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1. Moonbot Reveals Trailer for Annie-Nominated Short ‘The Raven’

Moonbot has released a trailer for its new short "The Raven."

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2. Live Like Disney/Pixar Chief Ed Catmull For Just $20 Million

Disney Animation and Pixar president Ed Catmull is listing one of his compounds in Kailua, Hawaii, just two years after building it.

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3. Haven't I seen you someplace before? Dueling covers of scary woods

These are all so similiar I almost wonder if they all came from the same stock photo shoot:
UnknownUnknown Unknown
Unknown-19780062257390Unknown

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4. Guy DeLisle’s Pyongyang film adpatation scrapped after Interview disaster

pyongyang Guy DeLisles Pyongyang film adpatation scrapped after Interview disaster

In case you missed it, Sony Pictures has been forced to cancel the theatrical release of The Interview after hackers have released a catastrophic trove of private emails and scripts, and threatened to bomb theaters showing the film—and theater owners began saying they wouldn’t carry it. The film follows a pair of bumbling journalists sent to North Korea to assassinate Kim Jong Un, and apparently, Supreme Leader did not like this plot line.

The repercussions of this Hollywood disaster will be felt for years to come, but one piece of collateral damage was a planned adaptation of Pyongyang, Guy DeLisle’s graphic novel about his two months spent in the North Korean capital working on an animation project. New Regency has pulled the plug on the project which was to have starred Steve Carrell and be directed by Gore Verbinski from a Steve Conrad script. However the log line for the movie bears little resemblance to the book that I read:

Based on the graphic novel by Guy Delisle, “Pyongyang” is a paranoid thriller about a Westerner’s experiences working in North Korea for a year.

Delisle spent two months living in North Korea’s capital, where according to Wikipedia, he struggled with the difficulties of outsourcing and the bureaucracy of the totalitarian closed state. He was authorized to bring Aphex Twin CDs, Gitanes cigarettes, Hennessy cognac and a copy of George Owell’s novel “1984,” but left the country with no expectations to ever return.


I wouldn’t call the book a paranoid thriller, but rather a wry observation on life, as with DeLisle’s other all excellent books, Shenzen, Burma Chronicles and Jerusalem. Guy is the real deal.

Well, for now you can still just go buy his books and not worry about getting your emails hacked, so show the terrorists haven’t won by getting a copy of Pyongyang!

5 Comments on Guy DeLisle’s Pyongyang film adpatation scrapped after Interview disaster, last added: 12/18/2014
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5. Be gentle with yourself. You deserve your love and compassion.

be-gentle-20141217_161804-450Be gentle with yourself. You deserve your love and compassion.

If you’re a perfectionist, or you grew up in a household with a stern, critical, or abusive parent or caretaker, on had a partner who was, then you may struggle–like I have–with being kind and gentle to yourself. You may be harsh to yourself, even cruel. But you deserve your love and compassion; you really do! And when you’re loving with yourself, when you give yourself the same compassion you would a friend, you’ll find that you’re happier and things don’t seem as hard. So try to be gentle with yourself. Don’t push yourself too hard. Think of yourself the way you would a friend. Figure out what you need to feel happier or more at ease, and then allow yourself that.


This can be a hard time of year for many people, so I thought I’d post more positive messages for people again–selfies along with the messages, so people can see the person (and author) behind the message. I think it helps make it more personal and real.

I will try to post photos most days of December for you all. Let me know if you like this idea. :)

And if you like this post, if it speaks to you, I hope you’ll share it with others.

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6. Fuse #8 TV: The Grolier Exhibit and Author Jennifer Niven!

I think I’m beginning to get the hang of this!

Yes, we’ve yet another Fuse #8 TV episode today and this time we’ve worked out some of the kinks. No more with the herky jerky videos at the start! Instead, I take you on a lovely little tour of the current Grolier exhibit of children’s literature. Then it’s interview time with YA author Jennifer Niven of the much lauded All the Bright Places.

Enjoy previous episodes of Fuse #8 TV here thus far!

share save 171 16 Fuse #8 TV: The Grolier Exhibit and Author Jennifer Niven!

2 Comments on Fuse #8 TV: The Grolier Exhibit and Author Jennifer Niven!, last added: 12/18/2014
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7. India’s Latest Superhero Speaks Out Against Rape

privaFilmmaker Ram Devineni has concerns about the rise in violence against women in India. So he created a new comic book hero to help inspire Indians stand up to against rape.

Her name is Priya. After being sexually attacked, Priva travels the country to speak out against victim shaming.

NPR has more:

After months of traveling around India talking to all sorts of people, including rape victims, about sexual violence, Devineni decided to create Priya. Shunned by her family and village after she is raped, she takes refuge in the jungle and is stalked by a tiger. Parvati, a Hindu goddess, comes to her aid and grants her special powers that include fearlessness and a magical mantra that she uses to change people’s minds.

New Career Opportunities Daily: The best jobs in media.

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8. What I’m Doing at Kirkus This Week,Plus What I Did Last Week, Featuring Meilo So


“Blown by the wind, / water sails high. / Tumbling cloud plumes curl through the air. /
Soplada por el viento, / el agua se remonta. / Volutas nebulosas ruedan por el aire.”

(Click to enlarge spread)


 

This morning over at Kirkus, I write about some holiday picture books titles, what I think are some of the best of the season. It’s a Christmas miracle: LeUyen Pham has made me like “The Twelve Days of Christmas” again. That link will be here soon.

* * *

Last week, I wrote here about Pat Mora’s Water Rolls, Water Rises (Lee & Low, October 2014), illustrated by Meilo So. Today, I share some spreads from it.

Enjoy.


“Water rolls / onto the shore / under the sun, under the moon. /
El agua rueda / hacia la orilla / bajo el sol, bajo la luna.”

(Click to enlarge spread)


 


“In the murmur of marsh wind, / water slumbers on moss, / whispers soft songs far under frog feet. / En el viento susurrante de los pantanos, / el agua duerme sobre el musgo, / murmura suaves canciones bajo patitas de ranas.”
(Click to enlarge spread)


 


“Water burbles in springs, / gurgles and turns / down streams and rivers seeking the sea. / El agua burbujea en los manantiales, / borbotea y desciende /
por los arroyos y ríos buscando el mar.”

(Click to enlarge spread)


 



 

* * * * * * *

WATER ROLLS, WATER RISES. Copyright © 2014 by Pat Mora. Illustrations copyright © 2014 by Meilo So. Illustrations reproduced by permission of the publisher, Children’s Book Press, an imprint of Lee & Low Books, New York.

2 Comments on What I’m Doing at Kirkus This Week,Plus What I Did Last Week, Featuring Meilo So, last added: 12/19/2014
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9. Trinity University Press Has Acquired Maverick Publishing

tupTrinity University Press has acquired the assets of Maverick Publishing Company, an imprint dedicated to publishing books about the Southwest.

Beginning next year, Trinity will launch a new imprint called Maverick Books. The line will include more than 40 backlist titles from the Maverick collection and will publish new titles dedicated to the history and culture of Texas and the American Southwest. Lewis F. Fisher, the founder of Maverick will work with Trinity University Press as an editorial advisor, which will include acquiring and writing books for the imprint.

