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Results 901 - 925 of 596,117
901. Bluebird Explorer – Drawing A Day

Character Design for a jungle explorer.  Used the brush that I made and am learning how to control it so much better. Opacity adjustment helps me to make the under-drawing so much easier. I wanted to celebrate entering the 2nd half of this process by giving thanks for what I’ve learned.  I am beginning to […]

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902. Of Monsters and Madness, by Jessica Verday | Book Giveaway

Enter to win a copy of Of Monsters and Madness, by Jessica Verday. Giveaway begins September 13, 2014, at 12:01 A.M. PST and ends October 12, 2014, at 11:59 P.M. PST.

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903. How a YA Author Pays Homage to Famous American Authors

Washington Irving, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and now Edgar Allan Poe. Paying homage to famous American authors has sort of become what I do.

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904. Book Review-Adaptation by Malinda Lo

Title: Adaptation
 Author: Malinda Lo
Series:   Adaptation #1
Published:  April 3 2014 by Hodder
Length: 432 pages
Source: publisher
Other info: Malinda Lo has also written Huntress, Ash (review here), and Inheritance.
Summary: Flocks of birds are hurling themselves at aeroplanes across America. Thousands of people die. Millions are stranded. Everyone knows the world will never be the same.
On Reese's long drive home, along a stretch of empty highway at night, a bird flies into their headlights. The car flips over. When they wake up in a military hospital, the doctor won't tell them what happened.
For Reese, though, this is just the start. She can't remember anything from the time between her accident and the day she woke up almost a month later. She only knows one thing: she's different now. Torn between longtime crush David and new girl Amber, the real question is: who can she trust?

Review: It all starts when  Reese Holloway is waiting for a plane back from debating and  birds fall out of the sky. Stranded, she and the debate team decide to head home in a rented car, and things change even more. With no idea of the events after a crash, nor the later happenings or procedures, Reese finds some anwers that will change her life, and humanity, forever.
Huntress, I didn't enjoy especially, but Ash was one of my favourite books due to the writing style and the new take on an old story. Adaptation leaves the fantasy route and goes down the scifi men-in-black route, and it does this really well.
I love the characters. Amber's probably my favourite, because she's adorable and funny and I fell in love with her. I also liked that you had to constantly question her and her loyalties. David- CHINESE MC HECK YEAH (I get excited by chinese main characters) was also really adorable and smart. Reese isn't one of my favourite characters, she seemed a bit ordinary compared to a cast full of scientists and government agents and conspiracy theory website runners and things which I want to say but that's kind of spoilery, but I did like the fact that she constantly questioned things. Oh, and love to Reese's mum. See the lawyering badass love for her daughter and reaction to her coming out as bisexual. 
Nowhere in this book is a good place to stop reading-most certainly not the end.. Every point in Adaptation was either too intriguing or too exciting or too adorable to let you even think about putting it down, and I've had the must-never-stop-reading-this-feeling for very few books before.

Overall:  Strength 5 tea to a book I recommend to everyone, especially mystery, scifi, thriller, romance fans.

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905. Once upon a time... the end

In my past life, as a teacher, one of my most disliked tasks was marking. Not because I didn’t like reading my pupils’ work (though I often didn’t), but because having to assess a piece of writing against a set of increasingly arbitrary assessment objectives sometimes made me think it was all about jumping through hoops rather than the actual rules of good writing.

When I sat down a few weeks ago to judge a short story competition, I delighted in the fact that this time I was setting my own objectives, and they were pretty simple. Does this story work? Does it draw me in and keep me hooked? Do I feel confident in this writer’s hands?

I’ve won quite a few short story competitions, and it was flattering to be asked to judge this one. It was a fairly small, but very professionally-run competition, organised by a magazine. The magazine is Northern-Ireland-based, as am I, but attracted entries from all over the UK. The stories had been pre-shortlisted and were judged anonymously. Not knowing anything about a writer really makes you focus on what’s important in the story.


I’ve often read judges’ reports on competitions which say that the winner announced itself in the first few sentences, and I know agents and publishers often say that they can tell almost at once if a book is going to impress. This wasn’t my experience. Instead, though I found it easy to choose the winning story, several stories promised a great deal in the first paragraph, only to disappoint as the story went on. Some writers had put so much emphasis on that all-important hooking of the reader that they forgot to reel her in, and she was left dangling.

Several of the stories contained fantastic writing – really imaginative use of language. Heart-stopping moments. Intense character identification. Yet none of these stories was placed. Why? Because great use of language isn’t enough – a story has a job to do, and if it doesn’t do that, if it doesn’t take a character from A to B, it doesn’t matter how delightful its metaphors are. 


I write young adult fiction, and it’s normally a 70,000 word novel as opposed to a 2,000 word story. Yet I found the experience of assessing these stories really helped me to look dispassionately at my own work. Young adults, like short story judges, are hard to please. They aren’t fooled by metaphor-fur-coat and no story-knickers. They won’t keep going if a story doesn’t live up to early promise.


I enjoyed assessing these stories, and I’m looking forward to meeting the winners at the ceremony in November. But even more, I enjoyed being reminded of the nuts and bolts of good story-telling, and I hope my own readers stand to benefit from that.

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906. Interview with Susanne Bellamy, Author of Engaging the Enemy

 

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Good morning, Susanne!  Describe yourself in five words or less.

[Susanne Bellamy]  Technogumby, avid reader, wife and mother, traveller (not tourist).

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about Engaging the Enemy?

[Susanne Bellamy]  The idea came during a tram ride along Melbourne’s Swansdown Street. I spotted an abandoned red-brick building that piqued my interest and suddenly the story outline and characters were there! I loved the heritage aspect and these characters felt so real and right in the Melbourne setting.

Blurb: One building, two would-be owners and a family feud that spans several generations.

Andrea de Villiers couldn’t lie to save herself. But when developer, Matt Mahoney, buys the building that is home to the safe house she and a friend have established in the Melbourne CBD, she decides that protecting The Shelter is more important than her aching heart. Mahoney blackmails her into becoming his fake fiancée but she discovers his reasons throw up more questions than they answer. Pity there isn’t an app for her love life since her landlord and fake lover really seems to bring out the worst in her and make her want things she shouldn’t.

How can Andie protect the building and the families depending on her without losing her heart to the charming Irish developer?

[Manga Maniac Cafe]  Can you share your favorite scene?

[Susanne Bellamy]  Meetings are often the first thing I ‘see’. They reveal much about the protagonists and the course their relationship will take. This is Andie and Matt’s first meeting!

Andrea de Villiers couldn’t have orchestrated the accident better if she’d planned for a year instead of just one night.

Cocktails and hors d’oeuvres were almost finished as she edged closer to the group of Melbourne’s wealthy charity patrons and supporters and lined up her tray of drinks with Matt Mahoney’s chest.

One second to launch.

She took a deep, steadying breath and stepped forward.

His blonde companion’s arms drew a giant circle in the air, collided with the edge of her tray and Mr. Mahoney, corporate developer and all round jerk, was instantly wearing expensive champagne as an accessory to his Armani dinner jacket.

Round one to Andie.

