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1. Happy Thanksgiving!


BookEnds is closed for Thanksgiving. We will be taking this time to enjoy ourselves with family and friends and celebrating all we have to be thankful for in our personal as well as our business lives (which are often intertwined).


We hope only the best for all of you and thank you for continuing to come back to the blog and participate.

--jhf

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2. Chang3lings & MyExcess Feature at 2014s Edinburgh Toy & Comic Mart!




Photo: Our poster campaign will start 'VERY' soon, but in the meantime can you please share this digital version as much as possible, and indeed tag anyone who you believe may be interested...










Once more, Hero Conventions are bringing their own brand of FREE COMIC & TOY MART to Edinburgh...

VENDORS INCLUDE: 


Chang3lings http://www.chang31ings.co.uk/

My Excess Comics/Books  http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/myexcess
Hero Comic Shop
Comic Convict
Cosmic Art
Rough Cut Comics
Planet Jimbot
City of Lost Souls
Changelings
Forbidden Planet
Adamsons Attic
Keith Crawley Art
Gnometastic
Chris Teasdale Comics
Rubber Pineapple
Lefay Engraving
Phat Cat
Da Judge
Nathan A Lyon Art
Kukuruzovic Comics
Turn Book Time
Skulls & Cross Stitches
Sands Art Glass

During the mart, there will be a performance of the Ghostbusters tribute 'STILL Ready to Believe You' by Des O'Gorman at 1pm. This will be 100% FREE*, but you can feel free to provide a donation at the end of the show as the poor blighter hasn't eaten in weeks. :p

Also, after the show the legendary Marc Farrimond will be hosting 'The Challenge of the Kingpin' geeky pub-quiz. Entry to this will be FREE, and there will be some rather lovely prizes...


YES!! David "The British Manara" Gordon WILL be at the event with his Chang3lings dolls and MyExcess books including Cosmic Oddity which was reviewed here: http://hoopercomicart.blogspot.co.uk/2014/10/my-excess-dave-cosmic-oddity.html 

Plus.......

Dave Gordon´s Pin Up Girls Summary

Dave Gordon returns with an epic volume of new pin up material.  100 pages of beautifully detailed linework is behind an exceptionally conceived cover.
One for the collectors for sure as there will be just 100 copies of this book printed and signed by the artist.
Order yours today.

Suggested for Mature readers....and ONLY £10.00?????
 
Of course the Chang3ling dolls are a sight to behold but there are plenty of other figures to buy such as this one

Cyborg from Takara 1998

Cyborg from Takara 1998

If you have to visit and buy from one table this weekend then it HAS to be Chang3lings and MyExcess....otherwise you may need psychological treatment!

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3. The Magic City (1910)

The Magic City. E. Nesbit. 1910. 212 pages. [Source: Bought]

Dare I say I have a new favorite-favorite Nesbit?! I loved, loved, LOVED The Magic City. I enjoyed The Enchanted Castle. I enjoyed it very much. But it doesn't come close to describing how I feel about The Magic City. I LOVE it so much! 

Philip, the hero, has been raised by his much older sister, Helen. When she marries a widower with a daughter, Lucy, around his own age, he is upset. He just knows that he will HATE Lucy. (It almost seems like he'd feel too guilty to hate his uncle--Helen's husband. But hating Lucy, well, it almost feels necessary.) Philip goes to his new home, and, his attitude could use some improvement. But if there is one thing that he doesn't hate about his new home is the nursery full of toys. At first, he's not allowed to touch anything--not even one toy! The nurse doesn't have permission from Lucy to allow Philip to play with her things. But the nurse in a brief moment of kindness changes her mind. Philip is allowed to play, to imagine. And he does. He builds, I believe, two wonderful cities. He builds them from toys--not just blocks, but all sorts of toys. He builds them from books. He builds with things he finds around the house. These cities are a work of an artist--a creator. But days later--I believe it is days--the nurse returns in a very bad mood. (She'd been called away for personal family business.) She is very angry. She yells. She threatens. She assures him that the cities will be torn down the very next day. By this point, his attitude has calmed down quite a bit. Most of the staff--the servants--like him if not love him now. In the middle of the night, he goes to see what his cities look like in the moonlight...and that decision changes everything. It is the beginning of the proper adventures!

I loved this one. I loved spending time with Philip and Lucy. I love how their relationship changes throughout the book. I loved meeting all the characters, or almost all the characters! I loved seeing the residents of the city. Particularly Mr. Noah and his son. The book is super-fun and just a joy to read. I loved the premise of this one too.
Philip drew a deep breath of satisfaction, went straight up to the nursery, took out all the toys, and examined every single one of them. It took him all the afternoon. The next day he looked at all the things again and longed to make something with them. He was accustomed to the joy that comes of making things. He and Helen had built many a city for the dream island out of his own two boxes of bricks and certain other things in the house — her Japanese cabinet, the dominoes and chessmen, cardboard boxes, books, the lids of kettles and teapots. But they had never had enough bricks. Lucy had enough bricks for anything. He began to build a city on the nursery table. But to build with bricks alone is poor work when you have been used to building with all sorts of other things. ‘It looks like a factory,’ said Philip discontentedly. He swept the building down and replaced the bricks in their different boxes. ‘There must be something downstairs that would come in useful,’ he told himself, ‘and she did say, “Take what you like.”’ By armfuls, two and three at a time, he carried down the boxes of bricks and the boxes of blocks, the draughts, the chessmen, and the box of dominoes. He took them into the long drawing-room where the crystal chandeliers were, and the chairs covered in brown holland — and the many long, light windows, and the cabinets and tables covered with the most interesting things. He cleared a big writing-table of such useless and unimportant objects as blotting-pad, silver inkstand, and red-backed books, and there was a clear space for his city.
And the city grew, till it covered the table. Philip, unwearied, set about to make another city on another table. This had for chief feature a great water-tower, with a fountain round its base; and now he stopped at nothing. He unhooked the crystal drops from the great chandeliers to make his fountains. This city was grander than the first. It had a grand tower made of a waste-paper basket and an astrologer’s tower that was a photograph-enlarging machine. The cities were really very beautiful. I wish I could describe them thoroughly to you. But it would take pages and pages. Besides all the things I have told of alone there were towers and turrets and grand staircases, pagodas and pavilions, canals made bright and water-like by strips of silver paper, and a lake with a boat on it. Philip put into his buildings all the things out of the doll’s house that seemed suitable. The wooden things-to-eat and dishes. The leaden tea-cups and goblets. He peopled the place with dominoes and pawns. The handsome chessmen were used for minarets. He made forts and garrisoned them with lead soldiers. He worked hard and he worked cleverly, and as the cities grew in beauty and interestingness he loved them more and more. He was happy now. There was no time to be unhappy in.

© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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4. Happy Birthday to Let’s Get Busy!

This morning at 7-Imp, I’m doing something a little bit different. Matthew Winner, who founded and runs the Let’s Get Busy podcast, is celebrating his 100th episode. He’s been visiting a few blogs to talk about his work, and today he has a cup of cyber-coffee with me to answer some questions about the wonderful resource that his podcast has become.

