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You are viewing the most recent posts from blogs in the Writer category in the JacketFlap blog reader. These posts are sorted by date, with the most recent posts at the top of the page. There are hundreds of new posts here every day on a variety of topics related to children's publishing. Scroll down through the list of Recent Posts in the left column and click on a post title that sounds interesting. Click a tag in the right column to view posts about that topic. You can view all posts from a specific blog by clicking the Blog name in the right column, or you can click a 'More Posts from this Blog' link in any individual post.
As I worked on my forthcoming picture book Attack! Boss! Cheat Code! A Gamer’s Alphabet — which will be published by POW! this October, with illustrations by Joey Spiotto — I was struck by similarities between adults who have tied their love of video games into their careers and those who create books for children and young adults.
Among those in the gamer camp that I’ve spoken with, or read essays by, or listened to interviews of, or just followed on Twitter, I’ve noticed a lot of the same passion for creativity, thoughtfulness about their audience, and concern for diversity within (and represented by) their field that I’ve long seen among other children’s authors and illustrators.
There’s been some crossover — video games playing roles in fictional stories, children’s books being reimagined in digital form, individuals I know who have worked in both fields — but I wanted to see more.
That’s what inspired me to begin this “Games & Books & Q&A” series of simple interviews with authors/illustrators about their gaming experiences, and with gaming folks about their reading tastes while growing up. I think these will be enlightening and fun, and I hope you enjoy the parallels and cross-pollination between the two fields.
Let’s get started with middle-grade novelist Greg Pincus and Carly Kocurek, who teaches college courses in game studies and game design. I’ll continue next week with Tracy W. Bush, who composes music for video games, and YA novelist Tanita S. Davis.
And if there’s anyone in either camp that you’d love to see me feature in upcoming posts in this series, please drop me a line or tweet at me or just leave a message in the comments.
The first member of the gamer camp that I’m featuring in the Games & Books & Q&A series is Carly Kocurek. Carly is Assistant Professor of Digital Humanities and Media Studies at the Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago, where she teaches courses in game studies and game design. Her first book, a cultural history of the video game arcade in the 1970s and 1980s, is forthcoming from University of Minnesota Press. She is also co-author and co-developer with Allyson Whipple of Choice: Texas, a web-based interactive fiction game about reproductive healthcare access in the state of Texas.
CB: What do you remember about the first video game you ever played?
CK: When I was a kid — really young, like 4 or 5 — my family used to go to a local pizza place, now long closed, called Ken’s. I was completely fascinated by the arcade games near the doors, and I’d always beg for quarters for them. I think this worked maybe once, and I can’t even remember the game. I do, however, remember the way that the buttons and the plastic on the cabinet felt. Later, we got a hand-me-down Atari 2600 from some family friends, so I played Pong and Frogger and a few other things. The first game that really resonated with me, though, was Tetris. I got a GameBoy for Christmas in 1989, and I played Tetris for years and years. I’ve talked about this before, but that game is and was incredibly important to me. I’d play when I couldn’t sleep or when I was worried. I found it fun, obviously, but I also found it soothing. My mom and I had a back-and-forth high score ware that lasted about 10 years. I’d wake up and she’d have beaten my high score in the night, so I’d work all day to beat hers.
CB: What did you like to read when you were a kid? What did you love about it?
CK: I really loved Roald Dahl’s books. He’s a really problematic author, in a lot of ways, particularly when it comes to anything even remotely having to do with race. But, for his flaws, there are other things he does so well. He has all these stories about brilliant, interesting, kind, adventurous kids who are basically being tortured by brutish adults who don’t understand them or who are actually just monsters. That was so powerful for me, then. I read Matilda and James and the Giant Peach over and over. The American Girl books were also a serious fixation, and I think they’re part of why I wound up studying American cultural history.
CB: What book that you read while growing up had the most influence on who you became as an adult? How did it shape you?
CK: There’s a book called Winter of Fire by Sherryl Jordan that I have to mention. I think I might have read that book more times than any other book from my childhood. I could say a lot about it, but at a basic level it’s about a girl who changes the world. I want more stories like that. I want every kid to grow up reading books about girls who change the world. I had to read so many books about boys on adventures and boys becoming heroes when I was at school, and that’s fine, but it should have been more diverse. We expect girls to be able to relate to stories about boys, but we train boys they don’t have to deal with stories about girls. That seems dangerous.
I have a really battered paperback copy of this book around somewhere. And, it’s one of those I know I’ll never get rid of. It’s beloved. If it was a velveteen rabbit, it would 100% be real by now. The book has a pretty clear narrative about a young girl — and a girl who is part of a social class that’s devalued and dehumanized — fighting against sexism. I grew up around a lot of really amazing, strong women, but reading a book that was so explicitly about a system that’s unfair and having a character really fighting that, and often suffering for being willing to fight, was really inspiring for me then. It still is now, but now I know all kinds of true stories about those kinds of fights.
I adore Mem Fox. She is the author of my favorite quote: "Writing picture books is like writing 'War and Peace' in Haiku." Her brilliance is unquestioned and her recent speech at BEA was no less than one would expect:
CLICK HERE to see her talk on YouTube if the embedded video gives you an issue. Thanks to Betsy Bird for the heads up!
Just finished reading SINCE YOU'VE BEEN GONE by Morgan Matson (Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers, 2014). Loved this book, especially the main character, Emily. How I wish this book had been published years ago! I was very much like Emily when I was a teen: timid and insecure on my own, plus I spent a chunk of time in the shadow of a much more outgoing friend. Reading this book might have helped give me the courage to step out of my friend's shadow and find my own adventures.
Something else I loved: the twist on the stereotypical timid girl/outgoing or mean girl scenario. I won't go into details for fear of giving away spoilers. Read this book!
The Pre-Sloane Emily didn't go to parties, she barely talked to guys, she didn't do anything crazy. Enter Sloane, social tornado and the best kind of best friend—the one who yanks you out of your shell.But right before what should have been an epic summer, Sloane just... disappears. No note. No calls. No texts. No Sloane. There’s just a random to-do list. On it, thirteen Sloane-selected-definitely-bizarre-tasks that Emily would never try... unless they could lead back to her best friend.
Apple Picking at Night? Ok, easy enough.
Dance until Dawn? Sure. Why not?
Kiss a Stranger? Wait... what?
Getting through Sloane’s list would mean a lot of firsts. But Emily has this whole unexpected summer ahead of her, and the help of Frank Porter (totally unexpected) to check things off. Who knows what she’ll find?
I am so happy to be able to welcome the funnest librarian on the planet, Pam Margolis from the Unconventional Librarian and her post; Kid Writing and Biographies: Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson to the Discover Your World Summer Reading Extravaganza!
I believe that growing up in the South during the civil rights era is akin to growing up in different country. We all know that people of color were not treated well in the South. It’s difficult to imagine that there was a time when literature for children did not include people of color. Of any color.
Jacqueline Woodson, a powerful voice for multicultural children and teens, was born in Ohio in the 60s. Her childhood was spent in South Carolina and Ohio before finally settling in New York City. Imagine watching the differences in the interactions between Whites and Blacks from a child’s perspective. Woodson’s sensitivity to a child’s thoughts is uncanny. There are many ways to incorporate family projects into the reading of this book.
What I love about Brown Girl Dreaming is that not only is it an autobiography (written in free verse) but it’s also a tale of the civil rights movement told through the voice of a child. Even the youngest child will understand the meaning of the behaviors described in the book. For example:
In the stores downtown
we’re always followed around
just because we’re brown.
Any point in the book is a great opportunity to discuss race, our differences, and similarities. There are so many teachable moments in this book. In addition to discussing civil rights, the book would also make a great study of Black literature, for example, young Jackie discovers Langston Hughes:
I loved my friend.
He went away from me.
There’s nothing more to say.
The poem ends.
Soft as it began—
I loved my friend.
I remember when I first discovered Langston Hughes and this sad poem. I was instantly moved. Fortunately, young Jackie is discovering her writing voice and she writes a poem in response to Hughes:
I love my friend
and still do
when we play games
we laugh. I hope she never goes away from me
Because I love my friend.
She was in fourth grade, when she wrote that, can you believe it? Wouldn’t this make a great lesson on poetry writing or writing your own biography? When given the proper tools, children are amazingly astute writers.
The book will be published in August; perhaps writing could be a late summer project for your family? If your family can’t wait until August to learn more about Jacqueline Woodson, there are many books to become acquainted with:
Many of Woodson’s books are multiple award winners, so I’m sure you’ll find at least one good book for your family to enjoy together.
p.s. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting her twice and I’m proud to say I acted like a complete idiot each time (gabbing and fawning all over her); but I don’t care. Good authors are my rock stars.
Brown Girl Dreaming could also be the title of my autobiography. What could the title of yours be?
READ. ALL. THE BOOKS!!!
Pam, a.k.a. An Unconventional Librarian, is a curator of YA and children’s literature, a book blogger, coffee drinker and cupcake lover, who seeks multicultural books that appeal to all kids. Pam is also building a Harry Potter collection to enter the record books and she thinks being a little silly never hurts. You can connect with Pam on her websitePinterest page or on her Facebook page.
