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1. LODESTAR Official Launch Party Details

Here we go again, guys.

We're about five weeks away from LODESTAR launching into the world.


*MUPPET FLAILING*

And like always, I have TONS of updates coming up, including the pre-order swag giveaway details and my final tour dates and locations. (you can actually find most of the tour info already on my events page if you're curious, but I'm still waiting on a couple of pieces of info so I'm waiting until I have EVERYTHING until I make an official post.)

I've also be sharing character art on social media--and have teasers coming up next month--so if you aren't following me on Instagram, you might wanna click HERE so you don't miss out)

And for those of you in SoCal (or thinking of visiting SoCal in November), here's the info for the official Launch Party:


And in case that graphic isn't loading for some reason, here are the details again in plain text:

Tuesday, 11/1/16
7:00 pm
Barnes &Noble Montclair Plaza
5183 Montclair Plaza Ln.
Montclair, CA 91763


And this year we're doing things a *little* differently. Since the signing line can get CRAZY long, we'll be using wristbands to make it easier for you guys. Don't worry--walk-ins the day of the event are still totally welcome. But if you want to make sure they don't run out of books and you'd like a guaranteed spot toward the front of the signing line, you can call (909)399-1966 and reserve your wristband for the event. Think of it as a Disneyland FastPass--only even more magical*

*okay, it's probably NOT more magical than Disneyland--can we call it a close second?

Wristbands will be organized into groups, so the sooner you call and reserve yours, the closer you'll be to the front of the line. Even better--it'll give us a better idea of how many cupcakes to bring (since we always seem to run out within minutes o.0) And the cupcakes this year are going to be SO GOOD--more on that later--so we want to make sure we have enough.

And as if free cupcakes aren't awesome enough, everyone who comes to the launch party and buys a copy of LODESTAR will get one of these shiny Verdi on Duty buttons (in addition to all the other swaggish goodies you'll see me talking about for the pre-order giveaway)


For those who don't live in SoCal or can't come to the launch, there will be a few other chances to get one of these buttons, but getting a wristband for the Launch Party guarantees you'll get one that night! (and those without wristbands at the launch party will most likely get one too--but the only way to guarantee it is to get the wristband, so seriously, call ahead and reserve yours!)

If you have any questions, feel free to ask away in the comments section below. Otherwise mark those calendars for 11/1/16.

And ....  that's it for now. But like I said--stay tuned. Soooooooooooooooooo many more exciting things are coming up over the next few weeks. 

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2. The Inquisitor's Tale, or Three Magical Children and Their Holy Dog by Adam Gidwitz, illustrated by Hatem Aly, 384 pp, RL 4


In 2010, A Tale Dark and Grimm the debut novel by Adam Gidwitz, captured my attention and that of many other readers, young and old. Gidwitz is a master story teller and his reworking of the fairy tales of the Brothers Grimm, many of them less than well known, is marvelous. I was thrilled when my son shared my enthusiasm for this book and even more excited when I discovered that reading it out loud was a great way to entice my students, many of whom are reluctant and/or struggling readers, to persevere with a longer book. True to his story telling nature, Gidwitz is back with The Inquisitor's Tale, a manuscript illuminated by Hatem Aly and like no other children's book I have read before.

Set in 1242 and echoing the structure of Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales, The Inquisitor's Tale finds an (initially) unnamed narrator at the Holy Cross-Roads Inn, a day's walk north of Paris. It is the perfect night for a story as a group gathers around the rough wooden table, sticky with ale. The king will be marching past the inn on his way to war with three children and their dog. A brewster, a librarian, a nun, a butcher, a jongleur, a chronicler, a troubadour and the innkeeper take turns telling stories of these three children and their dog, each one adding to the tapestry of their story. Subtly but surely, Gidwizt presents characters who are discriminated against or (much) worse, for gender, religion, and class.

Jeanne is a peasant girl who is seized with visions of the future. As an infant, her parents killed her babysitter/protector, Gwenforte, a white greyhound with a copper blaze on her snout, thinking that the dog had attacked Jeanne. Far from the truth, the loyal Gwenforte had saved the baby from an adder that made its way into the house. Realizing their mistake, they gave the dog a proper burial in a grove that quickly became a holy place and the dog thought of as a saint. Years later, after seeing a beloved neighbor, thought to be a heretic, hauled off by a huge, fat, red headed monk from Bologna, Jeanne knows she must keep her fits and the visions that follow a secret. She must also keep Gwenforte, who has come back to life, a secret.

