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1. ‘Dripped’ by Leo Verrier

Jack is a strange character. He steals paintings from museums to eat them. He feeds himself with the artistic process of the painter. But one day, the museums are closed and he will have to paint by himself to survive... Read the rest of this post

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2. SEPTEMBER UPDATE!

COMIX! One of the real fun things about my last year in Paris was being able to share sketches, gags, and photos from the trip on uclick as a comic strip called PARIS DOODLES. In fact, it was so fun, I've decided to keep sharing drawings and ideas on uclick with a new strip called FROM THE MO WILLEMS SKETCHBOOK.   I'll be sharing drawings from my sketchbook, dining room dinner doodles,

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3. Floating Library on the Hudson!



The Floating Library is a pop up, mobile device-free public space aboard the historic Lilac Museum Steamship berthed at Pier 25 on the Hudson River in New York City. It will be open September 6- October 3.




"The library afloat on water is always on the verge to sail into the distance just as books contain the magic to transport our minds to unknown terrains. A reader is a dreamer/traveler/pirate as to open a book is to embark on an adventure into the wider world as well as dive deeper into oneself. Given this, the Floating Library celebrates boats and books to map a path towards a waking life, self-organization, citizen autonomy and fertile imagination."  -  Lilac Museum

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4. giving thanks

To John Warner, who writes Biblioracle, for listing Handling the Truth on his Recommendation list. I read Mr. Warner's smart books essay every week in Chicago Tribune's Printers Row Journal. I learn whenever I do:
The Biblioracle offers his recommendations

1. "The Goldfinch" by Donna Tartt

2. "Love and Shame and Love" by Peter Orner

3. "Handling the Truth" by Beth Kephart

4. "J.D. Salinger: The Escape Artist" by Thomas Beller

5. "Carsick" by John Waters

To the American Bookselling Association, for including Going Over in the 2014 Best Books for Children & Teens, Too. Honored to be there. Grateful to be listed alongside my friend, Amy King.

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5. Pavlov Visuals

Pavlov Visuals on grainedit.com

Pavlov Visuals is a versatile design studio with an established presence in the U.S. and Amsterdam. Their uninhibited style pulls inspiration from the past, but remains fresh and contemporary. While there’s lots to admire in their portfolio, i’m especially drawn to their fluid line work and slick typography.

 

Pavlov Visuals on grainedit.com

Pavlov Visuals on grainedit.com

Pavlov Visuals on grainedit.com

 

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Missy Austin
Josh Emrich
Tom haugomat

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6. (Re)membering and (Re)living: Probing the Collective and Individual Past

Calls for Papers and Proposals

The ALAN Review
Summer 2015: (Re)membering and (Re)living: Probing the Collective and Individual Past
Submissions due November 1, 2014

Stories are dynamic, told and heard, accepted and revered, rejected and rewritten by readers who draw from their experiences and understandings to garner meaning from the words on the page.  In young adult texts, fiction and nonfiction, historical and contemporary and futuristic, this dynamism can encourage the critique of our collective past, helping us question assumptions about what came before and reconsider our responsibilities to the present and future. These texts can also help us consider the adolescent experience across time and place and explore the similarities and differences that shape reality as young people navigate and draft their own coming of age stories. This universality can foster a connection to others and reinforce our shared existence as members of a human community.  And yet, these texts can give emotional reality to names, dates, and other factual information, letting us imagine the voices of those who lived in other places and times and have sometimes been silenced in official accounts of history, ideally inspiring us honor these voices and generate a better future. Through these stories, we might come to reject a single narrative and develop empathy for individuals we never knew-and those we did and do and will. In this issue, we welcome articles that explore the relationship between young adult literature, history, stories, and readers.  We acknowledge that “every living soul is a book of their own history, which sits on the ever-growing shelf in the library of human memories” (Jack Gantos, Dead End in Norvelt). And that, “If you stare at the center of the universe, there is coldness there. A blankness. Ultimately, the universe doesn’t care about us. Time doesn’t care about us. That’s why we have to care about each other” (David Levithan, Every Day).  Stories matter in this caring: “I leapt eagerly into books. The characters’ lives were so much more interesting than the lonely heartbeat of my own” (Ruta Sepetys, Out of the Easy). As always, we also welcome submissions focused on any aspect of young adult literature not directly connected to this theme.


Filed under: Opportunities, professional development Tagged: CFP. ALAN

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7. Bear King


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8. From the Heartland: Mari Evans

thMari Evans was born in Toledo in 1923. I first encountered her works while in college. I needed a poem and, there she was. Upon discovering that Evans shared my hometown, I tucked her in my memories. After all, who in the world is from Toledo??

Like me, most know Evans as a poet. Her poetry is accessible to almost grown to full grown.

 

Where Have You Gone by Mari Evans
Where have you gone
with your confident
 walk with 
your crooked smile
why did you leave 
me
when you took your 
laughter
and departed
are you aware that 
with you
 went the sun
all light
and what few stars 
there were?
where have you gone
with your confident 
walk
your 
crooked smile
the 
rent money 
in one pocket
and 
my heart 
in another . . .

And, her poetry is timeless

We have screamed
and we have filled our lungs
with revolutionary rhetoric
We sing
the sorrow songs and march
chest tight and elbows
locked
yes
We have learned to mourn
Our martyrs and our children
murdered by our Greater Love
and strewn
like waste before our pious disbelief
What tremors stay our heads?
The monster still contains us!
There is no better time no
Futuretime
      (from “The Time is Now”)

Evans often visited Indianapolis as a child and moved to the city in the late 1960s to serve as writer in residence at Indiana University Purdue University at Indianapolis (IUPUI). Shortly after her arrival, she became the writer, producer and director of the television show “The Black Experience”. Evans writes about her experiences in and with the city in her essay “Ethos and Creativity: The Impulse as Malleable” (1989).  She describes with vivid examples what it is to be Black in Indiana. She writes of an attitude I’ve heard people from outside Indiana try to explain.

“Many Black folk thought of Indianapolis as urban, “up South.” It was better than being “down South,” but it retained many of the negative propositions of the deep South, and was not yet as enlightened or “progressive” as its West or East Coast counterparts. Conservatism and racism were alive and compatible.

To our discredit there is, even today, an amazing retention of that early sensibility. It is expressed, however, with much more class, much more élan, and many Black folk are so enthralled by the smiles they do not read the eyes nor understand psychological “locking out.”

