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1. So is it Halloween yet?


So is it Halloween yet? This fun illustration goes along with a story I wrote that I always liked. Somehow it feels like it's almost time - dark, cold mornings, it takes forever for the sun to come up. I don't know if we're getting an Indian Summer or not this year in Seattle.

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2. metallic voodoo

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3. Clement on the Can — New CLEMENTOONS Adventure


In this brand new episode of CLEMENTOONS, Clement makes a sled out of a crushed soda can and embarks on a wild ride. (Direct link to video)

CLEMENTOONS is my stop-motion animated adventure series about a little cartoon person on a perilous journey through the real world to the toyland of Melville. 


The animation is painstakingly shot frame by frame and then compiled into a movie. In this shot, a geared-down Lego motor pulls the sleds at a constant but very slow rate, while a still camera shoots at five second intervals.


There's no green-screen and no digital effects. When Clement goes through the brambles, he's really going through them.

The episodes will be released out of order. Each one begins with an escape and ends with a cliffhanger. 
------
Previous videos:
Clement Meets Miss Bubbles
Clementoons: Behind the Scenes
Song by Frankie Trumbauer "There'll Come a Time," 1927,
Clementoons theme music by The Yanks, "If There Weren't Any Women in the World" 

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4. Conrad Wesselhoeft, Author of DIRT BIKES, DRONES AND OTHER WAYS TO FLY, Talks About Place.


When I read Conrad Wesselhoeft's DIRT BIKES, DRONES AND OTHER WAYS TO FLY - if you haven't read it, do it NOW - I had to know how my friend, fellow author, and Seattle dweller was able to pull off a New Mexico setting so spectacular, I felt like I was riding on the back of his bike racing over those dusty trails. So I asked. His answer inspired me and taught me a great lesson on what makes a setting work. It's sure to inspire you. Thank you, Conrad! Got an extra helmet? Let's go for a ride.

In Praise of Place: Why fiction writers should light out for personal territory

By Conrad Wesselhoeft

In my mid-twenties, I fell in love with northeast New Mexico—the high plains, broken mesas, torn shadows, and rich, drifting light. I lived for two years in the town of Raton, working as a journalist for the local newspaper.

Working for a small-town paper meant doing every job in the newsroom: writing and editing stories; laying out the paper on a composing table; and taking and developing photos.

I took thousands of photos, criss-crossing the county with my sturdy Pentax K1000 camera—later moving on to a more nimble Canon AE-1.

The vistas of northeast New Mexico enthralled me. Much of the time, they looked flat and dull, but at certain times of day, under certain light, they exploded with beauty.

I’d reach for my camera, and all would go quiet.

Several years ago, when I started writing my young-adult novel Dirt Bikes, Drones, and Other Ways to Fly, I wanted to re-capture that special landscape—both the look and feel.

I started by creating a fictional town and calling it Clay Allison, after the 19th Century gunfighter who had lived in that area. I jotted these notes:

“Clay Allison is a town in northeast New Mexico located in the high desert snug up against Colorado’s mountainous ass. ‘Clay’ has a rusty, shoddy, past-its-prime look and feel. In reality, it has never experienced a prime.”

The surrounding landscape, I noted, “is a hundred muted shades. Nearby are Eagle Tail and Burro mesas, and to the north, the Sangre de Cristo (Blood of Christ) Mountains. Many small mesas are carved with dirt-bike tracks, an insult to Mother Nature, but a playground for Arlo Santiago and his friends.”

Arlo is the novel’s 17-year-old adrenaline-junkie narrator. He loves to blast across the mesas on his Yamaha 250 dirt bike, hitting the bumps and flying high.

I stretched my vocabulary when I wrote:

“The story unfolds under the cerulean emptiness of New Mexico’s slow-fuse sky.”

My goal was to have Arlo fit organically into this landscape. I wanted him to respond—consciously and otherwise—to the monotonous-one-minute, staggering-the-next horizons, just as I had. If he could do this, then maybe readers could, too. That was my hope anyway.

Whether I pulled it off is not for me to say. What I did learn, however, is how important setting can be to a story—so important, in fact, that it can become a galvanizing character in its own right, one filled with moods and fancies, passions and mysteries.

Writers often overlook setting in favor of more obvious characterization tools— for example, action or dialogue.

The result is that New York City appears no different in the mind’s eye than Portland, Oregon, and the Grand Canyon exudes all the gravitas of a touched-up postcard. Hasty writers like to locate Denver in the Rocky Mountains when, in fact, “the Queen City of the Plains” is located just east of the Rockies.

It’s as if the writer had carelessly stuck a pin on a map and said, “I think I’ll set my story here.”

But when setting works—when a writer taps into emotions associated with a place—it can be glorious, as in Huckleberry Finn (the Mississippi River), The Old Man and the Sea (the Caribbean), or To Kill a Mockingbird (small-town Alabama).

It’s no coincidence that Twain, Hemingway, and Harper Lee lived and worked where they set their stories, or that they acquired far more than an eyeful of land or water. By the time they embarked on writing their novels, they had mingled their souls with those places.

