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Looking for books to read to your kids? Amazon editors have put together a children’s book edition of its series of 100 Books to Read in a Lifetime lists.
The list includes classics such as Margaret Wise Brown’s Goodnight Moon, Dr. Seuss’ Green Eggs & Ham and Crockett Johnson’s Harold and the Purple Crayon. The list also includes modern favorites such as Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney and J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.
We’ve embedded the entire list after the jump for you to explore. (more…)
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Bluewater Productions and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) have partnered together to create a promotional poster.
The 20-foot cartoon piece is being used to protest against the cruel handling of orcas at SeaWorld theme parks. It is displayed at Terminal 2 inside the San Diego International Airport.
Here’s more from the press release: “Bluewater, known for its edgy spoofs of controversial topics, designed the cartoon in the wake of last year’s hit documentary Blackfish. The film—viewed by 21 million on CNN alone—explored SeaWorld’s cruel capture and devastating confinement of orcas, which led the whale named Tilikum to kill three people.”
SeaWorld has made a public statement against this act. According to the Times of San Diego, the executives at SeaWorld claim that “the truth is that our killer whales are healthy and happy, and thrive in our care. The real animal welfare organization is SeaWorld, not PETA, and our trainers, aviculturists, animal-care staff and veterinarians are the true advocates for animals.”
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We’re off tomorrow to spend a few days with the Sendak Fellows, Nora Krug and Harry Bliss, at a farm Maurice owned in upstate New York. (Why did he need a farm? Did he need a place to get away from it all from his place to get away from it all in the wilds of rural Connecticut?). The management tells me my job there is to “be Maurice,” but someone and his pal Wolfie are up in heaven laughing themselves sick at that suggestion. Instead, I imagine myself poking my head around easels, saying “perhaps a little more green there, Nora” or “Harry, you know, Brownie here would make an excellent companion to Bailey, yes?”
I guess the one thing I can tell them about is what Maurice loved and hated–and it was generally one or the other, whether it came to his taste in pictures, movies, TV, books, music or food. “I love it!” “I hate it!” The tricky thing with him, though, is that even though you coulda sworn he’d said he loved something, catch him ten minutes later and his passion had reversed. What I wish I had was Maurice’s talent for contagious enthusiasm: he could make you love what he loved, even if, years later, you finally–secretly and hoping he doesn’t overhear–admit you really don’t find Christa Wolf all that enjoyable.
I’m sure I’ll think of something to say. And we’re going to Tanglewood to meet Lizzie Borden; we’ll show Brownie the land of his birth (he was found wandering in the Berkshire woods); and I’m to be given the opportunity to milk goats. I hope I can see them run!
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Part of the reason for no post on Monday is that I'm in the midst of a move to Ashland, Oregon, a lovely place we lived 20 years ago and are happy to return to. We're staying with friends while we look for a house (timing was such that we had to put our household into storage--bummer).
But I should be able to continue posting as usual--NOTE: could use some more chapters to flog, the queue is at two (this week's supply).
Go here to see what Ashland and the valley it's in look like. It's in southern Oregon and is a high desert climate, not the rainy climate people associate with Oregon.
See you tomorrow.
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Clockhouse in hand and read the conversation between my friend Rahna and the ever-interesting M.T. Anderson (Octavian Nothing, Feed, etc.). It's the sort of interview the whole world should read—two very smart people talking, unexpected tangents and revelations, deep questions, unvarnished (which is to say actively honest) responses.
RRR: What is the biggest risk you ever took as a person and as a writer?The photo above is of too long ago—my husband, my son, Reiko's Ming and her boys, then Reiko herself at Hawk Mountain. Reiko sees things others don't. This interview (and her books) are proof of that.
MTA: Every big work is a risk. One thing I found is easy enough to tell my students, but now I am having to tell myself is: every time you write a new book, you should try to write something that is impossible for you. You should try to write something at which you think you are going to fail. Because it's only then that you actually realize that you've succeeded in new ways you've never dreamed of before. Now that obviously a nice adage to tell students when they are facing trouble, to say, look, you just need to lean into this, and trust that you can do it and seek solutions because if you don't feel like it's impossible for you then you aren't re-envisioning yourself as much as you need to be. On the other hand, it's very difficult to do that for yourself....
Haruki Murakami‘s new novel Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage comes out next month.
