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Viewing: Blog Posts from All 1562 Blogs, since 12/19/2007 [Help]
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37176. Good Toes or Naughty Toes?

I'm really enjoying Picture Book Month, which is the first annual celebration of my favorite kind of book. As part of the celebration, I want to share with you a new book from Tiger Tales--a small independent publisher that happens to only make picture books.

Naughty Toes, written by Ann Bonwill and illustrated by Teresa Murfin, was actually first published in April 2011 by Oxford University Press in the United Kingdom. Tiger Tales then published it a few months later, in September 2011, in the United States. Here's the cast of characters from the book:

  • Chloe is the narrator and main character. She dances with gusto...but not with much grace. 
  • Belinda is Chloe's big sister. She's a natural ballerina.
  • Madame Mina is the girls' ballet teacher. She makes Belinda the star of the ballet show and casts poor Chloe as a rock!
  • Mr. Tiempo plays the piano during ballet class. Chloe and her creative spirit make him smile again and again.

"Float like clouds!" says Madame Mina, and I spin around the room like a dust cloud, clap like a thundercloud, whoosh like a rain cloud...SMACK! straight into Anthony. "What were you thinking?" asks Madame Mina. "I was a cloud with gusto," I say. Before I hang my head, I think I see Mr. Tiempo smiling.

2 Comments on Good Toes or Naughty Toes?, last added: 11/21/2011
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37177. It’s Only a Matter of Time: Licensed Properties That Haven’t Made the Leap to Film

I can’t pinpoint what it was that made me think of this.  In this day and age with children’s picture book characters appearing as television and movie characters every other minute, to say nothing of the new deals being made with the names of classics we all grew up with, it’s a lot easier to pinpoint the ones that haven’t been appropriated by the entertainment industry. With producers more than willing to suck every little last bit of goodwill from a property, here is a list (insofar as I know) of the characters that haven’t been seen in their own television shows / CGI films.  Oh, and I should note that when I say these haven’t been adapted I am not referring to the multiple very clever stage shows made of each one of these.  Theater is the classy version of what I’m envisioning here:

- The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle : Not that you can miss him.  If you don’t own Caterpillar bedsheets or hand puppets then maybe you have him on your curtains and wallpaper.  I’m no different.  My child is proud to sport Caterpillar shoes and eats from Caterpillar plates.  Still, we haven’t yet seen the Caterpillar Saturday morning cartoon show.  And it would be soooo easy to do so.  The Caterpillar and his friends (The Very Quiet Cricket, the Very Grumpy Ladybug, the Very Lonely Firefly, etc.) have a variety of preschool-friendly adventures, usually involving counting, colors, and days of the week.  Oh, you just know some exec has pitched this to Carle himself.  Fortunately the fellow doesn’t need the dough.

- Peter and friends from the books of Ezra Jack Keats : They have been adapted into books by authors other than Mr. Keats, and in the 70s there were some pretty awesome live action short films made of their stories.  However, there’s been nothing recent, which raises my suspicions.  Is there a belief that stories about inner city kids wouldn’t sell or are the characters too enmeshed in their era to be timely?  I suspect the former but I’m naturally suspicious.  Could just be the Keats estate is full of classy folks unwilling to sell out.

- The Pigeon from Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus by Mo Willems – Or Elephant and Piggie for that matter.  This isn’t entirely surprising, of course.  Mo’s not exactly a small town rube.  He knows the television world well having worked there for a while (to say nothing of this) and I wouldn’t be surprised if the multiple folks courting him have been rebuffed mightily over the years.  Like Carle, Willems doesn’t need ‘em.  His Pigeon does well enough on its own.

- Harold from Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson – Short animated films of Harold have been made, but I live in fear that . . . oops.  Didn’t see this.  Just found out about 7 Comments on It’s Only a Matter of Time: Licensed Properties That Haven’t Made the Leap to Film, last added: 11/22/2011

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37178. into the light of the dark black night

Here's the last of he classified ads that will feature in my next zine. You know, last year I made a post where I vowed to never ever launch a new zine before Christmas. I am such an idiot. I really am.

Plus, on the subject, I was going to list 'How To Draw Like A Loon' today but after consulting my part time manager/shop keeper/advisor, Tim, I was advised not to. It is currently at the printers and he suggested that I do not list it until I have it in my hands and it's ready to go. That way, I shouldn't be making future posts where I apologise for it being late. Like I usually do.

Also, I would like to take this opportunity to ...er....ahem....apologise to all those who have been waiting to see their classified ads for bloody ages. I....er...welll.....uh....ahem....you know?

