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1. ‘How to Train Your Dragon 2′ and Mickey Mouse Shorts Dominate Annie Awards

After a difficult week for DreamWorks in which they announced their largest layoff ever, the studio dominated the Annie Awards tonight.

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2. Universal Bureau of Copyrights review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Bertrand Laverdure's unusual little novel, Universal Bureau of Copyrights.

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christopher john farley


Many people may know, and recognize Christopher J. Farley as the Senior Editor for the Wall Street Journal, where he penned informative editorials, and conducted numerous interviews with famous actors and musicians. Today, we want to spotlight Mr. Farley for his work in children’s literature, as author of GAME WORLD, a  middle-grade fantasy novel loaded with diverse characters and adventure!

On this, the 1st Day of February, 2015, The Brown Bookshelf is honored to spotlight:


Born in Kingston, Jamaica, and raised in Brockport, New York, Christopher John Farley is a former music critic and senior editor for Time magazine, and a graduate of Harvard University, where he worked as an editor on the staff of the Harvard Lampoon. He’s currently a senior editor at the Wall Street Journal. Christopher John Farley is the author of “Game World,” a children’s fantasy adventure tale which Kirkus Reviews called “Exhilarating, thought-provoking and one of a kind” and The Wall Street Journal dubbed “Narnia for the social media generationGameworld-e1420131739477.” He is also the author of two novels for adults, “My Favorite War” and “Kingston by Starlight,” and a number of nonfiction books including the national bestseller “Aaliyah: More than a Woman,” which was adapted into a hit movie for Lifetime television. Farley co-wrote and co-edited the book “The Blues” (Harper Collins) the companion volume to Martin Scorsese’s PBS documentary series (Scorsese called him a “great biographer and critic”). Farley’s short fiction has been featured in a number of anthologies including “The Vintage Book of War Fiction,” a survey of the best war stories of the last 100 years, and “Kingston Noir,” a short story collection that came out in 2012. Farley was a consulting producer for “Mr. Dynamite: The Rise of James Brown,” a critically-acclaimed HBO documentary on soul singer James Brown. He has won numerous awards for his work including honors from the National Association of Black Journalists and the Deadline Club of New York, and his biography “Before the Legend: The Rise of Bob Marley” was nominated for an NAACP Image Award. *



From School Library Journal:

here (finally!) is a middle-grade action novel that showcases West Indian mythology and features protagonists of color: an Afro-Caribbean boy, Hispanic-Caribbean boy who also is a wheelchair user, and a Korean girl.

From Booklist:

Farley blends video gaming and Jamaican folklore in this intense, fast-paced middle-grade fantasy that is sure to quickly grab readers.


Thank you, Christopher Farley, for your contribution to children’s literature!


Learn more about Christopher J. Farley at his website:  http://cjfarley.com

You can also follow him on twitter:  http://https://twitter.com/cjfarley





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4. Literary prizes in ... India

       In The Hindu Jaya Bhattacharji Rose considers whether: 'Indian literary prizes set literary standards', in The prize is right ?
       Neat to hear, at least, that:

An award for a translated book has a simultaneous impact in two languages says Mini Krishnan, editor-translations, OUP. "A classic case is Bama's Karukku translated by Lakshmi Holmstrom. That Crossword Prize in 2001 changed Bama's life. I think there must be over 100 MPhils on the book and many Tamil Dalit works were picked up for translation in English after that. ... When a translation wins a prize, the sales of the original also picks up."
       (See the Oxford University Press publicity page for the recent second edition of Karukku, or get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.)
       Too bad, then, that there aren't more literary prizes in India that reward or even just consider translations -- disappointingly, The Hindu's own Literary Prize excludes them ..... Read the rest of this post

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5. the commander

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6. Stuck in the Middle

The window seat provides a view
Of clouds and bright blue sky.
It’s where you likely want to sit
When it’s your turn to fly.

The aisle gives easy access
If your bladder needs to void.
Just pop right up and seatmates
Never have to be annoyed.

But what remains if by some chance
You wait to choose a seat?
Being stuck right in the middle
Where you’ll settle in defeat.

When Window wants to move, you must
Unbuckle and step out
And you’re disturbing Aisle
If you need to move about.

The dreaded middle seat’s for those
Who just ran out of luck.
Without accessibility or views,
You’re merely stuck!

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7. Carl Djerassi (1923-2015)

       Carl Djerassi has passed away; see, for example, The New York Times' obituary.
       Best-known for his impressive work as a scientist, he also tried to write fiction (and drama) dealing with a variety of scientific issues -- a different kind of science-fiction. I read quite a bit of it, and while little that he produced was really memorable, most of it was at least fairly entertaining and decently thought-provoking -- certainly good stuff for the scientifically interested kids.
       Check out, for example, The Bourbaki Gambit (get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk) or Cantor's Dilemma (get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk).

