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Results 26 - 50 of 144,337
26. Just To Prove I HAVE Done Work....GREEN SKIES In Progress...

I know, I know.  I said there was no publication date for The Green Skies and, so far, there is not. But "Lord 0 Lord I feel my temperature risin!" as Elvis once sang.  If you ask "Elvis who?" Go away now!!!

Anyways, calm down. Deeeeeeep breath.  Sigh.

Well, there are LOTS of books on the online lulu.com store -link to the right on Blog Roll.  These include parts 1 and 2 of the "Invasion Earth" trilogy -Return Of The Gods: Twilight Of The Super Heroes and The Cross-Earths Caper.

There was a point to this..oh yes!  You want to see how high 300 (unedited) pages of Green Skies is? These are A3 (A3 size pages measure 29.7 x 42.0cm, 11.69 x 16.53 inches) plastic folders -4 all together and I've just started putting art in folder no. 5!

See? Slow but getting there!

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27. YALSAblog Tweets of the Week - January 23, 2015

A short list of tweets from the past week of interest to teens and the library staff that work with them.

Do you have a favorite Tweet from the past week? If so add it in the comments for this post. Or, if you read a Twitter post between January 23 and January 29 that you think is a must for the next Tweets of the Week send a direct or @ message to lbraun2000 on Twitter.

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28. As I Have Been Asked....

A couple emails that I think are better answered here in brief.

From the 1990s until 2007 I did try to find publishers for my books in Europe -the Czech, Slovak republics, Lithuania, Latvia, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Bulgaria and so on. Sadly, most were not interested -a lot had no idea what I meant by comics -a double "??" here as the various trade sections of the respective embassies (I move in mysterious circles) had forwarded their details so...??

But if you know publishers in those countries tell them I'm here!

Oh, and the folk from India -yes, I tried India.  Boy, how I tried India but just got messed about.  Search for "Indian Comics" on this blog!

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29. Guest TeachingAuthor Interview and Book Giveaway with Sherry Shahan

I've enjoyed reading my fellow TeachingAuthor' posts on plotting and planning. That series ended with Esther's post on Monday. Today, I'm presenting a new topic: a guest TeachingAuthor interview and book giveaway! But first, I want to share some updates regarding our blog. The next few months will be a busy time for me due to a variety of personal and professional commitments. (If you live in the Chicago area and you're looking for a writing class, I hope you'll check out my class offerings, including one tomorrow on "Great Beginnings.") So, while I'll continue to work behind the scenes here, I'll be taking a blogging break. And I'm THRILLED to announce that the talented Carla Killough McClafferty will be blogging in my place. If you don't know Carla, do read her bio info on our About Us page. I hope you'll give her a hearty welcome when she makes her debut here three weeks from today.

Now, for today's guest TeachingAuthor interview, let me re-introduce you to Sherry Shahan, author of picture books, easy readers, and novels for middle grade and young adults. You may recall that Sherry contributed a terrific Wednesday Writing Workout back in July. I began that post by saying:

>>Sherry and I first met virtually, when she joined the New Year/New Novel (NYNN) Yahoo group I started back in 2009. I love the photo she sent for today's post--it personifies her willingness to do the tough research sometimes required for the stories she writes. As she says on her website, she has:

 "ridden on horseback into Africa’s Maasailand, hiked through a leech-infested rain forest in Australia, shivered inside a dogsled for the first part of the famed 1,049 mile Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race in Alaska, rode-the-foam on a long-board in Hawaii, and spun around dance floors in Havana, Cuba."   

Sherry's most recent young-adult novel, Skin and Bones (A. Whitman) required a different kind of research, as she shares in her interview below. According to Kirkus Reviews, she did her work well::
"Shahan tackles eating disorders in a fast-paced, contemporary coming-of-age novel. . . A quick read with a worthy message: We are all recovering from something, and the right companions can help you heal. The wrong ones can kill you."

The paperback edition of Skin and Bones will be released in March. Meanwhile, Sherry is generously contributing an autographed copy for a  TeachingAuthors' book giveaway. To enter, see the instructions at the end of this post. First, though, be sure to read the following interview:

Sherry, how did you become a TeachingAuthor?

In the 1980s I lived in a small town and didn’t know anyone who was a writer. I hadn’t even heard of SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators). I heard about a local Writers Conference and signed up. At the end of the workshop focusing on children’s books, I asked the instructor if she’d critique my middle-grade novel manuscript. She agreed. Soon thereafter she told me she’d shared it with her editor (a school book fair publisher). They bought that novel and I worked with them on five more.
Fast forward: After graduating from Vermont College of Fine Arts (MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults, 2007) I was brimming with enthusiasm about writing. My friends soon tired of discussions of emotional subtext, objective correlatives, polyphonic elements, etc. When I heard that UCLA was seeking teachers for online writing courses I sent the department chair my resumé. I’ve been teaching for them ever since.

What's a common problem that your students have and how do you address it?

It’s simply the overuse of passive verbs—and that’s across the board, no matter what the person’s writing experience. As an exercise, I post a short paragraph that’s riddled with ‘was,’ ‘seems to be,” ‘must have been,’ ‘would,’ ‘had,’ etc. I then ask them to reconstruct the paragraph using active verbs. Happily, writings submitted after the exercise shine with lively, active language.

Back in July you shared a terrific Wednesday Writing Workout with our readers and talked a bit about Skin and Bones. You mentioned then that the novel started out as a short story. What inspired that original story and how did you expand it to a novel?

I had a crazy idea about a love story from the perspective of a teen guy with anorexia, which I set in an Eating Disorders Unit of a hospital. The short story sold right away to a major literary journal. Later, a London publisher included it in their YA anthology, and after that it appeared in their Best of collection. So far the 1,400-word version of Skin and Bones has appeared eight times worldwide.

