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1. What Do You See?

We see what we choose to see when we look at student writing.

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2. Photos Framed



Photos Framed: A Fresh Look at the World's Most Memorable Photographs
by Ruth Thomson
Candlewick Press, 2014
review copy provided by the publisher
"When photography began, it was an elaborate, expensive, time-consuming, elite activity, using heavy, cumbersome equipment. Today, taking photographs can be instant, cheap, and accessible to anyone. Despite the enormous changes in photographic equipment and technology since the nineteenth century, the purposes of photography have remained essentially the same, whether immortalizing, exploring, documenting, revealing, or showing us what we can't see with the naked eye." -- from the introduction of Photos Framed
It's amazing, isn't it, that in less than 200 years, photography has become a universal art form? Children can take photographs before they have learned to hold a crayon. I think I can confidently say that every student in my class has taken a photograph. And because of that, I can't wait to share this book with them and dig into the history of photography and the art of photography.

Photos Framed is divided into four sections: Portrait photography, Nature photography, Photography as art, and Documentary photography. Each of the sections features examples from the 18th through the 21st Centuries. And each of the photographs is explored in the same ways: there is a section of text describing and discussing the photograph, a section that tells about the photographer, three questions ("Photo thoughts") for the reader/viewer to consider, a sidebar ("Blow Up") that features one tiny bit of the photo and a question to consider, and another sidebar ("Zoom In") that helps the viewer to consider the photo as a whole. Finally, there is a quote from the photographer that accompanies the photo.

I'm thrilled to see that there are multiple copies of this book available in our metro library system. I am imagining a whole-class study of this book in the first weeks of school which would lay the groundwork for students to build a photographic/visual portfolio alongside their digital portfolio/notebook (folder in their Google drive) and their pencil/paper writer's note/sketchbook.

Writing that last convoluted sentence made me realize that there just about isn't such a thing as a plain and simple Writer's Notebook anymore. All of these digital and non-digital spaces need to be developed to provide students with opportunities to capture and hold creations of all kinds at all stages of the process.  Maybe it really is time to stop calling it Writers' Workshop and call it Composing Workshop.

Hmm...the wheels are turning...


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3. A little poetic mystery



Out with Marjorie the other week, pootling to the Post Office which is two miles away. On the way back, I spotted a notice pinned to a gate post and, as one does, stopped to investigate.


However, it wasn't a planning application for a new housing estate (although that is in the pipeline for this area). It was a Thomas Hardy poem. Rather random, but lovely. 


 The Walk


You did not walk with me

Of late to the hill-top tree

By the gated ways,

As in earlier days;

You were weak and lame,

So you never came,

And I went alone, and I did not mind,

Not thinking of you as left behind.



I walked up there to-day

Just in the former way;

Surveyed around

The familiar ground

By myself again:

What difference, then?

Only that underlying sense

Of the look of a room on returning thence.



  
Pondering this and wondering 'who, what why and when?', I cycled on. And came then stopped.


Another country poem, pinned to another gatepost, with the brooding Wrekin just showing in the background.



A sonnet, by John Clare.


A Spring Morning

THE Spring comes in with all her hues and smells,
In freshness breathing over hills and dells;
O’er woods where May her gorgeous drapery flings, 
And meads washed fragrant by their laughing springs.
Fresh are new opened flowers, untouched and free
From the bold rifling of the amorous bee.
The happy time ofsinging birds is come,
And Love’s lone pilgrimage now finds a home;
Among the mossy oaks now coos the dove,
And the hoarse crow finds softer notes for love.                        
The foxes play around their dens, and bark
In joy’s excess, ’mid woodland shadows dark.
The flowers join lips below; the leaves above;
And every sound that meets the ear is Love.



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4. Spotlight and Giveaway: The Lady Hellion by Joanna Shupe

I have an excerpt and giveaway for The Lay Hellion by Joanna Shupe this morning. Enjoy!

The Lady Hellion
Wicked Deceptions # 3

By: Joanna Shupe

Releasing May 26, 2015

Zebra

Blurb

A Marquess’ daughter, Lady Sophia Barnes doesn’t take no for an answer. Especially when she’s roaming London’s seedy underground…dressed as a man.

A rabble rouser for justice, Sophie’s latest mission is to fight for the rights of the poor, the wretched—and the employees at Madame Hartley’s brothel. She’s not concerned about the criminals who will cross her path, for Sophie has mastered the art of deception—including the art of wearing trousers. Now her fate is in her own hands, along with a loaded gun. All she needs is instruction on how to shoot it. But only one person can help her: Lord Quint, the man who broke her heart years ago. The man she won’t let destroy her again…

The last thing Damien Beecham, Viscount Quint, needs is an intrusion on his privacy, especially from the beautiful, exasperating woman he’s never stopped wanting. A woman with a perilously absurd request, no less! For Damien is fighting a battle of his own, one he wishes to keep hidden—along with his feelings for Lady Sophia. Yet that fight is as hopeless as stopping her outlandish plan. Soon all Quint knows for certain is that he will die trying to protect her…

Link to Follow Tour: http://www.tastybooktours.com/2015/03/the-lady-hellion-wicked-deceptions-3-by.html

Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22891428-the-lady-hellion?from_search=true
Goodreads Series Link: https://www.goodreads.com/series/130734-wicked-deceptions

Buy Links: Amazon | B & N | iTunes | Kobo | Publisher

Author Info

Award-winning author JOANNA SHUPE has always loved history, ever since she saw her first Schoolhouse Rock cartoon. While in college, Joanna read every romance she could get her hands on and soon started crafting her own racy historical novels. She now lives in New Jersey with her two spirited daughters and dashing husband.

Author Links: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

   

EXCERPT

“You have a visitor, my lord.”

Damien Beecham, Viscount Quint, did not bother looking up at his new butler, his attention instead focused on the rows of letters in front of him. He had to get this idea down. Now—before it was too late. “Pass on the usual response, Turner.”

The butler cleared his throat. “I beg your lordship’s pardon, but the name is Taylor.”

Quint grimaced. He could hardly be faulted for forgetting the lad’s name, could he? Taylor had only been on the job for a few days. Or was this further proof of Quint’s worst fear becoming a reality?

Nearly three months since the shooting. Three months and he was no better. Oh, the wound had closed, the fever abated, yet everything else that followed had only worsened.

He exhaled and dipped his pen in the ink pot. The invocation he’d adopted these past weeks went through his head: Remain occupied. Engage your mind while you can. Prepare for the worst. He looked back down at his cipher. “Apologies, Taylor. No visitors. Ever. Until further notice, I am not receiving callers.”

“She said your lordship might say no, and if so, I was tell you her name—the Lady Sophia Barnes. I was also to mention she planned on coming in whether your lordship allowed it or not.”

Quint felt himself frown. Sophie, here? Why? Displeasure was quickly replaced by an uncomfortable weight on his chest. He could not face anyone, most especially her. “No. Definitely not. Tell her—”

Before he finished his sentence, Sophie charged into the room. Smothering a curse, Quint threw down his pen, came to his feet, and snatched his topcoat off the chair back. He pulled on the garment as he bowed. “Lady Sophia.”

He’d known her for years—five and three-quarters, to be precise—and each time he saw her, he experienced a jolt of heady awareness. There’d never been a more remarkably remarkable woman. She had short honey-brown hair that gleamed with hints of gold in the lamplight. Tall for a female, she had long, lean limbs that moved with purpose, with confidence. Her nose and upper cheeks were dusted with freckles that shifted when she laughed—which was often. People fell under the spell of that laugh, himself included.

“Lord Quint, thank you for seeing me.” Holding her bonnet, she bobbed a curtsy in an attempt to give the impression of a proper young lady. No one who knew this particular daughter of a marquess would ever believe it, however. She and Julia Seaton, the Duchess of Colton, were close friends, and the two of them had landed in one absurd scrape after another over the years. Last he’d heard, the two had required rescuing from a gaming hell after a brawl erupted.

