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1. 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #417: FeaturingUp-and-Coming Illustrator, Molly Walsh

It’s the first Sunday of the month, which means I invite a student illustrator or recent grad to visit 7-Imp, and today I’ve got the latter. Molly Walsh graduated in 2013 from RISD, and she’s here today to share art and tell us a bit about herself.

Without further ado …

Molly: Hello! My name is Molly Walsh, and I am an illustrator living on Cape Cod. I graduated in 2013 with a degree in Illustration from Rhode Island School of Design.

 




 

I work by day as a designer at a gift company in Cape Cod and, by night, as a freelance illustrator. I love creating art for decoration, but my first love is telling stories, large or small, through my illustration. Inspiration for my illustrations could come from something as small as a little detail from a friend’s story to something as large as trying to sum up an entire concept or emotion in one image. My love of nature and goofy characters also have a way of creeping into the images I make.

 




 

I started working in my current style toward the end of my time at RISD. I had been making 3D sculptures as a way to compensate for my lack of confidence in my drawing skills. Sculpting somehow gave me a better understanding of shapes and lighting, and I began drawing and painting again to save time. (Funny how that works!)

 



 

One of my professors, Fred Lynch, was of great help to me settling into a style that suited my voice as an illustrator. I do most of my work in watercolor and gouache, though my surface design job has taught me a great deal about digital media, which I’ve started incorporating into my work.

 




 

My current sketchbook is full of doodles and sloppily-written ideas for future projects, both somewhat formed idea for series and comics, as well as notes about “great ideas” I’ve written myself while half asleep. (The other day I found the words “Gastronaut — astronaut with gas” written on one page.) Looking forward, I hope to find more opportunities to tell both my own stories, as well as the stories and ideas of others through freelance work for books and magazines. Illustration is a wonderful, exciting thing, and I hope to use this power for good!

 












 

All artwork here is reproduced by permission of Molly Walsh.

Note for any new readers: 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks is a weekly meeting ground for taking some time to reflect on Seven(ish) Exceptionally Fabulous, Beautiful, Interesting, Hilarious, or Otherwise Positive Noteworthy Things from the past week, whether book-related or not, that happened to you. New kickers are always welcome.

* * * Jules’ Kicks * * *

1) I love the characters in Molly’s work. Also I love: “Illustration is a wonderful, exciting thing, and I hope to use this power for good!” (P.S. The last illustration up there is from Ray Bradbury’s “All Summer in a Day,” which is something like the third or fourth illustration I’ve shared at 7-Imp from that story, which used to HAUNT me as a child. I’m starting a 7-Imp trend.)

2) Yesterday, we saw a stage adaptation at the Nashville Children’s Theatre of Mo Willems’ Elephant & Piggie stories. It was fun. Here’s a bit of what it was like:

3) I talked to a big group of second-graders at a school in Nashville this week about favorite 2014 picture books and Caldecott contenders, and it was a thing of beauty to hear their strong opinions. Those lucky kids have some great teachers and librarians.

4) Oh, and the Twitter chat this week with Metro Nashville School librarians was fun too.

5) Author-illustrator Lori Nichols is going to come have breakfast at 7-Imp when life slows down and sent this preview of us in the meantime:

6) It’s neat to see friends’ photos on Facebook from ALA Midwinter.

7) Speaking of kick #2, my New Year’s resolution (though I don’t usually do resolutions) was to see more live theatre, so hey, I’m not doing too badly.

What are YOUR kicks this week?

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2. Yellers

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3. What If ‘The Amazing World Of Gumball’ Was Anime?

Here's how one fan re-imagined Cartoon Network's "Gumball" as an anime series.

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4. Step Away From That Computer!


I thought my new year's resolution was very manageable. Each month I would go to a place in New York City that I had never been. (I can't believe I almost broke my vow--it was already the last day of January!) 

After a week of polishing a manuscript, I was ready to get outside of my head and my apartment.

The weather was crisp and cold. The wind was so fierce, I almost changed my mind about going to Owl's Head park on the eastern edge of Brooklyn. But I'm glad I didn't.





At the top of the hill, I could see white caps
 on the water of New York harbor. 



Without their leaves, the trees are so exposed. 
As if they aren't trees at all, but some other kind of life form.


How long has this fellow being been standing on this spot? 
And how did he get to be so twisted?


Of course whenever I go anywhere, 
I'm always looking for a way into a new world.


Or into a new story.

I think I might have found one.


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5. PROJECT ALMANAC - Drive Through Movie Review

The Nerd Riders, Kristin and Clint, are at it again with their review of the new time travel movie PROJECT ALMANAC. 

If you could time travel, where would you go? 

Did you see PROJECT ALMANAC? Do you agree or disagree with the Nerd Riders?

 

 


Read More

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6. Stuck in the Middle

The window seat provides a view
Of clouds and bright blue sky.
It’s where you likely want to sit
When it’s your turn to fly.

The aisle gives easy access
If your bladder needs to void.
Just pop right up and seatmates
Never have to be annoyed.

But what remains if by some chance
You wait to choose a seat?
Being stuck right in the middle
Where you’ll settle in defeat.

