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Viewing: Blog Posts from All 1562 Blogs, since 2/23/2008 [Help]
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6526. Teaching Good Character with Books

reading into character

Stories can help children to develop into responsible, caring and contributing citizens.

Use the activities for each book below to teach good character traits like kindness, self-control and perseverance to your students.

To view all the books chosen and to see all the tips and activities suggested for each book, visit the Reading Into Character Section on the First Book Marketplace.

Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse written and illustrated by Kevin Henkes

This story models self-control: being able to deny your short-term impulses in order to stay focused and pursue what is really important


Lilly loved school, until her teacher took away her fabulous movie star sunglasses, her three shiny quarters and her brand new purple plastic purse.

Ask these questions after reading the story:

  • Lilly wants to show off her new things, even though she knows it’s not the right time. Why do you think is it so hard to wait when you’re excited?
  • Even though Lilly loves Mr. Slinger, she is furious with him for taking away her things. Why is she so angry? Should she be angry?
Wilma Unlimited: How Wilma Rudolph Became the World’s Fastest Woman written by Kathleen Krull, illustrated by David Diaz

This story models resilience and perseverance: honoring your word and your intentions by working hard toward an important goal, despite setbacks and challenges


A small and sickly child, Wilma Rudolph wore a heavy brace on her leg when she was a little girl, but she grew up to win three Olympic gold medals for running.

Try this activity to learn more about resilient athletes:

Who are today’s women’s sports stars? Ask your students to choose their favorite female champions in track, basketball, tennis, soccer, and more. Research their lives. Create a Women’s Sports Hall of Fame for your classroom.

Those Shoes written by Maribeth Boelts, illustrated by Noah Z. Jones

This story models kindness and compassion: valuing others so much that you show them respect and offer help to them as a way of honoring their value

those shoes
Like all the other boys in school, Jeremy wants black high tops with two white stripes. But when he finally gets a pair, he realizes that he needs to give them away.

Try this activity to practice kindness and compassion:

Investigate local charities that welcome donations of good-as-new clothing, toys, books, or other useful items. Be sure to play close attention to their donation guidelines. If feasible, organize a class- or school-wide donation drive.

Developed as a joint project with Character.org and with generous support from Disney, each hand-picked book in the Reading Into Character section is paired with a FREE downloadable tip sheet.

The post Teaching Good Character with Books appeared first on First Book Blog.

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6527. Columnist or Feature Writer? That is the question

I have been writing for the national writing magazine Writers' Forum for over ten years. I started as a freelance author, interviewing other writers I met on courses and conferences, about their writing and writing process and would send these features in with fingers crossed hoping the editor then, John Jenkins, would accept them. More often than not he did.

When the magazine changed hands the new editor, Carl Styants, was not so interested in off-spec features and after a few rejections, follow-up emails and a discussion over the telephone, he asked me to write on a more regular basis on the theme of research, something that has always fascinated me.

So in October 2008, I started to write a monthly double-spread feature on research techniques with tips on researching from successful authors across different genres. The focus is on what works for them and how this could benefit other writers. The column aims to give the reader useful tips on research - specific books and websites, museums and place to go to, etc and to show how the writer being interviewed used their research in their book. The feature is written up as though they are telling me about their research and the questions themselves do not appear.

Since then I have considered myself a columnist with a regular monthly column on writers and their research. However, I have recently been informed I may not be a columnist, I am a regular feature writer. When it comes to the crunch on considering whether I am a ‘columnist’ or ‘featurist’ (I may have just made-up that word) I believe it depends on what your definition is of a column and a feature.

As I found this idea very interesting, I decided to do some research on the topic. There is a lot of confusing and sometimes contradicting definitions. The best explanation for me was Keith Martin’s words on the Quorawebsite. Using his reasoning then, technically I am not a columnist because I interview different people each month and although, the feature is attributed to me the voice and opinions are the writers’ being interviewed. This means I must be a regular feature writer.

This is also true of my new monthly slot in Writers’ Forum on Writing for Children, lunched in the May issue 2016. Although, I have announced it on Facebook and twitter as a new column, technically it isn’t. It is a monthly feature with tips from successful authors, agents, editors and other professionals from the children’s publishing world. The focus is on what works for them and how this could benefit children’s book writers. It is written as if they are talking to me, from their point of view and none of the questions are shown.

After much deliberation though, I have decided I am going to keep the heading ‘My Columns’ in the menu of my website because I think it sounds better than, ‘My Regular Features’.

I would be pleased to hear your thoughts and suggestions about whether you consider me to be a columnist, or a regular feature writer, or even what I should call myself. (Please be polite)

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6528. Disney Rules The Box Office Again With Their Animated Hit ‘The Jungle Book’

Another animated film takes over the top spot at the U.S. box office.

The post Disney Rules The Box Office Again With Their Animated Hit ‘The Jungle Book’ appeared first on Cartoon Brew.

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6529. It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 4-18-16

Thanks to our dynamic hosts: Jen at Teach Mentor Texts and Kelle at Unleashing Readers. Head to either blog to find reviews as well as dozens of links to other blogs filled with reviews!

Books I Read this Week:

Science Comics:
Dinosaurs: Fossils and Feathers
By MK Reed & Joe Flood
First Second, 2016
Nonfiction Graphic Novel
120 pages
Recommended for grades 3-8

This is a new series to watch for! There are two books out right now, with a third on the way. The artwork is vibrant and alive, colorful and detailed, and the text is rich with information. What I particularly like about this book is how it points out our ever-changing understanding of what we once knew for fact in the field of science. This continues to the very last page when the writer admits that some of the information they included in the book has now been disproven just two weeks before printing! So cool! Includes the early male and female scientists discovering fossils and bones, who took credit and who had it robbed. Go buy this one! 

Forgotten Bones: Uncovering a Slave Cemetery
By Lois Miner Huey
Millbrook Press, 2016
56 pages
Recommended for grades 4+

When workers uncover human remains while digging for a new pipeline, a slave cemetery is discovered. The cemetery was a burial grounds for the slaves at the Schuyler in Albany, New York.
The book gives readers a look at what steps are taken to excavate and protect the remains, how they are handled and what story they have to tell. The photographs let us join the scientists at work. The book also includes information about the different lifestyles of Northern and Southern slaves in America, well before the Civil War.

