At mental_floss: 11 Classic Video Games You Can Play Online.
And my arch-nemesis, Atari's E.T: THE EXTRA-TERRESTRIAL.Add a Comment
At mental_floss: 11 Classic Video Games You Can Play Online.
And my arch-nemesis, Atari's E.T: THE EXTRA-TERRESTRIAL.Add a Comment
Have you been looking for a good children's Christmas book about the birth of Jesus? If so, I have a number of Children's Books About the Nativity to recommend. All but one are Christmas picture books. If you have others to recommend, let me know by clicking on "Comments" below and posting a message.
(Cover art courtesy of Eerdmans Books for Young Readers)Add a Comment
Look what I got in my inbox!
Mohamed from Egypt is learning 3d programs. He used my model sheet of Henry (from Henry and the Buccaneer Bunnies) to create this beautiful digital image. I love the textures of the different articles of clothing—the leather vest, the woolen shirt.
I have a holiday gift list up at Alaska Dispatch for the pilot or aircraft owner in your life. Lots of great ideas on this one - I've been collecting items for months to add to it.
I also have a new column up at Bookslut with some great adventure novels for teens (my 100th column!) and I have a feature on NF titles for kids/teens that are really off the beaten path (sea monsters! collective nouns! hovercrafts!)
That feature also includes the coolest pop-up I've seen in ages on national parks. It's STUNNING.
I have enjoyed my friend Kelly Fineman's downsizing posts for the past few months and because I know her, they've made me think a lot more about getting rid of stuff than the average episode of Clean House. Also, Kelly's level of stuff sounds pretty similar to my own so she's a lot easier for me to identify with.
The other night I was downstairs sorting out books for future columns when I started looking at my own bookshelves. I'm pretty picky about the books I keep and I really have remarkably few when you consider how many I could keep (an insane number, trust me). But I do have two overloaded shelves of books I have bought or have been given to me that I plan to read someday and just haven't gotten to. They are a mess and some of the books have been there for years. I finally decided it was time to let them go.
Kelly's been writing a lot about space and keeping things for emotional reasons and not sitting on things because it's too hard to deal with the trouble of getting rid of them and all of this and more made me pull all the books off the 2 shelves and ruthlessly (RUTHLESSLY) go through them. I think I have about a dozen left which I am now going to read over the next couple of months. I might very well love them all and keep them forever, or give them a shot and pass them along but either way - those shelves are never going to be such a mess again. (Donating all discards this week to local Friends of Library bookstore.)
Books should never become a burden, emotional or otherwise. If you are not going to read them then it's time to set them free, so someone else can give them a good home. I can't believe it took me so long to get this message into my head. Thanks, Kelly!Add a Comment
I realized, as I was looking around for Christmas stories to read this year, that when I think about Christmas stories I’m only thinking about one kind of Christmas story. For me to even read a Christmas story means it’s probably set in the modern day, or, you know, the time period in which it was written. And it’s got to be set in something resembling reality. Like, I’ve enjoyed stories about talking mice, for sure, but if your Christmas story consists of a talking mouse telling a story about how another talking mouse got killed by a cat as a direct result of not believing in Santa Claus, I’m hitting the back button. So it was fitting that I want directly from The Mouse and the Moonbeam to The Blossoming Rod, which is the most prosaic Christmas story I’ve ever read.
Joe Langshaw has his eye on a fishing rod. It’s ten dollars, and he never has that much extra cash lying around. Which is not to say that he’s poor — extra money, when he’s got it, mostly seems to go towards social obligations, like contributing to the school janitor’s Christmas turkey. Meanwhile, he worries that his son George is hiding his report cards, and he’s irritated that his kids — there are three — keep asking for monetary compensation for chores and stuff. Langshaw seems nice enough, but his fixation on this fishing rod and his resentment of anything that keeps him from it are hard to sympathize with.
Shortly before Christmas, someone unexpectedly pays a debt and Langshaw finds himself with a ten dollar bill in his pocket. He’s determined to buy the rod now, but then his daughter Mary loses a dollar that she’d saved and he has to make it up to her, and his wife receives an unexpected bill. Also George finally reveals his report card: he’s got perfect marks in deportment, and wants the five dollars his father promised if he could achieve that.
