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1. Deborah Marcero's URSA'S LIGHT - Guest Post

Ursa’s Light
by Deborah Marcero

      I have always loved writing and drawing. My love of making art took me to art school, then to New York City for a few years, which then led to me to an MFA in Poetry.
      In all those years of my twenties I collected many tools, but even after my MFA, I still wasn’t sure how I was going to use all that I had learned to build a creative life. After a few years of freelancing, I decided to take another turn altogether and dedicated myself to teaching.
      I worked in the Chicago Public Schools as a reading and writing lead teacher for three years. This job, with all its rewards and hardships, gave me an incredible gift: it re-introduced me to the books I fell in love with as a kid, and showed me NEW books I wished were around when I had been in fifth grade.
      I led enrichment programs, one of which was “Young Authors," where I stayed after school and helped my students publish their works as authors and illustrators. Working with them, made me realize, I want to do this. For real. That was 2009.
      In between then and now, I stopped teaching, started my own photography business, moved to a small city in Michigan and began to dedicate half or more of my time to writing and illustrating. In Ursa’s Light, my debut picture book, so much of my journey to publication is in her story. Ursa is a dreamer and a scientist. She embodies one of my favorite quotes from Thoreau:
“If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them.”
     It is through being a dreamer and a pragmatist, that I found my path. And like Ursa, I have failed many times. Each of those failures shaped my journey and forced me to be even more determined, creative and patient.
      Ursa’s victory isn’t just that she becomes a shooting star in the play. It’s more than that. Her dream, her amplified study of the world, her taking risks and making embarrassing mistakes and ultimately being brave enough to be HERSELF in front of everyone - is her shining moment. To be her true self, to be seen, to be vulnerable – flaws, oddities and all – to follow the beat of her own drum, to forge her own path is Ursa’s journey, and it’s mine too.
      I am now writing and drawing every day. I wake up every morning to a life I am truly grateful for. I am still failing and learning and growing. But all those tools I’ve picked up along the way, from 1000 hours of figure drawing in art school to studying poetry, to teaching narrative writing to my fourth graders – all those tools are on my table now. They are in use, and helping me build the creative life I have always wanted.

      Once the manuscript was approved, I composed and paced all the spreads in detail with a very fine pencil (2H 0.3 mm lead).
      Once the sketches were approved, I inked in all the lines with Black Cat India ink and a dip-ink pen.
      Then, before I moved to color, I decided on a color palette for the entire book (this is the MOST important part!). I was also given the option to create a font for Ursa (which, consequently is one of my favorite things to do) so of course, I said YES.
     Ursa’s palettes of rusts, mossy greens, sometimes-heavy blacks, brick red and navy anchor the story in a gritty pull-yourself-up-with-your-own-bootstraps kind of tone, and avoids (for example) saccharine pastels, which could have turned Ursa’s tale into something different altogether. Not that I don’t love pastels – I DO! Just not for Ursa.
      After I established the palette, I created a stack of potential textures – woodblock cuts, ink lines, watercolor, gouache, etc. on my drawing table. Then, finally, I digitally layered, pieced and collaged them into the ink line-work.

     A little more behind the scenes development of my illustration style for Ursa’s Light can be found on my blog here: http://deborahmarcero.com/coming-soon-ursas-light/.
Website: deborahmarcero.com
Twitter: @deborahmarcero

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2. BLUE PRINT NYC 2016 - flyers

We are sticking with Blue Print for this next post with a selection of single flyers for designers who will be represented at the show by the Cinnamon Joe Studio, who are also the organisers of Blue Print. Here we see gorgeous designs from Balakrishna Madana, Rachel Westhead, Rosie Maddocks, Helen Black, Kim Hawes and Luan Thomas.

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3. BLUE PRINT/SURTEX 16 - harriet mellor

Harriet Mellor is a British artist and designer based in Germany who will be exhibiting for the very first time at both Surtex and Blue Print and is represented by Brenda Manley.

