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It's been one of those days: up out of bed as early as possible, speed shower, quick trip to a French bakery to buy a pastry and latte, get to work to be greeted with a stack of typing, rush to Home Depot to buy paint for the bathroom so my husband can paint the bathroom tonight, followed by a trip to the post office--which turns out to be closed--then home for a late lunch, back to the post office, now open, but I have so many foreign parcels to mail that when I get to the counter the people in the line behind me are sighing and groaning and tapping their feet, off to the grocery store because I haven't been in two weeks and we are living on pastry and latte, get home with badly packed groceries, and there is a giant cockroach in the middle of my living room. And of course I haven't blogged yet. I'd rather be reading.Which is why The Natural House Book, Creating a Healthy, Harmonious, and Ecologically Sound Home Environment by David Pearson is a little oasis of sanity in a busy, hectic, crazy world. My copy is a bit on the old side, 1989, and there have been more recent editions published, but I'm happy with the one I have. The book was gifted to me in the mid-90s by a lovely friend on the eve of her move to Maui when she was clearing the last of her own bookshelves. I was delighted to receive it, especially as my husband and I were in the middle of building a tiny little house and workspace in the Georgia countryside, and we needed all the help we could get.
The Natural House book has stayed with me ever since we built that house, lived in it very happily, added on to it, sold it, and then moved to Albuquerque where we have since moved three more times already. What I love about it in particular is it's sincere naturalness. All the photos are of real houses for real people with sweet, uncluttered rooms of airy grace and personal idiosyncrasy--exactly the type of house I try to create for myself. The book belongs to a time and mindset where people didn't enter a home and wail, "No granite countertops?? I can't LIVE without stainless steel! Oh, my God, CARPET! Tear it out before I vomit!"Instead, the book illustrates and suggests ways to make your home fresh and charming on the smallest of budgets: white curtains, house plants, baskets, minimal inexpensive furniture, and lots of open windows to let the breeze in and the day's woes out. If there's any kind of "message" in the text, it's simply this: seven bathrooms and an industrial kitchen do not a home make. A happy home can be as small as a yert and as plain as a white-washed room. It really is the thought that counts.So on that thought I'm off to put up my feet, have a glass of white wine, and finish reading Daughter of Smoke & Bone. Oh, and if you're wondering about the cockroach, I captured him with a piece of cardboard and put him in the back yard. I'm sure he has a home to go to somewhere.
At Guernica Jonathan Lee has a Q & A with Graywolf Press-publisher Fiona McCrae, The Art of Independent Publishing.
She worked at Faber during interesting times, too, and describes the pleasant surprise that was the success of Per Petterson's Out Stealing Horses.
It seems that Fox—which controls the X-men and Fantastic Four film franchises— and Sony—which controls Spider-Man—have come to an agreement to create their OWN variant earth-2 Marvel Cinematic Universe, starting with a cut scene at the end of AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 2. Foreign viewers are already tweeting about it. I’ve greyed out the relevant info below.
The “Amazing Spider-Man 2″ opens today overseas, and fans are already buzzing on Twitter over its end credits. The Sony Pictures release concludes with a teaser for the upcoming “X-Men: Days of Future Past,” a new sequence that has been added since “Spidey 2″ premiered in London last week.
The montage, which features a blue Jennifer Lawrence as Mystique, is meant to mimic the coda scenes that conclude the Disney and Marvel Pictures juggernauts, including “Captain America: The Winter Soldier,” which introduce new characters.
And yes, it’s a Fox-controlled X-character.
But is this REALLY the start of a titanic cross studio promotion? According to Variety a more prosaic contract detail is the cause. It seems SPIDEY director Marc Webb had a deal with Fox Searchlight, who only let him out of it to make Spidey for Sony on the condition that the movie promote the X-men for free.
So don’t expect to see Spidey in the FF any time soon. That’s ONLY for the comics, folks.
Amazing Spider-Man 2 opens on May 2.
Both giggle inducing and surreptitiously brain expanding, Little Answer by Tim Hopgood is about BIG questions (“What is the meaning of life?”, “What is the secret to happiness?”).
Yes, really. It’s about sausages.
And I say that even though you could in fact argue Little Answer is ultimately about the biggest existential questions any of us face; it’s about trying to find out who we are, about trying to understand how we fit into the big wide world.
