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1. Lee & Low at the Brooklyn Book Festival on Sunday, 9/21

For those who are in the New York City Area, we’ve got lots of great things happening this weekend!

On Saturday, September 20 at 10:30 am, Katheryn Russell-Brown, author of Little Melba and Her Big Trombone, will be doing a reading at the Bank Street Bookstore in New York City. More info here.

Little Melba and Her Big Trombone

LEE & LOW BOOKS will also be at the Brooklyn Book Festival this Sunday, September 21! We’re looking forward to a fun-filled day with our authors, and if you’re in the New York City area we hope you’ll stop by! We’ll be at booth #604, right next to the Columbus Statue Garden.

brooklyn book festival

Artwork from HIROMI’S HANDS, written and illustrated by Lynne Barasch

The festival is located at Brooklyn Borough Hall and Plaza, 209 Joralemon Street, Brooklyn, NY 11201.

BROOKLYN BOOK FESTIVAL SIGNINGS

monica brown10-10:45am at booth #604; 3-3:30pm at the Brooklyn Book Festival Children’s Area

Monica Brown is the author of Marisol McDonald Doesn’t Match and Marisol McDonald and the Clash Bash

 

christiane kromer 11-11:45am at booth #604

Christiane Krömer is the illustrator of King For a Day

 

mark greenwoodfrane lessac12-12:30pm at the Brooklyn Book Festival Children’s Area; 1-1:45pm at booth #604

Mark Greenwood and Frané Lessac are the author and illustrator of Drummer Boy of John John

Hope to see you there!


Filed under: Activities and Events Tagged: author signings, book festival, Brooklyn, Brooklyn Book Festival

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2. Your Sleepy Hollow Season 1 Recap

Stacy Whitman, Publisher of Tu Books, Stacy Whitman photoexplains why she loves Sleepy Hollow and tells us what we need to know to jump into season 2 next week. Spoilers ahead, so beware!

I never really considered myself a fan of the original Washington Irving “Sleepy Hollow” tale. It scared me as a kid, and not in a good way.

So when I started seeing posters advertising the show last year, I shrugged, despite the fact that the show was going to star a woman of color in a lead role.

As I heard people talk about how wonderful the show was, I caught up on the first few episodes and quickly became a Sleepyhead (as we fans call ourselves), spurred on by the storytelling in the show itself and the fun that actor Orlando Jones created for us as he fangirled his own show on the Internet.

If you didn’t quite get the show when it first started, we understand. We’ve been there. But that doesn’t mean that you need to miss out on all the fun this year. Sleepy Hollow is not only one of the most diverse dramas on network TV right now, it’s also one of the most fun. Come over to the dark side and become a Sleepyhead – you won’t regret it!

Note: If you have Hulu Plus and a wide-open weekend, we recommend you stop reading right now and just go binge watch entire first season on Hulu Plus right now (or just the pilot, which is available to everyone). Or, if you need a TL;DR right now (stands for too long, didn’t read) you can just check out this clip from Fox that will catch you up in 60 seconds:

Otherwise, read on for our highlights!

The Characters

Ichabod Crane: British, but fought with the Patriots in the Revolutionary War. During a Revolutionary War battle, Crane sees a masked Redcoat (the Horseman, we discover) coming at him. The Redcoat deals him a lethal blow, but Ichabod is able to cut off the man’s head before he collapses. Several hundred years later (welcome to 2013!), Ichabod wakes up in a cave and digs himself out of his own grave.

Lt. Abbie Mills: Sheriff’s Lieutenant in the quiet town of Sleepy Hollow, Abbie is preparing to leave for Quantico to join the FBI when she witnesses the murder of her Sheriff by the Headless Horseman. Skeptical by nature, a series of strange happenings convinces Abbie that there’s no need to head to Quantico: there is plenty of trouble afoot right in Sleepy Hollow. 

Captain Frank Irving: Abbie’s boss. Captain Irving at first denies that anything supernatural is going down in Sleepy Hollow. He can’t stay in denial forever, though…and may know more than he’s letting on.

 Andy Brooks: Abbie’s coworker Andy (played by the always lovable John Cho) is killed off in the very first episode, but death can’t keep him away. In subsequent episodes Brooks returns, as an agent of the Headless Horseman who, once in a while, is still able to protect Abbie.

Katrina Crane: Ichabod’s dead wife is a witch and trapped in Purgatory. She’s giving him visions from beyond the grave to help him figure out why he was awakened along with the Headless Horseman.

Jenny Mills: Abbie’s sister. Jenny was put into a mental institution years ago after she admitted to seeing a strange demon as a teenager. She may be the only one in Sleepy Hollow who’s not a little bit crazy, though.

Sleepy Hollow 1

What You Need to Know

 The answers are found in Washington’s Bible. This one keeps coming up, so take note.

The Headless Horseman is Death, the first Horseman of the Apocalypse. His goal is to bring about the end of the world, with as much misery and mischief along the way as possible. Ichabod and Abbie are the two witnesses spoken of in the Book of Revelation, and their job is to see the signs of and hopefully be able to prevent the return of the Four Horsemen who wish to usher in the Apocalypse.

The demon Abbie and Jenny saw as teens was the start. This event turns out to be the beginning of the end—the start of this round of machinations to end the world. Only Jenny admitted to seeing the demon (landing herself in a mental institution) and she becomes an important link between Abbie, Ichabod, and Moloch, the demon putting everything into motion.

