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1. Current Scratch: Join Us, Volunteer, Business Buzz, & Opportunity


During the dog days of summer, there's nothing better than hunkering down indoors working on your creative projects. Stay cool, my friends!

JOIN US!

Monthly Meeting. On July 29, 2015, we will have discussion, news, and encouragement. Topic: Meet Illustrator Garrett Hines. Meet us at Barnes & Noble in College Station. Gentle critique begins at 9:30 a.m. Bring copies of 5 double-spaced pages of your work in progress. Those who have time stay for lunch at a local restaurant. Members and friends welcome! Want a sneak peek of Garrett? Twitter: @garretthinesart!   Website: http://garretthines.com/

2015 Connections and Craft Workshop. Mark your calendars!  October 10! Full announcement soon. We have exciting speakers! A few hotel rooms will be available for our attendees. Registration opens soon! Watch your email! Email Liz Mertz at brazosvalley@scbwi.org if you don't think you are on the list. This will be a MUST NOT MISS event!

Follow this link to find out about our next regional webinar:  Date/Time 08/11/2015, 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm. Webinar: Children's Book Marketing with Kristen Cappy

VOLUNTEER

Do you have a desire to help young writers?  SCBWI Brazos Valley needs a new coordinator for our annual  Brazos Poets Contest for students in 6th through 8th grade and held in April of each year in conjunction with National Poetry Month. Contact Liz Mertz at brazosvalley@scbwi.org if you are interested.

BUSINESS BUZZ

What are thoughts on audio books? Find out what's new for the future of audio books.

Need some assistance writing emotion in your main character? IBM's new feature for its super computer Watson analyzes the language to determine emotion.  How cool is that?!

OPPORTUNITY

Have a story about witches? Just in time for Halloween. Cicada Magazine is looking for them! Deadline Sept. 9, 2015.


The views expressed here are my own, and not necessarily those of the SCBWI


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2. Poems New and Collected

One of only 13 women to receive the Nobel Prize in Literature (out of 111 total laureates), Polish poet Wisława Szymborska (pronounced vees-WAH-vah shim-BOR-ska) was awarded the world's highest literary honor in 1996. A career-spanning work that features poems from eight separate collections, Poems New and Collected offers some four decades of the poet's finest [...]

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3. Faces in the Crowd

As sinuous a novel as Valeria Luiselli's Faces in the Crowd is, it is all the more remarkable on account of it being a debut — and a most assured one at that. The Mexican novelist and essayist's first fiction entwines multiple narratives and perspectives, shifting between them with the ease and gracefulness of a [...]

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4. To the Lighthouse

Reading Virginia Woolf is like stepping out onto a veranda, where the entire world unfurls before you in dazzling detail. Her unparalleled ability to paint a scene so exquisitely, and to inhabit her characters with such clarity and intensity, makes for an experience that is both awe-inspiring and deeply moving. To the Lighthouse, set in [...]

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5. Song of Solomon

If the only book you've read by Toni Morrison is her Pulitzer Prize–winning novel Beloved, you're missing out. Known for her powerfully evocative prose, her grand mystical tales steeped in black history, her haunting (and haunted) characters, Morrison is an author whose body of work demands attention. Her third novel, Song of Solomon — Barack [...]

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6. come out to play now the light nights are here


A few of my bike drawings here. You know when something kind of unintentionally becomes a theme? Well, that. And when a theme comes knocking on my door I do love to go out to play with it. 
Watch this space if you like bikes, or art, and specifically bike art. 

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7. On Photography

Sontag was good at pretty much everything related to language — she wrote novels, stories, plays, and memoirs. But the best of her efforts were her essays and critical writings. It's difficult to narrow down a single collection to represent her nonfiction work, which ranged from horror movies to encapsulating "camp" to exploring illness as [...]

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8. A Field Guide to Getting Lost

Solnit is one of the most eloquent, urgent, and intelligent voices writing nonfiction today; from Men Explain Things to Me to Storming the Gates of Paradise, anything she's written is well worth reading. But her marvelous book of essays A Field Guide to Getting Lost might be her most poetic, ecstatic work. Field Guide is [...]

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9. Strangers on a Train

Highsmith is a master of stark, poetic prose, acclaimed for her relentless themes of murder and psychological torment. She is best known for her series of five Tom Ripley novels, popularly referred to as the Ripliad. Like the Ripley stories, Highsmith's debut book, Strangers on a Train, is most remembered for its adaptation to the [...]

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10. Frankenstein

In her short 53 years, Mary Shelley wrote novels, plays, short stories, essays, biographies, and travel books, but it's not surprising that she is best known for her novel Frankenstein. It's hard to separate the idea of Frankenstein's monster from the popular icon he's become, but everyone should read the original novel. Shelley's gothic masterpiece, [...]

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11. Cat’s Eye

Atwood is a master at conveying the inner landscape of her characters, and her novels are frequently peppered with sharp and incisive social commentary. Adored by both readers and critics, she has published over 40 works, including many books of poetry, and has won countless accolades, including the Booker Prize and the Arthur C. Clarke [...]

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12. Collected Stories of Lydia Davis

It can be hard to pinpoint what makes Lydia Davis's writing so magnetic. Her precise, no-nonsense language combined with her liberal definition of the short story? Her attention to the overlooked, the mundane, the clutter in our lives that holds so much meaning? Her understated sense of humor, so deeply ingrained in her observations about [...]

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13. Editorial Submission :: Victor Medina

Post by Natalie

Victor Medina is a freelance illustrator from Madrid, Spain. His dynamic work includes bright colors, hand lettering and loads of fantastic little details and textures. See more of Victor’s work on his website.

 

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14. A Big Post On The Way....

...I Hope!

So long as my eyes hold out I hope to get a longer than the average post out this week.  I have had a great deal of time these past two weeks to think about the current comic situation.  There are many countries out there that are not as well off as the UK but with no real comics industry and I'll be looking at that.

However, the UK, as it is, is dead as far as comics as a business is concerned.  But I'll go into this more later.

So keep checking back!

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15. Interview with Author Michelle Houts

Michelle Houts, author of Kammie on First: Baseball’s Dottie Kamenshek, shares how her book highlights Kamenshek’s life of integrity alongside her professional achievements.  Houts, also the editor of Missing Millie Benson by Julie K. Rubini, reflects on the role nonfiction plays in shaping children’s reading interests and how librarians serve these readers, researchers, and writers.  I received a complimentary copy of these two books in the Biographies for Young Readers series published by Ohio University Press before this interview.     

Author Michelle Houts (Image provided by Ohio University Press)

Author Michelle Houts (Image provided by Ohio University Press)

1.  How did you first learn about Dottie Kamenshek, the famous baseball player loosely based on Dottie Hinson from the popular movie A League of Their Own?  What inspired you to write your book for young readers, Kammie on First: Baseball’s Dottie Kamenshek?

I first read about Kammie in a one-page entry in the book Profiles of Ohio Women. As soon as I read about her, I knew she would be a perfect first subject for the new biography series Ohio University Press was planning. She was a pioneer in women’s sports, a humble leader, and an outstanding person, on and off the field.

2.  Kammie on First is the first book in a new series, Biographies for Young Readers.  What unique challenges have you found when writing this type of nonfiction for children?  What makes biographies a unique and valuable resource for children to access in a public library?      

After three fiction books, I was so excited to be writing biographical nonfiction! That’s because I can remember selecting from the biographies section of my own local library. I loved those matching books about different historical figures. I wanted to replicate that excitement I felt, but I wanted the books to have an altogether different look and feel. The books I remember had a few line drawings, were text-heavy, and somewhat drab in their appearance. I was challenged to create a narrative arc in this new series and create a book that was factual and interesting all at once.

