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Blog: TWO WRITING TEACHERS (Login to Add to MyJacketFlap)
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Blog: Kid Lit Reviews (Login to Add to MyJacketFlap)
JacketFlap tags: 4stars, Debut Author, Favorites, Library Donated Books, Middle Grade, NonFiction, children's book reviews, Donna Shea, guide for children, guide for parents, Nadine Briggs, nonfiction kids book, Simply Social Kids, social situations, The Peter Pan Center, Add a tag
by Nadine Briggs & Donna Shea
Age 8+ 142 pages
“Donna Shea, Director of The Peter Pan Center an Nadine Briggs, Director of Simply Social Kid are passionate about helping kids make and keep friends. They have spent years working with children who experience mild to moderate social difficulties and understand that social nuances can and should be taught. Parents and kids often need quick social skills advice that is easily understood and even easier to do in the moment. How to Make & Keep Friends provides 500 tips for children to learn how to manage 50 common social challenges in easy to digest top-ten lists. For parents and professionals check out How to Make & Keep Friends: Coaching Children for Social Success”
Introduction for Parents & Educators
“Welcome to How to Make and Keep Friends! Many kids struggle with social nuances which can make it difficult for them to form lasting friendships. Our tips have been successful for children with mild to moderate social challenges.”
Introduction for Kids
“Welcome to our book, How to Make and Keep Friends! We wrote this book for kids because we understand that making and keeping friends can be really hard to do sometimes. We help lots of kids learn how to get better at making and keeping friends, and with this book, we can help you too.”
About the Book
There are four sections in the book, each specializing in one particular area. The first contains tips for normal social situations and the common problems that can occur, including making new friends and figuring out body language and other non-verbal communications. The second section contains tips to help kids enjoy social success, such as knowing the difference between sharing something as opposed to bragging and handling embarrassment, anger, and impulsiveness. Section 3 covers the tough subject of being a good friend. This includes playing fair, playdates, proper etiquette, and even good table manners. The final section has suggestions for handling social challenges such as bullying, jealousy, and knowing when and how to get adult help.
Interestingly, the subjects in each section have suggestions and tips in lists of ten, rather than explaining problems or solutions. The idea is to allow kids and parents to open the book, find the problem, look through the ten suggestions, then go out and immediately use the chosen tip. Number one is not necessarily better than number ten, nor is ten better than one. What works best depends upon your child, and the situation. Most of the tips are great, though some—mostly verbal suggestions are not kid-friendly.
For example, in “How to Greet Others and Enter a Room or Place:” one friend greets another—your child—by saying, “Hello, how are you today?” Not many kids speak like an adult. They will say, “Hi,” or maybe “What’s up?” or “You okay?” but not “Hello, how are you today?” Even if they did, any kid who responds, “I’m fine, thanks, and how are you?” will be met with a funny stare and maybe a laugh. Leave out “and how are you” unless it was Aunt Mildred who asked. Parent’s need to make sure their child still sounds like a kid.
I like that How to Make and Keep Friends is for the parent as much as it is for the child. Under the heading Working Things Out, adults are reminded that when they tell their kids to “just work it out,” their child may not know what to do. Without a parent’s help, a child may end up in worse shape than before. For this reason, I think parents need to read this before or, preferably with, their child. Doing so might help the parent understand their child’s difficulties. Parents need to know when to help and when to step back.
The writing style of Ms. Briggs and Ms. Shea is conversational. A few sentences need a good editor’s pen, but overall this is a well-written guide kids and parents will find easy to read. There are no illustrations. I think a few, maybe at the head of each chapter, would have punched up the text and made the book look more like a guide for kids. And, admittedly, I like illustrations in books for kids. They give the eye a nice break, especially when the subject becomes emotional.
I truly like How to Make and Keep Friends. Kids need somewhere to turn and many of the suggestions are excellent.
“Being impulsive means doing or saying things without stopping to think first.” (tip 1) “When you have strong feelings like excitement or anger, breathe slowly and deeply to calm yourself down, since these are times when you might be impulsive” (tip 10)
Bad Peer Pressure:
“If someone is doing something wrong (like swearing) and wants you to do it too, you have the choice to say no. Remember choice is power.” (tip 3)
“The best thing to do is to not make a big deal—if no one says anything, just be quiet and let it go” (tip 2) “Try to remove yourself from the situation. Take a break, especially if you feel like you might cry.” (tip 6)
The book is dedicated to “the “what” to do rather than the “why” it needs to be done.” Hence, the ten tips for each problem. I am not a fan of “do” without knowing “why.” I never found this to work long term, yet How to Make and Keep Friends, with the tools and suggestions they do give kids, is impressive. Included is a reading reference guide for both kids and parents, a glossary of terms, and five ways to draw sides when choosing sides or deciding who plays first. Adults can incorporate most of the tips and suggestions into their own life. Bullying, making new friends, and not knowing what to do in social situations does not stop once someone reaches the age of 18. Until then, How to Make and Keep Friends will give kids a treasure of social tips and suggestions to guide them through the perilous seas of sticky social situations.
Learn more about How to Make and Keep Friends HERE!
ALSO AVAILABLE FROM BRIGGS & SHEA
HOW TO MAKE & KEEP FRIENDS: TIPS FOR KIDS TO OVERCOME 50 COMMON SOCIAL CHALLENGES. Text copyright © 2011 by Nadine Briggs and Donna Shea. Reproduced by permission of the authors, Donna Shea and Nadine Briggs.
Filed under: 4stars, Debut Author, Favorites, Library Donated Books, Middle Grade, NonFiction Tagged: children's book reviews, Donna Shea, guide for children, guide for parents, Nadine Briggs, nonfiction kids book, Simply Social Kids, social situations, The Peter Pan Center Add a Comment
Blog: The Children's Book Review (Login to Add to MyJacketFlap)
JacketFlap tags: Ages 0-3, Ages 4-8, Author Showcase, Bilingual Books, Cultural Wisdom, Picture Books, Carole P. Roman, Cult, Culture, Culture Around The World, India, Introduction To Culture, Language, Places, World Cultures, Add a tag
In her latest addition to the fun and educational series “If You Were Me and Lived In …,” award-winning author and former social studies teacher Carole P. Roman introduces young readers to the country of India.Add a Comment
Blog: Cait's Write... (Login to Add to MyJacketFlap)
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Running presents a very simple goal…
Keep pushing through to that other side my Runner Friends. It makes us feel alive!