The second child is William, an oblate. The son of a great lord fighting in Spain against the Muslim kings and a Saracen from Northern Africa, he was left at a monastery as a baby. More than his dark color, the size of William is a constant source of amazement and occasional frustration - or worse - to the monks. William's great size, strength and appetite, both for food and knowledge, make him a threat to some of the monks and he is sent away with a donkey, saddlebags full of books to be delivered to another monastery by way of a forest inhabited by fiends. 

Finally, there is Jacob, a Jew who survives the burning of his village by Christian boys and has the ability to miraculously heal the sick and injured. Jacob only wants to be reunited with his parents, but his ability to read and his love of his religion shape his path. As The Inquisitor's Tale unfolds, it becomes clear that, not only is this a story about stories and storytelling, it is a story about books. There are many strange twists and turns in The Inquisitor's Tale, including a hilarious incident with a dragon who, by way of a lactose intolerance issue, comes to pass gas that sets knights on fire. This leads to a fantastic scene with a cure from Jacob that involves vomiting up a tremendous amount of French cheese, Époisses, which Jeanne describes as tasting like life, "Rotten and strange and rich and way, way too strong." As the tales are told, we come to learn that King Louis is planning a book burning that the children will inevitably be part of. In fact, he has had his monks gather up all the texts written in Hebrew and  created an enormous bonfire in the heart of Paris. Being an oblate, William has a deep reverence for books, knowing the time and effort that goes into copying out a text. Being Jewish and able to read, Jacob also has a great reverence for books and the word of the Talmud. It is this reverence for books that leads the three children and Gwenforte to an amazing standoff with the king and his terrible mother at Mont Saint-Michel, the incredible island commune in Normandy.

While The Inquisitor's Tale has a deep vein of Christian thought and history running through it, Gidwitz makes his story richer and more engaging by also highlighting those who suffered in the face of Christianity. He begins the book, which he researched for six years and includes an extensive and interesting author's note as well as an annotated bibliography, with a quote from poet W. H. Auden that calls for loving "your crooked neighbor / With your crooked heart." It is this thought, one that Jacob reads in the Talmud and Jeanne notes that Jesus said, but in reverse, that drives the story and the children. As their adventures escalate and they meet many broken, crooked, questionable adults (they are the only children in the story) and they forgive and love their neighbors over and over. When they find themselves discussing Cain, Abel and the use of the word "bloods" (and not "blood," which William attributes to drunk scribes) they compare the loss of one life, which is really the loss of many - the descendants that person may never have - to the loss of books and the knowledge they contain and can eventually touch many lives with, Willam saying, 

A scribe might copy out a single book for years. An illuminator would then take it and work on it for longer still. Not to mention the tanner who made the parchment, and the bookbinder who stitched the book together, and the librarian who worked to get the book for the library and keep it safe from mold and thieves and clumsy monks with ink pots and dirty hands. And some books have authors, too, like Saint Augustine or Rabbi Yehuda. When you think about it, each book it a lot of lives. Dozens and dozens of them.

To this, Jeanne adds, "Dozens and dozens of lives, and each life a whole world." Having worked in almost all aspects of the world of kid's books at this point in my working life, I feel compelled to add to this idea. It is truly amazing, even in this day when books are printed by machines and illustrations can be created on computers, to realize how many hands touch a written work before it becomes a book on a shelf, from the literary agent (and the agent's assistant) to the editor at the publishing house to the booksellers, reviewers and librarians who embrace the story and pass it on, retelling it to invite new readers. And that's not even mentioning the writer's critique groups and family and friends who read manuscripts in the early (and late) stages. Storytelling touches us all, whether we write the words or not, and I am grateful to Adam Gidwitz for reminding us of this - especially with such a highly entertainingly readable book like The Inquisitor's Tale!

source: review copy











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3. So not a form: Structure evolves from dramatic ideas

The sonata concept served some of the greatest imaginations in the history of music, but seriously it is, as I like to say to students, “so not a form”. Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, and Brahms were not in need of a standardized template, and in essence what has come to be called sonata form is more like courtroom procedure: a process that allows for an infinite variety of stories to be unfold, from a fender bender to vandalism to murder.

The post So not a form: Structure evolves from dramatic ideas appeared first on OUPblog.

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4. The earnest faith of a storyteller

Ang Lee, the two-time Academy Award-winning director, has noted that we should never underestimate the power of storytelling. Indeed, as a storyteller, Lee has shown through his films the potential of stories to connect people, to heal wounds, to drive change, and to reveal more about ourselves and the world. In particular, Lee has harnessed new technology for storytelling in movies such as Life of Pi (2012) and his upcoming feature film Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk (to be released on 11 November, 2016).

The post The earnest faith of a storyteller appeared first on OUPblog.

