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Here’s an awesome giveaway that I wanted to share. You can win a Kindle Fire, as well as a ton of other goodies! Kimberley Griffiths Little is celebrating the release of her historical novel FORBIDDEN with a giveaway! Check it out!
On November 4th, HarperCollins unveils Forbidden, a seductive YA debut from award-winning middle grade author Kimberley Griffiths Little. Forbidden transports readers back in time to the deadly deserts and sweltering heat of Ancient Mesopotamia for a tale of danger, duty, and forbidden love. Jayden is on the brink of womanhood and betrothed to her tribe’s prince, cold-hearted Horeb. But when tragedy strikes, Jayden meets Kadesh, a mysterious visitor from the south who makes Jayden doubt everything she knows. Torn between loyalty to her tribe and the chance to escape her fate, Jayden must make a choice that will change her life forever.
Kimberley is also offering a HUGE preorder giveaway from October 6th to November 4th (release day!) to celebrate. See below for full details on how to enter.TO ENTER:
You must preorder Forbidden through an online retailer or your local bookstore, then email a photo of your receipt to email@example.com.
Fill out the rafflecopter below
Ends at midnight EST on November 3, 2014
Optional entries: share the trailer on your own site or social media, follow Kimberley on twitter, and tweet about the giveaway (can be repeated daily for extra entries!)
Winners will be announced and contacted November 4th (release day!)
If the winner does not respond with their mailing address within one week, a new winner will be chosen.
(1) GRAND PRIZE WINNER: 1. NEWLY RELEASED Kindle Fire HD6 Tablet with 6″ HD Display, Wi-Fi, Front and Rear Cameras, 8 GB — choose your color! (Black, Magenta, White, Citron, or Cobalt)
2. GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNS by Rae Carson
3. CHAOS OF STARS by Kiersten White
4. Satin Belly Dance Skirt
5. Belly Dance 150-Coin Hip Scarf
6. Red Silk Veil (not pictured)
7. Red Middle Eastern Earrings
8. Belly dance DVD: Sensual Belly Dance with Blanca, a professional dancer (technique, choreography, and performances)
9. “Will YOU risk it all?” button (not pictured)
10. Set of 10 Book Club Cards
11. Jeweled bookmark (not pictured)
(1) SECOND PLACE WINNER:
1. GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNS by Rae Carson
2. Red Middle Eastern Earrings
3. Red Silk Veil (not pictured)
4. Belly dance DVD: Sensual Belly Dance with Blanca, a professional dancer (technique, choreography, and performances)
About Forbidden: In the unforgiving Mesopotamian desert where Jayden’s tribe lives, betrothal celebrations abound, and tonight it is Jayden’s turn to be honored. But while this union with Horeb, the son of her tribe’s leader, will bring a life of riches and restore her family’s position within the tribe, it will come at the price of Jayden’s heart.
Then a shadowy boy from the Southern Lands appears. Handsome and mysterious, Kadesh fills Jayden’s heart with a passion she never knew possible. But with Horeb’s increasingly violent threats haunting Jayden’s every move, she knows she must find a way to escape—or die trying.
With a forbidden romance blossoming in her heart and her family’s survival on the line, Jayden must embark on a deadly journey to save the ones she loves—and find a true love for herself.
Set against the brilliant backdrop of the sprawling desert, the story of Jayden and Kadesh will leave readers absolutely breathless as they defy the odds and risk it all to be together.
About Kimberley: Award-winning author Kimberley Griffiths Little was born in San Francisco, but now lives in New Mexico on the banks of the Rio Grande with her husband and their three sons. Her middle-grade novels, When the Butterflies Came, The Last Snake Runner, The Healing Spell, and Circle of Secrets, have been praised as “fast-paced and dramatic,” with “beautifully realized settings.” Kimberley adores anything old and musty with a secret story to tell. She’s stayed in the haunted tower room at Borthwick Castle in Scotland; sailed the Seine in Paris; ridden a camel in Petra, Jordan; shopped the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul; and spent the night in an old Communist hotel in Bulgaria. You can visit her online at www.kimberleygriffithslittle.com.
Share your thoughts on the trailer in the comments!
The question I am most asked by parents is "What is the reading level of your books?"
I am currently teaching an adult class on writing for children. The first question I am usually asked by those students is "How do you write at an appropriate reading difficulty for an age group?"
Those questions are not as easy to answer as you might think.
Carmela's Friday post stated that in reaching "reluctant readers" a writer should simply write whatever they are passionate about and the readers will follow. I have most certainly found this to be true.
When I first began writing, "targeting" a group, or writing with a specific grade level vocabulary never crossed my mind. Thanks to years and years of working in children's library service, I have read thousands and thousands of children's books for all ages. When I write, my brain goes into "child mode." That's just the way I write, period. My normal style involves short sentences and short paragraphs using simple words.
I was not aware of my writing style, until my then elementary school-aged daughter introduced me to "Accelerated Reader." This was the program her school used for "pleasure" reading. (I am not sure how pleasurable it was since it was required.) Only books on the Accelerated Reader program were counted for the reading grade. Books had point values, based on complexity of language and interest level.
I was thrilled to learn that all my books were on the Accelerated Reader list, which increased the likelihood of their purchase by a school library. However, I was puzzled to learn that my middle grade books, Yankee Girl and Jimmy's Stars, were not being read by the fourth and fifth graders, my intended audience.
The mystery was solved when one of my daughter's friends told me how much she liked Jimmy's Stars "even though it doesn't have many points." A trip to the school library informed me that both of the books had a point value of 3. For comparison, anything written by J.K. Rowling had a point value of upwards of 7. That particular year, my daughter was supposed to read 7 points worth every six weeks. How could I compete with Harry Potter?
