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1. Book Launch: Been There, Done That

BeenThere

Have you ever walked through the woods and wanted so badly to see animals only to be disappointed that none were around? That is the premise of Jen Funk Weber’s new children’s book Been There, Done That: Reading Animal Signs.  

In the book, Cole is visiting his friend Helena and he really wants to see wild animals. They take a hike and Helena shows Cole signs that animals are around even they are not standing in front of him.

This book shows that there is more to spotting signs of wildlife than seeing paw prints across the hood of your car or the imprint of little bird feet in the sand. In fact, tracks are a very little part of spotting signs of wildlife.

Author Jen Funk Weber has a lot of practice tracking animals. Although the animals in Been There, Done That are residents of the Pacific northwest and up through Alaska, Jen has tracked animals around the world. Read this wonderful account of leopard tracking in Africa!

jenfunkweberTo celebrate the launch of Jen’s new book we asked her a few questions about writing and tracking animal signs.

What was your incentive to write this particular book?

Having worked as a natural history guide in Alaska, I know that people want to see exciting things when they take the time and make the e ort to get out in nature, but that’s not the way nature works. Flowers and wild animals don’t perform on command. In fact, most wild animals prefer to avoid humans.

But things are happening all the time in nature, and there are clues all around that can help us “see” what’s happening, even if we don’t actually witness it. It’s fun looking for these clues and trying to figure out what happened. It’s like snooping on neighbors, except the animals don’t seem to mind. If we spend enough time out there, we might get lucky and see some of those really exciting, once-in-a- lifetime events.

beenthere_pic2And, of course, hiking, searching for animal signs, and watching wildlife are some of my favorite things to do, but you guessed that, right?

When are you most creative?

Around 4 a.m. No, really. I love getting up in the wee hours to write. Picture this: It’s zero degrees outside, snowy, and dark. But it’s warm enough inside—at least it is at my desk, two feet from the heater. e sky is full of stars and maybe northern lights. It won’t get light for hours. I turn on colored lights that rim the ceiling and light fragrant candles on the windowsills. I make a pot of jasmine tea. I sit. It’s quiet and still. I imagine. I write.

Okay, it’s not always that way, but sometimes it is.

As for what sparks my creativity; that would be new ideas and experiences. It can be something as small as a headline or a fascinating fact, or it can be a trip to someplace new, or it can be thinking about something in a new way, i.e., a new perspective. Every new thought or experience gets processed into past thoughts and experiences, and this synthesis triggers the creative process.

For instance, while converting feet to meters, I wondered why the US has never really converted to the metric system. When I was a kid, we were told we needed to switch because the whole country would soon switch.

beenthere_pic1I began to wonder why time has never been converted to the metric system, even where the metric system is used. Instead of 24 hours in a day, we could have 10 or 100 some-other-unit-of- measure.

Now I’m motivated to do some research about metrics. An old idea—converting to the metric system—leads to creative thinking when applied in a new way—to time.

Read our full interview with Jen on the Been There, Done That homepage!

Also enter to win our Goodreads giveaway that opens on February 15th!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Been There, Done That by Jen Weber

Been There, Done That

by Jen Weber

Giveaway ends February 29, 2016.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway


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2. Locker Decoration Ideas

Rainbow PenEpic Locker Decoration Ideas

For those of you who have a locker at school, do you decorate it? With what? Share your ideas here! Target had a really cute locker disco ball. I was tempted to buy it. Then I remembered I don’t have a locker!

Read other kids’ ideas in the Crafts/DIY Message Board and then tell us how YOUR locker is decorated!

Moderator Katie, Crafts/DIY Message Board

Locker photo courtesy The Container Store

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3. HARRY POTTER AND THE CURSED CHILD!!

Extra!HARRY POTTER AND THE CURSED CHILD PARTS I & II TO BE PUBLISHED IN PRINT BY SCHOLASTIC IN THE UNITED STATES AND CANADA  AT 12:01 A.M. ON JULY 31, 2016

Scholastic will publish a script book based on an original new story by J.K. Rowling, Jack Thorne, and John Tiffany!

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, the eighth Harry Potter story, will be priced at $29.99 U.S. and $39.99 Canada. The script eBook will be published by Pottermore simultaneously with the print editions by Scholastic in the US and Canada, and Little, Brown Book Group in the UK.

It was always difficult being Harry Potter and it isn’t much easier now that he is an overworked employee of the Ministry of Magic, a husband, and father of three school-age children.

While Harry grapples with a past that refuses to stay where it belongs, his youngest son Albus must struggle with the weight of a family legacy he never wanted. As past and present fuse ominously, both father and son learn the uncomfortable truth: sometimes darkness comes from unexpected places.

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4. Andrew R. Highsmith on the crisis in Flint

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Below follows an excerpt from “Flint’s toxic water crisis was 50 years in the making,” Andrew R. Highsmith’s op-ed for the Los Angeles Times, which builds on the scholarship of his book Demolition Means ProgressFlint, Michigan, and the Fate of the American MetropolisRead his piece in full here.

***

As with so many environmental disasters, this one was preventable. Evidence suggests that the simple failure to use proper anti-corrosive agents led to the leaching of lead into the city’s water. It has also become apparent that the slow responses of local, state and federal officials to this crisis — as well as their penchant for obfuscation — prolonged the lead exposure.

It would be a mistake, however, to conclude that Flint’s predicament is simply the result of government mismanagement. It’s also the product of a variety of larger structural problems that are much more difficult to untangle and remedy.

Over the past three-quarters of a century, waves of deindustrialization, disinvestment and depopulation eviscerated Flint’s tax base, making it all but impossible to improve — or even maintain — the city’s crumbling infrastructure. Flint — which once claimed 200,000 residents — now contains fewer than 100,000, nearly half impoverished, more than half African American. The economic prospects of locals are grim. After decades of plant closures and layoffs, GM’s workforce in the area, which once surpassed 80,000, is less than 10,000. The hemorrhaging of jobs has produced unemployment rates that routinely reach into the double digits. . . .

If there was ever a canary in Flint’s coal mine, it may have been Ailene Butler. When she stepped forward in 1966, she crystallized the tight connections between environmental inequality and social injustice. To be sure, much has changed since Butler sounded the alarm half a century ago. Whereas in the 1960s it was the encroachment of industrial plants upon black neighborhoods that fueled local resentment, Flint’s current water crisis stems in many ways from the absence of those plants — and the jobs, taxes, services and infrastructure they supported. Still, looking ahead at Flint’s uncertain future, Butler’s message seems more relevant than ever.

To read more about Demolition Means Progress, click here.

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5. Book Launch Spring 2016!

It’s that time of year! Seven new books from Arbordale make their way into the hands of young readers across the country. This week we will be highlighting each book and their creators on our blog.

Before you learn about the inspiration for each of these books get to know the spring line up and pick your must have title for 2016!

BeenThereBeen There, Done That: Reading Animal Signs
by Jen Funk Weber
illustrated by Andrea Gabriel

Spotting wildlife is a thrill, but it’s not easy. When Cole comes to visit his friend Helena, he can’t wait to see all the wildlife the forest has to offer—and disappointed when all he sees are a few birds. Together the kids set out on a hike and encounter plenty of animal signs along the way. Through observation and her knowledge of animal behavior, Helena helps Cole learn what each of the signs means: something had been there; something had done that.

CashKatCash Kat
by Linda Joy Singleton
illustrated by Christina Wald

Gram Hatter and Kat set off on an adventure. Gram quickly folds up a pirate hat and places it on Kat’s head and they begin their mission to help clean up the city park. Volunteering turns into a treasure hunt as Kat finds pennies, nickels, dimes, quarters and even a dollar. With each discovery Kat gets a new hat and Gram Hatter teaches Kat how to count her coins as they pick up litter at the park. When Kat adds up her money, there’s enough for ice cream. Or should she donate the money to support the park instead?

MammalsMammals
by Katharine Hall

All mammals share certain characteristics that set them apart from animal classes. But some mammals live on land and other mammals spend their lives in water—each is adapted to its environment. Land mammals breathe oxygen through nostrils but some marine mammals breathe through blowholes. Compare and contrast mammals that live on land to those that live in the water.

