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<<October 2016>>
new posts in all blogs
Viewing: Blog Posts from All 1562 Blogs, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 1 - 25 of 2,000
1. 2017 VFX Oscar Contenders: From Most-Likely To The Outliers

Who are the likely contenders for a visual effects Oscar? And which films might surprise this year?

The post 2017 VFX Oscar Contenders: From Most-Likely To The Outliers appeared first on Cartoon Brew.

0 Comments on 2017 VFX Oscar Contenders: From Most-Likely To The Outliers as of 10/24/2016 2:33:00 PM
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2. Rune Fisker

Rune Fisker

Rune Fisker’s illustrations are vignettes of a curious and surreal land. The blank and emotionless faces of his characters add a dose of mystery to his dreamlike landscapes full of leafy vegetation, flying household items, and geometric accents. By depicting just glimpses of each narrative, he creates scenes that are enticingly ambiguous and bound to spark the viewer’s imagination.

Rune Fisker

Rune Fisker

Rune Fisker

Rune Fisker

Rune Fisker


Also worth viewing:

Raúl Soria
Andrea Dell’Anna
Caitlin Keegan

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Thanks to this week's Sponsor // Foto Sushi

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3. Trusting God Through a Miscarriage (Part 1 of 2)

by Sally Matheny

Trusting God Through a Miscarriage
(photo by Pixabay)
Not even the startling, cold lubricant squeezed onto my belly could stifle my excited chatter.

I was on the verge of being the first one to hear a great secret—the gender of our third baby!

Earlier that day, I had taken our seven-and nine-year old daughters to a sitter. They wanted to go with me for my 12-week check up. I told them the following month’s appointment would be an ultrasound. I assured them they could go with me, and their daddy, to see the baby growing inside my tummy then.

Now, here I was, by myself about to hear the big reveal earlier than expected. Finding it difficult to locate the tiny baby with his stethoscope, the doctor asked how I felt about an ultrasound to see if I was as far along as we thought.

I happily agreed but told him he’d have to do another one next month because I’d promised my girls. Plus, my husband was out of town on business so there was no way he could get there in time to see today’s ultrasound.

So, I felt like I was special since I was about to receive some exciting news before everyone else. What a nice gift to receive after enduring three months of nausea!

“If I’m not as far along as we expected will you still be able to tell if it’s a boy or girl?” I asked.

“Maybe. We’ll see,” the tech said as she slid the probe around.

A few seconds later, she added, “There’s the baby.”

“Awww, it looks like it’s waving,” I said, noticing five, distinct, widespread fingers held in front of a profiled head and nose.

My heart pounded, waiting for her to tell me the big news. Boy? Or girl?
A few more swipes. She announces, “Okay. The doctor will be in to see you in just a minute,” as she leaves the room.

Odd. Maybe the tech isn’t allowed to say anything and has to wait for the doctor.

A few minutes later, the doctor comes in and repeats the same movements over my belly. It’s awfully quiet in the room until the doctor grunts a low and short, “hmm.”

I feel my enthusiasm fade in the dimly lit room. Something isn’t right.
Read more »

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4. Sky wants to Visit Earth

The blue canvas is alive,
In search of a wife,
To complete his life,
Or to take a jibe,

A jibe at the destiny,
That spills the electron,
The electricity is drawn,
Leaving the rest to sanity,

 He looks from the top,
The world of desires,
Hidden umpteen fires,
Thinks of taking a stop,

But suddenly the circle,
Converts to an octagon,
As inert as the halogen,
The humanity turns purple,

The green army missing,
Nobody actually cares,
Nobody here dares,
Monotony ruling & kissing,

Oh! The back stabbing and pain,
He gets withdrawn instantly,
From the faces,weird and ugly,
And finally catches the local train,

Well the local isn’t so vocal,
He observes the creatures,
From such height those miniatures,
Doesn’t seem to be focal,

Oh! He spots them hiding,
Behind a green paper,
But environment tapers,
They weren’t law abiding,

And he crosses the barriers,
Touch the essence of elation,
Human calls it education,
Still confused, moving as carriers,

He looks around for freshness,
History doesn’t seem to amuse,
As the economy fails to deduce,
Confusion remains to harness,

What a world, he thought,
Everything yet empty,
Miniatures went to kempty,
Carrying a slot,

He calls his friends,
And they started crying,
Oh! Humanity started dying,
Incessant rain joins the trends,

Finally, he stitches confusion,
Pondering about his birth,
He remain above the earth,
Trusting his intuition. 

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5. Top Children’s Literary Agents


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6. Guest Post: Author-Illustrator Ambelin Kwaymullina on Ethics, Process & Own Voices

By Ambelin Kwaymullina
for Cynthia Leitich Smith's Cynsations

The first of a four-installment dialogue with Ambelin and Cynthia. 

Our focus is on the creative life and process, speculative fiction, diversity, privilege, indigenous literature, and books for young readers.

I am an Aboriginal author, illustrator and law academic who comes from the Palyku people of Australia.

And I am an Own Voices advocate, by which I mean, I promote the stories told by marginalised peoples about our own experiences rather than stories told by outsiders.

I’ve written before that I don’t believe the absence of diversity from kids lit to be a ‘diversity problem.' I believe it to be a privilege problem that is caused by structures, behaviours and attitudes that consistently privilege one set of voices over another.