“As if I’d had a choice,” he said dryly.

She laughed, not offended in the least, and Quint noticed Taylor, mouth agape, hovering near the threshold, eyes trained on Sophie. Good God. Not that Quint hadn’t experienced the same reaction in Sophie’s presence a time or two. “That’ll be all, Taylor. Leave the door ajar, will you?”

The butler nodded and retreated, cracking the heavy door for propriety. Ridiculous, really, when the entire visit was already deuced improper. “I hope you at least brought a maid, Sophie.”

“Of course I did. She’s in the entryway, likely planning to flirt with that baby you call a butler.” Her lips twisted into a familiar impish half-smile. Once, she had given him that smile, leaned into him, and parted her lips . . . right before he’d kissed her.

The memory nearly distracted him from the fact that he didn’t want anyone in the house. Bad enough he had to keep the staff. “I am not receiving callers,” he told her. “And this is not going to help your reputation.”

She waved her hand. “No one worries over a spinster nearing thirty years of age. Now, shall we sit?”

He happened to know she was only twenty-seven, but no use quibbling with her. He glanced about. Books, papers, and various mechanical parts littered every surface. Not to mention there were the three heavy medical volumes on his desk—all on mental deficiencies. With rapid flicks of his wrist, he closed each one and moved the stack to the floor behind his desk. He then came around and cleared a chair for Sophie.

“Thank you.” She lowered gracefully into the seat and arranged herself, bonnet in her lap. “I apologize for barging in. Your butler did try to turn me away, but I haven’t been able to locate you elsewhere. You’ve become something of a recluse.”

Better to be a recluse than take a trip to an asylum. He sat in his desk chair and said, “I have been occupied.”

A tawny eyebrow rose. “So occupied you missed the opening lecture at the Royal Society last Tuesday?”

“I had a conflict,” he offered, lamely.

“A conflict? With what? You’ve never missed one of the opening lectures before. Not in recent memory, at least.”

He tried not to react, though he wanted to grit his teeth. “I did not realize my schedule was your concern.”

She sighed. “Oh, dear. I’ve upset you already—and I haven’t even arrived at the purpose of my visit.”

“Meaning that learning the purpose will only upset me further?”

“Yes, I daresay you shall not approve, but I’ve nowhere else to turn.”

“Why do I feel a pressing need to close the door before you speak?”

She shot to her feet, so Quint started to rise as well. “No,” she said, “please, stay seated. I think more clearly when I am standing.”

Reluctantly, Quint lowered. He had no idea what she wanted, but with Sophie it could be nearly anything.

Whatever her troubles, Quint did not care. Could not care. A healthy distance between himself and others must be maintained, especially with anyone who’d known him before the accident. Therefore, he’d hear her out and then show her to the door.

He waited as she traveled the study floor, slapping her bonnet against her thigh. Nervous, clearly. Her dress was both expensive and flattering, yet her boots were worn. No jewels. A practical woman underneath the trappings of a lady.

Interesting.

And he hated that he still found her interesting, even after she’d so thoroughly rebuffed him more than three years ago.

“What in God’s name is that?” She pointed to an abandoned teacup on the desk.

He shot up and grabbed the forgotten porcelain container, which held a greenish-brown gelatinous mixture comprised of various herbs and spices. It looked every bit as terrible as it had tasted. He set the cup inside his desk drawer.

“Why are you here, Sophie?”

She folded her arms over her chest, a motion that called attention to her small, enticing breasts. He forced his eyes away as she spoke. “I would normally approach Colton or Lord Winchester with this request, but as you know, they are both unavailable. You are the only person I can ask.”

“Your flattery overwhelms, madam.”

She stopped and pinned him with a hard stare. “I did not mean to offend you, as you well know. Stop being obdurate.”

“Fine. I readily acknowledge I am to serve as the last resort. Pray, get it out, Sophie.”

She straightened her shoulders, lifted her chin. “I need you to serve as my second.”

 Rafflecopter Giveaway (3 paperback copies of THE LADY HELLION)

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5. College education for emerging adults [infographic]

College education trends have been changing a lot over the past few decades -- from the cost of education to the enrollment rates to reasons for attending. While it may seem as though today's emerging adults aren't satisfied with today's education trends, 9 out of 10 high schoolers expect to continue their education in some way after graduation, and 84% of college graduates believe their education was a good investment.

The post College education for emerging adults [infographic] appeared first on OUPblog.

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6. Independent Foreign Fiction Prize

       Almost at the same time the (American) Best Translated Book Award was announced, they announced the winner of the big UK translated-fiction prize, the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize, which went to The End of Days by Jenny Erpenbeck, in Susan Bernofsky's translation (one of the bigger omission-surprises on the BTBA-longlist (for which it was also eligible)); see the publicity pages at New Directions and Portobello, or get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.
       See also Nick Clark's coverage in The Independent.

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7. Julius Eastman: Gay Guerilla

Julius Eastman (27 October 1940-28 May 1990)—composer, pianist, vocalist, improviser, conductor, actor, choreographer, and dancer—has left a musical legacy worthy of special attention. Now is a prime moment to attend to Eastman and his work, as we recognize and honor the loss of this significant musical figure just twenty-five years ago from today.

The post Julius Eastman: Gay Guerilla appeared first on OUPblog.

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8. PEN/Heim Translation Fund winners

       They've announced the PEN/Heim Translation Fund Winners, and winning projects include: "the first novel from Madagascar ever to be translated into English" and Mongolian poetry, as well as works by already well-known writers including Horacio Castellanos Moya and Olga Tokarczuk.
       Too many of these are still listed as: 'Available for publication', but hopefully most or all of them will get picked up so that we can actually enjoy them in print down the road; certainly, this honor should help bring the projects to the attention of more publishers.

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9. Selfie Selfie

selfie -cartoon by monica gupta

Selfie Selfie ..मोदी सरकार का एक साल पूरा हो गया है. वही आम आदमी पार्टी के अरविंद केजरीवाल के 100 दिनों से मोदी सरकार के 365 दिनों की तुलना की जा रही है. ऐसे में चिंता होनी ही स्वाभाविक है क्योकि कुछ जनता मोदी सरकार से नाखुश है और कुछ केजरीवाल से नाखुश … ऐसे में  Selfie   से पूछा जा रहा है कि हे Selfie  तू बता कि मुझ से बेहतर है कोई …

Narendra Modis selfie with Li Keqiang

Indian prime minister Narendra Modi just tweeted another selfie—not so surprising given his love for the photo format. But who it was with, and where it was taken, are somewhat shocking. See more…

Narendra Modi takes his selfies …

Read more…

बेशक,  आप कुछ भी कहे पर Selfie  Selfie का जादू सभी के सिर चढ कर बोल रहा है … चलिए अब मैं भी चली सैल्फी लेने … ह ह हा पर इतना यकीन है कि अगर 20 सैलफी लूगी  तो मुश्किल से एक अच्छी आएगी :)

The post Selfie Selfie appeared first on Monica Gupta.

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10. Translation from ... Kazakh

       In The Astana Times Daniel Massow writes: Kazakh Literature Needs English Translations, Says Kazakhstan PEN Club President, reporting on a recent Kazakh Literature Evening Reception at the embassy in Washington DC.
       I don't want to suggest we haven't all been waiting for that US edition of A Lonely Yurt, but, regrettably, it's not entirely surprising that: "English-language publishers do not typically come looking for" Kazakh literature. Of course, a bit more local publishing activity and freedom, fostering new generations of Kazakh writers might do more for the overall situation -- and might eventually help attract more foreign notice, too. But, sure:

PEN wants to use the hegemonic role English plays in international communication to make the culture and ideas of Kazakh writers available to readers throughout the world.
       Nice to see there's also the we're-so-special-defense/explanation:
Moreover, Gabdullin admits, the translation itself is a great challenge: the natural rhythmic elegance and the unique expressiveness of the Kazakh language, the distinctive ethnic 'flavour' as well as the historical context pose significant difficulty for a translator.
       But I would certainly love to see some (any !) translated-from-the-Kazakh work.