More Running Motivation Art Posts
More Motivation Posts
Posts with Racing Tips
1) Did you race this weekend?
2) How did you stay mentally tough in your last race or workout?
3) The last time you weren’t so mentally tough, why, and what are you going to do to be tougher next time?
Blog: Utah Children's Writers (Login to Add to MyJacketFlap)
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Blog: The Children's Book Review (Login to Add to MyJacketFlap)
JacketFlap tags: Giveaways, Carole P. Roman, Culture, Culture Around The World, If You Were Me and Lived In, Introduction To Culture, Kids Series, Series Books, Add a tag
Enter to win a full set of the “If You Were Me and Lived in …” series; including the newest title If You Were Me and Lived in … India: A Child’s Introduction to Culture Around the World. Giveaway begins March 9, 2014, at 12:01 A.M. PST and ends April 8, 2014, at 11:59 P.M. PST.Add a Comment
Blog: WOW! Women on Writing Blog (The Muffin) (Login to Add to MyJacketFlap)
JacketFlap tags: Annie Hartnett, Associates of the Boston Public Library, Elaine Dimopoulos, writer-in-resident, writing awards, Add a tag
This week my son was in his basketball playoffs – five games in four days. And since it was the play-offs, these games weren’t at the elementary school gym. Oh no, we were traveling 20 minutes to the “big” gym at the high school. So we logged a lot of car time and passed the time posing questions to each other. One of my son’s questions was: If you could have any wish, what would it be? My answer was three months of uninterrupted writing time. No job, no laundry, no walking the dog. Oh, the luxury!
In light of my wish, when I received an email from Louisa Stephens of the Associates of the Boston Public Library about their Writer-in-Resident program I couldn’t resist learning more about it. According to Stephens, the fellowship provides a $20,000 stipend, an office in the library and nine months of writing time to a children’s writer. Now, the commute from Pennsylvania to Boston would be a bear for me but for another WOW reader out there it could be a possibility. If you could see yourself as the eleventh Children’s Writer-in-Resident, applications are open until April 1. You can find the application here. And if not, why not start searching for writing fellowships in your state? I know I am!
To learn a little more about what it’s like to be a Writer-in-Resident, I interviewed Annie Hartnett, the current Writer-in-Residence and Elaine Dimopoulus, a former Writer-in-Residence.
WOW: Tell us a little about what you were doing before winning the Writer-in-Residence award with the Associates of the Boston Public Library?
ANNIE: Before the fellowship, I was studying for my MFA in fiction at the University of Alabama. Before
ELAINE: I had earned my MFA in Writing for Children from Simmons College, and I was teaching children's literature as an adjunct professor at Boston University and Simmons.
WOW: How did you come to apply for the Associates of the Boston Public Library Children's Writer-in-Residence appointment?
ANNIE: During my thesis defense at Alabama last spring, there was some talk by the professors on my committee as to whether my novel-in-progress, Rabbit Cake, was for a young adult audience or not. My MFA program was not targeted at writers of young adult literature, so it was an interesting conversation, one I hadn't had before. Then I saw the fellowship with the Associates of the BPL posted on Erika Dreifus's blog and thought: why not throw my hat in? Let someone else tell me whether it's a young adult book! (And actually Rabbit Cake probably isn't going to end up as a young adult novel, but more on that in a moment…) I'd also been to a psychic who told me there was a big creative opportunity coming my way soon, which I know makes me sound totally nuts. Still, it would only be really nuts if she'd been wrong...right?
ELAINE: I had previously earned an emerging artist grant from the St. Botolph Club in Boston. My writing teacher and mentor at Simmons, Hannah Barnaby, was the inaugural writer-in-residence at the Boston Public Library. She encouraged me to apply to the residency and recommended me. I owe her a huge debt of gratitude!
WOW: Walk us through your average day as the Writer-in-Residence.
ANNIE: The fellowship requires me to spend nineteen hours of the week in the office at the library, divided however I choose. I'm also a bookseller at Newtonville Books, so I work around my schedule there.
The office is magical. It's a quiet, beautiful room, with a marble staircase and mahogany panels. And a window! Plus a computer and a desk. The resident before me (Hollis Shore) kept a bean bag in the corner, but I can't imagine bring a bean bag on the subway with me, so I just sit at the desk. No one can see me working, which is how I like it. I need absolute quiet to work. I don't even listen to music. I never write in public spaces, because I hate talking to people when I'm in the fog of my own world. Before you think I'm a big grouch, I do go into the main library often, but only to read.
ELAINE: I would take the train in after rush hour -- usually around 10 a.m. -- and write until 3 or 4 p.m. I usually ate lunch in the BPL's Map Room Cafe. It's quite delicious! I changed offices midway through the year, but both were fairly secluded. I did participate in outreach, though: I met with the head YA librarian and conducted some college essay writing workshops for teens, at the main branch and at a Roxbury branch. I also held "office hours" in the teen room, so I could chat with some of the kids.
WOW: How do you feel the award has helped with your novel? Was it mainly having the financial aid or did having that title give you additional motivation to finish your novel?
ANNIE: The financial aid was great, I'm not going to lie. It's given me a lot of time to write that I would not have otherwise been able to afford. But the title of writer-in-residence was motivating, and very validating. It gave me hope that someday people other than my own mother would want to read my book. The welcome reception the Associates of the BPL held for me in October was so wonderful too. It was so fun to hear people laugh at all the parts of the book I read that I wanted them to laugh at.
ELAINE: The title was amazing -- I felt like Miss America for the year. The accountability piece, having to hand over a completed manuscript at the end of the residency, applied a gentle pressure, but the most valuable way in which the residency helped my novel was making me come in every day to get it done.
WOW: What is your novel about? Can you tell us how the idea for this novel evolved?