Moreover, the same embedded patterns that (for example) consistently privilege White voices over those of Indigenous peoples and Peoples of Colour will also work to privilege outsider voices over insider ones, at least to some degree.

The insider voices, of those fully aware of the great complexities and contradictions of insider existence, will always be more difficult to read and less likely to conform to outsider expectations as to the lives and stories of ‘Others’.

Insider stories can therefore be read as less ‘true’ or trap an insider author in a familiar double-bind – if we write of some of the bleaker aspect of our existence we’re told we’re writing ‘issues’ books; if we don’t we’re accused of inauthenticity.

I would like to think that as an Indigenous woman, I have some insight into marginalisation not my own. I have always thought that any experience of injustice should always increase our empathy and push us towards a greater understanding of injustice in other contexts.

But that does not mean my experiences equate to that of other peoples.

In an Australian context, I have said that I do not believe non-Indigenous authors should be writing Indigenous characters from first person perspective or deep third, because I don’t think a privilege problem can be solved by writers of privilege speaking in the voices of the marginalised.

And I apply the same limitation to myself in relation to experiences and identities not my own.

Ibi Zoboi recently wrote powerfully to the perils of the desire to ‘help’, noting that White-Man’s-Burdenism is not limited to White people. I run writing workshops for peoples who come from many different backgrounds of marginalisation, and as a storyteller, it is tempting to enact that instinct to ‘help’ into a narrative, to highlight the struggles of workshop participants in one of my own stories.

But between the thought and the action must come the process by which I determine if I am really helping at all.

So I ask myself, is the story mine to tell? The answer is no, of course; their stories are their own and their pain is not my source material.

The only way in which I would write from someone else’s perspective is in equitable partnership with someone from that group (where copyright, royalties and credit are shared).

This would not necessarily mean we each wrote half a novel. The other person may not write a word; their contribution could be in opening a window onto insider existence and correcting the mistakes an outsider inevitably makes.

I’ve had people tell me that this is the job of a sensitivity reader. But I am cautious about the boundaries of that relationship because I think there are cases where the input of an insider advisor infuses the narrative to such a degree that they are really a co-author and should be treated as such.

I don’t think the question is who wrote what words, but whether the story could have been told at all but for the contribution of the insider.

Someone once told me that I was restricting myself as a storyteller. I don’t believe I am.

I am acknowledging boundaries, but boundaries do not necessarily limit or restrict. Boundaries can define a safe operating space, for myself and for others, and respect for individual and collective boundaries is part and parcel of acknowledging the inherent dignity of all human beings.

I have begun co-writing a speculative fiction YA novel that is told from the perspectives of two girls: one Chinese, and one Indigenous. I am writing the Indigenous girl, and Chinese-Australian author Rebecca Lim is writing the Chinese girl.

The original idea for the story was Rebecca’s, but already it is changing as we each negotiate our own identities and experiences.

This is not a story that is restricted by boundaries; it is one that would not exist without them. In the writing of it, Rebecca and I are creating something that is greater than the sum of both of us – and in such stories, I see the future.

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7. Wildlife Photos by Mary Nida Smith


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8. Inktober Day 24: Aide-de-Cramp

Aide-de-Cramp. Day 24 of #Inktober2016.

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9. बेड़ियाँ

उम्र के संग संग,
अड़ियल हो जाते है हम,
कल को पकड़कर,
कल तक ले जाते है हम,

बाँध देते है एहसास की नाव,
आँसुओं के समुंद्र तट पर,
बीत जाती है खुशियाँ,
तड़पते मन, झड़पते हट पर,

खुद को ही अंधेरे में,
झोंक देते है हम सब,
खटखटाए जो मुस्कान, 
लगते है पल, कम तब,

बढ़ती उम्र के साथ,
बढ़ती जाती है उलझने,
न ढूँढ पाते है कोई दवा,
न दिख पाती है सुलझने, 

इन्सा की फ़ितरत देखो,
हैरत कर देती है,
गम का डर सताता है, उससे,
खुशियाँ जो देती है,     

पंख के नाम पर,
अक्सर मूक हो जाते है,
चाहते हुए साथ किसी का,
तन्हाइयों से चिपक जाते है,

गुस्से और हट को हम,
समझदारी का नाम देते है,
दिल जो बोले सच्चाई,
झूठ का उसको इनाम देते है,

आज़ादी की इस चाहत में,
गुलाम ही बने रहते है,
खुद को बाँधते है बेड़ियाँ,
दूजो का इल्ज़ाम कहते है |

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10. Monday Review: GEMINI by Sonya Mukherjee

This is one of the most gorgeous and effectivecovers I've seen. I love it.Synopsis: Clara and Hailey are twin sisters, and like a lot of sisters, they are closer than close one moment, but in the next, they get on each other's last nerve. Hailey is... Read the rest of this post

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11. FIVE QUESTIONS with HAZEL MITCHELL, author/illustrator of “TOBY”


Welcome to the second installment of my “5 Questions” series. On a weekly or bi-weekly or completely random basis, I will interview an author or illustrator and focus on a specific book. In the coming weeks, we’ll spend time with Matthew Cordell, Jessica Olien, Matthew McElligott, Lizzy Rockwell and more. Why? I like these people and I love their books. Sue me. Today we get to hang out with Hazel Mitchell, who is as glorious as a glass of champagne at a good wedding. Drink deeply, my friends . . .