Profound AND full of laugh out loud moments, kindness and good old fashioned silliness, this is a fabulous book for all ages.
In this philosophical and joyously absurd book Little Answer actually knows his name (‘Sausages‘), but the worrying problem is that he can’t find his question. Something’s missing in his life, and until he can find the Q to his A, things just don’t feel right.
With help from a friend, Little Answer asks around. Could he be the answer to “What makes the wind blow?” or “Where did everything come from?”. There must be a question out there just right for him to answer…
Children will recognise themselves in the gloriously satisfying end to this book, and they and their parents will enjoy the inclusion of brief answers to all the more challenging questions posed in the story. Indeed this is the perfect book for children always asking “Why?”
Tim’s richly textured illustrations are bright and beautiful. His scribbles and prints, full of energy, have an appealing child-like quality to them. Thick crayon strokes look like they’ve just been drawn on the page. And Little Answer’s characterization is brilliant; he’s utterly personable and endearing!
Tim’s told me that the idea for this book came to him during a question and answer session at the end of one his school visits.
One boy put his hand up and said “I’ve got a guinea-pig” and the teacher then explained to the boy that that wasn’t a question.
She then asked the class “What does a question need?” to which they all replied “An answer!”.
And at that point Tim immediately thought, “But what if the answer can’t find its question…”
I do hope that little boy and his guinea pig one day find out they’ve inspired a wonderful, witty, and warm book perfect for feeding (and satisfying) curiosity.
You know a book’s hit home when within just a couple of hours of it arriving, the kids are already at play, inspired by the book. And so it was with Little Answer. Balloons were filled with rice (making them lovely to hold), and then eyes, smiles and legs were added to make our own Little Answers.
M couldn’t resist making a BIG Answer too! And the answers didn’t go nameless for long.
They were called:
and… 55 (she was the BIG Answer)
The girls told me that these were all answers to questions they had come up with, and it was now my job to find out what those questions were.
Well I like a challenge, and I was certain that one of the questions must involve cake, so off we set for a cafe.
To the huge delight of the girls, I was WRONG! None of their answers involved anything to do with a cafe (though they were more than happy to try some cake, just to be sure).
I thought I better up my game, so I then decided that the local library would be a good place to look for questions. M was very obliging and looked up the dewey numbers for the books which might help me find the right questions to the answers she and her sister had prepared.
So at least I was in the right section for some of my questions…. and I started knuckled down to work, with the Little Answers looking along side me.
The Big Answer preferred to lounge about!
I have to admit, it was quite a struggle to find the right questions. But in case you’re wondering what they were here they are:
What has antennae, wings and is beautiful?
Who do you find in Ancient Egyptian tombs?
What does Cadburys make?
Name a nematode that might live in your gut
Name a part of a flower
What’s my (M’s) favourite herb?
What is 165 divided by 3?
And are you ready for the really really BIG question?
I especially liked the big question. It really reminds you how different the world can see when you’re a kid!
Even if I struggled to find all the questions in the library, we had so much fun with this activity. Any game where the kids are in the know and the adults are clueless is always popular in this home! Plus, along the way we got to practise research skills and giggle a great deal. What could be better?
Music we listened to whilst making our little answers included:
There Are More Questions Than Answers by Johnny Nash
The Dewey Decimal Rap
What’s The Answer? by Gene Harris & The Three Sounds
Other fun activities to try out alongside reading Little Answer include:
Playing Sausages! Great for a quick giggle… go on, give it a go!
Printing your own fabric to match the dress worn by Daisy in the book. Here’s a how the Artful Parent did child friendly fabric printing.
Making a snail friend for your little answers. Older children might enjoy making these ones from old tights or sweaters, whilst everyone will love eating these ones!
Reading Tim Hopgood’s BIG! (here’s my review) or The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams, both of which pair perfectly (though in different ways) with Little Answer.
What are you the answer to? What questions are you looking for?
Disclosure: I received a free review copy of Little Answer from the author.
In the opening poem (“matters of great importance”) of my collection, Solving the World’s Problems
, I ask a simple question: what’s more important / writing a poem / or building a bridge…
At least, the question starts off simple enough, but then it continues to spiral out into giving thanks, stocking chairs, delivering chairs, managing systems, and so on. But there are times when I waste time worrying about which really is more important. There are times when I wonder, “What am I doing here?”
