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1. Thank You For The Books

Throughout the year, we receive countless thank you notes from children across the country who receive books of their very own thanks to generous support from friends like you.  We hope you enjoy this note of thanks from Patricia, a student at Adrian Elementary in South Euclid, Ohio.

On behalf of all our young readers, we wish you a Happy Thanksgiving and a wonderful holiday season.

Kid thank you note for pre-Thanksgiving copy

The post Thank You For The Books appeared first on First Book Blog.

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2. Getting Rid of Stuff

With our impending move to Scotland, we're going through everything we own and starting to get rid of things. Downsizing in a big way. It's turning out to be a much bigger deal than I ever could have imagined, so I thought I'd document it.
      Stuff. Who knew I had so much of it? Collections from a lifetime. Some which I inherited from others, some from our own fancies and general journey through life. It's all got to go. Stan and I are streamlining, making ourselves more mobile. But some of these things are difficult to part with. So, we have a new hobby...
     Each weekend we choose another drawer, closet, nook or cranny to filter through and disseminate. Options: Trash, Consignment, eBay, Craigslist, future garage sale, donation. I'm already on a first name basis with the manager of my local consignment shop. Why? This past week was Christmas decorations. We have some lovely things - truly. But they don't ship well, and they take up a lot of storage space. So the big question has become, "Would you rather have this stuff, or take a weekend trip to (insert country name here)?" Guess what wins.
     Sometimes I can take a picture to remember the items that hurt to part with. Sometimes I can keep one small thing out of three if its symbolic of a set. The point being, I don't have to keep all of it for it to make me happy.
     Last night's project was a box of photographs. I went through three boxes and got them down to one. It wasn't as hard as I thought. There were a lot of duplicates, candids, photos of people I don't remember. Outta there! And I'm doing it in stages. I still have too many photos, but that was round one. Get rid of the obvious ones that don't need to stick around. Round two will be harder, I'm guessing. But that's where scanning will come in. My online photo albums will become much more thorough.
     I like the advice given at Houzz: 10 Steps for Saying Goodbye to Sentimental Objects. It says to never keep something that dredges up bad memories. I like that.
     And the big advice I use for all of this is a joke by Stephen Wright... He said something along the lines of "I have a very vast seashell collection. Perhaps you've seen it. I keep it scattered across the beaches around the world." The point being, I don't have to own something to make it special. Sometimes it's good enough that the thing just simply exists in the world.

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3. The GREAT Screamin Jay Hawkins - I´m Lonely - Live 1999

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4. Celebrate Thanksgiving with a Picture Book And Not a Pocketbook

Thanksgiving Is a Time of Giving Thanks

 

Turkey Day is just around the corner and families are already making plans to gather.

Thanksgiving is a time of giving thanks for the many blessings we enjoy – our homes, our harvests and the time we spend with our families. In our current culture, that time seems increasingly to be disappearing with the rapidity of cranberry, turkey and stuffing off a Thanksgiving platter.

Many stores today are impinging on that ever closing window of family time, even on traditional family holidays such as Thanksgiving. They are opening on Thanksgiving Day itself to get a jump on the traditional kick-off of the holiday shopping season, termed by retailers as “Black Friday.” I often wondered why that particular term was adopted, but I guess it’s because retailers have a grand opportunity to get into “the black” or plus side of the profit ledger on THAT day, if they haven’t been all year. I am certainly NOT against retailers, profits by any means, nor a vigorous economy, but can we hold the cash register “ka ching” till AFTER the turkey has at least cooled?

Stores are starting to try and outdo themselves with earlier and earlier opening times on Thanksgiving Day. Macy’s may have been one of the first to kick it off following its grand daddy of all Thanksgiving Day Parades, with the air barely let out of those lofty balloons of Superman and Snoopy, than the doors of Macy’s swing open at 6pm, two hours earlier than last year, to shoppers jamming their store for bargains!

ToysRUs is opening at 5pm not to be outdone. Best Buy will open also at 6pm on Thanksgiving Day and here’s one I had to blink to believe was true. Kmart shoppers attention: IT will open at 8am! That’s right, they will open in the morning, in case you would like to pop the bird in and then get a little shopping done BEFORE the guests arrive.

Maybe I am sounding just a mite peevish over this, but sometimes BIG changes in a culture happen so gradually, we rarely take issue until it’s a done deal. All right maybe this might be an over reaction on my part, and people should have the right to shop when they want to, even at the cost of family time. BUT, those stores must be staffed with OTHER people that might not have had the option to work on a day they might have preferred to lie on the couch after the turkey, and be lulled with tryptophan from the bird – with a good book. Great idea! and here’s a thought: maybe that shopping time could be better spent reading to a captive audience of small children gathered, and now sated at the feast, that famous six stanza poem by Lydia Maria Child, “Over the River And Through the Wood”. Plus, here are a great selection of others to choose from:

 

The Night Before Thanksgiving – Natasha Wing

In Every Tiny Grain of Sand – Reeve Lindbergh

Balloons Over Broadway – Melissa Sweet

Turkey Riddles – Katy Hall

I Know An Old Lady Who Swallowed a Pie – Alison Jackson

One Little, Two Little, Three Little Pilgrims – B.G. Hennessy

The First Thanksgiving Day: A Counting Book – Lauren Kraus Melmed; illus. Mark Buehner

Thank You Sarah: The Woman Who Saved Thanksgiving – Laurie Halse Anderson

The Firefighters’ Thanksgiving – Maribeth Bolts; illus. by Terry Widener

 

And so, as Dickens’ Bob Cratchit intoned to his family on another holiday, “To the founder of the feast!”, and as far as I’m concerned, those founders would probably agree with me, and ask us to put off our shopping for just one more day!!

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5. Interlude.....Screamin' Jay Hawkins - Little Demon

While I finish repricing books on the online store and sort out the total **** up lulu.com has made of some files and not even told me about (nice) time for an interlude.  Normal service will resume as soon as possible.

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6. Preparing the table, at Thanksgiving

This photograph was taken a few short weeks ago, during our first slight snowfall, when the leaves on the trees that shelter my deck were still clinging to their limbs, or falling in red surges.

Today we watch rain turning to slush turning to snow and wait for those we love to find us.

These are restless days in our nation, and on our planet. I wish you peace as you wait, as you watch, as you wrangle with the news which is always, ultimately, personal.


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7. The Classical world from A to Z

For over 2,000 years the civilizations of ancient Greece and Rome have captivated our collective imagination and provided inspiration for many aspects of our lives, from culture, literature, drama, cinema, and television to society, education, and politics. With over 700 entries on everything and anything related to the classical world in the Oxford Companion to Classical Civilization, we created an A-Z list of facts you should know about the time period.

