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1. Writing and Illustrating Stories by Bob Graham

Bob Graham, author and illustrator of numerous picture books, closes out TWT’s Author Spotlight today.

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2. Deepen The Protagonist to Readers By Challenging His or Her Moral Beliefs

When we sit down to brainstorm a character, we think about possible qualities, flaws, quirks, habits, likes and dislikes that they might have. Then to dig deeper, we assemble their backstory, plotting out who influenced them, what experiences shaped them (both good and bad) and which emotional wounds pulse beneath the surface. All of these things help us gain a clearer sense of who our characters are, what motivates them, and ultimately, how they will behave in the story.

soulBut how often do we think about our protagonist’s morality? It’s easy to just make the assumption that he or she is “good” and leave it at that.

And, for the most part, the protagonist is good–that’s why he or she is the star of the show. The protagonist’s moral code dictates which positive traits are the most prominent (attributes like loyalty, kindness, tolerance, being honorable or honest, to name a few) and how these will in turn influence every action and decision.

In real life, most people want to believe they know right from wrong, and that when push comes to shove, they’ll make the correct (moral) choice. People are generally good, and unless you’re a sociopath, no one wants to go through life hurting people. Sometimes it can’t be avoided, but most try to add, not take away, from their interactions and relationships.

To feel fully fleshed, our characters should mimic real life, meaning they too have strong beliefs, and like us, think their moral code is unshakable. But while it might seem it, morality is not black and white. It exists in the mists of grey.

prisonersIn the movie Prisoners, Hugh Jackman’s plays Keller, a law-abiding, respectful man and loving father. But when his daughter is abducted and police are ineffective at questioning the person he believes to be responsible, he is forced into a moral struggle.

Keller needs answers, but to obtain them, he must be willing to do things he never believed himself capable of. Finally, to gain his daughter’s freedom, he kidnaps the suspect and tortures him repeatedly.

In each session, Keller battles with his own humanity, but his belief that this man knows where his daughter is outweighs his disgust for what he must do. It is not only Keller’s actions that makes the movie compelling, it is the constant moral war within the grey that glues us to the screen.

Extreme circumstances can cause morals to shift. What would it take for your “moral” protagonist to make an immoral choice?

Is your character deeply honest? What might push her to lie about something important?

Is your character honorable? What would force him to act dishonorably?

Is your character kind? How could life break her so that she does something maliciously hurtful?

When your protagonist is forced to enter a grey area that causes them to question what is right and wrong…this is where compelling conflict blooms!

YOUR TURN: Have you built in situations that force the hero to evaluate his morality? If not, what can you do within the scope of your story to push him into the grey where he must wrestle with his beliefs? What event might send him to the edge of himself, of who he is, and possibly force him to step across the line dividing right and wrong?

Tools to help you understand your character better:

The Reverse Backstory Tool: Hit all the highlights on your hero’s backstory reel, including his Emotional Wound & The Lie He Believes About Himself

The Character Target Tool: Set the path of your hero’s positive traits, spiraling out from Moral based attributes

The Character Pyramid Tool: Plot your character’s flaws that stem from a Wounding Event &visualize how these flaws present as behaviors & thoughts

(& even more tools HERE)

Originally posted at IWSG
Image #1 Brenkee @ Pixabay

The post Deepen The Protagonist to Readers By Challenging His or Her Moral Beliefs appeared first on WRITERS HELPING WRITERS™.

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3. Press Release Fun: Echo Wins History Award

Ach. I miss this award. I served on it once and suggested titles for consideration twice. Be sure to check out the honors as well. There are some surprises there that made me really happy.

THE NEW-YORK HISTORICAL SOCIETY ANNOUNCES

2016 CHILDREN’S HISTORY BOOK PRIZE

GOES TO PAM MUñOZ RYAN FOR ECHO

 

NEW YORK, NY – May 25, 2016—Dr. Louise Mirrer, President and CEO of the New-York Historical Society, announced today that author Pam Muñoz Ryan will receive New-York Historical’s 2016 Children’s History Book Prize for Echo (Scholastic Press, 2015). The prize annually awards $10,000 to the best American history book, fiction or non-fiction, for middle readers ages 9–12. This year’s award will be presented by New York City Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña on June 2 at 12:30 pm at New-York Historical’s Robert H. Smith Auditorium.

