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1. The Science of Slimy Things

A few months ago, one of my frequent program-goers made a request: Would I please be able to offer a program that includes slugs, one of his favorite animals? I was inclined to agree to the challenge, even before said child had his mother email me a photo of him with his three pet slugs. How’s a librarian to say “no” to that?

I gave some thought to how I could meet the “slug” challenge while also closing out a season of many science-themed programs. I decided to return to a favorite concept with school-agers—slime—and explore it from two different perspectives: animal biology and physics. Thus “The Science of Slimy Things” was born.

A Slug Science information slide, slide and photo by Amy Koester

A Slug Science information slide, slide and photo by Amy Koester

The program was divided roughly into two parts, the first considerably less messy than the second. We opened with an exploration of slugs—pictures, how they move, their scientific names, how they differ from snails, and the purpose of their slime. Happily, the non-fiction stacks had plenty of resources to support this exploration.

Then we got hands-on with slug slime. No, not real slug slime, as I don’t have regular access to the potionmaster’s storecupboard. Instead, I had prepared some gelatinous, fibrous slime (recipe below) the morning of the program and brought it with me to the library. It sat in the staff fridge with a note saying “NOT Jello—Do NOT eat!” until program time. Once we had talked about slugs, I doled out scoops of the orange goo on paper plates for each of the attendees. I provided them with popsicle sticks and index cards to use to explore and manipulate the slime, but many of them opted just to use their hands. I’m sure none of us are surprised.

Slug slime, photo by Amy Koester

Slug slime, photo by Amy Koester

When everyone felt that, having tested its viscous properties, they had had a good play with the slug slime, we scooped it all back up into the plastic container. After a brief stop in the restroom to wash hands, we all trooped outside to the library’s patio for the really messy activity of the program.

Our second exploration of slime was oobleck, that substance owing its name to Dr. Seuss. I had some sample oobleck to accompany the intro to this type of slime. We discussed how oobleck is a non-Newtonian fluid—that is, it has properties of both a solid and a liquid depending upon the force being exerted upon it. To demonstrate, I set a toy farm animal on top of a pool of water (it sank) and then on top of the pool of oobleck (it sank, albeit more slowly). With a minimal amount of pressure acting against the oobleck, it acts like a liquid. To demonstrate how it acts like a solid, I used a mallet as my tool. First, I slammed the mallet into the pool of water; it splashed magnificently. When I raised the mallet to slam it onto the pool of oobleck, many of the kids leaned backward in expectation of a colossal oobleck splatter. Instead, there was none; the sudden strong force of mallet against oobleck caused the oobleck to act like a solid. Cue the pronouncements of “How cool!”

After making sure the kids had retained the term “non-Newtonian fluid,” I split everyone into groups to make their own oobleck. It was a messy, experimental process, as kids had to fiddle with the balance of ingredients in their slime (recipe below). Once they all had slime, the patio was a mess of kids scooping up oobleck, rolling it into a ball in their hands, and then letting it drip through their fingers. (I am happy to report that it rained a LOT the day after the oobleck project, which had left the outdoor patio quite covered in dried slime.)

When kids had had enough of the messy oobleck, I handed out empty prescription containers so that kids could take a bit of slime home with them. Kids bottled it up, then went their merry way to wash hands.

My program-goer who requested the slug aspect of the program said he was very happy with how the program had turned out—he liked getting to play with slug slime, and the oobleck was a great surprise as well. Talk about enjoying the finer things in life.

The Recipe for Slug Slime:

  • 7 cups water
  • 10 tsp Metamucil powder

Pour the water into a stovetop-safe saucepan, then stir in the Metamucil until dissolved. When the mixture is dissolved, turn on the burner to medium-high heat. Heat the mixture for 5-7 minutes, stirring frequently, until it reaches your desired consistency. The mixture will be gelatinous and gloopy. Let cool before handling.

The Recipe for Oobleck:

  • 1 to 2 cups cornstarch
  • 1 cup water

Pour 1 cup of the cornstarch into a mixing bowl. Slowly add in the water, gently stirring with a spoon or with hands. Keep adding water until the oobleck starts to thicken; you’ll know it’s ready when you tap on it and it hardens. If the oobleck is too runny, add more cornstarch; if too thick, add more water.

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2. Tuesday's Question- When Are You Most Like Yourself?


