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1. Fandom Starts Early Storytime-LibraryCon Edition

Fandom Starts Early Storytime Number 1
Fandom Starts Early Storytime Number 2

I've hosted two Fandom Starts Early Geeky Storytimes for kids and I knew it would be the perfect fit for LibraryCon. My previous Fandom storytimes have been OK, but I held them on Friday evenings, which are always a tough time to draw a crowd. Plus, I didn't get the true geeky families I was hoping for and I knew my audience at LibraryCon would appreciate and love a storytime based on fandoms.

I took some things that I've used before and added a few new things for the LibraryCon version. I actually had to adapt and change my plan at the last minute because my crowd ended up being much younger than I anticipated. So here's what we did for Fandom Starts Early LibraryCon!

(flying like superheroes)

Opening Song: Hedwig's Theme-I opened the doors had the kids walk in to Hedwig's Theme and welcomed everyone to Fandom Starts Early Storytime. I told the parents that it's fun to introduce their favorite fandoms to their kids and we have lots of great books to help do so. Plus, being a geek is awesome!

Book: Star Wars Epic Yarns: A New Hope-The epic yarns books are simple and perfect for geeky storytimes-plus it worked well with my young crowd.

Book: Star Trek Book of Opposites-another great choice for young audiences

Song: The Freeze by Greg and Steve-I used a picture of Dr. Horrible and his freeze ray and every time he appeared, we had to freeze. You could also use Mr. Freeze for this. 

Book: Super Heroes Book of Opposites-to go along with our superhero Summer Reading theme

Rhyme: Five Supheroes (source: Storytime Katie and Jbrary

Five superheroes ready to fly
Here comes a villain. Stop that guy!
This superhero can save the day.
Off he/she flies-up, up, and away!

I used the awesome superhero kids that Hafuboti made and put magnets on them to use as a magnet board rhyme. 

Parachute: We tossed the TARDIS around in the parachute to the Doctor Who theme. (I printed off two photos of the TARDIS and glued some popsicle sticks between them to get it to bounce)


I had lots of activities set up around the room for the kids to do. 

-Superhero mask making=with masks cut out from the diecut machine and various items to use to decorate

-Match the characters with their item (Han Solo with the Millennium Falcon, Kirk with the Enterprise, Harry with his broom, etc)

-Paint a Dalek-I printed off black and white pictures of a Dalek and let the kids use dot stampers to color the Dalek. Make sure to have wipes on hand! 

-Match the Star Trek colors-I put up pictures of the Next Generation cast and sorted them by uniform colors (Red, Yellow, and Blue) and put out blocks to sort under each picture.

-Design your own house crest. I printed off a blank house crest template and let the kids create their own. 

-Make your own Origami Yoda-I used the simple Origami Yoda pattern with green paper for the kids.

-Decorate the Death Star-my amazing teen librarian, Valerie painted over a globe with chalk paint and we now have a death star that can be drawn on with chalk. It's tons of fun and reusable!

I also had lots of comic books to give away to the kids and a big book display for various geeky books.

This was the most successful Fandom Starts Early Storytime because my crowd really appreciated the topic and thought it was lots of fun to get their kids talking about their fandoms. The kids really loved the superhero masks and the parents loved the matching game. I can't wait to do it again next year! 

And I'm always looking for geeky storytime books so if you have any ideas, I'd love to hear them!

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2. Love Big: A Reflection

Several of you know, I spent a week on a "Mission Trip" with 21 youth and five other adults doing volunteer work for three organizations: Habitat for Humanity (www.habitat.org), New Reach (www.newreach.org), And CCA (ccahelps.org). All three organizations help provide housing for those in need, many for women in crisis, along with their children. At the end of the day, I tried to jot down a few of the many powerful moments I witnessed on this trip because I knew I was experiencing something I never wanted to forget. Here it is...

"Love Big: A Reflection"

Day One

I climb into a Big White Van
And Dave blasts Paradise by The Dashboard Light
as we circle the parking lot and wave good-bye.
Driving down the highway,
"That part in the song" comes on and I wonder, "Do they know what this is about?"
Answer: Yes. Yes they do.

By the time we cross the border into Connecticut
The Playlist has run through three times.
We joke that whoever made this mix
Must have stopped listening to music
In 1982.

Someone says, "This time we ALL have to sing."
We turn up the volume and do our best,
singing loud and proud and slightly off-key,
ready to start bonding before we even arrive.

That night at vespers
Eli says, "At the end of the week,
We'll say this was hardest we've ever worked.
We'll go home and need a day to recover.
But the volunteers here who guided us
Will start again on Monday.
And they'll do it again the Monday after that."
We all let that sink in.
"This is a time to be your best selves,"
Paul told us in the parking lot back home before we left.
I get the sense we're all silently committing to that now.

