I’ve opened up a store, and am selling note cards (1 sided, like a postcard) of my chicken breed images! I hope to be adding many more things to the store, but here we go!
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I’ve opened up a store, and am selling note cards (1 sided, like a postcard) of my chicken breed images! I hope to be adding many more things to the store, but here we go!
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...have been announced, and they are:
Charm & Strange, by Stephanie Kuehn
Sex & Violence, by Carrie Mesrobian
Dr. Bird’s Advice for Sad Poets, by Evan Roskos
Belle Epoque, by Elizabeth Ross
In the Shadow of Blackbirds, by Cat Winters
I've read Belle Epoque and In the Shadow of Blackbirds, but (surprise!) haven't written about either (that seems to be the Name of My Game this year, sigh).
Belle Epoque, I enjoyed very much—it's an atmospheric historical about the rather hideous practice of hiring "ugly" girls to stand around and make their patrons look more attractive by comparison. Blackbirds, though, I... just didn't get the hoopla. The book has a lovely design, and the story has lots of cool factors—it's set during the Spanish influenza pandemic, and deals with WWI, shell shock and Spiritualism—but the mystery wasn't remotely mysterious, and most of the character interactions just fell flat for me. But maybe I read it on an off day.
Anyway! I shall have to read the other three!Add a Comment
The creative minds in Memphis took advantage of one of the most teen popular book collections to create a fundraising event so good we had to share it!
First Book supporters in Memphis recently held a fundraiser at the Autozone Challenge Center, located within the Salvation Army Kroc Center, to help put new books in the hands of children in need. Teams competed in a series of mental and physical challenges in theme of the ‘Hunger Games’ books.
“This event challenged students intellectually and physically, and gave them a fun opportunity to give back to their community,” said Lolly Easley. “We chose the theme because the ‘Hunger Games’ trilogy is a favorite series for the younger generation. Teens celebrated their love of this series, while helping children in need and supporting literacy in Memphis.”
The event raised $1205, enough money to purchase over 480 new books for Memphis area children who need them.Add a Comment
My library is offering its first Winter Reading Club for teens and kids this winter! We borrowed heavily from Angie Manfredi’s Winter Reading program at the Los Alamos County Library System and we’re really excited to try it out!
For us, Winter Reading differs significantly from the Summer Reading Club because, where in summer we’re truly trying to REACH ALL THE CHILDREN! and GET EVERYONE TO READ!, in winter our goal is to get people to visit the library and discover the resources we have for them here. In summer, we’re trying to help bridge that gap and help kids keep up their reading skills. In winter, they’ll be in school most of the time our program is going on, so we’re trying to give them something interesting to do during those cold winter months, and we’re inviting them to explore their library.
What we really liked about the program Angie developed is that it helps us showcase some of the wonderful books that patrons may not know we have. Picture book biographies! Award winners! And on each BINGO card, they can fill a square by getting a suggestion from a librarian (come use us for reader’s advisory!).
We are really keeping it simple this first year. Kids get a BINGO sheet (like in Angie’s program – really, go check it out). For their first BINGO, they get their choice of scratch and sniff bookmark (we have candy canes, popcorn, and cookies) and they get to put their name on a mitten and add it to our bulletin board. If they want to keep going, they can earn another bookmark by filling in all the squares. Kids and teens can also earn “fine bucks” for participating in the Winter Reading Club so they can unblock cards if they’ve not been able to use them because of fines.
I really want to emphasize to families that the actual “prize” is having something to do and getting to know your library. We’ll see how it goes. If we feel that we need to add additional incentives next year, we can. Our teen program (developed by our teen librarian) is also a BINGO sheet, but has some additional prize drawings to help get those busy teens in the door.
To help folks find some of the categories on our BINGO sheet, we’ve created some displays like the shelves under our bulletin board, which feature Coretta Scott King winners and honor books and Pura Belpré winners and honor books.
Do you offer a Winter Reading Club? Any tips for this Winter Reading newbie?
