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1. Three Dark Crowns: Review

This is the dark, twisted tale of three sisters fair destined to destroy each other. Or rather, only two need die. One will emerge victorious. On the island of Fennbirn, when the queen gives birth it is always to triplet girls. Each new queen is either a poisoner, a naturalist, or an elementalist. The queen identifies which queen is which and then abdicates. The new queens are raised together until the age of 6, when they are claimed by their different factions and trained in their powers. In the year of their 16th birthday, the Ascension year, the queens will each put their powers on public display and then proceed to attempt to murder each other. They have one year to accomplish their tasks. The last queen standing wins. Of the three sisters, we spend the most time with Arsinoe, the naturalist. The naturalists live in a seaside town that evokes a humble,... Read more »

The post Three Dark Crowns: Review appeared first on The Midnight Garden.

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2. Critiquing Other People's Works

Here are some things to consider before agreeing to look at someone else's manuscript.

http://www.helpingwritersbecomeauthors.com/tips-for-editing-other-writers/

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3. My tweets

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4. Monday Poetry Stretch - Haiku Sonnet

Hello all! I'm back after a bit of a hiatus and hopefully am in the swing of things now that we are in week 2 of the fall semester.

The haiku sonnet is a form developed by David Marshall, an English teacher and writer living in Chicago and blogging at Haiku Streak. Essentially, this form combines four haiku with a final two-line “couplet” consisting of seven and/or five syllable lines.

You can read some examples of David's work at Haiku Sonnet. While his poems don't rhyme (as haiku do not), I'm thinking I may attempt to include rhyme in my stretches.

So, there's your challenge. I hope you'll join me this week in writing an haiku sonnet or two. Please share a link to your poem or the poem itself in the comments.

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5. If You Care about American Indians... Keep abreast of Native news.

Dear Parents, Teachers, and Librarians,

If you care about American Indians, you're likely aware of what is going on in North Dakota. You may have read David Archambault's opinion piece in the New York Times on August 24th. He's the chairman of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. He began with this:

It is a spectacular sight: thousands of Indians camped on the banks of the Cannonball River, on the edge of the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in North Dakota. Our elders of the Seven Council Fires, as the Oceti Sakowin, or Great Sioux Nation, is known, sit in deliberation and prayer, awaiting a federal court decision on whether construction of a $3.7 billion oil pipeline from the Bakken region to Southern Illinois will be halted.
The decision to say 'no' to the Dakota Access Pipeline is one that matters for Native people and for anyone whose health will be at risk when that proposed pipeline leaks. As the people who are gathering there and elsewhere are saying, this is about water. We all need it. The people of Standing Rock are taking action to protect their rights, and everyone's water. With each day, I see resolutions from tribal councils who declare that they stand with Standing Rock. I'm also starting to see resolutions from entities that aren't Native.

You may have friends, or your children may have friends, who aren't where you are in terms of knowing that we're part of today's society. Far too many people think we no longer exist, and far too many think that if we wear jeans and drive cars, then, we aren't "real" Indians. They don't know what "real" Indians are!

American citizens don't dress like George or Martha Washington, but that doesn't mean we aren't "real" Americans. Somehow, there's this idea out there that if we don't live and dress exactly like our ancestors did, we can't possibly be "real" Indians. That's bogus. There's also this idea out there that Native people have high cheekbones. Or glossy black hair. Dark eyes. That's not accurate, either!

I hope you'll follow the news and tell others to follow it, too, but I also want you to make sure that the books you give to your children and students are ones that don't frame us in narrow, stereotypical ways. Check out, for example, this response from elders and leaders,  to a story at the New York Times that was clearly biased.

If you want to get your child or students a book that accurately depicts someone of the Great Sioux Nation, pick up Joseph Marshall's In the Footsteps of Crazy Horse. The main character in the story is a blue-eyed Lakota boy, on a road trip with his grandfather. It's a winner. 

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6. DESIGNERS WANTED - uppercase

UPPERCASE magazine are currently running two great opportunities for designers. The first is to appear in their UPPERCASE Surface Pattern Design Guide Second Edition (Jan/Feb/March 2017) that will feature the best in established and up-and-coming surface pattern designers. The second is to win a licensing contract with Windham Fabrics!. The deadline is September 12th so please visit this page

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7. THE GALLERY Winner!




