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1. Weekend Links-A Recap of the Wildly Successful Multicultural Children’s Book Day

Wow! what an amazing week!

Mia @pragmaticmom and I started off Multicultural Children’s Book Day with a bang on January 27th!!!

We had a wonderful blogtalk radio interview with Kori Miller from Back Porch Writer. There we discussed why we started Multicultural Children’s Book Day as well as the importance of children having diverse books in their hands, schools, and libraries.

Our MCCBD linky went wild with incredible reviews of books from our publisher and author sponsors as well as people putting up links to reviews and activities they’ve done in the past. If you have a link you’d like to share which deals with a multicultural or diverse children’s book please fill free to link HERE. The linky is up for a couple more days.

Twitter Party! Our first-ever twitter party for MCCBD was a huge success and we had 11 lucky winners win multicultural book bundles including a Grand Prize bundle of 12 children’s books!

I loved seeing comments from party participants like this one:
Twitter Party

I don’t think I’ve ever had an hour fly by so fast! We had 11 lucky winners who won multicultural book bundles. Lots of great reading for the winter months :) Here’s a Storified recap of the MCCBD Twitter Party thanks to the wonderful Kim Vij at Educator’s Spin on It .   Miss the party ? Don’t worry !! Did you know that with Storify you can still interact with everyone on the twitter party as if you were at there with us. Just click reply or retweet and bring this party back to life. Remember to use the hashtag #ReadYourWorld.

Friends Celebrating with Us!!!
Author Sherri Graves Smith was on 11alive in Atlanta on January 22nd celebrating and promoting Multicultural Children’s Book Day. Have a look at her inspiring and motivational interview.
Sherri is a champion in so many ways. She is the author of more than 40 books !! To read more about Sherry, her daily journey with cancer, plus her incredible philanthropic heart raising over $400,000 with Coca-Cola for the Atlanta Cancer Care Foundation, providing patients with their daily expenses so that they can afford to seek treatment, have a look HERE.   Get ready to be inspired!
Other friends celebrating with us this week is the Association of Jewish Libraries (AJL) who announced the winners of the 2015 Sydney Taylor Book Awards for Jewish children’s and teen literature. You can find a listing of all the winners HERE. There are so many wonderful books on this list and few of them I’ll be reviewing here in the next few weeks.
Our friends and Platinum Sponsor Wisdom Tales Press celebrated Multicultural Children’s Book Day by having  Wisdom Tales staff do several readings of Pine and the Winter Sparrow by Alexis York Lumbard and Beatriz Vidal at University Elementary School here in Bloomington. Here is our very own senior editor, Roger, telling the story to some eager 2nd graders. We hope everyone had as good a time as they did.
To celebrate Multicultural Children's Book Day, the Wisdom Tales staff did several readings of Pine and the Winter Sparrow (http://ow.ly/I34L2) by Alexis York Lumbard and Beatriz Vidal at University Elementary School here in Bloomington.  Here is our very own senior editor, Roger, telling the story to some eager 2nd graders. We hope everyone had as good a time as we did.

Multicultural Children’s Books Day is such a celebration which has created a vast resource of multicultural books and authors on our website.

Multicultural Children Book Resources

LAST CHANCE to grab your FREE gift to YOU. This copy of my Read Your World Multicultural Booklists and Activities for Kids will not be available much longer.

Read Your World Multicultural Booklist and Activities for Kids

Thank you for all of your support!

The post Weekend Links-A Recap of the Wildly Successful Multicultural Children’s Book Day appeared first on Jump Into A Book.

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2. Before Quatermass There Was.....Dene Vernon: Ghost Investigator!

... Though that job description was flexible.

Dene Vernon:The Thing Below

Dene Vernon:The Thing Below

W -Terry Hooper-Scharf   A -Gavin Stuart Ross
Black & White
53 Pages
Price: £8.00
Ships in 3–5 business days


Dene Vernon the first UK comic book investigator of the supernatural faces his greatest challenge as he investigates and confronts The Thing Below London. Classic British horror set in the ruins of blitzed London docks in 1949.

Dene Vernon was one of those unique characters from the Gerald Swan "Swan Comics" -created and drawn by Jock McCail.  Swan seemed to specialise, whether he realised it or not, in characters steeped in the supernatural -Krakos The Egyptian being one of the others.  Stories of the true ghost hunters -some VERY scary- used to make newspaper news in the old days.  Harry Price, Elliott O'Donnell and a selected few others were well know household names.   Vernon is of that ilk.

In his time he dealt with supernatural curses, horrifying hauntings and, later when the whole thing exploded into the public consciousness, flying saucers.

In 1996 I wrote a script that was intended for D. C. Thomson (let's not go there)  and then Egmont showed interest...and decided it didn't want to do comics -a policy it has stuck to in the UK.  So, ITV thought it might make a good TV series....deregulation of TV killed that.  The BBC....well, if they ever followed through on anything it was a miracle.

Gavin Stuart Ross had been in touch with me a long time before and eventually drew the Chung Ling Soo series of Victorian mystery comics (there is a collection you know).  I thought, perhaps, if I begged, Gavin might give Dene Vernon a try.  He did and so Dene Vernon: The Thing Below came into being.  Finally!

It has been said many times that "horror is best in black and white" and that is true.  I cherish my old Charlton horror/ghost comics and German Spuk Geschichten and Gespenster Geschichten but black and white horror is king.

Incidentally, though it does not mean you will have to buy it as all BTCG books are stand alone, in The Green Skies you will learn exactly why Vernon is recovering and "not quite the same" any more.  That's a teaser.

