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Results 26 - 50 of 664,091
26. STORE SNAPS - anthropologie

Whilst in Selfridges last Friday I found they had an Anthropologie concession so it was a nice chance to snap some of their latest products. Anthropologie have been working with an artist I really admire : Starla Michelle who creates the most beautifully colourful flowers and animals. Her artworks have been used on textiles, plates, wall art and an entire alphabet of pretty monogrammed mugs. I

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27. Ways for Caregivers To Support Children’s Writing Lives

Feel free to add on or share some ideas of how caregivers can support children's writerly lives.

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28. Friday Feature: Fading Into the Shadows Cover Reveal


I'm so excited to share the cover of Fading Into the Shadows because I actually designed it myself and I'm thrilled with how it turned out. Check it out!


When sixteen-year-old Ella Andrews’s best friend, Avery, goes missing, she’ll do anything to get him back—starting with punching the no-brain cop who couldn’t care less about the disappearance. 

Ella’s convinced Avery’s been kidnapped, and she tries everything to find him—even following a strange shadow to another world where the constellations are real-life figures in the sky. But three star groups have fallen and are destroying the world. 

The fallen constellations are not the only enemy. Melanie, the princess of Stellaris, is forcing Ella, Avery, and an army of other kids kidnapped from their world to fight the rogue constellations, even as the land is draining away their life. The longer they stay, the more they fade into substanceless shadows—a fate worse than death.

Can Ella save Stellaris before there’s nothing left of her and Avery?

Preorder your copy here.

I love the full spread too! This cover was so much fun to design, but I admit it was a lot of work.



e-ARCs are also available. If you'd like an e-ARC in exchange for an honest review, click here to sign up.




*Want your YA, NA, or MG book featured on my blog? Contact me here and we'll set it up.

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29. Review of the Day: Snow White by Matt Phelan

snowwhiteSnow White: A Graphic Novel
By Matt Phelan
Candlewick Press
$19.99
ISBN: 978-0-7636-7233-1
Ages 9-12
On shelves now

I’d have said it couldn’t be done. The Snow White fairytale has been told and retold and overdone to death until there’s not much left to do but forget about it entirely. Not that every graphic novel out there has to be based on an original idea. And not that the world is fed up with fairytales now (it isn’t). But when I heard about Matt Phelan’s Snow White: A Graphic Novel I was willing to give it a chance simply because I trusted its creator and not its material. The crazy thing is that even before I picked it up, it threw me for a loop. I heard that the story was recast in 1920s/ early-1930s Depression-era New York City. For longer than I’d care to admit I just sort of sat there, wracking my brain and trying desperately to remember anything I’d ever seen that was similar. I’ve seen fairytales set during the Depression before, but never Snow White. Then I picked the book up and was struck immediately by how beautiful it was. Finally I read through it and almost every element clicked into place like the gears of a clock. I know Matt Phelan has won a Scott O’Dell Award for The Storm in the Barn and I know his books get far and wide acclaim. Forget all that. This book is his piece de resistance. A bit of fairytale telling, to lure in the kids, and a whole whopping dollop of cinematic noir, deft storytelling, and clever creation, all set against a white, wintery backdrop.

The hardened detective thinks he’s seen it all, but that was before he encountered the corpse in the window of a department store, laid out like she was sleeping. No one could account for her. No one except maybe the boy keeping watch from across the street. When the detective asks for the story he doesn’t get what he wants, but we, the readers, do. Back in time we zip to when a little girl lost her mother to illness and later her father fell desperately in love with a dancer widely proclaimed to be the “Queen of the Follies.” Sent away to a boarding school, the girl returns years later when her father has died and his will leaves all his money in a trust to Snow. Blinded by rage, the stepmother (who is not innocent in her husband’s death) calls in a favor with a former stagehand to do away with her pretty impediment, but he can’t do the deed. What follows is a gripping tale the seven street kids that take Snow under their wing (or is it the other way around?), some stage make-up, a syringe, an apple, and an ending so sweet you could have gotten it out of a fairytale.

snowwhite1Let’s get back to this notion I have that the idea of setting Snow White during the Depression in New York is original. It honestly goes above and beyond the era. I could swear I’d never read or seen a version where the seven dwarfs were seven street kids. Or where the evil stepmother was a star of the Ziegfeld Follies. Snow’s run from Mr. Hunt is through Central Park through various shantytowns and he presents the stepmother with a heart that’s a pig’s procured at a butcher. Even making her glass coffin a window at Macy’s, or the magic mirror an insidious ticker tape, feels original and perfectly in keeping with the setting. You begin to wonder how no one else has ever thought to do this before.

You’d also be forgiven for reading the book, walking away, giving it a year, and then remembering it as wordless. It isn’t, but Phelan’s choosy with his wordplay this time. Always a fan of silent sequences, I was struck by the times we do see words. Whether it’s the instructions on the ticker tape (a case could easily be made that these instructions are entirely in the increasingly deranged step-mother’s mind), Snow’s speech about how snow beautifies everything, or the moment when each one of the boys tells her his name, Phelan’s judiciousness makes the book powerful time and time again. Can you imagine what it would have felt like if there had been an omniscient narrator? The skin on the back of my neck shudders at the thought.