Alexander the Great: He believed himself the descendent of Heracles, Perseus, and Zeus. By 331 he had begun to represent himself as the direct son of Zeus, with dual paternity comparable to that of Heracles.

Baths: Public baths, often located near the forum (civic centre), were a normal part of Roman towns in Italy by the 1st century BC, and seem to have existed at Rome even earlier. Bathing occupied a central position in the social life of the day.

Christianity: By the end of the 4th century, Christianity had largely triumphed over its religious competition, although a pagan Hellenic tradition would continue to flourish in the Greek world and rural and local cults also persisted.

Democracy: Political rights were restricted to adult male Athenians. Women, foreigners, and slaves were excluded. An Athenian came of age at 18 when he became a member of his father’s deme and was enrolled in the deme’s roster, but as epheboi, most young Athenians were liable for military service for two years, before at the age of 20, they could be enrolled in the roster of citizen who had access to the assembly. Full political rights were obtained at 30 when a citizen was allowed to present himself as candidate at the annual sortation of magistrate and jurors.

The goddess Juno
The goddess Juno. Photo by Carole Raddato. CC BY-SA 2.0 via Flickr.

Education, Greek: Greek ideas of education, whether theoretical or practical, encompassed upbringing and cultural training in the widest sense, not merely school and formal education. The poets were regarded as the educators of their society.

Food and drink: The Ancient diet was based on cereals, legumes, oil, and wine. Meat was a luxury for most people.

Gems: Precious stones were valued in antiquity as possessing magical and medicinal virtues, as ornaments, and as seals when engraved with a device.

Hephaestus was the Greek god of fire, of blacksmiths, and of artisans.

Ivory plaques at all classical periods decorated furniture and were used for the flesh parts of cult statues and for temple doors.

Juno was an old and important Italian goddess and one of the chief deities of Rome. Her name derives from the same root as iuventas (youth), but her original nature remains obscure.

Kinship in antiquity constituted a network of social relationship constructed through marriage and legitimate filiation, and usually included non-kin — especially slaves.

Libraries: The Great Roman libraries provided reading-rooms, one for Greek and one for Latin with books in niches around the walls. Books would generally be stored in cupboards which might be numbered for reference.

Marriage in the ancient world was a matter of personal law, and therefore a full Roman marriage could exist only if both parties were Roman citizen or had the right to contract marriage, either by grant to a group or individually.

Narrative: An interest in the theory of narrative is already apparent in Aristotle, whose Poetics may be considered the first treatise of narratology.

Ostracism in Athenian society the 5th century BC was a method of banishing a citizen for ten years. It is often hard to tell why a particular man was ostracized. Sometimes the Athenians seem to have ostracized a man to express their rejection of a policy for which he stood for.

Plato of Athens descended from wealthy and influential Athenian families on both sides. He rejected marriage and the family duty of producing citizen sons; he founded a philosophical school, the Academy; and he published written philosophical works.

Quintilian, a Roman rhetorician, advised that children start learning Greek before Latin. The Roman Empire was bilingual at the official, and multilingual at the individual and non-official, level.

Ritual: The central rite of Greek and Roman religion is animal sacrifice. It was understood as a gift to the gods.

Samaritans, the inhabitants of Samaria saw themselves as the direct descendants of the northern Israelite tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh, left behind by the Assyrians in 722 BC.

Temple of Zeus
Temple of Zeus. Photo by David Stanley. CC BY 2.0 via Flickr.

Toga: The toga was the principal garment of the free-born Roman male. As a result of Roman conquest the toga spread to some extent into the Roman western provinces, but in the east it never replaced the Greek rectangular mantle.

Urbanization: During the 5th, 4th, and 3rd centuries, urban forms spread to mainland northern Greece, both to the seaboard under the direct influence of southern cities, and inland in Macedonia, Thessaly, and even Epirus, in association with the greater political unification of those territories.

Venus: From the 3rd century BC, Venus was the patron of all persuasive seductions, between gods and mortals, and between men and women.

Wine was the everyday drink of all classes in Greece and Rome. It was also a key component of one of the central social institutions of the élite, the dinner and drinking party. On such occasions large quantities of wine were drunk, but it was invariably heavily diluted with water. It was considered a mark of uncivilized peoples, untouched by Classical culture, that they drank wine neat with supposed disastrous effects on their mental and physical health.

Xanthus was called the largest city in Lycia (southern Asia Minor). The city was known to Homer, and Herodotus described its capitulation to Persia in the famous siege of 545 BC.

Zeus, the Indo-European god of the bright sky, is transformed in Greece into Zeus the weather god, whose paramount and specific place of worship is a mountain top.

Featured image: Colosseum in Rome, Italy — April 2007 by Diliff. CC-BY-SA-2.5 via Wikimedia Commons.

The post The Classical world from A to Z appeared first on OUPblog.

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8. Monthly etymology gleanings for November 2014

As always, I want to thank those who have commented on the posts and written me letters bypassing the “official channels” (though nothing can be more in- or unofficial than this blog; I distinguish between inofficial and unofficial, to the disapproval of the spellchecker and some editors). I only wish there were more comments and letters. With regard to my “bimonthly” gleanings, I did think of calling them bimestrial but decided that even with my propensity for hard words I could not afford such a monster. Trimestrial and quarterly are another matter. By the way, I would not call fortnightly a quaint Briticism. The noun fortnight is indeed unknown in the United States, but anyone who reads books by British authors will recognize it. It is sennight “seven nights; a week,” as opposed to “fourteen nights; two weeks,” that is truly dead, except to Walter Scott’s few remaining admirers.

The comments on livid were quite helpful, so that perhaps livid with rage does mean “white.” I was also delighted to see Stephen Goranson’s antedating of hully gully. Unfortunately, I do not know this word’s etymology and have little chance of ever discovering it, but I will risk repeating my tentative idea. Wherever the name of this game was coined, it seems to have been “Anglicized,” and in English reduplicating compounds of the Humpty Dumpty, humdrum, and helter-skelter type, those in which the first element begins with an h, the determining part is usually the second, while the first is added for the sake of rhyme. If this rule works for hully gully, the clue to the word’s origin is hidden in gully, with a possible reference to a dupe, a gull, a gullible person; hully is, figuratively speaking, an empty nut. A mere guess, to repeat once again Walter Skeat’s favorite phrase.

The future of spelling reform and realpolitik

Some time ago I promised to return to this theme, and now that the year (one more year!) is coming to an end, I would like to make good on my promise. There would have been no need to keep beating this moribund horse but for a rejoinder by Mr. Steve Bett to my modest proposal for simplifying English spelling. I am afraid that the reformers of our generation won’t be more successful than those who wrote pleading letters to journals in the thirties of the nineteenth century. Perhaps the Congress being planned by the Society will succeed in making powerful elites on both sides of the Atlantic interested in the sorry plight of English spellers. I wish it luck, and in the meantime will touch briefly on the discussion within the Society.

