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1. The European Union: too much democracy, too little, or both?

In a symbolic gesture toward creating an ever closer Union, the European Union conferred citizenship on everyone who was also a subject of one of its member states. However, the rights of European citizens are more like those of subjects of the pre-1914 Germain Kaiser than of a 21st century European democracy.

The post The European Union: too much democracy, too little, or both? appeared first on OUPblog.

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2. What would Mark Twain make of Donald Trump?

The proudly coifed and teased hair, the desire to make a splash, the lust after wealth, the racist remarks: Donald Trump? Or Mark Twain? Today is Mark Twain’s birthday; he was born on 30 November 1835, and died on 21 April 1910.

The post What would Mark Twain make of Donald Trump? appeared first on OUPblog.

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3. Emotional Wound Entry: Having to Kill Another Person To Survive

When you’re writing a character, it’s important to know why she is the way she is. Knowing her backstory is important to achieving this end, and one of the most impactful pieces of a character’s backstory is her emotional wound. This negative experience from the past is so intense that a character will go to great lengths to avoid experiencing that kind of pain and negative emotion again. As a result, certain behaviors, beliefs, and character traits will emerge.

killerCharacters, like real people, are unique, and will respond to wounding events differently. The vast array of possible emotional wounds combined with each character’s personality gives you many options in terms of how your character will turn out. With the right amount of exploration, you should be able to come up with a character whose past appropriately affects her present, resulting in a realistic character that will ring true with readers. Understanding what wounds a protagonist bears will also help you plot out her arc, creating a compelling journey of change that will satisfy readers.

NOTE: We realize that sometimes a wound we profile may have personal meaning, stirring up the past for some of our readers. It is not our intent to create emotional turmoil. Please know that we research each wounding topic carefully to treat it with the utmost respect. 


  • a forced initiation into a gang or military group
  • a parent protecting their child or themselves from a stranger
  • a parent protecting their child or themselves from a violent spouse
  • a child protecting a loved one
  • killing to escape confinement or torture
  • having to kill in battle (soldier) or as part of one’s job (a bank guard or police officer, etc.)
  • being forced to kill another as part of a sadistic game or situation
  • performing a mercy killing to end another’s extreme suffering
  • killing to protect those in one’s care
  • killing to protect one’s vital resources in dire circumstances
  • killing to obtain vital resources (food, water, weapons) for one’s family

Basic Needs Often Compromised By This Wound: safety and security, esteem and recognition, love and belonging

False Beliefs That May Be Embraced As a Result of This Wound:

  • I am a violent/dangerous person/a monster
  • The world is an evil place
  • I did the unthinkable and so am capable of anything
  • I will suffer damnation for what I’ve done
  • No one will ever trust me again
  • People look at me differently now
  • People are afraid to be around me or get close
  • People expect that I will just snap and commit violence
  • It doesn’t matter what I do, people will only see me as a killer
  • I can never balance the scales after taking a life, never make up for what I did

Positive Attributes That May Result: alert, appreciative, cautious, courageous, decisive, diplomatic, disciplined, independent, introverted, private, proactive, resourceful, protective, socially aware

Negative Traits That May Result: addictive, antisocial, controlling, cynical, defensive, humorless, impatient, inflexible, irrational, materialistic, needy, paranoid, pessimistic, prejudiced, suspicious, timid, vindictive, violent, withdrawn

Resulting Fears:

Note: fears will be circumstance-specific, but below are some possible suggestions

  • fear of strangers
  • fear of loud noises
  • fear of being confined
  • fear of poverty (if a factor)
  • fear of weapons
  • fear of the dark
  • fear of a specific people group associated with the event

Possible Habits That May Emerge:

  • having to know where one’s loved ones are at all times
  • increased security protocol for one’s home and family
  • difficulty building trust and friendships
  • avoiding sharing personal information
  • having a secret store for cash, weapons or other resources (whichever factors into the original situation)
  • avoiding answering the door when alone or if it is a stranger
  • not leaving one’s home, avoiding going places alone
  • assessing risks before making a decision, a lack of spontaneity
  • investigating people in one’s family life to determine if they pose a threat
  • taking care with one’s resources, avoiding wastefulness and debt that could narrow one’s options
  • thinking about the worst case scenario
  • difficulty relaxing or enjoying the little things
  • noticing dangers and threats constantly

TIP: If you need help understanding the impact of these factors, please read our introductory post on the Emotional Wound Thesaurus. For our current list of Emotional Wound Entries, go here.