And therein lies the beauty of “place” or “setting” in fiction.

When a writer dips into his or her own life and bares emotions connected with a place the result can exalt a story and illuminate the characters.

Scott O’Dell’s love for California’s coastal islands shimmers on every page of Island of the Blue Dolphins, his 1960 young-adult novel about a girl left on a remote island to fend for herself. You more than hear the gulls cry, waves crash, and wind blow. The island on which Karana lives seems alive. You hear it mourn for all that is missing from her life, just as it rejoices in her victories over storms, hunger, and wild dogs.

Lois Lowry’s ambivalent memories of growing up on military bases darken the stark, regimented world of her 1993 dystopian novel The Giver.

C.S. Lewis based his sweeping Narnia vistas on the Mountains of Mourne in Northern Ireland. About them, he wrote: "I have seen landscapes . . . which, under a particular light, make me feel that at any moment a giant might raise his head over the next ridge.”

In every case the writer traversed a personal geography to inform a fictional one. His or her emotional connection to a real place grounded the reader in an imagined place.

Contemporary young-adult fiction writers traversing this personal geography include Molly Blaisdell, whose Plumb Crazy makes small-town Texas taste like a sweet-potato pie glazed with dust and peppered with grit; Louise Spiegler, whose historical novels capture the damp majesty of Puget Sound country; and Holly Cupala, whose Don’t Breathe a Word gives the midnight alleys of homeless America a heartbeat.

When a writer soaks up the spirit of a place—whether it’s a town, city, mesa, or just about anywhere else—that place can inspire a profound fictional setting.

A great story puts you there, so that you see and feel the landscape around you. Writers get there by digging into their personal geography—and listening for the heartbeat.

Conrad Wesselhoeft worked as a tugboat hand in Singapore and Peace Corps Volunteer in Polynesia before embarking on a career in journalism. He has served on the editorial staffs of five newspapers, including The New York Times. He is the author of the young adult novels ADIOS, NIRVANA (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2010) and DIRT BIKES, DRONES, AND OTHER WAYS TO FLY (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2014). His ancestors were doctors to Emily Dickinson, Louisa May Alcott, and Harriet Beecher Stowe. His three children are in various stages of university study or job searching. He lives in West Seattle with a poodle named Django (the "D" is silent). Druid Circle cookies (from Trader Joe’s) are his weakness.








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5. Query Question: Revising novel when on submission to agents


I received an encouraging revise and resend with some great feedback from one of my top agents. I realized reading it that she was completely bang on in identifying some of the flaws in my novel, and began revising right away.

A little later, I received a full request from agent #2, whom I had queried some time ago. It's been about a week now and I haven't sent said full to agent #2, and I don't really want to until I've finished addressing agent #1's critique. But I'm worried that if too much time passes, agent #2 will wonder what's up. My manuscript was fully edited and ready to go (or so I thought) when I queried her. Should I let her know that I'm revising my manuscript based on feedback from another agent, or just send the full when it's ready (probably in another week or two) without an explanation? Is knowing that another agent has asked for revisions to a manuscript a positive or a negative in most agents' eyes? 


Here's the absolute ironclad rule: always send your best work. If you're doing revisions to fix some flaws in your novel, it's in BOTH our interests to have you send the better version.

Here's how you do this: You email Agent #2  RIGHT NOW and say "yo, snooks, got your request. Little late to the party, but ok for now.  I'm revising right now (I thought the novel was done!) and I plan to have it finished on X date. I will send it then unless you tell me otherwise.  Thanks again for your interest. I look forward to sending you my novel." Of course you put this in your own deathless prose. Remember to keep it SHORT. No more than 30 words total.

The thing to avoid here is a long period of silence. If I request a full, I pretty much expect to hear back promptly. That's because mostly I DO hear back promptly, not because it's critical to the submission process.

If I don't hear back within a week or so, my assumption is  my email went astray, and I email again.  In fact, this past year, I ended up emailing the writer who had REFERRED the querier because I hadn't heard back after several pings.

My colleagues are generally NOT going to do this. They're going to request and if they don't hear from you they're going to move on.  They'll remember you but they generally aren't going to track you down. I wrote a blog post that showed that a while back.


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6. LMNO Peas- book review




Alphabet quotes for you to enjoy:


*  The sentence, "The quick brown fox jumps over a lazy dog," uses every letter in the alphabet."

*  "If plan "A" didn't work, the alphabet has 25 more letters, stay cool."

*  I was good at math before they decided to mix the alphabet in it."

and the perfect seque for todays book.......

*  Educational television should be absolutely forbidden.  It can only lead to unreasonable disappointment when your child discovers that the letters of the alphabet do not leap up out of books and dance around with royal-blue chickens."   - Fran Lebowitz

.....the last quote was true until Keith Baker crafted this book.....



Today's featured book:





Title:  LMNO Peas
Author and Illustrator:  Keith Baker
Ageless but really for ages 2-5



Let's take a peek inside shall we?