“I have a kind of weird story related to death. Something my father told me. He said it was an actual experience he had when he was in his early twenties. Just the age I am now. I’ve heard the story so many times I can remember every detail. It’s a really strange story—it’s hard even now for me to believe it actually happened— but my father isn’t the type to lie about something like that. Or the type who would concoct such a story. I’m sure you know this, but when you make up a story the details change each time you retell it. You tend to embellish things, and forget what you said before. … But my father’s story, from start to finish, was always exactly the same, each time he told it.”
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You had that dream again. The one where the beast with the drooping hands and wicked fangs stares you down from your window. Except the windows open this time—and you’re awake! What happens next?
Post your response (500 words or fewer) in the comments below.
Want more creative writing prompts? Pick up a copy of
A Year of Writing Prompts: 365 Story Ideas for Honing
Your Craft and Eliminating Writer’s Block. There’s a prompt for
every day of the year and you can start on any day.
Summer blockbuster season is in full swing. For many moviegoers, that means escaping to a galaxy far, far away—or perhaps just a different version of our own planet Earth—through science fiction and fantasy movies. As fans clamor for the latest cinematic thrills, we decided to focus our next Diversity Gap study on the level of racial and gender representation in these ever-popular genres that consistently rake in the big bucks for movie studios. We reviewed the top 100 domestic grossing sci-fi and fantasy films as reported by Box Office Mojo. The results were staggeringly disappointing, if not surprising in light of our past Diversity Gap studies of the Tony Awards, the Emmy Awards, the children’s book industry, The New York Times Top 10 Bestseller List, US politics, and the Academy Awards, where we analyzed multi-year samplings and found a disturbingly consistent lack of diversity.
Among the top 100 domestic grossing films through 2014:
• only 8% of films star a protagonist of color
• of the 8 protagonists of color, all are men; 6 are played by Will Smith and 1 is a cartoon character (Aladdin)
• 0% of protagonists are women of color
• 0% of protagonists are LGBTQ
• 1% of protagonists are people with a disability
The following interviews with two prominent entertainment equality advocacy groups shed more light on the subject.
Marissa Lee is co-founder of Racebending.com, an international grassroots organization of media consumers who support entertainment equality. Racebending.com advocates for underrepresented groups in entertainment media and is dedicated to furthering equal opportunities in Hollywood and beyond.
Imran Siddiquee is Director of Communications at the Representation Project, which is a movement that uses film and media content to expose injustices created by gender stereotypes and to shift people’s consciousness toward change. The Representation project was the follow-up to the critically acclaimed documentary Miss Representation.
Jason Low: Do these statistics surprise you? Why or why not?
Marissa Lee: The statistics are certainly striking, especially since sci-fi and fantasy belong to a genre that prides itself on creativity and imagination. These statistics aren’t necessarily surprising, since lack of diversity in Hollywood films is a well-known problem. There have been enough studies and articles, and any moviegoer can pause to notice there is a disparity. . . . Hollywood can’t go on pretending that this isn’t a problem.
JL: Do you think the American movie-going audience would support a big, blockbuster sci-fi/fantasy movie with a diverse protagonist if a studio made it?
Imran Siddiquee: Yes, definitely. But I think an important thing to understand about Hollywood blockbusters is that they are almost never flukes; they are preordained. Sure, we have the occasional surprise indie hit, but you need a lot of money and marketing behind you to become a blockbuster. Just look at the top ten films in each of the last five years: nearly every single one had a budget of more than $100 million (a lot of them were also sci-fi/fantasy films).
Meanwhile, there hasn’t been a single film released this year starring a person of color with a budget of more than $50 million, let alone a sci-fi film, which is naturally going to be more expensive. The same goes for most of the last decade. So for anyone who might say “people just don’t watch sci-fi movies starring people of color,” or “there’s no evidence that this would work,” the truth is that we have no evidence that it wouldn’t work.
Studios take a couple of massively expensive chances every year on mostly unknown actors or directors—aka giving the Spider-Man franchise to Marc Webb and Andrew Garfield in 2012—but they just don’t take those kinds of chances on people of color. In other words, if Hollywood wanted to make a blockbuster sci-fi/fantasy film starring a woman of color, they definitely could.
