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1. MaltaComicCon 2014

Best Convention on the Planet

Hi Folks,

Well, by the time you read this little promotional missive I shall be en route to the best convention known to mankind – MALTACOMICCON in the capital city of Vallettaon the beautiful Mediterranean island of Malta.

Over the past six years I have been invited out a total of seven times by some of the most wonderful people you could ever hope to meet. I feel extremely humbled and honoured to be in this very privileged position. I now look on the organisers as great friends whom I visit every year on the run up to Christmas.

Truth told, my continued involvement with the guys this year, with the passing of my Mum has given me the impetus to carry on and get back into working again – indeed it gave me back my deadlines. Although I am still a few days off completing the final pencils, something I had hoped to pull back in time for the convention, I have, however completed all the layouts onto the Bristol board and will be showing those as stats along with the completed pencils for the pages thus far. To all intents and purposes the second book’s storytelling (the most important thing for me) is complete at long last. I just wish Mum was here to share that with me.

I am looking forward to showcasing and launching 2 NEW products, which will go on general release upon my return to the UK.

The first is my second Sketchbook: “12 – The Witching Hour”


 The second is as yet a TOP SECRET, other than the Teaser Art below:


 I am excited, as always and cannot wait to meet everyone there.

The Venue has to be seen to be believed; a medieval fortress with walls so thick you could not span it with arms outstretched. Little wonder, Malta has never been successfully invaded and conquered.

With this year’s events, I was remiss in publishing the Blogs from my notes I created upon my return from last year’s event. They remain languishing in limbo, but at some point it would be nice to write them up properly. I will however be Blogging about this year’s event, again upon my return.

In the meantime, watch out Twitter Fans for my Tweets – @TimPWizardsKeep – that is, if I can find the time during the convention. There is so much for folks to see and do there, it’s finding the time to fit it all in.

Oh, well, I’m off now, but look forward to telling of my exploits on the island this time around, real soon…  

Until next time, have fun!

Tim Perkins…
November 27th 2014

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2. HBO Unveils Teaser Trailer For ‘Game of Thrones’ Season 5

Follow the Three Eyed Raven. Gain the power of #TheSight: http://t.co/9fNrrJIGHG https://t.co/4RhAiTR9tw

— Game Of Thrones (@GameOfThrones) November 25, 2014

Who’s ready to follow the Three Eyed Raven? HBO has posted a teaser trailer for Game of Thrones season 5 on Twitter. The premiere episode will air in April 2015. We’ve embedded the tweet (along with the clip) above—what do you think? (via The Guardian)

New Career Opportunities Daily: The best jobs in media.

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3. Comics Illustrator of the Week :: Leslie Stein

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Artist/musician/bartender/comics brew-master Leslie Stein has been making comics since the early 2000’s. She started making her comics by cutting & pasting construction paper into colorful silhouettes. Her work has continued to morph, and evolve over the years. Today, you can see how she’s broken down her characters, and stories into minimal line work, expressive colors, and animated typography!

Leslie Stein began self-publishing her personal anthology Eye of the Majestic Creature in 2004. The series stars her cartoon alter ego Larrybear(along with a colorful cast of characters based off of real life friends), and has transformed over the years from mostly fictional stories to semi-autobiographical stories, today.

Fantagraphics Books has published two collections of Stein’s comics, and is publishing a collection of her Diary Comics in 2015.

You can read new, regularly updated Diary Comics on Leslie’s tumblr site here, and VICE features a weekly comic by her, as well.

For more comics related art, you can follow me on my website comicstavern.com - Andy Yates

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4. Writers: Didn't Have Time For #NaNoWriMo? Try 250, 500 or 1000 Words A Day (and why I need to do this)

If you're a writer who has no trouble banging out thousands of words a day on a regular basis, you can skip my 250, 500 or 1000 Words A Day Writing Challenge.

This post is for others who fit into one or more of the following situations:

- You started NaNoWriMo with good intentions but ended up falling further and further behind until it was way too late to try catching up.

- You've always wanted to try a writing challenge like NaNoWriMo but knew you'd never have the time to write 50,000 words in November.

- You have a day job and need some motivation to squeeze out extra time to do regular writing.

- You have kids, so life is often crazybusy with parenting duties and an unpredictable schedule. You need some motivation to carve out writing time here and there.

- You're an illustrator who is trying to flex your writing muscles. A writing challenge with achievable goals could help you get that picture book or other writing project finished.

- You already make a living as a writer or are a published writer, but have always wanted to try another genre...but your paid/contracted work has always come first. Even with limited time, you want to get that personal writing project of yours off the back burner and make some steady progress.

In my case: I am a children's book illustrator who has just started writing picture books. I love my work and I love making picture books, but I also have not forgotten my roots: I have been writing books for young people for as long as I can remember. None of them have been published, though I have been steadily working on my craft; judging from the gradual improvement in quality of editorial rejection letters, my writing has been getting better. I've gotten close (tantalizingly, frustratingly close) for my latest novel, but "close" is not the same as a book contract. I also had my YA novel-in-progress nominated for the SCBWI Sue Alexander "Most Promising For Publication" Award.

Then a rejection ended up (in a roundabout way) getting me a book illustration contract with Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers, and my novel-writing got put on hold. It's ironic but a part of the business: I've since had more than one editor express interest in seeing my novels, but I haven't had as much time to work on my writing because of my contracted illustration work.

