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42176. Tonko House to Turn ‘The Dam Keeper’ into a Feature Film

The Oscar-nominated short is also getting a graphic novel series.

0 Comments on Tonko House to Turn ‘The Dam Keeper’ into a Feature Film as of 3/18/2015 3:58:00 PM
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42177. An interview with Roger McGough and Michael Rosen

YOU_TELL_MEI’m more than thrilled to bring you a very special interview today with both “the patron saint of poetry” (according to the current Poet Laureate) and a former Children’s Laureate in conversation. Yes, none other than Roger McGough and Michael Rosen have stopped by my blog today in celebration of a new edition of their classic collection of poetry, You Tell Me, re-issued earlier this year with the addition of some new poems and fabulous and sometimes anarchic illustrations by Korky Paul.

A hugely wide-ranging anthology, with poems about broccoli and bad habits, football and first days at school, toothpaste and tongue twisters, there’s something for everyone in You Tell Me. There are poems to make you laugh out loud, poems to make you think twice and poems which easily turn into earworms. Each poem can be enjoyed as a stand-alone experience, but this anthology really struck me for the way the poems are ordered, with poems by the two different authors placed following or facing each other in such a way as to help me (and no doubt many other readers) make new connections and see different things in each of the individual poems.

Here’s how my conversation with Roger and Michael unfolded:

Roger McGough (L) and Michael Rosen (R)

Roger McGough (L) and Michael Rosen (R)

Playing by the book: Astonishingly it’s 35 years since You Tell Me was first published. How do you see the children’s poetry landscape (in the UK) having changed in the intervening years?

Roger McGough: When I look back I can see that You Tell Me came out at time when attitudes to poets and poetry were changing. Before the 80s few poets went into schools, but within a decade, as more poets visited schools (funded initially through the Poetry Society), publishers committed themselves to publishing single poet collections as well as anthologies, and this commitment snowballed into success, both commercially as well as educationally. Sadly, things have gone down hill since and publishers, in hard times, are reluctant to publish new work. Last year I was the Chair of the judging panel of the CLPE Poetry Award. The judges were really concerned about how few books were submitted and noted that many of the publishers previously associated with poetry – Puffin, Faber and OUP – had nothing to submit. Meanwhile Macmillan and Janetta Otter-Barry at Frances Lincoln Children’s Books do a good job. I gather that Puffin are back on board and look forward to judging the CLPE Poetry Award this year.

Michael Rosen: I think young poets are finding it pretty hard to get published at the moment. However, one aspect of the national curriculum is that it asks teachers to factor in poetry so I find that teachers are once again on the hunt for a wide range of poetry. I fully understand that publishers find it hard to keep up with the whims of central government in these matters but perhaps now is a good time to pull together some good collections of new poets – especially if those poets are the ones who are doing a lot of school visits.

Playing by the book: How do you see your own poetry having changed over the course of the past 35 years?

Roger McGough: I hope it gets better with the more I read – but I never know! I have the same views on life and interest in language.

Michael Rosen: Difficult to say. I keep trying to experiment, trying new rhythms, new themes. Sometimes I read back to myself, things I’ve written over the last few years, and I can see how similar they are to things I was writing 30 years ago, and others, I’m almost surprised I wrote them!

Playing by the book: When You Tell Me was first published how were the poems selected? Did you personally choose them? Did you consult each other? Or was there someone else facilitating? And how has this worked for the new edition which contains several new poems?

Roger McGough: It seems odd now but when the first book was published Michael and I didn’t meet to discuss which poems should be included. Some of mine had been published in books of poetry for adults so, on the whole, Michael’s poems appealed to younger children. The editor at Puffin did a good job making the selection. It’s been a different experience with the new edition. Michael, Janetta Otter-Barry and I have met together to discuss the poems in depth. I was worried about ‘The Lesson‘ – that people may not understand the irony and my references to guns and violence – but Michael and Janetta both felt the poem should go in. We’ve included some new poems too. I enjoyed the experience of discussing the book and I think it’s better for it.

Michael Rosen: Yes, I agree with Roger here.

Playing by the book: Now bear with me on this – I’m deliberately being a little provocative here.. part of me wants to ‘ban’ printed poetry books… at least as the way people, especially children are introduced to poetry. Why? In my experience, especially with children, poetry most truly comes to life when it is spoken and heard… and so I think audio books or podcasts (or especially real live people) should be the door to open poetry books. What do _you_ think?

Roger McGough: I understand what you saying but the reality is that audio books follow the published book. That’s the economics of it.

Michael Rosen: I don’t think we need to get either-or-ish about this. Child and adult readers vary a great deal. This means that some children ‘get’ poetry straight off the page, some don’t. Some like it performed and won’t ever come to look at the page version. Some like to relate the performed version to the printed version…and so on. So I think it’s the job of poets and those who teach poetry to remain open and flexible about all this. Part of this should be to give children plenty of opportunity to perform poems without necessary worrying about learning them off by heart. Meanwhile, children should have the experience of playing with words on the page…seeing what happens when you swap letters, words and phrases around, in ways that are quite difficult to do orally.