Hello and welcome to Tuesday's Question
 

Tuesday’s Question is as old as this blog, which I started writing sometime in 2007, thinking it would be a great way to get to know more about the people reading my blog. But, within a short period of time, I realized my readers answers were just the icing on the cake, because after I started visiting their blogs, I learned more about them, and as a result stumbled upon valued friendships, and that can't be bad-

I know you already know what Tuesday's Question is this week, but I'm going to repeat it anyway-

When Are You Most Like Yourself?  I can't wait for your answer, but, I'll go first-

I am most like myself when I'm writing, visiting my son, and spending time with friends. Although, I'm also feel more like myself when I'm reminded of who I am, which happens when I'm in the presence of exquisite, expansive, and astonishing places on earth, because they inhibit the largest life on our planet, they stimulate my imagination and encourage my soul.

For instance, hearing silence although you're sitting in front of a roaring coastline, or stretched out on a bed of clover with birds gossiping about, and then staring into a black sky at universal diamonds, our stars, which give us light, sound, knowledge, love, peace, that only our souls hear, when we are are still enough to listen to silence.   

Alright, I may have fallen in too deep....sorry. But, it's still your turn....:)

When Are You Most Like Yourself?  And you can answer with one word or one sentence.

Thank you for visiting A Nice Place In The Sun, and for reading Tuesday's Question.


 We look forward to reading your answers- I will reply to each answer, but unfortunately, I have days when I cannot get back to you quickly. Therefore, if my reply is belated, I assure you your answer is important to me, and it will be acknowledged- Thank-you for your patience.
                                                       
                                                       

 And all comments are appreciated... as well as encouraged- Just kidding. (But, not really.)                                                   
Have a day that makes you feel full of joy~


                                                    










                                                 


 

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3. John Green Partners With Bill Gates For a Clean Water Fundraising Campaign

John Green & Bill GatesAuthor John Green has partnered with other writers in the past. His newest collaborator isn’t a writer; it’s Microsoft co-founder and philanthropist Bill Gates.

According to Time, Green has launched a campaign on water.org with a fundraising goal set at $100,000. This will help thousands of people in Ethiopia gain access to clean water.

Should Green and the “nerdfighter” community prove successful, Gates has pledged to match the amount. Gates announced on Twitter that he was “happy to help reduce world suck!”

(more…)

New Career Opportunities Daily: The best jobs in media.

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4. The Red Pencil, by Andrea Davis Pinkney






We begin with Amira's 12 birthday.  She is finally old enough to wear a toob yet young enough to enjoy her Dando lifting her to the sky.  Amira lives on a farm in South Darfur surrounded by friends and family, but changes are afoot.  Amira's best friend Halima and her family are packing their things and moving to the city.  They say the city has more opportunities.  Amira wishes she could go with them to Nyala and attend the Gad Primary School with Halima.  Amira is not so sure about her Muma's old fashioned ways.

                  "She does not like the idea of Gad,
                    or any place where girls learn
                    to read
                    or write,
                    in Arabic or English
                    or think beyond a life
                    of farm chores and marriage." (p. 13 arc)

Soon, the extra chores of 12, missing Halima, and trying to solve the ongoing bickering between her father and villager Old Anwar seem anything but troubling.  The relative peace of her village is shattered when the Janjaweed  attack, changing Amira's very existence.

Amira and the other survivors must pick up the pieces and leave the ruins of the village to find safety.  Their trek takes them to the refugee camp Kalma - the Displaced People's Camp.  Amira doesn't like this space surrounded by fences and barbed wire.

                    "Everywhere I look,
                      I see
                      people, people, and more people.

                      I'm glad to stop walking.
                      I'm glad we have finally reached who-knows-where.
                      But already I do not like this place." (arc p. 139)

It would be easy enough to give up in such a desperate place with no real end in sight.  Amira and her family have lost so much.  But when Amira meets Miss Sabine and is given a gift of a red pencil she discovers some things about herself, her family and those on the journey with her.

Written in free verse, The Red Pencil is a story of family and loss and hope.  It was eye opening for me on a number of levels.  One is that it is so easy for me not to see what is happening in the world from my perch here in NYC.  The horrors of Darfur in the early 2000s seemed so far away in time and place that I wonder how many people in North America are aware of what was happening.  I find myself very impressed with the deftness of Andrea Davis Pinkney's hand when it came to writing the passages dealing with the violence.  She truly tells the story from a 12 year old's point of view, and the free verse format allows for silences that speak volumes.  The illustrations by Shane W. Evans are playful within this serious book and somehow bring a feeling of safety to the pages.

A must read for librarians, teachers and students.


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5. Hiring an Editor

Is it necessary for you to have your manuscript professionally edited before submitting? 

http://www.adventuresinyapublishing.com/2014/07/should-you-hire-editor-before-querying.html

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6. Dav Pilkey Stars in a Banned Books Week Video

What is Dav Pilkey’s advice for expressing concern about a book? In the video embedded above, the creator of the Captain Underpants series live draws and explains that people should not impede others from accessing books regardless of whatever personal feelings they may have.

