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1. Endpages

Endpages in hardback picture books help justify their higher price. 

http://picturebookden.blogspot.com/2014/08/do-hardback-childrens-picture-books.html

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2. Guest Post: Chris Barton on A New & Diversity Bookselling Strategy: BookPeople's Modern First Library

Newlyweds Chris & Jenny
By Chris Barton
for Cynthia Leitich Smith's Cynsations

Many of my ideas -- good, bad, and otherwise -- originate while I’m exercising, and Modern First Library was among these.

One evening this past winter, while my wife, fellow author Jennifer Ziegler, and I were walking our dog, I bemoaned an article I’d read about an independent bookseller’s baby gift registry.

Of the classic picture books mentioned in the article -- through no fault of the store, I’m assuming -- the newest one was published during the first Nixon administration.

We’re in a pretty terrific era for picture books. You might even call it a golden age, and I’ve been working for years to try to contribute to it myself. But how, I griped, was the general book-buying public going to know about contemporary standouts such as I Want My Hat Back by Jon Klassen (Candlewick, 2011) if major media outlets so readily reinforce shoppers’ tendencies to look to their own youth -- or even to earlier decades -- for the books they give as gifts to modern kids?

If only, I thought, there was some way to leverage the public’s interest in buying the tried and true into the purchase of classics and contemporary titles. I wasn’t interested in just shifting sales from old to new -- booksellers and kids alike would benefit a lot more if those parents and grandparents and aunts and uncles and godparents and family friends bought two picture books instead of just one.

Our walk ended, and that was as far as it went. But not for long.

A couple of weekends later, the groundshifting essays by Walter Dean Myers (“Where Are the People of Color in Children’s Books?”) and Christopher Myers (“The Apartheid of Children’s Literature”) ran in The New York Times.

A widespread urge to Do Something About This led to lots of conversations among authors, editors, librarians, and other champions of children’s literature. It led to the #WeNeedDiverseBooks campaign.

And it led me to email Meghan Goel, the children’s-book buyer at my beloved local indie BookPeople, to discuss a new spin on the notion I’d had on that recent walk.

Wait -- email Meghan in what capacity?

As an author? Yes, but also as a BookPeople customer, and as a dad, and as a member of the community. Of various communities, in fact, large and small.

What’s important is not whether I felt especially qualified to lend my voice but rather that I had an idea that I thought might be worth trying and I decided not to keep it to myself.

Sharing an idea was the least I could do.

Here’s what I emailed, under the subject line “Getting past Goodnight Moon”:

Hey there, Meghan,

Like apparently half of everyone I know, I've read the Myers' New York Times essays with tremendous interest. And those essays sparked a diversity-encouraging idea that I wanted to run past a bookseller or two before I get too enamored of a notion that may be either entirely unoriginal or totally unworkable or both.

My sense is that there a lot of gift-giving adults whose familiarity with picture books doesn't go far beyond the likes of:

Would there be an effective way to encourage these adults to buy the classic titles they have in mind and a new picture book that reflects the modern, diverse world that the recipients inhabit? And could such an effort be widespread and long-lasting enough that it could reward publishers for doing a better job of making good on their good intentions?

Am I nuts? A simpleton? Both -- and way off base, to boot?
I'd love to know what you think.

Chris

Meghan’s reply?

“I love this idea.”

Right away, she came up with the name “Modern First Library.”

Meghan suggested partnering with a small but diverse group of other authors whose voices on behalf of such a program might make it more successful. And she thanked me for reaching out to her.

We worked together to come up with a list of other authors we wanted to have involved. We tossed around ideas for great, vibrant, fun contemporary titles that we ourselves would want to have as the foundation for a child’s first collection of picture books alongside the established classics.

All the while we kept in mind the need for a program that would work specifically for BookPeople -- for its staff, its available space for in-store and online promotion, and local tastes and demographics -- while being potentially repeatable by indie booksellers in other communities.

Author-illustrator contributor Don Tate
We didn’t rush into anything, even as the conversation about diversity in children’s literature remained a passionate one within the publishing and bookselling industries.

By the time our planning was done and the program launched the first week in July, Modern First Library consisted of a simple in-store display of both standalone titles and starter sets of similarly themed books, plus an online campaign that soon began featuring insightful, inspiring blog posts by locally based and nationally established creators of books for children and young adults.

More starter sets are available online, and the program is still picking up momentum. Those pre-wrapped gift sets will be heavily featured at the store during the upcoming holiday season.

Let me tell you, it feels great to know that young readers will be receiving selections from Modern First Library as gifts this year.

I stop by the Modern First Library display, just to admire it, every time I’m in BookPeople. Seeing it makes me glad all over again that I reached out to Meghan rather than assume I had no part to play in addressing the dearth of diversity in children’s literature.

And considering that all this began with my wife and me walking the dog, it’s certainly provided positive reinforcement for us to keep on getting plenty of exercise.

In all sorts of ways, this entire experience has been a gift in itself.

Cynsational Notes

Chris Barton is the author of the picture books Shark Vs. Train (Little, Brown, 2010)(a New York Times and Publishers Weekly bestseller) and The Day-Glo Brothers (Charlesbridge, 2009)(winner, American Library Association Sibert Honor), as well as the young adult nonfiction thriller Can I See Your I.D.? True Stories of False Identities (Dial, 2011).

His 2014 publications include picture book Attack! Boss! Cheat Code! A Gamer’s Alphabet (powerHouse) and his YA fiction debut as a contributor to the collection One Death, Nine Stories (Candlewick), and 2015 will bring picture book biographies The Amazing Age of John Roy Lynch (Eerdman's) and Pioneers & Pirouettes: The Story of the First American Nutcracker (Millbrook).