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4. 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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5. BLUE PRINT 2016 - ine beerten : zesti

Zesti - aka designer Ine Beerten) will be exhibiting at Blue Print in booth 35. Ine is very excited to be doing her first solo show after exhibiting with the Forest Foundry Collective at Surtex for the past two years. If this colourful kitchen collection (above & below) is anything to go by then you will see wonderful things from Zesti at the show and Ine's portfolio is certainly not to be

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6. almost finished

I've almost finished illustrating Jinks & O'Hare Funfair Repair! I ought to celebrate by tidying my desk.

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7. 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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8. महिला , रेप , न्याय प्रणाली और सन्नाटा

महिला , रेप , न्याय प्रणाली और सन्नाटा आजकल निल बटटा सन्नाटा फिल्म बहुत चर्चा में है वही आजकल रेप मामले में भी हमारी कानून व्यव्स्था की ओर से भी बहुत सन्नाटा है क्योकि कुछ हो ही नही रहा … आखिरी पेज की बस खबर बन कर रह गई है रेप धटनाए… !!! ऐसे में […]

The post महिला , रेप , न्याय प्रणाली और सन्नाटा appeared first on Monica Gupta.

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9. The Commuter Van

My cold not quite over –
With sniffles and cough –
I had a commitment
I couldn’t blow off.

The thought of the subway,
Its rush-hour crush,
Was turning my insides,
Congested, to mush.

But then I remembered,
A few blocks away,
Commuter vans idled
Each morning, each day.

And so I inquired –
How much? Was there room?
I paid and was welcomed,
Or so I assume.

In 15 short minutes
I made it downtown,
Preventing my usual
Subway ride frown.

For just 7 bucks
I could sit and relax
With no getting-stuck-underground
Panic attacks.

I don’t commute daily
But next time I must,
I’ll splurge on the van –
Let my wallet adjust!

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10. My tweets

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11. 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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Dear Readers,

Who are the lucky winners of GAZPACHO for NACHO? Is it you? It could be. 

                                          ***CONGRATULATIONS TO***  

WINNER #1:  Lynne Marie

WINNER #2:  Martin Segal

            Please e-mail me: claragillowclark(at)gmail(dot)com with your mailing address and how you'd like your book personalized by Tracey. Please respond by 5/12/16 or a new winner will be chosen.  

THANK YOU, SENORA TRACEY KYLE for sharing insights and inspiration for GAZPACHO for NACHO and for generously donating TWO copies of your charming book! As Nacho would say……Olé! 

 Visit Tracey's website:  http://www.gazpachofornacho.com

 Order her book here: http://amzn.to/1VL6EsE
School Library Journal Review: K-Gr 3: This is the charming story of a picky eater who only wants one thing to eat - gazpacho. While most parents would be delighted if their children ate this Spanish vegetable-based soup, Nacho's mother desperately tries to offer him other dishes, including typical Spanish desserts, to no avail. In an attempt to get him to expand his culinary repertoire, his mother takes Nacho to the market; these illustrations will delight readers with large renditions of beautifully whimsical vegetables, such as vibrant green chiles and large plump tomates that will surely make an enticing and delicious soup. The text is integrated nicely on the spreads and easy to read. Though Latin inspired, this tale of a picky eater will resonate with many. It will make a fun read-aloud because of the rhyming text in addition to lending itself to interesting discussions about food, food avoidances, and trying new things. A recipe for gazpacho and a glossary of Spanish words with the language articles in parentheses are appended.—Maricela Leon-Barrera, San Francisco Public Library

Thank you, dear readers, for stopping by to join the gazpacho party. We really enjoyed your fun and thoughtful comments. 

I'll be back next week with something totally different! Author posts and giveaways will continue through the year! Author Jennifer Swanson is up next in June. Take it from me, she's fabulous! 
                                             Happy CINCO DE MAYO!

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13. Baseball Books

Recommend me!Baseball Books for Kids Aged 7-12

The Hero Two Doors Down: Based on the True Story of Friendship Between a Boy and a Baseball Legend: A Story of Friendship Between a Boy and a Baseball Legend

By Sharon Robinson
Ages 8-12

Based on the true story of a boy in Brooklyn who became neighbors and friends with his hero, Jackie Robinson.

