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1. 2014 International Book Industry Excellence Awards

Logo-510x337

Last week, we were humbled to learn that we received the inaugural International Academic and Professional Publisher Award from the London Book Fair, among a ridiculously esteemed group of nominees across multiple categories. The award, part of a new industry-wide pool of honors, furthers the LBF’s mission to “celebrate the role of the book and the written word at the heart of creative content across all formats.”

More from the press release:

These unique new awards, celebrating achievement across the entire business of publishing, will provide a truly global industry vision.  They represent the UK’s recognition of international publishing industry excellence, and take place within the calendar’s most important global publishing event.

LBF and The Publishers Association have selected an group of UK  judges, working at the heart of each category, whose international or discipline-specific expertise qualifies them to judge their peers’ work.

For a full list of winners, visit Publishing Perspectiveswho mention in their write-up of the awards ceremony:

The global book industry saw the birth of something new on Tuesday night, something that will surely grow to become a fixture on the international publishing calendar, something that seemed so right one wondered why it had never existed before.

Again, we’re humbled and honored—congrats to the other winners and all the nominees (excitedly: a truly global list).

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2. Ask an Editor: Villain POVs

Stacy Whitman photo

Stacy Whitman is Editorial Director and Publisher of Tu Books, an imprint of LEE & LOW BOOKS that publishes diverse science fiction and fantasy for middle grade and young adult readers. This blog post was originally posted at her blog, Stacy Whitman’s Grimoire

I have to admit, I really hate reading villain POVs. There are so few villains that have any redeemable qualities, and especially starting a book out with the villain’s point of view when they’re murdering and/or plundering just makes me go, “Why do I want to read this book, again?”

This is actually one of the things I hated most about the famous adult fantasy series Wheel of Time, though I love the series in general: I hated the amount of time spent on this Forsaken’s love of naked mindless servants, and that Forsaken’s love of skinning people, or whatever. Yeah, yeah, I get it, they’re irredeemably evil. Get back to someone I’m actually ROOTING FOR, which is why I’m reading the book!

Vodnik sketch

Vodnik, the villain from Bryce Moore’s novel Vodnik

Sometimes it’s important to briefly show the villain’s point of view to convey to the reader some information that our hero doesn’t have, but I find more and more that my tolerance for even these kinds of scenes is thinning fast. Too often it’s a substitute for more subtle forms of suspense, laying clues that the reader could pick up if they were astute, the kind of clues that the main character should be putting together one by one to the point where when he or she finally figures it out. Then the reader slaps their own forehead and says, “I should have seen that coming!”

It’s a completely different matter, of course, when the whole point is for the “villain” to simply be someone on another side of an ideological or political divide where there are no true “bad guys.” Usually this happens in a book in which your narrators are unreliable, which can be very interesting. Often the villain is the hero in their own story, which is far more interesting than a “pure evil” villain—in Lord of the Rings, Sauron is much less interesting than Saruman. Sauron is the source of pure evil, but Saruman made a choice—he thinks, well, evil will win anyway, I might as well be on top in the new world order. There are complications to his motivations.

Tu Books author Bryce Moore (Vodnikrecently reviewed the first Captain America movie and had this to say about how a character becomes evil, which I think is apropos to this discussion:

Honestly, if writers spent as much time developing the origin and conflicted ethos of the villains of these movies, I think they’d all be doing us a favor. As it is, it’s like they have a bunch of slips of paper with different elements on them, then they draw them at random from a hat and run with it. Ambitious scientist. Misunderstood childhood. Picked on in school.

That’s not how evil works, folks. You don’t become evil because you get hit in the head and go crazy. You become evil by making decisions that seemed good at the time. Justified. Just like you become a hero by doing the same thing. A hero or a villain aren’t born. They’re made. That’s one of the things I really liked about Captain America. He’s heroic, no matter how buff or weak he is.

This is, perhaps, the best description of why villain POVs bug me so much: because they’re oversimplified, villainized. And for some stories, I think villainization works, but I don’t want to see that point of view, because it’s oversimplified and uninteresting. When it’s actually complicated and interesting, then it becomes less “the villain” and more nuanced—sometimes resulting in real evil (after all, I doubt Hitler was an evil baby; he made choices to become the monster he became) and sometimes resulting in a Democrat instead of a Republican or vice versa—ideological, political differences between (usually) relatively good people.

But there’s a line for me, generally the pillaging/raping/murdering/all manner of human rights abuses line, at which I’m sorry, I just don’t care about this guy’s point of view. The equivalent of this in middle grade books—where pillages/murders/rapes are (hopefully) fewer—or young adult books is the pure evil villain who’s just out to get the main character because the villain is black-hearted, mean, vile, what-have-you. Evil through and through, with no threads of humanity. (Though honestly if he’s killing people “for their own good” to protect a certain more nuanced human viewpoint, I generally still don’t want to see that from his POV.)

What’s the line for you? Do you like villain points of view? Do you feel they add depth to a story? At what point do you think a villain POV goes from adding nuance or advancing the plot to annoying?

Filed under: Publishing 101, Tu Books Tagged: ask an editor, fantasy writing, Notes from the Editors, writing advice, writing resources, writing tips

0 Comments on Ask an Editor: Villain POVs as of 4/18/2014 10:39:00 AM
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3. The Imaginary Veterinary: Review Haiku

Coolest internship
ever. But watch out for those
Welcome Wagon-eers!

The Imaginary Veterinary #1: The Sasquatch Escape and The Imaginary Veterinary #2: The Lonely Lake Monster by Suzanne Selfors, illustrated by Dan Santat. Little Brown, 2013, 240 pages.

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4. Celebrity Earth Day!

