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1. ALSC Member of the Month – Melissa Morwood

Each month, an ALSC member is profiled and we learn a little about their professional life and a bit about their not-so-serious side. Using just a few questions, we try to keep the profiles fun while highlighting the variety of members in our organization. So, without further ado, welcome to our ALSC profile, ten (plus one) questions with ALSC member, Melissa Morwood.

1. What do you do, and how long have you been doing it?

Courtesy photo from Melissa Morwood”

“Courtesy photo from Melissa Morwood”

I am a Senior Children’s Librarian for the Palo Alto City Library, and I have been here for 11 years. I present weekly storytimes for babies, toddlers, and preschoolers, host class visits, plan and present school-age and family programming for our customers, and help folks on both the kids and adult reference desks.

2. Why did you join ALSC? Do you belong to any other ALA divisions or roundtables?

I initially joined ALSC to feel a sense of community with other children’s librarians across the country, since for many years I was the only youth services staff person at my branch. I have gained so much through my membership- the ALSC blog posts are always fantastic, and they help me to grow as a librarian, and to provide better service to our customers.

3.  Are you ready for Summer Reading?

I’m in charge of our library’s Summer Reading Program for the third year in a row, so I’ve been thinking about Summer Reading since January! We’ll be doing early Summer Reading registrations as part of a kindergarten library card campaign this year, so it’s only a few more weeks until we have to be ready for the program to go live. And I always look forward to our Kick-Off party, which features music, ice cream, and lots of happy families.

4.   Are you starting to make plans for retirement?

Yes! I’ve still got 19 more years until I can retire, but my husband and I are already making plans to move to California’s north coast where we went to college at Humboldt State University. We love the smaller towns, the laid back atmosphere, and the combination of redwoods, farmland, and desolate beaches. It’s a gorgeous area with friendly people.

5.    What’s the last book you recommended to a friend?

Phoebe and Her Unicorn, by Dana Simpson. I just read it last week, quickly followed by the sequel Unicorn on Wheels. The books are humorous yet sweet, and it cracks me up how endearing Marigold is to the reader, despite being such an egomaniac. Some of my other favorite graphic novels include Roller Girl, Baba Yaga’s Assistant, and This One Summer.

6.    What’s your favorite piece of technology?

My iphone. When I’m not at work, I enjoy not being tied to a desktop computer if I need to send a quick email or get directions. I also love having my phone’s camera capabilities ready at all times for when my 11 month old twin niece and nephew inevitably do something super cute.

7.   Do you have any family traditions?

Every year on Christmas Eve my husband, dog, and I curl up in our pjs and watch Love Actually. It’s been our annual tradition for close to 10 years now, and I always look forward to it.

8.   What is the last song you sang?

The More We Get Together. It’s my closing song each week at Baby Storytime, and we do the sign language along with it. I do two Baby Storytime sessions every Tuesday morning, and I had over 140 attendees between the two programs this morning!

9.   If you could bring back any extinct animal, which would it be?

Definitely dinosaurs (preferably herbivorous dinosaurs…) Regardless of how badly all of the Jurassic Park movies end, I still always turn to my husband and say “I’d TOTALLY visit Jurassic Park!”

10.  How do you incorporate STEM/STEAM activities in your work with children? 

I’m actually doing my very first STEM-based program tomorrow afternoon! We’re having an Engineers at Work program, where kids in grades 2-5 will be challenged to create marble runs out of household materials, and then we’ll have races to see how well each run works. I was inspired to try STEAM programming after watching ALSC webinars presented by Amy Koester, who makes STEAM programming look so fun and easy.

11.  What’s your favorite thing to do when you are not working?

Hanging out with my husband and talking about children’s literature. He’s a kindergarten teacher, and it’s so much fun to recommend books for him to read to his class- they love the Mercy Watson and Princess in Black series. It’s great to be able to geek out regarding the ALSC Book & Media Awards, and have him not only listen but actively participate in the conversation. He’s super supportive of my dream to serve on an ALSC award committee someday.

*********************************************************************************

Thanks, Melissa! What a fun continuation to our monthly profile feature!

Do you know someone who would be a good candidate for our ALSC Monthly Profile? Are YOU brave enough to answer our ten questions? Send your name and email address to alscblog@gmail.com; we’ll see what we can do.

The post ALSC Member of the Month – Melissa Morwood appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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2. Oh my! Open Mic Wednesday




Open Mic Wednesday by...





Me!!!



Today I had a day that defied all reason.  I had a cable service man come over to check out and tell me why my internet was not playing nice. 

Two hours later......  


After rewiring the cable, which had been shredded by the way, and diagnosing my modem as dead (which it was) he gave me his analysis. He showed me the evidence right under my nose then with my permission he went for it.  He rolled up his sleeves and he got on it.  I helped him thread new cable down to the basement and beyond and while we were at it we ran new cable down there for the t.v. too.  Oh my!   I was a cableman assistant for my morning!  :-)  How fun!

He replaced my modem and gave me a really cool faster one, and he connected the the PVR downstairs to the recorder upstairs .... and guess what?  ALL FOR FREE!!  Hurray it's a good day!!!

I would not let him go before I knew all the iPads in my house, and my desktop iMac was working correctly because I know how that works.  It works perfectly when the expert is here and when he's gone and it's your turn to use them....nothing works!!! He was so kind and gracious and helped me install new passwords from the modem into all my techie tools.  He was patient and explained everything to me as step-by-step we got everything up and running again.  (Notice I said "we" got it going... I was a great help I am sure!) What an amazing experience but alas ...  I have no book review today for you.  So sorry.  I left two videos for you to check out and I will review that author's work tomorrow for you.  I hope I am forgiven.  

The best news by far?  I can now post tomorrow's review faster and more efficiently (as the internet will now work) for you.  Hope you have an awesome day and be back here tomorrow for my take on the great kid's book,  "LET'S PLAY!"authored by Hervé Tullet.  See you then.







Follow me:  


*Instagram: Storywraps
*Email:  Storywrapsblog@gmail.com
*Facebook:  www.facebook.com/Storywraps
*Twitter: Storywraps@Storywraps1





I put hours of work finding the best kid's books to review for you each day.  If you enjoy visiting Storywraps and would like to donate something for my time and effort I would greatly appreciate it.

