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1. All About Jungle Book

So the show we weren't even planning on doing--ended up being our favorite this year!


In fact, so few people were signed up to audition for Jungle Book that there was a lot of talk about it being canceled. A lot of kids simply weren't excited about the show. It was not the Disney version but an unimpressive homegrown effort which some of us had seen performed a few years ago. Even though we were told that the script and songs had been strengthened, it was hard to imagine that it could be improved THAT much. So a lot of regulars were simply planning a break. 

Then they announced the directing team--a group of really strong, positive, talented, encouraging and well-liked individuals--and that got everybody re-thinking. And then all these new families signed up, and what a shame it would be if the show they were signing up for was CANCELED! The re-thinking continued...and on audition day, we had enough kids signed up--although it would be a very small, very young cast.

So we weren't surprised to see Bantam16's name at the top of the cast list--he would be playing Older Mowgli, in the second act. Then Younger Mowgli's name was listed...and then Bagheera, the black panther had next-nearest-the-top billing. To our shock and delight, Chicklet12's name was listed there! What?! Further down, we found Bantam10's name with the other Monkeys--an energetic group for sure. No surprise there!

But Bagheera? Chicket? A 12-year-old? Could she pull it off? Could she convey the authority, the gravitas, the parental concern for Mowgli, the prophetic vision for his life? Especially with the obstacle of Baloo the Bear, played by an older teenage boy, always trying to get Bagheera to lighten up? 

And could she memorize all those lines?? This role was intense!

[Warning: Super-proud mommy moments ahead] 

But she did it! She totally pulled it off. She seemed years older on stage. She bossed Baloo around and earnestly exhorted the Younger Mowgli. She and the Older Mowgli had a showdown of wills in Act Two, and she and her brother argued vehemently, passionately and most convincingly. By the final performance, you could hear a new maturity in her voice. You could observe great confidence in her movements, which had an elegance and a nobility that suited a black panther. She gave a performance which was excellent in itself, but especially so because most people would never have guessed she was only 12! She was amazing.

Click to zoom in for a good look at her metallic false lashes! Photo credit:  Dave Fricke
B16 was equally as solid. Not only was he totally a good sport about wearing nothing but a red velvet diaper and a spray tan onstage, but he worked hard to identify with his character, and his analysis was even quoted in the newspaper:  "A fun thing about playing him is that he is trying to fit in somewhere: he doesn't know if he belongs in the jungle or the village. It relates to teenagers' lives as they try to fit into cliques. I get into [the singing] and I feel the emotions." And he made the audience feel the emotions too. His duet with Anjali, the village girl, was possibly the most beautiful moment of the show. Our Anjali completely lost her voice for one of our performances, so the directors asked B16 to change the pronouns and sing her verse as well as his own, and they recognized him with a Best Actor award at our strike party for his directability--the way he was able to take all their notes and implement them, even when all 4 of them threw something like that at him an hour before show time!

Photo by Papa Rooster
B10 also did us proud! I knew something was up when he came home after a couple rehearsals and announced that this was probably going to be his new favorite show. He had never changed his favorite show before--it has always been the first one he did (Aladdin)--and the reason he gave was that he LOVED his part! Then I heard from his brother and sister that he was really, really good at being a Monkey. Huh, I thought.

At the first dress rehearsal, I understood. B10, you may know, has SO. MUCH. ENERGY. And this role was perfect for him. He was over-the-top in every move he made. If the Monkeys had a step in their dance, B10 turned it in to a leap. If they spun around, he jumped high in the air as he spun. (I asked the choreographer if she cared if he was the spastic monkey of the group and she said she loved it!) These Monkey were screamers (kind of a high hooting scream that really did sound monkey-like), and he loved screaming most often and most loudly. He was constantly in movement onstage, pushing and getting pushed around, often rolling underfoot of others onstage, surprisingly never getting hurt or tripping someone. He did something new every time, always in character. He was just so much fun to watch! (And he told everyone that he had enjoyed it because "I just got to be myself!")

Photo by Papa Rooster
But there was something about this show. It just seemed God's hand was on it! Here's what I wrote on our theater group's Facebook page, on the morning of our final performance:

Now glory be to God, who by his mighty power at work within us is able to do far more than we would ever dare to ask or even dream of—infinitely beyond our highest prayers, desires, thoughts, or hopes. (Ephesians 3:20)

Is anybody else just basking in the GENEROSITY of God today? I think a lot of us had low expectations for this show--we barely had enough people to pull it off! Remember it almost got canceled?? Then God sent us all these new families, and a great directing team, and who knew what the final product would look like, but hey, at least our kids were having fun, right?

I got to watch the show last night, and I was blown away by how good it was! I saw so many courageous choices by very young, very new actors, and by those who've never had lines or a lead before. I saw expressive and committed dancing and singing. I saw a really good story unfold, beautifully and believably. I give our directing team so much credit, but ultimately they can't take it beyond what each member of the cast is willing to put out there, and that's what took the show a step beyond what I could have imagined! Each cast member was focused and committed to every word, every step, every gesture. There was an intensity to the performance that I didn't expect with such a young and relatively inexperienced cast!*

[*Found out later that over half our cast members had never been in a Spotlight show before or had only been in one; 25% of our cast were 8- and 9-year-olds. Over half of the leads had never had a leading role before.)

I have to believe that it was God's mighty power at work within each of our kids that enabled them to push beyond their comfort zone with such courage. I believe God's power was at work to pull in all the new parents and make them part of things so readily! Thinking back to the prayers we prayed on Friday nights during rehearsals, God has answered so many of them--so generously. Why do we so often think of God as withholding? He loves to answer our prayers above and beyond what we can think to ask! Thank you, Lord!

I do wonder about the effect of our Friday night prayer times, which I felt strongly led by God to start this session. If our family isn't back in Kenosha in the fall (since I might end up on a directing team in another area), I hope and believe it will continue! There was just something special about this show, something beyond human relationships. God was at work, and I'm so excited to see what He will continue to do in Spotlight Kenosha!


