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1. Day in the Life of a Librarian

Each day I walk into the library, I get to look forward to something new. While the general routine may be the same each day holds something different. I never know what questions I'm going to be asked and I love that! Here's what my day looked like today:


8:20- arrive at work, go through opening procedures for department 

8:35-gather story time books and music 

8:40-check in with M  about plan for the day, what needs to be done

8:45-set up story time. Since I was doing back to back story times, I decided to do all sings and dancing without any crafts or activities to make the set up easier

9:05-check email, respond to messages that need answers right away, email manager about an upcoming staff meeting

9:15-on desk, youth services coordinator visits department to get feedback about sumner reading program, branch manager stops by to get stickers fir an outreach visit, sign up for upcoming staff training

9:30-P arrives for shift. We talk about the May schedule and I make adjustments to the schedule 

10:00-time for toddler story time! The Freeze Dance and playing with the parachute were the kids favorite parts of story time 

10:30-10:50-break

10:50-set up story hour room for preschool story time, adjust music I need for my preschool group.

11:00-this us only my third week back from maternity leave, so I'm still seeing lots of my regular patrons for the first time since I've been back. I got to catch up with one if my story time families and talk books and movies which is always fun!

11:15-preschool story time. I ended up reading the same books (Dance With Me, If You're A Monster and You Know It, and From Head to Toe) but I added longer songs. I included Greg and Steve's Listen and Move-one of my favorites!  The kids loved it!

11:45-clean up story time and put books in bin for a repeat of my story time plan on Friday 

12:05-rove through the teen department, take DVD cases up front to the circulation department, check mail, visit youth services coordinator to talk about purchasing a new diecut for our machine to use for summer reading, catch up with C when she arrives for the afternoon and talk about the schedule and email it out to staff, reply to emails 

1:00-1:20-break

1:30-3:00-supervisor training webinar 

3:00-visit teen department then head back to children's department after training, catch up with staff about what's been happening, make list of what to talk to branch manager about during meeting tomorrow, answer questions at desk and help patrons, update calendar with meetings and schedule for May, swap story times with M for next week and adjust the schedule (there is always so much to do with the schedule!!!)

4:00-4:20-break

4:20-answer questions at desk, visit teen department, straighten up department, organize desk for tomorrow, make to do list for tomorrow, one last email check

5:00-head home
 

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2. Science Poetry Pairings - Seasons

Every year from Kindergarten through second grade, my son came home with a picture he'd drawn of an apple tree seen through all four seasons. While I love the book that these were modeled on, I often found myself wishing that this activity was done at the end of the year as a culmination of months of studying the same schoolyard tree through the seasons. This isn't hard to do and teaches kids much about the skill of observation and keeping a nature journal. It's also a much better way to document the changing of the seasons. It may take longer to teach this way, but the benefits of long-term study are undeniable and vastly more interesting.

Today's book pairing offers an unusual, non-traditional and very clever look at our four seasons.

Poetry Book
Pumpkin Butterfly: Poems From the Other Side of Nature, written by Heidi Mordhorst and illustrated by Jenny Reynish, is a collection of 23 poems that begins with fall and cycles through the year's seasons, inviting readers to think about the signs of these seasons and new and extraordinary ways. Readers will be struck by the terribly clever metaphors as they find new ways to see and think about the world around them. Here's one of the poems that I particularly love.
Botanical Jazz

Quiet down, flower—
not so loud!

All this stretching your neck
and spreading your arms
bellowing your brassy yellow sass—

you’re breaking our eyedrums
trumpeting all that color and sun
blowing that blazing yellow jazz. . . .

Belt it out, flower—
we’ll join in!
As someone who uses poetry to teach science, I especially appreciate Mordhorst's gift for observation and her use of metaphor to help us see the everyday in new ways. Here's a terrific example of this.
Fireplace

It's only because of
the low December sun bearing
down along the street
that I notice
half a dozen fires without flame
smoldering among the roots of

a monumental oak where
leaves and fat acorns have pooled.
Their whispering columns of smoke
climb the trunk,
turning it into a risky thing:
a chimney made of wood.

I follow the white morning beams,
mingle my clouded breath with
the twisting wisps of smoke, and
warm my hands
over the burning of those
acorn coals, of that timber chimney.
Poems © Heidi Mordhorst. All rights reserved.

While these are ostensibly nature poems, they so keenly reflect the markers of each season that together they make this a perfect book for sharing during a study of the seasons.


Nonfiction Picture Book
Our Seasons, written by Grace Lin and Ranida McKneally and illustrated by Grace Lin, is a beautiful combination of science and poetry that explores questions children often have about these seasons. Beginning with fall, each season is explored in three double-page spreads that includes a haiku, related question, and the answer to that question.