Matthew is an elementary school librarian and also runs a blog called The Busy Librarian. Today we’re going to focus, though, on his informative podcast. (Lucky me, I even got to visit in August.) Those of you who read my May interview this year with author-illustrator Dan Santat may remember this moment:

I’ve recently become addicted to Matthew Winner’s Let’s Get Busy podcast, where he interviews authors and illustrators in children’s publishing. Everyone should check that podcast out. … I think in about a year, when everyone catches on, it will be one of the most important media sites in the children’s publishing field.

So, here’s Matthew. I thank him for visiting today and congratulate him on 100 episodes!

Jules: What have been some of your LGB highlights and greatest joys this year?

Matthew (pictured right): Seymour Simon told me he feels like a father figure to me and that he’s proud of me. Brian Won called me “The Ira Glass of Kidlit, only cooler.” A bunch of #KidLitArt pals invited me into their weekly Mario Kart 8 online tournaments. I’d say it’s been a pretty spectacular year for me.

I feel like I could tell you something special about every single interview I’ve shared on the podcast thus far, but maybe the best way I can sum it up is to say that each interview brings with it something new. And there’s always at least one special moment in each of the conversations that makes a memory with me and that I end up sharing with others. I’ll give you an example: I recently interviewed Scott Campell (Episode 98) on his new picture book, Hug Machine. After a moment of gushing over his heartwarming story about a kid who is a champion for (and of) hugging, I told Scott that there was such a powerful sense of truth in his book’s text, and I asked if he himself was a hug machine. Shortly after I received my first and only virtual hug. It’s a moment that makes me smile so much and still it brings me back to his book. Near the end of the story there’s this great spread where the boy, in essence, gives the reader a hug. And on that page, in no uncertain way, Scott is hugging every single one of his readers. It’s awesome. And it’s a moment of the podcast that I know I’ll remember for a very long time.

Jules: Did talking to any of the many illustrators and author-illustrators you interviewed this year change your view of picture books in any remarkable ways?

Matthew: The work of authors and illustrators varies so much from person to person. We all know that. And yet I do find myself intrigued in hearing artists describe their process and how it’s changed over time. Lauren Castillo (Episode 100) published two books this year as an author-illustrator and both show such master of craft in the way she balances well-tempered words with these beautiful watercolors. I’m talking, of course, about The Troublemaker and Nana in the City. Her process includes writing a much more text-heavy manuscript, then editing it down as she creates dummies and considers her illustrations. It’s as if she’s split herself in two to work out the perfect balance of text and art. That just kind of blows my mind.

I had a similar experience when I spoke with Nathan Hale (Episode 61), known most notably for his Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales graphic novel series. Nathan writes a full manuscript for every graphic novel before ever drawing a single sketch for the work. I mean, that’s amazing! He’s creating hundreds of drawings for his story with limited text, being that he tells much of his story through the art. And yet all of that is playing around up in his head and is captured, to oversimply his process, in what comes down to stage directions and art notes. Had you asked me prior to starting Let’s Get Busy about the way in which graphic novelists work, I never in a million years would have guessed that so many begin with a manuscript.

Then there’s the way that Dan Santat (Episode 41) envisioned our imaginary friends as extensions of ourselves, taking various forms that mirror our own interests. I mean, REALLY! Would you have guessed that Beekle resembles a blank sheet of paper onto which brilliant ideas can be captured?

Or that Bob Shea (Episode 23) designs each of his characters from a basic jellybean shape so that his readers can recreate his characters more easily?! My students and I spent an entire week drawing characters out of jellybean shapes when I learned that. First we started with Bob’s characters, and then we created ones of our own!

Or that Raina Telgemeier (Episode 39) tries to build a hook into the last panel of each of her pages in order to get the reader to turn the page and stay engaged in the story? No wonder none of us can put her books down!

Or that Chris Haughton has actually moved from creating his illustrations using a digital collage technique to working with cut and torn paper to create actual collage art for his newest picture book, Shh! We Have a Plan!

If anything, I would say that hosting Let’s Get Busy has made me an even bigger fan of picture books. I marvel at the process and the technique that goes into creating these works of art, and I think about how very lucky I am to get to peek into these artists studios and learn more about the inspiration and journey that brought them to the finished product.

Wait … did I answer your question? I hope I did.

It’s all remarkable to me.

Jules: If the sky were the limit, what’s one thing you wish you could do at your podcast, if anything?

Matthew: I would love for a whole bunch of us kidlit fans and advocates and creators to build a network together of podcasts and YouTube channels and blogs and news outlets. I know that would be a huge undertaking, but I think having one large collective with a single entry site to access all of this truly awesome content would be incredible. I listen to this great podcast called The Nerdist (see my response to the next question for more back story). But The Nerdist has grown over the past several years into a network of podcasts, YouTube shows, articles and more really cool stuff, and the idea grew from connecting fans of the podcast with other content they might enjoy. That’s where I’d love to see Let’s Get Busy connect and grow. I’d love to find a more efficient way of connecting my listening audience with other podcasts and resources they might love and also to get Let’s Get Busy to the ears of people who might not know about it yet.

I love being a part of Nerdy Book Club and all of the amazing connections I’ve made through that awesome collective, but it just wants me to help connect others in this kidlit community even more.

Jules: Can you talk a bit about why you started the podcast?

Matthew: I blame Travis Jonker, author of the 100 Scope Notes blog, for actually getting Let’s Get Busy started.

One of my favorite things about attending library and reading conferences is getting to meet authors and illustrators and cartoonists. But something special happens when you get to hang out with those same people beyond the exhibition halls or artists alleys. Chances are that, if you sit down with anyone you find remotely interesting and have an earnest conversation with them for ten or more minutes, you’ve found yourself. And when you speak with authors and illustrators and cartoonists, the stories you start to hear often inform the stories these creative types create. It’s not always so direct, but it’s always something I find really fascinating.

So when I was telling Travis Jonker this, as we were hanging out with other kidlit pals at a hotel bar in Chicago at a recent ALA conference, I related these conversations to one of my favorite podcasts, The Nerdist, in which the conversations with guests from all over the comedy, music, and movie scenes are informal and are given the time to breathe and get really interesting. Why not create something similar for the kidlit world where we’d get to hear these sincere interviews with authors and illustrators and then get to know and love their work even more so in the process?

Travis said in so many words, “Sounds great! I would listen to that! When are you going to start?”

Those words were the permission I needed to start Let’s Get Busy, a friend’s encouragement and validation of an idea. The rest is sort of history. I started interviewing my friends in the library and publishing worlds. After each interview I would ask my guest to make a recommendation of whom I should talk to next. From there, the connections have grown far and wide but have always maintained a sense of family and closeness. That’s a quality I hope the podcast never loses.

Jules: What’s your favorite thing about podcasting? What drives you to keep doing it?

Matthew: I learn something new with each person that I talk to. And I get to talk to people I never expected this small town school librarian to brush elbows with. And I get to be a fan of my guests’ works without having to filter or hide it. And it’s maybe the most fun thing I’ve ever been involved with. Okay… that’s an awful lot of sentences ending with articles, but it’s all to say that the thing that drives me to keep podcasting is that every conversation is like a gift that I’ve been given that I get to love and cherish and then share with someone new. Each guest, whether it’s someone whose work I know well or if it’s a person who just happens to be best mates with a recent guest, every single guest has been a pure joy to chat with. I’m glad I get to be the guy behind the mic on this one. And I’m grateful for the couple of people who are listening.