13 Comments on into the light of the dark black night, last added: 11/23/2011
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37179. Winter Spell

1 Comments on Winter Spell, last added: 11/24/2011
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37180. Importance of Networking

For the last few weeks I have been working on author Susan Shaw’s website.  Her first published book was THE BOY FROM THE BASEMENT published by Dutton Books.  The funny thing is in 2002 I went to an PA SCBWI First Page Session in Doylestown, PA and her first page was one of the pages read.  I did not know who wrote it, but it starts out with a boy locked in the basement with no food, clothes, blanket by his father.  It was very dark and shocked me at the time.  I was writing picture books and hadn’t read any middle grade or young adult novels, so I wasn’t familiar with what was being written.  Of course now, I am writing middle grade and young adult, but that little boy has stuck in my mind for all these years.

Then Eileen Spinelli recommended me to Susan and I was face-to-face with the story.  Yesterday, I asked Susan if she attended that First Page Session and she said she did and told me how it ended up being contracted by one of the editors attending.  You can read the first few pages on Amazon.  The writing pulls you right in, so I have added to my Christmas “wish list” of books.  To view Susan’s other books go to: www.authorsusanshaw.com .

This got me thinking of the importance of getting yourself and your work out there.  You never know where meeting someone will lead.  If you are a regular reader of this blog, you know I try to shout out your successes.  But I think it is good to remind you of how serendipitous success can be.  We have had members sell a book with literally an elevator pitch.  One writer had her first contract come from meeting someone in a funeral line.  Other member found her agent by having a friend introduce her to this big agent at a house party.  So many times an editor will call me to ask if I could contact the person who wrote a first page that they really liked.

If you read this week’s Illustrator Saturday, you already know that Micah hit on this when he said, “My girlfriend at the time, (now wife) and I went to see about purchasing a cat from a woman named Star. I had a pocket-sized portfolio that held a bunch of paintings and whatnot. Somehow she ended up seeing the portfolio and said I should meet with her friend Sue. We ended up not getting her cat, but it was the beginning of a long and wonderful working relationship with Sue who wrote “Even Superheroes Get Diabetes” and “The Princess And The Peanut.”” – which Micah has illustrated.

It is easy to stay home and write or illustrate, but there is more to getting published.  You have to put yourself out there.  Meet people, not just the editors and agents, but also fellow writers and illustrators.  I know someone who talked about her book to another writer and that writer was sitting at lunch with an editor who said they were looking for a cowboy picture book.  That is exactly what the other writer had told she wrote.  That writer immediately ran over to the cowboy picture book woman and took back her manuscript to the editor.  The cowboy picture book landed a contract that week.

See what I mean about success being serendipitous? Heck, who would ever expect going out to look for a cat or talking to the person behind you in a funeral line could end up with getting a book contract?

Even if you plan to self-publish, you still need to go to conferences and network.  You want to get your name out there and really need to learn everything you can about the publishing industry, since you will be doing it on your own.  Don’t just jump in and self-publish a b

4 Comments on Importance of Networking, last added: 11/21/2011
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37181. Butterfly

 Iwas woken up by the faintest sound, like a fluttering of wings. Itwas about noon. I was taking my preprandial nap. It was a butterfly.I was astonished. I said so. “My, there's a butterfly stuck in theroom.” That's what I said, word for word. Out of the few days orweeks this butterfly had to live in this physical world, he wasdoomed to spend a few hours here with me, banging and crashing on thewindowpanes, circling the wooden beam in the middle of the room. Idid open the doors. Wide open. A full-grown baby elephant could havemanoeuvred in there without but brushing past a hinge. Thelepidoptera didn't find the way out, though. I couldn't leave thedoor open too long – it was getting cold, you see. November can becold after a cool summer. So it remained in the room – I stillwonder how it entered it in the first place – until I saw it not.It was perhaps laying flat in some nook or cranny amid the junk andmiscellany stored in here, waiting for something we can't understandthe value of. I wish I had been a butterfly, or I wish I could beone, as much as metempsychosis would allow me, so that I couldunderstand what it meant by that.
Iunderstood then that much of men's behaviour could find an equivalentin the animals' behaviour. I was a butterfly. Some were snakes. Somewere bulls or sheep or fish or worms. Some were giraffes and otherselephants. The desert mole rat's behaviour might mirror that ofIndians'. Europe is full of black-backed jackals. Some species aresedentary, some are nomadic. People who live on their own are abloody pain. They never know what they want, pass it by withoutblinking and, being offered something else, discard it with acantankerous wave of the hand. Perhaps a snicker. And then I knew thebutterfly in me was dying. It was one of those nights when you couldalmost see the links between the stars, drawing the constellationsfor the naked eye. I decided to leave.
Itook the first ship out of the continent, then learnt to ride ahorse, learnt the rules of the desert and became aware of thirst andhunger. I rode and rode. I went to Samarkand. Mingled with themerchants for seasons unaccounted. On being attacked by a swarm ofbandits, I left the caravan and joined the thieves. We roamed thedeserts of Persia, assailed, plundered, haggled the stolen goods,caroused, slept with the glossy, tenebrious dome over our heads andbought whores and drank tea.
Onenight I stole the captain's horse and rode for ten days and tennights. The stallion died and I pursued on foot. I arrived at dawn,dusty and tired, in Merv, in Turkmenistan. There I hid in thesuburbs, stole fruits and vegetables from the back of stalls, washeddownstream in the river, bidding my time. One day, I spotted thepalanquin of a prince. I knew of him through legends and hearsays. Hewould ride in his palanquin, all curtains drawn. No one had ever seenhis face for he constantly concealed it under a shawl. He was allmystery. I sneaked in his palace under the cover of darkness and hidunder his bed for two full weeks, stealing occasionally from thevarious fruit bowls laying here and there. There I eavesdropped hisevery habit. He was a man of few words. He received no visitors. Onenight, I stabbed him in his sleep, pierced his heart with my daggerand unveiled his visage. Amidst tormented flesh and disfiguring scarswere set a pair of pale green eyes.
1 Comments on Butterfly, last added: 11/22/2011
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37182. Shards/Ismet Prcic: Early Reflections