Mowgli and Anjali play jumprope with the monkeys! (Photo credit:  Papa )

Indignant and upset with his sister Bagheera (Photo credit:  Papa R)
Solo time
(Photo credit:  Papa R)

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2. Sparky! by Jenny Offill



A little girl wants a pet, but her mother says she can only get a pet that doesn't need to be "walked, bathed or fed." After a visit to the library, she picks out the perfect pet from a book: a sloth. She orders one through the mail and Sparky as she calls him, lives up to his reputation as a lay about. The girl is determined to interact with him, but the only game he plays successfully is Statue. She tries one last time to impress her friend by putting on a show of sloth pet tricks. Once again, Sparky refuses to do anything. In the end, she learns to appreciate the sloth's slow companionship. This is a quiet book (as one might expect of a sloth), but the illustrations are cute and the underlying message of appreciating the low-key is a nice one. Winner of the Charlotte Zolotow award.

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3. New York Poetry Festival Featured On Kickstarter

The Poetry Society of New York, the producers behind the 5th annual New York City Poetry Festival, have raised more than $12,000 on Kickstarter.

The funds will be used to cover the costs of hosting this year’s event. We’ve embedded a video about the project above.

Here’s more from the Kickstarter page: “This year we will welcome back more than 75 New York City poetry groups, including venerable institutions, upstarts, small presses, local reading series, literary journals, high school poetry teams, and more to The Festival’s three stages. If year’s past are any indication, over 250 poets will present, and we’ve already booked some incredible headliners: Nick Flynn, Patricia Spears Jones, David Matlin, and Fran Quinn!”

Welcome to our Kickstarter Publishing Project of the Week, a feature exploring how authors and publishers are using the fundraising site to raise money for book projects. If you want to start your own project, check out How To Use Kickstarter to Fund Your Publishing Project.

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4. Review for Anthony Ant Goes To Egypt by Julie Bettendorf


Anthony Ant Goes To Egypt




Summary:
Anthony Ant knows how to travel in style—since he’s so small, he can go just about anywhere, unnoticed! This time, he curls up in a suitcase and gets out in Egypt, ready for the fabulous adventure of a lifetime. Anthony Ant is in Cairo, Egypt…and luckily he meets an expert tour guide, Babu Beetle. Together they explore Egypt’s history, culture, and food, with adventures including a camel ride, and a visit to the famous pyramids…and more! The second book in the Anthony Ant series continues to introduce kids to the excitement of world travel, with an enjoyable companion who is ready to share his experiences.





Author Bio:
Julie Bettendorf is a world traveler with a background in history and a degree in archaeology. Through her series of children's travel books, she shares the wonderful world of travel with children and her parents, as Anthony Ant teaches kids about other cultures, customs, and traditions. She has currently published the second book in the Anthony Ant series, and is in the process of publishing her first work of adult historical fiction, entitled "Luxor: Book of Past Lives." When Julie is not traveling with her daughter Erin, and son Max, she lives in Portland, Oregon.

Please visit Anthony's website http://www.anthonystravels.com/ for more information about Anthony's books.


Review:
Anthony Ant Goes To Egypt is a delightful tale of an ant who travels to Egypt for a vacation. Once there he learns about Cairo, Egypt's capital. He also learns about the kinds of foods that are eaten in Egypt, like pita bread. At a cafe, Anthony meets a beetle named Babu who shows him all around Egypt. They ride a camel, see a pyramid and some statues. They also go to a bazaar to see what is for sale. Babu recommends going to the museum, which ends up being a special trip the pair will treasure for ever. 

This story has colorful illustrations that will capture the reader's eye. The reader will also learn about Egypt's history and culture. This 31 page picture book, written in rhyme, will delight children from 5-10 years of age.  Many readers will look forward to Anthony Ant's next adventure. 

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5. The Voice Coaches Compose Acrostic Poems

Have you ever composed an acrostic poem? The process involves taking the first letter of a word and spelling out new words to form a cohesive piece. The video embedded above showcases the four superstar coaches of The Voice dabbling in this art form.

Christina Aguilera and Adam Levine of Maroon 5 wrote pieces for the other. Blake Shelton and Pharrell Williams paired off to produce pieces about one another. What do you think?

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6. Ransmayr revival ?

       In the 1990s three works by Christoph Ransmayr came out in English -- all in John E. Woods' translation, which already says something -- but Grove Press notoriously overpaid for The Last World (it actually still sputters on in print just fine for a literary title, but it never came anywhere close to the advance-justifying blockbuster-sales-level) and even if that wasn't the last of the three, that seemed to signal a close to death-knell for the author in English. He shared the Aristeion Prize with Salman Rushdie in 1996 (the year before the prize went to future Nobel laureate Herta Müller; the year after, to Antonio Tabucchi, for his Sostiene Pereira ...), but, despite solid reviews, little more was heard from him in English.
       It shouldn't surprise that now, with a new title finally due out -- Atlas of an Anxious Man -- it's Seagull Books that is trying to bring him back to US/UK-attention; see their publicity page, or pre-order your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk -- taking the kind of risks/challenges that none of the big US/UK houses seem to be willing to any longer (when it comes to literature in translation).
       Meanwhile, it's just out in French -- and in L'Express Jérôme Dupuis says: let's face it, "Christoph Ransmayr est un très grand écrivain".

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7. Orion Book Award Finalists Revealed

Orion, the bimonthly magazine that publishes writing that explores the connection between nature and culture, has revealed the finalists for the 2015 Orion Book Award.

The books were chosen based on their ability to “deepen the reader’s connection to the natural world through fresh ideas and excellence in writing.” Five fiction finalists and five nonfiction finalists were selected.