My take on the book:

This book is truly a breath of fresh air and is a whole new twist on most of the traditional alphabets books that are out there in the marketplace today.  Keith Baker has taken his alphabet book to a whole new level, sparking kids's imaginations and producing for them, an unforgettable alphabet experience.  Your child will want to go back again and again and get involved with those crazy, busy worker peas that buzz around on every single page.

The book is happy, energetic and the bubbly little cast of pea characters will warm your heart and maybe even get your kids to look at peas in a whole new light at dinnertime.  This classic board book is written in rhyme and is a New York Times Bestseller. 

Every letter is surrounded by a frenzy of occupied working peas that covers everything from "acrobats, artists, astronauts in space, builders, bathers, and bikers in a race."  The vibrant colours throughout, the amazing detail within, and the tall, stand-out letters, will lure your kids into that letter and jubilantly discover what those amazing little peas are happily engaged in.  You cannot help but stop on each page, peer intently, then do a near nose-plant which allows you to ogle each individual pea and see his uniqueness.  How fun is that?  The "P" page is so expressive and sums it up so well, "We're painters, /poets, /and plumbers fixing leaks / We're pilots, / parachutists, / we're peas and .... we're unique."   

This book is so well designed (with very sturdy pages and a jacket flap that matches the actual cover of the book).  It is extremely creative and witty, sure to put a smile on the your child's face.    I especially love the title because as you know kids usually get to the LMNOP part of the alphabet and make all  those letters blend together and not individualize them into their own separate sounds.  The title, in my opinion could not be more perfect.  Everything about the book is top quality and I highly, highly recommend it.  Ingeniousness for your one-of-a-kind little genius.

About the author:



Keith Baker has written and illustrated many acclaimed picture books for young children, including My Octopus Arms; the New York Times bestselling LMNO Peas1-2-3 PeasLittle Green Peas; No Two AlikeBig Fat HenWho Is the Beast?; and Potato Joe. He lives in Seattle, and you can visit him at KeithBakerBooks.com.
- See more at: http://authors.simonandschuster.com/Keith-Baker/63936113#sthash.1W4ier8J.dpuf




Book Review Rating:    9  (close to perfection!)







Mind your Peas & Q's now and read on and read always!  

Have an amazing day everyone!

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7. Five Thousand Four Hundred & Twenty Five? Lots of Swooning Up Here!

We are thrilled to report that the number in this blog's title—5425, but it looks bigger written out, don't you think?—is how many times people have looked at a page on our blog. We don't know who you are, but....


THANK YOU FOR VISITING!!!!

We had no idea how many Izzy Elf Fans were out there until recently, when Deedy (that's Dorothea Jensen to you) figured out how to see the total.  

All we can say is:

WOW!!!

By the way, Deedy has told us we have to cut back on the number of !!!!'s we use.  We're trying to do this, but we keep getting excited every time we start writing a blog.

Anyway, we are all hard at work getting ready for Christmas. Are you??? (Deedy didn't say anything about question marks, but we'll probably be hearing about that, too.)

Thanks again,

♡♡♡♡♡♡♡♡

Bizzy, Blizzy, Dizzy, Fizzy, Frizzy, Quizzy, Tizzy, and Whizzy (and Deedy, who is an honorary Izzy Elf)




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8. Sing Along Construction Song

Sing Along Construction Song - Cover

We really enjoyed this tale about various construction vehicles and the job they do.  Each vehicle describes their function and then happily sings a song set to the tune of “London Bridge” about their work.  At the end they all sing together about how they work as a team to get the job done.  Great message for young children about having a positive attitude and teamwork.  You can purchase this ebook for $2.99 at Amazon or get it for FREE using Kindle Unlimited which is a new subscription service by Amazon to read up to ten books at a time for a monthly fee of $9.99.  They are currently offering free 30-day trials if you want to check it out.  As always all of our children’s books are available in the Kindle Unlimited program as well.

**We received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.**


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9. App of the Week: Matter

Matter LogoName: Matter
Cost: $1.99
Platform: iOS

Matter is the latest photo app from Pixite, a company that has created a number of other photo apps for iOS devices. This fun app lets you add mysterious and otherworldly images to your photos with a few clicks, changing your snapshots from simple records of where you have been to stunning alien landscapes.

The app comes with four different packages of objects that can be added to your photos, for a total of 64 objects, meaning that there is almost certainly the perfect option for all of your images already included in the app. Once you have selected an object, you can drag and drop it into your desired location, change its shape, and rotate it all with the standard touchscreen motions you would use on other images. You can also style the object, changing its opacity, transparency, color, and how reflective it is to suit your needs. Detailed work, such as modifying the shadow cast by the object and masking specific portions of the object allow you to completely integrate it into your existing image so that it looks as if an alien object crashed into the original setting. Once you are happy with the look of the image, you can export a looping video of the object which can show it stationary or rotating. If you opt to have the object rotate, you can specify which axis you want it to rotate along and the speed at which it should move. The final video can be saved to your device, shared via email or text message, or uploaded to Instagram. If you want to see some examples of what users have created with Matter, check out their gallery on Instagram (or from within the app) or watch the trailer for the app.

