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Becoming Babe Ruth
By Matt Tavares
I guess the reason I enjoyed reading this book about the life of the iconic baseball figure, Babe Ruth, was mainly because of its title. It says a great deal to children in a simple phrase and its use of the word “becoming” is very telling in itself. In addition I think the art work is very warm and emotional in that it has a real “feel” for portraying the beginnings of the life of the Babe, the big moments AND the giving back for which he was known.
No one becomes who they are “alone” – not even world class baseball idols like Babe Ruth. Even his name, “Babe” was given him by teammates, who after his hire by Jack Dunn of the Baltimore Orioles, said, “He’s one of Jack Dunn’s new babes” – shorthand for a newbie.
Babe’s early life seemed destined for trouble. Stealing, skipping school and roaming the streets filled his days until his parents, at seven years of age, take him to the St. Mary’s Industrial School for Boys on June 13, 1902. He begs for another chance, but unbeknownst to George Herman Ruth, THIS is his chance!
School seems an endless routine of church, class, work and rule following. Rule following and classes are his least favorite things. And he is homesick.
One pursuit at the school sparks his interest – baseball. A Brother Matthias can hit the heck out of the ball, over the school yard fence, not once, but again and again.
George is mesmerized. He has found his passion and his mentor. He will play in 200 games a year at the school, even in winter.
Brother Matthias teaches him how to throw a curveball, how to turn a double play, how to get a runner off at first. He learns EVERY position on the field including catcher and shortstop.
At 16, George is the biggest boy on the team – and the best. Soon he has caught the eye of Jack Dunn, owner of the minor league, Baltimore Orioles and after watching him for a 30 minute pitching demo, Jack offers the 16 year old a contract.
Two weeks later, suitcase in hand, he leaves St. Mary’s for the outside world. Newspapers start calling him “Babe Ruth” after the nickname given him by his teammates.
From the Baltimore Orioles to the Boston Red Sox where he becomes the best pitcher in baseball, his team wins the World Series in 1915, 1916 and 1918. Then, it’s to the New York Yankees and signed for an unheard of $125,000 paid for his contract, the largest sum EVER paid at that time for a baseball player.
Babe is a celebrity living the high life. But he never forgets his early start at St. Mary’s. He breaks the single-season home-run record halfway through his first season with the Yankees. Babe is dubbed “The Batterer”, “The Colossus” and “The Sultan of Swat.”
Here comes the part of the book I love and I hope kid and parents will too. St. Mary’s is demolished by a raging fire. It has all but been destroyed, but Babe has an idea. Writing a letter to Brother Matthias, Babe invites the 50 piece school band to join him “on the road” and come along with the New York Yankees on a road trip. Could you see kids reading this and imaging the thrill of such an opportunity today?
The 50 boys go to all the games and before each game, play a concert in the stands. They are called “Babe Ruth’s Boy Band” and the huge crowds attending the game are eager to contribute to the rebuilding of St. Mary’s – and they do!
And he returns to the Big Yard at the rebuilt school where he saw Brother Matthias smack the ball over the big trees again and again. But this time, The Babe does the same thing for the boys.
Matt Tavares has written a historically accurate picture of a baseball icon and honed in on one small event in a historic baseball career. BUT, he has managed to achieve more than that in “Becoming Babe Ruth.” In his “Author’s Note”, Matt states that even the seemingly superhuman Babe Ruth needed help along his journey to greatness. He needed role models that cared, along with a ton of support and guidance.
And even after his fairy tale rise to stardom, he never forgot the shoulders that he had stood on to achieve his goals – or even forming the idea of a goal to be reached.
Much has been written in eastern papers of late of the Yankee captain, Derek Jeter. His career that has recently come to a close has served as a role model of dogged determination for excellence, along with a scandal free personal life, topped off by a final game that was magical in which all the stars seemed to align.
Yet, the character and performance of Babe Ruth still stands out in its greatness, despite the weaknesses that showed themselves in his later adult life. His athletic achievement stood out, but what is remarkable is his eagerness never to forget what formed him. He wanted to provide hope for kids in orphanages, reform schools and hospitals, telling young ones that they too could achieve something in life – that good things are possible even with a rocky start.
“Becoming Babe Ruth” is a great picture book in this “play off” season to remind kids what is possible in baseball – and life, even when you’re down in the 9th inning AND bases are loaded.
In July, I wrote a post about how I keep organized, both in reading/reviewing and then all that other stuff I do during the day.
After a conversation on twitter this week, I realized I left off something important: The Reading Binder. It's a source of awe and good-natured ribbing in some circles, and it's the only way I can handle award and booklist committee work. (I wasn't on committee in July, so I forgot about it.)
What you need:
1. A 3-ring binder
2. Tabbed separators
3. Loose leaf paper
4. 3-hole punch
The first section is for administrative stuff. I print out committee policies and procedures, schedules, rosters, and contracts/agreements I had to sign, etc. This is so I can always go back and look, and be reminded of what we're doing. When I chaired Outstanding Books for the College Bound, I also had another section of chair stuff, which was more of the same, but chair-specific. Also, because Outstanding Books was such an overwhelming charge, I had another section with articles about the history of the list, and another one with previous lists.
The next section is for the actual books. The first page is my at-a-glance sheet, which I'll explain more about later. In the book section, each nominated book gets its own page (or more.) For YALSA committees, there's an actual nomination form that gets sent out for each book, with citation info, annotation, and why it was nominated. I would copy this form into Word and add a picture of the book cover and print it out. For my reading notes, I make them on the back of this sheet, or tape them on, or make them on a sheet of loose leaf that I then put in the binder with the nomination form. For committees that don't have a nice nomination form (like Cybils), each book gets a sheet of looseleaf with my notes. The form my notes tend to take are things I jot down while reading and then after I finish, a paragraph or more of my thoughts about a book, including strengths and weaknesses as a contender for whatever I'm evaluating it for.
There are some various levels of organization within this section. When I was on Nonfiction, there were 2 sections--one for books I hadn't read yet with just the nomination forms, and one for the books I had read. On Outstanding Books, I had to keep an eye on all sections, and had a different section for each sublist (this was helpful when I had to run meetings, too.) Within the "have read" section, I find it's most useful to put the notes and forms in the order they'll be discussed at meetings. (Usually in the order they were nominated.)
The organization in this area will vary depending on the committee. It will also vary during committee time. Nonfiction had a short list, which was announced in December, but the actual winner wasn't decided until midwinter, when it was announced. After we made the short list, I pulled those nominations to the front, away from the ones that we were no longer considering. On Outstanding Books, we narrowed the list down a bit before midwinter, so I pulled out the books that were no longer under consideration.