Day Two

In the morning
We stagger out of our beds and grumble about
Who got cream cheese on the knife handle,
Then circle up in the parking lot, hold hands
And pray together for a day of good work.

In the vans, we count numbers.
Turn on the play list.
Sing a little shyly with our new group.
Watch as one side of town
Transforms to another.
Manicured lawns of bright green grass
Turn overgrown and weedy.
Freshly painted houses
Turn paint chipped and dirty.
Loved and cared for neighborhoods
Turn to ones of neglect.

At the work site, we huddle together in a shed while we wait for the rain to pass.
Our hosts share breakfast and tell us about the women living in the shelter.
I feel guilty as I eat my jelly doughnut,
Looking at the building and thinking about the stories inside.

When the work starts
We pull weeds entangled with garbage,
Grown together as if they're the same thing.
We discover someone's shelter under a truck bed liner:
There's a sleeping bag
Some personal belongings.
Bottles filled with a liquid none of us want to identify.

The teens handle these things tenderly.
They worry out loud about what will happen
when the owner returns to find everything gone.
I try not to cry because
I'm the adult.
But this first morning is already hurting my heart
In unexpected ways.

All day we sweat and pull weeds
Shovel rocks
Power wash
Paint in the blasting sun.
At the end of the day, we collapse in the van
and count down the number of times we have to do it all again.
But then I think of Eli's words,
And put the blister on my toe out of my mind.

Day 3

Breakfast is quiet as we wander out one by one
and compare predictions for how hot it will get today.
On the highway there's a billboard that says "Love Big,"
And I tell myself, that's my motto for the week.

At the site, we start sweating as soon as we unload.
We shovel more rocks.
Pull more weeds.
Pick up trash.
Mix cement.
Trim hedges.
And compare sweat stains.

As we pour the cement,
I see a little girl watching from an open window.
She's eating cereal out of a tall glass.
I smile and say hi.
She says hi back.
I wonder "What's your story?"
I bet she wonders the same thing.

Tonight, we drive to the shore,
Swim in the cool salt water and watch the sunset.
We talk about grief,
Troubled waters,
And how important it is
To cause a stir of change.

I feel an overwhelming sense of privilege
Looking out at the ocean,
Wondering if any of the residents we helped today
Have ever shared this view.
The irony of our troubled waters discussion hits me,
while the quiet, calm water laps the sand.

Day 4

Today we work on the second floor balcony
Staining a porch railing.
To get there, we have to use the stairs inside.
Now, we catch glimpses of who we're doing this for.
We hear them behind thin walls.
A baby crying.
A mother comforting.
It goes on and on as we paint a second coat,
And I'm sure we're all wondering again:
What's your story?

When we all reunite back at church,
We share survival stories
And agree we all worked hard,
Just in different ways.
We joke that there are teams,
But we are One.

We visit a quarry and jump off cliffs.
Swing down ziplines
And have a picnic dinner.
We sing happy birthday to Eli as the sun sets.
At vespers we talk about joy instead of grief,
But circle back again to acknowledge
How connected the two tend to be.

Day 5

As we drive to our site, Paul inspires us with an Elvis song.
We plant trees.
Dig up mulch.
Sweat. So much.
I think about the billboard sign from earlier in the week:
Love Big.

Logan and I name our tree Buttercup.
We put flowers in our hair and say we have Flower Power,
And power through the afternoon with new energy.
Every day, I have seen our youth rediscover their best selves.
Pushing harder, singing louder, embracing their work with
"lovely energy" that astonishes and lifts me up.

Day 6

On our last morning of work,
we listen to our usual playlist,
And Molly says,
"If you change the subject of this song from romance to the mission trip,
This is exactly how I feel about all of you."
We sing "Hooked on a feeling" a little bit louder after that.

There are tears on our way home that day.
We sing "Country Road, Take Me Home"
But I get the sense none of us really wants to go yet.
That night, we share thank you's.
We talk about how much our lives have changed this week,
And whether we've caused a big enough change
in the troubled waters we've witnessed.
There are more tears. More hugs.
I look at this circle and see a new community.
I see Loving Companionship.
I see Family.
I think of the Love Big billboard.
It's a motto that sticks.

Day 7

We caravan home. Some sleep. Some sing.
I keep turning around, looking at the faces in our van.
They were mostly just acquaintances on the ride down 7 days ago.
Now, they are "loving companions." Family.
I know all year I will hear a song
Or a phrase
Or see a pink flower
Or a newly planted tree
And think of these inspiring youth.
I'll wonder where they are and how they're doing.
They're part of my deep well now.
Part of my heart.
They have helped me be my best self.
And I'm forever grateful.
I will always love them big.