Go to the top of my blog on the right hand corner (above my photo) and please donate what you feel lead to give.  The amount you donate and the frequency you donate is totally up to you.  I thank you in advance for your support.  I love what I do and appreciate any amount that you may give so I can make our community even better.  Thanks a million! 



 
Read on and read always!


It's a wrap.

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3. Giveaway: The Trials of Apollo by Rick Riordan (US Only)


THE TRIALS OF APOLLO: THE HIDDEN ORACLE by Rick Riordan In stores May 3rd   ABOUT THE BOOK   New series from #1New York Timesbestselling author Rick Riordan.   After angering his father Zeus, the god Apollo is cast down from Olympus. Weak and disoriented, he lands in New York City...

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4. Random Blog Topics

sketching washi

Guys, I need you to help me get back in the groove. 🙂 Where did my daily blogging mojo go? How about you hit me with some topic suggestions in the comments. Doesn’t have to be kidlit or homeschooling related. Any old thing you’d like to hear me yap about. Sort of like one of those Instagram daily drawing challenges. What’ll it be?

(As I write this, I’m reminded of five or six advice-seeking emails that have been awaiting replies from me for way too long. Embarrassingly long. A lot of the questions in those emails would make good post topics, but a thoughtful response takes time, and time is what I’m short on. But some quick off-the-cuff remarks on subjects you suggest here—surely I can swing that.)

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5. The Wild Robot - an audiobook review

The Wild Robot by Peter Brown

Read by Kate Atwater
Hachette Audio, 2016

AudioFile Magazine Earphones Award Winner

I recently reviewed The Wild Robot for AudioFile Magazine.  You can read my full review and hear an audio excerpt here. [http://www.audiofilemagazine.com/reviews/read/110681/the-wild-robot-by-peter-brown/]

The Wild Robot, a novel for ages 8 and up, is a departure from Peter Brown's usual offering of picture books (Creepy Carrots, Mr. Tiger Goes Wild, My Teacher is a Monster - and more), but his customary excellence is just as apparent.

The link to my review is above, however, I'd like to highlight a few things.  The Wild Robot premise is unique and thought-provoking - a robot designed with AI and programmed for self-preservation and nonviolence, is marooned on an island with animals, but no humans from which to learn.  The narrator, Kate Atwater, does a stellar job (see review) and sounds a bit like Susan Sarandon. The audio book is unique in that the beginning and the closing chapters have sound effects including music and sounds of nature.

Overall, it's very well done!  If you'd prefer to check out the print version, Little Brown Books for Young Readers offers an excerpt of the print version of The Wild Robot here. [http://openbook.hbgusa.com/openbook/9780316382014]

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6. Hervé Tullet | MIX IT UP!

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7. Redefining The Ages Of British Comic Books...



.....AGAIN 

Why re-post this article since it was first published back in 2000 and several times since then?  Well, despite the "serious comics history" pundits being given the link on a number of occasions it appears I am beneath their interest. I know this because they are now stating that the Overstreet Price Guide has published 'new' info.

Here is what someone wrote on Yahoos Platinum Comics group:

"But even that big news in Comic Book History has been overturned, with the discovery of an even earlier comic book, entitled The Glasgow Looking Glass, published in Scotland, in 1825."

Yes, well, Denis Gifford and myself both wrote about that (he WELL before me) back in 1984 and wrote about it in 1985.

Now I do realise that some "sequential historians" look down on us regular comic folk but seriously they are ten years behind the rest of us.

So here is the cranky old article but with new illos.
I thank you.
_________________________________

Despite attempting to fill in the Lost Era of British comics from the 1940s/1950s since the 1980s it is only recently, with the invaluable help of  Dennis Ray, owner of The 3-Ds comic store in Arlington, Texas, that a small chunk of this period has been rediscovered.

Characters not listed even in Denis Gifford references have been found. These have started to appear in the Black Tower Golden Age Classics series.  As they are unlikely to be big money earners the cover prices were kept low for those interested in the subject.

Oh, and as I've proven previously, the myth of the Germans "never had comics during the war" is just that.

A myth.

And though some comics continued few survived.  Thomson's continue but in much poorer form and British comics as an "industry" are dead. 

 
Above: Dennis Gifford

Here is a slightly up-dated version of my article defining the British ages of comics from my British Golden Age Comics web site and a couple years back on CBO.

 The late Denis Gifford spent many decades chronicling the history of British comics.  It was a never-ending task and at least we still have his books to rely on –these have been so plagiarised by new ‘experts’ that it shows just how valuable any Gifford book is. For this reason,I am relying solely on Denis’s and the “Tel’s From The Crypt” feature from vol.1 no.1 of COMIC BITS [1999].

Of course,there are some who would argue that comic strips go back further than the dates I give. This is debatable and,hopefully,one day the UK will have a symposium on the subject! 
 
Looking Glass was a tabloid sized periodical published by Thomas McLean and could be purchased as either a plain or hand-coloured edition. Some 36 issues were published starting on 1st January, 1830 until December, 1832 -but from issue number 13, that was published on 1st January, 1831, it suddenly got re-titled to McLean's Monthly Sheet of Caricature or The Looking Glass.

But this was not the first Looking Glass! John Watson published The Glasgow Looking Glass on the 11th June, 1825 and it lasted five issues up to August, 1825. From 18th August, 1825 and for twelve issues up to 3rd August, 1826 as Northern Looking Glass. Not to be confused with The Glasgow Looking Glass -no connection.

 THIS is the comic 'newly discovered' by the Overstreet Price Guide!

According to Denis, the first comic magazine was actually titled…The Comick Magazine!  The magazine appeared on 1st April,1796.  The publisher was Mr Harrison of 18 Paternoster Row,London who describe the title as “The compleat Library of Mirth, Humour, Wit, Gaiety and Entertainment”. 

