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<<August 2015>>
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1. Crashing the Boy’s Club: Women Speak Out About Gender Inequality in Animation

Women don't receive the same opportunities as men do in animation, and they're finally speaking out about it.

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2. Book Review 2015-002: Benchere in Wonderland by Steven Gillis

Gillis - BenchereBook Review 2015-002

Benchere in Wonderland by Steven Gillis

Copy via MS Word from Steve (wherein I disclose that I obviously know Steve)


This is the fifth novel of Steve's that I've read and the seventh book overall. It's the best of his that I've read, which is saying quite a bit, especially after the last trio of Temporary People, The Consequence of Skating, and The Law of Strings.

Benchere in Wonderland seems to "simply" ask What is Art? and What is Art's role in the world? I think it goes beyond that though and pushes the reader to think about what it means to be human--what it means to think, to act, to love, to grieve, to admire.

The Benchere in question is Michael Benchere--world renowned architect, and sculpture. I don't want to spoil anything for any readers of this wonderful novel and will simply say that Benchere ends up deciding to build a huge sculpture in the Kalahari Desert in Africa and while he simply wants/hopes to do it for the sake of the sculpture, it turns into much more--a media event, a place for people to converge, to make their own comments about art and about politics and love and ...

And Gillis has infused this novel with plenty of humor and entertainment. It's a novel that will entertain you greatly while causing you to think.

5 stars

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3. An Irish Pub

An Irish pub, a Guinness pint
And music playing - live!
There aren't many better ways
For spirits to revive.

The barkeep may be half your age
But conversation flows
And perfect strangers share their thoughts - 
That's just the way it goes.

An Irish pub's the same no matter
Where you wander in.
There's Guinness and a friendly vibe
And laughs above the din.

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4. President's Report - July & August 2015

Happy End of Summer and Back-to-School!

I’m so excited to be sharing my first YALSA President’s Report!

It’s been a whirlwind since ALA Annual, and here’s what I’ve been working on since then:

Done & Done!

  • Appointments to Edwards, Printz & Nonfiction Committees
  • Assigning Board liaisons to Strategic, Selection & Award Committees
  • Assign Board Members to Standing Board Committees
  • Column for Fall 2015 issue of YALS
  • Virtual training for New YALSA Board members
  • YALSA blog post on Presidential Initiative: 3-2-1 Impact! Inclusive & Impactful Teen Services
  • Worked with YALSA Board to appoint Renee McGrath to fill Krista McKenzie’s vacancy on the YALSA Board
  • Had first call with the Whole Mind Group, who YALSA is working with on Strategic Planning
  • With Chris Shoemaker, hosted first monthly chat with the YALSA Board, where we discussed YALSA’s Standing Board Committees
  • Interviewed candidates for Member Managers for the Hub blog and Teen Programming HQ; appointed Molly Wetta as new Hub Member Manager and Jessi Snow as new Teen Programming HQ Member Manager

Works in Progress

  • Filling Strategic Committee vacancies
  • Filling Rachel McDonald’s Board vacancy
  • Appointing YALSA representatives to ALA groups
  • Strategic Planning
  • Preparing for YALSA’s YA Services Symposium & Fall Executive Committee meetings
  • Seeking content experts for Teen Programming HQ
  • Seeking out partnerships with ALA ethnic caucuses, ALA LGBT Round Table, ASCLA, Wattpad, National Writing Project, Connected Learning Alliance, DeviantArt and more

Media & Outreach

Stats & Data

  • Friends of YALSA raised $1,155 in June 2015
  • Friends of YALSA raised $436 in July 2015
  • Membership: 5,113 (down -0.3% over this time last year)

Important Deadlines

  • Oct. 1 - Deadline to submit a volunteer form to be on YALSA's upcoming award, selection and strategic committees! More information here

Last, but certainly not least -


  • All of our members for all that you do to support teens and teen library services in your communities, every day!
  • Chris Shoemaker, YALSA’s immediate Past President, for passing the torch and mentoring current President-Elect Sarah Hill
  • YALSA’s ALA Annual 2015 Local Arrangements Committee, for a terrific job coordinating travel tips & info and local YALSA events in San Francisco
  • YALSA Board, for your hard work, leadership and enthusiasm - I know it's going to be a great year!
  • YALSA Staff, especially Beth Yoke, Letitia Smith & Nichole O'Connor, for your assistance and support with association logistics

Until next time!

Respectfully submitted,

Candice Mack, YALSA President


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5. Best Picture Books for the New School Year!