People often ask me how to write for children, how to get published, how to be successful. For me, there was one magic elixer that turned my writing life around. It taught me to really know my audience as well as the industry. It took my writing and raised it to a higher (publishable) level. And it’s always there to keep recharging me whenever I need it. No, it’s not coffee or chocolate or even a loving husband. It’s something available to all: the Highlights Foundation. Sure, they provide that magazine you might’ve had as a kid but it’s much more than that. It’s a foundation that nurtures writers for children, in any aspect of writing not just magazines (and if there’s some niche you can’t find covered, let them know and they’ll likely add it). What makes Highlights the magic elixir? Hmm, well here are some facts:
–experienced and generous faculty
–craft lectures and exercises
–one on one mentoring
–the synergy of other writers
–a nurturing environment (gourmet meals, your own cabin, a serene woodland with stream, yoga, drinks and snacks 24/7)
–most importantly, you’re TREATED as a writer and you’re EXPECTED to be a writer
That last point cannot be underestimated. How often do we doubt ourselves as writers? How often do we put our writing at the bottom of the list, below work and family and laundry, etc.? At Highlights, you are treated seriously and as an equal — so much so that you start believing what you should’ve believed all along: I’m a writer. I may have much work to do yet but what I have to say is important. And I will be published.
Those are the facts. There are the intangibles, too — the kindness in the air, the support that surrounds you, the incredible creative energy (at the event I just returned from, Patti Gauch called it “lei lines,” or lines of magic that cross right there at Boyds Mills, site of the Highlights Foundation workshops). I honestly don’t know what it is exactly but I can tell you this. In the fall of 2003 I attended a Highlights workshop and the following summer I went to Chautauqua, a Highlights conference that’s now held at the same place as the workshops in Boyds Mills, PA. As a direct result of those two experiences, I published my first novel, Quaking in 2007 and Mockingbird in 2010, and several more since. They have all done pretty well. I’m proud of them and proud of my writing. But mostly I’m grateful to that magic elixir that enabled me to fulfill this dream, and keeps filling me up whenever I need it.
It’s out there waiting for you. It really is available to everyone (there are scholarships or you can do what a writer at the last workshop did — start a GoFundMe page). Set your goal. Write. Write well. And then publish.
Menggunakan kerudung sebagai penutup aurat sekaligus sebagai fashion terbaru di tanah air. Cara berkerudung yang simpel tapi cantik sering dicari para kaum muslimah untuk tampil dengan cantik dalam berjilbab. Memang memakai jilbab segi tiga yang simpel dan cantik sering digunakan sebagai kreasi baru oleh remaja putri tanah air. Sebagai wanita muslimah kita tentu mempunyai eksistensi dalam berfashion dengan menggunakan jilbab di tahun modern saat ini. Sesuai dengan pergerakkan zaman yang semakin maju seorang muslimah akan tampil lebih percaya diri dengan menggunakan kerudung. Terdapat banyak model kerudung dengan warna – warna menarik sehingga lebih trendy untuk digunakan di berbagai kegiatan.
Kerudung atau jilbab berhasil menjadi fashion muslimah yang paling bergengsi di beberapa tahun terakhir ini. Jilbab muncul dengan berbagai model yang bisa dikreasikan dengan mudah sesuai dengan usia pemakainya. Kerudung bisa digunakan lebih simpel dan cantik dengan ditambahkan aksesoris berupa bross. Dengan kreasi yang simpel dan cantik membuat wanita muslim semakin tertarik untuk menggunakan kerudung di era modern ini. Kerudung digunakan umat muslim sebagai penutup aurat yang bisa disesuaikan dengan model dan kreasi sendiri – sendiri untuk tetap cantik. Sebelum menggunakan kerudung yang simpel dan cantik ketahuilah akan cara penggunaannya. Sebelum menggunakan harus disiapkan akan kerudung, bross jarum pentul dan ciput.
Dalam berkerudung dibutuhkan bross sebagai pemanis dalam berpenampilan dengan mencirikan umat muslim. Berbagai model simpel yang bisa diaplikasikan sesuai dengan bentuk wajah dan tetap terlihat cantik di segala suasana. Kemudian pilihlah warna kerudung yang sesuai dengan warna pakaian supaya terlihat tetap modis dan cantik. Kemudian sesuaikan kreasi penggunaan dengan suatu kegiatan anda.
I have a confession. I'm officially NOT into eating skin-like things.
See, I wanted to try making spring rolls, which are apparently made with rice paper; I'd never seen them in their pre-edible form before, so I was so excited to try them. I'd also never eaten one in cold form; usually, they're fried up to a heavenly crisp.
Luckily, there's an Asian market near my house, it turns out.
So I got my ingredients together, laid out nicely and in order and broke through the round plastic packaging of these very foreign rice paper wraps, only to find this plastic sheet on top of the contents. And, what do I find upon removing it? Another plastic sheet. It took me a second to realize, "Holy S**T! These ARE the wraps?!" I thought I was buying soft, pliable sheets of hopefully-yummy wraps. After all, I'm used to tortillas, and these are just a different version, right?
So I read the instructions and found that you have to dip them in warm water for a couple of seconds, and then you can stuff and roll them up. It was the coolest thing I'd ever seen with regards to something edible. Here's the thing, though: they're so sticky, they're a little hard to work with. But I managed, and once rolled, I tried one.
Mind you, as I write this, I can feel my face twisting into various and clear-as-day reminders of my new experience, my unforgettable, no-it's-still-too-fresh-a-trauma.
I gave one to hubby to try first. He's always been the Mikey in this family. And my mother in law tried a bite of hubby's spring roll. She spit that sucker out so fast, claiming she didn't like the stickiness. Then she asked us, with the most expressive disgust you can imagine, if we actually like those things. We both said, "Of course. Absolutely! They're so good!"
And then I tried one, and I swear, I felt like someone had slipped me a Mickey. And I'm not taking about some dangerous you-won't-remember-a thing-tomorrow so or Mickey. No, I'm talking about an actual Mickey. Or at least part of him. See, the rice paper had this weird, fleshy, skin-like texture that left me feeling like an unwitting participant in some sick prank. After ew-ing and ugh-ing my way past the cannibalistic first bite, I went in for another, thinking it had to have been my imagination.
So, with my mother in law eyeing me like a cop waiting for the proverbial canary to sing, I Jefferey Dahmer-ed my way through that first roll only because she was sitting in front of me, watching, waiting and watching some more.
Needless to say, when her back was turned, I threw out the spring roll and ran to the computer to find out how to make them in the oven.
So, anyone else try these things cold? Like, love, hate, or move on? Any thoughts?
Oh, and on a final note: the above picture is NOT, I repeat, NOT how my rolls looked. No. No. These are merely a picture I found on google to illustrate my point.
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Disclaimer: I received no compensation from the author or publisher for this honest review.
About the Book
WANTED Single human female to join charming, wealthy, single male were-cougar for a night of romantic fun—and maybe more.
Me: The tall, sensuous, open-minded leader of my clan.
You: A deliciously curvy virgin who’s intimately familiar with what goes bump in the night. Must not be afraid of a little tail. Prefer a woman who’s open to exploring her animal nature. Interest in nighttime walks through the woods a plus.
My turn-ons include protecting you from the worst the supernatural world has to offer. Ready for an adventure? Give me a call.
I picked up this title because I thought it might be a retelling and/or new version of the classic Beauty and the Beast fairy tale. Sadly, I was in for a little disappointment but that didn't deter me from reading this paranormal romance.
I think what I liked the most was Bathsheba's and Beau's wit. They played well off each other, even when Bathsheba was being guarded. I also liked the fact that Bathsheba was protective of her sibling and wanted what was best for her.
Some things that drove me nuts about the story was the first-person viewpoint. I'm not a fan of this style but I will read them when they are done well. The approach for this story was just okay for me. I did get tired of reading the story from Bathsheba's point of view the entire time.
Also the ending was a bit of a letdown along with some confusion as to how they arrived at the conclusion that they did to take care of some of the problems that popped up during the story.
Would I recommend this? Perhaps to those who are already readers of the genre.
Writing contest — deadline in two days! First Annual Summer Writing Contest Write2Ignite! is pleased to announce the First Annual Summer Writing Contest The winner will receive: a tote bag of goodies especially selected for writers announcement of the winner’s name and story title on the Write2Ignite! website an interview with the winner posted on…
Awhile ago, Bella at To Say Nothing of Reality tagged me with what she thinks is the Liebster Blog Award. The goal of this tag is to: 1.) LIST 11 facts about yourself. 2.) ANSWER 11 questions the tagger asked. 3.) ASK 11 questions of those you tag.
Since I have done the Liebster Blog tag several thousand times already...
Yes. IMHO, if there had to be a film adaption of the Hobbit, Peter Jackson should have made it a TV show and followed the book verbatim. He wouldn't have had the urge to add all the unnecessary drivel that he did.
I would say mainly an Avengers fan. I'm not much into Spider Man, I'm not sure about the upcoming Ant Man, and I don't know about Guardians of the Galaxy. I do like Wolverine, but I don't think I really love all the X-men.
Yes. In my outspoken opinion, Tangled was a much better story. Besides, Rapunzel had a frying pan.
Eleven questions for whosoever wants to be tagged.
1.) If you could choose to be a bug, what kind would you be? 2.) You are given a choice between pizza and chocolate. What do you choose? 3.) What does Panama make you think of? 4.) Have you ever been so obsessed with a TV show you literally can't think of anything else for days? Weeks, even? If so, which TV show(s) are you obsessed with at the mo'? 5.) Do you prefer pens or pencils when writing? 6.) If you could have one superpower talent, what would it be? 7.) Do you visualize yourself as an archer or a ninja? 8.) Quick! Off the top of your head, what's the ONE THING you can't live without? 9.) You're on the run. Would you rather have a.) a hairbrush, or b.) a toothbrush? 10.) Are you a summer or winter person? Why? 11.) Do you unashamedly watch cartoons and cry over them? (If yes, high five, sista!)
There you go. Since I'm a good person, I'm actually going to force myself to reach out and tag a couple people. After that, youse all are on your own. Amanda Maria Jack Arda Nessimava
Before I say farewell entirely, I am going to mention that I LOVED Prison Break the TV show, and because I loved it so much I made many collages, which I'm going to share here.
