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1001. Did You Know this Is Advocacy: In the Schools

It’s a busy time of year for library advocates, with National Library Legislative Day (NLLD) right around the corner on May 2–3. Even if you don’t have the time or the resources to head to Washington for the day itself, you can participate in Virtual Library Legislative Day (VLLD) activities during the week of May 2–6 (for details, check out the Everyday Advocacy website).

Advocacy Begins at Home

Advocacy stories write themselves every day as school librarians do their jobs

Advocacy stories write themselves every day as school librarians do their jobs

As the excitement over NLLD and VLLD build, however, it’s important to remember that big, visible campaigns like these are only one small piece of advocacy, and that much, much more is being done on the ground everyday by librarians simply doing their jobs. Ultimately, advocacy means convincing others of the value of library services to children, and we can all do that just by providing great service—and by ensuring that our bosses, administrators, boards, etc. know about it.

As a solo school librarian with no support staff in a school where only 20% of the student body is reading at or above grade level, the last thing on my mind on a day-to-day basis is advocacy. My number-one, almost obsessive mission is getting my students to read. One way I do this is by keeping the library open after school so parents can drop in with their children to have a little quiet reading time together. This hasn’t been a hugely popular program, but it doesn’t really cost me much effort (I stay late to shelve anyway), and the unintended rewards have been huge.

My most regular after-school customer last year was a fourth-grade girl I’ll call Jane. Her mother brought her by one afternoon and asked if it would be OK if Jane used my after-school hours to sit and do homework and read quietly. It was too chaotic at home, she explained. As a single mom, she found it hard to keep Jane’s two much younger siblings quiet enough for Jane to focus on her reading or her work. I said, “No problem” (this being the abracadabra phrase of micro advocacy), and thus, Jane became my companion every afternoon for the rest of the school year. This didn’t require much effort on my part. She would sit and do her homework, and then dip into the collection, reading everything from picture books to graphic novels to nonfiction on just about every subject. Occasionally, I would suggest a book, but mainly, we worked in companionable silence. It was nice to have company during what is frequently a fairly lonely time of the day.

How Our Daily Tasks Become Advocacy

Where this becomes an advocacy success story is in my conversations with my principal. Obviously, I asked her for permission before taking Jane on for what was essentially free child care, and every so often, I would share anecdotes with her, mostly about how voraciously and broadly Jane was reading. Lo and behold, Jane came through with top marks across the board in the state exams, which the principal attributed to her time in the library. I personally think it had more to do with Jane’s native intelligence, natural curiosity, and strong work ethic, but I was happy to let my principal make assumptions. I am blessed with a very supportive principal, but in my world, keeping her happy is advocacy-goal number one. As with all New York City elementary schools, the decision to have a library rests entirely with the principal.

I’m sure that school librarians around the country all have their Janes—students they’ve helped in some, small way that in turn created ripples throughout their schools. We would love to hear these stories. As Matt McLain wrote in an earlier Advocacy and Legislation blog, “Did You Know This Is Advocacy”, these stories are crucial not just to your own, local advocacy efforts, but also on a much broader scale, as these stories are passed along to policy makers. Please take a moment to submit your school-library advocacy story to the Everyday Advocacy website.

Eileen Makoff is the School Library Media Specialist at P.S. 90 Edna Cohen School in Coney Island, Brooklyn, and a member of the ALSC Advocacy and Legislation Committee. 

The post Did You Know this Is Advocacy: In the Schools appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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1002. I Wrote This: School Leadership Blog Series

Finding a way to actively model the things that we want for our teachers, students, families, and community members helps move everything forward...but most of all, it really makes you a better you.

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1003. Monday Mishmash 4/18/16

Happy Monday! Monday Mishmash is a weekly meme dedicated to sharing what's on your mind. Feel free to grab the button and post your own Mishmash.

Here's what's on my mind today:
  1. Editing  I'm continuing to work my way through my editing schedule, which is out of control this month. 9 edits? 9? My eyes hate me right now.
  2. Book Order  The school I visited last month just placed a large book order. Yay! Once the books come in, I get to go back and sign them all for the kids. :)
  3. New Book Display  This past week I bought a display stand for my books, and good thing too because when I got to the book expo on Saturday I was told I had a 3X3 table even though I asked for a 3X6 table. I never would have fit my books without this display.
  4. Basketball Pains  We got a basketball hoop last week because my nine-year-old daughter loves basketball. Well, needless to say I haven't played in a while. ;) I'm sore! It's fun though.
  5. Catalyst Cover Reveal  Happy cover reveal day to Kristin Smith! Check out Catalyst, a YA near-future thriller coming out November 21st through Clean Teen publishing.

Too pretty.
Too smart.
Too perfect.

In a crumbling, futuristic Las Vegas where the wealthy choose the characteristics of their children like ordering off a drive-thru menu, seventeen-year-old Sienna Preston doesnt fit in. As a normal girl surrounded by genetically modified teens, all of her imperfections are on display. But after the death of her father, everything she's ever known and loved changes in an instant.