 

MidnightMadMidnight Madness at the Zoo
by Sherryn Craig
illustrated by Karen Jones

The bustle of the crowd is waning and the zoo is quieting for the night. The polar bear picks up the ball and dribbles onto the court; the nightly game begins. A frog jumps up to play one-on-one and then a penguin waddles in to join the team. Count along as the game grows with the addition of each new animal and the field of players builds to ten. Three zebras serve as referees and keep the clock, because this game must be over before the zookeeper makes her rounds.

OnceElephantOnce Upon an Elephant
by Linda Stanek
illustrated by Shennen Bersani

From stopping wildfires to planting seeds, one animal is the true superhero that keeps the African savanna in balance. Elephants dig to find salt for animals to lick, their deep footprints collect water for everyone to drink, and they eat young trees to keep the forest from overtaking the grasslands. In every season, the elephants are there to protect the savanna and its residents – but what would happen if the elephants were only “once upon a time”? Read along to discover the important role this keystone species plays in the savanna and explore what would happen if the elephants vanished.

SharksDolphinsSharks and Dolphins
by Kevin Kurtz

Sharks and dolphins both have torpedo-shaped bodies with fins on their backs. They slice through the water to grab their prey with sharp teeth. But despite their similarities, sharks and dolphins belong to different animal classes: one is a fish and gets oxygen from the water and the other is a mammal and gets oxygen from the air. Marine educator Kevin Kurtz guides early readers to compare and contrast these ocean predators through stunning photographs and simple, nonfiction text.

TornadoTamerTornado Tamer
by Terri Fields
illustrated by Laura Jacques

In this adaptation of The Emperor’s New Clothes, Mayor Peacock declares he will hire a tornado tamer to protect the town. After a long search, Travis arrives to fill the position and this weasel has a plan. He will build a very special, transparent cover to protect the town. Travis’ magical cover is so transparent that only those smart enough and special enough can even see it. Mouse is doubtful, but his questions are brushed off. Months later, the cover has been hung and Travis has been paid a hefty sum, but a tornado is in the distance and the town is in its path. Will the magic cover protect the town?

Find out more about our newest titles at Arbordalepublishing.com!


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6. The Diversity Baseline Survey: What Happens Next?

Diversity 102Since its release, the Diversity Baseline Survey (DBS) has become the most visited blog post we have ever produced. The DBS has been widely read and written about, and has opened up a renewed interest in how to improve staff diversity in the publishing industry. In our first piece, Behind the Scenes of Publishing’s First Diversity Baseline Survey, we covered the methodology and obstacles we faced conducting the survey. In this piece we will shed light on what happens next—and what’s already happening to improve the numbers.

We surveyed a handful of the publishers and reviewer journals that participated in the DBS and asked them what initiatives they are planning or already have in place to make diversity a priority in their organizations. Here are some of the responses we received back:

Kiera Parrott, Reviews Director, School Library Journal and Library Journal: Participating in the survey was the first concrete and actionable thing I could do to be part of the solution. Even though I had a fair guess on the demographic makeup of our reviewers (most of them were recruited from ALSC committees, and that group is rather homogenous), I wanted actual numbers. My hope was that the statistics would help me pinpoint exactly where we needed to grow and develop.

The next steps after the survey have been 1) intentionally recruiting more diverse reviewers, and 2) developing diversity/cultural literacy training for our existing reviewers. Sometime in mid-2016, I’m launching a special course just for SLJ reviewers on diversity and cultural literacy. We anticipate this course beginning sometime in late Spring/early Summer.

Editorial note: Kiera also gives a much more detailed report on her progress diversifying her reviewer pool in an interview she gave at the Reading While White blog.

Jason Low, Publisher, Lee & Low Books: While many are aware of our 25-year mission to publish award-winning diverse books, we currently have several other initiatives in place.

DBS3-JL2To start, since the DBS was all about staff diversity, Lee & Low can firmly state that we practice what we preach. Lee & Low hires diversely and as a result our staff is very diverse. Overall 69% of our staff identifies as people of color (PoC). Departmentally the company breaks down like this: editorial: 50% PoC; marketing/publicity: 75% PoC; sales: 50% PoC; Operations: 100% PoC. We have fluent Spanish speakers in editorial, marketing/publicity, and sales.

Staff Diversity Training: Last year we sent a number of LEE & LOW staff members from different departments to an “Undoing Racism” workshop, held by the People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond. We decided to do this workshop because even with LEE & LOW’s focus on diverse books, we felt that our staff would benefit from specific training in anti-racism concepts.

Author Award Contests: We sponsor two author awards for unpublished writers of color. Our New Voices Award is in its 17th year. The New Voices Award has launched the careers of 14 authors of color (with the work of three more authors currently in development), and we have given honor awards to another 11 authors. In 2013, we launched the New Visions Award, an award for unpublished authors of color who write middle grade and young adult novels.

Diversity in Publishing Internship: To address the lack of opportunities for diverse staff in publishing, we converted our paid internship program to one that is for diverse candidates only. Our internship program is designed to give candidates the kind of publishing experience and exposure they would need to consider a career in publishing.

Lee & Low and Friends Scholarship: In partnership with the Center for the Study of Children’s Literature at Simmons College, we have established a scholarship to increase diversity at the graduate school level. The Lee & Low and Friends Scholarship provides opportunities for students of color to enroll in the most prestigious children’s literature graduate program in the United States.

Diversity Gap Series: We published a series of eight studies that include statistics and interviews illustrating that the lack of diverse representation is a society-wide problem. The subjects covered so far: The Tony Awards, The Emmy Awards, The Academy Awards, The children’s book industry, The New York Times Top 10 Bestseller List, US politics, Sci-Fi and Fantasy Films, and Silicon Valley.

Angus Killick, Vice President/Associate Publisher, Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group and Monique Patterson, Editorial Director, Romance and Executive Editor, St. Martin’s Press: Macmillan established a Diversity & Inclusion Council this DBS3-angus3year aimed at promoting a broader representation of differences—gender, race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, physical ability, age, gender identity and expression, family status, economic background and status, geographical background, and perspective in the workforce and the books we produce. The Council steers Macmillan’s diversity and inclusion efforts, and 1) determines priorities for programs and activities aimed at enhancing diversity in our books and authors and in our recruitment and retention efforts; 2) oversees sub-committees established to focus on individual priorities; 3) measures the results of our initiatives; and 4) reports back to the larger organization.

We’ve formed a number of sub-committees and each is involved in projects. For example, the Outreach Committee is creating a Publishing Ambassador Kit, so any employee can visit a middle or high school and talk about careers in publishing—not just in editorial, but in marketing, production, finance, IT. The Recruiting and Retention committee worked with We Need Diverse Books to expand our Intern pool this past summer and has expanded recruiting efforts to schools outside the tri-state area. The Acquisition and Marketing Committee is developing strategies for editors and imprints to broaden submissions both from the one-on-one meetings of editors and agents and from outreach to organizations such as the Asian American Writers Workshop or historically black colleges and their writing programs. Also, our Council is looking into participating in events such as the Harlem Book Fair and the LGBTQ Graphic Novels event. We have also reached out to the AAP and Young to Publishing to find ways to expand on what already exists. Macmillan joined other publishers in September in a baseline survey on our workforce and added several questions of its own to measure awareness and attitudes about Diversity and Inclusion.

We are in the early stages of exploring what will increase and sustain diversity in our books, our readership, and our workforce. We have much to learn, but look forward to continuing our efforts.

Vicky Smith, Children’s & Teen Editor, Kirkus Reviews: I’m not sure you can call an intention an initiative, but we are working hard to describe race and ethnicity accurately when we see it in the books that we review, as well as sexual orientation, gender identity, and disability. We hope that by including that information in our reviews DBS3-paige5our readers will be able to make the most responsible purchasing decisions for their homes and libraries. I am also actively recruiting reviewers of diversity (for lack of a better term), who will provide a variety of lenses into the literature.