Now the first page of this section is the at-a-glance page. The at-a-glance is a spreadsheet print-out. There's a column for the name of the book, a box where I can check if I've read it, and a box for brief notes (maybe a sentence or two). This is also color-coded (time to break out your highlighters.) I use a basic green/yellow/red coding system (it's a traffic light) green are for the books I love and I'll cry if they don't make it to the finals. Red is the books I loathe and I'll cry if they do make it to the finals. Yellow is for everything else. YES, there is also a spring green and orange level. The at-a-glance is for when I need a quick snapshot of where my thinking is on the list as a whole. This is something that needs to be redone (and reprinted out) on a regular basis--at least once a month--as more titles are added and my thinking about the books shifts.
This is different from my status page, which is usually in my date book. This is a list of all the books I haven't read yet, and whether or not they're checked out/on hold/at a different library/need to buy/have an ARC/review copy is coming/etc. (Also, due dates and how many renewals I have left). I then just cross the book off the list when it's read and hand-write in more titles as they're nominated. This is something I have to redo weekly.
Also, let's talk meeting notes. Grab your looseleaf! When you have a face-to-face meeting or a group call or chat and take notes... notes on general committee stuff get files int he admin front section. Notes on titles are appended on the end of my notes on a title. (as are re-read notes.) For committees where things are just discussed on email (and committees that use email in addition to face-to-face), I usually just save the email in a separate folder, but I will jot down some things that other people mentioned if I'm thinking about them and am working on a response.
Now, obviously, the make-up of the binder and how things work changes a bit with each committee, as they require different things, but this is the overall idea of how I work.
Is there a Cybils binder? I'm in the process. I'm on second-round, so I have just over a month to look at 5 books, so I don't really need a binder. But, I'm reading a lot of the nominations now, partly as a personal armchair, but also just to be ready to go when January 1st rolls around. I'm putting together a binder so I can remember my thoughts and feelings on any titles that make it to the second round.
What's your system for tracking committee or other assigned reading? Do you have any questions about my crazy binders full of books?
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I just learned about vision boards. I'm assuming I'm far behind on this trend, but I'm excited about it nonetheless
A vision board is just that, a board with pictures, phrases and bits of inspiration. Your vision for what you want to achieve in life, in your career or just personally. I have my vision board on the wall behind my desk. It's really just a giant cork board that I've hung some things that inspire me. Of course it also includes other things like pub dates and book lists, but ultimately when I find a bit of inspiration, a picture or something that shows what I'm seeking I clip it out or print it out and hang it on my board.
My vision board is pretty rough. I've seen people create some wonderful collages and artwork for their vision. I'd love to do that, but that seems like it would take a lot of time. However you want to create your board (on your wall, in a notebook, post-its around your computer, on Pinterest....) I think it's a great way to remind you of what your striving for or inspiration when you're feeling down.
A peek of some of what's on my vision board. Thanks Dr. Seuss!
BookBuzzr author Linda Watkins recently had an opportunity to celebrate. Her book – Mateguas Island – recently hit the number 1 spot on Amazon in the Horror > Occult category.
The screenshot below was taken on October 14, 2014.
We reached out to her to learn more about her journey…
Hey Linda! Always a pleasure to connect with a fellow Carnegie Mellon alum! Why don’t you start out by telling us a little bit about yourself?
Sure. My family is from New England. We moved to Michigan when I was young and that’s where I grew up. After college – at Carnegie – I moved to the San Francisco Bay Area where I spent most of my adult life, working as a financial analyst at Stanford Unversity School of Medicine. When I took early retirement, I moved to Oregon for a brief time, then on to Chebeague Island, Maine, where I resided for seven wonderful years. Chebeague is an “unconnected” island – there is no bridge or causeway; access is only by ferry or private boat. It was there that I wrote MATEGUAS ISLAND. Last year, for personal reasons, I gave up island life and moved to Western Michigan where I live today.
I’m single and live with my three aging rescue dogs, Splatter, Spudley and Jasper,
Why did you start writing?
I think I’ve always been writing. When we were young, my sister and I used to write satirical sketches based on the era’s most popular tv westerns. Later in life, at work, I wrote “long forms” and business plans while, at home, I wrote songs, poems and bits of whimsy to share with family and friends. A novel, however, was something I never attempted until approximately four years ago when I started MATEGUAS.
I think there were two things that spurred me to actually sit down and write this book. First was a challenge from my sister who is also a writer. Second was the invention of the iPad! I got one of the first ones and it freed me from being tied to my computer. I could write anywhere – in my car, waiting in the parking lot on the mainland; on the ferry, going to and from Chebeague and in the wee small hours of the morning when my characters refused to let me sleep – they wanted their story told!
What’s the story behind ‘Mateguas Island’?
Well, as I mentioned above, I lived on an island not unlike my fictional one. Living on an unconnected island, there are times, most especially when a storm is coming (I experienced 2 hurricanes and an untold number of nor’easters while I lived there), that one can feel an overwhelming sense of isolation and claustrophia. These emotions play well into a story based in the supernatural. Also, you’ll note my main characters moved to the island from northern California – just like I did.
Since horror is the genre I most enjoy, I decided to write a horror story, using a fictional island as the backdrop. It began, initially, as one of those “house” stories – you know, there’s something evil lurking in the walls, etc. However, my characters had other things in mind and they led me to the story that is now MATEGUAS.
What’s the best thing about being a writer?
Gosh – the people you meet in your mind! And, you can do anything to them that you want! Also, your hours are your own – you can write in the early morning, late at night or whenever the spirit moves you. It’s so much fun creating a story – I can’t really describe it – it’s wonderful.
What’s the worst thing about being a writer?
As a self-published writer, I have to do all the promoting of my work myself and I can’t say I really enjoy it. I’d rather be writing. But promotion is a necessary evil and I have to do it!
What does a typical day look like for you?
I’m a morning person. I’m usually up around 5:30 – 6:00 am. After I let the dogs out and brew that first cup of coffee, I’m at the computer – reading emails, scheduling tweets, answering messages on FB and posting book promos there. After all that is done, I walk my dogs, feed them and then it’s back to the computer again, either doing promo stuff or writing/editing.
In the early evening, I’m again back at the computer doing promos. After dinner, it’s down time – I stop work and just relax.
What are some of the things that you did to market your book?
I’ve tried quite a few different things. I do Facebook promos in the numerous groups that feature books, I tweet and retweet, I’ve been on several different horror blogs as a guest, and joined in promotional events featuring book giveaways. I’ve also placed my novel on a number of websites that feature books. Outside of cyberspace, I’ve done signings and participated in charity events, giving away copies of my book
It was a BookBub promotion, that I’m now in the middle of, that catapulted me to the #1 Bestseller Ranking.