With little skills to help provide for her family, Sienna clings to the two things that come easily—lying and stealing. But not all thief-for-hire assignments go as planned. When a covert exchange of a stolen computer chip is intercepted, she becomes entangled with a corrupt government official who uses her thieving past as leverage, her mother as collateral, and the genetically modified poster boy shes falling for as bait.

In order to rescue her mother, there may only be one option—joining forces with the Fringe, an extremist group, and their young leader whos too hot to be bad. Problem is, these revolutionaries arent what they seem, and the secrets theyre hiding could be more dangerous than Sienna is prepared for. In the end, she must be willing to risk everything to save the one thing that matters most.

That's it for me. What's on your mind today?

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1004. Never Gonna Sequel

It’s happened to us all.  You hear that one of your favorite books for kids or teens is being adapted to the silver screen and you are struck with a simultaneous feeling of hope and fear.  You go to see it and it’s even worse than you imagined.  Then you leave the theater and realize that this was based on the first book in a series. Are they honestly going to keep going, even if this is a flop?

Thankfully, the answer is usually no. But what happens is that you’re left with a lot of series just ah-blowing in the wind.  Here then is a tribute to those book series that are just not going to see any more sequels.  Unless, of course, they get a reboot.  Which, in at least one case, may happen.

The Seeker a.k.a. The Dark Is Rising



Remember this?  Or has your brain done you a favor and allowed you to forget?  One of the more egregious adaptations out there.  In the midst of the Harry Potter films, studios were looking to recreate that same magic for themselves.  And lo and behold, here is a fantasy series starring a special boy who learns he has the power to defeat a dark and ancient evil! Perfect! So what did the studios do?  First, they made it American (one can only imagine the conversations that took place to make this happen – “I bet Harry Potter would have been MUCH more successful if he’d been from Jersey!”). Then they mucked with the plot so much as to render the film unrecognizable from the book.  No Under Sea, Under Stone for you, kids! Which, technically, should have been first anyway . . .

The Black Cauldron

Black Cauldron

Not that when Disney animated it they were really prepared to make any sequels.  Many consider this film the moment Disney animation hit rock bottom.  They also combined two of Lloyd Alexander’s books together to make it in the first place.  I heard a rumor the other day that a new version of The Book of Three is in the works somewhere, but was unable to find any proof of it online.

The Seventh Son

Seventh Son

Apparently this was years and years in the works, much good it did it in the end. A real pity since the book was so great.  What could have been a really good creepy film was instead yet another big budget war against an evil blahfest.  Ah well.

A Wrinkle in Time


Oh yeah.  It was straight to television, so hopes couldn’t have been all that high anyway.  In a 2004 interview with Newsweek Madeleine L’Engle was asked if the film met her expectations.  She said it had.  She was pretty cheery about it.  “I expected it to be bad, and it was.”  Rumor has it that another is currently in the works.  I dunno, folks.  Mixing religion and science and fantasy into a single book is hard enough.  Short of animating it, I don’t know how a film could even come close to doing it right.

Voyage of the Dawn Treader

Dawn Treader

This one is unlike the others mentioned here for a number of reasons.  First off, these movies aren’t all that bad.  They seem fairly aware of the books that they’re based upon, for one thing.  And admittedly they managed to get through three books in the Narnia series, and even then only by the skin of their teeth.  Amazing that they got that far!  It’s too late to keep ’em coming at this point, so the series is pretty officially dead (sorry, Silver Chair, fans).

The Last Airbender


I’m cheating by including this since it’s not based on a book originally but a television series (Avatar: The Last Airbender). That said, the graphic novel sequels (penned in part by our current National Ambassador of Young People’s Literature, Gene Luen Yang) are fantastic and deserve mention.  The movie adaptation of the first season was problematic not the least because all the villains were people of color and all the people of color who were heroes were played by white actors. [My husband points out that if you look at the voice actors for the original TV show it’s not much different, but that’s only if you think Iroh and Zuko are villains, and anyway the true baddies were Mark Hammil and Jason Isaacs who are the whitest white guys to ever white a white].

By the way, notice how all these series star white kids, usually of a male persuasion, and are fantasies or science fiction. So while I’d love to see the One Crazy Summer books adapted, my hopes are not currently very high.


20 Comments on Never Gonna Sequel, last added: 4/19/2016
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1005. Monday Poetry Stretch - Cyhydedd fer Sonnet

The Cyhydedd fer is a Welsh verse form, consisting of couplets of eight syllables. The Cyhydedd fer sonnet has 14 lines and no meter requirement. The only requirement is 8 syllable line of rhymed couplets. The rhyme scheme is a a b b c c d d e e f f g g.

You can read more about the cyhydedd fer sonnet at The Poets Garrett.

I hope you'll join me this week in writing a cyhydedd fer sonnet. Please share a link to your poem or the poem itself in the comments.

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1006. Sunday Sketching

Two minute heads.
In the teensy purse Moleskine balanced upon my knee...

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1007. How to make a kidlit list

I have made some good-looking flowcharts in my time. This is not one of them. But the concept for this one — a flowchart for anyone assembling a children’s literature list of any sort — has been on my mind for a long time, and I finally decided to put together a draft to share. […]

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1008. SLOVO Festival

       In London the SLOVO Russian Literature Festival runs through the 24th, with quite a few well-known authors (including Boris Akunin and Mikhail Shishkin) still to appear.
       Interesting to see/note that they see fit (and/or think it important) to mention -- quite prominently -- that: "SLOVO is not supported by the Russian government".