For all that the words are few and far between, you often get a very good sense of the characters anyway. Snow’s a little bit Maria Von Trapp and a little bit Mary Poppins to the boys. I would have liked Phelan to give her a bit more agency than, say, Disney did. For example, when her step-mother informs her, after the reading of her father’s will, that her old room is no longer her own, I initially misread Snow’s response to be that she was going out to find a new home on her own. Instead, she’s just going for a walk and gets tracked down by Mr. Hunt in the process. It felt like a missed beat, but not something that sinks the ship. Contrast that with the evil stepmother. Without ever being graphic about it, not even once, this lady just exudes sex. It’s kind of hard to explain. There’s that moment when the old stagehand remembers when he once turned his own body into a step stool so that she could make her grand entrance during a show. There’s also her first entrance in the Follies, fully clothed but so luscious you can understand why Snow’s father would fall for her. The book toys with the notion that the man is bewitched rather than acting of his own accord, but it never gives you an answer to that question one way or another.

snowwhite2Lest we forget, the city itself is also a character. Having lived in NYC for eleven years, I’ve always been very touchy about how it’s portrayed in books for kids. When contemporary books are filled with alleyways it makes me mighty suspicious. Old timey fare gets a pass, though. Clever too of Phelan to set the book during the winter months. As Snow says at one point, “snow covers everything and makes the entire world beautiful . . . This city is beautiful, too. It has its own magic.” So we get Art Deco interiors, and snow covered city tops seen out of huge plate glass windows. We get theaters full of gilt and splendor and the poverty of Hoovervilles in the park, burning trashcans and all. It felt good. It felt right. It felt authentic. I could live there again.

We live in a blessed time for graphic novels. With the recent win of what may well be the first graphic novel to win a National Book Award, they are respected, flourishing, and widely read. Yet for all that, the graphic novels written for children are not always particularly beautiful to the eye. Aesthetics take time. A beautiful comic is also a lot more time consuming than one done freehand in Photoshop. All the more true if that comic has been done almost entirely in watercolors as Phelan has here. I don’t think that there’s a soul alive who could pick up this book and not find it beautiful. What’s interesting is how Phelan balances the Art Deco motifs with the noir-ish scenes and shots. When we think of noir graphic novels we tend to think of those intensely violent and very adult classics like Sin City. Middle grade noir is almost unheard of at this point. Here, the noir is in the tone and feel of the story. It’s far more than just the black and white images, though those help too in their way.

snowwhite3The limited color palette, similar in many ways to The Storm in the Barn with how it uses color, here invokes the movies of the past. He always has a reason, that Matt Phelan. His judicious use of color is sparing and soaked with meaning. The drops of blood, often referred to in the original fairytale as having sprung from the queen’s finger when she pricked herself while sewing, is re-imagined as drops of bright red blood on a handkerchief and the pure white snow, a sure sign of influenza. Red can be lips or an apple or cheeks in the cold. Phelan draws scenes in blue or brown or black and white to indicate when you’re watching a memory or a different moment in time, and it’s very effective and easy to follow. And then there’s the last scene, done entirely in warm, gentle, full-color watercolors. It does the heart good to see.

The thing about Matt Phelan is that he rarely does the same story twice. About the only thing you can count on with him is that he loves history and the past. Indeed, between showing off a young Buster Keaton ( Bluffton) and a ravaged Dust Bowl setting (The Storm in the Barn) it’s possible “Snow White” is just an extension of his favorite era. As much a paean to movies as it is fairytales and graphic novels, Phelan limits his word count and pulls off a tale with truly striking visuals and killer emotional resonance. I don’t think I’ve ever actually enjoyed the story of Snow White until now. Hand this book to graphic novel fans, fairytale fans, and any kid who’s keen on good triumphing over evil. There might be one or two such children out there. This book is for them.

On shelves now.

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30. न्यूज चैनल वालों – न्यूज चैनल जरा रहम करो

न्यूज चैनल वालों – न्यूज चैनल जरा रहम करो -जिस तरह से न्यूज चैनल या खबरिया चैनल खबरों को टीआरपी के लिए परोसते हैं ऐसी खबरें सुनना अब आम हो जाएगा न्यूज चैनल वालों – न्यूज चैनल जरा रहम करो यकीनन अब न्यूज चैनल देख कर कई बार धबराहट होने लगी है … डर बैठने […]

The post न्यूज चैनल वालों – न्यूज चैनल जरा रहम करो appeared first on Monica Gupta.

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31. Review: Stuck in the Passing Lane by Jed Ringel

Stuck in the Passing Lane:
By: Jed Ringel
Publisher: About Face Press
Stars: 2

Summary: What happens when a newly divorced, monogamous, family-oriented Baby Boomer gets trapped on the Internet dating superhighway? From Spanish Harlem to Singapore, in relationships with Muscovite intellectuals and streetwise Chinatown massage parlor queens, Jed Ringel takes you on this hilarious, heartrending, self-revelatory, and sometimes even cringe-worthy journey. With the unsparing comments of his three daughters, and his own honest, self-deprecating assessments, Stuck in the Passing Lane is the non-stop entertaining memoir of a mature man, dauntlessly searching for his last great love; one that won’t, in just a matter of time, become relationship déjà vu.


Review: Stuck in the Passing Lane, was a book that I normally would not read, with that being said that might be the good indicator on why I personally had a hard time reading it. In fact I did not even finish the book. But the concept of the book was good. I thought it was intriguing and thought provoking. It was fast paced to a point, there was a part that I could not get past no matter how many times I tried. To someone else this book is probably very good. I would still say give the book a shot if you are into memoirs and love stories. 
-Victoria

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32. Friday Links List - 18 November 2016

From PW: PRH Starts Student Loan Repayment Program

From BBC News: Top authors call for school libraries to be protected

From The Brown Bookshelf: A Declaration in Support of Children

From SLJ, Betsy Bird's Fuse #8: The Slush Pile Myth

From James Gurney: 72 Tips for Sharing Art on Social Media

From NPR: Colson Whitehead, Representative John Lewis Among National Book Award Winners

From The Guardian: Hundreds of US children's authors sign pledge to tackle racism and xenophobia

From Custom-Writing.org: 200 Powerful Words to Use Instead of "Good" (Infographic)

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33. POETRY FRIDAY: “Revolutionary Letter #51” by Diane di Prima

The righteously indignant poet Diane Di Prima. Photo by James Oliver Mitchell.

