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1. NYCC ’15: Diversity Sells Out

Diversity is a recurring theme in panels at this year’s New York Comic-Con, mirroring a trend in fandom nationwide. Race, gender, physical ability, mental health, even geeks as an emerging protected class – amidst the how-to’s and PR announcements, programming about diversity is filling rooms and getting headlines. The power of this theme is something […]

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2. Exploring Autumn with Apps and Websites

Autumn has arrived here in Northeastern Ohio, bringing with it crisp weather, all things pumpkin, and beautiful fall foliage. The trees are only starting to reveal their brilliant hues of orange, yellow, gold and red here, but soon I’ll awaken to a glowing landscape that seemingly exploded overnight. As this season traditionally brings many requests for fall themed library materials, as well as special fall programming, I was inspired to think of ways that technology may add further enjoyment and educational opportunities to this time.

The best way to experience the beauty of fall is to strap on your hiking shoes and venture to the nearest wooded park (or your backyard!). Bringing along your smartphone or tablet, loaded with fall foliage apps, can enhance your exploration of autumn’s beauty. Children of a variety of ages will enjoy learning more about our natural environment with these  apps and websites highlighted below, although most young users not yet in elementary school may need some parent or caregiver help.

  • Yankee Leaf PeeprThis free app by Yankee Publishing Inc., available for Apple and Android devices, provides you with a very handy color-coded map that indicates where the leaves are changing anywhere in the United States. Users contribute to the map by posting photos and ratings of the foliage, making this app not only useful, but
    Image from https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.ypi.leafpeepr&hl=en.

    Image from https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.ypi.leafpeepr&hl=en.

    interactive. The current foliage color is determined by averaging user ratings in a geographic area.
  • Chimani apps- These apps, offered as free downloads on all major mobile platforms,  are a really fun way to explore various National Parks. They help you with planning your trip, letting you know when Ranger-led trips occur, and more. These apps work with or without WiFi or a data signal, which is especially helpful when you are out on the trail.
  • LeafSnapOnce you’ve found some beautiful leaves, you may be left wondering what kind of tree they’re a part of. Make this a great learning opportunity with LeafSnap! Developed by researchers at Columbia University, the University of Maryland, and the Smithsonian Institute, LeafSnap helps users identify trees by allowing users to take a picture of a leaf from the tree and then providing them with the species. The app is free for iPhone and iPad, and also has a website displaying tree species. The only negative is that this is only usable for species found in the Northeastern United States and Canada.
  • U.S. Forest Service website and Yonder app–  The U.S. Forest Service has partnered with Yonder, a free app, to help nature lovers share their adventures. The website also provides a map of fall color based on eyewitness accounts and allows users to choose their state or local forest to see specific fall foliage information. You can find weekly color updates in your state using this tool!
  • Foliage Network – The fall foliage prediction map on this website helps users visual the changing leaves around the United States and plan when to see the most beautiful colors in your neighborhood.

You can pair these fun apps and websites with traditional activities for a great autumn library program. How about leaf rubbing (which was recently discussed here on the blog), sharing a classic fall read-aloud such as Ehlert’s “Red Leaf, Yellow Leaf” and then using LeafSnap to identify the tree outside the storytime window? There are many possibilities to incorporate technology and nature into library programs and family time. What are some of your favorite hi- or low-tech autumn extension activities? ___________________________________________________________

Nicole Lee Martin is a Children’s Librarian at the Rocky River Public Library in Rocky River, OH and is writing this post for the Children and Technology Committee. You can reach her at n.martin@rrpl.org.

The post Exploring Autumn with Apps and Websites appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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3. thoughts on M.T. Anderson and Nicola Yoon's new YA books, In New York Journal of Books

My thoughts on two new YA books—M. T Anderson's Symphony for the City of the Dead and Nicola Yoon's Everything, Everything—in the New York Journal of Books.

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4. Guptill on Reflected Light

In his book "Color in Sketching and Rendering" Arthur Guptill recommends painting simple objects with black watercolor to study the effects of light. 

Start with uniformly colored objects set up in window light. Then, later, you can put the same objects outdoors in the sun "to acquaint you with the vitality of outdoor light."

In this demonstration example, he sets up a simple paperboard box with light coming from the left. One of the first questions to ask is which is the lightest plane (E) and which is the darkest (A and F). You can hold up a piece of cardboard of the same color next to the object and turn it in various angles to the light to see how the tones change to match those of the subject.