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11. Interview and Chance to Submit to Agent Victoria Selvaggio of JDLA

With a strong background in business ownership, Victoria A. Selvaggio comes to JDLA as an Associate Agent with over seven years of actively working as a volunteer and Regional Advisor for SCBWI: Northern Ohio.  Drawn to the publishing scene first as an Author writing all genres, with her most recent publication in the 2015 Children’s Writer’s and Illustrator’s Market, Vicki’s passion for honing the craft carried over into reading manuscripts for the agency. Currently, she is excited to read compelling manuscripts that will resonate with her long after she’s done.

To Submit:
Please email a query to  (vselvaggio@windstream.net.) and put “Adventures in YA Publishing" in the subject line of your email. For queries regarding children's and adult fiction, please send the first twenty pages in the body of your email (for picture book manuscripts—send the full manuscript), along with a one-paragraph bio and a one-paragraph synopsis.

For queries regarding a nonfiction book, please attach the entire proposal as a Word document (the proposal should include a sample chapter), along with a one-paragraph bio and a one-paragraph synopsis of your book in the body of your email.
Response:

As a note, I “personally” respond to every query I receive, which takes some time. Response time can fluctuate from two to four months and up to six months, depending on my schedule. Feel free to follow up, if you haven't received a response after six months. PLEASE do not email me before six months!

            For more information, visit The Jennifer De Chiara Literary Agency website:  www.jdlit.com.

Connect with Victoria:
Twitter: Victoria Selvaggio @vselvaggio1
Facebook: Vicki Selvaggio
Linkedin: Victoria Selvaggio
My Website: www.victoriaselvaggio.com





Now on to the interview!!

What is on your wish list?

            I am currently looking for all genres (lyrical picture books, middle grade and young adult fiction, new adult, mysteries, suspense, thrillers, paranormal, fantasy, narrative nonfiction, adult fiction), but find I’m particularly drawn to middle grade and young adult. I especially love thrillers and all elements of weird, creepy stuff. If it’s out of the box, and it will make me think and think, long after I’m done reading, send it to me. On the flip side, I yearn for books that make me laugh, cry and wonder about the world.

What are some things you love to see in a query?

            I love when it’s evident that someone has taken a few minutes to research me (my likes/dislikes), and then addresses the query letter properly, with the correct spelling of my name. I make it a point to address my responses correctly. In addition to reviewing websites, blogs, and other information included.
             It’s important to me, as an agent, to know why I’m being queried. Connecting with the querying writer is something I look for immediately.
             For me, I’m looking for long-lasting agent-author relationships, and I appreciate when writers mention other genres and/or other projects (or works-in-progress).
            While I wish to receive a well-crafted query letter, I’m more interested in one’s manuscript. I’m happy with keeping things simple and to the point.


What are some of the worst things you've seen in a query?

            While I personally review and respond to all the queries I receive, I’m more open to queries addressed properly. From receiving queries addressed to other agents (mass mailing of agents) to receiving queries addressed to editors and publishing houses. Please, take those extra few minutes!
            Connecting with a querying writer is important to me. I can’t highlight enough to be professional. Never be rude, and please, don’t ever apologize for not being published.

What makes you a great agent?

            Honestly…I’m a workaholic. As my clients will note, I’m devoted, patient, and compassionate. I share in all their emotions, good and bad. And I never stop until we reach their goals (revising several times, if necessary, before submitting to editors).
            Having the background of being Regional Advisor for SCBWI: Northern Ohio for several years, and then working hard at my own publishing goals, I’ve seen the emotions of rejection. I’ve experienced rejection myself. That understanding pushes me to respond personally to every query I receive, in which I often note why the project isn’t a good fit. This, however, does take time.


Character, world, or plot?

            All are equally important to me. It’s all about balance.


What advice do you have for writers getting ready to query you?

            While I wish for a well-crafted query letter, be yourself! Query letters tend to be stiff/ boring. For me (all agents are different, so make sure to always submit per listed guidelines), I rather writers relax–be yourself! Give me the needed information, while not forcing it.

Why did you become an agent?

            We are all destined for the “right” path. Becoming an agent was mine! After several years as Regional Advisor for SCBWI: Northern Ohio, and becoming a published author myself, I found myself limited on what I could do to help writers and illustrators reach their goals. I was able to provide tools (education, motivation, inspiration), but building careers was out of reach, so I strived to make it reachable.
            For me, I love, love, LOVE, working one-on-one with my clients!


Is there anything you'd like to add that you think our readers should
know?

            As with all professions, becoming a published author and/or illustrator takes education, dedication, and confidence. We all have imaginations and the ability to create, but learning how to hone this craft and bring life to words and/or illustrations, is only reachable for those who are willing to persevere!
            As with all professions, one should expect rejections, obstacles/challenges, and possibly, when the timing is right, success!

            

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12. Translation from/to ... Burmese

       In The Myanmar Times Nandar Aung reports on A bridge between Myanmar and international literature translation.
       Writer Ma Thida is quoted, finding: "it very upsetting that fewer and fewer Myanmar books are translated into English" -- troubling, since almost nothing has made it to the US over the past few decades anyway .....
       The occasion for the article is a five-day translation workshop, covering both Burmese to English and English to Burmese translation, Link the Wor(l)ds, that started yesterday.

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13. Can the Sequential Intercept Model help with behavioral health justice?

There is now pending legislation in the United States Senate and the U.S. House involving the diversion of justice-involved individuals with behavioral health disorders from standard prosecution. Both bills use the Sequential Intercept Model (SIM), developed by Mark Munetz and Patty Griffin in collaboration with Hank Steadman, as an organizing tool to help structure the proposed law. What is the SIM? How can it be used?

The post Can the Sequential Intercept Model help with behavioral health justice? appeared first on OUPblog.

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14. Day of Dialog 2015: Putting the Chaotic Past Into Some Kind of Order

DayofDialog15

Book Expo’s a funny beastie. For years it existed for the booksellers of America.  Librarians?  Sure, they could go but we weren’t exactly encouraged to attend.  We had our ALA Conferences and that was nice and well and good.

But times, they change.  The internet appeared. The bloggers congealed (I’m trying to find a better term to describe this and honestly this is the best I’ve got). And suddenly librarians weren’t just attending Book Expo. They were being encouraged to attend.  Books is books is books.  Maybe you understand why I tend to break into near hysterical laughter when I read the whole “print is dead” argument.  Tell that to the Javits Center in May.

But before Book Expo really kicks up its heels and gets going, School Library Journal hosts a l’il sumthin’ sumthin’ called Day of Dialog.  In terms of sheer concentrated moderation and discussion and smart talking, there’s really no comparison.  For one day, the top authors with their amazing new books, many of which aren’t even out yet, do the talky talk thing.  And we get to listen in.

In writing this up I’m skipping the YA section (as is my wont) and the publisher preview portion.  The talks are always the most interesting part of any Day of Dialog (it’s not called Day of Promotion, after all) so that’s what I’ll report on.  Accordingly.

On this day in question Rebecca Miller, our illustrious Editor-in-Chief, stepped up to do the customary intro.  She was followed by Luann Toth.  And then it was time for our Keynote Speaker to start us off for the day. Whom could it be?  Well, his latest book is The Marvels, a title that I have only seen the smallest of glimpses of.  My hope was to see it officially somewhere in the course of the week. You can’t hide it from me forever, Scholastic!!  Luann, as she introduced him, also mentioned that he had a heckuva amazing exhibit at the D.C. Library’s Great Hall of the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library from March 22-June 21. More details are here.