We have a winner! According to randomizer, the winner of the hardcover copy of THE GALLERY by Laura Marx Fitzgerald is



Congratulations, Jess! Expect an email from me soon.

I'll be back next week with a new review and another giveaway!


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8. My Cat Copies Me

My Cat Copies Me. Yoon-duck Kwon. 2007. Kane/Miller. 40 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: My cat copies me. We tunnel under newspapers, and crouch behind doors. If I hide under the desk, or in the closet, she hides with me.

Premise/plot: A young girl loves, loves, loves her cat. The book shows the two interacting with each other--copying each other. It's a sweet, must-have for cat-lovers.

My thoughts: I absolutely LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this one. It's one of my favorite picture books that I've discovered since I began blogging ten years ago. I love the writing. I love the illustrations. I love that the first half shows the cat copying the girl, and that the second half shows the girl copying the cat.

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


© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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9. MMGM Links (8/29/16)

Here are this week's MMGM links!

- Jess at the Reading Nook is cheering for THE LAST KIDS ON EARTH AND THE ZOMBIE PARADE. Click HERE for her review. 
- Heidi Grange is feeling warm and fuzzy for FUZZY. Click HERE to see why. 
- Sally's Bookshelf is feeling lucky for LITTLE CAT'S LUCK. Click HERE to read her review.
- Mark Baker is spreading some love for HARRY POTTER AND THE CURSED CHILD. Click HERE to see what he thought. 
- Dorine White has a cover reveal for THE SAPPHIRE BLADE. Click HERE to check it out.
- The B.O.B. is caught up with THE OUTSIDERS. Click HERE to see why. 
- Greg Pattridge is celebrating MS. BIXBY'S LAST DAY. Click HERE to read his review.
- Rosi Hollinbeck is reviewing--and GIVING AWAY--IDA B. Click HERE for all the fun. 
- Jenni Enzor is spreading some sunshine for RAINY. Click HERE to see why.  
- Joanne Fritz always has an MMGM for you. Click HERE to see what she's talking about this week 
- The Mundie Moms are always huge supporters of middle grade. Click HERE for their Mundie Kids site. 
- Karen Yingling also always has some awesome MMGM recommendations for you. Click HERE to which ones she picked this time. 


If you would like to join in the MMGM fun, all you have to do is blog about a middle grade book you love on a Monday (contests, author interviews and whatnot also count--but are most definitely not required) and email me the title of the book you're featuring and a link to your blog at SWMessenger (at) hotmail (dot) com. (Make sure you put MMGM or Marvelous Middle Grade Monday in the subject line so it gets sorted accurately--and please don't forget to say what book you're featuring) You MUST email me your link by Sunday evening in order to be included in the list of links for the coming Monday. (usually before 11pm PST is safe--but if I'm traveling it can vary. When in doubt, send early!) (Also make sure the post you send me is a new post, not one from earlier in the week. I try to keep the content fresh)

If you miss the cutoff, you are welcome to add your link in the comments on this post so people can find you, but I will not have time to update the post. Same goes for typos/errors on my part. I do my best to build the links correctly, but sometimes deadline-brain gets the best of me, and I'm sorry if it does. For those wondering why I don't use a Linky-widget instead, it's a simple matter of internet safety. The only way I can ensure that all the links lead to safe, appropriate places for someone of any age is if I build them myself. It's not a perfect system, but it allows me to keep better control.

Thank you so much for being a part of this awesome meme, and spreading the middle grade love!


*Please note: these posts are not a reflection of my own opinions on the books featured. Each blogger is responsible for their own MMGM content and I do not pre-screen reviews ahead of time, nor do I control what books they choose. I simply assemble the list based on the links that are emailed to me. 

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10. TBR Monday: Diverse Reads and Long-Awaited Sequels

Yep, you guys. I went to the library again! Whee! That one on the top left? It's by Mariko Tamaki, who has also written a number of wonderful graphic novels for kids and teens.Top right: the final (I think) book in the Dream Thieves series, which is... Read the rest of this post

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11. Erman Yilmaz

Erman Yilmaz

Erman Yilmaz’s passion for street art highly influences his digital work. Like graffiti, his typographic arrangements intertwine with illustrations in an elaborate and colorful fashion. As the elements converge, he inserts hidden details that add extra significance to the message of each poster. To see more of his work, check out his street art and Instagram.