ANNIE: Rabbit Cake is a darkly comic coming-of-age novel. It is narrated by Elvis Babbitt, a very precocious ten-year-old girl obsessed with animals. The book begins as the Babbitt family copes with the strange and tragic death of the mother, who recently drowned while sleepwalking. Elvis’s older sister, fifteen-year-old Lizzie, is a sleepwalker as well, with tendencies towards nighttime violence. When the father sends Lizzie away to a mental hospital, Elvis find solace at the zoo where she volunteers. Lizzie is released from the hospital three months later, her wild spirit seeming broken. With Lizzie on the couch all day, Elvis tries on the “bad sister” role, until the day Lizzie reawakens, emerging badder than ever. The novel ends two years after the mother’s death, when Elvis is twelve. It is a novel that plays with the concept of a “normal grieving period” after a loss.
Some of the novel came from my own obsessions, with animals, and with Elvis Presley. When I was little I used to say my prayers to Elvis. I don't know why my mother didn't have me locked up then.
ELAINE: Eco Chic is told from the points of view of two characters – Ivy Wilde, a Miley Cyrus-type manufactured pop star, and Marla Klein, a talented fashionista who has been elevated to being an arbiter of taste and trends for the masses – the story explores high fashion and the cult of celebrity, in a world where staying young and trendy are the keys to success.
The novel's title is now Material Girls. The idea originated observing fashion trends at a private girls school in Pennsylvania where I taught... and watching a lot of Project Runway!
WOW: Was your novel started before you began the writer-in-residence program? Where are you in the writing process?
ANNIE: Rabbit Cake was my MFA thesis at Alabama, and when I defended last April, I had 40,000 words completed, and a rough narrative arch. Last year it was a finalist for the McSweeney's Amanda Davis novel-in-progress award, which was another big motivator for me to keep working on the book. As it stands now, the novel is 80,000 words, and it's been rewritten and overhauled several times. I signed with an agent this January--Katie Grimm at Don Congdon Associates--and she helped me revise again and now the book is nearly ready for submission. I feel a little sheepish about this, but my agent hopes to sell Rabbit Cake as literary fiction, and not as a young adult novel. I trust she knows what she's doing, of course, but I certainly am hoping it will have crossover appeal to teens. I think I would have loved this book when I was sixteen, and I hope other sixteen-year-olds that share my weird, dark, sense of humor will love it too. Rabbit Cake is sort of similar in some ways to Carol Rifka Brunt's "Tell the Wolves I'm Home," which is a great novel for either teens or adults. I think teens should read adult books, and adults should read young adult books. The categories are not exact prescriptions, just a shelving category in the bookstore.
Truly, one of the best things the fellowship has done for me is that I've read so much young adult fiction this year, which I wasn't doing during my MFA. One of my favorite recent reads was "No One Else Can Have You" by Kathleen Hale. It's so dark and funny and smart. It's about the murder of a teenager girl in Friendship, Wisconsin. Five stars.
Oh and as for the question if would I be at the same place in my writing process without the fellowship? No way! Finding an agent in itself was a full time job. Anyone who is querying agents right now, my heart is with you.
ELAINE: I had written six chapters before I started the residency. I finished the draft in March or April of my term, revised it, and submitted it to agents. I was offered representation, and the novel went through two further rounds of revision before being picked up by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for publication in Spring 2015. I'm thrilled. It's hard to say whether I'd be in the same place had I not earned the residency, but the confidence of knowing that esteemed writers and editors believed in the project was a huge boost.
Now I’m preparing for my book launch! And writing and teaching, still. I primarily teach courses in writing for children and young adults at Grub Street, Boston's nonprofit creative writing center. I'm working on a picture book and a middle grade novel, which I'm hoping will be published after Material Girls!
WOW: What did you learn during the writer-in-residence program?
ANNIE: I can write a book! That was a great surprise!
ELAINE: I would say the best benefit was that the award taught me how to be a writer. I had to come in and write even if I wasn't in the mood, even if I had no idea how to begin a scene, even if I would rather have stayed in bed. Because of this training, I don't fear writing the way I used to, and I don't procrastinate as much. I know if I sit down in front of my computer, I can find my way around problems in my writing projects, and I know that I will, eventually, finish them. It's empowering.
Jodi Webb is still toiling away at her writing in between a full-time job, a full-time family and work as a blog tour manager for WOW-Women on Writing. You can contact her at email@example.com. For Jodi's take on reading and writing (no 'rithmetic please!) stop by her blog Words by Webb. Add a Comment
Blog: Cartoon Brew (Login to Add to MyJacketFlap)
JacketFlap tags: Cartoon Brew Pick, CGI, Student, Daniel Beaulieu, Vancouver Film School, VFS, Add a tag
This was a final project created by Daniel Beaulieu in Vancouver Film School's 3D animation program.Add a Comment
This weekend's The New York Times Book Review-Q & A features Teju Cole: By the Book.
Among the questions he's asked is: "What books are you embarrassed not to have read yet ?" to which he responds:
I have not read most of the big 19th-century novels that people consider "essential," nor most of the 20th-century ones for that matter. But this does not embarrass me.He's right not to be embarrassed by that of course -- life is, indeed, too short, and time is easily filled with any number of worthwhile things; not having read book X or Y is hardly shameful.
On the other hand, it does throw into a different light an earlier statement he makes, claiming that:
"the novel" is overrated, and the writers I find most interesting find ways to escape itSince he goes on to admit he's actually not engaged with what are considered the exemplary novels of the 19th and 20th century, surely his dismissal comes far too rashly ..... Maybe it's a good idea to read what are considered the 'essential' novels, to see what all the fuss is about, and only then make a grand pronouncement as to whether or not the genre as a whole is over-rated .....
(As someone who considers 'the novel' -- in all its many forms -- the be-all and end-all of literature, art, human thought, and human experience, I am, of course, biased. But even I am careful about dismissing any specific (other) form as over-rated.)
And at least he does give a shout-out to what is a very fine novel indeed (though, yes, one for which he wrote the Introduction): Ivan Vladislavić's Double Negative. Add a Comment
Easter is coming soon--April 20--and here's an interesting book that explores the historical and cultural background of Jesus:
Jesus of Nazareth, Boy and Man: A Novel of the Lost Years
By G Miki Hayden
*Jesus of Nazareth, Boy and Man: A Novel of the Lost Years* by the award-winning short story writer and novelist G. Miki Hayden tells the story of Jesus from his early preaching as a boy in the Temple to his discovery of who he is in relationship to "our Father." A lifelong spiritual student, Hayden has researched the period in depth along with the Jewish culture of the time.
