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26. KidLit Author Events Dec.1-7

A BEAR'S YEAR: Kathy Duval; Illustrated by Gerry Turley

I hope everyone had a lovely Thanksgiving, and now it’s time to get ready for more holiday parties. The party I am looking forward to the most this season is our SCBWI Houston holiday pot luck dinner on Monday, December 7 at 7:00 at the Tracy Gee Community Center. Along with book and art sales and great food, we’re doing something special this year; we’re celebrating the launch of Kathy Duval’s newest picture book, A BEAR’S YEAR. Everyone who pre-ordered it from Blue Willow bookshop will get a little gift from Kathy. Please join us!

In addition to our SCBWI party, a lot of other events are keeping Kathy quite busy. The next morning, Wednesday, December 2, she’s doing storytime at Katy Budget Books from 10:00 to 11:00. Next week she’s visiting two schools:
December 8 at James Randolph School in Katy, and another on December 11 at Patterson Literature Magnet School. In between, she’ll be Skyping with St. John Vianney School in Brookfield Wisconsin on December 7. Go Kathy!

In this morning’s Publisher’s Lunch I read some good news for Mary Lindsey, the local author of SHATTERED SOULS. Mary’s first three books in the HAVEN series, following a community of shifters and spell weavers whose ancestors fled persecution during the Wurzburg and Bamberg witch trials of the 1600s, sold to Liz Pelletier at Entangled Teen.

In other news for local authors, Russell Sanders has a new YA novel, COLORS, releasing this winter. Mark your calendars for his launch at River Oaks Bookstore on February 6.

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27. Studying pets’ cancers may yield health benefits for humans

Initially tested in pet dogs with bone cancer, a new drug that delays metastasis now helps children with the same disease in Europe. The immune modulator, which mops up microscopic cancer cells, has not been approved in the United States, researchers say.

The post Studying pets’ cancers may yield health benefits for humans appeared first on OUPblog.

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28. Foliage is Lightest at Its Outer Edges

In indirect light, foliage tends to be lightest at its outer and upper edges, and darkest at its base or its core.
Micronesia foliage from U.C. Berkeley
This is true at the level of individual leaves or fronds, such as these leaves in a rain forest. Note the gradations within each leaf, with the lightest values at the tips of the leaves and the darkest values at their bases where they attach.

With transmitted light, this darkening at the proximal end is a consequence of both the greater material thickness at the base, and the lesser amount of light arriving at the top surface due to occlusion from nearby forms.

In this painting from Dinotopia: First Flight, I was conscious of varying the color and value of the leaves and making them lighter at the tips, especially when we see them illuminated by the yellow-green transmitted light. 

The principle is also true on a larger scale, not just at the level of a leaf, but also at the level of entire trees when you look at them in indirect light. 

James Perry Wilson, Summery Showers
In this 12x16 inch oil study by James Perry Wilson (1889-1976), note how each tree silhouette gradates from darkest at the base of each tree or bush to lightest at the outer and upper edges.
Blog posts about James Perry Wilson

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29. OBLIVION by Jennifer L. Armentrout // Excerpt

Daemon fans rejoice! OBLIVION is available NOW!! The eBook includes two bonus books from Daemon's POV, as well as original music inspired by OBLIVION embedded in the eBook.  We know you've been waiting for this book for a long time, and today you get a little taste of what's to come. We have an excerpt from OBLIVION for you to sink your teeth into! Check it out below and tell us what you think

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30. Batman v Superman - Exclusive Sneak [HD]

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31. So, Who Should Play Clea In Dr Strange?

I was asked whether I had hear if the character Clea would be in the new Dr Strange movie?  Well, believe it or not, I do not get consulted on these things!

I mean, if I were then there are two actresses I'd say ought to be in the running for the part of Strange's "love interest" and they are....

Essie Davis (Miss Fisher Mysteries)

Before you say a thing, Davis is a blond...or she was last week, I think.  But what the hell. Great actress and incredible cheekbones.


The other, obviously, is Cate Blanchett.  Also a great actress and, just realised, also has great cheekbones.   Theme somewhere here.
And I know everyone will have their own opinions so, without being rude about either of these two actresses -who would you choose?

And, Subzero, Ya Ya Han is not a contender.  NO.

Oh, and, yes, I am old enough to still say "actor" (male) and "actress" (female) especially after seeing a recent conversation in which a person could not remember the name of the "actor" and kept shaking his head as his friend kept offering names -"Mel Gibson?" "No!" "George Cloony?" "No!  The one with the legs!" And "The one with the legs? WTF you talking about???"  long pause....."Oh -a woman?"


I come from the past.

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32. Biographies with girl power

Doesn’t it seem as though many of the biographies written are about men and their accomplishments? Don’t get me wrong — there are plenty of admirable men who have changed the world through their daring, innovation, and wisdom. But how about the other half of the world’s population? Women just haven’t gotten the press they deserve. Luckily, biographies today are becoming vastly diverse with the individuals they feature and the fields in which those individuals excel. And that includes some great new biographies about women. Take a look at these three to share with your students (both male and female). The first is for younger students (grades K-3) and the other two are good for upper elementary (grades 4-6):

dear malala standDear Malala, We Stand With You by Rosemary McCarney with Plan International
There have been several books written by, and about, Malala Yousafzai, but this picture book version is unique. It begins with a short biography of Malala and her 2012 shooting by the Taliban for being outspoken about education for girls, and her life in England now. The bulk of the book is a series of exquisite photographs of girls around the world and brief text describing their desire for an education, despite the many social, political, and economic restraints placed on them. The title ends with ways for the reader to help further Malala’s cause.

