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26. Aunt Crete’s Emancipation

When I get in a certain kind of mood, there’s nothing that I want more than stories about downtrodden people being showered with care and nice things and the people who have been metaphorically treading on them having that shoved in their faces. And Aunt Crete’s Emancipation, by Grace Livingston Hill, is the distilled essence of that. And you guys know me pretty well, I guess, because a number of you have recommended it to me over the past few years. It’s my own fault for not giving in and reading it sooner.Aunt Crete is Lucretia Ward, a dumpy middle-aged spinster who lives with her sister Carrie and her niece Luella. They’re not particularly nice to her, in just about every way they can manage. They pass off to her the greater share of the housework, deprive her completely of anything she wants for herself, and put down everything about her: her looks, her intelligence…even the kindness and love for her dead eldest sister that make her look forward to a visit from her unknown Western nephew.  Carrie and Luella are much less excited about the nephew, who they picture as gawky and uncivilized, and flee to a seaside resort just before he arrives, leaving Aunt Crete to receive him — and also to finish trimming some of Luella’s dresses and make jam and whitewash the cellar. The nephew, of course, is neither gawky or uncivilized. He’s handsome and wealthy and well-educated and kind, and he both appreciates and returns Aunt Crete’s affection. He also quickly grasps the actual nature of the situation, hard as Aunt Crete tries to hide it from him, and immediately starts making up for it. First he takes her shopping for clothes, sparing no expense — an essential part of this kind of book — and then he takes her to the same resort Carrie and Luella have run off to. From there on, Hill wallows in gentle malice. And she does it with such balance. She’s less gentle than, say L.M. Montgomery, but less malicious than Mary Jane Holmes, who would have had Luella die at the end of the book, but not before all her hair had fallen out. Hill only makes Luella marry a plumber, but she rubs Aunt Crete’s newly acquired advantages in Luella and Carrie’s faces exactly as much as I wanted her to.  To paraphrase Jimmy Carr on 10 o’ Clock Live, Grace Livingston Hill has clearly found my level. I’m just kind of impressed by the purity of this book, for lack of a better word. It’s the platonic ideal of this trope, whatever this trope is called. It’s unsullied by romance and there’s no plot to speak of – just nice things being showered on Aunt Crete and not on Carrie and Luella, and Carrie and Luella having that rubbed in their faces. It’s petty, and vindictive on behalf of a character who couldn’t be, and I love it. I should go figure out where I left that copy of Cloudy Jewel.


Tagged: 1910s, cinderella, gracelivingstonhill

2 Comments on Aunt Crete’s Emancipation, last added: 4/15/2014
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27. Why do we believe these things? - John Dougherty

Image © LostMedia
Ever since the beginning of my involvement with the publishing industry, I’ve had the suspicion that its thinking is full of ‘accepted truths’ that are, in fact, not true. My suspicions are growing.

One of these so-called accepted truths - shall we call them SCATs for short? - is the idea that “boys won’t read books with a girl as the central character”. I was involved in a conversation recently where this was asserted as fact.

- Hmmm, I said; but is that true? After all, boys read Mr Gum, and the hero of those books is a girl.
- Yes, came the reply, but it’s sold on Mr Gum himself.
- The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe? It’s Lucy’s story, really. If there’s a central character, it’s her.
- Yes, but there’s Peter and Edmund and Susan, too, so it’s a gender-balanced story.
- Northern Lights?
- Yes, but Pullman’s exceptional, isn’t he?
- The Hunger Games?
- Well, sometimes a book comes along that just breaks all the rules.

…and so on. 

Interestingly, the person who most strongly made such statements also quite blithely said that their company does no marketplace research; they just trust in instinct & experience.

This is not to denigrate anyone involved in the conversation; they’re all good people who have achieved much in the world of publishing, and it was a privilege to talk to them. But it did get me wondering - is there in fact any real evidence to support the idea that boys won’t read books about girls? Or is it simply an unfounded myth that has gained traction and now won’t let go?

On the same day, I responded to a tweet from the inestimable Let Toys Be Toys campaign about their Let Books Be Books initiative. They’re building a gallery - which is here and growing; do take a look - to challenge this idea. Examples there, and others I’ve spotted or thought of since, include:

  • Alice in Wonderland 
  • The Silver Chair
  • Matilda
  • the Sophie stories
  • Pippi Longstocking
  • A Face Like Glass
  • Peter Pan & Wendy (interesting, isn’t it, that since Disney the title has been shortened to Peter Pan, when really it’s Wendy’s story?)
  • The BFG
  • Mr Stink
  • the Tiffany Aching books
  • The Story of Tracy Beaker
  • Sabriel
  • Fever Crumb

And there are more. Does anyone honestly think boys won’t read Geraldine McCaughrean’s wonderful The White Darkness or Not The End of the World? Is Tony Ross’s Little Princess really rejected by half the toddler population? Does the possession of external genitalia truly impede enjoyment of The Secret Garden?

Then I started thinking about my own childhood reading. I was a very insecure boy, bullied by my classmates, and gender-shaming was one of their weapons. I learned early on that anything that marked me out as insufficiently masculine was to be avoided. So did that mean I didn’t read “girls’ books?” Nope. I just read them in secret. I rather enjoyed Blyton’s The Naughtiest Girl and St Clare’s series, for instance, and Pollyanna; and truth to tell if gender wasn’t signified on the cover in some way then it didn’t even occur to me to ask if the central character was a boy. The two things that sometimes stopped me from reading books about girls - or being seen to read them - were:

  1. the fear of being shamed
  2. being given the message in some way that these books were not for me

In other words, there was nothing about either me or the book that made us a poor match. It was external pressure that got between me and those stories. And despite what my classmates would have had you believe, I don’t think I was a weirdo.