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1009. Japanese Comickers: Draw Manga and Anime like Japan’s Hottest Artists Book Review

Japanese Comickers Magazine features some of the hottest artists from Japan. It’s a great way to take a look at all the different styles and…

The post Japanese Comickers: Draw Manga and Anime like Japan’s Hottest Artists Book Review appeared first on RABBLEBOY - The Official Blog of Kenneth Kit Lamug.

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1010. Singnagtugaq review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Mathias Storch's Singnagtugaq: A Greenlander's Dream -- apparently the first Greenlandic novel (first published in 1914), and now available in English, from, of course, the International Polar Institute Press (the seventh in their 'Adventures in New Lands'-series).
       Dead languages aside, Romansh probably (just) edges out Greenlandic as the language with the fewest speakers any books under review at the complete review were written in -- but it's close. I do hope to find some more modern translated-from-the-Greenlandic fiction. (Maybe this year's Nordic Council Literature Prize-nominated Zombiet Nunaat, by Sørine Steenholdt -- see the milik publicity page --, if it gets translated .....)
       (It's also not the last of the Scandinavian languages I want to get to -- there's still Sami, Faroese .....)

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1011. npm pmmu #17: I go and lie down

This month I'm posting daily Poetry-Music Match-Ups, and you're invited to join me! 
(See the bottom* of the post for ideas.)  When I don't have a crowd-sourced combo 
scheduled, I'll share one of my own many, many PMMUs!  If something comes to your
 mind, send it to me HERE.
    Today the exquisite new green of the trees against our blue, blue Maryland sky put me in mind of this poem, even as I heard on the radio about the Pacific “ring of fire” and not one but two places on earth quaked to pieces.

When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

from The Selected Poems of Wendell Berry. Copyright © 1998.
Source: Collected Poems 1957-1982 (Counterpoint Press, 1985)

I’ve heard this musical setting (by Malcolm Dalglish) a number of times and even sung it myself—curious to consider how a composer deals with a free verse poem like this one, when music wants so often to be patterned and cycled and symmetrical.  There are several different compositions for "The Peace of Wild Things";  everybody wants to feel that, I guess.

performed by The Starry Mountain Singers

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1012. THE ROSE AND THE DAGGER by Renee Ahdieh \\ Jaw-dropping, Suspenseful, Heartbreaking, SO SWOONWORTHY, and Utterly Unforgettable...

by Becca & Andye (squee!) THE ROSE & THE DAGGERThe Wrath and the Dawn #2by Renee AhdiehAge Range: 12 and up Grade Level: 7 and upSeries: The Wrath and the DawnHardcover: 432 pagesPublisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers (April 26, 2016)Audio CDPublisher: Listening Library (Audio); Unabridged edition (May 3, 2016)Goodreads | Amazon | Audible The much anticipated sequel to the

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1013. Escape the Room

This is the box cover art I did for Escape the Room, Mystery at the Stargazer's Manor by Think Fun.

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1014. Meet the cover model for The Body in the Woods

Wow! Meet Isabelle Varga, the model pictured on the cover of The Body in the Woods. She recently contacted me to let me know that she is not only on the cover, she is also a fan. So of course I asked her a bunch of questions.

Q. How did you get into modeling?
A. I started modeling right before I turned 15. I was competing for Miss New Jersey Teen USA and a photographer who was doing my headshot for the pageant called an agency and I was signed as a model.

Q. Are you still in school?
A. I go to high school and take off when I get called to work. It was hard at first to balance modeling and school but I learned to do all of my homework in the car or on set at lunch break. I also learned to get ahead of assignments on weekends if I knew I was booked for a job that following week. My time management skills are really good from working.

Q. Do you have to be accompanied by an adult?
A. My mom always came with me to the shoots. Now that I am almost 19 I drive myself to most shoots. I am fortunate to work with the same clients so I know the team very well.

Q. How much did you know about the book before you did the shoot?
A. When I was called to shoot for your book cover I didn't know much until I got to the studio. The photographer, Jonathan Barkat, was shooting several different covers at once. I was told the name of the book at the shoot. I was not allowed to take any pictures since it was not going to be released for several months.

Q. How much of what you see on the cover is real and how much was done in Photoshop?
A. It was an awesome shoot....the dirt and ferns were real and they were piled around me and on me as I lay on the floor. They did several different poses until they found the one they liked best. The eyeshadow was real and it was super cool to see the images on the computer. I did not see the final image until it came out.

Q. How long did it take?
A. The shoot took about 7 hours because several covers for other books were shot simultaneously. Your cover probably took about 2-3 hours. It was a lot of putting the dirt and ferns on me then taking them off to move positions then covering me again.

