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1. What’s Hidden in the Woods?

whathiddenfrontcoverWhat’s Hidden in the Woods by Aina Bestard (@ainab) is a playful, curiosity-creating picture book with a difference.

At first glance, it’s a simple walk through the woods, but as you slow down and look closely, using a set of special lenses which come packaged with the book, all sorts of hidden stories are revealed. Animals and plants magically appear where there were none before. Gentle prompts on each page draw in readers / listeners / viewers to look again and let themselves be surprised and enchanted by the magic.

Bestard’s illustrative technique makes use of the fact that different coloured lenses filter out different colours printed on the page, disguising some, allowing others to suddenly appear clearly. This approach makes for stylish images also when viewed without any lenses; her limited palette, her highly decorative use of patterns and the clarity of her line all add up to fresh and eye-catching illustrations.


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The experience of reading the book is also very interesting. It becomes something slower and more deliberate, not a race to the end, but rather an invitation to look, and look and look again. Such close observation is sometimes hard to encourage, but here it comes naturally and is hugely enjoyable. My kids both kept checking that they’d not missed any small detail and were truly fascinated by how something so simple as the lenses changed everything.


We just had to explore the technique used by Bestard ourselves and so we set up a creation station, with lots of different shades of red, yellow, blue and green markers, plus homemade acetate visors in each of the colours. The visors (made from acetate sheets rather than cellophane because acetate is a bit thicker and sturdier) meant that the kids could put them on and draw hands-free (so to say) i.e. without having to hold the magic lenses from the book in one hand.



There was a real frisson of excitement in the air as we saw how our drawings appeared to reveal hidden secrets as we viewed them through different coloured filters. I’ve tried to show how it looked to us by making this short animation:

Whilst making our own magic images we listened to:

  • These Are My Glasses by Laurie Berkner – this is a very short song with actions that you could use in class or storytime.
  • The Red and Yellow Blues by Greg Percy. This one is for tapping your toes to (or air-guitaring along to….).
  • Little Magic Glasses by Johnny Cash. Long-time blog readers will know I have a serious weakness for anything sung by Johnny Cash.

  • Other activities which might work well alongside reading What’s Hidden in the Woods include:

  • Making actual goggles instead of visors. We liked the look of these toilet roll glasses from Krokotak, and these egg carton spy glasses from Crafts by Amanda.
  • Going for a walk in some nearby woods and seeing what you can spot (with or without magic glasses). For folk in the the UK, The Woodland Trust has a great site with lots of resources and tips for getting out into a forest near you and having a great time. Perhaps you could join in with their ancient tree hunt? Did you know that you can use the HUG method to identify ancient trees?
  • Exploring patterns. Bestard’s illustrations are highly patterned, full of repeating motifs. If you’re unsure where to start, this tutorial gives one way in to exploring repeating patterns made up from several individually very simple motifs. I think kids might enjoy creating such patterns on scratchboard.
  • Once you’ve enjoyed What’s Hidden in the Woods I’d recommend you look out for The Great Journey by Agathe Demois (which makes use of the same technique), and also for the books published by PatrickGeorge. The latter make very clever use of coloured acetate but in a completely different way to Bestard.

    If you liked this post you might like these other posts by me:

  • A review of Mama Miti: Wangari Maathai and the Trees of Kenya by Donna Jo Napoli and Kadir Nelson along with our self-adhesive sandwich boards for outdoor collectors!
  • A review of Tree by Britta Teckentrup plus how we made our own seasonally spectacular tree collage.
  • Exploring outdoors and becoming a museum curator.
  • woodsextra

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    Disclosure: I was sent a free review copy of this book by the publisher.

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    2. Kitty Café

    Youth service librarians live and breathe the ALA marketing campaign of Libraries Transform. Childhood is the most epically transformative time for human beings. However, none of these thoughts were in my mind when the Nebraska Humane Society agreed to be part of a Cat Café event at our library. Instead, I was focused on how incredibly fun this community partnership would be.

    It wasn’t until during the event, when I went into the room to get some video footage, that I fully comprehended that lives were going to change that day. This realization was triggered by seeing a woman sitting on the floor playing with one of the kittens while inquiring about the adoption process. I became emotional because families were going to be created or enlarged at this event.

    Later, while looking through social media I came across an update to the Nebraska Humane Society’s Facebook post about the program. Christina Kadlec, the woman whom I had observed earlier, shared that she had adopted two of the kittens from that morning’s Kitty Café event; what she wrote had me in tears. I reached out to Christina and asked her to more fully tell her story, and she graciously agreed.

