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1. Interesting blog posts about writing – w/e August 22nd, 2014



Here’s my selection of interesting (and sometimes amusing) posts about writing from the last week:

Who Can Effectively Challenge Amazon in the Book Business? (Jane Friedman)
http://janefriedman.com/2014/08/21/challenge-amazon/

The Perfect Title (Mary Keeley)
www.booksandsuch.com/blog/perfect-title/

Narrowing the Gap (Terry Odell)
http://bloodredpencil.blogspot.com/2014/08/narrowing-gap.html

In obscurity, butterflies (Jennifer R. Hubbard aka writerjenn)
http://writerjenn.livejournal.com/393462.html

How Technology Affects the Way We Write (Dean Fetzer)
http://litreactor.com/columns/how-technology-affects-the-way-we-write

Dealing with Reader Expectations (Stina Lindenblatt)
http://querytracker.blogspot.com/2014/08/dealing-with-reader-expectations.html

You’ve Got the Power (Rachelle Gardner)
www.booksandsuch.com/blog/you-got-the-power/

Finding Your Voice (Clare Langley-Hawthorne)
http://killzoneauthors.blogspot.com/2014/08/finding-your-voice.html

Kill Your Darlings? (Elle Carter Neal)
http://bloodredpencil.blogspot.com/2014/08/kill-your-darlings.html

The Six Archetypes Every Novel Needs (Bill Ferris)
http://writerunboxed.com/2014/08/16/the-six-archetypes-every-novel-needs/

Back It Up (Joe Hartlaub)
http://killzoneauthors.blogspot.com/2014/08/back-it-up.html



If you found these useful, you may also like my personal selection of the most interesting blog posts from 2013, and last week’s list.

If you have a particular favorite among these, please let the author know (and me too, if you have time).  Also, if you've a link to a great post that isn't here, feel free to share.

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2. My tweets

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3. Poetry Friday: An American Girl by Brander Matthews

She does not care for meditation;
Within her bonnet are no bees;
She has a gentle animation,
She joins in singing simple glees.

- from the poem An American Girl by Brander Matthews

Read the poem in its entirety.

View all posts tagged as Poetry Friday at Bildungsroman.

View the roundup schedule at A Year of Reading.

Learn more about Poetry Friday.

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4. New! Friday Black and White "KING BRONTY" Raptor's Claw Story line Continues!

Happy Friday!  More from the "Raptor's Claw" story line!  I hope you enjoy it!- JRY

"The Raptor's Claw, Continued Again!"







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5. Flowering Fan

2014-08-22

A flowering vine is always an fun subject. I think about balance and rhythm in constructing the drawing. I started with a random line on the page and just let the drawing happen.

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6. HFVBT Presents Donna McDine's Powder Monkey Blog Tour, August 25-September 19 - Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours

Powder Monkey

HFVBT Presents Donna McDine's Powder Monkey Blog Tour, August 25-September 19 - Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours

Amy Bruno of HFVBT has coordinated a fabulous virtual book tour of Powder Monkey. Hope you can join me or share on social media throughout the tour. I am looking forward to engaging with the hosts and visitors. Thank you! 

Monday, August 25
Wednesday, August 27
Interview & Giveaway at Let Them Read Books
Monday, September 1
Tuesday, September 2
Review at Book Nerd
Thursday, September 4
Monday, September 8
Review at Bookish
Wednesday, September 10
Thursday, September 11
Friday, September 12 Review at Just One More Chapter
Friday, September 19
<!--[if gte mso 9]> Normal 0 false false false EN-US JA X-NONE <![endif]-->

Review and Giveaway at Peeking Between the Pages

Thank you for your time and interest! 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Best wishes,

Donna M. McDine
Multi Award-winning Children's Author

Connect with

A Sandy Grave ~ January 2014 ~ Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc. ~ 2014 Purple Dragonfly 1st Place Picture Books 6+, Story Monster Approved, Beach Book Festival Honorable Mention 2014, Reader's Favorite Five Star Review

