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Maybe it’s because Comic Con is around the corner, or just the general languor that settles in when it’s hot—but summer always makes me want to crack into a good graphic novel and just completely escape.
So here are my personal recommendations for some great graphic novels by Asian American authors and illustrators—there’s a lot of ’em out there and I’m excited to share their crazy talent with you all.
Find a hammock, some shade, and give your eyes and brain some summer lovin’...
This One Summer
I’ve been a fan of Jillian Tamaki’s artwork for years (she did those great Penguin thread covers and was properly blown away by the lushness of the illustrations in this coming of age novel. Every page, every spread, is a serious piece of art. It’s a story of friendship between two girls who see each other every summer, and the one summer where things start to change. Not only do the girls find themselves growing apart as they grow older, but they also witness some teenage drama that becomes a fixation to either help them cope or distract them from their own turmoil (a parents’ dissolving marriage for example). It’s about what happens as you transition from the innocent bubble of childhood to the realities of the adult world, beautifully captured through the lens of a fleeting summer.
Same Difference and Other Stories
When I first read this over a decade ago, it was one of the first stories (or collection of them) that I had ever read about the Korean American experience. And with such humor, angst, and heart! I don’t think it was a coincidence that it was in the form of a graphic novel—a medium that I feel is always a step ahead of the curve. I fell in love with this collection of stories (a lot of which feels autobiographical) and graphic novels in general, soon after. Kim’s amazing illustration skills are just icing on the cake. While the Korean American factor is what initially drew me in, it was just good solid storytelling that had me smitten. And I credit Kim as a huge inspiration for my own writing, as I’m always in pursuit of humor and authenticity in writing about the Asian American experience.
In Real Life
In light of all the Gamergate craziness, I was very interested in picking up this book about a gamer girl (it helped that it was illustrated by my good friend Jen Wang!). I don’t know what I expected but it sure wasn’t this thoughtful, heartrending story about human connections, the complexity of online gaming, and rethinking what is “right” and “wrong.” In Real Life tells the story of an American teen girl named Anda who loves playing a multiplayer roleplaying game online called Coarsegold. She eventually takes on the role of hunting down gold farmers—players who illegally collect valuable objects and sells them to other players. It’s the right thing to do, you know? But what seems black and white becomes murky when she befriends one them, a Chinese teen who is doing this out of necessity. I was surprised by the intensity of my feelings about this story, which is an important one as the globe both constricts and expands with our online connections. And Wang’s illustrations are just so perfect and gorgeous that you’ll find yourself wishing the world of Coarsegold was just a little bit real.
Maurene Goois the author of Since You Asked. She has very strong feelings about graphic design and houseplants and lives in Los Angeles. She is also a team member of We Need Diverse Books.
Writing a story can be hard even for an adult. Sitting down, focusing, choosing a subject then following it through, can be gruelling indeed. The self-discipline, the imagination and creativity, and the perseverance to make it all happen can be quite a challenge. Today's book, "Poppy's Best Paper" will have you nodding your head as an adorable little bunny learns some very valuable lessons about quality writing and important lessons in life...
Authored by Susan Eaddy
Illustrated by Rosalinde Bonnet
Let's unwrap some illustration for you...
About the story...
Poppy, an adorable and high-energy little bunny, dreams of becoming not only a good writer, but a very famous one. Her teacher, Mrs. Rose assigns her class daily writing assignments for their homework. She tells the children that she will choose the one she thinks is best to share with the whole class the next day.
Poppy is stoked. Here is her chance to shine, after all who could possibility write better than she? She rushes home and hops to it. But alas, Poppy is easily distracted by her world around her, is constantly taking breaks and is overconfident that her story will be the chosen one, even though she hasn't put her very best effort into writing it. She just assumes that because she wants to be a writer she will not have to work for the honour of becoming one.
After two days of her stories being rejected by Mrs. Rose, and her best friend Lavender's work being chosen, Poppy is frustrated and not a happy bunny with either her teacher or her best friend. Why Lavender didn't even want to be a writer, she wanted to be a brain surgeon, how unfair is that?
Poppy has to re-think her writing strategies and comes to the conclusion that perhaps she is not working up to her potential and she needs to put way more effort into her writing skills. Her final assignment "How to Get in Trouble" was her best yet, an autobiography...