With what I've learned since then, I'm realizing why my already-written novels didn't sell and why they SHOULDN'T have sold, and have shelved them. I've started working on a new project which I'm pretty excited about, but don't spend nearly enough time on. It's been a crazy year for me: I illustrated three Judy Blume chapter books, 10 Judy Blume covers, finished the illustrations for my first solo picture book (WHERE ARE MY BOOKS? with Simon & Schuster), illustrated RUBY ROSE ON HER TOES (picture book by Rob Sanders, with HarperCollins), did sketches for MITZI TULANE: PRESCHOOL DETECTIVE (picture book by Lauren McLaughlin, with Random House), some sketches for SEA MONKEY AND BOB (picture book by Aaron Reynolds, with Simon & Schuster), did my first book tour, talks and workshops at conferences, then had family health issues.

But something else I've learned: life is ALWAYS going to be crazybusy, one way or another. I will NEVER have the luxury of time that I had in my pre-published days, and that's not a bad thing. If I want to achieve my goal of getting my novels for young people published, I have to adjust and squeeze out writing time however I can.

Hoping some of you join me in the Challenge! Here's more info about how to participate. Feel free to post below or in my Writing Challenge: 250, 500 or 1000 Words Facebook page. Or you can just participate without letting anyone know...it's entirely up to you.

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5. The Contemporary Jewish Museum Hosts Exhibit On J. Otto Seibold

Mr LunchThe Contemporary Jewish Museum is hosting an exhibit shining the spotlight on children’s books illustrator J. Otto Seibold.

The “J. Otto Seibold and Mr. Lunch” art show was organized to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Mr. Lunch book series. It focuses on the three books: Mr. Lunch Borrows a CanoeFree Lunch, and Mr. Lunch Takes a Plane Ride.

Pieces of original artwork have been put on display. Seibold designed an interactive area so that visitors can explore new Mr. Lunch content. A closing date has been set for March 08, 2015.

New Career Opportunities Daily: The best jobs in media.

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6. How 'bout we all pan NBC's PETER PAN and Warner Bros PAN, too.

Over the weekend, Heather (a reader of AICL) wrote to ask if I'd seen a Salon article about changes made to music and lyrics in the version of Peter Pan that NBC is going to air in December. Though I knew about the production, I didn't know about these changes. Thanks, Heather, for letting me know.

In a nutshell, NBC hired Jerod Tate, artistic director of the Chickasaw Chamber Music Festival. He's Chickasaw but I don't know anything else about him other than what his bio (linked with his name) says.

With his assistance, the song "Ugg-a-Wugg" was changed.

Ugg-a-Wugg is a duet sung by Peter Pan and Tiger Lily. If either one is in trouble, they'll call on the other for help. The code word they'll use as a signal is ugg-a-wugg. If Tiger Lily needs help, she'll use that code word and Peter will come to save "the brave noble redskin." And if Peter Pan needs help, Tiger Lily will help him. They will be "blood brothers to the end." I think it was/is ludicrous but people love it. Do you remember it? Here. Take a look:



Enter Jerod Tate. Here's what he said, in the Salon article, about that song: 
And then the really big thing that we worked on was the replacement of [the lyrics] “ugg-a-wugg.” Just a little background: In general, what we all know is that the Indian tribe that’s represented in Peter Pan was influenced by knowledge of Northeast Indians of the United States. So we’re talking Iroquois, Huron, Wyandotte, Algonquin, these kinds of cultural regions. So what I did was I set out to find a replacement word for “ugg-a-wugg” that was literally a Wyandotte word.
Tate won't say what the word is, but he does say it means "come here." The interviewer asked him if he also worked on the costumes, but he said he only worked on the music and lyrics for the songs. He thinks the change is great, because the phrase is accurate. I disagree. The show and story will always be one in which the point of view is of Indians as exotic and detribalized. In chapter ten of Barrie's book, the Indians prostrate themselves in front of Peter Pan, calling him "the Great White Father." That point of view is the foundation for Barrie's story.

Now let's look at the new film from Warner Brothers.

The trailer for the new movie due out next year has a scene where Pan is on the floor, spears aimed at him. It looks like he's about to be killed, but an older man (which I imagine the script says is an elder or maybe Tiger Lily's dad) stops them. In his hand is a necklace of some sort that Peter was wearing. The man says:
"The little one. He wears the pan."
Here's a screen capture of that scene in the trailer:



The trailer cuts to Tiger Lily, played by Rooney Mara, who says:
"The Pan is our tribe's bravest warrior." 
Here she is in that moment: 


Her line (Pan is our tribe's greatest warrior) points right at the foundation for Barrie's film. Indians who worship whites. That's not ok. It was't ok then, and it isn't ok to give that racist garbage to kids today. Right?

Some of you know that there was a lot of discussion when Rooney was selected as the actress for the part. Many people said that a Native actress ought to be cast instead of Rooney. I disagree with that idea, too. 

Fixing the words in the song, and/or casting a Native person in that role does not change the point of view(s) on which the story rests. These are, through and through, "the white man's Indian." There is no fixing this story or any production of it so that the Native content is authentic. 

Attempts to do so remind me of the many schools that sought/seek to make their Indian mascots more "authentic" so that they could keep objectifying Native people, using their ideas of who Native people are for their own purposes. 

Can we just let that stuff go? 

Wouldn't we all be better off with a major studio production of a story written by a Native person? One that shows us as-we-are (or were if it is in the past), as human beings who do not say things about how we worship a "great white father" or a white guy who is our "greatest warrior"?  

By remaking this story, and/or by staging it in schools and theaters, we're just recycling problematic, stereotypic, racist images. Why do it?! 