When Window wants to move, you must
Unbuckle and step out
And you’re disturbing Aisle
If you need to move about.

The dreaded middle seat’s for those
Who just ran out of luck.
Without accessibility or views,
You’re merely stuck!

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7. Electronic Music – Timeline from Classical Convesation

If you know what this is, then you know what this is. My kids are in Classical Conversation. They have a song that goes through the history called “The Timeline”. I took parts of that song and turned it into a loop. Thank you kids and wife for coaching me in the melody. I experimented […]

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8. Universal Bureau of Copyrights review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Bertrand Laverdure's unusual little novel, Universal Bureau of Copyrights.

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9. Identifying Great Visual Effects Work: A Short Video Primer

If you were voting to give someone an award for best visual effects, how would you judge the work?

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10. What would happen if...? The Power of Imagination, by Pauline Fisk

It was with great sadness that we at ABBA heard of the death of Pauline Fisk, writer of Midnight Blue and many other much-loved children's books, a few days ago on 25th January. Pauline blogged for ABBA for a time, and Penny Dolan has volunteered her usual slot so that we could  repeat one of Pauline's posts. This is the last one she wrote for us, in May 2013, and it says so much about her breadth of vision, her sense of adventure, and her concern that children's imaginations should be nurtured.

Our thoughts and our sympathy are with Pauline's family.

Sue Purkiss



Pauline Fisk
This is my last post, regretfully. Life and all its busyness has galloped ahead of me and needs reining back. Before I step down, however, I want to share with you some things I said the other night at Keele University’s Keele Link Awards Ceremony.

I began with a story, because stories are what I do best and they’re also the means by which I make sense of the world. Five years ago now, as some of you will know, I was out in Belize, funded by the British Arts Council, researching gap year volunteering for my novel In The Trees. I wasn’t an adventurous type. I was a sixty year-old, asthmatic, stay-at-home author who’d never been anywhere more tropical than Rome in November. What had kicked me out of my office, however, was the power of imagination.

And it was imagination that I was at Keele to talk about. That same imagination that 'will get you everywhere', according to Albert Einstein, whilst logic 'only gets you from A to Z'. ‘I am enough of an artist to draw freely upon my imagination,’ he said. ‘Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world.’ And, again, from Picasso, ‘Everything you can imagine is real.’

Well, six years before my Belize trip, my son Idris Davies experienced what was real about that country as a gap year volunteer. I’d waved goodbye to a white-faced, spotty [the result of back–to-back shifts in McDonalds] youth and returned to the airport five months later to greet a person who was literally, physically unrecognisable. By that I mean that when I saw Idris talking to my husband, I thought the tall man in the Trekforce t-shirt was one of the leaders of the trip explaining why our son had missed the plane. Idris’s entire body shape had changed, but it wasn’t muscles, hair or tan that rendered him unrecognizable. It was the way he inhabited his body, as if it wasn’t an accidental appendage but he was actually in charge of it.

Now there’s a story, I immediately thought. As an author of young adult novels, how could I not? What happened to young gap year volunteers when they went off on those rites of passage projects? What changed them - and how?

Six years later, I was in Belize finding out. Six years, I have to say, of struggling not to go out there, because I wasn’t the sort of writer who wrote those sorts of books. I was a stay-at-home gal. I couldn’t afford it. Other writers would do it better. My publishers wouldn’t be interested. My agent would think it was a bad idea. Nobody was writing gap year novels for young teenagers – and I was terrified of snakes.

What drove me out there, against all odds? It wasn’t my publishers being interested after all, my agent thinking it was a good idea and the money for the trip coming in. It was the power of imagination that sent me to Belize. A story had me in its grip, and I didn’t know exactly how that story might unfold, but I knew that if I went out to this unknown country in Central America, it would come. My Kevin Costner moment. If you build it, they will come.

So, imagination. The realm of creative, slightly batty, forgetful types like Albert Einstein, Pablo Picasso - and me. I think not. The realm of all of us – that’s what I went to Keele University to say. What happened to me with In The Trees was that I was captured by an idea. It got me so tightly that it wouldn’t let go. And that’s exactly what had happened to the young people I went out to meet. There, miles from civilization, guarded by soldiers because their project was so dangerous, I found groups of young school leavers trekking into the jungle and enduring hideously primitive living conditions because the idea of saving the rain forest had lodged itself in their heads and wouldn’t be removed. They’d had the imagination to see what might happen if nothing was done - and they were doing what they could.

When did your imagination first kick off? I have a photo somewhere of myself at the age of three making up stories for the big children next door. They’re lined up on one side of the garden wall and I’m on the other and they’re asking what happened next…and next…and next… and I’m telling them.

I believe I was privileged to grow up in an age where imagination was valued. At my primary school my ability to make up and write stories was encouraged. I was made to feel special because of what I could do. But anybody who had half a good idea was made to feel special too. These were the years after the war when the country was trying to grow itself again and its young people were not just its future but valued as a resource.

