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1. Apps for morning, noon, and night

Whether following friendly characters through a day of fun or settling users down for sweet dreams, these apps make perfect additions to preschoolers’ own busy days.

fiete day at the farmIn Fiete: A Day on the Farm, children help sailor Fiete and his farmer friends, Hein and Hinnerk, throughout their busy day. Users wake the snoring men in the quiet early morning, then assist them as they gather eggs, shear sheep, pick apples, milk a cow, and, finally, load each item into a delivery truck before settling in around a campfire. It’s all very low-key and low-stress; the sound effects are quiet nature noises, and background movement is generally of the gentle swaying-in-the-breeze variety. The visuals are all rounded shapes and subdued colors (until the glorious pink sunset). (Ahoiii, 3–6 years)

goldilocks and little bearGoldilocks and Little Bear gives Little Bear a plot of his own, parallel to Goldilocks’s: he wanders off and finds himself at Goldilocks’s house, where he samples her family’s pancakes, wardrobes, and reading material. Hold the device one way for a scene in Goldilocks’s tale, then flip it upside down for a complementary scene in Little Bear’s. The stories converge when Goldilocks and Little Bear, fleeing each other’s parents, run smack into each other and strike up a friendship. Engaging narration, dialogue by child voice actors, plenty of visual and textual humor, and upbeat music round out the app. (Nosy Crow, 3–6 years)

sago mini fairy talesSago Mini Fairy Tales invites users to guide a fairy-winged kitty horizontally and vertically through a nighttime fairyland scene, discovering fairy-tale and folklore–related surprises along the way. These interactive moments occasionally mash up fairy-tale tropes, with very funny results (e.g., an ogre tries on Cinderella’s glass slipper). While full of preschool-perfect humor, this not-too-rambunctious app is a great choice for bedtime: the landscape is all purples, blues, and greens, and the screen dims a bit at the edges; subtle cricket chirping provides the background sound. (Sago Mini, 3–6 years)

steam train dream trainSherri Duskey Rinker and Tom Lichtenheld, of Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site fame, chug along with the digital book app edition of their goodnight-train picture book Steam Train, Dream Train. Just as with the Construction Site digital book app, this one includes soothing narration that can be turned on or off; you can also record your own. There’s some dynamic motion and zooming in and out of the scenes, but it’s all fairly subdued, as befitting a bedtime book for lovers of: trains, monkeys, other zoo animals, dinosaurs, ice cream, hula hoops, balls, and most other kid-friendly items. (Oceanhouse Media, 3–6 years)

The post Apps for morning, noon, and night appeared first on The Horn Book.

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2. Bloom — And a Visit with David Small

“Once upon a time, in a beautiful glass kingdom,there lived an unusual fairy named Bloom. …”(Click to enlarge and see spread in its entirety)   Over at BookPage, I’ve got a review here of Doreen Cronin’s Bloom, illustrated by David Small (Caitlyn Dlouhy/Atheneum, February 2016). As a follow-up to that, David is sharing today some […]

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3. Not your average problem novel

Facing illness, sexuality, family issues, and life-and-death situations, the following teen protagonists maturely and deeply explore the world around them while also looking within themselves.

downham_unbecomingUntil the hospital called, asking her mother to pick up elderly Mary, seventeen-year-old Katie — star of Jenny Downham’s Unbecoming — didn’t even know she had a grandmother. Katie, her brother, and their mum bring home Mary, who is suffering from dementia. As Katie learns more about her grandmother’s and mother’s pasts, she struggles with her own secret: she is pretty certain she is gay. Told from a limited third-person perspective, the book offers implicit commentary on the historical and contemporary constraints on young women’s lives and their freedom to love freely. (Scholastic/Fickling, 14 years and up)

mcgovern_rules for 50-50 chancesIn Kate McGovern’s Rules for 50/50 Chances, Rose’s mom has advanced Huntington’s disease and Caleb’s mom and little sisters have sickle cell disease. The teens meet at the annual Walk for Rare Genes fundraiser, and their immediate attraction soon develops into something more meaningful. Rose spends much of the novel locked in indecision about whether or not to be tested for the Huntington’s gene, and what the results will mean for her future plans: college, a dance career, a relationship with Caleb. Rose’s realistically confused and complex anger and grief about her mother’s decline adds poignancy to the teen’s dilemma. (Farrar, 14 years and up)

kain_instructions for the end of the worldIn Instructions for the End of the World by Jamie Kain, Nicole’s father is a survivalist who believes wilderness skills are the surest protection from a dangerous world. When Dad decides to leave the grid altogether, moving the family to a ramshackle forest homestead, Mom balks and runs off. Dad goes after her, leaving Nicole and her younger sister, Izzy, behind. Nicole worries about Izzy’s involvement with teens living at a nearby commune; at the same time a brooding resident there named Wolf stirs up her own rebellious yearnings. Most chapters feature multiple narrators (Nicole, Izzy, Wolf, and others), but Nicole’s voice provides a steady through line to follow her genuine and compelling struggle. (St. Martin’s Griffin, 14 years and up)

hitchcock_smell of other people's housesSensory details (especially scents) evoke the physical and emotional landscape — 1970s Birch Park, Alaska — in Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock’s The Smell of Other People’s Houses. Four distinct first-person narrative voices breathe life into the adolescent protagonists. Escaping her alcoholic father’s abuse, Dora finds a welcome haven in Dumpling’s family’s fish camp. A few stolen nights with handsome Ray Stevens leaves sixteen-year-old Ruth pregnant and alone. The characters’ engaging individual stories, thematically linked by loss and yearning, are enriched by the tales’ intersections, and are grounded in emotional honesty. (Random/Lamb, 14 years and up)

From the February 2016 issue of Notes from the Horn Book.

