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So here I am, home again in Greencastle, as happy a Hoosier as I was before. I'm living again with my friend Julia, and her six-year-old son Alex, in her cozy home on Anderson Street, a few blocks from the campus. (Ignore my thumb at the top of the photo. I'm still new to taking pictures with my phone.)
I'm teaching two courses: Children's Literature for the English department (28 students - 25 girls and 3 boys!), and Jean-Jacques Rousseau for Philosophy (9 students who fit comfortably into our tiny classroom tucked under the eaves on the third floor of Asbury Hall). The picture below is the walk from my house down Anderson Street to campus. (Any better quality photo on this blog is one I didn't take.)
I spend Tuesday/Thursday on campus, and MWF out at my office at the peaceful, pristine Prindle Institute for Ethics situated in the DePauw Nature Park on the site of a reclaimed quarry.
The strangest thing about my happiness here is that I don't have as many of my four "pillars of happiness" as I do at home. Writing, reading, walking, and being with friends are my four most reliable sources of everyday joy. Here I walk vastly less than I do at home, without my little dog Tank and best friend Rowan as faithful walking partners, and without Colorado's winter warmth and sun. I've been writing less, as I'm so busy, filling every day with DePauw-related activities and conversations, and reading less for the same reason. I do have lots of delightful catching up to do with DePauw friends, but I have even more dear friends back home in Boulder.
So why do I feel so fully alive here? Maybe it's the strong sense of community, similar to what I find with my church. On this campus, even as we're struggling with some painful issues of racial discrimination and exclusion, we work so hard together as a community to try to make things better. So maybe a strong sense of community is more important to me than I realized. I also love living in a small town - perhaps for the same reason? Or just because I like a certain scale to my life. I like having hardly any stuff, walking everywhere, residing in a town where the public library is steps away from the post office, which is steps away from the campus, which is steps away from the courthouse square. I've always loved small spaces.
And yet my life here doesn't feel small. It feels big, stuffed full of intellectual challenge through constant talks and reading groups, concerts and conversations. I feel so fully alive, what Rousseau calls the "sentiment of existence." Or maybe I just like being constantly busy. I've always been the kind of person who likes having a long to-do list and then crossing things off, one by one.That, too, makes me feel like I'm living more intensely.
I just found out yesterday that I lost a new friend to a tragic car accident. She was someone who lived with extravagant generous fullness, as writer, mother, friend. So whatever we can find to make ourselves feel the wonder of our existence most keenly, that's what we need to do. Today and always.
In an interview with EW, X-Men: Apocalypse writer Simon Kinberg confirmed Rose Bryne will be returning for the X-Men: First Class sequel to reprise her role as Moira MacTaggert.
“We ended First Class with Charles having wiped portions of her memory of her experience with the X-Men. They are, essentially, strangers to her when she meets them,” he told EW.
Byrne will join returning co-stars Jennifer Lawrence, Nicholas Hoult, Michael Fassbender, and James McAvoy. She will also join recently-introduced Oscar Isaac, who will be playing a central villain, and Sophie Turner, Tye Sheridan and Alexandra Shipp, who will be playing younger versions of Jean Grey, Cyclops, and Storm, respectively.
The sequel is set in the 1980s, which means the time period will jump forward by about 20 years – Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen are said not to be reprising their roles, and we’re guessing the rest of the cast will have just aged very gracefully?
The long silence since my Christmas posting was due to the exciting news that my middle grade mystery, Imogene and the Case of the Missing Pearls, will be published in June by MX Publishing. I was busy with formatting and editing issues to get it ready. (MX Publishing specializes in Sherlock related books, so Sherlock fans can go HERE to see a wonderful selection.) You can also read more about my book next door on my Victorian Scribbles blog HERE:
Not surprisingly, I have been reading a lot of mysteries both for young people and for adults. I recently joined Capitol Crimes, the local chapter of Sisters-in-Crime, since I'm currently working on a cosy mystery for adults. I was invited there by a friend, and it's her book I want to talk about today: Flint House, by Kathleen L. Asay, published by Bridle Path Press.
