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Congratulations to Jacqueline Woodson who just made the “2014 Longlist for the National Book Award for Young People’s Literature” (again!) with her new book, Brown Girl Dreaming. Jacqueline was also kind enough to participate in my ongoing “Poet to Poet” interview series, too.
is the award winning author of many amazing novels for young adults (Miracle’s Boys, Hush, If You Come Softly
) and for the middle grades (Last Summer with Maizon, Feathers
) and picture books for children (The Other Side, Each Kindness, Coming on Home Soon, Show Way
) and so many more including previous works that interweave poetry like Locomotion.
|Carole Boston Weatherford|
The lovely Carole Boston Weatherford
is my poet interviewer. She is the author of many, many books of poetry and other genres including: The Sound that Jazz Makes, Sidewalk Chalk; Poems of the City, Remember the Bridge: Poems of a People, Dear Mr. Rosenwald, Birmingham, 1963, Becoming Billie Holiday, and many more.
She is also the recipient of many awards including the Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award and Lion and the Unicorn Award Honor for Excellence in North American Poetry for Birmingham, 1963.
Here she asks
Jacqueline three great questions about Brown Girl Dreaming.
Carole: Why did you choose poetry for your memoir?
Jacqueline: This is how memory comes to me -- In small moments with all of this white space around them. I didn't think this memoir could be told any other way. It felt like it would be untrue to the story to try to write a straight narrative out of lyrical memory. Also, I felt this way best expressed what I was trying to say -- that words have always been coming to me, that I've always been trying to hold on to them, set them free, floating onto the pages. This form shows them floating, shows the words moving slowly across, down, over the page.
Carole: You allude to Langston Hughes in BGD. What other poets influenced you?
Jacqueline: There've been so many since my first encounter with Langston Hughes -- Gwendolyn Brooks, Maya Angelou, Nikki Giovanni was HUGE for me, Countee Cullen's INCIDENT, was a poem that haunted me and made me think about living as an African American in the United States. So many poets influenced me both politically and artistically.
Carole: How did the oral tradition contribute to your development as a writer?
Jacqueline: I think the fact that my family was always telling stories really helped me believe I could tell stories even if I couldn't read or write. Also, the history they held onto that wasn't written down, that was past down from generation to generation really gave me a strong sense of myself in the world and of the people who came before me. I love the fact that even though as enslaved people we weren't allowed to learn to read and write, that didn't stop us from telling our stories. That's amazing to me. And that really gave me a lot of faith in my own ability to tell stories.
Carole concludes: Although our upbringings were different there are some coincidences: a Caroline and a gardening printers in the family, storytelling kin, rural roots, handmade first books about nature (butterflies and trees), begging to wear afros, and birthdays a day apart (mine is Feb. 13). Because my father was a printer, I kind of consider publishing the family business. Do you think your grandfather’s career in printing in any way emboldened or destined you to seek publication?
And Jacqueline responds:
Huh -- I hadn't thought of that -- But yes, the fact that there were always words in some form in our lives, words became a part of me.
Thank you both for sharing so openly in my mutual admiration society!
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Image credits: ONCenter.org;JacquelineWoodson.com;cbweatherford.com;NCLiteraryTrails.org
By: Jarrett J. Krosoczka,
Blog: the JJK blog
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A shout out to Rachael Walker—a hero to literacy programs and general awesomeness. Rachael helped found Read Across America (and continues to consult with the program), she gave me key advice when School Lunch Hero Day was starting up and she works with publishers on creating educational materials for their books. If you're not using her Reading Rockets videos in your libraries and classrooms, you're really missing out. Rachael isn't one to want attention, but I am happy to give her plaudits, because she so deserves them. If you're ever looking for someone to consult on a reading initiative, create downloadable activities for an author website or a generous person in your life, look no further!
|Newlyweds Chris & Jenny|
By Chris Barton
for Cynthia Leitich Smith
Many of my ideas -- good, bad, and otherwise -- originate while I’m exercising, and Modern First Library
was among these.
One evening this past winter, while my wife, fellow author Jennifer Ziegler
, and I were walking our dog, I bemoaned an article I’d read
about an independent bookseller’s baby gift registry.
Of the classic picture books mentioned in the article -- through no fault of the store, I’m assuming -- the newest one was published during the first Nixon administration.
We’re in a pretty terrific era for picture books. You might even call it a golden age, and I’ve been working for years to try to contribute to it myself. But how, I griped, was the general book-buying public going to know about contemporary standouts such as I Want My Hat Back
by Jon Klassen
(Candlewick, 2011) if major media outlets so readily reinforce shoppers’ tendencies to look to their own youth -- or even to earlier decades -- for the books they give as gifts to modern kids?
If only, I thought, there was some way to leverage the public’s interest in buying the tried and true into the purchase of classics and contemporary titles. I wasn’t interested in just shifting sales from old to new -- booksellers and kids alike would benefit a lot more if those parents and grandparents and aunts and uncles and godparents and family friends bought two picture books instead of just one.
Our walk ended, and that was as far as it went. But not for long.
A couple of weekends later, the groundshifting essays by Walter Dean Myers (“Where Are the People of Color in Children’s Books?”)
and Christopher Myers (“The Apartheid of Children’s Literature”)
ran in The New York Times.
A widespread urge to Do Something About This led to lots of conversations among authors, editors, librarians, and other champions of children’s literature. It led to the #WeNeedDiverseBooks
And it led me to email Meghan Goel, the children’s-book buyer at my beloved local indie BookPeople
, to discuss a new spin on the notion I’d had on that recent walk.
Wait -- email Meghan in what capacity?
As an author? Yes, but also as a BookPeople customer, and as a dad, and as a member of the community. Of various communities, in fact, large and small.
What’s important is not whether I felt especially qualified to lend my voice but rather that I had an idea that I thought might be worth trying and I decided not to keep it to myself.
Sharing an idea was the least I could do.
Here’s what I emailed, under the subject line “Getting past Goodnight Moon”:
Hey there, Meghan,
Like apparently half of everyone I know, I've read the Myers' New York Times essays with tremendous interest. And those essays sparked a diversity-encouraging idea that I wanted to run past a bookseller or two before I get too enamored of a notion that may be either entirely unoriginal or totally unworkable or both.
My sense is that there a lot of gift-giving adults whose familiarity with picture books doesn't go far beyond the likes of:
Would there be an effective way to encourage these adults to buy the classic titles they have in mind and a new picture book that reflects the modern, diverse world that the recipients inhabit? And could such an effort be widespread and long-lasting enough that it could reward publishers for doing a better job of making good on their good intentions?
Am I nuts? A simpleton? Both -- and way off base, to boot?
I'd love to know what you think.
“I love this idea.”
Right away, she came up with the name “Modern First Library.”
Meghan suggested partnering with a small but diverse group of other authors whose voices on behalf of such a program might make it more successful. And she thanked me for reaching out to her.
We worked together to come up with a list of other authors we wanted to have involved. We tossed around ideas for great, vibrant, fun contemporary titles that we ourselves would want to have as the foundation for a child’s first collection of picture books alongside the established classics.
All the while we kept in mind the need for a program that would work specifically for BookPeople -- for its staff, its available space for in-store and online promotion, and local tastes and demographics -- while being potentially repeatable by indie booksellers in other communities.
We didn’t rush into anything, even as the conversation about diversity in children’s literature remained a passionate one within the publishing and bookselling industries.
By the time our planning was done and the program launched
the first week in July, Modern First Library consisted of a simple in-store display of both standalone titles and starter sets of similarly themed books, plus an online campaign that soon began featuring insightful, inspiring blog posts
by locally based and nationally established creators of books for children and young adults.More starter sets are available online
, and the program is still picking up momentum. Those pre-wrapped gift sets will be heavily featured at the store during the upcoming holiday season.