Chris and his wife, children's-YA novelist Jennifer Ziegler (Revenge of the Flower Girls (Scholastic, 2014)), live in Austin, Texas, with their family.

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3. My Cousin Rachel (1951)

My Cousin Rachel. Daphne du Maurier. 1951. 374 pages. [Source: Library]

Years ago I read and enjoyed Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier. I've been meaning to read more of her books ever since. My Cousin Rachel is the second of hers that I've read. I enjoyed it. I'm not sure I enjoyed it more than Rebecca. But I think it is safe to say that if you enjoyed Rebecca you will also (most likely) enjoy My Cousin Rachel.

My Cousin Rachel is narrated by Philip Ashley. He is the heir to his cousin Ambrose's estate. Ambrose took him in and raised him essentially. These two are close as can be. Daphne du Maurier knows how to do foreshadowing. In both Rebecca and My Cousin Rachel, she uses it generously giving readers time to prepare for tough times ahead. In this case, the foreshadowing is about Ambrose's trip abroad and his surprise wedding to a young woman, coincidentally a distant cousin, named Rachel. Rachel is a widow he meets in Italy. Instead of returning home to England, these two settle down in Italy--Florence, I believe. Philip is angsty to say the least. How dare my cousin do this to me! How dare he marry someone he barely knows! Philip spends months imagining Rachel's character and personality. She has to have an agenda! She has to be manipulative and scheming. She has to be TROUBLE. Now Philip doesn't voice his concerns to everyone he meets. He is more guarded, almost aware that it's silly of him to have this strong a reaction to someone he's never met. But Ambrose's happily ever after is short-lived. And not just because he dies. Ambrose wrote mysterious letters to Philip over several months. In these letters, Philip sees that all is not well. That there is something to his prejudice against Rachel. It seems that Ambrose has regrets, big regrets, about Rachel. The moodiest of all these letters reaches Philip after Ambrose's death.

So. What will Philip think of Rachel once he actually meets her? What will she think of him? Will they be friends or enemies? Will they trust one another? Should they trust one another? Whose story is based in reality? Is Rachel's accounting of Ambrose's last months true? Or was Ambrose right to mistrust Rachel? Will Philip be wise enough and objective enough to know what is going on?

The author certainly gives readers plenty to think about. Readers get almost all their information filtered through Philip's perspective. But I suppose the dialogue in the book might provide more. If one can trust Philip's recollection of it.

I think My Cousin Rachel is a character-driven horror novel. Though I'm not sure if horror is the right description. It is certainly creepy and weird. Not all horror novels star vampires and werewolves and ghosts and zombies.

© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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4. Jane Austen Fans Break World Record

janeausten550 dressed up Jane Austen fans came together for a Guiness World Record-breaking event during the Jane Austen Festival.

Organizers claim that this group has become the largest gathering of people dressed in Regency costume. The current record stands at 491 people. The event took place outside of the Assembly Rooms in Bath, Somerset.

Here’s more from The Telegraph: “When the announcement was made, cheers were heard around the tea rooms inside the Assembly Rooms, with the town crier calling out the results…Every year, thousands of people flock to the city from all over the world for the event, coming from over Europe and even as far as America. The event was part of the 10 day festival’s programme of activities which is a big tourist attraction in the city.” What do you think?

New Career Opportunities Daily: The best jobs in media.

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5. Tomorrow be the big day, belike!

Aye, Friday: the day we’ve been waiting for all year, International Talk Like A Pirate Day! Polish your hooks and sand your peg legs! If you are anywhere near Latrobe, Pennsylvania, set a course for The Art Center (819 Ligonier Street) where I’ll talk about illustrating pirates Friday evening from 6:30 – 8:30. If you miss it, I’ll be at The Art Center again Saturday morning 10:00 – noon.

To celebrate the big day, here is an illustration from P is for Pirate—a theater full of movie pirates. They range from freebooters of Hollywood’s Silent Era to today’s swashbuckling sea dogs.

How many can you name? I’ll post the answers tomorrow, by the powers!

MoviePirates


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6. The Committee Strikes

I knew those creeps at the Committee to Protect YA would hit me sooner or later, but I didn’t think they’d hit me this hard:

Click here for bigger.

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7. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Official Art Show

Dear all,

I would love to invite you to the the first official Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle show, "Turtles In Time", with Nickelodeon and curator, Chogrin.

Show opening Oct 3, Friday @ Bottleneck Art Gallery
60 Broadway, Box 8
Brooklyn, NY 11249

More information will be posted as the date get closer.
If you are in NY area, hope you can make it!

Cheers,

Alina


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8. Kenneth Oppel & Jon Klassen Ink Deal With Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers

Oppel & KlassenPrintz Honor-winning writer Kenneth Oppel and Caldecott Medal-winning artist Jon Klassen will partner to create a middle grade novel entitled The Nest.

The story follows a boy named Steve as he and his family navigates through the difficulties of caring for Steve’s sick baby brother. This will be the first time Oppel (pictured, via) and Klassen (pictured, via) collaborate on a book project.

Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers publisher Justin Chanda negotiated the deal with Writer’s House literary agent Steve Malk. Chanda will edit the manuscript. A release date has been scheduled for Fall 2015.

New Career Opportunities Daily: The best jobs in media.

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9. J.K. Rowling Donates to Local Town Hall

J.K. Rowling has given a generous donation to a Perthshire community project, turning Aberfeldy Town Hall into a music and drama center. One of Ms. Rowling’s official representatives confirmed that our favorite author has donated a generous amount to the project, but is inclined to keep the specific amount confidential. The project is said to need approximately 1.5 million pounds in funding. The Courier reports:

 

“The refurbishment of the B-listed building will cost £1.5 million but we had a generous donation from JK Rowling. We are not allowed to say how much it is.”