My agent kept encouraging me to expand the story into a novel. But I wasn’t ready to spend a year (or more) with young people in the throes of a life-threatening illness. I weighed the pros and cons.

* The short story would serve as an outline since the basic story arc was in place.
Each character already had a distinctive voice.
The hospital setting was firmly fixed in my mind.
The subject matter had proven itself to be of interest to readers.
Proven ground is attractive to editors and publishers, as long as the topic is approached in a fresh way.

* The story would require an additional 60,000 words.
I would have to create additional characters.
Every character would require a convincing backstory.
I would need compelling subplots.
Every scene would require richer subtext.

Well, the "Pros" obviously won out.J We don’t often hear or read of boys having anorexia. How did you go about researching this story? What kind of response has it received from readers and teachers?

My primary research was memoirs about teens with addictions. There were striking similarities between the mindset of say, someone with anorexia or bulimia, and a young person addicted to drugs. Shame and guilt effected both addictions. I wasn’t prepared for the skillful manner in which teens—males and females—manipulated friends, family, and the environment in order to keep their obsession secret.

I’ve been visiting high schools and libraries talking about Skin and Bones and the dangers of eating disorders. Many people have known a male with anorexia. According to N.A.M.E.D. (National Association of Males with Eating Disorders) approximately ten million males in the U.S. suffer with this disease. Sadly, there are too many heart-breaking examples on the Internet.

Do you have any suggestions for teachers on how they might use one of your books in the classroom?

My Alaskan-based adventure novel Ice Island (Random House/Yearling) is used as part of the “IDITA-Read” program, a fun reading race from Anchorage to Nome.

Read *1,049 minutes or pages appropriate to student’s reading level.

1.  Explain to the students that they will compete in their own Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race. Their race will be a reading race.
2.  Each student draws a musher from entries on the Iditarod website (which includes trail maps, mushers’ diaries, etc.). Students try to read faster (pages or minutes) than the distance their musher travels on the trail.
3.  Teachers track each student’s progress on a large map of Alaska by daily visits to the Iditarod website.
4.  Students select their books before the “vet check.” (Dogs are checked before the race to make sure they’re healthy.)  Teachers decide if students’ books are “healthy” (grade/ability level).
5.  As students read their way to each checkpoint, they are responsible for logging in their time and having it checked by a race marshal (teacher or librarian).
6.  Provide prizes or special recognition for those who compete in the reading race.

1.  Large map of Alaska with Iditarod Trail & checkpoints clearly marked.
2.  Legend listing distances between checkpoints.
3.  Name pins/tags to mark students’ reading progress on the trail.
4.  Sleds or dogs (felt or construction paper) to mark progress of mushers.
5.  Iditarod “Reading Log” for each student.
6.  Lots of books!

1.  Encourage recreational reading.
2.  Develop an interest in history and geography of Alaska.
3.  Encourage completion of a project.

Wow, what a fun activity! I hope some of our blog followers who are teachers will give it a try and report back to us. Finally, Sherry, what are you working on now?

I’ve just finished a very rough draft of a YA novel that explores the emotional and psychological trauma of abduction. My protagonist is a sixteen year-old girl who’s kidnapped on her way to meet her boyfriend. The kidnapper isn’t someone the readers will suspect.

Sounds like a real thriller, Sherry. Good luck researching that one! And thanks again for today's interview.
Readers, here's your opportunity to enter for a chance to win an autographed copy of Skin and Bones (A. Whitman). Use the Rafflecopter widget below to enter via 1, 2, or all 3 options specified. If you choose the "comment" option, share a comment to TODAY'S blog post answering this question: 
What will you do with the book should you win: save it for yourself or give it away?

If your name isn't part of your comment "identity," please include it in your comment for verification purposes. Comments may also be submitted via email to: teachingauthors [at] gmail [dot] com

If the widget doesn't appear for some reason (or you're an email subscriber), use the link below to take you to the entry form.

The giveaway ends on Feb. 6. 
After you've entered, don't forget to check today's Poetry Friday roundup over at A Teaching Life.
Good luck and happy writing!

P.S. If you've never entered a Rafflecopter giveaway, here's info on how to enter a Rafflecopter giveaway and the difference between signing in with Facebook vs. with an email address. Email subscribers: if you received this post via email, you can click on the Rafflecopter link at the end of this message to access the entry form.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

0 Comments on Guest TeachingAuthor Interview and Book Giveaway with Sherry Shahan as of 1/23/2015 10:07:00 AM
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30. Book Beginnings - 1/23/15

*Please join Rose City Reader every Friday to share the first sentence (or so) of the book you are reading, along with your initial thoughts about the sentence, impressions of the book, or anything else the opener inspires. Please remember to include the title of the book and the author's name.  *Taken directly from Rose City Reader's Blog Page.

This week's book beginnings comes from DOCTOR DEATH  by Lene Kaaberol.

"It is snowing.  The snow falls on the young girl's face, on her cheeks, mouth, and nose, and on her eyes.  She does not blink it away.  She lies very still in her nest of snow, slightly curled up, with a fur coat covering her like a quilt."

The writing is beautiful.  The storyline is good, but there is something that seems slow.  Not sure what. 

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31. irunfrombears: An Iceberg Flipped Over, and Its Underside Is...


An Iceberg Flipped Over, and Its Underside Is Breathtaking

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32. Puppy's Big Day

Nick Bruel is back with another book in the Bad Kitty series. This time, though, the story doesn't feature our favorite ferocious feline. It's Puppy's turn to shine in the spotlight.