ML: I think American audiences would support a film with a diverse protagonist, because we already have. One pullout statistic from your infographic is that Will Smith leads six of the top 100 big sci-fi/fantasy films. His race wasn’t a huge impediment to box office success and may have, in fact, been part of what made him all-American and relatable. That was back in the late 1990s, but since then, Hollywood hasn’t tried to find a new Will Smith. This is kind of ironic, given that Hollywood likes to stick to formulas and sequels! They could push forward another actor—or actress—of color with Smith’s charisma. They haven’t.
The American movie audience supports any movie that Hollywood successfully markets well, especially—but not always—if the film is well produced. Hollywood has managed to market some weird stuff, like a tentpole movie about talking teenage turtle martial artists, or cars that change into space robots, and so on. I don’t buy that when it comes to marketing diverse leads, suddenly this giant industry can’t do it.
I’d be interested in seeing how many of these top 100 grossing sci-fi and fantasy films star non-human leads. I wonder if there are more films with non-human leads than minority human leads on the list!
(Side note: Does the infographic count Keanu Reeves as white or as a person of color? I think he has more than one movie on this list given The Matrix trilogy…)
Editorial note: Yes, Keanu Reeves is counted as a PoC and did make the list for The Matrix. The second Matrix film, The Matrix Reloaded was the only installment of the trilogy to make the top 100 list.
JL: What challenges have you faced or seen peers facing as a woman/person of color, etc.?
ML: There are films with built-in audiences that Hollywood still insists on whitewashing, which has a very adverse effect on actors of color. Let’s be honest, audiences would have still flocked to see The Hunger Games or Twilight if characters like Katniss or Jacob had been cast with people of color as they were written in the books. An actor with a disability could have played the protagonist in Avatar—if we have the technology and imagination to animate a fanciful world populated by blue cat people, we could have cast an actor with a disability similar to the lead character’s in that role. As a result of these casting decisions, up and coming actors from underrepresented groups were deprived of career exposure from being a part of these established franchises, making it harder for Hollywood ever to try and launch a new franchise with an actor from an underrepresented group.
Every single Marvel Studios movie has centered around a presumably straight, white, male protagonist, even if white women (mostly love interests) and men of color (support roles) have played roles in the film. The franchise is a box office juggernaut and has a ton of movies on this list, but we’ve gotten two to three movies about each of the men on the Avengers and there’s yet to be a film about Black Widow. Both of Marvel’s ensemble films—The Avengers and Guardians of the Galaxy—trimmed down the superhero teams for their film adaptations, and the women characters, save for one, were the first to be cut. Most moviegoers will never know that women of color and LGBTQ characters were cut from Guardians of the Galaxy, but audiences will get to relate to the talking raccoon and the talking tree.
More recently, the Divergent franchise cast Naomi Watts to play a character who was a woman of color in the books. It’s a supporting role for an already established franchise, and for whatever reason the production still couldn’t bring themselves to cast an actor of color.
Trends that fans have noted in the media include that in big blockbuster sci-fi and fantasy films, the presence of a straight, white, able-bodied, cis male in some central role in the story is almost guaranteed, while the presence of characters with “minority” identities (e.g. LGBTQ folks, people of color, people with disabilities, women, etc.) is not. Even when a character who isn’t a straight, white cis male is centered in a story, there’s probably a straight, white, cis male character playing second, if not lead, billing. For example, while we can reasonably assume that the next few Star Trek and Star Wars movies will have some diverse characters, we can guarantee that at least one of the leads will be a straight, white man. If The Hunger Games or Twilight had cast actors of color for Katniss or Jacob, there would still have been plenty of lead roles filled by white actors. DC is including Wonder Woman in an upcoming movie, but the film will also feature Batman and Superman.
This means that someone with a lot of intersecting privileged identities (especially straight, white men) will always be able to walk into a multiplex and find a sci-fi/fantasy movie starring someone who shares those identities. If you have a lot of marginalized identities, then representation is a sometimes thing, never a solid guarantee. There is a very small but vocal minority of people who want to maintain this status quo, and Hollywood seems to cater toward them due to institutionalized racism, fear, and habits. But there are just as many, if not more, people who are willing to support, vociferously, films with diverse leads. I wish our money was as good as theirs.
JL: How can consumers encourage more diversity in movies?