Playing by the book: I guess I’m getting at the idea that poetry – when it is heard – is full of rhythm and sounds and emotions that can be harder for younger children to internally hear when presented with black and white text on the page. How can we help children develop that (internal) ear for rhythm and the sounds of language, that will help them hear the poetry even when they are reading from the page?

Roger McGough: It’s good for children, and adults, to hear poetry. To hear it read at home and at school. It’s also good for them to see what it looks like on the written page and see the shape of the words. The more children have access to poetry – the more they will enjoy it.

Michael Rosen: I agree that hearing poets and teachers (and parents and carers) read poetry enables children to make it work for them on the page. Yes, it supports their private reading.

Playing by the book: So what top tips do you have for helping families fall in love with poetry? (There are quite a few resources aimed at bringing poetry to life in school, but what about in the home?)

Roger McGough: Don’t be afraid of poetry. Just have the books around. Ready to pick up and read.

Michael Rosen: I agree with Roger. Poetry works very well in an incidental way, supporting our lives – and that applies to both reading and writing it. If ever you’ve seen a parrot or a mynah bird listen, they put their heads on one side and sway to and fro. It’s as if they’ve been suddenly bewitched or tickled. Poetry works best if it causes that kind of effect.

Playing by the book: What’s the last poem you read?

Roger McGough:
Wayland by Tony Mitton, winner of the CLPE Poetry Award 2014 [illustrated by John Lawrence/zt], and (for adults) O Captain! My Captain! by Walt Whitman.

Michael Rosen: The last poems I heard are by James Berry, as read by James himself, Grace Nichols and John Agard. My wife, Emma-Louise Williams has made a BBC Radio 4 programme about James called ‘A Story I am In‘ (you can hear the programme on 22 March 4.30pm, BBC Radio 4 and on iPlayer thereafter)

The poems included:

‘On an afternoon train from Purley to Victoria, 1955′

‘In-a Brixtan Markit’

‘Mek Drum Talk’

‘New World Colonial Child’

(from The Story I am in published by Bloodaxe)

Playing by the book: What’s the last poem you wrote?

Roger McGough: It’s not yet published – I have rewritten an adult poem ‘Crocodile in the City’ for children, retitled ‘Crocodile Tears’.

Michael Rosen: ‘Caesar Curb Immigrants, Year Zero’ – in a forthcoming collection called ‘Don’t Mention the Children’ to be published by Smokestack Books.

Playing by the book: What would your 8 (or 3 or 5…) desert island poems be?

Roger McGough:
Jabberwocky by Lewis Carroll
Sea Fever by John Masefield
A Smuggler’s Song by Rudyard Kipling
Who Killed Cock Robin? (Anon). This is the first poem that made me cry as a young child.
I am the Song by Charles Causley
Night Mail by W H Auden
La Belle Dame Sans Merci by John Keats

Michael Rosen:
Dulce et Decorum Est by Wilfred Owen
First they came for the Communists by Pastor Martin Niemöller
The Windhover by Gerard Manley Hopkins
Poem known as My Last Duchess by Robert Browning
Le Corbeau et le Renard by La Fontaine
It’s raining, it’s pouring, the old man’s snoring (Anon)
‘Larger than life’ by Harold Rosen, my father, about my late son Eddie.

Playing by the book: Thank you, thank you Roger and Michael. Poetry by each of you made a huge impression on me as a child 30 odd years ago and so to be here today able to ask you questions and share your poetry – it’s a magical thing and much treasured experience.

A newspaper clipping from the first time I saw Michael Rosen live

A newspaper clipping from the first time I saw Michael Rosen live

4 Comments on An interview with Roger McGough and Michael Rosen, last added: 3/19/2015
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42178. nom-o-tron, mk II

Look, we have a shiny new Nom-O-Tron to take to Ireland this weekend for our Cakes in Space event! My co-author Philip Reeve built it, using the blindingly amazing power of SCIENCE.

See you soon, Mountains to Sea festival! Here's the previous Nom-O-Tron, which was state-of-the-art when it came out. But it had synthesised so much space food that it was falling into disrepair and its software needed upgrading. (These scientific machines go obsolete so quickly! The bane of our existence.)

Photo by Steve Babb at the Manx Lit Fest

And I've been busy packing. It always takes me ages, I don't know why.

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42179. Rickey Purdin joins Marvel as Talent Manager

Another East Coast resident is staying on and has a job as former DC associate editor Rickey Purdin has just been announced as Marvel’s newest Talent Manager:

As Talent Manager, Purdin will continue to escalate and bring awareness to the Marvel Comics brand by seeking out and cultivating the next generation of comic book writers and artists as well as working with Marvel’s current pantheon of extraordinary creators. “I can’t express how thrilling it is to join Marvel after so many years of reading these comics and being shaped by the characters, stories, and creative teams,” says Purdin. “Aiding Marvel’s extremely talented editorial team is a dream-come-true and incredible developments are already in the works.”

C.B. Cebulski, Marvel’s VP of International Development endorses Purdin by stating, “Marvel has always made our talent our top priority and with Rickey’s hiring, we know our artists will continue to be in the most capable of hands. With his deep understanding of style and storytelling, and history of identifying up-and-coming artists, Rickey’s role will ensure that everyone from this industry’s youngest guns to the most seasoned of veterans will continue creating the best comics possible for Marvel!”