Girl Tar PaperThe Girl from the Tar Paper School: Barbara Rose Johns and the Advent of the Civil Rights Movement by Teri Kanefield
Barbara Johns, an African American high school student in Virginia in 1951, was appalled at the conditions of the make shift classrooms in their segregated school. Acting well beyond her years, she organized a peaceful walk out, demonstration, and boycott among her senior class to demand new facilities. They were ridiculed by the local school board, government, and police force. The NAACP agreed to take on the case, only if the students changed their demands to full integration. They agreed, and their case contributed to the 1954 Supreme Court ruling in Brown vs. Board of Education. The story begins with Barbara’s senior year, and flashes back to her early years, and then beyond. Remarkably, she grew up to become a school librarian! The book is filled with captioned photos, sidebars, quotations, and primary sources. The large font and strong voice makes for a swift read. The concluding author’s note is enlightening, and the timeline, endnotes, and extensive bibliography complete the book.

rad american womenRad American Women A-Z by Kate Shatz, illustrated by Miriam Klein Stahl
This is a collective biography of 26 women, described as “rebels, trailblazers, and visionaries who shaped our history…and our future” (cover copy). They represent diverse fields, ethnicities, ages, and geographic locations. Beginning with Angela Davis, and ending with Zora Neale Hurston, each biographee’s personality, challenges, and accomplishments are described in engaging text and accompanied by a simple black and white block cut illustration. The book concludes with an end note, a list of “26 Things that you can do to be rad!” (unp.)., and a list of resources.


Editor’s note: for many more recommended biographies of women, follow these tags: Biographies; Women’s History

The post Biographies with girl power appeared first on The Horn Book.

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33. Daily Drawing: Reindeer 1


How can December be here already? Where has the year gone?

This is the 12th month of my “daily drawings” and this month will be devoted to Reindeer! Tune in every weekday for more of these guys.

The post Daily Drawing: Reindeer 1 appeared first on rob-peters.com.

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34. Guest Post and Giveaway: I’ll Be There by Samantha Chase

Hey, Everyone! It’s Samantha Chase and I am super excited to be here today with all of you at the Manga Maniac Café and talking about the newest book in the Montgomery Brothers series, “I’ll Be There”. This is book six in the series and we are looking at the crankiest member of the family – Zach Montgomery. He has a good reason to be that way, but he’s making life crazy for everyone around him. You see…well, I’ll let him tell you about it.

Hey, ladies! Zach Montgomery here. I don’t know about you, but I am a total adrenaline junkie. Or…at least I used to be. I’m not jumping out of planes any time in the near future but man oh man did I have some great trips doing that sort of thing and more! I have some amazing memories from each and every one of my trips but I’ll give you some highlights – you know, just in case you’re looking for your own adrenaline rush!

1. Great Barrier Reef dive – I’m normally more of a land – or sky – adventurer, but when I’m in Australia, the water calls! There is so much to see beside the reef itself – scorpion fish, parrot fish, fusiliers, sea snakes, crabs, shrimp, starfish and octopus…just amazing!

2. Whitewater Rafting in Zambia – No two white water rafting trips are the same and I’ll try it wherever I travel to. A great day excursion while visiting Victoria Falls is an amazing way to view the scenery and also have a thrilling adventure.

3. CN Tower EdgeWalk – I have to admit, I wasn’t so sure about this one but I’m glad I did it. The world’s highest full-circle, hands-free walk lets you stroll the top edge of the Lookout Level pod, more than 1,150 feet above the streets, held by nothing but a safety harness. Just don’t look down!

4. Bungee Jump Stockhorn: Bernese Oberland Mountains Plunge – There is never too many bungee jumping options! And bungee jumping in the Alps is an incredible experience. Dive more than 400 feet from a gondola in the Swiss Alps on one of the world’s most amazing bungee jumps. Plummet towards a lake during the free fall with the Bernese Oberland Mountains as your backdrop before you’re lowered into a waiting boat.

5. Zapcat powerboating – When I heard inflatable, I didn’t think they’d be exciting. Boy was I wrong! These inflatable catamaran hulls decked out with powerful racing engines are built purely for speed, and therefore thrills. The Gs can be brutal, and the jumps will make you wonder whether you’re sailing or flying, but there are few things on water that beat these bad boys for bragging rights!

Book #6 in New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Samantha Chase’s popular Montgomery series

This Montgomery Has a Head for Business
Working for Zach Montgomery is challenging on many levels-coming from a wealthy and powerful family, he lives by his own rules and doesn’t answer to anyone. But Gabriella Martine has no intention of backing down. She’s used to handling stubborn men, and it doesn’t hurt that Zach is smart, charismatic…and gorgeous.
And a Heart for Adventure
Zach’s perfect world is turned upside down when a climbing accident leaves him broken, angry, and maddeningly dependent. In his slow quest for recovery, Gabriella is always there to help…but as Zach comes to see his beautiful assistant in a new light, he is forced to re-evaluate what it really means to be a man worthy of Gabriella’s love.

Montgomery Brothers Series:
Wait for Me (Book 1)
Trust in Me (Book 2)
Stay with Me (Book 3)
Return to You (Book 4)
Meant for You (Book 5)
I’ll Be There (Book 6)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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35. The Wind in the Willows

The Wind in the Willows. Kenneth Grahame. Illustrated by David Roberts. 1907/1983. Simon & Schuster. 244 pages. [Source: Library]
I loved, loved, loved rereading The Wind in the Willows. I wasn't exactly planning on rereading it this year. I wasn't. But. I was looking for a good audio book to check out from the library. I saw Wind in the Willows on the shelf; I checked it out. I listened to it. That could have been the end of it. But, of course, it wasn't. I had to read it too. I just had to. I could no more resist rereading the book than Toad could resist driving an automobile.

What do I love about the book? Well, many things. I love the characters. I love, love, love the relationships between the characters. And the adventures!!! Plenty happens in this one! Does Toad deserve all that he gets? Maybe, maybe not. But Toad is, without a doubt, unforgettable!!!

The edition I read had illustrations from Ernest H. Shepard. The illustrations were great: some were in color, others were in black and white. They made a great book seem even greater.

