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1. NASA discovers water on Mars again: take it with a pinch of salt

The discovery of water on Mars has been claimed so often that I’d forgive anyone for being skeptical about the latest announcement. Frozen water, ice, has been proven on Mars in many places, there are lots of ancient canyons hundreds of kilometres long that must have been carved by rivers, and much smaller gullies that are evidently much younger.

The post NASA discovers water on Mars again: take it with a pinch of salt appeared first on OUPblog.

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2. Perfect Picture Book Friday - Leah's Pony

Happy Perfect Picture Book Friday, Everyone!

There's nothing like Friday, is there?  Especially before a long weekend :)

And Perfect Picture Books just make Fridays even better - tons of great new reading material for your weekend, be it regular or long :)

This was one of those odd weeks when my pile of picture books failed to wow me.  I read book after book thinking, "meh" - not what you want in a perfect picture book!  I'm always a little depressed when this happens.  I wonder if I'm missing something, since clearly a whole team of people thought these books were great enough to publish.  But whatever the reason, there was no perfect picture book in this week's collection, so instead of one of the newer titles from my pile of meh, I went with an older title from my bookshelf (signed to my daughter by Michael Garland :)) a book I have loved for years.  I hope you'll enjoy it!

Title: Leah's Pony
Written By: Elizabeth Friedrich
Illustrated By: Michael Garland
Boyds Mills Press, February 1996, Fiction (historical)

Suitable For Ages: 6-9

Themes/Topics: historical fiction (1930s Dust Bowl), family, love, sacrifice

Opening:  "The year the corn grew tall and straight, Leah's papa bought her a pony.  The pony was strong and swift and sturdy, with just a snip of white at the end of his soft black nose.  Papa taught Leah to place her new saddle right in the middle of his back and tighten the girth around his belly, just so."

Brief Synopsis: Leah's pony was swift and strong.  She loved him dearly, and together they raced across the fields under summer skies.  But then came a year when the corn didn't grow, locusts blackened the sky, and the earth turned to dust, the beginning of the great drought (the Dust Bowl of the 1930s.)  Leah's family is faced with losing their farm and their livelihood.  It takes Leah's strength and courage to save them.

Links To Resources: Facts about the Dust Bowl with links to further resources; Lesson Plan for the Dust Bowl (aimed at 5th grade but can be altered); Dust Bowl info and lesson plans for grades 2-5; Photo Gallery - The Dust Bowl; Dust Bowl Facts & Summary

Why I Like This Book:  This is historical fiction at its best, bringing a slice of history to life in a way that is not only accessible but irresistible for young readers.  The story is simply told with all the right details, and so emotionally compelling I dare anyone not to get choked up at the end!  Michael Garland's art is absolutely stunning and a perfect fit for the story.  With slightly longer text as well as the historical context, this is a wonderful choice for older picture book readers.

For the complete list of books with resources, please visit Perfect Picture Books.

PPBF bloggers please be sure to leave your post-specific link in the list below so we can all come visit you!

Have a wonderful long weekend, everyone, and Happy Columbus Day!  I'm hoping to post the guidelines for the Halloweensie Contest...soon-ish...so stay tuned!!!

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3. Busy Baby: TRUCKS and FRIENDS by Sara Gillingham

Sara Gillingham is an award-winning art director, designer and author of a shelf of great board books. I've reviewed many of her books and I love her style and palette as well as the sweet simplicity of her storytelling. Gillingham's newest books, TRUCKS and FRIENDS are both part of the new Chronicle Books, purveyors of visually stunning art and cook books, superb children's books and

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This book is both a quiet coming-of-age novel, and a suspenseful mystery, making it somewhat difficult to review without providing spoilers. In some ways, it was a fairly typical YA novel about a high school girl - yet, there was a lot else going... Read the rest of this post

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5. Digital Writing Portfolios

If you have not started using writing portfolios with your students yet, give it a try. Start a collection of their work and build in a system of reflection.

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6. Invisible Sister



Photo courtesy Disney Channel/Bob D’Amico

Set in New Orleans during Halloween, Invisible Sister follows Cleo (played by Rowan Blanchard), an introverted young science prodigy whose class project accidentally turns her popular older sister and the school’s star lacrosse player, Molly (played by Paris Berelc), invisible.

Cleo, who has become accustomed to living in Molly’s shadow, is forced to step outside her comfort zone and into the shoes of her older sister to take her place on the day of an important game. As the sisters try to convince their friends, teachers, and Molly’s lacrosse team that nothing is wrong, they must rely on each other like never before. In doing so, they gain a better understanding of one another and themselves.