SelznickSpeaksI am talking, of course, about Brian Selznick.  To begin the day he started off with a pretty excellent intro, joking that he was going to cover all the topics that, by complete coincidence, were already being covered by the other panels today.  And here’s what a stand up and cheer dude he is.  He went out of his way to mention every single author and illustrator speaking that day.  With that in mind, he said, all he could seem to speak about at this point were cat food, marshmallows and . . . oh, yes.  Librarians.  Reading slowly: “I . . . like . . . librarians.”

Boy howdy, does he.  Because what Brian can do so amazingly is that he can name drop librarians.  Even the very first ones who loved him at the start.  Case in point,the first shout out was to the East Brunswick library, where he did his research for The Houdini Box.  The title came out while he worked at Eeyore’s Bookstore (remove your hats in remembrance, folks) and while there Brian was tracked down by a librarian who proceeded to inform him that he would be coming to her school, she would throw him a dinner party, and he’d stay at her house.  Those of us who remember Barbara Gross will believe easily that this conversation took place.  Now around this time the great (and funny) author Paula Danzinger said she’d take Brian under her wing, would mentor him, and show him the ways of the world.  So when she heard that he had already agreed to stay with Barbara she responded in horror, “You NEVER stay at a librarian’s house.”

But as Brian says, “I think it was clear that everyone in town just did what Barbara Gross told them too.”  For example, he found himself in her presence alongside Eileen and Jerry Spinelli who subsequently turned to Brian and asked, “Excuse me, why are we here?”

Brian deftly transitioned this into his first literary “win”.  Nancy Westlake in Iowa City, IA was the librarian who got in contact with him then.  The award had a name like “The Lemmie Award” or something to that effect.  In Nancy’s school, all the kids would vote on their favorite book and get deeply involved in the process.  “I don’t like to brag but I went on to win FOUR Lemmie Awards.  I’m the most winningest Lemmie Award winner in history.”  And so Brian even made a point to fly out when Nancy retired.

SelznickSpeaks2I suppose you could say that it’s easy to delight librarians by mentioning librarians and saying how awesome they are.  That’s fairly true of any profession.  The difference comes in whether or not the speaker actually believes in what they are saying.  And in the case of Mr. Selznick, his sincerity shines through.

The talk the turned to how Brian works.  As a general rule, Brian refuses to never repeat himself.  Instead, his method is to take what he’s learned from his previous books, and then build off of them in some manner.  After Walt Whitman he felt he had gone as far as he could in that format (the nonfiction picture book biography).  Hence the switchover to Hugo and its new style.

When Brian Selznick writes a book he doesn’t think about themes or big ideas.  He thinks about plot.  Cool ideas that can be incorporated into a story.  In The Marvels, his latest work, the starting impetus was a love of the theater. For him, the emotional motivation is the last thing to go into a story.  But when you’re actually reading the books the emotions are the most important part.  If you don’t care about them, the plot won’t matter.  And readers read what they want into the stories. When he was on tour for Hugo, for example, Brian was told by a reader how much they loved how it was a tale of a person creating their own family.  And really, until that moment Brian had no idea that that was what his book was about.  It is, to a large part, the readers’ job to figure out what a book is about.

Now let’s talk about book trilogies.  Trilogies of any sort are so tricky.  If it’s a movie trilogy the second film is always the weakest, unless of course it’s a superhero trilogy, and then the last film is the one to skip.  Children’s book trilogies are different.  Sometimes they don’t have to have any direct links whatsoever.  The Marvels, in a matter of speaking, is the third in Brian’s trilogy.  He cited Maurice Sendak and how he thought of his own best known picture books as a kind of trilogy (Where the Wild Things Are, Outside Over There, and In the Night Kitchen).  So too does Brian of his own books, though he acknowledges it to be, “A very heavy trilogy”.

TheMarvelsIn The Marvels there are two stories.  One story is entirely in pictures.  400 pages of it or so and it starts off the book.  Then that story ends and the rest of the book is in text, 90 years later (coming in at about 200 pages or so).  There are five generations of actors involved and theater and all sorts of stuff (I’m being vague not on purpose but because I’m not entirely certain what the plot is).  The main character lives in 1990 and pieces together the first, older story which may or may not have a connection to his own tale.

The story was inspired in large part by an old London theater.  In researching it he met one David Milne, who encouraged Brian and his husband to go off “mudlarking” with him.  Brian, naturally, didn’t know what that meant.  Down the crew walked to the Thames, finding that what at first looked like stones and rocks were not, in fact, stones and rocks.  They were little pieces of London history.  “I was haunted by this image of the detritus of history spread out upon the beach”.  In that washed up detrius there was, for him, a connection to the vast power of storytelling.  Stories make sense of the past, particularly when the past feels messy and uncontrollable.  And the ability to transform life into a story is the triumph of order over chaos, and power over powerlessness.  That is what The Marvels is about.

Brian then read a selection from the book, and in it we heard of two characters contemplating not just treasures washed beneath their feet but what in life is memorable, and forgettable, and permanent and impermanent.

In closing he urged us, each and every one, to continue putting the chaotic past into some kind of order.

Then it was time for the panels.

Panel 1:

Second Nature:

Celebrating the Natural World and Raising Awareness About How to Protect It

Moderated by Julie Roach of Cambridge Public Library.

So here we have a panel consisting of Anita Silvey (Untamed: The Wild Life of Jane Goodall), Louis Sachar (Fuzzy Mud), Paul Fleischman (Eyes Wide Open: Going Behind the Environmental Headlines) (also my first time seeing him), Wendell Minor (Trapped! A Whale’s Rescue), and April Pulley Sayre (Raindrops Roll).  The books, as Julie pointed out, ranged from preschool to high school.  It was an interesting collection of folks.  Sachar was almost the odd man out since his was the only purely fictional book (speculative fiction at that) in the bunch but he worked in the context of the talks.

NonfictionFirst off, there was some talk about kids and engaging them in literature. Sayre spoke about how kids these days can really get involved in macro photography, so her latest book (Raindrops Roll) engages kids not only on a gee-this-is-pretty level but also because it’s an art that some of them (with the right equipment, of course) could do.  This transitioned gently into how each speaker was engaged by the subject matter of their books.  Silvey, for example, said that Jane Goodall begins each talk with a chimpanzee pant hoot.  “She had me at the hello pant hoot”.  As the answers went down the line, the answers morphed into how the authors became interested in environmental concerns themselves.  Paul Fleischman spoke on his picture book training as well, “In picture books Every. Word. Counts.  Nothing can be extraneous.”  He then quoted Eudora Welty saying that each book teaches you to write it and not the next one (a statement that stood almost in direct opposition to what Brian had been saying earlier about using each book to build onto the next).

Julie tied Sachar back into the conversation by pointing out the loads of science and math in his book.  When asked what he hoped kids would get out of it, he said he hoped first and foremost that they’d enjoy it.  This has always been his point about his own books.  I remember well his desire when Holes came out for it not to be forcibly assigned to kids in school.  So I was happy to see that he mentioned in his discussion of his latest novel Fuzzy Mud the whole subplot on “virtue” and how his main character is actually trying to be virtuous.  It is, to be fair, one of the most interesting elements of the book and something I hadn’t really noticed until Monica Edinger pointed it out to me.  He also said that the book says something about out of control population growth, but I’ll admit that I didn’t pick up on that element at all.

Minor was the only illustrator on board so Julie asked him about his art.  Wendell mentioned that generally speaking, when it comes to picture book publishing there’s an understanding that authors and illustrators don’t tend to talk but he and Robert Burleigh do.  Frequently.  He insists upon it.  He mentioned too that Trapped was based on an incident when a whale seemingly thanked the human divers that saved her.  I heard the story first on RadioLab myself, and if you ever have a chance to listen I recommend it.  They spend a lot of time trying to figure out what exactly the whale was doing since it wasn’t necessarily saying thank you (though that’s what we humans wish it was doing).

