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1. well, it's so good to be here

Nice of Dexter to come and help paint the bench.

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2. ANXIETY: Childhood Dream


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3. New Murakami (in Japan)

       A new volume of stories by Murakami Haruki is out in Japan, 女のいない男たち; see the 文藝春秋 publicity page.
       See, for example, The Japan Times report, Murakami's new book hits shelves amid fan frenzy; more ordered, as:

Publisher Bungei Shunju has already raised the first shipment of the book to 300,000 copies from 200,000 due to heavier-than-expected advance orders for the first compilation since 2005, local media said.
       You figure they'd have this figured out by now; I assume they just low-ball what they say the initial print run is so that they can report the 'heavier-than-expected' demand ..... (Of course, since this the publishing industry it's distinctly possible that they have nothing figured out .....)

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4. Artist of the Day: Joan Casaramona

Barcelona, Spain-based Joan Casaramona draws and sketches with pencil, applies digital techniques to animated stamped images, designs graphics, and generally produces all kinds of visual work. Casaramona shares his sketches and free form sketchbook pages. Below is one of Casaramona’s animated experiments, and after that is two sketchbook pages that were multiplied together in different colors to create a chaotic effect. Some of the themes of Casaramona’s illustration projects include Picasso and Napoleon. See more work from Joan Casaramona on his blog, Flickr, and Tumblr, which has a lot of work categorized for browsing by type.

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5. The Best Flash Gordon Comic In Quite Some Time

Flash01-Cov-HardmanFlash Gordon has been around for quite awhile.  You’ve got the newspaper strip going back to the 1930s.  Switching over to non-reprint comics, King and Gold Key comics periodically popped up from the 1960s through early 80s.  DC’s reboot by Dan Jurgens in the late 80s.  Marvel did a couple issues in the 90s.  Ardden Entertainment in ’08.  Dynamite in ’11.  Everybody has their favorites from those runs.  I’ve been partial to the Al Williamson material and have a serious soft spot for the Dan Jurgens version.  All that said, Dynamite recently relaunched the franchise with a clever re-imagination and it’s jumping up the list quickly.

The King’s Watch mini-series was the relaunch vehicle for Dynamite’s treatments of the classic King Features Syndicate comic strip heroes: Flash Gordon, Mandrake the Magician and The Phantom.  That series, also written by Flash Gordon writer Jeff Parker, establishes the status quo of Mongo invading Earth through portals that might be magic or might be an unknown science.  At the end of the series, Flash Gordon, Dale Arden and Hans Zarkoff find themselves trapped on Mongo after shutting down the portals by which Ming can access Earth.  That’s where Flash Gordon #1 begins.

The comic book Flash Gordon, as well as the movies and Filmation cartoon have all been centered around Mongo.  Flash Gordon visiting another planet and liberating it from the evil emperor is a classic story, but Mongo was never a constant in the original comic strip the way it tends to be in the comics.  For long stretches of the strip, Ming may not appear and Flash Gordon can be more of a space opera.  Whenever a comic launches, Mongo is always the first story, though.  It creates a bit of a burden as the creators have to tell the classic story in their own way and try to measure up with what’s gone before.

The major tweak here is the portals.  Instead of being kidnapped to Mongo by Dr. Zarkoff (i.e., the only person who really understood the threat) in a rocketship that may or may not be able to get them home, Flash and company are there in a form of sacrifice.  They’ve got the mysterious crystal that let’s Ming access the Earth and they’re on the run.  There are also more portals.  Instead of having the various kingdoms of Mongo, the kingdoms are different worlds accessed by the portals.  Ming controls Mongo and then subjugates the other worlds.  Issue one finds Flash and company spending time in Arboria, now a forest world, not just a forest kingdom.  It opens up the scope a bit.

The characters are slightly tweaked.  Instead of a professional polo player or ex-NBA player, Flash is now a daredevil trust fund baby.  Younger, brasher, but a good excuse for him to have a background in stunt flying, extreme sports and the like — he’s just been a professional adrenaline junkie who ‘s hobbies have trained him well for the situation he’s fallen into.