Meanwhile, they are up against the clock to find an antidote to reverse the effects of Cleo’s experiment before Molly’s invisibility becomes permanent.

Invisible Sister also stars Karan Brar (BUNK’DJessie) as Cleo’s quirky best buddy and fellow science enthusiast; Rachel Crow (X Factor) as Molly’s outgoing best friend and teammate; Will Meyers (Bella and the Bulldogs) as Cleo’s crush and science scholar; and Austin Fryberger (Kirby Buckets) as Molly’s goofy but affable boyfriend.

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7. Hamelin Newsletter 9 ottobre 2015

NEWSLETTER del 09/10/2015

Hamelin è presente alla ricchissima decima edizione del festival Tuttestorie.
Venerdì 9 ottobre e sabato 10 ottobre 2015 presso la tenda Bubù Hamelin accompagna i bambini ad incontrare Chris Riddell, acclamato illustratore inglese, alla scoperta del suo ultimo romanzo Agata Dei Gotici e il topo fantasma.
Agli adulti invece è diretto l'appuntamento di domenica 11 ottobre alle 18.30 Cara Mara, caro Andrea. Dialogo fra uno scrittore e un'illustratrice, che vede Mara Cerri e Andrea Bajani raccontare l'esperienza della creazione a quattro mani del progetto La pantera sotto il letto.

In occasione della seconda edizione di Libriamoci: giornate di lettura nelle scuole (26/31 ottobre 2015), il Centro per il Libro e la Lettura offre alle scuole la possibilità di ospitare gratuitamente dei lettori d'eccezione per gli incontri con le classi.
Tra i lettori d'eccezione, famosi scrittori, musicisti e giornalisti (come Alessandro D'Avenia, Licia Troisi, Mauro Corona e Giulio Giorello).
Per tutte le informazioni sulle modalità di partecipazione, visitate la sezione dedicata sul sito di Libriamoci a scuola.
Quest'anno il Centro per il Libro e la Lettura promuove 20 corsi di formazione gratuiti per insegnanti ed educatori in 17 regioni.
Tutti i corsi sono a cura del Coordinamento associazioni per la promozione ed educazione alla lettura, di cui anche Hamelin fa parte.
Inizieremo i nostri venerdì 9 ottobre presso la Biblioteca Autentica di San Valentino in Abruzzo Citeriore (PE), per poi proseguire il 26 ottobre a Roma e il 30 a Palermo. Poi sarà la volta di Catania e Vibo Valentia.

È cominciata come un modo per sottolineare, ancora una volta, che le storie (soprattutto quelle lette in adolescenza) possono cambiare la vita, e per chiedervi di aiutarci ad arrivare alla fase finale del bando CheFare.
Ora Bookface è diventato un gioco che si allarga sempre più, e anche scrittori, illustratori, fumettisti si stanno fotografando con il libro della loro adolescenza. Partecipa anche tu!
International Board on Books for Young People è una rete internazionale di persone, che provengono da 77 paesi e promuove la cooperazione internazionale attraverso i libri per bambini, creando ovunque per l'infanzia l'opportunità di avere accesso a libri di alto livello letterario e artistico e incoraggiando la pubblicazione e la distribuzione di libri di qualità per bambini specialmente nei Paesi in via di sviluppo.

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8. Finding MORE Children’s Literature in Unexpected Places

Not long after starting my new job with the Evanston Public Library system I wrote a post called Unexpected Jolts of Children’s Literature in Rather Adult Places.  The impetus came from the fact that within the capacity of my new job I see quite a bit more adult literature than I ever did back at NYPL.  But like some perverse kidlit dowser I can’t turn off my continual need to find children’s literature references in everything I see.  Here are some more books that owe a great deal of credit to books written with young people in mind.


Mostly I’m just happy because this is a mystery set in my old stomping grounds but there does appear to be at least one children’s literature connection.  In this tale a woman is murdered in Bryant Park and another elsewhere.  Kirkus goes on to say, “What was the killer of the two women looking for? The leading candidates are a priceless 1507 map that the library didn’t even know it had and an edition of Alice in Wonderland that’s not suitable for children. The exact identity of the murderer’s target, however, is less interesting than the incestuous web of relations among the library’s trustees…”  Library Journal added that the detectives’, “investigation leads them to the New York Public Library, where they discover the magnificence and secrets that lie within this historic landmark. As they travel through hidden passages, marvel at rare antiquities, and uncover decades-old secrets, their adventures are reminiscent of the quests of Indiana Jones or National Treasure.”  I’m still wondering about that unsuitable edition of Alice in Wonderland . . .


