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1. Poetry Monday: Trees

A nice poem to start off your week! Today, we’ve chosen a poem from our new fall title, Lend a Hand: Poems About Givingto share with you:

Trees

I doubt

many people

will pay much attention

to a few scrawny saplings

on this harsh city street.

But if any of these people

are here years from now,

enjoying the shade

in the heat of the summer

or the dazzle of color

on the branches in fall,

maybe they’ll remember

what this street once looked like

and go to a place

in need of some trees,

and plant a few saplings

like I’m doing today.

Lend a Hand

If you’re interested in planting trees in your area, check out some of these great organizations:

TreePeople (Based in Los Angeles)

Million Trees NYC (Based in New York City)

The Nature Conservancy – Plant a Billion Trees (National)


Filed under: New Releases Tagged: books, lend a hand, planting trees, poetry, poetry Monday, trees

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2. Making Math Fun

Getting kids excited about math can be a challenge.   Because there are expected to be more than eight million STEM jobs in the United States by 2018, math skills are becoming more and more important for today’s student. If today’s student lacks math skills, three million of tomorrow’s jobs may go unfilled.

MathStart is an award-winning series filled with visual representations of math concepts through light-hearted, kid-inspired stories.  Vetted by a team of math teachers, MathStart makes math skills for kids ages three to seven interesting by showing young characters using math in everyday experiences.  Plus, each book comes with teaching tools and activity suggestions for educators.

To inspire kids to enjoy math and to meet the challenge of creating a strong workforce for the future, First Book teamed up with the American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers (AFPM) to bring this collection of books to the First Book Marketplace.

The First Book Marketplace now carries two books from each level of the series:

Jack the Builder ThumbJack the Builder (Age 3+):  Jack uses his imagination and all shapes and colors of his blocks to create different creatures and objects teaching kids beginning number operations and counting.

 

Just Enough Carrots ThumbJust Enough Carrots (Age 3+): Join young rabbit at the supermarket to compare what items each character is buying and learn about addition, subtraction, “more,” “fewer” and “the same.”

 

Elevator Magic ThumbElevator Magic (Age 6+) :  Brian rides the elevator at his mother’s work and discovers new things on each floor.  Along the way kids learn the number line and subtraction.

 

 

Tally O'Malley ThumbTally O’Malley (Age 6+):  On a family vacation the O’Malleys start a tallying competition to pass the time, teaching kids how to keep track of numbers as they count.

 

Lemonade for Sale ThumbLemonade for Sale (Age 7+):  The member’s of Elm Street Kids’ club decide to sell lemonade to raise money to fix their clubhouse, tracking their business on a bar graph.  Kids learn gathering data, charting and comparing results.

 

Shark Swimathon ThumbShark Swim-A-Thon (Age 7+):  This fun story about a team of sharks swimming laps to raise funds for camp helps reinforce the skill of two-digit subtraction.

 

Do you work with kids in need?  Sign Up with First Book today to gain access to this great math series.

The post Making Math Fun appeared first on First Book Blog.

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3. Getting Uncomfortable With Your Personal Professional Development Plan

When I went to library school a few decades ago, we learned that in order to provide high-quality library service to youth it was imperative to read library professional literature and attend library related local, regional, state, and national conferences. Today, I’d say, that while it’s possible to provide good library services to teens by focusing one’s personal professional development on the library world, to provide great service to a wide-variety of teens from a wide-variety of demographics it’s imperative to move outside of the library silo. This idea is summed up really well in a recent Twitter exchange.


The conversation took place after @mlhartman attended a TedXEd event (#TEDxBvilleED) and was able to participate in presentations and conversations that included a variety of people involved in the education world (I highly recommend reading the #TEDxBvilleED stream of Tweets as they are quite educational and inspiring.)

If you think about it, getting out of the library silo for professional development is really another way of learning about the community. If you are only hearing from the librarian perspective what is going on in your community, then you aren’t really engaging with the people that you need to serve. It’s the same thing with continuous learning and professional development. If you only talk with people just like you, then you aren’t learning what you need to know in order to serve those that have different ideas than you and your library friends and colleagues do.

It’s possible that part of the reason lots of librarians focus on library related professional development is that there is a comfort factor in reading library literature and going to library conferences. It’s a world that you (and I) know pretty well. It’s a world where you speak the same language as those presenting and writing. But, that’s actually why it’s important to move beyond and start seeking out opportunities that force you out of your learning comfort zone. And, I’d even suggest, that when you are uncomfortable learning entirely new things, ideas will be born that otherwise would never have surfaced.


Now, I’m not saying that you should give up library related professional development entirely, and you might actually want to start in your uncomfortable journey learning about library-related topics that you might think you don’t need to know about, or aren’t interested in. For example, if you tend to focus on YA literature enroll in a YALSA webinar on teens and tech. Or, if you have a very tech focused approach to teen services, register for the YALSA YA Lit Symposium or participate in a YALSA webinar that it YA lit focused.

Beyond that, seek out opportunities to connect digitally and face-to-face with those outside of your library community. Find a TedX event or take a class at a maker space in your area. Follow people and organizations on Twitter that have nothing to do with what you tend to focus on in your library services to teens. Read about educational trends that go beyond Common Core. Try a conference that is not sponsored by a library organization.

