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1. 11 Books for When You Are 11

Recommend me!11 Books for When You Are 11

Being eleven isn’t easy, but you’re in luck: we’ve got a great list of eleven classic books that every eleven-year-old should read. They’ll help you through the trickier moments, give you something to laugh about, and take you on some pretty wild adventures!

The City of Ember
Humankind has survived the end of the world in the city of Ember, protected by a dome overhead and surrounded by darkness. For 241 years, humans have lived in this city lit by lamps. There used to be instructions to get out, but they have been long lost . . . or have they? With blackouts happening more often and storerooms getting dangerously empty, it’s up to friends Doon and Lina to find a way to save humanity.

Poor Stanley Yelnats has been wrongfully convicted of a crime he did not commit and is sent to Camp Green Lake, a juvenile disciplinary facility in the middle of the desert. This is no surprise to Stanley, who comes from a family seemingly cursed with really, really bad luck–but he’s not ready for the mystery that is Camp Green Lake. Each day, the boys at Camp Green Lake have to dig a hole that is 5 feet deep by 5 feet wide. It’s supposed to help them to “build character” . . . or is it? What are they REALLY digging for, and why?

Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief
After an extra-freaky incident (involving an algebra teacher turning into a man-eating monster during a school field trip), dyslexic Percy Jackson suspects that not everything in his life is as it seems . . . and he’s right. It is soon revealed that his father is the Greek god Poseidon, and Percy  flees to Camp Half-Blood and train with other demigods (half-god, half-humans) to prevent an all-out war from erupting between the gods!

Raina just wants to be a normal sixth-grader, but when she damages her front teeth during an accident, the next few years are anything but normal! Raina has to deal with painful headgear, braces, retainers, and surgeries on top of the regular drama of crushes, physical changes, and family problems. It seems like Raina can’t catch a break, but the valuable lessons she learns along the way just might make everything worth it.

The Watsons Go to Birmingham, 1963
When Kenny’s older brother Byron–who is always getting into trouble–takes his shenanigans too far, the whole Watson family of Flint, Michigan, heads south so that Grandma can teach him a thing or two. But as the Watsons fall into one hilarious misadventure after another, a very dark moment in American history suddenly strikes–one that will change not only the Watson family, but the entire nation.

Out of My Mind
Eleven-year-old Melody, who has cerebral palsy, can’t walk or talk. But on the inside, she’s a genius with a photographic memory and brilliant mind. When her family gets her a computer, she’s able to “speak” for the first time. But being able to share her mind with the outside world can be heartbreaking, and it’s going to take a lot of inner strength for Melody to finally find her voice.

Roy is used to being the new kid at school, but this time around at Trace Middle School, things are going a little differently. Roy’s accidentally become arch enemies with the school bully, and he’s befriended misfits, Beatrice and Mullet Fingers. And then there’s the baby burrowing owls . . . and the pancake house that’s threatening to force them out of their habitat. Roy and his new friends are on a mission to save the owls, but when it’s their word against the grown-ups, they’re going to have to fight with everything they’ve got.

When Stargirl first arrives at Mica High, she is so strange that no one knows what to make of her. Her schoolmates fall in love with her quirky ways and happy attitude at first, but her popularity is short-lived, and it’s not long before she becomes the butt of every joke . . . for the same things that made her so lovable to begin with. Leo, who admires Stargirl still, wants to help her to fit in again. But will making Stargirl “normal” fix her problems?

Esperanza Rising
Esperanza leads a lovely life in Mexico, where she is treated like a princess and surrounded by love and kindness. But when tragedy strikes, Esperanza and her mother are forced to flee to the United States. Life in the U.S. is very difficult, as they have to take jobs as migrant workers. But in spite of the grueling work and poor living conditions, Esperanza begins to realize that happiness may, in fact, come from within . . .

A Series of Unfortunate Events: The Bad Beginning
For the Baudelaire children, Violet, Klaus, and Sunny, things keep going from bad to worse. After they are orphaned in a fire, the three siblings are sent to live with the sinister, greedy Count Olaf. Olaf is after their inheritance money, but the Baudelaire kids have a trick or two up their sleeves–and they are determined to foil his plans!

