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Prompts are all around us. When I do school visits, I refer to the place where our imaginations live as the “Cosmic Goo,” and urge them to wander outside looking and listening to the wonders that spark our imaginations to awake. Nature is a never-ending source of writing inspirations. Because I am a voracious reader, I glean phrases from the books I devour. Since the end of 2011, I have written a poem a day as the means to jump-start my prose writing. I use many of the phrases I’ve underlined in the books I own for my daily poetry prompt.
My favorite writing prompt is to write from the point of view of an animal. It’s a writing exercise I teach in my writing classes as well. I love this writing exercise not only because I’m an animal lover and Crazy Cat Lady (ha) but because it forces you to think from the point of view of someone who is definitely NOT YOU. You have to know and embody the nature and physicality of the animal character, and it forces you to look at story and emotion with a new perspective. It’s a great exercise for point of view writing, and it helps me when I do write another children’s book because I am very conscious of writing from a child’s perspective, which is so different from mine as an adult.
I don’t really write from prompts, but what I try to use as a guideline for all my writing is the use of sensory details: Seeing, Hearing, Feeling, Smelling and Tasting. It’s not always relevant to include all of these details, but it’s good to include at least 3 within a scene. If I feel that I can’t move forward in a story, I’ll “step inside” my character and try to figure out what “I” am seeing, hearing, feeling, smelling or tasting at that point. If my character is neutral, then it’s time to rewrite the scene.
I enjoy finding and thinking about interesting writing prompts, but I don’t have a favorite. I have to confess, when it comes to writing prompts, I usually don’t get past the “thinking about it” stage. However, I used to work for a daily newspaper, and I learned from that experience how valuable it can be to cultivate a habit of writing – in a structured way – every day. And I turn to newspapers, sometimes, when I’m stuck or need a place to start. Headlines can make for some pretty great prompts. Direct quotes are even better – like an overheard piece of conversation. Here’s one that helped me pull FINDING THE MUSIC into focus: “He wanted to rest in peace, but with music.”
It’s practically summer, and that means you can read all the books you want! YAY! But how do you decide which books to choose? Well, STACKS Staffer Sandy created this helpful graphic. Take a look and find out which books you should read this summer.
PurpleWizard50 created a quiz to help you answer the question: What Should You Do This Summer?
1. Yay! It’s finally summer! What do you want to do? a) Check out some sunny beaches. b) Stay at home and read. c) Go to a new and exotic city. d) Visit your friends and relatives.
2. Wow! It’s burning out there! What do you do to cool off? a) Take a dive in an outdoor swimming pool. b) Sit in front of the A/C until your teeth freeze. c) Run through the sprinkler with a home-made paper fan. d) Head to your bestie’s place for a movie marathon in her air-conditioned basement.
3. What’s your favorite summer treat? a) Ice cream sundaes. b) Fresh fruit juice smoothies. c) Icy cold “mocktails.” d) Those twin Popsicles.
4. How would you describe yourself? a) Sporty and fun. b) Bookworm-y and quiet. c) Unique and artsy. d) Social and a great BFF.
5. What is your favorite hobby? a) Playing sports and swimming. b) Reading and being alone. c) Painting or drawing. d) Hanging with your bestie.
Mostly A’s: Sports are totally your thing. You would rather run around the neighborhood to warm up than sit in a warm woolen blanket — not that that has anything to do with summer. Hit up some beaches and maybe the local pool.
Mostly B’s: You like being lonely. You would rather make a fort out of pillows and sit in there, reading a book for hours. Stay at home this summer and read your favorite books. Or if you’re going out of town, pack an extra suitcase for books!
Mostly C’s: You’re different and artsy. You would rather make your Mother’s Day gifts and cards than buy them from the mall. Check out an exotic country or head to art school. Or art school in an exotic country.
Mostly D’s: You and your BFF are inseparable. You would rather shop with her than shop alone, no contest. This summer, hang with her. Have sleepovers, playdates, shopping sprees, gossip sessions, whatever. Just have fun!
Do y’all remember the fantabulous Winter Name Generator? Well, it’s definitely not winter anymore, so it’s time for new names. I’m thinking that it’s time for . . . SUMMER NAMES!!! Introducing the wonderfully weird and wonky Summer Name Generator! (This is version 2.0. If you want two special summer names, you should try out last summer’s, too!).
Here’s how the Summer Name Generator works. Find the first initial of your first name in the list below. That word is your summer first name. Then look at the list of the months below and find the month of your birthday. That word is your summer last name. For example, my name begins with an E and my birthday is in March, so my new summer name would be Pool Noodle Surfer. I’m into it!
A – Sunny
B – Sunshine
C – Water Slide
D – Sandy
E – Pool Noodle
F – Flip Flop
G – Beachy
H – Jumprope
I – Leafy
J – Bicycle
K – Thunder
L – Sunglasses
M – Grass
N – Popsicle
O – Roller Coaster
P – Vacation
Q – Lake
R – Canoe
S – Festival
T – SPF
U – Forest
V – Starry
W – Zipline
X – Hiking
Y – Nature
Z – Explorer
January – Shorts
February – Backpack
March – Surfer
April – Frisbee
May – Speedboat
June – Water Bottle
July – Lightning
August – Firecracker
September – Hummingbird
October – Sprinkler
November – Hopscotch
December – Picnic
It’s heating up fast outside and soon it’ll be vacation time. Get ready by grabbing your sweetest swimwear, favorite flip flops, coolest sidewalk chalk, and brand-new SUMMER NAME! What’s your new, wacky summer name? Share it in the Comments below!
Meet JOHNNY GRAY and JAKE GOODMAN from Max & Shred!
Q: Which character are you more like in real life, either Max or Shred? Johnny: Honestly, I do find myself a lot like my character, Max. He’s a very athletic person and I play a lot of sports. He’s a very charming person and I’ve been told that I’m very charming in interviews. He’s a really enthusiastic and upbeat person and I’m a really high-energy person as well, which really helps me playing the character. And he’s a really physical person. I use a lot of my physical presence when I’m speaking as well. I’m not like Max intelligence-wise. I do very well in school and I always strive for good grades. Max, he kind of struggles in that field of education but he’s a socially smart person, not really a book smart person. I use a lot of the same terminology as he does, like “bro” and “sick.” Jake: I have a very good time playing Shred, but I think I’m actually like a mix of them. I have some Max and some Alvin traits. I guess probably slightly more Max maybe, but I’m very, very like both of them. I have lots of friends. I kind of like school, but not as much as Alvin and I don’t do science experiments at home. I think I’m a mix of the two.
Q: Why did Max give Alvin the nickname “Shred”? Jake: In the pilot episode, Alvin is making fun of Max in his bedroom alone. He puts on a Max wig and his helmet and is all dressed in his snowboarding stuff and is just making fun of Max. And Max’s snowboarding agent comes into the house and sees Alvin. Since he’s all dressed up like Max, he thinks that Alvin is Max and he takes him snowboarding to a mountain and it’s in front of a bunch of people and it’s, you know, televised nationally. Alvin, who has never snowboarded before, has to go down this hill and do all these crazy tricks and do a 50-foot jump at the end, which is crazy. So Alvin ends up having to go because, you know, everyone’s watching him and he can’t just leave. Everyone thinks he’s Max. So he ends up going down the hill and his tricks are all wobbly and really bad and he just happens to land all of them. In the last scene when Alvin is in the hospital, Max comes to visit him, and they have their first moment really as friends and Max is like, “Wow, you shredded up that mountain so well. I’m going to call you Shred.” It’s a special thing between the two of them and only Max calls him that.
Q: How long have you been snowboarding?
Jake: I think this past winter was my third season. Johnny’s been snowboarding for way longer. Johnny: I’ve been snowboarding for six years now. Hitting rails is really awesome. I might come up to a rail riding fakie and then I’ll hop up onto it and just board slide. That’s my starter move. It’s just easy for me and it’s a satisfying move, or maybe doing, like, a blunt slide on a rail.
