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1. Watch for it: DASH


 
Although Mitsi Kashino and her family are swept up in the wave of anti-Japanese sentiment following the attack on Pearl Harbor, Mitsi never expects to lose her home – or her beloved dog, Dash when she’s forced to move to an incarceration camp.

Kirby Larson  swings by readergirlz to chat with Janet Lee Carey  about her new middle-grade novel, DASH.

 

 
JLC - Welcome Kirby. Congratulations on your new historical fiction book and on the 2014 National Parenting Publications Gold Award (NAPPA) for DASH!

KL –  Thanks, Janet! It’s an honor to visit with you. And I am so delighted about the NAPPA award, as well as the two starred reviews, for my new book.

JLC - Tell us what inspired you to write Dash.

KL – I grew up on the West Coast and did not learn about the “evacuation” of 120,000 people of Japanese descent – most of them American citizens – during WWII until I was in college. I was shocked that something of that magnitude could have been omitted from my education. So I began to try to learn as much as I could about it; when I became a writer, I wanted to tell stories from that time period in hopes that no other child would grow up in ignorance about that shameful slice of history. One of the texts I read, Strawberry Days by Dave Niewert, had a short snippet of an interview with a woman named Mitsue Shiraishi, who told about being so heartbroken at the thought of having to leave her dog behind during the “evacuation” that she wrote to the man in charge, General John DeWitt, asking for permission to take her beloved Chubby to camp. He said “no,” so now Mitsi had a few days to find a home for Chubby; fortunately, a kind neighbor, Mrs. Charles Bovee, agreed to take him in.
 
Mrs. Charles knew how much Mitsi loved her dog so she kept a diary, in Chubby’s voice, of his first weeks in the Bovee household, and then mailed it to Mitsi at camp. Mitsi died as a very old woman and when her family was cleaning out her apartment, they found that diary in her nightstand. I was struck by the fact that of all the horrible things that had happened to Mitsi, the thing she held onto was a symbol of kindness and compassion. That heart hook into the story, plus the fact that I am madly in love with my own dog and couldn’t imagine having to leave him behind, lead me to write Dash.

JLC – Would you tell us a bit about your research, and give us a peek into your writing process?

KL – Do you have all day? ;-) As a researcher, I leave no stone unturned. For example, when I read that snippet about Mitsi in Mr. Niewert’s book, I began to reach out to everyone I knew in the Japanese American community to see if I could find Mitsi’s family. I did and they generously provided me with stories, photographs, and other ephemera to help me understand what Mitsi went through. I listen to music of the time period I’m researching, dig up recipes, put together outfits my characters might have worn (Pinterest is great for this!), and even scour second hand stores and eBay for old journals, letters and diaries to give me insights into the past. What I work hardest to find are primary resources – they are essential for helping me conjure up those delicious details that bring the past to life.

As for my writing process, it is a huge mess! I just jump in and start writing – no outline. No plan. What I do first, however, is get to know my character as thoroughly as possible. My work is very character driven.

JLC – The Kirkus starred review says: “Mitsi holds tight to her dream of the end of the war and her reunion with Dash. Larson makes this terrible event in American history personal with the story of one girl and her beloved pet.”
Would you share the secret of writing historical fiction in a way that makes it personal and real for young readers?

KL – I’m so flattered by this lovely review. I wish I knew the secret! What I do know is that if I don’t do my homework – really get myself grounded in a past time and place—I would never stand a chance of making history personal.

JLC – #WeNeedDiverseBooks is an important and long-awaited topic in the book world right now. Thoughts?

KL-   I am thrilled this conversation is taking place. Children need to see themselves – deserve to see themselves! -- in literature of all kinds. I do have a worry, however, that “diversity” could come to mean only ethnicity. It would be a shame to set such limits.

I’ve said this elsewhere: as a kid who grew up wearing hand me downs and sometimes finding the kitchen cupboards completely bare, I would have died and gone to heaven had I found books like Barbara O’Connor’s How to Steal a Dog or Janet Lee Carey’s The Double Life of Zoe Flynn, in which the main character is homeless. I hope and pray this #WeNeedDiverseBooks campaign leads to an even richer and broader range of the kinds of kid characters and stories we’ll see in children’s and young adult literature.

JLC— What would you like readers to take away from this book?

KL – I want readers to take away their own meaning from all of my books. But if Dash made readers stop and think about what it means to be a decent human being, I wouldn’t mind that one bit.

By Kirby Larson
Scholastic, 10/2014


 

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2. Pearson Picks First Book to Oversee the ‘We Need Books’ Digital Platform

First BookThe First Book organization will be overseeing a digital platform called “We Need Books.” The website features 300 beloved children’s books that youngsters, guardians, and educators can access using a tablet or computer.

The Pearson Foundation and Penguin Group (USA) originally developed this project and launched it 4 years ago. Pearson will also be donating $1.3 million to First Book.

Here’s more from the press release: “In addition to inspiring lifelong readers, We Give Books also provides a platform for giving back. Books read at www.wegivebooks.org trigger donations of new books that are given to programs and classrooms serving children in need…By assuming control of We Give Books and associated programming initiatives – including the 2015 Read for My School program in the United Kingdom – First Book adds the distribution of digital books to its growing catalog of offerings for under-resourced classrooms and community organizations.”

