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1. Why the Gap?

I haven’t posted here since June for a simple reason: coping with a huge storm of sorts that blew my way. My mother had not been so well, so in January a pacemaker was installed. Rehab and all that. Then April 26th she had a stroke. Rehab again, driven by the delusion of optimism. We […]

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2. A celebration of E.B. White, a fundraiser for First Book—Manhattan



I'm heading back to Broadway! I hope that you'll join me in supporting First Book—Manhattan as celebrated actors read from the works of E.B. White!

Last year's event was magical, and this year will prove to be no different.

Tickets are available at: http://www.symphonyspace.org/event/8497/Family-Literature/thalia-kids-book-club-terrific-tails-a-celebration-of-eb-white

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3. Cinebook The 9th Art: Barracuda 3 -Duel



Authors: Jérémy & Dufaux
Age: 15 years and up
Size: 18.4 x 25.7 cm
Number of pages: 64 colour pages
Publication: July 2014
ISBN: 9781849182041
Price: £8.99 inc. VAT
On Puerto Blanco, life goes on. Captain Flynn is dead, murdered by his old nemesis. Emilio mourns his mentor and lover, yet finds unexpected companionship in Maria and Raffy. The three children left behind by the Barracuda have grown and found each other, but the dangers are many: De La Loya and his Spanish expedition; Ferrango, Maria’s cuckolded husband; Flynn’s killer; a scorned woman with a talent for poisons… And above all, a cursed diamond that carries madness and death.

 Great looking cover.  Nice story and the interior art is what you would expect -Great.  But my review opinion probably does not count with the company so I'll just say it's a great book.

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4. Spooky Sticker Activity Book

Spooky Sticker Activity Book

Illustrator: Simon Abbott
Publisher: Ticktock Books
Genre: Children
ISBN: 978-1-78325-185-8
Pages: 64
Price: $8.99

Illustrator’s website
Buy it at Amazon

Halloween is coming, and it’s time to have some fun! The Spooky Sticker Activity Book will keep kids busy until October 31st. There are puzzles to solve, pictures to color and draw, and lots of reusable stickers to attach to the illustrations inside. Nothing too scary for young children – all the ghouls are smiling and friendly.

This enjoyable activity book would be a great addition to any child’s Halloween celebration.

Reviewer: Alice Berger


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5. What Shape Is That Story?

This article is a post I wrote for the fabulous Writers Rumpus blog today, September 30th. While recently reading John Green’s Looking for Alaska, I was surprised by the shape of the story. I’ll get to that in a minute, but it reminded me of other authors who played with the structure of their narratives. […]

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6. I Am NOT On Face Book

The requests to "friend" me on Face Book.  I forward links to news items from CBO but I am NOT using FB.  Please note that and do not send friend requests.

Thank You

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7. The rage of age ranges

Recently someone in publishing told me, "You're not really a YA author."

It bugged me, but I wasn't sure why, because middle grade rocks. If the only readers I ever reached were ages 8-12 I'd be a happy author. I love kids those ages as much as I love teenagers. So it shouldn't bother me. But I think I've finally figured it why it does.

As an older teenager, I would have loved my books. The Goose Girl, Book of a Thousand Days, Dangerous, as well as my books that are considered younger like Princess Academy and Ever After High. And I have a lot of teen readers. I get emails from them. I meet them at signings, alongside those valiant 8-12 year olds. So I bristle when anyone suggests that my books aren't actually for them. I don't like labels that might get between a reader and the book that's right for them.

So how do I label what I write?

Some say "upper middle grade," some say, "lower young adult," but I have plenty of readers who don't fit into either camp. And I realize that I'm just tired of exclusivity. Exclusive clubs always give me hives. Those who try to make something like feminism an exclusive club, for example: "You're not a real feminist if you're a stay at home mom"; "Well you're not a real feminist if you exclude stay at home moms," etc. The narrower the definition of who can be a member of something, the less I want to be a part of it, whatever it is. (btw I do consider myself a feminist, in all its inexact nebulous importance)

What do you think? How would you define young adult? Some say books written for ages 14-17. But that's weird too, because can we really be sure of author intent? Authors have written plenty of books without a specific audience in mind that ended up being great for older teenagers. So is it just the age of the protagonist? We know that's faulty. All of my middle grade books have older protags, and there are plenty of other examples where that rule doesn't work. Tone and story style and substance are way more important in finding a reader than the age of the protag. Is it by who likes to read the books? That's tough too. I regularly get fanmail from readers ages 6-to-grandparent. Some suggest that the YA label is just for books with more graphic content (sex, swearing, mature themes). I bristle at that too. I agree that books with mature content belong more in upper YA than MG, but I also think it's an erroneous assumption that teens are uninterested in and incapable of appreciating any story that doesn't have sex, swearing, mature themes. There are all kinds of teenagers. There should be all kinds of stories.