Most purists would argue that The Comick Magazine was wholly text,however,it did come “enriched with  William Hogarth’s Celebrated Humorous,Comical and Moral Prints”. –one per monthly issue!  These prints formed the series “Industry and Idleness” and when put together in their “narrative sequence”, argued Gifford,”they could be described  as an early form of comic strip”
 


 Above: Dr Syntax on Tour

Thomas Rowlandson  provided plates for The Caricature Magazine [1808].  On the 1st May,1809 came The Poetical Magazine and it was in this –Rowlandson the artist once more—that what is arguably the first British ‘comic’ super star was born:Dr Syntax!   The serial by William Combe,”The Schoolmaster’s Tour” was Dr Syntax’s first,uh,outing and in 1812 was reprinted in book form [graphic novel?] as “The Tour Of Dr Syntax in Search of The Picturesque”.  This featured 31 coloured plates.

Dr Syntax spawned merchandise spin offs,as any comic star does,such as Syntax hats,coats and wigs!!
 

Figaro 31st March, 1832

Inspired by the French funny paper Figaro,on 10th December,1831,the four page weekly Figaro In London appeared.  Cover and interior cartoons were by Robert Seymour.  This first funny weekly went on for eight years and was to inspire [imitation] spin-offs such as Figaro In Liverpooland Figaro In Sheffield.    We can see the future shape of the comic industry appearing here!

Punch In London  appeared on 14th January,1832 –this weekly lasted 17 issues and the last featured  17 cartoons! 

The longest lived comic magazine,of course,was Punch from 17th July,1841 until its demise in 2002! 

It is a fact that Punch,on 1st July,1843,introduced the word “cartoon” into the English language;on that date the magazine announced the publication of “several exquisite designs to be called Punch’s Cartoons”.   Two weeks later the first appeared,the artist being John Leech.  [for more info on Punch see http://www.punch.co.uk/]

 

Punch number 1

Leech also drew “The Pleasures Of Housekeeping” [28th April,1849] –described as a slap-stick strip about a suburbanite called Mr Briggs which,ten years later,was published in book form as Pictures Of Life And Quality.

In 1905 Mr Briggs was still being reprinted in six penny paperbacks.     
     
Judy~The London Serio-Comic Journal started on 1st May,1867 and,on 14th August of the same year introduced a character  who became one of the greatest comic heroes of the day…….Ally Sloper!  

Ally Sloper [so called because,when a debt collector turned up he Sloped off down the Alley!] was a bald headed, bulbous nosed figure with a rather battered hat. ..often described as a Mr Micawber type [as played by W.C.Fields and others over the years].  Ally was constantly trying to make money but more often than not never quite succeeded.

 Merchandise abounded, Sloper Pewter mugs, figurines, bottles and much,much more.  And you can learn a great deal more on a wonderful web site –

There was an Ally Sloper comic in 1948 and some might think that was it.  However, Walter Bell drew the old lad in Ally Sloper, a British comics magazine published by Denis and Alan Class in the 1970s.

Note: since this was first written the Ally Sloper's Comic Bits was shelved and also, in an interview with Alan Class, he told me he was NOT publisher of the 1970s fanzine!
 

Above the 1948 Ally Sloper comic.

Ally has certainly lived longer than his creator, Charles Henry Ross, could probably ever have imagined!  

Into the 20th Century and there was the rise of many illustrated text stories and comic strips with text under each panel.

D.C. Thomson had titles like ADVENTURE and ROVER.  Alfred Harmsworth’s, and later his Amalgamated Press’, COMIC CUTS was the first comic though.  Issue 1 was published on 17th May,1890 and the final issue was published on 12th September,1953 with issue number 3006!    
 

But the 1930s saw a virtual explosion in comics from small publishers outside London.  These included Merry Midget, no.1 dated Saturday,12th September,1931 and published by Provincial Comics Ltd.,Bath –and the other  title from this publisher was Sparkler.  Also publishing from Bath were Target Publications who produced Rattler and Target. 

Now these were traditional humour strips and gags along with text adventure stories.  But in 1939 something happened that ended the Diamond Age and saw the beginning of the Golden Age. 

On the 8th July,1939,the Amalgamated Press published, in Triumph, the strip “Derickson Dene”, drawn by that "mysterious" comic great 'Nat Brand'.  Gifford described the strip as “a four page serial strip that established him [Dene] as the first British super hero in the American comic book style”.  

 
And then,on the 5th August,1939, in Triumphno.772,compilations of the Siegel and  Shuster Superman newspaper strips started.  On the front cover,flying through space and drawn by John “Jock” McCail was The Man of Steel.   

These two very significant strips, in my opinion, ushered in the British Golden Age. 

There was only one little problem.  Across the English [or French] Channel,a little twerp with a silly moustache started a “bit of a tiff” we know as World War Two.  Paper restrictions and the banning of imported goods such as comic books,meant that British publishers had to use whatever they could. Comics were printed on brown wrapping paper,silver paper[!] and other inferior stocks. Many comics simply vanished. 

No new ongoing titles could be published so smaller publishers began to issue one-off eight pagers. 
 
The best known publishers  remembered today are the Amalgamated Press and D.C.Thomson,at the latter not just Lord Snooty and his Gang but also Eggo and Desperate Dan took on the Germans.

 
But Gerald G. Swan deserves a mention for books such as War Comics, Topical Funnies Special Autumn Number, Thrill Comics, and Slick Fun. .  Swan gave us Krakos the Egyptian and Robert Lovett:Back From The Dead. 

A. Soloway produced All Fun and after the war Comic Capers[1942] and  Halcon Comics [1948].  R & L Locker published Reel Comics and Cyclone Illustrated Comic.  Newton Wickham published Four Aces and Martin & Reid produced Grand Adventure Comics.
 
Gifford himself, later to work on Marvelman -and there are VERY strong rumours Marvel comics will be reprinting the 1980s series*, produced Mr Muscle.  Cartoon Art Productions of Glasgow published Super Duper Comics [1948].  W. Daly gave us Crasho Comic [1947].  Cardal Publishing of Manchester gave us the Gifford drawn Streamline Comics [1947]…….. 

There were so many publishers and titles and these titles included Ally Sloper, Ensign Comic, Speed Gale Comics, Whizzer Comics, Super Duper, The Three Star Adventures, The Atom, Prang Comic, Marsman Comic, Big win comic, Big Flame Wonder Comic, Evil Eye Thriller, The Forgers and many,many more –super heroes,science fiction, humour, detective,war comics the lot.  