Q. Do you like modeling? What do you plan to do after you graduate high school?
A. I absolutely love modeling. It has been an amazing experience to work with some of the best photographers and makeup artists in the world. I absolutely loved shooting your cover. The first time I saw it in Barnes and Noble was incredibly fun. All of my friends texted me when it came out. I also loved shooting a Canon commercial which aired in Tokyo. I am very fortunate to have been exposed to different cultures and amazing adults who have helped shaped me into the person I am today. I have a very strong work ethic which started when I began modeling. I was just accepted into college and I will attend Bentley University in MA in Sept. I am going to study Marketing and Media and Culture in college with a minor in management. I hope to work for a major fashion company one day in their marketing department. I also plan to compete in more pageants and hope to be Miss USA one day.

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1015. I Wrote This: School Leadership Blog Series

Finding a way to actively model the things that we want for our teachers, students, families, and community members helps move everything forward...but most of all, it really makes you a better you.

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1016. Looking for stories you’re afraid to tell

The Chaos is a new journal of personal narrative, publishing true stories of personal growth, lessons learned, life-changing events, and milestones from emerging and established writers. From the editor: “We’re looking for the stories you are afraid to tell, but know you must” — unique perspectives on familiar experiences, writing that ventures into the mind of the writer or the scene of the story. Deadline: Rolling.

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1017. Science + Poetry = The sun and sun safety

Here is another installment in my series of science poetry tied to science-themed picture books. My graduate student, Amy Kennedy (in my "Poetry for Children" class) selected the focus on “the sun and sun safety” from the series of professional resource books, "Picture Perfect Science Lessons" by Karen Ansberry and Emily Morgan (and published by the National Science Teachers Association). Here are her three infographics centered around the sun and sun safety.The focus picture book is:
  • Sunshine on My Shoulders by John Denver, ill. by Christopher Canyon
The poem that Amy has matched with this book is “The Sun” by Louise Fabrice Handcock from her book,The Su, the Moon, and the Stars. Below is a graphic featuring all these books, followed by the featured poem, and then the Take 5 activities to accompany the poem along with a "bonus" poem, “What I Know About the Sun” by Eileen Spinelli from The Poetry of Science. Enjoy!

Science of poetry graphics created by Amy Kennedy
<!--[if gte mso 9]> Normal 0 false false false EN-US JA X-NONE <![endif]-->
Image credit: dialoguealumninews.wordpress.com

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1018. Saved by a Book

Being sick is such a drag.
Your spirits sag, the hours lag;
But if you have the perfect book,*
Your bed becomes a cozy nook.

The pages turn, the chapters fly.
You’ll wonder why, as time goes by,
You can’t indulge in such delight
When you are feeling quite all right.

Alas, you’ve reached the dread “The End.”
You must pretend you’re on the mend.
Tomorrow looms with hours to kill
And no new book to fill the bill.

*All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

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I could NOT be prouder of these amazing students at Hampden Meadows Elementary School in Barrington, Rhode Island!

Thank you to Ms. Mitchell and her creative students!!

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1020. NPM Celebrations - World Heritage Day

April 18th is World Heritage Day. UNESCO established this day in 1983 as the International Day for Monuments and Sites. This celebration is designed to "raise public awareness about the diversity and vulnerability of the world's built monuments and heritage sites and the efforts required to protect and conserve them." World Heritage sites can be cultural, natural, or a mixture of both. To date there are 1007 sites on the list, located in 161 countries around the world.

National Geographic Book of Nature Poetry: More than 200 Poems With Photographs That Float, Zoom, and Bloom! (2015), edited by J. Patrick Lewis, is  a collection of classic and contemporary poems that celebrate the variety of life and landscapes on Earth. You'll find poems about a number of natural heritage sites here, including the Great Barrier Reef, Yellowstone National Park, the Grand Canyon, Galápagos: Hood Island, and more. Here are two poems about natural heritage sites outside the United States.

Lake Baikal
The oldest and deepest lake on Earth,
Lake Baikal, in the south of the Russian
region of Siberia, holds a fifth of the planet's 
unfrozen freshwater.

If Earth could fit within your cupped hands,
and the lands slipped free between the fingers,
and the skies' blue released between the thumbs,
and the oceans' tears seeped along your arms,

then you hold the planet's water in your palm.
Lift it to your lips. Sip that primal fresh.
And that crazed marble, that sapphire cat's-eye
in the rivulet that crosses your creased flesh?

That is Lake Baikal: frozen time.
Gaze into the blue. That glint?
It's Earth's beginning
staring back at you.

Poem © Michael J. Rosen. All rights reserved.

Wonder Down Under
Uluru (Ayers Rock), Australia

I'm know around the rockin' world by many,
enchanted by my ruddy, wrinkled dome.
But neighbors of my ilk? I don't have any.
The harsh and empty outback is my home.
My power is mysterious and mythic.
My people, the Anangu, understand
that I am more than simply monolithic—
I am a huge Australian rock star in the sand.

And though I love your awe and admiration,
applaud me from a distance if you will.
I'm big enough for long range observation,
and I can guarantee you'll get a thrill.
In photos or in person you will gawk,

even if you'r not a fan of rock.

Poem © Ted Scheu. All rights reserved.