    Over the past two years I lost both of my best friends: Bearcat who was with me for 17 years, and then 18 year-old Marbles. To say I was heartbroken would be a gross understatement. My cats had been comforting me through almost all of life’s challenges. Coming home to an empty apartment was a very hollow feeling.

    The morning of the Kitty Café, I had been battling with myself as to whether or not I would visit the Humane Society that day. I saw the post for the event on Facebook and I was captivated by the fuzzy dilute tortie in the pictures. I decided I would head out to Gretna, if for no other reason, to play with the kittens and enjoy their antics.

    Upon arriving at the Kitty Café, I hung back and let the kids enjoy the kittens for the most part. However, it so happened that the fuzzy gray tortie and I ended up playing together quite a bit. Her sister, a gray tabby, also made me smile with her outgoing, fearless sense of adventure. I talked to NHS staff at the event about adoptions and arranged to come see “the girls” after the event.

    Needless to say, when I visited them later that day, it was love. We completed the adoption process late that afternoon.

    I’m so happy to come home to my playful, lively kittens! They cannot replace my previous cat friends, but they provide a needed salve for the cracks of my broken heart. Every day we learn a little more about each other and everyday they become more a part of my home. I am so grateful to Nebraska Humane Society & Gretna Public Library for giving me the opportunity to find my girls, Abigail & Zoe.

    Click to view slideshow.

    Photos courtesy of Christina Kadlec

    After reading about the impact that this event has had on the lives of one woman and two kittens, please seriously consider creating your own Cat Café at your library. It’s a magical event that can transform the lives of both people and animals in your community.


    Photo credit: Jennifer Lockwood

    Photo credit: Jennifer Lockwood

    Today’s guest blogger is Rebecca McCorkindale. Rebecca is Gretna Public Library’s Assistant Director/Creative Director, oversees the daily operations of the Children’s Library, and serves as the 2016 Chair of the School, Children’s, and Young People’s section of the Nebraska Library Association. For more information about Rebecca and her work, visit her blog hafuboti.com or email her at hafuboti@gmail.com.

    Please note as a guest post, the views expressed here do not represent the official position of ALA or ALSC.

    If you’d like to write a guest post for the ALSC Blog, please contact Mary Voors, ALSC Blog manager, at alscblog@gmail.com.

    The post Kitty Café appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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    3. New Semester of ALSC Online Courses!

    Winter 2016 ALSC Online CoursesStart 2016 fresh with new skills and program ideas!

    Registration for Winter 2016 ALSC online courses is now open. Classes begin Monday, January 4, 2016.

    One of the courses being offered this semester are eligible for continuing education units (CEUs). The American Library Association (ALA) has been certified to provide CEUs by the International Association of Continuing Education and Training (IACET). ALSC online courses are designed to fit the needs of working professionals. Courses are taught by experienced librarians and academics. As participants frequently noted in post-course surveys, ALSC stresses quality and caring in its online education options.

    It’s Mutual: School and Public Library Collaboration
    6 weeks, January 4 – February 12, 2016
    Instructor: Rachel Reinwald, School Liaison and Youth Services Librarian, Lake Villa District Library

    Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) Programs Made Easy
    4 weeks, January 4 – 29, 2016, CEU Certified Course, 1.2 CEUs
    Instructor: Angela Young, Head of Children’s Department, Reed Memorial Library

    The Sibert Medal: Evaluating Books of Information
    6 weeks, January 4 – February 12, 2016
    Instructor: Kathleen T. Horning, Director, Cooperative Children’s Book Center, University of Wisconsin- Madison

    Detailed descriptions and registration information is available on the ALSC website at www.ala.org/alsced. Fees are $115 for personal ALSC members; $165 for personal ALA members; and $185 for non-members. Questions? Please contact ALSC Program Officer for Continuing Education, Kristen Figliulo, 1 (800) 545-2433 ext 4026.

    Image courtesy of ALSC.

    The post New Semester of ALSC Online Courses! appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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    4. Mistakes on the Road to Publication

    Learn from a debut author what mistakes to avoid on your way to being published.


