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Results 26 - 50 of 134,363
26. Certain Songs #525: Goo Goo Dolls – “Flat Top”

goo goo dolls Album: A Boy Named Goo
Year: 1995

The Goo Goo Dolls followed up the ragged glories of Jed & Hold Me Up with the too-slick-by-half Superstar Car Wash, which featured a few great songs (especially “Girl Right Next To Me” & “String of Lies”), but lacked the sense of bratty humor that suffused the early records.

Gone were the fun covers that had been sung by a local lounge singer named Lance Diamond (including the suddenly sadly relevant “I Could Never Take The Place of Your Man”), and in their place, a disappointing collaboration with Paul Westerberg.

Then in 1995, they dropped A Boy Named Goo, their attempt to replicate the pop-punk success that Green Day had with Dookie, and it totally stiffed.

Well, at first. I remember seeing them at Slims in San Francisco shortly after it came out, and I couldn’t for life of me figure out why Green Day had hit it big and these guys couldn’t.

Then “Name” came out, and somehow went to #5, opening the door to a string of huge singles and closing their door from their punk roots once and for all.

And while I liked “Name” as an album cut for six months before it became a huge hit single, I still think that if they were going to break through, it should have been with “Flat Top,” which is as good as punk-pop gets.

Starting off with a slow, anthemic riff, “Flat Top” suddenly takes off into the usual punk speed and featured Johnny Rzeznik’s actually perceptive lyrics about the mid-1990s media landscape, even referencing St. Joe Strummer at one point:

And conscience keeps us quiet while the crooked love to speak
There’s knowledge wrapped in blankets on the street
A visionary coward says that anger can be power
As long as there’s a victim on TV

Then it pulls up short, and with soon-to-be-sacked drummer George Tutuska emphasizing the end of each couplet with a “whack” of his snare, Rzeznik sings a chorus that’s never left my head:

And it’s fallin’ all around us
Is this some kind of joke they’re trying to pull on us?
Fallin’ all around us
I’ll turn my head off for a while

With the guitars crunching and jangling all around him, and the tempo speeding up and slowing down, “Flat Top” hammers its point home with a pair of long guitar solos in its second half. The first one replicates the melody line of the chorus, before speeding off into the stratosphere, and the second one just floats away into the fade at the end.

That said, I disliked “Iris” so much that I didn’t even bother with 1998’s Dizzy Up The Girl, or any of the subsequent releases.

My gut was that once they tasted the sweet nectar of the mainstream, the things I loved about their early 1990s music were pretty much gone forever.

Official Video for “Flat Top”

Every Certain Song Ever
A filterable, searchable & sortable database with links to every “Certain Song” post I’ve ever written.

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Certain Songs Spotify playlist
(It’s recommended that you listen to this on Spotify as their embed only has 200 songs.)

Support “Certain Songs” with a donation on Patreon
Go to my Patreon page

The post Certain Songs #525: Goo Goo Dolls – “Flat Top” appeared first on Booksquare.

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27. Dare to Dance: Introducing Dance Movements and Music into your Storytimes

Are you ready to energize your storytimes with dancing that goes beyond movement songs? Are you ready to dare to use your body to motivate caregivers while promoting children’s developmental needs for coordination, balance and gross motor skills?

Dancing Girls

Kids enjoy the Music in this Public Domain image from Cane River Creole National Historical Park

Our library expanded the role of our storytimes into a program that offers more than reading books, nursery rhymes and singing songs. We introduced Dance Time to teach children basic dance steps while listening to an age appropriate song.

There is so much librarians can do to enhance the library experience through dancing. Dancing provides opportunities for adults and children to learn to:

  • Follow the beats of the song with their feet and or hands
  • Balance their body parts
  • Coordinate their body movements

Additional benefits of dancing include:

  • Improve muscle tone
  • Reduce anxiety
  • Increase ability to feel comfortable about oneself

Although dancing is a natural channel of expression for many cultures, children from other cultures, including some that are predominant in the United Stated, are hardly exposed to it. In some cultures, babies are exposed to music and dancing from birth, with moms dancing around holding their babies in their arms regularly. Soon baby and mommy-and-baby dancing transforms into a semi dancing lesson with caregivers holding and moving their toddles’ hands and arms while following the beats of a song. As the child’s motor skills develop, the caregiver will now focus on simple steps using the child’s legs and feet. Dance will continue be part of the child’s life in elementary school where different dances are taught in music class.

Coming from a culture where this type of exposure to dance is widespread, in my work as a Youth Services Librarian, I noticed that lack of coordinated body movements following a rhythmic patterns in children attending our programs. Naturally, this observation changes depending on the cultural background of clients.

As a result of my observations, I supplemented our storytimes with a portion of the program called Dance Time. During Dance Time, children and caregivers are encouraged to dance to a tune following three basic dance steps that are reinforced at every storytime. When I introduced Dance Time for the first time, many children and parents were reluctant to follow me. However, after a couple months of Dance Time, these same clients appeared more relaxed and moved happily following the beat of the music.

Music is contagious and is an excellent tool to uplift spirits and transform a library program into a lifelong learning experience. Many librarians already use children’s songs during storytime. However, have you offered a “dance activity” or “movement song” to invigorate your programs? Let us know about it in the comments below.

