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1. Harry Potter Name Meanings

Harry Potter illustration by Mary GrandPreHarry Potter Name MeaningsHarry’s birthday on July 31

, we’ve compiled a list of Harry Potter name meanings! Whether you’re a seasoned Harry Potter fan and honorary member of Dumbledore’s Army, or you’re just starting your first year at Hogwarts, you’ve probably noticed J. K. Rowling’s characters have some quirky names. From Hermione to Bellatrix, it turns out their names might signify more than you realize. Check out the following Harry Potter name meanings to see just how much thought went into naming our magical friends of the wizarding world.
  • Harry means “army leader.” Fitting, yes?Hermione means “well born” (Take that, Malfoy!) and “stone,” which is also appropriate considering her run-in with a certain serpent in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.Ronald means “mighty counselor.” Now that sounds like a reliable friend!Albus means “white” in Latin. Wait, what color is the headmaster’s hair?Sirius means “dog star.” You can say that again!Argus means “bright.” Perhaps she was being sarcastic here? But then again, as Hogwarts’ caretaker, Filch is always walking the halls with a lantern at night!Tom means “twin.” Ponder this one when you get to Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows! We might also consider the relationship between Harry and Tom Riddle’s wands . . . Bellatrix means “warlike.” No surprise there!Cedric means “kind and loved.” He does try to stop the other fourth-years from wearing the buttons that make fun of Harry in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire!Draco means “dragon.” He does, after all, use words like he’s spitting fire . . . Cho means “beautiful.” Plenty of Hogwarts fourth-years would agree!Alastor (a.k.a. Mad-Eye Moody) means “man’s defender.” This one, too, will be clear if you’ve read the very beginning of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows!Dolores means “sorrow.” That’s definitely what I felt when Umbridge arrived at Hogwarts!Severus means “stern” or “severe.” Okay, fair enough – the meaning of Professor Snape’s name was probably the most obvious!Sybill means “prophetess.” There couldn’t possibly be a more perfect name for the Hogwarts professor of Divination!Arthur means “strong as a bear.” That’s the head of the Weasley clan, thank you very much!Minerva means “goddess of wisdom” or “wise” – as any Gryffindor head of house should be! Add a Comment
2. WRITE. SHARE. GIVE. IT’S SOL TIME.

“Instructions for living a life. Pay attention. Be astonished. Tell about it.” ― Mary Oliver

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3. Photobooth Program

Planning programs that will appeal to 12-14 year olds is really, really hard for me.  This is the age where kids start to get busy, where they start having to balance school and extracurriculars with other things: like library time.  If I’m being totally honest, this is where I start losing them.

So this summer, my amazing staff came up with an incredible program that all of my teens loved–especially that middle school demographic: an in-library photo booth.  If your tweens and teens are anything like mine, they’re glued to their smartphones with Instagram and Snapchat constantly open.  This program just gave them an opportunity to have some fun with their photos. We asked them to tag their pictures with the hashtag we usually use for our library stuff, and then let them loose on these fun props:

IMG_0214 SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

It could not have been more fun! It was so simple–we made the props from paper and lollipop sticks, which you can get at any craft store. We didn’t have time to make a booth, so we just put up a crepe paper background. We printed out clip art, used scrapbook paper, and there were even some superhero masks that everyone loved. It was a hit beyond anything we could have imagined, and we’ll definitely be doing this one again (we laminated the props for easy reuse).  The kids loved not only the fact that it was fun, but also the freedom that they had to personalize it and own their pictures the way they wanted to. I’ve been having a lot of success in programs for tweens that aren’t overscheduled, that allow them to enjoy some of the freedom that’s starting to come with their age.

Have you tried anything similar at your library?

*
Our cross-poster from ALSC today is Ally Watkins (@aswatki1). Ally is a youth services librarian in Mississippi, and has worked with ages birth-18 for the last 5 years.

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4. The month that changed the world: Wednesday, 29 July 1914

July 1914 was the month that changed the world. On 28 June 1914, Archduke Franz Ferdinand was assassinated, and just five weeks later the Great Powers of Europe were at war. But how did it all happen? Historian Gordon Martel, author of The Month That Changed The World: July 1914, is blogging regularly for us over the next few weeks, giving us a week-by-week and day-by-day account of the events that led up to the First World War.

By Gordon Martel


Before the sun rose on Wednesday morning a new hope for a negotiated settlement of the crisis was initiated. The Kaiser, acting on the advice of his chancellor, wrote directly to the Tsar. He hoped that Nicholas would agree with him that they shared a common interest in punishing all of those ‘morally responsible’ for the dastardly murder of the Archduke, and he promised to exert his influence to induce Austria to deal directly with Russia in order to arrive at an understanding.

At 1 a.m. Nicholas appealed to Wilhelm for his assistance: ‘An ignoble war has been declared on a weak country.’ The indignation that this had caused in Russia was enormous and he anticipated that he would soon be overwhelmed by the pressure being brought to bear upon him, forcing him to take ‘extreme measures’ that would lead to war. To avoid this terrible calamity, he begged Wilhelm, in the name of their old friendship, ‘to do what you can to stop your allies from going too far.’

The question of the day on Wednesday was whether Austria-Hungary and Russia might undertake direct discussions to settle the crisis before further military steps turned a local Austro-Serbian war into a general European one.

The New York Times, 29 July 1914. Public domain via Wikimedia Commons

The New York Times, 29 July 1914. Public domain via Wikimedia Commons

The German general staff summarized its view of the situation: the crime of Sarajevo had led Austria to resort to extreme measures ‘in order to burn with a glowing iron a cancer that has constantly threatened to poison the body of Europe’. The quarrel would have been limited to Austria and Serbia had not Russia begun making military preparations. Now, if the Austrians advanced into Serbia, they would face not only the Serbian army but the vastly superior strength of Russia. Thus, they could not contemplate fighting Serbia without securing themselves against an attack by Russia. This would force them to mobilize the other half of their army – at which point a collision between Austria and Russia would become inevitable. This would force Germany to mobilize, which would lead Russia and France to do the same – ‘and the mutual butchery of the civilized nations of Europe would begin’.

