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1. An interview with the translator of Bronze and Sunflower by Cao Wenxuan

Many of the best books take us into ourselves and outside into the world, facilitating journeys we might not otherwise have taken either in thought or reality. This sense of adventure and possibility is one of the reason’s why I’m so passionate about books in translation and why I was delighted to hear about the bestselling Chinese children’s novel Bronze and Sunflower (青铜葵花) by Cao Wenxuan hitting English-language bookshelves for the first time this year, thanks to its translation by Helen Wang.

Cover art by Meilo So

Cover art by Meilo So

Sunflower and Bronze, two children who are isolated and lonely for different reasons befriend each other. Following the death of Sunflower’s father, Bronze’s family unofficially adopt Sunflower and the story then follows the two children’s friendship, adventures, and experiences living in a very poor but very happy and generous family. Although not without times of grief and real hardship, Bronze and Sunflower’s lives are full of so much loveliness, happiness and kindness that this book, this story came as a welcome breath of fresh air, full of hope and a reminder that warmth and generosity can make for powerful storytelling just as much as angst and dystopia.

Although set in rural China during the Cultural Revolution Bronze and Sunflower has a timeless quality about it; yes, there are references to Cadre schools (a feature of the Cultural Revolution) but nevertheless it felt as if this story could have been set in almost any time period. It has a folktale-like quality in its focus on simple everyday events and challenges. The ingenuity of Bronze, the determination of his entire family to provide the best they can for Sunflower, and the fierce love between adoptive brother and sister are moving and enchanting.

This exploration of aspects of every day simple life reminded me at times of the Laura Ingalls books in the best possible sense and thus I believe Bronze and Sunflower would make a great read aloud from around 6+, as well as being enjoyed by older independent readers. This quiet and gentle story woven through with thoughtfulness and bright love will stay with me for a long time.

Captivated as I was by this Chinese novel, I took the opportunity to interview its translator, Helen Wang, about her work and – more broadly – Chinese children’s literature. First I asked about the process Helen goes through when translating a book, where she starts and what “tricks” or routines she makes use of.

Helen Wang: This is only the second book I’ve translated, so I don’t really have any “tricks” or routines. It takes a few months to translate a novel, and it seems to take between one to two years for a translated book to appear in print. It’s quite a commitment for everyone involved. So I like to take some time at the beginning to read the book and play with it, and work out whether we’ll get along – a bit like browsing in a bookshop or a library. One publisher was very keen for me to translate a particular book, and was so anxious when I turned it down. She wanted to know what was wrong with the book! There was nothing with the book, it was just that I didn’t feel I was the right person to translate it. Actually, the experience reminded me a bit of Daniel Pennac’s book “The Rights of the Reader” (translated by Sarah Ardizzone).


Playing by the book: Yes, translators have rights too! How interesting that you felt your style or approach didn’t somehow match a given book. That makes me wonder…what were the most challenging aspects of translating Bronze and Sunflower?

Helen Wang: When the editor at Walker Books sent me the Chinese edition of Bronze and Sunflower, I was staying with my mother and sister, and I would read a chapter at a time and then tell them what had happened. At first it seemed as though I was telling them about one brutal disaster or trauma after another, and it was not easy to show how the story would work in English. As the written translation progressed, it was lovely to see the human story coming to the fore.

We often think about language and culture when translating, but the story-telling is just as important. Things like timing, tension, suspense, length, rhythm, humour and dialogue are crucial elements of a story. We learn these when we are very young, and we all know how little children will complain if you don’t tell the story properly. Chinese stories often provide more information, and more repetition, than the English reader is used to. It doesn’t mean that one style is better than another, but rather that we have different expectations and tolerances. For example, when Sherlock Holmes’ stories were first translated into Chinese, they were given spoiler-titles like “The Case of the Sapphire in the Belly of the Goose”. Part of the challenge of translating is working out the storytelling!

Two Chinese language editions of Bronze and Sunflower

Two Chinese language editions of Bronze and Sunflower

Playing by the book: I find it really interesting that you talk about the impact of the disasters when you were first reading Bronze and Sunflower. Whilst there’s definitely hardship and trauma I didn’t find them overwhelming. What shone through was the compassion and thoughtful human relationships. There were whole stretches I wanted to underline! So tell me, what is your favourite passage in Bronze and Sunflower – your favourite bit of narrative?

Helen Wang: I think one of my favourite lines in the whole book has to be in the last chapter, when the authorities come to talk to the head of the village about moving Sunflower back to the city. We’ve followed the family through all the hardships, and like the family and the villagers, we can’t bear the thought of the authorities taking her away. The head of the village, playing for time, sums up the situation so succinctly: “It’s difficult”. It’s perfect!

Playing by the book: Ah yes, that’s a great scene. My personal favourite (without giving too much away) is the one which involves fireflies…. But now perhaps a much harder question: In what way is Bronze and Sunflower typical (or atypical) of 21st century Chinese children’s literature? I read recently that Chinese children’s literature tends to have what Westerners might call a strong Famous Five flavour, and that lots of what gets written would be considered a bit old fashioned for success in Western markets.

Helen Wang: Well I’ve already mentioned the fact that in Chinese stories there can be a different tempo, tension or tolerance of certain linguistic devices such as repetition.

I’ve heard English people say that Chinese children’s books can be overly moral or too didactic. And I’ve heard Chinese people complain that English stories lack firm morals and instruction! But these were adults talking, and it would useful to have some feedback from younger readers too!

A Monster Magic title by Leon Image

A Monster Magic title by Leon Image

One way to get an idea of what’s popular in China now is to look at the list of the 30 bestselling children’s books. The last available list is for February 2015.

By far the most popular children’s author at the moment is Leon Image (a pseudonym), who has ten books in the Top 30, and is one of the richest authors in China. Leon Image is the creator of the phenomenally successful Charlie IX series. Charlie IX is a dog with royal pedigree and superpowers, who, together with his schoolboy owner DoDoMo, goes on amazing fantasy adventures that involve working out clues along the way. The books come together with a magnifier, stickers and puzzles. The latest book is the series is no. 24: Charlie IX, Empty City at the End of the World, and there are currently eight books of this series in the top 30!

Leon Image has also produced the very popular Monster Magic series, and two of these (nos 13 and 14) are in the top 30. I don’t think any of the Leon Image books have been translated into English. However, there are four authors on the list whose work has been translated into English fairly recently.

The first in the Mo's Mischief series by Yang Hongying

The first in the Mo’s Mischief series by Yang Hongying

Yang Hongying is the creator of several very successful series. She started writing children’s books as a young primary school teacher in the 1980s, and after a few years left teaching to concentrate on writing. Her ‘Mo’s Mischief’ series is about a lively little boy, Mo, who keeps getting into trouble (some of these are available in English: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mo’s_Mischief). ‘The Diary of a Smiling Cat’ series follows the adventures of Mo’s cousin’s talking pet cat. ‘Girl’s Diary’ is about a girl in her last year at primary school.

