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<<August 2015>>
new posts in all blogs
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1. And we're off!!!

Sunday we fly from Roanoke to Paris for the first leg of our new life! We'll hang out with friends in Blois, France for two weeks before we enter Scotland with my student visa on August 17th. New life, here we come!

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2. PAL Booksale

A smattering of photos from the PAL Booksale, where attendees can purchase fellow attendees books.

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3. A terrific little film made by Tibor Gergely's great granddaughter...

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4. August's word-of-the-month is Picnic!

If You Love Honey by Martha Sullivan, illustrated by Cathy Morrison
August's word-of-the-month is "Picnic" and I just happened to have an image that relates. This book comes out in a couple of weeks and while I wouldn't say it was a picnic to illustrate it, I can say I totally enjoyed researching and illustrating it. The publisher is Dawn Publications!

Here's an early and very nice review by Sue Poduska with 2nd Grade Reading Blog.

Please check out my Studio With A View Blog for more information about this book and others.

Thanks for taking a look!

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5. Meet Elizabeth Parker

Murder at Longbourn. (Elizabeth Parker #1) Tracy Kiely. 2009. St. Martin's Press. 320 pages. [Source: Library]

I enjoyed reading Tracy Kiely's Murder at Longbourn. It is first and foremost a cozy mystery. It is not a retelling or adaptation of any particular Austen novel. So don't expect that, and you won't be disappointed, or as disappointed.

As I said, I enjoyed this holiday-themed mystery novel. Elizabeth Parker, the heroine, goes to visit her great-aunt for New Year's Eve/Day. There is a party hosted at her great-aunt's bed and breakfast. It is a themed party--there will be a "murder" at the party. She meets plenty of new people at her great-aunt's bed and breakfast. Some of them being guests staying at the b&b. Some being guests (from the town) invited to the New Year's party. But one person is not a new acquaintance at all, but, an old "nemesis" named Peter. The two knew each other as children, and, as far as Elizabeth is concerned, there's nothing but hate between them: past, present, and future.

The party goes horribly, of course, and a real murder is committed. Elizabeth is convinced that there is a lot of framing going on--and her aunt may suffer for it--but can she with a tiny bit of help from Peter--find the real murderer in time?

I liked Elizabeth well enough. I didn't love everything about her. There were times she came across as not too bright. And I did find quite a few things about this one to be predictable. But. In the moment, as I was reading it, I cared more than I didn't. I wanted to keep reading it. I wasn't annoyed or frustrated or disgusted or disappointed. It was a very pleasant read. Now, a week after finishing it, the in-the-moment pleasure of it all has faded a bit.

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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6. Hungry? Eat like The King!

After seeing 'The Fat Elvis' on the menu in a restaurant (which is a baked pie, inspired Elvis Presley's favourite breakfast -a sandwich with Peanut butter, banana and bacon), I HAD to illustrate this recipe!

Would you like to learn how to illustrate recipes? You can! I can teach you in 4 weeks - join my online worlshop on drawing food and illustrating recipes 'Draw It Like It's Hot!'!
It's $69 and starts September 21. Click here to find out more

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7. Tip for writers/illustrators: Intelligent perseverance will get you far. Take a break if needed but then try again!

To aspiring book authors and illustrators out there: Intelligent perseverance will get you far. Take a break if needed but then try again!

If you like my found object doodles, you can browse more on Instagram at @inkygirl.

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8. Revisiting Reconstruction (Week of August 2, 2015)

Here are the three most notable items pertaining to Reconstruction that I found this past week. Or, at least, two notable items preceded by one blatantly self-promotional one. (What did I miss? Let me know in the comments…) In advance of this month’s inaugural Mississippi Book Festival, this interview with me from Jackson’s Clarion-Ledger: Question: […]

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9. Paul Fleischman: Writing Picture Book Text

Paul Fleischman's novels, poetry, picture books, and nonfiction are known for their breadth, innovation, and lyrical language. He's won the Newbery Medal for Joyful Noise: Poems for Two Voices, a Newbery Honor for Graven Images, the California Young Reader Medal for Weslandia, and was a National Book Award finalist for Breakout. His book Seedfolks has been used in citywide reads across the country. In 2012 he was the United States' nominee for the Hans Christian Andersen Award for the body of his work. Visit www.paulfleischman.net.

Paul has written wordless books and he's written an opera, but he always comes back to picture books.

He touches on length, age level, and how picture books are mediated by an adult and what that means – and doesn't mean – in terms of vocabulary and subject matter.
"The best picture books can be enjoyed by all ages."

Models to consider: ballads, songs, lyrics - and how they leave out a lot.
"Does your idea require art? If you can imagine your story without art, a picture book might not be the way to tell it."

"Weigh every word." And then he adds that that is "good advice for all genres."

And when he has things that happen in his story that aren't in the text? Like the moment in his own "Time Train" when the text says, "some passengers got on in Pittsburgh" but it's Civil War Soldiers who are walking into the train car?

He puts it in brackets. (But urges us to keep them to a minimum, "just what is required.")

Paul finishes the session with questions, and his answers cover so much more.

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10. My tweets

  • Sun, 02:11: Best overheard quote of the day - Just because you have a thought, doesn't mean you should post it on the Internet. #quoteoftheday
  • Sun, 02:12: Second best overheard quote of the day - And that is why I am asexual. #quoteoftheday

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11. Shannon Hale: Opening Up the Clubhouse: Boys, Girls, and Genderless Books

Shannon Hale is the New York Times best-selling author of fifteen children's and young adult novels, including the popular Ever After High trilogy and multiple award winners The Goose Girl, Book of Thousand Days, and Newbery Honor recipient Princess Academy.

Even as a little girl, Shannon was aware of gender and that girls were treated differently than boys.

Messages girls hear growing up: marry rich; boys are smarter than girls; your value is in your looks; even the things women are supposed to best at, men are better. These are the things Shannon had mulling inside her.

Shannon just unraveled a string of her rejection letters across the entire ballroom stage!