Ichabod and the Horseman are linked. This I tell ya, brother/ Can’t kill one without the other…

The Horseman is actually…Arthur. Who’s Arthur? Some chump who used to be Ichabod’s best friend and Katrina’s former fiancé, back in the day. Katrina left him and later fell in love with Ichabod. Arthur, in his fury, agreed to become Death. The world would have ended back then had it not been for Ichabod killing him in battle. Talk about a bad end to a love triangle.

Katrina had a son by Ichabod. He didn’t know it at the time of his (not permanent) death, though. That son was whisked away by Abbie’s ancestors, only to end up buried alive. His name is Sleepy Hollow 2Jeremy.

There is a way to unlink Ichabod and the Horseman. A person called a Sin Eater has the ability to literally eat someone’s sin, and I honestly have no idea how this unlinks Ichabod from him, but it does.

The Sin Eater in question is Henry Parrish, who all along has seemed to be an ally in the fight against Moloch, but in the very last episode, we come to find out he’s … not such a nice guy. In fact, he’s Jeremy, Katrina and Ichabod’s son, with a lot of power and a lot of parental resentment. He helps Ichabod and Abbie enter Purgatory to rescue Katrina, but it all goes wrong, and as Ichabod and Katrina leave Purgatory—leaving Abbie behind there—Jeremy reveals his true nature as the Horseman of War. He whisks his mother off to Moloch and buries Ichabod alive…

And now you’re where we all are, two Horsemen down, and waiting for next Monday with bated breath! Join us as we live-tweet our reactions to the season 2 premiere on Monday on @leeandlow and @tubooks!


Filed under: Educator Resources Tagged: diverse television, pop culture, Sleepy Hollow, tv

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3. Goin' to Carolina in my mind. Also, in real life.


If you need me today, I'll be speaking for FOUR HOURS at SCBWI Carolinas. With critiques and another workshop on Saturday, let's hope I don't end up losing my voice.

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4. Cameron Boyce, Take Two

cameron_boyce_iconCameron Boyce, a.k.a. Luke from Jessie!KARAN BRAR, CAMERON BOYCE

photo courtesy Disney Channel

Q: So how is it working with everyone, including the lizard?

Cameron: The lizard’s name is Frank, and he is a dude. He’s pretty slow and he is not very intimidating. You think that he can run after you and eat you, but he’s really slow. He’s a big boy!

Q: What kind of stuff do you get from the fans?

Cameron: I get a lot of funny letters. The cutest ones I get are from really little girls, because they are full of misspelled words and words are backwards. They all pretty much say, “You’re cute . . . I like you a lot!” I also get a lot of things in the mail . . . like bracelets. I get a lot of bracelets. I got a stuffed Koala from Georgia.

Did you read our earlier interview with Cameron

? Be sure to check that out, and also don’t miss our interview with his castmate Karan Brar (and take our Jessie Would You Rather quiz)! Are you excited to see what happens with Luke next? Are you a Jessie fan? What kind of fan mail would YOU send Cameron? Share your thoughts in the Comments below!

See y’all around,

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

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5. Alison Bechdel, MacArthur Fellow, 2014

tumblr_nc25b7qq501rr9j8oo1_400

Image via Out Magazine

bechdel_2014_hi-res-download_2_2-1024x682Congratulations to cartoonist and graphic memoirist Alison Bechdel, one the 2014 MacArthur Foundation Fellows, or “genius grant” honorees, whose work in comics and narrative has helped to transform and elevate our understanding of women—”Dykes to Watch Out For” in all their expressions, mothers and daughters,  and the implications of social and political changes on those who dwell everyday in a broad variety of female-identified bodies. Additionally, Bechdel is well-known in film studies circles for her duplicitously simple three-question test for gender parity, which has drawn broad attention since first delivered via her 1985 strip “The Rule.”

From the Washington Post:

1) Does it have two female characters?

2) Who talk to each other?

3) About something other than a man?

If the answer to all three questions is yes, the film passes the Bechdel test.

Bechdel is also the subject of two feature-length interviews in Hillary L. Chute’s Outside the Box: Interviews with Contemporary Cartoonists, and a contributor to Critical Inquiry’s special issue Comics & Mediaboth of which were released this year. Below, see video footage of a Bechdel/Chute interview from 2011, when Chute visited Bechdel at her home in Jericho, Vermont:

To read more about Outside the Box or the Comics & Media issue of CI, click here.

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6. Hello Kitty Crochet

Hello Kitty CrochetHello Kitty Crochet: Supercute Amigurimi Patterns for Sanrio Friends

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7. The Little Melba Playlist: A Jazz Music Primer from Frank Morrison

Summer is coming to an end, but that doesn’t mean the fun stops! With cooler weather comes fun indoor activities, like catching a great jazz show. We asked Frank Morrison, illustrator of our new picture book biography, Little Melba and Her Big Trombone, to share some of his favorite jazz numbers with us. Many of the artists below played or arranged with Melba Doretta Liston; others inspired Frank while he created his illustrations. So sit back with your cup of apple cider and let the rhythm carry you away!