Here's an irony. NBC released a promo featuring Allison Williams talking about the production. There's a part near the end where Williams is singing "it never never ends" as Tiger Lily drops to the stage:  



I want it to end. Don't you?

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7. Thanksgiving Day Parade Trivia ANSWERS

Thanksgiving Trivia QuizRead the answers to our Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade Trivia Quiz.

To get you in the spirit of Thanksgiving, I posted a Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade Trivia Quiz! Did you gobble up the questions, and spit out the answers? Or did it give you indigestion? (I hope not!) Without further ado, check out the answers below:

Thanksgiving Day Parade

Photo by Sachyn Mital

  1. Which city is the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade held in? ANSWER: New York City. It starts at 77th St./Central Park West and ends at 34th St. in front of Macy’s . . . (of course).
  2. Who is always on the LAST float in the parade? ANSWER: B) Santa Claus! Every year since 1924 Santa and Mrs. Claus close the parade.
  3. Which book character will be a balloon in the 2014 parade? ANSWER: A) Greg Heffley! Although I would like to see Slappy one year . . . 
  4. Macy’s symbol is a red _________. ANSWER: Star.
  5. The Radio City _________ also perform a famous holiday dance number in the parade. ANSWER: Radio City Rockettes.
  6. Which character has never been a balloon in the parade? ANSWER: D) Elsa from Frozen. Although Idina Menzel (the actress who does Elsa’s voice) is set to perform this year!
  7. Which float has been in the parade for 40 years straight? ANSWER: A) Sesame Street!
  8. In 1997, several balloons had to come down due to high winds and safety concerns during the parade. Which balloon caused the most serious damage? ANSWER: A) The Cat in the Hat. The balloon was as tall as a 6-story building, and was careening out of control before it crashed into and broke the arm off a lamp post at 72nd St. Those winds can be hazardous!

Hope you enjoy the parade and turkey today! Gobble, gobble.

Ratha, Stacks Writer

 

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8. Earth to YA, Part 1: Environmental Ethics and the Young Adult Author

Lately I’ve been feeling a lot of distress about the destruction of wild places, and my own part in that. I wonder if my new book is worth the trees it’s going to be printed on. I wonder if all the writing and publishing advice I’ve posted here over the years has done nothing but validate the smash and grab mentality that dominates our culture—get the book deal, get the movie deal, ten easy steps, let’s go! I’ve been thinking a lot about what it means to be successful, as an author or in any career, and the more I think about it, the louder the words of David W. Orr repeat themselves in my head:

The truth is that without significant precautions, education can equip people merely to be more efficient vandals of the earth.”

            In other words, the “success” for which we educate young people and to which we ourselves aspire is associated with exponentially higher levels of environmental destruction. And that really sucks.
            If you are a “successful” real estate developer, you bulldoze far more acres of forest or wetland than an unsuccessful one.
            If you are a “successful” YA author, you might take dozens of flights, sleep in dozens of corporate hotels, cause the production of thousands or even millions of junky tote bags, action figures, DVDs, pens, bookmarks, and other “swag” which will eventually end up in a landfill.
As authors, our motivation is to make friends with Barnes and Noble, not express distress at the way our landscapes have been turned into shopping malls. We’re supposed to be flattered if our publishers fly us places or go to the expense of making promotional materials, not perturbed at the waste it represents.
We talk about our responsibility to young readers, and the important work we do in reaching out to teens who are dealing with bullying, depression, eating disorders and rape—but too often we give a free pass to the consumer culture that turns even the most sincere among us into vandals. We leave it unquestioned. Or we don’t recognize the urgency of questioning it at all.
            My goal is not to make people feel guilty, or throw cold water on anybody’s success. On the contrary, I want to point out a fabulous opportunity.
Our books have the potential to influence generations of readers, and if we give them characters who love the wild earth, who reject the system that ties success to vandalism, who question and resist the destructive culture they’ve inherited—and not only in the context of flashy dystopias, but in contemporary fiction too—our world might have a chance.
And as role models for future generations of writers, we YA authors have a responsibility to challenge the culture we will eventually hand down to them, whether that means resisting cover whitewashing, rejecting wasteful practices in the publishing industry, or writing stories that provoke teens to fight for what really matters.

            Over the next few weeks, I’m going to be using this space to conduct a survey on Young Adult literature and the earth. 
             Let's just hope it's not successful.

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9. Happy Thanksgiving!

Tanita and I wish you all a wonderful holiday weekend full of book binges and marathon reading sessions. (I'm hoping to fit in a few myself!)I found this nifty Book Turkey here.Just a moment of gratitude, here--I could not be more grateful for all... Read the rest of this post

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10. NaNoWriMo Tip #18: Use Strong Metaphors

Writers are often advised to “show, not tell.” That’s why metaphors can be so very helpful.

The animated video above features a TED-Ed lesson called “The Art of The Metaphor.” When it comes to crafting a strong metaphor, keep in mind that “a metaphor isn’t true or untrue in any ordinary sense; metaphors are art, not science.”

This is our eighteenth NaNoWriMo Tip of the Day. To help GalleyCat readers take on the challenge of writing a draft for a 50,000-word novel in 30 days, we will be offering advice throughout the entire month.

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11. Happy Thanksgiving!

Wishing all of our U.S. readers a very happy Thanksgiving! Today, we are sharing which books we're the most thankful for this year. Tell us in the comments which book you would pick!