Before the exploration of seasons begins, the book opens with this haiku and question-answer selection.
When the earth is cold
We long for the butterflies,
Yet in warmth we want snow.
Why do we have seasons? 
Did you know that the earth is titled as it revolves around the sun? If you drew an imaginary line through the earth's poles, this line (the axis) would be tilted at an angle, not straight up and down. The tilt of the axis never changes, so part of the year you are facing the sun more directly and part of the year you are not. Which season you experience depends on where you live and on the time of year.
Questions explored through the seasons include:
  • What makes the wind?
  • Why do leaves change color?
  • Why do I see my breath?
  • What is snow?
  • Why is there frost on the window?
  • Why do my cheeks turn red in the cold?
  • What makes a thunderstorm?
  • Why do bees like flowers?
  • Why do I sneeze?
  • Why is the air sticky?
  • Why do fireflies glow?
  • Why do I tan?
Text © Grace Lin and Ranida McKneally. All rights reserved.

The answers to each of these questions are written in a clear, understandable, and engaging manner. The book wraps up with the answer to the question, "Does everyone have four seasons?" Back matter includes a glossary of terms.

Perfect Together
While not a typical look at the seasons, Mordhorst's poetry will encourage students to look for signs of the seasons and imagine them in different ways. Pair this with Lin and McKneally's book to provide answers to often asked questions about the seasons and common events that occur in each.

For additional resources, consider these sites.
Finally, if you decide you want to try a year-long tree study, consider using this amazing book.

Sky Tree: Seeing Science Through Art, written by Thomas Locker and Candace Christiansen and illustrated by Thomas Locker, is a detailed look at one tree through a single year. The gorgeous oil paintings and lyrical text invite readers to look closely at the world around them. The author's note that opens the book reads:
I have spent most of my life learning to paint trees agains the ever changing sky. After all these years I still cannot look at a tree without being filled with a sense of wonder. 
Since I began collaborating with Candace Christiansen, who is a science teacher, I have become increasingly aware of the scientific approach to the natural world. I was amazed to discover that the more scientific facts I learned, the deeper my sense of wonder became. This realization led to the creation of Sky Tree
Sky Tree invites adults and children to experience the life of a tree and its relationship to the sky in several different ways. Through storytelling, art appreciation, and scientific exploration, Sky Tree attempts to reach both the heart and mind.
Back matter includes a section in which questions asked in the text are answered, linking science and art. 

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3. Meeting with lions

Obi, the African Lion. Photo by Angela Reynolds

Obi, the African Lion. Photo by Angela Reynolds

I’m changing Summer Reading this year. When I was in Chicago for ALA last summer I saw their Summer of Learning and was duly impressed. I am going to try something similar this summer, using STREAM – Science, Technology, Reading, Experience, Arts, and Math. The Common Core is not a Thing here in Canada (yet) but I love the idea of experience-based Summer Reading Program. Yes, Reading is still a big part of it, the main focus even, but I wanted to offer some experiences rather than Pieces of Plastic as incentives. So I contacted the local zoo. Oaklawn Farm Zoo is small and owned by a couple that are known in our area as generous and kind folks. I had a meeting in their farm house to talk about offering 2 Library Days this summer– 18 and under get in free if they show their library card (and can earn a badge if we get that part figured out).  We sat at the table over tea, muffins, and homemade jam to discuss the details. They liked the idea as much as we did– we’ll be offering storytime and needle felting demos (using zoo-animal fur collected by the keepers). We’ll also take our portable StoryWalk and our Bookmobile for a total library/zoo day! Fun!

So, we have at least one great experience to offer for our Summer STREAM. And for me, the experience was even more amazing because when we first arrived, we heard ,”Oh, here comes the lion. Put your boots on top of the fridge.” Yes, that’s right. LION. For the winter, a lion cub lived in their house. Obi, the 6-month old African lion strolled in, rolled over on the floor, and allowed us to pet his belly. Library Days at the Zoo — YEAH! Plus, I got to pet a lion. I love my job.

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4. character relationships

Question: In my book series the main main character is introduced in the second book and she has a boyfriend but they break up in either the second or

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5. Falkenstern & Heller Kudos Plus Book Signing

When Lisa Falkenstern emailed me letting me know about her new book and book signing (it hit the book shelves on Tax Day), I asked if she would tell me how it came about. She said, “This book started a few years ago, when I was showing my editor, Margery Cuyler at Marshall Cavendish (now Two Lions), an idea for a picture book done in steampunk style.

lisafalkensternsteamcover

Steampunk, often described as Victorian science fiction, is a genre I love. I had been collecting gears and clock parts for years with plans to use the pieces as still life props. The imagery of steampunk gears, metal machinery and steam engines is so rich and interesting to look at, I thought that the progression from still life to picture book would work well.

