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6526. Legos! Space Telescopes! Sulu! Rutgers University Hosts “Geek Week” on Campus!

GeekWeekEp4Banner1Rutgers University, the state university of New Jersey, is hosting their fourth annual Geek Week on campus!

Yes.  GEEK.  Not “Greek”, but maybe Klingon…

As their website explains:

Geek Week is an annual week of events celebrating all things “geeky” at Rutgers University. From tabletop and video gaming, to music, cosplay, academic panels based on gender and ethnic diversity, and more, Rutgers Geek Week has been nationally recognized by organizations such as ACPA and San Diego Comic-Con, and featured guests such as Chris Hardwick, Nick Offerman, and Tory and Kari of Mythbusters. By focusing on the students and their passions, Geek Week seeks to make meaningful differences in students lives by providing opportunities for them to find community, be accepted, and gain exposure to non-familiar topics and experiences in geek culture.

There are lots of events scheduled!


Sunday – March 22

Knight Slash 10

It’s the tenth one! Going five years strong, Knight Slash is a semesterly tournament organized by the Underground Gaming Society featuring games such as Persona 4 Arena, Super Smash Bros Melee, Project M, and many others. If you feel like you’re the best of the best, here’s your opportunity to show it!

Location & Time: Livingston Student Center, 12:00pm

Monday – March 23

Rutgers University Art Library, Speakers, Snacks, and Legos for Geek Week.

Krista White, Digital Humanities Librarian at Rutgers University- Newark and Zara Wilkinson, Reference and Instruction Librarian at Rutgers University- Camden will be speaking at the Rutgers University Art Library. Please stop by the Art Library any time during open hours to create a model at the Art Library Lego Playing Station.

Digital Humanities Librarian Krista White will discuss her involvement with the small press, indie tabletop RPG gaming scene. Krista is the co-founder of Galileo Games, Inc., publisher of “Bulldogs!: Scifi that Kicks Ass,” “How We Came to Live Here,” “Mortal Coil” and “Shelter in Place.” Krista invented KristaCon, a LongCon format for playing robust, tabletop role playing games at conventions. She’ll be in the Art Library to talk about the indie RPG scene and answer questions about gaming and publishing.

Zara Wilkinson, Reference and Instruction Librarian at Rutgers University-Camden, will discuss the depiction of female characters in comics and comics adapted to other media.  In 2015, Zara was the co-organizer of Buffy to Batgirl, an academic conference devoted to women in science fiction, fantasy, and comics. Buffy to Batgirl was attended by over 150 scholars and students. Zara also organizes events at Camden Comic Con, Camden’s first comics convention, which is held annually on the Rutgers-Camden campus in Camden, NJ.

Location: Rutgers University Art Library
Time: 1:30PM

Geek Week Trivia Night : One Quiz to Rule Them All!

Come out and enjoy an awesome night of geeky trivia! We’ll have questions covering the wide breadth of geekdom, everything from Star Wars to Game of Thrones, tabletop gaming to Internet culture. Bring your friends and compete as a team (up to four members) or come to meet some fellow geeks! The top three teams will win some fun prizes! 

1st Place: Reserved Front Row Seats for George Takei’s lecture on Wednesday, Rutgers Cinema Movie passes, and Geek Week Prize packs for each team member!

2nd Place: Rutgers Cinema Movie passes, and Geek Week Prize packs for each team member!

3rd Place: Geek Week Prize packs for each team member!

To pre-register and reserve your spot, click here!

Location: Livingston Student Center, Coffeehouse
Time: 8:00PM

Tuesday – March 24

NASA scientist Dr. H. Philip Stahl Lecture

Prominent NASA scientist Dr. H. Philip Stahl will be presenting about the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), which will be the world’s largest telescope when launched. Dr. Stahl is the 2015 Immediate Past President of the International Society for Optics and Photonics (SPIE) Student Chapter and an Optics Lead for the JWST. The lecture will take place on Tuesday, March 24th at 5 pm in the Fiber Optics Auditorium on Busch Campus. There will be a “meet and greet” with light refreshments at 4:30 pm, and a sandwich dinner at 6 pm. The event is co-hosted with Rutgers SPIE Student Chapter and Rutgers SciFest, and is part of the Rutgers Geek Week itinerary.

Location: Fiber Optics Auditorium, Busch Campus
Time: 4:30PM Meet & Greet, 5:00PM Lecture, 6:00PM Sandwich Dinner

Nerd Girl Panel

Join us at our annual Nerd Girl Panel where this year we are confronting misogyny in nerd culture with topics ranging from GamerGate to Cosplay is Not Consent. Come be a part of the conversation with panelists from across the nation bringing riveting stories related to their first-hand exposure to misogyny through their work as YouTube personalities, film director, and social justice and comics bloggers.

This year’s panel features panelists from the YouTube sensation Video Game High School, Rocket Jump Studios’ Lauren Haroutunian; Danni Danger of the The Valkyries and Weird Girls YouTube Channel; Mikki Kendall, founder of HoodFeminism.com; and Ivy Noelle Weir of The Valkyries and Women Write About ComicsClick here for more information on the panelists.

