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<<October 2016>>
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Happy Halloween!

 I just wanted to remind folks of this terrific Halloween event being put on by Curious City. What a great way to put stories into the hands of children! Read all about it here!

Or better yet, watch their video!

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2. Presidential Polar Bear Post Card Project No. 267 - 10.21.16

Yes, polar bears are THAT "Big" #inktober2016 While starting life at just over a pound, adult male bears (boars) can weigh as 800-1500 pounds and adult females  (sows) somewhere between 400-700.

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3. “Tap, Click, Read” Toolkit – Promoting Early Literacy in a World of Screens

cooney center first book

The following is a guest blog post from Michael H. Levine & Lisa Guernsey, authors of the book Tap, Click, Read.

Kids today use a wide variety of tools to learn. How do educators adapt teaching tactics to effectively use modern day tools?

New America and the Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop have become known for our joint research and analysis on how digital technologies could be used to improve, instead of impede, early literacy. We have collaborated on the book Tap, Click, Read and developed a toolkit designed to help educators put these insights into practice. The Tap, Click, Read toolkit – comprised of fourteen research-based resources including tipsheets, discussion guides, ratings lists, and a quiz—are now downloadable for free on the First Book Marketplace.

On the First Book Marketplace you’ll find resources for educators, caregivers, and community leaders:

  • What Educators Can Do—A list of recommendations for updating teaching methods, working with libraries and public media, and more.
  • What Parents Can Do—A list of ideas for parents and caregivers, including the importance of listening to and talking with children about the media they use and why.
  • How to Use Media to Support Children’s Home Language—Used well, media can spark opportunities for children to converse with their family members at home in their native languages. This helps them build a foundation for learning English too.
  • How to Promote Creation and Authorship—Children need to learn what it means to be a creator, not just a consumer, of media. New tools bring this concept to life.
  • How to Find Apps for Literacy Learning—Choose wisely. Use app-review sites and advice from literacy experts to find materials that match your students’ needs.
  • The Three C’s—Content, context, and the individual child. Become more mindful in using digital technology with young children by taking this quiz.
  • A Modern Action Plan for States and Communities—A guide for community and state leaders on how to make progress in solving America’s reading crisis and strengthening family-centered approaches that will endure over time.
  • 12 Actions to Take Now—A one-page list of “must-dos” for community leaders, district administrators, and policymakers to break out of the literacy crisis and bring opportunities to all children.

We are so proud to team up with First Book to provide the children you serve with access to quality 21st-century literacy opportunities.  Click here to learn more about our partnership, and visit the Joan Ganz Cooney Center blog for more resources that guide learning through digital tools – including bilingual video vignettes and discussion guides.


The post “Tap, Click, Read” Toolkit – Promoting Early Literacy in a World of Screens appeared first on First Book Blog.

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4. Coming Soon in Pancake Art!

Hi Friends!

I'm excited to announce that "Lessons from a Whale" will be our brand new pancake art series for the year on my YouTube channel! Yay! Stay tuned!!

In keeping with our whale theme, I painted a whale for the kids bathroom using foam, glitter, blue rocks and acrylic paint. This was such a fun project!!

Have a happy weekend!

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5. ‘Mynarski Death Plummet’ by Matthew Rankin

An expressionistic portrait of the final minutes in the life of Winnipeg’s doomed Second World War hero, Andrew Mynarski.

The post ‘Mynarski Death Plummet’ by Matthew Rankin appeared first on Cartoon Brew.

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6. Poetry Friday is Here Today!

**Apologies, folks. I set the schedule as I always do for 12:01. Apparently, this time around I hit PM instead of AM. I'm here and ready to go!**

“I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.” (Anne of Green Gables, chapter 16).

Today I'm sharing Frost.

by Robert Frost

O hushed October morning mild,
Thy leaves have ripened to the fall;
Tomorrow’s wind, if it be wild,
Should waste them all.
The crows above the forest call;
Tomorrow they may form and go.
O hushed October morning mild,
Begin the hours of this day slow.
Make the day seem to us less brief.

Read the poem in its entirety.

I'm hosting Poetry Friday today, so please leave your links in the comments and I'll round you up old-school style. Happy Poetry Friday all!

Michelle Heidenrich Barnes of Today's Little Ditty reveals the cover of her new publication, The Best of Today's Little Ditty 2014-2015, and shares an interview with the illustrator.

Matt Forrest of Radio, Rhythm, & Rhyme shares an original poem entitled Clematis.