What is your most embarrassing moment? Johnny: I ripped my pants once in gym class. It was a grade 8 dance unit, and I forgot all my attire. So I’m up there in skinny jeans and we had to do this, like, wheelbarrow move, and, yeah, I completely ripped my pants and I was extremely embarrassed. It was really funny, but funny for everybody else. Jake:First recess, first day, grade 2, got pantsed. I don’t even remember if I got pantsed or if they just fell down. But I mean that’s so embarrassing, right? First day, grade 2, I didn’t know many people. Yeah.
Q: How do you balance being a celebrity with a typical young boy life? Jake:Honestly, just like every other kid, Monday to Friday when I’m not filming, I go to school. You know, I do all my school work. I do all that normal kid stuff. I’m very lucky, but I don’t feel like a celebrity. I do all that normal kid stuff honestly and then, you know, when I go to the Kids’ Choice Awards it’s so cool because it’s in L.A. But I don’t even feel like I have to make an effort to balance being on a show and being a 12-year-old boy.
What books would you recommend to a friend? Johnny: The first book that probably made me want to read more is reading the Hunger Games series (for ages 12 and up). I love that series and I really got into them. I read them all within like a month and I usually don’t do that. And then it made me go read more. Like right after that I started reading Maze Runner (for ages 12 and up) and that was a really amazing book. Jake:Classics like Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit I guess. They’d be the best ones. If you haven’t read the books, they’re very good. That’s what I would say because lots of people have seen the movies, but it’s an amazing story. That’s my all-time favorite book.
Do you have any pets? Jake:I do. She’s sleeping next to me right now. Her name’s Daisy. She’s a dog. She’s called a Ganaraskan. It’s a mix between a poodle, a schnauzer, a Cocker Spaniel and a Bichon Frise. She’s very cute. Sometimes she’ll see her tail and just start running in circles. I know lots of dogs do it but honestly it’s so funny when she’s just basically like playing tag with her tail and no matter how fast she runs her tail’s going to be faster because it’s on her body. But that’s just funny when you’re just relaxing and all the sudden your dog is having a seizure chasing her tail. Johnny: My favorite episode is the episode where I get a dog. I really love that episode because I’m a dog, animal fanatic. I actually have five dogs in my family, so I love dogs. We have a Boston Terrier. His name’s Maverick. I have a French Bulldog named Lola, I have a German Shorthaired Pointer named Violet, a Great Dane named Maggie, and a – who am I missing – oh, and a Schnoodle named Holly. They’re amazing. I love them. They’re all really friendly and they’re all pack dogs. But we live on a farm, right? So they can burn most energy when we go for really long walks. They can just rip around and then they come back in and they sleep.
Do you have a pet?
If you were going to star in a biopic about an athlete, what athlete would it be? Johnny: I was thinking about a hockey player but at the same time, I think it would be really awesome to play some kind of football star, like some running back because when I played football I played running back. I love Marshawn Lynch. Seattle Seahawks are my favorite team, and he’s an absolute animal on the field. I just love his style.
Q: If you hadn’t chosen acting, what job do you think you would be working towards? Jake: I don’t even know if I want to be an actor when I grow up. I’m open to lots of things. You know, I go through phases. Like, I’ll do a month of being really into something and then the next month I’ll be really into something else, and then eventually I’ll go back to that something that I was doing the first month. I just have lots of different interests that I pick up and drop. Something might come up and that might stick around. Right now I’m into learning different programming languages, which is fun. So, you know, there are lots of things and I honestly don’t know what I’ll do as a career.
What is one thing you think could help make the world a better place? Jake: I’m a very environmentally friendly person. Our geography teacher at school always talks to us about that stuff. You know, I don’t use plastic water bottles. I have a reusable water bottle. I have a lunch box. I don’t have a plastic bag for a lunch bag. I don’t litter, obviously. Johnny: Wow. I’ve never actually put any thought into something like that. But, I don’t know, like, some kind of technological advancement, like a different way we could filter energy instead of depleting our world’s resources. So, you know, cars can now run on . . . blahbity blah or like, “We’ve now figured out a way to create fresh water just by like putting these two kind of chemicals or elements together.” Something like that would be mass-changing for the world. It’s a great question. That’s the best question I think I’ve actually ever been asked.
Interview by Marie Morreale Image courtesy Nickelodeon
How could anything as perishable as fruits and vegetables become an heirloom? Many things that are heirlooms today were once simple everyday objects. A quilt made of fabric scraps, a wooden bowl used in the last stages of making butter, both become heirlooms only as time increases between now and the era of their everyday use. Likewise, the Montafoner Braunvieh—a tawny, gorgeously crooked-horned cow that roams a handful of pastures and zoos in Europe, a tuft of hair like bangs above her big brown eyes—or the Ossabaw pigs that scurry around on spindly legs at Mount Vernon were not always “heirlooms.” Nor were the piles of multicolored tomatoes that periodically grace the cover of Martha Stewart Living magazine or the food pages of daily newspapers. What happened to change these plants and animals from everyday objects into something rare and precious, imbued with stories of the past? In fact, food has always been an heirloom in the sense of saving seeds, of passing down the food you eat to your children and your children’s children, in a mixture of the genetic code of a given food (a cow, a variety of wheat, a tomato), and also in handing down the techniques of cultivation, preservation, preparation, and even a taste for particular foods. It is only with the rise of industrial agriculture that this practice of treating food as a literal heirloom has disappeared in many parts of the world—and that is precisely when the heirloom label emerges. The chain is broken for many people as they flock to the cities and the number of farmers and gardeners declines. So the concept of an heirloom becomes possible only in the context of the loss of actual heirloom varieties, of increased urbanization and industrialization as fewer people grow their own food, or at least know the people who grow their food. These are global issues, relevant to hunger and security and to cultural memory, community, and place. This book addresses one aspect of the much larger spectrum of issues around culture and agricultural biodiversity, focusing on these old seeds and trees.
In some ways heirlooms become possible (as a concept) only because of the industrialization and standardization of agriculture. They went away, there was a cultural and agricultural break, placing temporal and practical distance between current generations and past foods. In the meantime, gardeners and farmers quietly saved seeds for their own use. And then, as I discuss in much greater detail below, these heirloom foods began, tomato by tomato, apple by apple, to return to some degree of popularity.
In the United States, newspaper article after article, activist after activist, describes heirloom varieties as something one’s grandmother might have eaten. The implication is that there has been a significant break—that the current generation and their parents lost touch with these fruits, vegetables, and animals but that their grandparents might not have. “Heirlooms are major-league hot,” a reporter marveled in 1995. “As we become more of a technological society, people are reaching into the garden to get back that simple life, the simple life of their grandparents.” Concepts like “old-fashioned,” “just like Grandma ate,” and even “heirloom” can feel very American. But this is a mythical grandmother. The grandmothers of today’s United States are a diverse crew whose cooking habits are just one of the ways they differ. Gender is also obviously a vital element of the study of food production and consumption. Women are perceived as (and often are) the primary cooks and shoppers, and there are many gendered understandings of our relationships to food. Many people, men and women alike, have little time to cook, despite recent exhortations to engage in more home cooking. My own grandmother (the niece of my great-great-aunt Budder whom I write about in the prologue) smoked cigarettes and drank martinis with gusto, and for her, making Christmas cookies consisted of melting peanut butter and butterscotch chips, stirring in cornflakes, and forming the mixture into little clumps that would harden as they cooled. I loved them as a child, and when I make them today, I am invoking my grandmother just as much as other people may when serving up a platter of ancestral heirloom tomatoes.
In the context of food, however, the word “heirloom” also has a genetic connotation. The object itself is not handed down. Heirloom tomatoes are either eaten or they rot. Old-fashioned breeds of pigs are slaughtered and end up as pork chops; they rarely live a long life like Wilbur in Charlotte’s Web, without the help of a literate spider and a film career. The “heirloom,” then, what is handed down, is the genetic code. Heirloom foods are products of human intervention, ranging from selecting what seeds to save for the next growing season to deciding which tom turkey should father poults with which hen.
