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As writers, we put our books out into the world, and they take on a life of their own, apart from us. But sometimes, we get an echo back about what the book is doing, who is reading it and how they are affected. This week, I had one of those incredible, amazing and powerful moments.
Abayomi, the Brazilian Puma
When I worked on the story of an orphaned puma cub from Brazil, the scientists involved were incredibly generous with their time and information. Dr. Marcia Goncalves Rodrigues and Sergio A.P. Ferreira made this book possible. With the publication of the Brazilian translation, they are able to go into the schools with Project Abayomi and do education of teachers and students. Recently, over 500 teachers listened the story of the plight of pumas and other wildlife in urban areas of Brazil.
That’s exciting news, for sure. To see a book travel to a different country and start to make a difference is amazing.
And then, I received this special version of the Portuguese version of the book. What’s so special about it? Why am I grinning so crazily?
Because Abayomi himself signed this book. When the puma was receiving a regular medical checkup, Sergio inked his paw and added his paw print to my book. This is one of those teary moments when you realize that a book isn’t JUST a book. It’s an idea. Pumas face very real dangers from loss of habitat and urban encroachment on their habitat. It’a a small thing to write a book; but a small book can have a huge impact. Thanks, Marcia and Sergio for allowing me the privilege of having a small part in Abayomi’s story. It’s been incredible.
Meet Cameron Boyce, Sofia Carson, and Booboo Stewart from Descendants
Attention villains and heroes alike! The new Disney Channel movie Descendants premieres Friday, July 31, at 8 p.m.! Are you excited to see what happens after “happily-ever-after?” Well, I got the chance to sit down with Cameron, Sofia, and Booboo and discuss their roles in the movie!
Image credit: Disney Channel/Jack Rowand
It was a blast getting to know Cameron, Sofia, and Booboo. I could see the camaraderie and friendship between them as they poked fun at each other and laughed together. They all reminded me in good, not evil, ways of their characters in Descendants. It was clear how much they loved creating this movie. Watch my exclusive videos with the stars below!
Things became even more interesting when I asked what they wished they had known before filming the movie. Watch their funny responses here. Seems like Cameron Boyce did not like wearing that tight leather jacket!
Board Book: Five Little Monkeys: A finger & toes nursery rhyme book. Natalie Marshall. Scholastic. 2015. 12 pages. [Source: Review copy]
First sentence: Five Little monkeys jumping on the bed. One fell off and bumped his head. Mama called the doctor and the doctor said...No more moneys jumping on the bed!
Premise/plot: A board book adaptation of the classic nursery rhyme "Five Little Monkeys."
My thoughts: The pages are easy to turn, which is a good thing, always. The illustrations are nice enough, I suppose. The text itself isn't surprising or extra-wonderful. The book includes "helpful" illustrations for parents who are clueless on the motions of the song/rhyme. (Are they necessary?)
The traditional rhyme is fun. As is the song. Here's one of my favorite adaptations:
Last November I worked with the U.S. Educational publisher Seed Learning to illustrate a picture book version of Swan Lake for early readers. Last week I received an exciting parcel in the post with two copies of the book all the way from Korea! It was a really fun project to work on and made me face my fear of illustrating human characters!
You work hard all summer to provide teens with a variety of activities to help them learn and grow. But chances are, your elected officials do not know about the great work you do and what it means to teens and to the community. So, it's up to you to show them! Elected officials need to know about the vital role libraries play in helping teens succeed in school and prepare for college, careers and life. Without this knowledge, they will not be able to make informed decisions regarding key pieces of legislation, such as the Elementary & Secondary Education Act (ESEA) or the Library Services & Technology Act (LSTA). District Days--the time when members of Congress are back in their home states--are the perfect chance for you to show off all the great things you do for and with teens through your library, by inviting your Congressperson to come and visit any time between Aug. 1 and Sept. 6, 2015. You could also bring your teen patrons to them at their local office. YALSA's wiki page has everything you need to extend your invitation, plan for a visit, and be a great host! Your teens are relying on you to speak up for them, so be sure to seize this opportunity. Then, tell us how it goes by sending photos and information using the #act4teens hashtag.