IS: Avoid buying tickets to films which clearly rely on stereotypes or demeaning portrayals of people based on gender, race, class, age, sexual orientation, ability, or circumstance. And anytime you do watch a film, give it The Representation Test afterward. The test grades films on their inclusiveness pertaining to all those above categories. When a movie scores really low on the test, use #NotBuyingIt on Twitter to let the filmmakers and all your friends know how you feel. Since so much of this industry is based on money, this is one way we can express our discontent and get the attention of the studios.
ML: Media literacy is a huge start. As media consumers, we should feel empowered to critique the media we consume, and to decide what media we choose to consume. Beyond helpful steps like going to see movies that feature diverse leads, it’s just as important to start conversations in our own communities and with our friends and family (the people we consume media with!) to raise awareness about diversity and representation. Even if we don’t go to see movies that whitewash or exclude or present discriminatory content, people we know will. One way we can help change things is by continuing to start conversations. We need to create an environment where it is safe to criticize popular franchises for lacking diversity. We also need to keep drowning out the malcontents who cannot even handle actors of diverse backgrounds in supporting roles. Social media has really knocked down barriers when it comes to communicating our opinions with Hollywood brass. It’s also given us several spaces where we can discuss the media we consume with our friends and family. In addition, the internet has really changed how we access and consume media. There are Kickstarters and indie channels and online comics and other outlets so we don’t have to be reliant on big production studios or publishers as our only sources of entertainment.
JL: How close or far do you think we are from getting these statistics to change?
IS: When you’re talking about representation that is this low, it’s hard to go anywhere but up. For instance, 0% for women of color in top sci-fi films means I’m being honest when I say things will certainly improve soon, but that’s not saying much. I think we are pretty far away from true equality, or a cinema that reflects and includes the broad diversity of human experiences in the real world.
Too many wealthy, white men still run Hollywood, and their decisions still have too much power. As I mentioned earlier, these kinds of movies are very expensive, and so it’s hard for independent or upstart filmmakers to break through or compete.
That being said, the slight increase in success for white women in blockbuster sci-fi movies, such as Gravity, The Hunger Games, and Divergent, means change is possible. And it’s hard to overstate the importance of the Oscar wins for 12 Years a Slave last year, because while it wasn’t a blockbuster, it is a film that everyone in the industry now knows about and has probably seen. And the whole reason we’re even talking about representation in movies right now is because we know how much seeing different experiences on screen can impact people’s real world thoughts and attitudes. So films like 12 Years a Slave are part of the gradual shifting of consciousness that has to happen in Hollywood to get to a point where studios are consistently greenlighting big-budget films starring people of color.
ML: As budgets for tentpole science fiction and fantasy movies have soared, studios have been more reluctant to take a chance on actors or characters that they perceive as risks. Because people of color and women are also already more likely to consume movies than white people and men, maybe they don’t feel an incentive to change what they are doing because, from their perspective, minorities are perfectly willing to watch films starring white guys. Hollywood is pretty stubborn, especially when it comes to tentpole movies. We are seeing more diversity in television, particularly in children’s television, as well as in online content. The establishment will change when someone influential in Hollywood decides to take the risk and make an effort to diversify their film offerings. The stats in this infographic are focused on profit, not art. For things to change, Hollywood needs to believe that diversity can be profitable.
This is not an isolated incident, but a wide reaching societal problem.
Read more Diversity Gap studies on:
Further resources on how to teach content and visual literacy using Lee & Low Books’ infographics series on the Diversity Gap:
CONTACT: For more information or to request permission to reprint, please email hehrlich[at]leeandlow[dot]com
What’s more, Bloggy sports Special Elite — a distinctive default font — on the site title, post titles, navigation, and text widgets:
If Special Elite isn’t your style, the Custom Design Upgrade offers scads of additional fonts to choose from.
Let’s tour a few sites that use Bloggy for some customization inspiration.
Prolific poet R.M. Engelhardt uses Bloggy to great effect to promote his most recent volume of poetry, The Resurrection Waltz. The black background and chunky all-caps site title and tagline lend a distinct gravitas, wouldn’t you agree? Engelhardt uses Bloggy‘s custom header feature to load one of four header images at random. The grainy black and white images lend portent and emphasize the sense of a serious poet at work.
Julie Catherine Gagnon is a kinesiologist and professional figure skating coach. We especially loved the large, inviting custom header image at OBJECTIF SANTE ~ FORME. It combines light-green leaves and slim, elegant type which underscore the healthful focus of the articles on her French-language site.