Oh my goodness, if teachers haven't spent enough already on glue sticks and bulletin board border and what-not...but one of the great pleasures of the plundering of the pedagogue's paycheck is the building of one's own special classroom collection.  Here are a baker's half-dozen of primary picture book titles that I would hazard to suggest are must-haves of the season.  Treat yourself, or if you're a parent, treat a teacher!

Mouse's First Night at Moonlight School by Simon Puttock, illustrated by Ali Pye (Nosy Crow).  Any child will relate to the feeling of shyness on the first day in a new classroom. But don't worry...Miss Moon will help the little mouse find friends, and any child who hears this story will be reassured that his or her classroom teacher will do the same! The nocturnal school setting suggests a certain autumnal spookiness that matches well with the timidity of our hero, and the witchy teacher is simply charming.  I can't wait to share it with primary students during our first week together!

There Was an Old Dragon Who Swallowed a Knight by Penny Parker Klostermann, illustrated by Ben Mantle (Random House)  I know, I know, another "there was an old woman" formulaic cumulative tale chestnut, but really, this one is very good.  Exciting, bold and funny illustrations and clever rhymes combine with the appealing Medieval setting to make this a favorite read-aloud.

Troll and the Oliver by Adam Stower (Templar Books)  Every day around lunchtime, Troll tries to eat the Oliver, but to no avail.  With the catchiest refrain since The Gingerbread Man and a great surprise ending, this book is sure to inspire predictions, choral speaking and a lot of laughs.

The Grasshopper and the Ants by Jerry Pinkney (Little, Brown)  Can't have too many classics, and the beauty of this version of this Aesop's fable by a multiple Caldecott-winning watercolor artist will make you gasp aloud.  You should get it just as a present to yourself, though it's bound to prove as useful and cheerful as a song in the long, cold winter months.

Rufus the Writer by Elizabeth Bram, illustrated by Chuck Groenink (Tundra Books)  A story stand instead of a lemonade stand?  What an inspired idea!  Read how Rufus satisfies his customers, gets paid in an alternative economy and set up your own Story Stand in a writing center.

Use Your Imagination by Nicola O'Byrne (Nosy Crow)  Speaking of story, a rabbit who happens to be a librarian helps a hungry wolf create a narrative with an ending that keeps him from being the end.  Meta marvelousness with discussion of action and setting.

Fowl Play by Travis Nichols (Chronicle)  One of the trickiest parts of learning a new language is learning the idiomatic expressions, and this book is chock full of them, in the context of discovering who broke Mr. Hound's store window.  Mystery of helping ESL students solved!

Also check out:

The Whisper by Pamela Zagarenski (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt); I Will Never Get a Star on Mrs. Benson's Blackboard by Jennifer K. Mann (Candlewick); Daisy Saves the Day by Shirley Hughes (Candlewick); Snow White and the 77 Dwarfs by Raphael Barbanegre (Tundra Books); The Little Gardener by Emily Hughes (Flying Eye Books).

And where is all the nonfiction, you may ask?  Stay tuned for best books for the new school year part II!  In the meantime, please share your favorites in the comments below.

Links for informational purposes.  Please support your local independent bookseller!  

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6. Little Vet

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7. The Appearance of Annie Van Sinderen by Katherine Howe // Take it or Leave it

Review by Jackie The Appearance of Annie Van Sinderen by Katherine Howe Age Range: 12 and up Grade Level: 7 and upHardcover: 400 pagesPublisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers (September 15, 2015)Goodreads | Amazon It’s July in New York City, and aspiring filmmaker Wes Auckerman has just arrived to start his summer term at NYU. While shooting a séance at a psychic’s in the East

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8. A Girl Named Disaster

A Girl Named Disaster. Nancy Farmer. 1996. Scholastic. 320 pages. [Source: Review copy]

I read A Girl Named Disaster and Shabanu: Daughter of the Wind the same week. That fact definitely influenced my thoughts on both books--fair or not. Reading is subjective, after all.

Did I enjoy reading A Girl Named Disaster? Yes and no. I didn't exactly "enjoy" it. I found it a bit slow at the beginning, and, a bit rushed at the end. There were times I definitely found it interesting, but, I never really found myself loving it.

Nancy Farmer's A Girl Named Disaster is set in Mozambique and Zimbabwe in the early 1980s. Nhamo has an interesting relationship to the rest of the family. She dearly, dearly loves her grandmother (Ambuya), and is in return beloved of her grandmother. (She is in fact probably the favorite granddaughter.) But the rest of her family is a different story. They seem to blame Nhamo for the circumstances of her birth. Her mother returned home from school (high school??? college???) pregnant and married to a "useless" man, a man named Proud. Neither is in her life when the novel opens. Her mother died when Nhamo was a toddler--eaten by a leopard. Her father had disappeared even before that. Nhamo is, without a doubt, a hard worker. Yes, she is slightly bitter that her tasks are more difficult and time-consuming than her slightly-older cousin's--Masvita. But she isn't hate-filled and overflowing with attitude either.