There are a lot of opportunities to learn about the best ways to serve teens in 2014 and beyond. Be creative and think outside of the library professional development box. By doing that you’ll expand your opportunities to provide great services to teens and their families in your community.

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4. Snapshot Monday

I am currently reading SECOND STAR by Alyssa B. Sheinmel.  It's a modern retelling of Peter Pan.  I am really enjoying it so far!  (I started it because my son is in a local production of PeterPan and after watching some rehearsals decided to give this story a try!)

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5. “Ella’s World: The Snow Pig” by Bill Wray and Jose Cubero

"Ella's World" is a new cartoon show developed by Bill Wray from initial concept and characters by Jose Cubero.

0 Comments on “Ella’s World: The Snow Pig” by Bill Wray and Jose Cubero as of 9/22/2014 1:12:00 PM
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6. The Last Breath by Kimberly Belle


Was it her husband, her lover, or an intruder that took Ella Mae's last breath?

Regardless of who the guilty party was, her husband, Ray Andrews, was convicted and sent to prison for sixteen years.  Ray was now on his way home but not because he had served his sentence but because he was dying of cancer. Will his children be there to greet him or have they forgotten him as they did when he was in prison?

THE LAST BREATH moves from past to present telling the story of Ella Mae's life before she was suffocated with Saran Wrap and her daughter's life as her father comes home.


While Gia Andrews struggles with coming home and having to face the shame of what happened sixteen years ago and finding out if her father really did kill her mother, you also follow her through her sexual romps.   Her mother's romps with her lover were also part of  storyline and definitely were a part of solving the mystery.  These descriptions aren't graphic, but I had to give a warning.
  :)

As Gia investigates, she questions her uncle who was her father's attorney about his defense and if everything was truly done to prove Ray's innocence. Could the evidence all have been false or contrived and the real killer still be free? 

Gia had to know. Would the professor writing a book about her father have the real facts or would it all be water under the bridge for now?

The book was tense and made me anxious to find out the truth and oh so good​ because you can't figure out who the guilty party really was.  You think you have it and then you change your mind.

The ending has a surprise, and it is an ending that I really liked.  :) 4/5

If you read the book, please let me know what you thought.

This book was given to me free of charge and without compensation by the publisher in return for an honest review.

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7. A Horse Called Hero by Sam Angus

It's 1940, and British soldiers have just been evacuated from Dunkirk, but Dodo (Dorothy) Revel and her younger brother Wolfie, 8, still haven't heard from their Pa, Captain Revel.  When a telegram arrives, Spud, the children's housekeeper, tells them the sad news that their Pa is missing.  Later that night, however, the children overhear Spud talking to someone that seems to indicate something else about Pa.

Next thing Dodo and Wolfie know, they are being evacuated to Dulverton, North Devon.  Billeted with a reluctant woman whose son is off fighting, their only relief is at school with their kind teacher Miss Lamb.  One day, on their way home from school, Dodo and Wolfie find a newborn foal.  For Wolfie, it's a miracle.  Pa had loved horses and knew a lot about them, much of which he had already taught Wolfie.  Dodo and Wolfie decide to hide the foal, now named Hero for Captain Revel, with the help of a local boy named Ned.

When word breaks that Captain Revel is being charged with desertion and disobedience at Dunkirk, Mrs. Sprig decides she can't have his children living with her.  Luckily, they end up with Miss Lamb and her elderly father, Rev. Lamb.  There is even a place for the growing Hero there.

Life is better with the Lambs, though not at school.  The whole nation is following Captain Revel's court-martial and his children are bearing the brunt of people's anger.  It is a slow process and as time goes by life gets harder, with increasing shortages and rationing.  Hettie Lamb has been watching over a small herd of Exmoor ponies, which are slowly disappearing.  During a particularly cold snowy winter, the ponies are rounded up, and, along with Hero, put into a pen where they can be fed.  But one night, the ponies and Hero disappear.  Wolfie is devestated.

When Rev. Lamb dies, Hettie is told she must move and so the three of them go to live in County Durham, a coal mining area in Northeast England.  There, Dodo gives art lessons to the children of a coal mine owner, while Hettie teaches school.  The war has now ended and Captain Revel is serving a two year sentence and still hoping to have his name cleared.  He had always worked to improve condition for coal miners, and now, even in prison is continuing that work.

But when the truth about Ned, the boy who had helped Wolfie with Hero back in Dulverton, and the shady activities he had been bullied into doing by his father come to light, things begin to change.  Is it possible the Ned holds the key to what happened to Hero?

I really enjoyed reading Sam Angus's novel Soldier Dog when it first came out, so I was excited to read A Horse Called Hero.  And I wasn't disappointed,  it is a very compelling, though somewhat predictable, story with lots of coincidences.  What is nice about this story are the glimpses the reader gets into so many aspects of life during the war.

There are the pacifist demonstrations in Knightsbridge the children witness while out shopping with Spud.  Sometimes we forget that not everyone supports war.  The crowds of children and parents on Praed Street heading to Paddington Station was palpable.  And although evacuation was difficult under the best of circumstances, Dodo and Wolfie's story show how absolutely capricious the whole process was.  Mrs. Sprig was a horrible, narrow-minded woman with friends just like herself and wasn't able to really welcome these two scared, displaced children into her home.  It makes one wonder how often that or worst happened in real life.  