Flint House is a mystery, in fact a bundle of mysteries revolving
around what happens when disparate lives intersect over what should be a tragic event and stir up past events each character would like to forget.
Liz Cane, a cynical journalist with The Sacramentan, goes for an interview with Maisie Flint, the unpleasant owner of Flint House, a Victorian landmark in town. At one point, Maisie interrupts the interview to check on something upstairs. A few minutes later she tumbles down the stairs and dies.
Did she trip? Or was she pushed?
The tenants of Flint House are life's strays, hiding out from life in this rickety, shabby old Victorian. One mysterious tenant is called The Princess. No one knows her real name, but all the tenants seem to adore her, whereas none of them were especially fond of Maisie. The tenants also face eviction once Maisie's distant relative shows up to claim the house. The Princess claims to have a solution that will save Flint House. Then she is found in an alley, beaten nearly to death.
A random attack by a stranger? Or was she attacked by someone who knew her?
Despite herself, Liz gets drawn into their lives. She finds herself pursuing the story, partly as hard-bitten reporter, and partly because she cares about this motley collection of people who have become a family to each other. She's also obsessed with solving the mystery of The Princess's real identity.
I know it's almost a cliche these days to say "I couldn't put the book down," but I couldn't. It was an engrossing read, and the characters are memorable. Despite the events I've mentioned, it's also a heartwarming read. I highly recommend it.
And no spoilers here. You will have to read the book to answer the questions raised above.
This week's recommendation(s): Plenty of genre fiction reviewed this week.
For science fiction lovers, I recommend Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel. I did enjoy it very much. I'm not sure I loved, loved, loved it. Only time will prove that one way or the other. I personally still love Worthing Saga more. But that could be because I've reread it four or five times!
Brave New World was a good read. I didn't "love" it. But I'm so glad I read it. If you enjoyed Fahrenheit 451 or The Giver, you should definitely seek this one out.
I would definitely recommend Erle Stanley Gardner's The Case of the Velvet Claws. This is the first Perry Mason mystery. It was just a fun read from start to finish.
Each year I have the privilege to illustrate and design the T-shirts worn by all the volunteers and staff at the Humane Society of Broward County’s huge fundraiser “Walk for the Animals.” The dogs on this T-shirt are very special to me. They are the friends of Small Dog, the lead character in my picture book series.
The Walk will be held February 28th this year. If you love dogs, this is a must attend event!
The Acts of King Arthur and His Noble Knights by John Steinbeck
The Midwife: A Memoir of Birth, Joy, and Hard Times by Jennifer Worth
Historical Romances: The Prince and the Pauper, A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court, Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc by Mark Twain
The Painted Bridges by Wendy Wallace
Jane Austen Cover to Cover: 200 Years of Classic Covers by Margaret C. Sullivan
Empire in Black and Gold by Adrian Tchaikovsky
The Midwife's Tale by Sam Thomas
A Great and Glorious Adventure by Gordon Corrigan
The Upstairs Room by Johanna Reiss
Little Town on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder
These Happy Golden Years by Laura Ingalls Wilder
Bo at Iditarod Creek by Kirkpatrick Hill
Space Case by Stuart Gibbs
The Book of Three by Lloyd Alexander
Socks by Beverly Cleary
The Cat in the Hat by Dr. Seuss
The Cat in the Hat Comes Back by Dr. Seuss
On Beyond Zebra by Dr. Seuss
Horton Hears a Who by Dr. Seuss
If I Ran the Circus by Dr. Seuss
A Girl from Yamhill: A Memoir by Beverly Cleary
My Own Two Feet: A Memoir by Beverly Cleary
The Big Over Easy by Jasper Fforde
The Fourth Bear by Jasper Fforde
Wars of the Roses: Stormbird by Conn Iggulden
The Foundry's Edge by Cam Baity & Benny Zelkowicz
Red Berries, White Clouds, Blue Sky by Sandra Dallas
Snow on the Tulips by Liz Tolsma
Out of the Easy by Ruta Septys
Devil at My Heels by Louis Zamperini
Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire fromThe Captive Reader and Linda from Silly Little Mischiefthat 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.