Yep, I'm a bit obsessed. Unlike some other sisters I can name, I am very honest about being obsessed. I like to share my obsession, and see how many other people I can get to be obsessed, too.
So, until next time... which may be awhile. You never know. I could go on a blogging spree and be your faithful blogger twice a week. Or I may pop up in a couple months with a new obsession. Life can be interesting that way.
The Sunday Post is hosted by Kimba of The Caffeinated Book Reviewer. This is a weekly meme where we can share news of the week and highlight new books received.
Yesterday, we spent most of the day driving back and forth to my brother’s house. He and his family are moving to Austin, TX in two weeks, and he’s trying to pare down their belongings so they don’t have to transport it down there. We came home with a 50” plasma TV, Yamaha receiver, a Bluray player, an exercise bike, AND a treadmill, all for cheap, cheap, cheap. Very happy with our new possessions, but worried about how we are going to drag the massively heavy treadmill into the house. And where we are going to put it. It will probably take a couple of weekends to recycle the old TV and make room for the gym equipment, but I am so happy that I’ll be able to stay inside, warm and dry, when the weather is inclement and still be able to bike or walk. Yay!
Check out my current contests! See the Contest Widget on the Sidebar to enter!
Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga’s Reviews to share new additions to our library. Click here to learn more about it.
New Arrivals at the Café:
Through the Woods
The Thousand Names ($4.99 for the kindle!)
What I Love About You
Jani and the Greater Game
Illusions of Fate
Her Secret, His Surprise
A great big thanks to the publishers for their continued support!
Avasthi, Swati. Chasing Shadows. Random House/Knopf Books for Young Readers, 2013; ISBN 13: 9780375863424; $17.99.
In this novel/graphic-novel hybrid, Holly and Savitri each fight to save themselves and their friendship after a ruthless killer ends Chase’s life.
Barnes, Jennifer Lynn. The Naturals. Hyperion/Miramax, 2013; ISBN 13: 9781423168232; $17.99.
A natural profiler, 17-year-old Cassie joins a special teen FBI program and finds herself immersed in a world where everything is not as it seems.
Beaudoin, Sean. Wise Young Fool. Little, Brown/Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2013; ISBN 13: 9780316203791; $18.00.
Wannabe rock star Ritchie Sudden is spending 90 days in juvie—just enough time to tell his tale of lust, loss, and, of course, rock-and-roll.
*Berry, Julie.All the Truth That’s In Me. Penguin/Viking Juvenile, 2013; ISBN 13: 9780670786152; $17.99.
Judith is a pariah after her tongue is cut out. But when war threatens her village she must find her voice.
Bick, Ilsa J. The Sin Eater’s Confession. Lerner/Carolrhoda Books, 2013; ISBN 13: 9780761356875; $17.95.
In a small Wisconsin town, rumors about Jimmy and Ben ruin Ben’s life and brutally end Jimmy’s. Three years later, Ben decides to set the record straight.
Black, Holly. The Coldest Girl in Coldtown. Little, Brown/Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2013; ISBN 13: 9780316213103; $19.00.
Welcome to Coldtown, a quarantined city for vampires, the infected, and humans. The price for residence, however, is that you can never leave.
Blagden, Scott.Dear Life, You Suck. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt/Harcourt Children’s Books, 2013; ISBN 13: 9780547904313; $16.99.
Cricket’s life is wrought with pain and his future looks bleak. Should he become a professional fighter, a drug dealer, or just end it all?
Bradbury, Jennifer. A Moment Comes. Simon & Schuster/Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2013; ISBN 13: 9781416978763; $16.99.
Lives collide when three teens from different backgrounds become ensnared in the turmoil of the India-Pakistan partition.
Brenna, Beverley. The White Bicycle. Red Deer Press, 2012; ISBN 13: 9780889954830; $12.95.
Taylor is spending a summer in France, hoping to prove that she has the wherewithal to live a life independent from her mother. But sacrebleu! Things take an unexpected turn.
Brown, Teri. Born of Illusion. HarperCollins/Balzer & Bray, 2013; ISBN 13: 9780062187543; $17.99.
In the glitterly world of 1920s New York City, Anna must learn to use her psychic powers before the threats foretold in her visions become reality.
Buzo, Laura. Love and Other Perishable Items. Random House/Knopf Books for Young Readers, 2012; ISBN 13: 9780375870002; $17.99.
When 15-year-old Amelia falls for her 22-year-old supermarket coworker, Chris, things get messy. Clean-up on Aisle 7.
Carriger, Gail. Etiquette & Espionage. Little, Brown/Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2013; ISBN 13: 9780316190084; $17.99.
Proper etiquette is most important for young ladies, but so is knowing how to correctly conceal a weapon.
*Clark, Kristin Elizabeth. Freakboy. Macmillan/Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2013; ISBN 13: 9780374324728; $18.99.
What do you do when your outside doesn’t match your inside? In this free-verse novel, Brendan, a gender-questioning teen, wrestles with his identity.
Cokal, Susann. The Kingdom of Little Wounds. Candlewick, 2013; ISBN 13: 9780763666941; $22.99.
A princess’s death and an errant prick of a needle influences the fate and fortunes of a royal seamstress and a mute nursemaid.
Coley, Liz. Pretty Girl-13.HarperCollins/Katherine Tegen Books, 2013; ISBN 13: 9780062127372; $17.99.
Angela disappeared. For her it was only three days but three whole years have passed. As she assimilates back into society, she begins to understand the changes the time away has wrought.
Cooner, Donna. Skinny. Scholastic/Point, 2012; ISBN 13: 9780545427630; $17.99.
Ever Davies hopes that a risky weight-loss surgery might vanquish the cruel voice inside her head named “Skinny.” But losing weight does not mean losing her insecurities.
De La Peña, Matt. The Living. Random House/Delacorte Press, 2013; ISBN 13: 9780385741200; $17.99.
Shy is working on a cruise ship when a tsunami crash-lands him upon a remote island, where he and his friends must work to solve a mystery. This quick-paced thriller never flinches from class-based issues.
DeStefano, Lauren. Perfect Ruin. Illustrated by Teagan White. Simon & Schuster/Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2013; ISBN 13: 9781442480612; $17.99.
The brutal murder of a teenage girl causes Morgan to question the safety of her city, the role of the government, and her place in Internment.
Dubosarsky, Ursula. The Golden Day. Candlewick, 2013; ISBN 13: 9780763663995; $15.99. In 1967, 11
Australian schoolgirls accompany their teacher on an outing to the local gardens. But when they return to the school without her, they find their lives have changed forever.
Engle, Margarita. The Lightning Dreamer: Cuba’s Greatest Abolitionist. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt/HMH Books for Young Readers, 2013; ISBN: 9780547807430; $16.99.
This fictionalized story of Cuban writer Gertrudis Gómez de Avellaneda explores how she learned to capture the power of the written word.
Farizan, Sara. If You Could Be Mine. Algonquin Books/Algonquin Books for Young Readers, 2013; ISBN 13: 9781616202514; $16.95.
Sahar and Nasim are two girls in love in modern-day Iran. Will Sahar dare to change her whole self to be with the one she loves?
*Federle, Tim. Better Nate Than Ever.Simon & Schuster/Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2013; ISBN 13: 9781442446892; $16.99.
Broadway enthusiast Nate ventures out on his own from suburban Pittsburgh to the Big Apple for a chance at musical stardom. Hilarity ensues.
Feinstein, John. Foul Trouble. Random House/Knopf Books for Young Readers, 2013; ISBN 13: 9780375869648; $16.99.
Danny Wilcox and Terrell Jamerson are seniors, best friends, and basketball stars, but they’re about to learn the true cost of their talents.
Flores-Scott, Patrick. Jumped In. Macmillan/Henry Holt, 2013; ISBN 13: 9780805095142; $16.99.
After moving across the country to live with his grandparents, Sam withdraws from everyone. Poetry and an unlikely friendship might be the only things that can draw him out.
Forman, Gayle. Just One Day. Penguin/Dutton Juvenile, 2013; ISBN 13: 9780525425915; $17.99.
One day in Paris with a free-spirited Dutch boy changes everything for reserved American teen, Allyson.
Foxlee, Karen. The Midnight Dress.Random House/Knopf Books for Young Readers, 2013; ISBN 13: 9780375856457; $16.99.
Rose sews herself a dress so perfect that it might change her life forever. Told in lush prose and a vividly realized Queensland setting, this will mesmerize readers.
Gansworth, Eric. If I Ever Get Out of Here. Scholastic/Arthur A. Levine, 2013; ISBN 13: 9780545417303; $17.99.
It seems everything is working against Lewis; he really needs is a friend. It sure doesn’t help that George, the one friend he does find, lives outside of his reservation.
Gardner, Sally. Maggot Moon.Illustrated by Julian Crouch. Candlewick, 2013; ISBN 13: 9780763665531; $16.99.
When an injured “astronaut” hides out in Standish’s basement, Standish begins to see through the Motherland’s façade and question accepted truths.
Goodman, Carol. Blythewood.Penguin/Viking Juvenile, 2013; ISBN 13: 9780670784769; $17.99.
Haunted by dreams of a beautiful boy with wings, Avaline arrives at Blythewood, the school her mother disappeared from so many years before.
Goodman, Shawn. Kindness for Weakness.Random House/Delacorte Books for Young Readers, 2013; ISBN 13: 9780385743242; $16.99.
Desperate for his brother’s approval, James takes the rap for a drug dealing charge. Once incarcerated, James ends up fighting for his life.
Griffin, Adele. Loud Awake and Lost.Random House/Knopf Books for Young Readers, 2013; ISBN 13: 9780385752725; $16.99.