“Trinity University Press has enjoyed significant growth and success nationally and internationally during its first ten-plus years of publishing,” says Thomas Payton, associate director of Trinity University Press. “Core to our mission is a commitment to explore the history and culture of Texas and its peoples, as well as the Southwest more broadly. The Maverick acquisition helps to deepen our catalog of available print and ebook titles.”

New Career Opportunities Daily: The best jobs in media.

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10. PiBoIdMo Announcement and 2015 Sneak Peeks

Thank you for your patience with the PiBoIdMo winner announcements. I intend to get to them prior to year’s end, so I hope you’ll stick around just a while longer. Here, have a cookie. If you can catch him, that is.

gingy

All grand prize winners plus Pre-PiBo and Post-PiBo winners have been notified via email. If you were a winner and did not receive an email, please contact me.

In the meantime, let me leave you with a gentle reminder (which you don’t really need, do you?) to give a book as a gift this holiday! Garrison Keillor said it best…

bookgift

And since it’s almost 2015, here are sneak peeks from my upcoming titles to be released in August, September and October (talk about bada-bing, bada-boom-boom-BOOM!). Funny how these books were each signed within one year of each other, but they’re being released within one month of each other!

I THOUGHT THIS WAS A BEAR BOOK (Aladdin/S&S, August 2015)
illustrated by Benji Davies

bearyellowstone

NORMAL NORMAN (Sterling, September 2015)
illustrated by S.Britt

normandunebuggy

LITTLE RED GLIDING HOOD (Random House, October 2015)
illustrated by Troy Cummings

wolf (1)

Once again, thanks for your patience with the PiBoIdMo winner announcements.

And may you and your family have a joyful holiday season!

(I hope you receive some really cool writerly gift!)


10 Comments on PiBoIdMo Announcement and 2015 Sneak Peeks, last added: 12/18/2014
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11. Larry King Performs a ‘Farewell Poem’ For Craig Ferguson

Craig Ferguson will be leaving The Late, Late Show on December 19th. In honor of Ferguson’s departure, Larry King read a “farewell poem” during his appearance. The video embedded above features King’s full performance—what do you think?

New Career Opportunities Daily: The best jobs in media.

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12. Parallelogram 4 Update!

Parallelogram 4

Parallelogram 4 will be available for pre-order in January. Stay tuned for the exact date.

I AM SO EXCITED FOR YOU ALL TO READ THIS I CAN BARELY STOP TALKING IN CAPS.

But seriously. Even I kept saying as I wrote it, “What?? That happened?” about every other page.

Stay tuned. It’s happening.

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13. Harts Pass No. 231

There is, of course, a biological argument to be made for hibernation, but winter IS pretty great. Wolverines don't worry about this at all, but a quick question, do south American animals hibernate on the same seasonal cycle? I suspect that they do, but I'm going find out for sure. And as my daughter reminds me each recent morning, "only single digit days 'til Christmas!"


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14.

dowpostcard holiday feast kathy


Filed under: Uncategorized

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15. Christmas Fun



Another Christmas fun - Idea by Coconuts  - Titled: Coconuts and her per monkeys (AKA  Us - her humans)print available @ http://goo.gl/8TYkHS
Cute doggy paw print Christmas ornaments  made by Coconuts, I help with decoration

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16. Author Interview with Krysten Lindsay Hager

It’s Author Interview Thursday and I’m happy and sad. I’m sad because today will be our last interview for the year but I’m super happy because we have a full roaster of inspiring authors lined up for the new year.Krysten Lindsay Hager Some of the authors lined up for 2015, have been admired by yours truly from afar and I’m so glad we both get a chance to learn something new and inspiring. On the hot seat today is a lady from the beautiful state of Ohio. She is an international bestselling author and her book ‘True Colors’ has gained a fanbase on several continents. She writes in different genres and loves making authors look good. I’m so glad she’s with us today and please have her name etched somewhere on your medulla oblongata as I believe you’ll be hearing more of it in the days to come. She has a lot to share with us today, so please join me in welcoming Krysten Lindsay Hager.

 

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and the first time someone complemented you on something you had written?

I’m a writer who used to work in journalism. The first time I got attention for something I wrote was when I won a writing contest in the first grade. I won a little clown doll (a cute one, not one of those scary ceramic clowns that can give a kid nightmares) for a school-wide essay contest.

 

What can a reader expect when they pick up a book written by Krysten Lindsay Hager?

I always write with humor because even the most difficult times in life are easier to take with a little humor.

 

What role would you say social media plays in building an author’s platform and have you found it helpful in marketing your books? True Colors Book Cover

I think it helps people know who you are as a person and a bit of what they can expect from your work. A lot of people who knew me before reading the book have said, “Oh, I can hear you in the novel.” Some people have said when Landry and her mom argue in the book about Landry modelling that you can hear me with my adult view of modelling versus my view of it at Landry’s age.

 

You write in multiple genres like Young Adult, Middle Grade and Adult Fiction. Has this created any unique challenges and how have you overcome them?

The only difference is some of the themes you touch on. I wouldn’t use anything political in a middle grade/YA book, but I can do that in an adult piece. And obviously any dating situation is different. But a lot of the emotions stay the same no matter what the age.

 

What were some of your favourite books as a child? 

I love Judy Blume’s Just as Long as We’re Together, My Mother was Never a Kid by Francine Pascal, The Great Mom Swap by Betsy Haynes, and Goodbye, Glamour Girl by Erika Tamar. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve re-read those books.

 

What book or film has the best dialogue that inspires you to be a better writer and why?

F. Scott Fitzgerald has such a way with dialogue. The Great Gatsby is a favourite. I’ll never understand why they assign it in middle school though. I didn’t appreciate it until later in life.

 

How do you reward yourself once your book is published? talk show set

I may have bought myself a bracelet and a necklace, but I can justify them both since the bracelet is similar to the one Landry wears in the True Colors (with a heart charm) and the butterfly necklace will appear in the sequel, Best Friends...Forever?

 

Toy Story or Shrek?

Toy Story all the way.

 

What three things should a first time visitor to Ohio do?

Well, I’m a book lover so I’m going to say check out Joseph-Beth Booksellers and Books & Co—both gorgeous bookstores. There’s an Air Force museum here and I personally love the train museum with all the little miniature displays of houses and towns. I have to say though that it throws me not living near the Great Lakes though. I’m from Michigan and I miss the lakes so I try to get home when I can.

 

With Christmas around the corner, can you tell us the most memorable gift you received growing up?  On a TV Show

I know I should say something like the gift of family togetherness, but let’s be honest, what can beat a Barbie Dream House? Kudos to my dad who spent ALL day putting that thing together…and was an awesome Ken…even if he spoke in a falsetto voice whenever he was Ken.

 

What can we expect from Krysten Lindsay Hager in the next 12 months?

I have a sequel to True Colors called, Best Friends…Forever? (Book 2: Landry’s True Colors series) coming out in 2015. I’m also working on another MG book, two YA ones and an adult humor novel. And I’m working on the third Landry book in the Landry’s True Colors series.

 

Where can readers and fans connect with you?