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8. Angel Kisses

Angel Kystt Portrait-01

As a child my mother told me that whenever an angel kissed me, that they left behind a freckle. This image is in honor of my mother. May we all have angels on our shoulders.


Technically it required almost every trick and technique known to Adobe Illustrator.

There are hand built brushes, multiple appearances on a single path, gradients, gradient meshes, variable widths, masking, blends, offset paths and more.

Just for fun, I want to show you the path work behind the scenes.

Screen Shot 2015-02-01 at 8.02.05 AM


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9. Selayar dan Takabonerate Surga Menyelam di Sulawesi Utara

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Pulau Selayar adalah pusat wisata bahari di Provinsi Sulawesi Selatan. Pulau ini adalah bagian dari Taman Nasional Takabonerate. Ini adalah sebuah pulau yang memiliki atau terbesar ketiga di dunia setelah kepulauan Maladewa dan Marshall. Selayar terdapat di Flores dan merupakan pintu gerbang menuju ke Taman Nasional Taka Bonerate.


Kepulauan Selayar memiliki pantai yang indah dengan pasirnya yang berwarna putih dan airnya yang jernih. Anda bisa berenang atau bersantai di pantai sambil menikmati keindahan alam di sekitar Pulau Selayar. Selain itu, bukit-bukit hijau yang membentang, serta gugusan batu karang memanjang ke arah laut sejauh 200 meter merupakan pemandangan yang luar biasa dari tempat ini. Baca juga : Tips Berwisata Kepantai
Kepulauan Selayar memiliki letak yang sangat strategis terutama bagi anda yang ingin melakukan beberapa kegiatan seperti menyelam, snorkeling atau berenang dan memancing.
Bagian timur dari kepulauan ini adalah tempat yang sering dikunjungi oleh para wisatawan. Tempat ini juga terdapat banyak resort yang menyediakan fasilitas menyelam dan bisa di sewa dengan harga yang relatif murah. Selayar dan Takabonerate adalah alternatif terbaik untuk menyelam dan menikmati keindahan bawah laut selain Raja Ampat, dan Selat Bali. Pulau Selayar yang terkenal akan keindahan bawah lautnya itu memiliki terumbu karang yang sangat luas. Ada sekitar 1 juta hektar terumbu karang yang ada di tempat ini.
Tidak mengherankan apabila Selayar kemudian menjadi salah satu permata laut yang terindah di dunia. Selain itu, alamnya yang masih murni merupakan nilai plus dari tempat ini.
Di tempat ini visibilitas ketika menyelam mencapai 30 meter. Salah satu yang paling menarik dari tempat ini adalah tebing karang hasil letusan gunung berapi. Tak hanya itu, ketika anda menyelam, anda akan banyak menemukan ikan-ikan langka seperti Barakuda, Giant Travelly, Marlin, Sailfish, Dogtooth Tuna, Yellowfin, Wahoo, dan Makerels.

Rute Menuju Kepulauan Selayar
Rute menuju Pulau Selayar dan Taman Nasional Taka Bonerate sebenarnya tidak terlalu sulit. Dari Makassar anda bisa menuju ke Pulau Selayar dengan menggunakan mobil, bus, dan menyeberang menggunakan Ferry. Perjalanan biasanya memakan waktu sekitar 8 hingga 9 jam.
Jika anda ingin mendapatkan informasi lebih tentang resort yang ada di pulau ini, yaitu Resorts Selayar Island. Anda bisa mengunjungi www.Selayarislandresort.com, resort ini terletak sekitar pertengahan antara pantai barat Pulau Selayar dan tempat menyelam di bagian timur. Tempat ini menawarkan kamar yang memiliki AC dan memberikan kenyamanan serta beberapa fasilitas modern. Akomodasi yang dimilikinya diantaranya adalah aku akses ke 50 spot diving, perahu, dan masih banyak lagi yang lainnya.
Selain itu anda juga bisa membuka situs dinas pariwisata kabupaten Selayar yang beralamat di www.Selayartourism.com. Disana anda bisa mendapatkan beberapa informasi mengenai hotel, penginapan, serta panduan berwisata di Pulau Selayar. Selain itu, cobalah untuk mengunjungi www.takabonerate.net untuk menggali informasi lebih banyak.

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10. Icelandic Booksellers' Prize 2014

       They actually announced the winners of the Icelandic Booksellers' Prize over a month ago but I missed that -- but they just handed out the prizes a few days ago -- see, for example, the Iceland Review report --, so that's good enough a reason and occasion to make note of them now.
       Öræfi, by Ófeigur Sigurðsson, took the novel prize; see the Forlagið publicity page.

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11. 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #417: FeaturingUp-and-Coming Illustrator, Molly Walsh

It’s the first Sunday of the month, which means I invite a student illustrator or recent grad to visit 7-Imp, and today I’ve got the latter. Molly Walsh graduated in 2013 from RISD, and she’s here today to share art and tell us a bit about herself.