The five fiction finalists for the 2015 Orion Book Award are: “The Bees” by Laline Paull (Ecco); “Divine Animal” by Scott Russell Sanders (Earth Works Publishing); “Invisible Beasts” by Sharona Muir (Bellevue Literary Press); “The Land of Love and Drowning” by Tiphanie Yanique (Riverhead Books); and “Long Man” by Amy Greene (Alfred A. Knopf).

The five nonfiction finalists include: “A Country Called Childhood” by Jay Griffiths (Counterpoint); “Feral” by George Monbiot (The University of Chicago Press); “The Sixth Extinction” by Elizabeth Kolbert (Henry Holt and Company); “Windfall” by McKenzie Funk (The Penguin Press); and “Zoologies” by Alison Hawthorne Deming (Milkweed Editions).

The winners will be announced in the second week of June.

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8. A Conference That Can Really Make a Difference

What: NF 4 NF Nonfiction for New Folks Writer’s Conference
When: September 17 – 20, 2015
Where: Rosenberg, Texas

If you are looking for a writing conference that focuses solely on nonfiction, is sure to boost your writing to the next level, and will connect you with dozens of other like-minded writers, then you've found it. Nonfiction 4 New Folks is the creation of author Pat Miller who knows what a writer needs - encouraging mentors, an intimate setting so you don't get lost in the crowd, and tons of useful information.

There is an awesome faculty line-up -- Melissa Stewart, Candace Fleming, Karen Blumenthal, and Nancy Sanders. and I will be there too!

The conference is limited to just 40 attendees so there will be a lot of opportunities to ask questions and get the help you need.

The schedule is jam-packed with opportunity to hone your craft and learn all about writing nonfiction. I’ll be talking about research techniques and how to write for magazines.

Sign up now and get a manuscript critique. Slots are filling up fast!




CLICK HERE to register today!

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9. Max & Shred Boys

MAX AND SHRED Meet JOHNNY GRAY and JAKE GOODMAN from Max & Shred!

Q: Which character are you more like in real life, either Max or Shred?
Johnny: Honestly, I do find myself a lot like my character, Max. He’s a very athletic person and I play a lot of sports. He’s a very charming person and I’ve been told that I’m very charming in interviews. He’s a really enthusiastic and upbeat person and I’m a really high-energy person as well, which really helps me playing the character. And he’s a really physical person. I use a lot of my physical presence when I’m speaking as well. I’m not like Max intelligence-wise. I do very well in school and I always strive for good grades. Max, he kind of struggles in that field of education but he’s a socially smart person, not really a book smart person. I use a lot of the same terminology as he does, like “bro” and “sick.”
Jake: I have a very good time playing Shred, but I think I’m actually like a mix of them. I have some Max and some Alvin traits. I guess probably slightly more Max maybe, but I’m very, very like both of them. I have lots of friends. I kind of like school, but not as much as Alvin and I don’t do science experiments at home. I think I’m a mix of the two.

Q: Why did Max give Alvin the nickname “Shred”?
Jake: In the pilot episode, Alvin is making fun of Max in his bedroom alone. He puts on a Max wig and his helmet and is all dressed in his snowboarding stuff and is just making fun of Max. And Max’s snowboarding agent comes into the house and sees Alvin. Since he’s all dressed up like Max, he thinks that Alvin is Max and he takes him snowboarding to a mountain and it’s in front of a bunch of people and it’s, you know, televised nationally. Alvin, who has never snowboarded before, has to go down this hill and do all these crazy tricks and do a 50-foot jump at the end, which is crazy. So Alvin ends up having to go because, you know, everyone’s watching him and he can’t just leave. Everyone thinks he’s Max. So he ends up going down the hill and his tricks are all wobbly and really bad and he just happens to land all of them. In the last scene when Alvin is in the hospital, Max comes to visit him, and they have their first moment really as friends and Max is like, “Wow, you shredded up that mountain so well. I’m going to call you Shred.” It’s a special thing between the two of them and only Max calls him that.

Q: How long have you been snowboarding?
Jake: 
I think this past winter was my third season. Johnny’s been snowboarding for way longer.
Johnny: I’ve been snowboarding for six years now. Hitting rails is really awesome. I might come up to a rail riding fakie and then I’ll hop up onto it and just board slide. That’s my starter move. It’s just easy for me and it’s a satisfying move, or maybe doing, like, a blunt slide on a rail.

What is your most embarrassing moment?
Johnny: I ripped my pants once in gym class. It was a grade 8 dance unit, and I forgot all my attire. So I’m up there in skinny jeans and we had to do this, like, wheelbarrow move, and, yeah, I completely ripped my pants and I was extremely embarrassed. It was really funny, but funny for everybody else.
Jake: 
First recess, first day, grade 2, got pantsed. I don’t even remember if I got pantsed or if they just fell down. But I mean that’s so embarrassing, right? First day, grade 2, I didn’t know many people. Yeah.

Q: How do you balance being a celebrity with a typical young boy life?
Jake: 
Honestly, just like every other kid, Monday to Friday when I’m not filming, I go to school. You know, I do all my school work. I do all that normal kid stuff. I’m very lucky, but I don’t feel like a celebrity. I do all that normal kid stuff honestly and then, you know, when I go to the Kids’ Choice Awards it’s so cool because it’s in L.A. But I don’t even feel like I have to make an effort to balance being on a show and being a 12-year-old boy.

What books would you recommend to a friend?
Johnny: The first book that probably made me want to read more is reading the Hunger Games series (for ages 12 and up). I love that series and I really got into them. I read them all within like a month and I usually don’t do that. And then it made me go read more. Like right after that I started reading Maze Runner (for ages 12 and up) and that was a really amazing book.
Jake: 
Classics like Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit I guess. They’d be the best ones. If you haven’t read the books, they’re very good. That’s what I would say because lots of people have seen the movies, but it’s an amazing story. That’s my all-time favorite book.