New Career Opportunities Daily: The best jobs in media.

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3. Howard B. Wigglebottom Learns About Courage

Howard B. Wigglebottom Learns About Courage
Author: Howard Binkow
Illustrator: Jeremy Norton
Publisher: Thunderbolt Publishing
Genre: Children
ISBN: 978-098261657-4
Pages: 32
Price: $15.00

Author’s website
Buy it at Amazon

Howard B. Wigglebottom is afraid of creatures lurking under his bed, loud noises, dogs, and the first day of school. He decides he can’t face any of them, so he’s never coming out of his room again. But when he meets a young bird who bravely flies for the first time, Howard realizes he doesn’t always have to be afraid. In fact, he can only really be courageous in the face of fear.

Howard decides to face all his fears head-on. With supportive friends and family, he does the very things he fears the most, and finds out that they’re not as terrifying as he thought. And when the first day of school arrives, he’s ready to face it courageously.

Children face many fears as they encounter the world around them. Some fears are healthy, such as those that protect them from harm. But some fears are really just a worry about the unknown, and these only prevent kids from trying something new. Howard is a great role model as he faces his own fears, conquering them in the process.

Reviewer: Alice Berger


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4. Review of Into the Grey

kiernan into the grey Review of Into the GreyInto the Grey
by Celine Kiernan
Middle School, High School    Candlewick    295 pp.
8/14    978-0-7636-7061-0    $16.99
e-book ed.  978-0-7636-7409-0    $16.99

When their home burns down, twin teens Patrick and Dominick move with their family to the shabby seaside cottage where they usually spend summer holidays. Almost at once, Pat sees that Dom is being haunted by the ghost of a young boy, while Pat himself is visited by nightmares of a soldier drowning in the muddy trenches of World War I. Eventually Dom is utterly possessed by Francis, the ghost of a boy who died of diphtheria decades ago, and Pat is desperate to do what he can to retrieve his brother. Family and local history come together as the twisting plot makes its way toward resolution: another pair of twin brothers, a senile grandmother, Irish lads turned British soldiers, and a series of surreal dreams and psychic landscapes all fall into place. Sometimes Kiernan’s storytelling is fraught and overdrawn; at its best it is confident, pungent, and poetic. Family love, loyalty, and protectiveness are palpable in a well-drawn cast of characters, and the pace is frequently galvanized with energetic drama and dialogue pierced with Irish dialect.

From the September/October 2014 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

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5. Where Andy Nakatani Thinks Weekly Shonen Jump Is Heading

For a lot of reasons, I was only able to speak to most of the people I talked to at NYCC for a short period. Here’s another somewhat brief one that also happened unexpectedly: my interview with Editor-in-Chief of the English, or US version, of Weekly Shonen Jump, Andy Nakatani. Andy didn’t exactly know what ... Read more

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6. School Visits!

Please click on the image to enlarge.

schoolvisitsflat

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7. Judith Regan’s New Multimedia Company to Release Book on Virtual Reality

Virtual RealityPublishing veteran Judith Regan has become the head of a Phaidon Global multimedia company called Regan Arts.

According to the press release, the first publication is an educational title called Virtual Reality Beginner’s Guide. A release date has been scheduled for October 28th.

TechCrunch staffer Frederic Lardinois and DODOcase co-founder Patrick Buckley collaborated on writing this book; Buckley also worked on the design. It comes with a VR Smartphone Viewer Toolkit that works with all smartphones universally including the latest Apple iPhone devices.

New Career Opportunities Daily: The best jobs in media.

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8. App of the Week: 2048

2048
Title: 2048
Cost: Free
Platform: iOS and Android

2048 may be 2 to the eleventh power, but it’s also the name of a game I have noticed a lot of people playing lately. It’s based on a paid game, Threes!, which has won numerous game design awards, but the story behind 2048 involves a teen game developer, Gabriele Cirulli who tackled the design as a weekend project then released the game as open-source so that anyone can use the code behind it to build their own versions. You can play through a browser as well.

screen568x568 (1)
 
This game really doesn’t support STEM — the applicability of math to success is minimal. Instead, you combine the same numbers to perform the additive operation. But the real challenge is in thinking ahead and positioning your number tiles. Moving one tiles moves ALL the tiles, and the number of moves available to you are finite.

screen568x568

It’s easy to see how 2048 builds adopts the gaming strategies in Threes!. There are many, many knock-off versions of these games around, and much digital ink has been spilled from both amateur and professional quarters discussing strategies. There are ads in the free version, too. But for free, 2048 is an easy way to give these sorts of games a go. As Wired categorized them, these are games that are “Hard Enough to Be Played Forever.”

Have a suggestion for an App of the Week? Let us know. And check out more YALSA Apps of the Week in our archive.

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9. On writing historical nonfiction.

I really should update this more than once a month or whatever.

Still moving along on the Civil War book. Pulling in quotes from all over to help with the writing of each story -- other eyewitness accounts of Gettysburg, Chancellorsville, life in the prisoner-of-war camp at Andersonville and Florence, etc. Often the historical record for these women is scanty, so I have to add in details from other sources.