  • John Coltrane: “Out of This World,” plus Coltrane’s albums The Inch Worm, Big Nick, and Giant Steps
  • Thelonious Monk: “Well, You Needn’t,” “Ruby, My Dear,” “Off Minor,” and “Bemsha Swing”
  • Dizzy Gillespie: “52nd Street Theme” and “A Night in Tunisia”
  • Miles Davis: “Freddie Freeloader,” “Round Midnight,” “Airegin,” and “Blue in Green,” plus Davis’s album Kind of Blue 

little melba and her big trombone

  • Chet Baker: “My Funny Valentine”
  • Art Blakey: “Dat Dere,” “Moanin’,” “Blues March,” “The Chess Players,” and “Señor Blues” (performed with Horace Silver)
  • Abbey Lincoln: “Afro Blue”
  • Clifford Brown: “Daahoud,” “The Blues Walk,” “Jordu,” and “Parisian Thoroughfare”

little melba and her big trombone

  • Duke Ellington: “In a Sentimental Mood” and “Take the ‘A’ Train”
  • Stan Getz: “Corcovado” and “I’ve Got You Under My Skin”
  • Louis Armstrong: “Summer Song,” “West End Blues,” and “I Got Rhythm”

Still can’t get enough jazz music? Here’s Duke Ellington’s “In a Sentimental Mood.”

Have your own favorite jazz tunes? Leave ‘em in the comments!


Filed under: Art and Book Design, Lee & Low Likes, Musings & Ponderings Tagged: dizzy gillespie, Duke Ellington, Frank Morrison, jazz music, jazz videos, louis armstrong, melba liston, miles davis, Music, musical instruments, trombones

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8. “A clear and effective picture; vivid.”

Are the sex scenes graphic?

Carrie Mesrobian has written something very important. You should go and read it.

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9. The Meaning of Maggie: Review Haiku

You'll catch on before
Maggie does, but you'll love her
for her ignorance.

The Meaning of Maggie by Megan Jean Sovern. Chronicle, 2014, 220 pages.

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10. Why Graphic Novels Are Awesome

Hi!A Couple (or More) of My Favorite Things: A Highly Persuasive Article by Maggie B.Furthermore, art and words cannot always represent everything their creator wants them to. As a duo, however, they are unstoppable! One can give the general idea while the other elaborates, or both words and pictures can work together to become something they couldn’t be on their own, working in tandem to give an idea as well as the meaning behind it.graphic novel;

you might fall in love with them like I did.

Maggie, Scholastic Kids Council Member

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11. Worlds End now available at the following stores


New stockists
Hi Folks,

Great news as we announce that the following retail outlets have begun to stock our products. If you live in the North West of England you can now purchase the Worlds End graphic novels from the following stores:

Travelling Man - Leeds
32 Central Road, LS1 6DE
Tel: 0113 243 6461
Opening Hours:
Mon - Fri: 10am - 6pm
Sat: 10am - 5:30pm
Sun: 11am - 5pm

Travelling Man - Manchester
4 Dale Street, M1 1JW
Tel: 0161 237 1877
Opening Hours:
Mon - Sat: 10am - 6pm
Sun: 11am - 4:30pm

Travelling Man - Newcastle
43 Grainger Street, NE1 5JE
Tel: 0191 261 4993
Opening Hours:
Mon - Sat: 10am - 6pm
Sun: 11am - 4:30pm

Travelling Man - York
54 Goodramgate
YO1 7LF
Tel: 01904 628 787
Opening Hours:
Mon - Sat: 10am - 6pm
Sun: 11am - 5pm

OK Comics
19, Thornton’s Arcade
Briggate
Leeds
West Yorkshire
LS1 6LQ
Tel: 0113 246 9366
Opening Hours
Mon - Sat: 9am - 6pm
Sun: 11am - 4pm

The Batcave
3-5 Lower Cockcroft
Northgate
Blackburn
Lancashire
BB2 1JD
Tel: 01254 667488
Opening Hours
Mon - Sat: 10:30am - 5:30pm

 
 One of the best things about all these shops – and there are lots of very positive things to say about each of them – is that as well as stocking the bigger publishers like Marvel, DC, Dark Horse and the like, they also support smaller publishers such as ourselves here at Wizards Keep Publishing.

I have been buying from these guys now for a good number of years and can’t tell you how excited we are to get this support.

Please drop in at any of the above stores whilst you are next out shopping in the area. All of them have excellent stock for all ages, are pleasant and easy to look around, and are run by knowledgeable and friendly staff.

And whilst you browse there, please remember to ask to look at our Worlds End books and if you like them, please make a discerning purchase for yourselves and/or for members of your family that like to read an exciting and interesting, visually stunning story… oh, and don’t forget to tell them who sent you.

Thanks in advance for your continued support guys and…

Until next time, have fun!

Tim Perkins…
September 16th 2014

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12. WordPressers Making a Splash

We might think of the end of summer as a slow news season. Not so for the authors and bloggers we feature today, who’ve been hard at work on some exciting projects recently.

Rebecca Hains

princess problemWriter, professor, and media scholar Rebecca Hains often shares thoughtful posts on her blog, especially on topics revolving around gender and discrimination. Earlier this month, she celebrated the release of The Princess Problem: Guiding Our Girls through the Princess-Obsessed Years (Sourcebooks), her most recent book. A critique of popular culture and the messages it sends to young girls, the book has already earned rave reviews, including from Brenda Chapman, writer and director of Disney’s Brave.

Broken Light: A Photography Collective

broken light

Danielle Hark founded Broken Light Collective, a community for photographers coping with mental health issues, more than two years ago. We’ve been following that project for a while (and mentioned it in a mental health-focused roundup earlier this year), so it was nice to see Danielle, and Broken Light Collective as a whole, receive the attention they deserve in a New York Times profile. It was published to coincide with the Collective‘s first group gallery show, which closed in New York in August.

Hungry Sofia

cuban table

Ana Sofía Peláez‘s site has showcased the colorful, mouthwatering delights of Caribbean cuisine for more than five years, mixing in great storytelling with beautiful food photography. Next month,  Ana Sofía will see her book, The Cuban Table: A Celebration of Food, Flavors, and History (St. Martin’s Press), hit bookstores (and kitchens) everywhere. A labor of love on which she collaborated with photographer Ellen Silverman, the book chronicles Cuban food cultures from Havana to Miami to New York.