Served him right for refusing to meet her. He brushed futilely at his shiny lapels and a thrill raced through her.

I did it.

Andie-never-puts-a-foot-wrong-de Villiers had done the unthinkable. If only she could tell him who she was, her triumph would have been complete.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What did you enjoy most about writing this book?

[Susanne Bellamy]  Matt’s Irish charm and Andie’s dogged determination to do what was best for The Shelter. These two characters and the city of Melbourne made the story for me. When I found a picture of Patrick Dempsey, I couldn’t believe it; he IS Matt!

Also, I could easily justify another visit to Melbourne to visit my daughter so I could ‘check my settings’!

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What’s one thing you won’t leave home without?

[Susanne Bellamy]  My Kindle. If I have to wait anywhere, it’s no longer a pain but a pleasure. Of course, it helps if I also remember my glasses. Somehow, reading a few words per ‘page’ without them just isn’t the same.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Name three things on your desk right now.

[Susanne Bellamy]  Cuppa (tea or coffee depending on the time of day), calendar for planning edits, blog visits etc, and my Mac.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What’s your favorite snack when you’re working on a deadline?

[Susanne Bellamy]  Red Rock salt and vinegar chips.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If you could trade places with anyone for just one day, who would you be?

[Susanne Bellamy]  Bill or Melinda Gates. I’m in awe of the work they do and the positive changes made to so many lives through their foundation.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] You have been granted the use of one superpower for one week.  Which power would you choose, and what would you do with it?

[Susanne Bellamy]  Teleportation (and the ability to continue breathing in all environments – hope that’s not greedy!) I would love to orbit Earth, land on the Moon, zip between countries and see the Great Barrier Reef. Given the vast distances and short time frame allowed, teleportation is the only option!

It would also allow me to see Earth from space, very useful for my Christmas novella which begins on the Bluefire space ship. Check back in late November on my website for details of this free gift!

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What are some books that you enjoyed recently?

[Susanne Bellamy]  Anna Sugden – ‘A Perfect Distraction’ (in French; Le Feu sous la Glace); Annie West – ‘Le Captiv sur contrat’; Rachel Bailey – ‘The Nanny Proposition’; Noelle Clark – ‘Rosamanti’; Elizabeth Wein – ‘Code Name: Verity’; Incy Black – ‘Hard to Hold’; Hannah Kent – ‘Burial Rites’

I read many books in a wide range of genres although recently I have been focussed on romance, suspense and historical romances and I’ve challenged myself to polish my French language by reading a couple of wonderful authors’ works in translation. And I just discovered I’ve completed my Goodreads challenge in seven months! Bonus!

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How can readers connect with you?

[Susanne Bellamy]  I love to hear from readers and welcome interaction. You can find me at the following:

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/susanne.bellamy.7

Twitter https://twitter.com/SusanneBellamy

Website http://www.susannebellamy.com/

Pinterest http://www.pinterest.com/susannebellamy/

Goodreads https://www.goodreads.com/author/dashboard

One building, two would-be owners and a family feud that spans several generations: all relationships have their problems.

Andrea de Villiers can’t lie to save herself. But when developer, Matt Mahoney, buys the building she and a friend have established as a safe house in the Melbourne CBD, she decides that protecting The Shelter is more important than her aching heart. She will confront Mr Mahoney, and she will emerge victorious. There are no other options.

But Matt has other plans for Andie, and she soon finds herself ensnared in a web of well-meaning lies and benevolent deceit. To protect the building and the families that depend on her, Andie agrees to play the part of Matt’s fiancée, and play it convincingly.

But lies soon bleed into truth, and what was once a deception starts to feel all too real. Can Andie accomplish her goals and protect The Shelter, without losing her heart to the charming Irish developer?

The post Interview with Susanne Bellamy, Author of Engaging the Enemy appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.

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907. The Meteor Hunt review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Jules Verne's The Meteor Hunt, the University of Nebraska Press 2006 edition that restored the text to Verne's original (more or less), as opposed to the widely circulated Michel Verne-edited/manhandled version.

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908. Getting up Early to Visit Woodhouse West Primary School


I've had a lot of sleep to catch up on, after my adventures in Brazil, not just from the looooooooonnnng journey home (3 different planes, 2 cabs and a train to get back), but from all the late nights while I was there (one night we didn't stop dancing until 4.30am - yahoo!). 

So, it was a bit of a struggle to get up at 6.15 on Monday morning, to get myself to a primary school. Although Woodhouse West is a Sheffield school, I needed to be there early, to set up for a pre-school book-signing session in the library. Before the children arrived, the Y1 teacher told me that they had been working from my website and had all done a portrait of me. Here are a couple of my favourites:


What do you think? Should I be worried? 

I had a lovely time, working with the two Y1 classes, reading Bears on the StairsClass Two at the Zoo and Class Three all at Sea - all books written by my friend, the lovely Julia Jarman. 

We were rather silly (I do enjoy reverting to being a child during these session with littlies). I did my Bear on the Stair poem and gave out badges to the best burpers and growlers in each group. Then we designed monsters. I had a new idea at the end. I got them to think about what kind of noise their monster might make. Then we formed a circle, facing in and holding up the monster drawings so everyone could see and, on the count of 3, made our noise - hilarious!

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909. More Doctor Who companions (link)

From Tor.com: Five Underrated Doctor Who Companions (And One Scoundrel)

I love Wilf, Donna Noble's grandfather; he added a lot to the stories.  And I liked Jackson Lake and his companion, Rosita.

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910. AKO Literatuurprijs longlist

       They've announced the 25-title strong longlist for the AKO Literatuurprijs, one of the leading Dutch literary prizes.
       Among the books in the running: ones by authors with (other) titles under review at the complete review: Maarten Asscher (2 titles, including Julia en het balkon), Arnon Grunberg (11 titles, including Tirza), and Peter Terrin (The Guard).
       At NRC Boeken they have short quotes from their (Dutch) coverage of each longlisted title, in Wat schreef NRC over de genomineerden ?
       And the only title I see coming that will be available in English soon is the Maarten Asscher, from new publisher Four Winds Press, Apples & Oranges; see their publicity page, or get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.

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911. Press Release Fun: A $5,000 Award for School Libraries

A message for school librarians: ALA is now accepting applications for the 2015 Sara Jaffarian Award. The award recognizes K-8 schools for exceptional programming in social studies, poetry, drama, art, language arts, culture, or other humanities subjects.

Apply by Dec. 15 at www.ala.org/jaffarianaward. More information below.

Please let me know if you have any questions.

Sarah Ostman

Communications Manager

ALA Public Programs Office

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

http://www.ala.org/news/press-releases/2014/09/school-librarians-invited-apply-5000-humanities-programming-prize

CHICAGO — The American Library Association (ALA) Public Programs Office is now accepting nominations for the 2015 Sara Jaffarian School Library Program Award for Exemplary Humanities Programming.

School libraries, public or private, that served children in grades K-8 and conducted humanities programs during the 2013-14 school year are eligible. The winning library will receive $5,000.

Applications, award guidelines and a list of previous winners are available at www.ala.org/jaffarianaward. Nominations must be received by Dec. 15, 2014. School librarians are encouraged to self-nominate.

