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73726. YA Lit History of Parent Problem

I thought you would be interested in reading this excellent article by Julie Just.  It appeared  the New York Times on April 1st.  Julie talks about how parents have evolved in children’s books.  Maybe having a good parent doesn’t lean itself to a good story, because it seems like we are punching up our manuscripts at the parents’ expense.

The Parent Problem in Young Adult Lit


Published: April 1, 2010


It took a surprisingly long time for bad parents to show up in children’s books. Did you ever notice how few there are, compared with, say, the self-centered and murderous parents in Greek mythology or the Bible? In American literature, children’s and adult books didn’t sharply diverge as categories until the 20th century, so it’s not clear whether we should even include that mean, kidnapping drunk, Pap Finn.


Maybe you can think of more recent examples than “Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” (1885) — the gallant, no-good father from “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn” (1943)? — but in the classic stories, from “Cinderella” to “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz,” the hero’s parents are more likely to be absent or dead than cruel or incompetent. In fact, it’s the removal of the adult’s protective presence that kick-starts the story, so the orphan can begin his “triumphant rise” (as Dave Eggers put it in his memoir, “A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius,” after it actually happened to him). In the move to independence, the parent is all but forgotten, or occasionally pictured in a fond glow of love and regret.

And then the young adult novel came along.

Judging from The New York Times children’s best-seller list and librarian-approved selections like the annual “Best Books for Young Adults,” the bad parent is now enjoying something of a heyday. It would be hard to come up with an exact figure from the thousands of Y.A. novels published every year, but what’s striking is that some of the most sharply written and critically praised works reliably feature a mopey, inept, distracted or ready-for-rehab parent, suggesting that this has become a particularly resonant figure.

In a typical scene, from “Once Was Lost,” by Sara Zarr, a dad whose wife is at a “recovery center” after a D.U.I. needs help shopping at a supermarket. He shouldn’t be filling the cart with vegetables, his 15-year-old daughter says. “It’s all . . . ingredients,” she explains patiently. “Who’s going to cook this stuff?” He stands by in confusion as she selects precooked chicken breasts. In Natalie Standiford’s “How to Say Goodbye in Robot,” the mother — a haunting figure — has become strangely accident-prone, tripping over things, “catching her hair in the fan”; “We were used to Mom hurting herself,” the narrator says.

Sometimes the parents are very, very busy, and sometimes they’ve simply checked out. The husband of the accident-prone mother is never home at night. It’s not that he’s with another woman; he’s working late at the Johns Hopkins bio lab. In Laurie Halse Anderson’s best-selling “Wintergirls,” about a dangerously anorexic high school senior, the mom is a sought-after surgeon too pressed to notice that her malnourished daughter is a bit shorter than she was fou

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73727. The Fox and The Wolf Page

You can paint in green, purple and orange, but try telling the scanner that.

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73728. Blurb

Here's a re-illustration for a birthday card. I'm still not very comfortable with watercoloring, but I'm really proud of this little goldfish. What do you think?

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73729. Illustration Friday- Dip

Lanterns being dipped into the water during the Japanese Obon season.

For this week's illustration, I decided to experiment and try to do the entire painting in Photoshop. It was fun but it just felt a little clunky. It certainly didn't take any less time than just painting it on paper. It may have even taken longer.

15 Comments on Illustration Friday- Dip, last added: 4/9/2010
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73730. some like it hot (and some don’t)

A special post for Marilyn Monroe fans (and you know who you are).
Read about her HERE on the josh pincus is crying blog.

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73731. Flight to New Place

More illustrations from my blog: House of Coffeebean

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73732. Early sketch for Aurelie's Journey

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73733. Owl and Friendly Night Light

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73734. Lou Fine Spirit Page

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73735. STUNNED - my reaction to the Eisner nomination

Yesterday, my literary agent, Rebecca Sherman, called. Being that it wasn't a scheduled call, it meant that it was either something really bad or really good. I braced myself. The nominations for the 2010 Eisner Awards had been posted and Lunch Lady and the Cyborg Substitute had been nominated under the category of "Best Publication for Kids". Huh? I couldn't believe it. With so many great comics for kids being published? An Eisner? But that award is for really good comics. There must be a mistake. But no--it's true. Lunch Lady and the Cyborg Substitute has been nominated for an Eisner Award. I was stunned. I am stunned. I've been on Cloud 10 ever since hearing the news.

For my friends in the children's book world, an Eisner Award is like the Newbery or Caldecott of comics. (Which is an ironic way of describing an award, since the Newbery and Caldecott often need to be explained to non-book people as the Oscars of children's books.)

There are some amazing books up for the award. In the category that LL is nominated, The Secret Science Alliance and the Copycat Crook is also up for an award -- and I love that book. Adore that book. And the comic creator up for the most awards? My former RISD professor, David Mazzucchelli. He was one of the most influential teachers I had. I took his comic book class in my last semester and the lessons that he taught on visual storytelling are implemented in my work on a daily basis. His book Asterios Polyp is brilliant and breathtaking. Perhaps I will get to see these old friends and more at the San Diego Comic Con, when the winners are announced at an awards gala.