lisafalkensternsteam

 

“Margery liked my idea, however she suggested an alphabet book. I did a rough dummy, and after the idea was approved, I started work on how I would present a steampunk alphabet. I decided that the individual letters should also be illustrated as though built with steampunk parts. That way they would be part of the workshop setting I was playing with.

lisafalkensternC

Then my husband and I spent a large part of our vacation in the Outerbanks going through the dictionary, selecting which words to use. We had a long list and Margery helped make the final selections. Since the text of the book only featured a single sentence for each letter of the alphabet, I decided to illustrate a background plot in which the two mice are building something in their workshop. Each letter propels the story along until the mice reveal their masterpiece, with the letter ‘Z’, of course.

lisafalkensternD

Once I had the whole concept, I started all the illustrations. I draw and paint from reference materials. First, I collected an immense amount of photographs as well as buying parts of lamps and other objects that worked as steampunk. Then I made models of the mice characters and a model of the steam engine.  My husband posed for the mice, which is funny, considering he is six feet, four inches!

lisafalkensternF

I did the roughs of the letters first, and when finished, I added the mice and had them interact with the letters.  Then I did final drawings, and finished the book using oil paints.

lisaFalkensternendpapers

And that was it!

SAVE APRIL 26TH AND 27TH – LISA’S HAVING A BOOK SIGNING AND EVERYONE IS INVITED!

falkensternHetzel poster.2.lores

Ginger HellerThe Huffington Post featured an interview yesterday on Ginger Heller and her new book, The Kid Who Beat Wall Street and Saved Africa.

Here is the link:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/heather-hummel/an-interview-with-ginger-heller_b_5070333.html

After I read the interview, I emailed Ginger to ask why she was calling her book a YA Novel. Here is her answer:

“I use the YA label only when it’s all that’s available. My book is really a “tween book” for ages 10-14. I have had some success with reluctant readers in 9th grade, (ages 14/15) if it’s presented right.”

gingerheller2014-04-07-KidWhoBeatWallStreetandSavedAfricaMy story, trading stocks and commodities on the internet, is a sophisticated one as are the issues with which I deal.

The fact that there is a “dictionary,” in the back of the book (I refer to it as my appendix A, 100 Words of Interest ) helps the reader easily look up some difficult words. The interesting part is that the definition of these words appear in the same grammatical form as they do in the book.

As for how did I get the interview, the writer knew of my book and thought it would be of interest.

Click here to take a look on Amazon. If you have a Kindle you can buy the book for $3.99 or if you are a Prime Member you can read the book for free.

Congratulations! Lisa and Ginger.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: Kudos, Middle Grade Novels, Picture Book, success Tagged: book signing, Chance to win signed book, Ginger Heller, Lisa Falkenstern, Steampunk ABC, The Huffington Post

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6. The best bums in children’s fiction – or, why so many kid’s books about bottoms? – Emma Barnes

A favourite bottom book!

And another!
I’ve jumped onto the bottom bandwagon!

I didn’t meant to. I didn’t consciously set out to write a book featuring bottoms. It was only when Penny Dolan wrote that Wild Thing was “much more than a book that gets 8 year-old children laughing because they enjoy reading about rude words” that I realized what I’d done. I, too, had written a book featuring children's fascination with their nether regions.


 It’s not exactly an untapped theme in children’s literature. (In modern times, anyway – you won’t find Jo March, Anne of Green Gables or even Just William having much to say about posteriors.) But whether it’s Nicholas Allen’s delightful Cinderella’s Bum or the famously scatological The Little Mole Who Thought It Was None Of His Business, there’s a whole branch of kids’ books about rear ends and what comes out of them. In fact when I (rather bravely) did some googling, I was stunned to find out just how many titles there were.

I suppose the whole bottom thing can be seen as a cynical ploy. If you want to get children laughing, then “rude words” as Penny implies, are a good way to do it. This wasn’t really on my mind, though. The truth is, having spent the last several years in close contact with young children, I’ve been forcibly reminded how fascinating all things bum and poo –related are to them. I’ve walked behind four year olds whose only obsession is with spotting possible dog poo – and not to avoid standing in it, but out of pure fascination with the subject. “No, that’s only a dead leaf,” I’ve said wearily, more times than I can  remember.

So it’s not surprising the theme cropped up in Wild Thing, which is at heart a realistic, family story. The subject first arises when an inadvertent slip of the tongue by Gran allows five year old Wild Thing to get going on a favourite subject.


“Gran said bottom!” 
“No, she didn’t.” 
“Yes, she did.” Wild Thing grinned. “A butt is a bottom.You’ve got a big butt!” She pointed at me. “And Gran’s got a wrinkly one!” 
Then she danced off across the garden, shouting, “BUTT! BEHIND! BOTTOM! BUM!” at the top of her voice. She almost crashed into a tree. 

