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1. Alex As Well by Alyssa Brugman

In Alyssa Brugman's thoughtful novel Alex As Well, the teenaged title character often feels like two people - one female, one male - trapped in the same body.

There's nothing like feeling uncomfortable in your own body. For Alex, the struggle is constant. Alex was born intersex, having physical characteristics of both genders. Doctors could not identify Alex as male or female. Alex's parents selected a gender-neutral name for their baby and were made to monitor their child's behavior and report back to doctors, who decided Alex's tendency to be more aggressive than passive indicated the child was more masculine than feminine - and so Alex was raised as a boy.

Now Alex is in high school, and she has found the strength within to tell her parents that she would rather identify as a girl. Her father splits; her mother falls apart. Alex stands her ground and starts making decisions for herself. She leaves her all-boys school and enrolls in a new school as a girl. She finds new friends, including a girl she gets a crush on and a boy who gets a crush on her. Though she enjoys their friendship, she cannot bring herself to tell them - or anyone at her new school - the truth about her condition, and fears the day that someone or something will reveal it.

The novel is told from Alex's first-person point of view, which occasionally has her talking to her masculine self, her inner twin, who often taunts her and points out the physical differences between her - them - and her peers. Posts from Alex's mother's blog, placed between chapters every now and then, shed light on her struggle to raise her child, revealing facts about Alex's condition and upbringing and the mom's attempts to assist and accept her. The blog posts help make the mother seem a little less harsh, a little less hysterical, and a little more human than she would be had the blog not been included.

To date, I've read four Alyssa Brugman novels - Finding Grace, Walking Naked, Being Bindy, and Alex As Well - and I've enjoyed them all. Brugman creates protagonists driven by personal matters who have yet to realize something about themselves. Her realistic storylines draw in readers and her frank storytelling takes them straight to the heart of the matter.

Looking for more intersex representation in the media? The MTV series Faking It features an intersex character named Lauren. Learn more in Emily Quinn's letter and her video with Bailey De Young (Lauren), which shares some facts about the condition, including this: Being born intersex is almost as common as being born a natural redhead.

This review was cross-posted at GuysLitWire.

Related posts at Bildungsroman:
Tough Issues for Teens Booklist
Finding Grace by Alyssa Brugman

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2. Tin Men by Christopher Golden


Christopher Golden's novel Tin Men will be hitting stores this June - and it's going to hit hard. While I can't say much for the sake of spoilers, I can tell you the mini-summary that the publisher is offering:

Brad Thor meets Avatar in this timely military thriller for the drone age, which spins the troubles of today into the apocalypse of tomorrow. A rocket ride of a read packed with high action, cutting-edge technology, and global politics, Tin Men begins with the end of the world as we know it and takes off from there.

I love sci-fi stories that are based in science and technology, stories that present us with possible, plausible situations that stir up society as we know it. Hello, Black Mirror. Oh, how I adore thee, Twilight Zone. And you all know how much I love Christopher Golden's writing. So of course I can't wait until Tin Men is released - even though I hope none of them attack my home.

Bonus points for those willing to discuss the various Cybermen storylines from Doctor Who with me. Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

Tin Men by Christopher Golden will be available June 23rd, 2015. Check out the awesome reviews it has received. (Yay, Publishers Weekly!)

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3. Asking questions to turn thoughts into story ideas

Eleven year old Maddison wants to be a writer and has asked where I get ideas from. That’s a great question because every story has to start with an idea!
Ideas come from thoughts, and thoughts come from all our senses, as well as our emotion and everything we remember and imagine. That can add to millions of thoughts a day (I just made that figure up – maybe it’s thousands. A lot, anyway.) How do we turn some of those into ideas that can be built into a story?
The answer is: Questions! The first questions are usually, ‘What if?’ or ‘Why?’ or ‘How?’ or ‘What happened?’
To show you what I mean, I gave myself a challenge to find some new ideas on my morning walk.
Here’s a not-very-great picture of a nest fallen on the ground. To turn this into a story I’d ask:
What happened here?
1) What happened to the baby birds? Had they already flown away?
(I really hope so, and I think they had, because the nest looks old - but that wouldn’t  make a story. So for the rest of the questions we’ll say that the eggs or baby birds were still in there.
2) How did it fall out of the tree?
 Possible answers:
a) The wind.
b) A predator bird or animal.
c) A bad person - why are they doing it?
d) An alien - what do they think the eggs are?
e) …..
3) What happens next?
 a) The protagonist (hero) tries to rescue them and put the nest back in the tree. How do they do that? Climb the tree? What happens if they fall out? Or meet an eagle? Or get into trouble because someone thinks they’re trying to steal the nest?
b) The birds are an endangered species – so a poacher is going to raise the birds and sell them to zoos. Now how does the hero try to stop them?
c) The aliens are going to hatch them…
3) Where is the nest? What's on the other side of that fence?