Even a single plane can vary a lot in tone. He notes that (a) is darker than (b) because of the falloff of the reflected light coming from the right. 

In this study, Guptill says, "interesting reflected lights have crept into the shadow tone at (A) Note how the inside corner (e) has been sacrificed to express depth and detachment."

After doing a few of these studies, it will be much easier to paint a more complex or dynamic subject, such as a building, a figure, a portrait, or an animal.
From Arthur Guptill's book Color in Sketching and Rendering.
If you like this post, you'll also like:
Arthur Guptill Renders a Window
Guptill's Right and Wrong Methods
Sepia Wash Drawing
Cast Shadow in the Foreground

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5. Starting novel and switching characters

Question: I have begun writing a novel but sometimes i get lost. It is about a woman who has left a abusive man for another man who she marries, of course

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6. Crowd control

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7. Lana's World. Let's Go Fishing

Lana's World: Let's Go Fishing. Erica Silverman. Illustrated by Jess Golden. 2015. HMH. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: "Let's go fishing," said Lana.

Premise/plot: Lana spends the first several pages of this early reader trying to get the rest of her family to go fishing with her. Her Papa. Her Mama. Her brothers, Jay and Ray. Her dog, Furry. No one "wants" to go fishing, so, off she heads to her bedroom to fish by herself...

My thoughts: I love Lana, her imagination, and her family. I liked the focus on playing pretend, and, I love how her family eventually joined in on the fun.

The book is a Level 2 Green Light Reader published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. (Level 2 is "reading with help.")

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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8. My tweets

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9. Seuss on Saturday #41

Would You Rather Be A Bullfrog? Theo LeSieg (Dr. Seuss). Illustrated by Roy McKie. 1975. Random House. 36 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: Tell me! Would you rather be a Dog...or be a Cat? It's time for you to think about important things like that. 

Premise/plot: The narrator asks readers a long series of questions. All questions are silly--or at the very least playful--but some are sillier than others. Some questions are about which animal you'd rather be. Others are about inanimate objects like...would you rather be a ball or a bat OR would you rather be a door or window.

My thoughts: First time reading this one. Honestly I'm not sure I have a decided opinion on it. I certainly liked it better than I thought I would. But I had low expectations in mind. I wasn't expecting it to be a great find, something I'd been "missing" in my life. It was fun in its way. And I think I liked it well enough. Perhaps it will help me remember the difference between rather and whether.

Have you read Would You Rather Be A Bullfrog? Did you like it? love it? hate it? I'd love to know what you thought of it!

Please Try to Remember the First of Octember. Theo LeSieg (Dr. Seuss). Illustrated by Art Cumings. 1977. Random House. 48 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: Everyone wants a big green kangaroo. Maybe, perhaps, you would like to have TWO. I want you to have them. I'll buy them for you... if you'll wait till the first of Octember.

Premise/plot: All your dreams and wishes will come true...on the first of Octember. "You'll get all that you want. You just write out your list. Everyone has an Octember First list. Write slowly now! Don't break your wrist.

My thoughts: Dare I admit I want to write an Octember First list?!?! I had low expectations for this one. I didn't think it would be much of a book. But I really ended up liking it. If you haven't read it yet, you should!

 Have you read Please Try to Remember The First of Octember!? Did you like it? love it? hate it? I'd love to know what you thought of it!

If you'd like to join me in reading or rereading Dr. Seuss (chronologically) I'd love to have you join me! The next book I'll be reviewing is I Can Read With My Eyes Shut.

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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10. Social Media - Instagram for kids? - a mindwrap

Unwrapping Instagram...

All kids love to be in photos and to share those photos with family and friends is such a cool thing to do.  Instagram lets you add fabulous effects and captions to both your photos and videos and lets you easily share them across many social media platforms.  Kids can add borders, add blurring and brightness and really get their imaginations pumping.  

But is Instagram really where you want your child spending his/her time?  If you take a few minutes to check it out you will find a lot of racy content on it. The terms specify that users should be at least 13 years old and should not post questionable, inappropriate content.  Photos there are public and may have location information unless privacy settings are adjusted.  Instagram Direct allows users to send private photos directly to other users. "Tinder" users can access other "Tinder" users' Instagram feeds directly from within the "Tinder" app, even on private Instagram feeds if "Tinder" integratrion is enabled.  

