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Look, I know it seems like all giveaways all the time on the blog, but I've been really slammed at work and haven't had time to read or review. Anyway... who can resist this crazy giveaway?! Thanks to Kimberley Griffiths Little and HarperCollins for sponsoring this great pre-order contest.
On November 4th
, HarperCollins unveils Forbidden
, a seductive YA debut from award-winning middle grade author Kimberley Griffiths Little. Forbidden
transports readers back in time to the deadly deserts and sweltering heat of Ancient Mesopotamia for a tale of danger, duty, and forbidden love. Jayden is on the brink of womanhood and betrothed to her tribe’s prince, cold-hearted Horeb. But when tragedy strikes, Jayden meets Kadesh, a mysterious visitor from the south who makes Jayden doubt everything she knows. Torn between loyalty to her tribe and the chance to escape her fate, Jayden must make a choice that will change her life forever.
Kimberley is also offering a HUGE preorder giveaway from October 6th to November 4th (release day!) to celebrate. See below for full details on how to enter.
(1) GRAND PRIZE WINNER:
- You must preorder Forbidden through an online retailer or your local bookstore, then email a photo of your receipt to email@example.com.
- Fill out the rafflecopter below
- US/Canada Only
- Ends at midnight EST on November 3, 2014
- Optional entries: share the trailer on your own site or social media, follow Kimberley on twitter, and tweet about the giveaway (can be repeated daily for extra entries!)
- Winners will be announced and contacted November 4th (release day!)
- If the winner does not respond with their mailing address within one week, a new winner will be chosen.
1. NEWLY RELEASED Kindle Fire HD6 Tablet
with 6" HD Display, Wi-Fi, Front and Rear Cameras, 8 GB -- choose your color! (Black, Magenta, White, Citron, or Cobalt)
2. GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNS by Rae Carson
3. CHAOS OF STARS by Kiersten White
4. Satin Belly Dance Skirt
5. Belly Dance 150-Coin Hip Scarf
6. Red Silk Veil (not pictured
7. Red Middle Eastern Earrings
8. Belly dance DVD: Sensual Belly Dance
with Blanca, a professional dancer (technique, choreography, and performances)
9. "Will YOU risk it all?" button (not pictured
10. Set of 10 Book Club Cards
11. Jeweled bookmark (not pictured
(1) SECOND PLACE WINNER:
1. GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNS by Rae Carson
2. Red Middle Eastern Earrings
3. Red Silk Veil (not pictured)
4. Belly dance DVD: Sensual Belly Dance
with Blanca, a professional dancer (technique, choreography, and performances)
5. "Will YOU risk it all?" button (not pictured
6. Set of 10 Book Club Cards
7. Jeweled bookmark (not pictured
(13) RUNNERS-UP WINNERS:
1. Red Middle Eastern Earrings
2. "Will YOU risk it all?" button (not pictured
3. Set of 10 Book Club Cards
4. Jeweled bookmark (not pictured
a Rafflecopter giveaway
| Barnes & Noble
In the unforgiving Mesopotamian desert where Jayden’s tribe lives, betrothal celebrations abound, and tonight it is Jayden’s turn to be honored. But while this union with Horeb, the son of her tribe’s leader, will bring a life of riches and restore her family’s position within the tribe, it will come at the price of Jayden’s heart.
Then a shadowy boy from the Southern Lands appears. Handsome and mysterious, Kadesh fills Jayden’s heart with a passion she never knew possible. But with Horeb’s increasingly violent threats haunting Jayden’s every move, she knows she must find a way to escape—or die trying.
With a forbidden romance blossoming in her heart and her family’s survival on the line, Jayden must embark on a deadly journey to save the ones she loves—and find a true love for herself.
Set against the brilliant backdrop of the sprawling desert, the story of Jayden and Kadesh will leave readers absolutely breathless as they defy the odds and risk it all to be together.
Award-winning author Kimberley Griffiths Little was born in San Francisco, but now lives in New Mexico on the banks of the Rio Grande with her husband and their three sons. Her middle-grade novels, When the Butterflies Came, The Last Snake Runner, The Healing Spell,
and Circle of Secrets
, have been praised as “fast-paced and dramatic,” with “beautifully realized settings.” Kimberley adores anything old and musty with a secret story to tell. She’s stayed in the haunted tower room at Borthwick Castle in Scotland; sailed the Seine in Paris; ridden a camel in Petra, Jordan; shopped the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul; and spent the night in an old Communist hotel in Bulgaria. You can visit her online at www.kimberleygriffithslittle.com
Share your thoughts on the trailer in the comments!
This is our second “Walking and Talking” installment by the clearly multi-talented Steve Sheinkin. This week? Jenni Holm discusses how she works and gives some background on the blood, sweat and tears that went into The Fourteenth Goldfish.
Be also sure to check out the first Walking and Talking with . . . John Corey Whaley. Big thanks to Steven too for letting me post these!
