Henry David Thoreau
In honor of Charles Darwin's birthday today, I'm sharing an excerpt from a book written by his grandfather, Erasmus Darwin.
From The Temple of Nature; or, the Origin of Society: A Poem, with Philosophical Notes (1803)
"Ere Time began, from flaming Chaos hurl'd
Rose the bright spheres, which form the circling world;
Earths from each sun with quick explosions burst,
And second planets issued from the first.
Then, whilst the sea at their coeval birth,
Surge over surge, involv'd the shoreless earth;
Nurs'd by warm sun-beams in primeval caves
Organic Life began beneath the waves.
"First Heat from chemic dissolution springs,
And gives to matter its eccentric wings;
With strong Repulsion parts the exploding mass,
Melts into lymph, or kindles into gas.
Attraction next, as earth or air subsides,
The ponderous atoms from the light divides,
Approaching parts with quick embrace combines,
Swells into spheres, and lengthens into lines.
Last, as fine goads the gluten-threads excite,
Cords grapple cords, and webs with webs unite;
And quick Contraction with ethereal flame
Lights into life the fibre-woven frame.—
Hence without parent by spontaneous birth
Rise the first specks of animated earth;
From Nature's womb the plant or insect swims,
And buds or breathes, with microscopic limbs.
Some may call this work didactic, but I think it's a fine early effort at using poetry to make science accessible to the average citizen.
I do hope you'll take some time today to check out all the wonderful poetic things being shared and collected byKimberley Moran at Written Reflections. Happy poetry Friday friends!
Gonzales will succeed Mary Ann Naples who is leaving the position for a new role at the Disney Book Group. She will report to CEO Maria Rodale.
Gonzales gave this statement in the press release: “It’s an amazing opportunity and I’m thrilled to be taking on this new role. In today’s dynamic publishing landscape, Rodale has proven itself to be an industry leader at the forefront of redefining what it means to be a successful publisher. I’m looking forward to continuing to publish the biggest and best names in the wellness space and to creating even more inspiring and empowering products for our customers to engage with.”Add a Comment
Dan Radcliffe certainly has a busy schedule with his upcoming roles in Imperium and Now You See Me: The Second Act, and he is now set to star in Jungle – a thriller based on Yossi Ghinsberg’s memoir of his trip to the Amazon.
A young adventurer who trekked into the Amazon with two friends and a guide, Ghinsberg’s expedition soon took a dangerous and deadly turn. The Discovery Channel included Ghinsberg’s story in a docudrama series: I Shouldn’t Be Alive.
The psychological thriller is set to be directed by Greg McLean (Wolf Creek), and Justin Monjo is in charge of the script. Dana Lustig, Gary Hamilton and Mike Gabrawy will co-produce alongside director McLean, with Todd Fellman as executive producer.
The Hollywood Reporter reports:
Screen Australia and Screen Queensland have supported development and invested in the project, which is eyeing a shoot later in 2016 in Australia, among other locations.
“We’re extremely excited about Daniel Radcliffe joining the cast of Jungle,” says Gary Hamilton, managing director of Arclight Films. “He has an enthusiastic global fan base, a wide range as an actor as evident by his diversity of roles and is known for picking out unique and interesting projects.”
