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1. Percy Jackson's Greek Gods, by Rick Riordan -- pure read-aloud fun (ages 9-14)

This week we began reading aloud Percy Jackson's Greek Gods with our 10-year-old. It is so much fun, I just have to share it -- even though we're barely a fraction into it. While I usually only share here books I've read in their entirety, I wanted to capture some of the laugh-out-loud moments we've been having. I also want to encourage you to keep reading aloud with your kids, even when they're reading proficiently on their own. That time together is pure gold -- treasure it and store up as much as you can.

Percy Jackson's Greek Gods
by Rick Riordan
illustrated by John Rocco
Disney Hyperion, 2014
Google Books preview
Your local library
Amazon
ages 9 - 14
Right from the introduction, it's clear that this is no ordinary retelling of the classic Greek myths. Percy is on top form, combining good natured humor and sarcastic wit:
"I hope I'm getting extra credit for this," Percy Jackson starts. "A publisher in New York asked me to write down what I know about the Greek gods, and I was like, 'Can we do this anonymously? Because I don't need the Olympians mad at me again.'"
While we haven't read the rest of the Percy Jackson novels together, my daughter knows plenty about them from her friends. She's curious about the Greek gods, but it's really Percy's voice that captured her attention.

Percy starts from the very beginning of time, with Chaos ("a gloomy, soupy mist with all the matter in the cosmos just drifting around"), Gaea the Earth Mother, and Ouranos the sky. Riordan packs a huge amount of detail into his tales, and we are finding it hard to keep track of all the names. So far, we've watched Kronos overthrow his father Ouranos, with the help of his four brothers Koios, Iapetus, Krios and Hyperion. And now Kronos is terrified that his father's curse will come true, and he will be destroyed by his own children. But the main characters are familiar to me, so I can help keep us on track.
"Without a word, (Ouranos) wrapped them in chains and tossed them into Tartarus like bags of recycling."

Want to have a taste of Percy's irreverent tone? Just read this chapter that begins the section on the Olympians and you'll see why this book has my 10 year old giggling each night:
"Why is Zeus always first?
Seriously, every book about the Greek gods has to start with this guy. Are we doing reverse alphabetical order? I know he's the king of Olympus and all--but trust me, this dude's ego does not need to get any bigger.
You know what? Forget him.
We're going to talk about the gods in the order they were born, women first. Take a backseat Zeus. We're starting with Hestia."
I just love the way Riordan infuses his retellings with plenty of modern attitudes. "Maybe you'll feel better about your own relatives, knowing that the first family in creation was also the first dysfunctional family." But he also doesn't skimp on the details, foreign names and intricate family trees. That's why this is working so terrifically as a read-aloud.

John Rocco's illustrations are magnificent. As Kirkus Reviews states, they "smoke and writhe on the page as if hit by lightning." Head over to John's blog to read more about his artwork and see sketches of some of the interior art as he is developing it.

An index, list of illustrations and suggestions for further reading are included in the back matter. My one complaint at this point is I wish there was a family tree and/or list of all the characters with a pronunciation guide. In the meantime, I think I will print out either this basic family tree from Encyclopedia Mythica.

The review copy was kindly sent by the publisher, Disney Hyperion Books. If you make a purchase using the Amazon links on this site, a small portion goes to Great Kid Books. Thank you for your support.

©2014 Mary Ann Scheuer, Great Kid Books

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2. What if there isn't a protagonist?

Question: First of all, thanks a lot to all the people that have built this website, it has been a great help. My question is, I was planning on writing

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3. Monday Mishmash: 9/1/14


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. Back to School  My daughter starts second grade tomorrow. This summer flew by. I guess being out of my house had something to do with that. We've only been home for two weeks.
  2. Back to My Writing Schedule  Back to school means back to my usual writing schedule. I have two ideas battling it out in my head. I'll get to work on the one that screams the loudest. ;) I'm so excited to draft a new book.
  3. Into the Fire Author Copies!  Look what came in the mail last Friday!
  4. Free Monthly Newsletter  My newsletter goes out this evening. If you aren't signed up but would like to receive one, click here. My newsletters have information about my releases, giveaways, and writing tips each month.
  5. Perfect For You and Into the Fire Release Giveaway  I'm looking for people to help me spread the word about my two YA releases by posting my giveaway with teaser from both books sometime during the week of September 8th. If you can help me out, sign up below: 
    That's it for me. What's on your mind today?

