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26. Would You Read It Wednesday #164 - The Chocolate Train Wreck (ER) PLUS The February Pitch Pick

I'm dating myself, I realize, but when my kids were little, GameBoys were all the rage.  Oh! how they longed for GameBoys.  But my husband and I didn't feel that children under 10 really needed to play video games for hours on end... even though all their friends had GameBoys as well as whatever the ancient versions of PlayStation, Xbox, etc... were.  We figured it was easier not to have game systems then to have them and have to enforce limits.  So our poor deprived children had to soldier on, the ONLY kids in the ENTIRE world without electronic games.

Cruelty, thy name is Mom and Dad.

Really, it's amazing they survived childhood :)

Eventually, we caved.  One unforgettable July (well, it was unforgettable at the time... I'm pretty sure none of them remember it now! :)) the whole crew was blessed with the coveted GameBoys (because we had a Long Drive on the agenda.)  But there was a Rule: the GameBoys could only be played in the car.  And only while driving.  There would be no sitting out in the car in the driveway or any of that nonsense!

It worked very well.

For them.

An excellent solution.

But now I'm having a problem of my own.

Not GameBoy.

No. I have no desire to to give my thumbs a workout bopping turtles or whatever, especially because that would require a degree of coordination and multi-tasking I do not possess whilst driving :)

Nope.  My problem is The Girl On The Train.

I know you were all waiting with breathless excitement to find out which book I picked for my March Audible selection, and yep! that was it.

And I'm hooked.

Seriously, I do not want to get out of the car!

I try to think up extra errands that will give me 4 more minutes of story!

I have become the most speed-limit-observing person on earth!

I think turtles walk faster than my car is going by the time I pull in my driveway!

But after all those years of the GameBoy Rule, I have to abide.  It's the same principle.  There can be no sitting in the car in the driveway just to find out what happens next!

(Plus, really, it's too cold unless the heat is running and that's wasteful of fossil fuels.)

(Plus, really, I have NO TIME for extra listening to stories since I've usually got 6 weeks of work to do on any given day.)

Nope.  There can't be any cheating or any wasting of time.  Only legitimate driving for continuing the story.

Which is why I ask, does anyone need a ride anywhere?

A pick up in Maryland?  Or Georgia?

Because, as it happens, I'm available :)

You'll just have to listen to The Girl On The Train :)

And now that I've got you all desperate to rush out to the library and get a copy right this minute, don't even think about it!  You can go in 5 minutes, but right now...

...it's time for the February Pitch Pick!

Here are the awesome February pitches for your voting pleasure, newly improved and updated thanks to all your helpful comments!  Good luck picking between this bunch! :)

#1 Kirsten - Finley VS. The Fly PB ages 4-8

When a pesky fly fixes his eye on Finley’s peanut butter and jelly sandwich, the game is on. Armed with a magazine, vacuum cleaner, and sink sprayer, Finley is determined to deliver a final blow to the buzz. But when Finley serves up the final swat and the fly lands — splat — on the sandwich, Finley wonders whether he’s really won after all.

#2 Kathy - King Of The Boards PB ages 4-8 (formerly Son of Boogie)

Dean dreams of matching his father's expertise on the boards–skateboards, surf boards, snowboards - but his flip flops at Half Pipe Park, and he wipes out at the beach. Monstrous moguls and an ice storm stop him cold on the slopes. While chillin’ at the ski lodge, Dean discovers a different board he rocks- a game board. KING OF THE BOARDS is a 332 word picture book that champions perseverance and finding your own groove.

#3 Robyn - Barebones The Skeleton PB ages 4-8

When BAREBONES loses his click-clack, he has to find it before the sun goes down, or he'll lose his Halloween job. With a little help from his pumpkin friend, he searches through water and wind trying to uncover where he lost it. Where he finds it is truly a musical surprise. 

