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Here’s why that makes me very happy. You. Many of you, over the years, have become real true friends, and I can’t imagine the world without you. Thanks for your visits, your comments, your many contributions to the joy that fills my days. Thanks for clicking, when there is so very, very much out there to read.
Feels like we should celebrate! I was already feeling quite celebratory after a VERY GOOD PHONE CALL with my Knopf editor. The kind that moves a book forward and makes you feel a thousand pounds lighter. And a morning in the sun, wrestling bermuda grass into submission, and deciding where the sunflowers will go this year. And Scott made my favorite ginger salad dressing for dinner. A very good day.
Knowing you’re out there reading makes it even better. Thank you, friends, for stopping by. I had no idea how much fun I was letting myself in for when I hit send on that first post, eight years ago.
Illustrator, S. Rhodes
Bedbug & Mouse are thrilled to welcome our third illustrator to "Team Bedbug." As the series has grown, more and more talented individuals have come on-board.
Our third illustrator is a third-time Yobi finalist, whose work has appeared in West Coast publications and recently on Global TV.
Selena is an artist/illustrator/photographer and she is collaborating with us
Seventeen-year-old Meg Flannigan wasn’t very lucky at love. In sophomore year, her idiotic boyfriend dumped her by making out with another girl in front of her locker. Ouch! Now a senior, and with a little more self-confidence, Meg catches the eye of not one, but two guys at school. Lucky! Both attend her tennis matches, vie for her attention, and are each gorgeous in their own way. So what’s the problem? Meg has already chosen one of them, and the one waiting in the sidelines will do anything to change her mind. She’s enjoys the attention right up until it’s her heart that’s caught in the middle, and she risks losing both. Can Meg Love All, or will choosing be her undoing?
I wanted to share the playlist for this book, but I actually have a playlist for the novella series, so I'm only going to tell you the songs that apply to this book in particular. Here they are in no special order:
Be Your Everything by Boys Like Girls
Yours to Hold by Skillet
Lost in You by Three Days Grace
And to celebrate, I'm giving away some SWAG!
The giveaway will run until 11:59pm on February 1. It's open internationally, but I found out some countries won't permit coins to be shipped into them, so if you're international, the coins won't be included. Good luck! *For those who asked, pictures from the zombie prom will be posted on Friday!*
It becomes harder and harder everyday to distinguish between shows that are made for cable programming blocks like “Adult Swim” and animation produced for the Internet. The advent of Flash, combined with diminishing budgets, has been the industry’s great equalizer. What was formerly considered “amateur” animation on Newgrounds has now been elevated to mainstream status as it is commissioned by Google-funded YouTube channels like Machinima and mainstream networks like Fox, which is ramping up its Animation Domination High-Def programming.
Production values are no longer an imperative; the number of views is what matters. If more people watch a piece of animation produced for $5,000 than a piece of animation produced for $500,000, then there is no reason to spend the larger sum of money. It is this new and emerging paradigm that threatens the entire TV animation industry. Shows no longer need bloated crews of dozens when a couple of guys working from home and subsisting on Ramen and Doritos can attract a bigger following online.
This new approach to animation doesn’t break the rules because it knows no rules. It is created as everything else is on the Internet: fast, cheap, and without reverence for the past. It would be a pointless exercise to react to it or make any judgement about its quality. Let us simply acknowledge that the cartoons fulfill an economic need and satisfy an audience. They aren’t designed to stimulate the senses or challenge viewers, but only to sate the Internet’s insatiable appetite for fresh content. By that standard, they do their job well.
Myra McEntire knows the words to every R&B hit of the last decade, but since she lives in Nashville, the country music capital of America, her lyrical talents go sadly unappreciated. She’s chosen, instead, to channel her “mad word skills” into creating stories.
She’s an avid Doctor Who fan and will argue passionately about which incarnation is the best.
This is a letter of advice, from your Literary Mama.
Because you are stubborn, you might not take any of it now, or you’ll only apply the parts that you like. I understand this, as we are very, very similar.
The day you walked out of my brain, I knew I was in trouble. (It’s funny how, with literary children, the delivery can be easy, and the labor pains come later.) I knew you were sad, but I didn’t know why. I knew you had (fictional) people in your life who loved you, but that the circle was small, and you weren’t interested in expanding it. So, of course, I had to write your story.
People (still fictional) showed up who made you grow. I’m so glad.
Michael. I like him. I love him, actually. He’s so good for you. He makes you laugh, and he’s loyal. He’d take a bullet for you, kid. Talk about a solid dude. He loved you before he met you, and that’s your fault, or it’s to your credit. (Readers know what I mean.) Stick with him. I know how things turn out, say, five or so years down the road.
You’ve done some smart things. Not being swayed by Kaleb is one of them. I have to be honest, I considered letting you fall for him for a while. (He’s sexy. Which is so weird to say about a seventeen year-old fictional character.) Bad boys have always been my downfall. But I’m not as broken as you were, and Kaleb was more broken than the bad boys I knew, so when I added the two of you up, all I got was one big, hot mess. There was never a love triangle, no matter what some people saw, because you’re smarter than that. And, quite frankly, so am I.