The year is 1948, and the place is Brooklyn, New York. Stephen Satlow, a local Jewish boy, is an avid Brooklyn Dodgers’ fan but a mediocre athlete, at best. When Jackie Robinson moves into his predominantly Jewish neighborhood and befriends Steve, his status changes instantly.
Their bond deepens when Jackie commits a well-intentioned blunder. He mistakenly gives Steve’s family a Christmas tree. As the tension clears, acceptance of Jackie’s gift of the tree becomes symbolic of two families from different religious and cultural backgrounds finding common ground. The friendship between the two families grows over the next few decades, when enormous social changes sweep the nation.

Scholastic Year in Sports 2016
By James Buckley Jr.
Ages 8-12
Featuring the latest and greatest superstars, this is a must-have guide for sports fans of all ages!
For sports fans everywhere, the 2016 edition of Year in Sports features full-color action photographs throughout, completely updated facts and stats, and a colorful interior design. Features info about all of the top athletes, championships, and legends from the major and secondary sports. Including your favorite stars like LeBron James, JJ Watt, Clayton Kershaw, Serena Williams, Lionel Messi, and McKayla Maroney, Scholastic Year in Sports 2016 is perfect for sports beginners, as well as the most devoted of fans.

Little Rhino #1: My New Team
By Ryan Howard and Krystle Howard; Illustrated by Erwin Madrid
Ages 7–10
From Major League Baseball superstar Ryan Howard and his wife, Krystle Howard, a former elementary schoolteacher, this exciting new series is a fun read for sports and book fans alike.
One afternoon, after a long day of second grade, Little Rhino comes home to find out that Grandpa James has signed him up for a baseball league. Little Rhino will finally be a part of a team. But Little Rhino will quickly learn that it is not always so easy to be a good teammate, especially when there’s a bully wearing the same uniform as you. See also the other Little Rhino books. 

The Way Home Looks Now
By Wendy Wan-Long Shang
Ages 8–12

Twelve-year-old Peter Lee and his family are baseball lovers, who bond over back lot games and talk of the Pittsburgh Pirates. But when tragedy strikes, the family flies apart and baseball no longer seems to matter. Is that true? Peter wonders if just maybe the game they love can pull them together and bring them back, safe at home.

Game Changers #3: Heavy Hitters
By Mike Lupica
Ages 8-12
Ben and his friends, the Core Four Plus One, are so excited to play in their town’s All-Star Baseball league. But in the first game of the season, Ben gets hit by a pitch. It’s never happened to him before and it shakes him up. Another player on Ben’s team, Justin, is acting really strangely. Ben has known Justin for a while and they’re friendly, but he’s not one of Ben’s closest “boys.” Justin is the team’s best hitter, but his behavior on and off the field is erratic.
Ben discovers that Justin’s parents are getting a divorce and Justin is thinking about quitting the team. Like good teammates do, Justin helps Ben deal with his hitting issues while Ben is there for his friend while his family is struggling.

42: The Jackie Robinson Story
By Aaron Rosenberg
Ages 8-12
A novel based on the movie 42—a biopic about Jackie Robinson’s history-making signing with the Brooklyn Dodgers as the first African American Major League Baseball player.

By Marcia Thornton Jones
Ages 7-10
Riley is awful at sports. He wants to quit the baseball team, but his dad won’t let him give up. So when one bad swing brings a three-legged dog into his life, Riley feels like he’s been thrown a curveball. How can he take care of a dog and make his dad proud? Champ is a former champion show dog. But when the accident that leaves him with Riley also leaves him with three legs, this dog has to learn some new tricks. Can Champ show Riley that winning doesn’t always mean coming in first? Together, Riley and Champ make a great team, but not everyone thinks so. Could they be separated?

Down to the Last Out: The Journal of Biddy Owens, The Negro Leagues
By Walter Dean Myers
Ages 8-12
Seventeen-year-old Biddy Owens is part of the Birmingham Black Barons baseball team and dreams of becoming a major league baseball player. However, in 1948 most black players can only play for the Negro Leagues. Jackie Robinson has just recently integrated and is playing for the Brooklyn Dodgers, but the white owners are reluctant to add too many blacks to their rosters. The Birmingham Black Barons are some of the best players in the league. But as they travel around playing ball, Biddy realizes that not everyone is ready for blacks and whites to play on the same team. Can Biddy prove he’s good enough to be part of the game he loves, no matter what color his skin is?