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4. Of magic and moxie

These books take place in fantastical worlds, but the protagonists’ pluck may feel familiar to many intermediate and middle-school readers.

anderson_my diary from the edge of the worldTwelve-year-old Gracie Lockwood, the high-spirited heroine of Jodi Lynn Anderson‘s My Diary from the Edge of the World, lives in a world that’s like ours but with a few key differences (involving dragons and poltergeists, for example). When an ominous Dark Cloud seems to portend her brother’s death, Gracie, her family, and a classmate set off on a cross-country Winnebago trip in search of a guardian angel and a ship that will help them escape. Anderson lets the intricate details of Gracie’s world emerge gradually through her protagonist’s sharp, sometimes humorous, sometimes poignant diary entries. (Simon/Aladdin, 9–12 years)

nesbet_wrinkled crownIn the village in Anne Nesbet’s The Wrinkled Crown, girls mustn’t touch the traditional stringed instrument, the lourka, before they’re twelve for fear of death. Linny, full of “music fire,” has secretly built a lourka and expects to die, but instead, it’s her friend Sayra who begins to fade into the unreachable realm called Away. Nesbet’s fable explores the relationship of science, logic, and imagination; a cozy, personable narrative voice punctuates the drama with light humor. (HarperCollins/Harper, 9–12 years)

jinks_last boglerIn Catherine Jinks’s The Last Bogler, bogling is now respectable, and Ned Roach has signed on as Alfred Bunce’s apprentice. Ned must lure child-eating bogles with song so Alfred can dispatch them—and that’s only one of the dangers, for Alfred has drawn the attention of London’s criminal underworld. Fans of How to Catch a Bogle and A Plague of Bogles will appreciate Jinks’s accessible prose, colorful with Victorian slang; her inventive, briskly paced plot; and the gloom and charm of this trilogy-ender’s quasi-Victorian setting. (Houghton, 9–12 years)

deutsch_hereville how mirka caught a fishMirka, star of Barry Deutsch‘s humorous, fantastical, Orthodox-Jewish-themed Hereville graphic novel series is back in Hereville: How Mirka Caught a Fish. Her stepmother, Fruma, warns her to stay out of the woods while babysitting her half-sister Layele; so of course, curious Mirka drags Layele right in there with her. The girls encounter a wishing fish who once lost a battle of wits with a young Fruma and who now has a wicked plan to gain power through Layele. Expressive, often amusing comic-style illustrations do much to convey each scene’s tone and highlight important characters and objects. The eventual solution requires verbal gymnastics as much as heroics and compassion from Mirka. (Abrams/Amulet, 9–14 years)

From the February 2016 issue of Notes from the Horn Book.

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5. Winning sports picture books

Cheating marathoners; a trailblazing sports reporter; a girl shortstop; and an illegal integrated b-ball game. Here are some nonfiction sports picture books that capture the dramatic action both on and off the track/field/court.

mccarthy_wildest race everMeghan McCarthy’s The Wildest Race Ever: The Story of the 1904 Olympic Marathon describes America’s first Olympic marathon, which took place in St. Louis during the World’s Fair. It was a zany one, with cheating runners (one caught a ride in a car), contaminated water, pilfered peaches, and strychnine poisoning. McCarthy’s chatty text focuses on a few of the frontrunners and other colorful characters, shown in her recognizable cartoonlike acrylic illustrations. A well-paced — and winning — nonfiction picture book. (Simon/Wiseman, 5–8 years)

vernick_kid from diamond streetEdith Houghton was “magic on the field,” a baseball legend of the 1920s. Playing starting shortstop for the all-women’s professional team the Philadelphia Bobbies, she drew fans to the ballpark with her impressive talent. Besides that, Edith — “The Kid” — was just ten years old. The Kid from Diamond Street: The Extraordinary Story of Baseball Legend Edith Houghton by Audrey Vernick relates, in conversational text, Houghton’s life on the team. Appealing digitally colored charcoal, ink, and gouache illustrations by Steven Salerno evoke a bygone era of baseball. (Clarion, 5–8 years)

macy_miss mary reporting“It seemed that Mary was born loving sports,” writes Sue Macy in her affectionate portrait of a pioneering journalist, Miss Mary Reporting: The True Story of Sportswriter Mary Garber. It was during WWII that Garber “got her big break” running the sports page of Winston-Salem’s Twin City Sentinel while the (male) sportswriters were fighting in the war. For much of the next six decades, she worked in sports reporting, blazing trails for female journalists. Macy’s succinct text is informative and engaging, her regard for her subject obvious. C. F. Payne’s soft, sepia-toned, mixed-media illustrations — part Norman Rockwell, part caricature — provide the right touch of nostalgia. (Simon/Wiseman, 5–8 years)

coy_game changerJohn Coy’s Game Changer: John McLendon and the Secret Game (based on a 1996 New York Times article by Scott Ellsworth) tells the dramatic story of an illegal college basketball game planned and played in secret in Jim Crow–era North Carolina. On a Sunday morning in 1944, the (white) members of the Duke University Medical School basketball team (considered “the best in the state”) slipped into the gym at the North Carolina College of Negroes to play the Eagles, a close-to-undefeated black team coached by future Hall of Famer John McClendon. Coy’s succinct narrative is well paced, compelling, and multilayered, focusing on the remarkable game but also placing it in societal and historical context. Illustrations by Randy DuBurke nicely capture the story’s atmosphere and its basketball action. (Carolrhoda, 6–9 years)

From the February 2016 issue of Notes from the Horn Book.