Jules: What’s one thing most people don’t know about you?

Matthew: I’m a super slow reader. That’s probably why I don’t have more middle grade or YA authors on the podcast. It’s so hard for me to read through their books in time for the interview and it makes me feel really, really bad. I’ll talk to anyone and I’m really, really good at starting books. Ha!

Oh! And for a non-booky thing, I’m teaching myself to play banjo. I inherited a banjo from my wife’s grandfather, and I try to play a little bit every day. It’s been almost a year now, and I’m still struggling with my finger-picking, but I figure by the time I have a picture book contract of my own, I maybe—just maybe—will be able to write some sort of awesome song for the book trailer.

* * * * * * *

Photo of Matthew and images from the podcast are used by permission of Matthew Winner.

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5. Happy Thanksgiving! I'll be Thankfully Reading...

Happy Turkey Day, all! I'm spending my Thanksgiving with the family and cats, at home, my favorite place to be.

And I won't be shopping this weekend; I just loathe the whole Black Friday thing. I might order some books off the internetz, or shop at Etsy for Small Business Saturday. But otherwise, I'm curling up with a book.

Look at this stack I brought home from Bouchercon! I will admit, some of these are not books I would be reading if they weren't in my book bag. But I wanted to read out of my comfort zone for a change, so I'm even going for a cozy mystery with cupcakes on the front. I'll let you know how it all works out...

Happy reading, guys!



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6. Happy Thanksgiving!

I hope you have a lovely day full of gratitude and good food. But if the kiddies get antsy - remember I have Thanksgiving-themed coloring pages. CLICK HERE or the image to download them for free!

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7. Star Stuff with Stephanie Roth Sisson

Carl Sagan was prolific. He used to walk around with one of those tape recorders that had a strap and a microphone on a cord and record ideas when they came to him. Ideas just poured out of the guy. I love that image of him wandering around with this, recording his thoughts about this and that. I had many of [his] books to draw on, as well as television, radio, and print interviews. Mostly, I was looking for material that would capture the feeling that he left his audience with — that feeling of wonder and wanting to explore and find out more. ”

* * *

Today over at Kirkus, I chat with author-illustrator Stephanie Roth Sisson, pictured above, about Star Stuff, her new picture book biography of Carl Sagan.

That link will be here soon, and next week I’ll have some art from the book here at 7-Imp.

* * * * * * *

Photo of Stephanie Roth Sisson used by her permission.

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8. Yeah, We HAVE Been Here Before: ‘Ultron Forever’ assembles time-traveling Avengers team


This posting by Noelene Clark at LATimes caught my eye.http://herocomplex.latimes.com/comics/exclusive-ultron-forever-assembles-time-traveling-avengers-team/ 

 Noelene Clark  @NoeleneClark

Visit the site for more images/links
The color cover for "Avengers: Ultron Forever" No. 1, the first of three oversized comic issues written by Al Ewing and illustrated by Alan Davis. (Marvel Entertainment)
The color cover for “Avengers: Ultron Forever” No. 1, the first of three oversized comic issues written by Al Ewing and illustrated by Alan Davis. (Marvel Entertainment)


Marvel is assembling a team of time-traveling Avengers from the past, present and future to fight mega-villain Ultron in three oversized comics, slated for release just in time for the much anticipated Marvel Studios blockbuster “Avengers: Age of Ultron” next spring.

The 90-page “Ultron Forever” story, which will unfold in “Avengers: Ultron Forever” No. 1, “New Avengers: Ultron Forever” No. 1 and “Uncanny Avengers: Ultron Forever” No. 1, aims to introduce casual readers to the robot baddie in addition to appealing to devoted fans’ nostalgia. And since comic book newcomers are more familiar with the big-screen incarnations of Marvel’s mightiest than the African American Captain America and female Thor currently in the pages of comics, time travel seemed a clever way to bring more familiar versions of the superheroes to the story, said Tom Brevoort, Marvel senior vice president of publishing and executive editor.

The “Ultron Forever” books, to be penned by Al Ewing (“Loki: Agent of Asgard,” “Mighty Avengers”) and illustrated by comics veteran Alan Davis, will gather the current iterations of Black Widow, the Vision and the female Thor as well as classic versions of Thor and the Hulk, James “Rhodey” Rhodes as Iron Man, and a never-before-seen future Captain America — the daughter of Netflix-bound Marvel heroes Luke Cage and Jessica Jones. They are ostensibly transported through time via Doctor Doom’s time machine in order to defeat Ultron, though there might be more to their arrival than is initially revealed, Ewing said.

The tale is set some 50 years from now in a dystopian future in which Ultron, an automaton hellbent on destroying humanity, has won. The scene was set in the recent Jonathan Hickman-written “Avengers” No. 31, tied to the “Original Sin” story line.


“It was a happy accident that Jonathan had just set that world of the future up, that Ultron-dominated world, because when we were thinking about this, it was sort of low-hanging fruit,” Brevoort said. “From what little we’ve already seen, that’s a world in which there are no heroes, so the idea that in order to face the threat of Ultron, you’d have to cast into the past and pull the great heroes of history gave us immediately a setup that fit for the kind of story we were trying to do.”

Ewing, who is still in the process of creating the plot for the “Ultron Forever” books, said the new tale will offer an explanation for Hickman’s strange future, which saw future Thor calling Ultron the “All Father” (the name usually refers to the god Odin).

“We find a bit more about why Thor is serving Ultron.… The robot, cyborg-type Avengers are serving Ultron, and we learn there’s a small cadre of human beings,” said Ewing, who got his start at Marvel writing Ultron-related stories for “Avengers Assemble” tie-ins. “Ultron is fun because you can kind of decide how human or inhuman he is. He can either be this completely soulless machine, or he can be this rambling madman who happens to be a robot. He kind of meets the needs of the story that way.”

And in this particular story, Ewing’s Ultron is more than a little mad.

“He’s achieved all his goals, and he’s kind of become this godlike figure,” Ewing said. “It’s almost like humanity is just this resource for him now, but at the same time, he’s enjoying lording it over them.… He’s enjoying pulling the wings off the fly, so to speak, and really taking his time over his final victory.”
Gathering a team of Avengers to face the robotic supervillain was a particular pleasure for Ewing, who had freedom to choose from an expansive roster of larger-than-life characters from all of Marvel’s 75-year history.

“My first thing with teams is if you put two of them in a room together, have you got a story? And I think with this bunch, it’s definitely true,” Ewing said. “There are in the story reasons why they’ve been taken from the particular times and places they have been. It turns out to have bearing on the story.”


A page from "Avengers: Ultron Forever" No. 1, the first of three oversized comic issues written by Al Ewing and illustrated by Alan Davis. (Marvel Entertainment)
A page from “Avengers: Ultron Forever” No. 1, the first of three oversized comic issues written by Al Ewing and illustrated by Alan Davis. (Marvel Entertainment)

Ewing, whose first introduction to Marvel superheroes was the landmark 1984 “Secret Wars” story line, chose the Iron Man and Thor of his childhood.

