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1. Experimenting with Photoshop Brushes


Doing some experimenting with Photoshop brushes
for this month's theme of "Pig". 

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2. हैप्पी बर्थ डे गूगल – गूगल का 18वां जन्मदिन

हैप्पी बर्थ डे गूगल हैप्पी बर्थ डे गूगल – गूगल का 18वां जन्मदिन आज है. गूगल सर्च इंजन एक शानदार जरिया है जानकारी पाने का . Happy Birth day Google.26 सितम्बर को गूगल का 18वां जन्मदिन मना रहा है. Happy Birthday  पर गूगल ने अपना स्‍पेशल डूडल जारी किया है. क्या है गूगल का इतिहास  हैप्पी बर्थ […]

The post हैप्पी बर्थ डे गूगल – गूगल का 18वां जन्मदिन appeared first on Monica Gupta.

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3. Celebrating 25 Books from 25 Years: Chess Rumble

LEE & LOW BOOKS celebrates its 25th anniversary this year! To recognize how far the company has come, we are featuring one title a week to see how it is being used in classrooms today and hear from the authors and illustrators.

Today, we are celebrating Chess Rumble, which explores the ways this strategic game empowers young people with the skills they need to anticipate and calculate their moves through life.

Featured title: Chess Rumble

 Author: G. Neri

 Illustrator: Jesse Joshua WatsonChess Rumble cover image

Synopsis: In Marcus’s world, battles are fought everyday—on the street, at home, and in school. Angered by his sister’s death and his father’s absence, and pushed to the brink by a bullying classmate, Marcus fights back with his fists.

One punch away from being kicked out of school and his home, Marcus encounters CM, an unlikely chess master who challenges him to fight his battles on the chess board. Guarded and distrusting, Marcus must endure more hard lessons before he can accept CM’s help to regain control of his life.

Awards and Honors:

  • Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers, American Library Association (ALA)
  • Notable Books in the Language Arts, National Council of Teachers of English
  • Lee Bennett Hopkins Promising Poet Award, International Reading Association (IRA)
  • Top Picks for Reluctant Readers, BoysRead.org

G. Neri, an award-winning filmmaker whose work has earned him several honors. Inspired by his editor, Jennifer Fox, who had wanted to do an urban chess story for years and finally saw the possibility of making it come to life through him, Neri dove into the project with unbridled enthusiasm. “I loved the idea of using chess strategy as a way to approach life. I had dealt with a few teens who had come from troubled pasts and had difficulty finding an outlet for their inner struggle. So the idea of pairing a kid like this with a chess mentor who did not back down came naturally. It was a very organic process, and I let the characters tell me their stories.”

Neri hopes that readers will come away from Chess Rumble “think[ing] about their lives and the choices they make before they make them.” Pressed to continue, Neri says, “I hope they are intrigued to play chess, and maybe start thinking about acting on, instead of reacting to, negative situations. Acting considers what can happen if you make one choice versus another. Reacting just responds impulsively to the problem instead of thinking ahead three steps and maybe making a better choice.

Resources for teaching with Chess Rumble: 

Watch the trailer:

You can purchase a copy of Chess Rumble here.

For more titles about different experiences with bullying and peer pressure, check out our Bullying/Anti-Bullying Collection here.

Bullying Collection Cover Images

Have you used Chess Rumble? Let us know!

Celebrate with us! Check out our 25 Years Anniversary Collection.

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4. A Greek Lunch

Spinach pie and feta cheese
And grape leaves stuffed with rice
Formed the basis for a lunch
That really was so nice.

Eggplant dip, tzatziki sauce
And salad, smartly dressed
And served with olives; who could ever
Sit there unimpressed?

Sliced up chicken, pita bread
Plus other dips and cheese
Made a meal which all could see
Was meant to sate and please.

Of course, there also was dessert
And snacky treats before,
The kind of food that fills you up
But still, you eat some more.

So thank you, Pam, my hostess friend,
For starting off my week
With a lovely luncheon, filled with dishes
Tasty, fresh and Greek!

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5. Picture Book Monday with a review of It's a book

For many young people today a book is digital file on a tablet. Print books just aren't a part of their lives. I read books in both formats but I generally prefer a printed book. There is something about how a book feels, how it looks sitting on a shelf, and even how it smells that I love. I have books in almost every room in my home, and book cover images appear in frames on my walls.

In today's picture book you will meet a character who has no idea what a print book is. He is puzzled by the book that his friend is reading because it cannot be twitched on, it doesn't noises, nor can you play games on it. What is the point of a book he wonders. What indeed!