Prior to joining Marvel, Rickey was able to work with exceptionally gifted creators and also provided a keen editorial eye across various Superman and Batman titles.

Rickey Purdin is another outstanding talent continuing to expand his visionary work with Marvel, the House of Ideas.

Purdin is also another member of the Legion of Ex-Wizard employees, a large and varied group that has done much to change the face of comics.

0 Comments on Rickey Purdin joins Marvel as Talent Manager as of 3/18/2015 11:38:00 PM
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42180. Review: Giant Days “Boy Drama Will Be On The Test”

Giant Days #1



Story: John Allison

Art: Lissa Treiman

Colors: Whitney Cogar

Letters: Jim Campbell

Publisher: Boom! Box




1. Unless you religiously follow web comics, you’ve probably never heard of John Allison.
a. True, but you should be reading Bad Machinery. 
b. False

2. Giant Days is a book about____
a. Three girls beginning their first year of university in England.
b. The angst that comes along with wanting to reinvent yourself in a new place.
c. A bet settled by a cafeteria blunder.
d. All of the above.

3. Susan Ptolemy’s problems begin____
a. At the beginning of page one.
b. When a mysterious boy from her past named McGraw transfers to her school.
c. She catches her friend in a compromising moment.
d. She doesn’t have any problems (No that would be an awful story).

4. Esther De Groot is_____
a. The trio’s drama magnet.
b. A raven haired goth with horrible luck when it comes to boys.
c. A former member of a Black Metal Society with a weird mystical tattoo.
d. All of the above.

5. Daisy Wooton is______
a. Home schooled and naive.
b. Not a pervert, just enjoys watching napkin folding videos.
c. Both A&C
d. None of the above.

6. Lissa Treiman’s art in the book is______
a. Quirky, a mix of newspaper comic strip with the emotional grandiose of Scott Pilgrim.
b. Dark
c. Stick figures
d. Gory




7. What’s happening in the page above
a. An example of Whitney Cogar’s subtle yet distinct color work with the characters.
b. A funny visual gag you’ll see throughout the story.
c. Susan asserting herself as the group’s leader.
d. All of the above.

8. Does Giant Days have any flaws?
a. Yes, it’s too perfect.
b. No.
c. Yes, for a book set against the background of higher education they never entered a classroom.
d. Yes, a slice of life story needs a little more emotional stakes.

9. Should you buy Giant Days?
a. No, you should only read books with capes and tights where nothing relevant happens.
b. Yes, because you’re a well rounded person who can appreciate comical stories with down to earth characters.

10. Extra credit essay:
Giant Days is a book with the feminine voice of HBO’s GIRLS and the charm of the Sunday comics in the newspaper. John Allison crafts characters with genuine yearnings who blend together nicely. Lissa Treiman’s art is the best compliment a cleaver and whimsical story like this could get. Though first issue felt like it needed a bit more build in the tension, the series is worth getting on board for. I can’t wait to see these chicks get into more problems.


Score: 98% 

You’ll need to repeat the course – @bouncingsoul217

2 Comments on Review: Giant Days “Boy Drama Will Be On The Test”, last added: 3/21/2015
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42181. THE CASE FOR LOVING by Selina Alko and Sean Qualls, but, what to do with what Jeter said about her identity?

New this year (2015) is The Case for Loving: The Fight for Interracial Marriage by Selina Alko. Illustrations are by Alko and her husband, Sean Qualls.

The author's note tells us that Alko is a "white Jewish woman from Canada" and that Qualls is an "African-American man from New Jersey."

The story of Mildred Jeter and Richard Loving resonated with Alko and Qualls. Their case went before the United States Supreme Court in 1967. Here's the synopsis posted at Scholastic's website:

For most children these days it would come as a great shock to know that before 1967, they could not marry a person of a race different from their own. That was the year that the Supreme Court issued its decision in Loving v. Virginia.
This is the story of one brave family: Mildred Loving, Richard Perry Loving, and their three children. It is the story of how Mildred and Richard fell in love, and got married in Washington, D.C. But when they moved back to their hometown in Virginia, they were arrested (in dramatic fashion) for violating that state's laws against interracial marriage. The Lovings refused to allow their children to get the message that their parents' love was wrong and so they fought the unfair law, taking their case all the way to the Supreme Court — and won!
The Loving case is of interest to me, too. We all ought to embrace its outcome. As the synopsis indicates, the story is about the love Jeter and Loving had for each other, and how, using the court system, laws against their desire to be married were struck down. We need to know that history. It is important. In her review in the New York Times, Katheryn Russell-Brown noted its strengths. She also said something I agree with:
Alko’s calm, fluid writing complements the simplicity of the Lovings’ wish — to be allowed to marry. Some of the wording, though, strikes a sour note. “Richard Loving was a good, caring man; he didn’t see differences,” she writes, suggesting, implausibly, that he did not notice Mildred’s race. After Mildred is identified as part black, part Cherokee, we are told that her race was less evident than her small size — that town folks mostly saw “how thin she was.” This language of colorblindness is at odds with a story about race. In fact, this story presents a wonderful chance to address the fact that noticing race is normal. It is treating people better or worse on the basis of that observation that is a problem.

As Russell-Brown noted, the "language of colorblindedness" doesn't work.  As a grad student in the 90s, I read research that found that the colorblind approach sent the opposite message to young children.