“We are pleased to present our 2016 Children’s History Book Prize to Pam Muñoz Ryan,” said Dr. Mirrer. “Echo is a richly imagined and structurally innovative book that reflects our mission to make history accessible to children through compelling narratives that allow them to develop a personal connection to historical subjects.”

Muñoz Ryan’s Echo beautifully weaves together the individual stories of a boy in Germany during the early 1930s, two orphans in Pennsylvania during the mid-1930s, and a Mexican girl in California in the early 1940s as the same harmonica lands in their lives, binding them by an invisible thread of destiny.  All the children face daunting challenges—rescuing a father from the Nazis, keeping a brother out of an orphanage, and protecting the farm of a Japanese family during internment—until their suspenseful solo stories converge in an orchestral crescendo.

“The theme of standing up to prejudice and injustice and how these struggles are intertwined in the lives of these children from different geographic, cultural, and ethnic backgrounds resonated with our educator, historian, and student jurors,” said Jennifer Schantz, New-York Historical’s Executive Vice President & COO, who helps oversee the DiMenna Children’s History Museum. “The jury also felt this page-turner of a novel provided a great entry point for teachers and children to discuss intolerance that continues to exist today.”

The New-York Historical Society annually celebrates the work of an outstanding American history children’s book writer and publisher with the Children’s History Book Prize. The recipient is selected by a jury comprised of librarians, educators, historians, and families of middle schoolers. The three finalists for the prize included Rhythm Ride: A Road Trip Through the Motown Sound by Andrea Davis Pinkney, I Don’t Know How the Story Ends by J.B. Cheaney, and My Near Death Adventures (99% True) by Alison DeCamp.

At the New-York Historical Society and its Dimenna Children’s History Museum, visitors are encouraged to explore history through characters and narrative. The Children’s History Book Prize is part of New-York Historical’s larger efforts on behalf of children and families. DiMenna regularly presents programs where families explore history together. At its popular monthly family book club Reading into History, families discuss a historical fiction or non-fiction book they previously read at home, share their reactions, discover related artifacts and documents, and meet historians and authors. New-York Historical’s work with middle school readers and their families is grounded in the belief that offering creative opportunities to engage the entire family helps young readers grow and thrive.

 

About the Author

Pam Muñoz Ryan is the recipient of the Newbery Honor, the Kirkus Prize, the NEA’s Human and Civil Rights Award, and the Virginia Hamilton Literary Award for multicultural literature. She has written more than 30 books, which have garnered countless accolades, including two Pura Belpre Awards, the Jane Addams Children’s Boko Award, and the Schneider Family Book Award.

 

About the New-York Historical Society

The New-York Historical Society, one of America’s pre-eminent cultural institutions, is dedicated to fostering research and presenting history and art exhibitions and public programs that reveal the dynamism of history and its influence on the world of today. Founded in 1804, New-York Historical has a mission to explore the richly layered history of New York City and State and the country, and to serve as a national forum for the discussion of issues surrounding the making and meaning of history.

 

About the DiMenna Children’s History Museum

The DiMenna Children’s History Museum at the New-York Historical Society presents 350 years of New York and American history through character-based pavilions, interactive exhibits and digital games, and the Barbara K. Lipman Children’s History Library. The DiMenna Children’s History Museum encourages families to explore history together through permanent installations and a wide range of family learning programs for toddlers, children, and preteens.

Press Contacts

Ines Aslan

New-York Historical Society

ines.aslan@nyhistory.org

212-485-9263

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4. Capital of Texas Triathlon Preview

Monday I'm going to be running in the 25th Capital of Texas Triathlon!  It's my first triathlon (Olympic distance) in twenty years and I'm pretty jazzed.

Steely-eyed determination 20 years ago. :-)

One of the great things about triathlons (and running races in general) is that you get to occupy unusual spaces: the last ones I did were Leon's Triathlon in Hammond, Indiana, a couple of Bud Light triathlons and others in Chicago. Leon's had a swim in Wolf Lake (shudder), followed by a cycle leg on an elevated highway that ran past the old U.S. Steel plant, and a run leg through an industrial downtown.  The Chicago ones were on the lakefront, just north of Navy Pier, with a bike on Lake Shore Drive and a run along the lake.