Questions & answers for writing Raven's Mountain
(Facing the Mountain)
So, you just keep on asking questions.  Remember that there aren't any wrong answers - there are only answers that will lead to better questions to make the best possible story. 

Of course I saw lots of things on my walk: blackberries – not much of a story there, but what if you put blackberry bushes under the tree that someone’s climbing to steal or rescue the nest?
What about the sisters I heard arguing?
Or the sign for the school fete?

Or the empty holiday house – where one day my dog ran away and went in the dog door. The dog door was locked from the inside so that he couldn’t get out… There are lots of chances for a story there!
The island that gave me the first idea for Nim's Island


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4. Iluminuras – com Rosana Rios

Um belo dragão
que decide num jogo
com livro na mão
se o lê ou taca fogo.

Aqui um anjinho
lendo calado
para um bicho
marrom alado.

Terminar a tempo pro Salão?
Só com ajuda do Diabo.
Vou ter de traçar um pacto
com o tal do Tio Danado.







Agora veja os estudos que fiz para essa obra.

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5. Books, et al



So this week I read:


I never read the other books in this series.  Reviews say that THIS book, which is supposed to be the last, is darker than the others in the series.  Joey just about makes himself unfixable in his attempts to put his family back together.  Gantos draws a picture of hope springing eternal and the ending has the reader crossing her fingers that everything hangs together.


 Fish in a Tree by Linda Mullaly Hunt
 Books about children who cannot read make me wonder who the audience is supposed to be.  This book is available as an audiobook and I am grateful for that.  How a child could get to 6th grade without anyone knowing that they cannot read is a puzzle to me, even though it happened to at least one of my siblings.
But Hunt's heroine hides her disability so well that everyone thinks she just has a bad attitude.  Enter thoughtful teacher!!!  And he understands that when a child "refuses" to learn there is something else going on.  Good book to share with a class, a teacher and a struggling reader - on audio, probably.

Stella by Starlight by Sharon Draper 
Stella's brother wakes her up one night to show her the white hooded figures burning a cross on the other side of the river.  The year is 1932.   Times are hard everywhere.  And now, the black community is threatened.  On Sunday, the Pastor exhorts his flock to register to vote.  Stella's Dad is one of the three black man who choose to register.  He takes Stella along to be his "standing stone".  Based on family stories shared with the author, this book paints a credible picture of a black community in the south and the trials and joys they experience.  So good!

The Family Romanov: Murder, Rebellion and the Fall of Imperial Russia by Candace Fleming
I could not help draw parallels between the 1.5% of the Russion population who controlled 90% of the wealth in the beginning of the 20th century to our own rich and privileged few.  They were clueless about the sufferings of most Russians, choosing to believe that the poor were clean, happy and well-fed.  Nicholas andAlexandra would have made great suburbanites, raising their brood and tending their graden and gossiping with the neighbors.  But as leaders, they were ostriches - downright cruel in their insistent ignorance.  Awesome book!  Eye-opening and astounding.

ALSO The Terrible Two by Mac Barnett, and Jory John and illustrated by Kevin Cornell.
Niles is a prankster extraordinaire but at his new school an unknown nemesis outpranks him at every turn.  When he meets this mastermind face to face, Niles declares a prank war.  Oh, Niles, you FOOL!!  Please, if you do try these ideas at home, do NOT mention where you read this review.

Now, I will go to bed.




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6. Fried egg on sourdough toast




I used all Prismacolor colored pencils for this, on Fabriano Artistico paper. Its 11" x 17".