However, Angus draws a lovely picture of the relationship between Wolfie and Captain Revel in the letters exchanged throughout the war, much of which was advice on caring for a horse.  Wolfie's hero worship of his father is touching, never flailing even when the circumstances surrounding Captain Revel's arrest are revealed.  Captain Revel was clearly a very compassionate character and it is one of the best fiction father/son relationships I've ever read.

The reader also learns so much about what life was life for coal miners and the pit ponies, as they were called.  These horses pulled tons of coal out of the mine each day, never seeing daylight once they were  deep in the mine.  The men and horses labored under dangerous conditions and that was what Captain Revel was working to change.

Two things did bother me - we never find out how old Dodo is, only that she is older than Wolfie.  And a map showing the relationship of London, North Devon and County Durham would have been nice (maps are almost always nice in historical fiction).

But, in the end, the novel really asks the readers to consider what makes a hero.  For that, it is a novel  well worth reading.

This book is recommended for readers 9+, but proably better for 11+
This book was purchased for my personal library

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8. Review of Jack

depaola jack Review of JackJack
by Tomie dePaola; illus. by the author
Preschool Paulsen/Penguin 32 pp.
9/14     978-0-399-16154-4     $17.99     g

Farm boy Jack wants to make new friends and live in the city, which is exactly what he does in this minimally plotted book. On his way to ask the king for a house, Jack picks up a chick, a duck, a goose, a dog, etc., each one declaring its own interest in city digs, thus providing Jack with a community of ten new friends upon whom the king is happy to bestow a nice fixer-upper. While the lack of any conflict or obstacles means we aren’t that invested in Jack’s fate, young children will like the simple pattern of the story as well as the cumulating sound effects offered for each animal as it joins the merry band. DePaola dresses the journey in his most sumptuous colors, the carrot-topped hero and his ever-growing group of friends traversing a landscape of deep greens and grays and purple farmhouses to their new home, bright pink in the heart of the city. Storytime audiences will enjoy the trip as well as the sly cameo appearances by nursery-rhyme favorites such as Jack and Jill and Miss Muffet’s eight-legged friend.

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The post Review of Jack appeared first on The Horn Book.

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9. Read, Create, Dance: Crafterina's New Video!

Today's a special day for our friend Vanessa Salgado -- dancer, dance educator, visual artist, and creator extraordinaire. Vanessa is the mastermind behind a unique character and children's book called Crafterina, which is more or less a storybook, craft book, and dance lesson all rolled into one. Today is special because it marks the launch of Crafterina's first YouTube video about the book. Take a look!


I had the pleasure of interviewing Vanessa last year to talk about how Crafterina came to be and how crafts and dance go hand in hand. You can read that interview here. And, to supplement the book, Vanessa has created an Etsy site where you can purchase a wide range of additional dance-themed crafts. Her back-to-school paper dolls and pumpkin Halloween mask are popular ones for this time of year. Congratulations, Vanessa, on all your success!

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10. YALSA Board Fellow Program

My term as YALSA Board Fellow began on the last day of ALA conference 2014 when I, among others, was officially welcomed on the board. It was a hot and humid day in Las Vegas, yet a happy one filled with conference goers walking briskly to their desired programs/meetings, going back to their hotel with stacks of books, or preparing to head back home.

Since then, I’ve met with my board assigned mentor to brainstorm project ideas and get feedback on board ethics, as well as actively participated in board duties that include:

  • Meeting with the committee chairs to which I am a board liaison to discuss their roles and provide initial support towards managing their committees
  • Participating in discussion around the member recruitment standing committee
  • Attending a couple of board related conference calls and meetings
  • Sending personalized welcome greetings to new YALSA members
  • Brainstorming and beginning my diversity related YALSA project

No doubt it all seems like quite a bit of work in just two months. But my experience has already been so great and fulfilling wrapped with lots of support from Executive Director, Beth and the board members.

In addition to grasping new skills and strengthening others, considering YALSA new report Future of Library Services for and with Teens, I’ve been able to contribute my knowledge and time to YALSA’s great mission to “expand and strengthen library services for teens, aged 12-18.” I am glad to be a part of this team that make a difference in the lives of teens everywhere via impactful decisions that give YA services professionals the tools and resources to help teens access college information, access to technology, written resources, recreational activities, safe library environments, among other things.

I am so grateful to have been selected as the Board Fellow this year and plan to continue to use my time to advocate for teens through YALSA.

The new application period is underway and closes on December 1st. Here’s a link to the application http://www.ala.org/yalsa/awardsandgrants/yalsa_fellows_program, and I’m very happy to answer any questions you may have about YALSA or the Board Fellow program. Feel free to email me at nicolamcdonaldwriter@gmail.com and follow @YALSA and me @nicolalmcdonald on Twitter for the latest YALSA updates.

I hope you’ll consider applying for this great opportunity!

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11. Scott Westerfeld, Nicholas Kristof, & Alexis Barad-Cutler Get Booked

Scott WesterfeldHere are some literary events to pencil in your calendar this week.

To get your event posted on our calendar, visit our Facebook Your Literary Event page. Please post your event at least one week prior to its date.