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4. Don't know my main charachter

If I have already started but don't know my main character what do I do? Will I start again? Answer: Some writers, namely pantsers, prefer to discover

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5. The Making of Storybooks – Studio B

HAPPY LABOR DAY! 

Since it is now September, I figured I would post this opportunity for those children’s writers and Illustrators who live within driving distance in Michigan, New Jersey , PA, and New York to met David Small and Holly McGhee.

The third poster down: Studio B in Maplewood, NJ is bringing together five children’s author/illustrators to discuss the process of writing a children’s book.

You can see all the details in the posters below:

Bookbug-CATCH-THAT-COOKIE-PROMO1

Catch-That-Cookie-Maplewood-Library-smaller

scratches-scribblesPoster-082214

A COMPLETE LIST OF APPEARENCES:

Wednesday, September 10, 2014, 6 P.M., Kalamazoo Public Library

A Conversation with David Small & Hallie Durand

315 South Rose Street , Kalamazoo, MI 49007

Here’s the link.

Thursday, September 11, 2014, 5:00 P.M., Bookbug, Kalamazoo

Cookie hunt & Book signing

3019 Oakland Dr, Kalamazoo, MI 49008

And here’s the link for that one.

Saturday, September 13 2014, 3:00 P.M., Maplewood Library

Scavenger hunt & Cookie decorating, with a live rogue cookie!

51 Baker Street, Maplewood, NJ 07040

http://www.maplewoodlibrary.org/kids-events/

Sunday, September 14, 2014, 12:00 P.M., Paramus Public Library

Scavenger hunt & Reading, with a live rogue cookie!

E116 Century Road, Paramus, NJ 07652

RSVP 201-599-1309

Sunday, September 14, 2014, Studio B Honcho

Scratches & Scribbles Event for aspiring or already arrived Writers & Artists

60 Woodland Road, Maplewood, NJ 07040

http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/830322

Monday, September 15, 4:00 P.M., WordsMaplewood Bookstore

Hallie Durand & David Small

Quick Drawing Lesson, Shapes & Contours, & Book Signing

179 Maplewood Avenue, Maplewood, NJ 07040

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: Advice, authors and illustrators, children writing, How to, inspiration, opportunity Tagged: David Small, Hallie Durand, Mark Your Calendars, Studio B, The Making of Storybooks

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6. Andrew in Asia

Andrew Medlar getting ready for his trip to the Philippines

Andrew is reading Pedro and the Monkey by Robert D. San Souci, illustrated by Michael Hays (Morrow Junior Books, 1996) at the Dr. José Rizal sculpture in Chicago’s Lincoln Park. Dr. Rizal (1861-1896) “is the Philippine national hero, the ‘father of his country,’ the founder of its modern literature, the inspirer of its educational system” (Reines, Bernard. A People’s Hero: Rizal of the Philippines. New York, Praeger Publishers, 1971.).

The National Library of the Philippines is sponsoring an International Conference of Children’s Librarianship in Tagaytay City next month and I’m very excited to be attending to represent ALSC! The theme of the conference is “Connecting and Linking of Information through Transformed Children’s Libraries to the Digital Era,” and I’ll be giving a presentation on the first evening, October 13,  on the topic of “Envisioning a 21st Century Children’s Library.”

This topic is right up ALSC’s alley as our core purpose is creating a better future for children through libraries, and I’m looking forward to reaching out and sharing how we’re moving together into our association’s envisioned future in which “libraries are recognized as vital to all children and the communities that support them.”

I would love your help in telling this story! What is your vision of a 21st Century Children’s Library for your community? We’re talking collections, technology, programming, spaces—and anything else you can think of. What innovations in library service to children can you imagine developing in the 85 years still to come in this century, and what traditions and proven tactics will we be carrying forward?

Please share your ideas you’d like me to spread around the world by September 16 in the comments section below or by clicking and submitting them here. If you have a picture of something special you’re doing now that you feel represents the future and you’d be willing for me to include it in the conference presentation, please e-mail them to me at andrewalsc@outlook.com. You can also tweet pictures and any other thoughts using #21stkidlib.

And please follow me on Twitter (@ammlib) where I’ll be gearing up for the trip by exploring Filipino folklore (find my reading list here), practicing ordering coffee in Filipino (Higit kape mangyaring), and warming up my taste buds at some of Chicago’s delicious Filipino restaurants. And throughout the trip (October 10-16) I’ll be sharing my experiences and the amazing ideas of our colleagues across the globe using #andrewinasia.