Matthew Flores C/O Sandy post office 8850 s 700 e Sandy, Utah 84070
He's counting on me, so I'm counting on you!
This is Matthew Flores. Today while delivering mail to his apartment complex, I saw him reading ads, and then he asked me if I had any extra mail he could read. He told me his wish is to have books to read. I told him the library had many, but he said they don't have a car, and couldn't afford the bus. So... let's get this 12 year old some books! Let's help him. I was given many books as a child, and it's time to help someone else! Please share and let's get him tons of reading material! Most kids his age want electronics! It's great to see his desire, and you should have seen him beam when I said I could help!
Matthew Flores C/O Sandy post office 8850 s 700 e Sandy, Utah 84070
Today we are celebrating Natasha Preston's newest YA Thriller, AWAKE, which will be releasing August 4th.
Natasha has graciously provided us with an exclusive excerpt from the book, and make sure you check out the awesome giveaway at the end of this post!
Excerpt from AWAKE by Natasha Preston
“Come here,” I said, holding my hands out.
Usually she would curl into my side but
This is a very sweet, whimsical book that will delight kids. It's also a sweet book about sisters and the relationship between them. The little sister has trouble sleeping, so the big sister comes up with increasingly outlandish suggestions to dream about. The illustrations are cute and colorful.
Chief James Billie (center) with Hard Rock Cafe staff in Venice
(Venice, Italy) Chief James E. Billie, Chairman of the Seminole Tribal Council, is a colorful character -- gutsy, outspoken, warm and sincere, a Native American whose culture rings from his heart. Leader of the only unconquered Native American Tribe in the United States, the Seminole Tribe of Florida, who own Hard Rock International, Chief Billie served 22 years as Chairman/President of the tribe, from 1979 to 2001, "the longest tenure of any elected leader in the Western Hemisphere, other than Fidel Castro." The Seminoles are the only tribe that never signed a formal peace treaty with the United States.
Chief Billie's mother belonged to the Bird clan; his father was was a white sailor who went to Europe during WWII without knowing of the pregnancy. As an infant, Seminole medicine men wanted to kill Jim Billie the traditional way -- by stuffing mud in his mouth and leaving him to die in the Florida Everglades -- because he was a half-breed. His mother, Agnes Billie, who died when he was nine, and Betty Mae Tiger Jumper, another half-breed -- who went on to become the first and only tribal chairwoman -- put a stop to it. To earn money, Jim Billie went on to wrestle alligators for tourists, as well as build chickee huts.
Chief Billie is one of the people responsible for giving birth to the Indian gaming industry in the United States by pushing through a contract to operate high-stakes bingo on the Seminoles' Hollywood reservation in 1979, and then leading the tribe when it won a US Supreme Court 1996 decision upholding the sovereign rights of tribes to conduct gaming on their reservations. Like many Indian tribes, the Seminoles were heavily dependent on federal welfare, which Billie believed were used to keep Indians "down, uneducated, inexperienced in the business world."
When the money started gushing in, Chief Billie became a thorn in the side of the Florida government and big business, insisting on behaving like a Native American by refusing to put toxic dumps and landfills on Seminole land, and being uncooperative about pipelines, flight paths, roads and telephone towers. No American Indian has been more investigated by the US government than Chief Billie-- including by the FBI and the IRS -- yet no agency has brought a single criminal charge against him. When he started to criticize his fellow councilmen's spending habits, and brought in an outside administrator, Chief Billie rankled the Seminole ranks, who began to block him. However, what actually brought him down was a woman scorned, who later said she had been coerced into filing suit against Billie for sexual misconduct by other Seminole leaders. Chief Billie was impeached by the Seminole Council in 2001, and started, once again, to build thatched chickee huts in South Florida, waiting for his opportunity to make a comeback.