But Dene Vernon: The Thing Below is just for you horror fans -it even has a slight Quatermass feel to it. Don't believe me?  Buy a copy and see!

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3. 6 Tips Sebelum Anda Berwisata ke Kalimantan

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Sebelum anda berwisata ke Kalimantan, cobalah untuk mendengarkan dan menyimak tips berwisata ke Kalimantan berikut ini.

Ilustrasi Berlibur

Kalimantan adalah sebuah pulau yang sangat luas sehingga anda harus memiliki beberapa pengetahuan seputar objek wisata dan bagaimana berwisata ke Kalimantan agar anda bisa mempersiapkan segala sesuatunya dengan lebih baik.
Setiap daerah memiliki keunikan dan persiapan yang berbeda sebelum anda memulai perjalanan. Kalimantan yang memiliki daerah yang sangat luas dan memiliki provinsi-provinsi serta daerah-daerah yang dipisahkan oleh jalan yang cukup jauh dan melewati banyak hutan membuat anda harus ekstra dalam mempersiapkan segala sesuatunya.
Berikut adalah beberapa tips berwisata ke Kalimantan yang harus anda simak.
1.       Stamina
Hal pertama yang harus anda siapkan sebelum anda melakukan tour wisata di Kalimantan adalah stamina. stamina sangat penting karena perjalanan anda tidak akan dekat, melainkan sangat jauh. pulau Kalimantan yang luas menuntut stamina ekstra karena medan yang akan anda tempuh terkadang tidak semulus di Jawa atau di beberapa daerah seperti Bali. Selain itu, Kalimantan juga banyak memanfaatkan transportasi air sehingga anda harus terbiasa dengan hal tersebut.
2.       Tour guide
Bisa dipastikan bahwa objek wisata di Kalimantan jaraknya sangat jauh dan membutuhkan perjalanan yang tidak sebentar. oleh sebab itu, guide mutlak dibutuhkan apabila anda ingin pergi ke suatu tempat yang belum anda kenal. Biarkan tour guide membimbing anda dan dengarkanlah arahan yang diberikan olehnya. Karena beberapa wilayah Kalimantan cenderung berbahaya.
Transportasi air misalnya, beberapa sungai memiliki arus yang deras sehingga membutuhkan kehati-hatian ekstra. tidak hanya itu mungkin beberapa tempat juga yang akan anda datangi adalah tempat dimana terdapat banyak binatang buas dan lain sebagainya. Oleh karena itu, cobalah untuk mengenali daerah yang akan anda tuju terlebih dahulu dengan menggali informasi seputar objek wisata tersebut.
3.       Offroad
Kalimantan, tidak sama dengan pulau Jawa dan pulau Bali, jalan-jalan di pulau Kalimantan tidak sebaik jalan yang anda temukan di Pulau Jawa. Di beberapa wilayah Kalimantan, jalannya masih cukup memprihatinkan sehingga anda harus memiliki stamina dan persiapan ekstra. Jika anda berencana keluar kota, misalnya masuk ke wilayah kampung-kampung, maka anda membutuhkan mobil dengan kemampuan yang mumpuni untuk offroad. Selain itu, mungkin motor adalah alternatif kedua yang bisa anda gunakan selain mobil. Motor jenis trail sangat cocok apabila digunakan untuk berpetualang di Kalimantan.
4.       Sepatu boot
Jika anda ingin menjelajah di Kalimantan maka sepatu boot adalah perlengkapan yang harus anda bahwa karena Kalimantan banyak memiliki tanah gambut dan tanah liat. Pada musim hujan biasanya banyak jalan yang kondisinya tidak terlalu baik dan becek.
5.       Losion anti nyamuk
Lotion anti nyamuk tidak boleh anda lupakan jika anda berkunjung ke Kalimantan. Hutan yang masih banyak mengelilingi pulau Kalimantan adalah salah satu faktor mengapa nyamuk merupakan momok utama di tempat ini. Jika anda berencana berkunjung ke suatu tempat maka anda wajib membekali diri anda dengan lotion anti nyamuk.
6.       Cenderamata
Jika anda berkunjung ke suatu tempat, cinderamata adalah sebuah keharusan bukan?
Kalimantan timur memiliki ciri khas dan cendramata yang sedikit unik seperti mandau, kerajinan dari manik-manik, dan dan sumpit serta tatoo. Sedangkan jika anda berkunjung ke Kalimantan barat, di sana kemungkinan besar anda bisa membeli Replika Tugu Khatulistiwa, serta beberapa hiasan manik-manik. Kalimantan juga memiliki batik khas Kalimantan dengan corak khusus.

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4. the commander

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5. Sweet Doodles & New Painted Flowers

Managed to do a bit of doodling this week in my moleskine journal. Have no idea of why candy emerged from my mind, but, there you go.





This doodle below is of a few of the many ideas that popped into a mind obviously looking forward to spring, though admittedly I've actually enjoyed the winter so far. Strangely enough.





I've also squeezed in the time to refresh my Painted Flowers from last year (pink and red), and work on a new colour variation (orange and yellow), also pretty and joyful for the coming spring ...





And added a coordinating pattern with just the ferns and the dots, to accompany the collection:




The Painted Flowers are all being uploaded to my stores these few days, and as soon as that's done I'll post a few of the gifts and cards over at my Floating Lemons Treats blog, so keep an eye out for them!