Age ranges are tough. Teachers know, just because all the kids in the class are the same age doesn't mean they're at the same level in reading, math, maturity, comprehension, etc. Parents know that what one child was ready for at a certain age, another wasn't even close.

I wish we didn't have labels. I wish we didn't have age ranges. I wish we could all just be matched to books we might like regardless of our age or what age range the publisher has to declare the book for.

But at the same time I'm conflicted about this because I love that there's such a strong YA community, a community that calls BS on those who try to marginalize or demean teenagers, who values them as humans and believes passionately that they deserve their own stories. And the same for children and toddlers and babies and women and men and everyone. We all need champions. And the label of "Young Adult" has helped develop a community of champions for teens. I love it. I want it to remain strong and grow and grow. I just don't want it to limit itself in exclusivity.

What do you think? Am I wrong? Is the YA and MG distinction clearer than I think? Have age labels shamed you for reading something apparently not in your age range? How do they affect you? How do we employ the helpfulness of age ranges in books without limiting who the books might be best for?

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8. Gender Matters? Swedish Picture Books and Gender Ambiguity

guest bloggerBack in June, Laura Reiko Simeon wrote about how race is handled in Swedish picture books. We’re thrilled to host Laura again as she sheds light on how Swedish picture books handle gender and gender-ambiguous characters.

You sit down with your favorite 4-year-old to read a sweet, wordless picture book featuring a little duck swimming down the river. Quickly, without thinking too hard, what pronoun do you use to describe the duck? Do you say, “Look at him paddle past that shaggy dog!” or “What does she see in the sky?”

If you were like the mothers in a 1985 study, you would use masculine pronouns for 95% of animal characters with no gender-specific characteristics. A follow-up study from 1995 examined children’s use of pronouns and found that by age 7 they had absorbed and were repeating these same gender stereotypes. Listen to those around you: has it changed much since then?For children who may not yet be aware (1)

In the US, Sweden is widely regarded as a leader in gender equality, although many Swedes still see a need for greater progress. Meanwhile, our own biases are apparent, for example when we consider gendered toys. Compare this 1981 Lego ad, with its blue jeans and t-shirt-clad girl to the pink-infused products targeted at girls today. As with other social issues, picture books reflect concerns in society at large – but how they’ve done so is dramatically different in the US as compared to Sweden.

Some American picture books encourage acceptance of kids who break free from gender restrictions: Charlotte Zolotow’s William’s Doll, Cheryl Kilodavis’s My Princess Boy, and Campbell Geeslin’s Elena’s Serenade, among others. The point of these stories is that a character is acting in opposition to gender norms, but for children who may not yet be aware that they’re “not supposed to” do or like certain things, these well-intentioned books could introduce self-consciousness.

What have largely been missing from English-language picture books are deliberately gender-ambiguous characters that are neither being bullied nor defiant. They just are. Rather than focusing on the consequences (good or bad) of pushing against societal restrictions or elevating the rebel as cultural hero, they turn the focus on the reader. Do we feel uncomfortable if we don’t know someone’s gender? Why? Do we make assumptions about gender based on what someone is doing or wearing? Why?

We do have some characters – e.g. the diverse, roly-poly infants in Helen Oxenbury’s delightful baby books – that are non-gender specific, but they tend to be in simple, relatively plot-free books for the very young. They are distinct from the Swedish picture books in which pronouns are cleverly avoided and characters send deliberately contradictory gender signals. My earlier post about

Kivi and the Monster Dog

Kivi and the Monster Dog

Swedish approaches to ethnic diversity introduced the concept of not making difference the problem. There is a similar philosophy at work here.

The Swedish Institute for Children’s Books publishes annual “Book Tastings” that identify trends for the year’s publications. The theme for 2012 was “Borders and Border Crossings,” and one border was gender: not just sexual orientation or gender roles, but the concept of gender as an identifier itself.