The Neustadt Festival -- culminating in The Tuner of Silences-author Mia Couto picking up the 2014 Neustadt International Prize for Literature -- started yesterday; see the full program.
Blog: The Children's Book Review
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, Best Sellers
, Chapter Books
, Current Affairs
, Social Graces
, Teens: Young Adults
, Jay Asher
, Penguin Group
, Trudy Ludwig
, Young Adult
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A conversation between Jay Asher and Trudy Ludwig the 50 States Against Bullying tour, bullying, teen suicide and how to create kinder and more caring communities.
I'm Brave is Kate & Jim McMullan's fifth book about things that go. When I was a book seller, these were my "go to" books for toddlers into all things that go. The McMullan's happen to be among the rare creators of picture books featuring garbage trucks. Considering the fervor with which many toddlers adore garbage trucks, I am always surprised by how few picture books about them are on
Mark Polizzotti -- translator of the forthcoming Yale University Press three-in-one collection by newly crowned Nobel laureate Patrick Modiano, Suspended Sentences (see their publicity page, or pre-order your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk) -- writes on Quiet Resonance: Translating Patrick Modiano at the YUP weblog, Yale Books Unbound.
By: Terry Hooper-Scharf,
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NEWSLETTER del 23/10/2014
HAMELIN 37 - TROPPE STORIE
È uscito il nuovo numero della rivista "Hamelin" con un approfondimento sulle storie e sulla narrazione
Su cosa sia cambiato nel narrare di oggi, su quanto sia rimasto della ritualità dello scrivere, e quanto invece di quella del leggere, in un mondo in cui il saper scrivere e raccontare è ormai appannaggio di copywriter, esperti di marketing, guru della comunicazione, e nel quale i social network impongono di raccontarsi sempre, raccontando nell'immediato sentimenti, emozioni, esperienze che finiscono per diventare nostre anche senza esserlo.
Se tutto è narrazione, cos'è narrazione?
È possibile acquistare "Hamelin" on-line
e nelle librerie specializzate
per ragazziAbbonati subito!
LE IMMAGINI DELLA FANTASIA
Sabato 25 ottobre alle ore 18:30, inaugura la 32esima edizione de Le immagini della fantasia, Mostra di Sarmede. Fino al 18 gennaio, la mostra offre un ampio sguardo sul mondo dell’illustrazione per l’infanzia, con una selezione di oltre trenta titoli provenienti da tutto il mondo, un focus dedicato alle fiabe dalla Scozia e il loro immaginario e con Giovanni Manna, ospite d'onore di questa edizione.
A lui Hamelin associazione culturale dedica il testo introduttivo del catalogo della mostra.
HAMELIN FA PARTE DI IBBY ITALIA
International Board on Books for Young People è una rete internazionale di persone, che provengono da 77 paesi e promuove la cooperazione internazionale attraverso i libri per bambini, creando ovunque per l'infanzia l'opportunità di avere accesso a libri di alto livello letterario e artistico e incoraggiando la pubblicazione e la distribuzione di libri di qualità per bambini specialmente nei Paesi in via di sviluppo. www.bibliotecasalaborsa.it/ragazzi/ibby/
Whilst on the subject of Urban Outfitters I thought I would have a look and see what was happening at the separate website for Urban Outfitters in the USA. I was pleased to find lots of colourful prints including this bright peacock 'woodland garden' shower curtain and wall art by Lotta Kuhlhorn.
By: Sharon Ledwith,
Boy Red is a story about identity, about where you come from and where you belong.
The day after his sixteenth birthday, Red discovers that the man he calls ‘Dad’is not his biological father. Will Red be able to track down the anonymous sperm donor who gave him life? What will he learn about himself along the way? And just what else are his parents hiding?
It was Saturday night, and Mum was up on the makeshift stage doing a classy number—that is to say Tina Turner complete with big h air and five-inch red heels. The booths were taken by the karaoke regulars clutching their song sheets and medallions. A throng of studded students drank cheap German beer at the bar, disappearing outside every few minutes for a smoke. Tourists dripping with backpacks chatted in a zillion different languages.
A few weeks ago, I told Mum I wanted low key, meaning a night out down the Lock with Si—no wigs, microphones, or other parental contributions in sight. But she would have none of it.
“Red, baby, you only turn sixteen once,”she’d said. “You’ve got to mark it in style. You’ve got to have a party.”
My name’s actually Jed, but everyone calls me Red. I share two things with Mick Hucknall: mad orange hair and a slightly odd face. Sadly, I don’t have his musical talents. Not like Mum. She wins a lot of prizes. It’s embarrassing to see her in her Cher wig and polka dot dress, but it could be worse. She could be something really boring like an accountant. Dad’s an academic. He’s a professor of science. They make for a strange combo, but Camden caters for all sorts. The posh and the rough rub shoulders every day. Not that I’m saying Mum’s rough or anything, but her Madonna impersonations can make for scary viewing.