There was so much freedom back in those days. Half my childhood was spent lurking around back alleys, looking for fairies under bramble bushes, going early to the local park so that I could sit and enjoy it all on my own, making dens in the undergrowth and stories in my head. I travelled alone on the underground. My parents would put me on a bus on one side of London and I’d be met off it on the other. Apart from that little matter of sums and science, languages and sport [in other words, all the things I wasn’t good at in school] I was free. And my imagination was free.

Even when my children were growing up, they too were free. We lived out in a Shropshire village on the edge of the Long Mountain. Summer holidays were spent playing cowboys in the long grass of the churchyard next door [when funerals weren’t taking place] or damming up the local stream.

There’s a tendency, I know, to say that things aren’t what they used to be in the good old days. By which we mean our good old days. Well, surprise, surprise, children are born and growing up with every bit as much imagination as children ever were. The big question now, though, is what happens to it.

Nowadays nobody in that village allows their children to play down the stream. Not since the funny man was there, trying with some woman to get children into his car. So often now it’s fear that fuels people’s imaginations, not opportunities. Who might be lurking round the corner, waiting to pounce? What are governments really up to if we only knew the truth? When will Peak Oil happen and the world as we know it come to an end?

I think we have some very real reasons to be fearful sometimes. But with imagination we can overcome our fears, or at the very least work our way round them. Imagination doesn’t have to bring out the worst in us. It can turn our problems into opportunities. And that’s surely where education comes in.

Children need to be given space for their imaginations to flourish. And they need this space in school, not just afterwards between home time and bed. You want to know what I fear? Here’s an example for you. Imagine a local rural primary school. This is one I know well - I’m not making it up. It’s a lovely school full of lovely children in the middle of lovely countryside - hills, valleys, rivers and verdant woodland. The school’s environment is entirely nurturing. If anywhere in this country is going to turn out free-thinking, imaginative children you’d expect this to be it. But, come the end of the academic year, the Head wants artwork from the top class to go on display – and there is none. Why not? Do I need to spell it out? I certainly didn’t the other night. The children and their teacher had been too busy keeping up with the National Curriculum to have any time left over for art.

Is this really possible? This school? What’s happening here? And if this is what’s happening all over, what do we do?

My connection with Keele came about through the Children’s University, of whom Michael Morpurgo is National Chancellor and I’m Shropshire’s Chancellor. If you want an organisation that’s stimulating children’s imaginations you need look no further. Here it’s very much the children who take the lead, coming up with ideas and dragging themselves, their parents and their teachers off to do or see whatever it is that interests them. And it's not just a cosy, middle-class organisation either. Shropshire's Children's University is operating in some of the most deprived areas in the county. I’m proud to be associated with an organisation like that.

If we don’t see our children’s imaginations fed and stimulated, then the scientists of the future are a thing of the past, the artworks of the future will be black on black, the designers, the thinkers, the builders, the workers of the future – and those craft workers whom the government has just, in yet another of their fits of total madness, announced in a white paper are no longer part of the creative industry – where will they all be?

I don’t need to end here with John Lennon’s ‘Imagine’ to make my point. Instead I’m going to end where I started – with Albert Einstein and his imagination encircling the world. In his Commendation of In The Trees, Rafael Manzanero, the Chief Executive of the Belizean NGO responsible for the protection of that country’s rainforest,wrote that people like us really could make a difference to our planet, even though it seems we’re worlds apart. ‘It is not only moral to do so,’ he wrote,‘but the survival of forests will make the planet a better place for human life.’

THIS is the idea that caught hold of a group of young people – that not only governments and multi-national charitable organisations could make a difference to the world around them; they could too. According to Rafael Manzanero it’s been an effective and lasting difference too. And, in the face of illegal logging, poacher activities, unlicensed gold-panning, crime syndicates, the organized smuggling of everything from jaguar cubs to Mayan artefacts - it takes some imagination to achieve a result like that.


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11. 25th Anniversay Walk-for-the-Animals T-shirt FOR SALE

WFTA Anniversay T-Shirt-01

2015 marks the 25th anniversary for the Humane Society of Broward County’s annual “Walk for the Animals” fundraising event. For something special I was asked to illustrate and design a commemorative T-shirt that will be sold on the day of the Walk (Feb. 28th, 2015).

 

Part of the fun of the “Walk for the Animals” is seeing the thousands of dogs all in one place. There are big dogs, little dogs, old and young, purebreds and mixed breeds. There are dogs in wagons and dogs playing Frisbee. The “parents” of all these pets are as varied as the dogs themselves. There are vendors of every type imaginable. I can’t say enough how much I look forward to attending, with or without my beloved dog.

There is only one condition, no cats allowed at the event (but the money raised does go for all the animals the HSBC cares for, not just dogs).