When THE GOOSE GIRLS came out, there was the assumption that boys do not read books about girls, so Shannon believed she wrote books that boys would never read.
When Shannon wrote RIVER OF SECRETS with a male protagonist, boys still did not read the book because she was woman.

If Shannon knew what a big deal the PRINCESS ACADEMY title would be, she wouldn't have title it  that.

(Note: Shannon has the room clapping and cracking up!)

A teacher once told Shannon: "When I tell I class I'm going to read the Princess Academy, the girls go ________, and the boys go___________." (Just like the room could here, you can fill in the sounds made by the girls and boys.)

Shannon asks the boys: Boys, why are you so scared of princesses?

She asks the girls a long list of questions about choices they can make (Can you wear blue? Can you wear pink? Can you be a race car driver? Can you be a clothing designer?) Then asks the boys: Who told you can only do half the stuff?

Shannon tell us, women have half the audience. It's how it is. We have labeled book by and about girls for girls, and girls only.

Shannon has a collection of great slides, showing that you can't get cooties from reading PRINCESS ACADEMY. This all started with Jon Scieszka. Love it!

Men as mentors is so critical. A boy who loves reading turns to his dad and asks, "Dad do you like to read?" Dad answers, "No, not really." Boy responds, "Me neither."

Are you giving books about girls to boys, and saying, "I think you'll like this book because it's funny, etc." We need to do this. We must!

Reading novels creates empathy. We are asking boys to live in a world that is 50% female while telling them not to read books about them. This needs to change.

A must-read post about the time Shannon spoke at a school and the boys were not invited.

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12. Francelia Butler Conference Film

Every year at Hollins University student volunteers put together the Francelia Butler conference. One of the highlights is the annual video. A few faculty are usually hijacked, shanghaied, asked to participate. This was my year to play the White Witch. So with baited breath, I hesitantly share... (Click the image to see the video on YouTube.)

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13. Brandy Colbert: How to Write Compelling Supporting Characters

Brandy Colbert is the author of POINTE, winner of the 2014 Cybils Award for young adult fiction, and was named book of 2014 by Publishers Weekly. Her next book LITTLE & LION will be published by Little, Brown in spring 2017.

POINTE was the fourth novel Brandy wrote. She knew it was almost there because she really started caring about the characters.

It really helps to create a backstory for your supporting characters, though you don't need as much as you have for your main character, but they too need a story. Be careful of stereotype with your supporting characters.

Watching TV is a great way to learn about great dialogue. While watching it's helpful to assess what people do with their hands and body language. Also, close your eyes and listen to what their voice alone sounds like.

Do your characters use certain words or slang (but also be careful of these)?

Empathy is huge. Give readers a reason to care about your characters.

What Brandy worked on most when writing POINTE: detail, detail, detail, and body language. She wanted to allow the reader to imagine the characters as much as possible without giving to much detail, but Brandy's editor was often asking: Where is she? and Where are you characters on the page? She had to work on this.

Supporting characters Brandy loves (from contemporary, realistic):

The Best Friend
A Sense of the Infinite by Hilary T. Smith

Love Interest
Roomies by Sara Zarr and Tara Altebrando
Nothing Like You by Lauren Strasnick

P.S. Be Eleven by Rita Williams-Garcia
Making Pretty by Corey Ann Haydu

Big Groups
The Walls Around Us by Nova Ren Suma
This Is Not a Test by Courtney Summers

Characters That Don't Appear on the Page
Hold Still by Nina LaCour

Since You Asked by Maurene Goo

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14. pondering life's pauses, and turns, at Andalusia, in today's Inquirer

In the Philadelphia Inquirer today I'm thinking about serenity—how we need it, where we find it—at Andalusia, along the Delaware River.

A link to the story is here.

A link to my blog post about the children I met and taught at this Biddle mansion is here.

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15. Susan Eaddy: #LA15SCBWI Conference Illustrator Journal

Susan Eaddy

Susan wrote this about herself:
Susan Eaddy and begins work every day with clean hands. Within 15 minutes those hands are bright green, or purple, and covered in clay! Each illustration is a discovery process as she studies nature and animals to figure out how to bring them to life in clay. Her clay critters inhabit pizza boxes in her attic studio and she’s pretty sure they play at night while the humans sleep. She loves to travel and has done school visits all over the world from Alabama to Taiwan to Brazil to Hong Kong!

She is the Illustrator Coordinator for the Midsouth and a member of the SCBWI Team Bologna.

You can find out more about Susan (and check out more of her art) at www.susaneaddy.com

Here's the cover of a picture book she illustrated (with clay!):

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16. Cilla Black dead: Legendary TV presenter and singing star dies aged 72

The Daily Mirror online http://www.mirror.co.uk/3am/celebrity-news/cilla-black-dead-legendary-tv-6180303 just published this. And AS USUAL the BBC News appears to have heard nothing about this. This is the journalism we pay for???

Very sad news. Cilla was, in the 1960s -early 1980s a very popular performer.  Memories are still there of Saturday night TV.

Cilla Black
Surprise Surprise and Blind Date star Cilla Black has died aged 72, it was announced today.

Cilla, who also had two number one singles at the start of a showbiz career stretching over 50 years, died in Spain.

A Spanish police spokeswoman confirmed today that Cilla had died at her Spanish home at her home in Estepona on the Costa del Sol.

She said: “I can confirm the death of British national Priscilla White, aged 72.”

“We are still awaiting autopsy results but everything at this stage is pointing towards her death being the result of natural causes.”

Lexi Jones/WENN.com
Cilla Black at 'Shooting Stars' book launch in May
Police sources said they thought the death had occurred overnight and they believed Cilla, who suffered from hearing problems and arthritis, had jetted to Spain a few days ago with one of her three sons.

Apolice officer was stood outside the front of the property before driving off in a Seat Alhambra car around midday local time.

Cilla, who often flew to Spain in the summer months, also had homes in London, Buckinghamsire and Barbados.

Express NewspapersPatti Boyd, George Harrison, Cilla Black and Brian Epstein

The Liverpudlian star was born Priscilla Maria Veronica White on May 27 1943.

