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1. Dick Whittington and His Cat (1950)

Dick Whittington and His Cat. Told and cut in linoleum by Marcia Brown. 1950. Simon & Schuster. 32 pages. [Source: Bought]

First sentence: Long ago in England there lived a little boy named Dick Whittington. Dick's father and mother died when he was very young, and as he was too small to work, he had a hard time of it.

Premise/plot: Dick Whittington, an orphan, goes to London to seek his fortune--or at least a somewhat better life. It won't be easily come by that's for sure! He eventually finds work in the home of a merchant as a cook's assistant. With his one penny, he happens to buy a cat who is an excellent mouser. The cat will be the key to it all: his eventual success.
Not long after this, Mr. Fitzwarren had a ship ready to sail. He called all his servants into the parlor and asked them what they chose to send to trade. All the servants brought something but poor Dick. Since he had neither money nor goods, he couldn't think of sending anything. "I'll put some money down for him," offered Miss Alice, and she called Dick into the parlor. But the merchant said, "That will not do. It must be something of his own." "I have nothing but a cat," said Dick. "Fetch your cat, boy," said the merchant, "and let her go!" 
My thoughts: Loved the story. Dick Whittington and His Cat received a Caldecott Honor in 1951. I can't say that I particularly "liked" the illustrations. (But I didn't dislike them either.) I enjoyed the story more though.

Have you read Dick Whittington and His Cat? What did you think? Do you have a favorite Caldecott or Caldecott Honor book? 


© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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2. Flowers Study Guide

When we study living things, we like to include four topics:

  • morphology
  • life cycles
  • habitats
  • relationships with humans

The morphology (study of the form) of flowers includes the parts of the flower and what each part does, as well as the different kinds of flowers. Start by introducing or reviewing the morphology of a flower:

  • Download The Parts of a Flower Powerpoint Presentation for a clear introduction to the parts of a flower.
  • Have students bring flowers to class and dissect them. (If you are in a setting in which students may not have easy access to wildflowers or flowers in their own gardens, bring a bouquet of mixed flowers to class.) Use the American Museum of Natural History’s Flower Anatomy page if you don’t have a diagram in your science text. Have students recreate the diagram with the parts of their flowers.
  • Create a class Pinterest board showing as many different kinds of flowers as possible. Challenge students to find the petals and stamens of each flower. This can be tricky — for example, the large white flowers of the dogwood flower are actually bracts (like the poinsettia) and the petals are the tiny structures in the center.

dogwood

The life cycles of flowering plants generally consist of

  • pollination of the flower>
  • formation of seeds>
  • germination of seeds>
  • growth leading to flowers>
  • pollination again

Here are some resources on the life cycle of the plants:

Probably the best possible way to study the life cycle of the plant is to plant one. In Tech Lessons on Plants you can simulate the life cycle in Google Earth, or you can find a bean growing project in  Jack and the Beanstalk.

Flowers grow in many different habitats. If you’re using the Pinterest board idea, you might want to add separate boards for flowers found in different habitats, such as mountains, deserts, tropical and temperate forests, prairies, and cities. However, these distinctions are often only relevant to wildflowers. Not only are flowers cultivated in plenty of habitats which are not their natural habitats, but they are also carefully bred to live in different habitats from their own.

Gardens are sort of like zoos for plants; most gardens, whether at your school or your students’ homes or a large botanical garden, showcase plants from many different places. Find a native plant garden in your area and visit it. How many of the flowers there are familiar to your class?

Use online research or field trips to identify ten plants that are native to  your region. Plan a garden for your school using these plants. Maybe you can really plant the garden!

Flowers have a complex relationship with humans. Flowers show up in our homes and gardens, artwork and objects like clothing and wallpapers, and in our songs and stories. Here are a few choices for exploring this relationship:

  • Use coloring pages of the state flowers to create a paper quilt of the United States. Divide the coloring pages among students and ask each student to find out why the flower was chosen by the state.
  • Traditionally, flowers had a variety of meanings, so that people could communicate in their secret language. If you sent your friend a bunch of Bells of Ireland, it meant, “Good luck!” Check out the Language of Flowers page from Texas A&M, and see how practical this kind of communication might be. Decide how the main characters of the literature you’re currently reading would have put together a bouquet that showed their true feelings.
  • Flowers turn up in literature sometimes. Discuss the flowers in Sleeping Beauty as an example. Then find examples of flowers that are important in books you’re reading, popular songs, and movies the class has seen.

The post Flowers Study Guide appeared first on FreshPlans.

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3. Brain Pickings - KU2015


Someday blogging is SO easy.  My inbox delivered this post from Brain Pickings about 15 picture book biographies.  The illustrations for the Pablo Neruda biography are so vibrant.  Check the post here.


AND - tada - you can look at my KU2015 book list here.  The Kutztown University Children's Literature Conference was wonderful yesterday.  I love talking about books with other readers and authors.

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4. Stuck Rubber Baby at 20


Before 1995, Howard Cruse was best known as an underground comix artist, first coming to prominence with Barefootz in the 1970s, with his editorship of Gay Comix in the early 1980s, and then hitting a real stride with the Wendel comics in The Advocate throughout the '80s. Wendel ended in 1989, though, and Cruse began a major new project, his first graphic novel, Stuck Rubber Baby, released by the DC Comics imprint Paradox Press. It gained notice and won awards, but never had the breakout success of something like Maus, Persepolis, or Fun Home, though I would argue that it is at least close to equal in merit.

Stuck Rubber Baby is a true graphic novel — unlike many other books that get that label, it was not conceived in pieces or published serially; it was always intended to be a long, unified narrative. It tells the story of a man named Toland Polk, mostly through his memories of growing up in Alabama during the early 1960s as a white guy who doesn't really know what he wants from the world or his life, coming to grips both with the civil rights movement and his own homosexuality. Partly in an attempt to try to cure his gay desires, he ends up in a relationship with a fiery college student, activist, and singer named Ginger, and she becomes pregnant. Meanwhile, protests against segregation and racism are growing more and more ferocious, and the white establishment fights back, with tragic, horrifying results. Throughout it all, Toland meets queer characters of various races and ages, and finally decides both that political action is necessary and that he can't pretend to be heterosexual any longer. This primary story is framed as the memories of Toland thirty years later, apparently in a stable relationship with a man, living a solidly bourgeois urban gay life, but still haunted by the past. Other characters' stories and fates are woven through Toland's memories, creating a complex view of this past and his remembering of it.

I've had a weird relationship with Stuck Rubber Baby over the course of its lifetime: I looked through it when it was first published and decided it wasn't for me; I read the whole book sometimes in the early 2000's and liked it but didn't really engage with it; I recently read it very carefully and closely, which led to something like awe. (The last time I had as powerful a reading experience was when I read J.M. Ledgard's Submergence over a year ago.)




Many people I know — otherwise intelligent people of impeccably refined taste — don't like Stuck Rubber Baby. Some claim to appreciate it, but to be put off by its artwork, which they invariably describe as ugly or "just plain bad." The art is one thing that caused me to bounce off the book when I first tried to read it sometime in 1996 or 1997, when I saw it at the old Shakespeare & Co. bookstore on lower Broadway in Manhattan and spent some time reading through it. (I used to go there when I was bored, or wanted to get away from people, or just felt like hanging out in a bookstore. They were open till midnight and didn't seem to mind if I sat there and read without buying anything.) The images seemed to me then unappealing, cramped, dark. I was also put off by the story's historical setting — I didn't want to read about Alabama in the 1960s, I wanted to read about contemporary New York queers.

I returned to the book in the early 2000's when I found a used copy somewhere and was thinking about doing an essay on various literary representations of AIDS activism. Though not at all directly about AIDS activism, I suspected (rightly) that it was relevant to that topic. I never got far with what I was writing, though, as life and other projects intervened.

My most recent experience of reading Stuck Rubber Baby was for a course on graphic narratives that I'm taking for my Ph.D. (this is my final term of coursework). It may have been that context that helped open up the book for me, since it required me to read it carefully and deliberately, but I think the more significant factor is simply age. Much of what concerned Cruse when he wrote Stuck Rubber Baby is now of more concern to me than it was when I encountered the book earlier: questions of memory and experience, of looking back on youthful political awakening, of trying to save something of a younger self for the present age, of making sense of an upbringing in a place very different from New York City, of queer identity.