Monday Morning Warm-Up:
As you can see, this isn't necessarily a poem, but a list of moments. My challenge to you is to find the things in your day this week (and later the firs week of school) that you could do something similar with. Turn meaning into the mundane. Reflect on what inspired. Give purpose to what angered. Show gratitude for a moment of joy or comfort. And as always, try to have fun.

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3. My tweets

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4. The Right Read Aloud for the Classroom Community You Want This Year

Whether students have a year or more under their belts or are starting school for the first time, a new school year can invoke everything from laughter to tears to giggles and cheers. Teachers face the full spectrum of student feelings about the first day of a new school year: excitement, shyness, doubt, fear, anxiety.

How can we help our students face their feelings and the start of the new school year?

Selecting the right back-to-school read aloud is exciting because of the potential it holds. We can imagine the conversations we will have with our scholars and the connections they will make. We can imagine the safe, welcoming, reading-first space we will inspire.

back to school booksIt may be tempting to concentrate on introducing students to routines and expectations and practicing procedures around sitting on the carpet or signaling for the bathroom. However, building classroom culture is critical to a successful school year. Reading should start on day 1 as part of your strategy for achieving that safe, welcoming, reading-first space.

As you assemble or sort through your read aloud bin for the right mentor texts for the first unit in your scope & sequence, think about which books signal the community and classroom culture you want and your students need.

Pair read alouds that are “elementary school classics” with books that celebrate and recognize your students’ experiences, backgrounds, and interests.

For example, a classic back to school read aloud is Chrysanthemum, by Kevin Henkes, about a young girl’s first day of kindergarten. Henkes captures the feelings of many new students navigating new spaces and friendships.

Now pair that with a text that has characters with identities and experiences that are meaningful to your student population. Yes, first day jitters and excitement are universal, but the additional challenge of being a non-native English speaker or coping with homelessness can tip feelings over from nervous to overwhelmed.

Chrysanthemum, You’re Not Alone!

As part of your preparations for the beginning of the school year, gather a collection of your books related to the first day of school.

Book Pairing Recommendation:

Elizabeti’s School + Moony Luna/ Luna, Lunita Lunera + Chrysanthemum (HarperCollins)

Ideal read-alouds for the start of school should:

  • Allow you to introduce and discuss the roles of students and teachers, the classroom, and school in general
  • Show young learners that it is normal to have a mixture of feelings during this time of change
  • Include a variety of themes and topics: the first day of school, making friends, families and communities, dealing with new situations and separation, helping each other process our emotions/overcome fears, and growing up

Getting students to start talking about how a character grapples with new  classmates and the school setting can help them express how they are feeling as well as recognize that others in the room feel exactly the same way. (It also gives you the opportunity to start reading to kids! And show how book-centric your classroom is.)


  1. In the first few days, read more than one character’s first day of school. Ask children to make connections between these stories. Also encourage them to connect their own school experiences to those of characters in the books.
  2. If students are writing, have children write about something in school that made them feel happy. It may be one or two sentences. For students who are not writing yet, encourage them to dictate their experience for their drawings to an adult who will record their words. Include a space for students to sketch their answer.
  3. Have students turn to the last page in the book. Then ask them to draw a dream that the character might have that night or imagine what her second day will be like.
  4. As a whole group, write a class letter as Chrysanthemum to Moony Luna. What advice would she have for Luna about school?
  5. Finally, create a bin of other back-to-school books (it’s quite a genre!) for students to explore in and outside of class.

Additionally, consider reading your favorite must-read back-to-school book in the students’ first language (or inviting a parent to join alongside you in the reading) if they are English Language Learners. Many of the most popular “classics” are available in other languages as well as authentic literature written as bilingual texts.

Recognizing children’s cultures and their languages is a BIG deal. Too many schools get students’ names wrong from the beginning. More and more schools have English Language Learner populations and multiple languages spoken within one school and classroom. Reading in students’ language or selecting a text that portrays a character your students identify with communicates to them that they matter, their lives matter, and they are going to learn a ton with you this year.

Culturally responsive books with characters and themes about navigating a new school/grade/year:

A Shelter in Our Car: Zettie and her Mama left their warm and comfortable  home in Jamaica for an uncertain life in the United  Sates, and they are forced to live in Mama’s car.

David’s Drawings and Los dibujos de David: Available in Spanish and English, a shy young African American boy makes friends in  school by letting his classmates help with his drawing of  a bare winter tree. A shy young African American boy  makes friends in school by letting his classmates help  with his drawing of a bare winter tree.