Earth from space photo

How celebrities observe Earth Day

Earth Day is on its way! Are you ready? What are YOU doing for Earth Day on April 22? We asked Disney stars like Ross Lynch, Olivia Holt, and a bunch of others what they did last Earth Day (and every day) to stay green. You might be inspired!

ROSS LYNCHAUSTIN & ALLYTEEN BEACH MOVIEMAIA MITCHELLBLAKE MICHAELDOG WITH A BLOGCHLOE AND HALLE BAILEYCAMERON BOYCEJESSIECALUM WORTHYKICKIN’ ITA.N.T. FARMLAB RATSGOOD LUCK CHARLIESHAKE IT UPlove our planet EVERY DAY!

image from kids.scholastic.com— En-Szu, STACKS Staffer

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5. From the short story: The Boy In The Leaves by J.D. Holiday

The Boy In The Leaves


from Short Stories and Other Imaginings for The Reading Spot


by J.D. Holiday


All Rights Reserved


Copyright 2014 by J.D. Holiday
The Boy  In The Leaves B&W FINISHEDFinal 3-25-13  JDHOLIDAY


A small boy laid there, motionless. Unlike the leaves around him he lay undisturbed by the wind gust.


Max stepped away. It was just a little kid. He looked asleep, his dark skinwas a shade of blue and purple, almost translucent. Thin parchment spanning a fragile frame.


The boy wore black jeans and an orange T-shirt with a ‘Save The Oceans’ logo across his chest. A crusted gash was on his forehead. Any time now he’d move, open his eyes and jump up, laughing.


“He’s dead,” Tony said again, this time contemptuously, his eyes wells of tears.


Max’s chest felt crushed like the time he’d fallen on his back from the school yardjungle gym and he couldn’t pull air in. He managed to say, “Maybe he’s not.”


Tony shook his head. “The little piss head. Dumb shit! He didn’t do whathe should have and now he’s dead. Stupid kid!”


Max stared at the kid. For a moment he sawTonylying in the boy’s place.Max choked. “He’s sick or something.” He hedged closer and squatted down, hesitantly touching the boy’s face. The skin was unusually cold, and the cheek dented in easily, like clay. Max jumped back falling on his backside.


“He’s dead. Can’t you see that cut on his head? They smashed him with something.Hard!” Richie loudly told him, his hands clutched at his side.


“No. Maybe it was an accident. Or a car hit him.”


“Grow up, Max. It happens,”Tony said softly now, grabbing Max’s sleeveand jerking him to his feet. “We have to tell.”


On his feet again, Max let Tony continue pulling him toward his own house. At the front door Tony using his key, lead Max inside.


They softly moved through the silent house to the kitchen in back, bright light from the many windows illuminating their way. Nothing was ever out of place there. Alwaysa bleachy smell in the air as if someone wiped off everything to disinfect and kill all the germs before they contaminated the inhabitants of the house. This house gave Max the creeps. There was something missing from it. What it was Max knew well, though things have changed since his stepfather now sucks it all up in their family. There was no love and what was there, felt like old toast taste; brittle, crackly and harsh. Most times Max could get Tony to come over to his house and hang out.When Max was here though, at Tony‘s, he felt it. Something always spooked him, only worse this time. Finding the boy did it, never having seen someone dead before.


He could almost see Tony getting beaten up here. Marus broke Tony‘s leg with thebaseball bat Tony usually kept leaning inside the garage door. Tony said he was batted to short stop, the patio doors calling him out. His parents told people he’d fallen from a backyard tree. Afterwards, Tony put the bat through the lattice work decorating the front porch, out of sight under the stairs so Maris couldn’t use it again.


Copyright by J.D. Holiday 2014

0 Comments on From the short story: The Boy In The Leaves by J.D. Holiday as of 4/17/2014 3:05:00 PM
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6. Where the North Sea Touches Alabama

Where the North Sea Touches Alabama is a strange book—I’ve been describing it to strangers (note the relationship between adjective and noun) as an ethnography of mourning, but really it’s a peculiar hybrid of sociological exegesis, lyric essay, and phantasmagorical travelogue. I believe author Allen C. Shelton might consider it a novel, just as Walter Benjamin certainly must have plucked a term from the atmosphere to describe the Arcades Project as he carried its pages in a suitcase like fake currency.

The book considers the tragic life and death of the artist Patrik Keim, a friend of the author’s, and a theoretical muse or Betelgeuse ostensibly traveling between this world and another. That’s the stuff of Western philosophy in the wake of Hegel, or a battered Platonic ideal we repeat to ourselves—the absolute idealism that marks being as an all-inclusive whole: not subject without object, and vice-versa. Shelton takes on this canon—Marx, Foucault, Weber, and especially, Benjamin—and arrives at someplace not entirely recognizable. Maybe that’s because the rest of the landscape he renders—via an epistolary immersion in northeastern Alabama—is so unavoidably specific. Anyhow: not to give too much away. The above trailer should be enough to get you started—like the book, it’s a well-made and unconventional narrative.

And to conclude, from an equally strange—lyrical, inculcating even—review of the book by Daryl White from Paste magazine:

My inner Walter Mitty belongs to a small collective of social science writers.

We call ourselves the Professors Higgin. We commiserate, critique and urge each other to confess our literary sins, our endless little murders of the English tongue. We comprise a teacher, a pragmatist, a printmaker, a contrarian, a recovering atheist, an agnostic, a believer with no object of belief, a jaded millenarian, a Luddite, a backsliding Marxist and, depending on academic circumstances, either an anthropologist or a sociologist—an erstwhile Whitman’s Sampler.

We help each other, endlessly contradict, chide, commiserate and condemn colleagues’ writing. We laugh at our phobias, strain for 12-step clarity and all too rarely acknowledge the debt we owe our students. With ease, we blame them for our petty insanities, resent their ability to absorb our time and in the end know our better selves in their reflections.