The Mysterious Benedict Society
Eleven-year-old orphan Reynie Muldoon, after answering an unusual ad in the paper and completing a series of competitive tasks, has been selected to join a secret society with three other gifted children. What he doesn’t anticipate is that he’ll be trained by a criminal mastermind to help him take over the world–not exactly what he signed up for!

Which books from this list have you read? Which books do you think every eleven-year-old should read? Share your thoughts in the Comments below!

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2. Writer Wednesday: Summer Reading/Writing

My daughter starts summer break today, so we're selecting books to read together in our own little book club. I love reading with her (we take turns reading aloud to each other) because she has such great insights. It also means I get to read some good middle grade books.

In addition to reading this summer, I need to get my Ashelyn Drake contemporary romance, After Loving You, ready for its September release. This story is very special to me because I'm a firm believer that you don't ever stop loving someone, but you can change the way you love them. If you're not sure what I mean, you'll have to read the book in September to find out. ;)

So my summer will consist of lots of reading and writing, because they go hand in hand. Learning from great authors is my favorite form of research, not to mention the most enjoyable way to improve your craft.

Have you selected your summer reads? Feel free to share them in the comments.

*If you have a question you'd like me to answer from the other side of the editor's desk, feel free to leave it in the comments and I'll schedule it for a future post.

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3. FX picks up LEGION for early 2017

Legion Dan StevensLegion, the Noah Hawley (Fargo) developed X-Men spin-off for the FX network has just been picked up for an eight episode order in early 2017. Per a press release from Marvel, here’s how the new series is described: “Legion” introduces the story of David Haller: Since he was a teenager, David has struggled with mental […]

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4. Come meet Deedy (that's Dorothea Jensen to you)!

On Sunday, June 12, she will be signing copies of A Buss from Lafayette at the Barnes & Noble store in Nashua, NH, from 3-5 p.m as part of the Teen Book Festival. It is located at 235 Daniel Webster Hwy Nashua, NH 03060 .  Here is the store’s website: Nashua Barnes & Noble. 

Come join the fun! (We'd go if we could, but New Hampshire is QUITE a long way from the North Pole!


The Izzy Elves

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5. Are you heading to ALA’s Annual Conference?

AC16_General_0#alaac16 is less than a month away!

The ALSC Blog is looking for people interested in live blogging during the upcoming Annual Conference in Orlando, Florida.

Have you looked at the ALSC daily schedule?  SO MANY opportunities to share information with those #leftbehind.

If you are interested in lending your thoughts to this blog about what you are experiencing & learning, contact ALSC Blog manager, Mary Voors, at alscblog@gmail.com. We’d love to have your contributions! (And your pieces can be very concise… like this post!)

The post Are you heading to ALA’s Annual Conference? appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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6. Level Up Your Setting By Thinking Outside The Box

With the Urban and Rural Setting Thesaurus books releasing in just two weeks (June 13th), pretty much all I can think about is the setting, ergo today’s topic. You guys have no idea how much Becca and I are loving all the tweets, emails, comments and posts from all of you about these upcoming books–thanks so much for your enthusiasm and support! 

Okay, moving on… :)

With writers, there seems to be two camps: those who love writing setting description, and those…who…don’t. There isn’t always a lot of middle ground.

Becca is definitely in the former group. She’s freakishly good at world building. Each setting she writes feels like a living, breathing place, yet distilled to have clarity and purpose, so only the most important bits are shown without disrupting the pace or action.

For many, when it comes to describing the setting, the words don’t immediately flow. Some of us (cough-me-cough) tend to write on the leaner side of things, especially early on, and it is only in later drafts we put more “meat” on the setting “bone.”