The anti-bias publisher OLIKA has published several titles of this nature, but the one that made the biggest splash was Kivi and the Monster Dog by Jesper Lundqvist, the first children’s book to use the gender-neutral pronoun, “hen.” (In Swedish, “hon” means “she” and “han” means “he.” First proposed in the 1960s, “hen” was mostly used in academic research and hipster neighborhoods of Stockholm.) In this funny rhyming story, a small person, Kivi, wishes for a pet dog and ends up instead with a demanding beast that runs amok.

Åsa Mendel-Hartvig and Caroline Röstlund write about Tessla, a preschooler clad in gender-neutral clothes and boasting a mop of brown hair. In Tessla’s Mama Doesn’t Want To! and Tessla’s Papa Doesn’t Want To!, the child, in an amusing role reversal, creatively cajoles badly behaving parents into leaving the park, washing their hair, waking up on time or going to work.

interior page from Pom and Pim

interior page from Pom and Pim

Pom and Pim by Olof and Lena Landström may be the only Swedish gender-neutral book that has been translated into English. The first in a series, it features an adventurous toddler, Pom, who sends mixed gender signals: a boyish-sounding nickname, sparse curls, a long purple sweater, and a little pink toy (Pim). The story is told without pronouns, yet two professional American reviewers assumed Pom was male and referred to the character as “he.”

In Maria Nilsson Thore’s Bus and Frö Each on Their Own Island, two gender-ambiguous animals reach out from their lonely islands to become friends. One is shown variously smoking a pipe and knitting. In Jonatan Brännström’s The Lightning Swallower, we never learn the gender of the narrator, who is terrified of thunderstorms.

The Lightning Swallower

The Lightning Swallower

These books make a reader consider what markers are “masculine” or “feminine” – and why. They don’t dictate what you “should” do – rebel or conform – or offer value judgments about those who do either. In English-language books, feisty heroines reject traditionally female pursuits as “boring” (what about those girls who do love sewing and cooking?) and boys are persecuted for their love of pink and dolls (making these preferences seem risky to express). With their gender-ambiguous characters, Swedes have tilted the lens slightly and given us a whole new perspective through which to consider this topic. Can we change the terms of the discussion instead of framing everything in terms of binary gender categories? Where could that small but crucial shift take us?

Laura SimeonThe daughter of an anthropologist, Laura Reiko Simeon’s passion for diversity-related topics stems from her childhood spent living all over the US and the world. She fell in love with Sweden thanks to the Swedish roommate she met in Wales while attending one of the United World Colleges, international high schools dedicated to promoting cross-cultural understanding. Laura has an MA in History from the University of British Columbia, and a Master of Library and Information Science from the University of Washington. She lives near Seattle.


Filed under: Diversity 102, Diversity, Race, and Representation, Educator Resources, Guest Blogger Post Tagged: gender, gender roles, gender stereotypes, picture books around the world, sweden

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9. Opus 21: “Quality Birds” a.k.a. “The Wisdom of the Colonel”


Peter Lally
Opus 21
A4
12pp
Colour
£3.00
 To purchase a copy contact Peter at:
peterlally@gmail.com 

It appears that last Friday Mr Paul Brown was gamboling about London.  And while gamboling met up with Lord Peter Lally -adventurer, treasure seeker and international man of mystery. "Give this to Hooper -and if you are questioned you know nothing!" were the words I apparently made him utter for comedic effect here.

So, on the Saturday I noticed Mr Brown skipping along the lane toward my house. Once in the house and seated, he excitedly produced "Quality Birds" by Lord Lally.  To calm him down from a sugar-rush created excitement, I promised to do a review.

Well, I sat down and looked through this one. The production is incredible and must have cost a few quid. Nice crisp and shiny.  Now the thing is that Peter is NOT Jack Kirby.  He is NOT John Byrne. But this is why I think the Small Press works -there are no huge egotistical pretensions.  What I look for is the "feel" of a book and, yes, you can "feel" if a story or comic was just chucked together for fun or whether it was just chucked together and **** what it ends up like.

I got part way through this creation of the man who brought us Mind Your Manners: The Donald Hamilton Story and just chuckled.  I also uttered the words: "What are you on, Lally?"  Seriously, I thought that this was going to be some huge attack on the Kentucky Fried Chicken franchise.  Instead it was....funny.  Take a look at the pages below -particularly the first!  Pure genius.  And do you know what?  While shopping in Tesco (I feel it my duty to help them get back that £25m) I passed the frozen chickens* and thought "Ooh. There's a quality bird!  Oo-er!"  And, yes, I did have to stifle a loud laugh.

