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1. Universal: Big “Wizarding World” Announcement Coming Dec. 8

Universal Studios Hollywood as posted a tantalizing tweet on their Twitter. The picture in the tweet teases fans about a “big update” about the Wizarding World of Harry Potter park opening in Univeral Studios SoCal location this spring.


With the recent release of a “first look” video on Universal Studios Hollywood’s official YouTube page, and the creation of an interactive website that allows fans to virtually explore and learn about the new park, a lot of information has been revealed.

Except the opening date. Universal has promised the park will be opened by Spring 2016. With much big news already released, this seems to be the only logical “big reveal” left untold. However, as Universal promises, more will be revealed next week, on December 8. Please stay tuned to Universal Studios’ official Twitter, YouTube page, and Leaky for this big announcement!

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Working on fantasy seascape
with mermaids riding sea-horses
at the Creative Wellness Center this summer.

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3. J.K. Rowling to Pay Tribute to Peter Kay

Radio Times is reporting that J.K. Rowling is to her good friend, Peter Kay. Kay is known as one of the best stand-up comedians in the world. Celebrating his “20 years of Funny,” Kay is obviously very good at making people laugh, holding a 2012 Guinness Book of World Records certificate for biggest stand-up show, selling millions of tickets on tour.

J.K. Rowling will be paying this tribute to her friend on a BBC1 special program, dedicated to Kay, airing on Christmas Eve. Radio Time states:


If you are going to have someone sing your praises then one of the most successful writers on the planet is probably as good a person as any…

Rowling is an old friend of Kay’s and in 2009 was pictured dancing with him at a charity ball.

And in 2011 she was spotted watching Take That perform at Glasgow’s Hampden Park with the comedian. 

The profile show, Peter Kay: 20 Years of Funny, will chart the Phoenix Nights and Car Share star’s life from his childhood growing up in Bolton, via the places and people who have influenced him, to his rise “to become a household name and national treasure”. 

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4. Winter Lake

This was an illustration I did for an ad agency some years ago.  Only adults having fun on the ice.

Acrylic on paper
 Steven James Petruccio

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5. New Beginning 1050

Three corpses dangled by ropes around their necks from the branches of the enormous border oak. Though rotted by time, the corpses still retained a mostly human shape, if you ignored the long tails. The breeze shifted. Carrion stench swept over the makeshift slave market.

Or, rather, the market of spies pretending to be slaves.

“Do they really think we're that stupid?” said Korus.

Psiris said, “They're expecting--”

“Dismount!” said Captain Nisin, suiting action to word.

The six men in the patrol meandered towards the market, leaving the two dogs guarding the horses at the top of the hill.

One of the slavers met them with open arms. “Good day, good sirs, and welcome. Are you looking for anything in particular? Oh, but I get ahead of myself. Come sit in the shade and allow us to display our wares.” The slaver led them to a tent with one side open.

"Here's a good one," said the slaver. "Tough, strong, women want him, men want to be him. Tell them your name."

"Bond," the muscular man hissed through clenched teeth. "James Bond."

Opening: Anonymous.....Continuation: khazar-khum

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6. Adobe Kills Flash Name, Rebrands It As Animator-Friendly Animate CC

Adobe's new Animate CC is making strides to be more animator-friendly, but is it too little, too late?

The post Adobe Kills Flash Name, Rebrands It As Animator-Friendly Animate CC appeared first on Cartoon Brew.

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7. BLP OPENS Banner

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8. Pixar Dominates the Annie Awards With Record 25 Nominations

"Inside Out" leads the way with 14 nominations.

The post Pixar Dominates the Annie Awards With Record 25 Nominations appeared first on Cartoon Brew.

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9. J.K. Rowling’s Lumos: Help Kids with Disabilities

Last year, J.K. Rowling’s Lumos raised $30,000 on Indiegogo to build a first-of-its kind Special Education Unit in Moldova with a goal to ensure that children with disabilities no longer need to be needlessly separated from their families in order to gain access to education. This year, Lumos is asking people to join them in collecting money to help furnish the unit with specialized equipment that the children will need in order to attend school.

