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1. Frances Dean Who Loved to Dance and Dance by Birgitta Sif

In her debut picture book, Oliver, Birgitta Sif explored the experience of an introvert with sensitivity and creativity that resulted in a memorable and worthwhile book. With Frances Dean Who Loved to Dance Sif visits similar, well worn terrain with the same fresh perspective that makes for another memorable picture book. Frances Dean loves to dance, but only when she is all alone.

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2. Would You Read It Wednesday #150 - Zoo Rules (PB) PLUS Straight From The Editor

There is never a dull moment around here.

First, I got a flat tire.  (It's possible this had something to do with the wood full of nails and screws that someone left directly in front of the garage... that I drove over as I hurried out to pick up my daughter from school and wondered, "Hmm... what was that?" Really, your guess is as good as mine... :))

Then the bear came and had a picnic out of our trash cans.  (If you haven't had much experience with bear picnics, I can tell you they are not at all tidy.  There is much clean-up involved...)

Then on Monday the house that's going in down the road from us had its foundation poured, so a parade of cement trucks thundered up and down the road all day.  Scout felt it her duty to bark at the passage of each one.  Both ways.  Jemma hid under the piano.  It was traumatic for everyone.

And now we are expecting rain in these parts so if anyone needs me I will be in my basement in the canoe.

I know!

Harrowing tales of this nature just don't come along every day!

I'm dreadfully sorry if my horror stories have left you in a weakened state, but never fear!  I have snacks!

Continuing with our get-ready-for-Halloween-theme, today's Something Chocolate is just the thing for when you want something sweet, salty, and candy-corny all at once.  (Because really, isn't that a combination you often find yourself wanting?  I know I frequently find myself thinking, "Hmm... I'm in the mood for something sweet, salty and candy-corny... what to have?"  Okay.  I admit it.  I have never thought that.  But there's always a first time :))  And they are pretty :)

Candy Corn Pretzel Hugs :)  Recipe HERE!
I think they might be easy enough for even me to make, so go ahead!  Give them a try!

Now that we have averted any danger of fainting, we have Straight From The Editor for September, which you will recall was won by Hope with her pitch for Cleo And Pinkie:

Whether it is marker stains on the carpet or mud trails in the hall, Cleo blames her mischievous, imaginary friend, Pinkie, for everything. “Pinkie did it!” Soon Mommy can’t take it anymore and declares, “No more Pinkie!” But without Pinkie, the house is too quiet until Cleo makes another mess, this time, to everyone’s delight.

Here's what editor Erin Molta had to say:

This sounds really cute. I made a small tweak because I think if you put the Pinkie did it in the beginning it’s more of a hook. The only thing that didn’t quite work for me was the very ambiguous ending—Cleo made a mess to everyone’s delight? You don’t want to make readers guess, you want to intrigue them, yet this is just confusing. It would be better to be more specific so they can get the joke. Then they would appreciate it more.

“Pinkie did it!” Whether it is marker stains on the carpet or mud trails in the hall, Cleo blames her mischievous, imaginary friend for everything. Soon Mommy can’t take it anymore and declares, “No more Pinkie!” But without Pinkie, the house is too quiet until Cleo makes another mess, this time, to everyone’s delight.

It's amazing what a difference a small change can make, isn't it?  As always, I find Erin's comments so helpful!

Let's move onto Would You Read It, shall we?  (Please, have another pretzel hug if you're feeling peckish!)

Today's pitch comes to us from Michelle, who you will remember from her July pitch for Escalators Don't Bite (WYRI #140).  She is a mom, a teacher, and a writer.  She blogs at http://amomnextdoor.wordpress.com/about/

Here is her pitch: (and she did mention that she's still looking for a title that really zings, so feel free to chime in if you've got any brilliant ideas!)

Working Title: Zoo Rules
Age/Genre: Picture Book (ages 4-8)
The Pitch: Miss Knaffle's second graders have a thing or two to learn about their teacher. They think they can get away with feeding coffee beans to the class hamster, or making farting houses during read aloud. Will a trip to the zoo set them straight? When the canny Miss Knaffle enlists zoo animals to her cause, readers will delight in seeing what happens to children who don't follow the zoo rules in this PB cross between Peggy Rathmann's GOODNIGHT, GORILLA, and William Bee's WHATEVER.

So what do you think?  Would You Read It?  YES, MAYBE or NO?

If your answer is YES, please feel free to tell us what you particularly liked and why the pitch piqued your interest.  If your answer is MAYBE or NO, please feel free to tell us what you think could be better in the spirit of helping Michelle improve her pitch.  Helpful examples of possible alternate wordings are welcome.  (However, I must ask that comments be constructive and respectful.  I reserve the right not to publish comments that are mean because that is not what this is about.)

Please send YOUR pitches for the coming weeks!  For rules and where to submit, click on this link Would You Read It or on the Would You Read It tab in the bar above.  There are openings in December so you've got a little time to polish up your pitches and send yours for your chance to be read by editor Erin Molta!

Michelle is looking forward to your thoughts on her pitch!  I am looking forward to (yes, I warned you last week I would probably say this again!) the Halloweensie Contest!  At least 4 people have mentioned here and/or on FB that they have written stories and I can't wait to read them!  I also can't wait until I think up my sample story, because time is running out and I'm getting just a teensy bit anxious about the fact that I haven't even started thinking about it.  Which is shocking, because usually I'm prepared months in advance.  Oh wait.  That's not me.  Okay.  Everything is right on schedule :)

Have a wonderful Wednesday everyone!!! :)


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3. Holly Black and the Twelfth Doctor

Holly Black has joined a stellar line-up of children’s authors (to name a few: Children’s Laureate Malorie Blackman, Patrick Ness, Eoin Colfer and Neil Gaiman) who have each crafted a short tale for every incarnation of the eponymous Time Lord.

