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1001. Armchair Cybils -- Sharing Reviews #1

I am super-excited that Hope is The Word is hosting the Armchair Cybils Reading Challenge!!!

Come back here on the following dates to link up your Armchair Cybils posts:
  • October 15 — your “I’m participating!” post
  •  November 15–reviews
  •  December 15–reviews
  •  January 1–shortlist thoughts
  •  January 15– reviews and thoughts
  • February 14–reviews and thoughts about the winners
Elementary/MG Speculative Fiction

1) A Snicker of Magic. Natalie Lloyd.
2) Gabriel Finley and the Raven's Riddle. George Hagen.
3) Greenglass House by Kate Milford (review coming in December)
4) Oliver and the Seawigs. Philip Reeve
5) Ophelia and the Marvelous Boys. Karen Foxlee.
6) Platypus Police Squad: The Ostrich Conspiracy. Jarrett J. Krosoczka.
7) Seven Stories Up. Laurel Snyder.
8) Seven Wild Sisters: A Modern Fairy Tale. Charles de Lint.
9) Tesla's Attic by Neal Shusterman (review coming in January)
10) Boundless by Kenneth Oppel (review coming in January)
11) The Children of the King. Sonya Hartnett.
12) The Fourteenth Goldfish. Jennifer L. Holm.
13) The Ghosts of Tupelo Landing by Sheila Turnage (review coming later in November)
14) The Glass Sentence. S.E. Grove
15) The Night Gardener. Jonathan Auxier.
16) The Orphan and the Mouse. Martha Freeman.
17) The Shadow Throne. Jennifer A. Nielsen.
18) Thursdays with the Crown. (Castle Glower #3) Jessica Day George.
19) Winterfrost by Michelle Houts (review coming in December)

11/15/14: My favorite in this category so far is...Jonathan Auxier's The Night Gardener. I loved it SO MUCH, I've read it TWICE!!! My second favorite would have to be Laurel Snyder's Seven Stories Up.



YA Speculative Fiction

1) A Creature of Moonlight. Rebecca Hahn.
2) Allegiant by Veronica Roth (reviewed in 2013)
3) Dangerous by Shannon Hale (reviewed in 2013)
4)Don't Even Think About It. Sarah Mlynowski.
5) Free to Fall. Lauren Miller.
6) The Glass Casket. McCormick Templeman.
7 Kiss of Deception. (The Remnant Chronicles #1) Mary E. Pearson.
8) The Living by Matt de La Pena
9) Independent Study. Joelle Charbonneau.

11/15/14: My favorite in this category so far is... Lauren Miller's Free to Fall. My second pick would be either The Glass Casket or Kiss of Deception.
 

Middle Grade Fiction

1) Absolutely Almost. Lisa Graff.
2)Courage for Beginners. Karen Harrington.
3) Half A Chance. Cynthia Lord.
4) I Kill the Mockingbird. Paul Acampora.
5) My Friend the Enemy by Daniel Smith (review coming in December)
6) Tell Me. Joan Bauer.
7) The Actual & Truthful Adventures of Becky Thatcher. Jessica Lawson.
8) The Madman of Piney Woods. Christopher Paul Curtis
9) The Magic Trap. (Lemonade War #5) Jacqueline Davies.
10) The Summer I Saved the World in 65 Days. Michele Weber Hurwitz.
11) The Swift Boys & Me. Kody Keplinger.
12) West of the Moon. Margi Preus.
13) What the Moon Said. Gayle Rosengren.

11/15/14: My favorite in this category so far is... Lisa Graff's Absolutely Almost. My second pick would be either I Kill the Mockingbird or The Actual & Truthful Adventures of Becky Thatcher.


YA Nonfiction

1) The Port Chicago 50 by Steve Sheinkin
2) The Family Romanov by Candace Fleming
3) Hidden Like Anne Frank by Marcel Prins
4) Boundaries by Sally M. Walker (review coming in December)

11/15/14: My favorite in this category so far is... Steve Sheinkin's The Port Chicago 50.


YA Fiction

1) A Time to Dance by Padma Venkatraman (review coming later in November)
2) Lady Thief. A.C. Gaughen.
3) Love by the Morning Star. Laura L. Sullivan.
4) The Chapel Wars. Lindsey Leavitt.
5) The Impossible Knife of Memory. Laurie Halse Anderson.
6) We Were Liars. E. Lockhart.

11/15/14: My favorite in this category so far is... A.C. Gaughen's Lady Thief. My second pick would be The Chapel Wars by Lindsey Leavitt.


Elementary/MG Nonfiction

1) A Home for Mr. Emerson by Barbara Kerley
2) Angel Island by Russell Freedman
3) Ivan the Remarkable True Story by Katherine Applegate (review coming in December)
4) Josephine by Patricia Hruby Powell
5) Sniffer Dogs by Nancy Castaldo
6) Stand There by Susan Goldman Rubin (review coming later in November)
7) The Girl from the Tar Paper School by Teri Kanefield

11/15/14: My favorite in this category so far is... Katherine Applegate's Ivan The Remarkable True Story of the Shopping Mall Gorilla.


