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37176. A QUESTION

What do you guys think about putting a weapon in a picture book? I'm working on a book about how to become a police officer and at first I thought I wouldn't include the gun part at all but then I thought... well... all kids know that police officers carry guns. It's the elephant in the room. I may as well deal with it. My plan is to simply list it as a thing the police officer carries on his belt.

What do you think?

6 Comments on A QUESTION, last added: 11/7/2011
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37177. DC wallops Marvel 51% to 30% in October

Looks like that risky relaunch really paid off, as DC had 51% of the comics unit share in October, according to just released Diamond figures. That was a whopping 21 points over Marvel. DC led 42% to 30% in dollars. Justice League #2 topped the comics chart, joined by Green Lantern, Batman, Detective Action, Superman and the Flash in the top 10. Marvel’s top seller was Incredible Hulk #1.

The Flashpoint collection topped he GN charts, followed by a new Walking Dead hardcover edition.

unit share1 DC wallops Marvel 51% to 30% in October

dollar share1 DC wallops Marvel 51% to 30% in October

Periodical sales were up year over year and month over month, while GNs continued a plunge — down 10% from September and 30% from 2010 in units. In the all important year-to-date category periodical are about the same as last year with a very slight 1% gain, while GNs are down 5% in dollars and 12% in units.

TOP COMIC BOOK PUBLISHERS

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15 Comments on DC wallops Marvel 51% to 30% in October, last added: 11/4/2011
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37178. The Artfuls Interview

I'm honored to be interviewed over at The Artfuls. Thanks Tony, for having me. Check it out!

4 Comments on The Artfuls Interview, last added: 11/7/2011
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37179. Rae Carson Interview


Here is an interview with the author of The Girl of Fire and Thorns, Rae Carson. Enjoy!

The main character of your first novel, The Girl of Fire and Thorns, deals with her weight throughout the book. This is an issue that many teens deal with and like many teens, she's painfully conscious of it. How should teens deal with the constant onslaught of the importance of being thin?

This is a toughie, and there is no easy answer. I’m a big fan of focusing on health instead of weight, but that’s a lot easier said than done when we’re bombarded with media images that promote extreme thinness. I encourage teens to eat right and exercise regularly because it’s amazing what feeling good will do for your self esteem. And I also share my own personal experience: I used to compete in beauty pageants. I won swimsuit competitions all the time. But now, I rock plus-sized womanhood, and I can say with conviction that being thin did not improve my self satisfaction. I’m a much happier person now.

A good portion of your novel is set in the desert. Have you ever visited a desert yourself?

Oh, yes. I love deserts. I’ve spent lots of time in Southern California, including the Mojave and Death Valley. And driving Route 66 though Arizona and New Mexico is an experience not to be missed! The scenery is epic and amazing.

What kind of research did you do to realistically convey the warfare that takes place?

I was a history major in college, with a particular interest in the colonial era and American Revolution. Lots of the warfare in the book is based on the guerilla tactics used by American colonists.

Where will The Crown of Embers take Elisa on her journey?

Elisa is going to discover that leading a desert rebellion is nothing at all like being queen of a huge country, and she’ll be in more danger than ever. Leading her people—not to mention staying alive—will require that she embark on another journey, but this time there will be water. Lots and lots of water!

Elisa's religion is very important to her. Is the religion in the book supposed to be based on one that exists in our world?

I combined elements from all our world’s monotheistic traditions to create Elisa’s religion. But yes, there is one in particular that it most closely resembles, and there is an important reason for this, which won’t become apparent until book 3, The Bitter Kingdom. Saying anything more would be a spoiler… :-)

How long was the time period from the time you got the inspiration for The Girl of Fire and Thorns to the day it hit shelves?

Years! I have to let ideas stew in the crockpot of my weird brain for a long time before they’re ready to go on the page. Then it took me about a year of revising and researching to find an agent, and a year and a half between signing with my publisher and the book’s release. I keep telling myself that all the waiting builds character.

Is there a name for the trilogy overall?

The Fire and Thorns Trilogy.

What book would you have every person read, if you could?