Number 1 by OpenClips. CC0 via Pixabay.
Number 1 by OpenClips. CC0 via Pixabay.

In the past, minimal reformers, Mr. Bett asserts, usually failed to implement the first step. The first step is not an issue as long as we agree that there should be one. Any improvement will be beneficial, for example, doing away with some useless double letters (till ~ until); regularizing doublets like speak ~ speech; abolishing c in scion, scene, scepter ~ scepter, and, less obviously, scent; substituting sk for sc in scathe, scavenger, and the like (by the way, in the United States, skeptic is the norm); accepting (akcepting?) the verbal suffix -ize for -ise and of -or for -our throughout — I can go on and on, but the question is not where to begin but whether we want a gradual or a one-fell-swoop reform. Although I am ready to begin anywhere, I am an advocate of painless medicine and don’t believe in the success of hav, liv, and giv, however silly the present norm may be (those words are too frequent to be tampered with), while til and unskathed will probably meet with little resistance.

I am familiar with several excellent proposals of what may be called phonetic spelling. No one, Mr. Bett assures me, advocates phonetic spelling. “What about phonemic spelling?” he asks. This is mere quibbling. Some dialectologists, especially in Norway, used an extremely elaborate transcription for rendering the pronunciation of their subjects. To read it is a torture. Of course, no one advocates such a system. Speakers deal with phonemes rather than “sounds.” But Mr. Bett writes bás Róman alfàbet shud rèmán ùnchánjd for “base Roman alphabet should remain unchanged.” I am all for alfabet (ph is a nuisance) and with some reservations for shud, but the rest is, in my opinion, untenable. It matters little whether this system is clever, convenient, or easy to remember. If we offer it to the public, we’ll be laughed out of court.

Mr. Bett indicates that publishers are reluctant to introduce changes and that lexicographers are not interested in becoming the standard bearers of the reform. He is right. That is why it is necessary to find a body (The Board of Education? Parliament? Congress?) that has the authority to impose changes. I have made this point many times and hope that the projected Congress will not come away empty-handed. We will fail without influential sponsors, but first of all, the Society needs an agenda, agree to the basic principles of a program, and for at least some time refrain from infighting.

The indefinite pronoun one once again

I was asked whether I am uncomfortable with phrases like to keep oneself to oneself. No, I am not, and I don’t object to the sentence one should mind one’s own business. A colleague of mine has observed that the French and the Germans, with their on and man are better off than those who grapple with one in English. No doubt about it. All this is especially irritating because the indefinite pronoun one seems to owe its existence to French on. However, on and man, can function only as the subject of the sentence. Nothing in the world is perfect.

1024px-Sir_John_Vanbrugh_by_Thomas_Murray
Sir John Vanbrugh by Thomas Murray (died 1735). Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

Our dance around pronouns sometimes assumes grotesque dimensions. In an email, a student informed me that her cousin is sick and she has to take care of them. She does not know, she added, when they will be well enough, to allow her to attend classes. Not that I am inordinately curious, but it is funny that I was protected from knowing whether “they” are a man or a woman. In my archive, I have only one similar example (I quoted it long ago): “If John calls, tell them I’ll soon be back.” Being brainwashed may have unexpected consequences.

Earl and the Herulians

Our faithful correspondent Mr. John Larsson wrote me a letter about the word earl. I have a good deal to say about it. But if he has access to the excellent but now defunct periodical General Linguistics, he will find all he needs in the article on the Herulians and earls by Marvin Taylor in Volume 30 for 1992 (the article begins on p. 109).

The OED: Behind the scenes

Many people realize what a gigantic effort it took to produce the Oxford English Dictionary, but only insiders are aware of how hard it is to do what seems trivial to a non-specialist. Next year we’ll mark the centennial of James A. H. Murray’s death, and I hope that this anniversary will not be ignored the way Skeat’s centennial was in 2012. Today I will cite one example of the OED’s labors in the early stages of work on it. In 1866, Cornelius Payne, Jun. was reading John Vanbrugh’s plays for the projected dictionary, and in Notes and Queries, Series 3, No. X for July 7 he asked the readers to explain several passages he did not understand. Two of them follow. 1) Clarissa: “I wish he would quarrel with me to-day a little, to pass away the time.” Flippanta: “Why, if you please to drop yourself in his way, six to four but he scolds one Rubbers with you.” 2) Sir Francis:…here, John Moody, get us a tankard of good hearty stuff presently. J. Moody: Sir, here’s Norfolk-nog to be had at next door.” Rubber(s) is a well-known card term, and it also means “quarrel.” See rubber, the end of the entry. Norfolk-nog did not make its way into the dictionary because no idiomatic sense is attached to it: the phrase means “nog made and served in Norfolk” (however, the OED did not neglect Norfolk). Such was and still is the price of every step. Read and wonder. And if you have a taste for Restoration drama, read Vanbrugh’s plays: moderately enjoyable but not always fit for the most innocent children (like those surrounding us today).

The post Monthly etymology gleanings for November 2014 appeared first on OUPblog.

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9. Cynsational News & Giveaways

By Cynthia Leitich Smith
for Cynsations

Six Picture Book Biographies Show the Joy of Longer Lives by Lindsey McDivitt from A Is for Aging. Peek: "...these picture book bios offer huge benefits to kids—showing them adventure, creativity, and enjoyment, not only over the course of an evolving life, but well into old age."

Outlining: Why I Made the Switch and Tips for Trying It by Elizabeth S. Craig from Writer Unboxed. Peek: "...I’d have to outline for the one editor anyway, and I’d either have to be super-organized and not make any mistakes to get the other two out…or else I could try outlining all three of them. I became a reluctant outliner."

Three Tips to Surviving a Public Speaking Event by Becca Puglisi from Writers Helping Writers. Peek: "Whatever the occasion, when it’s your turn to stand up in front of an audience, make them wait. Not too long, though." See also The Online Presence That's An Extension of Who You Are and What You Do (Or Is It Just a Fantasy?) by Jane Friedman from Writer Unboxed.

"Ya Gotta Pay Your Dues" by Donna Janell Bowman from The Writing Barn. Peek: "Even now, after a tiny bit of success in my publishing journey, I still find comfort in justifying a rejection as one step toward paying my dues (but I would love to receive a rejection addressed to Princess.)" See also Should Children's Authors Self-Publish? A Conversation with Two Literary Agents by Sangeeta Mehta from Jane Friedman.

Fear and Killing the Muse by Linden McNeilly from Quirk and Quill. Peek: "...with all that trepidation around us, controlling our every anxious breath as we try to create stories, what can we do?"