Picture Books

1) E-I-E-I-O by Judy Sierra
2) Frances Dean Who Loved To Dance by Birgitta Sif
3) Help! We Need A Title by Herve Tullet
4) I Know An Old Lady Who Swallowed a Dreidel by Caryn Yacowitz
5) I'm My Own Dog by David Ezra Stein
6) Max and the Won't Go To Bed Show
7) Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch by Anne Isaacs
8)  The Book With No Pictures. B.J. Novak.
9) The Good Pie Party by Liz Garton Scanlon
10) Weasels by Elys Dolan
11) The Pigeon needs a bath by Mo Willems

11/15/14: My favorite in this category so far is... Mark Sperring's Max and the Won't Go To Bed Show. My second favorite is Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch.



© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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1002. Booksellers and Librarians

When it comes to marketing, booksellers and librarians are an author's best friend. 

http://publishingperspectives.com/2014/09/an-authors-best-friends-booksellers-and-librarians/

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1003. Cow Night Light

Thank you Pregnancy & Newborn Magazine for featuring my cow night light with Oopsy Daisy in this month's magazine.


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1004. Rules of BRAINSTORM

I love the posts over at Tara Lazar's site every November during PiBoIdMo! Some inspire me by presenting a new way to look at creativity, and some are reminders of things that I already knew, but seem to forget about when trying to create!

The last few on not censoring yourself inspired me to write this post. Back in the days when I was a graphic designer in the advertising/communications field, we would have brainstorming sessions for new projects. We would have to repeat the rules about 10 times each session because someone would say, "that's stupid," or "don't write that one down!" That breaks the first rule – anything goes – no censoring! You gotta get the bad ideas out somehow!

Here's a quote from the great Chuck Jones about creating art:

 

Switch out ‘drawings’ with ‘ideas’, or any creative endeavor.

Here is my list of Brainstorming Rules written in deference to the Movie Fight Club, and the Rules of Fight Club:

Rules of BRAINSTORM
  • 1st RULE:  You do not censor ANY ideas in BRAINSTORM.
  • 2nd RULE: EVERY IDEA gets written down in BRAINSTORM.
  • 3rd RULE: No Judgey Judgersons! If someone says 'that's stupid' or 'don't write that down' BRAINSTORM is over for them, and escort them out of the room. (This includes your inner voices!)
  • 4th RULE: Only 15 minutes for each BRAINSTORM. (If nothing comes out of it, take and break and come back to it.)
  • 5th RULE: In BRAINSTORM, quantity trumps quality. The more ideas, the better.
  • 6th RULE: Build upon other ideas. Take an idea you wrote down and add to it.
  • 7th RULE: Sketch you ideas out. If you just thought 'but I can't draw' please leave the BRAINSTORM. (Back to 3rd RULE of BRAINSTORM!)
  • 8th RULE: Wild ideas are welcome. This is the time to think of the wildest ideas you can imagine! Having toys and puzzles around may help get your juices flowing.

Good luck with your ideas!

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1005. Black Tower Comics: THE CASE BOOK OF CHUNG LING SOO & Wilberforce Of The Yard



 
Writer: Terry Hooper-Scharf
Artist:  Gavin Stuart Ross 
A4
Paperback
Black & white
84 pages
Price: £8.00
Ships in 3–5 business days
 http://www.lulu.com/shop/terry-hooper-scharf/the-case-book-of-chung-ling-soo/paperback/product-21156759.html



To many he was simply a stage magician.

Others knew the truth –such as Scotland Yard and the very secret Q Bureau.

From a seemingly cursed jade statue bringing gruesome death to those who found it to a plot by a Chinese supremacist group hoping to strike terror and destruction at the heart of the British Empire and withdraw their forces from China to the seemingly unstoppable Tong assassins –Chung Ling Soo was there.

 Sergeant Wilberforce of Scotland Yard was the closest thing to a friend the Magician had yet even he was perpetually stumped by him...and his deaths!

Collecting together Chung Ling Soo And The Curse Of The Jade Dragon And Chung Ling Soo The Case Of The Thames Serpent By Terry Hooper-Scarf and Gavin Stuart Ross


Also available
Wilberforce
 
W/A: Ben R. Dilworth
A4
Black & White
28 pages 
Price: £5.00
Wilberforce—a Sergeant on the Metropolitan Police Detective Force. 
 
But Wilberforce was no common “Jack” (police officer). 
 
Even before working with the famous Chung Ling Soo (The Case Of The Thames Serpent), Wilberforce had “tasted the chin strap” on many tough cases –even a stint in the Army saw him used because of his detective skills. 
 
Here, Ben R. Dilworth, gives us a sneak peek into Wilberforce’s Case Notes for 1896. “A Jack’s lot is not a happy one” and Wilberforce was not just dealing with the ordinary criminals such as the nobblers, rampsmen, smashers, mobsmen, snoozers and skinners…. ...there were the spectres, the satanic followers, vampires and other monsters —things the ordinary copper never usually encountered and often scoffed at the stories of. 
 
Wilberforce knew better. 
 
 Wilberforce never needed his "Moriarty" in those cases.*




*Moriarty's police law: An arrangement of law and regulations for the use of police officers Unknown Binding by Cecil C. H Moriarty

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1006. Last Chance to Win Diamond in the Ruff

You have just over 1 DAY left to enter to win the our terrific second book Diamond in the ruff.  Below is the link.





