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Welcome to the next installment of my Book-Jumper Summer Reading Series! This is my way of inspiring parents who are looking for creative ways to keep their kids reading this summer. All of our protagonists are girls or women and most of our showcased authors are women as well. I will be offering up a combination of themed weeks, great novels, booklist giveaways, and blog post recaps so be sure and stop by to discover more wonderful ways have A Book-jumper Summer while Exploring Our World and Beyond!
This week we’ve been celebrating the planet we live on, Earth. On Earth Day I created a very fun booklist which honors amazing people preserving and restoring areas on our planet as well as others reusing items to accomplish great feats.
Every library should have these inspiring stories from Wangari Mathai who planted an entire forest saving her country, to William Kamkwamba who created a windmill to end a drought in his town, to Isatou Ceesay who started with just one plastic bag. On this list you’ll also find entertaining chapter books with a environmentalist theme to them as well. Each person can contribute something.
One of the more amazing things about this booklist is that we’re giving it away. Have a look below and get inspired.
Wangari Maathai received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2004 for her efforts to lead women in a nonviolent struggle to bring peace and democracy to Africa through its reforestation. Her organization planted over thirty million trees in thirty years. This beautiful picture book tells the story of an amazing woman and an inspiring idea.
A book for young readers. It involves new kids, bullies, alligators, eco-warriors, pancakes, and pint-sized owls. A hilarious Floridian adventure!
One Plastic Bag: Isatou Ceesay and the Recycling Women of the Gambia
Plastic bags are cheap and easy to use. But what happens when a bag breaks or is no longer needed? In Njau, Gambia, people simply dropped the bags and went on their way. One plastic bag became two. Then ten. Then a hundred.
The bags accumulated in ugly heaps alongside roads. Water pooled in them, bringing mosquitoes and disease. Some bags were burned, leaving behind a terrible smell. Some were buried, but they strangled gardens. They killed livestock that tried to eat them. Something had to change.
Isatou Ceesay was that change. She found a way to recycle the bags and transform her community. This inspirational true story shows how one person’s actions really can make a difference in our world.
The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind by William Kamkwamba
When a terrible drought struck William Kamkwamba’s tiny village in Malawi, his family lost all of the season’s crops, leaving them with nothing to eat and nothing to sell. William began to explore science books in his village library, looking for a solution. There, he came up with the idea that would change his family’s life forever: he could build a windmill. Made out of scrap metal and old bicycle parts, William’s windmill brought electricity to his home and helped his family pump the water they needed to farm the land.
Retold for a younger audience, this exciting memoir shows how, even in a desperate situation, one boy’s brilliant idea can light up the world. Complete with photographs, illustrations, and an epilogue that will bring readers up to date on William’s story, this is the perfect edition to read and share with the whole family.
This inspiring book presents the true stories of 12 people from across North America who have done great things for the environment. Heroes include a teenage girl who figured out how to remove an industrial pollutant from the Ohio River, a Mexican superstar wrestler who works to protect turtles and whales, and a teenage boy from Rhode Island who helped his community and his state develop effective e-waste recycling programs. Plenty of photographs and illustrations bring each compelling story vividly to life.
Written mostly in the words of Muir, it brims with his spirit and adventures. The text was selected and retold by naturalist Joseph Cornell, author of Sharing Nature with Children, who is well known for his inspiring nature games. The result is a book with an aliveness, a presence of goodness, adventure, enthusiasm, and sensitive love of each animal and plant that will give young adults an experience of a true champion of nature. It is a book that expands your sense of hope, adventure, and awareness. Adults will be just as fond of this book as young readers. Cornell includes numerous explore more activities that help the reader to understand and appreciate the many wonderful qualities of Muir.
This “vividly imagined and well-written novel” (Booklist, starred review) tells a gripping story about a boy from Scotland and a girl from West Africa who join together to save a migrating Osprey—and end up saving each other.
When Callum spots crazy Iona McNair on his family’s sprawling property, she’s catching a fish with her bare hands. She won’t share the fish, but does share something else: a secret. She’s discovered a rare endangered bird, an Osprey, and it’s clear to both her and Callum that if anyone finds out about the bird, it, and its species, is likely doomed. Poachers, egg thieves, and wild weather are just some of the threats, so Iona and Callum vow to keep track of the bird and check her migratory progress using the code a preservationist tagged on her ankle, no matter what.
But when one of them can no longer keep the promise, it’s up to the other to do it for them both. No matter what. Set against the dramatic landscapes of Scotland and West Africa, this is a story of unlikely friendships, the wonders of the wild—and the everyday leaps of faith that set our souls to flight.
ONE winner will receive one copy of each of the books above. Giveaway begins July 1,2015
Prizing & samples courtesy of Authors of the above books
Giveaway open to US addresses only
ONE lucky winner will win one copy of each of the above books.
Residents of USA only please.
Must be 18 years or older to enter
One entry per household.
Staff and family members of Audrey Press are not eligible.