How did you learn about your book hitting the number 1 slot on Amazon?
As I mentioned above, I had a promotion going on, so I was watching the stats very carefully. The first day, the books were flying off the virtual shelves so fast, the Amazon ranking couldn’t keep up with them! I think the lowest number I saw was 123 in all paid, which blew my mind. Getting the #1 ranking in Horror/Occult, ahead of Anne Rice and Stephen King and lots of other amazing writers, was just too awesome!
Who designed your book cover for you?
The photos on both the front and the back are ones I took on Chebeague Island. The colorization and lettering, etc., were done by a fellow writer, H. William Ruback, who also has a graphic design studio – www.incolordigitaldesign.com.
How did you get your book and author websites created?
Another fellow writer and good friend, Steve LeBel (The Universe Builders), helped me set them up initially. The rest was done by just trial and error. I learn best by doing, not by reading about doing!
How did you manage to reach out to your first few reviewers and get them to read your book?
My book is published under Argon Press which is actually a consortium of writers. The aforementioned Steve LeBel set up a website for Argon and, in that website, members of the general public have the ability to download ARCs (advanced reader copies) of our unpublished work. I obtained several reviews from those readings.
In addition, I reached out to reviewers who have pages on Facebook asking them if they would be so kind as to read and review my work. I also sent MATEGUAS to the Midwest Book Review and Readers’ Favorite organizations in order to obtain editorial reviews. At the same time, I entered the Readers’ Favorite International Book Award Contest and was so thrilled and elated when MATEGUAS won the Gold Medal in Fiction-Supernatural.
When is your next book coming out? Can you tell us a little about it?
The next book is the sequel to MATEGUAS, aptly titled: RETURN TO MATEGUAS ISLAND. The novel is in the final editing stages now. My goal is to have the editing done by the end of October, then its on to formatting, etc. I have the front cover done – the back and spine will come later when I prepare the print version. I hope to publish the eBook by mid-December 2014. The print version will come later – probably in January or February of 2015.
As for the story, it takes place ten years after Karen Andersen and her family leave Mateguas. Karen’s daughters are now eighteen and want to return to the island to find out what really happened that night of the storm when everything changed. Karen, now married to Dex, naturally, does not want to go, but is eventually persuaded. There will be some major surprises in store for them on Mateguas, but I’m not going to give away anything here. Suffice to say, there is plenty of supernatural stuff going on as well as a healthy dose of romance. A brief excerpt of the novel can be found on my website, www.mateguasisland.com.
RETURN TO MATEGUAS is the second full-length novel in a three book series. I’m writing the final novel in my head right now and, once Return is publshed, hope to get started putting it down on paper! My goal is to publish that book by the end of next summer.
Vikram Narayan is the founder of BookBuzzr Book Marketing Technologies. Vikram is a graduate of Carnegie Mellon University. Prior to starting BookBuzzr, Vikram founded another software company that has been successfully serving clients from all over the world since 2001. When he is not dreaming up ways to help authors accelerate their earnings and book sales, Vikram spends his time playing the guitar, practicing Aikido and spending time with his family._________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Assuming that children understand the elements of a story is assuming too much. These elements must be taught if they are meant to be used in the writing process.
Two amazing talents have teamed up to create THE perfect harvest time book for this coming fall - Erzsi Deak (of Hen & Ink Literary Studio) and Doug Cushman (writer and/or illustrator of over 125 picture books!). The book is called PUMPKIN TIME! . It’s about Evy, who is a consummate gardener and very good pie maker! Erzsi and Doug both stopped by to talk about their book… and France, where they both live. (Paint me green with envy!)
Q. Erzsi - Congratulations on Pumpkin Time! This isn’t your first book, but it is your first picture book (yes?). How did it come to be?
A. It was three years after PERIOD PIECES: STORIES FOR GIRLS came out when I met the wonderful Markus Zusak, author of THE BOOK THIEF among other titles, and his talk and the discussions with other attendees. Doug Cushman was there along with Ann Jacobus -- whose book, ROMANCING THE DARK IN THE CITY OF LIGHT comes out from SMP in 2015 -- and Bridget Strevens-Marzo, whose book, TIZ & OTT’S BIG DRAW comes out from Tate Publishing in 2015! Zusak’s talk was a reboot for me creatively. I started dreaming up a new book on a napkin and hotel stationery (like the best authors in recent bestselling history). This time with words and pictures. It’s actual debut, in a slightly different form, was performed during the very first Dueling Illustrators event at the SCBWI booth at the Bologna Book Fair between Doug, Bridget and Paul O. Zelinsky!
Q. Erzsi - Were you and Doug friends before PUMPKIN TIME!? Was it a collaboration?
A. Doug and I have been friends ever since Peter Sis introduced us in Paris. He knew Peter who knew me through Barbara McClintock who knew me because of the SCBWI. Doug moved to France over ten years ago, but for the first five we only saw each other at exotic SCBWI venues (Madrid, Munich, Bologna). Since then, he has designed the Bologna logo, critiqued picture book projects at the Bologna stand and created Pencil Boy (an irregular feature on the Here, There & Everywhere page). Doug graciously listened to various versions of the text and then illustrated sample art. Last year in Bologna, over lunch, Steve Geck told me that what he really wanted was a pumpkin book. I said, "Shoot, Steve," (not my exact words, mind you), "I have a pumpkin book." And the rest, as they say is history. (For the ongoing inside scoop on how we work, I invite everyone to check out CHICKEN SCRATCHES, the regular comic Doug creates for http://henandink.com)
Q. Erzsi - You run the Literary Studio Hen & Ink. Is being located in Paris ever a challenge for you? (Personally, I’d love it!) And does being an agent inform your writing?
A. I actually work out of the South of France in a field (last year it was... pumpkins, pumpkins everywhere!). With good internet, phone and postal/delivery service; a nearby airport and a high-speed train that can whip me off to New York, San Francisco, London, Paris, Bologna, Frankfurt and even further like Seoul this year, it's pure pleasure. Okay, the lightening storms kind of kill the internet fun, but other than that, we're good! For Hen&ink and Pumpkin Time!, I'm excited to be heading to Portland, OR, San Francisco, San Diego, Austin (for the Texas Book Festival -- yay!) and New York.
As far as if being an agent informs my writing, I suppose a bit; I do more editing and letter and email writing than manuscript writing of my own, however. It's probably more correct to say that my writing informs my agenting.
Q. Erzsi - What was your writing process for Pumpkin Time!? Do you find the picture book format challenging? (CLICK HERE to read more about Erzsi's writing process.)