She was championed by The Beatles and enjoyed eleven top ten hits including chart-toppers Anyone Who Had a Heart and You're My World.

Last year she spoke to the Mirror about growing older, saying: “Seventy-five is a good age to go.
“If things are starting to drop off – like the hearing – and I’ve got twinges in the morning, I do think that.”

Cilla Black arriving for the 2014 Arqiva British Academy Television Awards
Cilla was married for 30 years to her manager Bobby Willis until he died in 1999 of lung cancer, aged just 57, leaving her bereft.

She leaves three sons, Robert, Ben and Jack, as well as two grandchildren.

The iconic British star, who was famous for her music career as well as her Surprise Surprise show, passed away this weekend although details remain unknown at this time.

Highly regarded for as a pioneer for women in media, Black went on to host more than 500 editions of her programmes and was the first woman to have her own prime-time chat show on BBC One.

Cilla Black before BAFTA honour in 2013
Andrew Newman, the chairman of Bafta's television committee, previously said: "From hosting her own show for the BBC in '68 to defining ITV entertainment throughout the '80s and '90s, Cilla has been an extremely popular and hugely influential entertainer throughout her long career in television ."

Speaking in May last year, showbiz legend Cilla Black said she is ‘over the moon’ to be receiving an outstanding contribution prize at the Bafta Television Awards .

"I am thrilled to be honoured with this award - I am totally delighted,” she said.

“I've been very fortunate to have a long and full career in television and this means the world to me."
Cilla’s rise to stardom was recently told in an award-winning three-part drama starring Sheridan Smith.

PACilla Black and her husband and personal manager Bobby Willis
Of watching the show, Cilla, she said: “It’s a strange experience seeing other people recreating your life… I was a bit worried when I heard that Sheridan was playing me because I’d only ever seen her as Mrs Biggs.”

She added: “I needn’t have worried because Sheridan is absolutely terrific.”
Cilla married her manager Bobby in 1963 and was desperate to be a star.

MirrorpixCilla Black pop singer entertainer with Brian Epstein 1964
“Bobby was offered his own recording contract,” she had said. “But I made him say no. There was only room for one ego in our relationship.

Tempus fugit

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17. Martha Brockenbrough: Jumpstart Your Social Media... Ten Best Tips

@mbrockenbrough is Martha's
Twitter handle. Magnum Blackbeard
is her CB radio handle.
Author Martha Brockenbrough shares some fantastic and salient social media marketing gems. Spoiler alert: It's all about relationships!

Your strategy for social media, says Martha, is not to be on there to sell books, it's to build relationships. It is not about the technology/particular media platform, either, that is totally secondary to the connections you make on whatever platform you are comfortable being in or on.

You wouldn't start an in-real-life friendship by telling someone to buy your book, that's not how you should approach social media either. It's fine to make people aware that you write or illustrate, but Martha's hope is that you instead focus your efforts on being friendly, interacting online, and adding something to the conversations.

Give them reasons to interact with you: you can show snippets of your life, your family, vacations, things that inspire you.

Who are you building these social media relationships with? Five-year-olds don't tweet, but booksellers, librarians, teachers and parents do! All of these people are potential gatekeepers to your intended audience of your published book.

If you aren't published? Well, your fellow industry professionals, fellow authors and illustrators and agents and editors are on social media, and you can start building these relationships now and support authors and illustrators you are fans of and herald their work.

Martha's Core Principles for Online Social Media (and Martha can do an 8-minute plank, so she knows about core strength)

1. Be Positive
2. Focus on the long term
3. Build an authentic community (Martha admits it is difficult to be careful and professional while also being authentic, but hold both of these things in mind when you do broadcast yourself/opinions online)

Martha provides some platform-tailored tips and hints for how to interact on Facebook, Twitter, Linked In, and more, for both your personal and professional pages.

One Facebook hint: Images are often more popular than text-only posts for views and shares, consider making a quote from your book or a new, glowing review you want to share as word art or an image. Or consider using pictures to promote your event, like one of Martha's most popular booktour event info posts was this one:

See some great social media in action by using Martha as a case study:

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18. Illustrator Submission :: Nick Bear

Post by Chloe





Nick Bear is a professional artist with a passion for illustration. His style is bold, colourful and often full of character and humour. This has made him popular among game production companies and his illustrations have featured in some of the world’s most popular games such as Plants vs Zombies 2 and Bejeweled Blitz. If you would like to see more of Nick Bear’s graphic illustrations, please visit his portfolio.

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19. August -.Happy Endings, books, kids, movies and dogs


Tales of wonder usually have happy endings. They may have danger and darkness, forbidden places and strange creatures, witches and cruel magic...but wonder tales -- fairy tales -- do have happy endings...with very few exceptions. The journey may be fearsome, but salvation and awakenings occur in the end...and these stories endure forever.


Beauty, Horror, and Ignition Power...

CoverEnchantedHuntersEnchanted Hunters, The Power of Stories in Childhood by Maria Tatar, takes the reader on a wonderful journey through children's literature.

In the chapter entitled, Beauty , Horror and Ignition Power, she writes about the effect of wonder tales on the imagination of children, including the balance between the dark side and positive endings. Here are excerpts..."We rarely worry about the effects of beauty, but horror is another matter...with an allure all its own, horror has the power to frighten as well as to fascinate...how much do we want children to find in their stories and how soon?..." 

Tatar then illustrates the idea of too much horror with "Hans Christian Anderson's 'The Girl Who Trod On The Loaf', a tale that revels in torturing Inger, the 'girl' in the title." Tatar then writes, by contrast. of three classic tales  where all ends well. 

 "RRHVogelBy contrast,'Little Red Riding Hood', 'Hansel and Gretel', and 'Snow White' begin with the child as victim, but they end with the triumph of the underdog and the punishment of the villain. 'Children know something they can't tell; they like Red Riding Hood and the wolf in bed' Djuna Barnes once declared. Fairy tales and fantasy enact perils and display horrors, but they always show a way out, allowing children to explore great existential mysteries that are far more disturbing when they remain abstract and uncharted rather than take the concrete form of the story."