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12. Selayar dan Takabonerate Surga Menyelam di Sulawesi Utara

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Pulau Selayar adalah pusat wisata bahari di Provinsi Sulawesi Selatan. Pulau ini adalah bagian dari Taman Nasional Takabonerate. Ini adalah sebuah pulau yang memiliki atau terbesar ketiga di dunia setelah kepulauan Maladewa dan Marshall. Selayar terdapat di Flores dan merupakan pintu gerbang menuju ke Taman Nasional Taka Bonerate.

selayar-dan-takabonerate-surga-menyelam-sulawesi-utara

Kepulauan Selayar memiliki pantai yang indah dengan pasirnya yang berwarna putih dan airnya yang jernih. Anda bisa berenang atau bersantai di pantai sambil menikmati keindahan alam di sekitar Pulau Selayar. Selain itu, bukit-bukit hijau yang membentang, serta gugusan batu karang memanjang ke arah laut sejauh 200 meter merupakan pemandangan yang luar biasa dari tempat ini. Baca juga : Tips Berwisata Kepantai
Kepulauan Selayar memiliki letak yang sangat strategis terutama bagi anda yang ingin melakukan beberapa kegiatan seperti menyelam, snorkeling atau berenang dan memancing.
Bagian timur dari kepulauan ini adalah tempat yang sering dikunjungi oleh para wisatawan. Tempat ini juga terdapat banyak resort yang menyediakan fasilitas menyelam dan bisa di sewa dengan harga yang relatif murah. Selayar dan Takabonerate adalah alternatif terbaik untuk menyelam dan menikmati keindahan bawah laut selain Raja Ampat, dan Selat Bali. Pulau Selayar yang terkenal akan keindahan bawah lautnya itu memiliki terumbu karang yang sangat luas. Ada sekitar 1 juta hektar terumbu karang yang ada di tempat ini.
Tidak mengherankan apabila Selayar kemudian menjadi salah satu permata laut yang terindah di dunia. Selain itu, alamnya yang masih murni merupakan nilai plus dari tempat ini.
Di tempat ini visibilitas ketika menyelam mencapai 30 meter. Salah satu yang paling menarik dari tempat ini adalah tebing karang hasil letusan gunung berapi. Tak hanya itu, ketika anda menyelam, anda akan banyak menemukan ikan-ikan langka seperti Barakuda, Giant Travelly, Marlin, Sailfish, Dogtooth Tuna, Yellowfin, Wahoo, dan Makerels.

Rute Menuju Kepulauan Selayar
Rute menuju Pulau Selayar dan Taman Nasional Taka Bonerate sebenarnya tidak terlalu sulit. Dari Makassar anda bisa menuju ke Pulau Selayar dengan menggunakan mobil, bus, dan menyeberang menggunakan Ferry. Perjalanan biasanya memakan waktu sekitar 8 hingga 9 jam.
Jika anda ingin mendapatkan informasi lebih tentang resort yang ada di pulau ini, yaitu Resorts Selayar Island. Anda bisa mengunjungi www.Selayarislandresort.com, resort ini terletak sekitar pertengahan antara pantai barat Pulau Selayar dan tempat menyelam di bagian timur. Tempat ini menawarkan kamar yang memiliki AC dan memberikan kenyamanan serta beberapa fasilitas modern. Akomodasi yang dimilikinya diantaranya adalah aku akses ke 50 spot diving, perahu, dan masih banyak lagi yang lainnya.
Selain itu anda juga bisa membuka situs dinas pariwisata kabupaten Selayar yang beralamat di www.Selayartourism.com. Disana anda bisa mendapatkan beberapa informasi mengenai hotel, penginapan, serta panduan berwisata di Pulau Selayar. Selain itu, cobalah untuk mengunjungi www.takabonerate.net untuk menggali informasi lebih banyak.

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13. "I Just Do NOT Want To Sort Through This Box!"

And with those words....I sorted through the box.

Go figure.

Papers, journals....hello....a piece of artwork?

Wow.  It was the original, pre-Letraset lettering, 1986 Black Tower ad that I thought had been lost years ago.  Featured are Wildmane, Runestone (the flying guy with the big moustache if you have never -WHAT?!- read a Black Tower book before) and to their rear, Team Nippon's own Red Dragon (when Black Tower had a super hero group).

You see -you can make surprise finds!


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14. Icelandic Booksellers' Prize 2014

       They actually announced the winners of the Icelandic Booksellers' Prize over a month ago but I missed that -- but they just handed out the prizes a few days ago -- see, for example, the Iceland Review report --, so that's good enough a reason and occasion to make note of them now.
       Öræfi, by Ófeigur Sigurðsson, took the novel prize; see the Forlagið publicity page.

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15. Sketching Characters


©Lesley Breen Withrow

Lots of character sketches. So much fun!



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16. Historical fiction

There is sci-fi and fantasy, but I say why build a new world? Historical fiction offers our world, but in a different time. All the writer has to do is a little research.

Okay. A lot of research.

Stories are about people. There is something I find fascinating about the lives or people in this world, yet of another time. The only problem is that the term itself - historical fiction - is often met with outstretched forefingers in the sign of the cross from wild-eyed agents and editors. 

I find the genre fascinating and don’t understand it’s adverse connotation. Story is story and if you people them with intriguing characters and you place them in perilous situations, what does it matter if they are in a time long ago? Just to get around the negativity, I have to dress my stories up with a modern day time traveler in order to sneak in historical settings.

A while back, Susan Sherman contributed a post for Writer’s Digest entitled “Tackling Historical Fiction.”

