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1. A History of my Archive in 10 Objects. No.5: Birds, 1977

Number 5 in the History of my Archive in 10 Objects, is this triple set of bird studies from early 1977.

Buzzard, Kingfisher, Long-Eared Owl. Watercolour on paper, 1977
I was 17,  I was about to leave school and start a foundation course at the now-gone and much lamented Bournville School of Art, I was full steam ahead for a career in illustration, the world of graphic art, experimentation and adventure awaited.

But all that was in the future - in the meantime I was generating some income from selling these kinds of traditional studies in a local giftshop/framing gallery in Mere Green. The owner, Mrs Gameson, was extremely supportive of my work and gave me wall space to display and sell pictures of wildlife and familiar scenes of Sutton Coldfield, in watercolour (as here) or pen and ink. Gameson Gallery also  managed me as an artist on commission - word of mouth recommendations led me to draw many of the big houses on the private estate in Four Oaks, I'd cycle with sketchpad and ink bottle to anywhere that wanted a drawing - unfortunately this came to an end when one customer returned their house sketch, upset that I'd included the washing on her line in the drawing.

Virtually everything I painted at that time was sold by the gallery, but these three studies survived because they were a birthday gift to my mum in January 1977. I believe they were amongst my first attempts to paint in pure watercolour (that is, just paint, no pen lines).

 I carried on working with the Gameson Gallery even after I started my Foundation course, right up until I left for Manchester, Mrs Gameson gave me my first ever one-man (or one kid!) exhibition, mostly wildlife paintings. My parents were particularly proud of this and my father was disappointed when I drifted away from such work. Being an artist in the eyes of my father was to paint attractive pictures, exhibit them, sell them and put them on the wall. He could never really get to grips with my choice to be an illustrator rather than a gallery fine artist, there was a suspicion I was under-selling my talents. I'll always remember him saying "when are you going to paint a proper picture I can put on the wall?" By "proper", he meant a landscape, seascape or genre oil painting. But eventually he did come round to understanding my creative path.

The fact remains though, of all the work I created and showed my parents over all these years, the one thing that never left their walls, on display without a break for nearly forty years from 1977 until 2016, were these three bird studies.

I always wonder what became of Mrs Gameson...


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2. Building Classroom Community in First Grade

Check out LEE & LOW BOOKS’ Building Classroom Community Unit for First Grade! The FREE and downloadable unit consists of eight read aloud lesson plans to inspire your best classroom community yet.

The start of first grade is ripe with opportunities for building long-lasting positive school behaviors and attitudes. Time spent building relationships and establishing social and academic expectations can pay dividends all year long.

Using a rich collection of diverse picture books to support this work lays the foundation for a classroom culture of appreciation and acceptance.

The Building Classroom Community Unit for First Grade consists of eight read alouds and provides a structured approach for this important work, yet the lessons are flexible enough for you to teach language and behaviors specific to your students’ population, preferences, and goals. Each lesson is intended for multiple days so that from the beginning students are exposed to close reading and the value of multiple readings. We believe the first eight read alouds, or roughly the first two months of school, are critical to setting the tone of your classroom community, read aloud procedures, and expectations for engagement.

PINTEREST Building Classroom Community in First GradeDuring this unit you will:

  • review and build on the expectations for listening and discussion participation introduced in kindergarten, with a new emphasis on staying focused on a topic and building on others’ responses
  • encourage students to learn about one another through discussions of favorite individual and family pastimes and goals for the year ahead
  • engage in rigorous yet developmentally appropriate discussions about crucial topics such as individual strengths and challenges, managing disagreements kindly, and persevering through mistakes and difficult tasks

Each lesson may be used as a stand alone, but we hope that using these books as a broad unit will help lay the foundation for a strong classroom community with strong learning expectations. We designed the unit to spiral. Additionally, each lesson and book can be adapted for other grades (and we hope you will do this!).

Book extension activities encourage exploration of these topics through writing, drama, and art, as well as lay the foundation for collaborative learning during your year.

Here’s to a meaningful year of reading!

Screen Shot 2016-09-15 at 1.06.57 PM
Scope & Sequence

Download the FREE Building Classroom Community Unit for First Grade here

Further reading on teaching literacy in FIRST GRADE

Guided Reading Collections from Bebop Books

Stay tuned for second grade!

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3. Nine Years Old!