The righteously indignant poet Diane di Prima. Photo by James Oliver Mitchell.

It’s hard to say why we pluck one book from the shelf, a slim volume surrounded by so many others. In this case, for me, it was a book I hadn’t read in at least 20 years. A book I’d purchased new for $3.50, back in my college days, when that’s how I spent my available book-money: poetry, poetry, poetry. Building a collection.

A year ago, I was moved to post Wendell Berry’s fine poem, “The Peace of Wild Things.” Last week my blog blew up because somebody, somewhere, linked to that page on my blog. Berry’s poem expressed something that helps me in troubling times. I go back to it, as a reminder, time and again. And, oh yes, we are in troubling times, with irksome, fearful days ahead.

Cover design by Lawrence Ferlinghetti.

Cover design by Lawrence Ferlinghetti.

During the week of the election, I took Diane di Prima’s Revolutionary Letters off the shelf. Because as much as I needed solace and surcease, I also needed fire and gasoline. I needed the righteous indignation of di Prima’s shambolic, vexed, idealistic voice. While I don’t think of her as a supreme poet, or of this as a perfect poem, her spirit strikes chords in me, resounding and reverberating like a clanged bell. But I’m here today mostly for that good line: “We have the right to make the universe we dream.”

Be keep dreaming, dreamers.

We have that right, and that mission. Be strong.

scan-1

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34. What I'm Reading And Rereading




Over on the Tor website, they're having a reread of Dune. I thought I might join in. I have it in ebook now, because I really don't want to stuff up my battered - and signed - paperback. I got it autographed when the author was visiting Melbourne. He had been a guest of honour at Swancon, an annual Perth convention, and was travelling around. That was at Space Age bookshop(long gone, alas!) which often hosted Swancon guests after they'd done their official gigs. Frank Herbert had a beard at the tine and looked like Santa Claus(and was just as jolly). I haven't read the rest of the series, but if you've read and loved Tolkien, you'll enjoy this - and it's the ONLY book of which I will say that. There are no Elves or Dwarves or immortal Dark Lords, but the world building is every bit as complex, the characters as fascinating, the adventure breathtaking. It's a believable universe, with good reason. I asked whether he had done his research first or begun writing and done it along the way - it's the way I do things, because otherwise my story never gets written. Other writers say the same - Robert Silverberg said so at a Worldcon I attended. But Mr Herbert snapped, "I didn't write a word till I'd researched everything!"

It is deservedly a classic.

I've bought and started reading - in ebook - Ben Aaronovitch's Rivers Of London, which is a crime fantasy novel, first in a series. So far, it's a hoot! The hero is a police officer who wants to do all the thief taking stuff and has found himself stuck with the paperwork section of the force, so that real cops can do the thief taking. In the first scene he has encountered a ghost who witnessed a murder. How do you use that information, for goodness' sake? Ben Aaronovitch is a Dr Who writer, among other things. I did hear him talking about it on the radio, but have only just bought it.

I've just finished rereading Kerry Greenwood's Electra, an enjoyable book. It's fantasy, with gods and the Erinyes, scary vengeful beings sent to punish a matricide. Mind you, strictly speaking, Orestes isn't a matricide. Electra is his mother, having been raped by her mother's lover. Clytemnestra is his grandmother, who has been posing as his mother, and he knows that. But if he has always thought of her as his mother, maybe he sees it as matricide. Anyway, Kerry Greenwood has fun rejigging Greek mythology. As usual.

I downloaded The Golden Apples Of The Sun, a Ray Bradbury anthology, because it had the story "A Sound Of Thunder" - that famous story where a time traveller steps on a butterfly in prehistoric times and everything changes in his own time - because there was some discussion of making it an English text at my school. I can always read some more Bradbury. I'm so glad he finally agreed to having his books in ebook, before he died. He was not a fan of the Internet. 

And then there are all those books I need to finish. All those on my TBR pile...

See you back here soon! 

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35. Movie Month, day 18

So Kailana (The Written Word) and I really LOVED participating in Jenni Elyse's 30 Days of Books. We thought it would be fun to do a movie-theme list of questions!

Today's question:  What is your favorite movie series?

Definitely the Lord of the Rings trilogy the extended edition.

I also really love the Marvel movies. Particularly, I love all three Captain America movies and the two Thor movies. (The Avenger movies are good. And I did like Iron Man 3. Ant Man was a surprise delight!)

The Hunger Games series was very, very good.

I like many of the Star Trek movies, though not all.

I've already mentioned the Dark Knight trilogy.





© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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36. Report: DOK Leipzig, A Festival That Mixes Animation and Documentary Films

Cartoon Brew attends DOK Leipzig to look at how a festival mixes together animation and documentary filmmaking.

The post Report: DOK Leipzig, A Festival That Mixes Animation and Documentary Films appeared first on Cartoon Brew.