Dale Arden is the least changed.  Still a reporter, but much more assertive than in the original

Dr. Zarkoff is now a hard drinking scientist, perhaps not quite as crazy as in some versions, but definitely cranky.

The thing that sets this comic apart from other versions is the sense of fun.  This is high adventure on strange new worlds, but it doesn’t take itself overly seriously past that they’re trying to prevent an invasion of Earth.  Evan Shaner is further away from the Raymond/Williamson school of art than many who have worked on Flash Gordon.  He’s using a looser style, closer to something you’d see in a French science fiction graphic album.  More of the Roy Crane/Milt Canniff school than Raymond school, if you want to go back to the original 1930s sources.

This comic wins on flow and tone.  There’s a decent amount of characterization, too, but Flash Gordon immediately jumps on the fun train and you’re along for the ride.  A great change of pace comic.  Dynamite’s been doing a lot with the classic pulp characters and in many (good) ways, this is the inverse of something like The Shadow or The Spider.

To be quite honest with you, although the next thing Jeff Parker should be doing be the sequel to his Interman graphic novel (the sooner you crank that out, the sooner I stop nagging you Jeff), I would welcome Jeff Parker’s Mandrake and Phantom.

Highly recommended for anybody looking for a fun romp with aliens and monster.  If you want gritty and dark, this might not be for you (but gritty and dark isn’t exactly hard to find these days).

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6. Turkish fiction

       In Daily Sabah Kaya Genç considers Turkish Masterpieces Unread by the World -- both some available in translation and some that have yet to make it into English.
       Maureen Freely weighs in with some suggestions:

So which Turkish authors would she like to see in English ? The first name that came to her mind was Sevgi Soysal. Freely had translated Soysal's Yıldırım Bölge Kadınlar Koğuşu in her twenties but said it had been impossible to place Turkish writing in English publishing houses in those days. "The book of hers I really love is Şafak," Freely wrote. "And I also wish that somebody could bring the best of Murathan Mungan into English."
       See also the Turkish fiction under review at the complete review.

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7. Promo Catalog

My agency, MB Artists, just released its new quarterly promotional catalog.  The theme this time was "Transportation."  Hope you enjoy all of the new illustrations by our artists!

http://files.flipsnack.com/iframe/embed.html?hash=fzcfrayq&wmode=window&bgcolor=EEEEEE&t=13958449001395839592

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8. Margot's GRAB BAG



"HEARTBLEED"


 Nothing romantic about this heart!

This is the terrible problem that was an ACCIDENTAL mistake by a programmer several years ago, was not picked up by other code checkers, and now has major sites and providers over a barrel.  Read more about how to protect yourself from Heartbeat on my "TECKIE NEWS and Help" board on Pinterest: <!--[if gte mso 9]> Normal 0 false false false EN-US X-NONE X-NONE <![endif]-->  http://www.pinterest.com/margotfinke/

Norton has sent me a link to a site where I can check all my most used web and blog lings to see if they are infected, or NOT with Heartbeat. A 2 second click, and you can reassure yourself about any site: <!--[if gte mso 9]> Normal 0 false false false EN-US X-NONE X-NONE <![endif]-->


TECKIE HELP

I recommend KIM KOMANDO'S daily updates and website for advice on new purchases, scams, virus protection, and everything technical to do with computers and e-readers etc. Her Radio Show is nation wide.

KIM KOMANDO WROTE:
Just when you thought things couldn't get any worse with 'Heartbleed' ... they do.
The "Heartbleed" bug that has floored Internet experts around the world just got worse. Cisco and Juniper, two of the largest network equipment makers, said today that the vulnerability, which exposes encrypted data like passwords, is present in their routers, switches and firewalls.

For a complete guide to  Kim Komando’s "Heartbleed" coverage and help,
click here

MY VIRUS PROTECTION MANTRA
<!--[if gte mso 9]> Normal 0 false false false EN-US X-NONE X-NONE <![endif]-->
You need super reliable virus protection at any time, plus one other program that sweeps your computer's floor after your protection has done the rounds - just in case!  I have used NORTON for years, and it keeps me safe.  I also have Win Patrol - a nifty little program that among many other things warns me whenever anything wants to alter or add to my Registry.  COOL!!