Here being writing poems and devoting a tremendous amount of time and energy to a poetry blog. After all, there’s not a lot of money in writing poetry–even for a publisher like Writer’s Digest Books. But there’s more to measuring value than dollars and cents, isn’t there?
Why Am I Saying Any of This?
Every so often, there’s some kind of “death or uselessness of poetry” post or article that runs all viral on the Internet. So I’ve been meaning to write a post on why I think there’s value in poetry for a long while, but it was still simmering in me until I received this message on Facebook from Aleathia Drehmer, a poetry advocate who lives in New York:
I just wanted to say thank you for everything you do with the PAD challenges. The one in November helped me get over the death of my cousin and brought me back to writing after a year of near silence. This challenge is helping me get over the death of my mother. She passed in January and this is her birth month.
I actually don’t care if I ever get published again. Life has taken on a new meaning now and I honestly am getting back to the roots of writing when I was a little girl. Just writing because my heart says so, because it is a way I can communicate my little slice of the world with my dad and any friends that care to read.
Thank you from the bottom of my heart for giving me back something I had lost and thought I would not find again. Grief can be a great eraser sometimes. I’m just glad it hasn’t erased me yet.
Have a great day.
Aleathia is not the first person to send me a message like this, and I know she won’t be the last. But for me, this displays exactly what the value of poetry is, and it’s something more important and primal than shelf space at a brick-and-mortar bookstore or an online sales ranking.
Poetry is something deeply human.
What Does Poetry Mean to My Life?
Anyone who’s read this blog for a significant period of time knows that I’m not afraid to get personal, but let me get really personal. Poetry has helped me get into relationships, deal with break ups, absorb deaths, and other feelings. For instance, I was sexually abused over the course of two years as a child, and poetry helped me unbottle all those emotions and feelings that I had bottled up from that period of my life.
In college, I went so crazy on poetry that I burned out on it. In fact, I’d convinced myself that I was a horrible poet and that I should just focus on fiction, a genre in which I was actually winning some awards (and money). So I kinda wrote some poetry, but mostly I didn’t. That part of me fell dormant, and I thought I’d never get it back.
Then, I separated from my wife and my uncle died, and I had these huge gaping holes in my soul. I tried running some of the emotions out of me, but what ultimately helped me conquer these developments was poetry. The act of writing poems helps me tap into parts of myself that often don’t make sense until they’re down on paper.
What Does Poetry Mean to YOU?
I’ve shared what poetry means to me. It’s helped me deal with anger, frustration, heartbreak, headache, hopelessness, isolation, depression, and more. It’s helped me be human. That’s the true value of poetry as far as I’m concerned. Everything else is icing.
What does poetry mean to you?
Robert Lee Brewer
Robert Lee Brewer is Senior Content Editor of the Writer’s Digest Writing Community and author of Solving the World’s Problems. In addition to editing Poet’s Market, he manages the Poetic Asides blog, writes a poetry column for Writer’s Digest magazine, edits a free weekly WritersMarket.com newsletter, and more. He’s married to poet Tammy Foster Brewer, who helps him keep track of their five little poets (four boys and one princess). He’s given up trying to figure out which is more important between writing a poem and building a chair; it’s really a chicken-egg argument, because both are necessary and valuable. Follow him on Twitter @robertleebrewer
Learn how to get your poetry published with the latest edition of Poet’s Market. It’s filled with articles on the craft and business of poetry. Plus, it contains hundreds of listings for book publishers, online and print publications, contests, and more!
Click to continue
Find more poetic posts here:
.Thomas Lux: Poet Interview
.Somonka: Poetic Forms
At Eurozine they reprint a piece by Jonathan Bousfield from New Eastern Europe, Growing up in Kundera's Central Europe, in which he discusses how Milan Kundera's concept of Central Europe (and his writing) influenced three writers from the area -- from Czechoslovakia (Tomáš Zmeškal, "of mixed Czech and Congolese descent"), Yugoslavia (Miljenko Jergović, several of whose works have been translated into English), and the Soviet Union/Ukraine (The Moscoviad-author Yuri Andrukhovych) -- three countries that no longer have the same contours as they did when these authors were growing up, or even after the collapse of the Soviet Union.