Goodreads Book Giveaway

Diamond In The Ruff by B.R. Tracey

Diamond In The Ruff

by B.R. Tracey

Giveaway ends November 18, 2014.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter to win

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1007. Is He Popenjoy? (1878)

Is He Popenjoy? Anthony Trollope. 1878/1993. Penguin. 632 pages. [Source: Bought]

Like so many of Anthony Trollope's novels, Is He Popenjoy? is a novel essentially about marriage and relationships. Just because it's about marriage and relationships doesn't mean it is about love and romance and happily ever after.

Lord George and Mary Germain are newly married. Mary Lovelace was not exactly his first choice for a bride. (His first choice was in fact a woman named Adelaide. She too is recently married. She is Mrs. Houghton now.) The two are in the getting-to-know each other stage. Yes, they are married. But they weren't madly in love with each other before they married. Only time will tell if they will fall in love with each other afterwards. She is thoughtfully examining herself for signs of love, and she's looking closely at her husband as well. Do I love him yet? How about now?

The couple lives with his family, with his mother, with two of his older sisters. George is content with the arrangement. After all, most of the adjustment falls to Mary as it now stands. Mary is the one who has to come into a house with three older, opinionated, slightly critical women. Mary is the one under examination, under trial, not George.

But. One of the conditions for marrying Mary was arranged by her father. George must be willing to get a house in London and they must reside there several months each year. This puts George very much out of his comfort zone. It thrills Mary, of course, as her father knew it would. In London, Mary has the freedom to relax and be herself.

Complications. Mary is introduced to Adelaide Houghton's cousin, Jack de Baron. Adelaide is hoping that Jack will flirt with Mary. That Mary will flirt right back. Mary and Jack do become friends, good friends. But it is friendship, nothing more, nothing less. Adelaide. What can I really say about her?! She infuriated me. She throws herself at Lord George time and time and time and time again. She is desperately in love with him now and not a bit discreet about it. She must tell him explicitly how much she NEEDS him and how he was always, always the one she wanted most of all. It's a pitiful sight when all is said and done. George. Well. George listens again and again and again and again. He's always open to hearing her declarations. Even if he's embarrassed and ashamed afterwards. As he walks away from and her and heads back to his wife, he's left feeling icky. Yet. For some reason, he sees it as his job as a gentlemen to remain friends with Mrs. Houghton, that he is being kind when he visits her at her request. He doesn't want to be RUDE to her after all.

More complications. George's family is completely dysfunctional. His older brother is a twisted mess. He's got no manners, no heart, no conscience. He's spent almost all his adult life living abroad in Italy. After learning of his younger brother's marriage, he writes to let his family know that they have to leave HIS house, and that under no terms are they to remain in the neighborhood or community because he doesn't want to see them. He has decided to come back. He is bringing a wife. A wife and a son, an heir. Never mind that he never communicated to his family or his lawyers that he married or had a son. True, he is the heir and the house is technically his to do with as he sees fit. But who throws their own family out without at least making some assistance towards finding them another place? The family manage to stay in the neighborhood against his wishes. And their brief encounters together are super awkward and humiliating. He wants nothing to do with anybody. Not his family. Not his former friends. Not his neighbors. Not the clergy in the area. NO person is welcome in his house. Mary's father advocates that something is obviously wrong here. Perhaps his brother has some secrets he wants to keep hidden. Perhaps his brother's son is not legitimate? Perhaps his wife is not really his wife?

Taking sides. Relationships get ugly and messy and twisted in this one. Accusations for just about everything abound. Ultimatums are given. All relationships will be tested. Can love bloom between two stressed individuals in these horrible conditions?

I didn't love this one. I didn't hate it, mind you. I didn't even dislike it exactly. It's just that there were more characters that I hated than characters that I liked in this one.

© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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1008. I'd Like To Be A REAL B****** For A Minute

Firstly, I need to point out that contacting me and saying how you have a "hot new 28 page graphic novel" will only make me call you a "dumb-ass" a "moron" and "You have not got the slightest clue what the **** you are doing, do you?"

A 28 pager is NOT a "graphic novel".  It is a one off comic.  Do not try to sell me the idea because you are just so going to piss me off that I will name and shame you to many thousands of CBO visitors.

"Drawn by professional comic book artist -----(insert name)---"  is a line I read 5-6 times a week.  What pro comic work have they done?  Internet search....nothing.  Oh -the book YOU are promoting.  The book this 'pro' ain't getting paid for unless it really sells.  ***** off.

A comic can be up to 48 pp in length but it's then a matter of how you package it. If you put it in a good quality stock card cover (as per Black Tower) then it is a comic album.  Regular comic cover its just a double-size issue.  With comic albums A4 is the standard size.

A trade paperback and graphic novel have a similarity.  Usually over a 100 pages and format being US comic size with a quality card cover.  Black Tower takes the A4 format for all its comic albums and graphic novels.

There is something else I've noticed.  The use of a publishing name very similar if not the same as a big, professional publishing house.  No, I will not touch those books because there is always secondary fallout in CBOs direction when the big company lawyers threaten the legal actions for copyright infringement.

Label what you are publishing properly.  Comic.  Comic Album.  Graphic Novel/TPB

Do at least the bare minimum of research -even if you are sat in front of a computer.  Type the name you want to publish under and if there is a big publishing house or any business with the same or a very similar name then change yours.

Seriously, it's no good when the lawyers move in to shrug and say "Maybe I should have listened!"  Big companies have people who do regular internet searches just to catch this type of thing and they DO NOT accept "Oh, I never heard of your company (founded 1901) before!"  Tell that to the judge.