This was a fun one! When the idea came to me, I googled 'fried egg' images to make sure no one else had done a piece like this. Lots of fried egg drawings, but nothing even close to this set up, so I figured I was good to go. 

Most images were of an egg on a regular shaped piece of toast, like from a normal loaf. But I liked the idea of doing some really crusty sourdough, so went shopping and found the perfect loaf of French Sourdough. I fried a couple of eggs in butter so they'd have a bit of brown around the edges, and toasted up a couple of thick slices of the bread. One of the egg yolks broke in the pan, so there was only one 'good one' left. I plopped it on a piece of toast and dashed it to the studio to take some pics. I held my breath a bit on the 'section view' one, because once I cut that piece in half I had only a few seconds to shoot a pic before it all ran down all over the place. (I actually took the egg off the bread first, cut the bread in half, nicely, then put the egg back on top and cut it, so I didn't have a complete sloppy mess.) 

You will probably be shocked to learn that I took a grand total of I think 6 pictures all together, and 3 of them were good enough to work from. I know some people take lots and lots of pictures, but I get impatient and just want to start working, so as soon as I have something that's good enough, I'm done. In my defense I will say that I'm not trying to do any fancy lighting or anything particularly sophisticated with these food pieces, so I can usually get adequate photos pretty easily.

Of course I had a whole dozen eggs in the frig, and was prepared to have to start over and fry up more  in case something went wrong. But I got lucky. The practical side of me also likes that this made a really nice lunch, and that I have eggs and sourdough for the week! 

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7. Classroom Slice of Life Story Challenge: Day 29 of 31

CLASSROOM SLICE OF LIFE STORY CHALLENGE: DAY 29 OF  31 Welcome to Day 29! Here are some quotes to keep you and your students motivated to get through the LAST FEW DAYS OF… Continue reading

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8. 2015 National Poetry Month Project - The Lowdown

I'm revving up for the kickoff of National Poetry Month in just a few short days. Here's what I've done in the past.
  • 2014 - Science Poetry Pairings - project pairing poetry and nonfiction picture books
  • 2013 - Poetry A-Z - project covering a range of thematic posts with poetry titles selected by adjectives like xeric, penitent, impish, collaborative, and more. 
  • 2011 - Poetry in the Classroom - project highlighting a poem, a theme, a book, or a poet and suggesting ways to make poetry a regular part of life in the classroom.
  • 2010 and 2009 - Poetry Makers - project containing interviews with poets who write for children (and sometimes adults!).
  • 2008 - Poetry in the Classroom - project highlighting a poem, a theme, a book, or a poet and suggesting ways to make poetry a regular part of life in the classroom.
I've spent a lot of time thinking about my topic for this year and have spent time looking at a range of poetry for kids. After embarking on a year-long writing challenge with my poetry group, coupled with participating in and following the March Madness poetry event, I’ve decided that I want to focus on poetic forms. 

One of the things I love about Poetry 180 is that it provides such a range of topics and forms for classrooms. However, it is focused for high schools. I want to shine a spotlight on forms other than strictly rhyming (though rhyme is perfectly fine) for the elementary and middle school classroom. I love rhyme just as much as the next person, but I worry that much of the poetry parents select for kids and teachers select for classrooms is chosen simply because it rhymes. And I don’t want the merit or “goodness” of poetry judged simply on this trait. Kids need to be exposed to poets old (classic) and new, poems funny and serious, in the glorious range that exists. Poetry for kids can be smart and challenging and I want to highlight this aspect.

In addition to focusing forms, I'll also be sharing the thoughts of selected poets. I can't wait for April to begin! I hope you'll stop by to see what I've thrown together.

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9. The Librarian review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Mikhail Elizarov's The Librarian, winner of the 2008 Russian Booker Prize and just out in English from Pushkin Press.

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10. Tiny Compositions

Dancing through my sketch. This is so typical of one of my practice sheets--worked from all angles (note upside down tree in upper left), interspersed with patterns and bits of foliage.

A photo posted by Lisa Firke (@lisafirkecreative) on

Tiny castle scene in gouache. 2x2.5 inches

A photo posted by Lisa Firke (@lisafirkecreative) on

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11. "By the Powers!" KING BRONTY is Back in Business!