Sherman starts her research in the map room of libraries. This is to get a good working knowledge of the geography of the story. The Internet can help in this regard, but the local university may offer more if the city library can’t provide.

Then she researches the big history, the major events going on at the time. That seems obvious. But it is in what she calls the “tiny history” that details emerge that bring the story to life. She asks herself a thousand questions to discover the minutiae of everyday life. She imagines arriving at one of her characters’s house and wonders, how she got there, in a cab a carriage or on horseback, if the road paved with cobblestones or is is mired in mud, if the house is lighted and if so by candle light or gas, if the place is in a good neighborhood or a slum. All these questions provides details of the time and place that give the story a sense of immediacy and reality.

Sherman warns that we must be careful not to let the research show and turn the whole thing into a history lesson info dump. The writer can’t show off the amount of research they’ve done. The trick is to provide enough description to flesh out the character and give life to the world, without burdening the reader with unnecessary details.

The nature of historical fiction, its limits of an earlier time, does allow the writer some advantages. Authors are supposed to create difficulties for their characters. In addition to the conflicts, barriers, and misunderstandings characters in any novel can face, there were no cell phones or Google to provide the quick fixes our modern day characters may employ. Using a smart phone to locate a Starbucks in a foreign part of town is much easier than sailing to the Far East when an unchartered American continent gets in your way.

Whether as a reader or a writer, there is pleasure in seeing real people dealing with day-to-day living in times long ago. 


(This article also posted at http://writetimeluck.blogspot.com)

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17. Author Platforms

Does every author need to have a platform, and what is a platform anyway?

https://alaynekaychristian.wordpress.com/2014/12/13/julie-hedlund-busts-myths-about-author-platforms/

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18. Carl Djerassi (1923-2015)

       Carl Djerassi has passed away; see, for example, The New York Times' obituary.
       Best-known for his impressive work as a scientist, he also tried to write fiction (and drama) dealing with a variety of scientific issues -- a different kind of science-fiction. I read quite a bit of it, and while little that he produced was really memorable, most of it was at least fairly entertaining and decently thought-provoking -- certainly good stuff for the scientifically interested kids.
       Check out, for example, The Bourbaki Gambit (get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk) or Cantor's Dilemma (get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk).

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19.



Hanukkah Howie vs. Santa Claus

The First ‘Chrismukkah’ Classic 
has launched on INKSHARES, the crowd-driven publisher

Will you help guarantee its publication? Project must fund in 60 days!

Go to
to see the full text, sample illustrations, and to help bring this book to life!

Thank you for your support!
Over one million families in North America alone celebrate “Chrismukkah.” Around the globe more and more families are incorporating the hybrid holiday into their lives, yet there is no “go-to” story about it for them to embrace. Until now. Hanukkah Howie vs. Santa Claus will be cherished by every child who grows up in a Chrismukkah home, but it will  be enjoyed by all readers because it’s fun, funny, and full of heart.
Howie climbed out of the Hanucopter and approached his first house. He sprinkled some oil, then slid under the front door with his bag of gifts. Everything was going smoothly, a typical first night of Hanukkah. Or so he thought! There was someone else in the house, and he had presents, too–Santa Claus! When the shocked pair realized there were families on both their lists…It. Was. On. Hanukkah Howie vs. Santa Claus is the hilarious and heartfelt story of how two holiday heroes wind up with the greatest gift of all for themselves: friendship.
About the Illustrator: Andy Catling is a professional illustrator with more than 30 illustrated titles under his belt.  See http://www.catling-art.com/ for more.