By Michael Northrop
Ages 8-12
When a young slugger gets hit by a pitch, he needs more than practice to get back his game.
Jack Mogens thinks he’s got it all figured out: he has his batting routine down, and now that he’s in sixth grade, he has a lock on a starting spot in Little League. (Well, almost. Okay, not really. It’s a two-man race, though, so he has a shot.) And if he can manage to have a not-totally-embarrassing conversation with Katie, his team’s killer shortstop, he’ll be golden. But when a powerful stray pitch turns his world upside down, Jack discovers it’s going to take more than a love of baseball to get back his game.

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14. 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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15. Rose window 16/100 #100daysofoilcrayon #the100dayproject...

Rose window 16/100 #100daysofoilcrayon #the100dayproject #medievalmotifs #matsbootcamp2016 #lisafirke

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

It appears I have made certain individuals


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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  Storytellers to gather up on the mountain. Will you be there? It's time Arkansas had its own gathering of creative geniuses, don't you think? Join us, won't you?

 July 16-17 at Sky Vue Lodge on top of the Boston Mountains south of Winslow, Arkansas. Writers create in many ways: Storytelling is only one. We write plays, poems, novels, non-fiction, we paint, sing, write and play music. Visit our website/Events

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18. Hervé Tullet introduces Let’s Play!

Imagination according to Einstein..

Unwrapping ...

Created by Hervé Tullet

Unwrapping some illustrations..

About the book...

Hey anybody want to play?  From the creator of "Press Here" and "Mix It Up", Hervé Tullet's brand new creation "Let's Play!" takes you out of your box to discover the emotions and excitement of playing with colour and line.

A kid-friendly yellow dot invites you to "Press the top corner to get me started," and you put your finger on the page!  Yellow dot is the guide extraordinaire that will encourage your child not to be shy but get involved with every page.  Fasten your seat belt as you play hide-in-seek in a forest of trees, enter into a dark ominous tunnel, and ssshhhhh!! tip toe up the stairs.  You will be energized as you flip, turn, clap and say za-za-zoommmm!   Surprises await the young reader as the yellow dot gets animated and bounces right off the page into your hair! Oh my!

 The yellow dot teaches your child to STOP at a red light, and GO at a green light. It introduces your child to a world of wonder, how to overcome obstructions, and come to terms with fears such as being afraid of the dark or being scared of heights.   Tullet is a genius when it comes to thinking creatively and making reading come alive with many playful twists and turns.  The book is non-stop fun page after page and little ones will be giggling and asking for more.  

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19. Tom Stoppard profile

       In the Evening Standard Katie Law profiles Tom Stoppard.
       A bit gossipy (and hair-obsessed -- he: "still has a mane of thick curly hair" (though that photo sure suggests he's getting a bit ... threadbare); his latest wife is: "girlish and goldilocked at 61"), there's still some decent stuff here, as well as the usual fun-at-his-expense about his (not-quite-)use of e-mail and the like.

"I've very rarely emerged from writing something which I feel deserves an alpha plus." For which of his plays would he award himself an alpha plus ? The Invention of Love, his 1997 play about A E Housman, "presses all my buttons," he replies, and then he pauses. "But I think it's rather bad taste to start proposing your own A-stars."
       (And while The Invention of Love is a great play, it is of course Arcadia that is his masterpiece.)

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20. 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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21. National Short Story Month - Sex Coffee by Desiree Cooper

Thought we'd start off National Short Story Month with  a read of an online journal short story. "Sex Coffee" by Desiree Cooper comes to us from Blood Orange Review. This is a great little flash piece that starts off:


You walk into the coffeehouse and pick a seat beside the thin woman whose beauty is coiled into tight vines of hair. Never seen her here before, you think as you slide into the bench beside her, careful not to get caught looking in her direction.

You take off your coat, power up your laptop, check your cell phone for messages. You coyly lay your trap.