A panel of young adult authors, Scott Westerfeld (pictured, via), Libba Bray, Maureen Johnson, David Levithan, and Robin Wasserman, will celebrate the release of Afterworlds. Meet them on Tuesday, September 23rd at the New York Public Library (Jefferson Market branch) starting 6 p.m. (New York, NY)

(more…)

New Career Opportunities Daily: The best jobs in media.

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12. The ABC of It: Why Children’s Books Matter

During a recent weekend in New York City I had some time between brunch and a Broadway show. I was able to spend a leisurely few hours exploring The ABC of It: Why Children’s Books Matter (curated by kidlit historian and frequent Horn Book contributor Leonard Marcus), an engaging exhibit at the New York Public Library.

The exhibit is a winding journey of children’s literature that follows its history from early readers such as Dick and Jane to the phenomenon of Harry Potter. As I wandered through the exhibit, the books on display led me down the memory lane of my childhood favorites. On one wall was Charlotte’s spider web, complete with her written words aptly describing Wilbur. An interactive component consisted of the author E.B. White reading aloud chapters from his classic novel, Charlotte’s Web. As I listened I was instantly transported back to my youth. Around the corner I found the original stuffed animals of A. A. Milne’s Winnie-the Pooh looking very worn and loved in a glass case.

winnie the pooh characters The ABC of It: Why Childrens Books Matter

from left: the original Eeyore, Tigger, Kanga, Piglet, and Pooh stuffed animals

Each turn I took throughout the exhibit brought me to another special book that had been meaningful in my childhood. I next encountered my all-time favorite character, Mary Poppins. It is well known that P.L. Travers was very protective of her beloved Mary Poppins and was less than thrilled with Disney’s musical version. While the magical nanny in the book is somewhat more bitter than in the “spoonful of sugar” movie, Julie Andrews will always be my vision of the character. P.L Travers’ own parrot head umbrella is on display next to a Mary Poppins doll. The interactive exhibit also includes video of a musical number from the movie.

A theme found throughout the exhibit is how the history of children’s books parallels the evolution of thinking on child development. As you go through the exhibit you find the works of such children’s literature icons as Margaret Wise Brown, Eric Carle, and Maurice Sendak.

great green room The ABC of It: Why Childrens Books Matter

the great green room of Goodnight, Moon

The books of these authors/illustrators speak to various aspects of children’s development. Society’s understanding of how children grow and learn is reflected in the stories created for them. “Behind every children’s book,” we read on the exhibit wall, “is a vision of childhood: a shared understanding of what growing up is all about.”

songs of innocence The ABC of It: Why Childrens Books Matter

illustrations from William Blake’s Songs of Innocence

The books in the exhibit reflect not only childhood, but also the times in which the books were written. One fascinating fact that I was not aware of: the book The Story of Ferdinand by Munro Leaf was considered by some as political propaganda when it was published in 1936. I have always thought of it as a sweet story of a bull that didn’t want to fight — I had no knowledge of the controversy that originally surrounded it. Of particular interest to me was the section of the exhibit dedicated to censored books throughout the years, ranging from such popular titles as Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn to Judy Blume’s Are you there God? It’s me, Margaret. The topic of censorship remains crucial as current books such as Harry Potter as well as perennial titles continue to be questioned and censored.

The exhibit, which closed on September 7th, offered a thoughtful tour of both children’s literature and societal conceptions of childhood.

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The post The ABC of It: Why Children’s Books Matter appeared first on The Horn Book.

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13. Emperors of the Ice

Emperors of the Ice. Richard Farr. 2008. FSG. [Source: Review copy]

I have mixed feelings on Emperors of the Ice: A True Story of Disaster and Survival in the Antarctic, 1910-13. On the one hand, it is a fictional memoir based on an actual memoir. Much research was done to write this one. Perhaps just as much research as if it was a traditional nonfiction book. The author's love of the subject was evident throughout. The book is told primarily if not exclusively through the eyes of one of the men on the expedition, Apsley Cherry-Garrard. The exception being the few places where readers learn what happened to other members of the expedition. On the other hand, was it absolutely necessary to fictionalize a memoir in order to tell the story? I think there were things to be gained by such a decision, and, perhaps a few things lost.

Aside from the fact that this one doesn't really quite fit in as fiction or nonfiction, Emperors of the Ice was an interesting read. It was not quite as depressing as you might expect. I've read more depressing books on this subject certainly. The focus of this book is more on science and exploration than on the race to be first to the South Pole. This book argues that it was never about being first or being best. This book tells the basic story, but, it includes plenty of details. For example, I learned that one of the teams--science teams--went to the Antarctic to study emperor penguins. Their goal was to learn about the penguins and their eggs. It wasn't exactly learning by observation. Cherry was part of that team. I learned quite a few things.

© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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14. Attending a Conference

There are many advantages to going to conferences with a writing friend. 

http://jetreidliterary.blogspot.com/2014/08/going-to-conferences-with-pals.html

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15. Birthday sketch



A quick sketch I did to wish a friend a Happy Birthday...
June Goulding

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16. Simple Pattern

2014-09-22

A simple pattern today | I am trying to find a use for the loose rough way I draw. I want to add content. I feel more like a passenger in a car enjoying a ride that the driver of the car controlling the destination. I guess the hard part is deciding where to go in the first place.