Would I be hosting the Edwardian Reading Challenge if it wasn't for me "having" to read The Wind in the Willows right NOW? I'm not sure. But I'm so glad I followed my heart!!!

My favorite quote:
"What are we to do with him?" asked the Mole of the Water Rat.
"Nothing at all," replied the Rat firmly. "Because there is really nothing to be done. You see, I know him from old. He is now possessed. He has got a new craze, and it always takes him that way, in its first stage. He'll continue like that for days now, like an animal walking in a happy dream, quite useless for all practical purposes. Never mind him."

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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36. #NaNoWriMo2015 - Week #4 Final Update

My NaNoWriMo 2015 has drawn to a close.

This year was definitely different from last year where I felt out of sorts and scatterbrained the whole month I tried to write. I feel that this year was better; much better.

I had to bust a move this last week and trust me, it wasn't easy. That's alright, I chose to prevail and prevail I did. Tenacity is such a great thing to have in reserve when you need it.

I've said it every week but I will say it again. My greatest thanks goes to my best friend, Angela Markham. I think we motivated and pushed each other and benefited from it.

Thanks to Lyn Ehley, my favorite editor, and also Allan Baker (another of my editors) who were game enough to work on editing Jewels 2 in "real time" as I wrote it.

Jewels #2 will be released in January 2016 so stay tuned for news on that front.

NaNoWrimo 2015 Final Stats Wrap-up

Words written week #4: 25,399

NaNo final grand total: 50,416

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37. December- Hope and Celebration, kids, books, movies, and dogs

  Thomas Nast Santa


Hope and Celebration - Light in the darkness, time out for happiness, wonder and magic.

Enter the world of tales told by people, of stories that live on. of tales of wonder, fairy tales.

Santa Claus, the man in the red suit stepping out of the chimney, comes to us from the talented Thomas Nast; his popular 19th century illustrations helped to popularize Santa Claus as we know him today.                                                                



Charles Dicken'sA Christmas Carol, and the power of story.

This book influenced the thinking of generations of readers, and transformed the spirit of the Christmas holiday. The transformation was guided by Dicken's passionate belief that the true Christmas spirit embodied caring and generosity -- especially for those less fortunate.

TinyTimchristmascarolJohnLeechA Christmas Carol was written with the passion born of his painful childhood as an impoverished 12 year old boy from a broken family.With his father in debtor's prison, Dickens was forced to leave school and work ten-hour days for six shillings a week under harsh conditions (the factory was home to multitudes of rats) in England's new industrial economy. 

Much has changed with the passing of time and the commercialism of the marketplace has brought an endless stream of marketing -- more games, toys and advertising -- to Christmas.

But the Spirit Of Christmas does live on.


ScroogeJohnLeech“I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year. I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future. The Spirits of all Three shall strive within me. I will not shut out the lessons that they teach!” ...Ebenezer Scrooge in A Christmas Carol.

Scrooge Lives On...

Viking has recently published (October 2015) a well reviewed book by Charles Lovett, The Further Adventures of Ebenezer Scrooge. For more information, visit his website: Charles Lovett

The above illustrations are by John Leech from the original A Christmas Carol.


The Legend of Santa Claus

SantaThomas NastIN the USA, the legend of Santa Claus was greatly enhanced in the early nineteenth century by the poem, A Visit From St.Nicholas. 

The popularity of this story-poem, first published in 1823, continued to grow with the passing years. It was originally written for his children by Clement Clarke Moore.

Later in the century, popular illustrations by Thomas Nast, including Moore's poem, A Visit From St Nicholas, firmly established Santa Claus as a jolly, rotund figure in a red suit with a white beard. Nast's images of Santa and his red suit became accepted and remain the norm today.


The illustration is by Thomas Nast.


The Fairy Tale Moves On Its Own Time 

"It all adds up to this: the fairy tale narrates a wish-fulfillment which is not bound by its
SecretoftheKellsTomm_Mooreown time and the apparel of its contents. In contrast to the folk tale, which is always tied to a particular locale, the fairy tale remains unbound. Not only does the fairy tale remain as fresh as longing and love, 
but the evil demons that abound in fairy tales are still at work here in the present, and the happiness of "once upon a time", which is even more abundant in the fairy tale, still affects our vision of the future..." 

The above insights into the role of fairy tales are from an essay written in 1930 by the German GerardDubois3scholar and philosopher, Ernst Bloch. I believe that the context in which they were written adds to their import. Germany in 1930 was in the grip of the Great Depression. Poverty and uncertainty had swept the land. Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party were feeding on people's fear and rising in power. Bloch later escaped to the USA where he wrote his renowned three-part treatise, The Principle of Hope (1938-1947). 

The illustration from the Secret Of The Kells is by Tomm Moore. The painting is by Gerard Dubois.




The Elves and the Shoemaker

ElvesShoemakerLucy-Crane1886Here is an excerpt from a fairy tale by the Grimm's that came to be a Christmas story. It tells of the elves who helped a hard working, but impoverished shoemaker and his wife ...they, in gratitude, surprised the elves at Christmas time.

"About midnight in they came, dancing and skipping, hopped round the room, and then went to sit down to their work as usual; but when they saw the clothes lying for them, they laughed and chuckled, and seemed mightily delighted.

Then they dressed themselves in the twinkling of an eye, and danced and capered and sprang about, as merry as could be; till at last they danced out at the door, and away over the green..."

Here is link to read it all: The Elves and the Shoemaker  The illustration is by Lucy Crane.


The Saga Of Santa Claus 

SagaOfChristmasCoverWho is Santa? Where did he come from? How did the toy workshops get started? Where did all the elves come from and why did they agree to move to the wintry north and make toys for Santa? And how about the flying reindeer...where did they come from? These are among the many heretofore unanswered questions about the orgins of Christmas and Santa Claus.   