I generally like second person point of view pieces--one thing I've found is that those that have made it into publication are usually written very well. I almost think that a little extra care must have gone into each one to help the story/poem/novel/essay get past whatever hang-ups an editor might have had about the point of view.

I like how, even though this is a pretty short flash, Cooper was able to find something to use as a thread from beginning to end--from the third paragraph:


The skinny, clear-skinned woman looks up, a gazelle at the watering hole.


From later toward the very end of the piece:


She leans so close to your lips, you can smell the savannah in her pores.


It's an example to me of the little things that Cooper does within her stories, both flash and the longer pieces, that elevates her work. Examples like this are easy to spot throughout Cooper's stories. "Sex Coffee" is an excellent flash capturing a certain type of dude just perfectly. While short in length, it doesn't lack any power, not wasting any words or space on the page. A great start to the month and just one more great effort from Desiree Cooper.


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22. Celebrate Mother’s Day: Read a Book Together!

Looking for a great way to celebrate Mother’s Day? Read a book together and try these activities.

The books below are just some of the books identified by Search Institute that model behaviors that make families stronger: collaborating, encouraging and exploring.

Read these books together and use the activities listed after each book to grow together as a family.

Brothers At Bat: The True Story of An Amazing All-Brother Baseball Team by Audrey Vernick; illustrated by Steven Salerno

brothers at bat
The kindness and generosity of the Acerra family helped their twelve sons become the longest-playing all-brother baseball team in history.

This book shows collaborating: learning, growing and solving problems with your child.

Try this after reading:

Your family is like a team. Each person plays a different role and has different talents. To help your family recognize these, sit down as a group and have each person write or draw pictures of a strength they think each member of the family brings to your team. Talk as a family about the work you do to support one another, as well as skills you can teach one another.

Abuela by Arthur Dorros; illustrated by Elisa Kleven

Take flight with Rosalba and her grandmother as they soar in Rosalba’s imagination all over New York City, visiting family and seeing places with special meaning to Abuela.

This book shows exploring: exposing your child to new ideas, experiences and places.

Try this after reading:

Maps offer fun opportunities to talk about and discover places of importance to you.
Talk with your child about familiar locations, like the places where friends and family live and work, then draw a map together that includes those spots. Or, ask your child to invent a world they’d like to travel to, then draw a map of it and pretend you’re visiting that place together. What do you see, smell or hear? Talk with your child about this new world and the things that make it different from your own.

My Name is Yoon by Helen Recorvits; illustrated by Gabi Swiatkowska

Yoon feels unhappy after her family moves from Korea to the United States, until she gets encouragement at home and at school and learns to write her name in English.

This book shows encouraging: praising your child’s efforts and achievements.

Talk and ask questions as you read:

  • Tell your child about a time you felt like you didn’t belong. ASK: Has that happened to you? What did you do? Did someone help you feel included?
  • Yoon’s parents are proud of her when she sings to them in English. Remind your child about a time you were proud of him or her. ASK: What are you proud of?

Educators and program leaders serving children in need can find more books with tips and activities in the Build Strong Families with Stories section of the First Book Marketplace. Developed in partnership with  Search Institute, through generous funding from Disney, each book comes with a FREE downloadable tipsheet with tips and discussion questions like the ones above.



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23. Best Translated Book Awards !

       They've announced the winners of the Best Translated Book Awards, and the fiction award went to Signs Preceding the End of the World (by Yuri Herrera, translated by Lisa Dillman).
       (The poetry prize went to Rilke Shake (by Angélica Freitas, translated by Hilary Kaplan).)

       I was certainly impressed by the Herrera -- and it is also one of the finalists where the translation-achievement is perhaps more obvious than elsewhere, making it an even more obvious choice. It was presumably somewhat of an outsider -- a slim volume, up against heavyweights like Lispector and the concluding Ferrante (I suspect the concluding Knausgaard, two years from now, will make a stronger showing as far as series-finales go) -- but I can't imagine there will be much criticism of the selection: this is a deserving book, and translation.

       (Note, however, that this means we won't see a Best Translated Book Award - Man Booker International Prize double this year, as the Herrera wasn't a finalist for the MBIP. (The winner of the MBIP will be announced 16 May).)