Photo credit: Benn Wolfe, Flickr


Martina Boone

What book am I thankful for today? Honestly? COMPULSION. I am thankful that so many people invested their time, talent, energy, and resources into this book. From my amazing critique partners, to my beta readers, fabulous editors and my agent, to every person at Simon Pulse who have all contributed to bring this book into the world. I'm also thankful for the authors who read early copies and said nice things about it, and the authors who have been generous in sharing their advice and expertise, here at Adventures, elsewhere on the web, and in person. But most of all, I am thankful for the readers, librarians, and booksellers who have so kindly embraced this book. I appreciate and love each and every one of you!


Becca Fowler

The book I'm most thankful for would have to be Harry Potter (I'm going to cheat a little, and use the whole series!), because I'm horrible at remembering what books shaped me into the person I am today without the Harry Potter novels overshadowing them. I adored those books growing up, and attended every single midnight release for them. To say I wasn't obsessed with Harry, Ron, and Hermione's adventures would be a vast understatement. My parents didn't understand it at the time (I'm still trying to convince my mom to read them), but those books are what opened me to reading. Without them, I'm not sure who I would be today. My best guess is probably someone who wouldn't have books stacked in every available place in my room and office. I think I speak for a lot of people when I talk about Harry Potter. For my generation, it was a huge gateway to reading and discovering new worlds in other books after our copies of Harry Potter started falling apart from too many rereads.


Lisa Gail Green

This month I’m most thankful for The Selection. Not because I read it, but because my daughter, AKA the reluctant reader, read it and demanded the rest of the series immediately under threat of believing I no longer encourage her to read. Probably the happiest moment this month for me was watching her remove the books from her bag in the car and start texting pics to her friends, saying, “Look what I got!” Wish I could’ve taken a picture of her at that moment. So thanks, Kiera Cass! You rock.


Alyssa Hamilton

I have two that my mind immediately jumps to. The first is OUTLANDER by Diana Gabaldon. It's not YA but it opened my reading up to adult historical fiction again, and I had been off it for a few years. OUTLANDER really reminded me of why I love it and i've devoured the entire series in a matter of months! The relationships, the decadent writing, the history and absolutely everything captivated me from the first word.

The second is Laurie Halse Anderson's THE IMPOSSIBLE KNIFE OF MEMORY. This book was the first book I had ever read by LHA and it was absolutely brilliant. The story was heart breaking but so incredibly realistic. The characters reached me in a way not a lot often can. The romance wasn't the main focus but it became a pillar of strength for Hayley. The relationship between Hayley and her father Andy was heart wrenching, beautiful, frustrating, destructive and yet LHA was able to weave an underlying thread of hope that completely struck a match in my heart. My experience of reading this book has stuck with me for almost a year and I absolutely know it's one that I will be rereading soon and frequently.


Jocelyn Rish

The book I am most thankful for is KILLING RUBY ROSE because not only is it a fun and thrilling read, it also brought the fabulous Jessie Humphries into my life. The full story involves much rambling about the stars aligning the right way several times, but the short version is this: The incredibly talented Megan Miranda recommended I read KILLING RUBY ROSE because it had the mixture of humor and darkness I was striving for in my WIP. So I read it, loved it, and when I saw that Jessie Humphries was a #PitchWars mentor, I had to submit to her. To my happy-dancing delight, she picked me to be part of her team, and her feedback on my WIP has been very helpful in finding the right balance between laughter and horror. As I finish my revisions and prepare to query, I’m thankful for Megan and Jessie and the book that brought us all together.


Shelly Zevlever

I'm going to say that the book I'm thankful for this year is I'll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson. The writing style is beautiful, the characters are easy to relate to and the plot itself is just weaved in perfectly within the two different point of views.

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12. App of the Week: Steller

Name: Steller
Cost:  Free
Platform: iOS

Steller

Digital storytelling apps have a tendency to be cumbersome and not so conducive to telling stories on the go.  Not so with Steller, which lives up to its name by letting users combine text, photos, and video to create stories with the ease of an Instagram or Twitter post.

Users build their stories page by page, choosing the type (text, photo, or video) and layout before tweaking things like colors and fonts.  Design choices are limited, but result in a modern, professional-looking story that, once published, uses the parallax effect in iOS to produce an impressive 3D page-turning experience.

Publishing your story adds it to Steller's home page, where other users can like, comment, and follow your profile.  The stories can also be embedded into blogs or websites, emailed, or posted to Pinterest, Facebook, or Twitter.

So far, stories posted to Steller run the gamut from travelogues and fashion lookbooks to illustrated recipes and even short works of fiction, but the potential uses for libraries and teens are exciting:  book reviews, booklists, school projects, and portfolios would all be at home here.  Or, you could turn all the photos you take this holiday season into beautiful stories to share with your family and friends.

Have a suggestion for App of the Week? Let us know. And find more great Apps in the YALSA Blog's App of the Week Archive.

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13. Leonard Cohen and smoking in old age

Leonard Cohen’s decision to take up cigarettes again at 80 reveals a well kept secret about older age: you can finally live it up and stop worrying about the consequences shortening your life by much. Risk taking is not such a risk anymore, given the odds. Of course some take that more literally than others. I don’t plan to do a parachute jump when I turn 90, as President Bush #1 did. However, a new breath of freedom (and less worry) is an unexpected and pleasant benefit of older age that isn’t well known.

Research findings confirm this is true. In recent studies of many adults from many countries, people were asked to rate their level of well being on a scale of 1-10. Researchers found a fascinating relationship between age and well-being. 20 year olds start out pretty high, after which well-being consistently goes down with age, bottoming out around the early 50’s. What happens next came as a surprise to many: after this trough, well-being actually goes up with age, with 85-year-olds reporting slightly higher well-being than the 20-year-olds. These are known as the U-bend studies, because well-being through adult life takes the shape of a “U.”