Queer, indeed. Something that struck me especially forcefully as I read the book this time is how well it captures the feeling of queerness in every sense of the word, even among friends and supportive family members, a feeling that is not only a matter of desire, but is also inflected by the pitfalls and obstacles of making sense of an individual identity within a group — knowing always that there will be something strange about you to anyone, no matter how similar they may seem in experiences or yearnings.

Perhaps that's why the art didn't bother me this time; indeed, for once the art seemed absolutely right for the material. The human figures look like mannequins or weird, plump wax sculptures. The pages are mostly cramped, the panels claustrophobic. (That effect is enhanced by the decision to print the book in a small format so that it would be displayed on bookstores' fiction shelves rather than in the humor section. I think the art suffers for this, and it would be nice to have a larger format edition, but the cramped feeling is certainly heightened.) The shading often makes it difficult to distinguish skin tones, a powerful effect in a book about the civil rights era, where race seems so obvious and incontrovertible to the characters. Cruse draws an off-kilter world, a sometimes disturbing world, a world where cartoonish figures must find some way to reconcile themselves to very uncartoonish violence and horror.

It's an extremely talky book. The few panels without text stand out, and their presence inevitably feels either like a relief or a shock. The characters are constantly trying to talk their way through things, to find the right words, and more often than not they fail. At the same time, other characters wield words as weapons, with deadly consequences. Again and again, the book returns to ideas of representation and performance, of how identity, performance, and memory can merge or split. Sometimes words help, but often they do not — they accumulate, obfuscate, crowd out action and sight. It's significant that the book becomes more quiet at the end, as Toland finds ways to reconcile himself to the past, to move forward while preserving memory, to admit his own failures and horrors and not simply reduce them to stories he tells over and over again. Music weaves through his memories, and it is music that accompanies him in the end — "There's something I wanna show ya," he says, and the panels open up, the music weaves through the images, and we are left with the silent peace of a city snow storm.

I was struck during this reading at how easily Stuck Rubber Baby moves through its characters' timelines, how well, for the most part, it prevents us from getting confused as stories are told within stories, memories within memories. The structure overall is basically linear for the major events, but within sequences (and sometimes even individual pages) the movement is more fluid and associational. We're set up for this structure right from the first page, which introduces many of the visual motifs that will reappear throughout the book: the Kennedys, protests, dead bodies... In the first three pages, we move from Toland as an adult in the mid-1990s to Toland as a child and young teenager to Toland and his sister shortly after their parents died in a car accident. The fourth and fifth pages then circle back to develop some of what was glimpsed earlier, then use this new information to bring in Ginger standing with Toland at the March on Washington, where she asks him, "Who're you lookin' at?" to which Toland replies, "Just someone I used to know." (Despite all their talking, what matters most often is what and how these characters look at the world. Also, what is shown and not shown: Cruse is very careful to depict some events and not depict others.) It's an exquisite moment, encapsulating so much of what the book wrestles with, giving poignance to a scene early in the story, and also beginning to develop the characters who will be central to the primary story.

One of the things that makes the Wendel comics so delightful is Cruse's almost infallible sense of short story form. He produced those comics very quickly, often right up against deadline, and yet more often than not they have a balance of elements that produces far more resonance than many longer works. Reading Stuck Rubber Baby, you would hardly know that Cruse had never before written any comic much longer than 10 pages, and he melds his short story skills to the longer form by allowing the flow of memory to guide the overall narrative, and so the various short sequences can all work separately on their own toward the larger goal, allowing the book as a whole to leave and return to sequences much as the Wendel comic did, though now when he wrote it, Cruse could edit both backwards and forwards in a way he could not do when publishing a new installment every couple weeks. Thus, Stuck Rubber Baby has a far more intentional, unified form than the Wendel collections. (That said, the Wendel collections are more fun — their improvisatory energy is, for me at least, pure delight.)

Cruse began the Wendel comics just as people began to recognize the full horror of the AIDS crisis, and reading Wendel in chronological order is a particularly powerful experience because what begins as a light, slice-of-life comedy can't help but reckon with life in an ever more terrifying world, a world of yuppies and Reagan and plague. There's a remarkable Wendel comic from the fall of 1987 in which Wendel and friends go to a big AIDS demonstration in Washington. The majority of the story is given over to a song by a character named Glenn, who has taken on the responsibility of entertaining everybody on the bus from NYC to DC, and who is, he says, wearing the same gown he wore during the night of the Stonewall riots. The comic ends thus:


Cruse doesn't typically use photographic images in his comics, but here reality invades in the form of the Reagan administration and its cronies. The place and date are specific, and the sense of historical continuity is strong — by having Glenn wear the clothes he wore during the Stonewall riots, Cruse insists on the importance of the current moment for gay history and gay liberation.

AIDS is not explicitly mentioned in Stuck Rubber Baby, but it's an integral context for the story. The book was published before the advent of the drug "cocktail" that helped make HIV, for some people, a chronic, manageable disease rather than a death sentence. Gay people of all backgrounds and beliefs had to come together for political action because their lives were on the line. Silence equals death. Cynicism equals death. Complaisance equals death. In Stuck Rubber Baby, Toland learns a similar lesson. The connection between Toland's world in the 1960s and his world 30 years later did not need to be spelled out to readers in 1995, and the only reference making the connection is a single, tiny, unobtrusive image in a small panel on page 207:


Behind the picture of Ginger holding the baby before it is given up for adoption hangs the iconic "Silence = Death" ACT UP poster.

Stuck Rubber Baby is, then, a story of political awakening, but it was written as a call to consciousness, not a comforting nostalgia trip. In the mid-'90s, it was hard to maintain hope. Bill Clinton did not seem to be a significant improvement over George Bush on AIDS policy or gay rights, the Catholic Church was still vehemently anti-gay and anti-safe-sex (I participated with ACT UP in a small protest against the Pope's visit to New York in, I think, 1996), and progress still seemed far off.

Coming of age queer for my generation meant assuming that you had a high risk of dying young. I think one of the reasons I found Stuck Rubber Baby so powerful when I read it this time was that Toland's struggle against his homosexual desires, his fear that they were not just aberrant but deadly, and his experience of people being killed because of those desires, connected with my own memories of coming to awareness of desires that in all likelihood would lead to a terminal disease. Because of the AIDS crisis and because of how that crisis was represented in the news media and spoken of by the people I knew, queer identity felt to me like a doomed fate. Though I still carry traces of that feeling, and will probably never shed it, given that that was how I first learned to see myself, it doesn't stand in the foreground the way it used to, it doesn't create as much of a sense of being inevitably besieged, of needing to live fatalistically, of forgetting about any future. There is a chasm between that mid-'90s world and now, even though so much of the mid-'90s feels to me like it was just a couple years ago. Toland seems to feel that way about the '60s: he carries its traces and hauntings inside himself, and it isn't until the end that he learns what to do with it all. I'm still learning, myself, what to do with a sense of lived history, when what feels like yesterday also feels like multiple lifetimes ago, and when the terrors of youth still sometimes scream out in the quiet night of adulthood.

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5. Countdown to STRANGE SKIES

I can’t believe it’s almost April 28th which means this:

strange skies

is almost here! I’m doing a countdown over on my Facebook author page, where I’m sharing a fun tidbit each day leading up to the release. Today, I mention a similarity I have with my main character, Tora. I’ll also be giving away prizes so check it out!

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6. Traveling Light on the Writer’s Journey

Travel LightThe writer’s journey. The hero’s journey. Springtime and the open road.

Road stories!

I’m itching to recount my stories of the road—in Africa, India, Pakistan, Alberta, Samoa, Greece, Scotland, Italy, the high Arctic, New Zealand.

In my last post we didn’t get far before I ran into the bees.

Next up is an encounter with “simba” on the Hell Run in Tanzania.

But first a short detour to the UK where the Writers’ Village is graciously hosting my guest blog about “traveling light.”

If you’re a writer with a toolbox over-heavy with tips about story mechanics, then here are more tips! To lighten your load.

Traveling light on your writer’s journey—THIS WAY...

