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1. What I Read in January

I'm kind of sad to report that my January reading got off to a rocky start.  I read very few books and even fewer pages last month.  It was a sad reading month, but we had a lot of other things going on - my brother and his family were in town, we threw a surprise 60th birthday party for my dad, I threw a baby shower for a dear friend, and, of course, hung out with my book club friends.

Between the crazy amount of driving places, playing with my niece and nephews, and loving my favorite people, I did manage to fit in a few books:

Summer at Tiffany by Marjorie Hart
Winter at the Door by Sarah Graves
Slade House by David Mitchell
Humans of New York: Stories by Brandon Stanton
Sex, Lies, and Online Dating by Rachel Gibson
Better Than Before by Gretchen Rubin
The Little Men by Megan Abott
The Girls She Left Behind by Sarah Graves
The Substitute by Denise Grover Swank
Giant Days, Volume One by John Allison
Black-Eyed Susans by Julia Heaberlin

Total books read: 11
Of those books, four were audiobooks - because of all the driving I was doing I had plenty of time to listen in the car!

What did you read in January? 

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2. Fight Stories

Link vs. GanonMy son is really into fighting. He watches shows like Power Rangers and Ninjago. He likes superheroes and video games. I think his favorite thing right now is to watching Daddy guide Link through a boss level in a Zelda game. (Fortunately for Daddy, the games are very forgiving). I think that he might be… resolving something? Working something out, mentally and emotionally? Maybe it empowers him to see the snake people get beat? I dunno. I know he likes fighting and no stern look or lecture from me is going to change it.

Of course he wants books about fighting, but apart from uninspired picture books derived from superhero movies, the children’s book industry has been derelict in providing books featuring hand-to-hand combat for kids like B.

JabberwockySee a need; fill a need. I’ve tried, in fits and starts, to create characters that fight, and to give them monsters to fight, but I lapse back into my muddled view of the universe. The monsters in my imagination develop a point of view; not one I particularly agree with but one I can at least comprehend. The heroes are timid and do a lot of soul searching instead of slaying. They argue with the monsters but never raise a blade. By the end of chapter 3 they’ve become friends and have no antagonist to deal with.

This whole business is against my grain. I lack moral certainty. I am against violence, having been on the wrong end of it. At the same time, I can see the satisfaction to calling up your fears and giving it form and cutting its head off. From Beowulf to Star Wars, that’s a story form that will never go out of fashion. I think humans crave it, and especially little ones. Oh, it’s, you know. Profitable. Cough.

But I can’t do it. I don’t know why. It looks easy. Walk on the muscled hero, have him say something clever. Walk on the snarling beast. Have it spit and snarl. “He swung his sword and pierced the wretched creature’s neck.” Fanfare and big advances. The end.

I’ll keep trying. You know, for the kid.

Filed under: Miscellaneous

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3. Maine To Kansas

At Whittier Middle School, I get to be a part of great things.  Recently, Mrs. Shanning’s class and I connected with Ms. Loy’s Kansas Classroom during a Skype visit.  We gave them all kinds of facts about Maine, as they were about to launch into Cooper and Packrat’s  Mystery on Pine Lake  adventure.

We sent some postcards and a calendar with Maine animals to help them connect to the story . . .

and our beautiful state.



And this week, we’re connecting again!  Through www.edu.buncee.com, we’re making Virtual Valentine’s with a camping and nature theme!  Oh my goodness, they’re so much fun . . . I quickly became addicted.  You start with a background picture from their stock, or upload your own (I used my own photographs of the campground).  Then you add text, stickers, audio, and animation. Pretty cool!

Here are two of the Valentines we received from the class. Each student was assigned one of our students and vice versa.

iPhone Image E153C4

Check out the foxes!  And the tents!  Those campfires?  They flicker!  The hearts?  Float on the wind.

iPhone Image E153D5

Technology in education is amazing!  Our students have learned so much by connecting with the students in Kansas .  . . their small world is growing leaps and bounds!