"By the Powers!" That's an old pirate expression, one used often by the likes of Captain Crockers on the Scurvy Shark! Welcome back to another nautical mile in this dinosaur knight and pirate adventure!








 I hope you enjoy this blog. Though I truly enjoy making "King Bronty" please join in and  encourage it's continued creation by support for art supplies, coffee, etc.  JRY



 

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12. ECCC’15: Valiant opens the Book of Death

Valiant has just revealed a brand new event at Emerald City Comic Con following up Armor Hunters entitled Book of Death. The following image drawn by Robert Gill was sent as a press release. With a 25th Anniversary, the publisher is looking to celebrate their line including the old and new versions of the company. The image teases a July 2015 release and popular characters like Quantum and Woody, Archer & Armstrong, X-O Manowar, Vincent Van Goat, Ninjak, Rai, Punk Mambo, Bloodshot, Dr. Mirage, Divinity, The Eternal Warrior, Shadowman, Faith, Peter Stanchek, and more hidden in the background. The heroes lurk below what seems to be a representation of Death in the Valiant Universe.

valiantdeath-6ea60

Could we see some characters from the old Valiant line come back in this story? Is this the Blackest Night of Valiant?

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13. Order In Room Oblivion -NOT A Cross-over Comic!

So why have I not reviewed the new books?

(1) I just really could not be arsed to.

(2) I decided to tidy up and organise my shelves more.


A lot better.  Annuals more organised so that I can get my Sub-Mariners, Invaders and Day of Judgement (I got the title wrong in the last post!) onto one shelf -the one with the Cyberman. My volumes 2-on of The Avengers are on the shelf below. and opposite. They need organising and putting in order.

Below, a wider shot. Not a box in sight!



And the doorway shelves -top my Essentials and below Avengers volume 1 comics and collections (Marvel Masterworks).  Below that the Avengers Essentials and trades and my gorgeously lovely and wonderful Essentials Dr Strange 1-4 and some 1970s Marvel comic paperback books and B&W digests (UK).

Not seen here is the shelf below with my Marvel Graphic novel (what I'd call comic albums) series - Revenge Of The Living Monolith, Emperor Doom, Dr Strange, Killraven, etc.. Also my cover-less but treasured Steranko History of Comics and some Marvel Treasury editions.  Also all my Paul Ashley Brown zines, Jessica Bradley-Bove collection (WONDERFUL stuff!), books and zines by Vanessa Wells, Donna Barr, Roberta Gregory, Willie Hewes, et al.


Other side of he door my JLA, All Star Squadrons and other DC Showcase Presents books plus my Mighty Crusaders, The Fox and 1960s Mighty Crusaders and The Fly comics...and the black and white Vampirella collection from...Harris?


And am I tired after all of this?  Yes.  Time for a bath and then checking You Tube -there is a new Ashens video and I might watch more Knighthood and Decoy - you have never checked the Multiverse channel you really should!

Nighty-night, all!


Ps. Another mistake in that last post.  I forget I had EIGHT boxes of UK weekly comics stored in another room and four more...in another.  I am old.

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14. Do I have to have a Male Protagonist?

Question: I am writing a fiction novel about two girls. The story revolves around these two girls and its definitely not a love-theme plot. Its more of

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15. Library Loot: Fourth Trip in March