A spokeswoman for JK Rowling confirmed she had made a donation to the project but declined to comment further.

Locus Breadalbane has submitted a planning application to Perth and Kinross Council which would see the space transformed into a 182-seat venue.

Documents presented to council planning department show that two existing flats in the building will be ripped out and the space used to house a lesser hall, kitchen, green room and toilet facilities.

External sheds and an older extension will be demolished, with two new building enlargements being made.

“This and local area support will be an important aspect of the funding process The next fundraising event will be a silent auction on September 20 within the town hall.”

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10. Fairest: Hidden Kingdom

Fairest Vol. 2: Hidden Kingdom Lauren Beukes, Bill Willingham, Inaki Miranda

This is a bit of a jump-back in time from where the main series is. With the “present day” happening in 2002, so the action is pretty firmly at the beginning of the series, with lots of flashback to Rapunzel’s back story.

So, like most fairy tales, Rapunzel has a dark edge that we tend not to retell. In the original, the witch discovers the prince because Rapunzel is pregnant. She casts Rapunzel into the desert where she gives birth to twins. The prince gets tangled in brambles trying to climb the tower, is blinded by the thorns and is also cast into the desert. They all wander around for like 20 years before they find each other, Rapunzel’s tears of joy cure his eyesight and only then do they all live happily-ever-after.

In the Fables world, Frau Tottenkinder is the witch that imprisoned Rapunzel. She casts her out, Rapunzel gives birth, and she’s told her children die during childbirth. She’s always known that they survived and has spent centuries searching for them. At one point, she tries to drown herself but washes up on the shores of a Japanese fable kingdom (named the Hidden Kingdom).

In the present day, she gets a message via attacking crane origami that there is news of her children. She meets up with friends and enemies from her old adopted homeland, and Tokyo’s version of Fabletown where the present is tied with the fall of the Hidden Kingdom to the adversary's forces.

I loved this one. I loved the look at Japanese mythology and fables, how they played in their homeland and how they survive in the modern Mundy world. I liked the old school “present day” with Jack running his schemes, Snow and Bigby in the business office and Frau Tottenkinder doing her thing on the 13th floor of the original building. It was a nice return to the beginning. But more than that, I loved Rapunzel’s story and her strength. We don’t see a lot of her, as she’s not allowed to leave Fabletown because of her hair and she’s been kinda shoved to the side in this series.

There’s also a tantalizing clue about the truth about her daughters, that I don’t believe we’ve seen the answer to yet. (I’m trying to rack my brain, as this happens so far in the past to see if we’ve seen them and not known it, or if they have yet to come up.)

This is my favorite volume in the Fairest spin-off series.

Book Provided by... my wallet

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11. Cybils Judges Announced!

And I'm one of them! I've been a part of this annual award for four years now, and it never gets old. I'm looking forward to reading and discussing some fabulous easy readers and beginning chapter books in the months to come. Nominations start on October 1st, so mark your calendar and get ready to submit your favorite books.

And a big round of applause for all the judges who donate a huge amount of their time to this worthy endeavor.

For more info on the Cybils and a list of the judges, click here.

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12. Mr. Tanen’s Ties by Maryann Cocca-Leffler

Mr. Tanen's TiesThe beloved principal of Lynnhurst Elementary School, Mr. Tanen, is known for his tie collection. Every morning when the children enter school they check to see what tie Mr. Tanen is wearing. He keeps a closet of ties in his office and changes his tie many times throughout the day. He might wear a tie to match his mood, or the weather, or for his official duties. His tie collection is endless!

One day during an important meeting with Mr. Apple at the School Department he is told that education is serious business and that wearing silly ties simply isn’t proper. Mr. Apple hands Mr. Tanen a blue tie and tells him he must only wear blue ties. Plain blue ties.

The students miss Mr. Tanen’s special ties, and soon it becomes clear that a plain blue ties make everyone feel “blue”. When Mr. Tanen calls in sick for a week, it’s Mr. Apple who fills in as principal. He has lots of rules and, of course, a plain tie. During recess, the students notice Mr. Apple bird watching and the next day someone gives him a tie with birds on it. At the end of the school day, Mr. Apple finds himself admiring his new tie and he decides to put it on. While at the grocery store, he gets compliments on his lovely bird tie. What a nice feeling! All the rest of the week, Mr. Apple chooses a special tie to wear from Mr. Tanen’s closet of ties. Mr. Apple finds himself smiling often.

When Mr. Tanen returns to work on Monday he finds Mr. Apple waiting with a tie box for him. Inside is another blue tie, but this one isn’t plain at all – it has #1 blue ribbon all over it. Ties most definitely make a difference at Lynnhurst Elementary School where no one is feeling “blue” anymore.

There is yet another happy ending to Mr. Tanen’s Ties, so you might just want to check this book out!

Posted by: Wendy


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13. Thinking Outside the Storytime Box - ALSC 2014


Sometimes the smallest seeds tossed out in a Twitter convo can blossom into a beautiful growing thing. This is the journey in planning a group of us found ourselves in over the past two years. It began with our question about whether it was reasonable to ask staff to create more/different programs when they already busy and stressed. We were also thinking about the rich content and ties to multiple literacies available for preschoolers and their caregivers that can happen in programs beyond storytime. The Twitter conversation moved over to a Google doc and we kept going and expanding.