Shen Shixi is China’s “King of Animal Stories” and he has written lots of them! His current bestseller in China is ‘Wolf King Dream’. His book Jackal and Wolf is available in English (translated by me) – it’s about a jackal who raises an orphaned wolf cub and the hair-raising adventures they have hunting, surviving, finding mates, having cubs – with the added complications that wolves and jackals don’t get on, and that they have a mother-daughter relationship.

Wu Meizhen is well-known for her Sunshine Sister series. She also wrote An Unusual Princess, which is available in English, translated by Petula Parris-Huang, and has a few twists in the tail.


strawhousesCao Wenxuan is Professor of Chinese Literature at Peking University, and writes for both adults and children. He currently has two books in the top 30: Bronze and Sunflower, first published in 2005 and still one of the bestselling children’s books in China; and Straw Houses (tr Sylvia Yu et al). Both of these are available in English now, and I hear a third – Dawang Tome: The Amber Tiles (translated by Nicholas Richards, Better Chinese, California, 2015. ISBN 978-1-60603-707-2) – will be launched at Book Expo America 2015, in May, where China is the guest of honour this year.

There are several commercial titles tied in with TV series, such as the Happy Lamb, Little Pig and Carrot Fantasy series. And there are six well-known translated titles on the list too: Totto-chan, Little Girl at the Window (Tetsuko Kuroyanagi), Charlotte’s Web (E.B. White), Pippi Longstocking (Astrid Lindgren), Fantastic Mr Fox (Roald Dahl), The Cricket in Times Square (George Selden) and Guess How Much I Love You? (Sam McBratney, Anita Jeram).

If you want to read more you might enjoy the special issue of IBBY’s journal Bookbird devoted to Chinese children’s books, although it was published nearly 10 years ago in 2006, nearly 10 years ago! It’s time for a new one!

There are also a couple of lists on Good Reads dedicated to Chinese children’s books / themes – Children’s Books about CHINA & Chinese Culture and Chinese Juvenile/Young Adults books.

Some books I might highlight include:

  • White Horses by Yan Ge, translated by Nicky Harman. This is a Young Adult novella. Yan Ge’s a very observant young writer with a wicked sense of humour.
  • Black Flame by Gerelchimeg Blackcrane, translated by Anna Holmwood. This is an animal story about a Tibetan mastiff
  • Pai Hua Zi and the Clever Girl, a graphic novel by Zhang Xinxin which I’ve translated, about Zhang Xinxin’s childhood in Beijing in the 1960s on the eve of the Cultural Revolution.
  • Little White Duck – a Childhood in China by Na Liu and Andres Vera Martinez. This graphic novel is set in the 1970s.
  • A Chinese Life by Philippe Otie and Li Kunwu. This graphic novel is set in 1940s onwards, under Mao Zedong.
  • chinesebooks

    Playing by the book: It’s interesting to see what’s been translated and sells – both in terms of being translated from and into Chinese. What other Chinese children’s literature would you like to see available for English language audiences?

    Helen Wang:I’d like to see a wider range of titles that show us different aspects of the Chinese experience from a child’s point of view. How about a Chinese version of “Diary of a Wimpy Kid”? Something that tells us what it’s like being a child in China today?

    The Ventriloquist's Daughter by Man-chiu Lin

    The Ventriloquist’s Daughter by Man-chiu Lin

    From the list of bestsellers, you can see that there are school stories, animal stories, naughty boy stories, and stories about children having adventures, just like there are here in the UK. I’d like to see some more stories that are about what it’s like to be a young person growing up in China or in the Chinese diaspora. I recently read The Ventriloquist’s Daughter by Man-chiu Lin, which is a wonderful story of a young girl’s struggle to establish her own identity as she grows up – I think this would work very well in English. You can read a sample of this (translated by me) in the new Found in Translation Anthology here on pages 57-71.

    Playing by the book: Thank you so much Helen. My reading list has grown exponentially! I’m very grateful that you’ve shared your knowledge of Chinese children’s literature today, and I especially want to thank you for enabling – with your translation – the story Bronze and Sunflower to to find another fan, another home inside me and no doubt many other English language speakers and readers.

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    2. Glorious Day

    After a cold week that brought rain, sleet and a little snow we finally have sunshine. It was sunny but chilly yesterday but today, today is a beautiful sunny 64F/18C. And let me tell you, Bookman and I have made the most of it. We were up about 6 this morning, not by choice — the cats were misbehaving — and there comes a point when the sun is rising and you realize you aren’t going back to sleep so getting up and starting the day seems the best option. Nothing a big cup of organic shade grown French roast coffee and homemade gingerbread waffles can’t fix. Followed by chores, a little rest and then a bike ride that was longer than we expected.

    Me and Astrid, ready to ride

    Me and Astrid, ready to ride

    I have a PDF map of Twin Cities bike trails and it really is impossible to tell how long a trail is. I showed our proposed route to Bookman and said I thought it would be around 25 miles give or take. It didn’t look that far. When all was said and done however, we ended up riding 35.1 miles! It was probably a little longer than it should have been because we had to backtrack twice. The first time was when the river parkway trail said it was closed but it didn’t look closed, there were people jogging on it and the barrier was open. Plus it was a long downhill right next to the Mississippi River. Whee! And when we got to the bottom and came around a curve, yup, the trail was closed. There is no getting around a locked fence. So then we got to ride up the hill we had just zoomed down. Next followed a very poorly marked detour that took us through downtown Minneapolis and definitely off the detour path as we had to find our way back onto the trail much farther down from the closed part because we didn’t know where we were going!

    Back on the trail, we had to look not long after for a connecting trail and of course it was not marked very clearly and we zipped right past it and up a short hill. At the top was a kiosk with an out of date map. When I got my iPhone thought it would never be a truly useful device to me, but turns out I was wrong. I have an interactive bike map on it that told us where we were and that we had missed our crossing trail which was at the bottom of the hill we had just ridden up. So back down the hill we went and sure enough, near the bottom was a small sign indicating our trail.

    This trail did not look so long on the map. It ended up being quite long but a really nice ride through trees and prairie restoration areas, by lakes and a creek. It is entirely paved and off the streets, though we did have to cross some busy intersections a couple times. But it was a great ride that looped us around back to near downtown Minneapolis where we picked up another trail, this one familiar, and made our way home. At one point while I was ogling the nearly 3-foot tall stone rabbit statue in someone’s garden, Bookman was looking the other way and saw a huge heron that he thinks was a great blue heron.

    Because I joined the National Bike Challenge yesterday that runs May through September and the app I was using to track my rides was not compatible to upload my data to the challenge site, I have switched to Strava. I had tried MapMyRide first but it has pop-up ads that made me grumpy really fast. Strava does not have pop-ups though the free version tracks the bare essentials and lets you do nothing else. But that’s ok really. I added an orange Strava badge in my sidebar so if you are on Strava too and want to be friends send my a request and I will follow you back.

    Now to the gardening.