Pixabay image

Every year as September winds down, I like to give a little birthday party for the blog. She's nine years old now and half a million views from her beginnings in 2007 as a class project.

The blog has connected me to you, dear readers, over the years and continues to call me - even if I resist her siren song far more in semi-retirement.

Thanks for all your support and friendship. I still can't promise more frequent posts but we shall see what next year brings.

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4. The origin of the word SLANG is known!

Caution is a virtue, but, like every other virtue, it can be practiced with excessive zeal and become a vice (like parsimony turning into stinginess). The negative extreme of caution is cowardice.

The post The origin of the word SLANG is known! appeared first on OUPblog.

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5. Presidential Polar Bear Post Card Project No. 243 - 9.27.16


As much as this project has been about my own small way of participating in the political process, about encouraging the current administration to give due consideration to an issue that I feel strongly about, its also been an engaging way for me to raise my own personal awareness of SO many other things. That being said, please don't forget about your own participation in the process, and DO get out your vote by November 8th. No polar bear actually running for President, but if there were I bet they'd believe in taking bold steps to reduce our carbon outputs and to get a grip on global warming.

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6. Mo Willems Studio OCTOBER 2016 UPDATE!

October features a NEW book, touring shows, wonderful exhibitions, and fun stuff!  BOOKS! October 25 will see the publication of my next picture book, NANETTE'S BAGUETTE, which has already garnered a starred review from KIRKUS and another starred review from BOOKLIST. I'm very excited and proud of the book, it's been great fun doing preview readings of the story over the past few months.

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7. देश का खोखला कानून

ये अंधा कानून है. देश का खोखला कानून है क्योकि हर रोज कुछ न कुछ ऐसा पढने सुनने को मिल जाता है कि कानून पर से विश्वास ही उठता नजर आता है. आज भी कुछ ऐसा ही हुआ.  नेट पर सर्च करते हुए अचानक ध्यान एक खबर की और चला गया. खबर थी कि फिल्म ‘पिंक […]

The post देश का खोखला कानून appeared first on Monica Gupta.

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8. Guest Interview: Marcia Lynx Qualey on #WorldKidLit Month

#WorldKidLit Month image (c) Elina Braslina
By Avery Fischer Udagawa
for Cynthia Leitich Smith's Cynsations

September is #WorldKidLit Month, a time to notice if world literature is reaching kids in the form of translations.

(See this Book Riot list of 100 Great Translated Children’s Books from Around the World.)

Leading the effort are Cairo-based writer Marcia Lynx Qualey, translator Lawrence Schimel, and Alexandra Büchler of Literature Across Frontiers.

I was fascinated that Qualey, a journalist for The Guardian and other outlets, takes such interest in children’s literature. She answered my questions for Cynsations by email.

As a journalist, why have you made #WorldKidLit Month a special project?

Marcia Lynx Qualey
Many of the books I see promoted as “Middle Eastern literature” for children—indeed, almost all of them—are books written by Westerners and set in the region. Just so, we have floods of books by soldiers, aid workers, and journalists who spent some time in Iraq, for instance, and almost none by Iraqis.

Writing about other places is valuable, yes, but it’s another thing entirely to listen to the stories—the cadences, the art, the beauty—coming from another language.

I find it limiting and echoey to read the narrow band of “our own” Anglophone stories. We can offer our children much much more: more joy, and more ways of seeing.

What would you like the children’s literature community to gain from this annual event?

Just as with #WiTMonth (Women in Translation), I think it’s key to start with recognition—to recognize that we don’t translate much from around the world. We translate a bit from Western European languages, where publishers have connections, and that’s great. But the literature currently translated from the great Indian languages, from Chinese, from Turkish, from Farsi, from Eastern European languages, would fill a few small shelves. These literatures could give us so much!

I’m grateful for the bit translated from Japanese literature, which has been feeding our children’s imaginations in new ways. (And our grown-up imaginations, too.)

What was your own experience of literature as a child? Was your whole world represented in stories you read?

The world outside was a mysterious and scary place, difficult and sometimes painful to understand. But the worlds as presented in my books were so tangible, they really belonged to me, they could be read and re-read.

As for translations, I particularly loved folktales from around the world, and cherished not just Italo Calvino’s collection (which I read until it fell to bits), but Norwegian and Japanese and Arab and other folktales. The folktale is a wonderful global form where there has been much sharing from language to language, culture to culture.