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6. Cover Unveiled for New Arthur A. Levine Picture Book


The cover has been revealed for Arthur A. Levine’s forthcoming picture book, What a Beautiful Morning. We’ve embedded the full image for the jacket design above—what do you think?

According to School Library Journal, Katie Kath served as the illustrator for this project. Running Press Kids has scheduled the publication date for August 9.

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7. Tablets Help Struggling Readers Gain Confidence

Earlier this school year Sharlene Scott, an Alternative Language Arts teacher in Gardena, California, brought two brand-new tablets into class for her students to explore. She was able to purchase them on the First Book Marketplace thanks to a partnership with Blackboard, Inc.

Sharlene loaded the tablets with several apps and learning games that her students can use when struggling with phonics. From the tablet, students could access a website integrates with their reading program, focusing on reading comprehension.

The results have been wonderful.

group of school kids with tablet pc in classroom“The kids feel more confident when using apps that teach sight words and reading skills,” says Sharlene.  “The apps allow them to work at their own pace. They get really engaged in what they are reading or working on.”

For her students with learning disabilities, having access to tablets gives them extra help by providing dictionary website to quickly look up words, alleviating the frustration they can feel from having to look through the pages of typical dictionaries. They are more confident and their ability to complete their work has improved.

Most of her students do not have tablets or computers at home. Those that do have no internet access or tell her the computers are very outdated. She’s finding that some of her students are discovering new talents after accessing new technology.

“I have one student who has a really negative disposition towards school and learning. He gets frustrated easily,” explains Sharlene. “However, he loves to work with tablets. He has a real aptitude for them and has intuitively figured out how to use them, even with his limited reading skills. It’s made a big difference.”

The post Tablets Help Struggling Readers Gain Confidence appeared first on First Book Blog.

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8. Marie Ferrarella Lands 12-Book Deal With Harlequin

harlequin304Marie Ferrarella has signed a six-figure deal with Harlequin. She plans to write twelve novels.

Patience Bloom, a senior editor, managed this acquisition project. She will edit all of Ferrarella’s manuscripts.

Here’s more from the press release: “Ferrarella will craft two contemporary romance series for Harlequin—Matchmaking Mamas for Harlequin Special Edition and Cavanaugh Justice for Harlequin Romantic Suspense. The first title in the deal, The Case of the Stolen Heart follows a widow who finds a second chance at love with a police officer who was present at her late husband’s crime scene. The Case of the Stolen Heart is set to be published in Fall 2016.”

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9. Bryan Singer to Direct a 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea Movie

20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (GalleyCat)Bryan Singer will direct a new 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea movie. The filmmaker has become well-known for his work on four X-Men films: X-Men, X-Men 2, X-Men: Days of Future Past, and X-Men: Apocalypse.

Here’s more from Deadline: “The adaptation of the Jules Verne novel has a script by Rick Sordelet and Dan Studney, based on a story by Singer and those writers. Singer will produce with Jason Taylor, who heads the director’s Bad Hat Harry Productions.”

According to Variety, Singer posted a photo of the script on his Instagram page. He revealed that he has aspired to shoot a movie based on Verne’s science-fiction book since childhood. Click here to download a digital copy of 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea. (via io9)

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10. Chapter Endings

We all know how it's nice to have a cliffhanger at chapter's end, but how do you go about doing that?


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11. Filmmaker Creates a Donald Trump-Themed Picture Book

Can you imagine Donald Trump, a reality TV star and Republican presidential candidate, as a character in a children’s book? Guy Larsen, a filmmaker, decided to write one called Donald Trump and the Wig of Evil.

Larsen wrote a post about his picture book on Bored Panda and warned that it may be considered “a little NSFW” (Not Safe For Work). The video embedded above features his narration of his book.

Click here to visit Larsen’s Tumblr page and check out the full text and all the illustrations of the book. For more parody humor, follow these links to watch the “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Trump” video and a clip from the Jimmy Kimmel Live! show. (via The Huffington Post)

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12. Grandma Groom’s caramel fudge icing always goes on a bit...

Grandma Groom’s caramel fudge icing always goes on a bit craggy, but, man, is it yummy. #dons birthday

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13. stand up for libraries: free posters!

We need our libraries! Here's what a bunch of us writers and illustrators have been up to today in Westminster, with lots of people who work for and care deeply about keeping these national treasures alive and vibrant parts of our communities!

Lots of people have asked if I'd make downloadable and printable versions of this year's library poster, so here they are! Feel free to use them in any non-commercial way that promotes libraries. (And I'd appreciate a credit, just because I'm an illustrator and you should always credit illustrators.) :)

If you get a chance, I'd love it if you'd leave a note in the comments, saying where you are, and if you're using it in any particular library. Here's a link to my previous poster, A Trained Librarian is a Powerful Search Engine with a Heart.

Download the A3 version here

Download the A4 version here

Download the 8.5 x 11 version here (USA)

Download square version (A4 or resize)

This morning, it was so great to bump into George, one of our champion #ShapeChallenge drawing people, who set one of our shapes the weekend before last! He managed to get special permission from school to come along as a reporter, and give a talk on it when he goes back to school.

And George gave a speech, along with author Eve Ainsworth! Great job, guys!

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14. Jason Bourne First Look Video Unleashed

Universal Pictures unveiled a first look video for the Jason Bourne movie during the Super Bowl. The video embedded above offers glimpses of Matt Damon taking on the the titular role.