For other Descriptive Thesaurus Collections, go here.

Image: Satlitov @ pixabay

The post Emotional Wound Entry: Having to Kill Another Person To Survive appeared first on WRITERS HELPING WRITERS™.

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4. thoughts on my son's visit home, and this city we share

Now that our son is out on his own—a transplanted Manhattanite, a guy with an intense new-media career and plenty of stories to tell—these four Thanksgiving days are the days I most live for. Our longest stretch with him this near. Our longest walks. Our longest conversations. The thorough peace of waking up and thinking: He's just down the hall.

I arranged my motherhood so that I would have few motherhood regrets—hoped myself toward a freelance career that would spark to life when my son was at school or slept, stayed off the traveling writers' circuit, patchworked my existence. If I've sometimes felt invisible out there in the world, I've felt seen here, in this two-bedroom house, and these past few days especially I've felt more like my authentic, true-purpose self than I have since, well, last Thanksgiving.

We discovered a new trail together. We lit a candle at our table. We asked ourselves that enduring question: How do we continue to become the person we'd most like to be? And for an hour yesterday I opened my laptop and read pages from a book now very much in progress. My son is the best listener I'll ever have, the one who gets every nuance and bend of the real life I plumb into the depths of my fiction. The one who says, Okay, but let me ask you a question, and, Do you know a real-life Matias? and, Is Uncle Davy modeled on your Uncle Danny, and Yes. I see it. This could be your movie.

Last night, late, my son sat at the table and read this story in this weekend's Philadelphia Inquirer. It's the story I'd written about the Philadelphians I've lately met in my Love: A Philadelphia Affair travels. The people whose stories make our city what it is. I watched him read. I watched him nod. I saw him smile. Because my son may be living the NYC life right now, but he still considers Philadelphia home. This place we share and always will—no matter where he is, no matter what he's doing, no matter the miles between us.

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5. 'Best books' at The Guardian

       The Guardian, too, gets quite a selection of authors to: "reveal which of the past year's books they have most enjoyed" -- indeed, so many authors that this is actually only: Best books of 2015 - part one, so there's more to come.
       Always interesting to see what is recommended and liked.
       (The Times Literary Supplement's is probably the one of these I most look forward to annually -- alas, they only reveal a small sample of this year's selections online.)

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6. Amir Gutfreund (1963-2015)

       Israeli writer Amir Gutfreund has passed away; see, for example, Award-winning author Amir Gutfreund dies at The Jerusalem Post.
       He's probably best known for Our Holocaust -- somewhat surprisingly now published by AmazonCrossing; get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.
       See also the Institute for the Translation of Hebrew Literature Amir Gutfreund page.

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7. My tweets

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8. Weekend Links: The Highlights of November

What a whirlwind November has been! From national events like Native American Heritage Month, The Polar Express 30th Anniversary Edition Book Review & Giveaway and my week+ adventure doing author appearances at the Frances Hodgson Burnett Sesquicentennial Event, November has been an exciting and “book-filled” month! Here’s a quick recap of the highlights of November.

Native American Heritage Month links and booklists:

November is Native American Heritage Month, or as it is commonly referred to, American Indian and Alaska Native Heritage Month.

The month is a time to celebrate rich and diverse cultures, traditions, and histories and to acknowledge the important contributions of Native people. Heritage Month is also an opportune time to educate the general public about tribes, to raise a general awareness about the unique challenges Native people have faced both historically and in the present, and the ways in which tribal citizens have worked to conquer these challenges.

As always, the amazing authors and bloggers have gone above-and-beyond in sharing the best-of-the best in quality Native American booklists, activities and reviews.Go HERE to view some of my top picks along with some great posts from the JIAB archives.