Erman Yilmaz

Erman Yilmaz

Erman Yilmaz

Erman Yilmaz

Erman Yilmaz

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Also worth viewing:

Mike McQuade
Tsto
Endre Berentzen

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Thanks to this week's Sponsor // Yana Typeface by Laura Worthington






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12. WHAT LIGHT: Cover Design

I want everyone to read my next book. That would be awesome for so many reasons! But I'll be plenty happy if the only people who read it are the people who want to read a story exactly like the one I wrote. (Although, I think the world would be a much better place if everyone did read it, which I feel morally obligated to say.)

So the most important job of a cover is to grab the attention of people looking for a story just like the one behind the cover. A good title helps, too, which is why I'm glad we settled on what we did rather than those...other ideas of mine.

Until I publish something that's illustrated (no...just checked...I can't say anything yet), one of the most exciting parts of having a book in production is seeing the cover. Or different versions of a cover. With What Light, I saw five potential cover designs. I went back and forth between two designs, but when I showed all five to a couple of people, they chose a different one. So I showed them to a few more people (authors, librarians...), but none of them agreed with me, which was the entire point!

What they kept landing on, whether they knew the premise of the book or not (I wanted both perspectives) was this...


And I liked that one, but I didn't love it. When they told me what they liked about it, I understood where they were coming from, but I imagined myself giving a PowerPoint presentation at a school or library, excitedly showing the covers of Thirteen Reasons Why and The Future of Us, and then casually putting up my latest offering.

How could I tweak this cover to become the cover I would choose? Thankfully, it was winter, and as I was strolling downtown, I came across this poster in a store window...


I snapped a photo of it and emailed it to my publisher and editor. I'll admit, I did not do the best job in telling them how I thought the image of the girl would be enhanced by adding light "flares" or "bursts" or "shimmers" or whatever I called them. And their casual response echoed that I did not describe my vision well enough to convince them.

So I had to show them.

To repeat myself, thankfully, it was winter. That meant I didn't have to climb into the garage attic to fetch a string of Christmas lights, I could simply untangle them from the tree! Then I pulled up the original design onto my laptop, which has a reflective screen, plugged in the lights, and snapped a photo of the cover that included reflected light flares/bursts/shimmers.


And I emailed them this...


Now they understood, and they sent back this...


Thank you, Theresa Evangelista, for working on this cover, which I absolutely love! It represents a book exactly like the one I wrote.

If you'd like to know what What Light is about, or pre-order it, here's a link!

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13. Embrace Complexity/Write It for the Young at Heart (video series)



A month ago, we shared our first video series on the making of memoir, a Udemy offering that can now be found here.

This past week, we filmed a series of ten video essays all relating to the big challenges, themes, and opportunities that present themselves to those writing for the young at heart. These essays reflect the thinking I've done over the past many years on topics ranging from the question, What is excellence? in this category, to the essential truths in all fictions, to the development of authentic voices and complex characters. Some of the pieces are adapted from keynote talks; most of the material is brand new, fashioned from the challenges I've faced as a writer, from the conversations I've had with teen readers and fellow prize jury members, and from my ongoing dialogue with the leading practitioners of YA and MG.

The full suite of videos will be up on Udemy by week's end.

Today I'm sharing this single episode from the series. I'm focused on complexity here—why it is important, and how it is achieved. I hope you'll find the time to watch it through. If you like what you see, perhaps you'll share it with a friend. If you'd like to receive an update when the series goes live, you know where to find me.

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14. Picture Book Monday with a review of What do you do with a problem?

Learning how to deal with problems is a vital skill to have. The funny thing is that many of us have no clue what to do when things go wrong. We wring our hands, have a panic attack, moan and groan, or burst into tears. We try to run away from our problems, or pretend that they are not there. Needless to say, none of these strategies improve our situation in the slightest.

Today's picture book will help readers of all ages to better understand how to deal with a problem. The narrative is beautifully presented without being preachy or pedantic. The story is supportive and it helps readers to think about their problems in a new way.