Another week, another great staff member to get to know. When you think of the world of publishing, the work of videos, podcasts, photography, and animated GIFs doesn’t immediately come to mind. But here at Oxford University Press we have Sara Levine, who joined the Social Media team as a Multimedia Producer just last year.
When did you start working at OUP?
I started working at OUP this past August, three months after completing my Master’s degree at Georgetown University’s Communication, Culture and Technology Program.
How did you get started in multimedia production?
I’ve been drawing comics and making short videos since I was a kid. My first big hit was in high school. I wrote, directed, filmed, and edited a parody of Wuthering Heights called “Withering Estates.” I played Heathcliff. No, it’s not on YouTube.
What is your typical day like at OUP?
My workdays at OUP vary depending on the projects that I’m currently working on. I’m usually filming, animating, drawing, recording audio, editing footage, or multi-tasking any of the above.
What will you be doing once you’ve completed this Q&A?
What gear or software are you obsessed with right now?
I learn something new about Adobe After Effects every time I use it. The unlimited amount of techniques and shortcuts in After Effects seems daunting at first, but I really enjoy exploring everything it can do.
What are you reading right now?
I just started reading Virginia Woolf’s Orlando. I have a bad habit of reading books too quickly (developed over years of tearing through Harry Potter books on their release dates), so I’m trying to pace myself with this one.
What’s your favorite book?
Instead of one favorite book, I’m going to list five of my favorite comics:
Batwoman: Elegy by Greg Rucka and J.H. Williams III
The Long Journey by Boulet
Pancakes by Kat Leyh
Skim by Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki
Fun Home by Alison Bechdel
Which book-to-movie adaptation did you actually like?
I was surprised at how much I enjoyed teen movies that are modern adaptations of older works. Films like Clueless, She’s the Man, O, Easy A, and 10 Things I Hate About You are very clever and sometimes overlooked because of their target demographic.
What is in your backpack right now?
A Maruman Mnemosyne sketchbook, a Wacom Intuos 2 tablet, Orlando, a manual for the Canon C100, a pencil case, a red umbrella, a disposable rain poncho, a pear, and a small bag of gluten-free pretzels.
Most obscure talent or hobby?
I’m not sure how obscure this is, but I played the French horn for about eight years. The experience gave me very powerful lungs and some great French horn jokes.
What do you do for fun?
I make more multimedia, of course! You can find my doodles, comics, .gifs, and videos under the handle “morphmaker” on Twitter, Tumblr, Vimeo, and Deviantart. I also run a podcast with my sister. It’s called Sara & Allison Talk TV. We discuss television shows and web series that feature central female characters and include elements of fantasy, action, and science fiction.
to see the full text, sample illustrations, and to help bring this book to life!
Thank you for your support!
Over one million families in North America alone celebrate “Chrismukkah.” Around the globe more and more families are incorporating the hybrid holiday into their lives, yet there is no “go-to” story about it for them to embrace. Until now. Hanukkah Howie vs. Santa Claus will be cherished by every child who grows up in a Chrismukkah home, but it will be enjoyed by all readers because it’s fun, funny, and full of heart.
Howie climbed out of the Hanucopter and approached his first house. He sprinkled some oil, then slid under the front door with his bag of gifts. Everything was going smoothly, a typical first night of Hanukkah. Or so he thought! There was someone else in the house, and he had presents, too–Santa Claus! When the shocked pair realized there were families on both their lists…It. Was. On. Hanukkah Howie vs. Santa Claus is the hilarious and heartfelt story of how two holiday heroes wind up with the greatest gift of all for themselves: friendship.
About the Illustrator: Andy Catling is a professional illustrator with more than 30 illustrated titles under his belt. See http://www.catling-art.com/ for more.