A. I love (love!) picture books and the interplay of words and pictures. I wrote poetry from the age I could hold a stick in the sand; when I worked in a bookstore in Fairbanks, AK, I spent all my money on starting my children's book collection (I still have those picture books). In art school, I played a lot with text and looked at possibly becoming an art director so I could continue to play with words and pictures. All-this-is-to say, I find the picture book format a fabulous format to work in -- especially if one is visual. The perfect word. The perfect pause. The perfect picture. I like rhythm and repeat (What was Evy doing? for example!); call-and-response; gorgeous writing and funny writing. Succinct writing. I'm wary of one-note joke books and seek out richness in the story as well as the writing and illustrating. So, not challenging -- invigorating and exciting!
Q. Doug - I love all the energetic animals in PUMPKIN TIME! How do you come up with such fun characters?
A. I love drawing animals (mostly they are more human and real than, well, humans). And of course Erzsi’s energetic text and humor was perfect for creating some wild animal characters. It wasn’t a chore at all, in some ways I had to hold back and not get too crazy for fear of straying too far away from the original intent of the story.
Q. Doug - What is your illustration method?
A. I try to get the main character nailed down at the get-go, in this case it was Evy and Turkey. I saw Turkey as Evy’s counterpoint, he saw and reacted to everything she missed. Turkey is the flip side of the same coin, her “animal spirit”, if I may. I gave them both the same boots and hat to accentuate that idea. Once I have the main characters in my head I start to sketch each page and lay out the action and design. The ideal is to make each spread flow into the next one so the book works as a complete unit, like a little film.
Q. Doug - You’re in Paris now too. Does that affect your career or your approach to illustration in any way?
A. Paris and Europe are very liberating. There are literally centuries of art all around—even up the street!— that I can draw from (no pun intended). My approach to books hasn’t changed that much but there is an atmosphere here where I feel I can push my art and ideas a little further to the edge. It doesn’t always work for the American market but it’s easier to pull back if I need to than try and push forward. I’d like to see the American market take a few more chances. Children can handle it. We could make some great books, I think.
Q. Doug - You’ve created over 125 picture books - wowsa! Do you ever slow down?
A. It’s closer to 130 now. It doesn’t feel like work at all. I get up every morning and draw pictures. That’s all I do. But each book is different and has it’s own problems. In one sense, I’m a beginner with each book. Every project is a blank sheet, literally, where I have to create something logical, seamless and fun. The challenge is to do better than the last book. It doesn’t always work. But I keep trying.
Q. Doug - Had to add that I am now teaching with Ruth Sanderson at Hollins University in the summers in their MFA in Writing and Illustrating Children's Books program. She says ‘hi’!
A. I knew Ruth way back in art school. She was a star even then. I was thrilled when she came to visit earlier this year. We had a grand time sketching outdoors…and eating snails. Ask her about THAT!
Q. Erzsi and Doug - Are you doing anything special to celebrate PUMPKIN TIME!?
ED-I think we should break out the pumpkin pie, don't you?!
DC-Sounds good to me!
ED-In celebration, we are taking the pumpkin patch on-the-road! We've just about nailed down the schedule. Doug starts next week at The Hickory Stick Bookstore in Washington, CT, and will go to Boston and Bank Street in NYC as well. I start at the Book Been Bookstore in Portland, OR, on October 15th and then go to the Yellow Book Road and a school visit on the 21st in San Diego, drop into NCIBA in San Francisco and possibly a school visit and then it's Austin for the Festival and Books of Wonder in NYC. Details will be on pumpkin-time.com. Hope many of you can meet us on this pumpkin-infused journey!
Q. Erzsi and Doug - Do folks celebrate Halloween and harvest time in France like they do in the US?
ED- Everyone loves pumpkins here -- especially pumpkin soup, so Doug may be illustrating a new spread for the rest of the world that doesn't "do" pumpkin pie! :) The merchants in Paris have tried to get Halloween going, but with All Saint's Day observed the day after Halloween, it's a tougher call to get everyone out in ghost and witch costumes for Halloween. But the harvest, definitely the harvest! Around here, in the SE of France, the hay has been baled and the pumpkins are lined up in the fields.
DC-All true. Halloween is practically unknown in France. But as Erzsi said, the harvest, especially the grape harvest, is big. I just returned from the grape harvest in Burgundy. Obviously France has no Thanksgiving holiday, which is huge in America, and in many ways symbolizes the great Harvest in the States.
Q. Erzsi and Doug - Do you think you’ll do another book together?
A. ED & DC-Yes!!
DC- We’ve known each other for a long time and have planned many projects over the years. We hope to do many more books together...and not only pumpkin-related (though food is one of my favorite subjects to write, talk and paint).
Q. Thanks so much to both of you for stopping by! I wish you much continued success, and with any luck, I’ll be able to say that to you in person, in France, one of these days!!!
A. ED & DC- Great! The first glass of Burgundy is on us!
Me: Oh, you have SO got a deal!
CLICK HERE to download a free PUMPKIN TIME! Activity kit! .
Sourcebooks has agreed to giveaway a free copy of PUMPKIN TIME to one of my lucky followers. Must live in the US/Canada to win - enter below:
Saba Sulaiman is the newest member of Talcott Notch Literary Services, a boutique agency located in Milford, CT. She joined the team after working as an editorial intern at Sourcebooks, where she worked primarily on their romance line. She's looking for up-market literary and commercial fiction, romance (all subgenres except paranormal), character-driven psychological thrillers, cozy mysteries, and memoir, both in adult and YA. She's also actively looking for MG. Follow her on Twitter @agentsaba
1. What is it about a manuscript that excites you?
A strong, gripping, mature voice, well-rounded characters, and an instant emotional connection. I want to be invested in the story as soon as possible, and I love stories where there is a clear and relatable conflict.
2. What is on your wish list?
I'd love to see any story that incorporates diverse characters and backgrounds, and does it well. Throw in a unique twist to a classic story. Invert a tried and tested formula or trope, and make it compelling enough for me to get on board with it. I hesitate to be too specific because I'm open to almost anything within the genres I represent, but I'll definitely pay more attention to manuscripts with these qualities.
3. What are some things you love to see in a query?
Other than what's standard, I like to see comp titles -- but please don't compare your book to a huge bestselling book that everyone's heard of! You don't have to include comp titles in your query, but if you do, show me that you really know what's happening in your genre by making them specific.
4. Are you an editorial agent?
Yes I'm very hands-on! I'm happy to work with authors to polish their work, and I don't believe in presenting manuscripts that aren't quite ready to be looked at yet. That having been said, please don't query me with first drafts! I have to be convinced that you've already been through multiple revisions and that you know your craft inside out before I'll consider working with you.
