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1. Crew of Bakshi Productions, 1981

Top row from left: Pat Capozzi, Jack Ozark, A (Unknown), Sue Shigida, B, Mitch Rochon, C, John Sparey, Steve Gordon, Bruce Woodside, James Gurney, D, Tom Tataranowicz, Jan Cummings, Thomas Kinkade.
Bottom Row: Bill Recinos, Debbie Hayes, Mike Svayko, Tim Callahan, Mauro Maressa, Ralph Bakshi, Frank Frazetta, E.

Ralph Bakshi Productions crew photo in 1981, during the production of the animated film "Fire and Ice."

Here's the trailer (Link to YouTube).

Part 1: Fire and Ice -- Rekindled
Part 2: Fire and Ice -- Frank Frazetta
Part 3: Fire and Ice -- Tom Kinkade
Part 4: Fire and Ice -- Ralph Bakshi
Part 5: Living Inside Paintings

Wikipedia on Ralph Bakshi
Wikipedia on the original Fire and Ice. 

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2. Brené Brown & David Levithan Debut on the Indie Bestseller List

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3. Giveaway: MARTians by Blythe Woolston (US & Canada Only)


by Blythe Woolston  

Release Date: Oct 13, 2015


About the Book

In a near-future world of exurban decay studded with big box stores, daily routine revolves around shopping—for those who can. For Zoë, the mission is simpler: live.
Last girl Zoë Zindleman, numerical ID 009-99-9999, is starting work at AllMART, where "your smile is the AllMART welcome mat.” Her living arrangements are equally bleak: she can wait for her home to be foreclosed and stripped of anything valuable now that AnnaMom has moved away, leaving Zoë behind, or move to the Warren, an abandoned strip-mall-turned-refuge for other left-behinds. With a handful of other disaffected, forgotten kids, Zoë must find her place in a world that has consumed itself beyond redemption. She may be a last girl, but her name means “life,” and Zoë isn’t ready to disappear into the AllMART abyss. Zoë wants to live.

To learn more about this book and see our review, go HERE.

b2ap3_thumbnail_Blythe_Woolston.jpgAbout the Author

Blythe Woolston's first novel, The Freak Observer, won the William C. Morris Debut Award. She is also the author of Black Helicopters, an American Library Association Best Fiction for Young Adults Selection and a Montana Book Award Honor Book. Blythe Woolston lives in Billings, Montana.

Learn more Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Tumblr | Pinterest

Giveaway Details

10 winners will receive a hardcover copy of the book. US & Canada.

Entering is simple, just fill out the entry form below. Winners will be announced on this site and in our monthly newsletter (sign up now! ) within 30 days after the giveaway ends.

Subscribe to the E-Volt newsletter for Candlewick’s monthly YA e-book deals. Contestants need to enter their e-mail address in the form.

Click this link to enter.

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4. Feedback Request

The author of Antonov's Diamonds (most recently queried here) requests feedback on this new version:

Dear Evil Editor,

Former FBI consultant turned pawnbroker Flynn Christopher is asked by an old friend at the bureau to lend his brick and mortar store to run a sting involving fake credit cards. [That's more information than I care to deal with in the first sentence. Dividing the info into two parts with a colon, semicolon or period makes it less overwhelming.

Former FBI consultant Flynn Christopher is asked by a friend at the Bureau for a favor: let the FBI use Flynn's pawn shop for a sting operation involving fake credit cards.]