Applicant libraries must have conducted a humanities program or program series during the prior school year (2013-14). The humanities program can be focused in many subject areas, including social studies, poetry, drama, art, music, language arts, foreign language and culture. Programs should focus on broadening perspectives and helping students understand the wider world and their place in it. They should be initiated and coordinated by the school librarian and exemplify the role of the library program in advancing the overall educational goals of the school.

Named after the late Sara Jaffarian, a school librarian and longtime ALA member, ALA’s Jaffarian Award was established in 2006 to recognize and promote excellence in humanities programming in elementary and middle school libraries. It is presented annually by the ALA Public Programs Office in cooperation with the American Association of School Librarians (AASL). The award is selected annually by a committee comprising members of the ALA Public and Cultural Programs Advisory Committee (PCPAC), AASL and the Association for Library Services to Children (ALSC).

Funding for the Jaffarian Award is provided by ALA’s Cultural Communities Fund (CCF). In 2003, a challenge grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities kick-started a campaign to secure the future of libraries as cultural destinations within the community. Since then, CCF has grown to more than $1.7 million, serving libraries as they serve their communities through the highest quality arts and humanities programs. To contribute to CCF, visit www.ala.org/ccf.

About the ALA Public Programs Office

ALA’s Public Programs Office provides leadership, resources, training and networking opportunities that help thousands of librarians nationwide develop and host cultural programs for adult, young adult and family audiences. The mission of the ALA Public Programs Office is to promote cultural programming as an essential part of library service in all types of libraries. Projects include book and film discussion series, literary and cultural programs featuring authors and artists, professional development opportunities and traveling exhibitions. School, public, academic and special libraries nationwide benefit from the office’s programming initiatives.

About the American Association of School Librarians

The American Association of School Librarians, www.aasl.org, a division of the American Library Association (ALA), empowers leaders to transform teaching and learning.

About the American Library Association

The American Library Association is the oldest and largest library association in the world, with approximately 57,000 members in academic, public, school, government and special libraries. The mission of the American Library Association is to provide leadership for the development, promotion and improvement of library and information services and the profession of librarianship in order to enhance learning and ensure access to information for all.

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912. #659 – Fat and Bones and other stories by Larissa Theule & Adam S. Doyle

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Fat & Bones: And Other Stories

Written by Larissa Theule
Illustrations by Adam S. Doyle
Carolrhoda Books            10/01/2014
978-1-4677-0825
Age 8 to 12           104 pages
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“Welcome to Bald’s Farm. Well, perhaps it’s not Bald’s Farm anymore. The old man has kicked the bucket, setting off a wave of conflict from the muddy pig pen to the tall wheat fields. In this darkly funny, slightly supernatural chain of tales, no creature is safe. Not Leonard Grey, a spider with sophisticated tastes. Not Esmeralda, a resentful one-footed pig. Not Tulip, a plant with a mean streak. And as for Bones, the old man’s son, and Fat, his winged rival? They’ll learn that danger lurks in the strangest of places . . .”

Opening

“Fat stood on the topmost branch of the tree, gazing in the direction of the farmhouse.”

The Story

Bones is the son of his father, the farm owner, who has most recently passed away. Fat is the former farmer’s fairy. They hate each other with a passion usually reserved for love. Now that Bone’s father has died, Bones will run the farm and his first priority: get rid of excess Fat.

In the span of one day, Bones tries to take out Fat, who tries to take out Bones. The pigs must move around on less and less feet to supply Bones with his favorite meal of pig foot stew. Pa may be dead, but Bones is still hungry. Ma, who is crying herself blind ventures out to the pigpen to grab a foot. Which one does she get?

Leonard’s family thinks he is the strangest spider that has ever spun a web. He cannot sneak and lives alone. He reads poetry while drinking herbal tea. Down below, Fat is making a new potion and needs the fresh blood of a spider. Leonard picks this moment to prove he can sneak. He cannot.

The Dead Man Song is for Priscilla Mae, the escaped spider for which Leonard has found love. She sees a group of animals honoring the dead farmer’s passing. Jimmy’s in Love pits mouse against mouse for the love of a mouse across the kitchen floor. Cat lurks on the floor, waiting for a wandering mouse. Sometimes he greets the mouse.

“Good afternoon, mousie-pie.”

Sometimes he pounces. Occasionally, that tricky cat does both. A mouse just never knows. Jimmy decides to take a chance but the floor is full of water—salty, tear stained water. Daisy and Tulip are the best of friends, sharing a puddle. All is well, until little sprouts move in and choke the water supply. Daisy and Tulip argue over how to get the sprouts to leave. The differences could mean the end of Tulip or Daisy.

Finally, Dog Alfred visits his Ma. Ma wants Alfred to go home. Alfred is sneezing. He has a cold. Alfred is upset, (and sets up Ma to speak a line of funny I love)

“Ma,” he said, [pleading voice] “I came all this way. I can’t go home now.”
“You live next door,” she said.

Fat & Bones: And Other Stories

Review

Fat & Bones: And Other Stories is a fast read with only 104 pages. On those 104 pages, every word counts thanks to wonderful writing and editing. Each story has something to teach kids. In Leonard Grey III, Leonard learns it is okay to be yourself and love is better than alone. Fat feels morally obligated to care for his neighbors, even when he is the one who injured said neighbor. Be nice to others; get to know your neighbors; be responsible for each other. Esmeralda must decide which is more important, her jealousy and “revenge” or the good of the group. Fat and Bones is philosophy 101 for the middle grades.

I am not a fan of the cover. The moon grinning as it does is eerie, but that is the intent. The illustrations use dark tones of green, grey, and black. The image is often part of the shadow or obscured by it. I am sorry to say, I am not a fan of these illustrations. I love the individual stories. I enjoyed the way one story depends on the other. What happens in one story—or does not happen—affects another story, which affects another, and so on, yet none may be the wiser. Fat & Bones: And Other Stories play this out for kids in a way they can understand.

Humor plays a big part, easing what are actually dark themes of death, jealousy, war, and dejection into an enjoyable, funny story, odd as that may sound. Some kids may not like the darker, philosophical themes, while others will love them. I think the older the child, the more they will enjoy Fat and Bones.

These Seven stories, all intertwined, are a great read. Each story has a unique mix of characters from the Bald Farm. Each has their own plot, conflict, and resolution, yet the stories build on each other, need each other to live. There are many things kids can learn from these stories while reading a funny, heart-felt whole divided into parts that seem to stand on their own—because they do. Older kids will enjoy this book. Adults will enjoy this book. Fat & Bones: And Other Stories is the author’s debut.