Ever since Dana Spiotta reviewed Shards in the The New York Times Book Review a few weeks ago, I have been eager to get a copy for myself. Consider, here, what Dana says:
The novel is constructed of fragments — shards — seemingly written by its main character, Ismet Prcic. Ismet grows up in Tuzla and manages to flee shortly before his induction into the “meat grinder” of the Bosnian infantry. He has survived and made his way to America, but is fractured by what he left behind. The novel comprises mostly segments from his therapist- ordered memoir (or memoirs) and excerpts from his diary. These shards employ several narrative strategies. There are asterisked footnotes, italicized interruptions and self-reflexive comments about unreliability. There are first-, second- and third-person narrations, sometimes switching back and forth within a paragraph. This is a novel about struggling to find form for a chaotic experience. It pushes against convention, logic, chronology. But its disruptions are necessary. How do you write about war and the complications of memory? How do you write about dislocation, profound loneliness, terror? How does a human persevere?
Truth is, I'd been eager to read Ismet Prcic's debut novel ever since I sat in the office of Lauren Wein, the book's editor, and listened to her read aloud from the opening passage.  The book had only recently been released as advance reading copies and, judging from the number of brilliantly hued sticky notes attached to many of the pages, Lauren was still giving this book her extraordinary editorial attentions.  I loved the sound of what she had read to me.  I could not wait to read more.  And then, caught up in the crazy swirl of my own life, I did wait, not buying the book until just recently.

I am only into the early pages at this point. I am not, as I thought I might be, intimidated by the hybrid of forms, techniques, approaches.  The word "propulsive" has been attached to this book, and that it is, but the book is remarkably resonant, too, often funny, surprisingly accessible, despite all that is original and new.  Here is an early-in example:
I love a girl, Melissa.  Her hair oozes like honey.  It's orange in the sun.  She loves me, mati.  She's American.  She goes to church.  She wears a cross right where her freckles disappear into her cleavage.  She volunteers.  She takes forty minutes to scramble eggs over really low heat, but when they're done they explode in your mouth like fireworks, bursts of fatty yolk and coarse salt and cracked pepper and sharp melted cheddar and something called thyme.  She's sharp.  She drives like a lunatic.  She's capable of both warmth and coldness, and just hanging around her to see what it will be that day is worth it.

3 Comments on Shards/Ismet Prcic: Early Reflections, last added: 11/21/2011
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37183. Creating the tree of life

As my contribution to this week’s Nonfiction Monday I’ve a review of What Mr Darwin Saw by Mick Manning and Brita Granström in association with the (London) Natural History Museum, one of six books shortlisted for the Royal Society Young People’s Book Prize 2011.

Through a series of visual and written cameos depicting key moments in Darwin’s life, Manning and Granström have created a picture book biography of one of the most influential figures in human history.

Starting with his childhood, through his failed studies at Edinburgh and Cambridge universities and onto, for the bulk of the book, his 5 year journey around the world on HMS Beagle, readers dip in and out of (what is presented as) Darwin’s thoughts; each double page spread features a short passage as if taken from Darwin’s personal diaries.

These “diary extracts” are supported by several boxes on each page further fleshing out the given moment in Darwin’s life. These are presented as facts about Darwin and his journey, rather than personal reflections.

Following the return of the Beagle to the UK, What Mr Darwin Saw follows Darwin’s route to publishing The Origin of Species, acknowledging the controversy it stirred up amongst the religious faithful, and also the important role played Alfred Russel Wallace, a contemporary naturalist who independently proposed a theory of evolution due to natural selection.

This great picture book tells a story you’re never to young to know about. On the down side I initially found this quite a difficult book to read aloud to my children. Although the book does tell a linear biography of Darwin, each double page spread stands alone and so readers have to make a lot of connections of their own when following the story from cover to cover. For example, on one page Darwin is studying in Edinburgh, whilst next he is in Cambridge and although one can infer what has taken place, it’s not immediately clear.