– Abby Johnson, Children’s Manager
New Albany-Floyd County Public Library
New Albany, IN
This video is about a specific situation in Toronto, but much of what it says could be applied to pretty much any other public library, anywhere:
(via Book Patrol)Add a Comment
I wouldn't call this one a milestone, but my daughter and I came up with a little literacy-themed game earlier this week. I was working on the computer in my office. My daughter came in, climbed up into my lap, and asked if she could "use the letters" on the computer. So I opened up a notepad application, and she started typing words.
She would suggest a word (generally the name of someone important in her life), I would tell her how to spell it, and she would find and press each letter on the keyboard. She was able to type "Mom" (see previous post) and her own name without any spelling help, though she required a bit of help in finding the letters. Where possible, I would sound out the word, and let her figure out what the corresponding letter. Had it not been bath time, I think that this game could have continued for quite some time.
So we have:
Item #3 is extra-challenging on my computer, because some of the letters have been worn off due to repeated use (the "n" is completely gone, presumably because I have several in my name).
It's not that I'm eager to have my child spending more time on electronic devices. But it does please me that she enjoys making words, whatever the format. And the seek/find/remember aspects of doing this on the keyboard are a learning bonus. I won't be pushing this activity, but I will be receptive to it when she asks for it. Because really, work can usually wait a few more minutes...
Aunt Anna’s Anise Cookies
I made anise cookies last night. I made them to share at my Illustrator monthly meeting’s holiday cookie exchange extravaganza today.
I chose to make anise cookies and this sketch (from last year), in memory of my sweet Aunt Anna who passed away last year, at this time and who’s recipe this is.
It was passed down to her from her mother-in-law of German decent. So they’ve been a family tradition for ions and my family became part of that tradition somewhere in the 50′s, I believe.
I suppose they are an acquired taste, what with that licorice taste from the anise and all. In fact my husband and niece both called them poison cookies until those lovely, seductive, little holiday shaped biscuits finally grew on them. But to say my family loves them is an understatement and now they’ve become an even more important part of our holiday tradition.
Anna’s anise cookies.
Aunt Anna’s anise cookies.
Thank you auntie, for being such a wonderful, loving person, my godmother and for leaving us with such a lovely, sweet tasting tradition. You’re always in my heart.
Finding books of historical fiction for kids about Native Americans is an oddly limited proposition. Basically, it boils down to Pilgrims, the Trail of Tears, the occasional 1900s storyline (thank God for Louise Erdrich), and . . . yeah, that’s about it. Contemporary fiction? Unheard of at best, offensive at worst. Authors, it seems, like to relegate their American Indians to the distant past where we can feel bad about them through the conscience assuaging veil of history. Maybe that’s part of what I like so much about Rosanne Parry’s Written in Stone. Set in the 1920s, Parry picks a moment in time with cultural significance not for the white readers with their limited historical knowledge but for the people most influenced by changes both at home and at sea. Smart and subtle by turns, Parry tackles a tricky subject and comes away swinging.
A girl with a dream is just that. A dreamer. And though Pearl has always longed to hunt whales like her father before her, harpooning is not in her future. When her father, a member of the Makah people of the Pacific Northwest, is killed on a routine hunt, Pearl’s future is in serious doubt. Not particularly endowed with any useful skills (though she’d love to learn to weave, if anyone was around to teach her), Pearl uncovers on her own a series of forgotten petroglyphs and the plot of a nefarious “art dealer”. Now her newfound love of the written word is going to give her the power to do something she never thought possible: preserve her tribe’s culture.
It’s sort of nice to read a book and feel like a kid in terms of the plot twists. Take, for example, the character of the “collector” who arrives and then immediately appears to be something else entirely. I probably should have been able to figure out his real occupation (or at least interests) long before the book revealed them to me, and yet here I was, toddling through, not a care in the world. I never saw it coming, and that means that at least 75% of the kids reading this book will also be in for a surprise.