While almost every library, no matter the size and location, offers a (or many) preschool storytime(s), far fewer offer content beyond that. Sometimes it's because of staffing issues, sometimes because a staffer is unaware of the possibilities, sometimes because there is very real pushback from management if something is suggested outside of the silo of comfort or expectation ("We've always just done storytimes; why rock the boat?").

We questioned whether encouraging staff to go outside those silos represented a bridge too far. We also noodled around with the fact that staff may be reluctant to try newer programming avenues because many thought the prep work/planning should mirror the intentionality of a storytime prep.

Over preparation for non-storytime programs is a huge problem at many libraries. We sketched out more thoughts on unprogramming. We explored ideas and solutions.... and then we started doing! The first Conversation Starter presentation at ALA 2013 on Unprogramming and subsequent presentations, webinars and blog posts evolved from this kismet meet-up.

And now we are presenting at the ALSC Institute in Oakland on doing easy, fun, multiple literacies, experiential programming for preschoolers. Our intrepid group of chatters: Amy Commers, Mel Depper, Amy Koester and I are exploring the rich content of programs that we have tried as well as hooking up attendees to other colleagues who have pushed the envelope with Parachute Playtimes, Toddler Dance Parties, Stuffed Animal Sleepovers, Toddler Drive-ins and much MUCH more.

We are including research links to help youth librarians make the case for the importance of these programs with management (or yourselves!). We've also created a Pinterest board with examples of many programs from many people to keep those creative juices flowing.

Whether you could be at the Institute or not, with these resources you can explore, experiment, build on your already successful outside-the-storytime-box ideas, and, you know, be mighty!


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14. What I Did on my Summer Vacation Part One



 Attended the SCBWI Annual Summer conference in Los Angeles for inspiration and to meet up with friends and colleagues .



 Ate oysters on the half shell, excellent sushi, kale, brussel sprouts, ate salad (dark green gorgeous organic salads) and haas avocados...things I have been unable to find in Mauritius.




Did some serious California connecting with  friends and attended as many hot yoga classes as possible. 

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15. A shout out to Rachael Walker, champion of literacy initiatives everywhere!

A shout out to Rachael Walker—a hero to literacy programs and general awesomeness. Rachael helped found Read Across America (and continues to consult with the program), she gave me key advice when School Lunch Hero Day was starting up and she works with publishers on creating educational materials for their books. If you're not using her Reading Rockets videos in your libraries and classrooms, you're really missing out. Rachael isn't one to want attention, but I am happy to give her plaudits, because she so deserves them. If you're ever looking for someone to consult on a reading initiative, create downloadable activities for an author website or a generous person in your life, look no further! 

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16. My Pre-Teen Boy is Now Eager to Do Chores

Step 1: Seriously restrict your pre-teen boy’s computer time for two weeks on Minecraft. Give him an allotted time, to be on the computer and don’t waiver. Step 2: After two weeks, ask him if he’d like to earn a half-hour more (if all his work is done). Step 3: When he exuberantly says YES – look around the house for things for him to do, and tell him to come back to you when he’s finished. Step 4: Walk around the house and review his handiwork. Applaud his effort if everything is completed and done well. Step 4: Give him the extra time he’s earned. (Set a timer!)

#eagertodochores

IMG_5828.JPG


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17. Poet to Poet: Carole Boston Weatherford and Jacqueline Woodson

Congratulations to Jacqueline Woodson who just made the “2014 Longlist for the National Book Award for Young People’s Literature” (again!) with her new book, Brown Girl Dreaming. Jacqueline was also kind enough to participate in my ongoing “Poet to Poet” interview series, too. 

Jacqueline Woodson is the award winning author of many amazing novels for young adults (Miracle’s Boys, Hush, If You Come Softly) and for the middle grades (Last Summer with Maizon, Feathers) and picture books for children (The Other Side, Each Kindness, Coming on Home Soon, Show Way) and so many more including previous works that interweave poetry like Locomotion. 

Carole Boston Weatherford
The lovely Carole Boston Weatherford is my poet interviewer. She is the author of many, many books of poetry and other genres including: The Sound that Jazz Makes, Sidewalk Chalk; Poems of the City, Remember the Bridge: Poems of a People, Dear Mr. Rosenwald, Birmingham, 1963, Becoming Billie Holiday, and many more. She is also the recipient of many awards including the Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award and Lion and the Unicorn Award Honor for Excellence in North American Poetry for Birmingham, 1963. 

Here she asks Jacqueline three great questions about Brown Girl Dreaming. 

Carole: Why did you choose poetry for your memoir?

Jacqueline: This is how memory comes to me -- In small moments with all of this white space around them.  I didn't think this memoir could be told any other way.  It felt like it would be untrue to the story to try to write a straight narrative out of lyrical memory.  Also, I felt this way best expressed what I was trying to say -- that words have always been coming to me, that I've always been trying to hold on to them, set them free, floating onto the pages.  This form shows them floating, shows the words moving slowly across, down, over the page.

Carole: You allude to Langston Hughes in BGD. What other poets influenced you?

Jacqueline: There've been so many since my first encounter with Langston Hughes -- Gwendolyn Brooks, Maya Angelou, Nikki Giovanni was HUGE for me, Countee Cullen's INCIDENT, was a poem that haunted me and made me think about living as an African American in the United States.  So many poets influenced me both politically and artistically. 

Carole: How did the oral tradition contribute to your development as a writer?

Jacqueline Woodson
Jacqueline: I think the fact that my family was always telling stories really helped me believe I could tell stories even if I couldn't read or write.  Also, the history they held onto that wasn't written down, that was past down from generation to generation really gave me a strong sense of myself in the world and of the people who came before me.  I love the fact that even though as enslaved people we weren't allowed to learn to read and write, that didn't stop us from telling our stories.  That's amazing to me.  And that really gave me a lot of faith in my own ability to tell stories.