Dan is has favoured darker genres after his involvement in the Potter films. The Woman in Black, Kill Your Darlings, Horns and Victor Frankenstein all show Radcliffe’s talent for picking diverse characters to portray, and his latest appearance in Swiss Army Man (which received mixed reviews) depicts his venturing into more ‘unique’ independent films.Add a Comment
Black History Month
For Black History Month, we’ve selected articles by and/or about African American children’s book luminaries — one a day throughout February, with a roundup on Fridays. This week’s selections:
February 2016 Notes from the Horn Book: 5Q for Tanita S. Davis, more YA about families facing serious situations, apps to take preschoolers through the day, nonfiction sports picture books, plucky fantasy protagonists
Reviews of the Week:
Out of the Box:
The post Week in Review, February 8th-12th: Black History Month Week 2 appeared first on The Horn Book.Add a Comment
The best book I read in my nine-month adventure of reading books only women of color was Americanah, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. I composed and deleted several “reviews,” but I found it hard to get a handle on the material. The truth is that I loved the book for its two deftly-drawn protagonists and their story, but didn’t know quite what to make of the bloggier parts of the book. Ifemelu, one protagonist, has a blog and the book includes many of her articles, which are wry commentaries on race in the U.S. Were these an opportunity for Adichie to include her own commentary? Or was she showing the inner workings of Ifemelu’s mind? I had a hard time correlating the observations made by Ifemelu in her blog with the third-person glimpses into her mind.
The passage I think about the most is one where she gets a sales call from a long distance company and has a friendly but awkward conversation with the telemarketer. It’s a loaded scene for a simple phone conversation. She accepts his compliment that she “sounds totally American,” after she tells him she is from Nigeria, but later resents it. She tells him she calls London a lot and he says he will look up the rates for France; his astonishing ignorance of geography amuses her. She visualizes him as pudgy, white, and naive, and obsessed with video games. In particular, Ifemelu sort of pities the young man for not understanding the “roiling contradictions” of the real world.
Is an appreciation for such roiling contradictions present in her own blog entries? I don’t think they are. They are amusing for the most part, sometimes have a good insight or observation, but tend to be broad-brushed. How white people think and what black people experience are represented as universal truths without roiling contradictions. If I knew Ifemelu only through her blog, I would think what I think about many blogs: passingly entertaining, but shallow and quickly tiring.
My central question about the book is whether Adichie means for readers to be struck by that contrast. If so, it is not clear enough. If not, it is a problem with the book. Mind you, I still think it’s brilliant novel and I’ve recommended it to everyone, but the bloggy parts fail for me as a critique of social media (too subtle) and fail more if this whole notion of the wisdom attained from hardship and travel doesn’t come through in the ultimate representation of Ifemelu’s experience, her own writing.
In any case, I think there is a conversation worth having. As bloggy-type commentaries becomes a bigger and bigger part of how we gather information and form opinions, the fact that they rarely appreciate roiling contradictions is very much on my mind. The whole economy of the Internet, the way clicks are baited and things go viral, relies on being able to do a quick take: give a soft elbow to the ribs like you’re nudging a friend. Whether it’s outrage or an inside joke (or both), I feel like if the prevailing McLuhanesque message is one of affinity. We find the like minded and feel less lonely.
The problem is that those circles of affinity give us tunnel vision. We become less inclined to seek out opposing points of view, unless we mean to roast the author on Twitter with our like-minded friends. We become less inclined to express a slightly different point of view, because the response can be swift, unforgiving, and alienating. We become more inclined to go along with whatever everyone else is saying. And, over time, we become more like minded, more indoctrinated by the group, and more reactive to challenges from “outsiders.” From the inevitable fire-breathing Sanders-fan response to anything positive I say about Hillary Clinton, you’d barely know we have the same political values.
A while back a friend retweeted something about video games teaching you that when you’re encountering enemies, you know you are moving in the right direction. It had like a million retweets and comments that it was “brilliant.” For me it conveyed the central problem with getting your world view — like Imefelu’s telemarketer — from video games. You see not opponents, not good people with a different point of view, or even better information (heaven forbid), but “enemies.” And of course in video games, you never have a conversation. You hack and slash and defeat the enemies: that’s the point of the game. But I think this worldview has more to do with the effect of Twitter on a person’s worldview than playing video games.
Maybe I’m lapsing into my own simplicity by assuming people are as cut-and-dried as they seem in aggregate, and that they really stand behind every hastily retweeted platitude. But assuming that people were since in their appreciation of that sentiment, that life has no roiling contradictions, simply a path to find and follow, enemies to defeat, I have worries bigger than whatever we’re actually arguing about.