#4 Joanne - The Animal Crackers PB ages 3-6

Meet the newest member of The Animal CrackersElephant wants to join his animal friends' jazz band, but every time he tries his trunk at an instrument, it ends tragically. After destroyed drums, harmonica havoc, and a tuba torpedo, Elephant discovers he's had music in him all along: it's as plain as the trunk on his face. 

Please vote below for the one you feel most deserves a read by editor Erin Molta by Sunday March 8 at 5 PM EDT (because yes, we will be springing forward!!!)
February 2015 Pitch Pick
In honor of today's pitch, I have selected an ENTIRE TRAIN made out of chocolate for our Something Chocolate!  Have you ever seen anything so glorious?  It's almost enough to make me forget it's still freezing cold and snowing!
"Confirmed to be pure chocolate and weighing over 2,755 pounds"!  What craftsmanship!  Lucky it's not parked near my house or it would be missing a few cars by now :)

Take your time... munch away... and when you're ready...

Today's pitch comes to us from Donna.  By day, Donna is a 4th Degree Black Belt Certified Taekwondo Instructor and by night she is a Ninja writer of children's books, chapter books, and young adult novels. Her debut picture book, THE STORY CATCHER, was just released by Anaiah Press on January 20th of this year.
Author Email: www.donasdays@gmail.com
Story Catcher Fan Club Email: www.storycatcherfanclub@gmail.com

Here is her pitch:

Working Title: The Chocolate Train Wreck
Age/Genre: Early Reader (ages 6-9)
The Pitch: Nine–year-old Abigail must do an essay about one of her favorite things. But train whistles or chocolate-chip-cookies don’t seem big enough for her paper and nothing new ever happens in Hamilton. That is, until an airborne diesel engine and 50 tons of chocolate create a delicious mystery still unsolved more than fifty years later.

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

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

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

Donna is looking forward to your thoughts on her pitch!  I am looking forward to getting back in my car... with a hunk of that chocolate train... and finding out what's happening to the girl on the non-chocolate train :)

Have a wonderful Wednesday everyone!!! :)

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27. DESIGNER - kelly angelovic

Kelly Angelovic is an illustrator and graphic designer based in Boulder, Colorado. Kelly specialises in digital illustration, surface pattern design, typography, branding poster design, packaging and children's books. She studied business at University before going on to study graphic design at the School of Visual Concepts in Seattle. You can see some examples of Kelly's portfolio online here

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28. FASHION PRINTS - boden

A week or so ago we looked at the new SS15 kids fashion prints at Boden, and today I thought I would showcase some of those spotted in womenswear. There is a super bold geometric print (above & below) used on bags and clothes, stylised graphic tulips, daintily drawn seed packets and vintage plate designs amongst other delights. Here are a few edited highlights and you will find them all online

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29. KITCHEN - claudia owen

Claudia Owen has designed a brand new range of trays which will launch in April at the Hong Kong Housewares Fair. Claudia describes the designs as feminine, modern and playful and each tray design features her illustrations of flowers and fruits. The trays are made from birch wood veneer from renewable forest and eco friendly. They are single sheets of birch wood veneer with no joins. The trays

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30. Review: The Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro

This is only my second Kazuo Ishiguro book following on from Never Let Me Go. For me, coming off a novel about cloning, I had no expectations about where he would go next. Much has been made about this novel being a “departure” for Ishiguro but I would argue that he has gone back to something […]

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31. Ontario Teen Book Fest - Author Spotlight - Debra Driza

What: Ontario Teen Book Fest

When: Saturday March 21st , 9 am to 5 pm

Where: Colony High School, 3850 E. Riverside Drive, Ontario, CA 91761

The Ontario Teen Book Fest is a FREE AND UNTICKETED EVENT! Meet 20 YA authors, hear them speak about their books and writing, and meet other book lovers like you. Books will be available for purchase on-site from Once Upon a Time. There will also be t-shirts and posters available for purchase.