If you feel ready to dare, try the following dance songs in your storytime:

  • Palo, palo Music Together. Palo, Palo. [Arranged and adapted by Gerry Dignan and K. Guilmartin]. Music Together: Bringing harmony Home [CD]. Princeton NJ: (2007)
  • El baile del perrito (Wilfrido Vargas)

***************************************************************************

Photo courtesy of guest blogger

Photo courtesy of guest blogger

Our guest blogger today is Kathia Ibacache. Kathia is a Youth Services Librarian at Simi Valley Public Library. She has worked as a music teacher and Early Music Performer and earned a MLIS from San José State University and a DMA from the University of Southern California. She loves to read realistic fiction and horror stories and has a special place in her heart for film music.

Please note that as a guest post, the views expressed here do not represent the official position of ALA or ALSC.

If you’d like to write a guest post for the ALSC Blog, please contact Mary Voors, ALSC Blog manager, at alscblog@gmail.com.

The post Dare to Dance: Introducing Dance Movements and Music into your Storytimes appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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28. Sneak Peek: The Untimely Deaths of Alex Wayfare by MG Buehrlen + Giveaway (US Only)

Hi, YABCers! Today we're super excited to present a sneak peek from MG Buehrlen's THE UNTIMELY DEATHS OF ALEX WAYFARE, which released April 26, 2016 from Diversion Books. Check out information about the book below, the sneak peek, and a giveaway!   THE UNTIMELY DEATHS OF ALEX WAYFARE by MG Buehrlen...

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29. Press Release: The Rule of Thoughts by James Dashner

  Now available in paperback!   The Rule of Thoughts   By the New York Times Bestselling Author of The Maze Runner Series   Includes bonus content from the forthcoming prequel to the Maze Runner series, The Fever Code    Praise for the Mortality Doctrine series: “Dashner takes full advantage of the Matrix-esque potential for asking...

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30. Featured Review: Queen of Hearts by Colleen Oakes

About this book: The first novel in Colleen Oakes’s epic, imaginative series tells the origin of one of the most infamous villains—the Queen of Hearts. This is not the story of the Wonderland we know. Alice has not fallen down a rabbit hole. This is a Wonderland where beneath each smile...

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31. ALSC Member of the Month – Melissa Morwood

Each month, an ALSC member is profiled and we learn a little about their professional life and a bit about their not-so-serious side. Using just a few questions, we try to keep the profiles fun while highlighting the variety of members in our organization. So, without further ado, welcome to our ALSC profile, ten (plus one) questions with ALSC member, Melissa Morwood.

1. What do you do, and how long have you been doing it?

Courtesy photo from Melissa Morwood”

“Courtesy photo from Melissa Morwood”

I am a Senior Children’s Librarian for the Palo Alto City Library, and I have been here for 11 years. I present weekly storytimes for babies, toddlers, and preschoolers, host class visits, plan and present school-age and family programming for our customers, and help folks on both the kids and adult reference desks.

2. Why did you join ALSC? Do you belong to any other ALA divisions or roundtables?

I initially joined ALSC to feel a sense of community with other children’s librarians across the country, since for many years I was the only youth services staff person at my branch. I have gained so much through my membership- the ALSC blog posts are always fantastic, and they help me to grow as a librarian, and to provide better service to our customers.

3.  Are you ready for Summer Reading?

I’m in charge of our library’s Summer Reading Program for the third year in a row, so I’ve been thinking about Summer Reading since January! We’ll be doing early Summer Reading registrations as part of a kindergarten library card campaign this year, so it’s only a few more weeks until we have to be ready for the program to go live. And I always look forward to our Kick-Off party, which features music, ice cream, and lots of happy families.

4.   Are you starting to make plans for retirement?

Yes! I’ve still got 19 more years until I can retire, but my husband and I are already making plans to move to California’s north coast where we went to college at Humboldt State University. We love the smaller towns, the laid back atmosphere, and the combination of redwoods, farmland, and desolate beaches. It’s a gorgeous area with friendly people.

5.    What’s the last book you recommended to a friend?

Phoebe and Her Unicorn, by Dana Simpson. I just read it last week, quickly followed by the sequel Unicorn on Wheels. The books are humorous yet sweet, and it cracks me up how endearing Marigold is to the reader, despite being such an egomaniac. Some of my other favorite graphic novels include Roller Girl, Baba Yaga’s Assistant, and This One Summer.

6.    What’s your favorite piece of technology?

My iphone. When I’m not at work, I enjoy not being tied to a desktop computer if I need to send a quick email or get directions. I also love having my phone’s camera capabilities ready at all times for when my 11 month old twin niece and nephew inevitably do something super cute.

7.   Do you have any family traditions?

Every year on Christmas Eve my husband, dog, and I curl up in our pjs and watch Love Actually. It’s been our annual tradition for close to 10 years now, and I always look forward to it.

8.   What is the last song you sang?

The More We Get Together. It’s my closing song each week at Baby Storytime, and we do the sign language along with it. I do two Baby Storytime sessions every Tuesday morning, and I had over 140 attendees between the two programs this morning!

9.   If you could bring back any extinct animal, which would it be?

Definitely dinosaurs (preferably herbivorous dinosaurs…) Regardless of how badly all of the Jurassic Park movies end, I still always turn to my husband and say “I’d TOTALLY visit Jurassic Park!”

10.  How do you incorporate STEM/STEAM activities in your work with children? 

I’m actually doing my very first STEM-based program tomorrow afternoon! We’re having an Engineers at Work program, where kids in grades 2-5 will be challenged to create marble runs out of household materials, and then we’ll have races to see how well each run works. I was inspired to try STEAM programming after watching ALSC webinars presented by Amy Koester, who makes STEAM programming look so fun and easy.