Sweater Weather
By Sara Varon
First Second, 2016
Short Stories: Graphic Novel
127 pages
Recommended for: fans of Sara Varon

So different from her previous titles, this book includes short stories with Sara's introduction to each telling where the idea came from, it's purpose, etc. I can't say I love it as much as I love her previous books, and I'm not really sure of which reader I might hand it to. I think the book would fare best in the hands of a Sara Varon fan, or in the hands of an artist.

I'm Currently Reading:

On Deck: On Desk

I was so excited to start reading this one, but I left it at school (and I'm on vacation). I will get to it soon!

Thanks for stopping by!

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6530. Writing from the Inside Out. . . A BOOK BIRTHDAY & GIVEAWAY

Dear Readers,

One of the great things about blogging is getting to introduce good friends and good books to all of you. In this post my friend, Kathy Cannon Wiechman, shares about some of the different ways she researches books.

Author, Kathy Cannon Wiechman is a former teacher of beginner French and Creative Writing and a Language Arts tutor. She is also a lifelong writer. Her 2015 novel, LIKE A RIVER, won the Grateful American Book Prize and was nominated for the Dorothy Canfield Fisher Book Award. It is on Bank Street College Best Book list, a Junior Library Guild Selection, and earned a starred review in Kirkus. Her second novel, EMPTY PLACES, launched in April, 2016 with good reviews. (Kathy is generously donating an autographed copy of one of her books. For a chance to win, please leave a comment below. More details at the end of the post.)

Writing from the Inside Out. . .     Kathy Cannon Wiechman shares

Clara’s theme of Writing from the Inside Out is a perfect description of the way I go about creating a story. I always write from inside my main character. The whole story is seen through that character’s eyes, even if I tell it in third person.
Since I write mostly historical fiction, I travel to a lot of historical sites to get the proper perspective of the places my character sees. Those places have changed over the years, so I also look at old photos and read descriptions from folks from the past.
If my character lives in a home that is totally made up, I draw a floor plan, so I can picture it clearly in my mind. For a character who lives on a farm, I draw a map of that farm. I know where the pig pen is, the cornfield, and the tallest oak tree on the place. If I want a story to feel real to a reader, it must first feel real for me.
I also try to replicate sounds from the time period: the jangle of a mule’s harness, the crack of a rifle shot, the blast of a steamboat whistle. I want to be able to see what the character sees, hear what he hears, smell what he smells, and feel what he feels. When I wrote Like a River, my search for the smell of black powder led me to a lesson on how to load and fire a muzzleloader.

When I worked on Empty Places, I was introduced to a 1928 Model A Ford. I eventually had a chance to drive the vehicle. What fun! Here’s the excerpt from the book, Empty Places:
"I don't know about this, Corky." The gas pedal was small and round. And near out'a reach of my foot.

"Just try. I'll tell ya when."

He disappeared behind the car, and I readied my foot on the clutch.

He yelled, “Now!"
I pressed the button on the parking brake, and moved the gear shift like Corky done showed me. I stretched out my leg to push on the gas. The engine made almost as much noise as Corky, who swore like the devil.

The writing begins when I can feel the character breathing inside me, when I can look down at that person’s hands and feet, feel what’s in the person’s pocket, and know that person’s fears, angers, and heartbreaks.
In Like a River, my character, Leander, has his arm amputated, so I talked to amputees. I learned about phantom pain from them. But I needed to know for myself how well Leander could swim when he had only one arm. My husband tied one of my arms behind my back and timed me while I swam that way. Surprisingly, I could swim almost as well with one arm as with two.
The biggest compliment I receive from readers of Like a River is, “I felt I was there with Leander and Polly.” That makes it worth going the extra steps to get inside those characters’ heads. And here’s hoping readers will feel the same way about Adabel Cutler in Empty Places.

LIKE A RIVER: A Civil War Novel
Author: Kathy Cannon Wiechman
Publisher:Calkins Creek/Boyds Mills
Kirkus *Starred* Review: The stories of three teens intersect in the later years of the Civil War in this debut novel. Fifteen-year-old Leander Jordan runs off to war from Ohio to prove he's a man. "Working in the foundry wasn't something to admire, not like being a soldier in uniform, a soldier who'd risk his life facing enemy guns. Pa had to see he was doing a manly thing." But he lands in a Southern hospital, where he befriends Paul Settles, another young Union soldier, who tends to his wounds. When they're separated, Paul ends up in hellish Andersonville Prison, where smallpox, scurvy and hunger plague the prisoners. There, Paul's friendship with Given McGlade, a fellow prisoner and Leander's neighbor from back home, helps keep them both alive. Though the prose is a bit florid early on, the stories are effectively related in twinned third-person narrative, and Wiechman's abundant research is unobtrusively folded into the tale. An excellent author's note provides further information about the times. Though the horrors of Andersonville and various Civil War-era events such as the Battle of Atlanta, Lincoln's assassination and the explosion of the steamboat Sultana provide wartime context, it's the secrets woven into the well-paced tale that will pull readers eagerly to the tearful conclusion. A superb Civil War tale of friendship, loyalty and what it means to be a man. (bibliography) (Historical fiction. 9-14)

Learn more about Kathy and her books by visiting her website: http://kathycannonwiechman.com

Leave a comment for us about the post for a chance to win a copy of Kathy's new book, Empty Places; or her first book, Like a River. That's all you have to do! Easy, right?

Want to increase your chances to win a book? Hop over to: www.carolbaldwinblog.blogspot.com and leave a comment there. 

Thanks for dropping by for the BOOK BIRTHDAY for EMPTY PLACES!!! And thank you so much, dear friends, for sharing a few words of your own.  The winner will be announced on Saturday, April 23rd.

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6531. ‘Dam Keeper’ Makers Return With New Film ‘Moom’ (Trailer)

Dice Tsutsumi and Robert Kondo's new short is based on a Japanese children's book.

The post ‘Dam Keeper’ Makers Return With New Film ‘Moom’ (Trailer) appeared first on Cartoon Brew.

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6532. My Thoughts: The Forbidden Library by Django Wexler

4 Double Chocolate Chip Cookies

Cover Love:  To be totally honest, I don't love this cover.  But I know it appeals to young readers because when I display this book it gets checked out a lot.