3.  What intrigued you most about the life of Dottie Kamenshek as you learned more about this athlete? What have children found to be most intriguing about her life after reading your book?        

Kammie on First: Baseball's Dottie Kamenshek by Michelle Houts (Image provided by Ohio University Press)

Kammie on First: Baseball’s Dottie Kamenshek by Michelle Houts (Image provided by Ohio University Press)

 Dottie was two things: a stand-out athlete and a humble leader. Sometimes it’s hard to find both those qualities in one person. Most young readers are fascinated by the fact that Dottie and her contemporaries played baseball in skirts, even if that meant sliding injuries were common. The readers are getting a history lesson about life in the 1940s and early 1950s when we begin to discuss the reasons the AAGPBL players wore skirts, had chaperones, and went to beauty school.

4.  In the author’s note from Kammie on First, you share a childhood memory about listening to baseball on the radio. How do you believe children’s memories shape their reading interests?  What should the role of children’s librarians be in encouraging these interests?

 What a privilege and responsibility librarians have when it comes to young readers! To be able to converse with a child, detect what sparks his or her interest, and to then suggest a great book is nothing short of magical. I’m not sure it’s children’s memories as much as their experiences that shape their reading interests. A positive experience with one book can lead a child to quickly choose another in the same genre or on the same topic or by the same author. I recall that as a child, once I’d found mysteries, I had to read every Nancy Drew and Trixie Belden book I could get my hands on.

5. How have public libraries impacted your process of gathering research? What do you believe the role of librarians is in providing accurate information for children and teens?

Since Kammie on First was my first nonfiction title, I started into my research alone and uncertain. It didn’t take long before I found the first research librarian eager to guide me along the path to discovering more about Dottie. Dottie had passed in 2010. She had never married and had no children. She was also an only child, so I would find no siblings or nieces or nephews. With the help of those well-versed in research methods, I was able to find her school yearbook, some early pictures, and eventually, two first cousins. I’m quite certain that libraries provide many children with their first experiences in research – how to look something up and discover more information. It’s a skill they’ll use their entire lives, and they most often learn it from a librarian.

6.  Kammie on First features a great variety of photographs to provide a snapshot into the life and times of this era.  Are there any particular images from your book that you recommend librarians share with a young audience when highlighting this athlete’s life?

 Students always seem to gravitate toward the picture of Lois Florreich being treated for a sliding injury. To me, it speaks to the fact that these women weren’t just out having fun. They were professional athletes, giving it everything they had, and sometimes enduring painful injuries. That’s a photo that tells a great deal about the grit of all the women who played in the AAGPBL.  My favorite picture of Dottie is one of her signing an autograph for a young girl outside the locker room. Even though they are both looking down, you can see that Kammie and her young fan are smiling. It was an important moment for both of them, I’m sure.

7.  How have public libraries shaped your experience as a reader growing up and as a writer today?

 I grew up in Westerville, Ohio, where we had – and still have – a fantastic public library. I can still tell you the exact shelf location of the first book I could ever read alone (I actually believe I had memorized it, but I was convinced I could read!) and the exact shelf that housed the Little House series, which I read through more than once. Going to the library was always a treasured experience as a child. I believe exposure to all kinds of stories at a very young age has really shaped the reader and writer I’ve become today.

8. How can librarians best promote nonfiction books to young readers?

Ah, well, it seems suddenly nonfiction is no longer playing second fiddle to fiction in a lot of situations. I think newer, narrative nonfiction reads more like fiction. I like to tell about how I was so engrossed reading Candace Fleming’s Amelia Lost a few years ago, that a small part of me forgot I knew the ending! As I read, the suspense was real, even though I knew the outcome of Amelia Earhart’s story. That’s what good nonfiction does to a reader. I think that if librarians are promoting great nonfiction right alongside fiction, the stories themselves will grab the reader and send them back for more.

9. What advice would you give to young people interested in a career in writing biographies? How can children’s librarians best support young writers?

 To the young writer, I would say, “Be observant. Be inquisitive.”  Great stories are all around you, and they don’t all belong to the famous. Your elderly neighbor, your teacher, even a classmate may well have had some amazing experiences worth sharing. Ask if you might tell their story and write it down. To the children’s librarians, I would direct young readers first to a book, but then also to the author or illustrator. Helping children realize that behind every book is a writer and sometimes an artist, and always an editor, just might lead a young person toward a career they will love.

10. The next book in the Biographies for Young Readers series,  

Missing Millie Benson by Julie K. Rubini (Image provided by Ohio University Press)

Missing Millie Benson by Julie K. Rubini (Image provided by Ohio University Press)

Missing   Millie Benson by Julie K. Rubini, chronicles the life of the author who wrote twenty-three of the first thirty books in the Nancy Drew Mystery series.  As you are the series editor, did Nancy Drew’s adventures resonate with you as a child?  Why do you think they are relevant to young readers today?

 When Julie Rubini approached the publisher with her proposal to write about Millie Benson, I was on board from the beginning. Nancy Drew has withstood the test of time. I’m amazed that young readers still know this fictional character. It’s very interesting that most of the qualities we love about Nancy are qualities Rubini found in Millie: independent, determined, confident, and hard-working.  Those qualities, whether they be found in fiction or in real people, will never become irrelevant.

Thank you for explaining your writing process and for sharing your perspective on the role libraries play in serving young readers, writers, and researchers!

The post Interview with Author Michelle Houts appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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16. Tao Okamoto to Play Mercy Graves in Batman v Superman

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17. Face-Lift 1267



Guess the Plot

A Knight's Quest

1. In a vaguely Arthurian setting, Gawain, a newly-knighted lad of 17, sets forth on a knightly quest and does not encounter a sassy princess who must ally with her old enemies, the fae, in order to save her land from the evil Troll-people. He also doesn't need to capture a legendary weapon. Complete at 400 words.

2. When his parents threaten to throw him out, degenerate Kevin reluctantly takes a job at the local medieval fair as their newest knight. Standing in stinking armor all day is hardly "Sir" Kevin's idea of a good time, but after hearing a rumor that Allison, the fair's big-breasted princess wants to puff the magic dragon. Kevin finds himself in a desperate quest to find the sacred herbs.

3. To save his family from bankruptcy, Cedric must rescue the princess from an evil wizard and save the city from an attack by an army of immortal creatures. Hey, no one said being a fifteen-year-old was gonna be easy.

4. The dragon has captured a damsel, and it's up to Sir John to rescue her. Trouble is, his horse is afraid of dragons, his squire suffers from narcolepsy, and his shield had to be duct taped together after the last jousting match. Some days it just doesn't pay to get out of bed.



Original Version

Dear Evil Editor,

Sir Lancelot Academy, New Camelot, isn’t for faint hearts. It’s a place where aspiring knights are trained, and fifteen-year-old Cedric is one of them. After years of sparring and archery lessons, he has only one more test to pass to become a knight: the Quest. If he rescues Princess Rhiannon, kidnapped by the dark wizard Mordred, [Change his name to Krissbroun.] Cedric will become a knight and receive an award of three hundred thousand crowns– enough to save his family from bankruptcy. [How did his family manage to get 300,000 crowns in debt?] [Ironically, today one crown would be enough to get them out of bankruptcy, as long as it's an 1847 Queen Victoria "Gothic" crown in mint condition.] 