2013 CapTexTri
The CapTexTri also has a great location in downtown Austin, with a 1.5k swim in Lady Bird Lake; a 40k (24.8 mile) bike on a quadruple loop through downtown Austin, including Congress Avenue and Cesar Chavez; and a 10k (6.2 mile) run through Zilker Park.

The only thing I'm not too keen on is the bike route, since it requires you to do the same loop four times.  I don't like loop routes because I always think of how many more times I have to do the thing...Still, going up and down Congress Avenue without any cars is going to be pretty cool. As long as there are no poles in the middle of the road, I should be okay. :-).

Don't ask.

I feel fairly good about my training.  I've maintained good running mileage after the Austin Marathon and Austin Distance Festival and got some good workouts in even while traveling doing school visits.
On Stone Arch Bridge in Minneapolis
The swim is probably my weakest event -- I could stand to do more work on technique and probably do more open water swimming, but the distance won't be an issue.  Also, Lady Bird Lake isn't going to have waves (I seem to recall a couple of triathlons in Chicago with 3-4 foot waves on Lake Michigan (and this was on the near side of the breakwater).  Also, I won't have to deal with a wet suit.  My biggest concern is to not get kicked in the face. :-).
Lady Bird Lake during 2013 CapTexTri
The bike I'm feeling good about as well.  I'll be using the bike I used for my triathlons back in the day - a Trek 1000 I bought when I was in grad school for $450 (a guy at one bicycle shop here tried to sell me a new one, asking if I had a "nostalgic attachment" to it.). I do, but I also don't think a new bike is going to drastically transform my performance.  At least not $2000 worth :-). (A guy at another bike shop told me the Trek 1000 was his first road bike and he wished he still had it.  It's possible he was being kind :-)).

Tomorrow is packet picket, bike drop-off, and a chance to scope out the transition area, which I'll need because I can't see without my glasses...:-)

Oh, well.  Onward!












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5. Burmese 'House of Literature'

       In The Myanmar Times Zon Pann Pwint reports that 'plans for a writers' hub inch closer to fruition' in Rangoon, in House of Literature.
       The selected building/site may have some symbolic appeal but looks hideous; still, if they can finally get this done (if: "the planned House of Literature project faces major delays", even now ...), that would be pretty neat.

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6. Plastic Brain

The Brain That Changes Itself: Stories of Personal Triumph from the Frontiers of Brain Science By Norman Doidge, M.D. Published by Penguins Group (Canada) 2007 This book is about brain plasticity and the miraculous abilities of our brains to compensate for damage, natural or inflicted, to learn or relearn tasks and actually change themselves to adapt without drugs or operations. Norman Doidge is a psychiatrist, psychoanalyst and researcher at Columbia University and the University of Toronto. He took the time and made the effort to visit many contemporaries he calls “neuroplasticians “.He outlines the history of neuroplasticity, its proponents and opponents. Neuroplasticity: Neuro is for “neuron”, the nerve cells in our brains and nervous systems. Plastic is for “changeable, malleable, modifiable” A lot of wonderful discoveries took place in the 20th Century, yet Norman Doidge says in his preface that brain plasticity is “one of the most extraordinary discoveries of the 20th Century”. The results of experiments with the human brain which lead him to that conclusion are astonishing. In a futuristic science like neurology one would expect a more progressive attitude in its practitioners, but the same old attitudes appeared there too and every scientist-doctor-researcher who bucked the trend and suggested the possibility of plasticity was attacked because the establishment had concluded that the brain was hardwired to certain functions. The notion of plasticity was so revolutionary that those who believed in it wouldn’t dare to use the term in writing for many years. Those who knew brain plasticity was a reality were vilified, ridiculed and obstructed at each step of the way. Doidge pulls no punches when he describes the difficulties these people went through. As usual, the rebels led the way. One of the biggest misconceptions about this book is that it is written only for the super intelligent. It isn’t really. The stories of experiments with monkeys, rats and mice which make up many of the eleven chapters of this book are told clearly and simply. The extraordinary results in humans as well as animals are described in detail in plain language. There is a section at the end of the book, just before the appendix, called Notes and References, in which Doidge includes verifications and explanations of quotes, ideas and concepts, some requiring whole pages. The Brain That Changes Itself is a hopeful book which is well worth the read. This edition has 427 pages including. eleven chapters, two appendices, Notes and References, a forward, an acknowledgements section and an index.