Why I Wanted to Read This:
This is one of those books I bought when it first came out because I knew I would want to read it myself (one of the biggest benefits of being a librarian).  Then it got buried in my immense TBR pile.  I have had quite a few students check out this and book #2 (The Mad Apprentice), but I still hadn't gotten around to reading it until I was contacted about book #3 and taking part in Penguin's blogging event around the release of book #3 (The Palace of Glass).  I read The Forbidden Library and am hooked on this series!  Here is the synopsis:
Alice always thought fairy tales had happy endings. That--along with everything else--changed the day she met her first fairy

When Alice's father goes down in a shipwreck, she is sent to live with her uncle Geryon--an uncle she's never heard of and knows nothing about. He lives in an enormous manor with a massive library that is off-limits to Alice. But then she meets a talking cat. And even for a rule-follower, when a talking cat sneaks you into a forbidden library and introduces you to an arrogant boy who dares you to open a book, it's hard to resist. Especially if you're a reader to begin with. Soon Alice finds herself INSIDE the book, and the only way out is to defeat the creature imprisoned within.

It seems her uncle is more than he says he is. But then so is Alice.
My Thoughts:
This was such an inventive idea.  There is a little of Inkheart, in that a person can read themselves into a book.  But it's not like they go into the story, it's like they become the story, or a big part of the story.  These people are called Readers.  And they can't go into just any book, it has to be special books.  Alice discovers she is Reader quite by accident.  But, as you get to know Alice you realize, SHE CAN HANDLE IT.  She is amazing, on the level of Hermione Granger.  She is practical and smart and keeps her head about her.  I LOVED Alice!  She is a problem solver and that makes for the best kind of Reader.

The catch with this awesome ability is that the books that Readers can enter are basically prisons for all manner of creatures and the only way for a Reader to get out is for another Reader to get them out...or they can defeat the creatures.  Along the way Alice meets Ashes, a talking cat, Isaac, another young reader and her "uncle" Geryon.  There are several other characters as well, and you just know that nobody is telling Alice the whole truth and that everyone has different motives for using Alice and her powers.  There is also a little of a "there can be only one" attitude by some of the older and more powerful Readers.

Alice has her own mystery to solve, that of what happened to her father.  This world she is thrust into would me many a person curl up in a corner and wait for death, but no Alice.  She takes it on and makes it her own.

To Sum Up:  Great middle grade fantasy book with interesting characters and an awesome premise.  I will be finishing this series soon!

Penguin has offered up a copy of each of the books in The Forbidden Library series including the third book, The Palace of Glass, which was just published.  Please enter below (US only).  I will pick a winner on Saturday April 23.

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6533. Comic: The Rejection

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6534. I’m in an Empire State of Mind*

Like my comrade, the illustrious scribe of Bibliodeviant, I will also traipse through a serial recount of *my* first New York ABAA Book Fair in a similar fashion and how the sideshow, that is Lux Mentis, embellishes the landscape of the book trade and book collecting like the carnival we seem to entertain. Inspired, though by the words of Mr. Kearns, I would like to address the idea of bookselling as identity and image briefly.

St. Catherine of Alexandria

Girl, get a grip

After working over 20 years in library land and visual arts culture, I’ve worn several hats. However, not just one will underscore my identity, which to some I apparently wear openly and ripe for criticism. We can model ourselves in such a way that the world might fantasize about librarians in that perverse and/or cryptic and ‘monkish’ kind of way, or we can shine bright like a diamond* with a freak flag of superb owning up to our singular individuality, our own individual prowess to flourish and thrive in this profession.


Basically, the same perception applies to hungry, curious, and experienced visitors at your book fair booth, in your house, your library, your bookshops. You never know what they might bring to the table. Same goes for your fellow booksellers. So, regardless if you have marked skin, blue hair, fancy tweeds, tortoise shell glasses or honest awkwardness, we corral a fierce sense of advocacy for printed and written matter that gives these manifestations of glory multi-generational lives that are passed through a series of hands, hearts, and minds. We have the opportunity to support and create libraries, research, passions, and histories for people, otherwise drowning in the mediocrity in the world. We will find success in those connections, rather than in a litany of judgment based on gender, appearance, and other personal identities.

I could further throw a tirade of shade*, but rather, let’s tunnel into the rabbit hole of New York. As others have mentioned, New York is on fire with grit and action, unlike any other metropolitan in the US, however like I mentioned in a previous blog, the city is a hotbed for bibliophilic intellectualism and performative ingenuity. The New York Antiquarian Book Fair is a force and now I know compared to the somewhat laissez-faire attitude of California (as least Pasadena), I understand why it operates as such. The Park Armory building is a gorgeous architectural example of late 19th century Gothic revival design suitably fitting to encase a labyrinthine maze of booksellers. I felt sort of enveloped in a skeletal shell, ironically housing the biblio-madness for the next few days.

Before set-up started on Wednesday, I can’t slide by without saluting a few notable events and people. Through a blizzard (ha!), we made our way through the quiet snow of Massachusetts to the insanely talented home of Michael Kuch, artist, to pick up the latest iteration of work debuting at the fair [images to follow]. We also lavished in the presence of Marvin Taylor and Charlotte Priddle at the Fales Library & Special Collections, NYU where I pawed around the stacks a bit, as well. Lastly, I would be lying if I wasn’t fidgeting like a 3 year old needing to pee, because I was able to see the Mystery and Benevolence exhibit at the American Folk Art Museum. Get your secret handshake on.

IMG_2511 IMG_2508 IMG_2506 IMG_2509 IMG_2514 IMG_2513 IMG_2507 AFAM

To be continued…[Next up, witness me!*]

*If any of you get my pop culture references, you are Gucci. Yes, I am a metalhead who listens to Ri-Ri.

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6535. Get Ready for a Dinosaur Dance!

My family and I are vacationing in Japan right now. It's our last day in Tokyo, and we've decided to chill out in the hotel for a little while before heading out into the city one more time. I've been working on some children's writing during our trip, and as only a children's writer might say, I've had dancing and dinosaurs on my mind this morning. Then lo and behold, I discovered this new board book -- Dinosaur Dance! -- by Sandra Boynton!

I've loved Sandra Boynton since my kids were little. They're 9 and 11 now, so we don't read too many board books these days. But Boynton's books bring back such great memories for me, and I still buy them as presents for friends who have babies and toddlers.