SilveySacharSayreAnita did a very funny recap of the difficulties of researching a subject for kids, where she mentioned the first stage (your publisher thinks you know something about the subject of your book and honestly, you don’t), the second stage (you do loads of research and now know everything – too much for a kids’ book), and the third stage (you pare it down).  During the course of her talk I was able to ascertain just how smart a speaker Anita is.  Her particular talent comes in how deftly she alternates between the serious subject matter and jokes.  Meaning and humor.  The keys to any good talk.

Julie wondered if there was a common thread that connects each individual author’s books to one another.  Their answers were:
April – The hope of getting kids to feel connected to the material.
Paul – The presence of the past.  When he was a young adult, Paul lived in a house build in 1770 and it gave him that connection to history that he’s always trying to instill in his young readers.
Wendell – A sense of place and a sense of time. “History is nothing more than stories about very interesting people.”  Also, “History is not old.  It is now.” That would be the theme of the day, it seems.
Anita – The personality of a true believer.  She feels particularly connected to those people who give their life, life’s work, and life’s blood for what they do.  “I understand that personality.”  She pointed out that she has dedicated her own life to children’s books, after all.  So there’s a connection there.
Louis – A sense of optimism.  That for each of his characters (even in his oldest books) the world is open to them.  They can do anything and become anybody.  Once they find themselves and persevere through their problems, of course.  That was the hardest thing about Fuzzy Mud.  It was written with a foreboding sense of impeding catastrophe.

Julie asked if there was a book in any of their childhoods that was a catalyst for them.  That made them what they are today.
April: Petersen’s Field Guide to Birds.  She just loves a good field guide.
Paul: Carl Jung’s Man and His Symbols.
Anita: Her teacher kept saying a swear word. “F.D.R. In my house that was a swear word.” So instead of saying something, she decided to learn more about the subject. That was a turning point for her.
Wendell: His mother would read Beatrix Potter and he fell in love with the animals. He also mentioned how many scientists he’s met that went on to do what they did because of My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George.
Louis: In Our Town by Damon Runyon.

The talk closed up and I got briefly distracted by the #KidPit hastag trending at that time.  Apparently it’s a way of pitching unsolicited manuscripts on Twitter.  Huh.  Who knew?

Focus, Betsy, focus!  Next up:

Panel 2:

Middle School Confidential:

The Tough and Tender Trials of Today’s Young Teens

And we’re off!  After a quick break it was time to spend some time with Tim Federle (Five, Six, Seven, Nate!), Lisa Graff (Lost in the Sun), Luke Reynolds (The Looney Experiment), Rebecca Stead (Goodbye Stranger), and Rita Williams-Garcia (Gone Crazy in Alabama).  Essentially, the world’s greatest cocktail party, but on a stage.  Moderated by Stacy Dillon I was impressed by the fact that they were able to incorporate an author from a smaller publisher (Reynolds is with Blink) with the big boys.

I was also very excited for this panel because I, for one, have noticed a huge uptick in literature for middle schoolers.  Such books are the devil to catalog, of course.  Generally speaking there is no middle school section in public libraries so you’re stuck trying to figure out whether or not to place a book in the juvenile section or YA.  Neither is quite right.  And in a year where I’d argue that two of the three recent Newbery winners were clear cut middle school books (Brown Girl Dreaming and The Crossover), this is a conversation I want to hear people talking about.

First off, Stacy Dillon said that she was going to ask the panelists about “your middle school selves”.  But to get them off to an easy start she lobbed them a softball question of what they liked to read when they were in middle school.
31BrothersSistersRita: Thirty-One Brothers and Sisters by Reba Paeff Mirsky. Insofar as I can tell, this book is out of print so if any enterprising publisher wants to bring it back, I think I know someone who might be willing to give it a blurb.  And Love Story.  Of course.
Rebecca: Rebecca was able to come up with the most books in her answer.  She loved the James Herriott books. Clan of the Cave Bear. She loved Stranger in a Strange Land and books by Ray Bradbury. And on the younger side, there was Norma Klein’s Mom, the Wolfman, and Me.  And I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.  She even gave a shout out to Daddy Was a Number Runner, which is a book that constantly appears on NYC summer reading lists and is bloody impossible to order for my branches sometimes.
Tim: He said his family moved from San Francisco to Pittsburgh. “We were the first family to ever do that. Ever.” Books he enjoyed included Matilda and stories by Shel Silverstein (like Lafcadio, the Lion Who Shot Back “It’s so pro-gun!”). He also said he tried to read The Shining thinking it would be something about (insert jazz hands) Shining!
Luke: Like a lot of kids, Luke had a challenge going on with a friend to read the longest book.  He checked out Crime and Punishment, got to the end, and realized he’d hardly understood a word.  Luck also recounted a somewhat surreal moment in his life when he remembered listening to The Autobiography of Malcolm X on audiobook in his suburban neighborhood while delivering papers with his toy poodle in tow.
Lisa: Like Luke she tried to read the longest books, so attempts were made on Moby Dick, The Bible, etc. So she went back to reading books by Roald Dahl, Louis Sachar, and she was obsessed with The Baby-Sitters Club.  In the end she had about sixty of them and though they were eventually donated to a school library, she likes to think that they’re still there, along with her own books today.

“Share a secret about your middle school selves”, asks Stacy and Rita lets off a sound like a full balloon emitting air painfully.
Rita: Well, when Rita was young she bonded with her best friend over their professed hatred of boys.  She would watch the local gophers with her friend and she’d name them after boys in her classroom. “So . . . we had rocks.  And we had slingshots.  It was an acceptable thing back then.  We didn’t even make them, we bought them at the corner store.  They expected us to use them on SOMETHING!”  Then they’d wait for one in particular, their main target, to poke his head out.  They’d named him after the book Chiefie.  They never got him, though.  So at school they figured they’d freak out their mortal enemies by  staring at them during reading time.  Chant: “I have laser eyes, I have laser eyes.”  At this point Rita paused and addressed the audience directly. “How many of you have figured out I had a crush on Chiefie?”
MiddleSchool1Tim: All the way up until he was 14, Tim would sneak into his parents bedroom and sleep on the floor because he was so afraid.  This is honestly why he’s so drawn to middle schoolers.  He finds the tightrope of “I know everything and I know nothing” so appealing. Around 7th grade, Tim knew he was gay and fortunately he was in a very accepting community so he didn’t feel bad or guilty about it.  Just the same, it was a secret because he knew the minute he told somebody it would no longer be his own.  He didn’t need to act on it yet.  After all, “Not all secrets are bad.”
Luke: He shoplifted quite a bit.  In a way, the revenge for this is that when he tells his kids this fact, they say, “Can you teach us?”  Really, doing it was how he processed his own fear.
Lisa: “I will tell you but promise not to tweet it.” Note that she didn’t say I couldn’t blog it.  Haha!  Back in the day Lisa was The Narrator for Joseph and the Amazing Technocolor Dreamcoat (one of six Narrators, actually).  The boy she had a crush on played the part of Joseph and, fun fact, he’s now mildly famous on Friday Night Lights now.  Anyway, Lisa peeled his name off his cubby and put the sticker on the inside of her vest so she could wear it close to her heart.  Awwwww.  And THAT, ladies and gentlemen, is why I want her for Funny Girl.

Stacy directed the next question directly to Rebecca.  With Goodbye, Stranger in mind she wanted to know about those moments when you say goodbye to someone who has changed or to an old version of yourself.  Rebecca for her part said her books were about sensitizing kids to their own lives in a deeper way.  There’s this moment when you cross a line into a new kind of awareness, and there’s no going back.  For her part, Rebecca has always been genuinely moved by the fact that we change and leave versions of ourselves behind us.  The end of childhood (“which is really many ends”) is like a series of deaths (I said something similar to this in my review of her book, by the way).  That’s why there’s so much to say about those moments and that’s why we think so much about those moments.  Rita chimed in, saying she was blessed in having a character like Delphine who is a child (though she doesn’t know it) and who is often playing the role of a stoic adult.  “The death of girlhood” is a plague in general, said Rita, but certainly in the black community.  These are girls who don’t truly know what it is to have a childhood.  Rita recounted a moment when she once saw a four-year-old feeding her baby brother mashed potatoes, and there was something in the way in which was attending to her brother that showed that she’d done this very often.  This is a girl, said Rita, who will never have her childhood or that feeling of complete silliness, giddiness, wonder, and fear.  She is being set up for that cycle of being a very young mother.  For this and many other reasons, the joy of childhood is something important to Rita in her work.