No apology but I'll not "friend" you if you do any of the above.  Comic dilettantes really really piss me off.  If you ARE serious then act seriously.

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1009. Sunday Sentence

I heard about Sunday Sentence from Erika Dreifus. It's supposed to be a sharing of a "best sentence" read during the week, without context. It seems like a quick and easy way to do a little promo for a book.

I started to write some explanation of how I came to choose this, but...no context!!! So:

"It wouldn't take much digging for an interested party to ascertain the...depths of abnormal...upon which she'd built this life."  Dreams of Gods & Monsters by Laini Taylor.

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1010. PiBoIdMo Day 16: Shelley Moore Thomas Speaks from the PiBoIdMo Trenches (plus a prize!)

shelley b and wby Shelley Moore Thomas

Okay, so last year I did PiBoIdMo. At the same time, I was also trying to get 1,000 words a day finished on a middle grade novel. If you do the math, you can see that I’d have had 30,000 words on a novel and 30 ideas finished by the end of the month, were I to have been successful.

That would have been an AMAZING amount of writing.

But I was not successful. Not completely, anyway.

I logged about half of that amount of words on my novel—but that is still 15,000 more words than I would have had otherwise. So I felt pretty good about that.

But my picture book ideas. Ugh. I ended the month with 22 of them. Most were pretty crummy. I mean, I was trying to do the best that I could, but man, some of my ideas were really dumb/hideous/terrible/lame. What? You want an example? Okay, I’ll cut and paste some entries from my PiBoIdMo Journal, 2013:

November 3: (Came up with this one in my sleep) Baby Kangaroo Won’t Get Out of the Pouch  I kind of see lots and lots of animals getting invited over to Joey’s pouch, but he is too scared to come out. Not sure what is going to get him to come out.

kangaroojoey

Really? I read that idea now and all I can think is POOR MAMA KANGAROO!! And also yuck. I think yuck.

Hungry for another?

November 13: Dream Dinos (Little dinos that live in your head and help you sleep….hahaha)

This whole idea just gives me the heebie-jeebies. And nightmares. Ick.

The list continues on in a similarly awful manner. 18 completely un-writable ideas.

Notice I said 18, not 22. That is because 4 of the ideas I recorded last November were pretty darn good.  Actually, they were incredible. I am working on two of them right now, and will tackle the other two a time permits. (I wish I could tell you about them, but I can’t talk about picture book ideas when they are in progress. Ruins the magic of it.)

The truth of it is that I never would have come up with the 4 ideas that I really like if I hadn’t been willing to take a chance and just try and come up with one idea each day. (And each day, I did feel pretty satisfied with what my muse had given me. It was only upon later reading that I thought BLECH. But that is okay. From mounds of fertilizer sprout beautiful blossoms, right?)

So make your PiBoIdMo list. Let it sleep (or ferment, as the case may be) for a month, then see which ideas still smell sweet.

guestbloggerbio2014

Shelley Moore Thomas is the author of the nine picture books (including the much heralded GOOD KNIGHT series) and one middle grade novel, THE SEVEN TALES OF TRINKET. Her upcoming tenth picture book, NO, NO, KITTEN! (Boyds Mills Press) hits shelves on March 3, 2015. In addition to being a writer, Shelley is also an elementary school teacher. So, no, she doesn’t really ever get to sleep.

www.ShelleyMooreThomas.blogspot.com

blog: www.storyqueenscastle.blogspot.com

twitter: @story_queen

prizedetails2014

Shelley is giving away a pre-order of her upcoming picture book with Lori Nichols, NO, NO, KITTEN!

no, no, kitten b and n

This prize will be given away at the conclusion of PiBoIdMo. You are eligible for this prize if:

  1. You have registered for PiBoIdMo.
  2. You have commented ONCE ONLY on today’s post.
  3. You have completed the PiBoIdMo challenge. (You will have to sign the PiBoIdMo Pledge at the end of the event.)

Good luck, everyone!


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1011. "The Greatest BRITISH Based Super Hero Epic Ever"? You Decide--The Return Of The Gods:Twilight of the Super Heroes


Writer/Artist: Terry Hooper-Scharf
A4
Black and White
Paperback, 
331 Pages
Price: £15.00
It begins slowly with Earth’s heroes going about their daily tasks –fighting a giant robot controlled by a mad scientist’s brain , attackers both human and mystical -even alien high priests of some mysterious cult and their zombie followers and, of course, a ghost and a young genius lost in time. 
Pretty mundane. 
But there is a huge alien Mother-ship near the Moon and strange orange spheres pursue some of Earth’s heroes who then vanish into thin air –are they dead?  Some super villains revenge plan?
Then black, impenetrable domes cover cities world-wide. Beachheads for an alien invasion of Earth! 
A war between the Dark Old Gods and the pantheons that followed! 
Warriors from Earth’s past having to battle each day and whether they die or not they are back the next day! 
And no one suspects the driving force behind the events that could cause destruction and chaos throughout the multiverse.
Assaulted on all fronts can Earth’s defenders succeed or will they fail...nd as the death count grows they as "is this truly the end?"
 The Black Tower hit of 2012 still available at a low price until 24th December, 2014.

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1012. SkADaMo Day 15 (late)

chameleon

… they come and go, they come and gooooooo!