I consider the ending of the book a bit of a plot twist as well, actually. We’re so used to our heroes and heroines at the ends of books pulling off these massive escapades and solutions to their problems that when I read Pearl’s very practical and real world answer to the dilemma posed by the smooth talking art dealer I was a bit taken aback. What, no media frenzied conclusion? No huge explosions or public shaming of the villain or anything similarly crass and confused? It took a little getting used to but once I’d accepted the quiet, realistic ending I realized it was better (and more appropriate to the general tone of the book) than anything a more ludicrous premise would have allowed.
If anything didn’t quite work for me, I guess it was the whole “Written in Stone” part. I understood why Pearl had to see the petroglyphs so as to aid her own personal growth and understanding of herself as a writer. That I got. It was more a problem that I had a great deal of difficulty picturing them in my own mind. I had to do a little online research of my own to get a sense of what they looked like, and even that proved insufficient since Parry’s petroglyphs are her own creation and not quite like anything else out there. It’s not an illustrated novel, but a few choice pen and inks of the images in their simplest forms would not have been out of place.
Now let us give thanks to authors (and their publishers) that know the value of a good chunk of backmatter. 19 pages worth of the stuff, no less (and on a 196-page title, that ain’t small potatoes). Because she is a white author writing about a distinct tribal group and their past, Parry treads carefully. Her extensive Author’s Note consists of her own personal connections to the Quinaults, her care to not replicate anything that is not for public consumption, the history of whaling amongst the Makah people, thoughts on the potlatch, petroglyphs, a history of epidemics and economic change to the region (I was unaware that it was returning WWI soldiers with influenza that were responsible for a vast number of deaths to the tribal communities of the Pacific Northwest at that time), the history of art collectors and natural resource management, an extensive bibliography that is split between resources for young readers, exhibits of Pacific Northwest art and artifacts, and resources for older readers, a Glossary of Quinault terms (with a long explanation of how it was recorded over the years), and a thank you to the many people who helped contribute to this book. PHEW! They hardly make ‘em like THIS these days.
I also love the care with which Parry approached her subject matter. There isn’t any of this swagger or ownership at work that you might find in other authors’ works. Her respect shines through. In a section labeled “Culture and Respect” Parry writes, “Historical fiction can never be taken lightly, and stories involving Native Americans are particularly delicate, as the author, whether Native or not, must walk the line between illuminating the life of the characters as fully as possible and withholding cultural information not intended for the public or specific stories that are the property of an individual, family, or tribe.” In this way the author explains that she purposefully left out the rituals that surround a whale hunt. She only alludes to stories of the Pitch Woman and the Timber Giant, never giving away their details. She even makes note the changes in names and spellings in the 1920s versus today.
I don’t know that you’re going to find another book out there quite like Written in Stone. Heck, I haven’t even touched on Pearl’s personality or her personal connections to her father and aunt. I haven’t talked about my favorite part of the book where Pearl’s grandfather haggles with a white trading partner and gets his wife to sing a lullaby that he claims is an ancient Indian curse. I haven’t done any of that, and yet I don’t think that there’s much more to say. The book is a smart historical work of fiction that requires use of the child reader’s brain more than anything else. It’s a glimpse of history I’ve not seen in a work of middle grade fiction before and I’d betcha bottom dollar I might never see it replicated again. Hats off then to Ms. Parry for the time, and effort, and consideration, and care she poured into this work. Hats off too to her editor for allowing her to do so. The book’s a keeper, no question. It’s just a question of finding it, is all.
On shelves now.
Source: Galley sent from publisher for review.
Like This? Then Try:
Notes on the Cover: This marks the second Richard Tuschman book jacket I’ve reviewed this year. The first was A Girl Called Problem, one of my favorites of 2013. The man has good taste in books.
Videos: Um . . . okay, I sort of love this fan made faux movie trailer for the book. It’s sort of awesome. Check it out.Display Comments Add a Comment
Sorry for being away so long! I hope you had a happy Thanksgiving. Ours was nice and low-key, and featured some gluten-free apple pie. There was a big to-do about who got the last pieces, and not just among the GF folks. It’s that good.
The hubs and I also took a trip just before Thanksgiving, which I’ll have to tell you more about in another post.
Here I wanted to show you a little holiday craft we did. Last year I made gift cloths with Christmas fabric and existing Christmas linens, but this year I decided to add to the collection by decorating and sewing up scraps of fabric I already had in my stash.