Dinosaur Dance isn't coming out until August, so I can't give it a proper review just yet. But, somehow, I am fully confident I will love it. Just wanted to let you know about it, too!

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6536. Author Interview: Sue Fliess on Calling All Cars

By Cynthia Leitich Smith
for Cynsations

Welcome to Cynsations! What was your initial inspiration for writing Calling All Cars (Sourcebooks, 2016)?

I wrote this book for my first son, Owen, who was obsessed (and that’s putting it mildly) with his Matchbox cars. He had about 75 of them, and by age 3, had given them all individual names.

We used to play a game where he’d close his eyes, and I would hand him one of the cars. He would feel it, and then tell me which of his cars it was. He never missed. He sometimes slept with them in his crib (I know, choking hazard! Once he was asleep, I removed them, okay?)

He even carried them everywhere he went. Once at the park, he buried one in the sand and then couldn’t find it. Not our finest hour.

What was the timeline between spark and publication, and what were the major events along the way?

As you know, there is a lot of rejection in this business. Well, considering my car-obsessed son will be 13(!) next week, I would say from spark to publication was about 10 years, give or take a year.

The only timing that could have been better for answering this question would be if he was now 16 and learning to drive.

A lot happens in 10 years. I actually thought Calling All Cars was going to be my first sale, but the editor who was championing it left before the editorial meeting.

I sold several more books and most of them even published before I sold this one.

Events…those Matchbox cars were soon shared with Owen’s baby brother, Wyatt. My children learned to use the potty. They learned to read. I gained and lost a lot of baby weight. I became an Aunt. We moved from an Audi to a Subaru to a minivan to an SUV. I could go on.

Like I said, 10 years is a long time.

What were the challenges—research, emotional, logistical—in bringing the cars to life?

Not too long after I started sending this manuscript out, Pixar came out with a little movie about cars—you may remember it—and I thought my story would never make it.

I mean, how could I compete with Lightning McQueen?

So I shelved it for a good bit of time. When I landed my agent in 2009, and sent her everything—good or bad—I’d written (my apologies to her for that!), and this was in the mix. She believed in it, and I’m thrilled that it found a home—and such a good one at that with Sourcebooks. The editor and illustrator nailed it!

What did Sarah Beise's illustrations offer to the text?

I think Sarah did a tremendous job of giving the cars different personalities through their drivers. I was a little worried that an illustrator might animate the cars and they would smack of that Pixar film I mentioned…but because she has animals driving the cars, we avoided that issue entirely.

And with any picture book, the illustrations go well beyond what the text is saying. There are penguins snorkeling and surfing in the background, hidden children’s toys, pigs in the wide car, a turtle in the slow car, lions in the King and Queen car, bugs in the Bug, and all sorts of other clever nuances….and best of all, if you line up every page horizontally, the road connects from start to finish.

Why animal characters?

My editor and I met and discussed the different options: animating the cars themselves, having people drive them (kids or adults), or animals. I was up for anything—and while people are fun, animals are just so much better. As a pet owner, I’m a bit biased.

I was really happy with the direction, and Sarah’s animals are cute and full of personality. It was the best outcome.

Is there anything you'd like to add?

This publishing ride has been an amazing one for me. I can remember in my pre-published days, visiting this great blog called Cynsations where I could get a sneak peek at all of the editors whom I was trying so hard to reach, on ‘the other side.’ And now, here I am, on the blog!

I’m honored. Thanks for having me.

Cynsational Notes

Big cars, small cars, let’s call ALL cars! This bouncy text explores the wonderful world of cars zipping up, down, fast, and slow. A perfect basic concept books for eager young learners from the author of Tons of Trucks. Then cruise into bedtime!

Rest cars, Hush cars
No more rush, cars.
Cars pull in, turn off the light.
Sweet dreams, sleepy cars...goodnight!

Filled with vibrant art, adorable animal characters, and cars of all kinds from love bugs to the demolition derby, Calling All Cars is for every child who loves to read about things that go! Surprise bonus—follow one long road throughout this vividly imagined world and don’t miss the hidden clues in the artwork!

Accompanying pictures are as follows: Sue’s yellow English Lab, Charlie; Sue’s home office; Sue’s son Owen playing with his matchbox cars; Sue in a DeLorean at an 80’s themed event at a Sonoma winery

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6537. Doctor Zhivago

Doctor Zhivago. Boris Pasternak. Translated by John Bayley. 1957. 592 pages. [Source: Library]

Doctor Zhivago is one of those books that I've "been meaning to read" for years now. Once I decided to actually read it, it took me just five days. "Actually" is a great little word, I've found.

So is the book like the movie? Or. Is the movie like the book? The book is a lot more complex than the movie, in my opinion. The movie seems to make everything about Dr. Zhivago and Lara, and the depths of their oh-so-amazing love. That is not the case in the book. (That's not to say that Lara isn't one of the major characters in the book, but, the book doesn't revolve around her.)

So essentially, the novel covers a little over three decades of Russian history. And those three decades are turbulent, bloody, terrifying, cruel. Probably three-quarters of the novel is set between the years 1910-1920.

If you come to the novel expecting a ROMANCE, then, chances are you'll be bored. It is "about" so much more than how a man feels about a woman.

Featured prominently in the novel: war, politics, revolution, religion, philosophy, economics, ethics, friendship, and, perhaps then love, romance, marriage, and family.

The main character is Doctor Zhivago (Yurii Andreievich Zhivago; aka Yura). Readers are first introduced to him at his mother's funeral. They learn that his father abandoned him and his mother. He'll be looked after by an uncle (Uncle Kolia). (This definitely varies from the movie.) As a teen, he and a friend (Misha Gordon) live with the Gromekos family. Yura later marries into this family, marries Tonia Gromeko. The start of World War I in 1914 disrupts his happy home.

Lara (Larisa Feodorovna Guishar) is another main character. While in the movie she is without a doubt the one and only love of Dr. Zhivago's life, in the book she plays a subtler role perhaps. Readers do spend some time with her through the decades. But then again readers spend a good amount of time with Tonia as well.

There is a third woman in Dr. Zhivago's life. A woman that the movie fails to portray at all. His "third wife" Marina (Marinka). He spends the most time (day-to-day, routine) with this 'third' family. They have two children together, and, he's there for the raising of them for the most part.

