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1. Books Aren't Dangerous Campaign

 

Do you remember that book that changed your life as a reader, or maybe just your life in general? You do? That’s great! 

 

 

 

Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl, authors of the BEAUTIFUL CREATURES series, have started a campaign called BOOKS AREN’T DANGEROUS. For every picture of a book that uses #BooksArentDangerous, a book will be donated to an underserved school or library!

 

We put our team of staff reviewers to the test and here are some of the pcitures and stories they shared with us to help keep this campaign going. Pictures were shared on social media first with #BooksArentDangerous and then passed along to us here at YABC! 

 

 

 

 

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"Tamora Pierce's books changed my life. Her stories about female knights and their adventures gave me the courage I needed to become the athlete that I am today."--Hannah, Staff Reviewer

 

 

 

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"I picked Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher, because when I read the book, I finally understood how one action can have so much affect. It might seem small, but in reality, it can change things. It can change things for better or worse, but it can change. It taught me to think about my actions and realize that they have an opposite and equal reaction (physics ha!). Even though this book really got me upset (I cried), I think this book truly changed my life and the way I think about what I want to do with my life!"--Nanouk, Staff Reviewer

 

 

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"Storm Siren taught me how to embrace my emotions and not push them away."--Samantha, Staff Reviewer

 

 

 

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"The DUNE series by Frank Herbert was the first series that introduced me to sci-fi as a teen.  I loved the surrealism throughout which spoke to me during a very difficult time of my life.  I have to say this series was a life saver for me."--Kim, Staff Reviewer

 

 

 

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"OUT OF THE SILENT PLANET was the first book to show me that sci-fi can be deeply beautiful, poetic, and profound. I am still in awe of this book, each time I re-read."--Mandy, Staff Reviewer

 

 

 

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"Harry Potter is the reason I'm a reader and a writer. I think it's safe to say I owe the literary life I have now to a boy wizard and his adventures."--Kayla, Blog Manager and Staff Reviewer

 

 

 

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"In the Forests of the Night by Amelia Atwater Rhodes inspired me to write. The author was thirteen when it got published, and so was I. It let me know that you are never too young to start trying to achieve your dreams."--Zoraida, Staff Reviewer 

 

 

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"C.S. Lewis taught me to love stories, and The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe taught me I could escape into them when "real life" was more than I could bear. It was comforting to imagine a magnificent world could be entered through the most mundane of places."  --Angela, Staff Reviewer

 

 

Here at Young Adult Books Central, we love our books. So we are offering a giveaway to help spread the word about this fantastic campaign! Follow the link today and start sharing your #BooksArentDangerous pictures with the world.

 

Interested in the giveaway? Click HERE!

 

**You can find more information about the #BooksArentDangerous campaign HERE.


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2. Press Release Fun: The 2015 Anne Izard Storytellers’ Choice Awards

The Anne Izard Storytellers’ Choice Awards Committee is pleased to announce the recipients of the 12th biennial Awards.  The awards will be presented in a ceremony on Tuesday, June 16, 2015, at the White Plains (New York) Public Library. The program is open to the public.

The Anne Izard Storytellers’ Choice Award was established in 1990 by librarians, storytellers and educators in Westchester County, New York, to honor Anne Izard, an extraordinary librarian, storyteller, and Children’s Services Consultant in the Westchester County Library System. The Award seeks to bring the riches of storytelling to greater public awareness by highlighting and promoting distinguished books on storytelling published for children and adults. Folklore, fiction, biography and historical stories must be entirely successful without consideration of graphic elements. Books which enrich a storyteller’s understanding of story, folk traditions, aesthetics, and methods of storytelling are also eligible. Books considered for the Twelfth Award were original material, reprints, or new English translations published in the United States between January 1, 2013 and December 31, 2014.

Recipients of the 12th Anne Izard Storytellers’ Choice Awards are:

Beyond the Briar Patch : Affrilachian Folktales, Food and Folklore by Lyn Ford [Parkhurst Brothers 2014]

The Boy Who Loved Math by Deborah Heiligman [Roaring Brook Press 2013]

Every Day a Holiday: A Storyteller’s Memoir by Elizabeth Ellis [Parkhurst Brothers 2014]

The Golden Age of Folk & Fairy Tales: From the Brothers Grimm to Andrew Lang by Jack Zipes [Hackett Publishing 2013]

The Grudge Keeper by Mara Rockliff  [Peachtree Publishers 2014]

The King of Little Things by Bil Lepp [Peachtree Publishers  2013]

Mysterious Traveler by Mal Peet and Elspeth Graham [Candlewick Press 2013]

Ol’ Clip Clop: A Ghost Story by Patricia C. McKissack [Holiday House 2013]

Once Upon a Time: A Short History of Fairy Tale by Marina Warner [Oxford University Press 2014]

Story by Story: Creating a Student Storytelling Troupe… by Karen Chace [Parkhurst Brothers 2014]

Teaching with Story by Margaret Read MacDonald, Jennifer MacDonald Whitman and Nathaniel Forest Whitman [August House 2014]

Whiskers, Tails & Wings: Animal Folktales from Mexico by Judy Goldman [Charlesbridge 2013]

You Never Heard of Willie Mays?! by Jonah Winter [Schwartz & Wade Books 2013]

For more information, please contact Tata Canuelas, Chair, at tcanuelas@whiteplainsny.gov,  or  Ellen Tannenbaum, Co-Chair, at storyteller29@gmail.com .

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3. Meet the Dullards

Mr. and Mrs. Dullard want a peaceful, uneventful life for themselves and their three offspring: Blanda, Borely, and Little Dud. And who can blame them? But it has become increasingly difficult to maintain their stress-free life in the wake of recent events. Only last fall, they experienced leaves changing color. And on the day this tongue-in-cheek picture book begins, "an upsetting commotion in the driveway" takes place. To wit, a slug crosses their driveway. As Mr. Dullard observes, "There's never a dull moment."

After catching their three children reading books about the circus, their parents take action and move. In their new home, however, things go from bad to worse. An exclamation-using neighbor brings them applesauce cake make with chunky, not smooth, applesauce, and then the family discovers a brightly colored room in their new digs. (They didn't notice this before they bought the place?) After further adventures at the paint store--where they purchase a customized paint, the color of "oatmeal left in the pot," Mr. and Mrs. Dullard hope to put the horrors of the day behind them by watching paint dry. Blanda, Borely, and Little Dud have other plans, though, and subversively undermine their parents best-laid plans for them.

Readers will be chuckling way before they finish Pennypacker's droll tale of how these two helicopter parents foolishly try to curb a child's natural enthusiasm. And Salmieri's flat, goggly-eyed characters are anything but dull. His portrayal of Mr. and Mrs. Dullard's reaction to the exuberantly painted room is priceless. Meet the Dullards belongs with other classic stories featuring conformist adults, such as Parry Heide's The Shrinking of Treehorn.

Meet the Dullards
By Sara Pennypacker
Illustrations by Daniel Salmieri
Balzer + Bray, 32 pages
Published: March 2015

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4. Poetry Friday


Flickr Creative Commons Photo by Sarah Browning


THE END

Just when the story's getting good,
I must close the book and return it
to the rightful owner.

I have marked up the text a bit:
underlined key phrases,
jotted notes in the margins.

I've dogeared some pages,
left smears of optimism,
streaked whole paragraphs with my tears,

slept with the book under my pillow,
taken it with me everywhere,
thrown it at the wall in frustration (on more than one occasion).

You'd think by now I would have learned to live
with never knowing the ends of these stories.
I have not.

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2015



There are just a few more days of school left, and I am getting ready to say goodbye, in most cases forever, to the people who have been my life for the past 9 months -- this crazy, quirky bunch of students who bloomed late, but bloomed GLORIOUSLY.

Matt has the Poetry Friday Roundup at Radio, Rhythm & Rhyme.



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5. When I Were A Lad We Had Us Our Imaginations, Books and Comics T'match


 http://www.littlewhitecrow.co.uk/img/381.jpg














 http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/c/cd/Professor_Branestawm.jpg
 Embedded image permalink


I think that something I wrote was miss-read.

I have always, since the 1970s and always will, promote and support independent comic creators, film and authors.  I simply do not have enough time to read a prose book but, Jeremy, if a prose book is sent to me along with PR, etc., I will mention it -fantasy, Science fiction, horror, books that encourage kids and others to learn to draw or get into crafting/modelling.

In past posts I have mentioned prose books so you must have missed those posts.  Also, books can only be mentioned if they arrive through my letter box because, again, I do not have the time to trawl the internet going "Ooh! I'll mention that one!"