Let me tell you, it feels great to know that young readers will be receiving selections from Modern First Library as gifts this year.
I stop by the Modern First Library display, just to admire it, every time I’m in BookPeople. Seeing it makes me glad all over again that I reached out to Meghan rather than assume I had no part to play in addressing the dearth of diversity in children’s literature.
And considering that all this began with my wife and me walking the dog, it’s certainly provided positive reinforcement for us to keep on getting plenty of exercise.
In all sorts of ways, this entire experience has been a gift in itself.Cynsational NotesChris Barton
is the author of the picture books Shark Vs. Train
(Little, Brown, 2010)(a New York Times and Publishers Weekly bestseller) and The Day-Glo Brothers
(Charlesbridge, 2009)(winner, American Library Association Sibert Honor), as well as the young adult nonfiction thriller Can I See Your I.D.? True Stories of False Identitie
s (Dial, 2011).
His 2014 publications include picture book Attack! Boss! Cheat Code! A Gamer’s Alphabet
(powerHouse) and his YA fiction debut as a contributor to the collection One Death, Nine Stories
(Candlewick), and 2015 will bring picture book biographies The Amazing Age of John Roy Lynch
(Eerdman's) and Pioneers & Pirouettes: The Story of the First American Nutcracker
Chris and his wife, children's-YA novelist Jennifer Ziegler
(Revenge of the Flower Girls
(Scholastic, 2014)), live in Austin, Texas, with their family.
Mexican animation producer Anima Estudios has announced production on "Top Cat Begins," a sequel to its 2011 hit "Top Cat: The Movie."
550 dressed up Jane Austen fans came together for a Guiness World Record-breaking event during the Jane Austen Festival.
Organizers claim that this group has become the largest gathering of people dressed in Regency costume. The current record stands at 491 people. The event took place outside of the Assembly Rooms in Bath, Somerset.
Here’s more from The Telegraph: “When the announcement was made, cheers were heard around the tea rooms inside the Assembly Rooms, with the town crier calling out the results…Every year, thousands of people flock to the city from all over the world for the event, coming from over Europe and even as far as America. The event was part of the 10 day festival’s programme of activities which is a big tourist attraction in the city.” What do you think?
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Originally posted on Writing for Kids (While Raising Them):
Good morning, writers! (Yawn! Stretch! Crack fingers. Sip tea.)
Let me tell you the reason for my uber-early morn, besides rousting my middle-schooler from her zombie-slumber. Not only do I have a SCBWI event at a “hipster cafe” (according to said middle-schooler), but I’m here to announce another debut by a friend! I’m pleased to share with you an adorable Noah’s ark tale, GOODNIGHT, ARK by Laura Sassi. Once again, a picture book writer makes a breakthrough with a new twist on a familiar theme.
Laura, a lot of time on this blog is spent talking about inspiration and story ideas (because of PiBoIdMo). What’s the genesis of GOODNIGHT, ARK?
First off, I just love your play on words here. The Biblical story of Noah’s ark is indeed found in Genesis! And I’ve always loved the story of Noah and the flood and all those animals packed in the ark…
View original 1,186 more words
Fairest Vol. 2: Hidden Kingdom Lauren Beukes, Bill Willingham, Inaki Miranda
This is a bit of a jump-back in time from where the main series is. With the “present day” happening in 2002, so the action is pretty firmly at the beginning of the series, with lots of flashback to Rapunzel’s back story.
So, like most fairy tales, Rapunzel has a dark edge that we tend not to retell. In the original, the witch discovers the prince because Rapunzel is pregnant. She casts Rapunzel into the desert where she gives birth to twins. The prince gets tangled in brambles trying to climb the tower, is blinded by the thorns and is also cast into the desert. They all wander around for like 20 years before they find each other, Rapunzel’s tears of joy cure his eyesight and only then do they all live happily-ever-after.
In the Fables world, Frau Tottenkinder is the witch that imprisoned Rapunzel. She casts her out, Rapunzel gives birth, and she’s told her children die during childbirth. She’s always known that they survived and has spent centuries searching for them. At one point, she tries to drown herself but washes up on the shores of a Japanese fable kingdom (named the Hidden Kingdom).
In the present day, she gets a message via attacking crane origami that there is news of her children. She meets up with friends and enemies from her old adopted homeland, and Tokyo’s version of Fabletown where the present is tied with the fall of the Hidden Kingdom to the adversary's forces.
I loved this one. I loved the look at Japanese mythology and fables, how they played in their homeland and how they survive in the modern Mundy world. I liked the old school “present day” with Jack running his schemes, Snow and Bigby in the business office and Frau Tottenkinder doing her thing on the 13th floor of the original building. It was a nice return to the beginning. But more than that, I loved Rapunzel’s story and her strength. We don’t see a lot of her, as she’s not allowed to leave Fabletown because of her hair and she’s been kinda shoved to the side in this series.
There’s also a tantalizing clue about the truth about her daughters, that I don’t believe we’ve seen the answer to yet. (I’m trying to rack my brain, as this happens so far in the past to see if we’ve seen them and not known it, or if they have yet to come up.)
This is my favorite volume in the Fairest spin-off series.
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“Ballet is so rigorous and formally precise. I spent a lot of time watching videos of ballet and going to see Misty dance specifically, because as precise as ballet is, the specificity of her art was most important to me. I wanted not just to capture the excitement of ballet, but the thrill of watching Misty perform those precision moves, the artistry that she brings to it.”
Today over at Kirkus
, I talk with Misty Copeland
and Christopher Myers
(pictured above), the creators of Firebird
, a picture book released by Putnam this month. That’s Chris quoted above, who is talking about Misty’s work as the second African American soloist in the history of the American Ballet Theatre.
That link will be here soon, and next week here at 7-Imp, I’ll have some artwork from the book.
* * * * * * *
Photos used with permission. Photo of Misty taken by Gregg Delman.
By: James Gurney,
Blog: Gurney Journey
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Yesterday the high school in Dubois, Wyoming sent a group of their art students out to join us on a ranch to learn plein-air painting. They were mentored by the scholarship students attending the SKB Foundation Workshop here.
Most people were painting old wagons or log cabins or picturesque bends in the stream, but I decided to paint the school bus. I love school buses. This is a beautiful brand new vehicle, built in January of 2014.
I used a ruler to get those windows straight in my little gouache painting. Press the "play" button below for a quick audio greeting from the driver.
(Link to the voice of the driver
) To me, the bus represents the pride of this town and their dedication to getting young people excited about art. That's what the day was all about, as far as I was concerned.
I made friends with the bus driver when I asked her to help me get one of my paint tube caps unstuck. She brought out a pliers, saying, "We western women have a whole tool kit in our purse."
Read about the SKB Foundation
Workshop, a unique week-long gathering of landscape and wildlife painters.
If you're a young artist who wants to be a part of this, check out the SKB scholarship program.
Printz Honor-winning writer Kenneth Oppel and Caldecott Medal-winning artist Jon Klassen will partner to create a middle grade novel entitled The Nest.
The story follows a boy named Steve as he and his family navigates through the difficulties of caring for Steve’s sick baby brother. This will be the first time Oppel (pictured, via) and Klassen (pictured, via) collaborate on a book project.
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers publisher Justin Chanda negotiated the deal with Writer’s House literary agent Steve Malk. Chanda will edit the manuscript. A release date has been scheduled for Fall 2015.
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The beloved principal of Lynnhurst Elementary School, Mr. Tanen, is known for his tie collection. Every morning when the children enter school they check to see what tie Mr. Tanen is wearing. He keeps a closet of ties in his office and changes his tie many times throughout the day. He might wear a tie to match his mood, or the weather, or for his official duties. His tie collection is endless!
One day during an important meeting with Mr. Apple at the School Department he is told that education is serious business and that wearing silly ties simply isn’t proper. Mr. Apple hands Mr. Tanen a blue tie and tells him he must only wear blue ties. Plain blue ties.