You can see where this is all going, of course: his family is saving up to buy him the fishing rod, and when they do, he likes it all the better for having been a gift from them. And then all of a sudden there’s a religious moral.
The Blossoming Rod is by Mary Stewart Cutting, author of one of my favorite chapters of The Whole Family. I don’t know that there are any obvious comparisons to be made, but I get the sense that she’s really good at scene-setting. Stuff she writes seems to be very firmly located, with lots of concrete detail. I need to read other stuff of hers in order to find out whether or not this is a broad generalization. Anyway, the details are the best thing about The Blossoming Rod — the solidly suburban setting, the janitor-and-report-card sketch of the school, the Christmas decorations that Langshaw chooses to buy at the store in town rather than the local one. I even kind of appreciated the whole intense fixation on the fishing rod thing, in the details if not in the fact of it.
This isn’t a favorite Christmas story, by any means, but it’s the kind of Christmas story I like, for sure, and honestly, I’ll take irritated suburban parents over mauve mice any day.
From the Des Moines Register:
Clive [Iowa] is merging its parks and recreation and library operations into a single department called leisure services.
The decision to merge the departments coincides with the retirement of library director Vicki Hibbert in January and the pending retirement next month of Kelly Canfield, the city’s first and only parks and recreation director. Canfield was hired in 1984.
The position does not require exhaustive knowledge or experience in library and parks and recreation activities, although Seaman possesses plenty in the realm of recreation, city staff said.
Am I being a HUGE fuddy-duddy, or does that sound like a TERRIBLE idea? I mean, the idea that a library is purely for leisure makes me cringe, and then the idea of the head honcho not being required to, you know, have library experience... it just seems like a disaster waiting to happen. But we'll see, I guess.
And then, from The Atlantic (via Chrissy):
The National Library of Norway is planning to digitize all the books by the mid 2020s.
Yes. All. The. Books. In Norwegian, at least. Hundreds of thousands of them. Every book in the library's holdings.
By law, "all published content, in all media, [must] be deposited with the National Library of Norway," so when the library is finished scanning, the entire record of a people's language and literature will be machine-readable and sitting in whatever we call the cloud in 15 years.
Just... WOW.Add a Comment
Lately, I've seen more and more authors opting to go hybrid. They are both self publishing and publishing traditionally. Honestly, I think this is smart. Not all books are suited for traditional publishing. Some do better off as self-published titles. Other books need the traditional structure and the power of a marketing team and budget behind them.
As of November 20, 2012 (that is, Midnight Eastern Time tonight) I am closed to queries. I will reopen to queries January 7, 2013.
If I already have your work, you should hear from me by January 7. (That's the point of taking the break, I have to catch up!)
First drafts usually contain the words anybody can write. Revision is the key to crafting writing that sounds just like you.Add a Comment
The story of the oldest known wild bird in the world. At 62+, she hatched a new chick in February, 2013. Read her remarkable story. A biography in text and art.
If you can’t see this video, click here.Add a Comment
So, since I'm in a Moira Young-Rebel Heart groove, I checked Fanfiction.net to see if there was any related fanfic.
There's Saba/DeMalo, which is to be expected. And a bizarre happier ending for Rebel Heart which is also to be expected, but which also brings Gracie-the-two-sentence-dead-child back to life, which was a bit surprising.
But then there's also one that's Saba/Lugh and Saba/Emmi.
The Winchester Boys would not approve:
Add a Comment
SO excited to announce my adult sci-fi short story DUST, just published in Plasma Frequency Magazine! It was by far one of my favorites to write, and I’m so glad it found a home with Plasma Frequency.
Interestingly, I wrote the story while I was getting used to a new migraine medicine. One of the side-effects of the medicine was vibrating gold spots behind my eyelids whenever I closed my eyes. This side-effect, among others, became the inspiration for some of the side-effects of DUST. Luckily, I’m no longer taking that med, so the pharmaceutical-induced hallucinations and periodic brain fog are long gone.
I did get a nice story out of the experience. You just never know what’s going to get that imagination stirring.Add a Comment
Today I will be sending out the new issue of the Growing Bookworms email newsletter. (If you would like to subscribe, you can find a sign-up form here.) The Growing Bookworms newsletter contains content from my blog focused on children's and young adult books and raising readers. There are 1769 subscribers. I send out the newsletter once every two weeks.