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5. A History of my Archive in 10 Objects. No.4: Corona 4 typewriter, 1924

Number 4 in this series of 10 Images from my Archives found at my dad's house is my old typewriter... and I mean old typewriter!

Corona Model 4 portable typewriter, 1924 pattern

When I was 16 I discovered the work of the Golden Age illustrators (Rackham, Dulac, Heath-Robinson, Stratton etc). In fact it was a re-discovery really as my mum had kept a couple of compendiums from her childhood that had been illustrated by these artists, but I rarely saw those. It was only in the mid-70's that I began seriously examining children's illustration, Arthur Rackham's work in particular began transporting me to realms of the imagination. Gradually my artwork at school began to take on the iconography of old fashioned ethereal fairy tales, anthropomorphised animals and so on. By the time I reached 6th Form I knew I wanted to be a children's book illustrator, so it was only natural I'd also pursue writing too.

My first attempts at writing children's books had been laughable copies of Enid Blyton adventures, written by hand when I was around 13.... none extended past the first chapter! But by 1977 I was serious, and so managed to persuade my parents to buy me a typewriter.

Of course, what I had in mind was a modern, zippy electric typewriter that I could churn out pages of manuscript. But, ever watchful for a bargain, my mum spotted an ad for something second-hand, and what I ended up with was a Corona 4 manual machine,  released onto the market in 1924. I remember the day we picked this up from a big old house on the private estate, I didn't quite know what to make of it - this wasn't hi-tech! though I fell in love with it's look.



I'd never touched a typewriter before in my life, so the fact the ribbon feed was rusty, you had to bang down the keys so hard it made your fingers ache, or that the 'e' was slightly misaligned didn't bother me, I had no other experience to compare to so just got on with it - it was the only way for me. I felt I was following the route of the great writers, rather than obsolete, it was 'classic'.

While other 18-year olds were discovering pubs, I spent most of my free time typing out my first manuscript In Search of Summer Gold - my one and only attempt at a novel - a long, pretty unpublishable tale of anthropomorphised mice and fairies in the 18th century, a mix of The Wind in the Willows meets The Lord of the Rings, with a good dollop of Brothers Grimm and Peter Pan thrown in for good measure. And of course I illustrated it with highly derivative pen drawings. From a professional level it was not very good and was turned down by two publishers before I eventually shelved it .... but at least it taught me to type!


Later on I used the Corona to type up my degree thesis, and in the early '80's the first issues of the Norwich post-punk fanzine/magazine The Blue Blanket ... banging those keys down with a satisfying smack! smack! smack! as they hit the ribbon, it was the perfect instrument on which to take out frustrations with the world. But thereafter it was retired, and I've never attempted to write a novel again.

It took a battering in the years I used it, 35 years in my dad's loft has not been good to my old stalwart either, but I was very glad to rediscover it there.


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6. Coloring Page Tuesday - Hobbit Ewok

     This thank you card was for one of the interns who helped us out at Hollins University this past summer. She struck me as somebody who was into Star Wars and maybe The Hobbit too - so out came this Ewok Hobbit. Strange? What do you think the key is all about? Hmmm.
     CLICK HERE for more coloring pages!
     CLICK HERE to sign up to receive alerts when a new coloring page is posted each week and... Please check out my books! Especially...
my debut novel, A BIRD ON WATER STREET - winner of six literary awards. Click the cover to learn more!
     When the birds return to Water Street, will anyone be left to hear them sing? A miner's strike allows green and growing things to return to the Red Hills, but that same strike may force residents to seek new homes and livelihoods elsewhere. Follow the story of Jack Hicks as he struggles to hold onto everything he loves most.
     I create my coloring pages for teachers, librarians, booksellers, and parents to enjoy for free with their children, but you can also purchase rights to an image for commercial use, please contact me. If you have questions about usage, please visit my Angel Policy page.

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7. School Library Connection Recommends “The Courage Test”

The Lemhi Pass, ID, no easy walk in the park.

The Lemhi Pass, ID, no easy walk in the park.

-

I am grateful to share another positive review for The Courage Test, this one from the School Library Connection, a link which my glamorous editor Liz kindly passed along yesterday. The review will be featured in their print magazine supplement, as well as on the reVIEWS+ site.

The money quote:

“This book will find many fans.” — School Library Connection.

Let’s hope!

Review excerpts are limited to 50 words or less. Let’s see what I can pull without cheating too much  . . .

“Many readers will identify with Will, who is forced to go on a road trip with his noncustodial dad, even though he really has other things that he would rather be doing. To make the trip worse, his Lewis and Clark obsessed history professor father has planned to follow most of Lewis and Clark’s route all the way across the country. The Corps of Discovery almost becomes another character in this coming-of-age story . . . . Recommended.”School Library Connection.