It's a BookIt’s a book
Lane Smith
Picture Book
For ages 5 to 7
Roaring Brook, 2010, 978-1-59643-606-0
One day Jackass comes over to where Monkey is reading. Jackass asks Monkey what he has in his hands. Monkey explains that it is a book. Jackass is not sure what a book does so he asks Monkey a lot of questions about the strange object that he is holding.
   Jackass wants to know if you can scroll down with a book or blog with it. Does it have a mouse? Can it make characters fight? Does it tweet or use wi-fi- or make noise like Jackass’s laptop? It turns out that a book cannot do any of these things. Monkey shows Jackass that the book he is reading has a story in it about pirates. In Jackass’s opinion there are too many words. As he takes the book and goes to sit down, Jackass learns that the book does not even have a screen name, nor do you need a password to read it. How bizarre!
   This wonderful book shows young readers all the things that a book isn’t. Then, in a sneaky and completely silent way, it shows us the wonderful magic that can be found in an object that does not need a power cable, upgrades, or a mouse pad.
   With a minimal text, delightful characters, and touches of humor, Lane Smith gives readers a fantastic reading experience.

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6. This Week in Manhattan: Animation Nights New York Best of Fest

New York City has a new mini-animation festival, and it's taking place this week.

The post This Week in Manhattan: Animation Nights New York Best of Fest appeared first on Cartoon Brew.

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7. Putin and beyond: a Q&A on Russian politics

Russian politics has always been a fascinating subject around the globe. Exactly how politics works there, along with Putin's vision for the country and the world at large is the source of constant debate.

The post Putin and beyond: a Q&A on Russian politics appeared first on OUPblog.

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8. Dan Woodger

Dan Woodger

Dan Woodger is a London based illustrator who uses pastel color palettes and black outlines to create eccentric scenes that are bound to make you chuckle. His portfolio of highly expressive characters has helped him land editorial and advertising collaborations with The New York Times, Heineken, and Google. I am especially impressed with his work for the messaging app LINE, in which he crafted 1000 unique emojis in 10 weeks. To keep up with his work and read his personal insights on each of his projects, make sure to follow his blog and Instagram.

Dan Woodger

Dan WoodgerDan Woodger

Dan WoodgerDan Woodger

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Cruschiform
One and Done

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9. प्रकृति से प्रेम करो

प्राकृतिक विरासत की सूची में शामिल हुए पेड राजधानी के प्रसिद्ध, वर्षों पुराने और ऐतिहासिक 18 पेड़ों को प्राकृतिक विरासत की सूची में शामिल किया है इससे जहां प्रकृति की रक्षा होगी वही प्रकृति से प्रेम करो का सबक भी मिलेगा  .पर्यावरण का ख्याल रखते हुए ये फैसला लिया गया है.. पर्यावरण की सुरक्षा की शानदार […]

The post प्रकृति से प्रेम करो appeared first on Monica Gupta.

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10. Dog Loves Counting

Dog Loves Counting. Louise Yates. 2013. Random House. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: Dog loved books. He loved reading them late into the night and didn't like to leave them for long.

Premise/plot: Dog knows he should go to bed, but, he's having trouble falling to sleep. He decides to count something--not sheep--to help him sleep. So he opens a book, finds himself inside, of course--Dog gets lost in books, becoming part of the action--and starts to find things to count. He makes friends too, of course.

My thoughts: Of the three books, this is my least favorite. I still love Dog as a character. And I can even relate to not wanting to put down his book and go to bed. But as an adult reader, I can't really lose myself in a book that focuses on counting from one to ten and back again. I just can't. For young children, of course, this one is still recommended. But it feels more 'educational' than the previous two in the series.

Text: 3 out of 5
Illustrations: 3 out of 5
Total: 6 out of 10

© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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11. Book Review - Portrait of the Mermaid

Another amazing and heartfelt review of my mermaid coloring book. I am SO joy filled hearing how much these lovelies are touching people all around the world. 🐳

❤️ ADORE the blue mermaid!!!!


Color by Iris Eenmäe (@iriseenmae) http://thecoloringaddict.com
Get your own copy of Portrait of the Mermaid HERE

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12. Excursions on Second Cruise by Margot Justes



The second one is also  a 14 night cruise, and on this one there will be 5 days at sea, the rest of the time will be spent visiting ports.  The lovely part is that I’ll be joined by lifelong friends for the 2 upcoming cruises. This is my first time taking them back-to-back...will let you know how that works out.

The first stop on this 2nd cruise from Rome, is Valetta, Malta.