Hi folks, this is my February series on Golden Advice. I like to spend the month of February digging into the wisdom that has come my way, and that guides my art, my craft and my life. I find having some wise stuff in the soul helps me write stories with purpose.
I like to start with American poet Carl Sandburg. I always have this feeling that Carl is with me on my writing journey. His words whisper in the back of my heart. Something about his homespun writing gives me hope that I can be so much more. This week I'm going to respond to Carl Sandburg's broadcast in the 1950s called "My Fellow Worms."
Here's the first thing up. You grow older and you start getting a sense of what you really believe. This is the stuff that is tried and true. If you ask the question, "What do I believe?" and then answer it -- you end up writing a book or making a cute poster with a smart saying on it. Carl believed in "getting up in the morning with a serene mind and a heart holding many hopes." I am one the fellow worms. This little thought makes me want to put on some music and dance. Life is all about the small, tried and true things. I hope that you are waking up to this truth.
We are small in this universe. Tiny, tiny, tiny. Like Carl said about us: insignificant speck of animate star dust each of us is amid cotillions of billion-year constellations. When you realize this, it helps put perspective on all those hills you are trying to climb. In view of the universe, the towers of achievement that men proclaim just don't make a lot of sense. Note: I wrote a poem to bless my friends or I wrote a book that reached the planet -- not much difference in the scheme of things. Always keep things in perspective.
Next up, stop being so freaked out by pride. Pride is a good thing though it has a bad rap as a deadly sin. Be proud of your achievements but stay out of the sticky glue of arrogance. You know, don't lose your perspective and jump into vanity -- look at me! Not so easy in this life -- we live in the look-at-me generation -- selfies, social media, online life. Keep out of the mirror gazing. Your personality is sacred. It's a holy thing. Keep that in mind every time you share a bit of yourself. If you cut off enough, you will lose who you are.
Finally, I share a love of platitudes like Carl. Occasionally I here someone disparage my love platitudes but old well used thoughts are hard won. Moral content and thoughtfulness is much more than banal. You won't convince me otherwise. We should hold old sayings dear and not use them as lip service.
Share the platitudes that you have earned the right to share.
I especially like Carl thoughts about preserving our freedoms. We live in a world that seems to forgotten that "eternal vigilance is price of liberty." We are all in the struggle of freedom. You must get up today and fight. You will do it again tomorrow. Every life will find some "fiery trial and agony." Don't forget that as you share those tried and true words and suffer degradation because you have trusted others.
We are small but wondrous. Every little thing is going to shine, shine. Every little thing is going to shine. I hope my response to Carl's wisdom helps you find your way. Let it guide your creative journey. I will be back next week with more Golden Advice.
Here is a doodle: Spring is around the corner.
Here is a quote for your pocket.
Time is the coin of your life. You spend it. Do not allow others to spend it for you. Carl Sandburg
First sentence: Choo-choo! Choo-choo! The engine's pulling in. George is so excited for the train ride to begin!
Premise/Plot: George and one of his friends--a boy, not the man in the yellow hat--are going for a train ride. George is excited, of course. Don't expect this curious little monkey to get into trouble during the ride. It doesn't happen. He stays in his seat like a good little monkey. The text is simple; it rhymes. It's okay. Nothing special.
My thoughts: This was an okay book for me. I liked that this book is in the style of the original Curious George. And I do think that there's always, always a demand for more train books. This one works well enough for that need at least. The wheels on the front cover do spin a little. This book like Curious George's Crane features press-out pieces for children to play with.
2015 marks the 25th anniversary for the Humane Society of Broward County’s annual “Walk for the Animals” fundraising event. For something special I was asked to illustrate and design a commemorative T-shirt that will be sold on the day of the Walk (Feb. 28th, 2015).
Part of the fun of the “Walk for the Animals” is seeing the thousands of dogs all in one place. There are big dogs, little dogs, old and young, purebreds and mixed breeds. There are dogs in wagons and dogs playing Frisbee. The “parents” of all these pets are as varied as the dogs themselves. There are vendors of every type imaginable. I can’t say enough how much I look forward to attending, with or without my beloved dog.