I will never be able to look at a frozen or fresh chicken again without that feeling of....arousal.  Lally caused that!

Seriously, you need to read the whole book. It does make me wonder just Miss Millie  is trying to impart...no, I don't want to go there.

If you want a fun read then this is it.  If you don't buy a copy...well, it really is your loss!!





*I ought to point out that I've been a vegetarian for 35(?) years now so was passing the chicken section and not deliberately heading there to check out the "talent".

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10. Online Jeopardy Tool + YA Books and Authors Game

I love Kahoot! ( www.getkahoot.com ) because it's interactive, kids love to play it, it's quick to make and easy to reuse.  But as with all things, I like having a variety and some options, so I started looking online for a jeopardy game.  The first one I went to I couldn't get into, and then I stumbled on this website:
http://www.jeopardylabs.com

So easy to use!!  So I went to play with it, and created a jeopardy game based on YA authors and novels.  Here's the link:
jeopardylabs.com/play/ya-books-and-authors

Please use it with small groups, during lunches, with book clubs...however you'd like.  And if you create one, please share it as well!!

One other thing - You can create an account, but it'll cost 20.00 for a LIFETIME membership, which isn't much.  It will allow you to save your games & other bells and whistles.  If not, you need to remember the URL of the games you created and the URL for the edits, which can be tedious.

So, have fun and quiz on!! 



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11. Blog Tour: BATTLING BOY: THE RISE OF AURORA WEST

Attention, residents of Blogosphere-opolis: This is no ordinary review. This is a very special blog tour review, organized by First Second, who kindly supplied me with review copies of the new superhero graphic novels created by Paul Pope: Battling... Read the rest of this post

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12. Defenders of Wildlife and Harts Pass Comics


A small but loyal following at Defenders of Wildlife recently put some Harts Pass Comics imagery to work on their blogKylie Paul, Rockies & Plains Representative at Defenders, does a nice job of summing up the recent trajectory of potential wolverine protection and in the final two paragraphs makes a case for reversing the recent decision to deny protections:

It is a fundamentally American value to protect our land, air, water, and wildlife – that’s why Congress enacted the ESA. If we’re not willing to protect one of the rarest mammals in the Lower 48, a species with fewer than 300 individuals left south of the Canadian border and one of the lowest successful reproductive rates known to mammals, how imperiled does a species have to be to gain federal protection?

Defenders of Wildlife currently has an open petition to tell Secretary of the Department of the Interior Sally Jewell – who oversees the Fish and Wildlife Service – to reconsider the serious threats to the survival of wolverines and immediately reverse this unsupportable decision. Please take part!

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13. There's a Book

This website contains reviews of many kids' books. 

http://www.theresabook.com/archive/

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14. Marla Frazee Talks with Roger

marla frazee twr header Marla Frazee Talks with Roger

Talks with Roger is a sponsored supplement to our free monthly e-newsletter, Notes from the Horn Book. To receive Notes, sign up here.


marla frazee by james bradley 2 Marla Frazee Talks with RogerTwo-time Caldecott Honor recipient (for A Couple of Boys Have the Best Week Ever and All the World) Marla Frazee’s newest picture book The Farmer and the Clown is already garnering talk of award recognition. Wordless, but rich with narrative and emotional resonance, The Farmer and the Clown portrays an unlikely friendship in which one party seems to rescue the other — but maybe that’s exactly backwards.

Roger Sutton: This is a really amazing book.

Marla Frazee: Thank you so much.

RS: The emotional quality of the story is incredibly powerful. So many of the pictures choke me up — they would probably have me sobbing right now if I didn’t have a reputation to maintain.

On your website you ask yourself a bunch of questions that you say people always ask you, and one of them is, “What is more important, style or concept?” Your answer: “I think the most important thing is emotional engagement.” How does an artist create that? As you’ve certainly done in this book.