The illustration of Little Red Riding Hood is by Hermann Vogel.


The Defining Dynamic of the Fairytale      

Amanda Craig,is an acclaimed British novelist,  journalist, and  children's book reviewer. The following excerpt is from her insightful review of Marina Warner's "Once Upon A Time, A Short History of the Fairy Tale", in the Guardian   

TomThumbWarwickGoble"One of the most interesting aspects of reworking fairytales is that it tends to be practised by idealists and reformers, whether devout Christians, such as CS Lewis, or socialists, such as JK Rowling. The defining dynamic of the fairy tale is optimism (as opposed to the tragic tendencies of the myth), but this has encouraged bowdlerisations from the dark and gruesome aspects of many originals – Dickens hated the way the illustrator George Cruikshank softened stories, the brothers Grimm tinkered to “excuse the men and blame the women”, and the ambiguity of the fairytale led to them being twisted into Nazi propaganda, with Little Red Riding Hood being saved from a Semitic wolf.

Happily, they have also been transmuted by modern feminism: Neil Gaiman’s striking novella, The Sleeper and the Spindle... conflates and subverts Snow White and Sleeping Beauty into a tale of female courage and choice..." Read it all in the Guardian   

The illustration from Tom Thumb is by Warwick Goble.


Where the Light is Golden...

SleepingChild“October knew, of course, that the action of turning a page, of ending a chapter or of shutting a book, did not end a tale. Having admitted that, he would also avow that happy endings were never difficult to find: "It is simply a matter," he explained to April, "of finding a sunny place in a garden, where the light is golden and the grass is soft; somewhere to rest, to stop reading, and to be content.” ― Neil GaimanThe Sandman, Vol. 4: Season of Mists

Illustration by Mike Dringenberg or Kelly Jones .


 Humane Society of Missouri

The Humane Society of Missouri helps more than 85,000 homeless, abused and unwanted animals each year. Here is their mission statement:

HumaneSocMOKids readtodogs"Since 1870, the Humane Society of Missouri has been dedicated to second chances. We provide a safe and caring haven to all animals in need - large and small - that have been abused, neglected or abandoned. Our mission is to end the cycle of abuse and pet overpopulation through our rescue and investigation efforts, spay/neuter programs and educational classes. We are committed to creating lasting relationships between people and animals through our adoption programs. We further support that bond by making available world-class veterinary care, and outstanding pet obedience and behavior programs..." 

Learn more about their work at www.hsmo.org.


 "Perfect for Me"


ParadeMisfitsBkCoverCayr"Wulff`s heartwarming stories about a household of misfit dogs, reminds me that family can include the four-legged variety, as well as the two-legged. Her simple affirmation that "My dogs are not perfect.... but they are perfect for me," guides the telling of these gentle stories. For dog lovers everywhere."
If you have not yet read "Born Without a Tail: the Making of an Animal Advocate" or "Circling the Waggins: How 5 Misfit Dogs Saved Me from Bewilderness", this mini ebook is the perfect introduction to the world of C.A.Wulff.  "Parade of Misfits" is only available in digital format. 

C.A. Wulff is an author, artist, and animal advocate. She has volunteered in animal rescue for more than 26 years and attributes her love of animals to having been raised by Wulffs.


Dr. Seuss’ ‘What Pet Should I Get?’

By MARIA RUSSO,in the NY Times. MS Russo writes an appreciation of the incredible Theodore Seuss Geisel, his wonderful books, and the new-found book, What Pet Should I Get? Here's an excerpt...

"First, though, the book itself: It features a round-faced brother and sister — his close-
WhatPetShouldIGetcropped hair is bristly on top, she has a long, wispy ponytail — who enter a pet store excited about the prospect of taking a new animal home. 'Dad said we could get one./ Dad said he would pay,' the boy exclaims. Inside, they confront a head-­spinning lineup of choices. Also, they don’t have much time — their mother has told them to be home by noon. A few pages into their predicament and again toward the end, the words MAKE UP YOUR MIND charge across the top of a two-page spread, each held aloft by a different invented Seussian creature — ­floppy-limbed, scruffy-coated, oddly proportioned, jubilantly weird. On one of those pages, the boy sums up the book’s central point in a deceptively innocent lament: 'Oh, boy! It is something to make a mind up!' ” 

Here is a link to read all of Russo's article: SUNDAY BOOK REVIEW

Here's a link to a delightful and informative Dr.Seuss Today Show  report on the new book, Theodore Geisel, his widow, his personal assistant, and his publisher.  



Winnie the PoohShepard Illustration

"To the uneducated, an A is just three sticks."

“People say nothing is impossible, but I do nothing every day.” 

“We'll be Friends Forever, won't we, Pooh?' asked Piglet.
Even longer,' Pooh answered.” 

“I think we dream so we don’t have to be apart for so long. If we’re in each other’s dreams, we can be together all the time.” 

A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh

The illustration is by Earnest Shepard.

Rescuing Wonderful Shivery Tales

GrimmRackhamHanselGretel (2)

This is the title of Marina Warner's excellent and inclusive article in the NY Review of Books . Warner writes about contributions to the world of wonder tales and children's literature by Jack Zipes, Philip Pullman, Peter Wortman, and Maria Tatar. In the case of Tatar, she concentrates on her work in introducing, translating, and annotating the Turnip Princess, the tales collected by Franz Xaver von Schonwerth.

Here are excerpts from this informed and insightful article:  

"Jack Zipes has long been a staunch advocate of fairy tales and their proper study since his
book Breaking the Magic Spell (1979) issued a devastating blast against the wishful thinking of mass entertainment and shook the staid and soporific scene of folklore studies. To GrimmArthurRackhamKingThrushbeardinterpret the tales he has combined Marxism, feminism, cultural materialism, and even—for a short period—evolutionary biology. He has stirred readers with a similar passion for his material, while attacking the use of literary fantasy in movies and television to camouflage moral manipulation. Writers whom he admires—Jane Yolen, Terri Windling, and above all Angela Carter—and the films informed by their work have supplied countermodels to the sins of the dream factory. 