Wild Thing waggles her bum (Jamie Littler illustrator)

The incident leads to a wild chase and the invention of the Bite the Bottom game – yet another source of daily embarrassment for poor older sister Kate! When I’ve read the passage aloud in schools, the effect has been electrifying. On the occasion where I had a staff member “signing” the bottom-biting scene (and giving a fine theatrical performance of the bottom-chomping incident) I thought everyone was going to be reduced to a dangerous level of hysteria.

It’s true, folks. Rude bits really do make them laugh.
In school...the arrow fittingly pointing at a certain place!

Grown-ups can be a bit sniffy, I suppose, and feel that the whole bottom thing is crude, overdone, and playing to the crowd. But then children feel much the same about adult interests. Remember The Princess Bride and the little boy recoiling from the sloppy bits – “Yuk kissing!” Anyone who has watched TV with a child will recognize that response. (It’s also beautifully captured in Judith Viorst’s classic picture book, Alexander’s Terrible Horrible No Good Very Bad Day – where the kissing on TV is almost as bad as the lima beans for dinner.)

So let’s allow children their interests, just as adults are allowed theirs. After all, for the average five year old, toilet training and bed wetting are still very immediate issues, and getting oneself to the toilet on time can be a source of pride (or sometimes an embarrassing failure). Adults take all this for granted – although actually, of course, many adults, especially in later life, don’t. Sadly, it often becomes a source of shame and embarrassment again, with many incontinent adults suffering in silence. So if children can openly laugh and celebrate all things rear-end, then let’s embrace that! Humour, as a recent ABBA poster pointed out, is also a way of dealing with things that trouble us.

So Bottoms Up, folks! And why not nominate your own favourite rude title?
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Emma's new book, Wild Thing,  about the naughtiest little sister ever (and her bottom-biting ways), is out now from Scholastic. It is the first of a series for readers 8+.
"Hilarious and heart-warming" The Scotsman
"Charming modern version of My Naughty Little Sister" Armadillo Mag

 Wolfie is published by Strident.   Sometimes a Girl’s Best Friend is…a Wolf. 
"A real cracker of a book" Armadillo 
"Funny, clever and satisfying...thoroughly recommended" Books for Keeps
"This delightful story is an ideal mix of love and loyalty, stirred together with a little magic and fantasy" Carousel 

Emma's Website
Emma’s Facebook Fanpage
Emma on Twitter - @EmmaBarnesWrite

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7. PFAS: “Albert Einstein” by Julie Larios

Emma R. has created the next poem movie, complete with kids chiming in on the final word. Plus she includes kid comments and another reading of the poem along with the text of the poem. 

Click here to see Emma's video for “Albert Einstein” by Julie Larios.


Look for this poem in the 4th grade section of The Poetry Friday Anthology for Science in Week 31: Famous Scientists.

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8. N is for The Natural House Book

It's been one of those days: up out of bed as early as possible, speed shower, quick trip to a French bakery to buy a pastry and latte, get to work to be greeted with a stack of typing, rush to Home Depot to buy paint for the bathroom so my husband can paint the bathroom tonight, followed by a trip to the post office--which turns out to be closed--then home for a late lunch, back to the post office, now open, but I have so many foreign parcels to mail that when I get to the counter the people in the line behind me are sighing and groaning and tapping their feet, off to the grocery store because I haven't been in two weeks and we are living on pastry and latte, get home with badly packed groceries, and there is a giant cockroach in the middle of my living room. 

And of course I haven't blogged yet.  I'd rather be reading.

Which is why The Natural House Book, Creating a Healthy, Harmonious, and Ecologically Sound Home Environment by David Pearson is a little oasis of sanity in a busy, hectic, crazy world. My copy is a bit on the old side, 1989, and there have been more recent editions published, but I'm happy with the one I have. The book was gifted to me in the mid-90s by a lovely friend on the eve of her move to Maui when she was clearing the last of her own bookshelves. I was delighted to receive it, especially as my husband and I were in the middle of building a tiny little house and workspace in the Georgia countryside, and we needed all the help we could get.

The Natural House book has stayed with me ever since we built that house, lived in it very happily, added on to it, sold it, and then moved to Albuquerque where we have since moved three more times already. What I love about it in particular is it's sincere naturalness. All the photos are of real houses for real people with sweet, uncluttered rooms of airy grace and personal idiosyncrasy--exactly the type of house I try to create for myself. The book belongs to a time and mindset where people didn't enter a home and wail, "No granite countertops?? I can't LIVE without stainless steel! Oh, my God, CARPET! Tear it out before I vomit!"