Kitty is having a bad, bad day and no one in the household knows why. Uncle Murray comes over to save Puppy from Kitty's wrath and the two go off for a walk in the park. If only things were that simple. Uncle Murray runs afoul of the law (no leash, no poop bags, no dog tags) and then, horrors, Puppy and Petunia, a bulldog friend, run off and end up in the pound. There Puppy meets two other strays, Gramps, an elderly lhasa apso, and Hercules, a hyper chihuahua (are there any other kind?). Luckily, Uncle Murray comes to Puppy's rescue and adopts the other dogs. And what was causing Kitty's bad mood? Puppy provides the answer.

As in the previous books, the story is interspersed with info spreads, this one narrated by Bad Kitty herself. Readers will discover why dogs need to be walked, why they sniff butts, and why they lick faces. (I didn't know the answer to the last one.)

All in all Puppy's Big Day provides readers with the series' usual combination of mayhem and mirth. A must-read for all Big Kitty and Puppy fans!

Puppy's Big Day
by Nick Bruel
Neal Porter, 160 pages
Published: January 2015

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33. MLK Day of Service: TAB Edition!

yay TAB!

Sofia, Kealin, Nona, Hannah, Leah and Calista making Valentines for veterans.

On Monday, January 19, the United States honored Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  Legislation was passed in 1983 to commemorate King’s birthday and his legacy, turning the 3rd Monday of January into a federal holiday.  This holiday is to be observed as a national day of service-- “A day on, not a day off.”  According to the government’s site on the MLK Day of Service:

“[The day] calls for Americans from all walks of life to work together to provide solutions to our most pressing national problems. The MLK Day of Service empowers individuals, strengthens communities, bridges barriers, creates solutions to social problems, and moves us closer to Dr. King's vision of a ‘Beloved Community.’”

When I kicked off my teen advisory board meetings for this school year, one of the first items I brought to our group was my desire to have the TAB participate in at least one service project.  We brainstormed through a few of our monthly meetings, and in November I introduced the MLK Day of Service as an option.  Our local volunteer hub, Volunteer Connect, facilitates service opportunities on this day; everything from light building projects to park cleanup, creating floral arrangements for hospice patients to sewing up dog beds for the pets of the homeless.  I presented the variety of options, with the biggest caveat: donating your time on a day off from school.  Would the group be willing to do that?

Our conversations about service projects had been so positive up to this point that it shouldn’t have been surprising that each TAB member quickly affirmed they’d be more than willing to use their morning to help others.  From there we explored the Volunteer Connect projects that would accept a group our size, and after a bit of surveying I signed us up to help a Campfire group create Valentine’s for veterans.

We met at a local church, the home of the Campfire group we’d be working with.  The room was filled with all ages, and bounteous amounts of craft supplies.  Campfire had invited a local veteran to come by and give a brief presentation and answer questions from the participants about life as both an active member of the military and as a veteran.  His details included the feelings of loneliness and isolation that can often accompany military service, and the value of receiving even the smallest token or letter in the mail.  I think this really connected with the audience, as we dove into our card creation with great intent.  Within an hour and a half our group had created dozens of Valentine’s.  “I love the idea of a veteran, who seems really tough, opening an envelope filled with glitter and hearts,” said one of my TAB members.  “I haven’t had time to just sit and make something in a really long time,” said another.

At the end of the event we helped clean up and everyone smiled as they left for the rest of their day.  This was such a great way to connect with local organizations and participate in a service project that had essentially been all set up for us—all we had to do was show up.  I definitely recommend looking into MLK Day of Service options in your local community, they’d be happy to have you and your teens!

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34. YALSA Board @ Midwinter Preview: Budget Priorities

I know I know for some, maybe many, YALSA members learning about the YALSA budget and the fiscal priorities of the Association seems like incredibly dry stuff. But, in order for YALSA to provide members with the services they need in order to work with teens successfully, the YALSA Board and the Association's members have to think what monies are spent on, and where funding is coming from. That's why there are three documents on the YALSA Board Midwinter Meeting agenda that are important to look at:

  • Item 17 on the agenda is titled Prioritizing Endowment Funds. The document explains the current state of YALSA's endowments and includes recommendations of how the funds generated from the endowments should be spent over the next year. Take a look to find out what initiatives the Board is going to look at funding in this way - maybe you'll find there is a grant coming up that you'd like to apply for if these funds are used as suggested. This agenda item is an action item which means that the YALSA Board needs to make decisions at the 2015 Midwinter Meeting in order move the process forward.
  • Item 21 on the agenda is titled 2016 Budget Priorities. This document provides an overview of the steps the YALSA Board needs to accomplish at the 2015 Midwinter Meeting in order to be fiscally responsible about planning for the 2016 budget, an overview of the ALA/YALSA budget process, and a review of some of the priorities the YALSA Board might set for 2016. This year the Board will work in small groups - organized within YALSA's Board Standing Committees - and brainstorm the ways in which the Association's dollars should be spent in order to reach specific goals of the organization. This agenda item is a discussion item which means that the YALSA Board will talk about the topic and will continue to talk about the topic but it is not something that needs to be acted on at this year's meetings.
  • Item 27 on the agenda is titled FY '14 Final Close Figures and Implications for FY '15. This document gives everyone the chance to see how YALSA's budget was spent in 2014 and trends in revenue streams over the past eight years. This data raises a lot of important questions for the Association and those are also included in the document. This agenda item is an informational item for YALSA Board members to read and know but it will not be acted upon or discussed specifically at the Midwinter Meeting.

It's important for the YALSA Board to think strategically about YALSA's budget and funding priorities. It's important for YALSA Board members to keep at the front of their minds the capacity - human and fiscal - of YALSA to move things forward in order to engage and support members successfully. It's important for members to understand how the YALSA Board makes decisions about the Association's budget. Take some time to look over the fiscal information that is a part of this year's YALSA Board member meetings and if you have any questions, feel free to get in touch with me. As YALSA's Fiscal Officer I'd be happy to talk with you.

