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<<August 2015>>
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1. A little Art Journaling Tip

Here's a little draw tip for you:

When you are keeping an art journal, you don't need to fill each page with a perfect drawing. You may not have time to fill a whole page in one go. And hey, telling yourself that the completely blank page should be filled with a fantastic piece of art seems high pitched and isn't very motivating if you just feel like putting pen on paper.
So that's what you do: let the ink flow and enjoy your pen lines on the paper. Choose to draw details of your day. If you do a few of them throughout the day or the week, your double page will be filled in the end.

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2. Cosplay

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3. How the Trees Got Their Voice - a bookwrap


Authored and illustrated by Susan Andra Lion

Illustrations that are stunning for you...

About the book...

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4. finding ways in

The way into a story often comes in unexpected ways, as bit of kismet or synchronicity at work, I am convinced.

This morning I read on NPR ("An Unlikely Hit in an Imaginary Language") about Paul Kingsnorth's new novel, THE WAKE, about 11th century England after the Norman conquest. I was intrigued because the review talked about a made-up language. So I followed a few links to the Guardian, and one to Mark Rylance (who was Cromwell in PBS's WOLF HALL production) reading from THE WAKE.

And it was a wake-up call. OMG, I get it. My language is ALL WRONG with book three. Not that standard English isn't the way to go, not that I haven't planned to sprinkle in "groovys" and "far outs" and other counter-culture phrases... but I have been pursuing the wrong character altogether, which is why book three isn't working. Maybe.

I'm going to try a new beginning today, a new way in. Here is Mark Rylance reading from THE WAKE:

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5. Can I reach a male audience with a female protagonist?

Hello! I've read that authors should write with a target audience in mind. I've just started giving thought to what age range and gender I'm targeting.

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6. George R.R. Martin Confirms That Stannis Baratheon Is Still Alive in the Books

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7. Face-Lift 1274

Guess the Plot

Keeper of the Woods

1. The woods are lovely, dark and deep, but I have promises to keep, so someone else can take over my job as . . . keeper of the woods.

2. In a woodsy world where all the people are half-animals, a half-dog and his half-coyote sister must rescue their father from the half-weasel's soldiers. It seems hopeless until someone who is 100% human arrives and saves the day, thus demonstrating the universal truth that humans are better than animals.

3. Margot asks too many discomfiting questions, so she's expelled from her coven of teen witches-in-training. As she wanders deep in the woods, she meets a hoary old character who has some answers for her. His dark, brooding grandson with pointy ears and a wicked aim with a cross-bow is also kinda cute.

4. Alexis Hightop has had her fill of random men and sloppy sex. Now she's determined to find a worthy substitute in the local sex shop. After months of research, she's got a box full of "toys" and she's ready to share her knowledge with other women.

5. As man continues expanding his domain at the expense of other creatures, soon there is only one who stands between nature and humanity's encroachment: the superhero known as  . . . Keeper of the Woods.

Original Version

Dear Evil Editor,

My name is X. I was born and raised in New Jersey [I am completely objective when reading queries; no need to try to win my sympathy.] and am currently working as a middle school Special Education teacher. I would like to send you my novel, Keeper of the Woods, for your consideration. It is a 56,000 word middle grade fantasy novel. The story takes place in a world where by the age of eight everyone takes on physical characteristics of an animal which mirrors their personality, all except for one person. [Just for my own enlightenment, would someone whose personality mirrors that of an elephant simply become larger than most people, or would he grow a trunk? Or maybe I should ask if he would have an elephant's head on a man's body or a man's head on an elephant's body.] [Also, do animals take on the physical characteristics of people who mirror their personalities? Like you could have one bear that looks like Russell Crowe and another that looks like Stephen Colbert.] [Wait, I have an even better idea. People who take on the physical characteristics of whichever vegetable mirrors their personalities. Boring people would look like iceberg lettuce and sexy people would look like jalapeños. Ideally you would want to look like an ear of corn.]