A little digging into the mysteries of Accelerated Reader yielded the information that while my middle grade books had a third grade reading level, their content was appropriate for upper fifth grade and sixth grade students. Considering that the subjects of those books were Civil Rights Era Mississippi and the ravages of World War II, I thought that was a fair evaluation.
Then parents began to ask me that troublesome reading level question. This was often prefaced with something like, "My daughter is in second grade but she reads on a fourth grade level. She should be able to read your books, right?"
I found myself in the strange position of talking down my own books. While the child in question would be able to read and recognize the words I had written, would they be able to understand the events in the book? It had never occurred to me that a seven-year-old might read those books. Tough things happen in them: racial prejudice, death, violence. Although I didn't "target" my writing, I didn't think anyone under ten would be reading them. I started hedging my answers by telling parents they could buy the book but perhaps they should put it away until their child was older. Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn't. No matter what I said, some parents completely missed the fact that some "low reading level" material might contain concepts too mature or sophisticated for a first grader who was "a really good reader."
What did I learn from this experience? Did this cause me to become a cautious, self-censoring writer? Do I now write in a more complex style?
I write what I am passionate about. I write for my inner eleven-year-old. It's the best that I can do. It's all any of us can do.
Don't forget to enter our latest book giveaway for a chance to win a copy of the 2015 Children's Writer's and Illustrator's Market. See Carmela's post for details.
Silver Like Dust. Kimi Cunningham Grant. 2012. Pegasus. 288 pages. [Source: Library]
Silver Like Dust focuses on the relationship of a grandmother and granddaughter. The author--the granddaughter--wants to strengthen her relationship with her grandmother. At the start, she feels like she barely knows her. She knows a few things, perhaps, but not in a real-enough way. For example, she knows that her grandmother spent world war 2 in an internment camp. She knows that that is where her grandparents met, and also where her uncle was born. But her grandmother has never talked about the past, about the war, about her growing-up years. In fact, her grandmother has always been a private, quiet person. So she focuses her attention and begins to do things intentionally. She sets out to get to know her grandmother, she sets out to get the story, the real story. The book isn't just telling readers about the grandmother's experiences in the 1940s. The book is telling readers about the process, the journey, to getting to the story. That was unique, I thought. Not every nonfiction book lets readers in behind the scenes. I also thought it kept the book personal. This is very much family history, taking an interest in your family, in the past, of making sense of it all.
There are many kinds of habitats, and each supports certain animal populations. Animals Everywhere! is an illustrated guide which provides some interesting information about them.
Habitats such as the rain forest, mountains, desert, and ocean are each presented in a two-page spread. In these pages, various animals that live in the habitat are illustrated in cartoon style, along with fun facts about them.
Kids will be fascinated to learn about the goliath bird-eating spider, which is as big as a pizza, or the male narwhal, which is also called the “unicorn of the sea” because it has a long, spiral tusk. These and other fascinating creatures fill the pages of this fun and colorful book.
“Because this business of becoming conscious, of being a writer, is ultimately about asking yourself, How alive am I willing to be?” ― Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and… Continue reading →
Thanks to Twoheadedboy for mentioning this story. It's eight months old now but, following my Powerpuff Girls posting yesterday, it all fits nicely in place.
I do have to admit that it might work if the characters were supposed to be teens but WTF were IDW thinking? I guess it's all those US TV shows and events where moms and dads "paint up their daughters of 5, 6 and 7 years of age like street whores" -NOT my words.
I guess some pervert enjoyed the art! The characters in the comics are 5-6 years old and no amount of getting on a high horse nor publishing a photo of her accuser in a strip club -I'm sorry, the artists get high and mighty about how she drew little girls in this way and a photo of a guy in a strip joint smashes his arguement??? I'd be asking "how long did it take you to find a photo of him in a strip club? to defend yourself?"
Comics gone nutty.
I wrote porno comics at one point. Never do it again but I know that men AND women go to strip joints.....sigh.
I really, really am growing tired of stupidity in comics.
Publisher IDW just announced that it would not go forward with a variant cover some found objectionable of ‘Powerpuff Girls’ #6 illustrated by female artist Mimi Yoon. We previously reported that comic shop owner Dennis Barger took to Facebook to vent “Are we seriously sexualizing pre-teen girls like perverted fan fiction writers on the Internet???? Is that what this s*** has gotten to? DISGUSTED!” He further went to add, “taking grade school girls and sexualizing them as way older… they are wearing latex bondage wear mini dresses, which on an adult would be fine but on the effigies of children is very wrong… especially on an ALL AGES kids book marketed for children. These characters are supposed to be 6-7 years old, aren’t they?” (Actually they’re in kindergarten so more like 5-6.)
‘The Powerpuff Girls’ comic is presumably aimed at children along with IDW’s other licensed properties such as ‘My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic’. IDW’s VP of Marketing Dirk Wood stated that the variant cover was intended as a collectible for adult fans and that Cartoon Network itself had requested the variant and selected Mimi Yoon as the artist. (The regular cover features artwork that emulates the normal style of the original cartoons.) The publisher then announced that it would not publish the racy variant.
Some have defended the cover by pointing out that should the characters exist in real time, they would be in their late teens or early twenties now. (Feel old?)
Yoon has since taken to Facebook herself to defend her illustration, stating “I find all of the accusations for my Powerpuff Girls image sexualizing minors not only ridiculous but also embarrassing for the accusers… When any girl who has interest in Powerpuff Girls (sees the controversial IDW cover) and grows up to be like the ‘ladies’ in the pictures… That would be one serious tragedy, wouldn’t it?… I’m curious to know why are all the arguments about trying to keep the image away from the girls? What about the boys?” She then followed up by posting photographs of her accuser, Dennis Barger, at a strip club. Zing!
