JacketFlap connects you to the work of more than 200,000 authors, illustrators, publishers and other creators of books for Children and Young Adults. The site is updated daily with information about every book, author, illustrator, and publisher in the children's / young adult book industry. Members include published authors and illustrators, librarians, agents, editors, publicists, booksellers, publishers and fans. Join now (it's free).
Login or Register for free to create your own customized page of blog posts from your favorite blogs. You can also add blogs by clicking the "Add to MyJacketFlap" links next to the blog name in each post.
Viewing: Blog Posts from the Publisher category, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 1 - 25 of 27,095
How to use this Page
You are viewing the most recent posts from blogs in the Publisher category in the JacketFlap blog reader. These posts are sorted by date, with the most recent posts at the top of the page. There are hundreds of new posts here every day on a variety of topics related to children's publishing. Scroll down through the list of Recent Posts in the left column and click on a post title that sounds interesting. Click a tag in the right column to view posts about that topic. You can view all posts from a specific blog by clicking the Blog name in the right column, or you can click a 'More Posts from this Blog' link in any individual post.
Sitting in our research tower at the water hole, I sipped my tea and enjoyed the late morning view. A couple of lappet-faced vultures climbed a nearby thermal in the white sky. A small dust devil of sand, dry brush, and elephant dung whirled around the pan, scattering a flock of guinea fowl in its path. It appeared to be just another day for all the denizens of Mushara water hole—except the elephants. For them, a storm of epic proportions was brewing.
It was the beginning of the 2005 season at my field site in Etosha National Park, Namibia—just after the rainy period, when more elephants would be coming to Mushara in search of water—and I was focused on sorting out the dynamics of the resident male elephant society. I was determined to see if male elephants operated under different rules here than in other environments and how this male society compared to other male societies in general. Among the many questions I wanted to answer was how ranking was determined and maintained and for how long the dominant bull could hold his position at the top of the hierarchy.
While observing eight members of the local boys’ club arrive for a drink, I immediately noticed that something was amiss—these bulls weren’t quite up to their usual friendly antics. There was an undeniable edge to the mood of the group.
The two youngest bulls, Osh and Vincent Van Gogh, kept shifting their weight back and forth from shoulder to shoulder, seemingly looking for reassurance from their mid- and high-ranking elders. Occasionally, one or the other held its trunk tentatively outward—as if to gain comfort from a ritualized trunk-to-mouth greeting.
The elders completely ignored these gestures, offering none of the usual reassurances such as a trunk-to-mouth in return or an ear over a youngster’s head or rear. Instead, everyone kept an eye on Greg, the most dominant member of the group. And for whatever reason, Greg was in a foul temper. He moved as if ants were crawling under his skin.
Like many other animals, elephants form a strict hierarchy to reduce conflict over scarce resources, such as water, food, and mates. In this desert environment, it made sense that these bulls would form a pecking order to reduce the amount of conflict surrounding access to water, particularly the cleanest water.
At Mushara water hole, the best water comes up from the outflow of an artesian well, which is funneled into a cement trough at a particular point. As clean water is more palatable to the elephant and as access to the best drinking spot is driven by dominance, scoring of rank in most cases is made fairly simple—based on the number of times one bull wins a contest with another by usurping his position at the water hole, by forcing him to move to a less desirable position in terms of water quality, or by changing trajectory away from better-quality water through physical contact or visual cues.
Cynthia Moss and her colleagues had figured out a great deal about dominance in matriarchal family groups by. Their long-term studies in Amboseli National Park showed that the top position in the family was passed on to the next oldest and wisest female, rather than to the offspring of the most dominant individual. Females formed extended social networks, with the strongest bonds being found within the family group. Then the network branched out into bond groups, and beyond that into associated groups called clans. Branches of these networks were fluid in nature, with some group members coming together and others spreading out to join more distantly related groups in what had been termed a fission-fusion society.
Not as much research had been done on the social lives males, outside the work by Joyce Poole and her colleagues in the context of musth and one-on-one contests. I wanted to understand how male relationships were structured after leaving their maternal family groups as teens, when much of their adult lives was spent away from their female family. In my previous field seasons at Mushara, I’d noticed that male elephants formed much larger and more consistent groups than had been reported elsewhere and that, in dry years, lone bulls were not as common here than were recorded in other research sites.
Bulls of all ages were remarkably affiliative—or friendly—within associated groups at Mushara. This was particularly true of adolescent bulls, which were always touching each other and often maintained body contact for long periods. And it was common to see a gathering of elephant bulls arrive together in one long dusty line of gray boulders that rose from the tree line and slowly morphed into elephants. Most often, they’d leave in a similar manner—just as the family groups of females did.
The dominant bull, Greg, most often at the head of the line, is distinguishable by the two square-shaped notches out of the lower portion of his left ear. But there is something deeper that differentiates him, something that exhibits his character and makes him visible from a long way off. This guy has the confidence of royalty—the way he holds his head, his casual swagger: he is made of kingly stuff. And it is clear that the others acknowledge his royal rank as his position is reinforced every time he struts up to the water hole to drink.
Without fail, when Greg approaches, the other bulls slowly back away, allowing him access to the best, purest water at the head of the trough—the score having been settled at some earlier period, as this deference is triggered without challenge or contest almost every time. The head of the trough is equivalent to the end of the table and is clearly reserved for the top-ranking elephant—the one I can’t help but refer to as the don since his subordinates line up to place their trunks in his mouth as if kissing a Mafioso don’s ring.