The genetic heirloom takes on a physical expression in the form of a pig or a tomato, for example, to which people may then attach all kinds of meanings—not only the physical appetite for the flavor of a particular tomato or pork chop, but also the sense that edible heirlooms connect us to something many people see as more authentic than supermarket fare. Over and over, in conversations and newspaper articles, orchards and public lectures, I have heard people articulating a search for a connection to the past, even as they also sought out appealing flavors, colors, and textures. The appetite for an heirloom food commonly leads, of course, to the destruction of its embodiment—in a Caprese salad, say, or an apple pie—but it is precisely the consumption of its phenotype that ensures the survival of the genetic code that gave rise to it.
A guide to heirloom vegetables describes heirloom status (of tomatoes and other produce) in three ways:
The variety must be able to reproduce itself from seed [except those propagated through roots or cuttings]. . . .
The variety must have been introduced more than 50 years ago. Fifty years, is, admittedly, an arbitrary cutoff date, and different people use different dates. . . . A few people use an even stricter definition, considering heirlooms to be only those varieties developed and preserved outside the commercial seed trade. . . .
The variety must have a history of its own.
The term “heirloom” itself generally applies to varieties that are capable of being pollen fertilized and that existed before the 1940s, when industrial farming spread in North America and the variety of species grown commercially was significantly reduced. Generally speaking, an heirloom can reproduce itself from seed, meaning seed saved from the previous year. When growing hybrids, you have to buy new seed each year (for plants that reproduce true to seed; apples, potatoes, and some other fruits and vegetables are preserved and propagated through grafts or cuttings rather than seeds). In other words, if you save the seeds of a hybrid tomato and plant them the next year, you more than likely won’t be pleased with what you get, if you get anything at all. Furthermore, simply because they are “heirloom” tomatoes does not mean they are native. In fact, tomatoes are native not to the United States, but to South and Central America, and many heirloom varieties such as the Caspian Pink were developed in Russia and other far-off places. People also use the term “heirloom” to describe old varieties of roses, ornamental plants, fruit trees (reproduced by grafting rather than from seed), potatoes, and even livestock.
As the US Department of Agriculture’s heirloom vegetable guide explains, “Dating to the early 20th C. and before, many [heirloom varieties] originated during a very different agricultural age—when localized and subsistence-based food economies flourished, when waves of immigrant farmers and gardeners brought cherished seeds and plants to this country, and before seed saving had dwindled to a ‘lost art’ among most North American farmers and gardeners.” Fashions, tastes, and technology changed, but “since the 1970s, an expanding popular movement dedicated to perpetuating and distributing these garden classics has emerged among home gardeners and small-scale growers, with interest and endorsement from scientists, historians, environmentalists, and consumers.” In Germany they speak of alte Sorten, “old varieties,” but this phrasing does not carry the same symbolic, nostalgic weight as the homey word “heirloom.” In French heirloom varieties may be called légumes oubliés, “forgotten vegetables,” or légumes anciennes. Of course, once vegetables are labeled forgotten, they’re not really forgotten anymore. In general, the United States has a different relationship to its past than European countries do. Thus there are regional gardening and cooking traditions in the United States, as well as a particular form of nostalgia that allows the term “heirloom” to apply to fruits, vegetables, and animals in the first place. The idea of an heirloom object can be very homespun. Certainly an heirloom can be something of great monetary value, but it can also be a threadbare quilt, a grandfather’s toolbox, or in my case the worn and mismatched paddles my great-great-aunt used in the last stages of making butter. The word “heirloom” can be a way to preserve biodiversity, but it can also be inaccurate and misused, a label slapped on an overpriced tomato. There is always the danger that dishonest grocers and restaurateurs will exploit the desire for local, seasonal, and heirloom food.
Heirlooms of all sorts are often wrapped up in nostalgic ideas about the past. Patchwork quilts and butter churns evoke not only idyllic images of yesteryear, but often difficult lives circumscribed by poverty and dire necessity as much as by simplicity and self-sufficiency. They speak of times (and, when we think globally, of places) when life may have been (or may still be) not only technologically simpler but also much, much harder. Old-fashioned farm implements in the front yards of rural Wisconsin, or in living history museums, evoke nostalgic feelings. But there’s a reason they’re in museums or front yards and not hitched to a team of horses or in the hands of a farmer, at least in Wisconsin. These are backbreaking tools whose functions have wherever possible been transferred to machines.
Even today, while it may surprise people who pick up a book like this, when I first tell someone about my work, I routinely have to explain what an heirloom tomato is. On a recent trip to a Milwaukee farmers’ market, I heard an older man say to his female companion, “Heirloom tomatoes? Never heard of ’em.” He’s not alone. While some food writers and restaurant reviewers may feel that heirloom tomatoes are yesterday’s news, plenty of consumers are still encountering them for the first time.
Heirloom varieties are just one form of edible memory, but they offer a unique opportunity to understand the powerful ways memory and materiality interact, and how the stories we tell one another about the past shape the world we inhabit. I write about heirlooms not because I think they’re the only way to go, but because they present an intriguing sociological puzzle (How can something as perishable as a tomato become an heirloom?) and because they are the subject of so much activity by so many different people. These efforts, all this work, are also just the latest turn in the twisting path of fruit and vegetable trends, of the relationship of these plants to human communities. This book recounts my search for endangered squashes, nearly forgotten plums, and other rare genes surviving in barnyards, gardens, and orchards, this intertwining of botanical, social, and edible worlds.
I relish the moments I have spent with the old-fashioned farm animals at the Vienna zoo, standing in the stall with the zookeeper to scratch the fluffy head of a newborn lamb or the vast forehead of that speckled black-and-white cow, one of only a few of her breed remaining on the planet, who had just dutifully produced a calf that looked exactly like her. I also relish the meals I’ve prepared from multicolored potatoes or tomatoes; and, given a free Saturday, I can spend hours at farmers’ markets, contemplating what I can do with a bucket of almost overripe peaches (freeze them for my winter oatmeal) or a pile of striped squash (a spectacularly failed attempt at whole wheat squash gnocchi, which may still be lurking in the back of my freezer). And I have my own history of deep attachment to processed spice cake and the unctuous taste of a rare glass of whole milk—a reminder that “edible memory” goes far beyond the relatively narrow confines of heirloom food.
But I am also a sociologist, so in this book, while I am fond of many of the places, people, and foods I discuss, I also aim, ultimately, to tell a sociological story. I did not, like Barbara Kingsolver in Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, try to raise turkeys or can a heroic quantity of heirloom tomatoes. Unlike Michael Pollan in the journey he undertook for The Omnivore’s Dilemma, I did not try to shoot anything or make my own salt. Along the way, however, I did get involved; I immersed myself in these rich landscapes, markets, and texts and in conversations with diverse groups and individuals who often, unknown to anyone else, managed to hold on to vital and beautiful collections of genes in the form of old apple trees or tomato seeds, turnips or taro. I set out not to grow these plants and raise these animals myself, but to talk with and observe the diverse and committed gardeners, farmers, curators, seed savers, animal breeders, and other people who make possible the persistence of these plants and animals on this planet. I set out to understand in particular where these plants have come from, the threats they face, the kinds of places that are created in the attempt to save them, and the stories they tell us about the past and about ourselves, as well as how they figure in the broader patterns of human appetites, trends and fashions, habits and intentions.
The research for this book comprised seven years of observation and analysis. In my efforts to understand how tomatoes became heirlooms and apples became antiques, I set out on multiple journeys, of varying sorts. I drove down Lake Shore Drive to the Green City Market and urban farms and gardens in Chicago, traveled across town in Milwaukee to Growing Power and other urban growers, flew across the Atlantic to Vienna, took a streetcar over the bridges of Stockholm to get to the barnyards and gardens of the Swedish national open-air folk museum, and got lost on the tangle of bridges and highways between Washington, DC, and rural Virginia in search of Thomas Jefferson’s vegetable garden and George Washington’s turkeys. I also took more philosophical journeys: literary and archival travels through the pages of government reports, scholarly periodicals, and popular and scientific books. I traveled through recipe collections and the glossy pages of food magazines, through the digital universe of online databases, and through correspondence with colleagues and informants in far-off places. The collection of these journeys, of this movement through gardens, barnyards, orchards, and markets, as well as thickets of printed and digital information, accounts for the story I tell here.