What Do You Do With a Problem?What do you do with a Problem?
Kobi Yamada
Illustrated by Mae Besom
Picture Book
For ages 5 and up
Compendium Inc, 2016, 978-1-943200-00-9
One day a little boy finds out that he is saddled with a problem, a problem that he does not like, did not ask for, and does not want. He has no idea what he is supposed to do with the problem or what it wants, and not surprisingly he would like it to go away. He tries shooing it, scowling at it, and even ignoring it but nothing works.
   The thing about problems is that they can cause a lot of new problems. People worry about them, and get anxious that their problem will do something to them or change their life in some dreadful way. The worry builds on itself and unfortunately this only makes the problem bigger.
   No matter what the little boy does his problem can always find him, and the more he tries to avoid it “the more I saw it everywhere.” The problem is taking over his life!
   No matter how old you are problems can get the better of you. They worry at you and make you so miserable that you start to feel as if your life is just one big, uncontrollable problem. Thankfully the author and the illustrator of this remarkable book understand exactly what this feels like, and they offer readers support that is simple and yet profound. It turns out that problems contain something special and surprising.

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15. Celebrating 25 Books Over 25 Years: Jim Thorpe’s Bright Path

Lee_Low_25th_Anniversary_Poster_2_LEE & LOW BOOKS celebrates its 25th anniversary this year and to recognize how far the company has come, we are featuring one title a week to see how it is being used in classrooms today as well, as hear from the authors and illustrators.

Today, we are celebrating Jim Thorpe’s Bright Path, an inspirational story for children of all backgrounds. A biography of the legendary Native American Jim Thorpe (1888–1953), voted the Greatest Football Player and Greatest Athlete of the Half-Century by two AP polls, focusing on his early childhood and how school and sports shaped his future.

Featured title: Jim Thorpe’s Bright Path

Author: Joseph Bruchac

Illustrator: S.D. Nelson

Synopsis: The biographymain_large of the legendary Native American, Jim Thorpe (1888–1953), focusing on his early childhood and how school and sports shaped his future.

From the day he was born, Jim Thorpe’s parents knew he was special. As the light shone on the road to the family’s cabin, his mother gave Jim another name — Wa-tho-huck — “Bright Path.”

Jim’s athletic skills were evident early on, as he played outdoors and hunted with his father and twin brother. When the boys were sent to Indian boarding school, Jim struggled in academics but excelled in sports. Jim moved from school to school over the years, overcoming family tragedies, until his athletic genius was recognized by Coach Pop Warner at the Carlisle Indian School.

Awards and Honors:

  • Carter G. Woodson Book Award Honor, National Council for Social Studies
  • Choices, Cooperative Children’s Book Center (CCBC)
  • Teachers’ Choices, International Reading Association (IRA)
  • Best of the Best List, Chicago Public Library, Children & YA Services
  • Storytelling World Resource Award, Storytelling World magazine

Check out this interview with author, Joseph Bruchac, about Native American literature.

Resources for teaching with Jim Thorpe’s Bright Path:

jim thorpe image blog

 

 

 

 

 

Discover other books like Jim Thorpe’s Bright Path with the Joseph Bruchac Collection!

Book Activities:

  1. Draw attention to the use of similes in the book. For example: Jim took to it all like a catfish takes to a creek. It made him (Jim) feel like a fox caught in an iron trap. Epidemics of influenza swept through like prairie fires. Have students try to write their own similes for other events or actions in the story.
  2. Ask students to explore the National Track & Field Hall of Fame (www.usatf.org ) or the Pro Football Hall of Fame (www.profootballhof.com ) and plan an imaginary trip there or enjoy a visual visit on the Web.

Have you used Jim Thorpe’s Bright Path? Let us know!

Celebrate with us! Check out our 25 Years Anniversary Collection

veronicabioVeronica has a degree from Mount Saint Mary College and joined LEE & LOW in the fall of 2014. She has a background in education and holds a New York State childhood education (1-6) and students with disabilities (1-6) certification. When she’s not wandering around New York City, you can find her hiking with her dog Milo in her hometown in the Hudson Valley, NY.

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16. A Bench in the Shade

You’ve got it made
With a bench in the shade
When the sun is boiling hot
But you’ve been played
For this charade
Is part of Nature’s plot.

See, I’m afraid
You’ve been betrayed
For thinking that this spot
Will masquerade
The heat that’s weighed
You down – but it will not.

It’s just delayed
The rays displayed
From letting you know what
You might have prayed
To barricade
Has added up to squat.

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17. Ten Year Blogoversary

Becky's Book Reviews turns ten today! Can you believe it?! In some ways, 2006 feels like yesterday, and, in other ways it feels like it's ages ago.