Problem is Rhiannon might be a [beautiful (like diamonds in the sky)] damsel in distress, but she can deal with it. She escapes from Mordred’s dungeon and in the process saves Cedric’s life too. [I'd get rid of "Problem is."] Well, Cedric is annoyed. Knights are supposed to rescue damsels. Not the other way round. On top of that, Cedric and Rhiannon discovers Mordred’s plan to steal one of the most powerful magical artefact [artifacts] in Britannia: the Grail. Mordred needs it to build an army of dark, immortal creatures and attack the city. [It's always a good idea when building an army of creatures, to give them a three-week life span rather than immortality.]

When Cedric and Rhiannon warn the New Camelot knights, unfortunately they don’t take them seriously. The Grail is protected by state-of-the-art spells, [The term "state of the art" originated in the 20th century.] and stealing it is considered impossible. Not even Mordred can succeed. Determined to protect the city even without the knights’ help, Cedric has to work with Rhiannon to stop Mordred’s plan. [So you're saying Mordred can succeed? Does Cedric know how Mordred can overcome state-of-the-art spells? How does he plan to defeat a powerful wizard?] But if he can deal with a self-rescuer, warrior princess, fighting an evil dark wizard should be a piece of cake. [That's like saying, If he can deal with a perky kitten, a Tyrannosaurus should be a piece of cake.]

A KNIGHT’S QUEST is an upper middle grade fantasy novel, complete at 70,000 words.

Thanks for your time and consideration.


Notes

The query isn't bad, but I'm not sure I buy Cedric's ability to defeat Mordric when he couldn't even rescue Rhiannon.

According to a website I just consulted, titled "Becoming a Knight," the apprentice knight period (aka squire) was ages 14 to 21. Of course that was the real world rather than a fantasy world, but it still seems like 15 is rather young to be going into battle against adult men, much less wizards and dragons. 

If I were the king of New Camelot and my daughter the princess had been abducted by an evil wizard, I wouldn't be sending a kid who wasn't yet a knight to rescue her.

Possibly instead of calling Mordred a dark wizard and his army dark creatures, you should go with evil wizard and savage creatures. I'm not sure what "dark" means when applied to a creature or a wizard. I do know it's good when applied to chocolate.

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18. Britain’s Got Talent Judge Writing Children’s Book

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19. Pixar’s Design Process Explored in New Cooper Hewitt Show

The show will explore the studio's iterative and collaborative design process.

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20. Paper Towns Leads the iBooks Bestsellers List

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21. Netflix to Feature the Original Reading Rainbow Series

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22. Browner Knowle -A Sneak Peek and a word to investors!

Paul Ashley Brown
Last Thursday I was strolling through a Bristol book shop and spotted a tubby man with a very -very- bad haircut. "Why, it is Mr Paul Ashley Brown -Bristol's own celebrated artist!" I thought to myself. So I went up and said "Hello" which solicited a rather high pitched and garbled "Please don't hurt me -here's my wallet!"

Poor man.

Anyway, joking aside, during a coffee (which WAS a joke because coffee should not taste that bad) we got on to Mr Brown's publications -Browner Knowle, Anon etc.  It seems that he has almost sold out of all issues with people getting in touch trying to buy copies.

This proves the point that I made that there is far more future investment potential in publishers of short run, no reprint publications.  There will ALWAYS be millions of Marvel, DC, Dark Horse and Image comics out there so future value -not what you paid for them!

But the Small Press creators that are sought after now, such as Mr Brown, will be those you ought to invest in now because there is no "I'll pick up copies off Ebay later" -he uses a printer and never ever uses Ebay.

So, if you see any of his titles grab them or try contacting him via Face Book and see what books are still available.

And, this from Mr Brown:


"Sneak peak at BROWNER-KNOWLE 8 currently in progress; Page 1 of "Missus Necessary", and a panel from the 3 page "The Story of Our Lives". Probably won't see light of day til later in the year."


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23. "I Thought I Was Alone": Thoughts on Sense8

You could probably run an interesting poll among genre fans to see which ones find the elevator-pitch description for Netflix's new show Sense8--a globe-spanning genre series from the minds of the Wachowski siblings and J. Michael Straczynski--an immediate selling point, and which ones see it as a reason to stay away.  I have to admit that I'm in the latter group. The involvement of the

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24. Mermaid sightings

The twins are fast approaching ten!
"Tween twins!" Winnie reminds me.
"Double digits, doubled!"

And just like that, a decade ebbs with moon and tide.

 
Having soaked up the Emily Windsnap books lately, 
they want to be mermaids. 
So, I've been making art.
Mermaidy tattoos!
 
Painted shells. 
Waves of seaweed.
Glowy lights.  
Cupcakes + art = yummy.   
 


Mermaids, this way. Your party awaits.

 Books!

18153928
The Tail of Emily Windsnap (Emily Windsnap, #1)

132391 18048914
The Mermaid and the Shoe by K. G. Campbell
The Tail of Emily Windsnap by Liz Kessler
The Little Mermaid - Hans Christian Anderson, ill. by Lisbeth Zwerger 
Breathe - Scott Magoon
631565718743522
17164725
1835396817675379

Down, Down, Down: A Journey to the Bottom of the Sea - Steve Jenkins
Shh! We Have a Plan - Chris Haughton
The Storm Whale - Benji DaviesPlastic Ahoy! Investigating the great Pacific Garbage Patch - Patricia Newman
Shackleton's Journey - William Grill






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25. Pinterest

Do you do Pinterest? If so you might want to check out my Pinboards on Gouache and Casein painting.

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26. Authors Guild Urges Limited Life

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27. Second Chance Summer by Jill Shalvis

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Second Chance Summer.jpg

 

I just can’t get over the difference between these two covers for the same novel. The left one is the US version and the right is the UK version of Jill Shalvis‘ SECOND CHANCE SUMMER. Why do US titles love to feature hunky men on their covers while the British versions are much more magical and romantic? Personally, I much prefer the UK version. It is enchanting and so appealing to the eyes. But then again, I’m sure there are many readers out there who find the US version much more appealing.

Which one do you like? Which book would you gravitate towards?

And if you don’t judge a book by its cover and instead prefer to actually know what the book is about, here’s the summary of Shalvis’ latest release from Amazon:

Cedar Ridge, Colorado, is famous for crisp mountain air, clear blue skies, and pine-scented breezes. And it’s the last place Lily Danville wants to be. But she needs a job, and there’s an opening at the hottest resort in her hometown. What has her concerned is the other hot property in Cedar Ridge: Aidan Kincaid-firefighter, rescue worker, and heartbreaker. She never could resist that devastating smile . . .

The Kincaid brothers are as rough and rugged as the Rocky Mountains they call home. Aidan has always done things his own way, by his own rules. And never has he regretted anything more than letting Lily walk out of his life ten years ago. If anyone has ever been in need of rescuing, she has. What she needs more than anything are long hikes, slow dances, and sizzling kisses. But that can only happen if he can get her to give Cedar Ridge-and this bad boy-a second chance . . .

And here’s the summary from one of my favorite book review sites, I Heart Chick Lit.

What do you do when you run into the man who broke your heart?
 
Lily’s been back in Cedar Ridge for less than ten minutes when she bumps into Aiden, the former love of her life. So much for sneaking back into town unnoticed. And thanks to frizzy hair and armfuls of junk food, she’s turning his head for all the wrong reasons.
 
No one knows why Lily is home after ten years, and she’s determined to stay no longer than the summer. But Cedar Ridge and Aiden have other ideas. As they set about persuading Lily to give them a second chance, she finds herself falling under the spell of the Colorado mountains … and the one man she could never forget.