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7. The Kindness of Strangers

I'm Thankful for the Kindness of Strangers

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8. Wolfpack, to be found in the third in line


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9. ‘Symphony of Two Minds’ by Valere Amirault (Exclusive Premiere)

Cartoon Brew presents the Internet world premiere of "Symphony of Two Minds," a CG short unlike any you've seen before.

The post ‘Symphony of Two Minds’ by Valere Amirault (Exclusive Premiere) appeared first on Cartoon Brew.

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10. The Hotel of the Three Roses review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Augusto De Angelis 1936 mystery, The Hotel of the Three Roses, the second to come out from Pushkin Press, in their Vertigo imprint, this year (with another to follow).

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11. जरा मुस्कुरा दो – मोदी सरकार के दो साल

  जरा मुस्कुरा दो – मोदी सरकार के दो साल मोदी सरकार की दो साल की उपलब्धियां …. जरा मुस्कुरा दो … ना जाने ये नाम किसने सुझाया होगा .  .. यकीनन भाजपा का तो नही होगा  क्योकि इसका मतलब साफ साफ है कि मुस्कान आ ही नही रही है…जब दो साल कुछ हुआ ही […]

The post जरा मुस्कुरा दो – मोदी सरकार के दो साल appeared first on Monica Gupta.

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12. मोबाईल फोन बनाम कैंसर का खतरा

  मोबाईल फोन बनाम कैंसर का खतरा पहले मैगी फिर ब्रैड और अब मोबाईल … हे भगवान किस किस से बचे और कैसे बचे … थोडी देर पहले मणि मेरे लिए ब्रैड पकौडा बना कर लाई क्योकि मुझे बहुत पसंद है …. या था !!! मैने उसे बडा सा लेक्चर दे दिया कि क्या है […]

The post मोबाईल फोन बनाम कैंसर का खतरा appeared first on Monica Gupta.

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13. L.A. Studio Cosmic Toast Shut Down Without Paying Its Artists: A Cartoon Brew Investigation

A Los Angeles animation studio creating work that appeared on Disney and Nick-owned platforms didn't pay it artists for months and suddenly shut down.

The post L.A. Studio Cosmic Toast Shut Down Without Paying Its Artists: A Cartoon Brew Investigation appeared first on Cartoon Brew.

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14. Presidential Polar Bear Post Card Project No. 160 - 5.27.16


Arctic Blues

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15. Doing a Demo Now on Facebook Live


I'm about to do an experimental demo on the new platform Facebook Live at 2:55 EST.

It will be a clash of technologies: iPad meets typewriter meets sketchbook. Tell your friends!

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16. Knitting Club for Tweens – a step-by-step how-to guide

Hand knitting has been around for arguably thousands of years, though in modern times its popularity has waxed and waned.  Waldorf schools around the world have long recognized that teaching young children handicrafts helps develop their fine motor and analytical skills. The great thing is, libraries can promote knitting, too! Currently, knitting is very popular and many libraries have started their own knitting circles. Here are several reasons to start a knitting circle for tweens at your library and a step-by-step list on how to get started:

Step 1

Start a knitting club for adults. My adult knitting group meets in the evenings right near the children’s area, so we’ve garnered a lot of interest from the kids by simply existing. They want to know all about knitting, how we started, what clothes we’ve made, etc. Most kids ultimately ask if I can teach them how to knit. We have a diverse group of men and women in our adult group, and in turn I’ve had both boys and girls show interest in learning. Having a multifaceted group is a great way to highlight that knitting is not just for women.

Step 2

Find someone who wants to teach kids how to knit. If you are a knitter, it could be you. If not, contact your local knitting guild or meet up group to see if one of their members has an interest in teaching kids how to knit.