JP: Greetings, Hazel. Thanks for stopping by my swanky blog. I hope you don’t find the vibe too intimidating. I put up the tapestry just for you. The lava lamps have been here for a while. Because nothing says “classy” quite like a lava lamp. Sit anywhere you like, but the milk crates are most comfortable.


Hazel: Thanks, JP. This is certainly an eclectic place you’ve got here. Wow, is that a glitter ball? Next you will be wearing a white suit. Excuse me while I remove this stuffed meerkat from the milk crate . . . 

1c971b5bc7c4a067d09cad45ee38361cCareful with that meerkat, it’s expensive. Hey, do I detect an accent? Wait, let me guess! You are from . . . Kentucky?

No getting anything past you! Kentucky, Yorkshire, England. OK, just Yorkshire, England. I’m a late pilgrim.

We recently sat side-by-side at the Warwick Children’s Book Festival, where I got the chance to read your wonderful new picture book, Toby, and eavesdrop on your lively interactions with young readers. At times, alarmingly, you spoke in the voice of a hand puppet. So let me see if I’ve got this straight: Toby is a real dog, but not a true story, exactly? How does that work?

toby-realistic-sketchesYes, we did sit next to each other and it was a lot of fun to see you in action! I didn’t know you were eavesdropping, I’d have dropped in some of those Shakespearean ‘asides’ just for you. And I must watch that hand puppet voice, I even do it without the hand puppet . . .

OK, to the question: Yes, Toby is a real dog. I rescued him from a puppy mill situation back in 2013. He was so endearing and his journey from frozen dog to bossy boots captured my heart. I began drawing him, because that’s what illustrators do, and before I knew it I was weaving a story round him. But I didn’t want to feature myself as the owner in Toby’s story, that was kind of boring and I figured Toby needed a younger owner, one who children could relate to. So I gave Toby a boy who adopts him and a Dad who is struggling with moving house, looking after his son AND now a new dog. The fictionalized setting gave me lots of ideas and emotions to play with, but the stuff Toby gets up to in the book is taken from things he did in real life.


I can see it’s a work that comes from your heart. And by “see” I mean: I could feel it. A heartwarming story for young children living in a cynical age. The book is beautifully designed. I especially admire the pacing of it, the way you vary the number and size of the many illustrations. Please tell me a little about that decision-making process.


Thank you. I love that you say ‘feel.’ I wanted this book to be about emotions and feelings and bring the reader into the internal dialogue of the boy and dog’s fears and frustrations. Just small things you know, but life is full of small things that make up the big things. And again, thank you for your kind words on the design, working with Candlewick, my editor (Liz Bicknell) and art director (Ann Stott), was a joy. We did a lot of drafts at rough sketch stage and as the layout of the book evolved a lot of graphic novel style panels crept in and then the wide double-spreads to open out the story. I like how it flows. The choice of colors really adds to the story I think, moody blues and beiges that reflect the emotions and then brighter colours when things are going well. The boy and dog are connected by the colour red –- Toby’s collar and the boy’s sneakers. 

Oh, thank you, Hazel, for sharing those behind-the-scenes details. I appreciate seeing the black-and-white sketches, too. I think even when readers don’t consciously notice those subtle details, they still manage to seep into our unconsciousness. It’s fascinating how much thought goes into the work that most readers probably don’t think they see.





I like that your book doesn’t gloss over the challenges of owning a dog. It’s not always cuddles and sunshine. Why did you feel it was important to include the downside of dog ownership?

Because that is the reality of life and children are very capable of dealing with realities and working through problems. Sometimes it’s adults who want everything to be cuddles and sunshine, and try to save youngsters from the real world. Well we can’t do that, because it comes at us fast. I never get tired of seeing or hearing about a child responding to a book and saying, “Yeah, that happened to me,” or “I know that feeling.” It’s like you’ve been given a gift. 


I see that you live in Maine. You must get this question a lot, but why isn’t Toby a moose? Do you see many moose up there? Can we please just talk about moose for a little while? And what goes on in Maine? Do you eat lobster all the time? While reading Stephen King? Or do I have some misconceptions? How did you end up there?

Toby channels his inner moose at times, which is scary in a poodle. There aren’t so many moose around our way, but drive a little North and there is moose-a-plenty (that could be a good name for a snack?). 

Sounds delicious.

I once drove home from a school visit in the FAR NORTH at twilight (that was my first mistake), it was misty and I was driving down a road where I swear there was a moose every 5 yards. I drove 30 miles at 5 MPH. I got home after six months. These moose were SO darn big and SO close to the car I could literally see up their nostrils. Man, moose need help with superfluous hair.


Wow, you really did see up their nostrils. You are scaring me a little bit, Hazel. Eyes on the road. Speaking of scary . . .

Stephen King lives in the next town over, but you know, he’s a recluse. I eat lobster with lobster on top. Delish. When I moved to the US of A from over the pond I landed in the South. Then moved to Maine. I like the cold much better! (And the lobster).

Do you have ideas for any more Toby stories? I think readers will want more.

I do have more ideas about stories for Toby. But we will have to wait and see. Readers! Write to my publisher! 

I’m so glad you visited, Hazel. It’s nice spending time with you. I hope Toby enjoys a long and mischievous life in children’s books.

It’s been fun. Best five questions anyone asked me all morning. Thanks for having me drop by … oops … there goes a lava lamp!