Thanks!

********************************************

Andrew Medlar is the 2014-15 ALSC Vice President/President-Elect and the Assistant Chief, Technology, Content, & Innovation, at Chicago Public Library.

 

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7. Back to School

I've culled the TWT archives for posts you might want to read during the first month of the school year.

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8. School Supplies Writing Prompt

Back to SchoolWhat school supplies can you not live without?

Whether it’s the usual or the unusual, leave your must-haves in the Comments below!

-Ratha, STACKS Writer

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9. BOBBEE BEE: IF WE MUST DIE!!!

bobbee

If We Must Die

 By CLAUDE MCKAY

If we must die, let it not be like hogs
Hunted and penned in an inglorious spot,
While round us bark the mad and hungry dogs,
Making their mock at our accursèd lot.
If we must die, O let us nobly die,
So that our precious blood may not be shed
In vain; then even the monsters we defy...
Shall be constrained to honor us though dead!
O kinsmen! we must meet the common foe!
book

 Though far outnumbered let us show us brave,
And for their thousand blows deal one death-blow!
What though before us lies the open grave?
Like men we’ll face the murderous, cowardly pack,
Pressed to the wall, dying, but fighting back!
blackpainbanner1

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10. It's Monday!! What Are You Reading? - 9/1/14


   a
**********************
I hope you had a great reading week.  
 
**********************
This is a weekly meme run by Book Journey!
 

Post the books completed last week, the books you are currently reading, and the books you hope to finish this week. 

There is a giveaway for WE ARE NOT OURSELVES here until August 28.

********************** 

Books Completed Last Week:

THE STORY OF LAND AND SEA by Katy Simpson Smith

This book is for a TLC tour for September 26. Review will be up on the tour date.

This book has gorgeous prose.  Story is a bit different, but good.



**********************

Book Currently Reading: 


FLIGHT OF THE SPARROW by Amy Belding Brown



Books Up Next:


THREE STORY HOUSE by Courtney Miller Santo


GARDEN OF LETTERS by Alyson Richman


AN UNSEEMINGLY WIFE by E. B. Moore

THE LAST BREATH by Kimberly Bell


TAHOE GHOST by Todd Borg


THE BEEKEEPER'S BALL by Susan Wiggs


HIGH SEAS DARKNESS by


VILLAGE OF SECRETS by Caroline Moorehead.



THE TRUTH ABOUT THE HARRY QUEBERT AFFAIR by Joel Dicker


THE GIRL WHO CAME HOME by Hazel Gaynor


WOMAN OF ILL FAME by Erika Mailman



THE SIGNATURE OF ALL THINGS by Elizabeth Gilbert



PERFECT by Rachel Joyce


UNDER THE WIDE AND STARRY SKY by Nancy Horan


**********************

The books below are not necessarily in the order I have planned to read them.  

I normally read in order of publication or tour date.

And....these are not for reading in the upcoming week.  They are books into and including all of 2014.

The "list" is a means of keeping me organized.  A visual display helps a lot for organization along with my Excel lists. 

     

How was your reading week?  

 **********************
Giveaway of Juliet's Nurse here until September 4.
**********************









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11. Toy Truck Trauma …

As a new strong toy he found himself in an abusive family relationship but he loved the rough and tumble times he had, now though he is happy to see the next phase of his life as a solid form of another man’s grown up world and would be content to sit on a shelf and watch as others play and he is admired for fun times had and fond memories …

JDM_X_TpyTrk83120141


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12. Daddy Long Legs

When I was a kid
My summers were spent
In the Catskills where
My parents went.

It was country bliss
And a life of ease
But with lots of spiders,
Wasps and bees.

There was one mean boy
And he got his kicks
Playing pranks he pulled
From his bag of tricks.

But the cruelest one,
Which caused gasps and screams,
Really shook me up
And invaded dreams.

He would catch a spider,
The Daddy-kind,
Yanking off its legs,
Leaving one behind.

The discarded legs
He would toss at me;
As the spider flailed,
He would howl with glee.

Though that boy’s long gone
And his fate unknown,
When a spider’s near,
It gets left alone.

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13. Mailbox Monday - 9/1/14


 
Mailbox Monday is the gathering place for readers to share the books that came into their house last week. (Library books don’t count, but eBooks & audiobooks do).    

Warning: Mailbox Monday can lead to envy, toppling TBR piles, and humongous wish lists!

Mailbox Monday, created by Marcia @ A Girl and Her Books, has a permanent home now at Mailbox Monday.