Newsletter News:

I've decided to extend the availability of my 2014 "I Choose" free printables until the next newsletter is posted out to subscribers on Saturday 7th February 2015. So if you'd like to download the whole series or any one of the months from last year, you have another week in which to do so! Just sign up for the newsletter HERE if you haven't already done so, or on the top left of this page.

Have a wonderful & joyful week. Cheers.



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6. Environmental Installation by Ra Paulette - WOW

Ra Paulette creates art-filled caves from the sandstone mountains in Northern New Mexico. They are stunning and wondrous. This is art for art's sake and so inspiring. Click the image to watch the CBS Sunday Morning story on YouTube:

There's also a movie called "The CaveDigger" - a three-year-long documentary of Ra working - if you'd like to learn more. Visit his website for more information.

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7. ICYMI Aim Higher: Outgrow Old Goals and Set New Ones

Last week Tara, Betsy, Dana, Anna, Stacey and I wrote about the importance of having writing goals for your students: how to set them, how to keep track of them, how to make them visible, and how to make them a part of your daily classroom life. In cased you missed it, here's a round up of our posts.

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8. Angel Kisses

Angel Kystt Portrait-01

As a child my mother told me that whenever an angel kissed me, that they left behind a freckle. This image is in honor of my mother. May we all have angels on our shoulders.


Technically it required almost every trick and technique known to Adobe Illustrator.

There are hand built brushes, multiple appearances on a single path, gradients, gradient meshes, variable widths, masking, blends, offset paths and more.

Just for fun, I want to show you the path work behind the scenes.

Screen Shot 2015-02-01 at 8.02.05 AM


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9. The Gift of an Open Mind

Freedom is an interesting thing. We know it’s concept and we get the gist of it all, but many of us are busy functioning amidst our daily routines and we think of freedoms only on their grandest of scale. We are grateful for the rights we have living in a free Country, but we don’t think about the smaller freedoms. The freedoms that our routines, namely being stuck to them, may be stripping away from us.
think free art illustration
[From my Instagram]
Routine. Trust me, I’m like you and love a good routine. Routines are good, they keep us focused and working towards goals; consistency is the foundation of every major accomplishment. We NEED certain routines, yet routines are a tricky double edged sword.

Routines keep you focused. Routines can also hold your prisoner. The issues that dictate which is which are: the routine, the basis for it, and how much flexibility you allow yourself within it.

I can parallel this to running because it’s an easy example; training should become a routine. You need to KNOW you’re going to do it, don’t think of it like a ‘maybe’, you know your goals and you know you need to be consistent to reach them. You need that routine to keep you focused because running and training is hard. Frankly it’s painful and there will be times when you need to know you’re going to just have to put your head down and grind through. BUT, there are times when grinding will only leave you a broken, dull stone, so there needs to be a degree of flexibility. There are times when rather than pushing you need to step back.

Freedom outside your routine is also a state of mind. Being so busy usually means you’re perpetually distracted, or so focused on the task at hand you’re not opening yourself up to anything else. PAUSE. A mere pause, and opening yourself up to the possibility of…well, the possible.

You can’t see an opportunity if your eyes aren’t even open. What’s funnier still is that when you’re busily distracted you’re not even aware of the potential that you’re missing something!

That’s not some kind of riddle there, and it’s meaning is only best exemplified through actual experience. If you’ve had a moment where you cognitively shifted your focus, veered slightly outside your routine, and you had a MOMENT, experienced something unexpected that just, made you smile. That momentous experience of freedom is what I’m describing.

You chose to be free and in that moment you opened yourself up to have that smile….however small the experience was that brought it to your face.

You see, to get that smile, that satisfaction, doesn’t require you to veer wildly off course to the point where you recklessly abandon all goals or tasks at hand. No, it can be as simple as putting the other shoe on first…the tiniest change of routine just to show yourself that you CAN do it out of order. Who knows, you may like it. Just knowing you CAN often causes a much larger shift in perspective. You wonder what else you CAN do.

So be free. Think with an open and free mind. I challenge you to do tiny things outside of your routine and see if, by Jove, you like it.

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10. Small Dog Cover

Small Dog_cover 4 copy-01a

Children’s picture book art is stunning. Children’s picture book stories are amazing. I love that there are usually layers of meaning, and that each viewer and reader can take away from the story exactly what they need to see and hear. I have long had a fascination with fables. I adore the metaphors.

Small Dog is a children’s picture book that I wrote and am now illustrating. Using sparse words and rhyme the story unfolds to reveal that gratitude is far more than simply saying thank-you. With gratitude you can change your life.



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christopher john farley


Many people may know, and recognize Christopher J. Farley as the Senior Editor for the Wall Street Journal, where he penned informative editorials, and conducted numerous interviews with famous actors and musicians. Today, we want to spotlight Mr. Farley for his work in children’s literature, as author of GAME WORLD, a  middle-grade fantasy novel loaded with diverse characters and adventure!