Have you translated any literature for children?

Not in any serious or systematic way; just helping translate picture books for a friend. I would love to, but interest in Arabic kidlit has been vanishingly small.

What currently available Arabic>English kidlit translations would you recommend?

There are precious few, while children’s books translated into Arabic are many. (There are books from French and Japanese, for instance, that I know and love only in Arabic.)

You can get a translation of pioneer illustrator Mohieddine Ellabad’s The Illustrator’s Notebook, and The Servant by Fatima Sharafeddine (Faten, in the original, translated by Fatima herself), and Code Name: Butterfly by Ahlam Bsharat, translated by Nancy Roberts. I would love you to read Walid Taher’s award-winning Al-Noqta al-Sooda’, but alas there is no translation!

Cynsational Notes

Marcia Lynx Qualey blogs at Arabic Literature in English.

Avery Fischer Udagawa contributes to the SCBWI Japan Translation Group blog and is the SCBWI International Translator Coordinator.

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9. Writer Wednesday: A New Release Every Two Months?


Now that I'm officially going indie, I can do exciting things like set my own production schedule. Why is this so exciting? Because over the years, I've had to either months between releases or releases stacked so close together it was tough to market my books. No more.

I have 2017 and 2018 mapped out and my release schedule looks like this:
January 
April 
July 
October

That's two months between releases. Will it be tough? Yes! But I think the schedule is going to keep readers happy, and I work better on a schedule so I think I'll be happy too.

Right now, my January 2017 release is so close to being completely finished (and it's only September!). My April release is with my editor, and I'll be polishing up my July release to get that ready for my editor as well. Things are looking good so far. :)

Do you like when authors release books a few months apart?

*If you have a question you'd like me to answer from the other side of the editor's desk, feel free to leave it in the comments and I'll schedule it for a future post.

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10. Attend Today, Achieve Tomorrow

Attendance Works

September is National Attendance Awareness Month, a time when schools and programs across the country emphasize the connection between satisfactory school attendance and academic achievement.

Researchers and social scientists are always trying to figure out the secret to academic success for students. Public schools or charter schools? Is standardized testing effective? What role should technology play in schools? For every answer, more questions emerge.attendance-works

One thing the leading minds in education do know is that attendance works. If a teacher is looking for a way to help improve their students’ academic outcomes, attendance works.

Our friends at Attendance Works, a national and state initiative that promotes better policy and practice around school attendance, have developed FREE resources in English and Spanish that help reinforce the importance of attendance for caregivers of young children.

Why Attendance Matters:

  • Early attendance helps children read and succeed later in school
  • Children from low-income families are more likely to be affected by lost school time
  • Chronic absenteeism starts early, so encourage good attendance habits now

These resources are a great way for teachers to engage with their students’ caregivers and highlight the importance of good school attendance. Teachers can use the strategies and tactics found in these downloadable materials to help caregivers ensure attendance is a priority for their young students now and in the future.

Because after all, attendance works.

If you serve kids in need, please visit the Attendance Works section of the First Book Marketplace to download FREE resources that can be used to engage caregivers and convey the importance of satisfactory school attendance.

The post Attend Today, Achieve Tomorrow appeared first on First Book Blog.

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11. Profiling schoolmasters in early modern England

In 2015 the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography introduced an annual research bursary scheme for scholars in the humanities. As the first year of the scheme comes to a close, we ask the second of the 2015-16 recipients—the early modern historian, Dr Emily Hansen—about her research project, and how it’s developed through her association with the Oxford DNB.

The post Profiling schoolmasters in early modern England appeared first on OUPblog.

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12. Ray Oranges

Ray Oranges

Ray Oranges is a Florence-based designer whose work has caught the eye of Wired, Monocle, and Creative Review. Focusing on the shapes of his subjects rather than their details, he abstracts architecture and landscapes to create artful and geometric pieces. His extreme minimalism, mixed with his calculated use of negative space and long shadows, gives his portfolio a surreal and dreamlike quality. To keep up with his work and architectural inspiration, make sure to follow him on Instagram.