NOTE: Father and son pick up the L & C Trail at Fort Mandan, ND, and travel west to Seaside, OR. Along the way they meet strangers, paddle a canoe, ride in whitewater rapids, camp, hike the Lolo Trail, encounter bears (metaphoric & literal), and more.

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8. Celebrating Banned Books Week!

How fantastic is it that the theme for this year's Banned Books Week (Sept. 25 - Oct. 1) is Frequently Challenged Books with Diverse Content? We are all about books with diverse content here (well, not ALL, but it's one of the themes we feature... Read the rest of this post

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9. MAISONS DU MONDE - exotic & ethnic

P&P today is all about the Exotic - mainly meaning designs inspired by a country that seems distant and different from your own. French company Maisons du Monde created a variety of looks inspired by countries such Mexico, Brazil, and Spain. We begin with a selection using ethnic motifs and colourful embroidery, with poms poms and South American brights. This is followed by Palm Springs and Rio

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10. हैप्पी बर्थ डे गूगल – गूगल का 18वां जन्मदिन

हैप्पी बर्थ डे गूगल हैप्पी बर्थ डे गूगल – गूगल का 18वां जन्मदिन आज है. गूगल सर्च इंजन एक शानदार जरिया है जानकारी पाने का . Happy Birth day Google.26 सितम्बर को गूगल का 18वां जन्मदिन मना रहा है. Happy Birthday  पर गूगल ने अपना स्‍पेशल डूडल जारी किया है. क्या है गूगल का इतिहास  हैप्पी बर्थ […]

The post हैप्पी बर्थ डे गूगल – गूगल का 18वां जन्मदिन appeared first on Monica Gupta.

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11. "Calling All Authors": My Blog Tour Begins

My new middle grade novel, Write This Down, enters the world today. All my book children are dear to my heart, but this book might be especially dear because it's about a seventh-grade girl who is an aspiring writer, and I was once that same seventh-grade girl, give or take. I loved to write the way that Autumn does, and I sought publication in every venue I could find, though back then the only serials I was familiar with were The Reader's Digest and Ideals Magazine: both sent me plenty of rejections.

In writing the book I also drew on my philosopher/ethicist self by giving Autumn the moral dilemma most authors face at some time or another in our careers: how much should we write about our own lives, where this also means writing about the lives of our loved ones? If we don't draw on material from our own experience, our stories can feel artificial and contrived. But if we do, they can feel like - and be? - a betrayal. "To publish or not to publish?" is the hard choice Autumn faces at the end of the novel.

I'm lucky enough that the wonderful publicist at my publisher, Farrar, Straus & Giroux has organized a blog tour for Write This Down, which begins today. So I'll be sharing all kinds of thoughts about the creation of the book - including snippets of my own childhood writing - on the sites of six generous bloggers who will take turns hosting me all week long.

Here's the lineup:

September 27: Ruth Ayers Writes

September 28: Charting by the Stars

September 29: Two Writing Teachers

September 30: Daydream Reader

October 1: The Brain Lair

October 2: Maria's Mélange

Come visit!






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12. It’s Slice of Life Tuesday!

WRITE a slice of life story on your own blog. SHARE a link to your post in the comments section. GIVE comments to at least three other SOL bloggers. Today’s inspiration comes from… Continue reading

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13. This Week in Manhattan: Animation Nights New York Best of Fest

New York City has a new mini-animation festival, and it's taking place this week.

The post This Week in Manhattan: Animation Nights New York Best of Fest appeared first on Cartoon Brew.

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14. Counting Kids - Still Thinking About Summer Reading/Learning

There was recently a thread on the ALSC listserv discussing whether there was a national "finisher" rate for summer reading program.

It became clear pretty quickly that definitions of finishing ranged from counting the number of kids who signed up to the library setting a goal and counting the kids who reach it - and everything in between. It was also pretty apparent that each library takes an individual approach to SLP and the idea of any national benchmark beyond number of kids participating (and even that is shaky) is apples and zucchinis.

I have had my turn at this dance over the years. When we shared information with our schools, we kept careful excel sheet or database data that we updated each time a child returned. When we looked to increase usage by certain grade levels or from certain schools, we loved our stats - and used 'em. When we handed incentives along the way or created a goal, we kept track to see when kids hit that level. I have been stat bound on some level most of my career.

But this summer I watched as colleagues at my former library dispensed altogether with sign-ups. When children registered they put a sneaker on a pillar. Throughout the program, kids could pick up weekly activity sheets. Both methods used the "count back" strategy to arrive at numbers. You know how many sneaker cut-outs you began with and count what you have leftover to determine sign-up numbers (1000 sneakers; 25 left = 975 kids starting the program). You have 300 copies of a weekly activity sheet and at the end of the week you have 10 = 290 kids participated that week.

