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Halloween is less than 4 weeks away, and to have the best costume, you need to plan way in advance! So here is a quiz to find out what Halloween costume you should choose!
If you were to pick a movie to watch, you would pick . . . a) The Lion King. b) Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. c) Goosebumps. d) Cinderella.
You would consider yourself someone who is . . . a) aloof or reserved. b) outgoing. c) sneaky. d) glamorous.
Your favorite thing about October is . . . a) curling up with a good book on the cool nights. b) the feeling of magic in the air. c) scaring people. d) getting candy.
Which superpower ability would you rather have? a) Able to leap tall buildings in a single bound. b) Able to do magic. c) Able to be invisible. d) Able to turn everything you touch into gold.
If you had to pick one thing to play with it would be . . . a) a ball of yarn. b) a wand. c) a sheet. d) a crown.
What sport would you choose to do? a) Running. b) Quidditch. c) Professional hide and seek. d) Jousting.
Which animal would you choose? a) A mouse. b) An owl. c) A cat. d) A horse.
How often do you like being around friends? a) It depends on the friend. b) Frequently. c) Whenever you feel like popping in. d) All the time.
Your favorite Halloween candy is . . . a) Milky Way. b) Jelly Beans. c) None of these. d) Chocolate coins.
If you picked mostly A’s, your perfect Halloween costume is a cat.
Cats are an awesome Halloween costume. You love to snuggle down on cold nights, and you really value your alone time. You like to read and do your own thing, but sometimes you do want attention from your friends. You are quick and athletic just like a cat, but you also like having a calm environment. Your Halloween will be purrrfect!
If you picked mostly B’s, your perfect Halloween costume is a witch or wizard.
You can feel magic around you and you love to cast spells and learn about witchcraft and wizardry. You like to be surrounded by other witches and wizards who enjoy mystery and magic. You love adventure and fast-paced sports just like wizards and witches who like to fly around on brooms!
If you picked mostly C’s, your perfect Halloween costume is a ghost.
Like a ghost, you love to be sneaky! You enjoy popping into rooms and surprising people! You also are interested in mystery and scary books and movies. Halloween is your time to shine as you race around yelling “Boo!” in your sheet costume!
If you picked mostly D’s, your perfect Halloween costume is a prince or princess.
Like a prince or princess, you are elegant and glamorous. Nothing but the best for you! You like nice things and having other people do nice things for you. Princes and princesses enjoy being the center of attention and getting the royal treatment!
Leave a Comment to tell us what your Halloween costume will be this year!
ROWAN BLANCHARD AND PARIS BERELC STAR IN THE DISNEY “Monstober” MOVIE INVISIBLE SISTER, PREMIERING FRIDAY, OCTOBER 9 ON DISNEY CHANNEL!
Photo courtesy Disney Channel/Bob D’Amico
Set in New Orleans during Halloween, Invisible Sister follows Cleo (played by Rowan Blanchard), an introverted young science prodigy whose class project accidentally turns her popular older sister and the school’s star lacrosse player, Molly (played by Paris Berelc), invisible.
Cleo, who has become accustomed to living in Molly’s shadow, is forced to step outside her comfort zone and into the shoes of her older sister to take her place on the day of an important game. As the sisters try to convince their friends, teachers, and Molly’s lacrosse team that nothing is wrong, they must rely on each other like never before. In doing so, they gain a better understanding of one another and themselves.
Meanwhile, they are up against the clock to find an antidote to reverse the effects of Cleo’s experiment before Molly’s invisibility becomes permanent.
Invisible Sister also stars Karan Brar (BUNK’D, Jessie) as Cleo’s quirky best buddy and fellow science enthusiast; Rachel Crow (X Factor) as Molly’s outgoing best friend and teammate; Will Meyers (Bella and the Bulldogs) as Cleo’s crush and science scholar; and Austin Fryberger (Kirby Buckets) as Molly’s goofy but affable boyfriend.
This post was originally posted October 8, 2012. We offer some thoughts on reframing the Columbus Day holiday:
Have you ever stopped to think about the implications of celebrating Columbus Day?
While most of us probably grew up associating the holiday with classroom rhymes and mnemonic devices (“In 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue,” etc.), days off from school, or sales at the mall, it’s important to remember what really happened in October of 1492. Columbus Day occupies a dubious spot in our nation’s calendar, ostensibly commemorating both the “discovery” of the Americas by Christopher Columbus and the subsequent destruction and enslavement of countless indigenous people.
Check out this video created by Nu Heightz Cinema filmmakers Carlos Germosen and Crystal Whelan in 2009. In order to garner support for a movement to “reconsider Columbus Day,” Germosen and Whelan collaborated with indigenous organizations and community activists, giving voice to the horrific and painful stories behind the mythology of the holiday.
In fact, there’s been a push to eliminate Columbus Day altogether and replace it with a federal holiday in honor of Native Americans. Several states, such as Alaska, no longer recognize Columbus Day, or have replaced it with a day honoring indigenous people.
For example, since 1990, South Dakota has celebrated the second Monday of every October as Native American Day. In California, Berkeley replaced Columbus Day with Indigenous People’s Day in 1992, and in 1998, legislation calling for Native American Day to be celebrated as an official California state holiday on the fourth Friday of every September was also passed. Hawaii also celebrates Discoverers’ Day instead of Columbus Day in order to recognize the Polynesian discovery of the Hawaiian Islands. Many tribal governments have also reclaimed the day as Native American Day, or, like the Navajo Nation, have replaced it with a holiday honoring their own tribe.
Here are two books we found that, like the alternatives listed above, aim to dispel the myths around Columbus Day:
A Coyote Columbus Story, written by Thomas King, a Canadian novelist and broadcaster of Cherokee and Greek descent, and illustrated by Kent Monkman, a Canadian multimedia artist of Cree ancestry. It tells the story using the figure of Coyote, a traditional trickster character who, in King’s retelling, is a girl who loves to play ball!
Rethinking Columbus: The Next 500 Years, edited by Bill Bigelow & Bob Peterson. This collection of essays, articles, poems, teaching ideas, and primary source materials helps educators teach students how to think critically and creatively about the consequences of the arrival of Europeans on the North American continent.
What are some other ways you can think of to observe Columbus Day? Do you have any favorite books or resources that tell the story of Columbus from a Native American perspective? Let us know in the comments below!
The spookiest day of the year is coming on October 31. Here are a few Halloween activities and links to get you ready. If you need costume ideas, we got ‘em; scary books, we got ‘em. We even have a Personality Quiz to find out what monster you are most like!
Released this past May, Sunday Shoppingtells a whimsical story of a girl and her grandma who go “shopping” through the newspaper ads every Sunday. We interviewed author Sally Derby and illustrator Shadra Strickland about their creative processes, the children’s book publishing industry, and encouraging children to write more.
Sally Derby, author
1. Sunday Shopping is not exactly a story about economic need, but the book subtly suggests that the family doesn’t have a lot of disposable income. Why did you decide to address this subject in this particular way? Are there any picture books that address poverty in a way you really love or admire?
As long as your basic needs for food and shelter are met, then poverty is a point of view and no matter what anyone else thinks, if you are happy with what you have, you are rich. In this country, so many of us have so much. I wanted to show a child who is happy without all the possessions many other families take for granted. In this regard, I have always loved Nikki Giovanni’s poem “Nikki-Rosa” about growing up in Woodlawn, a suburb of Cincinnati near where I lived. Just listen to the last lines of that lovely poem:
because they never understand
Black love is Black wealth and they’ll
probably talk about my hard childhood
and never understand that
all the while I was quite happy
I wasn’t Black, but I was a child of the depression, and I spent some of the happiest days of my childhood in my great-grandparents’ house in Elkhart, Indiana, outdoor plumbing and all. If that house had been set down next door to Nikki Rosa’s it probably would have fit right in.