    Everything is greening up. Walter the crabapple has dozens of tight little flower buds that will be bursting open very

    Future potato hill

    Future potato hill

    soon. He is going to be so beautiful this year I can hardly wait! In the meantime, today Bookman and I planted potatoes. I have never grown potatoes before so we will see how this adventure goes. The variety is Irish cobbler, a creamy yellow all-purpose sort of potato.

    We also planted peas. Lots of them. Twice as many peas as last year but it is still not enough to this greedy pea-loving person. I have two dozen seeds left and nowhere ready to plant. I am hoping during the week Bookman will help me dig out the grass next to the neighbor’s chainlink fence and we can plant the rest of the peas along the fence. Today we planted them in a bed alongside our deck that is an old strawberry bed that has run its course. Bookman has been working to clear it out because we plan to also plant spinach and chard in this bed. Then we strung twine around sticks down the middle of one of the main garden beds where we had tomatoes and peppers planted last year. Water and wait.

    Ready for peas

    Ready for peas

    Last spring I planted asparagus, two crowns of it. It takes about three years before you can start to harvest any of it. I kept looking for it and was beginning to despair, thinking the rabbits had found themselves a delicacy. But today, there it was! Both crowns sprouting up tiny little spears. What a beautiful sight it is.

    Meanwhile, we are having trouble finding a contractor to tear down our garage. They are all eager until they find out we don’t want to build a new garage to replace the old one. Suddenly they lose interest because a demolition is inexpensive work in comparison that only takes a day or two at most. You’d think someone would want the work but apparently we are



    small fry so we keep getting tossed back. Bookman will be making more phone calls this week and hopefully will manage to finally find someone to do the work. We would like to have it done by the middle of May so we can then have someone install fencing around the new chicken garden and we can plant out a few shrubs to start growing. We also have a shed to build. And a chicken coop. C’mon you contractor people, one of you must want a job!

    The week ahead looks sunny and warm with a chance for rain on Friday. That means we’ll be having to water our seeds all week. In spite of the precipitation we had last week, it has been a very dry spring and the whole state is in mild to moderate drought. Hopefully that will turn around soon, but please, not all at once. And leave the weekends dry. That’s not too much to ask, is it?

    Filed under: biking, gardening

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    3. 99 DAYS by Katie Cotugno

    Review by Rachel 99 DAYSby Katie CotugnoHardcover: 384 pagesPublisher: Balzer + Bray (April 21, 2015)Language: EnglishAmazon | Goodreads Molly Barlow is facing one long, hot summer—99 days—with the boy whose heart she broke and the boy she broke it for . . . his brother.Day 1: Julia Donnelly eggs my house my first night back in Star Lake, and that's how I know everyone still remembers

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    4. grinning in sun ~ and a howdy from Perspective

    grinning in sun

    Filed under: poetry

    0 Comments on grinning in sun ~ and a howdy from Perspective as of 4/26/2015 9:37:00 PM
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    5. nap time

    Another drawing with my new pencils:

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    6. Monday Mishmash 4/27/15

    Happy Monday! Monday Mishmash is a weekly meme dedicated to sharing what's on your mind. Feel free to grab the button and post your own Mishmash.

    Here's what's on my mind today:
    1. Campus Crush Reached 360 on Amazon!  Last week this happened and I nearly fainted. lol Totally unexpected and I'm thrilled. This book is perma-free so feel free to grab your copy here if you haven't already.
    2. Editing  I'm editing a book for Leap Books this week. :)
    3. Review of the Touch of Death Series  The entire Touch of Death series was reviewed on Hello Jenny Reviews. Jenn also interviewed me. You can check it out here.
    4. Marketing  I've made a new goal to do at least one thing a day to market my books. So far I've averaged about three things, whether it be contacting someone for a speaking engagement, reaching out to bloggers, or finding sites to promote my books. Hopefully these efforts will pay off.
    5. The Darkness Within ARC Giveaway  My ARCs have arrived! Yay! That means it's giveaway time. Enter on the Rafflecopter below for your chance to win a signed ARC.
    a Rafflecopter giveaway

    That's it for me. What's on your mind today?

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    7. Batman in Dior

    There is more to Batman 47 than Joe ChillGirl in Dior has been getting great press worldwide for its depiction of one of the most influential premiere collections in fashion history, but there are a couple of classic superhero connections as well.

    Sixty-eight year old fashion spoiler alert!

    Protesting long skirts

    As Girl in Dior aptly depicts, the designer’s debut collection split the fashion world. For some, the longer length of the skirts in Christian Dior’s first collection in 1947 was a step backward, but what ultimately won the day was a sense that Dior had tapped into deeper, more vital currents in the post-war West. Besides changing the course of fashion for a generation and, along the way, mentoring his successor in innovation, Yves Saint Laurent, Dior inspired a description that immediately became synonymous with his designs and, over time, any revolutionary break from existing style: the New Look.

    Girl in Dior beautifully depicts the entry of this phrase into the fashion lexicon. After noting the presence of legendary Harper’s Bazaar editor Carmel Snow in the front row, author Annie Goetzinger lavishly recreates the moment when, following the show, Snow uttered the phrase that solidified Dior’s place in fashion history.


    If you’re reading this site, though, chances are that you’re already thinking that the New Look sounds mighty familiar.

    Check out this house ad and more on Dial B for Blog

    It was, of course, the name famously — and not coincidentally — given to the modernization of Batman's appearance in 1964.

    But that wasn’t the first time Dior’s New Look appeared in Batman comics – there’s also a reference contemporaneous with Dior’s early work.

    Dior’s New Look garnered a lot of press in the U.S., from the revolutionary collections in the late ’40s to the Dior-mania of the subsequent decade and more. For our purposes, two articles in particular stand out: a January 1948 New York Times piece headlined “New Look to Stay, Expert Asserts” and Life Magazine‘s coverage of Dior’s latest “New Look” collection in February 1948.

    FullSizeRender (1)

    To see how such stories influenced comics, we can turn to the June 1948 of Batman, which re-tells Batman’s origin and includes his epic encounter with his father’s murderer, Joe Chill. However, that’s not the only story in this book, which deserves a digital restoration in full on Comixology (hint, hint).

    The landmark Batman #47 actually opens with a Catwoman story called “Fashions in Crime.” The tale begins with Catwoman breaking out of jail, only to hear herself mocked by other women as she walks down the street while wearing her civilian clothes:

    “Hmmph! She’s wearing a short skirt! She doesn’t have the NEW LOOK!”

    As the women go on to ridicule her for not reading the latest fashion magazines, Catwoman makes the painful realization that “since [she’s] been in prison, the style has changed.” But this also gives her an entrepreneurial idea: she creates her own fashion magazine, Damsel, along with a Damsel fashion TV program.

    Months later Damsel is the hottest media empire in the fashion world, and the scene shifts to an older socialite, who, wearing an elaborate hat, notes that Catwoman-turned-Damsel-publisher-Madame-Moderne’s latest designer favorite is “a gown by Millie Karnalee.” Karnalee’s name seems odd, but at the time it would have made sense as a pun on the popular American designer Hattie Carnegie, the subject of the January 1948 New York Times piece. Carnegie, besides, ahem, adapting (i.e. copying) Dior’s “New Look” at a lower price for the U.S. market, also made a point of condemning the predilection of younger women not to wear hats.