What is SkADaMo? Check it out here.


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1013. FILIJ: Mexico’s International Children’s Book Festival

logo_filij

I am just back from participating in  FILIJ, Mexico’s International Fair of Children and Youth Book and I am just floored by the experience. Run by Conaculta, Mexico’s governmental agency for the arts, it is BEA, ALA, NCTE, and the National Book Festival all in one glorious ten day event with over 300,000 people attending.  You can get a taste in this photo gallery. They (this is translated by google so is probably not too great) wish:

to encourage the habit of reading among children and young people of Mexico; and bring together publishers, booksellers, distributors, librarians, teachers and specialists, in order to raise the quality and quantity of publications circulating in the Mexican market. Also aims to compare experiences, promote exchange with other countries and bring the public to national and international issues.

expositores

The festival was a vibrant place of tents full of books to see and buy, entertainments such as rock concerts and puppet shows, and tons of children and people eagerly enjoying books and stories. Among the events for professionals are a National Meeting for Booksellers (and, yes, the photo is of Laura Vaccaro Seeger and Neal Porter who participated last year), a National Conference of Librarians, an International Seminar (for 600 participants:) on the Promotion of Reading, and 5 hour Master Classes on Writing and Illustration.  There were also school visits, all sorts of performances (just wandering around I saw a puppet show and a rock concert), and a huge area of workshops for children. You can get a taste of the magnitude of the festival by looking at this brochure that includes a map of the festival as well as a listing of all the publishers and a schedule of events.

Even before I got to the festival grounds I had an inkling that this was a big event for all, seeing this poster for it in the city center:

IMG_2077

And once at the fair grounds I just enjoyed the energy. I was there only on weekdays, but am told you can barely move on the weekends.

IMG_2127 (There were so many tents full of books! This may look empty, but it is not. Just liked the Peppa painting on this particular tent.)

IMG_2126(This was a rock concert.)

IMG_2125

(This was a lovely cafe, but I’m afraid the warm orange of the walls came out rather dark in this photo of mine. In the back you can see one of the delightful posters that were all around the place. I believe there was a contest to get the commission to do these posters.)

Outside the festival,  I did a presentation on Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland to an attentive group of fourth graders at the Colegio Heraldos de México. They had prepared for my visit by watching both the Disney and Tim Burton’s movies, prepared questions, and created drawings and other decorations for my visit. The children’s English was fabulous — they seemed to follow my presentation with easy and asked thoughtful and carefully constructed questions. At the end I was surprised when they all wanted me to sign copies of Alice in Wonderland, personal autograph books, and paper.  So I did so as Lewis Carroll’s proxy! And then they gave me gifts — mostly chocolate, but also a book, and an amazing folk art clay statue of the Virgin Mary. They had never had an author visit before so it was a very big deal. For me too! My thanks especially to the Mexican Macmillan folk (among them Renato Aranda and Mariana Mendia – a fellow Alice fan ) who took care of everything beautifully.

B2QKxVIIUAAg6k5

B2QkizgCMAAMQOE

Afterwards we went to the Museo Frida Kahlo (La Casa Azul where I’d first been years ago) and then to a fabulous lunch on the Coyoacan Zocalo. I was moved by the candles for the 43 slain students, one of the many observations and demonstrations I saw while in Mexico City.

candles

We were also in Coyoacan one of the nights for a lovely dinner with local authors and publishing folk. While walking about we stopped at the Centro Cultural Eleno Garro, a fabulous bookstore in an historic building with trees inside and flying lit books in the children’s section.

IMG_2107

IMG_2110

My talk for the symposium, also on Alice, went very well. The 600 listeners were generous, attentive, and had some excellent questions. I had observed one of my fellow presenters, illustrator Serge Bloch, a few days before so was prepared for the experience of simultaneous translation, especially when the audience reacted a few beats late to anything amusing. This is a shot from the auditorium during Serge’s presentation which will give a taste of what mine looked like.

IMG_2098

 Over the week I was there I met so many interesting people (a complete list of speakers is here) and especially enjoyed chatting with Bart Moeyaert, Serge Bloch, and Gonzola Frasca. And then there were my follow-English speakers, the Australian writer John Marsden with his wife Chris, and the UK Chicken House publisher (and Harry Potter editor)  Barry Cunningham.  We spent our final day together visiting Teotihuacan and then enjoying a lovely leisurely lunch that included ant eggs and crickets. Quite tasty, I should say though I admit found it hard to put aside my cultural squeamishness.

My great thanks to Conculta for inviting me. Most of all my great, great thanks to Karen Coeman who put the whole thing together — she even showed up at 6 AM yesterday at our hotel to be sure we all made it off to the airport without difficulty. Her team included the fabulous Diego Sanchez Moreno and Orly Rosales as well as a committed and helpful group of volunteers who took care of everything for us.

 


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1014. Christmas Special on Bedbug Books

Bedbug & Mouse have a special Christmas offering up until December 25th. Buy the Small Bedbug books I & II for $10 and receive FREE SHIPPING These books have gone out to 10 countries around the world and show no signs of stopping. Kids love sleepy Bedbug who doesn't want to bite, he just wants to "sleep tight." Book I: Bedbug has plans to snooze all night but an active child engages in

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1015. KidLitTV!