I'd love to hear from you. Are you new to the site? How long have you been coming around? I'd also really, really, really love to hear if you've picked up a book to read because of one of my reviews. I'd always love to know your opinions on books!!!

Your guess is as good as mine in terms of HOW many books I've reviewed over the past ten years. But definitely in the thousands. I wonder how many of them were rereads? Probably a third of them!!! I can't help myself when it comes to rereading favorites!!!

First book reviewed on the blog: New Moon by Stephenie Meyer
Last book reviewed on the blog: The Crate Train by Dorothy Z. Seymour
The year I was out of control with posts: 2008! (1144 posts in a single year?!?!)
Favorite author ten years ago: Orson Scott Card
Favorite author now: Could never pick. Really. I've discovered at least fifty favorite authors since 2006. Georgette Heyer. Anthony Trollope. Wilkie Collins. Anne Perry. Connie Willis. Ray Bradbury. Rex Stout. Agatha Christie. Josephine Tey. Dorothy Sayers. E. Nesbit. I mean I could go on and on all day.
Best thing to come out of blogging: My dear, dear, dear, dear bestest friend who introduced herself to me as "Anonymous L."

Favorite author that I've connected with online? ROBIN BRANDE is all kinds of WONDERFUL!!!!! And I still can't believe that Candice F. Ransom knows who I am. The Sunfire Romances from the 80s were my LIFE. I really got quite bonded with Winchester, her cat.

One thing I didn't realize when I started blogging was how quickly books go out of print. Some of my 'favorite, favorite' books I read in my early years are no longer available, and, the library has discarded some as well. I do have a tendency to take books for granted and book availability for granted and I shouldn't! (Another thing I have a tendency to do is--in the quickness of my typing--misspell library as LIBARY. I have to fix this often!!!)

A handful of publishers have been really, really good to me through the years:

Scholastic
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Candlewick

Other publishers have been nice as well:

Penguin Random House (I get RANDOM surprises but don't have an email contact)
Harry N. Abrams (got reconnected this past year!!!!)
Simon & Schuster (sadly lost touch)
Bloomsbury USA

One publisher that I sadly lost touch with years ago was Kane/Miller. I miss my Travel the World Wednesday posts.


© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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18. On ‘Cats Don’t Dance,’ Eric Goldberg, And The Difference Between Watching and Seeing Cartoons

Asking questions about animation is what separates the connoisseur from the fanboy.

The post On ‘Cats Don’t Dance,’ Eric Goldberg, And The Difference Between Watching and Seeing Cartoons appeared first on Cartoon Brew.

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19. Book Review: The American Girl by Kate Horsley

The American Girl
On a quiet summer morning seventeen-year-old American exchange student Quinn Perkins stumbles out of the woods near the small French town of St. Roch, barefoot, bloodied, and unable to say what has happened to her.

Quinn's appearance creates a stir, especially since her host family, the Blavettes, has mysteriously disappeared. Now the media, and everyone in the idyllic village, are wondering if the American girl has anything to do with the missing family.

A Boston reporter named Molly Swift travels to St. Roch, prepared to do anything to learn the truth and score the ultimate scoop. After Quinn is arrested and a trial by media ensues, she finds an unlikely ally in the young journalist. Molly unravels the disturbing secrets of the town's past in an effort to clear Quinn's name, but even she is forced to admit that the American girl makes a compelling suspect.

Is Quinn truly an innocent abroad, or is she a cunning, diabolical killer intent on getting away with murder?
Writing
Another entry in the "thrillers with the word 'girl' in the title" and I think that pretty much sums up the writing.  Another entry.  It's nothing bad, but nothing stands out about it as exceptional either.  It reads quickly, and it's entertaining, but it doesn't bring anything new or outstanding to the genre.  The ending wasn't particularly shocking or thrilling and I wasn't kept guessing up until the end.  I also wasn't captivated by the characters or drawn to any aspect of the story line in a way that stands out from the herd.

Entertainment Value
Again, it was a great diversion.  I went through it quickly, it kept my attention, I wasn't bored.  I also wasn't blown away and I doubt that it'll be one that I can recall the plot for a year or two down the road.  It's a fine book and I don't have anything negative to say about it as far as the reading experience is concerned, but I also don't have many raves for it either.  It's another entry in the generic thrillers about girls who may or may not be telling the truth category and it does a fine job of being what it is.