 **********************
Every week Mailbox Monday will have a new linky posted for our Mailbox Monday links at Marcia's Mailbox Monday blog.

Here’s a shout out to the new administrators:

Leslie of Under My Apple Tree 
Vicki of I’d Rather Be at the Beach
Serena @ Savvy Verse And Wit 

THANKS to everyone for keeping Mailbox Monday alive. 

 ****************
I hope you had a good mailbox.  

My mailbox had some awesome books in it.

 ****************
On Monday, August 25, I received:

1.  THE LAST BREATH by Kimberly Belle, courtesy of Emer Flounders of Harlequin/MIRA.

This was a surprise.


On Thursday, August 28, I received:

1.  NATCHEZ BURNING by Greg Iles, courtesy of Katherine Turro of Harper Collins.

It is a chunkster.


  
On Friday, August 29, I received:

1.  CROOKED RIVER by Valerie Geary, courtesy of Katherine Turro of Harper Collins.


On Saturday, August 30, I received:

1.  RUTH'S JOURNEY by Donald McCaig, courtesy of Mellony Torres of Atria Books.

I LOVED Gone with the Wind...can't wait to read this book.


**********
These books all look so good, don't they? 

 How about your mailbox?   

Which title was in your mailbox that you were excited about seeing?

**********
Giveaway of Juliet's Nurse here until September 4. 
 **********
 

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14. More On Susan Juby


I liked Alice, I Think by Susan Juby very much, but I'm not sure what the story is here. This may be one of those books you have to be zenny about and just experience.

Alice is the offspring of crunchy parents who homeschooled her because on her first day of traditional first grade (she didn't attend kindergarten), she showed up dressed as a character from The Hobbit. Things didn't go well for her. One could say that learning to read early leads to no good.

I was never a hundred percent sure why Alice was seeing a therapist, unless it had something to do with poor socialization because she was homeschooled. It was probably one of her parents' ideas. Alice heads out to regular school at fifteen, inspired by her younger brother who has always attended school. He may have been too bright for their parents and had some instinctual knowledge that you just don't dress up in costumes for school. Alice says outright that she has no problem with playing favorites. She definitely prefers her brother to her mother and father.

Oh, and Alice aspires to be a cultural critic.That is a fantastic aspect of the book.

Juby describes Alice, I Think as a Teen/Adult book, and I think that's very apt. There are aspects of this book that adults are going to find more entertaining than I think teens will. The section on the people holding some kind of memorial to the late, lamented Princess of Wales, for instance, is probably far more meaningful to adults than the younger than seventeen-year-olds who don't remember the world-wide mourning at her death. As much as I liked the cultural critic business, that might be for your more sophisticated teen readers, too.

Some of you may remember that my first Juby book was Home to Woefield, definitely an adult novel published in 2010. Next I read her teen book Getting the Girl, published in 2008.  I thought the main character was wonderful, "like a younger, less raunchy, undamaged Seth from Home to Woefield." Alice, I Think was published in 2003, and I think the young girl in the 2010 Woefield might be a variation on her.

Interesting to read so much of an author's work and see her world.

Alice, I Think has a sequel. In addition, a one-season TV series was made in Canada. Yes, I may try to get hold of it. If I watch it, you can be sure I'll let you know.


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15. Guy Read: True Stories

Guys Read: True Stories  edited by Jon Scieszka illustrated by Brian Floca Walden Pond Press, 2014 ISBN: 9780061963827 On shelves: Sept. 16, 2014 Grades 4 and up The reviewer received an advanced copy of the book from the publisher. Author, Jon Scieszka, has dedicated his life to inspiring boys to read, and he's succeeding. Not only did he serve as the National Ambassador for Young People's

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16. Soar Paper Airplane – Drawing A Day

Tried out some simple drawing and text combo. Used the neutral color shade canvas to begin. I heard somewhere that in nature, it’s rare to see absolute white and that having a white background as a basis for a drawing is the most unnatural. Drawn with Painter X3 with Gouache and lots of edge erasing […]

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17. It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 9-1-14

Thanks to our dynamic hosts: Jen at Teach Mentor Texts and Kelle at Unleashing Readers.
Head to either blog to find reviews as well as dozens of links to other blogs filled with reviews!