Be prepared to feast your eyes on some recipes! American expat Kellie Anderson, blog proprietress of Food To Glow, uses stunning, large-scale photographs to show off her culinary feats. Kellie’s light background and muted typography allow her food photos to whet your appetite for her tantalizing recipes.
Looking for more Bloggy inspiration? Check out:
While Bloggy is a premium theme, there’s a wealth of free themes you can choose from to create just the look you’re after for your blog.
Hello! My name is Tracy and I am so excited to be here today, celebrating with my blogger buddies! WHAT are we celebrating, you ask? Well, today marks the launch of a very exciting, special new program. Alloy Entertainment (of Vampire Diaries, Gossip Girl, and Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants fame) has partnered with Amazon to create a new imprint! As a “Powered By Amazon” imprint, it will be exclusively distributed by Amazon. Here’s more info from the official press release:
“Today, Amazon Publishing and Alloy Entertainment, a division of Warner Bros. Television Group, announced a digital-first imprint that will focus on young adult, new adult and commercial fiction. The new imprint, named Alloy Entertainment, will be part of Amazon Publishing’s Powered by Amazon program. Powered by Amazon enables publishers and authors to leverage Amazon’s global distribution and personalized, targeted marketing reach.”
I am super super proud to share that my previously self-published novel, Shattered Veil, is one of the inaugural books in this program! It has been retitled REBEL WING, given a new cover (check out the beauty below!), fully edited, and I am so, SO excited to share it with you today! In addition, two other books are part of the launch, and they are AWESOME. Read on for more info and purchase links for EVERY UGLY WORD by Aimee L. Salter and IMITATION by Heather Hildenbrand.
YA Scifi Adventure
“I’ve never been actively jealous of a fictional character . . . until now. Aris’s adventures set my imagination on fire, and made my heart take flight.” ~Kass Morgan, author of New York Times bestseller The 100
Award-winning author, Army wife, and mom Tracy Banghart has an MA in Publishing and an unhealthy affection for cupcakes. Her quiet childhood led to a reading addiction, writing obsession, and several serious book boyfriends. Rebel Wing is her third novel. She can be found at www.tracybanghart.com
Aimee blogs for both writers and readers at www.aimeelsalter.com. You can also find her on Twitter and Facebook.
Every Ugly Word is her debut novel.
Enjoy this blog post about the benefits of reading stories to children at bedtime by Super Mum and Freelance Writer, Serena Assih.
Once this has been completed – inclusive of appropriate character voices, you’re gently warmed from within by the feeling of satisfaction at successfully closing another day. At this point, your little one drifts off into a peaceful sleep and you silently tiptoe out of the bedroom and head downstairs for some much needed adult time.
While this may be an idealised version of events, there is real evidence that nightly reading to children has many positive benefits. As a mother with three little darlings at home, it’s reassuring to know that my efforts are helping my children in multiple ways, apart from just trying to get them to sleep. Due to their ages, currently six, four and seven months, this is an activity that we’ll be engaged in for several years to come.
The Benefits Explained
So how exactly are you aiding your little cherubs by sharing stories before bed?
Exposing children to a wide variety of language gives them the opportunity to add new words and expressions to their own speech. Reading enables this process of language acquisition and development to happen more quickly. Stories also allow them to gain knowledge about concepts which are not part of their everyday lives, for example, polar bears, penguins and sea lions.
Improves Logical Thinking
While reading the same books over and over again to our children can be tedious for us as adults, it’s quite the opposite for youngsters. When encountering a story for the first time they do not catch all the details. Each time they listen to it being read they notice new things. Eventually they learn to recognise patterns and will begin predicting what will happen next. This ability stays with them as they move through school and can help in several subjects such as maths, music and writing.
Learning how to turn the pages of a book gives children the opportunity to develop their motor skills, starting with chunky baby friendly board books all the way through to weighty tomes with wafer thin leaves.
Better Attainment at School
According to research, attainment at school at age eight has a lot to do with how quickly that child was able to process words when they were two years old.
Emotional and Social Development
A child who progresses well through primary school is said to be more likely to continue onto higher education, have better employment prospects, stay married and be less likely to go to prison.