11.  What’s your favorite thing to do when you are not working?

Hanging out with my husband and talking about children’s literature. He’s a kindergarten teacher, and it’s so much fun to recommend books for him to read to his class- they love the Mercy Watson and Princess in Black series. It’s great to be able to geek out regarding the ALSC Book & Media Awards, and have him not only listen but actively participate in the conversation. He’s super supportive of my dream to serve on an ALSC award committee someday.

*********************************************************************************

Thanks, Melissa! What a fun continuation to our monthly profile feature!

Do you know someone who would be a good candidate for our ALSC Monthly Profile? Are YOU brave enough to answer our ten questions? Send your name and email address to alscblog@gmail.com; we’ll see what we can do.

The post ALSC Member of the Month – Melissa Morwood appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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32. Photoshop workshop

Adelle van Zyl, illustrator and graphic designer, showed participants techniques and steps she used to create illustrations for Rympies vir Pikkies & Peuters. The demonstration covered the following: Scanning line drawings, ensuring correct quality and colour settings Removing background, enhancing colour and touching up of line drawing using Photoshop - working with a stylus and tablet

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33. Featured Review: A Walk in the Sun by Michelle Zink

About this book: In this Bridges of Madison County for teens, Michelle Zink weaves a magnetic tale about summer love that stays with you long after the seasons change. Rose Darrow never wanted to spend her life working on her family’s farm. But when her family is rocked by an unexpected...

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34. Giveaway: The Trials of Apollo by Rick Riordan (US Only)


THE TRIALS OF APOLLO: THE HIDDEN ORACLE by Rick Riordan In stores May 3rd   ABOUT THE BOOK   New series from #1New York Timesbestselling author Rick Riordan.   After angering his father Zeus, the god Apollo is cast down from Olympus. Weak and disoriented, he lands in New York City...

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35. Children’s Literary Salon: The Art of Enthusiasm

We’re just hitting it out of the park now.  Fast on the heels of our last Salon with Jeanne Birdsall and N.D. Wilson (info below), this coming Saturday I managed to bring together the three kings of children’s book social media.  Behold!

Screen Shot 2016-05-02 at 10.09.33 PM

If you’d like to watch the discussion live, tune in 2:00 CST here.  And if you live in the area, you simply have to come.  Never before have these three been interviewed at the same time by . . . uh . . me.  Or possibly anyone else (note to self: check if this is true).

Curious about Travis Jonker’s picture, by the way?  As I recall it was made for him by video and film director Michel Gondry.  You can read Travis’s piece about it here.  John’s is by Dan Santat.  I’m going to need to ask Colby who did his.

By the way, did you miss our last Salon last Saturday when Jeanne Birdsall and N.D. Wilson spoke on the topic of how their personal belief systems inform their writing?  Good news!  Not only did I record the, quite frankly, killer talk but the sound quality was a lot better than last time.  Here’s the timeline of the video:

  • At 0:00 Nate is running a bit late but since it was a live feed I wanted to keep folks watching in the loop.
  • At 2:36 Jeanne Birdsall and I have a finger puppet show as we wait for Nate to show up.  I have flashbacks to my sock puppet interview from 8 years ago.
  • At 3:30 the talk begins.
  • And at 12:45 I tilt the screen back a bit so that it doesn’t look like our heads are all scraping the ceiling.

Enjoy!

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36. Certain Songs #526: Gordon Lightfoot – “If You Could Read My Mind”

gordon lightfoot sit down young stranger Album: Sit Down Young Stranger
Year: 1970

With a melody line that instantly felt like it had been floating in the ether for thousands of years before Gordon Lightfoot tracked it down and harnessed it, “If You Could Read My Mind” is definitely in the running for the Prettiest Song Ever Recorded, Folk Rock Division.

It’s also a song that has always stopped me in my tracks, as I try to decipher how something so shamelessly beautiful could also feel so effortless.

If you could read my mind, love
What a tale my thoughts could tell
Just like an old time movie
About a ghost from a wishing well
In a castle dark or a fortress strong
With chains upon my feet
You know that ghost is me
And I will never be set free
As long as I’m a ghost you can see

Hell. The way he sings “You know that ghost is me” in the first verse is so lovely and understated you might not even notice how totally fucking sad it is, as well.

And so it goes. There isn’t even really a chorus for “If You Could Read My Mind.” Because there doesn’t even need to be a chorus.

All it needs is the long and gorgeous melody line that underscores the second half of each verse, as well as this utterly devastating lyric:

I never thought I could act this way
And I’ve got to say that I just don’t get it
I don’t know where we went wrong
But the feelings gone and I just can’t get it back

By this point, the strings are soaring in the background as well, but they never feel syrupy or overkill. Instead, they feel totally natural, like they they weren’t even really recorded on purpose, but rather just appeared on the final master.

Though I would assume that the producer of “If You Could Read My Mind,” Lenny Waronker, would dispute that.

Weirdly enough, “If You Could Read My Mind” isn’t a song that totally emotionally devastates me, despite that is clearly its intention. I think I’m so enthralled by the beauty of the melody that it creates a shield where I’m immune to everything else about it.

“If You Could Read My Mind”

“If You Could Read My Mind” performed live on The Midnight Special, 1974

Every Certain Song Ever
A filterable, searchable & sortable database with links to every “Certain Song” post I’ve ever written.

Check it out!

Certain Songs Spotify playlist
(It’s recommended that you listen to this on Spotify as their embed only has 200 songs.)

Support “Certain Songs” with a donation on Patreon
Go to my Patreon page

The post Certain Songs #526: Gordon Lightfoot – “If You Could Read My Mind” appeared first on Booksquare.