*Jesus of Nazareth, Boy and Man: A Novel of the Lost Years* opens with the preaching of Jesus in the Temple and progresses through the years that the Gospels are silent on. Although this is a novel and the events are mere conjecture, Hayden has taken recent archeological findings and her own knowledge ...
The London Review of Books is certainly among the more interesting literary periodicals appearing in print in English -- certainly always worth a look (I have been an occasional subscriber, though I am not currently one) -- but Elizabeth Day's rather fawning profile in The Observer seems to be reaching in asking Is the LRB one of the best magazines in the world ?
For all the impressive writing they've published, it's still hard to overlook one of the basic bottom lines; Day decorously notes: "For all its success, the London Review of Books struggles to make money", which is a rather strong bit of English understatement: as she then admits: "in January 2010, the magazine was estimated to be £27m in debt" (to the trust which generously supports it -- though if it: "never has to worry about paying back its loans" I would/imagine hope the tax authorities have something to say about what sounds like a bit too dodgy a tax dodge).
LRB publisher Nicholas Spice is also quoted:
"It loses a lot of money," he continues cheerfully. The most important thing is that it has always had very generous support from its shareholders.Generous, indeed.
There is, of course, nothing wrong with such vanity-publishing: any number of fine publications -- especially those with a focus on the arts -- are generously subsidized and supported (though admittedly few have anywhere near this cushy an arrangement) and admirably, in the case of the LRB, that benefits their writers (paid: "at a base-rate of 30p a word (rising by a considerable margin if the article is longer than average")) and, to some extent, subscribers (cheap subscription rates). Still, given this very uneven playing field, one wonders how the unsubsidized The New York Review of Books and the Times Literary Supplement manage what the LRB can't ..... Read the rest of this post Add a Comment
Blog: Becky's Book Reviews (Login to Add to MyJacketFlap)
JacketFlap tags: 2014 library loot, Add a tag
- Greetings from Planet Earth by Barbara Kerley
- The Dashwood Sisters Tell All by Beth Pattillo
- Rebel McKenzie by Candice Ranson
- The Rise of the Tudors by Chris Skidmore
- The Lemonade War by Jacqueline Davies
- The Bell Bandit by Jacqueline Davies
- Wildwood by Colin Meloy
- In A Dark Wood Wandering by Hella S. Haasse, translated by Lewis C. Kaplan, revised and edited by Anita Miller
- Ivy Honeysuckle Meets Her Match by Candice Ransom
- Ivy Honeysuckle Discovers the World by Candice Ransom
- Tudor: Passion, Manipulation, Murder, the Story of England's Most Notorious Royal Family by Leanda De Lisle
- Elizabeth of York: A Tudor Queen and Her World by Alison Weir
© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews Add a Comment
Winter is sucking the happy out of all us with either too much snow in the Midwest and New England, too little rain in California or too much heat in Alaska. Everything is crazy outside, so why not disappear awhile in a rip-roaring adventure? Sometimes, escapist reading truly is the best kind of reading there is.
George Mann's intrepid steampunk "supernatural specialists" Sir Maurice Newbury and Miss Veronica Hobbes return in a quite diabolical serial killer investigation with The Executioner's Heart. The Newbury and Hobbes mysteries have always done a great job of showcasing both of its protagonists without leaving Hobbes in a subservient literary position, but this go-round is especially well done. Things get complicated quickly and all sorts of supporting characters step up to help unsort the web of clues and political intrigue the detectives uncover. At the center is still a killer who must be stopped and that, as usual, is where Newbury and Hobbes truly shine.
Newbury has some Holmesian issues to deal with and struggles with addiction that might strike a Baker Street chord. However, he also wrestles with the supernatural and is risking his life battling a spiritual entity on behalf of Hobbes' sister. The paranormal is to be expected of course, as this is an England where Queen Victoria is kept alive through machinery of a most unnatural kind, and don't even get me started on what our heroes find on display at the Crystal Palace exhibition.
But around all the wonderful world building is still murder and greed and lies. Bloody death is popping up all over the drawing rooms of London and the victims appear to be connected in only the most tenuous of ways. As Newbury and Hobbes get on the case, they find themselves considering some most unexpected suspects, and while the killer must be stopped, soon enough the killer is the least terrifying part of the plot. Readers in search of a modern take on classic adventure and Holmesian hijinks that move at a rapid pace will find The Executioner's Heart to be right up their alley. I don't know which one of these characters I love more, only that I heartily look forward to what happens with them next.
For a somewhat creepier detective novel, look no further than The Aylesford Skull by James P. Blaylock. Langdon St. Ives has anchored several Blaylock novellas, but this is his first full-length title. Now semi-retired and enjoying life in the country, in this go-round the intrepid detective is joined by his stalwart companions Tubby Frobisher and Jack Owlesby, a doctor from Edinburgh named Arthur Doyle, and a young former circus aerialist, Finn Conrad. The villain is, as usual, the nefarious Dr. Ignacio Narbondo although others scatter about. Most dangerously, there is the "Aylesford Skull," the ghost that comes with it and the paranormal nightmare that it is capable of unleashing.
I'd like to think that true Victorian England never looked so grim, except the grave robbing and serial murders that Blaylock describes are right out of late nineteenth-century London. Narbondo himself is so unsettling perhaps because his evil is so common and with his backstory fleshed out here (courtesy his mother), he becomes a villain that readers can understand although certainly never sympathize. (Which actually makes him a lot worse.)
In The Aylesford Skull, St. Ives faces down an attack on his family, the return of a "dead" friend, foes willing to shed the blood of anyone in order to increase their personal power and an increasingly insane Narbondo. There is also some fishing, bird watching, talk of elephants, a flying machine and pirates. Blaylock does his usual talented blend of fantastic and science-possible and the interplay between the supporting cast makes for a fast-paced plot. It's a dark tale that manages to be a fun read and happily, gives the author to space to indulge all of his literary whims with this always enjoyable character.
Charles de Lint's Jack in the Green, out this month from Subterranean Press, is a contemporary tale that transports Robin Hood and his Merry Men into the modern gang culture of the American southwest. Fans of de Lint will have some idea of what to expect here: teenagers trapped in grim circumstances who encounter elements of myth and folklore and embrace them to effect great personal change. This time the stakes are incredibly high but the legend is no slouch either and what happens to Maria when she spies old friend Luz breaking into a house with a new "gang" of her own is something magical.