Overall
If this is your genre, I think it's a fine title to grab.  I'm enjoying all of the Gone Girl, Girl on the Train, etc, etc, etc spin offs, and this one isn't an exception.  I'm not sure it lives up to the high standard of those titles, but it's a fine diversion for an afternoon.  If you're not just super into the genre, I'd say maybe skip it and pick one of the more well known iterations that's getting all the buzz.  Sometimes the hype is there for a reason.

Thanks to TLC for having me on the tour and providing me with a copy of this one to review.  Click here for a link to the other stops on the tour!

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20. Behind-the-scenes: How new picture book PIRASAURS! was created, with insights from author Josh Funk and illustrator Michael Slack

Back in May 2013, I posted an interview with Celia Lee, an editor at Cartwheel Books / Scholastic, and Celia invited Inkygirl readers to submit manuscripts for a limited time; apparently Celia received over a thousand submissions (!). A couple of years later, I met Josh Funk at nErDcampMI and found out that he had sold one of his picture book manuscripts to Celia as a result of my Inkygirl post, and it was being illustrated by Michael Slack.

I'm thrilled that PIRASAURS! is launching this week from Cartwheel/Scholastic. You can find out more about the book at the Scholastic page about the book, Josh Funk's Pirasaurs! page (where you can also find lesson ideas, reviews, links to other interviews and more), and the trailer below:

I asked Josh Funk how PIRASAURS! got created, and here's what he told me:

On February 27th, 2013 at 2:53 in the morning, I woke up. I don't remember what I was dreaming of. I don't remember what I watched on TV the night before or what I ate for dinner (or late night snack). I do know that I sent a text with a single word to myself:

pirasaurs

Ok, maybe that's not a word (yet). But it was a single string of letters. And I knew what to do with them.

Over the next two days, I furiously wrote a story featuring pirate-dinosaurs and a slew of other characters. It was my first time using internal rhyme (rhymes within a single line of text) and I had a blast with it. It turned out to be sort of a concept book. There were a bunch of crazy characters. The ending didn't really make all that much sense. But about 40 hours later, I had a full first draft that was ready to be sent to a critique group.

Here is the opening section of the 'Concept Book' version of Pira-Saurs!

I brought the manuscript to my critique group twice over the next three months, and while much of the manuscript was tweaked, the opening Pira-Saurs! section stayed pretty much the same.

And then on May 20th, 2013, Debbie Ohi posted an interview with Celia Lee, editor at Cartwheel Books an imprint of Scholastic. Within a week, news had spread that a fancy Scholastic editor was accepting unsolicited submissions of picture books for ages 0-5. The funny thing was, Pira-Saurs! was the only manuscript I had that really fit the 0-5 age range. Most of the manuscripts I'd written fell more into the 5-8 area (although I personally believe that most of what I write is good for anyone between the ages of 0 and 92).

So, in late May, I sent Pira-Saurs! to the Scholastic offices in NYC via snail mail. I never sent Pira-Saurs! to anyone else. And then I went about my business, because at the time, I had no book deals, no agent, and really, I'd never received any positive feedback on anything I'd sent to an industry professional up to that point.

PIRASAURS! author Josh Funk with his editor, Celia Lee

And then on July 9th, my phone buzzed. I'd received an email with the subject "Pira-Saurs! for Cartwheel Books" and everything slowed down. I was used to getting email rejections, so when I saw that it was a writing-related email, I instinctively thought, "oh, well, another no." But a few more synapses fired and I realized that I'd only sent Pira-Saurs! to one person, and it had been snail mail. And why would an editor bother sending an email rejection to a snail mail submission? That just wouldn't happen. Could this actually be good news?

Yes! Celia Lee had found the manuscript and liked it! It wasn't perfect (yet), but she wanted to work on it before bringing it to acquisitions. The next ten days were a flurry of emails and brainstorms and waking up in the middle of the night with new lines and rhymes. And on July 19th, Celia thought the manuscript was ready to bring to acquisitions. Hooray!

Or not hooray? On September 5th, Celia wrote back that Scholastic was going to pass on Pira-Saurs! ... but, they editorial team liked my voice and writing style. Celia asked if I would write another story, this time featuring just Pirasaurs - and cut the rest of the slew of other characters. My answer was "Of course!