Grand Prize winner has 48 hours to claim prize
Winner will be chosen via Rafflecopter on July 13th, 2015
Open Road Films has unleashed the first teaser for the Snowden biopic. Actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt stars as the infamous whistleblower Edward Snowden.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, the script was based on two books: a nonfiction title called The Snowden Files by journalist Luke Harding and a novel called Time of the Octopus by lawyer Anatoly Kucherena (Snowden’s Russian attorney). This movie will hit theaters on December 25th. (via Deadline.com)
A couple weeks ago I created a Query Writing Checklist, and it flew off the virtual shelves!
Then, while on a road trip (I do my best thinking while driving), I was like—Duh, Linda! Now writers will need a checklist to use when they’re working on a writing assignment! (You know, the assignment they got using the query checklist.)
Whether you’re writing for a magazine, a website, or a paying blog—there’s so much to think about and remember when you’re working on an assignment:
Did I get a contract…and did I sign it and send it back?
What are the payment terms?
What was it the client wanted from me, again? Did she want a sidebar?
Who am I interviewing?
Oh man, what was that source’s email address?
Did I include a source list with my assignment?
When did I follow up with the interviewee?
Did I remember to proof the article?
Is each fact in the article backed up by an outside source?
Did I write a compelling lede? A great kicker?
Did I remember to thank the client?
So I did it…I created a fillable PDF Writing Assignment Checklist that covers:
Stage 1: Assignment Details
Stage 2: Sources & Research
Stage 3: Proofing the Article
Stage 4: Turning in the Assignment & Onward
Wherever possible, I also included links to websites and blog posts that will deepen your understanding of that particular element—from finding expert sources to creating a source list to writing an amazing kicker.
The Writing Assignment Checklist is a fillable checklist, meaning you can fill in the blanks and check off action items right on your computer.
Download the checklist and create a duplicate copy for each query idea…you can use the Writing Assignment Checklist over and over!
And even better—you can get this helpful checklist for just $1.49. I know…super cheap, right?
If you’d like a copy of a checklist that will help you track assignments and turn out great articles (and blog posts, and case studies…)–here’s where you can get it.
(And if you missed the Query Tracker Worksheet, that’s here!)
P.S. If you get the checklist, please download it to your hard drive and make duplicates before you start filling it out. That way you’ll have enough checklists for all your pitches, and will be able to save and print them. (Do not open and fill out the PDF in your browser or you will not be able to save and print!)
P.P.S. Did you know Carol Tice’s and my new e-course Escape the Content Mills is on sale this week? Sale ends Sunday…check it out here!
Hello and Happy July 1st! Oh my gosh, the weather so far in NY has been delish! Let's hope it stays like this throughout July and August.
This month over at WLTI, we decided to create some fun recipes for the TDAC website. I chose one that my hubby introduced to me that is from the Eleven Madison Park restaurant in the city, the Eleven Madison Park Pistachio, Coconut & Cherry Granola. Doesn't the name alone sound amazing!? Anyway, I like granola, but this recipe takes it to a whole new level -- we can't seem to get enough of it lately. Enjoy!
Please click on the illustrated recipe to enlarge
Here's picture of the most recent batch that we made. The recipe it says to bake it for 30 - 40 minutes, we like it pretty toasty so we usually leave it in for the full 40.
I hope you’ve had a lovely June. As you’re reading this, I’ll be on a cruise ship, floating around Alaska, celebrating my twentieth anniversary (today!) and soaking up the scenery while reading this book. I imagine my children, who are with my parents, are eating entirely too much ice cream and spending loads of time at the pool.
This is another month of busyness around here — there’s a quick jaunt to Zion National Park, the Grand Canyon, and Phoenix (we won’t melt…there will be a lazy river involved). I’m still hard at work on first-round edits of my Klondike Gold Rush book (hence the novel I took on the cruise). And my first picture book launches mid month, the same day as another little book you might have heard of.
Those of you who live in Albuquerque, I hope you might consider joining me for one of two Over in the Wetlands events! There will be games, coloring pages, gator cookies, and reading, of course. On July 30 I’ll be at Cherry Hills Library (6901 Barstow St NE, Albuquerque, NM 87111) for the 10:30 story time. Page One Books will provide copies to purchase, and the library will have copies available for check out.
On August 22 at 10:30, I’ll do it all again, this time at Bookworks (4022 Rio Grande Boulevard Northwest, Albuquerque, NM 87107). Same stories, same coloring pages. If there are gator cookies left over, I’ll be sure to stick them in my freezer and bring them by!
Finally, in celebration of Over in the Wetlands and as a thank you to my readers, I’ll be giving three personalized, signed copies of the book away through my newsletter toward the end of the month. This is a 3-4 time a year publication delivered directly to your inbox, where you can get the inside scoop on new books, what I’m reading, and a few other details I don’t include on the blog. I’d love if you’d consider signing up. Simply click through to do so.