""To Get in Trouble is very simple. First, talk in class even after you are told to be quiet. Then, be mean to someone who did better than you. (Her best friend Lavender) And try to copy that person's paper. At home, call your bother Scraggle Tail. Throw your notebook across the room. At Dinner, mush your food and spill your milk and say you don't care. Stomp your feet and cry. Last and worst of all, be rude to your very best friend and do not apologize. This is my advice on How to Get in Trouble. Follow these instructions and you can get in trouble, too. The End. " Poppy repents of her wrongdoings in her paper earning her not only applause from her classmates, forgiveness from her best friend, but a big fat "A" for her hard work, which of course delight both and her parents and Poppy herself. The illustrations are full of action, expression and detail...extremely well done. They reminded me of the Richard Scarry books with so much action and busyness to absorb. I highly recommend this book.
About the author...
I was born in Lake City FL. USA. Being from a very small town I longed to see the wider world, and today I will travel anywhere at the drop of a hat. My husband is an art professor and I have been lucky to accompany him on his school trips to Italy for many summers. My work is partly inspired by the scores of relief sculptures I have seen in Italy. I love the altar reliefs of Nicola Pisano, the Brunelleschi Baptistry doors, the Della Robbia reliefs and statues, and the column carvings on various Romanesque churches. The simple naive figures of Romanesque and Byzantine art inspire me to simplify (very hard for me to do) and the early mosaics of Ravenna and other Byzantine churches throughout Italy absolutely mesmerize me.
I have always loved to draw, from the time my mother framed the rooster I drew in kindergarten. My Mom had always said that she thought being a creative person, a writer or an artist, was the best kind of life one could have. So truly, she took the small flame of talent that I had and blew on it while encouraging me to pursue what I loved, whether it was a money- maker or not. In school I was always the kid in the class who could draw, so I took art lessons and every art class I could fit into my school schedule. My parents bought me art books, and for my 10th birthday bought me a drawing book filled with poetry and blank pages I could illustrate. I think that is when I decided that illustrating childrens’ books would be the best job in the world.
About the illustrator...
Rosalinde Bonnet loved to draw when she was little. She would often get into trouble in school because she doodled all over her notebooks during class. After high school she studied at the École Nationale Supérieure des Arts Décoratifs in Paris. Since her graduation in 2004, she has written and/or illustrated numerous children's books, mainly published in France and England. She lives in Versailles, France.
Banners in the San Francisco Public Library’s Main Library welcomed more than 20,000 conference attendees
What a conference!
ALA’s 2015 Annual Conference was full of more energy, enthusiasm, equality, and engagement than any I’ve ever witnessed, and whether you were one of the tens of thousands attending in San Francisco, were following from elsewhere in the world on social media (#alaac15 & #alaleftbehind), or are just now taking a quick breather from summer reading to catch up here on the ALSC Blog, I hope you can see that the future of library service to children is an exciting one!
A bird’s eye view of San Francisco’s Moscone Center and its rainbow flags, home base of the 2015 ALA Annual Conference
In addition to learning and connecting, Annual is also a time of business when Board, staff, committees, and task forces work hard to move our association forward. There are two ALSC Board meetings at Annual and you can peruse the Board’s documents here and find updates on Twitter (#alscboard).
I’d like to bring you up to speed, as well. FYI, this past week, the ALSC Board:
Considered a report from the Evolving Carnegie Task Force, which was charged with investigating the opportunities for evolving the Carnegie Medal from an award recognizing what was an evolving format at the time of its establishment a quarter of a century ago (videos) to current evolving formats and/or those who are doing great work with them. The next step is having further conversations with the Carnegie Corporation of New York, our partner in the support of this award.
Heard from the chair of the Diversity within ALSC Task Force, Jos Holman, about their early work “to thoroughly examine diversity within all areas of ALSC such as membership, recruitment, award committees, and leadership and to recommend short-term and long-term strategies for developing richer diversity within the association.”
Adjusted the expanded definitions in the Robert F. Sibert Informational Book Medal committee manual to clarify the importance and eligibility of illustrated, graphic, and primary source materials in consideration of the Sibert award.
Gave a collective thumbs-up to the Program Coordinating Committee’s great slate of proposed programs for next year’s Annual Conference in Orlando. (You won’t want to miss it June 23-28, 2016!)