When the original run of e-books ended in November of last year Matt Smith was the incumbent Doctor but now acting heavyweight Peter Capaldi has taken on the role it seems apt that he should be featured in a story.

Black’s story, Lights Out, is unique in many respects. She had the exciting but “super intimidating” task of penning an adventure for the Twelfth Doctor who, when she wrote it over the summer, had yet to appear on our screens. She was given scripts to aid her (“Some of it was blacked out for mysterious reasons!”) and relied on images but she seemed somewhat relieved to have been allowed to edit Lights Out after seeing Capaldi’s debut, Deep Breath back in August. “When I actually saw the episode [Deep Breath] I went back and made a lot of changes,” she tells me. “Because there’s just something so different about seeing Peter Capaldi owning the role onscreen.”

Read the rest here.  There is also a fun gallery of jackets for each doctor here. I’ve just ordered this as an audio book— I think it will be a lot of fun to listen to.


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4. Changing Table Poster Project

In the time after the Early Childhood Programs and Services Committee met during Midwinter in Philadelphia, I had a short conversation with then-ALSC President, Starr LaTronica. She mentioned she had an idea in the middle of the night to use the space above changing tables for early learning posters with early literacy tips and fingerplays. Posters such as these could help parents and caregivers stay engaged with their children during the diaper change, and could increase the amount of words children hear.

It was a great idea, and during a subsequent conversation, the committee agreed to put together some ideas that could be used for the project. We decided we’d like to use the Every Child Ready to Read practices of Talking, Singing, Reading, Writing, and Playing.

We continued working, coming up with some of our favorite fingerplays and creating the early literacy tips. Then, shortly before ALA’s Annual Conference began in Las Vegas, the White House released a video message from President Obama about an initiative to bridge the word gap—the 30-million-word disparity children from low-income families experience in vocabulary, which impacts learning and school readiness.

During the committee’s meeting at Annual, Joanna Ison, from the ALSC Office, mentioned that the ALSC Board would be looking at ways to commit to joining the President’s initiative to eliminate the 30 million word gap, and thought the changing table poster project could be a way to do that. We agreed.

We are currently putting our ideas together for the posters. We are working with the ALSC Office to find an illustrator. Eventually, we are hoping we will have a set of ten posters, two for each of the five practices, with perhaps more to come. The best part is that the ALSC Board has committed to make them freely available as a download.

Our hope is once the posters are available, libraries can put them wherever changing tables exist in their communities, not only in the library, but in restaurants, museums, and government buildings. We hope that, rather than purchasing posters, communities can put together a collaboration to have the posters printed and distributed, and get parents and caregivers talking with their young children to eliminate the word gap.

We welcome thoughts and ideas about this project, and have become aware that some libraries are doing this in their own buildings. If you have a sample, please share it in the comments below!

**********************************************************************

Matt McLain is the 2014-2015 chair of the Early Childhood Programs and Services Committee. He is the Manager of the South Jordan Library, a branch of Salt Lake County Library Services. If you would like to contact him, email mmclain@slcolibrary.org.

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5. NEW - art gallery fabrics pt.1

Art Gallery Fabrics will be at the Quilt Market in Houston this weekend (25th-27th Oct) launching lots of fabulous new design collections. Their previews have already gone online showcasing Art Gallery's releases between November 2014 and April 2015. If you are lucky enough to be attending the show look out for them in  Booth #1660. For those of us who cant attend here are some of my picks with

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6. Peter Sohn Named New Director of Pixar’s ‘The Good Dinosaur’

Yesterday evening, Pixar quietly revealed on Twitter that the new director of "The Good Dinosaur," scheduled to be released in November 2015, is Peter Sohn.

0 Comments on Peter Sohn Named New Director of Pixar’s ‘The Good Dinosaur’ as of 10/22/2014 4:53:00 AM
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7. Tyler Perry and Bento Box Produce Direct-to-Video ‘Madea’ Feature

Actor Tyler Perry, whose drag performances as an elderly African-American woman named Madea have resulted in explicable live-action success, has transferred his Madea act to animation with the dreadful-looking "Tyler Perry's Madea's Tough Love."

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8. A Whirlwind of Discovery: A Swiss Cheese Adventure | Book Giveaway

Enter to win an autographed paperback copy of A Whirlwind of Discovery: A Swiss Cheese Adventure, by Darleen Wohlfeil. Giveaway begins October 22, 2014, at 12:01 A.M. PST and ends November 24, 2014, at 11:59 P.M. PST.

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9. Teaching Writing in Middle School: Notes from the Saturday Reunion #TCRWP

By the time I arrived at Cornelius Minor’s TCRWP workshop, State-of-the-Art Workshop Teaching of Writing in Middle School, harnessing Methods Specifically Described in the New Units of Study, I had been up since… Continue reading

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10. Mastering Kid-Speak – Erika Wassall

erikaphoto-45Jersey Farm Scribe here on…

A Dialogue Tune-up: Mastering Kid-Speak

Dialogue is one of the most important pieces of any manuscript, and this often goes double for children’s works. Dialogue moves the story along, develops the connection between your readers and the characters and keeps things tangible and realistic.

That means that mastering Kid-Speak is unequivocally important.

There is a rhyme and rhythm to the way that kids communicate, where they pause to think, how they choose their words, the direction their stream of conscious takes them in. I’ve often wondered if there are linguists who study children specifically.  I bet we could learn a lot about the development of the brain and human instincts by looking at how and why kids pick their words.

As writers, if our characters don’t sound realistic, we’ve already lost the battle.  It’s something a child will instantly and instinctively pick up on.  The character will seem fake and they won’t bond with them.  Even in a plot-driven story, if the readers don’t connect with the characters, the story won’t resonate.

Here are a few things you can do to work on the dialogue in your stories: 

Eavesdrop!