Archie Comics COO Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa has agreed to write the script. He will serve as an executive producer along with Greg Berlanti, Sarah Schecter, and Archie Comics CEO Jon Goldwater.
Here’s more from the press release: “The show will focus on the eternal love triangle of Archie Andrews, girl-next-door Betty Cooper, and rich socialite Veronica Lodge, and will include the entire cast of characters from the comic books—including Archie’s rival, Reggie Mantle, and his slacker best friend, Jughead Jones. Popular gay character Kevin Keller will also play a pivotal role. In addition to the core cast, Riverdale will introduce other characters from Archie Comics’ expansive library, including Josie and the Pussycats.”Add a Comment
I'm back to loving my life in Indiana with a grateful heart. Here is one of the reasons why.
We’ve collected the books debuting on Indiebound’s Indie Bestseller List for the week ending Feb. 7, 2016–a sneak peek at the books everybody will be talking about next month.
(Debuted at #1 in Young Adult) Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys: “World War II is drawing to a close in East Prussia, and thousands of refugees are on a desperate trek toward freedom, almost all of them with something to hide. Among them are Joana, Emilia, and Florian, whose paths converge en route to the ship that promises salvation, the Wilhelm Gustloff. Forced by circumstance to unite, the three find their strength, courage, and trust in one another tested with each step closer toward safety.” (Feb. 2016)
(Debuted at #6 in Children’s Fiction Series) The Lunar Chronicles: Stars Above by Marissa Meyer: “The enchantment continues…The universe of the Lunar Chronicles holds stories – and secrets – that are wondrous, vicious, and romantic.” (Feb. 2016)
(Debuted at #12 in Hardcover Fiction) The High Mountains of Portugal by Yann Martel: “In Lisbon in 1904, a young man named Tomás discovers an old journal. It hints at the existence of an extraordinary artifact that—if he can find it—would redefine history. Traveling in one of Europe’s earliest automobiles, he sets out in search of this strange treasure.” (Feb. 2016)Add a Comment
Steven Spielberg served as a narrator for First Book’s “Share the Magic of Storytelling” piece. The video embedded above features references to Roald Dahl’s classic children’s book, The BFG.
Here’s more from a First Book blog post: “Disney has donated a record 50 million books to First Book. To celebrate this milestone, Disney, ABC and First Book invite you to join the fourth annual Magic of Storytelling campaign through March 31.”
Spielberg directed a film adaptation based on Dahl’s novel. The theatrical release date has been set for July 01, 2016. Click here to watch the first movie teaser.Add a Comment
Tomorrow will be frigid
Or at least that's what they say,
With wind chills on the minus side -
An indoor-staying day.
But then on Tuesday, temps will rise
To 52 degrees,
Allowing all the icy spots
To rapidly unfreeze.
I never know which jacket
Is appropriate to wear
In this topsy turvy weather,
Once considered very rare.
When unpredictable's the norm
What's surely come to pass
Is, like Alice, we have ventured forth
Beyond the looking glass.
The "grand finale" of the 2016 Sydney Taylor Book Award Blog Tour is a virtual panel discussion amongst the various winning authors and illustrators. As always, this roundup is hosted by Barbara Krasner at The Whole Megillah.
And here, for the first time, is the cover of my latest children’s humorous fantasy to be released during 2016 by Crimson Cloak Publishing!
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The New York Public Library team created a map of fictional romances set in New York City. According to the organization’s blog post, a group of book experts shared some of “their favorite romantic scenes that take place in the city.”
This interactive map features several well-known spots such as The Museum of Natural History, The Strand bookstore, and the 7 train. Some of the books that provided these locations include The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion, Super Sad True Love Story by Gary Shteyngart, and The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith. Follow this link to view the map.Add a Comment
Lisa Lucas has been appointed executive director of The Board of Directors of the National Book Foundation, the organization responsible for the National Book Awards.