Maria and Luz hoped to find some magic when they were young, and miraculously, it looks like it might have happened. Jack Green and his friends may not understand how things work in Santo del Vado Viejo, where the 66 Banda gang rules the streets and the cops are more concerned about protecting the gated communities, but standing up for the downtrodden is written into their DNA. Class consciousness is always part of de Lint's titles and it is front and center here as Green robs from the rich to help the poor. When Maria finds herself falling hard for the mysterious hero while getting caught in the middle of a turf war, de Lint raises the stakes and forces his characters into an impossible situation. Then he pulls it all out with the kind of ending readers have learned to expect. With such engaging young characters, a theme that will resonate with any teen reader and Robin Hood to boot, Jack in the Green (with illustrations by Charles Vess), is an excellent YA choice.
Unexpectedly, I found a thread of Nikola Tesla running through a couple of the books I read for this column. Tesla is enjoying a renaissance these days and finding him in books for middle-grade and teen readers is an excellent way to build curiosity about this brilliant inventor.
Nick and Tesla's High-Voltage Danger Lab by "Science Bob" Pflugfelder and Steve Hockensmith is a throwback to classic 1950s style adventure stories (The Mad Scientists Club, anyone?). Siblings Nick and Tesla Holt have been sent for the summer to stay with their unorthodox Uncle Newt in Half Moon Bay while their scientist parents look into soybean growth in Uzbekistan. In short order they discover he is the very definition of eccentric, and while soaking in all the scientific awesomeness of his home lab (not to mention his home, period), the kids put together a fun rocket experiment and accidentally end up launching Tesla's necklace into the yard of the forbidding, sort-of-abandoned mansion down the street. The necklace must be retrieved, very big guard dogs thwarted, mysterious girl in the upstairs window rescued and lots of bad guys stopped. To accomplish all this, the brother and sister enlist the help of some bicycling neighborhood kids and more than a few things from Uncle Newt's basement. In the end a nefarious plot is stopped and the good guys win with lots of clues laid out for future adventures including figuring out just what Nick and Tesla's parents are really doing.
What elevates Nick and Tesla's High-Voltage Danger Lab above standard MG hijinks is the unique book design, which incorporates not only blueprints and schematics on every page but also illustrations throughout. On top of that, the authors include step-by-step instructions for every experiment that Nick and Tesla conduct so readers can give them a go as well. The directions are basic and easy to follow, the components accessible from your own home or local hardware store and the results a lot of fun -- rockets! "robo-cat dog distractor"! electromagnet! The narrative provides a standard page-turner but the experiments are an extra kick that shows the sort of fun that can be had when science leaves the lab. The second book in the series, Nick and Tesla's Robot Army Rampage, is out now and a third, Nick and Tesla's Secret Agent Gadget Battle, is due shortly.
Tesla's Attic by Neal Shusterman and Eric Elman is billed as a middle-grade title, but I think it actually works best for teens. The only thing it is missing from standard YA fare is romance and frankly, sometimes teen readers don't want romance in their mystery-adventures. For those interested in what strange things could be lurking in an inherited house and how they tie into a potential "Men In Black" conspiracy, then, Tesla's Attic fits the bill. Make the heroes a smart and fearless group of Super 8 level teens who are not superpowered, not magical and not on the cusp of finding some mystical object that will make them superpowered or magical, and you have a great start to what is billed as the Accelerati Trilogy.
Fourteen-year-old Nick, his younger brother and father have moved into his great aunt's house large rambling Victorian house, which was left to them in her will. Still reeling from the recent death of his mother in a fire, Nick is struggling to hold his family together as they make their way in a new town, new school, and new family reality. Cleaning out the attic for a garage sale seems like a good idea, as Aunt Greta was knee-deep in a lot of who looks like junk. Unfortunately there are some bizarre side effects to the seemingly innocuous toasters, vacuums, tape recorders, and other items that make their way into the community at the surprisingly successful sale. After some strange occurrences at home, Nick realizes he has to get all the stuff back and enlists the help of some classmates who have been freaked out by their purchases. In the meantime, the group tries to figure out just how these things got to be so powerful and who might have built them.
Tesla fans will already know that there are plenty of connections between the inventor and Colorado, so the idea that he might have stashed a few things in an old friend's house for safekeeping is not beyond the realm of possibility. Just what the inventor was up to with all this stuff is another thing however, and when a group of deadly physicists appears who really wants the stuff, (and is willing to do whatever it takes to get it), then the stakes increase exponentially. It's one thing to save a neighbor from a wild toaster but quite another to face down folks who are as likely to kill you as negotiate. Nick has to get a grip on what he has unwittingly loosed on the town and also be mindful of his family, who don't know what's going on and are facing their own demons as well.
The chemistry between Nick and his friends, Mitch, Caitlin, and Vincent, is really fantastic. They are a complicated group, not all necessarily likable, and hiding their own secrets as most of us do. They come together first because of circumstance -- each has one of the attic objects -- but slowly, as they work on solving the mystery, they become friends. It's a lot of fun to see them form a team and the way Shusterman and Elfman have written them, as teenage "everymen," readers will easily be able to project themselves into the story. Tesla's Attic was a very fun read for me, one of the more engaging and surprising titles for teens I've come across in a while.
If these novels sound appealing then consider Elizabeth Rusch's picture book biography of Tesla, Electrical Wizard: How Nikola Tesla Lit Up the World. There is a wealth of information in here about Tesla's childhood, his emigration to the U.S. and his infamous problematic relationship with Thomas Edison. Rusch shows how he was thwarted more than once by people who doubted his ideas and eccentric thinking but never backed down. It's a very inspiring story, and Oliver Dominguez's full color illustrations bring to life the inventor and the times he lived in. While Electrical Wizard: How Nikola Tesla Lit Up the World was clearly published for elementary school-aged children, I would not hesitate to recommend it for older readers. This is a great literary dip into the waters of Tesla's life and not to be overlooked simply because it is a picture book. I relished every page.