Like Shabanu, A Girl Named Disaster introduces readers to a culture where marriage happens VERY early in life for girls--twelve to fourteen, and where a woman's worth is very much tied to her ability to produce children, particularly sons. Like Shabanu, A Girl Named Disaster features a heroine who is to be sacrificed via marriage. Like Shabanu, this marriage is MOST, MOST unwelcome. Dare I say this would-be marriage sounds even more unpleasant than the one in Shabanu--and I never thought I'd say that. Like Shabanu, the heroine makes the only choice she can under the circumstances....

Nhamo runs away from home in an attempt to make it across the border to Zimbabwe. Once there, she'll pretend to be Catholic--her mother attended a Catholic school--and seek refuge with nuns. Is she actually Catholic? No. Of course not. Her ideas of who Jesus is are far from sound, to say the least. But that is not exactly the point of A Girl Named Disaster.

Her journey to Zimbabwe is....much longer than she imagined it ever could be. It is not a journey of a few days or even a few weeks. MONTHS go by with Nhamo still struggling to reach her destination. It is her fight for SURVIVAL. It is definitely nature versus Nhamo...with Nhamo receiving a bit of help from the spiritual world.

Will Nhamo's life be better--easier--in Zimbabwe? Will she find her father? Will she find her father's family? Will she find welcome with them? What will happen to her if she doesn't find them? What will become of her? What are her chances of a decent life, a good life???

A Girl Named Disaster is slightly less depressing than Shabanu. That's not fair. It's not. The ending sees Nhamo with a bit of hope and a chance at a future.

Still neither book "feels" like a children's book. And when I do think of Newbery or Newbery Honor, I tend to think CHILDREN'S BOOK more than anything else. Arranged marriages, child-adult marriages, don't really come to mind. Still exposure to diverse titles can be a good thing. And both books offer readers something to think about.

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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9. The Value of ALA Annual: Reflections from a First Time Attendee

This summer my husband and I packed up, threw a couple of dogs in our car, and moved from Texas to Massachusetts. I had resigned from my amazing job as an elementary librarian in Coppell, TX and accepted the Media Specialist position at Shrewsbury High School (just outside of Worchester, MA).   Our summer was spent looking for houses, attempting to understand the foreign language that is real estate, and playing Tetris with all of our belongings.   On the bright side, between packing, driving, and across country flights, I have finished a record number of audio books.

In the middle of all this, I flew to San Francisco for my first ALA Annual conference. I fortunately received a Penguin Young Readers Award, an award that is given to support 4 members of ALSC who have fewer than 5 years experience in the library to attend their first ALA Annual.  This experience may not have been a moment of calm amidst my chaotic summer, but it was a reinvigorating weekend that went beyond my expectations.

Conference attendance provides the important opportunity to increase your involvement in ALSC and ALA as well as network with colleagues. This is the core justification for my continued participation at ALA conferences. I am a member of the ALSC Membership Committee, and as a part of my commitment to this committee, I helped to organize the ALSC 101 event. I have had the opportunity to learn more about the division through the committee, but ALSC 101 helped to provide a greater understanding of opportunities for involvement within ALSC.

Each opportunity to work on a committee or volunteer in any way helps ALSC support library services to children. We are a passionate group of individuals and our voices carry weight within the world of libraries, children’s literature, and education. Take the opportunity to become involved.

Our community is a powerful resource for any librarian. I was able to speak with many others who work with children and teens in the library. There were also a number of sessions I attended about school libraries, STEM programming, and diversity.  This conference allowed me to take advantage of the wealth of experience from other conference attendees as I bring a stack of new ideas and perspectives to my library.

As I write this, I am one week away from my first day at a new school, with high schoolers for the first time, and across the country from everything I know. The conference was not a reprieve from my chaotic summer. In the span of 4 days, I attended my first Newbery/Caldecott/Wilder Banquet, explored San Fransisco, watched an incredible city wide Pride celebration, met a number of phenomenal authors, snagged a few amazing ARCs for review, and hung out with some the coolest librarians I know. It was busy, it was crazy, it was fun, but most importantly it was transformative. My first ALA Annual gave me the confidence to take on my new role and the knowledge that there is a large community within ALSC and ALA to support my library, my students, and me.


EmilyEmily Bredberg works as a High School Media Specialist in Shrewsbury, MA. She has spent the few remaining weeks of her summer reading and hiking through some of New England’s beautiful forests. You can follow her on Twitter and Instagram, @BredbergReads.