In other words, unless a negotiated settlement could be reached quickly, war seemed inevitable.

Berchtold pleaded with Berlin that only ‘plain speech’ would restrain the Russians, i.e. only the threat of a German attack would stop them from taking military action against Austria. And there were signs that Russia was wary of war. The Austrian ambassador reported that Sazonov was desperate to avoid a conflict and was ‘clinging to straws in the hope of escaping from the present situation’. Sazonov promised that if they were to negotiate on the basis of Sir Edward Grey’s proposal, Austria’s legitimate demands would be recognized and fully satisfied.

At the same time, Sazonov was pleading for British support: the only way to prevent war now was for Britain to warn the Triple Alliance that it would join its entente partners if war were to break out.

But Grey refused to make any promises. When he met with the French ambassador later that afternoon, he warned him not to assume that Britain would again stand by France as it had in 1905. Then it had appeared that Germany was attempting to crush France; now, ‘the dispute between Austria and Serbia was not one in which we felt called to take a hand’. Earlier that day the British cabinet had decided not to decide; Grey was to inform both sides that Britain was unable to make any promises.

At 4 p.m. the German general staff received intelligence that Belgium was calling up reservists, raising the numbers of the Belgian army from 50,000 to 100,000, equipping its fortifications and reinforcing defences along the frontier. Forty minutes later a meeting at the Neue Palais in Potsdam, the Kaiser and his advisers decided to compose an ultimatum to present to Belgium: either agree to adopt an attitude of ‘benevolent neutrality’ towards Germany in a European war or face dire consequences.

Simultaneously, Bethmann Hollweg decided to launch a bold new initiative. He proposed to the British ambassador that Britain agree to remain neutral in the event of war in exchange for a German promise not to seize any French territory in Europe when it ended. He understood that Britain would not allow France to be crushed, but this was not Germany’s aim. When asked whether his proposal applied to French colonies as well, the chancellor replied that he was unable to give a similar undertaking concerning them. Belgium’s integrity would be respected when the war ended –as long as it had not sided against Germany.

Yet another German initiative was taken in St Petersburg. At 7 p.m. the German ambassador transmitted a warning from the chancellor that if Russia continued with its military preparations Germany would be compelled to mobilize, in which case it would take the offensive. Sazonov replied that this removed any doubts he may have had concerning the real cause of Austria’s intransigence.

The Russians found this confusing, as they had just received another telegram from the Kaiser containing a plea that he should not permit Russian military measures to jeopardize German efforts to promote a direct understanding between Russia and Austria. It was agreed that the Tsar should wire Berlin immediately to ask for an explanation of the apparent discrepancy. At 8.20 p.m. the wire asking for clarification was sent. Trusting in his cousin’s ‘wisdom and friendship’, Tsar Nicholas suggested that the ‘Austro-Serbian problem’ be handed over to the Hague conference.

A message announcing a general mobilization in Russia had been drafted and ready to be sent out by 9 p.m. Then, just minutes before it was to be sent out, a personal messenger from the Tsar arrived, instructing that it the general mobilization be cancelled and a partial one re-instituted. The Tsar wanted to hear how the Kaiser would respond to his latest telegram before proceeding. ‘Everything possible must be done to save the peace. I will not become responsible for a monstrous slaughter’.

Gordon Martel is a leading authority on war, empire, and diplomacy in the modern age. His numerous publications include studies of the origins of the first and second world wars, modern imperialism, and the nature of diplomacy. A founding editor of The International History Review, he has taught at a number of Canadian universities, and has been a visiting professor or fellow in England, Ireland and Australia. Editor-in-chief of the five-volume Encyclopedia of War, he is also joint editor of the longstanding Seminar Studies in History series. His new book is The Month That Changed The World: July 1914.

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5. Monday charcoal quickies


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6. How I Found My Literary Agent: Cassandra Dunn

“How I Got My Agent” is a recurring feature on the Guide to Literary Agents Blog, with this installment featuring Cassandra Dunn, author of THE ART OF ADAPTING. These columns are great ways for you to learn how to find a literary agent. Some tales are of long roads and many setbacks, while others are of good luck and quick signings. If you have a literary agent and would be interested in writing a short guest column for this GLA blog, e-mail me at literaryagent@fwmedia.com and we’ll talk specifics.

GIVEAWAY: Cassandra is excited to give away a free copy of her novel to a random commenter. Comment within 2 weeks; winners must live in Canada/US to receive the book by mail. You can win a blog contest even if you’ve won before. (Please note that comments may take a little while to appear; this is normal).

 

cassandra-dunn-author-writer         the-art-of-adapting-novel-cover

Cassandra Dunn is the author of THE ART OF ADAPTING (Touchstone/Simon
& Schuster, July 2014). Kirkus Reviews said of the novel, “Dunn’s debut novel
treats readers to a family in transition. . . . A neatly wrapped, happily-ever-after
tale of a broken family that survives and thrives.” Dunn received her MFA in
creative writing from Mills College. She was a semifinalist for the Amazon
Breakthrough Novel Award and a finalist for Glimmer Train’s Short Story
Award for New Writers. She’s published 12 short stories. She is represented
by Harvey Klinger. Her website is cassandradunn.com, and you can
connect with her on Facebook or Twitter.

 

 
I HAVE A MANUSCRIPT WHAT DO I DO NOW?

Like most aspiring authors, I had no idea what I was doing when I started seeking out an agent. I had a completed manuscript, and I was proud to have a finished novel. Was it ready to go out into the world? Not even close. But I didn’t know that at the time.

I finished my MFA program with a memoir that I soon abandoned, got married, had kids, got lost on my writing path, and eventually found my way back to writing, this time focusing on fiction. I wrote some short stories, and managed to get a few published. I chose an unpublished story that had been selected as a Glimmer Train finalist and kept adding to it until I had a novel. A terrible, unbalanced, meandering novel full of rookie mistakes, but a novel just the same. I was hooked. And I knew that I could do better.