In the epilogue of the new critical collection, Grimm Legacies, Zipes, drawing on the work of the philosopher Ernst Bloch, once again argues that fairy tales are best understood as utopian thought experiments. When the peasant crushes the ogre, the poor lad finds justice; persecuted by malicious relatives, the kind sister gets her due, the courageous girl saves her beloved siblings or lover... 

Zipes is on a lifelong mission, as ardent as the Grimms’, to bring fairy tales into circulation for the general increase of pleasure, mutual and ethical understanding..."

The illustrations for the Grimm's Hansel and Gretel and King Thrushbeard are by Arthur Rackham.



By Don Blankenship, educator and reviewer for Good Books for Kids . This is an excerpt from his review of Castle In The Mist... 

20141128_183146_resized"This is the second book in the Planet of the Dogs series and I must say I enjoyed it, cover to cover. This work can be read as a sequel to Planet of the Dogs, an ideal situation, but can also be read as a stand-alone with no loss to the flow of the story. This read is suitable for children of approximately eight years and up as a reader, or can well be read to children much younger. Adults will love this one also; I know I did, but then I have my fare share of kid still in me...

The art work by Stella Mustanoja McCarty is of the same high quality that we found in the first book in this series (and we find in the sequel to this book also), and is a delight to the eye. These are a series of black and white drawing, probably enhanced by the use of charcoal, which fit the text perfectly. When you bring a skilled artist and writer together that know children and know their dogs, then you know you are in for a treat."

Read sample chapters of Castle In The Mist at our website: Planet Of The Dogs.

The photo, above, of the boy, Chase, and Rose, the therapy dog, are by Susan Purser. Susan and Rose bring hope and caring to many people, of all ages, from young readers to the ill and the aged.

We have free reader copies of the Planet of The Dogs book series for therapy CITM-frontcover-jpg-654x945dog organizations, individual therapy dog owners, librarians and teachers...simply send us an email at planetofthedogs@gmail.com and we will send you the books. 


Our books are available through your favorite independent bookstore, Barnes & Noble, Amazon, Powell's and many more...Librarians, teachers, bookstores...You can also order Planet Of The Dogs, Castle In The Mist, and Snow Valley Heroes, A Christmas Tale, through Ingram with a full professional discount.

The  illustration and book cover are by Stella Mustanoja-McCarty. 


Pan In The Garden

"In many ways , modern children's literature remains an Edwardian phenomenon. This period defined the ways in which we still think of children's books and of
The Secret Garden Inga Moorethe child's imagination. During it's few years, this age produced a canon of authors and works that are still powerfully influential in the field...Our default mode of childhood, if you like, remains that decade or so before the first World War; the time between the death of Queen Victoria in 1901, and the assassination at Sarajevo in 1914, the time when writers looked back over loss and could only barely anticipate the end of the old order"

In the chapter "Pan In the Garden", Seth Lerer, in his book, Children's Literature, A Reader's History from Aesop to Harry Potter, writes of the impact of the Edwardian era on children's literature..."the years before the First World War in Britain and America were also years that socially and politically redefined childhood." 

Children's books written in the Edwardian era are known, even today, by many children:   The Secret Garden (Frances Hodgson Burnett), Peter Pan (JM Barrie), The Wind In the Willows (Kenneth Grahame) and more.

The cover illustration is by Inga Moore.



Laputa-castle-in-the-sky-"Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere." Albert Einstein



The illustration is from Miyazaki's Castle In The Sky.


Disney Got It Right in 2011-- After Previous Stumbles

According to Rotten Tomatoes, 90% of the critics (out of 127) liked the 2011 Disney production of Winnie the Pooh. Here is excerpt from the review by Michael DeQuina in Movie Report. 

WinnieDisneyMovieEyore2011..."the writing team and directors Stephen J. Anderson and Don Hall make it work by never losing sight of the spirit of the characters, world, and Milne: imagination, innocence, and heaps of heart--best encapsulated by the bear's simple, moving gesture of friendship that so eloquently ties up the story, characters, themes and the enduring legacy that is Pooh."

Here's a link to the trailer: Winnie-the-Pooh



Maine has an organization - EmBrace A Vet -  that provides healing support with therapy Embrace a VetRetreatsservice dogs. They also provide retreats for groups of vets and their families. This is from their site:

"Embrace A Vet is a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing direct and supportive services to these Maine Veterans and their families living with PTSD and/or TBI. Besides helping to save the lives of our veterans by providing love and hope through a new canine 'best friend', we also save the lives of many of the dogs who we adopt from shelters."

Embrace A Vet is the recipient of a $5,000 grant for their Paws for Peace Program. This funding, from the Planet Dog Foundation (PDF) will aid in the placement of 12 dogs with veterans in need,

Learn more about Embrace A Vet here. 

Here's a link to their new video


Reading Is Fundemental

Jessica Lahey, in the Motherlode section of the New York Times, wrote an excellent article on reading,literacy, and RIF. Here is an excerpt...

"Fortunately, Reading Is Fundemental (RIF), has been enriching children’s childhoods through the distribution of free books since 1966, when the founder Margaret McNamara resolved to give books to the children of Washington, D.C., children who may not
otherwise have the chance to own books. RIF delivered books into the hands of these ReadingIsFundementalchildren by way of their iconic Bookmobiles; magic vehicles of wonder that pulled right up to the schoolhouse door and invited children to select, and take home, books of their very own. In its first year, RIF gave 200,000 books to 41,000 Washington children, and by the time I stepped into my first Bookmobile in 1977, I was just one of 1.1 million children RIF served that year.

RIF’s vision has remained constant since Ms. McNamara handed out those first books: to
create “a literate America in which all children have access to books and discover the joys and value of reading.” 
While RIF promotes literacy for all children, its priority is to provide books to children in underserved and impoverished communities. Since 1966, RIF has given 412 million books to more than 40 million children, and today, it hands out 15 million carefully selected tomes each year.