This is a mega-review of vol. 1-13 (aka, the ones that are currently available in English)
The Library Freedom Act Libraries have the freedom to acquire their collections. Libraries have the freedom to circulate materials in their collections. Libraries guarantee the privacy of their patrons. Libraries oppose any type of censorship. When libraries are imperiled, librarians will join together to secure their freedom.
In the not-to-distant future, Japan passes the "Media Betterment Act" which censors objectionable material. Librarians are against censorship and will fight to keep their collections free and available. Literally fight. Like, they made an army. To fight against the federal censors(and their army).
AND YOU WONDER WHY I LOVE THIS?!
I devoured this series. Like, read all of them in a week, often staying up way past bedtime because I COULD NOT PUT IT DOWN. I love the overall concept. Plus, not only is about people fighting to protect access to materials (with their literal lives!), but it's a shoju manga, so SO MUCH SEXUAL TENSION.
Our main character, Iku Kasahara wants to join the Library Defense Force to be like her "prince"-- a member who saved a book she wanted to buy from censorship. She has passion, but not a lot of skill and is driven hard by her Sargent Dojo (who, um, OBVIOUSLY is her "prince.") She eventually becomes the first woman on a super elite squad that has to both be an army fighter, but also an actual librarian. But, over the run of the series, this is far from the only relationship we see (I won't say my favorite, because it develops pretty late and is a bit of a spoiler.)
I love the politics and maneuvering the library forces do. I like the plotline where Kasahara's parents don't know what she does because she knows they won't approve. I love love love Kasahara's roommate, Asako Shibazaki. She's very beautiful and a bit aloof and a lot of people read her as shallow, but she has a lot going on beneath the surface. She's a librarian with some serious hidden talents. I love the way her character develops. (In fact, she might be my favorite character.)
I like that there are cultural end notes to explain things, and several bonus mangas at the end of most volumes to fill in some quiet moments.
The over-the-top melodrama of some of the relationship stuff gets old, but I'm starting to recognize that it's standard for a lot of shoju manga.
Overall though, I LOVE THIS SERIES and am trying to force all my coworkers to read it. (LIBRARIES BUILT AN ARMY TO PROTECT FREEDOM OF ACCESS FROM GOVERNMENT CENSORS. DUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUDE.)
If I understand Wikipedia correctly, there are 15 total volumes in this series. 13 are out in English now, and the 14th comes out in October. Based on past publication schedules, I'm guessing the 15th will be out next April. My one regret? This is based on a novel series and the source material doesn't seem to be available in English.
Books Provided by... my local library
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The book explores the history of the gay rights movement in the U.S. through the work of Associated Press reporters and photographers. Check it out:
The United States has become a more colorful nation. The push to legalize gay marriage has grown out of a drastic shift in the country’s acceptance of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. From Stonewall to the Supreme Court, the struggle for equality has had many hurdles to overcome and many heroes to lead the way. Discover how far the gay community has come in its fight.
Loudspeakers- कुछ ही देर पहले मेरी सहेली मणि का फोन आया. अरे !! आवाज ही नही पहचानी गई.. मैने पूछा क्या हुआ… पर आवाज ही नही निकल रही थी कल तक तो ठीक थी एक ही दिन में …. !!! मैं तुरंत उसके घर गई. उसकी तो आवाज बिल्कुल ही बंद थी.
मैने गुस्से मे कहा कि कितनी बार मना किया है बर्फ मत खाया कर … उसने मायूस सा होते हुए इशारे से बताया कि नही खाई. फिर मैने पूछा खट्टी चटनी ?? उसने फिर न की मुद्रा मे गर्दन हिला दी !! अरे तो फिर हुआ क्या? उसने लिख कर बताया कि कल किसी समारोह मे गए थे वहां डीजे पर गाने बहुत तेज आवाज मे बज रहे थे. वहां बहुत जानकार भी मिले और उनसे बात भी करनी थी इसलिए महा भयंकर शोर मे कान के पास चिल्ला चिल्ला कर बोलना पडा इसलिए गला बैठ गया.
ओह ..नो !! इस पर उसने लिखा अरे तू क्यो लिख रही है मेरे कान तो ठीक है … ह हा हा !! मैने कहा ये भी एक बडा चिंता का विषय है. कान फूडू संगीत भी आज कल स्टेटस सिंबल बन गया है. कुछ दिन पहले मै भी एक प्रोग्राम मे गई वहां भी बहुत तेज संगीत बज रहा था इस पर जब मालिक से बोला कि क्या संगीत की ध्वनि धीमे हो सकती है इस पर वो बोले अजी आप कमाल करती हैं इतने पैसे खर्च किए हैं डीजे के लिए… आवाज कम नही होगी..
और पूरे कार्यक्रम में हम इशारों मे ही बात करते रहे… या फिर वटस अप पर मैसेज भेज कर बाते करते रहे. मेरी सहेली ने जब अपना मोबाईल देखा तो बीस मिस्ड काल थी उसके पति बाहर बुलाने के लिए कर रहे थे… पर सुनाई ही नही दिया…मैने सलाह दी कि ऐसे मे वाईब्रेशन पर लगा देना चाहिए और मोबाईल हाथ में पकडे रहना चाहिए.