There is only one condition, no cats allowed at the event (but the money raised does go for all the animals the HSBC cares for, not just dogs).
Colleen McCullough has the kind of life I wanted to live. She was insanely popular but didn’t go on tour or have much of a public life. I guess she wrote a bunch of books, but probably didn’t need to. The Thorn Birds probably makes enough money every year to sustain a slightly indulgent lifestyle. It is the bestselling book of all time to come from Australia, and is that rarest of things, an international bestseller. I now know that she was also a scientist, who pursued her career long past needing the money.
The Thorn Birds was as commonly seen in houses as bread when I was a teenager, even living abroad, and that book also stands out for me as one of a dozen that everybody was reading the same time, and one of a handful I thought deserved every inch of its success. (A couple of others in that exclusive group are Perfume and Pillars of the Earth).
In recaps of her career this past week it’s been unfairly compared to books like Fifty Shades of Grey, which makes me think that reviewers have not read or don’t remember it well. It was a romance, of course, but made of slowly simmering passions left on the back burner for a decade before they were brought to a boil. It is also, for the first third or so, simply a wonderful growing up and coming of age story, for both its heroine and Anglicized Australia. Maybe there’s sexism or anti-genre sentiment in bracketing the two together, a hallmark great novel with a titillating accidental bestseller. But maybe it’s just the laziness of reporting.
I admit that when I saw the news of Ms. McCullough’s passing, I had not thought of The Thorn Birds in decades, but once prompted, I recalled several scenes vividly. What better testament can a book get than being memorable?
She is now known as a person with a bad obit. Nevertheless, she was a remarkable and inspiring person, both for what she did and how she went about it.
McElligot's Pool. Dr. Seuss. 1947/1974. Random House. 64 pages. [Source: Library]
"Young man," laughed the farmer, "You're sort of a fool! You'll never catch fish in McElligot's Pool!"
Premise/Plot. Marco, the young boy in the story, is fishing at McElligot's Pool. Though the farmer warns him that the pool is just where people throw junk, the young boy claims he's not foolish or wasting his time fishing there. He tells how the pool could be--might be--connected to the sea itself. And how right this minute even all sorts of fish might be making their way to the pool for him to catch. He describes hundreds of fish, giving his imagination room to shine. But is the farmer convinced? Are readers?
My thoughts: It is nice to see Marco again. (I'm assuming that this Marco is the Marco of And To Think That I Saw It On Mulberry Street, which was published ten years previously.) Marco's imagination is going strong.
Even though I don't like fishing. I liked this book about fishing. I liked it more than I thought I would.
I might catch a thin fish, I might catch a stout fish. I might catch a short or a long, long, drawn-out fish. Any kind! Any shape! Any color or size! I might catch some fish that would open your eyes!
Oh, the sea is so full of a number of fish If a fellow is patient, he might get his wish!
This one won a Caldecott Honor. Half the illustrations are in black and white. Half the illustrations are in color.
Have you read McElligot's Pool? Did you like it? love it? hate it? I would love to hear what you thought of it!
If you'd like to join me in reading or rereading Dr. Seuss' picture books (chronologically) I'd love to have you join me! The next book I'll be reviewing is Thidwick The Big-Hearted Moose.
Sometimes beauty is its own reason. These daffodils (any daffodils really) bring me joy. Building these vector flowers was every bit a love affair. As with every project, I get to practice what I know and stretch into areas unknown. For those of you that know Illustrator, the leaves are brushes with the twist built in. The flowers themselves are blends, and radial and linear gradients (no gradient mesh).
Whenever a sign of spring is needed, this little beauty is there to remind me.
(Venice, Italy) The theme of the 2015 Carnival of Venice is, in Italian: La Festa più golosa del mondo! Which translates to: The Most Golosa Festival in the World! because there just is not an English word that means "golosa." If you ask Google to translate it, or if you look in an Italian-English dictionary, you will find it means "gluttony" or "greed." I have translated it to "tastiest;" the Carnevale site translates it to "most delicious." But golosa is more than that.