More Than Numbers by Megan Schliesman from CCBlogC. Peek: "...as we talk about numbers, which is an important dimension of the discussion about diversity and publishing, it’s important that we don’t lose sight of the terrific books by people of color that are published each and every year." Note: highlights top titles of the year by African Americans. See also Thoughts on Ferguson and Recommended Resources by Jason Low from Lee & Low and Justice on the Lesson Plan by Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich from the Brown Bookshelf.

Using Google Earth to Research Your Setting by Darcy Pattison from Fiction Notes. Peek: "...allows you to see the topography, or the terrain, of a setting. Is it hilly, flat, or somewhere in between?"

My First Author/Illustrator Skype Visit, What I Learned and What I'd Do Differently Next Time by Debbie Ridpath Ohi from Inkygirl.com. Peek: "Make sure you leave time for a Q&A, and coordinate with the teacher ahead of time so that he/she is able to have students prepare questions in advance."

Jacqueline Woodson: "I Don't Want Anyone to Feel Invisible" by Michelle Dean from The Guardian. Peek: "Woodson says she began writing the book when her mother died suddenly. She described the death as a “wake-up call that the people I love, and the people who know my story, and the people who know my history are not always going to be here.” Writing became a quest to make sure some kind of record existed."

Writing Non-Human Characters by Cavan Scott from An Awfully Big Blog Adventure. Peek: "A race of non-humans should never have the same characteristics, unless perhaps if they are a true hive mind. Similar traits maybe, but there should be individuality there."

Becoming a Better Writer in 2015 by Barbara O'Neil from Writer Unboxed. Peek: "Maybe one is that I’m going to write about things that scare me, or things that are secret. I might only write those things for myself, as an exercise, but maybe I’ll write them into the work of my novels, too."

Picture Book Month


"Founder Dianne de Las Casas (author & storyteller) and co-founders, Katie Davis (author/illustrator), Elizabeth O. Dulemba (author/illustrator), Tara Lazar (author), and Wendy Martin (author/illustrator), put together their worldwide connections to make this happen.

"Every day in November, there is a new post from a picture book champion explaining why he/she thinks picture books are important." Each also features teacher guides and curriculum connections."

Learn more from and about the work of:

Arree Chung


We Need Diverse Books

The fundraising campaign is ongoing and will close Dec. 10. Thanks to all for donating, signal-boosting and participating in the larger conversation in children's-YA books!

"First we announced that we reached our initial goal of 100K. Now we can announce we have reached both of our first two stretch goals! Thank you so much for making this possible, and now it's time announce our third stretch goal:

$150,000 and beyond: Sustainability

"The problem with diversity in children's literature won't be solved over night or even in a year. Battling entrenched barriers for diverse books takes sustained effort. Your donations from here on out, every single dollar, helps WNDB maintain our long-term viability and to continue to change the face of children's literature for years to come."

See also The Problem with Ethic Heritage Months from Lee & Low and A Cheat Sheet for Selling Diversity from Grace Lin (PDF).

Kid Lit for Haiti

Kid Lit for Haiti is an online auction featuring talent donated by authors, illustrators, editors, art directors, and agents. 100% of the proceeds benefit the students supported by the 501c3 nonprofit organization called The Friends of Haiti Inc. All money from this auction will be used for scholarships for students in Haiti.

Participants in the auction include: Stephen Mooser, co-founder of the SCBWI and author of more than 60 books; Melissa Manlove, editor at Chronicle Books; Ingrid Law, Newbery Honor author; Jen Rofe, agent at Andrea Brown Literary; Matt de la Pena, acclaimed author; Denise Vega, two-time Colorado Book Award winner; Giuseppe Castellano, art director at Penguin Random House; Dan Lazar, agent at Writers House, and many more (found on blog at Kid Lit for Haiti).

Cynsational Giveaways

See also a two-book giveaway of The Good-Pie Party by Liz Garton Scanlon, illustrated by Kady MacDonald Denton from Tara Lazar at Picture Book Idea Month and a giveaway Utopia, Iowa by Brian Yansky from Goodreads.

This Week at Cynsations


More Personally

It's a short week here at Cynsations! Lots to do around the house. I'm taking off early for the holiday and will be back on Monday. Cynsational readers, I am thankful for you!

Playing at Alamo Drafthouse with fellow Austin authors Cory Putnam Oakes...

and Greg Leitich Smith! Learn more about "Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 1."

See a review of "The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 1" by Shoshana Flax from The Horn Book.

Rain talks about Thanksgiving...
Link of the Week: Thanksgiving: What It Means for Native Americans: An Audio Interview with Suzan Shown Harjo from The TakeAway with John Hockenberry. Peek: After discussing the conflicting concepts of many Native people (a day of mourning) versus most others in the U.S. (a day of celebration) with regard to Thanksgiving, she says in part, "Giving thanks is a genuine Native tradition, and it's a wonderful tradition, and I especially like the idea of a feast that everyone's having that is comprised soley--if you do it right--of Native foods." See also Suzan Shown Harjo Receives Presidential Medal of Honor.

Another Link of the Week: Writing Native Lives in YA: An NYPL Discussion by Matia Burnett from Publishers Weekly. Peek: "Thinking in conventional editorial terms, Klein sought solutions to what she perceived as persistent questions in the book, and looked to other works of young adult literature as models. But many of these models, she came to realize, derive from western literary archetypes..." See also a full recording of the event.

Even More Personally


What a thrill it was yesterday to celebrate fellow Austin children's writer Betty X. Davis's 99th birthday--still playing tennis, still writing, still quick with a joke. Betty: "People ask me what's my secret to a long life." Dramatic pause. "I started young."

Personal Links


Cynsational Events

Cynthia Leitich Smith will speak at the American Library Association MidWinter Convention in Chicago from Jan. 30 to Feb. 3. Details TBA.

Now Available!
Pre-order Now!
Cynthia will speak on "Writing Across Identity Markers" at 10 a.m. Feb. 14 at the Austin SCBWI monthly meeting at BookPeople in Austin.

The SCBWI Austin 2015 Writers and Illustrators Working Conference will take place March 7 and March 8 at Marriott Austin South. Note: Cynthia will be moderating a panel and offering both critiques and consultations.

Cynthia will appear from April 14 to April 17 at the 2015 Annual Conference of the Texas Library Association in Austin.

Cynthia will serve as the master class faculty member from June 19 to June 21 at the VCFA Alumni Mini-Residency in Montpelier, Vermont.

Cynthia will speak from June 25 to June 30 on a We Need Diverse Books panel at the 2015 Annual Conference of the American Library Association in San Francisco.

http://taralazar.com/piboidmo/

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10. My tweets

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11. ‘Captivated By You’ Joins The iBooks Bestsellers List

Captivated By YouSylvia Day’s new book, Captivated By You, has joined Apple’s Top Paid iBooks in the U.S. at No. 1.