One question we can ask is: how can elders feel better when they are much closer to death than younger people? My personal and clinical experiences suggest that we accept the reality of death, which helps us enjoy each day and its positives more, because we appreciate their preciousness. Pleasure in listening to music, seeing a beautiful sunrise or hearing early morning bird calls elicits more enjoyment than when we were younger.

We live in the “now”. One woman expressed it well in our support group for aging and illness: “My papers are in order, my will and all that. Only, I just got four chairs recovered in my apartment. I want to stick around at least to see how they look with the new covers.” Concerns about career are gone; elderly parents are gone and adult children are on their own (hopefully). Elders begin to see life from a broader perspective than their own personal being—we are concerned about the future of the planet and the fate of our children’s children’s children whom we may never see.

Leonard Cohen. Photo by Rama. CeCILL, CC BY-SA 2.0 FR via Wikimedia Commons.
Leonard Cohen. Photo by Rama. CeCILL, CC BY-SA 2.0 FR via Wikimedia Commons.

At 86, I heartily endorse Cohen’s decision to forego all the illness prevention and screening that made sense in his 50s but not in his 80s when it is not likely to prolong life. For me, that means enjoying the pleasures of food and drink as I choose. My modern vegetarian-ish children chide me for the red meat on the table and insist I should be serving kale smoothies and brown rice for dinner and drinking bottled water with lemon instead of alcohol. My husband of 89 and I enjoy beef and wine for dinner, and we have no plans to change that. As to more wholesome drinks, as a Texan, I have drunk Dr. Peppers since the age of 10. I could easily be a poster girl for its benefits, but I am warned about the dangers I run every day of their poisoning my brain by the artificial “everything” in them.

As to fall prevention, which is a big concern of our children, I understand their wishes to prevent a broken hip, but I love most of my rugs and they are part of the pleasure in my home. I will compromise just so far in taking them up. I will be prudent but not coerced into a life style my children feel is more appropriate for us. My colleague, Dr. Mindy Greenstein, is a psychologist who works with me in a geriatric research group, and with whom I compare notes on aging from our middle and old old age perspectives. I complain that my children act too “parental” at times and I remind her that at 91, if her father eats another latke beyond what his wife deems appropriate, is that really a make or break issue in his survival? Children want to help us oldsters to outsmart the Grim Reaper, and that is very tender. But eventually he wins. So why sweat the odds? We are lucky—and happy—to be here in our upper 80s.

The bottom line is that Cohen has it right about the freedom to do things we want over 80, but wrong about paying too much attention to calculating the prevention risk ratio. The best story to put this into perspective is the old man who went to his doctor and asked. “Doc, if I give up alcohol, cigarettes and women will I live longer?” The doctor replied, “No, but it will seem longer.”

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14. Slam Poet Performs a Piece in Response to the Ferguson Tragedy

Danez Smith, an author and poet, wrote a piece in response to the tragedy in Ferguson called “Not an Elegy for Mike Brown.” Smith recited the poem during the preliminary rounds at the 2014 Individual World Poetry Slam.

The Button Poetry YouTube channel posted a video (embedded above) featuring Smith’s performance earlier this month and it has since drawn more than 17,000 views. What do you think? (via Upworthy)

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15. Washington, D.C. Best Kept Secrets

Hi!Washington, D.C. Travel Tips for Families!

I’ve been a United States President fanatic since first grade, so it was only natural that my mom started bringing me to Washington, D.C. during summer vacations. I’ve been there three times, and here are some tips I’ve learned.

Washington D.C. Capitol building

Photo by Nicholas Raymond

Tip #1: Everything is awesome, especially the D.C. Metro.
The Metro is an underground subway, and it is a good way to get around D.C. It’s safe, clean, and easy to use. Within a few days I learned all the lines to take. Some places don’t have a Metro stop nearby, so be ready to walk a little. It will be worth it because you are probably going somewhere awesome.

Tip #2: Get more out of your Capitol building tour.
You can book a tour through the Capitol building website or through your congressional representative. I’ve done both, and the tour from my Congressperson’s office was way better. I got to see more stuff, such as the Brumidi Corridors and the spot where George Washington laid the original cornerstone for the Capitol. It was also a smaller group, so there was more time for questions. Remember to pick up your passes to see a session of the Senate or House of Representatives. If you get lucky, you might be able to see a debate in action. I saw a minor debate and it was totally worth the line.

Tip #3: National Postal Museum: Mail yourself to a great time!
I was really surprised by this museum. I thought it would be boring, but it was extremely fun. It was interesting to see how mail delivery developed from pony carts to modern trucks and airplanes. When I was there I saw a Titanic and Hindenburg exhibit on how these accidents disrupted the mail system. I also learned about a mail dog named Owney.

Tip #4: Make a visit to Woodrow Wilson’s home.
This is not the first thing you think of when you go to D.C. (unless your parents are Princeton University alumni). You get to see Woodrow Wilson’s whole house, from the kitchen to his room. An especially interesting thing is the elevator he used to get around, since he had a wheelchair at the end of his life.

These places are just an introduction to D.C. There is a truckload full of more sites, memorials, branches of government, and museums to visit. Have fun!

Beata, Scholastic Kids Council

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16. HarperCollins Forms Partnership With JetBlue

harpercollins200HarperCollins has established a new partnership with JetBlue. Henceforth, the content platform on JetBlue’s Fly-Fi (a special inflight Wi-Fi program) will feature content from HarperCollins books.

