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1. 31 Days, 31 Lists: Day Four – 2016 Great Picture Book Readalouds

31daysTo be fair, every single picture book, with the exception of the wordless ones, is a readaloud.  You’re not supposed to just silent there silent and stony when a child’s on your lap.  Picture books are meant to engage through the voice of the reader.  That said, not all of them do well when it comes to reading them to groups.  When I first because a children’s librarian I learned the hard way that some classic titles (Horton Hatches the Egg, Blueberries for Sal, etc.) die ignoble deaths at your hands when read to groups of preschoolers.  I began to rely on a core group of picture books with every storytime.  The danger with that, though, is that you never try anything new.

With all this in mind, these are some of the picture books of 2016 that I felt do particularly well when read to groups.  Obviously there are other great ones out there.  These are just the ones that come immediately to mind.

 2016 Picture Book Readalouds: For Preschoolers

Box by Min Flyte, ill. Rosalind Beardshaw


About this time you’ll start noticing some duplication between my lists.  The fact of the matter is that if a book is truly good, it isn’t just one thing.  Box appeared already on the Board Book list, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t do well as a readaloud too.  So prepare for some familiar covers!

I Dare You! by Nicole Maubert

idareyouTry running around the room with this one, getting the kids to touch the witch’s warts, pet the monsters’ fur, and stick their hands in the slathering jaws of hungry beasts.  As long as it keeps in one piece, it will be beloved.

Monsters Go Night-Night by Aaron Zenz


I adore this.  I mean talk about a book that upsets expectations.  I’m putting it on the younger list here because I can, but much like Mac Barnett and Adam Rex’s Guess Again (a highly underrated readaloud) this book upsets the expectations of its potentially jaded readership.

Grumpy Pants by Claire Messer


I had to be told by a children’s librarian in my branch that this book is a wonderful readaloud for groups.  I knew it was lovely to look at but until she spoke up I never would have thought to consider it for large groups.

2016 Picture Book Readalouds: That You Can Sing

5 Little Ducks by Denise Fleming


It still works if you don’t know the tune, but I think singing it is best.  Plus look at that duck that’s front and center on the cover.  How can you say no to that little guy?

Groovy Joe: Ice Cream & Dinosaurs by Eric Litwin, ill. Tom Lichtenheld


While the title does sound like free word associations for kids (“Name me two things your little brother would want at his birthday party”) this is the Pete the Cat author at work.  The book’s pretty catchy.  For the music, download the free song.

Old MacDonald Had a Truck by Steve Goetz, ill. Eda Kaban


For years Jessica Souhami’s version of Old MacDonald was my favorite, and it may still be at the top of the ranking (WHEN is someone going to republish it?!???), but this book is gunning to be a close second.  You’ve got Mrs. MacDonald welding, plenty of construction equipment, and just gorgeous art.  Keep an eye on that Eda Kaban.  That name may become better known in the future.


2016 Picture Book Readalouds: That Rhyme

A Dark, Dark Cave by Eric Hoffman, ill. Corey R. Tabor


Aww. This was one of my favorites early in the year.  It sort of reminds me of the Berenstain Bears classic Spooky Old Tree in a way.  Fear, it seems, is a great motivator when coming up with picture book themes.

Dinosaur Rap by John Foster, ill. Debbie Harter, sung by Mikey Henry Jr.


I usually avoid any book that includes the word “rap” anywhere near its title with a ten-foot-pole.  But the bright art and fun rhymes convinced me otherwise.  Technically I think it’s a song but I preferred reading it by itself.  The rhymes hold up.

The Forgetful Knight by Michelle Robinson, ill. Fred Blunt


So much fun with a nice little twist at the end.  And who doesn’t love a twist ending?

Hensel and Gretel Ninja Chicks by Corey Rosen Schwartz & Rebecca J. Gomez, ill. Dan Santat


Funny goes a long way with me, as you can probably tell.

A Toucan Can, Can You? by Danny Adlerman, ill. Various


I think this is the first book on any of my lists to be reviewed on the site as well.  Funny it took so long.  Adlerman and company have created a truly funny book that also works as a writing assignment.  Just smart stuff.

Swallow the Leader: A Counting Book by Danna Smith, ill. Kevin Sherry


More Kevin Sherry, please!

*holds out hand and makes a grabby motion*


2016 Picture Book Readalouds: For School Aged Kids

Chimpanzees for Tea! by Jo Empson


Remembering items from the story take a distinct turn for the silly in this book.  I’m a sucker for readalouds where the kids get to yell at the characters for doing something wrong.  In this case, the misremembered list builds to a nice chaotic frenzy over time.  My favorite trope.

The Happiest Book Ever! by Bob Shea


If ever a humor award for picture book is created, Shea’s gonna sweep it every single year.

Hocus Pocus, It’s Fall! By Anne Sibley O’Brien


I know it’s seasonal, and usually I’d limit seasonal books to a different list, but I just loved this one.  It has this little element where you open up a page to reveal something that works from a distance.  Always important when reading to groups.

I Will Not Eat You by Adam Lehrhaupt, ill. Scott Magoon


You’ll pretty much have the kids hooked when you read and show them the title.

Is That Wise Pig? by Jan Thomas, Little Red and the Very Hungry Lion by Alex T. Smith


Jan Thomas could pretty much just repeat the same image over and over in a picture book and I’d find her work splendid.  This is so funny and her art just pops.  A kid in the next county could see it if you held it up.  She’s also one of my storytime staples.

Leave Me Alone! by Vera Brosgol


It’s perfect.  No.  Really.  It is.

Max Speed by Stephen Shaskan


This was a huge hit at my kid’s daycare.  I gave them a copy and they went gaga over it.  And don’t worry.  It has a happy ending.

One Day in the Eucalyptus Eucalyptus Tree by Daniel Bernstrom, ill. by Brendan Wenzel


To a certain extent this has been overshadowed by Wenzel’s other picture book this year They All Saw a Cat.  That book has big readaloud potential in its own way, but if I were to have to pick between that and this one to read to a group, this would win every dang time.  Hands down.

Panda Pants by Jacqueline Davies, ill. Sydney Hanson


I was trying to explain to my daughter today why pants are funny.  What I should have done was just read her this book!

President Squid by Aaron Reynolds, ill. Sara Varon


Read it.  It’s cathartic.  And don’t just do it once every four years either.

Quit Calling Me a Monster! by Jory John, ill. Bob Shea


I MUCH prefer this over John & Shea’s previous outing I Will Chomp You.  That book was fine.  This one is sublime.  I adore the hairy monster and his overly professional name.

That’s Not a Hippopotamus! by Juliette Maclver, ill. Sarah Davis


It’s frentic energy reminded me, just a little, of Hallie George’s Catch That Cookie!  Had a GREAT ending too!