The students miss Mr. Tanen’s special ties, and soon it becomes clear that a plain blue ties make everyone feel “blue”. When Mr. Tanen calls in sick for a week, it’s Mr. Apple who fills in as principal. He has lots of rules and, of course, a plain tie. During recess, the students notice Mr. Apple bird watching and the next day someone gives him a tie with birds on it. At the end of the school day, Mr. Apple finds himself admiring his new tie and he decides to put it on. While at the grocery store, he gets compliments on his lovely bird tie. What a nice feeling! All the rest of the week, Mr. Apple chooses a special tie to wear from Mr. Tanen’s closet of ties. Mr. Apple finds himself smiling often.
When Mr. Tanen returns to work on Monday he finds Mr. Apple waiting with a tie box for him. Inside is another blue tie, but this one isn’t plain at all – it has #1 blue ribbon all over it. Ties most definitely make a difference at Lynnhurst Elementary School where no one is feeling “blue” anymore.
There is yet another happy ending to Mr. Tanen’s Ties, so you might just want to check this book out!
Posted by: Wendy
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Do you think you have what it takes to be a changemaker? Laurie Thompson shares stories of young entrepreneurs whose ideas made a difference and shares how readers can be changemakers themselves.GreenBeanTeenQueen Says:
If you're looking for an inspiring book that will get you excited-and give you advice-on how to ignite change, Be a Changemaker
is going to kickstart your ambitions. Laurie Thompson gives readers examples of young entrepreneurs who decided to make a change and start something that mattered and gives practical, easy to follow advice for teens looking to start something in their own community. The result is inspiring and is sure to spark ideas among teens about how they can get involved.
The book covers a wide range of topics and balances real life experiences and stories with ways teens can start now and get involved in their community. The library is the perfect place to get teens involved! I would love to host a library book discussion over this book and see what ideas the teens come up with!Please welcome Laurie Thompson to GreenBeanTeenQueen! She has a great idea for how libraries can encourage changemakers and be at the forefront of the changemaker revolution! I know I can't wait to think about using Makerspaces as a place for reaching out in the community and I hope others will join in as well!
Making Change in Schools and Libraries
As a parent and kidlit author, I try to keep up with trends in education and library services. Two recent trends in these areas that seem to be popping up all over lately are a focus on STEM topics and the emergence of makerspaces. I think there’s great potential in adding the idea of changemaking—solving real-world problems in the community and beyond—to both of those missions, in schools and in libraries.
As technology continues to advance, the world keeps changing faster and faster, and it has been widely accepted that having a solid foundation in the STEM subjects will be necessary for an individual to thrive in that environment. But, rather than contriving exercises and assigning made-up tasks, perhaps we could instead focus on teaching STEM-related skills in the context of how they can be used to solve actual problems that students care about. What better way to learn and practice new STEM-related skills than by applying them to a clear and relevant purpose? Mastering new skills is that much more satisfying when students can immediately use them to help themselves and others in their own communities. Focusing on empowering people to become changemakers naturally leads them to improving their STEM-related skills, thereby teaching those STEM-related skills in direct, hands-on ways with meaningful applications.
Many schools and libraries across the country are now experimenting with offering makerspaces, places where people can go to create and build together using shared technology, equipment, and tools. Typically, the emphasis is making tangible items that can then be taken home. But what if the same concepts of collaboration and shared resources were applied to changemaking, with an emphasis instead on solutions—projects that can be applied to problems in the greater community? Why not take the image of a typical makerspace user—a hobbyist or an entrepreneur—and extend it to a community activist or social entrepreneur? If the purpose of a makerspace is to allow people to be creative with technology, it seems to make sense for us to encourage and empower makers to create solutions to problems they see around them every day.
We know that schools and libraries exist to provide information and opportunities for connection to others, and both of those goals mean so much more when directed toward a higher purpose. Whatever area you’re thinking about—STEM education, the maker culture, humanities, the arts, etc.—everything jumps to the next level when you give it a direction and apply it to a problem that really matters. Plus, whenever anyone in a community is empowered to become a changemaker, it benefits not just the individual but everyone in the community, and not just once but on an ongoing basis. So, can schools and libraries to start making change a priority within their communities? Most already have in place the resources necessary to enable a changemaking mindset, they just need to increase awareness of those resources and the endless possibilities for their application in the realm of changemaking and allow people to form groups around the causes they care out. In this way, schools and libraries plant the seeds of inspiration and give them room to grow, while enabling students and patrons to bloom into active changemakers within their communities. When a school or library makes change accessible, anyone in that community can become a changemaker. And that’s a very good thing—for everyone.
Follow the Be a Changemaker Tour
By: Jarrett J. Krosoczka,
Blog: the JJK blog
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Bravo to the staff of the Young Readers Center at the Library of Congress! They bring DC-area students to that magnificent space & connect them with authors!
I had such a wonderful time. And with all events at the LOC, it was recorded and will eventually be on their YouTube page. I'll give a shout when that happens!
Avast, me hearties! International Talk Like a Pirate Day be soon upon us. Aye, very soon. Tomorrow, in fact.Since pirates are some of our favorite people, we've reviewed a fair number of fantastic piratical books. Below are summaries of all of 'em to date. If we've done a full review, clicking the titles will take ye to the full review posts for each one:The Mousehunter Written and illustrated by Alex MilwayAges 10 - 12Twelve-year-old Emiline Orelia is mousekeeper for Isiah Lovelock, Old Town's most famous mouse collector and one of its wealthiest citizens. Emiline cares for her own Grey Mouse, named Portly, as well as all of the mice in Lovelock's vast collection. It's not a glamorous job, but Emiline is very good at it, and hopes one day to become a mousehunter, so she can go out and discover new and interesting mice.
If this oh-so-fun little-known holiday, celebrated annually on September 19th, has taken ye by surprise this year, never fear. We scalawags here at Bugs and Bunnies have some fun and bookish ways for teachers an' kids ta celebrate the day.
In Emiline's world, collecting and trading mice is valued above all else - but these are no ordinary field mice. There is the Sharpclaw Mouse: a sneaky, mischievous mouse with huge, dagger-like claws on its front paws that can slice through even wood and metal with ease. Or the Magnetical Mouse: prized by sailors for their bulletlike nose that always points due north. Or the Howling Moon Mouse: best known of all the howler mice, it howls only on nights with a full moon. And this is only to name a few.
When Mousebeard, the most feared pirate on the Seventeen Seas, sinks Lovelock's merchant ship, Lovelock hires Captain Devlin Drewshank to hunt him down and capture him. Emiline overhears the deal and, seeing this as the chance of a lifetime, runs away and boards Drewshank's ship, excited to be on the adventure. The journey is a dangerous one, filled with pirates, and battles, and even sea monsters. And Emiline soon comes to realize that all is not exactly as she thought it was, and that no one she's met is exactly who she thought they were.
By Gregory MoneAges 8 and up Maurice "Fish" Reidy is eleven years old when Shamrock dies. Without their horse, the family can't afford to feed itself, let alone farm their land. Someone has to go into the city to work and send money home. Since Fish is the worst at farming, it's agreed he should be the one to go.
His father arranges for Fish to work for his uncle as a courier. When Fish is entrusted with a mysterious package of coins, he's robbed before he can make the delivery. He tracks down the thief amongst a bunch of pirates, aboard their ship, the Scurvy Mistress. Determined to get that package back and to its rightful recipient, Fish sneaks aboard and joins the pirate crew. He soon learns the coins are more than what they seem, and some of the crew are not as loyal as they'd have their captain believe.
As the Scurvy Mistress sets sail, Fish finds himself on an adventure he never saw coming, with friends he never imagined making. It's a journey that promises to change his life - and that of his family - forever.