A World of Wonders: Geographic Travels in Verse and Rhyme (2002), written by J. Patrick Lewis and illustrated by Alison Jay, is a collection of poems about explorers, places on the map (Sandwich Islands, Italy, Angel Falls, Mount Everest etc.), the globe itself (latitude v. longitude, equator and the poles), earth science topics (aurora borealis, San Andreas fault, stalactites v. stalagmites), and many other things. This is a terrific book for introducing a mix of geography topics, as well as science topics like biomes, ecology and natural resources. The poem below is actually a shape poem that was hard to reproduce here, so be sure to click the image above to see what it's meant to look like.

Angel Falls
3,212 feet tall

t h e 
w o r l d ' s
t  a  l  l  e  s  t
t    h    u    n    d    e    r    -
s       h       o       w       e       r       !

 Poem ©J. Patrick Lewis, 2002. All rights reserved.

Lady Liberty: A Biography (2008), written by Doreen Rappaport and illustrated by Matt Tavares, is a collection of free verse poems that tells the story of the project that eventually saw the completion of the Statue of Liberty, a project that stretched over 20 years and took place on two continents. 

Joseph Pulitzer
Publisher, New York World
New York City, August 1886

Liberty's skeleton is now anchored
to the pedestal,
bolted to huge girders
that protrude from the concrete.
Eighty-nine feet tall, twenty feet thick,
and faced with granite,
the pedestal is more majestic than I had hoped.
I am humbled by my readers' generosity.
Many who have so little gave so much
to build this noble structure.

Liberty arrived in 214 crates.
On her trip across the ocean,
vicious storms buffeted the ship.
Labels fell off crates.
Pieces of her copper skin were shaken.
Many need to be reshaped.

Slowly each copper sheet
is hoisted up with heavy ropes.
The workers sit on the crossbars,
fitting her copper skin to the skeleton.
When one piece doesn't fit,
they haul up another and try it,
then another,
until they find the right one.
The first piece of copper skin attached
to the skeleton is name "Bartholdi."
The second piece is christened "Pulitzer."

Each day she grows more beautiful.
I predict that those who once mocked her
will soon love her and understand
her power and significance.

Poem ©Doreen Rappaport, 2008. All rights reserved.

An Old Shell: Poems of the Galapagos (1999), written by Tony Johnston and illustrated by Tom Pohrt, is a collection of 34 poems (most written in free verse, though a few are written in haiku) in which Johnston pays tribute to the wonder that is the Galapagos. The book opens with a two-page map of the islands. The poem topics include the sea, the islands, animals, plants, and more. 

The Birth of Fernandina Island

One molten morning
the world
in sprays of sparks,
plumes of smoke,
     of lava,
from the sea's crucible
with a great hiss
to make this terrible

Nesting, Genovesa Island

Watch the white petals
of fluttering gulls brush the
stone face of the cliff.

Poems ©Tony Johnston, 1999. All rights reserved.

Gary Geddes, a contemporary Canadian poet, wrote a series of poems in the voices of figures in the Terracotta Army. The Terracotta Army is a collection of terracotta sculptures depicting the armies of Qin Shi Huang, the first Emperor of China.


Before double-ninth day, my measure was taken
in a single sitting, so sure were Lao Bi’s

eye and hand. The tenth month I returned
with armoured vest and spear and struck a pose

that pleased him so much he laughed out loud
and threw his wineskin at my feet.

He called me the youngest of the Immortals
and promised me a place in the glory-line.

The likeness was uncanny, not just the face,
but the way the sleeves bunched up at the wrists,

studs and fluted leather of the shoulder-pads.
I was drawn to it again and again as if by magic.

One day, without warning, we left for the frontier
and I felt a greater reluctance

to part with this pottery replica of myself
than I had in taking leave of my own village.

Bi used to slap me on the back and say,
you’re too serious to be a soldier.

Poems ©Gary Geddes. All rights reserved.

You can read additional poems at BBC Radio 4: Terracotta Army.

If you are interested in the World Heritage sites highlighted in these poems, you'll find them at the links below.
That's it for today. I hope you'll join me tomorrow for our next celebration.

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1021. $1000 prize each for poetry and fiction

Room Magazine is accepting entries for their annual Poetry and Fiction Contest. Prize in each genre: $1000 plus publication. Judged by Marilyn Dumont (poetry) and Doretta Lau (fiction). Room’s contests are open to women, trans*, two-spirited, and genderqueer people. Deadline: July 15, 2016.

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1022. Cover Reveal: Black Lightning by K.S. Jones...

Welcome to the Cover Reveal for K.S. Jones' upcoming release

Black Lightning!!

Book Information:

From the award-winning author of Shadow of the Hawk

Title: Black Lightning

Author Name: K.S. Jones

Genre(s): Middle Grade, Science Fiction, Fantasy

Length: Approx. 136 pages

Release Date: May 17, 2016

ISBN eBook:  978-1-987976-12-0
ISBN Paperback:  978-1-987976-11-3

Publisher:  Mirror World Publishing 

Are You Ready for the Cover?

About Black Lightning:

Life moves on — no matter what...

Following his father’s puzzling disappearance and his mother’s death, ten-year-old Samuel Baker goes through the motions of living in a world turned upside down. He wears an Apache talisman, a long ago gift from his father, in hopes its promise of strength and guidance is true. But what he truly wants is the power to bring his parents back. 