Powder Monkey ~ May 2013 ~ Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc. ~ Reader's Favorite Five Star Review

Hockey Agony ~ January 2013 ~ Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc. ~ Reader's Farvorite Five Star Review

The Golden Pathway ~ August 2010 ~ Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc.
~ Literary Classics Silver Award and Seal of Approval, Readers Favorite 2012 International Book Awards Honorable Mention and Dan Poynter's Global e-Book Awards Finalist

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7. Why you should savor the journey and enjoy every success along the way, no matter how small

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8. David Gregory is Working on a Book

Journalist David Gregory may be out at Meet the Press, but he’s not out of work. According to reports, he is working on a book. Unlike many journalist memoirs, the book will not focus on Gregory’s career. Instead it will focus on his religious life.

TV Newser has more: “Gregory and publisher Simon & Schuster have reportedly been working on the book since 2011 that will focus on his ‘personal faith and the spiritual journey people take in their lives.’”

The book is slated for release in 2015.

New Career Opportunities Daily: The best jobs in media.

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9. Friday Linky List - August 22, 2014

At Bookpage.com: 10 Children's Book Illustrators to Watch

From David Lubar: Educators -- From the Ventura County Reading Assoc. Hosted an author visit at your school? Please fill out the survey http://tinyurl.com/kzjnutv

At From the Mixed-Up Files: Finding it difficult to focus? Join the club - great solutions for unplugging to write - funny!

At The Week (via PW): What the 'death of the library' means for the future of books

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10. Dori Weintraub Named VP of Publicity at St. Martin’s Press

Dori Weintraub has been named vice president of publicity at St. Martin’s Press at Macmillan, Inc. She will oversee campaigns for both fiction and nonfiction titles.

Weintraub has devoted fourteen years of her career to this imprint. Prior to this appointment, she served as the vice president of marketing, communications, and audience development.

New Career Opportunities Daily: The best jobs in media.

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11. Follow Friday four Fill-In Fun - 8/22/14

Feeling Beachie
Love this meme....I hope you can join in the fun.

Each week, Feeling Beachie lists four statements with a blank for you to fill in on your own blogs. 

**There is a giveaway for WE ARE NOT OURSELVES here until August 28.**

The statements:

  1. ___ is my least ____
  2. When I was ___ I thought _____
  3. My worst subject in high school was ___
  4. I write best ____.
My Answers:

1.  Dusting is my least favorite cleaning procedure.

2.  When I was twenty-one, I thought everyone was friendly.

3.  My worst subject in high school was math.

4.  I write best when everything is quiet.
 









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12. Nora

 Look who's turned up.

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13. Spicing Up Your Prose Part 1 of 6

Variety is the spice of life and these rhetorical devices sound like exotic spices. We know how they taste but have forgotten the names.


These spices should be sprinkled in carefully. They enrich a sentence or paragraph when you want a little punch. You shouldn't overwhelm the reader with them and should be mindful of clichés. You earn a gold star for using them effectively. You earn two gold stars if you remember their names.

Abstraction advances a proposition from generic to specific.



Jane opened the book1, a thick tome2, a collection of poetry3.


Alliteration repeats initial consonants in consecutive or grammatically corresponding words.


Jane opened the diary, the wild, wishful, window to its owner's soul.

Amplification repeats a word or phrase, adding more detail to emphasize a point.



Jane wanted to deny the truth, the truth about the diary1, the truth about the ghost2, the truth about herself3.

Anadiplosis repeats a word that ends a phrase, clause, or sentence at the start of the next.



Jane opened a book. The book was a collection of poetry, poetry that made her blush.

Analogy compares two things that are alike and is more clinical than a simile. It can use: also, and so on, and the like, as if, and like.



Jane was drawn to Dick1 like a humming bird to nectar2.