Pete, Chris and Steve: I really, really do not care. If you think Blogger and Google+ are faking stats complain.  My blog stats are not "phenomenally high" -I'm guessing you just have not been looking at other blogs.  Sigh. Go back to your own blogs which were last up-dated 6, 5 and 1 year ago. Honestly.

Warum ist es, fair, ehrlich und wahrhaftig und behandlung von menschen mit respekt bekommt man nichts als eimer scheiße?

 Now you may ask what those images are doing at the top of this page?  Well, as a youngster (yes, I was a youngster once) I used to love the odd, quirky books with Mrs Pepperpot who seemed to shrink at the most awkward moments or Professor Branestawm with his Heath Robinson designed contraptions (and, no, big fan of Harry Hill but that BBC adaption with him as Branestawm -AWFUL) -made young minds think and if you had imaginations they encouraged that.

I was a bit down on Grandpa In My Pocket as a publication.  However, I think I had my "comic hat" on. In fact, I think that with the free toys -as seen on the cover above- it is a good successor to Pepperpot and Branestawm.  In fact, "Grandpa" gets up to a lot of things we used to imagine as kids.





http://childrensbookshop.com/images/bookimages/91/91788.jpg

We need more to encourage creativity in kids -whether building little table top villages out of cardboard boxes or...well, take a look at The Childrens Own Wonder Book above.  It is from the mid-1950s and, amongst the illustrated stories by Enid Blyton, Eric Joysmith et al there are things like "Bird Migration" and "Talking Of Butterflies" but, most important, things could make with their own hands such as:

Simple Puppets
Bamboo Pipes
Party Games
How To Make A Model Glider
How To Make A Model Racing Car  and
Pencil and Paper Games



Seriously, it's what we used to do. I made my Plastacine figures -characters from comics of course, and when my gran offered me the tall, cardboard box that the new Hoover came in it became the Baxter Building: windows cut into it, 'floors' and so on.
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 Every-so-often you might get card cut out figures or small scenes -a 'mountain' with a climber and so on.

Now parents spend £10 or more on a plastic 3 3/4" action figure of Iron Man or some other character. I understand these are more permanent in young hands but the enjoyment in making and playing with your own is something you never forget -and it's a skill.

Kids need to be encouraged to read from an early age -it's just a pity there are no comics covering pre-school to 11 years of age apart from The Dandy which does NOT cover what kids really like.  For three days in a row I have seen nursery and pre-school kids wearing Spider-Man, Batman and other super hero clothes.  One little lad with his father scootered past me today singing "Batman, Batman, Batman" and last week, same situation, he was singing Spider-Man repeatedly.

My Great Nephews are 3 and 4 years of age and are super hero mad  (Yes, I really do fear for my comic collection when they get older!) as are a great many others.  Where are the comics covering that genre for pre-school to 11 years?

Some publisher is losing out on money here!


If you don't try you never know and, sadly, magazine publishers simply do not seem to be interested these days!


When I grew up, of course, I still loved the odd and weird in books and John Creasy and his Dr Palfrey ("Sap" =Stanilaus Alexander Palfrey) of Z5, an intelligence department that, in the 1950s-1980s became a world intelligence organisation.  The Drought, The Plague Of Silence, The Flood, The Unbegotten -I could go on...why did I never just write prose?

But that's another post!

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6. Book Review: Get in Trouble by Kelly Link

From Goodreads:
 In “The Summer People,” a young girl in rural North Carolina serves as uneasy caretaker to the mysterious, never-quite-glimpsed visitors who inhabit the cottage behind her house. In “I Can See Right Through You,” a middle-aged movie star makes a disturbing trip to the Florida swamp where his former on- and off-screen love interest is shooting a ghost-hunting reality show. In “The New Boyfriend,” a suburban slumber party takes an unusual turn, and a teenage friendship is tested, when the spoiled birthday girl opens her big present: a life-size animated doll.

Hurricanes, astronauts, evil twins, bootleggers, Ouija boards, iguanas, The Wizard of Oz, superheroes, the Pyramids...These are just some of the talismans of an imagination as capacious and as full of wonder as that of any writer today. But as fantastical as these stories can be, they are always grounded in sly humor and an innate generosity of feeling for the frailty--and the hidden strengths--of human beings. In Get in Trouble, this one-of-a-kind talent expands the boundaries of what short fiction can do.
 
Writing
One of my regrets is that when a book is this well written and this enjoyable to read, I have less to say about it than if I had issues.  My reviews for amazing books are always much shorter than my reviews for bad books.  That said, this is gonna be super short.  It's amazing.  Exactly the kind of short story I love to read.  Echoes of Karen Russell and George Saunders all over the place, but still in her own unique voice.  I can't get enough of this type of short story - based in reality and focused on every day emotions and situations but always with a bizarre, sometimes magical, twist.  It's just beautifully done and full of gorgeous language, but never too wordy or descriptive.

Entertainment Value
Again, I couldn't put it down.  I loved every story in here.  I started to try to list my favorites and realized that I just can't - I felt like every story in here was a winner.  Once again, not much to say beyond the fact that I found it enthralling and enchanting.

Overall
In 2008 I gave Link's collection Stranger Things Happen.  My preferences have evolved dramatically since then, beginning with my reading of Tenth of December two years ago, so I immediately placed a hold on this and Link's other collections.  I'm anxious to see how my response will differ now from eight years ago when I criticized it for being "weird".  Now that "weird" is one of my go-to indicators of a good book, I think I'll be re-rating it on Goodreads.

I think this one is going to appeal to those who like the works of Russell and Saunders, to fans of magical realism, to fans of the weird and twisted, and to those who love a well-written short story.  Avoid if you're looking for real-life situations, but give it a try if you're interested in real-life feelings but can take a bit of the weird along with it.

Thanks to NetGalley for providing me with a copy to review.

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7. We're Bringing BEA to YOU! #YAparty Giveaways!

IN HONOR OF BEA 2015 WELCOME TO THE #YAPARTY on Twitter!!!!   LIZA, HANNAH & ANDYE CORDIALLY INVITE YOU TO ATTEND THE #YAPARTY WHERE: Your couch, BEA, the mall, your bed ... anywhere you can access Twitter means you're at the party! WHEN: May 28, 2015, 8-11 PM EST Please tweet during those hours! But . . . If you won't be around during that time, we recommend scheduling

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8. Happy Birthday, John Flanagan!


My original plan was to do an "on this day" post, and there have been some interesting events in history on May 22( the Greeks beat the Persians, it was the start of the Wars of the Roses - even if you don't know what those were, I bet you'll know Game Of Thrones, which was inspired by them). And there were some interesting birthdays, such as Laurence Olivier and that awful man Richard Wagner.

But when I went looking for writers, I discovered that the wonderful John Flanagan celebrates his seventieth birthday today!

I remember hearing him talk about his first Ranger's Apprentice novel at a centre for Youth Literature event. Hmm, I thought, sounds interesting, but I didn't check it out for a while after that.



When I finally did get around to it, I was sorry I hadn't read the books earlier.

The Ranger's Apprentice, in case you haven't read these books, is a delightful series set in an alternative Middle Ages. In this world, women can do a lot of things they couldn't do in our world at that time and people drink coffee and tomatoes are around in "Europe".  And a boy called Will, who is small and really not much good at fighting gets a job as an apprentice to Ranger Halt, who is a likeable rogue, who managed to start up a program for breeding ponies for his colleagues in the Rangers by stealing some breeding stock from this world's Mongols.

There is a spinoff series set in Skandia, this world's Viking lands, about a bunch of boys nobody picked in the annual Brotherband trials, but who ended up winning the competition because their leader, Hal, is smart and an inventor.

The books are funny and serious at the same time and both series suggest that you don't have to be a big hulking knight to make it in the world (though Will's best friend is a big hulking knight, Horace).

Raise your mug of coffee to John Flanagan, creator of this delicious universe! And, sorry, Americans, he's ours! An Aussie!

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9. Reflecting: What kind of writer am I?

Before you plan to ask your students to reflect on the kinds of writers they are (for their end-of-year self-assessments), be sure you ask yourself "What kind of writer am I?"

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10. This might have been out of place

This might have been out of place in the last post so....

Pete, Chris and Steve: I really, really do not care. If you think Blogger and Google+ are faking stats complain.  My blog stats are not "phenomenally high" -I'm guessing you just have not been looking at other blogs.  Sigh. Go back to your own blogs which were last up-dated 6, 5 and 1 year ago. Honestly.

Warum ist es, fair, ehrlich und wahrhaftig und behandlung von menschen mit respekt bekommt man nichts als eimer scheiße?