Have a suggestion for App of the Week? Let us know. And find more great Apps in the YALSA Blog’s App of the Week Archive.

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10. Cover Revealed For New Sara Gruen Novel

At the Water's Edge

Water For Elephants novelist Sara Gruen has penned a new book entitled At the Water’s Edge. The jacket was unveiled today—what do you think?

According to the Water For Elephants movie fan page, the story features “a privileged young woman’s moral and sexual awakening as she experiences the devastations of World War II in a Scottish Highland village.” Spiegel & Grau, an imprint at Penguin Random House, will release the book on June 02, 2015.

New Career Opportunities Daily: The best jobs in media.

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11. The Importance of Keywords in Your Marketing Toolbox


I'm delighted to participate in the Insecure Writer's Support Group blog hop...


The Importance of Keywords in Your Marketing Toolbox

by Donna M. McDine

Keywords… What’s this you may be asking? Keywords are what people type into search engines (i.e., Google, Yahoo, Bing, etc.) when researching a particular topic or product (i.e., Best Jersey Shore vacation spots; cheap airfare; NYC wedding planners, children’s historical fiction books, etc.). The more a keyword is searched the more attraction it has. The list is endless. But, what does this have to do with me as a writer? Absolutely EVERYTHING!

It is imperative your website and blog have strong keywords in titles, text, and in the meta data. Lets break it down a bit further…

Titles - at least one keyword should be included in the title connecting to the content of the article. If your article is about the importance of press releases the title should be something like… “Don’t Give Up On Press Releases.”

Text – whether it’s the description of your website or an article, keywords need to be mentioned throughout. Of course, repetitive keyword mention that does not include true value to the description or article is a waste of time.  

Meta Data – this is html jargon for the backend of your website. Within the html code page description (Independent Book Store Listings) and keywords (i.e., sci-fi author, children’s author, how to write a press release.) of the particular page are listed. The meta data is used by browsers search engines (keywords), or other web services to show results when someone conducts a search.

<!--[if gte mso 9]> Normal 0 false false false EN-US JA X-NONE <![endif]-->
How to Search for Keywords - A search of keywords is important to setting up the right combination for you. My go to keyword search site is www.keywordeye.com(NOTE: I do not guarantee your success by utilizing this service, this is a FREE/PAID service that I use for my personal needs). Once you create an account the steps are self-explanatory and I’ve included a snapshot of a recent search for “children’s books” with the results of the different keyword combinations.


The above goes well beyond your website and blog, when writing articles for magazines or guest blogger posts, keywords should be at the forefront of your writing. Of course, your byline helps in getting your name out there further, which is extremely helpful if someone searches your name. To show how important it is to get your name out there and keywords associated with you, I’ve included snapshots of “Rockland County Children’s Authors” and “Whale Poachers Children’s Book.”

<!--[if gte mso 9]> Normal 0 false false false EN-US JA X-NONE <![endif]-->
Keyword Search: Rockland County Children’s Authors


Search results: I’m listed in 3 of the 5 top searches. Not bad.


<!--[if gte mso 9]> Normal 0 false false false EN-US JA X-NONE <![endif]-->
Keyword Search: whale poachers children’s book


Search results: My latest children’s book, A Sandy Grave is listed in the top 5 searches. How cool is that!

These results have taken me years to establish and I continue to do so on an ongoing basis. For example, when you guest author at a colleague’s blog it market you further. The more material published about you, by you and connected with keywords will help rise you to a top level in the search engines.   

Good luck to you as you write informative content with essential keywords!

Bio: Multi award-winning children's author, Donna McDine, ignites curiosity in children through reading. 
<!--[if gte mso 9]> Normal 0 false false false EN-US JA X-NONE <![endif]-->

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Best wishes,
Donna M. McDine
Multi Award-winning Children's Author

Ignite curiosity in your child through reading!

Connect with

A Sandy Grave ~ January 2014 ~ Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc. ~ 2014 Purple Dragonfly 1st Place Picture Books 6+, Story Monster Approved, Beach Book Festival Honorable Mention 2014, Reader's Favorite Five Star Review

Powder Monkey ~ May 2013 ~ Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc. ~ Story Monster Approved and Reader's Favorite Five Star Review

Hockey Agony ~ January 2013 ~ Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc. ~ Story Monster Approved and Reader's Farvorite Five Star Review

The Golden Pathway ~ August 2010 ~ Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc.
~ Literary Classics Silver Award and Seal of Approval, Readers Favorite 2012 International Book Awards Honorable Mention and Dan Poynter's Global e-Book Awards Finalist

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12. Piper at the Gates of Dawn Considered