Without further ado …

Molly: Hello! My name is Molly Walsh, and I am an illustrator living on Cape Cod. I graduated in 2013 with a degree in Illustration from Rhode Island School of Design.



I work by day as a designer at a gift company in Cape Cod and, by night, as a freelance illustrator. I love creating art for decoration, but my first love is telling stories, large or small, through my illustration. Inspiration for my illustrations could come from something as small as a little detail from a friend’s story to something as large as trying to sum up an entire concept or emotion in one image. My love of nature and goofy characters also have a way of creeping into the images I make.



I started working in my current style toward the end of my time at RISD. I had been making 3D sculptures as a way to compensate for my lack of confidence in my drawing skills. Sculpting somehow gave me a better understanding of shapes and lighting, and I began drawing and painting again to save time. (Funny how that works!)



One of my professors, Fred Lynch, was of great help to me settling into a style that suited my voice as an illustrator. I do most of my work in watercolor and gouache, though my surface design job has taught me a great deal about digital media, which I’ve started incorporating into my work.



My current sketchbook is full of doodles and sloppily-written ideas for future projects, both somewhat formed idea for series and comics, as well as notes about “great ideas” I’ve written myself while half asleep. (The other day I found the words “Gastronaut — astronaut with gas” written on one page.) Looking forward, I hope to find more opportunities to tell both my own stories, as well as the stories and ideas of others through freelance work for books and magazines. Illustration is a wonderful, exciting thing, and I hope to use this power for good!



All artwork here is reproduced by permission of Molly Walsh.

Note for any new readers: 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks is a weekly meeting ground for taking some time to reflect on Seven(ish) Exceptionally Fabulous, Beautiful, Interesting, Hilarious, or Otherwise Positive Noteworthy Things from the past week, whether book-related or not, that happened to you. New kickers are always welcome.

* * * Jules’ Kicks * * *

1) I love the characters in Molly’s work. Also I love: “Illustration is a wonderful, exciting thing, and I hope to use this power for good!” (P.S. The last illustration up there is from Ray Bradbury’s “All Summer in a Day,” which is something like the third or fourth illustration I’ve shared at 7-Imp from that story, which used to HAUNT me as a child. I’m starting a 7-Imp trend.)

2) Yesterday, we saw a stage adaptation at the Nashville Children’s Theatre of Mo Willems’ Elephant & Piggie stories. It was fun. Here’s a bit of what it was like:

3) I talked to a big group of second-graders at a school in Nashville this week about favorite 2014 picture books and Caldecott contenders, and it was a thing of beauty to hear their strong opinions. Those lucky kids have some great teachers and librarians.

4) Oh, and the Twitter chat this week with Metro Nashville School librarians was fun too.

5) Author-illustrator Lori Nichols is going to come have breakfast at 7-Imp when life slows down and sent this preview of us in the meantime:

6) It’s neat to see friends’ photos on Facebook from ALA Midwinter.

7) Speaking of kick #2, my New Year’s resolution (though I don’t usually do resolutions) was to see more live theatre, so hey, I’m not doing too badly.

What are YOUR kicks this week?

1 Comments on 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #417: FeaturingUp-and-Coming Illustrator, Molly Walsh, last added: 2/1/2015
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12. Before Quatermass There Was.....Dene Vernon: Ghost Investigator!

... Though that job description was flexible.

Dene Vernon:The Thing Below

Dene Vernon:The Thing Below

W -Terry Hooper-Scharf   A -Gavin Stuart Ross
Black & White
53 Pages
Price: £8.00
Ships in 3–5 business days


Dene Vernon the first UK comic book investigator of the supernatural faces his greatest challenge as he investigates and confronts The Thing Below London. Classic British horror set in the ruins of blitzed London docks in 1949.

Dene Vernon was one of those unique characters from the Gerald Swan "Swan Comics" -created and drawn by Jock McCail.  Swan seemed to specialise, whether he realised it or not, in characters steeped in the supernatural -Krakos The Egyptian being one of the others.  Stories of the true ghost hunters -some VERY scary- used to make newspaper news in the old days.  Harry Price, Elliott O'Donnell and a selected few others were well know household names.   Vernon is of that ilk.

In his time he dealt with supernatural curses, horrifying hauntings and, later when the whole thing exploded into the public consciousness, flying saucers.

In 1996 I wrote a script that was intended for D. C. Thomson (let's not go there)  and then Egmont showed interest...and decided it didn't want to do comics -a policy it has stuck to in the UK.  So, ITV thought it might make a good TV series....deregulation of TV killed that.  The BBC....well, if they ever followed through on anything it was a miracle.

Gavin Stuart Ross had been in touch with me a long time before and eventually drew the Chung Ling Soo series of Victorian mystery comics (there is a collection you know).  I thought, perhaps, if I begged, Gavin might give Dene Vernon a try.  He did and so Dene Vernon: The Thing Below came into being.  Finally!