As I watched Greg settle in to drink, each bull approached in turn with trunk outstretched, quivering in trepidation, dipping the tip into Greg’s mouth. It was clearly an act of great intent, a symbolic gesture of respect for the highest-ranking male. After performing the ritual, the lesser bulls seemed to relax their shoulder as they shifted to a lower-ranking position within the elephantine equivalent of a social club. Each bull paid their respects and then retreated. It was an event that never failed to impress me—one of those reminders in life that maybe humans are not as special in our social complexity as we sometimes like to think—or at least that other animals may be equally complex. This male culture was steeped in ritual.
Greg takes on Kevin. Both bulls face each other squarely, with ears held out. Greg’s ear cutout pattern in the left ear make him very recognizable
But today, no amount of ritual would placate the don. Greg was clearly agitated. He was shifting his weight from one front foot to the other in jerky movements and spinning his head around to watch his back, as if someone had tapped him on the shoulder in a bar, trying to pick a fight.
The midranking bulls were in a state of upheaval in the presence of their pissed-off don. Each seemed to be demonstrating good relations with key higher-ranking individuals through body contact. Osh leaned against Torn Trunk on his one side, and Dave leaned in from the other, placing his trunk in Torn Trunk’s mouth. The most sought-after connection was with Greg himself, of course, who normally allowed lower-ranking individuals like Tim to drink at the dominant position with him.
Greg, however, was in no mood for the brotherly “back slapping” that ordinarily took place. Tim, as a result, didn’t display the confidence that he generally had in Greg’s presence. He stood cowering at the lowest-ranking position at the trough, sucking his trunk, as if uncertain of how to negotiate his place in the hierarchy without the protection of the don.
Finally, the explanation for all of the chaos strode in on four legs. It was Kevin, the third-ranking bull. His wide-splayed tusks, perfect ears, and bald tail made him easy to identify. And he exhibited the telltale sign of musth, as urine was dribbling from his penis sheath. With shoulders high and head up, he was ready to take Greg on.
A bull entering the hormonal state of musth was supposed to experience a kind of “Popeye effect” that trumped established dominance patterns—even the alpha male wouldn’t risk challenging a bull elephant with the testosterone equivalent of a can of spinach on board. In fact, there are reports of musth bulls having on the order of twenty times the normal amount of testosterone circulating in their blood. That’s a lot of spinach.
Musth manifests itself in a suite of exaggerated aggressive displays, including curling the trunk across the brow with ears waving—presumably to facilitate the wafting of a musthy secretion from glands in the temporal region—all the while dribbling urine. The message is the elephant equivalent of “don’t even think about messing with me ’cause I’m so crazy-mad that I’ll tear your frickin’ head off”—a kind of Dennis Hopper approach to negotiating space.
Musth—a Hindi word derived from the Persian and Urdu word “mast,” meaning intoxicated—was first noted in the Asian elephant. In Sufi philosophy, a mast (pronounced “must”) was someone so overcome with love for God that in their ecstasy they appeared to be disoriented. The testosterone-heightened state of musth is similar to the phenomenon of rutting in antelopes, in which all adult males compete for access to females under the influence of a similar surge of testosterone that lasts throughout a discrete season. During the rutting season, roaring red deer and bugling elk, for example, aggressively fight off other males in rut and do their best to corral and defend their harems in order to mate with as many does as possible.
The curious thing about elephants, however, is that only a few bulls go into musth at any one time throughout the year. This means that there is no discrete season when all bulls are simultaneously vying for mates. The prevailing theory is that this staggering of bulls entering musth allows lower-ranking males to gain a temporary competitive advantage over others of higher rank by becoming so acutely agitated that dominant bulls wouldn’t want to contend with such a challenge, even in the presence of an estrus female who is ready to mate. This serves to spread the wealth in terms of gene pool variation, in that the dominant bull won’t then be the only father in the region.
Given what was known about musth, I fully expected Greg to get the daylights beaten out of him. Everything I had read suggested that when a top-ranking bull went up against a rival that was in musth, the rival would win.
What makes the stakes especially high for elephant bulls is the fact that estrus is so infrequent among elephant cows. Since gestation lasts twenty-two months, and calves are only weaned after two years, estrus cycles are spaced at least four and as many as six years apart. Because of this unusually long interval, relatively few female elephants are ovulating in any one season. The competition for access to cows is stiffer than in most other mammalian societies, where almost all mature females would be available to mate in any one year. To complicate matters, sexually mature bulls don’t live within matriarchal family groups and elephants range widely in search of water and forage, sofinding an estrus female is that much more of a challenge for a bull.
Long-term studies in Amboseli indicated that the more dominant bulls still had an advantage, in that they tended to come into musth when more females were likely to be in estrus. Moreover, these bulls were able to maintain their musth period for a longer time than the younger, less dominant bulls. Although estrus was not supposed to be synchronous in females, more females tended to come into estrus at the end of the wet season, with babies appearing toward the middle of the wet season, twenty-two months later. So being in musth in this prime period was clearly an advantage.
Even if Greg enjoyed the luxury of being in musth during the peak of estrus females, this was not his season. According to the prevailing theory, and in this situation, Greg would back down to Kevin.
As Kevin sauntered up to the water hole, the rest of the bulls backed away like a crowd avoiding a street fight. Except for Greg. Not only did Greg not back down, he marched clear around the pan with his head held to its fullest height, back arched, heading straight for Kevin. Even more surprising, when Kevin saw Greg approach him with this aggressive posture, he immediately started to back up.