Approved ALSC’s healthy fiscal year 2016 budget, as recommended by the Budget Committee, with some exciting growth opportunities which you’ll be hearing about over the next couple of months.
Wrapped up, together with the Organization & Bylaws Committee, the expansion of some committees to include co-chairs with overlapping terms to foster communication and continuity.
Thank you to all of our committees and task forces who work so diligently during and between conferences, as this work is truly where the rubber meets the road in achieving ALSC’s strategic goals of Advocacy, Education and Access to Library Services. Special gratitude is due to Local Arrangements Committee chair Christy Estrovitz and her entire team for all of their incredible work making ALSC members feel welcome in the Bay Area!
Then, as the sun began to set on the Bay and on Annual, it was time to bid farewell to Immediate Past President Starr LaTronica and other departing Board members Lisa Von Drasek, Rita Auerbach, Jamie Campbell Naidoo, and Michael Santangelo, and to welcome Vice President/President-Elect Betsy Orsburn and new Board members Jenna Nemec-Loise, Christine Caputo, Vicky Smith, and Mary Voors to the table. And, as I was honored to pick up the gavel as ALSC President for 2015-16, I look forward to hearing from you with any questions or ideas at email@example.com.
Past President Starr LaTronica, Immediate Past President Ellen Riordan, and President Andrew Medlar at the ALA Inaugural Brunch on June 30, 2015
How does a nonfiction author figure out what to write about? Recently, Ben Mezrich revealed his selection criteria during a talk he gave at Google. He feels most drawn to stories that feature ambition, intelligence, and people who “game the system” to be intriguing.
Mezrich also makes it a rule to “never start a book if I don’t think there can be a movie. Because I feel like if it can’t be a movie, it’s probably not going to be a good book.”
The video embedded above features his entire talk. In the past, Mezrich has written books on a diverse range of topics such as college students counting cards in Las Vegas, the founding fathers of Facebook, and a trio of moon rock thieves. Recently, he studied how a group of Russian oligarchs climbed up and came into power.
Hi readers! If you’re paying attention to awesome books this year, you’ll notice a lot of the runaway successes are fantasy novels. And like anyone who’s worked in the business of book publishing, I was recently wondering WHY fantasy is so hot these days as opposed to three years ago when we were all about dystopian, or five years ago when it was all about the paranormal hotties. I wonder if it’s less about ONE book being a trendsetter, like how The Hunger Games created such a high demand for more dystopian novels, especially since writers in these respective genres were clearly in the middle of writing/publishing their works which The Hunger Games maybe helped elevate (like Veronica Roth’s Divergent series, Lauren Oliver’s Delirium trilogy, etc.). But bookstores have always devoted entire sections to fantasy, which isn’t the case for dystopian or paranormal novels (Note: Barnes & Noble DID indeed have a “Paranormal Romance” section when I worked there as a children’s bookseller years ago, but that expired and collapsed when the demand did). I have no answers, unsurprisingly since there’s no foolproof science to publishing, just observations. And today I’m happy to host New York Times bestselling non-fiction author and historian Eleanor Herman, author of the forthcoming novel Legacy of Kings, sharing her personal connection to fantasy books.
Fantasy is real. Just behind that door over there is something shockingly magical. Something that will challenge everything you are and all your ideas about what is true and right. Maybe it’s an elf or a vampire. Or maybe—just maybe—it’s another human being.
When I was a child, I saw leafy green faces in trees, heard voices calling my name, and suspected my dolls of having raucous parties when I was at school. I tiptoed downstairs in the small hours of Christmas morning to try to catch a glimpse of Santa, and I spent Halloween night peering out m window looking for witches on broomsticks circling the moon. Books fueled my magical world: The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings;The Lion, the Witch and the Wardobe; A Wrinkle in Time; The Sword in the Stone; Dracula and Frankenstein.