So there I was down at the local pub, staring at the purple swirly carpet, starting to feel nauseous. My sixteenth birthday party. It may as well have been musical chairs and pin the tail on the donkey. It was that bad. My six-year-old brother, Freddie, sat smirking in the corner while Mum warbled out her rendition of City Limits. Dave, the karaoke organiser, all burly biceps in a frilly pink shirt, tapped his right foot in time to the music. Dad smiled amiably at the bar as he downed an orange juice. That man lacked the capacity for embarrassment. He must have a gene missing or something.
“Your mum’s reading the lines off a television. Where’s the harm in it?”he reasoned. He could be so rational, it was maddening.
Si was chatting up a pair of Asian twins who’d just finished their version of The Cheeky Girls’ “Touch My Bum.” He winked at me to join him, while Mum carried on gyrating in red polyester as she reached the climax.
“Dad. Dad!” Freddie tugged at Dad’s jeans.
Dad checked his watch, stood up, and cleared his throat. Uh-oh.
“Oh, yes. Thank you, Freddie. Gaye!”
Mum smiled at Dave as she gripped the microphone. “Thank you, everybody. I have a little announcement to make,” she said. The shrieks and applause died down, leaving a low hum of conversation. The Cheeky Girls stopped drinking their Barcardi Breezers and looked expectantly at Mum. They wore white PVC hot pants and matching kneehigh boots. They were hot all right. Not the type of girls I wanted around to witness this kind of embarrassment. I looked on in horror and considered my options. This would have been a good time to escape to the bog, but Dad had already covered that one by asking Dave’s brother, Stu, to keep guard. Dad’s best mate, Phil, stood to my right, smiling inanely at me. There was nowhere to run. So I downed half of Stu’s pint instead. He didn’t seem to mind. Just winked.
“Okay, guys and girls,” continued Mum, running her hands through her wig. “I hope you’ll all join me in wishing our Red a very happy sixteenth birthday.”
I’d never get served alcohol in here after that. It was all right for girls, they always got served. The Cheeky Girls couldn’t have been much older than I was, and they were knocking them back.
Stu waved manically over my head for the benefit of anyone who might not know who the lucky boy was. The Cheeky Girls whispered to each other and raised their collective eyebrows as I fixed a boomerang smile on my face.
“Ha-a-a-a-ppy birthday to you, Happy birthday to you…”Mum had gone into Marilyn Monroe mode, all silly girly voice, while Dave brought out a blue football cake fit for a five year old, complete with sixteen flaming candles. It was excruciating.
When the humiliation was over, Mum came over and kissed me on the forehead and ruffled my already wild hair, just to add insult to injury.
“I think that needs a cut, mister,” she said.
I looked at Freddie’s smooth pudding basin cut performed by Mum the day before and shuddered. I didn’t think so.
I’d always been the odd one out with my orange mane. Jokes about the milkman were rife.
I blew out my candles and cut the cake as a million digital cameras flashed in my face. Another one for the family album.
It was all so normal. Well, normal as far as my family went anyway.
There were even napkins.
Want to know more about S. D. Everingtion? You can find her at http://www.shantaeverington.co.uk/
or on Twitter @ShantaEverAfter.
You can take running anywhere and you can let it take you everywhere.
Running will open you up to an entire new world…
…a new community. Friendships, relationships, instant connections. “I’m a runner too.”
The lessons you learn as a runner apply to all areas of life. It will make you stronger.
Physically. Mentally. Emotionally. Tougher.
Being a runner means you will DREAM. Not with eyes closed, but rather with eyes squinted thought beads of sweat.
Running will take you to new places both literally and metaphorically. It will SHOW you new places within yourself.
Oh, that places you’ll run. #ohtheplacesyoullrun
UPDATE!!! Do not fret, the Arty Runnerchick is still alive and kicking. I’ve been working on quite a few exciting projects which I will be sharing with you soon!
While that means I haven’t been able to update the blog as frequently as I’d like, I AM updating my INSTAGRAM page daily…so be sure to follow me there to catch everything there first! I’m also on Twitter
In case you’ve not checked it out, I’ve got new articles published on the WRITING page, particularly a lot under the RunBlogRun section.
There is also new art available on the ART page.
Keep running, My Friends, and talk soon!!
Also be sure to SHOP EZZERE!