But all I had were those three stanzas. And I needed to create a whole story with a full plot and compelling characters. And as an unpublished, unagented writer, I felt I needed to strike quickly before Celia Lee forgot who I was. I frantically wrote a draft, shared it with a few critique partners:

Thank you, Paul Czajak for suggesting I add an adventure and Anna Staniszewski for pushing that I add a little heart. Within a week of rejection, I had sent Celia a brand new completed manuscript. We revised it over the next few days, and on September 19th (which happens to be Talk Like a Pirate Day), I handed it off to Celia to take to acquisitions again. I didn't hear anything until a month and a half later, I received an offer on Lady Pancake & Sir French Toast and subsequently signed with an agent. At that point, Celia mentioned that the editorial director and art director were trying to set up a meeting to discuss potential illustrators before taking to acquisitions. I was told this was a good sign. And by late January of 2014, 8 months after Debbie's interview, Scholastic offered to acquire Pirasaurs! And pretty quickly they found the perfect illustrator... Michael Slack.

Illustrator Michael Slack's creative space.

From Debbie: 

Illustrator Michael Slack worked with art director Patti Ann Harris, editor Celia Lee and designer Jessica Tice-Gilbert for Pirasaurs!

Michael says that he did a lot of sketches early on. "Pages and pages of dinosaurs, hats, swords, and cannons."

 

"Once I found the characters I did a few rounds of really loose thumbnails. After  I had the story pacing in good shape, I switched from pencil and paper to digital to create the sketch dummy. Ultimately I ended up with three different versions of the dummy. The final illustrations were digitally painted in Photoshop."

Thanks to both Michael and Josh for sharing about the process of creating PIRASAURS!

You can find out more about PIRASAURS! at the Scholastic website.

More about Josh Funk and his work at JoshFunkBooks.com.

More about Michael Slack and his work at Slackart.com.

------

For more interviews, see my Inkygirl Interview Archive.

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21. Full of Beans, by Jennifer L. Holm -- (ages 9-12)

Does building resilience in kids mean they have to be able to handle everything by themselves? Or that they can weather the hard times, with their sense of self intact? I adore Jennifer Holm's newest novel Full of Beans precisely for the way that Beans struggles through hard times, learning about the consequences of his decisions, yet never losing his sense of humor or his loyalty to his family and friends. It is both delightful to read and wonderful to reflect upon.

Full of Beans
by Jennifer L. Holm
Random House, 2016
Your local library
Amazon
ages 9-12
*best new book*
Beans Curry knows life is hard with the Great Depression--his dad is out of work, leaving home to look for work up north, and his mom takes in laundry, raising the family in their Key West home. Beans tries to help, sifting through the garbage looking for cans because a local con man has promised him twenty cents a can.

Life keeps throwing bum deals his way--the con man refuses to pay Beans what he promised--but Beans won't give up. He helps his mother babysit his crabby baby brother; he leads his gang of friends, challenging other kids to marbles; and he keeps his eye out new opportunities. So when a rumrunner makes him a proposition, it seems like things are finally turning up. Beans just doesn't predict how his actions might put others in harm's way. As the starred Horn Book review wrote,
Beans’s earnest voice shows a young boy trying so hard to help out and to do the right thing, but getting caught up in dubious circumstances over which he has no control.
Readers may remember Beans from Jennifer Holm's popular Turtle in Paradise (my review here), but this new story stands on its own. I think that the setting Depression-era Key West becomes even more fully realized in Full of Beans, as Holm seamlessly weaves historical details into the story. I especially like what librarian Tasha Saecker wrote over at Waking Braincells:
Holm writes with a natural ease that is deceptively easy to read. Her writing allows readers to explore Key West in a time just as it is becoming a tourist destination due to the New Deal and its workers. Beans’ personal story is clearly tied to the story of Key West with his own despair and lack of money mirroring the city’s. His own journey through to honesty and truth follows that of the city as well. It’s a clever dynamic that makes both roads to change all the easier to relate to and believe.
This would make a terrific read-aloud, either as a family or in the classroom. Terrific sayings from the 30s infuse the dialog, and short chapters keep the pace moving quickly. Readers will root for Beans, whether it's as he's playing marbles against a rival gang or as he's struggling with hard decisions that will affect his neighbors and friends.