The Regular Cover For ‘Powerpuff Girls’ #6
Fans have also rallied around Yoon and have posted encouraging messages to the artist. Someone going by the nickname “Holly Golightly” posted “I’ve been defending your Beautiful Artwork from the Ridiculousness of Men (who) tell us Gals what we should be offended by or what is appropriate for us…Nutty and Silly- your work is hauntingly feminine and sly…I love it!”
Fellow comic artist Jenny Frison posted, “Just wanted to say that I thought your PPG cover was super cute and fun and sassy and totally appropriate for youngsters! Sorry some people’s negative opinions totally overshadowed how much hard work and love you put into that cover. Don’t let this make you second guess yourself. You are very talented and did a beautiful job!”
Yoon responded by posting “I promise this will no way deter me from doing what I love doing or change my views and ways, and I will always and forever passionately despise perverted, corrupted, and twisted minds and acts.”
Clearly neither party is willing to “agree to disagree.” Is Yoon’s image inappropriate? Or is it cheeky fun with a female empowerment message? Yoon obviously aged the characters, so it’s not like she depicted them as five year olds in sexy clothing. But considering that this book is aimed at a younger audience, is the Yoon variant cover too much?
Hello everyone! I hope all is well with you!
My new release is coming October 21st and it's going to be on sale for $.99!
This is the first book in the Starlight Chronicles and I'm very excited about this series! Check out the excerpt below!
A great YA read!
Lark Singer’s relationship with her mother is prickly to say the least. As she enters a musical competition that could
"As Joy and Pete are driving into Belfast, all they can see is devastation. Pete's spider-sense warns him of danger and he brakes hard across Joy in the car while a petrol bomb flies across their path. Terrorists with guns show up but are eventually fought off my the military police and Pete and Joy manage to drive their way into the middle of the city. Welcome to Northern Ireland, I guess.
Joy is still on the trail of Roxxon and takes Pete off to their HQ. They are also on the looking for the mysterious 'black hoods' gang who the military police warned them about. After stumbling across a fire in a block of flats, Pete and Joy meet a guy called Liam, whose flat it was. He says he's running from the Black Hoods. Liam says the Hoods killed his brother and are now after him.
He takes them to a pub and introduces them as American reporters. One of the patrons tells them that the Hoods have been causing trouble in the area but no-one knows why. Joy thinks Roxxon is involved because the Hoods don't seem like 'traditional' terrorists. As they leave, a gang with rifles surround them - looks like they've been talking a bit too loudly in the pub.
The gang blindfold them and take them to the Roxxon building where they are met by a chap called Ian Forbes. Forbes tells them that the Pentagon terminated a defence contract with Roxxon and so they decided to try and sell their weapons to the British government to use in Ireland. He demonstrates the use of a tank (that has a tendency to overheat) to them. He then introduces 003 - a British secret serviceman.
His plan is to cause unrest through the Black Hoods in Ireland, then some 'well-placed' politicians in London will call for greater force to be used and so Roxxon come in and sell their weapons. As they are locked up, Liam shows up. Pete and Joy want to get more evidence against Roxxon, so split up as they escape. Pete does a quick change to Spidey and does some arse- whupping. He finds out Forbes and 003 are escaping via helicopter on the roof.
On the roof, Liam and Joy have been recaptured. Spidey saves them and manages to get a tracer on the helicopter. Liam shoots one of the gang who is threatening them but finds out it is his brother, called Rory. The last thing we see is the helicopter exploding while a shadowy figure in a Roxxon building says Forbes had been too careless. "
In a post World War 2 like landscape with British troops in -German style?- half-track vehicles and US uniforms the American reader is introduced to Northern Ireland. The Northern Ireland that exists in the mind of some dope-arsed American writer who, I assume, had never been to Northern Ireland? It was from this book that the famous Irish swear word came. What vocal obscenity? Oh -"meadow muffins!" I am NOT kidding. Us Brits discussed this long and hard over peals of laughter at the junk we were reading/seeing. We could only assume that "meadow muffins" were cow pats?
But it seems that American writers also preferred to see "British occupied Northern Ireland" in some drug orientated way....maybe to ease their consciences I dunno -a lot of weapons were purchased by the IRA with American money so...?
And now I have just read something re-published by Marvel in 2012: Avengers: The Contest but back in the 1980s there was no big movie to spin reprints off of so any comic reader would know this as a compilation of the first Marvel Super Hero Contest Of Champions.
And all those absolutely stupid things that went to show WHY American writers -or Di$ney which has bastardised the folklore and history of many nations for a $- should stick to just writing American characters.
We have the Irish heroine "Shamrock" (SERIOUSLY????) and Captain Britain.
Shamrock :"You wear the emblem of Great Britain!"
Captain Britain:"And you the Green of Ireland"
Caps:"Shamrock and Captainb Britain, divided by their countries' enmity, eye each other suspiciously."
Script by Bill Mantlo. Arse.
I remember fighting off the hordes of Irish, black hooded kamikazee waves with their shamrock flags blowing in the wind. Obviously no idea what-so-ever of Irish national colours -"Hey -shamrocks the national emblem, right?" I was surprised that Irelands great super hero The Leprachaun wasn't shown. **** this was bad.
But, oh, the un-PC national -racist- stereotyping didn't stop there. There is an Arabic hero called...I feel soooo dirty writing this...."Arabian Knight" -I have no idea who "Defensor" is/was and the bald-headed "Talisman" of Australia...yes, this book is really making me feel dirty.