वैसे वो भी अच्छा अनुभव था. मूड खराब करने का कोई फायदा नही क्योकि लोग नही सुधरेंगें पर हम नई नई भाषा जरुर सीख जाएगे.
Be kind to your ears, listen quietly
Give it a try, turn the volume down a little, and once you get used to listening quietly, turn it down a little more. Granted, quiet listening works best in quiet places; in noisy environments stick with in-ear, closed-back, or noise-canceling headphones. Avoid ear buds and open-back headphones, they don’t hush external noise so you have to play music a lot louder than you might realize.
If you do the bulk of your listening in noisy places, continuing with ear buds (the type that come with phones) may eventually lead to hearing loss from continued exposure over a long period of time to excessively loud sound. I covered how ear buds, in-ear, and closed- and open-back headphones work and how they differ on previous blogs.
If you have to listen in noisy places or while commuting, consider buying in-ear or closed-back full-size headphones to seal out noise. When you reduce the background noise level competing with the music, you can turn the music’s volume way down, and the difference can be very significant. Even inexpensive closed-back or in-ear headphones will help you listen more quietly.
I find with the better-sounding in-ear and closed-back headphones I can listen at a much lower volume and still not feel like I’m losing detail or the music’s energy. Quiet listening draws me in more, so I listen more attentively. Once you get used to listening quietly it will become the new norm, and your ears will suffer less listening fatigue.
Noise-canceling headphones block more noise than any other type of headphone, so you can turn the music down even more, but most noise-canceling models don’t sound as good playing music as equivalently priced closed-back headphones. See more…
Fireworks will light up the sky this 4th of July and so will the pole-vaulters at the 6th Annual River Vault competition in La Crosse, Wis. Thousands of spectators are expected to watch some 65 athletes from all over the … Continue reading →
Dan Santat is one of the hardest-working people in publishing. This is widely known among his followers on Twitter and Facebook, who often see him burning the midnight oil, and the editors and art directors at the several publishing houses with which he’s worked.
This is obvious in the number of books that bear his dynamic illustrations, in everything from picture books and chapter books to graphic novels. This is undeniable, because last year he created over five hundred pages of four-color illustrations.
This is unheard of.
But what Dan does isn’t just hard work. It takes a lot of guts too, a blind leap of faith that gave him the drive to sleep for only four hours a night for ten years, so that he could, time and again, turn in consistently great work — all while raising two young sons, Alek and Kyle, with his wife Leah, and taking care of a menagerie of pets.
Like Beekle, Dan Santat has been on a journey.
He was born in Brooklyn in 1975 to Adam and Nancy Santat, a Thai couple who immigrated to the United States in 1968. When he turned three, his parents moved the family to California, where they both eagerly awaited the day their only child would become a doctor.
When Dan graduated from the University of California, San Diego in microbiology, he found himself pulled by a calling that he’d had for many years but had never acted on. Rather than going on to dental school, he instead enrolled at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena. There he saw something familiar — other students just like him who dreamed of a life filled with art. This is also where he met one of his closest friends, illustrator Peter Brown.
He then sailed through unknown waters and took on many different jobs, from texture artist and 3D modeler to concept art designer for video games, until he reached the children’s book world. In 2002, he met Scholastic editor Arthur Levine at a Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators conference, which led to his first book, The Guild of Geniuses. Aside from developing a Disney animated television series, The Replacements, it was all books from there on.
Children’s book publishing is a strange place. The process is slow. It takes a lot of work. And most people don’t get paid very much.
In 2010, Dan was offered what most people would call a dream job. Google approached him, wanting him to become one of their Google Doodlers. Taking that job meant financial stability for his family. It would prove art school wasn’t a mistake. It would change his life.
He turned the job down.
It was not an easy decision, but he loved creating children’s books, and deep down, he knew he would look back and wonder “What if?” He also thought about the example he was setting for his sons and how he wanted them to also follow their dreams no matter how difficult. Determined to have no regrets, Dan became a work machine.
He took on as many projects as he could, always pushing himself to make the next book better. He woke up every morning at 6:30 to help his boys get to school and worked until 2 a.m. He illustrated over sixty books, and in 2014 alone, he had thirteen books published that featured his art. He drank so much coffee that he began roasting his own beans, even creating his own brand he called “Surly Asian Guy,” which he shared with friends, family, and colleagues. The coffee is bold, strong, and a touch bitter, but still quite pleasing — a little like Dan himself.
This grueling routine went on for years, and Dan assumed he could do it for more, but 2014 was rough. Family health emergencies led to hospitalizations, and multiple deadlines for big books left him with as few as twelve hours of sleep in an entire week. He was exhausted, and on his birthday last October he shared the following in a blog post: “I want and expect far too much than what I may be capable of. I’m thirty-nine and I feel tired.”