Now, at last, author Mark Couturier has written The Saga Of Santa Claus, a fascinating book telling the complete story of the ancient origins of Christmas and Santa Claus. For a comprehensive picture of this original book, check out the enthusiastic Amazon  reviews.



"The year 2015 will see the 49th annual Kwanzaa, the African American holiday celebrated from December 26 to January 1. It is estimated that some 18 million African Americans take part in Kwanzaa.

KwanzaFamilyCelebrationKwanzaa is not a religious holiday, nor is it meant to replace Christmas. It was created by Dr. Maulana "Ron" Karenga, a professor of Black Studies, in 1966. At that time of great social change for African Americans, Karenga sought to design a celebration that would honor the values of ancient African cultures and inspire African Americans who were working for progress. 

Kwanzaa is based on the year-end harvest festivals that have taken place throughout Africa for thousands of years."...Kwanzaa ends with gift giving and a celebratory feast.

This post is based on a comprehensive article by Holly Hartman.


Every Year...

XmasLightsonSheepChristmas Lights Moving Through the Hills...
A Holiday treat, and a wonder to behold, the moving lights are on hundreds of sheep, running in the darkness, guided by sheepdogs...this is a classic video...Here is the link: Moving Lights 



  Penn Vet

Pdf-logo-whitePenn Vet Working Dog Center 
Philadelphia, PA is a recent recipient of a 
Planet Dog Foundation (PDF) grant. The goals of the Penn Vet working Dog Center are "national security, fields of detection work, canine health and performance, and to enhance that unique bond between humans and man’s best friend". The Planet Dog Foundation has awarded grants exceeding one million dollars to fund "the training, placement and support of dogs helping people in need." 


"The Penn Vet Working Dog Center is part of the University of Pennsylvania's School of PennVetVeterinary Medicine, and serves as a national research and development center for detection dogs. They work to train elite detection dogs to assist in medical research, national security, and finding victims of disasters. PDF has awarded a $10,000 grant in support of Punches, a female Labrador Retriever named in honor of Jack Punches, a victim of the attacks of 9/11. Punches is training to detect explosives, explosives residue, and post-blast evidence. Trained explosives detection dogs can also detect firearms and ammunition hidden in vehicles and containers, on persons, or buried underground." 

Learn more about Penn Vet Working Dog Center here. 


 The Ghost Dog of Christmas Past

Here is an an excerpt from the dog lovers book, Circling the Waggins,  by CA Wulff. The dogs CtWrevisedCoverKindleseen in the ebook cover are the current residents of the cabin in the woods wherein this saga of a life with rescued dogs takes place. The book is a journey into the heart and mind of a dedicated pet lover who shares her experiences, concerns, and deep emotions with the reader.The setting is a cabin-home in a national park forest. The characters are several adopted dogs, cats, and, for a while, domestic mice -- and two compassionate women.

"I feel like we are haunted by the ghost dog of Christmas past. The Troll2season brings a million reminders of our Troll, a dog who had loved Christmas more than any other time of year. He would get excited at the first signs of holiday decorations, and his eyes would shine with a child’s wonder. On Christmas morning, he would race to be the first dog under the tree, to tear at the packages full of biscuits and rawhides. Each of the dogs would tear at a package, but Troll unwrapped with such gusto and fervor, that they would all abandon their presents to stand back and watch him, and then make off with whatever treats he had revealed." 

CA Wullf also created the cover for her book.



Snow Valley Heroes, A Christmas Tale

Review... Loved it… This delightful conclusion to the Planet of the Dogs series just caps off a wonderful tradition. The story is well suited to be read aloud to younger children and as chapter book for the older ones. All of your favorite dogs help rescue two of Santa's reindeer from the Evil King of the North. The story also imparts important lessons of cooperation and responsibility."   Mary Jacobs, Editor/reviewer Bookhounds  

Daisy&Nor-397KBWe have free reader copies of all the books in the Planet Of The Dogs series  for therapy dog organizations, individual therapy dog owners, librarians and teachers...simply send us an email at planetofthedogs@gmail.com and we will send you the books.  

Our books are available through your favorite independent bookstore, Barnes & Noble, Amazon, Powell's and many more. They are also available in digital format at Barnes and NobleAmazonKoboOysterInkteraScribd, Powells, Tolino, 

Librians, teachers, bookstores...You can also order Planet Of The Dogs, Castle In The Mist, and Snow Valley Heroes, A Christmas Tale, through Ingram with a full professional discount. 

To read sample chapters of the series, visit Planet Of The Dogs. -

 The illustration, above, from Snow Valley Heroes, A Christmas Tale, is by Stella Mustanoja-McCarty.

"What a truly wonderful and unique Christmas story for the whole family..." Don Blankenship,
Teacher, Reviewer for Great Books For Kids.


 Singing One Of The Old-Time Carols

..."'I think it must be the field-mice,' replied the Mole, with a touch of pride in his manner. 'They go round carol-singing regularly at this time of the year. They're quite an institution in these parts. And they never pass me over—they come to Mole End last of all; and I used to give them hot drinks, and supper too sometimes, when I could afford it. It will be like old times to hear them again.'

'Let's have a look at them!' cried the Rat, jumping up and running to the door.

XmasMiceWInWIngamooreIt was a pretty sight, and a seasonable one, that met their eyes when they flung the door open. In the fore-court, lit by the dim rays of a horn lantern, some eight or ten little fieldmice stood in a semicircle, red worsted comforters round their throats, their fore-paws thrust deep into their pockets, their feet jigging for warmth. With bright beady eyes they glanced shyly at each other, sniggering a little, sniffing and applying coat-sleeves a good deal. As the door opened, one of the elder ones that carried the lantern was just saying, 'Now then, one, two, three!' and forthwith their shrill little voices uprose on the air, singing one of the old-time carols that their forefathers composed in fields that were fallow and held by frost, or when snow-bound in chimney corners, and handed down to be sung in the miry street to lamp-lit windows at Yule-time..."