This book emerged in part from solitary hours in front of the computer, taking notes, with stacks of books at my side, reading newspaper articles and academic journal articles on everything from apple grafting to patent law. I analyzed thousands of newspaper articles, charting the emergence of the term “heirloom” in popular food writing and looking for changes in the quantity and quality of the discussion over time as well as differences and similarities across different kinds of foods. Much of this book is based on the ways heirloom varieties register in public discussions, especially the media, and the ways they get taken up by organizations and individuals, both in and out of the limelight. Blogs and other food writing have also figured centrally in my analysis of the heirloom food movement as markers of popular discussions, and I have relied on hundreds of secondary sources (see the bibliography) for historical information about specific foods. I read encyclopedias and fascinating scholarly and popular books, charting the rise and fall of particular foods and their historical transformations. And I drew on the insights of my colleagues in sociology and neighboring academic disciplines and the ways they think about things like culture, memory, and food.
Occasionally I would take a break and cook one of the recipes I came across, and I also left my desk and set out to visit the farms and gardens, camera and notebook in hand. I scratched the noses of wiry old pigs, walked through fragrant herb gardens, and tasted hard cider and fresh bread, the hems of my jeans coated in mud and my nose sunburned from a long day in an Alpine valley or at a midwestern heirloom seed festival. I spoke formally and informally with gardeners, farmers, and chefs, activists, seed savers, academics, and all kinds of people devoted to food. I visited farms and gardens and living history museums and farmers’ markets, and I attended conferences and public lectures and delivered some of my own to smart crowds full of eager gardeners, eaters, and thinkers. I also spoke with the gardeners of less well-known historical kitchen gardens across Europe and the United States, quiet conversations about their enthusiasm for their work and about their assessments of the changing public perceptions of edible biodiversity over recent decades. Many of these farmers and gardeners became good friends, and our late-night conversations over good meals in my dining room or cheap beer at a rooftop farm in Chicago’s Back of the Yards also came to shape my sociological understanding of these trends. Sifting through the stacks of papers on my desk in the depths of winter, and wandering through gardens, barnyards, and farmers’ markets in the heat of summer, I wanted to see what patterns I might find.
Finding Edible Memory
What I found was something I came to call “edible memory.” And I want to emphasize that I did not expect to find it. Edible memory emerged out of these documents, landscapes, and conversations. This book focuses largely on the contemporary United States, with occasional examples drawn from elsewhere. But the fundamental ideas and questions can help us to think about other times and places as well. For sociologists, the study of human behavior— of what people actually do, and do in large enough numbers to register as visible patterns—is at the heart of our work. Many of us are studying what happens when people are highly motivated, when they are so passionate about something that the passion provokes action. That said, many of us are also deeply interested in the small actions of habit, the little steps we take every day that add up to this big thing called society. What we eat for breakfast, who we spend time with and how, what we buy, even what we ignore— these are all crucial to understanding how and why things are as they are. This book is about the fervent devotees, the people who can’t not plant orchards full of apple trees or spend countless hours saving turnip seeds. But it is also about the ways millions (perhaps even billions) of people make small decisions every day about what to serve their families, about how to feed themselves.
When I began to look in scholarly and popular writing, and in kitchens, gardens, farms, and markets, I saw more and more evidence of edible memory: in the rice described by geographer Judith Carney, in the gardens of Hmong refugees in Minnesota, in the hard-won community gardens of New York’s Lower East Side, and in the appetites and memories of friends and strangers alike. Edible memory appears in the reverberations of African foods in a range of North American culinary traditions, in the efforts to cultivate Native American foods today, in the shifting appetites of immigrant populations and ardently trendy folks in Brooklyn or Portland. It goes far beyond the heirloom, but heirlooms were my way in, a way to narrow, at least temporarily, the scope of the investigation and to explore one particularly potent intersection of food, biodiversity, and tales of past ways of being. Edible memory is a widely applicable concept, and I hope it will resonate well beyond the boundaries of the examples I have included in this book.
Edible memory is also in no way the sole province of elites. Much of what people understand as heirloom food today is expensive and out of reach, justifying the pretensions sometimes assigned to heirloom tomatoes, farmers’ markets, or the pedigreed chicken in the television show Portlandia. Food deserts, double shifts, cumbersome or expensive transportation, and straight-up poverty greatly reduce access to a wide range of foods, heirlooms included. But to assume that edible memory is strictly connected to privilege ignores the vital connections people have to food at a range of locations on the socioeconomic scale. Poverty, and even hunger, does not preclude (and indeed may intensify) the meanings and memories surrounding food. As many researchers have discussed, the various alternative approaches to food— heirlooms, but also farmers’ markets, organic and local foods, and artisanal foods—tend to be expensive, eaten largely by elites—well-off and often white. However, while that may characterize what we might call mainstream alternative, both edible biodiversity and edible memory happen across the socioeconomic spectrum. There are vibrant, successful projects in which people worlds away from expensive restaurants and farmers’ markets grow and eat many of the same kinds of memorable vegetables, in rural backyards, small urban allotments, and school gardens. Chicago alone is home to many farms and gardens supplying food and often employment and other projects in low-income communities, projects like the Chicago Farmworks, Growing Home, Gingko Gardens, or the Chicago location of Growing Power, which is even selling its produce in local Walgreens, trying to improve access to locally grown produce in predominantly low-income and African American neighborhoods. The numerous farms and gardens profiled on Natasha Bowen’s blog and multimedia project, The Color of Food, also offer examples across the country of farmers and gardeners with a deep commitment to many of the same foods that find their way into high-priced grocery stores or expensive restaurant dinners.
At the same time, I do not want to argue that edible memory is a universal concept. We can ask where and how it appears and matters, but we should not assume that it is everywhere either present or significant. It is certainly widespread, based on the research I have conducted, but it is not universal. For some people food may be a way to imagine communities, to understand their place in the world and connect to other people, but for others it is simply physical sustenance or transitory pleasure.
Anthony C. Yu (1938−2015)—scholar, translator, teacher—passed away earlier this month, following a brief illness. As the Carl Darling Buck Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus in the Humanities and the Divinity School at the University of Chicago, Yu fused a knowledge of Eastern and Western approaches in his broadranging humanistic inquiries. Perhaps best known for his translation of The Journey to the West, a sixteenth-century Chinese novel about a Tang Dynasty monk who travels to India to obtain sacred texts, which blends folk and institutionalized national religions with comedy, allegory, and the archetypal pilgrim’s tale. Published in four volumes by the University of Chicago Press, Yu’s pathbreaking translation spans more than 100 chapters; an abridged version of the text appeared in 2006 (The Monkey and the Monk), and just recently, in 2012, Yu published a revised edition.
In addition to JttW, Yu’s scholarship explored Chinese, English, and Greek literature, among other fields, as well as the classic texts of comparative religion. He was a member of the American Academy of the Arts and Sciences, the American Council of Learned Societies, and Academia Sinica, and served as a board member of the Modern Language Association, as well as a Guggenheim and Mellon Fellow.
“Professor Anthony C. Yu was an outstanding scholar, whose work was marked by uncommon erudition, range of reference and interpretive sophistication. He embodied the highest virtues of the University of Chicago, his alma mater and his academic home as a professor for 46 years, with an appointment spanning five departments of the University. Tony was also a person of inimitable elegance, dignity, passion and the highest standards for everything he did,” said Margaret M. Mitchell, the Shailer Mathews Professor of New Testament and Early Christian Literature and dean of the Divinity School.
To read more about The Journey to the West, click here.