Lost At Sea How come we know who we are when we're children, but as we grow, we coast like ships without a compass far out to sea, losing ourselves into the society or situation we're born in? Sometimes, late at night I wonder if I lost my memory, how I would know who I really am, and why I’m alive. I have clear memories of early childhood. In fact, there are times when I believe I knew myself well in the first decade of my life, lost myself in my twenties, and then spent my thirties searching for my authentic self- Because somehow I forgot who I was to begin with-
Then, I found myself face first on the dusty bottom of the ocean- After which, I wasted much time floating upwards, without realizing what a gift it was to shoot toward the sky, suck in oxygen, and have a chance to return to the shore. It's as though our ships sail from the earths sandy beaches, like the newborn waves who struggled with the rolling tide for centuries. We are not unlike anything alive, like the trees, plants, flowers, animals, etc... And everything alive suffers, feels joy, sacrifices for love, and is grateful enough to give back the gifts they've received from our planet and creator.
I believe we roll upon the earths wet shore when we’re children, then as we grow older we drift far out to sea dancing against the oceans current, and if we're lucky, we learn why we’re blessed enough to be alive, who we are, and why we're standing on solid ground- Capable of stretching out on soft clover, gaze at the stars, and sail upon the ocean's water.- Perhaps the tiny waves that splash upon the beach are returning home, after paying the cost of living...returning to the beginning, or returning home. We notice the earth’s remarkable beauty, yet we're unaware of the unseen wounds in others. Some people seem to see the river of pain that runs deep inside the soul of others. While others pass human beings on the street as if they're blind, laughing at their jokes, and telling themselves they're kind.
Nowadays, I've decided to soak my heart in love for the trees, bird's, clover, stars, animals, flowers, people, and the rest of the living things around us, maybe I'll learn something- And I will remember a quote by Mark Twain, “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did so. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”
Plus, I will laugh, and have fun, fun, fun until I return to the wet sandy beach of my beginning.
Thanks for reading, and don't forget to let me know what songs in your head today- I have mine posted next door.
(I hope you do not see my title Lost At Sea, to the left of this post, if you do, please except my apology. I cannot see it, so I can't delete it, hopefully you can't see it either. :)
Blog: Illustration for Kids Blog
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Just a little bunny fun for Easter!
By: Melody Rhodes,
Blog: Bedbug Books
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Since 2009, the Bedbug series has gained momentum, spawning a number of releases. A look at publications produced to-date and what is on the horizon.
Book I Was First Released in a Ribbon-Bound Collector's Edition
Kids loved this package with the Bedbug toy and the book with the sparkly orange ribbon. The little bag meant that Bedbug could travel.
To order ribbon-bound books, please visit
By: Joanne Friar,
Have you ever hate-read anything? Maybe, like this Paris Review contributor, you even do it regularly? When I came upon that post today I was initially taken aback. Why, I’d never! *Gasp of shock and horror*
Sure, I’ve hate-watched something before. I readily admit that after the second or third episode of the first season of the Under the Dome TV series I found it so terribly bad and realized it wasn’t going to get any better. But I kept watching it each week because there was something about hating it that was fun. And when the second season runs I will hate-wath that too.
But hate-reading? Why I’d never! Except then I remembered that once I did. It didn’t start off as hate-reading but the book quickly turned bad. I kept reading, however, because it was bad. It was a nonfiction book and its badness became not only fascinating but fun. Let’s see how many holes I can poke in the argument! And there were a few flaws of logic that were breathtaking. So I read to the end, hating it the whole time and always wondering why I didn’t just return the book to the library.
I am sure that was the only time I have ever hate-read something. But now I recall hate-reading a couple Harold Bloom books. Those books weren’t bad and Bloom is a very good writer, it’s the man himself that rubs me the wrong way. All his sly insulting comments about feminists, his pomposity and ego drive me nuts. I know this but I read those couple of books anyway just for the pleasure of whipping myself into a hate-reading frenzy.
I generally feel contrite afterwards; a little dirty and ashamed. So it is probably good I don’t hate-read very often. It’s been years but I doubt that means I have seen the error of my ways. No, I suspect I am just waiting for the right book to come along.