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37. Trusting God

The book of Psalms is proof of God's constant mercy and grace. How boldly it speaks of trusting the Lord. It promises hope. Speaks of discipline, love, restoration, deep worship of the Lord, and crying out to HIM in time of need. It is a glorious testimony of faith for young and old alike.
Psalm 108 is a grand display of the author's faith. At the end of the chapter, in verses 12 and 13 (MEV) it reads:
     Grant us help against the foe, for the help of man is worthless. Through GOD (emphasis mine) we shall be valiant, for He shall tread down our enemies. 
When facing battles humans tend to turn to human answers. They rely on self and mankind. But God's word speaks continuously about trusting HIM.
I had a friend once, who felt it her duty to "bless" me when a need arose. I was the type of person to ask God to cover it and stretch whatever we had to make it fit. To increase and prosper us as our souls prospered. To supply all our NEED. That really bothered her. She thought I was settling. She went out of her way on numerous occasions. If I mentioned I needed to buy extra towels and washcloths, the next day she would bring them to me. It almost became a ritual. And THAT bothered ME.
She, in her own mind, became my provider. I didn't need her help. I needed her prayers and friendship. Needed her to understand I was merely making an (thinking out loud) observation. I appreciated each and every gesture. Yes. But it became an obligation on both parts and it really tied me down. So I put a stop to it. I stopped talking about those needs at all. I recognized when it stopped being a God blessing, and started becoming a human thing.
Some would call that insanity. But for my family it was almost a release. We have to, as children of God trust in Him to be our Champion. If He lays it on someone's heart to help my ministry and family whether in labor or need, and I know it is of Him, I will say yes. But the Lord gives us the ability (and favor) to care for ourselves and others. We rely on Him. Those victories and answered prayers... the credit belongs to Him. And when we are facing our "enemies", He is the answer.
 Jehovah Jireh, my provider.
Have a blessed day, Princesses. I pray God's very best for you today and every day.






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38. A World Of Pausabilities

Fun mail today!  My new book through Magination Press, "A World of Pausabilities", came today!  It is a great book by Frank Sileo about slowing down, reflecting, and being in the moment....something that I need to be reminded of myself.  This title will be available in February 2017. 

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39. Rain May be Coming

Good morning. Another beautiful sunrise rose above the tree line as the sky began to darken. Thunder slightly roared to warn us, maybe, rain will follow. The rain is needed for many of the trees are thirsty allowing their leaves to drop without producing any color. We always love to witness the trees and bushes celebrating their splashes of color, trying to out do each other.

Sit back, grab a good book or a sketch pad, or whatever one does to enjoy a relaxed rainy day. Play some special music to move by, as you excise your thoughts and prayers.

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40. FOODFIC: Please Welcome Laurie (L.C.) Lewis, Author of Dark Sky at Dawn



Thanks for inviting me to share some of my culinary insights from research on my Free Men and Dreamers books. I popped into a gift shop in Williamsburg, Virginia in the early days of work on book one, Dark Sky at Dawn, and picked up a copy of a small, but priceless cookbook titled simply, The Williamsburg Cookbook. It was filled with primarily British recipes, most of which involved the ingredients of their day—cream, butter, meat and potatoes. Journal entries from actual colonial and pre-Civil War women helped me carve out the menus and beverages in DSAD and the other books in the series. These journals made it apparent that the planning, growing, harvesting, and preparing of food was a grueling, never-ending labor. I had a scene where the characters prepared chickens for cooking. Imagine chasing, catching, killing, draining, gutting, plucking, and burning off the pin-feathers of a bird, before you can even begin your recipe. Perfectly seasoned fried chicken is my weakness, and I’ll never take a fried chicken platter for granted again!

One dynamic that came up a lot in the series was “traveling” food. From the import shortages the British and French embargoes were creating for America in Dark Sky at Dawn, to the shortages caused by war and destruction in later volumes, the struggle to secure and prepare food, and the need for food that could travel, was a constant concern.

The lead characters in the series—Jed and Hannah Pearson and their neighbors—were frequently on foot, on horseback, or in a wagon, in rain or snow or wind. The scenery provided the only picnic ambiance, because by the time they stopped to eat, if they stopped at all, they were sore-bottomed, wind-burned, sun-baked, or rain-soaked. Dinner on the fly was simple—biscuits, jerky, salted or smoked slabs of meat, fruit in season, perhaps a boiled egg or two, and coffee made from water that might have to be strained to remove insects, dirt, and debris. Yum!!! Oftentimes, when they weren’t traveling in haste because of enemies or weather, or when travelling a long distance, they might have to forage, hunt, or fish for food along the way. Imagine waking up every morning not knowing when or if there would be food on the table before nightfall. Too many people today still face that challenge for different reasons.

I must admit, I do love the romance of the past. Life was home-centered and unplugged, conversation and mealtimes were the social events of the day, neighbors were lifetime friends nearly as essential as family, and you knew the joy and satisfaction of seeing the fruit of your labors. As beautiful as those things are, I’m grateful for the advantages of our day. I love modern medicine, and I’m a huge fan plumbing—hot baths, flush toilets, the ability to wash and sanitize food and prep areas, and the ease of having water at your disposal without toting it up a hill, the gym memberships of the day.

I keep a cute picnic basket packed with matching plastic ware, cups, plates, and gingham napkins, all at the ready, near a folded blanket, for those spur-of-the-moment picnic adventures, however, I confess that most of my picnics involve a quick stop at the “grab -and-go” section of my local grocery for abundant and luscious cheese I didn’t make, sandwiches or chicken grown and prepared elsewhere, and succulent prewashed fruit from a tree I didn’t plant.

Instead of armed enemies and wild beasts, time presents the greatest challenge in our day. I think we miss the sense of community and family meal preparation provided back in the day. Neighbors would gather to “bring in the sheaves” of wheat and to grind their grain into life-sustaining flour. I can imagine the laughter and conversations that happened in the hours when women filled kitchens to render lard, make jams, and prepare feats. In our busy world, gathering moments happen less and less now.
I actually store wheat and have an electric grinder to churn out freshly ground whole wheat flour. The children loved kneading their own loaves of homemade bread on our weekly break-making day. The smell of baking dough drew them back to the kitchen like an aromatic Pied Piper. Sadly, once they headed to school and discovered “white, fluffy bread that comes in a plastic bag” they didn’t want to take Mom’s homemade brown bread anymore, which they said made them look like “poor kids.” They now pay five dollars or more a loaf for bakery bread like that which they rejected back in the day.