Rae the half-dog and his sister Arella the half-coyote [She's very coy.] break every law [Is that an exaggeration? Are there laws against murder, rape, kidnapping, child abuse?] trying to survive while their father leads the rebellion against the weasel King Nalvero. [I assume he's the king, and half weasel, rather than the king of the weasels, right?] When word comes that their father has been captured the two quickly devise a plan to get him out [Out of what? Is he in a cage, a prison, a POW camp?] with the help of the strangest creature ever found-a human girl named Ana. Ana rescues the two from Nalvero’s soldiers, [Wait, last I heard "the two" were devising a plan to rescue Dad. Suddenly it's the two who are being rescued?] the Red Guards, [so named because they have taken on the physical characteristics of cardinals,] and joins them under the impression they can make her part animal like the rest of the world. [Making her part animal would be dangerous if her personality is shark-like.] Red Guards, a panther bounty hunter, curses, [a polar bear dentist,] prophecies, and Rae and Ana’s constant arguing [Sounds like Rae should be half cobra and Ana should be half mongoose. Consider making the change.] complicate the journey further. [What journey? Where are they going?] In the end Ana must choose who to trust in order to fulfill a destiny far beyond her choice. [Is it truly her destiny if she has to make the right choice to fulfill it?]

Keeper of the Woods will fit in well with audiences who enjoyed the spirit of friendship in the Percy Jackson series or the unusual world of the popular TV series Avatar: The Last Airbender. The main character will also appeal to those who related to Frozen's Queen Elsa and her fear of being a monster and subsequent isolation. [In addition, those who admire Wile E. Coyote's persistence will identify with Arella, Rae will appeal to fans of Scooby Doo and Mr. Peabody, and the weasel King Nalvero should remind those who enjoyed Lord of the Rings and The Wizard of Oz of those works' villains.] Your website indicates you are seeking projects with animal stories and a multicultural aspect. I believe my series contains these by demonstrating universal truths in unusual circumstances [If we knew more about your plot we might have an idea what universal truths are demonstrated.] and the amusement of animal behavior [Are you saying the book has cat videos? If so, count me on board.] combined with average people. Per your website's instructions I have attached the synopsis below. This is my first novel for submission and it is the first in a series of three books, which have all been written [completed]. If you do become interested my contact information is as follows: cell phone X and e-mail: X [Having an email address that's the same as your phone number could be confusing. Like the phone rings and you answer, but there's no one on the line because it was an email.]



It may seem reasonable to devote much of the query to yourself and movies and TV shows instead of your story when you're also attaching a synopsis, but that's only because you have somehow convinced yourself that the recipient will read the synopsis. Once the recipient reads the query there are three possibilities:

1. This plot doesn't appeal to me, so I'm sure as hell not gonna plod through the synopsis.

2. This plot sounds exciting, original and brilliant, but I'd better plod through the synopsis to make sure it doesn't turn into another Harry Potter ripoff.

3. I'm on the fence with this plot; should I plod through the synopsis or . . . Hmm, that next query on the pile has an intriguing font.

As you can see, the best you can hope for is #2. So you need to tell us a good story that will leave us reluctantly resigned to having to plod through your synopsis.

Is their main goal to rescue Dad? To overthrow the weasel king? To complete their journey to wherever? To turn Ana into an animal? What happens if they fail? 

Why are weasels always the bad guy? Just once I'd like to see a books where weasels are enslaved by evil kittens.

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8. Friday roundup

Round-UPIn a week when everybody is supposed to be away at the beach, the Horn Book has been cranking out stuff for you to read. Beach reading, it’s maybe not, but nevertheless useful and even entertaining, we hope.

Lolly’s Classroom is talking about STEM books and inexpensive sources for classroom libraries.

–over on Out of the Box, Siân has a moving essay about seeing yourself in the books you read and also explains the difference between a maze and a labyrinth. WHO KNEW? Katie defends Beatrix Potter’s virtue and Shoshana talks about boogers.

–the Magazine has begun posting articles from our September issue, including Jack Gantos’s Zena Sutherland Lecture, which was just as peripatetic as he says it was.