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    5. More French 'books of the year'

           Another French publication gets in on the 'books of the year'-game, with Le Point announcing Notre palmarès des 25 livres de l'année 2015
           It's largely made up of the predictable usual suspects: Sansal's 2084 (which will surely be on absolutely every one of these lists), the Houellebecq, prize-winners by Binet, Énard, and de Vigan, etc. Okay, there's that Boris Johnson, too -- didn't see that coming ..... Read the rest of this post

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    6. Sketchbook Ravens

    I've been trying to work out of that box, to leap from my safe comfort zone. Not an easy thing let me tell you, despite the fact that I'm a huge fan of change and of learning new things in life and of fearlessly (ahem) exploring the unknown.

    I've also been known to dip my toe in the water, scream "argh it's freezing!!" (slightly colder than tepid) and dash wimpily off across the sand as fast as I can manage. So. Not as easy as it seems. Still, here are my (artistic) attempts at leaping into that crazily unsafe unfamiliar space ... first, in painting as loosely as possible, and second, at carving rather than drawing ...





    I'll admit that they aren't what I'd call works of art (or vastly different from my norm) but that's not what I was trying to achieve. I'm just experimenting, enjoying something new. I'll get there, bit by bit.

    These were done as part of my college course, and will be reblogged over at my children's illustration blog, so to take a peek at that, just click HERE.

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    7. That's the way the cookie crumbles

    Well it's a day late and a dollar short - but that's the way the cookie crumbles.

    But not to worry - there's lots more seasons coming up after this one.  I myself have just about reached my limit on pumpkin and pecan pies - lol!

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    8. Notes on a Holiday Weekend

    Ah, what a lovely long holiday weekend it has been! Thanksgiving on Thursday was decadent and delicious. Bookman started the day off by making us a pancake breakfast. These weren’t just any pancakes though. No sirree. These pancakes are actually supposed to be waffles but they stick to our waffle iron so badly they have become pancakes. Brownie pancakes. Walnuts and chocolate and drizzled with a cashew cream. My blood sugar is generally pretty low in the morning and let me tell you, these things pumped it up pretty darn fast! Combined with some very strong coffee, they kept us going into the middle of the afternoon when we decided it was time to have pumpkin pie.

    As you can tell, we live by the motto, “dessert first” at our house.

    The enchiladas at dinner were delicious as always and provided two days of leftovers. Normal eating will now resume until Winter Solstice.

    To compensate for all the food, I rode 75 miles/121 km on my bike trainer on Saturday and burned close to 1800 calories. It was a fun ride. There were a lot of people riding in Zwift that day because there were several group rides going on for charity that were being led by professional cyclists. I don’t really follow professional cycling but even I recognized some of the names. I did not join any rides but I did occasionally get caught up in a group especially on the uphill sections of the course where everyone slows down and the pack gets strung out along the virtual mountain.

    Also, note to self, just because Astrid is on a trainer doesn’t mean I don’t have to regularly check the tire pressure. My cadence and trainer feed kept skipping off and on and I couldn’t figure out what the problem was. The computer was working and all the tech seemed fine. Then Bookman noticed my back tire that sits against the trainer wheel thingy was looking a little flat. He set the trainer tighter against the wheel and problem solved. Today I got out the pump to discover I had only about 70 psi in the tire and there is supposed to be 120 psi! Oops.

    Thursday it snowed all day. We only got about an inch/2.5 cm but it is amazing how just that little bit of snow has changed the landscape so much. October weather lasted far into November and really, we only had about a week of November blah. November here is usually a cold, gray month. Everything has been killed by frost, all the leaves have dropped and it is drab and dull. But the leaves hung on through the first part of the month and I still had a few flowers and plants in the garden until a little over a week ago. And now we have snow. We will be getting more snow tomorrow, enough that we will have to shovel. Time to get out the winter coat and find my snowboots.

    As the snow fell outside I was inside reading Pilgrim at Tinker Creek. It just so happens the chapter was called “Winter.” I had an extra happy moment of recognition when I read this:

    I bloom indoors in the winter like a forced forsythia; I come in to come out. At night I read and write, and things I have never understood become clear; I reap the harvest of the rest of the year’s planting.

    When the weather is warm spring and summer and fall I am outdoors doing, doing, doing. There is not much time to stop and think because those flowers need to be staked, the beans need to be picked, The rose needs to be deadheaded and everything needs to be weeded. There is laundry on the line and long bike rides to far away parks and lakes, and even when I do stop and look and be still it is a very active sort of stillness. Now, indoors with snow on the ground, there isn’t as much to do and time feels thick and sticky like molasses and things get done when they get done. There is much more staring off into space and gazing out of windows giving thoughts plenty of room to cavort.