This isn’t the only SCAT that restricts young readers and the adults who write for them. Malorie Blackman recently challenged the idea that white children won’t read books starring characters from minority backgrounds. And where did we get the idea that children won’t read about adult characters? Have we forgotten how successful Professor Branestawn was in his day - or that children are happy to read about King Arthur’s knights, or Heracles, or Superman? 

Do we really believe that children are so closed-minded as to only want to read about characters like themselves? Do we honestly think so little of them? And if we think it true that children need characters to be like them even in age, colour and gender before they can identify with them, why are we happy to give them stories about rabbits and hedgehogs and guinea-pigs, about water-rats and moles and toads and badgers? Is there any sense at all in the assertion that a boy will identify with a different species more readily than with the opposite sex? That a white child will happily imagine himself to be a dog or a pig, but balk at imagining himself as black? 

We need to challenge these SCATs. They’re bad for books; they’re bad for readers; they’re bad for our society. So thank goodness for Let Books Be Books. Thank goodness for Malorie Blackman. Thank goodness for those people who are prepared to say, “Is there any actual evidence for that?” - and let’s agree to be those people ourselves.

And if we ever feel unsure of our ground, and wonder if maybe the SCATs are right, let’s remember a film industry SCAT recently reported by Lauren Child. Let’s remember that she was told a Ruby Redfort film was out of the question, because a female lead in a kids’ film is box-office poison.


And let’s remember that the highest-grossing animation of all time is now Disney’s female-led Frozen.


_____________________________________________________________

John's latest book is Stinkbomb & Ketchup-Face and the Badness of Badgers (OUP)

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28. How’s and Why’s of Dream Journaling

Dream Journaling

Keeping a Dream Journal

If you are serious about developing a deep connection with your inner self, this task is perhaps the best practice you can do. Keeping a dream journal involves writing down your dreams as they occur. Ideally, this would be just as you are waking up while the dream is still fresh in your mind. So keep a notebook and a pen (or digital diary–there are apps for that now if you can get technical while half awake!) next to your bed. If you are one of those people who can’t seem to remember your dreams, then try keeping a journal of whatever comes to mind that is important to you on a daily basis. For any kind of journaling, keep it simple. That will be the best assurance for encouraging you to be faithful about making regular entries into it. At a minimum each entry in a dream journal should include:

  • The date
  • A title for the dream (this will help you remember the dream as you remember a movie)
  • A detailed description of the dream written in the present tense. Include every color, character, object, background, place, emotional feeling, and emotional nuance. Pay attention to the number of things occurring such as recording if there are 3 books or 2 people. It is important. Find and use a good dream dictionary—one that gives many meanings to each symbol and teaches dreamwork exercises. I like Cloud Nine: A Dreamer’s Dictionary by Sandra A. Thompson.

This practice will usually be all you have time to do on a regular basis. However, depending upon how thorough you want to be, you can do the following:

  • Reserve a section either below or next to the dream where you make a note of any dreamwork done on the dream such as making associations with the dream symbols or make notes on what the dream may be about by using the other dream methods described below.
  • If you have asked to have this dream prior to dreaming it, you should by all means write down the question or intention before having the dream. The point isn’t to be so thorough in analyzing every dream but to keep an ongoing consistent recording of every important dream and even the minor ones, if you have the self-discipline. You can always come back later and do additional dreamwork on any dream if you have done a good job of recording the dream in detail.
  • If you have seen how this dream has helped, you may want to reserve space to add a note about this in the margin or in a space below the dreamwork section.

Also, what appears to be a minor dream to your waking mind can actually end up being of profound importance for the rest of your life, so please pay attention to the very short dreams and ones that don’t seem important. It might not be apparent at the moment, but you will see the dream’s significance in ten or twenty years down the road. You will see that your deeper consciousness is already preparing you for the major tasks that lie years ahead. Also you will want to record dream encounters with healers and guides whose presence you might want to honor later


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29. Intuitive Collaging

I have been mentoring my friend's daughter as she is making her way to Massachusetts College of Art so she can become an art therapist. One thing she loves doing is making intuitive collages with me.
The idea isn't to make a pretty picture, but rather select images, colors and patterns that resonate with your feelings on a gut level, put them together and see what story they tell.
These are my two from last night.

This top one speaks to me in a couple of different ways. One about evolution, and perhaps the other about ancestry or the circle of life.



  
This second one tells me that this person is clearly at a crossroads in his life. His posture may appear that all things seems lost or impossible, but the symbol of the bird with outstretched wings is a sign of hope, as well as the "all-knowing" eye in the sky. The building can mean a place or safety and respite, or even a church. This one really pulled me in as I created it.

It's so good to be back on the blogs! I hope to make at least weekly posts again.
Thanks for stopping by♥

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30. Your Weakness is Your Strength

This might get weird. I’m just gonna put that out here, right up front. I’ve been in an especially reflective mood lately, and I’m pulling this post from that painfully honest well. Because something’s been on my mind. A series of questions, actually…

 

When did I start second guessing my every move?

 

Why have I become so self-critical?

 

When did I turn into a walking apology?

 

Maybe I’m alone in this. I dunno. But somehow I’ve let toxic self-sabotage become my go-to move. And I need to shake it off. These days, over and over, I find myself thinking…

 

You’re too emotional.

 

You’re too easily played.

 

You’re too naive.

 

You’re not smart enough.

 

You’re not tough enough.

 

You’re not good enough at this game.

 

And on and on and on. Yes, it’s good to reflect and push yourself. And a healthy dose of self-doubt is an extremely useful thing. Without at least a little of it, it’s almost impossible to grow. But too much? Too much, and there’s no room for growth at all. Instead, there’s only room for the echo of self-destructive thought.