Pilkey hopes people will realize that widespread censorship is not the answer; the appropriate response is to remember this statement: “I don’t want my children to read this book.” What are your thoughts?

New Career Opportunities Daily: The best jobs in media.

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7. College Introduction

It’s your first day of college and, in your first class, your professor does something unusual—she has you all sit on the floor in a big circle and introduce yourself, as if you were in kindergarten. When it gets to be your turn, you say, “My name is _____. Every day I like to _____ in purple and yellow______.” Amused, the professor asks you to explain. So you do.

writing-promptsWant more creative writing prompts?

Pick up a copy of A Year of Writing Prompts: 365 Story Ideas for Honing Your Craft and Eliminating Writer’s Block. There’s a prompt for every day of the year and you can start on any day.

Order now from our shop.

 

 

 

 

 

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8. Lee & Low’s Favorite Banned Books

Banned Book Week started yesterday.

For those of you who don’t know,

“Banned Books Week is an annual event celebrating the freedom to read. Typically held during the last week of September, it highlights the value of free and open access to information. Banned Books Week brings together the entire book community –- librarians, booksellers, publishers, journalists, teachers, and readers of all types –- in shared support of the freedom to seek and to express ideas, even those some consider unorthodox or unpopular.” –American Library Association

Here at Lee & Low Books, we’ve compiled a list of some of our favorite banned/challenged titles (in no particular order).

  1. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee – banned for use of racial slurs and profanity.
  2. Harry Potter (series) by J.K. Rowling – banned for depictions of witchcraft and wizardry/the occult.
  3. the absolutely true diary of a part-time indianThe Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie – banned for racism, sexually explicit language, and profanity.
  4. The Kite Runner by Khaleid Hosseini– banned for depictions of homosexuality, profanity, religious viewpoints, and sexual content.
  5. Our Bodies, Ourselves by Boston Women’s Health Book Collective – banned for language and “promoting homosexuality.”
  6. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck– banned for profanity and sexual references.
  7. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’engle – banned for offensive language and use of magic.
  8. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury – banned for language. a wrinkle in time
  9. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck – banned for profanity, racial slurs, and “blasphemous language”,
  10. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley – banned for sexual content.
  11. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky – banned for drug usage, sexually explicit content and unsuited to age group
  12. Summer of my German Soldier by Bette Greene – banned for language and racism.
  13. The Giver by Lois Lowry – banned for “religious view point, suicide, unsuited to age group, and sexually explicit content.”
  14. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins – banned for “violence, sexually explicit content, and being unsuited to the age group.”
  15. Nickel and Dimed by Barbara Ehrenreich– banned for “drugs, inaccurate, offensive language, political viewpoint, and religious viewpoint”
  16. The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big, Round Things by Carolyn Mackler – banned for “offensive language, sexually explicit, and unsuited to age group.”the earth, my butt, and other big round things

Here are some other resources for Banned Book Week:

ALA: Frequently Challenged Books of the 21st century

Banned Books that Shaped America

Book Challenges Suppress Diversity


Filed under: Book Lists by Topic, Lee & Low Likes Tagged: Banned Book Week, Book Lists by Topic, books, Censorship, diversity issues, Harper Lee

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9. The Late Scholar (2014)

The Late Scholar. Jill Paton Walsh. 2014. St. Martin's Press. 368 pages. [Source: Library]

I enjoyed The Late Scholar enough while reading it, for the most part, but the more I think about it, the more disappointed I am. I have liked or enjoyed Jill Paton Walsh's sequels to Dorothy Sayer's Lord Peter mysteries. The Late Scholar is set in the 1950s. (I'm not sure if it's early, mid, or late 50s. But Queen Elizabeth is on the throne, I believe.) The novel opens with the Duke of Denver (aka Lord Peter Wimsey) learning that he is a Visitor at Oxford. He is being called upon to settle a dispute among the fellows. The person--ultimately one of many suspects, I suppose--who initially requested his interference comes to regret it. Lord Peter is thorough. He doesn't want to just cast a vote on a controversial topic without any thought. He wants to study the situation, learn both sides, draw his own conclusions about what is best. The dispute is about selling a medieval book to get the money to buy land next door that has come up for sell. Is land more valuable to the college than one book in the library? Or is the ancient book more valuable to the college than a piece of real estate? It wouldn't be a mystery book if it didn't turn to violence and murder. Lord Peter, Harriet Vane, and Bunter must follow all the clues to catch a murderer or two.