The main thing for whatever virus protection you use, is to keep the program updated, do regular computer scans, and download the latest virus protection fixes daily.   Keep other programs, like Quick Time, Apple and Microsoft programs etc updated as well.  You can set these things to be done automatically.

Playing ostrich will not stop something bad happening
if you don't do YOUR part in protecting
your computer.




*********************************

Books for Kids - FREE Skype Author Visits
http://www.margotfinke.com

***********************************






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9. the proudest prof alive: the art of revision

I offered my students the opportunity to revise their memoirs for an additional five points.

No requirement. No insistence. Just a chance, if they wanted to take it.

The points themselves—they hardly meant a thing to this talented bunch. The chance to return to their work, to their selves—that was the thing. We find the heart of our stories not the first time we write them, not the second time or third. We find the heart of our stories when we begin again, or look again, when we say, Maybe this.

After a long day, after an afternoon of such crushing corporate pressures that I could not go, as I had wanted to, to church, I have read the work of the four students who chose to revise their memoirs.

Two wrote newly, from scratch.

Two amended from within.

Each of them soared. Each of them soars.

I am the proudest prof alive. This is God's goodness to me, on this Good Friday.

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10. Peter Buwalda Q & A

       This week's Small Talk-column in the Financial Times has a Q & A with Peter Buwalda, whose Bonita Avenue is just out from Pushkin Press; see their publicity page and the Dutch Foundation for Literature information page, or get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.
       I'm won over by this response:

Which book changed your life ?

The Darkroom of Damocles by Willem Frederik Hermans, one of the great 20th-century Dutch writers. It's a novel about resistance in the second world war but also about personal failure. I read the book when I was 18. I stopped studying physics immediately and started studying literature.
       Damn, that warms the heart.

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11. foxy


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12. Honorable Mention

It is never one’s intention
Earning “honorable mention”
When you’re entered in a contest or a race.
Yes, you’ve gotten some attention
So that listing, by extension,
Means approval that you really should embrace.

Still, it’s not exactly winning
And it will not leave you grinning
For it feels more like a pat upon the head,
‘Cause you know at the beginning
All your hopes were proudly pinning
On that very first or second place instead.

Since most judgment is subjective
You must know that one’s perspective
May not match or be divergent from your own,
So it’s best to be reflective
Which is rather more effective
Than reacting like you’ve just been tossed a bone.

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13. In the Light of What We Know review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Zia Haider Rahman's In the Light of What We Know -- apparently one of this year's 'big' debuts.

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14. Brushes and nibs

I'm still collecting things to make brushes and nibs from...

Sea snail nib

Pigeon quill

Catkin brush

Curing quills in hot sand

Bags for collecting, fixed to belt

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15. A Highly Unlikely Scenario

Have you ever read a review of a book from a trusted source that gushed about a book, how utterly fantastic, original, funny, quirky it is (fill in the blanks with the descriptive words that make you say omg I have to read this book)? Of course you have. And have you then gone out and either bought it or borrowed it from the library, brought it home in a great excitement of anticipation, opened the cover, dove in and about halfway through realized the book was not even close to the heights of delight you thought it would be and in fact got lost somewhere in the foothills? Of course you have. And did you keep reading it anyway because you thought that maybe the big payoff came at the end, oh please let there be a big payoff at the end to have made it all worthwhile? Of course you have. And then when you got to the end and closed the cover did you sigh, not with satisfaction but with sadness because the payoff never came? Of course you have.

I seem to be having some difficulty with books lately. First the Prose book I have set aside and probably will never finish, and now A Highly Unlikely Scenario Or, A Neetsa Pizza Employee’s Guide to Saving the World by Rachel Cantor, which I did finish. The book held such promise.