Some of his friendships are stabler than his love life. Though to be honest, this isn't completely his fault! Like when he's compelled (kidnapped) into the army during the Revolution. He was forcibly separated from his family, from returning to his family. (Part of me does wonder, if he hadn't been on the road--returning from the town to his country farm, returning from seeing Lara-- would he have been kidnapped? Would they have sought him anywhere he happened to be, since they knew there was a doctor in the region?) After he escapes, and the escape isn't quick in happening, he learns that his family has been deported to France. He's not exactly able to join them, and, yet, one wonders once again...IF he could join them, if he was granted permission from the country and allowed to leave Russia, and if he had the money to do so...would he? Or would he choose to remain in Russia and start a new life with Lara.

The story and the drama are certainly complex enough. At times I felt the characters were complex as well. At other times, I thought they were a bit flat and idealistic. I never really felt like I could "understand" the characters--understand their thought processes, motivations, and such.

I'm not sure I "liked" any of the characters in the traditional sense. But at the same time, I felt the story compelling enough. Especially if you go into it not expecting a romance. Plenty of tragedy, I suppose, if you want to look at it like that.

I don't think Dr. Zhivago's life turned out like he planned or hoped or dreamed. His life was interrupted and disrupted by outside forces, perhaps. In some ways, Doctor Zhivago reminded me of Gone With The Wind.

I am glad I read it. Have you read it? What did you think?
© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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6538. 6-Day Evernote Challenge

Heads up: Mystie Winckler’s free Evernote e-course starts today!


I really enjoyed Mystie’s Simplified Organization and Simplified Pantry courses. She’s kind of an Evernote genius.

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6539. J.K. Rowling Designs New Wands for Trio

This morning, J.K. Rowling tweeted from London. After being up all night with a “Robert-related brainwave” that made the insomnia worth it, our tired beloved author made her way to Cursed Child rehearsals.


After arriving at rehearsals, Jo released to her fans on twitter a sketch she had drawn for the play. A sketch of new wand designs for the Trio (Harry, Ron, Hermione), Draco, and Ginny.


Now, before everyone gets their panties in a bunch, I’ve been thinking about this for the last few hours, and once again Jo is not breaking canon, though that initially may appear to be the case. 

As much as we love to movies, Jo’s canon resides primarily in her books. Hermoine may be white in the movies, but according to the books she can be any ethnicity or nationality the reader imagines–and often the ethnicity the reader most identifies with. (Before all of you start pointing to chapter 21 in Prisoner of Azkaban, “white face” is a euphemism for scared. Chapter 4 of the same book reads, “They were there, both of them, sitting outside Florean Fortescue’s Ice Cream Parlor — Ron looking incredibly freckly, Hermione very brown, both waving frantically at him.” She could be tanned, or she could be naturally darker skinned. Arguably, Hermione can be any race–it’s never directly specified. Does it really matter? NO.)

The wands described in the books give readers the wood and core materials and the length. Nothing is mentioned about design. In the first two Harry Potter films, Chirs Columbus opted to make everyone’s wands fairly similar in design. Alfonso Cuaron first brought uniquely designed wands to the films in Prisoner of Azkaban. Whether you love or hate the third movie, it was revolutionary with how the Potter books were portrayed on film, and did deviate from Jo’s world (though Jo did give her approval on the variations).

The materials of the five wands are still the same, as well as the length. For the first time, we are seeing the wands of the five main characters as Jo envisioned them.

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6540. Life Drawing

I've been life drawing a couple of times recently, a little rusty, but a really good 'brain workout'!

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6541. Knitting Sheep and Throwing Muck!

Here is the latest piece of artwork from Class One Farmyard Fun!, hot off the press:

I am gradually creeping forwards, though it's taking longer than I would like. So many fiddly bits! I am rather pleased with the effect of the muck heap though. My favourite bit on this one is the knitting sheep though. And I really like how the cockerel colours contrast so well against the background:

This is spread 3, coming directly after the artwork I showed you last. You can see Julia's text on the rough which, as usual, was tacked to my drawing board directly above the artwork as I worked, to allow me to keep checking the details of what I was creating, because of course, when you use pastels, a lot of that detail from the pencil drawing gets obliterated:

It's useful, taking a photo of the artwork once it's done. I hadn't realised this before but, seeing it reduced like this really helps me to spot things I've missed. A book like this is a bit of a nightmare, making sure I have coloured every tiny shoe, not missed out any hands, left off any freckles etc. I can see, looking at this artwork, I have forgotten the eyebrows on the lad throwing the muck at his classmate, so he doesn't look quite naughty enough. I'll just go and fix that...

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6542. Spotlight on Emerge, Plus Giveaway!

  Today we're putting a spotlight on Tobie Easton's novel, Emerge. Read on for more about Tobie, her debut novel, an excerpt, behind the scenes video, plus a giveaway!         Meet Emerge! Lia Nautilus may be a Mermaid but she's never lived in the ocean. War has ravaged the...

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6543. Synopsis 49

This synopsis came with the query for Alcoholic Angel (Face-Lift 1311). The author may have been under the mistaken impression that including a synopsis eliminated the need to summarize the plot in the query letter. Unfortunately, this also does't summarize the plot, and doesn't meet the definition of a synopsis.