Elizabeti’s School and La escuela de Elizabeti: In this contempory Tanzanian story available in English and Spanish, author Stephanie  Stuve­Bodeen and artist Christy Hale once again bring  the sweet innocence of Elizabeti to life. Readers are sure  to recognize this young child’s emotions as she copes  with her first day of school and discovers the wonder and  joy of learning.

First Day in Grapes and Primer día en las uvas: Available in Spanish and English, the powerful story of a migrant boy  who grows in self­confidence when he uses his math  prowess to stand up to the school bullies.

Home at Last and Al fin en casa: A sympathetic tale available in Spanish and English of a mother­daughter bond and  overcoming adversity, brought to life by the vivid  illustrations of Felipe Davalos.

Moony Luna/ Luna, Lunita Lunera: Bilingual English/Spanish. A bilingual tale about a  young girl afraid to go to school for the first time.

The Closet Ghosts: Moving to a new place is hard enough without finding a bunch of mean, nasty ghosts in your closet. When  Hanuman, the Hindu monkey god, answers Anu’s plea  for help, Anu rejoices­until she realizes that those pesky  ghosts don’t seem to be going anywhere.

The Upside Down Boy/ El niño de cabeza: Bilingual English/Spanish. Award­winning poet Juan  Felipe Herrera’s engaging memoir of the year his  migrant family settled down so that he could go to  school for the first time.

Willie Wins: In this heart-warming story, a boy gets beyond peer  pressure and comes to appreciate the depth of his  father’s love.

For further reading on starting the school year:

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5. Are You An Early Bird?

20150801 feathers
You know what they say: The early bird catches the worms!
In case you missed it: I am offering my online drawing course 'Just Draw It' again in October. It seems like a long time before it starts, and you may be wondering why I am blogging about this right now.
Well... it's because today is the very last day for you to take advantage of the early bird fee. For 6 weeks full of drawing fun, instead of $99, you pay $89!
Just Draw It is a popular drawing course full of drawing techniques. During the 6-week course I help you to get rid of 'I-can't-draw-that'-thoughts by taking things step by step in online videos, images and text. Together with your class mates (each in your own time zones) you will see a lot of development and growth in your drawings. 
This course is for both beginners and the more advanced.
So what are you waiting for?
To sign up and save $10, click here.

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6. Making After Life Arrangements for Your Writing

In preparing for death we buy life insurance, longterm care insurance, we make wills and some even choose burial clothes or write out funeral wishes. Sadly, I've yet to experience a situation where an author makes similar arrangements for their literary works. And I've had a number of clients who have passed away.

I am not a legal expert so my first bit of advice is to talk to a lawyer about how best to handle your literary works after your death. When you do however I think there are some things you need to think about.
How will future earnings be distributed? Will they go to one person or set up in a trust?
Who will make decisions regarding the rights to the work? Just because a book is published doesn't mean decisions regarding its rights are finished. There are times when the publisher will ask for revisions (and in this case want to hire someone to do revisions), they might want to change or update the cover or, if its a series, continue the series. Who will be your go-to person for these decisions?
What will happen to other works? Will you allow "found" manuscripts to be published? What if you are in the middle of a contract? Are you okay if the family opts to hire an outsider to see the contract through?
Once you've established the legal portion concerning your books, don't overlook the day-to-day business of your publishing career. My suggestion is put together a file and let everyone in your family know where it is and what it's labeled. Maybe label it with the name of your children, spouse, niece or nephew so they won't need to remember what it's called, but it will easily stand out to them when they're searching for it.

In this file you should include a list of all your publications, earned or unearned. I've had situations where a book never earned out, until it did, at that point sending checks became difficult since no one kept me updated with contact information.

Include who handles the statements or sends checks for those books. If they are self-pubbed you'll need to include detailed information for each account from which you receive money. I would suggest including all passwords and how payments and statements are distributed.

If you have an agent you'll need to include the agent's name and her contact information so the family can get in touch about statements and earnings.

I don't think preparing to make your family's life easier is that difficult, but I do suggest it be done. Until I hear from next of kin and am given strict instructions on how to move forward I will continue to send checks in the name of the author. I'm unsure how long that's going to work for the family or how it will play out during tax time.


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7. I Had To Laugh

Seriously.  Regarding my final posting on the UK Comic industry post, someone called Tony Lee commented "delusional"!

Now, no, I am NOT delusional -that WAS my last posting on the subject but I like to hear from all fans.

LOTS of emails from out of work UK comic creators stating "spot on".