 

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28. No Messing Around -The 2016 Clallam Bay Comicon Is Being Organised Now!

https://2.bp.blogspot.com/-5Qw5q-IgdOA/UmGXktH4swI/AAAAAAAABeU/rMeUNQIVlDw/s1600/CBCC+2014+Seal+Logo+COLOR+WEB.gif
From Donna Barr:
"The fifth annual Clallam Bay Comicon on the way

CLALLAM BAY, WASHINGTON - The fifth annual Clallam Bay Comicon will be held July 9-10, 2016, in the Lion's Club building in Clallam Bay (90 Bogachiel Street), on Washington State's Olympic Peninsula. Full details at www.donnabarr.com

No admission fee, very low sales table rates; first-come, first-served.
Peninsula businesses and communities are encouraged to offer welcoming specials or events to Comicon attendees.

Contacts: donnabarr01@gmail.com and 360 963 2935"

And, yes, I know that is the 2014 poster but it looks pretty and Pinterest don't take posts without images so there!  :-P

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29. Haven't I see you before? Dueling covers of the backs of girls at the ocean

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30. QRD On Blog Roll

QRD #74To help support Independent creators, I have added QRD to the blog roll. This online mag looks at music and comics -with interviews with creators and musicians so please check them out!

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31. Choosing a new Librarian of Congress

I’ve been talking about this topic now in a few different places. Here is an article I wrote for Medium spelling out some of the things I only noted briefly on the Librarian of Progress site.

The Next Librarian of Congress

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32. Monday Poetry Stretch - Sedoka

Yes, I know it's Tuesday. We've had family in town since Friday and I forgot to schedule this, so I am a day late.

Continuing on the theme of Japanese poetic forms, the sedoka is an unrhymed poem made up of a pair of katauta. A katuata is a three-line poem with the syllable count of 5 / 7 / 7. Generally a sedoka addresses the same subject from different perspectives.

You can read more about the sedoka at Encyclopedia Brittanica.

I hope you'll join me this week in writing a sedoka (or two). Please share a link to your poem or the poem itself in the comments.

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33. The Washington Office

Before speaking with Marijke Visser, Associate Director of the Office for Information Technology Policy (OITP), I honestly had very little knowledge of what exactly was involved with the duties of the Washington Office staff other than advocating on behalf of ALA and libraries in general. In my usual over-imaginative fashion, I envisioned their days spent in conference rooms filled with charts (as seen in The American President), having power lunches (image courtesy of West Wing), and standing up for libraries using some incredibly uplifting call-to-action speeches (think Braveheart). While I’m sure these moments exist (or at least some version of them), talking with Marijke about the structure of the Washington Office and some of the exciting projects staff are currently exploring broadened my view of their work and inspired me to advocate for our profession with a renewed Scottish-like vigor.

As Marijke explained, the Washington Office is separated into two distinct offices: The Office of Government Relations and the Office for Information Technology Policy. When I thought of the Washington Office, I associated it with direct lobbying on the hill; The Office of Government Relations is the group that works to follow and influence legislation, policy, and regulatory issues on the hill. The Office for Information Technology Policy works with a variety of groups, such as the Department of Education and the SEC, on outward facing issues, such as issues supporting a free and open information society.

One way that the Washington Office, particularly the Office of Government Relations, helps to inform and influence legislation and policy is by identifying and building champions on key issues. This is one way that Marijke highlighted for ALSC members to help and become involved. Creating and nurturing strong relationships between legislative members and local librarians can provide opportunities for librarians to bring attention to key issues impacting library services to children while legislative members build connections on a local level and gain a more direct understanding and/or experience of how issues like literacy, media mentorship, or the digital divide are directly impacting youth. One example Marijke provided of this concept is an interest in how the digital divide is impacting disadvantaged teenagers. The Washington Office was able to connect interested legislative members with local librarians in their service area to discuss how the digital divide impacts teenagers and how libraries are able to help bridge the economic gap for this population.

Towards the end of our call, Marijke explained the Office for Information Technology Policy’s Policy Revolution! Initiative. Funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, this initiative is in its second of three years. Described by Marijke as “shaking up how we do policy”, this initiative is designed to examine how libraries are branded to other organizations, look for more ways for their office to become proactive rather than reactive, and to build connections between agencies many people do not usually associate with libraries, such as HUD and Veterans Affairs. Ultimately the goal is to increase the perception of libraries as essential to policy and community conversations in a way that influences organizations to view library professionals as essential participants at the discussion table.

How does this apply to us? How can a little (seriously… I’m only 5’2”!) children’s librarian in Akron, Ohio stay current on legislative and policy issues? How can I best use this information to make a difference? Marijke suggested following the Washington Office’s blog, the District Dispatch. (http://www.districtdispatch.org/). You can sign up for news and alerts and locate a lot of other advocacy pages at http://www.ala.org/offices/cro/legislationandadvocacy/legislationandadvocacy. ALSC’s Everyday Advocacy website is essential for staying informed and inspired on all facets of advocacy. If you haven’t had a chance to check it out (what are you waiting for?!) you should stop what you are doing right now and visit it at http://www.ala.org/everyday-advocacy/. Also, reach out to your local, state, and national representation to share successes and challenges. While you may not need to directly advocate for an important issue today, building those relationships now may someday prove to be invaluable.

Libraries offer such a valuable service to the public, and librarians are consistently doing important work that directly improves the lives of children. I urge each of us (myself included) to remember the importance of our work on the toughest days and to channel our inner William Wallace (blue face paint is optional).

*********************************************************************

Photo courtesy of guest blogger

Photo courtesy of guest blogger

Today’s guest contributor is JoAnna Schofield, member of the ALSC Advocacy and Legislation Committee. JoAnna is a children’s librarian at the Highland Square Branch Library where she enjoys singing Laurie Berkner’s “I Know a Chicken” more than most people. She finds her greatest inspiration from her three rambunctious children, Jackson (5), Parker (4), and Amelia Jane (2). JoAnna can be reached at jschofield@akronlibrary.org. More than anything, she wants you to know if any information in this blog is not accurate, it is completely her misunderstanding and no fault of Marijke Visser. Marijke is truly lovely.

The post The Washington Office appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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34. It's live!! Cover Reveal: The Yearbook by Carol Masciola + Giveaway (US/Canada/Europe)

Hi, everyone!

Today we're super excited to celebrate the cover reveal for THE YEARBOOK by Carol Masciola, releasing November 18, 2015 from Merit Press. Before we get to the cover, here's a note from Carol:

 
I’m so delighted to show off the cover of my novel, The Yearbook, which I think conveys the mood of magic and uncertainty I’ve tried to create in the story. Lola Lundy, the protagonist, is a teenager who seems to find a portal to the past among stacks of antique library books. The designers, Christina Riddle of Edgewater Graphics, and Frank Rivera, with FW Media, used an authentic 1920s photograph of a young flapper, combined with pastel toned bookshelves, to evoke the hazy backdrop where Lola’s story unfolds—is it real, or hallucinatory? The mirror effect Frank chose for the title lettering suggests, to me, the dual worlds of past and present fading into each other, and perhaps, as well, the not-always-clear line between reality and fantasy, sanity and madness. I could not have dreamed of a better visual expression of the novel!
 
~ Carol Masciola (THE YEARBOOK, Merit Press)
 

 

 

Ready to see?

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Here it is!

 

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*** If you choose to share this image elsewhere, please include a courtesy link back to this page so others can enter Carol's giveaway. Thank you! ***

 

THE YEARBOOK

by Carol Masciola
Release date: November 18, 2015
Publisher: Merit Press
ISBN: 9781440588976
 
 
About the Book
 
Misfit teen Lola Lundy falls asleep in a storage room in her high school library and wakes up to find herself 80 years in the past. The Fall Frolic dance is going full blast in the gym, and there she makes an instant connection with the brainy and provocative Peter Hemmings, class of ’24. His face is familiar, and she realizes she’s seen his senior portrait in a ragged old yearbook in the storage room.
 