If you’ve been following us for a while, you know that over the past few years we’ve released a series of infographics about the diversity gap in different industries including publishing, film, television, theater, and politics. Our infographic studies were designed to give people who were unfamiliar with issues of race and gender a sense of how deep the diversity problem goes in the United States and how entrenched these issues are in every facet of media. Our latest infographic, The Diversity Gap in Silicon Valley, is our first study that reports on a bigger question: What comes after the numbers are established? Once we acknowledge the diversity gap, what can we do to close it?
The tech industry presents a unique model for this. After Pinterest engineer Tracy Chou asked, “Where are our numbers?” hundreds of companies, both large and small, chose to release the diversity statistics of their staffs in a transparent way. Although the numbers showed a lack of diversity, after they were revealed there was a flurry of activity across the industry to address the problem. We were encouraged to see the brightest and the best minds in technology confronting a decades-old problem with pragmatism, budgets, and goals.
Given this, we were inspired to create our own baseline survey in the hopes that it could serve as a catalyst for the same kind of movement within the publishing industry. The Diversity Baseline Survey we’ve proposed would be the first of its kind for US publishers. It involves creating statistics that do not yet exist by measuring staff diversity among publishers and review journals in four areas: gender, race, sexual orientation, and disability.
There is precedence for a survey like this, not only from the tech industry, but also from the publishing industry in the United Kingdom. Both industries ran surveys as recently as 2014. Even large publishing houses, such as Hachette UK, HarperCollins, and Penguin Random House UK, were among the publishers who participated in the British survey. Hopefully, this is a good sign that these companies might extend their participation to the US version of the survey.
In the past, publishers have usually put the responsibility on readers for the lack of diverse representation in books. The extremely dated adage that “diverse books do not sell” has become a belief that has reached mythical proportions. While it’s important for readers to support diverse books with their dollars and voices, it’s equally important for publishers to self-reflect on how they can do better on their end. We must acknowledge that one factor contributing to the lack of diverse books is the lack of diversity among the people who edit, market, review, and sell the books. Surveying our staffs and reporting on our findings would give us a starting point, not to point fingers or assign blame (especially since most media industries face similar problems) but to bring clarity to the problem so we can understand it better, attempt to correct it, and measure whether or not we are improving.
Publishers, the onus is on us to move forward. Many publishers have said that they support We Need Diverse Books and the movement for more diverse books, but words are not the same as action. If we are serious about increasing the number and quality of diverse books, it is essential for us to be transparent about our own challenges. By surveying our staffs and sharing our numbers, we can work together to put in place sustainable programs that will increase diversity among publishing staffs in the long-term.
Here are some ways you can help:
Sign the petition. We consider transparency in the publishing industry both a social and economic justice cause. If you agree, stand up and be counted. Your name in support of this effort will be used to convince publishers to join this effort.
Place a comment in the comment field of School Library Journal’s article about the survey. Public commentary about this issue from educators, librarians, reviewers, editors, authors, and illustrators helps put a face to this problem. Many of the gatekeepers/decision makers do not understand the problem, but words can make a difference and change people’s minds.
Ask your publishers to sign on. If you are an author or illustrator, contact your editors and other publishing contacts and encourage them to participate in the survey. Your voice in support of this effort can make a difference.
Subscribe to Lee & Low’s blog or social media channels. Understanding the issues is important, but the complexity surrounding issues of race and gender can be daunting. We discuss these issues on a daily basis. Learn through reading and engagement in a safe place to ask questions and stay current on the issues.
Ricky Ricotta and His Mighty Robot are back in a brand new, out-of-this-world adventure!
Ricky Ricotta loves his Mighty Robot, but sometimes it’s hard having a best friend who is so BIG! If only his Mighty Robot had someone his own size to play with, Ricky could have some fun by himself. Little does Ricky know, his wish is about to come true. Ugly Uncle Unicorn is hatching a hideous plan to take over Earth, and he’s got a super-sized surprise for Ricky and his Robot friend!
Hello friends! A SENSE OF THE INFINITE comes out today. Whereas for both my previous books, my release day to-do list was dominated by items such as "1. Freak out" and "2. Stress balls" and "3. Tweet a bunch," I am celebrating this book by scheduling a blog post in advance and then disappearing into the national forest for the day (don't let the present tense fool you! I wrote this post yesterday. In reality-land, I am nowhere near a computer).
It is pretty nice here, not-on-a-computer. I am enjoying it immensely. Maybe I will even see a snake, or save an injured hiker, or get lost and survive on roots and berries for six months. More likely, I will just tromp around for several hours, eat a bag of peanuts, and go home--but that sounds pretty good too.
Thank you to everyone who has been a friend and supporter of this novel. Here are some links if you'd like to know more about it or buy a copy:
We are kicking off with some regulation Soccer Trivia! See how well you score . . .
TRUE or FALSE? Soccer cleats and baseball cleats are the same.
The World Cup (the world championship of soccer) is played every ________ years?
Who won the 2014 World Cup? A) Brazil B) Argentina C) Germany D) United States
What is it called when you hit the soccer ball with your head?
In soccer rules, what does it mean if the referee shows you a red card?
The handsome and ridiculously talented Cristiano Ronaldo is from what country?
Americans call it soccer, but what is this sport called in most other countries around the world? (Hint: It is not called “soccer” in England.)
In youth soccer, what do the terms U-8 and U-10 mean?
Only 1 player on the soccer field is allowed to touch the ball with his or her hands. What is this player called?
How many players from each team are on the soccer field at a time?
Scroll down to see the answers.
ANSWER: FALSE. Soccer cleats have spikes usually made from rubber or plastic and are lightweight and flexible for running on grass. Baseball cleats have metal or hard thin spikes to grip the clay/dirt on the field, and are bulkier and stiffer for support.
ANSWER: Every 4 years. The next World Cup will be in Russia in 2018.
ANSWER: Germany won (beating Argentina in the championship).
ANSWER: A “header.” Believe it or not, if you hit it in the right place on your head, it doesn’t hurt that much.
ANSWER: It’s a penalty card, and you are kicked out of the game. Also if you receive 2 “yellow cards” (warning cards) it equals a red card and you’re kicked out of the game! Yikes, talk about fiery red.
ANSWER: Portugal. He plays for the Portugal National Team, and also the Spanish club Real Madrid C.F.
ANSWER: Football. The United States, Canada, and Australia call it soccer but most other countries call it football, futbol, or “footie.”
ANSWER: U-8 is a division for kids aged 8 and under. U-10 is for kids 10 and under.
Only the goalkeeper or “goalie” is allowed to use his or her hands while on the field. Of course, any player may use his or her hands to take a throw-in from off the field.
ANSWER: In professional, high school, and college soccer 11 players total (10 plus a goalkeeper). Although in youth leagues it can be 4 vs. 4, 6 vs. 6 or 8 vs. 8.
Are you a soccer fan or a soccer player? Shout out to your favorite teams in the Comments below!
Last night's episode was a real downer. My first reaction was, "Well, that was depressing," but as I think about and process it, I have some different thoughts. There will spoilers here, so if you haven't watched the episode yet, I recommend you leave now.
As a clarification, I've only read the first two books in A Song of Ice and Fire, so I can't discuss this episode in relation to the books. However, since the showrunners have made it clear that they aren't strictly following the books anymore, I don't think it's overly relevant.
I think the key to understanding this episode is the title, "Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken." While of course that's the motto of House Martell, I think the producers are also telling us something. (And often the GoT episode titles seem to have more than one meaning.)
As I said to my husband immediately afterwards, "For an episode called Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken, there sure were a lot of bowed, bent, and broken people." However, on further consideration, I'm not sure that's true.
Tyrion and Ser Jorah are captured by slavers. However, Tyrion works his magic with a little help from Ser Jorah in the right places, and the two of them are now headed where they wanted to go anyway. Jaime and Bronn end up captured, but Bronn takes it in stride with usual Bronn-ness: "You fight pretty good for a little girl." And I hope that Jaime learned his lesson from the last time he was a prisoner and won't lose another hand.