On this, the 1st Day of February, 2015, The Brown Bookshelf is honored to spotlight:


Born in Kingston, Jamaica, and raised in Brockport, New York, Christopher John Farley is a former music critic and senior editor for Time magazine, and a graduate of Harvard University, where he worked as an editor on the staff of the Harvard Lampoon. He’s currently a senior editor at the Wall Street Journal. Christopher John Farley is the author of “Game World,” a children’s fantasy adventure tale which Kirkus Reviews called “Exhilarating, thought-provoking and one of a kind” and The Wall Street Journal dubbed “Narnia for the social media generationGameworld-e1420131739477.” He is also the author of two novels for adults, “My Favorite War” and “Kingston by Starlight,” and a number of nonfiction books including the national bestseller “Aaliyah: More than a Woman,” which was adapted into a hit movie for Lifetime television. Farley co-wrote and co-edited the book “The Blues” (Harper Collins) the companion volume to Martin Scorsese’s PBS documentary series (Scorsese called him a “great biographer and critic”). Farley’s short fiction has been featured in a number of anthologies including “The Vintage Book of War Fiction,” a survey of the best war stories of the last 100 years, and “Kingston Noir,” a short story collection that came out in 2012. Farley was a consulting producer for “Mr. Dynamite: The Rise of James Brown,” a critically-acclaimed HBO documentary on soul singer James Brown. He has won numerous awards for his work including honors from the National Association of Black Journalists and the Deadline Club of New York, and his biography “Before the Legend: The Rise of Bob Marley” was nominated for an NAACP Image Award. *



From School Library Journal:

here (finally!) is a middle-grade action novel that showcases West Indian mythology and features protagonists of color: an Afro-Caribbean boy, Hispanic-Caribbean boy who also is a wheelchair user, and a Korean girl.

From Booklist:

Farley blends video gaming and Jamaican folklore in this intense, fast-paced middle-grade fantasy that is sure to quickly grab readers.


Thank you, Christopher Farley, for your contribution to children’s literature!


Learn more about Christopher J. Farley at his website:  http://cjfarley.com

You can also follow him on twitter:  http://https://twitter.com/cjfarley





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12. Dancing in the Moonlight

Dancing in the Moonlight-01

Working on this piece allowed me to explore more methods of adding the illusion of texture to flat vector imagery. The lighting was also a lot of fun to build. To add the look of rim lighting required the use of gradients and the feather effect. This chimpanzee (like most of my characters) is basically a “puppet.” His body is composed of a series of separate shapes that can be moved for any type of gesture needed.

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13. 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #417: FeaturingUp-and-Coming Illustrator, Molly Walsh

It’s the first Sunday of the month, which means I invite a student illustrator or recent grad to visit 7-Imp, and today I’ve got the latter. Molly Walsh graduated in 2013 from RISD, and she’s here today to share art and tell us a bit about herself.

Without further ado …

Molly: Hello! My name is Molly Walsh, and I am an illustrator living on Cape Cod. I graduated in 2013 with a degree in Illustration from Rhode Island School of Design.



I work by day as a designer at a gift company in Cape Cod and, by night, as a freelance illustrator. I love creating art for decoration, but my first love is telling stories, large or small, through my illustration. Inspiration for my illustrations could come from something as small as a little detail from a friend’s story to something as large as trying to sum up an entire concept or emotion in one image. My love of nature and goofy characters also have a way of creeping into the images I make.



I started working in my current style toward the end of my time at RISD. I had been making 3D sculptures as a way to compensate for my lack of confidence in my drawing skills. Sculpting somehow gave me a better understanding of shapes and lighting, and I began drawing and painting again to save time. (Funny how that works!)



One of my professors, Fred Lynch, was of great help to me settling into a style that suited my voice as an illustrator. I do most of my work in watercolor and gouache, though my surface design job has taught me a great deal about digital media, which I’ve started incorporating into my work.



My current sketchbook is full of doodles and sloppily-written ideas for future projects, both somewhat formed idea for series and comics, as well as notes about “great ideas” I’ve written myself while half asleep. (The other day I found the words “Gastronaut — astronaut with gas” written on one page.) Looking forward, I hope to find more opportunities to tell both my own stories, as well as the stories and ideas of others through freelance work for books and magazines. Illustration is a wonderful, exciting thing, and I hope to use this power for good!



All artwork here is reproduced by permission of Molly Walsh.

Note for any new readers: 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks is a weekly meeting ground for taking some time to reflect on Seven(ish) Exceptionally Fabulous, Beautiful, Interesting, Hilarious, or Otherwise Positive Noteworthy Things from the past week, whether book-related or not, that happened to you. New kickers are always welcome.

* * * Jules’ Kicks * * *

1) I love the characters in Molly’s work. Also I love: “Illustration is a wonderful, exciting thing, and I hope to use this power for good!” (P.S. The last illustration up there is from Ray Bradbury’s “All Summer in a Day,” which is something like the third or fourth illustration I’ve shared at 7-Imp from that story, which used to HAUNT me as a child. I’m starting a 7-Imp trend.)

2) Yesterday, we saw a stage adaptation at the Nashville Children’s Theatre of Mo Willems’ Elephant & Piggie stories. It was fun. Here’s a bit of what it was like:

3) I talked to a big group of second-graders at a school in Nashville this week about favorite 2014 picture books and Caldecott contenders, and it was a thing of beauty to hear their strong opinions. Those lucky kids have some great teachers and librarians.

4) Oh, and the Twitter chat this week with Metro Nashville School librarians was fun too.

5) Author-illustrator Lori Nichols is going to come have breakfast at 7-Imp when life slows down and sent this preview of us in the meantime:

6) It’s neat to see friends’ photos on Facebook from ALA Midwinter.

7) Speaking of kick #2, my New Year’s resolution (though I don’t usually do resolutions) was to see more live theatre, so hey, I’m not doing too badly.

What are YOUR kicks this week?