    During one of my window gazings the other day I spied a big fat squirrel. This squirrel was so big and fat that I did not immediately recognize it as being a squirrel. My eyes landed on it and I thought, there is a woodchuck in the yard, how strange. And I blinked and the woodchuck became a squirrel. The fattest squirrel I have ever seen. It is well provisioned for the winter!

    Waldo and Dickens are wearing their winter fur now too. They were both so very happy these last few days. I got out a quilt and put it on my reading chaise and spent many hours reading. There is just enough room for the three of use to curl up together. And when I get stiff from sitting and need to get up, Waldo glares at me in such a way that I am glad he is a small housecat. He is so good at these threatening looks that I think he may be a reincarnated gangster who regularly sighs, what fresh hell is this? All three of us will be very sad when I have to go back to work on Monday morning.

    However, there is a long vacation ahead. Three weeks and then I get a two-week vacation. I have no travel plans. It is the busiest time of year at work for Bookman. I will be left mostly to my own devices. Quilt, chaise, cats, a big pile of books. I can hardly wait!

    Filed under: Personal

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    9. Kishaz Reading Corner: Blood Assassin by Alexandra Ivy

    About the Book

    They are the outcasts of humanity. Blessed with power. Cursed by fate. Driven by passion. The Sentinels have returned. . .

    Out Of The Shadows

    At six-foot-three and two-hundred-fifty pounds, Fane is a natural born guardian. A flawless mix of muscled perfection and steely precision, he has devoted years of his life to protecting a beautiful necromancer. But after she found love in the arms of another, Fane has been a warrior adrift. He swears allegiance only to the Sentinels. And no woman will ever rule his heart again. . .

    Into The Fire

    Not only a powerful psychic, Serra is that rare telepath who can connect to minds through objects. When the daughter of a high-blood businessman is kidnapped, Serra agrees to help. But when she stumbles onto a conspiracy involving secrets sects and ancient relics, her life is in mortal danger--and Fane is her only hope. Is the warrior willing to risk his body, his soul, and his heart, for Serra? Or will one last betrayal destroy them both?

    Buy the Book

    Here's what I'm giving it:

    Rating: 4.5 stars

    Here's why:

    Disclaimer: I got this book from the public library and have received no compensation from the author or publisher for this honest review.

    It's getting hot in here and yes clothes definitely were coming off. But I regress.

    First I want to say that I like the main characters' names - Serra and Fane.

    The fact that they both knew how to take care of business and handle themselves in a fight was great. The romance and heat between the pair has been building for a while now and when we get to read their story in this book, let's just say fireworks have nothing on the sparks and inferno of this pairing.

    The strengths of both complement and help fill the weaknesses in each other. I read this book in one sitting and would do so again, any time.

    Would I recommend this? Yes! Tall, dark, smoldering and a warrior....checklist complete.

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    10. Korrektur-Verlag

           In the Neue Zürcher Zeitung Ingeborg Waldinger profiles (in German) the wonderful-sounding Thomas Bernhard-devoted (really devoted ...) Korrektur-Verlag -- quite an impressive undertaking.

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    11. Tallulah's Toe Shoes

    Tallulah's Toe Shoes. Marilyn Singer. Alexandra Boiger. 2013. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 48 pages. [Source: Library]

    First sentence:  Tallulah could stand like a ballerina. Tallulah could move like a ballerina, too. But Tallulah knew she'd never be a ballerina until she got a pair of pink satin toe shoes.

    Premise/plot: Little Tallulah is wanting to grow up a little too fast in this one. She really, really wants to be a 'grown up' ballerina now. She wants toe shoes of her own. Is she ready for toe shoes? Not really. This is a lesson she learns best on her own. And she'll get that chance when she finds a pair of discarded toe shoes in the trash!

    My thoughts: Still enjoying the series very much.

    Text: 3 out of 5
    Illustrations: 5 out of 5
    Total: 8 out of 10

    © 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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    12. Continuing the HolidayEating in Santa Fe...

    Friday, we drove down to Santa Fe, like we do so many years, getting into the square as the sun was going down and the town was getting ready to light the plaza, and welcome Santa...

    We ate New Mexican food coming down from Colorado, at the Chaco Grill, at the Phillips 66 gas station in Cuba.  Then once in town, we ate at Maria's Kitchen, a locals favorite for about 40 years and Robert Redford's when he comes to Santa Fe... 