Once or twice upon a time, a book offers sane  solutions for life-threatening ailments.  “Alcoholic Angel and how to find your very own miracle”  draws  from  Asian  wisdom, common sense,   western science,  and miracles to produce  healing outcomes.   Funny quotes are in the m/s because   humor   helps healing.  However the world is seriously  sick, and it’s no laughing matter that  millions of us   are dying  too soon.    Even  presidents and prime ministers don’t   confront   the  horrifying consequences  of  over-eating, alcoholism,  drug addictions.   In terms of  leadership, Pope Francis stands above all.  Broken folks  get  hope from this Pope.
   Tia Crowe, half  an American Indian and  my  “Alcoholic Angel”,   died  at a Portland  OR teaching hospital on 8-30-12   of cirrhosis of the  liver. Death visited  on her  32nd birthday.  Happy birthday, baby.
                            PICK-UP GAMES AT PIRATE CITY       12   
                                                            SEIZURE                 39
                                                      BALL GAME BLUES     44
                                              FOREVER TOGETHER        51
                                                                     Butt Out           57
                                                           Flight of an Angel      61
                                                                  The TEACHER    69
                                                         LIFE AFTER  LIFE      75
                                                         I’M AN ALCOHOLIC     77
                                                   “Evil” Drugs – the Pope     93   
                                                               Mork from Ork       100       
                                             POT HEADS  PREVAIL       113 
                                                HEROIN EPIDEMIC    122
                                            INTIMATE ENEMIES         124
                                                 Alcohol related rape     133
                                           WHY COUPLES  FIGHT     139
                                                               EXERCISE     144
                                                  SITTING DISEASE      154
                                                   Body by Hannah         159
                                                        Dancing Queen        165
                                      SEX QUESTIONS ANSWERED   171
                                                   GIFT OF Balance         1
                                                      ART OF EATING        191
                                                   KEFIR – Gutsy Food     205
                        SUGAR & ARTIFICIAL  sweeteners           210
                                                                SPLENDA           212
                                                 WHY HEARTS ATTACK   228
                                      CANCER Alfredo       231
                                      COFFEE &  TEA       236
                              SALT  &  STROKES         240                                      
                    HEALING A PRESIDENT          258
                                  LOSE WEIGHT          266          
                                             MEDITATION     304                                                                                                                 
                                       DENTAL GONE MENTAL   310
                                      THE  POWER OF CHI      323
                                                   Tai Chi                  333
                                                    Chakras               337            
                                             DRUG STORY           340 
                 DEATH  DOWN MEXICO WAY             350
                MIRACLE GIRLS FROM G-D                 364                           
                            THESE DOCTORS ARE IN        367
                 FINDING  YOUR very Own MIRACLE   379 

The Girlfriend:    “Shane, I am grieving with you. I should have called and talked to her, or been around more. I can spend all day regretting things I shouldn't have done and things I should have.   I will  always have her in my memories. She exuded an energy that was beautiful and contagious. It is a sad thing to see, but with death sometimes your card just comes up when you think it wouldn't,  and sometimes your card doesn't come up when you wish it would.   But there is a reason for everything. I don't understand it;  no one does. I don't want to understand. That's the mystery of life.  Death is a continuation of  the mystery.    – Casey Pitt, Bradenton\

 THE TEACHER: “This caught me by terrible surprise. With the karate, the care and concern for her kids, and reading about her problem, Tia  seemed to be on a healthy road to recovery and healing.  I am heartbroken. My old boss and  friend  from years ago and another life, told me the wisest (and most helpful) words when dealing with my own loss:  "Let no one dictate to you how or how long  you grieve.    Your story is a  loving tribute to the life of a wonderful and beautiful friend and partner;  someone of  tremendously kind, generous, and uplifting energy who departed much too soon.  Words are not worthy when it comes to grief, but two quotes have always stood out to me  as wise and helpful.”
 “Though lovers be lost, love shall not; and death shall have no dominion.”  - Dylan 
  “Death leaves a heartache no one can heal.  Love leaves a memory no one can steal.”   - tombstone in Ireland.

            Only a sick society would continue to allow the most  destructive drug of them all to remain legal.     Not just legal but pushed on society at all levels to essentially all ages  via  sponsoring  sports events everywhere.  And this government and this society  sit  back and  do nothing as the carnage of destroyed lives is everywhere.         
                                                     --  Wes Bagby,  Morgantown WV
 THE THERAPIST:    “When I heard about Tia, I felt sad. Alcoholism is alcoholism is alcoholism.   Insidious. Was more help available? Of course, but Shane, alcoholics know what help is available and they know what they're ready to accept or reject. Tia apparently needed your love before she needed to be free of alcohol. Sorry about that,  but for all I know she may have been the wisest of the wise.  For isn't love the greatest gift?   That you loved her the way SHE needed  to be loved was the only Rx that made sense to her.  Apparently, in giving her that, you gave her life.   Tia’s drinking was horrifying, but her life also was wonderful and complex, challenging and joyful.”


I am standing upon the seashore.
A ship at my side spreads her white sails to the morning
breeze and starts for the blue ocean.
She is an object of beauty and strength,
and I stand and watch until at last she hangs
like a speck of white cloud
just where the sea and sky come down to mingle
with each other. Then someone at my side says,
"There, she is gone."
Gone where?
Gone from my sight . . . that is all.

She is just as large in mast and hull
as she was when she left my side
and just as able to bear her load of living freight
to the place of destination.
Her   diminished size is in me, not in her.
And just at the moment
when someone at my side says,
 ‘there she is gone!’
There are other eyes  watching her coming . . .
and other voices ready to take up the glad shout . . .
"Here she comes!"        
And that is dying.           -Henry Van Dyke


A synopsis summarizes the plot. How long it should be depends on the guidelines of whoever has been foolish enough to request it. 

If the book is straight nonfiction, the contents might be included, though the chapter titles would have to be more informative than most of these are to make that useful. In any case, as the query states that this book includes a love story and would make a great movie, it apparently isn't the type of book whose table of contents we need to see.

No idea why you include a poem, especially one by someone other than yourself.

If those quotations are from actual people who wrote to you, rather than fictional characters, they aren't telling us anything about your writing ability.

In fact, pretty much none of this belongs in a synopsis. It's a lot of writing (of which very little may be by the book's author) from which I take away only that your book was inspired by the death of a woman due to alcoholism. You need to tell the story. In your own words.

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6544. Scarlett Johansson in Ghost in the Shell -The Controversy?

Well, "Japanese do not care about Scarlett Johansson -she's an ugly European!" is what Riuchi wrote on one site

Kotaku.com has an interesting item by Brian Ashcraft.

The Japanese Internet Reacts to Scarlett Johansson in Ghost in the Shell 

The Japanese Internet Reacts to Scarlett Johansson in Ghost in the Shell 
[Image: Paramount Pictures | Production I.G]
Last week, the world got its first look at Scarlett Johansson as Major Kusanagi in Hollywood’s upcoming Ghost in the Shell movie. The decision has been controversial in the West, and here is what some, certainly not all, of the folks online in Japan are saying.