Apparently this book contains the question, “Why read The Wind in the Willows when you can be Ratty or Mole?”

As Kirkus responded, “It’s not quite on the order of ‘because it is there,’ but it’s a good enough rationale for adventure and a fine note on which to begin.”


Admittedly, this one’s more on the YA side of things.  Now we’ve seen a LOT of Peter-Pan-as-bad-guy books and television shows lately.  It’s not a particularly new idea, but it gets the job done.  This is the first in a series, apparently, and a gory one at that.  And speaking of gory . . .


I sort of love this one , mostly because PW in a bit of inspiration described it as, “it’s as though Brian Jacques and Quentin Tarantino went drinking one night.”


To be fair, check out the author on this one.  Yep.  Catherynne M. Valente.  The description from the publisher reads, “A New York Times bestselling author offers a brilliant reinvention of one of the best-known fairy tales of all time with Snow White as a gunslinger in the mythical Wild West.”  Sort of resembles an adult companion to Rapunzel’s Revenge, doesn’t it?  Well, have no fear.  She gets her own adult book too.


This last one is my favorite, by the way.


Admittedly I was kind of hoping that this would be a story about Scrooge opening up his own detective agency with the help of his ghostly friends (whom he can now see).  It’s not quite that, but I wasn’t disappointed.  Check out the publisher description:

“Ebenezer Scrooge from Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol investigates a shocking murder—before he becomes the next victim—in this playful mystery in a new series from aNew York Times bestselling author.

Scrooge considers himself a rational man with a keen sense of deductive reasoning developed from years of business dealings. But that changes one night when he’s visited by the ghost of his former boss and friend, Fezziwig, who mysteriously warns him that three more will die, and ultimately Ebenezer himself—if he doesn’t get to the bottom of a vast conspiracy.

When he wakes the next day, Scrooge discovers that not only is Fezziwig dead, but he’s under arrest as all evidence points toward himself: Scrooge’s calling card was found in the cold, dead hand of Fezziwig’s body, and someone scribbled “HUMBUG” in blood on the floor nearby.

Now, Scrooge must race against the pocket watch to clear his name, protect his interests, and find out who killed his last true friend—before the “Humbug Killer” strikes again. Joining Scrooge in his adventures is a spunky sidekick named Adelaide, who matches his wits at every turn, plus the Artful Dodger, Fagin, Belle, Pickwick, and even Charles Dickens himself as a reporter dealing in the lurid details of London’s alleyway crimes.”

When I was a kid my family saw what, to this day, can only be described as the most wonderful/horrible version of A Christmas Carol of all time.  About ten of the parts were all played by the same guy doing some pretty half-hearted quick changes, but my heart was won when, at the beginning, Fagin (Fagin?) appears on the stage and he and his kids (including an “Olivia”?) sing a rousing rendition of “Consider Yourself” to start the show.  Reading the description of this book, I’m experiencing flashbacks.

Extra points for Adelaide, the “spunky sidekick”.


1 Comments on Finding MORE Children’s Literature in Unexpected Places, last added: 10/9/2015
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9. Svetlana Alexievich, Nobel laureate 2015

       Belarusian author Svetlana Alexievich was named this year's Nobel laureate (she'll only officially be awarded the prize at the 10 December Nobel award ceremony); my coverage from yesterday provides many of the basic informational links about her, her work, and early reactions to it.

       Was this a surprise ?
       Apparently not -- at least to the extent that a Nobel announcement can be unsurprising. She was -- and long had been -- the odds-on betting favorite (3/1 at Ladbrokes coming into the final day) and, for example, when Aftonbladet asked their critics to name their guesses and their favorites Alexievich was a popular choice.

       Does she deserve the prize ?
       As I suggested in my final Nobel preview -- and as indeed I suggested back in 2013 in assessing her chances back then -- she covers a lot of what one might expect on any Nobel checklist. The Nobel committee continues to show a particular appetite for recent-European-horrors-probing writing, whether about Nazi Europe (Modiano, Kertész), Communist totalitarianism (Herta Müller), or bourgeois society (Jelinek), and Alexievich's bona fides -- a product of the Soviet system (she won Soviet literary prizes back in the 1980s), a citizen of Europe's most totalitarian state, her subject matters -- are unimpeachable. The many other prizes she has won -- quite a variety, too -- suggest there's considerable quality there too.
       English-speaking readers are of course at a disadvantage, because even though she hasn't published very many books, her Voices from Chernobyl is the only one that has been readily available for quite a while, and the only other title that reached much of an audience was Zinky Boys (get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk). (She has appeared two other times in English, but neither made much of an impression (and it's unlikely you'd come across copies easily): War's Unwomanly Face was published by Soviet publisher Progress Publishers -- and, widely forgotten, a UK edition, in a different translation, of Voices from Chernobyl came out back in 1999 (the book did not take off until Dalkey Archive Press got US rights and commissioned a new translation which was only published in 2005; see also Chad Post's account at Three Percent, Svetlana Alexievich for the Nobel !).)
       The second translation of Voices from Chernobyl won the National Book Critics Circle award for non-fiction, and her more recent works have been widely hailed and very well reviewed in Europe (where they have appeared in many languages -- the US/UK really lags here).
       So overall it's hard to find fault with the Swedish Academy's decision.