Newsletter Update: In this issue I have four book reviews, ranging from picture book through young adult. I also have one post with a literacy milestone from my daughter, and another sharing our latest literacy-themed game. I have two posts with links that I shared on Twitter recently.
Reading Update: In the last two weeks I read one early reader, one young adult title, and two adult mysteries. I read:
I'm currently listening to Minding Frankie by Maeve Binchy and have just started my annual holiday season re-read of Let It Snow by John Green, Maureen Johnson, and Lauren Myracle. The first story, by Maureen Johnson, is my favorite of the three, so I may or may not actually read the entire book.
Baby Bookworm has been continuing to enjoy the Madeline books by Ludwig Bemelmans. We're also reading Christmas books, like The Christmas Quiet Book by Deborah Underwood and Renata Liwska and The Berenstain Bears Old-Fashioned Christmas by Jan and Mike Berenstain. We're also enjoying A Very Fuddles Christmas by Frans Vischer (my review of the first Fuddles book).
Wishing you all a wonderful holiday season. I'll be back after Christmas with the next newsletter. Thanks for reading, and for growing bookworms. Enjoy your holiday!
I will, on occasion, get ideas for posts on this blog from friends and internet companions. Some of these ideas are good. Some of these ideas are unfortunate. And today’s idea? Top-notch fabulousness. It’s actually probably best suited for children’s librarians but the rest of you can stick around if you want. It is, after all, the brainchild of the daughter of a Newbery winner and her Newbery winning buddy. I kid you not.
For lo, little children, there is a fabulous school in Baltimore called The Park School. And at that school you will find what can only be described as the cream of the children’s librarian crop. This is because The Park School is serviced not only by Twig George, author and daughter of Jean Craighead George, but also by Laura Amy Schlitz, Newbery Award and Honor winner for Good Masters! Sweet Ladies! and Splendors and Glooms respectively. And they aren’t merely good writers. They’re honest-to-god GREAT librarians to boot. Laura recently sent me the following idea that Twig concocted and it’s so cool that I begged her to allow me to post the information here. As you’ll see, this is a program that would be easy to conduct in your school library or public library (or children’s bookclub for that matter) simultaneously benefiting both kids and great books in your collection that simply don’t get enough circ. But I’ll allow Laura to describe it herself:
“I wanted to tell you, as a fellow librarian, about a little program we’re doing at Park. It’s called the BROWSE-O-RAMA. It began as the brainchild of Twig George. Both of us (Twig does K-2 and I do 3_5) have noticed that children don’t BROWSE enough; they read series, or they ask for their parents or librarians to hand them books, and while the former is harmless enough, and the latter has it’s charm (why shouldn’t they get some personal attention from the librarian, for crying out loud?) we were worried, because BROWSING is an essential skill. You need to be able to go into a bookstore or a library and open books and read pages and scruff through and come out with the right book. (The Browse-O-Rama motto is ‘Sink your claws into the best book you’ve never read!’ (The song goes to the tune of Oklahoma)).
So we decided to have a month-long Browsing Festival. Because I was doodling cats when we discussed it, Twig suggested that the cat could be the Browse-O-Rama mascot, because the cat is stealthy and curious, persistent and fastidious, good at sniffing and pouncing and curling up and purring. So we ordered cat tattoos, and made a big scroll called the Browse-O-Rama Wall of Fame, where distinguished browsers can sign their names and stamp the scroll with a paw print stamp. We started by having kids read wordless books (to sharpen observation skills and to slow them down) and then we searched the library for good covers and bad covers, for older books (because nobody ever looks inside our older books) for first sentences, alluring inside flaps…well, you can get the general idea. We plan to award particularly good browsers by painting their eyebrows with face paint, so that when they go home their parents will say, ‘What’s that gunk on your face?’ allowing the child the opportunity to say, ‘I BROWSE!’ Get it?