According to Variety, other members of the cast include Julia Stiles, Alicia Vikander, and Tommy Lee Jones. The story for this film adaptation comes from the thriller book series written by Robert Ludlum and Eric Van Lustbader.

USA Today reports that Paul Greengrass served as the director for this adaptation project. The theatrical release date has been scheduled for July 29. (via The A.V. Club)

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15. Spotlight on Burning Midnight by Will McIntosh, Plus Giveaway!

  Today, we're spotlighting Burning Midnight! This new book is a contemporary thriller sure to keep you hooked all the way through. Read on for a guest post by Will McIntosh himself, and a chance to enter the giveaway!    But first, meet Will McIntosh!  WILL McINTOSH is the author of several adult speculative...

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16. Lisa Charleyboy on Winning the American Indian Library Association's 2016 Middle Grade Honor Award for DREAMING IN INDIAN

I'm pleased to share Lisa Charleyboy's response to the news that Dreaming in Indian was named as the American Indian Library Association's 2016 Honor Book in the Middle Grade category: 

I am truly honoured to have 'Dreaming in Indian' recognized in the Middle School Category in the 2016 American Indian Youth Literature Awards. It has been an absolute dream for me to have worked with my co-editor Mary Beth Leatherdale in creating this anthology so that more youth across Turtle Island would be able to learn about the Indigenous experience.
It was truly our goal to use this book to enlighten and empower and being recognized in prestigious awards such as this allows the book to reach more people which is truly a blessing! 

Do take time to watch this video. In it, Lisa and her co-editor, Mary Beth Leatherdale, talk about the ideas, development, and reception to their book. In personal conversations with librarians, I can say that it is a big hit in their libraries.

Dreaming in Indian was reviewed on AICL on September 8 of 2014. Click on over to the review to get a peek of what is inside this terrific book. Congratulations, Lisa and Mary Beth! This book is a feast.

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17. Happy Year of the Monkey!

We’re a day late (blame atrocious Boston weather) but we’re wishing a happy Year of the Monkey to all who celebrate Lunar New Year! Eat some dumplings and share a book from this list of titles featuring the holiday, all recommended by The Horn Book Magazine and The Horn Book Guide.

Picture books

compestine_runaway wokSet in long-ago China, Ying Chang Compestine’s The Runaway Wok tells of Ming Zhang and his poor but deserving family. On New Year’s Eve, Ming buys a magical wok, which promptly sets out to transfer riches from the greedy Li family to the Zhangs, who share it with others. The detailed, vigorous illustrations by Sebastià Serra reflect the mischievous wok’s energy. A recipe and Chinese New Year festival facts are appended. (Dutton, 2011)

compestine_crouching tigerAlso by Ying Chang Compestine, Crouching Tiger stars Vinson, whose grandfather, visiting from China, calls him by his Chinese name, Ming Da. Grandpa teaches his impatient grandson the slow, careful exercises of tai chi, and eventually he and Ming Da play a pivotal role in the Chinese New Year parade. Yan Nascimbene’s realistic, luminous watercolor illustrations show the family’s balance of the traditional and the modern. (Candlewick, 2011)

li-qiong_new year's reunionIn Yu Li-Qiong’s A New Year’s Reunion, Little Maomao and her mother prepare both for Chinese New Year and for her father’s annual return home (he works far away). Zhu Cheng-Liang’s harmonious gouache paintings use lots of red and bright colors. This award-winning import is an excellent introduction to Chinese New Year in China and a poignant, thoughtful examination of the joys and sorrows of families living apart. (Candlewick, 2011)

T175 SC AW AW-1In Bringing in the New Year by author/illustrator Grace Lin, a Chinese American girl describes her  family’s preparations for the Lunar New Year. Her impatience for the big moment moves the story along until the dragon dance, depicted on a long foldout page, finally ushers in the new year. Illustrations featuring Lin’s signature clean, bright gouache patterns accompany the tale. An appended spread supplies additional information about the holiday. A board book edition was published in December 2013. (Knopf, 2008)

shea_ten mice for tetCounting book Ten Mice for Tet by Pegi Deitz Shea and Cynthia Weill offers a simple description of the activities surrounding the celebration of Tet, the Vietnamese lunar new year (“1 mouse plans a party / 2 mice go to market”). A section at the back provides facts about the holiday and explains the importance of the details in Tô Ngọc Trang and Phạm Viết Ðinh’s vibrantly colored embroidered art. This playful look at a cultural tradition can be used with a wide age range. (Chronicle, 2003)

wade_no year of the catMary Dodson Wade’s humorous folktale adaptation No Year of the Cat explains why the Chinese calendar uses specific animal names for the twelve years. The emperor, bemoaning that “we cannot recall the years,” devises a race — the first twelve animals to finish will have a year named after them. Both text and the ornate illustrations by Nicole Wong give personalities to each of the animals, the emperor, and his devoted advisors. (Sleeping Bear, 2012)

wang_race for the chinese zodiac2In The Race for the Chinese Zodiac by Gabrielle Wang, the ancient Jade Emperor tells thirteen animals that they will race; the “first twelve animals to cross the river” will have a year named after them. The animals line up and, each in its own unique fashion, cross the river. Sally Rippin’s Chinese-ink, linocut, and digital-media illustrations are exuberant and fluid, evoking mood and furthering the whimsical tone of this retelling. (Candlewick, 2013)

wong_this next new yearIn Janet S. Wong’s This Next New Year, a spare narrative enhanced by Yangsook Choi’s festive, richly colored illustrations relates a Chinese-Korean boy’s reflection on what Chinese New Year means to him. By sweeping last year’s mistakes and bad luck out of the house, he hopes to make room for “a fresh start, my second chance.” Concepts of renewal, starting over, and luck will resonate with young readers in this imaginative appreciation of the emotional aspects of the holiday. (Farrar/Foster, 2000)

yim_goldy luck and the three pandas2Natasha Yim’s entertaining Goldilocks takeoff Goldy Luck and the Three Pandas is set during the Chinese New Year celebration, when Goldy Luck takes a gift to her panda neighbors. Familiar incidents follow — featuring (rice) porridge, a broken chair, and a nap — all portrayed with zest in the illustrations by Grace Zong. In an ending that suits the setting, Goldy has second thoughts and returns to apologize. New Year facts and a turnip cake recipe are included. (Charlesbridge, 2014)