Apple has released its top selling books list for paid books from iBooks in the U.S. for week ending November 10, 2014. David Baldacci’s new thriller, The Escape, and Gillian Flynn’s suspense novel, Gone Girl, are occupying the second and third spots on the list this week.

We’ve included Apple’s entire list after the jump.
(more…)

New Career Opportunities Daily: The best jobs in media.

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12. Dinotopia Podcast, Episode 3

It's time for the new episode of the Dinotopia audio podcast adventure. Just click below or follow this link.





Arthur and Will Denison continue their adventures in Dinotopia. Lee Crabb tells them about his sneaky plot, and they follow him to Volcaneum.


Arthur meets Tok Timbu and learns about the ways of the island where people live alongside dinosaurs.


...and they meet again someone they saw when they first arrived.

The Podcast Series
This acoustic adventure was produced by Tom Lopez, mastermind of the ZBS Foundation, with an original music track by composer Tim Clark.

Episode 4 arrives in one week— Tuesday, December. Each 10-minute episode will only be live online for one week, and then it will disappear. So tell your friends, and be sure to check in to this blog each week. That way you'll be able to hear the whole production for free.

If you'd like to purchase the full two-hour Dinotopia podcast right now and hear all twelve episodes back to back in a feature-length production, check out Dinotopia at ZBS Foundation website for the MP3 download.

You can also order the original book from my web store and I'll sign it for you. It's the ultimate holiday gift for the imaginative person in your life. (US orders only for the book, please).

To listen to the full audio podcast, you can get a download at ZBS Production.

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13. Have More Than One CTA Link in Your Emails (to make sure it’s seen)

This power-packed marketing strategy involves sprinkling links throughout your emails. The idea is to make sure your CTA link is not just at the end of your email. You need one or two earlier on, for those readers who don’t read to the end of the content. It’s important to give them the opportunity to see your links by having another one or two within the email. A lot of readers are ‘skim

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14. Teaser Trailer Unveiled For ‘Pan’

Warner Bros. Pictures has unveiled a new teaser trailer for Pan. Deadline reports that “the fantasy actioner retells the tale of an orphan boy snatched from turn-of-the-century London and transported to a magical land ruled by a moustache-twirling pirate.”

The video embedded above offers glimpses of Hugh Jackman as Blackbeard, Amanda Seyfried as Mary, Rooney Mara as Tiger Lily, Garrett Hedlund as Hook, and Levi Miller as Peter Pan. This movie will hit theaters in July 2015.

New Career Opportunities Daily: The best jobs in media.

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15. PiBoIdMo Day 26: Ruth McNally Barshaw Makes Affirmations (plus a prize!)

by Ruth McNally Barshaw

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RuthMcNallyBarshawcolor72dpiRuth McNally Barshaw grew up in the Detroit area. When she was little she wanted to be an artist. She thought books were written by companies, not real people, so she didn’t want to write books. She changed her mind in 2002, and three years later connected with a fabulous agent who sold the first Ellie McDoodle book to Bloomsbury Children’s Books. Then it became a series.

She is the author-illustrator of the six Ellie McDoodle Diaries (often compared to Diary of a Wimpy Kid). She’s the illustrator of Leopold is Lost, by Denise Brennan-Nelson, due out in 2015 with Sleeping Bear Press. And she is author-illustrator of several other picture books currently in various stages of development.

She and her writer-husband Charlie frequently take their story creation workshop on the road to schools, libraries and conferences. Otherwise you can find them at home or at a local bookstore, writing.

View Ruth’s artwork, books, and workshop details at RuthExpress.com and connect with her on Twitter @ruthexpress.
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You can win a signed-and-doodled copy of Ruth’s latest Ellie McDoodle book! It’s not a picture book, but it does have art on every page.

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This prize will be given away at the conclusion of PiBoIdMo. You are eligible for this prize if:

  1. You have registered for PiBoIdMo.
  2. You have commented ONCE ONLY on today’s post.
  3. You have completed the PiBoIdMo challenge. (You will have to sign the PiBoIdMo Pledge at the end of the event.)

Good luck, everyone!

 


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16. Flogometer for Sherry—are you compelled to turn the page?

Submissions Wanted. If you’d like a fresh look at your opening chapter or prologue, please email your submission to me re the directions at the bottom of this post.


The Flogometer challenge: can you craft a first page that compels me to turn to the next page? Caveat: Please keep in mind that this is entirely subjective.

Note: all the Flogometer posts are here.

What's a first page in publishingland? In a properly formatted novel manuscript (double-spaced, 1-inch margins, 12-point type, etc.) there should be about 16 or 17 lines on the first page (first pages of chapters/prologues start about 1/3 of the way down the page). Directions for submissions are below—they include a request to post the rest of the chapter, but that’s optional.

A word about the line-editing in these posts: it’s “one-pass” editing, and I don’t try to address everything, which is why I appreciate the comments from the FtQ tribe. In a paid edit, I go through each manuscript three times.

Mastering front 100WshadowBefore you rip into today’s submission, consider this checklist of first-page ingredients from my book, Mastering the Craft of Compelling Storytelling. While it's not a requirement that all of these elements must be on the first page, they can be, and I think you have the best chance of hooking a reader if they are.

A First-page Checklist

  • It begins connecting the reader with the protagonist
  • Something is happening. On a first page, this does NOT include a character musing about whatever.
  • What happens is dramatized in an immediate scene with action and description plus, if it works, dialogue.
  • What happens moves the story forward.
  • What happens has consequences for the protagonist.
  • The protagonist desires something.
  • The protagonist does something.
  • There’s enough of a setting to orient the reader as to where things are happening.
  • It happens in the NOW of the story.
  • Backstory? What backstory? We’re in the NOW of the story.
  • Set-up? What set-up? We’re in the NOW of the story.
  • What happens raises a story question—what happens next? or why did that happen?

Sherry sends a first chapter of Undefeated. The rest of the chapter follows the break.

By the time I hit 16 I'd been playing football for ten years. Two things kept me connected to football. My dad and my hope for a scholarship to a Division One school. Lately, those two things hadn't felt like enough. I'd had enough of football, and really, enough of my dad. And now I suspected my coach would risk anything to win this football season.

Dad had shown up unannounced, as usual, at Nan’s today. Nan is his mother, my grandmother, and I've lived with her most of my life. After Dad divorced Mom, he'd lived all over the place, leaving Mom behind in the cottage on the back of Nan’s property and me behind with Nan. Mom had been too sick with cancer to take care of me. He'd done me a huge favor when he'd left me behind. Today he just happened to be in Kentucky.