However, there was soon to be a revolution.  Publishers started declining and the big companies continued on.  Then,on 14th  April,1950, ”launching British comics into the new Elizabethan Age,and the Space Age” appeared The Eagle, starring Dan Dare.  This date can be seen as the start of the Silver Age of British comics. 
 
New characters would appear who would engrave themselves on the new generations of comic readers. 

In the Amalgamated Press’  Lion no.1,23rd February,1952 Robot Archie made his debut.  In 1953, rivals D. C. Thomson featured General Jumbo in The Beano.  Miller, of course, brought us Marvelman and his family of comics. 

More uniquely British characters followed and into the 1960s we saw “The House of Dollman”, ”The Spider” (created by Jerry Siegel despite what some UK pundits write. I spoke to the man in charge at Fleetway who when younger handled the scripts with Siegel's name on and told how the office was a-buzz about "the character -created by one of the men who created Superman"), ”Steel Claw” and ”Rubberman” appear.   

In the mid –to- late 1970s titles began to get cancelled more and more frequently with Thomson and Fleetway/IPC seemingly not sure just where they were going comic –wise. In February,1977, 2000 AD made its debut and it was a pivotal point for British comics [not to mention for the US industry which later  recruited many of the talents involved to help its rapidly sinking comics in the mid-1980s.   

 From all of this we can define the ages of British comics.

The Platinum Age                   ~ 1796-1938
The Golden Age                       ~ 1939-1949
The Silver Age                          ~  1950-1976
The Modern [Bronze Age]      ~  1977-1995

And there you have it;a brief  break-down and definition of the Ages. of British comics.  What we see today are little cliques of Small Pressers who come and go by the dozen every few months. Those who continue to declare there is an industry are rather sad as they depend on a non-existent thing to boost their ego and "be someone".

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

* Need I point out that this snippet has, again, proven 100% accurate despite those "in the know" ridiculing the idea when I wrote this.

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8. Default: White

Alternate Title: The Call Is Coming From Inside the House

So yesterday at lunchtime I trotted out my neat little stack of periodicals to read while I munched a ham sandwich.  I picked up the latest Kirkus (1 May 2016) and there I saw the Vicky Smith article: “Unmaking the White Default”.  As many of you may have noticed recently, Kirkus made a significant shift in the way that they review.  Normally, a children’s or YA book review will eschew mentioning the ethnicity of a human character unless that character isn’t white.  The implicit message to this is that white is the default and anything that isn’t white is the exception rather than the rule.  To combat this problem, Kirkus has taken to mentioning the ethnicity of all human characters, or at least making note of their skin tones.  In this article, Vicky discussed the change.

When this switch was initially made, the responses were mixed.  I’ve listened to the Horn Book Podcast that discussed the decision, noted the mistake in the Kirkus review of The Night Gardener (the 2016 picture book, not the Jonathan Auxier gothic middle grade), and taken an interest in the SLJ reviewers’ online course on diversity & cultural literacy (so far they have 125+ registered).

Imagine me reading all this while twiddling my thumbs.  Dum de dum.  Toodle-oo.  Hum hum hum.  Not really thinking too hard.  I review for Kirkus so, like all reviewers there, I’ve been adjusting my reviews as I write them.  There’s an art to it, really.  Some folks have been concerned that this sort of thing just reinforces how obsessed we are over skin color.  I see that, absolutely.  And I look forward to the day a Kirkus editor writes an article rescinding this reviewing method because we’ve come so far as a nation that we don’t need it anymore.  At the same time, I’m pretty sure the publishing industry isn’t quite there yet.  Or, for that matter, the nation.

I suppose it’s because I review for Kirkus that it took me this long to come to a very personal realization.  First off, do I agree with what Kirkus is doing?  Actually, I do.  The white default is more annoying than the old italicize-all-foreign-languages trope and hardly less bothersome than the describe-darker-skin-tones-entirely-in-terms-of-food method.

As Vicky Smith mentioned, it’s hardly a change everyone likes.  I saw that one commenter on the Horn Book podcast site wrote, “Why stop at hair color, eye color, skin color, DNA? Perhaps in the digital book future, we will move toward even greater specificity. A child could be placed at the center of each book she reads, the details customized to be about herself, the most interesting subject in all the world.”  A comment placing the whole debate in the context of how personalized electronic information leads to narcissistic youth sort of misses the point.  There may be kids out there that only want to read books about kids of their own races, but Kirkus isn’t doing this for them.  Would you find fault in a review mentioning a character’s chosen gender?  As a librarian, I need to know precisely what each book I read or need to read contains.  Characters are more than their ethnic backgrounds, but at the same time your race informs your life.  Not everyone has the luxury of ignoring it.

So.  We come to it.  If I agree with Kirkus, would I apply their method of mentioning all skin tones to the reviews I write on this blog?

Huh.

Hadn’t really occurred to me before.

I mean, the reviews that I write for this blog are my brand.  If this blog dropped off the face of the earth tomorrow, it would be the reviews I’d really miss writing.  And in the time that I’ve been writing them I’ve settled into a nice comfortable little format.  Opening paragraph, description of the book, mentions of writing, mentions of art (if applicable), concerns, closing paragraph.  Easy peasy.  And in my time reviewing I don’t think I’ve made an active change to the format at all.

Is white the default when I review?  Yes indeed.

Could I change this?  Yes indeed.

Now let me be clear about a couple things right off the bat.  When Kirkus first started applying this method to their reviews, it was awkward.  They got the details wrong on some books and shoehorned the mentions into some of the reviews.  I have a theory, and I could be completely off, that there’s been a learning curve since then.  There is an elegance to how you describe a character in any review.  Done correctly and with careful consideration and the mention feels natural.  Done wrong and it feels almost didactic.

In the end, and when you boil it all down, this is an easy switch to make.  I’m going to give it a try and see how it goes.  Plus, I have a distinct advantage over Kirkus.  While they must bring up racial skin tones within a scant 225 words, I have all the time in the world in my own reviews to make the mentions.  In a way, bloggers are in a better position to try out this change than professional review journals.

Die, default.  Die.

