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1. Holiday Characters Who Would Win

writing_prompt_holidayHoliday Characters Who Would Win

IT’S THE MOST WONDERFUL TIME OF THE YEAR! The holidays are upon us! In case you didn’t notice, I’ve got a really, really bad case of Holiday Cheer. Gingerbread cookies for everyone! Non-stop holiday sing-a-longs! Ugly sweaters galore! Hot chocolate! Hot chocolate! HOT CHOCOLATE!

One of the best parts of the holiday season is the HOLIDAY CHARACTERS! I am so very thrilled to curl up on my sofa with some fuzzy socks (and hot chocolate) and watch my favorite movies: The Grinch, The Nightmare Before Christmas, Elf . . . It’s not the holidays without movie magic!

Some holiday characters have magical powers, while others just have magical hearts. I’d like to think that the holidays makes everyone a little more magical, am I right? So, if these characters had to duke it out (in the name of saving the holidays, obviously), who would win??

  1. The Grinch vs. Ebenezer Scrooge from The Night Before Christmas
  2. Buddy the Elf vs. Tiny Tim from The Night Before Christmas
  3. The Sugarplum Fairy from The Nutcracker vs. The Little Drummer Boy
  4. Frosty the Snowman vs. Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer
  5. The Abominable Snowman vs. The Ghost of Christmas Past
  6. Jack Frost vs. Jack Skellington from The Nightmare Before Christmas
  7. The Nutcracker Prince vs. Cindy Lou Who from The Grinch
  8. Max from The Grinch vs. Kevin McCallister from Home Alone

Who do YOU think would win? Which holiday characters do you want to see included on the list? Share your thoughts in the Comments below!

Happy happy holidays,

En-Szu, STACKS Writer

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2. Scholastic Kids Council: Julie

Hi!Welcome Julie to the 2015-16 Scholastic Kids Council!

JulieI’d like to introduce you to Julie who will be one of the special contributors to the STACKS this year.

Look for more to come from Julie this year!

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3. Schoalstic Kids Council: Leah

Hi!Welcome Leah to the 2015-16 Scholastic Kids Council!

My name is Leah and I am a 7th grader in New Jersey.Leah I put my collage on a boogie board to represent how I love to go boogie boarding at the beach with my cousins. I have a basketball, a soccer ball, rollerblades, and a hockey stick on my collage because these are three of the sports I really love. I also have Stephen Curry, my favorite basketball player.

Beyond sports, I love to draw, hang out with my friends, and play with my stuffed animals. I have a Minion because when I went to Universal Studios in Florida over the summer, I got to ride the Minion ride, which was my favorite. I have pictures of Sponge Bob and Stitch because they are two of my favorite characters. Lastly, I have Snowball, my hamster, because I love to play with her, and I also love animals.

Leah, Scholastic Kids Council

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4. Scholastic Kids Council: Cynthia

Hi!Welcome Cynthia to the 2015-16 Scholastic Kids Council!

I am Cynthia, a girl that has a wonderful family.Cynthia The first picture I’m going to tell you about is the one of my family and me at Cape Cod, a place we spend a lot of time. There is also another picture of my brother, Bobby and me when we were on a boat heading back from Nantucket Island. The last picture at the Cape is the picture of my cousin, Rose, me, and my brother when we climbed up the lifeguard chair after they left which we do all the time. Speaking of cousins, in the next picture I’m going to talk about, there are all of my cousins on my dad’s side of the family (Rose in on my mom’s side).

But my family doesn’t just consist of people. I have four animals including three cats named KC, Lady, and Snowflake. KC is my shy, little, gray kitty that goes into hiding every time someone comes over. Then there is Lady, my snuggle buddy. Every time I wake up in the morning, she is on my bed. But don’t be too quick to judge because Lady could rip you to shreds if she wanted to. After that comes my dear little Hurricane Sandy cat, Snowflake. She lived under our house for about a week before we got her to come inside. Every chance she gets, she runs outside again so she can eat grass. And last, but not least, Sadie, the friendliest dog you will ever meet. Since she is a middle-sized, crazy, black lab, most people think she’s going to kill them but all she wants to do is drown you in kisses.

I have a picture of a violin and a bass, and I also play the piano and drums, but I also like to read. The book I’m reading right now is Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher (for ages 12 and up). Although I like music and reading a lot, my absolute favorite thing to do is draw. As you can see, I drew a picture of two anime characters from a show I watched called Hakouki.