Blog: Perpetually Adolescent
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Book Reviews - Fiction
, Michael Kitto
, An Amorous Discourse in the Suburbs of Hell
, Black Vodka
, deborah levy
, Man Booker
, Swimming Home
, The Unloved
, Things I Don't Want to Know
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Have you ever found an author that you just want to recommend to everyone you meet? The type of author that you just want to read over and over again. I found this author in 2012 and I am slowly working through her backlist. The first book I read of hers I loved so much […]
By: David Chuka,
It’s Author Interview Thursday and I’m so glad you’ve joined me and my special guests today. I got in touch with our special guests back in June and due to my schedule and theirs, we had to delay the interview but I’m so glad they’ll be sharing their journey as authors with us today. We get the special privilege of seating with a mother-daughter team who’ve found a unique way to combine their creative talents without ever having the local police come to break up a fight. They write in different genres and I was very impressed by their willingness to explore different channels to expose their books to a new audience. Pull your chair a little bit closer and join me in welcoming Helen adn Lorri Carpenter.
Can you tell us about the first time someone complimented you on something you wrote?
It may not have been the first time, but we do remember a compliment we received from a reader in North Carolina who sent a greeting card via postal mail. He said that though he knew our story wasn’t true, he had found it laugh-out-loud funny, and he thought something like that could happen to anyone…and had in fact, happened to him.
We wrote back to express our appreciation for his card, and to tell him the story—which involved us getting locked out of the house and having to climb in through the bathroom window—was indeed true. We also admitted it was less funny at the time…
What can a reader expect when they pick up a book written by HL Carpenter?
We write sweet, clean stories the whole family can enjoy. We like to picture our readers snuggled under the bed covers or curled up on the couch or in a sunny window seat, lost in the world we’ve created.
We’re partial to strong, practical, intelligent female protagonists who have a steadfast friend or two with a sense of humor, and a supportive if exasperating family or family substitute. So those are things readers will find in most of our books too.
Helen and Lorri, you co-write books together. Can you tell us a unique challenge this situation presents and how you both overcome it?
We write collaboratively and the challenge is what you’d expect—we sometimes get into disagreements because we each love our words. We find that a reasonable “cooling off” period helps eliminate most of the conflict.
Having a poor memory is useful too.
You’ve successfully written in different genres. Can you tell us the advantages and disadvantages of this?
We tend to get bored easily, so switching genres is a great way to keep the ideas and the words flowing. Another advantage is that there’s always something new to learn, because each genre has its own peculiarities. Hey, we resemble that remark!
Disadvantages include the problem of marketing. We’re readers too, so we understand the desire to know what to “expect” from a writer. On the other hand, as authors, we dislike being boxed in.
Some authors solve this problem by creating pseudonyms for different types of writing. We think keeping up with one persona is enough work, and we figure our readers are plenty smart. If we clearly label our stories, readers won’t be confused.
What have you found to be a successful way to market your books?
Yeah. Marketing. The slow, one-reader at a time method seems to be our default mode. We’ve had the best results with guest posts like this one (thanks for the opportunity, David!) and old-school techniques like giving out bookmarks.
We’re trying new things, too—for example, we entered our cozy mystery, A Cause for Murder, in the new Amazon Kindle Scout program. The program is essentially crowd sourcing. That is, readers nominate books for a publishing contract. While there’s plenty of chatter about how the program might not be very beneficial for authors, we’re generally open to trying new things. We figure one of the perks of being an indie author is the opportunity to experiment with different venues and opportunities. So we read the contract and decided to participate.
Annnnnnddd…we’re pleased to announce the launch for A Cause for Murder is Monday, October 27!
An excerpt and an author interview will be available on Amazon that day. We’ll let you know how the “cozy” marketing experiment goes.
What three things should writers avoid when writing dialogue?
“We’re not fans of fancy dialogue tags,” they said.
If “said” isn’t enough after dialogue, then something is wrong with the sentence. The reader should know what’s going on from the words, not because the writer has added a description of the way the words are supposed to sound.
Based on editing comments we’ve gotten, another thing to avoid is overuse of character names. “Not that we would know personally of course, David,” they said.
Finally, we think words no one actually ever uses outside of crossword puzzles should generally be avoided…unless your hero is a naturally pompous speaker. “I really must request elucidation on that prohibition,” the hero said.
I’m fascinated to know what your definition of success as an author is?
Our definition changes. When we started writing, we thought finishing a complete manuscript (an entire book, whee!) meant success. Then we thought having an editor respond favorably to our query meant success. Once that happened, we thought being successful meant getting published.
Now…hmmm…let’s see… oh, yes! Reaching the bestseller list and having a book optioned for a movie is definitely success.
After that happens…well, we’ll create the next definition when we get there.
What book or film has the best dialogue that inspires you to be a better writer and why?
Pretty much anything by Dean Koontz. His characters pulse off the page and his descriptions…well, we don’t have suitable words to express our admiration. Plus he’s funny!
Toy Story or Shrek?
Toy Story. A sweet cowboy hero, what could be better?
What three things should a first time visitor to Florida do?
Stop comparing Florida to the place you came from. Slather on buckets of sunscreen. Sit on the beach wearing a floppy straw hat and snooze.
For maximum enjoyment, do all three of those things at once.
What can we expect from HL Carpenter in the next 12 months?