A few weeks later, The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend began to appear on year-end “best of ” lists. Minh Le at The Huffington Post blog named it the Best Overall picture book of the year, and in his review he wrote, “As with all great books, Beekle has an air of inevitability about it. As if somewhere out there is an island of perfect stories just waiting for the right person to come along and imagine it into being.”
Up until then, Dan was known for his action-packed illustrations, full of humor and high energy, as seen in books such as Oh No!: Or How My Science Project Destroyed the World, The Three Ninja Pigs, and Chicken Dance. Beekle’sstory reflected his softer side and was inspired by Dan’s first child, his son Alek. Like Beekle imagining his real friend, Dan had wondered, before Alek’s birth, what his child would look and be like. A few years later, on Alek’s first day of school, Dan eased his son’s worries about making friends. “All it takes is one,” he’d said, just as when Alice finally meets Beekle and his friendship opens up for her the possibility for more.
The name “Beekle” itself comes from Alek’s first word, an early attempt at “bicycle.” There’s a video of one-year-old Alek pedaling a tricycle at Christmas, cheerfully exclaiming, “Beekle!” At the time, Dan’s wife Leah said the name would make a great picture book character. Years later, “Beekle” became an unimaginary friend.
The book began as a very short script, a few black-and-white sketches, and one full-color sample. Beekle had one eye, a hat and scarf, and a story that hinted at journey and adventure. Since he’d written only one picture-book text, and that over ten years earlier, writing did not come quickly to Dan. He took an ambitious approach at first. At one point, the story was a metaphor for the creative process, a tale of how
an author and illustrator come together on a picture book. But then he took a step back and adhered to the old adage of “speaking from the heart.” The minute you meet Dan you can tell he’s a captivating storyteller and speaker, and he soon realized that all he had to do was take those words out of his mouth and put them onto paper.
Throughout the process, Beekle and his story changed. Dan believes that in character design, every single element must serve a purpose. So Beekle got two eyes, because there was no reason for him to have just one. Beekle became even more amorphous, an ambiguous blob, because he was meant to be dreamed up by a shy young girl who thought she didn’t deserve any imaginary friend, much less an awesome one. Like a white sheet of paper, Beekle represented possibility and imagination.
He was also bestowed with a crown; while Beekle was simple and indistinct, he was always a king in Alice’s mind. He got one of the cutest butts in picture books, because creative director Dave Caplan would exclaim, “Look at that tuchus!” every time he saw it, and Dan, ever a professional with publishers, aimed to please.
While Dan took out some of the layers of the story, he added much to the overall design and illustration. The endpapers feature various children with their imaginary friends, each one specifically paired with the child’s interests. In the front endpapers Beekle stands alone, and in the back, there he is with Alice. The case cover reveals a cruder Beekle, as though he were hand-drawn by a child — in this case, we imagine it was done by Alice. On the front cover and in the book we see that while adults never pay attention to Beekle, animals do. The colors embark on a journey too, from the psychedelic rainbow palette of the imaginary world to the dark grays and blues of the real world. As the sun sets, Beekle sits perched atop a bare tree waiting for his friend, the sepia tones in the background matching his melancholy, and when he meets Alice at last, the world blooms with bright color.
Though the story itself took a step away from being about the creative process, the message is still there, on the pages where Alice shares her drawings with Beekle — each one echoing the previous pages in the story. So he got that in there after all. Touché, Dan.
The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend is the culmination of hard work and hard-earned experience. With this book Dan felt he had finally reached his destination, which is why, for the first time in his career, he allowed himself a little hope. He thought that if all the stars were aligned, he might be in the running for a Caldecott Honor. That was all he could imagine.
When his cover appeared on that last Caldecott slide at the ALA Youth Media Awards, cheers erupted, and everyone, from the publishers he’s worked with to the large and loving community of authors and illustrators who’ve had his back for years, knew.
Dan Santat had done the unimaginable.
Dan Santat is the winner of the 2015 Caldecott Medal for The Adventures of Beekle: An Unimaginary Friend (Little, Brown). From the July/August 2015 issue of The Horn Book Magazine. For more speeches, profiles, and articles click the tag ala 2015.
Today we welcome Julia Durango to YABC! Julia's new book, The Leveller, is a fast-paced story that launches readers and characters into a vitural-reality gaming world! We can't wait to read it! But until then, Julia is sharing a little bit about her, the book, and the top five reasons why she loves video games.
When Julia Durango is not daydreaming or thinking up new stories, she’s probably eating french fries and dancing like no one’s watching (and really hoping no one is).
Gamers and action fans of all types will dive straight into the MEEP, a virtual-reality gaming world, thanks to Julia Durango's cinematic storytelling. A touch of romance, constant twists, and a vivid, multidimensional journey through a tricked-out virtual city will keep readers flying through to the breathtaking end.
Nixy Bauer is used to her classmates being very, very unhappy to see her. After all, she's a bounty hunter in a virtual-reality gaming world—and she's frequently hired by irritated parents to pull kids out of the mazelike MEEP universe.