Their target is Alexei Antonov, an ex-Russian Colonel gone rogue. [Somehow when I read the phrase "ex-Russian Colonel gone rogue," I imagine him running a paramilitary operation, not a credit card scam.] [Possibly calling him a former Russian colonel would be better, as "ex-Russian makes us wonder what nationality he is now.] [In any case, that sentence belongs at the end of the first paragraph.] It should be a simple operation, but instead Antonov has something much bigger and deadlier on the horizon [in mind? in the works?]. At the meet and greet Antonov tells Flynn he plans to takeover [take over] a mine deep in the Ural mountain wilderness and steal millions in diamonds. [When the FBI asks to use your store for a sting, wouldn't they insert their own personnel into the store instead of giving you a major role?] The kicker is, he wants to use Flynn’s connection to the over five thousand members of the American Pawnbrokers Association to fence the stolen goods. [It still sounds like we're talking about stealing uncut diamonds fresh out of the mine. I don't see why pawnbrokers would be interested in that, nor am I convinced that many pawnbrokers would know who would be interested in that.] He leaves out that he is going to double cross and murder his partners in Russia. Flynn is in over his head when the FBI uses him as the bait to draw out Antonov and recover the stolen diamonds. [Still not clear why the FBI cares about diamonds stolen from a Ural Mountains mine. Is there a bigger threat to America than the possibility Antonov will make money selling stolen goods here?] The operation falls apart when Antonov decides he can’t trust Flynn and he has to die too.


Does Antonov have any scheme involving credit cards, and if not, why does the FBI think he does?

You got rid of Peter the Great, but other than that, this sounds pretty similar to the previous incarnation. The plot elements you're choosing to include are inspiring questions. You can leave out those elements or answer those questions.  

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5. Giveaway: The Beast of Cretacea by Todd Strasser (US & Canada Only)

The Beast of Cretacea

by Todd Strasser  

Release Date: 10/13/15


About the Book

Master storyteller Todd Strasser reimagines the classic tale of Moby Dick as set in the future—and takes readers on an epic sci-fi adventure. When seventeen-year-old Ishmael wakes up from stasis aboard the Pequod, he is amazed by how different this planet is from the dirty, dying, Shroud-covered Earth he left behind. But Ishmael isn’t on Cretacea to marvel at the fresh air, sunshine, and endless blue ocean. He’s here to work, risking his life to hunt down great ocean-dwelling beasts to harvest and send back to the resource-depleted Earth. Even though easy prey abounds, time and again the chase boat crews are ordered to ignore it in order to pursue the elusive Great Terrafin. It’s rumored that the ship’s captain, Ahab, lost his leg to the beast years ago, and that he’s now consumed by revenge. But there may be more to Captain Ahab’s obsession. Dark secrets and dangerous exploits swirl around the pursuit of the beast, and Ishmael must do his best to survive—if he can.

To learn more about this book and see our review, go HERE.

b2ap3_thumbnail_Todd_Strasser.jpgAbout the Author

Todd Strasser is the internationally best-selling author of numerous books for children and teens, including Fallout and the classics The Wave and Give a Boy a Gun, which are taught in classrooms around the world.

Learn more Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Tumblr | Pinterest


Giveaway Details

10 winners will receive a hardcover copy of the book. US & Canada.

Entering is simple, just fill out the entry form below. Winners will be announced on this site and in our monthly newsletter (sign up now! ) within 30 days after the giveaway ends.

Subscribe to the E-Volt newsletter for Candlewick’s monthly YA e-book deals. Contestants need to enter their e-mail address in the form.

Click this link to enter.

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6. Poetry Friday: That Music Always Round Me by Walt Whitman

That music always round me, unceasing, unbeginning - yet long untaught I did not hear;
But now the chorus I hear, and am elated;
A tenor, strong, ascending, with power and health, with glad notes of day-break I hear,
A soprano, at intervals, sailing buoyantly over the tops of immense waves,
A transparent bass, shuddering lusciously under and through the universe,
The triumphant tutti - the funeral wailings, with sweet flutes and violins - all these I fill myself with;
I hear not the volumes of sound merely - I am moved by the exquisite meanings,
I listen to the different voices winding in and out, striving, contending with fiery vehemence to excel each other in emotion;
I do not think the performers know themselves - but now I think I begin to know them.

- That Music Always Round Me by Walt Whitman

View all posts tagged as Poetry Friday at Bildungsroman.

View the roundup schedule at A Year of Reading.

Learn more about Poetry Friday.