Filed under: Books
The closing date for entries for this year's Nigeria Prize for Literature was 31 March, and they've now announced (though not yet at the official site ...) that there were 124 entries; see, for example, the This Day report.
The prize rotates through four genres, and this year it's drama; the winner will receive US $100,000.
To "encourage literary criticism" there's also a literary criticism prize, "open to literary critics from all over the world" (as long as the criticism is of Nigerian literature).
Here the prize-sum is given in the local currency -- presumably since 1,000,000 naira sounds more impressive than its US dollar equivalent (less than $6200).
2014 CWC show, the Creative Wellness Center,
May 2, 2014,
I have three pieces in this show.
The one shown above and two others
Mah Jongg is a game that’s strange
‘Cause every year the cards will change, So you may try to play a hand That once was there at your command But now that pattern isn’t there, Which feels a little bit unfair. Until you learn the latest card, The challenges are really hard, For you might try to reconcile The hand you’re dealt with what’s on file Within your brain from last year’s sets And that’s as tricky as it gets. Each formula appears askew. Repeating old ones is taboo; And though it is a tad confusing, There’s no upside to refusing. Everyone must be on board; Acceptance is its own reward. The more you play, the more you’ll learn And soon enough, when it’s your turn, You’ll realize you’ve absorbed the new, Like all the Mah Jongg players do; But once you’re comfy, only then –
They’ll go and change the card again!
Posted on 4/16/2014
Question: My plot revolves around a villain that discovers the secrets of traveling between alternate universes but is sent through by an invader from
Each day I walk into the library, I get to look forward to something new. While the general routine may be the same each day holds something different. I never know what questions I'm going to be asked and I love that! Here's what my day looked like today:
8:20- arrive at work, go through opening procedures for department
8:35-gather story time books and music
8:40-check in with M about plan for the day, what needs to be done
8:45-set up story time. Since I was doing back to back story times, I decided to do all sings and dancing without any crafts or activities to make the set up easier
9:05-check email, respond to messages that need answers right away, email manager about an upcoming staff meeting
9:15-on desk, youth services coordinator visits department to get feedback about sumner reading program, branch manager stops by to get stickers fir an outreach visit, sign up for upcoming staff training
9:30-P arrives for shift. We talk about the May schedule and I make adjustments to the schedule
10:00-time for toddler story time! The Freeze Dance and playing with the parachute were the kids favorite parts of story time
10:50-set up story hour room for preschool story time, adjust music I need for my preschool group.
11:00-this us only my third week back from maternity leave, so I'm still seeing lots of my regular patrons for the first time since I've been back. I got to catch up with one if my story time families and talk books and movies which is always fun!
11:15-preschool story time. I ended up reading the same books (Dance With Me, If You're A Monster and You Know It, and From Head to Toe) but I added longer songs. I included Greg and Steve's Listen and Move-one of my favorites! The kids loved it!
11:45-clean up story time and put books in bin for a repeat of my story time plan on Friday
12:05-rove through the teen department, take DVD cases up front to the circulation department, check mail, visit youth services coordinator to talk about purchasing a new diecut for our machine to use for summer reading, catch up with C when she arrives for the afternoon and talk about the schedule and email it out to staff, reply to emails
1:30-3:00-supervisor training webinar
3:00-visit teen department then head back to children's department after training, catch up with staff about what's been happening, make list of what to talk to branch manager about during meeting tomorrow, answer questions at desk and help patrons, update calendar with meetings and schedule for May, swap story times with M for next week and adjust the schedule (there is always so much to do with the schedule!!!)
4:20-answer questions at desk, visit teen department, straighten up department, organize desk for tomorrow, make to do list for tomorrow, one last email check
Every semester, I take my character design for Children's Book Class to the Zoo. It's always a fun, relaxing day. Here are a few sketches from that day.
By: Melissa Wiley
Blog: Here in the Bonny Glen
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Here’s a little moment in time. Right after I read The Little Fur Family to Huck (for the first time!) the other day, he wanted to read it himself. This is one of my favorite picture books to read with very young kids, and I can’t imagine how it slipped past Huck until now—I found this copy of the book at the bottom of a box of toys earlier in the week. Of course the very best edition is the tiny one with the faux-fur cover. It’s around here somewhere, but I don’t recall seeing it in ages. It’s probably under a bed.