2. Although you are white, many of your books (including Sunday Shopping) are told from the perspective of black characters. Why do you decide to write cross-culturally, and what kind of research do you do to make sure you get it right?
I know my answer will sound unbelievable to many, but I don’t “decide” to write cross-culturally or any other way. When I start to write a story I usually have only a fragment of something in my mind—a scene, a character, a scrap of conversation. But as soon as my fingers touch the keyboard I’ll hear a voice saying the words I type, and that voice determines everything that follows. As I listen, the story becomes clearer to me and as long as I don’t start sticking in my own words I have to trust that the story is going where it’s meant to go.
I feel very lucky that many of the voices happen to have come from Black characters. I always love listening to and learning from vernacular speech—Yiddish, Pennsylvania-Dutch, Appalachian, Urban Black. Before the Dictionary of American English went on line, I saved and scrimped to buy all six volumes for my own bookshelves. I could spend hours every day browsing in DARE and thoroughly enjoying myself.
I know many people think no one should write outside their own culture. But I think I have the right to write any way I want about anything I want. After I’ve written it, if I didn’t get the voice “right” people are free to say so and explain what is lacking or wrong.
I have had to do very little research for the three “cross-cultural” picture books I’ve written for Lee & Low, because the books’ narrators are talking about their experiences as little girls who just happen to be African American, experiences they might just as easily have had if they were Asian or Caucasian or . Of course, they will have had experiences peculiar to children of their race, but they are not speaking of those. If they had been, I would have had much more research to do.
3. What advice do you have for other authors who are writing stories cross-culturally?
I have no advice about writing cross-culturally that differs from what I’d advise about any sort of writing. No matter the subject, approach your writing honestly and humbly. Treat your characters with respect. When adverse criticism comes (as it will, no matter who you are or how well you write) try to evaluate it honestly. If it’s worthwhile, learn from it, and if it isn’t, disregard it.
We are limited by our experiences and we tend to judge everything from our own point of view. We learn by allowing ourselves, and being allowed, to see through the eyes of people unlike us. Reading can expand our worldview by introducing us to those we are unlikely to meet, even sometimes to those we wouldn’t want to meet.
4. Many people feel that libraries are becoming obsolete, given the Internet and the wealth of information that exists now. As someone who has seen publishing evolve over the years, what is your opinion on the relevance of libraries in the “age of information”?
I’m an optimist. Movies didn’t replace books, and television hasn’t replaced books, and I don’t think the Internet will replace books either. Kindles have their place, but it’s still more satisfying to close the cover of a book than to push a button that returns you to a black screen. And besides the enjoyment of books, especially picture books, that you can touch and hold, I don’t think we can overestimate the value of being able to wander through a library when you are researching a subject. If you confine yourself to a Google search, you may be offered a plenitude of sources, but the order in which they are presented will necessarily influence your choice of what to read. What you write then may be solid and factual, but it won’t be nearly as interesting or original as it would have been if your eye had been caught by that odd little volume with the faded purple color on the bottom shelf of the 590’s.
Sally Derby is the author of books for children including the popular NO MUSH TODAY and MY STEPS, published by Lee & Low. Her books are notable for their heartfelt family stories told from a spot-on childlike point of view. The mother of six grown children, she lives in Cincinnati, Ohio, with her husband.
Shadra Strickland, illustrator
1. What was your process for creating the unique and playful art in Sunday Shopping?
The art was made in many stages. The vignettes of Evie and Grandma in the bedroom were done in watercolor and gouache. I made line drawings of the imaginary scenes and scanned those in along with separate acrylic paintings of Evie and Grandma along with hand painted textures.
Do you have a similar childhood experience to Evie, who pretends to go shopping with her grandma every Sunday?
I do! When I was little, I would ride the bus to my grandmother’s house after school while my mom was still teaching during the day. After my grandmother would finish her “stories” on television, most days I’d watch cartoons, but sometimes the JCPenny or Macy’s Wish Book would come in and we would spend hours looking through to pick out the things we wanted to buy. Often times, I would cut out the items I wanted to do my own shopping just like Evie. My grandmother is well into her 80s now and collects all of my books. When I shared Sunday Shopping with her, she gave a big laugh out loud and said, “This is you and me, aint it?”. It was the best validation I could ever get.
You use a wide variety of media in your illustrations that vary from book to book. Do you have a favorite medium to work with? How did you decide which media to use for Sunday Shopping?
I love working in watercolor and gouache mostly, but when I read a manuscript, I usually have very strong visions of what it should look and feel like. Most stories have a strong visual element that is carried throughout. For Bird, it was his line drawings and MArcus’s hat. I knew from the start that Sunday Shopping would be driven by collage, but when I sat down to try and make collages, I failed miserably. It wasn’t until I found a youtube video of Michael Jackson and Roberta Flack singing “Free to be You and Me” that the idea of cut outs and digital collage came to the surface.
Children are often encouraged to seek fields to go into other than art and other creative fields. How would you encourage a child who wants to become an artist or a writer?
I would give them opportunities to create. My mom made sure I always had lots of paper and pencils around and she would pose for me when I asked to draw her. Once she noticed how captivated I was with drawing, she gave me full reign to do so. She introduced me to the art teacher at the high school where she worked, bought me lots of how-to books on how to draw, and enrolled me in art classes at one of our local community art centers. I never will forget taking a portraiture class at Callenwolde Art Center when I was around 11. I was the youngest artist there in a room full of grown ups. It completely changed my life. It was my first time having a real professional teach me how to draw.
What were your favorite picture books as a child, and what are a few of your favorite picture books as an adult?
I read a lot of instructional books as a kid. Things like, “Where Does Rain Come From?”, and he like. I remember being completely enchanted by “The Snowy Day”. A little later on when Reading Rainbow was popular, I fell in love with “Just Us Women” by Pat Cummings. Now, as an avid pupil of picturebooks, it is hard to say which ones are my favorites. I do still love “Bird”. Everything about that book came together so perfectly. I also, love looking through all of Mirislov Sasek’s “This is…” books. What an amazing life! To be able to travel and draw and share that work with readers for years to come…amazing.
Lee & Low Books has the New Voices Award to create opportunities for new writers of color. What would be a good way to create more opportunities for illustrators of color and illustrators from other underrepresented groups?
That’s a tough question. Though competitions are wonderful ways for I also think that inspiring and encouraging kids to tell their own stories is a great way to get them started on a long road to storytelling. As artists and writers of color, I believe that we must be examples for future writers and artists. School visits is still a great vehicle for this.
Being active in our communities is also important ways to motivate, and teach through example. Recently I volunteered to bring the Ezra Jack Keats Bookmaking Competition to Baltimore City this fall. My hope is that it will help connect multiple community organizations committed to literacy and the arts and inspire young writers and artists to take their work seriously at a young age so that they will continue to develop and pursue their talents as they get older. The winners will receive cash prizes and have their work displayed across city libraries in the summer.
I think that exposing people to what we do as artists and authors is the best way to help keep them inspired. I also believe that now with technology becoming more and more accessible to everyone, it has become much easier for artists and authors to get their stories out into the world.