One of the biggest drawbacks of Instagram is the instant feedback you can get.  Collecting a large number of followers...flattering comments...is a badge of honour for some.  One the other hand, negative comments can be really hurtful.  If your child uses Instagram, make sure she knows how to comment respectfully and deal with haters.

Unwrapping kid alternatives...



Did you know that there is an Instagram for kids? It's called Kuddle, and the photo-sharing application was designed by developers in Norway who built the thing with the noblest of intentions. It's designed, first and foremost, to teach kids manners and discourage online bullying.
Investors seem to be keen on the idea, too. Reuters reports that the company raised $2 million in funding recently and is about to raise $8 million more, the bulk of which will be used to make a major push in the United States market before the year's end. By that time it could exceed upward of a million users.

When you first join you only have one friend: Someone named Kodi Kuddle—apparently the service's version of MySpace Tom—who by the looks of it has a natural knack for photography. 

Posting a photo is easy, and you can scribble on your creations just like you can in Snapchat. And while you can write captions for your posts, you can't leave comments. (Remember: Comments are where bullies hang out.) Likes are anonymized, and other users must confirm your friend request before you can view their photos.
Yes, Kuddle wants to teach our kids how to use social media while preserving their basic human decency, but it does so by stripping out all the aspects that make something like Instagram inherently social. What does that say about us? Your guess is as good as mine!
"We are very happy with the growth so far," founder and chairwoman Kathryn Baker tells Reuters. "We have had an average daily growth of 10 to 15 percent and the uptake has been great."
The major difference between Kuddle and other photo-sharing apps is it's heavily fortified with built-in safeguards. Not just anyone can sign up: When you first create your login, you're prompted to provide the name and email of a parent or guardian over 18, who can monitor your activity. (Hi, Rose!) Until they register, none of your photos are visible.
When you first join you only have one friend: Someone named Kodi Kuddle—apparently the service's version of MySpace Tom—who by the looks of it has a natural knack for photography. (See above.)
Posting a photo is easy, and you can scribble on your creations just like you can in Snapchat. And while you can write captions for your posts, you can't leave comments. (Remember: Comments are where bullies hang out.) Likes are anonymized, and other users must confirm your friend request before you can view their photos.
Yes, Kuddle wants to teach our kids how to use social media while preserving their basic human decency, but it does so by stripping out all the aspects that make something like Instagram inherently social. What does that say about us? Your guess is as good as mine!

London-based tech company Mind Candy wants to become the go-to social network for kids aged 7-12, with a new service called PopJamthat launches today.
PopJam is described by Mind Candy as "a creative community for kids," and sees youngsters cooking up artistic "creations" using stickers, doodles and photos that can then be shared online. Like photo-sharing app Instagram, young users will be able to follow friends or other users, as well as like, share and draw responses to creations they encounter.
London-based Mind Candy -- founded by entrepreneur Michael Acton-Smith in 2004 -- is best known for creating the Moshi Monsters franchise, which began as a social site where youngsters could adopt a virtual pet, interact with other users and take part in puzzles to earn virtual currency. Last year Moshi Monsters hit the 80 million registered users milestones, and the site's popularity has spawned a range of toys, magazines and videogames.

PopJam has, in fact, existed on the iOS and Android app stores for a few months now, under the name "JellyChat." Today sees the formal launch of the final product, however. In a blog post to be published today, Acton Smith says the social network will let kids follow brands, authors, bands and games, but will also host "a large amount" of educational activities.
Safety first
Any online service aimed at children will rightly come under scrutiny in terms of how safe it is for its users. CNET spoke to Laura Higgins, helpline manager at the UK Safer Internet Centre, who said that Mind Candy's approach to child safety online had in the past been "very, very responsible."

"Child protection is at the heart of what they do," Higgins said, noting that the British tech firm has "great moderation processes."
"They generally are seen to be one of the better organisations when it comes to these issues," Higgins said, noting that although she hadn't had a chance to use PopJam yet, good advice for parents is to try out kids' apps for themselves. "As with any app," Higgins said, "if you're going to download something your children will be playing with, go and familiarise yourself, look around, have a play."
Describing PopJam as a "walled-garden where kids can be kids," Mind Candy founder Acton Smith said, "We feel very strongly that without a viable community designed for this younger demographic, kids under 13 will continue using apps designed for over 13 year olds like Instagram, SnapChat and Tumblr."