This will be my second visit to Malta. It is beautiful, and a delight to tour, people are warm, and friendly, filled with history, and natural beauty, it is an amazing place to visit. We’ll stop to see the Hagar Qim Temples, that date back  to 3600 BC and described by the World Heritage Sites committee as "unique architectural masterpieces". This tour includes  a lunch at a local resort in Golden Sands.  We’ll visit the ancient city of Mdina, where St. Paul is said to have lived after being shipwrecked on the Islands in 60 A.D. Tour includes a visit to the crafts village in Ta’ Qali, filled with handmade items by local artisans.

Piraeus, the port of Athens.

I have been to Athens before, and have climbed the stairs to the Acropolis, the last time was in 2014.  For this tour, I opted for a walking excursion that will end in the Plaka, the touristy street, filled with cafes, restaurants, and gift shops. This tour includes a visit to the marble Panathenaic Stadium, the site of the first modern Olympic Games held in 1896.   

Ephesus, Turkey.

This one is a repeat visit as well, but the ruins are amazing, and well worth multiple visits.  I’ve extended this tour to visit the Magnesia Gate, the once-public steam baths of Scholastica, and Temple of Hadrian, the Great Theatre, one of the largest theaters in antiquity, and the  Arcadian Way, the main street of Roman-era Ephesus,  it is reputed that Mark Antony and Cleopatra once rode in procession. The tour will end with lunch at Cittantica Ephesus Park. I always look forward to sampling the local cuisine.

Mykonos, Greece is next.

I have visited Mykonos before, but instead of touring the Island, I took an excursion to Delos, an island about 45 minutes by ferry from Mykonos. Delos is an architectural site, filled with amazing ruins, it is an ongoing research facility, and a marvel to behold. The only people allowed to live on the island are the archeologists, and security staff. There is a museum on site, and the ferry brings the tourists in the morning and picks them in the afternoon. The winds can be quite brutal, and loud as they whip up in fury. The whole island is a magnificent ruin, and not to be missed. I may repost my Delos blog-it is unique.
This time I’ll spend the day in Mykonos, and hopefully find the wonderful Windmills, and stop for a cup of Greek coffee in one of the many cafes.  The ship docks within walking distance of the center of town. The main tourist street is along the shore, with water lapping against the stones, the souvenir shops lure you in, and for me a cafe and delicious Greek coffee always beckon.

Haifa, Israel

I lived in Haifa many, many years ago, and this will be an interesting visit. The school I attended is still there, walled in, high atop Mt. Carmel. The tour includes a visit to the magnificent topiaries in Haifa's Baha'i gardens, that were built on 19 terraces, and I hope to enjoy the panoramic city views from atop Mount Carmel.  That should bring back a few memories.

Ashdod, the port of Jerusalem, we dock overnight.

The first day I booked a long 10 hour tour that will take me to Masada, and the Dead Sea, said to be the lowest point on earth. I have never been to Masada, and am really looking forward to the tour. Since it’s such a long day, they have to feed us, and lunch will be provided by one of the resorts in the area, and it will be Mediterranean fare with the Dead Sea as a backdrop.  

The second day in Jerusalem will be spent in the city of Jerusalem.
The tour is called Eternal Jerusalem, all the key points of the ancient city will be covered, visit will include Yad VeShem Holocaust Museum, the Children's Memorial, and of course there is a stop  at the Jewish quarter of the Old City, the Western Wall, and the Tomb of King David.

Last stop on this cruise is Katakolon, Greece

Katakolon is rather small,  and offers a few of the customary tourist trinkets, but its main claim is that it is the getaway to Ancient Olympia, the site of the 1st Olympics in Greece. The ruins of the temples of Hera and Zeus-hopefully some of  the Greek Mythology I read ages ago, will come back to me.  The tour will end will local snacks and Greek Folk dances.

We again end in Rome, and the last cruise in this itinerary is the transatlantic one, it will take me back to Florence, Italy, Provence, France, Barcelona, and Palma de Mallorca, Spain. The excursions will not be repeated, I selected different places to visit, Europe is rich with history, there is so much to see that it is not a problem to revisit.  The last stop will be in Tenerife, Canary Islands. We cross the Atlantic, and spend 7 days at sea, relaxing before disembarking in Ft. Lauderdale, FL. The best part, there is no jet lag, the time is adjusted daily while at sea.

Cheers,
Margot  Justes
Blood Art
A Fire Within
A Hotel in Paris
A Hotel in Bath
A Hotel in Venice
www.mjustes.com





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13. Celebrating Banned Books Week!

How fantastic is it that the theme for this year's Banned Books Week (Sept. 25 - Oct. 1) is Frequently Challenged Books with Diverse Content? We are all about books with diverse content here (well, not ALL, but it's one of the themes we feature... Read the rest of this post

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14. Sprains, Strains, and New Directions

New Akashiya Sai Watercolor Pens: the full set!