For this month, passengers will be able to read excerpts from Patricia Cornwell’s thriller novel Flesh and Blood, Amy Poehler’s memoir Yes Please, and James Dean’s children’s book Pete the Cat and His Magic Sunglasses. Readers will have also have the option to purchase any of the available titles from a plethora of booksellers.

Here’s more from the press release: “At launch, JetBlue customers will be able to choose from excerpts of books by Daniel Silva, Martin Short, Anthony Bourdain, Patti Smith, Joyce Carol Oates, Carine McCandless, Paulo Coelho, Patricia Cornwell, Dorothea Benton Frank, Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner, Dick Couch, Amy Poehler, James Frey and Nils Johnson-Shelton, Peter Lerangis, Herman Parish, James Dean, Nate Ball, Dan Gutman, Lauren Oliver, and Erin Hunter. Titles will change monthly. Books from these HarperCollins authors will be available to customers as e-samplers via JetBlue’s Fly-Fi Hub, which is currently accessible on 35% of their fleet.”

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17. A look at Thanksgiving favorites

What started as a simple festival celebrating the year’s bountiful harvest has turned into an archetypal American holiday, with grand dinners featuring savory and sweet dishes alike. Thanksgiving foods have changed over the years, but there are still some iconic favorites that have withstood time. Hover over each food below in this interactive image and find out more about their role in this day of feasting:

What are your favorite Thanksgiving dishes? Let us know in the comments below!

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18. Thank you: musicians recall special ways their parents helped them blossom

“My thanks to my parents is vast,” says Toyin Spellman-Diaz, oboist with the Imani Winds woodwind quintet. “Without their help, I would never have become a musician.”

Many professional musicians I’ve interviewed have responded as Ms. Spellman-Diaz did, saying that their parents helped in so many ways: from locating good music teachers, schools, and summer programs, to getting them to lessons, rehearsals and performances on time, while also figuring out how to pay for it all. In addition, there are those reminders (often not well received) that parents tend to give about not forgetting to practice. Ms. Spellman-Diaz received her share of reminders, noting that “at some points, I didn’t feel like practicing. Dad’s going to be thrilled that I’ve admitted that it helped that he nagged me to practice. For decades he has been bugging me to admit that.”

But beyond these basics, when I ask musicians to recall something especially mhelpful that they’re thankful to their parents for in terms of furthering their musical development, the responses tend to focus on how a parent helped them find their own musical way.

Toyin Spellman-Diaz
Toyin Spellman-Diaz as a teenager, during a summer she spent at the Interlochen Arts Academy. Courtesy, Interlochen Arts Academy.

Toyin-Spellman Diaz: The non-musical goal her parents had while looking for a good private flute teacher for their daughter during elementary school had a profound effect on Ms. Spellman-Diaz’s musical future. “They wanted an African-American teacher so I could see a classical musician who looked like me, to show me that there were African-American classical musicians out there,” she says. Her second flute teacher was also black, as was one of the three oboe teachers she had during high school, after she switched instruments. “It absolutely made an impact and is partly why I play in the Imani Winds.” This woodwind quintet of African American musicians was started in 1997 with much the same goal her parents had: to show the changing face of classical music. However, one of her flute teachers was also into jazz. “I think my parents were trying to steer me toward jazz. They would have been really excited if I became a jazz flutist,” she says. But classical music won out, and that was fine, too. “With my parents, it was knowing when to let go and let me find my own voice, my own passion for it.”

Jonathan Biss: This pianist credits his parents with creating an “atmosphere that I didn’t feel I was doing it to please them or because it was good for me. I was doing it because I loved music.” When he was young, he too sometimes needed practice reminders. “But if they said, ‘Go practice,’ which wasn’t often, it was always accompanied by ‘if you want to do this.’ Their point was that you don’t have to do anything you don’t want to, but if you choose to do it, you have to do it well.”

Paula Robison: After she started flute at age eleven, her father realized that she had a special flair for it and “saw a possible life for me as a musician,” says Ms. Robison. He knew regular practice was essential, but he didn’t want to become an overbearing, nagging parent. So when she was twelve, they shook hands on an agreement: she promised to practice at a certain time every day and if she didn’t, it would be all right with her for him to remind her. That went well until one day during her early teens when she was “lounging around on the couch” during the hour she was supposed to practice. He reminded her of their agreement. She says she angrily “stomped up the stairs” to practice and “whirled around and shouted, ‘Someday I’m going to thank you for this!’” And she has. “I thank my father every time I pick up the flute.”

Liang Wang: When asked what he was most grateful to his parents for, this New York Philharmonic principal oboist says, “They allowed me to be what I wanted to be. A lot of parents want their kid to fit into what they think the kid should do. Oboe was an unusual choice. There aren’t many Chinese oboe players.” But he fell in love with the sound of the oboe. They supported him in his choice. He notes that his mother “wanted me to pursue my dream.”

Mark Inouye: When asked about the best musical advice he received as a young musician, Mark Inouye recalls something his father said to him at about age eleven, after a particularly disappointing Little League baseball game “in which I had played poorly,” says this principal trumpet with the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra. The pep talk his father gave him carried over to his beginning efforts on trumpet, too. He says his father told him, “You may not be the one with the most talent, but if you are the one who works the hardest, you will succeed.”

Sarah Chang: “Mom understood I had enough music teachers in my life. The best thing she did was leave the music part to everyone else and be a mom,” says violinist Sarah Chang, who started performing professionally at age eight. “Bugging me about taking my vitamins, eating my vegetables, fussing about the dresses I wore in concerts. . . She was always encouraging, my number-one supporter.”

