly relegated to the traditional female support role, and a subplot about an attraction leaves her acting "like a girl." There's also the female commander of Blackcliff, and several minor female characters including a cook who used to be an explosives expert.

The author is a woman of color.


Who would like this book?

Anyone who enjoys a thrilling, suspenseful plot-driven story, particularly fans of The Hunger Games and other dystopian fiction. In keeping with the theme, An Ember in the Ashes is fairly dark and violent, so sensitive readers may want to take a pass.


Buy from Powells.com:


FTC required disclosure: Review copy sent by the publisher to enable me to write this review. The bookstore links above are affiliate links, and I earn a very small percentage of any sales made through the links. Neither of these things influenced my review.

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20. University of Chicago Spanish–English Dictionary app [SALE]

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Coinciding with the celebration of Cinco de Mayo and for a very limited time, the good folks behind the University of Chicago Spanish–English Dictionary (Sixth Edition) app have dropped the price to $0.99 (usually $4.99). You can a basic screenshot of the app’s functionality above—from breezing through recent reviews, it seems like the app’s ability to generate words lists, along with its word-by-word notetaking feature, has proven especially popular.

From the App Store description:

The Spanish–English Dictionary app is a precise and practical bilingual application for iPhone® and iPod touch® based on the sixth edition of The University of Chicago Spanish–English Dictionary. Browse or search the full contents to display all instances of a term for fuller understanding of how it is used in both languages. Build your vocabulary by creating Word Lists and testing yourself on terms you need to master with flash cards and multiple choice quizzes. Whether you are preparing for next week’s class or upcoming international travel, this app is the essential on-the-go reference.

You can watch a demo of the app here:

 

The app is, of course, a companion to the (physical book) sixth edition of the University of Chicago Spanish–English Dictionary, praised by Library Journal as, “comprehensive in scope, but simple enough to use for even the most tongue-tied linguist.” Limited time means limited time, so if you’re looking for an “an important contribution to update the traditional dictionary to the new digital era,” visit the App Store today.

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21. Pip Bartlett’s Guide to Magical Creatures

Pip Bartlett's Guide to Magical CreaturesDo you love books like Harry Potter, Wings of Fire, and The Spiderwick Chronicles? Then we think you will love this brand-new series Pip Bartlett’s Guide to Magical Creatures (for ages 8 and up)!

Meet Pip and her world full of magical creatures and whimsical adventures! Click to read an excerpt, watch the trailer, and take the quiz to see which magical creature matches your personality!

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22. End Prejudice

Make a difference!Prejudice is judging people based on how they look, their religion, or their gender. Stereotyping is making a generalization about a group of people. For example, all blondes are dumb, or all Americans are lazy and arrogant, or all people in England have bad teeth. There are also far more offensive stereotypes than these.

Prejudice and stereotyping are caused because people are ignorant. They aren’t educated in other people’s cultures. For example, many people judge others based on the color of their skin. But if they learned a bit more about their culture and people, they would realize that they aren’t that different. Or if people from other countries learned more about Americans and their culture, they might not think that all Americans are lazy and arrogant. Prejudice and stereotyping are just two different forms of bullying.

How do we enact the solution to prejudice and stereotyping? Well, there are many ways to get people educated on other cultures. For example, schools could have classes in which students discuss other cultures and lifestyles.

See? It’s simple! You can take action today by spreading the word or talking to your principal about learning about other cultures, or simply by getting to know someone before you judge him or her. Judging people without getting to know them and acting badly about them because you are prejudiced or biased is bullying. So, be a buddy, not a bully!

Join the Message Board to talk about how prejudice affects you and how to help stop it! Join now!

Izzy, Scholastic Kids Council

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23. Free e-book for May: Don’t Look, Don’t Touch, Don’t Eat

9780226131337

Our free e-book for May, Valerie Curtis’s Don’t Look, Don’t Touch, Don’t Eat: The Science behind Revulsion, considers the narrative history and scientific basis behind the psychology of disgust.