Wednesday evening was the launch for KidLitTV! It's about time we had our own network, don't you think? Katie Davis hosted the launch party on YouTube and there are plenty of videos to dive into including interviews from the red carpet at the Eric Carle Honors. There's already tons of fun content with more to come. Subscribe to the newsletter so that you don't miss a thing!
Read more about KidLitTV and it's host, Rocco Staino at School Library Journal where you can also access the first episode of "StoryMakers" with Roxie Munroe.

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1016. SkADaMo Day 15 (late)

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… they come and go, they come and gooooooo!

What is SkADaMo? Check it out here.


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1017. FILIJ: Mexico’s International Children’s Book Festival

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I am just back from participating in  FILIJ, Mexico’s International Fair of Children and Youth Books and I am just floored by the experience. Run by Conaculta, Mexico’s governmental agency for the arts, it is BEA, ALA, NCTE, and the National Book Festival all in one glorious ten day event with over 300,000 people attending.  You can get a taste in this photo gallery. They (this is translated by google so is probably not too great) wish:

to encourage the habit of reading among children and young people of Mexico; and bring together publishers, booksellers, distributors, librarians, teachers and specialists, in order to raise the quality and quantity of publications circulating in the Mexican market. Also aims to compare experiences, promote exchange with other countries and bring the public to national and international issues.

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The festival was a vibrant place of tents full of books to see and buy, entertainments such as rock concerts and puppet shows, and tons of children and people eagerly enjoying books and stories. Among the events for professionals are a National Meeting for Booksellers (and, yes, the photo is of Laura Vaccaro Seeger and Neal Porter who participated last year), a National Conference of Librarians, an International Seminar (for 600 participants:) on the Promotion of Reading, and 5 hour Master Classes on Writing and Illustration.  There were also school visits, all sorts of performances (just wandering around I saw a puppet show and a rock concert), and a huge area of workshops for children. You can get a taste of the magnitude of the festival by looking at this brochure that includes a map of the festival as well as a listing of all the publishers and a schedule of events.

Even before I got to the festival grounds I had an inkling that this was a big event for all, seeing this poster for it in the city center:

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And once at the fair grounds I just enjoyed the energy. I was there only on weekdays, but am told you can barely move on the weekends.

IMG_2127 (There were so many tents full of books! This may look empty, but it is not. Just liked the Peppa painting on this particular tent.)

IMG_2126(This was a rock concert.)

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(This was a lovely cafe, but I’m afraid the warm orange of the walls came out rather dark in this photo of mine. In the back you can see one of the delightful posters that were all around the place. I believe there was a contest to get the commission to do these posters.)

Outside the festival,  I did a presentation on Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland to an attentive group of fourth graders at the Colegio Heraldos de México. They had prepared for my visit by watching both the Disney and Tim Burton’s movies, prepared questions, and created drawings and other decorations for my visit. The children’s English was fabulous — they seemed to follow my presentation with ease and asked thoughtful and carefully constructed questions. At the end I was surprised when they all wanted me to sign copies of Alice in Wonderland, personal autograph books, and paper.  So I did so as Lewis Carroll’s proxy! And then they gave me gifts — mostly chocolate, but also a book, and an amazing folk art clay statue of the Virgin Mary. They had never had an author visit before so it was a very big deal. For me too! My thanks especially to the Mexican Macmillan folk (among them Renato Aranda and Mariana Mendia – - a fellow Alice fan ) who took care of everything beautifully.

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Afterwards we went to the Museo Frida Kahlo (La Casa Azul where I’d first been years ago) and then to a fabulous lunch on the Coyoacan Zocalo followed by ice cream. I was moved by the candles for the 43 slain students, one of the many observations and demonstrations I saw while in Mexico City.

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We were also in Coyoacan one of the nights for a lovely dinner with local authors and publishing folk. While walking about we stopped at the Centro Cultural Eleno Garro, a fabulous bookstore in an historic building with trees inside and flying lit books in the children’s section.

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My talk for the symposium, also on Alice, went very well. The 600 listeners were generous, attentive, and had some excellent questions. I had observed one of my fellow presenters, illustrator Serge Bloch, a few days before so was prepared for the experience of simultaneous translation, especially when the audience reacted a few beats late to anything amusing. This is a shot from the auditorium during Serge’s presentation which will give a taste of what mine looked like.

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 Over the week I was there I met so many interesting people (a complete list of speakers is here) and especially enjoyed chatting with Bart Moeyaert, Serge Bloch, and Gonzola Frasca. And then there were my fellow-native-English speakers, the Australian writer John Marsden with his wife Chris, and the UK Chicken House publisher (and Harry Potter editor)  Barry Cunningham.  We spent our final day together visiting Teotihuacan and followed by a lovely leisurely lunch that included ant eggs and crickets (at a restaurant with a lawn on one wall). Quite tasty, I should say though I admit found it hard to put aside my cultural squeamishness.

My great thanks to Conculta and Karen Coeman for inviting me (and to Betsy Bird for suggesting that I could do a good Lewis Carroll tribute). Karen Coeman is the person who put the whole thing together and did so splendidly with such poise no matter what. I last saw her when she showed up at 6 AM yesterday at our hotel to be sure we all made it off at various times to the airport without difficulty. She is a class act that Karen! Thanks to her team including the fabulous Diego Sanchez Moreno and Orly Rosales as well as that committed and helpful group of volunteers who took care of everything for us.