Backing up is rarely a graceful procedure for any animal, and I had certainly never seen an elephant back up so sure-footedly. But there was Kevin, keeping his same even and wide gait, only in the reverse direction—like a four-legged Michael Jackson doing the moon walk. He walked backward with such purpose and poise that I couldn’t help but feel that I was watching a videotape playing in reverse—that Nordic-track style gait, fluidly moving in the opposite direction, first the legs on the one side, then on the other, always hind foot first.
Greg stepped up his game a notch as Kevin readied himself in his now fifty-yard retreat, squaring off to face his assailant head on. Greg puffed up like a bruiser and picked up his pace, kicking dust in all directions. Just before reaching Kevin, Greg lifted his head even higher and made a full frontal attack, lunging at the offending beast, thrusting his head forward, ready to come to blows.
In another instant, two mighty heads collided in a dusty clash. Tusks met in an explosive crack, with trunks tucked under bellies to stay clear of the collisions. Greg’s ears were pinched in the horizontal position—an extremely aggressive posture. And using the full weight of his body, he raised his head again and slammed at Kevin with his broken tusks. Dust flew as the musth bull now went in full backward retreat.
Amazingly, this third-ranking bull, doped up with the elephant equivalent of PCP, was getting his hide kicked. That wasn’t supposed to happen.
At first, it looked as if it would be over without much of a fight. Then, Kevin made his move and went from retreat to confrontation and approached Greg, holding his head high. With heads now aligned and only inches apart, the two bulls locked eyes and squared up again, muscles tense. It was like watching two cowboys face off in a western.
There were a lot of false starts, mock charges from inches away, and all manner of insults cast through stiff trunks and arched backs. For a while, these two seemed equally matched, and the fight turned into a stalemate.
But after holding his own for half an hour, Kevin’s strength, or confidence, visibly waned—a change that did not go unnoticed by Greg, who took full advantage of the situation. Aggressively dragging his trunk on the ground as he stomped forward, Greg continued to threaten Kevin with body language until finally the lesser bull was able to put a man-made structure between them, a cement bunker that we used for ground-level observations. Now, the two cowboys seemed more like sumo wrestlers, feet stamping in a sideways dance, thrusting their jaws out at each other in threat.
The two bulls faced each other over the cement bunker and postured back and forth, Greg tossing his trunk across the three-meter divide in frustration, until he was at last able to break the standoff, getting Kevin out in the open again. Without the obstacle between them, Kevin couldn’t turn sideways to retreat, as that would have left his body vulnerable to Greg’s formidable tusks. He eventually walked backward until he was driven out of the clearing, defeated.
In less than an hour, Greg, the dominant bull displaced a high-ranking bull in musth. Kevin’s hormonal state not only failed to intimidate Greg but in fact just the opposite occurred: Kevin’s state appeared to fuel Greg into a fit of violence. Greg would not tolerate a usurpation of his power.
Did Greg have a superpower that somehow trumped musth? Or could he only achieve this feat as the most dominant individual within his bonded band of brothers? Perhaps paying respects to the don was a little more expensive than a kiss of the ring.
Catching the Moon was selected by the Screen Actors Guild Foundation for its latest read aloud on Storyline Online, an interactive literacy website where well-known actors read popular, award-winning children’s books to help students fall in love with reading.
Comprehension Questions for the Video or Read Aloud
Describe what Marcenia loves about baseball.
How does Marcenia feel about the way others treat her as a ball player? How do you know?
What does Marcenia do that ultimately changes her father and Mr. Street’s mind about her playing baseball and attending the camp? How will this experience help her when she is an adult trying to play on a men’s professional team?
At what point in Toni Stone’s life does the author, Crystal Hubbard, choose to begin? Why do you think she chooses to start there and not when Toni Stone is an adult playing as a professional ball player? What message does author Crystal Hubbard want young readers to learn from this story? Why?
1. Have students compare and contrast Catching the Moon with other baseball biographies. How are their experiences similar? What barriers do they tackle? What character traits do they share that have allowed them to overcome obstacles? What legacies do they leave behind? How do they change people’s minds?
2. Have students research Mo’ne Davis, 13-year-old Philadelphia pitcher in the Little League and compare her experiences in baseball to Marcenia Lyle’s. The Anti-Defamation League’s Current Events Classroom has put together a lesson plan to learn more about Mo’ne Davis and explore gender stereotypes in sports.
3. Science in Baseball? Check out these extension ideas from Science Buddies:
4. Have students discover other women who played and were involved in black professional baseball. Check out the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum’s education resources made in partnership with Kansas State University. Students can learn about the roles African American women played at all levels of the league in the NLBM’s lesson plan.
5. Put Marcenia Lyle’s story in further context. With students, create a timeline of critical moments and milestones of women in American baseball. The National Baseball Hall of Fame has created a five lesson unit on women in baseball history.
If Youtube is blocked or unavailable at your school, find Storyline Online’s Catching the Moon read aloud video at:
How have you been teaching and celebrating Catching the Moon all these years? What lessons and activities did we miss? Share with us!
Jill Eisenberg, our Senior Literacy Expert, began her career teaching English as a Foreign Language to second through sixth graders in Yilan, Taiwan as a Fulbright Fellow. She went on to become a literacy teacher for third grade in San Jose, CA as a Teach for America corps member. She is certified in Project Glad instruction to promote English language acquisition and academic achievement. In her weekly column at The Open Book, she offers teaching and literacy tips for educators.
In Freaky Friday, the mother and daughter switch places for a day, and the mother has to go to school and be the kid, and the kid has to handle all the mom duties by herself. Well, imagine what it would be like to switch places for a day with a famous person! Would you want to feel what it was like to be Tom Brady passing a game-winning touchdown? Or Ariana Grande performing in front of a sold-out crowd? Or the President of the United States making important decisions in the Oval Office?