Don't get me wrong. I simply switch of my higher brain functions to read this stuff. Not sure if it was meant to tie in with toys or not but, oy!
It's good fun but even in the no-computers-to-do-research-by, there is no excuse for some of the stereotyping unless it was "just write it and get the pay cheque!"
I'm sure they could have included Captain Lesbos -hero of the island state of Lesbos?
I have to say, with all of this, yes, it was enjoyable.
Oh no....I just found this. Hilarious -I think a bit of pee just came out!
Just in time for autumn and Halloween, Penguin is back. This time Penguin is off on an adventure to find out what fall is like. Unfortunately, her little brother, Pumpkin, is too small to make the journey. But Penguin doesn’t forget about him and brings him back a little bit of fall.
Not only is this a story about the season but of sibling relationships as well. The cute illustrations share some of the joys of autumn. While Penguin and Pinecone is still my favorite in this series, I love the ending image of snowing leaves in this title.
By Danielle Ellison
My book releases today!!!! (I’m still trying to process that.)
Giving birth to a book baby, creating something to put out there into the world, is a big deal. It’s not a feeling I can describe. Each book that you create comes with a new feeling.
Follow Me Through Darkness is my third release this year. Third. Going from zero to three in a year has been a crazy journey. (
In Lug’s Stone Age clan, a caveboy becomes a caveman by catching a jungle llama and riding it against the rival Boar Rider clan in the Big Game.
The thing is, Lug has a forbidden, secret art cave and would rather paint than smash skulls. Because Lug is different, his clan’s Big Man is out to get him, he’s got a pair of bullies on his case—oh, and the Ice Age is coming. When Lug is banished from the clan for failing to catch a jungle llama, he’s forced to team up with Stony, a silent Neanderthal with a very expressive unibrow, and Echo (a Boar Rider girl!).
In a world experiencing some serious global cooling, these misfits must protect their feuding clans from the impending freeze and a particularly unpleasant pride of migrating saber-toothed tigers.
It's no help that the elders are cavemen who can't seem to get the concept of climate change through their thick skulls. Could you tell us the story of "the call" or "the email" when you found out that your book had sold? How did you react? How did you celebrate?
On Friday, December 7, 2012, I got an international call. It was my agent, Catherine Drayton, in Sydney, Australia. She told me that Lug: Dawn of the Ice Age and a sequel was going to be published. I started sobbing--which felt strange, embarrassing, joyful and cathartic all at once.
My daughter was two at the time, so I remember feeling especially happy that she might read the books one day. After the call--thinking I was all cried out--I called my wife. I immediately started bawling. Then I called my parents . . . you get the idea.
We celebrated by going out for dinner. I have no idea where or what we ate, but I’m sure there was dessert involved and that it tasted especially sweet that night.
One of the best memories I do have--my mother-in-law emailed me to say: "Congratulations! Don't let it go to your head."
She’s from Scotland.
As a comedic writer, how do you decide what's funny?
I have a giant stuffed iguana named Pedro next to my computer. I’ve noticed that whenever I write something funny, Pedro winks at me and whispers “Bueno.”
What advice do you have for those interested in either writing comedies or books with a substantial amount of humor in them?
I wouldn’t advise setting out to write in any particular genre or style. I think the key thing is to find a story and characters you love, and then to try various approaches and see what reads best.
Lug started out in third person but--on the advice of the wonderful Deborah Halverson--ended up in first person. It was just more fun to read that way.
More importantly, I would make sure you love the process of creating stories more than anything else. If it’s not your true calling, do the thing you love more.
Be completely honest with yourself--are you doing this more for the love of storytelling, or to ‘become an author’ one day? Are you genuinely enjoying what you’re writing? If the answer is ‘kinda,’ chances are that’s how other people will feel too.
Finally, find writer/reader friends and show them your stories. Listen, learn, and rewrite. Put your story away for a while and look at it again fresh. Then, rinse and repeat. Since you usually only have one shot with a manuscript, only go out to agents after you’ve gone through this process a few times.
Having said all that, I think the funniest books aren’t too focused on the funny. They’re compelling stories with interesting characters who happen to be in comic situations. We’re not going to laugh much if we don’t care about the characters or the story.
Personally, my favorite kind of humor is situational. I like building scenes so that the humor comes from what’s happening to the characters, rather than from the author commenting on what’s happening.
David Zeltser emigrated from the Soviet Union as a child, graduated from Harvard, and has worked with all kinds of wild animals, including rhinos, owls, sharks, and ad executives. He has a forthcoming picture book, Ninja Baby, with Caldecott Honor illustrator Diane Goode (Chronicle Books). David lives with his wife and daughter in Santa Cruz, California. He performs improv comedy and loves meeting readers of all ages. His second book about Lug is scheduled to publish in Fall 2015. Follow David on Twitter: @davidzeltser
Try as he might (or might not), Frank is a bear who is always late. And when he starts school, the trouble really begins.
Frank has very good reasons, like the time he had to save a cat stuck in a tree and the morning he found himself challenged to a charity dance-off, and even the time he had to rescue a family of bunnies from a huge, smelly ogre.
Frank's teacher has heard enough of Frank's excuses, but what happens when a giant zombie lizard king really does attack the school?
Sometimes there is truth to the most unusual of circumstances, and being helpful can pay off in the most unexpected ways.
What I thought:
Frank! is a really fun picture book. We all know that one person who is always late and that's why we'll all be able to relate to Frank. Frank comes up with some of the most absurd excuses for being late--I mean, it's not often you're mistaken for a famous dancer and get challenged to a dance-off by an Elvis look-alike. It's also not often that you find a family of bunnies being bullied by an ogre and must say something. That's why in the end, when a giant zombie lizard king really does attack the school, it's Frank who comes to the rescue. I absolutely love the illustrations and find them to be pretty unique compared to other picture books on the market. Children will especially love the bright colors and will pick up the quirky appeal. This would be a great picture book to use in the classroom to discuss making excuses, being on time, and working together. Then everyone can have their own dance off!