Mine, of course--I have starving cats to feed! Seriously, though, I’m a big fan of Paolo Bacigalupi’s Ship Breaker. It’s not only beautifully written with stellar characters, it contains themes that are frighteningly relevant to our current world. I hope everyone reads it.

How did you celebrate the launch of your first

3 Comments on Rae Carson Interview, last added: 11/4/2011
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37180. Cartoonists and the law: Steve Rude update

www.steverudeart.com 2011 11 4 124058 Cartoonists and the law: Steve Rude update
Following up news of Monday’s arrest of Steve “The Dude” Rude on charges of assault and violating a restraining order, Tom Spurgeon got further details of the night in question from Rude’s wife Jaynelle. It seems that on Halloween evening, Steve was outside, in costume, giving out Halloween candy, when barking dogs in a neighbor’s yard distracted the Dude, which led him to throw rocks at the fence in front of the barking dogs. The owners of the dogs — who had previously obtained the restraining order against Rude — came out and an argument ensued, which ended with Rude physically shoving one of the neighbors and ripping his shirt off. Rude then returned to handing out his Halloween candy until the police showed up and arrested him.

According to Jaynelle, Rude suffered some physical injuries while in police custody — given the Maricopa Sheriff Dept’s rep as giving third world dictatorships a run for their money in the punishment category, this is pretty easy to believe.

To anyone who knows the Dude at all, a mental movie of this incident — with episodes of Rude serenely giving out candy bracketing an angry, violent confrontation — is easily conjured.

Some have wondered if Rude’s actions should be supported by buying art to pay for his defense. It’s no secret that Rude has suffered from depression in recent years, which has severely cramped his ability to make a living. Although we only know Rude’s side of the story, it’s pretty easy to build up a mental picture of the ongoing feud between neighbors as well. It doesn’t sound like anyone is too innocent in this whole story, and Rude would seem to need some kind of anger management therapy going forward, but based on what we know, I’d say that if you like Steve Rude’s artwork, buying a piece now won’t violate the karma police too much.

UPDATE: I screwed up a very important fact in the report from Jaynelle, which is that Rude threw rocks at the FENCE IN FRONT OF THE DOGS not at the dogs themselves.

15 Comments on Cartoonists and the law: Steve Rude update, last added: 11/4/2011
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37181. Horn Player

Jeffrey Lang, one of the great horn players of our time, did a dazzling rendition of the Mozart Horn Concerto last week at the Bard Performing Art Center in New York.


I knew I only had about 15 minutes to sketch his performance (it's a short piece), so I dove in with water-soluble colored pencils and brush pens, which I held discreetly in my left hand. I had all the stuff ready to go when the piece started so that I didn't have to dig around and break anyone's concentration.

4 Comments on Horn Player, last added: 11/5/2011
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37182. Cartoonists and the law: Susie Cagle arrested, charged with misdemeanor

Cartoonist Susie Cagle — who was previously teargassed during another confrontation — was arrested as part of the Occupy Oakland protest on Wednesday night. Cagle was not there as a protester, but as a reporter, covering the scene for Spot.us. According to Cagle’s father, Cagle was arrested despite having a prominent press pass and the arresting officer actually knowing her and her work.

After being held overnight at Santa Rita Jail, Cagle was released, and charged with the misdemeanor of “present at raid.” On her Twitter stream, she mentions she’s currently trying to retrieve her wallet and housekeys from the Oakland police.


ABC news has a video interview Cagle on the event.

For those covering this new item, the arrest of a clearly marked media person covering the event seems troubling…well, a lot of this whole Occupy Oakland matter seems troubling.

Cagle’s Twitter stream — which was maintained by her partner while she was in jail — is the best source for accurate information regarding the matter. As she points out, she has worked for media outlets Alternet, Truthout and more in the past, and has delivered comics journalism for Cartoon Movement in the past.

As she mentions in the news piece above, Cagle intends to continue covering Occupy Oakland — hopefully she’ll be reporting on the headlines more than making them in the future.