       What do I think ?
       Oh, dear. Longtime readers know that I am a fan of fiction, and not so much of non. I don't like memoirs, and I have an aversion to testimony-writing; the modern journalistic fashion for anecdotal and personal stories drvies me nuts (I want my news impersonal and factual (to whatever extent that's possible)). So I'm not the ideal audience for a 'creative' documentary-style writer like Alexievich; indeed, I'd rather not be an audience for it at all.
       That said, I can't really argue with the prize. I think she's worthy and deserving -- even that she's a good choice. But it's not writing that particularly interests me -- and I already dread the imitators that will follow Alexievich's writing path, emboldened by this validation of it. ('No, no ! Turn back !' I want to yell ....)

       One of the fun things about the Nobel is that it's often small publishers that get a bit of glory here. In the Irish Times Eileen Battersby writes about Nobel Prize for Literature: Courage defines Alexievich's work -- and here John O'Brien also talks about how Dalkey came to publish her.
       Meanwhile, small UK publisher Fitzcarraldo Editions did well in nabbing the rights to rights to Время секонд хэнд ('Second-hand time'; see also the literary agency publicity page), a book that suddenly has a much higher profile. (Translator Bela Shayevich has already written a piece for The Guardian explaining how Svetlana Alexievich builds individual voices into a mighty chorus.)

       Last year at a weblog at The New Yorker Philip Gourevitch had already tried to make the case that Nonfiction Deserves a Nobel, and now he gets to crow Nonfiction Wins a Nobel. Similarly, at Slate Katy Waldman cheers that Svetlana Alexievich's Nobel Prize Is a Huge Win for Nonfiction Writing.
       (Again: I can't really disagree -- indeed, I can see at least considering many more non-fiction writers (and note that, while none has gotten one in ages, the Swedish Academy used to consider far more authors who did not write fiction, poetry, or drama (which was also a result of many more such writers getting nominated -- remember, as always: only nominated writers are considered for the prize, and most nominators and nominating bodies nowadays are surely much more likely to suggest a writer of fiction (or poetry) rather than non-fiction)). The thing is: I prefer pure fiction.)

       All sorts of other articles and commentary have appeared, too, almost all of it very supportive -- from BelTA (Svetlana Alexievich: It is not my victory alone, but also a victory of our culture and the country Culture) to Jonathon Sturgeon arguing at Flavorwire Why Svetlana Alexievich's Nobel Prize Is Good for Literature.
       And there's also Peter Boxall at The Conversation arguing Svetlana Alexievich exposes the deep contradictions of the literature Nobel. Boxall suggests/claims:

Alexievich's work is difficult to categorise, and hence difficult to sell, and so nearly invisible
       This is both strange logic and false: Alexievich's first book reportedly sold millions in the Soviet Union, and she has done very well these past few years in much of Europe; it's only in the US/UK that she's been low-visibility -- in no small part because no publisher has been willing to take on more of her work and actually try publishing it.

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10. Catching up with Courtney McCarroll, Assistant Editor in Psychology

Every so often, we catch up with someone in our offices to learn more about life in publishing, from how editors cultivate a list to how each office's coffee brews compare. This week, we're concerned with matters of the mind and a member of our editorial team. Courtney McCarroll is an Assistant Editor in Psychology, and recently celebrated her one-year anniversary of working at Oxford University Press.

The post Catching up with Courtney McCarroll, Assistant Editor in Psychology appeared first on OUPblog.

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11. Storytime Magic Starts Before Birth

Picture this: a small, sunny room full of wriggling little babies, more than a dozen of them. A few are perched on laps, bouncing and babbling. Some are toddling, others are dancing, and there’s a daddy patiently rocking his wailing newborn.

And there she is at the center of it all, in one hand a colorful picture book opened to a page covered with romping animals, in the other hand a furry Brown Bear puppet.