J.K. Rowling founded Lumos to help countries reform their services for disadvantaged children and the organization has a goal of ending the institutionalization of children by 2050 to support their belief that children need families rather than orphanages.

This year’s project is aiming to reach to $35,000 USD. Both J.K. Rowling and the official Lumos Twitter page have shared links to the campaign along with their encouragements for donations.




The campaign can be found from here. Please note that there are different kind of perks available for those who donate, from rare Hogwarts maps to thank you videos and signed copies of The Tales of Beedle The Bard. 

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10. Meet D. A. Squires

dasquiresD. A. Squires began writing The Time Seekers story many years ago. The early chapters were set aside as she raised her two children and worked in various corporate jobs. However, the inspiration for this story was never forgotten . . . a blue and gold macaw parrot named Taco who steadfastly watched over her daughter’s crib (sadly, a silent sentinel).

Fifteen years later she was astonished when, one summer day, a blue and gold macaw named Taco and a common raven named Noir landed on her shoulders and insisted their story be written. So she wrote.

A graduate of the University of Connecticut with a Bachelor of Arts in English, magna cum laude, and elected to Phi Beta Kappa, Ms. Squires grew up in Connecticut and now lives in Florida with her husband, two cats (one named Samuel Adams), a dapple dachshund named Mr. Chips, and a slightly faded blue and gold macaw parrot who remains ever vigilant.

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11. Pre-#NY16SCBWI Interview: Agent Sarah Davies Talks to Team Blog's Martha Brockenbrough

And the first of our pre-conference faculty interviews is in (and it's awesome!)

Agent Sarah Davies talks with Martha Brockenbrough about middle grade fiction, what makes books "saleable," and when a writer can know their book is ready to submit.

Their interview is packed with great advice and suggestions, like,

"focus on developing the two big ‘C’ words — Concept and Craft." 


"Don’t be frightened to be radical — rewriting can be far more powerful than tweaking, as it allows you to pull in fresh thinking in the strongest possible way so the new draft feels fully coherent."

Sarah Davies will be on faculty at the #NY16SCBWI conference, giving a breakout workshop Saturday morning and afternoon, "Saleable and Memorable Middle Grade Fiction," and participating in the Sunday main stage panel, "Acquisitions Today: Opportunities and Challenges."

You can see Sarah in person and learn from all the amazing faculty (and fellow writer and illustrator attendees) by joining us at the 17th Annual SCBWI Winter Conference in New York. Registration and details here.

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12. An Interview with D.A. Squires

book bites for kidsAuthor D.A. Squires will talk about her new book, The Time Seekers, LIVE on Tuesday, December 15th at 2:30 central time on Book Bites for Kids.

Listen to that interview on the 15th by going to www.bookbitesforkids.com.

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13. "Time To Hi-BRR-nate"

Hidden Picture Puzzle for Highlights High Five Magazine
by Patrick Girouard

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14. Pre-Release Marketing

Here are twelve months of preparation for the launch of your book.


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15. Best-books-of-the-year Lists

Two Mice made it into three best-books-of-the-year lists!

The Horn Book Fanfare

The Washington Post

Kirkus Reviews


Screen Shot 2015-12-01 at 12.56.43 PM



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16. In 1900....

Jacqueline Kelly very kindly wrote another book about Calpurnis Tate. In The Curious World of Calpurnia Tate, Callie Vee, as her six brothers and parents call her, is disappointed to find that life in the year 1900 goes on pretty much like always.  She goes on rambles with her scientist grandfather.  She makes meticulous notes in her notebook.  She is by turns bedeviled and beguiled by her brothers.  And she disappoints her mother and baffles her father almost weekly.

Almost every other chapter tells of her struggles with Travers, her wild animal loving younger brother, and his latest "find".  The armadillo is a bust.  The raccoon is fated for failure, but the coy-dog??  Really???

Then there is the hurricane of 1900 that wiped Galveston, TX, off the map.  The barometer and Callie's chance sighting of a strange bird sends Callie's grandfather to the telegraph office to send wires to the coast.  Callie has to give up her bed to a cousin she barely knows - a greedy, penny-pinching cousin who has no appreciation of nature.  That and the disappearance of Callie's gold piece add up to a recipe for high drama.