Well, first, as we mentioned, we’re excited to announce our cozy mystery, A Cause for Murder, will launch in the new Amazon Kindle Scout program on Monday, October 27!
Here’s an exclusive sneak peek at the cover. An excerpt and an author interview will be available on Amazon at launch on Monday, and readers can vote to nominate A Cause for Murder for a publishing contract.
We also have a middle grade novel featuring a ghost that will be ready by year end. And we’re working on another young adult fantasy and a series of themed short stories that will be finished in 2015.
We have a busy year lined up!
Where can readers and fans connect with you?
You’ll find us in Carpenter Country, a magical place that, like our stories, is unreal but not untrue. We invite you to visit http://www.hlcarpenter.com/ and sign up for our newsletter to keep up with what’s happening in Carpenter Country.
Or you can catch up with us at
Any advice for authors out there who are either just starting out or getting frustrated with the industry?
You’ll probably hear about the difficulty of breaking into today’s overcrowded market and the impossible odds of ever reaching the best-seller list. Those things are true.
The market has always been overcrowded and the odds have always been impossible. You can’t win the lottery if you never buy a ticket.
Thanks for being with us today Helen and Lorri. I’ve been inspired by the nuggets of wisdom you’ve shared with us today. I also applaud your efforts to try different paths and enjoy the journey along the way. I hope you’ve gained something from my interview with Helen and Lorri. You can share this interview on various social platforms by clicking one of the links below. We’d also be happy to entertain any questions, comments or differing points of view you may have.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] Good morning, Chrys! Describe yourself in five words or less.
[Chrys Fey] Rock obsessed auntie who writes.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about 30 Seconds?
[Chrys Fey] 30 Seconds is a romantic-suspense novella about a woman who finds herself in the middle of a war between a police force and the Mob.
When Officer Blake Herro agreed to go undercover in the Mob, he thought he understood the risks. But he’s made mistakes and now an innocent woman has become their target. He’s determined to protect her at all costs.
The Mob’s death threat turns Dr. Dani Hart’s life upside down, but there is one danger she doesn’t anticipate. As she’s dodging bullets, she’s falling in love with Blake. With danger all around them, will she and Blake survive and have a happy ending, or will the Mob make good on their threat?
[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you share your favorite scene?
[Chrys Fey] Oh there are so many! My favorite action scene is when Dani Hart runs from the Mob. They chase her out of the hospital where she works, down a packed street in the heart of Cleveland, and into an alley. They openly shoot at her, too, not caring that civilians are everywhere. It’s an intense, heart-pounding scene. I also love the scene when Dani and Blake have a snowball fight. It’s light and funny, a moment they desperately needed.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What did you enjoy most about writing this book?
[Chrys Fey] Getting to know Blake and Dani. They were interesting characters from the first time they popped into my head. Blake arrived thanks to a dream and Dani showed up shortly after I had a layover in the Cleveland, Ohio airport on my way to Michigan. Dani is a tough doctor who loves rock music and horror movies. Blake is a sexy cop who struggles with his commitment to protect Dani due to his growing desires.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What’s one thing you won’t leave home without?
[Chrys Fey] Chap Stick.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] Name three things on your desk right now.
[Chrys Fey] A witch’s cauldron that I turned into a writer’s cauldron with pens, pencils and scrap paper, “Queen of the Damned” by Anne Rice, and my Skull Candy headphones.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What’s your favorite snack when you’re working on a deadline?
[Chrys Fey] Sandwiches are my go to meal if I work through lunch, but when it gets to be around two or three in the afternoon anything sweet will do.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] If you could trade places with anyone for just one day, who would you be?
[Chrys Fey] I would trade places with my character Dani to spend some time with Blake, a sexy police officer. Do you blame me? *wink*
[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?
[Chrys Fey] I would want the power to blink my body from one place to another, so I could go to all the places I’ve dreamed about visiting, like Ireland, Venice, and London.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What are some books that you enjoyed recently?
[Chrys Fey] Moonless by Crystal Collier, Butterman (Time) Travel, Inc by PK Hrezo, and Twelve Sharp by Janet Evanovich.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] How can readers connect with you?
Chrys Fey] I am very active on Facebook and my blog. I love to read and reply back to comments from readers; it’s the highlight of my day.
Title: 30 Seconds
Author: Chrys Fey
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Length: Novella (105 pages)
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Published: September 10th, 2014
Chrys Fey is a lover of rock music just like Dani Hart in 30 Seconds. Whenever she’s writing at her desk, headphones are always emitting the sounds of her musical muses -especially that of her favorite band, 30 Seconds to Mars, the inspiration behind the title.
30 Seconds is her second eBook with The Wild Rose Press. Her debut, Hurricane Crimes, is also available on Amazon.
Discover her writing tips on her blog, and connect with her on Facebook. She loves to get to know her readers!
The post Interview with Chrys Fey, Author of 30 Seconds appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.