Location: Douglass Student Center, Trayes Hall
Time: 8:00PM

Wednesday – March 25
An Evening With George Takei [SOLD OUT]

2014 Sundance Film Festival - George Takei PortraitsOhhh Myyy! We are ecstatic to have the legendary George Takei as our keynote. With his work all over the spectrum from the sci-fi hits Star Trek and Heroes, his social media empire, LGBTQ activism, bestselling books, and a musical theater project on Japanese internment camps, he has a mega-ton to share!

Spend a captivating evening with the legendary George Takei. Hear how this award winning author, star of the sci-fi hits Star Trek and Heroes, an LGBTQ activist, and Japanese internment camp survivor uses his personal stories and social media empire to educate and inspire others. 

This event is free, but guests are encouraged to secure a ticket in advance by visiting rupa.rutgers.edu. Tickets will be available on Monday, March 2 at 2PM. This event is open to the public with a limited number of tickets available for non-Rutgers students. 

George Takei Event Ticket Policy:

Limit TWO (2) tickets per person.
There are a limited amount of guest tickets available for this event.
Guests DO NOT need to be accompanied by a Rutgers student.
Anyone under 18 MUST be accompanied by an adult.
Everyone should have some form of identification when checking in at the event.

Parking Information:
Visitors to the University may park in Lots 26, 30 (behind the College Avenue Gym) & College Avenue Deck without permits. Faculty, Staff, and Students must park only in lots they are authorized to park in.

This event is proudly co-sponsored by RUPA, Rutgers Geek Week, Student Life, SciFest, Center for Social Justice Education & LGBT Communities, and the Asian American Cultural Center.

This event is the keynote lecture for Rutgers Geek Week, GAYpril, and Asian Pacific American Heritage Month. For a full listing of Geek Week events, visit geekweek.rutgers.edu.

Location: College Avenue Gym
Time: 8:00PM

Thursday – March 26 
Movie Night!

Join us for a free movie with all your nerdy friends. Title TBD.

Location: Rutgers Cinema, Livingston Campus
: 8:00PM

Friday – March 27
Night of the Living Costume Dance Party, Part IV

As always,we try to pack as much geeky awesomeness as possible into one single night. Amazing musical guests, game swaps, gaming tournaments, a costume contest, geeky vendors, tons of food and so much more.

This year’s Night of the Living Costume Dance Party will feature live art performances from the nationally acclaimed Super Art Fight collective, as well as live music from Wizard Folk Rocker Lauren Fairweather, and nerdcore rap from Tribe One and Adam WarRockClick herefor more information on the performers!

We will also feature geeky vendors from Super Sox Shop, Sprites of PassageTwinny Shoppe, and Frosted Treats. Click here for more information on the vendors!

Harry Potter Alliance’s annual book drive, Accio books, will also be collecting books at the finale event to promote literacy all over the world. Last year alone, 53,000 books were donated, thousands of which were sent to an “Apparating Library” in Detroit’s Brightmoor Community Center. While we don’t yet know which community will be chosen as this year’s target site, Muggle Mayhem hopes to join in on the action, and we hope you’ll help us! You’ll even get a nifty pin in the process!

The Board Gaming Club will also be running their Board Game Appreciation Night with gamers of all experience levels. All are welcome, if you’ve never even played Monopoly or you’re the traitor snubbing, city building, dice rolling king of all things cardboard and plastic on a table!

It’s nerd nirvana! Don’t miss it.

Location: Busch Student Center, MPR
Time: 8:00PM

Saturday – March 28
RU SciFest

SciFest is an afternoon-long event celebrating the fun in science.  Our day starts with demonstrations by Mad Science in ARC 103, followed by an open series of interactive “sidewalk science” activities put on by a collaboration of Rutgers science clubs, held in the Life Sciences Building (with free food!).  Our finale in ARC 103 will feature the Chemistry Department’s own Bob Porcja in an explosive presentation.  At the end of SciFest, we will raffle off a variety of science-themed prizes!

Location & Times: Busch Campus

Allison Road Classroom Building (11:15AM-12:30PM)

Life Science Building Atrium (12:30PM-2:45PM, food served at 1:00PM)
Allison Road Classroom (2:45PM-5:00PM)

Rutgers eSports presents The Scarlet Classic

The Scarlet Classic is the first large-scale tournament held by Rutgers eSports. The tournament runs from the afternoon to the late evening and features 6 of the most prominent eSports in the Rutgers community and the world. These include: Super Smash Bros. Melee, Dota 2, League of Legends, Starcraft II, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, and Hearthstone. Attendees will participate and spectate at least one grand final set for each eSport. Anyone who is interested in participating or spectating at the event should visit esports.rutgers.io for more info.

Entry is open to everyone in the Rutgers eSports community. Prizes are the glory of winning the Scarlet Classic and possibly other prizes.

Location & Time: Livingston Student Center, 4:00pm


10994328_988761194487068_6777270603511126274_oRUPA is sponsoring a fundraiser for the American Cancer Society.

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6527. on compassion and (also) on negating our shame culture (Monica Lewinsky)

This morning I did that thing I love to do—plop on the couch, pull the fuzzy blanket to my chin, and read the New York Times online. It is one of my limited online reads. I value the words as much as the multimedia links.