FAT AND BONES AND OTHER STORIES. Test copyright © 2014 by Larissa Theule. Illustrations copyright © 2014 by Adam S. Doyle. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Carolrhoda Books, Minneapolis, MN.
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Purchase Fat and Bones at AmazonB&NBook DepositoryLerner Booksyour favorite bookstore.
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Learn more about Fat & Bones: And Other Stories HERE
Meet the author, Larissa Theule, at her twitter page:    https://twitter.com/larissatheule
Meet the illustrator, Adam S. Doyle, at his website:    http://adamsdoyle.com
Find other middle grade novels at the Carolrhoda Books blog:   http://www.carolrhoda.blogspot.com/

Carolrhoda Books is a division of Lerner Publishing Group.

fat and bones
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Copyright © 2014 by Sue Morris/Kid Lit Reviews


Filed under: 4stars, Debut Author, Library Donated Books, Middle Grade Tagged: Adam S. Doyle, Charolrhoda Books, children's book reviews, Debut Book, fairies, farm life, feuds, Larissa Theule, Lerner Publishing Group, middle grade novel, pig foot stew

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913. Fall Retreat - Part VI (Making Art)

Typically a great deal of art-making happens in the cabin...

 ...but after the generator went out, it got much more difficult to do - lanterns are really not as bright as lightbulbs! (What did our pioneer ancestors do in all that dim lighting...?)

So, we had to move outside and work by the light of the sun.

Luckily, the weather was lovely and cooperative!


 More plein air happened than usual. :-)

 Of course this did mean that our working time was limited...

 (I had hoped to get more painting done than I did, but ah well... I did make some good progress)

 Of course, it wasn't all work. Besides hikes, walks and mushroom hunting, there was yoga and meditation and general communing with nature...

...as well as just some much deserved chillin'!

Lovely week as always. Thanks POBL girls!

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914. Sing like nothing else matters !

When you are feeling all alone, if you just sing out loud you may be surprised how many others will join in with you …JDMn6Birds62920141


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915. Playing Man: some modern consequences of Ancient sport

Playing Man (Homo Ludens), the trail-blazing work by Johan Huizinga, took sport seriously and showed how it was essential in the formation of civilizations. Adult playtime for many pre-industrial cultures served as the crucible in which conventions and boundaries were written for a culture. Actions were censured for being “beyond the pale”, a sports metaphor for being “out of bounds”.

A quasi-sacred time and space set apart for games were a microcosm for the lives of all who played and for the spectators. Sport was a place in which individual merit was the rule and performance was regulated by the terms of the event.

The Ancient Olympic Games, an invention of the 700s BCE, preceded Athenian Democracy by about 200 years, and yet those earliest Games allowed any free citizen to participate and win the supreme Panhellenic crown. Yes, probably most of the first contenders were wealthy by token of having more leisure time to train and travel to the festival. 

Yet in the pre-democratic centuries, the sporting model showed that what counted was individual ability and acquired skill, not status by birth. So the era of rule by tyrants and elite families was balanced by models of egalitarian display in the stadium in footraces, wrestling, boxing, and other track and field events.

Chariot racing was of course still the exclusive domain of the wealthy, a vestige of heroic tradition, but the athletes contending mano a mano ushered in more meritocratic ways. The Greek custom of requiring athletes in track and field and combat events to participate in the nude underscored this democratic ethos, perhaps popularized among the communally oriented Spartans by 600 BCE, but soon adopted universally by all Greeks.

The double entendre in my title “playing man” is intentional, with allusion to the sense that sport has been for most of history and globally a performance by and for males. For the Greeks, athletics were for men only, with a few interesting exceptions, notably girls’ ritual races at Olympia to ask Hera for a happy marriage.

In the modern Olympics, there was no women’s marathon race until 1984, almost 90 years into the games. Even then, in 1984, only 25% of all Olympic participants were female; today it is still at less than half (45% in 2012). The first women boxing events came in 2012. 

A competitor in the long jump, Black-figured Tyrrhenian amphora showing athletes and a combat scene, Greek, but made for the Etruscan market, 540 BC, found near Rome, Winning at the ancient Games, British Museum. Photo by Carole Raddato. CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons.
A competitor in the long jump, Black-figured Tyrrhenian amphora showing athletes and a combat scene, Greek, but made for the Etruscan market, 540 BC, found near Rome, Winning at the ancient Games, British Museum. Photo by Carole Raddato. CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

Women’s participation in sports at all venues and events has slowly improved over the last 30 years, thanks to gender equity movements as a whole. Still, males have been the participants in and the most avid audiences for competitive sports globally throughout history.

Is it tradition and culture or nature (testosterone and men’s greater muscle bulk) that has driven this trend? Scholarly disagreement continues, but the answer must include nature and culture, with nature perhaps playing a heavier role. The attempts to bring women’s sports to the fore have largely not succeeded: world viewers, broadcasters, and corporate sponsors overwhelmingly prefer male contests.

Overt displays of machismo characterized the ancient Greek contest, or agôn, whence our term agony, the pain of struggle. Combat sports of boxing and wrestling topped the popularity charts and the rewards at the festivals that gave valuable prizes.

At the Olympics, there were no second or third place prizes; only first counted, and one boxer said “give me the wreath of give me death”. Many were brutalized or killed, as is shown on vases in which blood streams from the contestants.

The Greeks were overly familiar with violence meted out by men in war on a daily basis, and so violent sport here did not inspire violence. But the association of athletes with Homeric heroes maintained the display as acceptable and even superhuman (see the funeral games of Iliad 23).

Greek sport, then, is worthy of our attention as the model in many ways for our own very different contests. Yes, the modern Olympics appropriated the Greek ones for its own very different aims. But arguably the ‘deeper’ social inheritances from the Greek men who “played” are, on the one hand, a greater egalitarianism, and on the other a heroized violence and machismo with which we all still wrestle.

The post Playing Man: some modern consequences of Ancient sport appeared first on OUPblog.

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916. A Sly Suitor

Getting ready for Open-Studios here in Santa Cruz, I decided to try a new inking and watercolor combination.



via Studio Bowes Art Blog at http://ift.tt/1sEOid2

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917. actor John Bardon dies at the age of 75


John Bardon in EastEnders John Bardon made his first appearance as EastEnders' Jim Branning in 1996
EastEnders actor John Bardon, who played Dot Branning's husband Jim in the soap opera, has died aged 75.

The screen star suffered a debilitating stroke seven years ago and was forced to drastically reduce his appearances in the BBC One show.

June Brown, who played his on-screen wife, said; "I shall miss him very much as I loved him dearly."
Bardon's illness was reflected in the series and he was last seen on screen in May 2011.
John Bardon's real-life illness was reflected in the programme 
 
A spokeswoman for the soap said they are "absolutely heartbroken" at the news of the actor's death.
"John was an exceptionally talented actor whose humour, mischievousness and brilliant performances made Jim Branning one of Walford's most loveable, memorable characters, and we will miss John forever," she added.

Friday night's episode of the programme will be dedicated to the late actor.

Actress Natalie Cassidy, who plays his screen granddaughter Sonia, said: "I never had a real granddad so John was like an actual granddad to me. He was a lovely man and I learnt a lot from him."

Actor Jake Wood, who plays his son Max, wrote on Twitter it is "such sad news".

"I'm honoured to have known him. John was a gentleman and will be missed by all who knew him," he added.

Shane Richie - Alfie Moon in the soap - said: "Jim Branning - funny, grumpy, endearing, mischievous, massive talent, Walford will always miss you."

Former EastEnders actor Robert Kazinsky, who played Sean Slater, pointed to Bardon's performances after he fell ill.