Heartless Aunt Janis is elated at the prospect of becoming Samuel’s legal guardian. She is sure an orphan boy will elicit such an outpouring of public sympathy that her husband will win his Senate bid by a landslide. But when Grandpa Tate arrives, things don’t go as expected, especially when black lightning strikes!

Read an Excerpt:

Samuel stood beside his mother’s rain-speckled casket. He had cried his tears dry, so there was no point in trying to find more.

“Chin up, young man,” Aunt Janis said as her fingers nudged Samuel’s jaw upward. “Death is just part of life, and our photographer needs a good picture of you for the newspapers.”

A camera flashed, leaving Samuel’s red and swollen eyes burning as if stung by the sun instead of grief.

So many important days had come and gone without his father, but surely he would come home today, wouldn’t he? Samuel closed his eyes. He pretended his father was beside him holding his hand. They had a right to hold hands, he told himself. Not because he was ten, but because it was his mother’s funeral. Two years had passed since his father left, never to be seen again. Vanished, was the word his mother had used. Into thin air, she’d said.

“Take that silly thing off.” Aunt Janis flicked Samuel’s wood and bead necklace.

“No,” he said and shook his head. “My dad gave it to me.” It was a pinewood tile, the size of a domino shaved nickel-thin, which hung from a leather cord around his neck. Burned onto the front side of the wood was a lightning bolt. Its flipside bore the blackened imprint of a tribal dancer. It had a turquoise nugget and a shiny black hematite bead strung together on each side. His father had given the talisman to him with a promise: It will guide you and give you strength when you need it most.

Today, dressed in a black suit and starchy white shirt, Samuel wore it in hopes the promise was true.

As mourners gathered, Samuel’s friend Brian came to stand beside him. “Hey,” he said.

“Hey,” Samuel answered without taking his eyes off the casket.

“Is that the necklace your dad gave you? You don’t usually wear it.” Brian’s wire-rimmed glasses slid down his straight arrow nose. He pushed them back up the bridge with one finger until they encircled his eyes again. “Can I see it? I promise I’ll give it right back.”

“It’s not a necklace.” Samuel pulled the leather cord off over his head, mussing his overgrown blond hair. “It’s a talisman.” He handed it to Brian. “My dad said it would help me, but it hasn’t done anything yet. I think it was just one of his stories. It’s probably just an old piece of scrap wood with a couple rocks tied to it.”

Brian shrugged after examining the piece then he handed it back to Samuel. “I think it’s cool. You should keep wearing it anyway.”

Nodding, Samuel hung the talisman around his neck again, but this time he dropped it down beneath his shirt where it was no longer visible. It felt warm against his skin.

“Has anybody told you where you’re going to live now?” Brian asked.

“Probably with Aunt Janis and Uncle Jack.”

Brian frowned. He kicked the tip of his shoe into the muddy soil. “They live so far away. Why can’t you just stay here and live with Mrs. Abel? She doesn’t have any kids.”

Mrs. Abel was their fourth grade teacher. She had plainly stated to all who would listen that her job was to teach the proper use of the English language to children who behaved properly. A babysitter, she had said, she was not. Today, she stood in the rain with the other mourners, eyeing the ground where the hem of her long, gray dress lay caked in mud. Tufts of brown hair jutted out from under her pink plaid scarf. Even though she stood a few feet from him, she had not spoken to Samuel since his mother’s death. Few people had. Everyone had words for Aunt Janis and they talked to Uncle Jack, but no one but Brian and a few classmates had spoken to him. Maybe talking to an orphan was harder than talking to a normal kid.


“If you’ve forgotten the magic that lives in a child’s heart, this book will remind you. Black Lightning is a rare and beautiful mythic journey about one boy’s struggle with paralyzing grief and the powerful bonds that can carry a person through this world and beyond...” W. Michael Gear and Kathleen O’Neal Gear USA TODAY and NEW YORK TIMES bestselling authors of People of the Thunder

Meet the Author:

Everyone has a story. Tell it so well that the world listens!

Karen (K.S.) Jones grew up in California, but now lives in the beautiful Texas Hill Country northwest of San Antonio with her husband, Richard, and their dogs Jack Black, Libby Loo, and Red Bleu. Black Lightning is her first middle-grade novel. She credits her love of fantasy to the early influences of authors J.R.R. Tolkien, Jules Verne, and H.G. Wells. Her award-winning first novel, Shadow of the Hawk, a Young Adult Historical, released in 2015.

Visit K.S. Jones:

Visit Tour Hosts Featuring the Cover:

Jojo Debrazza 

Book Babble 

Sharon Ledwith: I came. I saw. I wrote. 

Bookworm for Kids 

Fang-tastic Books 

Tales from the Bayou and Other Worlds


T's Stuff 

Literary Escapism 

Vampyre Lady's Book Stuff 

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1023. The Dreamers of Dreams

The Dreamers of Dreams by Addy Farmer 

We are the dreamers of dreams - Roald Dahl

My grandmother used to tell me that I was dizzy-dolly-daydream. She said it quite a lot and I began to wonder if this was a good thing, so I finally asked her what it meant.