Picked up The Boys' War by Jim Murphy at the book sale -- he does good work in children's books. Never dry, always lively and historically accurate. I'm using that little volume as a writing model to help me along. Also I have McCullough's Truman in the back of my mind (always). David always used so many sources and neat little stories to keep us entertained and learning at the same time. He keeps stopping by the Truman Library and I keep missing him. Dang it!

The thing with writing about these women is that there are so many romanticized stories out there about them, and I have to really dig to find something that's historically accurate. On some of the women, I've found some scholarly articles that give solid facts about their lives, and this is a huge help. But on some of the women, all I have are the newspaper accounts which go on and on about how wonderful this gal is to follow her husband into war, how romantic this is -- and I'm going, yeah, yeah, can we have an actual account of where she was on the battlefield and what she was doing?

Getting the writing done is the tricky part -- and that's a reason I don't get on here much, because I know full well I'm procrastinating right now!

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10. Here come the Yankees

It’s not easy being a Yankees fan in Boston. Just ask my husband. Or Ben Affleck. (It’s ok, son. Let it out. We won’t judge. #dothprotesttoomuch)

Here are three new children’s books that will have Yankees fans cheering. And not the Bronx cheer, either.

jeter contract Here come the YankeesDerek Jeter hung up his cleats earlier this year, and now he’s starting his own imprint. The Contract (written with Paul Mantell) is about a boy, named Derek Jeter, who chases his dreams of playing in the Major Leagues. According to an author’s note, it’s “based on some of my experiences growing up and playing baseball,” and the “theme” of the book is: “Set Your Goals High.” Third-grade Derek (the character) is remarkably — and unrealistically — self-possessed and self-aware. No matter; Jeter fans will get a kick out of this kid-version of their hero.

rivera thecloser final Here come the YankeesThe Closer by Mariano Rivera (with Sue Corbett and Wayne Coffee) is an adaptation for young readers of Mo’s memoir about growing up in a fishing village in Panama. (The attention-grabbing first line: “You don’t mess around with machetes. I learn that as a little kid…”) He works hard, gains the attention of a baseball scout, and blossoms into a baseball superstar while remaining an all-around nice guy. Didactic “Notes from Mo” inspirational-message anecdotes are interspersed. With an eight-page color-photo insert.

appel pinstripe pride Here come the YankeesPinstripe Pride: The Inside Story of the New York Yankees is a young readers’ version of the adult book Pinstripe Empire written by Marty Appel, former Yankees PR director. It’s a history of the Yankees juggernaut — the team’s highs and lows — with a little social history thrown in as well. Those Bostonians who don’t root for the home team will be happy to have this resource (though maybe throw on a paper-bag book cover if you’re going outside).

The World Series starts tonight. Needless to say, the Yanks won’t win it (neither will the Sox; it’s the Giants v. Royals), but kids can relive the memories with these Bronx Bombers books.

Bonus: here are a couple more baseball booklists.

 

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11. Samuel T. Moore of Corte Magore Special Price for October!

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I’ve arranged a special hardcover book price for October. You can order an autographed book for $12.99 + shipping.

Stock up for the perfect holiday gift for that little loved one in your life.

Cheers!

Tonia Allen Gould


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12. Constantin Film to Reboot ‘The Mortal Instruments’ as a TV Series

City of BonesConstantin Film plans to create a TV show based on the Mortal Instruments books. Last year, the movie studio released a movie version of the first installment in Cassandra Clare’s young adult series, City of Bones.

The story for the TV show will follow the plot from City of Bones. No announcements have been made as to whether or not the stars of the film adaptation, Lily Collins and Jamie Campbell Bower, will come on board for this project to reprise their roles as Clary Fray and Jace Wayland.

According to the press release, Bob Shaye and Michael Lynne, two filmmakers who worked on the feature film, will serve as executive producers for the TV show. Ed Decter has signed on as the showrunner.

New Career Opportunities Daily: The best jobs in media.

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13. Dark Horse Comics Offers Star Wars Humble Bundle Deal

Star WarsDark Horse Comics has formed a partnership with Humble Bundle. The two organizations have crafted a digital comics package tailored for Star Wars fans.

According to the press release, this deal makes it so that “fans of the epic sci-fi franchise can pay what they want for up to $190 worth of digital comics.” Buyers who pay $15.00 or more will have access to a total of 89 different titles.

Customers can choose whether the funds go towards the publishing house or the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund. This Humble Bundle deal will be made available until October 29th. What do you think?

New Career Opportunities Daily: The best jobs in media.

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14. My visual summary re. musings about Life. There’s a bit...



My visual summary re. musings about Life. There’s a bit that could be noted about tango dancing & eating sorbet, but this covers the basics.



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15. KidLit Events Oct. 21-Nov. 3

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We have a great variety of events happening this week. Take in an author’s visit, a writing workshop, a literacy fundraiser or a poetry presentation. As always, please visit the sponsoring bookstore or organization’s website for full details.