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35. Arrow and The Flash: "Super Starts Here" Promo (HD)

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36. Why I’ve Stopped Tweeting #AmWriting

by Adam Silvera

AdamHAPPYFACELIFE REMINDER: The writing routines that work for me may not work for you. If you’re a morning writer, I want to be you so badly it’s reminding me of that time as a kid where I wanted to be Mary Poppins and would jump off the living room couch in my mother’s heels and a toy umbrella. (Yes, there are pictures of this. No, you can’t see them.) But the only time I’m ever awake at 6AM is when I’m finally shutting down my laptop for the night. (Read: When I’m falling asleep to episodes of my latest Hulu/Netflix binge after writing from 9:00PM to 5:00 AM.) There are too many distractions we all experience during the day like pets, an episode of The 100, children, another episode of The 100, etc. But the greatest distraction for probably any writer is Twitter, which can turn that little adorable blue bird into your greatest enemy.

When I was drafting my book for the first time, I was a big fan of the #amwriting hashtag. It was a great way to announce to friends (and even agents) that I was actively working on a project. But here’s what proved to be my downfall of tweeting about writing: it would prevent me from actually writing.

When you tweet, people sometimes respond, which is the beauty of Twitter – the conversation factor. But when I tweeted out #amwriting, I was supposed to be talking about writing my manuscript, not tweets. My suggestion? Tweet AFTER you’re done with a writing session, not before. Your friends love celebrating your accomplishments, whether you hit 20,000 words on your latest manuscript, or even wrote 400 words that day. All levels of productivity all great! And you should absolutely turn to your friends if you’re having a brutal writing day, obviously, but be honest with yourself about how badly you need the moral support because your writing time is so limited and sacred as it is you’re potentially doing you and your manuscript a disservice engaging in a conversation about last night’s episode of The 100. I know, I know, it’s so good! But go write!

To sum up: 
1) Writing comes first.
2) Social media comes second.
3) Jumping off the couch in your mom’s high heels is dangerous.
4) The 100 is addictive.

Adam was born and raised in New York and is tall for no reason. In the past he worked as a marketing assistant for a literary development company. He’s currently a children’s bookseller and reviews children’s and young adult novels for Shelf Awareness. His debut novel, More Happy Than Not, about a boy who wants to undergo a memory-alteration procedure to forget he’s gay, will be coming out on June 16th, 2015 from Soho Teen. Go say stuff to him on Twitter.

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37. The One I Love

I wrote some half dozen full-length film reviews in 2014, and looking back, almost every one of them revolves around the theme of how difficult it is to find genuinely intelligent, thoughtful SF movies.  "Intelligent," in this context, means a willingness to engage with the SFnal tropes that drive a story, to explore their implications on the film's characters or even its world, instead of

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38. I think safe touch is so important for children and teens in school

I think safe touch is SO important. I desperately needed it as a child and teen in school from a few kind teachers who saw my pain; it was the only place I got safe touch. I’m honored to be quoted in Jessica Lahey’s article “Should Teachers Be Allowed To Touch Students?” in The Atlantic. I hope you’ll give the article a read. (smiling) I think it’s a thoughtful, insightful article.

As an incest and torture survivor who was also bullied at school, I had no safe place–not at home, and not at school. I rarely saw kindness or compassion; most of what I did see I got from books. But I had two really kind, compassionate high-school teachers who knew I’d been abused, and one librarian in middle school who was also kind. All of them were women, because I was scared of men because of all the rape I’d been through–and all of them gave me safe touch. It’s part of what kept me from killing myself.

I desperately craved safe touch. I was starved for it on a deep soul level. At home and in the abuse and torture I endured–my parents were part of cults, and they also rented me out to men for money and “shared” me with their friends–I was never touched except for abuse, rape, torture. So to get it from these teachers in a safe way–a touch on the arm, a rub on my head, a hug–it met such a deep need I had to be treated with kindness and love and warmth and humanity, and it helped offset some of the abuse and torture and cruelty. It helped me feel like I mattered, like I didn’t deserve to be abused, like maybe someone cared about me a little bit. It helped me believe in people, that they could be kind, and that maybe, just maybe the abuse and torture I experienced every day and night wasn’t my fault. But it did more than that. Their touch–and their listening to me about some of the abuse and/or my pain–also helped me want to be here a bit more when all I could breathe and feel was pain, depression, despair, and bleakness.

I struggled a lot with wanting to die all of my life. Books helped me to be here–they gave me an escape–and I also used self-harm to cope with the pain and memories, and often cut instead of killing myself. And I also needed dissociation to survive the torture and keep me alive. But that safe touch I got? It was like a balm to my soul. It was healing, instead of causing harm like everything I had at home. It was affection when I had none. Sometimes it helped bring me out of triggered abuse memories. It told me my parents and other abusers were wrong to treat me the way they did, even though I couldn’t really believe that. And I just *needed* safe touch on a deep level.

I think as humans we need safe touch; I think it’s a basic human need, along with food, shelter, and safety. It lets us know we’re loved. (I know there’ve been studies, for instance, on babies not thriving when they don’t get touch.) And those teachers who used safe touch with me, and were compassionate and kind, helped create pockets of safety for me where for a few hours I could actually focus on something besides the terror I lived in–I could learn and love to learn and want to learn for them (and me). I could breathe a little easier. I could hope for safety some day. When I hear people saying that children shouldn’t be touched in school situations, it makes me sad, and it worries me. If a child doesn’t have any safe touch in their lives, it’s easy to get really disconnected from people and life, and to not want to live at all. I needed that safe touch desperately, just as I needed to be heard about the abuse and to (eventually) get safe. A kind, compassionate teacher may be the only safety and caring a child or teen has in their life.