I'm especially looking forward to talking with my students in our Mock Newbery Book Club about how Beans responds to hard situations and how he changes. I wonder how they'll envision the setting of Key West, and themes they'll identify in the story.

Join me on Wednesday -- I'm looking forward to sharing an interview with Jenni Holm. I'm especially looking forward to sharing a slideshow of images of 1930s Key West. The review copies were kindly sent by the publisher, Random House Books. If you make a purchase using the Amazon links on this site, a small portion goes to Great Kid Books. Thank you for your support.

©2016 Mary Ann Scheuer, Great Kid Books

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22. Happy(Belated)Birthday, Gillian Rubinstein!


Image borrowed from the author's website

I only found out about this last night on Twitter, when this wonderful writer received birthday congratulations under her pen name of Lian Hearn. See, she doesn't even appear on the Famous Birthdays web site, where there are a whole lot of celebrities, even among the authors, of most of whom I've never heard. I'd heard of Nancy Holder, but not read any of her work.

So, happy birthday, Gillian/Lian!

I read some of her fiction in my early days as a librarian. In Space Demons a bunch of kids playing a game not unlike Space Invaders find themselves inside the game - which reacts to you according to how you behave. If you're angry and in the mood for shooting things...well, you're going to get what you put into it. We used this one for Literature Circles and it made for good discussion. A bit dated, but still has something to say. 

I read some others, of course - Foxspell, Galaxarena, the rest of the Space Demons trilogy ...

And then Tales Of The Otori came along, under a pen name. I confess I've only got around to reading the first one, Across The Nightingale Floor, but I loved it! It was set in an alternative Japan, in which the ninja fighters really did have the magical powers ascribed to them in our own world. They were called something else, of course, but they were definitely ninjas. I won't go further, because spoilers, but read it!

I have been fortunate enough to hear her speak, some years ago, at the Melbourne Writers' Festival. She was talking about how she got her impressions of such things as country and city children from the likes of Enid Blyton, which she read enthusiastically as a child. Country children good, city children, spoiled and horrible.

It didn't affect her writing, though.

So, happy birthday and many more to come!

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23. Changes.

Tomorrow, the little girl starts kindergarten.  This will reduce our little girl time to 2 or 3 hours a day.  Am I happy?  Actually, um, no.  She has a lot of playing left.  And I am not all that enamored of our public education system.  

Still, she is ready.  But who will play with me during those extra hours? 

Everybody else keeps growing up!!!

In The Secret of Goldenrod, Trina is almost 11 and entering fifth grade and her father is so embarrassing.  They are off to refurbish Goldenrod, a stately home in the middle of nowhere, that has been empty for almost a century.  Unlike their other jobs that kept them busy for a month or two, Goldenrod will take a whole year and Trina will have finally time to make friends.  She hopes her mother will stop gallivanting around the world and finally return to the family. 

Then she sees the old house in a field of yellow weeds, and the house doesn't want them there.

A hidden room, a forgotten dollhouse and its tiny doll, a nasty schoolmate and a small town with secrets add up to a great story.

Author Jane O'Reilly sets this up as a convincing haunted house story, but with the discovery of the dollhouse things begin to change.   The last few chapters are the best as they pull everything together and give a happy ending that is also unexpected.


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24. Wonder Women

Sam Maggs has written a fun collected biography (as we call them in the library trade) about women in science, medicine, innovation, espionage and adventure titled - wait for it - Wonder Women.

Maggs writing style is up-to-the minute and whip smart.  I'm only one third through this book and my mind is totally boggled.  Without flipping another page, I would give this book 5 stars.  Maggs searched long and hard and found women heroes from Asia, Europe and the Americas, of all colors and persuasions.  Her mini-bios between segments - Maggs arranges the books by the various disciplines cited above - give peeks into the lives of other accomplished women.  Maggs also includes interviews with women professionals who work in those disciplines.

Anyway, I am so excited by this book's content and writing style that I couldn't wait to tell you all about it.  Thanks to Sam and to Quirk Books for offering this title.  Not out til October!  You can pre-order it here  (This is not an affiliate link.  I just don't like Amazon all that much.), or order from your favorite bookseller.  Don't let ME tell you what to do.

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25. How to develop my ideas

Question: I have a plot in mind put it is very difficult to develop it. I don't know what to do. I have the idea but how to write about events and things

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