By the end of the dance, Lola begins to see a way out of her disastrous Twenty First Century life: She’ll make a new future for herself in the past. But major mental illness lies in Lola’s family background. Has she slipped through a crack in time, or into an elaborate, romantic hallucination based on the contents of an old yearbook?
 
To learn more about this book and see our review, go HERE.
 

b2ap3_thumbnail_Carol-Masciola-The-Yearbook-Headshot.jpgAbout the Author

Carol Masciola was born and raised in Ohio, one of five sisters, and graduated from Oberlin College, where she studied humanities and piano. She worked for 12 years as a newspaper reporter in Southern California and won the PEN/West award for writing in journalism. She has lived in Guatemala, Colombia, Jordan, Turkey, England, Spain and now lives in Geneva, Switzerland. She is also an enthusiastic writer of screenplays. The Yearbook is her first published novel.
 

Twitter | Web | Goodreads | Facebook

 

Giveaway Details

Three winners will each receive an ARC of THE YEARBOOK. 

Entering is simple, just fill out the entry form below. Winners will be announced on this site and in our monthly newsletter (sign up now!) within 30 days after the giveaway ends.

During each giveaway, we ask entrants a question pertaining to the book. Here is the question they'll be answering in the comments below for extra entries:

What do you think about the cover and synopsis?

Click the Rafflecopter link below to enter the giveaway:

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35. What's On Your Nightstand (July)


The folks at 5 Minutes For Books host What’s On Your Nightstand? the fourth Tuesday of each month in which we can share about the books we have been reading and/or plan to read.
The Unbelievable Gospel: Say Something Worth Believing. Jonathan Dodson. 2015. Zondervan. 240 pages. [Source: Review copy]

Dodson writes of a culture and society that doesn't believe the gospel, a culture where the gospel is so strange and foreign that it is unbelievable. He encourages readers to rethink how they evangelize. And he does so in a way that does not compromise the truth and the exclusivity of the faith. He is honest in his assessment that people struggle with how to communicate the gospel and face challenges that seem impossible. I'm almost halfway through with this one--and so far I am liking it. It's a very thought-provoking read.

Wouldn't It Be Deadly: An Eliza Doolittle and Henry Higgins Mystery. D.E. Ireland. 2014. St. Martin's Press. 336 pages. [Source: Library]

The first in a new mystery series. I've been reading this one off-and-on for a few weeks now. I never seem to be motivated to read more than a chapter or two at a time. But it has potential. It is Eliza Doolittle and Henry Higgins after all. So I'll keep reading.

Murder on the Bride's Side (Elizabeth Parker #2). Tracy Kiely. 2010. St. Martin's Press. 304 pages. [Source: Library]

I'll be reviewing the first book in the series soon. The heroine, Elizabeth Parker, is an Austen lover. She's attending the wedding of a best friend, and her best friend's family is quite dysfunctional. The wedding will be melodramatic--but will it prove deadly? I am liking but not loving this series. But it's a light read that is amusing enough.

Dissonance. Erica O'Rourke. 2014. Simon & Schuster. 512 pages. [Source: Review copy]

YA speculative fiction. The heroine "walks" between alternate/parallel universes. I'm enjoying it so far.

Bitter Truth. (Bess Crawford #3) 2012. HarperCollins. 368 pages. [Source: Library]

I am loving this mystery series. Bess Crawford is a World War I nurse. The books have depth to them that many mysteries don't manage to have.

A Little In Love. Susan Fletcher. 2015. Scholastic. 288 pages. [Source: Review copy]

 Reading this because I am a big Les Miserables fan. This is a novelization of Eponine's story.

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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36. New Dr. Seuss Book Is an Amazon Bestseller

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37. Apple Computer - Steve Jobs' Success Story


Steven Paul "Steve" Jobs was an American pioneer of the personal computer revolution of the 1970s. Shortly after his death, Jobs' official biographer, Walter Isaacson described him as the creative entrepreneur whose passion for perfection and ferocious drive revolutionized six industries: personal computers, animated movies, music, phones, tablet computing, and digital publishing.

Steve Jobs was adopted to a family in Mountain View, California. While still in high school, Jobs interest in electronics prompted him to call William Hewlett of Hewlett-Packard to ask for some parts for a school project. Hewlett provided the parts and then made an offer to Jobs to intern at Hewlett-Packard for a summer. There, Jobs met Steve Wozniak, a talented and knowledgeable engineer five years older than the high school student. Their friendship would eventually be the foundation on which Apple was built.

Jobs dropped out of Reed College after one semester and went to work for Atari designing games. He carefully saved the money he earned while working at Atari so that he could take a trip to India and sate his bourgeoning interest in the spiritualism of the East.

After returning home from India, Jobs and Wozniak renewed their friendship. Jobs was shown a small computer that Wozniak had been working on as a hobby, but Jobs saw its potential immediately and persuaded Wozniak to go into business with him. In 1975, at the age of 20, Jobs went to work in his parents' garage with Wozniak working on the Apple I prototype.

The Apple I sold modestly, but well enough to be able to go to work on the Apple II. In 1977, the new model was put on sale. With a keyboard, colour monitors and user-friendly software, Apple became a success. The company made $3 million in their first year and had surpassed $200 million in their third.

However, in addition to the Apple III and its successor the LISA not selling as well as had been hoped and a marked increase in competition in the sale of PCs, 1980 saw Apple lose almost half of its sales to IBM. Things got worse for Jobs in 1983 when a fight with the directors got him kicked off the board by the CEO, John Sculley, whom Jobs himself had hired.

In 1984, as a response to the sharp decline in sales, Jobs released the Apple Macintosh which introduced the world to the point-and-click simplicity of the mouse. The marketing for the Mac was handled poorly and with a price tag of $2,500, it was not finding its way into the homes for which it had been designed. Jobs tried to repackage the Mac as a business computer, but without a hard-drive or networking capabilities, not to mention only a small capacity for memory, corporations were not interested. In 1985, without any power in his own company, Jobs sold his stock in Apple and resigned.

Later in 1985, Jobs began NeXT Computer Co. with the money he'd made from the sale of his stock in Apple. He planned to build a computer to change the way research was done. The NeXT computer, though complete with processing speeds previously unseen, unmatched graphics, and an optical disk drive, at $9,950 each, sold poorly.

Persistent after the failures of the NeXT venture, Jobs began toying with software and started to focus his attention on a company he'd bought from George Lucas in 1986, Pixar Animation Studios. Jobs signed a three-picture deal with Disney, and began working on the first computer-animated feature. Released in the fall of 1995, it had taken "Toy Story" four years to be made. But the work had been well worth it, the film was an incredible success. Pixar went public in 1996, and in one day of trading, Jobs 80% share had become worth $1 billion.

Apple was struggling, having failed to design a new Macintosh operating system, and the company only held 5% of the PC market. Days after Pixar went public, Apple bought NeXT for $400 million and renamed Jobs to the board of directors to advise Gilbert F. Amelio, the chairman and CEO. However, in March of 1997, Apple recorded a quarterly loss of $708 million, and Amelio resigned a few months later. Jobs was left in charge as interim CEO and it was up to him to keep the same company he had started and which had ousted him alive. So he made a deal with Microsoft. With an investment $150 million for a small stake in Apple, Apple and Microsoft would "cooperate on several sales and technology fronts", and Apple would be assured their continuation in the PC market.