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17. Firefly July: A Year of Very Short Poems

Before we start chatting about specific 2014 picture books, take a moment to read the Caldecott criteria. They’re posted over there on the right, but I will help you find the important parts. Here they are, in part:

In identifying a “distinguished American picture book for children,” defined as illustration, committee members need to consider:
  1. Excellence of execution in the artistic technique employed;
  2. Excellence of pictorial interpretation of story, theme, or concept;
  3. Appropriateness of style of illustration to the story, theme or concept;
  4. Delineation of plot, theme, characters, setting, mood or information through the pictures;
  5. Excellence of presentation in recognition of a child audience.

Tattoo those categories onto the inside of your eyelids so you will understand why, when we talk about books, we stick to the same points over and over. We have to. The committee discusses all books in light of the published criteria, and the chair keeps everyone close to these five main ideas. 

janeczko firefly july2 Firefly July: A Year of Very Short Poems It’s tricky to start our discussion this year with a collection of poems, because it brings up the age-old question of whether this is a picture book or an illustrated book. I refer you to the definitions. Let’s just agree (for the moment, at least) that this fits the definition of a picture book as it is essentially a visual experience. Feel free to say otherwise in the comments. That’s just not where I want to go at the moment.

This handsome volume presents 8 to 10 poems per season and, just as the subtitle says (“A Year of Very Short Poems”), each poem is very short. This gives the volume a clear arc and allows the illustrations to gently explore how color and line might change over the course of a year, as the seasons unfold. The paper cover and the case cover are the same, and the endpapers are a lovely muted blue. Though I am generally a fan of flashy endpapers, it makes sense that these are calm, given the energy that illustrator Melissa Sweet brings to each spread.

Spring is the first season, and the first page is a celebration of spring things, including a robin, which I love. There are also daffodils and other early-spring bulbs blooming. The small poems march on, but it is the illustrations that hold them together. As we move to summer, the Langston Hughes poem “Subway Rush Hour” is made summery by the bouquet of daisies that accompanies it. Summer moves on and the colors change as the leaves fall. The transition is seamless; indeed, the divisions between the seasons are subtle and easy to miss, much like the artificial dates on the calendar that mark the change. By wintertime, the hues have completely changed–darkened by the lack of sun, yet whitened by the presence of snow.

Sweet’s art, a joyous combination of watercolor, gouache, and mixed-media collage, tells each poem’s story while allowing the young reader to consider each poem for herself. Her use of color and line build each illustration, sometimes joining two poems (such as” Fog” and “Uses for Fog”) together on a double-page spread, other times allowing the gutter to divide the scenes. The art is completely appropriate to the collection; indeed, it’s her illustrations that make these poems accessible to the child audience (and here the audience could be as young as 3 and as old as an appreciative adult). The mood is set by the illustrations, and Sweet does not bore the reader with trite homages to each season–she requires the reader to look deeper at each spread and think about the connection to the words.

I just looked up the part of the definitions about the term “distinguished,” and here that is:

  1. “Distinguished” is defined as:
    1. Marked by eminence and distinction; noted for significant achievement.
    2. Marked by excellence in quality.
    3. Marked by conspicuous excellence or eminence.
    4. Individually distinct.

Most of the books we will talk about this fall and winter are distinguished, and this one certainly is. Each spread is filled with emotion and care, with design meshing seamlessly with color and line. There are many places to look, but it never looks busy or overdone, as each page turn creates its own little world.

Though the real committee can (and will) compare this book to Sweet’s other 2014 title (The Right Word), I have found it difficult to do that in a single blog post. So, feel free to compare if you wish, but know that Martha will be talking about that one soon. For me, I cannot choose between these two very special books. Perhaps Sweet will “pull a Klassen” and receive two phone calls from Chicago in January.

 

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The post Firefly July: A Year of Very Short Poems appeared first on The Horn Book.

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18. Face-Lift 1223


Guess the Plot

The Spirit Swindler

1. Hey! Hey you! Cubicle meat sack. That soul thing? You're not using it, right? So I'll give you a million bucks now, and another million later. Come on. What have you got to lose?

2. A unicorn promises the late Brobro a new life in a new body. Naturally he jumps at the opportunity, but be careful what you wish for: his new body turns out to be Adolph Hitler's! And the SWAT team is at the door!

3. It was a classic tale of fame and fortune. He had it, but it could also be yours – for a price. All you need do is take care of the Nigerian Prince. But be careful what you wish for – because he's . . . The Spirit Swindler.

4. The ghost of Al Capone returns to 1960s Chicago and wreaks havoc on the city's hippy counterculture. Ultimately prohibited from committing any worldly sin, Capone is consumed by a hatred of Bohemianism bordering on the fanatical. Only Shaggy and Scooby can stop his nefarious plans to exorcise the desire for pleasure from the human spirit.

5. Jake has realized that spirits are not souls. No one in Hell wants to buy any, and Jesus just chuckles at Jake's ambition. But why do so many useless specters keep appearing at Jake's door? Is Jake a Specter Whisperer or an unpublished writer with a too-big imagination?

6. When little Bobby Bacardi came over from the old country, one step ahead of the prohibitionists, he thought he might have at last found a refuge. But that was in 1919, and things went down the hatch quickly. When a drunk-with-power Sammy Seagram catches up with him, Bobby knows he's in for the bar fight of his life. Wearing a mask, and working mostly in the dimly lit back rooms of speakeasies, Bobby becomes the vigilante known as… The Spirit Swindler.