5. Character, world, or plot?
Character all the way!
6. What do you like to do for fun?
Well, other than reading (surprise!) and my other hobbies (see my webpage!) I mostly bother my friends and think a lot about my next meal (I take food very seriously.)
7. What genres are you drawn to most?
In YA, I'm generally drawn to contemporary realistic stories, but I'm also open to magical realism and historical YA with spunky, edgy heroines.
8. Which is more crucial: emotional connection or current marketability?
Emotional connection. Market trends come and go, but I need to connect with the manuscript in order to be able to back it 100% and make editors fall in love with it.
9. Why did you become an agent?
I read and talk about books for a living -- I think that says it all :)
By: Terry Hooper-Scharf,
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Ahh. More books for the BCP Book Fair and Comic Expo in November!
In case you ask:
The venue for BCP International Book Fair & Comic Expo 2014 is the Mercure Holland House Hotel and Spa in Bristol, UK. The hotel is by the beautiful St Mary's Church and the harbour. With Temple Mead Train Station 10 minutes away and Bristol Airport 20 minutes drive from the hotel.
There are many lovely facilities on site including a fitness suite, swimming pool, spa (a 5 minutes walk around the side of the hotel), restaurants..
We have negotiated a discounted room rate for the convention and these are as follows:
Friday Night (Bed & Breakfast): £99
Saturday Night (Bed & Breakfast): £109
(Hotel bookable at these convention rates, secured by a credit card and you can pay on departure - available only until the 22nd September after which will revert to full room rate)
You can book your room by using the following code when booking:
Please quote this code when phoning the hotel to book via phone: 0117 3199004 (UK)
There are free coffee/tea making facilities in each room.
There is free wifi in each room.
The website for the Mercure Holland House Hotel & Spa can be found HERE
The Mercure Holland House Hotel & Spa's address is as follows:
By: Sharon Ledwith,
Boy Red is a story about identity, about where you come from and where you belong.
The day after his sixteenth birthday, Red discovers that the man he calls ‘Dad’is not his biological father. Will Red be able to track down the anonymous sperm donor who gave him life? What will he learn about himself along the way? And just what else are his parents hiding?
It was Saturday night, and Mum was up on the makeshift stage doing a classy number—that is to say Tina Turner complete with big h air and five-inch red heels. The booths were taken by the karaoke regulars clutching their song sheets and medallions. A throng of studded students drank cheap German beer at the bar, disappearing outside every few minutes for a smoke. Tourists dripping with backpacks chatted in a zillion different languages.
A few weeks ago, I told Mum I wanted low key, meaning a night out down the Lock with Si—no wigs, microphones, or other parental contributions in sight. But she would have none of it.
“Red, baby, you only turn sixteen once,”she’d said. “You’ve got to mark it in style. You’ve got to have a party.”
My name’s actually Jed, but everyone calls me Red. I share two things with Mick Hucknall: mad orange hair and a slightly odd face. Sadly, I don’t have his musical talents. Not like Mum. She wins a lot of prizes. It’s embarrassing to see her in her Cher wig and polka dot dress, but it could be worse. She could be something really boring like an accountant. Dad’s an academic. He’s a professor of science. They make for a strange combo, but Camden caters for all sorts. The posh and the rough rub shoulders every day. Not that I’m saying Mum’s rough or anything, but her Madonna impersonations can make for scary viewing.
So there I was down at the local pub, staring at the purple swirly carpet, starting to feel nauseous. My sixteenth birthday party. It may as well have been musical chairs and pin the tail on the donkey. It was that bad. My six-year-old brother, Freddie, sat smirking in the corner while Mum warbled out her rendition of City Limits. Dave, the karaoke organiser, all burly biceps in a frilly pink shirt, tapped his right foot in time to the music. Dad smiled amiably at the bar as he downed an orange juice. That man lacked the capacity for embarrassment. He must have a gene missing or something.
“Your mum’s reading the lines off a television. Where’s the harm in it?”he reasoned. He could be so rational, it was maddening.
Si was chatting up a pair of Asian twins who’d just finished their version of The Cheeky Girls’ “Touch My Bum.” He winked at me to join him, while Mum carried on gyrating in red polyester as she reached the climax.
“Dad. Dad!” Freddie tugged at Dad’s jeans.
Dad checked his watch, stood up, and cleared his throat. Uh-oh.
“Oh, yes. Thank you, Freddie. Gaye!”
Mum smiled at Dave as she gripped the microphone. “Thank you, everybody. I have a little announcement to make,” she said. The shrieks and applause died down, leaving a low hum of conversation. The Cheeky Girls stopped drinking their Barcardi Breezers and looked expectantly at Mum. They wore white PVC hot pants and matching kneehigh boots. They were hot all right. Not the type of girls I wanted around to witness this kind of embarrassment. I looked on in horror and considered my options. This would have been a good time to escape to the bog, but Dad had already covered that one by asking Dave’s brother, Stu, to keep guard. Dad’s best mate, Phil, stood to my right, smiling inanely at me. There was nowhere to run. So I downed half of Stu’s pint instead. He didn’t seem to mind. Just winked.
“Okay, guys and girls,” continued Mum, running her hands through her wig. “I hope you’ll all join me in wishing our Red a very happy sixteenth birthday.”
I’d never get served alcohol in here after that. It was all right for girls, they always got served. The Cheeky Girls couldn’t have been much older than I was, and they were knocking them back.
Stu waved manically over my head for the benefit of anyone who might not know who the lucky boy was. The Cheeky Girls whispered to each other and raised their collective eyebrows as I fixed a boomerang smile on my face.
“Ha-a-a-a-ppy birthday to you, Happy birthday to you…”Mum had gone into Marilyn Monroe mode, all silly girly voice, while Dave brought out a blue football cake fit for a five year old, complete with sixteen flaming candles. It was excruciating.
When the humiliation was over, Mum came over and kissed me on the forehead and ruffled my already wild hair, just to add insult to injury.
“I think that needs a cut, mister,” she said.
I looked at Freddie’s smooth pudding basin cut performed by Mum the day before and shuddered. I didn’t think so.
I’d always been the odd one out with my orange mane. Jokes about the milkman were rife.
I blew out my candles and cut the cake as a million digital cameras flashed in my face. Another one for the family album.
It was all so normal. Well, normal as far as my family went anyway.
There were even napkins.
Want to know more about S. D. Everingtion? You can find her at http://www.shantaeverington.co.uk/
or on Twitter @ShantaEverAfter.