Interested in the other upcoming lists of this month?  Here’s the schedule so that you can keep checking back:

December 1 – Board Books

December 2 – Board Book Adaptations

December 3 – Nursery Rhymes

December 4 – Picture Book Readalouds

December 5 – Rhyming Picture Books

December 6 – Alphabet Books

December 7 – Funny Picture Books

December 8 – Calde-Nots

December 9 – Picture Book Reprints

December 10 – Math Picture Books

December 11 – Bilingual Books

December 12 – International Imports

December 13 – Books with a Message

December 14 – Fabulous Photography

December 15 – Fairy Tales / Folktales

December 16 – Oddest Books of the Year

December 17 – Older Picture Books

December 18 – Easy Books

December 19 – Early Chapter Books

December 20 – Graphic Novels

December 21 – Poetry

December 22 – Fictionalized Nonfiction

December 23 – American History

December 24 – Science & Nature Books

December 25 – Transcendent Holiday Titles

December 26 – Unique Biographies

December 27 – Nonfiction Picture Books

December 28 – Nonfiction Chapter Books

December 29 – Novel Reprints

December 30 – Novels

December 31 – Picture Books


1 Comments on 31 Days, 31 Lists: Day Four – 2016 Great Picture Book Readalouds, last added: 12/5/2016
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2. 31 Days, 31 Lists: Day Two – 2016 Great Board Book Adaptations

31daysSo what do we mean when we say “Board Book Adaptations” exactly?  Well, you’re probably familiar with the phenomenon of taking a picture book and chopping it down into a board book  When this is done poorly the end product is strange and squished.  The most egregious example of this might be the Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs board book.  With a long text appropriate for older readers, the type is tiny and even if you could read it you’d bore the toddler on your lap almost instantaneously.

That said, some board book adaptations from picture books are dead on the money.  Today, we celebrate those adaptations in 2016 that really went above and beyond the call of duty.

 2016 Board Book Adaptations


Black? White! Day? Night! by Laura Vaccaro Seeger


Actually, Ms. Seeger released a bunch of her books in a smaller, more board bookish format this year (Lemons Are Not Red, One Boy, and Walter Was Worried).  My favorite, however, remains this one.  A perfect little blending of lift-the-flap playfulness with some pretty stellar art.


Digger Man by Andrea Zimmerman & David Clemesha


Actually, I have a bone to pick with this one  You know that insidiously clever thing publishers do when they’ll put the book jackets of related titles on the back of the book you’re reading to a kid?  And then the child will insist with all kinds of whines and moans and groans that they absolutely 100% MUST have the other books, and why aren’t we going to the library RIGHT NOW to get them?  I’ve been there.  And I’ve been there because of this book.  This feels like it should have been a board book in the first place, but that’s okay.  There is an advantage to looking at the other two books in the series (Train Man and Fire Engine Man).  I now can draw the connections between the toys on the hero’s floor (including the rainbow astronaut) from book to book.  Check it out.  You’ll see what I mean.


Edible Colors/Edible Numbers by Jennifer Vogel Bass


Utterly beautiful produce photographed against a white background.  Lois Ehlert may have cornered the market on alphabetical produce, but clearly colors and numbers were still up for grabs.  Great adaptations.


A Kiss Means I Love You by Kathryn Madeline Allen, photos by Eric Futran


Of all the books on this list, this was the one I was literally waiting for for years.  A Kiss Means I Love You (an insipid title that belies the brilliance inside) came out originally in 2012 when I my daughter was a one-year-old.  Naturally, the moment my second child grew old enough to appreciate books with thinner pages, that was when the board book version was released.  It doesn’t matter.  Run, don’t walk, to give it to a baby you know.  And, while you’re at it, also by the companion board book (also out this year) Show Me Happy, by the same author/illustrator team.


Night Owl by Toni Yuly


Yuly has a style that was born for board books.  When Night Owl was first released I liked it just fine, but I think I actually prefer it in its current board book incarnation.  It just makes good clean sense.


Numbers by John J. Reiss


I think this constitutes the oldest book on this list adapted to a board book format since the original came out in 1982.  I’d love to know the sheer amount of work that went into this adaptation.  Did they find the original art?  Did they just get a book, scan it, and touch up the art’s brightness on a computer?  No idea.  Just a lovely product in the end.


Sing by Joe Raposo, ill. Tom Lichtenheld


Of the books on this list, this is the one you can actually sing.  It was always a little too short to truly work as a picture book.  As a board book it’s a much better fit.  La la la la la . . .


This Train by Paul Collicutt


I need to find the original picture book just to double check, but this book made for an ideal adaptation.  The limited word count, incredibly bright and beautiful pictures, and sheer swath of different kinds of trains works.  Be sure to also check out this year’s board book of This Plane, by Collicutt too.


Whose Shoes? A Shoe for Every Job by Stephen R. Swinburne


When Tana Hoban died she left a great big concept-book-gap in the marketplace.  You can only reprint her books so many times before they get dated.  That’s why I’m eternally grateful for books like this one.   Shoes + occupations = a winning team.

Interested in the other upcoming lists of this month?  Here’s the schedule so that you can keep checking back:

December 1 – Board Books

December 2 – Board Book Adaptations

December 3 – Nursery Rhymes

December 4 – Picture Book Readalouds

December 5 – Rhyming Picture Books

December 6 – Alphabet Books

December 7 – Funny Picture Books

December 8 – Calde-Nots

December 9 – Picture Book Reprints

December 10 – Math Picture Books

December 11 – Bilingual Books

December 12 – International Imports

December 13 – Books with a Message

December 14 – Fabulous Photography

December 15 – Fairy Tales / Folktales

December 16 – Oddest Books of the Year

December 17 – Older Picture Books

December 18 – Easy Books

December 19 – Early Chapter Books

December 20 – Graphic Novels

December 21 – Poetry

December 22 – Fictionalized Nonfiction

December 23 – American History

December 24 – Science & Nature Books

December 25 – Transcendent Holiday Titles

December 26 – Unique Biographies

December 27 – Nonfiction Picture Books

December 28 – Nonfiction Chapter Books

December 29 – Novel Reprints

December 30 – Novels

December 31 – Picture Books


1 Comments on 31 Days, 31 Lists: Day Two – 2016 Great Board Book Adaptations, last added: 12/5/2016
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3. 31 Days, 31 Lists: Day One – 2016 Great Board Books

31daysWe kick off our 31 Days, 31 Lists at the lowest age level imaginable.  Finding quality board books for babies and toddlers is a challenge.  It’s not enough to simply have thick pages.  You need to be able to engage the interest and attention of someone who is still developing their visual and auditory processing skills.

That said, there is a belief amongst some people that board books are for babies alone.  Not so.  As the mother of a very active 2-year-old I can attest that one is prone to sighs of relief when he is in a room alone with a board book as opposed to a picture book with oh-so-tearable pages.