But when the game's billionaire developer loses track of his own son in the MEEP, Nixy is in for the biggest challenge of her bounty-hunting career. Wyn Salvador isn't some lazy kid looking to escape his homework: Wyn does not want to be found. And he's left behind a suicide note. Nixy takes the job but quickly discovers that Wyn's not hiding—he's being held inside the game against his will. But who is holding him captive, and why?
Nixy and Wyn attempt to fight their way out of a mind game unlike any they've encountered, and the battle brings them closer than either could have imagined. But when the whole world is virtual, how can Nixy possibly know if her feelings are real?
Knowing all of that, it's clear that Julia loves video games. So here are her top five reasons as to why she loves them so much!
1.) Interactive storytelling
Remember those Choose Your Own Adventure books? Maybe not, but they were the bomb back when I was a young reader. I loved being able to participate in a story and actually determine the outcome by my choices…I loved being aplayer. Video games are visual versions of those books, only (dare I say it?) so much COOLER.
Yeah, I said it.
2.) Escape from reality
Real world got you down? Need to work off a little steam? Do your horrid aunt and uncle keep you locked up and lonely? Fire up a video game, find your happy place, and forget your worries for a while.
3.) Mad skills
Current research suggests that playing video games can increase cognitive functions like spatial navigation, memory, reasoning, and problem-solving skills among others. All that while you’re having fun? Um, more please.
4.) Virtual reality, people!
It’s coming, and faster than you might think. While the interface isn’t quite as sleek as Nixy’s titanium ear stud/transmission device in The Leveller, this Oculus Rift headset looks like a good time and then some. Sign me up.
5.) Fun with friends
Who says video games are anti-social? These days you can trade laser blasts and barbed quips with friends across the galaxy! Nothing says love like having your BFF’s back when battling baddies. (Just ask Nixy.)
We'd like to thank Julia for showing us her love for video games! And here is another BIG thanks for the following giveaway of The Leveller!
Three winners will receive a copy of The Leveller! US addresses only.
Entering is simple, just fill out the entry form below. During this giveaway, Julia has a question for entrants. Here is the question they'll be answering in the comments below for extra entries: If you could live inside any video game, which one would it be?
*Click the Rafflecopter link to enter the giveaway*
Alan Rickman has had a prolific career thus far, so it should come as no surprise that his new film “A Little Chaos” highlights him as a Renaissance man of sorts. Rickman directed, co-wrote, and performed the role of King Louis XIV in the film. While the review on ithacajournal.com questions some of Rickman’s artistic choices in the screenwriting of the film, it praises his directorial effort and his portrayal of the Sun King:
“A Little Chaos” is clearly a labor of love for Alan Rickman, Winslet’s “Sense and Sensibility” co-star, who not only directed it and co-wrote the script but has a featured role as Louis XIV. He gets passing marks for two of those three tasks. While he’s frankly wonderful as the king — he channels just the right combination of majesty and humanity — and his direction is perfectly serviceable, the screenplay has some disappointing forays into melodrama that the film would have been far better without.
The film has experienced limited theatrical release, but it will be available on DVD on August 4th.
You can read the rest of the review, which awards the film 3/5 stars, here.
Contributed by Kayla King, Blog Manager and Staff Reviewer
I still can't believe it has been ten years since Percy Jackson found his way into the hearts of readers. With the help of Disney-Hyperion, I get to discover the magic of Camp Half Blood all over again and now I'm sharing the magic and more with all of you!
For the next few months, I will continue to celebrate Rick Riordian and the amazing world he's shared with us over the past decade. Do you love Percy Jackson as much as I do?! Let me know in the comments on our last Percy post HERE and you could win the giveaway! Share your favorite Percy Jackson memory or other Camp Half Blood stories with #ReadRiordan and #YABC on social media!
Monday, I came home to a monster package outside my door, one fit for an Olympian!
And when I saw this lovely #ReadRiordan sticker, I knew it had to be my "Presents from Percy!"
I now feel completey prepared to go out out and find Camp Half Blood for myself! It all started with the pins to remind me of my journey ahead, one that has already been ten years in the making since the first book made its debut.
Next I found my disposable Percy-themed camera to document my travels to Camp Half Blood. Then came the headphones in order to play the sound of ocean waves. And of course I couldn't be without my Percy Jackson water bottle or dehydration would settle in all too quick.
When I found my complete set of the Percy Jackson series, I couldn't wait to use them as maps to find my way back to Camp Half Blood again. The set included in my "Presents from Percy," is the same set Disney-Hyperion has provided to YABC for our giveaway. You can find more information by heading back to our first Percy Jackson post HERE!
Now with my Percy Jackson backpack, I can load up all of my gear! But there is one last thing I know I need to really find Camp Half Blood...
My Camp Half Blood sweatshirt of course! So with that, I think I am ready to embark on my journey and rediscover all of the magic that the Percy Jackson series has to offer me all over again. So what about you? Are you going to find your way back to Camp Half Blood this summer? Or will you be traveling there for your first time? Let me know in the comments below!
But for now, I have a little more Percy news to share with all of you fantastic readers!