We always ended up outside tossing the ball around. Dad never stayed indoors any longer than he had to. Today was a balmy late summer day, just enough breeze to rustle the leaves and control the sweat of playing hard. Late summer in our neighborhood smelled like chlorinated pools and new-mown grass.

“Go out for a long one, Hunter,” Dad said as he threw the football. Blasting in the background was Dad’s latest CD from his band, not bad if you like pop rock in the nature of Maroon 5.

I caught that long throw and a few dozen more before Dad said, “I'm going on the road (snip)

Were you compelled to turn Sherry's first page?

Once again, we see good writing and a good voice, but no story question raised. There’s exposition and backstory here that, while some contributes to character, none seems to contribute to story. The actual story later in the chapter seems to be about the protagonist’s concern about doping on the football team. Here’s an alternative opening using material from the next page.

By the time I hit 16 I'd been playing football for ten years. Two things kept me connected to football. My dad and my hope for a scholarship to a Division One school. Lately, those two things hadn't felt like enough. I'd had enough of football, and really, enough of my dad. And now I suspected my coach would risk anything to win this football season.

Dad had shown up unannounced, as usual, at Nan’s today. Nan is his mother, my grandmother, and I've lived with her most of my life. After Dad divorced Mom, he'd lived all over the place, leaving Mom behind in the cottage on the back of Nan’s property and me behind with Nan. Mom had been too sick with cancer to take care of me. He'd done me a huge favor when he'd left me behind. Today he just happened to be in Kentucky.

We always ended up outside tossing the ball around. “Go out for a long one, Hunter,” Dad said.

“Did you ever get tired of football, Dad?”

“Hell no, best time of my life. Don't you let anything get in your way. College football is golden. You'll be big man on campus, all the women you want…”

“It's different now, they expect you…” I said, before he interrupted me. I wanted to tell him my suspicions about Coach dosing players.

“You just do whatever your coaches tell you to do, you hear me. Whatever they tell you, they're the boss, no questions asked.”

What do you think? For me, it introduces conflict on more than one level.Would the opening page be stronger with this content on it?

Would you turn the page with that as the opening?

Comments, please?

For what it’s worth.

Ray

Submitting to the Flogometer:

Email the following in an attachment (.doc, .docx, or .rtf preferred, no PDFs):

  1. your title
  2. your complete 1st chapter or prologue plus 1st chapter
  3. Please include in your email permission to post it on FtQ.
  4. Note: I’m adding a copyright notice for the writer at the end of the post. I’ll use just the first name unless I’m told I can use the full name.
  5. Also, please tell me if it’s okay to post the rest of the chapter so people can turn the page.
  6. And, optionally, include your permission to use it as an example in a book on writing craft if that's okay.
  7. If you’re in a hurry, I’ve done “private floggings,” $50 for a first chapter.
  8. If you rewrite while you wait for your turn, it’s okay with me to update the submission.

Flogging the Quill © 2014 Ray Rhamey, story © 2014 Sherry

(continued)

for at least two months.”

I wasn’t surprised that he'd leave for two months, but during football season, that shocked me.

“What's up with that?” I asked.

“The SkreeminDemons got a long-term gig in Chicago, in a decent bar. Good money,” he said, “But I know you'll do me proud this season. You're on the fast track to follow in my football footsteps, boy.”

“Did you ever get tired of football, Dad?”

“Hell no, best time of my life. Don't you let anything get in your way. College football is golden. You'll be big man on campus, all the women you want…”

“It's different now, they expect you…” I said, before he interrupted me. I wanted to tell him my suspicions about Coach dosing players.

“You just do whatever your coaches tell you to do, you hear me. Whatever they tell you, they're the boss, no questions asked.”

When one of the senior players I really liked ended up in the hospital right after football practice one day recently, I was afraid I knew why. He’d been hinting around that he was pumping up in a big way at his new gym. I'd thought he meant with weights, but maybe there was something pharmaceutical involved.

“Marcel is in the hospital. They think it was drugs,” I said.

“That’s what happens when college gets close. He's a senior right?”

“They say he's in bad shape,” I said.

“Nothing you can do about it. Keep your own nose clean and don't worry about it.”

“It just seems really dangerous if someone is hooking players up with drugs…” I wanted to tell him how scared I felt.

“Mind your own business. Things happen. Players use stuff sometimes. No big deal.”

Dad picked up the football and headed toward the house to say his good-byes.

“Will you be able to come home for any games?” Not sure why I even asked, I'd learned not to expect anything from Dad. His last remaining  thread of commitment to me had been football and now that was getting cut, too.

“Naw, we’re not getting paid enough to travel back and forth. But I'll come home for Thanksgiving for sure,” Dad said, “I'll be ready for some of your Nan’s turkey and dressing.”

And that quickly, Dad was gone again. I was left on my own to find out if Coach was playing fair, before someone else got hurt, or killed.

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17. Wrestling Alligators: On Embracing Curiosity

AuthorPhoto_LizCrainBY LIZ CRAIN

GIVEAWAY: Liz is excited to give away a free copy of the second edition of her just released book, Food Lover’s Guide to Portland, to a random commenter. Comment within 2 weeks; winners must live in the US to receive the book by mail. You can win a blog contest even if you’ve won before.


The summers that I was 6 and 7 years old in early ’80s, I went to a day camp in the woods maybe 30 minutes or so from the suburbs of Cincinnati where I grew up. There were a lot of memorable things about that camp, as there tend to be, but without a doubt the most memorable was Mr. Brady—the camp nature guide whose office was the old barn across the way from the open-air dining hall—and his resident alligators. The seven or eight alligators ranging in age from a couple years to several years lived in a large, maybe 10-foot diameter, round metal trough topped with a piece of plywood.

One day, every summer, Mr. Brady would take the youngest, or maybe just the most docile, alligator out of the trough, put it in the bed of his old beat-up blue pick-up truck and drive it down the hill behind the barn to the creek, where 15 or so of us would be waiting with our counselor. What happened next is not a dream. I am still friends with one of the campers and can verify that Mr. Brady—longish white beard, rubber pants and suspenders, boots—would then spend the next 40 minutes or so of our nature session wrestling with the alligator in the murky creek. Our task: watch. And in the process scream, laugh and hug each other tightly.

I’m sure there were some teachable moments that I’m missing that occurred during the alligator wrestling. There might have been words about habitat and behavior in the wild and maybe even a little bit about how humans are not typically a part of the alligator diet. Of course, all I remember, and all I am sure that most campers remember, is an old man wrestling an alligator in the creek. By choice. He seemed to have no fear, and he seemed to genuinely love doing it.

Although I have changed the names and some identifying details of the alligators what follows is my own story of wrestling with alligators, except that the alligators are humans and the wrestling is being done with writing.