    And despite a nifty later scene wear Batman cracks the case thanks to his encyclopedic knowledge of fashion illustration technique, that’s where the story begins to diverge from the world of Girl in Dior.

    Apparently the writers weren’t aware of the free samples and ample cashflow that would have been accrued to the publisher of the world’s hottest fashion magazine, because Catwoman proceeds to use her newfound high-society access to steal clothes and rob women at an exclusive fashion show. Not surprisingly, the scene at Catwoman’s show is rather different from the more modest Parisian runways of the time — in true 1940s Batman fashion, it features “giant needles … scissors … thimbles … and a huge sewing machine!”

    Girl in Dior might not end with a fight on oversized designer props, but it is nonetheless a most enlightening read. I could go on, but I’ll leave that to an actual reviewer – ceci n’est pas une critique de Jeune fille en Dior.

    Girl in Dior

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    8. Monday Poetry Stretch - Terza Rima

    I read and wrote a lot of poetry this weekend and it seems I have iambic pentameter on the brain. I thought we should try a form that uses this meter, so this week I've chosen Terza rima. The Teachers and Writers Handbook of Poetic Forms (2000), edited by Ron Padgett, defines terza rima in this fashion.
    Terza rima is a tumbling, interlocking rhyme scheme that was invented by the thirteenth-century Italian poet Dante for the creation of his long poem, The Divine Comedy.

    Terza rima (an Italian phrase meaning "third rhyme") consists of a series of three-line stanzas (tercets) with the rhyme scheme aba bcb cdc ded and so on. It can go on as long as the poet wishes. At the end of the poem an extra line is often added to complete the structure: yzy z.
    You can read more on this form at Poets.org. Here is a poem written in terza rima by Robert Frost.
    Acquainted with the Night

    I have been one acquainted with the night.
    I have walked out in rain—and back in rain.
    I have outwalked the furthest city light.

    I have looked down the saddest city lane.
    I have passed by the watchman on his beat
    And dropped my eyes, unwilling to explain.

    I have stood still and stopped the sound of feet
    When far away an interrupted cry
    Came over houses from another street,

    But not to call me back or say good-bye;
    And further still at an unearthly height,
    A luminary clock against the sky

    Proclaimed the time was neither wrong nor right.
    I have been one acquainted with the night.
    You can read another example in Percy Bysshe Shelley's poem, Ode to the West Wind.

    I hope you'll join me this week in writing terza rima. Please share a link to your poem or the poem itself in the comments.

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    9. C2E2 2015: CM Punk to Write Ongoing Marvel Book


    Image Credi: Fox Sports



    Announced at C2E2, former wrestler turned UFC fighter turned author, CM Punk will write a new Drax the Destroyer ongoing comic for Marvel. The series will launch in Winter 2015. No co-writer or series artist was named, but the cover for the first issue will be drawn by Ed McGuinness.

    Punk recently did a short story for Thor Annual alongside Chew artist Rob Guillory. His next story that will see print is part of DC/Vertigo’s Strange Sports Stories. This also marks Drax’s first solo ongoing comic joining the fellow Guardian ranks of Rocket Raccoon and Legendary Star-Lord. 

    As the book is still aways away, more details are to be revealed soon. Teasing the book was a good move on both parties parts. Punk being a Chicago native, a big announcement about his future in comics during one of the biggest shows made all the sense in the world.


    0 Comments on C2E2 2015: CM Punk to Write Ongoing Marvel Book as of 4/26/2015 3:29:00 PM
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    10. The Mahé Circle review

           The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Georges Simenon's The Mahé Circle.

           Penguin Classics have started publishing the complete Maigret-series in new translations -- a wonderful undertaking -- but I've always been more partial to the other half of his œuvre, the so-called romans durs (as well as the hors catégorie works such as the Mémoires intimes (not in the abbreviated English translation ...)), and admirably they've been paying some attention to these as well.
           The Mahé Circle -- first published in 1946 -- was, astonishingly, never translated into English before; it finally came out, in Siân Reynolds' translation, in the UK last year and has now made its way to the US.
           You can understand that some of Simenon's prodigious output might fall through the cracks, but this corrects a major oversight: this is a major work. Brutally bleak -- probably why it was previously neglected -- but very well done.

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    11. dr pepper

    Today I went to the art supply shop (Atlantis, off Brick Lane) and bought some new pencils.

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    12. #683 – Black & White Nighty-Night by Sarah Jones

    cover USEx


    Black & White Nighty-Night

    Written by Sarah Jones
    Illustrated by Sarah Jonestop book of 2015 general
    Blue Manatee Press        4/01/2015
    12 pages           Age 0—3
    “This unique concept book combines the ever-popular bedtime nursery rhyme with contemporary high-contrast illustrations, specifically designed with babies in mind. The youngest readers and their families will delight in the gentle story of an owl saying goodnight to barnyard friends as they snuggle into bed. Bold black-and-white illustrations will capture babies’ interest, as the soothing rhymes lull them to sleep.” [publisher]

    Which word do you use to tell a friend goodnight? Little Owlet has quite the repertoire: nighty-night, sweet dreams, sleep tight, doze, sleep soundly, and, of course, goodnight; six heartfelt bedtime-salutations, for six diurnal farm friends.  After hearing Little Owlet’s goodnights to her critter friends, and before closing their tired eyes and dreaming, young children will be ready to wish their own goodnights, “Nighty-night Mom. Night, Dad.”  

    The simple rhymes in Black & White Nighty-Night are perfect for young children, as is the book’s size and shape. The thick and sturdy glossy pages are perfect for chubby little fingers to turn without tearing. Even a wet mess, after a plea of “One more drink, please,” will wipe off quickly. I would mention how fast blobs of fallen jelly and smears of peanut butter clean away, but Black & White Nighty-Night is most definitely a bedtime story.

    Black & White Nighty—Night

    As stars light the night, Little Owlet stretches her feathery wings and, with mom waving goodbye, flies off into the twinkling night sky. Not far away is the barnyard. Wherever Little Owlet is heading, she takes the time to say nighty-night to her friends.

    “Sleep tight hen and chickies, lying in your nest.
    “Doze, fluffy kitty cat, purring as you rest.”

    The seemingly simply black and white illustrations are adorable. With a little effort and imagination, form meets function (Ms. Jones’ specialty), and a lifelong love of learning and books can take root. Help your child find objects by locating Little Owlet in each spread. Use different voices, such as a hardy “Moooo,” a squeaky “Oink-oink,” and a soft “Meow,” to familiarize your child with common farm animals (a cow, lamb, pig, chicken, cat, and . . . nope, not telling). Get those little fingers learning shapes by tracing the black-and-white outlined objects and animals. And, if all that is not enough, the momma animals have from one to five babies; a good start on counting to ten. Black & White Nighty-Night will be a hit with both toddlers and parents. (Reviewers, too.)