My 3-year-old daughter is currently an Hervé Tullet fan, but not in the sense you might think. It’s not Press Here that strikes her fancy (though she enjoys it well enough) but his board books with Phaidon. Who knew? Now there’s an exhibit up over in Brooklyn I need to take her to.
Brooklyn Public Library Hosts sole United States exhibition of Hervé Tullet’s art running through February 1, 2015 at BPL’s Central Library
WHERE: Central Library, 10 Grand Army Plaza, Brooklyn, NY 11238
WHO: Best-selling children’s author and illustrator Hervé Tullet
BACKGROUND: Hervé Tullet’s playful style and unique use of color have earned his children’s books a spot on the best-seller list for more than 150 weeks, and have garnered him acclaim across the globe. His work not only engages children with images on the page, but also with the physical feel of books— making him a favorite for young readers.
The release of Mr. Tullet’s new book, “Mix it Up” will accompany the only exhibition of his work in the United States this year— to be shown from October 2, 2014 through February 1, 2015 in Brooklyn Public Library’s Central Library.Hervé Tullet’s exhibition is sponsored by Handprint Books and Chronicle Books.
About Brooklyn Public Library
Brooklyn Public Library (BPL) is an independent library system for the 2.5 million residents of Brooklyn. It is the fifth largest library system in the United States with 60 neighborhood libraries located throughout the borough. BPL offers free programs and services for all ages and stages of life, including a large selection of books in more than 30 languages, author talks, literacy programs and public computers. BPL’s eResources, such as eBooks and eVideos, catalog information and free homework help, are available to customers of all ages 24 hours a day at our website: www.bklynlibrary.org.
Any book that opens with teen girls burying their dead parents in the garden is going to be a page turner. Marnie (whose fifteenth birthday is the day of the secret interment) suspects her 12-year-old sister, Nelly of suffocating their father, Gene. Nelly suspects that Marnie is the culprit. Neither of them are overly concerned since all they want to do is stay together. Hence the hiding of the dead bodies. (Mom's death was something else entirely.) Gene and Izzy were NOT model parents.
Lenny, the aging neighbor watches the girls from his window, missing his dead partner, Joseph, and wondering where the parents have gone.
The girls struggle through school, and with friends and boys (Marnie) and social ineptitude (Nelly), until a crisis forces them to seek refuge with Lenny. They find a safe place there. But nothing lasts forever.
Sex, drugs, violence - this book may be about teens but it is written for adults or New Adults as 20-somethings are now called in the publishing world. Marnie and Nelly are both very smart. As they alternate telling the story, with some help from Lenny, they uncover what a truly neglected life they have led. All the reader really wants is for them to have a home with Lenny - he's so lonely and he can really cook! - and get on with their lives. But murder is not a victimless crime. Someone always has to pay.
I can't get this book out of my head. Some of the observations attributed to Marnie and Nelly are so apt, so well-put, that I want to memorize them. Or post them on a sampler on my wall.
When Marnie catches her bible-thumping grandfather swigging whiskey from a bottle she reacts this way: "I go back to my room afraid, because people like Robert T. Macdonald carrying righteousness like a handbag are dangerous and I never considered him dangerous before and now that I do I am scared."
"People...carrying righteousness like a handbagare dangerous." We see them every single day.
Children are often eager to find out how writers go about creating their stories, so Marie-Louise Gay decided to create a picture book that would help children to appreciate how the writing process works. In the book she answers the kinds of questions she is asked when she visits schools, and she also gives readers some insights that will amuse and entertain them.
For ages 7 and up
Groundwood, 2014, 978-1-55498-382-7
Marie-Louise Gay is a much loved author whose books have delighted children (and adults) for many years. When Marie-Louise goes to talk to children in schools and libraries, they do what all children do. They ask questions. A lot of questions. Often the children want to know about Marie-Louise and her life, and then there are the questions that pertain to her stories and how she creates them. One of those questions that is often asked is, “Where does a story start?”
A story always starts with a blank page. If you stare at the page long enough, “anything can happen.” You might think that a blank piece of white paper cannot possibly inspire anything, but this is not true. For example, it can give birth to a scene that is full of a snowstorm. If you start with a piece of paper that is old looking and has a yellow tinge to it then you might end up telling a story about a time when dinosaurs walked the earth. Blue paper can lead to an underwater adventure and green paper can be the backdrop for a story about a jungle.
Sometimes stories don’t start with a color at all. Instead, “words or ideas” come “floating out of nowhere.” Bit by bit pieces of paper with words and thoughts written on them are collected and sorted, and then they are joined by “little scribbles and doodles,” which is when the kernel of a story starts to grow. Of course, sometimes an idea pops up on the page that simply does not work at all. When this happens an author has to search around for something that does work, which can take a little (or even a lot) of time to happen. These things cannot be rushed though, and eventually the right piece of story comes along and the author is off and running.
In this wonderful picture book, Marie-Louise Gay explores the writing process, answering questions that children have asked her over the years. She shows us how a story is built, how it unfolds, and we see, right there on the pages, how she creates a magical story out of doddles, scraps of ideas, and tidbits of inspiration. The little children and animals characters who appear on the pages interact with the story, questioning, advising, and offering up ideas.
This is a book that writers of all ages will love. It is funny, cleverly presented, and it gives writers encouragement and support.