Ember returns home eight months after a car crash left her with injuries and amnesia. Can she remember those weeks leading to the accident and rediscover herself?
Gruener, Ruth, Jack Gruener and Alan Gratz. Prisoner B-3087. Scholastic Press, 2013; ISBN 13: 9780545459013; $16.99.
Six years, 10 concentration camps. Despite cruelty, starvation, and hard labor, Yanek is determined to survive as he clings to hope.
Hassan, Michael. Crash and Burn. HarperCollins/Balzer and Bray, 2013; ISBN 13: 9780062112903; $18.99.
Crash is far from an ideal hero. Burn, on the other hand, is often considered a psycho. But neither realizes how much their lives depend on each other.
Healey, Karen. When We Wake. Little, Brown/Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2013; ISBN 13: 9780316200769; $17.99.
Teegan, cryogenically frozen after being shot, is defrosted 100 years later and must find her place in a drastically altered world.
Keil, Melissa. Life in Outer Space.Peachtree Publishers, 2013; ISBN 13: 9781561457427; $16.95.
The nerdy world of Sam and his friends is knocked off balance when Camilla moves to town, challenging the limits of their friendships and the possibilities of romantic love.
King, A. S. Reality Boy. Little, Brown/Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2013; ISBN 13: 9780316222709; $18.00.
Twelve years ago, Gerald Faust became known as “The Crapper” after defecating on reality TV. Now 17, he struggles to control his persistent anger and allow himself to emotionally connect.
Knowles, Jo. Living With Jackie Chan.Candlewick, 2013; ISBN 13: 9780763662806; $16.99.
Moving to live with Uncle Larry was supposed to be Josh’s fresh start, but the cries from the baby upstairs remind Josh of the life he has left behind.
Koertge, Ron. Coaltown Jesus. Candlewick, 2013; ISBN 13: 9780763662288; $16.99.
It’s not every day that you enter your room and discover Jesus waiting for you. Unfortunately, Walker isn’t being given free answers from on high, but rather irreverent advice.
Konigsberg, Bill. Openly Straight.Scholastic/Arthur A. Levine, 2013; ISBN 13: 9780545509893; $17.99.
Just because you like boys doesn’t mean it’s the only thing that defines you as a person. In order to prove it, Rafe enlists in a new school to live a label-free life.
Kraus, Daniel. Scowler. Random House/ Delacorte Books for Young Readers, 2013; ISBN 13: 9780385743099; $16.99.
Ry is haunted by memories of an abusive father. When the father returns to have his revenge, Ry summons his imaginary childhood protectors to save his family.
Laban, Elizabeth. The Tragedy Paper.Random House/Knopf Books for Young Readers, 2013; ISBN 13: 9780375870408; $17.99.
Tim is crushed after being assigned the worst room at this boarding school. But it is there he finds an important gift that will change his understanding of love and friendship.
LaFevers, Robin. Dark Triumph. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt /Houghton Mifflin Books for Children, 2013; ISBN 13: 9780547628387; $17.99.
Sybella, a trained assassin, is sent back to live with her father, a sadistic Lord. When she defies him, she must battle to stay alive.
Lake, Nick. Hostage Three. Bloomsbury USA, 2013; ISBN 13; 9781619631236; $17.99.
Amy’s self-absorbed view of the world changes dramatically when her family’s yacht is hijacked by Somali pirates.
Lanagan, Margo. Yellowcake. Random House/Knopf Books for Young Readers, 2013; ISBN 13: 9780375869204; $16.99.
With her characteristic style, Lanagan presents 10 tales that speak of witchcraft, magic, monsters and beasts. Don’t be afraid; they won’t bite. Not always, anyway.
Levithan, David. Two Boys Kissing. Random House/Knopf Books for Young Readers, 2013; ISBN 13: 9780307931900; $16.99.
Harry and Craig are going for the Guinness World Record for the longest kiss, and everyone is watching, including generations of gay men that have gone before them.
London, Alex. Proxy. Penguin/Philomel, 2013; ISBN 13: 9780399257766; $17.99.
As Knox’s proxy, Syd takes the punishment when his wealthy patron breaks the rules. When Syd faces a death sentence, he discovers that the one who has cost him his life is the only one who can save him.
Lu, Marie. Prodigy: A Legend Novel. Penguin/Putnam Juvenile, 2013; ISBN 13: 9780399256769; $17.99.
With their world on the brink of collapse, June and Day become pawns of the Patriots in a plot that may destroy or save the Republic–and their love.
Lyga, Barry. Game.Little, Brown/Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2013; ISBN 13: 9780316125871; $17.99.
Someone is playing a deadly game. Can Jazz Dent, the son of history’s most famous serial killer, follow the clues to NYC, stop the murders and win the game?
Lynch, Chris. Pieces. Simon & Schuster/Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2013; ISBN 13: 9781416927037; $16.99.
The death of his older brother, Duane, leaves Eric empty. By finding Duane’s “pieces” and meeting the recipients of his donated organ, Eric hopes to become whole again?
Maas, Sarah J. Crown of Midnight.Bloomsbury USA, 2013; ISBN 13: 9781619630628; $17.99.
Celaena Sardothian is the evil king’s assassin, but her loyalty lies elsewhere, putting her and those she loves in danger.
Madison, Bennett. September Girls.HarperCollins/HarperTeen, 2013; ISBN 13: 9780061255632; $17.99.
During a dreamy summer spent at the beach, Sam falls for Dee-Dee, a girl with a strange connection to the sea.
Marchetta, Melina. Quintana of Charyn: The Lumatere Chronicles.Candlewick, 2013; ISBN 13: 9780763658359; $18.99.
The promise of war keeps Quintana hidden from those men who would surely kill her and the child she carries — and from Froi, who will do anything to find her.
Marillier, Juliet. Raven Flight.Random House/Knopf Books for Young Readers, 2013; ISBN 13: 9780375869556; $16.99.
To save her people from the evil king, Neryn sets out from Shadowfell in search of the Guardians so that she might learn how to harness her powers.
Marr, Melissa and Tim Pratt, ed. Rags & Bones: New Twists on Timeless Tales.Little, Brown/Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2013; ISBN 13: 9780316212946; $18.00.
Eighteen powerhouse YA authors pen short stories inspired by their favorite classic tales.
Martin, T. Michael. The End Games. HarperCollins/Balzer & Bray, 2013; ISBN 13: 9780062201805; $17.99.
The zombie apocalypse would be an awesome “game,” if Michael and his younger brother weren’t living it. By becoming the “Game Master,” Michael protects fragile Patrick or their journey to find safe haven.
*McNeal, Tom. Far Far Away. Random House/Knopf Books for Young Readers, 2013; ISBN 13: 9780375849725; $17.99.
Jeremy Johnson Johnson’s life is full of delicious cakes, funny pranks, and dangerous mistakes. It’s almost like he’s living in a modern fairy tale.
Medina, Meg. Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass. Candlewick, 2013; ISBN 13: 9780763658595; $16.99.
It doesn’t take much to throw off someone’s day, but when Yaqui Delgado threatens Piddy, her entire world is rocked.
Metzger, Lois. A Trick of the Light.HarperCollins/Balzer & Bray, 2013; ISBN 13: 9780062133083; $17.99.
What’s wrong with Mike? According to the voice in his head, he’s just fine. But how can that be, considering his anorexia and family trauma?
Meyer, Marissa. Scarlet. Macmillan/Feiwel and Friends, 2013; ISBN 13: 9780312642969; $17.99.
In this sci-fi retelling of Little Red Riding Hood, Scarlet finds herself drawn to the rugged, mysterious Wolf as she searches for clues about her missing grandmother.
Moser, Elise. Lily and Taylor. Groundwood Books, 2013; ISBN 13: 9781554983346; $16.95.
Taylor thought she could put the violence of her old life behind her by starting over in a new place. Her boyfriend, however, has different plans.
Moskowitz, Hannah. Teeth. Simon & Schuster/Simon Pulse, 2013; ISBN 13: 9781442465329; $17.99.
On a remote island, Rudy meets two characters who will change his life forever: a naive princess and a “fish-boy” named Teeth.
Murdoch, Emily. If You Find Me. Macmillan/St. Martin’s Griffin, 2013; ISBN 13: 9781250021526; $17.99.
Carey and Janessa have lived isolated in the woods for ten years, but when their father finds them they can no longer hide from their dark past.
Ness, Patrick. More Than This.Candlewick, 2013; ISBN 13: 9780763662585; $19.99.
Seth dies and then wakes up in what he believes to be hell, alone, naked, and confused in a seemingly deserted world.
Nielsen, Susin. The Reluctant Journal of Henry K. Larsen. Tundra Books, 2012; ISBN 13: 9781770493728; $17.95.
Forced by his therapist to keep a journal, 13-year-old Henry shares humorous insights as he navigates a new school and struggles to reconcile his love for his older brother, who murdered another student before turning the gun on himself.
Pitcher, Annabel. Ketchup Clouds. Little, Brown/Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2013; ISBN 13: 9780316246767; $18.00.
In a series of letters to a death row inmate, Zoe tells the story of how she fell for two brothers and the heartbreaking aftermath.
Poblocki, Dan. The Haunting of Gabriel Ashe.Scholastic, 2013; ISBN 13: 9780545402705; $16.99.
Gabe and Seth believed the Hunter was imaginary, but this nasty urban legend may actually be coming for them.
Quick, Matthew. Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock. Little, Brown/Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2013; ISBN 13: 9780316221337; $18.00.
On the day that Leonard Peacock brings a gun to school, it will be small gesture that will decide his fate, as well as those around him.
Rhodes, Morgan. Falling Kingdoms. Penguin/Razorbill, 2012; ISBN 13: 9781595145840; $18.99.