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 The Value of ALA Annual: Reflections from a First Time Attendee appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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10. Talking to Ruta Sepetys (and you) about Salt to the Sea

I have not vlogged for years. I'd forgotten how. Also, the technology has changed. Plus, I'm old and weary. Please forgive all of that.

Because the only thing that matters is that I've just read the third novel by Ruta Sepetys, Salt to the Sea, a powerful historical novel about refugees, friendship, and a terrifying trek toward the world's greatest maritime disaster.

My thoughts are here.

Congratulations, Ruta Sepetys. 

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11. Monday Mishmash: 8/31/15

Happy Monday! Monday Mishmash is a weekly meme dedicated to sharing what's on your mind. Feel free to grab the button and post your own Mishmash.

Here's what's on my mind today:
  1. First Day of School  My daughter went back to school today. :( I miss her already.
  2. Editing  It's probably no shock that my plate is full with edits this week.
  3. Recovering From Knee Injury  In case you didn't see my posts on FB and Twitter last week, I fell on the treadmill and now both knees look like I'm trying to audition for The Walking Dead—as a zombie of course. They're healing now, but ouch!
  4. Our Little Secret  I'm SO excited for this release on September 15. Like SO excited. I love this book, and it's gorgeous thanks to the amazing team at Limitless Publishing. I have a lot planned for the month of September to celebrate, so stay tuned.
  5. Writer Wednesday Topics  My posts from the other side of the submissions desk seem to be popular, so I thought I'd ask you if there's anything you'd like me to talk about in my Wednesday posts. What do you want to know about as far as submitting to editors?
That's it for me. What's on your mind today?

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12. Are You A BIG Comic Toys Fan? Lifesize Artstatues from Geraplica Sculptoys

 If you are then take a look at these!

When I saw these images I thought it w3as that old modeller's trick of posing a figure at the right angle and distance.  Boy, was I wrong!

Here is what Toysrevil http://toysrevil.blogspot.co.uk/2014/01/lifesize-artstatues-from-geraplica.html writes:

"Lifesize Artstatues - in fiberglass - for sale at php 12,000 from artist sculptor Gerald Asilo of Geraplica Sculptoys - ASILO's sculpture for a "January Promo" price. Batman is a sure bet, Wonder Woman is a shoo-in, while I am on personally the fence with Superman LOL
"Buy this statues for 10,000 each plus 2,000 for delivery charge in a total of 12,000 pesos only , you can now save 6,000 pesos. Original price php18,000, now on sale for php 12,000" 
Contact them via their Facebook or email direct to g_asilo@yahoo.com

According to Gerald on his Linkedin page:

"In the 1990s my father was a sculptor for the Japanese company Craftwood. The company asked him to sculpt their own design like life-size Disney characters, Loony Toons, etc.  That was 1996 and I was only 12 years of age at that time. I was also practising how to sculpt because it's in the blood to sculpt.   Here I am now, following my father's legacy and sculpting my own designs and also what any client requires."

I just have to say that these are freaking incredible!  Now some of those "comic book cafes" need things like this!  Imagine inviting a friend into your apartment and finding The Avengers or JLA standing there -or maybe even a Swamp Thing or Man-Thing to go in your garden!

Man, if I ever get rich!!!

More images at the Face Book page!


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13. Girls: Beyond Eyelashes and Bows

Not too long ago The Guardian had a piece out called Picture books that draw the line against pink stereotypes of girls.  I was keen on it, particularly since in the midst of all these children’s books about breaking down stereotypes, I’ve seen awfully few “tomboy” titles.  Books about girls who won’t wear dresses or care two bits about makeup and pink sparkles.  They exist, but they’re not often commented on, so I liked the piece.

In the midst of all its books mentioned, I was particularly intrigued by a Yasmeen Ismail title that I’d not seen before.  Called I’m A Girl!, it was described as, “a challenge to every instant playground assumption that a blue-clad, rambunctious speed demon must be a boy.”  It looks awfully neat, and it got me to thinking about a little commented upon children’s book character: The female who doesn’t sport eyelashes, bows, or pink.  In other words, books where girls are just as sordid and snarling or wild and wacky as their male counterparts.  An ode to my four favorites:

Sasspants from Guinea PIG, Pet Shop Private Eye


She made her debut just before the current wave of children’s graphic novel love sweeping our fair nation.  She was a guinea pig, dour and more interested in reading than interacting socially.  She solved crimes.  Her name was Sasspants.  Honestly, is there anything else that need be said?  Her series was fantastic, but might have been hampered by the fact that sizewise it looked like a picture book.  Still, you can’t help but adore any series where the fish make obscure MRS. FRISBY AND THE RATS OF NIMH jokes.