Notches

Anyone interested in engaging, wide-ranging discussions on the history of sexuality will enjoy Notches, a blog that has tackled topics like Medieval love magic and the origins of “Born This Way” politics.

Jack the Ripper

Earlier this week, Notches editor Julia Laite, a lecturer at the University of London, wrote a thought-provoking article in The Guardian on another fascinating topic: our decades-long obsession with Jack the Ripper.

Ever Upward

ever upward

Justine Brooks Froelker, the blogger behind Ever Upward, has been chronicling her journey through infertility, loss, and acceptance in posts that are at once unflinching and moving. Now, Justine is preparing for the release of her book, also named Ever Upward, in early October (it’ll also be available on Amazon starting February). You can get a taste of Justine’s writing in this excerpt from the book’s opening chapter.

Are you publishing a book soon? Has your blog made the news? Leave us a comment — we’d love to know.


Filed under: Community, Press, Writing

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13. Karen Hawkins’ magical adventure with The Boxcar Children

The first animated DVD of The Boxcar Children by Gertrude Chandler Warner, the first book in the series, is now on sale wherever DVDs are sold! The film features voice actors Joey KingMackenzie Foy, Zachary Gordon, and Jaden Sand.  Directors include Daniel Chuba and Mark A. Z. Dippé.

Boxcar DVD cover

New York Times best-selling author Karen Hawkins writes how The Boxcar Children series is magical:

I’ve been a reader from the day I could hold a book. My mother encouraged reading by filling every bookshelf in our house with books she’d gathered from library sales and bookstore bins, both new and used. And it was on one of her packed bookshelves that I found my first Boxcar Children book.

BC cover 51DMhV03xGL__SY344_BO1,204,203,200_

It was a difficult time for me, as we’d just moved, and I was struggling to find friends in a small school where everyone already had a best friend. Reading was my escape from the awkwardness of being the new girl, and from the moment I opened the first page of the first Boxcar Children book, I fell madly, wildly, and crazily in love with the series. In a few weeks’ time, I’d read every single one and would reread them over and over.

There were so many things I loved about the Boxcar Children—the mystery of each story, the family interactions, the way they faced adversity together—all of it spoke to me. To this day, whenever I see a Boxcar Children book on a shelf, I smile. I smile even more when I see the books in the hands of my children. And one day, I hope to see those books in the hands of their children, too.

It takes a special series to last through generations of readers, and yet the Boxcar Children series has done just that. There is magic in those pages. Magic that lasts.

Karen will be doing a Boxcar DVD giveaway—like her on Facebook or follow her on Twitter for a chance to win a copy!  And be sure to pick up her new book THE PRINCE WHO LOVED ME on sale SEPTEMBER 23!  Visit her website for more information. 

Out September 23!

Available September 23!


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14. Hermione Would You Rather

Hermione illustration by Mary GrandPreWould You Rather Be Hermione Granger?Hermione’s

adventures!

Would You Rather . . . 

  1. Fight a mountain troll OR a Dementor?
  2. Go to the Yule Ball with Victor Krum OR Ron Weasley?
  3. Be the smartest kid in the class like Hermione OR the “chosen one” like Harry?
  4. Have a cat like Crookshanks OR a rat like Scabbers?
  5. Be in Ravenclaw OR Hufflepuff? (If you couldn’t be in Gryffindor!)
  6. Learn spells from Hermione OR learn practical jokes from Fred & George?
  7. Use a Time-Turner to take extra classes OR just take the normal amount of classes?
  8. Have a scar on your forehead OR crazy-frizzy hair?
  9. See Hermione marry Ron OR see Hermione marry Harry? (even J. K. Rowling has mixed feelings on this one!)

Leave your answers (and birthday wishes to Hermione!) in the Comments below!

Ratha, STACKS Writer

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15. Rachel Sussman and The Oldest Living Things in the World

9780226057507

 

This past week, Rachel Sussman’s colossal photography project—and its associated book—The Oldest Living Things in the World, which documents her attempts to photograph continuously living organisms that are 2,000 years old and older, was profiled by the New Yorker:

To find the oldest living thing in New York City, set out from Staten Island’s West Shore Plaza mall (Chuck E. Cheese’s, Burlington Coat Factory, D.M.V.). Take a right, pass Industry Road, go left. The urban bleakness will fade into a litter-strewn route that bisects a nature preserve called Saw Mill Creek Marsh. Check the tides, and wear rubber boots; trudging through the muddy wetlands is necessary.

The other day, directions in hand, Rachel Sussman, a photographer from Greenpoint, Brooklyn, went looking for the city’s most antiquated resident: a colony of Spartina alterniflora or Spartina patens cordgrass which, she suspects, has been cloning and re-cloning itself for millennia.

Not simply the story of a cordgrass selfie, Sussman’s pursuit becomes contextualized by the lives—and deaths—of our fragile ecological forbearers, and her desire to document their existence while they are still of the earth. In support of the project, Sussman has a series of upcoming events surrounding The Oldest Living Things in the World. You can read more at her website, or see a listing of public events below:

EXHIBITIONS:

Imagining Deep Time (a cultural program of the National Academy of Sciences in Washington, DC), on view from August 28, 2014 to January 15, 2015

Another Green World, an eco-themed group exhibition at NYU’s Gallatin Galleries, featuring Nina KatchadourianMitchell JoaquimWilliam LamsonMary MattinglyMelanie Baker and Joseph Heidecker, on view from September 12, 2014 to October 15, 2014

The Oldest Living Things in the World, a solo exhibition at Pioneer Works in Brooklyn, NY, from September 15, 2014 to November 2, 2014, including a closing program

TALKS:

Sept 18th: a discussion in conjunction with the National Academy of Sciences exhibition Imagining Deep Time for DASER (DC Art Science Evening Rendezvous), Washington, DC (free and open to the public)

Nov 20th: an artist’s talk at the Museum of Contemporary Photography, Chicago

To read more about The Oldest Living Things in the World, click here.