After this, Luke mentioned that there was a Toni Morrison quote about what kids really want to know is whether or not your eyes light up when you look at them.  That’s what writing for middle school is really about.  Kids want someone to see not the 10% on top but the 90% below.  Lisa said that in her own book, Lost in the Sun, her character Trent is at a crossroads.  He can either become the person people think he is or he can bust out of that, which is the harder thing to do.  It’s hard for kids to figure out where the truth is and what truth you want to hear.

MiddleSchool2Stacy then turned the conversation to a popular topic.  She pointed out that different themes of bullying appear in each of these author’s books.  She asked if bullying was the impetus of the writings or if it just naturally is a part of the middle school experience.  Rita, “Well, it helps to have an older brother and sister.”  As she pointed out, we never think that we’re the bully, especially if we’re the older sibling.  After all, “We’re keeping them in line.”  You don’t think you’re the one tormenting someone since you have a different opinion of the situation.  She hoped that we see a lot more characterizations of the person who holds the power, in complex ways.  She really spoke to the complexity of bullying that is often just NOT in evidence (in books of this sort).  I’m with her on this. We gain very little from the one-sided depictions that are so popular in our fiction right now.  After Rita spoke, Tim said that when he wrote his first book (Better Nate Than Ever) he was still working with the boys of the musical Billy Elliot.  As he watched, he could see that they would bully each other.  As a result he wanted to write a kid who was teased for many reasons and then, in time, to write a sequel where even on Broadway he’s still “The last kid chosen for dodgeball”.  So when he talks to kids about the experience of being bullied he makes sure to say, “Everything that got me picked on in middle school is what gets me paid now.”  And he tells kids that bullying doesn’t stop after middle school which, rather than scaring kids, he think is really important for them to hear and offers a strange kind of comfort.  Rebecca, for her part, didn’t consider bullying at all when writing her book but after people started to read it she could see what they were talking about.  A particularly interesting point made by Rebecca was the fact that it’s not just kids who bully one another.  It’s how a school reacts to a given situation (like, in the case of her book, a sexy selfie).  Schools and administrators can BE bullies themselves.  Had she focused on bullying as an issue from the start when she was writing, she would have concentrated more on how the kids treat one another.

Stacy asked at this point, “How do you keep something for the middle school rather than YA crowd?”  It at this point in the day that I noticed that Tim is not a passive panelist.  In point of fact, he is very good at directing the questions on a panel, thereby avoiding the awkward pause that sometimes can come when people don’t want to answer the moderator.  Watch him and you’ll see that he keeps everything oiled and running smoothly.  As for this question Lisa (who has done both MG and YA novels), said that middle grade books are where kids are feeling out where their place is in the world is and YA titles contain characters figuring out who they are and what makes them unique.  With that in mind, tween is where you’re trying to figure out EVERYTHING (it covers both sides). Rita spoke at this point with a, “So, okay, I don’t MEAN to make you squirm”.  Then she brought up No Laughter Here.  Now this is the rare book that was actually challenged in the NYPL system by a patron who believed that it should be moved from the children’s section to the YA.  It was such a brave friggin’ book too.  If you’re unfamiliar with it, it’s about the topic of female circumcision. Said Rita, these particular characters were her best teachers about stepping aside and remembering whose story it is.  Of all the books mentioned today, this is probably the quintessential middle school book.  Said Rita, you must filter everything you know through your characters perspective and limitations to “as far as they care to know”.  Then she knows she has to pull back and even let her characters be wrong about things.  Know everything you can possibly know and then know your character and trust your character even more.

MiddleGrade3Rebecca said that to her mind it’s very hard to distinguish middle grade from YA because it’s so impossible to draw a strict line.  Everyone reads different things (just look at what the panelists said they read when they were middle schoolers, after all).  So she’d never tell a kid what to read at any given moment.  By the same token, she does think that middle grade fiction should include really truthful, honest stories about kids who are 12 and 13-years-old.  Maybe kids are reading lots of YA because they are experiencing many of the feelings that are fleshed out in YA books and not found in the middle grade stuff.  This ties in quite nicely to the selfie question in her own Goodbye, Stranger, of course.

And what are they working on next?
Lisa: “I’m working on a sequel to A Tangle of Knots.” *clapping comes from audience* “Don’t clap because it’s terrible.” (She’s still in the early draft phase)
Luke: “I’m working on a book that was originally called The Crossover.”
Tim: “I have my first YA novel for next spring The Great American Whatever.  And a new cocktail recipe book. It’s called Gone With the Gin.”
Rebecca: Not writing a book at the moment.
Rita: Yesterday she tweeted that she was falling in love with her latest book Clayton Bird Goes Underground (?).  Not sure about the spelling on Bird on that one.  Hope it’s my last name.  Cause that would be awesome.

Now I’m not going to write up the A.S. King luncheon speech, and this is a shame. I didn’t write it down at the time because she’s YA and I don’t cover that topic.  Still, she had many wonderful things to say about feminism and inclusion that I dearly hope that someone somewhere wrote this stuff down or, better yet, recorded it. If I hear that anyone has, I’ll link to it here.  It was a killer speech.

Panel 3:

Nonfiction Goes Graphic (In Format)

Love the parenthetical at work here. Don’t want folks worried that we have Alan Moore here to talk about Lost Girls, or something.

So here we come to our last panel.  And, to my mind, it’s a good one to end on because it closes things out with a bang.  Jesse Karp was moderating a panel consisting of Don Brown (Drowned City: Hurricane Katrina & New Orleans), Claudia Davila (Child Soldier: When Boys and Girls Are Used in War), Nathan Hale (The Underground Abductor), Maggie Thrash (Honor Girl), and Maris Wicks (Human Body Theater).

Jesse turned out to be a dude.  A loquacious dude.  So we went a bit over time, but he clearly knew the subject matter and was able to place the books on display in a great deal of context.  Right at the start he began by tying in today’s speakers to folks like Spiegelman, Satrapi, McCloud and a lot of the other greats who work in the nonfiction medium.  These people, said Jessie, exemplify the breadth and scope of this topic.  After introducing them he mentioned that he initially had been a bit worried about doing five panelists since surely one of the books he had to introduce would be a dud.  Not the case (and I believe him on this matter).

In an interesting switcheroo, Karp encouraged each person to show a page from their work as they talked about their books.  First up, Don Brown.  He’s not a strict graphic novelist in the traditional sense but his work is unique and visual.  Don mentioned that he’d been making books for kids for more than 20 years, the bulk of which were biographical picture books.  So why the switch to graphic novels?  To a large extent he was inspired by Maus, which when it came out it answered the question forever as to whether or not historical truth could be done in a graphic format.  Brown’s Great American Dust Bowl title was the first book that he tried in this format.  Come to think of it, I believe I reviewed it in the Times alongside fellow panelist Nathan Hale’s Donner Dinner Party.  With his newest book he selected a more recent tragedy: Katrina.  Brown explained with an image how the visual medium is perfect for showing moments like a couple climbing away from the water, having to claw their way out of their own roof.  “In a graphic novel you can have action across the page that will emphasize the points you’re trying to make.”  He also juxtaposed Bush’s “Heckuva job, Brownie” alongside the images of dead bodies after the flooding.  Said he, “All historians have a point of view. If they say they don’t, they’re lying.”