Fantasy stories have always bewitched their audiences, whether it was the five-thousand-year-old tale of the Babylonian demi-god Gilgamesh killing the mountain monster, Humbaba; the adventures of Odysseus’s ten-year homeward-bound voyage from the burning walls of Troy; or the Anglo-Saxon hero, Beowulf, stabbing the man-eating giant, Grendel. More recently, Young Adult fantasy mesmerized the world, including millions of Old Adults, with the adventures of a certain young man named Harry Potter. And in 2015, YA fantasy has seen a resurgence of fantasy titles on the New York Times list: Red Queen, An Ember in the Ashes, and A Court of Thorns and Roses, clearly casting a spell over readers of all ages.
How do we explain humanity’s everlasting fascination with fantasy? I believe it’s because fantasy taps into the deepest, most innermost parts of ourselves, exposes them, raw and pulsating, and shows us the dramatic results of choices good and bad. Fantasy distills and crystallizes our fears and courage, our desire and loathing, our compassion and thirst for revenge. Like flintknapping, fantasy chips away at all the useless superficial layers coating our lives, and reveals a glittering core of truth.
Do you actually believe no one has ever slain a dragon? Try telling that to anyone who has beaten cancer, healed from the aching loss a loved one, or suffered the slow torture of a crumbling marriage. Think no one charges into battle anymore with sword drawn? Wrong again. We bravely get up every morning armed with the courage of a warrior, knowing we have to be ready to face whatever pain, injustice or tragedy the day dishes out. No such thing as a fairy godmother? Every day, millions of people experience the unexpected kindness of strangers in tearful gratitude.
“Imagination is everything,” Albert Einstein once said. It quickens the human spirit and empowers the mind. I’ve come to realize that fantasy isn’t about escaping our lives. It’s about understanding them.
Do you agree with Eleanor’s post about fantasy novels being timeless and real versus just escapism?
Tom Daschle, the former Senator of South Dakota (democrat), and Trent Lott, the former Senator of Mississippi (republican), have joined forces. The two politicians plan to collaborate on a book entitled Crisis Point: Why We Must—and How We Can—Overcome Our Broken Politics in Washington and Across America.
Anton Mueller, an executive editor at Bloomsbury, negotiated the terms of this deal. The publishing house has scheduled the release date for January 2016.
Here’s more from the press release: “In their book, the senators argue that the health of our democracy is dependent not only on the free exchange of conflicting ideas, but on the imperative of compromise. Compromise is not, as many would have it today, an indication of weakness; rather, it requires superior leadership, vision, and courage. The senators also offer practical recommendations to address the many other factors that exacerbate partisanship.”
The Polar Bear Scientists. Peter Lourie. 2012/2015. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 80 pages. [Source: Review copy]
Curious about polar bears? Especially polar bears in the wild? Have an interest in science? Curious about what it is a scientist actually does day to day? Peter Lourie's The Polar Bear Scientist is a reader-friendly book giving readers a behind-the-scene look at several scientists who study polar bears--who have spent most of their lives studying polar bears.
I loved the photographs I did. Yes, the book is packed with information, but, it was the photographs themselves that held my interest. Personally, I found the layout to be a bit difficult on the eyes. Some pages were black text on top of light photographs--snow mainly--but, plenty were white text on a black background. Not every reader will mind this, but, it was hard on my eyes and probably kept me from fully engaging with this one.
Polar Bear Scientists is one of the books in the Scientists in the Fields series published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
I think you're going to see a lot of blog posts based on the restructuring of Berkley/NAL. It's when something like this happens that I find myself with a whole slew of new ideas. Usually based on conversations we're having in the office or with clients.
One of these conversations involves the midlist. For those who don't know, the midlist is defined as those books that fall in the middle of a publisher's list. They aren't the top sellers (not always bestsellers, but those books that sell the most) and they aren't at the bottom, those books with sales so low that they just aren't salvageable. You know, books that only sell 2,000 copies. Ever.
Midlist books are those books that are selling moderately well, have solid sales, but just aren't pushing to top selling status. They could be mysteries, romance, nonfiction, paperback, hardcover. They could be anything because it's not about the genre, but about sales.
One of the things the Berkley/NAL conversation has brought up is the death of the midlist. The same death I've been morning since my first day in publishing. I mean, I've been around long enough now that I think I can say that's a freakishly long mourning period.