Sadly, Mama sold out a bit, too. Travel food generally involves a stop at a drive-through or from a carefully selected sack of items from a grocer. And the location of on the fly meals generally depends on how much slop we’re willing to subject our vehicle to.

The primary labor of our ancestors’ day was protecting hearth and home, and growing and preserving food. Our challenges are the same.  Now we work to buy the home, and more of our ingredients are provided by someone else. What doesn’t change is the joy in gathering and working side-by-side to jointly meet our family’s needs. Families need not be so removed from those experiences. I remember the satisfying hours spent together with my children as we worked in and harvested from our garden. Each pepper or green bean was a treasure they’d bring to me in wonder. Take any family with a garden or even a tomato plant, and ask them how many life lessons they drew from the divine magic of watching a mature plant grow from the seeming nothingness of a single seed. There’s family strength and power in such moments.

Food is more than sustenance. So much more. Our ancestors knew it. I’m grateful we still revere and rediscover the art of the meal.


Thanks for stopping by to share your food for thought, Laurie!



You can find Laurie here:




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41. #ncte16

I'm coming to you from balmy Atlanta this week, where Mary Lee Hahn and I will be presenting later today a session called "Risking Writing," along with Dr. Shanetia Clark of Salisbury University and author Patricia Hruby Powell.  At the heart of this session is the writing of a poem brainstormed by Shanetia, drafted by Mary Lee, and revised by me.  Patricia will supply inspirational commentary. Do check back in to see what we came up with!

For now, here's our presentation in a nutshell:






The round-up today is with Brenda at Friendly Fairy Tales.  It's not much of a risk just joining in our friendly Fridays, but letting the poetry take you--that's riskier.


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42. Dear Michael (a letter to Michael Grant about GONE)

November 17, 2016

Dear Michael Grant,

Our conversation yesterday at Jason Low's opinion piece for School Library Journal didn't go well, did it? I entered it, annoyed at what you said last year in your "On Diversity" post. There, you said:

Let me put this right up front: there is no YA or middle grade author of any gender, or of any race, who has put more diversity into more books than me. Period.
Then you had a list where you were more specific about that diversity. Of Native characters, you said:
Native American main character? No. Australian aboriginal main character, but not a Native American. Hmmm.
You do, in fact, have a Native character in Gone. I'd read it but didn't write about it. So when you commented to Jason in the way that you did, I responded as I did, saying you'd erased a Native character right away in one of your books. With that in mind, and your claim that you've done more than anyone regarding diversity, I said you're part of the problem. You wanted to know what book I was talking about. Indeed, you were quite irate in your demands that I name it. You offered to donate $1000 to a charity of my choice if I could name the book. You seemed to think I could not, and that I was slandering you. 

In that long thread, I eventually named the book but you said I was wrong in what I'd said. So, here's a review. I hope it helps you see what I meant, but based on all that I've seen thus far, I'm doubtful. 

Here's a description of the book:
In the blink of an eye, everyone disappears. Gone. Except for the young. There are teens, but not one single adult. Just as suddenly, there are no phones, no internet, no television. No way to get help. And no way to figure out what's happened. Hunger threatens. Bullies rule. A sinister creature lurks. Animals are mutating. And the teens themselves are changing, developing new talents—unimaginable, dangerous, deadly powers—that grow stronger by the day. It's a terrifying new world. Sides are being chosen, a fight is shaping up. Townies against rich kids. Bullies against the weak. Powerful against powerless. And time is running out: on your birthday, you disappear just like everyone else. . . .
Chapter one is set at a school in California. It opens with a character named Sam, who is listening to his teacher talk about the Civil War. Suddenly the teacher is gone. It seems funny at first but then they realize that other teachers are gone, and so is everyone who is 15 years old, or older. In chapter two, Sam, his friend Quinn, and Astrid (she's introduced in chapter one as a smart girl) head home, sure they'll find their parents. They don't. 

Partway through chapter two, you introduce us to Lana Arwen Lazar, who is riding in a truck that is being driven by her, grandfather, Grandpa Luke, who is described as follows (p. 19-20):
He was old, Grandpa Luke. Lots of kids had kind of young grandparents. In fact, Lana’s other grandparents, her Las Vegas grandparents, were much younger. But Grandpa Luke was old in that wrinkled-up-leather kind of way. His face and hands were dark brown, partly from the sun, partly because he was Chumash Indian.
At first, I thought, "cool." You were bringing a tribally specific character into the story! If he's Chumash, then, Lana is, too! There's whole chapters about her. She's a main character. But, you didn't remember her. Or maybe, in your responses at SLJ, you were too irate to remember her?

Anyway, I wasn't keen on the "wrinkled-up-leather" and "dark brown" skin because you're replicating stereotypical ideas about what Native people look like.

As I continued reading, however, it was clear to me that you were just using the Chumash as decoration. You clearly did some research, though. You've got Grandpa Luke, for example, pointing with his chin. Thing is: I've been seeing that a lot. It makes me wonder if white people have a checklist for a Native character that says "make sure the character points with the chin rather than fingers."