Reading 2

Literacy is a prime predictor of student success, as well as a range of economic and physical well-being. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, nearly half of the adult population, or 93 million Americans, read at or below the basic level needed to contribute successfully to society. Adults below this basic level of literacy are far more likely to be unemployed and live in poverty, while individuals who achieve higher levels of literacy are more likely to be employed, earn higher wages, and vote in state and national elections"...

Here's a link to read it all: Motherlode 



Go Ask Alice

Anthony Lane,in an effervescent New Yorker article, wrote about Lewis Carrol, the Alice books, the world of nineteenth century Oxford,and several biographies in what Lane calls the Carrolllian maze. Here is an excerpt from this fascinating article...
AliceGrownBigTenniel"Conversations about what is real, what is possible, and how rubbery the rules that govern such distinctions turn out to abound in the tales of Alice. Yet they are sold as children's books, and rightly so. A philosopher will ask how the identity of the self can be preserved amid the ceaseless flow of experience, but a child -- especially a child who is growing so fast that she suddenly fills the room -- will ask more urgently, as Alice does, "Was I the same as when I got up this morning? I almost think I can remember feeling a little a little different" Children, viewed from one angle, are philosophy in motion."

 After I had prepared this post, I found that it was already posted by Maria Tatar on Breezes From Wonderland. Tatar has since added more about Alice including information about a new Annotated Alice by Mark Burstein and other news about 175 translations worldwide.  

Here is a link to Grace Slick singing White Rabbit at Woodstock (August 1969)

The illustration of Alice is one of ninetytwo by John Tenniel for Lewis Carrol's books.




 A Rose Is Not a Rose...

This excerpt is from a fascinating article by Marina Warner in the Guardian

"A fairytale doesn’t exist in a fixed form; it’s something like a tune that can migrate from a symphony to a penny whistle.

Or you can compare it to a plant genus, to roses or fungi or grasses, that can seed and root and
SleepingBeautyJennieHarbourflower here and there, changing species and colour and size and shape where they spring. But if the prevailing idea of an archetype gives too strong an impression of fixity, the picture-language of fairytale is fluid and shapeshifting: a rose is not a rose, an apple not an apple; a princess or a villain signify far more than what they seem. A dictionary of fairytale would look more like a rebus made up of icons: snow, crystal, apples, dark forests, pinnacled castles, mermaids, toads, giants, dragons, sprites, fair princesses, likely lads and crones.

The symbolism comes alive through strong contrasts and sensations, evoking simple, sensuous phenomena that glint and sparkle, pierce and flow, by these means striking recognition in the reader or listener’s body at a visceral depth (gold and silver; diamonds and rubies, thorns and knives; wells and tunnels). It’s an Esperanto of the imagination, and it’s available for any of us to use – in almost any medium..." 

The painting of Sleeping Beauty is by Edward Burne Jones. The illustration is by Jennie Harbour.



TomThumbDäumlingThe Society of Bloggers in Children’s and Young Adult Literature 

I highly recommend Kidlitosphere as a source for anyone interested in children's literature.

The following is excerpted from their site...

Some of the best books being published today are children’s and young adult titles, well-written and engaging books that capture the imagination. Many of us can enjoy them as adults, but more importantly, can pass along our appreciation for books to the next generation by helping parents, teachers, librarians and others to find wonderful books, promote lifelong reading, and present literacy ideas.

The “KidLitosphere” is a community of reviewers, librarians, teachers, authors, illustrators, Frog kingpublishers, parents, and other book enthusiasts who blog about children’s and young adult literature. In writing about books for children and teens, we’ve connected with others who share our love of books. With this website, we hope to spread the wealth of our reading and writing experience more broadly...

KidLitosphere Central strives to provide an avenue to good books and useful literary resources; to support authors and publishers by connecting them with readers and book reviewers; and to continue the growth of the society of bloggers in children’s and young adult literature...here is a link to read more. 

Welcome to our world.

The top illustration is of of Tom Thumb. The bottom illustration is of the Frog King.


There's magic, wonder, and exceptional animation here...I SongOfTheSealearned of this film, when I received this message from Joy Ward (author of exceptional dog books)..."There is an absolutely gorgeous animated movie out right now. It's Song of the Sea by an Irish team. Lovely story about o little boy and his selkie sister. Wonderful for everyone!"
The film reviewers have been uniformly enthusiastic. Here is an excerpt from Leslie Felperin in the Guardian: "Song of the Sea blends Celtic legends, bravura design and animation, and intelligent storytelling that understands but never patronises young viewers, to create an exquisite and rewarding work ..."   Here is a link to the trailer: Song Of The Sea


No Dark Deeds Here

This excerpt of the review by Jo Williams in the St Louis Post-Dispatch, sums up the Minions, a movie for the very young.

Minions2"If you’re old enough to read a movie review in a newspaper, you’re too old to fully appreciate “Minions.” Ditto if you’re old enough to read the menu at a fast-food joint, the height requirements at an amusement park or the price tag on a shiny yellow toy. This spinoff of the “Despicable Me” cartoons is like a pre-verbal version of “Inside Out,” all coos and colors and cute facial expressions. Tiny tots will eat it up like jelly beans. But what about their bigger siblings and baby-sitters? Will they be trapped on a sugar-rush cycle with no hope of escape?

Yes, but … The mad scientists at Dreamworks have scrubbed this ’toon of anything that might scare or challenge the target audience"... 

Here is the trailer: Minions


The Dog Rescue Railroad...

EveryRescued DogHasTaleCoverSeveral years ago, I read Deb Eades book, Every Rescued Dog Has a Tale, and first learned about the nationwide network of volunteers who are "rescuing dogs from certain deaths in kill shelters and then being driven by dedicated animal lovers to a new life in another state."

Deb Eades was one of these volunteers, and her book is filled with touching first-hand stories of rescuing dogs and driving them to a place where another volunteer takes over and drives the next leg of the rescue journey. Or, sometimes, actually driving the rescued dog(s) to their new home.