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39. YALSA Board Agenda for Midwinter 2015

ALA Midwinter is just next week, and I am looking forward to seeing my colleagues, talking with YALSA members, check out the best of YA Literature and non-fiction at the Morris / Non-fiction reception, and more. Check out the YALSA Wiki for dates and times of all YALSA events if you'll be attending Midwinter. If you won’t be in Chicago, follow Midwinter activities with the Midwinter hashtag, #alamw15.

The YALSA board will start off Midwinter with a strategic planning session. Board members, using an outcomes based approach, will explore the results of YALSA’s member survey, the Futures report, and YALSA’s current strategic plan, with an eye on capacity and the long term vision for YALSA. The goal with this is to develop a focused and responsive strategic plan which will help YALSA meet the needs of members and advance teen services in libraries across the country.

While the planning discussion will take up the whole Board Agenda on Saturday, there are still other topics that the board will be discussing. Those topics include:

Check out the board agenda and documents online to get the details of what the board will be discussing. You can also read the accompanying blog posts on the YALSA Blog.  If you have a comment, the first 5 minutes of each of the board meetings is set aside for visitors to ask questions. You can also send me an e-mail with comments if you are not able to make it to a session to share your feedback. Feel free to follow Executive Director Beth Yoke (@yalsa_director), myself (@doseofsnark), and/or other YALSA boardies for live tweets of adopted actions and discussion highlights. We'll also be sharing post conference round-ups over the coming weeks so stay tuned.

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40. Tomas Loves...a rhyming book about fun, friendship-and autism - a bookwrap

Unwrapping ...

Authored by Jude Welton and illustrated by Jane Telford.

Inside the wrapping ...

This informative, important book, written by Jude Welton and illustrated by Jane Telford, for ages 2+, is one that everyone should read.

Written in rhyme it documents a loving family and how they cope with autism in their special little boy.  They understand that he is different from other little guys and they make beautiful provisions for those differences.  Together, mom and Tomas map out his day so he won't be scared or worried about what is to come.  Both she and his dad read to him in a quiet, gentle manner to sooth the assault from the world around him through bustling crowds, loud noises and improper foods that he could ingest to make his tummy sore.  They guide his day for success with proper toys (he especially loves his train that goes round and round, and playing with tiny wee toys, and his trampoline time that brings him to  giggles).  They create a calm atmosphere so he can be more relaxed and know in his heart, that no matter what comes his way he is loved, safe and precious to them. If there is any deviation from the plan, which may cause stress or upset, they immediately inform Tomas so he won't start flapping.

His faithful companion Flynn, his best friend in a doggie body, is always there for him to comfort and give him constant love and interaction.  Tomas is surrounded by positive, intentional care which greatly benefits the quality of his life and puts a smile on both his face and his parents'.

The illustrations add so much to the storyline.  Some are playful, some are serious, but all give you a perfect visual of a day in the life of Tomas, a little boy who is different, but "loves fun and friendship - just like you!"

  1. Jude Welton has a 9-year-old son with AS. Originally trained as a child psychologist specializing in autism, she is a freelance writer, writing mainly on the arts. She recently started writing about and for children with AS.

Things to ponder...

Read on and read always!

It's a wrap.

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41. The Importance of Being Involved

About three years ago, I did what would probably be considered the craziest thing for a first semester (heck, first month) MLS/MIS student could do, I filled out a volunteer form for ALSC, and I never looked back.

Since joining and volunteering in ALSC, I’ve made some wonderful connections and started to develop a better understanding of what my professional interests are. One of the very first people I met was Starr Latronica, who was then President of ALSC (hi Starr!). It was nice to meet someone was genuinely interested in what my passions were and could provide insight into the library world. Since I first met Starr, she’s provided me guidance when I’ve been struggling with concerns, and when I picked up my life and moved, she helped me find someone in the area who might be able to provide some insight. I’ve also met people like Linda Perkins who I instantly bonded with over baseball, and Sam Bloom. Sam sent me a postcard welcoming me to ALSC, and then I realized that we not only shared a school (Go Hoosiers!) but a library. Sam is currently the Children’s Librarian at the Blue Ash branch of the Public Library of Cincinnati & Hamilton- the same branch I learned to read in! ALSC has led me to people like Dan Bostrom – if you don’t know Dan, you should introduce yourself to him at a conference. Aside from giving me insight into membership things (that is after all his job), he’s provided me with encouragement and advice for how to navigate the library world.

But like I said, ALSC has done more than just introduce me to people. It’s piqued my interest in Intellectual Freedom, Technology, and Multicultural Children’s Literature. It has provided me with ways to become involved in these fields through introduction to groups such as Little eLit, and roundtables like EMIERT and GLBTRT.

Over the past few years, I have served on the Intellectual Freedom Committee, the Stonewall Book Award Committee, and been the GLBTRT-ALSC liaison. I have also unsuccessfully tried my own hand at chairing a task force. I would not have been able to explore these opportunities- or have the courage to walk away from the ones that I have- if it were not for ALSC.

So, I encourage you. After you read this post, follow this link to read about how you can get involved in ALSC, on a level that feels right to you. I promise, you won’t regret it.


Our guest blogger today is Alyson Feldman-Piltch.  Alyson lives in Brookline, MA. She is almost done with her MLS/MIS program and will graduate from Indiana University at Bloomington in May 2015. She is a member of the ALSC Intellectual Freedom Committee and the 2015 Stonewall Book Award Committee, as well as the GLBTRT-ALSC liaison.

When she isn’t reading, doing homework, blogging, or sleeping, Alyson can usually be found at Fenway Park or a midnight movie showing at the Coolidge Corner Theatre. She can be reached at alyson.fp@gmail.com and can be found on Twitter by following @aly_fp.