The decision to adopt a diary style for the main bodies of text makes the narrative immediately personal, but for adults and children very used to 21st century text, the 19th century echoes in vocabulary choices and syntax can make it a slightly stumbling read, at least the first time. This is definitely a case of where re-reading turns a good book into a great book.

On the plus side, everyone in our family learned a lot from What Mr Darwin Saw. It was fascinating to discover more about the journey of the Beagle than just the visit to the Galapagos islands; readers see Darwin in the Andes and Australia, making observations that impact upon his thinking about evolution.

This books is also brilliant as a springboard. It could be used to do so much with –

4 Comments on Creating the tree of life, last added: 11/21/2011
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37184. Past Forward

I packed my plaid valise
For a journey from the past.
I didn’t know exactly
Just how long my trip would last.

On my feet were comfy saddles,
On my neck my favorite dickey.
I was thirsty so I bought myself
A tall and cool lime rickey.

Though I’d miss my new Victrola,
My transistor was along.
I could listen to the Good Guys
When they played my favorite song.

On the bus ride to the subway,
As my driver gave me change,
I saw he was chewing Sen-Sen
And I thought it kind of strange.

Near the subway I got pizza
At the special lunchtime price –
Just a quarter for a soda
And a dripping-oil slice.

Then I used a dime and nickel,
Got my token for the train;
1 Comments on Past Forward, last added: 11/20/2011
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37185. Week in Review

 It feels like this week has lasted forever, yet it's flown by. I'm sure that makes absolutely no sense to anyone, but that's how I feel! Lots of appointments and baby prep and almost no reading time, which makes this girl a bit unhappy. I'm hoping to catch up on some reading this coming week and really take it easy. I always say that, but I mean it this time!


I am deep in the middle of Pure by Julianna Baggott and absolutely loving it. I keep saying to Aaron that it reminds me of a mixture between The Hunger Games, Divergent, and I Am Legend (the Will Smith movie version). I can't put it down! Unfortunately, my reading time has been somewhat limited over the last few days, with driving for appointments and being so darn tired, but if I was on a normal reading pace I would have easily have finished this chunkster this weekend. It's that good!

I finished up The Death Cure by James Dashner this week, as well. Definitely exciting and will please fans of the series. I still wasn't as into this one (or book 2), as I was The Maze Runner, but overall, a good, fast-paced series.


Both Aaron and I have decided that our son NEEDS this:

I mean, seriously, his entire nursery is done in hippos and it's so stinkin' cute it makes me want to cry. Pregnancy hormones, I suppose. However, if someone DOES want to make this adorable hat happen for our little guy, you can buy it from the awesome Nini's Handmades. She has a super cute snail one too. Want!


This week, we're the size of a large jicama (or a little under 4lbs). We had a lot of testing done this week, as I've started swelling more than normal and my blood pressure is much higher than anyone is comfortable with. Luckily, the baby is doing just fine, moving a lot and growing on track, so it's just me we're dealing with. I'm on modified bed rest, basically just taking it a little bit easier than I normally would, and I'm having to go in for twice-a-week monitoring. A pain in the neck, but I'll deal. 
On a FUN note, we have our tentative c-section date! It looks like I'm on the schedule for an amnio 12/19 and as long as it comes back as they would like, a c-section on 12/20. One month from today, we'll have this little guy in the world! It seems so, so soon, but the best Christmas gift I could ever ask for. Let's hope things keep going alright and we keep that date!

Should have the nursery totally finished by next weekend, so pictures of that to come.


Haven't been watching a whole

2 Comments on Week in Review, last added: 11/20/2011
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37186. CameraShy Photography

 Recently got some family pictures taken at Camera Shy in Lehi, Utah.  Today I looked at the cd for the first time and discovered that they weren't our pictures.  I left a comment on their facebook wall and within an hour they replied.  They actually drove more than twenty miles both ways to bring me my disc on a Sunday night.  Talk about Service!

Here's a Picture they took of our Baby Co!

At Camera Shy, the in studio photo session plus the copyrighted cd is just $89 with any portrait sheets being $4 each.   They did a great job in studio, and their Customer Service is great! You can also check them out on Facebook!

Disclosure - I received nothing for this post. I was just grateful for good customer service!

2 Comments on CameraShy Photography, last added: 11/21/2011
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37187. Woogykin's Revenge

This is a color sample from a recent dummy book I've been working on over the past several weeks.  Extra excited about this one :)) I bought a hamster recently named Butters to keep me company in the studio, and ended up being inspired enough by his antics to write a story about a hamster.