I wrote a second novel, a little deeper than the first, full of bigger tragedy and greater risk, and I entered it in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award competition. It survived round after round of cuts, eventually making it to the semifinals. I gave it a brief (too brief) revision based on some of the reviews it had received and on feedback from an online novel workshop. Then I assembled a list of new agents who were actively list-building, and started sending it out. I got enough requests to see more of the novel to know that my query letter was decent, but each agent ultimately passed. I was about 60 failed queries in when I decided to shelve that novel and focus on the next one, which was coming along quickly.

(Can writers query multiple agents at the same agency?)

THE END OF ONE NOVEL, THE BEGINNING OF ANOTHER

That novel, The Art of Adapting, came from my heart — the scenes and characters waking me in the morning, my fingers and wrists cramping each afternoon from not being able to type fast enough to keep up with my thoughts. It was personal, inspired by my uncle, and it mattered to me more than anything else I’d written. I finished a draft in three months and sent it to two trusted friends for feedback. As I waited to hear back from them, I worked on more short stories, publishing a handful of them. I wanted agents to see that I was serious about writing, publishing, pushing myself.

I revised The Art of Adapting with the notes from my beta readers, and started compiling a list of agents. This time, I decided not to start with junior agents. I aimed for my dream agents right off the bat, because, why not? I was methodical. I researched, looking for agents who wanted women’s fiction, who had positive feedback from other queriers, who had recent sales and impressive author lists. I made a list of 25 agents, knowing I might need more than 50 eventually, and broke them into groups of 5. Each Monday, I was going to query 5 agents, taking the time to craft a personal letter for each of them. I was not going to check my email every 30 seconds to see if any of them had responded. I was going pass the time working on short stories and attending writing conferences to make connections and conquer my shy nature. But then the unthinkable happened. One of the agents in my very first query group responded right away. Harvey Klinger asked for the first chapters. Then the whole book. And then he offered to represent me.

(Learn why “Keep Moving Forward” may be the best advice for writers everywhere.)

BUT IT’S NOT THAT SIMPLE

The book wasn’t ready to go out to publishers. It was still chock full of rookie mistakes that made me cringe (show, don’t tell!). Over the next few months Harvey helped me revise the entire manuscript chapter by chapter. He’s a tough but encouraging critic, and his guidance was one of the best gifts I’ve ever had as a writer. I felt like that revision phase was a test of our relationship, to make sure we were a good fit. For me to see if he really got the heart of my story, and for him to see that I could take criticism and was determined to do the work necessary on a project.

And that’s my best advice for aspiring authors. Be determined to do the work. Not just the fun part of writing that first draft, but the long, heart-wrenching editing passes where you kill your darlings, the awkward networking, the bio-building of getting your name out there in some capacity. And when your work is as ready as you can make it, aim high. And show don’t tell.

GIVEAWAY: Cassandra is excited to give away a free copy of her novel to a random commenter. Comment within 2 weeks; winners must live in Canada/US to receive the book by mail. You can win a blog contest even if you’ve won before. (Please note that comments may take a little while to appear; this is normal).

 


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7. Harry Potter Personality Quiz

Harry Potter illustration  by Mary GrandPre

Personality Quiz: Which Harry Potter character are you?

Have you ever wished you could go to Hogwarts after reading one of J. K. Rowling’s books?! OK. Stupid question. OF COURSE YOU HAVE! Whether you’ve read the series or watched the movies, all the characters are so relatable that there always seems to be that one character you have a lot in common with.

Which Harry Potter character are you most like? Take this quiz and find out!

  1. While working on a group project you . . .  A) tend to get wrapped up in your own work and are quick to correct others. B) are very well organized and take your responsibilities very seriously. C) are the natural leader but take everyone’s thoughts and ideas into consideration. D) hate doing the work if it doesn’t involve you totally being in charge.
  2. Your favorite subject at school is . . .  A) Arithmancy (Mathematics). B) History of Magic (History). C) Defense Against the Dark Arts (English). D) Charms and Potions (Science).
  3. You notice that someone has left a bag in the corridor so you . . . A) give it to a professor. B) bring it to the main office hoping the person who lost it will look there first. C) try to figure out whose bag it is and return it. D) take it back to your room and rummage through it.
  4. You spend your time after school . . . A) reading and studying in the library. B) supervising  a group activity or club. C) playing on your school’s Quidditch (sports) team. D) challenging your friends to duels in the schoolyard.
  5. You usually come across to others as . . . A) intelligent and goal-oriented. B) responsible and reliable. C) brave and loyal. D) overly confident.
  6. Your tragic flaw is . . . A) sometimes acting like a know-it-all. B) judging others too harshly. C) getting too absorbed in your own personal pursuits. D) being conceited.

Ready for the moment of truth? Count up your answers and find out which Harry Potter character you are!

If you answered mostly A’s:  You are Hermione Granger!

Like Hermione, you are a smart, natural born thinker. You love problem solving and learning, and you tend to get caught up in your own studies.

If you answered mostly B’s: You are Minerva McGonagall!
Like Professor McGonagall, you are very well organized and always get the job done. People come to you to help solve their problems or give them advice. You have a very strong set of morals and always try to do the right thing.

If you answered mostly C’s: You are Harry Potter!
Like Harry, you are very easy to get along with. You are a loyal friend and are very independent. People look up to you and trust you to lead the way. You learn best by doing and taking things apart to figure them out.

If you answered mostly D’s: You are Draco Malfoy!

Like Malfoy, you are quick-thinking and adaptable. You are sometimes pessimistic, but you are also strategic and usually predict how things will play out. You are intuitive and very confident in yourself and your abilities.

PS. You are invited to celebrate Harry’s birthday with us at a live readathon

on July 31. Happy birthday, Harry!