Anaphora repeats the same word or words at the beginning of each successive clause or sentence. There are at least three or four beats. You can separate the beats with other sentences but they should be in the same paragraph. The last beat should be in the last sentence of the paragraph.

She should have ignored the diary. The truth was too horrible to acknowledge. She should have burned it. She should have escaped while she still had the chance.

Antithesis connects two contrasting propositions, usually in parallel clauses or sentences.



Jane knew he loved her and she knew he hated her.

Assonance repeats similar vowel sounds in successive clauses or sentences.


The rain on the plain drove Jane completely insane.

Next week, we will continue to add spices to your prose shelf.

For the complete list of spices and other revision layers, pick up a copy of: 

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14. Back to School: Challenging the Freedom to Teach and Learn about Labor

What if the collection in your library was circumscribed by your state legislature? This spring, the Michigan state legislature introduced a bill specifically designed to penalize instruction surrounding an important but politically disfavored topic, that of labor organization.

The legislation reads:

Prohibited Instruction Activity. The Senate added new language stating that it is the intent of the Legislature that a public university that receives funds under section 236 shall not participate in any instructional activity that encourages or discourages union organizing of employees including, but not limited to participating with any business or union, or group of businesses or unions, in hosting, sponsoring, administering, or in any way facilitating an academy, seminar, class, course, conference, or program that provides instruction, in whole or in part, in techniques for encouraging or discouraging employees in regard to union organizing. The appropriation in section 236 for any university that participates in an activity described in this section shall be reduced by $500,000 for each occurrence. (Sec. 271A)

Specifically, the bill challenges Michigan State University’s incorporation of a Building Trade Academy as part of their existing School of Human Resources and Labor Relations. The issue seems to have come to a head surrounding coursework that has been described as promoting labor organization.

Promoting labor relations – that seems like a broad umbrella. There is real potential for this movement to stifle any academic debate related to labor history and workers’ rights.

http://www.loc.gov/pictures/resource/fsa.8b04027/

http://www.loc.gov/pictures/resource/fsa.8b04027/

If you’re not working in higher education, or not in Michigan, or not at Michigan State University, the reduction in funding of one academic program might not seem like a serious issue. But the “chilling” effect of prohibitions linked to funding have real consequences.

If Holocaust studies could be considered taboo under Tuscon’s ethnic studies prohibition, it is not difficult to imagine a campus climate where faculty avoid introducing the Triangle Shirtwaist Disaster, John L. Lewis, or the groundbreaking photography of Lewis Hine.

The challenge to labor in the curriculum should be taken as seriously as when another state legislature withheld state funding from the two colleges for choosing books that address LGBT topics for school-wide reads.

As of March, MSU’s 2014-15 funding appropriation had been decreased by $500,000 because of this “Prohibited Instructional Activity.” And the fact that this limitation comes from Michigan, home to Henry Ford’s particular brand of “welfare capitalism,” offers a teachable moment for classrooms concerned with academic freedom.

What can you do to raise awareness about this threat? I am working on pulling together some titles on labor history for an epic Labor Day display for my library…sometimes it feels like raising awareness is all you can do in solidarity.

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15. Back to School Special - Why Lunch Ladies Are Heroes!


Children’s book author Jarrett Krosoczka shares the origins of the Lunch Lady graphic novel series, in which undercover school heroes serve lunch…and justice! His new project, School Lunch Hero Day, reveals how cafeteria lunch staff provide more than food, and illustrates how powerful a thank you can be.



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16. Sometimes a Massive Breakdown Can be a Good Thing by Kate Brian


Kate Brian is the author of many YA novels, under this name as well as Kieran Scott. The second book in Kieran's True Love trilogy, COMPLETE NOTHING is hitting store at the end of September. The third and final book in Kate Brian's Shadowlands trilogy, ENDLESS, came out in July!