Carole concludes: Although our upbringings were different there are some coincidences: a Caroline and a gardening printers in the family, storytelling kin, rural roots, handmade first books about nature (butterflies and trees), begging to wear afros, and birthdays a day apart (mine is Feb. 13). Because my father was a printer, I kind of consider publishing the family business. Do you think your grandfather’s career in printing in any way emboldened or destined you to seek publication?

And Jacqueline responds:
Huh -- I hadn't thought of that -- But yes, the fact that there were always words in some form in our lives, words became a part of me.

Thank you both for sharing so openly in my mutual admiration society! 

<!--[if gte mso 9]> Normal 0 false false false EN-US JA X-NONE <![endif]-->
Image credits: ONCenter.org;JacquelineWoodson.com;cbweatherford.com;NCLiteraryTrails.org

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18. Plagiarism is Purloining. Or is It?

Originally posted on Tonia Allen Gould:

It’s good to have smart people in your corner.  Mentors can help you take your writing far, and I’m quick to lean on people for advice or to get help when I am stuck.  Like most writers, I get fixated on “what” I’m writing so often, I try to remember to consult with people from time-to-time about “how” I’m writing.  I’ve been having some ongoing dialogue with my former high school English and Journalism teacher, Vickie Benner, who read the first three Chapters of my new novel, When it Comes in Threes.  For some time, she and I have been discussing whether or not I should change the voice in my first draft of the book from an adult to a child’s narrative as suggested by someone I highly respect in the literary community.  When I finally decided to give the new voice a whirl, I discovered I was having much more fun writing the piece from a…

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19. A great morning at the Library of Congress!



Bravo to the staff of the Young Readers Center at the Library of Congress! They bring DC-area students to that magnificent space & connect them with authors!

I had such a wonderful time. And with all events at the LOC, it was recorded and  will eventually be on their YouTube page. I'll give a shout when that happens!


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20. 5 Informational Picture Books and 5 Good Reasons to Read Them

Disclosure: This post contains Amazon Affiliate Links.

I love narrative books. There's something about them that's so appealing because they often provide a nice escape from reality or an exciting adventure. I have no doubt that my children who are 4 1/2 and 20 months feel the same. So often we go to the library and come home with a stack of imaginative picture books. You'll see this blog is full of these types of stories. More often than not, the non-fiction and informational picture books can get left behind at the library!


There are really REALLY great reasons, though, to embrace (and yes, check out) books that are packed with information for children.

Here are 5 benefits of reading non-fiction and informational picture books with your young child.

  • Children may gain interest in a new subject area, which drives them to learn (and read) about the topic even more.
  • Opportunities for learning new vocabulary are plentiful (which is a great thing, since vocabulary knowledge has been linked to success in Kindergarten).
  • Non-fiction and informational picture books can ignite curiosity in children and lead them to ask "why" questions.
  • These books can provide a basis for hands-on learning activities (which is one of the best ways to learn about a topic).
  • Often these books initiate more conversation than narrative stories, building language and comprehension skills.
Convinced you should check out some non-fiction and informational picture books on your next trip to the library? Take a look at these fall-inspired informational children's books!

Nuts to You by Lois Ehlert


Learn the names of plants and animals, and of course - some fun facts about squirrels. The blog Ready-Set-Read has several neat ways to extend the learning with this book in this post.


Pumpkin Pumpkin by Jeanne Titherington







Learn all about growth, gardening, and the life cycle from seed to pumpkin. Check out this sequencing activity to accompany this book. 



Red Leaf, Yellow Leaf by Lois Ehlert




This book is packed full of information about trees, birds, and gardening. Learn new science related vocabulary, and even practice several math concepts with these activities inspired by Red Leaf, Yellow Leaf.


             The Apple Pie Tree by Zoe Hall






Learn about the life cycle of an apple tree, then 
try one of these cute apple crafts!



The Pumpkin Book by Gail Gibbons







Learn about the life cycle of a pumpkin, as well as pumpkin and Halloween traditions. Check out this post for some fun pumpkin games.






Do you have any books to add to the list?

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21. Avengers Versus X-Men, Zenith Phase III and absolutely NOT a shameless plug for anything I've done.

Heroes on the run as super heroes become possessed by a dark force/entity.  The world changing about them as the heroes mount a last ditch resistance.  Using a pan-dimensional device to get from one point to the other. Eventually defeating the god-like opposition.

Yeah, yeah, yeah.  Avengers Vs X-Men...2012.


What does Wikipedia say?

"Avengers vs. X-Men (abbreviated AvX) is a 2012 crossover event that was featured in comic books published by Marvel Comics. The event, consisting of an eponymous limited series and numerous tie-in books, involves the return of the Phoenix Force and the subsequent war between the Avengers and the X-Men. The 12-issue twice-monthly series was first published in April 2012, and features a storyline by Jason Aaron, Brian Michael Bendis, Ed Brubaker, Jonathan Hickman and Matt Fraction, with a rotating team of artists including John Romita, Jr., Olivier Coipel and Adam Kubert."

Now, let me explain what happened.  I was walking through a book store in Bristols Union Street when I saw some, presumably, sale item trades.  One was Avengers Vs X-Men and had a price of £5.99.  The book has 372 pages and  collects Avengers Versus X-Men #0 and 1-12.  On Ebay some crooks are asking for £45-70 which is $73-122.00 or 57-97 E:-   Am I going to say "no"?

A clue to the answer is: (1) I've ready everything I have so many times its monotonous. (2) I bought the book.