16 Comments on Cartoonists and the law: Susie Cagle arrested, charged with misdemeanor, last added: 11/5/2011
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37183. Giveaway Winners


Congratulations to the Winners of
Cruise Quarters




The winners were selected using Random.org
Nook copy: Burgandy Ice
Kindle copy: Jenny Juckes
Paperback: ellie



Congratulations to the Winner of
Radiant Desire


The winner was selected using random.org
Connie Tran


Congratulations to the Winner of
Good Graces



The winner was selected using Random.org
Patti Hess




Congratulations to the Winner of
The Hopeless Chrisiantic



The winner was selected using Random.org
sweety




Congratulations to the Winner of
Crossroads



The winner was selected using Random.org
Christi the teen Librarian



Congratulations to the Winners of
2012 Midnight at Spanish Gardens

7 Comments on Giveaway Winners, last added: 11/6/2011
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37184. 10 Year Anniversary



Ten years ago today I turned in my first professional illustration job. I'm going to surpress my cringe reflex and post some images from that project, a interior full page for The Village Voice.

 I have no idea what this was about, something about globalization and corporate pirates. (Nice idea!)
Here are a few of my thumbnails from that, and as I remember it, I think it was Minh who suggested the pirate ship idea. Note the "sails are dollarbills" stroke of genius in the bottom right.




My portfolio was a mess at the time, full of drawings and full of paintings, (I could do about ten posts on that alone) but art director Minh Uong saw something in there. He gave me a cover of the Village Voice arts guide, that ran inside the magazine. I'm grateful for him taking a chance on me, and for calling me afterwards after I gave him a sort-of-ok-not-amazing-image the first time around.



I don't want to get too wistful and self interested here, but I do want to say I'm incredibly astonished and grateful for what I've done professionally in the last ten years. In some ways, I've done more than I thought was possible in an entire career. Eager to start the next ten years of imagemaking.  Thanks Minh for that first call! 

3 Comments on 10 Year Anniversary, last added: 11/4/2011
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37185. Illustration Friday - Stripes


Here's Streak and Tonga chatting up the latest jungle news. This is my "Stripes" theme for IF which is a painting I've done for my picture book dummy, "Jungle Rescue". It's the first thing I've posted in awhile. Trying to get back on the horse, ONCE AGAIN, and make art!

3 Comments on Illustration Friday - Stripes, last added: 11/5/2011
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37186. Update on Tamora Pierce Reading Challenge

So I have some good news for some of you. A couple weeks ago some of my readers stumbled across my Tamora Pierce Reading Challenge, only to express disappointment that they had discovered it so late.

I figured why not spread the joy, so the challenge has been extended until the end of the year! Which is good for me too, since because of other commitments (*cough* Cybils *cough*) I didn’t meet my goal yet, but am on track to finish by the end of the year. The challenge will now finish on December 31, 2011.

I’ve also found a prize for us. At the end of the year, one participant in the challenge will be randomly selected to receive a brand new hardcover copy of Tortall and Other Lands: A Collection of Tales, Ms. Pierce’s new book that came out last February.

If you want to win, you need to have signed up to participate in the challenge using Mr. Linky on the original page. And if you haven’t signed up yet, what are you waiting for?  Signups remain open for the length of the challenge.  It only takes 1 book to participate, and you can read that by January, can’t you?

1 Comments on Update on Tamora Pierce Reading Challenge, last added: 11/4/2011
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37187. Book Review: Fish, by Gregory Mone

     Uncle Gerry glared, one hand still holding the top of the purse. "This is important."
     "Yes, of course."
     "No," Uncle Gerry said, pausing. "This is very important."
     "I understand," Fish said.
     "You will deliver this to the Mary, a passenger ship docked in the harbor, bound for America. You will deliver it, specifically, to a certain Reginald Swift, who will be sailing on that ship."
     "Yes."
     "He is an uncommonly small man with uncommonly large eyeglasses. Aged about thirty years, a good few less than your father and myself. He is expecting you."  

Overview: Maurice "Fish" Reidy is eleven years old when Shamrock dies. Without their horse, the family can't afford to feed itself, let alone farm their land. Someone has to go into the city to work and send money home. Since Fish is the worst at farming, it's agreed he should be the one to go.

