If you want to see the other side of the world, you can do two things: turn the world upside down or travel there yourself… …which is exactly what 14-year-old Laura Dekker did. One Girl, One Dream is her incredible story. Laura Dekker was 14 years old when she started her solo navigation around the world […]Add a Comment
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Blog: Perpetually Adolescent (Login to Add to MyJacketFlap)
JacketFlap tags: Book News, laura dekker, one girl one dream, solo circumnavigation, youngest ever, Add a tag
Blog: Finding Wonderland: The WritingYA Weblog (Login to Add to MyJacketFlap)
JacketFlap tags: AF, Happenings, Kidlitcon, Views, World o' Blogs, Add a tag
I meant to do this post last Thursday, but work spun dizzily out of my control, tossing me into a whirling black hole (do black holes whirl? I feel like they do) of getting-caught-up. Tanita's done some amazing posts with lovely photos of the... Read the rest of this postAdd a Comment
This is a simple but cute picture book for younger children. The whole book is wordless and takes place at night. It features a boy who's camping near the woods and decides to go on a walk with his flashlight. The beam from the flashlight reveals the hidden world of night to the boy. Other select parts of the woods are lit as well: birch trees, luna moths and june bugs. The moon rises and offers another source of light. Interspersed are cut-out shapes offering glimpses of critters in trees and ponds. At the end, the animals get to use the flashlight and have fun shining it on the boy. A unique and fun picture book! Add a Comment
Blog: Original Content (Login to Add to MyJacketFlap)
JacketFlap tags: Saving the Planet eBook, Add a tag
Saving the Planet & Stuff is reviewed today at Reduce Footprints, a blog dedicated to researching and sharing information about easy ways to do positive things for the Earth. My favorite line--"The story is also wonderful for adults, of all ages, as it touches on the challenges of living life as a "greenie", in a fun and interesting way."
Notice that blogger Cyndi runs a couple of activities designed to build the green community. Add a Comment
Jude and her brother, Noah, are incredibly close twins. At thirteen, isolated Noah draws constantly and is falling in love with the charismatic boy next door, while daredevil Jude surfs and cliff-dives and wears red-red lipstick and does the talking for both of them. But three years later, Jude and Noah are barely speaking. Something has happened to wreck the twins in different and divisive ways - until Jude meets a cocky, broken, beautiful boy, as well as an unpredictable new mentor.
The early years are Noah's story to tell. The later years are Jude's. What the twins don't realize is that they each have only half the story, and if they could just find their way back to one another, they'd have a chance to remake their world.Writing
I'm going to do my best to write this without shrieking or flailing and just stick to the facts about how well-written this novel is. What I found most amazing was how clearly I could picture every scene and every character in this book, despite the fact that Nelson doesn't include a lot of description. I'm quick to admit that most of the time when I read, I have vague pictures of things in my head, but I focus more on what's happening than on how it "looks" in my mind. I think the reason I found this one so easy to picture was that the characters are just so very real.
That doesn't mean that I think the characters were entirely believable - I spent the first chapter feeling really weird about Noah and the way his mind works. I'm still not willing to say that I think she captured a believable voice with him. But the point of a novel isn't always realism. And I think that in this one, the character of Noah is so much more than having a believable teenage voice. He represents something, and his language reflects that.
Once I got used to the metaphorical language and brilliant artistic images that are thrown around so perfectly, I just fell in love with who Noah and Jude are and how they relate to each other and to their family. It's something I continue to find myself thinking about a mulling over even after having finished the book, because there is just so much there in terms of the ideas that Nelson is putting out, in addition to the compelling story and lovable characters.
I feel almost sacrilegious comparing a book, especially a YA book, to Bel Canto, which is my very favorite book ever. Bel Canto was the first book I read that literally took my breath away and I am thrilled to report that Jandy Nelson replicated that amazing experience in this book. It's just beautifully done. The words are beautiful, the story is beautiful, and the meaning of it all is, yep, beautiful. I've found myself retelling scenes in my head throughout the week, while I'm not reading, just because thinking about it is that much fun. And I don't necessarily mean light or fluffy fun, because it's hard to read at times and deals with some really difficult subject matter. It was fun in the way that something that pulls at your heartstrings and makes you sit up and pay attention is fun.