Shadra Strickland is the illustrator of several children’s books including Lee & Low’s BIRD, winner of the Ezra Jack Keats New Illustrator Award and the Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe Award for New Talent in Illustration. Along with illustrating and writing stories, Strickland loves to make drawings during her travels around the country and the world. She lives in Baltimore, where she also teaches illustration at Maryland Institute College of Art. Her website isjumpin.shadrastrickland.com.
Space Pioneer Buzz Aldrin Shares His Vision For Exploring Mars In Welcome to Mars
Could Mars be our future home? Buzz Aldrin thinks so, and he should know! Buzz is one of the first people to walk on the moon, and was a member of the historic Apollo 11 crew. A renowned rocket scientist, he developed a futuristic space transportation system to reach Mars. He chairs his own educational organization, ShareSpace Foundation. And he also has a Toy Story character named after him! (Hint: “To infinity — and beyond!”)
Buzz Aldrin lives, eats, and breathes all things Mars. Buzz has a vision for not only traveling to Mars, but inhabiting it as well. In Welcome to Mars: Making a Home on the Red Planet, Buzz describes what it will take to build a permanent home on this far away planet.
Welcome to Mars reveals the ultimate in space transportation — the Aldrin Cycler Spacecraft – and what the space traveler will encounter upon arrival, including a detailed illustration of the Mars Lander Sequence and an ingenious method for removing the rusty dust stuck to the space suits. The reader is taken on a tour of the Spaceport, learns how dirt bikes and zip lines will be natural forms of red planet entertainment, and discovers how greenhouses will play a vital role in the colonization of Mars. Finally, after months of exploring and living in the rugged Spaceport, it’s moving day – Buzz ups the “wow” factor with high tech and forward-thinking living, eating and recreational quarters aptly named the Founders Dome.
What do you think? Will you sign up to go live on Mars? Tell us in the Comments.
John M. Hagedorn’s The In$ane Chicago Waymines the secret history of the attempt to form a Spanish Mafia by Chicago gangs in the 1990s—including why it failed—in order to examine and contextualize our current potential to intervene in and reduce gang-related violence. Hagedorn was recently interviewed by Milt Rosenberg (podcast in full here), and submitted his book to the scrutiny of the Page 99 Test, both of which you can access online, including an excerpt from Page 99 below. And, if you’re in Chicago, you can catch Hagedorn in person at the Great Cities Institute (412 S. Peoria, Suite 400) on Monday, October 19th, at 2:30PM.
The In$ane Chicago Way tells a heretofore unknown story of how Chicago Latino gangs tried to create a Spanish mafia and why they failed. In$ane explains how a coalition of Latino gangs, Spanish Growth & Development (SGD), was created by gang leaders to control violence, organize crime, and corrupt police. Law enforcement and even most gang members were not aware of the 10-year existence of SGD which ruled the streets from the Illinois prison system. SGD was not destroyed from outside by arrests but by an internecine war of the families, or rival groups of gangs. The book follows SGD from its origins to its bloody demise in an assassination of the steps of a peace conference.
Chicago’s mafia, the Outfit, was not an uninterested observer to these efforts. They worked backstage through their minor league team, the C-Note$, to influence SGD, particularly to control violence in order to safeguard profits. The book follows the exploits of the five principal C-Note leaders, who my Outfit informant called “Two Dagos, Two Spics, and a Hillbilly.” In order to infiltrate SGD, the Outfit had to overlook their Italian C-Note leaders and push forth a Puerto Rican, Mo Mo, as their de facto representative. Page 99 is a small glimpse into Mo Mo and why he became the Outfit’s choice as their covert liaison to SGD.
To read more about The In$sane Chicago Way, click here.
To read the Page 99 Test post in full, click here.
How many words can you spell using the letter in the words, Haunted House? Make sure the words are 3 or more letters or they don’t count. Here are 2 words to get you started. Leave your other words in the Comments!
We commonly think of the American Revolution as simply the war for independence from British colonial rule. But, of course, that independence actually applied to only a portion of the American population—African Americans would still be bound in slavery for nearly another century. Alan Gilbert asks us to rethink what we know about the Revolutionary War, to realize that while white Americans were fighting for their freedom, many black Americans were joining the British imperial forces to gain theirs. Further, a movement led by sailors—both black and white—pushed strongly for emancipation on the American side. There were actually two wars being waged at once: a political revolution for independence from Britain and a social revolution for emancipation and equality.
Gilbert presents persuasive evidence that slavery could have been abolished during the Revolution itself if either side had fully pursued the military advantage of freeing slaves and pressing them into combat, and his extensive research also reveals that free blacks on both sides played a crucial and underappreciated role in the actual fighting. Black Patriots and Loyalists contends that the struggle for emancipation was not only basic to the Revolution itself, but was a rousing force that would inspire freedom movements like the abolition societies of the North and the black loyalist pilgrimages for freedom in Nova Scotia and Sierra Leone.
Download your copy of Black Patriots and Loyalists, here.
“My advice on writing?” asked Joseph Bruchac, author of KILLER OF ENEMIES and sequel TRAIL OF THE DEAD, recently to a group of high school students gathered in our Lee & Low office.
“Read. Read a lot and read widely. Don’t just read on the Internet; read books. If you have a favorite writer, take a look at what she does and how she does it across her books. Also, write. Write a lot and write every day. My third piece of advice is revise—make writing worth reading.”
For our virtual author event, Joseph Bruchac called in to join the students from Grace Church School who were visiting our Lee & Low office in Manhattan. The students had read both books in Bruchac’s KILLER OF ENEMIES series and were interested in learning more about the main character Lozen, the world she lives in, and the inspiration behind the books.
During our conference call with Joseph Bruchac, students came prepared with their own questions, which included:
What was society and the world like before the coming of the Cloud? What was your vision of the world?
Luther’s chapters have a very different narration from Lozen’s chapters. What was the thinking behind this choice?
Whose side is the Dreamer on?
Did the Cloud make every One insane or are there some Ones who are still good?
Coyote has a particular place in much Native American folklore but TRAIL OF THE DEAD has a lot of sci fi/fantasy monsters and mythical creatures. Where does Coyote fit in?
Is Lozen’s journey similar to your own?
How long did it take you to write the book? What advice do you have about writing?
Looking to lead your own book discussion with teens?
Check out our Discussion Questions for KILLER OF ENEMIES series with a focus on the latest release, TRAIL OF THE DEAD:
Before the Silver Cloud, humans with computer-generated enhancements, called the Ones, controlled the world. Do you think author Joseph Bruchac’s vision of the future is convincing? Why or why not? What similarities do you see between the pre-Cloud world that the Dreamer described and our own world today?
What role does community play in TRAIL OF THE DEAD? How is Lozen’s community critical to her healing?
The Dreamer decides which books to save. Which book would you save?
Do you have theories on who Hally is? What do you think motivates Hally and what do you think Hally wants?
Author Joseph Bruchac alternates between first-person narration of Lozen to third person omniscient narration with Luther—why would the author do this? How does this build suspense? With whom does Joseph Bruchac want us to empathize? Does this affect our perception of Lozen as a trustworthy narrator?
Joseph Bruchac, as an adult, created Lozen (her background, voice, and perspective) and chose to write her as a teenager. She can be very opinionated, sardonic, and mocking. Do you think Lozen is a representative teenager? Why or why not?
Main character, Lozen, uses humor and sarcasm throughout the series. Why do you think author Joseph Bruchac uses humor in the telling of a post-apocalyptic tale? How is this story unique from other texts set in extreme and violent environments? How does humor and sarcasm help Lozen and the other characters cope or heal with their environment and experiences? In what circumstances in our world today do we see people using humor in difficult and stressful situations?