Hamish Dodds, Chief Billie & Pablo Castrogiovanni - Hard Rock Cafe, Venice
In 2011, at age 67, James E. Billie defeated Mitchell Cypress, the previous two-term chairman, by a landslide to return, once again, as Chairman of the Seminole Tribe... which is why he was here in Venice at the Hard Rock Cafe on Monday, July 27 -- which also happened to be my birthday.
Cat Bauer with Seminole Chief Billie at Hard Rock Cafe, Venice
With James E. Billie was Hamish Dodds, Hard Rock International President and CEO, as well as Chief Billie's wife, Maria, 13-year-old son, Eecho, 12-year-old daughter, Aubee, and other members of the tribe including Josh John, Nancy Willie, Danny Tommie and Trishana Storm, a descendant of George Storm, the man who had taught Jim Billie how to wrestle alligators. It was a tight group.
As President and CEO of Hard Rock International, Hamish Dodds, a Scotsman, oversees all aspects of the global enterprise, and is responsible for strategic development. Previously, he worked as CEO for Cabcorp, and then in the upper ranks of PepsiCo. He said that Italy was a very, very important market for Hard Rock, and spoke of the passion the Seminole owners have for their own brand. Dodds said that it was not easy to do business in Italy, but that he thought that Prime Minister Matteo Renzi was trying to make it easier.
Dodd said he had been looking into investing in the casino here in Venice for about five years, but back then the environment was not conducive. Hard Rock is interested in buying the casino out by the airport and turning it into a Hard Rock Casino. When it comes to Ca' Vendramin Calergi, the casinò here in Venice on the Grand Canal -- the world's oldest casino -- Dodds said it was a beautiful, historic building that needed to be preserved, and they would be interested in an operating partnership with Venice, but do not want to put the Hard Rock name on it.
At that point I was bursting with excitement -- I had come to the conference hoping for the opportunity to discuss just that topic, and here the CEO of Hard Rock was presenting it himself! To me, if the Hard Rock transformed the casino by the airport into a Hard Rock Casino, yet was behind the scenes at Ca' Vendramin Calergi, it would bring much needed wealth and positive energy to Venice. Venetians and Seminole Indians under the leadership of Chief James E. Billie are a good fit. I THINK THIS IS A FANTASTIC IDEA.
Seminole Indians at Hard Rock Cafe, Venice
Chief Billie then told the story of how he had always loved rock and roll, especially Eric Clapton and Jimi Hendrix, and plays himself (he was even nominated for a Grammy for his song, "Big Alligator"). He got back from serving in Vietnam, and kept seeing Hard Rock Cafe tee-shirts everywhere. So he bought a tee-shirt. Then, his tribe opened the first high-stakes bingo on the land of a sovereign Indian nation, and they got some money. One day he found himself sitting next to a guy named Pete on a first-class plane trip, who ended up being Peter Morton, who, together with Issac Tigrett, had founded the Hard Rock Cafe. They spoke about doing business together -- Chief Billie said he thought something along the lines of Hard Rock garb and a franchise, nothing like buying the company, which happened when he was not on the council.
Several times Chief Billie said how grateful and thankful he was. He taught us the Seminole word "Sho Na Bish," which means "thank you," and wants to put that on all the Hard Rocks, too, in addition to the LOVE ALL - SERVE ALL put there by Issac Tigrett.
When the conference was over, Hamish Dodds said that anyone -- the press, the employees, the kitchen staff, anyone -- could ask them anything. He was immediately interrupted and told that a list of questions had already been prepared. He responded that it would lose the spontaneity, but acquiesced. They were then asked several innocuous questions by the translator; for example, to Chief Billie: 'Why do you think the word "Hard Rock" is so successful, and what do you like about it?" To which he replied, "You can probably answer that yourself," and then went on to say it was a romantic word, a sexy word.