Perhaps because I just finished writing and sharing a piece (in today's Chicago Tribune) on the empathetic imagination, perhaps because I teach memoir largely because I believe that teaching memoir is (or can be) akin to teaching compassion, perhaps because I have lived in shadows, too, been attacked, yearned for intervening empathy, the first two Times pieces I read today were compassion invested. The first, titled "The Brain's Empathy Gap" (Jeneen Interlandi), reports on studies designed to answer questions like: "How much of our empathy is innate and how much is instilled in us by our environment?" and "Why does understanding what someone else feels not always translate to being concerned with their welfare?" I recommend the read.

The second story, by Jessica Bennett, led me to this recent TED talk by Monica Lewinsky (yes, it was a busy week and I'm only catching up on this now; don't, as my student recently wrote, judge me), which I watched in its entirety. Brave, bold, bracing, Lewinsky reports from the depths of a personal hell and from the realities of a humiliation culture (as she puts it) that is shameful to us all.

Anyone who is out here in any public way—writing books, making songs, sharing ideas, blogging—knows that the risks are enormous. We see how a nano-second of inarticulate self-searching can become a Twitter storm. We see how a straying from the pact or pack opens the door to virtual mobster hatred. We see how a careless, insensitive Tweet can rearrange a life. And we see the opposite, too—how ideas or art or stories that do not conform to prevailing notions of cool, branded, or trending can go unseen, unheard, unheralded—which is, let's face it, a kind of humiliation, too.

Oh, it takes time to listen. Oh, it is so easy to judge. Oh, we can, from the protected privacy of our keyboard feel so empowered. Oh, anonymity is a sword.

But why build a world of cruelty when you can build a world of good? I laud Monica Lewinsky for asking that question. For standing up. For leaving the shadows.

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6528. Books to encourage family adventures outdoors

Ever wanted to be a little more adventurous with your family? To take on the role of intrepid outdoor explorers? To feel inspired to leave the cosy comforts and instantly gratifying screens indoors for the wind in your hair and the sun on your face?

100 Family Adventures by Tim, Kerry, Amy and Ella Meek and Wild Adventures by Mick Manning and Brita Granström might be just the books to encourage you -and crucially your children – to wrap up warm and head for the great outdoors.


Both books offer up a banquet of ideas for family activities and explorations outdoors ranging from building dens with branches and leaves to sleeping outdoors without a tent, from fishing for your supper to foraging for food from hedgerows, from flying kites to learning to kayak.

The Meek Family have taken a year off from their regular jobs and schools to spend 12 months adventuring around the UK in a camper van (you can follow their journey on their blog). 100 Family Adventures is their first book and draws upon their experience of making a conscious effort to spend more time outdoors as a family. As well as 100 activities, there are jokes, tips and facts contributed by the entire family, including the children.

In Wild Adventures, Mick Manning and Brita Granström also draw upon the outdoor play and activities they enjoy with their four children, and whilst there is some overlap in the projects suggested in the two books, the approach taken in each is quite different.

Making and sleeping in a homemade shelter: 100 Family Adventures

Making and sleeping in a homemade shelter: 100 Family Adventures

Shelters: Wild Adventures

Shelters: Wild Adventures

100 Family Adventures is full of photos of the Meek family and their friends doing the activities suggested, whilst Wild Adventures is richly hand illustrated in pencil and watercolour, giving it a hand-made feel rather than something rather sleek and glossy. Whilst photos are “evidence” that the activities suggested can genuinely be done by children and families, Granström’s illustrations show a different truth; that the great outdoors can be enjoyed by any child, not just white able-bodied children.

Sometimes when I read activity or craft books my reading is aspirational; it’s about daydreaming a life in different circumstances. Sometimes, however, I want something with the messiness that is more familiar from my family life. For me, 100 Family Adventures falls into the former category. The adventures they suggest are all amazing, but quite a lot of them require expensive equipment, relatively long distance travel and some serious planning (for example skiing, sailing, kayaking and even some of the camping adventures they suggest e.g. winter camping). Wild Adventures, on the other hand, is much more “domestic” in scale. Although the projects are designed for engaging with a wilder outdoors than that simply found in your back garden, they are not about extreme adventuring. Having said that, 100 Family Adventures is partly about going out of your comfort zone and extending yourself and your family and so it’s not surprising that some of the ideas require more money, time and preparation.

Tracking and casting animal footprints: 100 Family Adventures

Tracking and casting animal footprints: 100 Family Adventures

Making plaster casts of animal tracks: Wild Adventures

Making plaster casts of animal tracks: Wild Adventures

Whilst Wild Adventures is perhaps the book I would choose for my own family, I really like the physical properties of 100 Family Adventures. It has been produced in a chunky format with a flexi-hardcover, making it easy to bung in a rucksack and take on adventures outdoors. Manning and Granström’s lovely book on the other hand is currently only available in hardback with a dust jacket, making it more suitable for reading indoors.

Having listened with interest to what translator and editor Daniel Hahn had to say recently about the value of opinion alongside fact in a day an age of easily found information, I’ve been thinking a lot in the past few days about my reviews and the balance between fact and opinion. These two books, both from the same publisher, on essentially the same topic have reminded me that different styles of books suit different people and that I should remain aware of this when reviewing books. Something I read may be just the sort of thing my family will love, but I shouldn’t forget that other families may like different things. So whilst Wild Adventures is my book of choice today, do look out both and see which suits you and your family… and then let me know which of the two YOU prefer!

Inspired by Wild Adventures we took to the seaside last month and made faces out of objects we found along the shoreline.