On Tuesday I will welcome ten students into my brand new classroom, my new home away from home.  I've taught 3rd and 4th grade for eight years in a public school.  I've seen many changes in education in those few short years.  And I can't say they were all positive changes.  I don't believe we need to test kids to the extremes we have begun to accept as normal.  I wasn't excited about the prospect of my son entering school in a few years to a technology filled kindergarten setting.  I was saddened by the policies and frustrated by my time being filled with goal setting and observation write-ups and ipad trainings and common core EVERYTHING.
And then I saw a job posting at an independent school.
I applied, and I got it.
I'm truly going to miss seeing some of the amazing people I worked closely with for the past eight years.  But, I have to say, I am getting to know some very amazing people at the new school.

And the best part, the very best part: politicians and policy makers will not be deciding what I teach, how I teach it, or how I report out on it.  I will be the person running my classroom.  The teacher running the classroom.  Imagine that.  My hands are untied and I suddenly feel lighter.

I have many future photos to share, but this one is so special to me.
The building my classroom is in was undergoing a huge expansion this summer.  For many days I arrived on campus hoping to be let into my new room, only to find that the move-in date had been pushed back another day.  With the school year rapidly approaching I was getting anxious.
So, there I was, sitting in an early meeting this week-literally on the edge of my seat, waiting for the go ahead to begin moving into my classroom.  My parents were meeting me at school with a U-Haul trailer filled to the brim with my collected belongings (mostly books).  The day was going to be long, that trailer was packed.
So as I sat there feeling equal parts anticipation to get into the new room, and dread at the amount of work ahead of me, I heard the most wonderful words come out of the Head of School's mouth...He urged all staff to go help the Lower School teachers move into their building-including unloading that beast of a U-Haul.
So, there they are, the amazing faculty and staff at the school I now belong to.
It's going to be a great move forward.

And look who has been helping me sort and organize my things once the boxes were opened:
Just my very favorite small person in all of the world!

Books I Read this Week:

Nathan Hale's Hazardous Tales: Treaties, Trenches, Mud, and Blood by Nathan Hale
Amulet Books, 2014
Historical Fiction/Graphic Novel
128 pages
Recommended for grades 5-8

This time Hale takes on the ambitious task of putting WWI into a short, understandable, graphic novel.  The who, what, where and whys are not easy to keep straight with no background knowledge, so Hale decided to represent each involved country with a different animal.  If you can remember that Russia are the bears-or was that Germany-then you are all set!  I've got to admit, I found this installment tougher than the previous three, but that could be due to the fact that I was reading it at all hours of the night while feeding the baby.
Even so, I love this series, and think it is a must for classroom libraries 4th grade and up.

Half a Chance by Cynthia Lord
Scholastic, 2014
Realistic Fiction
224 pages
Recommended for grades 3-6

If you've read Cynthia Lord's work then you know she has a knack for writing touching, realistic stories with a timeless feel.  Set in New Hampshire, Lucy is relocating yet again with her parents.  When she befriends a neighbor and his family, Lucy finds herself having a wonderful summer learning about loons and honing her photography skills with Nate.  Lord decides to include a character with onsetting dementia, and I think she handled that character well.  Dementia is an awful thing that many of us are familiar with.  For a child the idea of a beloved grandparent no longer acting like them-self is scary.  Nate and Lucy can help young readers understand this better, and will perhaps open avenues of conversation around this topic within families. 

Josephine: The Dazzling Life of Josephine Baker by Patricia Hruby Powell
illustrated by Christian Robinson
Chronicle Books, 2014
Biography
104 pages
Recommended for grades 4+

Do you know who Josephine Baker was?  Well, good for you, aren't you clever!  In reading this book I was introduced to her, so her story was new to me.  I adore the illustrations in this book.  Like the text, the illustrations at times are sparse, yet so alive.
Josephine's life was an amazing journey through show business and beyond, and this book left me wanting to know more.  I'm especially curious about all of her adopted children.  What became of them, her Rainbow Tribe?  Go pick this one up, you'll enjoy it.

I'm Currently Reading:


On Deck:


Thanks for stopping by!  Have a wonderful reading week!






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18. Mix it Up! And let the wonder in

When M was about 9 months old she was sat in a bath and became transfixed by the steady trickle of water coming from the tap. Time and time again she tried to grab the stream of water and was utterly puzzled: Why wasn’t it possible to hold onto the solid-appearing rod of glinting water? I had a moment of delight and clarity as I watched M explore this ‘illusion’. As an adult I of course know a liquid cannot be held onto like a solid can, but when and how had I learned this? Here were M learning it right in front of my eyes and it felt like a moment of brilliant revelation, an instant when one of the secrets of how the world works was revealed.

mix-it-up_9781452137353_350Hervé Tullet‘s Mix it Up! allows us all to experience the same thrill of discovery, the buzz that comes from a lightbulb moment; it takes us back to the very bare bones of colour theory and shows us magic at our own fingertips. That mixing yellow and blue should give us a total different colour… well that’s pretty cool if you think about it.