“Brown Bear, Brown Bear, what do you see?” she asks. Her face is animated and her voice undulates excitedly as she looks around the room, making eye contact with as many big and little eyes as she can. “I seeee . . .” She turns the page with a flourish, her face filled with anticipation as parents lean forward and some kids pause perfectly still. “A Yellow Duck looking at me!”

A Yellow Duck puppet seamlessly appears, and she makes it do a funny dance while she deftly moves the book, held by Brown Bear, so that everyone in the room can see the pictures. A few parents cheer, some of the babies smile and squeal, one starts to cry because the Yellow Duck startled her, and a little guy bursts out in giggles and rolls on the floor in delight.

LibraryWhat is this joyful, whimsical, topsy-turvy place where babies and families can celebrate the enchantment of language in all its rhyming, rhythmic, and rollicking glory? It’s the local library, of course! And the magician at the center of all the fun is the magnificent, multitasking, multitalented children’s librarian.

There’s been a lot of excitement among children’s literacy enthusiasts this year since the most influential group of children’s doctors in the country, the American Academy of Pediatrics, made a public recommendation of great importance in June 2014. It’s no surprise that the pediatricians’ group gives guidance on such things as what to feed babies and how much sleep they need. The big news is that the AAP came out publicly to strongly recommend that parents read to their babies — right from the very beginning.

So reading to babies and children is right up there with feeding them fruits and veggies! This was a groundbreaking announcement for many parents and some literacy advocates, but no surprise to children’s librarians — they invented baby storytime! These experts have known for eons about the benefits of reading aloud to children, and have been working tirelessly to inspire families to begin their own literacy-centered routine right from babyhood.

Now two new studies have added even more support to this idea. The first, published in August in the AAP’s journal Pediatrics, looked closely at the brains of young children who were read to and those who were not. The children who had been exposed to regular storytime showed significantly greater brain development, which directly correlated with the amount of time each child was read to. Then, the August issue of Psychological Science reported a study showing that children who are read to regularly develop greater vocabulary and flexibility with language than those who are only spoken to. Apparently the exposure to unfamiliar words in the context of a story especially helps develops the language center in the child’s brain.

We applaud the AAP’s recommendation that families read to their babies as soon as they’re born, and we’d like to go one step further. An abundance of research over the last several years has found that babies already begin to develop the foundations of language during the last trimester of pregnancy — meaning that all the benefits of reading to a newborn can begin even before a baby is born.

Big SisStudies find that babies in the womb can hear and recognize speech patterns and rhythms, which develops the language center in the brain and begins to teach the modes and melodies of their primary language. What’s more, babies can actually remember a rhythmic poem or story they heard during the last trimester for up to four weeks after birth, and they show a clear preference for the rhythm and melody of a song or poem heard regularly from the womb.

They also show a preference for their mother’s voice over a stranger’s, and perhaps the most exciting finding for new parents is that newborns are measurably calmed by a familiar, rhythmic story read repeatedly before birth. In addition, taking time out for relaxing, reading, and snuggling with the baby before birth (just as after) produces oxytocin, the “feel-good hormone” that nature created to connect parents with their young, and this also has a positive effect on fetal growth and development.

There are so many reasons to begin bonding with and nurturing babies through reading even during pregnancy, and there’s great practical value as well: Reading aloud is a skill to be learned and practiced (just ask a librarian!).

While starting a storytime routine from birth is a lovely idea, the reality is that most parents have not actually read a book aloud in a very long time, if ever. With the best intentions they pick up that beautiful picture book given to them at the baby shower, but they might find that the unfamiliar text doesn’t roll off the tongue quite as expected, and reading aloud to their little one doesn’t come so naturally after all.

At the same time, new mothers and fathers may be overwhelmed by the responsibility of taking care of this new little being in their charge. They want to do everything right and will follow the AAP’s suggestions to the best of their ability, so now “read to baby” will probably be on many to-do lists. But as they juggle feeding times, a sleep schedule, diaper changing, and a multitude of other new jobs, “read to baby” might understandably be sacrificed.

If expectant parents begin storytime before the baby is born, it gives them lots of time to practice and get comfortable with reading aloud, and to choose books they love and are excited to share with that unseen listener. Because the research shows that babies in utero love verse that is repeated, parents can practice to their heart’s content, knowing their baby will only become more familiar with and responsive to the language of the poem or story.

BedtimeBy beginning a storytime routine before baby is born, moms and dads will grow to love this sacred time of day. Plus, experts say reading a story at bedtime helps babies both before and after birth wind down and get ready for sleep. So expectant parents can even use in utero storytime to condition their baby to get sleepy at bedtime!