—Amanda, STACKS Intern

Harry Potter illustration by Mary GrandPré

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8. Little Fox

Been having fun drawing lots of cute characters for a children's book I am working on for
Beach Lane Books!
©Lesley Breen Withrow

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9. Working Out the Details

erikaphoto-45Hello again! Jersey Farm Scribe here on…

PATIENCE: Working out the Details

Speaking from my own personal situation, I just did a major revision on my chapter book. It brought my story a bit more full circle, drawing some of the ending and pulling piece of it into the beginning.

Exciting stuff and I love the way it’s reading now.

But that was a pretty major revision for me, and I’m realizing that in some ways, it’s set me back a good bit. There are parts that don’t flow as well now, character reactions that don’t make sense and redundancies that are just plain annoying.

While I knew it would happen, to be honest, it’s quite frustrating.

Grumble, grumble… I JUST went over all this stuff…

There is a part of me that instinctively desires to push things back the way they were so I can make certain scenes read through properly again.

Plus, I have this crazy voice in the back of my head. It keeps thinking about the SCBWI conference I attended at the end of June, the people I talked to, the editors and agents who showed interest and who I have this amazing opportunity to submit to. And the voice says:

YOU MUST SUBMIT IT NOW!! 

Voice absolutely hates the idea of letting too much time go by. It thinks that the agents and editors will wonder… what took so darn long???

And while you may get different opinions from different people, the logical side of my brain knows that Voice is simply wrong. They knew I had revisions to do, and I’m talking an extra month or two, not years.

Agents and editors, of all people, KNOW how long revisions can take. All the ones I spoke to, not only understood, but respected writers for taking the time to do revisions correctly and present the absolute BEST manuscript possible.

Now, don’t get me wrong, deadlines are important, and being realistic is important. In this case, there is no “deadline”. But still, I don’t want the agents and editors who were open to seeing my work to wait an entire year to see it. Largely because the chances of them still remembering who I am drop pretty dramatically. And if at all possible, I definitely want that little light to go on.

But revisions often lead to more revisions, and I think it’s important to ride that train until it naturally evens out and becomes the story that it’s meant to be.

So whenever making a major revision, keep in mind that you may end up producing more necessary changes than you expect. And don’t be afraid to change things that may cause large re-writes or entire character redevelopment.

After every major revision, I remind myself that I need to take the time to do what I call domino revisions

How did my revision affect the arc and rhythm of the story? Is there too little or too much action at any particular point now? Does a chapter break or mini climax need to be altered?

How did it affect the characters? Experiences shape our interpretation of everything around us. If a character’s experience changed at in my revision, their reactions to things later on may need to change as well.

Did my revision involve the scene, timeline, family dynamics… anything where I need to check for congruence throughout the rest of the manuscript.

The list goes on.

Manuscripts develop like the people created on their pages. Growing up can take much longer than we’d like, and the stage before we become adults can be the most frustrating part.

Who hasn’t met a teenager who makes dramatic changes? It’s not easy. But whether they stick with those changes or not, they are often a big part of what shapes them as an adult.

Our manuscripts need a lot of patience, as they are becoming the living beings they are meant to be. But you know what…. they’re worth it!

Thank you Erika for another great article to help all of us improve our skills.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: Advice, article, authors and illustrators, Process, revisions, Writing Tips Tagged: Erika Wassell, Jersey Farm Scribe, Revision Tips

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10. Nazi(-era) Krimis

       A pretty good idea for an anthology: Nazi-era crime fiction -- Krimis, as they're called in German. A French anthology, presented and translated by Vincent Platini, came out a few months ago: Krimi. Une anthologie du récit policier sous le Troisième Reich; see the Anacharsis publicity page, or get your copy at Amazon.fr.
       There are also (French) interviews with Platini at BibliObs -- where he notes there were no grand Nazi-heroes in these works: "Il n'y a pas eu de Supernazi" -- and Le Figaro. And John J. Gaynard's Books weblog has a(n English) overview, which helpfully lists the anthologized pieces.
       Like Soviet crime fiction, Nazi-era (1933-1945) stuff is woefully overlooked; an English-language anthology would surely be of some inetrest, no ?

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11. The Giant Squid, its first photographer & a writer's obsession


Preparing the Ghost by Matthew Gavin Frank is without a doubt one of the more unusual books I have read in a long time. Described as "an essay concerning the giant squid and it's first photographer" it is, in my mind, first and foremost a writer's book. (Not that the natural history isn't fascinating.) It's about a writer (Frank) obsessed with a Victorian era naturalist and photographer (Harvey Moses) who was obsessed with the Giant Squid which he famously photographed in Newfoundland in 1874. There is also much here about humanity's obsession with the Giant Squid and the vast amount of mythology, literature and more that has developed around this still mysterious creature.

One of the most successful aspects of Preparing the Ghost is Frank's authorial voice--he is a key component to this surprisingly personal story and as much as it is about the life of a man in Newfoundland from more than a century ago, it is also, deeply, about Matthew Gavin Frank. On more than one occasion he veers into his own past trying to mine it perhaps for reasons why he has succumbed to this obsession. Standing in front of Moses's home, (privately owned) knocking on the door yet again and hoping for a glimpse of the bathroom where the squid was draped and photographed, Frank can't explain why he is very desperate to get inside. He keeps knocking, he keeps returning, he keeps hoping for a glimpse of where history was made and he knows enough to know that this stubborn persistence is part of the story he is telling and, written well, it is as compelling as every other aspect of the tale.

Preparing the Ghost reminded me a bit of Geoff Dyer's Out of Sheer Rage: Wrestling with D.H. Lawrence. Very famously, that book is about not writing a book about D.H. Lawrence and in some significant ways Preparing the Ghost is about not writing a book about the Giant Squid. Just as Dyer does write somewhat about Lawrence, so does Frank write about the squid. But there is also much more here about Newfoundland and houses and marriage and family and leaving home and traveling far and fishing and telling stories and lying while taking stories, (like confusion over who the fishermen were who caught the squid), and, of course, it is about how something like a squid could spawn stories that grew into myths and even now, has sparked a book about all of that.