Here's the truth as I see it where the midlist is concerned. Authors who languish in the midlist are not going to be given contract after contract just to remain midlist authors. That's not what the midlist is about (at least not these days). The midlist is a place for publishers to grow authors from. Its where great books go to grow. A publisher will always have a midlist of some sort because a publisher will always be buying new books from new authors and somewhere along the way someone is going to have numbers that aren't top selling numbers, but aren't at the bottom either. When those authors come along the publisher is going to look at those numbers to see which direction they are going and what can be done to boost that author, those books and those numbers into the top selling range.
When rumors abound that a publisher is cutting the midlist it isn't mean that a publisher is taking out one kind of book over another, it means the publisher is making room for more. Have I ever told you that I'm an eternal optimist?
Books that languish in the midlist, that are selling a little less with every new book (in a series for example) aren't making money for a publisher and aren't growing an author's career. And that is always the goal, whenever an agent takes on a new client, whenever a publisher buys a new book and whenever an author sits down to write the goal is, and should always be, to grow that author's career. Not to languish in any list.
Two years ago I read--and recommended--Kamik: An Inuit Puppy Story, a delightful story about a puppy named Kamik and his owner, a young Inuit boy named Jake. In it, Jake is trying to train Kamik, but--Kamik is a pup--and Jake is frustrated with the pup's antics. Jake's grandfather is in the story, too, and tells him about sled dogs, imparting Inuit knowledge as he does.
Today, I'm happy to recommend another story about Kamik and Jake. The author of Kamik: An Inuit Puppy Story is Donald Uluadluak. This time around, the writer is Matilda Sulurayok. Like Uluadluak, Sulurayok is an Inuit elder.
As the story opens, the first snow of the season has fallen. Jake thinks that, perhaps, he can start training Kamik to be a sled dog, but Kamik just wants to play with the other dogs. Of course, Jake is not liking that at all! Anaanatsiaq (it means grandmother) sees all this going down. She reminisces about her childhood, telling Jake how her dad taught her to train sled dog pups--by playing with them:
In her storytelling of those memories, Anaanatsiaq is teaching Jake. Then she fastens a small bundle on Kamik and suggests Jake take Kamik out, away from the other dogs, for a picnic. They set off walking.
After awhile, Jake opens the picnic bundle. Inside, he finds things to eat, but he also finds a sealskin and a harness.
Playtime training, then, is off and running!
Things get tense, though, when Kamik takes off after a rabbit in the midst of a darkening sky, and Jake realizes he hasn't taught him the command to stop. The rabbit, as you can see, gets away.
Jake is scared, but in the end, Kamik gets him home, where he learns a bit more about sled dogs and their sense of smell.
Through Kamik, Jake, and his grandparents, kids learn about Inuit life, and they learn some Inuit words, too. A strength of both these books is the engaging, yet matter-of-fact, manner in which elders pass knowledge down to kids. Nothing exotic, and nothing romanticized, either.
I highly recommend Kamik's First Sled, published in 2015 by Inhabit Media.
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It seems that the insect-of-the-moment is… the fly (and I don’t know why; maybe butterflies were too pretty). Here are five recent books starring those pests, plus reviews of a few more favorites below. Could that Old Lady who swallowed one have been on to something?
Super Fly: The World’s Smallest Superhero!by Todd H. Doodler (Bloomsbury, May 2015) Fly!by Karl Newsom Edwards (Knopf, March 2015) I, Fly: The Buzz About Flies and How Awesome They Are by Bridget Heos; illus. by Jennifer Plecas (Holt, March 2015) The Fly by Petr Horáček (Candlewick, May 2015) Astrid the Flyby Maria Jönsson (Holiday, May 2015)
Arnold, Tedd A Pet for Fly Guy
32 pp. Scholastic/Orchard 2014. ISBN 978-0-545-31615-6
(3) K-3 In his first picture book outing, easy-reader star Fly Guy wants his own pet. He and (boy) Buzz are excited, then frustrated, then disappointed when each choice (dog, frog, worm) is unsuitable. The two realize that Fly Guy needs “a pet with a cool name.” Buzz? “YEZZ! BUZZ!” Arnold’s lively illustrations make the most of the characters’ special friendship; the final page is especially satisfying.