    BLACK AND WHITE NIGHTY NIGHT. Text and Illustrations copyright © 2014 by Sarah Jones. Copyright © 2015 by Blue Manatee Press. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Blue Manatee Press, Cincinnati, OH.

    Purchase Black & White Nighty-Night at Amazon—Book Depository—IPG—Blue Manatee Press.

    Learn more about Black & White Nighty-Night HERE.
    Meet the author/illustrator, Sarah Jones, at her website:  http://www.sarahluciajones.com/
    Find more creative board books at the Blue Manatee Press website:  http://www.bluemanateepress.com/

    Sarah Jones, artist, author, teacher, storyteller, and fellow Ohioan and holds an MFA from the University of Cincinnati and a BFA in Painting and Art Education from Miami University (Ohio). Go Bucks! Ms. Jones also wrote and illustrated the award-winning board books Orange, Triangle, Fox and Bunnies Near and Far (both reviewed HERE) Her second 2015 release, Lloyd Llama, will be reviewed soon.

    2015 Mom’s Choice Awards – Black & White Nighty-Night
    2015 Mom’s Choice Awards – Lloyd Llama
    2014 Creative Child Magazine Book of the Year – Baby Unplugged: Play
    2014 Mom’s Choice Awards – Baby Unplugged: Play

    Review Section: word count = 339

    Copyright © 2015 by Sue Morris/Kid Lit Reviews. All Rights Reserved


    Black & White Nighty-Night by Sarah Jones - Blue Manatee Press 2015


    Filed under: 6 Stars TOP BOOK, Board Book, Children's Books, Favorites, Library Donated Books, Top 10 of 2015 Tagged: 2015 Mom's Choice Awards, barnyard animals, bedtime books, bedtime nursery rhyme, Black & White Nighty-Night, Blue Manatee Press, learning to count, little owlet, parent-child relationships, Sarah Jones, shapes, white-outlined animals

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    13. Compromised

    “Your credit card’s been compromised
    Perhaps, so just in case,
    We’re sending out a new one
    For the old one you’ll replace.

    Please contact all the merchants
    Where your number is on file.
    You can substitute the new one.
    (This may take a little while.”)

    But I like my current number!
    It’s a pain to make the change
    And it’s not my fault that these accounts
    I have to rearrange.

    It’s a shame that we are living
    In an age with so much fraud.
    Still, when honest folk are punished,
    It’s the system that seems flawed.

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    14. NPM Project: Jumping Into Form - Concrete Poems

    What is a concrete poem? On his web site John Grandits says that "Concrete poems are poems that use fonts, and shape, and texture, and color, and sometimes motion."

    Shadow Poetry distinguishes among concrete, shape and visual poetry in this way.
    Shape and Concrete Poetry go hand-in-hand; however, Concrete or Visual Poetry don’t have to take on the particular shape of the poem’s subject, but rather the wording in the poem can enhance the effect of the words.
    There are many terrific examples of concrete poetry in books for kids. I would like to share a few here. Keep in mind that concrete poetry is about the marriage of words and form. Therefore, you need to SEE them to truly appreciate them. That means this post will have lots of links to sites where you can see the art in these poems.
    Poetry Basics: Concrete Poetry (2009), written by Valerie Bodden, is an analysis of the concrete poetry form, beginning with its origins and history while providing a range of examples through the present day. Here are some of the things Bodden says about this form.
    The goal of the type of poetry known as concrete is to have the shape or appearance of a poem reflect what the words express (p.3).

    While most traditional poems are meant to be read, concrete poems are meant to be seen. Looking at a concrete poem can be almost like looking at a painting. In fact, if you try to read a concrete poem out loud, much of its meaning may be lost (p.12).
    The book ends with a section entitled "Think Like a Poet," which provides steps and encouragement for readers to write their own concrete poems. Also included are a list of books for further reading, a glossary, and bibliography.
    A Poke in the I: A Collection of Concrete Poems (2005), selected by Paul Janeczko and illustrated by Chris Raschka, includes a wide range of poems that are cleverly shaped and written. Eskimo Pie and Popsicle are both poems in the shape of ice cream. Swan and Shadow looks exactly like its title and is a lovely piece of work. You can view an inside spread from the book and download an activity page from the Candlewick web site. You can also get a brief preview from Google Books. Notice that the table of contents is in the form of a table!
    A Curious Collection of Cats (2009) and its follow-up, A Dazzling Display of Dogs (2011), both written by Betsy Franco and illustrated by Michael Wertz, are collections that explore the peculiarities and absurdities of cats and dogs in wildly energetic ways. First, just look at those covers! If the use of animals in forming the letters of the titles doesn't immediately suck you in, then hopefully a few of these interior shots will. Michael Wertz has generously posted images from the books on his web site. Take a look at Kids page to view them.
    Two books written by Joan Bransfield Graham, Splish Splash (2001) illustrated by Steve Scott, and Flicker Flash (2003) illustrated by Nancy Davis, are collections of concrete poems about the physical world. SPLISH SPLASH is a collection of 21 poems about water in a myriad of forms, including crocodile tears, ice cube, popsicle, snow, hail, dew and more. FLICKER FLASH is a collection of 23 poems that explores natural and man-made light sources, including the sun, birthday candles, an incubator bulb, lightning, a firefly, and more. At Google Books you can see examples from both Splish Splash and Flicker Flash.

    Here are two examples from Flicker Flash. Keep in mind that these are shape poems, so they may not reproduce particularly well here.

    one flick
    I am the SUN,
    I chase the shadows
    one by one, growing scary,
    jagged, tall - with brilliant beams
    I ' L L    M E L T    t h e m    A L L ! 