Best of all, when their baby is born and hears the familiar story for the first time outside the womb, he really will listen. It might be the one thing that stops him from fussing! The parents will see for themselves that the time they spent reading before birth has borne the most magical fruit, and they’ll be all the more eager to continue that routine, for years to come.

And when it comes time to introduce baby to story hour at the local library, and that wonder-working children’s librarian realizes that these parents have already shared with their child the joy of getting lost in story, she’ll be thrilled to know she hasn’t cornered the market on read-aloud fun.

Who knows? Prenatal story hour might be a new addition to her calendar!

(Licensing for photos purchased by guest blogger from 123rf.com)



Photo credit: Betsy Boyle

Susan Lupone Stonis and Jacqueline Boyle are the co-author/illustrators of Can’t Wait to Show You: A Celebration for Mothers-to-Be, the first book specially designed to read to babies before and after birth, and winner of the Mom’s Choice Awards Gold Award. For lots more information and tips on reading aloud to babies in utero, please visit The Reading Womb blog.

Please note that as a guest post, the views expressed here do not represent the official position of ALA or ALSC.

If you’d like to write a guest post for the ALSC Blog, please contact Mary Voors, ALSC Blog manager, at alscblog@gmail.com.

The post Storytime Magic Starts Before Birth appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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12. Harvest

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13. 101 Movies To See Before You Grow Up, by Suzette Valle | Book Giveaway

Enter to win an autographed copy of 101 Movies To See Before You Grow Up: Be your own movie critic—the must-see movie list for kids (Walter Foster Jr, 2015), written by Suzette Valle. Giveaway begins October 9, 2015, at 12:01 A.M. PST and ends November 8, 2015, at 11:59 P.M. PST.

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14. Inktober 2015 - Day 8

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15. Starting my Residency: First Day!

Things have been very exciting but very, very busy lately. As well finishing off my Sketching People book and setting up the exhibition in Doncaster, I have also just started my residency with Manchester University's Morgan Centre for Research into Everyday Lives. My very first day was on October 1st.

I took the train to Manchester, armed with my new concertina book and my sketching kit. I had a long meeting with Professor Sue Heath to start off the day. She is Co-Director of the Morgan Centre and was the one who started it all off. We talked about all the different researchers I would be shadowing and the projects they were working on, as well as sorting out boring things like getting a 
security pass and a key to the office I can share. 

Then we both went out and did some sketching together to get the ball rolling!

Though a big part of my remit is to draw the research, I am also there to record a 'year in the life' of the centre - everything about the professors, the students, the university campus and what they all get up to.

It was such a glorious day, Sue and I were able to sit very comfortably outside, so I could start my sketchbook with a drawing of the Arthur Lewis building where the Morgan Centre is based. Then, after a lovely 'welcome' lunch, Sue left me to it and I went back and sat on the grass to get a couple more sketches of students:

Pottering around, looking for things to record, I was struck by lots of huge leaves that littered the grass outside the entrance to the Arthur Lewis building. I asked people what the tree was and nobody knew, but other people had noticed how unusual they were as well. 

I figured they were part of the life of the Morgan Centre too, and just had time to paint one before dashing for my train home:

The following day, I was based in Hebden Bridge instead of Manchester, working on the 'Living the Weather' project with Professor Jennifer Mason. She is interested in the myriad ways in which the weather impacts on our daily lives. I did loads of work, so I'll show you those sketches in a few days.

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16. Pick of the Week for INK and This Week’s Topic


Happy Illustration Friday!

Please enjoy the wonderful illustration above by Mickael “Patiño” Brana, our Pick of the Week for last week’s topic of PRIZE. Thanks to everyone who participated with drawings, paintings, sculptures, and more. We love seeing it all!

You can see a gallery of ALL the entries here.

And of course, you can now participate in this week’s topic:


Here’s how:

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Step 3: Come back to Illustration Friday and submit your illustration (see big “Submit your illustration” button on the homepage).

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17. I Will Always Write Back by Caitlin Alifirenka & Martin Ganda with Liz Welch

I Will Always Write Back: how one letter changed two lives by Caitlin Alifirenka & Martin Ganda with Liz Welch Little Brown. 2015 ISBN: 9780316241311 Grades 6-12 I borrowed this book from my local public library. When her English teacher announced a pen pal program, seventh grader Caitlin thought the crazy-sounding place of Zimbabwe sounded intriguing. I’d never heard of Zimbabwe.

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18. What I’m Doing at Kirkus This Week,Plus What I Did Last Week, Featuring Sir John Tenniel

” … but, when the Rabbit actually took a watch out of its waistcoat-pocket, and looked at it, and then hurried on, Alice started to her feet, for it flashed across her mind that she had never before seen a rabbit with either a waistcoat-pocket, or a watch to take out of it, and, burning with curiosity, she ran across the field after it, and was just in time to see it pop down a large rabbit-hole under the hedge.”