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9. Author Interview: Donna Gephart on Lily and Duncan

By Cynthia Leitich Smith
for Cynsations
ajudd@penguinrandomhouse.com

From the promotional copy of Lily and Duncan by Donna Gephart (Delacorte, 2016):

Lily Jo McGrother, born Timothy McGrother, is a girl. But being a girl is not so easy when you look like a boy. Especially when you’re in the eighth grade.

Dunkin Dorfman, birth name Norbert Dorfman, is dealing with bipolar disorder and has just moved from the New Jersey town he’s called home for the past thirteen years. This would be hard enough, but the fact that he is also hiding from a painful secret makes it even worse.

One summer morning, Lily Jo McGrother meets Dunkin Dorfman, and their lives forever change.

How would you describe your body of work for young readers? Are there themes you frequently revisit, and if so, what about them fascinates you?

I write for the lonely child I was when I visited the Northeast Regional Library in Philadelphia, looking for a friend inside the pages of a book. I often write on the themes of loneliness and feeling like you don't quite fit in. My books broach difficult topics, like bullying and grief, but always, always conclude on a hope-filled note.

Congratulations on the release of Lily and Duncan! What was your initial inspiration for writing this book?

Thanks! I write about the genesis of both Lily's and Dunkin's story in the author's note at the back of the novel. Lily's story stemmed from an unforgettable documentary I saw about a trans girl, and Dunkin's story emerged from a promise I made to our older son, who deals with bipolar disorder.

What was the time between spark and publication, and what were the major events along the way?

I saw the documentary that inspired me to write the novel in 2012. Recently, I was looking through my mountain of notes for the project and discovered that in 2012 I had written the ending of the novel . . . and that ending remains unchanged from the version that comes out May 3. It took all the time in between to figure out how to get to that ending — lots of research and deep thinking.

Would you elaborate on your research process?

I spent years researching this novel — talking to experts, watching documentaries, reading books, articles, memoirs and novels, etc.

How did you approach balancing the characters as joint heroes of the story?

This novel is told in alternating perspectives from each of the two characters. I had such familiarity with the mental health piece of this novel that I needed to remind myself to make Dunkin's story as strong as Lily's. When a reviewer recently said Dunkin's story almost eclipses Lily's, I know I have succeeded.

In this dual narrative, each character has a unique voice and tells their story from that very personal perspective. I felt this was the best way to get readers inside the heads and hearts of each character as they navigate very difficult terrain in their eighth grade lives.

What were the other challenges (literary, logistical, emotional, etc.) in bringing the story to life?

This was a difficult story to write because of the emotional intensity of each character's journey, but it was a story I felt strongly needed to be told to help encourage empathy and understanding and end stigma.

What advice do you have for authors in approaching stories with similar elements?

It's important to research thoroughly and tell the emotional truth. And don't forget the humor. Humor has a way of shining light in the darkest of places.

Your co-protagonists are in eighth grade, and the book is marketed to ages 10+. This developmental/literary category sometimes gets lost between middle grade and YA. 

Why should we pay more attention to tween-agers and books that reflect them?

Tween-agers deal with some difficult issues before the adults in their lives are ready for them to do so. I've already had teachers and counselors from elementary and middle schools tell me that students from their schools were transitioning. I know when I was teaching writing to young people, these tween-agers were dealing with some very difficult things that most adults would never have imagined.

It's important that these books be available for those young readers who need them — which is all young readers, to increase empathy, understanding and kindness.

The more we know, the better we do.

What do you do when you're not reading or writing?

Taking long walks, jogs or bike rides in nature always renews me. I love coming across wild turkeys or peacocks strutting around. And I enjoy cooking (and eating!) creative vegan meals. One of my favorite YouTube channels is Cheap, Lazy Vegan.



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10. Lane Smith’s There Is a Tribe of Kids

  One of my favorite picture books of 2016 thus far is Lane Smith’s There Is a Tribe of Kids (Roaring Brook, May 2016). I’ve got a review of it over at BookPage. That is here. Today, Lane shares some early studies and sketches, as well as some final art from the book. (Note: Some […]

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11. How to Choose & Mine Mentor Texts for Craft Moves: Teaching Writing with Mentor Texts

I've been researching and working with mentor texts for over a decade. Here's how I choose them and mine them for craft moves to teach young writers.

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12. Student-Writen Mentor Text: Teaching Writing with Mentor Texts

Before I engage students in any unit of study, I begin by surrounding students with what it is they will be studying. I place books of the genre being explored in book baskets,… Continue reading

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13. STORYWRAPS: Oh my! Open Mic Wednesday

STORYWRAPS: Oh my! Open Mic Wednesday: Open Mic Wednesday by... Me!!! Today I had a day that defied all reason.  I had a cable service man come o... Read the rest of this post

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14. Interview Time! John Patrick Green in Conversation with Eric Colossal

Who? What? Where? When? Why?

It’s a blog tour, kiddos!  A tour of bloggy goodness.  More than that, it’s a graphic novel blog tour done to celebrate Children’s Book Week in all its fancypants glory.

The subject of today’s interview is none other than Eric Colossal.  Colossal, if the name is new to you, is the author of the danged funny RUTABAGA series.  I’m a big fan of those books as they combine two of my favorite things: quests and eating.  And in a bit of a twist, I won’t be doing the interview here today, though.  That honor goes to John Patrick Green, author of the upcoming HIPPOTAMISTER.

Take it away, John!


  • Colossal, EricYour series is about a plucky adventurer who constantly finds himself in sticky situations that he manages to get out of by cooking delicious foods. How did this concept come about?

Growing up, I loved fantasy stories filled with weird beasts and mystical magic but I was always confused about why no one talked about the food in these lands. I mean, here in the real world we eat some pretty strange stuff. We eat bee barf and call it honey, we grind up a rock and put it on our food and call it salt. How come people who live in these magical lands never eat the strange beasts they fight in the bottoms of dungeons? So I created Rutabaga to do just that!

 

  • At the back of each book are a few complete recipes that readers can cook. How do you come up with those? I’ll admit, even the fictional recipes Rutabaga makes on his quests look tasty! Where do you get the ideas for those?