Buffy Silverman of Buffy's Blog is sharing two recently published poems.

Laura Purdie Salas shares the poem Ambush from Jane Yolen's new book, THE ALLIGATOR'S SMILE AND OTHER POEMS.

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7. Poetry Friday with a review of Animal School: What Class are You?

I have been reviewing books since the early 2000's and over the years I have noticed changes taking place in the children's book world. These changes include the rise of ebooks, the growth of the graphic novel world, and the advancement of what I call nonfiction poetry. These days poets are using their writings to both entertain and educate their readers, teaching them about history, science, geography and other subjects through their poems.

Today's poetry book is just such a nonfiction poetry title. It helps young readers to get to know the animal family that we humans belong to.

Animal School: What Class Are You?Animal School: What Class are You?
Michelle Lord
Illustrated by Michael Garland
Nonfiction Poetry Picture Book
For ages 5 to 7
Holiday House, 2014, 978-0-8234-3045-1
We humans belong to a group of animals called vertebrates. All the animals in this group have spines, and they are divided up into what are called “classes.” The classes that belong in the vertebrates group are mammals, fish, reptiles, amphibians, and birds. Some fly and some swim, some have fur, while others have skin, scales, or feathers. The number of vertebrate species that live on earth is enormous, and they are very diverse, but they are all nevertheless connected because they have a string of bones running down their back.
   In this splendid poetry picture book, the author uses poems to introduce us to the classes of animals that belong to the vertebrate family. She begins with the reptiles, telling us what makes reptiles special. We learn, for example, that turtles rely on the sun to warm them up, and when they need to “chill out” they find some cool mud to dig into. Reptiles are interesting because they can either lay eggs or give birth to live young. Many reptiles, like cobras, leave their babies to fend for themselves, but some adopt a different strategy. Alligator mothers are very protective of their young, and when their babies are very small the large and fearsome looking mamas carry them around in their mouths.
   We next move on to fish. These animals are able to get oxygen from the water that they swim in. They have smooth skin that is sometimes “cloaked / in flaky scales,” and are cold-blooded animals, like reptiles.
   The next class the author explores in the one we humans belong to; the mammals. Unlike reptiles, fish, and amphibians, mammals are warm-blooded and they always give birth to live young. Most of them get about on legs and they have “stick-out ears,” which none of the other vertebrates have.
   The author then goes on to tell us about birds, creatures with “hollow bones” and “Feathers that take them / through the sky.” Amphibians follow. Though these animals come in many shapes and sizes, they are have to be born in water, and most need to be in or around water their entire lives.
   This book helps children to better understand the family of animals that they belong to. They will see how the animals in the classes are different and yet also the same, and how they have adapted to occupy the niches that they live in. On the pages readers will see pictures of tadpoles and frogs, a rabbit, a sea horse, an iguana, a congregation of alligators and more. They will see the marvelous variety that can be found in our invertebrate family.

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8. I can know this is not #inktober2016 worthy, because it’s...

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9. TRUMP: A Verse about the Worst EVER Presidential Nominee

I do try to remain apolitical on Wild Rose Reader--but I have had it with the Republican nominee for president. So, I wrote a little verse about him. I hope he doesn't sue me!
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 TRUMP: A Verse about the Worst EVER Presidential Nominee

With roadkill for hair and a pumpkin-colored face,
Could Donald Trump WIN the Presidential race?
He’s braggart, a blowhard, a rich old buffoon
Who lives a sheltered life in his Trump Tower cocoon.
He’s a bigot…a racist…a misogynist—
And let’s also add “big fat liar” to the list!
Does a grabber…a groper…a tongue-down-the-throater
Really appeal to the American voter?


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Triciahas the Poetry Friday Roundup at The Miss Rumphius Effect.

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10. Middle Grade vs. Young Adult

There are several key differences between these two types of novels.


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We've selected a subgenre, created external scenes and antagonist scenes. Now let's take a look at how the friends and foes complicate the situation.

Interpersonal Conflict scenes are where the protagonist consults a priest about banishing the demon. 

He learns from the librarian that all ghosts have unfinished business.

His buddy tells him he is crazy for believing in ghosts in the first place. 

This is usually where they learn the monster’s Achilles heel. 

The hero finds someone to let him into the witch’s castle. 

People will encourage him to stay and fight and some will beg him to flee. 

Some people will act for him or against him.

Next week, we'll finish up with internal conflict scenes.