10 Comments on Woogykin's Revenge, last added: 11/23/2011
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37188. Toronto Christmas Train show

The first salvo of Christmas has been launched! We went to the very fun and throughly Christmasy Train show this afternoon out by the airport. I don't think I've heard Henry say "wow" so often in one day before. His favorite is the bottom one, a train stuck in water. He can't stop talking about it. It was pretty cool. The two leveled outhouse was pretty funny. The guy who made it said it was his commentary about capitalism. 

1 Comments on Toronto Christmas Train show, last added: 11/21/2011
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37189. The UCLA Chicano Studies Research Center develops methodology to measure hate speech on talk radio

An announcement from the UCLA Chicano Studies Research Center

A UCLA team of researchers have developed a replicable methodology to quantify hate speech in commercial broadcasting—i.e., speech that expresses prejudice against ethnic, racial, religious, and/or sexual minorities.

In a groundbreaking pilot study conducted by the UCLA Chicano Studies Research Center (CSRC) in partnership with the National Hispanic Media Coalition (NHMC), the researchers documented language that may be constitutive of hate speech in thirty- to forty-minute segments from three politically conservative talk radio programs: The Lou Dobbs Show: Mr. Independent (syndicated by the United Stations Radio Networks), broadcast July 31, 2008; The Savage Nation (produced at KFMB 760 AM and syndicated by Talk Radio Network), broadcast July 24, 2008; and The John & Ken Show (KFI AM 640, Los Angeles), broadcast July 30, 2008.

Using a new methodology that promises to advance understanding of the nature and prevalence of hate speech in commercial media, the research team found a significant incidence of speech that incorporates targeted statements against foreign nationals and members of racial, ethnic, and religious minorities. In addition to targeted statements, the study measured unsubstantiated claims, divisive language, and indexical terms (code words) related to political nativism.

“Based on the evidence we uncovered, the programs reveal a distinct and recurring rhetorical pattern for targeting specific vulnerable groups,” said Chon Noriega, center director and UCLA professor of cinema and media studies (pictured below). “Through this rhetorical pattern, vulnerable groups were defined as antithetical to core American values, which were attributed by the hosts to themselves, their audience, and the nation.”

Noriega and Javier Iribarren, MSW-Psy.D, the center’s assistant director, chose to examine conservative talk radio because research has shown it accounts for 91 percent of total weekday talk radio programming. In addition, radio has the greatest penetration of any media outlet (print, broadcast, or digital), reaching 90 percent of Americans each week and the news-talk format is the predominant radio format in terms of dedicated stations nationwide (over 1,700).

The National Telecommunications and Information Administration has defined hate speech as either “words that threaten to incite 'imminent unlawful action,' which may be criminalized without violating the First Amendment” or “speech that creates a climate of hate or prejudice, which may in turn foster the commission of hate crimes.”

Even with a limited sample, a qualitative content analysis revealed several distinct features of speech among the talk radio programs that qualified as hate speech under the NTIA definition. The findings also raise useful questions for future studies on hate speech in the media.

Among the study’s findings:

• Across the three program segments, researchers identified 148 statements targeting a vulnerable group or their supporters. Seventy-nine percent of these instances

1 Comments on The UCLA Chicano Studies Research Center develops methodology to measure hate speech on talk radio, last added: 11/21/2011
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37190. Giraffe Swing

4 Comments on Giraffe Swing, last added: 11/21/2011
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37191. What's your favorite e-reader? Kindle, Nook, Playbook or ?

With Christmas coming and a convenient Dec. 7 birthday, the holiday sales are giving me a severe case of e-reader envy. I have an Adobe-based reader, which is not bad, but the battery doesn't seem to last long enough and takes for-ev-er to charge....

Having looked at a Blackberry Playbook (16gb) on sale for half it's original price (now $199) I admit I was hooked. How cool... then I started looking around, and the one drawback - that it only will download Kobo ebooks - and then you can't read others from other sources - has kind of soured me on that for e-reading. Cool that it has a camera, but I have a good camera for my writing purposes...

Nook Color looks pretty cool, especially since, as I've read, the SD card will expand it into a tablet-like device.

And then there's Kindle, too...

Decisions, decisions.... so figured I'd see what everyone else is using....

What's your favorite e-reader model, and why? How do you use it? Any drawbacks?

3 Comments on What's your favorite e-reader? Kindle, Nook, Playbook or ?, last added: 11/22/2011
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37192. Illustration Friday: Vanity Part II

7 Comments on Illustration Friday: Vanity Part II, last added: 11/23/2011
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37193. iPad Kids App Review: Don’t Let the Pigeon Run This App!

pigeonapp iPad Kids App Review: Dont Let the Pigeon Run This App!Don’t Let the Pigeon Run This App! by Mo Willems and You

iPad Kids App Review by Renny Fong

online link to Pigeon Presents…

online link to Don’t Let the Pigeon Run This App! Preview

YouTube preview to the app.

At $6.99, Don’t Let the Pigeon Run This App! by Mo Willems, is one of the more expensive apps for kids out there, but if your child’s a fan (like mine) of Mo Willems and his books, then this app is worth every one of your 699 pennies.