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37. 10 Problems Only People Who Play an Instrument Understand

10 Problems Only People Who Play an Instrument Understand

Do you play an instrument? Are you one of those fabulously talented people who can transform an empty room into an instant dance party? Well, we know it’s not easy being awesome, so this Top Ten List is for you! We’ve compiled a list of top 10 problems only people who play an instrument understand.

  1. Spit valves and emptying your spit. (Eww).
  2. What to wear to the band concert.
  3. Messing up your solo at the band concert!
  4. Your saxophone, backpack, and athletic gear take up an ENTIRE school bus seat.
  5. Saying this to your friends: “I can’t come over today. I have to practice.”
  6. Short nails (sorry violin players).
  7. When you have to rehearse a song that you hate over and over and over . . . and over again.
  8. A broken string at the worst possible time.
  9. When your little brother “practices” on your trumpet.
  10. Demands to perform at every family gathering.

What about you guys? Do you play an instrument? Let us know some of YOUR problems in the Comments below!

-Ratha, Writer

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38. Interview Time! John Patrick Green in Conversation with Eric Colossal

Who? What? Where? When? Why?

It’s a blog tour, kiddos!  A tour of bloggy goodness.  More than that, it’s a graphic novel blog tour done to celebrate Children’s Book Week in all its fancypants glory.

The subject of today’s interview is none other than Eric Colossal.  Colossal, if the name is new to you, is the author of the danged funny RUTABAGA series.  I’m a big fan of those books as they combine two of my favorite things: quests and eating.  And in a bit of a twist, I won’t be doing the interview here today, though.  That honor goes to John Patrick Green, author of the upcoming HIPPOTAMISTER.

Take it away, John!


  • Colossal, EricYour series is about a plucky adventurer who constantly finds himself in sticky situations that he manages to get out of by cooking delicious foods. How did this concept come about?

Growing up, I loved fantasy stories filled with weird beasts and mystical magic but I was always confused about why no one talked about the food in these lands. I mean, here in the real world we eat some pretty strange stuff. We eat bee barf and call it honey, we grind up a rock and put it on our food and call it salt. How come people who live in these magical lands never eat the strange beasts they fight in the bottoms of dungeons? So I created Rutabaga to do just that!

 

  • At the back of each book are a few complete recipes that readers can cook. How do you come up with those? I’ll admit, even the fictional recipes Rutabaga makes on his quests look tasty! Where do you get the ideas for those?

There are two criteria I have for making a recipe to share: Does the recipe contain a fun activity and does the final product look unique. For instance, there’s nothing new about dipping grapes in chocolate but taking that idea and adding steps to the recipe that make the final product look like a chocolate spider with a big ol’ squishy butt, that’s a perfect recipe for Rutabaga! In fact, that recipe is in book 2 and it’s one of my favorites! 

 

  • What is your creative process like?

9781419716584I watch a LOT of documentaries on food and food culture. My favorite ones talk about why people eat what they eat. Sure it’s fun to find out HOW to cook something but if you tell me WHY a culture has the diet it has you don’t just learn about food, you learn about people, and stories are about people. Other than that, most of my time is spent at my computer writing and drawing. I make the entire book digitally which is really handy when you have 2 cats who like to chew on paper!

 

  • Which do you love more: food or comics? Please explain your answer in a piechart. Or maybe just a pie.

It’s a tough choice but I’m going to have to say I love food more. A comic can take up to a year to write, draw, and color but you can cook a huge 3 course meal in about 2 hours. Imagine if it took a year to make breakfast! And just for fun here’s that pie chart you asked for:

 

  • What else are you working on? Can we expect further adventures of Rutabaga and his trusty kettle, Pot? Maybe an entire cookbook?

I have so many Rutabaga stories to tell, you have no idea! I probably have enough material for at least another 8 books! As long as there are people who want to read about my goofy little chef and his metal pal, I’ll keep making them!

  • What comics or children’s books are you currently reading?

Below the RootThe last book I read was a young adult book called “Below The Root” by Zilpha Keatley Snyder. It’s an older book about a society of people who live in cities built on gigantic trees. They wear long flowing robes that allow them to glide around in the air to get from branch to branch. They’re an extremely peaceful race, they don’t eat meat, they don’t fight, they won’t even write on paper because it would hurt a tree to make the paper. The books follow a group of children as they uncover the history of their people and the sinister things that have been done in the name of protecting them. It’s a three book series and I greatly enjoyed it!


 

Thanks for the interview, guys!  And what a fantastic book to end on.  Honestly, it would have been even more awesome if you’d mentioned the Commodore 64 game of Below the Root that was based on the book (to the best of my knowledge, the ONLY children’s book to be adapted into the Commodore 64 gaming system format), but we’ll let it slide.

 

Want to read more of these interviews?  Here’s the full blog tour:

Monday, May 2ndForever YA featuring Gene Luen Yang

Monday, May 2nd  – Read Write Love featuring Lucas Turnbloom

Monday, May 2ndKid Lit Frenzy featuring Kory Merritt

Tuesday, May 3rdSharp Read featuring Ryan North

Tuesday, May 3rdTeen Lit Rocks featuring MK Reed

Wednesday, May 4thLove is Not a Triangle featuring Chris Schweizer

Wednesday, May 4thSLJ Good Comics for Kids featuring Victoria Jamieson

Thursday, May 5thThe Book Wars featuring Judd Winick

Thursday, May 5thSLJ Fuse #8 featuring Eric Colossal

Friday, May 6thSLJ Scope Notes featuring Nathan Hale

Friday, May 6thThe Book Rat featuring Faith Erin Hicks

Saturday, May 7thYA Bibliophile featuring Mike Maihack

Saturday, May 7thSupernatural Snark featuring Sam Bosma

Sunday, May 8thCharlotte’s Library featuring Maris Wicks

Sunday, May 8thThe Roarbots featuring Raina Telgemeier

Thanks to Gina Gagliano and the good folks at First Second for setting this up with me.