The red and green stripe in the back left corner was made with watercolor-type fabric paints by Deka. I’ve had that paint forEVER. I tried to find a link to a place you can buy it, but it’s looking like it’s not sold in the US anymore. Bummer. It’s good stuff.
We decorated the fabric for the center red-ribboned present with Target brand “slick” fabric paints (you squeeze the bottles to draw with them). My least favorite fabric paint ever. Really poor quality, but we made the best of it.
The blue-ribboned gift cloth is pale pink, and we drew on it with Tee Juice markers, which are great for quick and easy projects, especially with kids. They are totally permanent, though, so, as with all of these supplies, dress accordingly.
Lastly, on the red-spotted cloth with the dark green ribbon, we used stamps with cheap acrylic paints from Michaels mixed with textile medium. This is one of my favorite ways to paint on fabric, because mixing it yourself gives you a wide range of choices. And in the end you aren’t left with a bunch of fabric paint you may never use again.
Below are some pre-decorated and hemmed gift cloths: a thrifted plaid tablecloth and two tea towels from Target marked down to 88¢!
The kids loved trying to guess what all these fake presents were, the favorite by far being the pink one below that’s wrapped like candy. It’s a sack of corn meal.
Loving this free printable nativity the kids can color themselves at Made by Joel.
Hope to be back soon with some details of our trip.
In 2012, I listed 102 YA books written by authors of color. This year, 81. I’m certain I’ve missed some.
For example, in September I missed Antigoddess by Kendare Blake.
Old Gods never die…
Or so Athena thought. But then the feathers started sprouting beneath her skin, invading her lungs like a strange cancer, and Hermes showed up with a fever eating away his flesh. So much for living a quiet eternity in perpetual health. Desperately seeking the cause of their slow, miserable deaths, Athena and Hermes travel the world, gathering allies and discovering enemies both new and old. Their search leads them to Cassandra—an ordinary girl who was once an extraordinary prophetess, protected and loved by a god.
These days, Cassandra doesn’t involve herself in the business of gods—in fact, she doesn’t even know they exist. But she could be the key in a war that is only just beginning. Because Hera, the queen of the gods, has aligned herself with other of the ancient Olympians, who are killing off rivals in an attempt to prolong their own lives. But these anti-gods have become corrupted in their desperation to survive, horrific caricatures of their former glory. Athena will need every advantage she can get, because immortals don’t just flicker out. Every one of them dies in their own way. Some choke on feathers. Others become monsters. All of them rage against their last breath.
The Goddess War is about to begin.
But still, Why are the numbers of books written by authors of color continuing to decrease? Why is it still difficult for parents, librarians and teens to find YA books that feature teens of color?
Cy in Chains by David Dudley; Clarion Books, 17 Dec Cy Williams, thirteen, has always known that he and the other black folks on Strong’s plantation have to obey white men, no question. Sure, he’s free, as black people have been since his grandfather’s day, but in rural Georgia, that means they’re free to be whipped, abused, even killed. Almost four years later, Cy yearns for that freedom, such as it was. Now he’s a chain gang laborer, forced to do backbreaking work, penned in and shackled like an animal, brutalized, beaten, and humiliated by the boss of the camp and his hired overseers. For Cy and the boys he’s chained to, there’s no way out, no way back.
And then hope begins to grow in him, along with strength and courage he didn’t know he had. Cy is sure that a chance at freedom is worth any risk, any sacrifice. This powerful, moving story opens a window on a painful chapter in the history of race relations. (Amazon)
Control by Lydia King; Dial Books; 26 Dec Set in 2150 — in a world of automatic cars, nightclubs with auditory ecstasy drugs, and guys with four arms — this is about the human genetic “mistakes” that society wants to forget, and the way that outcasts can turn out to be heroes.