I really can't think of anyone I wouldn't recommend this book to. I think there's something there to appeal to all readers, including those who aren't typically drawn to YA. I recommend going into it with an open mind and not expecting to find the characters to be accurate depictions of your average teen. Noah and Jude are anything but average, but I think the amazing writing and the deeper meanings more than qualify any suspension of disbelief required.
Thanks to NetGalley for provding a copy for me to review. Add a Comment
Blog: Inkygirl: Daily Diversions For Writers (Login to Add to MyJacketFlap)
JacketFlap tags: Comics for writers, breakup, grammar, kevin, Add a tag
My son and I are instant fans. We have taken to making fan art in our spare time. Shown here are Peppermint Butler & Cinnamon Bun (who always seems to be melting?)Add a Comment
Blog: So Many Books (Login to Add to MyJacketFlap)
JacketFlap tags: Books, Graphic Novels, Reviews, Bryan O'Malley, Add a tag
I don’t remember where I heard about Bryan O’Malley’s newest graphic novel Seconds, but I immediately put myself on the library hold queue for it. You may recognize O’Malley as the creator of the Scott Pilgrim graphic novel series or maybe you might just know that the movie Scott Pilgrim vs. the World is based on one of those novels (I learned from the movie that I should have vegan superpowers but I must be doing something wrong because I’m still waiting for them). I’ve not read the graphic novel series, have you? And if so, should I?
But back to Seconds. It is about Katie, a successful chef who runs a hip restaurant called Seconds. She is in the midst of trying to strike out on her own with a brand new restaurant but the building is in such bad shape renovations are taking forever and costing a lot of money. Katie lives in a tiny room above Seconds in order to save money. One evening, there is an accident in the kitchen and a young waitress whom Katie has been trying to make friends with is badly burned. In her room, Katie is presented with a chance to change things. A notebook appears in which she it to write what she wants to change and then eat the little mushroom that was left beside it.
Now I know what you are probably thinking about that mushroom! I thought it too. But it isn’t that sort of mushroom. What it does is erase the accident. It never happened. Katie is happy and relieved and wishes she had more mushrooms because there is so much she would change if she could. And then she discovers the mushrooms are growing beneath the floorboard of a not frequently used storage closet behind the kitchen. She helps herself to quite a few of them, a dozen. And every time something happens that she doesn’t like, she can change it. Her new restaurant, her old boyfriend, friends, she changes them all sometimes more than once. She begins to get confused about what has and hasn’t happened.
She learns from Hazel, the waitress and now her friend who burned her arms that began this whole thing, that Seconds has a house spirit. The house spirit’s name is Lis and she makes an appearance in Katie’s room demanding she give back all those mushrooms, Lis’s mushrooms. But Katie refuses. Things get bad. Really bad.
The story is good, well told. The art is good too. They combine to make an enjoyable reading experience. I liked that Katie is a successful woman and this is her story. She is not drawn as tall and gorgeous, impossibly skinny and extremely well endowed. Nope, Katie is normal. Kind of short even with sort of crazy hair. I also enjoyed mulling over all the ways “seconds” can be applied in the story. From food so good you want seconds to second chances to how a life can change in seconds.
I don’t read graphic novels very often, not because I don’t enjoy them. I think I am just very picky about them. They have to meet some kind of worthiness test that I can’t even begin to articulate. But Seconds passed the test. I’m glad it did because it’s a good read.
Filed under: Books, Graphic Novels, Reviews Tagged: Bryan O'Malley Add a Comment
Blog: Cartoon Brew (Login to Add to MyJacketFlap)
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Meet the Burrowing Owl. He has recently lost his mate to a large predator that is hunting in his treacherous natural habitat. How will he survive in this dangerous wilderness alone? This is a story of love lost… and survival.Add a Comment
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Of course, if you get on a roll and skip over a topic, it becomes obvious once the wrong slide pops up. But I recovered from this mishap, which is thankfully rare. And, at the end of my talk, I even got my first standing ovation!
Now that I've flown on to the next state, I totally regret chickening out of a picture with those statues. Add a Comment
Blog: Red Fish Circle (Login to Add to MyJacketFlap)
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Here is a recent design that I sold to Blueberry Diapers. Check out their wonderful company and product line.