MF: For me, I think it’s through time. If I’m sort of hooked into an idea, I try to play it out in my mind to see whether there’s something there to follow — what I would call the beating heart of that idea. If I can’t find it, I won’t be that engaged in the idea anymore. Even if I do find it, I often don’t know until many years later why it was compelling to me. As an example, when I started working on the Santa book [Santa Claus: The World's Number One Toy Expert], in the beginning I just thought it was really funny that Santa would be a toy tester. That was how the book started in my mind, and I played with the idea for years. It wasn’t until maybe seven years down the road, when I was on a long drive, that I realized he would have to know children really well, and know toys really well, in order to match the child and the toy, and that it was about gift-giving. It was about something we all aspire to know how to do — to give the right gift at the right time. Once I had that, the book started to make sense to me. Before that, it was just…

RS: This idea.

MF: Yes.

RS: What was the genesis of The Farmer and the Clown, emotionally?

MF: This one was very interesting, because I don’t know if you like clowns, but I don’t like clowns.

RS: Me neither.

MF: Most people don’t like clowns. But for whatever reason, I went to this clown show performance at my kids’ high school. The performers had worked on their clown personas for weeks, at least, and then acted in skits. It was set to music (there was no speaking), and it was really compelling and evocative and sublime. I loved it. I couldn’t get clowns out of my head afterward. So I thought maybe I should do a book about a clown town. Everybody’s a clown. They shop, they go to school. But somebody moves in who isn’t, who’s a serious person — what would happen? And then I reversed it out. Maybe it should be a serious town and funny neighbors who move in. There’s something funny about the new neighbors, and it’s a clown family.

RS: The clown comes to town.

MF: Yes. But then I was watching a Modern Family episode where Cam is a clown, and all his clown friends cram themselves into a Mini Cooper after a funeral. And I thought, “Well, there goes that idea.” Then I was playing with the idea of a little clown who was teaching a yoga class, but there was no story. And there wasn’t a story for a really long time. Then I thought of two characters — a serious, Amish-like farmer holding the hand of a very smiley baby clown, and they were walking together. It just hit me, that image. That’s where it started. And I thought, “There they are. Those are my characters.” Then it was a question of why are they together? What is the story that brought them together? It came from the fact that they both had such different personas, really, from what they truly were. We think: the clown has a big smile so that means he’s happy, and we maybe think the farmer’s a grump, but there’s more to him than that.

9781442497443 f3568 Marla Frazee Talks with RogerRS: We have that amazing scene of revelation where on the left-hand side of the spread, you see them getting to know each other. They’re talking. And then they’re eating. And then they’re washing up for the night, and the makeup comes off the clown’s face. And to the old man, at least the way I’m reading it — and of course, it being wordless, we can read it however we want to — it’s like a completely different person he’s now encountering. That he finally sees the clown as a baby, or a little child.

MF: I am so glad that’s how it struck you. Because to me that spread was the pivotal moment in the book.

RS: It’s huge. Completely unexpected.

MF: The thing that freaks me out about clowns is that they look a certain way, and they maybe act a certain way, but that doesn’t mean they necessarily feel a certain way. Underneath it all there might be something else going on. That’s true about everybody at times in our lives, and I wanted it to be a revelation about the farmer as well. This obviously isn’t what he expected his evening to be like.

RS: Right, and the farmer transforms from being dutiful to actually having an emotional stake in this child.

MF: I was originally thinking maybe it would take a few days for the circus train to come back, so there would be more time for their relationship to deepen and change. But there were issues about that, because I wanted it to be a real child who’s lost and scared. Once the child and the farmer got too comfortable with each other, a couple days in and we’d have a different relationship, and that wouldn’t work.

RS: It seems like you need to have either a 32-page picture book or a 148-page novel.

MF: Yes.

RS: I think you chose wisely.

MF: Thank you.

RS: You talked about the emotional engagement that brings you into a book, but then how do you create that emotional engagement for the reader? Or do you just cross your fingers and trust they’re going to have the same feelings you do?

MF: I don’t just cross my fingers. But I feel like that’s the big question when it comes to illustration — how do you convey emotion in a picture? Not only over the span of the book, but in each individual image, each spread. What are you trying to say emotionally, and how do you show that emotion? An incredible book that has inspired me on that topic is Molly Bang’s perception and composition book Picture This.

RS: That’s a great book.