Official Blog Tour Schedule

February 28th: Spotlight on Kasie West -- Adventures of a Book Junkie

March 1st: Spotlight on Melissa Landers -- What A Nerd Girl Says

March 2nd: Spotlight on Brad Gottfred -- Recently Acquired Obsessions

March 3rd: Spotlight on Catherine Linka -- Read Now Sleep Later

March 4th: Spotlight on Debra Driza -- Read Now Sleep Later

March 5th: Spotlight on Katie Finn -- Fearless Kurt Reads YA

March 6th: Spotlight on Claudia Gray -- A Bookish Escape

March 7th: Spotlight on Shannon Messenger -- People Like Books

March 8th: Spotlight on Lauren Miller -- The Thousand Lives

March 9th: Spotlight on Elizabeth Ross -- Kid Lit Frenzy

March 10th: Spotlight on Anna Carey -- The Reader's Antidote

March 11th: Spotlight on Sherri Smith -- Movies, Shows and Books

March 12th: Spotlight on Mary Elizabeth Summer -- What A Nerd Girl Says

March 13th: Spotlight on Jessica Khoury -- The Consummate Reader

March 14th: Spotlight on Maurene Goo -- The Windy Pages

March 15th: Spotlight on Cecil Castellucci -- Nite Lite Book Reviews

March 16th: Spotlight on Jessica Brody -- The Romance Bookie

March 17th: Spotlight on Gretchen McNeil -- Movies, Shows and Books

March 18th: Spotlight on Aaron Hartzler -- Fangirl Feeels

March 19th: Spotlight on Michelle Levy -- The Consummate Reader

Spotlight on Debra Driza

Today's stop on the tour is a spotlight on Debra Driza, author of MILA 2.0 and MILA 2.0: Renegade.

About MILA 2.0

Mila 2.0 is the first book in an electrifying sci-fi thriller series about a teenage girl who discovers that she is an experiment in artificial intelligence.

Mila was never meant to learn the truth about her identity. She was a girl living with her mother in a small Minnesota town. She was supposed to forget her past—that she was built in a secret computer science lab and programmed to do things real people would never do.

Now she has no choice but to run—from the dangerous operatives who want her terminated because she knows too much and from a mysterious group that wants to capture her alive and unlock her advanced technology. However, what Mila’s becoming is beyond anyone’s imagination, including her own, and it just might save her life.

About Debra Driza

Debra Driza is a member of the teen lit blogging groups The Bookanistas and The League of Extraordinary Writers, and a former practicing physical therapist who discovered tormenting her characters was infinitely more enjoyable. These days you can find her at home in California, adding random colors to her hair and wrangling one husband, two kids, and an assortment of Rhodesian Ridgebacks (most of them naughty).

MILA 2.0 is her first YA novel in a planned trilogy from Katherine Tegen Books/HarperCollins. It's currently in development with Shondaland production company (Grey's Anatomy) to become a TV series for ABC.

Website Twitter Facebook

Q&A with Debra Driza

RNSL: Writing aside, what hobbies or interests take up your time?

Debra Driza: Children!  Are children a hobby?  No?  Because they sure take up a lot of time! If they don't count, then I guess I'd say working out (I like lifting weights), dogs (we own 3 Rhodesian Ridgebacks, and I occasionally entertain crowds by attempting to show them in conformation and agility myself), and reading. 

RNSL: Out of all the advice you've ever been given about getting published, what's the first piece of advice that comes to mind, and why?

DD: Never give up--often, the only difference between a published writer and an unpublished writer is perseverance.

RNSL: Are you a plotter or a pantser?

DD: Definitely a pantser by nature. The MILA books required outlining though, which was REALLY challenging for me. 

RNSL: When you were a teen, what did you like to read?

DD: Not Stephen King, like tons of my friends did--I was too much of a scaredy-cat for horror. I remember reading Dune several times, Jeffrey Archer books, thrillers, and romances "borrowed" from my mom's closet. I guess I was always more of a genre girl!