But what about those times when it’s just plain ol’ laziness that’s keeping you from the productivity you want? What about those days where you spend four hours at the computer and write all of 4 words because OMG! Look at all the pretties and shinies on the internet? And ungh, I’m hungry…and hey, when did that squirrel move into the tree outside my window?
Yeah, it’s kinda like that.
On those distraction-heavy days, my friend, it’s time to seek help elsewhere. It’s time to find SOMEONE ELSE to hold you accountable.
I mean, think about it: when you were in high school, you got your work done (or I hope you did…). Maybe it was at the last minute or maybe it wasn’t always your best work, but you finished. Why? Because someone else expected you to.
I’ve talked at great length about this with my author and solo-entrepreneur friends. We have no bosses! We have NO ONE to look over our shoulders and make sure we’re getting the work done.
Another thing we don’t have are people to validate us when we do make progress. So what if you had a great day writing–there’s no one there to be impressed or to pat you on the back or to say, “Great job! You deserve a raise.” We simply slog on, all alone.
But what if we put a dose of SOMEONE ELSE in our writing lives? What if we find (or start) a Twitter hashtag so we can make accountability partners? Or cheerleader/validation partners? Or what if we interact in forums or via email chains or Facebook groups? Writing is solitary, but it certainly doesn’t have to be.
I think camaraderie is one of the reasons that NaNoWriMo is SO successful for people! They’re all writing together, interacting, sharing, and keeping each other motivated.
So if you’re finding you need a bit more motivation in your life, I challenge you to find another writer who’ll hold you accountable and send you lots of smiley faces when you need ‘em. Heck, come join me in my forums–I’m definitely in need of some writing buddies!! Or add me as a friend for NaNoWriMo!
You tell me: Is this something you would ever do? Or do you already have someone like this in your writing life?
Before she settled down as a full-time novelist and writing instructor, Susan Dennard traveled the world as marine biologist. She is the author of the Something Strange and Deadly series as well as the forthcoming Witchlands series (Tor, 2015), and when not writing, she can be found hiking with her dogs, exploring tidal pools, or practicing her tap dance shuffles. You can learn more about Susan on her blog, Twitter, Facebook, or Pinterest.
I don’t remember where I heard about Bryan O’Malley’s newest graphic novel Seconds, but I immediately put myself on the library hold queue for it. You may recognize O’Malley as the creator of the Scott Pilgrim graphic novel series or maybe you might just know that the movie Scott Pilgrim vs. the World is based on one of those novels (I learned from the movie that I should have vegan superpowers but I must be doing something wrong because I’m still waiting for them). I’ve not read the graphic novel series, have you? And if so, should I?
But back to Seconds. It is about Katie, a successful chef who runs a hip restaurant called Seconds. She is in the midst of trying to strike out on her own with a brand new restaurant but the building is in such bad shape renovations are taking forever and costing a lot of money. Katie lives in a tiny room above Seconds in order to save money. One evening, there is an accident in the kitchen and a young waitress whom Katie has been trying to make friends with is badly burned. In her room, Katie is presented with a chance to change things. A notebook appears in which she it to write what she wants to change and then eat the little mushroom that was left beside it.
Now I know what you are probably thinking about that mushroom! I thought it too. But it isn’t that sort of mushroom. What it does is erase the accident. It never happened. Katie is happy and relieved and wishes she had more mushrooms because there is so much she would change if she could. And then she discovers the mushrooms are growing beneath the floorboard of a not frequently used storage closet behind the kitchen. She helps herself to quite a few of them, a dozen. And every time something happens that she doesn’t like, she can change it. Her new restaurant, her old boyfriend, friends, she changes them all sometimes more than once. She begins to get confused about what has and hasn’t happened.
She learns from Hazel, the waitress and now her friend who burned her arms that began this whole thing, that Seconds has a house spirit. The house spirit’s name is Lis and she makes an appearance in Katie’s room demanding she give back all those mushrooms, Lis’s mushrooms. But Katie refuses. Things get bad. Really bad.
The story is good, well told. The art is good too. They combine to make an enjoyable reading experience. I liked that Katie is a successful woman and this is her story. She is not drawn as tall and gorgeous, impossibly skinny and extremely well endowed. Nope, Katie is normal. Kind of short even with sort of crazy hair. I also enjoyed mulling over all the ways “seconds” can be applied in the story. From food so good you want seconds to second chances to how a life can change in seconds.
I don’t read graphic novels very often, not because I don’t enjoy them. I think I am just very picky about them. They have to meet some kind of worthiness test that I can’t even begin to articulate. But Seconds passed the test. I’m glad it did because it’s a good read.
I have never liked horror movies. Never. Ever. But I know that scary, frightening stories have a real appeal for many people. So how do I recommend them for my students? It's a challenge -- especially gauging that right balance between spine-tingling-fright and oh-no-way-too-frightening-for-10-year-olds.
Here are four short-story collections I am recommending to students. Please be warned: if they are too scary, stop reading. That's what I've done in many cases.
Four "curators"--Bachmann, Legrand, Catmull and Trevayne--have gathered together ominous tales, organizing them into different themes ranging from tricks to cake, luck to travel. There are ghost stories, monster stories and bizarre stories. Some have direct villains, while others set a creepy tone without letting you exactly see what's menacing the main character.
The curators have a terrific website Enter the Cabinet with many tales, both ones from the cabinet and others freshly added. My current favorite is The Door Downstairs, with a courageous heroine, eerie setting, and psychological themes. For extra creepy fun, check out the podcasts the curators recorded. Katherine Catmull's recording of "Dark Valentine" is enough to haunt my dreams tonight.