 

I think it hit me tonight, when I was driving home from an especially long day at work. Tonight, on a long stretch of highway, I had the music cranked up as I was listening to Pharrell’s Happy. And you know what? I was singing along and acting completely goofy and un-ironic and just being… unapologetically happy. I was just being myself, feeling good like no one was watching, no apology necessary. And yanno what? It was great.

 

All that toxic self-talk had completely disappeared.

 

And on that cloud of joy-for-no-reason, I came home and reread a recent interview with Pharrell in Red Bulletin. And over and over, he talks about emotion and the power of human feeling and how hard he works to listen and stay open to it as he creates new things. Without apology, he acknowledged this empathy and emotion, and his inability to push it aside. He owns it not as a weakness, but as a strength. A strength that fuels everything he does:

 

“…Always shooting for that and using feeling as a compass. We are so dismissive of our feelings. Yet…our feelings can lead us to do really crazy things or really amazing things…”
“…Steve Jobs. He so genuinely bought that product to the world; it is called a computer. But we are human, and that is what a computer will never be able to do is feel. That is what makes us the superior species of this planet…”

 

“…When I realized that thinking is not my path and feeling is for me, I started to realize that people are so dismissive about other people’s feelings…Ferraris, jewelry, all of those things mean nothing…You can’t take that when you go. You take your feelings with you and your experiences that gave you those feelings. That is the wealth, man. An experience. The coolest thing that you talk about is your trip where you went and you had a good time. The first thing you talk about it in terms of description, “Man, it was awesome.”

 

I’m no creative genius like Pharrell, but I think he might be on to something. Maybe our weaknesses are also our strengths. Sure, I should still try to hone my critical thinking skills, but maybe, I don’t need to dismiss the core of who I am. Maybe I need to embrace it. Maybe I need to flip that thought loop until it sounds more like…

 

I’m empathic enough to care deeply about others.

 

I’m optimistic enough to stay open to possibility.

 

I’m forgiving enough to look past flaws and shortcomings.

 

I’m headstrong enough to take chances.

 

I’m resilient enough to ante up, again and again.

 

I’ve got enough heart to know which games really matter.

 

So if I’m not alone, and you’re feeling self-critical, this is my long-winded way of passing it along to you: whatever your weakness is, no matter what your critical thought loop says, the flaws in you are probably also your biggest strengths. Be you, and no one else. Be you and work it, baby.

 

Clap along if you feel like a room without a roof…

 

 

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31. Publishing Jobs: HarperCollins, Random House, Thieme Publishers

This week, HarperCollins is hiring a senior marketing manager, and Random House needs a manager of children’s paperback publishing. Thieme Publishers is seeking a managing editor, and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt is on the hunt for an associate designer. Get the scoop on these openings and more below, and find additional just-posted gigs on Mediabistro.

harpercollins

Find more great publishing jobs on the GalleyCat job board. Looking to hire? Tap into our network of talented GalleyCat pros and post a risk-free job listing. For real-time openings and employment news, follow @MBJobPost.

New Career Opportunities Daily: The best jobs in media.

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32. Mark Twain Humor Contest

mark twain imageThe Mark Twain House & Museum’s Inaugural “Royal Nonesuch” Humor Writing Contest for writers of all ages from all corners of the globe!

Recognizing that Samuel Clemens (aka: Mark Twain) began writing at an early age and to encourage other young authors, we welcome submissions for two categories:

  • Adult (age 18 and over at time of submission) at $22 per submission, and
  • Young Author (age 17 and under at time of submission) at $12 per submission.

Celebrity Judges for Adults are: Roy Blount, Jr., Colin McEnroe, and Lucy Ferris.

Celebrity Judges for Young Authors are: Tim Federle, author of Better Nate Than Ever, and Jessica Lawson, author of The Actual & Truthful Adventures of Becky Thatcher.

Submit your original humorous essays and stories for a chance at a cash prize, the opportunity to meet bestselling authors at our annual “Mark My Words” event, and best of all - bragging rights!

“If Mark Twain were alive, he’d be happy about this contest, because he’d win it.” – Andy Borowitz

DEADLINE: June 30, 2014

FEE: $22.00 “Adult/18 and over” categories 

FEE: $12.00 “Young Author/17 and under”

Writing Contest: The Guidelines

•  Submit 10,000 words (or fewer) of any original work of humor writing. (Entries longer than 10,000 words will be disqualified.)
•  Submissions must be in English.

•  Submissions are not required to be in the style of Mark Twain or about Mark Twain. We want to hear your voice. And we want you to make us laugh!

•  Submissions will be judged by our award-winning Mark Twain House staff writers and scholars, Trinity College faculty, and celebrity judges: Roy Blount, Jr., Colin McEnroe, and Lucy Ferris. Celebrity judges for the 17 & under contest are Tim Federle and Jessica Lawson.

•  Submissions are due by June 30th, 2014.

•  Winners may be asked to provide age verification regarding submission category.

•  You may submit more than one entry; a separate fee is required for each entry.

•  Winners will be notified by September 5, 2014.

•  Winners will be presented to the public at the 4th Annual “Mark My Words” event at which bestselling authors appear onstage October 21, 2014 to benefit The Mark Twain House & Museum. (Past authors have included John Grisham, David Baldacci, and Sandra Brown.)

•  Winners will retain ownership of their work. The Mark Twain House & Museum reserves the right to publish winning pieces in a public forum with credit to the author. 

PRIZES (winners in both categories):

•      1st Prize: $1,000 (Adult & Young Author)

•      2nd Prize: $500 (Adult& Young Author)

•      3rd Prize: $250 (Adult& Young Author)

•      Three Honorable Mention Prizes: $100 Gift Certificate for the Mark Twain Museum Store (Adult & Young Author).

•  All 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Prize winners in both the “Young Author/17 and under” and “Adult/18 and over” categories will be invited to attend “Mark My Words” and go backstage to meet bestselling authors. (Winners are responsible for their travel and accommodations.)