Sometimes a Massive Breakdown Can be a Good Thing by Kate Brian

For the longest time, I have been on a crazy writing schedule. The Private series was published twice a year, and once it spawned the spin-off Privilege, I was publishing three or four times a year. And yes, I was writing all the books myself (with plotting assistance from my editors). At the same time, I was developing other projects and working on some non-fiction, basically doing everything I could to keep my brain fresh and keep paying the bills. Occasionally someone would ask me, “How do you do it?” (My answer? “I don’t know. I just do.”) Or, the less kind, “When do you think you’re going to hit the wall?” In other words, when do you think you’re going to lose your mind and end up blubbering in the corner, unable to remember the names of your children, let alone the names of the hundreds of characters you’ve created over the years? My answer was always, (insert self-deprecating chuckle) “I suppose it’ll have to happen eventually.” But in the back of my mind, I couldn’t really imagine it. I’d always thrived on being busy, loved rising to the occasion, couldn’t wrap my brain around stopping.

Then, my mom died. My mom, who was basically my best friend, my greatest confidant, and the first person I called whenever anything monumentally good or soul-crushingly bad happened. The couple of months leading up to her death and the year afterward were the worst times of my life, and they just happened to coincide with the writing of the Shadowlands trilogy. If you haven’t read the books, I’m not giving too much away by telling you that the protagonist, Rory Miller, lost her mother to cancer four years prior to the beginning of the trilogy. In fact, her parting with her mother—at her house, in her bedroom, slow and agonizing—were not unlike my parting with my mother. It was all imagined up before it happened in real life, but I was writing and revising these scenes, working with this character who was defined by this tragedy, in the midst of dealing with it all myself. It was scarily parallel, and let’s just say, it was not good for my psyche.

And so, it finally happened. Somewhere around the fourth revision of Hereafter, the second book in the Shadowlands series, I finally hit my wall. I was pouring all the emotional aftermath of my mom’s death into that book, and thinking that if anything good was going to come out of my mom dying it would be that Rory would be realistic. My editors disagreed. Therefore, the four revisions. Of course, I took offense at their notes to soften Rory, to make her less angry, that she was unlikable the way she was, because hey—I was going through this and she was basically me. How dare they tell me what I was going through? That I was too angry? That I was unlikable? So there were many tense conversations with my editor and with my agent, followed by one, massive, breakdown when I couldn’t get my point across, when I couldn’t make them understand. I remember a lot of screaming and crying and snot and tears. I remember screaming at my agent on the phone to do something. I also remember my agent being extraordinarily patient with me, calming me down, and then going about making everything better. (Sidebar: If you’re looking for an agent, find someone who is human and kind. It comes in handy.)

There was a moment, actually, there were weeks, in which I really thought I was never going to write another word. I thought I’d lost the elusive “it” that gave me my voice, that made me me. I seriously considered becoming a realtor or a baker. I had to just step away for a while.

Unfortunately, I was also on deadline, so I couldn’t step away for too long. It turned out, however, when I sat down to work again, it was easier to look at the manuscript and see the problems my editors saw. I realized I wasn’t writing a book about my experience, I was writing a book about Rory’s experience. And while, yes, she still missed her mother, she was four years further into living with it than I was. She had adjusted, to whatever degree one can adjust to such a loss, while I most certainly hadn’t. Once I’d gotten all my emotions out, and screamed and cried and vented, I was able to approach things with a clear head. I revised the book, and it was finally put to bed.

Luckily, the final book in the series was much easier to write. It started in a dark place, but ended up in a lighter one. Just knowing that I was working toward a happy ending made the work so much easier.

But my breakdown didn’t just get me through the rest of the trilogy. It made me realize a few things about myself and the person and the writer I wanted to be going forward. I realized I didn’t need to kill myself writing four things at the same time. I realized I didn’t want to work on anything too dark—at least not for a while. And I realized that, while the actual business of sitting down and writing is a solitary pursuit, having a solid support team is so very important. Being honest and realistic with my editors and my agent about their expectations and my abilities has gotten me a long way in this career, and won me a few champions along the way. They rallied around me during the toughest moment in my personal and professional life, and for that I’m eternally grateful.