Bad Kitty by Nick Bruel


There are many reasons to love Bad Kitty.  She has more chutzpah than Garfield, more charm than Heathcliff, and more of an appetite than Grumpy Cat.  She uses the word “Feh” with flair and I would argue that she is a feminist icon since her driven self-interest makes her a wonderfully flawed character.  At no point does she fall in love or bat her eyelashes or do anything but act like a very inwardly focused cat.

Piggie from the Elephant and Piggie series


Honestly, it wasn’t until Mo wrote I Am Invited to a Party that I realized that Piggie was a girl at all.  When it comes to animal characters, so many illustrators think it necessary to deck their girls out in bows and eyelashes and the like.  Mo figured out that if you say a character’s a girl then by golly it’s gonna be a girl.  And though at first you might worry that she’s the manic pixie dream pig to Gerald the elephant’s Eeyore-like persona, we know that at times she is just as prone to dour thoughts as her pachyderm pal.

Bink from Bink and Gollie


Of all the characters I’ve mentioned today, it is Bink that throws my four-year-old for a loop.  She refers to Bink as “he” constantly, though I point out repeatedly that Bink wears a skirt (unlike, say, any of the girls previously mentioned).  The skirt may throw her out of contention, but clearly it doesn’t register with her readership, so I’m keep her on this list.  Truth be told, Bink may also be my favorite gal here.  She has only three books but one can hope that the Bink & Gollie train has not entirely left the station.  Three is a perfect little number, sure . . . but four?  Four would be superb.  Four then, please!

Feel free to mention your own lovely ladies that don’t rely on frills and furbelows.


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14. organic shopping

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15. Chetan Bhagat Q & A

       The Times of India gets a number of writers to play along in its 'Write India' initiative, soliciting reader-questions for them; this month they offer Chetan Bhagat's responses to fifteen reader-questions

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16. Our Week in Books: August 23-30

Books We Read This Week - Here in the Bonny Glen


Sophie's Squash by Pat Zietlow Miller & Anne WilsdorfSophie’s Squash by  Pat Zietlow Miller & Anne Wilsdorf. Read to: my boys.

If you only pick up one new picture book for fall, let this be it. Here’s what I wrote in a Picture Book Spotlight post last year:

We first read this absolute gem of a picture book last year during the CYBILs. Fell so utterly in love with it—the lot of us—that a library copy wouldn’t do; we had to have our own. Huck and Rilla were overjoyed when I pulled it out this morning. Sophie’s instant bond with a butternut squash is utterly believable, and not just because Huck formed a similar attachment once upon a time, long before we encountered this book! “Bernice” becomes Sophie’s best friend and closest confidant, all through a bright and beautiful autumn. But as winter approaches, Bernice begins to get a bit squishy about the edges. Sophie’s parents make gentle attempts to convince Sophie it’s time to let her friend go, but since their suggestions involve treating the squash like, you know, a squash, Sophie’s having none of it. Her own solution is sweet and heartwarming, and it makes my kids sigh that contented sigh that means everything has come out exactly right.


How to Read a Story by Kate MessnerHow to Read a Story by Kate Messner, illustrated by Mark Siegel. Read to: my boys.

Well, I was sure I had posted a video of Huck reading this book last March. He was enchanted by the story from the first—a little step-by-step guide to enjoying a book with your best reading buddy, charmingly illustrated—and one day I caught him reading it out loud to himself, putting in all the voices. ::melt:


(In case the video won’t play for you, here’s a Youtube link.)


Charlie Parker Played Be Bop by Chris RaschkaCharlie Parker Played Be Bop by Chris Raschka. Read to: my boys.

One of our longtime family favorites. The rhythm and whimsy of the text has captivated each of our small fry in turn. And the art is bold and funny and altogether wonderful.


Don't Know Much About History by Kenneth C. DavisDon’t Know Much About History by Kenneth C. Davis. Read to: the teens.

Another of the texts Beanie, Rose, and I are using for our 20th-century history studies. We continue to enjoy reading history texts aloud together, which allows us all to stay on the same page (literally) and—even more important—fosters discussion and fruitful rabbit trailing. We try to reserve two 45-minute blocks a week for this, supplementing with other books (including graphic novels, historical fiction, and biographies) and videos.