This took the pressure and onus off the staff and provided less widgeting for kids. Since the library went prizeless a few years ago (except for a book for the kids) and seldom used stats on grade level or school, this was a simple evolution. Kids earned a book this summer after returning once and a "Summer Reader Lives Here" yard sign when they self-reported a 5th return visit.

Record keeping and definitions of success can be administration/board driven or an internal call to crazy stat keeping. But when we break down what we really - no I mean, REALLY - need in stats we gather (whether in-house or online), it may become clear that we are over-asking kids and over-working staff for returns that have no larger meaning.

Finding ways to simplify the process of getting the numbers we need (kids signed up; average participation rate) can take some real stress out of a busy time and carve needed time to reach out and really interact with kids and families. And seems worth the change!

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15. Review of the Day: Cloud and Wallfish by Anne Nesbet

cloud-and-wallfishCloud and Wallfish
By Anne Nesbet
Candlewick Press
$16.99
ISBN: 978-0-7636-8803-5
Ages 9-12
On shelves now

Historical fiction is boring. Right? That’s the common wisdom on the matter, certainly. Take two characters (interesting), give them a problem (interesting), and set them in the past (BOOOOOORING!). And to be fair, there are a LOT of dull-as-dishwater works of historical fiction out there. Books where a kid has to wade through knee-deep descriptions, dates, facts, and superfluous details. But there is pushback against this kind of thinking. Laurie Halse Anderson, for example, likes to call her books (Chains, Forge, Ashes, etc.) “historical thrillers”. People are setting their books in unique historical time periods. And finally (and perhaps most importantly) we’re seeing a lot more works of historical fiction that are truly fun to read. Books like The War That Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley, or One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia, or My Near-Death Adventures by Alison DeCamp, or ALL of Louise Erdrich’s titles for kids. Better add Cloud and Wallfish by Anne Nesbet to that list as well. Doing what I can only characterize as the impossible, Nesbet somehow manages to bring East Germany in 1989 to full-blown, fascinating life. Maybe you wouldn’t want to live there, but it’s certainly worth a trip.

His name is Noah. Was Noah. It’s like this, one minute you’re just living your life, normal as you please, and the next your parents have informed you that your name is a lie, your birth date is wrong, and you’re moving to East Berlin. The year is 1989 and as Noah (now Jonah)’s father would say, there’s a definite smell of history in the air. His mother has moved the family to this new city as part of her research into education and stuttering (an impediment that Noah shares) for six months. But finding himself unable to attend school in a world so unlike the one he just left, the boy is lonely. That’s why he’s so grateful when the girl below his apartment, Claudia, befriends him. But there are secrets surrounding these new friends. How did Claudia’s parents recently die? Why are Noah’s parents being so mysterious? And what is going on in Germany? With an Iron Curtain shuddering on its foundations, Noah’s not just going to smell that history in the air. He’s going to live it, and he’s going to get a friend out of the bargain as well.

It was a bit of a risk on Nesbet’s part to begin the book by introducing us to Noah’s parents right off the bat as weirdly suspicious people. It may take Noah half a book to create a mental file on his mom, but those of us not related to the woman are starting our own much sooner. Say, from the minute we meet her. It was very interesting to watch his parents upend their son’s world and then win back his trust by dint of their location as well as their charm and evident love. It almost reads like a dare from one author to another. “I bet you can’t make a reader deeply distrust a character’s parents right from the start, then make you trust them again, then leave them sort of lost in a moral sea of gray, but still likable!” Challenge accepted!

Spoiler Alert on This Paragraph (feel free to skip it if you like surprises): Noah’s mom is probably the most interesting parent you’ll encounter in a children’s book in a long time. By the time the book is over you know several things. 1. She definitely loves Noah. 2. She’s also using his disability to further her undercover activities, just as he fears. 3. She incredibly frightening. The kind of person you wouldn’t want to cross. She and her husband are utterly charming but you get the distinct feeling that Noah’s preternatural ability to put the puzzle pieces of his life together is as much nature as it is nurture. Coming to the end of the book you see that Noah has sent Claudia postcards over the years from places all over the world. Never Virginia. One could read that a lot of different ways but I read it as his mother dragging him along with her from country to country. There may never be a “home” for Noah now. But she loves him, right? I foresee a lot of really interesting bookclub discussions about the ending of this book, to say nothing about how we should view his parents.

