I have interviewed several winners and runners-up of the SCBWI winter conference portfolio competition and it is my pleasure to welcome this year’s winner to the blog today, MIKA SONG. Congratulations on your win! And we have promised each other to … Continue readingAdd a Comment
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Blog: Miss Marple's Musings (Login to Add to MyJacketFlap)
JacketFlap tags: children's books, Illustrators, Interview, picture book, creating an art portfolio, Illustrator interview, mika song, New York, scbwi awards, Add a tag
Blog: Miss Marple's Musings (Login to Add to MyJacketFlap)
JacketFlap tags: Award Winning Picture Book Reviews, Perfect Picture Book Friday, Caldecott Medal, Lauren Castillo, NANA IN THE CITY, New York, picture books, Add a tag
Don’t you just love the serendipitous discovery that one of your favorite picture books of the previous year that you already have scheduled for this Friday’s Perfect Picture Books just happens to have won a well deserved Caldecott Honor Award … Continue readingAdd a Comment
Blog: warrior princess dream (Login to Add to MyJacketFlap)
JacketFlap tags: candace camling, illustration, illustrator, ink, new york, pen, sahm, SCBWI, sketchbook, the daily sketch, Add a tag
I am so unbelievably blessed with some very open, honest, and funny girlfriends. I've always been one who struggles with friends, but as an adult, I believe I have some of the best and strongest relationships I never thought possible.
One of these friends is fellow illustrator and work from home mom, Candace Camling. We are so much a like, yet so very different, and I adore this about our relationship. We can be very honest, borderline offensive honest, and still want to talk to each other. I find this very special and I treasure it.
|"Explore all the World" illustration by Candace Camling|
She's on her way to New York today for a very important trip. She's attending the SCBWI conference where she will be presenting her top notch portfolio to directors, editors, and participating in the illustrator event (sorry, I don't know ALL the details). She's on her way to the top as a children's book illustrator.
I thought of her this morning as she's beginning this fun adventure. I've been able to help her out with printing her portfolio, and I am very honored to be there for her. She helps me out by being my soundboard for those really rough days and nights all about being mom or struggling artist.
She's my light for today, reminding myself that you get what you put in. She puts in long hours, money, perseverance, and hope for her career, and I'm inspired by that.
Visit Candace's blog and her portfolio!!!
Blog: John Nez (Login to Add to MyJacketFlap)
JacketFlap tags: illustration, Manhattan, New York, NYC, Parsons, Add a tag
I've been re-reading 'The Time Machine' and today feels very much like I've taken a trip back in time.
But it was when I looked at the window at the view that I signed the lease without a doubt. The Museum of Natural History is just down the block. It was such an adventure to just look out the window in the mornings watching people going to work.
Blog: Write From Karen (Login to Add to MyJacketFlap)
JacketFlap tags: Daily Prompt, Writing Stuff, ambulance, injured, New York, walker, Add a tag
Tell us about the time you rescued someone else (person or animal) from a dangerous situation. What happened? How did you prevail?
Did I tell you guys about the time Kevin nearly got ran over by an ambulance in New York City?
It was a few months after his motorcycle accident. It was July 2010. We had already booked a cruise out of New York to Canada and we weren’t sure if we would be able to go considering Kevin shattered his pelvis in April.
He had to live in a wheelchair for about 8 weeks after his accident to give his pelvis time to heal. Once the doctor’s said it was okay, he had to learn to walk all over again.
I tried to talk him out of the trip. Luckily, we had bought trip insurance and we could have gotten out of the trip if he really wanted to. He waffled back and forth on whether he could handle it and in the end, we went.
The trip was super hard on Kevin. SUPER HARD. We walked all over that city and poor Kevin hobbled along with his cane at first, but it just got to be too much for him so he switched to his walker.
You can really tell how weak and exhausted he was in this picture:
We were riding the New York subway and it was almost more than he could handle.
I felt so sorry for him.
And the weather certainly didn’t help – New York in July?!? What were we thinking?! I think we all lost five pounds in sweat alone.
We were only in New York a few days before catching our boat, but Kevin was exhausted after those few days and we still had another four days on a cruise boat to go!
In hindsight, we probably should have canceled the cruise. But I will say that though the trip for Kevin was super hard, it did him a world of good. He recovered by leaps and bounds after that trip. I think pushing himself really helped his body to heal faster.
But I wouldn’t want him to go through that again to test my theory.
And did I mention he didn’t complain once??
I am glad, though, that we took his walker. At least he instantly had someplace to sit when our walking just got to be too much.