Back when Syd Barrett led Pink Floyd , the band recorded its first album at Abbey Road Studio at the same time as The Beatles recorded Sergeant Pepper’s there and The Pretty Things were recording S F Sorrow. They called it, The Piper at the Gates of Dawn. Flash forward to this century and a habit I picked up in Amsterdam and can’t seem to shake. The habit is listening to the World Service on the radio all night. It’s the CBC All Night Radio here, the BBC World Service there (I think). A lot of countries contribute reports to the World Service. I don’t really understand how it works but there’s nothing quite like laying snug in your bed, free to fall asleep or listen to Holland, Sweden, Korea or Poland talk about their news. For instance, the other night there was a report from somewhere near Alice Springs, Australia about a race they held between honey bees and homing pigeons. The bees won. Of course, it you’re tired and working and need to get up early in the morning, it’s unwise to indulge this habit. You lose too much sleep. At the moment, though, I am indulging this habit and the other night I must have dozed off and awoke to a female voice with an English accent declaring that the seventh chapter of Kenneth Grahame’s Wind in the Willows proved his hidden but genuine pantheism. Kenneth Grahame was born in Scotland and spent all of his working life in a bank in London. According to Wikipedia he died in 1932 and The Wind in the Willows was published in 1908. As I rolled around in the dark, it occurred to me that Van Morrison had included a song on The Healing Game cd called The Piper at the Gates of Dawn. The chorus is “The wind in the willows and the piper at the gates of dawn”. And Fred Armstrong out in Newfoundland actually talked on CBC radio about The Wind in the Willows. It was his opinion that the book was not a children’s book at all, that it was really written for adults. There was no script for the show but he said he went over the top a little when he called it, “Shakespeare with fur”. It’s probably the combination of poetry and music in Van Morrison’s song that appeals to me so much. When I actually read chapter seven which is called The Piper at the Gates of Dawn in Grahame’s book, I discovered poetic language there too. In fact, Van used several phrases verbatim from the book or almost verbatim. When Grahame uses “the daybreak not so very far off”, Morrison uses “the daybreak not so very far away” and when Grahame writes “the light grew steadily stronger”, Morrison sings “grew steadily strong”. And Fred, an old friend and veteran reporter (30 years) just published his first fictional novel, Happiness of Fish (Jesperson Publishing., 2007) in St John’s. He’s a creative soul, one who never gives up on his dreams. If he was interested in the book, there must be something to it. So I asked him and here’s what he said, “Wind in the Willows is a deep little book about a rather Taoist bunch of beasties sitting around writing poems and banqueting between adventures....” “Opinion seems to be split on the Pan chapter of WIW. People love it or hate it.... I think WIW is a comfortably sentimental look at nature as deity. I think anyone who has been scared at sea or lost in the woods and come home can handle the balance between a nature that creates us and takes us away or maybe doesn’t. There’s also something appealing about a deity that performs a Men in Black mind wipe after you trip over him. Ratty and Mole don’t remember him when it’s all over. They take the little otter off to breakfast rather than sitting down and writing the Book of Revelation.” The words in Van’s writing which are taken straight out of chapter seven are:” heavenly music” and “song-dream” though one doesn’t have a dash connecting them and the other does. Graham writes “when the vision had vanished” and Morrison writes “vision vanished” a difference in tense only. Here is the description of Pan in Wikipedia: ‘Pan: in Greek religion and mythology, is the god of shepherds and flocks, of mountain wilds, hunting and rustic music. His name originates from the word paein, meaning to pasture. He has the hindquarters, legs, and horns of a goat, in the same manner as a faun or satyr. He is recognized as the god of fields, groves, and wooded glens; because of this, Pan is connected to fertility and the season of Spring. The wikipedia article goes on to say that “accounts of Pan’s geneology are so varied that it must lie buried deep in mythic time.” and that “panic” is derived from his name. The story recounted in Chapter seven of Wind in the Willows is a simple one: Mole and Ratty search for the lost Portly, son of Otter, and find him safe and saved by Pan after they are led there in their rowboat by his magical piping. Van Morrison uses words like “awe”, “wonder”, enchanted” and “spellbound” to describe the characters’ state as they follow Pan’s music to find little Portly. Grahame emphasizes Pan’s insistence that the wild creatures’ experience with him will be forgotten when it’s over. Like hypnotism, “You will awake and remember nothing” Wikipedia includes all kinds of interesting facts like, “Pan is famous for his sexual powers and is often depicted with an erect phallus.” and “Pan’s greatest conquest was that of the moon goddess, Selene.” along with references to the symbolism of Satan, Romanticism and Neopaganism and “A modern account of several purported meetings with Pan is given by R. Ogilvie Crombie in the books, The Findhorn Garden (Harper and Rowe, 1975) and The Magic of Findhorn (Harper and Rowe, 1975).” Pan is not named in the book, just described, but in the song Morrison calls him “the great god, Pan” when he echoes Grahame’s insistence that the animals were not afraid of him despite his reputation. It is the only song on The Healing Game (1997) which has no percussion in it. Just Van’s vocals as he plays acoustic guitar with a dobro (which I can’t hear probably because of the quality of my sound system), and a piano with Brian Kennedy’s vocal backings and Paddy Maloney on Uilleann pipes and whistle. The Uilleann Pipes, a type of Irish bagpipe, aren’t apparently related to the Pan Pipes but their effect in the song is an ethereal, delicate one. When you see the innocent willow leaves on the cover and the cartoon characters with which it’s illustrated, the same impression is left by the book as when you see Van Morrison’s black and white picture on the cover of the cd with a black fedora and shades, a black over coat and white shirt buttoned up to the neck. Neither give any hint of Pan’s magic. They bring to mind an old Willie Dixon song, You Can’t Judge a Book by Its Cover.