My website: http://www.krystenlindsay.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/KrystenLindsayHagerAuthor

Twitter: https://twitter.com/KrystenLindsay

Instagram: http://instagram.com/krystenlindsay

Amazon author page: http://www.amazon.com/Krysten-Lindsay-Hager/e/B00L2JC9P2/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1

 

Any advice for authors out there who are either just starting out or getting frustrated with the industry? TrueColorsbannerwebsite

If a writer is just starting out then I’d suggest taking a literature class to learn from the best—the classics. I’d also say to take as many classes on writing, literature as you can as well as going to conferences and workshops. You can never learn enough. If you’re getting frustrated then I’d say to write the story you want to read and not worry about whether or not it gets published. Take all that pressure off yourself and enjoy the whole writing process. The work will be a lot better that way and that will increase your chances of publication. Even if it doesn’t get published, the focus should be on the journey, not the destination.

 

Awesome! Thanks for not holding back and sharing so much from your journey. I think as authors we sometimes get frustrated and it’s because we take our eyes off of the ‘main thing’ – our calling to write. Please connect with Krysten at one of the links she provided. Check out Krysten’s books and grab a copy for yourself or a loved one. Also remember to share this interview using the social buttons below and leave a comment. Merry Christmas!

7 Comments on Author Interview with Krysten Lindsay Hager, last added: 12/18/2014
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17. Look! Up in the sky! It’s…Super Roger!

bow tie Look! Up in the sky! Its...Super Roger!This week Roger talked with living-comics-legend Stan Lee about his new book Zodiac. That made us think of Roger as a superhero: his bow tie doubles as a boomerang! to chase down bad-guys! and retrieve books off high library shelves! It also made us think of Roger in tights and Spandex, which just made us giggle. [Ed. note: You laugh NOW…]

We ask: do you know any superhero librarians? Either librarians who could be existing superheroes (So. Many. Catwoman. Jokes.) or those who could helm their very own, all-new Marvel franchises. Admittedly, Bow-Tie Man isn’t the most scintillating. What are some other ideas?

I’ve always thought K. T. Horning must be able to fly, for example. And Julie Roach is always smiling. But I’m not saying she’s The Joker (though, like Heath Ledger, may he rest in peace, she is cute as a button).

You can also share your thoughts here, by letting us know how you library.

Also, is Stephen Savage’s Supertruck the cutest superhero around or what?

share save 171 16 Look! Up in the sky! Its...Super Roger!

The post Look! Up in the sky! It’s…Super Roger! appeared first on The Horn Book.

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18. Free Fall Friday – Sad and Happy – Tummy Growling

christmasillo

These reindeers created by Christine Brallier are getting ready to take off on their Christmas Eve trip to help Santa deliver his gifts. It is from her children’s book, The Night Before Christmas.  The illustrations were created by Christine using stained glass mosaics. http://www.cbmosaics.com/book/

Creator of Clifford the Big Red Dog Norman Bridwell, 86, died last Friday at a hospital on Martha’s Vineyard. Scholastic says his over 150 titles have 129 million copies in print worldwide. Scholastic CEO Dick Robinson said, “Norman personified the values that we as parents and educators hope to communicate to our children – kindness, compassion, helpfulness, gratitude – through the Clifford stories which have been loved for more than fifty years.”

catchthecookie8b1a562c-48a0-4bfc-901c-64adfdf13395_zps49ace1cc Jama Kim Rattigan on her blog, Jama’s Alphabet Soup, featured H CATCH THAT COOKIE. I feature the book written by Hallie Drand (A.K.A Holly McGhee) and illustrated by David Small in August. You can click their names to view those posts. But Jama’s post are so much fun. She always ties books in with recipes.

I think I am going to try the recipe for the cookies in the post and show them off like she did with the book during Christmas.

Below is a list of the Ingredients, click the Directions at the bottom to jump back over to Jama’s blog to read the rest and see her fun display of her cookies and the book.

GINGERBREAD CUTOUT COOKIES

Total Time: Prep: 30 minutes + chilling. Bake: 10 minutes/batch + cooling.

Yield: 60 cookies

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 cup molasses
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Vanilla frosting of your choice
  • Red and green paste food coloring

Directions:

4_AB_ALetterto_ReinharzChildren’s writer Jennifer Reinharz reported a few months ago that she became a contributing writer at Mamalode. Her second article, A Letter to my Palestinian-American Muslim Friend has been posted. They track the number of unique views, likes, comments, and shares and they base her success on this, so if you get a chance take a minute to read her new article.

Jennifer says, “My path to Kidlit author has yet to be a straight line, but I can’t help but think that getting a chance to connect and share one of my stories with the Mommies, etc. is an example of heading right direction.”

This is a goods lesson for all of us. You just never know where your next success will come from and how one little thing can lead to another.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: inspiration, Kudos, News Tagged: Christine Brallier, Clifford the Big Red Dog, David Small, Hallie Durand, Jama's Alphabet Soup, Jennifer Reinharz, Norman Bridwell

10 Comments on Free Fall Friday – Sad and Happy – Tummy Growling, last added: 12/20/2014
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19. Last minute gift...no shipping required!




Dear Friends,

The holidays can be so wonderful but I know that there are also those who struggle at this time of year with poor health or loneliness so I hope you will join me and remember to reach out to those in need not only at Christmastime but all year round.

For those of you that still have those last minute gifts to buy, I am offering gift cards for a limited time in my shop. These come in a number of different price variants to choose from. No shipping required on these because they come to your email box with a special code that can be used to purchase anything in the shop so even if it is the day before Christmas and you still haven't gotten a gift for that special someone, no worries...this gift is available as soon as you place the order and with Phyllis Harris Designs gift cards
, customers purchase gift cards the same way they purchase any other product. And unlike a gift certificate, the shopper can spread the gift card balance over multiple visits.




I want to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and healthy and Happy New Year! Thank you for making my year so successful and happy. I couldn't do what I do without ALL of you!



Phyllis




Gifts that give back
Phyllis Harris Designs & You – Giving the gift of love and healing
Every purchase of a heart-warming Phyllis Harris Designs illustration print donates 5 percent of every illustration print sold from our website to Children's Mercy Hospital.  

Be sure and follow my social media networks to keep up with all that is going on. Here are the links:
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/PhyllisHarrisDesigns
Twitter: https://twitter.com/PhyllisHarris
Instagram: http://instagram.com/phyllisharrisdesigns
Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/phyllisha/



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20. Illustrator Saturday – Santa Favorites

I thought this Saturday I’d bring you some of the Santa’s from past Illustrator Saturdays. Remember that not every illustrator has done an illustration of Santa. I am sure I missed some Santa’s, so if you were featured on Illustrator Saturday and have a Santa that you would like me to add, please email me with the illustration and I will add it to the celebration of Santa.