The Case for Loving also provides us with an opportunity to look at identity and claims to Native identity.

When I first learned that Alko and Qualls presented Mildred Jeter as part Cherokee (as shown in the image to the right), I started doing some research on her and the case. In some places I saw her described as Cherokee. In a few others, I saw her described as Cherokee and Rappahannock. That made me more intrigued! In the midst of that research, I also re-read Cynthia Leitich Smith's Rain Is Not My Indian Name and really appreciate--and recommend it--for lots of reasons, including how Smith wrote about Black Indians.

I continued my research on Jeter and found a particularly comprehensive source: That the Blood Stay Pure: African Americans, Native Americans, and the Predicament of Race and Identity in Virginia by Arica L. Coleman. It was published in 2013. Coleman's book has a chapter about Jeter.

Drawing from magazines, newspapers and court documents of that time and more recently, too, Coleman describes the twists and turns that impacted Mildred Jeter's identity. Most crucial to her chapter is information Jeter gave to her.

Jeter did not identify herself as Black. In an interview on July 14, 2004, she told Coleman (p. 153):
"I am not Black. I have no Black ancestry. I am Indian-Rappahannock." 

In The Case of Loving, we read about Mr. and Mrs. Loving going to Washington DC to get married, returning home to Virginia with their marriage license, and, being awoken late one night by the police who asked Richard what he was doing in bed with Jeter.

He pointed to their marriage certificate hanging on the wall.

The marriage certificate--an image of which is in Coleman's book--shows us columns for the male and female applying for the license. Here's the information in the female column:

Name: Mildred Delores Jeter
Color: Indian

She identified as Indian. In Central Point (that's the town they lived in), Coleman writes, there was a (page 161-162):
"racial hierarchy that granted social privileges to Whites, an honorary White privilege to Indians (i.e. access to White hospitals and the White only section of rail and street cars), and no social privilege to Blacks."
Isn't that fascinating? There's more. In 1870, Mildred's parents were listed on census records as mulatto. By 1930, they were identified as Negro. She was born in 1939. But, Coleman writes (p. 164):
The Jeter surname is also listed in the Rappahannock Tribe’s corporate charter (1974) as a tribal affiliate. Many claim, however, that the Jeters are descended from the Cherokee who allegedly began to intermarry with the Rappahannock during the late eighteenth century. According to one anonymous informant, “The situation regarding Indian identity in Caroline County is very complex. There was a time when many in the Rappahannock community believed that they were Cherokee because that was all they knew.” Neither Mildred nor her brother, Lewis Jeter, supported the claim that their father was Cherokee.
A 1997 article in the Free Lance-Star reports that she said she was Indian, with Portuguese and Black ancestry. In 2004 Coleman asked her about the Black ancestry, prefacing her question with a reference to the Rappahannock's historic association with Blacks, Jeter told Coleman that the Rappahannock's never had anything to do with Blacks.

That denial of Black ancestry is striking, particularly since the Supreme Court case was based on her being Black. If I understand Coleman's research, Jeter thought of herself as Indian when she married Loving. When their case went before the Supreme Court, she was regarded as Black. In the last years of her life, she said she was Indian. What was going on?

Her ACLU lawyers, Bernard Cohen and Philip Hirschkop, and Virginia's Assistant Attorney General, Robert McIlwaine--needed her to be Black. Her Indian identity had the potential to derail the arguments they were putting forth.

See, there was an act in Virginia called the "Racial Integrity Act" that was intended to preserve the purity of the White race. In early drafts of that act, white meant a person having only Caucasian blood. But that definition was replaced by the "Pocahontas Exception." The Racial Integrity Act was passed in 1924.

When I read "Pocahontas Exception" --- well, I think it fair to say that my eyebrows shot up and that I leaned towards the screen (reading an e-copy of the book)! What is THAT?!

The Pocahontas Exception allowed Whites to claim to be white, as long as they had no more than 1/16 of the blood of an American Indian.

Chief Justice Earl Warren was presiding over the Loving case. Presumably, he knew about her Indian identity and therefore asked about the Pocahontas Exception. I hope I am correct in my reading of Coleman's research when I say that Warren let it go when he heard McIlwaine's reply to his questions. The law, McIlwaine argued, did not apply to this case because Virginia had two populations of significance to its legislature: a bit over 79% were white and a bit over 20% were colored; therefore, the number of Native people (at less than 1%) was insignificant. Moreover (p. 170):
It is a matter of record, agreed to by all counsel during the course of this litigation and in the brief that one of the appellants here is a white person within the definition of the Virginia law, the other appellant is a colored person within the definition of Virginia law. 
Significant/insignificant are my word choices. McIlwaine didn't use them and neither did Coleman. They are words that resonate with Native people because research studies on race typically have an asterisk rather than data for us, because relative to other demographics, we are deemed too small to count. Indeed, a group of Native scholars have written a book about some of this, titled Beyond the Asterisk: Understanding Native Students in Higher Education. 