After peace is disrupted, three kingdoms fight for power and four teens find their lives forever intertwined.
Rosoff, Meg. Picture Me Gone. Penguin/Putnam Juvenile, 2013; ISBN 13: 9780399257650; $17.99.
Can Mila’s powers of observation help find her dad’s missing friend? Rosoff delivers a subtle and incisive look at one perceptive 12-year-old.
Eleanor has bright red hair and a thrift store wardrobe. Park wears “guyliner” and reads comics. They don’t fit in anywhere except with each other.
Rowell, Rainbow. Fangirl.Macmillan/St. Martin’s Griffin, 2013; ISBN 13: 9781250030955; $18.99.
Online, Cath is famous. In real life, at her first year in college she is a nobody. Can she navigate being just Cath without her fan fiction to hide behind?
Sales, Leila. This Song Will Save Your Life. Macmillan/Farrar, Straus, and Giroux; ISBN 13: 9780374351380; $17.99.
After a failed suicide attempt, Elise finds that you can’t change who you are. But sometimes, if you just listen to the voice inside, the song you hear will save your life.
Sanderson, Brandon. The Rithmatist. Tor/Tor Teen, 2013; ISBN 13: 9780765320322; $17.99.
Joel dreams of becoming a Rithmatist but must resign himself with studying the art. When Rithmatist students at his school begin disappearing, Joel is determined to uncover the truth.
Sanderson, Brandon. Steelheart.Random House/Delacorte Press, 2013; ISBN 13: 9780385743563; $18.99.
Eight-year old David witnessed the death of his father at the hand of the powerful Epic Steelheart. Ten years later, he’s out for revenge.
Seamon, Hollis. Somebody Up There Hates You. Algonquin Books/Algonquin Young Readers, 2013; ISBN 13: 9781616202606; $16.95.
When you’re a 17-year old guy with terminal cancer stuck in hospice with a bunch of old people, only one thing is certain: somebody up there hates you.
*Sedgwick, Marcus. Midwinterblood.Macmillan/Roaring Brook Press, 2013; ISBN 13: 9781596438002. $17.99.
On a remote, mysterious island in Scandinavia, two souls seek each other out again and again through seven stories that span centuries.
*Sepetys, Ruta. Out of the Easy. Penguin/Philomel, 2013; ISBN 13: 9780399256929; $17.99.
Life can be sleazy in the Big Easy especially for 17-year-old Josie, who’s itching to get out of New Orleans and start a better life.
Shepherd, Megan. The Madman’s Daughter. HarperCollins/Balzer & Bray, 2013; ISBN 13: 9780062128027; $17.99.
Juliet escapes London to follow her father, Dr. Moreau, to a remote tropical island where she discovers dark secrets, danger, and love.
Sloan, Holly Goldberg. Counting by 7s.Penguin/Dial Books, 2013; ISBN 13: 9780803738553; $16.99.
Willow has never fit in anywhere, but when her adoptive parents are killed in a car crash, everything changes in the most unexpected way.
*Smith, Andrew. Winger. Illustrated by Sam Bosma. Simon & Schuster/Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2013; ISBN 13: 9781442444928; $16.99.
Fourteen-year-old Ryan Dean navigates the twists and turns of boarding school with the help of his rugby teammates and his best friend, with whom he is helplessly in love.
Stiefvater, Maggie. The Dream Thieves. Scholastic, 2013; ISBN 13: 9780545424943. $18.99.
The search for Glendower continues, but Ronan’s ability to bring items out of his dreams puts the Raven Boys and Blue in danger.
Strasser, Todd. Fallout.Candlewick, 2013; ISBN 13: 9780763655341, $16.99.
Scott’s house is the only one in the neighborhood with a bomb shelter. When the unthinkable happens, 10 people must survive for two weeks in a room meant for only four.
*Sullivan, Tara. Golden Boy. Penguin/Putnam Juvenile, 2013; ISBN 13: 9780399161124; $16.99.
Can you put a price on an albino’s life? In Tanzania, you can.
Taylor, Laini. Days of Blood and Starlight. Little, Brown/Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2012; ISBN 13: 9780316133975; $18.99.
Karou and Akiva find themselves taking opposite sides in an escalating war as each encourage opposite rebellions to make their dreams of peace into reality.
Terrill, Cristin. All Our Yesterdays.Disney-Hyperion, 2013; ISBN 13: 9781423176374; $17.99.
Em must make the ultimate choice: save a loved one or save the world. She only has four days to decide.
Terry, Chris L. Zero Fade. Curbside Splendor, 2013; ISBN 13: 9780988480438; $12.00.
Kevin’s eight wild days begin with a terrible haircut from his mom. Dude needs a fade! He already knows Aisha thinks his butt is puffy, but she needs to take better notice.
Thompson, Holly. The Language Inside. Random House/Delacorte Books for Young Readers, 2013; ISBN 13: 9780385739795; $17.99.
Leaving her beloved Japan after the tsunami, Emma feels as if she has left half of herself behind, but a volunteer job offers the healing properties of both poetry and romance.
Vanderpool, Clare. Navigating Early. Random House/Delacorte Books for Young Readers, 2013; ISBN 13: 9780385742092; $16.99.
At a boarding school in Maine, two boys dealing with loss embark upon a fantastic quest on the Appalachian Trail in which the surreal and real collide.
Vaughn, Lauren Roedy. OCD, the Dude, and Me. Penguin/Dial, 2013; ISBN 13: 9780803738430; $16.99.
Danielle, OCD sufferer and social outcast, writes a “me-moir” – a collection of English essays, private journal entries, emails, and letters, which chronicles her tumultuous senior year in high school.
Wasserman, Robin. The Waking Dark. Random House/Knopf Books for Young Readers, 2013; ISBN 13: 9780375868771. $17.99.
After the Killing Day, teen survivors fight to save their town and their loves from a plague of madness.
*Wein, Elizabeth. Rose Under Fire. Disney-Hyperion, 2013; ISBN 13: 9781423183099; $17.99.
During World War II, a female transport pilot is captured and sent to a German concentration camp where she bears witness to starvation, corporal punishment, and medical experimentation.
West, Kasie. Pivot Point. HarperCollins/HarperTeen, 2013; ISBN 13: 9780062117373; $17.99.
Both of clairvoyant teen Addie’s possible future paths are full of love and loss. So which will she choose?
Westrick, Anne. Brotherhood.Penguin/Viking Juvenile, 2013; ISBN 13: 9780670014392; $17.99.
Shadrach looks up to Jeremiah, but when he starts to understand the true meaning of Brotherhood, he must decide for himself where his loyalties reside.
Winters, Cat. In the Shadow of Blackbirds. Abrams/Amulet Books, 2013; ISBN 13: 9781419705304; $16.95.
Mary Shelley does not hold with the Spiritualism fad consuming America in 1918, but when her sweetheart dies, she finds herself haunted by both a spirit and a mystery.
Woolston, Blythe. Black Helicopters. Candlewick, 2013; ISBN 13: 9780763661465; $15.99.
Taught to fear Those People who control the Black Helicopters, Valley becomes a violent statement for a cult of “patriots.”
Yancey, Rick. The 5th Wave. Penguin/Putnam Juvenile, 2013; ISBN 13: 9780399162411; $18.99.
After surviving four waves of destruction, Cassie must trust a mysterious boy in order to rescue her brother and fight an invasion of murderous human lookalikes.
Yovanoff, Brenna. Paper Valentine. Penguin/Razorbill, 2013; ISBN 13: 9781595145994; $17.99.
As if being haunted by her dead best friend isn’t enough, Hannah is falling in love with a juvenile delinquent and there’s a serial killer on the loose.
Zarr, Sara. The Lucy Variations. Little, Brown/Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2013; ISBN 13: 9780316205016; $18.00.
Lucy has always played piano to please others, but after walking away from the profession, she meets a young piano teacher who begins to show her another way.
Morris Mickelwhite, son of Moira and roommate of Moo the cat, is a character. He's creative and strong and unique. When he hits a snag he takes a moment out then dusts himself off and comes back up again.
Morris loves to play dress up in a tangerine dress, and I'm sure you can imagine the comments he gets from school mates. These comments about something he love give him a stomachache. Taking time off to regroup with his mother, his cat, and his imagination gives him the confidence to go into school and blaze his own path.
I have read a lot of "issue" books and it just doesn't work if the quality isn't there. In this case the storytelling, the character building, and the artwork are well beyond what you would expect of a normal picture book. Baldacchino uses great use of onomatopoeia to bring interest to younger readers as well as older readers who will enjoy the story and characters.
Morris isn't the only the star character. Malenfant uses the same deft hand for the moving expressions on Morris' face as she does to bring the tangerine dress to life. Make no mistake, this dress will be as fascinating to most readers as to Morris. Malenfant's charcoal, watercolour and pastel illustrations draw your eye to that dress and make you realize just why he has such a yearning for it.
This is more than just an issue book. Yes, it breaks gender stereotypes and gives a great role model for going your own way, but the reason you'll re-read it is because of the stunning artwork and the way the words work perfectly together.
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Fans of robots, jaegers, droids, mobile weapons, drones, and transformers will be interested to know that the new edition of Nuthin' But Mech Volume 2 is now available.
This is the second volume in the series originated by Lorin Wood, who created the original Nuthin But Mech blog. Ian McQue produced these robot walkers with all the wear and tear and rust of a real machine that had been left outdoors for a long time.
Most of the images are either 2D or 3D digital, but there are a few painted in traditional media. All of the proceeds will go to help the medical costs of Francis Tsai, one of the book's contributors, who was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig's Disease in 2010.
This book features the work 40 contributors, ranging from whimsical concepts to realistic and compelling dystopian visions, such as this one by Bastiaan Koch.