Walt Whitman, selections from “Song of Myself
Gwendolyn Brooks, “kitchenette building


Books Continued from Last Week:

(Rillabooks in the top row)
Charlotte's Web by E.B. White Ginger Pye by Eleanor Estes D'Aulaires' Book of Greek Myths Dancing Shoes by Noel Streatfeild audiobook

Best of H.P. Lovecraft An Old-Fashioned Girl by Louisa May Alcott To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf

I’m nearing the end of To the Lighthouse and am feeling pretty well shattered. And I sort of want to start it all over from the beginning.



books to read with my 9yo  TEXT HERE (2)

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17. #726 – Photo Doodles: A Creative Sketchbook by ViiiZ

Photo Doodles: A Creative Sketchbook

By ViiiZ*
Quirk Books       8/20/2013
160 pages       Age 8—12 +
“You’ve never seen a doodle book quite like this one!”
”Wait, you can talk?”

“Photo Doodles combines kid-friendly photographs and cool creative challenges into the perfect canvas for anyone capable of wielding a crayon. Young artists and designers can complete dozens of fun and playful pictures of everything from roller coasters and soda cans to book covers and palaces. Perfect for sketching, scribbling, and coloring outside the lines, Photos Doodles will unleash the aspiring artist inside children of all ages.” [front jacket]

Photo Doodles is a fun-filled book for those kids—and adults—who love to doodle, but may not know how to get started. Similar to writing prompts, each spread contains a one sentence prompt to help you with ideas to doodle your way to a fun, satisfying end. Here are two of those prompts:


“Who (or what) is at the other end of the rope?”


“What outfit will the puppy wear today?”

With 160 pages to doodle and color, it seems the options are endless. From decorating a sea of umbrellas to filling in storyboards with your own story. There is even one many students will find hard to resist:

“It’s your turn at the blackboard . . . what will you write?”

How about “No more math problems,” or maybe “School’s out early today: Leave at noon,” or maybe you would use your turn to make tomorrow a teacher conference day—“Students stay home!”


There are plenty of open spaces in Photo Doodles or those kids and adults who can doodle and draw with ease and loads of pages with images to make colorful and expressive, rather than drawing from scratch. A total of 200 pictures await your crayons, colored pencils, markers, or other artistic medium. While marketed for the middle grade set, younger children will enjoy many of the easier prompts in Photo Doodles and adults will love the range of images and prompts.

I enjoyed playing with Photo Doodles. I love to draw, but have a hard time getting started. Photo Doodles made getting started easy and the images and prompts got me thinking of ways to doodle other than the normal doodles in the margin of a page.


Coloring books for adults are in every corner of every bookstore online and off, but doodle books that prompt you to create imaginative scenes and messages, like Photo Doodles, is not as common. I think kids of all ages will enjoy Photo Doodles as much as I have.

PHOTO DOODLES: A CREATIVE SKETCHBOOK. Text and illustrations copyright © 2015 by ViiiZ. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Quirk Books, Philadelphia, PA.

Buy Photo Doodles: A Creative Sketchbook at AmazonBook DepositoryQuirk Books.

Learn more about Photo Doodles: A Creative Sketchbook HERE.
The Sell Sheet can be found HERE.

Meet the authors/illustrators, ViiiZ.
Vahram Muratyan at his website:  http://www.vahrammuratyan.com/
Elodie Chaillous at LinkedIn:  https://fr.linkedin.com/pub/elodie-chaillous/84/79a/462/en
.        . (ViiiZ is the artistic team of Vahram Muratyan and Elodie Chaillous andfounders of ViiiZ, an art    direction and graphic design studio created in 2005 in Paris. They graduated from the acclaimed Parisian design school ESAGPenninghen.)

Find middle grade novels at the Quirk Books website:  http://www.quirkbooks.com/

Copyright © 2015 by Sue Morris/Kid Lit Reviews. All Rights Reserved

Full Disclosure: Photo Doodles: A Creative Sketchbook by ViiiZ, and received from Quirk Books, is in exchange NOT for a positive review, but for an HONEST review. The opinions expressed are my own and no one else’s. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Filed under: 5stars, Books for Boys, Children's Books, Middle Grade, NonFiction Tagged: art, art prompts, colored pencils, crayons, creativity, doodling, imagination, Photo Doodles: A Creative Sketchbook, Quirk Books, ViiiZ

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18. "Red Horse Dancing"

Red Horse Dancing is a small (8" x 8") watercolor painting on paper. It was created from my imagination, and it's part of my "Daily Something" series.

More of my artwork can be seen on my website and my Etsy shop

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19. French Concession review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Xiao Bai's French Concession.