I hope you enjoyed learning a little bit about me.

Cynthia, Scholastic Kids Council

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5. Scholastic Kids Council: Alex

Hi!Welcome Alex!

Hi! My name is Alex, and I was one of the lucky ones chosen for the 2015-16 Scholastic Kids Council! I made a display about things that represent me and here is why I chose some of those items.Alex

I made everything around the boogie board because every summer, my family rents a beach house. I spend a lot of time in the ocean boogie boarding and surfing. I get to spend a lot of time with my family and I really enjoy it. I am a big baseball player and fan, so I put my baseball glove, bat, and trophy in the display. I also enjoy skateboarding, and I do that a lot in my free time with my friends and my older brother.

I absolutely LOVE Star Wars and LEGOs. I think Star Wars LEGOs are amazing! This is one of my favorite ships I have built so far. I included my saxophone and my headphones because I love music. I love to play saxophone, especially jazz and pop music. I also like listening to dubstep with my headphones while I play video games. I got the red bear for being on my school’s student council as Activity Director.  I named it Juan Pablo. I love to read and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows is one of my favorite books! I am looking forward to writing for the 2015-16 Scholastic Kid Council. Thanks for reading this!

Alex, Scholastic Kids Council

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6. Scholastic Kids Council: Kayla

Hi!Welcome Kayla to the 2015-16 Scholastic Kids Council!

kaylaI’d like to introduce you to Kayla who will be one of the special contributors to the STACKS this year.

Look for more to come from Kayla this year!

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7. New Midnight Gulch Story

snickerofmagic130Hello, STACKS readers!

We have a special Thanksgiving treat for you! Natalie Lloyd, the author of A Snicker of Magic, has a brand-new story set in Midnight Gulch—a magical town full of mystery and enchanted ice cream.

If you liked A Snicker of Magic, then you’ll love this “spindiddly” story featuring Jonah Pickett (a.k.a. the Beedle). If you haven’t read A Snicker of Magic, then you’ll still love this sweet, heartwarming story.

Start reading “Becoming the Beedle.”

Happy Thanksgiving and happy reading!

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8. Best Books of Fall

Recommend me!Best Books of Fall

It’s fall, and with chilly weather comes more time for reading indoors! Ah, to be snuggly and warm by an open fire with an excellent book—nothing compares. At the STACKS, we believe that sharing is caring, and we love to share our book recommendations. She here are the Best Books of Fall as voted by YOU!

fall books

The reigning book favorites Harry Potter and Percy Jackson definitely top the list this fall, but Warriors and Kingdom Keepers are gaining ground!

What books are you excited to dig into? What books do you think everyone needs to be reading RIGHT AT THIS MOMENT? Share your picks the Comments below!

Until next time,

En-Szu, STACKS Writer

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9. Cover Reveal: DIG TOO DEEP by Amy Allgeyer

It’s a cornucopia of cover reveals at Upstart Crow this week!

Today, we are thrilled to share the cover for Amy Allgeyer’s riveting debut novel, DIG TOO DEEP (Albert Whitman, April 2016). The good folks at YA Books Central did the official reveal yesterday, and you can hop over there to enter to win a free advance reading copy. b2ap3_thumbnail_Dig-Too-Deep_CvrReveal

It’s not just that Liberty Briscoe feels like an outsider in Ebbotsville, Kentucky. She expected it wouldn’t be easy to move from the city to her granny’s place for her last year of high school. Still, Liberty can’t shake the feeling that something’s not quite right. Everyone says the water’s safe, yet nobody drinks it. When Granny becomes sick, like so many others in town, Liberty starts to wonder about the water, the people who


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10. 10 Problems Only Harry Potter Fans Understand

harry potter irl 110 Problems Only Harry Potter Fans Understand

You know who you are. You fell in love at the first page of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone and you never looked back. But there are some things that people who have not read Harry Potter just don’t understand about you . . .

  1. You wish Hogwarts were real and you desperately want to get your Hogwarts letter.
  2. You try seriously hard to do magic and are frustrated when your “wand” (a.k.a. stick) does not work.
  3. Dobby, Fred Weasley, Professor Lupin, Snape, and Tonks.
  4. Trying to explain Quidditch to your non-Harry Potter friends so you can play it at recess.
  5. The movie did not include your favorite line or scene from the book.
  6. You scream while watching the movies, “That didn’t happen in the book!”
  7. When someone says, “JK” (for just kidding), you think, “Rowling.”
  8. You are desperately waiting for J.K. Rowling to write another children’s book.
  9. If it’s not Harry-related, you kind of don’t want to talk about it.
  10. Nothing else you read is ever as good as Harry Potter.