His father arranges for Fish to work for his uncle as a courier. When Fish is entrusted with a mysterious package of coins, he's robbed before he can make the delivery. He tracks down the thief amongst a bunch of pirates, aboard their ship, the Scurvy Mistress. Determined to get that package back and to its rightful recipient, Fish sneaks aboard and joins the pirate crew. He soon learns the coins are more than what they seem, and some of the crew are not as loyal as they'd have their captain believe.

As the Scurvy Mistress sets sail, Fish finds himself on an adventure he never saw coming, with friends he never imagined making. It's a journey that promises to change his life - and that of his family - forever.

For Teachers and Librarians:
Fish has all the action and excitement your reluctant readers are drawn to. It has all the complex twists and turns your stronger readers crave. And? It has pirates. And treasure. And mystery. And did I mention pirates?

So beyond being a great story your students will not be able to put down, how can you use this book in your classrooms? Under the umbrella of a full Pirate Unit, there is a treasure chest full of activities and mini-units you can choose from. Create an activity to compare and contrast the life of a farmer with the life of a pirate, or a sailor, or both. That will nicely set up a research activity on the life of a pirate: superstitions of pirates, swimming abilities (or not), ship's politics, the running of a pirate ship (jobs aboard ship, procedures followed), pirate's code, pirate-speak, etc. Present a mini-unit on types of 3 Comments on Book Review: Fish, by Gregory Mone, last added: 11/6/2011
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37188. Spencer/Cloonan VICTOR VON DOOM mini canceled

201111041155 Spencer/Cloonan VICTOR VON DOOM mini canceled

The world will not get to see this awesome comic, alas. Via Twitter, Nick Spencer confirms that a planned miniseries about a teenaged Victor Von Doom by Becky Cloonan and himself will not be coming out.

I see word is out about VICTOR VON DOOM. Trust me, no one is more bummed about this than I am.
Really proud of the scripts and hope to get to work with @beckycloonan sooner rather than later.


The first issue had been planned to ship next week. It was one of the Marvel books edited by now-laid-off editor Alejandro Arbona, which could have something to do with the cancellation.

UPDATE: Bleeding Cool reports that the mini was cancelled due to no art being turned in after Cloonan had scheduling problems. We’ve confirmed that it was indeed production problems that led to the cancellation.

15 Comments on Spencer/Cloonan VICTOR VON DOOM mini canceled, last added: 11/4/2011
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37189. IF: Striped

This is an old illustration and the only original illustration anyone has asked to buy. I was so taken back when the husband of a friend called and asked to buy it for his wife, I gave it to him! I know- I am such a great marketer!!
The title is Harvesting Poles. The Ute Indians go up in the mountain and harvest a bunch of the long lodge pole pines, to be used for their tepees they put up during the multi tribal pow wows festivals. Sometimes when we are up in the mountains, we will find a stash of long lodge pole pines that they keep up there, much easier to just bring up just  the canvas when they are camping.
The striped blanket is actually stitched because I wanted to control the curve of their bodies under it. That did take a long time and don't know if it was worth it.
Looking at it, I would do so many things differently now- but it is definitely one of people's favorite. Of course I like it because it is my favorite subject- a guy and a girl!

2 Comments on IF: Striped, last added: 11/7/2011
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37190. Shake Me For Service: National Novel Writing Month and a Challenge from Yours Truly

National Novel Writing Month bills itself as "thirty days of literary abandon."  I like that.  I would like to add, as someone who stands in supreme awe of anyone who can write 50,000 words in a single month, that NaNoWriMo is a challenge for the extremely brave, the highly disciplined, and the bold of heart.  Within this month, entire worlds will be created, characters revealed, plots escalated.  As someone who can get caught in the tangle of a single paragraph for hours (okay, sometimes days) I do not know how this gets done.

The point of NaNo is to get a first draft done.  To make the broad strokes, to test an idea.  But what happens after those first 50,000 words are inked (or dotted), is, in my mind, even more crucial.  It's during revision that the music of a story is found, the real meaning, the finer possibilities.  It is during revision that the actual story emerges.