Not too enthralled though, to not be angry even then at police shootings of young black men and at economic racism.

As a prominent member of the Indianapolis Black arts community, her memories are of a thriving Indiana Avenue, then the heart of the city’s black community and she grieves the impact of the destruction of the surrounding area on the black community. Evans writes of few opportunities for black artists in the city and understands why many leave.

Evans also taught at Purdue, Washington University, Cornell and the State University of New York. Her poetry collections include Night Star, Where is the Music and I am a Black Woman. Her children’s books include Dear Corinne, Tell Somebody! Love, Annie, A Book About Secrets; Jim Flying High and J.D.+-+64527191_140

In 2006, Evans published her first YA novel, I’m Late: The Story of Lanesse and Moonlight and Alisha Who Didn’t Have Anyone of Her Own.

Screen Shot 2014-08-29 at 1.46.51 PM

 

They need something to believe in
the young
a joy exploding an
ecstatic peace to hide them in
a strengthening

They must leap miles into the stratosphere
clicking heels
and a half gainor backwards
free fall
We have taken the gods of Big
Bethel Mount Pilgrim and
Blessed assurance and walked
just part of the Way
with Damballa
Go on and do it Jim, we said
Boogalooing in the other direction

They need something to believe in
the young
That is only part of the truth
They need a map and a guide
to the interior

If we have the Word let us
say it
If we have the Word let us
Be it
If we have the Word let us
DO
They need something to believe in


Filed under: Authors, Uncategorized Tagged: african american, Indiana YA author, indianapolis, Mari Evans

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9. Jamie Marks Is Dead

  
Jamie Marks Is Dead is based on a book I love by a writer I love: One for Sorrow by Christopher Barzak. I realized recently that I think of it as the first novel of "our" generation/group of writers — Chris is a few months older than me, and originally introduced me to probably half the writers and editors I know. I read One for Sorrow in manuscript, exhorted Juliet Ulman to buy and edit it for Bantam, and celebrated its publication. Chris sent me a copy with the kindest inscription penned onto its title page that any writer has ever given me. I feel like a kind of distant (crazy) uncle to the book, and thus also deeply protective toward it. I didn't read most of the reviews when it was released for fear that I would seek out any negative reviewers and do terrible things to them that would get me arrested.  When I found out it was being made into a movie, I was both excited for Chris and for the higher profile the book would likely gain, and terrified that the movie would just be awful. I mumbled to myself for weeks about the change of title before coming to accept it.

The movie was officially released in some major US cities today, and the distributor is also doing a simultaneous release on video-on-demand (Amazon, iTunes, etc.), so those of us, at least in the US, who can't get to one of the cities it's playing in can still see it. I watched it this morning.

The movie is not awful — far from it — and though at first I had my crazy-uncle fists clenched, ready to pounce on anything that even touched a hair of my beloved nephew's head, it was soon clear that this was a movie made from not only a general understanding of the book, but a profound sympathy with it. They're very different creatures, but if you love One for Sorrow, I think you're likely to love Jamie Marks Is Dead, too.



It begins in a style I've come to think of as "digital somber", a style common to a lot of artsy low-budget movies these days: muted colors; the clarity of light peculiar to a certain kind of digital lensing; long takes and fluid camera movement; dreamy music. It's become a familiar enough style that I now find myself skeptical of it at first, because too often it screams out, "Serious Movie!" before it earns its mood. (But at its best it can be devastating. See, for instance, The Snowtown Murders.)  In this case, it's a good fit to the material, and director Carter Smith, cinematographer Darren Lew, and the various designers and decorators (Amy Williams, Steven Phan, Nora Mendis, Rachel Dainer-Best) do a superb job of uniting the elements into a whole that sustains a mood impressively. The production design and decoration in particular deserve notice, because the details are exquisite — though the movie makes absolutely no effort to drawn attention to it, the setting is not contemporary, but rather seems to be late '90s, early '00s (the time of the book). Further, though the novel is explicitly set in and around Youngstown, Ohio, the movie is more general in its setting: somewhere northeastish, somewhere working class, somewhere rusty and full of industrial and commercial ruins. (It was shot in New York state. Chris says it looks plenty like Ohio. It looks plenty like places I know in New Hampshire, too, the places the tourists don't go.)

Smith's background as a photographer serves him well, as he and Lew sustain a difficult look for the film without strain. Shot after shot is evocative but not ostentatious. One example (a screen capture doesn't do it justice, or I'd place a picture here): a high-angle long shot of a yellow ribbon of crime scene tape snaked across the wet ground of a grey riverbank on a moonlit night. The tape, though muddied, is the brightest object in the image, rivalled only by the white of driftwood and fragments of light rippling on the water. The image evokes mood and meaning, but most importantly it provides a perfect introduction for a ghost.

I wasn't sure if I was going to like Noah Silver as Jamie, because I had such a clear idea of Jamie in my own mind, an idea that has congealed over a decade of living with the novel, and the soggy-Harry-Potter styling of the character was very different from the lighter, whispier Jamie in my head. (Adam was always less defined for me, more an aural than physical image, since the novel is written from his first-person POV.) But Silver's performance won me over, especially in the second half of the film when he must be alluring, mysterious, innocent, and menacing all pretty much at the same time. In his first scenes, the lighting and make-up make him seem almost like a plastic mannequin, but as the scenes progress, he becomes more and more human — an odd and very effective choice for the representation of this ghost.

All of the performances are strong, and the film demonstrates quite well the adage that finding the right cast (and crew) is 90% of the success of a production. In pre-release photos from the film, I thought Cameron Monaghan as Adam looked a bit too much like a human Kewpie doll, but he gives an impressive performance. His physique is remarkably variable — he can play vulnerability and sensitivity as well as sharpness and hardness, with his face seemingly changing shape depending on the needs of the scene: at one moment, his face is soft and a bit round, at another, it's all cold angles. (Some of this is also the responsibility of the cinematographer and his lighting team.) Monaghan has excellent instincts, and Smith is smart enough to bring those instincts to fore by encouraging him to hold back: Monaghan's eyes tell entire stories.