As I mentioned before, historical fiction that’s actually interesting can be difficult to create. And since 1989 is clear-cut historical fiction (this is the second time a character from the past shared my birth year in a children’s book . . . *shudder*) Nesbet utilizes several expository techniques to keep young readers (and, let’s face it, a lot of adult readers) updated on what precisely is going on. From page ten onward a series of “Secret Files” boxes will pop up within the text to give readers the low-down. These are written in a catchy, engaging style directly to the reader, suggesting that they are from the point of view of an omniscient narrator who knows the past, the future, and the innermost thoughts of the characters. So in addition to the story, which wraps you in lies and half-truths right from the start to get you interested, you have these little boxes of explanation, giving you information the characters often do not have. Some of these Secret Files are more interesting than others, but as with the Moby Dick portions in Louis Sachar’s The Cardturner, readers can choose to skip them if they so desire. They should be wary, though. A lot of pertinent information is sequestered in these little boxes. I wouldn’t cut out one of them for all the wide wide world.

Another way Nesbet keeps everything interesting is with her attention to detail. The author that knows the minutia of their fictional world is an author who can convince readers that it exists. Nesbet does this by including lots of tiny details few Americans have ever known. The pirated version of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz that was disseminated for years throughout the German Democratic Republic? I had no idea. The listing of television programs available there? Very funny (did I mention the book is funny too?). Even the food you could get in the grocery store and the smell of the coal-choked air feels authentic.

Of course, you can load your book down with cute boxes and details all day and still lose a reader if they don’t relate to the characters. Noah could easily be reduced to one of those blank slate narrators who go through a book without a clear cut personality. I’m happy to report that this isn’t the case here. And I appreciated the Claudia was never a straight victim or one of those characters that appears impervious to the pain in her life. Similarly, Noah is a stutterer but the book never throws the two-dimensional bully in his path. His challenges are all very strange and unique to his location. I was also impressed by how Nesbet dealt with Claudia’s German (she makes up words or comes up with some Noah has never heard of and so Nesbet has the unenviable job of making that clear on the page). By the same token, Noah has a severe stutter, but having read the whole book I’m pretty sure Nesbet only spells the stutter out on the page once. For every other time we’re told about it after the fact or as it is happening.

I’ve said all this without, somehow, mentioning how lovely Nesbet’s writing is. The degree to which she’s willing to go deep into her material, plucking out the elements that will resonate the most with her young readers, is masterful. Consider a section that explains what it feels like to play the role of yourself in your own life. “This is true even for people who aren’t crossing borders or dealing with police. Many people in middle school, for instance, are pretending to be who they actually are. A lot of bad acting is involved.” Descriptions are delicious as well. When Claudia comes over for dinner after hearing about the death of her parents Nesbet writes, “Underneath the bristles, Noah could tell, lurked a squishy heap of misery.”

There’s little room for nuance in Nesbet’s Berlin, that’s for sure. The East Berliners we meet are either frightened, in charge, or actively rebelling. In her Author’s Note, Nesbet writes about her time in the German Democratic Republic in early 1989, noting where a lot of the details of the book came from. She also mentions the wonderful friends she had there at that time. Noah, by the very plot in which he finds himself, would not be able to meet these wonderful people. As such, he has a black-and-white view of life in East Berlin. And it’s interesting to note that when his classmates talk up the wonders of their society, he never wonders if anything they tell him is true. Is everyone employed? At what price? There is good and bad and if there is nuance it is mostly found in the characters like Noah’s mother. Nesbet herself leaves readers with some very wise words in her Author’s Note when she says to child readers, “Truth and fiction are tangled together in everything human beings do and in every story they tell. Whenever a book claims to be telling the truth, it is wise (as Noah’s mother says at one point) to keep asking questions.” I would have liked a little more gray in the story, but I can hardly think of a better lesson to impart to children in our current day and age.

In many way, the book this reminded me of the most was Katherine Paterson’s Bridge to Terabithia. Think about it. A boy desperate for a friend meets an out-of-the-box kind of girl. They invent a fantasyland together that’s across a distinct border (in this book Claudia imagines it’s just beyond the Wall). Paterson’s book was a meditation on friendship, just like Nesbet’s. Yet there is so much more going on here. There are serious thoughts about surveillance (something kids have to think about a lot more today), fear, revolution, loyalty, and more than all this, what you have to do to keep yourself sane in a world where things are going mad. Alice Through the Looking Glass is referenced repeatedly, and not by accident. Noah has found himself in a world where the rules he grew up with have changed. As a result he must cling to what he knows to be true. Fortunately, he has a smart author to help him along the way. Anne Nesbet always calls Noah by his own name, even when her characters don’t. He is always Noah to us and to himself. That he finds himself in one of the most interesting and readable historical novels written for kids is no small thing. Nesbet outdoes herself. Kids are the beneficiaries.