To see all of the nominations, click here.

Here is a description of the Eisner Award from Comic Con International:

Named for acclaimed comics creator the Will Eisner, the awards are in their 22nd year of highlighting the best publications and creators in comics and graphic novels. The 2010 judging panel consists of academic Craig Fischer (associate professor of English, Appalachian State University), librarian Francisca Goldsmith (staff development instructor/consultant, Infopeople), reviewer John Hogan (GraphicNovelReporter.com), writer James Hudnall (Harsh Realm, The Psycho), and retailer Wayne Winsett (Time Warp Comics, Boulder, Colorado).

Ballots with this year's nominees will be going out in mid-April to comics creators, editors, publishers, and retailers. A downloadable pdf of the ballot will also be available online, and a special website has been set up for online voting. The results in all categories will be announced in a gala awards ceremony on the evening of Friday, July 23 at Comic-Con International.

Will Eisner is a comic book genius and a trailblazer. It is such an honor to be nominated for an award that is given in his name.

2 Comments on STUNNED - my reaction to the Eisner nomination, last added: 4/11/2010
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73736. Origami Yoda

Origami Yoda, originally uploaded by chadwbecks.

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73737. Los pukekos

This afternoon we went for a short walk alongside Heathcote river and saw lots of birds.  On the way back home I managed to photograph the funny bird pukeko and a kingfisher, it stood on a branch for a long time… modeling for us.
Esta tarde fuimos a dar un paseo al lado del rio Heathcote y vimos muchos de pajaros. De vuelta a casa pude fotografiar al gracioso pukeko y a un martin pescador, estuvo en una rama, quieto, por mucho tiempo… como si quisiera modelar para nosotros.

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73738. Welcome to the Poetry Friday Roundup!

The Secret of Your Name by David Bouchard, art by Dennis J. Weber, fiddle music by John Arcand (Red Deer Press, 2010)Yes, this week’s Poetry Friday is here and we’re very excited to be hosting for the first time. Please leave your links in the Comments Section below – I’ll be checking them throughout the day and updating this post.

My offering comes from David Bouchard’s recent book, The Secret of Your Name/ Kiimooch ka shinikashooven (Red Deer Press, 2010). David only found out about his Métis roots relatively recently. In this poem he addresses his Nokum, his Grandmother. There is apology and regret for all that has been lost in the passing years – but there is hope too, because now that he does know, there is still time to discover his heritage and to proclaim it to the world. The beauty of this poem is that it is very personal to David’s own heart but also speaks for many, many Métis today, who did not, or still do not, know of their First Nations blood. And look very carefully at the beautiful cover (although I know it’s hard in a small picture like this) – Dennis J. Weber has drawn together in this one image all the longing, regret and eventual harmony with the past that comes through in the poem.

I’m sorry that I cannot sing
The songs that were passed down to you
The songs you heard your mother sing
The songs that I should own…

I’m sorry but I cannot sing
I did not know so I did not learn
I have yet to hear a single song
Sung by a Chippewa…

But I will go and seek them out
Then teach them to my children [...]

Our family will come to learn
You were a Menominee.

The book comes with an accompanying CD, with narration in English by David and in Michif by Norman Fleury, and with accompanying music, played by David on the flute and the “Master of the Métis Fiddle”, John Arcand. You can listen to the English version, including the insightful Foreward, here, while viewing the stunning illustrations. Our current issue of PaperTigers focuses on Canadian Aboriginal Children’s Literature and features a fascinating interview with David – definitely worth reading!

And now for the feast of verse that is Poetry Friday…

Danika from TeachingBooks.net shares audio of Robert Frost himself performing his poem “Birches.” How exciting to share this poet’s voice and rhythm with students – and indeed for all of us to hear him! –

and Tabatha has another audio offering, with Maggi Smith reciting Matthew Arnold’s Mortality: what a combination! And she also has a little Alan Rickman bonus too!

Mary Lee, who is one of those awe-inspiring bloggers posting an original poem throughout this Poetry Month of April, has a beautiful poem today inspired by “something a child said to me at recess” – and it’s already inspired a poetry risposte in her Comments; I’m sure there’ll

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73739. Puppy Love

Painted this one a few weeks ago on graph paper.  It certainly didn't take watercolor the way illustration board does, but the squares were fun :)  I also painted with a 99¢ kids watercolor set (Side note: hit "option" and then the number 4 if you ever want to make a cent symbol on the mac).  See if you can find the spot where I ran out of the color I was using for the squares and had to mix up a new one that didn't quite match.

I'm realizing more and more the relaxing nature of tedious work.  i.e. the boxes.  It's like you go into your own little world while doing it.  It's fun, give it a try.


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73740. See you next week!

Off to Seattle tomorrow for SCBWI, yay! I do so love an SCBWI weekend. As always, the night before going somewhere, here I am at 1 am trying to get organized: printing out my speech, wondering what to wear while giving that speech (I'm thinking polka dots), etc. Getting sleepy, though.