Where Silver and Monaghan were not immediately in sync with how I'd imagined the characters, and thus had to (and did) win me over, Morgan Saylor was the Gracie in my mind's eye. I've rarely seen an actor so perfectly fit how I'd imagined a character when reading the original material. A big part of it is her voice, which is deeper and huskier than you might imagine if you just looked at her. It would be easy to make the character of Gracie into a cliché of the adolescent "bad girl", but the movie thankfully doesn't do that — as Saylor plays the role, Gracie is very much an individual, not a type. We don't actually learn a lot about her in the movie, but there is a richness to the performance that allows us to imagine so much that the film itself doesn't have time to convey.

Smith made some excellent choices with his screenplay and direction, particularly in how he focused the story. There's an epic quality to the second half of the novel that just couldn't be conveyed well in a 2-hour movie, never mind a 2-hour movie without a big budget. As any good artist does, Smith turns his limitations into opportunities. The close focus on Adam, Jamie, and Gracie (with some other folks wandering in and out of the story to create and complicate tension) allows the film to build a slow, careful emotional resonance. It's seductive, this movie, and it sticks its hooks in when you're not expecting it. Partly, this is because Smith decided to keep the dialogue to a minimum and to not explain everything. It's a movie of glances and glimpses, of possibilities more than answers. That will, I'm sure, bother plenty of viewers, viewers who want explanations for the logic of the ghost world (as if the supernatural must follow a logical system!), who will want some of the plot's mysteries solved more neatly, who will want some of the side stories tied up or justified — but this is a different sort of film, and its commitment to suggestiveness, its willingness to allow possibilities to linger, enhances the fundamental effect. Give yourself over to it, and this is a movie that will haunt you. The novel does this some, but as a novel it has the space to answer questions without closing off possibilities. Two-hour movies are more like short stories, and at its best moments this one reminded me of the effect of reading my favorite writer of ghost stories, Robert Aickman.

For all its many great moments, the most extraordinary is the very last. Since the movie goes in a different direction for some of its later parts than the novel does, I had no idea how or where it would end. (Figuring out the end was, I know, one of Chris's biggest challenges when writing the novel.) What could it possibly do? How could it find the resonance it needed to be satisfying?

I'll just say this: the moment the credits started rolling, I was in tears. Tears not only because of the profound effect of the absolutely perfect choice of ending, but also of relief that this beloved novel had been translated with such care and love to a very different medium.



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10. What Fairy Classes do you want to see added for the Fall?

I’d love to hear from you. I am developing the October/November line-up and want to see what kind of classes you would like to take. Please take the poll below and you will be rewarded with virtual fairy dust.

Take Our Poll

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11. Feedback Request


The author of the book featured in Face-Lift 954 has posted a new version in the comments there. See what you think.

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12. Harissa/ Hot Sauce

Soaking Chiles

In my continuing quest to recreate the Kurdish/ Turkish food I came to love while in Germany (more on that here and here), my latest cooking adventure was making hot sauce (harissa) to go with my falafel.

Evidently it’s possible to buy harissa at least a couple of places here in Charlotte, but once I found this recipe, I felt I really had to make it myself.

Basically you’re soaking dried chiles (minus seeds), then blending with garlic, lemon juice, spices, and oil. It’s not quite the same as what they served at my imbiss in Hannover, but wow, I do not care. It is OFF the hook! I’d eat it on green beans, corn on the cob, broccoli, oatmeal—–okay, maybe not oatmeal.

The recipe is not really all that hot (as a person who is usually happy with medium hotness salsas and sauces), but the flavor complexity is INSANE.

Harissa

I was short on lemons but long on limes, so I used lime juice. Also, the recipe calls for New Mexico chiles, but I had what I think were ancho chiles, so I used those instead.

The picture below of falafel with peppers and harissa also stars tahini sauce, this time made with lime juice and coconut milk, which was soooooo fantastic. The original recipe is in Bittman’s How to Cook Everything Vegetarian (the coconut variation is a suggestion of his). A similar recipe is here.

Speaking of which, it’s snack time and there are leftovers in the fridge. See ya!

For more food and cooking posts, click here

photo 2


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13. Tagged

Admired some artwork on somebody’s walls
And noticed that tags were attached.
I thought that the gallery’d left on the price,
But an answer was quickly dispatched.

No, those paintings have claimants, so after we’re gone,
Our grandchildren know what they’re getting.
They’ve made their selections so no one will fight –
On that outcome, at least, we are betting.

Though I like the idea and have heard it before,
I had never seen tags on display
And I’d worry that each day I didn’t drop dead,
All my grandkids would mourn the delay.

So perhaps if their choices were part of a will
Or were logged in a ledger or binder,
Then mortality’d keep himself hidden from view
And that art wouldn’t be a reminder.

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14. Flogometer for Elaine—are you compelled to turn the page?

Submissions Needed. If you’d like a fresh look at your opening chapter or prologue, please email your submission to me re the directions at the bottom of this post.


The Flogometer challenge: can you craft a first page that compels me to turn to the next page? Caveat: Please keep in mind that this is entirely subjective.

Note: all the Flogometer posts are here.

What's a first page in publishingland? In a properly formatted novel manuscript (double-spaced, 1-inch margins, 12-point type, etc.) there should be about 16 or 17 lines on the first page (first pages of chapters/prologues start about 1/3 of the way down the page). Directions for submissions are below--new: I've added a request to post the rest of the chapter.

A word about the line-editing in these posts: it’s “one-pass” editing, and I don’t try to address everything, which is why I appreciate the comments from the FtQ tribe. In a paid edit, I go through each manuscript three times.

Storytelling Checklist

Before you rip into today’s submission, consider this list of 6 vital storytelling ingredients from my book, Flogging the Quill, Crafting a Novel that Sells. While it's not a requirement that all of these elements must be on the first page, they can be, and I think you have the best chance of hooking a reader if they are.

Evaluate the submission—and your own first page—in terms of whether or not it includes each of these ingredients, and how well it executes them. The one vital ingredient not listed is professional-caliber writing because that is a must for every page, a given.

  • Story questions
  • Tension (in the reader, not just the characters)
  • Voice
  • Clarity
  • Scene-setting
  • Character

Elaine sends a first chapter for In the Beginning Was the Word, an historical novel. The rest of the chapter is after the break.

The tramping of Roman boots, as their owners marched along cobbled streets, was eerily muffled by the overpowering sounds of wailing, crackling flames, and shouted orders. Jonathan, peering under a slab of broken wall, watched the boots go past, moving like disembodied spirit feet through the swirl of dust and smoke.