Yvonnesantauntitled

Yvonne Gilbert http://kathytemean.wordpress.com/2013/11/09/illustrator-saturday-yvonne-gilbert/

wenzelsantaraindeers

David Thorn Wenzel – http://kathytemean.wordpress.com/2013/08/24/illustrator-saturday-david-thorn-wenzel/

ZimmerSanta_4

Glenn Zimmer – http://kathytemean.wordpress.com/2013/10/19/illustrator-saturday-glenn-zimmer/

ruthsantacircling house

Ruth Sanderson – http://kathytemean.wordpress.com/2012/03/17/illustrator-saturday-ruth-sanderson/

ruthsantaopeningbag

Ruth Sanderson – http://kathytemean.wordpress.com/2012/03/17/illustrator-saturday-ruth-sanderson/

santa

Michele Noiset – http://kathytemean.wordpress.com/2012/09/22/illustrator-saturday-michele-noiset/

santa

David Harrington – http://kathytemean.wordpress.com/2014/10/18/illustrator-saturday-david-harrington/

cressySantasNewYearsEveSML

Micheal Garland – http://kathytemean.wordpress.com/2013/08/31/illustrator-saturday-michael-garland/

yvonne51_Father_Christmas_Greeting-Card-1400

Yvonne Gilbert http://kathytemean.wordpress.com/2013/11/09/illustrator-saturday-yvonne-gilbert/

becciachristmas2

Carlyn Beccia – http://kathytemean.wordpress.com/2011/03/12/illustrator-saturday-carlyn-beccia/

santa running

Michele Noiset – http://kathytemean.wordpress.com/2012/09/22/illustrator-saturday-michele-noiset/

dillardsanta bear tree

Sarah Dillard – http://kathytemean.wordpress.com/2012/08/19/illustrator-saturday-sarah-dillard/

garland10087_465065250196522_1314917625_n

Michael Garland – http://kathytemean.wordpress.com/2013/08/31/illustrator-saturday-michael-garland/

ruthsantaworkshop

Ruth Sanderson – http://kathytemean.wordpress.com/2012/03/17/illustrator-saturday-ruth-sanderson/

Karen Romagna Santa_&_Lamb_For_Prints

Karen Romagna – http://kathytemean.wordpress.com/2011/05/14/illustrator-saturday-karen-romanga/

shawnaa2f6f359b451371b24ff958ad09b7d24

Shawna JC Tenney – http://kathytemean.wordpress.com/2013/04/20/illustrator-saturday-shawna-jc-tenney/

detwilerRedCanoe1-788x1024

Susan Detwiler – http://kathytemean.wordpress.com/2013/03/09/illustrator-saturday-susan-detwiler/

eberzSanta small

This Santa was done by Robert Eberz. Robert will be featured on Illustrator Saturday in January, so check back for more. www.roberteberz.com

Merry Christmas! Remember that I will be posting Christmas poems on Christmas Day, so if you have a Christmas poem, please email it to me.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy

 


Filed under: authors and illustrators, Holiday, Illustrator's Saturday, inspiration, Poems Tagged: Christmas, Santa Claus, Santa illustrations from Illustrator Saturday

4 Comments on Illustrator Saturday – Santa Favorites, last added: 12/20/2014
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21. Gift for Readers

giftPrintable Book Plates

Are you looking for a last-minute gift to give to your friends who love reading? Print out a bunch of these bookplates on pretty paper. Then trim them to size, tie them up with a ribbon, and you’re done! Your friends can stick them in all their favorite books. You can print some for yourself, too!

bookplate

You can find more bookplates to print out here.

Happy Holidays!

Sonja, STACKS Staffer

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22. Librarian Preview: Harper Collins (Spring 2015)

Oh, it’s a big one.  A big honking preview, this is.  Yes indeed, folks, Harper Collins is in town and they’ve a mess of good looking books just aching to arrive on your shelves.  Now the last time I attending a preview for HC I was massively pregnant with back pain to match.  This time around, in comparison, I was positively lithe, leaping from table to table as the editors showed us their pretty baubles.  Here then is an encapsulation of some of the goodies that will be hitting shelves nationwide fairly soon.  To wit:

Table One

At these librarian previews we the MLIS degree holders move from table to table, where each imprint gets its own say.  With Table One we began with Greenwillow and a season that’s going to feel a little distant to us for a while:

Finding Spring by Carin Berger (97800622510193)

FindingSpring Librarian Preview: Harper Collins (Spring 2015)

Cute, right?  In this story a bear is searching for spring.  So what does he find instead?  Snow.  Lots of it.  Done in Berger’s customary collage style, this is one artistic little book that rewards close reading.  Note, for example, that the snowflakes and flowers see in these pages are held in place by tiny pins.  Sort of gives the whole book a three-dimensional feel.  Gorgeous.

For a closer look at the interior art, stop on by Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast for a sneak peek.

Red by Michael Hall (9780062252074)

Red Librarian Preview: Harper Collins (Spring 2015)

I actually already talked a bit about this one back during the last Harper Collins preview, but I like it so very much that I’ll mention it again.  To wit, snarky faceless crayons populate a book where a blue crayon is mislabeled as red.  A pencil tells the tale (as you might imagine).  I’m already imagining a LOT of applications for this as a gift book.  It sells itself.

Touch the Brightest Star by Christie Matheson (9780062274472)

 TouchBrightestStar 500x500 Librarian Preview: Harper Collins (Spring 2015)

Since the popularity of Press Here by Herve Tullet, a load of different interactive picture books have swamped the market.  The best of these do more than simply tout their interactive elements, though.  And those that have a purpose above and beyond the directives aimed at child readers tend to be worth seeking out.  In Matheson’s latest, kids are encouraged to embrace the dark rather than fear it. Touch the firefly and watch it glow on the next page.  That sort of thing.  It’s interactive bedtime fare and even includes some night sky info as well.  Matheson first started these series of sorts with Tap the Magic Tree.  The plans for the third book in the works?  Planting a seed.  Awwww, yeah.

Backyard Witch: Sadie’s Story by Christine Heppermann, ill. Deborah Marcero (9780062338389)

BackyardWitch Librarian Preview: Harper Collins (Spring 2015)

That’s clever.  They were pitching this early chapter title as something to hand to the Ivy & Bean lovers of the world.  Of course it has magic in it, but that’s okay.  If author Christine Heppermann’s name sounds familiar that may be because she was recently responsible for the very YA Poisoned Apples this year. Switching gears a tad, she is now coming out with a story of Sadie.  When her two best friends go on vacation without her, she’s none too pleased.  A trip to her play house leads to the discovery of a Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle type witch.  She’s asked to help find the witch’s friends.  One is a bird (a yellow warbler) who was turned avian by mistake.  And since I’m always desperate for early readers, I’m excited to give this one a go.

Blackbird Fly by Erin Entrada Kelly (9780062238610)

BlackbirdFly Librarian Preview: Harper Collins (Spring 2015)

Oo. This one sounds exciting.  Written by an author who was born in the Philippines and moved to Louisiana, the book features a Filipino girl dealing with growing up.  The girls at school are no longer nice and her mom runs her home as if she’s still in the Philippines.  She would prefer to learn the guitar and emulate her favorite artist – George Harrison.  Sounds good.

Anyone but Ivy Pocket by Caleb Krisp (9780062364340)

IvyPocket Librarian Preview: Harper Collins (Spring 2015)

Note, if you will, the tiny skulls on the cover.  From what I could gather then it was a kind of Amelia Bedelia by way of Downton Abbey in a Tim Burton-like book with a Lemony Snicketesque plot.  Got that?  In this story the titular Ivy must deliver a diamond to a girl on her birthday.