How I Became a Pirate
Written by Melinda Long
Illustrated by David ShannonAges 4 - 8Jeremy Jacob was just a boy building a sandcastle on the beach - until the day the pirates came. The pirates were in need of a digger to help bury their treasure. And the captain couldn't help but notice that "He's a digger, he is, and a good one to boot!" The crew heartily agreed, "A good one to boot!" And that is how Jeremy Jacob became a pirate.Here Be Monsters! The Ratbridge Chronicles, Volume 1
Written and illustrated by Alan SnowAges 9 - 12Young Arthur is a resident of Ratbridge. Or, rather, a resident under Ratbridge. He's not sure why he lives below ground, except that his inventor grandfather says that they must. They share this underground world with curious creatures: boxtrolls, cabbageheads, rabbit women, and the rather fearsome trotting badgers.
One day, Arthur gets caught above-ground on one of his nightly forays to the surface world to gather food. The rather nasty Snatcher, his grandfather's old nemesis, has stolen the machine Arthur's grandfather built for him to be able to fly about, and he doesn't know how to get back home.
But Arthur is not without friends. He is helped by the kindly retired lawyer Willbury Nibble, and the underlings who live with him: the boxtrolls Fish, Egg, and Shoe, and the shy cabbagehead Titus. Then there's the pirates-turned-laundry-workers, talking rats and crows, and oh! we can't forget The Man in the Iron Socks. They are all determined to get Arthur back home safely.
Arthur and his friends soon discover that something stinks in Ratbridge, and it isn't just the cheese: Someone has begun hunting Wild English Cheeses again - an outlawed sport. And mysterious goings-on are afoot at the old Cheese Hall. And all the entrances to the underground world have been sealed up. And the boxtrolls and cabbageheads are all disappearing. And the underlings' tunnels are starting to flood. Grandfather is worried, and they all know Snatcher is the root of this mystery. Somehow. Whatever will they do?
Another Whole Nother StoryAs told by (The Incomparable) Dr. Cuthbert Soup
Ages 8 and up Mr. Ethan Cheeseman and his three smart, polite, and relatively odor-free children are back in another adventure - with all-new names, of course. Now that they've got the LVR working (the supposedly secret, yet relentlessly sought-after time machine introduced in A Whole Nother Story), the family is all set to travel back in time to just before their beloved wife and mother Olivia Cheeseman meets her unfortunate end at the hands of those seeking to "acquire" the LVR.
But all does not go according to plan. First, they wind up not in the relatively recent past, as they'd planned, but way back in 1668. Worse, their crash landing has damaged the LVR, and unless they can find the proper parts to repair it, the family has no way to return to their own time in the 21st century. As if that weren't trouble enough, the family finds themselves facing suspicion of witchcraft, battling pirates, and navigating a haunted castle. Add to that their tangle with a dangerous nemesis from their present whom they believed they'd seen the last of, and things don't look good.
Despite these odds, the likeable Cheesemans are not without friends, meeting several helpful souls along the way. But is it enough to help them get out of the distant past, and into the nearer past, so they can save their beloved Olivia Cheeseman, and get back to their own time?
* * *
Well, land lubbers, that's all we got, and we ain't got no more. But keep a weather eye on the Bugs and Bunnies horizon – we've got our eyes on more'n a few other fantastic pirate-y books we'd love ta be postin' about in future.
I would love to invite you to the the first official Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle show, "Turtles In Time", with Nickelodeon and curator, Chogrin.
60 Broadway, Box 8
Brooklyn, NY 11249
More information will be posted as the date get closer.
If you are in NY area, hope you can make it!
Recommended for ages 4-8
In this laugh-out-loud new picture book from South African writer-illustrator Alex Latimer
, we discover that while it's not always easy to be friends with those who are different from us, the result can be worth the extra effort.
Pig is completely flummoxed when, for no reason at all, his nose begins to squeak.
What could it be? Time to get out the medical book, of course, to look for Squeaky Nose Syndrome. But it's not in the book (although the book includes Squeaky Knee Syndrome and others). Finally, after much observation, Pig discovers there's a tiny bug on the end of his nose, waving and squeaking at him. Pig can tell by the bug's friendly squeaking that he wants to be friends, but the activities they try --a tandem bike ride (with Pig pedaling and Bug holding on for dear life), a game of chess, making matching sweaters--don't work very well.
They are about to give up, when Pig has a sudden inspiration--a movie! Bug doesn't eat much popcorn, and he can sit right on Pig's ear. Soon they can think of all kinds of things they could do together! They even forget that one of them is big and the other little, until, in a surprise twist, an elephant comes along to ask if he can be friends, too.
Alex Latimer's whimsical cartoon-style artwork is distinctive, with speech and thought bubbles taken from traditional cartoons. The illustrations are created first as pencil drawings, then digitized and finished with a bright color palette with orange and turquoise dominating. The colorful artwork meshes perfectly with his witty and engaging text. The theme of the challenges of friendship with someone different is a universal one, perhaps particularly appropriate in Latimer's hometown of Cape Town, South Africa, where the "rainbow nation" of post-apartheid still struggles with issues of equality for all its citizens, as we continue to do in the United States. This book would work well in a preschool or early elementary storytime, and could encourage discussions about how we get along with others. I could easily see a writing prompt about imagining activities Pig, Bug, and elephant could do together, for example. Latimer's earlier work, Lion vs. Rabbit
(Peachtree, 2013), in which a clever trickster rabbit outwits a lion, is also a terrific storytime selection.
For more on Pig and Small
, check out these other blog tour stops:
Pablo Picasso said, “Every act of creation is first an act of destruction.” I wasn’t there when he said it, and I have no idea what he meant. He may have been in a bad mood. But I’ve always thought the statement sounded pretty cool. It makes the creative artist seem powerful and iconoclastic, smashing with the hammer of artistic vision the statues of conformity. As writers, we do have that power, if we’re willing to use it.
For our purposes, we’re going to use the quote to begin a discussion of destroying our initial idea. Sometimes the generative idea for a piece is more an avenue to richer ideas than an end in itself. At those times, we must be willing to let go of our initial premise. We have to explode the idea. In some ways, to echo Picasso, this is the first act of creation.
—by Jack Heffron
There are few comments more deflating than when your readers agree that your 25-page story “really begins on page 24.” We’ve worked hard on those first 23 pages. They’re honed and crafted and have a lot of good lines in them. And now we’re supposed to believe they’re a mere prelude to the real story? Sometimes the answer is yes.
At such times, we must remember that we wouldn’t have achieved the real start of the story if we hadn’t written what came before. Our initial premise led us to literary gold, even though now it must be discarded. I had this experience with a story I wrote a few years ago. It concerns a mother and daughter who are lost in Los Angeles, far from their Ohio home. I worked hours on extended dialogues between the characters and took great pains to deliver the exposition in an unobtrusive way. I had conceived the story much like a play, focusing on subtle shifts of character as the mother and daughter conversed. Near the end, two rough-looking guys enter the doughnut shop where the story takes place. My plan was to have a brief encounter with the men and for the foursome to leave together at the end. Several readers said they felt the story spark to life when the two guys enter. But that was at the end! This was a Beckett-like story of tightly woven dialogue, not some tale of women being picked up by truckers. Hel-loo. Tightly woven Beckett-like dialogue here. You folks are missing the point.
I let the story sit for some months. Then I read it with a fresh view. Then I reread the readers’ comments. They were right. My pages of tightly woven, Beckett-like dialogue were cut extensively. I now could see that much of it was self-conscious and tiresome anyway. The tension between the mother and daughter as they sat in a doughnut shop wasn’t enough to carry the story. After five pages or so, the story felt static. In the revised version, the men enter the doughnut shop on the top of page 2. The foursome is out the door by page 7. But those weeks of working the dialogue helped me get to know the mother and daughter, and my knowledge of them led to surprising turns in the revised story—turns I don’t know I’d have imagined if I hadn’t had such a rounded understanding of the characters.