There really is nothing like having your own family adventure outdoors.


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6529. Monday Mishmash 3/23/15

Happy Monday! Monday Mishmash is a weekly meme dedicated to sharing what's on your mind. Feel free to grab the button and post your own Mishmash.

Here's what's on my mind today:
  1. YA Scavenger Hunt  I'm so excited to announce I'll be on Team Gold for the YA Scavenger Hunt next month! Join us on April 2-5th to win books and get exclusive content from a bunch of awesome authors. (I'll be promoting The Darkness Within—sharing never before scene teasers—and giving away a copy of The Monster Within.
  2. Back to Drafting!  As much as I love editing for my amazing clients, I'm really excited to have time to get back to my WIP this week! I'm halfway through it, and my characters have been hounding me to get back to work! They're very demanding.
  3. Reviewing  I have two books I promised to review, and I need to make process on them both really soon. Like now.
  4. Beta Reading  I also agreed to beta read for a very talented writer friend, so I'll be working on that too this week.
  5. My Embarrassing Video  If you missed my embarrassing video last week, you can view it here: 

That's it for me. What's on your mind today?

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6530. PANAMA WHEELCHAIR UPDATE - PANAMA CITY, PANAMA #rotary #rotaryinternational

Carlos, 13, hunkered in his father’s arms in the club house of Rotary 2030 in Panama City. His voice came out in a guttural cry as Rotarians from foreign clubs gathered around, taking pictures, making friends, and learning about Carlos’ story.

Carlos has cerebral palsy, diagnosed when he was six months old.

“He was a normal baby and then….” The Panamanian Rotarian struggled to find the words in English to describe what happened to Carlos. It didn’t matter. For over an hour, in blistering heat, Carlos’ father held him in his arms. Carlos’ mother, his sister and brother all gathered around him and then the moment arrived. He was going to be placed in a special wheelchair that so many Rotary clubs in North America worked to provide him with.

“It is… It is scary for him to do this… So many times people think these kids… That they don’t have feelings. They do,” said one of the 20-

30 members as he looked on anxiously.

Carlos went outside, held in his father’s arms as Rotarians from Panama, Canada and the United States gathered around. Pictures were taken. Water bottles handed out. Then work began. Deb Hammond of Bar Harbor, Maine and Marilyn Wells of Ellsworth, Maine began to help Carlos’ family fit him to a special wheelchair designed for children with cerebral palsy, meticulously and lovingly easing him into the seat while simultaneously adjusting the wheelchair to fit his body. Carlos withstood all the poking and prodding, the pictures, the adjustments and in the end. he was fitted into the wheelchair. Moments later, Carlos gifted his mother, Rachel, with the most beautiful smile. She pet his hand against her face, over and over again. His smile became bigger. Ariel, Carlos’ father, was no longer carrying Carlos’ weight. Instantly, his daughter catapulted herself into his arms for a hug while his younger son stood by, holding onto the edge of Carlos’ wheelchair, watching over his big brother.

“For these families, this means… it means everything,” said Roy, a Panamanian who is not affiliated with Rotary but who became an integral part of Sunday’s adventure. “All of this… it is so fortunate.”

You can call it good fortune or Rotarian luck or divine province. But Roy was a huge part of it. Roy was Linda Whitehead’s driver when she came to Panama via White Rock, British Columbia. Linda is the Global Wheelchair Program Chair and a past president of the Semiahmoo Rotary Club in Canada. Roy and Linda are both talkers, friendly, ready to pat someone on the arm, take their hand, make a connection. He asked her about why she was in Panama and she told him about the wheelchairs. He told Linda about his wife’s friend Ari and her eight-year-old Gabby. Gabby was diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy when she was a year old. Ari is a 29-year-old single parent who spends most of her days carrying Gabby in her arms. When she works in the restaurant, she brings Gabby with her, placing her on a mat in the room while she makes money to support them.

“You are so strong,” I tell her and make a muscle.

“Si,” she says.

“But not just your muscles. Your heart. It is so strong.”

She smiles.

Gabby’s wheelchair came with Linda to Panama not because Linda knew about Gabby. It came because Linda brought an extra wheelchair for carry-on instead of bringing a bag full of make-up or books or clothes.

“You never know when you might need one,” she says off-handedly.

She needed that wheelchair the very next day. That carry-on wheelchair became Gabby’s wheelchair.

It isn’t easy for Ari and Gabby. Though they live only about 45 minutes outside of Panama City, getting Gabby to the rehabilitation center has proved too difficult. Not only does it cost about $5 a day in travel expenses, which is a lot here;
it meant a lot of work for Ari. Getting Gabby to the center required Ari carrying Gabby up a hill down a hill, on a bus, onto another bus. All of this was under Ari’s manpower, all of it required hours of Ari holding Gabby in her arms to take her to a rehabilitation center that sees 300 patients a day. Wheelchairs sponsored by Rotarians from around the world, wait in the halls for patients. Now Gabby will have one of her own.

“It makes things easier,” Ari says. “I am so thankful.”

Rotary Club members from Seattle, Canada, Alaska, Maine and Panama were there to watch Gabby settle into her first wheelchair, watch Ari smooth away the hair from Gabby’s face and then kiss her hand over and over again. We were there, lucky beyond words to watch the love that Ari envelopes Gabby with, to witness the love that Carlos’ family showers on him and each other. We are the thankful ones.