    miles away I bring
    you this dynamite, ring-
    a-ding day. I'll shout in
    your window and bounce
    near your head to solar
    power you out of
    your bed."
    Poems ©Joan Bransfield Graham. All rights reserved.
    Doodle Dandies, (2007) written by J. Patrick Lewis and illustrated by Lisa Desimini, uses wordplay and surprising "movement" to make the topics come alive. The 19 poems in this book cover a variety of subjects, including giraffe, weeping willow, skyscraper, baseball, basketball, the oyster family, and more. Synchronized Swim Team uses the legs of upside-down swimmers to make its point, while Creep and Slither appears in the shape of a snake, until midpoint when the bulging word bull frog announces what's been eaten. You can view some poems/images from the book at Lisa Desimini's web site.
    Meow Ruff: A Story in Concrete Poetry, written by Joyce Sidman and illustrated by Michelle Berg, is the story of a dog and cat trapped under a picnic table in a rainstorm. Since much of the verse forms the images on the page, readers will enjoy searching for the buried verses while reading the story. You can find a reader's guide at Joyce Sidman's site for Meow Ruff.
    Lemonade: and Other Poems Squeezed from a Single Word (2011), by Bob Raczka and illustrated by Nancy Doniger, might not be considered concrete poetry by some, but to really see the genius of what he's done you must LOOK closely! As the jacket flap says, "Play with your words! Part anagram, part rebus, part riddle—this brand new poetic form turns word puzzles into poetry. Using only the letters from a single word, each of the poems in this collection capture a scence from daily life and present a puzzle to solve." Check out the Macmillan Books' photostream to view a number of images from the book.
    Technically, It's Not My Fault (2004) and Blue Lipstick (2007), both written and designed by John Grandits, are two collections designed for older readers. The first book is written from the point of view of a young boy named Robert. The poems reveal Robert's concerns with all things adolescent. He is at turns smart then immature. Poems topics include his older sister, the school bus (dubbed TyrannosaurBus Rex), ordering pizza for dinner, mowing the lawn and more. The second book is written from the point of view of Robert's older sister, Jessie. Her concerns are those of a typical teen, but Jessie is anything but typical. She is funny, sarcastic, and totally her own person. Poem topics include a bad hair day, a pep rally, volleyball practice, Advanced English, her mother's birthday and more. Both books use graphic design in unusual and surprising ways. You can see a few of the poems from Technically and Lipstick on Grandits' web site. You can see a few more images using Google Book Preview for both Technically AND Lipstick

    Concrete poems are fun to write and challenge children to think in different ways about the objects and events they see in their world. For additional ideas on writing concrete poetry, here are some resources you may find useful.
    Before you go, here's one more piece that may interest you. Take a look at this Getty Museum video on How to Make a Visual Poem.
    That's it for today. Join me back here tomorrow for an interview with Kristine O'Connell George.

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    Friends,  My shops are closed temporarily.  
    I am and working on new projects and am
    spending time with friends and family.
    thank you

    0 Comments on as of 4/26/2015 3:29:00 PM
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    16. Social Media Etiquette

    What not to do when using social media.

    0 Comments on Social Media Etiquette as of 3/17/2015 5:21:00 PM
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    17. More Thoughts on Act III

    I'm now quite a few months into what I'm calling Act III of my life, that final act where all the plot questions posed in the first two acts are answered, the themes illuminated, the ending delivered to the audience in some deeply satisfying way.

    So far, Act III hasn't looked all that different, I must say, from Act II. I'm back teaching at DePauw in Indiana, an opportunity I initially rejected because I thought it would look like too much like an awkward, repetitive scene recycled from earlier in the play. I'm still wrestling with a lot of Act II's same professional, financial, and familial challenges. While it isn't surprising that there would be considerable continuity from one act to another, I was hoping for more dramatic progress in the production. I was hoping for a hint that some of these challenges would eventually be resolved, preferably before the final curtain.

    Now I'm thinking that what Act III needs is some big Oh-My-God moment, where the audience gives an audible gasp: "We totally did NOT see that coming!" But if it's going to be a good play, the audience (and of course I realize that I'm the only real audience here) can't think they've somehow wandered back into the wrong theater after the last intermission, that they've stumbled into a completely different play. The OMG moments have to be surprising, but recognizably part of the same story. They have to catch the audience unawares, but then occasion the reflection that, in the end, the story turned out the way it had to, despite some plot twists.

    I just spent the weekend with my friend Robin, who visited me from Maryland, where she works as a music specialist/librarian in the Music Division at the Library of Congress. She's heading toward Act III herself, so much of our conversation turned on how we're going to live out the final third of our lives. Both of us are taken with this idea of provoking an audible gasp. We want to live now in a way to surprise ourselves and others.

    We decided, though, that we can't just announce to the universe that we're ready for a surprise, though that is a start. I do think the universe pays attention to such declarations of intent. But we also need to provide the optimal conditions in which surprise can take place. Robin thinks this means finding some way to step out of our comfort zones: say, by signing up to do something completely new and different, preferably a little bit scary. At the very least it involves saying yes if a new, different, and scary option presents itself.

    What kinds of new, different, and scary things might I decide to do?

    A few ideas from my list:
    Live alone in a foreign country that isn't Canada or western Europe or a haven for expatriates
    Take voice lessons (singing is the talent I don't have that I most wish I did)
    Write a completely different kind of book: creative nonfiction, a memoir, a collection of poems (okay, that's not SO different from what I've already done, but it's what gives me the biggest tingle of anticipation)
    Run a marathon (step one: run around the block)
    Climb one of Colorado's fifty fourteeners, and then maybe climb all of them
    Change the hairdo I've had since high school (ooh! that might be too scary even to contemplate!)

     What kinds of new, different, and scary things might you decide to do?

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    18. New Adult Fiction Genre - Contemporary Romance - #WriteTip

    There is a new genre emerging..."New Adult" fiction for older teens aka college-aged readers. You never stop growing up, but little in the market seems to address the coming-of-age that also happens between the ages of Nineteen to Twenty-six. Life changes drastically once high school is over, you have college, first jobs, first internships, first adult relationships…

    Part of the appeal of NA is that the storylines are about characters who are taking on adult responsibilities for the first time without guidance from their parents. And the storylines generally have a heavy romance element. 

    Keep this in mind as you revise your wonderful story, New Adult books are mostly about that specific time in every person's life—the time when the apron strings are cut from your parents, you no longer have a curfew, you're experiencing the world for the very first time, in most cases, with innocent eyes. New Adult is this section of your life where you discover who you want to be, what you want to be, and what type of person you will become. This time defines you. This is the time of firsts, the time where you can't blame your parents for your own bad choices. 

    An NA character has to take responsibility for their own choices and live with the consequences. Most storylines are about twenty-something (18 to 26) characters living their own lives without any parents breathing down their necks, and learning to solve things on their own as they would in real life. New Adult fiction focuses on switching gears, from depending on our parents to becoming full-fledged, independent adults.

    I am a firm believer that if you’re going to write a certain genre that you should read it, too. So I’m going to recommend that you start devouring NA novels to get a real sense and understanding of the genre before you write one.

    Here are some great recommendations: https://www.goodreads.com/genres/new-adult-romance and http://www.goodreads.com/genres/new-adult and https://www.goodreads.com/shelf/show/new-adult-romance

    Just as YA is fiction about teens discovering who they are as a person, New Adult (NA) is fiction about building your own life as an actual adult. As older teen readers discover the joy of the Young Adult genres, the New Adult—demand may increase. This, in turn, would give writers the chance to explore the freedom of a slightly older protagonist (over the age of 18 and out of high school, like the brilliant novel, "BEAUTIFUL DISASTER" by the amazing talents of author, Jamie McGuire) while addressing more adult issues that early 20-year-olds must face.

    Older protagonists (basically, college students) are surprisingly rare; in a panel on YA literature at Harvard’s 2008 Vericon, City of Bones author talked about pitching her novel, then about twenty-somethings, as adult fiction. After several conversations, Clare realized she had to choose between adults and teens. She went with teens.