MF: I also think of Trina Schart Hyman’s image on the back of the jacket of her Little Red Riding Hood, where she’s leaving the forest. It’s an incredible example of how the emotion of a scene can hit before the content does. We feel relief that this character — who we may not even see at first as Little Red Riding Hood — is leaving a dark and oppressive place. And then we start to see the elements. Oh, it’s Little Red Riding Hood. Oh, it’s the woods. Oh, it’s the village. I think she was trying to build the image so the emotion hits first. You feel either the loneliness or the joy first, and then you start reading the picture — ah! The emotion kind of smacks us, the viewer, before our brain engages. That’s something I aspire to. I don’t always get there, but I’m always trying to get there.

RS: Well, you certainly do here. Your ending is a killer. You pull us in with a warmth that keeps increasing as the book goes, but when we get to the end we realize, “Oh my god, these two are going to part.” It’s horrible!

MF: I know. In an early dummy, I had the farmer on page 32 walking toward us with the clown hat on, kicking up his heels, but that was not a true moment. This is not how he would feel. So I started to draw how I thought he would really feel, which was devastated, and I thought, “This is just a real downer.” It took a while to get to the idea of that monkey. I hope it feels somewhat inevitable, but it really did take a lot of soul-searching to figure out the feeling I wanted to leave this farmer with. I didn’t want it to be a devastating story.

RS: And it would be, without that monkey. The way the monkey is looking out at us and telling us, “Don’t tell the farmer I’m behind him,” pulls us into the story, so we feel like we’re part of something.

MF: That’s really important to me, because I wanted the reader to be part of the understanding of these two characters. It’s one of the reasons the book is wordless. I wanted us to perceive the characters a certain way, and to realize over time, after reading the book, that our perception was skewed as well, as maybe the farmer’s initially was toward the clown. We don’t know exactly how the clown perceives the farmer, but that was an element too.

RS: With the clown — you’re really honest about how a child would be when he realizes his family’s coming back. The long spread with the two of them and the approaching train, toot-toot, up there in the corner, where the clown is jumping up and down, and he’s all excited, and the farmer is protectively holding his hand, and watching out for him, making sure he doesn’t run onto the tracks, but the emotion of the kid, who’s so — you know, they don’t think about other people’s feelings, really.

MF: Right.

RS: And he’s just excited: “My parents are back!” But in the farmer’s posture, and in his little dot eye, you can see the sadness of the impending separation. Then the clown gives him a gift. He races back to say goodbye to the old man. And there’s that beautiful hug. And then they kiss. And I’m going to start crying.

When I look at wordless books today, they seem to mostly be becoming more and more elaborate. And this book is really stripped-down.

MF: I didn’t set out to do a wordless book. I set out to tell a particular story, and as I was telling it I realized it would be more powerful without words. It’s about impressions and misunderstandings of appearances. You get a slow understanding of who these characters are based on their behavior. I don’t necessarily think there was a whole exchange of language between these two. It was more about how they were acting with each other, and for me that was somewhat of a wordless exchange. This paring-down was how I arrived at doing the book in a wordless way.

RS: Did you create any kind of a text at all?

MF: In the very beginning I wondered if there should be one, but no, not really. That’s not unusual for me. When I did the book Roller Coaster I drew it out in thumbnails without words, and then the words came at a later point in the process. I think I was expecting that to happen with this book, and then I realized it wasn’t going to. I truly didn’t set out to do a wordless book, although I love them, sometimes.

RS: Sometimes they feel too much like a puzzle, on purpose. The challenge is to figure out what’s going on. Whereas this, to me, is more immediate: you don’t have to work at deciphering the action, which allows you to just become invested in these characters and their situation. There’s no plot puzzle to solve here.

MF: I first came up with these two characters then wondered: How did they end up being in the same place, holding hands like this? As I was thinking about it, it almost offered a little film to me. The beginning pages of the book were very clear, to the point where the farmer walks across the field and sees that clown.

RS: The farmer kind of looks like the long arm of the law as he’s approaching.

MF: And I thought, “I have to get this down on paper. I don’t want to lose it. But I don’t know what’s going to happen after this moment.” So I worked on thumbnails and little dummies, trying to nail down the story so it didn’t disappear. There’s something about it operating like a film but then having to freeze. I love animation, and I’m very inspired by it. Sometimes I think certain ideas that I’m playing with would be better done as animation than in a picture book, where you have to choose that exact moment to portray. And you have the page turn, which is unique to the picture book — it’s such an incredible tool, but it can sometimes get in your way. I always spend a lot of time in those initial explorations trying to figure out: is this form the right form for this story to be in, and if so, how do I tell it? I feel like those initial explorations are really the architecture. I think that’s why I said in the beginning it takes time. I can’t imagine doing it any faster. Because some of those realizations just take so long to come to me. It’s not immediate.