The ending of TRAIL OF THE DEAD is left open for a follow-up (or perhaps a conclusion). What do you hope to see as Lozen’s (and the other characters’) story continues?
Resources and activities for engaging students on the KILLER OF ENEMIES book series:
1. Author Joseph Bruchac reads from TRAIL OF THE DEAD, the sequel to his post-apocalyptic Apache steampunk, KILLER OF ENEMIES.
5. Have students blog about and map through Google Maps the journey and world of Lozen in KILLER OF ENEMIES and TRAIL OF THE DEAD. This project was designed by Dr. Lisa Hager, Associate Professor of English and Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies at University of Wisconsin-Waukesha.
6. Have students write their own book reviews to submit to the school newspaper or present to the class. Students can read the reviews of KILLER OF ENEMIES and TRAIL OF THE DEAD at the bottom of the book pages for ideas.
Tu Books publisher Stacy Whitman broadened the discussion with looking at the challenges in children’s publishing today. As a group, we analyzed The Diversity Gap in Children’s Books infographic.
What is the context of this infographic? What are student and general U.S. population demographics today?
What might some causes be for the lack of diversity in children’s books?
What might the impact of a lack of diversity among authors and characters be on students reading books that were either assigned or self-selected? What might it mean for a young child growing up and reading? What will she see? What will she not see?
How to bring a LEE & LOW author or illustrator into your classroom live or virtually:
Jill Eisenberg, our Senior Literacy Specialist, began her career teaching English as a Foreign Language for second through sixth grade in Yilan, Taiwan as a Fulbright Fellow. She went on to become a literacy teacher for third grade in the Bay Area, CA as a Teach for America corps member where she became passionate about best practices for supporting English Language Learners and parent engagement. In her column for Lee & Low’s The Open Book blog, she offers teaching and literacy tips for educators.
Do you like to read books about other cultures? What about other historical times?
If you could go to lunch with any author, who would it be and what would you like to talk about?
Have you read a book in another language besides English? Did you enjoy the book or books you read?
What type of books (genre!) do you most like to read?
What is your favorite literary element? For example, simile, metaphor, irony, foreshadowing, personification, figurative language, or even forms of poetry can count here….
Are there any books you’d like to suggest?
Are you in a book club? If yes, which books have you read in it?
What is your favorite childhood book (picture book)?
If you could turn any book into a movie, which book would it be? Which actors would play which characters?
If you could change the ending of ANY book, which book would it be and what would the new ending be? Please start your answers with the book title so STACKers can decide if they want to read your answer/spoiler or not!
Has any book every evoked really strong emotions in you? For example, has any book made you REALLY sad or angry, or empathetic, etc.? Which book and which emotion?
Have you ever read a book that you thought you’d love but ended up not liking? What about the reverse?
Estimate the number of books you’ve read in the last 12 months.
You won a $500 book gift card. What are you going to buy with it?
Have fun! Thanks to these STACKers who helped me come up with the questions: gopherchess4, breezebrain39, darkrising6, bastkitten37, and chorusartistic19.
Leave your answers to one or all of these questions on the Comments!
After ten years, it's time for a change. I've moved to a new blog platform, and have other changes planned. Don't worry, I'll still be covering mainly children's and YA fantasy and science fiction, but I hope to post more frequently and be a little more relaxed about it. Please see the new blog at blog.wandsandworlds.com and don't forget to update your blog reader!
YO-KAI WATCH WILL PREMIERE ON DISNEY XD MONDAY, OCTOBER 5.
Ever have a day where nothing goes right? Was it bad luck? Nope! That was the work of the Yo-kai, beings who cause life’s daily annoyances. With the Yo-kai Watch on his wrist, Nate, an average fifth grader, along with his Yo-kai companions Jibanyan and Whisper, can now communicate with the Yo-kai. There’s just one problem – they’re everywhere, and they love to cause mischief!
The wildly popular Japanese animated comedy series Yo-kai Watchis set to make its U.S. debuton Disney XD. Viewers will be treated to a new episode each day during the premiere week, Monday, October 5 through Friday, October 9, before it begins ongoing weekly debuts on Monday evenings at 5:00 p.m., ET/PT.
Are you an anime fan? Will you be watching? Tell us in the Comments.
This past weekend, LEE & LOW staff attended an “Undoing Racism” workshop, held by the People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond. The People’s Institute is an organization that “is a national and international collective of anti-racist, multicultural community organizers and educators dedicated to building an effective movement for social transformation.”
Throughout this weekend we learned about the definition of institutional racism and its historical context. We talked about the impact of racism on everyone, especially communities of color.
Two LEE & LOW staff reflect on their experience below.
Rebecca Garcia, Marketing & Publicity Assistant: When I learned that I was going to an “Undoing Racism” workshop, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Can racism really be “undone” in a weekend? If that were the case, then I had to be doing something wrong because I haven’t “undone” racism yet.
Surprisingly, we did not start out by talking about racism or defining it. Instead, we began to talk about the different systems that affect poor people and poor families. Different factors that are supposed to help poor people can also serve to oppress them. At this point, it still wasn’t anything I hadn’t heard before.
At one point, the facilitators asked the group how many of us were gatekeepers. I had to think about it for a moment before I raised my hand. Having never thought of myself as a person with power, it was shocking to discover that I am a gatekeeper. Before that, I thought of editors as gatekeepers. After all, they’re the ones who decide what books to acquire. But since I regularly disseminate all kinds of information through social media, of course I’m a gatekeeper. Information is power.
Later on, we spoke about the definition of racism. Racism = Racial Prejudice + Power. By understanding what racism is and its historical origins, we then understood that racism and the systems it created and enforces are things that can become undone, even if there is no quick fix. In order to start undoing, or dismantling racism, we have to start having honest conversations about race, even if they will make us uncomfortable.
Keilin Huang, Marketing & Publicity Associate: This past weekend, several members of the LEE & LOW team went to a workshop called Undoing Racism. To be honest, I already had preconceived notions of what the workshop would be like. I assumed we would get together in a group and talk about our own experiences with racism: what we had encountered growing up, the racism and stereotypes that we saw within our own circle of friends and family; the workshop was going to be something like an AA meeting, but for racism.
After Saturday, however, I realized how wrong I was about the workshop. Yes, there was talk about people’s own experiences with racism. There were some tears, some anger, but there was so much more to the workshop than talking about personal experiences.
We delved into how our society has built up the institution of racism and how the system is skewed to give advantage to those in power. We broke down what power means. We talked about the history of racism and really dove into what race itself even means. We talked about the idea of being a “gatekeeper,” and that really resonated with me. I work in the Marketing & Publicity department at LEE & LOW, and I never thought of that as “gatekeeping.” In my mind, the gatekeepers were the editors, people who worked directly on creating and editing a story that would then reach the public. But part of being in marketing and publicity is working with different social media platforms. For example, the LEE & LOW Facebook page has over 7,300 likes, and whenever I post anything, I’m choosing and determining what those 7,300 people will see. It was a realization of power that I had never thought about in-depth, and it’s a tool to use in the undoing of racism.
Towards the end of the weekend-long session, there was a discussion on culture (what we liked about our own culture and the idea of a “white” culture), and racial oppression that occurs because of racism (the term invisibilized and the gentrification of certain neighborhoods). In the end, we talked about how to organize and process all the information from the weekend, no small task!