Today over at Kirkus, I write about Michael Rosen’s A Great Big Cuddle: Poems for the Very Young, illustrated by Chris Riddell (Candlewick, September 2015). That link will be here soon.

* * *

Last week, I wrote (here) about Macmillan’s The Complete Alice, celebrating 150 years of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Today I’ve got a small handful of illustrations from the book — the ones colored by Diz Wallis in 1995.



” … and tied round the neck of the bottle was a paper label,
with the words ‘DRINK ME’ beautifully printed on it in large letters.”


“Alice thought she had never seen
such a curious croquet-ground in her life …”


“‘I’d rather finish my tea,’ said the Hatter …”



* * * * * * *

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland: Illustrations copyright Macmillan 1995.

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19. Spotlight and Giveaway: Thunder on the Plains by Rosanne Bittner

Enter for your chance to win Thunder on the Plains by Rosanne Bittner!

Thunder on the Plains Excerpt

Sunny held her chin higher and faced him. “I’ll race you,” she told him.


She gave him a daring look, a new boldness in her eyes. “I said I’ll race you. If you catch me and manage to pull me off my horse, you’ve won!” She charged away, and Colt sat there a minute, wondering what she was up to. What was this sudden change in conversation? She was like a crazy woman today, and she had turned his feelings a thousand different ways.

Colt watched her, the way her bottom fit her saddle, the way her hair blew in the wind. Her daring look stirred his pride, and the race was on. He kicked Dancer into a hard run, manly desires stirring in him at the challenge of catching her. He held the reins with one hand and smashed out his cigarette against his saddle horn with the other, tossing the stub aside and leaning into the ride. “Get up there, Dancer,” he shouted to the horse.

Dancer’s mane flew up into Colt’s face as he galloped up and down more sandhills. He noticed Sunny veer to the west rather than north, and he turned Dancer, taking a cut between two more sandhills and emerging near Sunny as she came around the end of one hill. She screamed and laughed when she saw him, and now he knew he could catch her.

He came closer, the determination to reach her now a burning need. It went against all reason, was totally foreign to all sense of maturity. They were like children for the moment, and yet not children at all. The emotions it stirred in him to think of catching her were dangerous, yet he could not stop himself. He came ever closer, and now he was on her!

Sunny screamed when she felt his strong arm come around her. Suddenly, she was free of her horse and sitting sideways on Dancer, a powerful arm holding her. She covered her face and laughed as Colt slowed his horse. “Now you are my captive,” he teased.

She threw her head back and faced him, and both of them sobered. For a moment they sat there breathing heavily from the ride, watching each other.

“We had better go catch your horse,” he finally told her.

“We’ll find it later,” she answered. She moved her hands to touch his powerful arms, ran her fingers over his bare shoulders. “Tell me, Colt. What does an Indian do with his captive?”

For a moment everything went silent for him. Nothing existed but the utterly beautiful woman in his arms, her tempting mouth, her open blouse, her blue eyes, her golden hair. He moved a hand to rest against the flat of her belly. “He takes her to his tipi and makes her his slave,” he answered, his voice gruff with passion.

She touched his face. “That’s what I want you to do with me, Colt. Make me your slave—today, tonight, tomorrow.”

He shook his head. “Sunny—”

She touched his lips. “Don’t say it, Colt.” Her eyes glistened with tears. “I don’t know what’s right and wrong anymore, and today I don’t care. I just want you. I’ve always wanted you.” A tear slipped down her cheek. “It can’t be anybody else, Colt, not the first time. I—”

His kiss cut off her words, a deep, hot kiss that removed any remaining inhibitions. She could barely get her breath for the thrill of it, the ecstasy of his hand moving to her breast, the ache of womanly desires that surged in her when his tongue moved between her lips. Dancer moved slightly, and she clung to Colt. He left her lips for a moment, keeping one arm around her as he slid off the horse and pulled her after him.

Book Information

Title: Thunder on the Plains

Author: Rosanne Bittner

ISBN: 978-1492631200

Release Date: October 6, 2015

Imprint: Sourcebooks Casablanca


With more than 7 million books in print, RT Book Reviews Career Achievement Award–winning and USA Today Bestselling author Rosanne Bittner pens a historical Western romance filled with dangerous cowboys, capable heroines, and an epic love story that sweeps across the Old West.