“Growing up, I didn’t particularly care who Tony Stark was — it was Jim Rhodes, this guy who was with the rest of the superheroes on this little alien planet fighting each other,” Ewing said. “So yeah, I do kind of want to have him back in the red and yellow, because it’s a nice nostalgic thing for me, and it’ll be good for a bunch of readers who remember that whole era.”

Ewing also chose the iteration of Thor popularized by writer-artist Walter “Walt” Simonson in the 1980s, with a big beard and blue and gold armor.

“It’s what I grew up with,” Ewing said. “I won’t spoil exactly which one, but it’s kind of important the particular time during the Walt Simonson run he’s been taken from.”

Walt Simonson’s Thor will come face to face with the lady Thor from Jason Aaron’s current run, though her identity will likely still be a mystery when “UItron Forever” is published, Brevoort said. And there will be at least one other Thor incarnation, Ewing said, joking, “It’s a smorgasbord of Thors.”

They will be joined by a pre-Avengers, Stan Lee version of the Hulk from the early 1960s — with three toes and a penchant for calling people “palookas,” Ewing said.

From the present are current versions of Black Widow and the Vision, two characters who have yet to interact in any meaningful way, Brevoort said.

“That’s a mismatched pair. For all that, in the comics, they’ve both been Avengers for a considerable amount of time, I can’t think of a lot of situations, circumstances or adventures that they’ve experienced together,” Brevoort said. “So here, they are sort of a strange odd couple duo.… They have a common bond that they’re both from today, and theoretically, that’s the same bond the reader has.”

And from the future comes a brand new version of Captain America, Danielle Cage — the grown-up daughter of Luke Cage and Jessica Jones, who is currently an infant in the comics.

“She’s very strong, and she’s as bulletproof as her mom and dad were,” Ewing said. “She has the Captain America shield with an anti-gravity unit in it, which she can sort of control with a unit on her glove. I’m going back to the days of the ‘60s where, for about five minutes, Captain America worked his shield with magnets. She’s not throwing the shield so much as flying it out, and then it ricochets off of people and comes back to her. It’s pretty cool.”

As the team member from the future, Dani possesses knowledge of the Avengers’ futures and offers some clues throughout the story.

“She keeps calling the Black Widow ‘Madame Natasha,’ and she’s just hinting that in the future, the Black Widow’s this sort of old-school Nick Fury figure, directing the future Avengers. And the last time we would have seen her from Black Widow’s perspective was attending her first birthday.”

Brevoort said the new, half-African-American, female Captain America could stick around in comics if she is well-received.

“Whether or not that infant will grow up to be that character in the course of our stories is part of the ongoing soap opera that we tell,” he said. “What tends to happen is we’ll do a story like this, and if the character clicks with people, we tend to do more of them.… She’s a good character, and if she bounces off the page in the way that we hope she will, then we’ll be able to do more.”


And with artist Alan Davis at the helm, she won’t lack for opportunity to pop on the page.

“He’s a world-renowned comic master,” Brevoort said. “He’s been in the business long enough to illustrate some of these characters from when they were new characters from the past. He is an excellent fundamental superhero artist who’s pretty much done it all and can do it all very, very well.”

Working with Davis inspires Ewing to reach for more grandiose moments and ambitious plot elements in planning “Ultron Forever,” the writer said.

“I seem to be writing a lot more expansive vistas and big spreads and big action moments — all the things I’d like to read in an Alan Davis comic — whereas usually I’m not thinking quite so epically,” Ewing said. “I grew up reading his stuff, so it’s a massive honor for me. I’m hoping so far I’m doing all right by him. I send him the plot, and I just get back these wonderful pages of art, which I then have to dialogue in a way that does them some kind of justice, and it’s kind of a dream come true, really.”

Brevoort said the three “Ultron Forever” issues will be released between April and May, “right in the umbra of the lead up to the film,” which opens in theaters May 1, 2015.

“The tremendous success of these films means far, far more people are aware of and interested in these characters and the stories that go on with them,” Brevoort said. “So as people are getting excited and seeing the latest ‘Age of Ultron’ trailer, these comics will be coming out to whet their appetite for the film and to feed their hunger for information as to what the big robot guy with the strings is all about.”

 __________________________________________________________________________

Now, yes, I am excited that Alan Davis is working on this but to be honest it is very unlikely I will buy the book.  Brevoort....my mother always said I might live to see crap talk.  Anyway, apart from that this has to be THE most original storyline Marvel has come up with since Avengers from the past, present and future were adrift in time helping Immortus stop Kang.....oh. Avengers Forever -one of the best ever Marvel series that tied up all Avengers continuity and was very quickly shat on BY Marvel.



Oh come on -Di$ney are rechurning these ideas over and over and the cash cow Ultron is going to be milked beyond belief....I mean, what the feck was Age of Ultron about???   Guess what -there were 13 tie-ins to that four month long piece of crap (according to a lot of readers with brains it was crap and some were die-hard Marvel geeks!).  I wonder how many tie-ins there will be for this one.

This is just continuing the Science Fiction bender Marvel is on -time travel, robots, blah blah blah.

Why don't they just get it over with and do the Star Wars-Avengers cross-over?  Now, I do not normally give out too much of what I hear from people working in comics (even though I have in the past and I've been spot on every single time and months in advance of "official" announcements but what the heck) but there is a Star Wars-Avengers comic treatment at Di$ney.  But can you imagine money leeching executives at Di$ney (please there is NO "Marvel") if there was a Star Wars-Avengers/Guardians Of The Galaxy movie?  Forgive the language but even the mere thought of the cash from what would put them in hospital for the permanent erections they'd get.

You folks enabled Di$ney.  It's as bad as enabling a junkie, alcoholic or, well, insert your own choice of bad.

The House of Unoriginality cashes in again.

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9. "So How Long Before we Can Expect To See The Green Skies Book?"

Thank you for asking, Mark.  Did you buy Return?  Anyway, I need to respond to these things out of old fashioned politeness.

No idea. I have images cramming out my brain but I even think about picking up a pencil to draw -panic. This is total burn out. Can't even read comics.


When will The Green Skies appear?   meh

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10. Molly Idle's FLORA AND THE PENGUIN - interview and giveaway!


I've been a Molly Idle fan since I saw her first pieces through my Picture Book Artists Association message board. It took the rest of the world a short time to find her too, and award her a Caldecott Honor for FLORA AND THE FLAMINGO - which I interviewed her for HERE. Well, Molly and Flora are back, and this time it's winter with FLORA AND THE PENGUIN!

Q. So I heard a story that the idea for this story was almost serendipitous - it began with a light conversation between you and your editor?
A.
I would say it was entirely serendipitous! We were talking about how I was drawing the reflections in the water in Flora and the Flamingo, and Amy, my art director, said they reminded her of a reflected sheen on a sheet of ice. And I said something like, "Oh, if it were ice she'd be dancing with a penguin... " And then there was this prolonged pause... And then we both started talking at once: "The penguin would come up through a hole in the ice!" "The book could be all blue!" "They'd be ice skating!" Then we calmed down a bit and Amy said, "But first, let's finish THIS book."