This app was perfect for my five-year-old (recommended for ages 3-7), as he was able to draw the pigeon with guided help from Mo Willems, record himself by answering some questions, and listen to his words being incorporated into a quirky animated story again and again and again.  Kids love that.  Basically, the story is about the pigeon wanting to do something, while the audience keeps saying a resounding, “NO!”  This reminded me a lot of Sesame Street, and it turns out that Mo Willems worked there once upon a time.  The plotline is basically the same each time, but there are various points in the story where words are substituted, much like Mad Libs, so the content changes.

There are three levels of interactions with the story.  The first level (Egg) will play a random version of the story, with or without the text.  All the word substitutions allow for many different versions of the same storyline. The second level (Chick) allows you to choose a food, a number, a game, character, a stinky thing, and something you won’t allow the pigeon to do.  These choices also vary.  After recording your name, the story plays with the choices you made incorporated into the story.  The third level (Big Pigeon) allows you to personally record answers to questions (similar to level 2), and then plays the story incorporating the recorded clips.  In this level, you can choose to save up to six recorded stories at a time.

My son also loved that he could just draw a black and white drawing on his own and save it to the iPad.  The last saved drawing is also incorporated into the story.  How cool is that?  You and your child might also enjoy shaking the pigeon, as long as you like.

Here’s my son’ take on the app…

$6.99?  Worth it.

Renny Fong has been an educator for over 15 years, teaching pre-kindergarten through fifth grade; he currently teaches technology.  His wife and his five-year-old son are his biggest joy and inspiration.  He started his blog, TimeOutDad, in September 2009 and has been a contributor to Book Dads since 2010 and KidZui’s blog since May 2011.

3 Comments on iPad Kids App Review: Don’t Let the Pigeon Run This App!, last added: 11/21/2011
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37194. Illustration Friday: Vanity

The tiger cub is singing, "I Feel Pretty".

4 Comments on Illustration Friday: Vanity, last added: 11/21/2011
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37195. PiBoIdMo Day 21: Tackle the Story You Love Like Casey Girard

by Casey Girard

My journey to conceiving my own picture book ideas began when I graduated college as an illustrator. I had my portfolio; I was all ready to go find an author in need. When I got to my first conference I was immediately asked, do you write? I was at a loss. I knew I loved illustrating stories but I figured my job was to illustrate other people’s ideas. Seven years later, many more conferences attended, hundreds of children’s books read, numerous illustrations finished, and much time spent being involved in children’s publishing, I have found the stories I want to write.

At the beginning of creating my own stories, I was overwhelmed. My biggest hurdle was observing the plethora of picture books already out there and then realizing that there was room for mine. I started with thinking about how many books I wanted to read. Most people have to-read lists that will never be finished and that’s how they want it. So, add in that there are an infinite number of stories to be told because life changes constantly and revelations about the world are made every minute, new stories are born every single day with readers waiting to read them.

Getting past fears and doubts let me free to accept and explore my ideas. If you are excited by something, don’t be afraid and don’t doubt your ability to make it into a good picture book. Your voice is unique and you will tell your story in a way that connects with someone else. You can never give up on it and you can never give up on yourself. Don’t let fear hold you back. Work on your craft, give the idea you can’t help but write all the love and time it needs to grow into a publishable book, and you will succeed.

Don’t be afraid:

  • To accept your idea
  • To start
  • To change
  • To challenge yourself
  • To tackle the story that you love no matter how crazy you think it will seem to others
  • To ask for help
  • That your idea isn’t worth it

If you love your idea and believe in it as a picture book others will, too.

Casey Girard is a freelance illustrator/designer. She has worked with two authors, illustrating their self-published books, NATTY & RINGO and I LOVE YOU EVERY SECOND. She recently became the Illustrator Coordinator for the New England SCBWI. She recently co-founded the blog Picture This, a site all things picture book art, links, quotes, videos, articles, news, events and more. Stop by for some inspiration. To see more of her work visit her blog – caseyg.com, where she runs two weekly themed posts: Matt’s Choice and Wednesday Animal. You can also find her on Twitter, @CaseyGirard.

Casey is giving away three letters of your choice from her illustrated alphabet. Only the X isn’t available. Leave a comment to enter and a winner will be randomly selected one week from today.

11 Comments on PiBoIdMo Day 21: Tackle the Story You Love Like Casey Girard, last added: 11/21/2011
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37196. Outtakes … they’re not just for movies

Ask any writer.  We have to cut scenes all the time.  For fun, and for a taste of the wacky characters if you haven’t read The Absolute Value of Mike, here’s an outtake from the book, a scene where Mike celebrates his birthday (in the final copy, Mike has already turned 14 but, as I said, it’s an outtake).  Keep in mind that it’s a draft version, too, because it was cut before I got too far into the book.  (Please excuse the weird formatting when I pasted it below.)  Anyway, I hope you enjoy seeing an early, pre-cut chapter!