The story takes place in an unspecified future where the world is run by fast food companies that faction themselves into different philosophical traditions. For instance Neetsa Pizza, the company our hero Leonard works for, governs itself and its food by Pythagorean precepts. Leonard’s sister, Carol, works for a Scottish fast food company called the Jack-o-Bites. There are also Heraclitans, Cathars, (Roger) Baconians, neo-Maoists, and a host of other competing fast food ideologies.

But the book is not about fast food, that’s just the setting. The book is about Leonard whose gift is his receptivity and ability to listen. He sits in an all white room and takes calls from unhappy Neetsa Pizza customers, helps them feel better and gives them coupons. He has a training book on hand to help with likely scenarios. But one day he gets a call that turns out to be an unlikely scenario that sets him on a journey in which he saves the world, finds love, and travels through time. It is completely bonkers, but given that his love turns out to be Sally who is a librarian and Baconian whose job is to guard the Voynich manuscript and, who has managed to decipher some of it, the book was looking to be promising.

Does the Voynich manuscript sound familiar to you? It has been in the news lately. Cantor’s book was published in 2013 before the latest news about the manuscript. The Voynich, was supposedly composed by Roger Bacon in the 13th century and discovered in 1912 by Wilfred Voynich. The book is written in a code no one, not even top cryptologists, has been able to crack. This has many believing the book is a hoax. Though a University of Bedfordshire applied linguistics professor has recently claimed to have cracked the code.

The news added to the promise of the book, but the book did not deliver. Dancing letters, talks in the present with historical personages from the past, Jewish mysticism, time travel, Isaac the Blind, and Abulafia never melded into a story that made much sense. Sure, the world was supposed to be in danger because Abulafia got Felix, Leonard’s nephew who could stop time, to go back in time where he, Abulafia, planned on using Felix to bring on the end of days. But given that Felix comes from the future there isn’t much sense of peril because we know the outcome even though there are hints that the future might be changed.

The book could have been a fun story about finding and using your gifts to make the world a better place but all that gets lost amidst the quirkiness and fighting between the fast food companies and the mysticism. As far as I can tell, this is Cantor’s first novel. She has previously published a number of short stories in literary journals. There appear to be enough to make a short story collection and if she goes that direction I would definitely read it. The writing itself is good and her style is fun. She creates interesting characters and knows how to keep the pace moving. And she is original and obviously creative. However, all these pluses end up fighting against each other. I hope she writes another novel because she does have potential if she can manage to get all of her skills working together instead of competing for top billing.


Filed under: Books, Reviews, SciFi/Fantasy

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16. YALSAblog Tweets of the Week – April 18, 2014

A short list of tweets from the past week of interest to teens and the library staff that work with them.

Do you have a favorite Tweet from the past week? If so add it in the comments for this post. Or, if you read a Twitter post between April 18 and April 24 that you think is a must for the next Tweets of the Week send a direct or @ message to lbraun2000 on Twitter.

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17. CA, KY, MT

When I forget to take a lot of pictures at speaking events, it's a sign that I'm enjoying and appreciating the moment. But it's really irritating afterwards! I recently had events in three states, almost back-to-back, and here's a recap of those trips (with far fewer photos than I wish I could share with you).
 
In Sacramento, California, I spoke at a regional conference of the Society of Children's Book Writers & Illustrators, an organization that continues to play a huge role in my career. I gave a talk on adding suspense to any story, did a pro-panel that included Dan Yaccarino, and gave a morning keynote presentation in the room below.
 

The above photo was taken during the keynote of Nikki Grimes. When I first met Nikki at a convention a couple years ago, it was one of those moments when I couldn't believe someone whose work I respect so much already knew who I was. This conference was a wonderful opportunity to spend more time with her, and hopefully there will be more chances in the future.

In attendance were locals Mike Jung, Emily Jiang, and Naomi Kinsman, three authors I've been fortunate to meet over the years. One day, I'll need to put together my own conference, inviting writers who inspire different aspects of my own writing and that I know I could learn from. And the three of them will speak there. (I haven't asked them yet, but I know they'll do it. Right???)

Next up? Northern Kentucky University.