Talks With Roger has been busy, with Lisa Graff interviewed last week and Lois Ehlert coming up next Wednesday. I’m also interviewing Eric Carle for the next issue of Notes from the Horn Book. You can sign up for all that here.

–a subscription to Notes (which is free) also brings you our latest newsletter, the quarterly What Makes a Good… ?, which debuted this week with “What Makes Good Narrative Nonfiction?” Have a look.

–And today I’m told is National Bow Tie Day, about which I have made my feelings known, in language not fit for a family website, over on Facebook.

–Finally, Katrina and Cathie Mercier and I are busy building this year’s Horn Book at Simmons Colloquium, “Transformations,” which will feature a keynote address by the best friend the Horn Book ever had, Susan Cooper. Sign up now to get the early bird discount.


The post Friday roundup appeared first on The Horn Book.

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9. Poetry Friday: Shadow-Evidence by Mary Mapes Dodge

Swift o'er the sunny grass,
I saw a shadow pass
With subtle charm,-
So quick, so full of life,
With thrilling joy so rife,
I started lest, unknown,
My step - ere it was flown -
Had done it harm.

Why look up to the blue?
The bird was gone, I knew,
Far out of sight.
Steady and keen of wing,
The slight, impassioned thing,
Intent on a goal unknown,
Had held its course alone
In silent flight.

Dear little bird, and fleet,
Flinging down at my feet
Shadow for song:
More sure am I of thee -
Unseen, unheard by me -
Than of some things felt and known,
And guarded as my own,
All my life long.

- Shadow-Evidence by Mary Mapes Dodge

View all posts tagged as Poetry Friday at Bildungsroman.

View the roundup schedule at A Year of Reading.

Learn more about Poetry Friday.

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10. Brains behind the Brand - Ruff Life

Get to meet the Ruff Life team and listen in to future plans for the brand.

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11. My tweets

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12. R.J. Palacio and Ivan Doig Debut on the Indie Bestseller List

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13. Kelly Jensen Inks Deal With Algonquin Young Readers

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14. 2015 September Events and October Brazil Tour!

Hello, readers, royals, and mediators! It’s been such a fun, busy summer. I’ve had a great time seeing (and hearing from) so many of you during my 15th Anniversary Princess Diaries tour to celebrate the releases of Royal Wedding and From the Notebooks of a Middle School Princess!


But guess what?  It’s not over yet. I’ve still got a few more (national and international) stops to make in September and October!

Read on to see if I’ll be visiting a town near you (unless of course you’re my mother-in-law, in which case you already know I’m coming to see you. Hi, Bonnie)!

In the meantime, the cover reveal (and synopsis) for Remembrance, Mediator 7 (in stores February 14, 2016), is coming soon . . .

Come see me and my amazing fellow writers at the following locations:


Decatur Book Festival
601 W Ponce de Leon Ave, Decatur, GA 30030

  • Saturday, September 05, 2015 – 4:15 PM to 5:00 PM
    First Baptist Decatur Sanctuary
    Panel: Queens of Romance with Meg Cabot, Robyn Carr and Kristan Higgans, signing to follow
  • Sunday, September 06, 2015 – 3:45 PM to 4:30 PM
    Children’s Stage
    Panel: Happily Ever After with Meg Cabot, Jessica Lawson, Elizabeth Lenhard, signing to follow


Columbus Children’s Book Festival

Columbus Public Library, 3000 Macon Rd, Columbus, Georgia 31906

  • Saturday, September 19, 2015 – Noon-1:00 PM
    Embrace Your Inner Princess! – Signing to follow

Read for Pixels 2015
Online Chat – Register here

  • Sunday, September 27, 2015 – 11:30PM EST (8:30 PST)
    Reading and Q&A session in support of the Celebrity Male Role Model Pixel Reveal Campaign.



I’m so excited to be heading to Brazil in October!  Can’t wait to see you there!!! Obrigada!!! (I’m seriously going to learn more Brazilian Portuguese than this one word before I get there.)