Here’s the good news: regardless of whether you embrace setting description or not, one way to level up your writing is to think hard about each location you choose. The “where” of each scene is an important factor, and worth the extra time to plan. Here’s two big reasons why:

It Achieves Story and Character Depth

The right setting can greatly enhance our story, providing tests and challenges for our hero to overcome (the Black Gate in The Lord Of The Rings, or the Cornucopia in The Hunger Games), fortify the character, reminding them of their greatest assets (Hermione and the Hogwarts library come to mind) or allow the ghosts of the past to resurface and shape a character’s vulnerability (the sewers in Stephen King’s It.)

lonely1The location can even reinforce a character’s deepest longing (the Notre Dame stadium in Rudy), and act as a tangible reminder of a missing Human Need (The Incredibles’ Bob Parr, an unfulfilled insurance claims adjustor in his cramped office, who needs to be something more, something greater.)

Takeaway tip: When choosing a setting for the scene’s events, look at what is going to happen, and make a list of setting choices that can reveal something deeper about the characters involved. The setting should act as a symbol for one or more of the elements above, bringing forth deeper meaning and making characters and their desires matter more to readers.

It Offers Readers a New Experience

imaginationOne of the big promises we make to readers is that we will take them on a journey that is somehow new and fresh. One way to achieve this is through setting choice. After all, do we really want to show them the same location they’ve read about a million times before? And while genre might influence the range of settings that one might expect to see, this shouldn’t hold a writer’s creativity hostage.

Take the typical party scene, a common sight in many contemporary Young Adult novels. This event doesn’t always have to be at the beach or in someone’s house while the parents are away. Why not have your teenagers sneak into a shutdown construction site or an empty warehouse that’s up for sale, instead? Add some beer, a few spray cans, and the unexpected appearance of a security guard with a stun gun, and you’ve got a unique setting primed for a storm of conflict, plus you’re offering readers something new to experience.

Takeaway Tip: If you start with the scene’s action, make a list of all the obvious places this exchange or event could take place. Then, branch out, thinking about locations that logically fit with your characters’ general location, but offer fresher setting options.

The Setting Thesaurus DuoMake Something Familiar New

Now if you do find yourself using a familiar setting out of necessity, don’t worry. Just strive to make it unique through different factors. The time of day or night, the quality of light, the season, the weather, and the POV character’s emotional filter will all help you transform the location into something tailor made.

Plus, you can turn your setting into an obstacle course to differentiate it further, because setting is also a vehicle for conflict.

one-stop-for-writers-badge-xsmallBonus Tip!

Not only do our two new Setting Thesaurus books have the sights, smells, tastes, sounds and textures of 225 locations to kick-start your imagination, you can find a list of both volumes’ settings at One Stop For Writers to mine for ideas, even if you are not a subscriber of the site.

Simply register (always free) and click on The Setting Thesaurus in the menu. If you are a subscriber, you can access all the entries in full, as the setting thesaurus books have already been uploaded to the One Stop site.

Do you think “outside the box” when it comes to setting? What are some of the more unusual locations you’ve chosen?

Image 1: Antranias@ Pixabay
Image 2: Unsplash @ Pixabay

The post Level Up Your Setting By Thinking Outside The Box appeared first on WRITERS HELPING WRITERS™.

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7. Good News Day Tuesday: Pictures from Last Week's Launch

Last week's launch party for WHERE DO STEAM TRAINS SLEEP AT NIGHT? was so very, very fun! Thanks so very much to Mockingbird Books for hosting this wonderful event! And thank you so very much to who attended and to all who sent their virtual good wishes!

Here are a few fun pics from the party:

And we had a green screen at the party! So everyone got to take their picture with their favorite train:

And I had the wonderful privilege of being interviewed by the Little Engineer from the amazing Play Trains website. (If you have little ones who like trains, you should definitely check this website out. It is sooooo cool!) And I am so looking forward to hearing my interview when it is all ready! Here is a picture of me being interviewed by the amazing Little Engineer (who asked me 6 great questions!):

Thanks so much for letting me toot my own good news! Do you have good news to share? Please toot-toot it with a comment below! :) 

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8. Gary Oldman in “The Space Between Us”

Come August 19th, we will be able to see our beloved Sirius Black, a.k.a Gary Oldman, on the big screen once again. Gary will be playing Nathaniel Shepherd, a NASA scientist in charge of sending astronauts to live on Mars.