Paige Mcinerney, Vice President Human Resources, Penguin Random House: Our commitment to fostering diversity is reflected in our day-to-day workplace conduct, as well as by how we continue to find, develop, and publish a wide range of authors from many different cultural backgrounds, across all genres, for diverse audiences of readers everywhere.

At Penguin Random House, we have a robust, paid Internship Program. In recruitment for this program, we actively work with several diversity partners with whom we have longstanding and productive relationships. These include, among others, The Posse Foundation, Prep for Prep, and beginning in 2016, the United Negro College Fund in partnership with the Association of American Publishers. We work with these groups on all internship recruitment and also commit to filling a percentage of our internship openings with qualified candidates from these organizations.

Some of our divisions have employee groups that meet regularly to discuss how to maximize the potential of our diversity-related books, and how to make sure that their division is working toward as much inclusiveness as possible.

This spring, Penguin Young Readers is sponsoring (in a partnership with We Need Diverse Books) a writing contest that will award a publishing contract to a previously unpublished author who self-identifies as a person of color or non-Caucasian.DBS3-karen6

Karen Lotz, President and Publisher, Candlewick Press: As an independent publisher, we’ve always understood that it’s our authors and illustrators who set us apart. Our roster of creators includes new and established talents from all backgrounds who themselves are committed to ensuring that ALL readers will be able to see themselves and the people they love reflected in the pages of—and on the covers of—the books they read. On the corporate level, from the covers of the Candlewick advertising catalog to our featured titles at conventions and shows, we consistently and consciously make choices to feature characters from many different backgrounds; we choose to illustrate characters of different backgrounds not just in the ‘issues’ books but across the board, to better depict society as a whole. We hope this creates an open and inviting atmosphere where authors and artists from diverse populations will feel welcome to publish. We understand, furthermore, that the economic support and financial offers we make to artists and authors and the quality we invest in producing each and every title are important to attract all authors and artists, certainly including those from diverse backgrounds.

And finally, we are very proud of the recognition our books have come to receive from outside groups, including recent NAACP Image and Honor Awards; Stonewall Awards and Honors; Pura Belpré Awards and Honors; and Coretta Scott King Awards and Honors. We are particularly grateful this year to the Coretta Scott King Committee for their bestowal of the John Steptoe New Talent Award to Ekua Holmes for Voice of Freedom: Fannie Lou Hamer, because at Candlewick we really work very hard to try to discover new talent and give brand-new creators of children’s books a graceful and rewarding entry into the world of children’s publishing.

This same commitment to creating a welcoming environment extends to our staffing. In recruiting, we make every effort to reach out to educational institutions and organizations whose goal is to cater to diverse populations. We have a special art resource coordinator on staff whose role is exclusively dedicated to seeking new talent from art schools and programs; she communicates wherever she goes that Candlewick welcomes artists from diverse backgrounds and with diverse interests. Throughout their careers, we support and encourage all of our staff to continue their participation in diversity studies, panels, and educational programs, including the CBC’s diversity program efforts and other local and national opportunities, including WNDB initiatives. We support our authors when they wish to do the same. We also work very closely with First Book and Jumpstart, as well as other literacy DBS3-marina7organizations whose goals include getting high-quality and appropriately representational books into the hands of all children—regardless of their families’ compositions, backgrounds, or economic situations.

Marina Tristán, Assistant Director, Arte Público Press: We obviously work to promote Latino books and authors, but we also try to promote books by other minority writers and publishers via our social media pages and in conversations with teachers and librarians.

In regard to hiring, we don’t honestly have any initiatives per se in place, but we do have a very diverse staff—mostly Latino/Hispanic—because we feel it’s important to employ a bilingual/bicultural staff.

Learning from the UK
There’s no way for us to predict how the United States publishing industry will tackle the diversity problem and how successful these initiatives will be. But looking at efforts similar to our own is a useful exercise. The DBS has precedence in a publishing diversity study conducted in the United Kingdom in 2014. The United Kingdom study had a scope larger than the DBS. In the UK they surveyed 66 publishing companies of all sizes, 49 literary agencies, and 536 authors. They spoke with authors, publishing professionals, and Human Resources heads. Earlier this year, we wrote about 6 key findings from that study. Recently we reached out to Danuta Kean, one of the planners of the survey, and asked her about the status of their research.

DBS3-danuta8“After the United Kingdom Survey concluded the findings were launched at the London Book Fair with a major press conference that was attended by over 100 people,” Danuta said. “Coverage in the national and trade press was extensive. All the major publishers expressed shock, but feedback among BAME authors and staff was very good: the report was true to their experiences and there was relief that it was being addressed in a hard-hitting manner. It has put diversity on the agenda.

“Spread the Word [the organization which created the study] has now met with HarperCollins and Penguin Random House and is establishing schemes to improve the situation with them. HarperCollins is the best: John Athanasiou, its head of people, has been a driver for change and asked me to present to the main board. He has also established a company-wide diversity forum and had a conference for staff to address issues raised in the report. The diversity firm, Equip, ran a poorly attended workshop at which I spoke. The feedback and enthusiasm was good, but I question the drive to bring about lasting change.

“Goldsmiths University held a diversity in the media day at which I presented our findings. Discussions have been held at three literary festivals, on national and digital radio, and diversity hashtags have been promoted on Twitter—the latest is #diversitydecember. Spread the Word also hosted a training and awareness day for BAME people interested in publishing and writing. More initiatives and meetings are planned for next year, and we raising funding for follow-up research.”


While the time and the scope of the survey did not allow us to document all inclusion initiatives, we encourage publishers, reviewers, and others to add commentary to the comments section below. What is your company or organization doing to address this problem?

Read also: Behind the Scenes Of Publishing’s First Diversity Baseline Survey and Where Is the Diversity in Publishing? The 2015 Diversity Baseline Survey Results

For press inquiries or permission to reprint, please contact hehrlich[at]leeandlow[dot]com.

7 Comments on The Diversity Baseline Survey: What Happens Next?, last added: 2/11/2016
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7. Fablehaven

Recommend me!Fablehaven by Brandon Mull

Have you ever heard stories where mythical creatures help the hero save the day? Well, the creatures at Fablehaven aren’t that nice. Fablehaven is a preserve for magical creatures, but dangerous creatures that are on the brink of extinction. The creatures usually stay in their territories, but on the equinox and solstice, the creatures run wild through Fablehaven. The caretakers, Stan Sorenson and his wife, Ruth, can usually defend themselves, but as Midsummer’s Eve nears (a.k.a. the summer solstice), Stan and Ruth’s grandchildren stay with them. Kendra and Seth have no clue when they arrive at their grandparents’ house that it is a magical preserve. Piece by piece, as Midsummer’s Eve draws near, Seth and Kendra learn more about Fablehaven and its secrets.

On Midsummer’s Eve, Kendra and Seth are instructed by Stan to go to bed immediately at sundown, and NEVER, under ANY circumstances, open the window. But of course, that rule gets broken. And bad things happen. Very bad things happen.

I think that Fablehaven is a really good book series and all of you should read it. It is a page-turner that will keep you on the edge of your seat and make you want to read the other four books in the series. Happy reading!

Alex, Scholastic Kids Council

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8. Verdi’s Nabucco at the Lyric Opera

verdi_logo

ct-lyric-opera-nabucco-photos-20160122-004-1024x624

Photo by: Ariel Uribe for the Chicago Maroon.