So I sat down at 21:00 hrs and read the book in one long session --finishing about 01:00 hrs since I look at the art and don't just read through!  All the way through the book I kept thinking "I'm sure I've seen this all before?"  

Now, I have mentioned before that Avengers versus X-Men is not a new idea -1960s, 1970s, 1980s.  But this time round it was 'different' but let's not get into that.  Somewhere on this blog, if you can find it, you can read it.   But let's deal with the 'epic' itself.

Were this another comic company using its own characters then it might have all worked. In fact, part through I just switched off 'Marvel' and continued.  Then no real problem.  But, seriously, far from being a "landmark pop-culture event" it was more akin to a "landmark slap-it-all-together-and-see-how-it-turns-out" event.

Firstly, we have Prince Namor The Sub-Mariner.  I have a run of the 1960s series and just one story from that run wipes this AvX crap into the pan.  Namor is treated as one of the "big guns" of the X-Men since he was "Marvels First Mutant"  (no, I am NOT going there).  Well, in fact he is treated a little like Aquaman is said to have been treated -as a joke. 

The Thing and Luke Cage are smashing the crap out of Namor's face (UNDERWATER TO BOOT!!! W T F????) and what does the Scion of Atlantis do? He limply starts saying "Imperius Rex".  I am NOT kidding.  Cue another fight and Namor again getting the crap beaten out of him.  His response? "Imperius Rex" but it gets worse.  At another point he is transported by a pan-dimensional/Einstein-Rosenberg Bridge/Boom Tube type device to another location and as he looks up he says...."Imperius Rex". 

 I say there and, almost stunned.  This is the best that such 'Great' writers could come up with? Let me give you an equation here:

Luke Cage invulnerability/strength v Sub-Mariner. Invulnerable, flies, super-super strength =Luke Cage delivered home in a doggy bag.  Fact.

Ben Grimm aka The Thing -tough but has never beaten the Hulk.  Namor has pummeled the Hulk and even fought him to a stand-still underwater and on solid ground.  The Thing -again- has never beaten the Hulk. So...Thing v Sub-Mariner =Thing sent home in a doggy bag.  Underwater Cage + Thing =Sub-Mariner delivered back to Fishy Al's in Atlantis is a dogfish bag.

No FECKIN way!!

Namor is treated like some inferior third rate hanger-on. Even with the "phoenix force" he is.....crap.

Very very very poor characterisation.  However, as Bendis et al have shown they have no real interest in the characters what can you expect.  It's all ego massaging and pay cheques to them.

Dr Strange Master of the Mystic Arts is tricked in the most dumb-ass way by young Illyana and gets creamed.  This is, I assume, NOT the Dr Strange who defeated Nightmare, Mephisto and any other number of demons and supernatural threats? NOT the Dr Strange who was involved in the Sise-Neg Genesis? Or any of the major stories you'll find in his Marvel Premiere, Strange Tales or Dr Strange comics? Again, the Sorceror Supreme is a third rate character.

If you are going to throw in so many characters get a writer who CAN handle them --Kurt Busiek for one. Oh, I was forgetting that he has integrity.

The story-telling was very shaky and odd. I actually read this twice which is why it took me so long. Pacing seemed to be all over the place at times. I'll not mention characterisation again. Nova -another cast off character.  

In one scene, Wanda The Scarlet Witch is invited back to Avengers Mansion.  Here her 'ex'(?) husband, the synthezoid Vision, tears into her telling her it is no longer her home and she is no longer welcome.  Now, she was invited back there BY Avengers and Tony Stark (I assume he still owns Avengers Mansion?) stands by as one of his oldest friends is told to "go feck off" but just says to, after: "I get it. I just always liked them together"....well, feck you, Tony.

Oh, and the kicker to this is that (I'm sobbing now -see that tear running down my cheek?) the Vision has his back turned to the others and is 'crying' -how poignant.  No, not really. Just a bad...er..."hommage" to the famous "Even An android can cry" panel from Avengers v.1, no.58

When I saw that page (Avengers 58) first it really had an impact on me.  Even decades later I consider that to be one of the most iconic images from the comic.  In A v X it had no impact what-so-ever.  I'd call it "naff".



The art.  Well, there was not a great deal wrong there. Oddly, John Romita Jnr art shone through. Figures, colour -all seemed to work well.  Frank Cho -well, he's Frank Cho!  But this book showed the major problem if you have more than one artist.  Yes, pick a good artist for pencils (if they use pencils any more) and a good inker. Give them the script and get to work. Yes, I know, two books BUT it's not a race to see how many crises a year you can produce....is it?

I had to keep checking while reading as Illyana looked different depending on who drew her, Emma Frost -ditto. And what the Hell was this costume -lack-of-design that was going on? Okay, Emma Frost (the character with the odd, changing personality) doesn't wear that much BUT it looked like they were trying to outdo Cher's outfit from the "Turn Back Time" video!

The focus of the story, the character Hope, attacks the Serpent Society during a robbery and this line is part of the dialogue:

"You mean your friend with the tail and big spiky arms? Did you guys know those arms are cybernetic?  I didn't.  Until i cut them off."

And then I got it:



Above: page 61 (in sequence) of Zenith Phase III: War In Heaven, 1988

Coincidence?  

Hmm. The Lloigor defeat and take over the bodies of heroes.  Heroes from other parallels are fighting these creatures as the world changes around them.  They use an Einstein-Rosen Bridge to travel from one point to another.

Hey, Wikipedia -whaddaya say?