Back to chapter two... Grandpa Luke pointed (with his chin) to a hill. Lana tells him she saw a coyote there and he tells her not to worry (p. 20):
“Coyote’s harmless. Mostly. Old brother coyote’s too smart to go messing with humans.” He pronounced coyote “kie-oat.”
Hmmm... Grandpa Luke... teaching Lana about coyote? That sounds a bit... like the chin thing. I'm seeing lot of stories where writers drop in coyote. Is that on a check list, too?

Next, we learn that Lana is with her grandpa because her dad caught her sneaking vodka out of their house to give it to another kid named Tony. Lana defends what she did, saying that Tony would have used a fake ID and that he might have gotten into trouble. Her grandpa says (p. 21):
“No maybe about it. Fifteen-year-old boy drinking booze, he’s going to find trouble. I started drinking when I was your age, fourteen. Thirty years of my life I wasted on the bottle. Sober now for thirty-one years, six months, five days, thank God above and your grandmother, rest her soul.”
Oh-oh. Alcohol? That must be on the checklist, too. I've seen a lot of books wherein a Native character is alcoholic.

Lana teases her grandpa, he laughs, and then the truck veers off the road and crashes. Grandpa Luke is gone. Just like the other adults. Lana lies in the truck, injured. Her dog, Patrick, is with her. The chapter ends and you spend time with the other characters.

His being gone is what I was referring to when I said that you erased him. At SLJ, you strongly objected to me saying that. You interpreted that as me saying you're anti-Native. You said that "every adult is disappeared." That you did that to "African-Americans, Polish-Americans, Mexican-Americans, Norwegian-Americans, French-Americans, Italian-Americans..." Yes. They all go away in your story, and because they do, you think it is wrong for me to object. That's when I said to you that you're clearly not reading any of the many writings about depictions of Native people. It just isn't ok to create Native characters and then get rid of them like that. Later in the SLJ thread, you said:
"I threw the reference to the Chumash in as an effort to at least acknowledge that there are still Native Americans in SoCal. That was it. It's a throwaway character we see for three pages out of a 1500 page series." 
Really, Michael? That's pretty awful. I hope someone amongst your writing friends can help you see why that doesn't work!

Lana is back in chapter seven. A mountain lion appears. Patrick fights it and it takes off, but Patrick has a bad wound. Lana drifts off to sleep again, holding Patrick's wound to stop the blood. She wakes, part way through chapter ten. Patrick isn't with her but comes bounding over, all healed! Lana wonders if she had healed him. She glances at her mangled arm, which is now getting infected. She touches it, drifts off, and when she wakes it, too is healed. Next she heals her broken leg. All better, she stands up.

So---Lana is a healer, Michael? That, too, is over in checklist land (Native characters who heal others).

In chapter fifteen, Lana and Patrick set out to find food and water and hopefully, her grandfather's ranch. After several hours of walking in the heat, they find the wall that is an important feature of the story, and then, a patch of green grass. There's a water hose and a small cabin. They drink, and she washes the dried blood off her face and hair.

In chapter eighteen, Lana wakes in the cabin, and remembers the last few weeks. She remembers putting the bottle of vodka in a bag with "the beadwork she liked" (p. 203). My guess, given that her grandfather is Chumash, is that the bag we're meant to imagine is one with Native beadwork designs on it.

Lana hears scratching at the door, like the way a dog scratches at a door, and she hears a whispered "Come out." Oh-oh (again), Michael! Native people who can communicate with animals! That on the checklist, too? Patrick's hackles are raised, his fur bristles. They finally open the door and go out out but don't see anyone. She uses the bathroom in an outhouse. When Lana and Patrick head back to the cabin, a coyote is standing there, between the outhouse and the cabin. This coyote, however, is the size of a wolf. She thinks back on what she learned about coyotes, from Grandpa Luke (p. 207):
“Shoo,” Lana yelled, and waved her hands as her grandfather had taught her to do if she ever came too close to a coyote.
It didn't move, though. Behind it were a few more. Patrick wouldn't attack them, so, Lana yelled and charged right at them. The coyote recoiled in surprise. Lana was a flash of something dark, and the coyote yelped in pain. She made it to the cabin. She heard the coyotes crying in pain and rage. The next day, she found the one who she'd charged at (p. 207):
Still attached to its muzzle was half a snake with a broad, diamond-shaped head. Its body had been chewed in half but not before the venom had flowed into the coyote’s bloodstream.
What does that mean? Does Lana's healing power mean snakes will defend her? Or, that she can summon them to help her? Or is the appearance of these snakes just coincidental and has nothing to do, really, with Lana?

In chapter twenty-five, two days have passed since Lana's encounter with the coyotes. Lana and Patrick eat the food they find in the cabin, and learn that it belonged to a guy named Jim Brown. He has 38 books in the cabin. Lana passes time reading them. At one point, she realizes there's a space underneath the cabin. In it, she finds gold bricks. She remembers the picks and shovels she saw outside, and the tire tracks leading to a ridge and thinks that, perhaps, Jim and his truck are there. She fills a water jug, and the two set off, following the tire tracks.

In chapter twenty-seven, Lana and Patrick reach an abandoned mining town. She look for keys to the truck they find, and, they peek into the mine shaft. Suddenly they hear coyotes. It seems Lana can hear them saying "food." Lana and Patrick enter the mine, but the coyotes don't follow them. Then, one of them talks to her, telling her to leave the mine. They rush in and attack her but then stop, clearly afraid themselves. She's now their prisoner. They nudge her down, deeper into the mine. She senses something there, hears a loud voice, passes out, and wakes, outside.