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

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

The post The Importance of Being Involved appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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42. Love to Time Travel? Sophia’s Journal Book Review

We are just a few short days away from our second Multicultural Children’s Book Day. I’ve been matched with one of our Platinum Sponsors Daybreak Press and Global Bookstore and a really cleverly written book called Sophia’s Journey by Najiyah Diana Maxfield.

Daybreak Press

This book is for middle school and above readers.


Sophia’s Journal does a very fine job of weaving. Yes weaving. It takes a 21st century muslim teenager, Sophia, who has a bad fall in a river. This dramatic tumble sends her back to the year 1857 and all that means. This beautifully written book looks at the ideas of race, religion, and bigotry from a multi century view. It gives us a front row seat and a glimpse into pivotal moments in American history as well as what it’s like to be a practicing muslim in the 21st century.

Sophia has to get use to new food and some times the lack of food, new entertainment such as knitting, and a new family. Sophia gets a first hand view at slavery and Native Americans from the year 1857.  The characters in the story are well developed and the sense of adventure and self discovery are greatly inspiring.

One of the things that really struck me as I read this book is that it dispels the “over there” mentally that we can so easily become a participant in. For example: “Muslims are those people over there,…….” Often times being viewed as the enemy. This myth is dispelled as author Najiyah Diana Maxfield intersperses the daily rhythms and gentle practices of the world’s muslims into this thoughtful coming of age tale. This is later reflected when the slave William is also a muslim from Africa.

Often times we look at things from the past as truly history. In Sophia’s Journal we deal first hand with the ideas of slavery, slave owners and the abolition movement as well as the poor view and treatment of Native Americans, there is even a mention or two of the suffragette movement. We could so easily say, that happened then and doesn’t concern us now. Not so. These topics are still very much alive today and currently continue to unfold.

I greatly admire this book and recommend it. First because is gives a positive light to both teenagers and muslims. Secondly because it is a well written story that is so captivating that I couldn’t put it down.

 Something To Do

In the back of Sophia’s Journal are a couple of wonderful recipes as well as two glossaries. One for the 1850’s and the other of Arabic terms commonly used by Muslims around the world.

I our something to do we are going to create a Time Traveler’s Journal where we will write notes about our explorations into 1850’s Kansas as well as Islam.

Take a blank sheet journal, pens, photos that you have printed off the computer and some glue and create a beautiful Common Book Journal about your journey into the world of Sophia.

A Look into Slavery


Slavery in America began in 1607 and continued until 1865. These links tell you more about this controversial but, for a long time, legal practice.

Here are some great book resources as well.

A Look at the Native Americans of Kansas


Kansas, a word readily recognizable as derived from the Native American tribal name Kansa, or “Wind People,” is a state possessing a rich Native American heritage.

The land we now call Kansas had been home to many Native American tribes. The Arapaho, Cheyenne, Comanche, Kansa, Kiowa, Osage, Pawnee, and Wichita are tribes that are considered native to present day Kansas.

To learn more about the traditions of the Kansas Plains Native Americans I find Big Orrin’s website to have many facts geared towards children.

To learn more about these tribes and the history of the region please have a look here.



A Look into Prairie Life in Kansas


Here’s a good look at life on the Kansas prairie in 1850.

Want to know more about Sod Houses and how to build them have a look here.

A fun reading history book list about the prairies.

A Look at Islam

Islam is a world religion practiced by 1.7 billion people.  PBS has put together this fact sheet about muslims and the religion of Islam and here’s another look from CNN.



Another way to meet your world is through literature. Multicultural Children’s Books Day is such a celebration which has created a vast resource of multicultural books and authors on our website.

Multicultural Children Book Resources

My Gift to YOU!

Don’t forget to grab your FREE copy of my Read Your World Multicultural Booklists and Activities for Kids.

Read Your World Multicultural Booklist and Activities for Kids

The post Love to Time Travel? Sophia’s Journal Book Review appeared first on Jump Into A Book.

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43. A Literary Appreciation of Dragons 2015 – Part 3 of 4

Another Friday in January, another post in the Third Annual Bugs and Bunnies Literary Appreciation of Dragons series. (Not sure what this is? Click on the link in the previous sentence, and that will get you up to speed quite nicely. Then come back here to continue the book-ish dragon fun.)

Drawing courtesy of Chez Wheedleton's resident Dragon Expert: Lovely Girl

Back now? Great! Let's get to it:

If you've been here for the last two posts, you'll recall that we've added a new component to this year's festivities: Themes! And if you're new to Bugs and Bunnies? Well, now you know. The theme thing is new.

So far, we've had fun with two themes:

Dragon Fact, Dragon Fable – with dragon books that are informational in nature


Chinese Dragon Tales – with dragon books rooted in Chinese culture, with Chinese dragons

For this week, we present:

Other Dragon Tales

These dragon stories involve a variety of world cultures - Egyptian, Viking, English, and one that's unspecified but seems American. Enjoy!

The Dragon and the Thief
Written by Gillian Bradshaw
Ages 9 and up

Prahotep was born backward, with his eyes wide open. The people of his small Egyptian village took that to mean he was frowned upon by the gods. And it seemed to be so, for this son of a fisherman was no good at fishing. 

When one day a crocodile attacks Prahotep's father, his dying wish is for Prahotep to leave his small village near the Nile river, and try to find something he is good at. So Prahotep travels to Thebes. But his attempts at learning new trades there goes no better, and he finds himself labeled with a new name: Bad Luck. Finally, there is only one trade left for him to attempt – theft. When even that doesn't go well, he begins to think the gods really do frown on him. 

And then, Prahotep stumbles into the cave of Hathor, the last of what was believed to be an extinct line of dragons. Her discovery by others will mean her death. Could this be the destiny Prahotep has sought for so long? Could he be the one who can save the last Egyptian dragon?