    Then Saturday morning we went to the Farmer's Market in the Railyard and ate some more- apple epinadas, breakfast burritos, samples of fresh apples and cider. But we were mainly there to get more New Mexico red chili powder from our suppliers in Chimayo, who bring it in green lidded rubbermaid tubs and sell it in ziploc bags, 1 pound for $18 dollars. Down in the plaza, small bags sell for $25 in posh stores. 

    There were other good finds from the vendors outside and the holiday mercado on the other side of the tracks...

    But we didn't get cheese and you need cheese to go with the glorious bread we also purchase, so then it was off to Whole Foods, where allergic to dairy, all I could was watch others delight in the cheese choices and then go off and find some hummus and salami

    After our bread and cheese picnic, we headed back down to the plaza and pursued shops and museums....

     including Design Warehouse, a staple for Santa Fe's  infamous lit paper stars.

    Then we ate at the Burrito Company, not that we were hungry yet....

    but, who can resist handmade tortillas, chicken fajita tacos with Spanish rice and black beans, burritos and nachos?

    So then we walked it off, the others going to more museums and me, well, I strolled up Canyon Roads, spending as much time as I liked in the many art galleries..... ahhhhhhhh! 

    Where even the old adobe buildings themselves are a beautiful thing to ponder, with uneven floors and narrow doors.

    Then back together we went to a movie, ate popcorn, cause how can you not eat popcorn watching Daniel Craig, well, be James Bond...

    Also how can you love it when Jame Bond saves the girl, at the same time hate it James Bond has to save the girl?

    Well, that pondering is for another post, but after the movie we did go back to the Railyard and eat at the Second Street Brewery, where I partook of hard cider this time and Jon proved he can distinguish the subtle woody, fruity or hoppy flavors of several micro brews, presented to him in one sip taster glasses. Daughter #2 did do the driving back to the hotel. Garrett's Desert Inn, which is cheap in comparison to the other hotels down town right off the plaza.

    Of course, Sunday, stuffed or not, we walked over to our and everybody else in the knows, place to go for breakfast, Pascals. Part of the fun is the waiting outside and people watching and listening  to the conversations, I confess.

    Inside, it is their Mexican hot chocolate drinks, cornmill blueberry pancakes, huevos rancheros, and breakfast plates that make the wait forth it....

    Then we headed back to Colorado, but did stop in Cuba at the Phillip 66, at the grill, about 2 hours later for beans and onions wrapped in some more fresh made tortilla. 

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    13. A Fine Dessert....What Does This Mean for Teachers?

    Last month, there was an online conversation around the picture book, A Fine Dessert by Emily Jenkins and Sophie Blackall that expanded my thinking about the idea of teacher-as-reader/teacher-as-decision-maker.

    A Fine Dessert was published earlier this year and has received several starred reviews by major reviewers such as School Library Journal and Booklist. It is a book that is loved by children and teachers everywhere. It has been talked about as a possible Caldecott contender on the blog Calling Caldecott (here and here).

    Then issues were brought up about the book and its depiction of slavery (A Fine Dessert: Sweet Intentions, Sour Aftertaste).  Sophie Blackall responded, explaining her process and the thoughtful choices she made as illustrator.  Honestly, it was something I completely missed and overlooked and like the author of Reading While White, I am a bit disappointed with myself for missing it.

    (To catch up on the entire conversation, you can find many of the posts and a timeline of many events on Debbie Reese's blog.)

    The conversation last month was a long, intense conversation that happened mainly through blogs and Twitter.  I listened in to the conversation daily and tried to keep up with all that everyone was saying about this book and the issues surrounding it. Social media is a tricky way to have conversations like this because lots of people jump in and out of conversations and sometimes 140 characters isn't enough to dig into a topic this big.

    So, what does this mean for teachers?  As teachers we need to be readers. But we also need to be readers of discussions like this one so that we understand as much as we can about the books we put in our classrooms and in the hands of children.  Here are the big take-aways I had after thinking about this for a few weeks.  These are the things I've learned from the conversation:

    1. This is one reason many of us are on social media--to hear different perspectives, to learn from people we did not always have the opportunities to learn from, to grow in our thinking.  I've always believed strongly that teachers need to be readers, but this online controversy reminded me of the reasons I spend so much time reading book reviews, blogs, etc. Not only do I need to be a reader of books, but I need to be a reader of all that surrounds a book if I am going to make good decisions about the books to share with my students.  Whether you agree with the opinions of others or not, being aware of perspectives of others is important in our work.