Two weeks ago I sprained my ankle. I was on the way to my writer’s group at the Albuquerque Museum and while I was walking through the car park, I stepped on an extended sprinkler head hidden by a covering of gravel. The pain of the event is indescribable: a spike through the ball of my foot, sending me into a contorted loss of balance, that then resulted in a totally twisted ankle and foot. Somehow I limped to my meeting, managed to converse for the next few hours, and then went home to collapse. Ice and pain killers got me through the worst of it, but my foot is still very tender as is my other foot and leg, as well as my back and shoulders from all the strain of hop-hop-hopping along every day to get from A to B.

By the third day of hoppity-hop I wanted to know WHY this had happened to me. Besides knowing that I wasn’t looking where I was going (I rarely do), I wondered if there could be some sort of symbolism or metaphysical lesson to be learned here. I did a quick Google search and got the same message several times over: a sprained ankle is an indication that you are to seek out a new direction. 

Sitting with my foot elevated and my stack of books and journals handy, I decided that the only new direction I wanted at that moment was to close my eyes and nap all day. But apparently the universe had other ideas. Almost immediately after reading several websites each saying the same thing about following new paths, the mail arrived and I received some new pens I ordered online several weeks earlier: a twenty-color set of Akashiya Sai Watercolor Brush Pens, along with a sampler set of eleven black drawing pens. Thirty-one pens in total. For a minimalist such as myself, the number was mind-boggling, and thoroughly distracting. It was like when I got a ball of Silly Putty when I was five and had chicken pox.

Right away I forgot about my nap and started to try out my new pens. After all, my journal was right there in front of me. As I was doodling, I then naturally got some new ideas (no, no, please no new ideas): 

  • Why not try Inktober this year? Similar to NaNoWrimo for writers, Inktober is a challenge to produce, and post on social media, an ink drawing a day for the entire month of October. I've always wanted to try it, but never had the courage to post daily. While I was thinking about this, I then had the idea to:
  • Finally start that children’s picture book I’ve been dreaming of since last year, which involves:
  • Learning to draw horses and ponies (the most difficult subject I can think of). 


Three new directions that are entirely do-able, don’t interfere too much with my already carefully-laid plans to work on my new novel, and if anything, enhance what I’m doing already. For instance, I draw every day anyway—so why not just work with ink for a month? And although I am currently marketing my picture book based in Barcelona, wouldn’t it be a good idea to be able to tell editors I am working on a second book? 

An interesting side note about learning to draw horses is that horses have delicate legs and ankles. Their feet must be considered and cared for in a serious and responsible way. Where they walk, how their shoes fit, and how they're exercises all matters. It made me think that what I need to do until the end of the year is to keep my eyes open, pay attention, and sit still long enough to get my work done. 

Thankfully, I can report that my own foot is on the mend and I'm certain I'll be  back to my old self in another week or two. But I also understand that there’s plenty of room for a new self, too--especially the one that gets to sit down all day!

Tip of the Day: According to metaphysical practitioners, there’s a lot we can learn from illness and injuries. In my case, despite the pain and inconvenience, I feel I’ve come through with some valuable insights and renewed energy for my art and writing. The next time you’re under the weather, ask if there is anything you are meant to understand or explore on a deeper level. Like me, you might be surprised at what you discover.

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15. It’s Slice of Life Tuesday!

WRITE a slice of life story on your own blog. SHARE a link to your post in the comments section. GIVE comments to at least three other SOL bloggers. Today’s inspiration comes from… Continue reading

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16. New Voice & Giveaway: Maria Gianferrari on Penny & Jelly

By Cynthia Leitich Smith
for Cynsations

Maria Gianferrari writes both fiction and nonfiction picture books from her sunny, book-lined study in northern Virginia, with her dog Becca as her muse.

Maria’s debut picture book, Penny & Jelly: The School Show, illustrated by Thyra Heder (2015) led to Penny & Jelly: Slumber Under the Stars (2016)(both HMH Books). 

Maria has seven picture books forthcoming from Roaring Brook Press, Aladdin Books for Young Readers, GP Putnam’s Sons and Boyds Mills Press in the coming years.

Could you tell us about your writing community--your critique group or partner or other sources of emotional, craft and/or professional support?

In the spirit of my main character, Penny, an avid list maker, here are my top five answers:

1. Ammi-Joan Paquette:

I am so grateful for my amazing agent, Ammi-Joan Paquette!

Where do I begin? I owe my writing career to Joan, for taking a chance on and believing in me. She has been sage guide, a cheerleader and champion of my writing from the get go.

She’s made my writing dream come true!!

2. Crumpled Paper Critique (CP):

I would not be where I am today without my trusted writing friends and critique partners: Lisa Robinson, Lois Sepahban, Andrea Wang, Abigail Calkins Aguirre and Sheri Dillard. They have been such a wonderful source of support over the years, in good times, and in bad.