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24. StoryMakers | Mother’s Day Special

StoryMakers - Mother's Day Special 2016 Featured Image

In the spirit of celebrating moms KidLit TV produced a Mother’s Day special inspired by Josh Funk’s popular rhyming picture book, Lady Pancake and Sir French Toast. Lady Pancake and Sir French Toast are best friends who find out there is only one drop of syrup left in the refrigerator. Soon the friends embark on a hysterical and sometimes treacherous dash to get that one last drop. Of course they they both learn a valuable lesson — but the end is anything but typical.

StoryMakers host Rocco Staino and Josh Funk were joined by dad and travel blogger Jason Greene (One Good Dad). Together the trio cooked up a Mother’s Day breakfast fit for a queen … A queen who loves pancakes, French toast, strawberries and cream! If you’re still thinking about what to do for the special lady in your life — whether she be your partner, wife, or mom — we highly recommend watching this episode. If that’s not enough to keep you glued to the screen, two of Jason’s children make a special appearance.

What’s your idea of the perfect Mother’s Day? What’s your favorite breakfast dish? Let us know in the comment section below!

We’re giving away three (3) copies of Josh Funk’s picture book, Lady Pancake & Sir French Toast. The giveaway ends at 11:59 PM on May 18, 2016. Enter now!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Mother's Day Special StoryMakers - Josh Funk & Jason Greene Pinterest Image

Download the free Lady Pancake & Sir French Toast activity kit.

Mother's Day Special - Lady Pancake & Sir French Toast Activity Kit Cover


Lady Pancake & Sir French Toast
Lady Pancake & Sir French Toast - Mother's Day Brunch
Written by Josh Funk; illustrated by Brendan Kearney
Published by Sterling Publishing

A thoroughly delicious picture book about the funniest “food fight!” ever! Lady Pancake & Sir French Toast have a beautiful friendship—until they discover that there’s only one drop of maple syrup left. Off they go, racing past the Orange Juice Fountain, skiing through Sauerkraut Peak, and reeling down the linguini. But who will enjoy the sweet taste of victory? And could working together be better than tearing each other apart? The action-packed rhyme makes for an adrenaline-filled breakfast … even without a drop of coffee!


Via Josh Funk Books
Josh Funk writes silly stories and somehow tricks people into publishing them as picture books – such as the award-winning Lady Pancake & Sir French Toast (Sterling), as well as the forthcoming picture books Pirasaurs! (Scholastic 8/30/16), Dear Dragon (Viking/Penguin 9/6/16), It’s Not Jack and the Beanstalk (Two Lions, 2017), and more.

Josh is a board member of The Writers’ Loft in Sherborn, MA and the co-coordinator of the 2016 and 2017 New England Regional SCBWI Conferences.

Josh grew up in New England and studied Computer Science in school. Today, he still lives in New England and when not writing Java code or Python scripts, he drinks Java coffee and writes picture book manuscripts.

Josh is terrible at writing bios, so please help fill in the blanks. Josh enjoys _______ during ________ and has always loved __________. He has played ____________ since age __ and his biggest fear in life is being eaten by a __________.

Website | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter


Via One Good Dad
From the time I was a child, my dream was to become an actor and a writer. After college, I set out along with my wife to chase that dream. We arrived in New York City and I was ready to “make it.” After a few years of auditioning and bit parts here and there, my wife gave me the news that I was about to take on the biggest role imaginable — the role of a daddy. After my son was born, I became a stay-at-home dad and now I’m a proud papa of 4 children. Being a stay-at-home dad has changed the way I think about myself and the world around me. And that has lead me to become a dad blogger and travel blogger.  My blog touches on parenting challenges and rewards, faith, travel, entertainment, sports, sponsorships and reviews, or whatever else is keeping me from getting that great night of sleep I so desperately need.

Website | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter

Facebook Group Facebook Page Instagram | Newsletter | Pinterest | Twitter YouTube

Host: Rocco Staino | Executive Producer: Julie Gribble | Producer: Kassia Graham

This post contains affiliate links.
All Rafflecopter entrants must reside in the United States and be at least 13 years old.

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25. 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.

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