We read Where the North Sea Touches Alabama in sustained awe. Inspired. Heartened. Daunted.

To read more about Where the North Sea Touches Alabama, click here.

 

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7. Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy: Review Haiku

A few obvious
plot points, perhaps, but still,
a marvelous story.

Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy by Karen Foxlee. Knopf, 2014, 240 pages.

0 Comments on Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy: Review Haiku as of 4/16/2014 6:07:00 AM
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8. New Story from Rick Riordan

Rick Riordan photo

“The Staff of Serapis”

You might remember last year, Rick Riordan published “The Son of Sobek” as an extra crossover story in the The Serpent’s Shadow. The story featured both Percy Jackson and Carter Kane together in the same story. It’s crazy when characters jump out of their own series and into other characters’ series, right? Well, Riordan has done it again. He announced on his blog last week that the new U.S. paperback edition of The Mark of Athena in stores now features a story with Annabeth Chase and Sadie Kane! It has the awesome title “The Staff of Serapis.”

The Staff of Serapis book cover

If you don’t want to buy The Mark of Athena paperback, the story will be available in e-formats, with the cover above, on May 20. Or you could, you know, rush to the library and see if they have the new paperback edition with the story at the end. Tell the librarian it MUST be the 2014 paperback edition!

What do you think? Did you like “The Son of Sobek”

enough to want a second story? Do you think Riordan should write an entire series combining all his characters?? Leave a Comment.

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9. Where In The World: How One Class Used Google Maps to Explore the Vanishing Cultures Series

Throughout April, we are exploring how Jan Reynolds’ Vanishing Cultures series can be used in the classroom to teach about the environment, geo-literacy, global citizenship, and nonfiction. Today, we want to share how one school has integrated geo-literacy with digital and visual literacy.

Michael Willis and the Kaleidoscope Team at Williston Central School in Williston, Vermont helped their 3rd and 4th grade classroom build a map on Google Maps of the cultures featured in the books. Through this project, students were able to investigate topics and themes in the Vanishing Cultures series, practice deriving information from other formats and develop visual literacy skills, and gain rich social studies/ geography content knowledge.

The Google Maps assignment is an exciting way to engage reluctant or struggling readers, facilitate the participation of visual learners and English Language Learners, or provide an extension opportunity for ready or advanced learners. The 3rd and 4th grade students hope that in addition to deepening their own knowledge about traditional cultures, their project provides useful and valuable information for others.

From educator, Michael Willis: My 3rd and 4th grade team wanted to get an author in to share their experiences with our young writers.  Ideally we wanted a local person and sure enough Jan Reynolds, who lives in Vermont, was available.  First we hit up our library as well as the others in our area and got our hands on Jan’s Vanishing Cultures series.  We read aloud her books, visited her website, and then Jan came.

She shared a movie about her work and travels with our whole team in the auditorium and then spent time answering questions in smaller groups.  It was during one of the small presentations that Jan mentioned how great it would be to use Google Maps to highlight her book locations.  I thought it would be a great project for our students, and they were motivated to do it by the idea that the project could be shared with other students who read Jan’s books.

We used Google Maps to plot out where in the world Jan’s Vanishing Cultures books take place, and put together this map.

Map

Williston Central School Google Earth Map for Vanishing Cultures series

Here’s what the students had to say about the project:

What was it like doing the Google Earth Project?

Grace – I thought that it was really fun because we were working with a famous author.  We had to get all of her books and look up where she had been using Google Earth.

Isabelle – We dropped pins on the locations using the facts and map information on the inside covers of her books.  Doing this project motivated us to have to read her books and learn about the cultures that she visited.  It made me appreciate how lucky we are to have the things we have.

Logan – The map project was really interesting.  It helped me understand how many different places Jan had been.  I didn’t know that there were cultures vanishing from the Earth.  It made me want to learn more about the cultures.  The books were helpful because she had really been to visit the people, talk to them, and learn how they live.

Addie – We used the summaries and the content from the books to add a brief description to the pins which marked the places.  This project motivated us because we wanted to help others learn.  It felt special because we were the first ones to do this and actually get published!  Plus, I didn’t even know these cultures existed!

Myleigh – The motivating part of the project was that I don’t usually get to explore the world. How often do people get to learn about this kind of thing?  It was almost like traveling the world reading Jan’s books.

What do you think is the purpose of Jan’s books?  What do they help you realize?

Sean – Her purpose was to teach children about the Vanishing Cultures and what is happening to them.  I think Jan’s message was not that they need our help because they have been surviving for a long time.  She was telling us that we should respect them, their way of life, and to respect their land.  I learned that they are just like everyday people.  To them, I bet we would look like the outsiders.  Everyone has traditions that they do.

Addie – We are lucky to have so many resources to use.

Grace – It made me realize how different these cultures are from us

Isabelle – It also made me realize that we all are not that different.  We may have different stuff and live in different parts of the world, but we all are people.

Grace – We can help other cultures by protecting the regions where they live

Addie – We realized that while our cultures are different, we shouldn’t force them to disappear because we all have something to learn from each other.  We could be more conscious of our waste and our pollution and that could help them keep their culture and survive

Isabelle – I think that it is important to respect different cultures because it’s how they live.  The Celebrations book helped me learn that different cultures celebrate different holidays

What was it like having Jan visit?

Myleigh – It was really cool to see Jan’s presentation and to hear her describe her trips first hand.  It really helped me put myself in her shoes and understand what she was going through.  When I was hearing her use such descriptive language it felt like I was right there with her.

Katrina – I think that since she came it really helped us understand that you should appreciate what you have – even though the people in the other cultures don’t have a lot they still seemed happy.  The people in those cultures work hard to live off the land and work with nature by using their resources. It really helped me learn about cultures that I didn’t know about.