Jobs also went to work improving the quality of the Apple computers. The introduction of the G3 Power PC microprocessor made the Apple faster than those computers operating on Pentium processors. Apple also turned its energies toward producing an inexpensive desktop, the iMac, that was another hit for the company. With Jobs once again in control, Apple was able to quickly turn itself around, and by the end of 1998, was bringing in $5.9 billion in sales. Jobs had returned to his first love, a little older and a little wiser. He had made Apple healthy again and returned it to a place where it was contributing new and innovative technologies to the computer world.


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38. KidLit Author Events July 28-August 4, 2015

Right now, high school juniors all over the world are battling their way through college application essays. Some view this as a great way to ruin a good summer, but for others, it’s the excuse they’ve been waiting for to spend days curled around their laptops or notebooks, pouring their hearts onto the page. For these young writers, there are some exciting opportunities to delve deeper into their passion. If you are one of these writers, or if you know a teen who is passionate about writing, take a look at the events coming up this fall and in 2016 and mark your calendars!

Aside from the longer events in the link above, many communities have short writing workshops for teens through libraries, schools, or local writers’ organizations. Here in Houston, we have many such events. One organization here that offers the most classes for teens is Writespace. For instance, on August 6 & 13 from 12:30-3:00 PM, Writespace will be offering a class in two parts: Young Writers Fiction Workshop (Ages 14-19) with Sara Rolater.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I’ve added a new section to my website to highlight writing conferences and camps for teens. While researching this, I came across a website devoted to teen writers, Teens Can Write, Too. These innovative young writers have teamed up with Chapter One to host their own one-day conference in Illinois. I won’t usually be posting one-day events that occur outside the Houston area; there are just too many! But I had to share this one. Here’s the deets:

ECHOES OF US by Kat ZhangAugust 8: The Chapter One Young Writers Conference 2015, Arlington Heights, IL
Currently, the cost of admission is $49.99, but beginning August 1, the cost will rise to $74.99.

Keynote Address: Kat Zhang, author of the YA series THE HYBRID CHRONICLES (HarperCollins). She started writing the first book in the series, WHAT’S LEFT OF ME, during her senior year of high school and sold the trilogy when she was nineteen. Workshop Leaders will be Taryn Albright and Karen Bao. Read more…

Soon, I will be adding another page to my website that focuses on writing workshops for younger kids. Meanwhile, I will be adding local events of this sort to my regular Tuesday events post. And we have one this week!

August 1, Saturday, 10:30-11:30 AMWriters In The Schools
Writers In the Schools
Houston Public Library Express Library at Discovery Green Park
WITS Childrens’ Writing Workshop for Students Grade 2-8
Cost: FREE; No registration required

In partnership with the City of Houston through the Houston Arts Alliance and Houston Public Libraries, WITS offers the Discovery Green Workshops—For one hour WITS writers explore imaginative writing exercises. WITS provides all necessary materials. No registration is required, and walk-ins are welcome.

And for adult writers  this week:

JULY 29, AUGUST 5 & 12, WEDNESDAYS, 6:00-9:00 PMWritespace
Writespace
Cassandra Rose Clarke: Science Fiction and Fantasy
Cost: $120-$155

Do you take your fiction with a side of aliens, superheroes, dragons, or witches? Then this is the workshop for you! This course will provide an overview of the SFF genre. Together we will consider those elements of writing which are crucial to crafting compelling speculative stories, such as building our own worlds, extrapolating the fantastic from reality, and creating compelling non-human characters. In addition to discussing classic and contemporary SFF works, you will participate in writing exercises and bring in your own work for critique. Come to class prepared to write and discuss, and by the end of the four weeks, you will have completed at least one SFF short story.

JULY 28, TUESDAY, 6:30-8:30 PMHouston Writers Guild
The Houston Writers’ Guild
Trini Mendenhall Community Center, 1414 Wirt Rd.
Julian Kindred: World Building Beyond Genre: Your Characters and the World Around Them
Cost:$10 Members; $20 Nonmembers; $5 Students w/ID.

World Building is often classified as something exclusive to authors of speculative fiction but the truth is that every time a work of fiction is crafted, an entire world is written into being. While writers of fantasy and science fiction will also benefit from this workshop, writers of any genre stand to gain from examining the world in which their characters live and how they interact with it. Futurists look to tomorrow by examining society, technology, economics, environment, and politics, and in this workshop we shall look at the relationship between these topics as they relate to your plot and characters.

AUGUST 3, MONDAY, 7:00-9:00 PM SCBWI
SCBWI Houston
Tracy Gee Community Center
Kate Pentecost discusses “Using the Uncanny: Creating Horror that Packs a Punch”.
Cost: FREE; All are welcome!

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39. Author Ann Rule Has Died

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40. Illustrated map of Hamm, Germany

illustrated map
Illustrated map of a small part of Hamm, Germany.

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41. TMNT :Casey and April~!

"Greetings from the Road" !!Its Out!! The cover I did for Casey and April TMNT is out in the wild~! If you hunt for it at the comic store, ask for the Casey and April Mini series #2 Subscription cover.

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42. Oh the Thinks You Can Think About Dr. Seuss!

 

Contributed by Kayla King, Blog Manager 

 

 

Today is the day for a brand new book. So stay awhile and have a look. We promise there's more in this post as well. But those are things we cannot tell.

 

Okay, that is silly, we know you know, too. Today we are sharing a book revew! It's from Oh the Thinks You Can Think and it's just down below. Go on, take a peek! No, not with your toe. Did you see? Did you see? What all those Thinks could be? Well don't stop there, we have more to share!

 

We have pictures and sayings and a special something you'll love (we bet)! It's a giveaway of What Pet Should I Get? Sorry we ruined that almost-surprise. But now it's time to show your eyes. Say eyes, eyes, my two eyes, I want to see YABC's surprise! So today is the day, you're off and away, to celebrate Seuss, the very best way!! 

 

 

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Oh the Thinks You Can Think!

Reviewed by Kayla King

 

Oh the Thinks You Can Think! is one of those lovely little children’s books that is able to cross time and space and years to mean just as much to the adults who read it. In this whimsical world filled with classic Dr. Seuss nonsense, there is a message that YOU CAN THINK! You can imagine, which means all of us, young or old, can think and wonder and imagine, too! 

 

The illustrations within this book are just as fantastic as one would expect from Dr. Seuss. The colors range from the pinkest pinks to the bluest blues and even some pages shrouded in darkness. All at once, the pages are silly until suddenly, they become very serious. They tell us to “think left and think right and think low and think high. Oh, the thinks you can think up if only you try!”

 

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Now, in a media-obsessed world, it’s nice to know that along with the tweets we can tweet there are also thinks we can think. Maybe some of those THINKS will exist in 140 characters or less. But maybe they will build the next wonder of the world or write the next great novel or save mankind with a tremendous thought ready to become a real-life Think.  

 

Dr. Seuss’s Oh the Thinks You Can Think! is a tale that reminds us all that we have the power to create whatever we want using only our minds. It’s really that simple. And hey, if we can “think about Kitty O’Sullivan Krauss in her big balloon swimming pool over her house,” then the sky is the limit (for both Kitty and us, too!) and anything is possible!

 

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So thank you Dr. Seuss, for teaching us that we can think and think and think and never run out of Thinks! Maybe they will become real and we can keep them close by. Maybe they will even become house pets! Who knows, right? We need only THINK!

 

 

 

All About Dr. Seuss!

 

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Theodor “Seuss” Geisel is one of the most beloved children’s book authors of all time. His long list of awards includes Caldecott Honors for McElligot’s PoolIf I Ran the Zoo, and Bartholomew and the Oobleck, the Pulitzer Prize, and eight honorary doctorates. Works based on his original stories have won three Oscars, three Emmys, three Grammys and a Peabody. Geisel wrote and illustrated 45 books during his lifetime, and his books have sold more than 650 million copies worldwide. Though Theodor Geisel died on September 24, 1991, Dr. Seuss lives on, inspiring generations of children of all ages to explore the joys of reading. For more information about Dr. Seuss and his works, visit Seussville.com.