The Hunters Promise by Joseph Bruchac

The Polar Express 30th Anniversary Edition Book Review & Giveaway

Has it really been 30 years since that magical Christmas tale of a train pulling up into a young boys front yard and hurling him over hill and dale until he reaches the North Pole? To my astonishment, it’s true. Thirty years later, The Polar Express has become a holiday Caldecott Medal-winning classic leaving children all over the world laying quietly in their beds on Christmas Eve, hoping to catch a ride on that magical train. For 30 years author/illustrator Chris Van Allsburg has inspired us to “believe.”

Polar Express

In honor of this event, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt has released a 30th anniversary edition complete with a new jacket design, expanded interior layout meaning we get to see and experience more goodness, a letter from Chris Van Allsburg, a downloadable recording of the story read by none other than renowned actor Liam Neeson and a gorgeous golden keepsake ornament. AND….I get to give one copy away to one lucky winner thanks to this The Polar Express 30th Anniversary Edition Book Review & Giveaway!! Go HERE for details and to enter-to-win.

Author Appearances at Frances HodgsonBurnett Sesquicentennial Event:

You may remember my mention of the upcoming Frances Hodgson Burnett Sesquicentennial Event Celebration. If you read that post you know how excited I was to celebrate an author who has touched my life in so many ways, and also one who is from my home state of Tennessee.

Frances Hodgson Burnett Sesquicentennial Event Celebration

This year the New Market/Knoxville areas are celebrating 150 years since Frances Hodgson Burnett’s moved to the United States in 1865. On hand will be her great grand-daughter Penny Deupree, as well as her great great grandchildren. Penny Deupree, Frances Hodgson Burnett’s great-grand daughter, is coming from her home in Texas to give three free public presentations and display some of Burnett’s personal belongings. You can see all the places I made author appearances here.

As you can imagine, this event was absolutely spectacular and it was such an honor to be invited by Frances Hodgson Burnett’s family! Here are some pictures and highlights from this memorable event:

Frances Hodgson Burnett

I was fortunate enough to meet, and spend time with, Frances Hodgson Burnett’s great granddaughter, Penny.


The young readers at the New Market School were some of the many groups that enjoy book extension activities from my book A Year in the Secret Garden.

The young readers at the New Market School were some of the many groups that enjoy book extension activities from my book A Year in the Secret Garden.

What were some of your November highlights?

Attention K-8th Teachers! Get a FREE Diversity Book for Your Class!

MCCBD Classroom Reading Challenge
2016 Multicultural Children’s Book Day Classroom Reading Challenge begins November 1, 2015!

Multicultural Children’s Book Day Classroom Reading Challenge is a special project connected to Multicultural Children’s Book Day (1/27/16) that gives classrooms the opportunity to earn a FREE Diversity Book for their class!
Teachers: We want to help you build your classroom library with diverse, inclusive and multicultural books! Here’s how to get a free book through Multicultural Children’s Book Day during the month of January. Teachers and classrooms can also win a Skype author visit with a children’s book author and the drawing will be made from the pool of teachers who signed up before 1/27/16. {author to be announced} This special project is free of charge to all teachers and schools and helps MCCBD achieve their mission of getting multicultural books into the hands of young readers and teachers.

What is it:

The Classroom Reading Challenge is a new project for us but it is a way for teachers to sign up, read up to four multicultural books in their classroom and earn a free multicultural book from us.

All Books are pre-screened and approved by the Junior Library Guild: Having Junior Library Guild on board assures that the free book that classrooms earn from MCCBD is a pre-screened, library-quality book that maps to Common Core. This is a HUGE and exciting benefit for this project.

Junior Library Guild

The MCCBD team would like to take a moment to say a huge “Thank You!” to Junior Library Guild, for allowing us to tap into their collection of library-quality books for kids. Their development and book review service relied upon by thousands of schools and public libraries and we are grateful they are sponsoring Multicultural Children’s Book Day Classroom Reading Challenge by donating the books for the classrooms!
The Junior Library Guild editorial team reviews more than 3,000 new titles each year, in manuscript or prepublication stage. They have a keen sense for finding the best of the best. Over 95 percent of their selections go on to receive awards and/or favorable reviews.