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4. Snyder Exits Batman with April’s Issue #51

batman51-32b5dWith rumors circulating across the internet, Scott Snyder has confirmed his departure from Batman in April’s issue #51. The writer announced that the issue will be his last comic with artist Greg Capullo for six months. Truth: I've been delaying writing the last pages of Batman #51 – my final issue on the series & last comic […]

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5. Fine Art America.....

does it again! another beautiful (tote) bag!

i have yet to find another vendor who does as FABULOUS of a job as FAA. in my on line travels, i have seen many vendors/POD (print on demand) companies that offer tote bags but with the image only sitting as a small rectangle/square in the center of the bag therefore leaving the rest of the bag as just bare canvas. what i love most about FAA's bags is that the image/painting encompasses the whole entire bag. they offer 3 different sizes~13x13, 16x16 and 18x18. the bag above is 16x16. it's the perfect mid size bag for me to cart around my pencils and 9x12 and 11x14 sketchbooks. in the pic below, the mermaid is the 13x13 size and the fire goddess is 18x18. i have several of these bags and they are gorgeous...every single one of them. good quality canvas and excellent printing quality. clear and precise and the color is spot on.

so, click on over to my shop at FAA and get one for your little girl or even for yourself. oh, and don't let my horrendous photography skills scare you away. i'm just a painter. :)

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6. ‘Symphony No. 42’ by Réka Bucsi

Forty-seven observations in the irrational connections between human and nature.

The post ‘Symphony No. 42’ by Réka Bucsi appeared first on Cartoon Brew.

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7. Super Quick-Fire Review of RIDERS by Veronica Rossi (With Longer Video Review Option)

Review by Elisa   RIDERS by Veronica RossiPublisher: Tor Teen (February 16, 2016)Publication Date: February 16, 2016 Sold by: Macmillan  Goodreads  | Amazon For eighteen-year-old Gideon Blake, nothing but death can keep him from achieving his goal of becoming a U.S. Army Ranger. As it turns out, it does. Recovering from the accident that most definitely killed him, Gideon finds himself

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8. Telltale Games Announce Start Date For Michonne Mini Series

TWD_Michonne_InTooDeep_EpisodeSlideTelltale games announces Michonne mini series start date.

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9. Book reviews in ... German(y)

       At the German Perlentaucher site they've long been collecting book review coverage from the major German-language dailies of books appearing in German(y), and Thierry Chervel now looks over the numbers and some other analyses in Kritische Zahlen, to see whether --or rather just how much -- book review coverage in German newspapers (plus the Swiss NZZ) has declined since 2001.
       Short -- and disturbing -- answer: a lot.

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10. First Look: ‘Mob Psycho 100’ Teaser From ‘One-Punch Man’ Creator

A new TV series from Japanese studio, Bones, and indie manga artist, One, pushes graphic experimentation in anime.

The post First Look: ‘Mob Psycho 100’ Teaser From ‘One-Punch Man’ Creator appeared first on Cartoon Brew.

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11. SXSW 2016: Competition Shorts, ‘Powerpuff Girls’ Premiere Announced

Blossom, Bubbles, and Buttercup are joining the party in Austin next month.

The post SXSW 2016: Competition Shorts, ‘Powerpuff Girls’ Premiere Announced appeared first on Cartoon Brew.

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12. The Absolute at Large review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Karel Čapek's 1922 The Absolute at Large.

       I actually received my review copy of this book 3815 days before the review went up -- so, yes, sometimes it takes me a while .....
       (This is actually the third from this University of Nebraska Press Bison Frontiers of Imagination-series that I had previously read (all in German, all decades ago) and eventually got around to re-reading and then reviewing, in each case 2000 or more days after getting the UNP edition of the book. I guess they just have to be lying around long enough until I finally can't resist any longer .....)

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13. Podcorn Podcast — 2/10/16 Learn to Bind Comics With the Pros

PodcornTVLogoEver wanted to take a bunch of unruly single issues and turn them into a deluxe hardcover? We're about to show you how on a special video episode of Podcorn Podcast.

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14. Bob Persichetti Out, Lino DiSalvo In As Director of Playmobil Movie

Lino DiSalvo, the head of animation on Disney's "Frozen," will make his directorial debut on the toy-based movie.

The post Bob Persichetti Out, Lino DiSalvo In As Director of Playmobil Movie appeared first on Cartoon Brew.