One thing that was really emphasized throughout the workshop was the fact that we need to be active participants in undoing racism. For example, we broke out into four different groups to discuss different sectors of society and how these sectors oppress, exploit, and/or reinforce racism. I was in the Social Services sector and, unfortunately, felt like I wasn’t qualified to talk much about racism in this area; however, when I mentioned this after we had all reconvened, one of the leaders said that as advocates of eradicating racism, everyone needs to constantly question the institution of racism. Even with little or no knowledge of something, supporters of undoing racism seek out information and learn as much as they can about a certain institution. They ask questions. They listen. As someone who works in children’s book publishing and has a means of reaching hundreds (if not thousands!) of people every day, this really struck a chord with me. People who want to undo racism don’t always claim to be experts, rather they are proactive in their fight. They don’t stand off to the side and hope that things will magically be fixed. It takes effort, as all of us at LEE & LOW know, and that is something I will continue to strive to do both at work and personally.
In our new How We Did It series, we shine a spotlight on the people and
organizations doing important work to support diversity in publishing and beyond. Their stories and ideas are a dose of inspiration for all of us as we move forward in our work.
Today we are thrilled to have Kyle Zimmer, President, CEO, and Co-founder of First Book, with us. Here’s how Kyle describes her organization: “First Book supports educational equality by providing high quality, new and relevant books and educational resources to teachers and caregivers serving the millions of children growing up in low-income families.” Welome, Kyle!
How did First Book begin? Has the organization’s mission evolved since it was founded?
I co-founded First Book with two friends in 1992. I had been volunteering at a D.C. soup kitchen when I learned that not only were there no books available but the children didn’t have books at home either.
I started talking to other programs and schools and became aware of this enormous problem – with clearly disastrous implications – for individual children and our broader society. In a resource-rich country like ours, how can millions of children grow up without books, at home, at school and in their communities?
I became a student of the publishing sector and learned that the design of the industry makes it almost impossible to serve lower-income segments of the market. The publishing industry is based on a consignment model – meaning that inventory that doesn’t sell at retail is returned to publishers. So, of course, retail book prices are set high, in part, to cover the cost of unsold inventory. Today in the U.S., the average cost of a premium children’s picture book is $18 – far beyond the reach of low-income families.
Our solution was to aggregate the voice and buying power of educators and programs serving children in need, and in the process, create a viable market that publishers can serve. The First Book Network has become the largest and fastest growing network of classrooms and programs serving children from low-income families. This enables us to purchase books and content that our Network needs in bulk and we can negotiate significant discounts as a result.
While our fundamental mission has not changed, our understanding of the issues of poverty and education has evolved. As a result, we’re expanding our offerings and our definition of what it means to enable educational equity. We are listening to the First Book Network and responding to their needs. Now we’re offering school supplies, refurbished laptops, nonperishable food items, and even winter coats and underwear – in addition to culturally relevant books and educational resources. If our educators request something, we’re going to go out and find the partners who can help provide it – with the best quality either for free or as close to free as we can get.
First Book has done amazing work to promote diverse books by essentially creating a new market for diverse titles. Can you talk a bit about how and why First Book decided to do this?
We developed the Stories for All project to address the needs expressed by the First Book Network. They are on the front lines and have seen that books focused on all-white characters and experiences just don’t connect with – and don’t represent – the children they serve. In a First Book survey, 90% of respondents indicated that children in their programs would be more enthusiastic readers if they had access to books with characters, stories and images that reflected their lives.
We heard this need loud and clear – so we began to build strategies that would elevate access to these resources. In an industry already facing fierce competitive pressures, it’s no surprise that publishers have chosen to stick with the content they know will sell. There is a high risk factor and high costs involved in developing new content and marketing to new audiences.
That’s why we launched the Stories for All project. And we decided to roll out the initiative in a big way: promising to purchase, on a non-returnable basis, half a million dollars’ worth of inventory from the publisher offering the best, highest quality diverse titles at the best possible prices.
Because of the quality of submissions, we doubled our investment, purchasing a total of $1 million in inventory from Lee & Low Books and HarperCollins Publishers. It was a big investment and from an unconventional source – a nonprofit social enterprise — but we knew the demand was there. And, while First Book has long benefitted from terrific partnerships with publishers, by putting $1 million on the table, we were able to really get the attention of publishers and underscore that this market exists.
It is important to note – and those of you at Lee & Low have been saying this for decades — that it’s not just kids from low-income families who need diverse books. We are all living in a more diverse world and books can help develop empathy and expand understanding. By working with publishers to develop the market for more inclusive content for our educators, First Book is also reducing the costs for publishers to make that same content available at retail. For example, First Book served as a catalyst for the development of bilingual versions of The Very Hungry Caterpillar and Goodnight Moon – and now both are also available at retail.
This spring First Book worked with Target, a longtime corporate partner, to offer three of our new Stories for All project titles for sale at retail. It is actions like those by corporations that are needed to demonstrate the broader market – and that these are, indeed, Stories for All.
We have continued to roll out strategies expanding our purchasing power to drive development of the content requested by educators serving kids in need, reduce publishers’ risk and demonstrate that there is a viable market that publishers can count on. Stay tuned!
On the publishing side, we’ve definitely seen awareness increase over the last year regarding the need for more diversity in books. Have you seen the demand increase in terms of what educators are looking for as well? How in touch (or out of touch) do you think publishing is with the current needs of educators, especially educators in low-income communities?
Yes, we’ve definitely seen an increase in the demand for diverse books from educators. In fact, this spring alone we brought 60,000 new books to our Stories for All project, and those books have been among our top 10 best-selling books every month since we launched the project!
As a society we are becoming increasingly more diverse, and our classrooms and community programs reflect that. But I also think that the demand has increased because educators know that First Book is listening – and responding – to what they need. Stories for All is bringing much-needed content that celebrates different ethnicities, cultures and languages. But it is also a catalyst for books with characters and stories that celebrate different family structures, sexual identities, individual abilities, and experiences. We are working hand-in-hand with educators and publishers to provide a full range of content, in as many forms as possible, so that children can see themselves in books and can learn about others as well.
Publishers are definitely in touch with the fact that educators working with kids from low-income families have unique needs that have not been served. They are eager to provide the content that is needed – and to a person, want to hear the input provided by First Book’s network. Publishers are an extraordinary and talented group of people. We are inspired by their commitment to our cause.
The Stories for All project, which purchases large quantities of diverse books directly from publishers, is only one of several First Book initiatives addressing the issue of diversity in books. Could you share some of the others?
The Stories for All project is, in many ways, emblematic of First Book’s work and mission as a whole. Our goal is to ensure that kids who are growing up in low-income families benefit from the same high quality books, resources and educational opportunities as their more affluent peers.
We’re undertaking a range of initiatives to support diverse books – and to make sure those books reach kids who need them. With funding from Disney, for example, First Book undertook a concerted Latino community outreach effort. This effort included providing best-in-class books and resources to programs and schools serving children from low-income families in Latino communities. As part of this effort, First Book:
introduced more than 35,000 new Latino-serving groups to the First Book network.
distributed more than 270,000 culturally relevant books (retail value: $2.16 million) to schools and programs serving Latino children in need.
expanded partnerships with 50 organizations serving Latino children across the U.S.
First Book has curated collections of books on topics ranging from the experience of being an immigrant, to children with special needs and abilities, books on Muslim Americans and populations with other religions, books on Native American interests, books on LGBTQ and books on experiencing homeless and violence.
Did you receive any pushback from board members, donors, or anyone else when First Book announced any of these initiatives? If so, how did you address it?