And after you’ve read my Reece’s Piece, join the discussion already in progress…

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7. Some Great Reads In Various Genres


WEEKLY INSPIRATION:
"Know yourself.  Don't accept your dog's admiration as conclusive evidence that you are wonderful."
~Ann Landers



Congrats to our MEMBER OF THE MONTH: Rebecca Reilly, author of HAUNTING MEGAN and DIARY OF A CHRISTIAN WOMAN!!
Rebecca Reilly

 Please check out our website to learn more about this talented RRBC Member!


Congrats to this week's MEMBER OF THE WEEK: Renee Hand, author of some awesome Children's books, like THE MYSTERY OF THE CIRCUS FOR HIRERenee is a very supportive member of other authors and she is appreciated for that support! 
Renee Hand
As Member Of The Week, Renee will get to choose a free book from the Kathryn C. Treat Book Giveaway Treasure Chest!!


Congrats to this week's #PUSHTUESDAY Winner: John Fioravanti!!
John Fioravanti
A huge THANK YOU to all those that supported him on his special day!!


Congrats to our BOOKS OF THE MONTH!!


LUCK OF THE IRISH by Liz Gavin




Please show your support to these deserving members. You can do so by helping us promote them on social media, and also by purchasing/reviewing their books. Remember, those that give support will receive support!!

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8. सकारात्मक सोच

B positive- cartoon

घना अंधेरा था गरीब बच्चों के पास कोई बिजली का उपकरण नही था डर था कि गहन जंगल से बाहर  कैसे जाएगें पर हिम्मत नही हारी कुछ जुगुनूओ को पकड लिया राह दिखाने के लिए और निडर बेखौफ चलते चले गए और घर पहुंच गए… अगर डर के मारे वही बैठ जाते तो हो सकता है कि कोई जानवर ही खा जाता पर एक सकारात्मक सोच और सूझ बूझ भरे आईडिया ने दिशा दिखाई … हमे भी जिंदगी मे हमेशा सकारात्मक सोच लेकर चलना चाहिए और देखना  रास्ते मिल ही जाएगें …

The post सकारात्मक सोच appeared first on Monica Gupta.

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9. प्लीज!! राहुल जी

rahul_gandhi

अगर मुझे राहुल गांधी जी से एक बार मिलने का मौका मिले तो मैं यही रिक्वेस्ट करुगी कि प्लीज आप भाषण उसी तरह दीजिए जैसा कि आप अपने मेक ओवर से पहले दिया करते थे.. ज्यादा तेज बोलना’ चिल्लाना आपकी पर्सनेलिटी पर सूट नही करता .जिस परिवार से आप है और जो आपकी सोच है निश्चय तौर पर वही ठहराव, गम्भीरता, मुस्कान और प्यार से बोलना ही आप पर सूट करता है. हर एक के बोलने का अपना अपना स्टाईल होता है और आपका वही स्टाईल बहुत अच्छा था . आप ज्यादा तीखे और आक्रमक होकर लोगो से मजाक उडवाने का कारण न बने प्लीज !!

The post प्लीज!! राहुल जी appeared first on Monica Gupta.

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10. What Was I Dreaming?

Last night I dreamed that I wrote an essay comparing...something, I don't know what, though I think it was related to writing...to the I Ching. I didn't know what the I Ching was in the dream, which makes sense, because I don't know what it is when I'm awake. In the dream, I just read a few screens worth of information about it, maybe the equivalent of a Slate article with a short film. Really short. Then I wrote the essay. I didn't get to the point in the dream where I was submitting the completed piece of writing. That's too bad, because I'd really like to know if there's a publication that would even consider such a thing.

Well, it appears that only in a dream would you find a short piece on the I Ching that would make it possible for you to write anything intelligent about it. (Though I'm trying right now.) Even the I Ching Wikipedia entry made my eyes glaze over two-thirds of the way through the second sentence. 

The best I can work out, the I Ching, known as The Book of Changes in English, is an ancient Chinese text used to tell the future. This makes it different from the zenny stuff I'm usually interested in reading, which deals with staying in the moment so you are not anxious about the future or regretful about the past.

As a general rule, you don't have to have completed psych 1 to analyze my dreams. But I'm at a loss as to where this I Ching business came from. Yes, I attend a tai chi/kung fu school, and those are both Chinese martial arts. And, yes, next Saturday is World Tai Chi Day, and I'm not taking part with my school because I'm going to a conference. And I did get a couple of e-mails about it.

But nobody mentioned the I Ching.

So, today I've been thinking about this and wondering what I could have written that essay on, even though, of course, I didn't really write an essay, I only dreamed I did. In dream world it happened. Here is what I came up with: If the I Ching is about telling the future, maybe I connected it to plotting a piece of fiction. Maybe I came up with a way to use it to work out the future, the plot, of a story.

How easy my life would be if I could find an ancient Chinese text that would do that. 

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11. Crazy Horse and Custer

Fifteen years ago, not long after publishing Anthology of Modern American Poetry with Oxford, I began to receive the typical mix of complimentary and complaining letters. In the latter category, faculty members wanted to know why a favorite poem or poet was left out and some poets who were not included wrote pointed letters to let me know they weren’t happy with the fact. But one poet, William Heyen, took a different approach.

The post Crazy Horse and Custer appeared first on OUPblog.

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12. Must a subplot affect the main plot?

Hello. I have a question. I'm writing on an epic fantasy novel. This novel has four main characters, who also double as both POV characters and protagonists

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13. SNOW PERCEPTION


Snow Perception   
    
Not a star or a moon,
dark as the inside of a covered hole.
This black night had sounds
of wind moving among
houses and thick trees,
whistling loud and humming low.
Morning light was slow to enter
my world of winter uncertainty.
Suddenly the curtain of light
blasted through my bedroom window.
The woods were covered thick
with shadows of blue
bouncing off dark trees.
Between shadows appeared
a large white dog
that had the appearance
 (c) by Mary Nida Smith
of a timber wolf snooping
for a meal of gray rabbit.
The snow dog stood proud and still.
(c) by Mary Nida Smith
It appeared, as created by snow.
Then quickly, it disappeared
melted below the heat of sunrays.
Only signs it had appeared
were foot prints of a wandering spirit.

                                            © By Mary Nida Smith

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14. James Ransome's Watercolor Method

I recently stumbled across this video by James Ransome creating the cover illustration for his book LIGHT IN THE DARKNESS. I shared it with a student, but I think the world should see!

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15. Miss Marjoribanks (1866)

Miss Marjoribanks. Margaret Oliphant. 1866. 512 pages. [Source: Bought]

First sentence: Miss Marjoribanks lost her mother when she was only fifteen, and when, to add to the misfortune, she was absent at school, and could not have it in her power to soothe her dear mamma's last moments, as she herself said. Words are sometimes very poor exponents of such an event: but it happens now and then, on the other hand, that a plain intimation expresses too much, and suggests emotion and suffering which, in reality, have but little, if any, existence.

I LOVED, LOVED, LOVED Margaret Oliphant's Miss Marjoribanks. Within a few chapters, I was going Why did NO ONE tell me how absolutely, wonderful this book is?!  Even before I finished it, I  had decided that I would NEED to read more Oliphant in the future. A lot more. (Which book should I seek out next?!)

Lucilla Marjoribanks is the heroine. She's clever and stubborn, more than a little ambitious, and manipulative but well-intentioned. I also want to add that her manners are phenomenal; she's a proper lady. Readers meet plenty of characters: men and women of all ages, both upper and lower class.

So the novel opens with Lucilla learning of her mother's death. She resolves then and there to be a comfort to her father. Her father wants Lucilla to stay in school, and, later go on a tour of Europe. But when Lucilla is nineteen, it is inevitable that she will return home to Carlingford and start being a comfort to her dear father. He's hesitant at first, as is his cook, but within a day--or two at most--she's got them both. They love and adore her. Her reign has begun without a bit of resistance.

Lucilla has plans. Not just for her father and the household (a new makeover for various rooms). But for Carlingford. She wants to make a great society. She'll host her Thursday Evenings, and the town will be changed for the better, for the most part.

As part of her project, Lucilla "rescues" Barbara Lake from the lower class (she's a drawing master's daughter) to sing duets with her on Thursday evenings. Barbara doesn't exactly like "being a project" of Lucilla's. Part of her hates the idea of a rich woman condescending to her and elevating her position--once a week--for entertainment purposes. On the other hand, she does love to sing. And one of the men who attends is quite swoon-worthy, and he flirts with her. So the evening isn't a complete waste.