Listeners and readers are invited into a wide open, imaginative space where their physical interaction with the book (tipping it, tapping it, slamming it shut) has the power to transform the pages. On one level we know it is an illusion, but the way the book addresses us directly and apparently responds to our commands instils a thrilling sense of both powerfulness and playfulness.

mixitup1

This books shows paint as your friend and as such is a fabulous doorway into the world of art.

This book makes scientists of its readers and listeners, asking the to predict what is going to happen and then making it so.

Mix it Up!‘s simplicity is deceptive and will be enjoyed by older children and playful adults, even if they’ve long since learned all they technically need to know about primary and secondary colours. A worthy follow-up to Press Here, this unadorned, uncomplicated book will cast a spell over you and allow you to see again some of the wonder around you.

Inspired by the page in Tullet’s book which shows a hand amongst paint-covered fingerprints we draw around our hands and cut out hand templates. These we temporarily stuck to a sheet of card (using masking tape).

mixitup2

Next we went wild with finger painting, starting with three bowls of primary colours (soaked into sponges so that the paint stuck to our fingers more evenly)…

mixitup3

…before mixing the primary colours to make secondary colours.

mixitup4

mixitup5

When the paper was full of prints I then carefully removed the hand templates to leave white shadows.

mixitup7

We used the now-covered-in-fingerprints hand templates to stick on a second sheet of white paper, creating an “opposite” image to the hand shadows.
mixitup8

Both are now up on the walls in the girls’ room. I think they make very effective pieces of art but perhaps more importantly, the process was hugely enjoyable.

mixitup9

Whilst we painted we listened to:

  • Mix It Up by The Marvelettes
  • This Too Shall Pass by OK Go – for the playfulness and final scenes with paint I think Tullet would approve of.
  • Mixing Up by Yo Gabba Gabba!

  • Other activities which would go well with reading Mix it Up! include:

  • Using sweet wrappers to change the way you view the world (and learn about mixing colours as you go) – using this tutorial from Mylittle3andme.
  • Adding shaving foam into the mix to give mixing colours a different sensory slant – using this tutorial from Nurture Store.
  • Combining science and colour mixing, by getting coloured water to move from two cups to third, all by itself – using this tutorial on All for Kids.

  • What do you take for granted but have recently see with new eyes?

    Disclosure: A free review copy of Mix it Up! was sent to me by the publishers.

    1 Comments on Mix it Up! And let the wonder in, last added: 8/31/2014
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    19. Ian McEwan profile

           In The Observer Robert McCrum profiles, at some length Ian McEwan: 'I'm only 66 -- my notebook is still full of ideas' -- mainly, of course, about his new work, The Children Act.
           Quite a few interesting titbits -- including:

    McEwan has just sold his manuscripts to the Harry Ransom Center in Austin, Texas. "Bundling up my papers," he says, "has been another ageing thing." The library, conventionally a sanctuary, has become a sobering transit-lounge. At once dry and droll, he describes it as "the antechamber to death".
           (I wonder whether they'll use that as a new logo in Austin .....)
           Perhaps surprising, the admission: "I haven't written a short story since 1976"

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    20. Best Books of August 2014

    This month, I read 14 books and scripts. I also wrote roughly 130 pages of new material, most of which was written longhand with pen and paper before I typed and revised everything multiple times. (Many thanks to my beta readers and personal cheerleaders, notably AD, E, K, and C.)

    Before my fingers cramp up again, let me point to you to some interviews I did this month, all with authors who are celebrating the release of their new books:

    Jen Wang, who collaborated with Cory Doctorow on In Real Life; Kelly Jensen, blogger and author of It Happens; Julie Danielson and Betsy Bird, two of the three minds who created Wild Things! Acts of Mischief in Children's Literature; and Micol Ostow, who is scaring up audiences with Amity.

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    21. Metamorphosis


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    22. Our Lady of the Nile review

           The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Rwandan-French author Scholastique Mukasonga's prix Renaudot-winning (2012) novel, Our Lady of the Nile, now available in English from Archipelago Books.