For today’s Writing Prompt, we want to know . . .
If you could trade lives with a famous person for one day, who would it be?
If you would rather switch with a book character, that is ok too. Hermione Granger may be a made-up person, but she is still totally famous! Leave your answers in the Comments below.
Donald L. Levine (1931–2013), the Peter B. Ritzma Professor Emeritus of Sociology at the University of Chicago (where he served as dean of the College from 1982 to 1987), passed away earlier this month at the age of 83, following a long illness.
Among his significant contributions to the field of sociology were five volumes (The Flight from Ambiguity, Greater Ethiopia, Powers of the Mind, Wax and Gold, and Visions of the Sociological Tradition), an edited collection (Georg Simmel on Individuality and Social Forms), and a translation (Simmel’s The View of Life), all published by the University of Chicago Press.
Over his long career, Levine published several works that are now considered landmarks of sociology. His “masterpiece,” according to former student Charles Camic, was Visions of the Sociological Tradition, published by the University of Chicago Press in 1995.
In that book, Levine traced the intellectual genealogy of the social sciences and argued that different traditions of social thought could productively inform one another. “It’s a brilliant analysis of theories and intellectual traditions, but also a very thoughtful effort to bring them into intellectual dialogue with one another,” said Camic, PhD’79, now a professor of sociology at Northwestern University. “The beauty with which it’s argued and the depth of his knowledge about these different intellectual traditions are astounding.”
Levine was also influential in promoting the work of German sociologist Georg Simmel and translated several of Simmel’s works into English. “He brought Simmel to awareness in the U.S.,” said Douglas Mitchell, a longtime editor at the University of Chicago Press, who worked with Levine throughout his career.
Executive editor T. David Brent noted, “I thought that if immortality were a possibility it would be conferred upon Don.”
It’s Game Time: Bella and the Bulldogs Would You Rather!
Based on overwhelming responses to our recent interview with Brec Bassinger, we know her new Nickelodeon show Bella and the Bulldogsscored a touchdown with you guys! She’s the bubbly cheerleader who suddenly finds herself fulfilling her dream of becoming the quarterback of the school football team! If you’re a fan, check out our Bella and the Bulldogs Would You Rather.
Would You Rather . . .
Be the star quarterback OR the head cheerleader?
Go to an NFL game OR an NBA game?
Go shopping at Justice OR Sports Authority?
Live on a ranch in Texas OR a mansion in California?
Get a sports scholarship to college OR an academic scholarship?
Lift weights OR learn a dance routine?
Have to sleep in a football helmet OR a ski mask?
Have to take a math test OR play fantasy football?
Wear a dress to a formal dance OR a tuxedo?
Be the only boy/girl on a team OR be on an all same-sex team (all-girls or all-boys)?
Let us know your answers in the Comments below, and tell us what YOUR call is on Bella and the Bulldogs!
Each year, the University of Chicago Press, awards the Gordon J. Laing Prize to “the faculty author, editor or translator of a book published in the previous three years that brings the Press the greatest distinction.” Originated in 1963, the Prize was named after a former general editor of the Press, whose commitment to extraordinary scholarship helped establish UCP as one of the country’s premier university presses. Conferred by a vote from the Board of University Publications and celebrated earlier this week, the 2015 Laing Prize was awarded to Mauricio Tenorio-Trillo, professor of history at the University of Chicago, and associate professor at the Centro de Investigación y Docencia Económicas, Mexico City, for his book I Speak the City: Mexico City at the Turn of the Twentieth Century.
University of Chicago President Robert J. Zimmer’s presented the award at a ceremony earlier this week. From the Press’s official citation:
From art to city planning, from epidemiology to poetry, I Speak of the City challenges the conventional wisdom about Mexico City, investigating the city and the turn-of-the-century world to which it belonged. By engaging with the rise of modernism and the cultural experiences of such personalities as Hart Crane, Mina Loy and Diego Rivera, I Speak of the City will find an enthusiastic audience across the disciplines.
His colleague, Prof. Emilio Kouri, told him to try the University of Chicago Press. “He said they do not normally publish Latin American history, but they publish what you do: history and thinking,” said Tenorio-Trillo. And so the manuscript was sent to Press Executive Editor Douglas Mitchell to review.
“My books in Spanish sometimes are catalogued as history, sometimes as essays, closer to literature. I was truly surprised to learn of this very prestigious prize. I do not know if my work has finally reached the maturity to deserve such a prize or if I have luckily arrived to the intellectual milieu where the idiosyncratic nature of my work is considered a true intellectual contribution. With or without prizes, it’s been a privilege to work here and to collaborate with the University of Chicago Press,” he added.
In addition to the Laing Prize, I Speak of the City was awarded the Spiro Kostof Book Award from the Society of Architectural Historians and the Bolton-Johnson Prize Honorable Mention Award from the American Historical Association.
Ira’s Shakespeare Dream, written by Glenda Armand and illustrated by Floyd Cooper, follows the life of Ira Aldridge, who was known as one of the greatest Shakespearean actors of the 19th century.
As a young boy in 19th century New York City, Ira Aldridge greatly admired the works of Shakespeare. He wanted nothing more than to act in Shakespeare’s plays against his father’s wishes.
Ira later set sale for England, where he ran small errands for theaters. He was also hired as an understudy. Ira got his big break acting when a fellow could not perform. However, he was not well received. He had little training and critics felt that he should not take roles from white actors.
Through his determination and perseverance, Ira Aldridge went on to become one of the most well known Shakespearean actors of his time, especially for his role as Othello. Ira Aldridge’s name is inscribed on a bronze plaque in the Shakespeare Memorial Theatre, in Stratford-on-Avon, Shakespeare’s birthplace. He is the only African American among the thirty-three actors to have achieved this recognition.