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11. How Do Award Judges Feel About the Books They Were Unable to Honor?

Best YA and Middle-Grade novels selected by Pete Hautman. His latest book is Eden West, the story of a boy growing up in an isolated doomsday cult in Montana.

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12. The Secret (Actually Forgotten) Origins Of The Special Globe Guard

Published by Martin Kelter Verlag, based in Duneburg, Germany (surprise!) the Checkpart series was a sub-series of futuristic thrillers. The subtitle was: World Super Crime 2000 or Checkpart Mit Dem Special Globe Guard Team.  The series itself was conceived by Kurt Brand. Published between 1970 and 1972  there were 54 of these 66 paged (double columned) prose stories.  

The series consisted of 54 booklets with the cover price of  90 Pfg, but at  issue 44 it rose 10 pfg to 1.00 DM. 

So, you might ask:"How do you have issues 151 and 153 then?"  Good question163 stories in the series -the ones I have are right toward the end of the run. A trifle brusque, but good question. You see, there were 54 issues featuring the SGG but as I mentioned, they were a sub-series that started in Kelter Krimi Nr. 57 with "Top Und Das Killer-Girl"  ("Top And The Killer Girl") by Torsten Reschke.


Got it? Good.


At the top of the posting you'll see the original title banner with World Super Crime 2000 and, below, the later banner with Mit Dem Special Globe Guard Team.




 

Nr. 153 "Ein Fuchs wie Aso Tokyo" ("A Fox Like Aso Tokyo")  by Konrad Schaef-another British actor but I cannot remember his name. Neither of the films these stills are taken from  have been on TV for a long time. 


I love the stills from movies used to sell the books -no doubt to attract the eye from all the other publishers' titles that used to fill news vendors shelves.  There was Richard Widmark, Adam West, Kirk Douglas, Lee Marvin, Jeff Bridges, David McCallum -you can list the movies the stills were taken from all day!

And, out of pure boredom I thought I'd check the interwebby-thing and see what I could find. Nothing. But then I thought why not use an old German publisher guide. Just a brief mention and then -SF Hefte Deutschland: BINGO!

Covers and numbers of all the books. And now you, too, can check out the covers (I know I'm going to):


Now, I can see you sat there and thinking "What has THIS got to do with the post title??"

Okay, a trifle brusque -again- and wanting things explained too quickly but, probably, a legitimate question (I need to change these tablets I'm taking).

Well, in the mid-1980s I thought that I needed a central body that a rotating team of characters could feature in. I had smaller groups of heroes -The Crime Club, Anti-Crime Squad, Crime Busters UK (a team that very nearly made it into a Fleetway comic!) and so on.  Global Guardians had featured elsewhere and I almost plumped for my old 1970s Legion of Law Enforcers -which kinda still gets used- but then I thought "Special Globe Guard" -excellent! 

As I had bought and read those two Kelter Krimis more than a decade before I had forgotten them. In fact, I have no memory of whether I thought "That's a good name I can use" or thought it was my original idea. Look, I am very, very old. But it stuck.

So when in (I think) 1987 I wrote and pencilled "Earth Scream" I used the SGG -an excellent UK artist, John P. Britton inked over my pencils (that makes him a saint!) and Ben Dilworth lettered.  It looks pretty rough now but I still love the team and story (parts 2-4 are lost thanks to a Fleetway editor).

The SGG were, of course, the vanguard in defence of Earth in Return Of The Gods: Twilight Of The Super Heroes -some giving their lives.

But this ramble would not be complete (unless I forget) withought a few of those original 1980s pages -IF blogger allows them to be shown.

Enjoy.
 











ALL artwork/characters (c)2014 Terry Hooper-Scharf & Black Tower Comics & Books

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13. Interview and Giveaway: The End of Innocence by Allegra Jordan

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Good morning, Allegra!  Describe yourself in five words or less.

[Allegra Jordan] A generative, generous listener.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What’s one thing you won’t leave home without?

[Allegra Jordan]  Nothing. One of my greatest joys is walking outside and being fully present in nature.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Name three things on your desk right now.

[Allegra Jordan]  Whale figurine– to remind me to not be like Jonah and run from my calling.

A card from my husband.

“Wisdom cat” small statue – a cat that is sitting like a Buddha statue – reminds me to be centered.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What’s your favorite snack when you’re working on a deadline?

[Allegra Jordan]  Skinny girl popcorn with a dusting of shredded parmesan cheese. After I finish working on a big deadline, a St. Germain/Chopin Vodka martini with a twist of lemon – DELISH, but not more than one per week. It’s a treat, not a lifestyle.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If you could trade places with anyone for just one day, who would you be?

[Allegra Jordan]  Marguerite Barankitse, the Angel of Burundi. She started Maison Shalom as a house of peace after a brutal massacre in her village. She has helped raise 30,000 people, including 10,000 children. I would love to know how she thinks about unbearable realities – because she really has changed a lot of things we thought never could be changed or done!

 

End of Innocence

By Allegra Jordan

Sourcebooks Landmark

Historical Fiction

May 1, 2015

ISBN: 9781492609933

$14.99 Trade Paperback

About the Book

In this enthralling story of love, loss, and divided loyalties, two students fall in love on the eve of WWI and must face a world at war—from opposing sides.

Cambridge, MA, 1914: Helen Windship Brooks, the precocious daughter of the prestigious Boston family, is struggling to find herself at the renowned Harvard-Radcliffe university when carefree British playboy, Riley Spencer, and his brooding German poet-cousin, Wils Brandl, burst into her sheltered world. As Wils quietly helps the beautiful, spirited Helen navigate Harvard, they fall for each other against a backdrop of tyrannical professors, intellectual debates, and secluded boat rides on the Charles River.

But with foreign tensions mounting and the country teetering on the brink of World War I, German-born Wils finds his future at Harvard—and in America—increasingly in danger. When both cousins are called to fight on opposing sides of the same war, Helen must decide if she is ready to fight her own battle for what she loves most.

Based on the true story behind a mysterious and controversial World War I memorial at this world-famous university, The End of Innocence sweeps readers from the elaborate elegance of Boston’s high society to Harvard’s hallowed halls to Belgium’s war-ravaged battlefields, offering a powerful and poignant vision of love and hope in the midst of a violent, broken world.

Purchase Here:

END OF INNOCENCE

Amazon | B&N | BAM | IndieBound

About the Author

Allegra Jordan is a writer and global innovation consultant. A graduate with honors of Harvard Business School, she led marketing at USAToday.com for four years and has taught innovation in sixteen countries and five continents.

Connect with Allegra Jordan

Website – http://allegrajordan.com/

Twitter – https://twitter.com/allegrajordan1

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/allegrajordanauthorpage

Goodreads – https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6590524.Allegra_Jordan

Praise for End of Innocence

“This engaging debut from Jordan tells the love story of two college students who pursue their romance as World War I begins.”

“Jordan does a terrific job of contrasting the superficial formalities of the initial chapters depicting New England social life with the grueling realities of life in the trenches. Also on display is her knack for taking what at first seem like throwaway or background details and making them central to the story’s last third…”

“A thoughtful look at a turning point in world history.”

Helen is a sympathetic and complicated main character. Her strengths and weaknesses keep the reader’s attention, making this a worthwhile read.” – Kirkus

“A thoughtful work that offers an interesting perspective on the period.” – Booklist

“Reminiscent of Jacqueline Winspear’s Maise Dobbs books without the mystery, this novel explores the complications involved when war becomes personal. Jordan builds empathetic characters and an intriguing story. Library Journal ” – Library Journal

“Allegra Jordan’s The End of Innocence is a moving ode to a lost generation. With lyrical prose and rich historical detail, Jordan weaves a tale in which love overcomes fear, hope overcomes despair, and the indelible human spirit rises up to embrace renewal and reconciliation in the face of loss and destruction.” – Allison Pataki, New York Times bestselling author of The Traitor’s Wife

“Love in a time of war….surely there is no more compelling or romantic theme in all of literature Yet this fine debut novel appeals to the brain as well as the heart. Allegra Jordan brings us historical fiction at its best.” – Lee Smith, New York Times bestselling author of Guests on Earth and The Last Girls

“A delicious, well-crafted historical novel.” – Daniel Klein, NYT best-selling co-author of PLATO and A PLATYPUS WALKS INTO A BAR

“Downton Abbey has found a brilliant successor in this spellbinding tale of love, death, and war. The finest war fiction to be published in many years.” – Jonathan W. Jordan, bestselling author of Brothers, Rivals, Victors

“An exquisitely beautiful novel.” – William Ferris, UNC-Chapel Hill professor and former chair of the National Endowment for the Humanities

Excerpt from END OF INNOCENCE

Harvard Yard

Wednesday, August 26, 1914

It was said that heroic architects didn’t fare well in Harvard Yard. If you wanted haut monde, move past the Johnston Gate, preferably to New York. The Yard was Boston’s: energetic, spare, solid.