Here are some other favorite collections of frightening stories:
Jon Scieszka's collection has great kid appeal, with contributions from 10 different superb authors. I loved Matt de la Peña's story "Believing in Brooklyn" about a wish-making-machine, with its creepy coincidences and touching ending. What would you wish for if you could have anything you wanted? If you like this, check out all the Guys Reads collections.
Fleming begins this collection with a version of "The Vanishing Hitchhiker." In her version, the young teen who picks up the hitchhiker is told to take her shoes to the graveyard where she's buried--and he discovers a crowd of ghosts, all wanting to tell him how they died. Fleming sets her story in White Cemetery, an actual graveyard outside Chicago, and each story takes place during a different time period. She deftly weaves in many pieces of historical details, but these never overwhelm the stories.
I found these stories more frightening--certainly too frightening for 4th graders, and probably more suitable for 6th graders. All of the stories center on how a teenager died, and that aspect really got to me. I haven't shared this collection with students yet, so I can't gauge kids' reactions.
The spider story in this collection, "Webs," scared me so much that I couldn't finish reading this collection. As soon as I say that, kids start clamoring for this collection. Here's what I wrote when I originally read this collection:
In one story, a boy’s family is vacationing in a house that is taken over by spiders. Now, these aren’t your typical garden spiders. They are spiders who want revenge for the damages done to their forest and homes. Danny starts to get worried when he finds the rabbit cage filled with spider webs, and then realizes that the bundles in the corner are the dead rabbits encased in spider webs. The story proceeds to even creepier, as Danny discovers more ways the spiders have wrecked damage on previous owners of the house. Needless to say, every time I walk into a spider’s web now, I jump even higher.
The stories in these collections are NOT for everyone, but I know that many of my students clamor for frightening stories. Do you have any favorite short story collections that you hand your 4th, 5th and 6th graders? How do you judge what's too scary?
The review copy of The Cabinet of Curiosities was kindly sent by the publishers, Greenwillow Books, an imprint of HarperCollins. The review copy of the other collections came from our school library. If you make a purchase using the Amazon links on this site, a small portion goes to Great Kid Books. Thank you for your support.
“Because this business of becoming conscious, of being a writer, is ultimately about asking yourself, How alive am I willing to be?” ― Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and… Continue reading →
Scott Plumbe checking in again about his Kickstarter campaign to publish his illustrated novel, THE UNCLUKY FOX via digital installments. Really interesting stuff, I’m really enjoying seeing a glimpse from the other side of the crowd-funding curtain! Please check out his campaign if you’re interested. It promises to be a very cool project if the funding is successful.
My Kickstarter campaign has been equal doses exhausting and rewarding. So far The Unlucky Fox has nearly 100 backers. I am grateful for this solid base, but the campaign still has a long way to go to make the $30,000 goal. In fact, financially I’m only just over 10% of the way there. I’m now considering ways to tune up my campaign mid-stride.
Going on the assumption that my project isn’t completely undesirable, the first place to look is the rewards. Kickstarter allows you to edit and add new rewards once the campaign is underway. Some people have mentioned that they want the physical book as a reward. I understand that. I’m a bibliophile too. I’d love to be able to offer it, and it is tempting, but I’m not sure realistically how many people would be willing to pay up front and wait almost two years for a hard copy. That was one of the considerations for choosing the incremental release model. So I’ve decided to stick with my original offering, especially as so many people have already pledged on the current reward tier. It seems disrespectful to change that now.
Recently there have been articles surfacing from news sites like Gawker Media about how successful KS campaigns often have a hired ‘guru’ who is responsible for preparing and presenting the campaigns. I did find a few such individuals online during the pre-launch stage but confess I was skeptical. Essentially, they work as a PR company to position your project, devise rewards that will pique a backer’s interest, and spread the word through social media, blogs and various media outlets. Some such consultants even guarantee success! When I reviewed my rewards and calculated the time it would take me to fulfill what I’d promised, I didn’t see any room left for a consultant’s commission.
Some people have suggested I set my financial goal too high. Conversely, I have had people tell me I’m not ambitious enough with my project! They advise that I should aim for more and deliver my story in a variety of formats and through numerous channels. While I appreciate that kind of strategy and input, I don’t feel it squares with who I am. I want to guarantee that I fulfill my promises. I have a realistic understanding of what is achievable and can be delivered with quality and professionalism. I’m a firm believer in the practice of ‘bootstrapping’ for small businesses — and that is exactly how I think of The Unlucky Fox, as an emerging small business. Furthermore, doing it in steps allows it to happen on my terms. That may at first seem narcissistic, but what’s the point of following your passion if you’re not going to be true to yourself as a creator? I could have easily set a much lower goal in hopes it would be easier to reach. I have seen many projects on KS that have done so. But they’re not honoring their backers and are selling themselves and the crowdfunding platform short. Especially if they then struggle to fulfill their rewards in a timely manner — one of the #1 criticisms of crowdfunding.
So where does this leave me? I’m an independent creator who has spent countless hours getting this project underway and is now asking for an injection of support to bring it to fruition. So far, I’ve felt genuinely blessed to have so many backers that believe in my quirky project. The enthusiasm shown by absolute strangers is utterly humbling. More than ever, I feel a deep obligation to ensure The Unlucky Fox happens for those who have entrusted me with their hard-earned money!
Now that the campaign has launched, there is a limit to what I can do, yet I do still have a few avenues. Spread more press releases and woo various bloggers. Continue to engage on art and writing forums like DeviantArt, Wattpad and others. I’ll continue to post updates to my Kickstarter page and provide answers to the questions I receive daily. Social media, you ask. Yes — I can do that too, although not being ‘social’ by nature makes it particularly agonizing! Ironic, yes. As many other creators can understand, being less social is how I’ve found the time to hone my art! Now it’s time to flip the switch in the other direction.