By: Terry Hooper-Scharf,
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Writer: GREG FARSHTEY Artist PAULO HENRIQUE Colorist LAURIE E. SMITH Series: Lego Ninjago Graphic Novels 64pp Softcover ISBN 9781782761921all ages£4.99
Sensei Wu has trained Cole, Zane, Jay, and Kai to be Masters of Spinjitzu, and together they defend the world of Ninjago from the dark forces of the Underworld. But when Samukai boasts that he can defeat Sensai Wu and his four young ninja, Garmadon takes him up on his bet!
Nicely written, nicely drawn and lovely bright colours. You know this is meant for kids but there is a HUGE adult Lego market out there -cosplayers, adults who don't want to grow up and, naturally, those people who want to buy this sort of thing "for the kids"....yeah. Right.
Christmas is coming up, you know so....?
Blog: Perpetually Adolescent
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Book Reviews - Fiction
, Michael Kitto
, An Amorous Discourse in the Suburbs of Hell
, Black Vodka
, deborah levy
, Man Booker
, Swimming Home
, The Unloved
, Things I Don't Want to Know
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Have you ever found an author that you just want to recommend to everyone you meet? The type of author that you just want to read over and over again. I found this author in 2012 and I am slowly working through her backlist. The first book I read of hers I loved so much […]
A tip for aspiring children's book writers and illustrators: Try not to let yourself get sucked into too much fussing over preparation and ritual. Make a routine and then stick to it.
Now to follow my own advice...
By: Terry Hooper-Scharf,
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Can news get even sadder today?
Stardust had been due to release a new studio album this autumn
Singer Alvin Stardust has died aged 72 after a short illness.
He had recently been diagnosed with metastatic prostate cancer and died at home with his wife, Julie, and family around him, his manager said.
Born Bernard Jewry in the East End of London in 1942, his hits included My Coo Ca Choo, Jealous Mind and I Feel Like Buddy Holly.
The former glam rock star had been due to release his first studio album in 30 years on 3 November.
He recently announced the record, titled Alvin, was finished and would represent "a new and exciting departure" of which he was "immensely proud".
Stardust grew up in Mansfield and started playing guitar as a schoolboy. He met one of his biggest influences, Buddy Holly, at a gig in Doncaster and played backstage with the singer and his band the Crickets.
He signed his first record deal in 1961 as the frontman of Shane Fenton and the Fentones, though the band struggled to get in the charts.
In 1973 he signed with Magnet Records and took on the name that would make him famous.
My Choo Ca Coo, the debut song under his new guise, peaked at number two in the UK singles chart.
The singer previously recorded under the name Shane Fenton
It led to him being part of a Green Cross Code road safety campaign in 1976 which saw him instructing children to look both ways before they crossed the road.
His success continued into the 1980s with Pretend, I Feel Like Buddy Holly and I Won't Run Away all making the top 10.
Once described as "the Godfather of British Rock 'n' Roll" by Rolling Stone Keith Richards, he made sporadic acting appearances in Hollyoaks, The Grimleys and Doctors.
He also appeared on stage in such musicals as Godspell, The Phantom of the Opera and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, in which he played the fearsome Child Catcher.
Stardust was married three times. His first wife was Iris Caldwell, with whom he had two sons, Shaun and Adam.
His second wife was the actress Liza Goddard, with whom he had a daughter named Sophie.
"RIP Alvin Stardust," Goddard tweeted
on Thursday. "Thank you for our beautiful daughter and granddaughter."
Stardust went on to marry to Julie Paton, an actress and choreographer with whom he had a daughter, Millie.
Shaun is now a headmaster in Reigate, while his brother is a producer and DJ who records under the name Adam F.
DJ Tony Blackburn remembered the singer as "a great showman" who would be "sorely missed". "Performing was his life," added the veteran broadcaster.
"He had this bad boy image, but he was not like that at all," Blackburn continued. "On stage he was brilliant, but off stage he was just an ordinary guy."
Stardust, a committed Christian, was also remembered as "a great bloke" by his former Hollyoaks co-star Jeremy Edwards.
"RIP Alvin Stardust, the original landlord of the Dog in the Pond," the actor wrote on Twitter
, referring to the Channel 4 series' fictional public house.
"I may not have known him long, but even in that short time he proved to be one of the most genuine and likeable men I've ever met," said the singer's manager Andy Davies.
"His passing is a huge and sad loss."Tempus fugit
By: Terry Hooper-Scharf,
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Writer GREG FARSHTEY Artist PAULO HENRIQUE Colorist LAURIE E. SMITH
Series: Lego Ninjago Graphic Novels
Cole, Zane, Jay, and Kai, the Masters of Spinjitzu, have defeated unbelievably powerful foes and all seems well on the world of Ninjago. But all that changes when the inja are attacked by the one foe they can’t possibly hope to defeat, the one who taught them everything they know — Sensei Wu himself?!
This is a nightmare come true when they must somehow defeat their respected teacher and friend — or must they?!
I'm sorry but Lego as anything but a building material (VERY expensive at that) leaves me cold. So I am going to ignore the Lego aspect and just take this as a fun, well drawn and wonderfully coloured story for "all ages", though of course it is supposed to be for children.
I certainly know that there ARE a lot of adults (including cosplayers) who will go nuts and buy this. At at under a £5.00 why not?
By: Terry Hooper-Scharf,
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Networking is the Best Way to Market You and Your Book
Book Synopsis for The Magic of Friendship:
BABBAR is a fierce and mean tiger who cannot tolerate anyone, but he is lonely and sad. HASMUKH is a funny donkey but gets scared of everyone. When the Magic of friendship touches them see how it transforms not only their characters but also transforms the whole environment around them.
The Magic of friendship is a hilarious, action packed entertaining story. There are scary moments, celebration and comical moments. While the core focus of the story is about friendship it has elements of father son bonding and family values as well.
Book gives plenty of opportunity for parents to entertain kids with their own version of animal noises. And bright and interactive illustrations is sure to leave a mark on eyes.
This is a story about change -- a transformation that comes with the magic of friendship. Personality may not change, but nature can surely change. This story will show the value of friendship and how that can change a person, particularly, one who is lonely and never really had the gift of laughter.
Title of Book: The Magic of Friendship
Genre: Children's Picture Book
Publisher: Kommuru Books
Publication Date: September 2014
# of Pages: 40
The Best Way to Market Your Book
We always hear of people who come from nowhere and go somewhere beyond imaginations. That statement sounds very simple but you will appreciate that someone a lot more once you get your feet into this field. Networking is an ongoing and an uphill battle.
I believe networking is the best way to market you. Being an author is unlike any other industry there are no competitors. Everyone is an ally and you just want to make sure that you have more and more of them. Every author I have met has helped a lot. It’s truly amazing you will not find a community like this in any other field.