The book is essentially two stories in one. The first story occurs when she's nineteen and just getting started with her Carlingford project. She's young, beautiful, smart, ambitious. And most everyone is of the opinion that she will soon marry. Despite her protests that she will not marry for at least ten years so that she can be a comfort to her father. A handful of neighbors introduce various young men to her. One of the eligible suitors is Mr. Cavendish. (Cavendish is the one who can't help flirting with Barbara Lake). The other two "eligible" suitors don't seem all that interested in Miss Marjoribanks. (One (a general) falls in love at first sight with Barbara's sister, Rose, who happens to be visiting Lucilla because she's worried about her sister. The other (Archdeacon Beverley) coincidentally is the first-lost-love of one of Lucilla's friends--another project of sorts, her name is Mrs. Mortimer.) The second story occurs when she's twenty-nine. It mainly centers around Miss Marjoribanks schemes to get Mr. Ashburton elected to parliament.

The book is part romance, part comedy, part drama. I LOVED everything about it. I loved the characterization. I loved the narration. I loved the plot. I loved that it wasn't predictable--at least not to me!

Quotes:
There are people who talk of themselves, and think of themselves, as it were, under protest, and with depreciation, not actually able to convince themselves that anybody cares; but Lucilla, for her part, had the calmest and most profound conviction that, when she discussed her own doings and plans and clevernesses, she was bringing forward the subject most interesting to her audience as well as to herself. Such a conviction is never without its fruits. To be sure, there were always one or two independent spirits who revolted; but for the crowd, it soon became impressed with a profound belief in the creed which Miss Marjoribanks supported so firmly.
At other times she had been a visitor; now she had come into her kingdom, and had no desire to be received like a guest.
But it was only in the morning that Lucilla unfolded her standard. She was down to breakfast, ready to pour out the coffee, before the Doctor had left his room. He found her, to his intense amazement, seated at the foot of the table, in the place which he usually occupied himself, before the urn and the coffee-pot. Dr Marjoribanks hesitated for one momentous instant, stricken dumb by this unparalleled audacity; but so great was the effect of his daughter's courage and steadiness, that after that moment of fate he accepted the seat by the side where everything was arranged for him, and to which Lucilla invited him sweetly, though not without a touch of mental perturbation. The moment he had seated himself, the Doctor's eyes were opened to the importance of the step he had taken. "I am afraid I have taken your seat, papa," said Miss Marjoribanks, with ingenuous sweetness. "But then I should have had to move the urn, and all the things, and I thought you would not mind."
The Doctor's formidable housekeeper conducted her young mistress downstairs afterwards, and showed her everything with the meekness of a saint. Lucilla had won a second victory still more exhilarating and satisfactory than the first; for, to be sure, it is no great credit to a woman of nineteen to make a man of any age throw down his arms; but to conquer a woman is a different matter, and Lucilla was thoroughly sensible of the difference. Now, indeed, she could feel with a sense of reality that her foundations were laid.
Lucilla, who was liberal, as genius ought always to be, was perfectly willing that all the young ladies in Carlingford should sing their little songs while she was entertaining her guests; and then at the right moment, when her ruling mind saw it was necessary, would occur the duet—the one duet which would be the great feature of the evening. Thus it will be seen that another quality of the highest order developed itself during Miss Marjoribanks's deliberations; for, to tell the truth, she set a good deal of store by her voice, and had been used to applause, and had tasted the sweetness of individual success.
There is nothing one cannot manage if one only takes the trouble.
"I am always afraid of a cousin, for my part," said Mrs Chiley; "and talking of that, what do you think of Mr Cavendish, Lucilla? He is very nice in himself, and he has a nice property; and some people say he has a very good chance to be member for Carlingford when there is an election. I think that is just what would suit you."
Thus all the world contemplated with excitement the first Thursday which was to open this enchanted chamber to their admiring eyes. "Don't expect any regular invitation," Miss Marjoribanks said. "I hope you will all come, or as many of you as can. Papa has always some men to dinner with him that day, you know, and it is so dreadfully slow for me with a heap of men. That is why I fixed on Thursday. I want you to come every week, so it would be absurd to send an invitation; and remember it is not a party, only an Evening," said Lucilla.
It was when she was in this unhappy humour that her eye fell upon Mr Cavendish, who was in the act of making the appeal to Lucilla which we have already recorded. Barbara had never as yet had a lover, but she had read an unlimited number of novels, which came to nearly the same thing, and she saw at a glance that this was somebody who resembled the indispensable hero. She looked at him with a certain fierce interest, and remembered at that instant how often in books it is the humble heroine, behind backs, whom all the young ladies snub, who wins the hero at the last. And then Miss Marjoribanks, though she sent him away, smiled benignantly upon him. The colour flushed to Barbara's cheeks, and her eyes, which had grown dull and fixed between fright and spite, took sudden expression under her straight brows. An intention, which was not so much an intention as an instinct, suddenly sprang into life within her, and, without knowing, she drew a long breath of eagerness and impotence. He was standing quite near by this time, doing his duty according to Miss Marjoribanks's orders, and flirting with all his might; and Barbara looked at him as a hungry schoolboy might be supposed to look at a tempting apple just out of his reach. How was she to get at this suitor of Lucilla's?
As for poor Barbara, she is only a little shy, but that will soon wear off. I don't see what need she has to talk—or to move either, for that matter. I thought she did very well indeed for a girl who never goes into society. Was it not clever of me to find her out the very first day I was in Carlingford? It has always been so difficult to find a voice that went perfectly with mine."
"I always make it a point never to shock anybody's prejudices," said Miss Marjoribanks. "I should do just the same with them as with other people; all you have to do is to show from the first that you mean to be good friends with everybody. But then I am so lucky: I can always get on with people," said Lucilla, rising to greet the two unfortunates who had come to Colonel Chiley's to spend a merry Christmas, and who did not know what to do with themselves.
It was rather vexatious, to tell the truth; for to see a man so near the point and not even to have the satisfaction of refusing him, is naturally aggravating to a woman.
If there was one thing in the world more than another which contented Lucilla, it was to be appealed to and called upon for active service. It did her heart good to take the management of incapable people, and arrange all their affairs for them, and solve all their difficulties. Such an office was more in her way than all the Archdeacons in the world.

For even the aid of Miss Marjoribanks was as nothing against dead selfishness and folly, the two most invincible forces in the world.


© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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16. Time To Sell Myself....In The Nicest Possible Way!

 Okay, folks, it is that time of the year when I need to promo myself so if you start dozing off remember: Avengers 2 -The Age Of Ultron is released this week!


Black Tower Comics & Books is THE UKs LARGEST INDEPENDENT COMICS PUBLISHER (possibly largest European Independents publisher, too!).  It is run by myself as Publishing Editor.

Between 1984-1994 I worked freelance as a writer/artist/editor/agent in comics as well as comics journalism for MU Press,Blue Comet Press, Fantagraphic Books, Eros Comics, Dorne, Fleetway, IPC and others in the United States, UK and Europe.  During this period I also produced large numbers of single panel gag cartoons for agencies in Germany such as Boiselle-Lohmann and Baaske Agency –these going to magazines and publications around Europe.

I have also worked as a freelance editor in comics and publications ranging from wildlife, astronomy and science fiction magazines.

From 1984 to present I've been self publishing comics as well as publications on a wide variety of subjects under the Black Tower banner.

During this time I have also produced packages of work for companies in India, Hong Kong and China. I have also been working as an industry advisor for smaller companies in countries such as India, Canada, Singapore, China, Europe and the US.

I can be contacted for a much more indepth Cv  at hoopercomicsuk@yahoo.com

To see the number of books and variety of genres -including prose- you can check out the Black Tower Online store:

http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/hoopercomicsuk

I do not  work for free or "on spec" and having worked in comics since the 1970s I know all the cons so do not even try them.

I work by payment and deadline.  An A4 design for an event (that will be reduced to A5 as in the example below) will normally cost £25.00 (black and white).
I do not translate comics into other languages but items produced under licence are provided fully lettered in English.

I prefer working with smaller publishers who are attempting to establish themselves and a company "universe" or simply producing specially designed comics for new publishers.

You can all wake up now.


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17. Social Media Etiquette

What not to do when using social media.