    Quote from the publisher, St. Martin’s Press: We are actively looking for great, new, cutting edge fiction with protagonists who are slightly older than YA and can appeal to an adult audience. Since twenty-somethings are devouring YA, St. Martin’s Press is seeking fiction similar to YA that can be published and marketed as adult—a sort of an “older YA” or “new adult.” In this category, they are looking for spunky but not stupid, serious but not dull, cutting-edge, supernatural stories.

    Quote from Georgia McBride, author (Praefatio) and founder of #YALitChat and publisher at Month9Books: "New Adult is a fabulous idea in theory, and authors seem to be excited about it. But in a world where bookstores shelf by category, to them, it is either  Adult or Young Adult. Some booksellers even call their YA section “teen.” And when you have a character who is over a certain age (19 seems to be the age most consider the start of New Adult), it is received as Adult. In some cases, the designation by publishers causes more confusion than not.
    Let’s face it, YA is associated with teens, and at 19, most no longer consider themselves teens. So, it would support the theory of placing these “New Adult” titles in the Adult section. However, with the prevalence of eBook content, it would seem that the powers that be could easily create a New Adult category if they really wanted to...."

    There’s also a list on goodreads of New Adult book titles. These books focus on college age characters, late teens to early twenties, transitioning into the adult world.

    Some popular authors of the NA category include:
    • Jamie McGuire
    • Jessica Park
    • Tammara Webber
    • Steph Campbell
    • Liz Reinhardt
    • Abbi Glines
    • Colleen Hoover 
    • Sherry Soule

    Would you buy New Adult books? 
    Does the genre appeal to you? 

    Does it sound better than YA (teen novels)? 
    Or are you happy with YA as it stands?

    Do you consider YA to include characters that are over the age of eighteen? 

    0 Comments on New Adult Fiction Genre - Contemporary Romance - #WriteTip as of 3/18/2015 4:48:00 PM
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    19. Fonts

    Question: When a first person character is thinking something or express their feeling in thought, should I type it in italics? For example: She rummaged

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    20. Juan Goytisolo picks up Premio Cervantes

           They announced (and I mentioned) a while back that the great Juan Goytisolo would receive the 2014 Premio Cervantes, the leading Spanish-language author-prize and on 23 April -- not just Shakespeare's birthday, but also Cervantes' -- they had the ceremony handing over the prize.
           I was waiting/hoping for some English-language coverage -- it's Goytisolo ! the major Spanish-language author-prize ! royalty ! -- but ... little has been forthcoming. (Still, there's some: Cervantes prizewinner laments state of Spain during ceremony, Javier Rodríguez Marcos reports at El País 'In English'.)
           You can watch/listen to Goytisolo's acceptance speech here, or read it here, both in the original Spanish. (Come on, someone publish the English translation !)

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    21. C2E2 2015: Marvel Warzones Rounds Out C2E2 Announcements

    Rounding out Marvel’s Secret Wars themed panels was “Warzones” and to do this editors Jake Thomas, Jon Moisan, and Nick Lowe were joined by James Robinson, Marguerite Bennett, Dan Slott, and Dennis Hopeless.

    The presentation kicked off with Rick Remender’s Hail Hydra, a series that shows a piece of the Battleworld where Hydra rules all. It’s a book that does those things creators always want to explore but never could in exploring a world where evil always triumphs.

    Marvel then announced a new series, Hank Johnson, Agent of HYDRA, which will be written by Curb Your Enthusiasm executive producer David Mandel with art by Michael Walsh. It features a cover by Amanda Conner. The book is billed as an everyman who just so happens to work for the most villainous organization on the planet.


    Dennis Hopeless moved into his book, Inferno. “Inferno has been raging for five years and it’s like Colossus in ‘Escape From New York,’ said Hopeless. Art was shown from the book that featured Colossus squaring off against an army of demons. The group also touched on his other book, House of M.


    Lowe then talked about Infinity Gauntlet. Gerry Dugan is reinventing the cosmic side of the Marvel U for Secret Wars. He’ll tell a new story about the culmination of all the Infinity Stones (yep there calling them stones). Lowe also praised the work of series artist Dustin Weaver.

    Old Man Logan was up next as the panel showed off interior artwork. The story is more of a continuation than a retelling as the book will deal with trying to dethrone all the super villains who’ve taken over. Bendis was eager to take on the story to try and one-up original writer Mark Millar.

    Nick Lowe talked a bit about the 2099 universe and how Peter David’s book, Secret Wars 2099, was one of the first stories to be solidified for Secret Wars. He teased the appearance of characters we know and characters we’ve never seen, but also that the series could move into post Secret Wars Marvel.

    A-Force interior art from Jorge Molina appeared, featuring high-flying action including Captain Marvel. The showing was a crowd favorite and writer Marguerite Bennett talked about the cast which features Dazzler, She-Hulk, Medusa, Nico Minoru and a new character named Singularity.

    Planet Hulk was brought up and the group talked about how brutal the series is shaping up to be. The book will see all the Hulks gathered on a patch of planet called “Greenland”. Writer Sam Humphries also cast a gladiator Captain America that’s thrown right in the middle of all the savagery.

    Another tease for the Spider-Verse series was given by Dan Slott. The book which is written by Mike Costa will feature Arana, Spider-UK, Spider-Man India, Spider-Ham, Spider-Man Noir, and Spider-Gwen. It’s an over-sized continuation of what Slott set up at the end of Spider-Verse.


    Slott then moved into Spider-Man: Renew Your Vows. The writer gave more details about the series, “This is Peter in a world where he is father, husband, hero — in that order. That will change everything.”  He made it even more intense by revealing that Peter Parker will be putting on the Black Costume once again.


    Some interior art was shown from Skottie Young’s Little Marvel:AvX. The pages showed a glimpse of a battle between baby Archangel and Falcon. The group then briefly mentioned other series such as 1872 and Squadron Sinister before James Robinson talked a bit about Armor Wars. In the part of the Battleworld called Technopolis, everyone who wants to survive has to wear a suit of armor. A murder mystery unfolds when one character finds out the cause of the illness that’s confined their world. The writer also made it clear we’d see just about every incarnation of Iron Man armor that’s come before in addition to some new ones.


    Not many new details were given for Years of Future Past and Mrs. Deadpool and the Howling Commandos. However, Lowe did bring up Guardians of Knowhere, a book that will again bring the creative team of Bendis and Mike Deodato. The duo is “reinventing” the location for Secret Wars and will see a new villain that has a future beyond the event.

    Captain Marvel and the Carol Corps was brought up. The book is written by Kelly Sue DeConnick and Kelly Thompson featuring art by David Lopez. Not many new details were given about the story but the group talked about how blown away they were by Lopez’s pages.

    The big reveal of the panel was Howard the Human, a tie-in book by Jim Mahfood. It’s a book that takes place in an all animal version of the Marvel U with influences from films such as Roger Rabbit and Cool World. Even the city is taken on a new identity, “New Quack City”.



    With Secret Wars right around the corner, has Marvel’s announcements and hype machine got you any more excited for their upcoming “Nothing will ever be the same” event?