Jesse pointed out that one argument often leveled against comics is that they’re forcing you to see things in a specific, singular way.  But as Brown pointed out, doesn’t prose do the same thing?  After all, every book has a point of view, even if it’s not immediately apparent.  That’s just reality.  Imagery is always very dicey and Brown understands why people have a problem with it, particularly when it comes to graphic novels.  Similarly, people have the mistaken belief that if it isn’t a photograph there’s something inauthentic about it.  But don’t be fooled.  There’s no such thing as photorealism.  All the elements that make a photo up tell a story apart and beyond words.  And Don accepts that and embraces it, so he has no problem with forcing people to witness his own point of view of a historical moment.

Said Jesse, perspective is essential.  He then introduced Maris Wicks.

“Maris is great, by the way,” says Don Brown.

“Greetings, human beings”, says Maris.

NFGNsSo Maris began with the statement that she is a big nerd.  She loves the natural world and also loves making narrative nonfiction books.  Turns out, she’s the one who did the Dian Fossey / Jane Goodall / Biruté Galdikas book, Primates!  I had no idea.  The style in her latest book, Human Body Theater, is not precisely the same.  The reason for this was that Maris wanted the book to be something fierce.  “I think self care and self knowledge are really important,” she said.  In terms of the slide she wanted to show, her selected section was on cuts and scabs.  As she explained, part of the awesome language of comics is that she can go inside the skin of a papercut and there’s a narrative to that.  Though, to be honest, there’s a narrative to everything!  Whether it’s mucus in our “crazy large nasal cavities” or the beating of our hearts.  It is text heavy, but she hopes the playfulness of the writing and art will help. The pictures also help you along with the hope that you’ll be able to tap into the flow of it all.  Additional Bonus: There’s a fair amount of anthropomorphism.  Said she, “I make a lot of things that don’t talk, talk.”  A bit ironically, Maris also works as an educator at an aquarium and she and her co-workers take a bit of care to move away from anthropomorphism there.  But in a story like this one, you care more about things if you can relate to them.  It’s sort of what Brian said at the beginning of the day about emotions and empathy.  If you don’t care about the talking skeleton on the page, what’s going to compel you to keep reading.

Jesse following up on her talk, pointing out that the images of anatomy in this book have a kind of power that a photograph never could.  This raw sense of life and animation can’t be found in a photo, so the drawn medium really does contribute to a sense of engagement.  But all of that being true, the imagery must to some extent be accurate.  So how do you work with primary sources on the visual end and turn them into something “uniquely you” and yet remain accurate at the same time?  Maris responded that research is actually her favorite part of any book.  For this title, for example, she engaged the services of a lot of textbooks and picture dictionaries.  DK’s books for kids were useful, and she looked at them to see how the information on this topic had been presented in earlier children’s books.  After all, when information is presented in a different way it creates that all important “ah ha!” moment.  And since a lot of what’s in her book is information that is already being learned, what she hopes is that her book is just going to help child readers remember the facts or give them a little different information or just present it in a new way.

Next up was Claudia who confessed at the start that this was her first trip to NY.  She was also a little different from her fellow panelists because she was the illustrator of her GN and not the author.  This book is a memoir of Michel Chikwanine, a man who, when he was five-years-old, found his free and fun-loving childhood over when he was abducted by rebel soldiers.  Her main goal with this book was to honor Michel’s experience as he visits schools and brings awareness to child soldiers around the world.  A big part of the book examines his relationship to his father, an activist who was in time killed by the soldiers. In terms of the art itself, Claudia utilizes a more painterly style, rather than pen and inks. This was a conscious choice since it calms down the visuals and doesn’t glorify the violence and action.  In many ways, Claudia’s goal with this project was to create the whole book without depicting any violence.  In terms of the story’s audience she said it was for grades 4 and up, though I’m afraid I disagree with that.  I actually have read this one, since it arrived at my desk and I assumed that it was middle grade.  Yet when I read it the content, while not visually graphic, is definitely for middle school readers at the very least.

When Jesse was given a chance to speak he mentioned that he was amazed by the extent to which the art actually controls the reader’s experience.  The subject matter is very heavy and yet the style finds a tone that would make Jesse comfortable handing the book to his students but does not get rid of any of the immediacy and authenticity of the text.  Don Brown had talked earlier about how he placed President Bush’s panel next to one containing dead bodies for effect, but here it’s not just the placement of the panels but the panel borders that tell a tale.  What’s inside of them is still appropriate for kids to read but the borders suggest that what isn’t within these enclosed spaces is far far worse. Claudia responded that she thought it was very important that the book was written in the first person.  That way the reader can connect with the experience.  Almost every panel has Michel in it so it really is about his specific experience.  She went on to say that generally speaking, in a book like this one you never want a duplication of the art and the text or else the art will feel redundant.  The text itself is very graphic with tons of detail, after all.  And because the text was so graphic it gave her an opportunity to illustrate something “adjacent” to Michel’s experiences.

UndergroundAbductorNext up, one of my favorite comic artists, Nathan Hale.  His current book about Harriet Tubman is nothing short of amazing.  Jaw-dropping.  Spectacular.  Nathan said he thought broadly about nonfiction and graphic novels on his way here.  And as he did so, a metaphor popped into his head.  So imagine if in the 40s, 50s, and 60s in America, all sports started dying off and all that was left was pro-wrestling.  That’s what comics in America has been for a very long time.  The last 50 years have been guys in tights punching each other.  So when people ask him if he read comics growing up he’d say no.  But then he realized that he did read newspaper comics.  In fact, he was a die-hard comic page reader.  Even when Nathan speaks to librarians these days, a lot of them instantly zero in on the superhero stuff.  But that’s just not the case around the world.  Nate then proceeded to talk about international graphic novels that spanned a wide range of topics.  Series like King of Tennis, about a kid who just wants to become the best possible tennis player.  There are even comics in other countries that cover OUR history!  One that he mentioned is French, from the 1970s, and about soldiers during the Civil War (my husband says the series is The Bluecoats).

BUT!  There is good news on the horizon.  We’re starting to bring it all back.  Getting back to those newspaper comics, Nathan then talked about Bill the Cat and how Alley Oop was beautiful but neeeever funny.  His favorites, however, were the political comics because the drawings in them were so crazy.  He didn’t know what they were about but he knew they were grown-up stuff and that they were true on some level.  So he started adopting that.  Think about how he used the animals in Treaties, Trenches, Mud and Blood.  In speaking about his latest book, he said that there was nothing cooler than seeing the country suddenly go Harriet Tubman crazy.  She’s trending on Twitter!  There’s going to be a movie!  Harriet Tubman is one of those names that immediately makes a schoolkid sleepy so Nathan didn’t want to use her name anywhere on the cover.  As a result, she’s Araminta for most of the book and then when she changes her name to Harriet Tubman that’s a kind of gasp aloud moment.

Jesse said that humor is clearly central to what Nathan does and that this heavy subject matter is laced with humor but it works all the way through.  Yet, at the same time, and not unlike political cartoons, there’s information that needs to be conveyed.  There’s real heavy duty information.  Everything Nathan does is more interesting to him if it’s visual.  It just makes it that much more appealing than an information dump. The thing about graphic novel readers is that they can read a GN faster than a novel, but, by the same token, they’ll reread it many many more times.

Maggie was last.  Her book was basically about unrequited summer camp love.  It was also about getting your heart pulverized for the first time and now your childhood is OVER (another theme of the day)!  Unlike a lot of the other folks, she’s entirely self-taught.  Heck, her style changed between the beginning of the book and the end.  And as with most memoirs, you’re very involved in her struggles.  “You get to be with me with my frustration and my ineptitude”.  With comics all the noise of prose is gone.  As a result, what’s on the page is intense and immediate. “I’ll never go back.”  Jesse concurred, saying that Maggie so powerfully evoked her own feelings that the sense of desperation at work here is palpable.  With a memoir, unlike a biography, in some sense you have to punch through the whole idea of perspective and pull the reader into who you are.  And he assumed from having read this, it’s a kind of emotional baring of yourself.