Go HERE to view some of the books that teachers can earn and win as part of our Multicultural Children’s Book Day Classroom Reading Challenge and sign your classroom up to earn a few book!!!!

The post Weekend Links: The Highlights of November appeared first on Jump Into A Book.

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9. Comics Gift Guide

‘Tis the season for winter holidays!

Does the tween in your life or your library love comics? Here are a few that need to be on your radar and will make your kids go absolutely nuts.

Source: Goodreads

Peppi Torres is just trying to survive her first days middle school. Suddenly she finds herself being both the teased and the teaser, and in the middle of a club war! Can she figure out how to make middle school bearable for both herself and those around her?

Source: Goodreads

Do your kids love PrinceLess? Well, let’s not forget about Angoisse, the oft-forgotten middle Ashe sister. What’s she been up to lately? Wellllll, it seems that the swamp surrounding her tower is inhabited by monsters and goblins and vampires! Not to worry, though, because her sister Adrienne and friend Bedelia don’t think twice about helping Angoisse rescue herself! The PrinceLess books are all fantastic and volume 4 is no exception.

Source: Goodreads

Well, Squirrel Girl is 100% delightful for readers of all ages, and it’s just been announced that Shannon and Dean Hale are going to write a YA novel about Doreen Green, so this is a GREAT time to get caught up on this girl who has the powers of a squirrel, awesome tale included. Bonus? Volume 2 comes out before Christmas, too! Perfect for the superhero fan in your life that also loves humor.

Source: Goodreads

Source: Goodreads

Do you have a Steven Universe fan in your family or your library? Then get this fully-illustrated handbook to the Crystal Gems into their hands, stat! Fully authorized and written by Steven Universe creator Rebecca Sugar, this book is full of new facts and fun illustrations. I promise your SU fans will eat it up.

Happy gift buying and book ordering!

Our cross-poster from YALSA today is Ally Watkins (@aswatki1). Ally is a library consultant at the Mississippi Library Commission.

The post Comics Gift Guide appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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10. New Photographic Non-Fiction: Doyli to the Rescue by Cathleen Burnham

Doyli to the Rescue: Saving Baby Monkeys in the Amazon, by Cathleen Burnham (Crickhollow Books, 2015)Doyli to the Rescue: Saving Baby Monkeys in the Amazon
by Cathleen Burnham.
(Crickhollow Books, 2015)


Ten-year-old Doyli raises an orphaned monkey in this photo-documentary book … Continue reading ...

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11. Carry On, by Rainbow Rowell | Book Review

Author Rainbow Rowell has brought fanfiction to life in her 2015 novel, Carry On.

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12. The first blood transfusion in Africa

Does it matter when the first blood transfusion occurred in Africa? If we are to believe the Serial Passage Theory of HIV emergence, then sometime in the early twentieth century.

The post The first blood transfusion in Africa appeared first on OUPblog.

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13. This blasted heath – Justin Kurzel’s new Macbeth

How many children had Lady Macbeth? The great Shakespearean critic L. C. Knights asked this question in 1933, as part of an essay intended to put paid to scholarship that treated Shakespeare’s characters as real, living people, and not as fictional beings completely dependent upon, and bounded by, the creative works of which they were a part.

The post This blasted heath – Justin Kurzel’s new Macbeth appeared first on OUPblog.

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14. Library Loot: Fourth Trip in November