Step 3

Gather your materials! You’ll need yarn, needles, scissors, tapestry needles, and knitting books from your collection to get the kids started once they’ve masted the basics of knit and purl. Ask your adult patrons if they can donate materials or reach out to your library friends group for the funds needed to purchase some knitting paraphernalia.

Step 4

Pick a date. I find that knitting clubs for adults tend to be the most successful if they occur at the same time and place weekly, so pick a date and time when your tweens will usually be able to attend. We have our summer knitting club on craft day, the same time every week!

Step 5

Publicize! Spread the word about your knitting club at school visits and outreach, and on library social media and websites. It also helps to reach out to your local knitting guild so they can publicize for you!

Kate Eckert is an artist, knitter, and mother of one. She is also a member of the School Age Programs & Services Committee and is a Children’s Librarian at the Free Library of Philadelphia. She tweets @8bitstate and may also be contacted at eckertk AT freelibrary.org.

The post Knitting Club for Tweens – a step-by-step how-to guide appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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17. “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child” Midnight Release Party Slated for GeekyCon!

GeekyCon 2016 has just announced that it is creating a large-scale, old-school, Harry Potter release party to celebrate the release of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. The book comes out on July 31, 2016, the last day of the convention, which means that it will be the site of one of the biggest midnight parties in the country.

And this party is just one of all the cool and amazing events and activities scheduled for the weekend long festivity that is GeekyCon. As GeekyCon was once a Harry Potter-only convention and is planned by the same crew that brought us LeakyCon, it is backed by and attended by some of the biggest Harry Potter fans on the planet. As many of the people who run GeekyCon are still the biggest Potterheads, and have attended more than their fair share of Harry Potter book parties from 2004-2007, they decided to recreate the Harry Potter Book Midnight Release Party experience!

The party will be hosted by classic Potter podcast MuggleCast and PotterCast, and many others with experience and knowledge of Pottermania. The fun will start at 7 PM with the convention’s traditional Esther Earl Rocking Charity Ball. Starting at 10:00 PM, festivities will convert themselves into a huge Harry Potter and the Cursed Child midnight book release . In tried and true Harry Potter Book Midnight Release party fashion, there will be a set of games, activities, and events to take part of–including, but not limited to:

  • Costume Contests
  • Sorting
  • Trivia and other games
  • Wizard Chess
  • Quidditch
  • Wizard Rock performances
  • Face painting and other crafts
  • Video retrospectives
  • Appearances from special guests
  • Put your name in the Goblet of Fire! (Submit your predictions, and we’ll go through them together at Sunday’s programming!)
  • Share in the Pensieve: Submit memories about Harry Potter and your experiences; we’ll be sharing them throughout the night.
  • And a lot more!

At midnight, everyone will begin to receive their book copy of the Cursed Child script! You must reserve a copy, and purchase will happen on site. Full, detailed instructions will shortly follow this announcement.

Fans in the Florida area, and maybe those who want to apparate further, can choose to come to just the party (which includes the ball) for $20, to enjoy the night’s festivities. If you are a full registered GeekyCon attendee, you can join us for the whole weekend — during which there will be a lot of Harry Potter related festivities and programming. Sunday we’ll be discussing Cursed Child almost nonstop!

Screen Shot 2016-05-26 at 11.55.58 PM

Are you pumped up yet? We are so excited!

For more information about GeekyCon, visit the GeekyCon website. For tickets to this absolutely fantastic geeky convention, please visit this link.

 

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18. Reading thoughts.... a mindwrap




Hi everyone and welcome to Storywraps.  Today I am going to talk about some reading ideas that perhaps will get you thinking and inspired ...

Have you ever struggled with the question, "Is is ok for me to stop reading a book even though I haven't finished it?"  "Close cover, put down and ... delete.... gone!"  

A lot of people stuggle with this concept because they have been taught that every book you pick up to read should  be read to its completion.  What are your feelings on this? What do you do? As for me? I struggle with that because personally I feel I should read the entire book, like it or not.  










Unwrapping some things to consider:




It's perfectly alright for you to close a book forever if it's not your cup of  tea.





We read books either to learn something or for enjoyment and entertainment.  If the book your reading does not interest you, does not invigorate you, or is just plain boring then by all means put it aside because there are millions of other great books out there that will satisfy your reading pleasures. I promise!