For more resources on the Vanishing Cultures series, check out:

How are you using the Vanishing Cultures series in your classroom? Share your thoughts, experiences, and strategies that have worked in your school and community! Post a comment below or email Lee & Low at curriculum@leeandlow.com.

 

 


Filed under: Curriculum Corner Tagged: CCSS, children's books, classroom projects, close reading, common core standards, digital literacy, diversity, Educators, ELA common core standards, environmentalism, geography, geoliteracy, reading comprehension, visual literacy

0 Comments on Where In The World: How One Class Used Google Maps to Explore the Vanishing Cultures Series as of 4/15/2014 9:47:00 AM
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10. Character Crossbreeds

Character Combinations Writing Prompt

Character Crossbreeds

A long time ago, like, a REALLY long time ago, I posted a Character Combinations Writing Prompt asking you to create a new character by combining 2 existing characters. There were some amazing answers. Seriously, you should go read the Comments from that post

. Today’s Writing Prompt is similar but different. Here goes. . .

If you spliced your own DNA with the DNA of a fictional character together, which character would you create?

For example:

  • Me + Harry Potter = Lyra Belacqua from The Golden CompassMe + the White Witch from The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe = Elsa from Frozen— Sonja, STACKS Staffer Add a Comment
11. We Were Liars: Review Haiku

ZOMGWTFBBQ--
yes, it's just as
good as you hoped.

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart. Delacorte, 2014, 240 pages.

0 Comments on We Were Liars: Review Haiku as of 4/14/2014 7:17:00 AM
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12. Blobfish Caption

createacaption2

Blobfish Create a Caption
Blobfish

Image courtesy the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

You may remember this little fella from our Dog with a Blog Would You Rather post last month. Judging by your comments, you guys seemed to really like this blobby guy. And by “like,” I mean you thought it was the most disgusting thing you ever saw.

DogBlue5029 said, “What is that?”
BloodhoundBlue840

said, “What the heck is that big sloppy thing that looks like it’s drooling?”
ArtPink725
said, “I would not kiss the blobfish.”
CherriesHamster14
said, “Who would want to even touch a blobfish?”
Aqi said, “I know! Who on EARTH would kiss a blobfish?! It looks like it is DROOLING!!!!!”

Well, you’ve had your say. Now let’s give the blobfish a chance to say what’s on its mind. Write a caption for what you think this creature is thinking. Leave your caption in the Comments, and remember to be kind! The blobfish has feelings, too, you know!

image from kids.scholastic.com— Sonja, STACKS Staffer

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13. TEN: Birthday Haiku

How in heck can I
have a double-digit child?
THAT'S UNPOSSIBLE.

0 Comments on TEN: Birthday Haiku as of 4/12/2014 2:19:00 PM
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14. 10 Best Strategies for Reading to Kids in Spanish

Jennifer Brunk

Jennifer Brunk has been teaching Spanish and English learners from preschool to university level for over 20 years. She reGuest Blogger Iconsides in Wisconsin where she raised her three children speaking Spanish and English. Jennifer blogs about resources for teaching Spanish to children on Spanish Playground. The following post is reprinted with permission from her original post at Spanish Playground. 

Research has shown that reading to children helps them learn vocabulary and improves listening comprehension skills. As a parent or teacher, you are probably convinced of the value of reading to your child in Spanish, but how should you do it to promote language development?

First, it is important to keep in mind that above all reading should be enjoyable. We want to create positive associations with reading in any language. So, use these strategies and add plenty of silliness, snuggling, or whatever makes your child smile.Nana's Big Surprise/ Nana, ¡Qué Sorpresa!

1. Identify core vocabulary in the story. If there are words that are central to the story that your child does not know, teach them first or make them clear as you read by pointing to the illustrations or using objects.

2. Use illustrations, objects, gestures and facial expressions to help kids understand new words. Choose stories with a limited number of new vocabulary words and a close text-to-picture correspondence.

3. Simplify the story if necessary. It is fine to reword or skip words or sentences. As your child becomes familiar with the story and acquires more vocabulary, you can include new language.

4. Read slowly. Children need time to process the sounds, connect them with the illustrations and form their own mental images.

5. Pronounce words as correctly as possible. To develop listening comprehension skills and learn new vocabulary, children need to hear correct pronunciation and natural rhythm. If your Spanish pronunciation is a work in progress, take advantage of technology. Look for books with audio CDs and ask a native speaker to record stories. At first, listen to the story with your child and take over reading when you are confident of the pronunciation.Dónde está mi perrito?

6. Engage your child with the story by providing different ways for her to participate.Ask questions that can be answered by pointing or say a repeated phrase together.  You can also give your child a toy or object that she can hold up each time she hears a key word.

7. Read the same story over and over. Repetition is essential to language learning.

8. Relate the story to your child’s life by drawing parallels as you read: Tiene un perro. Nosotros también tenemos un perro. As you go about your daily routines, refer to stories you have read.

9. Use puppets or figures to act out stories when you are playing with your child. Dramatizing the story adds movement to enhance learning and provides essential repetition of the language in context.

10. Do activities that expand on the language in the book. Look for songs, crafts or games with related vocabulary and structures.

Día de los niños/ Día de los librosVisit Spanish Playground for more great resources for teaching Spanish to children, and don’t forget that Dia de los niños/ Día de los libros is in just a few weeks! What are you doing to celebrate? What are your favorite books in Spanish to read aloud?