Plus, things worked out quite nicely for Kaleb in the end, didn’t they? It’s funny to think that his romance made an appearance in the first draft of Hourglass, and I took it out. Maybe one day I’ll find that scene, and post it somewhere.
You’re lucky to have a best friend who loves you. Never let Lily go. Just don’t. True friends are hard to find. That’s a cliché to you now, but the older you get, the more you realize cliché’s are cliché’s for a reason. You have lots of friends now, thanks to the Hourglass.
It’s both funny and encouraging (to me, especially right now) that the Infinityglass was mentioned in your original draft, too. To think, I knew how things would end (well, kinda) over three years ago, and had to pull them back. Now I’m almost ready to share them with the world. Patience, Em. You usually learn it by having to wait. And that totally sucks rocks.
Keep listening to Thomas and Dru. Because they’re basically your parents, you will occasionally think they’re raging idiots, but they’re not. They just love you.
Even though you’re fictional, and I have to remind myself of that sometimes, you should know that there are (real) people out there who love you. You made them laugh, or feel things, they cried when you cried, and swooned when you swooned. Sometimes, you just pissed them off. But that’s okay. They made the journey with you, and therefore with me, and I’m sure you’re as grateful as I am.
My dear, sweet, firstborn literary baby, it’s hard to let you go. But I know you’re happy, and cared for, and just like any tiny bird that’s pushed out of the nest, you have to fly on your own. You don’t belong to me any more. You belong to the readers. I hope they treat you kindly.
In closing, I’ll tell you the same thing I tell my (real) children. Listen to your instincts, pay attention to the state of your heart, trust in your gut checks, and believe that you CAN do it. Anything at all.
You got this.
All the love in my (real) heart,
One hour to rewrite the past . . .
For seventeen-year-old Emerson Cole, life is about seeing what isn't there: swooning Southern Belles; soldiers long forgotten; a haunting jazz trio that vanishes in an instant. Plagued by phantoms since her parents' death, she just wants the apparitions to stop so she can be normal. She's tried everything, but the visions keep coming back.
So when her well-meaning brother brings in a consultant from a secretive organization called the Hourglass, Emerson's willing to try one last cure. But meeting Michael Weaver may not only change her future, it may also change her past.
Who is this dark, mysterious, sympathetic guy, barely older than Emerson herself, who seems to believe every crazy word she says? Why does an electric charge seem to run through the room whenever he's around? And why is he so insistent that he needs her help to prevent a death that never should have happened?
A threat from the past could destroy the future. And the clock is ticking...
Kaleb Ballard was never supposed to be able to see ripples - cracks in time. Are his powers expanding, or is something very wrong? Before he can find out, Jonathan landers, the man who tried to murder is father, reappears. Why is he back, and what, or whom, does he want?
In the wake of Landers' return, the Hourglass organization is given an ultimatum. Either they find Jack and the research he's stolen on the people who might carry the time gene, or time will be altered - with devastating results for the people Kaleb loves most.
Now Kaleb, Emerson, Michael, and the other Hourglass recruits have no choice but to use their unusual powers to find Landers. But where do they even start? And when? And even if they succeed, it may not be enough...
Giveaway Details 1 copy of Hourglass and 1 copy of Timepiece Open to US & Canada Only Ends 2/12/13
Tweet Do you have what it takes to juggle a bunch of monthly comics, dealing with freelancers, Diamond, retailers and the comics press? If you’re up for it, IDW is hiring! Here’s the deets: Editor, IDW Publishing IDW Publishing is seeking an experienced Editor to support the Chief Creative Officer. This is a full-time position [...]
January 21 to 25, 2013: ”NO NAME CALLING WEEK” MYTH OF THE WEEK: ”Sticks and stones can break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” ЖЖЖЖЖЖЖЖЖЖЖЖЖЖЖЖ Enslow Publishers, Inc. Enslow Publishing was established in 1976 by Ridley M. Enslow. a veteran of several New York publishing houses. Today, his two sons, Mark and Brian, run it. Located …
The other day I decided I had really better spend the lovely gift voucher I received from the WA school where I paid a virtual visit last year( thank you, Anthony Panegyres! ). So I went to Dymock's and after browsing through the fiction and remembering how many review copies I still had to read, I decided it might be better to pick up a couple of things that could help me in my writing. As I'm a writer of mediaeval fantasy, I wandered over to the history section.
I love history. Even history textbooks usually have something worth reading for the general public, but my preference runs to "history of" books written for entertainment - I have histories of chocolate, tourism, food, medicine, herbalism, even the Four Humours.
There were plenty of bios, such as those by Alison Weir, who does bios of the early kings and queens of Engand, ad very enjoyable they are, too, but as I'm unlikely to create a character based on Anne Boleyn in my Next BigThing novel, which is a teen fantasy with werewolves, I ended up choosing two more general books, The Time Traveller's Guide To Medieval England by Ian Mortimer and Vanished Kingdoms: The History Of Half-Forgotten Europe by Norman Davies.