"John showed immense courage playing Jim Branning after his stroke, he brought his own pain and reality to it and shouldn't be forgotten," he said via Twitter.

John Bardon and June Brown in EastEnders Devoted couple Jim and Dot found love late in life
John Bardon (r) in Dad's Army John Bardon (r) had a role in Dad's Army
 
Before suffering a stroke, his character was a regular fixture in the Queen Vic pub and a keen gambler, making his first appearance on the show in 1996 before becoming a regular some years later.

But Jim was devoted to God-fearing Albert Square stalwart Dot, whom he married in 2002 after proposing to her on the London Eye.

Bardon's character caused great anguish for Dot after his stroke when he required full-time care and was eventually moved to a nursing home.

Branning also had a fractious relationship with his screen son Max, who he buried alive in a coffin during his childhood.

His children Carol and Jack were also brought into EastEnders, along with other members of the Branning clan.

Bardon was born in Brentford, Middlesex in 1939 and played a number of other roles, including a racist neighbour of the Khan family in hit British film East is East.

He also appeared in numerous TV series including sitcom Birds of a Feather, Rumpole of the Bailey and had a turn in classic sitcom Dad's Army in 1975, five years after he made his screen debut. Bardon also appeared in Only Fools and Horses.

The actor also had a recurring role in ITV comedy Up The Elephant and Round The Castle, playing Jim Davidson's screen father.

He also worked on the stage in a number of productions during his career, winning an Olivier Award in 1988 for his performance in the musical Kiss Me Kate.


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918. '100 Best Novels, in Translation, Since 1900' ?

       Ah, the irresistible lure of the list -- and novels in translation since 1900 ? Sounds promising.
       It's Jeffrey St. Clair and Alexander Cockburn who offer up their personal (and ranked) 100 Best Novels, in Translation, Since 1900 at CounterPunch. A couple of odd limitations here: they: "limited each writer to one entry" (apparently because: "otherwise, novels by Georges Simenon and Roberto Bolaño might have dominated the list") -- and they each had: "unlimited preemptory challenges to be invoked against writers we hated. Thus no: Gunter Grass or Michel Houellebecq."
       There are a few slips -- misattributed languages, misspelled names ('Steig Larsson') -- and it's an odd mix of greatest-hits and very personal choices; still, one could do (much) worse.
       I've read a whole lot of these (I didn't count, but probably haven't missed more than a dozen or so) -- though most of them (classics, by and large) long before I started the site, so the number under review at the complete review is considerably smaller. Those would be:

       I still have a lot more books to read before I'd venture to list my top-100; several of these would likely make it -- and several would definitely not.

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919. Talents and Skills Thesaurus Entry: Blending In

As writers, we want to make our characters as unique and interesting as possible. One way to do this is to give your character a special skill or talent that sets him apart from other people. This might be something small, like having a green thumb or being good with animals, to a larger and more competitive talent like stock car racing or being an award-winning film producer. 

When choosing a talent or skill, think about the personality of your character, his range of experiences and who his role models might have been. Some talents might be genetically imparted while others are created through exposure (such as a character talented at fixing watches from growing up in his father’s watch shop) or grow out of interest (archery, wakeboarding, or magic). Don’t be afraid to be creative and make sure the skill or talent is something that works with the scope of the story. 

 

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Courtesy: USAG-Humphreys at Creative Commons

BLENDING IN

Description: Being able to blend in to one’s surroundings, whether it be a socialite party, a corporate event, or a busy street. People with this skill are chameleons who can fit in easily with different groups and look the part even if it’s not really them.

Beneficial Strengths or Abilities: To succeed in this area, one must have the ability to accurately read people and situations. This skill involves manipulating others to believe that one belongs, so being able to easily lie or deceive is a must. A strong memory is necessary in order to remember what has been told to whom, and quick thinking is a beneficial quality when one must react believably to suspicion or difficult questions.

Character Traits Suited for this Skill or Talent: perceptive, observant, bold, alert, charming, discreet, private, hypocritical, manipulative 

Associated Stereotypes and Perceptions: Spies, assassins, and government agents are often endowed with this skill, along with politicians and socialites who know how to work a room. Most often, this skill is embodied by those who wish to deceive—people with an agenda. But in real life, we often do this without guile simply as a way of fitting in.

Scenarios Where this Skill Might be Useful:

  • In one of the above career paths where blending in is part of the job description
  • when one needs to infiltrate different people groups in order to gain information
  • when someone is running for her life and needs to remain incognito
  • when it’s necessary to gain access to a person outside of one’s inner circle and win him over
  • in high school
  • when someone has moved to a new area and is trying to fit in and make friends
  • in a culture where one’s political or religious views are in opposition to those in charge and it is necessary to keep one’s beliefs private
  • in a situation where one wants to make a good impression

Resources for Further Information:

20 Tips on Blending in with the Locals

You can brainstorm other possible Skills and Talents your characters might have by checking out our FULL LIST of this Thesaurus Collection. And for more descriptive help for Setting, Symbolism, Character Traits, Physical Attributes, Emotions, Weather and more, check out our Thesaurus Collections page.

The post Talents and Skills Thesaurus Entry: Blending In appeared first on WRITERS HELPING WRITERS.

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920. Our climate-change numbers


e.e. cummings answered one question: "The snow doesn’t give a soft white damn whom it touches." What's unanswered is, whether those of us who are alive give enough of a damn about being "touched" by Global Warming, which lays down its "touches" in the form of extreme weather.

I inserted no pics today. It's all about numbers and begins with a simple one. 350. The best scientific estimate about preserving a planet livable for our species, and many others. 350 parts of carbon dioxide per 1,000,000 parts of gases in the atmosphere, or p.p.m. More than that is not livable, another way of saying--extinction for homo sapiens. Currently, the number hovers around 400. For maybe the 1sttime in the last 3,000,000 years.

We're not living on borrowed time; that point (350ppm) was passed in the late 1980s. Over 20 years ago. I checked today's numbers; they are at 397ppm. And will rise this year, next year, every year, the way our species and our country are headed. Unless we change the number, stop it, reverse it, permanently.

The climate is a tolerant, superior phenomenon that doesn't give a soft white damn whether it falls on Anglos, blacks, Chicanos, Hispanics, L.A., Denver or Tokyo. Even the 1% have resources to survive only a little longer than the rest of us.

Here are more numbers:
The 21st of September coming up in 8 days. The date of the People's Climate March in New York City.
50 - the number of states that will be represented at the march
http://peoplesclimate.org/march/?r=350
374 - buses and trains listed for travel to NYC for the march.
26 - city blocks the NYPD has reserved for assembling before the march
1100+ - community, labor, environmental justice, faith and progressive groups that endorsed the march [More join every day.]
28 - different religious faiths and denominations that will be represented
20 - the minimum number of marching bands expected
300+ - college campuses where students are mobilizing to go to NYC
1500 - actions planned worldwide that weekend in
130 - countries
40,000 - people at last year's Forward on Climate march in DC, the largest US climate march to date
401 parts per million - the peak concentration of carbon in the atmosphere measured by the world's leading scientists this spring
0 - the amount of progress made if everyone stayed home
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ – the number of us that will take a stand in NY and other cities.