New Loot:
  • Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania by Erik Larson
  • Kept for Jesus by Sam Storms
  • Luther on the Christian Life by Carl R. Trueman
  • 17 Carnations: The Royals, the Nazis, and the Biggest Cover-up in History by Andrew Morton
  • Henry and Beezus by Beverly Cleary
  • Otis Spofford by Beverly Cleary
  • Henry Huggins by Beverly Cleary
  • "B" is for Betsy by Carolyn Haywood
  • Back to School with Betsy by Carolyn Haywood
  • Betsy and the Boys by Carolyn Haywood
  • Betsy and Billy by Carolyn Haywood
  • The Wheel on the School by Meindert De Jong
Leftover Loot:
  • Les Miserables by Victor Hugo, translated by Christine Donougher
  • A Light in the Attic by Shel Silverstein
  • Lady Thief by A.C. Gaughen
  • Evil Genius by Catherine Jinks
  • Genius Squad by Catherine Jinks
  • Bones of Faerie by Janni Lee Simner
  •  The Princess Plot by Kirsten Boie, translated by David Henry Wilson
  • One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish by Dr. Seuss
  • Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss
  • Gone-Away Lake by Elizabeth Enright
  • Murder at Mullings by Dorothy Cannell
  •  The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents
  • Game Changer by Margaret Peterson Haddix
  • The Always War by Margaret Peterson Haddix
  • Running Out of Time by Margaret Peterson Haddix
  • The Black Cauldron by Lloyd Alexander
  • Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine
  • Princess of the Midnight Ball by Jessica Day George
  • Princess of the Silver Woods by Jessica Day George
  • Princess of Glass by Jessica Day George
  •  Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas, translated by Richard Pevear
  • The Acts of King Arthur and His Noble Knights by John Steinbeck
  • The Midwife's Tale by Sam Thomas
  • The Upstairs Room by Johanna Reiss
  • Socks by Beverly Cleary
  • Ginger Pye by Eleanor Estes
  • Happy Birthday to You! by Dr. Seuss
  • Princess Academy by Shannon Hale
  • Palace of Stone by Shannon Hale
    Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire from The Captive Reader and Linda from Silly Little Mischief that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library. If you’d like to participate, just write up your post-feel free to steal the button-and link it using the Mr. Linky any time during the week. And of course check out what other participants are getting from their libraries. 

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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16. Spring issue of New Books in German

       The Spring 2015 issue of New Books in German is now available online, with reviews of new books (and some 'Forgotten Gems' -- some of which are already available in translation) and a variety of other features.
       The review section introduces a decent selection of new titles -- and great to see that, for example, the Nino Haratischwili already has a UK publisher (I have a copy but haven't gotten around to covering yet -- 1280 pp. is no misprint, but, yes, it impresses).

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17. ECCC’15: DC Converges the Weeklies on Seattle

IMG_20150328_130012

DC Comics brings its upcoming  event to Emerald City with their DC Entertainment: All Access Weeklies and Convergence panel.

Among the panelists for this fan sales pitch are Dan Jurgens, James Tyion IV, Ray Fawkes, Maruerite Bennett, Stuart Moore and the writer of the manin series Jeff King.

After the introductions were made the group started out by showing clips from DC All Access and Dan DiDio’s video that was suppose to hype and explain Convergence. At least now it’s a better sales pitch than ” Hey this is what we’re doing while we move boxes around.” The cover for issue 0 was shown and Dan Jurgens talked about the issue coming out of next week’s Futures End finale.

Convergence 0 will have a monster 6 page scene, if you’re willing to buy three copies of the book to piece together the spreads that make it up. Jeff King talked about “balancing the epic” as far as his experience coming from the world of television. The end of Convergence will tie up Morrisson’s Multiversity.

Stuart Moore talked about the Legion Convergence story. They’ll be battling the Atomic Knights in a “contrast between hope and despair.” The story will be Superboy centric in a point where he’s in the transition to becoming Superman.

Batman Eternal was up next.

Tynion, talked about the journey it was to do a weekly comic. Issue 52 has Fawkes and Seeley draw pages in the book as well as write. Julia Pennyworth, was brought back as an idea by Fawkes. Tynion and Snyder came up with the notion of having Selena Kyle be the new kingpin of crime. Tynion’s also bursting about the upcoming events in June with Batman’s new direction.

Jurgens talked about Futures End and it being the place which introduced the radically different Brainiac. Next week’s conclusion also leads into June’s Batman Beyond. May will see an 8-page preview of Batman Beyond. Jurgens also talked about artist Bernard Chang doing the best work of his career.

Bennett talked about World’s End. Writing these characters on a different world gave her more freedom. The cover of issue 26 with Darkseid holding Earth 2 Batman was shown. It’s intense! There’s two people on this panel that have killed Superman.

Audience Q&A was up next:

Favorite contribution?

Tynion’s favorite, Eternal’s turning point in  21 with the reveal of Hush. Bennett’s was the relationship between Batman and Huntress when Thomas Wayne dawned the cape and cowl.