There has been no pushback; in fact, just the opposite! We’ve had enormous support for Stories for All and our broader efforts to increase the diversity in children’s books – once people hear about it. Our biggest challenge is getting the word out. I can imagine that all of you at Lee & Low sometimes feel the same way. You’ve been pioneers in publishing diverse books and supporting diverse authors and illustrators, on the forefront of promoting stories that need to be heard.
Now that more people recognize the need for more diverse books, there seems to be a lot of hand-wringing over the issue. But hand-wringing only gets you sore hands. The only solution that will work is a market based one: people need to buy diverse books.
Looking forward, what is your vision for the role nonprofits can play in the movement for more diversity in books? Anything on the horizon that you’re excited about?
Nonprofits have a critical role in supporting diversity in books. One example: We’ve all benefitted from the work of We Need Diverse Books to raise awareness of the need for diverse books and to provide another voice for the amazing authors and illustrators who are behind those stories.
As nonprofits, we need to put our money where our mission is – buying and featuring diverse books. First Book works with any and all nonprofits, programs serving 70% or more kids in need as well as Title I classrooms. By joining the First Book Network, nonprofits can have a real voice in developing the pipeline of resources they need.
I’m excited about several major areas of development for First Book. I am thrilled by the partnerships that we are developing. Working side-by-side with other nonprofits, like Feeding America and Share Our Strength on initiatives that combine meal support with books – during the school year and especially during the summer. Also, we’re partnering with the nonprofit Jack and Jill of America, Inc. on a virtual book drive to bring books to the Children’s Defense Fund’s Freedom Schools in honor of Marian Wright Edelman, one of my personal heroes. For our outreach effort around our Latino Culture and Heritage book collection, we’ve worked with a wide range of nonprofits – from the Cesar Chavez Foundation to the League of United Latin American Citizens, the Texas Hunger Initiative and Too Small to Fail.
I’m a strong believer that we will all achieve more impact for kids when we work collaboratively: across sectors, with dedicated nonprofits and with committed corporate partners. We are only beginning to scratch the surface of what we can do – and literally, the ideas and potential for collaborating keep me and my team continually inspired!
Kyle Zimmer is President, CEO and Co-founder of First Book, a nonprofit social enterprise that has provided more than 130 million free and low-cost books and educational resources to schools and programs serving children in need across the U.S. and Canada. Kyle is a passionate advocate for social entrepreneurship, and the importance of literacy to further economic competitiveness and global understanding. Her awards include the National Book Foundation’s 2014 Literarian Award for Outstanding Service to the American Literary Community.
Robert Pogue Harrison’s Juvenescence: A Cultural History of Our Ageexplores the history of culture, from antiquity to the present, in order to frame how neotony, the retention of juvenile characteristics through adulthood, has become central to our youth-obsessed, yet historically entrenched civilization. Mired in the past, and at the same time, forced to look forward, the way in which we frame life and death errs heavy on the side of protracting the cusp of adulthood. “While genius liberates the novelties of the future,” Harrison writes, “wisdom inherits the legacies of the past, renewing them in the process of handing them down.”
Robert Pogue Harrison, an intellectual steeped in the philosophical and literary traditions of the Western world, may be the single most significant writer in the humanities today. In three of his previous books—Forests: The Shadow of Civilization, The Dominion of the Dead, and Gardens: An Essay on the Human Condition—he developed a particular style of writing that takes readers on a journey through time, tracing a particular concept or trope as it manifests itself in a wide array of literary and philosophical works. . . . In each of his books, Harrison demonstrates that responses to the most fundamental human questions often appear in the most unlikely places and that it takes a formidable intellect and an Auerbach-like memory to be able to discern a particular thread that runs through the tradition. To read Harrison, therefore, is to be reminded of texts that you may have read years ago, or the texts that you may be studying or even teaching at this time, only to discover that you have never carefully read them.
In Juvenescence, Harrison fashions himself as a type of philosophico-literary renouvelant, a young adherent to a long tradition, one who affirms his faith in the meaning-producing capacities of texts that are both all too familiar and long forgotten. In doing this, Harrison has written a book that enacts what it describes, one which boldly explores new ideas through revitalizing the past.
(We regret to inform you that no lightsabers will be used.)
Navigating the twists and turns of middle school is hard. You have tough classes, (Sith-like) bullies, friends, and more coming your way. It is hard to know what to do, and there seems to be a rule for almost everything. You need a Jedi Master to help you not mess up.
The Origami Yoda books take place at McQuarrie Middle School, where an oddball named Dwight shows up with an origami puppet in the form of Yoda himself! Dwight (or should I say Yoda?) gives Jedi-quality advice in all sorts of situations. His friends Tommy, Kellen, and others are making a case file to decide if Origami Yoda uses the mysterious “force,” or if Dwight is not who they thought he was. Filled with Harvey’s “scientific explanations for what happened” and Kellen’s drawings, this realistic fiction book is great for anyone who is looking for a quick laugh.
In the Jedi Academy books, however, Roan Novachez of Tatooine doesn’t need a puppet for advice. He has our little green friend (Yoda) as a teacher! Roan is rejected from pilot school, his only dream in life. Things aren’t looking too good. Then a letter arrives from the elusive Jedi Academy on Coroscant, accepting Roan into Jedi training. All the other kids have been in Jedi Academy since they were younger, so Roan gets made fun of by the class bullies. He has a hard time with classes, doesn’t really fit in at first, and is just kind of lost.
Overall . . .
Origami Yoda is easy to read, extremely funny, and talks about realistic kids. I immensely enjoy this series and read it over and over again. The plot follows the episodes of Star Wars a little more. Jedi Academy more accurately describes bullies, tough classes, and fitting in with others kids. Actually set in the Star Wars galaxy, this series depicts the creatures and customs of movies.
What do you think: Does a puppet sound good, or does having Yoda as a teacher appeal more?
STARS OF BUNK’D HOST DISNEY CHANNEL’S “MONSTOBER!”
The cast of BUNK’D will host “Monstober,” the month-long Halloween celebration on Disney Channel, beginning Thursday, October 1. Here are some of the events happening during Monstober!
FRIDAY, OCTOBER 2 at 8:00 p.m. Jessie
“The Ghostess with the Mostest” – When Jessie makes the Ross kids bring Stuart along for trick-or-treating, he tells them a haunting story about Abigail, a ghost who is out to get them. One by one, the kids mysteriously disappear. Then, Jessie attends a masquerade party and falls for a mysterious boy. Guest starring Austin North and Sarah Gilman from I Didn’t Do It. 8:30 p.m. Girl Meets World
“Girl Meets World of Terror 2″ – Riley and Maya meet the ghost of the bay window, who happens to be a flapper girl from the 1920s. Guest starring Austin & Ally‘s Ross Lynch and Laura Marano. 9:00 p.m. I Didn’t Do It
“Bite Club” – When Logan and Delia go to NY for a Science Presentation as Marie Antoinette and Albert Einstein, they run into Trish and Dez and a crazy fortune teller at the city’s biggest Halloween party. Meanwhile, Betty enlists Garrett to take her nephew Kevin trick-or-treating, and the two turn the tradition into a major candy scam. Guest starring Austin & Ally‘s Raini Rodriguez and Calum Worthy. 9:25 p.m. Mickey Mouse
“Black and White” – Mickey attempts to save face in front of Minnie after he’s scared as white as a ghost.