New Loot:
  • Spell Robbers by Matthew J. Kirby
  • The Willoughbys by Lois Lowry
  • Mio, My Son by Astrid Lindgren
  • How To Get Married, by Me, the Bride by Sally Lloyd-Jones
  • The Ultimate Guide to Grandmas and Grandpas by Sally Lloyd-Jones
  • Junie B. Jones, First Grader: Turkeys We Have Loved and Eaten by Barbara Park
  • Steadfast Heart by Tracie Peterson
  • Connect the Stars by Marisa de los Santos and David Teague
  • The Odds of Getting Even by Sheila Turnage
  • To Hell and Back: Europe, 1914-1949 by Ian Kershaw
  • Hooray for Diffendoofer Day by Dr. Seuss
  • Daisy-Head Mayzie by Dr. Seuss
  • Tallulah's Tap Shoes by Marilyn Singer
  • Tallulah's Toe Shoes by Marilyn Singer
  • Tallulah's Nutcracker by Marilyn Singer
  • The Nutcracker by Susan Jeffers
  • The Bippolo Seed and Other Lost Stories by Dr. Seuss
  • What Pet Should I Get by Dr. Seuss
  • Horton and the Kwuggerbug and More Lost Stories by Dr. Seuss
  • A Spider On the Stairs by Cassandra Chan
  • Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
  • The Door Into Summer by Robert Heinlein
  • Speaker for the Dead by Orson Scott Card
  • Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card
Leftover Loot:
  • This Monstrous Thing by Mackenzi Lee
  • How Many Sleeps 'Til Christmas by Mark Sperring
  • Santa's Sleigh is On Its Way to Texas by Eric James
  • Waiting for Santa by Steve Metzger
  • The Night the Lights Went Out on Christmas by Ellis Paul
  • The Doldrums by Nicholas Gannon
  • Finding Fortune by Delia Ray
  • The Astounding Broccoli Boy by Frank Cottrell Boyce
  • Confessions of an Imaginary Friend by Michelle Cuevas
  • When Santa Was a Baby by Linda Bailey
  • The Year of Fear by Joe Urschel
  • Bomb by Steve Sheinkin
  • The Tale of Hawthorn House by Susan Wittig Albert
  • Oh, the places you'll go! by Dr. Seuss
  • The Face of a Stranger by Anne Perry
  • Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
  • Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery
  • Nurse Matilda by Christianna Brand
  • Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie
        Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire from The Captive Reader and Linda from Silly Little Mischief that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library. If you’d like to participate, just write up your post-feel free to steal the button-and link it using the Mr. Linky any time during the week. And of course check out what other participants are getting from their libraries

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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15. The Perception of Meaning review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of a collection of Jordanian author Hisham Bustani's short fiction, The Perception of Meaning, just out in a bilingual edition, from Syracuse University Press.