Ray Oranges

Ray Oranges

Ray Oranges

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13. MAISONS DU MONDE - final round-up

I have finally reached the end of my Maisons du Monde marathon. It has been seven days of posts - so thank you for sticking with me - and I hope you have found something inspirational you liked. We end with a mixture of snap shots from my store visit and beautifully styled shots from their website. Everything featured during the showcase was spotted at Maisons du Monde who have a stores all

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14. Play Doh

We made a Play Doh pizza
(Forming spinach from the green)
And I cut out little slices
(Cutest ones I've ever seen).

Next we patted pancakes, rolled out snakes
And to our hearts' content,
We squished and squished with all our might;
(A perfect way to vent!).

Though the colors smushed together
(Not my choice, but what the hey)
We had lots of fun, the perfect
Inter-generation play.

Then we stuffed the Play Doh in the cans
And covered them up tight
'Til another opportunity
Presents for such delight.

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15. The Six Week Check-in

Many of us are fast approaching the sixth week of school. Many of us consider that the first of countless milestones in our school year. Six weeks in, routines are beginning to solidify,… Continue reading

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16. Get It Right: Disney Is Doing An Animated—Not Live-Action—Remake of ‘The Lion King’

If you described today's announcement of a "Lion King" remake as a 'live-action film,' you really shouldn't be covering the film industry.

The post Get It Right: Disney Is Doing An Animated—Not Live-Action—Remake of ‘The Lion King’ appeared first on Cartoon Brew.

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17. सीसीटीवी फुटेज – ऊपर वाले तेरा जवाब नहीं

सीसीटीवी फुटेज – ऊपर वाला सब देख रहा है .. आजकल चोरी चकारी होने पर जानने के लिए भले ही लोग भगवान के दर जाते हों पर अब भगवान भी यही कह रहें हैं कि सीसीटीवी फुटेज खंगालो वो सब देख रहा है. ऊपर वाला सब देख रहा है कब ,कौन , कैसे,  कहां की सारी […]

The post सीसीटीवी फुटेज – ऊपर वाले तेरा जवाब नहीं appeared first on Monica Gupta.

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18. A quick #sketch of Philip Glass drawn during the pre-concert...


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19. City of Literature

On the last Tuesday of every month the Edinburgh City of Literature holds a Literary Salon at The Wash Bar. This is a pub at the top of the mound - above the National Museum of Scotland. Inside, the ceiling is low and it fills quickly with dozens of local writers, published and pre-published, as they gather to talk craft. Announcements are made about upcoming literary events (here was last night),

and wine is generously poured. Our friend and local photographer, Chris Scott, records the events, but this time I got his picture.
      Most of the attendees are poets or writers of adult literature, so I love it when I find fellow children's book fans - which I do. They are quickly becoming friends.
      I have never lived somewhere so supportive of the creative arts. It is such a pleasure to participate in this event, hosted by the awesome Eleanor Pender, and others around town. Truly, being able to visit museums for free, meet up with various interest groups for free, and embrace the local writing community in this way is an amazing benefit of living in Edinburgh.

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20. Recommended: WE SANG YOU HOME by Richard Van Camp and Julie Flett

In the last month or so I've been using the phrase "being loved by words" or "being loved by a book." I don't know if that works or not. Some might think it sounds goofy. It does, however, capture how I felt, reading the stories in Love Beyond Body, Space, and Time: An LGBT and Two Spirit Science Fiction Anthology. It is definitely a book I recommend to young adults.

The emotions it brought forth in me are spilling over again and again, of late. I don't know what to make of that tenderness that I feel, but it is real.

Around the same time that I read the anthology, I got an electronic copy of We Sang You Home by Richard Van Camp and Julie Flett. I had that same response to it. Indeed, there were moments when I was blinking back tears! Now, I've got a copy:


I've thought about it a lot since first reading it, trying to put words to emotions. Richard Van Camp and Julie Flett are Native. I've read many of their books and recommend them over and over. Working together on this one (their first one is Little You), or apart, the books they give us are the mirrors that Native children need.

Just look at the joy and the smile of the child on the cover! That kid is loved, and that's what I want for Native kids! To feel loved by words, by story, by books.

We Sang You Home is a board book that, with very few words on each page, tells a child about how they were wanted, and how they came to be, and how they were, as the title says, sang home where they'd be kissed, and loved, and... where they, too, would sing.

Here's me, holding We Sang You Home. See the joy on my face? Corny, maybe, but I wanna sing. About being loved, by this dear board book.


I highly recommend We Sang You Home. Published by Orca in 2016, it is going to be gifted to a lot of people in the coming years.