Maria, Chief Billie's wife, and Cat Bauer
Chief Billie also spoke about how much he loved his wife, Maria, and how grateful he was that she was here with him. He said that the Seminoles were good hunters, and that now they hunt for businesses instead of animals. He said that running into Hard Rock was a good hunt.
Chief Billie ended the conference by saying that back when the Seminole used to fight the military that they called themselves the unconquered, and that he had discovered that Venetians call themselves unconquered, too. Then he exclaimed: "Sho Na Bish!"
From the press notes:
With a total of 202 venues in 64 countries, including 154 cafes, 21 hotels and 10 casinos, Hard Rock International is one of the most globally recognized companies. Beginning with an Eric Clapton guitar Hard Rock owns the world's greatest collection of music memorabilia, which is displayed at its locations around the globe.
If only a perfectly nice dragon could be left well enough alone to manage his curse removal business with his partner (and crush) the human mage, Marci. Unfortunately for Julius, his family is far too big and far too, well, draconic to ever let him be. And clan seer Bob claims to have big plans for him. This does not at all add up to a quiet lifetime of removing tank badger spirits (don’t ask) from the erstwhile cursed. This series is just so much awesome fantasy fun. Picking up shortly after the events of Nice Dragons Finish Last, Julius and Marci are giving it their best to scrape by running a curse removal business when major events start happening that throw the two into a situation way beyond their means. Estella, seer, daughter of the Three Sisters and long time enemy of the Heartstriker clan has put into motion... Read more »
If you like Dr. Seuss and enjoy supporting First Book - Manhattan, you may want to save the date for this December event. I am delighted to be returning to Symphony Space to host this celebration and fundraiser. There will a cavalcade of talented actors on hand to read from the works of Dr. Seuss—this is not to be missed!
Pine and the Winter Sparrow is a retelling of a traditional Native American tale. In the book a sparrow with a broken wing seeks shelter during the winter. All of the trees refuse him, except for Pine. As a reward the pine tree becomes the only tree to not lose her leaves in the winter. This is a nice book that teaches kindness, as well as a little bit about the rhythms of the seasons.
I'll never forget the unexpected thrill I got when I first saw my last name on the spine of a published book. For whatever reason, I had anticipated seeing it on the cover and title page, but not the spine. It's Tough to Lose Your Balloon marks the 30th time I've experienced this—and seeing my family name printed on the spine of a book is as thrilling as ever! (And you'll be able to see for yourself on September 8th, when Balloon launches!)
My new life goal is to see that consonant-heavy name printed horizontally on the spine of a book!
Peace is an Offering is a short but nicely illustrated book about peace and kindness. It gives many examples of peace, all of which kids can relate to. There is a lot of detail in the illustrations, so parents can expand on each page and talk about the various topics.
Also Try: One Family by George Shannon Whoever You Are by Mem Fox Old Turtle by Douglas Wood
Quietly, one of the best current super-hero series being published is Nathan Edmondson & Phil Noto’s run on Black Widow. I first noticed Noto’s work on Marvel’s Uncanny X-Force, a few years back. His work brings a nice combination of fine art & design aesthetics to mainstream comic books. One of Noto’s earliest and most frequent collaborators was writing team extraordinaire Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti; starting off with a number of issues on their classic Jonah Hex run in the mid-2000’s, then projects like Superman/Supergirl: Maelstrom and Trigger Girl 6 for Image’s Creator-Owned series.
Phil Noto and writer Gerry Duggan received an Eisner award nomination in 2011 for their original comic series The Infinite Horizon, which tells a post-apocalyptic war story inspired by Homer’s Odyssey.
Phil Noto has worked for Disney Animation, as well as a concept artist for video games, including the mega-hit BioShock. Noto continues to be one of the most sought after cover artists in comics. He recently created a series of classic magazine inspired covers for Marvel.
You can follow the latest Noto news and see the newest art on his tumblr site here.
For more comics related art, you can follow me on my websitecomicstavern.com– Andy Yates