How did I get here? All he could remember were endless days of fighting amidst fires and bodies…hunger…sleep…wake up…fight.… His head hurt.

He sat up slowly, the pounding in his head increasing as he did so, but it settled down to a tolerable throb when he leaned back and felt the support of a smooth surface behind him. He started to take a deep breath, but the acrid smell of smoke clogged his throat, and he coughed it away. Slowly, he remembered. A section of Temple wall had broken and crashed onto the street.

My shield—my bow—where are they? A good bow…would it help me now? Must find out where I am…

He stretched his long legs, and his feet touched the piece of wall that had given way, its fall apparently stopped when it hit the street and tilted onto the wall behind him. Lifting his gaze, he saw chunks of stone filling in the gaps between the walls except for a small space at the upper right where a bit of light came in. There was also a small opening at the bottom of the front wall; that’s what he had looked through to see the marching soldiers.

Were you compelled to turn Elaine's first page?

The writing is solid and clean and, while Roman soldiers and what is clearly a war scene is good stuff, I’m afraid that overwriting stopped this reader—the promise of more micro description is something I didn’t want to see fulfilled. Notes and edits follow, and the rest of the chapter is after the break.

The tramping of Roman boots, as their owners marched marching along cobbled streets, was eerily muffled by the overpowering sounds of wailing, crackling flames, and shouted orders. Jonathan, peering under a slab of broken wall, watched the boots go past, moving like disembodied spirit feet through in the swirl of dust and smoke. This first paragraph, edited to be crisper, is a good opening. There's action, the scene is being set, and there's a promise of jeopardy for Jonathan.

How did I get here? All he could remember were endless days of fighting amidst fires and bodies…hunger…sleep…wake up…fight.… His head hurt.

He sat up slowly, the pounding in his head increased increasing as he did so, but it settled down to a tolerable throb when he leaned back against and felt the support of a smooth surface behind him. He started to take a deep breath, but the acrid smell of smoke clogged his throat, and he coughed it away. Slowly, he remembered. A section of Temple wall had broken and crashed onto the street. “felt the support” is a filter that backs the reader away from the character’s experience. Not necessary. Also, rather than a "smooth surface," why not something more specific such as "a wall"? I don’t see how a smell could clog a throat—smelling usually happens in the nose. I’m not sure “clog” is the right verb, either—neither a small nor smoke have the substance it would take to clog something. “Choked him” instead?

My shield—my bow—where are they? A good bow…would it help me now? Must find out where I am…

He stretched his long legs, and his feet touched the piece of wall that had given way, its fall apparently stopped when it hit the street and tilted onto the wall behind him. Lifting his gaze, he saw chunks of stone filling in the gaps between the walls except for a small space at the upper right where a bit of light came in. There was also a small opening at the bottom of the front wall; that’s what he had looked through to see the marching soldiers. All this micro detail description is overwriting with stuff that doesn’t impact the story. All that matters was that he could see under a broken slab of wall, and that was established in the first paragraph. Oh, describing his “long” legs is a small break in point of view—he wouldn’t be thinking about the length of his legs, and it doesn’t matter to the story.

Comments, please?

For what it’s worth.

Ray

Submitting to the Flogometer:

Email the following in an attachment (.doc, .docx, or .rtf preferred, no PDFs):

  1. your title
  2. your complete 1st chapter or prologue plus 1st chapter
  3. Please include in your email permission to post it on FtQ.
  4. Note: I’m adding a copyright notice for the writer at the end of the post. I’ll use just the first name unless I’m told I can use the full name.
  5. Also, please tell me if it’s okay to post the rest of the chapter so people can turn the page.
  6. And, optionally, include your permission to use it as an example in a book on writing craft if that's okay.
  7. If you’re in a hurry, I’ve done “private floggings,” $50 for a first chapter.
  8. If you rewrite while you wait for your turn, it’s okay with me to update the submission.

Flogging the Quill © 2014 Ray Rhamey, story © 2014 Elaine

 

(continued)

Above the general noise, he heard a loud squealing nearby. He stood, found that he could look through the upper hole, and he saw where the sound was coming from. Only a couple of paces away, a horse lay on its stomach, legs sprawled, and screaming in terrified agony as it struggled to right itself from under a chunk of stone fallen onto its back. Poor horse. It had no choice at all; it’s a worse victim of this than I am.

He lifted his gaze and saw an even more dreadful sight. Towering tongues of flame licked insatiably at wooden beams and golden spires and whatever else was in that mountain of burning debris. What had been the most beautiful structure in the most beautiful city in the entire land was being devoured. It was incomprehensible. The Temple cannot be destroyed; surely it cannot be. This must be a terrible dream.

He sank to his knees as the dreadful realization registered in his brain. The Temple is burning, and no one is trying to save it anymore. It’s beyond saving; there’s nothing more to fight for. Oh, Yahweh, how can this be? The anger, the hope, the defiance, and the dogged determination that kept him going through the grueling days of battle drained away. He knelt there until a perverse curiosity commanded him to look out again.

He rose and willed himself to survey the entire scene. As he did so, another odor, foul and sickening, mingled with the smell of smoke to assail his nostrils. He was used to the smell of rotting flesh, but this was different. Oh, Yahweh, can it be the open intestines? I mustn’t think about it. He covered his nose and watched survivors staggering through heaps of carcasses on the street. Looking onward to the stone steps approaching the Temple, he saw bodies strewn like mangled sacrifices waiting for the conflagration to consume them. All around were congealing pools of blood.

“Line up! Over there!” came a gruff voice to his right.

The victors were herding surviving Jews, soldiers and civilians alike, into groups. The frightened and dazed prisoners stood with hands in the air, heads moving side to side, as though searching for a rescuer late in coming. A young boy attempted to run away, and a Roman quickly and cleanly sliced off his head. As the legs of the boy’s body continued to run, the head dropped and rolled, coming to rest nearby when one of the horse’s forelegs stopped it. A fresh puddle of blood formed around the severed head. Jonathan pushed away from the opening and vomited.

When the spasms abated, his head was clearer, and he grasped more fully the peril he was in. Will I be able to get out of here? Am I trapped? I’m scared. I wasn’t scared before; why wasn’t I scared? I knew what happened in other cities, but certainly Yahweh would save Jerusalem. Why didn’t He? I want to die and get this over with….