With intricate detail, Coleman documents how the news media was hit-or-miss in terms of what reporters said about Jeter's race. One day it was "negro" and the next--in the same paper--it was "half negro, half Indian" and then later on, it was back to "negro." In the final analysis, Coleman writes, writers generally describe her as an "ordinary Black woman" (p. 173):

In The Case for Loving, Alko uses "part African-American, part Cherokee" but I suspect Jeter's family would object to what Alko said. As the 2004 interview indicates, Mildred Jeter Loving considered herself to be Rappahannock. Her family identifies as Rappahannock and denies any Black heritage. This, Coleman writes, may be due to politics within the Rappahannock tribe. A1995 amendment to its articles of incorporation states that stated (p. 166):
“Applicants possessing any Negro blood will not be admitted to membership. Any member marrying into the Negro race will automatically be admonished from membership in the Tribe.”
I'm not impugning Jeter or her family. It seems to me Mildred Jeter Loving was caught in some of the ugliest racial politics in the country. As I read Coleman's chapter and turn to the rest of her book, I am unsettled by that racial politics. In the final pages of the chapter, Coleman writes (p. 175):
Of course, Mildred had a right to self-identify as she wished and to have that right respected by others. Nevertheless, viewed within the historical context of Virginia in general and Central Point in particular, ironically, “the couple that rocked courts” may have inadvertently had more in common with their opponents than they realized. Mildred’s Indian identity as inscribed on her marriage certificate and her marriage to Richard, a White man, appears to have been more of an endorsement of the tenets of racial purity rather than a validation of White/ Black intermarriage as many have supposed.

Turning back to The Case for Loving, I pick it up and read it again, mentally replacing Cherokee with Rappahannock and holding all this racial politics in my head. It makes a difference.

At this moment, I don't know what it means for this picture book. One could argue that it provides children with an important story about history, but I can also imagine children looking back on it as they grow up and thinking that they were misinformed--not deliberately--but by those twists and turns in racial politics in the United States of America.

Updates to add relevant items shared by others:

Kara Stewart pointed me to a news story from a Virginia TV station:
Doctor's quest to engineer a 'master race' in the early 1900s still hurting Virginia Indian tribes 

Kara's comment prompted me to search for information on the Racial Integrity Act. I found that the Library of Virginia has a page about it.

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42182. Halloween Makes His Escape

"Halloween Makes His Escape" is the title of this new watercolor.
Halloween is never far from my mind and if you visit my site johnrandallyorkart.com
you'll see a lot of it.
My Halloween illustrations are inspired by childhood and the innocent belief in fairies and monsters.
"Halloween Makes His Escape" is for sale on ETSY, it's 8 1/2 x 11 inches, transparent watercolor on watercolor paper.
I hope you enjoy it!

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42183. New Voices: Opening the Book With Bryan Bliss!

No Parking at the End TimesAuthor of No Parking at the End Times Bryan Bliss popped by The Pageturn to share some behind the book thoughts with us! You can find a sneak peek of the book right here.

Which was your favorite book from childhood, and what are you reading right now?

The first book I remember finding, checking out, and really loving was The Indian in the Cupboard. I was staying with family in a weird town in West Virginia and there wasn’t much to do while my dad was working. So, the library, right? I can still remember finding the book – seeing the cover. I read it like ten times before I had to finally return it. I just finished reading the Isabel Quintero’s Gabi, A Girl in Pieces and, man. What a book. It’s funny and sad and spectacularly written. It really blew me away.

What is your secret talent?

Most people don’t realize it now, but I was quite the athlete in high school and college. I played a lot of basketball and can still make twenty, thirty, forty free throws in a row. I used to work with teenagers and, as a result, found myself playing one-on-one against them. Long story short, I’ve never lost to a teenager one-on-one. Is this a talent? When you’re almost 40, it definitely is. But I’m not sure it’s something I should be proud of…

Fill in the blank: _______ always makes me laugh.

Innapropriate humor at the wrong time. No question. If there is ever a moment when humor is inappropriate, I’m usually trying to keep myself from laughing. It’s a terrible character flaw, and most likely a sort of deflection. But there it is.

My current obsessions are…

The band TV on the Radio, the writer Graham Greene, and this weird children’s cartoon named Clarence.

Any gem of advice for aspiring writers?

Erase the voice of judgment! Be proud of your work and don’t let other people tell you that it doesn’t have value. While it might not be great when you start, if you keep writing you will get better. So, write and write and write.

Finish this sentence: I hope a person who reads my book…

…was looking for this exact story in their life.

How did you come to write this book? 

I wanted to write a story about a girl who loses faith in her parents, something that happens to everyone at some point. I thought it would be interesting to tackle that question alongside the question of religion and spirituality in the lives of teenagers, a topic that isn’t often covered in young adult literature. Losing and gaining faith – in anything – is such a dramatic, powerful experience and I wanted to document it as authentically as possible. At the end of the day, it’s more a story about family and friendship than faith. But like anything, those things are tied together more tightly than we sometimes think.

No Parking at the End Times is available right now!

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42184. Customized or commissioned art? What's the difference?

Dear Friends,

My specialty is personalizing or customizing my art to fit my customers needs but I often get requests for an original commissioned piece of art as well. So what's the difference between customizing and commissioning? Great question!

Most of my art is customizable! My customizations include changing the hair color, and some of the color of the clothing but only to the existing art. I don't usually change the drawing itself, only the colors if needed, unless I have had an email conversation and the customer and we agree on an extra fee. I can also add or change existing text if there is any, add a name or favorite verse or saying for no extra charge. For my typical customization just enter the specific customization instructions in the “Notes to seller” text box at checkout.