When their overprotective father is killed in a terrible accident, Zel and her younger sister, Dylia, are lost in grief. But it’s not until strangers appear, using bizarre sensory weapons, that the life they had is truly eviscerated. Zel ends up in a safe house for teens that aren’t like any she’s ever seen — teens who, by law, shouldn’t even exist. One of them — an angry tattooed boy haunted by tragedy — can help Zel reunite with her sister. (Amazon)
Where did December come from? What happened to May? July? September? Did I do a Rip Van Winkle? The year can’t be almost done already!
So far setting monthly reading priorities has gone pretty well. I thought when I sat down to write this that November had gone terribly but looking back there is only one book I didn’t read, The Bridge of Beyond by Simone Schwarz-Bart. My excuse? A library book I had on hold came my way. That’s valid, right?
I am usually up to date with writing about books I have finished but there are two books from November I haven’t written about yet: Steppenwolf by Herman Hesse and MaddAddam by Margaret Atwood. The Atwood was fantastic. The Hesse, I am still trying to puzzle it out. I think I should have read it while under the influence of mind-altering drugs and it would have made more sense. Write ups about each of the books are forthcoming.
Books for December. I am having trouble putting together my priorities. I have the week of Christmas and the week of New Year’s off from work, that’s two full weeks, and I am inclined to cram it full with books. But I know I have a tendency to cram it too full so I back off and then worry that I haven’t planned enough. What the heck. Let’s cram!
So while others binge on food this month, I’ll binge on books. Here’s the meal plan:
And if I manage all of that, there will also be The Bridge of Beyond and Trojan Women to dive into. Also on the back burner is Four Quartets by T.S. Eliot and a biography about him by Peter Ackroyd.
It’s a good thing reading binges are calorie-free!
Two of the sessions I attended at NCTE in Boston helped me think about ways two digital tools could be meaningfully integrated into early childhood and elementary school classrooms to engage young writers. The "Exploring Collaboration of Multimodal Literacies in Early Childhood: Digital Filmmaking, Designing, and Co-Authoring" panel discussed the way digital video cameras could enhance learning, while two of the presenters in "Writing Workshop Is for All Students: Using Visuals, Oral Language, and Digital Tools to Maximize Success and Independence for English Language Learners" suggested the incorporation of digital cameras.Add a Comment
(I just looked up The Little Match Girl, and even though she has that vision of a Christmas tree, apparently it's set on New Year's. So I'm not counting it.)
ANYWAY. The Night After Christmas.
A couple of toys get abandoned in the snow WITH THE GARBAGE, because they've been replaced by newer, shinier toys.
A dog named Chauncey rescues them and brings them to the boiler room where he appears to (<--I'll get back to that in a sec.) live.
Annie and Teddy hang out there for a few days, getting progressively more and more depressed (at first, Teddy is somewhat optimistic, but eventually he ends up down in the emotional abyss with Annie), and there is dialogue that will inspire EITHER laughter OR chest-stabbing OR maybe both? Example:
"What are you supposed to be?" said Annie.
"I am a toy computer," said Teddy.
"Ask me a question."
"How can you be so stupid?" said Annie.
BRUTAL, RIGHT?? Because, A) Teddy is so determined to not give up, B) WOW, MEAN on Annie's part, but C) also SO UNDERSTANDABLE on her part.
Anyway, eventually, Chauncey brings them to a school and leaves them outside just as the day is ending, and when the kids have scattered, Annie and Teddy are gone. So, happy ending for them.
And then, the last picture is of Chauncey sleeping in front of a food bowl with a red ribbon on it. So I guess he got adopted? Or he already had a family, and he was slumming it in the boiler room? Or something?
BUT SINCE HE'S SLEEPING, I'M CONCERNED THAT HE'S JUST DREAMING ABOUT THE BOWL, AND THAT HE'S STILL LIVING IN THE BOILER ROOM ALL ALONE.
I realize I have problems.
What about you, though? Depressing/disturbing Christmas stories: GO!Add a Comment
The story of the oldest known wild bird in the world. At 62+, she hatched a new chick in February, 2013. Read her remarkable story. A biography in text and art.
Just got an e-newsletter from the North Pole and Santa passed along these writing tips from the Gingerbread Man, posted for the young-at-heart who are writing novels this year.