4 Comments on 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #417: FeaturingUp-and-Coming Illustrator, Molly Walsh, last added: 2/1/2015
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14. the after gift of publishing the South Street/Folk Art Story

Once each month I contribute a story and photographs to the Philadelphia Inquirer, stories about the intersection of memory and place. Most recently I traveled back to the Gaskill Street trinity I'd shared with my husband early in our marriage and remembered, with the help of Julia Zagar of Eye's Gallery and Isaiah Zagar fame, the neighborhood and its evolution. I wanted to know what parts of my memory could be validated. I wanted to know, among other things, how others remembered the wow of art that lived just down the street from me—the rag-rug lady, the Christmas party thrower, the man who had painted his car, his street, his telephone pole the colors of Woodstock.

Had it all been just a dream?

I meandered, took photos, wrote, and the Inquirer published that story here.

After that, the story kept changing.

Friends and strangers got in touch with memories of the rag-rug lady I'd mentioned in the tale. Others remembered, for me, parades. Others said, I live there now or I lived there then. Reconstitutions. Plastic memory.

And then this past Thursday, I returned from a job to a phone message from a certain Ruth Drake, now living in Woodstock, New York. Call me, she said.

So I did.

Ruth Drake, as it turns out, held all the missing pieces of my story.  She had been told by a friend about the Inquirer spread. She had heard, in the lines read to her over the phone, reference to the man she had married and loved—that artist referred to, in my story, as Bud Franklin.

My husband, Ruth Drake said. (Bud) Franklin Drake.

And there it was—the full name I'd been searching for. And there was more, now, so much more, that Ruth was saying—about her husband's degrees from the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, about his one-man shows, about that crazy car with the mattress spring crown and the flower-power colors that was parked out on our street. Ruth remembered with me the rag-rug lady—Ella, she said, who had been raised in a lighthouse. She affirmed the existence of the man who had lived across the street and filled his home with a Christmas tree so huge it had to be stuffed in through an upstairs window. She said that Bud had planted morning glories in a pot on their stoop and encouraged them to grow skyward, and oh, how they did. She said that she, Ruth, had gone off each morning with her corporate gloves to her corporate work and then come home to Bud's great spirit.

We'd been neighbors all those years ago. He'd painted the neighborhood, even painted a bump on the street. He'd led parades. His art was his power. I was young and watched, an outsider. I didn't know half of how lucky I was to be there then.

(Bud) Franklin Drake lived a fascinating life. Ruth hinted at the details as we spoke. At years spent in Manhattan while Ruth worked on Wall Street. At a painted Cadillac limo that attracted the eye of (among many others) the Rolling Stones. At the Drakes' colorful entry to Philadelphia in that same Caddy—Mayor Rizzo's police surrounding that car until well-heeled Ruth and her petite mother emerged and asked, sweetly, "Is there some trouble, officers?"

There was so much to tell, and Ruth told it so well, and I promised I would complete my Gaskill Street story here. (Bud) Franklin Drake wasn't just the wild-hearted artist on a street where I lived years ago. He was a well-respected, studio-famous artist whose work can still be found here, on the Franklin Drake Gallery.

Often it's not the words we write that make the difference. It's the conversations they stir.

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15. ‘How to Train Your Dragon 2′ and Mickey Mouse Shorts Dominate Annie Awards

After a difficult week for DreamWorks in which they announced their largest layoff ever, the studio dominated the Annie Awards tonight.

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16. WIP suite et fin ..

La fin de mon petit crayonné.

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17. Literary prizes in ... India

       In The Hindu Jaya Bhattacharji Rose considers whether: 'Indian literary prizes set literary standards', in The prize is right ?
       Neat to hear, at least, that:

An award for a translated book has a simultaneous impact in two languages says Mini Krishnan, editor-translations, OUP. "A classic case is Bama's Karukku translated by Lakshmi Holmstrom. That Crossword Prize in 2001 changed Bama's life. I think there must be over 100 MPhils on the book and many Tamil Dalit works were picked up for translation in English after that. ... When a translation wins a prize, the sales of the original also picks up."
       (See the Oxford University Press publicity page for the recent second edition of Karukku, or get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.)
       Too bad, then, that there aren't more literary prizes in India that reward or even just consider translations -- disappointingly, The Hindu's own Literary Prize excludes them ..... Read the rest of this post