Cachoeira, BA – Oct 18th,  10AM
Flica Festival
Recife, PE – Oct 19th,  5pm
Saraiva MegaStore Riomar Shopping Recife
Avenida Republica do Líbano, s/nº – Piso L2 – Luc 227 – Pina
CEP: 51110-160 – Recife – PE

São Paulo, SP – Oct 20th,  5pm
Saraiva MegaStore Shopping Center Norte
Travessa Casalbuono, 120 – Loja 414 – Vila Guilherme
CEP: 02047-050 – São Paulo – SP

Porto Alegre, RS – Oct 21st,  5pm
Saraiva MegaStore BarraShopping Sul
Av. Diário de Notícias, 300 – Loja 1022 – Cristal
CEP: 90810-080 – Porto Alegre – RS

Belo Horizonte, MG – Oct 22nd,  5pm
Saraiva Megastore Shopping Diamond Mall
Av. Olegario Maciel, 1600 – Lojas 16 a 21 – Nivel Bernardo Guimarães Lourdes
CEP: 30180-111 – Belo Horizonte – MG

Rio de Janeiro, RJ – Oct 23rd,  5pm
Saraiva MegaStore Shopping Rio Sul
Av. Lauro Muller, 116 – Botafogo
CEP: 22290-160 – Rio de Janeiro – RJ


It’s going to be an amazing trip! I can’t wait to see you there!


More later.

Much love,



The post 2015 September Events and October Brazil Tour! appeared first on Meg Cabot.

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It's back to school time!    September promises to be filled with fun theater, exhibitions, and mo'! EXHIBITS! ATLANTA, GA SERIOUSLY SILLY: THE ART & WHIMSY OF MO WILLEMS is on view at the HIGH MUSEUM in Atlanta, GA! The exhibit is based on the 2013 solo show at the Eric Carle Museum, with added original work and cool interactive stuff. Don't miss it! I'm very excited about the

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16. GJ Book Club: Chapter 21, Conclusions

For the GJ Book Club, let's consider the concluding chapter in Harold Speed's 1917 classic The Practice and Science of Drawing, and reflect back on the book as a whole.

Lady Diana Bridgeman, Harold Speed (British, 1852-1957).

Speed begins this final chapter talking about the camera, and the merits and dangers of mechanical accuracy. This is an issue that hasn't gone away, and that people in our community still discuss today.

I'll put Speed's quotes in boldface, followed by my thoughts.

1. There may be times when the camera can be of use to artists, but only to those who are thoroughly competent to do without it.
Speed suggests that truth achieved by mechanical accuracy may be a valuable stepping stone toward true art, but we should use a standard other than accuracy alone to measure our response to art. Art is not merely a collection of objective facts, but rather "records of a living individual consciousness." Whether one traces a photo or some other procedure to achieve mechanical accuracy, one must not lose sight of the driving emotion that guides the choice and placement of elements, and that shapes the rhythms of the artistic statement.

2. The training of his eye and hand to the most painstaking accuracy of observation and record must be the student's aim for many years.
Despite his caution to see beyond mechanical accuracy, Speed argues that accurate drawing is an absolute prerequisite to the kind of evolved subjective vision he advocates. Students must strive for unflinching honesty or sincerity. Seeking originality for its own sake is a trap, leaving the young artist chasing the fashions of the moment, or contenting himself or herself with an easy substitute for the fine craftsmanship that is more difficult to attain.

3. Individual style will come to you naturally as you become more conscious of what it is you wish to express.
Speed argues that young artists should be wary of adopting readymade techniques or design conventions borrowed from other artists. More often than not, those outward stylistic gimmicks don't fit the subject you're painting nor the mood you're trying to evoke. Everything must begin with an artist's idea, and style is simply the most direct means to communicate that idea.