Headline image credit: Classical Music. Notes. Via CC0 Public Domain.

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19. CEO.com & DOMO Create ‘The CEO Bookshelf’ Infographic

CEO logoHave you ever wondered what books the heads of Amazon, Facebook, and Google read? CEO.com and DOMO partnered together to create an infographic called “The CEO Bookshelf.” This piece showcases the reading preferences of 22 high-profile entrepreneurs including Marissa Mayer, Elon Musk, and Larry Page.

Here’s more from CEO.com: “CEOs might be some of the hardest-working people in the business world, but the average chief executive still carves out a block of time every day to read. In fact, Warren Buffett admits to spending 80 percent of his day reading.” We’ve embedded the entire graphic after the jump for you to explore further.

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20. Pascual and the Kitchen Angels

Pascual and the Kitchen AngelsThe Thanksgiving season is the perfect time to share an appreciation for food and cooking with kids. It is a time to be grateful for the food we have that nourishes us, and to share with others who don’t have as much. If you’re looking for inspiration, I have a book recommendation for you! With his signature folk-art illustrations, Tomie DePaola’s picture book Pascual and the Kitchen Angels recounts the legend of San Pascual, known to many Catholics (especially in Spain and Latin America) as the patron saints of cooks and the kitchen.

Pascual was born in 16th century Spain and was very devout from a young age. After working as a shepherd for most of his young life, he left home to become a Franciscan friar so he could help feed the poor. Because he had no formal education, the friars accepted him as a lay brother and he was assigned the task of cooking for the brothers. The trouble was, Pascual knew nothing about cooking! According to the legend that DePaola recounts, Pascual prayed to God for help, and angels came down from heaven and cooked a delicious meal fit for the friars. So, Pascual was able to fulfill his kitchen duties while never ceasing to pray.

San Pascual is known for living a life of prayer, humility, and service to others. The legend of his miraculous cooking is inspiring – it reminds us that cooking and eating can transcend the ordinary and become something that truly nourishes our souls and allows us to give to others.

Posted by: Parry


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21. Debbie Reese (me!) on CUNY's INDEPENDENT SOURCES

Finally had a chance to watch the segment that CUNY's Independent Sources asked me to do with them about children's books and Thanksgiving. My belly is always in knots when I do something like this. But! The people I worked with there are terrific. Thanks, Nicole and Zyphus! I think it turned out great and hope AICL's readers will take a few minutes to watch/share it, and of course, get the books I recommend!

Scroll down to see the video. Here's some screen captures of it. I'm sharing them because THEY LOOK SO COOL!








And here's the video:






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22. The history of the newspaper

On 28th November 1814 The Times in London was printed by automatic, steam powered presses for the first time. These presses, built by the German inventors Friedrich Koenig and Andreas Friedrich Bauer, meant that newspapers were now available to a new mass audience, and by 1815 The Times had a circulation of approximately 5,000 people. Now, 200 years later, newspapers around the globe inform millions of people about hundreds of topics, from current events and local news, to sports results, opinion pieces, and comic strips. The Times, along with many other newspapers, is now available online, on desktops, mobile phones, and tablets, with a circulation of over 390,000 people. Newspapers themselves date back further than November 1814, to the early 17th century when printed periodicals started replacing hand-written newssheets and the term ‘newspaper’ began to make its way into common vernacular. These first newspapers are defined as such because they were printed and dated, had regular publication intervals, and contained many different types of news. As the technology of printing improved, the spread of newspapers to more and more people grew – it may be said that as the physical printing press was invented, ‘the press’ as an entity came into being.

To celebrate this milestone in newspapers and printing we’ve brought together a reading list of free content across our online resources. Below you can discover more about the history of printing, its influence on society, how computers are used in the newspaper industry today, and much more:

What News?’ in The Invention of the Newspaper: English Newsbooks 1641-1649 by Joad Raymond
How did we find out about news before the newspaper? Before the publication of the newsbooks, the inhabitants of early-modern Britain had to rely on gossip, hearsay, occasional printed pamphlets and word-of-mouth to get to grips with what was going on outside of their communities. When newsbooks, the precursors to the modern-day newspaper, began to be printed in Britain in the 1640s, this, however, began to change. This chapter examines not just the literary and historical merit of these publications, but also analyses what they reveal about a burgeoning, British print culture.

Koenig’s 1814 steam-powered printing press. Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

Printing and Printedness’ in The Oxford Handbook of Early Modern European History, Volume 1 (Forthcoming) by James Raven
From Gutenberg’s printed bibles in 1438 to the advent of newspaper printing in the 17th century, the social, economic, and political implications of newspaper production and circulation transformed early modern Europe into a more socially aware society. The introduction of new typographical styles allowed for a more accessible and inclusive written history, contributing to a rise in European literacy no longer restricted to the upper classes. Raven tracks the impact of this evolving “print culture” on job creation and industrialization, demographic variation and new literary forms, and geographical innovations resulting from periodical dissemination.

Uses of Computing in Print Media Industries: Book Publishing, Newspapers, Magazines’ in The Digital Hand: Volume II: How Computers Changed the Work of American Financial, Telecommunications, Media, and Entertainment Industries by James W. Cortada
The rise of the computer has been a relatively sudden and recent one, and yet has changed almost every facet of our daily lives – from how we entertain ourselves, to how we communicate with each other, and much more. One field in which computers have come to reign supreme is the workplace, and this chapter examines the huge impact they have had on the world of print media industries, including book, newspaper, and magazine publishing.