Filed under: Curriculum Corner, guest blogger Tagged: bilingual, bilingual books, bilingual education, Día de los niños/Día de los libros, ell, English-Spanish, Latino/Hispanic/Mexican, libros en Español, parents, Read Aloud, Reading Aloud, reading comprehension, teaching resources

2 Comments on 10 Best Strategies for Reading to Kids in Spanish, last added: 4/14/2014
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15. Disney Lunar Eclipse

Jake Short, Bradley Steven Perry, and Paris MaryJo Berelc in Mighty Med

Disney Lunar Eclipse: Kickin’ It, Mighty Med, and Lab Rats

There will be a full eclipse of the moon on Monday night and into the early, early hours of Tuesday morning. Some people believe that a lunar eclipse can cause bizarre things to happen. Have you ever noticed that the word “lunatic” has the same root as “lunar?” And that Luna Lovegood is kind of, well, loony? Makes you think, doesn’t it? Anyway, on Monday, April 14th, Disney XD will air special episodes of 3 shows. We’ve got the details about those episodes plus interviews with some of the actors about the strange things they HOPE will happen on Monday night!

Kickin’ It:

“Invasion of the Ghost Pirates” (8:00 pm – 8:30 pm E.T./P.T.)

With an impending lunar eclipse, an old Seaford legend surfaces about a ghost pirate returning to seek his revenge on the wharf after a lunar eclipse 300 years ago led to his ship crashing into the shore. Jack makes it clear he doesn’t believe in ghosts, but his skepticism is put to the test.

Mighty Med: “Night of the Living Nightmare” (8:30 pm – 9:00 pm E.T./P.T.)

Kaz and Oliver are exhausted and stuck working the overnight shift during a lunar eclipse, when it is rumored that the freakiest patients come to the hospital. When Neocortex checks in with an illness that unintentionally traps people in their worst nightmares, Kaz and Oliver desperately try to stay awake and figure out how to save everyone from their nightmares.

Lab Rats:

“Principal from Another Planet” (9:00 pm – 9:30 pm E.T./P.T.)

Leo is determined to record the bizarre events he believes take place during a lunar eclipse. Davenport is skeptical until it appears that an alien life form has taken control of Principal Perry’s body.

Q: What strange or wacky thing do you wish would happen as a result of this eclipse?

Jake Short:

 (a.k.a. Oliver in Mighty Med) I wish it would start raining my favorite candy – Starburst.
Paris MaryJo Berelc: (a.k.a. Skylar in Mighty MedI hope the eclipse will give me the ability to breakdance over water.
Auggie Isaac: (a.k.a. Gus in Mighty MedI wish that just when the eclipse was happening, everyone got a superpower. That would be awesome.
Dylan Riley Snyder:


 (a.k.a. Milton in Kickin’ It) I wish that I would gain awesome superpowers during an eclipse. I would either use them to help with my daily life, or just show off. It would be nice to be very strong, or to fly, or even to control time. I think an eclipse could be powerful enough!
Tyrel Jackson Williams
: (a.k.a. Leo in Lab Rats) As the moon passes in front of the sun, I gain the ability to fly. My life is complete!

What do YOU hope will happen as a result of the lunar eclipse? Leave your wishes/predictions in the Comments!

image from kids.scholastic.com— Sonja, STACKS Staffer

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16. Poetry Friday: “A Poem!” from Etched In Clay

andrea chengAndrea Cheng is the author of several critically-acclaimed books for young readers. Her most Guest bloggerrecent novel, Etched in Clay, tells the story in verse of Dave the Potter, an enslaved man, poet, and master craftsperson whose jars (many of which are inscribed with his poetry and writings) are among the most sought-after pieces of Edgefield pottery. Etched in Clay recently won the Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award.

April is National Poetry Month, so we asked author Andrea Cheng to share one of her favorite poems from Etched in Clay:

FEATURED POEM

Etched in Clay, p. 65

A Poem!

Dave, July 12, 1834

The summer’s so hot,

it’s like we’re living

in the furnace.

The clay doesn’t like it either,

getting hard on me

too quick.

I better hurry now,

before the sun’s too low to see.

What words will I scrawl

across the shoulder

of this jar?

I hear Lydia’s voice in my head.

Be careful, Dave.

Those words in clay

can get you killed.

But I will die of silence

if I keep my words inside me

any longer.

Doctor Landrum used to say

it’s best to write a poem a day,

for it calms the body

and the soul

to shape those words.

 etched in clay jar

This jar is a beauty,

big and wide,

fourteen gallons

I know it will hold.

I have the words now,

and my stick is sharp.

I write:

put every bit all between

surely this jar will hold 14.

Andrea Cheng: There are three poems in Etched in Clay which speak directly about the act of writing.  In the first one, “Tell the World,”  (EIC p. 38) Dave writes in clay for the first time.  Using a sharp stick, he carves the date, April 18, into a brick; he is announcing to the world that on this day, “a man started practicing/his letters.”  In the poem called “Words and Verses,” (EIC p. 52) Dave thinks about writing down one of the poems that has been swirling around in his head as he works on the potter’s wheel.  Finally, in “A Poem!” (EIC  p. 67) Dave actually carves a couplet into one of his jars.  His words are practical and ordinary; he simply comments on the size of the jar.  But he is no longer silent.

Further Reading:

Andrea Cheng on Writing Biography in Verse

An interview with Andrea Cheng about Etched in Clay in School Library Journal

A look at how Andrea Cheng made the woodcut illustrations for Etched in Clay


Filed under: guest blogger, Holidays, Musings & Ponderings Tagged: Andrea Cheng, dave the potter, david drake, Etched in Clay, National Poetry Month, poems, poetry, poetry Friday, pottery, slavery

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17. Congratulations to the 2014 Guggenheim Fellows

Guggenheim_Seal

Congratulations to the 2014 class of Guggenheim Fellows, announced this week by the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation. The Guggenheim, a “mid-career award” (PS: Clare Vaye Watkins, knocking it out of the park for the younger generation), which honors scholars, scientists, poets, artists, and writers, extends its fellowships to assist with research and artistic creation. As we’ve noted in the past, the fellowship possesses some tortured origins—(John) Simon Guggenheim, who served as president of the American Smelting and Refining Company and Republican senator from Colorado, seeded the award (1925) following the death of this son John (1922) from mastoiditis (Guggenheim’s second son George later committed suicide, and more infamously his older brother Benjamin went down with the Titanic).