The Yard had evolved as a collection of buildings, each with its own oddities, interspersed among large elm trees and tracts of grass. The rich red brickwork of Sever Hall stood apart from the austere gray of University Hall. Appleton Chapel’s Romanesque curves differed from the gabled turrets of Weld and the sharp peaks of Matthews. Holworthy, Hollis, and Stoughton were as plain as the Pilgrims. Holden Chapel, decorated with white cherubs above its door and tucked in a corner of the Yard, looked like a young girl’s playhouse. The red walls of Harvard and Massachusetts halls, many agreed, could be called honest but not much more. The massive new library had been named for a young man who went down on the Titanic two years before. There were those who would’ve had the architect trade tickets with the young lad. At least the squat form, dour roofline, and grate of Corinthian columns did indeed look like a library.

The Yard had become not a single building demanding the attention of all around it but the sum of its parts: its many irregular halls filled with many irregular people. Taken together over the course of nearly three hundred years, this endeavor of the Puritans was judged a resounding success by most. In fact, none were inclined to think higher of it than those forced to leave Harvard, such as the bespectacled Wilhelm von Lützow Brandl, a senior and the only son of a Prussian countess, at that hour suddenly called to return to Germany.

A soft rain fell in the Yard that day, but Wils seemed not to notice. His hands were stuffed in his trouser pockets; his gait slowed as the drops dampened his crested jacket, spotted his glasses, and wilted his starched collar. The dying elms, bored to their cores by a plague of leopard moths, provided meager cover.

He looked out to the Yard. Men in shirtsleeves and bowler hats carried old furniture and stacks of secondhand books into their dormitories. This was where the poor students lived. But the place had a motion, an energy. These Americans found no man above them except that he prove it on merit, and no man beneath them except by his own faults. They believed that the son of a fishmonger could match the son of a count and proved it with such regularity that an aristocrat like Wils feared for the future of the wealthy class.

He sighed, looking over the many faces he would never know. Mein Gott. He ran his hands through his short blond hair. I’ll miss this.

His mother had just wired demanding his return home. He pulled out the order from his pocket and reread it. She insisted that for his own safety he return home as soon as possible. She argued that Boston had been a hotbed of intolerance for more than three hundred years, and now news had reached Berlin that the American patriots conspired to send the German conductor of the Boston Symphony to a detention camp in the state of Georgia. That city was no place for her son.

She was understandably distressed, although he was certain the reports in Germany made the situation sound worse than it was. The papers there would miss that Harvard was welcoming, for instance. If the front door at Harvard was closed to a student due to his race, class, or nationality, inevitably a side door opened and a friend or professor would haul him back inside by his collar. Once a member of the club, always a member.

But Boston was a different matter. Proud, parochial, and hostile, Boston was a suspicious place filled with suspicious people. It was planned even in pre-Revolutionary times to convey-down to the last missing signpost-“If you don’t know where you are in Boston, what business do you have being here?” And they meant it. Wils kept his distance from Boston.

Wils crumpled the note in his hand and stuffed it into his pocket, then walked slowly to his seminar room in Harvard Hall, opened the door, and took an empty seat at the table just as the campus bell tolled.

The room was populated with twenty young men, their books, and a smattering of their sports equipment piled on the floor behind their chairs. After three years together in various clubs, classes, or sports, they were familiar faces. Wils recognized the arrogant mien of Thomas Althorp and the easy confidence of John Eliot, the captain of the football team. Three others were in the Spee Club, a social dining group Wils belonged to. One was a Swede, the other two from England.

The tiny, bespectacled Professor Charles Townsend Copeland walked to the head of the table. He wore a tweed suit and a checked tie and carried a bowler hat in his hand along with his notes. He cast a weary look over them as he placed his notes on the oak lectern.

The lectern was new with an updated crest, something that seemed to give Copeland pause. Wils smiled as he watched his professor ponder it. The crest was carved into the wood and painted in bright gold, different from those now-dulled ones painted on the backs of the black chairs in which they sat. The old crest spoke of reason and revelation: two books turned up, one turned down. The latest version had all three books upturned. Apparently you could-and were expected to-know everything by the time you left Harvard.

It would take some time before the crest found its way into all the classrooms and halls. Yankees were not ones to throw anything out, Wils had learned. He had been told more than once that two presidents and three generals had used this room and the chairs in which they sat. Even without this lore, it still wasn’t easy to forget such lineage, as the former occupants had a way of becoming portraits on the walls above, staring down with questioning glares. They were worthy-were you?

Professor Copeland called the class to order with a rap at the podium. “You are in Advanced Composition. If you intend to compose at a beginning or intermediate level, I recommend you leave.”

He then ran through the drier details of the class. Wils took few notes, having heard this speech several times before.

“In conclusion,” Copeland said, looking up from his notes, “what wasn’t explained in the syllabus is a specific point of order with which Harvard has not dealt in some time. This seminar started with thirty-two students. As you see, enrollment is now down to twenty, and the registrar has moved us to a smaller room.

“This reduction is not due to the excellent quality of instruction, which I can assure you is more than you deserve. No. This new war calls our young men to it like moths to the flame. And as we know moths are not meant to live in such impassioned conditions, and we can only hope that the war’s fire is extinguished soon.

“If you do remain in this class, and on this continent, I expect you to write with honesty and clarity. Organize your thoughts, avoid the bombastic, and shun things you cannot possibly know.

“Mr. Eliot, I can ward off sleep for only so long when you describe the ocean’s tide. Mr. Brandl, you will move me beyond the comfort of tearful frustration if you write yet another essay about something obscure in Plato. Mr. Althorp, your poems last semester sounded like the scrapings of a novice violinist. And Mr. Goodwin, no more discourses on Milton’s metaphors. It provokes waves of acid in my stomach that my doctor says I can no longer tolerate.”

Wils had now heard the same tirade for three years and the barbs no longer stung. As Copeland rambled, Wils’s mind wandered back to the telegram in his pocket. Though a dutiful son, he wanted to argue against his mother’s demands, against duty, against, heaven forbid, the philosophy of Kant. His return to Germany would be useless. The situation was not as intolerable as his mother believed. These were his classmates. He had good work to accomplish. The anti-German activity would abate if the war were short-and everyone said it would be.

“Brandl!” Copeland was standing over him.

“Sir?”

“Don’t be a toad. Pay attention.”

“Yes, sir.”

“Come to Hollis 15 after class, Mr. Brandl.”

Thomas snickered. “German rat.”

Wils cast a cold stare back.

When the Yard’s bell tolled the hour, Professor Copeland closed his book and looked up at the class. “Before you go-I know some of you may leave this very day to fight in Europe or to work with the Red Cross. Give me one last word.”

His face, stern for the past hour of lecturing, softened. He cleared his throat. “As we have heard before and will hear again, there is loss in this world, and we shall feel it, if not today, then tomorrow, or the week after that. That is the way of things. But there is also something equal to loss that you must not forget. There is an irrepressible renewal of life that we can no more stop than blot out the sun. This is a good and encouraging thought.

“Write me if you go to war and tell me what you see. That’s all for today.” And with that the class was dismissed.

* * *

Wils opened the heavy green door of Hollis Hall and dutifully walked up four flights of steps to Professor Copeland’s suite. He knocked on a door that still bore the arms of King George III. Copeland, his necktie loosened at the collar, opened the door.

“Brandl. Glad I saw you in class. We need to talk.”

“Yes, Professor. And I need your advice on something as well.”

“Most students do.” The professor ushered Wils inside.

The smell of stale ash permeated the room. The clouds cast shadows into the sitting area around the fireplace. Rings on the ceiling above the glass oil lamps testified to Copeland’s refusal of electricity for his apartment. The furniture-a worn sofa and chairs-bore the marks of years of students’ visits. A pitcher of water and a scotch decanter stood on a low table, an empty glass beside them.

Across the room by the corner windows, Copeland had placed a large desk and two wooden chairs. Copeland walked behind the desk, piled high with news articles, books, and folders, and pointed Wils to a particularly weathered chair in front of him, in which rested a stack of yellowing papers, weighted by a human skull of all things. Copeland had walked by it as if it were a used coffee cup.

“One of ours?” asked Brandl, as he moved the skull and papers respectfully to the desk.