•  Staff and immediate family members of the Mark Twain House are not eligible.

The mission of The Mark Twain House & Museum is to foster an appreciation of the legacy of Mark Twain as one of our nation’s defining cultural figures, and to demonstrate the continuing relevance of his work, life and times. The Mark Twain House & Museum operates as a non-profit 501(c)(3) foundation. Mark Twain built the house in 1874 and lived here with his wife and children until 1891. This is where he wrote such masterpieces as The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and is located at 351 Farmington Avenue in Hartford, CT. We appreciate your participation in this inaugural writing contest as it supports our preservation efforts.

By clicking ‘Submit’ you acknowledge that this is your original work and you agree to all contest rules and guidelines.

Here is the link to submit: https://twainhouse.submittable.com/submit/26632

Good luck!

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: Contest, opportunity, Places to sumit, Win, writing Tagged: Contest for Audlts and young authors, Humor Contest, Mark Twain, Samel Clemens

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33. Why I'm STILL Reading This Book (or how I'm the slowest reader ever)

by Andye This morning, I yelled upstairs to my daughter, Reagan, to grab my book off my nightstand and toss it down. "Which one?" she yelled down. "SEA OF SHADOWS," I answered. "You're still reading that?" she condescended.  "You are SUCH a slow reader!!" Thanks Reagan. My 13-year-old. Who read Divergent in 3 hours. I've been reading this book for...*checks Goodreads*...five days.

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34. In a Pickle


Would you rather....




...face an angry prickle of hedgehogs with dirty sporks...





 ...or a grove of well meaning teddy bear cacti who want to play trampoline with you?





Oh dear.  What to do.


This image was brought to you tax-free.

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35. Book Review: Savage Girl by Jean Zimmerman

From Goodreads:
Jean Zimmerman’s new novel tells of the dramatic events that transpire when an alluring, blazingly smart eighteen-year-old girl named Bronwyn, reputedly raised by wolves in the wilds of Nevada, is adopted in 1875 by the Delegates, an outlandishly wealthy Manhattan couple, and taken back East to be civilized and introduced into high society.

Bronwyn hits the highly mannered world of Edith Wharton era Manhattan like a bomb. A series of suitors, both young and old, find her irresistible, but the willful girl’s illicit lovers begin to turn up murdered.

Zimmerman’s tale is narrated by the Delegate’s son, a Harvard anatomy student. The tormented, self-dramatizing Hugo Delegate speaks from a prison cell where he is prepared to take the fall for his beloved Savage Girl. This narrative—a love story and a mystery with a powerful sense of fable—is his confession.
Writing
I have very few complaints regarding the quality of the writing.  Zimmerman has done an excellent job researching her subject and capturing the era and setting, from the western mining towns to the upscale parlors of New York.  She also does a great job of capturing a consistent voice in her narrator.  The plot is certainly original, and I truly appreciated the author's use of her research throughout the story.

My main concern regarding the quality of writing is in the pacing of the novel.  There were moments where the story became so slow and so bogged down in detail that the flow of the plot really suffered.  For the first three quarters of the novel, we are getting the narrator's story as he is relating it to his lawyers.  It's told in past tense, but this is occasionally interrupted by his lawyers, which managed to throw me off quite a few times, as there's no real demarcation, other than the switch into present tense.  The final quarter of the book is also told in present tense, and moves at a much quicker pace than the rest of the novel.  It felt a bit disjointed and disorienting.

Entertainment Value
I really wanted to love this book.  I have this fascination with the idea of feral children and was quick to add this to my TBR list when I read about it in School Library Journal.  Unfortunately, the book just fell flat for me.  A huge problem was that I just couldn't bear the narrator.  I'm normally fine with unlikable and unreliable narrators, but this character's voice just grated on my ever nerve.  He's whiny, spoiled, and self-indulgent.  While this isn't a fault with the novel (the author intended for the narrator to sound that way and she does a great job at maintaining consistency), my dislike for him really hampered my personal enjoyment of the book.

There's also the whole issue of the Savage Girl and why our narrator falls in love with her.  While my dislike of the narrator was an issue of personal preference, I feel something was missing from the novel in terms of explaining why she is so wonderful and so beguiling.  Why do people just keep falling in love with her for no reason?  Did I miss something?  I would have liked to get to know more about her, I think, and less about our narrator.

Overall
I think this book definitely has an audience, particularly among those who love historical fiction, but there were aspects that made it really difficult for me to get behind.  While the narrator was well-developed (if incredibly irritating), most of the other characters were flat and unbelievable.  And the pacing and flow left a lot to be desired in terms of how engrossed I became (or did not become) in the book itself.  I love the subject and I greatly appreciate how well researched the book is, and I might try the author again in the future, but this one didn't blow me away.

Thank you to Penguin for providing a copy for me to review!

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36. A brief review of the Ender's Game movie, via the FB.

I'm just going to go ahead and let Jeremy speak for himself:

Jeremy hates ender's game A LOT

Well, then. Glad to know I wasn't missing anything!

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37. Live Coverage of the 2014 Quidditch World Cup on Pottermore

We have some really exciting news from Pottermore: J. K. Rowling is adding new content to the site about the current Quidditch World Cup as it takes place in real time. Information about the opening ceremonies and the first match, which was between Norway and the Ivory Coast, can be viewed in the newly opened area of the Daily Prophet offices, which is in Diagon Alley. The reporting was done by none other than Ginny Potter:

Hot off the press! Reporting from the Patagonian desert for the Daily Prophet, Ginny Potter brings you the latest news of the 2014 Quidditch World Cup. 

Visit the Daily Prophet offices in Diagon Alley, recently opened on Pottermore.com, to read all about the opening ceremony of the tournament, and why it is bound to reignite the debate about restricting mascots ‘to herbivores, creatures smaller than a cow and nothing that breathes fire’. 