Reviews

“Hey, you got Hanukkah in my Christmas!” “Hey, you got Christmas in my Hanukkah! Mmmmmm…reads great!”             
Finally: a holiday tale that is affecting without heaping on the schmaltz. Meet Howie AKA Hanukkah Howie—who is to the Festival of Lights as Saint Nick is to Christmas—as he prepares for his annual trek to visit all of the good Jewish children of the world: “Delivering eight nights worth of gifts at one time was a serious shlep!” With Hanukkah Howie vs. Santa Claus, you get exactly that: a festive arms race between two holiday heavyweights, each seeing who can outdo the other in terms of bringing some joy vey to the world. Of course, it all works out in the end, but if you don’t find yourself snickering at Slater’s whimsical world of Hanukkopters and other well-oiled contraptions, then you are definitely in the menorah-ty!
Dale E. Basye, author of the Circles of Heck Series
“What do you do when your family celebrates both Christmas and Hanukkah? You celebrate Chrismukkah! David Michael Slater has written a delightful story capturing the joy of the holidays with humor and sensitivity. A must read for families of all faiths!”
                                                                                                                                                                                                                     Penny Warner, Author of the award-winning series, The Code Busters                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             
“A new holiday tradition deserves a new holiday classic read aloud, and David Michael Slater has delivered just that, right to our door, by sleigh and by Hanukkopter.”
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      David Lubar, Author of Hidden Talents and Sleeping Freshmen Never Lie.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     
“This is the most Hanukkacool book I’ve read this year! David Michael Slater is one funny mensch—and Hanukkah Howie is my favorite new holiday hero.”
                                                                                                                                                                                                                             Bart King, Author of The Big Book of Boy Stuff                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       “Well, really, folks, when you get down to it, are Christmas and Hannukah really all that different? They are both celebrations steeped in the spirit of love and friendship, and who’s to say Loveship can’t be found in the combined celebration of both. Howie and Santa are onto something big! They just kind of make you want to hug everyone.”
                                                                                                                                                                                                                   Graham Salisbury, Author of the bestselling Calvin Coconut Series and Under the Blood Red Sun
                                                                                                                                                                                                                         “Great fun! I always wondered who brought the Hanukkah gifts.”
                                                                                                                                                                                                                         Eric Kimmel, Author of Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   
“In celebration of blended families and modern-day cultural, religious and ethnic fusions, David Michael Slater’s Hanukkah Howie vs. Santa Claus has a unique, and refreshingly “real” take on one of the holiday’s biggest icons, Santa Claus. By bringing a new player to the game, Hanukkah Howie, gift giving becomes a cutthroat competition of who can “gift” better to win over those families who celebrate both Christmas and Hanukkah. And the silliness bar is raised with each encounter.
Funny. Unexpected. Sprinkled with laugh-out-loud lines, this book reads like a “well-oiled machine,” and will no doubt be a new holiday, Christmakkah favorite.”
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Heidi Ayarbe, author of Freeze Frame                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     “One thing I always expect from a David Michael Slater book is an outrageously imaginative story. In Hanukkah Howie vs. Santa Claus he delivers just that. But he also captures the struggle between competing characters and competing traditions in a way that warms the heart and enlivens the mind. You cannot read this story without wondering what would change in the world if everyone from different traditions could find the same kind of friendship as what develops between Hanukkah Howie and Santa Claus. We can only hope so. I want every child to have a chance to read this story and be touched by its magic.”
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Roy M Carlisle, Advisory Board Member and Editorial Consultant for Relish Media, an imprint of Little Pickle Press                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                
“A book involving the true message of the holidays for families of mixed faiths in today’s world has been long overdue, and we hope that “The World’s First Chrismukkah Classic” will become a household name. This book captures the essence of finding joy and being with those you love around the holidays regardless of belief.”                                                                                                                                             
Danny Foley & Sarah Robinson of Watch for Rocks, Creators of “The Chrismukkah Song”                             
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            At long last: the dueling holidays reconcile as Hanukkah Howie and Santa Claus discover Chrismukkah. This is the tradition-defining story that every blended family will want to read as they sit beside the Chrismukkah bush amidst an avalanche of presents.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             Sage Cohen, author of The Productive Writer

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20. Literary prizes in ... India

       In The Hindu Jaya Bhattacharji Rose considers whether: 'Indian literary prizes set literary standards', in The prize is right ?
       Neat to hear, at least, that:

An award for a translated book has a simultaneous impact in two languages says Mini Krishnan, editor-translations, OUP. "A classic case is Bama's Karukku translated by Lakshmi Holmstrom. That Crossword Prize in 2001 changed Bama's life. I think there must be over 100 MPhils on the book and many Tamil Dalit works were picked up for translation in English after that. ... When a translation wins a prize, the sales of the original also picks up."
       (See the Oxford University Press publicity page for the recent second edition of Karukku, or get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.)
       Too bad, then, that there aren't more literary prizes in India that reward or even just consider translations -- disappointingly, The Hindu's own Literary Prize excludes them ..... Read the rest of this post

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21. Watch the Annie Awards Live on Cartoon Brew Tonight

Watch animation's biggest awards show live on Cartoon Brew tonight.

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22. The Gift of an Open Mind

Freedom is an interesting thing. We know it’s concept and we get the gist of it all, but many of us are busy functioning amidst our daily routines and we think of freedoms only on their grandest of scale. We are grateful for the rights we have living in a free Country, but we don’t think about the smaller freedoms. The freedoms that our routines, namely being stuck to them, may be stripping away from us.
think free art illustration
[From my Instagram]
Routine. Trust me, I’m like you and love a good routine. Routines are good, they keep us focused and working towards goals; consistency is the foundation of every major accomplishment. We NEED certain routines, yet routines are a tricky double edged sword.

Routines keep you focused. Routines can also hold your prisoner. The issues that dictate which is which are: the routine, the basis for it, and how much flexibility you allow yourself within it.

I can parallel this to running because it’s an easy example; training should become a routine. You need to KNOW you’re going to do it, don’t think of it like a ‘maybe’, you know your goals and you know you need to be consistent to reach them. You need that routine to keep you focused because running and training is hard. Frankly it’s painful and there will be times when you need to know you’re going to just have to put your head down and grind through. BUT, there are times when grinding will only leave you a broken, dull stone, so there needs to be a degree of flexibility. There are times when rather than pushing you need to step back.

Freedom outside your routine is also a state of mind. Being so busy usually means you’re perpetually distracted, or so focused on the task at hand you’re not opening yourself up to anything else. PAUSE. A mere pause, and opening yourself up to the possibility of…well, the possible.

You can’t see an opportunity if your eyes aren’t even open. What’s funnier still is that when you’re busily distracted you’re not even aware of the potential that you’re missing something!