When I first started freelance food writing shortly after moving to Portland, Oregon, in my mid-20s, I said yes to just about anything work-wise that came my way, including waiting tables, nannying and working in a Montessori after-school program. I also covered a lot of writing territory. I wrote a corporate fitness manual without ever having worked in an office, smoking cigarettes and drinking most nights of the week and never setting foot in a gym. Clearly I was an expert. I also wrote website copy for a few hotel and hospitality companies, health and fitness articles for a smaller circulation magazine in Arizona and movie reviews for an online art and culture startup in New York.


freelancebundle_1Do you want to make money with your writing? Do you dream of having your byline in magazine columns? Then the Freelance Bundle is for you. This kit offers two ebooks by our some of our most popular authors: I.J Schecter and Naveed Saleh. Then, use your Writer’s Market subscription and get the contact information you need to send your work to the right people.


I tried my hand at a lot of different types of writing and, in doing so, did the opposite of what most writing manuals tell you to do—write what you know. Instead, apropos of an ambitious 20-something-year-old, I wrote more often what I did not know.

I always brought my limited life experience and subjectivity to the page, of course, and I researched and dug as deep as my usually too-fast-approaching deadline would allow, but let’s just say I was in all of these writing endeavors far from an expert. And that lack of expertise led directly to lack of confidence. That first year of freelancing I spent a lot of time researching and educating myself, but my primary motivator was a little off. I wanted to know the right things that, in my 20-something year old mind, translated to all of the things that would make me not sound stupid.

Nobody likes a snoop and that’s exactly what I was that first year of freelancing. My regular gig was ghostwriting food and drink pieces for AOL Online. For that, I’d visit restaurants, bars, clubs and markets in and around Portland and then write short profiles of each. I took copious amounts of notes about menus, inventory, décor and service in my tiny black refillable notebook, and if I ever caught whiff that someone was on to me I’d commit the remaining visit to memory as best I could sacrificing any more documentation to save face.

I would only ask one or two questions per visit, and then only if I thought I could get away with it without revealing anything personal. I’d avoid eye contact. My heart would race and my palms would sweat as I took ridiculous notes under the table about things such as the microgreens topping my scallops (“What are the little purpley-green spade-like micros? Mustard?”). If you kicked all that fear-built subterfuge down, I wasn’t being Ruth Reichl-like, in disguise in order to maintain journalistic integrity. I just didn’t want to have a real conversation with anyone that might reveal all that I did not know. Instead, I would go home after dinner and suffer through mind-numbing Google searches of  microgreens until I settled on the variety that looked the most similar before ultimately deciding not to use it in the profile anyway. No time wasted at all!

On those rare occasions when I did find myself face-to-face and engaged with folks who I was interviewing or meeting with for some sort of professional reason, I showcased what I knew as best I could and tried to hide what I didn’t know. In other words, I was a bit like 20-year-old Ira Glass in his early interviews with members of the cast of MASH, which he talks about on the “Cringe” episode of This American Life. The worst is when Glass asks Harry Morgan, who played Colonel Potter, a series of needling questions about why he’s never been the lead on any show. So painful.

This sort of bravado is inherently juvenile, but we’ve all done it. Here’s how I got rid of being scared of not knowing: I stopped using my tiny black notebook to take notes in in public and I got a big notebook. I stopped sneaking away to the bathroom to take notes—I’m sure that a few waiters had me pegged as incontinent—and started writing them openly. I stopped muzzling my curiosity and ended more sentences with question marks. I had more and more face-to-face interviews that I needed to conduct for seasonal food stories with weekly deadlines that I was writing—more projects in general. I no longer had time to digest the latest study just enough so that I’d sound smart, to make obscure references that were only tenuously related to the subject at hand (references I’d secretly hope no one would actually try to turn into a real conversation). All of these things that we do from time to time to puff our feathers when we feel intimidated or unconfident, and as a result, hide our truer selves.

After a year of freelancing, I was too busy with assignments to keep up appearances anymore. The real, vulnerable, curious and often ignorant me stepped out into plain view. It turns out that first year of freelancing I’d wasted a whole lot of time getting in my own way. I simply got out of my way and the decade since I’ve been more than willing to often be the fool or even, from time to time, when it seems helpful to the interview and subject at hand, play the fool.

In general, people love to be asked questions—personally and professionally. Ask away. Be brazenly curious. Be proud of not knowing. The less you know means the more you have to learn and that’s a big part of what’s most fulfilling, fun and interesting about writing—the learning. Don’t be a bore and always try to prove yourself and outwit others. No one is impressed and it’s tiresome. Show how ignorant you are—we all are!—and you’ll have a lot more fun and be a much better writer as a result. The best writers are the most curious risk-takers who want to burn and learn and live
life to the fullest. Stop being scared and be one of them. In other words, wrestle those alligators in the creek. By choice. See, I knew I could bring it back to the alligators.

*No alligators were harmed in the writing of this essay.


Cover_FoodLover'sGuidetoPortlandLiz Crain is a fiction writer as well as the author of Food Lover’s Guide to Portland and Toro Bravo: Stories. Recipes. No Bull. A longtime writer on Pacific Northwest food and drink, her writing has appeared in Cooking Light, Budget Travel, VIA Magazine, The Sun Magazine, The Progressive, The Guardian and The Oregonian. She is also editor and publicity director at Hawthorne Books as well as co-organizer of the annual Portland Fermentation Festival.

You can find more from Liz Crain on Twitter (@foodloverPDX) and her website, lizcrain.com.

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18. Walking doodles


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19. Winter weather!

ZOINKS!!
It's cold out here!!
The winter storm alert means we've
gone on vacation a little bit early.

What are you doing to stay warm?

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20.

Coming from Charlesbridge in March!


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21. Thankful

I’m posting over on the Emblazoners site today. Come on over to see what I’m thankful for this holiday season :) http://emblazoners.com/thank-your-lucky-stars Tagged: lucky stars, shooting stars, thankful, thanksgiving

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22. The Enchanted Castle (1907)

The Enchanted Castle. E. Nesbit. 1907. 291 pages. [Source: Bought]

I really enjoyed reading The Enchanted Castle by E. Nesbit. I had started this one at least twice before, but, I had never been in the right mood to properly appreciate this children's fantasy novel. I was in the right mood this time.

If you enjoy adventure fantasy novels, you'll probably enjoy spending time with Jerry, Jimmy, Cathy, and Mabel. Jerry, Jimmy, and Cathy are siblings. When these three first meet Mabel, they mistake her for a princess. At the time, they are having an adventure looking for an enchanted castle. So finding a princess within that castle makes complete sense! Mabel is actually the niece of the housekeeper. She confesses that a bit later on. That first meeting is magical enough! She shows them a secret room behind a paneled wall. This room is fabulous if you're looking for treasures. While in the room, the children find (and pick up) a ring. This ring is central to all their further adventures. And Mabel is their new best friend. She's always part of the group.