Full of “blood and thunder“—words for the Lyric Opera of Chicago’s staging of Giuseppe Verdi’s Nabucco, an amalgamation of quasi-stories from the Book of Jeremiah and the Book of Daniel coalesced around a love triangle, here revived for the first time since 1998. On the heels of its opening—the full run is from January 23 to February 12—UCP hosted a talk and dinner featuring a lecture “Nabucco and the Verdi Edition” by Francesco Ives. That Verdi Edition, The Works of Giuseppe Verdi, is the most comprehensive critical edition of the composer’s works. In addition to publishing its many volumes, the University of Chicago Press also hosts a website devoted to all aspects of the project, which you can visit here; to do justice to the scope and necessity of the Verdi Edition, here’s an excerpt from “Why a Critical Edition?” on that same site:

The need for a new edition of Verdi’s works is intimately tied to the history of earlier publications of the operas and other compositions. When Verdi completed the autograph orchestral manuscript of an opera, manuscript copies were made by the theater that commissioned the work or by his publisher (usually Casa Ricordi). These copies were used in performance, and most of the autograph scores became part of the Ricordi archives. Copies of the copies were made, and orchestral materials were extracted for performances. With the possible exception of his last operas, Otello and Falstaff, Verdi played no part whatever in preparing the printed scores: almost all printed editions of his works were prepared by Ricordi after Verdi’s death in 1901.

Predictably, these copying and printing practices have yielded vocal and orchestral parts that differ drastically from the autograph scores. Indeed, the problem of operas performed using unreliable parts and scores dates to Verdi’s own lifetime. After the premieres of Rigoletto, Il trovatore, and La traviata, for example, Verdi wrote to Ricordi on 24 October 1855: “I complain bitterly of the editions of my last operas, made with such little care, and filled with an infinite number of errors.”

Copyists and musicians who prepared these errant printed editions were not consciously falsifying Verdi’s text. They merely glossed over particularities of Verdi’s notation (e.g., the simultaneous use of different dynamic levels—“p” and “pp”, for instance) and altered details of his orchestration, which differed considerably from the style of Puccini, whose music dominated Italian opera when the printed editions of Verdi’s works were prepared. These editions, which in certain details drastically compromise the composer’s original text, are the scores that are used today, except where the critical edition has made reliable scores available.

The critical edition of the complete works of Verdi undertaken jointly by the University of Chicago Press and Casa Ricordi is finally correcting this situation.

To read more about The Works of Giuseppe Verdi, click here.

To visit the project’s website, click here.

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9. Book Valentine Would You Rather

heart4Be Mine, Book Valentine!

Cupid’s arrow is about to strike again on February 14th  — Valentine’s Day. To put you in a sweet mood, we are delivering a special Valentine’s book-based Would You Rather.

Would you rather . . .

  1. Have a Love Spell (so your crush falls in love with you) OR a Flying Spell so you can fly (away from crazy boys/girls who chase you)?
  2. Get a box of Bertie Bott’s earwax flavor jellybeans OR a box of chocolate frogs (from Harry Potter)?
  3. Marry a cyclops from Percy Jackson OR get stuck in a ship full of monsters?
  4. Kiss Slappy the Evil Dummy (from Goosebumps) OR The Vampire Chicken?
  5. Go on a romantic date with Fregley OR Patty (from Diary of a Wimpy Kid)?
  6. Survive a hurricane OR a shark attack on Valentine’s Day?
  7. Have your secret admirer turn out to be Voldemort (from Harry Potter) OR Darth Vader (from Star Wars)?
  8. Have your crush read your diary OR your teacher read your diary (from Dear Dumb Diary)?

Leave your answers in the Comments below, and let us know which book character you’d like to be YOUR valentine!

-Ratha

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10. Using Media Literacy to Examine Diversity In Literature

Guest BloggerIn this guest post, author and media literacy expert Tina L. Peterson, Ph.D., demonstrates how media literacy skills can help readers think deeply about diversity in books.

When I was a kid, I rarely paid attention to the ethnicities of characters in my favorite books. I probably assumed that, because I related to them, they were like me – white, suburban, and middle class. Despite the fact that many of my classmates and close friends were Latino and Asian, it didn’t occur to me that the characters in most books I read didn’t represent the mix of people in my life.

It was only when I got hooked on The Baby-Sitters Club series that I began to notice book characters’ ethnicities. Author Ann M. Martin incorporated characters of color in a way that gave each person a voice, rather than making non-white characters part of the backdrop to a white protagonist’s experience. The character Jessi Ramsey felt like my first black friend.

As I grew up I began reading in a more critical way, and questioning the stories and characters I encountered. In college I learned that the skills I was developing had a name: media literacy. This type of literacy can encourage young people to think about the representations they see in books, and identify perspectives that are emphasized as well as those that may be missing. It can help young readers (and the adults who guide them) appreciate the value of diversity in children’s literature.

Media literacy is an approach to education that encourages active reading/viewing and critical evaluation of media messages of all types including books, TV shows, video games, movies, music, and social media. Three of the five key questions of media literacy can guide discussions of children’s books:

DIVERSITY through the MEDIA LITERACY LENSWho created this message?

All too often, an author is just a name on a cover, and readers don’t think about the people who write the stories they enjoy. Encouraging young people to learn about their favorite authors can help them understand whose perspectives they are seeing. How many are black, or Latino, or Asian? How many are men, and how many are women?

This discussion doesn’t have to lead to tokenism in a reading list, but rather to an awareness of who tells the stories they enjoy. It’s also useful for children to learn that they can relate to an author who might seem different from them.

What lifestyles, values and points of view are represented in, or omitted from, this message?

The answer to this question varies widely in books for children as well as adults. For example, the points of view represented in a Nancy Drew novel (white, female, affluent) are in stark contrast to those in one of Matt de la Peña’s books (Latino, male, working class).

Encouraging students to identify perspectives that are emphasized or missing from the books they read can help them expand their horizons and imagine other world-views. In addition, seeking out books that include points of view they don’t usually encounter can cultivate empathy.

How might different people understand this message differently from me?

As Hamlet suggests to Horatio, ‘there are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in your philosophy.’ Young readers should be encouraged to share with their peers the meanings they make of books, and the knowledge that informs those meanings.

Many may be surprised that another’s interpretation differs from their own. A book that incorporates Spanish or Arabic words may be understood differently by a child who speaks one of those languages at home. A black child who has heard about racial discrimination or experienced it firsthand might read a story about Rosa Parks differently than a white child would.

Media literacy education encourages critical reading and consideration of diverse points of view. It’s a productive and useful approach given the increasingly global everyday culture of the 21st century, when young people may encounter difference in their peers more than any generation did before them. Media literacy and intentional diversity in children’s literature can ensure that difference is treated as an opportunity for learning.


Tina PetersonTina L. Peterson, Ph.D. is the author of Oscar and the Amazing Gravity Repellent (Capstone) and serves on the leadership council of the National Association for Media Literacy Education. More information is available at tinalpeterson.com

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11. Valentine’s Day Poetry Generator

heart1Write a Valentine’s Day Poem!

It’s almost Valentine’s Day! If you want a quick gift idea that is thoughtful and creative, then here’s a little activity you can try. Write a poem!

Here are three types of poems with instructions how to write them. You pick the type of poem you like best and write one for someone you care about. It could be for a family member, a friend, or even a secret crush . . . shhh! Don’t worry! I won’t tell.

Valentine's day poetry generatorLyric: a rhyming poem that expresses personal feelings. It can be as many lines as your heart desires. Here’s an example:

Your love is warm and holds me tight,
Making our moments together just right.
So thank you, Mom, for being you.
Being your daughter is a dream come true.

Haiku: a Japanese poem that has 17 syllables divided into three lines consisting of 5, 7, and 5 syllables on each line. Here’s an example:

The color purple
Reminds me of an orchid.
It’s pretty like you.

Acrostic: a poem where the first, last, or other letters of each line spells out a word or phrase. The word or phrase can be as long as you like. Here’s an example:

LOVE
Like the way the sun caresses my skin,
Our friendship is warm and comforting.
Vividly, I remember our happiest moments
Eating cupcakes and sharing jokes.

YOU
You’re my best friend for so many reasons.
Obviously, we make the best pair.
Uniquely, being you is perfect.

Now it’s your turn. Which type of poem will you write? Leave a Comment with your new poem below. When you’re finished, copy it in a card and send it to the person you wrote it for. Good luck, poets!

-Sandy

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12. Trump Tries in New Hampshire

Scholastic News Kids Press Corps Trump Tries in New Hampshire by Stone Shen

On February 2, more than 3,000 Donald Trump supporters crammed into an athletic club in Milford, New Hampshire to hear the Republican candidate speak. The place was buzzing with excitement. Before Trump came on, a group of people went onto the stage and delivered speeches. This included some of Trump’s campaign managers and former United States Senator Scott Brown.