I enjoyed the hell out of this book due in no small matter, I'm sure, to the fact that I've long been fascinated by the Giant Squid. I loved how Frank wrote around and about his subject and thoroughly enjoyed his appreciation of history. It's an odd little book in some respects--the narrative truly jumps all over the place--but Dyer's book is odd as well and what lifts both of these titles is the enormous curiosity and smarts of the authors. They are candid about their obsessions and frustrations and persevered to create something unique to literature. I learned a lot about the Giant Squid while reading Preparing the Ghost but even more so, I learned about writing. Highly recommended.

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12. Sleep Tight, Anna Banana! by Dominique Roques, illustrated by Alexis Dormal

Sleep Tight, Anna Banana! by Dominique Roques illustrated by Alexis Dormal marks the debut picture book from the premier publisher of graphic novels for readers of all ages, FirstSecond and it is a gem! Both the wry storytelling and the energetic illustrations call to mind one of my favorite picture book author and illustrators, Jules Feiffer, who has written his own bedtime story, which has

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13. RANDOM by Tom Leveen {Review}

"Review My Books" Review by Krista Random by Tom Leveen Hardcover, 224 pages Expected publication: August 12th 2014 Simon Pulse Goodreads | Amazon Who's the real victim here? This tense and gripping exploration of cyberbullying and teen suicide is perfect for fans of Before I Fall and Thirteen Reasons Why. Late at night Tori receives a random phone call. It's a wrong number. But the caller

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14. SEA Write Award shortlist

       The 2014 SEA Write Award is for short-stories (prized genres are rotated, year by year), and they've announced the Thai shortlist: as Kaona Pongpipat reports in the Bangkok Post, SEA Write short stories selected.
       Recall that at Asymptote Mui Poopoksakul recently surveyed (a sliver) of the Thai short story scene -- and one of the discussed titles is Uthis Haemamool's shortlisted one, its title translated as 'Base, Basic' by Poopoksakul, and 'Commonly Vicious' by the Bangkok Post.
       Of course, whether any of this makes it into English is ... well, more a closed than open question ..... Read the rest of this post

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15. All the Birds, Singing

Evie’s Wyld’s brooding novel, All the Birds, Singing is hard to let go of. A damp menace clings to the story from the very first line and draws the reader in as the main character Jake Whyte attempts to discover who or what is mutilating her sheep. At the same time we are sucked backwards to the Australian outback, to uncover Jake’s past and understand why she is living on an isolated British island – her only companion: a dog named Dog.

All the birds singingWyld’s book recently won the Miles Franklin award, beating Tim Winton’s Eyrie, Richard Flanagan’s The Narrow Road to the Deep North, and others, with its evocative prose. “Spare, but pitch perfect,” was how the judging panel described Wyld’s writing – “visceral and powerfully measured in tone.” But it’s the structure of All the Birds, Singing that also has me intrigued.

Wyld uses alternating chapters to move the story forwards on the windswept farm and backwards through the outback. The tense of the writing also alternates, with Wyld using the present tense for the flashbacks and the past tense for the rest of the story. The book leaves great gaps in the narrative, but compels the reader to find the source of Jake’s damaged emotional and physical state as well as the identity of the sheep killer.

Wyld apparently had intended to keep the narrative simple when she started this story, but found barriers were thrown up by her choice of writing in first person. She had to find a way to solve them. After writing 50,000 words she decided that reversing the chronology of Jake’s past was a better was of telling the story.

“I was quite reluctant to do it,” she says in an interview with the BBC. “It ended up being a maths problem. I had to make endless charts and work out where I was. I did confuse myself a lot, writing it.”

Wyld builds tension with the flashbacks that take us deeper into Jake’s past, and ultimately to the decision that changed everything. We are fed uncensored snapshots of an ugly side of Australia – in outback towns, on a fly-blown sheep property and above a greasy take-away shop, meeting a cast of troubled characters along the way. These scenes are contrasted with the boggy sheep farm where Jake has gone to escape her past. But even here she’s haunted by some kind of beast.

A maths problem has never been so darkly engaging.

Feel free to visit my website or you can follow me on Twitter and Facebook.

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16. SCHOOL'S OUT! Or is it . . . ? by Anna Wilson

In January I wrote about the joys of giving children notebooks and letting them run riot with their story ideas. Since then I have met many teachers and parents who have done just this. They have told me how wonderful it is to see this space being used. The freedom to write or draw whatever the child wants has fed into stories she or he has often then gone on to polish in class in structured writing time. (This has not, of course, always been a direct result of my post – many teachers and parents were already giving their children the chance to explore their writing in this way.)

I would not be blogging about this again, were it not for something I witnessed on a long train journey last week; something which had me thinking again about how constraining we can be in our approach to our children’s education and the damage that can be done when pleasure is forsaken in favour of ticking boxes and getting things ‘right’. And, perhaps more importantly, when this approach leaks into home life.

A mum got on the train with her two small daughters, whom I guessed to be about five and six, and her son, who, I thought, looked about eight. They settled into their seats and the mother brought out some pens and pencils, paper and notebooks.

The little girls immediately clamoured, ‘I want my notebook!’ ‘I am going to write you a story!’

How lovely! I thought. What a great way to spend a few hours on the train.

‘Yes,’ said the mother. ‘You each have twenty minutes to write a beautiful story, and then I will read it and check it. Now – remember I want to see “wow” words, good punctuation, proper spelling, neat handwriting and lots of interesting verbs and adjectives—’

The boy groaned loudly (or was it me?) and put his head in his hands. ‘I don’t WANT to write a story!’ he complained. ‘I don’t like writing stories and I am no good at them.’

His mother placated him with promises of chocolate biscuits if he would only ‘be good like the girls and write for twenty minutes without making a fuss’. His sisters were indeed already scribbling away and reading aloud what they had written, eager to share it with their mother. She praised them and told them to keep going for the full twenty minutes.