Cronin, Doreen Diary of a Fly
40 pp. HarperCollins/Cotler 2007. ISBN 978-0-06-000156-8
Library binding ISBN 978-0-06-000157-5
(2) K-3 Illustrated by Harry Bliss. Like Diary of a Worm and Diary of a Spider, this book relays real-life information through Cronin’s impeccable comedic timing in a way that makes the facts memorable. Bliss’s illustrations, including additional pictures on the endpapers, incorporate many witty details. The short sentences and visual jokes make this a great selection for listeners and new readers alike.
Gravel, Elise The Fly
32 pp. Tundra 2014. ISBN 978-1-77049-636-1
Ebook ISBN 978-1-77049-638-5
(3) K-3 Disgusting Critters series. This humorous, informative volume gives basic facts about the title creature. Cartoon illustrations and speech-bubble text play up the kid-friendly silliness: “The housefly is a member of the Muscidae family. Mom Muscidae, Dad Muscidae…Teenager Muscidae: ‘Yo!'” The familiar subject and friendly presentation give this book broad appeal.
Howitt, Mary The Spider and the Fly
40 pp. Simon 2010. ISBN 978-1-4424-1664-2
(3) K-3 Illustrated by Tony DiTerlizzi. New ed., 2002. Inspired by Gorey, Addams, and film noir, DiTerlizzi spins his own stylish version of Howitt’s cautionary 1829 poem. As a debonair spider lures a doe-eyed fly to his lair, ghosts of the spider’s prey flit about. Black-and-white illustrations with a silvery sheen capture the dance with cinematic flair. This paper-over-board edition of the Caldecott Honor Book is notable for its bargain price.
Mack, Jeff Frog and Fly: Six Slurpy Stories
40 pp. Philomel 2012. ISBN 978-0-399-25617-2
(3) PS It’s survival of the cleverest in these six short stories. Laid out in easy-to-read comic-book panels, the simple text focuses on several scenarios between a fly and the hungry frog that wants to slurp him up. Just when you think the fly is doomed every time, the frog gets his comeuppance in the final story and readers get a good laugh. Multi-media cartoons amusingly depict the conflicts.
Reynolds, Aaron Big Hairy Drama
128 pp. Holt 2010. ISBN 978-0-8050-8243-2
Paperback ISBN 978-0-8050-9110-6
(3) 1-3 Illustrated by Neil Numberman. Joey Fly, Private Eye series. In his second graphic novel, private investigator Joey Fly looks into another crime in the “bug city.” Butterfly actress Greta Divawing has disappeared on the eve of her opening-night performance of Bugliacci; the suspects are other members of the cast. Varied cartoon-panel illustrations feature details of bug life that add interest and humor to the mystery.
Rosen, Michael Tiny Little Fly
32 pp. Candlewick 2010. ISBN 978-0-7636-4681-3
(2) PS Illustrated by Kevin Waldron. “Tiny Little Fly / sees great big toes… / Tiny Little Fly / sits on Elephant’s nose.” Fly first bugs–then escapes from–Elephant, Hippo, and Tiger, even when they unite. In Waldron’s arresting digitally enhanced gouache and pencil illustrations, bold lines and a vivid palette command attention. With a pesky antihero and catchy repetitive verse, the story will captivate listeners.
My calendar this week makes me laugh. A perfect representation of the many disparate segments of my life. Today: Full slate of appointments at the children’s hospital. Tomorrow: Frantic cranking-away at my novel revision. Wed-Sunday: SDCC madness. And somewhere in there I need to find time for a Damn Interesting article edit and a grantwriting assignment. And will MAKE time to start the new Sketchbook Skool “Playing” course with the kids. Because priorities.
I haven’t yet done my usual scouring of the SDCC schedule to see which panels I’d like to hit. Er, attempt to hit—the con has a way of swallowing up intentions with spontaneous developments, which of course is part of the fun. As always, the part I’m most looking forward to is the reconnecting with faraway friends: the lunches, the dinners, the late nights chatting over drinks.
The recent news about charitable contributions in the United States has been encouraging. The Giving Pledge, sponsored by Warren Buffett and Bill Gates, Jr., recently announced that another group of billionaires committed to leave a majority of their wealth to charity. Among these new Giving Pledgers are Judith Faulkner, founder of Epic Systems; Hamdi Ulukaya, founder of Chobani Yogurt; and Brad Keywell, a co-founder of Groupon. Moreover, Giving USA reported that charitable donations in 2014 reached an all-time high of $358 billion.