In chapter twenty nine, the coyotes push her on through the desert. She thinks of the lead coyote as "Pack Leader." He's the one who speaks to her. She asks him why they don't kill her. He says (p. 326):
“The Darkness says no kill,” Pack Leader said in his tortured, high-pitched, inhuman voice.
That "Darkness" is the voice she heard in the mine. It wants her to teach Pack Leader...  She asks Pack Leader to take her back to the cabin so she can get human food there. Later on, Darkness speaks through Lara.

Ok--Michael--I've spelled out how your depictions of Lana fail. There's so much stereotyping in there. I gotta take off on a road trip now. I may be back, later, to clarify this letter. I think it is clear but may be missing something in my re-read of it. If you care to respond, please do!

Sincerely,
Debbie Reese
American Indians in Children's Literature


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43. Five Children on the Western Front

Five Children on the Western Front. Kate Saunders. 2014. 318 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: The sand at the bottom of the gravel pit shifted and heaved, and out popped the furry brown head of a most extraordinary creature.

Premise/plot: For any reader who has read Five Children And It by E. Nesbit (and its sequels) will want to consider picking up Kate Saunders' Five Children on the Western Front. The book opens in 1914 with the oldest, Cyril, heading off to the Great War. Robert, Anthea, and Jane are grown up as well--mostly. Old enough to be away to school for their final years of education at least! Still at home are Lamb (aka Hilary) and Edie (Edith). On this life-changing day, Edie and Lamb discover (again) the Psammead. Lamb has no memory of the adventures his older siblings had, though he has grown up hearing all about the magic. There is a very happy reunion of sorts. If his being cranky and sarcastic doesn't take away the children's happiness. Soon, however, they realize that something is very wrong. He lacks strength and magical power. He has even lost the ability to be invisible. Edie, his primary companion, makes it her mission to get the answers he needs.

This mission takes most of them to London to visit Old Nurse and their friend the Professor. The Professor has a new, young assistant Ernie Haywood, a soldier who has returned home because of injuries. Anthea is quite smitten!

The book covers the war years.

My thoughts: Wow! Not disappointed at all. Not even a little bit! Loved Edie, the heroine, and loved the "humbling" of "Sammy." It was wonderful to spend time with the Pemberton family yet again. If there is a flaw, it is that we still don't really get to know the parents. Is that a flaw? Perhaps. I personally just loved the kids so much, I didn't care. I think readers are in on the secret--the magic--and the parents aren't and never will be.

Is the book sad? Yes in the same way that Rilla of Ingleside is sad and happy at the same time. In fact, that is the only book that really comes to mind. Both books star characters from series that readers would have grown up reading and loving. Both books cross into the ugliness of war, interrupting a blissful innocence. L. M. Montgomery was brave in that she tackled the subject herself so very soon after the war ended. E. Nesbit was older, and most of books were published before the war. Saunders did a splendid job with this sequel.


© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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44. Thursday Review: CUCKOO SONG by Frances Hardinge

This scary cover almost made me not want to read it.Synopsis: I’m a huge fan of Frances Hardinge’s Fly By Night books, so I was eager to check out this one—another middle grade fantasy. It’s hard to talk about this one without giving away... Read the rest of this post

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45. Cynsational News

By Cynthia Leitich Smith
for Cynsations

Courage, Connection & Hope: Interview with Gae Polisner from Book Club Advisor. Peek: "...a video interview on the power of literature, how The Memory of Things was created, and the impact of a national tragedy on a generation."

Finding the Lost Voices in YA Historical Fiction by Pia Ceres from Lee & Low. Peek: "Using the framework of the past, the genre challenges consumerism, individual sovereignty, justice – salient subjects that adolescents actively question and explore."

When It's Okay to Listen to Your Inner Editor by Sara Letourneau from Writers Helping Writers. Peek: "...ask yourself, 'Will this improve my WIP? Or am I beating myself up?' You might already know the answer subconsciously."

Ambelin Kwaymullina: Thoughts on Being an Ally of Indigenous Writers from Justine Labalestier. Peek: "I believe supporting others requires a rights-based, strength-based approach. Rights-based, in that I recognise that the denial of anyone’s rights, and the diminishment of anyone’s humanity, diminishes and denies my own."

Author Interview: Dr. René Saldaña Jr. from Houston Public Media. Peek: "The saga of children Mickey’s age attempting to come to the United States without their parents is sad yet intriguing. Could there be a connection between the unaccompanied minor children and the mysterious Natalia?"

Your Two Plots by Dave King from Writer Unboxed. Peek: "Depending on how self-aware your characters are and how distracting your action is, you can hide how your internal story develops until the end."

See also Islam in the Classroom
Books in the Home: Mommy, Do I Have White Skin?: Skin Color, Family, and Picture Books by Julie Hakim Azzam from The Horn Book. Peek: "We’re surrounded by images that tell us mothers and children should look alike. Adoptive, interracial, and intercultural families do not have what Christopher Myers called in his essay 'Young Dreamers' an 'image library,' a robust visual archive that reflects and validates their existence."

SCBWI 2016 Winter Reading List: "Authors and illustrators from close to your hometown to those around the world are featured on the List. The Lists will be published bi-annually, in the Summer and Winter." Note: I was excited to learn about some new (to me) Texas authors from the list, and that's saying something because one of my personal commitments is to keep up with new voices, especially in my home state.

The Slush Pile Myth by Elizabeth Bird from A Fuse #8 Production. Peek: "...there is a myth that circulates about the children’s book that is plucked from the pile and subsequently reaches hitherto untold levels of success. I know of only three instances where this happened, and I wanted to just give them a quick glance today."

Crossing Borders by Reyna Grande from Latinxs in Kidlit. Peek: "It saddens me to see that the world—instead of tearing down border walls—is actually building more of them. There are more border barriers today than ever before. In 1989, there were only 15 border walls in the world. Today there are more than 63, and counting."