Six bucks down the drain. We’re done here.


imanismooncvr_300-819x1024In addition to Toby, Hazel Mitchell has illustrated several books for children including Imani’s Moon, One Word Pearl, Animally and Where Do Fairies Go When It Snows? Originally from England, where she attended art college and served in the Royal Navy, she now lives in Maine with her poodles Toby and Lucy and a cat called Sleep. You may learn more about Hazel at www.hazelmitchell.com

TOBY Copyright © 2016 by Hazel Mitchell. Illustrations reproduced by permission of the publisher, Candlewick Press, Somerville, Massachusetts

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12. Second Printing!

A Family Is a Family Is a Family is going into second printing and I am so joy-filled I could be a drawing by Qin Leng!

While I'm here, could I ask a favour? We've been very lucky with reviews (stars from Kirkus, School Library Journal, and Publishers Weekly) but it would be nice to have a few more reader reviews up here if anyone has the time or inclination. Thanks!

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13. Breaking: Oscar-Winning Studio Moonbot Lays Off Employees After Possible Studio Sale

Moonbot is laying off employees in Louisiana, but might be growing even larger in Florida.

The post Breaking: Oscar-Winning Studio Moonbot Lays Off Employees After Possible Studio Sale appeared first on Cartoon Brew.

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14. Picture Book Monday with a review of They all saw a cat

So many of the world's problems arise because we think everyone thinks and sees things the way we do. We dare to think that they if they don't see things our way, then they are in the wrong. We forget that who we are - our life experiences and our background - hugely affect our perceptions.

This amazing picture book shows us how different characters all see the same thing in very different ways. Their viewpoints are startling, visually, and give us cause to pause. As we look at the artwork we are gently reminded to think about how we perceive our world.

They All Saw a CatThey all saw a cat
Brendan Wenzel
Picture Book
For ages 5 and up
Chronicle Books, 2016, 978-1-4521-5013-0
A cat, wearing a red collar that has a little yellow bell attached to it, goes out into the world with its whiskers ready and its tail in the air. The cat is seen by a child, a dog, a fox, a goldfish, a mouse, a bee, a bird, a flea, a snake, a skunk, a worm, and bat. One would think that they would all see the cat in the same way, but this is not the case.
   To the child the cat is a smiling, benign animal that is there to be patted. The dog sees the cat as a lean, mean looking creature. The goldfish, from its watery home in a fish bowl, sees a blurry shape with enormous yellow eyes. For the poor mouse the cat is a monstrous beast with yellow, slit eyes, huge claws, and sharp fangs. The bee, with its compound eyes, sees a pointillist cat, a vague figure made up of lots of colors. The bat, flying in the night sky, also sees a shape made up of dots, but the dots it sees are white in color.
   Every animal sees the cat differently depending on its perspective and its place in the food chain. The kinds of eyes and senses they have also determine what the cat looks like to them. How does that cat see itself?
   This wonderful picture book takes children on a journey into the imagination. It also presents them with the idea that different characters will see the same thing in widely different ways. We all view the world through eyes that are touched by our biases, interests, and backgrounds, and therefore we have to be sensitive to the fact that other people’s perceptions are not like our own.

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15. Monday Poetry Stretch - List Poem for Fall

A list poem is a carefully crafted list, catalog, or inventory of things. Robert Lee Brewer of Poetic Asides writes this in his article List Poem: A Surprisingly American Poem:
The list poem was used by the Greeks and in many books of the Bible. But two of the most popular American poems, Walt Whitman’s “Song of Myself” and Allen Ginsberg’s “Howl,” are list poems. So what is a list poem? 
Basically, a list poem (also known as a catalog poem) is a poem that lists things, whether names, places, actions, thoughts, images, etc. It’s a very flexible and fun form to work with.
What is it about list poems that makes them so accessible? Perhaps it's because the list is so ubiquitous in our lives. Everyone makes lists, so finding them in poetry is not unexpected and makes them seem familiar.

In the book Conversations With a Poet: Inviting Poetry into K-12 Classrooms (2005), written by Betsy Franco, the chapter devoted to the list poem includes this background and helpful information.
The list poem or catalog poem consists of a list or inventory of things. Poets started writing list poems thousands of years ago. They appear in lists of family lineage in the Bible and in the lists of heroes in the Trojan War in Homer's Iliad.  
Characteristics Of A List Poem
  • A list poem can be a list or inventory of items, people, places, or ideas.
  • It often involves repetition.
  • It can include rhyme or not.
  • The list poem is usually not a random list. It is well thought out.
  • The last entry in the list is usually a strong, funny, or important item or event.
Your challenge for this week is to write a list poem about fall, or Halloween, or something October-y. Please share a link to your poem or the poem itself in the comments.

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16. Bird Bath

While wandering some wooded paths
We witnessed warblers taking baths.
Some rocky croppings, they’d detected,
Had some dips where rain collected.

Several types of birds appeared
And waited ‘til the “bathtubs” cleared.
Taking turns, they each immersed
While those in waiting chirp-conversed.

The bathing birds, a’frenzied, flapped
As water droplets rose and slapped.
I couldn’t tell if all that preening
Was for show or simply cleaning.

Concrete jungle thoughts aside,
In New York City, we’re supplied
With lots of Nature’s hidden treasures;
Spotting them provides sweet pleasures.

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17. MMGM Links (10/24/16)

I seriously don't know how we are now ONE WEEK away from LODESTAR. But it's happening. And my To Do list is officially EXPLODING.