This rally was important because it was right after the Iowa Caucus, in which Trump finished second. Trump said that he was pleased with the final standing in Iowa, although he has complained elsewhere that the process was unfair.

At the rally, Trump promised to make “big, big cuts in taxes to the middle class.” When asked about his position on gun control, he said, “We’re going to protect ourselves by protecting the Second Amendment.” The Second Amendment says that “the right of the people to keep and bear Arms shall not be infringed.”

ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION
One main topic was illegal immigration. Trump said that he did not oppose immigration. Rather, he just wants immigrants to settle in the U.S. legally.

One Trump supporter with whom I spoke said, “I like his immigration policy. He wants to secure the borders and make people come in the way they used to. You come in, get a job, you support yourself, and you contribute to this country.”

Trump stood by his decision to not participate in the final Republican debate before the Iowa Caucus. That decision was said to have contributed to his defeat to Ted Cruz. Trump said that he had been proud to hold a fundraising event for veterans at the same time as the debate, raising 6 million dollars.

“I like how he is trying to support the country,” said Pearse Wojczak, a young Trump fan from Connecticut, “and how he is trying to protect us.”

Trump ended the rally with a look toward the New Hampshire Primary, saying, “I expect to win.”

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13. The Catharine Stimpson Prize for Outstanding Feminist Scholarship

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From our colleagues at Signs:

The University of Chicago Press and Signs are pleased to announce the competition for the 2017 Catharine Stimpson Prize for Outstanding Feminist Scholarship. Named in honor of the founding editor of Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society, the Catharine Stimpson Prize is designed to recognize excellence and innovation in the work of emerging feminist scholars.

The Catharine Stimpson Prize is awarded biennially to the best paper in an international competition. Leading feminist scholars from around the globe will select the winner. The prizewinning paper will be published in Signs, and the author will be provided an honorarium of $1,000. All papers submitted for the Stimpson Prize will be considered for peer review and possible publication in Signs.

Eligibility: Feminist scholars in the early years of their careers (fewer than seven years since receipt of the terminal degree) are invited to submit papers for the Stimpson Prize. Papers may be on any topic that falls under the broad rubric of interdisciplinary feminist scholarship. Submissions must be no longer than 10,000 words (including notes and references) and must conform to the guidelines for Signs contributors.

Deadline for Submissions: March 1, 2016.

Please submit papers online at http://signs.edmgr.com. Be sure to indicate submission for consideration for the Catharine Stimpson Prize. The honorarium will be awarded upon publication of the prizewinning article.

Papers may also be submitted by post to

The Catharine Stimpson Prize Selection Committee
Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society
Northeastern University
360 Huntington Avenue
263 Holmes Hall
Boston, MA 02115

To visit the Signs site, click here.

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14. Adventures in Babysitting

adventures in babysittingAdventures in Babysitting, inspired by the hugely popular 1980s film of the same name, is an upcoming Disney Channel Original Movie starring Sabrina Carpenter (from Girl Meets World) and Sofia Carson (from Descendants).  It is set to premiere in 2016 on Disney Channel.

In Adventures in Babysitting, a dull evening for two competing babysitters, Jenny (Sabrina Carpenter) and Lola (Sofia Carson), turns into an adventure in the big city as they hunt for one of the kids who somehow snuck away. Talk about a babysitter’s nightmare!

Are you excited for this new Disney Channel movie? Tell us in the Comments.

Sonja, STACKS Staffer

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15. Remembering Francisco Alarcón

Beloved poet and educator Francisco X. Francisco X Alarcon Alarcón passed away on January 15, 2016. Francisco was a prolific writer of poetry for children and adults. Born in California and raised in Mexico, Francisco’s poems explore his Chicano identity and celebrate the double joy of being a poet in two languages. His awards include multiple Pura Belpré Honors as well the Chicano Literary Prize and the PEN Oakland Josephine Miles Award. His passing is a great loss to the world of Latino literature.

We asked some of the authors and artists who knew Francisco to share their memories of him:

Jorge ArguetaJorge Argueta, Author

I met Francisco X. Alarcón in the early 80’s, shortly after I arrived to San Francisco from El Salvador. Panchito was already a well known poet. He was a member of the Roque Dalton Cultural Brigade along with other poets, Alejandro Murguia (founder of the Brigade and current Poet Laureate of San Francisco), the current Poet Laureate of the United States, Juan Felipe Herrera, Jack Hirschman, Barbara Paschke and David Volpendesta.

I met Francisco at the place where most of us gathered, Café La Boheme in San Francisco’s Mission District. Francisco baptized this coffee house “The Cathredal of poetry.”

Francisco teaching young people.
Francisco teaching young people.

I traveled with Francisco four times to El Salvador, to participate in the Annual International Children’s Poetry Festival “Manyula.” Francisco was so happy to contribute. He shared with me the vision that through the gentle power of poetry we could help Salvadoran children and youth stay away from violence and have hope for a better future. Francisco did readings, lectures and poetry workshops for children, youth and teachers.

Years earlier he helped me organize the poems I would publish in my first children’s poetry book, A Movie in my Pillow. I will always be thankful to Francisco for his guidance and recommendations for this book. He truly loved El Salvador, its people, landscape and food.

Francisco at Monsignor Romero's Crypt
Francisco at Monsignor Romero’s Crypt

One day on a break from the festival we walked the short distance from the library, where the festival is held to the San Salvador Cathedral to pay a visit to Monsignor Romero’s crypt (El Salvador’s beloved priest who was assassinated by right wing death squads in the 80’s). Francisco was deeply moved to see his tomb and wrote a poem about this special visit. He shed tears and said to me, “I understand why El Salvador must continue to struggle for justice.”

That evening a wonderful full moon shone in the Salvadoran sky. Francisco laughed with his loud magical smile and said, “Here even the moon is a pupusa*.”

*El Salvador’s most popular food – A round tortilla made with corn dough, stuffed with beans, cheese and other ingredients.


Rene Colato LainezRené Colato Laínez, Author

I first met Francisco X Alarcón through his children’s books in my bilingual classroom at Fernangeles Elementary School. All of my students were from Latino families. Most of them were born in the USA. The rest of the students were recent immigrants from Latin America. I loved to read Francisco’s books because in them my students could find their culture, traditions, and as Francisco said, “Their roots/ Sus raices.”

At that time, my students called me, “The Teacher Full of Stories/ El maestro lleno de cuentos”, because I was always telling stories and turning them into books for the classroom. Francisco’s books were a great inspiration to write my own stories.

René Colato Laínez, Francisco X Alarcón, Margarita Robleda and Jorge Argueta
René Colato Laínez, Francisco X Alarcón, Margarita Robleda and Jorge Argueta

I had the big opportunity to meet Francisco in person at the CABE Conference (California Association for Bilingual Education). I was so excited to meet him. He was my rock star writer! I shared with him and the other authors who were also signing books, Amada Irma

Perez and Juan Felipe Herrera, my desire to write books. Francisco told me to keep writing and one day perhaps I will be sitting and signing books with them too.

Those words inspired me to keep writing and submitting my manuscripts for publication. It was a challenge process to publish a book but I did it. Francisco was right! Now I was signing books next to him and other amazing authors.

Francisco and Rene
Francisco and Rene

In 2010 author Jorge Argueta funded a children poetry festival in my native country, El Salvador. As a Salvadoran children’s book author, Jorge invited me to participate in the poetry festival. Margarita Robleda and Francisco X Alarcón were the other two pillars for this amazing festival that we do every year in El Salvador. Many Salvadoran authors also joined us to create the International

Children’s Poetry Festival (Internacional Festival de Poesía Infantil).

Francisco loved El Salvador. During the civil war, he helped recent Salvadoran immigrants in San Francisco. Now, he was in El Salvador visiting and reading his books to children from different parts of the country.

We always had a great time in El Salvador reading our books, eating pupusas, taking pictures, walking around San Salvador, and swimming at the beach.