When asked about why we should buy Convergence, King admitted his history with the DCU was limited and spent days at a time going back through the key moments and all the Elseworld books.

Convergence 0 answers a question the missing hours of Superman’s life from Action Comics #35.

Oh look Gail Simone just showed up.

Stephanie Brown?

Tynion answered, “she’ll be appearing in a few other places and have stories with Harper Row.”

Simone talked about the Nightwing and Oracle Convergence story. According to Simone, Dick and Barbara are the only ones trying to not simply survive the dome. It’s the Nightwing/Oracle story she’s always wanted to tell.

Marguerite Bennett’s next book will be in August and it’s going to be announced soon.

The panel came to an end. Convergence begins next week with the finale of Futures End and Convergence 0.

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18. #EdcampKids in 3rd Grade!



This week, we had our own version of #EdcampKids. It was one of my favorite hours of the year.  The kids were amazing and it was so fun to watch everything and to think about the possibilities that this can open up.  I've been thinking about #Edcamp and working through how best to run Genius Hour and how to incorporate more Makerspace time all year. I want it to come together in a way that makes sense for kids.  I've read a bit here and there about how others have done #EdcampKids work.

I've learned lots from Paul Solarz' Passion Time posts.
I loved this video of a 3rd grade EdcampKids.
And I read about Ann Marie Corgill's and their EdcampKids sessions.
And I learned a lot from this post on an Elementary Edcamp.

I think kids taking charge of learning and teaching is one of the most powerful things we can do in our classrooms. (On a connected note, if you missed Katharine Hale's most recent post on her 5th graders' iTunesU course, you can read about it here.)

I worked with my 3rd grade colleague, Kami Wenning, and we thought hard about what we hoped EdcampKids could be.  We knew we wanted something that was part of our routine--not a one time event. For that reason, we needed it to be simple.  We knew we wanted authentic reasons for kids to share their learning and their passions on a more regular basis with more than just their own classroom.  We knew we wanted kids to have reasons to use various tools in all of their informational writing.  We knew we wanted the parts of our days to become more integrated for the kids--so that any interesting learning could become part of EdcampKids.  We knew we wanted the kids to take ownership and be creative in what and how they shared.

So we picked a date and decided to run our first #EdcampKids by seeing what happened when we tried to build the board. It turned out that we each had 6 kids or groups of kids who wanted to share something they had learned with the class. We decided to repeat each session of the 12 sessions so kids could attend a total of 4 sessions in one hour.   Here is the final board (Google Doc) with location (which classroom) and notes for us so we knew how to set up for each group --Did kids need the Smartboard? a table? supplies? etc.  We think kids could run all of this after a few rounds but for this round, we took care of deciding on spaces for each group.


At 9:30 on Friday, we gathered kids together and shared the board with them. We gave them each a hard copy of the schedule so that they could decide which sessions they wanted to attend.  They were very serious in their decision-making. The presenters were a bit disappointed ,when they realized they'd only be able to attend 2 of the 4 sessions but that balanced out the excitement they had about sharing their learning.


Students deciding on their sessions for EdcampKids
One of my favorite noticings was the variety in not only the topics but the types of sessions. Just like all Edcamps I've attended,  some sessions were more interactive, others were more conversational, and others were more lecture/presentation.  It was a good mix and will give us lots to talk about when it comes to different ways to share information depending on your goals. A few kids had things to set up. Most had done last-minute preparations at home. We had a good variety of sessions so some set ups only required logging into Google while other students had to set up supplies for participants.


A student setting up for her Edcamp Kids session: How to Make a Tissue Paper Flower

A group getting organized for their Google Presentation
A student created this chart to hang on an easel for participants to refer to during her session.

An interactive session on learning to use the Explain Everything app on the iPad
Using the easel helped participants see demonstrations of  Japanese writing.
The flower-making group was bigger than this student anticipated but she changed plans a bit and did a fabulous job at teaching everyone how to make the flower.


As you can see, every session was a hit.  Everyone had a great time and learned so much in every ten-minute session.