With Gary Oldman alongside Asa Butterfield and Britt Robertson, The Space Between Us is about a boy who was born on Mars and raised by scientists. Gardner Elliot (Asa Butterfield) returns to Earth to find his father, only to find that his body can’t quite function properly on Earth. The trailer for the film can be seen below:

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9. An Oral History of ILM’s ‘Dragonheart’ On Its 20th Anniversary

"Dragonheart," released twenty years ago this week, was a live-action film that had one of the first digital characters you could believe in. We talk to the ILM artists who created it.

The post An Oral History of ILM’s ‘Dragonheart’ On Its 20th Anniversary appeared first on Cartoon Brew.

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10. The Wolf Wilder by Katherine Rundell. Sydney: Bloomsbury, 2015

The place: Russia, deep in the forest. The time: deep winter, a few years before the Russian Revolution would change the country forever. We're not given a precise date, only that it happened about a hundred years ago, and hints given in the novel suggest the Tsar is Nicholas II, who had a sick son, and that it's after 1905. 

Twelve year old Feodora, known as Feo, lives in the forest with her mother, returning to the wild wolves which have been abandoned by the aristocrats who had kept them as pets and become bored with them. When an insane General destroys their home and arrests her mother, dragging her off to St Petersburg, Feo follows with her much-loved pack of wolves, a newborn wolf pup and a new friend, Ilya, who has been forced to become a soldier(he's under age)when he would much rather be a dancer. 

Along the route to save Feo's mother, they make friends among the peasants who are starting to become restless; the General has been oppressing them too, and he represents the Tsar, after all. While the coming Revolution is never mentioned, anyone who is familiar with it will recognise the signs. And yet, the ending is almost fairy tale... I can't tell you any more lest I spoil it.

The author doesn't hesitate to do dreadful things to her characters, but it was a dreadful time, after all, and motivation is needed for the decisions made on Feo's quest. 

The language is beautiful and the flavour purest folk tale; I could almost hear a balalaika playing in some scenes, such as when a group of peasants celebrate the arrival of Feo and Ilya. In fact, I could almost imagine Baba Yaga flying through the trees in her mortar and pestle or arriving in her house on chicken legs! It is that kind of vision of Russia. 

If I have a nitpick, it was how quickly the villain recovers from having his eye poked out! I just can't imagine it.

Still, it's a great adventure with wolves, which I'm sorry I took so long to get around to reading, and I would recommend it for children from late primary school to early secondary.

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11. The Safest Lie

Reviewing too many Holocaust books has brought on "Holocaust fatigue" for me, so I don't cover them very often on The Book of Life. However, The Safest Lie intrigued me with its back story of author Angela Cerrito's meeting with Irena Sendler. Angela lives in Germany, but I Skyped with her while she was visiting the United States. The Safest Lie was named a 2016 Notable Book by the Association of Jewish Libraries' Sydney Taylor Book Award committee.


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12. Alaa al-Aswany Q & A

       At Deutsche Welle Sabine Peschel has a Q & A with The Yacoubian Building-author Alaa al-Aswany.

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13. Pottecast Episode #257: Cursed Child Party at GeekyCon!

We know you have all been waiting with anticipation for the return of your favorite podcasters…and it’s time! There is a new Pottercast available on iTunes. Episode #257 talks about the upcoming fan convention unlike any other–GeekyCon.

Pottercast and Leaky will take part in hosting GeekyCon and its Harry Potter events, including the Cursed Child midnight release party!

Also wondering why PotterCast disappears for long periods of time? Have no fear, the Potter podcasters talk about their plans to get Pottercast back on track again!

Thanks to our amazing listeners for sticking with us!

(If the newest Podcast isn’t showing up in the Feed, refresh your iTunes several times. Go to “My Podcasts,” “Pottercast,” “Feed,” and refresh. For those of you who haven’t subscribed to PotterCast it may take a couple of days for the newest episode to appear on the iTunes page. Sorry for any inconvenience.)