Listening to children talk is one of my favorite things to do. This can be a bit trickier to do with older kids.  Teenagers aren’t big on you overhearing their devastatingly important and secret information.  But there’s a great trick to overcome that.  Stick two or more kids in the back of a car and drive around a while.  Even teenagers will fairly quickly forget that you can probably hear them and get swept up in the excitement of their chatter.  When hushed whispers are completely ignored, they often become full-volume conversations within a few minutes.

It’ll be a hit with the other adults in your life too! The fact that I’m quick to volunteer for anything kid and car-pool related is a much-appreciated running joke among my friends and family.

Listen to yourself:

Most writers understand the value of reading the dialogue sections of a manuscript out-loud. But you can take this even further.  Record yourself reading it.  Play it back.  Have someone else read it to you.  Have multiple someones read it to you.

Better yet, have an age-appropriate child read it to you. See how it sounds coming from them.  Does it sound natural?  Stale?  Funny?  Bland?  Vocabulary that encourages learning and reaching is excellent when carefully placed in children’s books.  But (unless it’s your character’s quirk) you want to keep the dialogue age-appropriate.

Hearing how the lines sound with the natural intonation of a child’s voice can be a simple and surprisingly effective way of polishing up the dialogue.

Give Everyone Their Own Unique Voice

If you ask five kids the same question, you will get five different responses, even if they all have the same general answer. You have a voice as a writer.  Be sure each of your characters has a voice of their own as well.

We all have our little verbal tics, especially kids. Some are simple speakers, short, two to three word sentences.  Some seem to look for any opportunity to use flowery, descriptive words.  They know different words based on who and what occupies the majority of their time.

A friend’s five year old used the word “bonemeal” when he was commenting on my conversation with his mother about my garden next year. Turns out, it’s basically a type of fertilizer in Minecraft.  I was amazed that he made the connection to a real-life garden, but it was just his natural Kid-Speak.

A great test for this is to pull out all the dialogue in your manuscript and see if you can tell who said what without even looking at the character name. 

It’s not an easy test. But for me, it’s given me great perspective on places I need to have the opportunity to personalize and develop that critical bond between my readers, and the characters they’re going to take the journey with.

Dialogue does so much in our manuscripts. It allows us to remove unnecessary words, breaks up long, difficult to read paragraphs, advances the story, gives us relatable realism and lets us see how a character thinks.  Take these opportunities to really let the uniqueness of your characters shine, and capture your readers.

Kid-Speak varies for different ages, backgrounds and situations, making it a versatile and powerful tool to make your story, and your character jump off the page and into the reader’s heart.

Your character’s personalities, and your manuscripts, are worth it.

Erika Wassall is a writer, a farmer and a liver of life. She is a member of SCBWI and a proud Mad Scientist, bringing science experiments right into children’s classrooms, and hearts. She has a small farm in New Jersey with sheep, chickens, pigs and vegetables. Check out her new website at www.TheJerseyFarmScribe.com where as a first generation farmer, she often takes the long way, learning the tricks of the trade on The Farm. On her website is also The Shop page with tips and a free Q/A from her husband’s mechanic shop, and The Writer page where she shares stories, experiences and characters from the heart. Follow her on Twitter at @NJFarmScribe. She’d love to hear from you!

Thank you Erika for another great post. I always enjoy them.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: Advice, article, How to, inspiration, Writing Tips Tagged: A Dialogue Tune Up, Erika Walssal, Guest Blogger Post, Mastering Kid-Speak

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11. Review: The Doctor’s Fake Fiancée by Victoria James

 

May Contain Spoilers

Review:

When Victoria James asked if I wanted to review her latest release, I had to think about it for all of about 2 seconds.  I have read and enjoyed the other Red River books, so I was eager to jump into The Doctor’s Fake Fiancée.  I’ll admit that I’m always nervous to accept requests from authors, because what if I don’t like their book?  I’m happy to report that once I started this one, I wasn’t concerned about that any longer.  While not every aspect of the story worked for me, most of it pushed all the right buttons.

Grace is a single mother struggling to raise her son without help from anyone.  Her mother, her only source of support, passed away, leaving her with no one to rely on.  Her ex walked out on her while she was pregnant, and even her father is a distant memory.  He walked out on her, too, when she was a young girl, leaving her mother to raise her by herself.  Grace has never had much, but she works hard and provides a loving home for her son. 

The story begins with a terrible car accident; both Grace and Christopher are trapped in her car, with the fiery wreck of a truck threatening to blow at any moment.  Thankfully, Dr.  Evan Manning comes to their rescue, saving both mother and son.  Evan and Christopher are injured during the ordeal, and Evan’s surgical career is over. 

A year later, Grace has managed to locate Evan.  She wants to thank him for saving her and Christopher.  Evan is filling in at the clinic in his hometown of Red River, and he’s hating every minute of it.  He longs for the fast-paced environment of the ER.  The slow pace of the clinic, and the nosy patients, are driving him batty.  He’s not much of a people person, and one of the things he missed least about his hometown is how everyone feels the need to know everyone else’s business.  He’s even so grumpy that the clinic’s long-term receptionist quits and walks out on him.

When Grace and Christopher appear, he’s less than pleased.  He doesn’t want to remember the accident that robbed him of his career.  But then he realizes that maybe their timing is perfect.  He needs a replacement receptionist, and Grace has worked in clinics previously.  He offers Grace a job, as well as a temporary gig – all she has to do is pretend to be his fiancée.  He’s applied for a job as the CEO of a chain of plastic surgery clinics.  It’s not the high pressure excitement of the O.R., but it should be challenging and keep him from losing his mind  to boredom.  To cement the position, he needs a wife.  Or a fiancée.   The company is very family oriented, and he wants all the leverage he can get, so Grace’s sudden appearance is timely.

This was probably the weakest plot point for me.  Grace is unemployed and has rent to pay and a young child to take care of, so I can see her being desperate enough to go along with Evan’s proposal.  He offers her a place to stay, offers to pay the rent on her Toronto apartment, and will even spring for a new wardrobe, because his fiancée is expected to look sophisticated and fashionable.  He’s a complete stranger, and yes, while he did save their lives a year ago, she doesn’t know him, and she can’t be sure that he’s trustworthy.  While I do love the fairy tale simplicity of this set up, I am just too suspicious accept him at face value this early in the game.