Intermediate fiction

lin_year of the dogFor Taiwanese-American Pacy, sorting out her ethnic identity is important, and she wonders what she should be when she grows up. Writing and illustrating a book for a national contest makes her think that perhaps she can become an author of a “real Chinese person book.” In The Year of the Dog, author/illustrator Grace Lin offers both authentic Taiwanese-American and universal childhood experiences, told from a genuine child perspective. (Little, Brown, 2006)

lin_year of the ratSequel The Year of the Rat brings major change for Pacy, as her best friend moves away. Pacy also starts doubting her resolution to become a writer/illustrator. Lin deftly handles Pacy’s dilemmas and internal struggles with sensitivity and tenderness, keeping a hopeful and childlike tone that will inspire empathy. Appealing line drawings appear throughout. (Little, Brown, 2008)

yep_star makerArtie brags to his tough cousin Petey about providing all the fireworks for Chinese New Year in The Star Maker. With time running out before the celebration, Artie’s uncle Chester makes a gracious sacrifice to help his nephew save face. The easy-to-follow story introduces readers to Chinese New Year traditions. Author Laurence Yep’s preface explains that the 1950s-set tale is based on his own childhood memories. (HarperCollins/Harper, 2011)




compestine_d is for dragon danceIn Ying Chang Compestine’s alphabet book D Is for Dragon Dance, each letter is accompanied by one or two sentences very briefly introducing an aspect of the Chinese New Year celebration — I for incense, J for jade, K for kites. Chinese characters in various calligraphy styles make an eye-catching background for the attractive textured illustrations by YongSheng Xuan. An author’s note offers a few more facts as well as a dumpling recipe. (Holiday, 2006)

otto_celebrate chinese new yearWith colorful photographs and simple, informative text, Celebrate Chinese New Year by Carolyn Otto details the traditions and rituals of Chinese New Year, including travel, family, gifts, plentiful food, and decorations. The use of “we” throughout feels welcoming and inclusive. Appended are instructions for making a Chinese lantern, a recipe for fortune cookies, and information on the Chinese calendar. (National Geographic, 2008)

simonds_moonbeams dumplings & dragon boatsA suitable addition to any multicultural holiday collection, Nina Simonds and Leslie Swartz’s collection Moonbeams, Dumplings and Dragon Boats: A Treasury of Chinese Holiday Tales, Activities and Recipes includes folktales, recipes, and activities for celebrating Chinese New Year and the Lantern Festival, Qing Ming and the Cold Foods Festival, the Dragon Boat Festival, and the Mid-Autumn Moon Festival. Accompanying the stories and activities are Meilo So’s stylized watercolors, some of which evoke the brushwork of Chinese calligraphy. (Harcourt/Gulliver, 2002)

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18. Cinesite’s New Montreal Mega-Animation Studio Will Employ 500 and Produce 9 Features, Including ‘Klaus’

The studio's first project will be "Klaus" directed by Sergio Pablos.

The post Cinesite’s New Montreal Mega-Animation Studio Will Employ 500 and Produce 9 Features, Including ‘Klaus’ appeared first on Cartoon Brew.

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19. Multicultural Children's Book Day--Featured Book Review--Hatshepsut of Egypt

Today we're sharing our book review of The Thinking Girl's Treasury of Real Princesses: Hatshepsut of Egypt! As part of Multicultural Children's Book Day, we were given the opportunity to read this fantastic book. Read on to find our review and more about Multicultural Children's Book Day!   The Mission: The...

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20. Verdi’s Nabucco at the Lyric Opera



Photo by: Ariel Uribe for the Chicago Maroon.

Full of “blood and thunder“—words for the Lyric Opera of Chicago’s staging of Giuseppe Verdi’s Nabucco, an amalgamation of quasi-stories from the Book of Jeremiah and the Book of Daniel coalesced around a love triangle, here revived for the first time since 1998. On the heels of its opening—the full run is from January 23 to February 12—UCP hosted a talk and dinner featuring a lecture “Nabucco and the Verdi Edition” by Francesco Ives. That Verdi Edition, The Works of Giuseppe Verdi, is the most comprehensive critical edition of the composer’s works. In addition to publishing its many volumes, the University of Chicago Press also hosts a website devoted to all aspects of the project, which you can visit here; to do justice to the scope and necessity of the Verdi Edition, here’s an excerpt from “Why a Critical Edition?” on that same site:

The need for a new edition of Verdi’s works is intimately tied to the history of earlier publications of the operas and other compositions. When Verdi completed the autograph orchestral manuscript of an opera, manuscript copies were made by the theater that commissioned the work or by his publisher (usually Casa Ricordi). These copies were used in performance, and most of the autograph scores became part of the Ricordi archives. Copies of the copies were made, and orchestral materials were extracted for performances. With the possible exception of his last operas, Otello and Falstaff, Verdi played no part whatever in preparing the printed scores: almost all printed editions of his works were prepared by Ricordi after Verdi’s death in 1901.