Reading is supposed to be fun and engaging so if you find yourself not paying attention to the narrative, if you are distracted by every movement or noise around you, or if you don't even care about the plight of the characters or where the plot is going.... just stop. It's not happening for you with this book so close it down and move on.







If you feel badly about giving up the book you can always skim the rest of it hoping perhaps things will get better and then be able to say to yourself at least you tried to get the drift of it and complete it.  You can also give yourself some boundaries such as reading the first 50 pages or so. If you decide that the book is not your taste by then, with no guilt or apprehension, put it aside.  It's that simple.  You have to give yourself permission to do it and it's perfectly legal and ok to do so.  You are in charge, no one else, so take authority and nix the it.






Dr. Seuss put it so eloquently didn't he?  If magic is not in the book you are holding and presently reading then cast it aside and find the one that will make you stay up all night to discover the wonderment and magic within.  Great books will never disappoint you and they make the best lifelong friends ever. You can trust me on that. 




###





Unwrapping an inspirational story for you...








Schoolteachers shouldn’t be the only ones promoting reading; even local barbers can do their part to help spur a love of literature.
Don’t believe me? Meet Courtney Holmes, a barber at Spark Family Hair Salon in Dubuque, Iowa. The inspirational barber created a fun idea as part of the local Back to School Bash held in Comiskey Park. The father of two decided to attend the event with clippers in hand and offer free haircuts to kids that read to him.
The community loved it; both parents and kids found it an awesome way to get a new haircut for the upcoming school year while also sharpening their reading skills. Caitlin Daniels, a grade-level reading coordinator with the Community Foundation of Greater Dubuque said, “It’s great. All the kids, they want to have a good haircut to go back to school. They’re paying through reading.”
Reading out loud can be very difficult and even nerve-racking for children, and so Holmes’ goal was to help make them feel more comfortable about doing so.
In an interview with USA Today Holmes explained how it worked: “The kids would come in, and I would say, “Go to the table and get a book you might like, and if you can’t read it, I’ll help you understand and we can read it together.”
Holmes had no idea how the turn out would be, “To be honest, I was amazed. The line started with four kids, and next thing I knew it was like 20 kids, all waiting for a haircut and eager to read.”
Source:  earthporm.com   












How cool is this guy?  Wow! I am so impressed. He needs a medal for doing what he does.  Don't you agree?




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I put hours of work finding the best kid's books to review for you each day.  If you enjoy visiting Storywraps and would like to donate something for my time and effort I would greatly appreciate it.

Go to the top of my blog on the right hand corner (above my photo) and please donate what you feel lead to give.  The amount you donate and the frequency you donate is totally up to you.  I thank you in advance for your support.  I love what I do and appreciate any amount that you may give so I can make our community even better.  Thanks a million! 



 


Read on and read always!


It's a wrap.




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19. School Visit Tips

Here are some basic things to keep in mind when you're thinking about doing school visits.

http://www.newmememedia.com/2016/02/23/school-visits-authors/

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20. Game Theory By Barry Jonsberg. Sydney: Allen and Unwin, 2026.


Jamie is a sixteen-year-old maths whiz. Summerlee, his older sister, is in the grip of a wild phase. Tensions at home run high.

When Summerlee wins a 7.5-million-dollar lottery, she cuts all ties with her family. But money can cause trouble - big trouble. And when Jamie's younger sister Phoebe is kidnapped for a ransom, the family faces a crisis almost too painful to bear.

Jamie thinks he can use game theory - the strategy of predicting an opponent's actions - to get Phoebe back. But can he outfox the kidnapper? Or is he putting his own and his sister's life at risk?


The fascinating thing about this novel is that, like many of Barry Jonsberg's other books, it has an ending you can't quite predict, a little twist that makes you say, "Oh!" It is one I love but can't share because of spoilers. I did suspect who the kidnapper was, then thought, "Well, it can't be, because..." but it was. But that isn't the twist I was thinking of. There is a delicious irony about it. 

Jamie is certain he can work out how to find his sister and her kidnapper through game theory; when his opponent seems to know as much about it as he does, he even rather enjoys the challenge, worried as he is for his beloved little sister. This is his major flaw and makes the book more interesting, even though the reader might, like me, be just a little disappointed that the book isn't actually about that. 