 

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39. Sneak Peek: Alice and the Fly by James Rice + Giveaway (US Only)

Hi, YABCers! Today we're super excited to present a sneak peek from James Rice's ALICE AND THE FLY, releasing May 3, 2016. Below, you can read the sneak peek and enter the fabulous giveaway! ALICE AND THE FLY by James Rice Release date: May 3, 2016   About the Book Miss...

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40. National Short Story Month - Sex Coffee by Desiree Cooper

Thought we'd start off National Short Story Month with  a read of an online journal short story. "Sex Coffee" by Desiree Cooper comes to us from Blood Orange Review. This is a great little flash piece that starts off:

 

You walk into the coffeehouse and pick a seat beside the thin woman whose beauty is coiled into tight vines of hair. Never seen her here before, you think as you slide into the bench beside her, careful not to get caught looking in her direction.

You take off your coat, power up your laptop, check your cell phone for messages. You coyly lay your trap.

 

I generally like second person point of view pieces--one thing I've found is that those that have made it into publication are usually written very well. I almost think that a little extra care must have gone into each one to help the story/poem/novel/essay get past whatever hang-ups an editor might have had about the point of view.

I like how, even though this is a pretty short flash, Cooper was able to find something to use as a thread from beginning to end--from the third paragraph:

 

The skinny, clear-skinned woman looks up, a gazelle at the watering hole.

 

From later toward the very end of the piece:

 

She leans so close to your lips, you can smell the savannah in her pores.

 

It's an example to me of the little things that Cooper does within her stories, both flash and the longer pieces, that elevates her work. Examples like this are easy to spot throughout Cooper's stories. "Sex Coffee" is an excellent flash capturing a certain type of dude just perfectly. While short in length, it doesn't lack any power, not wasting any words or space on the page. A great start to the month and just one more great effort from Desiree Cooper.

 

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41. Guest Post: Skila Brown on Having Fun With Writing

By Skila Brown
for Cynthia Leitich Smith's Cynsations

Skila Brown is the author of verse novels Caminar and To Stay Alive, as well as the picture book Slickety Quick: Poems About Sharks, all with Candlewick Press. 

She received an M.F.A. from Vermont College of Fine Arts. She grew up in Kentucky and Tennessee and now lives in Indiana where she writes books for readers of all ages.

We all reach a point when writing doesn’t feel very fun. Maybe because we’ve read too many rejection letters. Or maybe because we’ve revised so much we can’t recognize our story. Or maybe because we’re under a deadline and the pressure to finish takes away all the enjoyment.

October, 2016
But remember why we started doing this? It wasn’t because we wanted to get rich quick. (Ha!) Or because it was the only job we could do. Or because anyone was making us write. It was because it was fun.

The art of creating story was fun. We became writers because we like telling stories—we like making up details, researching history and narrating events. All of that was fun.

Six years ago, I got serious about becoming a writer and applied to an MFA program. When I got a call from the admissions office saying, “Hey – we’re doing this intensive picture book semester and we have room for one more student. Would you like to try it?”

I thought, That could be fun. And I soon found myself immersed.

Six months of reading almost nothing but picture books. Dozens of picture books. Hundreds of picture books. Rhyming ones, silly ones, concept books, fairy tales. Biographies, bedtime stories, wordless books and—poetry.

The thing about sitting down at the library and reading through a knee-high stack of poetry books is that after reading a dozen, two dozen, I started to see really fast what makes a certain one good. I really liked the ones that were centered around a theme, with varied types of poetry and bonus little nonfiction facts sprinkled on top.

 I should try to do that, I thought. Being enrolled in a class that expected me to produce many picture book drafts in a short period of time didn’t let me dwell on whether it was a good idea or not. It just demanded that I try it out. That I play with it.

And I did. It was fun to research shark breeds and learn about sharks I’d never heard of before. (Hello, cookie-cutter shark!)

I spent a lot of time on YouTube watching sharks swim and thinking about their rhythm and shape and how that would feed into a poem. It was fun to learn new stuff. And it was really fun to try my hand at writing all different types of poems.

To challenge myself to make sure the next one didn’t rhyme or the next one was a concrete poem or the next one was a haiku. Not all of the experimenting worked. But every bit of it was fun.

As writers we need to remember what drew us to this field to begin with and do whatever we can to find the fun again. Here are 4 quick ways you can find the fun in writing this week:

  1. Be a spy. Go outside and find an animal or a plant and just sit and watch it for 10 minutes, writing down whatever comes to mind. See if you can take that and shape it into a poem when the time is up. 
  2. Play a game. Find a Mad Libs. Caption a funny photo.  
  3. Have fun with first lines. Opening sentences can be really fun to make up. Write a list of ten of them and then send the list out to your critique group. Let them vote on one that you’ll turn into a short story. 
  4. Write something that is completely out of your comfort zone. If you normally write YA contemporary, try writing a scene of a middle grade historical novel. Write the end of a story. Write in second person. Do something new and fresh that shakes it up a little in your routine.