I hope today's wrap has been helpful.  In this world of technology it is very easy for your child to get involved in things that look fun and cool but can expose them to things that are not age appropriate.  It is our duty as parents to see that they are  well educated, tech savvy but also protected as much as possible.  Check out the above apps and let me know what you think.  I'd love your feedback on them.  Have an amazing day and see you back here on Storywraps on Monday.  If you are a fellow Canadian....Happy Thanksgiving to you!  Gobble! Gobble! Eat lots and enjoy the holiday.   :-)

Read on and read always!

It's a wrap.

Contact me at storywrapsblog@gmail.com

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11. Guptill on Reflected Light

via Gurney Journey http://ift.tt/1P6frBN

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12. Fever of Animals

I can’t remember if I put my hand up to review Miles Allinson’s Fever of Animals or if it was sent to me because the publisher’s PR team thought it might be up my alley. Either way, I was pleasantly and slightly surprised and confused when it arrived. The winner of the 2014 Victorian Premier’s […]

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13. Pop Jam: App Review- "The Creative Community"

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14. Bloomsbury’s #HarryPotterSpotter

It’s time to be a #HarryPotterSpotter!  From now through November 2, Bloomsbury Publishing is sponsoring a Harry Potter artwork scavenger hunt.  Twelve prints of Jim Kay’s illustrations for Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone are currently on display in twelve art museums across Britain, and fans are invited to find them all and document their search on social media.

The hunt is in collaboration with Kids in Museums and The Telegraph.  Clues to the locations of the prints within the museums in the UK and Ireland are on the Bloomsbury website.  Each print is on display in a free museum or in free areas of museums.  Only one print needs to be found to enter the contest, but participants are welcome to search for all twelve.

The overall winner of our Harry Potter Spotter competition will receive family tickets to the Warner Bros. Studio Tour London, a Jim Kay signed print of their choice and a copy of the Deluxe Illustrated Edition of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. Twelve additional prize winners will receive a Harry Potter tote bag, a Jim Kay signed print (of the print they spotted) and a copy of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone Illustrated Edition

To play, simply take a photograph of yourself in front of one of the prints on display in a museum.  (If you don’t want to be in the photo, you can just take a picture of the print.)  Share your photo on Twitter or Instagram, using #HarryPotterSpotter.  Images should be tagged to @KidsBloomsbury and the specific museum on Twitter, or @BloomsburyPublishing and the specific museum on Instagram.  Don’t forget to see more of the museum while you are there!

For a full slideshow of the artwork, participating museums, and clues, see here.

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15. What is Instagram?

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16. Urban vs. Suburban by Margot Justes

Still playing tourist in Alexandria, and I have not been consistent with my blogs-nothing new there-the history here is simply amazing, and there is much to see everywhere you turn, and as a result I have not focused on my writing. So many places rich in American history are close by and beckon a visit.

I’m a writer, I actually need to write...that being said, A Hotel in Venice has been released and I’m working on a sequel set in Barcelona.

I spent many years living in suburbia, raised two accomplished and successful daughters in the burbs. Fortunately it was a quiet life-a life with an excellent school district that benefitted my daughters, a life filled with dear friends, and many memories and strife-in other words-life. The hardest part was leaving lifelong friends, but we all make an effort to visit each other, and most assuredly we stay in touch.

When the decision came to move, I wanted something a little more mobile, certainly more urban. I love to walk and wanted to be able to do so. Driving for me was never a delight, and always a chore, one I dislike immensely.

Alexandria was perfect, it is at once urban and suburban. Filled with history, a quaint and charming old town packed with restaurants, boutiques, antique shops,  historical buildings and tourists. A gorgeous water front, with easy access to DC, just a hop on the Metro, and within 20 minutes  the National Gallery beckons. Did I mention, all the Smithsonian museums are free to the public.

A water taxi and 20 minutes later the giant Ferris wheel beckons at the National Harbor, MD.

The best part, most of the sites in Alexandria are within walking distance for me, that includes the Alexandria Harbor, that also boasts a converted torpedo factory that now houses 82 studios and artists, and 7 galleries, the studios/galleries are open to the public free of charge. It is heavenly.

I find the vitality of urban life, the sound of cars and sirens, the Metro going by, construction- all exhilarating and life affirming. There is soul pulsing in this city, it is a tourist town that generates excitement because of its history and many landmarks, it is a business center. It is home.

The National Science Foundation is building its headquarters here, along with NSF, new condos and apartment buildings are rising fast to accommodate the influx of new blood. An announcement from TSA indicated that they’re moving their corporate headquarters to our area in 2017...more urban reality.