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7. Hunter: Review

Oh, Hunter. You had so much potential. A book in which all of the monsters of our nightmares, myths, and legends are real and a teenage girl has the magic to fight them? I’m in. A book that’s a sort of post-apocalyptic, futuristic dystopian, fantasy mash up.  How could I resist being immediately drawn in by a premise that promises battle with dragons, vampires, Fae, and all manner of legendary creatures all in one book? Yes, please. Sign me up. Unfortunately, the execution of this idea left much to be desired. In Joy’s world, it has been 200 some years since the Diseray, an apocalyptic event that unleashed the monsters of myth into our world. Society has had some time to recover and rebuild, and there is at least one major city, though if there are more I have no idea. World building isn’t really a strength here. Joy is... Read more »

The post Hunter: Review appeared first on The Midnight Garden.

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8. Lucy and the Magic Loom - a bookwrap

This story is based upon the Rainbow Loom, the 2014 Toy of the Year (as per the American Toy Industry). If you have children or grandchildren chances are you have seen one. They are looms kids use with tiny rubber bands to create bracelets, keychains and more.

Fun facts...

*  The Magic Loom has sold over 8 million units worldwide along with 40 million rubber band packets.  

*  Now there is a delightful children’s book based on the Magic Loom toy – Lucy and the Magic Loom: A Rainbow Loomer’s Adventure Story.


Authored by Alice Downes

Ages:  6-10  (K-5th grade)

About the book...

Lucy Stillwater-Smith is twelve years old and her best friend, Alyssa Jones, has moved away to America leaving her feeling so alone and sad.  Her doctor parents work long hours, totally aborbed in their research, leaving her constantly with her nanny Abigail.  

She longs for adventure and some excitement in her life.  Then one day she notices a package outside her front door and rushes out to claim it.  Unfortunately it is not addressed to her but everything inside of her screams..."It's mine!"

She quickly opens up the gift and low and behold she discovers a loom - not an ordinary loom - but a golden magic one.  Delighted she follows the looms promptings which leads her to an old dusty bookcase and through a secret passageway into a world like non-other she had ever seen before.  

It is a magical, enchanted world with colourful creatures, castles and landscapes.  Lucy finds herself needing the help of the loom as she encounters many challenges.  Together they build a bridge, distract a giant beast, weave wings to fly and even rescue a girl imprisoned in a castle. 

Lucy uses her imagination and her looming skills to get her out of some very precarious situations in that bewitched world she finds herself in.  The story emphasizes kindness and a giving spirit.  It highlights the value of friendships and offering a helping hand to those in need.  

"Perfect for reluctant readers, "Lucy and the Magic Loom" is a necessary addition to any middle grade library, both at home and in the classroom."  I know you will enjoy this series. 

About the author...

Alice Downes is a freelance writer and innovative brand strategist. She has worked for companies such as Random House, Harper Collins, BBC, Nickelodeon, Disney, and many more.  She currently resides in New York City.

Read on and read always!

It's a wrap.

Contact me at storywrapsblog@gmail.com

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9. Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon

Genre: Contemporary

Release Date: 9/1/2015

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About the Book: Maddy has SCID, a disease which means she's allergic to everything. She never knows what could cause her to be sick, what could make her have an allergic reaction. She's been kept in her house with no one but her mom and nurse and her only access to the outside world is through the computer. Until the day Olly moves in next door, Maddy doesn't feel like she's missing out on much.  Olly and Maddy develop a friendship online and Maddy starts to wonder if there could be more to her life. But if there was, it wouldn't end well for Maddy.

GreenBeanTeenQueen Says: I honestly don't know what it was about this book that made me devour it and enjoy every moment. I've thought about and tried to put my finger on it what it was exactly, but I can only guess. Nicola Yoon's writing is addictive and her characters are just so real that I cared about them from the very beginning. I loved Maddy from the start and I kept telling myself, "ok, just one more chapter and then I'll go to bed." Two nights of staying up way too late later, I had devoured this book. And after I read it, I wanted to talk about it, to tell everyone about it.