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Every flu season, sneezing, coughing, and graphic throat-clearing become the day-to-day background noise in every workplace. And coworkers tend to move as far—and as quickly—away from the source of these bodily eruptions as possible. Instinctively, humans recoil from objects that they view as dirty and even struggle to overcome feelings of discomfort once the offending item has been cleaned. These reactions are universal, and although there are cultural and individual variations, by and large we are all disgusted by the same things.
In Don’t Look, Don’t Touch, Don’t Eat, Valerie Curtis builds a strong case for disgust as a “shadow emotion”—less familiar than love or sadness, it nevertheless affects our day-to-day lives. In disgust, biological and sociocultural factors meet in dynamic ways to shape human and animal behavior. Curtis traces the evolutionary role of disgust in disease prevention and hygiene, but also shows that it is much more than a biological mechanism. Human social norms, from good manners to moral behavior, are deeply rooted in our sense of disgust. The disgust reaction informs both our political opinions and our darkest tendencies, such as misogyny and racism. Through a deeper understanding of disgust, Curtis argues, we can take this ubiquitous human emotion and direct it towards useful ends, from combating prejudice to reducing disease in the poorest parts of the world by raising standards of hygiene.
Don’t Look, Don’t Touch, Don’t Eat reveals disgust to be a vital part of what it means to be human and explores how this deep-seated response can be harnessed to improve the world.
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To download your free copy (through May 31) of Don’t Look, Don’t Touch, Don’t Eat, click here.

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24. Tu Books Announces Winner of New Visions Award Contest for Writers of Color

new visions award winnerNew York, NY— May 7, 2015— Tu Books, the middle grade and young adult imprint of respected multicultural children’s publisher LEE & LOW BOOKS, is thrilled to announce that author Axie Oh has won its second annual New Visions Award for her young adult science fiction novel, The Amaterasu Project.

The award honors a fantasy, science fiction, or mystery novel for young readers by an author of color who has not previously published a novel for that age group. It was established to encourage new talent and to offer authors of color a chance to break into a tough and predominantly white market.

The Amaterasu Project takes place in a futuristic Korea wracked by war and a run by a militarized government, where the greatest weapon—and perhaps the greatest hope—is a genetically modified girl. “The futuristic sci-fi setting is inspired by a combination of Japanese concept art and animated television series,” says Oh. “I hope my new book gives to readers what books have always given to me—a new world to explore and new characters to fall in love with.” Oh will receive a cash prize of $1,000 and a publication contract with Tu Books.

Last year, books by authors of color comprised less than six percent of the total number of books published for young readers, according to the Cooperative Children’s Book Center at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. The annual New Visions Award is a step toward the day when all young readers can see themselves in books.

Two books were chosen as New Visions Award Honors: Yamile Saied Mendez’s On These Magic Shores and Andrea Wang’s Eco-Agent Owen Chang. On These Magic Shores is a contemporary middle grade novel with a touch of magical realism about 12-year-old Minerva, who must step up to take care of her younger sisters when her mother, who is undocumented, goes missing. Eco-Agent Owen Chang is a humorous middle grade mystery about Owen Chang, a middle schooler who moonlights as a secret agent for an undercover environmental organization. Mendez and Wang will each receive a cash prize of $500.

While writing their manuscripts, both Wang and Méndez stressed the importance of seeking out books by and about people of color. “I naturally gravitate toward books by authors of color because they tell stories that mirror my experience as a person of color too,” says Méndez. Similarly, Wang says, “I’m all for reading books that are outside your comfort zone or told from an unfamiliar perspective. Personally, I would rather expand my reading horizons than restrict it.”

ABOUT: Tu Books, an imprint of LEE & LOW BOOKS, publishes diverse speculative fiction for young readers. It is the company’s mission to publish books that all young readers can identify with and enjoy. For more information, visit leeandlow.com/imprints/3.

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25. New Books for Children’s Book Week and a giveaway

Achoo_187 AnimalMouths_187 Fibonacci_187 PrimateSchool_187 ThisLand_187 WandrngWoolly_128

Would you like to win a set of Arbordale’s spring releases?

Here is a fun little fact scavenger hunt related to our spring books complete it this weekend for a chance to win free books.

  • If you suffer from seasonal allergies eating _________________ from your local area may help alleviate symptoms.
  • Butterflies, Bees and other insects don’t have ____________. They have different parts of the mouth that makes eating nectar easy.
  • Iguanas have sharp teeth and are classified as omnivores but they primarily eat __________ and especially ripe _____________.
  • Monkeys also love to eat fruit, and as a ____________ they are animal cousins to humans.
  • Ring-tailed lemurs are primates that live on the tip of Madagascar an ___________ off the coast of ___________.
  • A very large animal that lives in Africa today, the ________________ is a close relative to this extinct Ice Age animal ___________.

Email your answers to Heather (at) Arbordalepublishing.com to win copies of Achoo! Why Pollen Counts, Animal Mouths, Fibonacci Zoo, Primate School, This Land is Your Land and Wandering Woolly!


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