 

 

Now it's time for that brand new book! No need to wait, have a looK!

 

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In the Fall of 2013, an original manuscript with accompanying sketches by Dr. Seuss, aka Ted Geisel, was discovered in the La Jolla, California home of the late beloved children’s author. That complete manuscript was for the picture book, WHAT PET SHOULD I GET?, and will be published by Random House Children’s Books on July 28, 2015. It is the first original new Dr. Seuss book since the publication of the last book of Dr. Seuss’s career, Oh, the Places You’ll Go! in 1990. WHAT PET SHOULD I GET? captures the excitement of a classic childhood moment—choosing a pet—and features the brother and sister characters that Dr. Seuss drew in One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish.

 

 

 

 


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43. 2015 Simmons Summer Institute: Homecoming

What an invigorating weekend here on the Simmons College campus, as current students, alums, authors, illustrators, teachers, librarians, academics, booksellers, book lovers, etc., etc., etc., came together for the 2015 Summer Children’s Literature Institute: Homecoming. Some highlights are below, and in no particular order. We know. We tried to make it brief. But we just couldn’t. Sorry not sorry.

Shoshana:

Though Michelle H. Martin, who’d taught the longer Symposium class, was unfortunately unable to attend the weekend Institute, Cathie Mercier, director of the Center for the Study of Children’s Literature at Simmons College, read a brief message from Michelle and then opened the floor to her students, who stepped up and opened the Institute with a glimpse into the work they’d done in her class. We heard astute comparisons between seemingly disparate books, and more about those books’ reflections of home. It was a reminder of the depth of analysis that’s common here at Simmons, and should have been required listening for anyone with any doubts that children’s literature is a serious field of study.

Bright and early on Saturday morning, Vicky Smith, children’s and teen editor at Kirkus Reviews, moderated a panel with illustrators Shadra Strickland, Hyewon Yum, and David Hyde Costello, citing images of home from each panelist’s work and asking about the thoughts behind the images. We learned that Shadra feels it’s important to show children of color in happy, whimsical settings; that Hyewon remembers leaving home to start school but now identifies more with the mother being left at home; and that David thought hardest about a minor character in Little Pig Joins the Band. All three illustrators’ work had enough images of home — some comforting and some unsettling — to drive home (ha!) the importance, especially in childhood, of having a familiar place to return to.

I attended several of the Master Seminars that were offered throughout the weekend. Lauren Rizzuto’s seminar examined the politics of sentiment in children’s literature, and the valuing of emotion both within texts and in response to texts. Amy Pattee borrowed Cathie’s impossible and totally unfair often-difficult exercise of asking those present to divide themselves into those who emphasize books and those who emphasize readers. From those perspectives, we examined some critically successful books and some that were popular in terms of sales, and discussed what each metric values. Jeannine Atkins shared some thoughts about what makes a verse novel work, offering specific, technical advice as well as larger observations. I left Lauren’s seminar feeling a bit more justified in my own feelings of affection toward literary characters; Amy’s with a greater understanding of how my bookselling past informs my thinking; and Jeannine’s with a few ideas of my own.

Joan Tieman, Susan Bloom, and Barbara Harrison.

Joan Tieman, Susan Bloom, and Barbara Harrison at the post-lecture reception.

On Friday night Barbara Harrison and Gregory Maguire turned the Mary Nagel Sweetser Lecture into a two-voice, three-act play about a subject dear to many of our hearts: the Center for the Study of Children’s Literature at Simmons College. Harrison, the Center’s founder, and Maguire, its first graduate, performed the story of how they got here and how the Center developed. That story, of course, included quotes from quite a few children’s books, words that many of us at Simmons have heard echoing in our ears. Between that and the photos of some familiar faces in bygone years, it was quite the multimedia presentation, and struck a chord with many in the audience.

On Saturday night Jack Gantos gave the most straightforward presentation I’d ever heard from him. It took us back to his childhood home; climbed stairs and trudged through snow to his writing home at the Boston Athenaeum; and scrawled its way through his writing process, but there were no leaps this time to, say, a hypothetical mausoleum. Instead, he connected his thoughts back to the idea of home so relentlessly, the repetition was almost as big a joke as the other actual jokes peppered throughout the speech. Jack Gantos can home in on one idea…who knew?

On Sunday morning M. T. Anderson recalled his adventurous travels abroad, featuring miscommunications that resulted from his learned-from-opera French and a fight with feral cats over a poorly prepared chicken. He realized it might be easier to instead write about places he’d never seen and extrapolate based on books and maps, an epiphany that resulted in the highly creative version of Delaware that appears in some of his books. We were even treated to his rendition of Delaware’s anthem.

Elissa:

Roger Sutton talks with Bryan Collier.

Roger Sutton talks with Bryan Collier.

Friday morning, Bryan Collier, in conversation with Roger — and both in snappy bow ties! — talked about his Maryland hometown (and the chicken farms that he knew were not a part of his future plans). Growing up he was an athlete but also an artist. He didn’t know any other artists, so he left home to find some. The prolific illustrator talked about the work ethic involved in creating art, and he compared creativity to a body of water: some people dip in a toe, some wade in, and others will “jump off a cliff, backwards.” “What do you do when you feel like you’re drowning?” asked Roger. “Trust it. Surrender,” he said. (And speaking of liquids: later I was sitting next to Bryan, in his slick beige suit, and terrified I’d spill my iced coffee on him. Didn’t happen. Phew!)

Kwame Alexander.

“Tall, dark, and handsome” Newbery winner Kwame Alexander.

Horn Book intern Alex introduced 2015 Newbery Award winner (for The Crossover, like I had to tell you that) Kwame Alexander to the crowd, forgetting the salient point — as the man himself was quick to point out — “Kwame Alexander is tall, dark, and handsome.” He is also an amazing speaker, as everyone who was at this year’s CSK Breakfast and Newbery-Caldecott Banquet already knows, both hypnotizing the audience with his confident flow of words and keeping them on their toes, with brains a-buzzing (there was some audience participation involved).

Rita Williams-Garcia.

Rita Williams-Garcia. And yes she is (see quote above).

And how do you follow a speech that is by turns hilarious, heart-breaking, thought-provoking, swoon-worthy (those ladies at church never had a chance), eye-opening, electric, improvisatory…etc. etc.? First, with a standing ovation. Then with a talk by Rita Williams-Garcia, who talked to…herself. Williams-Garcia played the parts of both present-day Rita and thirty-three-year-old (“the age of Jesus”) Rita, discussing her work, her views, her past, future, and in-between times. She talked about the effect The Horn Book’s words had on her — “Rita Williams-Gracia may well turn out to be among the most prominent African-American literary artists of the next generation” — and her evolving thoughts on book awards, who-can-write-for-whom?, and the n-word. It was moving. And deep. And we don’t even mind that Big Ma wasn’t based on a real person.

Martha:

Editor Neal Porter and artist Laura Vaccaro Seeger (whose art was on display in Simmons’s Trustman Gallery all weekend) took us, step by step, through her creative process — with the added bonus that we also got an illuminating glimpse into their working relationship. They shared (mostly late-night) emails, the journals in which Laura loosely brainstorms ideas (but retroactively goes back and gives tables of contents — she’s a born organizer, apparently), and how three of her picture books came to be: Green; a new book coming out this September called I Used to Be Afraid; and a work in progress, a companion to Green called Blue. As usual, their affection and respect for each other permeated the presentation, whether Laura was demonstrating the challenges of using die-cuts or Neal was exhorting the value of the printed picture book. To paraphrase: No one has yet come up with a more efficient format for telling a story in words and pictures than a picture book you can hold in your hand. It’s all about the page turns, and swiping through an e-book doesn’t provide that. (And his analogy — something about slapping an iPad with a dead fish in order to “page” through a picture book? — is pretty hard to get out of your mind.)