I posted a few pictures from Alexandria for you to enjoy.

Margot  Justes
Blood Art
A Fire Within
A Hotel in Paris
A Hotel in Bath
A Hotel in Venice

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17. Getchyer NaNo On

It’s time to get your NaNoWriMo on. I know, I know, it’s still early and you’re busy with other projects. But it’s out there, lurking, and the best way to succeed is to hit the ground running come November one.

For the uninitiated, NaNoWriMo is the annual National Novel Writing Month in which you write a book, start to finish. You can sign up and report your daily totals and, if you reach 50,000 words by the end of the month, you win the right to print a certificate saying you won. For a few bucks, you can even buy the t-shirt that shows the world your writing prowess.

The format of the event is a great exercise for developing writers. The goal is to produce words, 1700 of them a day. I especially like booting that naggy internal editor guy out the door for the entirety of November. It is a freeing feeling to write, write, write without having to perfect every sentence and phrase. You just blast out a book in 30 days. There will be time later to clean up. Besides, it’s only the first draft. It’s you telling you the story. Who knows what crazy paths it’s going to take? NaNoWriMo is all about putting a rough book on paper, not about perfecting it.

I’ve participated in three of them and won last year for the first time. Naturally then, I’m an expert on NaNo. The key is planning. My failed attempts started with a story idea - more of a story beginning. Being a panster at the time, writing from the seat of my pants, I figured I’d work out the details as I went ahead. You know, minor things like plot, characterization, etc. -  they’ll come as the story develops. There’s nothing more frustrating than moving along smoothly only to ground to a halt two weeks into it.

Last year, I spent October debating whether to do it or not. I was in the middle of several projects and didn’t want to start something else. Plus I didn’t have a clue for a story. Finally, a week before November, I sat and kicked around some ideas and managed to come up with something which was surprisingly good. But it was more than just a concept. The secret to success was knowing how it ended. By looking all the way to the end, it’s easier to plan the story to that objective. With the end goal in mind, even a pantser could wear the NaNo shirt in December.

So, now’s the time. Decide if you can commit to a month-long writing marathon. If you can, re-visit some of those story ideas you’ve put on the back burner and figure out how it is going to turn out. Then, either plan if that’s your style, or be ready with the end goal in mind and on November 1st, kick some writing butt. 

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18. Lana's World. Let's Have A Parade!

Lana's World: Let's Have A Parade. Erica Silverman. Illustrated by Jess Golden. 2015. HMH. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: Pitter pitter pat, sang the rain. Mama was making pancakes. "Let's have a parade," said Lana. "It's raining," said Mama. Papa set the table. "Let's have a parade," said Lana. "We'll all get wet," said Papa. Jay poured syrup. So did Ray. "Let's have a parade," said Lana.

Premise/plot: Lana, the heroine, really, really wants to have a parade. Her family have excuses, admittedly good excuses, for not wanting to have a parade. When she can't get anyone to join her, she creates her own parade. In the house, of course. Will her family want to join in on the fun once they see how much fun she's having?!

My thoughts: I've read two books in this series so far, and I've enjoyed both of them very much. The books are quite similar to one another, both focus in on playing pretend, so if you love one, you may very well love both. I hope there are MORE books to come in this series!!! The other title I've read is Let's Go Fishing.

This book is a Level Two Green Light Reader published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. (Level 2 is reading with help.)

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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19. Do East and West Germans still speak a different language?

On 12 September 1990, about ten months after the Fall of the Berlin Wall, the foreign ministers of the German Democratic Republic (GDR) and the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG) met with their French, American, British, and Soviet counterparts in Moscow to sign the so-called Two-Plus-Four Treaty.

The post Do East and West Germans still speak a different language? appeared first on OUPblog.

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20. Crimson Cloak Publishing Author-Jane Finch

Today starts a series of interviews with fellow authors of Crimson Cloak Publishing. Hope you enjoy their interviews! First we meet Jane Finch.

1) Do you write books as a career, or are you currently still juggling your author time with a full or part time job?

After working for over thirty years and dreaming of the time I could retire and just write – I am now living the dream!

2) Have you always wanted to be an author, or did some time or event in your life set you on the path?

I’m not sure I always visualised it as being an author, but I have always needed to write. Even from a young age I would sit and write stories rather than go out to play with other kids my age. When I had my son I used to take him into the local forest to watch the squirrels. I would make up stories about what they were doing and then he asked me to write them down so he could read them and I decided to write my first book – which was about squirrels.