I always get nervous before speaking at an event open to the public. What if no one shows up? (One benefit to speaking at a school during school hours: The students have to be there!) So when a public event is well attended, it's awesome!




After I was done speaking, I learned that Jasmine Warga was in the audience. Jasmine has her debut novel, My Heart and Other Black Holes, coming out next year!

 
After this event, I attended another event at KSU: an open mic reading hosted by the school's literature magazine. With another writer there, I read from Thirteen Reasons Why. Then, something I never thought I'd do, I read the very first picture book manuscript I tried to get published, called Stop, Easter Bunny, You Forgot Something! The other writers in the room laughed in all the right spots, including the parts that weren't originally supposed to be funny. And I'm actually very happy they felt comfortable enough to laugh along with me!
 
I had some free time in Kansas, so I took a walk through the Creation Museum. It was interesting. A little different than what I saw when I attended the American Museum of Natural History.
 

From Kansas, I flew to Montana for the annual conference of the Montana Library Association. It was immediately obvious why the librarians chose this hotel in Billings.


But I didn't have time to slip down the slide when I first arrived. Why? Because I had to play my first game of Bunco! I remember my mom regularly having a bunch of women over while I was growing up so they could play Bunco. I don't remember my mom or her friends wearing crazy hats, though. And I don't remember them raising scholarship money by having people sit at the same table as me. But that's probably because my mom and her friends weren't Montana librarians!


I gave a talk on writing "gritty" literature and how books like mine can be used at schools or libraries. I then gave a lunchtime keynote, where the audience was great and the dessert was delicious!



Thank you for hosting these great first visits to your states, Kentucky and Montana. I'll be back soon!

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18. A Boy Can Dream

Christine Marie Larsen Illustration of a boy who never sleeps, brushes teeth, or washes.

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19. Promo Friday: Working On Twitter

Okay, I've done a little more snooping about Twitter.

Basics


I'm not going to do any "First, choose a name" things because you can find that all over the place. Agent Molly Jaffa does that in The Writer's Guide to Rocking It on Twitter, reprinted at Backspace. She does a little something extra by suggesting appropriate tweet material for writers--your writing and, additionally, your reading.

Then What About Followers?


Pragmaticmom (who I sort of know through Google+, not Twitter) has an interesting post, Twitter Tips and How I Got 55,000 Followers. Mia has a great deal of information here, but the point that really popped for me was the one about following and unfollowing people to increase your followers. Scroll down to the comments, and at the end you'll see I asked why to unfollow. Well, Twitter only allows you to follow so many people at a time. So you unfollow those who don't follow you back so you can follow others.

I think you have to consider what your goal is for Twitter. I originally joined for content, so whether or not people were following me back wasn't that great an issue. I was more concerned with cluttering my stream with content I wasn't interested in, keeping me from getting to the stuff I was. But rereading Mia's information about finding an audience niche and following hashtags has made me reconsider what I'm doing there.

Speaking of Hashtags


My understanding of hashtags is that they can increase your reach beyond your followers because anyone who is interested in the topic/hashtag you've added could end up finding your tweet in their stream. Feel free to correct me on that, readers.

You can find lists of hashtags related to various fields. Twitter Hashtags for Authors and Book Marketing Pros is one of them.

How Much Am I Liking Tweeting?

 

Ehh. I don't dislike it. I can even get into quickly sharing an article I've enjoyed reading. But I'm finding learning how to best use Twitter a little time consuming.

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20. This Week in Animation History: Milt Kahl, Porky Pig & Michael Eisner

A look at animation history via Cartoon Brew's archives.

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21. A Snicker of Magic, by Natalie Lloyd -- Nominated for the 2015 Emerson Mock Newbery (ages 9-12)

Last week, two girls came bounding into our lunchtime book club bubbling over about how much they loved a new book they both just read: A Snicker of Magic. Their enthusiasm immediately spread to other friends. Hooray!! And so, here is our first book nominated to the 2015 Emerson Mock Newbery, followed by Thea and Fiona's review.
A Snicker of Magic
by Natalie Lloyd
Scholastic, 2014
preview on Google Books
*2015 Emerson Mock Newbery*
Your local library
Amazon
ages 9-12
A Snicker of Magic
Review by Thea and Fiona

A Snicker of Magic is a great book about a young girl, Felicity Pickle, who sees words around people and things .”Some words glow, and some words dance Some have wings , and some have zebra stripes.” After moving (again) to her mom’s childhood home, Midnight Gulch, (which is magic) she learns some important things about her family. But there’s still a gaping hole. Will she find it out in time or is she going to feel the hole forever?