 

 

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16. We Are the Goldens: Review Haiku

After-school special
material in the hands
of a prose master.

We Are the Goldens by Dana Reinhardt. Wendy Lamb/Random, 2014, 208 pages.

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17. Guinness World Records Dogs Create a Caption

guinness_world_records_2015Create a Caption for These Amazing Dogs!

Also amazing? The world record, at 6.56 seconds, for the fastest 10 meters (32 feet) walked on hind legs by a dog. It’s currently held by rising celebrity dog Jiff, who apparently has appeared in a Katy Perry music video. Jiff also holds the world record for fastest 5 meters (16 feet) walked on front legs by a dog, clocking in at 7.76 seconds.

Obviously, you guys need to see photos of these awesome dogs in action. What do you think Jiff and Norman would be saying in these photos?

Norman: “WHEEEEEEE!”

Dog Riding Skateboard

Kevin Scott Ramos/Guinness World Records

Jiff: “Seriously? I’m famous now. You couldn’t find me an outfit with more pizzazz? Also–someone fetch me a Diet Coke, stat!”

Dog on Hind Legs

Kevin Scott Ramos/Guinness World Records

We wanna hear what wacky, hilarious, clever, and interesting captions you’d give these talented pups. Share in the Comments below!

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

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18. 8 Strategies For Educators To Explain Lexile and Invest Stakeholders

What happens when there is a lack of or break down in communication between stakeholders about the tools used to assess children’s reading? One bookseller shared her experience when parents, booksellers, and students attempt to find the right book within a leveling framework.

In our previous post, “7 Strategies to Help Booksellers and Librarians Navigate Lexile,” we presented strategies for the book experts out in the field on strengthening the communication lines, sharing resources and context, and building a community invested in each child’s education. In doing so, we show our students, children, and customers that they have a whole team cheering for them and invested in their growth, joy, and success.

Pencil TalkNow for educators! Want a child to achieve a year and a half of reading progress and develop a life long passion for learning? The more adults you have involved in your students’ success, the better chances you have for meaningful growth and creating a love of reading.

Next week, we will offer strategies for parents.

For teachers and school staff who want to invest more stakeholders:

1. Don’t wait for summer break to provide reading lists. After each assessment cycle or parent-teacher conference period, provide parents with book ideas to help students get to the next level. Research or create booklists to hand parents at a parent-teacher conference. Except for the outliers, you can generally get away with making 3 lists (above-, on-, and below-grade level) of where students are reading.

2. Assume that no one knows your leveling system outside of school. Create a toolkit (that can be re-printed each year) for parents when they go to a library or bookstore. At parent-teacher conferences or Back-to-School Night, arm parents with 1) pre-made booklists (see above) 2) addresses and directions to the public library, bookstore, or community center you trust or have reached out to 3) a level conversion chart—If your leveling system doesn’t provide one, download one from Reading Rockets, Booksource, Scholastic Guided Reading Program, Lexile, or Lee & Low.

Ten Ways to Support Parents and Cultivate Student Success3. Hold information sessions at Back to School Night or other times in the year for parents. Explain what leveling system you are using to assess a child’s reading ability. Demonstrate how to find books at that child’s reading level when in a store, online, or at a library. “What does an such and such level book like? Below-level book? Above-level book? What should a child be able to do at such and such reading level?” With colleagues, consider another session for nearby bookstores or public librarians. All leveling systems have websites and FAQs sections addressing misconceptions and how-tos that you can show parents, librarians, or bookstore staff.

4. Find out where your students and families are going for books. My students borrowed books from the local community center or bought books at the nearby discount retail superstore. We built a community by reaching out to the children’s librarian and community center coordinator. Reaching out to these places helped me learn about my students outside of school and familiarize staff with our goals. Share any booklists and conversion charts. Libraries and bookstores will be thrilled to be a part of your community. As I said last week, students may move on, but you and book staff are in it for the long haul.

5. Extend the classroom to your local library or bookstore. When I learned where my students were looking for books (and what poor quality those offerings were at a discount store), I realized that many had not been to the neighborhood branch of the public library and did not know what the library had to offer.

  • Invite a librarian to class to talk to students about finding books when they are outside the classroom. Show students how to find books when they don’t know a book’s level (Hello, five finger rule!)
  • Post in class or send home the library or bookstore’s calendar of monthly events.
  • Encourage families to join you at a weekend storytelling event at the library or an evening author event at the bookstore (you might be able to persuade your school to count these events as parent community service hours).
  • Is your local library or bookstore on Pinterest, such as Oakland Public Library TeenZone? Check out your branch’s or favorite bookstore’s new releases and collections. Show families how to engage with the library or bookstore from a school computer or on a mobile phone.

6. Simulate the real world in your classroom. Many teachers organize their classroom libraries around their guided reading levels or assessment leveling system to make it easy for students to find the right book. Yet, students need experience interacting with books that aren’t leveled—as most books in bookstores and libraries won’t be. Consider organizing your classroom library by author, theme, genre, or series—or at least a shelf or bin—so students can practice figuring out the right fit book.