Anyway, when I grabbed my boy for the read-aloud, he was reluctant to listen, as he very often is right at the beginning. And then, as nearly always happens, before I finish the first page, he’s hooked. It went double this time around. He fell hard for the little fur child in the wild, wild wood, like so many before him.
I caught a good chunk of his reading on video. There’s background noise from his big sisters and brother, but you can hear him pretty well. I love watching the leaps kids make at this age—the substitutions where they think they see where the word is going and plug in one they know, like his “fun children” for “fur child” and “mom” for “mother.”
I don’t know if I caught this stage on video with any of the other kids. I have a pretty young Rilla reading an Ariel speech from The Tempest—you can’t hear much in the recording but it melts me to see the confidence with which she attacks some quite challenging text—but nothing, as far as I can recall, of the others at Huck’s stage. I’m glad I captured this much. Those sneezes!
By: Julia Hornaday,
Blog: First Book
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Shannon Bowers’ son Alex loves Dr. Seuss’ Oh, the Places You’ll Go.
Shannon gets teary-eyed when they read it together. Someday Alex will grow up, go to college and live out his dreams. Alex gets teary-eyed when Shannon reads too many of the pages. He’s five now. That’s his job.
Recently, Alex and his classmates, students from diverse ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds, all picked out brand-new books from First Book to take home. They chose stories about history, princesses and sharks. Their excitement was overflowing; many of them had no books at home.
Books have always been an important part of Shannon’s life. Her parents read to her as a child, and she and her husband Paul entered parenthood sharing the belief that education creates opportunities. They have always made an effort to fill their home with books.
Since Alex was born, Shannon and Paul have made reading as a family part of their nightly routine. Alex picks out a book; they all pile into his bed and share the story together. These days, Alex really likes to read to one-year-old Michael. He gets frustrated if mom or dad interrupts.
Shannon hopes reading will help take Alex and Michael all the places they want to go – in their imaginations and in life. She hopes financial issues won’t stand in their way. She hopes the same can be true for all kids.
“Our kids, they’re five years old,” she said. “None of them are thinking about [the future] right now. But we are. We think about that kind of thing… I want all of these kids to know if they make good enough grades, and they do what they need to do, then it’s there. They can do whatever they want.”
Together we can prepare kids for brighter future. Please consider making a gift to First Book today.
The post Oh, the Places You’ll Go appeared first on First Book Blog.
did a nice write up about me on her illustrators blog. There are some other cool profiles there too so check them out while you are there!
She lives in California now but went to CCAD in Columbus. Check out her site
You know how I'm always talking about Florinda?
(Florinda, Florinda, Florinda)
Well, there she is, all the way across the United States, at the Chronicle Books booth, talking to Lara Starr, Chronicle publicist, about whom I'm also often caught bragging.
The two of them, together. And me here.
And yet, even though 3,000 miles separate us, Florinda always makes me feel like I'm right there in the room with her. She makes me laugh. She tells me stories. She reads many books. She makes room.
Florinda was a key component in the Going Over
blog tour, with her fabulous Q and A
. That was (believe me) already going far beyond the call of duty, but yesterday, at the end of an uber long but good day, I received another gift from Florinda: this review of the Berlin book that she'd taken the time not just to read but to ponder.
They are glorious words
. I send you straight to her. Some 3,000 miles away from me, which is also the stretch of her smile.
Thank you, Florinda!
By: Terry Doherty,
"Great minds discuss ideas. Average minds discuss events. Small minds discuss people." - Eleanor Roosevelt
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By: Andye ReadingTeen,
Blog: Reading Teen
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From HarperTeen and Divergent Official:
Welcome, new Initiates! We know you loved the Divergent film, so we thought we’d share eight juicy details that weren’t in the movie you can look forward to when you read the book.
1. There’s more than hamburgers in the Dauntless cafeteria—there’s chocolate cake! Can you guess which non-initiate knows about it?
“At the end of the hallway she turns
A quick sketch turnes alive in Photoshop with the help of the
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Nice article about the incredible Mary Blair. Check it out here
- I was interviewed for the article along with some of my favorite artists.