Original Version

Dear Evil Editor,

Brobro was tired of being dead. The service was bad, the rent was too high, and the frequency of teenage girls trying to summon him at sleepovers was just exhausting. When a unicorn named Swagfast promised him new life in another body, how could he refuse? [No reason that paragraph can't be in present tense.]

Now Brobro's alive, exactly where he died. Everything's just as he remembered [remembers] it, right down to the time on the clock. The only difference is his wife's terrified expression. Oh, and the fact that his "new" body is Adolf Hitler's. 

It doesn't take long for the SWAT team to arrive. [Why are they arriving?] Brobro's alone against the law, and his narrow escape just means they'll crack down harder. His retreat leads him into the NYC sewers, where he finds a fellow misfit named Jazzhands. The winged clown claims to have been a beautiful pegasus, before Swagfast cheated her out of her body.

Together they decide to search a world that hates them to find Swagfast and the lives that he stole from them. [Swagfast didn't steal Brobro's life; Brobro was already dead when they met.]

THE SPIRIT SWINDLER is a 128,000 word historical romance. [Really? Whether the romance is between Brobro and his wife or Hitler and the winged clown (or Brobro and Hitler, in which case it would be a Brobromance), you need to have something about the romance in the query. And if it's historical romance, reveal the historical period in which it's set. Even now that I know the romance is the main focus of the book, I'm inclined to think romantic comedy or paranormal romance or farcical fantasy.] If you are interested, please email me at ___________. Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,


Notes

The tone is good, assuming it fits the book.

Not clear if Brobro has possessed the body of the real Adolph Hitler or just has a body that looks like Hitler's. As there were no SWAT teams when Hitler was alive, I assume the latter, but as dead people can be given new lives, perhaps it's the former. Perhaps Hitler, too, got tired of being dead and Swagfast gave him a new life, except he was being as big an asshole in his new life as he was in his old one so Swagfast let Brobro have the body, figuring he couldn't be any worse in it than Hitler. Then again, Swagfast is apparently the villain, so he'd probably be happy if Brobro were worse than Hitler. New title suggestion: The Man Who Was Worse Than Hitler.

I always thought Pegasus was one specific creature, rather than a species or race. Or that if there were lots of them, that Pegasus was the name of one winged horse and the other winged horses had their own names. 

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19. Guess the Book Emoji--And Win!

By Julie Daines

Ladies and Gents, I think it's high time for some fun and games. How about a nice round of Guess the Emoji?

Each emoji below is a clue to a book title. They are all works of literature ranging from middle grade to adult, classic to modern. Remember to think outside the box.

Here they are:

1.

2.

3.

4.

5.

6.

7.

8.

9.

10.

Leave your answers in the comments. You have until Friday midnight to enter, I'll post the answers and the winner on Saturday, September 27.

Good luck!

And since I happen to have a stack of extra books lying around, anyone who makes a guess will be entered into a random drawing to win a book of their choice. If you guess them all right, you will be entered twice. Yippee!

The choices are (And just for clarification, these have nothing to do with the emojis.):


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20. Ottawa Winners: ‘Hipopotamy,’ ‘Seth’s Dominion’ Win Top Prizes

Veteran Polish filmmaker Piotr Dumala won the short film grand prize for "Hipopotamy" at the Ottawa International Animation Festival, which wrapped up its 2014 edition yesterday.

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21. Guest Post: Barbara Bottner on Miss Brooks' Story Nook (where tales are told and ogres are welcome)

Learn more!
By Barbara Bottner
for Cynthia Leitich Smith's Cynsations

I am very opinionated, as a reader, a writer, writing teacher and coach.

I am also righteous, and stubborn about my opinions to the point of intolerance.

This attitude is what made me write Miss Brooks Loves Books (and I don’t.), illustrated by Michael Emberley (Knopf). I like to use my own childish nature as a resource for picture books because it is always authentic and it is a good source for stories and always offers conflict.

In the first Miss Brooks book, Missy refuses to be seduced into reading by her over-zealous, inspired librarian, Miss Brooks. This is a parallel to me in my book club. I tend to be disappointed in many novels--good, award-winning novels.

While I long to leave my own writing and daily life behind, I need the work to offer an intense experience.

Make me love you or I will walk away and never turn back.

On the other hand, when I love a book, I love it like a girl loves her first boyfriend, her tutu, her grandmother. I will love it and reread it forever.

When I thought of writing a sequel to Miss Brooks, I knew I had to up the action. Thus, I decided that the still opinionated Missy would have to face an even more difficult challenge than liking stories. She, herself, would need to come up with one and it would have to be a doozy at that. She would have to stay in character of course, but in the creative arena, she could use her own imagination.

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Thus, the school temporarily loses electricity due to a storm, and the clever Miss Brooks now can justifiably ask the children to invent their own tales.

I am lucky that Nancy Siscoe, my editor at Knopf, doesn't shy away from Missy's over-the top idea of a neighbor who keeps all kinds of animals in her basement, including a snake, and that in the end, Missy decides she is "dead, dead, dead" (then changes her mind).