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18. Baby Blue Chick

Baby-Chicken-side-view-01I forgot to post this baby blue chick. I have been busy with many projects (that's good, yes). He is the brother to the pink chick. He can be purchased as stock illustration at iStock, go to: Baby Blue Chick

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19. Barcelona, Spain by Margot Justes




I’m working on the fourth hotel book, and this one is set in Barcelona. It is a city filled with art, amazing architecture and an incredible zest and appreciation for life.Barcelona is exciting, vibrant and the locals know how to enjoy themselves, they possess the joie de vivre that is hard to miss, and often times hard to find.

The architecture is unsurpassed, modern and old blends well together, and of course there is Gaudi-it is worth a visit to Barcelona just to see his work. It is unforgettable. I loved it so much that I posted a separate blog about his stunning and imaginative style. The amazing thing is that once you see it, you want to do it again, and again, simply because you probably missed the marvelous details the first time through. His work is beyond whimsy.

There are museums to be sure, Miro, Dali and Picasso have a foundation in Barcelona. The stunning architecture will take your breath away, everywhere you turn you see a magnificent building, from Gothic to Art Nouveau to the indescribable Gaudi treasures, to contemporary and everything in between. Landmarks abound.

At any given time stroll on La Rambla, and you’ll see locals and savvy tourists sit down in a cafe and enjoy a beer, tapas, coffee, along with a dish of green olives, or just stroll arm in arm on the wide avenue that is both romantic, hectic and invigorating. There are many souvenirs shops that line the famous paseo, all the kitschy tourist stuff, pottery, foods and other items made locally, along with entertainment, and all of it delightful.

The street is filled to capacity, and I for one at this stage in my life don’t like crowds, and if truth be told-never did-but I really rather enjoyed the lovely walk, and a stop for the obligatory delicious coffee. I had a wondrous adventure just walking down the street. You see people smile, nod their heads in acknowledgement as you stroll along as if in a romantic dream.

The city also boasts a beautiful coast line, and one of the biggest ports in Europe, along with some beautiful parks, even one designed by Gaudi.

Have I forgotten to mention the food-it is delicious-they create a mouth watering delight   with just potatoes. Okay, I’m Polish and happen to love potatoes, but the Patatas Bravas are truly yummy, roasted potatoes, a yummy sauce with a slight bite that you feel on the tip of your tongue. The excellent bread and incredible local hams would have kept me happy for a long time.

A huge array of cheeses, hams, breads, olives, an amazing selection of fish, all that is available in many tapas bars. The offerings are small, so you can visit many places and taste the amazing variety of appetizers. A delightful and delicious way to sample the local cuisine.

Shopping abounds on Passeig de Gracia, favorably compared to other famous boulevards with prices to match. I enjoyed the walk, and window shopping, the displays are imaginative and fun, and I was grateful that I travel light with little room for souvenirs.
That being said, I managed to buy a few small trinkets for family and friends, the souvenir shop at the Gaudi Casa Batllo was amazing, and yes-all my souvenirs came from that shop.

There are many hotels and as always prices range from low to high, it all depends on your budget. You will find delicious and reasonably priced tapas bars off the main tourist areas, but if you’re in with the tourist crowds be prepared to pay. I do a bit of research  before I leave, but I always allow for a tourist trap or two.

I booked the Casa Fuster Hotel, on Passeig de Gracia 132, on my first visit, a beautiful hotel reminiscent of Gaudi’s work, the service was superb, the rooms a good size, the breakfasts superb, and  the staff always eager to help with directions and available tours, they were friendly and caring. I hope to return and stay there again.

The second hotel was the Majestic, also on Passeig de Gracia 68-70, was a little more centrally located-by just a few blocks from Casa Fuster. That being said, I would rather walk the additional 4 or 5 blocks than stay at the Majestic again, lack of overall service, and a snippy registration cured me of ever staying there a second time.

The Majestic staff lost interest after I didn’t want to book a private car to Montserrat to the tune of 600Euros. After a discussion on booking a reasonable tour failed, a short 10 minute walk took me to a travel agency, where I was able to book a round trip ride for 29EU that would take me to the Montserrat  Monastery for the better part of the day. It is a trip not to be missed. I’ll post a separate blog on the location-it is in the mountains and it is magnificent.

I’m a breakfast person, and tend to eat the meal at the hotel to save on time, and the breakfast at the Majestic was outstanding. I couldn’t have asked for a more varied or delicious selection, and the coffee was delicious, but the lack of care and concern from the registration staff ruined any chance of my return to the hotel.

Barcelona has it all, and is definitely worth a visit or two, or three.

Cheers,
Margot  Justes
Blood Art
A Hotel in Paris
A Hotel in Bath
Hot Crimes Cool Chicks
www.mjustes.com








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20. C2E2 2015: Exhibitor Listings! Maps! Panels! Look!See!NOW!

C2E2-Logo-Square-Low-ResWell, we’ve recovered from the East Coast Comic Con and MoCCA Fest. Did our taxes. Watched the trailers. And this weekend, instead of relaxing and ruminating…I’m getting my act together to fly to Chicago on Thursday, for ReedPOP’s C2E2 show! (And if you think my schedule is crazy, the ReedPOP crew is in Anaheim right now, running Star Wars Celebration!)

Here’s the show planner. (PDF available!) Panels are accessible here. Exhibitors, along with show specials and exclusives, can be found here!

So… how does this show differ from last year’s?

Not much, really. Panels are upstairs, just like last year. (Make use of the water stations. Seriously…it’s a long walk to the Main Stage.) Family and fans are once again in the ballroom on the First Floor. The sales floor… is still in Halls A1 and A2 (McCormick South).

C2E2 2015 map 3Like last year, they use 3/4 of the hall.  Last year, the last third (or the front half of A2) was the food court area.  What’s changed?  Autographing and Food have switched places.  Artist Alley has been pushed back a little.  With no stage and a better layout, hopefully it doesn’t feel as slapdashed as last year.  350 tables are planned this year, down from 353 last year, but still ahead of the 207 from the first show).  Looking at the map, they can expand that area as well.  (Personally, the first C2E2 in Lakeside set the bar.  Lots of natural light, wide aisles, lots of space behind the tables, far from the rest of the show yet still accessible.)

The Block seems to be a new addition this year, or maybe the memory’s tumbled in with all of the other stuff from last year.  The Tattoo Pavilion is in the same space as last year.

Only three booths remain unsold:  two small booths right next to Marvel, and a quad near the Food Court.  (Some of the Artist Alley tables are on hold, but all are sold.)

mccormick south-level-3As I said here, C2E2 already is larger than New York Comic Con in regards to exhibition floor space. In this hall, there is 20% not utilized. (It’s the bottom quarter in the map to the right, with the stair-step edge.)  840,000 sq.ft. of space exists in Hall A, 670,000 is currently used. That back quadrant is 170,000 sq.ft. in area. If you’re familiar with Javitz’ North Pavilion, site of Artist Alley at NYCC, this back space is TWICE the area (80K).  Just think of the twenty studio booths you could place back there!

As for panels, there’s a FIFTH floor above the fourth, with five rooms, which can be divided into fourteen spaces (just like the rooms on the fourth).  Not to mention the six meeting rooms on the first floor, south of the ballroom, which can subdivide into 15 spaces.  Plus ReedPOP uses the North Hall (B1/B2) for registration, and the meeting rooms beneath for back of house purposes.

So, what’s the estimated attendance this year?c2e2 attendance

2010 27,500
2011 34,000 6500
2012 41,000 7000
2013 53,000 12000
2014 63,000 10000

The average (slope) is 7,100 a year.  If we take the recent increases into account, the math suggests 70 – 75,000 attendees. NYCC in its sixth year did 105,000.  C2E2 is growing at half the rate of NYCC, which is not a bad thing.  Of course, McCormick has a lot of space available, so with my estimated 1.235 MILLION capacity, with a growth of 10K/year, it would take C2E2 120 years to fill the entire convention center!  Me, I’m thinking 2030.  Once shows hit a certain threshold, they reach critical mass quickly.  (I’ll share my mad dreams later.  In the meantime, read this!)