We’re delighted to see included among the “professionals who have demonstrated exceptional ability by publishing a significant body of work in the fields of natural sciences, social sciences, humanities, and the creative arts,” a roster of fellowship winners affiliated with the University of Chicago Press:

***

Susan Bee, Fine Arts; contributor of cover images to With Strings: PoemsMy Way: Speeches and PoemsGirly Man, and Recalculating, all by Charles Bernstein

Susan Bernofsky, Translation; contributor to The Sound of Poetry/The Poetry of Sound (ed. Marjorie Perloff and Craig Dworkin)

Deborah R. Coen, History of Science, Technology, and Economics; author of The Earthquake Observers: Disaster Science from Lisbon to Richter and Vienna in the Age of Uncertainty: Science, Liberalism, and Private Life

Andrew Cole, Medieval and Renaissance Literature; author of The Birth of Theory

Donald Crafton, Film, Video, and Radio Studies; author of Before Mickey: The Animated Film, 1898–1928

Latoya Ruby Frazier, Photography; contributor to The Way of the Shovel: On the Archaeological Imaginary in Art

Joseph P. Gone, Psychology; advisory board member for The Child: An Encyclopedic Companion

Yunte Huang, General Nonfiction; contributor to The Sound of Poetry/The Poetry of Sound (ed. Marjorie Perloff and Craig Dworkin)

Sarah Kay, Medieval and Renaissance Literature, author of Animal Skins and Human Selves in Medieval Latin and French Bestiaries (forthcoming)

Carla Mazzio, English Literature; editorial board member, Renaissance Drama and author of The Trouble with Numbers: The Drama of Mathematics in the Age of Shakespeare (forthcoming)

Ange Mlinko, Poetry; contributor to The Open Door: One Hundred Poems, One Hundred Years of Poetry Magazine

Monika Piazzesi, Economics; editorial board member, Journal of Political Economy

Rayna Rapp, Anthropology and Cultural Studies; contributor to Connected: Engagements with Media (ed. George E. Marcus)

Victoria Redel, Fiction; author of Swoon (Phoenix Poets)

Haun Saussy, East Asian Studies; editorial board member, Modern Philology

Susan Sidlauskas, Fine Arts Research; editorial board member, Signs

Rachel Sussman, Photography; author of The Oldest Living Things in the World

Emily Talen, Architecture, Planning, and Design; author of Neighborhood: The Measure and Meaning of an Urban Ideal (forthcoming)

Marjorie Welish, Poetry; contributor to The Studio Reader: On the Space of Artists

Congratulations, again, to the new cohort of Fellows!

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18. SPONSORED POST Amazing Spider-Man Stunts

The Amazing Spider-Man 2

SPONSORED POST The Amazing Spider-Man 2TM

This blog post is sponsored by The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (rated PG-13).trailer for The Amazing Spider-Man 2™

. In fact, well over 200 stunt performers punched the clock during shooting, says the movie’s stunt coordinator James Armstrong.

“The actors rehearse in a huge empty parking lot and we put marks down on the ground to replicate where curbs, or buildings or different things are,” explains Armstrong, whose father was also a stunt coordinator on the film. “Then, they have to try and take that and remember it for the actual shoot.”

Armstrong worked closely with all of the stars in the movie, and says that it’s the goal to have the actors do their own stunts whenever feasible. The trick is keeping someone like The Amazing Spider-Man 2™ star Andrew Garfield in check, who plays Spider-Man and was eager to get his hands dirty on the set as often as possible. “Andrew does a lot of stunts and sometimes we actually have to rein him in more than he’d like just to keep him safe,” says Armstrong. Yikes! Take it easy there, Spidey – you’ve got a whole city to protect!

Read The Amazing Spider-Man 2™ interactive magazine

to learn more now!

Ready to peep the gravity-defying hijinks in The Amazing Spider-Man 2™? Share your Comments below.

This blog post is sponsored by The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (rated PG-13).

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19. Grimmtastic Girls Little Red Riding Hood

Grimmtastic Girls book cover

Red Riding Hood Gets Lost

Tomorrow are the auditions for the school play at Grimm Academy, and I can’t wait to try out! I want to play the lead, Red Robin Hood. But it’s my first time auditioning and I’ve got stage fright! How grimmiserable!

It doesn’t help that my friends and I are all worried about the E.V.I.L. Society that’s making trouble at the Academy. If only I had a magical charm to help us figure out what’s going on – and maybe help me get the lead in the play!

Any suggestions to help me get over my stage fright? I’m so glad I have my grimmtastic friends Cinda, Snow, and Rapunzel to help me out. I know I can always count on them!

Love,
Red

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20. Operation Bunny: Review Haiku

It doesn't always
make sense, but you'll still enjoy
the ride. (Love Fidget!)

Operation Bunny (Wings & Co. Book #1) by Sally Gardner, illustrated by David Roberts. Square Fish, 2014, 192 pages.

0 Comments on Operation Bunny: Review Haiku as of 4/9/2014 7:23:00 AM
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21. Chronicles of Narnia Readalikes

Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe book cover

Chronicles of Narnia Readalikes

You know when you find an amazing book, and you never want it to end? How do you find another book to read after that? Our answer: Readalikes to the rescue! We hope our Readalikes will rescue you from the what-to-read-next question, and help you find lots of new amazing books.

In The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis, 4 kids discover a secret entrance (through a wardrobe) into a magical world (with a talking lion . . . and a witch)!