About The Author

Kieran is from Montvale, New Jersey and was raised in Bergen County.[1] She enjoyed cheerleading, singing, and acting when she was growing up.

She graduated from Pascack Hills High School[2] and attended college at Rutgers University with a double major in English and Journalism. She worked as an editor for four years before becoming a writer.[3]

She resides in New Jersey with her husband and sons.

Website | Twitter | Goodreads







About The Book

True’s matchmaking skills are the stuff of legend! The second novel in Kieran Scott’s delightful teen romance series that TeenVogue.com called “the next Twilight.”

True is not exactly loving New Jersey. Banished from Mount Olympus and tasked with helping couples find love without using her powers, the goddess-formerly-known-as-Cupid is having a tough time. Especially now that True’s immortal love, Orion, has also appeared at her New Jersey high school—but with no memory of their relationship.

To distract herself from seeing Orion flirt with another girl, True focuses her efforts on making a match: Peter and Claudia. Peter is the star quarterback and the most popular guy in school. But he’s insecure about his future, so he preemptively dumps Claudia, his girlfriend. (If she won’t want to be with him later, why stay together now?) Claudia doesn’t take the breakup too well, and she’s ready to show the quarterback of their rival school just how ready she is to get over it.

But True sees something in these two seniors. She believes they should be together—but can she help them find their way back to each other (and get herself closer to home)? Or have things already spun too far out of control?

Amazon | IndieBound | Goodreads

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17. Comments

Here’s my comment on comments –
Acknowledgement’s nice.
Support with a shout-out
Will more than suffice.

I don’t want corrections,
Though typos are fine.
The words with my moniker
Need to be mine.

A comment on content
Of course is okay,
As long as no nastiness
Comes into play.

In short, with a comment
I know someone’s reading.
As long as I’m posting,
That’s knowledge I’m needing.

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18.


Hello Friends, Hope that you all are doing well. Summer is just about over, but I hope you all had fun. I would love to know what you did over the summer? I have been working all summer long. Work is a good thing. I'm not complaining. Here is a new character that I am working on. I don't know who she is or what her name is. Maybe you could tell me? Anyway, thank so much everyone for your kind comments Sending you ALL hugs!

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19. Anna Shinoda: ‘Time away from a manuscript always gives me a better perspective for editing.’

Anna Shinoda devoted several years to her debut young adult novel, Learning Not to Drown. The story was influenced by Shinoda’s personal experiences with having an incarcerated sibling. We spoke with Shinoda to learn her thoughts on research, crafting realistic characters, and more. Here are the highlights…

Q: How did you land your book deal?
A: During SCBWI’s annual summer conference, I had manuscripts nominated for their Sue Alexander Most Promising New Work Award in both 2004 and 2006. While those nominations did not directly get me a book deal, they did lead to a connection with Jennie Dunham of Dunham Literary, who became my agent in 2006. In late 2008, after several rejections, Jennie called with the news that Caitlyn Dlouhy at Atheneum was interested. I signed the contract and somewhere between my agent’s office and Caitlyn’s office, the contract got lost. Fortunately, when the mistake was caught a few months later, Caitlyn was still very much wanting to acquire the book.

(more…)

New Career Opportunities Daily: The best jobs in media.

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20. Why We Read

DSC_0611

Books are the plane, the train, and the road. They are the destination and the journey.
-  Anna Quindlen

The post Why We Read appeared first on Caroline Starr Rose.

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21. Marvel’s ‘AVENGERS: S.T.A.T.I.O.N.’ Exhibit Opens in New York City

Marvel’s AVENGERS: S.T.A.T.I.O.N. has opened in New York City. Comic book fans will be able to enjoy this interactive exhibition at Discovery Times Square until January 05, 2015.

