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If you ever wondered who Sonia Manzano’s (“Maria” from Sesame Street) favorite Muppet is, here’s her answer: Oscar the Grouch. “He’s negative.” He acts anywhere from age 80 to 8. He stirs up conflict in an otherwise harmonious neighborhood, and this conflict leads to stories.
In fact, Manzano’s new memoir, “Becoming Maria: Love and Chaos in the South Bronx” (Scholastic) is all about conflict–her tumultuous childhood in the Bronx, her Puerto Rican roots, and her longing for a “Leave it to Beaver” type of stability. With Maria, she was able to act out (and later, write scripts about) a character that children in inner cities could relate to, and provide them with storylines that offered satisfying resolutions–something they may seldom get in real life. She could be a mirror for these kids, an escape from a hard home life, and a role model.
Manzano thinks her difficult childhood lead to her success. Not in spite of her challenges, but because of her challenges, she was able to become a great actor, writer, and humanitarian.
She spoke quite a bit about the importance of empathy. Sure, people tell their kids to “Be nice.” But what about going beyond that? She questions why some people are afraid to let kids read sad stories. In books, readers are able to connect with characters and feel the deep emotions that dwell within them. It’s the perfect avenue for building empathy, and she believes we should consciously instill this value in children.
Manzano was a fabulous speaker. Many of us in the audience grew up watching her on television, and looked to her as one of the really inspirational and comforting adult figures in our lives. Manzano advocated for television; she pointed out that sometimes TV is a much-needed escape for some children, and that, like a book, it’s just the jumping off point for the imagination: What happens to characters when they’re not on TV, how does the story continue when the set is off? Kids with the freedom to imagine can, and will, grow up to be resourceful and successful adults.
With author Brian Michael Bendis leaving the X-Men franchise via Uncanny X-Men #600, Marvel fans have been waiting for the announcement of the next creative team on the title. Now, the wait is over as the House of Ideas has revealed writer Jeff Lemire, penciller Humberto Ramos and colorist Edgar Delgado as the next team for the upcoming All-New, All-Different X-Men title: The Extraordinary X-Men. We asked Lemire about the prospects of writing the X-Men just last week in our exclusive interview with the creator — read what he had to say.
Many of the plot details in the comic are shrouded in mystery surrounding of Secret Wars. However, Lemire revealed that the story is spinning a stronger relationship between the X-Men and Inhumans — the Terrigen Mists will play a role in the story. Also, Cyclops and many of the main cast members appear to be missing from the traditional X-Men roster.
The new line-up sees a team without the more traditional versions Wolverine or Cyclops — that’s where Old Man Logan comes in with the eXtra eXperience. Storm is leading the Extraordinary X-Men in the place of the absent Wolverine. The All-New X-Men of the time displaced future are still represented in the title through Jean Grey. The adult Ice Man is gracing the team alongside the traditional versions of Colossus, Nightcrawler, and Magik. CBR announced the news and shared an exclusive interview with Lemire.
Here’s Lemire talking to CBR about the origins of the phrase “Extraordinary”:
We wanted something new that hadn’t been used before and “Extraordinary” almost felt like one of those ones where we couldn’t believe no one had done a book called “Extraordinary X-Men” before.
The author chimed in on how he feels about his past work intercut with this current feelings on the X-Men franchise:
I think in the past I got too focused on plot and lost characters a bit in the other team books. There’s a tendency to have plot plot plot, insert character moment here. For the X-Men, I’m approaching it much more where the whole book is a character moment with action stuff interspersed, kind of the reverse of that.
No release date has been announced for the title. Stay tuned to The Beat, as more Marvel information is set to be revealed this week.
Violet Mackerel’s Formal Occasion by Anna Branford, illus. Sarah Davis, Walker Books Australia
This is another one to add to my collection of Violet Mackerel stories – which is being kept for a couple of years until my granddaughter is old enough to enjoy the books. They are delightful little stories that tick all the right boxes – short, easy to read, focusing on situations involving family and friends, illustrated with lively pen and ink pictures, and sporting bright, eye-catching covers. Because they’re hardback they look extra-special and would make excellent presents. This particular story looks at a topic close to the hearts of most little girls – getting dressed up and going out somewhere special. I think this is the eighth book in the series, and I heartily recommend them for newly-competent readers of about six to eight.