Alix Reid, the new editorial director of Carolrhoda Books and Carolrhoda Lab, is back on the blog to answer more questions, this time talking about her favorite books, hobbies, and what she'd be if she wasn't an editor. (In case you missed it, you can find the first round of Q&A here.)
1. What were your favorite books as a kid? What are some favorite books you’ve read recently?
I was (and still am) an avid re-reader and some of the books that I read over and over again as a kid included Andrew Lang’s Fairy Books, A Wrinkle in Time by Madeliene L’Engle, The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare, Homecoming by Cynthia Voight, and The Wolves of Willoughby Chase by Joan Aitken. And, of course, the Anne of Green Gables and Little House books.
I have so many recent favorites! Bone Gap by Laura Ruby, Clariel by Garth Nix, The Ask and the Answer by Patrick Ness (I came late to this amazing series), The Kingdom of Little Wounds by Susann Cokal, and Ricky Yancy’s Monstrumologist series. My favorite adult book right now is Kate Atkinson’s Life After Life. As I’ve grown older, as might be clear from this list, I’ve been gravitating toward science fiction and fantasy.
2. Say you’re trapped on a desert island—what 5 books would you want with you?
I’ve never read The Inferno, though I’ve started it about fifteen times, so this would be a great opportunity to finally settle down with it. Jane Eyre would definitely be on my list; I read it about once a year. Maybe the Complete Oxford English Dictionary; that probably sounds pretentious, but in graduate school I studied Anglo-Saxon and Italian, as well as Chaucer, and I love seeing how languages evolve over time and cross over into each other. I think I’d have to put Cynthia Voight’s Homecoming on the list, because it is one of the most beautiful and satisfying books of all time. For my last book, I might pick The Dark Tower series by Stephen King, but I’m not entirely sure about that.
3. Tell us about Chicago. What draws you to the city?
I never thought I’d leave Manhattan, where I grew up, but when my husband got a job in Chicago he couldn’t turn down, and we were in the process of adopting our wonderful daughter, it was an opportunity we had to take. I love the friendliness of the city—strangers actually say hello to each other, which took some getting used to. The lake is beautiful, and the sculptures and architecture are breathtaking. Although we live in Oak Park now (home to Frank Lloyd Wright’s studio and replete with original Wright houses), we love going into the city to visit the museums and try out the many new restaurants.
4. If you weren’t an editor, you’d be a…
When I went to graduate school, I was planning to become a professor of English literature. I did teach some graduate level courses in creative writing and the history of publishing, but found I really didn’t enjoy the experience as much as I’d expected. However, I’ve been working one-on-one with second graders in my daughter’s class, helping them write stories and edit them, so I could see tutoring children as an alternative career. But I love being an editor, so it’s hard to imagine doing anything else!
5. Speaking of things other than editing, what are your hobbies?
Spending time with my daughter and husband, of course. I also have a big, energetic golden retriever who loves long walks. I enjoy knitting scarves, although I’m running out of people to give them to, and I’ve recently started doing barre classes. And I like to obsess about the Game of Thrones TV series.
Did you know that the first Earth Day was on April 20, 1970?
Started by Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson and his small staff, the first Earth Day saw 20 million participants and has grown every year. Initially started as a day to teach the public about the condition of our environment, today this environmental movement is credited with starting the EPA, Clean Air Act, Endangered Species Act and Water Quality Improvement Act.
Forty-five years later our environmental awareness has improved and people of all ages celebrate Earth Day. Find events near you and celebration ideas on EarthDay.org!
At Arbordale, we are also passionate about the fate of the planet and our way of helping the environmental movement is to educate young children about the world around us and those living in it. Many of our books feature endangered animals or vulnerable environmental elements. In celebration of Earth Day here are three books to get a conversation started with your little ones about the environment!
Nature Recycles: How About You? By Michele Lord, illustrated by Cathy Morrison From sea urchins in the Atlantic Ocean to bandicoots on the Australian savanna, animals all over the world recycle. Explore how different animals in different habitats use recycled material to build homes, protect themselves and get food. This fascinating collection of animal facts will teach readers about the importance of recycling and inspire them to take part in protecting and conserving the environment by recycling in their own way.
The Glaciers are Melting! By Donna Love, illustrated by Shennen Bersani Chicken Little may have thought the sky was falling but Peter Pika is sure the glaciers are melting and is off to talk to the Mountain Monarch about it. Joined along the way by friends Tammy Ptarmigan, Sally Squirrel, Mandy Marmot, and Harry Hare, they all wonder what will happen to them if the glaciers melt. Where will they live, how will they survive? When Wiley Wolverine tries to trick them, can the Mountain Monarch save them? More importantly, can the Mountain Monarch stop the glaciers from melting?
Felina’s New Home: A Florida Panther Story
by Loran Wlodarski illustrated by Lew Clayton Felina the Florida panther loved growing up in her forest home, until the forest starts to shrink! Trees begin to disappear, and Felina doesn’t understand the new busy highway in the neighborhood. Other animals are in danger, too. Will Felina find a way to survive as humans threaten to ruin her home? Environmental science writer Loran Wlodarski gives children a look into deforestation and endangered animals in Felina’s New Home: A Florida Panther Story, complemented by the detailed, emotive illustrations of Lew Clayton. Learn whether the animals in Felina’s forest adapt to the new human presence and what children can do to keep wild animals safe, happy, and healthy.