Blog: Perpetually Adolescent (Login to Add to MyJacketFlap)
JacketFlap tags: Book Reviews - Childrens and Young Adult, Dimity Powell, carpet ride, children's picture book, Elise Hurst, illustrator, imagination, Imagine a City, Omnibus Books, Scholastic Australia, shaun tan, wordless picture books, Add a tag
The sumptuous cloth cover and unfurling clouds swirling across the end pages indicate something special about Elise Hurst’s latest picture book, Imagine a City. You’ll recognise Hurst’s illustrations from her other picture books such as The Night Garden, Flood and The Midnight Club to name a few. Imagine a City is a glorious collection of […]Add a Comment
Blog: PW -The Beat (Login to Add to MyJacketFlap)
JacketFlap tags: Art, Cartoonists, Gift Guide, Shopping List, Top News, Ben Templesmith, The Walking Dead, Add a tag
Renowned horror/fantasy artist Templesmith has been experimenting with hand-painted covers for several books, and this is an original one of a kind oil painting done on a copy of The Walking Dead Volume 1. The painting was varnished, and I don’t know if you can read the book inside, but it seems to me that this is a pretty darned sweet collectible…especially for Halloween.
Also…Christmas is coming.
More Templesmith stuff at the 78Squid retail website.Display Comments Add a Comment
Blog: Original Content (Login to Add to MyJacketFlap)
JacketFlap tags: author appearances, CCLC-Connecticut Children's Lit Calendar, Add a tag
Beware of scams perpetrated by authors and/or malicious others.
Blog: PJ Reece - The Meaning of Life (Login to Add to MyJacketFlap)
JacketFlap tags: Blog, The Writer in Love, the writer's life, Add a tag
I didn’t hear it coming.
For an opening line I think it works. What do you think?
See what coming? Exactly!
The reader is going keep reading to find out, and isn’t that the overarching purpose of the first sentence—to compel the reader to read the second sentence. Etc.
I was going to write a blog piece on “openings.” By examining the first paragraphs of my upcoming book, The Writer in Love, I would assess the effectiveness of my beginning, see if it…
- Established a Central Question
- Made a promise
- Set a trajectory
But that opening line got hold of me and wouldn’t let go. It wanted this blog post all to itself.
I sure didn’t see that coming.
Then it hit me—that line echoed far beyond Page One. So innocently tossed onto the page many months ago, it infected the entire manuscript, becoming a major motif throughout the book.
The cheetah is the first and most obvious thing I didn’t see coming. It approached me from behind and grabbed my hand in its mouth and wouldn’t let to. True story. I didn’t see it coming was the perfect way to establish an essential fact of fiction:
Protagonists never see it coming.
Drama depends on it.
Protagonists don’t see what coming? That which will destroy them. For their own good! It’s amazing how many times we can hear the poets and the mystics say something like this…
“Our body is a ship that sails on deep blue waters. What is our goal? To be shipwrecked!”
And still we complain, “I didn’t see it coming.”
Neither do writers see it coming.
We get in over our heads, trust me. We get excited about creating the kinds of payoffs that give readers their money’s worth. We find ourselves writing about characters whose only way out of Act II is to surrender to the storm, and by that I mean forsake who they’ve always thought they were.
I didn’t see that I was laying a trap for myself by trying to write in depth about such sacred story mechanics. I was in way over my head. I was drowning, myself. I almost quit. I didn’t see that coming, either.
I wrote a scene in which I drown. (That was fun.) I didn’t see that coming, either.
I never expected to take almost two years to write The Writer in Love.
To be honest, I never anticipated becoming a writer. I was going to be a mapmaker.
I never thought I’d have children until I tended my grandfather on his deathbed.
Nor did I imagine my children having children!
I didn’t foresee my website vanishing a few weeks ago. I thought I’d lost everything. I was resigned to starting over, but most of it is resurrected, and with a new design. Look, I’m blogging again!
The cool thing about blogging is you can start with a line like, I didn’t see it coming, and see where it goes. Because we don’t write to explain, we write to find out.
We might equally say that we live to find out.
I’ve found out a lot while writing The Writer in Love. And it all started with this opening scene:
I didn’t hear it coming.