See more books in the series here. Craft ideas that complement the books here.
Charlie Boxer returns in one of Robert Wilson’s best novels to date. Two years after the events of You Will Never Find Me Charlie Boxer’s life is nearing some normalcy. Normal for a kidnap consultant whose services offer a little bit extra revenge on the side. His relationships with his ex-wife Mercy and daughter Amy […]
For Agnieszka, getting chosen as tribute to serve the wizard Dragon in his remote castle is the worst fate that could happen to an ordinary village girl with a stubborn streak. But things only get more complicated when her best friend is taken by a creature from the nearby corrupt Woods, and some of Agnieszka's [...]
BBC America’s Orphan Black seems so immediate, so plausible, so unfuturistic, that Cosima Herter, the show’s science consultant, is used to being asked whether human reproductive cloning could be happening in a lab somewhere right now. If so, we wouldn’t know, she says. It’s illegal in so many countries, no one would want to talk about it. But one thing is clear, she told me, when we met to talk about her work on the show: in our era of synthetic biology — of Craig Venter’s biological printer and George Church’s standardized biological parts, of three-parent babies and of treatment for cancer that involves reengineered viruses— genetics as we have conceived of it is already dead. We don’t have the language for what is emerging.
It’s one of my favorite things I’ve written, and also one of the strangest. It’s very much keeping with the forward-looking aspects of the book I’m working on. And it has the endorsements of a whole lotta Orphan Blackers, including, Tatiana Maslany, Graeme Manson, and Herter herself, which makes me happy.
Anyone care to Find the DISRUPTIVE bone in your body?
Disrupt: : to cause (something) to be unable to continue in the normal way : to interrupt the normal progress or activity of (something)
As I walked from event to event in San Francisco, rode the shuttle buses and rubbed elbows at the sit down and stand up events, I really wanted to know what it was like to be in other people’s library world and to get a sense of their challenges.
So I asked people this question, “What would you do to be disruptive in your library world?”
That word disruptive hit some people instantly as something negative and unruly. There was a little bit of fear in the first hearing of it.
But being librarians they pushed past the fear and really thought about it. I heard about school librarians who work in more than one building.
I met librarians who come in to different libraries in their district and who see librarians who are holding on to “their system” and “their way of doing things.” One story was about a librarian who shelved all of the Barbie and Batman books (etc.) by author significantly challenging anyone to find more than one book on these characters.
I heard about the struggle a public library system has to create a partnership with their public school system.
I heard about the fight to “teach” the community about the VALUE of libraries and what we have to offer.
I thought about the long line of librarians who have been fighting the good fight for so many years and remembered this piece I’d seen recently.
In October 1945 the ALA Executive Board dedicated a morning to explore the future of librarianship. Here are some quotes from this ALA Executive Board meeting from 70 years ago (and the source is the A.L.A. Bulletin published in February 1946.)
“If the profession seems to lack dynamism some of the responsibility rests with administrators. All too many still hold professional members to routine work and give what seem valid reasons why all must take their turn at essential clerical tasks.
We need an improved type of professional personnel, a conception of administration which would make use of all the thinking, all the ideas and potential planning of the entire professional body in an institution, not just of departmental heads.
Personally, I believe in the Campbell soup method. It is very nearly impossible to pick up a magazine without coming face to face with a colorful Campbell soup advertisement or a glamorous liquor ad. The first makes you hungry and the second makes you want to go right out and imbibe. This method must be good. Even religion is catching on. “Go to church next Sunday” is the exhortation I’ve been noticing on billboards and in magazines these last few years.
I should like to know what an advertising campaign on a national scale would do for libraries. I’d be willing to wager that it would up their status as a matter of course. Communities generally get what they want if they want it hard enough, and when the people as a whole get library conscious they will tend to demand better libraries.