There were a few things that felt a bit off, that kept this one from feeling like a genuine, authentic Lord Peter/Harriet Vane mystery. I allow some change would be natural enough. Two decades would change a person, would change a couple. But the changes in a way have a very surface feel to them. I'm not sure the characters have the depth that they need, they are very much reliant on familiarity with the original.

I have not reread the whole (original) series, but, Lord Peter seems changed and not always for the better. I could not show you a passage where Lord Peter reveals a personal faith in God. But I have a feeling I would have remembered if Lord Peter revealed a cold mockery for Christianity and/or stated openly and unashamedly that he did NOT believe in God. There were a few uncomfortable scenes in Late Scholar where Peter's atheism comes to light, I suppose. It was done in an almost ha, ha, don't be silly, of course I don't believe in God kind of way. It just struck me as wrong. I'm not saying that I consider Lord Peter evangelical. But. I always got the impression that he believed there was a God, that at the very least he was agnostic. The reason this strikes me as wrong is that Dorothy Sayers was a Christian, she wrote Christian books. I've read some of her theological essays and they are quite good. I just don't see HER Lord Peter being one to make light of or mock Christianity or the Bible or the fundamental belief that there is a God. Of course times have changed. Decades have passed since his creation, so maybe modern readers assume that naturally Lord Peter is "smart enough" to have outgrown any idea of God.

© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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10. Lenny's Baby picture


Sometimes a character shows up with his own story to tell. Lenny must have one, because he won't leave me alone. I think he just loves to share.

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11. Bonjour Tristesse

Bonjour Tristesse Francoise Sagan, translated from the French by Irene Ash

Cecile loves the carefree and glittering lifestyle she and her father live in Paris. The summer is shaping up to be perfect--her father, his current mistress, and Cecile are spending the summer in a rented beach house. There’s even Cyril-- a nearby university student that Cecile tastes first love with. But then her father invites Anne, a friend of his late wife, to join them and it turns sour. Anne’s understand elegance forces out the mistress Elsa and the lifestyle that Cecile loves. When her father and Anne get engaged, Cecile, Cyril and Elsa hatch a plot to break them up, with tragic consequences.

While Sagan has some interesting and insightful comments about the type of people in Cecile’s life, especially her father, her age when writing this really shows. It’s written as Cecile looking back, mostly regretful for her actions, but then you realize that only a year has passed, and Sagan herself was only 18 when the book came out (younger when she wrote it) so while it well captures the emotions and logic behind Cecile, the older-and-wiser gets a bit tiresome as readers that actually are older and wiser will realize she still doesn’t get it, and it’s pretty obvious that it’s the author who still doesn’t get it, not the character.

THAT SAID, I did like a lot about it and I think it would lend itself really well to a modern YA-reworking, and it would work really well when aimed at an age-contemporary audience instead of adults. It’s a short book (without back matter, it’s only 130 pages in a small trim size) and she captures the languid summer beach atmosphere really well.

Not sure if I recommend it, but I am glad I read it.

Book Provided by... my local library

Links to Amazon are an affiliate link. You can help support Biblio File by purchasing any item (not just the one linked to!) through these links. Read my full disclosure statement.

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12. Gelar Pulau Terbaik di Asia Jatuh Kepada Bali

Pulau Bali kembali meraih penghargaan sebagai Pulau Terbaik di Asia 2014 versi majalah pariwisata internasional, "Travel+Leisure".

pantai kuta bali
Pantai Kuta Bali
Wakil Gubernur Bali, I Ketut Sudikerta mengatakan bahwa penghargaan tersebut sebagai bentuk kepercayaan dunia internasional atas komitmen Pemerintah Provinsi Bali bersama dengan pelaku pariwisata dan masyarakat di dalam memajukan pariwisata di Pulau Dewata.


"Kita harus bangun destinasi yang bagus, benahi destinasi yang sudah ada, ciptakan keindahan Bali dan melestarikan budaya serta peran keamanan," kata Sudikerta ditemui usai menerima komponen pelaku pariwisata yang tergabung dalam Gabungan Industri Pariwisata Indonesia (GIPI) Bali di Denpasar, Sebagaimana dilansir Kompas.com selasa (23/9/2014).

Dia menjelaskan bahwa upaya tersebut diharapkan bisa meningkatkan kepercayaan dunia internasional terhadap perkembangan pariwisata Bali yang berdampak terhadap pembangunan Pulau Dewata.
taman ujung bali
Taman Ujung Bali
Informasi dari laman "Travel+Leisure", Pulau Dewata menempati posisi pertama pulau terbaik di Asia dan menjadi satu-satunya pulau di Asia yang masuk ke jajaran 10 besar pulau terbaik dunia.