I like darkness in tales, even for young readers. Do they never wish a younger sibling or cousin would be "dead, dead, dead'?' I believe that kids live at a very deep emotional level. If I were five, I would be tired of rhymes and adventures as a steady diet. I would want the occasional "off with their heads" moments.

I also love the story within the story--it offers another level of fantasy, while keeping the real life problems in the foreground.

Missy needs to face down a bully. She needs a tale to embolden herself, but one that will also put her nemesis, Billy Toomey, in his place. Stories about kittens won't do.

I try to use heightened issues for picture books in honor of my readers. We humans are a complicated, difficult tribe. I consider it my duty to reflect that in my books.

Never underestimate the power of a good story, or the complicated nature of even a very young child.



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22. The utter delight found in "Where My Wellies Take Me..."


Where My Wellies Take Me...
by Clare & Michael Murpurgo is one of those books that is so pretty and smart that I hesitate to do much of any kind of review because it's too hard not to lump the superlatives and make it sound impossible. I want to tell you it functions remarkably well as a poetry anthology, that Pippa's story of gentle outdoor adventure will appeal to kids and parents who enjoy a good jaunt and that Olivia Lomenech Gill's scrapbook style design and artwork is classic in all the best ways.

Oh heck. I love this book and I'm not afraid to just say tell you so.

The basic story is simple: Pippa sets off from her kind Aunt Peggy's on a trek through the countryside (hence the need to wear her wellies). She visits a local farmer, takes a ride on his horse, has a lunch, considers some birds, pigs and dandelions, plays Pooh sticks, spies a fisherman (and dwells on the end of life for a fish) and makes it back to the village in time to be crowned the unexpected victor of a race.

What elevates the book is the accompaniment of so many impressive poems from the likes of Ted Hughes, Rudyard Kipling, Yeats, Rossetti and more. The poems are often short, easy to understand and directly applicable to the text. The combination, with the great scrapbook pages and Pippa's story, makes this a lovely read and also a book to pore over for hours while studying the art.

Some books are treasures and Where My Wellies Take Me... certainly fits that standard. The very young will like Pippa a lot but I think it actually might reach best for the 6 & up crowd - 8 -10 year olds could be the best age of all. Really, though, it depends on the child. You'll know when you look at it if it fits for the explorer in your life. I hope it does.

Here are a couple of spreads from the Olivia Lomenech Gill's website:


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23. Justice on The Lesson Plan

Justice On The Lesson Plan

By Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich

 

we_march_JPG_210x1000_q85In addition to the excitement and apprehension about tests, read alouds, and recess, there was tension as the school year got underway in many cities and educators wondered if and how to address the police killing of unarmed teen Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri and the civil unrest that followed. Do we have one conversation and then “move on”? Schedule a town meeting and then get on with the business of learning? As a parent and children’s author who regularly visits with children in a variety of school communities, I firmly believe that schools should take on the responsibility of engaging students around this story, and do so on an ongoing basis; it’s necessary, it’s relevant, it’s learning.

 
aroundway
Some might disagree, with understandable concerns about escalating conflict, and fanning flames of prejudice and fear. It was reported that middle and high school educators in Missouri’s Edwardsville school district were initially advised to “change the subject and refocus the students” if Ferguson was brought up. The Superintendent later clarified his position via a letter to parents, as reported by the Edwardsville Intelligencer, writing “It was not our intent to ignore the educational relevance of these events. However, we felt it was important to take the time to calm a potential situation at the high school and to prepare administrators and teachers to approach this critical issue in an objective, fact-based manner.”
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Please, let’s take the time to engage our children in ongoing conversations about race, justice, and power. The reality of the 24-hour news cycle and the ubiquity of social media most likely mean that children and teens know something of these stories. And what we know, we can unpack and discuss. Even if they are not aware of the specific events in Ferguson, what are we educating children for, if not to engage productively with the world they live in? And when that world goes horribly wrong, how do we help them move toward making things right?
B.B.coverandsketch
Teachers can play a positive role by helping students gain a better understanding of troubling events, creating a safe environment where students can think critically about difficult issues, engage in respectful conversation, and think about what they can do to address the problems they see in the world,” write Laura McClure and Tom Roderick of the Morningside Center for Teaching Social Responsibility, via email. The Ferguson story offers “…an opportunity for them to learn history, better understand current political realities, consider multiple points of view, think about possible ways to address problems and injustices, and perhaps become more aware of their own biases. It’s a chance for students to develop the ability to express their views and listen respectfully and open-heartedly while others share theirs. It’s part of educating young people for participating in a democratic society.”
parable sower cover
In a blog post, Dr Shaun Harper wrote “Most school-age children in Ferguson are Black. They and Black youth across the U.S. need supportive spaces in which to process what happened. Likewise, youth from other racial groups (including Whites) deserve opportunities to talk about Ferguson, particularly what the implications of this tragedy are for their lives and our nation. Young people need to know the truth: Ferguson wasn’t an isolated incident, but instead is connected to a longstanding, more systemic set of structural problems and judicial errors.”

Of course we want teachers doing their best to ensure that all students are educated in a welcoming and safe environment. I’d suggest that that includes demonstrating to students that they, and their ideas and opinions matter. “To keep conversations productive, we encourage teachers to work with students to develop some ‘community agreements,’ starting at the very beginning of the year,” add Roderick and McClure. “This can set the stage for a more caring classroom where it is safe to discuss difficult issues, and safe to disagree.” These agreements include a ‘one mic’ policy (speak one at a time), agreeing to disagree, speaking from one’s own experience, and avoiding sweeping generalizations.