As to coverage, brought into the picture by Mr. Richards, Mr. Ulveling, and Miss Rothrock — deploring the low percentage of use of libraries –I agree that it is deplorable, but I am convinced that the answer is not just a question of obtaining finances for exploiting all the new devices — the film, the record, the phonograph, television — which will insure us a new dynamism, but something more basic, even more fundamental, important as that is, than a reorganization which will free the heads of departments, as Miss Herbert urges, “to do the thinking and planning.”
This board in 1945 was shouting out the need to be disruptive, to let new ideas push through, to invite librarians at all levels in the organization to create new ideas and make the library synonymous with the word dynamic. Does any of this sound familiar?
So now it’s your turn…… “What would you do to be disruptive in your library system?”
I’m about two-thirds of the way through a book I am reading to review for Library Journal. The book is called J.M. Coetzee and the Life of Writing by David Attwell. It is a sort of writing biography of Coetzee and is quite good. If you are a fan of the writer, this is one you will probably want to look out for.
Over the weekend Patterson and Coetzee provided a fascinating opportunity to glimpse and compared the writing process of two well-known writers. The writing process has always fascinated me. Everyone has one and goes about putting words on paper or computer screen in a variety of ways. Some writers fetishize certain objects —they have to write with a particular pen in a certain color on a particular kind of paper, or while pounding away at the keyboard there has to be particular piece by Mozart playing and there has to be a cup of tea/coffee in a certain mug placed just so on the desk — and claim to not be able to write without them. Some writers need to have a title first, or write the last sentence first or start in the middle or always begin a new project on the same date or sit down to write at the same exact time every day.
The actual writing part though, there are only so many ways a person can go about it, nonetheless, it remains a perennial and dreaded question at book readings, the moment someone in the audience stands up and asks, “so how did you go about writing this book?” What is wanted, of course, is the secret that only “real” writers know. The password, the handshake, the mystery revealed, the drug, the prayer, the key to it all so that said audience member can go home and write that novel they have inside them and make millions doing it. No one wants to hear an author say the truth, I sat down and wrote for six hours every day, seven days a week for four months (or more) and wrote and rewrote and wrote some more and tossed out and started over and wrote some more and rewrote over and over until it was done. What’s an author to do? Tell the truth no one wants to hear or make something up? The third option is avoiding answering the question entirely. I have heard all three answers at one time or another.
Of course in Patterson’s online writing class he has to address the question, he is the teacher and it is his job to explain how to write a novel. Patterson takes the truthful route but at the same time he makes it sound rather easy. To write a novel, one must first write an outline, do not begin writing without an outline, your book will be doomed. For Patterson, an outline is not the kind you had to do in school with the Roman numerals and the letters and headings and subheadings. He means a narrative outline. There are still numbers but the numbers correspond to chapters and basically what you are writing is a summary of the chapter. With such an outline you can work out plot and pacing before you get in too deep. You can find the slow bits and the holes and fix them before they grow out of control. That’s the idea anyway.
And it seems like a good idea that is really useful for a plot-driven James Patterson sort of novel. Heck, it is probably a good idea for a variety of novel types. It is neat and tidy. And of course once you have your outline, you know how you are going to get from point A to B to C. You know what happens in each chapter. All you have to do is fill in the details. Easy!
Coetzee’s approach is so much messier. No outline, just write. Draft after draft after draft. He makes notes as he goes. He changes character names and locations and plot and then he changes them back again and then he changes them again to something else entirely. It is organic and labyrinthine. It is a journey in which the ending is not known in advance, but is rather a sort of quest; a quest for a story, a quest for an answer to a question, a quest for understanding, a quest for any number of things. No bones about it, it is a lot of work.