A quick aside on the sand snakes: I haven't got far enough in the books to read about the sand snakes, but I had heard about them, and as a former martial artists and a fan of women warriors, I was very much looking forward to seeing them. So far, though, I have to say I'm disappointed. Although it's clear they can fight, they've been pretty ineffective so far, and there's not even enough character development for me to tell them apart.
I think that Ser Loras and Queen Margaery fared the worst in this episode. You might say Sansa fared worst, but more on that in a minute. Lady Olenna will use her considerable personal and House resources do what she can (although it is somewhat worrisome that Cercei sent Mace off right before implementing this plot) and while Tommen may be the Most Ineffective King Ever, he's pretty besotted with Margaery, so maybe this will wake him up. However, I fear for Loras. As the show's token gay character, he's been treated pretty poorly by the showrunners. I fear that Loras won't survive this, but even if he does, will the showrunners let him become, as the article I linked above says, “a knight and a son of House Tyrell, who happens to be gay" or will he continue to just be "the gay character"?
Finally, I want to talk about the most talked about scene of the episode: Ramsey Bolton's wedding night rape of Sansa. The scene was vile and repulsive, and like everyone else, I was hoping that Stannis would arrive in time to stop the travesty. Viscerally and emotionally I hate it. But on thinking about it, I don't believe that Sansa was as much a victim as she appeared to be. As awful as it was, Sansa made the choice to go through with this wedding. While Littlefinger may be using her for his own ends, his talk with her about using the situation to regain her birthright seems to have resonated with her.
Remember that this isn't Sansa's first experience with a sadist. This is not the young Sansa with dreams of a fairy tale wedding. This is an older, wiser, more experienced Sansa who has survived Joffrey and Cercei and knows the worst that humans are capable of. This Sansa is a survivor. And thanks to Myranda's attempts at manipulation, she has some idea of what she's getting into. She has options - she knows she could have lit a candle at the top of the broken tower. But she chooses to go through with it for the sake of her birthright, her people, and hopefully for a chance to avenge her family. And Sansa knows as well as anyone that an unconsummated marriage can be annulled, so she endures the rape - with a witness even - to cement her place at Winterfell. When Sansa tells Myranda, "I'm Sansa Stark of Winterfell and you don't frighten me," I have to think that in her mind she was saying that to Ramsey as well. I hope that somewhere not to far down the road, Sansa will stick a dagger in Ramsey. I also think that alternating Sansa's scenes with Arya's was intentional. Even though their roads are very different, they are both in the process of becoming someone else.
Was the scene gratuitous and unnecessary? Maybe, I'm not sure. It does seem like GoT has a disturbing pattern of violence against women, but then GoT has plenty of disturbing violence overall, and yet I still watch it. I'm not sure if this scene was any worse than what the rest of Sansa's family has been subjected to, not to mention many other characters. You want to talk about horrifying? One of the most horrifying things to me was Theon's killing and burning the miller's sons as stand-ins for Bran and Rickon. Theon in turn was the victim of horrifying violence by Ramsey. It broke Theon, but I don't think that Ramsey will break Sansa in the same way.
Personally, I hate the prison that most women in Westeros are forced into. For most, with some notable exceptions, marriage is their only option, most likely a marriage not of their own choosing. As much as we hate Cersei, Queen of Manipulators, we also have to remember that as a young woman she was forced into marriage with Robert Baratheon. But although I hate it, it's also a reflection of the life that many, if not most, women throughout history have been forced to lead. Violence against women is a reality; should we pretend that it doesn't exist?
When we talk about strong female characters in books and movies, we're usually talking about women warriors or leaders of some type. But I think it takes a particular strength to endure rape, forced marriage, or other violences perpetrated against women and to survive, to live, and to move forward. In our outrage and our disgust, in characterizing Sansa merely as a victim, I fear that we are missing the point that Sansa Stark is one of the strongest characters on the show.
For parents of soon-to-be kindergartners and first graders, helping their children be prepared for the start of school can be exciting and daunting (and not just for students).
What can parents do over the summer to help their children maintain the growth they made this past year in preschool or kindergarten and be ready to tackle new topics and skills in the fall?
Below is one way parents can read and explore books over the summer. This model can be adapted for both fiction and nonfiction texts and follows how many teachers practice guided reading, which children may experience the first time in the upcoming school year.
I’m going to model how parents can practice reading using the text, David’s Drawings.
We do not need to, nor should we, ask every question for every book during every reading time. We may have only four minutes of our child’s attention one day and maybe twenty on another. The goal is not to drill our youngest learners in Common Core standards by the start of school.
Rather, the ultimate goal here is to show our beginning and soon-to-be readers how reading can be a joyful, positive experience. This mindset will set them up for the best start to their school journey.
Getting Ready to Read
1. Questions to ask and talk through with our rising kinders or first graders about the book:
Who is the author? / Show me where the author is on the cover. What does an author do?
Who is the illustrator? / Show me where the illustrator is on the cover. What does an illustrator do?
Where is the front cover? The back cover? The title page of the book?
As we read, which direction do we read the words?
2. Practice making predictions:
Together, look at the front cover. Using the title and picture on the cover, ask: what might happen in the story? What makes you think that?
Take a picture walk through the book. Ask: What do you think this story will be about? What do you notice when you look through this book?
What do you know about drawing, or making a picture?
What types of things do you like to draw?
Where do artists get their ideas for drawings and paintings?
Who might help you draw a picture?
Reading the Book
As you begin to read, make sure the book is between both of you so your child can clearly see the text (and illustrations) and be in the position of the reader (rather than a regular listener at a group story time).
Make sure to point your finger to each word as it is read aloud. In doing so, your child can follow the text as well as the storyline and learn that we derive meaning from print—we in fact are not just making up a story to match the pictures we are seeing!
Video examples of parents reading with primary grade students:
Please show me a word that starts with the uppercase letter D. Show me a word that starts with the lowercase letter p.
Put your finger on a word that starts with b. Put your finger on a word that ends with e.
Can you think of another word you know that rhymes with day?
Can you show me a sentence that has a question mark at the end? A period? An exclamation point?
Can you show me a word that ends in –ed? –s?
Find a word that starts with the same letter as your name.
Find a word that ends with the same letter as your name.
Find a word that has a letter that is in your name.
Can you show me the (high frequency) words: the, of, and, a, to, you, on, I, me, my? Many primary grade classrooms build reading fluency with sight word practice. For a review for rising first graders or a peak for rising kinders, here are kindergarten high frequency word lists:
Done with sitting still? Time to move but keep the connections going!
1. Write or draw an answer to this question: Would you be friends with David?
2. Find a tree near school, at a park, or near your home. Sketch it using a pencil and then later decorate it.
3. Re-read the story or have another adult read the story—re-reading stories is great for helping children practice fluency, make predictions, retell events, and build confidence in eventually reading parts on their own.
Jill Eisenberg, our Senior Literacy Expert, began her career teaching English as a Foreign Language to second through sixth graders in Yilan, Taiwan as a Fulbright Fellow. She went on to become a literacy teacher for third grade in San Jose, CA as a Teach for America corps member. In her weekly column at The Open Book, she offers teaching and literacy tips for educators.
Some of you are devastated he left the band. Some of you understand that he wants to live like a normal 22-year-old. Some of you are skeptical and feel betrayed after his first solo song was leaked just a week after leaving the band. And . . . Some of you don’t really care.
Well, whatever side you’re on, we’re about to hit you with a Writing Prompt that you’ll want to answer! Pour out your feelings . . . or non-feelings . . . and complete this sentence in your own unique way.
One Direction without Zayn is like . . .
We can’t wait to see YOUR Direction in the Comments below!
Summer is almost there! That means that the sixteenth annual NEW VOICES AWARD is now open for submissions. Established in 2000, the New Voices Award was one of the first (and remains one of the only) writing contests specifically designed to help authors of color break into publishing, an industry in which they are still dramatically underrepresented.