It hadn’t finished devouring the bait when my Bolex ran out of film, so I retreated but slowly, walking away through the elephant grass when it surprised me from behind by clamping down on my hand hard enough to hold me but not break the skin. The growl in its guts, I could feel the vibration in my arm if you can imagine that. And then in my own belly. It’s a funny thing when your life stops suddenly dead in its tracks, it’s not funny at all because there you are for the first time without a future. As for the past, well, it’s your fault—my fault!—I had been carrying the bloody bait in that hand. Of course, the cat could smell it. I could see that now.
I should have seen it coming.
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Blog: So many books, so little time (Login to Add to MyJacketFlap)
JacketFlap tags: writing advice, Add a tag
There's nothing quite like falling in love with a new idea.
A lot of times it will happen when you are in the middle of another book. A book that has gone from pure pleasure to write to a kind of muddy slog.
And then a voice will whisper inside of you: "This book sucks. But I'm a anew idea! I would make a wonderful book. I would practically write myself. "
Do not give into temptation. Do not divorce your current book to run off and hastily marry your new idea. Because one day you will wake up and you'll realize you are stuck in the same muddy slog, only now it's with your once shiny new idea.
Does that mean you should give up on your wonderfu, sexyl new idea?
No. But what you should do is make it your affair book. Yes, sneak off every now and then to write it. Write with passion. Leave when it starts suggesting you need to do the dishes or take out the garbage. Come back to it with presents of energy and excitement and insight. Repeat as necessary.
Two of the best books I've ever written were not under contract, and I really shouldn't have been writing them. But I snuck out every now and then to meet up with them secretly. And I'm so glad I did.
Blog: andrea joseph's sketchblog (Login to Add to MyJacketFlap)
JacketFlap tags: AJ, andrea joseph, Andrea Joseph drawings, car, drawing, Go Sober For October, illustration, illustrator, journal, Paul Weller, pen, Sheffield, sketchbook, sketchcrawl, Urban Sketchers, Urban Sketchers Yorkshire, Add a tag
Urban Sketchers Yorkshire, my sketchcrawling buddies, too. We spent the day at the National Emergency Vehicles Museum in Sheffield. It was right up my tree. Loved the subject matter. I could spend another day, or ten, there. And, maybe even a night; apparently there are many ghosts in this former police and fire station. If you believe in that sort of thing, of course. I don't but I'm willing to have my mind changed.
Go Sober For October, I do a lot more with my weekends. It's much easier when you're not factoring in a 'big night' or a hangover. That's just another benefit to being sober; doing more stuff with your time. Just look at how my blogging has increased in the last month!
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JacketFlap tags: Encouragement, Giveaway, Writing career, Christy Ottaviano Books/Henry Holt, Deb Pilutti, picture books, Ten Rules of Being a Superhero, Add a tag
It’s my treat to welcome children’s book author and illustrator Deb Pilutti. Deb and I recently traveled to and from the SCBWI fall conference on Mackinac Island. The many miles spent on Michigan highways gave me a chance to get to know Deb better. She’s a peach. (Well, not literally. But that would make her literary abilities all the more extraordinary, now wouldn’t it?) I know you’re going to enjoy getting to know her as much as I did. And so, my Frog on a Dime friends, meet my friend Deb Pilutti . . .
So, Deb, when did you know you wanted to become a children’s writer?
Let’s just say I was a little dense, so it took me awhile. The signs were there. When I was younger, I loved reading more than anything. A blank book was my most prized possession. I once had Leo Lionni as a design instructor in a college workshop and I was giddy to meet him because Little Blue and Little Yellow was one of my favorite books as a child. But still, I never saw writing and illustrating for children as an option. It wasn’t until I realized I was hoarding my own children’s books, and not sharing that it was something I wanted to do.
What is it about writing for children that appeals to you versus writing for adults?
What’s the most encouraging thing anyone has ever said to you related to your work?
Early on, I submitted a manuscript to an editor. She said it wasn’t right for her, but that she liked the illustrations and thought that I was a good writer and invited me to submit to her again. I was not very confident about my writing at that point, so it was exactly what needed to hear.
What advise would you give to someone who has been pursuing publication for a long time, with close calls, but no contracts?
Of course, I would say to keep trying. The fact that the person has come close means that they are on the right track. But I would also recommend doing something a little different to push yourself even more. It could be devoting more time to writing, or attend a conference or workshop or online class. A few years ago, this was the case for me. I decided to spend more time writing, which meant turning down some freelance opportunities. I also spent a couple of weekends at a writing retreat with some friends.