Q. This is such a different color palette. How did working with an entirely different set of colored pencils affect your general mood?
A.
The colors of a book don't affect my mood nearly as much as the characters' expressions do. My mood tends to shift along with theirs. If Flora is smiling, I'm smiling while I draw her... If the penguin is completely grumpy, so am I. Brow furrowed, mouth turned down... Yesterday afternoon I was drawing yawning bunnies- I could barely keep my eyes open!


Q. Was it difficult to work with such a cool color palette after the warm one in FLORA AND THE FLAMINGO?
A.
Only at first. At first I would look at a finished piece and think, ridiculously, "It's not pink." I mean, of course it wasn't pink! But it took a while for me to warm up to the new palette [e: Ha! Warm up - no pun intended!] and feel like the pieces looked right in their cool blue hues.

Q. Flora seems to get in a bit of a bad mood in this book. Where did that come from?
A.
Well, don’t we all from time to time? And I thought if was important for Flora to be a really real little person. I mean, it would have been easy peasy to write a story where she's this idyllic child who's always cheery and never cross... But have you ever met anyone who is actually like that? I haven't. Even the best people loose it from time to time. We make poor choices. Do unkind things... We're human. But then, if given the chance, a good person will do their best to make right their wrongs. I think that’s the best part of our humanity.

Q. Obviously she gets over it and makes a lovely new friend. Was it difficult to work out this story?
A.
Yep. Though we had all these wonderful ideas that set the making of the book in motion, working out the source of Flora and the Penguin's conflict and resolution took me a while...

Q. It’s such a perfect winter book. How are you going to celebrate it?
A.
With the perfect winter treat- hot chocolate and marshmallows! Although, if you're a penguin, you'll probably prefer celebrating it with mackerel..

Q. I hope FLORA AND THE PENGUIN does as well or better than FLORA AND THE FLAMINGO - not a bad goal considering the Caldecott honor. What was it like to get the call?
A.
Oh wow... That was an awesome thing. Actually made me a bit weak in the knees... I remember holding onto the kitchen counter after I hung up the phone. Positively faint with happiness!

CONGRATULATIONS AGAIN! Check out this adorable book trailer for FLORA AND THE PENGUIN:
.

GIVEAWAY!
Candlewick has generously offered to send one free copy of FLORA AND THE PENGUIN to one of my lucky followers. Must live in the US or Canada to win - enter below.

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11. The Glassblower's Children a book review



Quote of the day:

"Glassblowing is an animal unto itself, it requires skill, knowledge, physical strength and respect." 

Featured book of the day:



Title: The Glassblower's Children
Author:  Maria Gripe

A New York Review Children's Collection







It comes with illustrations:


About the book:

This splendid fairytale is of German origin.  An impoverished glassblower, named Albert, lives with his beloved wife Sophia and their two children, Klas and Klara.  He creates beautiful glass bowls and vases that are unique and extraordinary. Unfortunately they are so impractical that no one buys from him forcing his wife to work in the fields to supplement their living needs. 

He packs up his wears each year and takes his family to a local fair to hopefully sell his goods.  It is at the fair that Flutter Mildweather comes into their lives.  She is a weaver of tapestries, tells people's fortunes and is involved with witchcraft.  She owns a one-eyed raven named Wise Wit who can only see good in the world.  They live in isolation away from the rest of the villagers. Klas and Klara are spotted by a very wealthy Lord and Lady of All Wishes Town.  The couple have everything at their disposal but they do not have any children.  The Lord takes it upon himself to kidnap the children to give to his lovely, unhappy wife, hoping that the children will make her happy once again.  

Klaus and Klara find themselves prisoners in the Lord's mansion surrounded by the River of Forgotten Memories.  Their only playmates are reflections of themselves in the mirrors that line the grand hallways.  A controlling and evil Nanny is hired for the children and their quality of life diminishes even more.  What is to  be done?  Their parents don't know their whereabouts and they themselves cannot escape.  Is this to be their destiny?

Just as their very lives are at risk, Flutter Mildweather, and her raven companion, arrive to rescue them from their hopeless existence.  The book is full of vivid, strange characters and makes you think about the difference between what you want and what you really need.  

This book is reprinted in a beautiful edition with the original white-on-black etched illustrations. This mystical, allegorical story won the 1974 Hans Christian Anderson Award.  I highly recommend this book.



About the author:





Maria Gripe (1923–2007) was born Maja Stina Walter in Sweden’s Stockholm archipelago, the daughter of an army captain. She attended Stockholm University, where she studied philosophy and the history of religion, and in 1946 married the artist Harald Gripe. Though she wrote stories from the time she was a child, Gripe did not publish her first book until she was thirty-one. Her first notable success came in the 1960s with a trilogy of books about Hugo and Josephine, and in 1964 she published Glasblåsarns barn, translated into English as The Glassblower’s Children in 1973. In 1974 she received Hans Christian Andersen Award, the most prestigious prize given to a writer of children’s literature. She adapted many of her books for radio, television, and film; in 1998 a movie adaptation of The Glassblower’s Children, starring Stellan Skarsgård, was released. Among Gripe’s books translated into English are The Night DaddyElvis and His Secret, and Agnes Cecilia.




Book review rating:  9 (Close to perfection!)



Read on and read always!  Carpe diem.




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12. MaltaComicCon 2014

Best Convention on the Planet

Hi Folks,

Well, by the time you read this little promotional missive I shall be en route to the best convention known to mankind – MALTACOMICCON in the capital city of Vallettaon the beautiful Mediterranean island of Malta.

Over the past six years I have been invited out a total of seven times by some of the most wonderful people you could ever hope to meet. I feel extremely humbled and honoured to be in this very privileged position. I now look on the organisers as great friends whom I visit every year on the run up to Christmas.

Truth told, my continued involvement with the guys this year, with the passing of my Mum has given me the impetus to carry on and get back into working again – indeed it gave me back my deadlines. Although I am still a few days off completing the final pencils, something I had hoped to pull back in time for the convention, I have, however completed all the layouts onto the Bristol board and will be showing those as stats along with the completed pencils for the pages thus far. To all intents and purposes the second book’s storytelling (the most important thing for me) is complete at long last. I just wish Mum was here to share that with me.

I am looking forward to showcasing and launching 2 NEW products, which will go on general release upon my return to the UK.

The first is my second Sketchbook: “12 – The Witching Hour”


 The second is as yet a TOP SECRET, other than the Teaser Art below:


 I am excited, as always and cannot wait to meet everyone there.

The Venue has to be seen to be believed; a medieval fortress with walls so thick you could not span it with arms outstretched. Little wonder, Malta has never been successfully invaded and conquered.

With this year’s events, I was remiss in publishing the Blogs from my notes I created upon my return from last year’s event. They remain languishing in limbo, but at some point it would be nice to write them up properly. I will however be Blogging about this year’s event, again upon my return.

In the meantime, watch out Twitter Fans for my Tweets – @TimPWizardsKeep – that is, if I can find the time during the convention. There is so much for folks to see and do there, it’s finding the time to fit it all in.

Oh, well, I’m off now, but look forward to telling of my exploits on the island this time around, real soon…  

Until next time, have fun!