Waiting by Kevin Henkes (9780062368430)

Waiting Librarian Preview: Harper Collins (Spring 2015)

I have excellent news.  I’ve seen the Caldecott winner of 2016.  You see?  I just saved you an entire year’s work.  Slap your hands together, folks, because your work is done.  Yes, Kevin Henkes has a new picture book coming out and it is absolutely fascinating.  The toys on the cover are, you see, waiting.  Based on Kevin’s kids’ own toys, the story takes place at a single setting: the window.  And you would be amazed how much drama can be derived from such a location.  Beautiful beautiful beautiful  . . . and not out until September 2015.  Sorry, guys.

The Doldrums by Nicholas Gannon (9780062320940)

Adélaïde Radio Librarian Preview: Harper Collins (Spring 2015)

What you’re seeing here isn’t the cover so much as an example of some of the full-color art found in this title.  Three kids (Archer, Adelaide, and Oliver) are waiting for an adventure.  Their intent?  To find Archer’s grandparents, last seen on an iceberg.  Add in a pinch of a Hitchcockian flavor and maybe a little Wes Anderson and you’ve got yourself a fascinating little number.

Table Two

Ding!  Moving on.

Bunnies by Kevan Atteberry (9780062307835)

Bunnies Librarian Preview: Harper Collins (Spring 2015)

I’m always on the lookout for that rarest of rare beasts: The very young readaloud picture book.  And in this story you will find precisely that.  Not too dissimilar from Bob Shea’s 2014 title Don’t Play With Your Food, the story centers on a monster with a serious bunny obsession.  They appear.  They disappear.  They don’t seem to care that all he wants in the whole entire world is just to see them.  Awww.

Teddy Mars Book #1: Almost a World Record Breaker by Molly B. Burnham, ill. Trevor Spencer (9780062278104)

TeddyMars Librarian Preview: Harper Collins (Spring 2015)

Teacher debut alert!  There are many things I could tell you about this book, but I think I’m just going to leave you will the first line (which may be slightly paraphrased, so forgive me if it’s not 100% accurate): “The day my brother crawled into the catbox I knew my life would never be the same.”

What This Story Needs Is a Pig in a Wig by Emma J. Virjan (9780062327246)

WhatThisStory Librarian Preview: Harper Collins (Spring 2015)

I’m also always on the lookout for picture books with very simple texts.  When the Geisel Award goes to picture books, I stand up and cheer.  Seems to me that this book, described as containing a text, “where every single word is important,” fits the bill. The plot is simple.  There is a pig.  Too many animals jump into her boat.  Hijinks ensue.

Stick Dog Dreams of Ice Cream by Tom Watson (9780062278074)

StickDogIceCream Librarian Preview: Harper Collins (Spring 2015)

Were you aware that Stick Dog started as an app?  Not I, said the fly.  Now on his third book, the eternally hungry hero continues to lure in readers not yet ready for Wimpy Kid, looking for something with slightly more text than Bad Kitty.  And the good news?  Stick Cat is on the horizon.  Woohoo!

Little Miss, Big Sis by Amy Krouse Rosenthal, ill. Peter H. Reynolds (9780062302038)

LittleMiss Librarian Preview: Harper Collins (Spring 2015)

Last seen in the book Plant a Kiss, two siblings return to the picture book stage.  Clever in its simplicity (and how has no one ever thought to write a title like this one before?) the book contains a young but very funny text.  And since funny is at a premium these days, this is a book I’ll be looking to read.

Lazy Dave by Peter Jarvis (9780062355980)

LazyDave 500x411 Librarian Preview: Harper Collins (Spring 2015)

One namer children’s authors are not unheard of (Avi, anyone?).  And like all one namers, Jarvis actually has two.  His name is Peter Jarvis and in 2015 he’ll be debuting with a story of a girl an her dog.  The girl in question loves the dog but is perturbed by the fact that he’s so ding dang lazy.  Truth is, the dog gets up to a LOT of adventures.  He just happens to experience them through sleepwalking.  Certainly this will pair well with that recent TOON book Tippy and the Night Parade, that’s for sure.  Look for Jarvis to come out with Forgetful Fred at some point as well.

Table Three

Listen, Slowly by Thanhha Lai (9780062229182)

ListenSlowly Librarian Preview: Harper Collins (Spring 2015)

I covered this book briefly in my last Harper Collins preview, but it’s just so nice I’ll cover it twice.  Coming from the author of Inside Out and Back Again, this book is Thanhha Lai’s first title since she won her Newbery Honor.  No pressure or anything.  Fortunately it looks as though she’s not let the win go to her head.  Like her last book, this story also features a child of Vietnamese parents, but there the similarities pretty much stop.  Writing in prose, in this contemporary novel a girl lives in Orange County with her family and grandmother.  When her grandma discovers that there may be new information about her husband, who disappeared during the Vietnam War, our heroine finds herself forced to go along.  Inspired by family history it’s getting starred reviews left and right.  Better check it out then.

Ferals by Jacob Grey (9780062321039)

Ferals Librarian Preview: Harper Collins (Spring 2015)

10 points to the author and publisher for not naming this book “Crow Boy”.  The temptation to do so must have been extreme.  I mean, c’mon.  “Raised by crows”?  Writes itself.  Described to us as “Batman meets The Graveyard Book” (surprised they didn’t reference the film The Crow as well) the story stars a boy named Caw.  He has the ability to speak to crows, which marks him as a “feral”.  Now the most evil feral, a fellow known as the Spinning Man, is returning.  Beware the spiders, folks.

The Last Dragon Charmer #1: Villain Keeper (9780062308436)

VillainKeeper Librarian Preview: Harper Collins (Spring 2015)

Here’s a term you may never hear again, but that just sounds interesting: Reverse portal fantasy. Know what it is?  Well, the plot of this book might give you a hint.  In this story a prince wants to slay a dragon.  Pretty standard stuff.  Or at least it would be if the prince wasn’t mysteriously sent to Asheville, NC.  Number of dragons in Asheville?  Zero.  Or so you might think . . . They said this would be a good complementary title to The Hero’s Guide for Saving Your Kingdom.  Absolutely.

Gone Crazy in Alabama by Rita Williams-Garcia (9780062215871)

GoneCrazy Librarian Preview: Harper Collins (Spring 2015)

It’s here!  It’s here!  It’s almost here!  In April or so we’ll be seeing the third and final volume in the Rita Williams-Garcia series that began with One Crazy Summer. I thoroughly approve of the clothes featured on the cover here (the bell bottoms on book #2 still rankle).  In this book the girls take a bus to visit Big Ma in the family home.  The time period is Summer 1969.  The place?  Alabama.  And the three find out pretty quickly that they are not exactly in the best possible time and place to be chanting Black Power slogans.  The editor, Rosemary Brosnan, said in all seriousness that it’s the best of the three.

Monstrous by MarcyKate Connolly, ill. Skottie Young (9780062272713)

Monstrous Librarian Preview: Harper Collins (Spring 2015)

They say it’s Frankenstein meets the Brothers Grimm but I suspect there might be a bit of Monster High stuck in there on the side.  Meet our heroine.  She has the eyes of a cat, the wings of a raven, and she has one purpose in life: To rescue girls under the spell of an evil wizard.  Simple, right?  But when you’re a monster you have to learn that sometimes there are things and people out there even more monstrous than you.