What I enjoyed most about The Doctor’s Fake Fiancée was Evan’s growth from a self-absorbed man who put his career before everything else in his life, into a man who learned the importance of family, friends, and roots.  Evan thought that all of the answers to his dissatisfaction with his life would be found in Toronto, as the CEO of Medcorp.  Nothing else mattered to him but snagging that job.  Not his brothers or their wives or their children, or the many people who tried to get him to open up to them and accept how important he was to the community.  For such a smart guy, it takes him an awfully long time to realize what really mattered, and that a big fat paycheck and a lifetime of shuffling around papers wasn’t it.  Evan’s life before he met Grace was so empty and devoid of emotion, it’s no wonder he had a hard time connecting with his own feelings.  They had gone dormant, and it took the shock of a loving woman and a rambunctious boy to jolt them back to wakefulness.

The Doctor’s Fake Fiancée is a sweet, feel good read.  I enjoyed the Red River series,  and the author has become a favorite on my reading list.  I’m looking forward to seeing what she comes up with next.

Grade: B

Review copy provided by author

From Amazon:

Their marriage bargain is just what the doctor ordered…

Former surgeon and self-professed life-long bachelor Evan Manning has one thing on his mind—to reclaim the career that a car accident stole from him. But when he’s forced to return to his hometown of Red River, Evan comes face-to-face with the gorgeous woman who’s haunted his dreams for the last year—the woman he rescued from the burning car that injured his hand. Now Evan needs her help. In a month, he’ll have the job opportunity of a lifetime…he just needs a wife to get it.

Artist Grace Matheson is down on her luck again…until she walks into Evan Manning’s office. When her sexy former hero hears that she needs work, he offers her a job and a home—if she’ll pretend she’s his fiancée. Grace knows she shouldn’t fall for him. Once the month is up, Evan will be back to his old life. But the more time they spend together, the more real their feelings become—and the more likely heartbreak is.

The post Review: The Doctor’s Fake Fiancée by Victoria James appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.

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12. Spotlight: Spy Fall by Diana Quincy

I have a spotlight for Diana Quincy’s Spy Fall, which looks like a fun read.  The heroine jumps out of airplanes.    She’s got to be nuts!

Blurb:

When a fiery French parachutist lands on a drunken Lord Cosmo Dunsmore, he surmises she’s an angel sent from above. But is she a spy after something far more sinister than his debauched soul?

A fearless parachutist is out of her depth …

 

Mari Lamarre is gaining fame for her daring aeronautic endeavors, but her riskiest adventure begins when she collides with the darkly charismatic son of the Marquess of Aldridge. If her mission succeeds, Cosmo’s father will be ruined.
A rakehell falls for a dangerous woman …

Surrendering to a fierce passion, the two embark on a torrid affair, even as Cosmo vows to protect his family at all costs. But in doing so, will he risk losing the captivating beauty who’s swept into his life and made off with his heart?

Author Bio:

Diana Quincy is an award-winning former television journalist who decided she’d rather make up stories where a happy ending is always guaranteed. Diana’s reporting background is probably the reason many of her books are inspired by true-life events.

Growing up as a foreign service brat, Diana visited many countries and is now settled in Virginia with her husband and two sons. When not bent over her laptop or trying to keep up with laundry, she enjoys reading, spending time with her family and dreams of traveling much more than her current schedule (and budget) allows.

Social Media Links:

Website|Twitter|Facebook|Goodreads|Pinterest

Website: http://www.dianaquincy.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Diana_Quincy

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

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/dianaquincy/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7045151.Diana_Quincy

Buy Link: Amazon Exclusive for the first six months

Click cover for product page

Excerpt:

They reached the hot air balloon, where a stable groom stood waiting to assist her. She stooped to untie one of the thick cables tethering the contraption to the ground.

“What I have in mind will give you great pleasure,” she said quietly.

His inky eyes went alert. “Is that so?”

“Release that cable, if you please,” she called to the groom.

He tipped his cap. “Yes, miss.” And proceeded to do just that.

Gesturing toward the other cable, she said to Cosmo. “Untie that, will you?”

“Whatever for?” He glanced at it before frowning back in her direction. “If you completely untether it, the balloon will fly away, as you well know.”

“Exactly.” She leapt into the wicker boat. “Allons. Let us go.”

“Go where? You want me to go up in that?” He took a step back. “I most certainly will not.”

She leaned over the edge of the gondola. “Pour le plaisir, remember?”

Shaking his head, he backed away. Switching to French so the groom wouldn’t understand, he said, “This is most assuredly not the sort of pleasure I meant.”

“You can show me what you do have in mind,” she said in the same language, as she bent over to retrieve and throw sand-filled ballasts out of the gondola.

“Come away from there and I gladly will.”

“I prefer that you come in here.” She offered him the most wickedly sensual smile in her feminine arsenal.

He blinked. Then swallowed. “Angel, you will be the death of me.”

“Perhaps just a little death.”

He narrowed his eyes at her. La petite mort was the French term for the peak of sensual pleasure. “Is that a naughty French reference? Or are you teasing me?”

She laughed aloud, exhilarated at the thought of soaring into the clouds with him. “You shall have to fly with me to find out.”

The post Spotlight: Spy Fall by Diana Quincy appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.