Visitors go through an “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” recruitment simulation; this allows them access to information files about the superheros that makes up The Avengers. Some of the items on display include Captain America’s Birth Pod, the Tesseract Portal Device, Loki’s Scepter, and a hermetically sealed Chitauri.

Here’s more from the press release: “NASA, the Science & Entertainment Exchange (a program of the National Academy of Sciences), Neuroverse, and Thwacke are all collaborating on the Marvel’s AVENGERS S.T.A.T.I.O.N. Exhibition visitors will get the chance to map out the stars to find Asgard, learn to operate Iron Man’s suit, witness the neurological effects of Bruce Banner’s transformation into the Hulk, and physically test themselves against Captain America.”

New Career Opportunities Daily: The best jobs in media.

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22. New words, new dialogues

In August 2014, OxfordDictionaries.com added numerous new words and definitions to their database, and we invited a few experts to comment on the new entries. Below, Janet Gilsdorf, President-elect of Pediatric Infectious Diseases Society, discusses anti-vax and anti-vaxxer. The views expressed do not necessarily reflect the opinions or positions of Oxford Dictionaries or Oxford University Press.

It’s beautiful, our English language — fluid and expressive, colorful and lively. And it’s changeable. New words appear all the time. Consider “selfie” (a noun), “problematical” (an adjective), and “Google” (a noun that turned into verbs.) Now we have two more: “anti-vax” and “anti-vaxxer.” (Typical of our flexible vernacular, “anti-vaxxer” is sometimes spelled with just one “x.”) I guess inventing these words was inevitable; a specific, snappy short-cut was needed when speaking about something as powerful and almost cult-like as the anti-vaccine movement and its disciples.

When we string our words together, either new ones or the old reliables, we find avenues for telling others of our joys and disappointments, our loves and hates, our passions and indifferences, our trusts and distrusts, and our fears. The words we choose are windows into our minds. Searching for the best terms to use helps us refine our thinking, decide what, exactly, we are contemplating, and what we intend to say.

Embedded in the force of the new words “anti-vax” and “anti-vaxxer” are many of the tales we like to tell: our joy in our children, our disappointment with the world; our love of independence and autonomy, our hate of things that hurt us or those important to us; our passion for coming together in groups, our indifference to the worries of strangers; our trust, fueled by hope rather than evidence, in whatever nutty things may sooth our anxieties, our distrust in our sometimes hard-to-understand scientific, medical, and public health systems; and, of course, our fears.

Fear is usually a one-sided view. It is blinding, so that in the heat of the moment we aren’t distracted by nonsense (the muddy foot prints on the floor, the lawn that needs mowing) and can focus on the crisis at hand. Unfortunately, fear may also prevent us from seeing useful things just beyond the most immediate (the helping hands that may look like claws, the alternatives that, in the end, are better).

Image credit: Vaccination. © Sage78 via iStockphoto. - See more at: http://blog.oup.com/2014/04/vaccines-world-immunization-week/#sthash.9VlGEhJM.dpuf
Image credit: Vaccination. © Sage78 via iStockphoto.

For the anti-vax group, fear is the gripping terror that awful things will happen from a jab (aka shot, stick, poke). Of course, it isn’t the jab that’s the problem. Needles through the skin, after all, deliver medicines to cure all manner of illnesses. For anti-vaxxers, the fear is about the immunization materials delivered by the jab. They dread the vaccine antigens, the molecules (i.e. pieces of microbes-made-safe) that cause our bodies to think we have encountered a bad germ so we will mount a strong immune response designed to neutralize that bad germ. What happens after a person receives a vaccine is, in effect, identical to what happens after we recover from a cold or the flu — or anthrax, smallpox, or possibly ebola (if they don’t kill us first). Our blood is subsequently armed with protective immune cells and antibodies so we don’t get infected with that specific virus or bacterium again. Same for measles, polio, or chicken-pox. If we either get those diseases (which can be bad) or the vaccines to prevent them (which is good), our immune system can effectively combat these viruses in future encounters and prevent infections.