Yes—it’s kind of like a marriage—that’s how dedicated we are to each other’s work! They’re smart, thoughtful, insightful, well read, hard-working and the best critique partners one could hope for!

We have a private website where we share not only our manuscripts, but our opinions on books, ideas, writing inspiration and doubts. I treasure them and wish we lived closer to one another to be able to meet regularly in person. Hugs, CPers!



3. Emu’s Debuts:

Like many other writers, I’m quite a shy and introverted person. If you’ve seen that classic hamster ball cartoon about introverts, that’s me! Having a book debut is extremely intimidating.

I was so lucky to have joined the ranks of Emu’s Debuts, so named for clients and debut authors affiliated with Erin Murphy Literary Agency (EMLA).

The Emu’s Debuts blog is a place for sharing thoughts on the craft of writing and illustrating, being debuts, and most importantly, helping launch our books into the world. I have since fledged, but it was so helpful, reassuring and fun to be a part of this community of very talented, kind and generous people. Check out the current flock of Emus.



4. Tara Lazar:

Picture book author extraordinaire, and founder of PiBoIdMo (picture book idea month), Tara has also been a generous supporter, not just of me, but for all the pre and published picture book authors and illustrators out there. Thousands of writers participate and are inspired by guest posts during PiBoIdMo, November’s picture book idea challenge. She shares insights on craft, the field of publishing, new books, interviews, giveaways, etc. on her popular blog, Writing for Kids (While Raising Them), throughout the year.

When the news of the Penny & Jelly sale broke, Tara kindly offered to host me of her blog. Later, she invited to be a contributor for PiBoIdMo, and last year she also participated in my blog tour for Penny & Jelly.

5. Kirsten Cappy of Curious City:

Kirsten’s a kidlit marketing guru and owner of Curious City. She was invaluable in sorting through the mire that is promotion.

Kirsten’s clever and creative and had so many wonderful ideas for promoting Penny & Jelly in ways that would be most comfortable for an introvert like me. She designed a Jelly banner with original art from illustrator Thyra Heder for use as a photo booth so kids could “be” Penny and pose with Jelly, as well as gorgeous postcards and business cards.

I especially love the talent show kit for library and classroom use that Kirsten designed. Please feel free to share and use it.

As a picture book writer, you have succeeded in a particularly tough market. What advice do you have for others, hoping to do the same?

1. Write What You Love:

Write what you’re obsessed with. This will help you not only endure the inevitable rejections along the way, but also the winding road of revision.

My debut nonfiction book, Coyote Moon, was released this July. It initially began as an article on suburban coyotes for "Highlights."

Well, "Highlights" rejected it, but I wasn’t ready to let go of my manuscript.

The coyotes kept howling in my head, so it morphed into a poetic picture book.

Several revisions later, it won a Letter of Commendation for a Barbara Karlin grant from SCBWI; many more revisions later, it was acquired by Emily Feinberg at Roaring Brook Press. And I am so in love Bagram Ibatoulline’s illustrations. They are absolutely stunning!

2. Read. Read. Read:

Then read some more. I once read that before attempting to write one picture book, we should first read 1,000. But don’t just read them, see them as teachers, as mentor texts for your own work.

One of the most helpful exercises is to hand-write or type the words of my favorite picture book texts, to feel the rhythm of the and pulse of the story in my fingers, to get under the story’s skin—see its bones or structure and the way the muscles and sinews, rhythm, refrain and repetition, are bound together. Doing this helps us find a story’s heart, its elusive soul and helps us understand our own work.

Consider joining founder Carrie Charley Brown’s ReFoReMo, where picture books are studied as mentor texts. Get ready to dig deep!


3. Don’t Give Up!

Persevere! Keep swimming! Rejection is at the heart of this journey and it’s not usually a linear journey, it’s more circuitous, with ups and downs along the way.

Take it one day, one moment at a time, and celebrate all of your successes, both big and small.

And remember, keep improving your craft, and building your connections, you will get there!

(See #1 again)

4. Play and Experiment:

To find your writing voice, play with different points of view. Change genres. Try out different structural techniques like letters, or a diary format or lists, like I did with Penny & Jelly.

Think about the shape of your story. Is it circular? Could it be a journey? Would a question and answer format enhance it? Does it have a refrain?

I’m not an illustrator, but you can do the same kinds of things to find your visual voice—switch sketching for sewing, or painting for clay. And most of all, embrace your inner kid and have fun!