It’s worth it to take a break from the WIP and play a little. Remembering what’s fun about writing will improve your energy level on your current project.

But that’s not why you should do it. You should do it because it’s fun.

Cynsational Notes

Educator's Guide
Skila's new book, Slickety Quick: Poems About Sharks, was illustrated by Bob Kolar (Candlewick, 2016). From the promotional copy:

Fourteen shark species, from the utterly terrifying to the surprisingly docile, glide through the pages of this vibrantly illustrated, poetic picture book.

These concrete poems about a selection of sharks will tickle the fins of many an aspiring marine biologist. —Booklist

All in all, it’s a book that ought to leave many readers fascinated—and perhaps a little unsettled—by the diversity of sharks that exist beneath the waves. —Publishers Weekly

An inviting format to spark shark discussions. —Kirkus Reviews

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42. Sneak Peek: Shining Sea by Mimi Cross + Giveaway (US Only)

Hi, YABCers! Today we're super excited to present a sneak peek from Mimi Cross's SHINING SEA, releasing May 24, 2016 from Skyscape. Check out information about the book below, the sneak peek, and a giveaway!     SHINING SEA by Mimi Cross Release date: May 24, 2016 Publisher: Skyscape ISBN: 978-1503935532  ...

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43. Certain Songs #524: Prince – “The One U You Wanna C”

prince planet earth Album: Planet Earth
Year: 2007

One of the things I loved most about Prince was one of the things that was most frustrating about Prince: his incredible prolificness. So while I really liked both The Gold Experience and it’s Contractual Obligation follow-up, Chaos and Disorder, I somehow lost the plot again, and pretty much missed everything he did until Musicology.

Which means I get to play catch-up — really looking forward to finding and listening to Emancipation and Crystal Ball, among others — but it also means that I’m really only writing about one song to represent the last two decades of his career.

Obviously, I’m not alone in this: most of the obits I’ve read focus on his 1980s, when he was truly groundbreaking, and not the 2000s, when he was running around in the huge construction site he had created.

Had I been playing along at home this whole time — the way I’ve been able to with the equally prolific Neil Young — there would be a few more songs to write about.

And maybe in a couple of years, when I finally get to where I would have naturally written about Prince, I’ll write about those other songs.

So figure “The One U Wanna C” as a stand-in for a bunch of great songs I’ve not yet discovered.

It hails from 2007’s Planet Earth, which is my favorite of his post-millennial albums that I’ve heard. Planet Earth features an awesome album cover. I mean how hilarious is that shot of the god-like Prince looming over the world and clearly finding the rest of us — except for the smart & hot women — lacking.

In any event, “The One U Wanna C” is Prince in pure pop mode, right down to the come-on in the lyrics.

I got a lotta money
I don’t wanna spend it on me
I like pretty thangs
You’re just as pretty as you can be

So if you ain’t busy later
And you want some company
I ain’t tryin’ to be a hater but I’m the one
I’m the one, the one u wanna c, u wanna c

With its twin low-down, slightly psychedelic guitar hooks, disco bassline, call-and-response vocals, and random handclaps, “The One U Wanna C” would have slotted right in with his classic run of singles, and if radio — or anybody — gave a shit back in 2007, it could have been a huge comeback hit.

Either that, or it’s a complete throwaway. Just a dumb pop song by a guy who’d been tossing them off for decades and I honestly can’t even tell anymore.

I’ll let you know later, after I’ve used his death to fully purify myself in the Lake Minnetonka of his music.

“The One U Wanna C”

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The post Certain Songs #524: Prince – “The One U You Wanna C” appeared first on Booksquare.

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44. Default: White

Alternate Title: The Call Is Coming From Inside the House

So yesterday at lunchtime I trotted out my neat little stack of periodicals to read while I munched a ham sandwich.  I picked up the latest Kirkus (1 May 2016) and there I saw the Vicky Smith article: “Unmaking the White Default”.  As many of you may have noticed recently, Kirkus made a significant shift in the way that they review.  Normally, a children’s or YA book review will eschew mentioning the ethnicity of a human character unless that character isn’t white.  The implicit message to this is that white is the default and anything that isn’t white is the exception rather than the rule.  To combat this problem, Kirkus has taken to mentioning the ethnicity of all human characters, or at least making note of their skin tones.  In this article, Vicky discussed the change.

When this switch was initially made, the responses were mixed.  I’ve listened to the Horn Book Podcast that discussed the decision, noted the mistake in the Kirkus review of The Night Gardener (the 2016 picture book, not the Jonathan Auxier gothic middle grade), and taken an interest in the SLJ reviewers’ online course on diversity & cultural literacy (so far they have 125+ registered).

Imagine me reading all this while twiddling my thumbs.  Dum de dum.  Toodle-oo.  Hum hum hum.  Not really thinking too hard.  I review for Kirkus so, like all reviewers there, I’ve been adjusting my reviews as I write them.  There’s an art to it, really.  Some folks have been concerned that this sort of thing just reinforces how obsessed we are over skin color.  I see that, absolutely.  And I look forward to the day a Kirkus editor writes an article rescinding this reviewing method because we’ve come so far as a nation that we don’t need it anymore.  At the same time, I’m pretty sure the publishing industry isn’t quite there yet.  Or, for that matter, the nation.

I suppose it’s because I review for Kirkus that it took me this long to come to a very personal realization.  First off, do I agree with what Kirkus is doing?  Actually, I do.  The white default is more annoying than the old italicize-all-foreign-languages trope and hardly less bothersome than the describe-darker-skin-tones-entirely-in-terms-of-food method.