Find out why the Argentinian Council of Magic has come under fire from Chief Consulting Magizoologist, Rolf Scamander, and read his exclusive interview with the Daily Prophet. 

You can also read the report from the official Daily Prophet Quidditch correspondent, Ginny Potter, about the eventful first match of the 2014 Quidditch World Cup between Norway and Ivory Coast, which was played on Sunday. The last time these two teams met, the match lasted for five days. Find out which team was victorious this time around, and read more post-game analysis. 

Visit the Daily Prophet offices in Diagon Alley on Pottermore.com to read this exclusive writing by J.K. Rowling. Remember to keep an eye out for more reports from the Patagonian desert!

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38. Bologna, Bamboo, Bookworms, and More


I do love this time of year, when everything begins to bloom, and we are gifted with occasional beach days. I've been doing plenty of spring cleaning with my girls and reveling in getting the garden into some sort of shape. Many of the plants we put in last year are beginning to thrive, including the BIG bamboo we planted. If all goes well, I'll be able to use the bamboo sheaths for my woodcut barens one of these years. (And then, I can write off the cost of the bamboo planting and containment, yes?)

Along with my non-virtual spring cleaning, I'm realizing it's time to dust the cobwebs off the blog as well. I've been cocooned in my studio making books and pictures. I did find my way out to visit the Bologna Children's Book Fair, which was mind boggling in all of the best ways. See photos below of my two purchases from the show. First, Mare, a stunning large format picture book with the most amazing watercolors I have seen in...I don't know how long. (My iphone camera does not do these justice, but you get the idea, at least.)



Second, how could I resist Il Piccolo Teatro di Rebecca? It's not brand new (2011 publication), but it is unbelievably intricate and beautiful. Yes, those are all diecuts. 



Both books are from Rizzoli. In fact, I spent an inordinate amount of time at the Rizzoli booth examining all of their amazing offerings. I also enjoyed a lively dinner with my agent Elena Giovinazzo and fellow pip Isabel Roxas. The balance of the week was spent in Siena with my husband where we researched old (OLD!) maps...so expect to see those make an appearance in some form at some point.

The third book in the Zoe series, Zoe's Jungle, will be arriving in May. I'll have more about that soon, including a trailer that is almost finished. For now, here is the springtime-colored cover with Zoe in action!


In August, I Feel Five will be published by Candlewick. This is my first book with Candlewick and also my first book with a male protagonist. Meet Fritz:


Finally, in December, The Best-Ever Bookworm Book will be published by Little, Brown. This one was written by Alice Kuipers, and I really enjoyed having the opportunity to illustrate such an imaginative story. It's also been very gratifying to try a completely new illustration style. There will be plenty more about this one in the months to come, including some posts about the process (which was unlike anything I've undertaken before). Here's a sneak peek of the cover:

I am looking forward to being on the faculty of the Book Passage Children's Conference in June (here in Marin County, CA). I'll be doing a pajama night at Diesel (also in Marin) on June 6th. Otherwise, I am digging into 2015 titles including the second book in the Best-Ever series, a Christmas themed book with the characters from I Feel Five, and a new book for Scholastic. Happy Spring!




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39. Science Poetry Pairings - Bugs

First let me say that I hate the title of this post—bugs. The scientist in me really dislikes the use of the word bugs as a broad classification for arthropods and other "creepy crawly" creatures. Here's a rundown on the classification system and where these organisms are found.
Domain - Eukarya / Kingdom - Animal / Phylum - Arthropod

Arthropods are composed of five classes of organisms--arachnids, insects, crustaceans, centipedes, and millipedes. Now, hemiptera is an order of insects known as "true bugs." Included in this order are stink bugs, cicadas, aphids, water striders and more. I know this is really picky, but arthropods are pretty amazing, and I hate to see them all lumped together.

That said, bugs is the colloquial term for these critters, so I'll defer on this usage just for today's pairing of books on BUGS!

Poetry Book
The poem above is a perfect segue into the book Bugs: Poems About Creeping Things. The first thing you'll notice upon picking it up is the small trim size--perfect for the subject matter. The poems beg to be shared aloud, with a number of the selections (seven of them!) written for two voices. They are clever and witty and seem to share some inside jokes with young readers. Many of the situations are preposterous, making them all the more fun to consider. Here are two short poems.
spiderwebs

Web sparkle
on the lawn
like diamond
necklaces
at dawn.

Shiny droplets--
small oases--
beckon spiders
to their places.

Silently they
look and lurk.

Time now for
spider work.

*****
cicada ghosts

Haunted skins
cling
emptily
to the rough bark
of the hackberry
tree,

and farther up
where I can't
see,
ghosts are
buzzing
eerily:
zz-zz-zz-zz
zeeeeee!
Poems ©David Harrison. All rights reserved.

Altogether you will find 40 short, rhyming poems in this volume that will delight children and adults alike.

Hey There, Stink Bug!, written by Leslie Bulion and illustrated by Leslie Evans, is a collection containing 19 poems, a helpful glossary of scientific terms, poetry notes that describe the form of the poems, and suggestions for additional resources. Here's a poem on the much maligned dung beetle.
Dung Beetle
by Leslie Bulion

Hard-working scarab
sculpts a tasty ball for grub
Beetle rock and roll
saves the world from dancing
knee-deep in elephant doo.
Poem ©Leslie Bulion. All rights reserved.

The terrific thing about the poems in this collection is that they are accompanied by factual information. Here's an excerpt about the dung beetle.
Dung beetles belong to a family of wide-bodied beetles called scarab beetles. Scarabs are often very colorful.