Assuming that children understand the elements of a story is assuming too much. These elements must be taught if they are meant to be used in the writing process.
By: Bowie Style,
Blog: print & pattern
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And finally today I am back at Urban Outfitters in the UK and Europe to see what patterns are available. This tribal feather print caught my eye along with some geometric fashion prints.
By: Terry Hooper-Scharf,
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London-based design company Rude, renowned for its distinctive use of colour, text and pattern, have collaborated with Urban Outfitters on a number of new products, Rude was started in 1999 by illustrators Rupert Meats and Abi Williams who began printing their own books, stationery and homewares after becoming disillusioned with the graphic design industry. This new range is exclusive to Urban
I shouldn't be blogging.
I should be grading papers.
I should be reading students' blog posts.
I should be sending post-conference follow-up emails to parents.
I should be watching training videos for my new school laptop.
I should be deconstructing standards and digging into resources.
I should be reading so I have something to blog about.
I should be doing amazing things in my classroom so I have something to blog about.
I should be reading the blogs of our faithful blog readers.
I should be cleaning the house.
Remember at the end of last summer, when we went to Vermont on a fly fishing trip
...and didn't catch any fish? And how I vowed to "catch" a "trout" every day of the school year so that no matter what kind of picture the high stakes testing paints of my students, I will be able to look back on a year full of great moments of learning and joy?
I've got a "creel" full of fish.
We're 40+ days into the school year, and in my special little purple Moleskine I have 40+ "trout." Some days when I look back, they make me laugh, or swell up with pride. Some days I get a little teary.
At the exhaustion end of Parent Conference Night, a dad told about organizing his 30th high school class reunion, and how much it meant to him and the others who attended that some of their elementary school teachers attended. Even their first grade teacher was there. "You are making a difference in these students' lives, you know," he said. "You have no idea right now how the seeds you plant will turn out, but you are planting seeds for the future."
The next day, I got an email from a student who was in one of my looping classes 10 years ago. I helped to get her on an IEP back then. She's a junior in college now and she wanted to come interview me for one of her classes. She just switched her major. To education.
All the "I shoulds" will have to wait. I have some seeds to plant. I have some fish to catch.
The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Dutch-writing Iranian author Kader Abdolah's The King, now also available in the US in an edition from New Directions.
Blog: Ink Splot 26
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Book Wars: Harry Potter vs. Percy Jackson
Attention all fantasy readers! You’ll want to get in on this week’s book war, because I will be comparing two of the most popular fantasy series there are: Harry Potter vs. Percy Jackson & The Olympians.
People have been saying for years that the two series are similar in character and plot, but I’m about to take a deeper look to find out. So, are you a Potterhead or are you a Demigod? Can you be both?
To begin the comparison, let’s start with the two main protagonists. Harry and Percy are both unlikely heroes with difficult backgrounds. Harry’s parents were killed when he was just a baby, and he was forced to live with his horrible Aunt Petunia and Uncle Vernon and his vile cousin, Dudley. Percy was raised by his mother and his awful step-father, Gabe Ugliano. Both children were bullied because they were weak and scrawny and no one really cared about them.
Harry and Percy also share some similar traits. Harry and Percy both have a “saving people thing” because they always want to help someone in danger. They are also known to be witty and sarcastic, but incredibly loyal to their friends.
Finally, Harry and Percy are the “Chosen One” and the “Child of the Prophecy” meaning that they are the only people who can save the world because of a prophecy written about them.
Now let’s compare some of the other characters.
The main female protagonists, Hermione Granger and Annabeth Chase, are both the most intelligent characters in each series. They always know the answer for everything and always have a plan, but Annabeth is more of a warrior than Hermione.
And let’s not forget about the lovable best friends. Ron Weasley and Grover Underwood are the two main characters’ best friends. They are similar in that they are both easily scared, funny, and have a love of food. The only difference would be the fact that Grover has goat legs . . .
And, of course, we have the villains. There are the main bad guys, Lord Voldemort and Kronos, and also the conflicted henchmen, Draco Malfoy and Luke Castellan.
Another similarity in the series would be the plot. Both books are about two children who become heroes and have to save the world. They both involve a prophecy, magic, and myth.
So what do you think? How similar are these two series? And are you a fan of HP or PJO? Leave your opinion in the Comments.
Izzy, Scholastic Kids Council
PS. Emma Rose weighs in on the debate in her video. Ari is also a PJO fan. He says, “The books are exciting. It is fun to see Greek Mythology come alive in the present day. Percy, the son of Poseidon, must learn to survive and protect both the mortal and the immortal worlds.”
In July, I wrote a post about how I keep organized, both in reading/reviewing and then all that other stuff I do during the day.
After a conversation on twitter this week, I realized I left off something important: The Reading Binder. It's a source of awe and good-natured ribbing in some circles, and it's the only way I can handle award and booklist committee work. (I wasn't on committee in July, so I forgot about it.)