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14. Farewell my Friend review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Rabindranath Tagore's 1929 novel, Farewell my Friend.
       The 1913 Nobel laureate is best known as a poet, but he also wrote quite a bit of fiction, including several novels -- not all of which, amazingly, have been translated int English yet (though this one has, repeatedly). Most of the fiction is also damned hard to find in English -- disappointing, because it really is quite good.

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15. Presidential Polar Bear Post Card Project No. 161 - 5.30.16

For Memorial Day 2016.

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16. Review: Melissa Mendes’ ‘Lou’ charts family dynamics in a charming, honest way

Massachusetts cartoonist Melissa Mendes has a knack for comics that not only center on kids, but present the world from their points of view with an unromantic honesty. Her first major work, the Freddy Stories collection, and her most recent project, the serialized webcomic The Weight both show off her prowess, and Lou, a collection […]

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17. ‘Simpleton Jack’ by Sasha Chernogorov

A short film based on the English fairytale "Lazy Jack."

The post ‘Simpleton Jack’ by Sasha Chernogorov appeared first on Cartoon Brew.

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18. We Need Diverse eBooks Too, Y’know


Here is what in truth is just a query masquerading as a legitimate blog post.  I am never above misusing my power when I’m curious.  And while I’m sure somebody somewhere has brought this up, I certainly can’t recall it being as big a topic as it could be.

The other day I was talking with some folks about ebooks and the state of electronic publishing for kids today.  Now as you may or may not know, most library systems don’t have a lot of choices when it comes to purchasing e-materials.  At New York Public Library we were a large system so we could afford to buy ebooks from Overdrive, 3M, as well as stuff like Freegal.  Here at Evanston Public Library we just have Overdrive and Hoopla.

Now the thing about ebooks is that only a small selection of print materials come out in ebook form in any given season.  A colleague of mine recently decided that it would be a good idea to buy a bunch of diverse ebooks for their collection, so they tried to find as many as they could that were available for purchase.  The problem?  For as few diverse children’s books as we see each and every year, we see even fewer diverse ebooks.

So I put it to you: Is this a problem that is already being discussed and addressed, or is this something we should make a concerted effort to rectify?  Have studies been done on this already and I’m just late to the party?  I honestly don’t know so I put it to you.  If you have some knowledge to drop on me, drop it.


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19. Review: Air by Ryan Gattis

Title: Air
Author:  Ryan Gattis 
Publisher:Adaptive BooksPublication date: June 7, 2016

Stars: 3.5

Summary: After 17-year-old Grey witnesses the tragic death of his mother in Colorado, he is shipped off to live with his aunt in inner-city Baltimore, where he struggles to fit in to a new school and community. His new friend Akil introduces him to the enigmatic Kurtis, the leader of a group that uses high-octane sports as a form of social activism. By challenging the police with death-defying stunts and posting videos of them online, Kurtis, Grey, and their group become unlikely heroes in the fight against the prejudice that surrounds them.
As Kurtis takes Grey under his wing, they create a group name, an insignia, and a cause attracting more and more followers as they post videos of their extreme acts. The lines between social activism and criminal behavior blur and their escalating stunts become a rallying point for the underprivileged and disenfranchised around the country, spreading like wildfire across the Internet. How far will Grey and Kurtis go to push their message, and can their friendship withstand their growing notoriety?
Review:Taking a look inside the mind of a 17 year old, Grey, and his friend as they endure a series of questionable events. After many changes in Grey’s life, he finds himself in situations encouraging his controversial behavior via the internet.

As a book intended to entertain, the sequences of action and thrill of the ride as Grey continued to push his own boundaries will keep you hooked. People can connect with a lot of the feelings portrayed by Grey when life hits it’s hard times. Life lessons in this novel being portrayed through the eyes of a young man brings personal nostalgia from a period in time most everyone can recognize as how we learn who we are and where our places in life might be. Bringing in many elements of today’s world, it is easy to remain connected to characters realistic and probable lives. A good, easy read for those looking for a modern novel to entertain on many levels. 


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20. Rupert Grint is…a Hufflepuff!