Of course, there are those who wangle a lot of work and turn out mediocre scripts/series in comics and because they get constant work tend to be very delusional about reality for the real comickers because "if there is no UK comic industry" they cannot be pandered as "stars".  Ego always brushes over facts.

I clicked "Tony Lee's" profile to find it is private and no one but selected minions can view it. Now, I put up a post with point after point all backed up and covering 40 years of experience in comics. So, I am guessing that this "Tony Lee" is just another one of those flamers because, and here is a pointer to you bloggers about the comments to ignore, all he/she could respond with was "delusional" and these people have an image of you getting angry, annoyed and upset because you cannot respond back to them.  That's what they do.  It's that little comic clique again.

Of course I can respond where it matters -here on CBO where EVERYONE can see what I post. I'm not hiding behind a private blog (if it exists).

As for "Tony Lee"...well, he's Spam.  But I do have a message for him from the heart....

And that DOES end the British comic 'industry' postings.

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8. प्यारी Poem

A for apple, B for Ball,
कुड़ीयाँ सारी baby doll,

C for Cat, D for Dog,
बनोगे लेखक, start a blog,

E for elephant, F for fish,
गधा है तू पर बनेगा Krish,

G for gun and H for hat,
जो भी ऊपर बोला, cancel that,

I for ink और J for jar,
घर ना आए तो ढूँढो bar,

K for Kite and L for Lion,
शादी के बाद हर कोई डायन,

M for Mat और N for Net,
बिगड़ा ज़माना कर ले सेट,

O for Owl, P for Pray,
ज़्यादा जो भी बोले, खोपचे मे ले,

Q for Queen, R for Rain,
ज़िंदगी तेरी, बिन डब्बे की ट्रेन,

S for Sun, T for Time,
कहाँ से चुराई ये घटिया rhyme,

U for Umbrella, V for Van,
दोस्त ना मिले तो connect the lan,

W for Wax, X for Xtreme,
पानी ना पिए पर चाहिए सबको cream,

Y for Yak और Z for Zebra,
इंसान की खाल में निकला तू कोबरा

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9. SEVEN Giveaways plus New YALIT Releases Week of 8/3 with Author Interviews

While we have six new release giveaways this week, we're also super excited to be giving away a copy of Compulsion by our founder, Martina Boone! Compulsion, Martina's YA debut, first came out in October 2014. Almost 10 months later, the paperback has been released, and we're giving one to you!

Happy reading,

Lindsey, Martina, Sam, Jocelyn, Erin, Lisa, Shelly, Susan, Elizabeth, Kristin, Jen, Sandra and Anisaa

Read more »

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10. the fame trap. thoughts on the responsiblities of artists and their fans, after viewing "Amy"

Every representation of a person's life is just that—a representation. A curation. A summary. An interpretation.

I know that. I off went to see "Amy," the deeply moving documentary about the great singer, Amy Winehouse, fully aware that what I was about to witness was a life encoded by footage and recall, and not a life itself.

Still. There are some incontestable things about this British singer with a genius touch and a tortured relationship with her own talent. First (incontestable): she could sing. Second (I think it's clear): she wasn't always sure of who to trust. Third: she died too young of alcohol poisoning in a body winnowed to near nothing by too many drugs and an eating disorder.

Fourth: Winehouse never originally wanted to be famous, never thought she would be famous, never imagined herself capable of fame. She is there, in the footage, saying so. But fame became hers, fame became her, and she had to live, and die, with the consequences.

There is a dividing line between those who make things in order to be known or seen, and those whose loyalties lie with the things themselves—the songs, the films, the stories. There are those who craft themselves into a brand—who orchestrate aggrandizements, who leverage opportunities, who seek out "friendships" that will advance them, who overstay their welcome, who build cliques that further not their art but their careers, who ricochet with gossip. And there are those who (I think, in the book world, of Alice McDermott, Marilynne Robinson, and Michael Ondaatje) seek out private quiet. Yes, they cede to interviews and talks and touring when their books are released. But they also vanish from public view, and consumption, just as soon as they're able.

Fame—a seething hope for it—is not what propels them.

Watching "Amy," one wants to turn back time. To give the artist her creative space. To let her walk the streets without the blinding pop of cameras. One wants to give her what matters most—room for the everyday and the ordinary. Supremely talented, unwittingly destined, Amy Winehouse suffered. She made choices, certainly. She faced a wall of personal demons. But the media that stalked her and the fans who turned hold some responsibility for what happened.

Artists have the responsibility to do their work for the right reasons. They have responsibility to the work itself—to not sell out, to not write to trends, to not step on others in their quest for something.