    2. This is not about one book--it is much bigger than that.  Even though the conversation felt focused on a book and individual people, this is really a bigger issue than that.  And it has been an issue for a very long time.  If you aren't aware of the campaign, We Need Diverse Books or the NCTE Resolution on The Need for Diverse Children's and Young Adult Books, they are important to know about. I also think Roger Sutton's piece, We're Not Rainbow Sprinkles, in last month's Horn Book is worth a read on this issue.

    3. There was very little teacher voice in the conversation. And I believe that our voice needs to be part of this conversation.  We need to respect the teacher-as-decision-maker in these and all conversations and I didn't see that happening in this conversation. Ultimately, we are the ones who make decisions about which books are in our classroom libraries.  I remember years ago, reading the issue surrounding an Alvin Ho book. I realized then how many things we need to think about as teachers when we choose books for our classrooms.

    4. Change happens because of the conversations. It doesn't  happen overnight but it does happen. Betsy Bird recently shared a post about the new edition of Ladybug Girl and Debbie Reese shared many books whose stereotypic depictions have been changed in recent years. This is all good news for children.

    5. Social media is a tricky place to have hard conversations. Conversations without judging is key--we can have heated conversations that help us all grow and understand our own biases. It seemed that early on, as people were making sense of the issue, some people were unintentionally shut down a bit when they didn't agree immediately. And this was a conversation between a group of people who ultimately spend their lives working to get diverse, quality books into the hands of children.  This was a group of people working toward the same goals. I learned that there will be missteps in language as we each make sense of our own biases and make sense of some of these issues.  It seems we have to be a bit more careful when we are having conversations on social media--careful so that we broaden the conversation--so that we invite more people in instead of unintentionally shutting people out.

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    14. Silly Sunday! Office Party

      Silly Sunday is hosted by Sandee of Comedy Plus. 

       The rules are simple, just have fun and link up!

        Silly Sunday is also a great place to come for weekly laughs and it is a great opportunity to meet other bloggers.

     Here's how it works: Laugh and link up!

    I. Post a joke
    2. Link up with the URL to your joke in the Mister Linky's tools widget.
    3. Read my joke. :)
    4. Visit a few other bloggers in the Mister Linky's tool widget.
    5. Be sure to visit Sandee's blog linked above, read her joke, and get the Silly Sunday's Code for your blog.

    Office Party

     The annual Christmas party for employees was at the office on the last working day of the week each year. Although, it was supposed to begin at the end of the day the party began in the morning and everyone went home early to begin their holiday festivities.

    At the end of the party, one man asked another how his family was planning to celebrate the holiday and he said, "Oh, I'm not sure, but unlike you guys I don't drink, cuss, or smoke, so after I leave I will go straight home for Christmas dinner."

    The other two men looked at each other, and one replied,

    "Are you implying that we do not spend Christmas with our families?"

    "No," the man replied, then suddenly, he began
    to fidget around his desk in an irritable manner.

    One of the two men asked,

    "Is something wrong? Are you looking for something?"

    "Yes, the man said, as he ran his hands down his pants and over his suit pocket.

    "I left my damn cigarettes at the bar."

    "Hat tip" My Father.

    Thank you, Sandee of Comedy Plus. Visit Comedy Plus and link up for laughs and friends.
    And thank you for visiting A Nice Place In The Sun.

    Have a super great Sunday!

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    15. Monday Mishmash 11/30/15

    Happy Monday! Monday Mishmash is a weekly meme dedicated to sharing what's on your mind. Feel free to grab the button and post your own Mishmash.

    Here's what's on my mind today:
    1. Out of the Ashes Edits  I'm working on my edits for Out of the Ashes, the second book in the Into the Fire trilogy, which comes out in February. :)
    2. Client edit  I have a new editing client and I'll be working on her book for the next two weeks.
    3. Free Monthly Newsletter  My newsletter goes out tomorrow. If you aren't signed up to receive one but would like to, click here.
    4. Jamberry FB Party  I'm hosting a Jamberry FB party this week. There are tons of nail wraps to be won. If you'd like to be added, let me know.
    5. School Visit  I'll be visiting a fourth grade class on Friday to talk about how an idea becomes a book. I'm really looking forward to it.
    That's it for me. What's on your mind today?