No! Don’t think like that. Maybe I can get away. But what can I do? If I call out, they’ll take me along with the others. I’ll be a prisoner, a slave! That hole at the bottom; is it big enough to crawl through? Maybe. But they’ll see me; they’ll know I’m a Jew!

He lay down and looked through the opening at the bottom. The dust was settling, and he noticed something he hadn’t seen before. To his left, two Roman boots lay on their sides. Are they attached to feet? How can I tell? He stood again and looked out; no one was looking toward him; the soldiers were intent on their prisoners. He bent down, reached for the feet and pulled. There was resistance, but they moved. He pulled more and was able to get them inside, along with legs covered by leather protectors. The rest of the body wouldn’t come through. I guess it isn’t big enough for me to crawl out after all.

Is this going to help? I have to try. If I can get out of Jerusalem, I might be able to get to Uncle Rueben’s farm. Surely the Romans won’t march back into Galilee. Surely they can go home and leave the countryside in peace since they’ve clearly won the war.

 He untied the sheathed dagger strapped to his waist; that could still come in handy, so he must remember to keep it with him. He slipped his long woolen tunic over his head and took off his sandals. Removing the leggings and heavy boots from the dead man was awkward, but the purposeful activity calmed him; he took his time and clumsily donned the alien garb. Besides these coverings for his legs and feet, he now wore only a sleeveless linen tunic and loincloth, and he was unable to get any more of the soldier’s uniform. It would have to do.

Jonathan stood and looked out into the street. The horse was still writhing, but weaker, and it had ceased screaming. Flies were crawling about its eyes and tormenting it further while their companions feasted on the raw flesh of the boy’s head. Resisting the impulse to retch again, he quickly looked away at the throng of prisoners still alive. As he hoped, it wasn’t long before a Roman was within hearing distance. Jonathan’s command of Latin, drilled into him by the best tutors his father could find, might be his savior.

“Friend, friend,” he called as loudly as he could over the din, “can you help me out of here?”

“What? Where?” the surprised Roman exclaimed as he turned toward the voice.

“A wall fell on us. My companion is dead; can you rescue me?”

“By Hercules, you are fucked up. But I can’t help you. I have orders.”

“I implore you! Think of yourself in this position. It can’t take long.”

The soldier paused, assessed the situation, and said resignedly, “If I can get a guy to help me.”

The ill-fated horse, lying near the soldier’s feet, gave a weak whinny that drew his attention. He dispassionately lifted his club and gave it a mighty blow to the head. Jonathan winced at the sound before he saw the soldier motion to someone out of his sight.

“Can two of you move this wall?” Jonathan asked.

“Are you out of your mind? It took 200 men to topple it!”

The first man addressed the one approaching and said, “Let’s see if we can get rid of enough junk here so this poor fool can get out.”

Turning back toward Jonathan, he said, “You start pulling whatever you can onto your side, and we’ll work out here.”

Jonathan did as he was told, but he wasn’t able to do much; apparently most of it had to be removed from the outside. As the gap widened, he feared the soldiers would look in and see the exchange he had made with the dead man.

“I’m afraid I’m going to faint,” he called out and sank down to sit on the exposed legs of his unfortunate companion.

The first soldier poked his helmeted head and his shoulders through the opening and said, “If you’re going to die on us…Hey, what happened to your armor?”

Jonathan held his head and said, as though in a daze, “I think…I don’t know…got hit…don’t remember.”

“Well, stand up, and we’ll pull you out of there!” the rescuer said impatiently.

“I…I can’t.”

Dare I ask him to take the uniform off the dead man and give it to me? No—he might see his bare legs!

“Go on…I’ll climb out…I have to sit a little.”

“Well, Jupiter help you then. You’ve taken up enough of our time.”

Jonathan waited several minutes before rising again. The dust had settled, and he could see better, but it was evening, and it would soon be dark. A huge tower of smoke rose above flames that had diminished in size and intensity, but continued to steadily and determinedly reduce the Temple to charred remains. The prisoners were gone, and there were only a few Romans walking about among the bodies. They slashed at wounded Jews and bent toward fallen Romans, pulling a few to their feet but giving most of them the same treatment that was given to the horse. More flies gathered, indiscriminately gorging on all victims of the fight.

After a while, when it was dark, he didn’t hear any more movement. He stood on one of the rocks he had brought into his hiding place and carefully crawled out and over the mound of rubble. Still nothing. He rolled over the dead Roman and donned the rest of his uniform. He slipped easily into the knee-length tunic, and the helmet fit exactly, but the armor was more difficult. It was heavier than he expected, and he deduced the need of a second person to get it fastened correctly. He hung it from the shoulders of his tall lean frame as best he could. It felt awkward, but he was strong, and he would make do. I must act like I wear this getup all the time. He picked up a spear that had lain under the body.

The moon was rising, and he could see well enough to thread his way among the dead. As he strode through the city, he encountered clusters of Romans, most of them drinking and laughing. He assumed his haughtiest expression, saluted them, and tried to look as though he was hurrying to perform a vital task.

He found what remained of Herod’s Gate, and he felt confident enough to demand of the guard, “You there; I need my armor secured,” and the man complied without hesitation.

He doggedly continued northward, but all of the bravado quickly slipped away. Hunger gnawed at his stomach, and he was extremely tired. He must eat and rest before he could go much farther. He neared a village and approached a tiny hut.

The woman who answered his knock staggered back and gave a clumsy curtsy.

“Sir, how can I…what can I do for you?”

“Water—then food and a bed,” was all Jonathan could muster, and he sank down onto the cool dirt floor.

When he had devoured the cheese and bread the frightened female brought him, Jonathan demanded to know who else lived there. She swore there was no one else and that she was expecting no visitors.

“Get me a sleeping mat and put it right here in front of the door so I’ll know if you try to leave. I’m a light sleeper,” he lied.

When he awoke, it was morning. The woman was sitting on a stool against the far wall watching him. She still looked terrified, and he felt sorry for her. He considered telling her that he was really a lowly insignificant civilian like her, and she needn’t be afraid of him, but he decided it was safest to continue playing the part.

“Put more food into something I can carry.”

She rushed to stuff a cloth bag with dried fruit and more bread.

“I’ll need water, too,” he demanded, and she found a sheep’s bladder to offer him.

“I’ll fill it for you at the well,” she said, moving swiftly toward the door, “and you can be on your way.”