This Week at Cynsations


Cynsational Screening Room




More Personally

Thank you to everyone at McAllen Book Festival and McAllen (Texas) Public Library for a wonderful event. Here are a few pics from the author party last Friday night.

A.G.  Howard & Beth Fehlbaum
With Lupe Ruiz-Flores, Carolyn Dee Flores & Kelly Starling Lyons
Thanks also to Michael Hays, Lee Francis IV, Debbie Reese, Traci Sorell, Tim Tingle, and everyone who turned out last night for the "Indigenous Voices in MG" #MGLitChat on Twitter.

I have signed on to A Declaration in Support of Children from the Brown Bookshelf. Peek: "...we, the undersigned children’s book authors and illustrators, do publicly affirm our commitment to using our talents and varied forms of artistic expression to help eliminate the fear that takes root in the human heart amid lack of familiarity and understanding of others; the type of fear that feeds stereotypes, bitterness, racism and hatred; the type of fear that so often leads to tragic violence and senseless death." See also Hundreds of U.S. Children's Authors Sign Petition to Tackle Racism & Xenophobia, Hundreds of Children's Authors Pledge to Combat Bigotry and What Do We Tell the Children?

Cynsations will be on hiatus next week while those of us in the U.S. contemplate gratitude. 

Personal Links

Honored to join the SCBWI winter conference faculty!
Honored to join the SCBWI winter conference faculty!

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    46. A Journal the Word Bible for Me & One for You!

    by Sally Matheny
    Photo: Journal the Word Bible

    How sweet the season is—a time of thanks and giving! Christian publisher, Thomas Nelson sent me, not one, but two, NKJV Journal the Word Bibles. One to keep, and one to give away. First, let me tell you how awesome this Bible is!
    Every cream-colored page contains wide margins of lightly ruled lines. You can either journal your thoughts or illustrate the meditations of your heart.


    I’m doing a little of both in mine, but mostly journaling. No more writing on the back of church bulletins or loose papers! Everything will be in one spot, ready for future reference by me, or the next generation.
    Read more »

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    47. Poetry Friday with a review of One the Wing

    I live on a ten acre farm on a hillside, and we get lots of bird visitors. Owls live in one of our outbuildings, and swallows spend the summer in our barn. We have seen bald eagles sitting in our trees, and red-tailed hawks often swoop over the house calling out to each other. I cannot help being charmed by the birds that I see and so I really enjoyed today's poetry book, and I hope many of you will enjoy reading it too.

    On the WingOn the wing
    David Elliott
    Illustrated by Becca Stadtlander
    Poetry Picture Book
    For ages 6 to 8
    Candlewick Press, 2014, 978-0-7636-5324-8
    Animals have inspired musicians, artists, prose writers, and poets for centuries. T.S Elliot, who loved cats, was drawn to creating poems about felines. Others have captured the majesty of a tiger, the gravitas of elephants, and the watchful nature of rabbits. Birds, perhaps more than any other animal - other than cats and dogs - have attracted the attention of poets. Perhaps this is because birds are found everywhere, in all kinds of environments. They are also often beautiful and come in so many shapes, colors, and sizes.
       In this excellent poetry title we encounter a wonderful collection of birds from tiny gem like hummingbirds that  are “Always / in a / tizzy” going back and forth and zooming to and fro busily, to the giant Andean Condor that could, if we are not careful “disappear,” taking with it the memories of ancient times that we humans are losing.
       Some of the birds we meet on the pages will be familiar. We see them in parks, on windowsills, and in gardens. These include sparrows, blue jays, cardinals, crows, and owls. Others are like the exotic Caribbean Flamingo who’s bright pink plumage seems to set the sky “alight” when they take to the air.
       This would be a wonderful book to share with children who have an interest in birds. Throughout the book the combination of wonderful poems and lush paintings gives children a special bird-filled experience.


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    48. Casting About

    Would-be actors read for roles
    And give it all they’ve got,
    Hoping that their name will fill
    A vacant casting slot.

    They gesture, pace, project and still,
    Some don’t get any part.
    Rejection hurts; it’s very hard
    To not take it to heart.

    Though confidence is needed
    Just as well as some ambition,
    Determination is the key
    To face the next audition.

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    49. नोटबंदी मामला – सरकार को कोर्ट की फटकार

    नोटबंदी मामला – सरकार को कोर्ट की फटकार-  होमवर्क नही किया सरकार ने अपना .देश भर में आम आदमी बेहद हैरान परेशान है और इसी बात को मद्देनजर रखते हुए 500 और हजार रुपये की  नोटबंदी पर कलकत्ता हाई कोर्ट ने केंद्र सरकार को कड़ी फटकार लगाई और कहा ‘केंद्र ने नोटबंदी को लागू करने […]

    The post नोटबंदी मामला – सरकार को कोर्ट की फटकार appeared first on Monica Gupta.

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    50. Just a piece of news!


    March: Book Three (March, #3)

    The National Book Awards were handed out on Wednesday night.  John Lewis' final entry into his graphic memoir, March: Book Three, written with Andrew Aydin and illustrated by Nate Powell, won the 2016 National Book Award for Young People's Literature.

    Here is the School Library Journal article about the book, the prize, the event.

    The book is stunning in its timeliness.  We cannot forget the fight for equal rights and equal respect.  And we must continue to uphold the American ideal that all people are created equal.  That's ALL - as in Every Single Person. 

    As the banner at my place of worship says, "Love Thy Neighbor - No Exceptions".

    PS.  The winner, in books for grown-ups, was The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead.  Pay attention, readers. 

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