I would have liked a little more detail about the kidnapper before the long, detailed explanation at the end. Although I suspected who it was, the character traits that affected what the villain did were not so evident in the build up. 

Still, it's a good, exciting thriller that should suit boys from about fourteen up. 


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21. J.K. Rowling: ‘Harry Potter and The Cursed Child’ WILL Make You Cry!

This morning, one Potter fan on Twitter had a very important question for J.K. Rowling: ‘Will the Cursed Child make me cry?’

J.K. Rowling tweeted back pronto, and now it’s official: if you don’t cry, they haven’t done their job right!

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With preview performances starting next month, we’ll be able to test Jo’s statements and confirm whether the play is a tear-jerker. We have absolutely no doubts that we’ll be sobbing through the entire show (and scriptbook)!

Take a look behind the scenes with J.K. Rowling here!

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22. Children’s Book Illustrations from British Library

via Lines and Colors :: a blog about drawing, painting, illustration, comics, concept art and other visual arts http://ift.tt/1TF4uFB

Children's Book Illustrations from British Library
As part of the huge trove of public domain images being posted on Flicker — which I reported in 2013 — the British Library has assemble a large collection of children’s book illustrations.

As is often the case with these kinds of large scale image resources, best results come from a bit of patience and digging.

Some of the illustrations are not directly attributed to the artists, but reference is given to the books from which they were taken.

[Via DCAD Library and Century Past History on Twitter]

 
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23. Theatre Review- Richard III and Much Ado About Nothing by William Shakespeare, performed by The Handlebards

Review written with input from two of my friends who saw it with me, Lottie and Amy. Their opinion is reflected here too. 


Title: "Richard III" and "Much Ado About Nothing"
Writer: William Shakespeare
Director: Emma Sampson  (Richard III), Nicola Samer (Much Ado)
Performed by: The Handlebards
Major cast: Liam Mansfield, Matt Maltby, Paul Hillar, and Stanton Plummer-Cambridge
Seen at: The Museum of the Order of St. John
Review: In Richard III, Richard, Duke of Gloucester murders his way to the throne and doesn't stop once he's there. In Much Ado About Nothing, plots to set up and break up pairs of lovers happen with varying degrees of success. The Handlebards, four actors who cycle with set, props and scenery to wherever they're going, are taking these shows on a tour.
I was incredibly looking forwards to seeing these. The comedy of the Handlebards that I'd seen before, plus one of my favourite shows (Much Ado) plus one of the plays I knew had many murders (Richard III) all combined to make me think I must see these shows somehow.
Both shows are imbued with the Handlebard style-brightly colour coding the actors, easy to remove and/or alter accessories, inventive ways of holding props to symbolise characters on stage when a scene needs more than four people on stage, audience participation, and epic levels of multiroling, energy, and enthusiasm.
The four actors are all new to being part of the Handlebards, and work together well. Liam and Paul play lovers in both plays (Richard and Anne and Benedick and Beatrice) and in both play off each other well, especially in Much Ado when both believe the other to be in love with them. All four of them have an extensive range of physical movement and  voices and facial expressions that differentiate the characters, which is necessary when most of them are learning about 20 characters each.
The music was good.  In Richard III, Richard's theme music is overdone in part one of the play (the same music and choreography each time means it loses its effect), or maybe it seems that way  due to the fact the theme was the only music in part one; part two had much more musical accompaniment (and occasional musical feature) so the recurrences seemed more integrated. It is especially performed well on a mop bass with jazz-style singing. Much Ado About Nothing has a lot more music, which is used throughout for scene transitions, comedy, and where the script calls for singing. They all sing and play their instruments well.
On to each performance specifically. I only knew that Richard III was about a lot of murder to become king; and  I was very pleased with how easy it was to follow. I think the multiroling helped with this a lot. With most Histories, I often see most the cast being men who are all named after parts of England and who all look the same and are very easy to mix up. but here, the huge differences between characterisation made it easy to tell what's happening. Despite all the murder, it's played pretty much as a full-scale comedy- timing, music, Richard's movements, the murder weapons.... oh and the ghosts. That was a most wonderful scene involving lots of bedclothes and wooooooing and the opposite of what you'd expect the souls of the dead haunting their murderer. The whole audience was laughing throughout this scene, and the whole play. It was a brilliant atmosphere and a great night.
Much Ado about Nothing was sadly not as good as I was hoping. It may be because we all studied it and loved it and know it, that it was easy for us to notice little slips and where they cut or shortened some of our favourite bits, such as Beatrice's "double heart for his single one" line, and Benedick's   listing of what he wants in a woman, which relates to his longer speech after his tricking scene. I am also used to seeing this performed at pretty much breakneck speed (like at their Richard III speed), and this felt comparatively slow in parts.  I think what they had in mind would have been brilliant, but the fact that  some things just didn't go as planned, such as scene changes and parts of the set starting to fall down, got in their way. They really did do their best at whatever the circumstances threw at them-Beatrice's temporary deafness being a highlight of their improv. In addition, the Watch scenes were good, I loved Stanton's ballet-dancing Claudio, and Matt made an absolutely adorable Hero.I think as they perform more, they'll get used to what they want to do and they'll get quicker, and I'd like to see Much Ado later on in the run if I can.
All this said, this is a great company. They're learning not only two plays, but multiple roles within the plays, plus cycling to wherever they need to go. Also, we did see them on the first public performances. The overall style of their acting, the huge comedy/comedic potential, the running gags both within plays and across plays, and the sheer amount of energy and connection they have with each other and the audience make the well worth coming to see.