There are 7 books in The Chronicles of Narnia series

, plus 3 movies (and rumors of a fourth!), but once you’ve finished all those, what to read next? Look for these other exciting books for ages 8-12 about smart, brave kids going on magical adventures.

The Search for WondLa

by Tony DiTerlizzi
The only home Eva Nine has ever known is an underground Sanctuary, cared for by a robot. Her search for another human being brings her into a strange above-ground world.

Dragon Rider

by Cornelia Funke
With a lonely boy named Ben on board, the brave, young dragon Firedrake sets out on a journey to find the mythical place where silver dragons can live in peace forever. They encounter fantastic creatures, and cross the path of a ruthless villain with an ancient grudge who’s determined to end their quest. Will Ben and Firedrake be able to find the Rim of Heaven so all dragons can finally live in peace?

 The Underland Chronicles:

Gregor the Overlander by Suzanne Collins
In the first book of the Underland Chronicles, Gregor loses his little sister as she tumbles down the laundry chute into an underground world where spiders, bats, cockroaches, and rats are about to make war.

Chronicles of Pyrdain Book #1: The Book of Three by Lloyd Alexander
A strong-willed princess, a talkative bard, and an assistant pig-keeper with dreams of becoming a hero all join forces in this funny and epic adventure. See also the other books in the Chronicles of Prydain series.

Half Magic by Edward Eager
Four kids discover a magic coin so old that only half of its magic works, wreaking unexpected havoc on all their wishes.

Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin
A village girl named Minli goes on a journey to find the Old Man of the Moon and meets a dragon along the way.

Any Which Wall by Laurel Snyder
Henry, Emma, Roy, and Susan find a magic wall that will take them any place and any time they’d like to go.

Chrestomanci: Charmed Life by Dianne Wynne Jones
Cat and his older sister Gwendolyn, a young but powerful witch, attract the attention of The Chrestomanci, the most powerful enchanter in the world. See also the other books in the Chrestomanci series.

Winterling by Sarah Prineas
Fer has never quite felt like she belongs in this world, so she’s eager to follow Puck into a faery kingdom, even though it’s a dangerous world of winter.

Peter and the Starcatchers by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson
Peter and his fellow orphans set sail aboard the Never Land, a ship secretly carrying a precious and mysterious cargo, and the journey quickly becomes fraught with excitement and danger. Treacherous battles with pirates, foreboding thunderstorms at sea, mysterious sea creatures, and angry natives race the story along to finally reveal how Peter becomes the infamous Peter Pan. See also the other books in the Starcatchers series.

The Books of Beginning Book #1: The Emerald Atlas by John Stephens
Kate, Michael, and Emma have been tossed from one orphanage to another for the last ten years. Yet, these unwanted children are more remarkable than they could possibly imagine. Ripped from their parents as babies, they are being protected from a horrible evil they know nothing about. . .Until now. See also the other books in The Books of Beginning series.

His Dark Materials Book #1: The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman
11-year-old Lyra is a precocious orphan growing up within Jordan College in Oxford, England, but Lyra’s world is not precisely like our own. In Lyra’s world, everyone has a personal dæmon, a lifelong animal familiar that represents her soul. Lyra and her daemon are about to embark on the adventure of a lifetime. See also the other books His Dark Materials Trilogy.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

by J. K. Rowling
Harry Potter has no idea how famous he is. That’s because he’s being raised by his mean aunt and uncle who are terrified Harry will learn that he’s really a wizard, just as his parents were. But everything changes when Harry is summoned to attend the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, and he begins to discover some clues about his illustrious birthright. See also the other books in the Harry Potter series.

Hope you like our Readalikes!

–Melissa, Scholastic Booktalker

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22. Recycle Your Old Clothes

Make a difference!

Fashionistas can help save the planet.

Last year for Earth Day, I gave you some tips for how to reduce, reuse, and recycle

 the everyday stuff you would normally throw away. This year, the clothing store H&M is joining in to make a difference by giving your old clothes a new life. You can bring unwanted clothes of any brand and in any condition to H&M stores, and they will recycle them.

According to the H&M website, “Every year tons of textiles are thrown out and end up in landfills. As much as 95% of these clothes could be used again — re-worn, reused, or recycled depending on the state of the garment.”

The clothes will be separated in three groups:H&M Clothes Recycle Box

How can you help?

Go through your clothes and pick out the ones that don’t fit you anymore, or have huge stains or holes in the knees, and ask your parent if you can bring them to your local H&M store. You’ll see a big drop-off box like this one. Pop your old clothes in and be very proud of yourself for helping to save the planet!

image from kids.scholastic.comSonja, STACKS Staffer

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23. Andrea Cheng on Writing Biography in Verse

Andrea Cheng image

Andrea Cheng is the author of several critically-acclaimed books for young readers. Her most Guest bloggerrecent novel, Etched in Clay, tells the story in verse of Dave the Potter, an enslaved man, poet, and master craftsperson whose jars (many of which are inscribed with his poetry and writings) are among the most sought-after pieces of Edgefield pottery. Etched in Clay recently won the Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award.

When I heard an NPR review of Leonard Todd’s book, Carolina Clay, I knew that Dave’s was a story I wanted to Etched in Claytell.  And from the start, I knew that I wanted to tell it in verse.   Readers often ask me why.  I didn’t make this decision consciously, but subconsciously, I think there were reasons.

The evidence of Dave’s life is fragmentary: pots and shards and bills of sale.    This means that each small piece of evidence stands for something more, something much larger than the object itself.  For example, the first bill of sale shows that Harvey Drake purchased a teenage boy for six hundred dollars.  He was “country born” with “good teeth” and “a straight back. “ (Etched in Clay, p. 7) There is so much sorrow in these few words.  A person is being evaluated and then sold like an animal.  After a quick transaction, he becomes the property of someone else.  The only way I know to allow a reader to feel this sorrow is through the intensity of a poem.