5. Reach Out:

Connect with your local and online writing community—there are so many valuable resources out there. You’re reading Cynsations, so that’s a great start! If you haven’t already joined SCBWI and found a critique group, that’s a must. As I mentioned above, join Tara Lazar’s PiBoIdMo challenge in November, or Paula Yoo’s NaPiBoWriWee to write a picture book a day, which takes place in May.

There’s a plethora of writing groups on Facebook. One I highly recommend is Kidlit411, co-run by Elaine Kieley Kearns and Sylvia Liu. It’s such a wealth of information for authors and illustrators on writing/illustrating craft, on promotion, on submissions for agents and editors, revision—all kinds of things. And to borrow Jane Yolen’s title, above all, Take Joy!

Cynsational Giveaway


Enter to win an author-signed copy of Penny & Jelly: The School Show and Penny & Jelly: Slumber Under the Stars. Eligibility: U.S. only. From the promotional copy:

This young and funny picture book introduces the soon-to-be star of her school talent show: Penny. Despite her desire to knock everyone's socks off, Penny's having a tough time deciding on what talent she might have. With a little help from her dog, Jelly, Penny tries out various talents—from dancing to unicycling, fashion designing to snake charming—with disastrous results. That is, until she realizes that she and Jelly have a talent to share that's unlike any other.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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17. Just Started Reading... Blackthorn And Grim #2!



With Juliet Marillier's visit coming so soon(start cleaning and dusting the blog residence!) I'm trying to catch up with this wonderful trilogy! I finished Dreamer's Pool last night and have just begun Tower Of Thorns. It's a little shorter, but still plenty to read.



Juliet Marillier makes good use of fairy tales in her fiction. People enjoy figuring out which ones as they read. There were elements of The Goose Girl in Dreamer's Pool, but I haven't read enough of the current book to figure out which, if any, tale is involved here. We'll see. It does have a beginning that reminds me of the Arthurian tales which begin with a damsel arriving at court to ask for help, only instead of a king, there's his son, as the king has gone off South for a meeting at the High King's court, and instead of a brave knight the damsel wants a grumpy wise woman's assistance... The grumpy wise woman being Blackthorn, who is trying to avoid being asked for help because, under the terms  of her agreement with fey nobleman Conmael, she has to give it or risk finding herself back in the dreadful lockup from which he rescued her a year ago.

The covers are beautiful, with dreamy, Pre-Raphaelite style maidens on them. I'm not sure what the connections are to the stories, but authors would kill for such gorgeous covers! People pick those up.



Time to get up, eat and start organising my tax documents... Groan...

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18. Book Sales

There could be many reasons why your book isn't selling as well as you expected it to.

https://warriorwriters.wordpress.com/2016/08/22/why-your-book-isnt-selling/

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19. And the Winner of FULL OF BEANS is...

I'm happy to announce that, according to randomizer, the winner of the hardcover copy of FULL OF BEANS is...





Congratulations, Suzanne! Expect an email from me asking for your mailing address.

*   *   *

Next week, I'll be featuring a review of TIME TRAVELING WITH A HAMSTER by Ross Welford, and the week after, an exclusive Q&A with Ross, and a giveaway!




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20. Presidential Polar Bear Post Card Project No. 240 - 9.26.16


Excited that fall is finally here -- and that the sea ice can begin to freeze again in Arctic waters!

0 Comments on Presidential Polar Bear Post Card Project No. 240 - 9.26.16 as of 9/27/2016 2:25:00 AM
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21. Life After Pixar: An Interview with Brenda Chapman

"Brave" director Brenda Chapman reveals big new plans in an exclusive interview with Cartoon Brew.

The post Life After Pixar: An Interview with Brenda Chapman appeared first on Cartoon Brew.

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22. आस


बस हवाओ से होती रही बातें,
कदम यह ज़मीन में कब रखे,
टकराया धरती से जो एक बार,
मॅन में अल्फ़ाज़ मैने तब रखे

इंद्रधनुष से दिखने वाले है जो,
बेरंग ज़िंदगी का ढंग वो रखे,
बरखा से मिलने जो मैं जाऊं,
जलते सूरज का संग वो रखे,

सपनों की सुंदर, उस नगरी से
कोसो दूर का रिश्ता, वो रखे,
कोई जो जाए, चंदा के पार,
न कोई ऐसा फरिश्ता, वो रखे,

इसलिए बस मौन ही रहता हूँ,
दिल की बात, दिल कब रखे,
हर तरफ है, मुखौटे ही मुखौटे,
दोस्त बनने की चाहत, कब रखे

समंदर से पूछ लेता हूँ अक्सर,
शांति की आस ये मन, कब रखे,
बंद है सब खिड़की और दरवाज़े,
रोशनी की आस ये तन, कब रखे ||