Endangered by Lamar Giles (9780062297563)

Endangered Librarian Preview: Harper Collins (Spring 2015)

Yep.  This one’s a YA novel but I’m highlighting it because it’s one of the very rare titles with a contemporary African-American girl on the cover.  Little wonder.  It’s by #WeNeedDiverseBooks fellow Lamar Giles.  Well played.

Table 4

Meet the Dullards by Sara Pennypacker, ill. Daniel Salmieri (978006198563)

Dullards Librarian Preview: Harper Collins (Spring 2015)

Now again, we talked about this book before, but there’s a lot to love here.  Salmieri, man.  That kid’s going places.  It hurts matters not a jot that his Dragons Love Tacos is on the New York Times bestseller list every week right now (sidenote: the best Dragons Love Tacos video of all time is here).  In this book long time pro Pennypacker pairs with Salmieri to present what may be the greatest childhood metaphor of all time.  Mom and Dad are dull.  Proudly so, and like all good parents they are attempting to inculcate their children in the wide and wonderful world of blahness.  Trouble is, the kids are dangerously attracted to activities more interesting than watching paint dry.  The description? “The Stupids with boring people”.  Nice.

Cat and Bunny by Mary Lundquist (9780062287809)

CatBunny 500x474 Librarian Preview: Harper Collins (Spring 2015)

Doesn’t look like much from the cover, does it?  But doggone it if this isn’t one of the cleverer little books coming out right now.  A debut, the book features a large menagerie (for lack of a better word) of kids in animal costumes.  In this book, a topic horribly familiar to many a kiddo is tackled: Sharing your best friend.  Quail, you see, wants to play with Bunny but Cat is NOT down with that plan.  Understanding ensues.  Talk about a topic parents ask for that we hardly have any books to cover!!  Note: My table insisted that the endpapers be turned into a poster someday.

If You Plant a Seed by Kadir Nelson (9780062298898)

IfYouPlant 500x500 Librarian Preview: Harper Collins (Spring 2015)

Kadir continues with the cute.  Picasso had his Blue Period.  Kadir has his Cute Period.  Described as “intense”, in this book a mouse and a rabbit plant a seed.  What ensues is a tale of selfishness, kindness, karma, and consequences.

First Snow by Peter McCarty (9780062189967)

FirstSnow 500x464 Librarian Preview: Harper Collins (Spring 2015)

Okay.  So we need diverse books, right?  Absolutely.  But don’t we also need diverse animal stories?  Is there any reason why animals can’t be diverse as well?  Peter McCarty has always been remarkably good in this arena.  Now he continues his series of books starring familiar characters.  He began with Henry In Love, continued with Chloe, and now we have First Snow.  Pedro is from South America and has come to spend time with his cousins in the north.  When they learn that he has no experience with snow they insist that he join in the fun.  He takes some convincing, of course.  Snow is, and it’s hard to argue with this, cold.  Fortunately a sledding mishap ends with the unintentional consequence of Pedro suddenly loving the white, fluffy, and (yes) cold stuff.  Great great great.

Every Little Bit of You is Yummy! by Tim Harrington (9780062328168)

EveryLittleBit Librarian Preview: Harper Collins (Spring 2015)

Like a lot of librarians I’m always on the lookout for good picture book readalouds.  Did you see Jbrary’s 2014 Favourite Storytime Picture Books?  That’s the kind of stuff I’m talking about.  So I was intrigued by what Harrington is doing here.  Like a kind of follow-up to Eric Carle’s From Head to Toe, the book is interactive with a song online to boot.

Masterminds by Gordon Korman (9780062299963)

Masterminds Librarian Preview: Harper Collins (Spring 2015)

The heart wants what it wants.  And what my heart wants right now is for 2015 to arrive so that I can finally pick this book up and read it.  For whatever reason, Gordon Korman has managed to pen a book that pushes all my buttons.  As a kid I would have been all over this thing.  You see, in this book a group of kiddos live in a kind of Pleasantville-ish town.  They’re good kids too.  Then one day a kid bicycles to the town limits and pretty quickly they discover that nothing they know is the truth.  They’re a sociological experiment in the making and their purpose has yet to reveal itself.

The Girl in the Torch by Rob Sharenow (9780062227959)

GirlTorch Librarian Preview: Harper Collins (Spring 2015)

Here in New York we children’s librarians keep one eye peeled at all times for NYC-related children’s book fare.  Happily there’s a bloody ton of it out there.  Case in point, a book they’re calling “Hugo Cabret meets True Grit“.  While on Ellis Island a girl’s mother dies in quarantine.  So what’s a daughter to do?  With the prospect of deportation looming, our heroine does what any forward thinking young woman would.  She decides to live in the torch of The Statue of Liberty.  Tackling big themes like what it means to be “American”, this just sounds fun.

Joey and Johnny, the Ninjas: Get Mooned by Kevin Serwacki, ill. Chris Pallace (9780062299338)

JoeyJohnny Librarian Preview: Harper Collins (Spring 2015)

Speaking of fun: Ninjas!  Ninjas make everything better.  The first in a four book series, imagine if Roald Dahl wrote a story about a ninja school and it was then animated by the creators of Adventure Time.  That’s what you’ll get in this book of two competing ninja schools.  Apparently the book tackles the tricky issue of taking the easy way out of things.  With ninjas.  Did I mention that part before?

Moonpenny Island by Tricia Springstubb (9780062112934)

MoonpennyIsland Librarian Preview: Harper Collins (Spring 2015)

Gilbert Ford.  I hope he’s very rich by now.  Periodically middle grade book covers go through phases.  There was the Brett Hardinger phase for a while, and before that the C.F. Payne phase.  Now it’s all Gilbert Ford all the way.  He started out luring in the kiddos with the Pseudonymous Bosch “Secret” series, and cemented his reign with the Newbery Honor book Three Times Lucky.  There’s just something appealing about his style.  Now he’s done the cover for the latest Tricia Springstubb novel.  This book is about seeing things for the first time.  It’s also about a mom who leaves to take care of grandma, themes of evolution, and a load of trilobites (note the cover).

The Dungeoneers by John David Anderson (9780062338143)

Dungeoneers Librarian Preview: Harper Collins (Spring 2015)

Hard to tell.  Is this a Dan Santat cover?  Sure looks like one.  In any case, the author of the delightful Sidekicked is back, but not with any superhero tales this time.  Nope, this is a story of Colm.  He’s a peasant who, quite frankly is fed up with being a peasant.  After picking the wrong pocket (to put it mildly) Colm’s given a choice.  He could be done away with in a suitably medieval manner or he can become a member of low born adventurers.  He chooses the latter and is enthralled, until he realizes that there are problem with this particular group.

Omega City by Diana Peterfreund (9780062310859)

OmegaCity Librarian Preview: Harper Collins (Spring 2015)

Strap in, folks.  We’re clearly in adventure mode now.  I don’t know about you but I’ve noticed a significant uptick in the number of books described using Goonies as a reference.  They called the Little, Brown & Co. book If You Find This by Matthew Baker as “Goonies meets Holes“.  Now Harper Collins is calling Omega CityGoonies meets City of Ember“.  After a girl’s father loses his job she follows clues left by a diary and finds an underground bunker.  It’s first in a three book series and promises action.  Just so long as it doesn’t reference Omega Man in any way (it’s the title that made me think of it) we’re cool.