3) Do you always write in the same genre, or do you sometimes like a change of theme? If you haven’t already, is there another genre you would like to write?

I started out writing children’s books and then decided to try my hand at writing adult novels. I now have sixteen published books including crime thrillers, historical, children’s and a book of comical poems about chickens!

4) As a writer, what is the best thing that has happened to you, and what is that most exciting thing that could happen to you?

It has to be my first book, which was published by a traditional publisher back in 1998. The thrill of holding the book was incredible. It’s a children’s animal adventure and I’ve scripted it so the most exciting thing that could happen is that it would be made into an animated film.

 5) How do you view the promotion, book signings etc. Is it something you enjoy, or do you prefer the writing stage?

This is the hardest for me. I prefer to sit in a quiet room and just write and am not comfortable with self-promotion. I have done some radio promotion and I don’t mind writing some press releases when a new book comes out, but I struggle to put myself out there. I even cringe if I post my book on Facebook. I’m not an ideal candidate for a literary agent or a publisher who expects massive self-promotion.

6) Could you tell us something about your published books, and let us know what they are about and where they are available?

Well, as there are sixteen I don’t want to bore your readers with listing all of them, but they are all on my website http://www.finchlark.webs.com/ I teamed up with an illustrator and we produced a number of children’s picture books; then there are three crime thrillers one of which – The Black Widows – I am scripting. My most recent book is something I have always wanted to write – a Christmas special. Twelve Days to Save Christmas has a little bit of magic and a shape-shifting elf, a mean mayor, and lots of animals. It’s published through Crimson Cloak Publishing. All my books are on Amazon. Twelve Days to Save Christmas

Thank you, Jane. I had the pleasure of reading your Christmas book, and a lovely tale it is. What an accomplished writer you are! Wishing you continued success. Lynne North





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21. Kuddle Official - 2014

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22. Grant Applications are Open!

Are you a children’s librarian with great ideas, but a lack of resources?

Consider applying for an ALSC grant!  Applications are now open for the 2016 Maureen Hayes Author/Illustrator Award and the 2016 Baker & Taylor Summer Reading Grant.

The Maureen Hayes Award is designed to provide funding for a visit from an author/illustrator who will speak to children who have not had the opportunity to hear a nationally known author/illustrator.

The Baker & Taylor Summer Reading Grant is designed to encourage reading programs for children in public libraries, and to recognize ALSC members for outstanding program development.  Innovative proposals involving children with physical or mental disabilities are especially encouraged.

Applications for both grants are due by November 1, 2015.  Details and how to apply are found at http://www.ala.org/alsc/awardsgrants/profawards/hayesaward and http://www.ala.org/alsc/awardsgrants/profawards/bakertaylor.


Today’s guest post was written by Sondra Eklund, this year’s Grants Administration Committee Chair.

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

The post Grant Applications are Open! appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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23. Illustration Challenge #20

Draw something upside down. (I mean the image, not you. Could be you. Could do.) :) Want to share? Upload it to your website and link to it in my comments! (Make sure to say something about it so it doesn't get marked as spam!)

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24. The Importance of Getting Out

via Muddy Colors http://ift.tt/1NwON4W

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25. How to Outfox Your Friends When You Don’t Have a Clue + an interview with Jess Keating


by Jess Keating (Sourcebooks Jabberwocky, 2015)

Sometimes you meet people on the internet who are instantly your kind of people. And all of a sudden they aren’t a tiny square avatar, but a real friend who sends you ketchup chips from Canada and the best gifs to your email. They support you on this whirling road of publishing, and they make you laugh and laugh and laugh and laugh and you wish that Canada and California weren’t so far away.

Let me introduce you to my friend Jess Keating. She’s got great books and she’s a better friend, and I’m so happy to have her here today to celebrate her newest story in the My Life is a Zoo series, How to O

And also, it’s not just me. These guys liked her too . . .

“With her trademark kid-oriented wit and lighthearted touch, Keating leads readers through the daily emotional ups and downs of the typical just-turned-teenager who is trying to juggle hormones, parents, schoolwork, and, most importantly, her friends…A sweet reminder that being middle school girl is about far more than boys and makeup.” –Kirkus, starred review

So: here she is!

Hi Jess!

Hello, my dear Carter! Thank you for having me!