 


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1018. Illustrator Victoria Topping

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It’s always refreshing to find an Illustrator who takes such a bold approach to their work as Victoria Topping, and the result is a continually evolving body of work that always holds plenty of surprises for the viewer.

Victoria Topping Website >>

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1019. Heat!

Last June I had a new furnace installed in my house.

Last night the new furnace stopped working.

Snow was falling, and the outside temperature was heading toward a low of 1 degrees.

I was not pleased.

The first thing I suspected was that we had forgotten to change the furnace filter. We (read: I) have forgotten to do this before. One summer, when I had been living in my little house for two or three years, my AC froze up completely on a hot day. I looked out at my deck and saw that the pipe/cable/line leading to the big round AC thing was completely coated with ice. I called a very expensive repairman. He kindly informed me that there was such a thing as a filter on the furnace/AC and that it was supposed to be changed once a month. Who knew?

So now I did know, and I started changing it, not once a month, but sometimes, or rather, making my son Christopher change it for me. Unless I forget. Then we don't change it. And bad things happen.

I sent a delegation of furnace-filter shoppers to Home Depot. They returned with the right-sized filter for the furnace and replaced the old horribly filthy one. Hooray!

Except: the furnace still wasn't working. The inside temperature of my house had reached 59 degrees, then 58, then 57.

I began making phone calls, starting with the 24/7 emergency service number of the guy who installed and warrantied the furnace. I got a recording saying that he was unable to take my call at this time but would get to me. As of this writing, he has never yet gotten back to me.

I called every emergency 24/7 furnace repair number I could find in the Boulder area. No luck: apparently 24/7 doesn't include 9 pm on a frigid Saturday night. Finally, I called Precision (the same folks who first told me about the existence of furnace filters). Friends had told me, on that occasion, that Precision is too pricey. But guess what? An actual human being answers their phone even on at 9 pm on a frigid Saturday night. She suggested some things we might try before we went to the expense of a service call. We couldn't figure out how to make them work. And so at 11:15 last night, a lovely young Precision repair guy showed up to fix our furnace.

The problem WAS the furnace filter. With the clogged filter, the furnace was running so hard and long on these last Arctic days that it overheated and shut itself down. So it was all my fault, as is so often the case with my life woes.

The heat came back on: blissful, blessed heat. How good to feel warm air blowing at last!

Friends: change your furnace filters, if not once a month, at least once a season. It will save you frantic late night phone calls and a pricey service visit (that was worth every single penny). Be happy that you have heat. Heat is such a good thing to have on a bitter cold night. All the other problems in your life recede for a while if you don't have it and seem inconsequential (for a few hours, at least) even after you get it back.

Hooray for heat!



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1020. Do you make time to draw?

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Do you make enough time to draw? Some of us doodle at any opportunity we get. Yet there are also times when we get so swept up in daily doings that we don’t quite draw as much as we’d like to for fun and enjoyment.  Taking more time to doodle will not only keep your creative idea’s flowing , fill your sketchbooks with beautiful things but also make drawing fun feeling less like work.  So here are afew places you can sketch with ease, seize the opportunity  pick up that pencil and draw!

Places you can draw:

  • On the bus
  • On the train
  • In the car
  • On a rainy day
  • On the phone
  • In bed
  • At the park
  • In the garden
  • On your lunch break

Remeber, you should draw because the more you do draw the more those amazing ideas in your creative mind will meet the page for all to see.

Image by Illustrator Chuck Groenink you can find out more about his work here .

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1021. CD Launch: Scream by Malachi Smith




Launch of SCREAM – a CD collection of powerful prophecy, exhortation and lamentation by Dub Poet,Malachi Smith.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

6:30 p.m.
JEPA’s Place,
7153 West Oakland Park Boulevard, 
Lauderhill, Florida 33313. 

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1022. Lighting Your Illustrations For Drama - 3 Sources



Using strong light sources are some of the best ways to add interest and drama to your images. When I critique illustration work I often notice the lack of a planned light source(s). Understanding light and how it behaves is the first step in creating powerful illustrations.

I created this image as a solution to an assignment I gave my UVU illustration class a few weeks ago but that's another story.


It's important to remember that illustration isn't photography. We don't have to play by all the rules of the natural world. We are creating an illusion. Our job is to communicate an idea so bending and/or breaking rules is ok as long as it works. We can add atmosphere and lighting where we need it to set up a shot - similar to how it would be done in film. Have you ever noticed that night scenes in motion pictures often seem much lighter than they normally would? That's because it would be really boring to only hear sound while watching a black screen. Directors bend the rule of darkness by adding light from places where often there wouldn't be any light.

I decided to use the 3 types of light sources you can have in an image. 1) On camera 2) On camera hidden 3) Off camera

You can see below that using the candle alone creates a very dark mood. I wanted this illustration to be playful so one light source wasn't going to be enough. I wanted my viewers to see lots of items in the cave.


Adding a second light source behind the pirate helps by illuminating the right side of the cave. I envisioned this as perhaps a lantern that is below the pirate and objects in the foreground (on camera hidden.) These two light sources just aren't enough however to define the cave opening.


I had to add a third light source (the moon - off camera) that would shine down and reveal the cave entrance and the pirate ship on the horizon.


It's much easier to use one light source in your illustrations but in certain situations you can achieve the results you're looking for by adding multiple light sources as long as you make one your primary and the others secondary.