7. Remember: You will most likely have at least a few parents whose first language is NOT English. They will rely even more heavily on librarians and bookstore staff for help finding the right fit book for their child. The more you help librarians and local bookstores and the parents, the more you help the child.

8. Think about the message. Parents may hear that their child is at Lexile level 840 and try to help you and their child by only seeking out Lexile level 840 books. Coach parents to continue to expose students to a wide range of texts, topics, and levels. Parents may need a gentle reminder that we want our readers to develop their love of reading, along with skills and critical thinking. This may include children seeking out and re-reading favorites or comfort books that happen to be lower leveled or trying harder books that happen to be on their favorite subject.

Bruce Lee 1Next week, we will offer strategies for teachers and parents.

For further reading:

7 Strategies to Help Booksellers and Librarians Navigate Lexile

What have we missed? Please share in the comments your tricks, tips, and ideas for helping families and children navigate the bookshelves.

 

Jill_EisenbergJill Eisenberg, our Resident Literacy Specialist, began her career teaching English as a Foreign Language to second through sixth graders in Yilan, Taiwan as a Fulbright Fellow. She went on to become a literacy teacher for third grade in San Jose, CA as a Teach for America corps member. She is certified in Project Glad instruction to promote English language acquisition and academic achievement. In her column she offers teaching and literacy tips for educators. 


Filed under: Common Core State Standards, Educator Resources, ELL/ESL and Bilingual Books Tagged: Book Lists by Topic, booksellers, Bookstores, CCSS, children's books, close reading, Educators, ELA common core standards, independent bookstores, librarians, libraries, reading comprehension

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19. Paula Yoo on How to Publicize Your Children’s Book

Paula YooPaula Yoo is a children’s book writer, television writer, and freelance violinist living in Los Angeles. Her first book, Sixteen Years in Sixteen Seconds, won Lee & Low’s New Voices Award. Her new book, Guest bloggerTwenty-two Cents, was released this week. In this post, we asked her to share advice on publicizing your first book for those submitting to the New Voices Award and other new authors.

When I won the Lee & Low New Voices Award picture book writing contest in 2003, I thought I had hit the big time. This was my “big break.” My dream had come true! My submission, Sixteen Years in Sixteen Seconds: The Sammy Lee Story, about Olympic gold medalist Dr. Sammy Lee, would be published in 2005 and illustrated by Dom Lee.

BUT… winning the New Voices contest was just the start. I had to do several revisions of the manuscript based on insightful critiques from my editor Philip Lee. Because this was a biography, I had to do extra research and conduct many more follow-up interviews to make sure all the facts of my manuscript were accurate. And then after all the line edits and copy edits and proof reading checks and balances were completed, I had one more thing to do.

Publicity.

No problem, I thought. All I had to do was answer that huge questionnaire the Lee & Low publicity department sent me. Our publicists were amazing – they were already aggressively sending out press releases and getting me invited to a few national writing conferences for book panels and signings.

But I quickly discovered that a debut author must be willing to pound the pavement, too! So I hired freelance graphic designer friends to create bookmarks and fliers of my book and an official author website. I dropped these off at as many schools, libraries and bookstores I could visit on the weekends. I contacted these same places to see if they would be interested in hosting a signing or school presentation of my book which included fun show-and-tell visuals of how the book was made, a slide show and even a specially-edited CD of historical film footage about my book’s topic.

I contacted local book festivals to be considered for signings and book panels. I not only asked friends and teachers and librarians to spread the word but even people I thought might have a vested interest in the book because they were also professional athletes/coaches and Asian American activists. I always updated our amazing Lee & Low publicists so we both were on the same page. We were a team who supported each other.

NaPiBoWriWee logoI also kept up with the news. Any pop culture trend, breaking news or social issue that was a hot button topic related to my book was an opportunity to see if my book could be mentioned or if I could be interviewed as an “expert.” For example, I pitched my book during the Summer Olympics as a relevant topic.

For my second book, Shining Star: The Anna May Wong Story (illustrated by Lin Wang), published in 2009, I created NAPIBOWRIWEE – National Picture Book Writing Week on my website. It was a fun version of the famous National Novel Writing Month (“NaNoWriMo”) event that promoted writing a 50,000-word novel in one month. My NaPiBoWriWee encouraged writers to write 7 picture books in 7 days. I advertised my new SHINING STAR book as a contest giveaway drawing prize for those who successfully completed the event with me.

To my shock, this “out of the box” creative publicity idea not only worked… but it went VIRAL. Thousands of aspiring newbie writers AND published veteran authors all across the United States and in countries as far away as Egypt, Korea, France and Australia participated in my NaPiBoWriWee event. Talk about great publicity for my second book! As a result, my NaPiBoWriWee event has become an annual event for the past six years, where I have promoted all my new Lee & Low books! (For more information on NAPIBWORIWEE, please visit my website http://paulayoo.com).

And this is only the tip of the iceberg of what I did to promote my first book. Today, not only must debut authors “pound the pavement” for publicity, but they also must navigate the social media waters with blogs tours, breaking news Twitter feeds, Instagram and Tumblr visual posts, and so on. As I write this blog, I’m sure a brand new social media app is being invented that will become tomorrow’s Next Big Social Media Trend.

Twenty-two Cents coverIn the end, it was an honor and privilege to win this contest. I’m grateful for what it has done for my book career.