For more about how to craft plots using conflict check out, Story Building Blocks: The Four Layers of conflict available in print and e-book and check out the free tools and information about the series on my website.

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12. This little #devil is starting to come along nicely. #sketch...

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Favorite pet pictures for today!

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14. Cybils Speculative Reader: WOLF BY WOLF by RYAN GRAUDIN

Welcome to the 2016 Cybils Speculative Reader! As a first run reader for the Cybils, I'll be briefly introducing you to the books on the list, giving you a mostly unbiased look at some of the plot.Enjoy! Synopsis: In a series of flashbacks, the... Read the rest of this post

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15. Writers Conference


Logo for the Johnson County Library

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16. An Actual Salute to Amazon in One of our Stories!

So as we mentioned in previous posts, if it weren't for Amazon, we'd all just be a gleam in Deedy's eye! (That would be the eye of Dorothea Jensen, FYI.) Once she found out that she could publish books on Amazon via CreateSpace and KFP, she started scribbling down our stories like CRAZY,  and every single one of them has won honors/awards!

We also wrote a post about the time we freaked out because our books were shown as OUT OF STOCK at Amazon just a week or two before CHRISTMAS. As you might recall, we e-mailed Jeff Bezos about this and threatened to rat him out to Santa, personally. Jeff fixed that problem ASAP. (Even Jeff Bezos doesn't want coal in his Christmas stocking, apparently.)

In order to pay tribute to Amazon's role in our stories coming into being, we consulted with Deedy and decided she could put something in the latest one (Frizzy, the S.A.D. Elf) that had a direct reference (slightly disguised) to Amazon's wishlists. Here's what she wrote for us:

Soon Bizzy came in with his camera gear.
“I’ll tell you, dear Frizzy, the reason I’m here.
I need to take pix of your monster truck toys
To find out how much they appeal to young boys,
Or girls, for that matter, who like such a thing,
And want it enough to ask Santa to bring.
For S.C. has learned there are wishlists galore
Where children can add the new toys they adore,
With multiple websites where each kid can post
A list of the gifts he or she wants the most.   
Now Santa is eager to try this e-tool
To know in advance just what items are cool,
To help him make certain, upon Christmas Eve,
He has the right toys when he’s ready to leave.
So he wants to e-show off all toys that are new
And find out who adds them to which wishing queue.
He does still read letters that make their way here,
But wishlists are added to all through the year.
They’ll give The Big Picture to guide Elf Construction
And help Santa Claus to plan out toy production.”

              - Bizzy, the S.A.D. Elf  © 2014 by Dorothea Jensen
So there you have it, our Salute to Amazon.

Thanks again for letting Deedy share our stories with the world!

Much love from,

Bizzy, Blizzy, Dizzy, Fizzy, Frizzy, Quizzy, Tizzy, and Whizzy.

Tizzy Honors and Reviews
Blizzy Honors and Reviews

Dizzy Honors and Reviews
Frizzy Honors and Reviews

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17. Feeling Neglected?

I am busy preparing for the Quaker Craft Fair tomorrow. (Oct. 22nd, 2016 from 10 am to 3 pm).  So I have not posted this week.

This does not mean that I stopped reading.  I continue to revisit cozy mysteries from my past with Nancy Atherton's Aunt Dimity series. 

I read Wolf Hollow by Lauren Wolk.  I owe you a review.  Til then, click through to see what Goodreads folks have to say about this historical middle grade fiction.  My opinion?  Good read.

Well I have to open up the Meeting House at 7 am.  So good night!

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18. Halloween Poems for Kids

It’s time for Halloween poetry! Here are some of my elementary students’ favorites poems about the holiday:

by David McCord

Mr. Macklin takes his knife
And carves the yellow pumpkin face:
Three holes bring eyes and nose to life,
The mouth has thirteen teeth in place.
Then Mr. Macklin just for fun
Transfers the corn-cob pipe from his
Wry mouth to Jack’s, and everyone
Dies laughing!

Click here to read the rest of the poem.
(From ONE AT A TIME—Little, Brown, 1974)

by Aileen Fisher

We mask our faces
and wear strange hats
and moan like witches
and screech like cats
and jump like goblins
and thump like elves
and almost manage
to scare ourselves.