On this list today I am including a range of board book ages, as well as books that fall under the board book banner because they are big and thick and have pop-up elements or tabs, but are not a standard board book size.

Think I missed something brilliant that came out this year? If it’s an adaptation from a longer picture book you’ll find that list here tomorrow.  Otherwise, leave me a comment.  I loved these, but I am not a committee.


2016 Board Books: For Babies

Blue and Other Colors with Henri Matisse


When I was a kid I had this pack of playing cards with famous pieces of art on each one.  That was pretty cool.  These days even the babies are getting colorful books from the masters.  Some of these books don’t make a lick of sense, but this one does.  Matisse’s bold blocks of color are just right for developing brains.  A book that goes beyond its concept.

Hat On, Hat Off by Theo Heras, ill. Renne Benoit


Babies like babies.  And after encountering this adorable one, you’ll like them too.

Lions Roar (and others in the series) by Rebecca Glaser


I have no idea if this Amicus series has a name.  All I know is that the books (which in 2016 included Monkeys Swing, Elephants Spray, Giraffes Stretch, and more) are a HUGE hit in my home.  Animal sounds + full color photographs of those animals is a winning combination.

Noisy Baby Animals by Patricia Hegarty


What is the sound of a thousand librarians cursing my name en masse?  Ah yes.  There it is.  I know it well.  This book probably won’t be beloved to those with an MLIS degree when it’s IN the library (bit on the noisy side, it is) but I am all for books that cheat.  Hey, man.  If it takes crazy sounds to get a baby to love books, I say go for it.  And you have to admit that Tiger Tales does it well.

Peek-a-boo by Ruth Musgrave


When in doubt, go with the photographs.

Stanley’s Colors by William Bee


There were a couple Stanley board books released this year, but of those titles this was my favorite.  Possibly because it also involved vehicles.  A twofer!

The Wheels on the Bus by Yu-Hsuan Huang


Not many board books out this year allowed you to sing.  This is one of the few, and while it is far too short for a truly satisfying read, it’s interactive, bouncy, and colorful.  Sort of like a Bizzy Bear book with a song.

One, Two, Three Mother Goose by Iona Opie, ill. Rosemary Wells


If it is important to you to introduce your children to nursery rhymes as soon as humanly possible, Wells is the way to go.  Some folks may opt to wait on this until their children are toddlers, but either way this is an essential part of any kid’s library.


2016 Board Books: For Toddlers

Baby Loves: Aerospace Engineering!/Quarks! by Ruth Spiro, ill. Irene Chan


babylovesquarksOkay now.  Before you start with the eye rolling, hear me out.  Have you ever actually read these books?  I know they look like a science-y version of Cozy Classics or other adult concepts siphoned down to board book formats.  Go into them, though, and they’re clever.  Just big concepts made palatable.  The titles may have a shock effect, but the contents are worth considering.  Plus we don’t have much in the way of science-related board books AT ALL these days.

Box by Min Flyte, ill. Rosalind Beardshaw


I gave a copy of this to my child’s daycare and they were quick to tell me that it was the hit of the room.  It’s the size of a regular picture book but the contents and tabs make it quite certainly toddler fare.

Clive and His Babies by Jessica Spanyol


Awwww, yeah!  Clive is my new favorite stereotype-busting preschooler.  You play with those babies, Clive!  Go, man, go!

Crocopotamus by Mary Murphy


Did they ever come up with a name for these books?  Which is to say, the kind where you can flip the front and the back to come up with different combinations?  Whatever the case, this one took a little getting used to, but once the kids grasped the concept they really ran with it!

Give and Take by Lucie Felix


The most ambitious board book on this list.  I have little doubt that its pieces will disappear almost instantly upon a first read, but if you want to present someone with a board book that wows and impresses them, this is the one you pick.

I Dare You! by Nicole Maubert

idareyouThis turned out to be an EXCELLENT preschooler readaloud around Halloween.  I think it truly won me over when I had to put my hand in a crazy creature’s mouth.  Still get shudders just thinking about it.

Little Chickies / Los Pollitos by Susie Jaramillo

 littlechickiesA bilingual, interactive, accordion board book?!?  That’s like striking gold!  This Spanish/English combo pack is extraordinarily rare, and then to find that it’s hugely engaging to kids one-on-one or in groups just tips it over the top.

Look, Look Again by Agnese Baruzzi


Plays with perceptions, assumptions, and predictions.  Awfully pertinent stuff in 2016, wouldn’t you say?  You can never teach it too early.

Love Is a Truck by Amy Novesky, ill. Sara Gillingham


Love IS a truck!  At least it is to my son, and this book is right on the money.  There’s a companion title called Love Is a Tutu, but I’m Team Truck.  It’s great to see Sara Gillingham bringing out a new book or two too.

Maisy’s Moon Landing by Lucy Cousins


One of those picture/board book combos.  Did I say science was lacking in the board book category?  Maisy has always been on hand to battle that problem.  This is one of the simplest moon landing stories I’ve ever seen, but I kind of adore it.  Nothing wrong with a little Maisy when the book’s as well-constructed as this.

Music Is by Brandon Stosuy, ill. Amy Martin


One of the trendier board books out there (check out those headphones if you don’t believe me) but that doesn’t mean it isn’t great.

My Heart Fills With Happiness by Monique Gray Smith, ill. Julie Flett


I don’t normally go in for the feel good board books out there, but this one’s special.  Smith and Flett have gotten it right.

Once Upon a World: Cinderella by Chloe Perkins, ill. Sandra Equihua


There are a couple titles in this series so far.  Of them, this is probably the most successful.  I would have loved a bilingual or Spanish version as well.  Perhaps something for the publisher to think about in the future, eh?

Peekaboo Pals: Opposites by Gareth Lucas


Again, there were a couple books released in the “Peekaboo Pals” series this year.  Of them, this was the strongest.  It came up with a couple opposite examples that I haven’t seen done to death before.  No mean feat.

Shapes by John J. Reiss


I believe that this is a reprint, but I think it belongs here.  Check out those vibrant hues!  Now good luck getting to sleep tonight.

Tinyville Town: I’m a Firefighter / I’m a Veterinarian by Brian Biggs



These are fabulous!  They go through each occupation’s day from sunrise to sunset.  Though, if I’m going to be honest here, I’m pretty much just biding my time until the next in the series comes out: Librarian.

To the Rescue by Kate Riggs, ill. Nate Williams


Really visually striking.  Not just for those kids already into firetrucks ,that’s for sure.

We Sang You Home by Richard Van Camp, ill. Julie Flett


Flett’s having a good year!  And like My Heart Fills With Happiness, this book features a cast of First Nations children.