Finally, the panel was done and it was the moment of the hour.  For the very first time, the announcement of the 2015 Boston Globe-Horn Book Awards were happening at Day of Dialog.  A VERY smart move (and I’m not just saying that).  Up came Roger Sutton (“My brother-in-arms” as Luann Toth called him).  It was sort of like getting to sit in on the Emmys.  Rebecca Stead was with him as he navigated the PowerPoint.

First awarded in 1967 this particular award is given to excellence in literature for children and young adults.  The award calendar is unusual and sets it apart from the usual end-of-year lists.  Eligible books this year had to be published between June 1st 2014 – May 31st 2015.  In recent years the Globe’s commitment to the award has been considerable, says Roger.  He then pointed out the previous winners in the room.  Folks like Paul Fleischman, Don Brown, Louis Sachar.  Rebecca Stead. He even asked a trivia question: What has won the Boston Horn Book-Globe Award, the Newbery  and The National Book Award? The Answer: M.C. Higgins the Great.

And the winners are . . . .

Fiction

Honors: Egg and Spoon by Gregory Maguire

Challenger Deep by Neal Shusterman

Award: Cartwheeling in Thunderstorms by Katherine Rundell

Nonfiction

Honors: The Boys Who Challenged Hitler by Phillip Hoose

Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson

Award: The Family Romanov: Murder, Rebellion & the Fall of Imperial Russia by Candace Fleming

Picture Book

Honors: It’s Only Stanley by Jon Agee

‘Once Upon an Alphabet by Oliver Jeffers

Award: The Farmer and the Clown by Marla Frazee

Friday, October 2nd the awards will be given out in person.

And that’s all she wrote with very tired, numb fingers, folks!  Many thanks to SLJ for letting me tag along and to all the folks for the great day.  And the cookies.  Seriously, where did the cookies come from?  They were amazing.  Two thumbs up big time for the cookies.

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2 Comments on Day of Dialog 2015: Putting the Chaotic Past Into Some Kind of Order, last added: 5/28/2015
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15. Review: Out of the Way! Out of the Way! by Uma Krishnaswami and Uma Krishnaswamy

Out of the Way! Out of the Way! written by Uma Krishnaswami, illustrated by Uma Krishnaswamy (Tulika Books, 2010 / Groundwood, 2012)

 

Out of the Way! Out of the Way!
written by Uma Krishnaswami, illustrated by Uma … Continue reading ...

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16. PG LIVE - gillian flint at bright

These are some of the latest pattern work from Gillian Flint. Gillian is an illustrator represented by Bright Art Licensing who works in greeting cards and children's books. Bright will be exhibiting at PG Live next week (2nd/3rd June) showcasing lots of designs and patterns for licensing from all their fab artists.

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17. Trigger Mortis, the new James Bond Novel from Anthony Horowitz

From The Telegraph: 28.05.15

The Foyle’s War and Midsomer Murders creator unveiled the title and a plot outline for the forthcoming James Bond thriller on Thursday morning, to mark what would have been Fleming’s 107th birthday. Trigger Mortis

will be set in 1957, two weeks after the events of Goldfinger, placing Bond in the middle of the Soviet-American Space Race as the US prepares for a critical rocket launch.

As well as bringing back Pussy, who was played in the film adaptation by Honor Blackman, Horowitz will introduce another Bond girl, Jeopardy Lane, as well as a “sadistic, scheming Korean adversary hell-bent on vengeance” named Jai Seung Sin.

The plot also includes Fleming’s own treatment for an unfilmed episode of a television series, Murder on Wheels, in which Bond gets involved in a Formula One race in Nürburgring in Germany. This will kick off the action in Trigger Mortis.

Lucy Fleming, the niece of Ian Fleming, said “it was almost as if Ian had written [Trigger Mortis]

himself”.

“It does feel like a Fleming book,” she said. “It takes place a couple of weeks after Goldfinger – Pussy’s back, which is fantastic, and we’ve got a particularly good villain in Sin – he’s absolutely horrible, a megalomaniac type, but fascinating as well … Pussy Galore is one of the iconic characters from the films and the books … It will be interesting to see what the public make of that.”

Although novelists including Jeffrey Deaver, Sebastian Faulks and William Boyd have all written authorised new Bond novels, Horowitz is the first to place his work directly within Fleming’s original canon, to continue the adventures of one of the Bond girls created by the novelist, and to work with previously unpublished Fleming material.

“Each writer has their own style, but I think Anthony is closest to Ian’s style,” said Lucy Fleming. “And he has the page-turning effect of making you think ‘what the hell is going to happen next?’ … He’s worked Murder on Wheels in brilliantly – it’s woven into the whole thing. It was just a treatment, really, with the idea for the plot.”

Orion Publishing will release Trigger Mortis

on 8 September.
Trigger Mortis - James Bond Novel
Trigger Mortis

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18. Surveillance and privacies

In its recent report, Privacy and Security: A modern and transparent legal framework, the Parliamentary Intelligence and Security Committee pondered on the scale of public concern about digital surveillance. A feature of the current controversy is its narrow chronology. The decades before 9/11 correspond to the medieval period and the centuries before the internet are lost in the mists of time. The legislation that controls the behaviour of the security agencies, particularly the Acts of 1989, 1994 and 2000, is generally seen as obsolete.

The post Surveillance and privacies appeared first on OUPblog.

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19. Hanging out with the yellow gang


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20. FABRICS - andover

 I wanted to pick out a few of the new fabrics being released by Andover in 2015. The first is this super cute dog collection called 'Patch' designed by the Makower Studio which will be on sale in September 2015. Next up is Sophia a delicate lined floral from Makower which will be launched next month in June 2015. And also from Makower are these bright designs from

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21. ALSC Blog


I'm over at the ALSC Blog today with a post on my recent stint as a "virtual teacher."  Please hop over and read it. 



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22. Neustadt International Prize for Literature finalists

       They've announced the finalists for the 2016 Neustadt International Prize for Literature, and they are:

  • Can Xue (nominated by Porochista Khakpour)
  • Caryl Churchill (nominated by Jordan Tannahill)
  • Carolyn Forché (nominated by Valzhyna Mor)
  • Aminatta Forna (nominated by Mukoma Wa Ngugi)
  • Ann-Marie MacDonald (nominated by Padma Viswanathan)
  • Guadalupe Nettel (nominated by Valeria Luiselli)
  • Don Paterson (nominated by Amit Majmudar)
  • Dubravka Ugrešić (nominated by Alison Anderson)
  • Ghassan Zaqtan (nominated by Wang Ping)
       As usual, a fairly interesting list -- and what a day for Can Xue, named a finalist on the same day she wins the Best Translated Book Award.

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23. Review: Dear Baobab by Cheryl Foggo and Qin Leng

Dear Baobab, written by Cheryl Foggo, illustrated by Qin Leng (Second Story Press, 2011)

 

Dear Baobab
written by Cheryl Foggo, illustrated by Qin Leng
(Second Story Press, 2011)

 

Following the death of his parents, seven-year-old … Continue reading ...

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24. DESIGNER - red cheeks factory

Nelleke Verhoeff is an artist/illustrator from the Netherlands. From her base in Rotterdam Nelleke makes all kind of illustrations, wall art and patterns in her own wimsical, colorful and poetic style. Under the started studio label 'Red Cheeks Factory' she creates giclee prints, postcards and surface pattern designs. Nelleke is mostly inspired by people, she loves to watch their facial

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25. Best Translated Book Awards

       They announced the winners of this year's Best Translated Book Awards, and they were:

  • Fiction: The Last Lover, by Can Xue, in Annelise Finegan Wasmoen's translation, published by Yale University Press in their Margellos World Republic of Letters-series; see their publicity page, or get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk

  • Poetry: Diorama, by Rocío Cerón, in Anna Rosenwong's translation, published by Unnamed Press; see their publicity page, or get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk
       (I was one of the nine judges for the fiction prize.)

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