I think part of my addiction with this novel was that it hit at just the right time. I was wanting something I could just get lost in and want to gulp down in one sitting and Everything, Everything really fit that for me. I was immediately drawn into Maddy's story, her life, and just like Maddy, I wanted to befriend Olly too. The storyline was different as well which really made me want to keep reading. It's a teen sickness/romance/friendship book but it's also not and I loved that about it. I also love the fact that Maddy is biracial and that's just a fact in the story. This isn't an issue story about race and Maddy's African American/Asian American background is part of who she is and I love that.

I really feel like teens are going to go crazy over this one and absolutely love it. It will for sure appeal to fans of stories like The Fault in Our Stars and Eleanor and Park, but I think even readers who don't typically read those books will enjoy this one-the hard part will be selling them on it. This is for sure one for readers who like sad books, but also for readers who like hopeful books and I hope readers won't shy away from it just because they think it will make them cry.

Sure, some of the story got a little silly, but that's also part of it's charm. Maddy and Olly are two teens who aren't always going to make the best choices and their actions fit with their characters. My heart broke and then was put back together and I loved every moment.

There's so much more I want to say about this book, but I feel like if I do, I'll ruin the experience for you and I want you to experience it like I did, so I won't say much more. Only that my warning is that if you pick this one up, you won't be putting it down until you're finished!

Full Disclosure: Reviewed from e-galley sent by publisher for review

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10. Three Questions For Barney Saltzberg: Advice For Young Writers, Pencil Sharpener Inspiration and INSIDE THIS BOOK (ARE THREE BOOKS)

Barney Saltzberg is the author and illustrator of close to 50 books for children, including Beautiful Oops!, Arlo Needs Glasses, Andrew Drew and Drew, and the bestselling Touch and Feel Kisses series with over one million copies in print. Not only that, but he's also recorded four albums of music for young people (!). See the children's concert clip later in this post.

I was lucky enough to meet Barney at ALA earlier this year and more recently discovered his BEAUTIFUL OOPS!...I can't believe I missed this wonderful book before! Those of you who've seen my found object art demos can guess why I fell in love with this book. Do check out Barney's Celebrate Oops! campaign, an initiative designed to build confidence and turn accidents into teaching moments.

You can find out more about Barney and his work at his website, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and YouTube.

Synopsis of INSIDE THIS BOOK (ARE THREE BOOKS) from Abrams:

"Inside This Book is a tribute to self-publishing in its most pure and endearing form. Three siblings create three books of their own using blank paper that they bind together (in descending sizes to match birth order). One sibling’s work inspires the next, and so on, with each book’s text and art mirroring the distinct interests and abilities of its creator. Upon completion of their works, the siblings put one book inside the other, creating a new book to be read and shared by all!"

Q. Could you please take a photo of something in your office and tell us the story behind it?

I photographed an electric pencil sharpener that my picture book writing teacher extraordinaire, Barbara Bottner gave me when I was working on my very first book which she mentored me through. It mean so much that she believe in me enough to work with me above and beyond, and for her to think enough of my work to give me a pencil sharpener to encourage my drawing. I couldn’t help but add the giant pencil to the photo. It is only fitting. This was a present from my wife and children many years ago. Talk about support and encouragement to dream big! Both of these are important mementos in my studio.

When I was in elementary school, my teachers often sent me home with notes; “Your son has potential, but we don’t know what to do with him.” I am sure that if I were in school now, I would be diagnosed with a number of learning issues. Luckily, I had a teacher, Mr. Maurer, in the fifth grade. He realized I couldn’t spell, (or multiply, or conjugate, etc;) but he recognized that I was a story teller. I wrote a book that was inspired by this years ago called, (Phoebe and the Spelling Bee) Every week, the day before our spelling test, Mr. Maurer would give me the spelling list and have me make up a story on the spot, in front of the class. I never practiced. I winged it every week. I loved the challenge. Looking back at my childhood, I realize that Mr. Mauer found a way to let me shine, in an otherwise, dismal time in an academic setting. He was a truly amazing teacher.