The first one is a chatty general introduction to daily life in fourteenth century England, which pretends that you're travelling around the country and tells you what you can expect in different types of household, in the country and in town, sort of a Lonely Planet Guide. It uses medieval writings to back it up. I'm already past halfway and reading about why you really, really WOULDN'T want to live in this time. Forget the violence, the sexism, the coarse sense of humour, such as the mediaeval joke about the two merchants chatting about their home life(one says his last three wives hanged themselves in the garden and the other guy asks for a cutting from that tree.) The main reason you wouldn't want to live there is the weird medical practices.
I have only started the intro to the second book, but I know I'm going to lie it. It's about all those kingdoms that no longer exist - something that is likely to give me ideas, but also sounds thoroughly entertaining in its own right. The author says he was growing up when the sun never set on the British Empire and guess what? He suggests that people hundreds of years from now will be wondering about OUR lost empires!
The Black Rabbit by Philippa Leathers is a lovely little picture book about a small white bunny who goes outside one sunny day to find himself followed everywhere by a big, black rabbit. Children ages three and up should understand right away that Black Rabbit is Rabbit's shadow. But although Rabbit comes to appreciate Black Rabbit, the gag continues throughout the book, and Rabbit never gets the joke (which I think adds tremendously to the appeal of the book).
Leathers' text is minimal, and well-suited for read-aloud. Like this:
But the Black Rabbit was right behind him.
Rabbit ran even faster.
The Black Rabbit won't find me here! thought Rabbit, and he hid behind a tree.
But when Rabbit stepped out from behind the tree...
there was the Black Rabbit right in front of him."
In fact, The Black Rabbit could probably work as an early reader, too. But I think that it's best suited for read-aloud to preschoolers just old enough to understand what a shadow is.
Leathers' illustrations are fairly minimalist, too, with just a few colors. Black Rabbit dominates most of the pages, size-wise, but Rabbit shows more character. Despite being small and drawn in streamlined fashion, Rabbit's personality is conveyed through posture and action. Leathers throws in a bit of humor to the pictures, too. For instance, outside of the "the deep, dark wood" is a big wooden sign that says "Welcome to the deep, dark wood". It made me smile.
I haven't tried this on Baby Bookworm yet, but I am expecting it to be a favorite. This is Philippa Leathers' first picture book, but I hope it will not be her last. Recommended for home and library use.
Publisher: Candlewick (@Candlewick) Publication Date: January 22, 2013 Source of Book: Review copy from the publisher
Following Deborah Heiligman's terrific post yesterday on spatial perspective in art and structural perspective in writing, I'm offering another sort. Alexandra Wallner, writer and illustrator of dozens of children's books presents an historical perspective on writing, illustrating, collaborating, and publishing over the last four decades.
You’ve had a long distinguished career as a writer, illustrator, and collaborator with your husband, John Wallner.How did your creative partnership come about?
John and I were freelancing in illustration in the early 1970’s. In the1980s, John was offered an illustration job for a series of books by David A. Adler, the children’s book biographer. John was eager to do the series but the deadlines were very tight. I reasoned to John that if I helped illustrate the books, we could do it in half the time if I got equal recognition for my work. The editor agreed. That’s how it began and it has worked for many projects since, although we still do projects independent of each other.
How does this partnership work?Do you work together on all parts of the process or do you have different roles?
I generally do all the research for the biographies. At first, we relied mostly on picture files at libraries and on books. In recent years, it has been easier to research on the internet. Then John sketches out all the spreads in a dummy. When the sketches are approved, I transfer John’s sketches onto Arches watercolor paper. Sometimes I paint all the backgrounds and he paints the figures and sometimes the other way around. We become a “third person.” The main goal is to have a consistent looking book at the end.
I reviewed your biography of J.R.R. Tolkien on this blog back in December 2011, written by you, illustrated by John. How did that collaboration work?
Since the life of Tolkien was rather dull in the physical sense and all the magic of his world came out of his imagination, John came up with the brilliant idea that he would incorporate a game board of imagination throughout the book to reflect what Tolkien thought and wrote. I think that is what really snapped the book up. Otherwise, we would have had scene upon scene of Tolkien in his study with paper and pen. I think John captured the spirit of Tolkien’s world really well. I am very pleased with the result.
Any dramatic disagreements working so closely with your husband?
When John and I work together, we are completely professional about it and always, always keep in mind the most important thing: the end product. I honestly can’t remember any major fights about the work. Of course, we have our disagreements! We’ve been married for 41 years and have shared studio space in all that time. Our biggest disagreements have been about travel. John does not like to travel at all but occasionally has made concessions to me. John loves to spend time in his studio among colored pencils, paints, brushes, and collage material.