Interested in the other upcoming lists of this month?  Here’s the schedule so that you can keep checking back:

December 2 – Board Book Adaptations

December 3 – Nursery Rhymes

December 4 – Picture Book Readalouds

December 5 – Rhyming Picture Books

December 6 – Alphabet Books

December 7 – Funny Picture Books

December 8 – Calde-Nots

December 9 – Picture Book Reprints

December 10 – Math Picture Books

December 11 – Bilingual Books

December 12 – International Imports

December 13 – Books with a Message

December 14 – Fabulous Photography

December 15 – Fairy Tales / Folktales

December 16 – Oddest Books of the Year

December 17 – Older Picture Books

December 18 – Easy Books

December 19 – Early Chapter Books

December 20 – Graphic Novels

December 21 – Poetry

December 22 – Fictionalized Nonfiction

December 23 – American History

December 24 – Science & Nature Books

December 25 – Transcendent Holiday Titles

December 26 – Unique Biographies

December 27 – Nonfiction Picture Books

December 28 – Nonfiction Chapter Books

December 29 – Novel Reprints

December 30 – Novels

December 31 – Picture Books


8 Comments on 31 Days, 31 Lists: Day One – 2016 Great Board Books, last added: 12/5/2016
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4. Something’s Coming . . . I Don’t Know What It Is But It Is Gonna Be Great!

The title of this post isn’t entirely accurate.  I know perfectly well what’s coming.  Tomorrow starts off a magnificent run of Best Books lists.  Yes, starting December 1st I will begin running the 31 Days, 31 Lists streak.  I even have a catchy visual to go with it!  Check it out:


You’ll be seeing a lot more of it in the coming month.

The premise behind all this is simple.  For each day in December I will run a “Best Of” list of some sort.  The reason for this is that I’ve read so many books this year that it seems a shame that I only review roughly one a month.  This will be a way of celebrating everything I’ve failed to properly praise.  Also, some lists are more useful to folks than others, so why not provide a variety?  Here’s the schedule:

December 1 – Board Books

December 2 – Board Book Adaptations

December 3 – Nursery Rhymes

December 4 – Picture Book Readalouds

December 5 – Rhyming Picture Books

December 6 – Alphabet Books

December 7 – Funny Picture Books

December 8 – Calde-Nots

December 9 – Picture Book Reprints

December 10 – Math Picture Books

December 11 – Bilingual Books

December 12 – International Imports

December 13 – Books with a Message

December 14 – Fabulous Photography

December 15 – Fairy Tales / Folktales

December 16 – Oddest Books of the Year

December 17 – Older Picture Books

December 18 – Easy Books

December 19 – Early Chapter Books

December 20 – Graphic Novels

December 21 – Poetry

December 22 – Fictionalized Nonfiction

December 23 – American History

December 24 – Science & Nature Books

December 25 – Transcendent Holiday Titles

December 26 – Unique Biographies

December 27 – Nonfiction Picture Books

December 28 – Nonfiction Chapter Books

December 29 – Novel Reprints

December 30 – Novels

December 31 – Picture Books

Now the caveat.  I say I’ve read a lot of books for kids this year.  This is not an untrue statement.  However, I am no longer on NYPL’s 100 Books committee and I no longer have travel time to devote to books.  That means that my knowledge of longer nonfiction and novels is very limited.  I will strive to make it clear that those lists are limited only to what I have seen.  And, of course, being only one person I can only vouch for what comes my way.  There are definitely going to be gaps, but I refuse to include any book I haven’t read personally.

So get ready for an interesting test.  How will it go?  Will I be able to keep the pace?  Will be choices be slapdash crazy?

Stay tuned . . .


5 Comments on Something’s Coming . . . I Don’t Know What It Is But It Is Gonna Be Great!, last added: 12/5/2016
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5. Walking and Talking with . . . Grace Lin!

Steve Sheinkin is back with his beloved series!  If you’re unfamiliar with it, Steve has a conversation with an author of books for kids or teens and then plucks from it the best parts.  So in spite of the fact that he has a brand new book out in early 2017 (Undefeated: Jim Thorpe and the Carlisle Indian School Football Team) he still took time to give us this great discussion with Grace Lin.  For the full list of interviews, see the links at the bottom of this post.



Catch up with the whole series!


5 Comments on Walking and Talking with . . . Grace Lin!, last added: 12/5/2016
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6. Fusenews: Some remedies are worse than the disease itself

Happy day after the day after Thanksgiving.  Today I’m going to start you off on serious news story and that will pretty much set the tone for the day.


hatespeechI live in Evanston, IL.  It’s home to Northwestern University and like a lot of college towns it’s a pretty liberal place.  We sit just north of Chicago.  We’re are ethnically and economically diverse.  We like to think we live apart from the rest of the world in a little bubble.  We don’t and it behooves us to remember that.  Unfortunately, we can be reminded in rather horrible ways sometimes.  Last Monday evening one of my librarians discovered that a number of books on Muslim topics had been defaced with hate speech, swastikas, and offensive comments.  Seven were specific to Islam.  One of them was Glenn Beck’s It Is About Islam.  The community responded swiftly and wonderfully, but it’s become a very big story.  I’m replacing the books now.


It’s almost here!  New York Public Library’s list of 100 children’s books is about to be officially released.  Recently renamed 100 Best Books for Kids (an unfortunate moniker but NYPL is very keen on the word “Best” these days) it has an interesting selection.  Odd choices too, like the fact that some of the nonfiction picture books in with the picture books section and some are in the nonfiction section.  Some titles I haven’t heard of too, so I’m super excited to look into those.  I did that list for something around 5-6 years, so my love for it is strong.  Additionally, there’s a new list of 50 YA books on there as well.  Win-win!


The Term “Graphic Novel” Has Had a Good Run. We Don’t Need It Anymore.  I have no horse in this race. Glen fails to mention libraries in the piece, which I don’t think is his fault.  He’s just ill-informed.  Getting comics into the mainstream meant getting libraries on board, and the term “graphic novel” was very useful when it came to justifying such a book on our shelves.  We still use it.  Maybe it’s outdated.  I dunno.  I could go any which way.  Still, until comics are used regularly in schools without massive quantities of eyebrow raising, I’ll not believe that comics have “arrived” quite yet.


The Undies are here!  The Undies are here!  If you haven’t voted over at 100 Scope Notes for the best case cover of a picture book in 2016, now is the time.