And of course, Dave was a poet, so it seems fitting to tell his life in verse.  Sometimes he had fun with words and puns and tongue twisters like mag-nan-i-mous and se-ver-it-y. Other times he expressed the sorrow of his life in cryptic couplets:

I wonder where is all my relation

friendship to all—and every nation.

Poetry is intense and versatile.  Each word and each phrase is loaded and can hold multiple meanings.  This is the way that Dave wrote, and it is the only way that I could attempt to represent his life.

The other question people often ask is why I chose to tell the story in multiple voices.

The first poems I wrote were from Dave’s point of view.  I started with:

Another Name

Illustration from Etched in Clay

Illustration from Etched in Clay

            Dave, 1815

Master says ”Dave—

That suits you.

That’s your name.”

He can call me

Whatever he pleases,

Tom or John or Will or Dave,

No matter.

 

I had another name once.

I can’t remember the sound of it;

But I know the voice,

smooth and soft,

that whispered it

close to my ear

in the still night.

And then

my mother was gone.

After writing several poems in Dave’s voice, I wanted to explore the other people in Dave’s life.  What did they say?  How did they feel?  How did they relate to Dave?  What about Harvey Drake, a young man sent by his uncle to purchase a slave?  Was he confident in making this purchase?  Did he have doubts?   What about Eliza, a house slave thought to be Dave’s first wife?  I cannot imagine the sorrow of their separation when she was sold and taken to Alabama.  I wanted to hear from Dave’s subsequent owners: Abner Landrum, John Landrum,  Reuben Drake, Lewis Miles, and BF Landrum.  Lewis Miles and Dave seemed to have become friends of sorts, even joking about the way to place a handle on a clay pot.  And then there was the despicable Benjamin Franklin Landrum who  says “It takes a strong whip/to  control these slaves.” (EIC p. 101.)  After a terrible beating, Dave finds one of the slaves “…hanging limp/and her pulse is gone.”

Illustration from Etched in Clay

Illustration from Etched in Clay

Multiple voices can allow the readers a glimpse into the minds of various characters.  Why do they do what they do?  How do they rationalize their actions to themselves and others?  How do they relate to other characters?  With multiple voices, the writer can create a world.

While doing the research for Etched in Clay, I read articles about Dave’s pottery and viewed photographs of his jugs.   I read about the history of South Carolina and the Landrum Family that owned Dave through much of his life.  I read hundreds of slave narratives.  And then I drove 11 hours from Ohio to South Carolina.

While traipsing across the Carolina fields where Dave once lived and worked, it started drizzling.  After a short storm, the sun came out, and I saw that the field was littered with shards of pottery, glistening in the morning light.  I picked up a few shards and wondered if perhaps they were Dave’s.  Then I walked downhill to the creek where Dave and others dug the clay.  The water was cold and running fast.  The banks were steep.  I held a handful of wet clay in my hand.  In the evening, at the Edgefield Inn, near Dave’s home, I wrote many of the poems in Etched in Clay.  Like the shards I had seen, I hope that they create a whole.

Further Reading:

An interview with Andrea Cheng about Etched in Clay in School Library Journal

A look at how Andrea Cheng made the woodcut illustrations for Etched in Clay


Filed under: Curriculum Corner Tagged: Etched in Clay, National Poetry Month, Nonfiction poetry, poetry, teaching resources, writing, writing resources

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24. Jack Griffo Answers Your Questions

Jack Griffo

Jack Griffo of The Thundermans answers YOUR questions!

In case you missed it, Jack Griffo (of The Thundermans), Kids’ Choice Awards nominee, offered to answer your questions about being an actor, getting slimed, and superpowers. Check out his answers below!

Dasha: Would you like to be a superhero? If so, what powers would you want to have?

Jack: Who wouldn’t?!  I’d like to have either invisibility or super strength.

Christina: How does it feel to have so many fans? Do you get bothered of people asking for pictures?

Jack: Not at all. I really enjoy meeting people and talking about the show. It feels great to know that so many people out there are watching.

Mae: How old were you when you realized you wanted to be an actor?

Jack: I was 13.

Danielle: How long does it usually take for you to learn your lines?

Jack: We get 3 days. On Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday we rehearse and learn our lines, and then we shoot Thursday and Friday.

Nicki: Most people who work for Nickelodeon eventually get slimed. Have you been slimed?

Jack: I have gotten slimed!

Megan: What do you like most about being an actor?

Jack: I love being able to tell stories and be a part of them.

A: What’s it like working with the other people on set?

Jack: It feels like a big family! We all have a fun time working together!

Brianna:  What show would you like to guest star in?

Jack: Teen Wolf. I think it would be so awesome to be on that show.

CobraDog379

If you weren’t an actor, what would you be?

Jack: I wanted to be a police officer for a while when I was a kid!

Pratham: What do you like to do for fun?

Jack: My favorite thing to do when I have free time is to just chill. I love sitting by the pool with my shades and playing guitar.

DogPoetry22:

 Do you like to read?

Jack: Yes!

Hirona: What is your favorite sport?

Jack: My favorite sport is basketball.

E.T: What is your favorite color?

Jack: Blue!

It was so nice of Jack to take the time answer questions on the STACKS! Was your question

answered? Leave a Comment to let us know how much you LOVE Jack Griffo and The Thundermans!

image from kids.scholastic.com — En-Szu, STACKS Staffer

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25. Wanderville: Review Haiku

Sweetly old-fashioned,
like a Mickey Rooney/
Judy Garland movie.

Wanderville by Wendy McClure. Razorbill, 2014, 211 pages.

0 Comments on Wanderville: Review Haiku as of 4/11/2014 6:09:00 AM
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