Instead, the book illustrates and suggests ways to make your home fresh and charming on the smallest of budgets: white curtains, house plants, baskets, minimal inexpensive furniture, and lots of open windows to let the breeze in and the day's woes out. If there's any kind of "message" in the text, it's simply this: seven bathrooms and an industrial kitchen do not a home make. A happy home can be as small as a yert and as plain as a white-washed room. It really is the thought that counts.

So on that thought I'm off to put up my feet, have a glass of white wine, and finish reading Daughter of Smoke & Bone. Oh, and if you're wondering about the cockroach, I captured him with a piece of cardboard and put him in the back yard. I'm sure he has a home to go to somewhere.
 

 

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9. Interview with Kristi Helvig, Author of Burn Out

kristi

Writer Kristi Helvig makes her authorial debut with her young adult sci-fi novel “Burn Out” (Egmont USA) in spring 2014.

Helvig was born in North Carolina and grew up in Delaware. She holds a Ph.D. in clinical psychology from Nova Southeastern University in Davie, Fla. She has spent her career in Colorado as a successful clinical psychologist and life coach. She regularly gives lectures
as a professional psychologist and visits schools where she talks with students about books and publishing.

Helvig has contributed as a guest blogger at LiteraryRambles.com and keeps her own blog updated with musings about “Star Trek,” space monkeys, books and other assorted topics.

The geek-for-science-fiction lives outside of Denver, Colo., with her husband of 17 years, two children and their behaviorally challenged dogs. In her spare time, Helvig practices yoga, hikes and loves trying new wines.

Visit Kristi online at http://www.kristihelvig.com/

How did you research the true science involved in “Burn Out?”

Google is a writer’s best friend and I always start there, but it can only take you so far. I watched a lot of documentaries on NatGeo, Science Channel, etc. and then contacted an astrophysics department at a large university. Nothing beats talking to experts in the field, and I was flattered that they took time out of their busy schedules to help me.

As you were learning about these scientific concepts, was there anything that surprised you?

I learned that sending all the world’s nuclear weapons into the sun wouldn’t cause it to burn out. Who knew? Finding a plausible way for the sun to burn out early was challenging, and where I definitely relied on assistance from astrophysicists.

Tell us about the themes you explored in the book and what you hope they mean to readers.

Trust is a huge theme throughout the book, as well as how to move forward after devastating losses. Weapons also play a big role in the book. New technology in my main character’s world has allowed for smarter, more lethal guns and she struggles with their impact on Earth’s remaining survivors.

Did your work as a clinical psychologist influence your writing?

Absolutely. I’ve seen hundreds of clients over the years and though everyone processes events according to their unique perspective, the experiences of love, fear, pain, and loss are common to humanity. It’s interesting to see how people interpret life events within their own personal construct.

What do you like about writing science fiction?burn out

That’s easy. I get to make up whole new worlds and then see what happens when I let characters loose in them. It’s creative and fun, and I get paid to do it. I couldn’t imagine anything better.

What advice do you have for other aspiring writers?

Never give up. Eat lots of chocolate. Drink lots of wine. Seriously though, the most important thing is to keep writing and find some good, honest critique partners…and then listen to them. Always strive to improve your craft. Read a lot. Reading is just as important to me as writing.

If your book were turned into a movie, who would you like to see play Tora, Markus and James?

What a fun question! I think Emily Browning would make a kick-ass Tora, and Skylar Astin as Markus would be awesome. James is tougher. Either Cam Gigandet or Alexander Ludwig is close to how I pictured James as I wrote him.

Who are some of your favorite science fiction and fantasy writers?

Lois Lowry, Madeleine L’Engle, Isaac Asimov, and Ray Bradbury to name a few. Additionally, though they’re not straight sci-fi writers, Neil Gaiman and Stephen King have had a huge influence on me.

What’s the best compliment you’ve received about your book so far?

My favorite so far was when a fellow author told me how much she loved my main character, Tora, and called her “the female Han Solo.” You can’t get a cooler compliment than that.

Is there a second “Burn Out” book in the works?

Yes, I’m hard at work on the second book, and I’m having a blast with it.

Hardcover, $17.99; eBook, $13.07
ISBN: 978-1606844793
Young Adult Science Fiction, 272 pages
Egmont USA, April 8, 2014

Purchase here!


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10. Hate-Reading

Have you ever hate-read anything? Maybe, like this Paris Review contributor, you even do it regularly? When I came upon that post today I was initially taken aback. Why, I’d never! *Gasp of shock and horror*

Sure, I’ve hate-watched something before. I readily admit that after the second or third episode of the first season of the Under the Dome TV series I found it so terribly bad and realized it wasn’t going to get any better. But I kept watching it each week because there was something about hating it that was fun. And when the second season runs I will hate-wath that too.