Members from the Bar Harbor and Ellsworth Maine Rotary Clubs will be visiting Santiago, Panama this week and distributing wheelchairs that they are providing to residents in need. The Santiago Rotary Club is graciously hosting us and helping with the project. I’ll be posting more, hopefully, as the week progresses. Please forgive me for the typos. I’ll try to fix them later. ‪#‎rotary‬ ‪#‎rotaryinternational‬

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6531. Monday Poetry Stretch - Clogyrnach (Welsh Poetic Form)

I'm not quite ready to share my National Poetry Month project quite yet, but I'll admit to examining verse forms and speaking with poets as I prepare. One of the fine poets I spoke with extolled the virtues of "foreign" verse forms. I've been thinking about this ever since, and have started looking at forms completely unfamiliar to me. That's where this week's challenge comes from.

Clogyrnach is a Welsh poetic meter that falls under the poetic form of awdl (odes). Clogyrnach are composed of any number of 6-line stanzas. Each stanza has 32 syllables. The first couplet is 8 syllables with an end rhyme of aa, the second couplet is 5 syllables with an end rhyme of bb, and the final couplet is is 3 syllables with an end rhyme of ba. In some variations the poem is written as a 5-line stanza with the 5th line composed of 6 syllables. 

Here's a visual of a clogyrnach. Each x represents a syllable, while other letters represent rhyme scheme.

8 syllables - x x x x x x x a
8 syllables - x x x x x x x a
5 syllables - x x x x b
5 syllables - x x x x b
3 syllables - x x b
3 syllables - x x a

You can read more about this form and other awdl forms at The Poets Garrett. You can read about other variations of the clogyrnach at The Poets Collective.

I hope you'll join me this week in writing a clogyrnach. Please share a link to your poem or the poem itself in the comments.

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6532. Tammy and Pepper

Tammy and Pepper
Kathryn Hitte ~ Mel Crawford ~ Golden Press, 1964

I don't know about you kids, but we are in full-on spring mode here, just minutes away from the Texas summer. I know lots of you are still suffering in the grips of mother winter, so here's a ray of sunshine to help light the darkness. Nothing can get you jazzed about the upcoming season than Tammy and her little sister Pepper's wild island adventures, Big Golden Book-style.

Tammy and her family went to an island to spend the summer. There were miles of warm, sandy beaches on the island. There were cool pine forests, and a pretty little old-fashioned town. There was lots to do--swimming, and tennis-playing, and bicycling, and sailing in the harbor. For rainy days, there was a cozy library and an interesting museum to visit. Tammy was delighted. A whole summer on this beautiful island! What fun it was going to be!

What fun, indeed! Sunken ships and light houses, cute boys and seashells, and a scary set of circumstances that gets redeemed through Morse Code. Complete with an International Morse Code key in the back. Imagine! Like Nancy Drew just with more beach and double the blond.

Love these Mel Crawford drawings...

Also by:

Story of Harmony Lane
I'm Mommy, I'm Daddy
The Chuckle Book
Sesame Street 1, 2, 3 Storybook
Tommy's Camping Adventure
Boy Was I Mad


Read along on FacebooktumblrTwitterEtsy and Graphic Novels My Kid Loves.

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6533. #658 – The Story Starts Here! by Caroline Merola




The Story Starts Here!

Written and illustrated by Caroline Merola
Owlkids Books         9/15/2014
40 pages      Age 4 to 8


“Little Wolf wants to do things his way. And that includes starting HIS story from the back of the book. But Little Wolf’s topsy-turvy day gets a unexpected twist  when someone else decides to join in on the fun.

Play along as Little Wolf turns the picture book on its head!”


Little Wolf is one stubborn little guy.

Oh, wait! I forgot to tell you a very important thing—The Story Starts Here has the ending at the beginning and the beginning at the end.  So flip the book around and upside down, and then open the back “front” cover. Ready?


Little Wolf is one stubborn little guy.

“Because I said so.”

He wants things his way, including with you; you are reading his book upside down and backwards. Little Wolf eats dessert first, puts his pants on his head, and plays piano with his toes. Little Wolf declares today is backward day to his unwilling and objecting parents.

“No, you will not begin with dessert.”
“No, you will not play piano with your toes!”

Sent to his room to think about his contrary behavior, Little Wolf sneaks outside (with his pants still fashionably atop his head). Outside, all the creatures are quickly running away from something. Little Wolf turns around and finds he is face-to-face with a monster. The Story Starts Here had me laughing from the get go at Little Wolf and his backward antics. Little Wolf playing the piano and wearing his trousers’ on his head is hilarious, but not as much as the twist. The monster is feeling a bit topsy-turvy itself. “It” explains this to Little Wolf, who seems to understand . . . until the monster tells Little Wolf to flip the book back over.


Oh, wait! I forgot again. Keep the book open and flip back over so the beginning is the beginning and the end is the end. Now we can finish the story.

Despite the funny goings on the story could be better. Little Wolf is the same stubborn wolf as he was at page . . . the beginning of the story. He does not even think the twist is funny. (Spoilt sport, he is!)  I really like The Story Starts Here and the concept of an upside day. Feeling a little off is a good time to mix things up. Good thing dad understands his son.