And I find myself wondering, do the two approaches reflect the differences between commercial fiction and Nobel Prize winning fiction? Could an author whose process is like Patterson’s win a Nobel? Could someone whose process is like Coetzee’s be successful at commercial fiction and spend 24 weeks on top of the bestseller lists? Which comes first, the process or the desire to write a certain kind of fiction? Do people who make outlines naturally make a course for more commercial fiction? Do the messy organic writers automatically find themselves in literary fiction? And what about other kinds of writing, genre and nonfiction in all its variety? Is this a chicken or egg question?
Maybe. Probably. Likely the answer is a combination of all sorts of factors but it is interesting to consider.
We are having a protracted heat wave here in the PNW. The biggest problem with day after day of high temps is that so many places are not air conditioned (including our house) so after a few days nothing cools off inside. It's bearable if you can sit in front of a fan non-stop, but golly! Come back cool, drizzly PNW days!
Koala keeps popping up in all the wrong places... that is, he keeps showing up everywhere! Try as he might to get rid of the "most terrible" Koala, Adam eventually learns there may be worse things than a friend who won't leave you alone. Books mentioned in this post I Don't Like Koala Sean Ferrell [...]
Welcome back everybody for another fantastic Tuesday Slice of Life Story Challenge! Write a story on your own blog. Leave a link to your story here, in the comment section. Then comment on… Continue reading →
Gaelwriter, 1990, on wilderness hike in Sweetwater Mountains, CA
One of the universal themes in fiction writing is "leaving." Our main character has been left by another, or he/she has left someone else. The event, whether it be a death, divorce, abandonment, or dismissal, typically sets off a powerful series of predictable emotional grief stages, which might be exploited by the writer in plotting an arc for a novel. These stages are variously described in the literature (esp. E. Kubler-Ross's On Death and Dying) as including denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. Some studies have suggested adding a couple more stages, but Kubler-Ross' basic five will do for our discussion.
A recently published book, Wild, by Cheryl Strayed, provides a vivid example of writing a story with a theme of leaving (Wild is actually a memoir). Like her mom, somewhat independent and venturesome as a young woman, and strongly attached to her mother, Cheryl is stunned when her still early-forties mom is diagnosed with inoperable cancer. At the time, the mom, with her second husband, and Cheryl, and two younger siblings are living in comfortable but spartan, homestead-like conditions in a wooded area of Minnesota.
There is the first stage of the leaving theme, where Cheryl angrily denies the likelihood of her mother dying, and vents her anger toward the medical staff, as well as toward her siblings, for failing to meet her expectations to support their mother. Then, as things look very bleak, the inevitable bargaining with God, and more anger when it seems God will not respond. A sort of depression follows the mom's death, as Cheryl, married just a couple of years earlier at nineteen, plummets into a long period of risky and sordid behavior, involving random, extra-marital sex, drinking, and drugs. She was determined to ruin her own marriage, and does, and goes on to wallow in depression. During her spiral down, she happens to read a guide book for hiking the Pacific Crest Trail, a very long trail that traverses desert and mountains across California, Oregon, and Washington, to Canada. Although never having done anything like this trek, she's had a very woodsy upbringing, and feels this could be a sort of redemptive journey for herself. From the very beginning, when she starts out alone and with a backpack she can barely lift, at first hiking only six or seven miles a day, she has some mesmerizing adventures and encounters on her epic three months, eleven-hundred mile long journey along that part of the PCT reaching from the Mojave Desert in California to the Bridge of the Gods at the Washington state border. Refusing to quit through all the adversities and fearful encounters along the PCT, Cheryl succeeds in finding her way through her final stages of grief following her mother's departure--to a genuine acceptance of herself. A really engrossing, well-written memoir. Reminded me a bit, just a bit, of my own, much shorter wilderness hiikes, though mine also had a strenuous element of total fasting, just water during a special, four-day "Vision Quest" segment on each of those trips. The three trips, all in California wilderness areas, included Sweetwater Mountains, Inyo Mountains, and Death Valley. The photo above harkens back more years than one remembers easily.Add a Comment
EventBrite, the ticketing agency, caused a lot of talk last year when they released the results of the first survey of convention attendees with breakdowns on gender, spending and more.