When you find yourself in a similar place, listen to your readers. If only one reader advises to start with the ending, give the piece to a second reader or put it away for a while. Your first reader may be imposing her own vision of your story world and is stating the way she would handle the material. If a second reader offers similar advice, it’s worth considering. If the second reader says something more like, “It seemed kind of slow to me,” ask for specific places where it seemed most interesting. If the reader points to the place the first reader suggested to begin the story, you have a decision to make.
Lopping away a big chunk of story isn’t easy and requires consideration. Put the piece away and move on to a new one for a while. Give the piece at least a month to cool off. Set a date for rereading it. Put it on your calendar. The date will ensure you don’t read it sooner than is helpful, and it also reminds you the piece is waiting. We sometimes forget about our projects for so long that we have trouble bringing them back to life. And so the deadline works in two ways, making sure you don’t return too soon or wait too long.
When you return to the piece, note in the margins where it’s working and where it needs help. Are the readers correct in their assessment of the sections that could be cut or be significantly condensed? Read the piece again, beginning at the place where it might be made to start. Does it make a strong opening? What needs to be pulled from the cut material, and how much can be set free?
It takes a certain amount of courage to cut away pages of a project. Don’t forget to put these pages in an idea file or in a separate document—they may contain the seed of another idea. But when you’ve cut the pages, they’re gone. Don’t agonize over them or rationalize ways of returning them to the story.
Letting a piece go where it wants to go also can be difficult for us. Our initial premise dictates a certain structure, a clear narrative path. And yet, when a piece is well underway, it takes on a will of its own. I don’t talk a lot about characters taking over or telling the writer what to write. I’ve always found such talk a bit fallacious and self-aggrandizing, turning the creative process (and therefore, the creative artist) into an inspired genius in touch with mysterious forces beyond the powers of normal folk.
At the same time, I don’t agree with Nabokov’s famous comment about characters being his “galley slaves.” The creative process isn’t just a mechanized act of will, an application of learned techniques. Our subconscious minds, the mythmaking power of our imaginations, do come into play. Conscious craft and subconscious artistry unite in a piece, granting it a power we can’t always control. I don’t know that it’s a matter of characters taking over. I think it’s that, at some point, the story moves along its own path. It knows what it wants to be, even when we have different ideas about what it should be.
Creative writing is such an intuitive act that it’s tough to make this point in a concrete way. To recognize when you’re forcing a piece away from its natural course, look for places where it begins to sound awkward to your artistic ear. Do you find yourself, at some level, asking whether the character would really do that? Does a scene end with one character having the last word in a way that seems false? Does the analysis of a key event in your personal essay serve more to make you look innocent than to provide an authentic insight? Trust your instincts. Perhaps you’re working against your own piece. You’ve moved beyond your initial premise into territory you may not want to visit, but your uneasiness is suggesting you have to explode that generative idea and move on. Responding to that uneasiness, even consciously feeling it, requires spending enough time on a piece to really hear what it’s telling you.
At first, we may feel uneasy about an aspect of the piece in a faint way. We may feel it sometimes as we read, but at other times, it feels just fine. Sometimes it takes another reader to point it out, causing us to say, “I sort of wondered about that part. It never seemed quite right to me.”
For example, we’re trying to end a scene but nothing works, nothing feels like the natural place to stop. Whatever final lines we write don’t have the ring of finality. If you want to say that the characters have taken over, that they’ve decided they don’t want to stop talking, fine. I would phrase it more along the lines of the story asserting its own course. The falseness enters because we are sticking too closely to our idea of where the story must go. We say to ourselves, “This isn’t an important scene. It’s just a transition, taking me from this event to that event. I can’t spend 10 pages on a transitional scene.” And yet, something about that transitional scene remains unresolved. If we trust our intuition, we allow the scene to find its own resolution. Perhaps a better idea is emerging, but we stick stubbornly to our original concept of the piece, trying not to notice that something about the scene bothers us every time we read it. Something just doesn’t quite feel right.
Try not to see the need to explode your idea, blowing it up and beginning a new course, as a failure. It’s not. It’s another way of perceiving and building upon the possibilities of the original idea. The explosion creates all sorts of wonderful fragments that can be new ideas in themselves.
As in relationships, breaking up with an idea is hard to do. We try one strategy after another, but still the relationship isn’t working. We read books, surf Internet sites, seek counseling. Nothing helps. Something essential is missing, and all the advice and effort in the world won’t bring back the love you once felt. At some point, we need to tell the piece to sit down. We need to summon the courage to say, “Honey, we need to talk.”
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Brian A. Klems is the online editor of Writer’s Digest and author of the popular gift book Oh Boy, You’re Having a Girl: A Dad’s Survival Guide to Raising Daughters.
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Aye, Friday: the day we’ve been waiting for all year, International Talk Like A Pirate Day! Polish your hooks and sand your peg legs! If you are anywhere near Latrobe, Pennsylvania, set a course for The Art Center (819 Ligonier Street) where I’ll talk about illustrating pirates Friday evening from 6:30 – 8:30. If you miss it, I’ll be at The Art Center again Saturday morning 10:00 – noon.
To celebrate the big day, here is an illustration from P is for Pirate—a theater full of movie pirates. They range from freebooters of Hollywood’s Silent Era to today’s swashbuckling sea dogs.
How many can you name? I’ll post the answers tomorrow, by the powers!
By: Maryann Yin,
Blog: Galley Cat (Mediabistro)
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, Anton Yelchin
, Dakota Johnson
, Delroy Lindo
, Ed Harris
, Ethan Hawke
, James Ransone
, John Leguizamo
, Michael Almereyda
, Milla Jovovich
, Penn Badgley
, William Shakespeare
, Add a tag
Filmmaker Michael Almereyda has written and directed a film adaptation of William Shakespeare’s play, Cymbeline. We’ve embedded the full trailer above–what do you think?
According to Indiewire, the cast includes Ethan Hawke, Ed Harris, Milla Jovovich, Penn Badgley, Anton Yelchin, John Leguizamo, Dakota Johnson, James Ransone, and Delroy Lindo. The movie premiered at the Venice Film Festival on September 3rd. A theatrical release date has been set for January 23, 2015.
New Career Opportunities Daily: The best jobs in media.
By: Terry Hooper-Scharf,
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Add a tag
Heroes on the run as super heroes become possessed by a dark force/entity. The world changing about them as the heroes mount a last ditch resistance. Using a pan-dimensional device to get from one point to the other. Eventually defeating the god-like opposition.
Yeah, yeah, yeah. Avengers Vs X-Men
What does Wikipedia say?
Now, let me explain what happened. I was walking through a book store in Bristols Union Street when I saw some, presumably, sale item trades. One was Avengers Vs X-Men and had a price of £5.99. The book has 372 pages and collects Avengers Versus X-Men #0 and 1-12. On Ebay some crooks are asking for £45-70 which is $73-122.00 or 57-97 E:- Am I going to say "no"?
A clue to the answer is: (1) I've ready everything I have so many times its monotonous. (2) I bought the book.
So I sat down at 21:00 hrs and read the book in one long session --finishing about 01:00 hrs since I look at the art and don't just read through! All the way through the book I kept thinking "I'm sure I've seen this all before?"
Now, I have mentioned before that Avengers versus X-Men is not a new idea -1960s, 1970s, 1980s. But this time round it was 'different' but let's not get into that. Somewhere on this blog, if you can find it, you can read it. But let's deal with the 'epic' itself.
Were this another comic company using its own characters then it might have all worked. In fact, part through I just switched off 'Marvel' and continued. Then no real problem. But, seriously, far from being a "landmark pop-culture event" it was more akin to a "landmark slap-it-all-together-and-see-how-it-turns-out" event.