Do you have any pets?
Jake: 
I do. She’s sleeping next to me right now. Her name’s Daisy. She’s a dog. She’s called a Ganaraskan. It’s a mix between a poodle, a schnauzer, a Cocker Spaniel and a Bichon Frise. She’s very cute. Sometimes she’ll see her tail and just start running in circles. I know lots of dogs do it but honestly it’s so funny when she’s just basically like playing tag with her tail and no matter how fast she runs her tail’s going to be faster because it’s on her body. But that’s just funny when you’re just relaxing and all the sudden your dog is having a seizure chasing her tail.
Johnny: My favorite episode is the episode where I get a dog. I really love that episode because I’m a dog, animal fanatic. I actually have five dogs in my family, so I love dogs. We have a Boston Terrier. His name’s Maverick. I have a French Bulldog named Lola, I have a German Shorthaired Pointer named Violet, a Great Dane named Maggie, and a – who am I missing – oh, and a Schnoodle named Holly. They’re amazing. I love them. They’re all really friendly and they’re all pack dogs. But we live on a farm, right? So they can burn most energy when we go for really long walks. They can just rip around and then they come back in and they sleep.
Do you have a pet?

If you were going to star in a biopic about an athlete, what athlete would it be?
Johnny: I was thinking about a hockey player but at the same time, I think it would be really awesome to play some kind of football star, like some running back because when I played football I played running back. I love Marshawn Lynch. Seattle Seahawks are my favorite team, and he’s an absolute animal on the field. I just love his style.

Q: If you hadn’t chosen acting, what job do you think you would be working towards?
Jake: I don’t even know if I want to be an actor when I grow up. I’m open to lots of things. You know, I go through phases. Like, I’ll do a month of being really into something and then the next month I’ll be really into something else, and then eventually I’ll go back to that something that I was doing the first month. I just have lots of different interests that I pick up and drop. Something might come up and that might stick around. Right now I’m into learning different programming languages, which is fun. So, you know, there are lots of things and I honestly don’t know what I’ll do as a career.

What is one thing you think could help make the world a better place?
Jake: I’m a very environmentally friendly person. Our geography teacher at school always talks to us about that stuff. You know, I don’t use plastic water bottles. I have a reusable water bottle. I have a lunch box. I don’t have a plastic bag for a lunch bag. I don’t litter, obviously.
Johnny: Wow. I’ve never actually put any thought into something like that. But, I don’t know, like, some kind of technological advancement, like a different way we could filter energy instead of depleting our world’s resources. So, you know, cars can now run on . . . blahbity blah or like, “We’ve now figured out a way to create fresh water just by like putting these two kind of chemicals or elements together.” Something like that would be mass-changing for the world. It’s a great question. That’s the best question I think I’ve actually ever been asked.

Interview by Marie Morreale
Image courtesy Nickelodeon

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10. Three Day Weekend

For those who work, a three day weekend
Feels like a reward,
The culmination of a goal
That they’ve been working toward.

It’s just one extra day and yet,
It feels like so much more,
A chance to catch up on the things
On workdays, they’d ignore.

But even for the unemployed
And, too, retirees,
A holiday on Monday
Somehow really seems to please.

So happy weekend, one and all;
Enjoy this little break.
Forgetting why the day is free, though,
Would be a mistake.

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11. Children’s Book Wins Australian Book Awards Book of the Year

“The 52-Storey Treehouse” by Andy Griffiths and illustrated by Terry Denton has won book of the year at the 2015 Australian Book Industry Awards. The book’s publisher, Macmillan Pan Macmillan Australia, won the publisher of the year.

The book follows the adventures of two the two creators as they try to build a massive tree house. Here is more from the book’s description:

Andy and Terry’s incredible, ever-expanding treehouse has 13 new storeys, including a watermelon-smashing level, a wave machine, a life-size snakes and ladders game (with real ladders and real snakes), a rocket-powered carrot-launcher, a Ninja Snail Training Academy and a high-tech detective agency with all the latest high-tech detective technology, which is lucky because they have a BIG mystery to solve – where is Mr Big Nose???

“Lost & Found” by Brooke Davis won the award for best general fiction book. “Foreign Soil” by Maxine Beneba Clarke won the award for best literary fiction book. “Where Song Began” by Tim Low won the prize for best general nonfiction book of the year.

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12. Awards and School Visits

If your book receives awards, will that increase your school visit invitations?

http://coolschoolvisits.com/2015/04/30/will-awards-net-you-more-author-visit-invitations/

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13. DARK HORSE ANNOUNCES PHOENIX COMICON 2015 SIGNING & PANEL SCHEDULE