So as a quick reminder, again--I'll do my best to keep up with MMGM over the next few weeks, but it's always tricky when I'm traveling (sometimes internet is spotty--or my itinerary is so crammed I don't have a moment to breathe, much less assemble links). So bear with me if it's a little bumpy around here. (And once again, if you haven't checked my events page to see if I'm coming to see you, go HERE)

Also, this is the final week to take advantage of the LODESTAR Pre-Order giveaway so make sure you don't miss your chance. For details, and the form you'll need to fill out in order to get your swag, go HERE.

And now, on to MMGM!

- Middle Grade Minded joins the MMGM fun with a review of DRAGON OF THE MONTH CLUB. Click HERE to welcome them to the group.  
- Jess at the Reading Nook is reviewing--and GIVING AWAY--JOURNEY'S END. Click HERE for details. 
- Tara Creel has a review--with an interview--of IF THE MAGIC FITS. Click HERE for all the fun. 
- Sue Kooky is whispering about THE WHISPERING SKULL. Click HERE to check it out.  
- Justin Talks Books is voting for THE KID WHO RAN FOR PRESIDENT. Click HERE to read his feature.  
- Patricia at Children's Books Heal is singing praises for THE MASK THAT SANG. Click HERE to see why. 
- Bookish Ambition is rooting for DISAPPEARING ACT. Click HERE to see what they thought. 
- Michael Gettel-Gilmartin is featuring NBA Star Amar'e Stoudamire's STAT series. Click HERE to see what he has to say. 
- Suzanne Warr is spotlighting INVISIBLE INKLING.  Click HERE to see why.   
- Got my Book has an audiobook review of THE CITY OF EMBER. Click HERE to see what they thought.  
- Completely Full Bookshelf is recommending WHEN THE SEA TURNED TO SILVER. Click HERE to see why.  
- The B.O.B. has an epic list of Greek Mythology books. Click HERE to see what they are.
- Greg Pattridge is rooting for THE BEST MAN. Click HERE to read his review.
- Rosi Hollinbeck is reviewing--and GIVING AWAY--EDNA IN THE DESERT. Click HERE for all the fun. 
- Heidi Grange is taken with TOOK. Click HERE to see why.  
- Jenni Enzor is championing THE TURN OF THE TIDE. Click HERE to see what she thought.  
- Sally's Bookshelf is sharing SCAR: A Revolutionary War Tale. Click HERE for her feature. 
- Karen Yingling also always has some awesome MMGM recommendations for you. Click HERE to which ones she picked this time.  
- Joanne Fritz always has an MMGM for you. Click HERE to see what she's talking about this week  
- The Mundie Moms are always huge supporters of middle grade. Click HERE for their Mundie Kids site. 
- Shannon O'Donnell is back--and planning a weekly MMGM again. Click HERE to see what she's talking about this week.   

If you would like to join in the MMGM fun, all you have to do is blog about a middle grade book you love on a Monday (contests, author interviews and whatnot also count--but are most definitely not required) and email me the title of the book you're featuring and a link to your blog at SWMessenger (at) hotmail (dot) com. (Make sure you put MMGM or Marvelous Middle Grade Monday in the subject line so it gets sorted accurately--and please don't forget to say what book you're featuring) You MUST email me your link by Sunday evening in order to be included in the list of links for the coming Monday. (usually before 11pm PST is safe--but if I'm traveling it can vary. When in doubt, send early!) (Also make sure the post you send me is a new post, not one from earlier in the week. I try to keep the content fresh)

If you miss the cutoff, you are welcome to add your link in the comments on this post so people can find you, but I will not have time to update the post. Same goes for typos/errors on my part. I do my best to build the links correctly, but sometimes deadline-brain gets the best of me, and I'm sorry if it does. For those wondering why I don't use a Linky-widget instead, it's a simple matter of internet safety. The only way I can ensure that all the links lead to safe, appropriate places for someone of any age is if I build them myself. It's not a perfect system, but it allows me to keep better control.

Thank you so much for being a part of this awesome meme, and spreading the middle grade love!

*Please note: these posts are not a reflection of my own opinions on the books featured. Each blogger is responsible for their own MMGM content and I do not pre-screen reviews ahead of time, nor do I control what books they choose. I simply assemble the list based on the links that are emailed to me. 

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18. Query Letters

There are some things you should NOT include in your query letter.


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19. THE INQUISITOR'S TALE by Adam Gidwitz

The Inquisitor's Tale (Or, The Three Magical Children and Their Holy Dog) by Adam Gidwitz, illuminated by Hatem Aly (Sept 27, 2016, Dutton Children's Books, 384 pages, for ages 10 and up).

Synopsis (from the publisher):  1242. On a dark night, travelers from across France cross paths at an inn and begin to tell stories of three children. Their adventures take them on a chase through France: they are taken captive by knights, sit alongside a king, and save the land from a farting dragon. On the run to escape prejudice and persecution and save precious and holy texts from being burned, their quest drives them forward to a final showdown at Mont Saint-Michel, where all will come to question if these children can perform the miracles of saints.
Join William, an oblate on a mission from his monastery; Jacob, a Jewish boy who has fled his burning village; and Jeanne, a peasant girl who hides her prophetic visions. They are accompanied by Jeanne’s loyal greyhound, Gwenforte . . . recently brought back from the dead. Told in multiple voices, in a style reminiscent of The Canterbury Tales, our narrator collects their stories and the saga of these three unlikely allies begins to come together.