RNSL: I'm a messy purse girl too. My mother keeps pens, paper, and tools in her bag-of-doom (she's an architect). What 3 things are you most likely to pull out of your purse if you just reached in and grabbed things at random?

DD: Oh gosh, this is kind of embarrassing, but I'd have to say a crumpled, year-old receipt, a stray credit card (I seem to have a wallet phobia), and a petrified clementine (my daughter loves them, and I can't tell you how many times I've reached for a pen and instead grabbed a shriveled up little orange ball. Oops).


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32. Snow Days

We've had quite a few snow days lately and we all rejoice. I love sleeping in and my kids are celebrating too (but not because they want to sleep in of course! Heehe!).

I found a good tutorial on Youtube HERE teaching how to make a 6 sided paper snowflake. My kids absolutely loved making their own. We had a full week of paper snowflakes all over the house!

For snow day, I made white play-dough and my kid's had a snowman building contest. I love contests because it keeps them busy! I set out melt beads and small carrot pieces to be used as decorations. That worked pretty well!

Our fluffy wild cat decided to nap by the window. I snuck up on her to take this picture and she never knew I was there.
I don't think soccer and snow really mix but somehow my son figured it out.

This is a snowman that my daughter made and then it snowed again covering it up. Poor snowman!


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33. Christopher Myers’ My Pen

“But I know my pen can do anything, anywhere. There are a million pens in the world and each one has a million worlds inside it. So if you have a pen,
see what you can do—let those worlds inside your pen out!”

(Click to enlarge and spread in its entirety)


I’ve got a review over at BookPage of Christopher Myers’ newest picture book, My Pen (Disney-Hyperion, March 2015).

That review is here, and I’m following up today with a few spreads from the book.



“… then tells everyone I love that I love them.”
(Click to enlarge)


“… but it doesn’t always get it right.”
(Click to enlarge)



* * * * * * *

MY PEN. Copyright © 2015 by Christopher Myers. Illustrations reproduced by permission of the publisher, Disney-Hyperion, New York.

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34. Are ultra-low interest rates dangerous?

The industrialized world is currently moving through a period of ultra-low interest rates. The main benchmark interest rates of central banks in the United States, the United Kingdom, Japan, and the euro-zone are all 0.50% or less. The US rate has been near zero since December 2008; the Japanese rate has been at or below 0.50% since 1995. Then there are the central banks that have gone negative: the benchmark rates in Denmark, Sweden, and Switzerland are all below zero. Other short-term interest rates are similarly at rock-bottom levels, or below.

The post Are ultra-low interest rates dangerous? appeared first on OUPblog.

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35. Email Live Feed – Can it Get Any Better for Marketing and Any Scarier for Privacy?

GetResponse just launched a new email marketing tool, Global View. With this tool, you can see when your subscriber opens your email AND where. Talk about big brother. If GetResponse has this feature, you can be sure the other email marketing services either have it already or will be getting it soon. The Pros This is great for the marketer. You can instantly track who’s opening and clicking

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36. New(ish) issue of list

       The website for the 'Books from Korea' publication list, from the Literature Translation Institute of Korea, recently underwent a redesign, and they still seem to be figuring things out -- that 'Current Issue' page still isn't current (and doesn't offer much of an(y) issue) ... -- but with a little effort at least the Winter 2014 issue can now be found -- with Yi Mun-yol (Our Twisted Hero, etc.) as 'Featured Writer' -- complete with A Letter to My Readers Around the World from him, as well as a Q & A.

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37. 10 Ways to Grow a Blog by Susan Gourley...

Thanks Sharon for having me as a guest on your blog. I’d like to share ideas that have worked for me in growing my blog audience. I’m not an expert, but these things have worked for me.