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13. Review – My Dad is a FIFO Dad by Jo Emery

My Dad is a FIFO Dad Written by Jo Emery Illustrated by Ann-Marie Finn Published by Dragon Tales Publishing Brand new and hot off the press, and already sold out on the first print-run is the popular, My Dad is a FIFO Dad! My Dad is a FIFO Dad was written by Queenslander, Jo Emery, […]

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14. NEW - art gallery fabrics pt. 2

Also new from Art Gallery Fabrics are two ranges from Bonnie Christine. Hello Bear, named after Bonnie's son and inspired by the wilderness will be released in January 2015. And (below) also from Bonnie Christine in April 2015 will come a gardening inspired range called Cultivate.  Below : In December 2014 Art Gallery will release Gossamer a dreamy floral

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15. The 9th Annual Carle Honors – 2014

Traditionally I tend to attend the Carle Honors secretly pregnant.  I’m not sure why this is but at least twice I have walked about, discretely refusing any and all alcoholic beverages.  One of those times I’d discovered the pregnancy mere hours before the event.

No hidden incipient heirs were on display this time around, and that suited me fine.  But what are The Carle Honors, precisely?  Well, they’re best described as an annual benefeit gala for The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art.  As their little program says, “At the heart of The Carle Honors is a constellation of awards celebrating those individuals whose creative vision and dedication are an inspiration to everyone who values picture books and their role in arts education.”  Each year they designate someone (or sometimes someones) an Artist, a Mentor, an Angel, and a Bridge.  This year those folks broke down into the following categories:

Artist – Jerry Pinkney

Mentor -Dr. Henrietta Mays Smith

Angel – Reach Out and Read (represented by Brian Gallagher & Dr. Perri Klass)

Bridge – Francoise Mouly

On this particular day I decided to lop off my hair right beforehand, thereby assuring that it fool people into thinking I have the ability to blow it out myself (note: I do not).  I have an odd tendency to cut off large chunks of my hair upon the onset of fall after having suffered through a hairy summer.  I have no idea why.  Masochism’s my current working theory.

The event was held at Guastavino’s a fancy little event space where the Honors have been held for the last few years.  It’s a nice area, with a little garden out front where you can change into your high heeled shoes and not look too tawdry doing so.  Inside the hunt begins for waiters bearing trays of tiny food.  You quickly denote your favorites and grab only those.

Every year the Carle has also hosts a big auction at the Honors to raise money.  And because Ms. Mouly was being honored there were at least two original New Yorker covers, including the one that ran after 9/11/01.

Walking through it was time to play my favorite game of If I Had Money, Which One Would I Buy?  In the end, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that my favorite art was by Erin Stead.  Shown here:

1 The 9th Annual Carle Honors   2014

Can you see what it is?  Probably not.  My phone camera isn’t exactly high quality.  In any case, these are various animals from the book A Sick Day for Amos McGee dressed up like other famous children’s literary characters.  The rhino in the Snowy Day costume was worth my attendance that night alone.

After copious schmoozing and devouring of tiny foods it was time to take our seats for the show itself.  And since we could choose any seat we wanted except those reserved, I plunked myself directly behind this:

2 The 9th Annual Carle Honors   2014

My motivations weren’t actually creepy.  It just happened to be the nearest to the podium I could get for my photos.  Honest!  Scout’s honor!

The festivities were to go on without the presence of Eric Carle himself, which may or may not have been a first.  I got to have my usual smile over the perfection of the universe that a man named Christopher Milne was the head of the Carle’s board.

3 The 9th Annual Carle Honors   2014

There was a brief presentation at the beginning highlighting some of the cool things the Carle does.  For example, they had an event where picture book artists did portraits of kids’ stuffed animals.  You cannot understand the wave of envy I experienced when I heard that.  My daughter entertains a rotating cast of roughly 20-30 stuffed animals.  To get an illustration of one of them would be absolutely delightful.  Well done whoever thought that one up!

4 The 9th Annual Carle Honors   2014

And then on to our hosts!  Once again it was MA locals Tony DiTerlizzi and Angela DiTerlizzi.  Tony got a big laugh when he began with, “I see Jerry Pinkney in the audience.  Good luck, Jerry!  I’m rooting for you tonight!”  They also proceeded to show off a slide show of various picture book mash-ups.  As you can (barely thanks to my camera) see, this is a rather seamless Eloise in the Hunger Games.

5 500x375 The 9th Annual Carle Honors   2014

In the program there was a little flyer that gave the complete listing of everyone in attendance.  Always nice to have proof of where I am at a given time.  I like a good alibi.  I also like how I was one of three alliterative BB names present that evening.

7 The 9th Annual Carle Honors   2014

The first presentation was made for “Mentor” Dr. Henrietta Mays Smith.  A former NYPL librarian (!!) Ms. Smith pretty much embodied everything I’d like to be by the time I reach her age.  Whip smart and sharp as a tack she gave a great and very short little acceptance speech.  I made a point to speak to her afterwards since I was fairly certain I was the only working public librarian there in attendance.  She was mighty gracious and we discussed the various branches I live near.

8 The 9th Annual Carle Honors   2014

9 The 9th Annual Carle Honors   2014

Next it was a woman I’d actually seen once before at a dinner at NYU.  Dr. Perri Klass should be flown out to every library in the nation to rally the troops.  They should clone her.  Make millions of her and distribute her worldwide because the good she has done with Reach Out and Read cannot be measured.  It was wonderful to hear her speak with Mr. Gallagher.

10 The 9th Annual Carle Honors   2014

Ms. Mouly was the next to be honored.  I got a shot of her with Spiegelman’s head near blocking my view:

11 The 9th Annual Carle Honors   2014

But this one’s nicer.  I was so taken with her talk that I didn’t write almost any of it down.  However there was one quote that stood out:

“With children you have to posit a future that is positive and bright.”

12 The 9th Annual Carle Honors   2014

Finally, it was time to honor Jerry Pinkney.  His talk was something else.  First off, he took time to discuss his own personal connection to the museum.  In the 1960s he was going to deliver art to a publisher.  As he waited in the lobby the art of N.C. Wyeth graced the walls.  That moment was pinpointed as the one that might have inspired Jerry to make art for kids.  And, as he pointed out, the same could happen for some child in the Carle Museum.