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    22. Book Reviews: Disney in the Time of World War II

    Two new books examine the role of the Disney studio as a patriotic propaganda factory during World War II.

    0 Comments on Book Reviews: Disney in the Time of World War II as of 4/27/2015 2:55:00 AM
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    23. Celebrate Literacy Award from GSDRA


    Photo by Lori Mitchell and used with gratitude!

    Yesterday I had the fun of attending an awards breakfast hosted by the Greater San Diego Reading Association, a branch of the International Literacy Association (formerly the International Reading Association).  Along with fellow children’s authors Suzanne Santillan, Lori Mitchell, Virginia Loh Hagen, and Joy Raab, I received a Celebrate Literacy Award for my contributions to literacy in San Diego. Such an honor!

    Greater San Diego Reading Association Authors Fair

    From left to right: Suzanne Santillan, me, Edith Hope Fine, Joy Raab, Virginia Loh Hagen, and Lori Mitchell at Pacific Beach Elementary, March 2014

    The GSRDA are the folks who host the annual Authors Fair I have participated in these past two years—hands-down some of the best events I’ve ever attended. These were the schools (Pacific Beach Elementary in 2014 and Kimball Elementary in National City this year) where the teachers had spent weeks preparing their students for my visit—reading The Prairie Thief aloud (and saving the last chapter for me!) and doing some amazing writing and art projects. There is nothing, nothing like seeing kids’ art and poetry inspired by your books, let me tell you. :)

    Student art and writing at Kimball Elementary



    Prairie Thief project by 5th-grader Isabella D.


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    24. Famous Person Freaky Friday

    switching placesWriting Prompt: Famous Person Switcheroo

    In Freaky Friday, the mother and daughter switch places for a day, and the mother has to go to school and be the kid, and the kid has to handle all the mom duties by herself. Well, imagine what it would be like to switch places for a day with a famous person! Would you want to feel what it was like to be Tom Brady passing a game-winning touchdown? Or Ariana Grande performing in front of a sold-out crowd? Or the President of the United States making important decisions in the Oval Office?

    For today’s Writing Prompt, we want to know . . .

    If you could trade lives with a famous person for one day, who would it be?

    If you would rather switch with a book character, that is ok too. Hermione Granger may be a made-up person, but she is still totally famous! Leave your answers in the Comments below.

    - Ratha, STACKS Writer

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    25. 30 Days of Teen Programming: Preparing Teens for Life through Creative Programming

    When we plan programs for teens, how do we create programs that will teach them something useful, but still fun and exciting? We can search the web, ask our colleagues for ideas, and look in old library school textbooks, but, ultimately, our journey begins with the Search Institute’s 40 Developmental Assets for Adolescents.

    When we look closely at the 40 Developmental Assets for Adolescents, the general framework focuses on the external and internal assets that can be found in a teen’s environment, which helps them develop. According to the Search Institute:

    “The 40 Developmental Assets follow “building blocks of healthy development—known as Developmental Assets—that help young children grow up healthy, caring, and responsible”

    What’s great about these developmental assets is that we already offer programs that support one or more of these assets.  Although we can’t hit every single asset (much to our chagrin), we can cover many of these building blocks by creating programs that ensure our teens are getting the support, encouragement, and opportunity to grow and learn in the library; by incorporating several developmental assets within our programs, we can help teens discover new things, which will inspire and entice them to come into the library with their friends to learn more. If we want to lure new teens, and current teens, I highly recommend introducing these programs during the annual summer reading program.

    The best part of summer reading programs are that they are themed; it definitely makes programming a little easier, or challenging, depending on the theme, but it forces us to get creative with how we craft and present our programs. As teen librarians, we always have to be on our feet so why not plan our summer reading programs around lessons that revolve around life skills using ideas such zombies, crafts, food, and robots. Here are a couple of programs that I have been able to implement, which utilize several of the 40 Developmental Assets for Adolescents to teach basic life skills:

    Making a Difference @ Your Library Teen Summer Reading Program

    Focus: Giving back to the community

    Developmental Asset(s): Support, Empowerment, Constructive Use of Time, Positive Values, Social Competencies, and Positive Identity

    1. SRP Closing Party & Care Packages
      1. Teens came to the library to celebrate the end of the summer reading program by making care packages for them men and women overseas; they also made greeting cards expressing their appreciation for all our military men and women.
    1. Making and Donating No Sew Blankets
      1. This program I cannot to credit for because my colleague learned about Project Linus and it was a hit with the teens; they spent 2.5 hours making blankets to provide a child in need with a security blanket.


    Zombie vs. Ninjas Teen Summer Reading Program

    Focus: Learning how to care/defend one’s self and work in teams

    Developmental Asset(s): Support, Empowerment, Constructive Use of Time, and Positive Identity

    1. Zombie vs. Ninjas Food Fest
      1. Teens literally ate their way through this program by eating ramen and zombie brains and hearts out of Jello by strategically teaming up with other teens with very, very large appetites. It was hysterical and a lot of fun because we were able to motivate teens to read this summer since we had the chance to talk about the program and prizes.
    1. Zombie Combat Training
      1. Teens learned how to defend themselves from attackers with the help a self-defense instructor. This program did require a waiver since it was a physical activity, but teens enjoyed the program (especially the young ladies) since some of them were going off to college.

    Groundbreaking Reads Teen Summer Reading Program

    Focus: Getting ready for college and adulthood

    Developmental Asset(s): Support, Empowerment, Constructive Use of Time, and Social Competence

    1. Sewing for Survival
      1. Teens continued to practice their sewing skills while making a super cute doll with the help of local artist, Liane Shih. This program allowed teens to have fun in an incredibly constructive way where they learned different types of stitches and techniques.
    1. Cooking for Survival
      1. Teens learned how to make nutritious meals using items they can buy at the grocery store and make in their dorms/apartments using a microwave or rice cooker. Teens really, really loved the idea of making staples such as burritos, pasta, and other dishes so they wouldn’t have to rely on sodium-laden foods that were cheap and low in nutritional value.
    1. Wilderness Survival Training
      1. Teens must work in groups to build a tent, or shelter, without any instructions or help from staff, make a proper first aid kit, and cooking with a toaster oven. After setting up each tent, we made basic first aid kits, which teens got take home with a list of supplies.

    Spark a Reaction Teen Summer Reading Program

    Focus: STEM and teamwork

    Developmental Asset(s): Support, Empowerment, Constructive Use of Time, and Social Competence

    1. Robot Building Workshop
      1. Teens had to team up and build a robot using a pre-fabricated kit and tools. This program took almost 2.5 for teens since they had to work together to make a robot (we had several options) and the results were awesome!
    1. Food Science
      1. Teens came together to make food of all kinds (chewing gum, chocolate candies, gummy candies, and ice cream) with the help of science kits from Mindware.com.  This program was a lot of fun because teens got enjoy the fruits of their labor and lots and lots of ice cream made from a ball.



    1. http://www.search-institute.org/content/40-developmental-assets-adolescents-ages-12-18

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