Venn Diagrams

–diagrams using overlapping circles to reveal the attributes that groups have in common

I didn’t really need a birthday party.  I never had birthday parties at home.  After Dad gave up on giving me math and engineering toys, he just gave me an Amazon gift certificate for a hundred dollars every year.  Except this year.  I guess he forgot.  Not that I cared.  Sasha was always super jealous of the Amazon certificate because for his birthday he got presents that were funny or clever.  Homemade chocolate chip cookies for a year.  A cheap watch with an electronic chess game.  Slingshots along with a bag of giant marshmallows for ammunition.  To be honest, I liked his better.  And anyway, he always got a nice present on his adoption day.

But Moo needed a party.  She was in a funk over having to go see Dr. P.  She’d been spending way too much time in Tyrone’s back seat, just sitting there, “watching” movies.  I tried to act all excited about the Buzz Lightyear paper cups and plates she’d gotten for a quarter at the flea market, but then she obsessed over what to put on them because she couldn’t make a regular cake if Past was coming.  I tried to get her to relax so I found a tie in Doug’s closet and put it around my neck.  It worked.  Moo grinned when I walked into the kitchen in my LOST SOULS T-shirt and tie.

Until she jumped at the knock on the door.  “They’re here!  Mike, you answer it, OK?”

Gladys looked hot, as usual, and Past, well, I didn’t really notice because I was too busy looking at Gladys.

“Come in, come in!” Moo cried from the kitchen.  “Poppy, say hello to everyone!”

Poppy snorted, folded his arms, and looked up at Felix on the wall.

Gladys looked at Poppy like she’d rather give him a kick in the crotch than say hello.  But she said hello, anyway.

Poppy only grunted.

“Right back at ya, big guy,” Past said.

I finally smelled the casserole Past was carrying.  It didn’t smell bad, but it didn’t smell wonderful, either.

“It’s eggplant and tofu with low fat cheese,” Past announced proudly.  “Let’s eat!”

“Oh,” said Moo, “eggplant and . . . toe food, well—”

“TOFU,” Past repeated.

“That’s lovely, too, dear.  Bring it in.  We’ll all enjoy it, I’m sure.”

Enjoy was probably not the right word, but we sat down at the kitchen table and got through it, at least.  Gladys even said she liked it because she was vegetarian.  Maybe being vegetarian helped.

“Now,” said Moo, after she’d put the dinner dishes in the sink, “as a special treat, I got each of you your own—” she squished her shoulders up to her ears and grinned—“POPPY!”

I glanced at Past and Gladys, and figured my face looked as horrified as theirs.  Our eyes all drifted toward the pass-through.

I heard Poppy grunt, then the crinkle of a paper bag behind me and I turned to see Moo pulling out some red tissue paper wrapped tubes.

“Oh!”  I breathed a major sigh of relief.  “Poppers!”

“What?” Gladys asked.

“You pull both ends and they pop open really loud, and inside there’s a toy and a paper crown.”

1 Comments on Outtakes … they’re not just for movies, last added: 11/20/2011
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37197. Holiday Gift Guide Day 19 - Gourmet Gift Baskets Giveaway

Holiday Gift Guide Day 19 - Gourmet Gift Baskets - Christmas Gift Basket Classic

There are always a few people on my list that I think are absolutely impossible to shop for. Whether its my parents or grandparents, because they already seem to have everything, or my neighbor that I don't know very well, some people are just hard to shop for.

A Great idea for the hard to shop for on is a gift basket from Gourmet Gift Baskets.

They have gift baskets for a chocolate lover like me, gift baskets for my kids, even gift baskets for my grandpa the fisherman.

Gift Baskets can range anywhere from $25 to $300, so there is something in every price range.

To Celebrate the Holidays Gourmet Gift Baskets is giving one of you a Christmas Gift Basket Classic (retail $60) Gift Basket.

The Gift Basket contains
  • Almond Pecan-dy Crunch by Morley Candy Makers
  • Chocolate Chip Pecan Cookies by J&M Foods
  • Dipping Pretzels by East Shore Specialty Foods -
  • Robert Rothschild Farm Raspberry Honey Mustard Pretzel Dip
  • Salted Peanuts in Box by Feridie's
  • Signature Dark Chocolate Bar by Lake Champlain
  • Buttered Peanut Crunch by Old Dominion Peanut Company
  • Metropolitan Trail Mix by GourmetGiftBaskets.com -
  • Parmesan Artichoke & Garlic Cheese Biscuits by Salem Baking Company -
  • Chocolate Covered Cherries by Marich
I am very thankful for those chocolate cherries.  Delicious!
    And since this week is all about being Thankful and Giving Back, Gourmet Gift Baskets needs your help to give back to our Military.   To participate all you have to do is review their selection of Christmas Gifts on YOUR Blog. The topic of the Blog Post should discuss the Christmas gift selection and how it would be a great gift for someone.  For every Blog Post Written between Nov. 21st and Dec. 9th, Gourmet Gift Baskets will Donate 2 Baskets to the Military.  And I'll Give you 10 Extra Entries into the Giveaway Here!