So what should we do with our new words? We can use them to express our thoughts about people who haven’t yet seen the value of vaccines. Hopefully, these new words will lead to constructive dialogues rather than attacks. Besides being incredibly valuable, words are among the most vicious weapons we have and we must find ways to use them responsibly.

The post New words, new dialogues appeared first on OUPblog.

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23. A Peek into Thailand {Guest Post from Stephanie Kammeraad of Mama-Lady Books}

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My Discover Your World Summer Reading Extravaganza is winding down, but I continue to be amazed at the high-quality and in-depth book reviews my guest posters have come forth with. This week is no exception either as the always-creative Stephanie from Mama-Lady Book shares an amazing book pick with JIAB readers. Enjoy!

2

A Peek into Thailand
By Stephanie Kammeraad of Mama-Lady Books

I love sharing stories from around the world with my children and students.  I educate our two children at home, and I love that I can incorporate great books that are both mirrors and windows* for them throughout our days.  I also coordinate and teach at a heritage camp each summer, which is a week-long day camp for children adopted internationally to learn more about their birth country and the birth countries of others.  I’ve had children in my classes over the years who were adopted from China, South Korea, Thailand, Ethiopia, St. Vincent & the Grenadines, Kazakhstan, Russia, Mexico, Peru, Guatemala (where our son was born), and Colombia (where our daughter was born.)  It has been such a delight to discover and share stories and activities with them about these countries!
One of our favorite book discoveries has been The Umbrella Queen by Shirin Yim Bridges, illustrated by Taeeun Yoo.

Discover Your World Summer Reading Extravaganza

This heartwarming story is about a little girl named Noot who has shown that she is now skilled enough to paint her own umbrellas, just as her mother does.  The story is set in a tiny village in northern Thailand, where villagers have been making and painting paper umbrellas for hundreds of years.  Noot’s mother shows her how to paint flowers and butterflies on the umbrellas, and although Noot copies her mother’s work beautifully, when she is finally given five umbrellas of her own to paint, Noot paints the elephants that dance into her mind.  All afternoon she sits and joyfully paints elephants on her umbrellas, until her mother notices and sternly reprimands her for deviating from what has always been and must continue to be painted.  Disappointed, Noot concedes, knowing that “Painting umbrellas wasn’t just for fun.  It was work to help feed the family.”

Every day after that Noot dutifully paints her umbrellas with flowers and butterflies, but in the evenings she takes the scraps of bamboo from her father and the mulberry paper from her grandmother to make doll-sized umbrellas just for her, on which she paints the elephants that bring her delight.

The tradition in her village is that every New Year’s Day, the woman who has painted the most beautiful umbrella is chosen as the Umbrella Queen and leads the villagers in a big umbrella parade.  This year, the villagers decide to invite the King to come to choose the Umbrella Queen, as he has decided to spend the winter in his nearby winter palace.  Two weeks before New Year’s Day, the King accepts their invitation!

When the day finally arrives, the villagers set out their most beautiful umbrellas along both sides of the road for the King to inspect as he comes through.  He stops in front of Noot’s house, gives a compliment to her mother for the beauty of her umbrellas, but then notices some tiny umbrellas in the window sill behind her.  Upon questioning, Noot admits to painting them.  When asked why, and what is wrong with painting flowers and butterflies, Noot respectively responds with, “I like elephants.”

The smiling King then takes her hand and pronounces Noot as this year’s Umbrella Queen “because she paints from her heart.”

Shirin Yim Bridges has written this delightful story that I’ve witnessed being enjoyed as a read-aloud by children between the ages of five and ten.  Shirin grew up in a Chinese-speaking family in California, but has traveled the world and lived in many countries.  She is an author of numerous picture books as well as an award-winning publisher of Goosebottom Books, an independent publishing company that has published three different successful non-fiction and historical fiction series: The Thinking Girl’s Treasury of Glorious Goddesses, The Thinking Girl’s Treasury of Dastardly Dames, and The Thinking Girl’s Treasury of Real Princesses.