I’m just back from ALA in San Francisco (conveniently also home to my two adorable grandchildren), where the term I kept hearing throughout the exhibit halls was narrative nonfiction (last year it was bullying). As is so often true of these trends, the term meant different things to different people, with definitions ranging from “like Steve Sheinkin” to “informational books with a beginning, middle, and end” to “Core Standards–ready with a story besides.” Me, I just kept thinking of Henrik Van Loon’s The Story of Mankind, but I suppose reinvention is what keeps us young!
Van Loon won the first Newbery Medal in 1922, too early for us to have included his acceptance speech in the Horn Book Magazine‘s pages. But this year’s winner’s speech (by Kwame Alexander, along with those for the Caldecott, Wilder, and Coretta Scott King awards) are all in our current July/August issue, itself graced with a cover created by 2015 Caldecott Medalist Dan Santat. I think it’s quite one of the most spectacular issues we’ve published; go here for information about how to get a copy for yourself.
One of the great living gouache painters is Michael Turner of Britain, known for his motorsports and aviation artwork.
He painted the official posters for the Grand Prix of Monaco, Sebring, LeMans, Nürburgring and other Grand Prix events.
Born in Harrow, Middlesex, in 1934, he was raised near London during World War II, where he learned to recognize aircraft and drew them in his schoolbooks. He woke to the thrill of auto racing in 1947 when he saw a post-war revival of the British Empire Trophy Race
One of my favorite paintings, no surprise, is his portrayal of Dan Gurney's 1967 F1 Victory with the All-American Racers Eagle in the Grand Prix of Belgium at Spa-Francorchamps.
With gouache, he captures the ornate overlapping detail of the crowds and the far architecture, while conveying the motion blur in the foreground, as if the camera is tracking along with the action.
Michael Turner formed his own art print company called Studio 88. His son Graham is also a fine painter, specializing in medieval warfare.
I received submissions formatted every whichaway, and that's okay. Writers should use whatever formatting--font, spacing, page size, whatever--they like best for working onscreen. But when it comes to submitting to agents and publishers, they have certain expectations, if not requirements.
One of the things they frequently require is 12-point type, and a serif font is generally preferred. A serif font is like the one on this page. Sans serif is like the Ariel font that is so common, like this.
I recommend using Times New Roman, although there are many others that are acceptable. The simple reason why is that it is a narrow font, designed for narrow newspaper columns, and that means you'll get more of your precious words on a page. If an agent only gives a page or two a scan before accepting or rejecting, it's a plus to have as much narrative on those pages as possible.
In Word 2010, the one I use, there's a "ribbon" at the top with tabs. In the Home tab you can set the font for your document. The dialogue box should look like this:
Paragraphs and spacing:
Double spacing between lines is the standard for editors and agents. Other industry expectations include a 1/2-inch indentation for the first line of each paragraph. That can be done with the tab key, but it's better to build it in to your paragraph format, and that reduces the number of key strokes. When I design a book one of the first things I often have to do is remove all the tabs. I should include that the standard page size is "letter," in the US that's 8.5" x 11".
I see a lot of writers who use no paragraph indents and put extra spaces between paragraphs as well. While that's typical formatting for email text and web pages, it's not best practice for manuscript submission. Indented paragraphs with no extra space between is the standard.
To set your paragraph style, click on the little arrow in the paragraph section in the Home tab:
You'll get a dialogue box. Here are the settings for manuscript formatting.
Rómulo Gallegos is best known for being Venezuela’s first democratically elected president. But in his native land he is equally famous as a writer responsible for one of Venezuela’s literary treasures, the novel Doña Barbara. Published in 1929 and all but forgotten by Anglophone readers, Doña Barbara is one of the first examples of magical realism, laying the groundwork for later authors such as Gabriel García Márquez and Mario Vargas Llosa.
Following the epic struggle between two cousins for an estate in Venezuela, Doña Barbara is an examination of the conflict between town and country, violence and intellect, male and female. Doña Barbara is a beautiful and mysterious woman—rumored to be a witch—with a ferocious power over men. When her cousin Santos Luzardo returns to the plains in order to reclaim his land and cattle, he reluctantly faces off against Doña Barbara, and their battle becomes simultaneously one of violence and seduction. All of the action is set against the stunning backdrop of the Venezuelan prairie, described in loving detail. Gallegos’s plains are filled with dangerous ranchers, intrepid cowboys, and damsels in distress, all broadly and vividly drawn. A masterful novel with an important role in the inception of magical realism, Doña Barbara is a suspenseful tale that blends fantasy, adventure, and romance.