Can you give us some backstory on Ana? Is there any young-Jess-Keating wrapped up in her?

There is definitely a lot of young-me in Ana. I’ve always been an animal nut, and I was raised on Kratt’s Creatures, Crocodile Hunter, and Jane Goodall. Savvy readers might notice that Ana’s middle name is Jane—both she and her mother share this name to honor Dr. Goodall!

As a kid, it was my dream to live in a zoo, surrounded by strange animals. Obviously, my parents thought this would be rather hazardous, so instead they let me decorate my room to look like the rainforest. I even stuck plastic lizards and poison arrow frogs to my walls. Sometimes I even pretended I was David Attenborough, narrating my way through the day with a bad British accent.

Ana is also a giant nerd, who struggles with feeling like an outsider a lot. I think that’s something a lot of us share (particularly as teens and tweens), and I was no exception. It takes guts to share your passions, you know? I think Ana is also a very lucky kid, in that she’s surrounded by intelligent people who challenge her to pursue her dreams. We have that in common too.

Which do you most identify with: having untied shoelaces, missing a snorkel, or not having a clue?

Untied shoelaces!



What’s your ideal writing scenario? Snacks? Tunes?

Yes to snacks! I’m a big fan of popcorn and chocolate chips. Together or separately, really. My awesome agent Kathleen Rushall introduced me to Songza, which I’ve found to be perfect for playing background music while I write. I listen to mainly movie scores and video game soundtracks.

I like to move around a lot as I work, so I have a standing desk that’s really just a wooden crate that props up my laptop. That’s about it! Oh, and Post-It notes. Millions and millions of Post-It notes.

Which came first, these characters or their scenarios?

The characters came first, for sure. I think once you’ve got characters you know well, especially their flaws, it’s really a matter of plunking them down with some challenges and letting them find their way. I’ve always had such a clear picture of Ana, Daz, and Shep, so they seem to run the show. With each book, I have a general idea of a setting I’d like to explore, but I like to give them some freedom in getting there.

But sometimes writing can surprise you! Characters like Sugar and Bella were much quieter in my mind, and getting to know them better as the series continues has been extra fun.

What has been your most favorite scene to write and edit? Just don’t spoil us too much!

I love writing funny scenes, embarrassing scenes, and downright awful ‘fight’ scenes between friends. There’s just so much juicy emotion in these!

My favorite scene to write in OUTFOX revolves around Ana doing a Superman impression. I won’t spoil it, but it’s a scene I’ve wanted to write since the beginning of the series!

Describe Canada in one word.


What gif best describes your feelings for this book’s birthday week?

Ahh, you know how much I love gifs! I have so many feelings, I have to give you two! Publishing a book is a funny thing—it never stops being exciting. With every new book, I feel like Bilbo going on an adventure:

And this week especially, I’m so thankful and humbled that we get to continue Ana’s story in a third book. It takes so many people to get the story in your head on a shelf, and the readers who pick it up are really the reason we do this. So, I have a lot of love for everyone who works so hard to make these books, and those who have been with Ana from the start. Hence, hobbit hugs:

What’s coming next for you?

I like working on several projects at once, so I’ve got lots to keep me busy! My first nonfiction picture book is coming out in February, called PINK IS FOR BLOBFISH. It’s all about challenging the notion that “pink is for girls”, showcasing bizarre, dangerous, and unique pink animals. I’m tickled pink for this one! (Sorry.) This book is part of a new series called “The World of Weird Creatures”, so I’m also working on the next one! I can’t share the title yet, but I’ve definitely never seen anything like it before. Hee!

I’m also deliriously happy to report that we’ve just sold my first picture book biography! SHARK LADY is all about the life of Eugenie Clark, an incredible female scientist who studied—you guessed it—sharks. She is one of the coolest ladies I’ve ever come across, and I’m so excited to share her story!

Thanks again for having me!


The wonderful folks at Sourcebooks Jabberwocky are going to give away a complete set of Jess’s My Life is a Zoo series to a lucky reader! Head here to enter!

Good luck!


About the Author:

Jess Keating is a zoologist and the author of the critically acclaimed How to Outrun a Crocodile When Your Shoes Are Untied. Jess is also the author of the playful nonfiction picture book Pink is for Blobfish (Knopf Children’s, 2016). She lives in Ontario, Canada, where she loves writing books for adventurous and funny kids. Visit Jess at jesskeating.com.

You can also find her at these places:





(And you’ll be so glad you did.)


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