4. Appendix: Phi Proportions
I wish an editor had suggested that Speed delete this appendix—or save it for another book, because I think it contradicts Speed's entire argument leading up to it. After decrying readymade compositional formulas, he proceeds to introduce a readymade mathematical formula for design. It strikes me as an afterthought alien to the rest of Speed's argument. Longtime blog readers know where I stand about via the Golden Ratio (also known as "phi"). You can read my thoughts in my blog series "Mythbusting the Golden Mean" or, if you like, another website called "The Myth of the Golden Ratio."

Final thoughts
Looking back on the book as a whole, I'm struck with how much this book is about aesthetics. When I first encountered the book as an art student, I was primarily interested in materials, methods, and techniques but what I take away from the book at this stage in my life is the importance that Speed rightly places on the thinking, feeling, and intention behind the technique.

I have newly marked up my print copy with pencil notations in the margins, and I have been inspired by the many fresh perspectives that you as blog readers have brought to each chapter to deepen my appreciation of Speed's book. For those who discover this book club weeks or months later, please feel free to add your comments. I'll be able to review it and publish your comments any time, and keep this book club constantly in session.

The next book for the GJ book club will be Speed's book on painting, the sequel to this one on drawing. In its original edition, it's called "The Science and Practice of Oil Painting." Unfortunately it's not available in a free edition that I know of, but there's an inexpensive print edition that Dover publishes under a different title "Oil Painting Techniques and Materials." We'll start up with that book in three weeks, on September 18, which gives you time to pick up a copy.
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)
2. Fully illustrated and formatted for Kindle.
3. Free online Archive.org edition.
4. Project Gutenberg version
Articles on Harold Speed in the Studio Magazine The Studio, Volume 15, "The Work of Harold Speed" by A. L. Baldry. (XV. No. 69. — December, 1898.) page 151.
and The Windsor Magazine, Volume 25, "The Art of Mr. Harold Speed" by Austin Chester, page 335. (thanks, अर्जुन)

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17. Cormac McCarthy Is Working on a New Book

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18. Kibbles ‘n’ Bits 8/28/15: Free comics by Lemire, Mignola, Snyder and Jock

§ I don’t often run Kickstarter checks, but I see Mike Dawson’s Rules for Dating my Daughter kickstarter is nearly fully funded after only a few days! Granted it was a pretty modest goal, but I’m glad to see a book of indie non fiction comics get this much support. Also, Mike, I told ya: […]

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19. Button Poetry Live Show Series Featured on Kickstarter

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Ok, ok, we know that we have posted only six of us eight Izzy Elves in underbits.  Today we will remedy that omission.  Here are the final two, Tizzy and Blizzy.

 They don't actually know that we are posting this today.  We think they are a little bit embarrassed that they are both looking so googoo-eyed.  Frankly, we're all a little embarrassed that they are looking so googoo-eyed. But what can we do?  They always look like this these days.

Ever since Deedy (that's Dorothea Jensen to you) wrote down their stories (Tizzy, the Christmas Shelf Elf and Blizzy, the Worrywart Elf) they are no longer shy or discreet about showing how much they like each other. Or whatever.

The rest of us (that is Bizzy, Frizzy, Fizzy, Dizzy, Whizzy, and Quizzy, who are posting this) think it all happened when each read the story about the other.

After all, here is what appears in  Tizzy, the Christmas Shelf Elf, when Tizzy is telling two naughty boys who sneaked downstairs before their parents were up about all the Izzy Elves:

While Blizzy’s the last (she’s my favorite lass)
She fashions the snowflakes that swirl under glass.

And as for Blizzy's story, well the WHOLE THING shows how fond she is of Tizzy, but especially this part:

Then Blizzy smiled happily all to herself
And wondered when she’d see her favorite elf.
This is the year, she thought, when Tizzy might
Take hold of her hand when they danced in the night.
And maybe—that’s maybe—he’d give her a kiss
Beneath the green mistletoe. That would be bliss!
Just thinking of this made her blush like a rose
As she threw back her covers and threw on her clothes.

So we guess that all this "googoo eyes" business is Deedy's fault.  After all, she's the one who wrote these "tell-all" stories.

We just hope the tabloids don't get hold of these revealing pictures.