Tim Perkins…
November 27th 2014

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13. Pascual and the Kitchen Angels

Pascual and the Kitchen AngelsThe Thanksgiving season is the perfect time to share an appreciation for food and cooking with kids. It is a time to be grateful for the food we have that nourishes us, and to share with others who don’t have as much. If you’re looking for inspiration, I have a book recommendation for you! With his signature folk-art illustrations, Tomie DePaola’s picture book Pascual and the Kitchen Angels recounts the legend of San Pascual, known to many Catholics (especially in Spain and Latin America) as the patron saints of cooks and the kitchen.

Pascual was born in 16th century Spain and was very devout from a young age. After working as a shepherd for most of his young life, he left home to become a Franciscan friar so he could help feed the poor. Because he had no formal education, the friars accepted him as a lay brother and he was assigned the task of cooking for the brothers. The trouble was, Pascual knew nothing about cooking! According to the legend that DePaola recounts, Pascual prayed to God for help, and angels came down from heaven and cooked a delicious meal fit for the friars. So, Pascual was able to fulfill his kitchen duties while never ceasing to pray.

San Pascual is known for living a life of prayer, humility, and service to others. The legend of his miraculous cooking is inspiring – it reminds us that cooking and eating can transcend the ordinary and become something that truly nourishes our souls and allows us to give to others.

Posted by: Parry


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14. PiBoIdMo Day 27: Mylisa Larsen Panics Creatively (plus a prize!)

by Mylisa Larsen

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Today is the 27th of November. For some of you, that means you have 27 ideas lined up like jewels on your desk. I have nothing to say to you. Keep doing whatever it is you’ve been doing. Never mess with what’s working.

But some of you have only 17 ideas or 14 or [sigh] 9. Let me be frank. It is now time to panic.

256px-Panic_button

by John (Flickr: Panic button)

Panic can be a great motivator. But there are two kinds of panic. Only one is going to be useful here. We want nothing to do with the kind of panic that says, “See, I knew I couldn’t do this. I knew I wasn’t the kind of person who could have thirty ideas.” Stop. Immediately. No one wants to be around you when you are like that. Especially muses.

mylisaforpibo

We are going for an entirely different kind of panic. We are going for elevated pulse, eyes wide open, “well let’s try something completely new today because we have to get 15 ideas in the next 3 days and isn’t that going to be crazy fun” kind of panic. We are going for a “get out of your comfort zone and go drink the world in until it pours out in ideas” kind of panic.

So, here are 5 ideas for creative panicking:

  1. Are you sitting down at your desk? Why? That B.I.C. thing can be taken to an extreme, you know. If the ideas are not showing up at your desk, why are you still there? Why aren’t you out kayaking or dancing or sitting in a bubble bath? At the very least, you should be running through the halls yelling, “December is coming, December is coming.” People will just think you’re freaking out over holiday shopping so you’ll totally get away with it. But really, you’re signalling to your brain, “Today is not business as usual. Get out of your well worn little rut. We are going for a ride today.”
  1. Are you putting yourself where you can hear rhythm? We’ve already talked about dancing but you could also find some kids to play jump rope with. Play a clapping and rhyming game with the kids at the bus stop. Or climb up a tree and pay attention for awhile. The world is made of rhythms. So are a lot of picture books.
  1. Quick, who is your favorite illustrator? Go outside and look at everything as if it were one of their illustrations. What would that look like? What things would that illustrator notice or create out of what you are seeing? Try not to let yourself have words during this exercise. Just visuals. Then come back inside and pretend an editor has just called to say, “Edward Gorey/Diane Goode/Lane Smith/Pamela Zagarenski just called. They’d like to illustrate one of your books.” Write that book. Then pick another artist with a completely different sensibility and repeat.
  1. Wait, aren’t you going somewhere today to eat pie? This is perfect. Crazy relatives, frazzled toddlers, small children meeting Aunt Cora’s special jello for the first time. There will be stories there. Watch for them. Offer to entertain someone’s two year old. Remember what being two was like. Take all the young cousins out in the backyard and help them build a snowfort or rake leaves or play tag. They will love you for it. And you will find a story.

And if you aren’t meeting up with relatives for Thanksgiving, where are you going today? Because I’ll bet there’s a story there too.

  1. Look, the point is that panicking creatively is just about pulling out all the stops and flying at this task from some new angles. It’s about playing. So quit acting like such a grownup. When was the last time you sat down with some colored paper and cut it into shapes just because it was cool paper and you had scissors? When was the last time you laid on your belly in the grass and watched a tiny world go by? Have you drawn on your walls lately?

Loosen up a little. Grin like you have a secret. Play. Panic (creatively.)

guestbloggerbio2014

mylisa_email_2-2Mylisa Larsen has been telling stories for a long time. This has caused her to get gimlet-eyed looks from her parents, her siblings and, later, her own children when they felt that certain stories had been embellished beyond acceptable limits. She now writes children’s books where her talents for hyperbole are actually rewarded.

She is the author of the picture books, Instructions for Bedtime (Katherine Tegen Books, January 2016) and If I Were A Kangaroo (Viking).

You can visit her online at MylisaLarsen.com.

prizedetails2014

Mylisa is giving away a picture book critique!

This prize will be given away at the conclusion of PiBoIdMo. You are eligible for this prize if:

  1. You have registered for PiBoIdMo.
  2. You have commented ONCE ONLY on today’s post.
  3. You have completed the PiBoIdMo challenge. (You will have to sign the PiBoIdMo Pledge at the end of the event.)

Good luck, everyone!


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15. Writers: Didn't Have Time For #NaNoWriMo? Try 250, 500 or 1000 Words A Day (and why I need to do this)

If you're a writer who has no trouble banging out thousands of words a day on a regular basis, you can skip my 250, 500 or 1000 Words A Day Writing Challenge.

This post is for others who fit into one or more of the following situations:

- You started NaNoWriMo with good intentions but ended up falling further and further behind until it was way too late to try catching up.

- You've always wanted to try a writing challenge like NaNoWriMo but knew you'd never have the time to write 50,000 words in November.

- You have a day job and need some motivation to squeeze out extra time to do regular writing.

- You have kids, so life is often crazybusy with parenting duties and an unpredictable schedule. You need some motivation to carve out writing time here and there.

- You're an illustrator who is trying to flex your writing muscles. A writing challenge with achievable goals could help you get that picture book or other writing project finished.

- You already make a living as a writer or are a published writer, but have always wanted to try another genre...but your paid/contracted work has always come first. Even with limited time, you want to get that personal writing project of yours off the back burner and make some steady progress.

In my case: I am a children's book illustrator who has just started writing picture books. I love my work and I love making picture books, but I also have not forgotten my roots: I have been writing books for young people for as long as I can remember. None of them have been published, though I have been steadily working on my craft; judging from the gradual improvement in quality of editorial rejection letters, my writing has been getting better. I've gotten close (tantalizingly, frustratingly close) for my latest novel, but "close" is not the same as a book contract. I also had my YA novel-in-progress nominated for the SCBWI Sue Alexander "Most Promising For Publication" Award.