( From OUT IN THE DARK AND DAYLIGHT—Harper & Row, 1980)

by Lilian Moore

Look at that!
Ghosts lined up
at the laundromat,
all around the

Each has
and some
Each one seems to
think it

to take a spin
in a
washing machine

before the

(From SEE MY LOVELY POISON IVY—Atheneum, 1975)

by Karla Kuskin

Over the hills
Where the edge of the light
Deepens and darkens
To ebony night,
Narrow hats high
Above yellow bead eyes,
The tatter-haired witches
Ride through the skies.
Over the seas
Where the flat fishes sleep
Wrapped in the slap of the slippery deep,
Over the peaks
Where the black trees are bare,
Where bony birds quiver
They glide through the air.
Silently humming
A horrible tune,
They sweep through the stillness
To sit on the moon.

(From DOGS & DRAGONS, TREES & DREAMS—Harper & Row, 1980)

by Valerie Worth

After its lid
is cut, the slick
Seeds and stuck
Wet strings
Scooped out,
walls scraped
Dry and white,
Face carved, candle
Fixed and lit,

Light creeps
into the thick
Rind: giving
That dead orange
Vegetable skull
Warm skin, making
A live head
To hold its
Sharp gold grin.

(From ALL THE SMALL POEMS—Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1987)


Triciahas the Poetry Friday Roundup at The Miss Rumphius Effect.

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19. Pouring

The rain is pouring steady down,
The puddles all expanding,
While outdoor venue owners frown
With Plan B thoughts commanding.

The parched brown lawns and wilted leaves,
Though, welcome all the water
For Nature's magic, up her sleeves,
Keeps everything in order.

A rainy day may spoil some plans
No matter what the season,
But even those non-downpour fans
Must bow to earthly reason.

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20. Road Trip Reading #3

This weekend is a four day weekend for schools in our state so we are going to visit my oldest son in college! I will have to be driving, though, so I won't get a lot of reading done in the car.  Hopefully I will have time to read while I am away.  I am in the middle of reading Scary Out There and am loving it!  I am also reading Shuffle Repeat because it just came in with our latest order at school.  Fingers crossed that I come back having finished both!

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21. Photo

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22. My Ah-ha Writing Class

I’ve made my share of confessions here on this blog. I wrote about my struggle to keep a notebook here and here. There’s more. Now that school is in full swing, making time… Continue reading

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This week on EMU'S DEBUTS, we're celebrating the release of Elly Swartz's debut novel, FINDING PERFECT.

We have many terrific posts about Elly's middle-grade novel, a story about an OCD girl determined to have a perfect family. I especially enjoyed today's post, were Hayley Barrett asks, "What advice would you give your 12-year old self?" I think it's interesting to pause for a moment and think about yourself at a younger age, consider where you were then and how far you've come to where you are now.

What would you say to your younger self?

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24. Another FREE kindle ebook for kids!! TREASURE is FREE!

My kindle ebook for kids, TREASURE is free!

Now TREASURE is FREE!  (from 21st - 23rd October)

Cover image of mouse in treasure chest


Illustration of bear waking up and deciding to search for treasure
Illustration of Bear going to hardware store to buy treasure hunting essentials
Illustration of a shovel, a hat, a pair of boots and a rucksack to put treasure in

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25. Cynsational News & Giveaways

By Cynthia Leitich Smith
for Cynsations

Suspense or Manipulation? by Claudia Mills from Smack Dab in the Middle. Peek: "Vary chapter endings so that some can offer, e.g., satisfying closure on a scene, or a humorous or serious reflection."

Synopsizing Your Way to Success by Vaughn Roycroft from Writer Unboxed. Peek: "What I mean is, the words came pouring out, in a way they hadn’t in weeks. Much more so than they would be if I’d plunged in cold, or if I’d started a scene chart."

Smarter Not to Rhyme My Picture Book? by Deborah Halverson from Dear Editor. Peek: "That’ll give you the read-aloud quality you’re probably aiming for, but without the challenges inherent in trying to tell a story while maneuvering the rules of rhyme."

Finding Your Way Into a Story by April Bradley from Writers Helping Writers. Peek: "Character is a writer’s lodestone, and we enter our stories in various ways through them: what they want, what they’re doing, how they look, what they think, how they feel."

What's Your Character's Hook? Does Your Hero or Heroine Have A Special Skill or Talent? by Angela Ackerman from Adventures in YA Publishing. Peek: "What you choose for your character doesn’t have to be mainstream–in fact, sometimes unusual talents add originality (like knowing how to hot wire a car…especially if the character happens to be a high school principal!)"