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13. Debut Novelist John Kenney Wins Thurber Prize for American Humor

johnkenneyGuest post written by Kelsey Manning (@kelseyMmanning)

Before Thurber Prize winner John Kenney settled in to read a selection from his novel Truth in Advertising, he had a few words for his fellow finalist:

“Dear David Letterman, Please let me win this award. Just this one. We need the money.”

It was one of many hilarious moments during last night’s presentation of the 2013 Thurber Prize for American Humor. David Letterman attended alongside co-writer Bruce McCall on behalf of their book This Land Was Made for You and Me (But Mostly Me). In the absence of third finalist Liza Donnelly (Women on Men), her husband Michael Maslin spoke about how much James Thurber means to them, especially as New Yorker cartoonists themselves. The pair’s first date was to see a James Thurber drawing at the Armory on the East Side.

In the true spirit of the night, Truth in Advertising author John Kenney joked, “My first flight wasn’t to the Thurber House or my first date, but I was conceived there.” It was easy to see why the Thurber Prize judges—Meg Wolitzer, John Searles, and Henry Alford—were so taken by the wit in Kenney’s debut. (more…)

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14. PREVENTION AND PRE-SCHOOL

Today marks the 1st day of National bullying prevention month. I am often asked at what age should we talk to our kids about bullying and related behaviors. I am pleased to share that many pre-schools and early learning centers have asked me to read my books to their students and talk to parents about pro-social education. It is never too early to teach our kids to be kind. To share with them the importance of caring about others and to try to use practical examples to allow them to work on compassion development. As many of you know I have my own little tot and we are already working on feelings identification exercises. Bookstores and resource stores like Self-esteem shop carry many tools to begin this process. If we can teach young people early how to recognize emotions it is a great step in the process of pro-social learning. Does your center need assistance? Can your family benefit from a personal consultation on emotional understanding and prevention? Please let me know. This Friday I will be at Kindercare centers reading my picture book series to students and beginning the process of pro-social education. If you need an Unbully kit we send great resources through the mail that includes information, tools and resources that aid in prevention. -Read something great

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15. Join me in Zambia – Safari Giveaway!

In October 2015 I will be leading an exclusive 7-day photographic safari in Zambia’s iconic South Luangwa National Park. There are just eight spaces on this trip and two of them are up for grabs in my new giveaway!

Enter the the giveaway here.

Find out more about this safari here or click here to download the brochure. Note, if you book on to this safari and then win the giveaway, your deposit will be refunded.

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16. The Cutest Animal: Writing Wednesday

Seymour heard from many of you on Twitter (@SeymourSimon) yesterday about the adorablephotograph of the Western Pygmy Possumthat he posted on his blog.So today, for Writing Wednesday, let’s do some descriptive writing. Look at this photograph and think about everything that you see. Use all your senses. What does this little critter’s fur feel like? Can you feel its little heart beating when you hold it? How does it move? How does it look at you?Of course, since you can’t actually see or touch a real Western Pygmy Possum, you will have to imagine all these things, and that’s ok! You also might want to do some additional research on your own, either in your library or on the Internet, and learn more about this animal. Or you could readyesterday’s blog postto learn more.When you’ve studied the photograph thoroughly, and done whatever reseach you want to do, write a paragraph or two describing this animal with as much detail as you can. Help your reader imagine what it would be like to encounter a pigmy possum in a field.If you would like to post your writing for other students to read, click on the yellow "Comments" link at the bottom of this blog post, copy and paste in your work.Happy writing!

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17. New Holiday Book

I have a new book out for the holidays. Here are some samples of the art inside.



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18. on the road with Stephen Fried

At the Pennsylvania Library Association Convention on Monday, Stephen Fried and I talked, with considerable conviction and some debate, about nonfiction and its various permutations. We talked about research—why and how we do it, why we love it, how we wouldn't exist without our libraries and primary sources. As always, Stephen was impressive—his deep need to know, his great defense of nonfiction, his glorious insistence on getting to the root of the matter. To read the document through. To hold the thing in one's hand. To locate, for each fact, a context.

But perhaps it was the drive to and from Lancaster that I treasured most—the winding way through farm country, the roadside attractions of Bird-in-Hand, the horses on the roads before us, and the talk, the always talk, about what we do and what we yearn to do, the students we've taught, the questions about what yet lies ahead.

A long-time friend. Treasured.

Thank you, Karl and PaLA, for inviting us.