As they walked down the path, villagers stepped aside, clearly in deference to him. So this is what it’s like to be a Roman, Jonathan thought. He was used to being identified as Galilean with his fair skin, sandy hair and beard, and distinctive aqua-blue eyes, characteristics his people inherited from their Amorite ancestors. Now, wearing the helmet and armor, it was only his clothing that mattered. He might have been flattered by the submissive attention if it hadn’t disgusted him.

When, a few days later, he walked into the outer courtyard of his uncle’s house, he was so relieved to be there, and to see that the war had not touched this place, that he momentarily forgot what he was wearing. He paid no attention to the servants who shrank back against the walls, and he swatted away two barking dogs. He went through to the main room where servants were laying the evening meal on a spotless white cloth on the floor. Family members, clad in everyday sleeveless tunics of undyed linen, were gathering. There was a cry of fright, and everyone froze when they saw him. A tall muscular man slowly rose from a cushion, thick flaxen-colored hair dropping over a sunbaked face as he bowed to this honored, though unexpected, guest.

 Instantly embarrassed, Jonathan quickly removed the helmet and exclaimed, “Uncle Rueben, look, it’s me, Jonathan! Don’t let the uniform scare you.”

A tiny woman, her own light brown hair braided into a long rope trailing nearly to her hips, exclaimed, “Oh, my love, my love!” and hurried toward him, taking his hands but stopping short of an embrace.

“But why…?” she questioned.

“It’s all right, Mama, it’s a disguise,” he explained. “I’m sure you all find it repulsive, and so do I. Please bring me a robe, and I’ll get out of it.”

Reuben ushered Jonathan into an adjoining room where he helped to strip him of the offensive uniform and into a tunic hastily obtained by a servant. They returned to the main room, a beaming uncle with an arm over his nephew’s shoulders.

 “Here you are, Joanna,” he said. “Your son is ready for a proper greeting.”

After his mother held him for a long moment, she relinquished him to his 12-year-old brother, Luke. His two sisters, their lovely aqua eyes sparkling beneath cream-colored foreheads, stood on tiptoes to hug and kiss him.

Aunt Sarah, Rueben’s wife, gathered her four children and stepped back slightly. She stood erect and impassive, a regal presence in mindful cognizance of her exceptional beauty. Aware that the expression on her perfectly sculpted features did not invite closer contact, Jonathan acknowledged her with a polite bow. Apart from this less than enthusiastic reception from his aunt, it seemed a glorious homecoming until Reuben reminded the family from whence their young relative had come.

“You were in the war,” he said flatly.

“Yes, Uncle. Have you heard the news?”

“We heard news of a great battle with the Romans. How goes it?”

“It went…badly for us, I’m afraid. I’m…extremely lucky to get away with my life and only a few scratches.”

How can I tell them? The Temple…

“Sarah,” Reuben directed, “you must take the little ones and the girls. I will tell you later what is needed for you to know.”

Sarah tightened her lips, but she complied without a word. When they were gone, Reuben said, “Nephew, please tell us about it. Rumors have been running through Galilee like fleet-footed gazelles.”

Jonathan, along with his mother, his brother Luke, and his two teen-age male cousins, settled onto cushions, and he braced himself to tell the story. Before he could begin, Joanna intervened to ask her returned son if he were not hungry. He said he would like wine now but would wait until later to eat; a servant immediately poured wine into a cup, diluted it with water, and handed it to Jonathan.

Two servants entered with lights burning in small olive oil lamps, set them on the cloth among the stone vessels of food, and withdrew into the shadows. Jonathan followed his uncle’s gaze as he squinted to observe the half dozen or so servants lining the plastered walls. They apparently were eager to hear the news first hand. Rueben started to wave them all away, but he stopped, shrugged his shoulders and nodded permission for them to stay.

Jonathan took a long draught of his wine and stared into it for a moment like one attempting to read from prepared notes and finding them lacking.

“It was…bad,” hebegan. “The Judeans, as you know, were trying to gain their independence from Rome. Any sensible person should have known better… and there were those who tried to persuade the people not to incite a war, but the rebels would not listen…and I sort of got caught up in it.”

His mother held his left hand, and he spoke mostly to her. She was looking at him with a mixture of relief and admonishment.

“I know,” he answered her expression, “I should have left when I had the chance. Quite a few did when we heard the Romans were coming, but most of us didn’t think it would get as bad as it did.”

“And your work was there!” Luke interjected, as though trying to sound like a knowing colleague.

“Of course,” Jonathan said, with an affectionate glance at his brother’s smooth freckled face, resisting the impulse to tousle his unruly sun-bleached hair.

Dear little Luke. You still look about 9 years old; one of these days your body will catch up. When I was 12, I was nearly as tall as I am now.

“My apprenticeship definitely was part of it,” he went on, “in the beginning. I didn’t want to leave. Euandros stopped getting orders for sculptures, but he said he would keep the studio open and continue teaching as long as he had a single student.”

“We heard,” Rueben commented, “that Titus barred people from leaving.”

“When Titus brought his army—that was nearly 6 months ago…”

“Six months ago!” his mother exclaimed. “That was before the Passover.”

“Yes, and a lot of country people came in for it, just like usual. They didn’t really understand what was going on, but once they got there, they felt trapped, so there were a lot more people in Jerusalem than there should have been.”

Eating our food…which we would have had enough of if Simon and John hadn’t burned it fighting each other….

Jonathan took another large gulp of wine.

“Anyway, yes; Titus closed the gates, but he did it at first mostly to keep supplies out. He tried to get men to desert and come over to the Romans, but naturally nobody wanted to do that, and whenever he said people could leave, we didn’t know whether we could trust him because….”

No point in telling them how Titus crucified hundreds of people who were just trying to get out and find food, and other times he let people go…what were we supposed to think?.... No point in telling them the shameful things our own people did…how the rebels tortured and killed people trying to leave…how mobs broke into homes stealing from one another…how we gave up burying the dead and left them to rot…

“Jonathan!”

He started, realizing Joanna had asked him a question.

“I’m sorry. What did you say?”

“Did you fight?”

“Yes. I wanted to fight…for Yahweh, and our people…it seemed right…at the time.”

“It was right!” Rueben declared. “We’ve let the Romans cow us long enough. We have to start standing up for ourselves, even if we do have a defeat now and then.”

“Uncle…you don’t know…”

“What? Know what?”

“The Temple…”

He couldn’t go on, and finally Joanna echoed, “The Temple?”