One of my favorite moments of the hour was at the end of the 3rd session. A group had shared a Google Presentation about jaguars and I saw them handing out sticky notes. Curious, I asked what was up and one of the presenters said, "Someone asked if we could share our slides and then others wanted it too so we are just collecting the names of people who want to go back to our slide show and we'll share it this week with them."  (We are in our first year as a Google District and the fact that these 8 year olds knew to ask and then knew what was possible with sharing made me smile. Google is definitely empowering kids to own their learning.)



I had a total of 11 students facilitate a session this week. That is just less than half.  Students who did not have anything for this week are already asking when the next EdcampKids will be so that they can share the topic they love.   Presenters reflected on how things went, how much they enjoyed sharing topics they love and how nice it was to talk to others about these topics.  If we do this every 2-3 weeks, kids will have lots of opportunities to share in various ways across the year.

I loved our first #EdcampKids for a million reasons.  First of all, I worry about how much ownership we have taken away from student learning in this time of testing-- but things like Genius Hour, Makerspace and Edcamp bring that back and give kids days that are engaging and worthwhile as learners. I loved that kids had choice and that they made such smart decisions about everything that went into this hour--from what to share, to the tools they used to share,  to which sessions to attend, to the questions they asked, to the thinking ahead to the next EdcampKids that they are already doing.

And as always, I am amazed looking back at how many standards an hour like this meets.  12 sessions of students sharing their own learning and research.  We met reading goals to get ready. We met writing goals to create presentation. We met speaking and listening goals.  There was a great deal of collaboration and creativity involved in all of the preparation and the hour in general.

Our plan is this--we hope to incorporate #EdCampKids into our routine and run a 1 hour session every 2-3 weeks for the rest of this year and we hope to start next year with it right away.  We know that if we start early, we'll have so much to build on across our days. We know it will grow in ways we can't yet anticipate but we know it will be a powerful thing to teach into.  Our conversations about informational writing, sharing with various audiences, research and learning about your passions will be more authentic when we can share the things we want to share, when we are ready to share them. The idea that there are lots of ways to share learning makes me happy. I have never been comfortable with everyone sharing a project or presenting within a few days' time and this gives kids options--What have you learned that you are hoping to share with others?  What is the best way to share it?

In this digital world, it is so important for our kids to have lots of ways to share their learning and to share information with others. EdcampKids gives our kids an authentic way to do this and then to connect beyond the classroom.  We hope that adding this to the things we already do with blogs and social networks will give kids a good sense of the various ways to share, connect and learn with others.

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19. Week in Review: March 22-28

The Giver. Lois Lowry. 1993. Houghton Mifflin. 180 pages. [Source: Library] 
Little Town on the Prairie. Laura Ingalls Wilder. Illustrated by Garth Williams. 1941. 374 pages. [Source: Library]
These Happy Golden Years. Laura Ingalls Wilder. Illustrated by Garth Williams. 1943. HarperCollins. 289 pages. [Source: Library]
Sparkling Cyanide. (Colonel Race #4) Agatha Christie. 1944/2002. HarperCollins. 288 pages. [Source: Bought]
 Space Case. Stuart Gibbs. 2014. Simon & Schuster. 352 pages. [Source: Review copy]

A Great and Glorious Adventure: The Hundred Years War and the Birth of Renaissance England. Gordon Corrigan. 2013/2014. Pegasus. 320 pages. [Source: Library]
Follow  Follow. A Book of Reverso Poems. (Companion to Mirror Mirror) Marilyn Singer. Illustrated by Josee Masse. 2013. Penguin. 32 pages. [Source: Library]
The Cat In the Hat. Dr. Seuss. 1957. Random House. 61 pages.  [Source: Library]
Board book: Little Blue and Little Yellow. Leo Lionni. 1959/2011. Random House. 42 pages. [Source: Review copy]
Ella Minnow Pea. Mark Dunn. 2001. Random House. 224 pages. [Source: Library]
To The Glory of God: A 40 Day Devotional on the Book of Romans. James Montgomery Boice. 2010. Baker Books. 183 pages. [Source: Bought]
Help My Unbelief: Why Doubt Is Not the Enemy of Faith. Barnabas Piper. Foreword by N.D. Wilson. 2015. [July 2015] David C. Cook. 176 pages. [Source: Review copy]
Why Believe the Bible? John MacArthur. 1980/2015. Baker Books. 208 pages. [Source: Review copy]

This week's recommendation(s)

I'd definitely recommend Follow, Follow even if you don't "like" or "love" poetry.