Firstly, we have Prince Namor The Sub-Mariner. I have a run of the 1960s series and just one story from that run wipes this AvX crap into the pan. Namor is treated as one of the "big guns" of the X-Men since he was "Marvels First Mutant" (no, I am NOT going there). Well, in fact he is treated a little like Aquaman is said to have been treated -as a joke.
The Thing and Luke Cage are smashing the crap out of Namor's face (UNDERWATER TO BOOT!!! W T F????) and what does the Scion of Atlantis do? He limply starts saying "Imperius Rex". I am NOT kidding. Cue another fight and Namor again getting the crap beaten out of him. His response? "Imperius Rex" but it gets worse. At another point he is transported by a pan-dimensional/Einstein-Rosenberg Bridge/Boom Tube type device to another location and as he looks up he says...."Imperius Rex".
I say there and, almost stunned. This is the best that such 'Great' writers could come up with? Let me give you an equation here:
Luke Cage invulnerability/strength v Sub-Mariner. Invulnerable, flies, super-super strength =Luke Cage delivered home in a doggy bag. Fact.
Ben Grimm aka The Thing -tough but has never beaten the Hulk. Namor has pummeled the Hulk and even fought him to a stand-still underwater and on solid ground. The Thing -again- has never beaten the Hulk. So...Thing v Sub-Mariner =Thing sent home in a doggy bag. Underwater Cage + Thing =Sub-Mariner delivered back to Fishy Al's in Atlantis is a dogfish bag.
No FECKIN way!!
Namor is treated like some inferior third rate hanger-on. Even with the "phoenix force" he is.....crap.
Very very very poor characterisation. However, as Bendis et al have shown they have no real interest in the characters what can you expect. It's all ego massaging and pay cheques to them.
Dr Strange Master of the Mystic Arts is tricked in the most dumb-ass way by young Illyana and gets creamed. This is, I assume, NOT the Dr Strange who defeated Nightmare, Mephisto and any other number of demons and supernatural threats? NOT the Dr Strange who was involved in the Sise-Neg Genesis? Or any of the major stories you'll find in his Marvel Premiere, Strange Tales or Dr Strange comics? Again, the Sorceror Supreme is a third rate character.
If you are going to throw in so many characters get a writer who CAN handle them --Kurt Busiek for one. Oh, I was forgetting that he has integrity.
The story-telling was very shaky and odd. I actually read this twice which is why it took me so long. Pacing seemed to be all over the place at times. I'll not mention characterisation again. Nova -another cast off character.
In one scene, Wanda The Scarlet Witch is invited back to Avengers Mansion. Here her 'ex'(?) husband, the synthezoid Vision, tears into her telling her it is no longer her home and she is no longer welcome. Now, she was invited back there BY Avengers and Tony Stark (I assume he still owns Avengers Mansion?) stands by as one of his oldest friends is told to "go feck off" but just says to, after: "I get it. I just always liked them together"....well, feck you, Tony.
Oh, and the kicker to this is that (I'm sobbing now -see that tear running down my cheek?) the Vision has his back turned to the others and is 'crying' -how poignant. No, not really. Just a bad...er..."hommage" to the famous "Even An android can cry" panel from Avengers v.1, no.58
When I saw that page (Avengers 58) first it really
had an impact on me. Even decades later I consider that to be one of the
most iconic images from the comic. In A v X it had no impact what-so-ever. I'd call it "naff".
The art. Well, there was not a great deal wrong there. Oddly, John Romita Jnr art shone through. Figures, colour -all seemed to work well. Frank Cho -well, he's Frank Cho! But this book showed the major problem if you have more than one artist. Yes, pick a good artist for pencils (if they use pencils any more) and a good inker. Give them the script and get to work. Yes, I know, two books BUT it's not a race to see how many crises a year you can produce....is it?
I had to keep checking while reading as Illyana looked different depending on who drew her, Emma Frost -ditto. And what the Hell was this costume -lack-of-design that was going on? Okay, Emma Frost (the character with the odd, changing personality) doesn't wear that much BUT it looked like they were trying to outdo Cher's outfit from the "Turn Back Time" video!
The focus of the story, the character Hope, attacks the Serpent Society during a robbery and this line is part of the dialogue:
"You mean your friend with the tail and big spiky arms? Did you guys know those arms are cybernetic? I didn't. Until i cut them off."
And then I got it:
Above: page 61 (in sequence) of Zenith Phase III: War In Heaven, 1988
Hmm. The Lloigor defeat and take over the bodies of heroes. Heroes from other parallels are fighting these creatures as the world changes around them. They use an Einstein-Rosen Bridge to travel from one point to another.
Hey, Wikipedia -whaddaya say?
Zenith Phase III involved a multi-dimensional war against the Lloigor utilizing comic-book characters from other British comics from the '50s, '60s and '70s (using either the actual characters or analogs, depending on their legal status). The Lloigor, close to "ascending" and dominating the universe(s), were waiting for the infinite alternate universes to align and form a universe-sized crystal –- the "Omnihedron". The multi-universal heroes destroed several alternate Earths to introduce a flaw into the Omnihedron and prevent the alignment, but discovered that they had been betrayed by Maximan: the destruction of the worlds removed a flaw already present in the Omnihedron. Only at the last moment did they succeed by destroying the alternate Earth that the Lloigor were using to ascend. Due to the vast cross-dimensional body count incurred in this series, a surviving superhero commented that it may have been "...a pyrrhic victory".
Hmm. A bit like the end to the whole Avengers Versus X-Men thing, you mean?
ran in 2000 AD
and it was criticised by some as consisting of "scratchy" artwork. Sheer and utter crap. Steve Yeowell produced a comic strip and art that is truly "of the time" -Punk, New Wave, Acid House --it's all there. Phase III, from which the art here is taken was probably the
best of the stories. Series writer, Grant Morrison described it, modestly, as "I think it is one of the greatest superhero crossover events ever."
Hmm. It is good. I'd say Crisis On Infinite Earth
at #1 with Zenith
at #2 but that's comparing it to American comics. By itself I think Zenith Phase III can't really be beaten. Yes, I know, there are certain people now calling me all sorts of names! I am not
a big Grant Morrison fan. I like some of his books just as I like some of Alan Moore's...but, no, I just ain't getting into that
You know, there are so many comparisons that I keep thinking "What are the chances?" Well, I have said it before, written it ad nauseum
so let's add a bit more nauseum
to the ad
There are in most genres, 6-7 story plots. Or basic ideas. The difference comes in how you develop and use those genre plots. Yeas, folk can say Zenith was "like" Crisis On Infinite Earths but
it was also quite different.
The gathering of heroes to go on a quest or fight a powerful foe is millenia old -Jason and the Argonauts is possibly the most famous but you also have Homer's The Illiad, set in the last weeks of the Trojan War -sigh. The movie "Troy" in case you don't read the Classics. So that is part of story-telling -whether the ancient or Medieval (such as Arthur and the Round Table) or even the modern super hero. The main hero in a group is also a common theme -Robin Hood, Hector and so on.
Now, unless I want to get out all my old 2000 ADs and read the Zenith strips the difference is that Crisis was collected into a trade paperback so you can read it in one book. Avengers Versus X-Men was collected into a trade (unbelievably there is a 140pp version with "expanded fight scenes"???). Zenith, however, has only appeared in no longer available Titan Books (someone is 'willing to sell' one of these for £400!!). And Rebellion Studios released a very -VERY- over-priced collection, and I know there are plans for single volumes but....
Off topic. Back to topic.
Having read the entire Avengers Versus X-Men trade I can say that it is NOT that well written considering the writers are over-hyped as "Today's modern masters of comic book story-telling". If that's true "We're fecked, mate!" Characterisation is not good. As I've already noted, if this were an Indie comic company book I'd be more impressed but it isn't. This is from what used to be Marvel Comics. And they still use the "House of Ideas" blurb?!