I will always remember him. Francisco X. Alarcón, descansa en paz amigo.


Maya Christina GonzalezMaya Christina Gonzalez, Author and Illustrator

Maya wrote on her blog, “Francisco X. Alarcón let go of his body January 15. His passing is moving me very much. I am finishing drawings on our latest book together. A book of days. I look at spending the next few months very intimately sitting with Francisco as the arte unfolds. I am so sad.”

francisco-x-alarcon

Watch Maya and Francisco talk about their work together:


Louise May, Editorial Director at Lee & Low

Francisco was a joyous force of nature with a generous spirit. His works for children radiate love and celebrate family, all kinds of families. I am always amazed at how his poems continue to delight and often catch you by surprise. We are proud to be the custodians of his children’s poetry collections so that generations to come may get to read his work. And I am honored to have had the opportunity to work with him. Always an experience!


Francisco, you will be missed.

Discover Francisco’s books for young readers:

Poems to Dream Together/ Poemas para soñar juntos

Laughing Tomatoes and Other Spring Poems / Jitomates risueños y otros poemas de primavera

From the Bellybutton of the Moon and Other Summer Poems/ Del ombligo de la luna y otros poemas de verano

Angels Ride Bikes and Other Fall Poems/ Los Ángeles Andan en Bicicleta y otros poemas de otoñ

Iguanas in the Snow and Other Winter Poems/ Iguanas en la nieve y otros poemas de invierno

Animal Poems of the Iguazú/ Animalario del Iguazú

 

 

 

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16. Free e-book for February: Outside the Gates of Eden

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Our free e-book for February:
Peter Bacon Hales’s Outside the Gates of Eden: The Dream of America from Hiroshima to Now

Download your copy here.

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Exhilaration and anxiety, the yearning for community and the quest for identity: these shared, contradictory feelings course through Outside the Gates of Eden, Peter Bacon Hales’s ambitious and intoxicating new history of America from the atomic age to the virtual age.

Born under the shadow of the bomb, with little security but the cold comfort of duck-and-cover, the postwar generations lived through—and led—some of the most momentous changes in all of American history. Hales explores those decades through perceptive accounts of a succession of resonant moments, spaces, and artifacts of everyday life—drawing unexpected connections and tracing the intertwined undercurrents of promise and peril. From sharp analyses of newsreels of the first atomic bomb tests and the invention of a new ideal American life in Levittown; from the music emerging from the Brill Building and the Beach Boys, and a brilliant account of Bob Dylan’s transformations; from the painful failures of communes and the breathtaking utopian potential of the early days of the digital age, Hales reveals a nation, and a dream, in transition, as a new generation began to make its mark on the world it was inheriting.

Full of richly drawn set-pieces and countless stories of unforgettable moments, Outside the Gates of Eden is the most comprehensive account yet of the baby boomers, their parents, and their children, as seen through the places they built, the music and movies and shows they loved, and the battles they fought to define their nation, their culture, and their place in what remains a fragile and dangerous world.

To read more about Outside the Gates of Eden, click here.

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17. Author/Illustrator Lulu Delacre Take Us Behind the Art of ¡Olinguito, de la A a la Z! / Olinguito, from A to Z! : Descubriendo el bosque nublado / Unveiling the Cloud Forest

Alto, allá arriba en los Andes brilla un bosque bordado de bromelias…
High up in the Andes blooms a brilliant forest embroidered with bromeliads . . .

Set to be released this spring, ¡Olinguito, de la A a la Z! / Olinguito, from A to Z! : Descubriendo el bosque nublado / Unveiling the Cloud Forest takes readers into the magical world of a cloud forest in the Andes of Ecuador. We discover the bounty of plants, animals, and other organisms that live there as we help a zoologist look for the elusive olinguito, the first new mammal species identified in the Americas since 1978. It has received starred reviews from Publishers Weekly, School Library Journal, and Kirkus Reviews, which called it “a breath of fresh air in the too-often-contrived world of bilingual books.”

olinguito, from A to Z

We asked Lulu to take us behind the scenes of her exquisite art process to make the cloud forest come alive:

I spent an average of ten days working from eight to ten hours per day creating each spread.

sketch 1
Click for larger image

The first thing I did was to transfer the sketch to the Arches watercolor paper. Then I decided which areas would be collaged printed patterns and which would be painted in flat acrylic colors.

I prepared the patterned backgrounds pressing leaves gathered in the cloud forest dipped in ink and stamped onto rice paper.

sketch 2
Click for larger image

With an X-Acto knife I cut out the shapes of texturized paper and pasted them into the background. I used archival glue and micro tweezers to affix the collage elements in their precise positions.

sketch3
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Next I prepared all the shades of acrylics that I would need for the spread and stored them in small clear jars. Each section of a color required several thin coats to achieve the rich look I was looking for. 

sketch 4
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Once the spread was entirely painted I had fun selecting pressed ferns from the forest to affix to the art. This was a delicate process as some of the pressed leaves and ferns are paper thin.

sketch 5
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The last thing was to create the letters for the spread. I wanted a layered look, recreating the natural layers of flora in the forest, so I drew the letters on vellum paper and cut out them out. I taped the letters onto a vellum square and with careful precision affixed the letter in the spot it was intended to be. 

final illustration
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Check out the final spread!

Lulu Delacre has worked with LEE & LOW BOOKS on several award-winning titles, including the Pura Belpré award-winning titles The Storyteller’s Candle/La velita de los cuentos and Arrorró, mi niño: Latino Lullabies and Gentle GamesHow Far Do You Love Me? (English and Spanish), and Jay and Ben. Delacre has been named a Maryland Woman in the Arts and served as a juror for the 2003 National Book Awards. A native of Puerto Rico, Delacre lives with her husband in Silver Spring, Maryland. For more information about Lulu Delacre visit luludelacre.com.

You can purchase a copy of ¡Olinguito, de la A a la Z! / Olinguito, from A to Z! : Descubriendo el bosque nublado / Unveiling the Cloud Forest on our website here.

1 Comments on Author/Illustrator Lulu Delacre Take Us Behind the Art of ¡Olinguito, de la A a la Z! / Olinguito, from A to Z! : Descubriendo el bosque nublado / Unveiling the Cloud Forest, last added: 2/3/2016
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18. Book Wars: Out of My Mind vs. Wonder

Book warsBook Wars: Out of My Mind vs. Wonder

Today we will be comparing two amazing books: Out Of My Mind and Wonder. You may think that think that Out Of My Mind and Wonder are the same, but they are very different.

The two main characters Auggie and Melody both have physical disabilities. These disabilities don’t stop them from still being very bright children. They both want to be apart of the big group with so-called “normal” kids. After many attempts they were rejected.

In Out of My Mind, Melody continues to try different ways to work around her disabilities. Instead of giving up, Melody joins a trivia group with “normal” kids. Melody is then accepted. Melody accepts how she is and deals with what she can do.

In Wonder on the other hand, Auggie just gives up because he feels he is not wanted at school. He thinks about what he wants to be, not what he can do with his disabilities.

Read these books to figure out the true stories of these wonderful characters.

Michael, Scholastic Kids Council

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19. Star Wars Personality Quiz

star wars the force awakensWhich Star Wars Character Are You?

The greatest gift I got this holiday season? Star Wars: The Force Awakens (rated PG-13)! While I’m not as hardcore about it as my good friend who went to see the movie every day for 30 days in a row (not kidding), I still consider myself a pretty big Star Wars fan. And with all the new characters, there’s never been a better time for a STAR WARS PERSONALITY QUIZ! Are you a passionate and whip-smart leader like Padme Amidala? Are you a brave but hesitant rebel like Finn? Take the Star Wars Personality Quiz to find out!Star Wars: The Force Awakens Red Carpet

1. This weekend, you can’t wait to: a) learn how to juggle, do a cool new skateboard trick, or recreate your favorite dish from scratch. b) hang out with your best friend, listening to cool new music together. c) volunteer at your local animal shelter. d) visit your grandparents. e) construct the world’s stinkiest stink bomb ever!