An important part of children’s development is learning how to cope with stresses, such as moving to a new school, being bullied or the arrival of a baby sibling. During times like these, the body produces the hormone cortisol which is responsible for ‘fight or flight’ response. If there is too much cortisol present, it can stop a child from learning, but snuggling up in bed being read a favourite story can actually reduce stress levels. That also goes for parents too.
Because I’m Happy…
The benefits of reading bedtime stories to your precious little angels are quite substantial. Each day’s investment of a few minutes of time is creating a greater chance of raising a happy, balanced and well-adjusted young person. So read on Mums and Dads, Grandmas and Grandpas, Aunties and Uncles and be encouraged that you’re doing a great job.
Sereena Assih is a freelance writer at finerwords.comAdd a Comment
Firefly July, A Year of Very Short Poems, which was our Environmental Book Club selection earlier this month, has won the 2014 New England Independent Booksellers Association New England Book Award in the children's category. These awards are given for books either about New England, set in New England, or by an author living in New England.
Firefly July is an anthology compiled by Paul B. Janeczko and illustrated by Melissa Sweet.
Find out why my office looks NOTHING like the rest of the house, how my hero husband Jeff helped enhance my office, my envy of those who have appealing-sounding creative rituals, music I'm listening to (including Ookla the Mok) and a sampling of my new OfficeCrazyDanceBreak playlist, the most useful tool in my studio, and advice for those who want to make a personal space where they can be creative. Plus LOTS of photos!
Thank you, Andrea!Add a Comment
A teaser trailer for Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. season 2 was unveiled this weekend at a Comic-Con International panel.
The video embedded above features Patton Oswalt doing double duty as Agent Billy Koenig and Agent Sam Koenig while overseeing a “security orientation.”
Entertainmeny Weekly reports the upcoming season will introduce several new characters including Barbara Morse a.k.a. Mockingbird, Isabelle Hartley, Lance Hunter, and Daniel Whitehall a.k.a. Kraken.
New Career Opportunities Daily: The best jobs in media.Add a Comment
Looking for some recommendations for a middle grader who loves fantasy? Well, we’ve got just the list for you!
Here are some stellar picks for the kid looking for magical powers, mysterious forests, heros, and villains to take to the beach with him.
THE THICKETY, by J. A. White, is the start of a new fantasy series set in a world where magic is forbidden but exists in the dark woods called the Thickety. This book would be a great recommendation for fans of the Septimus Heap series, and here’s a book talk prepared by librarian, author, and Common Core workshop presenter Kathleen Odean:
How would you like to have the power to summon amazing creatures to do your will? When Kara finds a book in the Thickety, a dangerous forest, it awakens her magical powers. Local villagers view magic as evil but for Kara, it’s a connection to her mother, who was executed as a witch. The spells thrill Kara until the magic starts to change her in frightening ways. Is Kara in control of the magic—or is it in control of her? If she doesn’t figure it out soon, she could lose everyone and everything she loves.
There’s even a Common Core-aligned discussion guide with activities written by the author, J. A. White—an elementary school teacher! (You may not want to send this to the beach, though. Maybe save it for September.)
THE CASTLE BEHIND THORNS, by Schneider Award winner Merrie Haskell, is a magical adventure set in an enchanted castle that will appeal to fans of Gail Carson Levine, Karen Cushman, and Shannon Hale.
When Sand wakes up alone in a long-abandoned castle, he has no idea how he got there. Everything in the castle—from dishes to candles to apples—is torn in half or slashed to bits. Nothing lives here and nothing grows, except the vicious, thorny bramble that prevents Sand from leaving. To survive, Sand does what he knows best—he fires up the castle’s forge to mend what he needs to live. But the things he fixes work somehow better than they ought to. Is there magic in the mending, granted by the saints who once guarded this place? With gorgeous language and breathtaking magic, THE CASTLE BEHIND THORNS tells of the power of memory and story, forgiveness and strength, and the true gifts of craft and imagination.
Thinking ahead to the new school year, Common Core applications include: Comparing and contrasting texts in different forms or genres; determining the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including figurative and connotative meanings; and analyzing the impact of a specific word choice on meaning and tone.
THE DYERVILLE TALES, by M. P. Kozlowsky, tells the story of a young orphan who searches for his family and the meaning in his grandfather’s book of lost fairy tales.