For my new book, Twenty-two Cents: Muhammad Yunus and the Village Bank (illustrated by Jamel Akib, 2014), I’ve already participated in several blog Q&A interviews with signed book giveaway contests from established children’s book writing websites. I’ve promoted the book on my website and on social media sites. And I’m also promoting the book in real life by participating in book festival panels, including the recent Los Angeles Times Festival of Books.

For new authors, I recommend pounding the pavement like I did. Think outside the box – are there current news/pop culture trends that relate to your book’s topic that you can exploit as a relevant connection? Can you come up with your own fun “viral” website contest like my NAPIBOWRIWEE? Make fast friends with your local librarians, schoolteachers and bookstore owners. Keep up with the latest and most influential kid lit bloggers and see if you can pitch your book as a future blog post on their site. And give yourself a budget – how much are you willing to spend out of your own pocket to promote your book? Find a number you’re comfortable with so you don’t end up shocked by that credit card bill!

Of course, these suggestions are just the beginning. Book publicity is a difficult, time-consuming job that requires much hard work and persistence and creative out-of-the-box problem solving. But trust me, it’s all worth it when you see a child pick your book from the shelf of a bookstore or library with a smile on his or her face.

New Voices Award sealThanks for joining us, Paula! The New Voices Award is given each year to an unpublished author of color for a picture book manuscript. Find more information on how to submit here. The deadline for submissions this year is September 30, 2014.

Further Reading:

Dealing with Rejection: Keeping Your Dream Going by debut author Thelma Lynne Godin

How to Find Time to Write When You Have 11 Children by New Voices Award winner Pamela M. Tuck

Submitting to Our New Voices Award: Tips from an Editor

New Voices Award FAQs

 


Filed under: Interviews with Authors and Illustrators, New Voices/New Visions Award, Publishing 101, Writer Resources Tagged: aspiring authors, marketing, NaPiBoWriWee, Paula Yoo, writing contest

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20. Ashley Gilbertson’s Bedrooms of the Fallen

Gilbertson_Bedrooms Yurchison, page 80.jpg.CROP.original-original (1)

Army Spc. Ryan Yurchison, 27, overdosed on drugs after struggling with PTSD, on May 22, 2010, in Youngstown, Ohio. He was from New Middletown, Ohio. His bedroom was photographed in September 2011.

(caption via Slate)

From Philip Gourevitch’s Introduction to Bedrooms of the Fallen by Ashley Gilbertson:

These wars really are ours—they implicate us—and when our military men and women die in far off lands, they do so in our name. [Gilbertson] wanted to depict what it means that they are gone. Photographs of the fallen, or of their coffins or their graves, don’t tell us that. But the places they came from and were supposed to go back to—the places they left empty—do tell us.

See more images from the book via an image gallery at Hyperallergic.

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21. Girl Meets World Interviews

Rowan Blanchard in Girl Meets WorldGirl Meets World Cast InterviewsIntroducing COREY FOGELMANIS & PEYTON MEYER!Girl Meets World

photo courtesy Disney Channel

Is there a book that you would recommend to a middle school kid?

Corey: Well, I really love Harry Potter

. Harry Potter is, like, literally my favorite.
Peyton: When I was in middle school, I read A Series of Unfortunate Events
. I loved those ones. I loved those, so I think that’s one of my favorite book series.

What advice would you give to a kid who is being bullied?
Corey:
 Tell someone right away.
Peyton: Yeah. Same. Don’t let it affect you, and go straight to an adult.

Who’s a dream co-star from any past Disney show that you guys would want to work with?Peyton: Selena Gomez.
Corey: Ok. I think I want to work with Demi Lovato. I love Demi Lovato.

Corey, do you think kids have the power to change what’s going on in the world?

Corey: Oh, I definitely think that kids can do that because kids are our future generations and if we start young, we get into the habit. Everybody has the power to change the environment, but I think it’s really important that kids start young so they can build that habit up and then teach their kids.

Do you have an unusual talent that would surprise people?

Corey: Well, it’s not really unusual but I do sing and I tap dance. I’ve been tapping for about three years. I can also do this. [moves his eyebrows up and down one at a time]

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22. Noggin: Review Haiku

Moves beyond its
tabloid premise (DEAD FROZEN HEAD!)
to find real meaning.

Noggin by John Corey Whaley. Atheneum, 2014, 352 pages.

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23. Poetry Friday: Puppy

It’s Friday everyone, and you know what that means! Poetry Friday! Today, we’ve chosen a poem from our new fall title, Lend a Hand: Poems About Givingto share with you:

Puppy

The puppy we’re raising

is the cutest I’ve ever seen

cuddly and playful,

with floppy ears

and a wagging tail

and a look on his face that says,

“Please hold me and love me.

I want to be yours forever,”

and before long

we’re going to give

him away.

He’ll be someone’s eyes

one day.

puppy poem

If you’re interested in working with puppies and training them to become guide dogs, you can check out a few of these great organizations:

Guide Dogs for the Blind (based on the West Coast)

The Seeing Eye (based on the East Coast)

OccuPaw Guide Dog Association (based in Wisconsin)


Filed under: Lee & Low Likes Tagged: guide dogs, lend a hand, poetry, poetry Friday, puppies, puppy, service dog

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24. A Credit to our Ancestors


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I am a history nerd. I get shivers of excitement standing in some historic place I’ve written about. Just knowing that I am really theregives me chills. I call those goose bump moments.