In between, Callie runs errands for the new veterinarian, learns how to type, gets even with a conniving brother and deals as well as she can with her parents' expectations for her future.

This feels like a bridge book.  I am eager to see if Callie prevails.

MEANWHILE, in San Francisco, Lizzie Kennedy hates her school, Miss Barstow's.  She'd much prefer going out on doctor's calls with her father.  She loves science but, just like Callie Vee, her obsession is considered unseemly for a young woman. 

In Chasing Secrets by Gennifer Choldenko, there are rumors that plague has broken out in Chinatown.  Lizzie's uncle, the owner of one of the biggest newspapers in town, refuses to believe the rumors without proof.  But Chinatown is quarantined and trapped inside is Lizzie's cook and friend, Jing.  Jing leaves behind a secret - a real LIVE secret.  And that secret teaches Lizzie to look at her world in a whole new way.

There are a lot of secrets in this book; secrets that endanger a whole city; secrets that hide the way people really feel; secrets about how to fit in.  Lizzie has to find Jing, learn how to be friends with people her own age, survive her first ball, and prove her worth as a nurse. 

It all happened in 1900!

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17. Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town


Poor, misguided folks. They missed the whole point. Lot’s of unhappiness? Maybe so. But doesn’t Santa take a little bit of that unhappiness away? Doesn’t a smile on Christmas morning scratch out a tear cried on a sadder day? Not much maybe. But what would happen if we all tried to be like Santa and learned to give as only he can give: of ourselves, our talents, our love and our hearts? Maybe we could all learn Santa’s beautiful lesson and maybe there would finally be peace on Earth and good will toward men._Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town_ Movie

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18. Daniel Radcliffe’s NME Cover Interview

NME recently released their cover interview with Daniel Radcliffe – which is hilarious as usual – and definitely worth a read.

Here are a few extracts:

‘Bouncing into a huge wood-panelled conference room above the photography studio where he’s just been shot for NME’s cover, Daniel Radcliffe is presented with a cup and reaches for the sweeteners. “How many of these are you supposed to use?” he asks, merrily clicking little white pellets into his drink. Each of those is one sugar, we tell him. You’ve just given yourself seven sugars. “Oh, right,” he laughs. “Well, we’ll leave that then.”’

Radcliffe was asked about his choices in on-screen and stage appearances since Harry Potter. From The Woman In Black, Horns, Kill Your Darlings and The Young Doctor’s Notebook, to Equus, How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying and – most recently – ‘Igor’ in Victor Frankenstein (released December 3rd):

‘“No, I don’t really have mainstream tastes,” he says. “People do ask me, ‘Why do you choose such weird movies?’ but I don’t think they’re weird, they’re just stories I’m interested in. Isn’t having weird tastes good, though? I think so. I think that’s better than always wanting to play the handsome hero. You think I’m weird? I’ll take that.”’

Answering on expectations of his acting abilities after Potter, and on his appearance in studio films:

‘“I had a huge amount to prove [after Potter],” continues Radcliffe. “Proving that you can be a young actor and not be a complete f*****g disaster when you grow up. That is the – quite unfair I think – image that people have of young actors. There are a huge number of child actors who grow up fine. Always with my career in film, I saw Potter as an amazing beginning to it. I’m sure I’ll never hit that kind of commercial peak again but very, very few people will.” ‘

”Doing studio movies is fun because you get to do stuff that you mostly wouldn’t get to do on an indie movie, in terms of action. There is a part of me that, because I grew up doing it, loves that stuff and really misses it. Frankenstein was just the most interesting and original script I’d seen from a studio. It looked like fun to make, and it was.”’

Dan even commented on the first images of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them:

‘We meet on the day that the first images were revealed of Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them, the 1920s-set Potter spin-off that stars Eddie Redmayne as a magical explorer who collects bizarre creatures. Radcliffe hasn’t seen the pictures and jumps up to look at them on my phone, clocking Redmayne’s swishy cerulean coat and barking, “Oh f*** you, Eddie, in your brilliant costume… I got jeans and a zip top for 10 years and you’ve got a greatcoat already?”’