But until then, other parts of McCormick Place will be used by other shows.  What else is happening that weekend?  Automechanika Chicago.  400 exhibitors, 8500 attendees, and it’s all about the auto aftermarket. (Oh man… a month later is the Sweets & Snacks Expo!) Last year, some company held their sales meeting in Lakeside, meaning most attendees trekked by the show floor on Thursday.  I even spotted one professional lady stop to take a selfie with a Batman75 standee!  There was also a national high school chorus competition… yeah…theatre geeks! Another year, there was standardized testing for educators.  And the first C2E2 had a bath show where the current con is located…

I’ll have more later, but I do recommend the show.  It’s a large regional show, with myriad guests of all sorts, great programming, not as crazy as CCI or NYCC, and I think most of the snow will have melted by now.  Until then, peruse our posts from previous years.  It’s a good sample of what the show offers.


 

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21. New Adult Fiction Genre - Contemporary Romance - #WriteTip



There is a new genre emerging..."New Adult" fiction for older teens aka college-aged readers. You never stop growing up, but little in the market seems to address the coming-of-age that also happens between the ages of Nineteen to Twenty-six. Life changes drastically once high school is over, you have college, first jobs, first internships, first adult relationships…

Part of the appeal of NA is that the storylines are about characters who are taking on adult responsibilities for the first time without guidance from their parents. And the storylines generally have a heavy romance element. 

Keep this in mind as you revise your wonderful story, New Adult books are mostly about that specific time in every person's life—the time when the apron strings are cut from your parents, you no longer have a curfew, you're experiencing the world for the very first time, in most cases, with innocent eyes. New Adult is this section of your life where you discover who you want to be, what you want to be, and what type of person you will become. This time defines you. This is the time of firsts, the time where you can't blame your parents for your own bad choices. 


An NA character has to take responsibility for their own choices and live with the consequences. Most storylines are about twenty-something (18 to 26) characters living their own lives without any parents breathing down their necks, and learning to solve things on their own as they would in real life. New Adult fiction focuses on switching gears, from depending on our parents to becoming full-fledged, independent adults.

I am a firm believer that if you’re going to write a certain genre that you should read it, too. So I’m going to recommend that you start devouring NA novels to get a real sense and understanding of the genre before you write one.

Here are some great recommendations: https://www.goodreads.com/genres/new-adult-romance and http://www.goodreads.com/genres/new-adult and https://www.goodreads.com/shelf/show/new-adult-romance
 

Just as YA is fiction about teens discovering who they are as a person, New Adult (NA) is fiction about building your own life as an actual adult. As older teen readers discover the joy of the Young Adult genres, the New Adult—demand may increase. This, in turn, would give writers the chance to explore the freedom of a slightly older protagonist (over the age of 18 and out of high school, like the brilliant novel, "BEAUTIFUL DISASTER" by the amazing talents of author, Jamie McGuire) while addressing more adult issues that early 20-year-olds must face.

Older protagonists (basically, college students) are surprisingly rare; in a panel on YA literature at Harvard’s 2008 Vericon, City of Bones author talked about pitching her novel, then about twenty-somethings, as adult fiction. After several conversations, Clare realized she had to choose between adults and teens. She went with teens.

Quote from the publisher, St. Martin’s Press: We are actively looking for great, new, cutting edge fiction with protagonists who are slightly older than YA and can appeal to an adult audience. Since twenty-somethings are devouring YA, St. Martin’s Press is seeking fiction similar to YA that can be published and marketed as adult—a sort of an “older YA” or “new adult.” In this category, they are looking for spunky but not stupid, serious but not dull, cutting-edge, supernatural stories.

Quote from Georgia McBride, author (Praefatio) and founder of #YALitChat and publisher at Month9Books: "New Adult is a fabulous idea in theory, and authors seem to be excited about it. But in a world where bookstores shelf by category, to them, it is either  Adult or Young Adult. Some booksellers even call their YA section “teen.” And when you have a character who is over a certain age (19 seems to be the age most consider the start of New Adult), it is received as Adult. In some cases, the designation by publishers causes more confusion than not.
Let’s face it, YA is associated with teens, and at 19, most no longer consider themselves teens. So, it would support the theory of placing these “New Adult” titles in the Adult section. However, with the prevalence of eBook content, it would seem that the powers that be could easily create a New Adult category if they really wanted to...."

There’s also a list on goodreads of New Adult book titles. These books focus on college age characters, late teens to early twenties, transitioning into the adult world.

Some popular authors of the NA category include:
  • Jamie McGuire
  • Jessica Park
  • Tammara Webber
  • Steph Campbell
  • Liz Reinhardt
  • Abbi Glines
  • Colleen Hoover 
  • Sherry Soule
http://www.wattpad.com/story/29486760-irresistible-mistake-new-adult-romantic-suspense


Would you buy New Adult books? 
Does the genre appeal to you? 

Does it sound better than YA (teen novels)? 
 
Or are you happy with YA as it stands?

Do you consider YA to include characters that are over the age of eighteen? 
 

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22. Cultural Clashes in the Classroom

Are Cultural Misinterpretations A Root Cause For Disproportionate Discipline Of African-American Students?

Numerous studies have revealed that African-American students are more likely than their white peers to face referrals to the office, suspension, expulsion or other forms of discipline at school.
virtuoso logo
But it doesn’t have to be that way, says Renae Azziz, founder and director of Virtuoso Education Consulting (www.virtuosoed.com), which provides professional development training to teachers and school district leaders.

Azziz, a school psychologist who helps districts across the nation resolve disproportionality in discipline, says in many cases it’s a clash of cultures, and not necessarily racism, that leads to disproportionate punishment for minority students.

“Teachers need to understand that sometimes what they see as misbehavior is not viewed the same way by African-American students,” Azziz says. “It’s just that in these cases the educators come from different cultures than their students. The teachers need to increase their knowledge about those differences and improve their skills for handling the situations.”

Azziz says there are a number of promising strategies schools can and are using to reduce disproportionality in discipline.

• Develop supportive relationships among and within school staff and students through the implementation of restorative-justice frameworks, which use conflict resolution and open dialogue. Restorative justice focuses students on the ramifications of their actions so that they take ownership of those actions and learn from their poor decisions.

• Engage in culturally relevant and responsive instructions and interactions to make the curriculum engaging for all learners.

• Change disciplinary codes of conduct to align with positive school climates through the implementation of Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) that are culturally responsive.

• Commit to ongoing professional development for teachers focused on developing their awareness, knowledge and skills related to culture.

African-American students often have more negative views of their schools than white students because they perceive them as being less fair and consistent with discipline. That this perception exists, Azziz says, reinforces the idea that educators need to be culturally responsive so that the school environment meets the needs of students from all cultural backgrounds.

It’s not that schools have failed to make an effort to address problems with discipline. For two decades, the method known as Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports has been implemented across the nation as a way to decrease suspensions and expulsions, Azziz says.

That worked – sort of, she says.

Data indicates PBIS does indeed reduce the overall rates for those disciplinary actions, but there’s a caveat. Minority students, especially African Americans, still receive the majority of the punishments.

“That tells me that PBIS is not as effective for African-American students as it is for other ethnic groups,” Azziz says. “So why is that?”

The answer may lie in those cultural differences, she says.

Here’s an example: Teachers who expect students to raise their hands before responding in class often send African-American students to the office for repeatedly talking out.

But many of those students see classroom discussions as more informal, Azziz says.

“Some students, particularly African-American students, show that they are listening and engaged by blurting out their thoughts instead of raising their hands,” Azziz says. “This is a communication-response style called back-channeling and it’s often seen in the African-American culture.”

Teachers who understand that back-channeling is a cultural pattern of behavior can better teach the students when that behavior is appropriate in the classroom and when they need to raise their hands, she says.

“When teachers don’t know about this communications style,” Azziz says, “all they see is a student who disrupted their class and it becomes a top reason for discipline referrals.”

Renae Azziz

About Renae Azziz

Renae Azziz is the Founder and Director of Virtuoso Education Consulting (www.virtuosoed.com). She and her team of consultants support educators nationally in the areas of Response-to-Intervention, Data-Based Decision Making, Assessment, Positive Behavior Support, and Culturally Responsive Practices. Before starting Virtuoso Education Consulting, Renae practiced as a school psychologist in Indiana. Renae also worked on grants funded by the Indiana Department of Education supporting Indiana’s Initiatives on Response to Intervention, Culturally Responsive PBIS, and Minority Disproportionality in Special Education. She was also appointed by former Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels to the Commission on Disproportionality in Youth Services, which resulted in several legislative outcomes. Further, Renae and her team of consultants have served as project evaluators for statewide initiatives and Corrective Action Plans in Indiana and Louisiana.