Sunbearsquad-logoSunbear Squad...

Sunbear Squad is a mainstay in dog rescue. Here is an excerpt from their site:

"Each weekend in America, an army of volunteer rescue transport drivers deliver dogs and cats to safety in an organized relay of vehicles. Hard-working volunteer transport coordinators plan the logistics, organize the four-legged passengers, and provide support by phone continuously during the entire one- or two-day operation. Drivers sign up for relay "legs" via e-mail. They meet the previous leg drivers at an appointed time, transfer the lucky dogs and cats to their vehicles, and drive to the next relay meeting spot where the process is repeated until the destination is reached..."

To read the entire article follow this link: Rescue 

"All knowledge, the totality of all questions and answers, is contained in the dog." -- Franz Kafka, Investigations of a Dog

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20. संकल्प नए वर्ष का

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संकल्प नए वर्ष का ( व्यंग्य )

उफ्फ …!!! आखिरकार नए साल मे मैने क्या संकल्प लेना है सोच ही लिया .अब आपसे क्या छिपाना …हर साल जब भी नवम्बर समाप्त होने लगता और दिसम्बर जी का आगमन होता. मन मे अजीब सी बैचेनी करवट लेने लगती कि नए साल मे नया क्या क्या करना है और क्या क्या नही करना है.बस इसी उधेड बुन मे पूरा समय निकल जाता पर भगवान का लाख लाख शुक्र है कि इस साल यह नौबत ही नही आई और समय से पहले ही डिसाईड हो गया.

पता है, पिछ्ले साल मैने यह सोचा था कि सच बोलना शुरु कर दूगी. अरे नही.. नही … आप गलत समझ गए.असल मै, वैसे मै, झूठ नही बोलती पर ना जाने क्यू टीवी पर सच का सामना देख कर डर सी गई थी इसलिए बोल्ड होकर यह निर्णय लिया कि यह आईडिया ड्राप.फिर सोचा था कि कुछ भी हो जाए पतली हो कर दिखाऊगी पर पर पर .. सर्दियो के महीने मे ऐसा विचार मन मे लाना जरा मुश्किल हो जाता है.सरदी की गुनगुनी धूप हो,रजाई हो और गर्मा गर्म पराठे हो और उस तैरता और पिधलता मखन्न.मन भी पिधलना शुरु हो जाता अब ऐसे मे भला खाने पर कैसे ब्रेक लग सकती है.चलो इसे भी सिरे से नकार कर यह सोचा कि सुबह शाम की सैर ही शुरु कर दी जाए. इस पर तुरत अमल करना भी शुरु कर दिया था पर दो ही दिन मे यह मिशन फेल होता सा प्रतीत हुआ. असल मे , ऊबड खाबड सडके, सडको पर मस्ती मे धूमते आवारा बैल,और गंदगी के ढेर के साथ साथ सीवर के ढक्कन गायब.अब बताईए ऐसे मे हाथ पैर तुडवाने से अच्छा है कि कुछ और सोचा जाए.

वैसे सोचा तो मैने यह भी था कि नए साल मे किसी पर गुस्सा नही करुगी.चेहरे पर स्माईल रखूगीं. पिछ्ले साल 31 की रात सबसे यही कह कर सोई कि सभी 1 जनवरी को सुबह सुबह मंदिर चलेगे .मै तो सुबह सुबह तैयार हो गई पर कोई सुबह उठने को तैयार ही नही था. मुस्कुराते मुस्कुराते उठाती रही पर रात को देर से सोने के चक्कर मे सभी गहरी नींद मे थे. इतने मे काम वाली बाई आ गई. उसे पता नही क्या हुआ. बर्तनो को जोर जोर से शोर करते हुए धोने लगी .एक तो देर से आई ऊपर से मुहं बना रखा था इसने. मैने खुद को संयत किया कि मोनिका स्माईल … कंट्रोल कर… कहती हुई ताजा हवा लेने के लिए खिडकी पर जा खडी हुई कि अचानक मेरी नजर पडोसियो की नई चमचमाती कार पर पडी शायद कल ही के लर आए थे.बस आगे आपको बताने की जरुर नही कि ….. !!!!

इस साल भी यही विचार चल रहा था कि नए साल मे क्या संकल्प लिया जाए कि पूरा भी किया जा सके. घर के एक बडे बुजुर्ग ने सुझाया कि हम लोगो को तीर्थ यात्रा करवा दिया करो हर चार महीने मे एक बार. पुण्य मिलेगा.बात जमी नही और मै बच्चो के कमरे मे गई तो बच्चे कहते कि छोडो मम्मी… हर महीने हमे पिक्चर और पिकनिक पर ले जाया करो.काम वाली बाई भी कहा पीछे रहने वाली थी बोली कि मेरी पगार बढा दो और छुट्टी भी बढा दो. बाहर निकली तो ये बोले कि तुम फुलके पतले नही बनाती जरा श्रीमति ऋतु से सीख लो इतने पतले,मुलायम और गोल गोल चपाती बनाती है और कृष्णामूति से डोसा बनाना भी सीख लो … खश्बू से ही मुहं मे पानी आ जाता है.वो बात कर ही रहे थे कि इतने मे मेरी सहेली मणि का फोन आ गया उसने राय दी कि दो चार किट्टी पार्टी ज्वायन कर ले. थोडी सी चालाक बन बहुत भोली है तू.!!! अगले साल ही तुझे सोसाईटी की सैकट्ररी ना बनवा दिया तो मेरा नाम मणि नही!! मैने कोई बहाना कर के तुरंत फोन रख दिया.उफ्फ !!!किस की सुनू किस की ना सुनूं… देखा कितना टेंशन था.

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अब आपको भी टेंशन हो रही होगी कि आखिर इस साल मैने क्या सकंल्प लिया है. तो सुनिए … पिछ्ले दो तीन सालो के अनुभव को देखते हुए… बहुत सोच विचार के मै इस नतीजे पर पहुंची हूँ कि चाहे कुछ भी जाए बस बहुत हुआ. अब और नही इसलिए इस साल … इस साल … इस साल … नए साल के लिए कोई सकंल्प ही नही लूगी.इसलिए मै खुश हू और बहुत ही खुश हूं ..