Predictably, these copying and printing practices have yielded vocal and orchestral parts that differ drastically from the autograph scores. Indeed, the problem of operas performed using unreliable parts and scores dates to Verdi’s own lifetime. After the premieres of Rigoletto, Il trovatore, and La traviata, for example, Verdi wrote to Ricordi on 24 October 1855: “I complain bitterly of the editions of my last operas, made with such little care, and filled with an infinite number of errors.”

Copyists and musicians who prepared these errant printed editions were not consciously falsifying Verdi’s text. They merely glossed over particularities of Verdi’s notation (e.g., the simultaneous use of different dynamic levels—“p” and “pp”, for instance) and altered details of his orchestration, which differed considerably from the style of Puccini, whose music dominated Italian opera when the printed editions of Verdi’s works were prepared. These editions, which in certain details drastically compromise the composer’s original text, are the scores that are used today, except where the critical edition has made reliable scores available.

The critical edition of the complete works of Verdi undertaken jointly by the University of Chicago Press and Casa Ricordi is finally correcting this situation.

To read more about The Works of Giuseppe Verdi, click here.

To visit the project’s website, click here.

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21. Books mentioned in the February 2016 issue of Notes from the Horn Book

Five questions for Tanita Davis
Peas and Carrots by Tanita S. Davis, Knopf, 13–16 years.
Mare’s War by Tanita S. Davis, Knopf, 13–16 years.

Not your average problem novel
Unbecoming by Jenny Downham, Scholastic, 14 years and up.
Rules for 50/50 Chances by Kate McGovern, Farrar, 14 years and up.
The Smell of Other People’s Houses by Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock, Random/Lamb, 14 years and up.
Instructions for the End of the World by Jamie Kain, St. Martin’s Griffin, 14 years and up.

Apps for morning, noon, and night
Fiete: A Day on the Farm, Ahoiii, 3–6 years.
Goldilocks and Little Bear, Nosy Crow, 3–6 years.Sago Mini Fairy Tales, Sago Mini, 3–6 years.
Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site by Sherri Duskey Rinker, illus. by Tom Lichtenheld, Oceanhouse Media, 3–6 years.
Steam Train, Dream Train by Sherri Duskey Rinker, illus. by Tom Lichtenheld, Oceanhouse Media, 3–6 years.

Winning sports picture books
The Wildest Race Ever: The Story of the 1904 Olympic Marathon by Megan McCarthy, Simon/Wiseman, 5–8 years.
The Kid from Diamond Street: The Extraordinary Story of Baseball Legend Edith Houghton written by Audrey Vernick, illus. by Steven Salerno, Clarion, 5–8 years.
Miss Mary Reporting: The True Story of Sportswriter Mary Garber written by Sue Macy, illus. by C. F. Payne, Simon/Wiseman, 5–8 years.
Game Changer: John McLendon and the Secret Game written by John Coy, illus. by Randy DuBurke, Carolrhoda, 6–9 years.

Of magic and mettle
My Diary from the Edge of the World by Jodi Lynn Anderson, Simon/Aladdin, 9–12 years.
The Wrinkled Crown by Anne Nesbet, HarperCollins/Harper, 9–12 years.
The Last Bogler written by Catherine Jinks, illus. by Sarah Watts, Houghton, 9–12 years.
Hereville: How Mirka Caught a Fish by Barry Deutsch, Abrams/Amulet, 9–14 years.

These titles were featured in the February 2016 issue of Notes from the Horn Book.

The post Books mentioned in the February 2016 issue of Notes from the Horn Book appeared first on The Horn Book.

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23. SCBWI Bologna 2016 Author-Illustrator Interview: Doug Cushman

Doug Cushman
By Elisabeth Norton
for SCBWI Bologna 2016
and Cynthia Leitich Smith's Cynsations

Since 1978, Doug Cushman has illustrated over 130 children's books, 30 or so of which he wrote as well. 

Among his many honors, he has gained a place on the New York Times Children’s Best Sellers list and on the 2003 Children’s Literature Choice list.

The first book of his popular beginning reader series featuring Aunt Eater (HarperCollins, 1987) was a Reading Rainbow Book. 

He has received a National Cartoonist’s Society Reuben Award for Book Illustration, the 2004 Christopher Award for his book illustrations, a 2007 and 2010 Maryland Blue Crab Award and the 2009 California Young Readers Medal.

He illustrated the best-selling “Can’t Do” series, including What Dads Can’t Do (2000) and What Moms Can’t Do (2001) for Simon and Schuster. 

His recent titles include Pumpkin Time! by Erzsi Deak (Sourcebooks, 2014), Halloween Good Night (Square Fish, 2015) and Christmas Eve Good Night (Henry Holt, 2011), which received a starred review from Kirkus. His first book of original poems, Pigmares (Charlesbridge, 2012), was published in 2012. 

He has displayed his original art in France, Romania and the USA, including the prestigious Original Art, the annual children’s book art show at the Society of Illustrators in New York City. 

He is fan of mystery novels and plays slide guitar horribly. He enjoys cooking, traveling, eating and absorbing French culture and good wine—even designing wine labels for a Burgundy wine maker—in his new home in St. Malo on the Brittany coast in France.

Welcome Doug! Thank you for taking the time to answer a few questions about illustration and the SCBWI Bologna Illustration Gallery (BIG) at the Bologna Children's Book Fair.

You have had a long career in the children's publishing industry, illustrating both your own stories, as well as the stories of other writers. Do you have a favorite medium for illustrating children's books?