However, I do sometimes get a request for an original piece of art from scratch and that is what I call a "commissioned" piece. That can be anything from using an existing background of another already existing art print and adding all new characters(which was the case of the piece I just finished below for a client) or even just adding a different dog/animal or another child to a print. In those cases there is an email discussion and an agreed fee amount and then I create a custom listing for that customer. Those can range from $50-$400 depending on the difficulty of the art.

No matter which way I create, I am so honored and blessed to be able to do what I love so thank you all for that!!

As my business grows it will most likely morph and change and I so appreciate you all being along for this adventure and journey along the way.

As always, thank you for being a part of our wonderful community. We are so grateful for each and every one of you!



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

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

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42185. Welcome the Excellent Stuart Immonen to Star Wars #8


Illustrator John Cassaday recently announced his departure from the Star Wars comic book with author Jason Aaron. Issue #6 is his last, as announced on Sunday from his Facebook page.

“While wrapping up my final issue (#6) and the first arc of STAR WARS,” said Cassaday.

The All-New Captain America artist Stuart Immonen is jumping on board with Aaron. Immonen is set to draw the upcoming issue #8, and provided a cover that has yet to be colored with Luke Skywalker – it should be no surprise that it looks nothing short of excellent. He’s a great choice for the series, able to provide lots of different characters and faces with dynamic action and linework as proved with his tenure on All-New X-Men.

Author Jason Aaron advised fans not to worry about his involvement with the title clarifying that he’s going to be on the comic for sometime.

Just for the record, I am on STAR WARS for the long haul. There are so many stories I want to tell with these characters.

CBR broke the news, and also teased that a special artist is jumping on #7. Any guesses? I’m hoping for Arthur Adams, but after delivering interior art for Guardians Team-Up #1 it seems unlikely.

3 Comments on Welcome the Excellent Stuart Immonen to Star Wars #8, last added: 3/18/2015
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42186. Strip 3.05

Click strip to enlarge.

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42187. George R.R. Martin to Skip Comic Con & Finish Book

Author George R.R. Martin won’t be making it to the World Fantasy Convention or Comic Con in San Diego this year.

Instead, he’s going to stay home and get his book done. In a blog post he explained: “I have too much to do. Too many things on my plate. Son of Kong foremost amongst them.”

However, if he completes Winds of Winter before the events, “I reserve the right to change my mind,” he blogged. (Via The Hollywood Reporter).

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42188. ‘My Dear Gnome’ by Emmanuelle & Julien

A lawn deer and a garden gnome play a game of checkers.

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42189. Good Samaritan Dresses Up as Spider-Man

Birmingham Spiderman PhotoHave you ever wanted to meet your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man in real life?

This anonymous Good Samaritan (of the United Kingdom) has been devoting his free time to feeding homeless people while dressed up in a Spider-Man costume. BBC News reports that the Birmingham Spider-Man performs his good deeds on a weekly basis. Click here to watch a video of him in action.

The 20-year-old bartender spoke with The Huffington Post and explained why he dresses up as the Marvel webslinger: “Before when I was handing out food, no one would take a second look. But when they see Spider-Man handing out the food they come over and ask what I’m doing and are really interested. Most importantly [they] become inspired to get involved themselves. (via boredpanda.com)

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42190. 50 States Against Bullying: WEST VIRGINIA

The forty-seventh stop on my 50 States Against Bullying campaign brought me back to West Virginia. I say "back" because I was here not too long ago, but the school had a Snow Day. Amd so...I'm back!

I had so much on my mind when I arrived the night before my school visit, so I needed to numb my brain before heading to my hotel. And since it was St. Patrick's Day, of course, I went to see a movie! (Oh, that's not how you thought I was going to numb my brain? Then you don't know me very well! It's movies, baby.)

I saw Cinderella, which was really good. Very cool visuals. Great acting. And to prove I was there, I took a pic of the screen. (But I did it at the very end, just in case they kicked me out for doing that.)

The next day, I spoke to students in the Capital High School auditorium. A student named Jillian tweeted the following pic of me on stage.

I know you're here to see the students and not me, but I had to share that speaking pic because it's one of the only ones where I'm not making a funny face. So I'm proud of myself for that! (Be proud of yourself however you can, apparently.)

The Capital High students were joined by students from Horace Mann Middle School and Sissonville High School.

After my presentation, I joined some students from all the schools in a meeting organized by the Gay Straight Alliance. They discussed many issues, including the upcoming Day of Silence, an event I first learned of today, but which sounds symbolically powerful. The back of the GSA shirts read:

As the GSA adviser said during her talk, "People that do nothing love to tell other people that what they're doing is stupid." The ensuing conversation confirms my belief that many adults would be served well by going to schools and listening to students discuss the importance of not just speaking up, but how to speak up. I know I learned a lot! While there may not be a perfect way to get a message across, if the message isn't being heard then we should consider why and push that message in a new way. The girl I met today who led the first Day of Silence here did it alone. What she wanted to accomplish, she felt, got lost. People may have listened to the silence, but they didn't hear the message. The next year, she tried a new way to organize the conversation, and hundreds joined her.