Dung beetles eat chunks of animal manure, called dung. Some dung beetles pat the dung into balls. They kick-roll the balls away and may even take them underground. Dung beetles are quite a clean-up crew!
And here's what you'll find in the poetry notes about this poem.
The tanka is a Japanese poem form even older than the haiku. It has five lines and no more than thirty-on syllables. Its ideas are usually from nature. Some of the words in a tanka can have more than one meaning in the poem. When you read a tanka, it can seem like two haiku poems—the middle line is part of each haiku.
Poem and Text ©Leslie Bulion. All rights reserved.

Evans' watercolor-washed linoleum prints offer vibrant views of the insects, nicely complementing Bulion's poems and text.


Nonfiction Picture Book
Bugs Up Close, written by by Diane Swanson and photographed by Paul Davidson, is an oversized book with close-up photos of a wide range of insects in all their glory. After introducing and defining insects, Swanson turns to their features and behavior and highlights bodies, exoskeletons, spiracles, legs, wings, mouthparts, eyes, antennae, hair, signals, eggs, metamorphosis, colors, shapes, weapons, size, and success.

Here's how the book opens.
You are sitting under a tree when something tickles your toes. You brush it off, and the tiny critter crawls away through the grass. Then you notice a green bug hopping by and see yellow wings fluttering above your head.
Creeping, jumping, flying—little creatures seem to be everywhere. But not all of them are insects. The insects are the ones that have three main body sections. Most insects also have antennae, wings, and six legs (three on each side).
Text ©Diane Swanson. All rights reserved.

Swanson has filled this book with fascinating bits about insects in a most accessible manner. Readers will find pronunciation for terms such as proboscis, spiracles and metamorphosis provided in parentheses. The text is concisely written and easy to comprehend. A table of contents, brief glossary, and index are also included. Paired with the incredible photographs supplied by Davidson, this book provides a thorough introduction to the world of insects.


Perfect Together
Pairing Harrison's more light-hearted look at bugs with Bulion's more serious is a good way to begin. From there I would consider the body parts and special features described in the poems and pair them with related text from BUGS UP CLOSE. Across these three titles there isn't much you can't learn or imaging about bugs!

For additional resources, consider these sites.
  • The Roach World site from Discovery Kids lets kids explore life through the eyes of a cockroach.
  • The Understanding Evolution web site has a comprehensive section on arthropods entitled The Arthropod Story.
  • At the University of Illinois you'll find a large collection of insect illustrations.
  • If you want to use live animals in your class, check out these resources on using stick insects in the classroom.
  • Kids can play a game called Monster Bugs at Scholastic's Magic School Bus site. Given a drawer full of bug parts, kids put them together to create bugs found in nature or new bugs of their own.
  • Orkin has some bug and insect games for kids.

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40. lauramcphee: Colette et Louis XIV, chez elle au Palais Royale,...



lauramcphee:

Colette et Louis XIV, chez elle au Palais Royale, c1950 (Sanford H. Roth)



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41. ALSC Member of the Month — Meagan Albright

Each month, an ALSC member is profiled and we learn a little about their professional life and a bit about their not-so-serious side. Using just a few questions, we try to keep the profiles fun while highlighting the variety of members in our organization. So, without further ado, welcome to our ALSC profile, ten questions with ALSC member, Meagan Albright. 

1.  What do you do, and how long have you been doing it?

reading

Courtesy photo from Meagan Albright

I’m a Youth Services Librarian at the Alvin Sherman Library, Research and Information Technology Center at Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, FL. My library is joint-use, it serves the residents of Broward County and the students, faculty and staff at NSU; I’ve been here for 7 years.

2.  Why did you join ALSC?

At my very first ALA conference (New Orleans, 2006) I kind of crashed the Early Childhood Programs and Services table at the ALSC All Committee Meeting. They were so friendly in inviting me to join their discussion, so when they needed someone to take notes on the program they were presenting I promptly volunteered, and I’ve been saying yes to every opportunity that’s been offered to me to serve ALSC ever since.

3.  When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?

A super hero! I read a lot of comics and was a huge fan of the X-Men animated series. Sadly, my only superpower so far is the ability to read really fast.

4.  E-books or Print?

Both, as often as possible. My rule for purses is that they must be large enough to hold both my iPad and a paperback book so that I’m never caught without something to read.

5.  Bonfire or Campfire?

Anything that you can make s’mores over is fine by me! I’m a former Girl Scout, and therefore in charge of managing the fire pit at our Teen Volunteer After Hours Party at the library. Some of the teens have never had real s’mores!

6.  Do you have a “guilty pleasure” TV show?

I know some people are over the “modern fairytales with a twist” trend, but Once Upon a Time, Once Upon a Time in Wonderland, Grimm, and the upcoming Queen of Everything are all on my must-watch list.

7.  How many books do you own?

I’m always lending out, giving away, and acquiring more books, so it’s nearly impossible to know the total. Let’s just say the bookshelves at home are always full!

8.  Favorite part of being a Children’s Librarian?

Getting paid in high-fives and hugs from the storytime crowd.

9.  Candyland or Chess?

I would love to play an edible version of Candyland! Sour Patch Kid gamepieces, a Licorice Castle made of Twizzlers, home-baked Mama Gingersnap  and an ooey, gooey, delicious Molasses Swamp.

10.  What do you love about your work?

Finding new favorite books (for myself and for my patrons),  connecting with passionate, dedicated librarians, and seeing the positive impact that libraries have on children and families every day.

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

Thanks, Meagan! What a fun continuation to our monthly profile feature! (Meagan can be reached at ameagan@nova.edu.)

Do you know someone who would be a good candidate for our ALSC Monthly Profile? Are YOU brave enough to answer our ten questions? Send your name and email address to alscblog@gmail.com; we’ll see what we can do.

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42. 2 Spring Must Read Junior Novels with Wonderful Girl Protagonists

If your young independent reader is looking for a great read with a wonderful girl protagonist, or maybe she's looking for a new series to latch onto, you can't go wrong with either of these two books or their prequels.