कैसा लगा आपको ये व्यंग्य जरुर बताईगा :)

The post संकल्प नए वर्ष का appeared first on Monica Gupta.

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21. Stephen Fraser: Middle Grade Perfection: What We Can Learn From Classic and Best-Selling Books

Stephen Fraser joined The Jennifer De Chiara Literary Agency as an agent in January 2005. He worked most recently at HarperCollins Children’s Books, where he edited such creative talents as Mary Engelbreit, Gregory Maguire, Michael Hague, Ann Rinaldi, Kathryn Lasky, Brent Hartinger, Stephen Mitchell, and Dan Gutman. He began his career at Highlights for Children and later worked at Scholastic and Simon & Schuster. A graduate of Middlebury College in Vermont, he has a Master’s degree in Children’s Literature from Simmons College in Boston. He represents both children’s and adult books in a wide range of genres.

Lin calls him a leading light in our field, and tells us he is very helpful, very concrete, and very specific. He also wears some very dapper bowties.

Stephen says an agent is supposed to be impartial about the books he represents, but he does admit he loves middle-grade fiction the best, growing up he read everything, and his inner eleven-year-old is still an active connoisseur of MG manuscript submissions.

"Some of the strongest books in the whole canon of children's literature rest in middle grade."

What are some of the writing rules that 12 classic or beloved middle grade books teach us?

Here are six of the books and their lessons:

Every time an editor asks you to revise, see this as an opportunity to make a perfect book with carefully crafted writing like in Charlotte's Web.

Some of the best novels can be brief, like Stone Fox. It's a satisfying narrative with true drama. Books for middle grade readers can have real drama in them and be story-packed. 

The Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles, celebrity can get a book published, but it can't keep it in print for forty years. This book stays, Stephen says, the lesson here is to let imagination ride high in your story. 

Louis Sachar, you may already know, takes about a year to write a book, but Holes took him two years. What he does so well here, Stephen says, is maintain the hilarious voice of hapless Stanley. Humor if done well can fuel an entire novel. As a side note, Stephen says, consider taking two years to refine your novel and you may just win the National Book Award and the Newbery. And an Emmy.

In Missing May, the setting is as much a character as the human main characters. Do yourself a favor and invoke a rich setting to help bring your story to life and set it concretely in the reader's mind.

Sarah, Plain and Tall, is Stephen's favorite book in the universe. This short novel, clocking in at a mere 58 pages, rewrote the tradition of middle grade fiction. Every word resonates so that you almost feel like the book is illustrated, but there are no pictures! It's the writing that is that good. Originally this book was planned as a picture book, but the author felt there was more story to tell. Every book, says Stephen, should have this level of imagery.

Stephen leaves us with a Henry James quote: "Remember that your first duty is to be as complete as possible. Remember that your first duty is to be as complete as possible—to make as perfect a work. Be generous and delicate and pursue the prize."

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22. Lovell's Frozen Companion

A friend sent me this unusual painting by Tom Lovell (1909-1997). Apparently Lovell came across the strange true story about two gold miners in Greenland. One of them couldn't take the weather and died. His companion buried him under the woodpile because the ground was frozen. After a while the survivor went a bit crazy with loneliness. Every once in a while he brought the frozen corpse into his little cabin as a dinner companion. He wasn't much for conversation, but he brought back memories of the good old days.

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23. Candace Fleming: Five Secrets to Writing Narrative Fiction

Candace Fleming is a true youth literature rock star. She is the author of over thirty-two books for children—picture books, middle grade fiction, and biographies. Her most recent book, The Family Romanov, is the 2015 SCBWI Golden Kite winner for Nonfiction.

In her breakout session today, she offered some tips for writing great narrative fiction (longer pieces of work, middle grade, YA):

1. Vital idea. Consider what it is that you have to say with your story, and not just the facts. As writers, we are storytellers (or bakers, as Fleming used a great metaphor to illustrate the concept). Writing is like baking so create a great cake—bake a great piece of fiction. 

What do you want to tell your readers? What are you showing them about their current world? What do you want to add to the conversation? Fleming used her book, The Family Romanovas an example of what happened when people of power didn't pay attention to their job of focusing on the people. It was her personal opinion, but that's okay, "insert your bias, make a statemen" she said.

Think in scenes and bridges. All nonfiction is written in scenes connected by bridges (or summary). A scene shows the reader what is happening, while a bridge adds context and helps the reader understand and push the story forward. Bridges help the reader know what they need to know in order to understand the next scene. Scenes should be dramatic, as should all nonfiction.

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24. Switching point of view??

Question: I was wondering if it was okay to change the point of view every once in a while. I am only writing this story for two reasons: for myself and

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25. Deborah Halverson: Up-To-The-Minute Market Report

Author Deborah Halverson creates and updates the SCBWI Market Report (available as a member benefit within "The Book: Essential Guide To Publishing For Children" at scbwi.org, under 'resource library.')

Taking us inside our publishing world numbers, Deborah offers a "behind the scenes look," telling us about new submission opportunities, the influence of media tie-ins (John Green's "The Fault In Our Stars" was the top-selling e-book last year), how readers have settled into a mindset of multiple formats, and what editors are interested in seeing more of.

Deborah's keynote is packed – packed! – with information. Some highlights by age-category:

Picture Books
Diversity is important, but still need strength of story and craft as well.

Chapter Books
Editors are interested in highly illustrated upper chapter books/lower middle grade.

Middle Grade
Lots of interest in Middle Grade fiction. "Everything goes in middle grade."

Young Adult
Editors are wanting books that "push beyond a black and white view of the world."

Woven through with quotes from her interviews with editors and agents, we're getting an incredible snapshot of our industry. Two more tidbits:

There's a "sense of dynamism" re: Indie Bookstores

one editor was looking for middle grade that has "a literary soul with commercial legs."

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