Dragon Stew
Written by Steve Smallman
Illustrations by Lee Wildish
Ages 5 and up

Five bored Vikings are looking for an adventure. But they don't want to do the same old things. Battle? Nothing new. Shark fishing? Nope. Wresting a bear...in their underwear? Been there, done that!

And then, Loggi Longsocks comes up with one last idea: Catch a dragon, and make a dragon stew! To that, the other Vikings say, "Now, that's something new!" And the adventure begins...

The Reluctant Dragon
Written by Kenneth Grahame
Illustrated by Ernest H. Shepard
Ages 7 - and up

Long ago, there lived a shepherd, his wife, and their small son. One day, the father came across a dragon living in a cave outside the village, and he was beside himself with fear. But the boy, who read lots and lots of books and knew about these things, was less upset. "It's all right, father. Don't you worry. It's only a dragon."

And then, the boy befriended the dragon, and soon convinced his parents the situation was not as dire as all that. The dragon was rather cultured and quite mild-mannered. But when word spread, as word is wont to do, the villagers were not so serene. And they sent for St. George, slayer of dragons. 

The boy sees only one way to save his friend. And it involves convincing the whole town – and a dragon slayer  – to not slay a dragon. But, how?

The Best Pet of All
Written by David LaRochelle
Illustrated by Hanako Wakiyama
Ages 3 - 5

This is the story of a boy who wants a dog for a pet. But each time he asks his mom for a dog, she refuses.

Then one day, the boy decides to ask for something new. He asks for a dragon for a pet. And this time, his mom says, "If you can find a dragon, you can keep it for a pet." 

So he finds a dragon. But a dragon does not make a good pet. And when the boy's mom tells the dragon to leave, it refuses.

The boy has an idea how to get the dragon out of the house, though. And it involves a dog...

* * *

And that's that for this week. We hope you enjoyed Part 3 of 4 of the Third Annual Bugs and Bunnies Literary Appreciation of Dragons. Please join us again next Friday, for Part 4 of 4, when we present dragon books that will satisfy those who like to do more than just read about dragons...

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44. What I’m Doing at Kirkus This Week,Plus What I Did Last Week,Featuring E. B. Lewis and Benny Andrews

“It’s a peaceful spring and summer in Huntsville in 1963, but not elsewhere in Alabama. More than a thousand black children gather for a nonviolent protest in a Birmingham park. They are met with gushing fire hoses and snarling dogs. …
Two hundred thousand people march for freedom in Washington,D.C.
Dr. King gives a speech, echoing the dream that black children and
white children will join hands in peace. It’s on television, nationwide.”
– From Hester Bass’
Seeds of Freedom, illustrated by E. B. Lewis
(Click to enlarge)


“When Benny’s military service was over, the government offered to pay his college tuition. He moved to Chicago to attend art school. It was the biggest city he had ever seen, full of many different kinds of people, towering buildings, and—best of all—museums. Benny could spend an entire day looking at art if he wanted.
He’d never felt so free.”
– From Kathleen Benson’s
Draw What You See,
illustrated with paintings by Benny Andrews
(Click to enlarge and see full text)


This morning over at Kirkus, I’ve got some good, new picture books for very young readers. That link will be here soon.

* * *

Last week I wrote here about Hester Bass’ Seeds of Freedom: The Peaceful Integration of Huntsville, Alabama (Candlewick, January 2015), illustrated by E. B. Lewis, as well as Kathleen Benson’s Draw What You See: The Life and Art of Benny Andrews (Clarion, January 2015), which is illustrated with some of Andrews’ paintings. Today, I’m following up with a bit of art from each book.



From Seeds of Freedom:


“A girl carries paper pictures of her feet because she won’t be allowed to try on shoes. A boy wants to read but cannot use the public library. And a family tries to eat in a restaurant, but the owner locks the door in their faces. …”
(Click to enlarge and see full text)



From Draw What You See:


“Benny was inspired by the people around him, and people were what he wanted to draw. He especially liked making paintings of the jazz musicians
in the city’s many clubs and cafés. …”
(Click to enlarge)


“After art school, Benny moved to New York City and became a working artist.
He had so many stories to tell. …”
(Click to enlarg)


* * * * * * *

DRAW WHAT YOU SEE: THE LIFE AND ART OF BENNY ANDREWS. Text copyright © 2015 by Kathleen Benson. Art copyright © The Estate of Benny Andrews/Licensed by VAGA, New York, New York. Illustrations reproduced by permission of the publisher, Clarion Books, Boston.

SEEDS OF FREEDOM. Text copyright © 2015 by Hester Bass. Illustrations copyright © 2015 by E. B. Lewis. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Candlewick Press, Somerville, MA.

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45. Hallelujah – Puddles Pity Party at the SF Regency Lodge Ballroom

Puddles is just ***** brilliant.  Listen to HIS version!!

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46. The Cursive Crisis

National Handwriting Day


Ah! A subject and day so dear to the heart of a former English teacher has come. Where to begin? We are in a crisis my friends. Yes, I call it the “cursive crisis!” And it is born of the indifference to the teaching of what you may refer to as Palmer Method, longhand or cursive writing. Yes, we are raising a nation of PRINTERS that do not know how to form letters cursively.

The arguments against are many, and for me, meaningless.The same arguments have been put forward for the teaching of spelling. We have SpellCheck, right?

Children use computers today. Does Spell Check know the difference in context of “hair” and “hare” when your child is writing an essay? No, It will blithely allow your child to write the following, “ I brushed my hare before I came to school.” And no, this child does not own a rabbit! The computer will care not a wit, but the teacher will, and should!