Di jajaran 10 besar tingkat dunia, Bali menempati posisi kelima dengan perolehan nilai sebesar 86,82 setelah Pulau Santorini di Yunani, Maui dan Kauai di Hawaii dan the Big Island juga di Hawaii, Amerika Serikat.

Pada laman tersebut juga disebutkan bahwa perolehan nilai didapatkan dari para pembaca majalah pariwisata itu melalui quisioner yang telah disebarkan mulai 2 Desember 2013 hingga 31 Maret 2014.

Penilaian tersebut berdasarkan pada sejumlah kategori di antaranya pemandangan alam dan pantai, aktivitas wisata, makanan dan restoran, hingga masyarakat. 

Jati Luwih Bali
Pulau Dewata menempati posisi pertama secara berturut-turut sejak tahun 2009, 2010, dan 2011. Urutan kedua pada tahun 2012 dan ketiga tahun 2013. Situs "Travel+Leisure" juga menempatkan Bali sebagai "Hall of Fame" karena masuk di 10 besar selama enam tahun berturut-turut.

Sementara itu Ketua GIPI Bali, Ngurah Wijaya mengatakan bahwa penghargaan tersebut selain menjadi kebanggaan tetapi juga kewajiban pemerintah, masyarakat dan pelaku pariwisata untuk mempertahankan budaya. "Untuk mempertahankan pariwisata, budaya juga harus dipertahankan," kata Ngurah Wijaya.

pantai soka bali
Pantai Soka Bali

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13. Alexander and the very questionable, how much exactly does this movie have in common with the book?












Did you know that a movie adaption of Judith Viorst's classic picture book, Alexander, and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, is on the way to your theaters October 10th? While the film definitely deals with a boy named Alexander who is having a rotten day, from the previews, it is obvious that whoever wrote this film took some liberties with the script.  Sure, it appears that Alexander's day begins badly, with gum stuck in his hair, but after that, who knows how much of the movie will stay true to the book?


Of course, this isn't a huge surprise. Most movie adaptions make changes to the original. Some are good, some make little sense. Of course, the big challenge in adapting a book like Alexander, is that the book is only 32 pages long! In order to make a feature length film, the story would need some extra scenes, and with Steve Carell playing Alexander's dad, some of the best scenes may not even center around Alexander himself!


Of course, this is not the first time a picture book has been adapted into a very different movie.



Audiences loved Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, when it came to theaters, but while the movie was a madcap adventure dealing with a crazy scientist who creates a machine that makes food fall from the sky, but Judi Barrett's book has little resemblance to the movie.


Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, the picture book, is a quiet story about a grandfather who tells his grandchildren a tall tale about a town where the weather blows in as breakfast, lunch and dinner.







Maurice Sendak's classic picture book, Where the Wild Things Are, tells the story of Max, who goes wild while wearing a wolf suit. His behavior frustrates his mother, who sends him to bed without supper. Max's room turns into a forest with a river, and he sails to an island of "Wild Things" who make him their king. 


The movie, Where the Wild Things Are, shares this plot, but the Wild Things themselves often seem more moody than wild. Some people really loved this movie, and it was beautiful to look at, but it has been hotly debated as to whether the film had the kid appeal that the book continues to have.


What picture books would you love to see on the big screen? If you were to write the script, would you change anything?


-Posted by Miss Jessikah





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14. Ken Follett, Naomi Klein, & Hervé Tullet Debut On the Indie Bestseller List

Ken FollettWe’ve collected the books debuting on Indiebound’s Indie Bestseller List for the week ending September 21, 2014–a sneak peek at the books everybody will be talking about next month.

(Debuted at #1 in Hardcover Fiction) Edge of Eternity by Ken Follett: “Edge of Eternity, the finale, covers one of the most tumultuous eras of all: the 1960s through the 1980s, encompassing civil rights, assassinations, Vietnam, the Berlin Wall, the Cuban Missile Crisis, presidential impeachment, revolution—and rock and roll.” (September 2014)

(more…)

New Career Opportunities Daily: The best jobs in media.

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15. Back to School


There's just something about new stationary. Going back to school used to mean all those fun new things - new peachy folders (with that eternal sports design in a yellowy tone), new pencils and a new blue canvas snap-ring binder. Now it mostly just means a new computer class for my kids. But these critters are having fun regardless. They probably like that new school smell as much as I did.

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16. Review

There is a review of "the Second in line" in the podcast, comics for grownups": http://comicsforgrownups.tumblr.com/post/98148891466/episode-41

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17. ‘The Huffington Post’ Examines Banned Books in 5 Infographics

The Huffington PostThe Huffington Post has created five infographics (embedded below) in honor of Banned Books Week; these images examine frequently challenged titles, reasons for challenges, authors whose books have received the most challenges, and book challenge activities by state. The team sourced the data for these projects from the American Library Association (ALA).