I care perhaps too much about language.  I want to take risks with it, yearn to push it.  I will write, for example, an Emmy character in You Are My Only who doesn't speak with ordinary cadence and doesn't read the world through cliches, because I think we have a responsibility as writers not just to tell stories, but to try to tell stories artfully, with originality and daring.  I will spend ten years working the sentences of Small Damages because I cannot let those gypsies, that south of Spain, that music, that old cook down.  I recognize that I am in a growing minority.  I recognize that what is art to me could be just so many plot-obstructing words to another.  I recognize that my passion for words, my own preference for authors who make sentences that are not just compelling and clear, but startling and fresh, is Beth showing her quirky stubborn side.

Still, I am in that constant hunt for a real writer writing.  I will fill my shelves with Julie Otsuka, Julian Barnes, Michael Ondaatje, Anne Enright, William Fiennes, Chloe Aridjis, Kim Echlin, Jane Mendelsohn, Ron Hansen, Colm Toibin, Colum McCann, Per Petterson, and so many more (and here I have purposefully not included any of my friends, so that you can be assured I am being completely objective) because I am inspired and informed and given hope by their commitment to the pure, hard jewel of the single sentence.

It has taken me four paragraphs to get to the point.  My point is this.  I am running a contest.  I am seeking, from the NaNo writers, this:  A single sentence as it was first written in the heat of a NaNo moment, and that same sentence after it has been reconsidered, revised.  Please s

7 Comments on Shake Me For Service: National Novel Writing Month and a Challenge from Yours Truly, last added: 11/7/2011
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37191. Debut Author Challenge - October Update

It rained this morning, I'm wearing my favorite red sweater, and I'm drinking a bigass cup of coffee. Fall is very much in the air. The year has zoomed by, but I've managed to keep on track with the Debut Author Challenge. Last month, I read and reviewed Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys (and guys, seriously, read this book). And I'm almost done with The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by

2 Comments on Debut Author Challenge - October Update, last added: 11/7/2011
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37192. Friday Book Recommendation: Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson


  • I recommended this one a while back, but I haven't had much time for reading anything new, so I thought I'd give a favorite a bump. 
  • ***
  • Reading level: Young Adult
  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Viking Juvenile (March 19, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 067001110X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0670011100
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.7 x 1.4 inches
  • Get it on Amazon here

  • Buy Indie
"Dead girl walking," the boys say in the halls.
"Tell us your secret," the girls whisper, one toilet to another.
I am that girl.
I am the space between my thighs, daylight shining through.
I am the bones they want, wired on a porcelain frame.


Lia and Cassie are best friends, wintergirls frozen in matchstick bodies, competitors in a deadly contest to see who can be the skinniest. But what comes after size zero and size double-zero? When Cassie succumbs to the demons within, Lia feels she is being haunted by her friend's restless spirit.

In her most emotionally wrenching, lyrically written book since the multiple-award-winning Speak, Laurie Halse Anderson explores Lia's descent into the powerful vortex

2 Comments on Friday Book Recommendation: Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson, last added: 11/5/2011
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37193. Stripes and Polka Dots

Well the topic for Illustration Friday is Stripes. I just got samples of some of the product that I licensed and was planning on putting photos here. Since the are striped and polka dotted I thought I would do it for the topic as well. Here are the dogs and cats in stripes and polka dots. They are in stores for Christmas. I love getting samples.


7 Comments on Stripes and Polka Dots, last added: 11/8/2011
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37194. Hosting the Bishop

We are hosting the Bishop this weekend.  And his wife.

I know, it sounds intimidating...a little overwhelming...and probably pretentious.

All of which is why I get a chuckle out of saying it, because the truth is so underwhelming.  They are the easiest people to be with.

And they have a busy schedule, so they're not even here all the time.  Well, one or the other, and then both for the last day. And we're eating out several times, so it's not like I have to come up with scads of meals to serve.

That is the most overwhelming part to me, with any visitor.  Have I ever mentioned on this blog that I don't particularly enjoy spending time in the kitchen?  It's not that I hate cooking...there are just so many other things I'd usually rather do.