Subhash and Sujata hail from India. They migrated to the United States along with their memories of childhood and youth. Now that they are parents, just like every immigrant they crave to introduce their child to the culture and values of their upbringing. Yet it is challenging to teach something while you are in the midst of adjusting to a different culture yourself.
Subhash and Sujata both work in different disciplines and have different styles and backgrounds, but it is the upbringing of their son that brings them on the same page. That exact place where they meet is captured and reflected in their stories, where Subhash can express in words, and Sujata can illustrate them beautifully. Where he puts it in black and white, she adds color to it. You get the idea!
These stories are their attempt to share a glimpse of their childhood days with their son. He is their inspiration to write short stories that have meaning to them and provide teaching in some shape or form.
Are there agents who are willing to represent 100-ish page women’s fiction manuscripts these days? And if so, what is the market? I see the petite novels in self-publish eBook formats but I am uncertain of the global mainstream market.
Generally agents are looking for books that publishers want to print. That means 80-100K words, not 25K. (100 pages =25K approximately)
I'm sure there's a market for shorter novels in ebook format where the writer/publisher can offer it for sale at a low price. Publishers have overhead that generally preclude offering books at that price unless it's a special, time-limited, discount.
The Adventures of Wally and Warren Series: Dinosaur Hunt by Lise Chase Wally and Warren explore the world of dinosaurs through rhyme and imagination. Learn about each unique dinosaur and their eating habits and physical details. From the herbivore to the omnivorous to big and small your young muses will learn about the stegosaurus to the tyrannosaurus and everything in between.
<!--[if gte mso 9]> Normal 0 false false false EN-US JA X-NONE
Author and illustrator, Lise Chase combines her knack for rhyme storytelling and intriguing illustrations for a perfect blend of an adventure like no other. Visit author and illustrator, Lise Chase at https://www.facebook.com/lise.chase.9?fref=ts
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Best wishes,Donna M. McDineMulti Award-winning Children's Author
Ignite curiosity in your child through reading!
Connect with Donna McDine on Google+A Sandy Grave ~ January 2014 ~ Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc. ~ 2014 Purple Dragonfly 1st Place Picture Books 6+, Story Monster Approved, Beach Book Festival Honorable Mention 2014, Reader's Favorite Five Star Review
Powder Monkey ~ May 2013 ~ Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc. ~ Story Monster Approved and Reader's Favorite Five Star Review
Hockey Agony ~ January 2013 ~ Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc. ~ Story Monster Approved and Reader's Farvorite Five Star Review
The Golden Pathway ~ August 2010 ~ Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc.~ Literary Classics Silver Award and Seal of Approval, Readers Favorite 2012 International Book Awards Honorable Mention and Dan Poynter's Global e-Book Awards Finalist
[Manga Maniac Cafe] Good morning, Chrys! Describe yourself in five words or less.
[Chrys Fey] Rock obsessed auntie who writes.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about 30 Seconds?
[Chrys Fey] 30 Seconds is a romantic-suspense novella about a woman who finds herself in the middle of a war between a police force and the Mob.
When Officer Blake Herro agreed to go undercover in the Mob, he thought he understood the risks. But he’s made mistakes and now an innocent woman has become their target. He’s determined to protect her at all costs.
The Mob’s death threat turns Dr. Dani Hart’s life upside down, but there is one danger she doesn’t anticipate. As she’s dodging bullets, she’s falling in love with Blake. With danger all around them, will she and Blake survive and have a happy ending, or will the Mob make good on their threat?
[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you share your favorite scene?
[Chrys Fey] Oh there are so many! My favorite action scene is when Dani Hart runs from the Mob. They chase her out of the hospital where she works, down a packed street in the heart of Cleveland, and into an alley. They openly shoot at her, too, not caring that civilians are everywhere. It’s an intense, heart-pounding scene. I also love the scene when Dani and Blake have a snowball fight. It’s light and funny, a moment they desperately needed.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What did you enjoy most about writing this book?
[Chrys Fey] Getting to know Blake and Dani. They were interesting characters from the first time they popped into my head. Blake arrived thanks to a dream and Dani showed up shortly after I had a layover in the Cleveland, Ohio airport on my way to Michigan. Dani is a tough doctor who loves rock music and horror movies. Blake is a sexy cop who struggles with his commitment to protect Dani due to his growing desires.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What’s one thing you won’t leave home without?
[Chrys Fey] Chap Stick.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] Name three things on your desk right now.
[Chrys Fey] A witch’s cauldron that I turned into a writer’s cauldron with pens, pencils and scrap paper, “Queen of the Damned” by Anne Rice, and my Skull Candy headphones.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What’s your favorite snack when you’re working on a deadline?
[Chrys Fey] Sandwiches are my go to meal if I work through lunch, but when it gets to be around two or three in the afternoon anything sweet will do.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] If you could trade places with anyone for just one day, who would you be?
[Chrys Fey] I would trade places with my character Dani to spend some time with Blake, a sexy police officer. Do you blame me? *wink*
[Manga Maniac Cafe] You have been granted the use of one superpower for one week. Which power would you choose, and what would you do with it?
[Chrys Fey] I would want the power to blink my body from one place to another, so I could go to all the places I’ve dreamed about visiting, like Ireland, Venice, and London.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What are some books that you enjoyed recently?
[Chrys Fey] Moonless by Crystal Collier, Butterman (Time) Travel, Inc by PK Hrezo, and Twelve Sharp by Janet Evanovich.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] How can readers connect with you?
Chrys Fey] I am very active on Facebook and my blog. I love to read and reply back to comments from readers; it’s the highlight of my day.
Title: 30 Seconds
Author: Chrys Fey
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Length: Novella (105 pages)
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Published: September 10th, 2014
Chrys Fey is a lover of rock music just like Dani Hart in 30 Seconds. Whenever she’s writing at her desk, headphones are always emitting the sounds of her musical muses -especially that of her favorite band, 30 Seconds to Mars, the inspiration behind the title.
30 Seconds is her second eBook with The Wild Rose Press. Her debut, Hurricane Crimes, is also available on Amazon.
Discover her writing tips on her blog, and connect with her on Facebook. She loves to get to know her readers!
The post Interview with Chrys Fey, Author of 30 Seconds appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.
Yesterday I painted a half-hour still life demo in gouache for the Painting 1 class at Texas A and M, where I'm here this week as artist in residence.
|James Gurney at Texas A&M, photo courtesy Felice House|
The subject is a banana sitting on a red piece of paper. Painting a high chroma object strongly lit against a high intensity background is the same assignment that the students have done earlier. So they get to see me wrestling with the same issues that they have faced.
Every color that we see is a combination of the color of the light and the actual color of the surface (or "local color"). In this case, the down-facing planes in shadow are receiving reflected light from the red paper, shifting those color planes toward orange.