Can YOU relate to any of these? Leave a Comment to tell us your problems that only other Harry Potter fans understand!

Sonja, STACKS Staffer

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11. RIP Paul Laffoley (1940–2015)


Paul Laffoley, Thanton III, 1989.

We’ve long been set to publish the closest volume yet to a catalogue raisonné for the visionary artist Paul Laffoley (1940–2015) in Spring 2016, and thus, were all the more saddened to hear of Laff0ley’s death last week. If you’re unfamiliar, even the tone and pitch of his NY Times obituary should offer a lens into his work—it’s titled, “Paul Laffoley, Painter Inspired by Time Travel and Aliens, Dies at 80.”

Although working in what practically redefines the nature of “liminal space”—engaging in visual and textual inquiries positioned someplace between New Age theology, mathematical abstraction, mystical systems, and all senses of the term extraterrestrial (he claimed to have seen the film The Day the Earth Stood Still 873 times)—Laffoley’s work was also uncannily prescient, as you can note from the NYT obit below:

“It is kind of like taking money out of a bank machine, when you’re looking at a screen and you’re called upon to touch the screen,” he said of “Thanaton III,” a painting from 1989, in a 1999 interview shown on “Disinformation,” a television series on Channel 4 in Britain. “You know that you can’t go through the screen, but you do also know that there’s something behind the screen that’s organizing the experience that you have, only in this case the payoff is not money but a type of knowledge.”

The Essential Paul Laffoley contains almost 100 of his paintings, reproduced in full color, each accompanied by a “thought-form,” or text specific to their making, in addition to an introduction by editor and gallerist Douglas Walla, a biography by fellow artist Steven Moskowitz, and essays by scholars Linda Dalrymple Henderson and Arielle Saiber.

To read more about The Essential Paul Laffoley, click here.


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12. Read an excerpt of Leah Konen’s THE LAST TIME WE WERE US

We are so very excited about Leah Konen’s steamy contemporary romance, THE LAST TIME WE WERE US (Katherine Tegen, May 2016). Last Time We Were Us_FINAL

Liz Grant is about to have the summer of her life.

She and her friend MacKenzie are getting invited to all the best parties and, with any luck, Innis Taylor, the most gorgeous guy in Bonneville, will be her boyfriend before the Fourth of July.

Jason Sullivan wasn’t supposed to come back from juvy. A million years ago, he was Liz’s best friend, but that was before he ditched her for a different crowd. Before he attacked Innis’s older brother, leaving Skip’s face burned and their town in shock.

Liz always found it hard to believe what they said about Jason, but all of Bonneville thinks he’s dangerous. If word gets out she’s seeing


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13. Thanksgiving Turkey Create a Caption

writing prompt ThanksgivingThanksgiving Turkey Create a Caption

Thanksgiving parade turkey

Flickr photo by Ben + Sam

Thanksgiving is this week, so I hope you are excited to eat lots of food and maybe watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Here is last year’s turkey from the parade. What do you think it is saying? Leave your caption in the Comments.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Sonja, STACKS Staffer

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14. The Letter Writer

Scholastic News Kids Press Corps The Letter Writer by Adedayo Perkovich

Olivia B. is only 12 years old, but she has already gotten the attention of a presidential candidate. Last month, she wrote a letter to Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton about the importance of a good education for children with learning disabilities. Olivia’s letter went viral after Secretary Clinton posted it on Twitter. Olivia even got to go to Clinton’s birthday party and take a selfie with her.Olivia (left) and her dog, Shelby, with Adedayo in New York City

“I thought it would be important to me to actually write to her and reach out,” Olivia said. “I was happy that I did.”

Olivia lives in New York City with her two dads and her twin brother. She has dyslexia and ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder), and attends Mary McDowell Friends School in Brooklyn. There are 12 students and 2 teachers in each class.

“My school makes it so that the teachers are really connected [with the kids], and it’s so much easier to learn,” Olivia said in a recent interview.

Olivia told Secretary Clinton that her private school is “fairly expensive.” That’s one reason Olivia hopes to enter politics—after fulfilling her dream to be a professional soccer player. She already has some ideas for education policies.

“We need more money for public schools to be built and to hire extra teachers so that we have smaller classes for more students with learning disabilities,” she said. “Putting more kids in a class isn’t good for someone like me because it’s too distracting, and I can’t ask my questions.”