1.) NEW ORIGINAL RICK RIORDAN E-BOOK
Title:The Demigods of Olympus: An Interactive Adventure
On-Sale: July 14, 2015
Description: Your quest begins! Use your demigod skills in this interactive and customizable adventure story written by New York Times #1 best-selling author Rick Riordan. Combining four short stories, The Two-Headed Guidance Counselor, The Library of Deadly Weapons, My Demon Satyr Tea Party, and My Personal Zombie Apocalypse, your choices will have consequences in this first interactive demigod adventure.
Catch a sneak peek of Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard, Book One: The Sword of Summer available online at ReadRiordan.com!
3.) GREEK HEROES PRE-ORDER
Don’t forget to pre-order Percy Jackson’s GREEK HEROES, the companion to the national best seller Percy Jackson’s GREEK GODS available on Percy Jackson’s birthday, August 18, 2015.
Title: Greek Heroes
On-Sale:August 18, 2015
Description: Who cut off Medusa's head? Who was raised by a she-bear? Who tamed Pegasus? It takes a demigod to know, and Percy Jackson can fill you in on the all the daring deeds of Perseus, Atalanta, Bellerophon, and the rest of the major Greek heroes.
Told in the funny, irreverent style readers have come to expect from Percy, ( I've had some bad experiences in my time, but the heroes I'm going to tell you about were the original old school hard luck cases. They boldly screwed up where no one had screwed up before. . .) and enhanced with vibrant artwork by Caldecott Honoree John Rocco, this story collection will become the new must-have classic for Rick Riordan's legions of devoted fans--and for anyone who needs a hero.
So get your flaming spear. Put on your lion skin cape. Polish your shield and make sure you've got arrows in your quiver. We're going back about four thousand years to decapitate monsters, save some kingdoms, shoot a few gods in the butt, raid the Underworld, and steal loot from evil people. Then, for dessert, we'll die painful tragic deaths. Ready? Sweet. Let's do this.
Don't forget to head back to our first Percy post HERE for a chance to win your very own boxed set of the Percy Jackson series!
And stay tuned for more Percy Jackson posts as we celebrate the last decade and embark on the years to come with Percy and all our friends from Camp Half Blood!
The Facebook founder posted his choice to his Facebook page. “This is a change of pace from all the recent social science books. Instead, it’s a science fiction book about an advanced civilization with AI and a vibrant culture,” he wrote. “In other news, my pile of books to read is growing faster than I can get through it while running a large company.”
Previous choices have included: Muqaddimah by Ibn Khaldun; Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari; The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander; and Hank Paulson‘s Dealing With China.
Did you know that the story of “Little Red Riding Hood” was a special favorite of Ms. Hyman’s? And, she apparently, if biography tales can always be believed, spent a whole year wearing a red cape as a homage to this heroine in red.
I love stories that give you a personal window into what motivates and influences a picture book author’s art.
And Trina Schart Hyman, winner of a Cal- decott for this particular book, and a Caldecott in 1985 for her “St. George and the Dragon” is both a wondrous artist and teller of tales. Thank goodness, we can discover and rediscover essential classics like this one with young readers of picture books. When we introduce narratives and art like hers to them, it certainly sets the bar quite high as we show them in that genre, what is great vs what is merely mediocre.
Mediocre can be okay – at times. Like food, a steady diet of the essentials is what will make the body strong. And equally so, a diet of the essentials of the canon of great children’s literature is the best way to feed the mind and imagination of children. The fluff of treats and sweets is also palatable and easy going down, but does it satisfy as well? Maybe, but I think not. Something to ponder.
I love borders in picture books. They add dimension, and sometimes depth to what lies within. And Ms. Hyman here, like the notable Jan Brett, has brought borders with rusticity that play perfectly to the story of the red caped girl.
Here, Red Riding Hood has a name. It’s Elisabeth and the red cape is a birthday gift from grandmother.
The wolf here is pretty cagey, as per usual, making polite conversation, all the while plying Red Riding Hood with queries about her destination.
I love Ms. Schart Hyman’s pose of the wolf and Red Riding Hood in the wood with shafts of quiet light descending on the wolf as if to expose his evil intent. Heh Heh!
He is wolfishly wily and craven as he springs out of bed in grandmother’s garb!
But, thank goodness for the noble huntsman that Ms. Schart Hyman has clad in buckskin a la Davy Crockett! Charming!
If you’re looking for one version of this tale as old as time, this is the version to introduce to your young reader.
Red Riding Hood is as sweet as a Hummel figurine and the story with its detailed and muted illustrations, lends a cheery warmth to a red caped girl that knows her way around a wolf!
Several years ago, I wrote a post on the origin of the word frigate. The reason I embarked on that venture was explained in the post: I had run into what seemed to me a promising conjecture by Vittorio Pisani. As far as I could judge, his note had attracted no attention, and I felt it my duty to rectify the injustice.