The severe exterior of Copeland’s face cracked into a smile. “No. I’m researching Puritans. They kept skulls around. Reminded them to get on with it. Not dawdle. Fleeting life and all.”

“Oh yes. ‘Why grin, you hollow skull-‘”

“Please keep your Faust to yourself, Wils. But I do need to speak to you on that subject.”

“Faust?”

“No, death,” said Copeland. His lips tightened as he seemed to be weighing his words carefully. His face lacked any color or warmth now. “Well, more about life before death.”

“Mine?” asked Wils.

“No. Maximilian von Steiger’s life before his death.”

“What the devil? Max…he, he just left for the war. He’s dead?”

Copeland leaned toward him across the desk. “Yes, Maximilian von Steiger is dead. And no, he didn’t leave. Not in the corporeal sense. All ocean liners bound for Germany have been temporarily held, pending the end of the conflict in Europe.”

Wils’s eyes met Copeland’s. “What do you mean?”

“Steiger was found dead in his room.”

“Fever?”

“Noose.”

Wils’s eyes stung. His lips parted, but no sound came out. “You are sure?”

As Copeland nodded, Wils suddenly felt nauseous, his collar too tight. He had known Max nearly all his life. They lived near each other back in Prussia; they attended the same church and went to the same schools. Their mothers were even good friends. Wils loosened his tie.

“May I have some water, please, Professor?” Wils finally asked in a raspy voice. As Copeland turned his back to him, Wils took a deep breath, pulled out a linen handkerchief, and cleaned the fog from his spectacles.

The professor walked over to a nearby table and poured a glass of water. “How well did you know Max?” he asked, handing the glass to Wils.

He took the tumbler and held it tight, trying to still his shaking hand. “We met at church in Prussia when we were in the nursery. I’ve known him forever.”

“Did you know anything about any gaming debts that he’d incurred?”

Debts? “No.”

“Do you think that gaming debts were the cause of his beating last week?” asked Copeland, sitting back in his desk chair.

Wils moved to the edge of his seat. The prügel? Last Wednesday’s fight flashed into his mind. There had been a heated argument between Max and a very drunk Arnold Archer after dinner at the Spee dining club. Max had called him a coward for supporting the British but not being willing to fight for them. It wasn’t the most sensible thing to do given Archer ran with brawny, patriotic friends. On Thursday at the boathouse Max had received the worst of a fight with Archer’s gang.

“It was a schoolboys’ fight. They were drunk. Max was beaten because Arnold Archer was mad about the Germans beating the British in Belgium. Archer couldn’t fight because America’s neutral, so he hit a German who wouldn’t renounce his country. These fights break out all the time over politics when too much brandy gets in the way. People get over their arguments.”

“Didn’t Max make some nationalistic speech at the Spee Club?”

Wils’s back stiffened in indignation. “If Max had been British it would have gone unnoticed. But because he was German, Archer beat him.” He paused. “Max was going to tell the truth as he knew it, and thugs like Archer weren’t going to stop him.”

Copeland tapped a pencil against his knee. “How well do you think his strategy worked?”

Wils’s eyes widened. “Being beaten wasn’t Max’s fault, Professor. It was the fault of the person who used his fists.”

“Wils, Arnold Archer’s father is coming to see me this evening to discuss the case. His son is under suspicion for Max’s death.”

“I hope Arnold goes to jail.”

“Arnold may not have been involved.”

Wils set the glass down on the wooden desk and stood up. “He’s a pig.”

“Wils, according to Arnold, Max tried to send sensitive information about the Charlestown Navy Yard to Germany.” A faint tinge of pink briefly colored the professor’s cheeks. “Arnold said he knew about this and was going to go to the police. Max may have thought that he would go to jail for endangering the lives of Americans and British citizens. And if what Arnold said was right, then Max may have faced some very serious consequences.”

“America’s not at war.”

The professor didn’t respond.

“Why would Max do such a thing then?” asked Wils curtly.

“Arnold says he was blackmailed because of his gaming debts.”

“What could Max possibly have found? He’s incapable of remembering to brush his hair on most days.”

Copeland threw up his hands, nearly tipping over a stack of books on the desk. “I have no idea. Maybe America’s building ships for England. Maybe we’ve captured a German ship. Apparently he found something. Sometime later, Max was found by his maid, hung with a noose fashioned from his own necktie. His room was a wreck.” Copeland looked at him intently. “And now the police don’t know if it was suicide or murder. Arnold might have wanted to take matters into his own hands-as he did the other night after the Spee Club incident.”

Wils ran his hands through his hair. “Arnold a murderer? It just doesn’t make sense. It was a schoolboys’ fight. And Arnold’s a fool, but much more of a village idiot than a schemer.”

“Don’t underestimate him, Wils. He’s not an idiot. He’s the son of a very powerful local politician who wants to run for higher office. His father holds City Hall in his pocket.”

“Are you speaking of Boston City Hall?”

“Yes.”

“I could care less about some martinet from Boston. I’m related to half the monarchs in Europe.” Wils sneered.

“City Hall has more power over you right now than some king in a faraway land,” said Copeland. “Arresting another German, maybe stopping a German spy ring-that would be exactly the thing that could get a man like Charles Archer elected to Congress. I’d recommend you cooperate with City Hall on any investigation into Max’s death. If you have information, you will need to share it.”

“If Arnold killed Max-” He stopped, barely able to breathe. Max dead by Arnold’s hand? Unthinkable. “Was there a note?”

“No, nothing. That’s why the Boston police may arrest Archer even if his father does run City Hall. Either it was a suicide and it won’t happen again, or perhaps we need to warn our German students about…a problem.” Copeland’s fingers brushed the edge of his desk. “That was the point of my summoning you here now. It could’ve been suicide. Therefore, the police want to talk with you before innocent people are accused, and I’d recommend you do it.”

But Wils had already taken the bait. “Innocent people? Arnold Archer? Is this a joke?” asked Wils.

“He may not be guilty.”

Wils paused. “I’m not sure how much money his father’s giving Harvard, but it had better be a lot.”

“That’s most uncharitable!”

“And so is the possible murder of a decent human! Where’s Professor Francke? I’d like to speak with him. He is a great German leader here on campus whom everyone respects. He’ll know how to advise me.”

“You are right. Professor Francke is a moderate, respected voice of reason. But he’s German and the police questioned him this morning. He is cooperating. His ties to the kaiser have naturally brought him under suspicion. City Hall thinks he could be a ringleader of a band of German spies. The dean of students asked me to speak with you and a few others prior to your discussions with the police. They should contact you shortly regarding this unpleasantness.”

“If that is all-” Wils bowed his head to leave, anger rising in his throat from the injustice of what he’d heard. First murder and now harassment were being committed against his countrymen, and somehow they were to blame for it? Not possible. Professor Francke was one of the most generous and beloved professors at Harvard. Max was a harmless soul.

“Wils, you had said you wished to ask me about something.”

Wils thought back to his mother’s telegram. Perhaps she’d been right to demand his return after all. He looked up at Copeland, sitting under an image of an old Spanish peasant. He seemed to have shrunk in his large desk chair.

“No, Professor. Nothing at all. Good day.”

Copeland didn’t rise as Wils turned to enter the dimly lit hallway. As his eyes adjusted, a famous poem Copeland had taught him in class-Matthew Arnold’s “Dover Beach”-came to him. Wils turned back to his teacher and said:

“For the world, which seems

To lie before us like a land of dreams,

So various, so beautiful, so new,

Hath really neither joy, nor love, nor light,

Nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain;

And we are here as on a darkling plain-”

Copeland brightened. “‘Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight, where ignorant armies clash by night,'” they finished together. Wils nodded, unable to speak further.

“Matthew Arnold has his moments. Do take care, Wils. Stay alert. I am concerned about you and want you to be safe. The world is becoming darker just now. Your intellectual light is one worth preserving. Now please close the door from the outside.” Copeland looked down again, and the interview was over.

* * *

The rain had driven the students inside their dormitories and flooded the walkways in Harvard Yard. As Wils left Hollis Hall, he removed his tie and pushed it into his pocket. The damned Americans talk brotherhood, he thought, but if you’re from the wrong side of Europe you’re no brother to them.

Max dead. Arnold Archer under suspicion. And what was all of that ridiculous nonsense about the Charlestown Navy Yard, he wondered, deep in thought, nearly walking into a large blue mailbox. He crossed the busy street and walked toward his room in Beck Hall.