“You are the future generation. You are the ones who are going to have to deal with this mess that everybody else behind us has gotten us into!” says ten-year-old Grace in HBO’s family documentary Saving My Tomorrow, airing tonight at 7:30 p.m.
This latest installment in the Saving My Tomorrow series showcases the ways kids are doing their part to clean up the environment. Focusing on plastic pollution and deforestation, the special includes stories about the Amazon rainforest and the albatross, and follows young activists around the world as they clean up beaches, plant trees, and demonstrate at City Hall. The creators of the show also made a whole list of Monthly Eco-Tips so you can celebrate Earth Day every month during the year. Earth Day is every day! Here is the tip for April.
APRIL • Cleanup days. Participate in cleanup days at a local beach or park or river, helping pick up litter before it harms wildlife. You will become better connected with the ecosystems in your community too.
What will you do to celebrate Earth day? Will you plan a cleanup in your community? Will you watch the HBO special Saving My Tomorrow? Tell us in the Comments.
Hearty congratulations to Alan Shapiro, whose collection of poems Reel to Reel was recently shortlisted for the 2015 Pulitzer Prize in poetry. Shapiro, who teaches at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, has published twelve volumes of poetry, and has previously been nominated for both the National Book Award and the Griffin Prize. The Pulitzer Prize citation commended Reel to Reel‘s “finely crafted poems with a composure that cannot conceal the troubled terrain they traverse.” The book, written with Shapiro’s recognizably graceful, abstracting, and subtle minimalism, was one of two finalists, along with Arthur Sze’s Compass Rose; Gregory Pardlo’s Digest won the award.
From the jacket copy for Reel to Reel:
Reel to Reel, Alan Shapiro’s twelfth collection of poetry, moves outward from the intimate spaces of family and romantic life to embrace not only the human realm of politics and culture but also the natural world, and even the outer spaces of the cosmos itself. In language richly nuanced yet accessible, these poems inhabit and explore fundamental questions of existence, such as time, mortality, consciousness, and matter. How did we get here? Why is there something rather than nothing? How do we live fully and lovingly as conscious creatures in an unconscious universe with no ultimate purpose or destination beyond returning to the abyss that spawned us? Shapiro brings his humor, imaginative intensity, characteristic syntactical energy, and generous heart to bear on these ultimate mysteries. In ways few poets have done, he writes from a premodern, primal sense of wonder about our postmodern world.
“Family Bed,” on the book’s poems:
My sister first and then my brother woke
Inside the house they dreamed, and so the dream
House, which, in my dream, was the house in which
I found them now, was vanishing as they woke,
Was swallowing itself the way the picture did
Inside the switched off television screen.
It was the nightmare picture of them sleeping
As if alive beside me in the last
Room left to us, the nightmare of the picture
Suddenly collapsing on the screen
Into the tick and crackle of the shriveling
Abyss they were being sucked away into
By having wakened, while I, alone now,
Clung to the screen of sleeping in the not
Yet undreamt bedroom they no longer dreamed.
To read more about Reel to Reel, or to view more of the author’s books published by the University of Chicago Press, click here.
We already know that cats are literary geniuses. While people consider dogs to be “human’s best friend,” did you know that they’re also great writers? I had no idea how many famous books were written by dogs until I found this stash of books hidden out in the dog house . . . buried under a few of my dog’s favorite chew toys.
Can you identify these famous literary masterpieces written by dogs?
Hairy Pawter and the Sorcerer’s Bone by J.K. Rawhide
The Woof According to Humphrey by Betty G. Bark-ney
Diary of a Wimpy Dog: Doggy Days by Jeff Kennel
Dear Dalmatian Diary by Jim Bone-ton
I Survived Hurricane CAT-trina by Lauren Terrier
Leave your answers in the Comments below, and let us know what books you would find in your dog library!
-Ratha, STACKS Writer
“The Librarian” Flickr photo by aussiegall adapted with permission “Dog Looks Like Harry Potter” Flickr photo by Pets Advisor adapted with permission
Earth Day, April 22nd is right around the corner, and we at Lee & Low are some pretty big fans of this blue planet we live on. So, whether you choose to plant a tree or pledge to better uphold the 3 R’s -reduce, reuse, recycle- we are celebrating and promoting awareness the best way we know how- with books!
Here are 5 environmentally friendly collections to bring nature indoors & encourage “thinking green”:
Save the Planet: Environmental Action Earth Day Collection: Be inspired to be an advocate for planet Earth through the true stories of threatened ecosystems, environmental recovery efforts and restorations plans, and heroic actions. Like the individuals and communities explored in these stories, children everywhere will realize the difference they can make in protecting our planet and preserving its natural resources.
Earth Day Poetry Collection: Through rhythm and verse, float down the cool river, reach as high as the tallest tree, and search for all of the vibrant colors of the rainbow in the natural world. This collection of poetry books are inspired by the joy and wonder of being outdoors and brings the sight and sounds of nature and all of its wildlife to life.
Seasonal Poems Earth Day Collection: Travel through winter, spring, summer, & fall through a series of bilingual seasonal poems by renowned poet and educator, Francisco Alarcón. Learn about family, community, and caring for each other and the natural environment we live in.
Adventures Around the World Collection: Explore Africa while traversing Botswana’s lush grasslands and Uganda’s Impenetrable Forest, celebrate the deep-seeded respect for wildlife in India, Mongolia and on an island off the coast of Iceland, and journey to Australia to explore animals found nowhere else on Earth.
Vanishing Cultures Collection: The 7-book series introduces readers to the Yanomama of the Amazon Basin, Aborigines of Australia, Sami of the European Arctic, Inuit of the North American Arctic, Tibetans and Sherpas from the Himalaya, Mongolians of Asia, and Tuareg of the Sahara.