As Vicky Smith mentioned, it’s hardly a change everyone likes.  I saw that one commenter on the Horn Book podcast site wrote, “Why stop at hair color, eye color, skin color, DNA? Perhaps in the digital book future, we will move toward even greater specificity. A child could be placed at the center of each book she reads, the details customized to be about herself, the most interesting subject in all the world.”  A comment placing the whole debate in the context of how personalized electronic information leads to narcissistic youth sort of misses the point.  There may be kids out there that only want to read books about kids of their own races, but Kirkus isn’t doing this for them.  Would you find fault in a review mentioning a character’s chosen gender?  As a librarian, I need to know precisely what each book I read or need to read contains.  Characters are more than their ethnic backgrounds, but at the same time your race informs your life.  Not everyone has the luxury of ignoring it.

So.  We come to it.  If I agree with Kirkus, would I apply their method of mentioning all skin tones to the reviews I write on this blog?

Huh.

Hadn’t really occurred to me before.

I mean, the reviews that I write for this blog are my brand.  If this blog dropped off the face of the earth tomorrow, it would be the reviews I’d really miss writing.  And in the time that I’ve been writing them I’ve settled into a nice comfortable little format.  Opening paragraph, description of the book, mentions of writing, mentions of art (if applicable), concerns, closing paragraph.  Easy peasy.  And in my time reviewing I don’t think I’ve made an active change to the format at all.

Is white the default when I review?  Yes indeed.

Could I change this?  Yes indeed.

Now let me be clear about a couple things right off the bat.  When Kirkus first started applying this method to their reviews, it was awkward.  They got the details wrong on some books and shoehorned the mentions into some of the reviews.  I have a theory, and I could be completely off, that there’s been a learning curve since then.  There is an elegance to how you describe a character in any review.  Done correctly and with careful consideration and the mention feels natural.  Done wrong and it feels almost didactic.

In the end, and when you boil it all down, this is an easy switch to make.  I’m going to give it a try and see how it goes.  Plus, I have a distinct advantage over Kirkus.  While they must bring up racial skin tones within a scant 225 words, I have all the time in the world in my own reviews to make the mentions.  In a way, bloggers are in a better position to try out this change than professional review journals.

Die, default.  Die.

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45. What's New in YA--May 3, 2016

Are you wondering what's new in YA today? Check out these wonderful new releases!       Feyre survived Amarantha’s clutches to return to the Spring Court–but at a steep cost. Though she now has the powers of the High Fae, her heart remains human, and it can’t forget the terrible deeds she performed...

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46. Featured Review: Night Speed by Chris Howard

About this book: Only those young enough can survive the pulse-pounding rush of tetra, a dangerous and addictive new drug that fuels a nine-minute burst of superhuman strength and speed. Alana West has been trained to use the drug so she can pursue the young criminals who abuse its power—criminals like...

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47. Wilder Times Ahead!

WilderBeverly Cleary                                           Ashley Bryan

Katherine Paterson                                  E.B. White

Donald Crews                                            Virginia Hamilton

Virginia Hamilton                                     Jerry Pinkney

What do all these talented people have in common?

They are just a few recipients of the Laura Ingalls Wilder award, presented  to “an author or illustrator whose books, published in the United States, have made, over a period of years, a substantial and lasting contribution to literature for children.” First given in 1954 to Laura Ingalls Wilder, the award was originally presented every five years and has evolved; it is now given annually.

What author or illustrator do you think has made their mark on American children’s literature?  The 2017 Wilder Committee is seeking your suggestions of  authors and illustrators to be considered for next year’s award. Has your favorite author been recognized already? Check out the entire list of previous Wilder medal recipients. If not, let us know who you are thinking of and why!

So what exactly does “substantial and lasting contribution” mean? According to the criteria, these books “occupy an important place in literature for American children and that over the years children have read the books and that the books continue to be requested and read by children.”  If you are detail-oriented or historically minded, you might enjoy exploring the definitions and criteria behind the awards.  In reviewing these specifications, I can see the well-thought out process behind the awards, and it makes me appreciate the procedures that have been developed. Interestingly, the Wilder Award can be awarded posthumously, and regardless of a person’s place of residence.

Please submit your suggestions via the form at http://www.ala.org/alsc/wilder-medal-suggestion-form. Note: The page can only be accessed by ALSC members—so you must be logged into the ALA website to view the form.

Please share your ideas with us!

Happy reading,

Robin L.  Gibson, 2017 Wilder Award Committee member, Westerville Public Library, Westerville, Ohio

The post Wilder Times Ahead! appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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48. Author Interview: Donna Gephart on Lily and Duncan

By Cynthia Leitich Smith
for Cynsations
ajudd@penguinrandomhouse.com

From the promotional copy of Lily and Duncan by Donna Gephart (Delacorte, 2016):

Lily Jo McGrother, born Timothy McGrother, is a girl. But being a girl is not so easy when you look like a boy. Especially when you’re in the eighth grade.

Dunkin Dorfman, birth name Norbert Dorfman, is dealing with bipolar disorder and has just moved from the New Jersey town he’s called home for the past thirteen years. This would be hard enough, but the fact that he is also hiding from a painful secret makes it even worse.

One summer morning, Lily Jo McGrother meets Dunkin Dorfman, and their lives forever change.

How would you describe your body of work for young readers? Are there themes you frequently revisit, and if so, what about them fascinates you?

I write for the lonely child I was when I visited the Northeast Regional Library in Philadelphia, looking for a friend inside the pages of a book. I often write on the themes of loneliness and feeling like you don't quite fit in. My books broach difficult topics, like bullying and grief, but always, always conclude on a hope-filled note.