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18. The Bingo

We didn’t see it as a line drawn in the sand at first. Roy hired Eldon, Ruth’s nephew, just before the bingo started. Aunt Ruth saved him from returning to a life of petty crime and jail with a kitchen helper job. If Roy hadn’t fought with Ruth, his wife, who worked at his diner that night, things might have stayed quiet for a while longer. It was bound to explode, but maybe it could have been a little less volatile. And deadly. No one could ever figure out why Roy and Ruth were together. It wasn’t physical attraction. They fought constantly and enjoyed showing the other up in front of everyone. None of us at the counter could imagine them making love without grimacing. Roy had let himself go, sampled too many fries, drank too much beer. The diner had taken over his life. He even smelled greasy outside of the diner. Ruth was putting on the beef as well. She had a shrill voice that grated on everyone’s nerves. We only heard it peak when they were busy. Eldon hung around the back, chain smoking when he wasn’t scurrying around the kitchen following orders. He had a shaved head and some jailhouse tattoos on skinny, big veined arms. Geordie and I sat at the counter one morning and witnessed the birth of the bingo. We were waiting for Ruth to check the last of her lottery tickets. When she had counted up her losses, to hear her tell it, she served us our second coffees. There was a gathering of women at the table in the corner. It was unusual to see the female diner regulars sitting anywhere but at the counter next to us. They talked to each other and ignored us. It was the first meeting of their bingo committee. The women must have talked about it before, somewhere else. Roy brought the morning paper to the counter open at the picture of that day’s beauty. She was beautiful all right. Not wearing much either. Neither Geordie nor I had attempted relations with a woman for so long, it was as if we’d forgotten about sex. Roy had a way of leering at the pictures, every morning, which was probably similar to ours in our younger days. These days, when he did his little act, it was hard for us to watch. We didn’t think he was so attracted to the pictures, he was just doing it to get under Ruth’s skin. Geordie rolled his eyes at me and smiled at Roy. The licking of his chops and the quick glance down at his greasy apron were too much for customers who didn’t know Roy. One man, standing at the cash to pay, watched Roy ogle the picture and dirty dance to the kitchen, his big, old belly undulating beneath his apron. The man observed him as if he was watching a lunatic. He was wondering if Roy had cooked his ham and eggs. Gladys, Caroline and Linda were the three regulars sitting at the table. They had a pile of papers and looked like they knew what they were doing. Linda had already done most of the paperwork about licences and permits. Gladys was an old farm wife with a brood of kids, grown up and settled elsewhere. We heard one got into trouble and ended up in jail, but we kept our noses out of other peoples’ business. Gladys’ husband, Hubert, died a few years ago. She figured she did her part, putting up with him and his farmer ways and the kids were on their own. She was enjoying her freedom, doing her thing. Caroline’s driven the school bus ever since her husband died. She sounded like a rough, old trucker and drank everyone under the table on special occasions at the Legion. We suspected that there was a female part to her, aside from the obvious ones. She hadn’t lost a kid from the bus yet though. Geordie’s son, Cliff, a cop, told us that she was really a sweet old thing. He said the kids trusted her more than their parents and teachers. Linda had retired and moved here from out west. Nobody knew much about her. We couldn’t figure out her age. Roy took a long look at her rear end and legs when she wore shorts in the summer, licked his lips, rolled his eyes and attempted some pelvic thrusts beneath his big, round apron. We saw Ruth catch Roy in his act. She got that angry glare on her face and wouldn’t speak to him for the rest of the morning. It wasn’t as if Ruth was jealous, every sign pointed to her not caring what Roy did. She laughed at him when he made a mistake with the orders and enjoyed telling everyone at the counter, especially Linda, about her husband’s latest screw up. It was more like she didn’t want competition from Linda. If she only knew: there was no competition, Linda was much better looking and younger. Some mornings, Linda watched, with a steady stare, Roy do his act with the morning paper. While Geordie and I were cringing with embarrassment, Gladys and Caroline chatted. They had seen Roy do his thing so often, they didn’t even notice. Roy took Linda’s stare as a sign of interest. Ruth saw how foolish Roy looked. Linda, Gladys and Caroline were like peas in a pod when you gave them a coffee and a place to sit. The bingo really fired them up. They were gung ho to get started. Ruth got involved in the bingo, too. Anything Linda did, she criticized or tried to do one better. Even though the others had done all the work, she insisted on being consulted about everything. Ruth had been at the diner for years and here was this newcomer organizing a bingo. Everyone knew bingos didn’t work around here, there was no support. Ruth figured that everyone around her was poor. But she had no trouble sleeping at night when she took their tips. She thought that the world was doomed. We couldn’t argue with her there, but she didn’t have to be so gloomy about everything, every time she opened her mouth. We had to survive, somehow. Laughter seemed better than complaints nobody listened to. The regulars at the diner found Linda to be someone new and interesting. She had strong opinions but she was happy just to fit in with the others. Ruth knew that she, herself, wasn’t interesting enough to hold the attention of the regulars without the coffee pot in her hand. She repeated each new piece of gossip so that it was old by the end of the day. It drove Roy and the regulars crazy. Geordie and I sensed Ruth’s smouldering jealousy over Linda’s popularity, but it was none of our business. We played cards, euchre, on Tuesday nights, at the Legion. There were four tables of four, sometimes five. It was an excuse to drink while we played. They showed up on a Tuesday night when we were just getting started. Linda led them straight into the Legion with the bingo machine, sheets of cards, change box and everything. Geordie and I were about to protest, when Jack appeared. Jack Lawson was the president of the Legion. He approved of the bingo, a potential money maker and told us so. We had to move our card game to the other room. We were upset by this interruption of our routine and did our share of grousing when we went to pick up our next rounds at the bar. The euchre games lost a little charm when speakers droned, “Under the B, fifteen” or “under the N, thirty five”, in the background. At first, there were a lot of sudden attacks of deafness at our tables. The players raised their voices to speak over the bingo noise. Gradually, it calmed down. There was less interference once we got used to it. Jack came to sit down at our table later. He told us that he had refused to cover the bingo losses if they didn’t have a good turnout. He’d back them, once they showed a profit. It was business, pure and simple. We realized, after talking with Jack, that having a money maker around was a good thing. Ruth was there from the start. From the sound of it, the next morning at the diner, she did everything she could to disrupt the proceedings. Relations were frosty between Ruth and Linda. The bingo had been a modest success in spite of Ruth’s interference. She was mad, Linda quietly triumphant. Roy loved it. Geordie and I ate our usual breakfasts listening to the women at the counter. They were attacking Ruth that day. She had crossed the line at the bingo. We had an extra cup of coffee and read the paper twice so we could listen to them tear down Ruth. I don’t think that there’s much doubt anymore, about the notion that women are more vicious than men. After we heard what they had to say about Ruth, there was no doubt for us. They’d smile and change the subject when Ruth approached with the coffee pot. They made small talk with her while she topped up their cups. When she was out of earshot, they resumed the attack. Sounded to us like Ruth had ruffled a few feathers by being a little too bossy at the bingo. It was the second Tuesday night bingo at the Legion. There were five tables for our euchre game. The bingo organizers, led by Linda, all carrying sheets of cards, got there early. Ruth was still working with Roy back at the diner. The games went well for us. Geordie and I were cleaning up. There was a good crowd for the bingo in the other room. The buzz of their chatter subsided as Linda, the caller, started each new game. When there was a winner, Gladys called back the numbers to Linda and Caroline paid. We heard the first disturbance after a lot of cheering from the bingo side, figured somebody had won the jackpot. Geordie was returning to our table with the quarts when a loud bang froze everyone. It was the sound of a gun. The Legion is full of old soldiers and hunters. The old soldiers hit the deck, the hunters jumped to see what was going on. “Hey, stop right there” We heard the female voice clearly. I peeked around Geordie, who was also hiding under the table soaked in beer and saw Linda fire the gun. We heard the body drop and screams. I saw Linda stand up, put the revolver down on the table and walk toward the body. Silence at the euchre tables broke into excited whispers. “Holdup. Robbery” The words bounced around the room. “Mask” Ruth arrived at this point, glanced at us rising from the wet floor and kept going into the bingo room, a worried expression on her face. There were more than a few legionnaires regurgitating their beer when they saw the mess that Linda had made. She must have hit a blood vessel when she shot him. There was blood on the hysterical women sitting at the table beside the body, a mess on the floor. The guy was still masked. Jack Lawson pulled the sticky balaclava up far enough on the guy’s head to reveal Eldon’s face. There was no breath left in him. They tried to revive him while we waited for the ambulance but there was no hope. Eldon had tried to rob the bingo at gun point. He fired his weapon once into the air. He was leaving with the cash when Linda stood up and told him to stop. She pointed her gun at him, he pointed his at her, and that was it, she fired. It didn’t make Linda feel any better when it was discovered that he was using a harmless starter pistol. It looked real enough, one cop who knew Geordie confided. Ruth blanched when she saw Eldon’s face. She stared at Linda, looked at the body on the floor and sat down. The next morning, the diner was buzzing about the happenings at the Legion. Linda arrived late. She had been talking to police, reporters and her lawyer. There would be an autopsy and a trial. With so many witnesses to the attempted robbery, she would be cleared of the charges. Linda entered the diner like a conquering hero. We applauded her. Eldon didn’t have any family, except for Ruth, in the east. She shipped the body to Vancouver. It only took a day of her time. She was back at work that week. It came out later, through the press, that Linda was a retired cop. She had worked undercover for years and carried a licenced weapon all the time. Nobody knew it, but she went to target practice at the shooting range on the weekends. She had seen all of their hard work go for naught when that boy scooped up their bingo money. When he pointed his gun at her, it was instinctive to shoot. She didn’t think about killing him. It was cut and dried with Linda. She regretted Eldon’s death, but he was the bad guy. Geordie and I were treated to a visit, by Cliff, one night at the Legion. He let it slip, as we watched the hockey game, that Ruth was being investigated. None of the cops thought that even Eldon was dumb enough to risk everything for the small amount of money at the bingo. They figured he was put up to it by his aunt. They didn’t know why, what her motivation was, but they thought she was behind it. One thing for sure, Cliff told us, without Ruth’s confession, they couldn’t prove it. Ruth paid particular attention to Linda after that bingo. She served her first among the counter people, her coffee cup was always full. It was impossible for Linda not to know that Ruth was suspected by the cops. Roy wore a hunted look, like he was confused, not sure where he stood. He checked out the morning paper in the kitchen. We heard that Ruth had left the diner on the night of the bingo, in a huff, after a big fight with Roy. Maybe it was enough to push her over the line. Maybe her jealousy and anger caused her to put the kid up to it, to make Linda look bad. Unfortunate for young Eldon, her dead nephew. Geordie and I watched and listened. We knew that Ruth knew that Linda knew. Ruth attended the bingos but she didn’t boss anyone around any more. Linda watched Ruth fill our cups at the counter and listened to her repeat tidbits of gossip. We saw their eyes, Linda’s steady gaze, Ruth’s furtive glances, meet. That was when we saw it as a line drawn in the sand.