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    16. Giveaway: Dead Boy by Laurel Gale (US Only)

    Dead Boy

    by Laurel Gale

    Release Date: September 29, 2015



    About the Book

    “Crow Darlingson may be dead, but he still loves air hockey, bowling, and drawing. Like other kids, his mother makes sure he finishes his homework, and he always looks forward to Halloween.
    But Crow Darlingson isn’t like other kids. He stinks. He’s got maggots. His body parts fall off at inopportune moments. And he hasn’t been able to sleep in years. Not since waking up from death.
    Despite the maggots, Crow is lonely. When Melody Plympton moves in next door, Crow finally has a chance at friendship and a shot at getting his life back from the mysterious wish-granting creature living in the park. But first there are tests to pass. And it means risking the only friend he’s had in years.
    Debut author Laurel Gale’s story about friendship fulfilled may be the most moving—and most macabre—yet.”

    To learn more about this book and see our review, go HERE.

    About the Author

    Debut author LAUREL GALE is an academic director at an ESL school. She grew up in California and Colorado and later graduated from Tulane University with a degree in anthropology. Laurel currently lives with her husband in Henderson, Nevada. Visit her website at www.laurelgale.com, and follow her Twitter at @laurel_gale.

    Learn more Website | Twitter | Goodreads

    Giveaway Details

    One winner will receive a copy of the book.

    Entering is simple, just fill out the entry form below. Winners will be announced on this site and in our monthly newsletter (sign up now!) within 30 days after the giveaway ends.

    During each giveaway, we ask entrants a question pertaining to the book. Here is the question they'll be answering in the comments below for extra entries: What are some strategies you use when confronting your fears?

    *Click the Rafflecopter link to enter the giveaway*

    a Rafflecopter giveaway
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    17. ‘The Good Dinosaur’ Underperforms At Holiday Box Office

    Adusted for inflation, "The Good Dinosaur" is Pixar's weakest launch ever at the box office.

    The post ‘The Good Dinosaur’ Underperforms At Holiday Box Office appeared first on Cartoon Brew.

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    18. these beauties....

    50% off for just TWO MORE DAYS while the BIG HOLIDAY WEEKEND SALE is still up and running! ORIGINAL DRAWINGS and more...click on over to my etsy shop and have a peek.

    *sale ends monday 11/30 at 11:59pm (est)

    0 Comments on these beauties.... as of 11/29/2015 2:07:00 PM
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    19. Momentarily

    The train is stopped and they announce
    That we will be delayed
    And momentarily we'll move;
    We're stuck here, I'm afraid.

    But "momentarily" is vague.
    Exactly, what's it mean?
    A minute, half an hour
    Or some number in between?

    The passengers start tapping feet
    But no one says a word.
    Compared to rants or raves, I guess,
    The silence is preferred.

    Then suddenly, ten minutes in,
    The train begins to move
    And builds up speed quite quickly,
    Like there's something it must prove.

    We're prisoners when we commute
    And we must serve our time, 
    A perfect opportunity
    To write a little rhyme.

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    20. tips for giving a stellar interview

    Doodle by Vicky Lorencen

    Doodle by Vicky Lorencen

    Because I enjoy eating and living indoors, I have a day job.

    I’m in the marketing and communications departments of a regional health system. Part of my job involves media relations. Most weeks, that means interacting with reporters from local television, radio and print media. Recently, we had calls from reporters Cosmo and the Huffington Post, but that was a weird week!

    What does all this have to do with you, my little parfait? Well, because I arrange interviews, I also help to prepare the interviewees, many of whom are new to the experience and naturally nervous. Since there may be interviews in your future, I thought why not share these tips with you?

    TV interview

    • Practice with a friend. Video your interview. Look for what you’re doing
      Doodle by Vicky Lorencen

      Doodle by Vicky Lorencen

      well and do more of that!

    • Look at the interviewer, not the camera.
    • Bring a copy of your book with you. Don’t assume the interviewer will have one.
    • Don’t wear checks or stripes.
    • See tips for radio interviews.

    Radio interview

    • Smile as you speak.
    • Be sure you know how long the interview will be, so you can pace yourself.
    • Ask if you can send questions ahead of time. The interviewer may really appreciate it, and you’ll know what to anticipate and how to prepare.
    • If you can’t send questions ahead, it’s absolutely okay to ask the interviewer the direction of the interview (is it more about your book, about you, about your writing journey, about advice, about your favorite panini–you just never know).
    • Prepare yourself a cheat sheet with answers to anticipated questions, but DO NOT write out every word. Make it more a “grocery list” of prompts. If you create a word for word script, you’ll be too tempted to just read it and you’ll come off sounding stiff even when we all know you are super cool.
    • Have a cup of water handy. (A bottle takes too much time to open.)
    • Thank the interviewer.