Renae received her educational training at Indiana University earning an Ed.S. in School Psychology, an M.S. in Educational Psychology, and a B.A. with honors in Psychology and is working towards completion of her Doctorate in Education at The Johns Hopkins University specializing in Entrepreneurial Leadership in Education.

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23. Week in Review April 19, 2015

And what a week it was!

Some of you had some very odd ideas about my favorite movie, although Kregger's comment
I think your favorite movie is "Message in a Bottle." Not because of heart-string tugging syrupy tripe, but because everyone should know how Kevin Costner got it in the end. That's right...shark attack!

cracked me up completely.

and AJ Blythe did too:
Surely Janet's fave movie would have to be "Fifty Shades of Grey" - it's about paint, right?
Dena Pawling mentioned Hopscotch which I loved when I saw it the first time, so I promptly rented it on Sunday and watched it again.  It held up beautifully! (Some of my long time favorites have not!)  Did you notice the character names? Shout outs to Ludlum, Follet and Westlake, all great crime writers.  The book Hopscotch won the Edgar for Best Novel in 1976!

As for my favorite movie: none of you came close. It's Casablanca.


Apparently LynnRodz is circumnavigating the globe. Maybe she's looking for Platform 9.75, the train to Carkoon?
Don't get me started on the weather! When I left Paris it was 11°C, I landed in Dubai at midnight and it was already 26°C. When I got to Bangkok I came out of the airport to 38°C in the shade! Let me put it this way, when you're baking cookies and you open the oven door to see if they're done and that blast of hot air hits you...well I'm the cookie baking in Bangkok and Carkoon is looking like paradise!
I'm heading to Hong Kong next and hopefully the weather will be a lot cooler.


And just in case I was getting too big for my britches, John "Ol' Chumbucket" Baur put me solidly in my place on the food chain:

I missed the "plumber/agent" discussion, but as someone who has had two agents and who last fall had the mother of all sewer problems, let me just say, if I had to pick one or the other, I'd take a good plumber every time. My agents have had some success with me, but my plumber made it possible for life to continue.

W.R.Gingell had an important question about the Summer Synopsis Camp slated for Carkoon:
And lol at Colin's Carkoonian Synopsis Summer Camp. Should we bring our own stakes, or will there be a Impaler Specialist? ( I hear Vlad is once more available: he might like the change).

Maybe Gary Corby can be drafted for Impaler specialist. He's sure gotten some mileage out of that one scene in The Ionia Sanction.

 



On Monday the results of the writing contest were posted. Huzzah to Calorie Bombshell for an outstanding effort, and huzzahs also to the finalists! It was a touch choice (but then, it almost always is!)



On Tuesday we talked about meeting agents at conferences in unscheduled times.

I think we're going to need a collection of Julie Weathers' comments at some point because as usual, this one cracked me up:

I keep saying agents are humans pieces of meat and I still see people giving out advice for authors to act like blind dogs after meat wagon.

I liked what Susan Bonifant had to say so much that I made it this week's blog subtitle
"Best advice I ever got when I was raising children: Never miss an opportunity to shut up."

And Abib Khorram mentioned the Midwest Writers Conference:

I am very much looking forward to Midwest Writers, though now I'm going to be very suspicious of anyone wearing a "Janet Reid" name tag.

Speaking of which, is anyone else going to Midwest Writers? I think we should try to organize a Felix J. Buttonweezer Memorial Costume Contest and Kale Cookoff.

"Janet Reid" can be the judge.

Since my former minion Brooks Sherman will also be at MWW, I might deputize him to be me.  I'll be the one with the name badge that says "I AM OTTER"





And I really liked what KD James.com said about attending conferences

I think it's worth it, if you're unpublished or perhaps haven't attended a conference, to think about what you DO want to accomplish. As fun as they can be, cons are also expensive and time consuming. It's not necessary to set conference goals, but it's a good idea. This is not MY advice--- I've heard it from dozens of experienced writers.

A goal is something you can control and achieve: to attend classes or workshops to learn about craft or publishing; to meet up with writer friends you've talked to online; to experience what it feels like to be in a huge crowd of writers who "get" you (it's awesome); to meet new people.

My goal at my first con was simply to survive the overload. Which I did. Barely. I also attended a ton of workshops. SO WORTH IT.

It's also nice to have a goal so when you look back on whether the con was a good investment of time and money, you'll have something to gauge rather than just whether it was "fun."

It is NOT a goal to say you're attending a con because you hope to get published, or want to have an agent request your ms, or even simply to meet an agent/editor/famous author. You don't control those things. And they might not even be all that valuable.


And I liked what Leone said too
My point is, we're all part of the writing community and we give to it in our own ways. So my suggestion for folks nervous about attending a conference is to worry less about how others see you and more about how you can help. For example, I offer to moderate a panel. If you prefer, you could offer to staff the registration table or some other less public activity. Whatever you do, you're giving to the community, which not only helps you get to know people without worrying about pitching, but also gets your focus off your own nervousness.




And Colin demonstrates why he has been exiled to Carkoon, by trying to find a way that the point of the blog post might not apply.

So, do you suppose it might be different for a young agent, perhaps still fairly new and building a list? Might that agent be more likely to want writers to talk about their work? In other words, might Janet and Barbara's hatred of the "elevator pitch" come from their years of experience, and the fact they are well-established?

No.
I've hated people pushing their pitches on me from Day One. There is simply NO WAY to properly evaluate or offer help to a writer without seeing pages.  Pitching is not social conversation. If we're in a social setting, DO NOT PITCH. There are NO exceptions to this.

*climbs down off soapbox*
*signs exile extension*




And I REALLY liked this from BJ Muntain

Because there's nothing about being a stay-at-home mom that deserves to be ignored. It just needs better press.



On Wednesday, a gentleman wondered about self-publishing to make money.

CarolynWith2Ns asked
Might the questioner try Kindle Scout as a no cost path to e-publishing ? And Janet, I'd love to know your opinion about Scout. Is it as good a deal as Amazon says?


I'm not a resource on Kindle Scout or really any of the self-publishing platforms because I don't work with them at all, and have no experience.  What I see are people querying me with books they've already published, or sending me finished copies of books they've essentially printed rather than published. Often times those books are just sad little messes of bad production and worse cover art.

BJ Muntain said
Yes, even if it's only printed out in a chapbook format and handed out to a few friends, it's still technically published. Will it affect future sales? As Janet said, that's very unlikely. My thought: If these have already been published, then you no longer have first rights to sell for them anyway. Reprinting them won't make a difference

There is no such thing as "first rights" although I do see that phrase used a lot on writer boards.  There IS such a thing as "first serial rights" but that means publishing an excerpt of a book before publication day.

A book, and stories, can be published more than once. If you've had stories accepted for publication in a lit mag (as the questioner had) you can publish them AGAIN once the period of exclusivity with the magazine has ended.

The rights you license to a lit mag are 1. territory 2. language 3. duration  4.exclusivity 5.format

For example: you license the short story "Felix Buttonweezer Fends off Kale on Carkoon" to the Carkoon Lit mag for publication in (1) Carkoon (2) Carkoonian, English and Klingon; (3) for the period of one Carkoonian year; (4) exclusively; (5) for the print edition and the Carkoon Lit mag website.  All rights not specifically granted to the lit mag are retained by the author.


On Thursday the discussion turned to the endlessly entertaining topic of submission guidelines.

Colin posted a question from exile:
My question(s) to agents: When was the last time you requested because the querier spelled your name correctly, gave good comp titles, had an MFA, or correctly identified their novel as YA Urban Fiction? And how many queries have you requested from because they sold you on #2 above [2) A paragraph or two selling the novel to the agent, incorporating the 4 Cs (see Craig's comment).]

Answer:
0%
100%


Lizzie said
aside from people not paying attention, one of the problems could be agents not updating their Querytracker profile.

I can't remember the last time I updated my QueryTracker profile. Probably the last time I closed for queries a few summers ago, but honestly I haven't a clue.