2. Your favorite snack is: a) a granola bar. b) something you can share, like goldfish crackers. c) anything healthy. d) an apple. e) gummy bears.

3. You’d love to go to this kind of music concert: a) hip-hop. b) singer-songwriter. c) pop. d) classical. e) anything loud, loud, loud!

4. People describe you as: a) talented. b) easy-going. c) generous. d) wise. e) wild.

5. Your favorite color is: a) red. b) blue. c) white. d) green. e) Is glitter a color?

6. If you could have any superpower, you would most like to have: a) the ability to learn anything by watching someone else do it. b) invisibility. c) the ability to read other people’s minds. d) the ability to fly. e) the ability to transform into other animals or objects.

7. The career you would most like to have: a) inventor. b) singer. c) political leader. d) writer. e) actor.

8. Your favorite book genre is: a) action and adventure! b) sci-fi/fantasy. c) historical fiction or biography. d) realistic fiction. e) funny fiction.

9. Your personal style is: a) sporty casual. b) comfy and cool. c) classic and polished. d) very practical. If it’s cold out, you zip your jacket right up! e) outrageous.

10. You are happiest when you are: a) out in the wild and surrounded by nature. b) in a small, friendly town that feels like one big family. c) in the heart of a busy city, right where all the action is. d) by the sea, where everyone is very calm and laid-back. e) anywhere you have room to practice extreme sports.

If you picked mostly A’s, you are REY!
You are resourceful and brave, and never let hard times get you down — in fact, you bounce back twenty times stronger! You have a natural ability to pick up almost any skill, and sometimes it can be frustrating because you want to master everything all at once. You’re always operating at 500 miles per hour, but have a great eye for detail. You should remember to take time to slow down and take care of yourself while you’re busy saving the universe!

If you picked mostly B’s, you are FINN!
You are a truly brave soul, willing to put yourself at risk. Even in the darkest of times, you’re able to find something to smile about (and make other people smile, too). While you sometimes doubt your own abilities and would rather stay out of the spotlight, you should have more faith in yourself–you are an incredible team player. After all, it takes team work to make the dream work! You’re excellent at keeping your friends and companions motivated, and without you, they wouldn’t be able to achieve half of the things that they do.

If you picked mostly C’s, you are PADMÉ AMIDALA!
You are incredibly bright, a master negotiator, and feel very, very strongly about sticking up for people who can’t stick up for themselves. You are a natural leader, although sometimes you accidentally let your personal feelings cloud your judgment. You succeed by using your superior intellect, which is your greatest strength. You are never driven by selfishness, and your passion for creating a better world inspires others to do the same. People naturally gravitate towards you and look to you as an example of everything that an excellent leader should be!

If you picked mostly D’s, you are OBI WAN KENOBI!
You are the voice of reason among your friends, which can sometimes drive them a little nuts, but you are usually right! Your dedication to obeying the rules and considering everything logically is only surpassed by your steadfast loyalty and generous heart. And while you’d never break the rules yourself, you can understand why other people do. You are an excellent listener and always give the very best advice, and your friends are very, very lucky to have such a wonderful moral compass to guide them through tricky (and sticky) situations!

If you picked mostly E’s, you are R2-D2!
You are the life of the party! You are a prankster and love a good laugh, but always come through for your friends in their time of need. You’re incredibly bright, though sometimes people (especially parents and teachers!) get frustrated with you because you’d rather be making mischief than studying. However, you have a perfect balance of silly and sweet, which is why no one can stay mad at you for long!

Which Star Wars character matches your personality? Share in the Comments below!

May the force be with you!

En-Szu

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20. Jennifer Tyburczy on Sex Museums for Artforum

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Just a snippet from a fab piece by Jennifer Tyburczy for Artforum on the research informing her recent book Sex Museums: The Politics and Performance of Display, which places the museum in its spatial, political, and sexual contexts, each imbricated by the other, as well as our notions of public and private. You can read more from her “500 Words” piece here.

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The big surprise, though, was that as soon as I started to write about sex museums, they started to close. The latter part of my book is dedicated to an ethnography of these spaces. It was disconcerting when I would plan out a visit to Los Angeles to see an erotic museum that then closed mere months before I could make the trip. Part of the book became about the failure of these ventures, and I don’t mean in a Jack Halberstam, Queer Art of Failure kind of way. Ultimately, many of these museums could not provide what visitors wanted, which was a really raw experience with sex drawn from the archive and arranged in displays. A lot of the museums I discuss—whether in New York, Denmark, or Spain—had an ingrained idea of who their normative visitor was and where their threshold of shock was located. Without fail, they always set the bar too low. People wanted more! The demands of being a twenty-first-century museum taking on the onus to display sex overwhelmed a lot of the museum planners. Typically they censored themselves in some way that visitors noted. The heartening message here is that we shouldn’t assume that people will be shocked and turned off by displays of diverse sexual cultures and people. Museum visitors are smart and savvy, and ready and willing to have that experience. My work makes an argument for the emotional and sexual intelligence of a viewer.

To read more about Sex Museums, click here.

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21. Books to Read for Valentine’s Day

Recommend me!Valentine’s Day Book Picks for Ages 8-12

February has me thinking about Valentine’s Day, and while I’m not really a mushy, love-y kind of girl, sometimes I like a good story about everyday, typical kids in real, true to life situations. Here are three not-super-mushy books to get you in the mood for Valentine’s Day this year.

Sit Stay Love Sit, Stay, Love: A Wish Novel by J.J. Howard

Puppy love was never so complicated! A funny and heartwarming story about a meet-cute at a pet shelter.

The Boy Problem
The Boy Problem by Kami Kinard

From Kami Kinard comes an illustrated companion novel to The Boy Project that further explores what it’s like to be a 12-year-old girl looking for the perfect crush. The Boy Problem: Notes and Predictions of Tabitha Reddy is a laugh-out-loud peek in the life of a precocious and bubbly girl. Full of illustrations and doodles, hilarious formulas and equations, as well as lessons in life, love, friendship, and baking, this diary will have you laughing and crying at the same time.

Romeo Blue
Romeo Blue
by Phoebe Stone

Secrets, spies and sleuthing abound in this follow-up to Phoebe Stone’s The Romeo and Juliet Code. When Flissy Budwig’s parents first dropped her off in Bottlebay, Maine, she hated everything about it. Most of all, she hated knowing that she was safe in America while her parents faced the guns of WWII in Europe. Especially when she discovered her parents were spies. Especially when she learned her parents were missing.

But a year has passed now, and Flissy has grown to love life in Bottlebay and grown to love Derek, the boy the Bathburns have adopted. Then a man claiming to be Derek’s true father arrives, and soon he’s asking all sorts of strange questions. Flissy has a nose for trouble. Has Derek’s new father come to take him away from Flissy forever, or is there something even more sinister afoot in Bottlebay, Maine?

What books are YOU reading this month? Tell us in the Comments!

Sonja, STACKS Staffer

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22. Year of the Monkey: Books and Activities for Chinese New Year

2016 Chinese New Year is Monday, February 8th and it’s the year of the Monkey. How can you celebrate with students?

Cross-Curricular Activities

Here are some ideas to help you and your students get involved with reading and writing about the Chinese New Year.  Additional ideas can be found in individual book teacher guides and the LEE & LOW Chinese New Year Resource Guide for Teachers.

Art:

  1. Explain that the Chinese dragon represents strength and goodness. The dragon appears at the end of the New Year parade to wish everyone peace, wealth, and good luck. Have students draw a picture of a Chinese dragon and describe the dragon in a paragraph. Instruct students to draw the dragon so it has the features of several creatures. Chinese dragons often have the scales of a fish, the beard of a goat, the claws of an eagle, and the body of a snake. For an excellent and more detailed lesson on drawing a Chinese dragon, check out the Art Institute of Chicago.
  2. Provide students with construction paper, tissue paper, colored cotton balls, crayons, safety scissors, glue, and other art supplies to make their own lanterns, masks, flags, and other items for a Chinese Lunar New Year Parade. Several students may even wish to work together to make a lion or a dragon. Let students carry their creations and hold their own parade. You may wish to download some Chinese music to play during the festivities.