They’ve done another survey this year, and the results are even more detailed. Rob Salkowitz has done a round-up over at ICv2 but the Beat has also been given an exclusive preview of some of the data on safety at the con.
The survey was done to provide greater insight into the multi-billion dollar fandom events and convention business, and surveyed 2165 total respondents over two weeks in May. Respondents were drawn from Eventbrite users, with a few from external respondents via social media. 94% of respondents attended a fan event or convention in the past 12 months, While the poll did not cover sexual orientation, race or ethnicity, it delved into gender, and the news is that as far as men and women go it’s now even steven. Also, there is far more gender diversity among purchasers of indie/alt.comix than among regular comics. And that attendees of Tabletop/role-playing games felt less safe than any other kind of event — perhaps because fans of these are actually USED to acting out? Just a guess there.
SO MUCH TO CHEW ON. For breakdowns read on:
Fandom Overall Has Achieved Gender Parity
• Last year, in a survey using the same methodology and roughly the same sample size, the overall gender breakdown across all fandoms was 46% female, 54% male, but was 50/50 under age 30. (the survey did not provide a non-binary/other option in 2014)
• This year, gender identity breakdown across all responses was 48.9% female, 48.7% male, , 2.4% non-binary/other
• Fandom as a whole is trending female, with women very slightly outnumbering men in our overall sample.
• Under age 40, it’s 50.8% female/46.1% male/3.1% non-binary/other
• There are hardly any significant attitude or behavior differences expressed between male and female fans across most topics polled.
…but gender gaps remain across specific fan interest areas.
• Despite the overall trend toward women across all fan interest areas polled, no individual fandom is close to 50/50
• Tabletop and role-playing gaming and comic book fandom are where the boys are, clocking in at over 62% male.
• Female fans flock to anime/manga, science fiction and genre/comics-based media.
• Fans identifying as “non-binary/other” are most likely to be found in Alt/small press and anime/manga fandom.
Cosplayers are Intense Fans, Spenders, Frequent Con Attendees
• 499 respondents, or around 23% of our sample, identified themselves as serious cosplayers and/or people who attend shows just to engage in cosplay
• The highest percentage – 29.4% – identified themselves as primarily manga/anime fans. 21% are fans of comic and genre-based media, and 17.7% science fiction and fantasy fans.
• More than 85% of cosplayers are under 40, with nearly 60% between the ages of 23-39.
• Cosplayers are predominantly female (62.5%), with 32% male and 5% non-binary/other
• Only 30% of cosplayers report spending less than $100 at shows. Most (42.7%) spend between $101-250, consistent with the spending patterns of non cosplayers.
• Cosplayers go to more cons than practically any other group. 64% of serious cosplayers attend 3 or more fan events per year. More than 27% attend 5 or more fan events per year.
Cons Generally Make Fans Feel Safe and Welcome
• When asked “In general, do you feel the fan events you attend do enough to make all attendees feel safe and welcome,” 7.2% of respondents (143 total) said no. 92.8% said yes.
• Anime/manga and toy/collectible fans seem to feel their events do best, with fewer than 5% feeling unsafe.
• By far the worst fandom for safety is Tabletop/role-playing games, with around 17% of fans in that category answering “no.”
• Videogaming fans (mostly male fandom) response is at about 10%; comic and genre-based media (the most female fandom) is around the same.
• There were few statistical differences between how men, women and non-binary/other genders answered this question.
• Among those who feel unsafe and unwelcome:
o 53.5% are female, 45.1% are male, 1.4% are non-binary/other
o 20% are serious cosplayers. 44% do not cosplay at all.
o 40% have been going to cons for more than 10 years
o 35% spend $250 or more
o 85% go in groups of two or more, including family
A brief look at 'grams of interest to engage teens and librarians navigating this social media platform.
As of this year, the American Library Association (ALA) has designated June as GLBT Book Month to celebrate authors and books depicting the lives and experiences of members of the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender community. While many libraries Instagrammed their GLBT displays earlier in the month, many more images were posted after last week's Supreme Court decision to legalize same-sex marriage. With photos of book spines arranged in rainbows, #bookfacefriday posts, and images of library booths at pride events, libraries showed their support for the GLBT community.