CORRECTION: DARK HORSE ANNOUNCES PHOENIX COMICON 2015 SIGNING & PANEL SCHEDULE


CORRECTION: A previous version of this release did not mention the Dark Horse booth number (#7052). This has been corrected in the new text. Apologies for the inconvenience.
Visit Dark Horse Comics at Phoenix Comicon at booth #7052 for free swag, such as comics, buttons, posters, and more! Check out our show exclusives, signings, and panels, too!
PHOENIX COMICON EXCLUSIVE
Archie vs. Predator #1 Phoenix Comicon exclusive variant cover by Darick Robertson (500 copies).
A set quantity will be available at opening each day of the show. Limit of 5 per person per day while supplies last. Each comic is $5.00.
We’ll also have a variety of Dark Horse comics, graphic novels, art books, and collectibles for sale in our booth.
SIGNING SCHEDULE
All creators signing in our booth offer their autographs for FREE. FREE prints, comics, or posters are provided for signings (while supplies last). You may purchase or bring items to be signed; however, we may restrict the type or number of items to be signed as necessary. Please note that some of the titles listed below have not been released for sale yet—in those cases, special prints will be available.
Lines may also be closed for some signings due to crowding or time restrictions.
All events are subject to change. Some restrictions apply. Please ask the Dark Horse Comics staff if you have questions.
THURSDAY, MAY 28
5:00 p.m.–5:50 p.m. ARCHIE VS. PREDATOR, GRINDHOUSE: Alex de Campi
Archie vs. Predator #1 Phoenix Comicon exclusive variant cover by Darick Robertson available for purchase.
7:00 p.m.–7:50 p.m. MIDNIGHT SOCIETY: Drew Edward Johnson
FRIDAY, MAY 29
11:00 a.m.–11:50 a.m.  MIDNIGHT SOCIETY: Drew Edward Johnson
2:00 p.m.–2:50 p.m. THIS DAMNED BAND: Paul Cornell, Tony Parker
3:00 p.m.–3:50 p.m. TWO BROTHERS, DE:TALES, PIXU, THE UMBRELLA ACADEMY: Gabriel Bá, Fábio Moon
4:00 p.m.–4:50 p.m. EI8HT, X, B.P.R.D. HELL ON EARTH: Rafael Albuquerque
5:00 p.m.–5:50 p.m. GRINDHOUSE, ARCHIE VS. PREDATOR: Alex de Campi
Archie vs. Predator #1 Phoenix Comicon exclusive variant cover by Darick Robertson available for purchase.
SATURDAY, MAY 30
11:00 a.m.–11:50 a.m. TWO BROTHERS, DE:TALES, PIXU, THE UMBRELLA ACADEMY: Gabriel Bá, Fábio Moon
12:00 p.m.–12:50 p.m. ARCHIE VS. PREDATOR, GRINDHOUSE: Alex de Campi
Archie vs. Predator #1 Phoenix Comicon exclusive variant cover by Darick Robertson available for purchase.
1:00 p.m.–1:50 p.m. MASS EFFECT, X: Tony Parker
2:00 p.m.–2:50 p.m. THIS DAMNED BAND: Paul Cornell, Tony Parker
3:00 p.m.–3:50 p.m. EI8HT, X, B.P.R.D. HELL ON EARTH: Rafael Albuquerque
4:00 p.m.–4:50 p.m. MIDNIGHT SOCIETY: Drew Edward Johnson
SUNDAY, MAY 31
11:00 a.m.–11:50 a.m.  THIS DAMNED BAND: Paul Cornell, Tony Parker
12:00 p.m.–12:50 p.m.  MIDNIGHT SOCIETY: Drew Edward Johnson
1:00 p.m.–1:50 p.m.  EI8HT, X, B.P.R.D. HELL ON EARTH: Rafael Albuquerque
2:00 p.m.–2:50 p.m. GRINDHOUSE, ARCHIE VS. PREDATOR: Alex de Campi
Archie vs. Predator #1 Phoenix Comicon exclusive variant cover by Darick Robertson available for purchase.
PANEL SCHEDULE
Please join us at the panels below, brought to you by Dark Horse Comics and friends! Please visit http://www.phoenixcomicon.com/programming for more panels featuring Dark Horse creators, as well as guidelines for attending panels.
FRIDAY, MAY 29
12:00 p.m.–1:00 p.m.  North 121  Dark Horse Comics!
For years, Dark Horse has brought the creations of the most talented creators in the comics industry to the stands—and now’s your chance to jump onboard! Join Dark Horse PR coordinator Steve Sunu as he heads up a panel of Dark Horse’s incredible creative talent, including Rafael Albuquerque (EI8HT), Paul Cornell (This Damned Band), Alex de Campi (Archie vs. Predator, Grindhouse), and more!
1:30 p.m.–2:30 p.m. North 121 Spotlight: Gabriel Bá and Fábio Moon
From The Umbrella Academy and Casanova to Daytripper and De:Tales, Eisner Award–winning duo Gabriel Bá and Fábio Moon are two creators at the forefront of innovation in comics and graphic novels. With their newest anticipated graphic novel, Two Brothers, coming soon, join the twin brothers for a special spotlight panel discussing their careers, the joy of creating comics, developing Two Brothers following their incredible success with Daytripper, and much more.

SATURDAY, MAY 30
1:30 p.m.–2:30 p.m. North 122 Spotlight: Rafael Albuquerque
Rafael Albuquerque is the Eisner and Harvey Award–winning co-creator of Crimeland, Mondo Urbano, and the New York Times best-selling series American Vampire (written by Scott Snyder and Stephen King). Come find out what Rafael is up to next!

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14. First Look: Fox’s ‘Golan the Insatiable’

The new primetime series produced by Augenblick Studios will debut on May 31st.

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15. picture book work-along intensive may 25-27

Hello, hello! Over on Facebook a few friends and I have put together an event, a Picture Book Work-Along Intensive, May 25-27 (that's this coming Monday through Wednesday), designed to be a look at current picture books -- what makes them tick? What makes them sell? What makes them work for kids? Or not.



 

If you're not on FB, no worries. Comment and work-along right here on the blog. I'll be summarizing each day's activity in a blog post, so you'll still be able to participate. Suggest titles, tell us what you think, tell us what works for you and your young readers! We're not interested in bashing books in public; we're interested in WHAT WORKS. That's where we'll focus.

We are inviting everyone -- reader, writer, illustrator, parent, grandparent, teacher, whoever you are, if you are interested in picture books, this is for you. We're encouraging your participation and your thoughts and comments and questions and opinions -- we want to learn. We are not teachers in this Intensive, we are all learners.

Any current (or classic) picture books you want to talk about are fair game. For organizational purposes, we are pulling from the following lists, and we have picked up almost all titles from our local libraries:

The Golden Age of Picture Books, an ABPA Panel, at Publisher's Weekly.

Creative Courage for Young Hearts: 15 Emboldening Picture Books Celebrating the Lives of Great Artists, Writers, and Scientists at Brain Pickings.

29 Ridiculously Wonderful New Books to Read With Kids. At BuzzFeed

25 Ridiculously Wonderful Books to Read With Kids in 2015. Also at BuzzFeed but a different list.

The Ezra Jack Keats Award winners 2015.

Participants are already suggesting books not on this list. Here are a few: SIDEWALK FLOWERS; THE OCTOPUPPY; THE CASE FOR LOVING; CHASING FREEDOM; THE BEAR ATE YOUR SANDWICH; SUPERTRUCK. Check the FB event page for particulars on books as well as details about the Intensive. This Facebook page is open to everyone, even those not on FB.