Why do people feel such outrage against certain books? The ALA website offers the following explanation: “books usually are challenged with the best intentions—to protect others, frequently children, from difficult ideas and information.”

(more…)

New Career Opportunities Daily: The best jobs in media.

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18. The Ship of Brides by Jojo Moyes

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THE SHIP OF BRIDES by Jojo Moyes

 

1946. Four women from Australia are bound for England along with 650 other war brides on the HMS Victoria. This ship is not only transporting brides, but naval officers as well. Rules of honor, duty, and separation are strictly enforced but what happens within the confines of this ship will leave a lasting impact on all of their lives. A gorgeous historical novel told from the point of view of four unforgettable women; pregnant Margaret, wealthy Avice, teenage Jean and quiet Frances. Frances was by far my favorite character but I was fascinated by all of the women Jojo Moyes created. The Ship of Brides is based on real events, women traveling great distances by sea to meet up with their GI-husbands, most leaving their entire family behind for men they barely knew. Jojo Moyes is steadily becoming one of my favorite authors and the stories she weaves are absolutely stunning in detail with honest characters, captivating plots, and superb writing.

IMG_3542

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19. Book Review: The Family Romanov: Murder, Rebellion & The Fall of Imperial Russia, by Candace Fleming (Schwartz & Wade, 2014)

Recommended for ages 10 and up.

Candace Fleming is a master at writing narrative nonfiction that is entertaining as well as informative, and her newest book on the tragic and doomed Romanovs is a worthy successor to her last foray into nonfiction, the highly acclaimed Amelia Lost

Fleming expertly weaves together the intimate life of Russia's last czar and his family with the saga of the revolution brewing underneath their royal noses, beginning with workers' strikes in 1905 and leading up to Lenin's seizing power in 1917.  Interspersed with her compelling narrative are original documents from the time that tell the stories of ordinary men and women swept up in the dramatic events in Russia. 

Unlike many books for young people, which seem to romanticize the Romanovs, Fleming doesn't try to make the family into martyrs.  Indeed, it is hard to have a lot of sympathy for the Russian royal family after reading Fleming's account.  Fleming describes Nicholas as a young boy as "shy and gentle," unable to stand up to his "Russian bear of a father."  His wife, the Empress Alexandra, a German princess raised to be a proper Englishwoman under the wing of Queen Victoria, never felt comfortable with the excesses of the bejeweled, partying Russian aristocracy, and encouraged her husband to retreat to Tsarskoe Selo, a park 15 miles and a world apart from St. Petersburg.  Fleming brings us inside of their privileged--but also strangely spartan--life (for example the children were bathed with cold water in the mornings and slept on army cots in their palace!), one in which they had almost no contact with outsiders. 

Fleming manages to integrate her narrative history of the Romanov family with the larger history of the turbulent times in Russia, as the czar is forced to resign and he and his family are exiled to Siberia, fleeing in a train disguised as a "Japanese Red Cross Mission" so that the royal family would not be captured by angry peasants.  She skips back and forth from the family's saga to what is happening in the capital, with plenty of original documents such as an excerpt from journalist John Reed's first-hand account of the swarming of the Winter Palace as well as excerpts from many other diaries.

In my favorite quote in the book, Fleming discusses how Lenin nationalized the mansions and private homes throughout the country, while the owners were forced to live in the servants' quarters.  She quotes one ex-servant as saying:
"I've spent all my life in the stables while they live in their beautiful flats and lie on soft couches playing with their poodles...no more of that, I say!  It's my turn to play with poodles now."  

Whatever one's feelings about the Romanovs, one cannot help but be moved by the account of their cruel assassination in the basement of their quarters in Siberia.  Particularly ironic is the fate of the royal children, who did not die immediately because they were hiding the family jewels in their camisoles and other undergarments.  This layer of jewels unwittingly created a bullet proof vest that protected them initially, until they were finally murdered with bayonets and then with gunshots.  The bodies were immediately hidden in the woods, where the remains were not found until 1979 and then kept secret until the fall of communism in Russia.  Ironically, the Romanovs have since been canonized by the Orthodox Church in Russia.

The book is abundantly illustrated with archival photographs.  An extensive bibliography is included, as well as a discussion of primary and secondary sources.  Fleming also includes suggestions of websites on the Romanovs, as well as source notes for each chapter and an index.

Highly recommended for middle school and high school students.