If you’ve ever wanted to work for Disney, well head on over to this “official website for Disney Television Animation talent and recruitment”. You can use it to view and even apply for a variety of artistic and production-related projects.
I had a beautiful drive through the Virginia mountains down into the Great Smokies to Gatlinburg, Tennessee where Arrowmont is located. It was really strange because you drive through these beautiful mountains and then all of a sudden, you end up on a main street that looks like they dropped the state fair on it. There are places to buy fudge and candy and play mini golf and ride go karts and a giant aquarium and a ski lift and every manner of attraction that you can think of. At first I thought I must be in the wrong place or have missed my turn even though my GPS kept telling me that I had arrived at my destination. On searching my surroundings when I looked to the left I found the sign for Arrowmont wedged between the sign for Cooters Go Karts and a sign for downtown parking. Just about 200 feet off of the road that seem to encapsulate Disneyland was the main office and all the buildings that make up Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts.
The Aquarium across the street from Arrowmont
Gatlinburg is a strange mix of religion and roadside attractions
Yes, we did...
One of the many boardwalk type attractions
After getting registered and being assigned to my room I went to the cottage called "Teachers". The cottage was really cool and had a big screened in front porch and a common room with a refrigerator and couches which was really nice but the bizarre thing was that my bedroom was located behind a bathroom which was supposed to be for common use. The only problem was that if someone else was using the bathroom, you were locked in the bed room unless you wanted to use the door that went outside and walk all the way around the building to get into the common room or anywhere else that you wanted to go.
My tiny room accessed through a bathroom
The awesome porch
My first night there was pretty rough because the room was tiny and I was assigned a roommate and she snored all night and so I didn't sleep and was really exhausted for my first day of class. Fortunately, she asked to be moved and I had the room to myself and no one else used the bathroom so the rest of the week was fine as far as that one.
I was so excited for my class because my instructor was Jason Walker a sculptural ceramic artist from outside of Seattle, Washington. His work is exquisite with the quality of construction and finely painted detail that I can only dream of ever mastering. I wanted to take Jason's class because having been a painter for so long and now being in love with ceramics, my goal is to learn to paint better and better on my own ceramic work.
City Animal: Squirrel by Jason Walker
A porcelain cup by Jason Walker
porcelain cup detail
Jason's class did not disappoint. He is a fine teacher and a really lovely person. He was very humble and encouraging to all of us students. He was very thorough in explaining his process and very patient with each of us as we try to master the skills from construction to painting. I didn't have such an easy time with the three-dimensional construction. Hand building has never really been a great love of mine and I was hoping that the class would turn me more in it's favor. I'm still not sure that I have the patience for it and the piece that I worked so hard on ended up collapsing.
Clay can be a heart breaker and that's part of the learning process as well. Jason's class was about a creating a personal narrative and developing images and ceramic pieces that told a story, whatever your story happened to be. Everyone in the class seemed to have a good time with that premise, creating all kinds of dreamlike and whimsical figures. There were some in the class who were very prolific creating about six different pieces and then there was me, who ended up with my one 3-D piece breaking and coming home with only one completely finished piece and one piece that didn't make it into the kiln. But that was okay because I didn't go there to come home with a lot of finished stuff. I went to learn a process and that's what I spend my time on. I learned from Jason how to layer under glazes to give them more depth and to use shading and crosshatching much like I do with paint to create texture and form on my pieces. I'm very proud of the piece that I came home with and I look forward to applying what I learned to my new pieces. I'm not sure that I want to make sculptural pieces like Jason does. I'm going to try hand building again but I like throwing on the wheel the best. I want to make art pieces but I like making beautiful functional pieces as well. My work and process is always unfolding and new, so who knows where my new found skills will lead me...
Jason demonstrating construction
My friend Michele aka "Cindy Lou" working on a wall piece
Jason working on fish wall piece
My 3d work in progress
detail- trying to emulate Jason's brush work but I have a long way to go