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19. Icelandic Booksellers' Prize 2014

       They actually announced the winners of the Icelandic Booksellers' Prize over a month ago but I missed that -- but they just handed out the prizes a few days ago -- see, for example, the Iceland Review report --, so that's good enough a reason and occasion to make note of them now.
       Öræfi, by Ófeigur Sigurðsson, took the novel prize; see the Forlagið publicity page.

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20. Holiday Inspirations ~ an idea ‘borrowed’ from Claudine at Carry Us Off Books.

I always enjoy the Pinterest Inspirations posts over at Carry Us Off Books and thought it would be a nice way to show you what I did on my blogging holiday.








Besides enjoying all the lovely things pictured above I've joined a pilates class and taken up walking for at least an hour a day. My bookselling life is a happy one, but it’s also very sedentary, so I’m determined to get just a little fitter in 2015.  Are you sticking to your new year resolutions?  

Thank you for all the lovely comments left on my blog while I've been away. I will be over to visit you very soon. 

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21. Universal Bureau of Copyrights review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Bertrand Laverdure's unusual little novel, Universal Bureau of Copyrights.

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22. How to be more creative everyday.


As inspired and creatively enthusiastic as we are, there are times when we can’t be as fully creative as we want to be. Whether you’re a creative pro taking a break after long hours at the drawing board, working a day job during the day or you’ve got to take time away from your creative life because of school. These things happened and we have to prioritize other things over our creativity.