I tried one experimental class where the children leaped from cushion to cushion to Beethoven’s Fifth (Scherzo movement) and when the music stopped, they were to sit down on the nearest cushion and browse through the books on the nearest shelf. I have to tell you, this didn’t work too well. The energy that you use to leap from cushion to cushion is quite different from the energy you use to browse through books and I ought to have considered this. The children who got into pouncing were reluctant to browse, when the time came, and the children who became engrossed in browsing were disconcerted when the music started up and they were supposed to resume pouncing in time to the music. It wasn’t what you’d call a watertight assignment. However, nobody was hurt, and I greatly enjoyed watching them leap from cushion to cushion. It’s good to have a little chaos in the library from time to time.
Anyway, the thing that’s been surprising to Twig and me is, they are BUYING this. Two children told me they had dreams about the Browse-O-Rama! They are foaming at the mouth to have the cat tattoos (awarded to those students who could find the best and worse covers) or to sign the Wall Of Fame. And actually, they are browsing. They are taking out older books. They are finding stuff that they’ve never looked at before.
Our real aim was not to circulate older materials (though we’re for this, believe me) but to develop browsers–and I do think the children are more willing to take books off the shelf, really look at them, and consider something new and unfamiliar. We weren’t at all sure this was going to work, but I think it’s working, honest to Pete, it is.”
Betsy here again. What a great idea. As I may have mentioned before, in the public librarian sphere you could either do a whole program around this, or you could get your already existing groups to partake. For example, I used to run a children’s bookgroup for 9-12 year olds. It was a lot fun but I found that there were certain weeks where the kids would happily discuss the books for half an hour, leaving another 30 minutes for me to kill. My own solution had been to grab an array of new and old children’s books and to put them into brown paper envelopes. Then I’d tell the kids the titles and plots and make them guess if it was an old book or a new book. A lot of the time they’d want to check out the strange older titles, which made the entire exercise a kind of game in booktalking. Now imagine if I’d been able to do the Browse-O-Rama with them! I could have honed their browsing skills and given them some information they could carry with them through life.
Many thanks to Laura for the pictures. The one at the bottom here features Twig showing two different jackets of My Side of the Mountain (with the Wall of Fame in the background) and at the beginning of this post was the Browse-O-Rama sign. As Laura said of it, “I like it that the sign is tethered by a cast iron cauldron on one side (the cauldron is full of poems photocopied on brightly colored card stock) and a whale vertebra on the other.” The bookmarks seen here were designed by a 13 year old Park Student.
Thanks to Twig and Laura for the great idea. Now let’s turn those kiddos into some serious browsers!!Display Comments Add a Comment
First things first: this cover art does Rebel Heart such a disservice. So much so, in fact, that despite my EPIC LOVE for Blood Red Road, I put off reading this, the sequel, for what, over a year?
I understand that the publisher wants, naturally, to bring in more readers. And I understand that Beefcake sells. BELIEVE ME, I DO. But this cover is selling a somewhat generic contemporary sexy Western.
And Rebel Heart is not that. I'd put it in the Western family, yes. And there are sexytimes, yes. But although Saba's love for Jack is the driving force behind many of the decisions she makes in the book, the sexytimes themselves are few and far between, and are certainly not at the forefront. And a contemporary, this is not: those new, off-the-rack clothes Mr. Model there is wearing? No. The people in this world are lucky if their clothes come fourth-hand, and oftentimes, they are pulled off of dead bodies. And finally, Jack—assuming that's supposed to represent Jack—is hardly in the book at all, as the majority of the story is about Saba trying to find him.
I understand that generic sells—otherwise it wouldn't become generic, right?—but I find it sad that this series, which is SO special and such a standout in terms of voice and character and world and action and romance and plotting, didn't get treated as such by its own publisher.
WOW. I... my feelings about the cover were a tad more passionate than I realized. I apologize for the rant, I just... UGH.
ANYWAY, THE BOOK. It works as a sequel—it begins shortly after Blood Red Road ended, with Jack headed to the Lost Cause to give Molly the bad news about Ike, while Saba, Lugh, Emmi, and Tommo head out across the Waste towards Big Water, which is (they hope) safe as well as being a land of plenty—but Young gives enough backstory that new readers will catch up quickly.
Everything that I loved about Blood Red Road is here, and then some:
Um, so yeah. I guess you could say that I liked it?