What is it with this twenty minutes thing? I thought. Maybe she is desperate for a bit of peace and quiet. Don’t judge! You were in this situation not so long ago yourself: long train journeys with young children are tiresome and they have to have things to do otherwise you go crazy and so do they.

The boy then handed over his story. His mother, glancing at it, said, ‘Well, that’s not very interesting, is it? You haven’t used good connectives, there are no “wow” words, your handwriting is messy and you just haven’t made an effort.’

Pretty harsh, I thought.

Then came the killer blow.

‘You really have got to start making an effort with your writing, you know,’ the mother went on. ‘Next year you will have to write for twenty minutes and put all these things into your stories. You have been on holiday for a week already and you have done no writing. You must promise you’ll concentrate on this for another twenty minutes, or you will be no good at this next year.’

I must confess that, at the time, I wanted to lean across and engage the boy in conversation. I wanted to ask him if he liked reading and, if so, what kind of stories did he like best? What about his favourite films? I wanted to get him chatting about his likes and dislikes and encourage him to scribble them down, to use this precious ‘writing time’ as a chance to let his brain go wild. I wanted to tell him that it was OK to do that, and that afterwards he could go back over his story and concentrate on the connectives and the punctuation and the neat handwriting. I wanted to say that all those things his mother was talking about were indeed important, but that perhaps the reason he hated writing so much was that he was struggling with remembering the rules; that if he could forget the rules to start with, he would then perhaps find he loved writing stories, and that he had piles and piles of them to tell. I might perhaps have added that, as a published writer, I would be paralysed if I had to write a clean first draft from the off which obeyed all the rules of Standard English . . . 

Of course I didn’t. I did not want to upset his mother – after all, it was none of my business. In any case, on reflection, it was not her behaviour with her children that upset me the most, rather the fact that she clearly felt anxious that her son was not up to scratch with his English. Indeed, she was so anxious that he improve that she was insisting he work on it over the summer holidays, and work on it in the exact same way he is required to at school. She was armed to the hilt with educational jargon and was turning this terrifying arsenal on her weary son.

I was an editor before I was fortunate enough to develop my career as a writer. I know as well as anyone the importance of good grammar and correct punctuation. I appreciate clean, clear writing and a well-structured plot. I know good dialogue when I see it. My own children will roll their eyes and tell you that I am the first person to howl at the misuse of the apostrophe on a street sign or restaurant menu. Of course I can see why we have to teach these things and why parents should care about their children’s level of competence in English.

However, it makes me extremely upset that an obsession with such technicalities has the potential to wreck a child’s love of their own language. When you are as young as that little lad, creative writing should be fun, shouldn’t it? Leaving aside the dubious value in making your child work over the summer holidays in such a joyless way, I found it heartbreaking that the mother seemed not to see the potential for fun in giving her son a notebook and letting him run riot with his imagination before giving him guidance and advice on how to hone his ideas. Even more heartbreaking, though, was the thought of how anxious the woman seemed to feel about her son attaining certain targets in the academic year to come. She cannot be alone in feeling this.

I only hope that, come September, her son will find himself fortunate to have one of the many inspirational teachers we have in this country who are still in love enough with their subject to occasionally throw out the rulebook and teach from the heart instead.


www.annawilson.co.uk

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17. #623: growling riflebird

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18. Dreaming in Chicano. Writer Resource.

On this side of the curtain

Michael Sedano

For the past three weeks my home has been a hospital bed in a room shut off by a blue-green curtain from the other rooms in the surgical ward. All day and through the night noises, sounds, voices penetrate and illuminate my imagination. Who’s flirting with the nurses? Why the sudden silence? Did the helicopter that landed earlier bring in the new admit?

Somewhere out there, a family gathers in one of the rooms. Laughter and desultory chatter begins to separate into meaningfulness. Someone’s daughter is going to start college to become a teacher. Someone’s daughter is starting second grade next month. A palm slaps a thigh and voices explode with laughter.

In a few moments, a quiet melody rises and silences the chatter. Paired voices softly singing. The voices carry the natural harmony of brothers speaking in the same voice yet their own. They sing “Las mañanitas” with a practiced lilt that has developed over years of serenades for an abuelo or a mother’s birthday. Tonight the voices blend with notes of sad farewell and bound together with love reserved for an elder.

Estas son las mañanitas, que cantaba el Rey David,
Hoy por ser día de tu santo, te las cantamos a tí,
Despierta, mi bien, despierta, mira que ya amaneció,
Ya los pajarillos cantan, la luna ya se metió.

I can see them sharing a chair, arms around each other, neither vying for the lead but flowing sweetly from el mero Corazon. This is what familia sounds like. This is what love sounds like.

Que linda está la mañana en que vengo a saludarte, 
Venimos todos con gusto y placer a felicitarte, 
El día en que tu naciste nacieron todas las flores
En la pila del bautismo, cantaron los ruiseñores 
Ya viene amaneciendo, ya la luz del día nos dio, 
Levántate de mañana, mira que ya amaneció.

When the lyric ends they segue easily into English, the soft even vowels of Spanish giving the words a special tenderness that reflects this familia’s straddling of two worlds.

Happy birthday to you , Happy birthday to you, appy birthday mi vida, happy birthday to you.

I fall into contented deep sleep. The moment of pure beauty a reminder of many things, foremost the privilege of living in a bicultural world where we sing from our hearts not divided but united in our shared languages.


A Chicano Reporter Gets His Feet Wet

La Bloga friend and journalist extraordinaire, Ron Arias, sends a link to his story relating how a young Chicano writer fumbles to get started. It's Buenos Aires in the 60s and part of a collection--My Life As A Pencil. Red Bird Chapbooks will publish a selection early next year.

From the link:

About that time I also started my first full-time job as a reporter, working at the Buenos Aires Herald, which is where I learned to turn life into stories on a daily basis. But at first it was physically very painful.