It has been said many times that "horror is best in black and white" and that is true.  I cherish my old Charlton horror/ghost comics and German Spuk Geschichten and Gespenster Geschichten but black and white horror is king.

Incidentally, though it does not mean you will have to buy it as all BTCG books are stand alone, in The Green Skies you will learn exactly why Vernon is recovering and "not quite the same" any more.  That's a teaser.

But Dene Vernon: The Thing Below is just for you horror fans -it even has a slight Quatermass feel to it. Don't believe me?  Buy a copy and see!

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13. Historical fiction

There is sci-fi and fantasy, but I say why build a new world? Historical fiction offers our world, but in a different time. All the writer has to do is a little research.

Okay. A lot of research.

Stories are about people. There is something I find fascinating about the lives or people in this world, yet of another time. The only problem is that the term itself - historical fiction - is often met with outstretched forefingers in the sign of the cross from wild-eyed agents and editors. 

I find the genre fascinating and don’t understand it’s adverse connotation. Story is story and if you people them with intriguing characters and you place them in perilous situations, what does it matter if they are in a time long ago? Just to get around the negativity, I have to dress my stories up with a modern day time traveler in order to sneak in historical settings.

A while back, Susan Sherman contributed a post for Writer’s Digest entitled “Tackling Historical Fiction.”

Sherman starts her research in the map room of libraries. This is to get a good working knowledge of the geography of the story. The Internet can help in this regard, but the local university may offer more if the city library can’t provide.

Then she researches the big history, the major events going on at the time. That seems obvious. But it is in what she calls the “tiny history” that details emerge that bring the story to life. She asks herself a thousand questions to discover the minutiae of everyday life. She imagines arriving at one of her characters’s house and wonders, how she got there, in a cab a carriage or on horseback, if the road paved with cobblestones or is is mired in mud, if the house is lighted and if so by candle light or gas, if the place is in a good neighborhood or a slum. All these questions provides details of the time and place that give the story a sense of immediacy and reality.

Sherman warns that we must be careful not to let the research show and turn the whole thing into a history lesson info dump. The writer can’t show off the amount of research they’ve done. The trick is to provide enough description to flesh out the character and give life to the world, without burdening the reader with unnecessary details.

The nature of historical fiction, its limits of an earlier time, does allow the writer some advantages. Authors are supposed to create difficulties for their characters. In addition to the conflicts, barriers, and misunderstandings characters in any novel can face, there were no cell phones or Google to provide the quick fixes our modern day characters may employ. Using a smart phone to locate a Starbucks in a foreign part of town is much easier than sailing to the Far East when an unchartered American continent gets in your way.

Whether as a reader or a writer, there is pleasure in seeing real people dealing with day-to-day living in times long ago. 

(This article also posted at http://writetimeluck.blogspot.com)

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14. ICYMI Aim Higher: Outgrow Old Goals and Set New Ones

Last week Tara, Betsy, Dana, Anna, Stacey and I wrote about the importance of having writing goals for your students: how to set them, how to keep track of them, how to make them visible, and how to make them a part of your daily classroom life. In cased you missed it, here's a round up of our posts.

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15. Electronic Music – Timeline from Classical Convesation

If you know what this is, then you know what this is. My kids are in Classical Conversation. They have a song that goes through the history called “The Timeline”. I took parts of that song and turned it into a loop. Thank you kids and wife for coaching me in the melody. I experimented […]

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16. Weekend Links-A Recap of the Wildly Successful Multicultural Children’s Book Day

Wow! what an amazing week!

Mia @pragmaticmom and I started off Multicultural Children’s Book Day with a bang on January 27th!!!

We had a wonderful blogtalk radio interview with Kori Miller from Back Porch Writer. There we discussed why we started Multicultural Children’s Book Day as well as the importance of children having diverse books in their hands, schools, and libraries.

Our MCCBD linky went wild with incredible reviews of books from our publisher and author sponsors as well as people putting up links to reviews and activities they’ve done in the past. If you have a link you’d like to share which deals with a multicultural or diverse children’s book please fill free to link HERE. The linky is up for a couple more days.

Twitter Party! Our first-ever twitter party for MCCBD was a huge success and we had 11 lucky winners win multicultural book bundles including a Grand Prize bundle of 12 children’s books!

I loved seeing comments from party participants like this one:
Twitter Party

I don’t think I’ve ever had an hour fly by so fast! We had 11 lucky winners who won multicultural book bundles. Lots of great reading for the winter months :) Here’s a Storified recap of the MCCBD Twitter Party thanks to the wonderful Kim Vij at Educator’s Spin on It .   Miss the party ? Don’t worry !! Did you know that with Storify you can still interact with everyone on the twitter party as if you were at there with us. Just click reply or retweet and bring this party back to life. Remember to use the hashtag #ReadYourWorld.