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15. Naked Tofu

In my quest to fill the world with the happiest, weirdest art in the world, I have dreamed up yet another vehicle for the task: A coloring and activity book!

While it’s in the works, I couldn’t resist sharing some of the pages with you. Here’s one that will both scratch your coloring itch and stave off Alzheimer’s. It’s printable on regular letter-sized paper (select Fit to Page for best results). Enjoy!

Naked Tofu ©Sparky Firepants

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16. Natasha Wimmer Q & A

       Alicia Kennedy has a(n awfully-titled) Q & A with translator Natasha Wimmer at Broadly.
       (I just picked up a copy of the Wimmer-translated Enrigue, Sudden Death, at the library, and look forward to getting to it soon. (Get your copy at Amazon.com or pre-order it at Amazon.co.uk.))

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17. Chocolate & Art Show • Los Angeles

Chocolate and Art Show?

You had me at choco–. This looks like a super cool show. If you’re in L.A. February 19-20 and you need something fun to do, go go go! Check out their Facebook Event page here: http://bit.ly/choco-art-LA-FB

This is also my first exhibit in a long time. I’ll have four pieces up at this show. Weee! Here’s a sneak preview:


Love Bird front

Love Bird, paint pen on wood


Bear+Donut, mixed media on skateboard


Hipster Pub Dude, paint pen on skateboard

Hipster Pub Dude, paint pen on skateboard

Retro Tube Sock, mixed media on skateboard

Retro Tube Sock, mixed media on skateboard

I hope to see you there! If you can, please find me and Jenni and say hello. Send a text to 818-835-2585 and we’ll let you know where we are!

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18. A Moment with Rachel Isadora’s Art

I’ve got some art today from Rachel Isadora’s I Hear a Pickle: (And Smell, See, Touch, and Taste It, Too!), published last month by Nancy Paulsen Books, as a follow-up to the Q&A I did with her last week at Kirkus. Enjoy!     * * * * * * * I HEAR A PICKLE: […]

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19. From the vault - early 2014

A design comp from the vault. One of the first concept images done for a book of Nursery Rhymes.
This was deliberately a non standard composition with dramatic non specific shapes contrasting with very specific characters. 
Searching for a graphical approach that was not necessarily literal - but carried weight and action thru mass and direction. 
Color contrasts, again far from realistic - charge the image with drama.

It didn’t fly. 
And maybe was not the kind of design best suited for small children… Too adult and intellectual. But fun as all get out!

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20. Giveaway: Nothando's Journey by Jill Manly (US Only)

Nothando's Journey by Jill Manly Release Date: February 2016   About the Book Nothando’s Journey is a journey in self-discovery told through the eyes of a young girl named Nothando. The book tells of the Reed Festival, an important celebration in Nothando’s country of Swaziland in Southern Africa. Nothando and her brother...

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21. WWF Assignment to Capture Rare Camera Trap Images

In August last year I undertook an assignment for WWF in the Zambezi Region of Namibia. Our aim was to obtain high-quality images of elusive animals, some of which had only ever been photographed on research cameras before.

The Zambezi Region is a narrow strip of land, formerly known as the Caprivi Strip, that runs between Botswana and Angola, all the way to the Zambezi river in the East. It is the heart of the Kavango – Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area, otherwise known as KAZA, which links wildlife populations in Angola, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Botswana and Namibia. WWF works with the governments, local communities and species conservation programmes throughout the KAZA region.

Sunset in Bwabwata National Park

For many years, Lise Hanssen has been studying wildlife populations in the region, with a particular focus on the carnivores. Her research utilised over 100 research camera traps to build up a picture of predator populations for the first time. She was able to identify the ranges of leopards, lions, hyenas and African wild dogs. Her findings prove how vital this area is to carnivore populations and movements throughout the KAZA region.

I teamed up with WWF and Lise to try and get high-quality photographs of her study subjects. However, it quickly became apparent that this was not going to be easy, as the carnivores are extremely elusive and hard to see. I spent two weeks in Namibia trying to find and photograph them but didn’t catch a glimpse of a single one!