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19. Bimonthly etymology gleanings for August and September 2014. Part 1

I was out of town at the end of this past August and have a sizable backlog of unanswered questions and comments. It may take me two or even three weeks to catch up with them. I am not complaining: on the contrary, I am delighted to have correspondents from Sweden to Taiwan. Today I will deal with the questions only about the two most recent posts.

Kiss

Our regular correspondent Mr. John Larsson took issue with my remark that kiss has nothing to do with chew and cited some arguments in favor of the chew connection. We should distinguish between the “institute of kissing” and the word for the action. As could be expected, no one knows when people invented kissing, but, according to one theory, everything began with mothers chewing their food and passing it on to their babies from mouth to mouth. I am not an anthropologist and can have no opinion about such matters. But the oldest form of the Germanic verb for “chew” must have sounded approximately like German kauen (initial t in Old Norse tyggja is hardly original). The distance between kauen and kussjan cannot be bridged.

Also from Scandinavia, Mr. Christer Wallenborg informs me that in Sweden two words compete: kyssa is a general term for kissing, while for informal purposes pussa is used. I know this and will now say more about the verbs used for kissing in the Germanic-speaking world. Last time I did not travel farther than the Netherlands (except for mentioning the extinct Goths). My survey comes from an article by the distinguished philologist Theodor Siebs (1862-1941). It was published in the journal of the society for the promotion of Silesian popular lore (Mitteilungen der Schlesischen Gesellschaft für Volkskunde) for 1903. Modern dialect atlases may contain more synonyms.

Below I will list only some of the words and phrases, without specifying the regions. Germany: küssen, piepen, snüttern (long ü), -snudeln (long u), slabben, flabben, smacken, smukken, smatschen, muschen, bussen, bütsen, pützschen, pupen (some of these words are colloquial, some verge on the vulgar). Many verbs for “kiss” (the verb and the noun) go back to Mund and Maul “mouth,” for example, mundsen, mul ~ mull, müll, mill, and the like. Mäulchen “little mouth” is not uncommon for “a kiss,” and Goethe, who was born in Frankfurt, used it. With regard to their sound shape, most verbs resemble Engl. puss, pipe, smack, flap, and slap.

Friesland (Siebs was an outstanding specialist in the modern dialects and history of Frisian): æpke (æ has the value of German ä) ~ apki, make ~ mæke, klebi, totje, kükken, and a few others, borrowed from German and Dutch. Dutch: zoenen, poenen (both mentioned in my previous blog on kiss), kussen, kissen, smokken, smakken, piper geven, and tysje.

Siebs became aware of Nyrop’s book (see again my previous blog on kiss about it) after his own work had been almost completed and succeeded in obtaining a copy of it only because Nyrop sent him one. He soon realized that his predecessor had covered a good deal of the material he had been collecting, but Nyrop’s book did not make Siebs’s 19-page article redundant, because Nyrop’s focus was on the situations in which people kiss (a friendly kiss, a kiss of peace, an erotic kiss, etc.), while Siebs dealt with the linguistic aspect of his data. It appeared that kiss usually goes back to the words for the mouth and lips; for something sweet (German gib mir ’nen Süssen “give me a sweet [thing]”); for love (so in Greek, in Slavic, and in Old Icelandic minnask, literally “to love one another”), and for embracing (as in French embrasser). Some words for kissing are onomatopoeic, and some developed from various metaphors or expanded their original sense (I mentioned the case of Russian: from “be whole” to “kiss”; Nyrop cited several similar examples). We can see that chewing has not turned up in this small catalog.

Tristram and Isolde by John William Waterhouse, 1916. Public domain via WikiArt
Tristram and Isolde by John William Waterhouse, 1916. Public domain via WikiArt

Siebs also ventured an etymology of kiss and included this word in his first group. In his opinion, Gothic kukjan “to kiss” retained the original form of Old Engl. kyssan, Old Norse kyssa, and their cognates. In Old Frisian, kokk seems to have meant “speaker” and “mouth” and may thus be related to Old Icelandic kok “throat.” Siebs went on to explain how the protoform guttús yielded kyssan. Specialists know this reconstruction, but everything in it is so uncertain that the origin of kiss cannot be considered solved.

In the picture, chosen to illustrate this post, you will see the moment when Tristan and Isolde drink the fateful love potion. Two quotations from Gottfried’s poem in A. T. Hatto’s translation will serve us well: “He kissed her and she kissed him, lovingly and tenderly. Here was a blissful beginning for Love’s remedy: each poured and quaffed the sweetness that welled up from their hearts” (p. 200), and “One kiss from one’s darling’s lips that comes stealing from the depths of her heart—how it banished love’s cares!” (p. 204).