The climate's numbers will continue rising.
More vacations will be ruined from more, severe hurricanes or snowstorms or disrupted airline flights.
More of our lawns will bake brown.
Or more trees die from excessive rainfall.
Or homes float away from flooding.
Or burn from drought and firestorms.

Obviously, all of that is less important than the number of us, our children and grandchildren who will be around to survive climate change catastrophes created by our species. A number that could go to
0.

Before that, head to NYC for the march.
If you can't get there, then to Denver.
Or to one of 2 in the L.A. area. Or find one nearest you.  
Even if you're in another country where snow never falls.
You can also send funds if you're unable to send yourself.

Es todo, hoy, except where the snow doesn't give a soft white….
RudyG, a.k.a. Rudy Ch. Garcia - 1who plans on marching and more

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921. Illustrator Saturday – Mehrdokht Amini

photoMehrdokht Amini has worked on many books for children. One of her latest picture book “Golden Domes And Silver Lanterns” in collaboration with” Hena Khan” has been highly praised and has been selected in the 2013 ALSC notable children’s booklist, which is a list of best of best in children’s book.

She lives in Surrey, England.

Below are her clients:

The British Museum Press,
Chronicle books
Random House
Stentor Publication
Harcourt Publishing
Overbrook Entertainment
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Here is Mehrdokht explaining her process:

This is the step-by-step process of one of the illustrations of the book that I have written myself. At the moment I am working on some samples of this book to take to the publishers. The book is called “The day I met Poppito.”

In this image, the main character of the book has come down for breakfast and sees that his parents are very annoyed by this news that a family of hippos have moved in next door to them. The mother is particularly not happy with the situation.

I start the project by first sketching the overall composition that I have in mind and a bit of character designing.

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 Gradually I delve into more details of the image .The character facial expressions are especially very important to convey the massage of the picture.2

 

I scan all the sketches and save the files in tiff format to make sure all the details are kept as accurately as possible for next stages. Then I start to take photos for my image based on the composition. I might not use all the photos I take but at this stage I try to gather whatever material I think might come in handy in later stages of the work.

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I might need the texture of a plastered wall.

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Or details of a room because it is an indoor image.

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After the sketches are finished and I am done with taking photos. I start working on the background of the image.

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I brush the surface of a watercolor paper with GOLDEN Molding Pastes a few times on intervals to get the desired texture and then I color the surface with Acrylics in layers. I put one layer of color, wait for it to get dry then repaint it again with another color. That’s because sometimes I scratch the surface to get to the layers underneath and have a more interesting surface.

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I take then everything to Photoshop. Here the floor needs to be change so I make another surface for it.

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I then fit it into its place in Photoshop in a separate layer. In the “Hue/Saturation” I bring down the saturation of the floor layer to zero and finally put it in the “soft light” mode so the layer beneath could be seen through.

There I arrange the sketches on the background in a different layer and change their mode on “intensity” to be able see through them. Then I start painting on them with the brush tool.

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Using my photos I work a bit more on the texture of the wall and the staircase.

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I feet the table perspective doesn’t really work this way so I change it too.

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Eventually this is how the picture looks like when finished.

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Finished image

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Book Covers

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Book covers

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How long have you been illustrating?

I went to Secondary School of Creative Arts in Iran and I remember once a teacher asked us to choose a story and make illustrations based on that. I chose “The Red Shoes” by Hans Christian Anderson and it was the first time I tried to illustrate a book. I enjoyed the process so much that I decided then that I wanted to continue my career in that direction. What I enjoyed most and continue to take pleasure in was that for a short time it gives me the opportunity to live in an imaginary world and create my own characters and scenes and share them with others.

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I see you attended Alzahra University in Tehran. How did you decide to study Graphic Design there?

After getting my Secondary school certificate in Art it was a natural thing for me to continue my higher education in the creative field. As there was no BA course available in illustration I decided to study in Graphic design. At the time it wasn’t a very well known subject to study in Iran and studying art was considered by many parents as something for the students who couldn’t do very well in scientific subjects. So I guess it was a brave act for my parents to go along with my desire to become an artist.

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What were you favorite classes?

I enjoyed life-drawing classes partly because we used to laugh a lot during that course. The thing is, in Iran a lot of restrictions are imposed on art students. As ridiculous as it might sound, in life drawing classes no nudity was allowed. So we had to sketch the models all dressed up. We had to guess what was under the folds of clothes and so occasionally our sketches looked ridiculous. I also enjoyed photography courses. It was the pre -digital era and we had to develop and print our photos in the dark room. I loved the dark room anticipation of seeing the result of the work appearing gradually on the paper and the various techniques we could do with the developing materials on the photo papers.

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Now that you live in the UK, do you think the Universities are different than the ones in Tehran?

They are totally different. Here the art students have the freedom of expressing their feeling with no boundaries whatsoever. It is an essential ingredient for an artist which some might take it for granted. Over there, there are many taboos and lines that could not be crossed.

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Did you immediately decide you wanted to get your MA in Art Research or did you get a job right out of college?

I was still in college when I got my first commission to illustrate a book. It took me some years to go back to university to get my MA and the reason I chose Art research was because I felt a lack of enough theoretical knowledge in myself.

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What types of things do you study when you go for a degree in Art Research?

I am not sure weather such a course is available here in MA degree or not. But over there it ranges from history and philosophy of art to critical thinking in art.

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What was your most interest class while going for your MA?

For me it was a course during which we did lots of discussions on contemporary theories of art. We worked mostly on “A reader’s guide to contemporary literary theory” by Raman Seldon and Peter Widdowson. There I learned for the first time about the developments of modern art theories; A fascinating subject that change my point of view not only on art but also on life itself.

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Did the School help you get work?

No, Unfortunately in Iran schools don’t feel any obligation to find work for the students.

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Do you feel the classes you took in college have influenced you style?

No, I don’t think so. They help me a lot in term of having a better critical mind as an artist and choosing my path. But thankfully the professors didn’t try to influence our style. I think it is a catastrophe when the art teachers try to impose their ideas on students. They should probably just show the ways and let them decide.

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What type of work did you do right after you graduated?

Apart from illustrating books I did occasional designing jobs here and there but I have always been freelance.

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What was the first art related work that you were paid?

The book that I did for “Khane Adabiat” publication during my BA was my first paid job.

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Do you have an agent or artist rep.? If so, who are you with? When did you join them and how did the two of you connect? If not, would you like to find representation?

Yes, I decided to find an agent for myself last year because I am not that good at representing myself.

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At the moment I am working with “The Illustrators Agency“(www.theillustratorsagency.com) based in Australia. So far we have been connected only through emails. They have managed to find me two book commissions so far from “Cengage Learning” which is a global educational publisher and I am very happy to be able to work with them.

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When and what was the first children’s book that you illustrated?

There is a very famous Iranian poet called “Ahmad Shamlou” who sadly passed away a few years ago. He has a few long poems, which in form are quite rhythmic and seem to be written for children but their contents occasionally have some political connotations.