In his mind, he saw Max trading barbs at the dinner table and laughing at the jests of Wils’s roommate, Riley, an inveterate prankster. And how happy Max had been when Felicity, his girlfriend from Radcliffe College, had agreed to go with him to a dance. But he’d been utterly heartbroken when she deserted him last year for a senior. This past summer Wils and Max had walked along the banks of the Baltic, when they were back in Europe for summer vacation. He said he would never get over her and he never really had. So what had happened to him?

Anger at the injustice of Max’s death welled up inside Wils as he opened the arched door of Beck Hall and walked quickly past Mr. Burton’s desk. The housemaster didn’t look up from his reading. Wils shut the door to his room behind him. His breath was short. His hands hadn’t stopped trembling. He had to find Riley and discuss what to do about Arnold.

What was happening to his world? His beautiful, carefully built world was cracking. Germany and Britain at war? Max dead? Professor Francke hauled in and questioned?

Wils felt a strange fury welling up inside of him. He wanted something to hurt as badly as he did. He picked up a porcelain vase and hurled it against the brick fireplace. It crashed and shattered, the blue-and-white shards scattering over the crimson rug.

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14. Essence of Mannstyle: Blackhat


Mannstyle
No film director gets the sound of gunfire like Michael Mann. It's not just that he typically uses recordings of live fire; plenty of people do that. There's an alchemy he performs with his sound designers, a way of manipulating both the sound of the shots and the ambient sound to create a hyperreal effect. It's not the sound of gunfire. It's a sound that produces the effect of standing close to the sound of gunfire.


Mann is celebrated and derided for his visual style, a style so damn stylish that any Mann film is likely to get at least a few reviews saying, "All style, no substance." I can't empathize with such a view; for me, style is the substance of art, and if any object has value beyond the functional, that value is directly produced by style. (Which is not to say that Mann's style is above criticism. Not at all. But to say that it is "only" style, and that substance is something else, something that can be separated from style, seems nonsensical to me. You may prefer the style of an Eric Rohmer or Bela Tarr or a Steven Spielberg or just the general, conventionalized style of mainstream Hollywood or mainstream TV ... but it's still style, and it's still substance created and transmitted through style.)




What generally goes unnoticed about Mann's style is how the aural and the visual work together. The visuals can be so ostentatious, so determinedly symmetrical (in his early work) or abstract (in the more recent films) or supersaturated or obscuringly dark, that the strangeness of the soundtrack remains unremarked. One of the most sensitive viewers of Mann, Ignatiy Vishnevetsky, noted it, though, in his review of Blackhat, pointing out the "patchy sound mixes" and "sound design [that] is deliberately erratic, rendering a good fifth of the dialogue unintelligible..."


Yes, and more: since his first abstract-expressionist film, 2006's Miami Vice, Mann has cast non-Americans as American characters for some of the leading men (Colin Farrell, Christian Bale, Chris Hemsworth) and non-native speakers of English as the leading women (Gong Li, Marion Cotillard, Tang Wei). The men do a good job with their American accents, but it creates an extra level of artificiality for them to work through, an extra way for them to distance their everyday self from their character.


The women wrestle with English well, but their tones and rhythms are noticeably different from a native speaker's, and the effect is to further make the dialogue difficult to apprehend, to distance the words spoken from their meanings and heighten their aural qualities.


The dialogue in Mann's movies, regardless of whether he's the writer, is unmistakably the dialogue of a Michael Mann movie — there is Mannspeak just as there is Mametspeak. It's clipped, jargony, declarative, pulpy. It sometimes drives critics crazy ("laughable" and "ridiculous" are words I've frequently seen used to describe the dialogue in Mann's movies). The actors tend to fall into similar rhythms from film to film, and you could play a one or two minute clip of dialogue from any of Mann's films, particularly the ones of the last decade or so, and you'd know it was dialogue from a Mann film, just as you can easily identify clips of dialogue from the movies of Robert Altman, Woody Allen, and Terrence Malick. Couple the dialogue and how the actors speak it with a recording style that is more common to amateur documentaries, and the effect is odd and, if you're able to tune into it, intoxicating.


The ways we understand and get to know characters in these movies are also very different from the techniques of conventional Hollywood cinema. Mann's always presented psychology via action, but in his most popular films — that is, his films of the 1990s — there's a pretty standard approach to psychology. That all changes with Miami Vice, where a new distance is placed between viewer and character while at the same time the filmmaking heightens the sense of our subjectivity melding with theirs.


Now, the characters thoughts, feelings, and desires no longer inhere within the character, but are, instead, expressed through the light, colors, angles, and sounds of the world as it is conveyed to us. Mann's characters are no longer characters so much as they are figures in a landscape, and the landscape is an extension of those figures' feelings.


That's why it doesn't much matter whether you can understand all the dialogue. The dialogue is just sound, and it's how that sound fits with the images (the light, the color), and how those images and sounds flow together, that matters.


Odd and even alienating as Mann's style has become, there's a profound unity to its effect. More and more, he's come to make movies that feel not so much like dreams as like insomnia.


This style is not what we might expect from someone as concerned with verisimilitude as Mann. He prefers going to locations rather than building sets; he makes his actors do months of preparation; he hires numerous consultants to get all the details right. And then, shooting and editing the film, he obscures it all, swirls it, hollows it out, fragments it into collages of drift, burst, and glimpse until all that is real feels utterly artificial. Mann's ultimate aim seems to be affect: to evoke a feeling of the hyperfake real, of the deeply flattened surface, of a world rendered into electricity jumping across a flat plane of endless night.


Blackhat
Blackhat lost a lot of money. According to Box Office Mojo, it is Mann's least financially successful film since The Keep, a movie he's mostly disavowed. Produced for a reported $70 million, Blackhat has earned only 10% of that investment back and supposedly had the 11th worst opening for a film in 2,500 or more theatres since 1982. It is likely to end up being one of 2015's biggest flops, and that's saying something (for all the talk of Jupiter Ascending being a disaster, the Wachowski's film had some success in foreign markets and looks like it's made back its production budget, at least. Blackhat cannot say the same).


This is not especially surprising. Blackhat is marketed as a techno-thriller (the trailer, while hinting at Mannstyle, is pretty exciting), and its plot is, indeed, that of a techno-thriller. But anybody who goes into the movie expecting a techno-thriller is likely to be disappointed. "Boring" is a word commonly used in viewers' responses to the film.


The thrill is not in the movie's narrative, which gets subsumed and sublimed into Mannstyle. The thrill is in the movement, sound, and editing. Mann's affinities are more with Wong Kar-Wai than with any standard action filmmaker.


We could talk about the ideas in the movie, ideas about surveillance and punishment and information and reality. It's not for nothing that there are references to Foucault, Lyotard, and Derrida (The Animal That Therefore I Am) early on. But these ideas are not expressed as ideas that one can talk about and debate: they're ideas that are felt, sensed, whiffed, dreamed. They can't be separated from the mode of expression.


That's Mann's real accomplishment here. Ideas, like the books in Nick Hathaway's cell, get left behind.


The traces of those ideas, though, pulse through our circuits and burn across the night sky.


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15. My Side of the Mountain (1959)

My Side of the Mountain. Jean Craighead George. 1959. 192 pages. [Source: Bought]

I found My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George to be strangely compelling. That is, I wasn't exactly expecting it to so compelling. I don't typically like adventure-survival-living-off-the-land books or becoming-one-with-nature books. It's also written in the first-person something that either really works (for me) or really doesn't.

Sam Gribley is the hero of My Side of the Mountain. He has run away from his oh-so-crowded home. He has traveled to the Catskill Mountain wilderness. He's heard his father talk about one of his ancestors having a homestead there, a long-abandoned homestead now. He's determined to find "his" land, and live on it, alone in the wilderness. He's read up on the subject. He's confident and determined, more determined than confident, perhaps. It isn't always easy for Sam. Though sometimes things do happen to go his way. The book spans about a year. In that year, plenty happens though not all of it will prove exciting to every reader. I was surprised by how many people he met and how many friends he made.

I think what I found most compelling about this one was the narrative voice. I don't think I was swept up into the adventure so much as I found myself liking Sam.

Have you read My Side of the Mountain? I'd love to hear what you thought of it!

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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16. What I’m Doing at Kirkus This Week, Plus What I DidLast Week, Featuring Bénédicte Guettier,Patrick McDonnell, Daniel Salmieri, and Charlotte Voake


– From Meet the Dullards
(Click to enlarge spread)


 


– From The Skunk


 


“Unfortunately, an octopus is not a very suitable pet.
You should see the mess he makes in the bathroom!”
– From
Melissa’s Octopus and Other Unsuitable Pets
(Click to enlarge spread)


 


– From I am the Wolf … And Here I Come!