Bizzy, Frizzy, Fizzy, Dizzy, Whizzy, and Quizzy

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21. Cease Striving


Cease endlessly striving for what you would like to do and learn to love what must be done.
– Goethe

The post Cease Striving appeared first on Caroline Starr Rose.

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22. Oxford Dictionaries Adds ‘Hangry’ and ‘Manspreading’

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23. Common infectious diseases contracted by travellers worldwide [infographic]

This summer intrepid travelers everywhere are strapping on backpacks, dousing themselves in mosquito spray, and getting their inoculations -- ready to embark on journeys that will take them into contact with some of the most virulent viruses and nastiest bacteria on the planet. Even those of us who aren’t going off the beaten track may end up in close quarters with microbes we’d rather not befriend. Explore some of the most common infectious diseases around the globe and how to identify them in this infographic.

The post Common infectious diseases contracted by travellers worldwide [infographic] appeared first on OUPblog.

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24. Pennies in a Jar by Dori Chaconas, illustrated by Ted Lewin

When a father is sent overseas to fight during WWII, he tells his young son to be brave.  This idea of war is scary for the boy, but so are some of the daily things in his life, like the air raid sirens, and thinking about bombs and guns.  The young boy is  especially afraid of the trade horses who come down his street.

First, there is the ragman's large horse Josephina.  When the ragman comes around to collect rags, paper and even metal for the war effort, the boy shies away from the horse.  Seeing that, the ragman asks if he would like to feed the horse a carrot and make friends with it, but the boy is too scared to do it.

He feels the same way about the milkman's horse Nell when they come down the street pulling the milk cart.  He has the same reaction to the garbage man's horse when they come to collect the trash.  But all the while, the young boy remembers the story his father told him about the time he had been bitten on the shoulder by one of the horses on his father's farm as a boy.  He, too, developed a fear of horses, but his father needed his help on the farm.  The boy's father told him that sometimes, if it's important enough, you just have to do things even if you are scared.

Meanwhile, the young boy is trying to think of a wonderful birthday present he could get his dad with his jar of saved pennies.  One day, the pony man shows up and asks the boy if he would like his picture taken on the pony.  But the boy, who has been remembering all the horse stories his dad had told him, declines the offer.

Suddenly, remembering his father's words about being brave, the boy knows just what would be the perfect gift to send his dad - a photo of him bravely sitting on the pony.  A gift for his father is important to the boy, but, can he, like his father, put aside he fear long enough to have the photo taken?

Pennies in a Jar is such an inspirational story for young readers.  All children have fears, some rational, some irrational, but finding the courage to overcome what they are afraid of is an important step, especially when they are separated from a parent fighting in a war and worried about them.  In that respect, even though this story takes place in WWII, and we know longer have trade horses coming down our streets on a regular basis, this is a book that will still resonate with many kids today.  After all, it's not about the horses, it's about being brave.

Ted Lewin's realistically detailed watercolor illustrations add depth and expressiveness to the story by creating the world of a small town during WWII.  They will remind you of the paintings done by Norman Rockwell in the 1940s, who also liked to capture life's small important moments in small town daily life.

There is a Note from the Author at the back of the book describing what life was like during the war -games kids played, how people passed the time, rationing and kids doing what they could for the war effort.  And, of course, being brave during difficult times.

This is an excellent book for starting many different kinds of conversations and would make a wonderful addition to any classroom or home school library.

This book is recommended for readers age 4+
This book was borrowed from the NYPL

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25. Take down the wall: a Q&A with Michael Dear

We asked Michael Dear to describe his day-to-day experiences of borderland communities. Most of my travel time is devoted to listening to people, observing, and trusting to serendipity. People on both sides of the border are generally helpful and friendly. Once I got lost in fog on my way to the mouth of the Rio Grande at the Gulf of Mexico, and pair of Mexican cops offered me a ride along the beach in their truck. And they came back later to pick me up!

The post Take down the wall: a Q&A with Michael Dear appeared first on OUPblog.

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