I love watercolor with pen and ink. There is so much expression one can have using ink line with the occasional “happy accidents” in watercolor. Pretty much all my books have been rendered in those two mediums.

It was more controlled in the beginning, but I’m trying to loosen up now. For a couple books I did everything: writing, watercolor illustration and hand-lettering the display type and entire text including the copyright. I even simulated aged, yellowing, lined notepad paper with watercolor, hand drawing each blue line on every page of the book.

My philosophy is: do whatever it takes to make the book work.

Has that changed over the years?

Moving to Paris loosened me up a bit. A few years ago, I rendered three books in acrylic, something I’d wanted to do. I love the bright colors and thick brushstrokes. I even added some collaged elements as well.

But, for me, the medium I use depends on the story. The technique I use to illustrate a book must complement the heart and soul of the story. An illustrator should never force his style on a text.

I’ve discovered digital painting recently. There’s a lot one can do with it. I’m having a grand time playing with my Wacom tablet, but I believe my training as a traditional artist has held me in good stead. Knowing the craft of drawing and painting has always helped me out with a multitude of problems! Yet, the story always dictates how I approach the way I draw my pictures.

So it varies from project to project. What influences your choice of style and medium for a given project?

The story is always the first thing that defines my approach to a project, even when I’m the author. An illustrator must read what’s between the lines as well as what’s on the page. The author is telling a certain story, the illustrations must work in harmony with the text.

A good example is The Wind In the Willows by Kenneth Grahame (1908). The master draftsman Arthur Rackham illustrated one (1940) edition.

He's a brilliant illustrator, one of my favorites. But his style was so wrong for the atmospheric and slightly goofy story (Toad driving a car!). He was perfect for Grimm but not for the animal denizens living along side an easy, flowing river. E.H. Shepard’s illustrations are spot on.

What qualities do you think are important for an artist to have in order to be successful as children's book illustrator?

Patience! Flexibility and a thick skin are paramount as well. This is a tough business. So many books are being published every year. But there’s always room for someone with a different voice, a unique way to look at the world.

Be aware of the trends but never be a slave to them. Follow what interests you. It may take longer but in the long run your work will be more sincere and that will catch the attention of editors and art directors. Honesty always shines through.

As writers, we talk a lot about voice, both the voice of the character, as well as our own authorial voice. Do illustrators have a voice as well? What about individual projects, or even characters?

Absolutely, illustrators have a voice. Like writers, it’s the way we see life.

In my case, I see the silliness, the zaniness in the world and through my characters, both human and animal. I’ve been told that one of the qualities people like about my work is the expression on my characters.

That’s part of my voice, my way of interpreting a text and the world in general, that internal struggle, waiting to get out. It’s like being an actor; artists must get inside the skin of the characters they’re illustrating, feeling what they feel. But, as I said earlier, the voice of the illustrator shouldn’t interfere with the voice of the author. They need to play off of each other, work in tandem together.

As a judge for the BIG, what makes an illustration stand out to you?

The BIG is a show of illustration, not just an exhibition of pretty pictures. I’m looking for art that is not only drawn and painted well, wonderfully composed and executed, but also tells a story.

I confess that much of what I see in the grand Bologna Book Fair judged art shows are marvelous paintings but they don’t tell any stories. We’re talking about book illustration here, art that serves a purpose. In many ways it’s harder and a much higher calling than easel painting.

I want to see something that dives deep into a story and tells me something in a way I haven’t seen or thought of before.

Why do you think participation in illustration showcases such as BIG is important for illustrators?

Exposure is one factor. Getting noticed. Working for a specific purpose is important as well. I’ve submitted illustrations to many judged shows with very specific criteria; size restrictions, medium, subject matter, etc. I haven’t always been accepted, but in the process of working on these pieces, I’ve learned something and expanded my working methods.

In almost every, case these pieces have always been the most popular and the most “Wow!” paintings in my portfolio. Picasso said a studio should be a laboratory.

I think shows like BIG can be a way to experiment with new ideas and techniques. Who knows? You may stumble across a way of working that may change your artistic career.

You have been to the Bologna fair on several occasions. How has your experience of the fair changed over the years?

I’m not sure that my experience has changed that much. But that’s not to say I’m bored!

It’s always exciting to see what’s being published around the world. I expect to see new things and I’m rarely disappointed. Of course digital publishing has grown since I started going to the book fair so it’s much more influential.

Through the years I’ve met more editors, art directors and illustrators so I know more people and it’s always fun to renew old friendships. And, of course there are the restaurants that I go to on a regular basis.

Over the years I’ve become friends with one of the owners. Now, that's really exciting!

What are your "must-do's" when you are there?

It can be overwhelming for a first timer. My suggestion is to wander around and “absorb” what you see, not seeking out anything specific. Take notes, jot down what strikes you.

If you open yourself to everything, you’re guaranteed to see something you would have missed if you were focused on a certain goal. I love wandering the “foreign” stands (foreign to this American, at least). There is so much creativity happening all over the world. I confess, working mainly in the American market, it’s easy to become too provincial in my thinking.

Any first time fair attendee should see as many books in as many stands that are not her market. It’s a real inspiration.

Also, as a “must-do”, I try to make a trip to Florence, only 40 minutes away by train. It’s every artist’s heritage, birthplace of who we are. It’s a lovely town chockablock with history and art (with some nice markets and restaurants!) It’s well worth a day off from the fair or staying the extra day.

Celebrating the 25th Anniversary!
Will you be in Bologna in April?

Definitely plan to go. I missed it last year and feel the need to return.