Carnival poster 2015 by Giorgio Cavazzano
I love Gorgonzola cheese, which also doesn't really exist in English; it is called "blue cheese" and is a distant cousin from genuine Gongonzola. In Italy, Gorgonzola is protected and can only be produced in certain regions according to certain methods. The result is something divine; an oozy center that is almost liquid, and a distinct taste... if you gob some Gorgonzola onto fresh warm bread... and sip some white wine... AH. It is something I cannot stop eating. If I buy two etti... (a unit of measure that also doesn't exist in English; there are about 4.5 etti in a pound:) I eat the entire two etti; it is impossible for me to control myself. I am GOLOSA for Gorgonzola. If I were male, I would be GOLOSO for Gorgonzola. Some people have this craving when it comes to chocolate. Or Girl Scout cookies. Or Ben & Jerry's Chunky Monkey ice cream. It is something you crave, usually something decadent and delicious. So, the Venice Carnival is the most golosa festival in the world, and there will be plenty of goloso food to tempt you.
There is a new spirit of cooperation and comradery in the city (someone joked it's because we are still without a mayor, so politics are not involved). While Piazza San Marco will still be the center of the action when it comes to parading in costumes, in the evening the party moves down to Arsenale on February 7 and 8, and then again on February 12 through Fat Tuesday, February 17, complete with nightly fireworks.
This year, many local foundations and organizations are contributing to the Carnival, with some dynamic collaborations. Women in Love or Shakespeare's Women written and directed by the Teatro Goldoni's own Giuseppe Emiliani will be performed inside two impressive Venetian palaces that are now part of Venice's Civic Museums -- Ca' Rezzonico and Palazzo Mocenigo -- with costumes by the renowned Venetian atelier, Stefano Nicolao.
The Civic Museums are highlighting The Art of Food, featuring cultural and social influences on traditional Venetian cuisine through the ages, keeping with the theme of EXPO 2015 in Milan: "Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life." Also, on Fat Thursday, February 12 there will be a theatrical and musical marathon at Palazzo Ducale, Museo Correr, Ca' Rezzonico, Palazzo Mocenigo and Casa Goldoni -- for example, at Palazzo Mocenigo, Venice's museum dedicated to fabric, costumes and perfume, there will be a 10-15 minute performance entitled, "THE GOLOSO LIBERTINE," about the appetites and tastes of the infamous Venetian lover, Giacomo Casanova (now that you know what "goloso" means, you can imagine the show!).
Wow. It was the original, pre-Letraset lettering, 1986 Black Tower ad that I thought had been lost years ago. Featured are Wildmane, Runestone (the flying guy with the big moustache if you have never -WHAT?!- read a Black Tower book before) and to their rear, Team Nippon's own Red Dragon (when Black Tower had a super hero group).
Little Red's Riding 'Hood. Peter Stein. Illustrated by Chris Gall. 2015. [February 2015] Scholastic. 40 pages. [Source: Review copy]
First sentence: Here and there, up and down, in and out, Little Red loved riding around his 'hood. One day, Big Blue Mama gave Little Red an important job. "Poor Granny Putt Putt is feeling run-down," she said. "Her oil is muddy, her exhaust pipe's exhausted, and her wiper fluid is wiped out. Please take her this basket of goodies right away."
Well. I almost don't know what to say about it. It's unusual and original all in one, I suppose. I'd never have thought about retelling the tale of Little Red Riding Hood in this way. The book is set in Vroomville, and all the characters are machines. Little Red is a scooter; Granny Put-Put is a golf cart; and the Big Bad Wolf, well, he's a very mean monster truck. The story is familiar enough, I suppose, in the end, yet it has an original feel to it. That doesn't mean that I personally love it.
Text: 3 out of 5 Illustrations: 3 out of 5 Total: 6 out of 10