Why I recommend it: A medieval story that's still quite timely. It speaks volumes about the way we treat each other today. It's also one of the most unusual MG novels I've ever read. You'll find yourself so caught up in the story and so curious about where this is leading that you'll want to put off tasks and cancel appointments just so you can keep reading. (Not that I, coughcough, did those things...)

Favorite lines: There are so many! It's a very quotable book. Randomly picking one:  "William always admired the Italian boys' way of looking up from under their eyebrows that was either totally respectful or utterly disrespectful, and you could never tell which." (from p. 35 of the advanced reading copy)

Bonus: It's illuminating as well as entertaining. You'll learn a lot about thirteenth-century France. Adam Gidwitz spent six years researching this novel and it paid off beautifully.

Author's website

For another take on this book (and a fun interview with the author) visit Middle Grade Mafioso's post from October 3, 2016.

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20. It’s Tuesday! Write. Give. Share.

It's Tuesday! Time to write, share and give!

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21. Savaged Lands

Savaged Lands. Lana Kortchik. 2016. 292 pages. [Source: Bought]

First sentence: It was a balmy September afternoon and the streets of Kiev were crowded. Just like always, cars screeched past the famous Besarabsky Market. And just like always, a stream of pedestrians engulfed the cobbled Kreshchatyk. Yet something was different. No one smiled, no one called out greetings or paused for a leisurely conversation in the shade of the many chestnut trees that lined the renowned street. On every grim face, in every mute mouth, in the way they moved – a touch faster than usual – there was anxiety, fear and unease. And only three teenagers seemed oblivious to the oddly hushed bustle around them.

Premise/plot: Natasha Smirnova's world is turned upside down by the Nazi's invasion of her hometown of Kiev in September 1941. Savaged Lands chronicles her life during the war.

My thoughts: I almost loved this one. I did. Why the almost? The love scenes were a bit too graphic for my personal taste. (I like things on the clean side). What did I love about it? The drama and intensity of it. The ugliness of war and the messiness of family life come together in this historical novel. I also thought the author did a good job creating complex characters. Not every single character perhaps. But the main characters certainly.

What did I like about it? The romance. The romance is both the novel's biggest strength and greatest weakness. It all depends on YOU the reader. If you love ROMANCE, if you love romance with DRAMA, with OBSTACLES, then you may love, love, love this one. It wouldn't be a stretch to say this one is more about a 19 year old girl falling madly, deeply in love for the first time than it is a novel about the second world war. If you love HISTORY more than romance, you might feel that too much emphasis is placed on her weak-in-the-knees, heart-pounding romance. Her life is practically unrecognizable, she's lost immediate family members, and all her thoughts are consumed in HIM. All the time it's him, him, him, HIM. (His name is Mark, I believe)

This one has plenty of tension and conflict. Is it good drama? or too melodramatic? I think again this is up to each reader. The conflict between Lisa and Natasha--two sisters--is very real and takes up a good portion of this one. Definitely gives readers something to think about as they keep turning pages.

© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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22. Fun books to read for Halloween

Halloween is almost here and it's the perfect time to read a spook-tacular Halloween themed books.

Here are a few not too spooky Halloween books for our young readers:

Go away, big green monster! by Ed Emberely
Die-cut pages through which bits of a monster are revealed are designed to help a child control nighttime fears of monsters.

Does a cow say boo? by Judy Hindley
Children on a farm want to know which creature says "boo," and learn about animal sounds as they search. 

Room on the broom by Julia Donaldson
A witch finds room on her broom for all the animals that ask for a ride, and they repay her kindness by rescuing her from a dragon.

Otter loves Halloween! by Sam Garton
Otter and Teddy celebrate Halloween.

Big pumpkin by Erica Silverman

A witch trying to pick a big pumpkin on Halloween discovers the value of cooperation when she gets help from a series of monsters.  

The little old lady who was not afraid of anything by Linda Williams
A  little old lady who is not afraid of anything must deal with a pumpkin head, a tall black hat, and other spooky objects that follow her through the dark woods trying to scare her.

For our older readers looking for a scary story to tell in the dark:

Scary stories to tell in the dark by Alvin Schwartz
This spooky addition to Alvin Schwartz's popular books on American folklore is filled with tales of eerie horror and dark revenge that will make you jump with fright.

In a creepy, creepy place and other scary stories by Judith Gorog

A collection of scary stories with unpredictable events and bizarre characters.

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23. Fusenews: Moominlatte

Good morning!  I’d like to begin today by thanking the good people of Foundation 65 for allowing me to moderate a panel discussion last night with Duncan Tonatiuh, Grace Lin, Matt de la Pena, Janice Harrington, and Steve Sheinkin.  Foundation 65 has created this cool program where these authors are visiting every single child in the Evanston, IL public school system this week.  I helped kick it off, which was lovely.  In this image you’ll see me in a rare moment of not lolling all over the podium (there was no seat high enough for me to sit on, and my heels were killing me).



Travis just offered a fascinating look at the recently released Follett statistics of what children around the country are checking out.  It’s simultaneously unsurprising and disheartening.  If you’re into that feeling, check the list out here.


Gotta hand it to Bookriot.  When they came up with a list of 9 Kids Books That Should Be In Print, they did their due diligence.  No mention of Hey, Pizza Man, but otherwise impeccable.  I have a copy of Trouble for Trumpets of my very own, so I can attest to its awesomeness, and The Church Mouse should definitely find a new audience.  Well written, Danika Ellis.