The reason for that that? There's no trigger to update it. No one from QueryTracker emails me an easily accessible link and says "here, update yer info, SharkForBrains"  If they did, I would.

As it is, I don't even THINK about QueryTracker.  The places I DO update when I remember, which isn't often: 1. my website 2. my Pub Mkt page and 3. this blog's incoming query status. 



And then things pretty much fell completely off topic with a discussion of the Buttonweezer clan name, origin and location. Which made for a VERY entertaining comments trail.



On Friday the topic was whether a query should mention fulls requested by other agents.

I loved this from Dena Pawling:
Carolynn, I met my husband at a friend's wedding, the summer after I graduated from high school. I was a bridesmaid and he was an usher. About a week after the wedding, he called me.

Him: “Hi... um... would you like to go to church with me? I've asked everyone else I know and no one else can come.”

Yes, that's how he asked me out on our first date. I've teased him endlessly about it, too. We've been married now for more than half my life.

Karen McCoy asked:
Say Agent B doesn't ask if anyone else is reading, and Agent A requests representation while Agent B still has the full. How does the author bring this up without burning possible bridges?

This happens ALL the time. I've been on both sides of the situation.  In fact, I have a prospective client notifying other agents even as we speak.

Here's what you do:
1. Email all the agents who have the full and say you've received an offer (or you've gotten serious interest) in the manuscript. Ask if they can let you know their decision within a specified amount of time (a week is normal but I've said two weeks on occ. if there's a holiday or vacations pending)

2. On the expiration day, advise everyone of decisions.  "Thanks for reading my full. I've chosen an agent to represent the book" kind of thing.



And maybe y'all think someone else reads the comments but it's me and I SAW THAT STUFF ABOUT PAGES!
Julie Weathers, I'm looking at you, gnomie! 

If an agent asks for 50 pages, and 50 pages ends at the wrong place to present your work well, send 48. Or 55.

The idea of asking for 50 pages is "please don't send 300" and "please don't send 5"

It is NOT: please adjust your margins, and your font to make sure that what should be 48 is really 50 pages. 

 

Never break a sentence when you send pages, NEVER. Never break a paragraph if you can possibly help it.

And it's really ok to end where the chapter ends, be that page 45 or 55; in fact it's better.

And do NOT get creative with your margins. I work on 1" margins all around, and if you send something in ANYTHING else, I adjust it because of the size of my screen and what my eye is used to seeing.

YES I NOTICE 1.25 margins!


Sheesh you guys!



On Saturday the topic turned to the newest way to torment writers: social media


I liked what Amy Schaefer suggested:
Instead of focusing on what you aren't willing to do (Twitter, FB, the internet in general), turn it around and think about what you are willing to do. Get that clear in your mind. Signings? Visiting bookstores? The aforementioned newsletters and so on? Think hard about what sort of interaction you feel capable of with strangers/potential fans. Then, when the problem arises with an agent, you'll be ready with your own solution to your so-called social media issue. Get out in front of it, is my advice.


And I read PhoenixWaller's comment about promotion with great interest particularly the closing line:
The moral of that story is that mass advertisements are iffy at best, but word of mouth is still an invaluable tool for selling books, even free ones online. ;)

The more things change, the more they are the same. Word of mouth. The best way to sell books since there were books.


Angie Brooksby-Arcangioli asked

the question that Janet could answer is if you did write under a pseudo would your agent need to know your real name and at what stage would you have to tell them.

If you had a pseudo with incorporated status, you could have a social media presence for your 'business'.

As an agent I need to know two things: what you want me to call you, and the name you want to use when I pay you. 

The PUBLISHER however has a stake in this because the contract you sign for your book has a clause called Warranties and Indemnities and that's the one where you warrant the work is yours, you didn't copy it, and no one else has a claim to it.  Publishers really want to make sure that "the author" signs that contract.  That's where you'll need more specific advice than what I'm able to give you on the blog.

If a potential client had the kinds of security concerns that the questioner had, I'd probably let the editor know about it, and we'd figure something out.

I've certainly worked with authors who've used pen names before, and it's pretty funny, we forget the pen name isn't the author's "real" name.



Spring is finally here in NYC and it's fabulous. We have a giant courtyard space next to our office building and it has a huge TV screen on the side of our building. The TV broadcasts soccer games and I can always tell when they do cause the fans gather in the courtyard and cheer. It makes World Cup a lot of fun here even if I don't have  clue who's playing.

I'm tackling my requested full pile with renewed vigor. Some very patient authors have been waiting for more months than I care to reveal in public for a reply from me. Every time I pass on a manuscript I feel bad. I really hate doing so, particularly now that I'm passing on things that are good and publishable (but just not the right books for my particular list or interest.)

This coming week I'm taking a reading break and heading to the Delaware shore with a friend. We're going to sit on the porch, read manuscripts and plot World Domination. 

I'm hoping the Wifi will be adequate. If not, well, you'll know cause I'll be tardy posting the week in review!

Have a great week!





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24. Circumzenithal Arc

A few days ago I photographed this circumzenithal arc in the sky above the Hudson Valley. These halo phenomena are sometimes called "smiles in the sky" or "upside down rainbows."

Unlike a normal rainbow, which describes a circle centered around the antisolar point (directly opposite the sun), this light effect curves around the zenith. The colors appear on the section of the circle closest to the setting sun.

Whereas the regular rainbow is the result of sunlight bouncing back to the eye in suspended raindrops, this effect occurs when sunlight refracts through plate-shaped hexagonal ice prisms floating in a horizontal position in cirrus clouds. Therefore, it often appears interrupted as it intersects the parallel tendrils of the clouds.
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Wikipedia on circumzenithal arc
More at Atmospheric Optics
Classic book on light/atmosphere phenomena: The Nature of Light and Colour in the Open Air

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25. Weekend Links Earth Day, Garden and Other Assorted Book Fun

Welcome to Weekend Links!

weekend links

So far this month has been jam-packed with insightful education, booklists, outdoor activities and cool nature resources for kids and parents interested in raising global citizens.  I would like to share them this weekend as my Weekend Links Round-up. Enjoy!

Check out my guest post at Kid Lit Celebrates Women’s History Month; The Mother of Trees Wangari Maathai -so honored to be included!

Mama Miti

This was shared by one of our dedicated readers Donna Marie and the it’s from the author of the Secret Garden’s house. Bookish Illuminations; Entering The Secret Garden at Great Maytham Hall. It’s fantastic!!

The Secret Garden1 Great_Maytham_Hall_-_geograph.org.uk_-_228926

How to Find Children’s Books in Spanish in One Easy Step from Spanish Playground

childrens-books-spanish-726x375

5 Amazing Multicultural Novels in Verse and the Kid Lit Blog  via PragmaticMom

multicultural novels

10 Simple Ways Kids Can Celebrate Earth Day-via Multicultural Kids Blogs

Earth Day books

We Need Diverse Books Tells AWP 2015: Write Diverse Books That Sell  via Publishers Weekly


Reading: It’s good for their health.  Harper Collins Children’s Books

harper
Grab it before it’s GONE! My Free Curious George Gets a Medal Rocketship Craft and Activity!

Family Book Festival

Get Out in to the Garden! Have you missed the last few Secret Garden Wednesdays? These are too much fun not to read!

If you are in the mood for another and inactive story, check out the enhanced digital eBook for kids, The Ultimate Guide to Charlie and The Chocolate Factory!

The Ultimate Guide To Charlie And The Chocolate Factory is a step by step roadmap to this magical world.   Just some of the fun includes:

  • A story filled with beautiful graphic illustrations including tantalizing Treasure Maps and vibrant tutorials.

1b

  • Over 20 Crafts and activities that not only entertain, but educate.
  • You get to jump inside the book and enjoy creating the adventures yourself (Templates, maps, and more are included.)
  • Ever wonder where chocolate comes from? Or how gum is made?  Wonder no more. Now you get to make your own.
  • Conduct activities in the areas of crafting, cooking, and game-playing as well as exploring many facets of candy production.
  • The option to take Charlie’s journey over the course of several days or take shorter journeys if you wish.
  • The creation of a new ritual of reading time with your family and the opportunity to experience the reading of this imaginative tale as a group activity, not a solitary event.

Go HERE to learn more and grab your copy from iBooks!

The Ultimate Guide to Charlie

 

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