But fans have responsibilities, too. To give the artists room to make, to risk, to sometimes fail. To love artists for who they are and what they do and not for whether or not, in this bracket of time, they appear to be potentially famous. To see artists as people who would be better off, who would be healthier, given some time to live with dignity instead of trailing endless glitter.

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11. characterisation

Question: I'm writing a novel in third person limited on an online site, and while everyone loves the protagonist with all his quirks and awkward nature,

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12. Manga Review: The Secret Princess by Chikako Kawakami and Jessica Hart

May Contain Spoilers


I checked out The Secret Princess on a lark.  I was pressed for time with review books, but I saw the cover while browsing the virtual shelves at the library and was hooked.  It’s very cute, and I like the art style.  So I clicked the Borrow button and sat down to read it right away.  The story is cute too, so I’m glad I had a case of ADD.

Lotty has always behaved as her grandmother wished, and never rebelled against her.  The princess of Montluce, she has a reputation and public image to uphold.  When a series of threats against the throne make her grandmother nervous about the succession, she arranges for Lotty to marry her cousin.  Even though Phillippe is her best friend, she just can’t see herself married to him.  Besides, he’s in love with her friend, Caro, and she doesn’t want to come between them.  Taking Phillippe’s advice, she runs away from home, determined to use this opportunity to kick up her heels and experience the freedom she’s been denied for so long.

She goes to Scotland because her mother loved the country.  Unfortunately, her wallet is stolen soon after she arrives.  Penniless, she’s desperate to get a job, and asks Corran McKenna to hire her, despite the locals warnings to stay far away from him.  The grumpy guy is quick to point out that she isn’t strong enough to help him work his land, and he has no use for a woman employee.  Undeterred and persistent, she pesters him to point that he offers her a position.  If she can get a cottage in desperate need of TLC cleaned up and painted by the end of the weekend, he’ll hire her.  Not one to turn down a challenge, Lotty proves that Corran has underestimated her, and he reluctantly offers her a job.

Once she starts working alongside Corran, Lotty feels guilty for lying to him about her true identity.  Corran knows that there’s something off about her, but he just thinks that she’s a spoiled rich kid who has run away from home over some petty argument with her family.  As the two get to know each other, Lotty learns that the villagers think Corran stole the land from his younger brother.  He doesn’t hesitate to tell her that there is no love lost between his step-mother and his half-brother, and that his father turned his back on him after leaving his mother.  Corran ended up with the land because his father knew that the upkeep would be a financial burden, and he didn’t want to pin that on his youngest son. Instead, in spite, he left the land to Corran, who loved it and wants to make improvements, but can’t because he can’t get a loan. 

I enjoyed The Secret Princess because of the pretty art, seamless translation, and engaging story.  Lotty really is a kind person, and she’s determined to make the villagers see that they are wrong where Corran is concerned.  Before she leaves, she wants to repay his kindness by setting the record straight with the people who have basically shunned Corran.  Despite their rocky start, Lotty has come to care for her gruff employer.  She also loves the land, and wants to see Corran’s dreams come true.  She knows that they have no future together, so she’s decided to live for the moment, for the first time in her life.

The pacing is spot on, and the HEA, though highly unbelievable in this age of heightened security, is satisfying.  I was completely sold on their joyous future together.

Grade:  B

Review copy borrowed from my local library

From Amazon:

Princess of Montluce, Lotty, is very introverted and has never been able to express herself. Her grandmother wants to arrange an engagement for her, and she ends up running away. She wants to see what she can do on her own, and possibly fall in love for the first time… However, she loses her wallet in some town since she’s not used to having one, and ends up working for a man named Corran as a maid. At first, she is angered by his rudeness, but she ends up smitten by the kindness behind his crude demeanor.

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13. Light the White House Red, Black and Green on August 13


Light the White House Red, Black and Green on August 13 to honor Black people "held to serve or labor" who built it.

I recently read how the contributions of Black people "held to serve or labor" involved in building the White House have yet to be acknowledged in a real meaningful way. Although President Obama mentioned this in his remarks during the 50th anniversary of the March from Selma to Montgomery and First Lady Obama mentioned it as well, we think something more significant is needed.
August 13, 2015, marks 95 years since the designation of the colors Red, Black and Green as symbolizing Black people. This was done as part of the Declaration of Rights of the Negro People of the World on August 13, 1920.
For years, the Empire State Building has been lit Red, Black and Green to honor Dr. King, on his birthday. Light the White House Red, Black and Green on August 13, 2015, to honor the unpaid labor.