Friends Celebrating with Us!!!
Author Sherri Graves Smith was on 11alive in Atlanta on January 22nd celebrating and promoting Multicultural Children’s Book Day. Have a look at her inspiring and motivational interview.
Sherri is a champion in so many ways. She is the author of more than 40 books !! To read more about Sherry, her daily journey with cancer, plus her incredible philanthropic heart raising over $400,000 with Coca-Cola for the Atlanta Cancer Care Foundation, providing patients with their daily expenses so that they can afford to seek treatment, have a look HERE.   Get ready to be inspired!
Other friends celebrating with us this week is the Association of Jewish Libraries (AJL) who announced the winners of the 2015 Sydney Taylor Book Awards for Jewish children’s and teen literature. You can find a listing of all the winners HERE. There are so many wonderful books on this list and few of them I’ll be reviewing here in the next few weeks.
Our friends and Platinum Sponsor Wisdom Tales Press celebrated Multicultural Children’s Book Day by having  Wisdom Tales staff do several readings of Pine and the Winter Sparrow by Alexis York Lumbard and Beatriz Vidal at University Elementary School here in Bloomington. Here is our very own senior editor, Roger, telling the story to some eager 2nd graders. We hope everyone had as good a time as they did.
To celebrate Multicultural Children's Book Day, the Wisdom Tales staff did several readings of Pine and the Winter Sparrow (http://ow.ly/I34L2) by Alexis York Lumbard and Beatriz Vidal at University Elementary School here in Bloomington.  Here is our very own senior editor, Roger, telling the story to some eager 2nd graders. We hope everyone had as good a time as we did.

Multicultural Children’s Books Day is such a celebration which has created a vast resource of multicultural books and authors on our website.

Multicultural Children Book Resources

LAST CHANCE to grab your FREE gift to YOU. This copy of my Read Your World Multicultural Booklists and Activities for Kids will not be available much longer.

Read Your World Multicultural Booklist and Activities for Kids

Thank you for all of your support!

The post Weekend Links-A Recap of the Wildly Successful Multicultural Children’s Book Day appeared first on Jump Into A Book.

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17. What would happen if...? The Power of Imagination, by Pauline Fisk

It was with great sadness that we at ABBA heard of the death of Pauline Fisk, writer of Midnight Blue and many other much-loved children's books, a few days ago on 25th January. Pauline blogged for ABBA for a time, and Penny Dolan has volunteered her usual slot so that we could  repeat one of Pauline's posts. This is the last one she wrote for us, in May 2013, and it says so much about her breadth of vision, her sense of adventure, and her concern that children's imaginations should be nurtured.

Our thoughts and our sympathy are with Pauline's family.

Sue Purkiss

Pauline Fisk
This is my last post, regretfully. Life and all its busyness has galloped ahead of me and needs reining back. Before I step down, however, I want to share with you some things I said the other night at Keele University’s Keele Link Awards Ceremony.

I began with a story, because stories are what I do best and they’re also the means by which I make sense of the world. Five years ago now, as some of you will know, I was out in Belize, funded by the British Arts Council, researching gap year volunteering for my novel In The Trees. I wasn’t an adventurous type. I was a sixty year-old, asthmatic, stay-at-home author who’d never been anywhere more tropical than Rome in November. What had kicked me out of my office, however, was the power of imagination.

And it was imagination that I was at Keele to talk about. That same imagination that 'will get you everywhere', according to Albert Einstein, whilst logic 'only gets you from A to Z'. ‘I am enough of an artist to draw freely upon my imagination,’ he said. ‘Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world.’ And, again, from Picasso, ‘Everything you can imagine is real.’

Well, six years before my Belize trip, my son Idris Davies experienced what was real about that country as a gap year volunteer. I’d waved goodbye to a white-faced, spotty [the result of back–to-back shifts in McDonalds] youth and returned to the airport five months later to greet a person who was literally, physically unrecognisable. By that I mean that when I saw Idris talking to my husband, I thought the tall man in the Trekforce t-shirt was one of the leaders of the trip explaining why our son had missed the plane. Idris’s entire body shape had changed, but it wasn’t muscles, hair or tan that rendered him unrecognizable. It was the way he inhabited his body, as if it wasn’t an accidental appendage but he was actually in charge of it.

Now there’s a story, I immediately thought. As an author of young adult novels, how could I not? What happened to young gap year volunteers when they went off on those rites of passage projects? What changed them - and how?

Six years later, I was in Belize finding out. Six years, I have to say, of struggling not to go out there, because I wasn’t the sort of writer who wrote those sorts of books. I was a stay-at-home gal. I couldn’t afford it. Other writers would do it better. My publishers wouldn’t be interested. My agent would think it was a bad idea. Nobody was writing gap year novels for young teenagers – and I was terrified of snakes.