There are two criteria I have for making a recipe to share: Does the recipe contain a fun activity and does the final product look unique. For instance, there’s nothing new about dipping grapes in chocolate but taking that idea and adding steps to the recipe that make the final product look like a chocolate spider with a big ol’ squishy butt, that’s a perfect recipe for Rutabaga! In fact, that recipe is in book 2 and it’s one of my favorites! 

 

  • What is your creative process like?

9781419716584I watch a LOT of documentaries on food and food culture. My favorite ones talk about why people eat what they eat. Sure it’s fun to find out HOW to cook something but if you tell me WHY a culture has the diet it has you don’t just learn about food, you learn about people, and stories are about people. Other than that, most of my time is spent at my computer writing and drawing. I make the entire book digitally which is really handy when you have 2 cats who like to chew on paper!

 

  • Which do you love more: food or comics? Please explain your answer in a piechart. Or maybe just a pie.

It’s a tough choice but I’m going to have to say I love food more. A comic can take up to a year to write, draw, and color but you can cook a huge 3 course meal in about 2 hours. Imagine if it took a year to make breakfast! And just for fun here’s that pie chart you asked for:

 

  • What else are you working on? Can we expect further adventures of Rutabaga and his trusty kettle, Pot? Maybe an entire cookbook?

I have so many Rutabaga stories to tell, you have no idea! I probably have enough material for at least another 8 books! As long as there are people who want to read about my goofy little chef and his metal pal, I’ll keep making them!

  • What comics or children’s books are you currently reading?

Below the RootThe last book I read was a young adult book called “Below The Root” by Zilpha Keatley Snyder. It’s an older book about a society of people who live in cities built on gigantic trees. They wear long flowing robes that allow them to glide around in the air to get from branch to branch. They’re an extremely peaceful race, they don’t eat meat, they don’t fight, they won’t even write on paper because it would hurt a tree to make the paper. The books follow a group of children as they uncover the history of their people and the sinister things that have been done in the name of protecting them. It’s a three book series and I greatly enjoyed it!


 

Thanks for the interview, guys!  And what a fantastic book to end on.  Honestly, it would have been even more awesome if you’d mentioned the Commodore 64 game of Below the Root that was based on the book (to the best of my knowledge, the ONLY children’s book to be adapted into the Commodore 64 gaming system format), but we’ll let it slide.

 

Want to read more of these interviews?  Here’s the full blog tour:

Monday, May 2ndForever YA featuring Gene Luen Yang

Monday, May 2nd  – Read Write Love featuring Lucas Turnbloom

Monday, May 2ndKid Lit Frenzy featuring Kory Merritt

Tuesday, May 3rdSharp Read featuring Ryan North

Tuesday, May 3rdTeen Lit Rocks featuring MK Reed

Wednesday, May 4thLove is Not a Triangle featuring Chris Schweizer

Wednesday, May 4thSLJ Good Comics for Kids featuring Victoria Jamieson

Thursday, May 5thThe Book Wars featuring Judd Winick

Thursday, May 5thSLJ Fuse #8 featuring Eric Colossal

Friday, May 6thSLJ Scope Notes featuring Nathan Hale

Friday, May 6thThe Book Rat featuring Faith Erin Hicks

Saturday, May 7thYA Bibliophile featuring Mike Maihack

Saturday, May 7thSupernatural Snark featuring Sam Bosma

Sunday, May 8thCharlotte’s Library featuring Maris Wicks

Sunday, May 8thThe Roarbots featuring Raina Telgemeier

Thanks to Gina Gagliano and the good folks at First Second for setting this up with me.

 

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15. Dare to Dance: Introducing Dance Movements and Music into your Storytimes

Are you ready to energize your storytimes with dancing that goes beyond movement songs? Are you ready to dare to use your body to motivate caregivers while promoting children’s developmental needs for coordination, balance and gross motor skills?

Dancing Girls

Kids enjoy the Music in this Public Domain image from Cane River Creole National Historical Park

Our library expanded the role of our storytimes into a program that offers more than reading books, nursery rhymes and singing songs. We introduced Dance Time to teach children basic dance steps while listening to an age appropriate song.

There is so much librarians can do to enhance the library experience through dancing. Dancing provides opportunities for adults and children to learn to:

  • Follow the beats of the song with their feet and or hands
  • Balance their body parts
  • Coordinate their body movements

Additional benefits of dancing include:

  • Improve muscle tone
  • Reduce anxiety
  • Increase ability to feel comfortable about oneself

Although dancing is a natural channel of expression for many cultures, children from other cultures, including some that are predominant in the United Stated, are hardly exposed to it. In some cultures, babies are exposed to music and dancing from birth, with moms dancing around holding their babies in their arms regularly. Soon baby and mommy-and-baby dancing transforms into a semi dancing lesson with caregivers holding and moving their toddles’ hands and arms while following the beats of a song. As the child’s motor skills develop, the caregiver will now focus on simple steps using the child’s legs and feet. Dance will continue be part of the child’s life in elementary school where different dances are taught in music class.

Coming from a culture where this type of exposure to dance is widespread, in my work as a Youth Services Librarian, I noticed that lack of coordinated body movements following a rhythmic patterns in children attending our programs. Naturally, this observation changes depending on the cultural background of clients.

As a result of my observations, I supplemented our storytimes with a portion of the program called Dance Time. During Dance Time, children and caregivers are encouraged to dance to a tune following three basic dance steps that are reinforced at every storytime. When I introduced Dance Time for the first time, many children and parents were reluctant to follow me. However, after a couple months of Dance Time, these same clients appeared more relaxed and moved happily following the beat of the music.

Music is contagious and is an excellent tool to uplift spirits and transform a library program into a lifelong learning experience. Many librarians already use children’s songs during storytime. However, have you offered a “dance activity” or “movement song” to invigorate your programs? Let us know about it in the comments below.

If you feel ready to dare, try the following dance songs in your storytime:

  • Palo, palo Music Together. Palo, Palo. [Arranged and adapted by Gerry Dignan and K. Guilmartin]. Music Together: Bringing harmony Home [CD]. Princeton NJ: (2007)
  • El baile del perrito (Wilfrido Vargas)

***************************************************************************

Photo courtesy of guest blogger

Photo courtesy of guest blogger

Our guest blogger today is Kathia Ibacache. Kathia is a Youth Services Librarian at Simi Valley Public Library. She has worked as a music teacher and Early Music Performer and earned a MLIS from San José State University and a DMA from the University of Southern California. She loves to read realistic fiction and horror stories and has a special place in her heart for film music.