Although Noot is not a “real” princess or queen, I believe her story is just as important to read, to remind ourselves and our children to be proud of who we are, to be true to ourselves, and to share our talents with those around us.  This reminds me of the famous words of author Marianne Williamson in her book, Return to Love: “We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world…We are all meant to shine, as children do…And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. “ Yes?  Then let’s go!

Let your children’s creativity shine as they paint from their heart!  Here are two activities that you can do as a follow up to reading The Umbrella Queen.

1. Paint nylon umbrellas with fabric markers or acrylic or tempera paint. (I used washable tempera paint with my students.) Just make sure that you lay down a covering for your workspace (newspaper, a plastic tablecloth, etc.) I provided large stencils for the kids to use for those who were interested, but most just painted “free style!” To purchase nylon umbrellas, check out: http://www.orientaltrading.com/diy-white-umbrellas-a2-56_9027.fltr?Ntt=umbrella.

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Make and decorate paper umbrellas of various sizes.  Simply cut out a circle (free-hand or by tracing something round), and then make a single cut from anywhere on the outside edge into the center of the circle.

Grab hold of the circle on either side of the slit you just made and place one side over the other, creating a cone.  Glue the cone into place, trim off any edge that you might need to trim off, and you have the umbrella canopy!  Now is the time to decorate it Make and decorate paper umbrellas of various sizes.  Simply cut out a circle (free-hand or by tracing something round), and then make a single cut from anywhere on the outside edge into the center of the circle.

Grab hold of the circle on either side of the slit you just made and place one side over the other, creating a cone.  Glue the cone into place, trim off any edge that you might need to trim off, and you have the umbrella canopy!  Now is the time to decorate it using markers, paint, crayons, gluing sequins on, etc.  Once dry, it’s time to attach the pole, which can be a plastic drinking straw, a tooth pick, or a bamboo skewer (most authentic) depending upon the size of your umbrella’s canopy.  Place glue (white or hot) on the top of the “pole” and glue into place.  Voila!  A paper umbrella!

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For a further peek into Thailand, my list of recommended picture books set in Thailand can be found here: http://www.mama-lady-books.com/thailand.html.

* “Mirrors, Windows, and Sliding Glass Doors” by Rudine Sims Bishop: http://www.rif.org/us/literacy-resources/multicultural/mirrors-windows-and-sliding-glass-doors.htm

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Stephanie Kammeraad is a writer, book-lover, and home educating mama of two.  She is also a passionate multicultural children’s book advocate which you can see on her blog Parenting and Teaching Multiculturally (http://www.mama-lady-books.com/parenting–teaching-multiculturally), on her website Mama-Lady Books (http://www.mama-lady-books.com/), and on her Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/Mama.Lady.Books).  As a former Special Education teacher, Stephanie now facilitates multicultural story times, school book fairs, and presents professional development sessions for early and elementary educators.  Her husband and children live in Grand Rapids, MI but you can often find them traveling throughout their home state, across the country, and beyond!

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The post A Peek into Thailand {Guest Post from Stephanie Kammeraad of Mama-Lady Books} appeared first on Jump Into A Book.

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25. How to Tell Toledo from the Night Sky/Lydia Netzer: Chicago Tribune Review

I want to love every book I read. I crack the spine eager with hope. I struggled, unfortunately, with Lydia Netzer's new novel, a book that has elsewhere earned raves as well as raised eyebrows.

My review of the book is now live in Printers Row Journal. It begins like this, below, and can be read in its entirety here.
If you are a reader intoxicated by the strange, a reader for whom conceits matter more than characters and song, then Lydia Netzer's "How to Tell Toledo From the Night Sky" is the sort of book that may well live up to its billing as a funny valentine. If, on the other hand, you read in search of stories that ultimately transcend ideas, then this second novel by the best-selling author of "Shine Shine Shine" may furrow your brow.

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