On shelves now.

Source: Galley sent from publisher for review.

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1 Comments on Review of the Day: Cloud and Wallfish by Anne Nesbet, last added: 9/27/2016
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16. Presidential Polar Bear Post Card Project No. 241 - 9.26.16


After Leonardo da Vinci's Man in a Circle, Illustrating Proportions. And regarding "proportions" a few quick facts: 10% of the Earth's wilderness has disappeared since the 1990's - and only 23% of remaining land is considered wilderness. Please, President Obama, consider adding the Arctic Refuge permanently to those rolls by designating the coastal plain a national monument.

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17. प्रकृति से प्रेम करो

प्राकृतिक विरासत की सूची में शामिल हुए पेड राजधानी के प्रसिद्ध, वर्षों पुराने और ऐतिहासिक 18 पेड़ों को प्राकृतिक विरासत की सूची में शामिल किया है इससे जहां प्रकृति की रक्षा होगी वही प्रकृति से प्रेम करो का सबक भी मिलेगा  .पर्यावरण का ख्याल रखते हुए ये फैसला लिया गया है.. पर्यावरण की सुरक्षा की शानदार […]

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18. Constance Lombardo is in the House and a Giveaway!


 Today I'm celebrating a book birthday!!

Mr. Puffball: Stunt Cat Across America by Constance Lombardo


And Mr. Puffball himself stopped by to tell us that author/illustrator Constance Lombardo is here to tell us a bit about herself and her latest book.




 From the publisher:


In Mr. Puffball: Stunt Cat Across America (Harper/Collins), Mr.
Puffball, El Gato and the gang take to the road in search of some
fantastic footage for their buddy film. Hop aboard this fast-paced travel adventure – It’s van-tastic! 

Our interview: 
 
What is it with you and cats?



Funny you should ask, Barbara. When I started writing, my books were about turtles and snails, two animals I can totally relate to. But my cat Myrtle kept giving me that penetrating ‘Why don’t you write about cats?’ look. So I did. Also, cats are furry, whiskered, and they have pointy ears!



Interesting! Next question: you have a knack for getting inside a cat’s head. Have you ever been a cat psychic?



Not exactly. I get my insights into the feline mind by watching, listening and belly-rubbing. My cats are Myrtle the Elder and Gandalf the Grey, the mischievous kitten. G.G. was the inspiration for Pickles, the adorable, but irritating kitten, who is in my new book, Mr. Puffball: Stunt Cat Across America.



When did you start drawing?



My first drawing of Three Men in a Tub, done when I was only four years old, is the stuff of legends. Unfortunately, it has gone missing. (Have you seen it?) When I was about ten, my sister Rita did a drawing. Not to be outdone, I did my own drawing, and I haven’t stopped since. I used to draw people. Now cats. What’s next? Maybe I’ll draw one of those scary jumpy bugs my cats keep killing and leaving lying about. But probably not.

           

Tell me more about your latest book, please.



Sure thing! My illustrated middle grade novel, Mr. Puffball: Stunt Cat Across America, is the second in the Puffball series. Mr. Puffball and his BFF El Gato film a buddy movie demo reel at American landmarks such as the Hoover Dam, the Grand Canyon, the Coney Island Cyclone, and Paul Bunyan’s Onion Ring Ranch. Rosie is the director, and the rest of the gang is along for the ride. It’s a wild road trip adventure with lots of chase scenes, rodeo numbers, diner mishaps, and litter box stops. 


In writing and illustrating this book, what was the most challenging part?



I love to draw cats, people, donuts, and other round-ish things. Drawing cars, vans and road signs requires straight-ish lines. I did my best, and I’m very proud of my drawing of the funky road trip vehicle – a VW microbus. It has wheels and everything!


Is it true there’s a character in Mr. Puffball: Stunt Cat Across Americanamed Benedict Cumbercat?



Yes! I’m a huge Benedict Cumberbatch fan, and I love all things British. In my book, Benedict Cumbercat does some not very nice things, but in the end we understand his motivation. There’s even a visit from the Queen of England! I drew this character as a corgi, since evidently Queen Elizabeth II loves corgis. 

 What is one thing you’d like your readers to know about Mr. Puffball?



I’d like them to know that Mr. Puffball is a good-hearted, loyal, and fun cat with a big dream-to be a movie star! I think we should all dream big! My dream is to write and illustrate books that kids of all ages will love and that make them laugh. I think my dreams are coming true!! 




What’s the best part of being a published author?



The absolutely best part is getting fan mail!! (after my first book,Mr. Puffball: Stunt Cat to the Stars) It’s such a thrill to hear from kids who love Mr. Puffball! Some say they don’t usually like reading, so if I can get a kid into reading through my books – wow!! Some include drawings, which is wonderful. Either way, I just love hearing from my readers.