There are six pages of my own artwork, mostly the new sepia paintings for Dinotopia, First Flight Expanded Edition. This one, called "Drainage Man," has the caption: "Poseidian D-class brontostrutters require frequent fluid exchange service. Drainage men, stationed at remote outposts along the steam safari routes of the Great Desert, replace hydraulic oil from the quad pistons after every 50K cycles. They also check lube levels, and they pump water into the belly tanks for the long hauls."
“The police have chased the poor away from the beaches and hotels and shopping districts back to the slums.” At 5pm local time on June 12, the national soccer teams of Brazil and Croatia will kick off the 2014 World Cup at the São Paulo Arena in Brazil’s largest city. The players will compete before a live crowd of tens of thousands and a televised audience of millions more.
At a total cost of roughly $11 billion - and at least eight workers’ lives – Brazil will host the most expensive World Cup in history. Though this is not to understate the scandalous unfolding atrocity in Qatar). Brazilians overwhelmingly supported bringing the event to their country when FIFA awarded them the honor in 2007 (no other nation in the Americas volunteered), but a recent poll from DataFolha indicates that a majority of citizens now oppose it.
Widespread anti-Cup protests have been roiling Brazil’s cities and social media networks for months. The demonstrators’ grievances range from public transportation fare hikes to inadequate wages, housing, education, security and healthcare, among other things. But as evidenced by their use of the slogan “Não vai ter Copa!” (“There will be no Cup!”), it is clear that they intend to use the lavish international spectacle both as a symbol of their concerns and a spotlight to shine on them.
On June 3, a group of anti-Cup activists inflated giant soccer balls in the capital city Brasilia. Protest organizer Antonio Carlos Costa told Agence France Presse, ”We want the Brazilian government to ask the nation’s forgiveness because it promised something it never delivered. It invested a fortune of public money in things that weren’t necessary.” A recent Pew poll found that 61% of respondents believed hosting the World Cup is a ”bad thing” “because it takes money away from public services.”
Not all of the protests have been peaceful. AFP interviewed one of a growing number of so-called “Black Bloc” activists, who went by the pseudonym Elizabeth:
Black Bloc is not a formal group, she says, but “a tactic for action that anyone can join.”
During the past year’s protests its adherents have destroyed banks, trashed public property, thrown petrol bombs and attacked police with stones and clubs. But Elizabeth says that is merely “a reaction to violence by the police, who always hit first.”
“A recent Pew poll found that 61% of respondents believed hosting the World Cup is a ‘bad thing’ ‘because it takes money away from public services.’”
A particularly representative series of events unfolded on June 5, one week before kickoff. While Dilma and FIFA president Joseph Blatter expressed their confidence in Brazil’s ability to put on the “Cup of all Cups,” thousands of homeless workers marched peacefully on the São Paulo Arena as police clashed with striking subway workers nearby.
One of the strikers reportedly told a police officer, “Put the gun down. There are only workers here. We’re workers just like you.”
That same day at a concert in the city, the audience cursed out Dilma over her handling of the World Cup preparations and popular rapper Marcelo Falcão told the crowd the following:
“The legacy that comes with this Cup is a very vile one…[W]e love soccer, but for the first time we have to be honest…In all reality [society] doesn’t have the necessary health, education and all it needs in terms of security and transportation, amongst other things…I am standing by the entire country who wanted something good…If it’s not good, I’m not going to [applaud].” This level of discontentment is remarkable given the complex and deeply-rooted cultural and political history of soccer in Brazil, especially with regard to race and class. As former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio “Lula” da Silva said without hyperbole when his country was chosen as the future host of the world’s most-watched sporting event in 2007, ”Soccer is more than a sport for us, it’s a national passion.”
O Jogo Bonito
In 1888, around the same time that soccer was introduced to Brazil by upper-class British expatriates, it became the last country in the Americas to abolish slavery. After importing approximately 40% of the African people who were kidnapped and shipped to the Americas during that era, the post-abolition government subsidized a racial miscegenation program known as “branqueamento” (“whitening”) that brought an influx of working-class immigrants from various European countries to Brazil during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. These white European laborers introduced to Brazil’s black and brown working class what soccer demi-god Pelé would later call “o jogo bonito“ (“the beautiful game”). It should be mentioned that unlike the post-abolition United States, Brazil did not enforce a system of legal segregation or discrimination after it did away with slavery. Race in Brazil has been defined socially, by appearance, not legally or officially, by heritage. As Thomas Skidmore wrote in his 1992 essay ”Fact and Myth: Discovering a Racial Problem in Brazil;” The result was a system of social stratification that differed sharply from the rigid color bifurcation in the U.S. (both before and after slavery) and in Europe’s African colonies. There was and is a color…spectrum on which clear lines were often not drawn. Between a “pure” black and a very light mulatto there are numerous gradations, as reflected in the scores of racial labels (many pejorative) in common Brazilian usage.
Echoing Roberto Damatta‘s 1991 discourse on Brazilian society’s classist and racist “authoritarian rituals,” Joaquim Barbosa, the first black judge to sit on the country’s Supreme Federal Court, put it more simply, but still poignantly, for The Guardianin 2012; “Racism in Brazil is well hidden, subtle and unspoken…It is nevertheless extremely violent.” For years, soccer in Brazil had been enjoyed almost exclusively by wealthy, mostly British elites, but the sport’s simplicity made it an accessible activity for poor laborers with very little disposable income. The formation of recreational clubs and leagues in the first decades of the 20th century was actually encouraged and sometimes financially supported by employers who were happy to have their workers playing and watching soccer rather than organizing with the radical socialist and anarchist groups that were emerging around that time.
With the active encouragement of the capital-owning class and without any other sports to compete with it, soccer rapidly became the country’s national pastime. In 1923, more than two decades before Jackie Robinson broke the color line in American baseball, the Vasco de Gama soccer club in Rio de Janeiro fielded a team consisting primarily of black and mixed-race athletes. The squad went on to win the city championship that year, breaking the color line in Brazilian soccer with emphasis. As Joseph A. Page writes in his 1996 ethnography The Brazilians, the sport was inherently “suited to the Brazilian temperament…[of] individual and collective self-expression…Soccer seemed to merge sport and samba,” a traditional style of Afro-Brazilian music and dance. For Page, “the improvisational style of Brazilian soccer” derived from “the Brazilian way of overcoming poverty” – a communal effort rooted in mutual reciprocity – a sort of metaphor for the model “Brazilian” political society. Futebol & Democracia Racial
In 1930, Uruguay hosted and won the inaugural World Cup, in which Brazil fielded a mixed-race team. They failed to progress past the first round. One of the black players, Fausto dos Santos, “A Maravilha Negra“ (“The Black Wonder”), was widely considered the best Brazilian mid-fielder of his time, but he nonetheless faced racism at home as well as during his brief stint in European leagues in following years.
Just months after Brazil was eliminated from the 1930 Cup, a bloodless military coup brought the authoritarian corporatist Getúlio Vargas to power as president of Brazil. The Vargas regime dissolved congress became a dictatorship in 1937, forcibly crushing out the leftist opposition, including various Afro-Brazilian movements. Still, the 1934 and 1938 World Cup teams (both of which failed to make the finals) fielded black and mulatto players, including Brazil’s biggest star until Pelé, the legendary striker Leônidas da Silva, known as “O Diamante Negro” (“The Black Diamond”), as well as the man who would later “discover” Pelé, Waldemar de Brito.
World War II put international soccer competitions on hold, but brought economic development to Brazil, in large part due to its deepening ties with the United States. As the war wound down, Vargas seemed unable to reconcile being the only South American country to send troops to fight against the Axis dictatorships with the authoritarian nature of his own regime. Beginning around 1943, he attempted to tack to the democratic populist left, but was overthrown by coup in 1945.
Nevertheless, Vargas won election to the Senate in 1946 and the candidate he endorsed, Marshal Eurico Gaspar Dutra, won the presidency. Vargas was elected Dutra’s successor in 1950, espousing an economic policy that consisted essentially of “capitalism with a human face” while un-ironically attacking Dutra’s economic policies for having favored the rich.
1950 was also the year that Brazil hosted the World Cup – the first since the tournament was suspended due to the war and the last to take place in Brazil until this year. Political, economic and athletic hopes were high. In front of some 200,000 fans at the Estádio de Maracanã in Rio de Janeiro – then the largest soccer arena on Earth – the Brazilian national team faced off against Uruguay in the championship match.
Brazil lost, 2 to 1.
“Many Brazilians were willing to believe that their country would never win the World Cup with a racially-mixed society.”
As Page describes it, the 1950 World Cup loss was “a catastrophe the extent of which is difficult for outsiders to grasp.” Citizens dubbed it the Maracanazo, using the same disaster-signifying suffix as the Bogotazo - the1948 assassination of the Colombian populist Liberal politician Jorge Eliécer Gaitán and the ensuing riots which decimated the capital city and killed thousands, ultimately leading to decades of bloody internal conflict. As Page writes:
This tragic loss brought to the surface not only the self-doubt Brazilians have always harbored, but also the racism that lurked beneath their inferiority complex. Both Barbarosa [the goalkeeper] and Bigode [a defender], the principal scapegoats, were dark-skinned, and many Brazilians were willing to believe that their country would never win the World Cup with a racially-mixed society.
At the same time, many Brazilians thought of their country as a “democracia racial” (“racial democracy”) – a society that does not discriminate based on skin color or ethnicity. This ideology essentially dismissed the very notion of racism in Brazil, arguing instead that European miscegenation had ”whitened” Brazilian society to its benefit and that societal inequalities were the result of circumstance, not race.