The decision to cast Johansson as Motoko Kusanagi, an augmented-cybernetic Japanese woman, has led to whitewashing criticism. The movie’s producers even considered making the film’s white lead look more Asian via CG special effects. Yikes.

Via threads on Japan’s biggest bulletin board 2ch (here, here, and here) and My Game News Flash, one of Japan’s biggest game blogs, below is a cross-section collection of some of the comments floating around Japanese cyberspace.

A couple of things to unpack. While My Game News Flash writes that there has largely been indifference in Japan to the decision to have a white actor play Kusanagi, do keep in mind, these comments should ultimately be seen as representative of the individuals who made them, so your mileage might vary.

Another thing to keep in mind is that many Asian people living in Asia might have a different perspective on race issues than those living in the West. Also, opinions of the Japanese internet might not reflect society’s at large, but regardless, here we go.....

You want to see those comments and who some think should be playing the character?  You'll need to go to Kotaku.com: http://kotaku.com/the-japanese-internet-reacts-to-scarlet-johansson-in-gh-1771544034?utm_campaign=Socialflow_Kotaku_Facebook&utm_source=Kotaku_Facebook&utm_medium=Socialflow

You really do have to ask what Hollywood thinks it is doing? I did like the comment that "ten years ago it would have been Mila Jovovich".  But we have recently endured the "Whiting" of ancient Egyptians in Gods Of Egypt -and you need to go to You Tube and check out Comicbookgirl19s review of that!

But none of this is new. Howard Hawkes' 1955 epic Land of the Pharaohs had British actor Jack Hawkins as the Pharoah -you could go on page after page about this but it won't change anything. Hawkins and his fellow Brits were used because they "sounded foreign with their clipped British accents" -why is it "racial stereotyping such as making British actors all villains goes unmentioned? - and, of course, they were "White".  
I once got into a conversation about Land of the Pharaohs with an American who did film reviews for UK magazines and he put it simply: "1955. How many Americans -the ones Hollywood counted as important at the box office- would have gone to see that movie if there had been Black or mixed race actors in those parts?  1956. Cecil B. DeMille's The Ten Commandments -how many Americans would have gone to see that if it was even a Jew as Moses instead of Charlton Heston? Yul Brynner as Rameses was a Black as they were willing to go. ****! Black actors and half the States would have banned the movies!"

2015 and 2016 and we are STILL doing this?  Hey, they were thinking of CGI to make Johansson, who I like, look "more Japanese" which is a step up from using tape and take up to "slant eyes".  I have always found Japanese horror movies, such as The Ring far more atmospheric and scary than the US versions but people do not like reading subtitles.  They want American voices speaking English -hey, make 'em in America!  I was going to say "Look how 'well' the Godzilla movies went" but realised they fecked up King Kong in a MAJOR way so.

But we are in the 21st Century, folks.  We ARE in the 21st, right?  Well, anyway, and let's not go into 1970s or 1980s examples here, "blacking up" an actor is no long correct (even the Jazz Singer -the first "talkie" with Al Jolson which was relevant to that period when Minstrel shows and "blacking up" were part of entertainment and, oddly, these performers were on the same stages as "blacks" when "allowed" later on -calls to never show it again. That argument is going to rage on for a while).  Yet "Black" comedians (I use that words very loosely) can "White-up" and even portray, very badly, women in a sexist manner (White Chicks, 2004).

You see, this could be a major debate and I am not going to get involved since I've already been called (by people out to cause trouble on CBO) a racist three times this year over my writing that for me Steve Rogers is the Captain America.

We've had Chinese actors playing Japanese and Japanese playing Chinese (again, I am stepping well away from the arguments those portrayals caused in China and Japan). "Looks Asian -she/he can be a Jap!" I can't remember the actress that was said about but I read, many years ago now, that when the producer and director asked her "Can you play a Jap?" she replied "It will be difficult but I'm sure you can guide me" -no one had pointed out (probably because of her Westernised name) or even asked but she was Japanese.  

British actor Burt Kwouk has appeared in James Bond films, TV shows and more over more than 50 years and he has portrayed Japanese, Korean as well as Chinese -in fact it came down to the most awful racism at times what parts he got because some director would say "We need some actor with slant eyes" or even simply "You're a Korean in this!"/"You are a Fillipino"/"You are Japanese" or "You are Chinese in this" -and not the merest hint of irony. http://www.screenonline.org.uk/people/id/504436/index.html

People are suggesting that a better choice than Johansson would have been Ming-Na Wen "She's smoking!" at which point I need to point out that she is from Macao a Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China.
So Chinese playing Japanese again -if people realise Ming-Na wen is Chinese or Macaoan.

Seriously, Japanese actresses could be found but Hollywood is "catering for its audience" and Johansson is a good actress and has a following and as one Japanese person pointed out: "Johansson does shampoo commercials in Japan so she's known" Yes. But not Japanese. If a movie studio in 2016 cannot be bothered to find a Japanese actress to play a Japanese woman then it is because of its, and its intended audiences, perceived prejudices.

It's caused an uproar.

It's created huge amounts of publicity for a movie not many had heard of before.  Almost as though planned....

Win-win for the studio.

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6545. Eyebrows and Face Recognition

Do you recognize these two people? In both photographs, the eyebrows have been removed. 

Here are the photos of the same faces. Is it easier to recognize them this way? This time the eyes have been digitally removed instead of the eyebrows. (Hint: one is a politician, and the other an actor) 

Richard Nixon and Winona Ryder
Scientists have done facial recognition experiments where subjects were presented with many faces altered to have either the eyebrows or the eyes removed. It turns out that subjects perform better on faces with no eyes, compared to faces with no eyebrows. 

As the authors put it, "The absence of eyebrows in familiar faces leads to a very large and significant disruption in recognition performance."

This came as a surprise to me, since I have always assumed that the eyes were the most important elements to help us recognize and remember a face, with the mouth being perhaps second most important.

Anselm van Hulle, 1649. Anna Margareta
It's remarkable that humans of both sexes have these patches of hair on our faces, compared to primates who generally have more facial hair. The muscles controlling their movement are sophisticated and largely unconscious. We express much about our emotional state to others, even at long distances away. This central role as a social signaler may be related to why eyebrows are also so important for recognition.