Please note that as a guest post, the views expressed here do not represent the official position of ALA or ALSC.

If you’d like to write a guest post for the ALSC Blog, please contact Mary Voors, ALSC Blog manager, at alscblog@gmail.com.

The post Dare to Dance: Introducing Dance Movements and Music into your Storytimes appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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16. Press Release: Kendare Blake's Anna Dressed In Blood

Cameron Monaghan Maddie Hasson Anna Dressed In Blood  We are so excited to share this amazing news with you regarding the incredible Kendare Blake's young adult series that begins with....  Anna Dressed In Blood...... Movie rights have been acquired by Fickle Fish Films which is owned by Twilight author Stephanie Meyer and Maddie Hasson (Freeform's Twisted) as  Anna and...

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17. How To Be A Pirate

How to Be a Pirate. Sue Fliess. Illustrated by Nikki Dyson. 2014. Golden Books. 24 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: Ahoy, landlubber! Come with me. Board me ship upon the sea! Not a pirate? Don't know how? Ye can learn to be one now! Come in closer--I don't bite. A pirate ye shall be tonight!

Premise/plot: The title says it all, this book "teaches" how to be a pirate.

My thoughts: I enjoyed it. I enjoyed it so much more than I thought I would. I like the rhythm and the rhyme of it. It gets that part right at least!!! The plot is simple enough, and, in a way it's predictable enough. There is just something joyful and fun about this one.
Rules for pirates?
Let's just say...
ye can throw all the rules away!
No more toothpaste!
Farewell, bath!
once ye choose the pirate path.
Text: 4 out of 5
Illustrations: 4 out 5
Total: 8 out of 10

© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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18. I am Jazz -- A Community Read Aloud

1st graders explore the cover before
reading. Photo by S. Chapman
Last Thursday, my entire school took part in a school wide reading of I Am Jazz, a picture book about Jazz Jennings.  Students from the 4s to 8th grade all read the book aloud and had discussions about different things ranging from the idea of "you are who you are", to being supportive allies, to bathroom politics.  The classroom conversations were all different based on the age of the students and the amount of information they brought to the rug. The high school library curated a collection of books featuring LGBTQ youth, and pushed out information from the Human Rights Campaign.

I am reminded time and time again, that my school is a pretty special place.  Yes, 4 year olds can talk about what it means to be transgender, as can 7 year olds, 10 year olds and 17 year olds. There are different entry points to these discussions and different directions that they can take.

Our community read aloud came about because of the Human Rights Campaign surrounding the cancellation of a read aloud of the book to support a transgender student in in Mount Horeb, WI.  From the HRC website -

       “Transgender children and youth are being targeted by anti-LGBTQ lawmakers and hate groups,” ... “Now, more than ever, they need to hear from adults who support and affirm them and help others understand who they are. And that can be as simple as sitting down for story time and opening a children’s book.”

Oftentimes teachers and librarians shy away from having discussions or sharing books that may provoke a reaction from some of the community.  It is important to realize that by not sharing stories about all people, whole segments of our communities are silenced.  As has been stated again and again in the We Need Diverse Books campaign, books are windows and mirrors.  And when young readers don't ever see themselves, they often feel lost and alone.

So if you've been avoiding booktalking or reading aloud certain titles, just dive in and do it. Chances are someone in the audience will breathe a huge sigh of relief, and others will have their eyes opened.

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19. What I Read in April


In terms of having a general fulfilling, happy life, April was a huge success.  Luke and I took our first vacation with just the two of us since our first anniversary.  That's right, in seven years we haven't traveled alone.  So this year, for anniversary #8 we went to Durham.  He had a Netrunner tournament (don't judge) and I...went to the farmer's market and all the bookstores and had the best massage of my life.  Oh right, and we also got to hang out just the two of us - we raced go-karts, went paddle boating, ate EVERYTHING, and played board games in our hotel room.  




In spite of (or maybe because of) all of the fun we were having outside of books, this reading month was dismal.  I cannot remember being in a book slump of this magnitude, ever.  I am reading almost nothing and the things I'm reading I'm not loving.  My average star rating in the month of August was 2.5.  Bleak, bleak, bleak.  I've tried everything to break my slump but it's just not happening.  Here's what I read in April:

The Pocket Wife by Susan Crawford
The Decent Proposal by Kemper Donovan
Some Day You'll Thank Me for This by Gayden Metcalfe
The Rattler by Jason McNamara
Tragedy Girl by Christine Hurley Deriso
After the Woods by Kim Savage
The Girl Who Fell by Shannon Parker
Golem by Lorenzo Ceccotti
The V-Word by Amber Keyser
The Widow by Fiona Barton

So there you have it.  It was a sad month for books - everyone cross your fingers that May brings me a new energy for reading and some amazing books!

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20. Sneak Peek: Shining Sea by Mimi Cross + Giveaway (US Only)

Hi, YABCers! Today we're super excited to present a sneak peek from Mimi Cross's SHINING SEA, releasing May 24, 2016 from Skyscape. Check out information about the book below, the sneak peek, and a giveaway!     SHINING SEA by Mimi Cross Release date: May 24, 2016 Publisher: Skyscape ISBN: 978-1503935532  ...

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21. Featured Review: Night Speed by Chris Howard

About this book: Only those young enough can survive the pulse-pounding rush of tetra, a dangerous and addictive new drug that fuels a nine-minute burst of superhuman strength and speed. Alana West has been trained to use the drug so she can pursue the young criminals who abuse its power—criminals like...

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22. Oooh, I made them "Very Angry"!

It appears I have made certain individuals

VERY ANGRY

However, let me make it very clear that emails to my email account on this matter will no longer be treated as confidential. Try to do so anonymously your ISP address WILL be reported and also posted here along with your ID which can easily be found via the ISP number.

You don't like the truth -tough.

But now it's up for those who keep allowing the comic bullies to continue to act.

For me, it's a closed subject.

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23. Hervé Tullet introduces Let’s Play!