Dilma showed how entrenched this ideology remains in Brazil in December 2012. Moments before protests broke out against excessive police violence and the upcoming Confederations Cup – the “dry run” for the World Cup – Dilma told a global television audience that Brazil was a country “with no prejudice or exclusion and where there is a respect for human rights.” As discussed further below, the president’s statement was demonstrably untrue, but it reveals Brazil’s ongoing struggle to come to terms with the historical influence of race and class on its modern society. Ordem e Progresso A period of economic and political instability followed the demoralizing 1950 loss, culminating in the suicide of President Vargas in August 1954, just a few weeks after Brazil had been eliminated from that year’s World Cup quarter-finals. Brazil was left to be ruled by tenuous caretaker governments until the administration of President Juscelino Kubitschek, who took office in 1956. With the motto, “50 years of progress in five,” Kubitschek further opened his country to foreign capital and promoted ambitious development projects. One of his most grandiose plans was the construction of the a brand new capital city, Brasilia, completely from scratch in just four years. Kubitschek’s policies helped grow and industrialize the economy, although issues like homelessness, poverty and inequality persisted. As Page put it, Brazilians felt at the time that their economy’s nascent modernization “had not required slavish imitation of foreign models.
[They] could win in their own way.” Brazil won the 1958 World Cup in Sweden – the country’s first international title. Two years after the official inauguration of their new capital city, Brazil picked up their second at the very next tournament in Chile in 1962.
However, the “miracle” began to dawn in 1964 when a United States-backed military coup deposed leftist president and former Vargas Labor Minister, João Goulart. Goulart was succeeded by one of the military officers who had led his ouster, Marshal Humberto de Alencar Castelo Branco. The Branco government proceeded to institute drastic neoliberal economic reforms that resulted in massive unemployment and civil unrest, while carrying out an often violent purging of leftists reminiscent of the Vargas government.
At the 1966 World Cup in England, the Brazilian national team was humiliatingly eliminated in the initial stage, suffering 3-1 losses first to Hungary and then to its former colonial master, Portugal. In 1968, Brazil’s military government dissolved congress and began resorting to assassinations, forced disappearances and torture (with help from the US and the UK) to suppress dissent. Brazil won the World Cup for a third time in 1970, but as Page put it, “the glory soon faded.” Despite relatively strong economic growth under military rule, human rights abuses, inequality, unemployment, poverty and illiteracy continued throughout the dictatorship’s political “abertura” (“opening”) of 1974 and beyond.
O Rei de Futebol
Brazilian soccer legend Edson Arantes do Nascimento, known worldwide as Pelé, plays a particularly allegorical role in the political history of soccer in Brazil. “O Rei do Futebol” (“The King of Soccer”) was born in 1940 in Três Corações, Minas Gerais. He began his professional career at the age of 16 and at 17 he made his debut with Brazil’s first championship-winning squad at the 1958 World Cup. The youngest athlete to ever play in a Cup match, Pelé scored three of the goals that led Brazil to a crushing 5-2 victory in the final game against host country Sweden. Pelé also played on the 1962 championship team and in 1970 he set a record he still holds by becoming the only person to have played on three Cup-winning squads.
Pelé, “APérola Negra” (“The Black Pearl”), is an officially-designated national treasure. He the first black man on the cover of Life magazine and Brazil’s first black minister. In 1967, the combatants in Nigerian civil war called a ceasefire so they could watch Pelé play.
But the dark-skinned Brazilian from a working-class family has been remarkably apolitical as an international soccer superstar, rarely voicing a strong opinion on social or political issues and never openly condemning the atrocities of the Brazilian military dictatorship.
In this regard, Pelé stands in sharp contrast to former national team striker Romário de Souza Faria, who played on the World Cup-winning 1994 and 2002 teams. The dark-skinned soccer star-turned-congressman has been a fierce critic of social inequalities and a strong supporter of the the ongoing protests.
”Pelé has no fucking awareness of what’s going on in this country.”
In June 2013, the infamously apolitical Pelé called on Brazilians to “forget” the anti-Cup protests occurring at that time and to support the national soccer team. Many Brazilians were outraged. Romário said at the time, ”Pelé has no fucking awareness of what’s going on in this country.” Even Pelé’s more recent condemnations of the government’s World Cup preparations failed to recognize both the sources and the scope of the country’s many problems.
In 2011, it was revealed that Pelé had been investigated by Brazilian authorities in 1970 for suspected leftist ties. Despite no evidence of Pelé being involved in any political movements or actions himself, he had allegedly received a manifesto from a government employee seeking amnesty for political prisoners. Whether because of lack of conviction or government intimidation, Pelé kept quiet.
On July 18, 1971 Pelé played his last international match for Brazil against Yugoslavia, a game that ended in a 2-2 draw. Many Brazilians began to view Pelé as a sell-out when he left Brazil (with some help from Henry Kissinger) for the US in 1974, where he earned millions of dollars lending his talent and international prestige, not to a local team his own country, but to the North American Soccer League as a player for the New York Cosmos.
Retorno à Democracia Mirroring the quarter-century of political and economic asphyxiation Brazil underwent during the years of the dictatorship, the country would not win another World Cup until 1994 – a full five years after Fernando Alfonso Collor de Mello became the first directly-elected president since the 1960s.
“The country literally stopped for the final matches - Congress adjourned, schools closed, and businesses shut down…After the victory people poured into the streets creating a noisy carnival of dancing and fireworks. There were no riots. Casualties included those in car accidents caused by inebriated drivers and people with high blood pressure who got sick from excitement.”
The symbolism of winning Brazil’s first post-Pelé Cup – its fourth altogether, another record – on American soil by beating a European country was powerful. Still, the Washington Consensus-style neoliberalization forced upon Brazil by the IMF had already exposed many elements of its economy to the pressures of globalized capitalism, including its beloved national pastime. Only half of the players on the 1994 roster (and only 3 of the starting 11) played professionally for Brazilian club teams. The rest played in European leagues, which paid much higher wages.
At the time, professional soccer was also becoming less accessible to average Brazilians. Workers’ wages were stagnating as the price of admission to local matches rose, and many players were forced to work second jobs to supplement their insufficient salaries. As Lever wrote, “This is a vicious cycle: the more players leave, the worse the quality of regular league competition becomes, and consequently, fewer fans are willing to pay to see their teams.” On the 2014 squad, only four of the 23 athletes play for Brazilian club teams. The rest all play in the European, Russian or Canadian leagues.
Cardoso e Lula
In 1994, the year they once again made soccer history, Brazilians elected the neoliberal former Finance Minister Fernando Henrique Cardoso as president. Cardoso, the son of wealthy Portuguese immigrants, continued privatizing state enterprises and dismantling social programs like education and healthcare. Growth slowed, corruption abounded, crime was on the rise and many of the socially-oriented reforms promised by his administration had been only partially fulfilled or slow to materialize.
After yet another decade of unfulfilled ”free market” promises, the Brazilian people were ready to forge a different path. In June 2002, Brazil broke their own record by winning a fifth World Cup. In October, they chose their fourth directly-elected president since the end of the dictatorship; Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, better known simply as “Lula.”
However, the scope of the change promised by Lula and his “socialist” Worker’s Party (PT) was mitigated by the influence of Brazil’s integration into the global capitalist system – including the $41 billion IMF “aid” package the country had accepted under Cardoso in 1998. By early 2002, capital markets were threatening to pull the plug on the country’s economy if it did not redouble its commitment to neoliberal reform.
Worried that his election as a self-proclaimed socialist could spark a financial attack on the country, Lula and the PT’s campaign rhetoric started to become much more market-friendly. Lula wrote and published an open letter to the Brazilian people during the final days of the 2002 World Cup, expressing his desire to avert a fate similar to that of their soccer arch-rival Argentina (which had been eliminated in the tournament’s first round):
“What is important is that this crisis must be avoided, because it would cause irreparable suffering for the majority of the population. To avoid this crisis it is necessary to understand the margin for maneuver in the short run is small.”
Lula was elected later that year and whatever “crisis” was averted was replaced by an IMF-dictated economic policy that helped spawn a regressive social spending system. Nevertheless, when Lula handed off the presidency in 2011 to his former chief of staff Dilma Rousseff, he had an 83 percent approval rating – the highest of any president since the dictatorship.
As Favelas Nearly four years into the Rousseff administration, more than half of Brazilians view her has a bad influence on the country. Economic growth has slowed. The poverty rate has barely budged after falling from 35% during Lula’s first term to around 20% by the time he left office. Similarly, unemployment has hovered around 5% after being halved from 12% to 6% during the Lula years. Brazil, along with many of its Latin American neighbors, still ranks among the worst countries in the world for income inequality.
According to recent studies the vast majority of Brazilians believe racism exists in their society, but only a tiny percentage consider themselves to be racist. While few people still refer to Brazil as a “racial democracy”, the essence of the ideology still survives despite a decade-long crawl toward racial affirmative action policies in public education and employment.
In 2011, the year Dilma took office, government census data showed that people who identify as “white” are a minority in Brazil for the first time since the 19th century. Government studies have shown that people who identify as black or brown make incomes that are less than half those of their white counterparts and they are much more likely to lack access to basic services like security, education, healthcare and sanitation. One particularly illustrative example of this race-class conflation can be found in the illegal settlements, known as “favelas,” that exist in most major Brazilian cities. Migrants from rural Brazil, many of them of black or indigenous ancestry, flooded into rapidly-industrializing urban areas during the early 20th century. Combined with the government-sponsored importation of European labor under the “whitening” program, this created an urban housing crisis that Brazil has never truly solved. According to government statistics, 1.8 million of Brazil’s roughly 200 million people are homeless. More than 1 million are estimated to live in favelas. “These protests are an exhortation to the government to finally prioritize ‘equality.’” Many favela residents have no legal title to the land or structures they occupy, which has enabled the government to carry out forcible evictions of entire neighborhoods to make way for “development” projects in recent decades. In 2011, the Special Rapporteur of the UN Human Rights Council on the right to adequate housing, Raquel Rolnik (a native Brazilian), expressed concern with “a pattern of lack of transparency, consultation, dialogue, fair negotiation, and participation of the affected communities in processes concerning evictions undertaken or planned in connection with the World Cup and Olympics.”