I love “Dad Books.” The Story Starts Here will entertain fathers and sons, making a great reading experience for both. Little Wolf is generic and so can be any child; dad can be any father. Kids will love the craziness of flipping and reading backward, then suddenly flipping back. It is one more way to engage and interest them in reading. Kids will also love the surprise ending (a new fashion, which had me laughing, is born).  If the book does not make you dizzy—it will not—you and your child will enjoy a funny story and a great lead into a discussion on how sometimes a story—or the world—has more than one view.
THE STORY STARTS HERE! Text and illustrations copyright © 2014 by Caroline Merola. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Owlkids Books, Berkely, CA.
Purchase The Story Starts Here at AmazonB&NBook DepositoryOwlkids Books
Learn more about The Story Starts Here HERE.
Meet the author/illustrator, Caroline Merola, at her website:  http://www.carolinemerola.com/
Find more picture books at the Owlkids Books website:  https://store.owlkids.com


Copyright © 2015 by Sue Morris/Kid Lit Reviews
Last Chance! VOTE for YOUR FAVORITE BEST BOOK for 2014 HERE.

Filed under: 4stars, Books for Boys, Children's Books, Favorites, Library Donated Books, Picture Book Tagged: "my way", Caroline Merola, fathers and sons, Owlkids Books, stubborn, The Story Starts Here, tolerance, topsy-turpy, world view

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6534. Snowglobes and my research quest

First rose of springToday I was stopped at a red light in downtown Santa Rosa, and I looked over to see a tough guy in a muscle car with sheer delight plastered across his face. We were enjoying the same magical scene: thousands of tiny white petals scudding across the avenue, swirling in the air, drifting onto benches and signs and people.

This could explain the sneezing fit I had last night, but that snowglobe moment was worth it. When we were contemplating this move, no one said we would experience this beautiful warm snowfall. No one has commented on it to me at all. I guess it’s just me and Tough Guy, thrilled by the floor show.

I had no idea how beautiful this small city, and our neighborhood in particular, would be in the spring. The neighbors’ gardens are not even in full bloom, yet every block is resplendent with color and redolent with fragrance. My rosebushes, brave little souls who survived five years on a cold, partially shaded, windswept deck in San Francisco, are stretching their limbs toward the warmth and the light, their foliage thick and lush, their buds fat, the first rose gorgeously impeccable.

I am stretching my own limbs to the light as well, professionally and in my growth as a scholar–and with leadership studies, of course the two are ever entwined). Coming back from some reasonably tolerable conference, I realized I was happy to walk into the library. It is a human institution and not the Good Ship Lollypop, but it’s filled with caring people determined to make a difference in other people’s lives. (I wonder what things were really like on GSL, anyway. Probably lots of dental issues.)

Last night I turned in my last short homework assignment for the doctoral program. Assuming it doesn’t bounce back to me with a request for revision (Lord please no — I cannot write anything more about net neutrality), I have completed my last class for this program. Up next: completing my qualifying paper, studying for and taking comprehensive exams, developing and defending a dissertation proposal, then doing the research for, writing, and defending my dissertation.

Piece of cake, eh?

Yes, a lot of work, and the doctoral work is folded under a lot of work-work, and (since some of you may be wondering) compounded by my mother’s health care crisis, which has its four-month anniversary in two days. It’s one of those life crises many of us will deal with at some point — a foreign land that, when you get there, you find populated with a lot of people you know.

But I get a lot of sustenance from my doctoral work. My qualifying paper is about the lived experiences of openly gay and lesbian academic library directors. (A friend of mine teased me that I should interview myself, which reminded me of a stern lecture everyone in my class in the MFA program received about The Crime Of Solipsism, which sounded like something we should stand in a corner for.)

I deeply love this research project, and I earned this love. I did the hard thing — prolonging this project by over a year by torpedoing two papers that were too small, too meaningless, too insufficient, too lacking in rigor; papers I wouldn’t want to see my name on — to find my literary-research beshert, that topic I was meant to wrap myself around. The kind of topic that pulls me into its own snowglobe, where I stand arms upraised in its center, watching meaning swirl around me, its brilliant small bits glinting in the sunlight.

Later on, I hope, I’ll write a bit more about my research. I owe a lot to the great people who shared their time and thoughts about my work in this area, giving me courage to ditch the crap and focus on the gold, and to the subjects who providing fascinating, heartening, hilarious, heart-tugging, thoughtful, surprising, invigorating, and fully real interviews for my research. The Association of Openly Gay and Lesbian Academic Library Directors could fit in a hotel suite, but it’s a group I’d share that suite or even a foxhole with, hands-down.

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6535. Making+Doing=Being

Toys are important to a child but too many of them can be a handicap. A child who has a chest full of ready-made playthings often becomes indifferent to them. Eventually none amuse or please and the toy-owner becomes restless, dissatisfied, and frequently difficult to live with. Such a child urgently needs a wholesome release … Continue reading Making+Doing=Being

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6536. Happy Spring!

Onion sprouts!

Onion sprouts!

First off, happy spring! Or, happy autumn to those of you in the southern hemisphere! I hope everyone had a delightful equinox. Of course now that spring is officially here the lovely weather has disappeared and we have returned to a slightly warmer than normal temperature between 35-40F/1-4C. For anyone but Minnesota this sounds cold. It isn’t, but after several days around 60F/15C, it is severely disappointing. And all those people over the last week who were out in their yards removing winter mulch, what the heck were you thinking? Too early people! You know there is snow in the forecast this week, right?