Zenith Phase III involved a multi-dimensional war against the Lloigor utilizing comic-book characters from other British comics from the '50s, '60s and '70s (using either the actual characters or analogs, depending on their legal status). The Lloigor, close to "ascending" and dominating the universe(s), were waiting for the infinite alternate universes to align and form a universe-sized crystal –- the "Omnihedron". The multi-universal heroes destroed several alternate Earths to introduce a flaw into the Omnihedron and prevent the alignment, but discovered that they had been betrayed by Maximan: the destruction of the worlds removed a flaw already present in the Omnihedron. Only at the last moment did they succeed by destroying the alternate Earth that the Lloigor were using to ascend. Due to the vast cross-dimensional body count incurred in this series, a surviving superhero commented that it may have been "...a pyrrhic victory".

Hmm. A bit like the end to the whole Avengers Versus X-Men thing, you mean?

Now, Zenith ran in 2000 ADand it was criticised by some as consisting of "scratchy" artwork.  Sheer and utter crap.  Steve Yeowell produced a comic strip and art that is truly "of the time" -Punk, New Wave, Acid House --it's all there.  Phase III, from which the art here is taken was probably the best of the stories.  Series writer, Grant Morrison described it, modestly, as "I think it is one of the greatest superhero crossover events ever."

Hmm. It is good. I'd say Crisis On Infinite Earth at #1 with Zenith at #2 but that's comparing it to American comics.  By itself I think Zenith Phase III can't really be beaten.  Yes, I know, there are certain people now calling me all sorts of names!  I am not a big Grant Morrison fan.  I like some of his books just as I like some of Alan Moore's...but, no, I just ain't getting into that arguement.


You know, there are so many comparisons that I keep thinking "What are the chances?"  Well, I have said it before, written it ad nauseum so let's add a bit more nauseum to the ad shall we?



There are in most genres, 6-7 story plots.  Or basic ideas.  The difference comes in how you develop and use those genre plots. Yeas, folk can say Zenith was "like" Crisis On Infinite Earths but it was also quite different.

The gathering of heroes to go on a quest or fight a powerful foe is millenia old -Jason and the Argonauts is possibly the most famous but you also have Homer's The Illiad, set in the last weeks of the Trojan War -sigh.  The movie "Troy" in case you don't read the Classics.  So that is part of story-telling -whether the ancient or Medieval (such as Arthur and the Round Table) or even the modern super hero.  The main hero in a group  is also a common theme -Robin Hood, Hector and so on.

Now, unless I want to get out all my old 2000 ADs and read the Zenith strips the difference is that Crisis was collected into a trade paperback so you can read it in one book.  Avengers Versus X-Men was collected into a trade (unbelievably there is a 140pp version with "expanded fight scenes"???).  Zenith, however, has only appeared in no longer available Titan Books (someone is 'willing to sell' one of these for £400!!). And Rebellion Studios released a very -VERY- over-priced collection, and I know there are plans for single volumes but....

Off topic.  Back to topic.





 Having read the entire Avengers Versus X-Men trade I can say that it is NOT that well written considering the writers are over-hyped as "Today's modern masters of comic book story-telling".  If that's true "We're fecked, mate!"  Characterisation is not good.  As I've already noted, if this were an Indie comic company book I'd be more impressed but it isn't.  This is from what used to be Marvel Comics.  And they still use the "House of Ideas" blurb?!

It's what happens if you have five hyped egoes who then get their stories turned into a script by one of their number -Bendis in this case.  And here is what I like as the punchline for a story that comes out as passable.

Two Assistant Editors
One Associate Editor
One Editor  (come on, Tom Brevoort -who I used to respect- couldn't edit his lunch!)
One Consulting Editor
One Editor In Chief
One Chief Creative Officer snicker
One Executive Producer

That's five -FIVE- editors!  "Chief Creative Officer" -if ever a job title said "Yes- man -free lunches"  it's that one.  "Executive Producer".....WTF???  Did he have the "casting couch" for the characters cus that might explain WHY Namor was treated like crap. He ain't biting the pillow for anyone.  He likes his women!  Executive Producer: "You don't put out you don't get, Namor"  Namor:"Im...per...ius....Rex"

I may be a bit cruel.  If you don't have any interest in the decades long history of the characters and a good read that won't challenge you then this is it.  I'm sure many did enjoy this book.  Really, people, do yourself a favour and go buy Avengers Forever by Kurt Busiek (a GOOD writer) and Carlos Pachecco -a great artist!  You'll see epic story-telling.

There's that other book.... a 330 pages thick epic somewhere -gods, sci fi, robots, super heroes, magic, alien invasion, Lovecraftian dark old ones...no. Can't remember what it's called again.

Ah -THAT'S THE JOHNNY!


Editor Terry Hooper-Scharf
Writer  Terry Hooper-Scharf
Penciller Terry Hooper-Scharf
Inker Terry Hooper-Scharf
Lettewring  Terry Hooper-Scharf   :-)
Design  Terry Hooper-Scharf
Publisher Terry Hooper-Scharf
Medication  Terry Hooper-Scharf
A4
Black & White
Paperback
331 Pages
STAND ALONE BOOK -no tie-ins to buy!!
Price: £15.00
It begins slowly with Earth’s heroes going about their daily tasks –fighting a giant robot controlled by a mad scientist’s brain , attackers both human and mystical -even alien high priests of some mysterious cult and their zombie followers and, of course, a ghost and a young genius lost in time.
 Pretty mundane. 
But there is a huge alien Mother-ship near the Moon and strange orange spheres chase some of Earth’s heroes who vanish into thin air –are they dead? 
Then black, impenetrable domes cover cities world-wide. 
Alien invasion of Earth! 
A war between the Dark Old Gods and the pantheons that followed! 
Warriors from Earth’s past having to battle each day and whether they die or not they are back the next day! 
And no one suspects the driving force behind the events that could cause destruction and chaos throughout the multi-verse —assaulted on all fronts can Earth’s defenders succeed or will they fail...is this truly the end?