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43. MORTAL ENCHANTMENT Cover Reveal and $50 Gift Card Giveaway from Stacey O'Neale

Today, Stacey O'Neale and Phoenix Reign Publishing are revealing the cover for MORTAL ENCHANTMENT, releasing on May 20, 2014! Check out the awesome cover and enter to win a $50 Amazon or Barnes & Noble Gift Card!!! On to the reveal! “Mortal Enchantment spins a unique twist on elemental mythology. This series is not to be missed.” Jennifer L. Armentrout, #1 New York Times

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44. Just in case you still haven't figured out my love of Vin Diesel.

From an interview about Chronicles of Riddick:

I was literally playing Dungeons and Dragons with Judi Dench and Karl Urban at nights after shooting. I will tell you that I was showing her Dungeons and Dragons books and showing her the different properties of Elementals.

Picturing that scene is just so adorable that I can't even.

Speaking of Karl Urban, WHAT THE HELL, FOX, WHY WON'T YOU JUST RENEW ALMOST HUMAN ALREADY??

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45. Souls of Aredyrah Blast & Giveaway

Tour Schedule


Series: Souls of Aredyrah



About the Series
Game of Thrones meets Narnia in this epic tale of two boys whose chance meeting leads them to a disturbing discovery: Not only are they bound by blood and prophecy, but their opposing beliefs are founded on similar lies. With adventure and romance, mysticism and cultural conflicts, this coming-of-age tales asks: What would you do if you learned everything you’ve been raised to believe is false—and those in power will do anything to stop the truth?

Book 1
In the world of Aredyrah, things are not what they seem. An ancient Purge has plunged the island into darkness, isolating its cultures by superstition and fear. Dayn lives in the northernmost region of Kirador and knows nothing of the great city-state of Tearia far to the south. All he knows is the Kiradyns are the only survivors of a god’s fiery wrath, and he looks nothing like them. Meanwhile Ruairi, a prince destined for greatness, resents his Tearian obligations, longing for a life he can never hope to have. But when tragedy takes his beauty as well as his name, he finds himself exiled by the very beliefs he once held dear. Both boys long for acceptance in societies that cling to religious ideals, but when fate throws them together, Dayn and Ruairi discover some unwelcome truths: not only are they bound by blood and prophecy, but the teachings they have been raised on are nothing more than lies. Will they reveal what they have learned, risking their lives and the security of those they love? Or will they keep silent, denying their destinies and the future enlightenment of their world?

Buy Book #1: The Fire and the Light
Ebooks: Kindle | Smashwords | Nook | Sony


Book 2
The Prophecy has come to life in Tearia, and the Temple wants nothing more than to see it dead. Whispers say the Unnamed One walks amongst them, and there is little doubt as to who that person is. Reiv is oblivious to the hopes turning in his direction, just as he is ignorant of a plot being waged against him. He has no time for rumors or innuendos; he is too busy trying to build a new life for himself. But the life he longs for will have to wait. A rebel movement is growing, and Reiv’s cousin Dayn has joined the insurgents in their cause.

Angered by Dayn’s involvement, Reiv reverts to his old self-serving behaviors. He wants nothing to do with prophecies or rebellions, and isn’t sure he wants anything to do with Dayn either. But when tragedy throws Reiv into new turmoil, he finds himself facing a dangerous choice. Someone he loves is dying, and there is only one chance to save him.

Will Reiv choose to be a Transcendor, fated to sacrifice his life for another? Or is he truly the Unnamed One, a hero destined for glory? One will save the life of an individual, the other that of an entire kingdom.

Buy Book #2: The Search for the Unnamed One
Amazon  |  Smashwords  |  BN  |  Kobo


Book 3
The saga of Aredyrah continues as Dayn and Alicine return to Kirador to find things very different from when they left. Their house has been ransacked, their parents missing, and evidence of spell work has put a price on Dayn’s head. Frightened, they go to the nearest place they know of: the homestead of Haskel, a man who has never been accepting of Dayn’s differences, and even less so of his own son’s.

Back in Tearia, Reiv has settled into the quiet life of a Shell Seeker. But while the rhythm of his routine is calm, the longings of his heart are not. He turns to Cora, an eye-catching girl who has also drawn the attentions of Lyal, a man whose hatred of Reiv goes far beyond jealously. But romance is the least of Reiv’s worries. A terrible plague is spreading, and Reiv’s brother, the King, is determined to burn it from the land—even if it means killing innocents along the way.


While Reiv risks annihilation by Tearia’s increasingly brutal king, Dayn suffers challenges of his own. His disappearance from Kirador months before not only ended the existence he once knew, but started a witch hunt that threatens his safety and the survival of his clan.

Both Dayn and Reiv find themselves facing a difficult choice: Leave their homelands in order to save themselves and those they love, or stay and fight an evil they cannot hope to defeat.


Buy Book #3: The Taking of the Dawn
Amazon  |  Smashwords  |  BN  |  Kobo

Book 4
In this final installment of the award-winning Souls of Aredyrah series, Dayn and Reiv find themselves facing an old foe and falling into the trap of a new one. Struggling to make their way home through a bitter landscape, they soon discover they are not alone. A tribe known as the Taubastets has captured them in a life-or-death scenario, and the tribe’s chief is determined that one of them must be sacrificed. When a young warrior named Tyym vows to see them home, they face decisions that will not only affect their survival, but the spiritual salvation of their world.

While Reiv, Dayn, and Tyym navigate a web of conspiracy and doubt, Dayn’s sister Alicine struggles with loss and the impending threat of invasion. The king of Tearia has not abandoned his quest to slay them, and his seemingly unstoppable army is nearly through the pass. But when Tyym enters the scene, hope is rekindled. Even Alicine cannot deny the charisma of the mysterious warrior who has wormed his way into their lives, and into her heart.