 

Today over at Kirkus, I write about the coolest picture book award you’ve never heard of, the Bull-Bransom Award from the National Museum of Wildlife Art. That link will be here soon.

* * *

Last week I wrote (here) about four new picture books — Sara Pennypacker’s Meet the Dullards, illustrated by Daniel Salmieri (Balzer & Bray, March 2015); Mac Barnett’s The Skunk, illustrated by Patrick McDonnell (Roaring Brook, April 2015); Charlotte Voake’s Melissa’s Octopus and Other Unsuitable Pets (Candlewick, April 2015); and Bénédicte Guettier’s I am the Wolf … And Here I Come! (Gecko Press, January 2015). Today, I follow up with art from each book. (Note: Sorry about the lines in the art from Guettier. Those lines indicate the gutter of the book.)

Enjoy the art …



 

Art from Sara Pennypacker’s
Meet the Dullards,
illustrated by Daniel Salmieri:


 


“After they finished painting the room, Mr. and Mrs. Dullard tried not to look at the walls. But it was no use—they were completely mesmerized.
All day long, the Dullards watched the paint dry.”

(Click to enlarge spread)


 


(Click to enlarge)


 


“That night, Mr. and Mrs. Dullard fell asleep right away,
secure in the knowledge that their children were perfect bores.”

(Click to enlarge)


 



 

Art from Charlotte Voake’s Melissa’s Octopus
and Other Unsuitable Pets
:


 


“Sometimes he’s upstairs …
and he ends up downstairs by mistake.”

(Click to enlarge)


 



 

Art from Mac Barnett’s The Skunk,
illustrated by Patrick McDonnell:


 



(Click second image to see spread in its entirety)


 



(Click second image to see spread in its entirety)


 



 



(Click second image to see spread in its entirety)


 





 

Art from Bénédicte Guettier’s I am the Wolf …
And Here I Come!


 




 

* * * * * * *

I AM THE WOLF … AND HERE I COME! First American Edition published in 2015 by Gecko Press USA. Illustrations reproduced by permission of the publisher.

MEET THE DULLARDS. Copyright © 2015 by Sara Pennypacker. Illustrations copyright © 2015 by Daniel Salmieri. Illustrations reproduced by permission of the publisher, Balzer & Bray/HarperCollins, New York.

MELISSA’S OCTOPUS AND OTHER UNSUITABLE PETS. Copyright © 2014 by Charlotte Voake. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Candlewick Press, Somerville, MA on behalf of Walker Books, London.

THE SKUNK. Copyright © 2015 by Mac Barnett. Illustrations copyright © 2015 by Patrick McDonnell. Illustrations reproduced by permission of the publisher, Roaring Brook Press, New York.

0 Comments on What I’m Doing at Kirkus This Week, Plus What I DidLast Week, Featuring Bénédicte Guettier,Patrick McDonnell, Daniel Salmieri, and Charlotte Voake as of 5/22/2015 3:55:00 AM
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17. BLAM!


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18. Dwayne Johnson Explains Black Adam’s Motives In Shazam

https://uk.yahoo.com/movies/dwayne-johnson-explains-black-adams-motives-in-119589083664.html

It looks as though Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson is already getting into the spirit of ‘Shazam’… and explains that he can’t wait to play a different kind of villain.
Dwayne Johnson Explains Black Adam’s Motives In Shazam
During an interview with HeyUGuys, the 43-year-old wrestler-turned-DC-villain explained why he finds Black Adam so interesting…

“I can’t wait,” said Johnson when asked if he’s looking forward to playing a villain. “He’s a unique type of villain. When you start off as a slave, you’re not in a good mood!”

Of course, fans of DC’s New 52 will already know his backstory…

It turns out that Black Adam was a slave who was teleported from his prison cell by the wizard Shazam, and was granted superhuman powers – the same powers as the hero, Shazam.
A predecessor to the DC hero, his powers are accessed in much the same way – by uttering the magic word ‘shazam’ to transform himself into Black Adam. But it’s Adam’s origin that seems to interest Johnson the most.

“There’s a heavy wrath that a lot of people have to pay,” he said. “But when it’s fuelled by a righteous anger if you will, like Black Adam, then you open up to what the character can be which I’m really excited about. That’s why he’s not just a straightforward bad guy.”

And there’s been much speculation that Black Adam won’t end up being a bad guy at all.

During numerous interviews, Dwayne Johnson has hinted that Black Adam may eventually turn into more of an antihero… and that’s something that certainly fits with the character’s comic book origins.
“Kneel at his feet or get crushed by his boot,” he said via Twitter. “My honor to become.. #BlackAdam #TheAntiHero #DCComics”

Although originally a straight-forward villain of Shazam, he was eventually developed by Geoff Johns into an antihero who attempting to clear his name – even becoming a member of the Justice Society of America.

Will this version ever make it to the big screen? For now, we’ll have to wait and see. But I get the feeling that Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson is going to have a lot of fun with this role.

‘Shazam’ heads to cinemas on 5 April 2019.

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19. Silicon Heart 71% Funded!



 Great news for Kat and Sam.

Welcome to the Silicon Heart Kickstarter!

January is a bullied teenager who finds solace in the embrace of synthetic-being Rho. Her friends and family are unready to accept this, but when January takes a stand against the prejudice of the law, no-one is prepared for what happens next...

Silicon Heart is a 120 page graphic novel, made up of four 30 page issues, written by Sam Roads and illustrated by Kat Nicholson.

Having won a prestigious Literature Wales grant in 2014 to help complete issue 1 of Silicon Heart ('A Better Tomorrow'), we launched it in April at the Egbaston Comic Festival, to excellent reviews. (See below)

Our aim with this Kickstarter project is to raise additional funds towards the completion and quarterly publication of the remaining three parts of Silicon Heart.
  • Part 1: A Better Tomorrow - COMPLETED
  • Part 2: Tin Soldiers - Summer 2015
  • Part 3: Cycles - Autumn 2015
  • Part 4: Sympathy - Winter 2015
If we are able to exceed our target, we hope to set a stretch goal which will see Silicon Heart published as a complete graphic novel!

 

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/samroads/silicon-heart 

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20. Suicide Squad Struggles To Replace Tom Hardy?

https://uk.yahoo.com/movies/suicide-squad-struggles-to-replace-tom-hardy-110710159734.html

It looks as though DC’s ‘Suicide Squad’ is struggling to find a replacement for Tom Hardy… but Will Smith and Margot Robbie seem confident that things are going well.

Suicide Squad Struggles To Replace Tom Hardy?
It’s likely to be one of DC’s most important films of the next few years – ‘Suicide Squad’ sets up a number of iconic villains and might even feature a certain Dark Knight. But there’s already a bit of a problem. Following the departure of Tom Hardy, it looks as though Warner Bros. is having trouble finding an actor to step into his shoes.

But can they find their Rick Flagg Jr. before it’s too late?

During an interview with USA Today, Will Smith and Margot Robbie discussed the upcoming ‘Suicide Squad’ movie… and why there’s still no Rick Flagg after Tom Hardy’s departure.

“We’ve still got to get it right,” said Smith. And he’s not kidding. Rick Flagg Jr. is one of the main characters in the upcoming DC adaptation… and if it’s anything like the comic books, it seems they’re currently without a leader.

But Margot Robbie explains that she’s really not concerned.

“This happens all the time,” she said. “People act like, ‘Oh my god, the movie must be ending!’ It’s just the deal with movies.”

Of course, it’s certainly not unheard of to find actors dropping out of big budget Hollywood blockbusters… but with ‘Suicide Squad’s April start-date looming, they’d better pull their socks up.
We’ve already heard that Jake Gyllenhaal has been approached for the role, but ultimately passed. And since then, it’s been all quiet on the western front. But with Rick Flagg Jr. as a relatively unknown character to the movie-going masses, will WB find someone to take it on?

“A lot of the characters haven’t been portrayed before so it’s a pretty big undertaking,” said Robbie. “And it’s a big undertaking for the people who are going to play the characters who have been played, like the Joker [played by Jared Leto]. It’s big shoes to fill.”

I can’t help thinking that for the time being, the biggest shoes to fill are those of Tom Hardy. And if the movie stands a chance at staying on time and on budget, they’re going to need to find their replacement pretty soon.

Let’s just hope that whoever takes over is the perfect fit to lead the squad.

‘Suicide Squad’ heads to cinemas on 5 August 2016.

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21. Sorry? You Say Stan Lee Created The Phrase "Nuff Said"?

Well, I beg to differ and present to you covers from a 1950s UK glamour and humour mag.....