I am giving them brunch today.  Tonight is easy--we have a soup supper at church, and I did make chili and brownies to contribute. Tomorrow Mrs. Bishop and I will go out for breakfast, and tomorrow night there is a group going out for pizza.  I don't know if my digestive system can handle much besides the bread there, but I'm grateful not to have to cook!  On Sunday, we are having a special All Saints' service, the Bishop is confirming a couple parishioners, there is a reception afterward, and then we'l have lunch out with the Bishop, Mrs. Bishop, and Mr. and Mrs. Deacon.  Sunday night I finally get to serve them a meal, and I know they will want something light by that time--and I won't be able to spend that one afternoon in the kitchen--so we are having tacos.  No, that's not a typo.

It's great that their visit falls at the same time as one of our best church events--our semi-annual Talent Show!  After our soup supper, we'll have entertainment that ranges from humorous to serious, from piano solos to a boys' band, from first graders reciting poetry to my70-something in-laws singing "Ah Yes, I Remember It Well" (from Gigi).  Papa Rooster and I are singing a duet from Fiddler on the Roof called "Do You Love Me?" about a couple who've been married for 25 years.  Our 25th is next month, so it was the perfect choice.

And Blondechick is coming home from college for it!

Well, they are here...better put on my hostess cap!

1 Comments on Hosting the Bishop, last added: 11/4/2011
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37195. Illustration Friday: Stripes


Cats will do anything to find a sunny spot.
This is a painting of my old cat Biff who graced my life for nearly seventeen years.
He had malnutrition and pneumonia and weighed 5 pounds when I adopted (stole) him from his neglectful owners.
He showed his gratitude for life every single day.

Meanwhile, I started my new job at the veterinary hospital on Tuesday. I have put in nearly 30 hours in 3 days which is why I've been so scarce, yet again.
It will take some time to get acclimated to these hours, but so far it's going well.
Everyone is nice and helpful, but best of all I get to hold puppies again and greet so many new fur friends!
Oh, and getting a paycheck again? Priceless!

I hope to visit you all soon. It looks like I've missed a million posts!

xo
Lo♥

26 Comments on Illustration Friday: Stripes, last added: 11/8/2011
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37196. YA Movie News

-The cast of The Hunger Games posed for a photo with Vanity Fair. The article featured a great photo slideshow of Katniss, Peeta and Gale, (Peeta is just so cute-love him!!) as well as an interview with Jennifer Lawrence


-Gotham Group has acquired the rights to the novel Where Things Come Back by Cory Whaley. My friend Heather read this book and loved it, so I can't wait to read it!

-Publishers Weekly reported  that Davis Films has acquired the rights to P.C. and Kristin Cast's mega-popular vampire series House of Night

-J.K. Rowling revealed this week that she nearly killed off Ron Weasley! I'm so glad she didn't-he's one of my favorite characters!

-Once Upon a Time has been given a full season order from ABC. I like the show, but Mr. GreenBeanSexyMan and I both wonder how they'll continue the story past a season. I also really liked the premiere of Grimm and loved that the aunt was a librarian!:) Did you watch either one?

-If you're hooked on Pretty Little Liars, good news! Pretty Little Liars will return on January 2 followed by The Lying Game on ABC Family. 

-Lots of Hunger Games news from Cynopsis Kids:
Scholastic unveils plans to publish a fourth movie tie-in title for The Hunger Games movie, which opens in theaters March 23, 2012. The newest title, The Hunger Games Tribute Guide, a guide to the 24 Tributes featured in movie, will release on February 7, 2012, the same day as two other previously announced tie-in titles, The Hunger Games: Movie Tie-In Edition and The Hunger Games: Official Illustrated Movie        Companion.  Another already announced tie-in title, The World of The Hunger Games, will be released simultane

6 Comments on YA Movie News, last added: 11/6/2011
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37197. Review of Picture Book Three By The Sea by Mini Grey

Three by the Sea
by Mini Grey
Reading Level: Ages 4 and up
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers (April 5, 2011)
ISBN-13: 978-0375867842
My Rating: 4/5 stars
Source: Review copy from publisher

You know when you read a picture book, and the artwork and the writing work beautifully together that they feel almost inseparable? That’s what I experienced when I read, and re-read, Three by the Sea by Mini Grey. The text didn’t tell the entire story–the illustrations told us the rest, and the reader had to look at the illustrations to understand the things that the text didn’t tell us. The text also flowed well and never stumbled, telling the story in an appealing way, and the illustrations were whimsical and drew me in.