Book source: Bought.Add a Comment
Sony Pictures Classics announced Austenland DVD and Blu-Ray release in the USA on February 11, 2014. I know many of you are disappointed and were hoping it would come out in time for Christmas. But hey, pre-orders make great presents too! (sort of? Not quite as cool as a DVD in hand but almost?) The good news why it isn't coming out earlier is because it's still in some theaters. Thank you for coming out to see our flick.
You can pre-order the video now and plan on the best Valentine's Day ever. I know I will.
In the meantime, those of you who have seen it, would you mind giving a one sentence blurb of what you thought about it in the comments? I'll use some of your blurbs in a post about the DVD release in February.
Tallyho!Add a Comment
Add a Comment
I’m finishing up season three of “The Walking Dead.”
I admit, I wasn’t sure if I could stomach this series. A gal I work with first told me about the series and I thought, “sure, I’ll watch the pilot and go from there.”
I watched the pilot and just sat in stunned silence. I turned the TV off and just stared at a black screen.
What the HELL did I just watch? It was bloody and super gory and what was I doing wasting my time on something so … dark and disturbing?
I had no intention of watching any more episodes. It was just too much, it disturbed me and though it didn’t exactly give me nightmares, I confess, it took me a while to fall asleep that night.
I went back to work the next day and looked at the girl who advised me to watch it with new eyes. Had I misjudged her? Because honestly, what sort of person LIKES that sort of thing?? But I kept my mouth shut; I like to think I give people the benefit of the doubt. I made a deal with myself – I’d watch one more episode, see if it was any less gory, and see how I felt after that.
I became … curious. I can’t say I liked it any better and after almost three seasons, I still can’t say I like it any better, but it intrigued me. The whole premise intrigues me. Because the story is about so much more than a world that is suddenly overrun with flesh-eating zombies, it’s about human behavior and the extent people will go to in order to survive. When people are faced with life and death situations, the survival instinct takes over and people evolve (or devolve??) into a completely different personality. They turn into people they would normally associate with cold-blooded killers – but if it meant closing the door on personal morals in order to protect those I loved, I’m not sure I wouldn’t start toting a gun and routinely shooting zombies in the head, either.
I’ve always been fascinated by that story line – not about a world overrun with zombies, but a world where people have to make really hard and uncomfortable choices. How far would you go in order to survive? I’d like to think I would end up being a bad ass – someone who thinks quick on her feet and was a valuable member of my little society, but I don’t know – maybe not. Maybe I would end up being one of the whiny, sniffling cry babies that I get so impatient with on the show.
I confess, I don’t dig this sort of show, and after a while, you sort of become desensitized to the blood and gore and pay more attention to the characters’ struggles. Many fight their inner demons and make surprising choices – some characters completely lose their minds.
But who wouldn’t in a world full of zombies?
I’m hoping that season four is more about what exactly happened to the world. How did the virus, or zombie sickness get started? Is there a cure? Is there any way to stop the process and how many “humans” are actually left? Though the story has been really interesting so far, and has thrown quite a few plot twists in there, so many, in fact, that I’m actually surprised and compelled to keep watching to see what main character dies next, it’s almost becoming boring – it’s the same thing episode after episode – conflict, they kill lots of zombies, we watch zombies snack on other humans, tears are shed, more killing, decisions are agonized over, more zombie fights/killings … *yawn*
I’m almost relieved the season is over. Because I’m ready to move on to something a lot less dark and a lot more “human.”
So, in my last post I showed you some food from our trip to Oaxaca, and here I wanted to show you a little of the town and surroundings. Excuse me if I’m a little picture happy. It was hard to choose.
Above is a street in Oaxaca, to give you an idea of the town. This street happens to be a pedestrian only zone, though I guess bench-sitters get a pass, too. Hey, if I could sit on a comfy pink bench on this street right now, I would.
Below is the Santo Domingo church. Georgeous. Love the landscaping out front, too.
And I’ve fallen hard for the church’s stone walls. The subtle color variations (and size variations, which you can see less well) are making me so, so happy. I think I’m going to have to use that colorway and grid pattern somewhere.
Up next, a convent-turned-hotel. The walls are literally three feet thick. It’s a total dream. I have a thing for thick walls and courtyard gardens.
Here and there, on the former convent walls, you’ll see little bits of painting:
And lastly, just outside Oaxaca are the pyramids of Monte Alban. From the top, the view of the area is breathtaking.