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14. Animal, vegetable or mineral? [quiz]

In the late eighteenth century, against a troubled background of violent change on the continent and rising challenges to the Establishment at home, botanists were discovering strange creatures that defied the categories of ‘animal, vegetable, and mineral’.

The post Animal, vegetable or mineral? [quiz] appeared first on OUPblog.

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15. A Wetlands Story Time in Pictures

Instead of a launch party for Over in the Wetlands, I lead story time at the Albuquerque/Bernalillo County Library‘s Cherry Hills branch. Think stories, games, coloring pages, and gator cookies.


Reading Wetlands by Cathryn Sill.





Explaining the three things we needed to “make” a hurricane: wind, waves, and rain. Look at that handsome boy of mine on the right!



And the other handsome one! (Incidentally, this is what happens when the Rose boys take over the camera).


The post A Wetlands Story Time in Pictures appeared first on Caroline Starr Rose.

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16. Ian McShane Cast in Game of Thrones Season 6

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17. Creating Classroom Environments: Introducing Writer’s Notebooks

Four tips for introducing writer's notebooks this fall

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18. Medicare and end-of-life medical care

Medicare recently announced that it will pay for end-of-life counseling as a legitimate medical service. This announcement provoked little controversy. Several groups, including the National Right to Life Committee, expressed concern that such counseling could coerce elderly individuals to terminate medical treatment they want. However, Medicare’s statement was largely treated as uncontroversial—indeed, almost routine in nature.

The post Medicare and end-of-life medical care appeared first on OUPblog.

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19. Books I Am Adding to My Classroom Library: Part 1 New (to me) Series Books

Last year was my second year in 3rd grade. It took me a while to figure out the kinds of books that would best support 3rd grade readers. It took me a while to learn what kinds of books hooked 3rd graders. It took me a while to catch up on series books that were a good match for third graders. By the end of last year, I felt that my classroom library was solid.  I had lots of great picture books, some lots of great nonfiction, good graphic novels and many series that could hook readers.  But I am always looking for new books.  Books for 3rd graders are not so long so kids tend to read through a book or two a week. And I believe in choice so I need to give kids a menu of options every day as reader.  So keeping the library updates is always important.

Here are some of the new series that I'll add to the classroom library this year. I'll get a few in the series to see how kids like them and then add to the basket if they are a hit.

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20. ‘When Not to Correct People’s Grammar’ Video Goes Viral

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21. Making Connections


“We are like islands in the sea, separate on the surface but connected in the deep.” ~ William James

I have so enjoyed this unit on summer experiences presented by the Teaching Authors. At the core of these discussions is the importance of making connections. JoAnn connects to nature, offering interesting experiments with monarch butterflies.

Esther Carla and April  explore the important connections to be made at writing conferences that go above and beyond the business of writing.

Mary Ann connects to the next generation of writers in her discussion of summer camp,

“We cannot live only for ourselves. A thousand fibers connect us with our fellow men; and among those fibers, as sympathetic threads, our actions run as causes, and they come back to us as effects.” ~ Herman Melville

We know stories are old. Humans have been telling stories for over 100,000 years. Not every culture had developed codified laws, or even a written language, but every culture in the history of the world has had stories. Some research suggests stories predate language, that language came about in order to express story concepts.

And those first stories are found in paintings buried in prehistoric caves. An ancient man reaches out and across 40,000 years to his descendents, connecting past to present. It is the essence of humankind to connect.   As Eric Booth states, in The Everyday Work of Art, “Art is not apart. It is a continuum within which all participate; we all function in art, use the skills of art, and engage in the action of artists every day.”  

Kinza Riza/Courtesy of Nature.com. 

“It really boils down to this: that all life is interrelated. We are all caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tired into a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one destiny, affects all indirectly.” ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.

Thank you for connecting with me and the Teaching Authors!

Bobbi Miller

About the photograph: A stencil of an early human's hand in an Indonesian cave is estimated to be about 39,000 years old. Kinza Riza/Courtesy of Nature.com.

See More about the Cave Art here: Rock (Art) of Ages: Indonesian Cave Paintings Are 40,000 Years Old. Cave paintings of animals and hand stencils in Sulawesi, Indonesia, seem to be as old as similar cave art in Europe.  Read more: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/rockart-ages-indonesian-cave-paintings-are-40000-years-old-180952970/#8DR5O3DYTByKccpx.99.