Olivia told Clinton that she’d like to help out in her campaign headquarters after school. “They haven’t offered me a job, but I have done some things to help,” Olivia said. “I did a video—a campaign video—so I guess that’s the closest to a ‘job.’”

Olivia is surprised by the amount of attention her letter has received. “You can kind of do whatever you want, if you try,” she observed.

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15. An interview with Richard H. King on Arendt in America



Richard H. King’s Arendt and America considers a unique reception history—that of America on Hannah Arendt, and not the other way around. Situating Arendt within the context of US intellectual, political, and social history, King examines how time spent in her adopted homeland and the relationships she formed while living there allowed her the necessary time and space to develop some of her most compelling contributions to critical thought, including the idea of the modern republic as an alternative to totalitarian rule, and the concepts behind the “banality of evil.” Recently, Kind engaged in an hour-long interview with Lillian Calles Barger, for the New Books in Intellectual History series.

From that interview’s header:

Her interests were neither social nor cultural, but the political sphere. In Cold War America, she became part of a moral center of the New York intellectuals and forged relationships with people such David Reisman, Dwight MacDonald, Irving Howe, and Mary McCarthy. Arendt expressed a continual concern with the nature of political action, the possibility of new beginnings and the idea of the “banality of evil,” introduced in the controversial 1963 book Eichmann in Jerusalem.  Difficult to categorize ideologically, Arendt sought a “worldly” politic, rather than politics based in idealism or pragmatism. Her thought influenced post-war thinking on political participation, civil disobedience, race, the Holocaust and the meaning of republicanism and liberalism. King has given us a portrait of a complex, and often ironic, relationship of a seminal thinker with America as a place and a set of ideas and institutions.

To read more about Arendt and America, click here.


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16. Follow Me to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter

wizarding-world-of-harry-potterI went on an epic adventure to Universal Studios where I spent two days exploring the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. If you have already been there, then you know how awesome it is. If not, I’m bringing the adventure to you!

On the first day, I went to Islands of Adventure to visit Hogsmeade and Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. As soon as I walked through the Hogsmeade entrance, I felt like I had walked onto a movie set or a real Harry Potter dream. The ground is made of cobblestone; the buildings are all whimsical and pointy, and store windows have displays that actually move! (If you buy a wand from Ollivanders, you can activate the displays by waving your wand at them.)


In the middle of the crowd of witches, wizards, and Muggles, stood a large wooden cart with a wizard serving butterbeer. Since this is the beverage in the wizarding world, I had to give it a try. It has a surprisingly pleasant taste like butterscotch soda with a dollop of cream on top. Then I took a stroll through Honeydukes and bought my very own Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Beans (and they do mean every flavor). I accidentally ate a vomit-flavored bean and it didn’t go so well.

After passing Three Broomsticks, I finally came to the massive Hogwarts castle. Although its size is impressive, it is nothing compared to the magical experience inside. The pictures move and talk; the ceiling snows, and you can watch Dumbledore, Harry, Ron, and Hermione talk in some of the corridors. I won’t spill the beans on what the ride is like, but let’s just say it is awesome, scary, and exhilarating. I went on it twice and loved it both times!


On the second day, I went back to Hogsmeade to catch the Hogwarts Express which travels to King’s Cross Station, a.k.a. Platform 9¾. The exterior of the train is just like the movie in all red and black. Inside, there are cabins capable of holding 8-10 people. The ride, although short, is probably the best ride ever! The windows display scenic views of Hogwarts and show real wizards flying by on their broomsticks. Even the doors are animated. You can actually see and hear shadows of Harry and his friends walking by.

As soon as we stepped off the train, it felt like I had crossed the world and landed in London, a.k.a. Platform 9¾. The first place I wanted to go was Diagon Alley, but it was kind of hard to find. I had to really look at the small details of the map to see that Diagon Alley is actually hidden behind walls! You could easily walk past the entrance and not even notice it was there. It is a hidden passage which leads to another secret wall with an unfinished brick passageway just like when Hagrid takes Harry to Diagon Alley for the first time.

Diagon Alley is everything I thought it would be, and more! There is a store for almost everything a wizard or witch needs, including books, robes, owls, Quidditch supplies, wands, and even Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes. The most impressive structure is Gringotts Bank, complete with a dragon perched on top. Inside, there are life-sized goblins that move and even blink as they work behind their desks. To get to the 3-D ride, “Escape from Gringotts,” you travel on moving elevators just like the ones in the Ministry of Magic. I don’t want to reveal all of the details of the ride, but let’s just say water and fire are involved and it is absolutely incredible!