I really enjoyed working on MERCY! First, it brought to every one’s attention an historic strong woman I was unfamiliar with. Mercy is a positive reinforcement for female roles in history, especially for children. I have written and illustrated books about female historic figures such as authors: Beatrix Potter, Louisa May Alcott, L. M. Montgomery, Laura Ingalls Wilder; a famous artist: Grandma Moses; political figures: Susan B. Anthony, Abigail Adams, Betsy Ross. I have also written and/or illustrated books about famous men, but the women are closer to my heart.
The Colonial American period is my favorite time period to illustrate. My kitchen has many pieces of crockery and some furniture from that time. I like the simplicity and classic lines of everyday objects from that time and really enjoy depicting them. I research my material carefully to make sure I have as much information about how things looked from any particular time period. It’s important to depict an accurate account of time periods, especially in children’s books.
Why the interest in American history?
My favorite subjects in school were history and literature. After World War II I emigrated from Germany, where I was born, with my parents who were Ukrainian and Bohemian, displaced by the war. I have always been fascinated by the United States and its history.
After living mostly in the northeastern U.S., you’ve migrated to Mexico. What drew you there? Do you enjoy a relaxed tropical lifestyle?
I live in Merida, Yucatan. Although it is EXTREMELY hot and humid in Merida in the summer, five months out of the year the climate is very comfortable. I love to swim and do so almost every day. John does not have to shovel snow anymore, which makes him happy. Our dining table is on the terraza and we eat in warm tropical breezes all the time.
Both of us are in our studios most of the day. John and I both go to a hotel health club where John works out in the gym and I swim. Then we come home for lunch, take a brief siesta, and go to our studios again for the rest of the afternoon. I meet with a writing friend for a “writer’s group” every couple of weeks. I stay in touch with close friends via Skype and email. It’s a pretty quiet lifestyle, although we are always busy on some project or other.
Has Mexico influenced your artwork?
Yes. I love my garden and I love cactuses. I have incorporated my garden into work, especially for Ladybug magazine. Also, Mexican color stimulates me and has influenced some bright new paintings.
You’ve been in the business since the 1970s.How would you describe the high and lows of the children’s publishing industry since then? What is your opinion of the state of the industry today?
Wow! That’s a loaded topic! Lots of change! When John and I started illustrating, we had to work with pre-separation. That meant painting four separate paintings in black and white for each of the four colors that the printer laid over each other - black, red, blue and yellow – to make a colored picture to print.Tons of work! I’m glad I was young with better eyes.
The industry used to be more personal, with more contact with art directors and editors. The art director invited us to see our books in the
I’m glad John and I had the chance to start and continue in the industry when we did. Holiday House, with whom we published many books, is still a personal place where we have a relationship with John Briggs, the publisher, and the staff. We are very grateful to them. We feel fortunate to have been a part of this industry for so long.
What are your present and future projects?
Right now I am writing a novel for adults. I am on my second or third draft. I’ve lost count, but hope to tie loose ends together this year and submit it for publication. After that, more painting, I think.
Katy Moran is working on her sixth novel for Walker Books. She spent much of her childhood daydreaming, watching too much telly and writing stories. She reviews other people’s books on www.katymoran.co.uk
I live in two different worlds. I’ve been a writer by trade for six years, and in that time have produced five books and a brace of children.
I’m lucky: I’ve got an awesome and supportive
You may recall that more than a year went by with me barely blogging, thanks in part to massive upheaval in my personal life. (Pretty much all for the good too - I mean, I'm really in the best relationship I've ever had now, and I'm happy most of the time, which is pretty darned great. But I digress.) And then, on December 20, 2012, I decided to start blogging regularly again, in hopes that it might help me start writing regularly again, too.
And it seems like it's starting to work. I have not put up a blog post every single day since December 20th, but I've come rather close. And the decision to find my way back to writing daily - by which I mean writing poems and/or stories - by writing blog posts daily seems to be working.
I've started thinking about some new projects, and have written a poem that I happen to like a lot. Plus I've been working on two new picture book projects.
Turns out that sometimes, it's as simple as making a plan. Making a plan to blog every day, or to sit down for at least half an hour to write. Or both. And yeah, the planning sounds simple, even if the execution isn't always easy, or even possible. But it's worth trying.
Got Great Giveaways is a weekly feature hosted here on I Am A Reader, Not A Writer. This feature will be posted each week usually on Wednesdays but I'm sometimes early and often late.
I've got a lot of Great Giveaway going on here on my blog so be sure to check them out! Most are linked in my right sidebar half way down. I love book giveaways. Enter enough book giveaways and you are going to win them. Just be sure to follow the giveaway entry rules so you have a valid entry and don't get disqualified.
To win a giveaway you've got to be able to find it and enter it. Thus I created Got Great Giveaways! If you are hosting a giveaway on your blog or come across a great giveaway you want to share please link it up here.
Got Great Giveaways? Book Giveaway Link Up Rules: Giveaways must be book related (books, gift cards to stores that sell books, swag, etc.) Please do not link up to Blog Hop Giveaways that are hosted on this site. Link directly to your giveaway post. Please include as much info as possible such as the genre, book title & ending date of your giveaway, shipping info, etc.