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21. New York City’s housing crisis

New York City is the midst of a housing affordability crisis. Over the last decade, average rents have climbed 15% while the income of renters has increased only 2%. The city’s renaissance since the 1990's has drawn thousands of new residents; today, the population of 8.5 million people is the highest it has ever been. But New Yorkers are finding that the benefits of city living are not without its costs. The demand for housing has outstripped the real estate community’s ability to supply it; as a result, prices have been rising.

The post New York City’s housing crisis appeared first on OUPblog.

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22. दो पंक्तियाँ

भूल से जब मुझको उसकी याद आई,
आँसुओं से भीगी वो मुस्कुराहट लाई ||




ज़िंदगी में जिंदा, ऐतबार देखा
उनकी आँखो में जो प्यार देखा ||




बस एक पल में ज़िंदगी जी गया,
बिन कुछ बोले जो क्रोध पी गया ||




देख पलट कर एक बार, मेरा समय रुका है,
सब कुछ सहा मैने, तेरा दर्द मुझमें दुखा है ||



रात ने मुझे, तेरे बारे में समझाया,

लोरी बोली तन्हाई, अंधेरे ने सुलाया ||  

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23. Benny and Penny in How to Say Goodbye by Geoffrey Hayes, 32 pp, RL 2


Benny and Penny in How to Say Goodbye is the sixth book featuring these bickering siblings and, as always, Geoffrey Hayes captures the intense and fleeting emotions that young children feel and how they make sense of the world around them perfectly. And, as always, his illustrations are marvelously charming and the natural world that the mice live in gently beautiful. Hayes's graphic novel series is perfect for emerging readers looking for something beyond Frog & Toad and Amelia Bedelia.


In How to Say Goodbye, Hayes has his mice brother and sister encounter death. While playing together in the fall leaves, Penny finds a salamander she named Little Red. She knows that it is dead, having a grasp of what death it. Benny reacts with anger, throwing the salamander into the bushes.


Penny gets help from Melina and the two make plans for Little Red, Benny skulking around the edges of their activities. As the they prepare for the burial, Benny and Penny have memories of Little Red, each feeling their grief in their own ways. They also find ways to honor the life of the salamander. As the story draws to an end, another salamander appears and a new friendship begins.



You can read my reviews of other 
Benny & Penny books here





Source: Review Copy


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24. The Worst Best School Year Ever

The Best (Worst) School Year Ever. Barbara Robinson. 1994. 117 pages. [Source: Bought]

First sentence: Unless you're somebody like Huckleberry Finn, the first day of school isn't too bad.

Premise/plot: This book is a sequel to the Best Christmas Pageant Ever. Both books are narrated by a girl named Beth who bear witness to the awfulness of the Herdman family. The book loosely takes place between the first and last days of school. The chapters are more episodic than linked to one another. All focus in on the Herdman family. Some chapters are better than others. I wouldn't say that any were wonderful.

My thoughts: I really LOVE, LOVE, LOVE The Best Christmas Pageant ever. And I think the reason why was that it had a point--a redemptive point. The Herdmans surprised everyone with their humanness, and, they weren't just the town joke when all was said and done. That isn't the case with The Worst Best School Year Ever. While there was one touching moment when Beth, the narrator, noticed Imogene at her best, that alone wasn't enough to make up for all the "let's laugh at the Herdmans." The scene I did like was when Beth noticed the initials on the blanket "returned" to baby Howard. I.H. When Howard lost his blanket--he was the bald baby whose head the Herdmans tattooed with waterproof markers--Imogene gave him her old blanket and pretended it was his that she had found. Only Beth suspected the truth. The first book seemed to end with a fuzzy removal of the "us" and "them" distinction. Not so with this one. And that is disappointing.

© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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25. अंधविश्वास एक अभिशाप

अंधविश्वास के उदाहरण अंधविश्वास एक अभिशाप है और इसके भी समाज में बहुत देखने में आ रहे हैं आज ही एक अंधविश्वास के उदाहरण से दो चार होना पडा .  श्राद्द चल रहे हैं और इन दिनों शुभ कार्य न किया जाए ऐसी मान्यता है पर आज एक बात सुनकर समझ नही आ रहा कि […]

The post अंधविश्वास एक अभिशाप appeared first on Monica Gupta.

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