October 22, Wednesday, 5:00 PM UNDIVIDED by Neal Schusterman
Blue Willow Bookshop
Neal Shusterman, YA Author

Neal Shusterman will discuss and sign UNDIVIDED, the last book in the bestselling UNWIND Dystology for young adults. Teens control the fate of America in the fourth and final book in the NYT bestselling Unwind dystology. Proactive Citizenry, the company that created Cam from the parts of unwound teens, has a plan: to mass produce rewound teens like Cam for military purposes. And below the surface of that horror lies another shocking level of intrigue: Proactive Citizenry has been suppressing technology that could make unwinding completely unnecessary. As Conner, Risa, and Lev uncover these startling secrets, enraged teens begin to march on Washington to demand justice and a better future.

But more trouble is brewing. Starkey’s group of storked teens is growing more powerful and militant with each new recruit. And if they have their way, they’ll burn the harvest camps to the ground and put every adult in them before a firing squad—which could destroy any chance America has for a peaceful future.

October 23, Wednesday, 7:00 PM DINOTOPIA by James Gurney
Geren Auditorium, College of Architecture, Texas A&M University
James Gurney, Author/Illustrator

Illustrator event! Join SCBWI-BV, as we attend a free lecture, featuring  James Gurney, author and illustrator of the DINOTOPIA series. James Gurney specializes in painting realistic images of scenes that can’t be photographed, from dinosaurs to ancient civilizations. He is also a dedicated plein air (outdoor) painter and sketcher, believing that making studies directly from observation fuels his imagination.This is sponsored by The Academy for the Visual and Performing Arts (AVPA) at Texas A&M University.

October 23, Wednesday, 10:30 – 12:30 and 12:30 to 1:30
The George Bush Library and Museum, College Station
Wayne Edwards, The Family Poet
Free. For grades 3-8 and adult learners; Reservations are advised.  

Comic poet Wayne Edwards will present his latest book of rhyming poetry for children, KIDS ONLY LAND. Through discussion of the three R’s of rhyming verse – Rhyme, Rhythm, and Repetition – he helps inspire interest in both reading poetry for pleasure and writing one’s own as a form of art. His humorous illustrations of poems engage and delight all ages. Contact bushlibrary.tamu.edu or email bush.education@nara.gov, or 979 691 4006 for telephone reservations.

October 25, Saturday, 1:00-4:00 PM Jessica Cappelle
Writespace
Jessica Cappelle: Workshop—Worldbuilding
PRICE: $ 35.00

Jesicca Capelle will lead a workshop at Write Space: How to World-build in Every Genre: World-building is a term that many people associate with science fiction and fantasy, but all novels require careful crafting of the world of the characters. This workshop will take writers through the process of creating a world that feels “real,” whether that world might be down the street or across the universe. We’ll look at using actual and imagined settings in realistic fiction, recreating the past for historical fiction, transforming landscapes based on alternate history and future developments, and venturing to new planets and high-fantasy worlds. We’ll learn what to consider when crafting both the society and culture of a setting and the environment of the characters’ daily lives. Lastly, we’ll discuss the importance of knowing much more about your world than readers will ever see, as well as how to decide what details to share without “dumping” too much on readers. Come prepared to apply these lessons to your own writing through exercises designed to help you connect more deeply with the details of your story’s world. We will discover how to craft “believable” worlds through careful study of excerpts from adult and children’s books in many genres including well-known works such as The Help, Gone Girl, The Hunger Games, Water for Elephants, The Hobbit, and The Graveyard Book.

October 28, Tuesday, 7:00 PM FROM SEA TO SHINING SEA by Callista Gingrich; Illustrated by Susan Aciero
Blue Willow Bookshop
Callista Gingrich, Children’s Author, with Newt Gingrich, Adult Nonfiction Author

Callista Gingrich will meet and greet customers and sign her new book, FROM SEA TO SHINING SEA. Callista Gingrich shares a new adventure into American history with Ellis the Elephant as he explores the untamed wilderness with Lewis and Clark. He learns about the Louisiana Purchase, the two explorers’ epic journey across the North American continent, and the amazing discoveries and innovation it sparked.

Appearing with Callista will be author Newt Gingrich with his new adult nonfiction title, BREAKOUT.

November 1, Saturday, 10:00 AM- Noon, & 1:30-4:30 PM Kathy Duval
Writespace
Kathy Duval: Picture Book Workshop
PRICE: $ 85.00

Kathy Duval will present  Make It Shine!: Polish Your Picture Book Manuscript to Its Full Potential. A successful picture book is an art form combining lyrical language and dynamic images, each dependent on the other.  To compete, your work must shine, as well as follow the conventions of today’s crowded market.

This hands-on revision workshop will take a fresh look at your characters, setting, plot, and picture book language. Participants will complete exercises to polish their prose, as well as create a dummy to see how your text fits into a picture book format. Feedback in small groups will help you take your picture book to the next level.

November 1, Saturday, 10:00 AM-1:00 PM
Hilton Americas, 1600 Lamar Street
Read3Zero 5th Anniversary Luncheon
Price: Ticket costs vary. Click here for more details and to purchase tickets.