He then quoted his great-granddaughter at the end of his talk.  I was just stunned that he had one.  Seriously?  Well played, sir!

13 The 9th Annual Carle Honors   2014

Finally, Tony and Angela paid tribute to outgoing curator of the Carle, Nick Park.  Nick gave a little speech saying “It’s been like getting paid to go to recess.”  Aw.  No replacement has been found for him quite yet but we’re keeping our ears open for any developments.

14 The 9th Annual Carle Honors   2014

Oh!  I almost forgot.  Each year the Carle Honors give these lovely goody bags away.  And what book was in this year’s bag?  Amongst other none other than WILD THINGS: ACTS OF MISCHIEF IN CHILDREN’S LITERATURE!!  I was so pleased to hear it.

Many thanks to the Carle for allowing me to attend the soiree.  See you next year!

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16. Time Out While I Finish My Book


One of the most interesting bookshops ever: Centésima Página
on Avenida Central in Braga. That's me, there, wishing I
could read Portuguese, a beautiful but challenging language.

A delightful café bar called Copa. Again, in Braga, Portugal.

Hi, Friends,

I have not been posting because I've been working hard at finishing my book. Almost there, too. I have two more chapters that I'm determined to finish this week before we head home.

Next week I'll be posting again, and when I take writing breaks, I'll be visiting and reading your blogs, as so many of them inspire me. Meanwhile, I leave you with two pictures above from Braga, Portugal. Once we are home, I'll be writing more about that trip as well as bits and pieces about Galicia.

Hasta entonces . . .


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17. A TOTES Awesome Love Letter & Giveaway! {THE BURNING SKY/PERILOUS SEA}

From Becca & Andye  Dear Readers, Every once in awhile there is a story that touches our hearts more than others. There is a story that is so beautiful and exciting and moving and creative that we just can't let it go with a simple review or two. This is one of those stories. We couldn't just move on. We had to know more! So we did some digging. Sleuthing. I can't tell you how we came by

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18. The Body Electric: Review

Raise your hands if you enjoy any of the following: Conspiracy theories! Fighting the man! Technology in the future! Androids! What it means to be a human! …or embodied! …or an individual subject! Playing “catch that allusion” re: sci-fi as a genre! Because The Body Electric thinks about all of these things, and if these are things you are also interested in thinking about, you’re in for a good time, I promise. While I wasn’t totally in love with everything in this book (and I’ll get to that), the book does a lot of things right: it entertains many interesting questions, features solid world-building, and is written beautifully. And those aspects were enough to make my readerly experience a positive one. Here’s the premise: our heroine, Ella Shepherd, lives in postwar Malta in the new city of New Venice, the site of a new global government. Shortly after Ella discovers that she... Read more »

The post The Body Electric: Review appeared first on The Midnight Garden.

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19. Mi Familia Calaca/ My Skeleton Family



Review by Ariadna Sánchez
Día de los Muertos or Day of the Death is approaching. In preparation for this amazing festivity, reading Mi Familia Calaca/ My Skeleton Family by Cynthia Weill in collaboration with Oaxacan paper mache artisan Jesús Canseco Zárate is a great way to start the celebration.
Weill’s latest bilingual book gives a glance of the vast Mexican art. Anita is a young calacagirl, who introduces each member of her skeleton family.  With short and catching sentences in English and Spanish, each character reveals its beauty to the young readers. Each page shows a colorful encounter starting with Anita’s brother Miguel (el travieso/the brat), followed by her cute baby brother Juanito, then her stylish mother, next her handsome father, as well as her adorable grandparents, and last but not least her cat and dog. 
The astonishing art created by Canseco Zárate pops-out automatically like jack-in-the-box. The wonderful sculptures in paper mache are a pleasure for the senses.
Mi Familia Calaca/ My Skeleton Family is a must read for the season. Reading gives you wings. Visit your local library to check out more exciting stories.
For additional information about Cynthia Weill’s books and artisan Jesús Canseco Zárate’s calacas click on the following links:
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***

Latino/a Rising is the first collection of U.S. Latino/a science fiction, fantasy, and other speculative genres.


There is a growing movement of people who are interested in the incredible U.S. Latino/a writers and artists who have turned to science fiction, fantasy, and other speculative genres. Latino/a Rising: An Anthology of U.S. Latino/a Speculative Fictionwill introduce the public to the work of these writers and artists.

With the exception of Edward James Olmos’ Bladerunner and Battlestar Galactica, positive U.S. Latino/a characters have been largely absent from mainstream speculative fiction novels and films. Films such as Men in Black and Alien Nation, and shows such as X-Files, express the anxiety that the mainstream has concerning Latinos/as and recent immigrants.  Latino/a Rising will contest this trend, showing how Latino/a writers and artists are transforming the genres.

Please support this project  

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20. Did You Write a Book? Sell It Through Your Blog

How to Sell Books Through Blogs Guest Post by Kim Staflund In today's digital environment, selling books through blogs is viable and preferable for many authors. Here's more information on how to sell your published books through blogs. • Interest: You need an audience that has an interest in your book. A series of blogs can help to not just develop, but engage that audience. Let them know

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21. Whatever After: Cold as Ice

Whatever After booksWhatever After Book #6: Cold as Ice

The next book in the Whatever After series is almost here! Abby and Jonah are visiting another fairy tale . . . and this one’s freezing! When author Sarah Mlynowski meets her fans, they often suggest to her which fairy tale they want her to write about next. The #1 request she had been getting from readers was to put main characters Abby and Jonah in the story of “The Snow Queen.” Next month, the Snow Queen-themed Whatever After book will be available and here’s a sneak peek at the cover!Whatever After #6: Cold as Ice

What do you think? Pretty awesome, right!?!

If you’re not familiar with Whatever After, check out the website to play the dress-up game, watch the trailer, and read a few excerpts.

For all you Whatever After fans, Cold as Ice will be available on November 25th.