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16. Goa

We left Bombay on one of those trains you see on tv. Guys hanging off the sides, people sitting on the roof. We were travelling third class, the cheapest form of rail transit in India. Everyone in our class was packed into passenger cars with wooden bench seats which were quickly occupied by mothers with their children and a young Sikh military officer, off duty, to whom a crowd of young men passed a strong looking metal trunk through the open window. He had been smart, boarded the train, ruthlessly knocking old women out of his way, without his luggage, secured a window seat. The rest of us defended what little space there was near us and stood our ground through the swaying departure. Joyce found a piece of floor near our backpacks where she could sit. There was no point in talking. We were in for twenty straight hours, travelling third class from Bombay to Goa. I stood leaning against a window, bending over to watch the endless slums roll by as we left the city. A pair of Australian women began complaining as we entered the countryside. The difference stood out between the pampered Aussies and the stoic Indian mothers who sat on the floor for hours without uttering a bad tempered peep. The whining grated on my nerves. Chai wallahs appeared at the windows on the platforms of every stop along the way. You passed the money out, they passed the chai or sweets or Fantas, in. The Aussies loved the distraction, but their greed showed. They bought more of everything than they needed, shared it only with each other. They could not sit still and nothing was good enough. We somehow slumbered a little that night. I found myself standing at the window again as the morning appeared. Water buffalo looked up from wet paddies as the train sped by. “Hello, how are you? Where you from? I am a salesman from Bombay” I looked up to see a chubby, sweating Indian in a wrinkled suit and tie. He was smiling at me. When I told him I was from Canada, he laughed loudly. Leaning close, he waggled his forefinger in front of my nose. “Never trust an Indian”He winked, proceeded to outline the steps the Indian government had taken to obtain a nuclear reactor from Canada, all the while swearing it was for peaceful reasons, then produced a nuclear weapon from it. It was vague to me, I had heard of it, it had happened, but it was vague. I didn’t think it as hilarious as my Indian friend did. I felt embarrassed when he called Indians untrustworthy and thought, to myself, that I had about as much to do with the government of Canada as he did with the government of India. He talked with his hands, demonstrating telling signs of the naivete of Canadians and Westerners in general. He used comical facial expressions to emphasize slyness and brilliance. We chatted till he got bored and moved on. The vegetation grew lusher as we travelled toward the equator. The Aussies had been reduced to tears, then exhaustion. I was just glad they shut up. Joyce imitated the longsuffering Indian women. We didn’t find out till we were installed in a farm house, with a family, near the beach, that Goa was a European vacation spot. Famous celebrities from the West, rock stars, film stars, those in the know in Europe, with the means to travel to India for a one or two week stay, populated the seaside town during the European winter. I soon became addicted to the bean baji they made at the little restaurant in the main square where the buses stopped. The square was a leisurely stroll down the beach and dirt road from the farm. The Aussie couple who arrived in one of the local buses had “gone native”. They introduced themselves to us in the restaurant. She was the chai wallah and he was the chapati wallah. They explained that they had left home two years before and as far as they could tell, from the letters they kept receiving, their families were on the verge of hysteria. They were supposed to like India and travelling, but enough was enough. They weren’t expected to like it this much. They wondered if a family member would come over from Australia to try to find them in the teeming masses of India and take them back. At the moment, they were perfectly happy in India. They dressed like Indians and spoke to Indians in their own language. They liked the pace of life, the people, the country, the craziness. The guy pronounced “Boom shanka” in an experienced manner when someone shared a pipe of Manali hash. Goa had been a Portuguese colony until the 60s so they didn’t approve of dope smoking. There were less beggars there than in the rest of India and the locals still retained some Christian traditions like church and drinking scotch. Goan cops didn’t allow nude sunbathing. They took their time, walked slowly down the beach, looked carefully before telling German and Scandinavian girls to put their clothes back on. The “Boom shanka” was part of a religion which included sharing pipes of hash. We had seen, in the train station in Bombay, an Indian all dressed in red, red robe, red in his long hair, red paint on his face, sharing a pipe with a blond Westerner with thick dreadlocks down to his waist. They went through the boom shanka chants and held the smoking pipe up in front of them, as if offering it, before they smoked. The barefoot Indian looked fearsome, wild eyes, many necklaces of nuts and baubles, carrying a red trident. They said he was a worshipper of Kali, the goddess of destruction. The family matriarch, the grandmother of the family, questioned us one day. She gave Joyce a pitiful glance when she found out that we had no children. I had to admit that no, neither my grandmother nor my mother owned her own sambas. The grandmother was proud of her palm sambas. We lived among them. They were large plots of land like farmers’ fields full of tall palms bordering the beach. They produced enough wealth to keep the family independent. Women bent double in adjacent rice sambas for twelve hours, two dollars per day. Other women, those working for the grandmother, carried huge piles of palm branches to the walled in yard at the farmhouse. The branches were trimmed for firewood. The women, barefoot, casually killed the large rats which scurried from beneath the branches where they had their nests.. They were in a concrete trap and every one was killed. Those that weren’t crushed by the ends of branches wielded by the laughing women, were slapped sharply on the ground by the tail. When bullfrogs are hunted for frog’s legs, the same killing slap is used on the water. We wandered over mud paths atop the dikes which bordered the sambas by the white beach of the Arabian Sea. The wind rattled the palms and bent each stalk of rice. Spots of bright colour in the distance pinpointed women’s blouses. Luminescent blue and green birds darted through the dappled sunlight. For people used to traditional North American fare at Christmas, the shark steak dinner at the seaside restaurant was different. The cruel realities of the sea were displayed along the beach where we walked every day. Piles of sunfish lay rotting in the sun beside dead sea serpents, many poisonous. One of the indelicate but necessary realities of travelling in Asia is checking your shit. Yes, it’s unpleasant, but a tendency toward diarrhea, called “loose movement” by the grandmother, is a good indicator of illness. Travelling with a woman was much better than travelling with another guy or alone. The advantages were innumerable. Women related to women in the kitchen, food preparation was a common part of their lives. There were a lot of things which an Asian woman could never say to a Western man but which she could share with a Western woman. Joyce was learning to bake something from the women of the house just as we were leaving. It tasted good when we ate it for supper, but they left it out all night and I got the runs from eating more of it in the morning. We had to be very careful about cooking utensils in Goa because, as the women demonstrated, anything left out in the kitchen is an object to be examined and crawled over by the same giant cockroaches which hung around the toilet. The toilet was even scarier than the kitchen. When you crouched to defecate into the darkness below the little room beside the kitchen, the giant barnyard sow in the back yard could be heard grunting and trying to climb the concrete chute below you, to meet your turds halfway. When I started squirting brown juice, I couldn’t stand the sounds emanating from the depths of the toilet. I visualized a fat septic tank with teats waiting for my diarrhea. I found a place in the bush where I squatted, wishing for the cool Himalayas. The monsoon season was approaching, it was time to head north before the world was submerged.