Houston non-profit literacy organization, READ3Zero, will honor students nationwide at a memorable Luncheon and Book Signing event for this year’s winners of the I Write Short Stories For Kids By Kids contest and celebrate the organization’s 5th anniversary. The event will feature the works of 55 published student authors and illustrators. The Keynote speaker will be Neil Bush, chairman to the Barbara Bush Houston Literacy Foundation, and the event will be emceed by Deborah Duncan of Great Day Houston.

November 3, Monday, 7:00 PM IN THE AFTERLIGHT by Alexandra Bracken
Blue Willow Bookshop
Alexandra Bracken, YA Author

Alexandra Bracken, NYT bestselling author of THE DARKEST MINDS and NEVER FADE, will discuss and sign IN THE AFTERLIGHT, the finale in the DARKEST MINDS series for young adults. Ruby can’t look back. Having suffered an unbearable loss, she and the kids who survived the government’s attack on Los Angeles travel north to regroup. Ruby tries to keep their highly dangerous prisoner in check, but with Clancy Gray, there’s no guarantee you’re fully in control, and everything comes with a price.

When the Children’s League disbands, Ruby becomes a leader and forms an unlikely allegiance with Liam’s brother, Cole, who has a volatile secret of his own. There are still thousands of other Psi kids suffering in government “rehabilitation camps” all over the country. Freeing them–revealing the government’s unspeakable abuses in the process–is the mission Ruby has claimed since her own escape from Thurmond, the worst camp in the country.

But not everyone is supportive of the plan Ruby and Cole craft to free the camps. As tensions rise, competing ideals threaten the mission to uncover the cause of IANN, the disease that killed most of America’s children and left Ruby and others with powers the government will kill to keep contained. With the fate of a generation in their hands, there is no room for error. One wrong move could be the spark that sets the world on fire.

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16. Exclusive: Di$ney Grabs Marvels Infinity Gauntlet Of Greed....or do they?


I'm sorry but do comic readers really want ANOTHER Marvel "Major Event" in 2015? Do all these "major events" all tie-in (possibly)?  Do we really want more of Hickman's messy stories?

I really am glad I'm out of this because if no one else can see how this is all movie related as well as a cynical attempt to scrape every penny they can out of fans then I must be a feckin genius.

Comicbook.com published this.  It is a teaser cover art (?) for Infinity Gauntlet in Summer of 2015. Something they have been dropping 'teasers' about for a while.  To quote comicbook.com:

"The teaser image, created by Infinity artist Dustin Weaver, is interesting because it shows Thanos with the Gauntlet, but with only the Reality and Mind Gems attached, leaving the Soul, Time, Space, and Power gems unaccounted for.

"The teaser also suggests that Star-Lord will be involved in the event, as well as several, possibly even a family, of Nova Corpsmen."

Oh, and they add:

"The Infinity Gauntlet teaser is the seventh such teaser, following Civil WarAge of Ultron vs. Marvel ZombiesYears of Future PastPlanet Hulk, Armor Wars and House of M. There was also the Secret Wars announcement from New York Comic Con, revealing the mega-event, written by Jonathan Hickman and debuting in May of 2015."

sigh.  Once I might have cared.




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17. I don’t THINK anyone is trying to hunt me down

heathers01 I dont THINK anyone is trying to hunt me downLast weekend my friend Lori was in town and we took the dogs for a walk in the schoolyard across the street. Three tween girls were hanging out on the jungle gym and as we passed they started whispering ostentatiously in our direction and laughing meanly. ‘Girls that age” said Lori, a middle-school math teacher in the Bronx, “are the worst.”

That encounter stayed with me as I started exploring the saga of YA author Kathleen Hale and the Goodreads troll, which Hale described at great, great length in the Guardian. What did the editors think to let her go on for 5000 words? Perhaps they are part of the great catfishing* conspiracy erected to oppress Ms. Hale, because while you begin the essay thinking “poor her,” as Hale unravels you start to smile nervously and look for an exit. It’s far away.

Then I went to a blog that Hale cited as an ally in her fight against the Dark, Stop the GR [Goodreads] Bullies, which I thought would be, I don’t know, some kind of manifesto about maintaining decency in book discussion. Instead I soon felt like Jennifer Connelly discovering Russell Crowe’s crazypants chalkboard diagrams as pages of scans and proofs and links and trolls and catfish whirled about each other with manic glee. Here, as in Hale’s confessional, I saw no victims, just bullies on all sides.

I know it’s unlikely–or NOT, he adds, as the madness infects him–that any of the participants in this circus are twelve-year-old girls, but watching the accusations fly and the drama being whipped up reminded me of those kids at the school, a big helping of attention-seeking with a side of hostility. I’ve avoided Goodreads only because it was too much like work, but it always seemed like such a nice place. Now it looks to me like those spy novels I love, where the apparent placidity of daily life  and ordinary citizens is completely at the mercy of the puppet masters. If you want me, I’m in hiding.

*as Liz Burns points out, that word does not mean what Hale thinks it does.