What would you like to share about your NEW book–details! details!
Ten Rules of Being a Superhero is published by Christy Ottaviano Books/Henry Holt is a story about the day in the life of a Lava Boy and his superhero toy, Captain Magma.
Lava Boy is making up the rules as he and Captain Magma go along – always in the spirit of superhero play. The rules are about being super from a child’s perspective, as in “Rule No. 2: Saving the Day is messy. But everyone understands,” or “Rule No. 5: Sometimes, Superheroes make a lot of noise.” At times, the action on the page is at odds with the rule.
I had so much fun making this book! And plenty of practice too, as I have spent an incredible amount of hours (A LOT) discussing the merits of various superhero powers with my children over the years. I particularly liked painting the spreads with Lava Boy’s toys in various states of distress. I am drawn to awkward, retro toys.
And for the super-super serious portion of our interview—let’s say your moral compass went missing. What make/model of car would you steal and why?
An old Ford pick up truck from the early 60s. And while my moral compass is missing, I’d nab a really great pair of vintage cowboy boots to go with it.
Good answer! Let’s try another one–on the assumption we could find a phone booth somewhere (a museum perhaps), who is the children’s author or illustrator you’d most like to be trapped inside with?
Maira Kalman. First of all, she seems like an incredibly interesting person and I would love to chat with her. She finds beauty and poignancy in the absurd, and I think she would find it in the phone booth. Plus, I would hope we would laugh a lot.
Feeling brave? How about naming three things we’d be surprised to learn about you.
I can only think of odd things – oh well. I talk to myself a lot. I have a collection of Star Trek figurines on my desk and I have an irrational aversion to using a salad fork.
Hey, I didn’t know you were a Trekkie. Thank you so much for stopping by, Deb. Best wishes to you on your super new book!
Want to WIN YOUR VERY OWN COPY of Ten Rules of Being of Superhero?
Between now and Noon on Friday, October 24, leave a comment and answer this question–Who is your superhero?
Deb Pilutti feels lucky to have a job where reading, playing with toys and watching cartoons is considered “research”. She lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan with her husband,two kids and one nervous border collie. Deb has worked as a graphic designer and illustrator, creating toys and products for children and is the author and illustrator of TEN RULES OF BEING A SUPERHERO (Ottaviano/Holt) and BEAR AND SQUIRREL ARE FRIENDS (Simon & Schuster), which will be published in 2015. Additionally, she illustrated THE TWELVE DAYS OF CHRISTMAS IN MICHIGAN and wrote THE CITY KID AND THE SUBURB KID (both with Sterling).
And now, in honor of our special guest, and in keeping with my quote-closing tradition, we’ll close with one of Deb’s favorite quotes . . .
Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working. ~ Pablo Picasso
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A lot of bloggers are thinking about what the next steps are after this weekend. How do we react when negative status updates about a book can get you stalked? Is an author going to show up on my doorstep? Call me at work and harass me until I cry? Blogging isn't a job, it's a hobby. It's supposed to be fun, a way to connect with other book nerds.
It's not supposed to put you in danger.
Of the two big issues facing book bloggers right now, a major lawsuit looks like "lucking out."
That's fucked up.
And it's worse than authors showing up in your front yard and calling you at work. It's the people who automatically take her at her word that the reviewer was wrong and harassing her. She wasn't. I know. I'm shocked, too! A woman who thought that showing up on someone's doorstep was a rational response to bad status updates has a skewed version of the reality leading up to that point. Shocking! But there are a lot of people who are applauding her for "fighting back."
So, what's next? Do I seriously have to balance the safety of my family with my desire to talk about books? Is this a real live thought process I've been having the past few days? REALLY?
I blog and tweet with my real name. It's not that hard to figure out where I work. And part of this is on purpose--my blog is personal and mine and I do it on my own time, but to say it's 100% separate from work is hard. My day job (which includes regularly scheduled nights and weekends) affects the blog--it informs what I read, my library users inform my reactions to titles and my blog affects my day job-- it's opened up professional doors to me and given me opportunities I may not have had. Many of my blogging friends are also professional colleagues and part of my personal learning network. My blog is on my resume. Honestly, in the grand scheme, at this point, it doesn't make sense for me to change it to a pseudonym. But what am I leaving myself open to?