Fortunately, we had foreseen this challenge and I had come prepared with five Camtraptions camera trap systems. These are similar to the Lise’s research cameras but incorporate a high-quality DSLR camera instead. You can watch my short video blog showing one of my camera trap set-ups below.

I relied on Lise’s research and expertise to identify several promising sites for my traps. These included locations both inside and outside the national parks. At the end of my trip, I left my cameras in place so they could continue working for a further ten weeks.

Lise’s predictions were spot on and over the following weeks my camera traps started capturing images of the key species we were after including leopards, hyenas, African wild dogs and even a serval cat.

Serval Cat
Wild Dog at Night

Of course, my traps also photographed many other creatures. One trap in particular, positioned near a waterhole in the Mashi Conservancy, captured an incredible number of animals including elephants, giraffes, eland, wildebeest and bushpigs. It also took thousands of photos of guineafowls. In fact, I estimate that I had ten images of guineafowls for every other animal photographed. Sorting through them all took a quite a while!

Guieafowl and Eland at a Waterhole
Eland at Sunrise
Mud Party!
Elephants in the Waterhole
Elephants Mudbathing

The greatest challenge of all was photographing the lions. These cats spend much of their time outside the national parks and are extremely shy. Even Lise has never seen them other than on her research cameras. I set up two camera traps near waterholes that the lions sometimes visit. In the three months that my traps were operating, the lions passed by twice, resulting in some very rare shots of these secretive big cats.

A young male lion caught on camera trap.

I hope that my images, in combination with WWF’s efforts and Lise’s valuable research, can help inspire conservation action in this important part of the KAZA region.

You can find out more about the camera traps used in this project at Camtraptions. You can follow Lise Hanssen’s research on the Kwando Carnivore Project Facebook page. You can find out more about WWF’s work in the KAZA region and see more of my images from the project here: Photographing Africa’s Most Elusive Animals.

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22. Íslensku bókmenntaverðlaunanna

       As Vala Hafstad reports at Icelandic Review, Icelandic Literature Prizes Presented, as the country's major literary awards have been handed out, with Hundadagar, by Einar Már Guðmundsson (several of whose works have been translated into English) taking the fiction prize -- beating out, among other finalists, Hallgrímur Helgason and Jón Kalman Stefánsson. See also the Forlagið publicity page for the book.
       The prize is worth an impressive(-sounding) ISK 1 million -- though apparently that's now only the equivalent of ca. US$7,800.

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23. I forgot to blog about the launch...

The most important thing about launching a new book is that everyone else must know it has happened.
You must take many pictures and remind other people to take many pictures and make an IMPORTANT FACE.

The second most important thing about launching a new book is the CAKE.
We made one that was secretly filled with gold which spilled out when it was first cut, and it had golden marzipan piled on top and it was gilded with edible gold dust.

You also need a CROCODILE. So I crocheted one and had a raffle. As it happened, Crocodile won my friend Lily because she was best at finding hidden raffle tickets (they were mostly in books to do with GOLD).

It was so exciting that no one remembered to take any pictures.
Fortunately, Chris Riddell drew one in his Laureate Log, because he is professional that way.

It was a very good launch.

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24. Parent Teacher Collection Re-Organization

Earlier this year, I took over the responsibility of the Parent Teacher Collection at my library. It was a natural fit since I had to keep bringing picture books to my boss and spending time together to figure out what collection a picture book like Todd Parr’s The Goodbye Book really belonged in.

I was also asked to re-organize the collection by de-Deweying and creating browseable subjects.

Instead of writing through every step, I made a quick infographic detailing my process:

[An infographic about developing a Parent Teacher Collection created by the author using Piktochart.]

[An infographic created by the author.]

Up-close photo of the spine labels of our Parent Teacher collection. [Photo courtesy of the author.]

Up-close photo of our spine labels. [Photo courtesy of the author.]

Collection Facts:

  • Collection has ten shelves; roughly 650 books.
  • Books are a mixture of adult books and children’s materials.
  • We decided on seven main subjects: Development, Health, Relationships, Safety, School, Special Needs, and Travel.
  • There are sub-subjects under every main subject except Travel.
  • While the collection is mostly comprised of books, it does have some DVDs and software.
  • At the bottom (in the red polka dot totes) are our Parenting Packs, which are kits geared towards parents/caregivers to use during milestone events.
  • Books show up in the catalog with the full call number: PARENTS DEVELOPMENT POTTY WILLEMS.