Interview: Mark Gottlieb, Literary Agent at Trident Media, by Darcy Pattison from Fiction Notes. Peek: "So it really depends but I try my best to leave creative decision matters ultimately up to the author and/or editor in order to avoid stepping on any toes." See also Top Children's Literary Agents, 2016-2017 (YA, MG, PB). Note: based on reported, not total, sales.

On Writing the American Familia by Meg Medina from The Horn Book. Peek: "That’s an experience familiar to fifty-four million people — seventeen percent of our population — who identify as Latino in the U.S. today. So it’s fair to say that I’m writing about the American family."

Got a ‘reluctant reader’? Try poetry, says author Kwame Alexander by Julie Hakim Azzam from the Pittsburgh Post Gazette. Peek: "Sports, he said, 'is a great metaphor for life,' and a lure to talk about other things such as family and friendships." See also Teen Read Week by Sylvia Vardell from Poetry for Children.

Revise or Give Up? by Mary Kole from Kidlit.com. Peek: "If there are weaknesses to your manuscript that you or someone else has identified, or if it’s in a very crowded category (zombies, for example) and you just don’t know if you can make a dent, I would really dig in to the area that needs work."

How Your Hero's Past Pain Will Determine His Character Flaws by Angela Ackerman from Writers Helping Writers. Peek: "In real life, who we are now is a direct result of our own past, and so in fiction, we need to look at who our story’s cast were before they stepped onto the doorstep of our novel."

Thoughts on Stereotypes by Allie Jane Bruce from Reading While White. Peek: "The fact that (most) people don’t believe that any one of these stereotypes applies to the entire population of Black women doesn’t mean that they’re not stereotypes."

Things Boys Have Asked Me by Joe Jiménez from Latinix in Kidlit. Peek: "Sometimes we might even forget they are there. Other times, we let these questions stick to us, like splinters, buried in our hands and feet."

Managing Crowds of Characters from Elizabeth Spann Craig. Peek: "...my tricks this time didn’t seem to work that well, at least for this particular regular reader. As well, I didn’t use as many of my reminder tags/dialogue clues."

Character Motivation Thesaurus Entry: Stopping an Event from Happening by Becca Puglisi from Writers Helping Writers. Peek: "(Inner Motivation): safety and security."

Writing a Series: How Much Do We Need to Plan Ahead? from Jami Gold. Peek: "...for those who write by the seat of their pants or for those who like experimenting with ideas even as plotters, the story of their current book might be a mystery, much less the stories of future releases."

Do Your Settings Contain Emotional Value? by Angela Ackerman from Writers Helping Writers. Peek: "...even though time has passed, an echo of that old hurt and rejection will affect him while in this restaurant."

Windows & Mirrors: Promoting Diverse Books for the Holidays & Beyond by Judith Rosen from Publishers Weekly. Peek: "Last fall children’s booksellers in the Northern California Children’s Booksellers Alliance and the New England Children’s Booksellers Advisory Council challenged each other to see which region could sell the most diverse books in the weeks leading up to Christmas. This year that challenge is back."

Character Rules by Yamile S. Méndez from Project Middle Grade Mayhem. Peek: "I've compiled a list of ways in which I can explore my characters' traits to understand their desires, goals, and motivations from which all my stories enfold."

Cynsational Giveaways
This Week at Cynsations

More Personally

Wow! I'm honored that my picture book Jingle Dancer (Morrow/HarperCollins)(discussion guide) is highlighted on the Native American Children's Literature Recommended Reading List and Discussion Guide from the First Nations Development Institute in Celebration of Native American Heritage Month.

Peek: "First Nations partnered with Debbie Reese, Ph.D. (Nambé Pueblo)... The idea is to encourage a 'national read' and discussion about these important Native narratives." See also Ten Ways You Can Make a Difference. #NativeReads

What else? In the wake of the recent presidential debates, I've been thinking about gender-power dynamics with regard to joint public speaking events.

Male authors frequently interrupt or punctuate female authors' answers with their own opinions. The one male author on a panel will likely say more than his three female co-panelists put together, never mind their efforts to graciously participate or the fact that they don't interrupt him. Moderators too often serve only to reinforce these predispositions.

This is so common that women children's-YA writers frequently joke about the symbolism of the microphone. It's humor that comes from pain, plus truth, plus a determination to prosper anyway. It's a coping device that shouldn't be necessary.

At this moment in the national dialogue, let's clean our own house and do better in the future.

Are you on Instagram? Find me @cynthialeitichsmith. See also Instagram for Authors by Stephanie Scott from Adventures in YA Publishing.

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