For resources on selecting materials for displays or collection development, the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Round Table (GLBTRT) provides resources including the Stonewall Book Award recipients and lists of Rainbow Books and Over the Rainbow Books for youth and adults, respectively.
Using the data he collected from his dating website as well as other social media sources, Harvard grad and OkCupid cofounder Christian Rudder presents us with a highly readable, honest, and funny look at human behavior. From flirting demographics to marital success stats, he demonstrates our changeable yet predictable nature in a way that is [...]
Margaret Wild is a much-loved, award-winning author with over 70 titles to her name, having great success with acclaimed books including Fox, The Very Best of Friends, Harry and Hopper, Lucy Goosey, Davy and the Duckling, and The Treasure Box. Her books extend to a wide range of themes, and are characteristically known for their […]
As Lizette Serano took the stage for the Scholastic Preview yesterday some of her first and best words were, “BE WHO YOU ARE.” We were about to be treated to Readers’ Theater by Jennifer Nielsen, Jennifer Holm, Alex Gino, Craig Thompson, Jon Muth and Dav Pilkey.
I had to run at the end of that fabulous event… I mean, really, Dav Pilkey doing the sound effects for other people’s stories? Uh YEAHHHHH…..and between that ballroom and my awaiting suitcase were the crowds lining the sidewalks and lampposts on Market Street.
The Gay Pride Parade was in full swing. The marchers and riders in the parade were exciting and colorful but the ROAR of the crowd that rolled down the street…that was where the goosebumps started.
I cannot even begin to describe the variety of human beings in the crowd. The best outfit I saw was created by a young lady who had made a rainbow dress out of flip flops. Tiers of flip flops encircled her beginning with red at the top and making its way through stacked rows of orange, yellow, green …you get the idea…flip flops ..a full length affair… Gorgeous!
It just struck me how authentic these people were being. How they were letting their “self” shine through even though that self might be a little different.
We all belong here in this library world. Some of us choose to serve on Committees with a capital C. Some of us choose to blog and shout out the news of the latest books. Some of us want to work with one person at a time outside of the limelight. Some of us want to be able to hand a child that very special book that sets off the reading explosion. Some of us guard the good treasure that has been created for years. Some of us look to create new treasure.
So, pick out your flip flops…whatever color you love and know you are a valuable part of this rainbow.
The've announced that Amos Oz's הבשורה על פי יהודה, in Mirjam Pressler's German translation (as Judas) has won this year's Internationaler Literaturpreis - Haus der Kulturen der Welt -- the big (€25,000 for the author, and €10,000 for the translator) German best translated (contemporary) book award; see also, for example, Sabine Peschel's report Amos Oz wins major German literature award at DeutscheWelle.
It no doubt will appear in English translation eventually, but it hasn't yet.
(Hey, why shouldn't it appear in ... say, Brazil before it comes out in the US/UK provinces, right ?
I do note, however, without comment, that Oz is handled by 'literary' agent Andrew Wylie.)
Indian artist Proiti Roy has illustrated many picture books for children, as well as text books, book covers and magazine articles. Before ‘settling down to become an illustrator’, Proiti worked as a graphic designer in advertising and manufacturing, … Continue reading ... →
Oh, hey, look. It's my very first Top Ten Tuesday post!
Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke & The Bookish.
This week's topic is Top Ten Books I've Read So Far in 2015, and you wouldn't believe how terribly difficult it was to narrow my choices down to TEN (cough, I mean, eleven, because I'm a rule-breaker). The following books are listed in no particular order,
There's no way to sugarcoat the contents of this novel by debut author Katherine Faw Morris, and no reason to — it is sharp and chilling and raw, and very compelling. After witnessing her mother's death while cliff diving, 13-year-old Nikki sets out after her father and her inheritance, finding herself in situations that are [...]