However have you found when the pencils, paint brushes, graphics tablet or camera are put down, we don’t quite know what to do with ourselves. We’re creatively restless and eager to do anything but relax or what we’re supposed to. So to sooth your creative side whilst taking a break or trying to focus on other life to-do’s, here are a few small ways you can be creative in even the smallest ways everyday:

  1. Doodle while you’re on the phone ( comes in handy when you’re stuck on hold)
  2. Write a quirky quote as your twitter or facebook
  3. Doodle on the fridge ( grab a black wipe away board pen and have fun)
  4. Snap some pictures on your phone whilst you’re on your travels
  5. Write or draw something quirky in the sand or snow ( if you have snow where you are!)
  6. Doodle on your ipad whilst sitting on the bus or train
  7. Grab a pack of sticky notes and jot down your creativity anywhere ( maybe leave it for someone else to find?)
  8. Doodle on a napkin whilst you’re in that coffee shop whilst waiting for a friend or meeting.
  9. Sketch what you wore that day ( if you’re a lover of fashion)
  10. Find inspiration in the little things and make a quick 2 minute sketch of it ( it might become an illustration or pattern later on)
What do you do everyday to stay that little bit creative?

Image by illustrator Rhianna Wurman, you can find out more about there work here.

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23. Best New Kids Stories | February 2015

If you're hooked on Kid President then this month is your month for new release kids books. This month's selection of best new kids books includes Kid President's Guide to Being Awesome and Richelle Mead's conclusion to the Bloodlines series.

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24. Meet Kate Shackleton

Dying in the Wool. (Kate Shackleton #1) Frances Brody. 2009/2012. Minotaur Books. 368 pages. [Source: Library]

Did I love Dying in the Wool? No, not really. I had hoped to love it since it's a cozy mystery set in England in the 1920s. But I merely liked it instead of LOVING it.

The novel introduces the private detective, Kate Shackleton. She's a widow; her husband was a soldier who died during the war. Since the war, she's helped--usually without a fee--people find out what happened to their missing loved ones. Her other hobby is photography.

In Dying in the Wool, Kate Shackleton has her first paying case to solve. Her friend--her acquaintance--Tabitha is getting married in a month or two. Her father, a mill owner, disappeared in 1916. Some people strongly feel he's dead--likely suicide. Other people feel strongly that he's just ran off, probably with a woman to start a new life. Tabitha wants answers. Are the people in the village of Bridgestead keeping secrets? And can Kate and her ex-policeman partner (Jim Sykes) get people to talking? Will this case be easy or difficult? Is it dangerous to ask the wrong questions even after all these years?

I liked the setting just fine. I did. I liked Kate Shackleton and her partner, though I wish we'd had more of him. Would I have liked this one more if I'd found more of the characters likable? Perhaps. Probably. I really just felt this one had so many despicable characters in it. I hardly liked anyone! And it is NOT a clean read. I was hoping it would be a bit cleaner. That probably kept me from loving this one too.

Medal for Murder. (Kate Shackleton #2) Frances Brody. 2010/2013. Minotaur Books. 432 pages. [Source: Library]

Did I love Medal for Murder? I think maybe I did. At the very least I liked it so much more than the first book in the series. (I think I might have not been in the right and proper mood to enjoy/appreciate Dying in the Wool.)

Kate Shackleton and Jim Sykes have been asked by a pawn shop owner to investigate a robbery, and to discreetly visit the owners of the stolen (pawned) items. Sykes visits some. Kate visits some.

But Kate's passion isn't with finding missing things, it's finding missing persons. And within a day or two of her arrival, she does indeed have a person to track down.

I may have liked this one more because of its theatrical themes. The missing girl--woman, I should say--is an actress. She disappeared after the last performance of the play at the local theatre. Her disappearance wasn't the only strange and unhappy event that night....

I really did enjoy this one very much. It was a quick read! I really started to like the characters, especially Kate and Jim and Inspector Charles.

Murder in the Afternoon. (Kate Shackleton #3) Frances Brody. 2011/2014. Minotaur Books. 400 pages.  [Source: Library]

I am definitely enjoying this mystery series. I may have started the series hesitant, but, by the third book, it is love. I've enjoyed each book in the series a little bit more.

Mary Jane Armstrong comes to Kate Shackleton early one morning begging her to help find her missing husband. Her daughter, Harriet, had found him dead on Saturday evening. However, by the time she'd returned with an adult--the body was gone. NO ONE in their town/village had believed her. "She's just a girl after all...and everyone knows that girls make up stories for fun." That's the logic that Kate Shackleton is up against. Kate does believe Harriet's story. And though she has the mother's support--seemingly strong support--in the case, she's having a hard time of it since no one in the community wants to talk to her about the supposed crime.

But as readers can imagine, things are not as they appear. Danger remains so long as the murderer remains free.

This one is a nice addition to the series. Readers learn more about Kate's background. And Inspector Charles is definitely coming to be a love interest!

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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25. Carl Djerassi (1923-2015)

       Carl Djerassi has passed away; see, for example, The New York Times' obituary.
       Best-known for his impressive work as a scientist, he also tried to write fiction (and drama) dealing with a variety of scientific issues -- a different kind of science-fiction. I read quite a bit of it, and while little that he produced was really memorable, most of it was at least fairly entertaining and decently thought-provoking -- certainly good stuff for the scientifically interested kids.
       Check out, for example, The Bourbaki Gambit (get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk) or Cantor's Dilemma (get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk).

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