What drove me out there, against all odds? It wasn’t my publishers being interested after all, my agent thinking it was a good idea and the money for the trip coming in. It was the power of imagination that sent me to Belize. A story had me in its grip, and I didn’t know exactly how that story might unfold, but I knew that if I went out to this unknown country in Central America, it would come. My Kevin Costner moment. If you build it, they will come.

So, imagination. The realm of creative, slightly batty, forgetful types like Albert Einstein, Pablo Picasso - and me. I think not. The realm of all of us – that’s what I went to Keele University to say. What happened to me with In The Trees was that I was captured by an idea. It got me so tightly that it wouldn’t let go. And that’s exactly what had happened to the young people I went out to meet. There, miles from civilization, guarded by soldiers because their project was so dangerous, I found groups of young school leavers trekking into the jungle and enduring hideously primitive living conditions because the idea of saving the rain forest had lodged itself in their heads and wouldn’t be removed. They’d had the imagination to see what might happen if nothing was done - and they were doing what they could.

When did your imagination first kick off? I have a photo somewhere of myself at the age of three making up stories for the big children next door. They’re lined up on one side of the garden wall and I’m on the other and they’re asking what happened next…and next…and next… and I’m telling them.

I believe I was privileged to grow up in an age where imagination was valued. At my primary school my ability to make up and write stories was encouraged. I was made to feel special because of what I could do. But anybody who had half a good idea was made to feel special too. These were the years after the war when the country was trying to grow itself again and its young people were not just its future but valued as a resource.

There was so much freedom back in those days. Half my childhood was spent lurking around back alleys, looking for fairies under bramble bushes, going early to the local park so that I could sit and enjoy it all on my own, making dens in the undergrowth and stories in my head. I travelled alone on the underground. My parents would put me on a bus on one side of London and I’d be met off it on the other. Apart from that little matter of sums and science, languages and sport [in other words, all the things I wasn’t good at in school] I was free. And my imagination was free.

Even when my children were growing up, they too were free. We lived out in a Shropshire village on the edge of the Long Mountain. Summer holidays were spent playing cowboys in the long grass of the churchyard next door [when funerals weren’t taking place] or damming up the local stream.

There’s a tendency, I know, to say that things aren’t what they used to be in the good old days. By which we mean our good old days. Well, surprise, surprise, children are born and growing up with every bit as much imagination as children ever were. The big question now, though, is what happens to it.

Nowadays nobody in that village allows their children to play down the stream. Not since the funny man was there, trying with some woman to get children into his car. So often now it’s fear that fuels people’s imaginations, not opportunities. Who might be lurking round the corner, waiting to pounce? What are governments really up to if we only knew the truth? When will Peak Oil happen and the world as we know it come to an end?

I think we have some very real reasons to be fearful sometimes. But with imagination we can overcome our fears, or at the very least work our way round them. Imagination doesn’t have to bring out the worst in us. It can turn our problems into opportunities. And that’s surely where education comes in.

Children need to be given space for their imaginations to flourish. And they need this space in school, not just afterwards between home time and bed. You want to know what I fear? Here’s an example for you. Imagine a local rural primary school. This is one I know well - I’m not making it up. It’s a lovely school full of lovely children in the middle of lovely countryside - hills, valleys, rivers and verdant woodland. The school’s environment is entirely nurturing. If anywhere in this country is going to turn out free-thinking, imaginative children you’d expect this to be it. But, come the end of the academic year, the Head wants artwork from the top class to go on display – and there is none. Why not? Do I need to spell it out? I certainly didn’t the other night. The children and their teacher had been too busy keeping up with the National Curriculum to have any time left over for art.

Is this really possible? This school? What’s happening here? And if this is what’s happening all over, what do we do?

My connection with Keele came about through the Children’s University, of whom Michael Morpurgo is National Chancellor and I’m Shropshire’s Chancellor. If you want an organisation that’s stimulating children’s imaginations you need look no further. Here it’s very much the children who take the lead, coming up with ideas and dragging themselves, their parents and their teachers off to do or see whatever it is that interests them. And it's not just a cosy, middle-class organisation either. Shropshire's Children's University is operating in some of the most deprived areas in the county. I’m proud to be associated with an organisation like that.

If we don’t see our children’s imaginations fed and stimulated, then the scientists of the future are a thing of the past, the artworks of the future will be black on black, the designers, the thinkers, the builders, the workers of the future – and those craft workers whom the government has just, in yet another of their fits of total madness, announced in a white paper are no longer part of the creative industry – where will they all be?

I don’t need to end here with John Lennon’s ‘Imagine’ to make my point. Instead I’m going to end where I started – with Albert Einstein and his imagination encircling the world. In his Commendation of In The Trees, Rafael Manzanero, the Chief Executive of the Belizean NGO responsible for the protection of that country’s rainforest,wrote that people like us really could make a difference to our planet, even though it seems we’re worlds apart. ‘It is not only moral to do so,’ he wrote,‘but the survival of forests will make the planet a better place for human life.’