SUNDAY, OCTOBER 4 at 8:00 p.m. K.C. Undercover
“All Howl’s Eve” – Ernie and Judy must travel to NYC for the Central Park Spooktacular to intercept an evil wolf serum, but their mission is interrupted when they run into Emma and Zuri at the party. Meanwhile, Marisa and K.C. throw their own Halloween bash back at the house, and K.C. decides to dress up as a spy to impress the new boy in school, River. Guest starring Peyton List and Skai Jackson from Jessie and BUNK’D. 8:30 p.m. Best Friends Whenever
“Cyd and Shelby’s Haunted Escape” – Cyd and Shelby use Barry’s new invention to teleport themselves to NYC’s Central Park Spooktacular and wind up getting trapped in a haunted house with Riley and Lucas. Guest starring Rowan Blanchard and Peyton Meyer from Girl Meets World. 9:00 p.m. Austin & Ally
“Scary Spirits & Spooky Stories” – While visiting New York, the group attends the Central Park Spooktacular party, which inspires them to tell their own scary stories. Guest starring K.C. Undercover‘s Kamil McFadden and Trinitee Stokes. 9:30 p.m. Liv & Maddie
“Haunt-A-Rooney” – Maddie and Willow prepare for “Senior Scare,” a Ridgewood tradition where the high school seniors scare the middle schoolers. Meanwhile, when Joey and Liv are at the Central Park Spooktacular, Liv falls into a precarious predicament with a photographer. In an effort to fix the mishap and create a diversion, Liv enlists her fans, Cyd and Shelby, to help pull off a flash mob. Guest starring Best Friends Whenever‘s Landry Bender & Lauren Taylor.
FRIDAY, OCTOBER 9 at 8:00 p.m. Invisible Sister
This Disney Channel Original Movie follows science prodigy Cleo, whose class experiment turns her popular sister and star athlete, Molly, invisible. With the help of Cleo’s best friend and fellow science enthusiast, George; and her crush, Carter; Molly’s boyfriend, The Coug; and her best friend and teammate, Nikki; the sisters race against the clock on Halloween to find the antidote to reverse Molly’s invisibility before it becomes permanent. Starring Rowan Blanchard (Girl Meets World), Paris Berelc (Mighty Med), Karan Brar (BUNK’D, Jessie), Rachel Crow (X Factor), Will Meyers (Bella and the Bulldogs) and Austin Fryberger (Kirby Buckets).
SUNDAY, OCTOBER 11 at 8:00 p.m. Monsters University
FRIDAY, OCTOBER 23 at 6:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m. MAL-OWEEN marathon Liv & Maddieepisodes and encore presentations ofDescendants, the Descendants: Set It Off! special and Descendants: Wicked World animated shorts.
THURSDAY, OCTOBER 31 at 9:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m.
Spooks & Chills marathon featuring encore presentations of Halloween-themed episodes.
The Proust Questionnaire dates back to the parlor room fad of the “confession album,” popularized in late-nineteenth-century England, in which individuals, families, strangers, and the occasional ill-mannered first date answered a series of questions, which inevitably revealed a bevy of his/her/their aspirations, fantasies, and personal tastes. Earning its current moniker via the series of sophisticated (and yes, Proustian)responses provided by the author in two recorded versions (dated 1885/86 and 1890/91, respectively), the mental survey accrued further cultural currency when it was included as form of celebrity confessional in the back pages of the American magazine Vanity Fair. To celebrate the debut of her first book The Dead Ladies Project: Exiles, Expats, and Ex-Countries, we asked writer and editor Jessa Crispin to let us crawl along with her to the recesses of her mind to give you a taste of what makes her tick and let you know why she’s one of the sharpest interlocutors of contemporary art and lit around today. Not playing favorites or anything, but you can read Proust’s and—for fun and karmic resolution—Norman Mailer’s responses via hyperlinks. Read Crispin’s in full below.
Your favorite virtue:
I have been using the Minchiate tarot for a while, and for a while almost every day I was drawing the virtue card “Faith” as my card for the day. And man, I hated her, with her dreamy, delusional, silly oh everything is sure to get better vibe. I don’t like to be challenged on my “everything is fucking terrible” point of view. But she’s growing on me.
Your favorite qualities in a man:
Your favorite qualities in a woman:
Your chief characteristic:
What you appreciate the most in your friends:
I’ve been crazy blessed with friends. Brilliant fuckers, all of them. I am constantly inspired by all of them, and most everything I write starts as a conversation with one of them. But beyond their brilliance, they are all compassionate, warm people, and I don’t know what I did to deserve so many of them and of such high quality.
Your main fault:
My appetites are enormous.
Your favorite occupation:
The love of my life, Honeybee, makes candy. (Whimsical candy! It is delicious and available online!) Her kitchen was four blocks from my apartment in Chicago, so she would bring over rejected candy. Nougat that was too soft, scraps from caramel, marshmallows that didn’t set properly. She thinks of ways to make people feel like kids again, basically. She has a good job.
Your idea of happiness:
Baby elephant gifs and the sounds that camels make.
A friend just texted me my answer, though: “opera tickets for tomorrow night in a foreign city.” And this is also true.
Your idea of misery:
An unmoving train or plane.
If not yourself, who would you be?
I am quite enjoying being myself. I don’t think I would trade it in. Unless I could be a baby elephant.
Where would you like to live?
Oh babe, if I had an answer to this question, it would be a very different life I’d be leading.
Your favorite color and flower:
I am growing a collection of poisonous plants in my garden right now, so let’s say Foxglove, Datura, and Belladonna. They are awfully pretty and they will definitely kill you.
I am an adult, though, and so I do not have a favorite color.
Your favorite bird (NB addition, c. 1891):
The one specific blackbird who lived in the birch tree outside my Berlin apartment.
He’s probably dead by now, though. I don’t know the lifespan of the average urban blackbird.
Your favorite prose authors:
Oh my jesus god. The thought of answering this question exhausts me, I have to go lie under the rug now. Okay, my report from under the rug: Henry James will always be my spinster king. My love for him will always be fiercer than for anyone else. But also, all the writers in my book, plus Helen Garner, Rebecca Brown, Kathryn Davis, James Baldwin, Shalom Auslander, Shirley Jackson, Elizabeth Bowen, JG Farrell, oh look I found a quarter under here.
Your favorite poets:
Lately I’ve been reading Rachel Wetzsteon a lot. Also recently discovered June Jordan, and wow. But also: Anne Carson, Hoa Nguyen, Alice Notley, Daphne Gottlieb. It would seem pretentious to say Ovid, but his exile poems are beautiful.
Your favorite heroes in fiction:
All the disappointments to their families, the guys who couldn’t get the girl, the men who couldn’t find their hero’s journey, the men who died of TB before really accomplishing anything.
Michael Servetus, Giordano Bruno, and all of the other heretics. Basically if the State ever set you on fire, I am on your side.
Your favorite heroines in real life:
The women who led the Ferguson protests and #blacklivesmatter. The women who were at the Stonewall riots. The lesbians who took care of the dying men during the AIDS crisis. The women I worked with at pro-choice organizations in Texas who worked hard to make sure women who wanted and needed an abortion had access. Basically every goddamn woman who just continues to do the work that needs to be done, even when they’re forgotten, spoken over, and written out of history.
What characters in history do you most dislike:
Most of the men, really.
Your heroines in world history:
Rosa Luxemburg, Joan of Arc, Louise Michel, Boudica, and all the other women who just got fed up and started setting shit on fire.
Your favorite food and drink:
Oysters and dry martinis.
Your favorite names:
I made up the name Jessa when I was 11 or 12, because I hated my birth name. But, you should know that the list of possible names that I gave full and serious consideration to were Jessa, Crystal, and Sierra. So.
What I hate the most:
My downstairs neighbors’ record collection.