691. That’s how many children’s authors and illustrators signed The Brown Bookshelf’s Declaration in Support of Children.  In it, it states, “we will create stories that offer authentic and recognizable reflections of themselves, as well as relatable insight into experiences which on the surface appear markedly different.”  On the librarian side of the equation, bloggers like Roxanne Feldmann have published things like A Commitment to Social Justices and Compassion.  In the comment section Bob Kanegis posted the 1955 dedication written by the United Nations Women’s Guild in their book Ride With the Sun: An Anthology of Folk Tales and Stories from the United Nations.  It read:

The Children’s Charter
“There shall be peace on earth; but not until
Each child shall daily eat his fill;
Go warmly clad against the winter wind
And learn his lessons with a tranquil mind.
And thus released from hunger, fear, and need
Regardless of his color, race or creed,
Look upwards, smiling to the skies, His faith in man reflected in his eyes.”


badlittleRelated.  A not-really-a-children’s-book children’s book is coming out from Abrams called Bad Little Children’s Books by Arthur C. Gackley.  You’ve seen this kind of thing online before.  They take Little Golden Book styled illustrations and covers and then put some snarky comment with them.  This just collects a whole bunch of them.  No doubt some of you will receive it this holiday seasons from relatives who think, “You like children’s books therefore you will find this hilarious.”  And it wouldn’t even be worth mentioning except for one cover in there that sort of moves it from mildly amusing to not amusing at all.  One of the parody covers is called Happy Burkaday, Timmy. Accompanying it is a picture of a little girl in a burka holding a bomb.  So.  That.  Now you know.  Thanks to Sharon Levin for the info.


Let us turn our eyes to happier news.  When the Wichita, Kansas chapter of Black Lives Matter and the Wichita Police Department held a mutual cookout, this captured the attention of the publisher Tanglewood.  So moved, they decided to partner with libraries in some fashion.  They donated 250 copies of The Kissing Hand to libraries that agreed to host an event in a community where gun violence had occurred.  Then library partners were encouraged to work with a local chapter of Black Lives Matter (or similar organization) and the local law enforcement so both groups would have an equal part in delivering the donated books into the community.  “Library partners were encouraged to work with a local chapter of Black Lives Matter (or similar organization) and the local law enforcement so both groups would have an equal part in delivering the donated books into the community.”  Curious?  More information here.


Vicky Smith recently alerted us to an interesting topic.  While at the Maine Library Association conference she attended a workshop about the, “critlib movement in Maine. If you’re not familiar with critlib, it’s an attempt to marry critical race theory with librarianship in a pretty fascinating way. It encourages librarians to examine the ways the discipline privileges the dominant culture – for instance, Library of Congress cataloging places queer topics, consensual kink, and child sexual predation in the same conceptual bucket.”  FYI.


Daily Image:

I couldn’t say it better than Cameron Suey did.  “Damn, Aesop is subtweeting America, hard.”



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7. 2017 Picture Books I’m Really Looking Forward To

Ending on a preposition and regretting nothing.

Here are the 2017 books I’ve seen that I’ve found positively delightful.  These are all completely and utterly worthy.  Put them on your To Be Read list today:

Baby’s First Words by Christiane Engel


I like a good book for the little littles where the fact that a kid has two dads is part of the equation but not the focus.  Additionally, there’s a stay-at-home dad here that’s awesome.


Home and Dry by Sarah L. Smith


A peculiar little book, but I was very fond of its love of all things soggy.


Mrs. White Rabbit by Giles Bachelet

mrswhiterabbitIt is French.  It is funny.  You will enjoy it.  Particularly the Alice in Wonderland in-jokes.


My Beautiful Birds by Suzanne Del Rizzo


A Syrian refugee picture book done in an entirely different medium – clay!


Prince Ribbit by Jonathan Emmett, ill. Poly Bernatene


Look. Any book that teaches kids to read everything critically is a necessary purchase in my book. Plus this is from the guys that brought us The Princess and the Pig, so that’s awesome right there.


Rabbit Magic by Meg McLaren


Books with tons of tiny details hidden within the pages are easy sells.  I love the delicacy of the art here.


There Might Be Lobsters by Carolyn Crimi, ill. Laurel Molk


At first it just looks like a story about a dog overcoming fears, but the text reads aloud particularly well.


Tony by Ed Galing, ill. Erin E. Stead


I won’t!  I won’t fall in love with this adapted poem about a boy and his love for the milkman’s horse!  I won’t, I say!  I . . . oh, darn it.  Too late.


The Unexpected Love Story of Alfred Fiddleduckling by Timothy Basil Ering


Ering tends to write longer picture books.  This was has more heart in its little finger than most books have in their whole bodies.


Waiting for Pumpsie by Barry Wittenstein, ill. London Ladd


Kids could easily get the impression that after Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier it was smooth sailing for African-Americans in baseball.  This book shoots down that myth elegantly and well.


When the Rain Comes by Alma Fullerton, ill. Kim La Fave


Remarkably dramatic for something so short.


XO OX by Adam Rex, ill. Scott Campbell


The return of Scott Campbell!  The pairing of Adam Rex!  And I’m calling it now: The most fabulous romantic pairing of 2017.


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8. Beware of Exploding (Numbers of) Nutcrackers

nutcracker-1It sort of feels like someone took a starting pistol and called out to the universe, “Nutcracker picture books!  On your mark . . . get set . . . . GO!”  And off they went!

2016, for whatever reason, has turned out to be a VERY Nutcracker heavy year.  If you are unaware or only vaguely familiar with what The Nutcracker is, I will sum up.  In 1816 Prussian Romantic author E.T.A. Hoffman wrote an odd little children’s story called The Nutcracker and the Mouse King.  It was this wild bit of imagining about a girl who receives a nutcracker from her uncle and the fantastical story that ensues.  There’s even a story within a story, which concerns the tale of the Princess Pirlipat and the nut she had to eat to break a spell.  It’s good and trippy.  There was even a version of it illustrated by Maurice Sendak.

In time this story was adapted by Alexander Dumas into merely The Nutcracker.  And from that tale we get the two-act balled choreographed by Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov with a score by Tchaikovsky.

nutcrackerballetFor a long time the ballet was done exactly the same way every year.  Then people started to get creative.  In 1983, Maurice Sendak (who had four years before adapted Where the Wild Things Are to the stage) designed the set for the Pacific Northwestern Ballet’s production of Nutcracker.  It was a massive hit partly, as Maria Popova puts it, because it embraced, “Hoffmann’s essential weirdness”.  Looking at the art Sendak did for the accompanying book, one really wonders why he never illustrated Struwwelpeter at any point in his career.  But I digress.

The Sendak production ran with the Pacific Northwestern Ballet until 2014 when it finally ended its run.  Weep not, little children, if you feel you might have missed a chance to see a true children’s book master’s hand on a Nutcracker production.  I come with tidings of great joy.  Here in Chicago the Joffrey Ballet is presenting from December 10th-30th a production of The Nutcracker choreographed by Christopher Wheeldon, with puppets by Basil Twist and costumes and sets by Julian Crouch and our very own Brian Selznick.  Marvelous, no?  The show will this time be set during Chicago’s 1893 World’s Fair.  Just bounce that thought around your noggin for a while.

nutcrackercomesOn the book side of things, stories about the Nutcracker are abundant.  Last year we saw a couple come out, as well as a nice behind-the-scenes story by Chris Barton called The Nutcracker Comes to America.  That may well be the only nonfiction title related to The Nutcracker you’ll find on your shelves, by the way.