The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame, Illustration by Ernst Shepard 


Interview With Santa

This interview was conducted as part of a program to determine the truth behind the incredible story of Snow Valley Heroes, A Christmas Tale....

Santa-397KB Interviewer: Thanks for taking the time to answer our questions and clarifying things. 

Santa: I’m happy that the story is finally coming out. 

Interviewer: Is it a true story? 

Santa:  Absolutely. 

Interviewer: Why haven’t we known about it before? 

Santa:  I think it was lost in the mists of time…It took place hundreds and hundreds of years ago. 

Interviewer: Is it true that there was to be no more Christmas? 

Santa: I’m sorry to say that it’s true. Until the dogs arrived. 

Interviewer: The dogs? 

Santa: It was a surprise to all of us in Santa Claus village. None of us, and that includes all the elves, had even heard of dogs. 

Reindeer&Dog&Night-397KBInterviewer: Is that because you were so far North and rather isolated? 

Santa: Well, that and the fact that dogs has just started arriving on planet earth. Prior to that time, there had been no dogs on Earth. 

Interviewer: Really! Where did they come from? And how did they find you? 

Santa: They had started coming down to Earth from their own planet – the Planet of the Dogs. They came down to help people. Somehow, they heard we were in trouble, and one day, there they were, just like that...

 To read all of the Interview with Santa, click this link:  Interview with Santa 



 Boyhood Memories

"One Christmas was so much like the other, in those years around the sea-town corner now, ChildsChhristmasWalesCoverBookout of all sound except the distant speaking of the voices I sometimes hear a moment before sleep, that I can never remember whether it snowed for six days and six nights when I was twelve, or whether it snowed for twelve days and twelve nights when I was six.

All the Christmases roll down towards the two-tongued sea, like a cold and headlong moon bundling down the sky that was our street; and they stop at the rim of the ice-edged, fish-freezing waves, and I plunge my hands in the snow and bring out whatever I can find. In goes my hand into that wool-white bell-tongued ball of holidays resting at the rim of the carol-singing sea, and out come Mrs. Prothero and the firemen..."
Dylan Thomas, A Child's Christmas in Wales



 Light In The Darkness 

"The Global Partnership for Education (GPE)  supports developing countries to ensure that every child receives a quality basic education, prioritizing the poorest, most vulnerable and those living in fragile and conflict-affected countries.

Established in 2002, the Global Partnership for Education is comprised of 60 developing countries, more than 20 donor governments, and international organizations, the private sector and foundations, teachers, and civil society/NGOs."

GPESince its inception, the Global Partnership has supported developing country partners to achieve remarkable and measurable results. For example, the number of out-of-school primary school children has been reduced from 56 million to 41 million in 2012. They have also achieved substantial improvements in gender parity and major increases in the number of girls completing primary school in countries where GPE has supplied support and resources.

Here is a link for more ot the remarkable RESULTS, from around the world (updates and photos), of  the Global Partnership for Education.



Hope in Dystopia in  Mockingjay: Part 2

Mockingjay2SymbolThis film is being seen by multitudes of people worldwide. Based on that fact alone, Mockingjay 2 is an important YA crossover film. It is a rather long, dark, viewing experience, executed with excellent acting and all the traditional elements of a very well done action movie. Mockingjay 2 also deals with issues of morality amidst the painful chaos of war.

Richard Lawson, in his thoughtful Vanity Fair review, considered the film's significance in these troubled times as well as the "entertainment" value of the film. Here are excerpts:

Mockingjay2"Mockingjay: Part 2 shows us, in rich and bracing fashion, the Hunger Games movies have been saying something all along—about the tragedy of youth (or anyone) in war, about post-traumatic stress disorder, about the ways we cede our autonomy to notions of comfort, to spectacle, to the easy lies of othering. The film makes these points in a far more clear-headed, more resonant manner than its source material. It’s a rare film adaptation that improves upon the original text, highlighting its crucial themes while streamlining and shaping the action into something legible and gripping...

The Hunger Games films...show us how good blockbuster movies can be. And they beseech us, in their earnest way, to be better, conscientious stewards of our own fraught and fragile world. That’s a useful message for anyone these days, young adult or not."

Here is a link to the article: Richard Lawson

Here is a link to the trailer: Mockingjay 2


Star Wars: The Force Awakens -- in time for the Holidays

The Dark Side Returns Worldwide on December 18-19 in 2D, 3D, and IMAX 3D...just in time
Star-wars-the-force-awakensReyDaisyRidleyfor the Holidays. Disney executives expect a very happy holiday, anticipating box office records with this $200,000,000 million dollar film. Fans will find that Harrison Ford, Chewbacca, Jedi Knights and light sabers have all returned along with the Dark Side. In keeping with changing times, the good side also has an important female warrior woman, Rey. Played by newcomer Daisy Ridley, she is also a red hot pilot.

 Here is a link to Trailer #1: The Force Awakens


Review: In ‘The Good Dinosaur,’ a Reptile Tends to His Human Pet

Manohla Dargis, the excellent NY Times reviewer, wrote a warm review for this latest Pixar production. Here is an excerpt... 

GoodDinosaur"Blink and you may miss the sly joke that sets 'The Good Dinosaur' on its enchantingly eccentric way. It begins with a near apocalypse 65 million years ago and an asteroid racing toward Earth. And while that’s around the time, more or less, that science hypothesizes the dinosaurs bit the dust, the wizards at Pixar have forged another creation story. Instead of crashing, the space rock zips past the big blue marble... "

Here is a link to read all of MS Dargis' review:  The Good Dinosaur

Here is a link to the trailer: Dinosaur


What a wonderful worldHope and Celebration are here with music... 3 minutes and 40 seconds of joy from singing kids in many places...What A Wonderful World (Playing for Change) 



WCDogsheader9All About Dog Love

Nancy Houser, on her Way Cool Dogs Blog, provides a wide variety of information on dog issues ranging from health care and nutrition to canine science and dog love. On a recent post, How To Love Your Dog, she wrote about many facets of dog love. Here's an excerpt...