If you want to chat with me and other Harry Potter fans about the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, join the Harry Potter Message Board here. Ask me any questions you want and I’ll try my best to be as detailed as possible. TTYL!

-Sandy, STACKS Staffer

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17. Choose best site for pet products

Generally pets are like children in all houses. Now a day’s all are having the pets in their home and it is treated like one of the family member. If you are having pets in your home you need to take extra care in the health and all other things. You should be responsible when you are adapting eth pets. Generally all the human beings have good parenting relationships with the pets. We have to do all the things perfectly in the correct time.  You need to remember that it is also like a child so you should understand all the activities. If you went out for few days your pet will for your arrival.

You should maintain your pet healthy. In the young age the entire pest needs some warm climate you should understand the feelings of your pets. If you adapt the pet in your home first know that the favorite items for your pets. You should learn all the good things. If it is doing any bad activities then give some punishment like your child. Spend more time with your pets then it will understand what you are talking. If you are not interacting with your pets daily it feels bad. All the pets also like the human beings the only diff is it does not know to show the feelings outside. If you want to buy the things for your pets you can get it from petify. In this article we will see about the petify website.

Buy best products for your pet:

You can have many websites in the online for buying the best products for your pets. Many websites are not providing the products with good quality. Even those products are available in the local shops but you need to go separate shops to buy all products. In this busy schedule no one are not having the time to spend for purchasing. All are using the online shopping method to save time and energy. In eth petify website you can buy all the things whatever you want for your pets. Even if you want to buy dress you can select and order it in this online. You can get the good quality products and it is affordable price. You can get all those things in your door step. You can select the payment option at the delivery for your safety.

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18. Taylor Swift Donates Books

Taylor SwiftTaylor Swift Donates 25,000 Books to New York City Schools

Scholastic and Taylor Swift are excited to announce a donation of 25,000 new books from the Scholastic Possible Fund to 25 New York City schools that need more books for their students! These 25 schools will each receive 1,000 new children’s books.

As a long-time literacy advocate, Taylor hosted a webcast for classrooms during which she shared how books, reading, and writing have influenced her and opened her world. Since it first aired in October 2014, the webcast has been viewed by more than 4.5 million students from around the country! Watch it here.

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19. An excerpt from W. J. T. Mitchell’s Cloning Terror


An excerpt from W. J. T. Mitchell’s Cloning Terror: The War of Images, 9/11 to the Present

One further thought on the unspeakable and unimaginable: as tropes, they are turns in the stream of discourse, swerves in the temporal unfolding of speech and spectacle. The unspeakable and unimaginable are, to put it bluntly, always temporary. Which means they exist in historical time as well as the discursive time of the unfolding utterance, or the temporality of personal experience. What was once unspeakable and unimaginable is always a matter of becoming, of a speech and an image to come—often rather quickly. If I tell you not to think of the face or name of your mother, you will not be able to prevent yourself from conjuring up her image and name. Declare that God is unrepresentable, and you also declare yourself a representative of the truth about him; you make a representation, an authoritative declaration, of his unrepresentability. Declare that something is invisible, accessible to visual imaging, and someone (usually an artist or scientist) will find a way to depict it. Prohibit something from being shown, hide it away from view, and its power as a concealed image outstrips anything it could have achieved by being shown. We should always say, then, this is unspeakable or unimaginable—up till now. The law against the representation of something in words or images must, in effect, always break itself, because it must name, describe, define—that is, represent—the very thing that it prohibits. That is why the law is so parsimonious and discreet in representing that which it prohibits from representation. Laws against pornography (unspeakable, unimaginable acts of lust, sadism, and animality) thus fall back on the “I know it when I see it” formula, to avoid specifying (and thus inspiring) the prohibited acts. Both the divine and the demonic, the ultimate good and the ultimate evil, inhabit the extreme zones of the human imagination of which we cannot or should not speak, and which we certainly should not depict in visual images.