This year Nutcrackers have multiplied like so many Mouse King heads.  I have found six for starters.  Yet for all that they’re now common, writing this book is an incredibly difficult affair.  The struggle each one of these books is figuring out how to tell a story that is both familiar to those kids who are either in the ballet or have seen it, and also has some relation to the original source material.  To put it plainly, there have been mixed results.

The Nutcracker by Grace Maccarone, ill. Celia Chauffrey


This is one of those books that certainly feels as though it was created to appeal primarily to those kids that get to act in a production of The Nutcracker as party guests and mice.  The entire trip to the Land of Sweets is kept incredibly short.  All told it’s a pretty rote retelling of the ballet specifically.  Perfectly decent but not a top pick.

The Nutcracker by the New York City Ballet, ill. Valeria Docampo


Apparently an entire ballet company is capable of writing a book together.  Here the fact that the show IS a ballet is never forgotten (the cover makes that much clear).  Yet the name of our heroine isn’t Clara, as most productions of The Nutcracker name her, but Marie.  That’s her name in the original Hoffman book!  Yet the book itself acts as a younger introduction for kids to the show.  The kind of title you’d read to a five-year-old who was about to go and see their first performance.

The Nutcracker by Kate Davies, ill. Niroot Puttapipat


Just a quick note here.  Remember how I said that in the original Hoffman story there was an odd little subplot involving a character with the name Princess Pirlipat?  How likely is it that a Puttapipat would illustrate a book that originally contained a Pirlipat?  The editing gods work in mysterious ways.  This is one of the lovelier Nutcrackers out this year and for good reason.  The silhouettes are delicate and delightful and the small pop-up details even nicer.  Both the original Hoffman and the subsequent Dumas stories have been combined here to try and bridge the gap between ballet and text.

The Nutcracker by E.T.A. Hoffman, ill. Lisbeth Zwerger


It’s not entirely fair to include this since this is technically a reprint, but the original has been unavailable for years.  This is Hoffman’s original story but instead of Sendak’s art you have Zwerger’s.  She doesn’t necessarily tap into the oddities of the text, but she has the dreamlike aspects down pat.  A lovely one.

The Nutcracker and the Mouse King, retold by Renate Raecke, ill. Yana Sedova


I think that when it comes to the story and the mix of text and image, this may well be the most successful.  Like the Puttapipat version it does a good job of building a bridge between the ballet and the original story.  It also, as you can see here, is has some of the best art.  This is my own personal pick of the lot.

E.T.A. Hoffman’s The Nutcracker by Jack Wang and Holman Wang


Aww. The latest from Cozy Classics. I couldn’t finish this post without paying tribute to this one.  If you know a kid in a production of this show, just get them this book.  It’s quick.  It’s cute.  And it does a darn good job of showing a ballet slipper in flight in felt.  And what more, I ask you, do you really and truly need in this life but that?


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9. Hipy Papy Bthuthdy

Facebook just told me that it's Winnie-the-Pooh's 90th birthday today.  It's not.  The book, Winnie-the-Pooh, was 90 years old in October.  (Wikipedia gives the date of Milne's first children's story about The Bear of Little Brain as 1924.  History!  It's a puzzle.) The Queen (Elizabeth II) turned 90 in April.  Coincidence?  Hmmmm.

Still, since the Winnie-the-Pooh books count in my Top Five All Time Favorite Books Written for Young People, I jump at a chance to praise them again.

Click here, for an interview with the author of a new Winnie-the-Pooh picture book, Winnie-the-Pooh and the Royal Birthday by Jane Riordan.  I am grateful that the illustrator, Mark Burgess, tried hard to mimic Ernest H. Shepard's iconic artwork - and not the cutesy cartoons of the Disney studio.  (This is a Disney book.)

I love the book, Finding Winnie: The True Story of the World's Most Famous Bear by Lindsay Mattick.  So, here's another chance to plug THAT book. 

90 years of Winnie and Piglet and Owl and Rabbit (and Eeyore who is the embodiment of a parenthetical remark) - it's hard for me to imagine an English-speaking world without them!

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Continuing to work on Cloud series....

Will teach Calligraphy again, and a newer class, Acrylic Painting.
Wouldn't teach Watercolor again 'till the Spring or Summer.

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11. 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.

12. 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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13. 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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14. 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!

    15. 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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    16. 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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    17. 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.


    18. 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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    19. #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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    20. 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.

    21. 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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    22. 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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    23. 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.

    24. 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. 

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

    snowwhiteSnow White: A Graphic Novel
    By Matt Phelan
    Candlewick Press
    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 of 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 pig’s heart 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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    26. 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.

    27. 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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    28. 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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    29. 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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    30. 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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    31. 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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    32. 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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    33. 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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    34. 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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    35. 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!

    Debbie Reese
    American Indians in Children's Literature

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    36. This Buck Piece for David Blaine is One of the Year’s Best Commercial Efforts

    Pulling graphic influences from a variety of sources, Buck delivers one of the most imaginative advertising pieces of 2016.

    The post This Buck Piece for David Blaine is One of the Year’s Best Commercial Efforts appeared first on Cartoon Brew.

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    37. throwback Thursday to one of my favorite drawings....

    6x8 graphite on bristol
    and my current WIP/commission.

    let me start by saying i always consider any/every commission a blessing but when they are back to back really kind wonderful clients, well that just makes the "blessing" so much sweeter.

    a couple of weeks ago the sweetest lady came to me wanting to completely redo her daughter's bedroom based on a few of my drawings (really?! this is really my life?! hashtag-blessed) and wanted this particular drawing turned into a painting because it looks smooch like her adorable little girl who happens to be a "budding artist" herself. i wound up selling her some prints and taking on this commission...painting her ginger haired, december born baby girl (ginger...winter...december...three of my favorite things....destiny, indeed). 

    this is and always has been (and always will be) my philosophy...treat your customers like friends, make personal connections with them and they will come back to you time and time again. always staying true to myself...

    "Nicole has been absolutely fantastic to work with! She is extremely responsive and has really worked with us to accommodate our special requests. The prints we ordered are absolutely beautiful! She shipped them out quickly and were packaged with great care. Nicole is an amazing artist! When you work with her you don't only get a quality product, you get great customer service. We look forward to working with her again!"

    thank you, sara...for your kind words, becoming a "friend" and giving me a really good *excuse* to paint a ginger, winter loving little girl.


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    38. How to draw a bee!

    Here are my instructions for drawing a bee, from my ebook Don't Juggle Bees!
    Get buzzy!

    illustration of stages in drawing a cartoon bee

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    39. Harts Pass No. 323

    Perhaps a lot of similar sentiments this past week... but wolverines DON'T actually hibernate, so stay vigilant and keep the checks and balances of our government accountable!