“You’d think, wouldn’t you…”Jonathan choked, “if it was the right thing to do…Yahweh would save the Temple!”

There was total silence. Luke looked like he was about to say something, but a glance from his elders stopped him.

“The Temple is gone…burned by those rotten, heathen monsters!” He let that sink before he added, “Oh, I left before it was totally burned to the ground, but the way it was going….”

“I can’t believe it,” Rueben said, a mixture of incredulity, anger and sadness in his tone.

“But you’re alive—they let you out,” Joanna said, apparently forgetting momentarily about the disguise.

Jonathan didn’t remind her. He finished his wine, took up the flask for a refill, and drank again without even adding water. He noticed his mother’s shocked expression as he did so. When he lived with her, he had drunk diluted wine only to quench his thirst, usually preferring the taste of the more expensive goat’s milk. He hoped she understood his own expression when he looked back at her: I’m not the same as I was; war changes you.

“I’m tired,” he said. “I’ve told you the worst.”

No one had touched the dishes of food.

“Of course,” Joanna said, her voice trembling. She rose to her feet. “We can talk more in the morning when you’ve rested.”

Jonathan’s cousins were starting to help themselves to cheese and fruit when a loud rap at the door startled them. Jonathan froze, an icy chill stabbing his chest.

What’s the matter with me? It’s probably just a friend.

It was not a friend. A beak-nosed balding Roman, clothed in a flowing blue toga draped over his shoulder, entered swiftly and haughtily, closely followed by two armored soldiers and a fearful looking servant who must have gone to answer the knock. Everyone who was still seated scrambled to his feet. There were no formalities other than the respectful bows of the family.

The official demanded, “Where is the soldier? It was reported that a soldier came into this house.”

The uniform! Jonathan dared not look at the expressions on the faces of the others. He could only hope his own was blank.

“Luke,” Rueben said firmly, “go to bed.”

“Yes, Uncle,” the boy said, but he hesitated.

Jonathan understood. Would Luke?

When Luke turned toward the room where Jonathan had changed, he could breathe.

“We have had no visitors today,” Rueben said to the official, “and there is certainly no soldier here. Is one missing?”

“I will ask the questions,” he said curtly to Rueben, then called to the soldiers who were striding through a door leading to Rueben’s office, “Take the servants. Question them all!”

Turning back to the family, he said almost politely, “Everyone be seated; this could take a while. I’ll have a cup of that wine while we wait.”

“I have always been loyal to the Empire,” Rueben said humbly, “and I supply a great deal of food to the cities.”

“Yes, yes, that will do,” the official said.

Jonathan couldn’t estimate how long they sat there while the Roman sipped wine. They heard a few cries of surprise, either from servants or female relatives. He hoped none of them protested the search; it was never wise to argue with the Romans. The sounds of goats bleating and dogs barking drifted in from the open-shuttered windows.

“Our dogs are upset,” Rueben apologized. “Company makes them nervous.”

A look from the official silenced him again.

Returning at last, one of the soldiers announced, “All seems in order.”

Their leader looked disappointed, but he signaled for them to go.

As the Romans left, Jonathan saw his uncle’s expression change to intense hatred. He was relieved the men didn’t turn around before they were out of sight.

“He wasn’t entirely satisfied,” Rueben announced. “I’m afraid they’ll be back.”

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15. ‘The News Sorority’ Tells the Story of Female TV News Anchors

In her new book, Shelia Weller tells the triumphant story of how leading female TV news reporters Katie Couric, Diane Sawyer and Christiane Amanpour achieved success.

The story reveals how these women climbed the ladder to success and uncovers rivalries in the newsroom. The Daily Beast has published some highlights from the book, which is not without its tawdry rumors.

For instance, this excerpt: “When Diane beat Katie on an interview with a 57-year-old woman who’d given birth to twins, Katie mused aloud, according to a person who heard the comment: ‘I wonder who she blew this time to get it.’”

 

New Career Opportunities Daily: The best jobs in media.

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16. Mad TV - Catwoman

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17. Postage

2014-08-29-2

Postage

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18. Re-reading Now...The Songkiller Saga

Here I am, in the middle of the Aurealis judging and I'm re-reading. I have read as far as I can with the books I have - I won't read the new Brotherband book till I've caught up with the others, I'm getting there... Still have Brotherband 3 to read before picking up 4. This week a courier left a message on my doormat, so I will have to phone before I can get my next bunch of books.

But I discovered that my old Elizabeth Scarborough favourite, the Songkiller Saga, is available in ebook, only $3.99 a volume. I remember discovering the first volume, The Phantom Banjo, on a remainders table. It wasn't out of print. Ironically, the only volume I had trouble getting was the final one, Strum Again? 

Finally, though, I had the lot, and what a story it was, with Hell deciding to wipe out folk music because it kept humans hopeful. Folk musicians forget the words or are killed off, the entire Library of Congress archive is burned down. It only seems to be happening in the US for the time being, though, so a bunch of intrepid musicians escape to Britain, where their songs came from, to retrieve them. 

I have always loved folk music, but this trilogy opened my eyes to just how much there is out there, including some songs that I hadn't realised were traditional or that were from places other than the British Isles. The books of Charles De Lint have also done this for me, and he gets a brief mention in this series. I ended up buying a lot of CDs as a result of reading these books - Songkiller and De Lint alike(I had the privilege of doing a panel with him once, at a Swancon, and hearing him and his wife jamming with Anne Poore, a local harpist)

So now I'm re-reading and loving it just as much as the first time around. I may just download some more  Scarborough books when I've finished. She's written some lovely stuff over the years and I haven't read all of it. 

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19. Love=Action

I often wonder if people understand that love is an action word. No, I don't mean the act of fleshly love. I mean prove it.

Recently a person in my life has shown me that love was not in their vocabulary, let alone their heart. I dared them to prove to me they love me in ways that would conquer that disbelief. Give me a reason to stay in their lives. Because actions speak far louder than words and the only actions shown- were complacency and contempt. It had been that way for many, neglectful and abusive years.

That person is now taking baby steps to show me that my lifetime of love has not only been one-sided and pointless. They are allowing their heart to shine again. You see, it wasn't just non-love that was being communicated. It was hurt that was not being communicated. The poison had to stop.

If a man walked into his house and saw a stranger forcing his wife to do unspeakable things- would he not rush to her aid and save her?