    Phone interview

    • Use a landline, if available, so you don’t have to worry about your call being dropped mid conversation.
    • Try to be relaxed and conversational. Listeners will respond to your personality, not your perfect diction.
    • See tips for a radio interview.

    For any type of interview

    It’s easy to get flustered. Make yourself a cheat sheet with basic information so if your mind goes blank, all you have to do is read–

    • The title(s) of your book(s)
    • Web site name and address
    • How readers can can contact you
    • Where your books are available
    • Details about the event or signing you’re promoting (date, time, place, etc.)

    And finally . . . 

    It’s not uncommon for an interviewer to wrap up an interview with a question like, “Is there anything else you’d like to say?”

    Think about using this as an opportunity to promote someone else’s book. David Sedaris does this every time he goes on tour for his own newest book. Isn’t that a beautiful, generous gesture? It’s a delightful chance to pay it forward for an author or illustrator who has been especially supportive of you.

    Now, if you have an agent, publicist or your publisher’s marketing team advising you, please listen to them and learn. Use my suggestions when/if they seem useful to you. Most of all, no matter how an interview turns out, remember you, my little blueberry scone, are still one of the coolest, most talented people on ten toes.

    You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.’ You must do the thing you think you cannot do. ~ Eleanor Roosevelt

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    21. Jingle Bells

    Board Book: Jingle Bells. James Lord Pierpont. Illustrated by Pauline Siewert. 2015. Candlewick. 14 pages. [Source: Review copy]

    First sentence: Jingle bells! Jingle bells! Jingle all the way! Oh, what fun it is to ride in a one-horse open sleigh.

    Premise/plot: A board book adaptation of the familiar holiday song "Jingle Bells." The illustrations feature a family of bears going on a sleigh ride. Little ones can press the button and hear the song.

    My thoughts: I enjoyed it. This family of bears is going on a sleigh ride. But on their sleigh ride they are joined by other animals: some squirrels, some badgers, some bunnies, a fox, an owl, etc. (The owl isn't the only bird making its way through the woods.) I loved the last illustration of all the animals gathered around a Christmas tree singing together as Santa in his sleigh passes by overhead. 

    © 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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    22. THREE New Release Giveaways plus Author Interviews for 11/30 - 12/6

    As November draws to a close it's hard to believe the final month of 2015 begins tomorrow! There are a lot of fantastic books releasing this month, including NOT IF I SEE YOU FIRST, ALL WE LEFT BEHIND, and VIRTUALLY IN LOVE, of which we are giving away a copy each.

    Happy Reading!
    Lindsey, Martina, Sam, Jocelyn, Erin, Lisa, Shelly, Susan, Elizabeth, Kristin, Sandra and Anisaa

    Read more »

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    23. Tomorrow is the last day to enter the Original Art give away...

    More information here: https://www.facebook.com/events/1163150117046082/

    0 Comments on Tomorrow is the last day to enter the Original Art give away... as of 11/29/2015 4:57:00 PM
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    24. Literary criticism, East African style ?

           In the Daily Nation Chris Wanjala is disappointed with where literary criticism (and hence, apparently, literature itself) seems to be headed in East Africa, explaining: How literature is dying in the hands of young people writing on pornography.
           Oh, yes, oh dear ... that must be the problem ..... Read the rest of this post

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    25. 2016 Reading Challenges: Hard Core Re-Reading

    Title: Hard Core ReReading
    Host: You, Me, and A Cup of Tea (sign up)
    Duration: January - December 2016
    # of Books: I'm signing up for Level 2, 16-25 books

    Some books I want to reread:
    • Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery
    • Anne of Avonlea by L.M. Montgomery
    • Anne of the Island by L.M. Montgomery
    • Anne of Windy Poplars by L.M. Montgomery
    • Anne's House of Dreams by L.M. Montgomery
    • Anne of Ingleside by L.M. Montgomery
    • Rainbow Valley by L.M. Montgomery
    • Rilla of Ingleside by L.M. Montgomery
    • Les Miserables (The Wretched) by Victor Hugo 
    • Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien
    • The Two Towers by J.R.R. Tolkien
    • The Return of the King by J.R.R. Tolkien
    • Ruth by Elizabeth Gaskell
    • North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell
    • Wives and Daughters by Elizabeth Gaskell
    • Alas, Babylon by Pat Frank
    • Pickwick Papers by Charles Dickens
    • Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens

    © 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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