COOL READ: While I have become quite accustomed to the Scientists in the Field series taking me to unexpected places in the company of interesting people, The Tapir Scientist: Saving South America's Largest Mammal by Sy Montgomery is a trip way off the tracks. Likely few readers will have ever come across a tapir, even in the local zoo, and books about them are few and far between. But Montgomery excels at trips into the unexpected corners of the wild and she succeeds brilliantly here, in the company of field scientist Pati Medici and her associates. Along with photographer Nic Bishop (familiar to readers of the series), Montgomery went into Brazil's wetland territory to find the tapir. In the midst of some serious insect attacks and heat that makes a Florida summer seem downright Arctic in comparison, Montgomery and Bishop were witness to the work of this dedicated group who are trying to save the tapirs and the forests that depend on them.
There are some fascinating facts here, such as that tapirs are most directly related to horses and rhinos and have changed little in the last 12 million years. The pictures are, as usual for the series, clear, compelling and dynamic. The Scientists in the Field books never get old and with its unique subject, The Tapir Scientist is one of my all-time favorite entries.
This is the final installment of the Bookslut in Training column. I hope you have enjoyed reading it every month as much as I have enjoyed writing it. I am still writing, still reviewing, and can be always found online at my website, chasingray.com, and via Twitter (@chasingray).Add a Comment
Blog: Confessions of a Bibliovore (Login to Add to MyJacketFlap)
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Book: The Winner's Curse
Author: Marie Rutkoski
Published: March 4. 2014
Source: ARC from a friend
In the Herrani city conquered and occupied by the forces of the Valorian empire, everything and everybody has their place. Kestrel knows what's expected of her, as General Trajan's daughter. She will either join the military or she will marry. Either way, she will take a predetermined place in the adult world by her twentieth birthday.
Unfortunately, at seventeen she's miserably unsuited for either. In spite of her clever strategic mind, she's only okay at actual combat with actual weapons after years of training. And she can't think of a single Valorian man she's willing to marry. The only thing she truly loves is music, and making music is not a suitable pastime for a Valorian lady. It is the business of slaves.
It's music that prompts her to purchase Arin, a Herrani slave. But he refuses to sing. In spite of that, the conquerer's daughter and the conquered man find themselves drawing closer to each other. And it's getting noticed, by Herrani slaves and Valorian high society alike.
But Arin is embroiled in a plot to rescue his homeland from the iron grip of the Valorian empire. When the revolution explodes, the only safety for the conquerer's daughter is with the man who betrayed her country.
And maybe not even there.
Before I delve into this book, I'd like you to have a look at that cover. Go ahead. Study it hard. That girl in a pretty dress, swooning, clutching onto the lettering for dear life, letting a dagger slip from her fingers. Is that Kestrel? To me, it wasn't, and thus I spent most of this book in a quiet simmer of WTF over that cover, while enjoying what was beneath it very much.
Honestly, I was so put off by this cover (I'm really really over the swoony girls in opulent dresses thing, guys) that it was only a cover blurb from Kristen Cashore that got me to try it. I'm so glad I did. It's a love story, true, but it's also about power and politics and rebellion and strategy.
It starts small and intimate (here's a girl, out of place; here's the boy who sees her real self) and grows into a story that concerns itself with the fate of not only countries, but empires. And yet never loses sight of the small and intimate. That's quite a trick.
The love story at the center is also more than your usual love-at-first-sight. In spite of surface differences, Arin and Kestrel are very much alike. Besides music, they both have brilliantly strategic minds, watching the world and people from the outside and seeing game pieces that can be played. They are also both terribly lonely. More than anything else, this loneliness pulls them toward each other.
As they grow closer, they play emotional chess with each other and with themselves, examining their own behavior and each other's at every turn. In this book, love does not switch off the strategic mind. It becomes another game piece, another lever, another way to twist the world into your control or to see how and why it's twisting out of it.
This is (of course) the first of a trilogy. But it's a trilogy that's going on my auto-read list, especially after the end of this book. I just hope the next two covers are better.
Blog: Barbara O'Connor (Login to Add to MyJacketFlap)
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Blog: Art & Drawings by Dain Fagerholm (Login to Add to MyJacketFlap)
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Blog: Neil Gaiman (Login to Add to MyJacketFlap)
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I flew to Philadelphia and went to Rowan University in southern New Jersey, where I met photographer Kyle Cassidy (aka my friend Kyle Cassidy). We did a Master Class together, answering questions, talking about what we do and how we do it, and, at one point, reading stories and showing photographs from Who Killed Amanda Palmer. Then I gave a talk that was also a reading as part of the Rowan University Presidents' Lecture Series, that was as much fun as the talk/readings I did in Billings and Calgary, and the audience seemed to like it, and I loved how comfortable I'm starting to feel on stages in universities and such. I no longer feel, when I'm out on the stage, like I'm faking it, or that I'm there under false pretenses.
As Kyle and I were walking through the campus he pulled out a camera and took these photos...
It was windy. My hair does not normally try to escape.
I look like I was living out in the frozen wilderness, where I was panning for adjectives or something else that wild writers do.
If you go to http://thedeanblog.com/kyle-cassidy-and-neil-gaiman-bring-the-creative-to-ccca/ and read about the day from the Dean's point of view, you'll see a photo she took of Kyle taking the bottom photograph. How unusually recursive.
(The first question to be asked at the talk was "What's up with the beard?" and I expained it was my hiding out and being anonymous beard, but has survived because Amanda wanted to see it when she returns from Australia.)
Then I flew to San Francisco (I finished Monica Byrne's lovely THE GIRL IN THE ROAD on the plane and also proofread the second GRAVEYARD BOOK graphic novel, and went over J. H. Williams' breakdowns for the third part of SANDMAN: OVERTURE.) It was a mostly quiet flight, although it was also the first time I've ever seen the pilot of a plane come out and explain to drunk and unpleasant passengers that if they didn't stop being unpleasant he would have them arrested.
Let's see. Important things... apologies to Detcon 1, I'd wanted to post about their nomination process for their YA and Middle Grade Fiction Award, but I missed the deadline.
I very nearly missed the deadline to tell you that the Coraline ebook is an Amazon US GoldBox special tomorrow (Sunday), and it will be Very Cheap Indeed. (I think the link is http://amzn.to/1fO9R5X but that might possibly be the wrong ebook edition.)