Lucas will succeed Harold Augenbraum who revealed that he was stepping down last March.
Lucas will become the third executive director in the Foundation’s history.
Lucas comes to after serving as publisher of Guernica, a non-profit digital magazine focused on art and politics. Prior to Guernica, Lucas served as director of education at the Tribeca Film Institute.
The executive search firm Spencer Stuart conducted the search for Lucas and a search committee of the National Book Foundation Board oversaw the process. This team included: chairman David Steinberger, the board’s vice chair Morgan Entrekin, CEO and Publisher of Grove Atlantic; Reynold Levy, President of The Robin Hood Foundation; Carolyn Reidy, President and CEO of Simon and Schuster; Calvin Sims, President and CEO of International House; and Strauss Zelnick, founder of Zelnick Media Capital.
“We went through an exhaustive search process,” stated David Steinberger, president and CEO of The Perseus Books Group and Chairman of the National Book Foundation, “and we could not be more pleased with the outcome. Lisa Lucas is a dynamic leader who has served as a passionate advocate for literature and has built an impressive track record of accomplishment in the not-for-profit world across theater, film and literature.”Add a Comment
Hi, YABCers! Today we're super excited to celebrate the cover reveal for ECHO OF THE WITCH by Jen Wilde, releasing March 1, 2016 from Limitless Publishing. Before we get to the cover, here's a note from Jen: Hey YABC! I’m Jen Wilde, and I’m so excited to reveal the cover of...Add a Comment
Last week, fellow Beat writer Alex Jones wrote this article about the TV show Arrow and it's treatment of female characters. I don't really follow Arrow, so I can't say whether I agree with his assessment. But the premise got me thinking about whether any of these shows could pass the Bechdel test, i.e. the new standard for fictional female characters.Display Comments Add a Comment
It’s nonfiction Friday and we are featuring two new books that launched this week. Mammals by Katharine Hall and Sharks and Dolphins by Kevin Kurtz!
Written for young nature enthusiasts the Compare and Contrast Book series takes children into the wild with beautiful photographs and simple text to explain complicated concepts.
Author Katharine Hall began the series with Polar Bears and Penguins showing children that these animals live at opposite ends of the earth. Then she dove into plant life with Trees and flew to the sky with Clouds. Hall set her sights on slithering and slimy creatures comparing the similarities and differences in Amphibians and Reptiles even introducing the field of herpetology to young readers. This week Mammals joins the lineup comparing animals that live on land and in the sea along with two-legged and four-legged animals.
Teaming up with Hall, aquatic educator and expert Kevin Kurtz joined the Compare and Contrast Book series releasing Sharks and Dolphins this week. The no-nonsense facts will help young readers understand that although both of these animals live in the salty ocean each has a different way of life.
Extend the learning with great activities in our Teaching Activities Guide. This, along with author interviews and more information about the series is available on each book’s homepage. Visit Mammals or Sharks and Dolphins to learn more.
Win your very own copy of each of these books on Goodreads!
Last Sunday, Dame Maggie Smith was named Best Actress at the Evening Standard British Film Awards for The Lady in the Van. The Evening Standard caught up with Dame Smith to talk about Sunday’s awards and her wide-ranging career.
On her latest win, Smith remained modest as ever, highlighting the brilliance of the actresses she was up against:
“Quite honestly, the things one was up against, it doesn’t seem fair,” she says. “Brooklyn [starring Saoirse Ronan], and 45 Years in which Charlotte [Rampling] was so terrific, and Sicario [with Emily Blunt], although I didn’t really get that…”
She puts on a Uriah Heep voice: “I just feel ever so ‘umble. It does seem awfully unfair and I can’t help feeling it’s because I am so old.”