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    40. Artist of the Day: Daria Tessler

    Discover the art of Daria Tessler, Cartoon Brew's Artist of the Day.

    The post Artist of the Day: Daria Tessler appeared first on Cartoon Brew.

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    41. ZOO DIARY - Thanksgiving - a fowl day for turkeys

    In recognition of the up-coming U.S. Thanksgiving holiday.



    Thanksgiving eve. The zoo denizens are upset with the zoo directorate having not been included in the Thanksgiving celebrations


    Once again, we’re not included in Thanksgiving celebrations


    Did you really expect to? I mean, why should they? Who are we? Merely the tools in which they make money. That’s all - and how do they thank us? Closing the zoo for the day so we can’t even expect extra treats from visitors. This is so typically…human


    What’s that noise?


    Noise? What noise? Are my stripes straight?


    You don’t hear that?


    ‘You are magnificent… Those teeth…those sparkling eyes…’


    Maybe if you’d get your face away from that mirror and stop admiring yourself…


    A person has to make sure that he looks good from every angle. Being the sole representative of the zebra specie in this zoo comes with a responsibility. A daily body examination is necessary to ensure that all my black stripes are evenly spaced on my perfectly white skin. ‘Yesssss! Perfection personified!’


    Far be it to burst your bubble, Zeeb…


    …I am not zeeb - or zebby - or zeeby-baby. I’m a zebra. Z-E-B-R-A!


    Gotcha Zebby-boy – like I was sayin’ – the way that I see it, the stripe on your upper right leg doesn’t well…match the left


    What?! You must be mistaken. It’s not possible… How could this be? I just checked it not two minutes ago and it was perfectly aligned

    (MANNY, the boa constrictor slithers in)

    Hey – how ‘ya doin’?


    Manny – you’re out. Free. Did you eat lunch, yet?


    Yes Manny – I do hope they’ve fed you some nourishment. I mean, it’s important to keep up your strength. We don’t want you slithering around hungry looking for anybody, heh-heh…


    That’s the last thing we need - being that we’re your friends and all - that is to say, we don’t want you to experience hunger pangs…


    As I remember, I had a nibble a month ago but no in between snacks since then. Sure is quiet around here. No humans to knock on the glass of my enclosure. One day...one sweet day...someone is gonna hit hard enough to break the glass and they'll find out why my knick-name is Mr. Squeeze



    There it is again. Sounds familiar-like

    (a turkey suddenly drops down from a tree)


    Save me!


    A tree chicken. How unique. 


    I am a turkey who requires sanctuary


    Listen chicken sweetheart…


    …turkey…I am – um – an endangered specie. Yes – that’s it - and am declaring myself on the extinct list thus requiring sanctuary


    You must be someone important judging by your extensive vocabulary. All cultured and important species have an extensive vocabulary – and a beautiful body, of course (zebra looks at himself in the mirror) You handsome fool!


    I am very important. In fact, I can state with absolute knowledge that I am number one on everyone’s hit list, today

    (slithering closer)

    Well I for one, believe you. You do look very appealing – in an endangered species way of course


    Wish we could help, turkey, but we live out in the open with nowhere to hide


    I could send a protest letter to the Zoos of America if that could assist you in any way


    I am doomed!

    (slithering almost directly in front of TURKEY)

    Well turkey – really feel for you, in the true sense of the word. I just happen to live inside in a huge glass enclosure that has lots of hiding places.  Why don’t you come back to my place and check things out? I live alone and there’s nobody to bother or see us

    That’s a very generous offer on your part –


    -          Manny –




    Anything for a friend in need.

    (the two start to make their way to MANNY’s place)

    (cont’d.) Did anyone ever tell you that you have a beautiful, full body. I bet under all those feathers, you have nice firm flesh


    The farmer took good care of me up until before Thanksgiving. You can see for yourself when we get back to your pit.


    Oh I intend to


    Can I give you a hug?


    Later…when we’re alone…they’ll be plenty of hugging to go around

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    42. FREE kindle ebook for middle grade children from R. L. Toalson - FREE EBOOK OF THE DAY!

    Free on amazon today! ( This is the introduction to an epic middle grade fantasy series)
    Check out the preview:

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    43. Movie month, day 17

    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 genre? What is your favorite movie in your favorite genre?

    My favorite genre. I have two that sometimes overlap. I LOVE musicals. I LOVE period dramas.

    Favorite movie in my favorite genre. I could never pick just one. My top ten of historical musicals.

    10) Calamity Jane
    9) South Pacific
    8) Moulin Rouge
    7) Singin' in the Rain
    6) King and I
    5) Holiday Inn
    4) My Fair Lady
    3) High Society
    2) The Sound of Music
    1) Music Man 

    © 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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    44. Titles

    Although it's like your title will be changed before publication, you still want to choose a good one to help attract the attention of an agent or editor.


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    45. *New* Gingerbread Man Tutorial and Giveaway!

    Hi Friends!
    I just released my new Gingerbread Pancake video tutorial. It’s a fun way to kick of the Christmas season! Check it out here

    It’s been on my heart for awhile now to give out Bibles through my pancake art ministry and I’m super happy to announce that I’m partnering with Faithgirlz today to make that dream a reality!! Yay!

    Faithgirlz will be giving out 5 Bibles this Christmas season and all you need to do is enter below!

    If your not familiar with Faithgirlz, it’s an awesome Christian company which pours into the lives of Tween age girls 9-12 years old by creating Bibles, devotionals, fictional stories and products for them.
    My daughter and I have enjoyed reading together several of their fiction books. There’s a real need out there for faith filled fiction for this tween age and their company really fills this void in the marketplace.

    I help teach a Tween Club at our church and so this age bracket is really close to my heart.

    Isn’t this owl Bible for the giveaway sooooo adorable?!! As an added bonus, it has features written in it by Nancy Rue. We love her books! 

    To enter, say “Yes” in the comments below. Please make sure you have a Blogger/YouTube/Google+ account or list your email in the comment so that I have a way to contact you. One entry per person. Be sure to read my giveaway guidelines. By entering, you agree to follow them. Blessings in Christ!
    The giveaway will be between November 17th-December 2nd (and ends at midnight Central Time zone).

    Thanks Faithgirlz for your generous blessing!

    1. ENTRY:  The giveaway is being hosted by Jenni Price Pancake Art. No purchase necessary to enter or win. One entry per person. Contestants will enter by saying "Yes" in the comments.

    2. ELIGIBILITY: This contest is open only to legal U.S. residents, over the age of 18. If you are under 18 and would like to enter, please have a parent or legal guardian enter for you. The giveaway is subject to all applicable federal, state, and local laws and regulations. Void where prohibited.  Agreement to Rules: By participating, the Contestant (“You”) agree to be fully unconditionally bound by these Rules, and You represent and warrant that You meet the eligibility requirements. In addition, You agree to accept the decisions of Jenni Price Pancake Art as final and binding as it relates to the content of this giveaway.