PGI MontyyFourthGrade"How to love your dog by being a dog is something every dog owner should know about, as long as they do not continuously wag their tail!

And, whether your dog is a mischievous young puppy and full of bounding love, or an older dog that has been abandoned with very little  love— it won’t be too hard to play the part.

Loving your dog makes it easy to build positive and loving feelings for this furry friend,  choosing what is best to develop a better life.  Dogs who are loved not only feel safe, but secure and cherished.  But, recognizing if you love your dog does not mean a thing if your dog does not love you back."..The article continues, including a point by point section entitled"How to tell if your dog loves you back".

Nancy also includes information on fascinating MRI studies regarding a dog's love by neuroscientist Dr Gregory Berns. Dr Berns wrote a book titled "How Dogs Love Us". To learn more about Dr, Berns and his MRI dog studies, here is a link to his Ted Talk.

The photo is courtesy of the wonderful Paws Giving Independence therapy dog organization, Peoria,Illonois. Please click on the photo to enlarge and to see why it was chosen.


5Kids in CampDuhok-Domiz 161
Children, War, and Hope

Thirty million children have been driven from their homes by war. In a touching and informed article on refugee children, Jake Silverstein --  in the New York Times Magazine -- writes of this devastating situation by telling the stories of three young girls. Each is from a different part of the world: the Ukraine, South Sudan, and Lebanon. Here are excerpts from this excellent article:
GirlBrotherRefugeesSyriaJeffJMitchellGetty..."Young as these girls are, they have already been asked to bear a profound loss. You can see it in their faces. They appear to be only half children, the other half having been matured ahead of schedule by trauma and displacement. They know what they should not. And yet, there is still that other half. They are still kids. Unlike the adults in the frame, who must be constantly aware of their dangerous ordeal, the girls, from time to time, might forget. If the moment was right, they might play a game...
That children, even under the worst of circumstances, are able to remain children supplies the world around them with the sense of a future, which is the equivalent of hope..." 
The photo of the five Syrian children was taken in the Domaz refugee camp in Iraq.The photo of the  young girl and her brother was taken in a Syrian refugee camp by Jeff J. Mitchell/Getty

Long Line at the Library? It’s Story Time Again

by Winnie Hu NY Times

BeatricePotterSnow"Story time is drawing capacity crowds at public libraries across New York and across the country
at a time when, more than ever, educators are emphasizing the importance of early literacy in preparing children for school and for developing critical thinking skills. The demand crosses economic lines, with parents at all income levels vying to get in.

Many libraries have refashioned the traditional readings to include enrichment activities such as counting numbers and naming colors, as well as music and dance. And many parents have made story time a fixture in their family routines alongside school pickups and playground outings — and, for those who employ nannies, a nonnegotiable requirement of the job...

Moomin-christmasLibraries around the country have expanded story time and other children’s programs in recent years, attracting a new generation of patrons in an age when online offerings sometimes make trips to the book stacks unnecessary. Sari Feldman, president of the American Library Association, said such early-literacy efforts are part of a larger transformation libraries are undergoing to become active learning centers for their communities by offering services like classes in English as a second language, computer skills and career counseling."

The illustration of the rabbits is by Beatrix Potter.The illustration of the Moomins is by Tove Jansson. 


SunbearSqBigLogo Anna Nirva is the guiding light at Sunbear Squad,
a leading source for information and guidance in dog rescue and care. Here is an excerpt from their site about fostering dogs 

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38. 2 Books to Help Children Think About Changing the World

I am exited to share these two books with my 3rd graders as we learn about our own community and ways we can help make our communities and our world better.

31 Ways to Change the World  is based on the idea that "Small Actions X Lots of People = Big Change".  The book is filled with ideas of things kids can do to make things better. They are small things such as "Make Someone Smile" and "Don't Charge Your Phone Overnight".  Each idea gives an explanation of how this helps.  The layout for each idea is different so kids can read the pages in any order they wish. This is not a book that needs to be read cover-to-cover.

Can We Help: Kids Volunteering to Help Their Communities by George Ancona shares many ways kids help in their communities.  The book is filled with the ways kids of all ages can help in their communities and the photos show them in action.  There is a good variety of volunteer opportunities that I can see readers being inspired by one or more of the ideas shared. The book also gives the  message that volunteering and doing things for your community is a fun way to spend your time. 

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39. Five differences between Canada and the United States

One of the tasks of a Canadian ambassador to the United States is persuading his audiences that Canadians really are distinct from Americans. One ambassador commented that if he asked an audience The Question – was there a difference – Americans would politely say no, not really, and Canadians would say the opposite. What is the correct answer to The Question – or is there a correct answer?

The post Five differences between Canada and the United States appeared first on OUPblog.

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40. Wartime bedfellows: Jack London and Mills & Boon

What do America’s most famous novelist and the world’s largest purveyor of paperback romances have in common? More than you would think. Jack London (1876-1916), author of The Call of the Wild, White Fang, and other classics, was published in the UK and overseas by Mills & Boon, beginning in 1912.

The post Wartime bedfellows: Jack London and Mills & Boon appeared first on OUPblog.

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41. Meet the cast of Illuminating Shakespeare

Get to know the team behind the Illuminating Shakespeare project as they reveal their stand-out Shakespearean memories, performances, and quotations.

The post Meet the cast of Illuminating Shakespeare appeared first on OUPblog.

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42. If Mr Bunny Doesn't Get Up In Five Minutes I'm Slapping Him!

I know I've been ignoring you all.  I missed you.  I love you all.  Anyone buys any of that crap needs certifying. 