NUFF SED!



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22. Emerson Book Club Recommendations: Great summer reading plans! (ages 9-12)

Emerson's fantastic book club met today for our Summer Reading Celebration and 45 kids came to the library to have lunch together, swap book recommendations and share their love for reading. We had such a fun time!


Our book club welcomes all 4th and 5th graders. All spring, we've been talking about books we've been reading and encouraging friends to read the books we've liked. We will hold our Mock Newbery Club again next fall, so we've been paying special attention to the books published in 2015. Here are the titles our students have recommended so far for consideration:
All the Answers, by Kate Messner
Blackbird Fly, by Erin Entrada Kelly
Blue Birds, by Caroline Starr Rose
The Detective's Assistant, by Katherine Hannigan
Echo, by Pam Muñoz Ryan
Fish in a Tree, by Lynda Mullaly Hunt
Gone Crazy in Alabama, by Rita Williams-Garcia
Honey, by Sarah Weeks
Listen, Slowly, by Thanhha Lai
My Secret Guide to Paris, by Lisa Schroeder
Neon Aliens Ate My Homework, by Nick Cannon
Nightbird, by Alice Hoffman
The Penderwicks in Spring, by Jeanne Birdsall
Pip Bartlett's Guide to Magical Animals, by Maggie Stiefvater and Jackson Pearce
Tiger Boy, by Mitali Perkins
The War that Saved My Life, by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
Wish Girl, by Nikki Loftin
It was so much fun hearing kids share about why they'd recommend a book to friends. The books that are getting the most love right now are definitely The Detective's Assistant, Echo, Fish in a Tree, and Gone Crazy in Alabama.

After sharing book recommendations, we took some time to write our own "to be read" lists. These lists help us look forward to the next book we want to read. It's a habit I want to instill in all my students. And so it was great to take a minute to write down our ideas and ask friends for recommendations.
We finished our celebration by taking "shelfies" -- pictures with our favorite books and with the books we want to read. It was a terrific celebration of our love of reading. Many thanks to Melissa Guerrette for her inspiring article on the Nerdy Book Club blog all about shelfies. I'm sure our sheflie celebration with get many many of our students talking about books they want to read.

Many thanks to all of the publishers who support our book club by sending us advanced copies. If you make a purchase using the Amazon links on this site, a small portion goes to Great Kid Books. Thank you for your support.

©2015 Mary Ann Scheuer, Great Kid Books

0 Comments on Emerson Book Club Recommendations: Great summer reading plans! (ages 9-12) as of 5/22/2015 2:17:00 AM
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23. That weird story-planning stage

Right now, I’m in the planning stages for a new series. I’ve barely started writing — just enough to get a good feel for the voice — and I’m making lists and lists of things I know I want to include. It’s a weird part of the process. There’s not a lot to say, “Okay, I did this today.” Ideas come randomly, and there’s not much to show for it besides a lot of daydreaming. Here’s how I’m trying to harness it all. (And make myself feel better about all that daydreaming time.)

1. A notebook. 

I picked out a pretty notebook for this story. a) Pretty notebooks make me happy. b) It’s proven very useful for jotting down random ideas. (You know, those ideas you think, “There’s no way I’ll forget this!” and then immediately forget them. Know thyself. Write down those ideas.)

To be honest, getting a notebook for this story started out as an excuse to buy a notebook. But while traveling last month, I stuck the notebook in my purse — then found myself reaching for it when I experienced something that might fit with the book. I wrote down things I saw, heard, felt — and wrote lists of questions for myself. Almost out of nowhere, I wrote descriptions of fictional places I’d previously had no thoughts on.

I’ve been making note of title ideas, figuring out the story structure across the series, and stories about the world’s history. Every story-related thought that occurs to me ends up in this notebook. Unless I have my computer with me, and . . .

2. Scrivener.

I know it isn’t for everyone, but it’s definitely for me. I vaguely remember how I wrote before Scrivener, and let’s just say it wasn’t pretty.

One of the first things I do when I open a new Scrivener project is make a bunch of chapters, character sheets, and location sheets. They don’t need to be filled in right away. It’s just nice to have them. I also open a bunch of documents under the “research” section with things like the original idea for the story (whatever it was that intrigued me enough to write a whole novel/series about it!), any notes I’ve taken, broken down by subject, a query-style pitch, and a synopsis.

It just makes me feel good to have all those things there, ready to be filled in when I know what needs to go there.

For this particular project, since the structure is a little different than I typically write, I pulled out the index card function and used the labels to help me keep track of point of view and timeline. (So some say “so and so’s past” while others say “present.”) And because it was difficult for me to wrap my brain around writing a synopsis for such a weird timeline, I began filling in the index cards with a chapter’s worth of story each. It may not stay that way in the end (few things do make it until the final draft), but it really helped me settle on how the various stories would work and overlap and influence each other.

3. Time. 

This one has been difficult for me. I get excited about projects and want to dive right in, but I’ve been forced to take this one a little more slowly. (Mostly because I haven’t had the opportunity for diving. Every time I vanquish a deadline, two more take its place.)

But taking my time with the planning stage of this project has also been incredibly useful. In my experience, the more I try to force story to happen, the less likely I am to be pleased with the results. I’ll forget details. Skip the sort of depth that I want to write about. Cause the characters to do uncharacteristic things.

Giving myself the space to dip in and out of the story — forgetting about any self-imposed deadlines — is letting me dig deeper. After all, the goal isn’t to win some imaginary race, but to write a book I’m proud of.


So, what do you think? Anything to add? Anything you do differently in this weird pre-writing stage? I want to hear it!

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24. TOMORROWLAND - Drive Through Movie Review

**********NO SPOILERS************

The Nerd Riders, Kristin and Clint, give their thoughts on the new Disney film TOMORROWLAND. 

 

QUESTION: If you could go to an alternate universe what would you want to see there?


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25. Dragons, Library Holds, and Biking

cover artI finally finished A Dance with Dragons by George R.R. Martin yesterday. I am glad it is finally over. I’m not going to do a full write-up of it because it is the fifth book in a series and frankly, I found it full of bloat and, while better than book four, still not great. In fact, I am not certain I will read the Winds of Winter when it finally comes out. Of course if people I trust read it and tell me how good it is I will probably cave in and read it, but otherwise, I’m burnt out. The thing has become so fragmented with a gazillion different storylines going on that it feels out of control and out of focus.

So there.

I know you have been wondering about my library hold situation and the resolution I made at the beginning of the year to keep my hold requests down to no more than five at a time. I had been doing so well and feeling so proud of myself. I got cocky. And of course I slipped.

Currently I have only one book checked out from the library, Lumberjanes, and one waiting for me to pick up, The House of Paper. But then there are eight hold requests. Only eight though, that’s not bad, right? One of them will be coming up to my turn very soon, When Mystical Creatures Attack! by Kathleen Founds. The rest I have a little wait for – I am 120 in line for The Buried Giant by Ishiguro but only third in line for Molecular Red by McKenzie Wark. There is a good time spread between the two. Granted the rest of my requests I am twenty-something in line, but still they won’t all arrive at once (Hahahaha!). So even though I went over my self-imposed five hold requests limit it isn’t terrible, not like when I had close to twenty hold requests out at once, right? And it’s not like I’ve gone completely crazy with new hold requests. I’m still in control. Yes, yes I am. I am absolutely certain of it. Yup. In complete control.

On a side note, I went on my first group bike ride last night. It is a women-only ride that leaves from a nearby bike shop. I was nervous, let me tell you. The route was to be rolling hills and since it is a no-drop ride (the group stops and waits for those falling behind) I was terrified I would be the one everyone was stopping to wait for. Since I had never ridden with other people before I had no idea how my fitness level would compare. Turns out I didn’t have a thing to worry about. My fitness level is just fine and I am not too bad on hills.

There were ten of us and I had a blast. Most of us had not gone on this particular group ride before so no one really knew anyone which meant no one got left out socially. And because of the hills I got to practice shifting on Astrid, something I haven’t done much of because I haven’t had to. And I discovered a lovely sound, the sound of a group of strong women on bikes coming up to a stoplight and all of us clipping out (unlocking our shoes from the pedals) and then clipping back in when we start again. I don’t know why I like the sound so much but I do. Maybe it’s because I am making it too as part of a group. At any rate, I will be riding out again next Wednesday so chances are good that unless the weather is bad and the ride gets cancelled, I will not be posting on Wednesday nights through the end of summer. I’ve got a bike to ride!


Filed under: biking, Books, Library Tagged: Dance with Dragons, Game of Thrones, George R.R. Martin

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