The prospect of anybody else playing Harry is strange to all of us (including Dan), but exciting at the same time – so exciting that Dan says he wants to wants to see Cursed Child:

‘What’s it like knowing someone else is going to play Harry? “It’s weird,” he says. “But I’m happy for it to go on without me. I’ve no ownership of it.” Would he go and see it? “Now that I know [Harry’s in it] I actually really want to see it. It would be a mental thing to try and see it with lots of very excited Harry Potter fans. But I kind of would like to know what happens now.”’

And – finally – touching words regarding the success of Harry Potter in continuing to inspire the world, and the part he plays in its influence:

‘He goes all wistful for a minute. “I’d always thought in the years after Potter finished that it would die down, but it’s just grown more because the people who were massive Harry Potter fans in their teens are now adults. So you meet them more. They’re not at home with their parents, they’re out in the world. It always amazes me when someone says what a huge part of their childhood it was. I still have a natural reserve that makes me go, ‘Oh don’t be so silly, I wasn’t responsible for your childhood.’ But I think about the stuff that means a lot for me from my childhood, like The Simpsons, and how, when I did a voice on The Simpsons I got a signed thing from Matt Groening and that was so f*****g exciting. The thought that I might occupy that space in somebody else’s childhood…”’

We’d definitely recommend reading the rest of the interview here!

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19. Soldier, Gaunt Soldier: Peter Watkins' The War Game

Today, we have a guest blog from Simon Bestwick to celebrate the launch of his novel Hell's Ditch, which is available either from Amazon or direct from the publisher Snowbooks. For the next seven days you can get the hardback or the ebook at a discounted price over at the Snowbooks website.

Anyway, here be the Bestwick's post:

Soldier, Gaunt Soldier: Peter Watkins' The War Game

As a writer your work’s the sum of your experiences: all you’ve seen and done, and the stories that have reached you. One that reached me, and shaped my novel Hell’s Ditch, was Peter Watkins’ The War Game, a film made for the BBC in 1965.
The War Gamewas Watkins’ second British film, and his last. Its original broadcast was cancelled by the BBC under pressure from the Ministry of Defence. Watkins, disgusted, left the UK, first for America – where he made the equally unsparingPunishment Park – before settling in Sweden. Despite winning the 1966 Best Documentary Oscar, the film wasn’t shown on British TV until 1985, when it was finally screened as part of a season commemorating the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