What you need:
1. A 3-ring binder
2. Tabbed separators
3. Loose leaf paper
4. 3-hole punch
The first section is for administrative stuff. I print out committee policies and procedures, schedules, rosters, and contracts/agreements I had to sign, etc. This is so I can always go back and look, and be reminded of what we're doing. When I chaired Outstanding Books for the College Bound, I also had another section of chair stuff, which was more of the same, but chair-specific. Also, because Outstanding Books was such an overwhelming charge, I had another section with articles about the history of the list, and another one with previous lists.
The next section is for the actual books. The first page is my at-a-glance sheet, which I'll explain more about later. In the book section, each nominated book gets its own page (or more.) For YALSA committees, there's an actual nomination form that gets sent out for each book, with citation info, annotation, and why it was nominated. I would copy this form into Word and add a picture of the book cover and print it out. For my reading notes, I make them on the back of this sheet, or tape them on, or make them on a sheet of loose leaf that I then put in the binder with the nomination form. For committees that don't have a nice nomination form (like Cybils), each book gets a sheet of looseleaf with my notes. The form my notes tend to take are things I jot down while reading and then after I finish, a paragraph or more of my thoughts about a book, including strengths and weaknesses as a contender for whatever I'm evaluating it for.
There are some various levels of organization within this section. When I was on Nonfiction, there were 2 sections--one for books I hadn't read yet with just the nomination forms, and one for the books I had read. On Outstanding Books, I had to keep an eye on all sections, and had a different section for each sublist (this was helpful when I had to run meetings, too.) Within the "have read" section, I find it's most useful to put the notes and forms in the order they'll be discussed at meetings. (Usually in the order they were nominated.)
The organization in this area will vary depending on the committee. It will also vary during committee time. Nonfiction had a short list, which was announced in December, but the actual winner wasn't decided until midwinter, when it was announced. After we made the short list, I pulled those nominations to the front, away from the ones that we were no longer considering. On Outstanding Books, we narrowed the list down a bit before midwinter, so I pulled out the books that were no longer under consideration.
Now the first page of this section is the at-a-glance page. The at-a-glance is a spreadsheet print-out. There's a column for the name of the book, a box where I can check if I've read it, and a box for brief notes (maybe a sentence or two). This is also color-coded (time to break out your highlighters.) I use a basic green/yellow/red coding system (it's a traffic light) green are for the books I love and I'll cry if they don't make it to the finals. Red is the books I loathe and I'll cry if they do make it to the finals. Yellow is for everything else. YES, there is also a spring green and orange level. The at-a-glance is for when I need a quick snapshot of where my thinking is on the list as a whole. This is something that needs to be redone (and reprinted out) on a regular basis--at least once a month--as more titles are added and my thinking about the books shifts.
This is different from my status page, which is usually in my date book. This is a list of all the books I haven't read yet, and whether or not they're checked out/on hold/at a different library/need to buy/have an ARC/review copy is coming/etc. (Also, due dates and how many renewals I have left). I then just cross the book off the list when it's read and hand-write in more titles as they're nominated. This is something I have to redo weekly.
Also, let's talk meeting notes. Grab your looseleaf! When you have a face-to-face meeting or a group call or chat and take notes... notes on general committee stuff get files int he admin front section. Notes on titles are appended on the end of my notes on a title. (as are re-read notes.) For committees where things are just discussed on email (and committees that use email in addition to face-to-face), I usually just save the email in a separate folder, but I will jot down some things that other people mentioned if I'm thinking about them and am working on a response.
Now, obviously, the make-up of the binder and how things work changes a bit with each committee, as they require different things, but this is the overall idea of how I work.
Is there a Cybils binder? I'm in the process. I'm on second-round, so I have just over a month to look at 5 books, so I don't really need a binder. But, I'm reading a lot of the nominations now, partly as a personal armchair, but also just to be ready to go when January 1st rolls around. I'm putting together a binder so I can remember my thoughts and feelings on any titles that make it to the second round.
What's your system for tracking committee or other assigned reading? Do you have any questions about my crazy binders full of books?
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Gracefully Grayson by Ami Polonsky. Hyperion, an imprint of Disney Book Group. 2014. Reviewed from ARC.The Plot
: Grayson Sender is twelve years old.
Grayson is lonely, even surrounded by classmates, even at home, living with cousins, an aunt and uncle.
Grayson is lonely in part because of Grayson's parents death years ago, leading to Grayson being the odd child out at home.
Grayson is lonely because Grayson cannot connect with others because Grayson is hiding the most important part of who Grayson is.
In Gracefully Grayson
, Grayson gradually gains trust and friends until Grayson can reveal the truth: that Grayson is a girl inside. Grayson is a transgender girl.The Good
: I'll be honest Grayson broke my heart, because of how lonely she is. Of how unable to connect with those around her.