The Arctic Code by Matthew J. Kirby (978006224873)

ArcticCode Librarian Preview: Harper Collins (Spring 2015)

That Matthew Kirby.  He just can’t keep away from ice.  First it was the remarkable Icefall.  Now he has a new three book series set in the near future.  Earth has succumbed to a new Ice Age.  Meanwhile our hero’s mother is in the Arctic doing some kind of work there.  When she disappears after sending a cryptic message, her daughter Eleanor goes to find her.  Apparently the book asks the rather difficult question, if we can’t save everyone on earth, who do we save and why?  Sounds like it would pair well with the Rebecca Stead debut novel First Light.

A Study in Scarlet by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, ill. Gris Grimly (9780062293756)

StudyScarlet Librarian Preview: Harper Collins (Spring 2015)

Cool . . . and YA.  Doggone it.  Yes, the wonderful Gris Grimly is back and this time he’s chosen to illustrate the debut of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s most famous hero.  In color no less!  Now when I saw what book it was I admit I was a bit incredulous.  Anyone who has read this knows that there is a LONG section dedicated to a subplot involving Mormons in America.  I asked and yes indeed.  The Mormons made it into this book intact.  Fascinating.

Table 5

Picture Perfect #1: Bending Over Backwards by Cari Simmons (9780062310224)

BendingOver Librarian Preview: Harper Collins (Spring 2015)

Someday an enterprising librarian in a small system will create stickers that say “snark free” or “mean girl free” and put them on certain titles in their collection.  I know that when I was a kid I would have vastly preferred those kinds of books.  Those stickers would actually apply pretty well to this new series by Cari Simmons.  Each story is a standalone but they all have one thing in common: What happens when you realize that you and your longtime best friend are two VERY different people?  They said it was for the Mix / Candy Apple readers.  I say it’s also for the fans of The Kind of Friends We Used to Be and the upcoming Roller Girl by Victoria Jamieson.

Archie Greene and the Magician’s Secret by D.D. Everest (9780062312112)

ArchieGreene Librarian Preview: Harper Collins (Spring 2015)

Kids, here’s some safe advice.  Should you receive an ancient book for your birthday, just put that sucker down.  You don’t want to know what it’s going to get you into.  In the case of Archie Greene, such a book helps him to discover that he’s a Flame Keeper, charged to find and preserve magical books.  Mind you, occasionally there are books where characters pop out of their pages.  Just consider that one of the hazards of the job.

The Fog Diver by Joel Ross (9780062352934)

FogDiver Librarian Preview: Harper Collins (Spring 2015)

Adventure! Pirates! Airships! Slum kids who’s made themselves a kind of patched together family.  In the future we live in the sky.  Why?  Because a deadly fog is on the ground, of course.  The worse news?  It’s rising.  For that reason we’re all living on the mountaintops these days.  The wealthy are the uppermost while fog divers scavenge below.  Our heroes must save their guardian and to do so they must go on a journey.  Amongst them is a boy who can survive the fog so, naturally, the bad guy wants him.  This will be the first of two books in the series.

The Keepers: The Box and the Dragonfly (9780062275820)

Keepers Librarian Preview: Harper Collins (Spring 2015)

And this one will be the first of four books.  I’ve written about this before, actually.  In this book a boy meets a group called “The Keepers” and is given a box that shows the future.  Only thing is, this isn’t a fantasy.  Nope.  It’s a highly developed science fiction title where all the “magical” elements are based on theoretical physics.

Mars Evacuees by Sophia McDougall (9780062293992)

MarsEvacuees Librarian Preview: Harper Collins (Spring 2015)

My resident science fiction expert librarian (see: Views from the Tesseract) assures me that this book is excellent.  In it, Earth is at war with aliens so the kids are evacuating to Mars.  Our heroine arrives there and next thing you know all the adults have disappeared.  So the kids, the robots, and an alien (!) team up.  They described this one as Pixar-esque with plenty of humor.  And the name of the sequel?  Space Hostages.  Awesome.

And that’s that!  All that remains is to look at the . . .

Best Meets

You know, sometimes in my quieter moments I look back and think about my favorite bizarre “meets” overheard at a preview.  It didn’t even use the word “meets”, but the implication was clear.  The name of the book has long since faded from my mind but the description . . . ah, the description is forever.  “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon . . . on MARS!”  Still the best.  In the meantime, these are pretty good too:

“The Monkey’s Paw meets E. Lockhardt meets Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” – The Cost of All Things by Maggie Lehrman

“X-Men meets Game of Thrones” – The Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

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23. Scorpion Bombs: the rest of the story

The world recently learned that the Islamic State in Iraq (ISIS) has resurrected a biological weapon from the second century. Scorpion bombs are being lobbed into towns and villages to terrorize the inhabitants. As the story goes, this tactic was used almost 2,000 years ago against the desert stronghold of Hatra which was once a powerful, walled city 50 miles southwest of Mosul. But this historical interpretation might be just a bit too quick.

What we know from the writings of Herodian, who documented the ancient attacks by Hatrians on Roman invaders, is that the people crafted earthenware bombs loaded with “insects.” The favored hypothesis is that these devices were loaded with scorpions. And it’s true that these creatures (although not insects) were abundant in the desert. In fact, Persian kings offered bounties for these stinging arthropods to ensure the safe and pain-free passage of lucrative caravans through the region. But the local abundance of scorpions is not sufficient to draw a conclusion.

Scorpions tend toward cannibalism, so packing a bunch of these creatures into canisters for any period of time would have been (and presumably still is) a problem. According to an ancient writer, powdered monkshood could be used to sedate scorpions, although at high doses this plant extract is insecticidal (how ISIS solves this problem is not evident). But there’s another problem with the scorpion hypothesis.

A Syrian account of the siege of Hatra specified that the residents used “poisonous flying insects” to repulse the Romans. But, of course, scorpions don’t fly. One possibility is that the natural historians of yore were thinking of the scorpionfly (a flying insect in which the male genitalia curl over the back and resemble a scorpion’s tail), but these are small creatures are found in damp habitats, not deserts. Another possibility is that ancient reports of scorpions becoming airborne during high winds account for flying scorpions, although such a remarkable phenomenon hasn’t been reported by modern biologists. Finally, some scholars speculate that the clay bombshells were filled with assassin bugs, which can fly and deliver extremely painful bites.

Leiurus quinquestriatus, or deathstalker scorpion. Photo by  Matt Reinbold. CC BY-SA 2.0 via furryscalyman Flickr.
Leiurus quinquestriatus, or deathstalker scorpion. Photo by Matt Reinbold. CC BY-SA 2.0 via furryscalyman Flickr.

In the end, it seems likely that the Hatrian defenders and the ISIS militants latched onto the opportunities presented by the local arthropod fauna. But why would scorpions be so terrifying then or now? These creatures deliver a painful sting to be sure, but they are only rarely deadly. The responses of the Roman invaders and the Iranian townsfolk seem disproportionate to the consequences of being stung.

To understand why panic ensues when insects (or scorpions) rain down on a village, we must appreciate the evolutionary and cultural relationships between these creatures and the human mind. Our fear of insects and their relatives is rooted in six qualities of these little beasts—and scorpions score well.