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    23. War Stories anthology (link)

    From Apex Publications:

    "Reviews for our latest anthology, War Stories: New Military Science Fiction edited by Jaym Gates and Andrew Liptak are starting to roll in and they are good!

    Nathan from Fantasy Review Barn says, "This truly was a collection after my heart, full of stories about futuristic war and all of its ramifications."

    James from Themself says, "I’ll be nominating this for next year’s Hugos.""

    Apex link: http://www.apexbookcompany.com/products/war-stories-new-military-science-fiction-ebook

    Btw, other good military anthologies include War of the Worlds: Global Dispatches, the Man-Kzin Wars series, and the Bolos sereis.

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    24. WANTED: ONE TECHNICAL GEEK by Penny Dolan



    It’s the start of the new academic year. 
    It's a time for change. 

    September is the month when lots of teenagers in the UK move on, leaving home for college or gap years or other adventures.

    The growing-up may have felt, at times, like very long years, so rejoice now that change has arrived at last

     
    Rejoice, for a moment, in what you’re losing.   All those late arrivals and sudden slam-door exits, the too-much too-loud music or grunts-plus-earphones; the washing machine full of dirty clothes; the presence of unknown bodies sleeping on living room floors and sofas; the big screens and small screens constantly flickering with fascinating stuff, and more.

    Aha! Soon you’ll be nostalgic for bathrooms stacked with more grooming products than can be daubed on one person in a lifetime, Even so, it will also feel very good to reclaim some of the space that you knew was once there. 

    However, before it’s too late, be aware of what you will be losing too. Especially  if you’re a freelance loner working from home. The person who is probably your most valuable technical resource is leaving. Not only will all that precious and vital energy disappear - and no, I'm not joking! - but so will all their random knowledge, skills and fluency with all things technical. 


    From the moment that door closes, you will be relying on your own knowledge - and how does that stand up right now, all by itself? 

    I have no precious teen tech around right now. I have no handy geek or wizard who can help me with the latest social media trends, no person who can explain how to do the things I want to do, or the thing I don't know I should know about.


    I don’t sit there bleating (even if this post may seem so.)
    I ask, I enquire, I go to the on-line videos and follow the simple steps. I google for answers, try things out and solve problems.  


    But, but, but . . . so often I find a gap where an essential bit of information should be.




    Yes, the screen can show me “this” but what about the “that” that goes with it? The missing link that takes such hours to discover, the reason behind x or y? I 'd really like to borrow a socialised techno-wise human being for a week or three, please. Aaagh!


    Maybe you are lucky? Maybe you are young yourself or you work outside home and have easy access, not only to training but to the casual wisdom of facts being passed on and gadgets explained.

    If not, be warned.
    If you work at your writing at home, alone, from now on you’ll be battling with new media and new work at the same time, and there's not many hours to go round.  

    Be nice to your nerds while you’ve got them. Today is the first of September. You’ve got about two weeks to download all they know.


    Penny Dolan

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    25. #647 – The Guardian Herd #1: Starfire by Jennifer Lynn Alvarez

    guardian herd 1 starfire

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    The Guardian Herd #1: Starfire

    Written by Jennifer Lynn Alvareztop-10-use-eb-trans
    Harper/HarperCollins Children’s Books      9/23/2014
    978-0-06-228606-2
    Age 8 to 12              272 pages
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    “Once every hundred years, a black foal is born, prophesied to either unite or destroy the five herds of flying horses that live in the land of Anok. He is fated to become the most powerful Pegasus in all of Anok. Star is this black foal. Even though Star has malformed wings that make him unable to fly, the leaders of each herd will take no risks and want to execute Star before his first birthday. With the help of his friends, Star must escape the clutches of the powerful leaders. His epic journey of self-discovery turns into a battle between good and evil that will keep readers eagerly turning the pages.”

    Opening

    “Star trotted through the dense pine forest, alone.”

    The Story

    The Pegasi of Anok (mythical winged horses), consists of five herds each with their own leader—the over-stallions—and their own land. None crosses the borders without permission. Wars have been raging between these herds for hundreds of years. Star is a black foal born into the Sun Herd, led by Thunderwing. When Star’s mother died birthing Star, Thunderwing’s mate adopted him, much against her mate’s wishes.