RS: You just have to let them wander around in your head for a while.

MF: I do. This book was very dreamy. Once I had the picture story in place and it was just a matter of executing it, it was also a really dreamy experience for me to sink into the actual time of making the pictures. The world was so spare.

RS: It’s a very dreamy landscape as well.

MF: Thank you. I really wanted it to feel like that. That’s how I was feeling about it. There’s just something about those two characters being so by themselves, in their own world for that short time

RS: It’s kind of amazing when you think about what we can get away with in picture books. If you just described this situation — a child gets tossed off a train, in the middle of the desert, and there’s this old man, and he comes and takes the child to his house.

MF: Trust me, I know. Those closest to me will ask, “What are you working on?” and I’ll say something like what you just said, and they’ll say, “Oh my god. Are you serious?”


More on Marla Frazee from The Horn Book

share save 171 16 Marla Frazee Talks with Roger

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15. Program in a Post: Playdough!

With this post, $25 of pantry items and some junk, you can host a delightful Petite Picasso (preschool) program with playdough!

Supplies:

  • Pantry items (flour, salt, etc., see recipe) ($25)
  • Plastic bags or containers for storing the dough ($0-$5)
  • Various junk (cookie cutters, receipt rolls, rulers, craft sticks, etc.)

Use the playdough recipe in MaryAnn Kohl’s First Art: Art Experiences for Toddlers & Twos to turn flour, water, food coloring and a few other items into pliable, shapeable, squeezable, colorful dough before your program.

Room setup: Tables (with the legs folded up, just put the tabletop directly on the floor) each with a variety of junk and one color of dough.

Format: Petite Picasso one hour long open house.

Preschoolers and their grown ups had a great time rolling out, cutting up and building with the brightly colored dough. There was a fair amount of prep work involved to make the stove top dough, but the consistency of the finished product was fantastic. Try this program for some squishy, squashy fun!

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16. A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

I'm still incredibly busy with our three-month old little girl and haven't really had time for art, but I'm trying to keep my fingers in it and as such, I'll be participating in a group show next week.  This will be my first ever gallery showing, so I'm really looking forward to it!  I'll be showing only older work, but it's still a great chance to come and see original works up close by fourteen different artists.  If you're in the area, I hope you can make it!



A sampling of the pieces I'll be showing is here:
http://www.northtexasillustrators.com/project/phyllis-hornung-peacock/http://www.northtexasillustrators.com/project/phyllis-hornung-peacock/

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17. Garth Nix on Clariel

nix clariel Garth Nix on ClarielIn the September/October 2014 Horn Book Magazine, reviewer Katie Bircher asked Garth Nix about Clariel, the long-awaited prequel to his high fantasy trilogy Sabriel, Lirael, and Abhorsen. Read the review here.

Katie Bircher: Do you think the walker chooses the path, or the path the walker? Which is it in Clariel’s case?

Garth Nix: This is one of those questions that doesn’t have an answer, or the answer changes all the time. In Clariel’s case, she chooses her own path, but there are definitely forces at work that both influence her choice and limit her selection of paths. Neither predestination nor entirely free will, but a mixture of both…

From the September/October 2014 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

share save 171 16 Garth Nix on Clariel

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18. Apply for a Free 3D Printer from 3D Systems!

3D Systems, in collaboration with YALSA, is committed to expanding young people’s access to 21st century tools like 3D design, 3D scanning and 3D printing.  The MakerLab Club is a brand new community of thousands of U.S. libraries and museums committed to advancing 3D digital literacy via dedicated equipment, staff training and increased public access.

3D Systems is donating up to 4,000 new 3D printers to libraries and museums across the country who join the MakerLab Club and provide access to 3D printing and design programs and services for their communities.  Libraries can apply to be part of the MakerLab Club via an online application. now until November 17th, 2014. Donated printers will be allocated on a competitive basis.

ELIGIBILITY AND MEMBERSHIP REQUIREMENTS
Membership in the MakerLab Club is available to libraries committed to creating or expanding makerlabs and/or making activities and to providing community access to 3D printers and digital design.