Even my maple tree is confused. She has blossoms. And the forsythia has buds. It’s a dangerous time of year.

Seed sprouting moves apace. We got our mini greenhouse out of the garage to discover one of the flap zippers is

When the greenhouse was new

When the greenhouse was new

broken which prevents us from being able to leave anything in it overnight because the frost will get in. Also, the plastic after only a few years has gotten brittle. We are going to have to see if we can get a new cover or else buy a whole new greenhouse. They aren’t that expensive, but I expected it to last longer than it has. Humph.

The onion sprouts are doing really well. The peppers seeds from last week have not yet begun to sprout, they take a little while. Today we planted tomatoes and cabbage:

  • Henderson’s Pink Ponderosa. A huge beefsteak first introduced in 1891
  • Cherokee Purple. A medium to large sized purple-pink pre-1890 heirloom
  • Evan’s Purple Pear. A newer variety from 2008, selected from an accidental cross between heirloom varieties. Small, purple-pink fruit, most excellent for sauces and canning.
  • Red Express Cabbage. A newer variety of open-pollinated (non-hybrid) red cabbage bred especially for short growing seasons in Canada and the northern US

Makes my mouth water just typing that. Grow seeds, grow!

We worry about all kinds of things when it comes to food but how many of us stop to think about working conditions in moderne agriculture? Eric Schlosser, author of Fast Food Nation, created a four-minute video not long ago outlining how bad it is for many people working in the fields. It’s eye-opening. Another good reason to start your own garden and buy from local farmer’s markets where you can talk to the farmer directly and find out how s/he harvests the vegetables you are buying.

A short post today. Posting in general might be light this week because I have review deadlines fast approaching. Then I will breathe a sigh of relief and, I hope, get back to a regular reading-for-myself schedule. I’ve been reading good stuff but there’s lots of other good stuff in the wings. If only I had more eyes and hands and could read multiple books simultaneously. Sure I’d look really funny, but think how much reading I could do!

Filed under: gardening

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6537. Kid Life Drawing

I teach a children's book illustration course at Pacific Northwest College of Art. One of my favorite parts of class is a little thing I like to call Kid Life Drawing. Students have lots of adult life drawing at PNCA, but kids have such different proportions and it can be hard to draw them well. So, every few weeks I ask parent friends of mine if their kids would like to model for our class. In return, each student gives the parent/kid a drawing at the end of the session. Here are a few sketches of mine from this week's class- an awesome 11-year-old named Aria.

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6538. Women

Caldwell is fearless in this tiny memoir; her second after Legs Get Led Astray. After spending her life in relationships with men, she suddenly finds herself, unbelievably, in love with a woman; a woman who already has a partner. Caldwell illustrates all the ugly pain, fear, anger, and aching loneliness of embarking on a relationship [...]

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6539. A hunting we will go – Easter basket fillers

It wouldn’t be Easter without a bit of a hunt. Whatever your predilection, chocolate eggs, fairies, time spent with loved ones; this small but sweet selection of Easter inspired treasures are perfect to pop into your Easter baskets this year. For the very young bunnies:  Little Barry Bilby by Colin Buchanan and Roland Harvey, including […]

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6540. SCBWI Webinar

We just finished a webinar sponsored by SCBWI Wisconsin chapter - thank you Deb Gross for organizing it and helping make it a success! Jake Parker, Lee White, and I all gave demos and taught principles of design, how to create convincing characters, fixing compositions in drawings, and how to keep a traditional look in your digital painting. If you'd like to organize an event through your chapter contact your RA to discuss options - svslearninfo@gmail.com

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6541. How to write a query letter

Have you written a book and revised it within an inch of it's life? Would you like to query agents or publishers to finally see you dream of being published become a reality?   But...are you Query Queasy? Easy peasy lemon squeezy.   Well, maybe not easy peasy, but you’ve written a whole novel, right? A super awesome unputdownable, potential-to-rival-the-greats novel, correct? You’re not going to let a one-page query come between you and getting it published, are you?!   I know, I know…queries

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6542. The Weekend Writer: Are You Developing A Trope Or Using A Cliché?

I'm including  My Top 5 Tried and True Horror Tropes by Micol Ostow in a Weekend Writer post not because I think new writers need to know about horror. Though, of course, if you're interested in writing horror, you'd better. No, what interested me in this post is how she defines the difference between a trope and a cliché. "...there’s also a fine line," Ostow says, "between a “trope” or homage, and a cliché."

When you see people refer to "tropes," it's usually in a flattering way. I can't recall the last time I heard someone say something flattering about a cliché.

The big question (which may be answered in the workshop Ostow mentions, but we won't all be going to that, and it isn't until fall, anyway) is how does a writer make something like a haunted house, asylum, or possessed doll a trope/homage and not a cliché? I've often wondered, is a trope a trope if readers get it, otherwise it's a cliché?

So keep the cliché/trope issue in mind.