I’d love to show you some of the handicrafts Oaxaca is famous for, but I think I’ll have to show you after Christmas, since several that I bought are gifts for others.
Up next, hopefully I’ll have time to post a few Christmas-themed items. I’ve been trying to be really nose-to-the-grindstone on my writing projects. Back to work for me! Be well.
Okay, so I found this Disney Babies series.
It's mostly comprised of titles like this:
Colors, ABCs, 123s, etc., etc.
You get the idea, right?
SUCH A STRANGE CHOICE, TITLE-WISE.
For a split-second, I thought that a library school had teamed up with Disney to create some sort of massively nerdy pamphlet. But, no. It's just a four-page book about putting things in order. For babies. CALLED SEQUENCING & CLASSIFYING.
If the other books had had adult-ish titles, I probably wouldn't have even noticed.Add a Comment
Working with tweens can be fun and also frustrating. My branch will have a large after school crowd of tweens but they’re not at the library to attend a program or hang out. Instead they are at the library to meet with a tutor, work on homework, or grab a book quickly before they rush off to their extracurricular activities. No matter how much we advertise programs to this age group, our attendance can sometimes be low. Or at least it feels low when we’ve put a lot of effort into planning a program that we hope will be a big success.
It’s hard to get caught up in numbers and statistics when it comes to programming. It’s also hard not to compare programs with each other. Sometimes I think about how we can get a group of 30 or more toddlers for storytime but I’m lucky if I can get a few tweens for a program.
But I can’t get caught up in measuring program success by numbers. Instead I focus on the stories. Like the middle schooler who came to every single Hunger Games program we provided last year, won the movie tickets in the giveaway, and came to the library this year and said “thank you so much for having those programs about The Hunger Games! They were my favorite and I met my best friend-and we’re still friends today and we met at the library.”
Or the tween who attended a recent program and was excited to win a set of books she hadn’t read yet.
Or the tween who gets excited to meet someone else who shares their interests when they thought they were the only one who liked Doctor Who, or Origami Yoda, or Cupcake Club.
When I feel down about tween programs and wonder what we could do better to reach this age group, I remind myself of all that we have provided for tweens and that we are successful. We are providing a place for tweens to come, meet other tweens, and participate in a program just for them-and that’s a success.Add a Comment
From the New Yorker:
Earlier this year, a New York Times Magazine profile of the showrunner Shonda Rhimes (“Scandal,” “Grey’s Anatomy”) included a line that made me think she was even more than the talented and savvy TV writer she’s already shown herself to be: “Rhimes observes that people, even the ones who like ‘Scandal,’ describe it as ‘ridiculous,’ which she can live with, or a ‘guilty pleasure,’ which she ardently despises.” I despise it, too. If there’s a contemporary idiom that puzzles and irritates me in equal measure, “guilty pleasure” is it. I object to neither the pleasure, nor the guilt; it’s the modifying of one by the other that works my nerves, the awkward attempt to elevate as well as denigrate the object to which the phrase is typically assigned.
LIKE WHAT YOU LIKE, MAKE NO EXCUSES.
OWN YOUR JOY.Add a Comment
Despite the fact that libraries are easily available to most, there are large numbers of Americans who say they are not sure about all the services libraries offer. Echoing the findings of our 2012 survey, 23% of those who have ever used a public library said they feel like they know all or most of the service and programs their library offers, while a plurality (47%) said that they know some of what it offers. About one in five (20%) say they don’t know very much about what is offered, and 10% say they know “nothing at all.”
I haven't read the whole thing yet, but wanted to pass along the link anyway!Add a Comment
It snowed another four plus inches last night – we broke a record.
The kids were out of school again today – they’ve already used up three out of six snow days this year.
But then again, why do I care? Our kids are no longer in school …
The comments people leave whenever weather like this hits and they have to make the decision on “weather” (pun intended) or not to call off school, or keep school open, on Facebook is a never ending string of entertainment for me.
The school system can’t win for losing.
Bottom line: If you don’t feel like your kid will be safe going to school in bad weather, then keep ‘em home.
Be a parent. Make the call. Don’t apologize about whatever you decide.
Then shut up about it.
Hello Glen! It's been awhile since I have written in for a question, though I have participated in the comments section of several questions answeredAdd a Comment