That’s a long winded introduction to my life as an author/illustrator. I find myself standing in front of thousands of students every year as I travel around the world. It never ceases to amaze me that I am being given an opportunity to address children. When I was in school, drilling a hole in the clock with my eyes as I willed it to be 3:00 so I could go home, I never imagined that I would return to so many schools as a published author. (And, love being there!) I always make a point of saying, “For those of you wondering, if you don’t give up, it gets better! I am the poster child for tenacity.” (Then I explain what tenacity means!)

Q. What advice do you have for young writers?

My advice for any writer is to be open. So many of us are certain we have the next ‘big thing’. My story has seventeen sequels. I see it as a movie. If things go right, there could even be a theme park modeled after this book. Dolls, toys, etc. SLOW DOWN. Editors are really smart. Listen to them. I have learned to ‘sleep on it’ for a night (at least) when an editor makes suggestions. This would also go for a critique group as well. Try on the suggestions and see how it feels. I also recommend reading your work out loud while you are proofing things. Also, have someone else read it out loud to you. You will have an opportunity to ‘hear’ your story in a way that is only possible when someone else reads it to you. Also, you know how to read your own stories and it is really helpful to see if the reader gets tripped up or lost or better yet, if they fall in love with your story. That will usually only happen after a million and six re-writes.

Q. What are you excited about right now?

My current book is one I published with Abrams, Appleseed Press called, Inside This Book (Are Three Books). I am a huge Emily Gravett fan and she opened my mind when it comes to the physicality of books. I had done many interactive books like Beautiful Oops and A Little Bit Of Oomph before, but I started adding flaps to some of my picture books as well. Chengdu Could Not, Would Not Fall Asleep, and Andrew Drew and Drew are all picture books with additional flaps. As a musician, I am really aware of the rhythm of a page turn so having the additional flaps in a picture book adds to the way a story unfolds. (Literally and figuratively) Inside This Book (Are Three Books) is a story about three siblings who are given three different sized blank books and how each child creates their own, individual book and what they do with them. Physically, it’s like Russian dolls, with books. I was delighted that Abrams was open to the concept of binding three sequentially smaller books inside of one book. My hope is that this book will help to inspire a whole crop of budding writers and illustrators.


For more interviews, see my Inkygirl Interview Archive.

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11. Sunny Side Up (2015)

Sunny Side Up. Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm. 2015. Scholastic. 224 pages. [Source: Review copy]

Sunny Side Up is a graphic novel, a coming-of-age story starring Sunny Lewin. It is set in August 1976. It wasn't Sunny's first vacation choice to go visit her grandfather in Florida. The family had planned on a beach vacation, a vacation where Sunny's best friend could come too. But family troubles--troubles concerning Sunny's older brother--changed everything. Now Sunny is on her own for this trip and visiting her grandfather in his retirement community. Flashes reveal much in this one, readers learn about Sunny's life in Pennsylvania: her friends, her family, and what led to this vacation.

I liked this one. I did. I don't read many graphic novels per year--at most three or four. But I am SO GLAD I read Sunny Side Up. I loved the setting. I love stories featuring grandparents and the senior community. I love the main character, Sunny. I loved, loved, loved how by the end of vacation she had found her voice and REALLY opened up. I also loved that she made a new friend and had a few adventures with someone her own age. I loved that she discovered comic books and super heroes. Some of the pages devoted to her discovering super heroes were among my favorites. And I LOVED the ending.

Overall this one is oh-so-easy to recommend. Even to readers who don't typically read graphic novels.

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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12. Back to the “stove front”: an oral history project about Cuban housewives

We recently asked you to tell us to send us your reflections, stories, and the difficulties you’ve faced while doing oral history. This week, we bring you another post in this series, focusing on an oral history project from Carmen Doncel and Henry Eric Hernández. We encourage you to to chime into the discussion, comment below or on our Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, and G+ pages.

The post Back to the “stove front”: an oral history project about Cuban housewives appeared first on OUPblog.