Our Parent Teacher Collection new materials shelf -- shows the range of what we're buying. [Photo courtesy of the author.]

Our New shelf — shows the range of what we’re buying. [Photo courtesy of the author.]


  • Books are purchased by the Kids & Teens staff members from the children’s non-fiction budget line.
  • Generally, books that are used WITH children are shelved in the Parent Teacher Collection. Books about child psychology, parenting memoirs, and academic materials are shelved downstairs in the Adult Services collection.
  • I consult with the Adult Services librarian who selects for the 600s. We have determined that we are okay with purchasing doubles of materials.


Up-close picture of a Parenting Pack from the Parent Teacher Collection. [Photo courtesy of the author.]

Up-close picture of a Parenting Pack. [Photo courtesy of the author.]

  • Every time I walk past the section, the shelves need to be straightened. This means that they’re being used!
  • I’m seeing 40% more of the collection moving based on recently returned books.
  • I see more browsers which is GREAT and the reason why we decided to de-Dewey the collection. Caregivers are often dealing with a difficult problem when they are looking in the Parent Teacher Collection. They might not be comfortable asking for help and may also want to get their information quickly. This project makes that possible.
  • A parent thanked me for integrating the picture books and parent books. It made finding the right resources a one-stop shop for her.
  • Another parent expressed gratitude that the subject she was looking for was all shelved together and easy to find.
  • Half of the Parenting Packs are currently checked out.

It’s only been a few months, but I think this is one of the best things I’ve done at the library. My co-workers are probably getting tired of hearing me squee every time I see the return cart packed with Parent Teacher Collection books. (I kid — they are all incredibly supportive!)

I’m still not 100% done and I never will be. I need to continually evaluate this collection and actively seek out new materials since they aren’t always readily available in traditional review journals. We’re also preparing a new marketing campaign to help show the organization of the shelves, as well as a brochure to help parents/caregivers navigate the section.

Do you have a Parent Teacher Collection? Any tips or tricks to share? Any questions for me? Let’s talk the comments!

– Katie Salo
Early Literacy Librarian
Indian Prairie Public Library

The post Parent Teacher Collection Re-Organization appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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25. Current Scratch: Join Us, Local, Harry, Tips, Comedy

Hi folks, Welcome to sunny winter. It is beautiful. I hope that you are pouring some of this winter beauty into your art.


Goal-setting for Creatives” with guest speaker Pam Wiley is our first meeting of 2016 on Wednesday, Jan. 27, at 10 a.m. in Barnes & Noble, 711 Texas Ave, College Station, TX. Pam will share strategies for setting and staying on track with both long and short term goals. Join us for discussion, news, and encouragement!

Gentle critique begins at 9:30 a.m. Bring copies of 5 double-spaced pages of your work in progress.

Those who have time stay for lunch at a local restaurant. Members and friends welcome!


Divining Creativity Workshop
Molly Blaisdell
Wednesday, February 17, 2016 at 6:15. 

It's a weekly program called Onederful Wednesday. Molly will lead a workshop called Divining Creativity. Here are a few of the things she will dig into -- What is holding you back? What will push you forward? What will make you leap? This should shake down the cobwebs and open all the windows. Come out if you are interested. It's free. P.S. There is a meal at 5:15 p.m. and it costs $5.00 person and $20 for families. Call this number to RSVP if you are interested: 979-694-7700.

Heading to TLA this year in April? Here are the deets.

Houston Writers Guild 2016 Conference in April 29, 30, May 1. The headliner is Jay Asher, author of 13 Reasons Why.

Advanced Writer Weekend Workshop with Donna Gephart and Tina Wexler


For everyone hungering for a Harry Potter fix. It's not over.


The story of Jacqueline Woodson.  A look at her take on realistic fiction. Where do her stories come from?


Disclaimer: The views expressed here are my own, and not necessarily those of the SCBWI.

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