Will you be participating in the ever-popular Dueling Illustrators event at the SCBWI booth?

Yes and it’s always great fun. In past years I was teamed up with Paul O. Zelinsky, which is always a great thrill, and honor.

Thank you Doug! I look forward to seeing you in Bologna in April.

Cynsational Notes

Elisabeth Norton grew up in Alaska, lived for many years and Texas, and after a brief sojourn in England, now lives with her family between the Alps and the Jura in Switzerland.

She writes for middle grade readers and serves as the Regional Advisor for the Swiss chapter of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators.

When not writing, she can be found walking the dogs, playing board games, and spending time with family and friends. Twitter: @fictionforge

The Bologna 2016 Interview series is coordinated by Angela Cerrito, SCBWI’s Assistant International Advisor and a Cynsational Reporter in Europe and beyond.

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24. kaylapocalypse: kaylapocalypse: Im like wheezing oh my god....


kaylapocalypse: Im like wheezing oh my god. This rather off center description of Lord Byron and his (temporary) physician is absolutely fantastically hilarious. Im so pleased. Definitely a worthwhile read.

How To Be A Monster: Life Lessons From Lord Byron 

Carrie Frye March 15, 2013

In 1816, a young doctor named John Polidori was offered the position as traveling physician to George Gordon, Lord Byron. 

Polidori was saturnine, caustic, ambitious, well-educated and handsome. He had graduated from medical school at 19 (as unusual then as now) and this offer came not a year later. Over the objections of his family, he accepted. Polidori had literary ambitions; here was an amazingly famous poet asking him to join him on a tour of the Continent.

 It must have felt like fate was tugging him along. In confirmation of how well things were going, a publisher offered him 500 pounds to keep a diary of his travels with the poet (500 pounds… in 1816).

It was spring. Byron was leaving England forever, a cloud of infamy hanging over him. (He is one of the few people you can write something like that about and have it be true; that is part of why he’s so satisfying.)

 He had a carriage made, modeled after Napoleon’s, this a measure of his own sense of emperor-like preeminence in the world. Byron was, even by the standards of the time, a chronic overpacker: china, books, clothing, bedding, pistols, a dog, the dog’s special mat, more books, a servant or two, and Polidori, buzzing like some excited insect, were all packed away. (One account has a peacock and a monkey making the trip too.) 

The carriage was so overloaded it kept breaking down. The doctor kept breaking down too, with spells of dizziness and fainting, and the patient had to look after him. They progressed this way through Belgium and then up the Rhine. When they reached their hotel in Geneva, Byron listed his age in the hotel registry as “100.”

If you have any interest in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein or vampires or Romantic poets or, who knows, Swiss tourism, you’ve most likely read Polidori’s name.

 He’s a curio, Polly Dolly, most notable not for what he wrote but for being nearby when other people wrote things. It’s a strange afterlife; to think you’ve landed a leading role, and then there you are, on stage, sure, and with big names too, but fixed to a mark far upstage and over to the left, near the wings, in the half-dark where the spotlight doesn’t quite reach. “Poor Polidori.” That’s how Mary Shelley referred to him, writing years later. And he was. Here is how he creeps into letters, like this one written by Byron: “Dr. Polidori is not here, but at Diodati, left behind in hospital with a sprained ankle, which he acquired in tumbling from a wall—he can’t jump.” 

It was John Polidori’s misfortune to be comic without having a sense of humor, to wish to be a great writer but to be a terrible one, to be unusually bright but surrounded for one summer by people who were titanically brighter, and to have just enough of an awareness of all of this to make him perpetually uneasy. Also, he couldn’t jump. Poor Polidori.

One short story he wrote, though, remains important, a vampire story that was read across Europe when it came out and led the way to Dracula. But even that story was not all Polidori’s own. In a nice bit of literary vampiricism, he fed off a sketch by Byron to write it and the story was first published under Byron’s name (hence all the attention it got), so he’s instructive, too, as a reminder of all that writers and vampires have in common…

Keep reading

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25. All the Pretty Princesses

Princesses everywhere.

I am not the most girly type of woman.   But even I wanted to be a princess when I was little.  I did not want to be an actual princess, who has to learn to be diplomatic, attend boring meetings, discuss policy with councilors, and put up with the attentions of not necessarily handsome princes.  I wanted to be a fairy tale princess - beautiful, cosseted, rich and talented.

So, to celebrate Princesses everywhere on this Carnival Tuesday, here is a list of my favorite princess books:

The Paper Bag Princess by Robert Munsch.  A dragon destroys everything - including a princess' wardrobe AND kidnaps a handsome prince.  Dressed in a paper bag, our princess hunts down the evil lizard. (Picture Book)

The Magic Fishbone by Charles Dickens.   Alicia manages the castle and the little princes and princesses quite well with just her cleverness.  The magic fishbone in her apron pocket must be saved for just the right wish. Happy ending, everyone!!! (Short story suitable for ages 4 through 10, and for adults who like Dickens)

Princess Academy by Shannon Hale.   Miri and the other girls in her mountain village must learn how to be princesses because one of them will marry the prince.  Also - bandits try to kidnap them and they have to protect themselves.  Bad guys; jealousy; mean teachers; resourcefulness! (Middle grade through teen)

Hmmm, there are many, many more princess books around then are dreamt of in your philosophies, dear Horatio.  But here is just one more.

I am going to add I am Princess X by Cherie Priest because the story is a bit incredible but the combination of graphics and text and the suspense, clues, and sleuthing add up to a roller coaster ride of a book. (Teen - action-adventure, violent crimes, risk taking)

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