Back by popular demand is my series on writing tips from popular Christmas figures. First published in 2007, they are updated here for your Christmas cheer.
Santa Claus’s Top 5 Writing Tips
12 Days of Christmas Writing Tips (live on 12/3)
The Gingerbread Man’s Top 5 Writing Tips (live on 12/4)
Frosty the Snowman’s Top 6 Writing Tips (live on 12/5)
Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer’s Top 5 Writing Tips (live on 12/6)
Due to the failure to obtain the minimum number of entries (5 percent of total contest entries) required by the contest entry deadline, the Young Adult Romance category of the 2014 RITA® Contest has been canceled.
Other than a LOT of chatter on Twitter and FB, that's the only link I've seen so far that directly quoted the RWA letter that broke the news.
I have no doubt there will be more information forthcoming.
In the meantime, though: BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO. The idea that there somehow weren't enough YA romances to fill the category* is rife with ridiculousity, and fills me with sadnosity as well as a bit of indignosity.
*Category criteria: "Novels that focus primarily on the romantic relationship between two adolescents. These novels are marketed to adolescents and young adults." So is the issue that if a book is a combination of multiple genres—say, Dark Triumph, which is a historical-fantasy-adventure-romance—it doesn't count? I'm rather at a loss here, because in that example, sure, there's a lot going on... but the romance is TOTALLY INTEGRAL to the main character's growth, healing, and happiness. I dunno. Thoughts and/or insight?Add a Comment
As of November 20, 2012 (that is, Midnight Eastern Time tonight) I am closed to queries. I will reopen to queries January 7, 2013.
If I already have your work, you should hear from me by January 7. (That's the point of taking the break, I have to catch up!)
At the Guardian:
I am so glad that first-rate children's literature was there for my own children. I would not have wanted them – at 11, 12 or 13 – to confront the complexity and banality of evil. It's quite right that they wanted to read about worlds where evil was uniformly evil and good people were constantly good. In contrast, adulthood means learning that SS officers or drone pilots do go home and kiss their wives, without a thought of belonging to the "dark side".
Wow. If this essayist truly thinks—as opposed to deliberately writing clickbait, which is certainly possible—that children's and YA fiction depicts the world in black-and-white, then he can't be particularly well-versed in either category.Add a Comment
So, in November we reached out to our book critics and staff to ask which books they absolutely loved in 2013. We got more than a total of 200 titles in response from trusted names such as NPR's go-to librarian Nancy Pearl, Fresh Air book critic Maureen Corrigan, Morning Edition host David Greene, and even Wait Wait ... Don't Tell Me! limericist Philipp Goedicke. Then the members of the NPR Books team locked ourselves in a small room for several hours to hash out how exactly to categorize titles ranging from Mr. Wuffles! and Unicorn Thinks He's Pretty Great to an 832-page biography of Woodrow Wilson.
After much wailing and gnashing of teeth we emerged with a taxonomy that allowed users to filter the list of our 200-plus favorite 2013 books in ways that felt both functional (i.e., or ) and fun (i.e., and ). Meanwhile, the NewsApps team was busy figuring out how this whole thing should look and work. After a couple of weeks of designing and coding and testing and editing, our books concierge was born.
And even though they aren't doing the list thing, THAT WON'T STOP ME. Here are the titles in their app-thingie that are tagged 'young adult':
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Eleanor & Park, by Rainbow Rowell
The Summer Prince, by Alaya Dawn Johnson
Gorgeous, by Paul Rudnick
A Corner of White, by Jaclyn Moriarty
The Madness Underneath, by Maureen Johnson
Brilliance, by Marcus Sakey
The Coldest Girl in Coldtown, by Holly Black
Scarlet, by Marissa Meyer
Rose Under Fire, by Elizabeth Wein
Paper Valentine, by Brenna Yovanoff
Jeff Smith* has launched a free webcomic at his website that, according to PW, "is set during the ice age and is the story of the first human to leave Africa".
He's updating it three times a week and it starts here.
*The creator of Bone, which I still haven't read. Yes, I know, I KNOW.Add a Comment