So what was so shocking?
Like Watkins’ first film, Culloden, (1964) The War Game is shot in a documentary style, narrated mostly by Michael Aspel, a TV presenter who became notable hosting game shows and This Is Your Life but was, at that time, best known as a newsreader. Its topic was nuclear war.
The film depicts the possible consequences of a nuclear attack on Britain. There are vox pops from men and women in the street, statements from churchmen, philosophers, politicians, doctors and nuclear strategists on the morality, nature and effects of nuclear war, all of this intercut with the film’s ‘live’ action: dramatisations of the events that precipitate the attack, followed by an unflinching portrayal of the attack itself and its effects.
The narration is cool and clinical, never emotive. At this distance, Aspel’s voice calmly tells us, the heat wave is sufficient to cause melting of the upturned eyeball, third degree burning of the skin and ignition of furniture.
In contrast, Watkins depicts the holocaust that follows in graphic detail: firestorms sweep the bombed cities, rendering firefighters’ attempts to combat the devastation futile. The attack’s victims suffer horrendous body burns. With doctors unable to treat more than a fraction of cases, the worst-injured patients are placed in a ‘holding section’ to die untreated; later, armed police officers end their suffering with a gunshot. A glassy-eyed civil servant explains how they’re keeping the wedding rings of the dead to identify them, showing the camera a bucket half-full of jewellery. A doctor calmly describes the symptoms of radiation sickness, and then those of scurvy (since most survivors, he points out, will be unable to obtain Vitamin C.)
And it doesn’t end there. The narration cites the aftermath of the bombings not only of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, but of Hamburg, Dresden and Tokyo. Many survivors are listless, apathetic zombies. Thousands more will suffer PTSD (as we’d call it now) from what they’ve gone through; vastly exceeding any resources available to treat them, most will be permanently traumatised.
But the child survivors, staring emptily into the camera to say “I don’t want to be nothing,” in dead, lifeless monotones, are the most chilling prospect of all: subject to such trauma in their formative years, many may go on to develop terrible character disorders. These are the inheritors of the world the nuclear bomb has left.
If the conclusion of The War Game reminds us that what we have seen has not been real, it’s scant reassurance: It is now possible that what you have seen happen in this film may already have taken place before the year 1980. Even knowing, as we do now, that it didn’t, is limited comfort when you remember that those weapons – and the possibility of their use – still exists.
Watkins set out to show that Britain was both hopelessly ill-informed on nuclear war’s nature, and hopelessly unprepared to cope with its effects – indeed, that its effects would be so devastating that no preparation would prevent the slaughter, devastation and eventual social collapse that the film shows. The official reaction to the film showed he’d touched a real nerve.
The War Game is up there with the similar-themed Threads as one of the most terrifying, dread-making films I’ve seen. It probably helps if you were born before 1980 and can remember the grim Mexican stand-off of the Cold War, but I defy anyone to watch it without a chill seeping into their bones.
The fear of nuclear war haunted my childhood; it fed into Hell’s Ditch and the world it’s set in. In particular, with The War Game, Watkins’ vision of the psychological trauma wrought by the conflict helped shape the book. The world of Regional Command Zone 7, Attack Plus Twenty Years, is a haunted one. All those who remember the time before are surrounded with its ruins, unable to forget, dogged by the ghosts of those they’ve lost; those who’ve grown up in the devastation have been made cruel and pitiless by it. And there’s no way back.
Forget Sawor Hostel, Insidious or Sinister: if you really want to be terrified, watch The War Game.
Simon Bestwick is the author of Tide Of Souls, The Faceless and Black Mountain. His short fiction has appeared in Black Static and Best Horror Of The Year, and been collected in A Hazy Shade Of Winter, Pictures Of The Dark, Let’s Drink To The Dead and The Condemned. His new novel, Hell’s Ditch, is out on 1st December.

       You Tube clip from The War Game

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20. Two Mice


Two Mice

Since it came out last September, Two Mice has received a lot of attention, including the inclusion in three prestigious best-books-of-the-year lists:

The Horn Book Fanfare

The Washington Post

Kirkus Reviews

And here’s what people think of the book (click on the links for the full reviews):

“There’s a lot of drama for a book about counting, but that’s not the only stunner. The world Ruzzier creates with his illustrations is so singular, so extraterrestrial that the pictures give the story a sci-fi vibe.” –The Boston Globe

“What a cute, clever way into number sense.” –The New York Times

“Expressive, mildly mischievous pen-and-ink illustrations in soft colors develop details and drama that the words leave out. (…) The book’s creative focus on pattern in plot leaves plenty of room for readers’ imaginations to play a strong role.” –The Horn Book (Starred review.)

“The simplicity of the text means that the earliest readers will soon be able to pick it up and will return to it over and over. One story. Two mice. Three cheers. Lots to love.” –Kirkus (Starred review.)

“A scintillating combination of danger and comfort.” –Publishers Weekly

“Sweetly satisfying.” —School Library Journal

“Two Mice is a brief master class in the picture book form.” –Nine Kinds of Pie

“The inventively undulating narrative structure, the sherbet-like color palette, fantastic tile floors, countless tiny visual surprises–and last but not least, the comfortingly resilient mouse friendship–make Two Mice a standout.” –Shelf Awareness

“A simple and simply lovely book. A sort-o- counting (well, one to three and back again) book and a tiny adventure story too. Absolutely charming.” –Monica Edinger

“Ruzzier’s counting book is a gem.”  –Waking Brain Cells

“Using pen and ink and watercolors, Sergio Ruzzier assures a place on the Caldecott list this year (well, I think that should happen).” –Sal’s Fiction Addiction

Two Mice is a tiny treasure waiting to be found over and over by readers.” –Librarian’s Quest

Read my interview with Julie Danielson at Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast

Read my guest post on the making of the book on Elizabeth Dulemba’s blog.