 

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18. Paula Yoo on Muhammad Yunus, Banking Smarter, and Managing Finances

paula yooPaula Yoo is a children’s book writer, television writer, and freelance violinist living inGuest blogger Los Angeles. Her latest book, Twenty-two Cents: Muhammad Yunus and the Village Bank, was released last month. Twenty-two Cents is about Muhammad Yunus, Nobel Peace Prize winner and founder of Grameen Bank. He founded Grameen Bank so people could borrow small amounts of money to start a job, and then pay back the bank without exorbitant interest charges. Over the next few years, Muhammad’s compassion and determination changed the lives of millions of people by loaning the equivalent of more than ten billion US dollars in micro-credit. This has also served to advocate and empower the poor, especially women, who often have limited options. In this post, we asked her to share advice on what’s she’s learned about banking, loans, and managing finances while writing Twenty-two Cents.

What are some reasons why someone might want to take out a loan? Why wouldn’t banks loan money to poor people in Bangladesh?

PAULA: People will take out a loan when they do not have enough money in their bank account to pay for a major purchase, like a car or a house. Sometimes, they will take out a loan because they need the money to help set up a business they are starting. Other times, loans are also used to help pay for major expenses, like unexpected hospital bills for a family member who is sick or big repairs on a house or car. But asking for a loan is a very complicated process because a person has to prove they can pay the loan back in a reasonable amount of time. A person’s financial history can affect whether or not they are approved for a loan. For many people who live below the poverty line, they are at a disadvantage because their financial history is very spotty. Banks may not trust them to pay the loan back on time.

In addition, most loans are given to people who are requesting a lot of money for a very expensive purchase like a house or a car. But sometimes a person only needs a small amount of money – for example, a few hundred dollars. This type of loan does not really exist because most people can afford to pay a few hundred dollars. But if you live below the poverty line, a hundred dollars can seem like a million dollars. Professor Yunus realized this when he met Sufiya Begum, a poor woman who only needed 22 cents to keep her business of making stools and mats profitable in her rural village. No bank would loan a few hundred dollars, or even 22 cents, to a woman living in a mud hut. This is what inspired Professor Yunus to come up with the concept of “microcredit” (also known as microfinancing and micro banking).

In TWENTY-TWO CENTS, microcredit is described as a loan with a low interest rate. What is a low interest rate compared to a high interest rate? 

PAULA: When you borrow money from a bank, you have to pay the loan back with an interest rate. The interest rate is an additional amount of money that you now owe the bank on top of the original amount of money you borrowed. There are many complex math formulas involved with calculating what a fair and appropriate interest rate could be for a loan. The interest rate is also affected by outside factors such as inflation and unemployment. Although it would seem that a lower interest rate would be preferable to the borrower, it can be risky to the general economy. A low interest rate can create a potential “economic bubble” which could burst in the future and cause an economic “depression.” Interest rates are adjusted to make sure these problems do not happen. Which means that sometimes there are times when the interest rates are higher for borrowers than other times.

confused about money

What is a loan shark?

PAULA: A loan shark is someone who offers loans to poor people at extremely high interest rates. This is also known as “predatory lending.” It can be illegal in several cases, especially when the loan shark uses blackmail or threats of violence to make sure a person pays back the loan by a certain deadline. Often people in desperate financial situations will go to a loan shark to help them out of a financial problem, only to realize later that the loan shark has made the problem worse, not better.

Did your parents explain how a bank works to you when you were a child? Or did you learn about it in school?

PAULA: I remember learning about how a bank works from elementary school and through those “Schoolhouse Rocks!” educational cartoons they would show on Saturday mornings. But overall, I would say I learned about banking as a high school student when I got my first minimum wage job at age 16 as a cashier at the Marshall’s department store. I learned how banking worked through a job and real life experience.

TWENTY-TWO CENTS is a story about economic innovation. Could you explain why Muhammad Yunus’s Grameen Bank was so innovative or revolutionary?

PAULA ANSWER: Muhammad Yunus’ theories on microcredit and microfinancing are revolutionary and innovative because they provided a practical solution on how banks can offer loans to poor people who do not have any financial security. By having women work together as a group to understand how the math behind the loan would work (along with other important concepts) and borrowing the loan as a group, Yunus’ unique idea gave banks the confidence to put their trust into these groups of women. The banks were able to loan the money with the full confidence in knowing that these women would be able to pay them back in a timely manner. The humanitarian aspect of Yunus’ economic theories were also quite revolutionary because it gave these poverty-stricken women a newfound sense of self-confidence. His theories worked to help break the cycle of poverty for these women as they were able to save money and finally become self-sufficient. The Nobel Committee praised Yunus’ microcredit theories for being one of the first steps towards eradicating poverty, stating, “Lasting peace cannot be achieved unless large population groups find ways in which to break out of poverty.”

twenty-two cents: muhammad yunus and the village bankTwenty-two Cents: Muhammad Yunus and the Village Bank is a biography of 2006 Nobel Peace Prize winner Muhammad Yunus, who founded Grameen Bank and revolutionized global antipoverty efforts by developing the innovative economic concept of micro-lending.