10 Ways to Grow a Blog

1.      Follow a variety of blogs, not just other writers. It will expose your name to an entirely different audience
2.      Always provide links to help others find some interesting content.
3.      Return comments. If some comments on your blog, visit theirs in return. They were interested in you so show you feel the same way.
4.      Keep your posts short. Most bloggers are looking for quick, interesting posts. They will skim your long post and not really get the point you were trying to make.
5.      Do more than shout, ‘buy my books.’ That leaves them no reason to comment or come back for the next post.
6.      Be yourself so people actually get to know you. If they know you, hopefully, they will like you. I’ve made some true friends through blogging.
7.      Add pictures to your posts. Book covers, the snow-covered tree, your cat or dog, make it a little bit personal.
8.      Host guest on your blog and hope their friends follow them to your blog. (Thanks, Sharon).
9.      Promote your posts on other media such as Twitter and Facebook.
10.  Participate in blog hops. I’m administrator in two big blog hops. Insecure Writer’s Support Group had been around for more than three years. We blog the first Wednesday of every month and share our woes, successes and offer support and advise. The even bigger blog hop I help run is the Blogging From A to Z Challenge. Last year over 2,000 bloggers participated. For 26 days in April, we post blogs where the content starts with a letter of the alphabet. Letter A on April first, you get the picture. I highly recommend both.

These are a few ideas that have helped me. Can you add a few more ideas in your comment? Any blog hops you recommend.

Susan Gourley writes high fantasy and also writes science fiction romance as Susan Kelley. She is the author of the bestselling science fiction romance series, The Warriors of Gaviron and The Recon Marines series. Her latest release is The Warrior and the Governor. You can find her at Susan Says or follow her on Twitter and like her page on Facebook.

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38. Annie DVD Giveaway

Extra!Attention, all Annie fans!

We are offering you a special opportunity for a chance to enter to win a DVD copy of the Annie movie (rated PG) starring Jamie Foxx as Will Stacks and Cameron Diaz as Miss Hannigan.

But, here’s the thing. You can ONLY enter if you subscribe to the STACKS Blast Newsletter.

Quevenzhane Wallis as Annie

Quevenzhane Wallis as Annie

So right now you may be thinking. . .

YOU: Oh no! I’m not a STACKS Blast subscriber and I don’t even know what the STACKS Blast is!

ME: The STACKS Blast is our free monthly e-mail newsletter. You give us your e-mail address and an e-mail address for one of your parents, and once a month (usually around the 15th), we send you a newsletter full of polls, quizzes, books, and a sweepstakes you can enter.

YOU: Cool! I want to get that newsletter! But wait, I want to enter for a chance to win that DVD now. How do I enter?

ME: Patience, grasshopper! First, you sign up for the newsletter. Then you must wait until March 13 when Hooray! the STACKS Blast will arrive in your e-mail inbox. Hurry up and open it! Inside, you’ll see a special section for the STACKS Giveaway. That’s where you enter. OK?

Don’t forget to sign up for the STACKS Blast Newsletter and enter the sweepstakes. Good luck!

image from kids.scholastic.com — Sonja, STACKS Staffer

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39. What Are the Best Literary Apps Available Today?

The question came to me and I admit I was a bit stumped at first.  A colleague was looking for recommendations of the best literary apps for kids.  Put another way, apps with a distinct tie-in to specific children’s books.  So I thought about it. I’ve toyed about with several apps for years.  I could make such a list.

However, before I present it to you, I would like to point out that literary apps are in significant decline.  When first they hit the scene they were prevalent because they were novel.  However, publishers were quick to notice that from an economic standpoint they don’t really make a lot of sense.  The amount of time and money you pour into an app is incongruous with how much one is allowed to then charge the consumer.  It can take years for apps to break even, and ours is not a society where such slow money is seen as desirable.  So while I don’t think apps will ever go away, literary apps will continue to be far and few between.  The only ones I’ve seen crop up in the last year or two are labors of love from creative personalities (Bill Joyce, Shaun Tan, etc.).

Also please note that this list is NOT particularly good at listing nonfiction tie-in apps.  There are, I know all too well, some fantastic ones out there.  However, aside from the Barefoot Book World Atlas, I haven’t had much contact with them.