Change requires more than just goodwill; it requires concrete action. The New Voices Award is a concrete step towards evening the playing field by seeking out talented new authors of color who might otherwise remain under the radar of mainstream publishing.
The contest is open to writers of color who are residents of the United States and who have not previously had a children’s picture book published.
The deadline for this award is September 30, 2015.
For more eligibility and submissions details, visit the New Voices Award page and read these FAQs. Spread the word to any authors you know who may be interested. Happy writing to you all and best of luck!
If you love Zendaya, then you must read this interview. It’s kind of long, but she talks about everything! She talks about the weird thing that she’s afraid of, her 7th grade eyebrow disaster, going to high school with an 8-year-old, and her advice for girls.
Q: How would you describe K. C.? Zendaya: K. C. is just a regular girl. What I think is so exciting about her is the fact that she’s just a regular teenager who was put in this really irregular type situation and lifestyle, and I think she kind of just has to make the best out of it. But I love the fact that she’s kind of awkward. She’s not the coolest person in school. She’s not very popular, but is able to be cool and popular through her spy work. She’s able to use all these things that kind of made her nerdy.
Photo credit: Disney Channel/Kelsey McNeal
Q: Would you be friends with her? Zendaya: Absolutely. I think we’re like the same person. In fact, somebody who is close to me was telling me, “It’s funny. On TV you act a lot more like yourself.” And I was like, “Yeah. I do,” because I feel like she’s a lot like me, you know what I mean? She has a lot of characteristics like me, which makes her easier to play and easier to understand.
Q: K. C. is a math and tech whiz. How does that help her in her spying? Zendaya: It helps her be more problem-solving, you know? The fact that she’s able to think on her feet and solve things with her mind . . . you know, it’s like brain exercise. She’s really sharp.
Q: How about the fight training? Has that been difficult? Zendaya: Well, fight training is never super-easy, especially when you’re not a martial artist, you know what I mean? That’s not where I started. So for me, I think of it like dancing. It’s like learning new dance choreography, but only you’re punching someone.
Q: Out of acting and dancing and singing and writing, is one talent your favorite? Zendaya: Honestly I don’t have a favorite. I always try to find time to balance all of them because I think it’s really important if you want to be an entertainer to give each of your arts time and be able to enjoy all of them. You know what I mean? That’s the same for acting, singing, dancing, even visual art as well. So I try to find time for everything.
Q: What career would you follow if you had never been famous? Zendaya: I feel like my life kind of happened for a reason and everything is the way it is for a reason and I couldn’t see myself doing anything else. But I’d maybe want to do something that involves kids. I don’t know if it would be teaching or, you know, coming up with an organization that helps younger people.
Q: What’s the weirdest food you’ve ever eaten? Zendaya: Honestly . . . ok, here’s the thing. I’m not a huge experimenter. I’m definitely more of a cheese pizza and fries type of girl. I don’t like to get too crazy. Plus I’m a vegetarian, so any of those super-weird foods I can’t eat.
Q: What is it like going to school on the set of your show? Zendaya: Well, I go to high school in a classroom with me, Kamil, who’s also 18, and an eight-year-old. [Laughter.] Which is very strange, but it’s funny. It’s also kind of hard because, you know, there are certain things that we’re learning that she hasn’t learned yet. So there’s certain stuff that I can’t really talk about because it’s something that’s way beyond where she’s at right now and it’ll confuse her. But it’s also cool because there’s a lot of teaching moments and she can learn from us being in the classroom as well.
Q: How do you balance your life as a celebrity with just your normal life? Zendaya: Honestly, all I do is I just do regular kid stuff. It’s like all in a state of mind. For me, I don’t feel like I’m a celebrity or anything like that. I just feel like I’m a regular kid. So what do regular teenagers do? We go to the movies, and we hang out with our friends and that’s honestly what I do. I don’t do anything that special.
Q: Do you have advice for younger girls who look up to you as a role model? Zendaya: My number one piece of advice is always not to grow up too fast, to enjoy the years that you have as, you know, a 12-year-old because they go by so fast. The next thing you know you’re an 18-year-old and you have to worry about so much and think about so much more. So just enjoy the age that you are. And that’s even when you get older. When you’re 18, enjoy being 18. You don’t want to be 21 yet.
Q: Do you have a motto or a quote that you live by? Zendaya: My motto is always DFTS. It means “don’t forget to smile” because I think smiling is just a really powerful thing.
Q: When you were little, did you have a word that you couldn’t pronounce? Zendaya: Milk. I used to say chocolate mook.
Q: If you could invent an ice cream flavor, what would you invent? Zendaya: It would be . . . “Nutella Greatness.” Maybe it would be vanilla ice cream with Nutella in it. Maybe do a version with caramel. But it all has Nutella with multiple different kinds of things inside.
Q: What’s your biggest fear? Zendaya: You know, I don’t know why I’m so afraid of flies. It’s not that I’m afraid of them. They’re just really, really annoying and they drive me crazy. But the thing is I feel bad killing them. So I either make my friends kill them or my dad or something. [Laughter.] Or I just let them be . . . like, especially at night time when it’s dark and they, like, buzz around you. I have this irrational fear that they’re going to crawl in my nose. I don’t know.
Q: What’s your favorite holiday or summer activity? Zendaya: I love vacations. I love going on vacations with my family usually to somewhere tropical. I like that weather where you don’t need a jacket. You just walk around with a tank top and it’s comfortable even at night time. Honestly, I like doing absolutely nothing. Laying by the beach, going to the pool, like just chilling out because sometimes I work so much and I do so much all the time that not doing something is a strange feeling and it’s exciting. I think one of my favorites was when I went to Jamaica. The culture was really awesome, like the music, food, everything out there is really great. And then on top of that, the water is warm. I’m not a huge fan of cold ocean water, so the fact that the water was warm was very exciting.
Q: Do you have a first-day-of-school memory? Zendaya: Oh, yeah. I remember, It was my first day of seventh grade. I went to get my eyebrows done the day before and the lady really messed up my eyebrows and I was so embarrassed to go to school. I cried. But I think that’s why I’m so obsessed with my eyebrows nowadays.
Q: What are your dreams and hopes for your future? Zendaya: That’s a good question. Well, I dream to just continue to do my art but continue to spread positive messages and do good things with what I do.
Interview by Gerri Miller
Photos courtesy Disney Channel
See how you can get featured in next month’s STACKS Blast newsletter!
We think you are awesome and we want to know more about you! Every month, I will post questions in a STACKS Stars blog post. All you have to do to participate is answer the questions and we will pick one random user to be featured in next month’s newsletter. Don’t see yourself in the next newsletter? No worries! You can enter yourself again as many times as you like! Everyone is a winner so there’s always a good chance that you could be next.
To participate, you must have a STACKS profile and screen name. If you don’t have one, it is easy and free to set one up. Click here to set up a profile. Be sure to create an awesome avatar that really shows who you are because that picture will be used in the feature if you are selected! Remember to have fun with your avatar and get creative.
This month’s questions are about the Summer Reading Challenge! Do you think you are ready to participate? If so, here they are.
What is your STACKS screen name?
Which book are you planning to read next?
Why are you choosing this book?
If you could read this book anywhere in the world for a day, where would it be and why?
Have you read any books on the Summer Reading Challenge list? If so, which was your favorite and why? If not, which books are you interested in reading next?
Every flu season, sneezing, coughing, and graphic throat-clearing become the day-to-day background noise in every workplace. And coworkers tend to move as far—and as quickly—away from the source of these bodily eruptions as possible. Instinctively, humans recoil from objects that they view as dirty and even struggle to overcome feelings of discomfort once the offending item has been cleaned. These reactions are universal, and although there are cultural and individual variations, by and large we are all disgusted by the same things.