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One day when I was still studying for my BA I decided to work on one of these poems and as it was not very long for a whole book, I came up with this idea to illustrate it in a new format. Something like a big three folded brochure. It worked and subsequently I worked on other poems of the same writer and some other famous contemporary poets in the same format.

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How did that contract come about?

I didn’t have any particular publishing house in mind at that time. The only thing I knew was that most of the publishing houses were clustered around a few avenues around Tehran University. So when I finished the draft of the work, I took in my portfolio case and started searching around in that area for a children’s book publisher. By chance I came to Khane Adabiat and the editor of the time liked the idea very much. Every thing started from there.

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Do you consider that book to be your first big success?

I do. It was vey successful and after more than fifteen years copies of it is still selling in Iran. But it is greatly due to the fact that the poet is very famous in Iran and these series of his work were only published in collections and not individually -illustrated format. The new format of the book also made it stand out in the shelves of the bookshops. But if I could illustrate them again I would totally change the illustrations!

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It looks like you did a large amount of books with Khane Adabiat Publications. Are they the big publishing house in Tehran?

At that time they weren’t huge but after some years they made a good name for themselves in children’s publishing industry in Iran.

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Have you tried to write and illustrate a children’s book, yet?

This is my ultimate goal to be able to illustrate my own stories.

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What made you move to the UK?

I guess it was destiny that brought me here!

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After ten years of publishing with Khane Adabiat Publications, you get to do a picture book with a publisher in Poland and Harcourt in the US. How did those two books contract come about?

I came to live in UK ten years ago and at first I didn’t know how to continue my career here as an freelance illustrator so I decided to learn Photoshop and Corel draw and try to find a job as a Graphic designer. It took me 6 months to learn these two software and during the process of learning them I discover how powerful they could be as a tool for making illustrations. Eventually I did a few digital pieces and decided to have a website to showcase them. These were the ones, which gained me these two commissions.

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What was it like to illustrate a picture book for the British Museum in the UK? Did they have an editor or art director?

It was a great honor for me to work with the British museum. Apparently Helen East, the author of the book “How the Olympic came to be”, had spotted my website and recommended me as the illustrator for her upcoming book with The British museum. We had a few meetings with the editor of the time and discussed the sketches together. It was a really enjoying experience.

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How did that come about?

It was a year before the London Olympics and the book was the story of Olympics through Greeks myths and legends. I was supposed to get inspiration from the objects of British museum related to the story for my pictures. It was really fun because it gave me the opportunity to study the classical period of Greek art and learn more about Greek mythology. I particularly fell in love with their ancient potteries and all the delicate silhouettes painted on them, each telling different stories about Greek heroes and villains.

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How did you hook up with Chronicle Books to illustrate GOLDEN DOMES AND SILVER LANTERNS?

They had found me through childrensillustrators.com and contacted me to see whether I was interested to work on the “Golden domes and silver lanterns”.

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How did you connect with them?

Our contact was only through emails, which at the beginning created a bit of problem. We didn’t have the chance to discuss the pictures face to face and as a result my first round of sketches was almost completely rejected. I had imagined the settings to be depicted in an ancient time, whereas the editors and writer had a clear objective to have the story portrayed in a contemporary atmosphere.

I had to redo the sketches but I think eventually we were all happy with the final result.

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Do you feel living in the UK has broaden your career as an illustrator?

Living here has lifted many obstacles in my career. I have more access to different sources of inspiration and could keep myself up to date. In Iran many Internet sites are blocked and young artist have limited way of displaying their work or connecting with the rest of the world.

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What illustrating contract do feel really pushed you down the road to a successful career?

It is not one contract that helped me in my career but the whole portfolio of my work. Each piece has it’s own importance and has pushed me a bit forward. I am not completely satisfied with my early pieces and wish I had a chance redo them again but each had its own importance in my career.

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Have you done illustrations for any children’s magazines?

When I was still in the university one of the teachers who was running a magazine for children asked me to do some illustrations for her but after that I didn’t have the chance to work for a children’s magazine any more.

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What materials do you use to paint your color illustrations?

I usually make a background with the help of GOLDEN Molding Pastes and acrylics or whatever medium I think is appropriate. Sometimes I paint straight on this background or use other surfaces for different part of the illustration, then I scan all the materials and take everything to Photoshop and continue to work on the image from there.

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What types of things do you do to find illustration work?

For some years now I have been subscribed to childrensillustrators.com and had some commissions coming from that site. Occasionally I send samples of my works to the publishers who accept unsolicited materials. Social medias is a powerful tool for getting noticed too but it is very time consuming and needs lots of dedication. Right now I am hoping that my agent will find me work so I could have more time for the creative side of work.

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What is the one thing in your studio that you could not live without?

It is my digital pen.

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Do you try to spend a specific amount of time working on your craft?

Not really. When I start to work on a piece I lose the track of time.

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Do you take pictures or do any types of research before you start a project?

Yes, I do take pictures all the time and with the help of Photoshop might use them in my illustrations too.

The research phase is the first and one of the most important parts of the work for me. It helps me to have a more accurate picture of story in my mind. For example I had a commission few years ago to do a few pieces based on a short story that was related to Hispanic culture. I had to do a long research through photos, their art, history etc… to familiarize myself with the setting in that story.

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Do you think the Internet has opened doors for you?

Most definitely. All my commissions are coming from the Internet. But the truth is that as much as Internet had made the life easier for illustrators, in my opinion, it has created the problems of its own.

The industry is really tough and the competition for getting a commission is really high.

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Occasionally I am approached by clients who ask for a great amount of work in exchange for a ridiculously low fee. I usually say no because thankfully I’ve got other means to support myself, but I am sure there are illustrators in countries hit by economy crisis who might be happy to work with that amount of money. There are also graduate students who are willing to work for low fees just to have a published piece of work in their portfolio. So I guess it has created a bit of financial instability for illustrators too.

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Do you use Photoshop or Corel Painter with your illustrations?

Yes, I work with Photoshop all the time but I try to use it carefully. The problem with digital work is that if you limit yourself to just drawing with a digital pen and nothing more, the end product would be something bland with no spontaneity in it. In manual works you often make mistakes, an unintentional drop of ink on the surface or a wrong stroke of the brush etc… that make the work even more interesting. So I try to have a mixture of manual and digital techniques in my works.

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Do you own or have you used a Graphic Drawing Tablet in your illustrating?

Yes, it is many years now that I have one and I think it is one of the best tools that I have bought for myself so far.

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Do you have any career dreams that you want to fulfill?

I wish that one day I get the chance to illustrate a collection of the “One thousand and one night”.

Many artists have tried it so far, among the best in my opinion is the one by Edmund Dulac but I think it still has a great potential for exploration and hope that one day the opportunity rises for me to do it too.

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What are you working on now?

At the moment I’m working on a story that I have written myself called “The day I met Popito” I have finished the first draft of the story and I am working on some samples to take to publishers now. The story is about a family who one day finds out that a family of hippos has moved next door to them. They are not happy about having hippos as their neighbors at all but in time they learn to know and appreciate each other more.

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I think the message in the story is probably appropriate for our time. More and more people come across a situation where they have to co-exist with people who might be different from them. Different in color of skin, nationality, religion etc… we have to find a way to harmoniously live together and accept our differences.