Sunny Landers wants a big life—as big and free as the untamed land that stretches before her. Land she will help her father conquer to achieve his dream of a transcontinental railroad. She won’t let a cold, creaky wagon, murderous bandits or stampeding buffalo stand in her way. She wants it all—including Colt Travis.


Like the land of his birth, half–Cherokee Colt Travis is wild, hard, and dangerous. He is a drifter, a wilderness scout with no land and no prospects hired by the Landers family to guide their wagon train. He knows Sunny is out of his league and her father would never approve, but beneath the endless starlit sky, anything seems possible…

Buy Links

Amazon: http://amzn.to/1Vdn1cv

Barnes and Noble: http://bit.ly/1LAyKkz

iBooks: http://apple.co/1h0y3nP

Author Bio

USA Today bestseller and award-winning novelist Rosanne Bittner is known as the “Queen of Western Historical Romance” for her thrilling love stories and historical authenticity. Her epic romances span the West—and are often based on Rosanne’s personal visits to each setting. She lives in Coloma, Michigan, with her husband and two sons.

Social Media

Website: http://www.rosannebittner.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/RosanneBittnerAuthor

Twitter: https://twitter.com/rosannebittner

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/67759.Rosanne_Bittner

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20. (American) National Translation Award shortlists

       The American Literary Translators Association has announced the shortlists for the 2015 National Translation Awards in Poetry and Prose.
       Two of the shortlisted prose translations are under review at the complete review -- Running Through Beijing and Why I Killed My Best Friend -- and I've read two of the others (Erpenbck, Jansson). (And I've also read the Tolstoy -- but not in the nominated translation.)

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21. NEW SEASON - seasalt

For our Friday eye candy post today we have some brand new packaging designs from Cornish Company Seasalt. The label best known for fashion are gradually expanding with more and more homewares each season and launching very soon will be a new collection of home fragrances in pretty packaging. The prints are all designed in house by Sophie Chadwick and feature beautiful painterly flowers,

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22. The music next door

It was midnight and I had just slumped into bed, exhausted after one of my first days on-call as a new intern, and still adjusting to life in a new apartment. As my nagging reflections on the day were just beginning to subside, insistent knocking at my door jolted me back to alertness. Dragging myself out of bed to open the door, I was surprised to see a diminutive elderly lady who appeared quite perturbed.

The post The music next door appeared first on OUPblog.

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23. French prize not-so-longlists

       Several more French literary prizes have cut back their longlists in their second rounds this week: the prix Renaudot (see here) and the prix Médicis (see here).
       The big news here is that Boualem Sansal's 2084 didn't survive to this stage in either one's French-novel category.

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24. Adventures in china

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25. Friday Feature: Ghost For Sale by Sandra Cox

Warning: Contains ghosts and shopaholics

Caitlin King can’t believe that her shopaholic cousin actually bought two ghosts off of eBay. But she can’t ignore the truth when she starts seeing sexy Liam O’Reilly, who’s been dead for over a hundred years. He’s a fascinating specter, and the more time Caitlin spends with him, the closer they become—sending them both spiraling into a star-crossed tailspin. No matter how desperately they long for each other, there’s just no future with a guy who’s already stopped breathing.

As we reached the car, my breath went out in a whoosh. Arms and legs crossed, Liam leaned against the shiny Corvette. The street lamp limned his high sharp cheekbones and sparked the blue highlights in his hair. Plain black cotton trousers framed long legs. My heart tightened and my bones loosened. He was just so darn pretty, in a manly-man sort of way.

His stormy eyes shifted to me. He stared, unsmiling.

The ghost was still in a snit. Well fine, I was in a bit of a snit myself.

We drove home in silence. I glanced in the rearview mirror. Liam stared straight ahead, his arms crossed, pensive. At least he wasn’t white knuckling the side of the car. How strange this must seem to him.

I surfed the satellite radio till I found a channel that played old Irish ballads.

A beatific expression came over his face, making my breath catch. How could a man be so good-looking? Maybe it was a ghost thing. His expression changed to one of abject terror. “Watch out,” he shouted at the top of his lungs.

I turned the wheel sharply to the right, just missing a little old lady driving a bright red sports car. She laid on her horn and stuck her third digit out the window.

Liam stared, his gorgeous mouth open. I think a senior citizen giving me the finger shocked him worse than my driving.

Multi-published author Sandra Cox writes YA Fantasy, Paranormal and Historical Romance, and Metaphysical Nonfiction. She lives in sunny North Carolina with her husband, a brood of critters and an occasional foster cat. Although shopping is high on the list, her greatest pleasure is sitting on her screened in porch, listening to the birds, sipping coffee and enjoying a good book. She's a vegetarian and a Muay Thai enthusiast.



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