The interview developed more on recent interviews about Smith’s early career conducted by LA Times (read here) and CBS News (here). Smith tells more about her portrayal of The Lady in the Van‘s Mary Shepherd in Nicholas Hytner’s West End production in 1999, alongside writer Alan Bennett:
“I was fascinated by the mystery of her,” says Smith. “And of Alan, the way he coped with it and put up with her. I don’t know who was the oddest. You just wonder where her head was. You think ‘confused’ but she was very clear in what she thought, trying to form these political parties and writing letters to [Seventies TV personality] Eamonn Andrews and all that.
“As I have got older I wonder how the hell she did it. Honest to God, the filming finished me off and that was sort of deluxe. The van was… cleansed from time to time.” She couldn’t have been the Good Samaritan Bennett was, she says.
A film was immediately mooted in 1999 — “the material is actually more filmic” — but for some reason was only made 15 years later. “Whether it was just that Alan decided he wanted to do it, or Nick nagged him, I don’t know,” says Smith. “It certainly wasn’t me! I didn’t go on about it at all. But I was very pleased to sort of finish her off in a way.”
The loss of Alan Rickman is also mentioned in the interview, along with the recent passing of Frank Finlay – another member of the first National Theatre company in 1962. Smith starred as Desdemona alongside Finlay (who portrayed Iago) in Laurence Oliver’s Othello:
“One night dear Frank came off stage and he flew to the prompt corner and started tearing at his eyes, like Oedipus,” she recalls. “I got very worried, and went over, and said ‘Are you all right?’. He had terribly bad sight, Frank, and was wearing contact lenses, which he never normally wore, and he said: ‘I’ve just seen Sir Laurence for the first time! And I never want to do it again.’”
She gives a husky laugh, then says: “You get a bit wobbly, you know, when you get to a certain age. It [mortality] seems to be too near.”
For the first time in her career, Maggie Smith has found herself a lot less busy, and whilst The Evening Standard picks up on the fact that she hasn’t much relished the fame brought on by her roles in Potter and Downton, Smith still finds the quietness ‘weird':
Margaret Natalie Smith was born in Romford but moved to Oxford aged four, her father a pathologist and her mother a secretary who thought young Maggie would never work on stage “with a face like that”. Actually, Smith says, she benefited from not being a “juve”, or ingénue, and has worked constantly, though latterly she’s been stuck playing “’orrible old women”. This is the first time in her career that she hasn’t had a job to go to, “and it’s weird, because suddenly there is no shape to anything”.
On the prospect of taking up future work, Smith says ‘big TV shows’ are out of the option, but on a role in film, she retains her sense of humour and answers:
“I can’t think what the part would be, can you?” she says. “It’ll be another old bag won’t it, hurr-hurr-hurr.”
Smith tends to keep her personal life away from the press, but her spoke briefly about her marriages:
Smith was married to the fiery but rackety actor Robert Stephens for seven years and they had two sons, Toby Stephens and Chris Larkin, both actors “and both out in South Africa at the moment, can you believe, doing this thing called Black Sails, being piratical”.
After her divorce from Stephens in 1974 she married playwright Beverley Cross in 1975. He died in 1998; Robert Stephens had died in 1995. Smith says it doesn’t get any easier being on her own, especially when fans intrude. But she doesn’t think she’ll enjoy an autumnal romance like the one her friend Judi Dench is having: “No, I don’t think I would get that lucky. I don’t think I would find anybody who would come anywhere near Bev.”
Given how rare interviews with Dame Maggie are, we’re very lucky to have had so many recently! Read the rest of the interview here, and make sure you catch her latest award-winning performance in The Lady in the Van.Add a Comment
Digital publishing community Wattpad has created several infographics exploring reading habits around Valentine’s Day.
One graphic reveals that 9 percent of readers read a romance on the holiday last year. Another breaks out smut versus romance. Another breaks down reading behaviors by state.
We have the series of graphics for you after the jump.
From First Second Books comes a new series about a young girl and her artistic alter ego!Add a Comment