    To Win - Complete Any of the Entries on the Rafflecopter form Below!  You must either follow Gourmet Gift Baskets on Twitter or Facebook in order to Win this Prize,

     *Note* Javascript must be enabled to view the form. If you are on the main page of my website, you may have to click read more to see the form.

    <a href="http:/

    1 Comments on Holiday Gift Guide Day 19 - Gourmet Gift Baskets Giveaway, last added: 11/21/2011
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    37198. 2011 Holiday Reading Challenge

    It's that time of year!! The holidays are upon us and there is nothing I love more than reading holiday themed books! Every year I try to find some holiday books (I especially love holiday romances!) so I thought I would share the fun in challenge form.

    Here are the challenge rules:

    -Challenge will begin November 21 and end December 31.

    -There are three levels to the challenge:
            -Rudolph-Read 1-4 Holiday Themed Books
            -Buddy the Elf-Read 5-9 Holiday Themed Books
            -Santa Claus-Read 10+ Holiday Themed Books

    -Books read must be holiday themed-(Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, etc) and can be directly related to the holidays (i.e. 'Twas the Night Before Christmas) or set around the holidays (i.e. Christmas Eve at Friday Harbor)

    -Books can be any format (hardcover, paperback, ebook, audiobook, graphic novel/comic, etc)

    -Childrens, YA and Adult titles count. Yes, picture books will count for this challenge! I have some go-to picture books I always read around this time of year! Which means...

    -Re-reads are allowed! As is overlap with other reading challenges.

    -Extra Credit Level!
        Mrs. Claus-Watch any number of Holiday Themed movies and post about them

    -Prizes!! Yes, there will be prizes! One entry for every link you include on the challenge linky. Prizes will be awarded throughout the challenge (candy and books!) and the grand prize is a book of your choice (up to $10) from the Book Depository.

    Sign up by linking your challenge post below. Happy

    6 Comments on 2011 Holiday Reading Challenge, last added: 11/22/2011
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    37199. A Common Dilemma - Joan Lennon

    Once upon a time, there were two poets. For the sake of anonymity, we will call one Emily and the other Sylvia. They were both extremely good writers - modern yet accessible, challenging yet mellifluous, edgy yet musical. They each kept a wary professional eye on the other’s successes and failures. Because they were decent human beings, they tried to rejoice at the former and not to rejoice at the latter. Sometimes they managed this better than other times, but still, they tried.

    For many years their areas of special interest did not overlap, so they did not tend to be up for the same awards or invited to the same festivals. Emily focussed largely on urban subjects; Sylvia’s work was strictly metaphysical. But then – an example of convergent evolution – both Sylvia and Emily became interested in birds. Perhaps they both received literature from the RSPB during the same mailing campaign. Perhaps they both were given bird feeders as Christmas presents by totally unrelated relatives. Whatever the reason, both writers began to produce reams of poems about our feathered friends …

    … until the inevitable happened. They were both short-listed for the RSPB Bird Poet of the Year Award.

    On learning that one has been short-listed for anything, a writer’s invariable first thought is, What shall I wear? This is because they are not normally dressy people. Pyjamas, baggy track tops, elderly jeans – these make up the usual uniform of work-from-home writers. The two poets hadn’t a thing in their wardrobes appropriate for such an occasion.

    So, after thinking, What shall I wear? Emily went out in search of an outfit that would be as beautiful as the subjects of her poems. Something feathery, colourful, suggestive of wings and flight.

    After thinking, What shall I wear? Sylvia also went out in search of an outfit that would be as beautiful as the subjects of her poems. Something suggestive of flight and wings, colourful, feathery ...

    On the fateful evening, they arrived at the award ceremony, both a little late, just in time to go onto the stage and be introduced to the audience.

    They were dressed identically.

    Sylvia turned to Emily. “Nice dress,” she said.

    “Thank you,” Emily replied. “So’s yours.”

    “Symbolic?” asked Sylvia.

    “Absolutely,” said Emily with a cautious smile. “The old form and content thing.”

    “Where would we be without metaphor, eh?”

    “Damn straight.”

    There was a short pause. Then Emily crooked her arm, inviting Sylvia to link up with her.

    “The grand entrance?” she murmured. “As if we’d planned it?”

    10 Comments on A Common Dilemma - Joan Lennon, last added: 11/22/2011

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    37200. Movie: Trailer for The Hunger Games

    1 Comments on Movie: Trailer for The Hunger Games, last added: 11/21/2011
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