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21. Free Christmas Gift Tags


Happy December 1st! Wow it's been such a longggg time since I've blogged, but it's actually for a very good reason. I've been busy with work and planning for a SUPER EXCITING life changing event... I'm preggo and will be a mommy soon!!! :D My little bunny will be arriving into the world on March 18th. We feel so blessed and cannot wait! I created this announcement for friends and family.

To keep with the tradition, I've creating some holiday gift tags that seem to be a hit each year. It's a nice way to make your gift-wrapping that much more special. Enjoy! Download them here!

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22. Best of Short Fiction and Essays

A genre I always enjoy and wish I'd read more of at the end of each year.  It's really inexcusable how few of my Best American collection I've gone through.  That said, I do, of course, have some great choices from this year's reading.  I'll start with short fiction:

And some essays (and one book of poetry)

Did you read any amazing short story or essay collections (or poetry) in 2015?

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23. 12 Days of Christmas Giveaway Extravaganza - Day 1

Welcome to YABC's first annual 12 Days of Christmas Giveaway Extravaganza! We're featuring some of the hottest titles of the year--perfect for the book lover on your holiday list!--with exciting prize packs every day for the first twelve days of December. Each giveaway will run for seven days. Giveaways are US only due to publishers' rights restrictions in other territories. 

Are you ready to see the FABULOUS prize pack of books for today's giveaway? 

This prize pack of best selling YA titles is brought to you by the wonderful people at Random House Children's Books. Click on each cover to learn more about that title and then enter the giveaway at the bottom of the page.

Good luck, and be sure to come back tomorrow for another 12 Days of Christmas giveaway!


PRIZE PACK from Random House Children's Books





Enter by clicking the Rafflecopter link below. Good luck!


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24. The Time Seekers

About The Time Seekers

The Time SeekersAlexandra St. Germaine is dreading going back to school.
The Pine School is not a typical school and her sixth-year teacher, Miss Blueberry, is not typical either. And things get off to a rather disastrous start, leading to some shocking changes in Classroom #6.

At home, the elegant Chadwick Manor, Alexandra’s constant companion is a blue and gold macaw parrot named Taco. He is a kind-hearted and intelligent bird, with an impressive vocabulary and very definite opinions. All is well until one dark and stormy night, when Taco and Alexandra find their world quite upended. Two wet and windswept figures are standing in the Chadwick foyer–with their pets–and the winds of change begin to blow.

Mystery and magic sweep into Dark Harbor, along with the chilly fall weather . . . a teacher whose face is hauntingly familiar, the bewitching night of All Hallows’ Eve, time travel to a Salem Witch Trial, strange Miss Ima from the Book Nook, and a magical key which unlocks a tragic past.

The Time Seekers is a children’s novel for elementary (grade four and above) through middle school age children. In the tradition of Stuart Little, Charlotte’s Web, and The Wind in the Willows, The Time Seekers takes flight with two anthropomorphized birds: a macaw parrot and a common raven (who only speaks French), yet remains grounded in authentic human emotions and experiences . . . friendship, love, redemption and forgiveness, and never giving up.

With more than 500 pages (64 chapters, Prologue and Epilogue), some French language, The Time Seekers’ Map, and over 30 pen and ink illustrations, as The Time Seekers is opened, so, too, is a portal to a classic adventure story. An alchemy of magic and human emotion, woven into a tapestry of New England locales (Maine and Cape Cod), The Time Seekers truly belongs on the family bookshelf to be enjoyed by readers of all ages.

“You have no idea where childhood ends and maturity begins . . . it is all endless and all one.”

P. L. Travers
Author of the Mary Poppins books

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my MOST FAVORITE month of the year!!!

each day a piece of art will be offered at a DISCOUNTED price. ORIGINALS, 40% off. PRINTS, 30% off....for ONE DAY ONLY. my shop will host the FEATURED piece of the day with the DISCOUNT already added to the listing price (NO COUPONS NEEDED).

12 days of Christmas? nah. 25 ***DECEMBER DISCOUNT DAYS***, here we come! :)

kicking it off with this little lovely....

{told ya i LOVE DECEMBER...;)}

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