Staffed mostly by journalists from the U.K., the Herald was the country's only English-language daily. On one of my first assignments, I hit the ground running, then falling, then running again. I'd been sent to cover a military coup in the streets but because a tank blocked my way and a cloud of tear-gas swept over me, my watery, stinging eyes lost focus and I kept tripping. Military takeovers, I later learned, were then almost a monthly occurrence and usually covered by the youngest legs on staff.

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19. Photos now, commentary later

I’m wiped out. :)

sdccsign

malificent

artistdoesntbite
Chris Gugliotti of Thicklebit fame

jocktrio
Lunch with Jock

harleys

meanboys
Zander and Scott pretending they have a mean bone in their bodies

bravesmile
Entertaining ourselves with selfies while waiting for Stampylongnose to come onstage

stampysmiles
The girls’ turn

meandhuck
Couldn’t leave this guy out

wavingatstampy
He’s finally here!

lastlunch
Whew, time to relax

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20. Review – Life Or Death by Michael Robotham

9780751552898The advanced reading copy bills this as “the best novel yet from Michael Robotham” which is a big call considering his previous nine novels. While I’m not a fan of the Joe O’Loughlin novels that has nothing to do with Robotham’s writing just the fact I don’t like psychological thrillers. But what all Robotham’s books have in common is precision plotting. Robotham knows exactly how to unfurl a story, keeping you interested and guessing in equal measure. My favourite Robothom was Lost (aka The Drowning Man) which demonstrates this perfectly. But I have a new favourite Robotham now because this is beyond doubt the best novel yet from Michael Robotham.

The idea for this novel came to Robotham over twenty years ago, well before he’d written his first book. But Robotham didn’t know if or how he could pull the story off. Nine best-selling novels later he knew how he was going to do it and it was worth the wait.

Audie Palmer has spent the last ten years in prison for an armed robbery that netted 7 million dollars. Money that has never been recovered. Everybody wants to know where the money is; other prisoners, guards and various law enforcement. Audie has survived beatings, stabbings and other assaults and is finally due to be released from prison tomorrow. Except he has just escaped. And so begins an epic thriller. Nobody knows why Audie has escaped but they think it has to do with the money. As Audie’s plan unfolds we learn that there are stronger motivations than money. Motivations that people will kill for, motivations people will live for.

This is far and away the thriller of the year. It will keep you glued to end of your reading chair, it will keep you guessing until the very end and, best of all, it will break your heart.

Buy the book here…

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21. Soaring Eagles

 

Cindy Lord met me on the porch of my campground office at 5am last Friday morning.  After I made a pot of coffee and filled my stainless steel cup with the hot, dark liquid I craved at that time of day, we trekked to the lake to put our kayaks in the lake.

We were in time to witness the dancing mist on the water and the rising sun over the trees.

IMG_4231

I looked for muskrats, herons and wood ducks.  But as is often the case with Cindy and I, it was a loon we saw first.  I can’t remember the last time we were together and we didn’t see one.

A second loon flew overhead a few moments later. We watched as they two of them  greeted each other for a few minutes before swimming off down the lake.

IMG_4287

Cindy and I traveled the same path as the pair, talking, sharing author-ly stories and just plain catching up on life. Every now and then, we’d run into the loons again . . .

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We’d snap a few more photos and chat again until we were rendered speechless by the sight of an adult eagle in the distance.

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At first, he appeared to be sitting in peace.  But the caw of a crow told a different story.

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It didn’t take long to see the eagle was being harassed.  The crow called and buzzed him, until eventually, the poor eagle took flight to escape all the noise and hubbub.

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He landed in another tree, closer to us.  The crow wasn’t giving up that easily though.

IMG_4379

 

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A second crow joined the first in making the eagle’s life as miserable as possible.

All the while, the eagle looked out over the lake regally, appearing to ignore them as best as he could .

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But even the mighty eagle can only take so much.  The crow buzzed the eagle one too many times . . .

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IMG_4429

until the eagle spread his wings and fell off the branch,

IMG_4456

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It was the most beautiful thing to see . . .

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his wings filling with air before lifting up into the sky . . .

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soaring . . .

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over hour heads . . .

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then down along the lake toward the campground.

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Cindy and I smiled at each other, much as I imagined Cooper and Packrat do, before we  pickied up our paddles to follow the eagle home, to the campground.

 

 

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22. Fusenews: Hear the beat, of literary feet.

Hi ho.  Time to round-up what Jules and I have been up to over at our Wild Things blog (book promotion for bloggers means more blogging, you see).  Here’s the long and short of what you may have missed:

Whew!  We’re busy little bees, aren’t we?

  • Tra la!  It’s coming!  The greatest conference of children’s and YA literary bloggers is coming!  And Liz Burns not only has the info but also the reason such an event is cool.  Quoth she: “What I love about KidLitCon is it’s about the bloggers. Full stop. That is the primary purpose and mission of KidLitCon. It’s about what the bloggers care about. Oh, there may be authors and publishers there, presenting, and that can be great and amazing. But it’s not about them. They are there to support the blogging community: they are not there saying, what can the blogging community do for us.”  Amen, sister.  Preach!  By the way, the theme this year is Blogging Diversity in Young Adult and Children’s Lit: What’s Next?  Be there or be square.
  • So there’s a new Children’s Book Review Editor at the New York Times and by some strange quirk of fate her name is NOT alliterative (note Julie Just, Pamela Paul, and Sarah Smith).  Her name?  Maria Russo.  Which pretty much means I’ll be tracking her like a bloodhound at the next Eric Carle Honors event.  Trouble is, we don’t wear nametags at that event so I’ll probably be the crazy lady grabbing all the women, staring intently into their eyes.  Wouldn’t be the first time.

LewisTolkien 300x186 Fusenews: Hear the beat, of literary feet. I blame Saving Mr. Banks.  One little children’s writer biopic comes out where the writer isn’t seen as all kittens and sunshine (I still loathe you Miss Potter and Finding Neverland) and all hell breaks loose.  Now we hear that McG is going to do a Shel Silverstein biopic on the one hand and that there are plans to examine the relationship between C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien on the other.  I’m just counting the minutes until someone tackles Margaret Wise Brown or the whole Anne-Carroll-Moore-didn’t-like-Stuart-Little story (which you just KNOW is in the works somewhere).