0 Comments on Book Review: The Family Romanov: Murder, Rebellion & The Fall of Imperial Russia, by Candace Fleming (Schwartz & Wade, 2014) as of 9/23/2014 9:42:00 AM
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20. Strike Three (a post-apocalyptic novel) listing at Booklife (link)

Check out my Strike Three listing at Booklife (Publishers Weekly): http://booklife.com/project/strike-three-2292

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21. Guest Post & Giveaway: Mari Mancusi on When the Problem Is The Market, Not the Manuscript

By Mari Mancusi
for Cynthia Leitich Smith's Cynsations

Ten years ago, when I began my publishing journey, I was under the assumption that if you wrote it (and it was good) it would sell.

Sell to a New York publisher.

Be stocked at Barnes and Noble and (sniff!) Borders.

Be discovered by readers.

Happily ever after, the end.

And it certainly seemed that way when my tween YA time travel novel, The Camelot Code, sold to Dutton/Penguin at auction in 2007. It was a sweet two-book deal and the editor was very excited about the project.

The gist was this: a teen King Arthur ends up in our world, Googles himself and finds out his true destiny, then decides he’d rather play football than pull the sword from the stone. And it’s up to our intrepid 21st century heroine, Sophie, to get him back in time before history is changed forever.

All was going well, until through a series of events, a change was made. The editor asked if I would do the second book in the contract first—as it seemed more “timely” – (and, of course, a time travel novel is supposedly timeless).

So I did—writing Gamer Girl instead. And when that was finished I went back to my precious Camelot Code, excited to finally finish it and get it out there at last.

But at that point, a year and a half after the original deal was made, the YA market had changed. Publishers had realized there were profits to be made on the so-called crossover audience (i.e. the adult readers) and YA started growing up—growing edgier and darker and deeper. And when my editor read my version of The Camelot Code, she realized she could not publish this book as it was and asked for a major revision.

To make matters worse, as I was revising, my editor moved houses. Then Dutton was reorganized into a boutique imprint that put out only a few titles a year. Many of the current authors were sent to Dial to finish out their contracts.

Me and my ill-fitting book, however, were dumped.

“No problem!” I said at the time. “I’ll just sell it to someone else!” Certainly a novel that sold at auction the first time would have some takers the second time around.

But I was wrong. No one wanted it. Everyone said, “It’s not middle grade, it’s not young adult. We don’t have a place for this book in our line.”

With Cory Putnam Oakes & Christina Soontornvat at Lindsey Lane's launch.
I refused to give up at first—scouring the Internet for YA publishers I might not have heard of and forwarding their names to my agent. To her credit, she was intrepid, sending out manuscript after manuscript, long after I’m sure she gave up on the book.

But the rejections still came in. Each one a knife, twisting in my gut. The worst part, I think, was that I knew it was a good book.

The problem was the market. No one was buying light, funny, tween. They wanted the next Hunger Games. And I was not going to sell this book by sheer force of will.

I felt like a failure. I felt like I’d wasted years of my life. I lost faith in the publishing world and I felt adrift in my career. If a book I felt so strongly about couldn’t sell, what made me think I could ever master this publishing thing? Yes, in the meantime, I was selling other books to other publishers, but The Camelot Code remained a big Excalibur in my side.

Then one day my husband took me aside. He brushed away my tears and reminded me of all the good The Camelot Code had brought me. The original advance money had allowed me to move to New York City, a lifelong dream, and the place I met him.

When the manuscript was rejected by my editor and I realized I wasn’t getting paid, I ended up moving in with him to save money, bringing us closer than ever.

And eventually, out of this cursed book, came the most precious blessing of all. My three-year-old daughter Avalon. Imagine—an entire human being—on this planet—all because of a publishing deal gone south. Of course I had to give her an Arthurian-inspired name, right?

Publishing can be a brutal industry. But roses can still grow in the cracks in the pavement. And it’s important for authors to look at the big picture. To remember that sometimes it’s just timing or trends or an editor having a bad day—not a reflection of the quality of your book.

Sometimes good books just don’t fit the mold.

And we can’t let that break us or cause us to lose faith in our work and ourselves.

Now, seven years after the original sale, I’ve decided to self publish The Camelot Code. To make it available to readers for the very first time. And who knows, maybe New York is right—maybe there’s no market for this tween book and I won’t sell a single copy.

But maybe they’re wrong. I’m just grateful for the opportunity to find out. That, in and of itself, feels like a bit of a happy ending.

Deanna Roy, Mari & Sam Bond chat Alternative Publishing Options with Austin SCBWI.

About The Camelot Code

The Camelot Code is available in print or digital formats on all major platforms, including Overdrive for libraries and Ingram. It is age-appropriate for 10+.