Science:

  1. For the New Year, Chinese children are given red envelopes with brand-new money inside. Make a solution of 1/2 cup white vinegar and 1/4 cup salt in a nonmetal bowl. Let students drop pennies into the solution, wait a few minutes, then remove and dry the coins with a paper towel. Students will have shiny “new” pennies to wrap in red paper and give as gifts to their friends and families.
  2. The Chinese New Year is based on the lunar calendar as opposed to the solar calendar. Have students investigate the two calendars and compare them using a Venn diagram. Why does the Chinese New Year fall on a different date each year?

Writing:

  1. Encourage students to describe a New Year’s celebration that they spent with their families. What kind of activities took place? How did they celebrate?
  2. Have students write an original story about a holiday they celebrate.

Social Studies:

  1. Many video clips of Chinese Lunar New Year parades are available online. One example is from the History Channel. If possible, let students view one or more of these to see a real parade. Have students describe the excitement, preparation, and festivities of the parade.
  2. Teach students about the history of Chinese Americans. When did they first immigrate to the United States? What were the reasons they left their homeland? In which cities did they settle? What were the origins of Chinatowns? What challenges did Chinese people and Chinese Americans face in the United States? One place to learn more is the timeline of Chinese in America from the Museum of Chinese in America.
  3. Have students locate China on a map or globe and tell students that China is one of the largest countries in the world. Have students mark the capital of China, as well as their location in the United States. On what continent is China? Which countries border China? What are some major rivers in China? What seas and ocean border China?
  4. Explore the 12-year cycle of the Chinese lunar calendar with EDSITEment’s lesson on the Chinese Zodiac and video, “Why the Rat Comes First: A Lunar New Year Story,” from the Asian Art Museum.

Math:

  1. Students may enjoy learning how to write the Chinese characters for the numerals 1 through 10. Here are the characters for 1 through 10 from the BBC for students.
  2. Write the Mandarin numbers, their pronunciations, and their numerical equivalents on the whiteboard. Have students practice saying the number words until they are familiar with their pronunciations and meanings. Then give students simple math problems  to solve using these number words. For extra challenge, encourage students to write a simple math problem in Chinese and share with their peers to try.

Books for Chinese New Year

(Download the list as a PDF here).

SPOTLIGHT: The Magical Monkey King: Mischief in Heaven This is an adaption perfect for elementary schools of one of China’s favorite classics, Journey to the West. This Monkey is arrogant, bold, clever, and hilarious. Every child in China grows up listening to stories of the irrepressible Monkey King. Join Monkey as he wins his title as King of the Monkeys, studies with a great sage to learn the secrets of immortality, and even takes on the job as a royal gardener in the Kingdom of Heaven.

 

Chinatown Adventure A young Chinese American girl is spending the day in Chinatown with her mother. With so many interesting things to buy, how will she spend her money?

 

 

D is for Doufu: An Alphabet Book of Chinese Culture and I Love China: A Companion Book to D is for Doufu This book introduces readers to Chinese culture, beliefs, and legends in today’s context. It explores the meanings of 23 Chinese words and phrases while providing an interesting historical and cultural background.

 

 

 

Golden Dragon Parade Chinese New Year is here. Come along to the Golden Dragon Parade.

 

 

 

Sam and the Lucky Money Sam can hardly wait to go shopping with his mom. It’s Chinese New Year’s day and his grandparents have given him the traditional gift of lucky money. Yet, Sam discovers that sometimes the best gifts come from the heart.

 

 

 

The Day the Dragon Danced Sugar and her Grandma are going to the Chinese New Year’s Day parade, but Grandma is skeptical about New Year’s in February and scary dragons.

 

 

 

 The Dragon Lover and Other Chinese Proverbs These proverbs are used in everyday Chinese life to illustrate moments of humor or clarity in our actions. Each of the five stories collected here feature animals that help readers shed light on the truths of human nature.

 

 

 

The Monster in the Mudball When Jin’s little brother is kidnapped by the monster Zilombo, Jin teams up with Chief Inspector of Ancient Artifacts Mizz Z on the streets of England to find him and defeat the monster.

 

 

 

The Wishing Tree Every Lunar New Year, Ming and his grandmother visited the Wishing Tree. Grandmother warned him to wish carefully, and sure enough, Ming’s wishes always seemed to come true. But one year—when Ming made the most important wish of his life—the tree let him down. 

(Download the full book list and activities as a PDF here).

Chinese New Year

Jill Eisenberg, our Senior Literacy Specialist, began her career teaching English as a Foreign Language for second through sixth grade in Yilan, Taiwan as a Fulbright Fellow. She went on to become a literacy teacher for third grade in the Bay Area, CA as a Teach for America corps member where she became passionate about best practices for supporting English Language Learners and parent engagement. In her column for Lee & Low’s The Open Book blog, she offers teaching and literacy tips for educators.

0 Comments on Year of the Monkey: Books and Activities for Chinese New Year as of 2/1/2016 9:28:00 AM
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23. Books to Read for Valentine's Day

heart4Valentine’s Day Book Picks for Ages 8-12

February has me thinking about Valentine’s Day, and while I’m not really a mushy, love-y kind of girl, sometimes I like a good story about everyday, typical kids in real, true to life situations. Here are three not-super-mushy books to get you in the mood for Valentine’s Day this year.

Sit Stay Love Sit, Stay, Love: A Wish Novel by J.J. Howard

Puppy love was never so complicated! A funny and heartwarming story about a meet-cute at a pet shelter.

The Boy Problem
The Boy Problem by Kami Kinard

From Kami Kinard comes an illustrated companion novel to The Boy Project that further explores what it’s like to be a 12-year-old girl looking for the perfect crush. The Boy Problem: Notes and Predictions of Tabitha Reddy is a laugh-out-loud peek in the life of a precocious and bubbly girl. Full of illustrations and doodles, hilarious formulas and equations, as well as lessons in life, love, friendship, and baking, this diary will have you laughing and crying at the same time.

Romeo Blue
Romeo Blue
by Phoebe Stone

Secrets, spies and sleuthing abound in this follow-up to Phoebe Stone’s The Romeo and Juliet Code. When Flissy Budwig’s parents first dropped her off in Bottlebay, Maine, she hated everything about it. Most of all, she hated knowing that she was safe in America while her parents faced the guns of WWII in Europe. Especially when she discovered her parents were spies. Especially when she learned her parents were missing.

But a year has passed now, and Flissy has grown to love life in Bottlebay and grown to love Derek, the boy the Bathburns have adopted. Then a man claiming to be Derek’s true father arrives, and soon he’s asking all sorts of strange questions. Flissy has a nose for trouble. Has Derek’s new father come to take him away from Flissy forever, or is there something even more sinister afoot in Bottlebay, Maine?

What books are YOU reading this month? Tell us in the Comments!

Sonja, STACKS Staffer

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24. What is an Air Guitar?

tt

The University of Chicago Press: you’ve got the answer(s), we’ve got the question(s).

(And by questions, I mean Dave Hickey’s other books.)

        Untitled

To read more about The Invisible Dragon, click here.

To read more about 25 Women: Essays on Their Art, click here.

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25. Super Bowl

SuperbowlGet ready for the biggest football game of the year!

As you know, the Super Bowl is almost here. The 50th Super Bowl football game will be played on Sunday, February 7. The Denver Broncos will battle the Carolina Panthers, so I thought we could round up some of the best football facts and fun from the STACKS. Here are a few things for you to do to get ready for the big game.

  • Take this Super Bowl trivia quiz.
  • Play the Game Changers football game.
  • Get the latest football books from Scholastic.
  • Leave a Comment telling us which team you are rooting for in Super Bowl 50!
  • Or if you prefer animal sports, will you be watching the Kitten Bowl on Hallmark Channel, or Puppy Bowl on Animal Planet?

kittenbowl

puppy-bowl

 

 

 

Photos courtesy of Hallmark Channel and Animal Planet

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