And if a woman saw that same person robbing her husband and she just happened to have a strong weapon at her disposal, would she not rescue her husband and then think about calling for help?

It's the same in the spiritual sense; emotional & mental.

If a person is struggling with their faith, with their emotions, with their life- and you just happened to be with that person until death do you part- get in there and fight.
Seriously.
Who are you to leave them go this alone? How can you say you are in love when you don't even try?

Are you the person who is being neglected? I am praying. God knows the answers you need.

Don't leave people alone, my lovelies. Eventually you will lose them. In one way or another.
Unless, of course, that is what you want.
In that case, stop torturing them.

Step up and be the person your love needs.

Nobody should have to face the most horrifying of life's struggles alone. All humans need another human to hold their hand once in a while, to help them navigate through troubled waters.

This blog entry was not intended to be harmful or judgmental. I don't know who this is for. Maybe it is just for me. Whatever the case, we need each other. We can't go it alone. Let's purpose to be the hope and the salt and the Light in other people's lives. Hold them up when they cannot stand. Let's show them they are worth the fight and be there as long as it takes. Forgive. Forget. And love once again.

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20. Coming in October! The Heroes of Olympus Book Five: The Blood of Olympus by Rick Riordan

riordan

 

Though the Greek and Roman crewmembers of the Argo II have made progress in their many quests, they still seem no closer to defeating the earth mother, Gaea. Her giants have risen-all of them-and they’re stronger than ever. They must be stopped before the Feast of Spes, when Gaea plans to have two demigods sacrificed in Athens. She needs their blood-the blood of Olympus-in order to wake.

The demigods are having more frequent visions of a terrible battle at Camp Half-Blood. The Roman legion from Camp Jupiter, led by Octavian, is almost within striking distance. Though it is tempting to take the Athena Parthenos to Athens to use as a secret weapon, the friends know that the huge statue belongs back on Long Island, where it might be able to stop a war between the two camps.

The Athena Parthenos will go west; the Argo II will go east. The gods, still suffering from multiple personality disorder, are useless. How can a handful of young demigods hope to persevere against Gaea’s army of powerful giants? As dangerous as it is to head to Athens, they have no other option. They have sacrificed too much already. And if Gaea wakes, it is game over.

Age Range: 10 – 14 years
Grade Level: 5 – 9
Series: The Heroes of Olympus (Book 5)
Hardcover: 528 pages
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion (October 7, 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1423146735
ISBN-13: 978-1423146735

Pre-order here!


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21. Talking about Reboots and some other things.

A fan speaks. This is typical of what MANY long term fans are saying.

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22. Books by Cherokee Mystery Writer, Sara Sue Hoklotubbe

Some months ago I was asked if I could recommend a Native mystery writer. Because my area of expertise is books for children and young adults (and not adult mysteries), I asked colleagues in Native literature for names and learned about Sara Sue Hoklotubbe.

Right away I downloaded an e-copy of Hoklotubbe's American Cafe. Published in 2011 by the University of Arizona Press, I liked it a lot and passed her name along. American Cafe is the second book featuring Sadie Walela, a Cherokee woman trying to find her way in the world.

Hoklotubbe's writing is the real deal. Her Cherokee identity and knowledge are the foundation of her books. As you read, you'll be drawn into Sadie's world. There's no romanticizing, no stereotyping, and no mis-steps either like those you'll find in books by Tony Hillerman or Sandi Ault. Their books make me cringe (and yes, I did read some of them.)

Hoklotubbe will be reading tomorrow in Washington DC at the National Book Festival. For the last few weeks, I've been recovering from a broken ankle. Among the books I've read is the first Sadie Walela book, Deception On All Accounts. I like Sadie and want to read more of her. I'll turn, next, to Sinking Suspicions. 

Though it isn't marketed to young adults, I wouldn't hesitate to recommend Hoklotubbe to older teens (or adults) looking for books--especially mysteries--by Native writers. I encourage you to get her books for your library and take a look at her website, too.  

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23. Leroy Ninker Saddles Up

"My kingdom for a horse," so said Shakespeare's King Richard. Leroy Ninker, Kate DiCamillo's spunky hero in her brand new chapter-book series, understands the sentiment. A worker at a drive-in theater's concession stand, Leroy wants to be one of the cowboys he sees projected on the Bijou's big screen. He has the hat, the boots, and the lasso, after all. But what he doesn't have--as a coworker helpfully points out--is a horse. Leroy is determined to rectify this and sets out to get a horse that's been advertised in the Gizzford Gazette. By the time he arrives at his destination he's already named his majestic steed Tornado. But when he's introduced to Maybelline, an old horse with just four teeth in her head, Leroy falls head-over-hooves in love with her.

Maybelline's former owner informs him of the three things he must know about his new responsibility: She craves compliments; eats like, well, a horse; and, most importantly, she does not like to be left alone. Naturally, Leroy finds out the hard way how true this last one is. But what Leroy lacks in judgement he makes up for with his huge heart and his talent, hitherto unknown, for poetic sweet talk.

DiCamillo, as befitting a Newbery Medalist, has an abiding love for words and knows how to turn a phrase to make it sparkle. Here's how she describes Leroy's meeting with Maybelline:

"He put out his hand and touched the horse's nose. It was damp and velvety. Leroy felt his heart tumble and roll inside of him. Oh, to be a cowboy with a horse! To ride into the sunset! To ride into the wind! To be brave and true and cast a large, horsey shadow!"

Perfection!

Van Dusen, who also illustrated the Mercy Watson books, continues his fine work. While Leroy with his long, pointed nose is cartoonish, the cowboy cantering across the big screen is portrayed realistically, making for an interesting and unusual contrast. And Maybelline's former owner with her long, equine face and prominent front teeth bears more than a passing resemble to a horse.
 
With this first book in the series, Tales from Deckawoo Drive gets off to a promising start. As Leroy would say, "Yippie-i-oh!"

Leroy Ninker Saddles Up
By Kate DiCamillo
Illustrated by Chris Van Dusen
Candlewick Press, 96 pages
Published: August 2014


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24. When Agents Go Bad

How do you know if your agent has gone off the rails? 

http://jetreidliterary.blogspot.com/2014/04/agents-going-off-rails.html

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25. Library of Congress National Book Festival Saturday, August 30, 2014


at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center
more info HERE
poster by Bob Staake
Download beautiful posters (from 2001 to 2014)  HERE

poster by Rafael Lopez

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