“You may not live in Ferguson, but we all must live with what has happened in Ferguson. Let’s find ways to talk about this,” wrote Dr. Marcia Chatelain in an August 20 Twitter post. Dr. Chatelain, a writer, historian and assistant professor of history at Georgetown University created the #FergusonSyllabus hashtag and initiative, and saw immediately that these conversations can happen in all kinds of communities. “It’s never too early or too late to help a student grapple with the issues that also trouble us…At all ages, students will have questions about why people are so tense and why they are so upset,” she points out in an email. “The best way to respond is to be honest that some people are upset, hurt and frustrated and engage them on how they can prevent making others feel this way through being honest and fair to others.  You don’t have to get mired in the murky details of the killing of Michael Brown if you don’t believe you can handle it.  Rather, you can talk about the range of emotions, the societal challenges, and the questions this moment elicits.” #FergusonSyllabus has become a compendium of resources across disciplines for early childhood to college classrooms, with contributions from educators, artists, activists, librarians, parents, writers and more.

And then there are books. Literature one of the richest, most productive ways of all to frame these conversations. By helping our children understand that Black Youth Matter and we need diverse books, we teach and learn in critical and transformative ways. Books like
Rita Williams-Garcia’s ONE CRAZY SUMMER and P.S. BE ELEVEN,
Kekla Magoon’s THE ROCK AND THE RIVER and HOW IT WENT DOWN,
Sharon Dennis Wyeth’s SOMETHING BEAUTIFUL,
Jaqueline Woodson’s BROWN GIRL DREAMING,
Zetta Elliott’s BIRD, and A WISH AFTER MIDNIGHT
MARCH: Book One by John Robert Lewis and Andrew Aydin with artist Nate Powell,
Julius Lester’s LET’S TALK ABOUT RACE,
Shane Evans’ WE MARCH,

and our own Crystal Hubbard’s THE LAURA LINE and Don Tate’s IT JES’ HAPPENED share the stories of struggle, triumph, creativity, beauty, and more that make up our past, present, and future. In my own 8th GRADE SUPERZERO, essentially a contemporary’school story’, characters are challenged by the questions of who and what they stand for in large and very small ways. Resources like Notable Books for A Global Society, RIF, Sarah Park’s Social Justice in Children’s/YA Reading List, Mitali Perkins, the Cooperative Children’s Book Center, Just Us Books, The Pirate Tree, and of course The Brown Bookshelf’s 28 Days Later campaigns offer a wealth of ideas and titles to add to classrooms and libraries.
bright eyes cover

Clearly, these conversations won’t be easy and will likely be, at the very least, uncomfortable. But we don’t educate simply for comfort. Discomfort can mean that there is authentic teaching and learning going on. As students examine not only the events but also the narratives that are presented to them, they can learn to think and act responsibly in many areas of their lives. “One lesson is to beware of misinformation coming through social media about upsetting world events, especially as those events are unfolding,” write Roderick and McClure. “Students need to learn how to evaluate the information they are getting and avoid jumping to conclusions.”

If we claim to be preparing our children for that real world “out there,” let’s recognize that ‘out there’ is our homes, our classrooms, our lives. And these conversations need to continue, need to grow and evolve along with our students during the school year — this is not a “one and done” situation. Let’s give students room to reflect on and navigate many stories in it. Just as Ta-Nehisi Coates’ “The Case for Reparations” wove a fascinating narrative of the links between slavery, Jim Crow, and public policies of the past and present, we can use our classrooms to examine how and why Michael Brown is part of the same larger, complex story of race, power, and privilege in America. We can work with our students to look at what we’ve done, and work toward doing better. It’s a matter of life and death.

Additional Resources

“How To Talk To Students About Ferguson” by Dr. Marcia Chatelain

“What Happened in Ferguson and Why” from the Morningside Center for Teaching Social Responsibility

“Challenging Stereotypes: Michael Brown and If They Gunned Me Down”, from the Morningside Center for Teaching Social Responsibility

#dontshoot, from
Teaching Tolerance

 

Ferguson: Response and Resources compiled by Philip Nelmy teacher cover 2


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24. Cartoon Network to Launch New Imprint at Penguin Young Readers Group

CN logoCartoon Network will open its own imprint at Penguin Young Readers Group.

Here’s more from the press release: “The new ‘Cartoon Network Books’ imprint will publish fun and interactive formats such as Mad Libs ®, original fiction novels and chapter books, Activity and Doodle formats, non-fiction handbooks, gift sets, and kits. The 2015 launch will feature books based on the hit shows Uncle Grandpa and Steven Universe, followed by Clarence, the upcoming We Bare Bears, and the return of The Powerpuff Girls in 2016.”

The two organizations have been partners in publishing books based on the Adventure TimeRegular Show, and The Amazing World of Gumball TV series since 2013. To date, more than half a million copies of those books have sold in the United States market. What do you think?

New Career Opportunities Daily: The best jobs in media.

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25. Get Real! A Non-Fiction Video Book Review

This month, Sarah shares the book Feathers: Not Just for Flying, by Melissa Stewart.


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