Teens inspire me so much!

We are all in this together.

Or, we can be.

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42191. Half a Man by Michael Morpurgo

Young Michael had been told by his mother over and over again not to stare at his grandfather whenever he visited his family in London.  But Michael couldn't help it, slyly looking at a grandfather he really doesn't know very well and wondering how his face had gotten so disfigured, how he had lost part of the fingers on one hand and all of them on the other.  His mother doesn't talk about it and his grandfather doesn't talk about much of anything, let alone what happened to him.

Michael's grandfather lives a relatively isolated life on one of the Isles of Scilly, off the Cornish coast, making a living crabbing and lobstering.  When Michael is about 12, he is sent to spend the summer with his grandpa, helping with the fishing, reading, and living a quiet life side by side without electricity, using only a generator that was shut off at night.  But Michael liked it there, it was calming and comforting.

One day, while out in the fishing boat, grandpa suddenly told Michael that the thing he liked about him was that he wasn't afraid to look at his face.  Before long, grandpa is telling Michael about his life and how things came to be as they are.

After marrying his youthful sweetheart, Annie, war broke out and grandpa joined the merchant navy.  One day while crossing the Atlantic in a convoy, his ship was torpedoed several times.  With their ship on fire and sinking, grandpa's friend Jim managed to get both of them off it and into the burning water.  They swam to a lifeboat, and even though there was no room for either of them, grandpa was pulled into it, and Jim stayed in the water, hanging on for as long as he could.

Grandpa woke up in the hospital, with a long recovery ahead of him.  Annie came to visit but grandpa could tell things were different.  When he finally returned to Scilly, they did have a baby girl, but things didn't improve.  Grandpa started drinking, living with so much hate and anger because of the war.  Eventually, Annie left, taking their daughter and never speaking to him again.  Father and daughter were estranged until she was grown and sought him out.  Their relationship was tentative at best, in part because he had always felt like half a man because people only half looked at him, and his own daughter always avoided looking at him.  It was only Michael who wasn't afraid to see his grandpa for who he was, scars and all.

This short story is told in retrospect by a now grown-up Michael.  It feels almost like a chapter book, in part because it is only 64 pages, in part because there are so many illustrations, and in part because it is told so simply, but it is a deceptively complicated story and not for such young readers.  It is really more for middle grade readers.

The ink and screen print illustrations are done in a palette of grays, oranges, blues and yellows, and are as spare as the story is intense.  Most are done from a distance to the subject, and those that are close up show no distinct features.  And distance seems to be an underlying theme of the story.  The story is told from the distance of time, about people who are just so distant from each other emotionally and physically.

I know Michael Morpurgo is a master at telling sad stories, but I found this to be a sadder story than usual, even though the end does bring closure, at the request of Michael's grandpa, bringing together his mother and grandmother, who have been estranged for years.  It really makes you sit back and think.  There was so much sadness because of what the war did to Michael's grandpa and the repercussions that resulted leaving these relatives isolated, alienated, even angry with each other, when really it should have elicited kindness, compassion and love.

For that reason, this is a story that will also have resonance in today's world, where we see so many veteran's coming back from war injured, disfigured and with traumatic brain injury.  It begs the question: how will we treat these veterans, these men and women and their families.

This book is recommended for readers age 10+
This book was borrowed from the NYPL

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42192. YALSA President's Report - February 2015

February President’s Report
Just a quick update from a short month! The Board has been having quite a number of conversations related to strategic planning, and I invite you to the next town hall – May 14th at 8pm EST to be part of the discussions!

  • Hosted YALSA member town hall to discuss member implementation of the recommendations from the Futures report.
  • Led a Board Planning Session which focused on outcomes training and ways to incorporate outcomes into YALSA’s strategic planning process.
  • Prepared board standing committees for revised quarterly chair report review process
  • Appointed members to fill vacancies on various committees.
  • Facilitated online discussion and voting for student engagement taskforce, programming guidelines, and the president’s program.
  • Spoke with Santa Rose Press about teens and library usage


  • Elections begin March 24 and run through May 1.
  • Congratulations to the winners of YALSA’s writing awards: Shari Lee, Sarah Ludwig, Jaina Shaw, and Anna Tschetter.
  • See you in San Francisco, Lisa Castellano, Lauren Lancaster, and Alicia Tate, the winners of YALSA’s Conference Travel Grants.
  • Happy collection development to Kay Hones, Christy James, and Joan Yarsa, whose libraries are receipts of materials from YALSA’s Great Books Giveaway
  • Special shout out to Sarah Hashimoto and Robin Fogle Kurz, the winners of YALSA’s Volunteer of the Year award.
  • Peggy Hendershot brought diversity to the forefront of her teen discussions and won the MAE award for best literature program
  • Smooth ordering to Brandt Ensor, Jean Forness, Graig Henshaw, Carolann MacMaster, Emma McCandless, Brooke Nelson, Emily Otis, and LaRaie Zimm, the winners of the MAE collection development grants.


  • Membership - 5,168 members in Jan, up 1% over this time last year
  • Donations - $2,029.21

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42193. Publishing Jobs: ABRAMS, Cleis Press

This week, ABRAMS is hiring a sales assistant, and Cleis Press needs a marketing associate. Trident Media Group is seeking a literary assistant, and Oxford University Press needs a digital strategist. Get the scoop on these openings and more below, and find additional just-posted gigs on Mediabistro.