In Don’t Look, Don’t Touch, Don’t Eat, Valerie Curtis builds a strong case for disgust as a “shadow emotion”—less familiar than love or sadness, it nevertheless affects our day-to-day lives. In disgust, biological and sociocultural factors meet in dynamic ways to shape human and animal behavior. Curtis traces the evolutionary role of disgust in disease prevention and hygiene, but also shows that it is much more than a biological mechanism. Human social norms, from good manners to moral behavior, are deeply rooted in our sense of disgust. The disgust reaction informs both our political opinions and our darkest tendencies, such as misogyny and racism. Through a deeper understanding of disgust, Curtis argues, we can take this ubiquitous human emotion and direct it towards useful ends, from combating prejudice to reducing disease in the poorest parts of the world by raising standards of hygiene.
Don’t Look, Don’t Touch, Don’t Eat reveals disgust to be a vital part of what it means to be human and explores how this deep-seated response can be harnessed to improve the world.
To download your free copy (through May 31) of Don’t Look, Don’t Touch, Don’t Eat, click here.
New York, NY— May 7, 2015— Tu Books, the middle grade and young adult imprint of respected multicultural children’s publisher LEE & LOW BOOKS, is thrilled to announce that author Axie Oh has won its second annual New Visions Award for her young adult science fiction novel, The Amaterasu Project.
The award honors a fantasy, science fiction, or mystery novel for young readers by an author of color who has not previously published a novel for that age group. It was established to encourage new talent and to offer authors of color a chance to break into a tough and predominantly white market.
The Amaterasu Project takes place in a futuristic Korea wracked by war and a run by a militarized government, where the greatest weapon—and perhaps the greatest hope—is a genetically modified girl. “The futuristic sci-fi setting is inspired by a combination of Japanese concept art and animated television series,” says Oh. “I hope my new book gives to readers what books have always given to me—a new world to explore and new characters to fall in love with.” Oh will receive a cash prize of $1,000 and a publication contract with Tu Books.
Last year, books by authors of color comprised less than six percent of the total number of books published for young readers, according to the Cooperative Children’s Book Center at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. The annual New Visions Award is a step toward the day when all young readers can see themselves in books.
Two books were chosen as New Visions Award Honors: Yamile Saied Mendez’sOn These Magic Shoresand Andrea Wang’s Eco-Agent Owen Chang. On These Magic Shores is a contemporary middle grade novel with a touch of magical realism about 12-year-old Minerva, who must step up to take care of her younger sisters when her mother, who is undocumented, goes missing. Eco-Agent Owen Chang is a humorous middle grade mystery about Owen Chang, a middle schooler who moonlights as a secret agent for an undercover environmental organization. Mendez and Wang will each receive a cash prize of $500.
While writing their manuscripts, both Wang and Méndez stressed the importance of seeking out books by and about people of color. “I naturally gravitate toward books by authors of color because they tell stories that mirror my experience as a person of color too,” says Méndez. Similarly, Wang says, “I’m all for reading books that are outside your comfort zone or told from an unfamiliar perspective. Personally, I would rather expand my reading horizons than restrict it.”
ABOUT: Tu Books, an imprint of LEE & LOW BOOKS, publishes diverse speculative fiction for young readers. It is the company’s mission to publish books that all young readers can identify with and enjoy. For more information, visit leeandlow.com/imprints/3.
Pinterest has become a teacher’s go-to source for all sorts of curation inspiration. If you’re like me, you can browse and pin for hours without even once questioning when you’ll have time to DIY your heart out or eat everything pinned to your food inspiration board.
So, since June is right around the corner we thought we’d help you get a head start thinking about and planning some fun end-of-the-year tokens of appreciation. Whether you’re a teacher, student, or parent, Pinterest has an overwhelming amount of DIY-inspired gifts to celebrate the end of the school year and kick-off the start of the summer.
Teachers: 8 gift roundups (& no apples in sight!)
101 Easy & Creative Teacher Gift Ideas from The Dating Divas. An impressive list of over 100 teacher gift ideas broken down by category: the first day of school, appreciation gift ideas, end-of-the-year ideas, and even 2 bonus gift ideas for the bus driver.
Teacher Gift Ideas in Mason Jars from Mason Jar Crafts Love. If I had to describe Pinterest in two words it might just be mason jar. But dare to challenge their all-inclusive, miscellaneous nature and you’ll surely be disappointed.
28 Pun-Tastic Teacher Gifts from BuzzFeed. A laugh-out-loud collection of “punny” printables and DIY ideas for your “uh-mason” teacher or “berry sweet” students.
DIY Treat Bag Tags-Teacher Appreciation from The Busy Budgeting Mama. You can never go wrong with an edible gift, particularly those made with sugar. Here are 5 printable tags to say thanks in a sweet way.
FREE Teacher Appreciation Cards from The Chickabug Blog. Overwhelmed by Pinterest’s crafting skills? Are you a self-aware last-minute gifter? Or maybe you just have a sarcastic sense of humor? Look no further. This list of printable teacher gift card holders is here to save the day.
The Archives:These blogs are a treasure trove of teacherappreciation gift ideas, many more than can be covered in
thisroundup. Here, you’ll find teacher gifts for any and every occasion throughout the school year.
Teacher Appreciation Ideas from Skip to My Lou. 10 whole pages worth of ideas to thank a teacher. Need I say more? This is one you’ll want to bookmark for later.
Teacher Appreciation/School from Eighteen 25. Printables, printables, printables! This blog is chock-full of cheesy tags & quick DIY gift ideas for teachers that are practical, yummy, and great keepsakes.
Teacher Appreciation Gifts from The Happy Scraps. Teacher gifts for any occasion, these DIY ideas are quick and as simple as possible without breaking the bank.
Students: 8 ways to settle those testing nerves and end the year on a high note with your students.
End of the Year Gifts! from Lessons With Laughter. Your students’ futures are bright! But with cool sunglasses to wear, a survival kit bucket for life by their side, and having had you as a teacher they’re sure to be headed in the right direction.
Smartie Pants from The Muddy Princess. These are the best kinds of “smartie pants.” All you need is some cardstock, brads, glue, and Smarties!
Candy Gram Ideas from Happy Home Fairy. Candy grams are always sweet motivation for either starting or ending the school year.
Graduation Gift Idea Printable Seed Packets from Pre K-Pages. Just as you helped them plant seeds of knowledge, encourage students to keep growing their minds with this gift. Not only perfect end-of-the-year gifts for students and teachers, Forget Me Not seedlings make memorable graduation gifts.
Finally, if you’re a fan of Pinterest then we want to connect! Follow Lee & Low Books on Pinterest here.
Veronicahas a degree from Mount Saint Mary College and joined LEE & LOW in the fall of 2014. She has a background in education and holds a New York State childhood education (1-6) and students with disabilities (1-6) certification. When she’s not wandering around New York City, you can find her hiking with her dog Milo in her hometown in the Hudson Valley, NY.
SpongeBob SquarePants. The name says it all. One of the most wildly popular cartoons of all time, it is still going strong in its 16th (!!!) year since the first episode on Nickelodeon in 1999. Not many can “absorb” as successfully as this sponge.
Did you know the creator of SpongeBob, Steve Hillenburg, was a marine biologist? Or that the series was going to be named SpongeBoy or SpongeBoy Ahoy? And did you realize what a special place SpongeBob had in your heart . . . until you just read this blog? Well if you’re a landlubber who loves SpongeBob, we want to know . . .
Would You Rather . . .
1. Live in a pineapple under the sea OR a tree house up in the sky?
2. Eat a krabby patty from The Krusty Krab OR a crab cake from Red Lobster?
3. Have to wear a bikini in a snowstorm OR a snowsuit jumping into a pool?
4. Have Plankton as your evil sidekick OR the hyenas from The Lion King?
5. Go on a date with Larry the Lobster (the muscular lifeguard of the Goo Lagoon) OR Patchy the Pirate?
6. Get sunburn OR frostbite?
7. Have Gary the snail as your pet OR Sandy Cheeks the squirrel?
8. Be the “voice” of SpongeBob on the cartoon OR star in YOUR OWN live-action TV show?