It's what happens if you have five hyped egoes who then get their stories turned into a script by one of their number -Bendis in this case. And here is what I like as the punchline for a story that comes out as passable.Two Assistant EditorsOne Associate EditorOne Editor
(come on, Tom Brevoort -who I used to respect- couldn't edit his lunch!)One Consulting EditorOne Editor In ChiefOne Chief Creative Officer snicker
One Executive Producer
That's five -FIVE- editors! "Chief Creative Officer" -if ever a job title said "Yes- man -free lunches" it's that one. "Executive Producer".....WTF??? Did he have the "casting couch" for the characters cus that might explain WHY Namor was treated like crap. He ain't biting the pillow for anyone. He likes his women! Executive Producer: "You don't put out you don't get, Namor" Namor:"Im...per...ius....Rex"
I may be a bit cruel. If you don't have any interest in the decades long history of the characters and a good read that won't challenge you then this is it. I'm sure many did enjoy this book. Really, people, do yourself a favour and go buy Avengers Forever by Kurt Busiek (a GOOD writer) and Carlos Pachecco -a great artist! You'll see epic story-telling.
There's that other book.... a 330 pages thick epic somewhere -gods, sci fi, robots, super heroes, magic, alien invasion, Lovecraftian dark old ones...no. Can't remember what it's called again.
Ah -THAT'S THE JOHNNY!
Editor Terry Hooper-Scharf
Writer Terry Hooper-Scharf
Penciller Terry Hooper-Scharf
Inker Terry Hooper-Scharf
Lettewring Terry Hooper-Scharf :-)
Design Terry Hooper-Scharf
Publisher Terry Hooper-Scharf
Medication Terry Hooper-Scharf
Black & White
STAND ALONE BOOK -no tie-ins to buy!!Price: £15.00
It begins slowly with Earth’s heroes going about their daily tasks –fighting a giant robot controlled by a mad scientist’s brain , attackers both human and mystical -even alien high priests of some mysterious cult and their zombie followers and, of course, a ghost and a young genius lost in time.
Ships in 3–5 business days
But there is a huge alien Mother-ship near the Moon and strange orange spheres chase some of Earth’s heroes who vanish into thin air –are they dead?
Then black, impenetrable domes cover cities world-wide.
Alien invasion of Earth!
A war between the Dark Old Gods and the pantheons that followed!
Warriors from Earth’s past having to battle each day and whether they die or not they are back the next day!
And no one suspects the driving force behind the events that could cause destruction and chaos throughout the multi-verse —assaulted on all fronts can Earth’s defenders succeed or will they fail...is this truly the end?
And, crypticaly, might I add -Andrew Hope should remember this: The Wonderland Effect
A CAT NAMED TIM by John Martz is sort of like Richard Scarry for the more mature set. It's a series of stories of adorable and endearing characters such as "Doug & Mouse, Connie (a girl with big glasses), Mr. and Mrs. Hamhock," and of course, "Tim" - all in one book. It also reminds me a bit of Hello, Mr. Hulot in it's mini-story, yet graphic style approach. John stopped by to tell us more about it...
Q. John, Congratulations on A CAT NAMED TIM! How did the book come to be?
A. Thanks! I have illustrated a handful of picture books for kids, and Annie at Koyama Press told me she was interested in publishing comics for kids and young readers, and asked if I’d be interested in something like that. My kids books up to this point have all been written by someone other than myself, so I jumped at the chance to do a book for kids in which I was both the author and illustrator.
Click the image to see a larger version in a new window.
Q. Koyama Press does funky graphic novels and artsy books for a wide age-range. Some of their work is definitely not for kids, while other works are for the kids at heart - like yours. How did you hook up with Koyama Press?
A. I first met Annie at the Toronto Comic Arts Festival. We had emailed a few times before then, but hadn’t met. She expressed interest in my comics, and we’ve since worked on a few projects together, including The Big Team Society League Book of Answers, which is a collection of jam comics, and certainly not for young children. My style is heavily influenced by picture books and newspaper comic strips and Saturday morning cartoons, and while I don’t always do kid-friendly work, I do think I come somewhat naturally to it, and working with Annie and Ed Kanerva has been a joy.
Q. Who do you consider your target audience?
A. I didn’t have a target audience in mind when I began working on the book. I wanted primarily to take the improvisational process I learned from working on both Team Society League and my comic strip Machine Gum, and apply it to a kid-friendly cast of characters. As the book took shape I saw potential to accommodate children who can’t yet read or are just learning; the scenarios and gags are fairly uncomplicated, and it’s mostly wordless. The minimal dialogue there is is more textural than textual, and I hope that the illustrations and scenes allow children to make up their own stories and explanations for what’s going on.
Click the image to see a larger version in a new window.
Q. There are very few words in A CAT NAMED TIM, mostly series of illustrations with very clever twists. Can you describe your format?
A. The book is primarily a series of double-page spreads, each one an independent gag or scenario. I don’t know if I can easily sum up the format other than to say that I enjoy playing with the formal elements of comics, and trying different panel layouts and different ways of directing the reader through an image or a series of images. I’m particularly drawn to the idea that comics don’t need to be read solely panel-by-panel, and that inviting a reader to examine the page as a whole, and see different moments in time simultaneously, is something unique to comics and illustration, and a fun thing to exploit.
Q. What is your illustration method and how do you conceptualize the stories behind your narratives?
A. Each scenario started in my sketchbook as super-rough barely-legible-to-anyone-but-me thumbnail drawing. A sketchbook allows me to get ideas out my head quickly and with minimal fuss. These thumbnails are often only a starting point, and I like to save some of the final problem-solving, details, and specifics for when I’m working on the finished art.
The illustrations for this book were drawn digitally in Photoshop. The process is similar to the way I learned to draw comics, in which I start with a “pencilled” line drawing of the page that acts as the skeleton of the finished artwork. I put together a palette of colours for the entire book, and I do a quick low-res colour study for each page before starting the final art so that the painting/colouring process itself, which is mostly done on a single layer, involves little to no thinking as all the planning has been taken care of.
Click the image to see a larger version in a new window.
Q. It's truly an unusual book, and yet one that I think will really grow on people. Kids will love studying all the fun things you include in your illustrations. What were your influences with all the little details going on?
A. You mention Richard Scarry in your introduction, and his books were a huge influence, of course. I loved his books as a kid, and I could spend hours poring over all the little details and miniature dramas in his busy pages. I have so many other influences, but for this book a short list would have to include Richard Scarry, Jim Henson, vintage Sesame Street, Sergio Aragonés, Where’s Waldo? books, Hanna-Barbera, Super Mario games, and Pee-Wee’s Playhouse.
Q. How are you getting the word out about A CAT NAMED TIM?
A. The book debuts/debuted at the Small Press Expo in Bethesda Maryland, and I’m doing a joint launch party with Britt Wilson for her Koyama book Cat Dad, King of the Goblins at the kids comic store Little Island in Toronto on October 26.
I’m grateful to be published by Koyama Press. Annie has fostered a lot of community and good will in the comics world, and that sort of thing (in addition to putting out good books) goes a long way in terms of generating buzz and support.
You can also follow me on Twitter, @johnmartz, which is my social media platform of choice.
Q. I look forward to seeing more from you in the future!
Enjoy this great video about John and his work (or CLICK HERE if the video gives you any issues):
John has also been very active with the TD Summer Reading Club in Canada.
Koyama Press has kindly agreed to send a free copy of A CAT NAMED TIM to one of my lucky followers. Must live in the US or Canada to win. Enter below:
You already know that Atria Books is a big fan of Accidents of Marriage
, the latest book from bestselling author Randy Susan Meyers, and they are not the only ones!