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22. Sportscaster Joe Buck Inks Deal With Dutton

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23. This Space of Writing

Well, I've waited around a long time for this, and I couldn't be more thrilled... Zero Books have announced the forthcoming publication of my wonderfully talented friend Stephen Mitchelmore's This Space of Writing:

What does 'literature' mean in our time? While names like Proust, Kafka and Woolf still stand for something, what that something actually is has become obscured by the claims of commerce and journalism. Perhaps a new form of attention is required. Stephen Mitchelmore began writing online in 1996 and became Britain's first book blogger soon after, developing the form so that it can respond in kind to the singular space opened by writing. Across 44 essays, he discusses among many others the novels of Richard Ford, Jeanette Winterson and Karl Ove Knausgaard, the significance for modern writers of cave paintings and the moai of Easter Island, and the enduring fallacy of 'Reality Hunger', all the while maintaining a focus on the strange nature of literary space. By listening to the echoes and resonances of writing, this book enables a unique encounter with literature that many critics habitually ignore. With an introduction by the acclaimed novelist Lars Iyer, This Space of Writing offers a renewed appreciation of the mystery and promise of writing.

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24. Edelfelt's Sketchbooks

The Finnish National Art Gallery has released online the sketchbooks of Albert Edelfelt (1854-1905).

Since the 104 sketchbooks are in chronological order, you can trace the journey of his mind and see the people he met and the moments he lived.

The books begin in his youth and reflect his early exposure to academic drawing at the Drawing School of the Finnish Art Society. He also studied with Adolf von Becker and later with Jean-Léon Gérôme at the Ecole Nationale des Beaux Arts in Paris (1874-1878).

There are babies newly born and relatives on their death bed, both common subjects of 19th century artists.

Edelfelt had a special gift for painting children. His sketchbooks reflect unselfconscious moments of children's lives, such as musical evenings, and kids at play. 

Albert Edelfelt, Boys Playing on the Shore, courtesy Google Art Project
Here's one of his finished paintings of children, for which he is justly revered not only in Finland, but around the world.

Don't miss his copies of Sargent in #19, dissections ub #22, studies at the Prado in #27, and testing out a watercolor set in #100 (above).
Thanks to the Finnish National Gallery for making these works accessible to the public, and thanks to Finnish illustrator Ossi Hiekkala (check out his work) for letting me know about it.

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25. MMGM Links (8/3/15)

AHHH--how is it already August?????

I'm still very much drowning in deadlines (when will they ever stop) but here's this week's MMGM links!

(Oh! Also, tomorrow is EVERBLAZE's paperback release day. So make sure you check back for a special giveaway!)

- Michelle Mason wants you to know that YOU'RE INVITED. Click HERE to read her review. 
- Kim Aippersbach is exploring 100 CUPBOARDS. Click HERE to see why!
- Molly at My Cozy Book Nook is spending time with THE FAMILY UNDER THE BRIDGE. Click HERE to see what she thought.
- Cindy at Cindy Reads has two things to talk about, INSIDE OUT and THE DESCENDANTS. Click HERE to check it out
- Greg Pattridge is getting LOST IN THE SUN. Click HERE to read his feature.   
- Laurisa White Reyes is giving us all the dirt on FUZZY MUD. Click HERE to see why.  
- Joanne Fritz always has an MMGM for you. Click HERE to see what she's talking about this week.  
- Karen Yingling also always has some awesome MMGM recommendations for you. Click HERE to which ones she picked this time!
- The Mundie Moms are always huge supporters of middle grade. Click HERE for their Mundie Kids site.  

If you would like to join in the MMGM fun, all you have to do is blog about a middle grade book you love on a Monday (contests, author interviews and whatnot also count--but are most definitely not required) and email me the title of the book you're featuring and a link to your blog at SWMessenger (at) hotmail (dot) com. (Make sure you put MMGM or Marvelous Middle Grade Monday in the subject line so it gets sorted accurately) You MUST email me your link by Sunday evening in order to be included in the list of links for the coming Monday. (usually before 11pm PST is safe--but if I'm traveling it can vary. When in doubt, send early!) (Also make sure the post you send me is a new post, not one from earlier in the week. I try to keep the content fresh)

If you miss the cutoff, you are welcome to add your link in the comments on this post so people can find you, but I will not have time to update the post. Same goes for typos/errors on my part. I do my best to build the links correctly, but sometimes deadline-brain gets the best of me, and I'm sorry if it does. For those wondering why I don't use a Linky-widget instead, it's a simple matter of internet safety. The only way I can ensure that all the links lead to safe, appropriate places for someone of any age is if I build them myself. It's not a perfect system, but it allows me to keep better control.

Thank you so much for being a part of this awesome meme, and spreading the middle grade love!

*Please note: these posts are not a reflection of my own opinions on the books featured. Each blogger is responsible for their own MMGM content and I do not pre-screen reviews ahead of time, nor do I control what books they choose. I simply assemble the list based on the links that are emailed to me.

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