My Brother's Secret. Dan Smith. 2015. Scholastic. 304 pages. [Source: Review copy]
Karl Friedmann loves to play war games, and can't wait to join the Hitler Youth. But after his father's death, he begins to question the rightness of the war, and the rightness of the Nazi party. This change of heart isn't immediate, it's more of a journey as he observes what the war has done to his family, to his friends, to his neighborhood. Two people definitely make an impact on him: his older brother, who does have a secret, and his new best friend, a girl around his own age.
My Brother's Secret is an intense read with plenty of action and drama.
I definitely found it a compelling read--a quick one too! It was action-packed until the very end. I was almost sure there was no way they could resolve it with so few pages left, and, in a way, it did feel rushed. But still. Quite a read.
This week has been an important one for Harry Potter star, Daniel Radcliffe. Within days of his invitation to join the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, Radcliffe has signed on to a new film project and received another unique honor.
Swiss Army Man, also set to star Paul Dano and Mary Elizabeth Winstead, will be directed by Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert. According to The Hollywood Reporter, work on the surrealist film will begin in July.
The film centers around a hopeless man stranded in the wilderness who befriends a dead body with which he begins a journey to get home.
The directors’ past work includes music videos and short films.
In addition, Daniel Radcliffe has won the male Rear of the Year Award for 2015. International Business Timesreports that the voting is done entirely online through Rear of the Year Ltd, with over 10,000 votes for the best backside registered this year.
Past male winners have covered a vast spectrum of people including Michael Barrymore, dancer Vincent Simone, John Barrowman, Ricky Whittle and Graham Norton.
Fifty Shades of Grey star, Jamie Dornan, ranked second this year, while Eddie Redmayne ranked fifth.
See here to read more about Swiss Army Man, and here for more on this year’s Rear of the Year Award winners.
Tra-la-laa! The team at Scholastic have created a video showcasing the Captain Underpants Song.
The video embedded above features George Beard, Harold Hutchins, and the superhero alter ego of Mr. Krupp—what do you think? Click here to watch Dav Pilkey talk about how reading gives you super powers while drawing both Super Diaper Baby and Captain Underpants.
Today my good friend Maria Psanis is my guest blogger. Welcome to Storywraps Maria and the mic is all yours...
I remember sitting in bed surrounded by many books and my niece and nephew waiting for me to read to them THE MAGIC FISH that we had just received from Scholastic.
Since I grew up with a mom who loved to tell stories especially at bed time, I had learned from her the importance of feeding the young minds with creativity and magic.
One of my favorite books the I kept reading to the four young children in my family was THE MAGIC FISH. The Magic Fish is a Russian folk tale with the title The Golden Fish retold by Freya Littledale. The story is about a fisherman catching a golden fish and he ends up throwing it back into the sea because he was told by the speaking fish that he was a prince under an evil spell. The kind fisherman was married to a very greedy wife who forced him to go back to the sea and ask the fish to grand him a wish. The she wanted a better cottage. Her wish was granted! No longer living in a filthy hut the couple were happy but after a couple of weeks the wife wanted a large stone castle to live in and forced her husband to go back and ask the Magic Fish to give them a castle. The kind fisherman was happy and content and didn't like the idea of going back to ask for more. He didn't wanted to anger the generous fish yet with a heavy heart after his wife's nagging, him goes back to the sea calling out to the fish. The fish grants them the stone castle , they had servants, the rooms were rich richly furnished with golden chairs and tables. Behind the castle was a garden and many different animals. His wife, Dame Ilsabil wasn't satisfied and wanted more; to be the King of all the land. The fisherman didn't wanted to be the King but his wife did and forced him once again to go back to the sea. He once again called out to the fish and his new wish was granted. She became the King with a troop of soldiers, six fair maidens, a throne of gold and diamonds and a crown upon her head. The exhausted fisherman wanted no more wishes! But his wife got tired fast of being the King and wanted more. She treated her husband as her slave! She wanted to be an emperor. Even the fish was getting tired of her wishes yet he granted her wish and she became an emperor. But she wanted more! She wanted to be the pope and she got her wish again. Nothing was good enough for her! She wanted to be the lord of the sun and the moon. The fisherman crept towards the sea and called out to the fish. Upon hearing what Dame Ilsabil wanted, he told the fisherman to go back to his hut or pigsty home. Everything that was given to them was taken away!!! The moral of the story is don't be greedy because you could end up with nothing!
I found some images from a similar book that would be fun to take a look at...
About my friend Maria...
I'm a clinical psychotherapist in private practice, a poet, a writer, a children's story teller, a photographer, a caregiver, a dreamer, and a healer.
I love God, people; old and young, photography, the ocean, the theater, great books, jazz music, and all living things.
I have an open heart and mind. You can read more about me by visiting my website: www.poetmaria.com
Read on and read always!
It's a wrap.
Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
If you would like to be a guest blogger here for "Open Mic Wednesdays" please let me know. This is a place where your voice can be heard regarding Kid's books, your books, anything bookish that may interest the readership here on Storywraps. Have an amazing day everyone and comments are most welcome...please!!!