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13. Aaron Eiland’s Picture Book Featured On Kickstarter

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14. My tweets

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15. New Melissa Lozada-Oliva Poetry Video Unleashed

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16. Johnson Museum of Art Hosts a Kurt Vonnegut Exhibit

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17. What To Do With Toned Paper Background

A couple of weeks ago I blogged about my experiences with the Strathmore toned paper sketchbook (you can read the blogpost by clicking here), and how I had this aha-moment when i started drawing interiors, using pen and color pencils. I have another one of these Strathmore books, with grey paper in it, and decided to dedicate it to interiors. maybe also exteriors though - anyway: places.
Here's my first stab at it:

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18. Old Yeti

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19. Santa, a work in progress

Screen Shot 2015-09-04 at 8.26.20 AMSanta is coming and he will have a body and some "friends" once this piece is completed. I just wanted to share what I'm up to these days, besides teaching our new dog, Opie, how to sit, and walk pretty on a leash.

As with all my illustrations, this is 100% vector. There are no fancy effects, or transparency. A few gradients are used, but most of the "shading" comes from the zig-zag of hundreds of triangles.


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20. Lumos Releases a New Video Message from JK Rowling

Lumos has released a new video message from J.K. Rowling about the dangers of institutionalization of children, and the hope that Lumos provides. Just as in the previous video, J.K. Rowling narrates an animated video that tells of 8 million children in orphanages, 80% of which who are not orphans.

This video doesn’t give specific statistics on suicide, prostitution, and crime that institutionalized children are more likely to be prey too, as the last video did, but the video is still amazing. Please watch this wonderful video below, and at the Lumos Website.



Once again, we thank and support J.K. Rowling for bring a voice to the voiceless, and raising awareness for 8 million children who would otherwise go unnoticed. If you would like to make a donation to Lumos, or find out how to be come more involved, please visit wearelumos.org.

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21. Step by Step, Word by Word


Twenty-three years ago this summer I backpacked down the Grand Canyon’s Kaibab Trail with seven kids from my youth group and came up Bright Angel a week later. Each day we packed our gear at three in the morning so we could begin our hike before the heat kicked in full blast. By the last morning of the trip, I was utterly spent. The steep climb out of the canyon left me feeling like maybe I wouldn’t make it. Maybe I’d be stuck on that trail forever.

I stopped moving about a half mile from the canyon’s rim, unsure how to muster up the strength to keep going. It didn’t matter I could see the end. Getting there felt near impossible.


That’s when I experienced a simple act of kindness that has lived with me ever since. My youth sponsor, Jim, told me I wouldn’t finish alone. We’d make it to the top together, one hundred steps at a time. Step by step we counted, resting after every set. While before the half mile had felt unsurmountable, broken down in tiny bits with someone else to walk beside me, it was doable. It was accomplishment and gratitude and so much celebration.

As I near the end of a complete manuscript overhaul in the midst of first-round edits (the second time I’ve re-written this book, by the way), I’ve thought a lot about that moment. I’m a few weeks out from my deadline, and honestly, I’m not sure of the words needed to make it to the end. Right now my focus must be each tiny writing moment, where the story moves forward, step by step.

Friends, I need an extra dose of courage and a second wind, if you have any to offer. Things will be quiet around here until I’ve turned my work in.



The post Step by Step, Word by Word appeared first on Caroline Starr Rose.

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23. Free print-ready poster: Tim Federle quote about books

I've added a new print-ready poster to my For The Love Of Reading page:

You can download the poster here.

For more free print-ready literacy posters, activity sheets, bookmarks and more, see For The Love Of Reading. You can also browse my full Print-Ready Archive for teachers, librarians and young readers.

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24. Stirring the Plot with Isolation

Earliest man lived in small tribes. With fewer people, they relied on each other more. Such is the stuff of Historicals, Westerns, and Literary pioneer stories. When people died, especially in large numbers due to disease, famine, or drought, it preyed on the survivors' mortal fear of being alone. These stakes can heighten a story problem or create a scene conflict.

If the population of a planet is dying, Dick has an overall story problem.