Then a rejection ended up (in a roundabout way) getting me a book illustration contract with Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers, and my novel-writing got put on hold. It's ironic but a part of the business: I've since had more than one editor express interest in seeing my novels, but I haven't had as much time to work on my writing because of my contracted illustration work.

With what I've learned since then, I'm realizing why my already-written novels didn't sell and why they SHOULDN'T have sold, and have shelved them. I've started working on a new project which I'm pretty excited about, but don't spend nearly enough time on. It's been a crazy year for me: I illustrated three Judy Blume chapter books, 10 Judy Blume covers, finished the illustrations for my first solo picture book (WHERE ARE MY BOOKS? with Simon & Schuster), illustrated RUBY ROSE ON HER TOES (picture book by Rob Sanders, with HarperCollins), did sketches for MITZI TULANE: PRESCHOOL DETECTIVE (picture book by Lauren McLaughlin, with Random House), some sketches for SEA MONKEY AND BOB (picture book by Aaron Reynolds, with Simon & Schuster), did my first book tour, talks and workshops at conferences, then had family health issues.

But something else I've learned: life is ALWAYS going to be crazybusy, one way or another. I will NEVER have the luxury of time that I had in my pre-published days, and that's not a bad thing. If I want to achieve my goal of getting my novels for young people published, I have to adjust and squeeze out writing time however I can.

Hoping some of you join me in the Challenge! Here's more info about how to participate. Feel free to post below or in my Writing Challenge: 250, 500 or 1000 Words Facebook page. Or you can just participate without letting anyone know...it's entirely up to you.

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16. Happy Thanksgiving!

Pea-turkey8x10-web.jpg

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17. Happy Thanksgiving


Wishing you all a Blessed Thanksgiving. 

During this time (and every day) it is important
to reflect and appreciate our blessings...
Small and large.

For living your life with gratitude blessings will be plentiful!

God Bless!

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

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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18. Thankfully Reading Weekend Kick-off

I'm thankful for a lot of things this year. The special parts of my life that I give thanks daily for: family, friends, my home, the resources we've been blessed with, etc. But, I'm also thankful for my love of reading. In the first half of this year, I lost it a bit. I couldn't pick up a book and want to finish it... couldn't seem to keep my attention on anything. For the first time in my life, I didn't want to sit down and read at the end of a long day. I didn't want to browse books online or talk about books with my other book nerd friends. No podcasts, audiobooks, or long visits to the library to browse. I sort of lost myself for awhile.

Around September, I got it back and I realized that loving books and reading is a gift. I am truly thankful that I have this little world -- really, a big world -- of bookish friends and book clubs and awesome podcasts to listen to. I'm so thankful for audiobooks and people to talk about them with. I'm just thankful for books. Period.

I'm spending my weekend participating in the Thankfully Reading Weekend, hosted by Jenn at Jenn's Bookshelves. Relaxed weekend, reading when I can, and focusing on the important things rather than Black Friday shopping madness. Amen for that.




I'm starting off with The Book of Strange New Things by Michael Faber and if I get through that with a 3-year-old running around, it will be a Thanksgiving miracle!


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19. Thankful Thoughts 2014

tumblr inline mwvu8aymsJ1s8c70q Thankful Thoughts 2014

Best to all for a happy peaceful holiday. I’m thankful this year for a healthy family, good friends, cute cats, and a great job in the industry filled with the best people on earth. And I’m incredibly thankful for everyone reading this, especially the readers who have followed me from the original Beat through many different urls. And I’m super thankful for the Beat crew that helped make this a great year.

Photo via the Peanuts blog

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20. Picture Book Month: The Great Thanksgiving Escape

The Great Thanksgiving Escape by Mark Fearing

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About the Book: What's a kid to do when it's another Thanksgiving at Grandma's full of relatives? Try to escape to the back yard and the swing set! Can they do it?

GreenBeanTeenQueen Says: Escaping Thanksgiving family drama can be hard for anyone, especially if you're a kid. There are guard dogs, overly affectionate aunts, zombies, and the great hall of butts! Giving a kids-eye view of family gatherings, Gavin and his cousin Rhonda try to make a break for it through a family filled obstacle course.

These two kids who aren't babies anymore but are too old for the teenager table weave their way through family to find their place at Thanksgiving. It's a humorous take on surviving family gettogethers when you're that pesky in between age and can't seem to fit anywhere. Some of the humor I think will be understood more by adults than the kids but it's a silly book to enjoy together and a funny take on your usual Thanksgiving read.

Full Disclosure: Reviewed from library copy

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21. dinosaur police - first peek!

I've been wanting to talk about this book for ages, and Scholastic UK have finally tweeted a photo of the cover! So yes, look out for this book next spring!



Here's a look into my studio, when I was using a dip pen and ink to trace the pencil sketch onto the watercolour paper.



And here's the day I brought in the final cover artwork! Met Team Dinosaur Police! That's designer Rebecca Essilifie and editor Pauliina Malinen. We've put together a great dinosaur romp for you; we hope you'll like it.



Warning: contains pizza. Lots of pizza.

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22. Reflecting on NCTE

Reflecting...literally

Maybe I shouldn't have read what I wrote in last year's reflection on attending NCTE. Wow. Did I really write that? Nice work, last year's me. All still true. So now what am I supposed to write?

This year I'll write about magic. I'll write about this:


I've presented at NCTE before, but I don't remember any of my sessions ever feeling as magical as this one with (L to R) Vicki Vinton, Julieanne Harmatz, Fran McVeigh, and Steve Peterson.



Vicki  invented our tribe.
"Our job is to find the disconnected and connect them, to find people eager to pursue a goal and give them the structure to go achieve that goal. But just about always, we start with an already existing worldview, a point of view, a hunger that's waiting to be satisfied." -- Seth Godin

We met in the comments on Vicki's blog. We knew each other through our written words both there, and on our own blogs. We knew each other through profile pictures and tweets. When we finally met in person, it was so fun to add facial expressions and voices and hands to shake and hugs and the sounds of laughter to everything we already knew about each other.

All the parts of our session fit like the verses of a song. The chorus of our song was, "What if?"

I think we'll be singing this song we wrote for a long time to come. We'll sing the chorus in our classrooms, and we'll sing out the new verses to each other on our blogs until we find a way and a place for an in-the-flesh reunion!

Here is Steve's reflection on NCTE and our session.

Fran has three reflections -- here, here, and here.

Julieanne wrote a thank you note to NCTE.

There was way, way more to my time at NCTE than just this one session with these four other people. There were other first-time meetings with online friends and lots of happy reunions with far-flung friends. There were many sessions that provided new learning and deep thinking. There were the obligations of the poetry committee and the CLA board.

But this one bit was magic.
Truly magic.