As the top planes turn toward shadow near each end of the banana, they catch the blue window light, which mixes with yellow to make green.
I make an effort to vary the edges around the form from soft to hard to soft. Nearly the whole painting is done with 3/4 inch and 1/2 inch flat brushes
. I turn the brushes edge-on for the thin lines, and use the corner of the brush for the dots.
|Painting by James Gurney. Photo by Felice House|
Gouache colors include: white
, lemon yellow
, cadmium yellow medium
, cadmium red
, burnt sienna
, ultramarine blue
, and cobalt blue
These are the only colors I have on the trip. Traveling with carry-on luggage means cutting back the colors so that they fit in the 3-1-1 TSA bags.
The palette surface is a metal pencil box primed and then painted white with enamel spray paint
. The palette is held to my lightweight sketch easel
with Neodymium magnets
The students ask great questions throughout the session. Many of them are using what they're learning from these painting exercises to inform them in their 3D digital lighting projects.
Seated to my right is the professor of the class, Felice House
. She says that the assignment "The Banana on Red" is a teaching project that originated with her first painting teacher at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design, named Sheila Provazza
Whew! After that it's time for lunch and art talk with some of my student pals from the Department of Visualization. This week is going so fast for me and Jeanette and we're having a blast.
If you can, please come on by College Station tonight for my Dinotopia lecture
. I'll be glad to meet you or sign whatever books you bring afterward.
By: Terry Hooper-Scharf,
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NEWSLETTER del 23/10/2014
HAMELIN 37 - TROPPE STORIE
È uscito il nuovo numero della rivista "Hamelin" con un approfondimento sulle storie e sulla narrazione
Su cosa sia cambiato nel narrare di oggi, su quanto sia rimasto della ritualità dello scrivere, e quanto invece di quella del leggere, in un mondo in cui il saper scrivere e raccontare è ormai appannaggio di copywriter, esperti di marketing, guru della comunicazione, e nel quale i social network impongono di raccontarsi sempre, raccontando nell'immediato sentimenti, emozioni, esperienze che finiscono per diventare nostre anche senza esserlo.
Se tutto è narrazione, cos'è narrazione?
È possibile acquistare "Hamelin" on-line
e nelle librerie specializzate
per ragazziAbbonati subito!
LE IMMAGINI DELLA FANTASIA
Sabato 25 ottobre alle ore 18:30, inaugura la 32esima edizione de Le immagini della fantasia, Mostra di Sarmede. Fino al 18 gennaio, la mostra offre un ampio sguardo sul mondo dell’illustrazione per l’infanzia, con una selezione di oltre trenta titoli provenienti da tutto il mondo, un focus dedicato alle fiabe dalla Scozia e il loro immaginario e con Giovanni Manna, ospite d'onore di questa edizione.
A lui Hamelin associazione culturale dedica il testo introduttivo del catalogo della mostra.
HAMELIN FA PARTE DI IBBY ITALIA
International Board on Books for Young People è una rete internazionale di persone, che provengono da 77 paesi e promuove la cooperazione internazionale attraverso i libri per bambini, creando ovunque per l'infanzia l'opportunità di avere accesso a libri di alto livello letterario e artistico e incoraggiando la pubblicazione e la distribuzione di libri di qualità per bambini specialmente nei Paesi in via di sviluppo. www.bibliotecasalaborsa.it/ragazzi/ibby/
One of the best books I read this year and a truly important reading experience is The Public Library, a photographic essay by Robert Dawson. Published by Princeton Architectural Press, this is a gorgeously designed book of photos and essays on American public libraries, which I could not stop paging through.
Right now, you are probably thinking you know what the book is and agree with me that it's important and yet you likely have no interest in paging through it. A book like this is a good thing, but you already value libraries, right? You think you don't need this one.
Allow me to convince you otherwise.
I know public libraries matter on many levels. My hometown library had a huge influence on my life and I know that sentiment is the same for a lot of other people. So I approached The Public Library expecting an appreciation and I certainly was not disappointed on that score. But there is a lot more going on in this book, in the essays (by Bill Moyers, Ann Patchett, Amy Tan, Barbara Kingsolver and more) and the photos.
Dawson shows libraries in a variety of situations: urban and rural, small communities and large, in remote locations and city centers. The design differences are amazing and the closed facilities are heartbreaking but what really got to me was seeing how really useful the libraries are in unexpected ways. Also, the issue of homeless patrons came up several times and the essayists were pretty blunt on that subject.
While I was reading The Public Library and pouring over the photos, what struck me time and again was that open, free libraries are not a gift for a community, but a necessity. They are an equalizing force between the rich and poor and as significant as schools and the right to vote. They can make the difference for so much that might be missing in your life and be a game-changer in so many ways.
The best case scenario would find all of our elected officials sitting down and reading this book. It's the type of title that makes you think and inspires action. (I feel like I'm getting almost silly about libraries right now but I can't help it; just looking at these pictures touched my heart.)
The Public Library--obvious choice for book lovers but an even more important one for folks who just don't get it yet and need to be persuaded.
Listen to an interview with Robert Dawson at NPR.
[Post pics from the book.]
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I shouldn't be blogging.
I should be grading papers.
I should be reading students' blog posts.
I should be sending post-conference follow-up emails to parents.
I should be watching training videos for my new school laptop.
I should be deconstructing standards and digging into resources.
I should be reading so I have something to blog about.
I should be doing amazing things in my classroom so I have something to blog about.
I should be reading the blogs of our faithful blog readers.
I should be cleaning the house.
Remember at the end of last summer, when we went to Vermont on a fly fishing trip
...and didn't catch any fish? And how I vowed to "catch" a "trout" every day of the school year so that no matter what kind of picture the high stakes testing paints of my students, I will be able to look back on a year full of great moments of learning and joy?
I've got a "creel" full of fish.
We're 40+ days into the school year, and in my special little purple Moleskine I have 40+ "trout." Some days when I look back, they make me laugh, or swell up with pride. Some days I get a little teary.
At the exhaustion end of Parent Conference Night, a dad told about organizing his 30th high school class reunion, and how much it meant to him and the others who attended that some of their elementary school teachers attended. Even their first grade teacher was there. "You are making a difference in these students' lives, you know," he said. "You have no idea right now how the seeds you plant will turn out, but you are planting seeds for the future."
The next day, I got an email from a student who was in one of my looping classes 10 years ago. I helped to get her on an IEP back then. She's a junior in college now and she wanted to come interview me for one of her classes. She just switched her major. To education.
All the "I shoulds" will have to wait. I have some seeds to plant. I have some fish to catch.