I hope it is becoming clear what all this has to do with terror, which fuses the divine and the demonic in a single unspeakable and unimaginable compound. The terrorist is a holy warrior or a devil, depending upon your point of view, or your historical positioning (yesterday’s terrorist is today’s hero of the glorious revolution). Terror is also the deliberate combining of the semiotics and aesthetics of the unimaginable with those of the unspeakable. You can’t imagine anyone doing this, going this far? You think the unnamable horror, the indescribable, unspeakable act cannot be named, described, and reenacted? Terrorists speak the language of the unspeakable. They perform and state the unimaginable. Their acts as producers of words and images, symbolic forms of violence, are much more important than their acts of actual physical violence. Strategic forms of violence such as war or police action are not essential to their repertoire. The main weapon of terror is the violent spectacle, the image of destruction, or the destruction of an image, or both, as in the mightiest spectacle of them all, the destruction of the World Trade Center, in which the destruction of a globally recognizable icon was staged, quite deliberately, as an icon of its own right. The people consumed with the image are collateral damage, “enemies of God” who are of no interest. Or they are holy sacrifices, whose innocence is precisely the point. From the standpoint of the terrorist, their innocence makes them appropriate sacrificial victims. From the standpoint of counterterror, their innocence confirms the absolute, unspeakable evil and injustice of the terrorist cause. (There is, of course, the intermediate, compromise position common in state terrorism known as “collateral damage,” which expresses regret for the loss of innocent life, but claims nevertheless a statistical kind of justice in [often] unverifiable claims about the number of guilty terrorists killed; see the previous chapter on the very high percentage of innocent civilians killed by bombing and drones.) Either way, the point of terrorist violence is not the killing of the enemy as such, but the terrorizing of the enemy with a traumatizing spectacle. “Shock and awe” are the tactics that unite nonstate with state terrorism, and in both cases the traumatic spectacle can be rationalized as a humane act of restraint. Instead of killing large masses of people, it is sufficient to “sent them a message” by subjecting them to shocking displays of destruction.

To read more about Cloning Terror, click here.

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20. Happy Birthday Isamu Noguchi!

the east west houseToday is Isamu Noguchi’s birthday and we’d like to take a moment to celebrate one of the twentieth century’s most important and critically acclaimed sculptors.

According to the Noguchi Museum’s website, Noguchi was born in Los Angeles, California, to an American mother and a Japanese father, Noguchi lived in Japan until the age of thirteen, when he moved to Indiana.  While studying pre-medicine at Columbia University, he took evening sculpture classes on New York’s Lower East Side, mentoring with the sculptor Onorio Ruotolo. He soon left the University to become an academic sculptor.

Noguchi’s work was not recognized in the United States until 1938, when he completed a large-scale sculpture symbolizing the freedom of the press, which was commissioned for the Associated Press building in Rockefeller Center, New York City.  This was the first of what would become numerous celebrated public works worldwide, ranging from playgrounds to plazas, gardens to fountains, all reflecting his belief in the social significance sculpture.

east west house
Image from The East-West House

In 1985 Noguchi opened The Isamu Noguchi Garden Museum (now known as The Noguchi Museum), in Long Island City, New York.  The Museum, established and designed by the artist, marked the culmination of his commitment to public spaces.

Noguchi received the Edward MacDowell Medal for Outstanding Lifetime Contribution to the Arts in 1982; the Kyoto Prize in Arts in 1986; the National Medal of Arts in 1987; and the Order of Sacred Treasure from the Japanese government in 1988.  He died in New York City in 1988.

The East-West House is a tribute to the artistic beginnings of this pioneering modern sculptor and designer. Written and illustrated by Christy Hale, the book tells the story of the boy who grew up to be the multifaceted artist Isamu Noguchi. Guided by his desire to enrich everyday life with art while bringing together Eastern and Western influences, Noguchi created a vast array of innovative sculptures, stage sets, furniture, and public spaces.

Purchase a copy of the book here.

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21. Lincoln’s Grave Robbers

lincoln's grave robbersLincoln’s Grave Robbers by Steve Sheinkin ( for ages 11 and up)

Hi, everyone! EvilGoblin here. I’m going to talk about the main plot of my book Lincoln’s Grave Robbers. If you like suspenseful, real-life spy stories, you will love Lincoln’s Grave Robbers.

A criminal named Big Jim hatches a plan to steal the remains of the dead President Lincoln. Secret service agent Patrick Tyrell finds out and hires a roper (an undercover spy who pretends to be a criminal) Lewis Swegles to figure out what is going on. He figures out that on election night of 1864, Jack Hughes and Terrence Mullen are planning to steal the remains of the dead president.