And look out for Whatever After #7: Beauty Queen, coming in May!

Happy reading!

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22. Drawing Blind with Philip C. Stead


“SEBASTIAN sat high on his roof—something he was never supposed to do.
‘There is nothing to see on my street,’ he thought. ‘Nothing to see at all.’”

(Click to enlarge)


 

Author-illustrator Phil Stead is visiting today to chat with me about his newest picture book, Sebastian and the Balloon, released by Neal Porter Books/Roaring Brook earlier this month.

This is the story of a young boy who sets out on an adventure with “all the things he would ever need” and charts a course for the skies — in a balloon he’s built from his grandmother’s afghans. Along the way, he meets a bear (a real one), who joins him in the balloon, yet it’s popped at the beak of a “very tall bird.” Turns out, though, they’ve landed on the house of three elderly sisters, who mend the balloon and help the boy, the bear, and the bird shoo away some pigeons on the other side of the mountain near where they live. The pigeons have gathered on the “most perfect roller coaster,” which together the crew fixes up for an exhilarating ride.

Phil chats with me below about how he made his art, letting nature take its course on your illustrations (and embracing humor error), and leafless trees needing company too. (P.S.: You can see a few other spreads from the book in this June 2014 7-Imp post.)

Jules: Hi there, Phil. Let’s talk about Sebastian, shall we?

So, first up: I want to ask about the art. I hope that’s not a boring way to start.

It almost looked to me like the cover was painted on wood. But I’m not an artist, and I often get these things wrong. I see on the official copyright page note that you used pastels, oil paints, and pressed charcoal. Am I right that this is the first time you’ve used charcoal, or am I dreaming that?

Phil: Hi, Jules!

You are not dreaming. This is the first time I’ve used charcoal.

I gave myself a tricky challenge in making the art for this book. I really wanted to use oil paint as the primary medium. I can get bright color using oils that I’ve always had trouble getting with gouache or acrylic. At the same time, though, I wanted elements of the book to be drawn with my natural hand. The trouble is that you can’t really draw on an oil painting. Oil paint is usually the end of the road. I was getting really frustrated trying to figure this problem out when this little accident happened in my sketchbook:


(Click to enlarge)


 

Now, this might be confusing, but I’ll try to explain as best I can. When an oil painting is mostly dry—tacky to the touch—you can press charcoal into the paint by using homemade carbon paper. I coat one side of a sheet of paper in charcoal, lay that paper on top of the oil painting, then draw with a pencil on the white side of the paper. The pressure of the pencil presses the charcoal permanently into the oil painting. There is one big pitfall to this approach. That is, you’re essentially drawing blind. You can’t see what you’ve made until you peel the carbon paper back off the oil painting. I can live with the kind of mistakes and flubs that come from this kind of uncertainty, though. In fact, I kind of like it. The only time drawing blind made me really tense was on exacting, mechanical images, like these ones of the roller coaster:


“And for the rest of the day and into the night they rode …”
(Click to enlarge)


 


“and rode …”
(Click to enlarge)


 

But on others, like these, I didn’t mind:

 


“And when night fell, Sebastian boarded the balloon he’d built from Grandma’s afghans and patchwork quilts. He charted a course. He checked the breeze. He cut the strings …”
(Click to enlarge)


 


(Click to enlarge)


 

By the way, what you’re seeing as a wood-like texture is actually pastel drawing that’s showing from underneath the oil painting. I probably should’ve documented the making of one of these images so I could show rather than tell, but unfortunately I didn’t think of it at the time. David Ezra Stein used a similar technique as this, though, in his book Because Amelia Smiled. He calls his technique “Stein-lining.” You can watch a video about it here:



 

If you substitute crayon for charcoal, you basically get “Stead-lining.”

Does that help?

Jules: Ooh, neat. Thanks for the explanation. Plus, I hadn’t seen that David Ezra Stein video. Chickens playing oboes. Bonus!

This explains a lot about the lines in this book. The first time I read it, I thought that your line was more relaxed than in other books. I like this relaxed, sketchy quality.

One thing I’m very curious about is the color palette. The colors here remind me of picture books of yore. Any particular reasoning behind the dominant colors chosen here? That is, the rust, the tealy-blue (I have spent about 30 minutes now trying to find the name for this color, but I have failed and “tealy-blue” is the best I can do), the yellow.

Also, one more technique-type question before I ask a few more about the story: How’d you pull off the “milky gray fog”?

Phil: I’ll start with the fog.


“The wind picked up and soon it was time to go—up and up and into a milky gray fog. ‘Can you see the end of my nose?’ asked the bear. But before Sebastian could answer there came a loud POP!
(Click to enlarge)


 

It’s actually so simple that I hate to admit it. Especially since I seem to get more questions about this spread than any other. All I did here was make an entire finished image in full color, wait for it to dry, and then paint over the entire thing with white oil paint. The white paint has been thinned with a quick-drying medium, making it translucent. This is one of the biggest images of the balloon in the book, and I’ll admit that I was sad (and scared) to paint right over it, obscuring a lot of the detail. But it had to be done!

As for the color in this book, I decided early on that I wanted to work in a very limited palette. There are only nine colors used in the book, with some variance due to human error. (Fun fact: Erin used only eight colors in A Sick Day for Amos McGee.)


“The nine color swatches I made as a guide for myself …”
(Click to enlarge)


 

Any time you limit color choices in a children’s book, I think it naturally calls to mind an era when color choices had to be limited in the days of yore. That said, I did not deliberately limit the colors in this book in order to make it look old-fashioned. I did it, rather, in order to introduce a set of rules into a universe that could’ve easily gone spiraling out of control. A lot of weird things happen in this book. Keeping the color palette so orderly was one way to make the world seem grounded and believable. The restricted palette adds a dead-pan element to what is, admittedly, an pretty insane story arc.