I'd also recommend Lois Lowry's The Giver. 

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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20. Social Media Etiquette

What not to do when using social media.


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21. Unseen Footage From Disney’s First Attempt at ‘Beauty and the Beast’

Never-before-released home videos provide a glimpse of the early concept art and showreel for the Disney classic.

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



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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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23. Lucky March: The essentials of luck

Hi, folks, this is the last in my Lucky March series. I'm a novelist as well as a picture book author. I am especially fortunate that way, lucky, if you will. I am half a century old and over the course of my journey, the nature of luck has been made clear to me. I'm exploring the wonder of luck in our lives.

Today I'm going to talk about the essentials of luck. Ah, who doesn't want to be lucky. Keep that four leaf clover, that lucky baseball card, and that favorite number, but be aware that there is no magic amulet, no handy spell or any lucky charm that will work.

 However, there are four essentials that will help luck find you. Here they are:

Discover Opportunities -- This is about finding favorable circumstances. It's tough to find alligators in the desert.  To discover opportunities you have to find or create an environment that is favorable for them. Think about where your opportunities thrive then head over or terraform where you are.

Heed Intuition -- Intuition is the ability to know something with out conscious reasoning. This ability comes from making many tries.  This repetition imbues you with knowledge that will support you in future event. Follow your feeling, Luke.

Foster Expectations -- This is all about belief.  In spite of what you have seen, keep believing. This is the pathway to success. Reach out to people who cherish your dreams, Let go of the rest. Those lucky charms? Put them in your pocket. Whatever gives you  expectation, cling to that.

Nurture Resilience. -- The journey to intuition is fraught with missteps and failure. Flexibility in dreams, hopes, plans is a big piece of the resilience pie. Dusting yourself off when you fall is a huge part of moving forward. Durability and elasticity are gained  by being willing to try again and again.

I hope you seek the essentials of luck. I hope loads of luck finds you! Next week, I will begin a series about my PLUMB CRAZY writing journey. Maybe my steps will encourage yours!

Here is a doodle! Make a wish!



A quote for your pocket

Diligence is the mother of good luck.  Benjamin Franklin

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24. Day 29 of the March SOLSC! #SOL15

We are heading into the final days of our challenge! Today is Day 29.

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25. April Connecticut Children's Literature Calendar

In April we finally get a heavily scheduled month of children's/YA author and illustrator appearances.

Wed., April 1, Paige McKenzie, R. J. Julia Booksellers, Madison 7:00 PM

Thurs., April 2, Jeanne Birdsall, R. J. Julia Booksellers, Madison 5:00 PM

Fri., April 3, Yevgeniya Yeretskaya, R. J. Julia Booksellers, Madison 10:30 AM

Tues., April 7, Paulette Bogan, R. J. Julia Booksellers, Madison 10:30 AM

Wed., April 8, Sarah Darer Littman, Cos Cob Library, Greenwich 7:00 PM

Sat., April 11, Erin Bowman, Barnes & Noble, Canton 12:00 PM

April 13, Lynn Rosenblatt, R. J. Julia Booksellers, Madison 10:30 AM

Sat., April 18, Stacy DeKeyser, Mark Twain House, Hartford 10 AM 4th Annual Authors' Weekend Workshop w/fee

April 22, Gail Carson Levine, R. J. Julia Booksellers, Madison 4:30

April 23, Katherine Applegate, R. J. Julia Booksellers, Madison 5:30 PM

Thurs., April 23, Martha Seif Simpson, Barnes & Noble, North Haven 5 to 9 PM New Author Night
Noah
Sat., April 25, Stacy DeKeyser, Barnes & Noble, Canton 12:00  Local Author Day


Sat., April 25, Katherine Applegate, Steve Light, Bob Shea, Tony Abbott, Kathy MacMillan A Festival of Children's Books, Davis Street Arts and Academics School, New Haven  10 AM - 3 PM

Tues., April 28 Alex London, Noah Webster Library, West Hartford 7:00 to 8:00 PM Registration required

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