MAKER LAB CLUB BENEFITS
Libraries can receive up to four donated Cube 3D printers, as well as regular access to workshop curricula and content via webinars. Libraries will also receive exclusive equipment discounts and opportunities to win free hardware and software. In addition to resources and training library staff can join and participate in communities of practice in order to exchange ideas and best practices.

LEARN MORE ABOUT MAKING

Learn more about making in libraries via the resources on YALSA’s wiki, including a free webinar and downloadable toolkit.  And be sure to mark your calendar for March 8 – 14, 2015 when we celebrate Teen Tech Week with the theme “Libraries are for Making ____________.”

 

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19. How Long Would it Take You to Read the ‘Harry Potter’ Series?: INFOGRAPHIC

blinkboxHow long would it take you to read J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series from start to finish? Blinkbox Books, a digital book retailer, has created an interactive infographic for readers who wish to test their reading speed.

Thus far, more than 100,000 people have taken this quiz. Try it out for yourself—we’ve embedded the entire infographic below.

(more…)

New Career Opportunities Daily: The best jobs in media.

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20. Markus - Ich bin nicht Spiderman (offizielles Video)

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21. ‘The Fault in Our Stars’ Gets Banned in Riverside Middle Schools

tfioscoverJohn Green’s The Fault in Our Stars has been banned in the middle schools within the Riverside Unified School District (based in California).

Vanity Fair reports that a parent named Karen Krueger raised a complaint against the popular young adult novel because she “felt the morbid plot, crude language, and sexual content was inappropriate for her children.” Krueger convinced a committee of educators and guardians put it to a vote which resulted in this act of censorship.

Green shared his reaction to this situation on Tumblr. He claims to feel both happy and sad; the sadness comes from a desire “to introduce the idea that human beings die to the children of Riverside, California and thereby crush their dreams of immortality.” What do you think?

New Career Opportunities Daily: The best jobs in media.

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22. Your Story 62: Submit Now!

Prompt: Write a short story, of 750 words or fewer, that begins with the following sentence: I knew it was a mistake the moment it was over.

You can be funny, poignant, witty, etc.; it is, after all, your story.

Use the submission form below OR email your submission directly to yourstorycontest@fwmedia.com.

IMPORTANT: If you experience trouble with the submission form, please email your submission directly to yourstorycontest@fwmedia.com within the body of your email (no attachments please).

Unfortunately, we cannot respond to every entry we receive, due to volume. No confirmation emails will be sent out to confirm receipt of submission. But be assured all submissions received before entry deadline are considered carefully. Official Rules

Entry Deadline: November 24, 2014

Your Story Entry Form

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23. Oh Dear, Some People Are Just Dumb-Asses

I posted that all free event publicity was over.  I even forwarded the link as well as the item to event organisers.  They are still trying to get free publicity -they deny me a table (that I'm willing to pay for) or a free press pass but they want me to do free work for them.  No.  Just no.

Then we have the 'friends' still trying to cadge free publicity and free feedback on their new books.  These are the 'friends' who NEVER read CBO or Face Book because "I'm too busy. I have 160/200 friends and I don't check all of them" -great friends to have.

I point out again that I have asked these people as friends and people who I have helped a lot in their early careers and later without ever asking for anything in return.  But when I ask for just a mention or a link on their blogs/pages every excuse going comes forth.

No. "Friends" help each other out.

You want to name call at events where you think no one knows me or tells me what goes on then just carry on. I've spent over three decades helping other people now I'd like some return.

http://hoopercomicart.blogspot.co.uk/2014/09/no-event-is-exempted.html

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24. Philip Weinstein to Pen Jonathan Franzen Biography

franzenAuthor Philip Weinstein plans to pen a biography profiling writer Jonathan Franzen. Reportedly, Franzen himself has given his “blessing” for this project.

Bloomsbury will publish Jonathan Franzen: The Comedy of Rage in Fall 2015. Weinstein has conducted a two-hour interview with Franzen; he will also source information from Franzen’s autobiographical essays. The book will also include an analysis of the new novel that Franzen has been working on.

In an interview with The New York Times, Weinstein explains the concept of the book: “It doesn’t pretend to be a full-scale biography. It’s too early for that. He’s in full career mode. Someone later, a generation from now, will do that biography. It’s a report on who he is.” (via Gawker)

New Career Opportunities Daily: The best jobs in media.

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25. Stevie Nicks with ewok friend. (Via.)

Stevie Nicks with ewok friend. (Via.)

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