World history characters I hate the most:
The imperial British.
The military event I admire the most:
The moment in the Romanian revolution where the army stopped shooting at protesters and started shooting at the government buildings.
The reform I admire the most:
Whatever reform it was that made crows capable of making and using tools.
The natural talent I’d like to be gifted with:
I wish I had been able to play an instrument, but I was terrible. My hands are like paws, absolutely no articulation or independence of movement. I was forced to try to play the clarinet, but I squawked and squeaked until they asked me to please stop. Plus, how would a person ever choose one instrument to learn and perfect? Out of all possible, how could you ever limit yourself to one? What if twenty years in you realize you chose wrong? Or maybe the instrument chooses you? I admire really good bassoon players, what must their world be like? I think Stravinsky must have, too, he always wrote good parts for bassoons.
How I wish to die:
Did you know that Isak Dinesen died because near the end of her life she refused to eat anything other than white grapes, oysters, and champagne? What a way to go.
What is your present state of mind:
For what fault have you most toleration?
Your favorite motto:
I always thought the idea of “live like each day is your last” is a stupid, selfish way to look at life. Same with, “Follow your bliss.” Your bliss is built on the oppression of others, 98% of the time. Maybe no mottoes. Maybe stop trying to simplify this terrible, amazing, idiotic, beautiful world we live in. Maybe accept the terror of not understanding, of not knowing. Maybe that’s a good place to work from.
(this is not an actual author photo of Jessa Crispin, but a woodcut of
Saint Christina the Astonishing)
To read more about The Dead Ladies Project, click here.
To visit the Bookslut and Spolia, click here and here, respectively.
If you were in a movie, which character would you be?
Every movie has a hero, right? But what about the other characters, like the hilarious sidekick, or the minion, or the person who is the voice of reason when the hero wants to do something crazy? Which one of these characters most fits YOUR personality? Take this quiz to find out!
What is the most important thing do on the weekend? a) Get ready for the next week by doing all your work. b) Tell jokes with your friends. c) Go support your friends in their activities. d) Organize a big fun event for everyone you know.
What would your friends describe you as? a) Prepared for anything. b) Always laughing or making others laugh. c) Easy to get along with. d) A leader.
Your top pick of car to drive is . . . a) a hybrid car that’s better for the environment. b) a clown car to make everyone laugh. c) a minivan so all your friends can fit in it. d) a very cool sports car.
Which power would you like to have? a) The ability to see into the future. b) The ability to make anyone laugh. c) The ability to help everyone around you. d) Super strength.
What’s your favorite thing to do? a) Read a book. b) Be a goofball. c) Hang out with friends. d) Throw a party.
Pick a game. a) Scrabble. b) Bop-it. c) Hide and Seek. d) Simon Says.
Which type of movie is your favorite . . . a) Disney movies. b) Comedies. c) Documentaries about real life stories. d) Action movies.
What do you want to be when you grow up? a) Teacher. b) Comedian. c) House elf. d) Doctor.
Your parents would describe you as. . . a) responsible. b) a prankster. c) a team-player. d) confident.
Which would you rather wear? a) A backpack to carry all your things. b) A funny t-shirt. c) denim overalls. d) A cape.
If you picked mostly A’s, you are the responsible character.
Everyone turns to you for help because you’re always so well-prepared! You like knowing what’s going to happen next, and you are always there to guide others! You like to be organized and sensible. If you could organize everyone else along with you, you’d love it! You are an important character because you help the hero think through his or her ideas before doing something crazy!
If you picked mostly B’s, you are the funny character.
You’re hilarious! You love to make people laugh! No matter what kind of drama is going on, you lighten the mood and keep everyone from getting too serious! Your dream is to be a comedian and make other people laugh all day long! You can be a prankster, but the hero needs you to keep him or her from getting too depressed!
If you picked mostly C’s, you are a minion.
Minions love to follow the leader! You seek out the best leader you can find and stay loyal to him or her. You are an important character because you help the hero complete all the important tasks. Without you – nothing would ever get done!
If you picked mostly D’s, you are a hero.
You have to be in charge when it comes to any situation! Your favorite thing to do is to save the day and keep anything bad from happening to your friends! You are the character in the movie that risks it all to keep everyone else happy! You love to give orders but only to be the greatest hero you can be!
Ketchup and mustard. Batman and Robin. Some things just go together. Like Jack and Annie from The Magic Tree House series. With their time-travelling historical adventures, this series can get you hooked on reading for life!
Book #53 Shadow of the Shark came out this summer, and #54 Balto of the Blue Dawn (about a Siberian husky in 1925 Alaska)is coming out in Jan. 2016. So if you love this dynamic duo, let us know, Would You Rather . . .
1. Be Jack OR Annie?
2. Go to the Amazon rainforest OR ancient Egypt?
3. Be attacked by a dinosaur OR a mummy?
4. Be a passenger on board the Titanic OR a Viking ship?
5. Survive an earthquake in San Francisco OR a tidal wave in Hawaii?
6. Fight in the Revolutionary War OR the Civil War?
7. Pet-sit a cobra OR an emperor penguin?
8. Battle a ninja OR a dragon?
Let us know what YOU guys would rather in the Comments below. And tell us if you have a favorite Magic Tree House book!
Did you know that giraffes, often a very quiet animal, hum in their sleep late at night? Zookeepers involved in the study were even surprised that researchers picked up a low humming noise from their giraffes.
Researchers spent hundreds of hours recording sounds in the giraffe’s enclosures and in each zoo at least one giraffe was separated from the herd.
Although the sound recordings tell us that giraffes do have more vocalization than the grunts and sneezes that keepers hear during the day, now scientists may go further to understand if this is a communication method or if it is involuntary like snoring or talking in your sleep.
Do you want to learn more about giraffes, or animal sounds? Here are two Arbordale books that would be a great start on the topic!
The Giraffe Who was Afraid of Heights
Imagine if the one thing that keeps you safe is what you fear the most. This enchanting story tells of a giraffe who suffers from the fear of heights. His parents worry about his safety and send him to the village doctor for treatment. Along the way he befriends a monkey who is afraid of climbing trees and a hippo who is afraid of water. A life-threatening event causes the three friends to face and overcome each of their fears. The “For Creative Minds” section includes fun facts and animal adaptation information, a match-the-feet game and a mix-n-match activity.
Sounds of the Savanna
From the first light of dawn until the sun sets at night, the savanna is alive with noise. A lion roars in the early morning, a young baboon shrieks to warn others of danger at noon, and a young mouse squeals at dusk. What are the animals saying and why? Animals communicate in many ways; explore the thriving African savanna as its inhabitants “talk” to one another throughout the course of a day.
And…Look forward to next year when we see what really happens at night in the zoo! Midnight Madness at the Zoo coming February 2016!
Appropriated from the Spolia Mag Tumblr, here are some upcoming readings and release events surrounding Jessa Crispin’s The Dead Ladies Project. All are free and open to the public, except where indicated.
The Dead Ladies are going on tour!
September 29, New York
A conversation with Laura Kipnis at Melville House
46 John Street, Brooklyn
October 1, Chicago
Good old-fashioned house party (open to the public) 1926 W Erie
October 5, London
70 Cadogan Place, Knightsbridge
October 12, Paris
Reading, champagne, and launch party
at Berkeley Books
8 Rue Casimir Delavigne
October 15, Leipzig
Cabaret! With opera singer Jennifer Porto! Details T/K
(Image: Maud Gonne. Or me, in my traveling hat, I’m not sure.)
To read more about The Dead Ladies Project, click here.