She said that me being in my own funny little world was a bit frustrating for her; however, she thought that that dreamers were important. The important bit made me feel ten feet tall but with little idea of what she was on about since most of my mental meanderings were to do with going to Sweety Land where I could eat everything in sight or jumping into a puddle which took me to the seaside or rescuing a sad donkey/mouse/rabbit from certain doom.
A real donkey being rescued! Don't worry - he was fine and happy
Then Granny being the pragmatic woman she was, added, 'But you do need to do something with your dreams, dear.' Thanks, Granny.
Only in our dreams are we free. The rest of the time we need wages. Terry Pratchett
We can range free in our daydreams, slip the surly bonds of earth and all that, though we are strangely constrained by some inner logic in our night-dreams and nightmares. Whatever they are - daydreams, night-dreams, nightmares - maybe the stuff that dreams are made of can make a story ... and turn the insubstantial into substance. You must have had dreams you remember? I have had dreams in which I'm falling off a tall building, only to land on a squashy car (I've had this at least three times) and the embarrassing dream in which I find myself swimming in a public pool with no costume on (please do not analyse). I have also had dreams which rehearse an important event and woken with a sense of security about what's to come (quite useful but uncontrollable).

It was all a dream ...
I have also dreamed of the dead. I have done this twice. In my dreams I talked to those lost ones, forgetting that they were dead until waking when the memory of loss returned with the most crushing sadness. So my dreams are rubbish for plotting but they have on occasion been wonderful for feeling.
And then, in dreaming,
The clouds methought would open and show riches
Ready to drop upon me, that when I waked
I cried to dream again. Caliban, The Tempest, Shakespeare
Back to Granny. When I was about eight I had an incredible experience. I so loved being with Granny at her house and I would frequently dream about being there. One night, I dreamed about my bedroom in that house - the perfumey scent, the sunshine on the bed, the creaking wardrobe door. I woke up and for a glorious few seconds I was there - in that bed, in my granny's house and my happiness was like sunshine. It lasted no time and I woke up again, confused and with a terrible weight of disappointment and a fierce yearning to be back there. Sometimes, I think that this it is what being a ghost might feel like - a tremendous yearning to get back to life. I haven't knowingly used this experience in my work but I recognise it in other stories.
Don't let her in, you fool
Like Cathy's ghost in Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte.
knocking my knuckles through the glass, and stretching an arm out to seize the importunate branch: instead of which, my fingers closed on the fingers of a little, ice-cold hand. The intense horror of nightmare came over me: I tried to draw back my arm, but the hand clung to it, and a most melancholy voice sobbed, "Let me in—let me in!"
Set on the wild and windy moors, Bronte’s Victorian classic has lots of dream-like qualities. There are several occasions when characters are guided by their dreams. The character Lockwood has an unsettling dream about a brawl at an endless church sermon while staying at Wuthering Heights, while Catherine accepts a marriage proposal from Edgar after connecting a dream about going to heaven with their union.
‘I have dreamt in my life, dreams that have stayed with me ever after, and changed my ideas; they have gone through and through me, like wine through water, and altered the colour of my mind. And this is one: I’m going to tell it – but take care not to smile at any part of it.’ the Housekeeper
There are those books which deal directly with dreams like one of my favourites, 'Marianne Dreams' by Catherine Storr.

Ill and bored with having to stay in bed, Marianne picks up a pencil and starts doodling - a house, a garden, a boy at the window. That night she has an extraordinary dream whereby she is transported into her own picture, and as she explores further she soon realises she is not alone. The boy at the window is called Mark, and his every movement is guarded by the menacing stone watchers that surround the solitary house. This story is creepy, disturbing and I realised that it echoed one of my own childhood nightmares where a witch lived in the house next door and I had to devise lots of ways to escape her attentions. 
Soooooo atmospheric and dreamlike in quality

How about Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. There is a door at the end of a silent corridor. And it's haunting Harry Potter's dreams. Why else would he be waking in the middle of the night, screaming in terror?


As with Agamemnon’s dreams, courtesy of Zeus (I've waited a long time to reveal that nugget of knowledge), Harry is also led astray by subconscious thoughts implanted by a villain. 

I love a spooky door
And, as if you ever needed an affirmation of Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore’s wisdom, he also has something to say about dreams:

I cannot write about dreams without referring to Alice in Wonderland by the peerless Lewis Carroll

Lewis Carroll really took full advantage of the limitless possibilities of writing within a dream setting. The 19th century author used Alice’s ability to get lost in the dream state and make connections and observations in her real life – much like we all actually do when dreaming.

‘Yes, that’s it! Said the Hatter with a sigh, it’s always tea time.’

Then there's, Mary Shelley's, Frankenstein

With a head full of an evening’s talk of reanimation and galvanism, Mary Godwin did not sleep well: “My imagination, unbidden, possessed and guided me, gifting the successive images that arose in my mind with a vividness far beyond the usual bounds of reverie?.I saw the pale student of unhallowed arts kneeling beside the thing he had put together. I saw the hideous phantasm of a man stretched out?” She realized she had found her “ghost story.” “What terrified me will terrify others; and I need only describe the spectre which had haunted my midnight pillow.”