That’s not some kind of riddle there, and it’s meaning is only best exemplified through actual experience. If you’ve had a moment where you cognitively shifted your focus, veered slightly outside your routine, and you had a MOMENT, experienced something unexpected that just, made you smile. That momentous experience of freedom is what I’m describing.

You chose to be free and in that moment you opened yourself up to have that smile….however small the experience was that brought it to your face.

You see, to get that smile, that satisfaction, doesn’t require you to veer wildly off course to the point where you recklessly abandon all goals or tasks at hand. No, it can be as simple as putting the other shoe on first…the tiniest change of routine just to show yourself that you CAN do it out of order. Who knows, you may like it. Just knowing you CAN often causes a much larger shift in perspective. You wonder what else you CAN do.

So be free. Think with an open and free mind. I challenge you to do tiny things outside of your routine and see if, by Jove, you like it.

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23. 2015 Walk for the Animals Volunteer T-Shirt

WFTA2015 T-shirt 1 FINAL-01

Each year I have the privilege to illustrate and design the T-shirts worn by all the volunteers and staff at the Humane Society of Broward County’s huge fundraiser “Walk for the Animals.” The dogs on this T-shirt are very special to me. They are the friends of Small Dog, the lead character in my picture book series.

The Walk will be held February 28th this year. If you love dogs, this is a must attend event!

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24. Greetings from Hogwarts

This week me, my family, and my friend Jenae are hanging out at Universal Studios Orlando for the Harry Potter Celebration. It has been an absolutely amazing experience. This is my third time to HP world, but my first time going to Diagon Alley, and let me just tell you IT IS INCREDIBLE!! Riding the Hogwarts Express was a moment I can't even describe. The Gringotts ride is probably my favorite

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25. January Reflections

In January I reviewed 64 books.