The folk making the Wayward Manor video game have let me know that the pre-order site, http://whohauntsneil.com, is coming down in a week. So if you want to pre-order the game, the t-shirt, or even attend the pricy and exclusive but incredibly cool haunted Magic Castle dinner with me, you should click over to http://whohauntsneil.com/welcome/#shop and buy all the things with alacrity.
Wayward Manor has just gone up on the Humble Store, where you can also preorder it, and it will remain there for the couple of months until its actual release.
The Guardian has a photoset of the 26 Characters for the Story Museum. You've already seen me as Badger here on the blog, but this is your chance to see Hanuman and Till Eulenspiegel and the Wicked Witch of the West...
On April 4th, cartoonist, designer, artist, writer and teacher Art Spiegelman and I will be in conversation at Bard College, NY state. We will talk about comics and MAUS and music and art and being Jewish and life and everything I have ever wanted to ask Art. (Or he will ask anything he's ever wanted to ask me.) Tickets are available now. Please come: It's a big hall and we will be lonely if it echoes.
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February 3 A novel by Steve WheelerAdd a Comment
Blog: La Bloga (Login to Add to MyJacketFlap)
JacketFlap tags: Ina Riaskov, Lesbian, mexico city, Mujeres, poetry, Producciones y Milagros Agrupacion Femenista, Rotmi Enciso, tatiana de la tierra, VIVAS, Women Calendar, Add a tag
Olga Garcia Echeverria
In August, cumulous clouds and a poem by tatiana de la tierra greet me, “Prisionera de tu perro.” My heart warms and I laugh aloud, remembering this querida amiga, bloguera, escritora. It’s a true story, the poem. tatiana once got dumped for a dog. She was indignant when it happened. “Can you fucking believe it? A dog! A cat maybe, pero un perro comemerida?” Her revenge was to write a poem-song (with a loud barking chorus) to the ex-lover. “You don’t seem too heartbroken,” I said to her once while she was practicing the poem with a yowling gusto. She barked, and then kept on singing.
Gracias Ina and Rotmi. Your international parcel is greatly appreciated. Las mujeres en este calendario están VIVAS.
Calendario de mujeres opportunity: I have two extra VIVAS calendars to share. It's bilingual queer word and mujer visual art to hang on a wall porque every day is a good day to celebrate International Women's Day. If you'd like a calendar, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I'll send the first two people who respond a cool parcel in the mail.
Rotmi Enciso & Ina Riaskov: Artistas, Activistas, Femenistas, Revolucionistas, Lesbianistas, Internacionalistas.
To learn more about VIVAS contact Rotmi and Ina via Producciones Y Milagros Agrupacion Femenista, A.C. email@example.com or on twitter: @prodymil
Shamus Award-winning author John Straley returns with another mystery set in the Southeast Alaska region he calls home with the delightful and witty "Cold Storage, Alaska." Straley, an investigator for the public defender's office who lives in Sitka, is widely known for his Cecil Younger series which includes "The Woman Who Married the Bear" and "The Curious Eat Themselves." His new novel is funnier but no less spot-on with its depictions of the colorful characters who populate the small, isolated town of Cold Storage.
(Did I just write "colorful"? Please forgive me. I need to turn in my proof of Alaska residency right now before a reality TV producer calls and asks if I can recommend anyone for a new show.)
The plot is straightforward: Former bad boy Clive McCahon is on his way home to Cold Storage after serving seven years in prison Outside for dealing cocaine. He smartly put some money away before his arrest and now recovers it, believing that by keeping his mouth shut and protecting his employers he has earned some goodwill. Along with newly acquired former guard dog "Little Brother," he sews his cash into his new parka and heads north.
Once Clive reaches Juneau, Straley starts to have a lot of fun with the Alaska way of life. Consider how he describes the flight out of Juneau in a de Havilland Beaver, which begins with the words no passenger ever wants to hear: "We're going to give a try!" After stopping in Pelican, where the pilot unwisely chooses to take on a salmon wrapped in a garbage bag and shoves it under his seat, things take a bit of a negative turn. It should be noted that Little Brother is not in an FAA-approved kennel, because, well, if you've flown in Alaska then you know why:
"Is there a problem?" Tommy yelled over his shoulder.
A rocky ridgeline lay a few hundred feet below them.
"Just a few more minutes and we'll be down," Tommy said. "Can you keep control of that dog?"
"We're doing fine," Clive called. "We're having the time of our lives!"
He tried to wrap his new coat up around Little Brother's shoulders but the dog seemed to be growing. He would soon be the size of a buffalo, Clive thought.
Looking over his shoulder, all Tommy could see was a massive rump of brindled dog pushing against the seat. Above the roar of the engine, he could hear deep growling.
"Just a few more minutes," he said in a weak voice.
Clive pulled against Little Brother's collar, but the dog wasn't interested in calming down. He reached back and with his teeth he grabbed the coat from around his shoulders. He began to furiously tear at the parka; feathers and dog slobber flecked against the windscreen.
Tommy started pumping the flaps and leveling off for a landing but hundred dollar bills were floating up over his shoulder and landing in his lap. He pushed the plane down on the water. Feathers and paper money fluttered through the cabin. The dog snarled, Tommy shrieked and Clive closed his eyes.
That is, of course, what we call an uneventful landing in the Last Frontier.
After safely arriving, Clive sets out to reestablish himself with his war-hero brother Miles, now the town's physician's assistant and sole medical representative. In a fit of civic improvement, he also starts working on a new bar/church -- there must be an equal number of bars and churches in the community, per town ordinance. In the meantime, Straley makes his way around Cold Storage, introducing all the regular characters, from the bored -- and randy -- married school teacher to the completely devoid of humor -- and humanity -- Alaska State Trooper and most warmly, the much-beloved young resident whose religious conversion has led him to set off in a kayak for Seattle and a meeting with the visiting Dalai Lama. The fact that his salvation arrives via cruise ship is a stroke of literary genius.