This one was a very fun read. It reminded me of why I love E. Nesbit in the first place. It wasn't a perfect novel. But flaws and all, it worked well enough for me. It was a joy to read of their adventures and misadventures. The ring gets them into trouble more often than it gets them out of trouble.

Favorite quotes:
“Go then, and be not more naughty than you must.”
“If we were in a book it would be an enchanted castle — certain to be,” said Kathleen. “It is an enchanted castle,” said Gerald in hollow tones. “But there aren’t any.” Jimmy was quite positive. “How do you know? Do you think there’s nothing in the world but what you’ve seen?” His scorn was crushing.
“I think magic went out when people began to have steam-engines,” Jimmy insisted, “and newspapers, and telephones and wireless telegraphing.” “Wireless is rather like magic when you come to think of it,” said Gerald. “Oh, that sort!” Jimmy’s contempt was deep. “Perhaps there’s given up being magic because people didn’t believe in it any more,” said Kathleen. “Well, don’t let’s spoil the show with any silly old not believing,” said Gerald with decision. “I’m going to believe in magic as hard as I can. This is an enchanted garden, and that’s an enchanted castle, and I’m jolly well going to explore.
“I am so hungry!” said Jimmy. “Why didn’t you say so before?” asked Gerald bitterly. “I wasn’t before.” “Then you can’t be now. You don’t get hungry all in a minute. What’s that?”
“Well, then — a detective.” “There’s got to be something to detect before you can begin detectiving,” said Mabel. “Detectives don’t always detect things,” said Jimmy, very truly. “If I couldn’t be any other kind I’d be a baffled detective. You could be one all right, and have no end of larks just the same. Why don’t you do it?” “It’s exactly what I am going to do,” said Gerald. “We’ll go round by the police-station and see what they’ve got in the way of crimes.” They did, and read the notices on the board outside. Two dogs had been lost, a purse, and a portfolio of papers “of no value to any but the owner.” Also Houghton Grange had been broken into and a quantity of silver plate stolen. “Twenty pounds reward offered for any information that may lead to the recovery of the missing property.”
You know pretty well what Beauty and the Beast would be like acted by four children who had spent the afternoon in arranging their costumes and so had left no time for rehearsing what they had to say. Yet it delighted them, and it charmed their audience. There is a curtain, thin as gossamer, clear as glass, strong as iron, that hangs for ever between the world of magic and the world that seems to us to be real. And when once people have found one of the little weak spots in that curtain which are marked by magic rings, and amulets, and the like, almost anything may happen.And what more can any play do, even Shakespeare’s?

© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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23. Picture Book Month: Kids Sheriff and the Terrible Toads

Kid Sheriff and the Terrible Toads by Bob Shea, illustrated by Lane Smith

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About the Book: The Terrible Toads are causing havoc all over Drywater Gulch. They are in need of a hero to solve their toad problem. Enter Sheriff Ryan, riding into town on his turtle. He might not know a lot about robbery and roping, but he sure knows a lot about dinosaurs. And that has to come in handy when catching criminals.

GreenBeanTeenQueen Says: This is a perfect picture book pairing bringing together a hilarious duo. Lane Smith captures the Western-style wonderfully with brown and beige hues makes the reader feel as though they've landed in Drywater Gulch. Bob Shea's text is written to be read aloud. This book just begs to be read aloud with various accents and voices.

The reader will laugh along as the oblivious (or is he really?) Sheriff Ryan makes many observations about dinosaurs along the way. The humor comes from the Toads wanting the credit for their crimes and Sheriff Ryan and the Toads each outdoing each other with what really caused each incident.

Is Sheriff Ryan a smart sheriff who knew who to catch the criminals all along? Or does he just love dinosaurs? The book has such a hilarious twist that readers will be laughing and talking about it long after the book is finished. This is the perfect read aloud for school visits!

Full Disclosure: Reviewed from advanced copy sent by publisher for review

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24. Characters I am Thankful For

Tomorrow we celebrate Thanksgiving here in the US so of course I had to come up with a list of things I'm thankful for. Instead of the usual list of my clients, my BookEnds team or all of the blog readers, writers and editors who make me better at my job (see how I slipped that in) I thought I'd put together a list of characters who helped shape the me I am today.

Like anyone in the publishing business I spent most of my childhood with my nose in a book. I went to bed reading, falling asleep with the light on, and spent Saturday mornings curled up under a blanket reading a book from beginning to end. I'd actually hide in the corner so my parents wouldn't notice me and force me to go outside. During those years there were so many characters who shaped me and who I wanted to be like, characters who refuse to leave my head and in many ways have become my role models. People (because that's how I think of them) I still think of today.

Anne Shirley, that tenacious, spunky redhead who wanted to be a writer. I loved Anne of Green Gables and really, really wanted to be her. Well, honestly, I think I wanted to be all of these characters. Anne always said what she believed and despite so many obstacles that would make many sad, Anne was optimistic and confident. She was also determined and wanted to be a writer. Who wouldn't be inspired by that?

Jo March, if you read this blog you'll see Jo's name (or at least Little Women) come up again and again. In some weird way I feel like Jo is a good friend, someone I haven't seen in a while and miss dearly. Jo, like Anne, was spunky, tenacious, brave and determined to be the woman she wanted to be and not the woman everyone thought she should be. It broke my heart when Jo said no to Laurie, but part of me cheered her on. It was a shocking bit of bravery for anyone who dreamed of romance (which I did).

Betsy. I know Betsy has a last name, but I swear I have no idea what it is. Betsy was very similar to Anne and Jo. She wanted to be a writer, she spoke her mind and she stood up for what she believed. Betsy also had a thrilling imagination that often got her and her best friend Tacy, and later Tib, in loads of trouble. It reminded me a lot of me and my own best friend growing up. In the end though Betsy excelled and achieved her dreams. If you're unfamiliar with the Betsy-Tacy series by Maud Hart Lovelace please check it out.

Meg Murry is a little different from my other characters. Meg didn't want to be a writer, she wanted, if I remember correctly, to be a scientist. At least that's what her parents were in A Wrinkle in Time. Meg was one of the bravest characters I have ever known and everything she did she did for the love of her family. She was an adventurer, an explorer and such a cool nerd. Who wouldn't want to be Meg?

I'd love to hear who you're thankful for.

--jhf




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25. Illustrator Interview – Olivier Tallec

Apart from greatly admiring his work, my impulse to interview Olivier was three-fold: firstly, my author -illustrator friend Julie Rowan-Zoch urged me to, secondly Olivier is published in the US by one of my favorite publishers (who are right here … Continue reading

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