On election night, Tyrell takes a team of spies to hide in the labyrinth of the monument. When the thieves go to commit the crime, the roper gives the signal and Tyrell’s squad gets in position. Tyrell darts up the stairs and onto the terrace and about 70 feet in front of him, a figure darts back as Tyrell shoots. The thieves take cover and shoot at Tyrell. He dodges the bullets but the thieves escape. It is only a matter of time before they will be found but you have to read the book to find out the rest of the story.

Let me ask you a question: Would you rather be a criminal or a spy? Reply in the Comments and then come talk to me on the Buzz Board.

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22. From Aristotle to South Park: An online seminar with Randy Olson


In Houston, We Have a Narrative, consummate storyteller—and Hollywood screenwriter and former scientist and communications expert—Randy Olson, conveys his no-nonsense, results-oriented approach to writing about science, the stuff of some of our greatest plots. On December 1, 2015, at 2PM, Olson will be leading an hour-long, online seminar for the AAAS (the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the world’s largest general scientific society). In addition to conveying the fascinating journey of how he left a tenured professorship in marine biology to write for the movies, Olson will let you know why—and, but, therefore—how.

From the AAAS’s description:

He had a single goal — the search for something that might improve the communication of science. He found it in a narrative template he crafted and labeled as “The ABT.” The ABT is adapted from the co-creators of the Emmy and Peabody award-winning animated series, South Park. In a 2011 documentary about the show, they talked about their “Rule of Replacing” which they use for editing scripts. Their rule involves replacing the word “and” with “but” or “therefore.” From this Olson devised his “And, But, Therefore” template (the ABT). This has become the central tool for his new book, “Houston, We Have A Narrative,” his work with individual scientists, and his Story Circles Narrative Training program he has been developing over the past year with NIH and USDA. In this webinar, co-sponsored by the Society for Conservation Biology and the American Geophysical Union/AGU’s Sharing Science program, he will present what he has termed “The ABT Framework” which refers to “the ABT way of thinking.”

You can sign up for the webinar (12/1 at 2PM, EST) here.

To read more about Houston, We Have a Narrative, click here.


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23. KidZania

Scholastic News Kids Press CorpsKidZania by Georgia Limcaoco

What do you want to be when you grow up? Children all over the world dream of the future, what they will do, and what jobs they will have. Now, these dreams can become a reality at KidZania (kid-ZAH-nee-ya). Opened last August in Manila, the interactive kid-sized city combines role-playing activities and real-life experiences to simulate the real world for children ages four to fourteen.

Pinky Laurena of KidZania Manila and Georgia gesture “hello,” or “kai,” the KidZania way.

KidZania is the first-of-its-kind indoor play city for kids. The city has paved streets, kid-sized vehicles, hospitals, shops, and dining outlets. I’d been hearing about KidZania from friends in Indonesia for the past two years. I was thrilled to see that a branch had finally opened in Manila!

The first KidZania opened in Mexico City in 1999 by Xavier López Ancona, an entrepreneur who said that he wanted to create  a “safe, creative play city where children can let their imaginations run free.”

Children from more than 100 schools have visited our local KidZania in Manila since its opening in August. “This is a city run by kids, for kids, ” said Maricel Pangilinan-Arenas, the State Governor of KidZania Philippines. Within the play city, kids are given the chance to work in one of many establishments. Some are sponsored by real-world brands such as Honda and McDonald’s. There is a bank, a bake shop, a news bureau, a bookstore, and even an airline.

“The working experience is super-duper fun,” said 9-year old Ayia Formilleza, who was waiting for her turn to be a nurse at the hospital. “It’s like I’m in the real world, and not just in a fake one.”


Upon entering the play city, kids are given a check for 50 KidZos, KidZania’s national currency. They can open a bank account and cash the check, and then begin to earn more KidZos by getting jobs. During my visit, I worked as a journalist, a magazine columnist, a manicurist, and a radio host. Each job or activity involves 6 to 10 kids at a time and is completed in about 20 minutes. KidZos can be used to purchase items at stores within the city, or may be saved for a future trip to Kidzania.

“I like this theme park because the kids see the relationship between working and earning in a way that they can understand,” said Vincent Fabella, the father of f 10-year-old Roxanne. At the time, Roxanne was busy running around the city working as a journalist.

KidZania is strict about its 4-to-14 age restriction. I’m lucky that it opened the year I turned 14 since I still have a few months to enjoy it. KidZania currently has branches in 20 countries, including Japan, Mexico, the United Kingdom, and Brazil. Future locations include Singapore, Russia, and the United States.