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23. Review of the Day: Cloud and Wallfish by Anne Nesbet

cloud-and-wallfishCloud and Wallfish
By Anne Nesbet
Candlewick Press
$16.99
ISBN: 978-0-7636-8803-5
Ages 9-12
On shelves now

Historical fiction is boring. Right? That’s the common wisdom on the matter, certainly. Take two characters (interesting), give them a problem (interesting), and set them in the past (BOOOOOORING!). And to be fair, there are a LOT of dull-as-dishwater works of historical fiction out there. Books where a kid has to wade through knee-deep descriptions, dates, facts, and superfluous details. But there is pushback against this kind of thinking. Laurie Halse Anderson, for example, likes to call her books (Chains, Forge, Ashes, etc.) “historical thrillers”. People are setting their books in unique historical time periods. And finally (and perhaps most importantly) we’re seeing a lot more works of historical fiction that are truly fun to read. Books like The War That Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley, or One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia, or My Near-Death Adventures by Alison DeCamp, or ALL of Louise Erdrich’s titles for kids. Better add Cloud and Wallfish by Anne Nesbet to that list as well. Doing what I can only characterize as the impossible, Nesbet somehow manages to bring East Germany in 1989 to full-blown, fascinating life. Maybe you wouldn’t want to live there, but it’s certainly worth a trip.

His name is Noah. Was Noah. It’s like this, one minute you’re just living your life, normal as you please, and the next your parents have informed you that your name is a lie, your birth date is wrong, and you’re moving to East Berlin. The year is 1989 and as Noah (now Jonah)’s father would say, there’s a definite smell of history in the air. His mother has moved the family to this new city as part of her research into education and stuttering (an impediment that Noah shares) for six months. But finding himself unable to attend school in a world so unlike the one he just left, the boy is lonely. That’s why he’s so grateful when the girl below his apartment, Claudia, befriends him. But there are secrets surrounding these new friends. How did Claudia’s parents recently die? Why are Noah’s parents being so mysterious? And what is going on in Germany? With an Iron Curtain shuddering on its foundations, Noah’s not just going to smell that history in the air. He’s going to live it, and he’s going to get a friend out of the bargain as well.

It was a bit of a risk on Nesbet’s part to begin the book by introducing us to Noah’s parents right off the bat as weirdly suspicious people. It may take Noah half a book to create a mental file on his mom, but those of us not related to the woman are starting our own much sooner. Say, from the minute we meet her. It was very interesting to watch his parents upend their son’s world and then win back his trust by dint of their location as well as their charm and evident love. It almost reads like a dare from one author to another. “I bet you can’t make a reader deeply distrust a character’s parents right from the start, then make you trust them again, then leave them sort of lost in a moral sea of gray, but still likable!” Challenge accepted!

Spoiler Alert on This Paragraph (feel free to skip it if you like surprises): Noah’s mom is probably the most interesting parent you’ll encounter in a children’s book in a long time. By the time the book is over you know several things. 1. She definitely loves Noah. 2. She’s also using his disability to further her undercover activities, just as he fears. 3. She incredibly frightening. The kind of person you wouldn’t want to cross. She and her husband are utterly charming but you get the distinct feeling that Noah’s preternatural ability to put the puzzle pieces of his life together is as much nature as it is nurture. Coming to the end of the book you see that Noah has sent Claudia postcards over the years from places all over the world. Never Virginia. One could read that a lot of different ways but I read it as his mother dragging him along with her from country to country. There may never be a “home” for Noah now. But she loves him, right? I foresee a lot of really interesting bookclub discussions about the ending of this book, to say nothing about how we should view his parents.

As I mentioned before, historical fiction that’s actually interesting can be difficult to create. And since 1989 is clear-cut historical fiction (this is the second time a character from the past shared my birth year in a children’s book . . . *shudder*) Nesbet utilizes several expository techniques to keep young readers (and, let’s face it, a lot of adult readers) updated on what precisely is going on. From page ten onward a series of “Secret Files” boxes will pop up within the text to give readers the low-down. These are written in a catchy, engaging style directly to the reader, suggesting that they are from the point of view of an omniscient narrator who knows the past, the future, and the innermost thoughts of the characters. So in addition to the story, which wraps you in lies and half-truths right from the start to get you interested, you have these little boxes of explanation, giving you information the characters often do not have. Some of these Secret Files are more interesting than others, but as with the Moby Dick portions in Louis Sachar’s The Cardturner, readers can choose to skip them if they so desire. They should be wary, though. A lot of pertinent information is sequestered in these little boxes. I wouldn’t cut out one of them for all the wide wide world.