Board Books:
  1. Curious George's Crane. 2014. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 12 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  2. Curious George's Train. 2014. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 12 pages. [Source: Review copy]
Picture Books:
  1. Sleeping Cinderella and Other Princess Mix-Ups. Stephanie Clarkson. Illustrated by Brigette Barrager. 2015. [January 2015] Scholastic. 40 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  2. The Case for Loving: The Fight for Interracial Marriage. Selina Alko. Illustrated by Sean Qualls. 2015. [January 2015] Scholastic. 40 pages. [Source: Review copy] (Nonfiction)
  3. Glamourpuss. Sarah Weeks. Illustrated by David Small. 2015. [January 2015] Scholastic. 40 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  4. Millions of Cats. Wanda Gag. 1928. Penguin. 40 pages. [Source: Library]  
  5. And to Think That I Saw It On Mulberry Street. Dr. Seuss. 1937/1964. Random House. 40 pages [Source: Library] 
  6. The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins. 1938/1965. Random House. 56 pages. [Source: Library] 
  7. The King's Stilts. Dr. Seuss. 1939/1967. Random House. 56 pages. [Source: Library]
  8. Horton Hatches An Egg. Dr. Seuss. 1940/1968. Random House. 64 pages. [Source: Library]
  9. McElligot's Pool. Dr. Seuss. 1947/1974. Random House. 64 pages. [Source: Library]
  10. Xander's Panda Party. Linda Sue Park. Illustrated by Matt Phelan. 2013. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 40 pages. [Source: Library]  
  11. Please, Mr. Panda. Steve Antony. 2015. [January 2015] Scholastic. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  12. Little Red's Riding 'Hood. Peter Stein. Illustrated by Chris Gall. 2015. [February 2015] Scholastic. 40 pages. [Source: Review copy]
Early Readers/Early Chapter Books:
  1. Rescue on the Oregon Trail. (Ranger in Time #1) Kate Messner. 2015. Scholastic. 144 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  2. Eva's Treetop Festival (Owl Diaries #1) Rebecca Elliott. 2015. Scholastic. 80 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  3. Big Bad Detective Agency. Bruce Hale. 2015. Scholastic. 128 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  4. Dory Fantasmagory. Abby Hanlon. 2014. Penguin. 160 pages. [Source: Library] 
Middle Grade:
  1. El Deafo. Cece Bell. 2014. Harry N. Abrams. 233 pages. [Source: Library] 
  2. Operation Bunny. Sally Gardner. Illustrated by David Roberts. 2014. Henry Holt. 192 pages. [Source: Library]  
  3. The War That Saved My Life. Kimberly Brubaker Bradley. 2015. Penguin. 320 pages. [Source: Library]
  4. The Red Pencil. Andrea Davis Pinkney. Illustrated by Shane Evans. 2014. Little, Brown. [Source: Library] 
  5. The Question of Miracles. Elana K. Arnold. 2015. HMH. 240 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  6. Cartwheeling in Thunderstorms. Katherine Rundell. 2014. Simon & Schuster. 256 pages. [Source: Library] Mild spoilers.  
  7. The Perfect Place. Teresa E. Harris. HMH. 272 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  8. The Windy Hill. Cornelia Meigs. 1921. 210 pages. [Source: Bought]
  9. The Trumpeter of Krakow. Eric P. Kelly. 1928. Simon & Schuster. 208 pages. [Source: Library] 
  10. Chasing Freedom: The Life Journeys of Harriet Tubman and Susan B. Anthony Inspired by Historical Facts. Nikki Grimes. Illustrated by Michele Wood. 2015. [January 2015] Scholastic. 56 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  11. The Paper Cowboy. Kristin Levine. 2014. Penguin. 352 pages. [Source: Library]  
  12. The Castle Behind Thorns. Merrie Haskell. 2014. HarperCollins. 336 pages. [Source: Library]
Young Adult:
  1. Audacity. Melanie Crowder. 2015. Penguin. 400 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  2. The Infinite Sea (Fifth Wave #2) Rick Yancey. 2014. Penguin. 320 pages. [Source: Library]
  3. This Side of Home. Renee Watson. 2015. Bloomsbury USA. 336 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  4. It's The End of the World As We Know It. Saci Lloyd. 2015. Hachette Books. 288 pages. [Source: Review copy]
Adult Fiction:
  1. Station Eleven. Emily St. John Mandel. 2014. Knopf Doubleday. 352 pages. [Source: Library] 
  2. The Case of the Velvet Claws. (Perry Mason #1) Erle Stanley Gardner. 1933. Random House. 215 pages. [Source: Bought] 
  3. Brave New World. Aldous Huxley. 1932. 268 pages. [Source: Bought] 
  4. The Worthing Saga. Orson Scott Card. 1990. Tor. 465 pages. [Source: Bought]  
  5. To Dream in the City of Sorrows. (Babylon 5: Book #9). Kathryn M. Drennan. Based on the series by J. Michael Straczynski. 1997. Random House. 352 pages.  [Source: Bought]
  6. Twelve Drummers Drumming. Father Christmas Mystery #1. C.C. Benison. 2011. Doubleday. 384 pages. [Source: Library]
  7. Eleven Piper Piping. Father Christmas Mystery #2. C.C. Benison. 2012. Delacorte. 474 pages. [Source: Library]
  8. Ten Lords A-Leaping. Father Christmas #3. C.C. Benison. 2013. Delacorte. 512 pages. [Source: Library]
  9. Their Eyes Were Watching God. Zora Neale Hurston. 1937. Harper Perennial Modern Classics. 256 pages. [Source: Bought]   
  10. Jezebel's Daughter. Wilkie Collins. 1880. 304 pages. [Source: Bought]
  11. Trifles. A Play in One Act. Susan Glaspell. 1916. 20 pages. [Source: Read online
  12. Lucy Maud Montgomery Short Stories: 1905-1906. Dodo Press. 260 pages. [Source: Bought]
Adult Nonfiction:
  1. The Art of the English Murder. Lucy Worsley. 2014. Pegusus Books. 336 pages. [Source: Library] 
  2. The Girl With The White Flag. Tomiko Higa. Translated by Dorothy Britton. 1989. 130 pages. [Source: Bought]
  3. In the Kingdom of Ice: The Grand and Terrible Polar Voyage of the USS Jeannette. Hampton Sides. 2014. 454 pages. [Source: Library]
Christian Fiction:
  1. Like a Flower in Bloom. Siri Mitchell. 2015. Bethany House. 384 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  2. Remember the Lilies. (Women of Courage #3) Liz Tolsma. 2015. [February] Thomas Nelson. 352 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  3. Love Gently Falling. Melody Carlson. 2015. Center Street. 192 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  4. Lizzy & Jane. Katherine Reay. 2014. 339 pages. [Source: Bought] 
  5. The Bracelet. Dorothy Love. 2014. Thomas Nelson. 336 pages. [Source: Review copy
Christian Nonfiction: 
  1. Living As A Christian: Teachings from First Peter. A.W. Tozer. 2010. Regal. 224 pages. [Source: Bought]
  2. Weighed and Wanting Addresses on the Ten Commandments. D.L. Moody. 1898. The Bible Institute. 128 pages. [Source: Bought]
  3. Behold the King of Glory: A Narrative of the Life, Death, and Resurrection of Jesus Christ. Russ Ramsey. 2015. Crossway. 240 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  4. Exalting Jesus in Matthew. (Christ Centered Exposition) David Platt. 2013. B&amp;H. 400 pages. [Source: Review copy]  
  5. Living by the Book. Howard G. Hendricks and William D. Hendricks. 1991. Moody. 350 pages. [Source: Borrowed]
  6. Last Words of Jesus. Stu Epperson. 2015. Worthy Inspired. 176 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  7. Don't Give Up, Don't Give In. Lessons From An Extraordinary Life. Louis Zamperini and David Rensin. 2014. 272 pages. [Source: Library] 
  8. Autopsy of a Deceased Church: 12 Ways to Keep Yours Alive. Thom S. Rainer. 2014. B&H. 112 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  9. Meeting God in Mark. Rowan Williams. 2015. Westminster John Knox. 108 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  10. How To Worship Jesus Christ. Joseph S. Carroll. Foreword by John F. MacArthur, Jr. 1984/1991. Moody Publishers. 90 pages. [Source: Bought]

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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