THIS is the idea that caught hold of a group of young people – that not only governments and multi-national charitable organisations could make a difference to the world around them; they could too. According to Rafael Manzanero it’s been an effective and lasting difference too. And, in the face of illegal logging, poacher activities, unlicensed gold-panning, crime syndicates, the organized smuggling of everything from jaguar cubs to Mayan artefacts - it takes some imagination to achieve a result like that.

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18. Best New Kids Stories | February 2015

If you're hooked on Kid President then this month is your month for new release kids books. This month's selection of best new kids books includes Kid President's Guide to Being Awesome and Richelle Mead's conclusion to the Bloodlines series.

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19. Step Away From That Computer!

I thought my new year's resolution was very manageable. Each month I would go to a place in New York City that I had never been. (I can't believe I almost broke my vow--it was already the last day of January!) 

After a week of polishing a manuscript, I was ready to get outside of my head and my apartment.

The weather was crisp and cold. The wind was so fierce, I almost changed my mind about going to Owl's Head park on the eastern edge of Brooklyn. But I'm glad I didn't.

At the top of the hill, I could see white caps
 on the water of New York harbor. 

Without their leaves, the trees are so exposed. 
As if they aren't trees at all, but some other kind of life form.

How long has this fellow being been standing on this spot? 
And how did he get to be so twisted?

Of course whenever I go anywhere, 
I'm always looking for a way into a new world.

Or into a new story.

I think I might have found one.

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20. Small Dog Cover

Small Dog_cover 4 copy-01a

Children’s picture book art is stunning. Children’s picture book stories are amazing. I love that there are usually layers of meaning, and that each viewer and reader can take away from the story exactly what they need to see and hear. I have long had a fascination with fables. I adore the metaphors.

Small Dog is a children’s picture book that I wrote and am now illustrating. Using sparse words and rhyme the story unfolds to reveal that gratitude is far more than simply saying thank-you. With gratitude you can change your life.



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21. The Gift of an Open Mind

Freedom is an interesting thing. We know it’s concept and we get the gist of it all, but many of us are busy functioning amidst our daily routines and we think of freedoms only on their grandest of scale. We are grateful for the rights we have living in a free Country, but we don’t think about the smaller freedoms. The freedoms that our routines, namely being stuck to them, may be stripping away from us.
think free art illustration
[From my Instagram]
Routine. Trust me, I’m like you and love a good routine. Routines are good, they keep us focused and working towards goals; consistency is the foundation of every major accomplishment. We NEED certain routines, yet routines are a tricky double edged sword.

Routines keep you focused. Routines can also hold your prisoner. The issues that dictate which is which are: the routine, the basis for it, and how much flexibility you allow yourself within it.

I can parallel this to running because it’s an easy example; training should become a routine. You need to KNOW you’re going to do it, don’t think of it like a ‘maybe’, you know your goals and you know you need to be consistent to reach them. You need that routine to keep you focused because running and training is hard. Frankly it’s painful and there will be times when you need to know you’re going to just have to put your head down and grind through. BUT, there are times when grinding will only leave you a broken, dull stone, so there needs to be a degree of flexibility. There are times when rather than pushing you need to step back.

Freedom outside your routine is also a state of mind. Being so busy usually means you’re perpetually distracted, or so focused on the task at hand you’re not opening yourself up to anything else. PAUSE. A mere pause, and opening yourself up to the possibility of…well, the possible.

You can’t see an opportunity if your eyes aren’t even open. What’s funnier still is that when you’re busily distracted you’re not even aware of the potential that you’re missing something!

That’s not some kind of riddle there, and it’s meaning is only best exemplified through actual experience. If you’ve had a moment where you cognitively shifted your focus, veered slightly outside your routine, and you had a MOMENT, experienced something unexpected that just, made you smile. That momentous experience of freedom is what I’m describing.

You chose to be free and in that moment you opened yourself up to have that smile….however small the experience was that brought it to your face.

You see, to get that smile, that satisfaction, doesn’t require you to veer wildly off course to the point where you recklessly abandon all goals or tasks at hand. No, it can be as simple as putting the other shoe on first…the tiniest change of routine just to show yourself that you CAN do it out of order. Who knows, you may like it. Just knowing you CAN often causes a much larger shift in perspective. You wonder what else you CAN do.

So be free. Think with an open and free mind. I challenge you to do tiny things outside of your routine and see if, by Jove, you like it.

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22. Dancing in the Moonlight

Dancing in the Moonlight-01

Working on this piece allowed me to explore more methods of adding the illusion of texture to flat vector imagery. The lighting was also a lot of fun to build. To add the look of rim lighting required the use of gradients and the feather effect. This chimpanzee (like most of my characters) is basically a “puppet.” His body is composed of a series of separate shapes that can be moved for any type of gesture needed.