But hate-reading? Why I’d never! Except then I remembered that once I did. It didn’t start off as hate-reading but the book quickly turned bad. I kept reading, however, because it was bad. It was a nonfiction book and its badness became not only fascinating but fun. Let’s see how many holes I can poke in the argument! And there were a few flaws of logic that were breathtaking. So I read to the end, hating it the whole time and always wondering why I didn’t just return the book to the library.

I am sure that was the only time I have ever hate-read something. But now I recall hate-reading a couple Harold Bloom books. Those books weren’t bad and Bloom is a very good writer, it’s the man himself that rubs me the wrong way. All his sly insulting comments about feminists, his pomposity and ego drive me nuts. I know this but I read those couple of books anyway just for the pleasure of whipping myself into a hate-reading frenzy.

I generally feel contrite afterwards; a little dirty and ashamed. So it is probably good I don’t hate-read very often. It’s been years but I doubt that means I have seen the error of my ways. No, I suspect I am just waiting for the right book to come along.


Filed under: Books, Reading

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11. Chicanonautica: Brainpan Fallout Adventures of a Young Chicanonaut



La Bloga readers may find my Mondo Ernesto serialization of Brainpan Fallout -- a Nineties experiment that went from the Phoenix area coffee house giveaway Red Dog Journal to the infant internet and gained me fans in strange places -- of interest.  The main character/narrator/hero is a young Chicano.


And I think I’ve finally gotten rid of all those pesky typos and mistakes that often ruined the jokes. Not that anybody’s complained, or even noticed them all these years.

I didn’t really think much about sneaking in a Chicano -- I had done it in Cortez on Jupiter. I had also researched The Red Dog Journal’s audience, going to the coffee shops, poetry slams, marijuana-choked parties, listening to their conversations. I was trying to create pulp fiction for them. They were predominately white, but considered themselves to be anti-racist, so why not?

I believe that audiences need to be challenged. Since then, as a bookstore clerk I’ve seen how genre readers get bored with the same old routine. They have their habits, but need things stirred up now and then. Maybe the adventures of Flash Gomez in the 20th century would do the trick.

With 20/20 hindsight, Flash was the prototype for the Chicanonaut: A Chicano going out of bounds, crossing the borders of his barrio into strange new worlds.


He wasn’t based on anybody in particular, but after it was going for a while, I saw a Univision news story about young Nueva York bike messengers. One of them said, “Llámame Flash.”

Brainpan Fallout is also an example of my groping for Afrofuturism, or at least an alternative to the all-white future that was still the default setting for most sci-fi. There are black characters involved in cyberpunkish activities, but with their own agendas. This was long before the current postcolonial trends.

I’m glad I had the chance to go mad scientist after things crashed for me, and like Henry Miller in Tropic of Cancer, that “Everything that was literature has fallen from me.” I recreated myself in my own image, and took the chance to offer some advice to the younger generation as a vato who’d been around on the countercultural merry-go-round a few times on what to watch out for when they finally get flung into the gaping jaws of their future.

It’s also good for some laughs.



Ernest Hogan is busy drawing and writing about luchadores, and preparing to talk about Chicano sci-fi at the University of California Riverside for their Science Fiction and Technoculture Studies program.

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12. 42? Sausages? On the meaning of life and Tim Hopgood’s Little Answer

littleanswerBoth giggle inducing and surreptitiously brain expanding, Little Answer by Tim Hopgood is about BIG questions (“What is the meaning of life?”, “What is the secret to happiness?”).

And sausages.

Yes, really. It’s about sausages.

And I say that even though you could in fact argue Little Answer is ultimately about the biggest existential questions any of us face; it’s about trying to find out who we are, about trying to understand how we fit into the big wide world.

Profound AND full of laugh out loud moments, kindness and good old fashioned silliness, this is a fabulous book for all ages.

In this philosophical and joyously absurd book Little Answer actually knows his name (‘Sausages‘), but the worrying problem is that he can’t find his question. Something’s missing in his life, and until he can find the Q to his A, things just don’t feel right.

With help from a friend, Little Answer asks around. Could he be the answer to “What makes the wind blow?” or “Where did everything come from?”. There must be a question out there just right for him to answer…

Children will recognise themselves in the gloriously satisfying end to this book, and they and their parents will enjoy the inclusion of brief answers to all the more challenging questions posed in the story. Indeed this is the perfect book for children always asking “Why?”

Tim’s richly textured illustrations are bright and beautiful. His scribbles and prints, full of energy, have an appealing child-like quality to them. Thick crayon strokes look like they’ve just been drawn on the page. And Little Answer’s characterization is brilliant; he’s utterly personable and endearing!

littleanswerreading

Tim’s told me that the idea for this book came to him during a question and answer session at the end of one his school visits.