The authors of the paper note that:
"During the 18th century, in fact, in Western Europe full eyebrows were considered so essential to facial beauty that some upper-class women and courtiers would affix mouse hide to their foreheads. The perceived importance of the eyebrows for enhancing beauty has not waned to this day. Currently, it is relatively common cosmetic practice to use tweezers or depilatories to narrow and accentuate the arch of the eyebrows, as well as to remove any hair at the bridge of the nose. Cosmetics may also be used to alter the color (especially the darkness) and exaggerate the shape and length of the eyebrows."
J. Sadr, I. Jarudi, and P. Sinha, B, The role of eyebrows in face recognition, [Perception, vol. 32, pp. 285–293, 2003.

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6546. #AtoZChallenge, O is for Ordinary

First things first: I didn't paint this picture I glued onto today's journal entry, but I sure wish I did. Unfortunately I can't even tell you who the artist is--one of the hazards of cutting out pictures from old magazines without paying too much attention to the credits.

Whatever its history, though, looking at this calm and colorful scene makes me happy. I like to imagine the people who live in this house and how they got there. It's the kind of dream-house they used to feature in old movies; any minute I expect Cary Grant to come laughing through the door, or Olivia de Havilland with a basket of freshly-cut roses hanging from her arm. In many ways, the scene is perfectly ordinary: a country home, an open door, a sunny day. Nothing special. And that's what makes it so appealing to me. 

Of course, I could be completely wrong, and all kinds of extraordinary things could have occurred here that have nothing to do with the peaceful life I envision. For instance, the family who lives here might be sick to death of the place and say things like, "That view is so dull! Why don't we concrete in the grass and install a Ferris Wheel?" Or, "Please don't play the piano again tonight, Jolyon. If I hear Claire de Lune one more time I'll have you committed."

And that's just for starters. What if Jolyon the piano player gets so mad he strangles the woman who hates Clair de Lune? Or war has just been declared and the entire family has fled the house without even turning off the lights? Or a flying saucer has abducted everyone except the youngest child and his nanny? Appearances can be deceiving. You just never know; what might appear ordinary to one person could be absolutely mind-staggering to another.

Which is what makes the ordinary such an interesting topic to explore in our journals. How ordinary is ordinary? Maybe it's only the way we perceive it. For instance my commute to work has become so boring to me I'm on auto-pilot half the time, but to someone from out of town they might think: Albuquerque! What a charming place to live! Or when I go shopping for groceries and buy milk and eggs and ice cream again, another shopper might be thinking: Ice cream. Milk and eggs for cake. She must be throwing a party. What we take for granted as dull and routine might stir someone else's imagination in a wholly new, and unexpected direction.

Some of the ways I like to experiment with being that "someone else" is to:

  • Drive down unfamiliar streets. Take note of the architecture and general ambience. Park and journal for a bit.
  • Buy some grocery items I often ignore. Cook them, taste them, write!
  • Look for the beauty in "clutter": a sink of dirty dishes, a pile of laundry: what's the story? How could I turn that into an interesting drawing or painting?
  • Go to clothing or other kinds of stores I don't usually shop at. I'm a huge fan of window-shopping, but sometimes it's fun to surprise myself with some new and out-of-character purchases.
  • Check out some library books on subjects that I've always considered difficult or unappealing. Getting out of my reading/creative comfort zone has lead me to subjects I would never have considered before and that I've grown to thoroughly enjoy.

At the same time, it's important to keep in mind that there's also a unique and special beauty in the ordinary. Not only can it be secure and comforting, but it can also be what provides you with a firm bedrock for your creative endeavors. A clean and bright workspace, a well-organized manuscript and WIP notebook, paints and pencils where you can find them . . . celebrate it all in your journal with colors, sketches, collages, and words.  

Tip of the Day: Another good use of your art journal is to break free of the ordinary. For instance, explore new mediums or color combinations. Go through "dull" magazines for counter-intuitive inspiration and unexpected images to cut-out. Or make a list of all your "ordinary" activities and look for ways to jazz them up.

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6547. Spring fashion

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6548. Poems in the Attic, by Nikki Grimes: memories glued with words (ages 6-9)

I have loved sharing Nikki Grimes' poetry and stories with students for years, and am delighted to share her most recent picture book today. Poems in the Attic shows how poetry can capture memories and connect generations together, as a young girl reads about her mother's childhood memories. Please join me later this week on Wednesday for an interview with Grimes.

Poems in the Attic
by Nikki Grimes
illustrated by Elizabeth Zunon
audiobook narrated by Sisi Aisha Johnson
Lee & Low Books, 2015
audiobook, Recorded Books, 2015
Your local library
ages 6-9
While visiting her grandma, a seven-year-old girl discovers a cedar box filled with poems--written by her own mother when she was a girl. The girl today writes her own free verse, sharing her discoveries about her mother.
"Grandma's attic is stacked with secrets"
The story unfolds with alternating voices, between the young girl and her mother's poems. Her mother describes her childhood experiences traveling from California to Alaska, and Germany to Japan as a military child.
"Memories can be like sandcastles
the waves wash away.
My mama glued her memories with words
so they would last forever."
I especially love the way the alternating voices let the poems show both internal reflections and special memories. In the page above, the modern young girl contemplates on the way words can "glue her (mother's) memories," so they last and can be shared. The mother's poem brings to life the memory of a special night outing with her dad. These memories act like Wordsworth's "spot of time," helping us savor the moment.

I have enjoyed sharing the picture book, with Elizabeth Zunon's warm illustrations. I have just listened to the audiobook and it's a delightful way to share this story, as well. Sisi Aisha Johnson conveys both the light, young voice of the narrator as well as the gentle, joyous rhythm of the poetry. In my view, the audiobook will work best in companion with the picture book, letting children read and hear the story at the same time.

Please join me on Wednesday for an interview with Nikki Grimes, as part of my series interviewing California poets for young people. The review copies were kindly sent by the publisher, Lee & Low Books. If you make a purchase using the Amazon links on this site, a small portion goes to Great Kid Books. Thank you for your support.

©2016 Mary Ann Scheuer, Great Kid Books

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6549. LA16 Conference Banner

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6550. Adventures in Dating

Episode 5,628:










Episode 287:



Episode 1,422



Episode 8,947:



Episode 7,554:











I have the WORST luck in dating and I can’t figure out why!!


The post Adventures in Dating appeared first on Story Monster.

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