Congratulations on the release of Lily and Duncan! What was your initial inspiration for writing this book?

Thanks! I write about the genesis of both Lily's and Dunkin's story in the author's note at the back of the novel. Lily's story stemmed from an unforgettable documentary I saw about a trans girl, and Dunkin's story emerged from a promise I made to our older son, who deals with bipolar disorder.

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

I saw the documentary that inspired me to write the novel in 2012. Recently, I was looking through my mountain of notes for the project and discovered that in 2012 I had written the ending of the novel . . . and that ending remains unchanged from the version that comes out May 3. It took all the time in between to figure out how to get to that ending — lots of research and deep thinking.

Would you elaborate on your research process?

I spent years researching this novel — talking to experts, watching documentaries, reading books, articles, memoirs and novels, etc.

How did you approach balancing the characters as joint heroes of the story?

This novel is told in alternating perspectives from each of the two characters. I had such familiarity with the mental health piece of this novel that I needed to remind myself to make Dunkin's story as strong as Lily's. When a reviewer recently said Dunkin's story almost eclipses Lily's, I know I have succeeded.

In this dual narrative, each character has a unique voice and tells their story from that very personal perspective. I felt this was the best way to get readers inside the heads and hearts of each character as they navigate very difficult terrain in their eighth grade lives.

What were the other challenges (literary, logistical, emotional, etc.) in bringing the story to life?

This was a difficult story to write because of the emotional intensity of each character's journey, but it was a story I felt strongly needed to be told to help encourage empathy and understanding and end stigma.

What advice do you have for authors in approaching stories with similar elements?

It's important to research thoroughly and tell the emotional truth. And don't forget the humor. Humor has a way of shining light in the darkest of places.

Your co-protagonists are in eighth grade, and the book is marketed to ages 10+. This developmental/literary category sometimes gets lost between middle grade and YA. 

Why should we pay more attention to tween-agers and books that reflect them?

Tween-agers deal with some difficult issues before the adults in their lives are ready for them to do so. I've already had teachers and counselors from elementary and middle schools tell me that students from their schools were transitioning. I know when I was teaching writing to young people, these tween-agers were dealing with some very difficult things that most adults would never have imagined.

It's important that these books be available for those young readers who need them — which is all young readers, to increase empathy, understanding and kindness.

The more we know, the better we do.

What do you do when you're not reading or writing?

Taking long walks, jogs or bike rides in nature always renews me. I love coming across wild turkeys or peacocks strutting around. And I enjoy cooking (and eating!) creative vegan meals. One of my favorite YouTube channels is Cheap, Lazy Vegan.



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49. Stay Private! Be sure to cross all your t’s and dot your i’s…

Living in a time of unprecedented information surveillance, also lends itself to an unbelievable amount of information privilege for much of the “democratized” world. We feign emotions with character smiley faces and iconography as our communications float rapidly over a network of intangible speeds, sometimes coated with an algorithm of encryption and sometimes, not. Identity is, at best, both catastrophic and creative. So as we celebrate and converse about National Privacy Week, it is sort of interesting to think about privacy, not only in the way we might shroud our communications, but also in terms of economics, commodity and modality.

In the early 19th century, the postal system was financially demanding for some people [not unnecessarily unlike today] *and* was the scarcity of paper. Tom Standage writes in the Victorian Internet [1998]: “In the nineteenth century, letter writing was the only way to communicate with those living at a distance. However, prior to 1840, the post was expensive. Postal charges grew high in England due to the inflationary pressure of the Napoleonic Wars. Different from the way mail operates today, the burden of payment fell to the receiver, not the sender; prepayment was a social slur on the recipient. One had to be financially solvent to receive a letter. If the recipient could not afford to pay for a letter, it was returned to sender. Any reader of Jane Austen’s Emma (1815) knows that to save costs, cross writing was common — a writer turned his or her letter horizontally and “crossed” (or wrote over) the original text at a right angle rather than use an additional sheet of paper. Folded letters with a wax seal may look quaint, but like cross writing, this was also a pre-1840s cost cutting measure since that same missive, posted in an envelope, would receive double charge.”

A cost-cutting measure indeed, however, and not insignificant it created a system of visual encryption one might employ for secrecy, but also as a device of post-modernity and compositional ingenuity. In 1819, John Keats constructed a crossed letter discussing both the merit of prescriptive living for labor workers, only to be written over at an angle by his poem, Lamia, about a man who falls in love with a snake disguised as a woman. “The non-linearity of meaning is generated as an excess against the unidirectional drive of information, like the snakes that weave around the staff of a caduceus or the turbulent wake of a forward-moving ship; meaning is the snake and the wake of information.” [1] Quite a metaphor to create, as a perception of romanticism, in era of rapid change.  Sound familiar? When in doubt, think smart, choose privacy.

We have a suite of 19th century letters in our collection of cross-writing, or “cross-hatching,” check out the images:

[cross-writing] [cross-writing] [cross-writing]

#chooseprivacy

[1] Livingston, Ira. Arrow of Chaos: Romanticism and Postmodernity.

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50. Press Release: Where the Red Fern Grows

THIS JUST IN!   BUSTLEis celebrating the release of the  special anniversary edition of WHERE THE RED FERN GROWS (on sale today) with their exclusive feature of the new cover!    Click here to read the feature.     This article also releases Newbery Medal-winning and Printz Honor-winning author Clare Vanderpool’s letter, which is included in...

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