Example: Young Adult - In The Forests of Night by Kersten Hamilton ends 5/28 (US)
You are welcome to grab the code for this linky and add it to your site, just be sure to mention it is for book related giveaways only so it doesn't get spammed with unrelated giveaways. BOOK & BOOK RELATED GIVEAWAYS ONLY - others will be deleted.
Remember - Anytime you visit Amazon.com use an affiliate link to get there. Any purchase you make from a link on my site generates a small kickback. You need not purchase the item I'm featuring, any purchase counts. So whether you are shopping for books, movies, clothes, games, electronics, music, food or any of the myriad of other things amazon sells, simply use my affiliate link to shop. It costs you nothing extra and is an easy way to support this site. My Affiliate Link: http://www.amazon.com?tag=iaarnaw-20.Add a Comment
... in S. D. Nelson's Greet the Dawn the Lakota Way. Why, you wonder? Simple. As a Pueblo Indian kid growing up on our reservation in New Mexico, I rode a yellow school bus just like that. Illustrations like that make me smile because they reflect my reality, my personal experience, my life as a Native child. Native children today need that sort of thing because it provides them with a mirror of who they are.
On the facing page, several children run towards the bus. Some are carrying band instruments! Again! That was me! Carrying my clarinet!
Here's the cover for Nelson's book:
Ok.... more reminiscing. My grandfather, dad, uncle and brothers had horses that we rode around the reservation. We laugh today, remembering Perla, the mare that would simply lay down to get rid of us. I vividly recall feeling the shift in her bones at that moment when she decided she was going to lay down. We'd have to pull our legs up quick-like and be ready to leap off. And of course, we were riding in the same sort of clothes the kids on the cover of Greet the Dawn are wearing.
The beauty in Nelson's book is that he puts our existence in the present day, but through his art, he conveys the fact that in our communities, we are in touch with our identity as Native people whose spiritualities--across our many nations--are unique, vibrant, and, like the air we breathe, all around us.
Another couple of huge plus factors for Nelson's book is that it includes Lakota songs, in Lakota and English. And, he notes the source for the songs in "A Note about the Illustrations and the Text" in the back of the book. He takes care, in other words, to point us to his sources. There's no ambiguity in what he says.
One last comment... the page where a family is shown outside at night, welcoming the moon? An elder is shown, sitting on a folding chair. That is another familiar image, firmly grounded in my reality.
Order a copy today from a small bookstore, like Louise Erdrich's Birchbark Books. Greet the Dawn the Lakota Way was published in 2012 by the South Dakota State Historical Society Press.
For Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, we watched the I Have a Dream speech on YouTube and wrote our own speeches.
I would like to share my dreams for my children...
I Have A Dream I have a dream that my four children will grow up to love God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. I have a dream that because of this love, they will love others and treat them as their brothers and sisters in Christ.
I have a dream that my four children will yearn for truth and righteousness, that they may be filled with knowledge and hunger for more. I hope that their knowledge will bring them success as they journey through life, that they may have the things they need for themselves and their families.
I have a dream that they will understand that truth is eternal, and that the Holy Spirit can and will guide their learning and deepen their understanding, that it may be a great blessing to them in this life, as well as in the life to come.
I have a dream that my four children will have fulfilling personal relationships, especially with their family members, and of course, with the Lord, for all of these relationships can last forever.
I have a dream that they will find happiness here on Earth and eternal joy in Heaven.
This week one of my favorite books by one of my favorite girlfriends from the Girlfriends Cyber Circuit is being released in paperback. (Whew, trying saying that mouthful ten times fast!) I'm talking about SMALL TOWN SINNERS by Melissa Walker.
I seriously cannot tell you how much I adored this book, so if you haven't read it yet, now is the time to pick it up the paperback version with this lovely new zoomed-in cover:
When the hard cover came out, I did a full book lowdown/interview with Melissa which you can find here. In celebration of the paperback release, Melissa has sent me this fun little background tidbit about the book:
Before I write the book, I do little interviews with some characters. That information almost never makes it into the manuscript, but I like having it. Here's a tiny bit from Dean, one of main character Lacey Anne's best friends:
What you love about your town?
I like the way the sun sets. I like the sky at night in the dark, when no one can see me and it’s quiet—no one can even hear me, but I can see a million stars.
What you hate about your town?
The bullies. Is there a place without them?
What do you love about your church?
The messages. I do want things to be the way our pastor says they should be. I wish people actually lived by the rules, but it seems like they just repent one day a week.
To get out of here.
In addition to this, Melissa wanted to let you know that she has A BIG CONTEST going on that you should enter here!
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I did not intend to take an unannounced break but I was able to fly out to California for my grandma’s funeral. The services were exactly right and though we were all sad, I feel like it was also a celebration of her life. Thank you all once again for the numerous kind thoughts and comments. You are all so very wonderful.