And now, the hits!

Animalia by Graeme Base – Allows the reader the chance to turn a simple reading of the book into a game.

The Barefoot Books World Atlas by Nick Crane – Absolutely jaw-dropping.  A must-have for any child over the age of four.  Allows the viewer to zero in on different parts of the globe and learn learn learn.

Don’t Let the Pigeon Run This App by Mo Willems – I’m sort of cheating by putting this here since technically it’s based on a children’s book character rather than a specific title, but when it’s the pigeon, honestly who cares?

Dr. Seuss’s ABC by Dr. Seuss – Pretty basic, but I like a lot of what it does.  Reads the story straight through but allows the reader to hear individual words defined.  Plus I like how it handles the many mumbling mice in the moonlight. Mighty nice!

The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore by William Joyce – The rare case where there was first an app, then a short film, and finally a book.  I don’t know how well this one holds up in terms of rereading, but it’s the closest thing I’ve seen to a film in a book app form.

Freight Train by Donald Crews – This may be the earliest book related app out there.  It used public domain music and was originally designed for phones. When the iPad was introduced it had to undergo a change, and remains somewhat pixelated as a result.  That said, it’s still a beautiful piece.

The Going to Bed Book by Sandra Boynton – Boynton books make for difficult book-to-app transitions since there’s not much too them to begin with.  This one relies heavily on a good narrator and small interactive options.  I don’t know that a kid would turn to it over and over, but it’s not a bad app for the little bitty guys.

How Rocket Learned to Read by Tad Hills – A great book to begin with, the app reads the book straight, but also contains interactive elements that don’t distract from the storyline.  A difficult balance to strike.

The Monster at the End of This Book by Jon Stone – Remarkably good. Truth be told, Sesame Street has almost never been good at books.  Stone’s classic is the sole exception, and the app they made for it is stellar.  Though Grover is not voiced by Frank Oz, you’d never be able to tell.  The imitation is dead on.  All the interactive elements work beautifully.  Kids can read this over and over and never get bored.

The Numberlys by William Joyce – Joyce remains the king of the app-turned-book.  Again, this was an app first, a book second.  I doubt anyone minds.

Pat the Bunny by Dorothy Kunhardt – When I first saw Random House premiere this app they acknowledged openly that a Pat the Bunny app is an inherently ridiculous concept.  That said, it’s a very good one for the younger ages.

Press Here by Herve Tullet – Also a bit of a cheat since at no point does the book appear. Then again, the book itself was a sort of anti-app, so what you’ll find here makes quite a bit of sense in retrospect.

The Rules of Summer by Shaun Tan – Tan bears a lot of similarities to Bill Joyce in terms of his love of apps, cinema, and books (not necessarily in that order).  He employed some truly lovely musicians when he worked on this one.

The Story of the Three Little Pigs by L. Leslie Brooke – Also a book meant to look like a pop-up but in this case the reader is allowed to see how the inner gears of such a pop-up might work.  It’s actually really quite cool to watch.

The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter – You’ll actually want the one called PopOut! Peter.  There is also a similar Benjamin Bunny app that makes for a good follow-up.  It’s just one of the most beautiful I’ve ever encountered.  It makes a great deal of effort to resemble an interactive book down to the silken ribbon there to hold your place.  A masterpiece.

Wild About Books by Judy Sierra – The designers did a very clever thing here when they found a way to allow the reader to tilt the screen so that you can see around and behind the characters and set pieces.

See a gaping hole in the list?  Tell me about it!


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40. कार्टून …. बजट ईफेक्ट

The post कार्टून …. बजट ईफेक्ट appeared first on Monica Gupta.

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41. Edinburgh - Pictures 1

Crazy busy here, so not much time to write. But I will share some photos. Quiz: Anybody know the significance of The Elephant House? (Hint: Look at the next photo.) And why am I touching the nose of a dog statue? (Hint: Look at the next photo.)