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24. Comics: The Cowards Remain Silent and The Bullies Continue


If there is one thing that I have learnt over my many years in UK comics it is that there is no "one thing" wrong with it.

Comic publishers were businessmen and only produced comics to make money and they knew all the tricks of double and triple book keeping.  Doing hand shake deals with distributors so that comics were hardly delivered. "1% of books returned" -cancel book and merge it with another for the tax benefit and all the other little "perks" that came with it.

It took me thirty years of speaking to former comic management and bosses before it all made sense.  With 1% returns of a title the company was STILL making good money -what was the sense in cancelling a book making money? WHY was distribution, even into the 1980s so bad?  The books went out so where were they?

Spot a kid who can hardly draw -get him onto 2000 AD, say he's "hot young talent" but don't say you are only paying him less than half the pro going rate per page (that goes into your pocket). Kid vanishes because he started asking for more money as he was a "hot young star".  Next!

WHY did I and other script-writers have to produce a second copy of our work to accounts? Because there was so much fraud going on they wanted to make sure it was actually work they were paying for.  Why was the warehouse where IPC/Fleetway kept all the original art unknown to editors or people below management?  Theft.  Or as it was explained to me "original art walking off". There was quite a bit of trade in stolen comic artwork.

And who replaced the tried and trusted, dependable, professional script-writers and artists? People with over blown egos, mates of mates -all of who were willing to be a great pal....until the chance came to stick the knife in the back -even of people who helped them.

Not greatly talented "yes" men who sucker up to editors and put a few very bad words into the thick editorial ear to brown-nose even more and to kick the real talented pros who made British comics what they were out of work. Little fat heads who declare openly that they never asked for "creators rights" and that the "bosses should pay what THEY think is fair even if not much because they are the bosses".  Dregs.

You point unfairness out to these little back stabbing turds of poison and they try bullying.  They alter emails, they hide comments that counter anything they say. And if that does not work then they, and their equally slimy little pals of low IQ, will launch a trolling campaign. They do not just inundate your email inbox but they go onto every UK comic site they can where they lie outright and malign peoples character and work.  Complain, as a few have found, to those sites monitors and they will defecate themselves in fear of getting the same treatment.  Or, they are a part of this cowardly system and state it is "free speech" -but you cannot respond.

There are people out there who have no career and will start these flame wars and fan those flames because "I was merely stating a point of view" and so it goes on.

Most of this small group of Z list creators profess to be the "nice guys" of comics.  They smile and shake your hand but they've just slandered you to a group of other people.  They are known by everyone who works in comics for more than a month. Here is the thing: those who know will sit back, they will not speak out.  They allow friends and people who have helped them through very hard to be maligned.  They will not speak up.  They sit back.  Some will even agree with the ugly little wretches "because" they do not want to get the bad treatment.  These little dregs do not control UK comics or the industry because there is no UK comics industry.

These people are sitting back and allowing this to go on.  I hear from people who get this bad treatment.  Those who know or turn a blind eye to all of this are nothing more than spineless cowards and UK comics have paid the price of all of this.

They conspire and trash talk people on their private blogs and groups and here is the other thing: many of those organising UK comic conventions know all of this.  Yet they give free passes to these people to continue their bullying and harassment at those events. These organisers are also cowards.

Do not contact me privately and ask me not to cite you as an example. Speak out on your own blog.  Your Face Book page or even in comments on CBO.  I am no longer interested in your "I don't want to be bullied any further" -you can get legal protection from internet bullying and even report these people to their ISPs.  You let them get away with it then you must like it.  You are adults.  Act like adults.

If you want to get into comics then self-publish.  Have nothing to do with UK comic sites. Be your own boss and all that entails.  This is 2016.

Leave the untalented little men to live in their own little power fantasy worlds because they have no careers.  Most of them are stabbing each other in the back -I get the emails and it's almost comical.at times.  Their worlds are collapsing around them.

You do not need these people to produce and sell your own comics. Kablam!, lulu and other print on demand companies are out there.  Until the cowards speak-up the UK comic scene will remain stagnant and dying.

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25. Some of My Favorite Online Reading in April

I've read lots of great things online in the last several weeks. Here are some of the more important things I read--pieces that gave me lots to think about.

I love all things Kristine Mraz as she always reminds me what is important for our children. Her March article, Building Ecosystems of Joyful Growth is a must read. There are so many things mandated in schools these days but Kristine Mraz and Christine Hertz remind us that there are still many things that we control and it is the choices we make that determine the kind of experiences our children have.

I also loved this article by Bobby Dodd, How to Tell If You Love What You Do.  Loving what you do doesn't mean loving every day or that the work will be easy.  These insights are definitely worth thinking about --very smart way to think about our life's work.

I enjoyed this article as a blogger--On Reviewing Bad Books When You're Part of the Literary Community by Sarah Knight at Book Riot. Being thoughtful and kind and honest to readers is important to me as a blogger and Sarah brings up some important things to think about.

I found Hard Truths: Examining How Students Spend Their Time in Our Classrooms to be a great source for reflecting on my teaching and my classroom--what matches and what doesn't. The author says "When I reflect on whether my actions line up with my beliefs, I just take a close look at the past day, week, or month in my classroom."

My Worst Nightmare--What if I Accidentally Raise the Bully? is a must-read also, in my opinion. It gave me a lot to think about in the classroom-nothing new but really thinking about giving kids opportunities to get to know each other and to really go beyond the things that happened so easily in this story when it comes to bullying and kindness.

And just another reminder that yes, independent reading is worthwhile in NEA's recent article.

Ana Menendez Mourns Her Four-Year-Old's Childhood is an important read if you are a teacher of young children.

I loved the article Visualizing 21st-Century Classroom Design. I am a little obsessed with classroom design theories after reading The Third Teacher and The Language of School Design.

If you have not had a chance to listen to Donalyn Miller's podcast interview at Book Love, it is fabulous!

And this--On the Heartbreaking Difficulty of Getting Rid of Books. If you have read Marie Kondo's book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, but can't seem to make it work for your books, then this article is a must-read!

I love this article about understanding the types of mistakes. Fascinating!

And if you are a teacher who is feeling tired at the end of the year. Dear Teacher on the Tired Days is something you may want to put someplace where you can read it often during these last few weeks of the school year.

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