       I was particularly curious about this one, because Yao Minji, in Old Shanghai thriller lures Western publisher, noted:

The novel by Shanghai author Xiao Bai sold only moderately well in China, but it has the elements that appeal to Western readers.
       Personally, I'd much rather see titles that are more popular in China, even if that means they're ostensibly mystifying to 'Western' readers -- and, indeed, despite whatever Western-reader-appealing elements this novel (supposedly) has, it turns out not to be a very good one. I'm not particularly surprised it wasn't a big hit in China -- and I suspect it won't be in the 'West' either; sure, aspects of it are interesting -- but it's also a mess.
       I fear publishers still haven't hit on the formula of Chinese fiction translating into Western success ..... (I also fear they are going about it mostly, if not all, wrong -- but then that would be more or less par for the publisher course, at least as far as the majors are concerned.)

       (Note also that this was a work-for-hire translation -- translator Chenxin Jiang didn't get to keep the copyright (as she should have), instead it's: "English language translation © HarperCollins". Yes, there are exceptions -- Elena Ferrante, sigh ... -- but basically it's a good rule of thumb: if the translator doesn't have the copyright the work is much more likely not to be ... of the highest quality .....)

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20. Revise and Resubmit

What does it really mean when an agent or editor asks you to revise and resubmit your manuscript?


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21. Leo: A Ghost Story, by Mac Barnett & Christian Robinson -- a story of friendship and acceptance (ages 3-7)

Even though children are surrounded by other kids at school, they often don't feel seen or acknowledged. Mac Barnett and Christian Robinson tap into this feeling in their delightful story about Leo, a little ghost who makes a friend.

Leo: A Ghost Story
by Mac Barnett
illustrated by Christian Robinson
Chronicle, 2015
Your local library
ages 3-7
*best new book*
Leo has a hard time making friends because he’s a ghost. No one can see him. But we can. He’s pretty satisfied spending time by himself, but he is happy when a family moves into his house. It's good to have company. But the family doesn't see things the same way.

Kids will know just what it's like not to be wanted, and they will empathize with Leo as he leaves home. The cool blues of Robinson's illustrations match the soft, subdued mood. One afternoon, "Leo found himself roaming along a sidewalk covered in drawings." Jane looked right up at Leo and asked if he'd like to play. At first, Leo is stunned that she's talking right to him.
"Leo, do you want to play Knights of the Round Table?"
Leo is delighted by her imaginary play as she knights him in their game, but he's nervous that she will be scared when she finds out he’s a ghost. I love how accepting Jane is, how open she is not only to Leo but also to her own imagination. Jane is kind, direct and self-assured--definitely one of my favorite characters this year.

I won't give away the ending, but be rest assured that it will bring a smile to your face and let kids know that they can find a friend who likes them just the way they are.

Enjoy this book trailer. Just like the book, the kids' voices shine through.

Check out these other reviews & interviews:

Illustrations ©2015 Christian Robinson. The review copy was kindly sent by the publisher, Chronicle Books. If you make a purchase using the Amazon links on this site, a small portion goes to Great Kid Books. Thank you for your support.

©2015 Mary Ann Scheuer, Great Kid Books

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22. I will draw your social media avatar—It's Tough to Lose Your Balloon contest!

It's Tough to Lose Your Balloon will soon be on bookshelves everywhere!

To celebrate, I am running a little contest. What can you win? I will draw your social media avatar in the style of the illustrations from my new book! Three winners will get digital art of their likeness—they'll be reading and holding a balloon of their favorite color!

How do you enter? Sign in to Rafflecopter below and follow the prompts for how you can rack up virtual raffle tickets!

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23. Lanark, the play

       Alasdair Gray's best-known work -- and modern classic -- Lanark has been turned into a play, by David Greig, and has now premiered at the Edinburgh International Festival; see their publicity page.
       Not an easy work to adapt -- but at a nearly four-hour running-time Greig seems to have tried to stuff a great deal in.
       Early reviews -- see those in The Guardian, The Observer, and The Stage -- have been enthusiastic.

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24. Seasonal Transition

Giant sunflower

Giant sunflower

It is season transition time! That means some days are like summer and some are like fall. The leaves on maples are beginning to change color already. The Canadian geese are flocking around the lakes for food and rest on their way south. The bees are very busy. The monarchs float through the garden. The crickets chirp almost 24-hours a day. The cicadas buzz in the heat of a warm afternoon. Days are noticeably shorter. Nights are cooler and mornings are on the verge of crisp. Some of the pumpkins in the garden are hinting at orange. On my bike rides I see masses of goldenrod with their feathery flowers turning yellow and bluestem grass flowering and starting to turn pink/red. The squirrels are frantically collecting their winter stores and digging holes everywhere to hide it in. And my allergies are raging beyond what my medication can control but I refuse to lock myself in the house and as a consequence have a near-constant sore throat, dry, itchy eyes, and swollen sinuses so I feel as though I am coming down with a cold even though I am not. But in a little over a month there will be a killing frost and it will be the end of the growing season and I will be both relieved and sad.