    Star, a black foal, was born under the Hundred Year Star. If he can remain alive until his first birthday, he will receive the star’s power, and then become either a destroyer or a healer. No one knows which he will become, not even Star, and this terrifies the over-stallions of each herd. The last black foal born under this star all thought would be a healer. He was a good weanling, but when he received the power, he became a destroyer and wrecked havoc in all the land of Anok. It is up to the over-stallion of the guardian herd—Thunderwing—to kill the black foal before his first birthday, or to let him live and receive his ultimate power. Thunderwing is as scared as the others are and plans to execute Star before his first birthday.

    Only Star’s three friends and his adopted mother believe Star will be a healer and seek to keep Star alive so he can receive the power of the Hundred Year Star. The other weanlings (those under one-year of age) bully Star and his three friends, mainly because he cannot fly. He does not fit into his wings, and must walk every like a common horse—a terrible insult to a Pegasus.

    One particular weanling has it in for Star and tries to kill him. But in doing so, he crosses into another herd’s land, starting a war. Between this new war and the majority of pegasi wanting him executed, Star knows he must be on his own. Can Star survive without his friends, tend to his own food and water, and remain hidden from all other pegasi? Whether or not Star can survive on his own will greatly determine his future. With five herds looking for him, Star’s odds of survival are slim.

    Review

    The Guardian Herd has every element a kid wants in an adventure. The author has created an imaginative, highly stylized world kids will appreciate. There are great characters that are easy to understand and like, even the terrifying bully Brackentail. This adventure has tons of action, some with violence. The violence is not bad until the final battle, making this book more appropriate for middle graders on the older end of their age-range.

    There are many characters is The Guardian Herd. So many that the author starts with five pages of descriptions so kids know the herds and the pegasi in each herd. I found this section a tad overwhelming and skipped it altogether. I had no trouble remembering who was who and where they belonged. The only thing this list does, in my opinion, is make the story seem cumbersome and it might scare off a reader or two. I would drop it or place it at the end of the story.

    Star is a wonderful character. Despite his worthless wings and inability to fly, Star has a warm personality, respects and honors his friends and adopted mare, and is braver than one would think given his situation and fate. Star is a character whose side you will quickly take up. When off on his own, Star’s humor—or the author’s humorous writing—had me in stitches. I loved his friend Crabwing and the things they did in and around the bay.

    Granted, there is a huge war near the end of the story and the violence can be just shy of young adult territory, but I do not think it will give any kid nightmares, especially when the scenes that follow these battles are as strong and easy to envision. Once these scenes begin, the war becomes a distant memory. I think these final scenes will override any violent scenes a kid may linger on. The ending is extremely well written and strong. It was nothing as I imagined it might be. I cannot explain any further without spoilers, so this will have to do: the ending is fantastic. If the author does not hurry up and finish the next book, I may start stalking her blog.

    The Guardian Herd may not be a New York Bestseller, yet, but it will entertain, and possibly teach your child a few things about friendship, respect, and loyalty. If not, they will still be completely engrossed for a few hours with an imaginative world that actually resembles our own world in many ways. I highly recommend this series for kids age 10 and up. Adults who love fantasy adventures will also enjoy The Guardian Herd #1: Starfire. This is Jennifer’s debut novel with HarperCollins—her first traditionally published book!

    THE GUARDIAN HERD #1: STARFIRE. Text copyright © 2014 by Jennifer Lynn Alvarez. Advanced Readers Copy received from the publisher, HarperCollins Children’s Books, New York, NY.

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    Get your copy of The Guardian Herd: Starfire at AmazonB&NBook DepositoryHarperCollinsyour favorite book store.

    Learn more about The Guardian Herd: Starfire HERE

    **Also Available in Audio

    Meet the author, Jennifer Lynn Alvarez, at her website:    http://www.jenniferlynnalvarez.com/

    Find more exciting stories at the HarperCollins website:    http://www.harpercollins.com/

    HarperCollins Children’s Books is an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.

    Here is a twelve-year-old kid’s view of The Guardian Herd #1:  Starfire. Read Erik’s review HERE

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    Also by Jennifer Lynn Alvarez

    The Pet Washer

    The Pet Washer

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    Reviewed HERE

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    guardian herd starfire

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    Copyright © 2014 by Sue Morris/Kid Lit Reviews


    Filed under: 6 Stars TOP BOOK, Debut Author, Favorites, Library Donated Books, Middle Grade, Series, Top 10 of 2014 Tagged: children's book reviews, Guardian Herd, HarperCollins Children’s Books, HarperCollins Publishers, Hundred Year Star, Jennifer Lynn Alvarez, Land of Anok, middle grade novel, Pegasus, Starfire

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