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Do you have any material type tips you can share with us? Example: Paint or paper that you love – the best place to buy – a new product that you’ve tried – A how to tip, etc.

Recently I have bought this gadget from Wacom called “Inkling digital sketch pen”. While you sketch on paper with a ballpoint pen provided, it captures your sketches digitally and then you can transfer the files to your computer with a USB connection. It lacks a bit of smoothness and occasionally misses the lines if you don’t press your pen hard enough on paper but I found it a very interesting device to have for sketching digitally.

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Any words of wisdom on how to become a successful writer or illustrator?

Once, one my college professors gave me a good piece of advice, which I still remember. She said” if you try, all your life, to perfectly imitate someone else’s work or style you might end up becoming very good in it but your work has really no artistic value and doesn’t take you anywhere Eventually you would be just a good imitator. But if you try to draw one straight line, it belongs to you and it has some originality of its own.”

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Thank you Mehrdokht for taking the time to share your process and journey with us. We look forward to hearing about all your future successes.

To see more of Mehrdokht’s illustrations visit her at:

Website: http://www.myart2c.com

Please take a minute to leave a comment for Mehrdokht, I know she would love to heard from you and I always appreciate it. Thanks!

Talk tomorrow,


Filed under: authors and illustrators, illustrating, Illustrator's Saturday, inspiration, Interview, picture books Tagged: Alzahra University in Tehran, Golden Domes And Silver Lanterns, Graphic Design, Mehrdokht Amini

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922. My Brother's Shadow

My Brother's Shadow by Tom Avery

ISBN-10: 0385384874

ISBN-13: 978-0385384872

Publication date: 9 September 2014 by Schwartz & Wade

Category: Middle Grade Contemporary Fiction

Keywords: Fiction, Realistic, Suicide, Grief

Format: Hardcover, ebook

Source: Review copy provided by Publisher

Kaia is frozen in time since her brother's death. She moves through life in a static emptiness. Her mum is barely there too. Until the day a new boy comes to school. He's wild and untamed, he's a good listener and doesn't care what the other kids think. And he's the friend Kaia needs.

Well written, My Brother's Shadow is a sad tale of a young girl moving through grief and isolation after a traumatic event in her life. Kaia is so well drawn, she is almost sitting next to you, telling you her story of how she meets the mysterious boy, her memories of her family "before" and how this friend is helping her cope with her new world.

I liked the delicate and sparse language. Kaia's voice is clear and her pain is palpable, bringing the reader in immediately. We want to know more about this boy, about Kaia, about her brother and what happened.

At the same time, you're truly frightened to find out.

The story touches upon sensitive topics, but it's important to understand that the real story is about Kaia and how this young girl can handle such an emotional experience. How this event unwinds her mother and how Kaia grows and processes her own feelings differently. Avery does a wonderful job illustrating the heartbreak that follows such events and the hope that has to fight extra hard to be seen.

Overall, I think readers will enjoy the book, in all of it's heaviness and sadness. It's about coming out, moving on, and grabbing a friend's hand.

I received this book for free from Random House for review purposes.

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923. Approving books in ... the Maldives

       You'd figure they might have more pressing concerns in the Maldives -- the 1000+ island nation of barely 350,000 is infamously the lowest-lying in the world, and likely to go under as sea levels rise ... soon -- but, no: as Ahmed Naish reports in Minivan News: New regulations mandate government approval before publishing literature, as they've gone for Iranian-style control of what gets published, as:

New regulations enacted yesterday will subject the publication of prose and poetry in the Maldives to government approval.
       On the one hand, it's good to hear that there's a vibrant enough publishing industry locally to necessitate such a law (though I couldn't find any data on how much is actually published annually). Still, never good to hear 'explanations' such as:
The stated purpose of the 'Regulations on approving literature published in the Maldives' (Dhivehi) is "that literature published or made public in the Maldives fit Maldivian laws and regulations as well as societal norms".

The rules are aimed at "reducing adverse effects on society that could be caused by published literature."
       I'm curious what those adverse effects are -- why no examples ?
       So approval must be sought from the National Bureau of Classification -- scroll down for some examples of 'latest approved books' (and note a disconnect between the depicted book-covers and the descriptions of the approved books if you click on them).

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924. The Perfect Word

Have you ever been in the midst of your writing and you have to stop in order to find the perfect word?

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925. App Advisory: Where to Start?

App-advisory can be intimidating, especially for those of us who are not heavily engaged in touch-screen technology in our personal lives.  Although I am excited to be a new member of the Children and Technology Committee, and this is a professional interest of mine, I must confess: I don’t own a smartphone or a tablet.  But I strongly believe that whatever your personal habits or philosophies, as professionals, we need to be willing and able (and enthusiastic!) to be media mentors, modeling responsible new media use and providing recommendations for parents and families.  With so many apps out there, many of which are labeled “educational,” we need to be able to provide parents with trusted recommendations and advice.  If you can do reader’s advisory, you already have the skills to do app advisory! Here are some suggestions, based on what we did at the Wellesley Free Library.

Get to know your material!  Read app reviews (see list of review sources below) and keep track of the apps about which you read. We use a Google spreadsheet, so that all Children’s Department staff can contribute.  This includes, when available, recommended age (though this is something significantly lacking in many app reviews), price, platform, categories, and our comments.  Keeping this information centralized and organized makes it easy to come up with specific apps to recommend to a patron, or to pull for a list.

Play around with the apps!  If you have money to spend (consider asking your Friends group for money for apps, especially if you will be using the apps in library programs), download some apps that seem interesting and try them out.  Even if you can’t spend money, you can try out free apps or download free “lite” versions of apps.  Playing with the app allows you to give a more in-depth description and detailed information in your advisory (consider the difference between recommending a book based on a review you read and having read the book itself).

Choose your method of advisory. App advisory can take many forms. There is the individual recommendation at the reference desk, there are app-chats (the app version of the book-talk), which have been discussed in an article on the ALSC blog by Liz Fraser, and then there are app-lists.  For the past year, we have created monthly themed app lists, mostly for young children between the ages of 2 and 6.  The themes have included: interactive books, music, math, letters, and more. Be sure to include free apps as well as apps available for non-Apple devices on your lists.

Provide advice, along with recommendations.  On the back of our paper app lists, and on the website where we post links to the app-list Pinterest boards, we offer advice to parents about using interactive technology with young children.

A year later, still without a smartphone or tablet, I feel much more confident about recommending apps to patrons, reviewing and evaluating apps, and building our collection, and you can too!  You already have the tools for evaluating media that meets children’s developmental needs and creating interesting and attractive advisory methods for families.  The next step is simply taking it to a new platform!

Some of our favorite review sources for apps:

Children’s Technology Review
Cybils Award
Digital Storytime
Horn Book App of the Week
Kirkus ipad Book App Reviews
Little elit
Parents’ Choice Awards
School Library Journal App Reviews

Clara Hendricks is a Children’s Librarian at the Wellesley Free Library in Wellesley, MA. She is a member of ALSC’s Children and Technology Committee.

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