Natalie Lloyd
We think that the moral of A Snicker of Magic is you can believe in anything you want to and always believe in yourself and your family. Our evidence of this is at first Felicity did not believe in magic until she started learning about her family. What we have in common with Felicity is that sometimes we don’t always believe in something until we have seen or witnessed it.

We recommend this book because this story has a really good plot that makes you want to never put it down once you started it. It has magic mixed with family drama , and amazing characters like Felicity and the Beedle, and lots of suspense.

WE RECOMMEND THIS BOOK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Thea enjoyed Natalie's recent post on the Nerdy Book Club, all about the magic of memories that are hidden away in the books we read. This is certainly part of the wonderful charm of A Snicker of Magic.
There's a Lion in My Closet, by Natalie Lloyd

My first novel, A Snicker of Magic, takes place in a quirky Tennessee mountain town called Midnight Gulch. The sugar-wind blows through Midnight Gulch thanks to a famous (er… infamous, rather) ice cream factory called Dr. Zook’s. While Zook’s boasts all sorts of strangely delicious concoctions, the most popular flavor is only sold locally. It’s called Blackberry Sunrise, and years ago, the first batch was made from a crop of wild berries, sugar, milk … and memories. That’s the problem with eating Blackberry Sunrise, as my hero, Felicity Pickle, soon discovers. That particular flavor always calls up a memory. And you never know if the memory will be sweet or sour unless you’re brave enough to take a bite.

Sadly, I don’t know how to hide memories in ice cream.

But I know how to hide memories in books.

For more, head to the Nerdy Book Club post.

Thea and Fiona are nominating A Snicker of Magic to our 2015 Emerson Mock Newbery. Our process is that a book must be nominated by two readers to be entered into our final reading list. Students commit to reading at least 5 books from our list to participate in our voting in January. Thank you, Thea and Fiona, for sharing about why you want all of us to read A Snicker of Magic!

The review copy was kindly sent to us by the publishers, Scholastic Press. If you make a purchase using the Amazon links on this site, a small portion goes to Great Kid Books. Thank you for your support.

©2014 Mary Ann Scheuer, Great Kid Books

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22. Music...


Music




I usually post 'What song's in your head today,' on my sidebar, but for some reason, I decided to post it today. Thanks for stopping by A Nice Place In The Sun. I hope you enjoy the song that is in my head today.


Forgive me, I've been away from blogging for awhile, so I couldn't figure out how to write my words within the same post with the video- I beg for your patience.

Thanks, as always-

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23. Bunny Rabbit Paper Bag Puppet


I'm in the process of creating some new activity pages to coincide with my latest book that is coming out in a few weeks.  But I felt like this weekend was a perfect time for this super simple rabbit puppet.  Just download the free PDF and cut out the face and hands and glue them to a paper lunch sack.  Ta da! a bunny rabbit for Easter.

Download the PDF here...

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24. I Don't Wanna Live Without Your Love By Chicago With Lyrics

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25.


ORAC Annual Membership Meeting

Monday, April 21, 2014

5:00 pm

Vada Sheid ASUMH

 
Please join us for our annual membership meeting and learn who we are and what we do.

 
All our organizational members andall visual and performing art groups, our individual members and artists, our sponsors and any patron of the visual and performing arts are welcomed to attend.

 
We will have our 6 x 6 canvases available at this meeting for you to take and create your masterpiece.



Deborah Lively-  President
Ozark Regional Arts Council,
a  501(c)3 corporation


172 Robin Drive
Mountain Home, AR 72653
870-425-8291



 

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