    3. WINNER SELECTION:  Five random winners will be selected from the entries by a drawing under the supervision of Jenni Price Pancake Art. No cash or other prize substitution shall be permitted. The prize is nontransferable. No substitution of prize or request for the cash equivalent by Winner is permitted.  The odds of winning depend on the number of eligible entries received.

    4. PRIZES:  One Faithgirlz Bible per winner. Five Bibles will be given out total.

    5. WINNER NOTIFICATION: Winner will be notified within five (5) days following selection of Winner.  Jenni Price Pancake Art. shall have no liability for Winner’s failure to receive notices due to spam, junk e-mail or other security settings or for Winner’s provision of incorrect or otherwise non-functioning contact information. If Winner cannot be contacted, is ineligible, fails to claim the prize within 5 days from the time award notification was sent, or fails to timely return a completed and executed declaration and release as required, the prize may be forfeited and an alternate Winner selected. Zondervan will ship the Bibles on their own discretion.

    6. NOT ENDORSED BY YouTube or Blogger: By participating in this contest, you acknowledge that this contest is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, YouTube and/or Blogger and release both from any and all liability arising from or related to this contest. The information you are providing for this contest is being provided to Jenni Price Pancake Art and not to YouTube and/or Blogger, and will be used to notify you if you have won.

    7. LIMITATION OF LIABILITY By entering, You agree to release and hold harmless Jenni Price Pancake Art LLC. and it’s partners from any liability, illness, injury, death, loss, litigation, claim, or damage that may occur, directly or indirectly, whether caused by negligence or not, from: (i) such entrant’s participation in the giveaway and/or his/her acceptance, possession, use, or misuse of any prize or any portion thereof.

    8. DISPUTES: THIS Giveaway IS GOVERNED BY THE LAWS OF THE U.S. AND Missouri WITHOUT RESPECT TO CONFLICT OF LAW DOCTRINES. As a condition of participating in this giveaway, participant agrees that any and all disputes that cannot be resolved between the parties, and causes of action arising out of or connected with this giveaway, shall be resolved individually, without resort to any form of class action, exclusively before a court located in Missouri having jurisdiction. Further, in any such dispute, under no circumstances shall participant be permitted to obtain awards for, and hereby waives all rights to, punitive, incidental, or consequential damages, including reasonable attorney’s fees. Participant further waives all rights to have damages multiplied or increased.

    9. APPLICANTS MUST COMPLY with YouTube Community Guidelines and entries which don’t comply will be disqualified.

    10: PRIVACY NOTICE All information collected will only be used to contact the winners and will not be used in any other form.

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    46. समझदार

    कुछ लोग इतने समझदार है,
    जो उनकी ना माने गद्दार है,

    बिन जाने बना डालेंगे पुल,
    बातें उनकी जैसे मझदार है,

    करने को समय नही है पास,
    बोलें वो ऐसे जैसे ललकार है,

    पुल बाँधने की ना है हिम्मत,,
    नसीहतें पास उनके आपार है,

    टूट चुके है पूरे, अंदर से देखो,
    पर बोलने को वो, बेकरार है,

    बातें करते है बढ़ने की आगे,
    कदम जो उठाए, वो बेकार है,

    करते हर बात का वो विरोध,
    चुनी गयी ना उनकी सरकार है

    मिर्ची की रखे ढेलिया वो 'साथी',
    ज़ख़्मों का उनको. इंतज़ार है || Dr. DV ||

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    47. BLP, Blood, and the ACLU

    My publisher, Black Lawrence Press, has announced that for every book they sell through their website from now through the end of the year, they will donate $1 to the American Civil Liberties Union.

    I will match this for my own book, Blood: Stories, meaning that every copy sold through the BLP website will also send $2 to the ACLU.

    I'm an ACLU member, and pleased with this choice of an organization to support because so many of BLP's authors are among the groups targeted by harassment, civil rights violations, and hate crimes — all of which are on the rise and likely to continue rising.

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    48. Today’s Word: Portemanteau

    This is a portemanteau:




    That is, a large suitcase or trunk that usually opens into two separate parts.

    However, the word “mansplaining” is also a portemanteau:

    Ironic businessman boss. Business concept professional at work retro style pop art

    According the Merriam-Webster, 1: a large suitcase; 2: a word or morpheme whose form and meaning are derived from a blending of two or more distinct forms. 

    Our language has many portemanteaus, including: brunch, dramedy, carjack, Reaganomics, motel, snowmageddon, threepeat, gaydar, Brexit, sharknado, etc.

    FUN FACT: “Chortle” is a portemanteau invented by Lewis Carroll, combining “chuckle” and “snort.

    Carry on!

    49. Rejoined SCBWI

    Photo(c) by Mary Nida Smith
    Good morning from River Bend Park. If I can stay focus, I will be posting on my blogs and not be on Facebook, for they are yelling at me. I will be doing more media promoting and get more focus on rewriting and submitting. If this is the direction God wants me to travel, I will continue. Since my husband passed away November 15, 2015, I have been trying to get my act together. I have rejoined SCBWI- Society of Children's Book Writers & Illustrators and I am back with SCBWI-Arkansas and maybe, rejoining Missouri's group. I have already started setting up my page on the national website, My publisher Skyhorse is listed on their site, which I was happy to see. Next I need to post my information on the Arkansas group's website.

    I will be doing a book signing Sunday December 4th, at the Donald W. Reynolds Library, Mountain Home, AR. The days will travel quickly, so I must prepare for it.

    Do allow the last day of sunshine this week to warm your home and open up the windows, for this maybe, the last day to let the fresh air in and stale air out.Don't forget to wear your smile and maybe, dance a little across the floor.

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    50. In Memory: Yumi Heo

    By Cynthia Leitich Smith
    for Cynsations

    Obituary: Yumi Heo by Shannon Maughan from Publishers Weekly. Peek: "[Henry] Holt’s Laura Godwin shared this remembrance:

    'Yumi was extremely gracious, enthusiastic, and inquisitive,' she said. 'I loved the way she incorporated ‘mistakes’ into her art rather than erasing or deleting them.
    "If she drew a squiggle where she hadn’t intended, it would show up in the final art as a tree or a rabbit or whatever struck her fancy. She was part artist, part magician—and always an inspiration.'"
    Yumi Heo Memorial Fund from Go Fund Me. Peek:

    "Please show your support in honor of internationally loved children’s book author and Illustrator and creator of Polka Dot Penguin Pottery, Yumi Heo.
    "Your support will help continue two of Yumi’s dreams, the steady training of her daughter as a professional figure skater and the founding of a scholarship program to help students in Korea who have big dreams and little resources."

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