If you're looking for more instruction on Painting Color and Light we have a video course at www.svslearn.com that might be what you're looking for.

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1023. Saturday 22nd November BCP BOOK FAIR & COMIC EXPO, Mercure Holland Hotel, Redcliffe Hill, Bristol


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1024. Art Resource: Koosje Koene’s Draw Tip Tuesday

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(Added the shadow color before the cookie was dry, and the yellow bled. Whoops!)

Saturday night, as I’ve mentioned, is one of the best parts of my week. My boys go to bed early these days—7:30, ever since the time change. (Ahhh…) Rose and Beanie watched S.H.I.E.L.D. with Scott. And Rilla and I cozy up on my bed to listening to our current audiobook—right now we’re midway through Matilda, having had such a delightful time with The BFG—and our sketchbooks.

Sometimes we start off with a few short art videos on YouTube for warmups. Lately we’ve had some of our most fun bouts of clip-watching yet, because we have discovered Koosje Koene’s Draw Tip Tuesday. Koosje is a Dutch artist who teaches online art classes at Sketchbook Skool and via her own site. Her clips are clear, fun, and super helpful. Rilla and I are having the best time making our way through all of them. I’m learning a lot!

I’ll share only a few here. It was hard to choose which ones! You can click through to see the whole series. We have subscribed to Koosje’s Youtube channel so we won’t miss anything.

We had fun with this tangerine:

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And this cookie quartet:

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Of course we couldn’t resist the one about popsicles:

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This tip for how to draw both edges of a banner at once was new to me and is very cool:


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Enjoy!

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1025. 5 Harmful Differentiation Myths: Part 1


The learning differences, preferences, and varied backgrounds existent in the classroom present teachers with a challenging-POPyes task: help every student become a successful learner. How can teachers support all students’ diverse needs? Much confusion and fear have surrounded differentiated instruction and its use in the classroom.

Myth #1: Differentiation = Individualization
Differentiation doesn’t mean individualizing the curriculum for each student. Yes, when teachers meet one-on-one and conference with students, modifying instruction to best suit the student’s needs, both individualization and differentiation are taking place. However, writing an individual lesson plan for every student in the classroom is NOT differentiating (it’s insanity). Instead, differentiation involves using quality and effective instructional practices to strategically address groups of students based on various levels of learning readiness, interests, and learning styles.

Contentsgdfgfdfdghghjgh copyMyth #2: Every student should be doing something different
Teachers should consider each student’s strengths and areas that need support, but that does not mean 30 students are engaged in 30 different activities. Instead, teachers use differentiation to provide a range of activities and assignments that challenge and offer variety in students’ learning opportunities. This includes flexible grouping, or organizing students by ability, learning styles, and academic needs. Students may work individually, in pairs, collaborative groups, or as a class based on learning objectives and their individual needs and preferences. For example, one group may be practicing math skill fluency while another group is applying this skill within more challenging settings. Differentiation also involves modifying the content (the what), process (the how), and product (the end result). Using assessment to inform instruction, providing leveled reading books, increasing or decreasing task complexity, and assigning tasks based on visual, auditory, and kinesthetic learning preferences all support such differentiated learning opportunities.

Myth #3: Test prep doesn’t allow you to differentiate
Differentiation’s first objective is to help students deeply understand the content. This is essential to encourage the progressive achievement of a desired level of mastery in preparation for students’ successful careers and futures. Differentiated instruction better prepares students for standardized tests through authentic learning experiences that exercise higher-order, critical thinking skills and encourage the development of strong conceptual understanding. Secondly, differentiation aims to prepare students for varied forms of assessment, including group projects and research papers, as well as multiple-choice questions on a standardized test. Therefore, using standardized testing preparation to assess and monitor students’ progress and understanding is important, but it is only one of the many types of assessment teachers use. Undifferentiated or standardized assessments should be provided along with authentic and performance-based assessments.

Myth #4: There is no time to differentiate
Differentiation doesn’t have to be thought of as separate from instruction. The key is to treat differentiation as a core part of the lesson and unit plan, rather than as an afterthought. The best answer is to start small, such as differentiating one subject or unit at a time by modifying the plans and materials you already have. Even though a teacher may feel he/she has little control over the content, differentiating instruction can support how he/she will teach it.

Myth #5: Differentiation is the end-all-be-all solution for academic achievement
Differentiation is one way to help all students of varying abilities, learning styles, interests, and background experiences meet or exceed grade-level expectations. Parent engagement, assessment, reflection, professional development, and content and grade-level collaboration are all part of the toolbox schools and teachers need to proactively anticipate and appropriately respond to students’ continuously changing needs.

What does differentiation look like in action? This is Part 1 of 2 posts about differentiation and how it is used in the classroom.

Cash, R. M. (2011). Advancing differentiation: Thinking and learning for the 21st century. Minneapolis, MN: Free Spirit Publishing, Inc.

Veronica SchneiderVeronica has a degree from Mount Saint Mary College and joined LEE & LOW in the fall of 2014. She has a background in education and holds a New York State childhood education (1-6) and students with disabilities (1-6) certification. When she’s not wandering around New York City, you can find her hiking with her dog Milo in her hometown in the Hudson Valley, NY.


Filed under: Common Core State Standards, Educator Resources Tagged: CCSS, Educators, ELA common core standards, guided reading, teaching resources

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