Word to the wise: you are not in a free country! Example:

I looked at the smiling snowman and art and I turn around: "So, nice, friendly smiling snowman? Really? Compacted snow with a hat and carrot nose and stone eyes is normal? Its supernatural. It is possessed by a dark entity or demon and it wants to subvert your mind, possess you. You'll do what it tells you to -it might even tell you to gouge out peoples eyes, slaughter your family, burn the house down. It'll possess your body until you are an inhuman, smelling, rotting corpse and die -or some decent soul kills you -and that will NOT be pretty!  Not such a lovely, cheerful character now is it?"

Point made I turned and left.

Apparently, according to police, I am never to go back to that nursery school.

EU bureaucracy at its worst!!!

Need to get my ears syringed, too.  I went into a rage for ten minutes yesterday asking why we have to vote to "bum" someone.  My sister pointed out the word was "bomb".

Still, Tennis, hey?  Why are spectators to that, ahem, "sport", becoming such loud mouthed, noisy yobs? Even rugby crowds are better behaved...rugby fans are good folk at heart and its why you find fans from opposing teams mixed up in stands, still holding their drinks and lots of friendly banter.

Black Friday is now, through sheer business greed, "Black Friday Week" and even "Black Friday Fortnight"?  Why?

Small shopkeeper opposite gets a loud of complaints because something he sells is "Ten pence cheaper at Asda!"  and to follow that they say "Might as well get in the car and go there!"  So, the item he is selling is 75p.  You can buy it in Asda for 65p.  Fair enough.  Asda is about three miles away and if you catch the bus that's £1.50 there and £1.50 return.  £3.00. Or by car -how much fuel are you using trying to drive around winding, busy roads?  To save 10p?  I know small shops charge more but that is because they cannot dictate terms to suppliers.

And a tax on Tampons "because they are a luxury item"???  Worst thing is I bet a woman was probably one of the people who approved that.  I'm guessing because, usually, when you write or say that this is a typical moronic, arse-headed male thing to do someone says: "the decision was approved by Lady Shave's committee" -utter arse-headed morons. 


I've taken two -TWO- of those tablets and Mr Floppy still hasn't woken up yet. No more buying meds from Kenyan Pharmacy Online.


The saints are crippled
On this sinners' night
Lost are the lambs with no guiding light

The walls come down like thunder
The rocks about to roll
It's The Arockalypse
Now bare your soul

All we need is lightning
With power and might
Striking down the prophets of false
As the moon is rising
Give us the sign
Now let us rise up in awe

Rock 'n roll angels bring thyn hard rock hallelujah
Demons and angels all in one have arrived
Rock 'n roll angels bring thyn hard rock hallelujah
In God's creation supernatural high

The true believers
Thou shall be saved
Brothers and sisters keep strong in the faith
On the day of Rockoning
It's who dares, wins
You will see the jokers soon'll be the new kings...


Why aren't you singing??

Wonder what these new meds do?

Let's get Christmassy -a classic!
Sadly, folks -I SHALL RETURN!!

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43. ‘Performance Capture: Part 2’ by Mike Pelletier

Transmission of information.

The post ‘Performance Capture: Part 2’ by Mike Pelletier appeared first on Cartoon Brew.

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44. How to put it down on paper

Question: I've been wanting to write a book for a while now and have multiple ideas for books. My problem is I can't figure out how to get my ideas from

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45. On the Spotlight: 'Dee and Deb Off They Go Kindergarten First Day Jitters' by Donna McDine

Donna McDine's latest children's picture book is a charming, fun tale about first day jitters. Be sure to check it out for the kids in your family who will be going to school soon!

Title: Dee and Deb Off They Go Kindergarten First Day Jitters
Genre: children’s
Author: Donna McDine
Publisher: Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc.
Purchase linkwww.donnamcdine.com and Guardian Angel Publishing and Amazon 

About the Book: The anxiety of finding one’s own place and friends in kindergarten without the comfort of having her fraternal twin sister nearby at first overwhelms Dee until she realizes even without her fraternal twin sister, Dee and her classmates for the most part are in the same boat.

About the Author: Multi award-winning children’s author, Donna McDine’s creative side laid dormant for many years until her desire to write sparked in 2007. Her latest release Dee and Deb Off They Go Kindergarten First Day Jitters joins the four early reader children’s picture books, A Sandy Grave(January 2014), Powder Monkey (May 2013), Hockey Agony (January 2013) and The Golden Pathway (August 2010) all with Guardian Angel Publishing. Join McDine as her adventures continue as she ignites the curiosity of children through reading. She writes and moms from her home in the historical hamlet Tappan, NY. McDine is a member of the SCBWI.

Connect with Donna on the Web!

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46. My tweets

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Children love Christmas and Santa. And together the combination can’t be beat. Put Santa in a unique setting (a concert stage), give him Mick Jagger’s sunglasses, Steven Tyler’s scarf, and a rockin’ reindeer band and you’ve got the makings of a fun Christmas story that puts a whole new spin on what happens Christmas Eve.

It’s Christmas Eve. The tree is lit and children await Santa’s arrival, only they’re not tucked snuggly in their beds dreaming of sugarplums. They’re stomping and clapping at a Christmas rock concert, where Santa is the “star.” Santa’s snow-white hair is in a ponytail and he’s ready to rock. The rowdy reindeer band includes Donner on electric bass, eerily resembling Keith Richard. Blitzen has a Paul Stanley-like star painted on his eye as he plays the drums, and you can’t help but notice the resemblance of Comet to Slash, as he shoots across the stage. It’s an original, modern day retelling of a Christmas classic, but what happens on this night before Christmas is rockin’.