  • First, our reaction arises from the capacity of these creatures to invade our homes and bodies. Scorpions, with their nocturnal activity and flattened bodies, are adept at slipping under doorsills and hiding in our shoes, closets, and furniture.
  • Second, insects and their kin have the ability to evade us through quick, unpredictable movements. While scorpions might not skitter with the panache of cockroaches, they are still reasonably nimble.
  • Third, many insects undergo rapid population growth and reach staggeringly large numbers which threaten our sense of individuality. While scorpions are not particulary prolific, having them scatter from exploding canisters (as described in the modern attacks), surely generates a sense of frightening abundance.
  • Fourth, various arthropods can harm us both directly (biting and stinging) and indirectly (transmitting disease and destroying our property). Scorpions certainly qualify in the former sense, as they are well-prepared to deliver a dose of venom that elicits intense pain, sometimes accompanied by a slowed pulse, irregular breathing, convulsions—and occasionally, death.
  • Fifth, insects and their relatives instill a disturbing sense of otherness with their alien bodies. Scorpions are hideously animalistic, even rather monstrous being like a demonic blending of a crab, spider, and a viper in terms of their form and function.
  • Sixth, these creatures defy our will and control through a kind of depraved mindlessness or radical autonomy. Scorpions can appear to be like tiny robots, with their jointed bodies and legs taking them into the world without regard to fear or decency.

Perhaps it is in this last sense that scorpions most resemble the ISIS assailants. Both seem to be predators, unconstrained by ethical constraints, maniacally and unreflectively seeking to satisfy their own bestial desires. Of course, we ought not to dehumanize our enemy—no matter how brutal his actions—by equating him with insects or their kin. (This rhetorical move has been made throughout history to justify horrible treatment of other people.) But perhaps this sense of amorality accounts for our fear of both ISIS and their unwitting, arthropod conscripts.

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24. The Many Sides of Santaand Some Art from Chuck Groenink



 

Last week at Kirkus, I chatted here with children’s book author and poet Bob Raczka, so today I’m following up with some of Chuck Groenink’s illustrations from Raczka’s Santa Clauses: Short Poems from the North Pole, released by Carolrhoda Books in September. Groenink, as I mentioned in the column last week, is from the Netherlands but now lives in New York. I highly recommend exploring the art at his site or even his tumblr. If you subscribe to the Horn Book, you’ll recognize him from the cover art of the current issue.

I’m tellin’ you what. We see lots of new holiday picture books every year, many easily forgettable, but I really like this one. I’d love to see a 2015 7-Imp interview with Groenink so that we can see way more art from him. Don’t you agree?

Enjoy the art.


“…Wishes blowing in / from my overfilled mailbox— / December’s first storm …”
(Click to enlarge spread)


 


“…The north wind and I / whistling to ‘Let It Snow!’ / on the radio.”
(Click to enlarge spread)


 


(Click to see spread in its entirety)


 



 

* * * * * * *

SANTA CLAUSES: SHORT POEMS FROM THE NORTH POLE. Copyright © 2014 by Bob Raczka. Illustrations copyright © 2014 by Chuck Groenink and reproduced by permission of the publisher, Carolrhoda Books.

1 Comments on The Many Sides of Santaand Some Art from Chuck Groenink, last added: 12/19/2014
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25. The Free Comic Book Day Silver Titles are Pretty Awesome

20 f5381 685x1028 The Free Comic Book Day Silver Titles are Pretty Awesome

By: Alexander Jones

After revealing the first wave of Free Comic Book Day titles, it was only a matter of time before the rest of them started to pop up. This next batch is very exciting, and full of fun offerings from all your favorite publishers with the big guns like Marvel and DC, along with Valiant, Comix Tribe, IDW, Image, Oni and the mysterious new Legendary Comics imprint that kicked off with Grant Morrison’s Annihilator. DC still has their titles blocked out with the letters ‘TOP SECRET’ sitting on the front page, it’s likely whatever these comics are will be revealed closer towards Convergence. Of course, Marvel is launching Avengers material close to their upcoming Avengers: Age of Ultron film. Included in this silver collection of titles is a lot of material from other media, meant to turn you non-comics reading friends completely addicted to this medium. See if Attack on Titan, Avatar, or Sonic can hook your non-reading friends. Free Comic Book Day is on the first Saturday of May. CBR broke the news this morning with covers, and quick description information. All these titles are considered silver comics, with the gold titles being the first wave of books.

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  • 2000 AD Special–FCBD 2015 EDITION
  • And Then Emily Was Gone–FCBD 2015 EDITION
  • Avengers #1–FCBD 2015 EDITION
  • Bodie Troll & Friends–FCBD 2015 EDITION

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  • Captain Canuck–FCBD 2015 EDITION
  • CBLDF Defend Comics–FCBD 2015 EDITION
  • Comics Festival–FCBD 2015 EDITION
  • Dark Horse All Ages Avatar PVZ Bandette–FCBD 2015 EDITION

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  • DC Comics Silver Book–FCBD 2015 EDITION
  • GFT Wonderland Special Edition One Shot (MR)–FCBD 2015 EDITION
  • Graphix Spotlight Cleopatra In Space–FCBD 2015 EDITION
  • Gronk and Friends–FCBD 2015 EDITION

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  • Hatter M Love of Wonder–FCBD 2015 EDITION
  • Hip Hop Family Tree 3-in-1 Featuring Cosplayers (MR)–FCBD 2015 EDITION
  • Ice Bayou Blackout–FCBD 2015 EDITION
  • Jojos Bizarre Adventure and Yu Gi Oh–FCBD 2015 EDITION

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  • Jurassic Strike Force 5 One Shot–FCBD 2015 EDITION
  • Kodansha Comics Sampler–FCBD 2015 EDITION
  • Lady Justice–FCBD 2015 EDITION
  • Legendary Comics Sampler–FCBD 2015 EDITION

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  • March Grand Prix–FCBD 2015 EDITION
  • Mercury Heat Debut (MR)–FCBD 2015 EDITION
  • Motorcycle Samurai–FCBD 2015 EDITION
  • Overstreet Comic Book Marketplace–FCBD 2015 EDITION

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  • Phantom Special–FCBD 2015 EDITION
  • Rabbids–FCBD 2015 EDITION
  • Sonic the Hedgehog Mega Man Worlds Unite Prelude–FCBD 2015 EDITION
  • Stan Lee Chakra The Invincible–FCBD 2015 EDITION

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  • Steampunk Goldilocks–FCBD 2015 EDITION
  • Street Fighter Super Combo Special–FCBD 2015 EDITION
  • Stuff of Legend Call to Arms–FCBD 2015 EDITION
  • Supermutant Magic Academy Step Aside Pops Combo–FCBD 2015 EDITION

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  • Tales of Honor–FCBD 2015 EDITION
  • Terrible Lizard #1–FCBD 2015 EDITION
  • The Tick–FCBD 2015 EDITION
  • TMNT Prelude to Vengeance–FCBD 2015 EDITION

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  • Valiant 25TH Anniversary Special–FCBD 2015 EDITION
  • Worlds of Aspen–FCBD 2015 EDITION

3 Comments on The Free Comic Book Day Silver Titles are Pretty Awesome, last added: 12/18/2014
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