Just take a look:A People Magazine
Book Pick!Library Journal
says “In successive, sensitively written chapters, Ben, Maddy, and Emmy pour out their heartache and despair, eliciting compassion and high hopes from caring readers.” Read the full review.The Star Tribune
calls Accidents of Marriage
“compelling,” praising Randy for her “deft exploration of the borders of abuse and the aftermath of tragedy, the triumphs and disappointments of recovery, and the possibilities of faith and forgiveness.” Read the full review.The Boston Globe
raves “A complex, captivating tale… In Accidents of Marriage
, Randy Susan Meyers explores a marriage undermined by one partner’s rage and the other’s complicity. The subject, emotional abuse, is usually addressed as a component of domestic violence, but Meyers’s novel explores how destructive emotional abuse by itself can be… Meyers deftly deploys a large cast of major and minor characters in telling this complex story. Her painstaking description of both emotional abuse and brain injury are impressive. Accidents of Marriage
… rewards readers in deeply satisfying ways.” Read the full review.
In a starred review, Kirkus
called it “beautifully written, poignant and thought-provoking.” Read the full review.
************Have you read it? What did you think? Share your reviews of Accidents of Marriage with Atria Books at:AtriaNewsRoom@simonandschuster.com
************RANDY SUSAN MEYERS
Randy Susan Meyers is the author of The Murderer’s Daughters
, a finalist for the Massachusetts Book Award, named a “Must Read Book” and one of the “2011 Ten Best Works of Fiction” by the Massachusetts Center for the Book.
Her writing is informed by her work with abusers and victims of domestic violence, as well as her experience with youth impacted by street violence. She lives with her husband in Boston, where she teachers for the Grub Street Writer’s Center.
Accidents of Marriage by Randy Susan Meyers is available now
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Hi all–I’m so excited to help announce the release of Margo Kelly’s WHO R U REALLY? I love to hear about “path to publication” stories and Margo was kind enough to share her experience with us today. After you read about her inspiring journey, don’t forget to enter the Goodreads contest below…and then go check out Margo’s book!
Margo Kelly’s Path to Publication
In January, 2009, I decided I wanted to change careers and pursue a long forgotten dream of becoming a published author. Sound familiar? I purchased Janet Evanovich’s HOW I WRITE and Writer’s Digest’s GUIDE TO LITERARY AGENTS, and I began my research into the industry.
Six months later, I finished my first manuscript, MANIFESTED, and I started sending out query letters. The rejections flooded in. I had tough skin. I knew rejections were part of the process, but one of the form letters pushed me over the edge. I struck a match and sent the rejection up in flames. (Yes, that was back in the days of snail mail.) Then I took a deep breath and went back to querying.
I also started writing my next manuscript. I read more books on the craft of writing, subscribed to magazines and journals that would help me better my skills, wrote flash fiction to tighten my story telling, and connected with two great critique partners that I met through online communities.
A year later, in August, 2010, I had finished my second manuscript, THE EDUCATION OF THIA, and began to send out query letters. The requests for partials and fulls came in right away! I was so excited! But then rejections followed. I paid attention to the agents’ feedback, because I wanted to improve the story and make it saleable, but it was tricky, because while one said, “The main character is too naive” another said, “The main character sounds too adult.” I revised none-the-less.
With a bright and shiny polished version of the story, I headed off to my first writer’s conference. I met up with my critique partner, Melissa, and we had an absolute blast. Plus, two agents at the conference requested my full manuscript, and I just knew one of these fabulous agents was going to offer me a contract. Yes-sir-ee!! I went home too excited to work on any writing. I was waiting to hear from the agents.
More than a month later, I sent very polite follow-up emails to the two agents from the conference. Both responded, explaining how busy they were (of course, I understood, I wanted them to take care of their current clients first, that made sense). But I was demoralized. I couldn’t seem to start a new manuscript. So I pulled out MANIFESTED and dusted it off. I figured I could work on rewriting it and improving it until I found my writing mojo again.
Three months later, one of the conference agents emailed to tell me she’d decided to shelve my manuscript, unread. She was no longer looking for new clients. By the summer of 2011, the second conference agent emailed and apologized for the delay in reading my manuscript. She said the writing was great, but it didn’t excite her enough to offer me representation.
My tough skin had been broken, and I wasn’t sure I wanted to continue down this publishing path. Then I was diagnosed with a rare 12mm lesion in the middle of my brain. After a lot of time and money, the specialists decided there was nothing they could do about it. I had to reevaluate my life, my priorities, and my goals. What if my time was limited here on earth? How would I want to spend it? Through self-evaluation, I realized writing was still important to me, and as a result I refocused my efforts with great fervor.
On November 11, 2011, I sent out eleven queries for BUT HE LOVES ME (formerly known as The Education of Thia). A dream agent from my dream agency requested a partial the same day (it was a Friday). Monday, she requested the full. Wednesday, she requested a phone call. Thursday, we discussed ideas for revisions. I loved all of her suggestions, and my mojo exploded! She said if I could accomplish these revisions, she’d offer me formal representation. I wanted it! I got to work, and I was on fire! I sent her the revised manuscript about a week and a half later (I know, it sounds like I rushed it, but I’m telling you: I was ON FIRE!!). She read it right away and requested more revisions. I got right back to work. I was still excited about the process, and I was thrilled to think that someone had caught the “vision” of my story. While I was busy working on more revisions, she surprised me and mailed me a contract! YES! Not to mention, in the time I was working with her on revisions, other agents had requested partials and fulls. Out of respect, I contacted them to let them know I’d received an offer. One of the agents told me I’d be nuts to not accept the offer from this great agency.
On December 12, 2011, I signed with Brianne Johnson of Writers House. I’ve been smiling ever since, because I have the best agent from the best agency.
From there, we finalized revisions and made another title change before sending the manuscript out on submission. It took a while to sell, partly because the main character’s age put the story on the fence between middle-grade and young adult. However, Jacquelyn Mitchard of Merit Press (an imprint of F+W Media) saw the “merit” in the story and made an offer. With another title change and more revisions, the book, WHO R U REALLY?, will finally be published on September 18, 2014.
Now I’m polishing my next manuscript, and I’ve already started writing another. The publishing process certainly requires persistence and patience, but the future is so exciting.
Margo Kelly is a native of the Northwest and currently resides in Idaho. A veteran public speaker, she is now actively pursuing her love of writing. Who R U Really? is her first novel. Margo welcomes the opportunities to speak to youth groups, library groups, and book clubs.
Follow her online:
September 26, 2014 – 5pm – Book Signing at Hastings in Meridian, Idaho
September 27, 2014 – 4pm – Book Signing at Hastings on Overland in Boise, Idaho
October 3, 2014 – 7pm – Book Launch Party at Hyde Park Books in Boise, Idaho
October 11, 2014 – 4pm – Book Signing at Barnes & Noble in Boise, Idaho
Who R U Really?
When Thea discovers a new role-playing game online, she breaks her parents’ rules to play. And in the world of the game, Thea falls for an older boy named Kit whose smarts and savvy can’t defeat his near-suicidal despair. Soon, he’s texting her, asking her to meet him, and talking in vague ways about how they can be together forever. As much as she suspects that this is wrong, Thea is powerless to resist Kit’s allure, and hurtles toward the very fate her parents feared most. Who R U Really? will excite you and scare you, as Thea’s life spins out of control.
“Kelly has painted a realistic picture of how a smart girl can get caught up in something dangerous online. … Guaranteed to give readers goosebumps.” — School Library Journal. (http://www.bookverdict.com)
“Thea’s mistakes, while frustrating to encounter, are frighteningly plausible, and the relationships among characters are well–fleshed out, especially between mother and daughter. Kelly’s first novel is a suspenseful page-turner.” — Kirkus Reviews (www.kirkusreviews.com)
Who R U Really? will be published in hardcover and e-book versions by Merit Press (F+W Media) on September 18, 2014.
Win a copy of Who R U Really? on Goodreads here: https://www.goodreads.com/giveaway/show/103716-who-r-u-really
Barnes & Noble