Overall:  A high strength 4.5 tea to Richard III and a solid strength 3 tea to Much Ado About Nothing averages out to Strength 4 tea to a set of shows that you should catch if you can.


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24. Facebook Live meets a manual typewriter

Yesterday Jeanette and I decide to try out an experiment.


It's the day before graduation at Bard College. Students are roaming around campus with their parents. We place the typewriter on a table in the student center, and I arrange the sketch easel.

We hope the typewriter will lure someone to pose for an impromptu portrait. First Cullan, and then his mom, try it out.

We set up the iPad to webcast the action via Facebook Live. The first session has audio issues due to problems with our old iPad (sorry). We switch over to an Android cellphone, and then it works fine. Here's the 16 minute webcast. (Link to video).


I start sketching Jeanette, but abandon the start and turn the page when Kathleen sits down. I lay down a few lines in watercolor pencils, then launch off with brush and watercolor to place the main shapes. With progressively smaller brushes, I place the smaller details.

Kathleen, watercolor and gouache 
Thanks to everyone who joined the webcast and left a comment. Let me know in the comments what you'd like to see on a future webcast. Thanks to Kathleen, Cullan, and Joe for lending a hand and being such good sports.
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My next video tutorial "Portraits in the Wild" comes out June 13. It's full of moments like this.

"Gouache in the Wild" HD MP4 Download at Gumroad

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25. Finally Reading... The Sky So Heavy by Claire Zorn

  


Yet again there's a book which took me ages to get around to reading and now I'm whizzing my way through it. It's The Sky So Heavy by Claire Zorn, which was an Honour Book, ie runner-up in the CBCA Awards in 2014. I'm sad to say that doesn't necessarily mean that the kids are reading it. Not at my school, anyway. There are usually some overlaps between the CBCA and YABBA short lists. But only some. I think this one might have been on a YABBA short list, must check it out. 

The cover doesn't help; kids rarely pick up books with depressing grey covers. But what else can you expect from a dystopian novel about a nuclear winter? 

Imagine what it might be like to be going to school one day as normal, hearing about some nuclear missile test going on somewhere on the other side of the world and next morning waking up to dirty, almost certainly toxic, snow outside, power, communication and the Internet gone and being unable to even find out what's going on.

 It's all too frighteningly easy to imagine. 

The rest of it so far is about how people treat each other when canned and dried foods and bottled water are gradually running out and still no word of when, or if, this will end. There are decent people helping each other and others who simply go crazy. The hero, Fin, is one of the former, when his parents go missing and he's left with his younger brother to look after. 

I can see why it has been compared to John Marsden's Tomorrow series, except that at least Ellie and her friends had someone/something to fight. How can you fight nuclear winter?

Anyway, I am looking forward to seeing how it all ends! 

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