Two Harold and the Purple Crayon related posts appeared around the same time last week.  The first was from The Ugly Volvo (a.k.a. my replacement for The Toast) called Harold’s Mother and the Purple Crayon.  The other was Phil Nel’s piece How to Read Harold in which he reveals the possible subject of his next book.  There are also some pretty keen links at the end.  Go to it!


This one’s neat.  Middle school teachers Julie Sternberg and Marcie Colleen have collected short audio clips in which storytellers share memories from their childhood.  They write,

“For each memory, we propose writing prompts for students as well as questions for classroom discussion.  Topics range from moments when storytellers have experienced bullying or been bullies themselves; to the first time they remember doing something they knew to be wrong; to difficulties in their home lives; to the effects of keeping secrets.  We hope each story helps kids think through issues that can be difficult to address but impossible to avoid.”

The site is called Play Me a Memory and contributors include everyone from Sarah Weeks and Kat Yeh to Michael Buckley and Matthew Cordell.  If you’re looking for writing prompts to share with kids, this site may prove inspirational.


This is neat:


It’s like fanart for a really recent picture book.  Cool stuff, Migy.


I know Dana Sheridan says that artist Aliisa Lee’s illustrations of classic folktale characters are “manga characters”, but I think the adaptations go a bit further.  These creations look particularly Pokemon-esque.  I could see me capturing one in a public space.  Couldn’t you?

Now for a double shot of espresso/adorableness:


Thanks to Marjorie Ingall for the link.


I outsource some of my knowledge of children’s literature to those better suited than I.  For example, if you were to ask me what the best Christian books series out there might be, I’d probably hem and haw and then excuse myself to the ladies room where I would attempt to climb out the window.  Author/illustrator Aaron Zenz, however, knows his stuff.  Recently he said that the best series is Adam Raccoon and that the books are now officially back-in-print.  FYI, Christian reader type folks!


Just the loveliest piece was written recently at the Horn Book by Sergio Ruzzier about his time looking at the work of Arnold Lobel and James Marshall at the Kerlan Collection.  And though I might take issue with the idea that Marshall’s humans were less charming than his animals, the piece is an utterly fascinating look at the process of the two men.


Daily Image:

And for our last image of the day, we turn once again to good old upcoming Halloween:


Reminds me of the time I went to the Dan Quayle Museum and saw the Fabergé Egg that showed him being sworn in as VP (<— all that I just said is true).  Thanks to Marci for the link.


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24. Writing from the Inside Out. . . Interview with Author/Illustrator Ken Lamug + Spooky Halloween giveaway

Dear friends,

There's a deliciously spooky Halloween treat waiting for you, but first the winner of last week's giveaway for The Stone and the Bowl by Bish Denham is: Rosemary Basham!! Congratulations, Rosemary! Last week's winner didn't claim her prize, so I pulled a new winner for Pamela Jane's Halloween or Christmas book using random.org. Congratulations to: Heather Sebastian! Thank you for including your e-mail address. I'll be in touch shortly.

NOW. . .Please join me in welcoming the mutli-talented, Author/Illustrator Ken Lamug. Learn about Ken, read his insightful interview about his writing journey and influences, and click on his links for a real spooky preview of his picture book and for lessons in illustration! Thank you, Ken, for your generosity in donating an autographed copy of your book, The Stumps of Flattop Hill. Ken hinted that he might have some extra treats for the winner! So please be sure to leave a comment for Ken for a chance to win!

Kenneth Kit Lamug is an author/illustrator based in Las Vegas, Nevada. He self-published his first children’s book which won a bunch of awards and fulfilled one of his lifelong dream. His most recent books include the macabre children’s fairytale, The Stumps of Flattop Hill (One Peace Books) and the parenting parody book, HURTS LIKE A MOTHER (Doubleday). He has contributed to Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s “Tiny Books of Tiny Stories” and many other publications. Ken has also worked in movies, comics and his photography has been showcased internationally. When he’s not making monsters in the basement, he enjoys other hobbies like working.

The Stumps of Flattop Hill is a macabre tale of a little girl who enters the town’s legendary haunted house in the face of fear. A dark tale for children in the tradition of the Brother’s Grimm, it calls to mind the provocative illustration style of Edward Gorey. Scary and entertaining, this book challenges the idea of what children’s books can be.

The Stumps of Flattop Hill received the Literary Classics Seal of Approval 2016


How did you come up with the storyline?

The Stumps of Flattop Hill was a small idea that started with a rhyme. I didn’t really have a firm idea, so I stowed it away. Then one day, while on a family vacation, we drove past a town called Flat Top (California) and for some reason that name sparked the idea for the story. I was rhyming and thinking of the possibilities all the way to San Francisco.

When I returned, I started writing down the idea and was even inspired by Edgar Allan Poe’s The Raven. The haunted house idea came from my childhood experience, where kids daring each other to enter a creepy house was not an unusual event.

I got to work and it all came together a few months later.

Did you like fairytales as a kid?

I grew up in the Philippines which was a melting-pot for many cultures (from Spanish, Chinese, Japanese, Middle-Eastern, Western and others). Hearing stories about urban legends, & folktales was just part of growing up.

Grimm fairy tale stories that I read as a child were already westernized versions which were kid-friendly. I enjoyed reading them and watching them on television. The fantastical worlds and mysterious creatures fascinated me.