Twilight by Stephanie Meyer

In June of 2003, suburban Arizona mother Stephenie Meyer woke up from an intense dream in which two young lovers were lying together in a meadow, discussing why their love could never work. On her website, Meyers says, “One of these people was just your average girl. The other person was fantastically beautiful, sparkly, and a vampire. They were discussing the difficulties inherent in the facts that A) they were falling in love with each other while B) the vampire was particularly attracted to the scent of her blood, and was having a difficult time restraining himself from killing her immediately.”

Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson

His horror classic also sprang into existence because of its writer’s graphic nightmares. In this case, a “fine bogey tale” tormenting him as he slept grew into one of the most famous and genuinely scary English-language novels ever penned — most especially considering its all-too-human antagonist and protagonist.

"In the small hours of the morning," says Mrs Stevenson, "I was awakened by cries of horror from Louis. Thinking he had a nightmare, I woke him. He said angrily, 'Why did you wake me? I was dreaming a fine bogey tale.' I had awakened him at the first transformation scene ..."
Stuart Little by E.B. White:

One of the most memorable and beloved characters from children’s literature entered into E.B. White’s subconscious in the 1920s, though he didn’t transition from notes to novel until over two decades later. From there, the tiny boy with the face and fur of a mouse became a classic.

Dream on, dreamers! (And thanks, Granny)

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1024. I Wrote This: School Leadership Blog Series

Finding a way to actively model the things that we want for our teachers, students, families, and community members helps move everything forward...but most of all, it really makes you a better you.

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1025. Harry Potter’s Miriam Margolyes Gives a Hilarious Interview on Growing Old

Miriam Margolyes is just as witty, if not more so, than her character of Professor Sprout in Harry Potter. Miriam recently sat down with the British news website, the Mirror, to discuss growing old, farting, and partying with Prince Charles. Three things that do not commonly get mentioned in the same sentence together.

The Harry Potter actress, who has acclaim for many other roles as well, including her BAFTA for best supporting actress in Martin Scorsese’s The Age Of Innocence, will turn 75 this May. She is currently awaiting surgery for a knee replacement just before her birthday. Miriam spoke about her health in a half-serious, half-joking manner, saying:


 ‘One of the worst things about ageing,’ she says, rubbing her leg, ‘is the waning of your physical powers; I live in a house with 64 stairs and I simply cannot run up and down them any more, my knee has conked out.’

‘If I could give my younger self one piece of advice,’ she booms, ‘I would say, “lose weight”.

“I’ve been fat my whole life and pretended I don’t mind. But I do mind. It’s really stupid that I’ve gone on being greedy and fat. I’m going to be 75 in May. How can I have lived this long and not know anything?’

‘I don’t care what I look like, I must be comfortable. I can see some of my friends have had plastic surgery and Botox, but I’m not the least bit interested in it.’

She then tells us about one of her friends – a famous actress of a similar age – whose terrible facelift appalled her. ‘She was a beautiful woman, but that damaged little face, it’s heartbreaking.’

One perk of age, she concedes, is you stop giving a damn. She was recently at Edinburgh station and when a young man refused her request to give up his seat for her – she emptied her water bottle over his head.

‘It was naughty. But he didn’t get hurt, just wet, and it did feel fabulous,’ she chuckles.

‘Getting older is a hideous experience, I’m so glad I only have to do it once. But I’ve kept my mind, my career, my relationship, and I have enough money – I know I’ve been blessed. And if the work I’ve done has entertained people that makes me happy.’


The Mirror met Miriam at her home for her interview. The interview was a promotional for Miriam’s current project, ITV2’sAncient Rome-set comedy, Plebs. Miriam talked about why she took certain acting jobs over others and the importance of friends in her career.  The Mirror reports:


‘I turn down all sorts of jobs because I don’t want to waffle on about b*****ks. But I took Plebs because they film it in Bulgaria, a fascinating place. I take any job abroad because I love to travel.’

Indeed, earlier this year Miriam was in Jaipur, India, where she filmed the BBC’s Real Marigold Hotel with seven fellow well-known pensioners.

It was hugely popular and more episodes are planned later this year. ‘I loved the experience so much I would have paid them to take me,’ she says. ‘We all email each other and meet up, it’s like we are eight new, old friends, it’s lovely.’

‘There is this huge sadness to losing your friends – people you have loved and imagined would always know, then leave your life. That’s the saddest part. I’m not someone who believes old age is a blessing – b*****ks! – it’s f***ing awful and you get through it as best you can.’


Miriam says she used to enjoy parties, but has now grown to old for them and prefers small social gatherings. However, she will make an exception for Prince Charles. The Mirror said:


One party she did enjoy was at Sandringham, when she was invited by Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall a few years back. ‘It was terrific! I’m a socialist but I am very much in favour of them. He’s a terrific bloke and we had a huge laugh. I’m so glad he’s found happiness with this lady who he should have married first time around.’


Miriam went on to discuss living with no regrets, embarrassing topics she doesn’t mind talking about on talk shows, what embarrasses her, and more. The original article, pictures of Miriam throughout her acting career, and video clips can be seen here.

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