Another way Nesbet keeps everything interesting is with her attention to detail. The author that knows the minutia of their fictional world is an author who can convince readers that it exists. Nesbet does this by including lots of tiny details few Americans have ever known. The pirated version of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz that was disseminated for years throughout the German Democratic Republic? I had no idea. The listing of television programs available there? Very funny (did I mention the book is funny too?). Even the food you could get in the grocery store and the smell of the coal-choked air feels authentic.

Of course, you can load your book down with cute boxes and details all day and still lose a reader if they don’t relate to the characters. Noah could easily be reduced to one of those blank slate narrators who go through a book without a clear cut personality. I’m happy to report that this isn’t the case here. And I appreciated the Claudia was never a straight victim or one of those characters that appears impervious to the pain in her life. Similarly, Noah is a stutterer but the book never throws the two-dimensional bully in his path. His challenges are all very strange and unique to his location. I was also impressed by how Nesbet dealt with Claudia’s German (she makes up words or comes up with some Noah has never heard of and so Nesbet has the unenviable job of making that clear on the page). By the same token, Noah has a severe stutter, but having read the whole book I’m pretty sure Nesbet only spells the stutter out on the page once. For every other time we’re told about it after the fact or as it is happening.

I’ve said all this without, somehow, mentioning how lovely Nesbet’s writing is. The degree to which she’s willing to go deep into her material, plucking out the elements that will resonate the most with her young readers, is masterful. Consider a section that explains what it feels like to play the role of yourself in your own life. “This is true even for people who aren’t crossing borders or dealing with police. Many people in middle school, for instance, are pretending to be who they actually are. A lot of bad acting is involved.” Descriptions are delicious as well. When Claudia comes over for dinner after hearing about the death of her parents Nesbet writes, “Underneath the bristles, Noah could tell, lurked a squishy heap of misery.”

There’s little room for nuance in Nesbet’s Berlin, that’s for sure. The East Berliners we meet are either frightened, in charge, or actively rebelling. In her Author’s Note, Nesbet writes about her time in the German Democratic Republic in early 1989, noting where a lot of the details of the book came from. She also mentions the wonderful friends she had there at that time. Noah, by the very plot in which he finds himself, would not be able to meet these wonderful people. As such, he has a black-and-white view of life in East Berlin. And it’s interesting to note that when his classmates talk up the wonders of their society, he never wonders if anything they tell him is true. Is everyone employed? At what price? There is good and bad and if there is nuance it is mostly found in the characters like Noah’s mother. Nesbet herself leaves readers with some very wise words in her Author’s Note when she says to child readers, “Truth and fiction are tangled together in everything human beings do and in every story they tell. Whenever a book claims to be telling the truth, it is wise (as Noah’s mother says at one point) to keep asking questions.” I would have liked a little more gray in the story, but I can hardly think of a better lesson to impart to children in our current day and age.

In many way, the book this reminded me of the most was Katherine Paterson’s Bridge to Terabithia. Think about it. A boy desperate for a friend meets an out-of-the-box kind of girl. They invent a fantasyland together that’s across a distinct border (in this book Claudia imagines it’s just beyond the Wall). Paterson’s book was a meditation on friendship, just like Nesbet’s. Yet there is so much more going on here. There are serious thoughts about surveillance (something kids have to think about a lot more today), fear, revolution, loyalty, and more than all this, what you have to do to keep yourself sane in a world where things are going mad. Alice Through the Looking Glass is referenced repeatedly, and not by accident. Noah has found himself in a world where the rules he grew up with have changed. As a result he must cling to what he knows to be true. Fortunately, he has a smart author to help him along the way. Anne Nesbet always calls Noah by his own name, even when her characters don’t. He is always Noah to us and to himself. That he finds himself in one of the most interesting and readable historical novels written for kids is no small thing. Nesbet outdoes herself. Kids are the beneficiaries.

On shelves now.

Source: Galley sent from publisher for review.

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24. Juncture Workshops: One Final Spot Left in Cape May, NJ



We may still be riding the waves of our Field Notes memoir workshop but we're also eagerly anticipating our time by the Jersey shore, this coming November.

We have one spot left in this gorgeous painted lady.

Write to us here, if you have interest.

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25. जिंदगी का सच – दोहरी जिंदगी

जिंदगी का फलसफा दोहरी जिंदगी जीते और जिंदगी का सच निगलते हम लोग .. ये एक ऐसा कडवा सच है जिसे आप और हम जी रहे हैंं. जिंदगी का सफर जिंदगी का सच यही है कि वाकई, हम दोहरी जिंदगी जीने लगें हैं एक सोशल मीडिया पर दूसरी असल जिंदगी में. कुछ दिन पहले मेरा […]

The post जिंदगी का सच – दोहरी जिंदगी appeared first on Monica Gupta.

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