Vince Elgin is an orphan, having lost his mother and father in a fire when he was young. With only a senile grandfather he barely knows to call family, Vince was interned in a group home, dreaming that his father, whose body was never found, might one day return for him. When a letter arrives telling Vince his grandfather has passed away, he is convinced that if his father is still alive, he’ll find him at the funeral. He strikes out for the small town of Dyerville carrying only one thing with him: his grandfather’s journal. The journal tells a fantastical story of witches and giants and magic, one that can’t be true. But as Vince reads on, he finds that his very real adventure may have more in common with his grandfather’s than he ever could have known.
If you’d like to bring this one into your classroom next year, Common Core applications include: Determining the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text; analyzing the impact of a specific word choice on meaning and tone; describing how a particular story’s plot unfolds in a series of episodes; and describing how the characters respond or change as the plot moves toward a resolution.
Prince Liam. Prince Frederic. Prince Duncan. Prince Gustav. You think you know those guys pretty well by now, don’t you? Well, think again. Posters plastered across the thirteen kingdoms are saying that Briar Rose has been murdered—and the four Princes Charming are the prime suspects. Now they’re on the run in a desperate attempt to clear their names. Along the way, however, they discover that Briar’s murder is just one part of a nefarious plot to take control of all thirteen kingdoms—a plot that will lead to the doorstep of an eerily familiar fortress for a final showdown with an eerily familiar enemy.
And Common Core applications for this one include: Explaining how an author develops the point of view of the narrator or speaker in a text; comparing and contrasting texts in different forms or genres; and analyzing how differences in the points of view of the characters and the reader (e.g., created through the use of dramatic irony) create such effects as suspense or humor.
Happy reading!Add a Comment
|Daumier, Riders on an Omnibus, 1864|
"If you’re in public, people are allowed to look at you. This can be creepy and annoying, but it’s not unethical. If the individual scrutinizing you starts sketching your face, you can say, “Don’t do that,” and the person should stop (out of normal human courtesy). But the act is not inherently unethical."
I now have just three Hollins days left before I fly home to real life on Friday.
How happy these six weeks have been. The daily early morning walks, two or three times around the 1.75 mile perimeter of this beautiful, pastoral campus with fellow writers Candice and Elizabeth and whoever else cares to join us. Stimulating classes with my seven creative writing graduate students, each one doing her best to meet my challenge of drafting an entire 15,000-word chapter book in a month: two have turned theirs in to me already. Weekly one-on-one meetings with most of them, sometimes in my office, sometimes curled up on the couch in the third floor lounge in Swanannoa, sometimes over a meal, sometimes while eating ice cream. Evening talks several times a week by the greats of our profession - Candace Fleming, Han Nolan, fairy tale scholar Jack Zipes - as well as emerging new voices. Reconnecting with so many dear friends from my past.
During this six week span, I wrote the entire draft of my spelling bee book, received probing editorial comments on it, leaped into revision mode, and emailed it off to my editor this morning, with a somewhat feeble "Ta-dah!" but a "Ta-dah" nonetheless. I worked through the copy-edited manuscript of my Nora ant farm book. I sent the fifteen copy-edited chapters of my Ethics and Children's Literature collection to the contributors for their final approval. A slacker, I have not been!
Yet, despite many, many hours spent writing, teaching, and talking to students, it's been an enormously restorative, even restful, six weeks for me. I eat my easy-peasy meals in the Hollins cafeteria or cut up a farmers' market peach topped with Greek yogurt, a handful of blueberries, and a drizzle of honey. I have only the clothes I brought with me in my carry-on luggage. I am far away from so many cares.
Come Friday, I'll have to deal with the leak that ruined the downstairs bathroom ceiling at home while I was away. I'll have to figure out if I can really live on the amount of money I can earn with my pen. There are people there who need me. I may even have to cook a meal or two!
My dear wise friend Billie pointed out to me that if I stayed at Hollins longer, it would become real life, and then it would become messy, too. Real life is messy. There's no getting around that. In real life, real people need us, and real leaks cause real damage leading to real repairs followed by real (and really expensive!) mold mitigation (as I know too well from how I spent the first half of June before departing for Hollins).
But that's okay. Real life also has a grandbaby to hold, who turned five months old while I was away, and who can now laugh and roll over from back to tummy. Real life has my summer women's book group at church, and hikes with my friend Rowan. Real life has lots more writing in it, and I do love to write. Real life is messy, yes, but there is sweetness in the glorious mess of it, too.