And, crypticaly, might I add -Andrew Hope should remember this: The Wonderland Effect

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22. Free Samples of NBA’s Longlist for Fiction

The National Book Foundation has revealed its Longlist for the 2014 National Book Award for Nonfiction for the National Book Award (NBA).

Below, we’ve collected free samples of all the books on the longlist for your reading pleasure. The finalists will be announced on October 15. Here’s more from the release:

The Fiction Longlist includes one book by a National Book Award Winner, two by former National Book Award Finalists, one by a National Book Foundation 5 Under 35 author, two by Pulitzer Prize Winners, and one by an author best-known as the lyricist and musician for the band The Mountain Goats. The backdrop of war and imagined dystopia is a focus of five of the ten. Three are collections of short stories, two of which are by first-time authors. (more…)

New Career Opportunities Daily: The best jobs in media.

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23. Praise for Accidents of Marriage


accidents-of-marriage-9781451673043_lg
You already know that Atria Books is a big fan of Accidents of Marriage, the latest book from bestselling author Randy Susan Meyers, and they are not the only ones!

Just take a look:

A People Magazine Book Pick!

Library Journal says “In successive, sensitively written chapters, Ben, Maddy, and Emmy pour out their heartache and despair, eliciting compassion and high hopes from caring readers.”  Read the full review.

The Star Tribune calls Accidents of Marriage “compelling,” praising Randy for her “deft exploration of the borders of abuse and the aftermath of tragedy, the triumphs and disappointments of recovery, and the possibilities of faith and forgiveness.”  Read the full review.

The Boston Globe raves “A complex, captivating tale… In Accidents of Marriage, Randy Susan Meyers explores a marriage undermined by one partner’s rage and the other’s complicity.  The subject, emotional abuse, is usually addressed as a component of domestic violence, but Meyers’s novel explores how destructive emotional abuse by itself can be… Meyers deftly deploys a large cast of major and minor characters in telling this complex story.  Her painstaking description of both emotional abuse and brain injury are impressive.  Accidents of Marriage… rewards readers in deeply satisfying ways.”  Read the full review.

In a starred review, Kirkus called it “beautifully written, poignant and thought-provoking.” Read the full review.

************
Have you read it?  What did you think?  Share your reviews of Accidents of Marriage with Atria Books at:

AtriaNewsRoom@simonandschuster.com
************

RANDY SUSAN MEYERS

Randy Susan Meyers is the author of The Murderer’s Daughters, a finalist for the Massachusetts Book Award, named a “Must Read Book” and one of the “2011 Ten Best Works of Fiction” by the Massachusetts Center for the Book.

Her writing is informed by her work with abusers and victims of domestic violence, as well as her experience with youth impacted by street violence.  She lives with her husband in Boston, where she teachers for the Grub Street Writer’s Center.

10350_401395145


Accidents of Marriage by Randy Susan Meyers is available now

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24. Unbreakable Bonds: The Mighty Moms and Wounded Warriors of Walter Reed/Dava Guerin and Kevin Ferris

Just the other day, in a coffee shop not far from home, I was talking with one of those wise women who know nearly everything and everyone in our dear city. When we got around to Kevin Ferris, assistant editor with the Editorial Board of the Philadelphia Inquirer, the conversation stopped. "Really kind," we both said, at nearly the same time. "And really smart."

Ferris's compassion and integrity are on keen display in his first book, co-authored with Dava Guerin and soon to be released by Skyhorse Publishing. Called Unbreakable Bonds: The Mighty Moms and Wounded Warriors of Walter Reed (with forewords by President George H.W. Bush and Connie Morella), the book brings to life ten mothers who received the terrifying news of a child's war-related injuries. Limbs have been lost, lives rearranged, families restructured. Suddenly home is a room in a hospital called Walter Reed. Suddenly community is the other mothers who must be stronger than the grief that rushes in. Suddenly dinner is the candy bar left by someone who cares, and hope is the pair of eyes that finally open.

"Mothers' bonds with their children are undeniable," the authors remind us, continuing:
They feel their pain, relish their accomplishments, and look forward to them having young ones of their own. They are the first line of defense against bullies, recalcitrant teachers, colds and sore throats, and a myriad of real and perceived enemies during childhood. They share their lives with other moms on the soccer field, at PTA meetings, and during lunch breaks at work. But as they arrive at Walter Reed to support sons and daughters who have lost limbs, or suffered traumatic brain injuries, or burns and internal wounds, these moms join an exclusive club, a members-only organization that exists simply to assuage the horrors of war.
The nurses, the physicians—they are doing what they can. But being there, seeing the recovery through, helping a reconfigured child love and feel loved again—that is mother's work, and like so much of what mothers do, it is uncompensated and invisible and wholly essential.

These ten stories are specific and true. They are also representational, reminding readers of those who have gone to fight on our behalf—and of the endless costs of battles, minefields, inhumane technologies.

And so, congratulations to Kevin and Dava on the release of their new book. And thank you, Wounded Warriors and the moms who are there for you.


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25. Mexican Studio Anima Will Make CGI ‘Top Cat’ Feature

Mexican animation producer Anima Estudios has announced production on "Top Cat Begins," a sequel to its 2011 hit "Top Cat: The Movie."

0 Comments on Mexican Studio Anima Will Make CGI ‘Top Cat’ Feature as of 9/18/2014 10:40:00 AM
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