We have a sunflower in the garden that is 10 feet/3 m tall. The flower on top is ridiculously small given the plant’s height. It must have put all its energy into getting tall and not saved enough to make a big flower. We have a few shorter sunflowers in the garden and we are attempting again this year to save them from the squirrels so we can eat the seeds ourselves. One has a bag over the flowerhead already as the seeds grow and dry. We did this last year and it worked until we left it too long and an enterprising squirrel broke the flower stalk and ripped the bag apart and had itself a tasty meal. Not gonna let that happen this year!

The amaranth is going great. I had thought it would only get about 5 feet / 1.5 m tall

Awesome amaranth

Awesome amaranth

but some of them are about 7 feet/ 2 m tall. They are very beautiful plants. I looked up when and how to harvest the seeds and it should be pretty easy. Famous last words! But I also discovered the plant has a golden yellow variety too. So Bookman and I are thinking we will plant both read and yellow next year. The seeds are tiny and you can use them like flax seed or cook them like quinoa. Apparently they make a delicious breakfast porridge. The whole enterprise being an experiment this year, I am not certain how much seed we will get from our patch. Next year I will know to leave more room between each plant. Also, the young greens are reportedly very tasty and rich in iron, calcium and vitamin C. According to one website I found, if you prune down the main stem for greens early in the season it will promote a somewhat shorter but much bushier plant that will produce more flowers. The greens are used like one would use Swiss chard. I also learned that amaranth is a nitrogen hog so next year, since the plants get so tall, I am going to try growing pole beans with them and see how that goes.

Brussels beginning to sprout

Brussels beginning to sprout

The summer has been cooler than usual this year which is fine by me, but it does present a problem for plants that need heat to ripen the fruit like tomatoes. We have loads of green tomatoes in the garden and so far have had only three cherry tomatoes get ripe enough to pick. The coming week is forecast to be downright hot, summer’s last hurrah. So my fingers are crossed that the heat is enough to get the tomatoes on their way to ripening. If not, I suppose Bookman will have to make some green tomato salsa or discover the pleasures of fried green tomatoes.

I picked the last of the yellow wax beans, a second effort from the plants that are now officially done. I also picked a couple of small yellow beets. When I say small, I mean small, they are about the size of a gobstopper, but I am happy about it nonetheless because they are the first beets I have ever pulled from the garden. Every gardener has the vegetable that she just can’t grow and it is always one that is so easy, according to everyone else, but for some reason it is not easy for her. Beets are my Achilles heel. Every year I plant them and they sprout and get a few inches tall but never really leafy and never any beetroots. That I have pulled two beets big enough to actually eat is a cause for celebration and makes me inordinately happy. Perhaps my beet luck is about to change!

We had a bald eagle visit the neighborhood yesterday. It is not uncommon to see them near

Aralia Racemosa

Aralia Racemosa

the lakes but they generally don’t fly around the neighborhood. It circled around low a few times, watching something, no doubt, though I don’t know what. All the crows in the vicinity were in an uproar and goodness can they make a loud racket! After circling around four or five times it gave up and left, much to the relief of the crows who quieted as soon as the eagle departed. Unfortunately I was too busy watching it to even think about trying to get a photo. Such a beautiful bird too!

Thursday the fence people came our and set the posts for out fence. Yay! This week they will come out and install the chainlink. Yay! Bookman and I are still working out all the materials we need for the chicken coop. It is taking longer than I thought but we are getting there!


My long ride yesterday was lovely. It was cool enough that I had to start the ride with arm warmers. I took them off about halfway through and was still a bit cool but it was also really humid and I was borderline warm with them on. So I figured better a little chilly than hot. It was foggy in a few places though not so foggy that it affected visibility. A very nice ride.

My friend who rides with me Saturday mornings for part of the way had a wasp fly into one of the vents of his helmet and sting his head! I’ve eaten my share of gnats, been smacked by bugs and other unknowns, have even been pooped on by a low flying crow, but I’ve never had anything fly into my helmet let alone sting me while riding. Luckily he isn’t allergic to wasps and while it hurt he was able to keep going and still enjoy the ride. Next weekend he is getting married so I will be on my own for the whole ride. The weekend after that is the Jesse James fun ride Bookman and I are signed up for. One of the perks is a chair massage at the end of the ride. I am not sure which I am looking forward to more, the ride itself or the massage at the end of it!

Filed under: biking, gardening

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25. Haven't I seen you someplace before? Dueling covers of yet more words in heads



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