  • Speaking of films, when I heard that Alan Snow’s delightful Here Be Monsters was being turned into a film called The Boxtrolls I was incredulous.  That book?  The one I couldn’t get kids to even look at until they made a blue paperback version?  I mean I liked it (it came out in a year when sentient cheese was all the rage in children’s literature) but how long was this film in production for crying out loud?  Doesn’t matter because according to iO9 it’s brilliant.  Good to know.
  • So Phil Nel, our ever intrepid professor with a hankering for children’s literature, went to ComicCon.  Best of all, he’s willing to report his findings to us (so that we don’t have to go!).  Read up on Part 1, Part 2 (my favorite for the cameo of Bananaman), Part 3, and Part 4.  Phil was there promoting his Barnaby books (which he co-edited with Eric Reynolds). These include Barnaby Volume One: 1942-1943 (2013) and Barnaby Volume Two: 1944-1945 (2014).
  • Did I know that Amanda Palmer wrote a song about what she owes to Judy Blume?  I do now.
  • This is what separates the true fangirls from the poseurs.  Thanks to the CBC for the link.
  • Two Little Free Libraries have sprung up near my home across the street from the Harlem branch of NYPL.  I couldn’t be more pleased because they mean just one thing to me . . . a place to give away my books!!!  Culling books is terribly enjoyable.  It’s also part of BookRiot’s incredibly useful post 8 Tips for Moving When You Have a Ton of Books.
  • Daily Image:

Two words. Bookish shoes.  My personal favorites include . . .

Little Prince Shoes Fusenews: Hear the beat, of literary feet.

Sherlock Shoes 500x335 Fusenews: Hear the beat, of literary feet.

Book Spine heels Fusenews: Hear the beat, of literary feet.

Remember, by the way, that my sister told you how to make some of these yourself.  Thanks to Mom for the link.

share save 171 16 Fusenews: Hear the beat, of literary feet.

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23. Photobooth Program

Planning programs that will appeal to 12-14 year olds is really, really hard for me.  This is the age where kids start to get busy, where they start having to balance school and extracurriculars with other things: like library time.  If I’m being totally honest, this is where I start losing them.

So this summer, my amazing staff came up with an incredible program that all of my teens loved–especially that middle school demographic: an in-library photo booth.  If your tweens and teens are anything like mine, they’re glued to their smartphones with Instagram and Snapchat constantly open.  This program just gave them an opportunity to have some fun with their photos. We asked them to tag their pictures with the hashtag we usually use for our library stuff, and then let them loose on these fun props:

S S IMG_0214

It could not have been more fun! It was so simple–we made the props from paper and lollipop sticks, which you can get at any craft store. We didn’t have time to make a booth, so we just put up a crepe paper background. We printed out clip art, used scrapbook paper, and there were even some superhero masks that everyone loved. It was a hit beyond anything we could have imagined, and we’ll definitely be doing this one again (we laminated the props for easy reuse).  The kids loved not only the fact that it was fun, but also the freedom that they had to personalize it and own their pictures the way they wanted to. I’ve been having a lot of success in programs for tweens that aren’t overscheduled, that allow them to enjoy some of the freedom that’s starting to come with their age.

Have you tried anything similar at your library?

*
Our cross-poster from YALSA today is Ally Watkins (@aswatki1). Ally is a youth services librarian in Mississippi, and has worked with ages birth-18 for the last 5 years.

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24. ONLINE SHOP - common kitchen

All this beautiful design was spotted on the Korean website 'Common Kitchen'.  This online store has lots for fans of Scandinavian style to drool over and admire. Common Kitchen have their own line of products and stock items from other brands such as Lisa Jones, Robert Kaufman, Polkka Jam, Rifle, Michael Miller and Birch fabrics. The buyers have a great eye so if you want to see a selection of

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25. Soaring Eagles

 

Cindy Lord met me on the porch of my campground office at 5am last Friday morning.  After I made a pot of coffee and filled my stainless steel cup with the hot, dark liquid I craved at that time of day, we trekked to the lake to put our kayaks in the lake.

We were in time to witness the dancing mist on the water and the rising sun over the trees.

IMG_4231

I looked for muskrats, herons and wood ducks.  But as is often the case with Cindy and I, it was a loon we saw first.  I can’t remember the last time we were together and we didn’t see one.

A second loon flew overhead a few moments later. We watched as they two of them  greeted each other for a few minutes before swimming off down the lake.

IMG_4287

Cindy and I traveled the same path as the pair, talking, sharing author-ly stories and just plain catching up on life.

Until we were rendered speechless by the sight of an adult eagle in the distance.

IMG_4335

At first, he appeared to be sitting in peace.  But the caw of a crow told a different story.

IMG_4353

It didn’t take long to see the eagle was being harassed.  The crow called and buzzed him until eventually, the poor eagle took flight to escape.

IMG_4370

IMG_4373

IMG_4375

He landed in another tree, closer to us.  The crow wasn’t giving up that easily though.

IMG_4379

 

IMG_4377

A second crow joined the first.  The eagle looked out over the lake regally, appearing to ignore them as best as he could .

IMG_4451a

IMG_4425

But even the mighty eagle can only take so much.  The crow buzzed the eagle one too many times . . .

IMG_4382

IMG_4429

until the eagle spread his wings and fell off the branch,

IMG_4456

IMG_4457

It was the most beautiful thing to see . . .

IMG_4458

his wings filling with air and the eagle lifting up to the sky . . .

IMG_4459

soaring . . .

IMG_4460

down along the lake toward the campground.

IMG_4461

 

IMG_4464

IMG_4465

IMG_4468

Cindy and I looked at each other and grinned, before picking up our paddles to follow its path.

 

 

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