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42. Best Selling Young Adult Books | March 2015

With so many strong novels on this list, everything remains the same on our hand-picked list from the Best Selling Young Adult list—including The Children's Book Review's number one best selling young adult book is The Children's Homer: The Adventures of Odysseus and the Tale of Troy, a classic must-read for all Greek mythology fans.

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43. A festival of colorful emotions

It is as if a massive color palette fell on earth from the hand of the Almighty. The whole atmosphere is painted with bright colors—red, pink, yellow, blue, green, and purple. Young and old, men and women—all are soaked in colored water, running around, laughing loudly, shouting, and throwing mud on each other. It is a war where a water gun is your weapon, colored water is your bullet, and colored powder is your smoke screen.

The post A festival of colorful emotions appeared first on OUPblog.

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44. Book piracy in ... Zimbabwe

       In The Herald Beaven Tapureta reports on a Raw deal for academic, non-fiction authors in Zimbabwe, as:

The fight against book piracy in Zimbabwe has become a requiem which writers and publishers continue to sing in perpetual hopelessness. The literary choir has its rhythm toned down and it now plays to the gallery.
       Which is at least a nice way of putting it .....
       Summing up:
It is clear that if nothing is done to clear loopholes in the local book industry, the country is likely to lose its indigenous publishing gusto and posterity will suffer. The current situation indeed calls for collective action involving concerned parties.

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45. Short Review: Blue Lily, Lily Blue

The Raven Cycle #3: Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie StiefvaterScholastic, 2014. Review copy from publisher. Sequel to The Raven Boys (Book 1) and The Dream Thieves (Book 2).

This continues the story of the search in Virginia for a missing Welsh king. The searchers are prep school students Richard Gansey III (the driving force behind the search), his friends Adam Parrish, Ronan Lynch, and Noah Czerny, and local girl Blue Sargent.

By the events of Blue Lily, Lily Blue, I'm not going to lie: it's complicated. There are a mess of characters, plus the search, plus the issues that the characters are dealing with in the present. Gansey is driven by his search; Ronan discovered dangerous family secrets, including his own ability to pull things out of dreams into the real world; Adam is a scholarship student with the drive for more and a serious, well earned chip on his shoulder. Noah has his own issues.

And Blue: Blue is from a family of psychics, without any real power herself, and with a curse upon her: her kiss will kill her true love. And since she's falling hard for Gansey, and since one of her aunts foresaw Gansey's death, it's, well, messy. Like life. Now take life and add in magic and history, myth and legend.

Readers know that I like when teen books have interesting adult characters: well, this has them and then some. The enigmatic Mr. Gray -- I mean, how often is a hired killer so sympathetic and likable? (And yes, I keep picturing him as Norman Reedus). Blue's mother has disappeared, but this allows other adults to move center. And Mr. Gray's boss also enters into the picture. It's not just magic and myth that is a danger.

The only frustration with Blue Lily, Lily Blue is there is still one more book in the series. So while the adventure moves forward, and questions are answered, there's still so much more to find out

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© Elizabeth Burns of A Chair, A Fireplace & A Tea Cozy

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46. The Discreet Hero review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of the latest novel by Nobel laureate Mario Vargas Llosa to be translated into English (by Edith Grossman), The Discreet Hero.

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47. Olive Marshmallow by Katie Saunders

Olive Marshmallow is the newest book from Katie Saunders, and part of the debut line of books from a brand new publisher,  little bee books. It may seem like there are shelves full of new baby, big sibling picture books, but during my years as a bookseller, books of this genre that I wanted to read to my own growing family or recommend to customers were few and far between. I would definitely

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48. Children’s Literature Connections in San Francisco