If Jane feels alone in her marriage, she has a personal dilemma or overall story problem.

The situation in a dark, spooky mansion is heightened if Dick is alone, as would a perfectly normal forest. A planet would be terrifying if he was the only surviving astronaut.

The smaller the population, the higher the stakes of survival and the more claustrophobic the situation becomes. Put Dick in a city of a thousand people and he can easily get lost in the throng. That makes a good Mystery. Putting ten people in a space station makes a great Science Fiction story. Killing them off one by one makes a great Thriller or Horror story. Post apocalyptic stories explore our fear of being alone and the desire for survivors to find one another. Science Fiction stories explore our desire to not be alone in the universe.

On a personal level, most of us prefer to live with someone. A few thrive on the freedom of living alone.

How far is Jane willing to go to feel connected? Jane may marry someone she does not love, become friends with someone she wouldn’t otherwise, build a robot so she has a companion, join an organization she does not agree with, or draw a face on a football so she has someone to talk to on a deserted island.

How far is Dick willing to go to live alone? He might rent a cabin in the Dakota badlands or buy an island and find out he needs people after all.

Characters who are hurt by something or someone often withdraw from the people around them. Some do it for a week, others a month, at the most extreme end they withdraw from life entirely.

At the scene level Dick may need to be alone to accomplish something but all his well-meaning friends keep dropping by to chat.

Dick may momentarily find himself in an empty house, which creates the perfect opportunity for the ghost to visit.

Isolation adds an element of creepiness to any situation. It is a keystone of Horror stories. The characters must be trapped in a building, a city or on a planet from which there is no escape, so they must turn and face the horror instead of run away from it.

Isolation is critical in a Gothic novel for the same reason. The hapless governess cannot simply walk away from the creepy plantation house. She can’t board a bus or walk into a Starbucks. She can’t have a cell phone – not one that works anyway – or call a cab. She needs to be isolated so that she is forced to unravel the mystery or uncover the secret instead of running away at the first sign of trouble.

Isolation is also a key component of YA because so many teens feel isolated: from their family, their peers, their world. Isolation leads to depression and anxiety and feelings of low self-esteem. The character can realize they aren’t alone after all. They can graduate high school and find their “soul mate” friends in college. They can leave their all-Caucasian neighborhood to live in a predominantly Hispanic one and find themselves at home, or find the new community has its share of issues to contend with.

In a Literary story, Sally might embrace her mid-life crisis by selling up and moving to a house in Italy only to realize the locals don’t want her there. All that high life and camaraderie she expected are denied her. The doors remain shut but the curtains are pulled to the side so they can spy on her. Sally sits in her wilting, rustic money pit an unscrupulous salesman talked her into and realizes she should have stayed at home. It was boring but people liked and accepted her there. If murders start happening, it could become a Mystery and Sally the sleuth forced to solve them. In a Thriller, someone could want her to leave their family home and she becomes the target.

In a Romance, the opposite could happen. Sally could feel isolated in her home town because all of her friends have moved away or moved on. Her family might not be supportive or emotionally connected. She kicks the traces and runs off to a charming seaside cottage in Ireland and finds the circle of friends she desperately needed and a lad with a charming brogue to keep her warm at night.

If Sally’s best friend is moving away, in a sense abandoning her, the situation can cause subtle conflict as Sally attempts to overcome the overall story problem or a momentary distraction at scene level.

You can use isolation to fuel any genre at any story level. 

For more obstacles that create conflict, pick up a copy of Story Building Blocks II: Crafting Believable Conflict in print or E-book version.

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25. Courage & Defiance Blog Tour

Courage & Defiance: Stories of Spies, Saboteurs, and Survivors in World War II Denmark by Deborah Hopkinson Scholastic Press, 2015 ISBN: 978-0-545-59220-8 Grades 5 and up We're pleased to participate in the Courage & Defiance blog tour today. Deborah Hopkinson won a Sibert Honor for Titanic: Voices from the Disaster in 2013, which was a popular book with the middle grade readers in my library.

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