Katie:

Molly Idle.

Molly Idle, an artist from age three.

Molly Idle doesn’t write presentation notes, but she doesn’t need to — charming, high-energy, and insightful, she captivated the crowd. (One tweet read, “I think everyone here has a crush on Molly Idle right now. I know I do” to which Molly herself replied, “It’s a mutual admiration society. :)” How great is that?) She talked about her trajectory from animation to illustration, how becoming an illustrator felt like a kind of homecoming, and the logistics of sharing studio space with her family. I was lucky enough to get to pick her brain about how illustration is like dance — “If you could just say it, you wouldn’t need to draw it!” — at dinner afterwards.

Moving from commune to commune during her childhood, Emily Jenkins (a.k.a. E. Lockhart) found home in books and in shared reading experiences that represented stability in her otherwise uprooted life. As a result of her nomadic upbringing, she came to believe that home is not a nostalgic place to return to (i.e., your parents’ house) but rather something you make for yourself every day. She went on to examine some fascinating examples of literary independent children, such as Pippi Longstocking and the Boxcar Children, and how they create home for themselves. Emily closed with a moving passage from her book Toys Come Home:

“Why are we here?” asks Plastic.
“We are here,” says StingRay, “for each other.”
Oh.
Of course we are.
Of course we are here for each other.

Elaine Dimopoulos, debut author of fashion-meets-dystopian novel Material Girls, is really super smart. (She’s also a grad school classmate and good friend of mine, so I am probably a little bit biased. But even Emily Jenkins says Elaine is “crazy smart.”) Elaine discussed the ways that the traditional narrative structures of home–away–home (for younger kids’ fiction) and home–away (for YA) are no longer realistic, and offered some solutions to help writers get grown-ups out of the picture and allow child/teen characters some breathing room. Elaine also told us the story of how, as a Simmons grad student, she introduced speaker M. T. Anderson at the 2005 Summer Institute (and how it changed her life), as well as a little about being a Writer in Residence at the BPL.

And that was it! You know, just all that. There was a wrap-up by Cathie and Megan Dowd Lambert, and everyone went *home* (or wherever), recharged, refreshed, rejuvenated. For a recap in verse (and in homage), check out Shoshana’s “Good Night, Paresky Room.”

See you in two years…

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44. Harry Potter-Themed ‘See You Again’ Video Goes Viral

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45. "Tiny Dancer" by Linda T Snider Ward, Louisiana artist

Tiny Dancer is an ACEO or "Artist, Cards, Editions, Originals" and the only rule for them is that they're 2.5" x 3.5". ACEO's can be any medium but just need to be that size. There are lots of ACEO sites. More of my artwork can be seen on my website and my Etsy shop

If you're a watercolorist or just someone who likes dappling in watercolor, and you would like to join this site and share your work, send me a link to your blog or website in a comment, and I'll add you to the site.

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46. Good Night, Paresky Room

With apologies to Margaret Wise Brown, a recap of Homecoming inspired by the homiest book of them all.

In the Paresky room,
Bird-Window-Chil-Institute.ashxthere were tweeting phones
and thought balloons
with pictures of
the places we’ve dwelt, and with whom.
There were dogs and bears,1 and familiar chairs,
and pulses2 that quicken at art, not at chickens.
Home, and publishing house,3
and a pig and his spouse,4
and a book-signing rush, and the impulse to gush,
and a dean in her teacher voice begging us, “Hush.”
Thank you room
with hallowed aura.
Thank you silent, dancing Flora.5
Thank you artists who fuss and fuss.6
Thank you authors who board the bus.7
Thank you Rita
and thank you Rita.8
Thank you fashion
and thank you passion.9
Thank you shelves
that locate selves.10
Thank you Jack, who kept to theme.11
Thank you Tobin’s Delaware dream.12
The stories of Simmons could fill quite a tome.13
We’re clicking our heels, for there’s no place like home.

_______________________________________

1. and Laura Vaccaro Seeger
2. like Bryan Collier’s
3. such as Neal Porter Books
4. David Hyde Costello’s example of casual porcine diversity
5. created by the delightfully talkative Molly Idle
6. including but not limited to Hyewon Yum
7. led by Kwame Alexander
8. Rita Williams-Garcia, age 33, and Rita Williams-Garcia, age 58, who held an enlightening conversation
9. and thank you Elaine Dimopoulos, who has both
10. because, as Emily Jenkins put it, “Home is where you keep your books”
11. Jack Gantos brings home the record for use of the word “home.”
12. M. T. Anderson’s version of Delaware may have involved some imagination
13. Or a three-act play performed by Barbara Harrison and Gregory Maguire

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47. A Lisbeth-Zwerger Moment


“Every afternoon, as they were coming from school,
the children used to go and play in the Giant’s garden.
It was a large lovely garden, with soft green grass. …”


 

Because Lisbeth Zwerger has always been one of my favorite illustrators, including one of the artists who made me want to study children’s literature, and because seeing her artwork improves the very quality of my day (and yours, I hope), I have a bit of art today from Oscar Wilde’s The Selfish Giant, as illustrated by Zwerger.

Zwerger originally illustrated this story back in 1984, but Minedition has released a new edition (April of this year). In fact, it’s called a “mini-Minedition,” because the book has a tiny trim size.

“The Selfish Giant” is Oscar Wilde’s classic short story, first published in 1888 in Wilde’s own collection of original fairy tales, The Happy Prince and Other Tales. The story itself is a heavily didactic Christian allegory, all about a giant whose garden is visited by neighboring children, while the giant is away. The children play in the garden, unbeknownst to the stingy man (depicted as a very tall man in Zwerger’s version), and when he discovers them, he shoos them away — only to discover afterwards that his garden is dying. It’s a curious little fairy tale, and now I can’t help but think of Jacqueline Woodson’s Brown Girl Dreaming every time I read it. In her memoir, Woodson she writes about the impact this story made on her as a girl:

The first time my teacher reads the story to the class
I cry all afternoon, and am still crying
when my mother gets home from work that evening. …

(I hope that quote is accurate, as I loaned my copy of the book to a dear friend, but I am fairly certain, thanks to the internet, that the above is correct.)

Zwerger’s illustrations are restrained and lyrical and, as always, graceful. Here are a few more.


“The only people who were pleased were the Snow and the Frost. ‘Spring has forgotten this garden,’ they cried,’ so we will live here all the year round.’ The Snow covered up the grass with her great white cloak, and the Frost painted all the tree silver.
Then they invited the North Wind to stay with them, and he came. …”


 


“And when the people were going to market at twelve o’clock they found the Giant playing with the children in the most beautiful garden they had ever seen. …”


 


“And the child smiled on the Giant, and said to him, ‘You let me play once in your garden, today you shall come with me to my garden, which is Paradise.’
And when the children ran in that afternoon, they found the Giant lying dead
under the tree, all covered with white blossoms.”


 



 

* * * * * * *

THE SELFISH GIANT. Illustrations copyright © 1984 by Lisbeth Zwerger. English edition published 2015 by Michael Neugebauer Publishing Ltd., Hong Kong. Illustrations reproduced by permission of the publisher.

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48. Boris Johnson Inks Deal for Shakespeare Biography

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49. Should You Get a Master Degree?

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50. Embodied Cognition

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