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17. Jean Hatzfeld Q & A

       In the Forward Benjamin Ivry has a Q & A with Machete Season-author Jean Hatzfeld, who continues to write about the 1994 Rwandan genocide and its aftermath.

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18. Woke up with Vikings on the brain. :)

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19. A world with persons but without guns or the death penalty

In this post, starting again with a few highly-plausible Kantian metaphysical, moral, and political premises, I want to present two new, simple, step-by-step arguments which prove decisively that the ownership and use of firearms (aka guns) and capital punishment (aka the death penalty) are both rationally unjustified and immoral.

The post A world with persons but without guns or the death penalty appeared first on OUPblog.

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20. Rainy Grocery

I did this quick sketch from the car yesterday while Jeanette was in the market. It's 3 x 3 inches in gouache. The colors are: titanium whitecadmium yellow lightburnt sienna, and Prussian blue in a watercolor sketchbook

I wrote a five-word story to go with it. There's still a month left if you want to enter the Six-Word Story Challenge. It's free to enter. You can browse the fabulous entries that have come in already on the special Facebook event page we've set up for the Six-Word Story Challenge.

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21. Book Trailer for Patrick Ness' A MONSTER CALLS - the Movie!

Oh wow. This is going to be something! Click the image to watch on YouTube...

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22. A Fine Dessert....What Does This Mean for Teachers?

Last month, there was an online conversation around the picture book, A Fine Dessert by Emily Jenkins and Sophie Blackall that expanded my thinking about the idea of teacher-as-reader/teacher-as-decision-maker.

A Fine Dessert was published earlier this year and has received several starred reviews by major reviewers such as School Library Journal and Booklist. It is a book that is loved by children and teachers everywhere. It has been talked about as a possible Caldecott contender on the blog Calling Caldecott (here and here).

Then issues were brought up about the book and its depiction of slavery (A Fine Dessert: Sweet Intentions, Sour Aftertaste).  Sophie Blackall responded, explaining her process and the thoughtful choices she made as illustrator.  Honestly, it was something I completely missed and overlooked and like the author of Reading While White, I am a bit disappointed with myself for missing it.

(To catch up on the entire conversation, you can find many of the posts and a timeline of many events on Debbie Reese's blog.)

The conversation last month was a long, intense conversation that happened mainly through blogs and Twitter.  I listened in to the conversation daily and tried to keep up with all that everyone was saying about this book and the issues surrounding it. Social media is a tricky way to have conversations like this because lots of people jump in and out of conversations and sometimes 140 characters isn't enough to dig into a topic this big.

So, what does this mean for teachers?  As teachers we need to be readers. But we also need to be readers of discussions like this one so that we understand as much as we can about the books we put in our classrooms and in the hands of children.  Here are the big take-aways I had after thinking about this for a few weeks.  These are the things I've learned from the conversation:

1. This is one reason many of us are on social media--to hear different perspectives, to learn from people we did not always have the opportunities to learn from, to grow in our thinking.  I've always believed strongly that teachers need to be readers, but this online controversy reminded me of the reasons I spend so much time reading book reviews, blogs, etc. Not only do I need to be a reader of books, but I need to be a reader of all that surrounds a book if I am going to make good decisions about the books to share with my students.  Whether you agree with the opinions of others or not, being aware of perspectives of others is important in our work.