In a few weeks time, I plan to submit my final report on my crowdfunding process. I look forward to reaching this to a conclusion.
Jude and her brother, Noah, are incredibly close twins. At thirteen, isolated Noah draws constantly and is falling in love with the charismatic boy next door, while daredevil Jude surfs and cliff-dives and wears red-red lipstick and does the talking for both of them. But three years later, Jude and Noah are barely speaking. Something has happened to wreck the twins in different and divisive ways - until Jude meets a cocky, broken, beautiful boy, as well as an unpredictable new mentor.
The early years are Noah's story to tell. The later years are Jude's. What the twins don't realize is that they each have only half the story, and if they could just find their way back to one another, they'd have a chance to remake their world.
Writing I'm going to do my best to write this without shrieking or flailing and just stick to the facts about how well-written this novel is. What I found most amazing was how clearly I could picture every scene and every character in this book, despite the fact that Nelson doesn't include a lot of description. I'm quick to admit that most of the time when I read, I have vague pictures of things in my head, but I focus more on what's happening than on how it "looks" in my mind. I think the reason I found this one so easy to picture was that the characters are just so very real.
That doesn't mean that I think the characters were entirely believable - I spent the first chapter feeling really weird about Noah and the way his mind works. I'm still not willing to say that I think she captured a believable voice with him. But the point of a novel isn't always realism. And I think that in this one, the character of Noah is so much more than having a believable teenage voice. He represents something, and his language reflects that.
Once I got used to the metaphorical language and brilliant artistic images that are thrown around so perfectly, I just fell in love with who Noah and Jude are and how they relate to each other and to their family. It's something I continue to find myself thinking about a mulling over even after having finished the book, because there is just so much there in terms of the ideas that Nelson is putting out, in addition to the compelling story and lovable characters.
Entertainment Value I feel almost sacrilegious comparing a book, especially a YA book, to Bel Canto, which is my very favorite book ever. Bel Canto was the first book I read that literally took my breath away and I am thrilled to report that Jandy Nelson replicated that amazing experience in this book. It's just beautifully done. The words are beautiful, the story is beautiful, and the meaning of it all is, yep, beautiful. I've found myself retelling scenes in my head throughout the week, while I'm not reading, just because thinking about it is that much fun. And I don't necessarily mean light or fluffy fun, because it's hard to read at times and deals with some really difficult subject matter. It was fun in the way that something that pulls at your heartstrings and makes you sit up and pay attention is fun.
Overall I really can't think of anyone I wouldn't recommend this book to. I think there's something there to appeal to all readers, including those who aren't typically drawn to YA. I recommend going into it with an open mind and not expecting to find the characters to be accurate depictions of your average teen. Noah and Jude are anything but average, but I think the amazing writing and the deeper meanings more than qualify any suspension of disbelief required.
Thanks to NetGalley for provding a copy for me to review.
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I’d like to thank authors Shweta Chopra and Shuchi Mehta for sharing their book The Diwali Gift with me.
In the Diwali Gift, three curious monkeys, Suno, Dekho, and Jaano get together for a playdate when a mysterious box from their grandmother appears.
What could be inside ?
Sparklers ? Bracelets ? Small lights known as divas?
No none of the above.
Inside is something very special to use on the night of Diwali. A special something which grants the owner their wishes to come true. To find out what the special something is, you’ll have to read the book.
This book is a simple and lovely story that invites us to share in the Hindu festival of Diwali. The Diwali Gift is fun, entertaining, and wonderfully educational. One truly feels the spirit, anticipation and festive feeling of the holiday.
“Diwali also known as Deepavali and the “festival of lights”, is an ancient Hindu festival celebrated in autumn every year. The festival spiritually signifies the victory of light over darkness, knowledge over ignorance, good over evil, and hope over despair.The festival preparations and rituals typically extend over a five day period, but the main festival night of Diwali coincides with the darkest, new moon night of the Hindu Lunisolar month Kartika. In the Gregorian calendar, Diwali night falls between mid-October and mid-November.
Before Diwali night, people clean, renovate and decorate their homes. On Diwali night, Hindus dress up in new clothes or their best outfit, light up diyas (lamps and candles) inside and outside their home, participate in family puja typically to Lakshmi – the goddess of wealth and prosperity. After puja (prayers), fireworks follow, then a family feast including mithai (sweets), and an exchange of gifts between family members and close friends. Diwali also marks a major shopping period in nations where it is celebrated.”
The illustrations by Anna Koan are fun and captivating. There is a glossary in the back of the book as well as an explanation of Diwali and how one celebrates it.
I advise reading the glossary before hand so you can clarify the story when reading it to children. I greatly enjoyed this book and would recommend it.
The Diwali Gifts is a contemporary and fun book and is also a great tool for explaining Diwali to young readers. The Diwali Gift does a wonderful job of holding reader’s attention and making Diwali fun!
About the Authors and 3 Curious Monkeys:3 Curious Monkeys is a California based start-up that was started by Indian moms Shuchi Mehta and Shweta Chopra. 3 Curious Monkeys creates interactive digital toys and books for kids and this company was born out of need and passion to bring the sights, sounds and vitality of multicultural and multi-hued India to children all over the world with fun characters that encourage them to see, hear and learn more!
3 Curious Monkey’s has a wonderful Dress Up Party app on iTunes
Playing dress up is always fun. But its even more fun dressing up your favorite monkey in traditional Indian fabrics and accessories while learning to compliment in eight different languages. (for ages 4-8). Download the App HERE.
Need more gift ideas? Books are always a great choice! NOW AVAILABLE!