One boy put his hand up and said “I’ve got a guinea-pig” and the teacher then explained to the boy that that wasn’t a question.

She then asked the class “What does a question need?” to which they all replied “An answer!”.

And at that point Tim immediately thought, “But what if the answer can’t find its question…”

I do hope that little boy and his guinea pig one day find out they’ve inspired a wonderful, witty, and warm book perfect for feeding (and satisfying) curiosity.

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

You know a book’s hit home when within just a couple of hours of it arriving, the kids are already at play, inspired by the book. And so it was with Little Answer. Balloons were filled with rice (making them lovely to hold), and then eyes, smiles and legs were added to make our own Little Answers.

littleanswer1

M couldn’t resist making a BIG Answer too! And the answers didn’t go nameless for long.

littleanswer2

They were called:

  • Butterfly
  • Mummy
  • Chocolate
  • Loa Loa
  • Ovaries
  • Mint
  • and… 55 (she was the BIG Answer)

  • The girls told me that these were all answers to questions they had come up with, and it was now my job to find out what those questions were.

    Well I like a challenge, and I was certain that one of the questions must involve cake, so off we set for a cafe.

    answerincafe

    To the huge delight of the girls, I was WRONG! None of their answers involved anything to do with a cafe (though they were more than happy to try some cake, just to be sure).

    answerlookingatcake

    I thought I better up my game, so I then decided that the local library would be a good place to look for questions. M was very obliging and looked up the dewey numbers for the books which might help me find the right questions to the answers she and her sister had prepared.

    deweynumbers

    So at least I was in the right section for some of my questions…. and I started knuckled down to work, with the Little Answers looking along side me.

    answersinlib

    The Big Answer preferred to lounge about!

    biganswerinlib

    I have to admit, it was quite a struggle to find the right questions. But in case you’re wondering what they were here they are:

  • What has antennae, wings and is beautiful?
  • Who do you find in Ancient Egyptian tombs?
  • What does Cadburys make?
  • Name a nematode that might live in your gut
  • Name a part of a flower
  • What’s my (M’s) favourite herb?

  • And are you ready for the really really BIG question?

  • What is 165 divided by 3?
  • I especially liked the big question. It really reminds you how different the world can see when you’re a kid!

    Even if I struggled to find all the questions in the library, we had so much fun with this activity. Any game where the kids are in the know and the adults are clueless is always popular in this home! Plus, along the way we got to practise research skills and giggle a great deal. What could be better?

    Music we listened to whilst making our little answers included:

  • There Are More Questions Than Answers by Johnny Nash
  • The Dewey Decimal Rap
  • What’s The Answer? by Gene Harris & The Three Sounds
  • Other fun activities to try out alongside reading Little Answer include:

  • Playing Sausages! Great for a quick giggle… go on, give it a go!
  • Printing your own fabric to match the dress worn by Daisy in the book. Here’s a how the Artful Parent did child friendly fabric printing.
  • Making a snail friend for your little answers. Older children might enjoy making these ones from old tights or sweaters, whilst everyone will love eating these ones!
  • Reading Tim Hopgood’s BIG! (here’s my review) or The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams, both of which pair perfectly (though in different ways) with Little Answer.
  • What are you the answer to? What questions are you looking for? :-)

    Disclosure: I received a free review copy of Little Answer from the author.

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    13. 124 entries for Nigeria Prize for Literature

           The closing date for entries for this year's Nigeria Prize for Literature was 31 March, and they've now announced (though not yet at the official site ...) that there were 124 entries; see, for example, the This Day report.
           The prize rotates through four genres, and this year it's drama; the winner will receive US $100,000.
           To "encourage literary criticism" there's also a literary criticism prize, "open to literary critics from all over the world" (as long as the criticism is of Nigerian literature). Here the prize-sum is given in the local currency -- presumably since 1,000,000 naira sounds more impressive than its US dollar equivalent (less than $6200).

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    14. Welcome New Initiates! #VoteTris

    From HarperTeen and Divergent Official: Welcome, new Initiates! We know you loved the Divergent film, so we thought we’d share eight juicy details that weren’t in the movie you can look forward to when you read the book. 1. There’s more than hamburgers in the Dauntless cafeteria—there’s chocolate cake! Can you guess which non-initiate knows about it? “At the end of the hallway she turns

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    15. Reading Kundera in Central Europe

           At Eurozine they reprint a piece by Jonathan Bousfield from New Eastern Europe, Growing up in Kundera's Central Europe, in which he discusses how Milan Kundera's concept of Central Europe (and his writing) influenced three writers from the area -- from Czechoslovakia (Tomáš Zmeškal, "of mixed Czech and Congolese descent"), Yugoslavia (Miljenko Jergović, several of whose works have been translated into English), and the Soviet Union/Ukraine (The Moscoviad-author Yuri Andrukhovych) -- three countries that no longer have the same contours as they did when these authors were growing up, or even after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