Filed under: Guest Blogger Post, Lee & Low Likes, Musings & Ponderings Tagged: bangladesh, banking, banks, Economics, grameen bank, loan shark, loans, microcredit, money, Muhammad Yunus, nobel peace prize, Paula Yoo, poverty

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19. Essences Store Closing: Big Sale this week!!

store

As I streamline my biz, I realize I don’t have time for making the flower essences, so I am having a BIG SALE all this week. All essences are $5.00 each only this week. Tell your friends, grab a bunch before they are gone for good. All essences are formulated for the sensitive made with Apple Cider Vinegar instead of alcohol.

An introduction to Flower Essences: 

http://vimeo.com/71582764

What are flower essences teaching video from Designing Fairy Cinema on Vimeo.

Head on over to the the SHOP and BUY. Go here.


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20. Amazon Has Established a New Contract With Simon & Schuster

SimonSchusterAmazon and Simon & Schuster have established a new multi-year print and digital agreement. The previous contract was scheduled to expire in two months.

Here’s more from The Wall Street Journal: “Simon & Schuster, whose recently published works include Walter Isaacson’s The Innovators and Colm Toibin’s Nora Webster, will set the consumer prices of its digital books, and Amazon will be able to discount titles in certain situations, according to one person familiar with the agreement. Simon & Schuster titles also will be well promoted on Amazon’s website, the person said.”

Many speculate that this development will put more pressure on Hachette to wrap up the ongoing dispute. Several writers have publicly spoken about the situation including Stephen Colbert, John Green, and Malcolm Gladwell. Earlier this week, economist Paul Krugman wrote New York Times article criticizing Amazon’s business practices. How do you predict this will affect the conflict between Amazon and Hachette?

New Career Opportunities Daily: The best jobs in media.

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21. The Powell’s Playlist: Anne Rice

These are the songs that wake me up, take me out of my worries and anxieties, wash my brain cells, and send me to the keyboard to write with new vigor. 1. "It's My Life" by Bon Jovi This is a song I associate with my beloved vampire hero, Lestat, today. I imagine Lestat loving [...]

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22. Amid Wage Theft Scandal, ‘Wired’ Calls Ed Catmull A ‘Big Hero’

To accompany its fawning story on the success of Walt Disney Animation, "Wired" labeled John Lasseter and Ed Catmull as "big heroes" on its cover.

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23. 3 Ways to Increase Your Daily Word Count While Away From Your Computer

Image by Beliroz, deviantART, courtesy of a Creative Commons License: http://beliroz.deviantart.com/art/Keyboard-in-the-night-183881657

Image by Beliroz, deviantART, courtesy of a Creative Commons License: http://beliroz.deviantart.com/art/Keyboard-in-the-night-183881657

While I’ll be cheering on NaNoWriMo participants from the sidelines this year rather than joining the race, I am forever looking for ways to expand my own daily word count—not just in November, but all 12 months of the year. My goals may be more modest (while they fluctuate depending on my work-in-progress and what stage it’s in, I currently aim for an average of 1,000 words a day, six days a week), but with a full-time job and a family, they’re not easy to meet.

When people find out I’ve got a novel in progress, they inevitably stop to take in my energetic 3-year-old boy, already-almost-walking 9-month-old girl, and full-time job overseeing Writer’s Digest magazine and say the same thing: Wow, you have your hands full.

I do. Literally. If I’m not in the office, you can often find me with a giggling, hair-pulling baby in my arms, a pot on the stove (or, um, the pizza guy on the phone), and a little boy dressed as a superhero tugging on my pant leg.

So for me, pushing my daily word count is about finding ways to write in between the times when I can actually sit uninterrupted at my laptop. Here are three methods that work for me—and may just work for you, too.

1. Ms. Phone, please take a letter …

On TV commercials, people talk to their phones to find out where the nearest Chinese restaurant is or to remind themselves to buy flowers for their anniversary. I talk to my phone to record ideas for fictional scenes that pop into my head at random moments of the day. Snippets of dialogue, emotional descriptions and plot notes all get recorded to be sure they don’t evaporate before I can get to my keyboard.

On my drive home from work, I have about 15 minutes of quiet time alone in the car until I pull into the daycare. Sure, sometimes I listen to music, or NPR news. But especially if I don’t yet know what scene I’m going to tackle after the kids are in bed that night, I like to use this time to brainstorm. Hands-free, I’ll dictate what comes to me into my phone. I once “wrote” 650 words between quitting time at work and pickup time at daycare. Sure, there were lots of misunderstood words and typos to correct—no voice command app is perfect—but when I do get to the computer, cleaning up the copy is far easier than starting from scratch.

2. Go go Gadget keyboard …

There are other times—say, if a baby is napping on my shoulder—that I can get my hands free but not balance a full-sized laptop on my lap. And we’ve all had those moments when we don’t have our computers in reach when inspiration strikes—but we do happen to have a tablet or smartphone with us, so we try to peck out the words on our touch screens as fast as we can, all the while grumbling that our fingers can’t catch up to our brains.

That’s where my Bluetooth keyboard comes in. I got one for my birthday back in August, and my husband is still pretty proud of himself for how much I rave about it. For only about $30, it came with a slim case and slips easily into my purse. No matter where you are, simply pair it with whatever device you have on hand, and voila! You can actually type out a scene or notes at full speed. When I have my Bluetooth keyboard along, I no longer mind if a friend is late to meet me for lunch, or if my dentist leaves me in the waiting room. In fact, sometimes I’m secretly glad.