Since it wasn’t a vacation, airplane reading was a bit weird. I wanted to read but nothing really appealed so I ended up reading a London Review of Books on the way out and another on the way home. Which means, for the moment, I am caught up on my LRBs.
Monday was a holiday in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. and I had the day home from work. I watched President Obama’s inauguration with special anticipation for the poem by Richard Blanco. I liked it! It is a very American poem I think. Some chatter around the interwebs has noted echoes of Walt Whitman. Yes, I can hear those too, the celebration of the common, the everyday and the urgency that pervades the poem and propels it forward. I like how Blanco uses the light, sky, ground and moon to gather together all the individual pieces into one country. There is a definite feeling of e pluribus unum, out of many one, which is what the United States at its best is all about. What do you think of the poem?
I had hoped to be able to read more yesterday but I caught a cold while I was away and felt generally blah. I was able to focus for an hour or so and start reading Doctor Glas. So far I am liking this little book very much. It is written as a diary, a device that when well done I am always a sucker for. Oh, and how could I forget, I also read the introduction to Ben Yagoda’s How to Not Write Bad. He made some good jokes, but he always does. He says that there are plenty of books out there to tell you how to write well but not many that tell you how to not write bad(ly). He’s been teaching and grading for years and the book is going to focus on the mistakes he finds people make most often. It is intended for students but he also has non-students in mind he says, like bloggers and people who just want to improve their writing. I look forward to delving into the nitty-gritty shortly.
Last week I finished the third part of Margaret Atwood’s serial e-novel Positron. I liked parts one and two quite a bit but part three felt short and rushed. I suppose that is one of the dangers of serial novels.
In progress on my Kindle at the moment is The Wind in the Willows. I was in the mood for something easy and comforting. Except I never read the book when I was a kid. I had a picture book of a Frog and Toad story but I never read Wind in the Willows. Reading it for the first time as an adult, I am enjoying it, but there are also some weird things about it. Like the animals seem to keep changing size. First they are small like a water rat or mole would be but then they are riding in a coach with Toad being pulled by a horse. Wha??? And I find it rather disturbing that they eat bacon for breakfast and lobster is a dinner option. It is not magical like it would be for a child, but it is fun nonetheless.
Also in progress is Wolf Hall. I am enjoying it very much. I am reading it with Litlove and she is waiting patiently for me to finish since she has run along merrily to the end already. I’m about two-thirds of the way through.
Yesterday I spent the book gift card that was burning a hole in my pocket on The Prague Cemetery by Umberto Eco and The Vet’s Daughter by Barbara Comyns. I have no intention of jumping into either of them when they arrive. I must get my in progress books under control. But I am looking forward to reading both of them. I just don’t know when that will be!
I could go nattering on all night but Waldo is giving me the look that says I have been at my computer too long already and I had better stop now before he takes matters into his own paws. So off I go to make a cup of tea to soothe my sore throat and I should probably read something too.
I have an imaginative student who is a reluctant writer. It doesn’t matter how sparkly the writing prompt is, the song and dance hype I give it, or the rewards I dangle in front of her nose, we always end up at the same impasse after the assignment is given.
Fifteen minutes into it, student shows me an empty page.
Me trying the teasing tactic: Really? Really? You can’t think of one word to write? I gave you a princess, with a sword, and a handsome prince.
Student: I tried! Nothing comes to me.
Me – (who is honestly sympathizing, thinking of my own work in progress sitting on my desk) “Did you try my writer’s block tips to add to your word count?”
Student – “Maybe.”
Me – “Maybe. Huh. Did you try to describe your setting? Is it a stone castle? Is there a drawbridge? What kind of princess is she? A ninja princess who saves the prince? Or a damsel in distress in sparkly pink clothes.”
Student sighs. “I just don’t know.”
Me – “Okay. Start with senses then. What do you see? What do you hear? The roar of a dragon or the sweet singing of some birds? Do you smell the moat? The prince? His horse?”
Student taps pencil on the table, not even remotely amused.
Me – “Well, you can add anything you like to your story, you know. A giraffe. A lemonade rainstorm. The principal in a clown wig. A zombie.”
Several boys start scribbling madly, but she just sighs again.
So I pitch my lots-of-famous-writers-do-this-warm-up-exercise-on-a-daily-basis speech. I even drop some well known names! It doesn’t help in the least. The class ends and I hope I’ve given her food for thought as her assignment is now homework over the long weekend.
Fast forward to Sunday. I’m sitting down, faced with the next- to-the-last chapter in my own first draft. This chapter isn’t coming easily. It’s the climax, and an exciting, dangerous one it is too! There’s lots of characters, all come together, and the battle against right and wrong has begun.
I’ve written my character so his back is against a wall. Literally. And I’m having a hard time getting him out so he can personally save the day. I sigh. I tap my pencil on my notebook. I watch the San Fran-Atlanta football game. I pour over my plot ideas. I’m thinking, “I’ll work on this tomorrow,” when my in-box dings.