Hope to see you there. This is a drop-in when you can, stay as you like, contribute your thoughts, let's enlighten one another workshop. We're going to be WRITING as well, when you're not hearing from us online. We want to learn, and we want to write picture books. Moderators are moi, Jane Kurtz, Dian Curtis Regan, and Laurel Snyder. Janie and I will be together in person those three days, and we've got 72 books on my coffee table right now, from the Gwinnett County and the DeKalb County Library systems, ready to go. Join us!

xoxo Debbie


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16. Coe on Kundera

       With Milan Kundera's most recent work of fiction, The Festival of Insignificance, due out in English shortly -- see the Faber publicity page, or pre-order your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk -- Jonathan Coe considers How important is Milan Kundera today ? in The Guardian.
       Interesting that he doesn't bring up Kundera's language-switch -- from Czech to French (this, like his other recent novels was written in French; the popular stuff was written in Czech).
       I haven't seen this one, but he still seems a significant author -- and, of course, still has acolytes (Adam Thirlwell et al.).

       Only two of his books are under review at the complete review -- The Curtain and Identity -- along with François Ricard's Kundera-study, Agnès's Final Afternoon

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17. Artist of the Day: Luis Yang

Discover the work of Luis Yang, Cartoon Brew's Artist of the Day!

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18. Daily Mail Must Apologize to J.K. Rowling

A British court has ordered the publisher of the Daily Mail to apologize to J.K. Rowling for alleging that she made up a “sob story” from her days as a single mother.

The article, “How JK Rowling’s sob story about her single mother past surprised and confused the church members who cared for her”, was published by the Daily Mail in response to an article that she wrote an article for the single parent charity Gingerbread’s website about her experience. The Huffington Post UK has more about the defamatory article:

…the article alleged Rowling “had given a knowingly false account” and “falsely and inexcusably accused her fellow churchgoers of behaving in a bigoted, unchristian manner towards her, of stigmatising her and cruelly taunting her for being a single mother”.

The court found that article to be defamatory and ordered Associated Newspapers Ltd to pay damages to Rowling, which she plans to donate to charity.

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19. Remembering Seth Kushner with images and words

imrs.jpg

The comics world continued to pay tribute to Seth Kushner this week, following his passing on Sunday. Michael Cavna has an amazing gallery of Kushner’s many amazing photos of comics creators, an astonishing body of work, along with tributes from Neil Gaiman, Becky Cloonan and many many more.

Seth’s “final photographs seem to capture things that the camera shouldn’t have been able to, considering the casual ease that he set up his shots,” the talented Jeffrey Brown tells us. But then, “That’s what artists do,” says the gifted Rick Parker. “They see right to the heart of their subjects.”


The above photo, from Mocca in 2010 of the dream panel of Paul Pope, Dean Haspiel, Frank Miler, Kyle Baker and Jaime Hernandez is but one such image.

seth-kushner-camera1.jpg

Seth’s close friend Hannah Means Shannon has a a wonderful rite up of his memorial service which was held this past Wednesday.

For that reason, the thoughts that friends and family shared, the tributes to Seth, were that much more immediate, conversational, and brutally honest, in my opinion. Other funeral services I’ve been to now seem lacking in this quality of direct communication among the people gathered. We celebrated Seth as if he was in the room, since he still felt like he was. Another thing that may have made the gathering and speeches seem surreal to many of Seth’s creative friends is that, in a few instances, they felt like one of the many spoken word events Seth took part in or attended. Events where people performed prose or read aloud from projected comics.


As Hannah notes, Haspiel read one of Seth’s comics aloud, surely the only memorial service I’ve ever attended that included that, but it was so touching. Another speaker quoted The Dark Knight Returns, and a third Death’s line from The Sandman: “You get what anybody gets – you get a lifetime.” And someone else quoted Star TtreK II: “I have been and always will be your friend.”

Seth would have loved all this. And I think showing the universal power to comfort of these words from once disreputable mediums was an especially fitting tribute for him.

And as Dean put it, “Seth did more in a hospital gown than some people do in a year.” If there is one lesson to be taken from Seth’s horrificly young passing, it’s that you only get one chance to go around this world, and not taking advantage of this is a true tragedy.

Most importantly, there is an ongoing funding effort to help Seth’s wife Terra and son Jackson. His family meant everything to him, and please keep them in your thoughts.

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20. A Crazy Fairy Tale, some Rhythm and Movement, a cute Penguin, and Messy Pasta - all from Scholastic


A Crazy Fairy Tale…

Little Red Riding Hood Not Quite by Yvonne Morrison, illus. Donovan Bixley, Scholastic NZ

If you liked the previous Children’s Choice Award-winning story from this pair – The Three Bears Sort Of – you’ll like this one. 
It’s the same format, with a long-suffering parent trying to read the fairy tale to a precocious child. The interruptions and discussions are very funny – and extremely logical, when you think about it. The old fairy tales certainly weren’t renowned for being logical…Donovan Bixley’s bright and cheeky illustrations are done in mixed media, hand drawn and digitally painted. They convey the two layers of the narration with gusto. Probably best for older children, maybe about 6 to 8, who know the original story and can enjoy the input from the child listener.



ISBN 978 1 77543 263 0 $15.99 Pb

Reviewed by Lorraine Orman

Rustle Up a Rhythmby Rosalind Malam, illus. Sarah Nelisiwe Anderson, Scholastic New Zealand

Packed with action and noise, this will be great fun to read aloud to either a group or an individual child. Written from the point of view of a small boy, the rhyming text zips us through the day with his family, using such verses as: “Bibble, bibble, bubble, hums my egg from the pot, and the bread in the toaster goes click – click – pop!” Onomatopoeia is featured all the way through the story, right up to bedtime. The illustrations are friendly, expansive and colourful, happily integrating the “noise” words into the flow of daily events. Pre-schoolers in particular will love identifying and saying the words, at the same time associating sounds with events or objects familiar to them. I imagine this book will be very useful for reading and language sessions in pre-school centres and early entrant classes.