The color brown and brown animals

The protoform of beaver must have been bhebrús or bhibhrús. This looks like an old formation because it has reduplication (bh-bh) and is a -u stem. The form does not contain the combination bher-bher “carry-carry.” Beavers are famous for building dams rather than for carrying logs from place to place. Francis A. Wood, apparently, the only scholar who offered an etymology of beaver different from the current one, connected the word with the Indo-European root bheruo- ~ bhreu- “press, gnaw, cut,” as in Sanskrit bhárvati “to gnaw; chew” (note our fixation on chewing in this post!). His idea has been ignored, rather than refuted (a usual case in etymological studies). Be that as it may, “brown” underlies many names of animals (earlier I mentioned the bear and the toad; I still think that the brown etymology of the bear is the best there is) and plants. Among the plants are, most probably, the Slavic name of the mountain ash (rowan tree) and the Scandinavian name of the partridge.

American Beaver by John James Audubon, 1844. Public domain via WikiArt.
American Beaver by John James Audubon, 1844. Public domain via WikiArt.

And of course I am fully aware of the trouble with the Greek word for “toad.” I have read multiple works by Dutch scholars that purport to show how many Dutch and English words go back to the substrate (the enigmatic initial a, nontraditional ablaut, and so forth). It is hard for me to imagine that in prehistoric times the bird ouzel (German Amsel), the lark, the toad, and many other extremely common creatures retained their indigenous names. According to this interpretation, the invading Indo-Europeans seem to have arrived from places almost devoid of animal life and vegetation. It is easier to imagine all kinds of “derailments” (Entgleisungen) in the spirit of Noreen and Levitsky than this scenario. Words for “toad” and “frog” are subject to taboo all over the world (some references can be found in the entry toad in my dictionary), which further complicates a search for their etymology. But this is no place to engage in a serious discussion on the pre-Indo-European substrate. I said what I could on the subject in my review of Dirk Boutkan’s etymological dictionary of Frisian. Professor Beekes wrote a brief comment on my review.

Anticlimax: English grammar (Mr. Twitter, a comedian)

I have once commented on the abuse of as clauses unconnected with the rest of the sentence. These quasi-absolute constructions often sound silly. In a letter to a newspaper, a woman defends the use of Twitter: “As someone who aspires to go into comedy, Twitter is an incredible creative outlet.” Beware of unconscious humor: the conjunction as is not a synonym of the preposition for.

The post Bimonthly etymology gleanings for August and September 2014. Part 1 appeared first on OUPblog.

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20. Robin Hood W.I.P.s

Screen shots while working:      I started in grey scale.

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21. This Creative Life

DSC_0659

The discipline of creation, be it to paint, composite, write, is an effort toward wholeness.
—Madeleine L’Engle

The post This Creative Life appeared first on Caroline Starr Rose.

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22. Review of Ivan

applegate ivan Review of IvanIvan:
The Remarkable True Story
of the Shopping Mall Gorilla

by Katherine Applegate; 
illus. by G. Brian Karas
Primary, Intermediate    Clarion    40 pp.
10/14    978-0-544-25230-1    $17.99    g

Applegate introduces young readers to the true story that inspired her Newbery Medal–winning novel The One and Only Ivan (rev. 1/12). “In leafy calm, / in gentle arms, / a gorilla’s life began.” In poetic prose she describes Ivan’s early life in Africa, his dramatic capture by poachers, his confusing time on display as a domesticated shopping-mall gorilla in Tacoma, Washington, and his transition to the Atlanta Zoo, where his life “began / again.” Aptly, the insightful and precise text never anthropomorphizes Ivan, nor do Karas’s mixed-media images — at once straightforward and provocative — done in his warm and unaffected style. The spareness of both text and pictures invites readers to find their own meaning in the moving story. An appended spread of additional information “About Ivan” adds useful context, though it never mentions Applegate’s other Ivan book. That’s fine, as younger readers will likely come to this one first, and it gives them plenty to grow on, both as a read-aloud and as a compelling true story.

From the September/October 2014 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

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23. How To Turn Your Book into a Pumpkin

Fall is here! Don’t feel like carving up a traditional jack-o’-lantern from a pumpkin? YouTuber Lacey Keith shares an alternative idea with DIY book-themed pumpkins.

If you want to make a pumpkin statue out of your own, watch the video tutorial embedded above. For those who wish to play with a gourd, follow this link to view Nan Nethery’s “Pumpkin Book Characters” pinterest board. What book-themed Autumn decorations do you enjoy making?

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24. OCTOBER!


It's October! The time of year for doodling monsters, pumpkins, spiders, and spooktacular creatures of all sorts. This has got to be one of my favorite months of the year. 

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25. Feral Nights by Cynthia Leitich Smith Wins Writers' League of Texas (MG/YA) Book Award

By Cynthia Leitich Smith
for Cynsations

From the Writers' League of Texas: "The 2013/2014 Writers' League of Texas Book Awards, awarded in 2014 and recognizing outstanding books published in 2013, honor Texas authors across five categories with three distinctions: Winner, Finalist, and Discovery Prize Winner, all of whom will be celebrated at the WLT booth at the Texas Book Festival in October."

Middle Grade/YA Winner

(Candlewick, 2013)

Finalists

Discovery Prize Winner

Picture Book Winner

(Pelican, 2013)

Finalists

Discovery Prize Winner

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