There’s a school Edmodo e-mail from the student. To summarize her paragraph, she was letting Shannon and I know she was still stuck. “It takes me awhile to think of something” She didn’t think she could turn in her writing prompt of 400 words by Tuesday.
I wrote her right back. I re-told her all the tips for adding to your word count. “Plow forward,” I said. Then I paused and remembered that I was just about to give up too. “I’m at home, writing too! Let’s write together!” I suggested.
I didn’t hear back from that student. I wrote though. And I hoped she was, maybe, writing too. Imagining it, kept me writing for awhile.
This morning, I ran into the student. “Hey!” I said, “Did you get my message?”
Student shyly: “Uh, huh”
Me: “Did it help?”
Student beams: “I wrote 600 words! How many did you write?”
Me: “About the same.”
And once again, a student has taught me something. Sometimes, it’s more fun, and more inspiring to know someone is writing right alongside you. And that they find it hard too.
This runner has had burritos on the brain. That being said, tucking into a 5lb burrito bomb and taking off on a 5 mile tempo isn’t such a hot idea. Actually, going for any run after that may be iffy…
I’m more than open in sharing my runner stories of GI distress, gut woes, and tales from the poopy trails. HERE is a previous post and with lots of tips to tackling your own GI issues. Though I happened upon an interesting interview with Dr. Barry Schlansky, specializing in gastroenterology and hepatology, over at FloTrack.
Go read the article yourself, but here are some settling, and not-so-settling things I took away from it:
* Blood Flow Bottom Line: The root of many GI issues is how the body is delegating blood flow through the body during and after exercise. When we’re running our butts off the body’s first priority is to send blood to the muscles in order to fuel our exertion. The intestines are the low-men on the totem pole here and when they are deprived of adequate blood flow there is a bit of damage being caused. Without the adequate oxygen from the blood flow the intestines start to stage their revolt.
* Post-Run Gut Revolt: Sometimes the worst pains and episodes happen AFTER a hard or long run…talk about being chained to the lou for the rest of the day. I’m sure many runners can relate to this feeling, and Dr. Schlansky states it as much, “Right, the longer or more intense the workout is, it will increase the symptoms during and after the workout.” In short it comes back to the intestines not having adequate oxygen/blood-flow WHILE we are working out; then, once we stop working out and blood begins to get shunted back to these organs it’s almost like opening a flood-gate and the intestines aren’t prepared to handle such a quick supply of blood/oxygen. So, they then stage their revolt. “The influx of oxygen to the vulnerable ischemic (damaged from earlier lack of blood supply) tissues can result in a chemical reaction called “oxidation,” which is thought to be the basis for additional injury to tissues after exercise has stopped.” * Endurance and Effort: Not surprising is that over 80% of elite marathon runners complain of some GI issues; this is both the upward and the downward. Unfortunately Dr. Schlansky is blunt, “I wish I could tell you “why,” but to be honest, at this point the associations are unknown.” (unsettling) Most likely the fact that running puts our guts through quite a POUNDING has a strong link, and “Additionally, researchers have hypothesized that friction between the organs and the lining of the abdominal wall with pounding exercise may cause irritation that causes symptoms.” As for effort, I’m no doctor but I’m willing to go out on a limb and say that the fact that the harder we run, there’s got to be an extra level of ‘pounding/driving’ force shaking that sh*t up.
* Females: This really stinks, Runnerchicks, but woman are more apt to GI issues than the runnerdudes. He’s not able to give us a reason, but it’s probably due to differing hormones.
* Eating and Food: Burrito bombs aren’t recommended (duh) and it’s wise to seek out ‘blander’ foods, not too high in fat, not too spicy, not too beany or cheesy, nix the dairy, and so forth. Learn your ‘tummy trigger foods’ and avoid them. Also, timing your last meal is just as important so you can revisit my post on that.
* Iron and Anemia: Any extra blood loss from diarrhea, especially if it’s on a continual basis, can lead to iron deficiency/anemia. “Yes, because it is also possible to lose small amounts of blood in the gastrointestinal tract that is invisible to the naked eye but can result in iron deficiency,” says Dr. Schlansky. If you’re having a lot of GI issues it’s important to keep tabs on your iron levels, I know that runners who later find out they have celiac disease and are gluten intolerant, that because of all of their GI problems they are then anemic. * Dehydration: Any kind of increased vomiting or diarrhea leads to fluid loss and dehydration, that’s why it’s so important to rehydrate yourself. (The issue there is if you’re running a marathon but aren’t able to take in any more fluids or gels…sadly, you’re kind of screwed at that point, that’s why it’s important to test out and try a bunch of different foods/supplements BEFORE your race to find one that works.) So with any kind of GI issue run make sure you’re extra mindful to replenish those fluid and electrolyte stores.
I’m a sucker for a good poop read, so you should read the full interview done by Danny Mackey. Who is actually a super cool guy in addition to being smart. He’s also married to one smoking fast runnerchick, Katie Mackey, so he gets extra cool points.
1) What was your last GI disaster run? Can you link it back to one food in particular?
2) Do you have more GI issues going the up route or the down?