And then there’s one more thing about the color, something that I didn’t originally intend. Remember I mentioned human error? So, I used a quick-dry medium to speed up the drying times of my oil paints.


(Click to enlarge)


 

When using this medium, my paintings would dry in about 48 hours. Without the medium, their drying times would vary from 4-6 weeks, which is way too long when you have a deadline. I’d used dryers before but never in high quantity. Turns out, I was using so much that it accelerated the aging process of all my paintings. About two months after a painting was finished, it would start to yellow and age. It turned my light blues into the tealy color you described. It turned my whites to cream. All of the colors were affected in some way, and to make matters worse they were all aging at different rates. Of course, at first I panicked. But then at some point I started seeing the process as something natural, completely out of my control, and in a weird way, desirable. It was like letting a cheese or a wine age: You begin the process, but nature finishes it.


Book jacket
(Click to enlarge)

Jules: I was going to say that it sounds like making the art for this one was a roller-coaster ride when, OUCH, I realized the horrible pun I’d made.

Okay, just a question or two about story. I always worry about analyzing a book to death when maybe we should just sit back and enjoy it and the art, so okay, I’ll only ask one:

I love how the story begins with Sebastian having a bad case of ennui. I don’t mean depression, which is a serious thing for many people. But he’s got the humdrums somethin’ fierce and really needs an adventure. Maybe I was thinking about that a lot today [Ed. Note: This part of our conversation clearly took place on a Sunday], because Sundays always run the danger of being Ennui Days for me. (Maybe ’cause Monday looms? I dunno.)

So, you call it a “pretty insane story arc.” Once you knew Sebastian needed an adventure, how’d you reign yourself in? I assume you have Sebastian outtakes, parts of his adventure that were maybe cut?

Also, apropos to not-that, I love how the leafless tree ends up having company there at the end. Everyone is happy.

Phil: There have been two feelings that have dominated my psyche over the course of my life so far. And those two feelings are the two main themes in my books as well. They are:

  1. I wish we could all learn to be kind.
  2. I gotta get the heck outta here.

Number two is an amorphous sort of feeling that is part boredom, part dread, part dissatisfaction, part curiosity. This feeling has been with me every day of my life. And to me it’s the feeling that drives Sebastian throughout the story. Boredom-Dread-Dissatisfaction-Curiosity is, after all, the makeup of most kids that I know.

Weirdly enough, there were no deleted scenes in this book. Everything present in the first draft is present also in the final book. When I was writing I wasn’t thinking WHAT NEXT! Really, I wasn’t even trying to be over the top or intentionally strange. The story just went where it wanted to go, and I tried not to get in the way.

I love that you mention the leafless tree. Those three lines are my favorites that I’ve ever written:

And the pigeons flew off,
all the way to the leafless tree.
And the tree was glad to have company.

I didn’t realize it till long after they’d been written, but they sum up everything I hope to accomplish as an artist. I wish I could explain it better than that, but I don’t think I can. All of my books exist in those three lines somewhere.

Jules: Ah. I think we should fade out here …

Thanks, Phil, for visiting.

* * * * * * *

SEBASTIAN AND THE BALLOON. Copyright © 2014 by Philip C. Stead. Published by Neal Porter Books/Roaring Brook Press, New York. All images here reproduced by permission of Philip C. Stead.

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23. Ali A. Mazrui (1933-2014)

       I'm a bit late in reporting this -- he passed away on the 12th -- but Ali A. Mazrui has died; see, for example, Douglas Martin's obituary in The New York Times or Horace G. Campbell on The Humanism of Ali Mazrui at counterpunch.
       The only Mazrui book under review at the complete review is, predictably enough, his only work of fiction, the woefully under-appreciated (look for mention of it in the obits ...) The Trial of Christopher Okigbo. Flawed though it is, I would argue it's still a very significant/important novel, a major work of the 1970s. (And, yes, I am pretty proud that I already got to this in the much earlier days of the site, reviewing it back in 2001.)

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24. App of the Week: 2048

2048
Title: 2048
Cost: Free
Platform: iOS and Android

2048 may be 2 to the eleventh power, but it’s also the name of a game I have noticed a lot of people playing lately. It’s based on a paid game, Threes!, which has won numerous game design awards, but the story behind 2048 involves a teen game developer, Gabriele Cirulli who tackled the design as a weekend project then released the game as open-source so that anyone can use the code behind it to build their own versions. You can play through a browser as well.

screen568x568 (1)

This game really doesn’t support STEM — the applicability of math to success is minimal. Instead, you combine the same numbers to perform the additive operation. But the real challenge is in thinking ahead and positioning your number tiles. Moving one tiles moves ALL the tiles, and the number of moves available to you are finite.

screen568x568

It’s easy to see how 2048 builds adopts the gaming strategies in Threes!. There are many, many knock-off versions of these games around, and much digital ink has been spilled from both amateur and professional quarters discussing strategies. There are ads in the free version, too. But for free, 2048 is an easy way to give these sorts of games a go. As Wired categorized them, these are games that are “Hard Enough to Be Played Forever.”

Have a suggestion for an App of the Week? Let us know. And check out more YALSA Apps of the Week in our archive.

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25. Chinese reforms

       I mentioned Chinese president Xi Jinping's recent address on cultural production in China and, regrettably, it already seems to be having some effect. In the South China Morning Post Nectar Gan reports that the Ministry of Culture thinks it's now a good idea for Art and literature awards to evaluate 'social benefit' of works, as Zhu Di, head of the art department of the ministry:

said Xi's comments on arts and literature -- that works should place social benefits first, should not bow to commercial demands and should be evaluated by the public -- will become "important principals for the ministry's award evaluation system reform in the future".
       Oh, great .....
       Better yet:
The central propaganda department of the Communist Party is taking the lead in reforming guidelines, Zhu said.
       But I have to admit I'm curious how this will work out, since China has a vibrant -- and huge -- writing scene that isn't going to pay any attention to this kind of nonsense.

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