And here's another area-- I'm not just a book blogger. I'm also a professional reviewer. I regularly review for School Library Journal (paywalled) and the RT Book Reviews website. These are signed reviews and SLJ even includes my place of employment after my name. If anything, this is what makes the most sense to give up. The majority of my critical or negative reviews are professional (mostly because I'm not apt to finish a book I don't like unless it's assigned.) But, I really like reviewing professionally. It's made me a better reader and a better blogger. It has helped my career and sometimes I get paid. It's not something I'm willing to give up, and I don't think I should have to in order to protect my safety.
And then my thought process turns to the fact that the affected bloggers are much bigger than me, so it's not going to be an issue for me... except. I have had an author track me down at work about a review I wrote. This person used my library's "contact us" form to comment on my review of their book. Luckily, it was for one of the professional outlets, so I could just forward it to my editor and let them deal with it.
Who do I forward the scary lady on my front lawn too? What happens when someone defames me in an international newspaper? What happens if the it's the blog, where I'm the editor? Will my professional reputation be dragged through the mud and affect my ability to put food on the table?
Where do I go next? Do I give into my fear? Is that letting the terrorists win (in the parlance of our times?) Do I accept the risk, knowing there are more Kathleen Hales out there and if they can write well enough (and let's be honest, that article was fascinating and compelling. She can clearly write. She just can't recognize dangerous and probably illegal behavior) people will just take her word at it without even trying to hear the other side of the story?
In a month and a half, Biblio File will turn 10. Yes, a decade of book blogging. Posting has been spotty at times, and this is not the first time I've seriously considered stopping. But, every other time it was because of internal issues--do I really want to devote the time it requires or do I want to prioritize other things in my life? Do I still have the passion to make it worth the brain space? And I've always just taken a break or powered through. It's never because of something external before. And... I just don't know now.
I just don't know.
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Blog: The Miss Rumphius Effect (Login to Add to MyJacketFlap)
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Blog: American Indians in Children's Literature (Login to Add to MyJacketFlap)
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Last week, the Guardian published an article by Kathleen Hale that detailed how she had stalked a blogger who wrote a negative review of her book. Understandably, the article prompted a great deal of conversation on social media, with many bloggers expressing fear about being stalked.
Amongst the responses to Hale were ones that said that reviews are about books, not their authors, and that an author should not take reviews personally. A book, some say, stands alone. The author does not matter.
I appreciate that response but am hitting the pause button. Here's why.
Teachers assign author studies. There are guides on how to do them. Publishers like Scholastic offer guides, too. In them, students are asked to do research on the author's life, and that author's body of work. They are asked to make connections between the author's life and work. They are also asked to make personal connections between their own life experiences and those of the author and/or characters in the author's books.
Given the amount of conversation that took place over Kathleen Hale's article, I'm pretty sure a student doing an author study of her will come across the article. I hope they come away from it thinking that Hale went too far in stalking the blogger. Perhaps, in the days to come, we'll learn more about why the Guardian published that piece, and, because I think Hale was wrong to stalk the blogger (she paid for a background check on the blogger, and later rented a car and went to the blogger's home), I hope that the Guardian editors add a note to the top of that article, linking to responses from the blogging community.
On AICL, I've said that authors matter because I know that teachers ask students to do author studies.
My preference is that teachers assign books by Native writers because when the book is assigned, the teacher can say, for example, "Cynthia Leitich Smith is a tribal member of the Muscogee Creek Nation." The teacher can show students Cynthia's website and the website for the Muscogee Nation, too.
In doing that, the teacher will be using present-tense verbs ('is' and 'are'), and pushing against the idea that American Indians no longer exist, and, against the monolithic and stereotypical image of American Indians as people in feathered headdresses who lived in tipis and hunted buffaloes.
In short, an author's identity matters, and it is why I advocate for Native authors.
Back to Kathleen Hale. Here's some of the responses to her article. Please read them, and, learn about stalking, too. Start with information provided at the Stalking Resource Center.
- The Choices of Kathleen Hale
- An Open Letter to Kathleen Hale & Guardian Books: Stalking Is Not Okay
- Yes, I Am Afraid
- 7 Steps to Protect Your Privacy as a Blogger
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