Lesson Plans & Ideas:
What fun is Earth Day if you don’t get your hands a little dirty? Bring some of the outdoors into your classroom-or vice versa- by engaging students in various hands-on and project-based Earth Day lessons and activities:
Veronicahas a degree from Mount Saint Mary College and joined LEE & LOW in the fall of 2014. She has a background in education and holds a New York State childhood education (1-6) and students with disabilities (1-6) certification. When she’s not wandering around New York City, you can find her hiking with her dog Milo in her hometown in the Hudson Valley, NY.
Last month we announced the six finalists for our 2015 New Visions Award. The Award recognizes a middle grade or young adult novel in the sci-fi, fantasy, or mystery genres by an unpublished author of color (our first New Visions Award winner, Ink and Ashes, will be released this June!).
As our award committee gets to know the finalists through their novels, we wanted to give our blog readers a chance to get to know these talented writers as well. We asked each finalist some questions. In previous posts, we interviewed finalists Grace Rowe and Andrea Wang, and finalists Shilpa Kamat and Rishonda Anthony.
Below authors Yamile Saied Méndez and Axie Oh answser:
Yamile Saied Méndez, “On These Magic Shores”
Tell us a little about the main character in your novel.
My main character is twelve-year old Minerva Soledad Madrid and she can’t wait to grow up. The oldest of three girls, she’s a Latina who speaks Spanish and who’s proud of her cultural heritage. Her parents are of Argentine descent, and her mom (who’s raising the girls by herself) teaches the girls the Argentine traditions she grew up with. She sings the lullabies of her childhood, and most importantly, she passes on her belief in the Peques (short for Pequeñitos, the Little Ones), the Argentine fairies, who follow their families as they move around the world. Because the family doesn’t have a support system, Minerva had to step up and be a second mother for her sisters while their mother works two jobs to make ends meet. Minerva wants to be the first Latina president of the United States. She’s determined and focused. She doesn’t believe in magic, but she wants to, oh how she wants to believe the fairies take care of her and her sisters while their mom is away! In the story, Minerva learns how to be a child again (kind of like a reverse Peter Pan) because magic is really all around us!
What advice would you give your younger self about writing?
If I could send my younger self a message, it would be: follow you heart, write what you want to write, and trust your voice. I wrote my first story in the first grade, and looking for validation, I showed it to my uncle. Instead of the praise I expected, he told me a few things that didn’t work in his expert opinion. After that, I started writing with my inner editor reading over my shoulder, until I got to a point in which I wasn’t sure anyone would ever be interested in what I wanted to say. Don’t pay attention to the inner editor! Get the story out of your heart! There’s a lot of time to fix things during revision. Revision is your friend.
I also would say a big THANK YOU. My younger self was a little like Minerva: determined and persistent. I taught myself English at a young age, and I’m forever grateful to little Yamile for all the hard work. It’s paying off!
What is your writing process? What techniques do you use to get past writer’s block?
I wrote my first full novel during NaNoWriMo back in 2008. My goal was to win NaNo by writing 50,000 words in 24 days (I found out about National Novel Writing Month on November 6th, but I still reached my goal). Since then, I’ve learned to pour out my first draft on the page and then go back and revise. This has resulted in a lot of drafts that will never see the light of day, but it has also produced some powerful writing that came straight from my heart (like the NaNo in 2013, a few days after my mother passed away). I write every day, or at least, most days. Sometimes my ideas are born of a single word, or a person I see who makes me wonder about their lives. Sometimes the ideas simmer in my head and my heart for years, until I feel I ready to tell them. Right now I’m working on a story that was born about twelve years ago when I lived in Puerto Rico. I’ve learned that even if something I write isn’t ready for me to share with my critique group, it’s still an important piece of writing because it taught me what doesn’t work or what needs more depth. I love to do writing exercises from craft books like Writing Fiction by Janet Burroway et al, Steering the Craft, by Ursula Le Guin, and The Plot Whisperer, by Martha Alderson. Even if not all of these exercises end up in my manuscript, I often find wonderful information about my characters (or myself) that helps me tell the story better.
Recently, there’s been quite a lot of debate over the idea of readers who choose to take a break from books written by a certain group, such as white male authors. What’s your take on this?
First of all, I feel that people should read whatever they want to read without fear of mocking or teasing of any kind. I naturally gravitate toward books by authors of color because they tell stories that mirror my experience as a person of color too. As a child, I never remembered who wrote what. I loved Little Women and Heidi because I identified with Jo March and Heidi who lived with her grandpa. But as an adult and a writer, I want to learn from the masters how to tell the stories that inhabit my mind and my heart, and there’s no better way than to read their stories to know how to tell mine.
What are your favorite books or writers in the same genre as your manuscript?
I have hundreds of favorite books, but in middle grade I love everything by Katherine Paterson (Bridge to Terabithia is my favorite), Gary D. Schmidt (Okay for Now), Shannon Hale (Princess Academy), Kelly Barnhill (The Witch’s Boy. Wow!), and Erin Bow (Pain Kate). I also love everything by Meg Medina (especially The Girl Who Could Silence the Wind) and Julia Alvarez (the Tia Lola books are the best!), and of course Pam Muñoz Ryan (Esperanza Rising). But my favorite stories ever are fairy tales, from all over the world, and of course Peter Pan has a special place in my heart.
Axie Oh, “The Amaterasu Project”
Tell us a little about the main character in your novel.