Have a wonderful weekend. Maybe I'll see you in Seattle?

(P.S. Check out this cool post on p.o.v. in Blackbringer. Thank you, Allyson. Awesome blog!)

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73741. Flight


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73742. 24 hours of cloth diapering

Cloth diapering is something I planned on doing with my first. Until our well dried up that fall, and doing any laundry consisted of trekking to a laundromat. So, when we got pregnant with our little girl I felt like it could be redemption time. So, I researched. I looked everywhere. I found my 'guru' in very close friend who has successfully, and consistently had both her boys in cloth diapers.

They loaned me some and I bought some used over the internet. All are in great shape and so soft. I have tried Kushies, and did not like them, and a few others - but these ones are the Sandy MotherEase model. They are awesome. So yesterday, knowing I would be home for the next 24 hours I thought I would give it a go. Up until now I had been using them, but only when convenient. Youknow, it got easier and easier throughout the day to use them. And then I ran out, I have about 16 diapers right now. Not enough for a newborn who pees and poops constantly. She seemed very comfortable in them, and once I got used to her having a giant bum - they looked really sweet. The only thing is, as soon as she goes, she freaks... she HATES being wet. Good for toddler potty training, not so great for a newborn, it made her slightly grumpy.

Anyway, suffice to say, I loved it - and I am proud of making it through the day. Not to mention I felt guilty whenI had to used the PC green Disposables again. I need a few more diapers, though I may go a size up, since at 5 weeks she is already 12 lbs. The bummis wraps are so sweet, but the small barely fits! So now I need to contact my diaper lady and see what she has for me now... I want to find the flowered bummi wraps...

My little boy is also so proud... he loves to help with the wraps and says every time - see mom, we just saved a garbage diaper : )

Thanks Elaine.

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73743. iScratch

Ok, so I caved in and made a strip about the ipad! Now, I am green with envy, so if anyone wants to donate one...just say'n.

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73744. Question for you illustrators

Hello possums, I'm looking for a little advice & thought you would be the ones to ask.  I keep searching for practical instruction & info on illustrating for children, but there's hardly anything where I live.  So I looked for online courses in children's book illustration - there's a diploma at the London Art College that looks okay (it's not an academic credit as in University, but I am more after something practical, anyway).  Have any of you tried online illustration courses, or had experience of them (good or bad)?

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73745. Listen To Me, My Brothers!

"Brothers and sisters, we have been hidden from the world for far to long. It is time that we stand up and show who the runners and rulers are. It is time that we, we that are those here, rise up and claim the world which is rightfully ours!"

Been awhile since my last submission. I've a few hand drawn ones that just never made it to the scanner. This is for Ancient Civilization. I guess these alien-people-things live underground somewhere and are something like the Illuminati. I don't know, with me you can't ever tell where things come from.

This started as a poor attempt at making a odd looking Greek type of building but turned into the above. With me it always turns into either people or aliens. Something about the odd shapes of "lifeforms" that make my eye see them in a jumbled mess of nothing. At one point that image was the two below images. Do you see what I was originally trying for?

Then I tried to add stairs and an entrance to another room. This didn't work, though, as the rest of the image was flat. However the second I filled that center piece in white and zoomed out, I decided to make a little experiment with the image.

Two or three steps later and we've the final product. I should make more "step-by-step" things. Otherwise how I get to my nonsense makes no sense, at all. The very fist thing I "drew" (point and click =/= drawing) was one of the column pieces, then copy-pasted it into a column (after fliping it upside down and backwards) then copy-pasted the column itself.

Hooray for paint oddness!

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The Five Most Overused Children's Book Plots - ha! http://ow.ly/1rnfp

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73747. Julia Guther

Julia Guther / Grain Edit

Love these cutout illustrations and typography from Germany-based Julia Guther. Her work is minimal, colorful, and she uses a wide (and interesting) range of media.

If you speak German, you’ll want to check this video interview with Julia. If you don’t speak German, you can at least see some more of her work.

Head over to her site.

Julia Guther / Grain Edit

Julia Guther / Grain Edit

Julia Guther / Grain Edit

Julia Guther / Grain Edit

Julia Guther / Grain Edit

Via Mannelli.

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Vintage kids book Mi Diccionario is in the Grain Edit Shop

Grain Edit recommends Colo Pro A font designed by Font Fabric. Check it out here.

©2009 Grain Edit - catch us on Facebook and twitter

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73748. Losing Light by Billy Polard

Musician/animator Billy Polard made this music video for his song Losing Light entirely on his Nintendo DSi using an animation program called Flipnote Studio. Says Polard: “Two weeks and hundreds of drawings later, not to mention how tiny the screen on the dsi is, here it is…”

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73749. Illustration Friday- Dip

Lanterns being dipped into the water during the Japanese Obon season.

For this week's illustration, I decided to experiment and try to do the entire painting in Photoshop. It was fun but it just felt a little clunky. It certainly didn't take any less time than just painting it on paper. It may have even taken longer.

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73750. Itemizing

Taxes on the brain, blergh.

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