The second best part is going into my local bookstore or library and finding my book on the shelves. What an amazing feeling!  


What’s next?

I’m working on Mr. Puffball book three!! More adventures are on the way…

Thanks for stopping by, Constance.


To celebrate this new addition to the Mr. Puffball series, Constance is giving away a signed copy!
Just leave your email address in the comments by October 5.
 

 
Constance Lombardo enjoys drawing and writing about cats who
are famous and infamous. She lives in Asheville, NC, with her husband, daughter, Myrtle the Good Cat and Gandalf the Grey the Mischievous Kitten.

Mr. Puffball: Stunt Cat Across America (HarperCollins) is on shelves today. Visit your local independent bookstore to get your copy.

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19. Just Started Reading... Blackthorn And Grim #2!



With Juliet Marillier's visit coming so soon(start cleaning and dusting the blog residence!) I'm trying to catch up with this wonderful trilogy! I finished Dreamer's Pool last night and have just begun Tower Of Thorns. It's a little shorter, but still plenty to read.



Juliet Marillier makes good use of fairy tales in her fiction. People enjoy figuring out which ones as they read. There were elements of The Goose Girl in Dreamer's Pool, but I haven't read enough of the current book to figure out which, if any, tale is involved here. We'll see. It does have a beginning that reminds me of the Arthurian tales which begin with a damsel arriving at court to ask for help, only instead of a king, there's his son, as the king has gone off South for a meeting at the High King's court, and instead of a brave knight the damsel wants a grumpy wise woman's assistance... The grumpy wise woman being Blackthorn, who is trying to avoid being asked for help because, under the terms  of her agreement with fey nobleman Conmael, she has to give it or risk finding herself back in the dreadful lockup from which he rescued her a year ago.

The covers are beautiful, with dreamy, Pre-Raphaelite style maidens on them. I'm not sure what the connections are to the stories, but authors would kill for such gorgeous covers! People pick those up.



Time to get up, eat and start organising my tax documents... Groan...

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20. बच्चों की मानसिकता समझें अविभावक

पेरेंटस कृपया ध्यान दें. आज के समय में बच्चों की मानसिकता समझें अविभावक. अपने बच्चें की तुलना दूसरे बच्चे से करने की बजाय अपने बच्चे के गुणों को पहचाने और प्रोत्साहित करें. बच्चों की मानसिकता समझें अविभावक बच्चों की मानसिकता पर एक उदाहरण में देना चाहूंगी जो मेरे साथ हुआ .. बात  कुछ दिन पहले की […]

The post बच्चों की मानसिकता समझें अविभावक appeared first on Monica Gupta.

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21. Presidential Polar Bear Post Card Project No. 240 - 9.26.16


Excited that fall is finally here -- and that the sea ice can begin to freeze again in Arctic waters!

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22. How fertility patients can make informed decisions on treatment

Media coverage of health news can seem to consist of a steady diet of research-based stories, but making sense of what may be relevant or important and what is not can be a tall order for most patients. Headlines may shout about dramatic breakthroughs, exciting new advances, revolutions, and even cures but there may be scant details of the evidence base of the research.

The post How fertility patients can make informed decisions on treatment appeared first on OUPblog.

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23. A Greek Lunch

Spinach pie and feta cheese
And grape leaves stuffed with rice
Formed the basis for a lunch
That really was so nice.

Eggplant dip, tzatziki sauce
And salad, smartly dressed
And served with olives; who could ever
Sit there unimpressed?

Sliced up chicken, pita bread
Plus other dips and cheese
Made a meal which all could see
Was meant to sate and please.

Of course, there also was dessert
And snacky treats before,
The kind of food that fills you up
But still, you eat some more.

So thank you, Pam, my hostess friend,
For starting off my week
With a lovely luncheon, filled with dishes
Tasty, fresh and Greek!

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24. The impact of addictions and means of prevention, treatment, & recovery

September is National Recovery Month in the US. Recovery Month is a time dedicated to increasing awareness and understanding of substance use and mental disorders. It’s also a time to celebrate those who are in recovery and those who do recover. The goal of the observance month is to educate others that addiction treatment and mental health services are effective, and that people can recover. With respect for this time, we compiled some statistics on addiction disorders to support awareness of these issues and show that individuals are not alone.

The post The impact of addictions and means of prevention, treatment, & recovery appeared first on OUPblog.

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25. Book Sales

There could be many reasons why your book isn't selling as well as you expected it to.

https://warriorwriters.wordpress.com/2016/08/22/why-your-book-isnt-selling/

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