Rupert Grint as Ron Weasley is what sold many fans on the Harry Potter movies. He was the embodiment of the beloved character of Ron Weasley. He brought many fans’ favorite character to life. Rupert Grint had the honor to play Ron in all 8 films. He loves the world of Harry Potter, and to his amazement the Harry Potter universe is expanding.

Watch above as Rupert Grint talks about his favorite scenes in the Harry Potter films, and answers one of the questions we have all been asking: what house is Rupert Grint officially sorted into?
In his heart he feels he is a Gryffindor, saying,

Definitely Gryffindor, I think.”

However, Rupert was quick to add,

I feel like I belong there. But I’ve never been sorted officially.

Will he be right, or is he a Slytherin through and through?
His sorting comes as a surprise, and a little bit of sadness washes across an entire house of Hogwarts as Gryffindor loses one of the trio to Hufflepuff!   Rupert Grint quipped, “oh yeah, no I feel pretty good.”

Rupert Grint brings up one great point, and that is

It’s very in depth

when speaking about the new sorting quiz. Check out the entire interview over at Pottermore.

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21. INTERVIEW: Joe Casey talks Sex, his indie Officer Downe film and why comics are not like Van Halen

officer-downe  [Recently Joe Casey conducted an email interview with a writer for a now deceased site. I expressed an interest in running it on the Beat, but was unable to contact the original writer despite repeated attempts. As its general internet principle that the interviewee owns the written answers, I agreed to run Joe’s answers, as he’s […]

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22. Peter Owen (1927-2016)

       As reported at the official site, publisher Peter Owen has passed away.
       He was responsible for an impressive and interesting list -- and many of the Peter Owen titles are under review at the complete review.

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23. Fish

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24. Tamil literature

       In The Hindu Madhumitha Dhanasekaran has a piece on Legends of Tamil literature, helpfully introducing several leading authors and offering 'Our picks' of their major works.
       Sounds good -- except that you won't find these titles at your local bookstore, or, indeed, in most cases anywhere, at least in English ..... Read the rest of this post

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25. Pottermore’s Guide to Movie-Making: Shadowing David Yates

This week, Pottermore gave us a look inside what David Yates actually does as Director of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. Apparently it’s not all yelling ‘Cut!’ and ‘Action!’ – at least not for David Yates.

A team of Assistant Directors ensures filming runs as smoothly as possible, and according to Pottermore, most of their jobs involve adjusting leads, moving extras and actors around, preparing props and muttering instructions into mics. This team is led by first Assistant Director (AD) Josh Robertson, who usually does all the yelling, cutting and hushing:

“Josh and the other ‘ADs’ do a lot of yelling and a lot of shushing. Volume control is one of their principle duties. And when you consider that a mistimed cough could ruin a scene and cost thousands to reshoot, it’s very important.”

“There are four ADs on set (or, in movie speak, ‘on the floor’) and they all have earpiece microphones that make everything they say sound urgent. On Fantastic Beasts, Josh is joined by Tom Brewster, Danni Lizaitis and Katherine Hingst as second, third and fourth AD. Their names will appear right near the top of the end credits of the film when it’s out – you’ll spot them.”

“To support [David’s] process, the ADs fan out, assume positions at various spots on set and keep that area clean, clear, quiet and calm during and between scenes. They are the purveyors of smooth operation, the enablers of great direction.”

David Yates adjusts cameras to get the perfect shot, gives quiet directions to actors and monitors each shot and how the action plays out on screen. His gentle manner is something Katherine Waterston (who will portray Tina Goldstein in Fantastic Beasts) previously shared insight into David’s inspired style of directing:

‘He has a shorthand and a comfort with the world. He’s not precious with it, he understands what it needs and what it doesn’t need and there’s something really comforting in that.’

 ‘When we’re incorporating things that aren’t actually there, to look at David and know he can see the world is… everything,’

The Pottermore Correspondent adds:

“He is both obsessively detailed-oriented and able to see the whole project as if from above. After directing the final four Harry Potter films, this is his fifth venture into J.K. Rowling’s imagination and he knows the territory well. He just needs a dependable crew to clear his path for him”

Read the full piece here, and Pottermore’s interview with David Yates here!


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