His name is Lee Jaewon (Koreans put their surnames before their given names). He’s 18-years-old. He’s a quiet, keep under the radar type of person, with a strong sense of loyalty and a distrust of hope. At the start of the book, he lives alone in a dingy apartment in Old Seoul (my future Korea is split between Old and Neo Seoul). He hasn’t spoken to his best friend in three years. He’s rejecting these mysterious envelopes full of cash, sent from his mother who he hasn’t seen since he was eight. I see him as a character with a very tired soul who longs to forgive everyone who’s hurt him in his life, yet doesn’t know how to begin, or even if it matters.
Physically, he looks like Lee Jong Suk. If you don’t know who that is, well, you’re in for a treat: Google him! (He’s a South Korean actor).
What advice would you give your younger self about writing?
You are fabulous! Keep on doing what you’re doing! Okay, maybe that’s not advice. More like ego-boosting. But every teenager needs a good ego-boost now and then, especially when writing, which is literally pouring your soul onto a page.
What is your writing process? What techniques do you use to get past writer’s block?
My writing process is pretty linear. I outline heavily, with scene-setting and dialogue for some significant scenes that will appear in the novel. I do character and worldbuilding charts. I compile pictures/illustrations of places and people who inhabit the spirit of my characters. Then I go through the whole book, from the first chapter to the last, with heavy editing in between. Then of course more revisions. The last two steps are printing the whole book out and attacking it with a bunch of colorful pens. The more colors the better! And then reading the whole book out loud while recording it. THEN I send it to my beta readers and critique partners – this is the point where I can’t make it any better by myself.
As for writer’s block, when I come up against that particular wall, I always start with the spark that made me want to write the book in the first place. The characters. I go back to the sketches I wrote of the characters and add onto them, delving deeper into their backgrounds and psyches. And/or I’ll re-read scenes I’ve already written that contain the “voice” of the characters, which makes me fall in love with the characters all over again. It’s all about making myself believe in the characters so that I want to finish their story.
Recently, there’s been quite a lot of debate over the idea of readers who choose to take a break from books written by a certain group, such as white male authors. What’s your take on this?
The idea behind this, I believe – at least for avoiding white, male authors specifically – is that by avoiding this group, you will therefore seek out stories written by women, people of color or LGBT writers, enriching your perspective of the world, which is always a viable and recommended thing to do.
As a reader, I seek out stories with strong coming-of-age themes and themes of love, in all its shapes and forms. When I read, it’s about seeking these types of books in an inclusive setting.
What are your favorite books or writers in the same genre as your manuscript, and why?
Tough one because I haven’t read enough YA Sci-Fi to have particular favorites. I watch a lot of Sci-Fi dramas and anime (which heavily influenced my novel), but I don’t particularly have favorite books that are in the YA Sci-Fi genre. For example, one of my favorite anime/manga franchises is the Gundam franchise, which deals with futuristic societies, technological advancements and very human themes of love, hate, honor and betrayal.
Recently, I read the first two books in Brandon Sanderson’s Reckoners series, which were pretty awesome – jam-packed with action and strong themes of what it means to be a hero.
On the opposite end of Sci-Fi, focusing more on character, I really love the quiet strength of Diana Peterfreund’s For Darkness Shows the Stars, a dystopic re-telling of Jane Austen’s Persuasion, taking place on a futuristic Pacific Islands.
Revolution is a new movie that shows the devastating environmental effects of ocean acidification, tar sands, deforestation, over-population, pollution and food scarcity. Filmed over 4 years in 15 countries in some of the most remote and breathtaking locations, Revolution is an inspiring call to action about the man-made catastrophe facing our world. Uncovering the cause of the mass extinctions of the past, this film shows the revolution needed to save our planet now.
In the movie, you can see that the global conservation movement depends on the passion of young people. There are kids featured throughout the movie, including 13-year-old Felix Finkbeiner of Germany. In his hometown, he leads an environmental group called Plant for the Planet, which has so far planted 194 trees — one tree for every country that met at the United Nations Planet Conference. Joining a rally of protesters outside the conference, he invited all the ministers and heads of state to come outside to plant the trees of their country. His goal is to plant one million trees in each country of the world.
So inspiring! Kids CAN make a difference, so tell us in the Comments what you will do to help save the earth!
April is National Poetry Month! All month long we’ll be celebrating by posting some of our favorite poems for Poetry Friday. For our third Poetry Friday post, we chose Song in my Heart by Tony Medina, illustrated by Jesse Joshua Jackson from I and I Bob Marley.
Song in My Heart
I am the boy
From Nine Miles
The one sing
Like three little birds
In a reggae style
The one blessed
To travel miles
Across the world
With my island girl
Guitar in hand
And my dreads
In my belly
In my heart
Healing the world
With my reggae art
Keeping you always
Like a song
In my heart
Let us know what poems you’re reading in the comments section!
Mysterious planets, an alien mentor, and a robot shopkeeper—sounds like the ingredients to an amazing sci-fi story, right? It’s also the foundation for a new swipe-and-match game called Star Banks Adventure!
Like all great games, Star Banks Adventure is packed with choices for you to make. But every choice has a consequence, so be careful! You’ll need to partner with Odal, an alien guide, to stop Overlord Zek, the evil mastermind bent on causing financial chaos. Use different Star Banks to collect coins and build space devices to save the galaxy from financial chaos. I can’t wait to see what comes next! Click here to check it out.
Accompanied by spacey music and a story line that unfolds as you go, Star Banks Adventure is a blast!
This free game was created by T. Rowe Price as part of their Money Confident Kids Program, which focuses on helping kids better understand money. It can be played online or on mobile devices through iTunes, Google Play, and Amazon.