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23. Evil Editor Classics


Dear Agent X,

For Cassidy MacNamara, Thanksgiving’s no piece of piss—after all, throwing a bunch of fire elementals in one room incites brawls and torched curtains. [It sounds more like Thanksgiving is a piece of piss. Not that I'm familiar with the term, but I assume it means the same thing as piece of crap or piece of shit.] [Oops, a bit of research reveals it's British and means the same as piece of cake. Hey, at least cake, unlike piss, comes in pieces, you crazy Brits.] [Wait, do Brits even celebrate Thanksgiving? Additional research shows they don't, but these could be Americans in Britain or Brits in America, so I'll let it go.] However, this year air elementals crash their dinner, killing some of her own and kidnapping others. including her little sister. [The word "however" suggests that this year Thanksgiving is a piece of piss, when in fact it's still no piece of piss. What you want is something like: Thanksgiving's never been a piece of piss, but at least it's never been a piece of shit. Or rather, shite. Or: Cassidy didn't expect Thanksgiving to be a piece of piss—after all, putting a bunch of fire elementals into one room always incites brawls and torched curtains. But when air elementals crash their dinner, killing some of her own and kidnapping others, including her little sister, she declares it her second-worst Thanksgiving ever.] [Note that I changed "throwing" to "putting." "Throwing" was giving the wrong impression.] [By the way, "piece of piss" is a great tongue twister. Say it five times fast.]

With her aunts and uncles arguing among themselves and her drunk Ma cradling a bottle in the corner, [This is in the same room with the corpses of their relatives lying on the floor?] Cassidy, like always, has to take responsibility. Those bastard air elementals took her little sister, but she’s going to get her back.

Problem numero uno though: fire elementals are restricted to the South. If she crosses the border, the elemental Council will send their extraction team after her. [Problem numero uno should be arranging for the Council's disposal team to get rid of the bodies in the dining room. Otherwise Sis will be coming home to a highly unpleasant scene.] [Are air elementals restricted to the North? If so, why didn't the extraction team deal with them? If not, how does Cassidy know her sister's been taken to the North?] If caught, not only will her little sister be gone for good, but Cassidy will be stripped of her powers. A fire elemental without fire is nothing. Even though all she’s armed with is a couple of her crazy, but loyal cousins, her ‘69 Camaro and a hostage who won’t shut up, [You forgot to include the ability to manipulate fire. When you have flamethrowers and your enemy has leaf blowers, I like your chances.] Cassidy will make sure her family comes home, no matter what the cost.

"When Fire Ignites" is a 90,000 word urban fantasy.

Regards,


Notes

You'd think a society that has extraction teams to keep elementals in their own areas would also have authorities to deal with renegade air elementals who commit crimes.

Presumably the mix of mythological creatures, Thanksgiving, "piece of piss," "numero uno," is part of the book's charm, and not anachronism gone wild.

I like the voice and humor if the book is also funny, but it's unusual for a query in which the main plot development is that characters are murdered and kidnapped to stress the comical aspects. Is the plot more adventure/thriller or comedy?

The query is mostly setup. When her little sister is kidnapped by air elementals, Cassidy and two of her cousins head into the forbidden North on a rescue mission. Expand that into a three or four-sentence paragraph that includes the important stuff I left out, and you still have room to tell us what the plan is, what obstacles pop up, what the air elementals want with Little Sis.


Selected Comments

AlaskaRavenclaw said...I found this query incomprehensible, even when I tried rereading it without EE's blue comments. Try for less, er, voice and more clarity.


IMHO said..."A fire elemental without fire is ..." what? A human? A fairy? I'm really unclear on the characters and the setting (Alabama/Connecticut? South Pole/North pole?). Why did air elementals crash the party/kidnap the kid? Feels more like a madcap movie trailer than a query designed to hook an agent.


Veronica Rundell said...Jesus god. Please don't de a Brit trying to write 'Murrican. This ALWAYS falls flat. Because, as EE has stated, the colloquialisms simple do not translate. I don't care if the words are English--the sentiment is foreign. That being said, set your query aflame and start again.

Describe what the heck actually happens in the story. And be more specific than North v. south, k? If you are a dreaded Murrican (that's how my son calls the incompetent persons seemingly constantly featured on Fox News) you know that America is region-specific. And North-South is too vague to really gain a flavor of authenticity.

Good luck!


AlaskaRavenclaw said...The Brits talk about their North and South too, with the cultural assumptions more or less reversed AFAICT.


AlaskaRavenclaw said...
I'm going to try to synopt this story as I understand it from a 3rd reading of the query.

Cassidy McNamara is hosting Thanksgiving for her extended family of fire elementals when some air elementals show up. They kill several of Cassidy's family and kidnap her little sister.

The relatives don't fight back, they just argue and get drunk. So Cassidy goes off to look for her sister alone.

However, she's not allowed to leave the South. (I'd leave that out, since it clearly doesn't deter her. The next sentence contains an unclear antecedent... let's not worry about this. You'll have to rewrite from the ground up.)

She hops into a car with some relatives-- it turns out she wasn't the only one willing to pursue Sis. Off they go.

Hm.

I would work on the fire elemental aspect if I were you. You don't say what it means. I'd think, for one thing, it would make one want to stay away from alchohol and Camaros. Also, give us some context. Who are air elementals and why are the fire elementals so powerless against them? Air makes fire stronger. Is this some kind of Hatfield/McCoy feud? What's at stake? If it's preserving Cassidy's family, can you make them sound less undesirable?

In other words, what is the actual challenge facing the protagonist?


Veronica Rundell said...EE and Alaska make concise work of the set-up, unfortunately I don't get a true sense of urgency from the author's query. It's heavy on the snark, light on the plot. Try re-balancing with a good dose of 'toning this down'.

Also, and perhaps this is me, but why the muscle car? I mean, the dang thing is 50 years old. Why is it so important to the story that it's in the query?

Also, no idea why anyone would host Cassidy's family for a Sunday dinner, let alone turkey day. They sound reprehensible, and TSTL.


Veronica Rundell said...That Alaska has read this query three times, author, should give you some sense of her kindness, and commitment to helping you rewrite this...

I hope you understand how unlikely it is that an agent will read it more than once. It has to be perfect. Work hard, revise. Let us see it again...


AlaskaRavenclaw said...Why thank you, Veronica. What a nice thing to say.


Anonymous said...Hey Alaska, many of us appreciate your decisive and insightful comments.


Evil Editor said...Actually, I think you meant divisive and incite-ful.

Hey, just kidding.


AlaskaRavenclaw said...Thanks, Anonymous.

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24. Sunday Funnies #19: Thanksgiving Day Edition



I have a lot to be thankful for this year.  First, my Kiddo is happy and healthy and living in California with her new husband and I will be seeing them at Christmas when they come to visit.

I'm thankful for my friends and family, even if I don't get to see them very often.  And I am thankful for my online friends, even though I haven't met many of them.  One of the things I love about blogging is getting to know so many people all over the world, an opportunity that can be found in few other ways.   Thank you to all my followers and readers.  Your presence on my blog is much appreciated.

Thanksgiving was hit hard in WWII because of rationing and it wasn't lost on the people who drew comic strips for the newspapers, as you can see:

November 25, 1943 Rationing on the Home Front:


November 25, 1943 Rations on the Front Lines:



I wish everyone a happy and bountiful Thanksgiving



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25. Selfie

It had been a while since I  did a self portait. So what better reason to do one, than a fresh hair cut?
Before going to the hair dresser, I sat down and treated myself to a cup of tea. And after returning home -with bangs- I took out a bic ballpoint pen, and started drawing a selfie. The top half actually has a pretty good resemblance. But the nose, mount and chin are a bit 'off'.

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