What really scared me though were the stories that kids would share around the neighborhood. We had monsters that stole babies from pregnant women, dark elves that would cast illness, or ghost that haunted our school hallways.

Those were real to me and has influenced my stories in many ways.

What was your artistic influence for The Stumps of Flattop Hill?

When I first saw some of Gorey’s books I was mesmerized by his technical precision. The detailed line work required a lot of discipline and patience, which was something I lacked at the time. But as I studied more of his books, I also fell in love with his dark humor. I felt that his stories were never straightforward, that something was hidden for the reader to interpret. His work ethic is also a great inspiration, producing over a hundred books is quite an accomplishment. A few of my favorites include, The Epipleptic Bicycle, The Willowdale Handcar and his most popular book The Gashlycrumb Tinies. These books are perfect examples containing the right amount of humor, macabre and mystery.

Another influence that I should mention is Tim Burton. His short film, Vincent, created quite an impression, along with his loose and dynamic drawing style. I was hoping to achieve that balance between Gorey and Burton in The Stumps of Flattop Hill.

How long does it take you to draw an image? How long to finish the book?

I found that planning a scene will often times take longer than the drawing process itself. Since I also have a regular job and a family, I can only dedicate so many hours in a day to drawing or writing. A typical drawing can sometimes be completed in a single evening or sometimes it can take more than a week. But planning it and thinking about the right image can take a long time and many trial and errors. The entire book took about six months to complete and a few revisions that occurred over a year's time. It’s always healthy to step back from a project and look at it at a later date with a fresh perspective.

What about the parents who do not want their kids to read spooky stories?

I can understand how some parents wouldn’t want their kids to read a spooky story. Maybe they don’t think their kids can handle it, but I also think we don’t give the kids enough credit in this regard. Of course, as parents we have to gauge what our kids can and cannot handle. But we should also take this opportunity to explain things and teach them.

The Stumps of Flattop Hill is not just a spooky story; there’s humor and there’s also a character who shows strength. But the ending of the book is open to interpretation.Even though an entire town feared the haunted house, Florence maintained a peaceful and happy expression in the end. Maybe it wasn’t all that bad after all.

What has been your experience with the publication of The Stumps of Flattop Hill?

My process has always been about finishing a book and then pitching it to a publisher. When I finished The Stumps, it made its rounds to the publishers through my agent (it took a little over a year).  But once it was picked up by One Peace Books, it has been quite smooth and most of the art and text were kept as is. They were easy to work with and very supportive.
Here are a few videos of Ken creating illustrations. The first link is the trailer for The Stumps of Flattop Hill. I came across it on Twitter and immediately invited Ken to be a guest on my blog. Thanks, Ken, for sharing your talent here. If you're drawn to spooky books and fairytales, you're going to love this eerie tale! Click on the link below:

Spooky Halloween Fairytale Picture Book Children's 


Click on the link below for a lesson in illustrating Edward Gorey style:


Click on the link below for a Pen and Ink drawing lesson:


One more time lapse lesson in drawing:

Illustrations from inside The Stumps of Flattop Hill:
REVIEWS of The Stumps of Flattop Hill:
 This is a book my kids would have dragged out of the box time after time, the one held together by sellotape and a shared love of things that go bump in the night. If there’s a small person in your life who likes delightfully creepy tales, give both of you a treat and buy them this. - Vulpes Libris

This book isn’t the type of children’s book such as The little Engine That Could or Green Eggs and Ham, all bright colors and a simple moral. It’s creepier and darker — both literally and figuratively — and ends more ambiguously than most children’s books. For the right kind of child — or an adult who remains young at heart — it may be just the right sort of book.
Las Vegas Review Journal (F. Andrew Taylor)

"Ken Lamug’s THE STUMPS OF FLATTOP HILL brings a long-overdue disturbance to the picture book arena. The cover alone promised me things that I was desperate for the story to keep.”
The Midnight Society

What are you working on now?
I’m always in the middle of a book project or doing research. I’ve just finished a 150 page wordless graphic novel. “Pedro and the Flea King” is about a boy who goes on an adventure as he tries to save the town from the king and his minions. It’s making its rounds looking for a publisher at this time. I’m also about to wrap-up an all-ages comic (titled Random Quest) which will debut in the fall for the Vegas Valley Comic Book Festival. With my down-time, I’m focusing on my children’s picture book projects, taking workshops and participating in critiques. Just trying to get better at the craft.
Learn more about Ken Lamug and his books:

Follow him on Facebook and Twitter:

Thanks, dear readers, for stopping by to leave a comment for this talented young man! As always, simply leave a comment for a chance to win! The WINNER will be announced on FRIDAY, OCTOBER 28th. ~Clara

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25. Rainy Day Sale

My mum used to tuck things away for 'a rainy day'. This was usually a pile of old comics or a book that she had picked up at a jumble sale, for when I was sick or if it was literally a rainy day. I've been saving my book toys for a rainy day, and that time has come. So everything I have left from my book 'Little Needle-Felt Animals' is up for grabs. I've tried to keep prices as low as possible, and there are small things -

 And larger things - 

I am often asked how I can bear to part with my work, and my usual answer is that I can't pay the bills or mortgage with a needle felt cat. I am pretty torn about selling these little friends, as creating them for my book got me through my darkest hours when I lost Andy. But they've decorated my studio for long enough, so I'm hoping at least some of them will find new homes. They're all available in a special sale section in my Etsy shop here. All come with signed name tags and a little certificate tag.

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