To purchase, see paperback at Amazon, paperback at Barnes and Noble, Kindle, Nook, Kobo, iTunes, and Overdrive

All fourteen-year-old gamer girl Sophie Sawyer wants to do is defeat Morgan Le Fay in her favorite Arthurian videogame. She has no idea the secret code sent via text message is actually a magical spell that will send her back in time to meet up with a real life King Arthur instead.

Of course Arthur's not king yet--he hasn't pulled the sword from the stone--and he has no idea of his illustrious destiny.

And when a twist of fate sends him forward in time--to modern day high school--history is suddenly in jeopardy.

Even more so when Arthur Googles himself and realizes what lies in store for him if he returns to his own time--and decides he'd rather try out for the football team instead.

Now Sophie and her best friend Stuart find themselves in a race against time--forced to use their 21st century wits to keep history on track, battle a real-life version of their favorite videogame villain, and get the once and future king back where he belongs. Or the world, as they know it, may no longer exist.

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22. Tonight, we eat like kings!

squirrel-football-4501

Autumn! My favorite time of the year!

I’m not exactly what you would call a football fan, although I’m trying this year. And by trying I mean learning what a down is… yeah, I’m that behind.

I am, however, very excited about by the prospect of cooler temps and therefore many forays into the kitchen to attack new recipes.

Oh, and Halloween! Did I mention Halloween?


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23. My Thoughts: Open Road Summer by Emery Lord

4 soft and spicy frosted gingersnaps.

Cover Love:  It's pretty good but a pretty typical contemporary romance cover.

Why I Wanted to Read This:
I had an egalley of this that expired last spring but I was in the mood for a contemporary romance.  So I checked it out from my public library before I went on a weekend vacation and whipped right through it.  Here's they synopsis from GoodReads:
After breaking up with her bad-news boyfriend, Reagan O’Neill is ready to leave her rebellious ways behind. . . and her best friend, country superstar Lilah Montgomery, is nursing a broken heart of her own. Fortunately, Lilah’s 24-city tour is about to kick off, offering a perfect opportunity for a girls-only summer of break-up ballads and healing hearts. But when Matt Finch joins the tour as its opening act, his boy-next-door charm proves difficult for Reagan to resist, despite her vow to live a drama-free existence. This summer, Reagan and Lilah will navigate the ups and downs of fame and friendship as they come to see that giving your heart to the right person is always a risk worth taking. A fresh new voice in contemporary romance, Emery Lord’s gorgeous writing hits all the right notes.
Romance?: Yes.

My Thoughts:
This was not a deep romance, but not too light and fluffy either.  Reagan had a lot to figure out in her life.  She was a very likeable protagonist, until the typical misunderstanding late in the book.  Then she reverted too much into the whiny, "he did me wrong" type of YA romantic lead that drives me nuts.  Luckily the author didn't keep her that way for long.

I adored Matt and Dee (that is what Reagan calls Lilah).  Reagan has a lot of support in her life and the drama that she is trying to escape from is very much of her own making.  But, she does recognize that for what it is and knows she needs to fix that part of her life.  Dee is a great best friend and never pushes Reagan to the side for her fame.  She always there to help out or just be someone to lean on.  She is practically perfect.

And Matt is an amazing book boyfriend.  So sweet and earnest, but with a few of his own demons he is struggling with overcoming.  Reagan and Matt are very good for each other.

One of my favorite scenes, the kind that brought tears to my eyes, is one between Reagan and her step-mother at the end of the book.  I think it was just what Reagan needed to put her past finally behind and take steps towards her future.

To Sum Up:  I am going to buy this for my library.  There are a few mature things for middle school readers, but there is a lot that can be learned by a protagonist like Reagan.  Mostly that you can overcome your past.  It doesn't have to always define you!

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24. The Hundreds Continues To Rip Off Animation Artwork For Its Clothes

The Los Angeles fashion label The Hundreds has been caught in the past selling merchandise with traced images from animated films. Is it legal? Is it ethical?

0 Comments on The Hundreds Continues To Rip Off Animation Artwork For Its Clothes as of 9/23/2014 2:04:00 PM
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25. Literary Arts Has Acquired the Wordstock Festival

wordstockLiterary Arts, Inc. has acquired the Wordstock Festival.

The nonprofit organization plans to devote the next three years to overseeing an annual literary festival as its pilot project. Wordstock will be re-launched on November 07, 2015 at the Portland Art Museum. Powell’s Books will serve as a community partner for this.

Here’s more from the press release: “Wordstock began in 2005 and is the largest celebration of literature and literacy in the Pacific Northwest. Each year, the festival brings together thousands of readers and hundreds of small presses, independent publishers, nonprofits, and independent booksellers, along with 150+ authors.”

New Career Opportunities Daily: The best jobs in media.

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