Think about it. If our children can not write cursively, how do they READ cursive writing. Example: A treasure trove of great grandma’s, or even grandma’s letters to her children are discovered in the attic. How will the current crop of students be able to decipher these treasures? Might as well be written in hieroglyphics. In addition, how do they sign their names to official documents in the future? It might seem laughable, if it were not so serious a deficit in their learning process.

Cursive writing, I believe, may hard wire the brain in certain ways with its attention to detail in its concentration on the formation of letters. Did you know that there are now medical schools across this country that have commenced REQUIRING cursive writing classes as part of their curricula?

Perhaps the heads of these schools realize in the teaching of cursive, there is more being taught to future doctors than just the formation of letters. It has long been a private joke in our culture about doctor’s penmanship in general.

Whew! Feel a lot better now!

Seriously though, if you as a parent are concerned about your student having the sole ability to PRINT their letters, and hear that in the age of the computer, cursive should be a cast off, please show them this blog! You can make a difference in their learning or not learning cursive.

Future generations of readers and writers will thank you.

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47. Tuck Everlasting 40th: What If You Could Live Forever

Tuck Everlasting was a book I missed out on reading until I was teaching fourth grade a few years after college.  I adored the book and had several amazing conversations with my students.  Almost without fail they would tell you they would drink from the spring.  I guess when you are 10 and 11 forever doesn't seem like anything at all.  Back then I knew I wouldn't want to drink from the spring, but I thought about it longer.

Then I became a parent.

I would never want to outlive my children.  Never.  And there is a part of me that thinks I wouldn't want them to drink from the spring either.  I have loved growing and maturing and getting older and I want that for my children.  I want them to experience the full circle of life, because I have loved most every stage of my life.

The things that the Tucks had to do to avoid suspicion, like separating for years at a time, makes me sad.  But then again, living together for eternity probably wouldn't be good either--can you imagine how on each others' nerves you'd be?

Now that I am older and have lived, I truly cannot see an upside to living forever.

What about you?  If you had the chance, would you want to live forever?  Would you drink from the spring?

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48. Online Presence

What are editors and agents looking for when they research you online?


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49. Look at my blogging buddies...

While I blog MY "blogging buddies" curl up on their "magic carpet' and wait patiently (and sometimes not so patiently) until I finish.  Abby Rose, my Maltese, is the white one and baby of the flock, in the centre is Eden, a long-haired Dachshund and to finish the sleeping conga line is, Moses, a Pomeranian.  Elijah, a little, (well not so little...we call him the sweet porky yorkie), Yorkshire Terrier is upstairs snoring away and absent from this particular photo.

There's a pic of Elijah.  He has lots of physical probs as he is going on 12 years old and is the alpha male of the group (although Abby gives him a run for his money).  

Just thought you might like to see my "buddies" as I blog along each day.  Have an amazing one.  

Wrapping up now.... Marilyn :)

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50. Ghosts of War: The Secret of Midway by Steve Watkins

When Anderson, 12, and his friend Greg decided to start a band, they were given permission to practice in a basement room at his Uncle Dex's junkshop, provided they clear it out themselves.  Alone in the room, Anderson notices an old military trunk with a strange glow to it.  He finds an old Navy peacoat in it that he decides to keep.  Inside the coat pocket, is an old letter and when he pulls it out, he hears a voice saying "that's mine."

Later that night, the voice materializes in Anderson's bedroom.  It belongs to a young World War II sailor who doesn't seem to remember who he is or what happened to him and has been living in a kind of limbo since the war. Anderson is understandably freaked.

The next day, while discussing with Greg the possibility of adding keyboard player Julie Kobayashi to the band, Anderson's ghost appears in the cafeteria.  And it seems that Greg and Julie can both see him.  Pretty soon, the trio decides to help their ghost find out about himself.  Anderson tracks down the recipient of the old letter he found in the peacoat.  It turns out to be an old girlfriend, Betty Corbett,  who tells them their ghost is named William Foxwell, that he went missing in action on a ship in the Pacific Ocean and presumed dead.  Later, she married William's friend and they named their son after him.

One helpful clue about William is the mention of the Battle of the Coral Sea in his letter.  Anderson and his Uncle Dex both are history buffs, and Uncle Dex knows all about this battle.  Little by little, Anderson, Greg and Julie begin to piece together that particulars of William's life in the Navy, and as they do, William begins to remember things as well.

All of this is taking time and it seems that William is having a harder and harder time materializing and is, in fact, beginning to fade away again.  Then, matters get more complicated when a Japanese sailor who has been keeping a secret about William and the Battle of Midway for 70 years refuses to tell them what really happened.

Will Anderson, Greg and Julie be able to solve the mystery surrounding William's death in time for him to find eternal peace?

Ghosts of War: The Secret of Midway is a short but exciting mystery, one that will definitely appeal to boys as well as girls.  The mystery is historically based, so there is lots of information about the two battles mentioned and what being caught in the middle of war is really like.  But we also see how the war impacted everyone, including those like Betty Corbett on the home front.

Besides William's story, we also learn about Anderson and Greg's life, but not so much about Julie's yet.  Anderson's mother suffers from Multiple Sclerosis and is often in pain and tired.  His dad works long hours and Anderson frequently comes home and makes his mom some dinner.  Greg's dad is a binge alcoholic with a short temper.  When things get bad, Greg sneaks out of the house and stays with Anderson.

And, of course, because they are sixth-graders in a junior high school, there are bullies to contend with. All of this makes for a well rounded story and gives depth to the characters, who, I assume, we will get to know better and better.  Ghosts of War: The Secret of Midway is the first in a series of books, and yes, you guessed it, they all begin with the mysterious glowing military trunk.

This is a great book for kids who like history, especially military history, but even if history isn't their thing, it's still an exciting read.

This book is recommended for readers age 9+
This book was sent to me by the publisher, Scholastic

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