San Francisco is thrilled to host the ALA Annual Conference again this June. The Bay Area has a rich literary tradition and children’s books definitely are a part of it. Years ago, I wrote an article for School Library Journal (Déjà Views: A Tour of San Francisco Settings You’ll Recall from Children’s Books, SLJ, June 1997) that highlighted the city’s ties to Mark Twain, Robert Louis Stevenson, Kate Douglas Wiggin, Laura Ingalls Wilder and her daughter Rose Wilder Lane, Kathryn Forbes, Berta Hader, Jade Snow Wong, Virginia Lee Burton, Eleanor Cameron and Laurence Yep. Several of the books mentioned in it are now in limited supply, if not out of print. This is not surprising: Wilder’s letters to her husband Almanzo, chronicling her journey to the city to visit their daughter, popular journalist Lane, and the Panama-Pacific International Exposition, were written 100 years ago (West from Home). Wiggin’s work to establish the first free kindergarten in San Francisco (funding it with proceeds from the sale of The Bird’s Christmas Carol) took place almost 30 years before that. Maybelle’s uphill battle to save her species—can anyone conceive of a San Francisco without its cable cars?—was based on the successful Citizens’ Committee to Save the Cable Cars, almost 70 years ago (Maybelle the Cable Car, by Virginia Lee Burton).

But the literary spirit lives on, and thrives. A list of current local children’s and teen authors and illustrators, or books set here, would be a long one.

Indulge me, then, as I mention just a few, and the ALSC Preconference: Distinguished and Diverse: Celebrate the 2015 ALSC Honor Books, on Friday, June 26, 2015, 11:30 AM – 4:00 PM, as there are several Honor Books (and their authors and illustrators) with Bay Area connections:

  • Yuyi Morales (Caldecott Honor Viva Frida) lives part time in San Francisco, and learned to make puppets from books borrowed from the Western Addition Branch Library.
  • Jon Klassen’s partner-in-imagination, Mac Barnett (Caldecott Honor Sam & Dave Dig a Hole) is from Oakland, and as teen, he was Peter Pan at Oakland’s Children’s Fairyland.
  • Belpré Illustrator Honor Little Roja Riding Hood, Susan Guevara, received her BFA from the Academy of Art University in San Francisco. Author Susan Middleton Elya lives in the Bay Area.
  • All California children benefitted from Separate is Never Equal: Sylvia Mendez & Her Family’s Fight for Desegregation (Belpré Illustrator Honor, Sibert Honor), written and illustrated by Duncan Tonatiuh.
  • Several of the illustrious people profiled in Portraits of Hispanic America Heroes (Belpré Author Honor, by Juan Felipe Herrera) are well-known to the Bay Area, including Joan Baez and Rita Moreno.
  • We are so proud of talented local illustrator Christian Robinson, who created the Sibert Honor book Josephine: The Dazzling Life of Josephine Baker with author Patricia Hruby Powell.
  • And of course, those top-of-the-food chain Neighborhood Sharks: Hunting with the Great Whites of California’s Farallon Islands (Sibert Honor by Katherine Roy) are from our neighborhood (on a clear day, I can see the Farallon Islands from the park at the end of my street).

The Gold Rush may have ended almost two centuries ago, but San Francisco continues to offer literary gold—and several have shiny silver medals this year. Please join us in honoring them, and all other ALSC book honor winners, at the ALSC Preconference. Welcome back to the Bay Area, ALA!


Today’s blog post was written Carla Kozak, the Children’s and Teen Collection Development Specialist at the San Francisco Public Library, for the Local Arrangements Committee.


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49. Lullaby & Kisses Sweet: Poems to Love With Your Baby, selected by Lee Bennet Hopkins and illustrated by Alyssa Nassner

Lullaby & Kisses Sweet: Poems to Love With Your Baby is absolutely brilliant! There are never enough good collections of poetry for children, let alone babies and toddlers, and poetry is such a vital part of learning to talk, read and love words. It makes perfect sense that Lullaby & Kisses Sweet: Poems to Love With Your Baby is brought to us by the good people at abramsappleseed, a

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50. Day 4 of the March SOLSC! #SOL15

It’s the fourth day of our month-long writing challenge. How’s it going?

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