2. This is not about one book--it is much bigger than that.  Even though the conversation felt focused on a book and individual people, this is really a bigger issue than that.  And it has been an issue for a very long time.  If you aren't aware of the campaign, We Need Diverse Books or the NCTE Resolution on The Need for Diverse Children's and Young Adult Books, they are important to know about. I also think Roger Sutton's piece, We're Not Rainbow Sprinkles, in last month's Horn Book is worth a read on this issue.

3. There was very little teacher voice in the conversation. And I believe that our voice needs to be part of this conversation.  We need to respect the teacher-as-decision-maker in these and all conversations and I didn't see that happening in this conversation. Ultimately, we are the ones who make decisions about which books are in our classroom libraries.  I remember years ago, reading the issue surrounding an Alvin Ho book. I realized then how many things we need to think about as teachers when we choose books for our classrooms.

4. Change happens because of the conversations. It doesn't  happen overnight but it does happen. Betsy Bird recently shared a post about the new edition of Ladybug Girl and Debbie Reese shared many books whose stereotypic depictions have been changed in recent years. This is all good news for children.

5. Social media is a tricky place to have hard conversations. Conversations without judging is key--we can have heated conversations that help us all grow and understand our own biases. It seemed that early on, as people were making sense of the issue, some people were unintentionally shut down a bit when they didn't agree immediately. And this was a conversation between a group of people who ultimately spend their lives working to get diverse, quality books into the hands of children.  This was a group of people working toward the same goals. I learned that there will be missteps in language as we each make sense of our own biases and make sense of some of these issues.  It seems we have to be a bit more careful when we are having conversations on social media--careful so that we broaden the conversation--so that we invite more people in instead of unintentionally shutting people out.

0 Comments on A Fine Dessert....What Does This Mean for Teachers? as of 11/29/2015 12:33:00 PM
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23. Amélie Nothomb Q & A

       At PEN Atlas Tasja Dorkofikis has a Q &A with local favorite (and much-reviewed) Amélie Nothomb -- mainly about her just-published (in English) Pétronille.
       Aside from noting that the title-character is based on Stéphanie Hochet (see also, for example, the Salon littérraire Q & A, Pétronille par elle-même: Stéphanie Hochet est un personnage de fiction), Nothomb also mentions her prolificacy:

I am now writing my 84th novel. I published 24 of them. I don't know where this urge to write comes from.

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24. Happy Birthday, Bill Weasley!

Today marks William Arthur “Bill” Weasley’s 45th birthday. Bill is the eldest of Molly and Arthur Weasley’s children, husband to Fleur Delacour, and father to Victoire, Dominique, and Louis Weasley.

Described by Harry as “cool,” Bill is a known for being brave and having a penchant for adventure. After graduating from Hogwarts, Bill went to Egypt to work as a curse-breaker for Gringotts; however, after a few years, he returned to England to join the Order of the Phoenix since the threat of Lord Voldemort’s return was imminent. It was during his time with the Order that he met his future wife, Fleur.

During the battle of the Astronomy Tower, Bill was gravely injured by werewolf Fenrir Greyback whilst trying to fend off the attacking Death Eaters. While he was spared Greyback’s fate, he did acquire distinctive scars on his face from Greyback’s claws, and he developed wolf-like tendencies, such as a liking for rare meat.

A year after they met, Bill and Fleur married, but some very unwelcome wedding crashers came in the form of Death Eaters after the fall of the Ministry of Magic. Shortly afterwards, they moved to Shell Cottage, which served as a safe haven for Harry, Ron, Hermione, Luna, Dobby, Mr. Ollivander, and Griphook after their great escape from Malfoy Manor.

Bill fought in the Battle of Hogwarts with the rest of his family, and survived. He went on to have three children with Fleur.

May he have a peaceful birthday with his family, and perhaps some rare steaks.


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25. #783 – Big Bear Little Chair by Lizi Boyd

Saturday was an exciting day. My Ohio State Buckeyes won the border battle against University of Michigan. I was not expecting the trouncing Michigan took in their, no, in Ohio State’s win. Score: 42 to 13. By all rights the Bucks should have had 45 points, but instead of a field goal, they ran out …

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