ISBN 978 1 77543 148 0 $19.00 Pb

Little Hoiho by Stephanie Thatcher, Scholastic NZ

Stephanie’s first picture book The Great Galloping Galoot was published by Scholastic NZ in 2012. It’s a jolly, bouncing story – fans will find this second book is quite different in tone but just as satisfying. On her first foray out of the nest, a little penguin finds that not all birds are the same. Kotuku struts on beautiful long legs, Toroa flies on big wings, Tui can sing. Little Hoihoi can’t do any of these things. Of course, as soon as she falls into the water she finds there is something she can do much better than the other birds… The pencil illustrations are a delight with their gentle watercolours, uncluttered scenes and good use of white space. Little Hoihoi’s expressive face takes centre-stage and delicately conveys her emotions. The book includes a small amount of information about yellow-eyed penguins, but its true value will be as a group read-aloud to children of around 3 to 7.

ISBN 978 1 77543 249 4 RRP $19 Pb

Reviewed by Lorraine Orman

Piggy Pasta and More Food With Attitude by Rebecca Woolfall and Suzi Tait-Bradly with feature photography by Vicki Leopold, Scholastic New Zealand
The picture on the cover is of some extremely pink (ie. beetroot-coloured) pasta which certainly draws the eye to the book… Once you get past the pasta pig face, you’ll find an alphabetically arranged collection of interesting recipes ranging from Dirt Pudding and Incy Wincy Chocolate Spiders to Rowdy Rice Saladand Witchy Poo Fingers. Each recipe is coded to indicate what types of meal it can be - there’s certainly a wide range of dishes covered. The authors are the founders of the Auckland-based LittleCooks cooking classes for kids (www.littlecooks.co.nz), so they know what’s likely to appeal to young appetites.

I studied the recipes and reached a few conclusions. Firstly, kids will love eating most of them and will especially love making them with a (very) patient parent to assist. Secondly, the recipes will probably be more successful with older children than with littlies – some procedures are quite fiddly and time-consuming. Scholastic recommends the book for ages 8+. Thirdly, what you see in the busy, bright illustrations is not necessarily what you get. Toys, props and fancy backgrounds have been used in the photos to create a fabulous picture – so if you want to replicate the presentation of some of the dishes, you’ll have to do a shopping trip to the toy shop first…

ISBN 978 1 77543 216 6 $19.00 Pb

Reviewed by Lorraine Orman

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21. ‘HARROW COUNTY’ #1 SELLS OUT, GOES TO SECOND PRINTING‏



‘HARROW COUNTY’ #1 SELLS OUT, GOES TO SECOND PRINTING


DON’T MISS YOUR CHANCE TO VISIT ‘HARROW COUNTY’
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: MILWAUKIE, OR—Dark Horse Comics is pleased to announce that Cullen Bunn and Tyler Crook’s Harrow County #1 has sold out and will receive a second printing. Featuring a new cover by Crook, the new printing will give even more readers a chance to visit “the town that will make your skin crawl.”
Praised as “genuinely creepy and engaging” by Mark Millar and called “[a series] worth checking out” by master of horror Clive Barker, Harrow County follows the story of Emmy, who always knew that the deep, dark woods surrounding her home crawled with ghosts, goblins, and the restless dead. But on the eve of her eighteenth birthday, she learns that she is connected to these creatures—and to the land itself—in a way she never imagined.
Harrow County #1 is the latest of several sold-out creator-owned first printings from Dark Horse and follows in the footsteps of this year’s Lady Killer and EI8HT.
Don’t miss your chance to experience the series Bloody Disgusting calls “a masterful creation that lingers in the small moments of terror from our daily lives.”
For a closer look at Tyler Crook's Harrow County #1 second printing variant, head over to Comic Book Resources.
Harrow County #1 Second Printing (APR158284)
Cullen Bunn (W), Tyler Crook (A/Cover)
$3.99
On sale June 17; FOC June 1
###
For more information or interview opportunities, contact:
Aub Driver aubd@darkhorse.com | Steve Sunu steves@darkhorse.com
About Dark Horse
Founded in 1986 by Mike Richardson, Dark Horse Comics has proven to be a solid example of how integrity and innovation can help broaden a unique storytelling medium and establish a small, homegrown company as an industry giant. The company is known for the progressive and creator-friendly atmosphere it provides for writers and artists. In addition to publishing comics from top talent, such as Frank Miller, Mike Mignola, Neil Gaiman, Brian Wood, Gerard Way, Felicia Day, and Guillermo del Toro, and comics legends, such as Will Eisner, Neal Adams, and Jim Steranko, Dark Horse has developed its own successful properties, such as The Mask, Ghost, Timecop, and SpyBoy. Its successful line of comics and products based on popular properties includes Mass Effect, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Aliens, Conan, EVE Online, Halo, Serenity, Game of Thrones, and Domo. Today Dark Horse Comics is the largest independent comic book publisher in the US and is recognized as one of the world’s leading publishers of both creator-owned content and licensed comics material.

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22. Ask Your Library to Order Maggie on Audiobook!

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23. The Marty Ray Q&A: Don’t Forget About Elvis

Interesting interview with an incredible singer.  Full interview here:


http://globaltexanchronicles.com/mary-ray-qa/


Marty Ray


For me, it’s not something I try to do, I just sing any song the way I feel it.
by Walter Price

There’s a thing in the music business where you need to be something you may or most likely are not. Marty Ray isn’t in that realm. He is a songwriter and song interpreter who publicly wears his beliefs, loves and understandings on his everyday person sleeves.

God? Yes. Love of a wide variety of sounds? Yes. Understanding of an honest approach? Yes. Marty Ray may just be the voice, with his covers that take near classics into new soulful grounds and originals that shout authenticity, the world needs now.