I went looking for those goose bumps when I was researching The White House is Burning: August 24, 1814. I wanted to be in those places in Washington I’d been reading and writing about. I was extremely fortunate to be given a private tour of the White House to see the still-visible scorch marks on old blocks of stone (mega goose bumps!). I tramped through the Congressional Cemetery to find the gravestones of Stephen Pleasanton, who’d carried the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution to safety, and of Mordecai Booth, who had been so horrified at his orders to burn the Navy Yard. I felt honored to be there.

But I have to say, mostly the magic of the place felt tantalizingly out of reach. I knew just where nine-year-old Michael Shiner must have been standing when he first spied enemy troops, and where I should find the building where British officers dined by the light of a burning White House. I could point to those places on my circa 1814 maps. Well just try exiting the Metro stop and finding those places now! Hard to find any magic when you’re just trying to get across the street.

And then I was invited to Brookeville, Maryland. The little town had played a small part in the story of the burning of Washington. It had given refuge to President James Madison as he fled the burning capital. Madison was later joined by Secretary of State James Monroe as well as the capital’s treasury and government papers. By noon the next day, the president’s party had left, but for one day the quiet Quaker village of Brookeville was the seat of a government-in-exile. 

That small role became part of the town’s identity. The house where the president stayed is now known as “the Madison House,” and a plaque marks the historic spot. A sign on the main street proclaims historic Brookeville the “United States Capital for a Day.”

Two hundred years later I was invited to Brookeville’s bicentennial US Capital for a Day celebration to sign copies of The White House is Burning. And I found magic. This was not some small celebration marking a small moment in history. The entire town was involved. Streets were closed down—all the streets. There were tours of the Madison House. Townspeople dressed in very authentic period costumes and reenacted the roles of their 1814 counterparts. Those who were descendants of 1814 residents—and there were many—proudly displayed their ancestor’s name on badges. This was a town that didn’t just know its history. It embraced it.


On the second day I was introduced to a very busy Katherine Farquhar, called the “mayor” of Brookeville. (She’s actually the president of the Town Commissioners.) I remarked that I had never seen so many people so enthusiastic about history, and I told her how impressed I was with the town and its US Capital for a Day celebration. 

“Well,” she answered, “it’s a labor of love and a credit to our ancestors.” She hurried away before I had finished my double take. “A credit to our ancestors.” Had she really said that?

It must have been ninety degrees in Brookeville, Maryland that day. And I had goose bumps.



Jane Sutcliffe is the author of The White House Is Burning

ISBN  978-1-58089-656-6
$19.95 Ages 9-12
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25. Aspiring Adults Adrift

9780226197289

In 2011, Richard Arum and Josipa Roksa’s Academically Adrift inscribed itself in post-secondary education wonking with all the subtlety of a wax crayon; the book made a splash in major newspapers, on television, via Twitter, on the pages of popular magazines, and of course, inside policy debates. The authors’ argument—drawn from complex data analysis, personal surveys, and a widespread standardized testing of more than 2300 undergraduates from 24 institutions—was simple: 45 percent of these students demonstrated no significant improvement in a range of skills (critical thinking, complex reasoning, and writing) during their first two years of study. Were the undergraduates learning once they hit college? The book’s answer was, at best, a shaky “maybe.”

Now, the authors are back with a sequel of sorts: Aspiring Adults Adrift, which follows these students through the rest of their undergraduate careers and out into the world. The findings this time around? Recent graduates struggle to obtain decent jobs, develop stable romantic relationships, and assume civic and financial responsibilities. Their transitions, like their educational experiences, are mired in much deeper and more systemic obstacles than a simple “failure to launch.”

The book debuted last week with four-part coverage at Inside Higher Ed. Since then, pundits and reviewers have started to weigh in; below are just a few of their profiles and accounts, which for an interested audience, help to situate the book’s findings.

***

Vox asked, “Why hasn’t the class of 2009 grown up?“:

The people Arum and Roksa interviewed sounded like my high school and college classmates. A business major who partied his way to a 3.9 GPA, then ended up working a delivery job he found on Craigslist, sounded familiar; so did a public health major who was living at home two years after graduation, planning to go to nursing school. Everyone in the class of 2009 knows someone with a story like that.

These graduates flailed after college because they didn’t learn much while they were in it, the authors argue. About a third of students in their study made virtually no improvement on a test of critical thinking and reasoning over four years of college. Aspiring Adults Adrift argues that this hurt them in the job market. Students with higher critical thinking scores were less likely to be unemployed, less likely to end up in unskilled jobs, and less likely to lose their jobs once they had them.

. . . . . Roksa and Arum aren’t really arguing for a more academically rigorous college education. They did that in their last book. They’re fighting the broader idea of emerging adulthood—that the first half of your 20s is a time to prolong adolescence and delay adult responsibilities.

A Time piece chimed in:

Parents, colleges, and the students themselves share the blame for this “failure to launch,” Arum says, but, he adds, “We think it is very important not to disparage a generation. These students have been taught and internalized misconceptions about what it takes to be successful.”

Frank Bruni cited and interviewed the authors for his piece, “Demanding More from College,” in the New York Times:

Arum and Roksa, in “Aspiring Adults Adrift,” do take note of upsetting patterns outside the classroom and independent of career preparation; they cite survey data that showed that more than 30 percent of college graduates read online or print newspapers only “monthly or never” and nearly 40 percent discuss public affairs only “monthly or never.”

Arum said that that’s “a much greater challenge to our society” than college graduates’ problems in the labor market. “If college graduates are no longer reading the newspaper, keeping up with the news, talking about politics and public affairs — how do you have a democratic society moving forward?” he asked me.

And finally, Richard Arum explained the book’s findings in an online interview with the WSJ.

To read more about Aspiring Adults Adrift, click here.

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