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6543. Day 23 of the March SOLSC! #SOL15

ANNOUNCEMENTS You have until noon EDT today 3/23 to leave a comment for a chance to win the wonderful prize donated by The Highlights Foundation.  Click here to leave a comment on the… Continue reading

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6544. Wildlife Book Review

Title: Wildlife Author: Fiona Wood Publisher: Poppy Publication Date: September 16, 2014 ISBN-13: 978-0316242097 400 pp. ARC provided by publisher Wildlife is Australian author Fiona Wood's US debut, and my love for Australian YA grows. Wildlife is a dual narration novel, with Sibylla telling one story and Lou telling another. Both live in the same dorm during a wilderness semester at

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6545. Family Stories: A New “Mini Unit”

Our sixth grade writing workshop year follows a predictable and well planned path: personal narrative, followed by memoir, then feature articles and argument. Until my students suggest something new ...

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6546. Sunday

Sunday always struck me as
The ending of the week,
The final chance for chores
Or the relaxing you might seek.

But calendars put Sunday first
As if it's at the start,
Which also means the weekend
Somehow splits itself apart.

Depending on your point of view
Perception surely bends,
So Sunday is the day the week
Begins or, maybe, ends. 

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6547. Building a great e-audio collection

The audiobooks in your library’s digital collection are easy to access from computers, tablets, iPods and smartphones. As you build and market the collection, keep in mind the different ways that children and families use audiobooks, and select titles to meet a variety of needs.

Preschool children may be drawn to the stories and characters of their favorite picture books. Think carefully about how the text will play without the pictures that help tell the story. You’ll also want to take checkout limits into consideration. Collections of multiple books, like Green Eggs and Ham and Other Servings of Dr. Seuss, and early chapter books like Hooray for Anna Hibiscus! may be more attractive to borrowers than a title which only lasts a few minutes.

Families listening together need titles that appeal to everyone. Stories like The Misadventures of the Family Fletcher include characters of multiple ages. Parents listening with older children will find a lot to talk about in nonfiction like The Port Chicago 50.

Children who have their own tablet or iPod can download and listen independently. For older elementary kids, having what they want the first time they look is crucial. Order at least once a week and pre-order when you can, so that your homepage shows the freshest new titles and you always have the latest books in their favorite series.

What are your secrets for building a great e-audio collection? Please share them in the comments.


This month’s blog post by Rachel Wood, ALSC Digital Content Task Force

We would love to hear from you. Please email us at digitalcontenttaskforce@gmail.com and join our ALSC Digital Content Task force group on ALA Connect. Share ideas! Add to discussions!

The post Building a great e-audio collection appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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6548. Book Scavenger Treasure Hunt

I'm home on spring break for ten whole days of glorious Colorado sunshine, grandbaby-cuddling, dog-walking, cat-brushing, and catching up with as many dear friends as possible, including get-togethers with both of my writing groups: breakfast with my old group of twenty-plus years, dinner with the new group I joined this past fall.

The new writing group is consumed these days with celebration for the June 2 publication date of the debut novel Book Scavenger by one of our members, Jennifer Chambliss Bertman.

The book is amazing. Here's the review of it I posed on Goodreads after reading the ARC (Advanced Reader Copy): How I adored this book! It’s a page-turning thriller, a valentine to the storied city of San Francisco, an exploration of the nature of friendship and family, a feast for puzzle aficionados and code breakers, and a celebration of the community of book lovers everywhere. The reader’s only regret is going to be that the Book Scavenger game Bertmann has created doesn’t exist in real life, so that we could join Emily and James in playing it. Bertmann’s debut novel establishes her as a major new voice in middle grade fiction. Prediction: Book Scavenger will become a beloved classic in the mode of The Westing Game and The Egypt Game. It’s off the charts wonderful.

The book is based around the idea of a fictitious game where players hide copies of books all over the country and the world for other book-lovers to find, via cryptic clues posted on the Book Scavengers website. And the game now does exist on real life, thanks to Jen's website, with copies of the ARC hidden in all fifty states. And our writing group is playing the game ourselves, hiding copies of Jen's book all over Boulder for each other to find.

Yesterday I got the clue from Laura to send me off to find mine. The clue said:  

It is hidden! Start at Viele Lake. Take a walk to the southern part of the lake, until you get to the fitness sign about the heel flex. Turn your back to that sign. Then try to decode my cipher.

The cipher read: uxmpxxg uxgvaxl, ngwxk kfvd 

So this morning before church I walked down to Viele Lake:

I followed the fitness trail around the lake until I reached the sign:
I turned around as directed and looked behind trees and rocks, hoping I could find it without having to wrestle with decoding the message, as I'm completely terrible at cyphers and codes. No luck. But fortunately, my church has a VERY brainy congregation. Upon arriving I handed the cypher to two of the the most brilliant members; both solved it during the sermon. I won't give the solution here in case you want to try to decode it yourselves.

I headed back to the lake after worship. This time I found the correct spot.
The picture is pretty dark and terrible, because I'm a challenged photographer, but let the poor quality just add to the mystery.

I found the rock beneath which the book was supposed to be hidden:
And there it was!
Now it's my turn to hide it for Vanessa. I hope she's better at code-breaking than I am, or that she has similarly brainy friends.

Verdict on spring break so far: tons of fun.


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6549. Classroom Slice of Life Story Challenge: Day 23 of 31

A good comparison or metaphor can take you far!

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6550. Comic Strip - Serge Gainsbourg

Comic Strip - Serge Gainsbourg

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