My happenstance introduction of Ray has kept me intrigued, his-story has converted myself and thousands of others into a fans.

I like that line in your bio, “My Momma always said when I cried as a baby, it sounded like a song,”, have you always been making music?

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24. The Most Popular Book Based on the State Where It Is Set

Hunter S. Thompson‘s “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas” is the most popular book set in Nevada and “East of Eden” by John Steinbeck is the most popular book set in California, according to Mic.com.

The news site has created a map of the most popular books set in each state. Here is how they calculated the score:

Each state’s representative fiction book was chosen based on Goodreads scores for series with over 50,000 ratings. If no book from the state reached that vote threshold, we selected the highest-rated in the closest tier of votes. No parts of series that cannot stand alone were included; in other words, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz qualified while Twilight did not.

Follow this link to explore the entire map.

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25. GJ Book Club, Chapter 8—Line Drawing: Practical



On the GJ Book Club, we're studying Chapter 8, "The Study of Drawing," from Harold Speed's 1917 classic The Practice and Science of Drawing.

The following numbered paragraphs cite key points in italics, followed by a brief remark of my own. If you would like to respond to a specific point, please precede your comment by the corresponding number.

This is one of the core chapters of the book, with many good illustrations. Rather than try to comprehensively summarize the content, I'll just call out a few key points to provide a memory jogger and a discussion starter.

1. Appearances must be reduced to terms of a flat surface.
In many modern academic ateliers, one proceeds from a 2D shape analysis in an early stage, to a 3D construction stage later. Seeing the forms in front of you as flat shapes can be a challenge, and Speed offers various methods for doing so, including......

2. Method for creating a drawing grid: cardboard with cutout hole, and black thread held in with sealing wax.
Over the years I have experimented with various forms of this grid, including one with black threads woven across. By the way, sealing wax is a sticky wax people would melt and then stamp with a tool for sealing letters. You could use hot glue for the same purpose. 

I've found a more useful grid is a set of lines drawn with an indelible marker on a piece of acrylic or plexiglass sheet. In order to get accurate measurements, the observer must maintain a constant distance and position relative to the grid. Holding it at arm's length is one way, but there are others. Maybe in a future post or video I'll show some other methods.

3. The drawing grid or frame should be held between the eye and the object to be drawn in a perfectly vertical position.
This needs a bit of clarification. Rather than being held in a "perfectly vertical position," the grid or viewfinder should be held perpendicular to the line of sight, which is a different thing in the case of an upshot or downshot. Holding the grid vertically in such an up or down angled view would negate the normal convergent effect of vertical lines. In fact, in photography, "tilt-shift" lenses are sometimes used to artificially hold the lens vertically to negate the normal perspective of verticals.

4. It is never advisable to compare other than vertical and horizontal measurements.
A corollary to this is the importance of being able to judge a true vertical, often aided by a plumb line.



5. Three principles of construction.
A. Block out shape by analyzing into straight lines (Figure X, above)
B. Breaking down the shapes of curves.  (Figure Y).
C. Vertical and side measurements. (Figure Z).
These three basic geometric methods, used in conjunction with each other, are used in the demo of the figure block-in below.

6. Method for blocking in a figure, with the prime vertical drawn through the armpit.
He also says, "Train yourself to draw between limits decided upon at the start." This is so important for placing figures accurately in multi-figure work. Some other methods, such as building outward from the center, will not serve as well for producing figures that must fit within strict limits.

7. In the case of foreshortenings, the eye, unaided by this blocking out, is always apt to be led astray.
This is so true, and in the case of foreshortenened lengths that I try to always remember to make measurements.

8. In blocking-in, observe the shape of the background as much as the object.
In many modern books, this advice is put in terms of judging "negative shapes."

9. Lines bounding one side of a form must be observed in relation to the lines bounding the other.
He continues, "The drawing of the two sides should be carried on simultaneously so that one may constantly compare them." 

10. In line drawing, shading should only be used to aid the expression of form.
Even though this drawing has some tone, Speed uses it to show the way parallel lines can express form and textures like hair.
11. Diagram of a cone (seen from above) next to a window at left.
Speed proceeds to go into some detail about the theory of what we would regard highlights, terminators, core shadows, and cast shadows. But he's not primarily concerned with accurately producing a tonal analysis of form. That will come later in "mass drawing." He is still thinking in terms of a drawing conceived primarily in linear terms. That's why he suggests using the soft frontal lighting of an open window at the observer's back.


12. You seldom see any shadows in Holbein's drawings; he seems to have put his sitters near a wide window, close against which he worked.



13. Lines of shading drawn across the forms suggest softness, lines drawn in curves fullness of form, lines drawn down the forms hardness, and lines crossing in all directions so that only a mystery of tone results, atmosphere. 
In his book Creative Illustration, Andrew Loomis recapitulates these same points, not only for drawing, but also painting techniques.


14. In the method of line drawing we are trying to explain (the method employed for most of the drawings by the author in this book) the lines of shading are made parallel in a direction that comes easy to the hand, unless some quality in the form suggests their following other directions. 
15. Don't burden a line drawing with heavy half tones and shadows; keep them light. 
He says, "The beauty that is the particular province of line drawing is the beauty of contours, and this is marred by heavy light and shade." 


16. Analysis of forms of the eye, the eyebrow, and the eyelashes.
There are many good pieces of advice in the text.
---
The Practice and Science of Drawing is available in various formats:
1. Inexpensive softcover edition from Dover, (by far the majority of you are reading it in this format)
3. Free online Archive.org edition.
and The Windsor Magazine, Volume 25, "The Art of Mr. Harold Speed" by Austin Chester, page 335. (thanks, अर्जुन)
------
GJ Book Club Facebook page  (Thanks, Keita Hopkinson)
Pinterest (Thanks, Carolyn Kasper)

Original blog post Announcing the GJ Book Club

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