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24. Who Is Ira Aldridge?

Our new children’s book, Ira’s Shakespeare Dream, tells the incredible story of Ira Aldridge. When we’ve shown this book to readers, we get one of two responses:
1) “I’ve never heard of Ira Aldridge.”
2) “You have a book about Ira Aldridge??! That’s so wonderful!”

The truth is, bringing Ira’s story to new readers is one of our great joys as a publisher. His is a story of phenomenal talent and determination, of someone who was truly born to do what he did. Too often, history has let the achievements of black people fall through the cracks–especially when they take place outside the narrative of slavery and civil rights. If you look at the African American biographies that appear most often, so many of them are focused on names we already know: Martin Luther King, Jr., Rosa Parks, Frederick Douglass. While it is important to remember these people and their achievements, acknowledging the contributions of black people in other arenas–art, music, science, and in this case, Shakespearean acting–is equally important. 

So: who was Ira Aldridge?

Ira Aldridge was born July 27, 1807, in New York City. As a child, he attended the African Free School, a school established for the children of free African Americans and slaves. During that time, Aldrige would observe plays from high up in the balcony of the Park Theatre.

ira spread
Young Ira at the Park Theatre (image from Ira’s Shakespeare Dream)

Ira always loved Shakespeare. His acting career began in his teens, where he acted at the African Grove Theatre, the first resident African American theatre in the United States. Ira dreamed of performing Shakespeare one day on the stage of the Park Theatre. But black actors were not welcome there.

from Ira's Shakespeare Dream
from Ira’s Shakespeare Dream

Ira’s father, a church minister, tried to dissuade his son from pursuing acting. He encouraged him to become a minister or teacher, but Ira was determined to pursue his dream. At the age of 17, Ira headed to England as a valet for another actor to try his hand at acting. There, he found work running errands for small theaters and became an understudy for other actors.

When Ira finally got his chance to debut, his performance was met with mixed reviews. While some praised his acting, others did not like seeing a black actor onstage playing “white roles.” But Ira was not discouraged. He worked hard, studied acting, and gradually became known for his talented performances in a variety of roles. Later on, he toured United Kingdom, spending many years performing the lead roles in Othello, Macbeth and Richard III. Ira was most famous for his role as the titular Othello, which he first played at the age of 26. He was the first black actor to play Othello on the English stage.

Image of Ira Aldridge in a production of “Titus Andronicus”

Despite the fame he gained, Ira never forgot the plight of the enslaved African Americans in the United States. He would sometimes come out at the close of his performances to sit on the edge of the stage, preaching to the audience about the injustice of slavery. He used his performances to raise money to send to abolitionists fighting to end slavery in the United States.

Ira Aldridge toured around Europe and earned great acclaim for his performances. In 1858, the duke of Saxe-Meiningen granted him knighthood. He is the only African American actor listed among the 33 actors honored with plaques at the Shakespeare Memorial Theatre at Stratford-upon-Avon. The theater at Howard University in Washington, DC is named after him.

Ira's Shakespeare Dream

Learn more about Ira Aldridge in Ira’s Shakespeare Dream, written by Glenda Armand and illustrated by Floyd Cooper. Additional resources:

Read an interview with author Glenda Armand
View and download the free Teacher’s Guide

0 Comments on Who Is Ira Aldridge? as of 11/19/2015 12:26:00 PM
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25. Congratulations to the 2015 National Book Award Winners


Karen E. Bender, Refund
Angela Flournoy, The Turner House
Lauren Groff, Fates and Furies
Adam Johnson, Fortune Smiles
Hanya Yanagihara, A Little Life

Ta-Nehisi Coates, Between the World and Me
Sally Mann, Hold Still
Sy Montgomery, The Soul of an Octopus
Carla Power, If the Oceans Were Ink: An Unlikely Friendship and a Journey to the Heart of the Quran
Tracy K. Smith, Ordinary Light

Ross Gay, Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude
Terrance Hayes, How to Be Drawn
Robin Coste Lewis, Voyage of the Sable Venus
Ada Limón, Bright Dead Things
Patrick Phillips, Elegy for a Broken Machine

Ali Benjamin, The Thing About Jellyfish
Laura Ruby, Bone Gap
Steve Sheinkin, Most Dangerous: Daniel Ellsberg and the Secret History of the Vietnam War
Neal Shusterman, Challenger Deep
Noelle Stevenson, Nimona… [more]

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