The game is in play. A traitor is in their midst. Can the souls of Aredyrah hope to defeat a monster disguised as a king? Or will they succumb to a darkness beyond their understanding?

Buy Book #4: The Shifting of the Stars
Amazon  |  Smashwords  |  BN  |  Kobo



Tracy A. Akers is a former language arts teacher and an award-winning author. She grew up in Arlington, Texas, but currently lives in Florida with her husband, three naughty pugs, and a feisty chihuahua. She graduated with honors from the University of South Florida with a degree in Education, and has taught in both public and private schools. She currently divides her time between writing, lecturing, spending time with her family, and costuming at fantasy and science fiction conventions.

Ms. Akers has won numerous awards for her Souls of Aredyrah fantasy series for young adults. As a Florida Book Awards winner, she was acknowledged for her contribution to YA literature by the Governor of Florida during the 2008 Florida Heritage Month Awards Ceremony. Books One and Two of the Aredyrah Series are included in the Florida Department of Education’s 2008 Just Read Families Recommended Summer Reading List. In addition, Ms. Akers has been an invited guest author at major book events and writers’ conferences, a panelist at fantasy and science fiction conventions, and was on the steering committee for Celebration of the Story, a literary event held at Saint Leo University.

The Souls of Aredyrah Series is Ms. Akers’ first series of novels for young adults.

Website  |  Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Goodreads

Tour Schedule



 GIVEAWAY

$10 Amazon.com or BN.com Gift Card or Paypal Cash, Ebook/paperback giveaway Ends 05/05/2014. Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com or BN.com Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kisha from Indie Hoopla Services & Promotions, http://indiehoopla.com and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

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46. Rusalka

 
 A quick color study from last week.

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47. AND SPRING IS…..

Wanting to wish EVERYONE a very happy Spring/Easter week and weekend! Do believe it Spring is finally here…. in most places anyway.  (sorry Cleveland!)  Even The Cat has his ears on for the occasion!

easter blast


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48. The Pulitzers and Graywolf Press Rocks!

Oh Pulitzer Prize! Such an interesting mix of winners, but isn’t that mostly the case? How did I miss knowing bout the Margaret Fuller biography that won? And am I happy that Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch won? (or, as the Pulitzer Committee originally tweeted it The Goldfish) I have not read Tartt’s book, had decided not to actually because every time I would read a review of it I found myself changing my mind. First it was, oh it sounds good! Then it was, oh sounds like I won’t like it. And back and forth I went until I just decided that I won’t worry about reading it at all and find something else to read instead. But now it has won a Pulitizer and one moment I thought, well I guess I will read it after all and a little after that while reading commentary on the fiction selections in general I decided I wouldn’t read it. Why do I torture myself so? Do other people do this to themselves? Please tell me I am not alone in my craziness.

What I am really excited about is that the poetry winner was published by Graywolf Press. Graywolf is an indie publisher in Minneapolis. They published Tracy K. Smith’s Pulitzer Prize winning poetry collection Life on Mars. I’ve always been proud that they are in Minneapolis and impressed by the quality of the books they publish, but now I am simply over the moon.

I have not read the winning book or poet. The book is 3 Sections by Vijay Seshadri. You can read three of the poems from the book at the link and two more previously published poems at Poets.org. I like them enough that I want to read more.

Have you read any of the prize winners and if so, what did you think? Deserved? Or would you have preferred a different choice?


Filed under: Books

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49. Writer Wednesday: Beware the Repetition


If you read my Monday Mishmash, then you know I've been busy with my own revisions and editing for clients. Something that came up in both is repetition. Sometimes you want repetition for emphasis or to offer a new insight, like when your MC makes a big revelation. But in most cases, repetition needs to be cut. Here's why.

Repetition just tells the reader what they already know. You're almost insulting the reader's intelligence by assuming they can't remember certain details. Consider if the reminder is necessary or if that space on the page is better spent offering the reader something new. Most of the time, you should be offering new information that moves the story forward.

Repetition slows down the pace of your story. If you want tension to be high, don't backtrack by reminding us of details you've already mentioned. I know it's tough sometimes to hit that delete key because you spent countless hours pouring over those words and they're brilliant. The problem is, those words were brilliant when you said them the first time. After that...you see where I'm going with this.

Most repetition comes from drafting or revising in stages. How many times have you gotten a great idea for something to add during revisions only to find you said the exact same thing (or just about) a few paragraphs later? I do this all the time, and I have to then edit one of those out. My tip is to try to revise in the least sittings possible because that will allow you to catch more instances of repetition.

I challenge you to find repetition in your own work and see if it's really needed.

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50. Author Visits

Mom has two author visits coming up. One this week and one next week. Both are call-backs, so she kind of knows what to expect. One thing she expects is fun! Rejection is the downside of writing. School visits are the upside AND her most favorite thing about being an author. Bar none.

school visit

Fifth graders and college students make for very different visits, which means Mom will pack up her school visit stuff  TWICE. I love when Mom packs up her bag.

bookbag2

Sometimes there are candies in there. Or gum. Or tissues.  And sometimes stuffed toys, depending on where she’s visiting. I ALWAYS check the bag out, just in case.

bookbag

Once I found (and ran with) a smaller bag from inside the bigger bag. It had a fork, a beanie baby, a paintbrush, and a baseball inside. Mom said, “I need them for a game.” and “You wouldn’t understand.” and “Eeeewww. They’re slimy with dog spit!”

gamebag2

Although I love the bag, I hate the leaving. Why does every upside need a downside? When Mom says, “I have to go,” I hear the word GO and head for the door.

Ready!

Ready!

She says, “Not this time.” and “I’ll be back in a little while.” and “Do you want a treat?” which is EXACTLY what I want. And that’s how the downside becomes the upside again.

milkbone toothbrush

 


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