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23. Greetings from Hogwarts

This week me, my family, and my friend Jenae are hanging out at Universal Studios Orlando for the Harry Potter Celebration. It has been an absolutely amazing experience. This is my third time to HP world, but my first time going to Diagon Alley, and let me just tell you IT IS INCREDIBLE!! Riding the Hogwarts Express was a moment I can't even describe. The Gringotts ride is probably my favorite

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24. 6 Tips Sebelum Anda Berwisata ke Kalimantan

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Sebelum anda berwisata ke Kalimantan, cobalah untuk mendengarkan dan menyimak tips berwisata ke Kalimantan berikut ini.

Ilustrasi Berlibur

Kalimantan adalah sebuah pulau yang sangat luas sehingga anda harus memiliki beberapa pengetahuan seputar objek wisata dan bagaimana berwisata ke Kalimantan agar anda bisa mempersiapkan segala sesuatunya dengan lebih baik.
Setiap daerah memiliki keunikan dan persiapan yang berbeda sebelum anda memulai perjalanan. Kalimantan yang memiliki daerah yang sangat luas dan memiliki provinsi-provinsi serta daerah-daerah yang dipisahkan oleh jalan yang cukup jauh dan melewati banyak hutan membuat anda harus ekstra dalam mempersiapkan segala sesuatunya.
Berikut adalah beberapa tips berwisata ke Kalimantan yang harus anda simak.
1.       Stamina
Hal pertama yang harus anda siapkan sebelum anda melakukan tour wisata di Kalimantan adalah stamina. stamina sangat penting karena perjalanan anda tidak akan dekat, melainkan sangat jauh. pulau Kalimantan yang luas menuntut stamina ekstra karena medan yang akan anda tempuh terkadang tidak semulus di Jawa atau di beberapa daerah seperti Bali. Selain itu, Kalimantan juga banyak memanfaatkan transportasi air sehingga anda harus terbiasa dengan hal tersebut.
2.       Tour guide
Bisa dipastikan bahwa objek wisata di Kalimantan jaraknya sangat jauh dan membutuhkan perjalanan yang tidak sebentar. oleh sebab itu, guide mutlak dibutuhkan apabila anda ingin pergi ke suatu tempat yang belum anda kenal. Biarkan tour guide membimbing anda dan dengarkanlah arahan yang diberikan olehnya. Karena beberapa wilayah Kalimantan cenderung berbahaya.
Transportasi air misalnya, beberapa sungai memiliki arus yang deras sehingga membutuhkan kehati-hatian ekstra. tidak hanya itu mungkin beberapa tempat juga yang akan anda datangi adalah tempat dimana terdapat banyak binatang buas dan lain sebagainya. Oleh karena itu, cobalah untuk mengenali daerah yang akan anda tuju terlebih dahulu dengan menggali informasi seputar objek wisata tersebut.
3.       Offroad
Kalimantan, tidak sama dengan pulau Jawa dan pulau Bali, jalan-jalan di pulau Kalimantan tidak sebaik jalan yang anda temukan di Pulau Jawa. Di beberapa wilayah Kalimantan, jalannya masih cukup memprihatinkan sehingga anda harus memiliki stamina dan persiapan ekstra. Jika anda berencana keluar kota, misalnya masuk ke wilayah kampung-kampung, maka anda membutuhkan mobil dengan kemampuan yang mumpuni untuk offroad. Selain itu, mungkin motor adalah alternatif kedua yang bisa anda gunakan selain mobil. Motor jenis trail sangat cocok apabila digunakan untuk berpetualang di Kalimantan.
4.       Sepatu boot
Jika anda ingin menjelajah di Kalimantan maka sepatu boot adalah perlengkapan yang harus anda bahwa karena Kalimantan banyak memiliki tanah gambut dan tanah liat. Pada musim hujan biasanya banyak jalan yang kondisinya tidak terlalu baik dan becek.
5.       Losion anti nyamuk
Lotion anti nyamuk tidak boleh anda lupakan jika anda berkunjung ke Kalimantan. Hutan yang masih banyak mengelilingi pulau Kalimantan adalah salah satu faktor mengapa nyamuk merupakan momok utama di tempat ini. Jika anda berencana berkunjung ke suatu tempat maka anda wajib membekali diri anda dengan lotion anti nyamuk.
6.       Cenderamata
Jika anda berkunjung ke suatu tempat, cinderamata adalah sebuah keharusan bukan?
Kalimantan timur memiliki ciri khas dan cendramata yang sedikit unik seperti mandau, kerajinan dari manik-manik, dan dan sumpit serta tatoo. Sedangkan jika anda berkunjung ke Kalimantan barat, di sana kemungkinan besar anda bisa membeli Replika Tugu Khatulistiwa, serta beberapa hiasan manik-manik. Kalimantan juga memiliki batik khas Kalimantan dengan corak khusus.

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25. What If ‘The Amazing World Of Gumball’ Was Anime?

Here's how one fan re-imagined Cartoon Network's "Gumball" as an anime series.

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