Down. I’ve never thrown-up actually during or after a run.
3) What foods have you learned are GI suicide for you? What is a ‘winning’ combo that’s worked?
Emerson 2nd graders have **loved** reading and thinking about which picture book they would award with the 2013 Caldecott Medal. This project is really deepening their ability to articulate how pictures contribute to an overall story. In library language, we call this "visual literacy" - the ability to interpret and make meaning from illustrations. Here are four more of our favorite picture books from 2012.
Our students love Extra Yarn more and more with each reading. Even though the artwork is subdued, they respond to Annabelle's creative spirit, to her generosity and to her tenacious refusal to sell her precious box to the archduke. They love the surprising twists of this story, and the way that the illustrations add to the visual surprises. The notice that the illustrations help make the pacing and details are perfect; in particular, the love the wordless pages near the end, as readers need to guess what is happening to the box of yarn.
Children have really responded to this true story of a little dog who was stuck on an ice flow in Poland’s Vistula River, and rescued after drifting for two days on the open sea. Was it just because our students adore little dogs, or do the illustrations really add to this? After a hearty debate, our students definitely think Carnesi's illustrations are distinguished, making the story "pop", helping them connect to the dog and understand how he felt. Carnesi creates tension as one thing goes wrong after another. She creates empathy without overdoing the emotions. In fact, today's class voted this as their winner! We'll see if the Caldecott Committee notices this sweet, quiet story - we sure hope so.
On the surface, this is a book about just one color; but as our students quickly realized, Seeger makes readers appreciate just how many variations there are for a single color. Students loved Seeger's inventive descriptions of different shades of green, from forest green to sea-green to khaki green. We talked about the texture of the oil paint and the canvas that shows on each page. And they loved the twist near then end when Seeger adds yet another layer with “all green / never green / no green / forever green.” This is certainly a book where the illustrations extend it far beyond its simple words, making reader think about color in new and different ways.
While this book took my breath away, it did not stay with our 2nd grade readers quite the same way when compared to other favorites in our Mock Caldecott discussions. When we read it together, the students responded to the details in each illustration, noticing what different animals were doing on each spread. They liked the muted colors and the building of tension as the little boy waited and waited for spring. But I think this quiet book might be too slow and subdued for their tastes. But I wonder if the Caldecott Committee might appreciate the way Stead's artwork builds the themes and anticipation in this lovely story.
Many thanks to the publishers for supporting our Mock Caldecott unit: Penguin, Harper Collins and Macmillan. If you make a purchase using the Amazon links on this site, a small portion goes to Great Kid Books (at no cost to you!). Thank you for your support.
The book trailer for the feel-good novel of the year, The Rosie Project, in high definition.
Don Tillman, professor of genetics, has never been on a second date. Then a chance encounter gives him an idea. He will design a questionnaire—a sixteen-page, scientifically researched document—to find the perfect partner. She will most definitely not be a barmaid, a smoker, a drinker or a late-arriver.
Rosie Jarman is all these things. She is strangely beguiling, fiery and intelligent. And she is also on a quest of her own. She’s looking for her biological father, a search that a certain DNA expert might just be able to help her with—even if he does wear quick-dry clothes and eat lobster every single Tuesday night.
Congratulations to Louise Erdrich! Chickadee was selected as the recipient of the 2013 Scott O'Dell Award for Historical Fiction. From the Horn Book website:
The 2013 Scott O’Dell Award for Historical Fiction goes to Louise Erdrich for Chickadee, published by Harper, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers. The annual award, created by Scott O’Dell and Zena Sutherland in 1982 and now administered by Elizabeth Hall, carries with it a prize of $5000, and goes to the author of a distinguished work of historical fiction for young people published by a U. S. publisher and set in the Americas. This is the second O’Dell Award for Louise Erdrich; she won it in 2006 for The Game of Silence, also published by Harper. (The honors don’t stop there; Erdrich also just won the 2012 National Book Award for her adult novel The Round House.)
Here's more from their remarks about the book:
The book has humor and suspense (and disarmingly simple pencil illustrations by the author), providing a picture of 1860s Anishinabe life that is never didactic or exotic and is briskly detailed with the kind of information young readers enjoy: who knew, for example, that an oxcart train would be so loud, or that mosquitoes could be so terrifying? Anishanabe beliefs about the spiritual connections between humans and the natural world are conveyed matter-of-factly as Chickadee gets help and encouragement from his namesake bird; the Christian faith of the “Black Robes” is also given nuance and respect. Chickadee’s first taste of a peppermint stick in the burgeoning city of St. Paul is just one sign of the increasingly multicultural nature of his family’s world, a world that we hope this author continues to chronicle.
In September, 2012, Martha V. Parravano of Horn Book interviewed Erdrich. Check it out, too! In the interview, she says that her next book will be titled Makoons. In it she says that she will be "writing from the living memory" of her relatives. Her writing is exquisite. It'll be hard to wait, but also something to look forward to! Five questions for Louise Erdrich