3. Note to self …

It is one of the stranger side effects of the writing life that I email myself perhaps more than I send messages to anyone else. But every day, no matter how busy I am, whether I’m using one of the methods above or another, I try to at the very least send myself the briefest of notes regarding what my next scene will be.

At worst, when I sit down at my keyboard later, I’ll have some kind of starting point, rather than a blank screen (and a blank brain). At best, if I’ve gotten a little carried away with my note taking, my scene might already be half-written.

What I’ve found is this: Whether you’re a “pantser” or a plotter (or, in my case, a little of both), when you sit down to write with SOME kind of notes in front of you, you’ll spend less time getting in the groove and more time churning out words.

The November/December Writer’s Digest magazine is filled with Tips and Inspiration to Write a Book in a Month, including advice for developing a write-a-thon strategy and keeping the words coming. If you’re looking to increase your productivity or planning for NaNoWriMo, check out a preview in the Writer’s Digest Shop, download it instantly, or find it on a newsstand near you.

What about you? How do you increase your daily word count? From one hands-full writer to another, I invite you to leave your own tips in a comment below—we can all use all the help we can get!

Happy Writing,
Jessica Strawser
Editor, Writer’s Digest Magazine
Follow me on Twitter: @jessicastrawser

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24. "I want to stand as close to the edge as I can without going over. Out on the edge you see all kinds..."

“I want to stand as close to the edge as I can without going over. Out on the edge you see all... Read the rest of this post

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25. Firebird: A Guest Post by Sam Bloom

firebird 300x273 Firebird: A Guest Post by Sam BloomIs it possible for a guy who has won three BGHB Honors, four Coretta Scott King Honors, and one Caldecott Honor (in 1998, for Harlem) to be underrated? Why yes, yes it is. Christopher Myers continues to fly under the radar every year when it comes to Caldecott buzz, but I’m guessing the real committee will take a good look at this one.

Julie Danielson interviewed illustrator Myers and author/ballet dancer Misty Copeland at Kirkus a while back; it’s a great piece that is definitely worth a look. In it, Myers talks about how he decided on collage because it allowed him to “choreograph across the page,” using color and texture to reflect the juxtaposition of the “riotous energy” and “careful attention to detail” that constitutes the essence of dance. Keeping this in mind when reading Firebird, I would contend that Myers nailed the “appropriateness of style” criterion…but I would argue that he scores nearly as well with the other criteria, too.

Myers’s illustrations are like intricate puzzles for the reader to take apart and put back together, over and over again. For instance, look at the first full-page spread: the young, unnamed dancer gazes up from the bottom left corner as adult ballerina Misty leaps across a night skyline. In the background, buildings twinkle above a frothy-looking river spanned by a bridge. Misty’s white outfit makes a striking contrast against the lovely midnight blues and deep purples of the sky and river. But don’t stop there: look closer. Note first the texture of the collage, the overlapping pieces of cut paper used to make the night sky, the white-washed blues and blacks of the river below. Now zero in on that skyline. The building above Misty’s outstretched right calf…is that a picture of someone’s hand resting on a gray table, cut into a building shape? And the building above her right knee looks to be a shadowed photo of a brick wall… or is that a fence? All of this is barely noticeable when viewing the spread as a whole, but the bizarre (yet lovely) details become apparent when you lean in for a better look.

In Jules’s piece, Myers talks about how he focused mostly on color and texture to show emotion, and to my mind he succeeded completely. To give just one example, the endpapers are a fiery mix of reds, golds, and oranges, extending that Firebird motif from the front cover. This is some abstract stuff, but young readers will no doubt respond to the hot colors (forget that they are normally referred to as “warm”; these hues are habanero-smoking hot) and texture. To be sure, reading Firebird is an extremely tactile visual experience. Looking closer at the endpapers, I see feathers, the bumps of a diamond-studded (I think) strawberry, a fabric of some sort, and either a shag carpet close-up or a sea anemone. And here, as throughout the book, the reader can clearly see where each piece of cut paper ends and the next begins.

I hate to bring up the typography because I find the book to be practically perfect in every way, but the two fonts are not perfectly chosen. The text is a dialogue between the two characters, with the young girl’s words appearing in a bold italic font and Misty’s words appearing in a bold Roman font. I wish there was more differentiation between the two type styles, because I had to look twice on many occasions to see who was talking. It’s a lovely text, though, and Myers does a fabulous job with his interpretation.

Speaking of interpretation, my own interpretive skills aren’t terribly great, so I’m always curious to hear what others think. What do you all think is going on in some of those spreads? Especially intriguing to me is the final spread, where Misty and the young girl dance together wearing matching white tutus. Silhouetted dancers leap and twirl in front of multi-colored backgrounds, including what I believe is a male dancer to the extreme right. The spread itself is a stunner — it’s absolutely gorgeous — but I don’t completely understand it. Thoughts? And in more general terms, what does everyone think? Are you all high on Firebird, too?

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