Clive's money ends up causing some problems, and guns and violence arrive in Cold Storage, although even then the laughs keep coming. But what impressed me the most about what Straley has done here is that unlike so many of the ways that Alaskans are portrayed these days, he writes his characters as colorful and idiosyncratic but also kind, smart and deeply moving. Yes, they live in a place that breeds a bit of zaniness -- how could it not, when it rains all the damn time? -- but that doesn't make them something to be mocked. For all that, "Cold Storage, Alaska" is certainly a wild mystery in the vein of Elmore Leonard's "Get Shorty" years or all of Carl Hiaasen, it is just as much an homage to small towns and the people who fill them. What elevates Straley above so much of the competition is how very much he cares about the people and places he writes about. He gives us Alaska with heart, exposing his own deep love for the state in each and every hilarious word.Add a Comment
Blog: TWO WRITING TEACHERS (Login to Add to MyJacketFlap)
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Author Jack Gantos offers tips to students at the International School of Kuala Lumpur. Welcome to Day 9 of the Classroom Challenge.Add a Comment
Blog: Read Now Sleep Later (Login to Add to MyJacketFlap)
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Inspired by Pop Culture Junkie and The Story Siren, Stacked is our sister-site's weekly post where we share with you the books that we've bought, borrowed or received for the week.
This is actually an Unstacked post since the ratio for books bought to books given away was 1:50 this week. As you may have read recently, my mom had a stroke and I went home to the Philippines to help out. My dad, brother, and aunt all work during the day, and my little sister isn't 100% capable of watching over our mom and doing all the chores etc. (Though she is a hero, since she figured out how to call for help when Mama passed out in the hallway. For someone who is considered to be fundamentally a toddler all her life, she's one smart cookie.)
The one book I picked up was actually an eBook, The Shadow Society by Marie Rutkoski. The Kindle edition was on sale for $2.99. Marie's new YA novel, The Winner's Curse, is out now. I didn't particularly enjoy it, but I recognize that there will probably be quite a few people who will like it a lot better than I did. I like her writing style, but I didn't care for the plot and characters in The Winner's Curse. I'm hoping that The Shadow Society will be a bit more like my cup of tea.
It looks like I will be here a while, so I'll keep you posted regarding further hoard management and possibly a YA author event or two I will be attending. Anyway, that's it for me and book acquisitions/donations this week. If you want to catch up with what I've been doing in the Philippines, follow @frootjoos on Instagram.
Last but not least, Pasadena Teen Book Festival is coming up! We are now on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram, and you can still get free tickets at Eventbrite. Blogger friends, more info on the upcoming blog tour is on the way, I promise! I was just really hard at work to get the tote bag design done so we can order them from the screen printers. The first 100 people to arrive at the event will get the tote for free :)
Blog: RANDOM WRITING (Login to Add to MyJacketFlap)
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You might miss it, if you didn’t know what you were looking for. At first, even I thought no one was on the nest.
But there she was, just the top of her white head showing on this glorious day . . .
The Eagle’s are expecting!
The lake was crazy busy today with an ice fishing derby down by the state park. The eagle stayed put on her eggs, even though four wheelers and snowmobiles circled her island. And in spite of the ice fishermen who had set up directly under the nest. (I’m suspecting they didn’t know she was there, considering the side of the island they were on)
Her mate, roosting in a nearby tree, was a little more restless, however.
It IS quite early for them to be sitting on their eggs. Do they know something we don’t? Can we hope that it means an early spring is on the way?Add a Comment
Blog: An Awfully Big Blog Adventure (Login to Add to MyJacketFlap)
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|First successful book! our version|
doesn't have the touchy-feely stuff
|The best of the cot books|
|You can't be too young for Judith Kerr|
On the whole, board-book prequels tend to be of the Peppa Pig &co merchandising category. I'd be wary of buying into something quite so commercial, but I guess if the baby has an older sibling who has Gruffalo and Peppa stuff around it makes sense. Here's a Thomas the Tank Engine title that introduces the engines that will feature in the child's coming Thomas TE experiences.
I think I might get the Moomin introductions to colours and numbers, though. Fostering an interest in moomins is, like fostering a liking for vegetables, a good investment in future health.
Here's the surprise discovery: board books for the children of literary parents. Now, it's one thing to introduce your baby to Peppa and Mog, protagonists of stories they can engage with pretty soon.
|More for the grown-ups than the babies|
But how about Pride and Prejudice? Anna Karenina? Moby Dick? Pride and Prejudice turns out to be a counting book (four stately houses, etc). Not a fan: how to build an interest in the trappings of capitalism and elitism.
|Might well buy this one|
Moby Dick I rather liked. It calls itself an 'ocean primer' and introduces ideas such as whale and anchor. I don't recall there being a harpoon page, fortunately.
|Seriously? Clothes to die for?|
Anna Karenina? Wow. Adultery and suicide for the under-twos. But it's massively disappointing. Look closely. It's the Anna Karenina fashion primer. Can you identify Anna's earring? Where is her hat? FFS. Does her handbag hold a one-way train ticket...?
I can understand that Pride and Prejudice and Moby Dick might appeal to parents who like those novels. It's a bit far-fetched to suggest that they will lead young readers to those titles 14 years later, but if they did there would have been no serious misrepresentation. But if you turned to Anna Karenina expecting fashion to be a big part of it, you'd be in for a shock. (I do remember some referenc to Kitty's striped silk dress; but I don't think fashion was a theme, as such.)
I'm going back to town to look for more boards books - any favourites to suggest? Without a narrative, for now.
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Blog: Robin Brande (Login to Add to MyJacketFlap)
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Maybe I’m never supposed to admit this in public, but here goes:
When I was in high school, there was a soap opera called Ryan’s Hope. And on that soap opera was a beautiful, smart, tough, sexy, overdramatic character that a LOT of things happened to, because it was a soap opera, and she had awesome hair and she was beautiful and smart and she was a lawyer.
I went to college and majored in English. Then Philosophy, then Management Information Systems (the old-fashioned name for Computer Science), then Secondary Education, then Elementary Education, back to English, then Accounting very briefly (it was close to my senior year, and I knew very soon I’d have to support myself and needed a practical degree), then back to English (because forget being practical, this is ME! I love books! I might be an English professor! Shut up! I just want to read!), and by then I just needed to graduate, so I stuck with English.
And because I still needed to support myself, I thought what the hey, let’s take the LSAT (the admissions test for law school) just for fun, and then I scored really high, and my course was set.
But really it was because of that character on Ryan’s Hope. She made it all seem so cool and glamorous. I’m really impressionable that way.
And now today I saw this. And I’m telling you, if I’d seen that back when I was in high school or college, there’s no doubt in my mind I still would have become a lawyer. Because Amy Poehler nails it:
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And also this:
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