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    16. Books in the Bedbug Series

    Since 2009, the Bedbug series has gained momentum, spawning a number of releases. A look at publications produced to-date and what is on the horizon. Book I Was First Released in a Ribbon-Bound Collector's Edition Kids loved this package with the Bedbug toy and the book with the sparkly orange ribbon. The little bag meant that Bedbug could travel. To order ribbon-bound books, please visit

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    17. Fiona McCrae Q & A

           At Guernica Jonathan Lee has a Q & A with Graywolf Press-publisher Fiona McCrae, The Art of Independent Publishing.
           She worked at Faber during interesting times, too, and describes the pleasant surprise that was the success of Per Petterson's Out Stealing Horses.

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    18. then Florinda said (about GOING OVER)

    You know how I'm always talking about Florinda?
    (Florinda, Florinda, Florinda)


    Well, there she is, all the way across the United States, at the Chronicle Books booth, talking to Lara Starr, Chronicle publicist, about whom I'm also often caught bragging.

    The two of them, together. And me here. 

    And yet, even though 3,000 miles separate us, Florinda always makes me feel like I'm right there in the room with her. She makes me laugh. She tells me stories. She reads many books. She makes room.

    Florinda was a key component in the Going Over blog tour, with her fabulous Q and A. That was (believe me) already going far beyond the call of duty, but yesterday, at the end of an uber long but good day, I received another gift from Florinda: this review of the Berlin book that she'd taken the time not just to read but to ponder.

    They are glorious words. I send you straight to her. Some 3,000 miles away from me, which is also the stretch of her smile.

    Thank you, Florinda!

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    19. EASTER 2014 - tesco gifts

    And also snapped in Tesco are Easter gift bags, wrap, decorations. napkins, kitchen gifts and kids tableware.

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    20. Golden Gate Bridge

    One more post to end the day ... OK ... now last minute packing ... YIKE!!

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    21. EASTER 2014 - john lewis

    It is my last day for Easter cards and we start with John Lewis who this year are stocking designs by Laura Darrington, Caroline Gardner, Cardmix, Susan O'Hanlon and Woodmansterne. Their own range centres on a bunny rabbit design on fresh green and colourful eggs. Some card designs are still available online or in John Lewis stores now along with decorations and gifts.

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    22. Researching weapons and armor

    Question: I can picture the weapons and the armor I want to use in my book because I've seen it in movies and tv show or something similar but I don't

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    23. EASTER 2014 - tesco cards

    Tesco have made a great effort for Easter this year with lots of variety in their card range and a large selection of decorations, gifts, and tableware. I bought this bunny design above which comes with a lovely decorated envelope. Here are some snap shots of other card designs spotted in store... Read the rest of this post

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    24. It was a wild, wild wood…

    furfamily

    Here’s a little moment in time. Right after I read The Little Fur Family to Huck (for the first time!) the other day, he wanted to read it himself. This is one of my favorite picture books to read with very young kids, and I can’t imagine how it slipped past Huck until now—I found this copy of the book at the bottom of a box of toys earlier in the week. Of course the very best edition is the tiny one with the faux-fur cover. It’s around here somewhere, but I don’t recall seeing it in ages. It’s probably under a bed.

    Anyway, when I grabbed my boy for the read-aloud, he was reluctant to listen, as he very often is right at the beginning. And then, as nearly always happens, before I finish the first page, he’s hooked. It went double this time around. He fell hard for the little fur child in the wild, wild wood, like so many before him.

    I caught a good chunk of his reading on video. There’s background noise from his big sisters and brother, but you can hear him pretty well. I love watching the leaps kids make at this age—the substitutions where they think they see where the word is going and plug in one they know, like his “fun children” for “fur child” and “mom” for “mother.”

    I don’t know if I caught this stage on video with any of the other kids. I have a pretty young Rilla reading an Ariel speech from The Tempest—you can’t hear much in the recording but it melts me to see the confidence with which she attacks some quite challenging text—but nothing, as far as I can recall, of the others at Huck’s stage. I’m glad I captured this much. Those sneezes!

    (Vimeo link)

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    25. SEA OF SHADOWS by Kelley Armstrong {Review}

    Reviewed by Andye SEA OF SHADOWS Age of Legends #1 by Kelley Armstrong File Size: 773 KB Print Length: 417 pages Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0751547816 Publisher: HarperCollins; 1st edition (April 8, 2014) Mark on Goodreads Buy on Amazon Kelley Armstrong, #1 New York Times bestselling author, takes an exciting new direction with this big, breathtaking blend of fantasy, romance, horror, and

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