ROCK STAR SANTA is proud to take his place among real ROCK STARS. The powerful sound of electric guitars, pounding bass, and crashing drums inspired Rock Star Santa’s birth.
Author with Rock Star Santa Fans and Santa Doll

Shortly after attending a Trans-Siberian Orchestra Christmas concert, I penned the verses for Rock Star Santa—my interpretation of a rock concert of kids. Written in lyrical rhyme, it’s a rollicking night before Christmas with a surprise twist.

Rock Star Santa has fans around the world. He performed over 157,000 concerts in the United States, Canada, England, and the Caribbean.

He was even portrayed by a “real-life” rock star at his performance in Montserrat, British West Indies. Peter Fileul, keyboard player for the Climax Blues Band, so graciously agreed to be the “real-life” ROCK STAR SANTA. And this year he’s the star of the Kindergarten holiday performance in Melbourne, Australia. QUOTES & REVIEWS HERE:

Rock Star Santa by Gayle C. Krause (Author), Will Terry (Illustrator)
Reading level: Ages 3-7
Paperback: 32 pages
Publisher: Scholastic
Holiday themes to expect: Santa
TCBR analysis: Kids will really enjoy the energy from this wildly fun take on Santa Claus.
Publisher’s synopsis: Santa Claus Live In Concert, One Night Only!

Gayle’s short stories and poems can be found in Hopscotch for Girls, Boy’s Quest, Highlights and various anthologies. She’s the author of Scheherazade’s Secret, a retelling of the Arabian Night’s Tale, and RATGIRL: SONG OF THE VIPER.

RATGIRL: Song of the Viper – a retelling of The Pied Piper set in a dystopian future with global warming. Available from THE Amazon Link below:

The book trailer can be viewed at:

Are you ready to rock? Santa and his rowdy reindeer band bring down the house on Christmas Eve! If you'd like to purchase ROCK STAR SANTA as a Christmas present, you can order it through Scholastics Book Club. http://www.scholastic.com/teachers/book/rock-star-santa#cart/cleanup

So what do you love most about Christmas? If you like the exact same thing Rock Star Santa does, he’ll be sending you a signed copy of his book. Just leave your comment below for a chance to win and have a “Rocking Christmas Eve!” The Winner will be announced on Saturday, December 5th. Thanks for stopping by!!!

You can contact Gayle at the links below:
Author Gayle C. Krause

Website – www.gaylckrause.com
Twitter @GeeCeeK
Blog – http://thestorytellersscroll.blogspot.com

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48. Coloring Page Tuesday - Scottish Cow

     And we're off - officially into the holiday season. But, moooo for the Holiday Season? One of my happy discoveries here in Scotland is Highland Cattle. I'm sure you've heard of Nessie, the Lochness Monster. Yes, she's everywhere here. But so is the Highland Cow. You can buy hats, sweaters, even ear muffs in the shape of the Highland Cow. So, it seems appropriate to celebrate the Highland Cow for Christmas! MOOO!
     CLICK HERE for more Christmas-themed coloring pages!
     CLICK HERE to sign up to receive alerts when a new coloring page is posted each week and... Please check out my books! Especially...
my debut novel, A BIRD ON WATER STREET - winner of six literary awards. Click the cover to learn more!
     When the birds return to Water Street, will anyone be left to hear them sing? A miner's strike allows green and growing things to return to the Red Hills, but that same strike may force residents to seek new homes and livelihoods elsewhere. Follow the story of Jack Hicks as he struggles to hold onto everything he loves most.
     I create my coloring pages for teachers, librarians, booksellers, and parents to enjoy for free with their children, but you can also purchase rights to an image for commercial use, please contact me. If you have questions about usage, please visit my Angel Policy page.

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49. confessions of an obsessive sketchbooker

It started with a girl on a train. I had to start it somewhere, so it started there.
Then I got into work and it grew (I still have to pinch myself that I go into work to draw).
I was trying to cover up the mess of the marker pens that had bled through the previous and following pages. I love marker pens, they are my new favourite thing. But they do not like sketchbooks. They do make a right old mess. Although I kind of like that. I like the challenge and, actually, you could look at it in a totally different way; the stains/mess give you something to work with.
Yeah. Plus, it really suits the way I like to create my sketchbook drawings these days. You see, this chaos and mess expresses much more about what goes on inside my head than any of my earlier 'perfect', serene, calm sketchbook drawings did. Sure, I get that I was looking for that at the time - a kind of peace - and that's what I was hoping to achieve from drawing, but, for along time I denied the mess. Not any more.
There are no rules to this kind of drawing. Nor rules or restrictions to making these kind of spreads. They're just a sprawling stream of things that are happening multiplied by a stream of consciousness. That, at this present moment in time, is my favourite way to create my sketchbooks. And, is the most interesting way too.
Okay, there's just one rule. Spotted it?
Yeah, never leave one millimetre of paper untouched!
There is still a little time to order from my shop for Christmas. Inspire someone you know, to draw their lives, with my zines or books. Or treat yourself. You can find my goodies, all created with love, HERE.

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50. Critiques 4 U


Courtesy: Pixabay

Happy December, everyone! November is such a crazy month for me, and this one was no different: my son’s 6th birthday (and party), my father-in-law’s birthday, Thanksgiving celebrations both at home and at school, decorating the house for Christmas. So many happy and exciting things, but I always breathe a sign of relief when November winds down and I can relax for a bit. And then December starts…

So before things get crazy again, I’m giving myself an early Christmas present and firing up our monthly critique contest. If you’re working on a first page and would like some objective feedback, please leave a comment that includes: 

1) your email address. Some of you have expressed concern about making your email address public; if you’re sure that the email address associated with your WordPress account is correct, you don’t have to include it here. But if you do win and I’m unable to contact you through that email address, I’ll have to choose an alternate winner.

2) your story’s genre (no erotica, please)


Three commenters’ names will be randomly drawn and posted tomorrow. If you win, you can email me your first page and I’ll offer my feedback. Best of luck!

The post Critiques 4 U appeared first on WRITERS HELPING WRITERS™.

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