In Three By the Sea, three friends–a cat, a mouse, and a dog–all live happily together, each doing their own work to help each other out. But when a fox salesman comes along, he sows discontent and suspicion, and after a big fight and then a crisis, the three friends have to figure out what they mean to each other and how to be happy. And figure it out they do, with a few changes.

I love the way it’s so clear, without telling us outright, that the salesman means no good even though he’s saying he does, and that free is not really free (at least from salesmen). And I also love how Grey suggests that advertisements can make us unhappy by suggesting we need or want things that we don’t actually need or want and were quite happy without. I also took from Three By The Sea that ads and society can push stereotypes on us that don’t fit us at all, and that friendship and love can be stronger than any disagreement. Friends can be family. There are good messages in this book without being didactic; instead, they are woven into the story.

Grey’s illustrations are quirky, expressive, and layered with texture, and are pleasing to the eye. The illustrations and panels move the story along visually; we see the wet fox salesman arriving on the beach in one panel, and then his hand knocking on the friends’ door while we see them happy eating cheese fondue through the porthole window in the next panel. And the text moves well; there’s just enough on every page to tell the story well. This is an enjoyable story that underscores the importance of friendship and love, and living the way that feels right to you.

Recommended!

4 Comments on Review of Picture Book Three By The Sea by Mini Grey, last added: 11/8/2011
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37198. Book Review: Levi Strauss Gets a Bright Idea: A Fairly Fabricated Story of a Pair of Pants, by Tony Johnston (Harcourt, 2011)

Recommended for ages 5 and up.  


Author Tony Johnston, who has published more than 100 books for children, spins an old-fashioned tall tale based on the story of Levi Strauss and his "invention" of blue jeans in this new picture book.  Filled with colorful Western-style language and illustrated with great humor by Stacy Innerst, this book would make a terrific addition to a gold rush unit at school or a discussion of tall tales.

The story begins with a hilarious close-up of a bearded miner with quite a few missing teeth yelling "gold!" as the gold rush began.  But the miners' pants couldn't take the rough conditions of the gold field, and soon, according to this fanciful version, miners were working in their long johns, or "naked as a jaybird."  Fortunately for the miners, Levi Strauss arrived in California too late for the gold, but was "slick with a needle and scissors."  Soon Levi came up with some pants in which the miners "rushed, rushed, rushed" and no harm came to the pants!  And in an alternative history, Levi Strauss even helps found the city of San Francisco--with barrels!

In an afterword, Johnston relates that the story of Levi Strauss and his invention of blue jeans is "mostly legend with threads of truth, which my version stretches to near popping."  She provides some basic biographical facts on Levi Strauss, who while he may not have sewn any blue jeans, made them famous and became rich from manufacturing and selling them.


If you think you see the texture of blue jeans in the witty illustrations, you're right--illustrator Stacy Innerst painted directly on blue jeans to get just the right effect for this story.  You can even see the seams of the jeans in many of the images.  The stylized artwork, with its exaggerated facial expressions and earth tones, is a delightful fit for the tall tale aspect of this story.  Teachers could easily cut up some old denim for kids to paint on, making this story a fun inspiration for a craft activity as well.

1 Comments on Book Review: Levi Strauss Gets a Bright Idea: A Fairly Fabricated Story of a Pair of Pants, by Tony Johnston (Harcourt, 2011), last added: 11/5/2011
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37199. Find Your Inspiration

by Scott Rhoades

What inspires you to write better? I don't necessarily mean come up with a new story idea, although it could mean that. I mean, what gets your creative juices flowing and makes you want to write and improve your craft?

For me, it tends to be things that make me see the world in a different world. A new place (or a familiar place through someone else's eyes), a good poem, an unusual phrase, a new piece of music (or an old one presented in a new way)--all of these things make me want to create. Creation is play, and seeing something in a new or different way makes my mind want to play.

1 Comments on Find Your Inspiration, last added: 11/4/2011
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37200. Making NaNo progress.

8 Comments on Making NaNo progress., last added: 11/7/2011
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