At school, Grayson tries out for the play and takes her first step towards her true self by asking to play the part of a girl. One of the happy-tear moments I had was -- spoilers -- when the cast welcomed Grayson, became her friend, treated her like they'd treat anyone else.
Then there were the sad-tears of those who bullied Grayson, and of Grayson's aunt who believes that Grayson is in part causing the problems by not continuing to hide her truth.
And I cried at all the things Grayson did, in hiding. Doodling pictures of girls, but doing it in such a way that people wouldn't know. "If you draw a a triangle with a circle resting on the top point, nobody will be able to tell that it's a girl in a dress. To add hair, draw kind of a semicircle on top. If you do this, you'll be safe, because it looks like you're just doodling shapes.
Loving glitter pens and being prepared with lies to explain why she has the purple and pink ones.
Wearing a sweatband to pretend it's a hairband.
Pretending basketball pants and a t-shirt are somehow a gown, with the wide pants a full skirt.
And how important it is to Grayson, to anyone, to have their own truth by the truth others see. That it's harmful, the years and the lies of pretending to be something other than who she is.
At the end of Gracefully Grayson
, someone tells Grayson that "I know it may feel like there are people who are against you, but I want you to remember that most people in the world are good. Look for the people who extend a hand to you. And when they do take it.
" This, in a nutshell, sums up the book. There are people against Grayson, for various reasons. But there are just as many good people in Grayson's world.
And the question left to the reader is this: is the reader one of the good ones? Does the reader extend a hand to those around them?
I'm making this one of my Favorite Books of 2014
, because it is such a beautiful book and Grayson is such an endearing twelve year old.Links
: author interview at Diversity in YA
; Bookfabulous Review
; Robert Bittner Review at Gay YA
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© Elizabeth Burns of A Chair, A Fireplace & A Tea Cozy
By: Maeve Friel
Blog: An Awfully Big Blog Adventure
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By diversity, they mean “books by and about all kinds of people… boys, girls, all different colours, all different races and religions, all different sexualities and all different disabilities and anything else you can think of – so our books don’t leave anyone out.”
Benjamin Zephaniah whose Terror Kid is the Guardian Teen Book Club choice says:
“I love diversity. I love multiculturalism… It makes Britain´s music interesting. It makes our food interesting. It makes our literature interesting and it makes for a more interesting country … To me it’s not about black, white, Asian; it’s about literature for everybody.”
And there you have it: the criterion must be the quality of the literature. I see little value in writing or publishing books to satisfy some sort of quota to reflect the percentages of ethnic or racial populations or other minorities.
The Guardian published a list of 50 books
chosen to represent all manner of cultural diversity, from the amazing Amazing Grace by Mary Hoffman to Oranges in No Man´s Land by Elizabeth Laird.
Here are a few of my favourite books that are outstanding in every way and that also open windows on to different ways of seeing the world.
The Arrival, by Shaun Tan, is a wordless book about the experience of emigration/immigration, following the lonely journey of a man to a new country where everything is different and inexplicable. (He signed my copy when he spoke at a Children´s Books Ireland conference a few years ago and it is one of most treasured possessions.)
Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi, is a graphic novel based on her experiences during the cultural and political upheaval of the Iranian revolution after the overthrown of the Shah. This is a real eye-opener from the first pages showing tiny girls swathed in unfamiliar and unwanted veils in their school playground.
My Dad´s A Birdman, by David Almond, illustrated joyfully and colourfully by Polly Dunbar, is a terrific book about a young girl and her dad who is so overwhelmed with grief that he goes off the rails. It is suffused with love and tenderness and faith in the act of flying as Dad and daughter take part in a madcap and magical contest to sprout wings and fly across the river.
by R.J. Palacio is the story of Auggie, a boy with a shocking facial disfigurement who is
grade after years of home schooling: imagine how he is dreading it - “I won´t describe what I look like. Whatever you´re thinking, it´s probably worse.
I would like to add two more joyful books to the mix:
From Tangerine Books, a wonderful picture book
, Larry and Friends, by Ecuadorian illustrator Carla Torres in collaboration with Belgian/Venezuelan writer Nat Jasper celebrating the modern melting pot that is New York.
Larry, the New York dog, holds a party for all his amazing immigrant friends among them Magpa the pig from Poland who became a tightrope artist, Laila the Iranian entomologist, Edgar the Colombian alligator street musician, Ulises, the Greek cook and a host of other talented and tolerant newcomers to the city – all apparently based on real people and how they met up.
The book project was successfully funded by kickstarter – see more about it here
As you can see, the illustrations are divine - this is Layla, the Iranian entomologist who works at the museum.
And finally, another great classic is The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats (1963), possibly one of the earliest American picture books to feature a young African-American hero – although this is never mentioned in the text. It simply tells the story of a young four year old boy discovering snow in the city for the first time.
You can also find me on Twitter @MaeveFriel