Gossip and Scandal: Scrutinizing Public Figures’ in Family Newspapers?: Sex, Private Life, and the British Popular Press 1918-1978 by Adrian Bingham
Our attitudes towards celebrities, and how they are reported in the news media, have changed drastically throughout the last century. During the time of Edward VIII’s affair with American socialite Wallis Simpson in the 1930s, the press – in marked contrast to how they would have reacted today – remained silent. Things began to change in the 1950s, however, as a market developed in Britain for sensational and scandalous stories featuring the celebrities of the era. This chapter then analyses the relevance of the Profumo Affair which broke in 1963, as an example of the increasing invasive investigations undertaken by the industry.

Murder is my meat: the ethics of journalism’ in Journalism: A Very Short Introduction by Ian Hargreaves
Journalism in all forms, including newspapers, must intrinsically be truthful and accurate. Without either of these the trust of the journalist or newspaper is undermined, so codes, laws, and standards have been put in place in order to eliminate serious misconduct. This chapter reflects on the UK phone-hacking scandal and considers the ethical issues that surround journalism today.

Clicking on What’s Interesting, Emailing What’s Bizarre or Useful, and Commenting on What’s Controversial’ in The News Gap: When the Information Preferences of the Media and the Public Diverge edited by Pablo J. Boczkowski and Eugenia Mitchelstein
With the advent of the internet and mobile devices, how does society now read newspapers? With the increasing digitisation of news content, we are starting to consume and interact with news stories in different, complex ways. Taking a closer look at the data behind our interaction with online news content, this chapter analyses what might make us click on an article, and why we might comment on one, whilst emailing another to friends or family.

Headline image credit: Newspaper stack. Image by Ivy Dawned. CC-BY-SA 4.0 via Flickr.

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23. ABCs and 123s

There’s never a shortage of new alphabet and counting books. When I order new alphabet and counting books (or any concept book), I look for unique presentations of very common concepts. Alphabet and counting books range from the very simple to complex and creative story lines. My recent favorites include the following:

 

Baby Bear Counts One

(image from Simon & Schuster website)

Baby Bear Counts One (and its predecessor, Baby Bear Sees Blue) stars an endearing and realistically illustrated cub who counts his fellow creatures preparing for winter.  If a hibernation/migration story time or display is in your near future, make sure you include this one. Both Baby Bear books are rarely on our shelves for very long!

 

Backseat_chronicle books

(image from Chronicle Books website)

I’ve read enough “A is for” alphabet books that new ones really need to offer something different in order for us to add it to our collection. Backseat A-B-See offers so much to many groups of young readers: those learning the alphabet and those obsessed with all things car-oriented. Teaching the alphabet through the use of road signs is a genius idea; the bold and uncluttered illustrations makes this ideal for those too young to truly learn the alphabet (I recently bought this for my newborn niece!).

count_monkeys_author site

(image from Mac Barnett website)

Books that offer opportunities for audience interaction are always hugely popular. The wacky humor in Count the Monkeys makes this a great read aloud for children who already have the basics of counting down to a science. Counting these monkeys is indeed tricky, as they are easily scared by any number of things (including lumberjacks).

z is for moose_zelinsky site

(image from Paul O. Zelinsky website)

Z is for Moose is not your basic “A is for apple” picture book. This hilarious story about a moose with its nose out of joint when “M” in the letter pageant stands for “mouse” instead of “moose” teaches lessons of cooperation and sharing without being preachy in the slightest.

 

What are your favorite unique alphabet or counting books? Share in the comments!

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24. Happy Thanksgiving! Now Go Listen to a Podcast

Joyeux Turkey Day, my fellows!  Between bites of sweet potato and rolls, perhaps it might do the soul good to listen to a l’il ole podcast that’s actually a bit perfect for the day.  The “original” Thanksgiving was between Pilgrims and Native Americans, or so we were taught in grade school, yes?  Well perhaps we should do away with the myths and listen to some American Indians today in one of my Children’s Literary Salons.  Normally they’re not recorded but Cheryl Klein and her husband James Monohan turned one such Salon into a podcast.  Here’s Cheryl’s description of it:

In happier news, the recording of the Native American Young Adult literature panel at the New York Public Library is now available here: http://www.thenarrativebreakdown.com/archives/698. Joseph Bruchac (author of KILLER OF ENEMIES), Stacy Whitman, Eric Gansworth (author of IF I EVER GET OUT OF HERE), and I had a terrific conversation (moderated by Betsy Ramsey Bird) about finding Native authors, the editor-author relationship across cultural lines, creating authentic covers, and the many pleasures of Native YA books. Please listen! ‪#‎Weneeddiversebooks‬

Go!  Enjoy!  You’ll feel happy you did.  They were an impressive crew and kept me on my toes.

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25. Picture Book Starring Two Moms Featured On Kickstarter

Christy Tyner hopes to raise $13,000 on Kickstarter for a children’s book about a family with two mothers called Zak’s Safari. The funds will be used to cover the cost of printing, designing the artwork, and shipping.

The finished book will contain 34 pages of full-color illustrations. We’ve embedded a video about the project above. Here’s more from the Kickstarter page:

“When the rain foils Zak’s plan for a safari adventure, he invites the reader on a very special tour of his family instead. Zak shows us how his parents met, fell in love, and wanted more than anything to have a baby—so they decided to make one…It’s my hope that this book will provide a starting place for many future conversations with your kids about their donor and conception story.”

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