Antagonizing the World Cup has a deep cultural significance, but also a more obvious motivation. The state has razed people’s houses to build soccer stadium parking lots. The police have chased the poor away from the beaches and hotels and shopping districts back to the slums, only to invade and occupy their neighborhoods in order to “pacify” them. The government has spent nearly $1 billion on World Cup security alone while many favelas still lack basic utilities.
Brazil is not, as Dilma put it, a country “with no prejudice or exclusion and where there is a respect for human rights,” but it is striving to become one, as it has been for a long time. In his famous essay “Do You Know Who You’re Talking To?!” Brazilian sociologist Roberto DaMatta attempts to define what he calls the “Distinction between Individual and Person in Brazil:” “In my opinion, the same basic process of constructing the individual or the person [in Brazil] takes place during great public festivals like Carnival, when persons become individuals and submit to the general rules of the revelry – of the reign of the clown king Momus – and accept their status as anonymous human beings. By the same token of inversion, anonymous individuals cease to be merely members of the labor force and marginal workers and become persons: noblemen, singers, dancers, and characters of a national drama. The same thing happens in futebol (soccer), where by identifying with their teams (and clubs), fans transform themselves into persons entitled to certain rights in victory and defeat. The prize here, as in Carnival, is highly significant: it is the right to hierarchize the position of equals or to change the position of superiors, the drama always having as motif the relationships between equality and hierarchy.” DaMatta goes on to describe Brazilian society as “midway between equality and hierarchy”, “satisfied with its modern set of universal laws but framed in a markedly hierarchical skeleton…[wherein] the codes of personal relationships are the structural components of the social structure, not mere ‘survivals’ from the past that will soon be swept away by the introduction of modern political and economic institutions.”
Many favela residents volunteer their limited spare time to help their neighbors build, repair, and upgrade their homes in a practice known as a “mutirão“. Participatory budgeting projects begun under the Lula administration showed the benefits of democratic community participation in spending decisions. Giant state projects rife with injustice, corruption and mismanagement like the World Cup debacle only serve to remind Brazilians that in many key moments of the country’s history, the government has been an impediment to true progress.
At the individual level, the protests may be about evictions, security, wages or any number of other things. In totality they express a deep desire for the government to rectify the injustices of the past, rather than forever pursuing future greatness while blinding itself to a centuries-long legacy of political and economic exclusion based on race and class. An anonymous Black Bloc protester described his interpretation of the zeitgeist to presidential race is the centrist social democrat Aecio Neves, who garners about half as much support as the incumbent. Despite significant gains in recent years against poverty and unemployment, a vast majority of Brazilians disapprove of the current economic situation.
On June 7, Dilma claimed that the protests were part of a “systemic campaign” not necessarily against the World Cup but against some nebulous “us.” Pace Dilma, Brazilians’ discontent stems largely not from what the government has done, but from what it has not. Brazil is ready to move forward with socialism, not to retreat from it. These protests are an exhortation to the government to finally prioritize “equality,” one of the bedrock principles of socialism, over the capitalistic values of “growth” and “power” for the first time in Brazil’s history.
In this the final installment, talented author Christine Amsden brings the infamous Scot vs. Blackwood family feud to a close, but not without filling her story with enough intrigue, mystery, twists and surprises to keep you thinking about the characters for a long time.
And this is, really, the biggest draw in these stories, the characters, especially Cassie and Evan. Cassie has been such a likable protagonist throughout the series, smart and strong and opinionated, yet caring and warm-hearted. Evan –yes, arrogant, condescending and overprotective Evan — has also been the perfect hero. They were school sweethearts…until Evan’s father stole her powers from her and gave them to Evan, thus starting a conflict between them that brought them to the depths of despair, especially for Cassie.
There are many subplots in this book, but the main problem happens when Cassie’s father is killed and she and her family think that Evan’s dad is the one responsible. The primary storyline has to do with finding out if this is true or not and, if not, then who, in fact, is responsible.
There are many surprises in Stolen Dreams, and I enjoyed all of them. Fans of romance will especially enjoy the focus on Cassie and Evan’s relationship. I loved the ending. In sum, this was a wonderful series, and the author delivered a satisfying closure. I wonder what she will come up next? I’m certainly going to be on the lookout for her future books.
My dear friend Sharon Lovejoy found STAR STUFF at the American Library Association's convention in Las Vegas and posted these images to FB. She is there promoting some of her books and her first novel called Running out of Night- which is one of those rare stories that truly transports you to another time in history. Thank you Sharon!Add a Comment
CB: What do you remember about the first video game you ever played?
GP: It was awesome. And it was Pong. I remember thinking that it was fun to be able to use the TV in a different and interactive way… and that you got to play with a second person, too. [See Greg with his dad, below, playing an unknown game on a borrowed console that grown-up Greg cannot identify.]
CB: What games did you play the most when you were a kid? What did you love about them?
GP: I was actually more of a pinball buff, and we didn’t have our own home console… but still, I mean, if there was a Space Invaders machine around? Well, I was on it. Missile Command was a sore spot for me because, seriously, the controls just never worked well. (No!!! It wasn’t that I was no good at the game! The controls just didn’t work well.) But I played it anyway, along with Pac-Man and some Q*bert and Marble Madness and Galaga and Centipede. But not Asteroids. I just stunk at that. In all cases what I loved was that there was lots of action, sometimes some strategy (and often that you had to think about on the fly), serious hand-eye coordination, and what seemed like a lot of variation. Plus, games are fun.
CB: What role do games play in your life today?
GP: I still love video games, though now I mostly play them on my phone or via the Xbox. I also really limit my time on them because I know, truly know, that I could easily play for hours, particularly since I have a need to finish/beat games! I play games with my kids, too, and watch them do things that I cannot do (my visual-spatial skills are a generation behind!). I still prefer games that require some strategy and thought rather than just pure shooters, and marvel at the way graphics have evolved. And most of all, I love the way games have evolved to tell stories and create worlds… or allow the player to do the same. It’s a rich, fun sandbox out there! (Though I still play Space Invaders whenever I run into an old machine.)
Every Sunday I provide videos and valuable links to the Truth or Tradition teachings. We’ve been following the Truth or Tradition teachings for many years now and they have truly blessed our family. We have found peace and happiness through our beliefs and we walk confidently for God. My hope, by passing on this information to you, is that what you find here, or on the Truth or Tradition website, will guide you to a better, more blessed and abundant life.
In The Guardian last weekend Matt Haigcommented on the publishing industry's obsession with jumping on bandwagons. I am not going to repeat everything he said, but one phrase in particular sent a chill of recognition through me and so prompted me to write this post. He said that we are heading towards a situation where 'the once kaleidoscopic book world risks becoming fifty shades of safe'.
Those words could so easily apply to the majority of books bearing my name, I thought. After all, I am the woman who has 'churned out' (as some would see it) fourteen animal books, and my publisher now wants more of the same. Or, failing that, the Next Big Thing, which frankly is rather an Unknown Unknown, so what I am supposed to do about that?
Thing is, I am not sure I want to try and second-guess the market; a fickle thing at the best of times. I am also clear I do not want to write more of the same, just as I am not convinced that readers necessarily want to read more of the same.
I know I am not alone as a writer in feeling that the industry seems to have changed in the blink of an eye. So much has happened so fast in the way that books are sold in to retailers and sold on to the public that it was bound to affect writers and the way that publishers deal with us. However, I suppose I was not prepared for the current approach which seems very much to be along the lines of 'books as product'. I am naive, I guess. The minute that supermarkets were in on the game it was unlikely that books would be perceived to be anything other than 'product'. If you are Mr Tesco and you are looking at what books to stock, you are only interested in how the last title from a particular author performed. In other words, no matter how much blood, sweat and tears went into your new novel, no matter how good it is, how exciting, how fresh, no matter how you have performed over a number of years in the market, if your last title did not shift a respectable number of units, you will not find your name on the shelves next time around. And you will certainly not have room to develop as a writer because the market views books much as it views tins of beans - if they taste good and sell well as they are, why change them?
Except that books are not tins of beans - we all know that.
It probably sounds as though I don't understand the publishers' point of view. I do. Things have changed for them, too, obviously. Faced with the demands of the Mr Tescos of this world, 'building an author' is sadly a luxury most publishers cannot now afford, so I can hardly blame them for wanting to make money out of 'fifty shades of safe'.
However, I wanted to write this post to see how others feel. Are you expected to come up with 'the next you', i.e. more of the same, reliable writing that conveniently places you where marketing and sales people are confident of how to pitch you in their publishing plan? Or are you throwing caution to the wind and using this climate to your advantage, to write what you really want to write, oblivious to the increasingly bland demands of the marketeers, and sending it out with all fingers and toes crossed? Is this the way forward: to write what we really want and hope it gets into the hands of readers? Or is this professional suicide?
I have decided to take the risk: to write a couple of books that have been swilling around in the back of my mind for a while, but which I have not had the confidence to develop. It may all end in a damp squib of disappointment and rejection. But I cannot sit around waiting for the crystal ball of the market place to make up its mind which tin of beans is going to be the next big thing. And I certainly do not want to be stocked on the shelves with 'fifty shades of safe'.
(with apologies to Matt Haig for nicking his excellent phrase)