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.

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42194. Which book have you read the most times?

We all have a book we return to again and again.

Some people re-read A Christmas Carol every December, some have tattered, falling-apart copies of Harry Potter.

I've read Moby-Dick, The Great Gatsby, Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy and The Elfstones of Shannara three times each, but nothing compares to the countless number of times I read Rifles for Watie growing up, which I found endlessly fascinating as a pre-teen.

What about you?

Art: The Story Book by William-Adolphe Bouguereau

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42195. Take 60 Seconds to Help Teens & Libraries

Please email or phone your members of Congress and ask them to sign the "Dear Appropriator letter supporting library funding via these two programs: LSTA (Library Services Technology Act) and IAL (Innovative Approaches to Literacy)."  Then, ask all other library supporters you know to do the same by no later than March 20th.  Contact information for Congress members is here: http://cqrcengage.com/ala/home (just put in your zip code in the box on the lower right side).

To see whether your Members of Congress signed these letters last year, view the FY 2015 Funding Letter Signees document (pdf). If so, please be sure to thank and remind them of that when you email or call!  More information can be found on ALA's blog, District Dispatch.  For more information about LSTA, check out this document LSTA Background and Ask (pdf).  For more information on IAL, view School Libraries Brief (pdf)

Thank you for taking this step to ensure that our nation's teens continue to have access to library staff and services that will help them succeed in school and prepare for college and careers!

-Beth Yoke

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42196. How to Raise Kids Who Read

Want to raise a child who loves reading? Daniel Willingham, author of the book Raising Kids Who Read recommends making reading “the most appealing thing a child can do.”

In an interview with NPR, the author said that the reason to raise a reader shouldn’t be to increase school performance or to help them make more money later in life. The real reason should be to raise a person that appreciates books and the worlds you can learn from them. Here is an excerpt from the interview:

You should model reading, make reading pleasurable, read aloud to your kid in situations that are warm and create positive associations. But also setting a tone where our family is one where we like to learn new things. We like to learn about the world, and a big part of that is reading. Developing a sense in the child that I am in a family of readers before the child can even read.

Former GalleyCat Editor Jason Boog also has excellent tips for parents looking to raise bookworms. In his book Born Reading, Boog outlines step-by-step instructions and advice for cultivating reading in kids from birth.

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42197. Lenten Reading: After Acts: Exploring the Lives and Legends of the Apostles by Bryan Litfin

From Goodreads:
What happened to all those biblical figures once the Bible was finished?We've all heard it said: "According to early church tradition Peter was crucified upside down," or "Paul went to Spain." Did Thomas found the Indian church? Or did Mary live in Ephesus? Were the twelve disciples all eventually martyred?

Where do these ancient traditions come from, and how historically reliable are they? What is meant by the term "early church tradition?" After Actsopens up the world of the Bible-right after it was written. Follow along with New Testament scholar, Dr. Bryan Litfin as he explores the facts, myths, legends, archaeology, and questions of what happened in those most early days of Christianity.
As always, in non-fiction, including religious non-fiction, I look for an author who has done his research and cited his sources.  In this case, I have absolutely no complaints.  Every assumption made in the book is thoroughly sourced and readers are pointed towards these sources explicitly, including a short description of how to locate more difficult to find ancient sources.  I love a good footnote, too, and this one does not disappoint.  The information itself is fascinating, and the writing is superb.

Entertainment Value
Obviously, this is a case where an interest in the subject matter is going to be necessary in order to enjoy the book.  Personally, I found the book to be engrossing.  Because of my years (and years and years) of Christian education, sometimes I get a bit smug with my knowledge of the Bible.  I was pleased to find that there was so much more to be learned from other ancient sources about what happened in the lives of the Apostles after the Bible ends.  I also thoroughly enjoyed the background and historical information on the writers of the gospels and how they actually experienced Christ and came to write His story.

This is a crucial read for anyone with a knowledge of the Bible, but without a firm grasp on church history.  It provides information on a level accessible to the general reader, but backed with sources and citations for further study that would benefit a more academically inclined reader as well.  I learned so much, which is the highest praise I can give any book, and is especially meaningful when it involves my faith.

Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with a copy to review!

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42198. Henshin Review

Title: Henshin Genre: Surreal, Drama Publisher: Shogakukan (JP), Image Comics (US) Story/Artist: Ken Niimura Serialized in: Web Ikipara Comic Translation: Ivy Yukiko Ishihara Oldford Original Release Date: January 27, 2015 In the back of Henshin, it says the story has “a unique vision of Japanese life.” Scratch the unique part and put in weird because ... Read more

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42199. More Sketches...


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42200. Passersby

Some are strutting; others drag,
Promenade or amble,
Every one a puzzle
We’re unable to unscramble.

Some look cocky, others sad,
Lost in their reflections,
Heading off, in head and foot,
In varying directions.

Some are spiffy, others drab,
Yet a first impression
Isn’t quite enough to gauge
Contentment or depression.

In the city, passersby
Cross paths but what we see
Will not provide the clues to solve
Each private mystery.

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