We were walking through Times Square and … I don’t know if you’ve ever been to Times Square but it’s sensory overload, on crack. There’s so much noise. So many sights to see. So many people to dodge that your eyes don’t know where to land first and it’s hard to pick out sounds because THERE ARE SO MANY SOUNDS!
We were walking across the entrance to a side street, all of our heads turned in opposite directions, when I suddenly picked up the sound of a siren. (This was before I worked at the hospital – my life on foreshadow mode). I glanced down the side street and noticed an ambulance barreling toward us.
I hurried the boys across and then noticed that Kevin was distracted and hadn’t picked up on the fact that a two-ton truck was nearly on top of him. I yelled over the noise, frantically pointing in the direction of the white blur baring down on him. He was using his walker to cross the street and when he spotted the ambulance, he stumbled/speed walked to get out of the way.
I would have laughed but I was too terrified. It’s sort of like making a joke too soon after a traumatic event – the adrenaline hasn’t had a chance to wear off – and we had just survived six weeks of hospital and rehab after his motorcycle accident – how ironic would it have been for him to recover from that harrowing experience only to be run down by an ambulance, using his walker, in Times Square?
I didn’t really “rescue” him, more like I “warned” him, but I deserve a kudos for making sure the man didn’t end up bug juice on an ambulance windshield.
Filed under: Daily Prompt, Writing Stuff Add a Comment
Blog: Illustration Friday Blog (Login to Add to MyJacketFlap)
JacketFlap tags: Blogroll, books, children's art, editorial submissions, childrens books, dasha tolstikova, memoir, new york, sva, the new york times, Add a tag
post by Heather Ryerson
Dasha Tolstikova’s lively, frenetic illustrations have a heart-warming naiveté that appeals to children and adults alike. It’s no wonder she seems to have her foxy paws in everything from children’s books to graphic memoirs and editorial pieces for The New Yorker and The New York Times. Tolstikova’s first picture book The Jacket (2014, written by Kirsten Hall) has received a lot of attention recently, including editor’s choice in The Sunday Book Review in The New York Times. Tolstikova earned her MFA (Illustration as Visual Essay) from the School of Visual Arts in 2012. She lives in Brooklyn, NY and is part of the studio collective Brushwick Studio.
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Blog: Miss Marple's Musings (Login to Add to MyJacketFlap)
JacketFlap tags: John Cusick, Maddie's Fridge, New York, SCBWI, THE THING ABOUT YETIS, Vin Vogel, Illustrators, Interview, PiBoIdMo, picture book, Brazil, Flashlight Press, Heather Alexander, Add a tag
As soon as I saw Vin Vogel’s wonderful banner for this year’s PiBoIdMo, run by Tara Lazar, and knew that Vin had written and illustrated a picture book about YETIS, I knew I had to interview him. Vin Vogel is … Continue readingAdd a Comment
Blog: Illustration Friday Blog (Login to Add to MyJacketFlap)
JacketFlap tags: artists, design, digital, pen/brush and ink, typography, adc young guns, creative director, illustration, illustrator, industry maven, jon contino, lettering, new york, Add a tag
I discovered Jon Contino by following the work of Jessica Hische and Drew Melton (the typography world is very small). The first two things that resonated with me was the fact that he, like me, didn’t go to art school, and that he also used his musicianship as a passageway to his passion for design. As much as I’ve grown to love digital illustration and type design, I’m always the most drawn to analog aesthetics–and Jon prioritizes them in his work.
Jon Contino is an award-winning designer, illustrator, art director and self-professed alphastructaesthetitologist. His style is strongly inspired by contemporary street art, his native stomping grounds of New York, and the grit of hand-drawn type. He’s worked with clients like Ogilvy, Nike, Whole Foods, McSweeney’s, Target and The New York Times. He’s also an ADC Young Gun 9 winner to boot, and happens to possess a heartwarming Long Island-born accent.
Jon cites his family as being vital in governing his design and illustration aesthetic. His mother and grandmother happened to be artists, both supporting and assisting in his pursuit of his craft by bringing home reams of butcher paper and instructional drawing books (more about this in the wonderful Shoptalk interview here). He discovered that the lettering he was seeing in movie posters and baseball adverts still counted as typography–even at a very early age. It took me much longer to figure out that illustration and beautifully drawn words weren’t just for books–the marks of our handiwork can truly be found anywhere, if you just slow down and take the time to look.
As a teenager, Jon got his freelancer chops very early on. As a designer geek and drummer in a hardcore band, he was constantly relied upon by his band (and friends’ bands) to supply flyer designs, gig posters and the like. Soon enough, he realized that he could actually “make money at this thing,” and he was preparing invoices and freelancing by the ripe old age of 15.
In 2006, after working for a few different companies and design houses, he opened his own creative studio and has been working for himself ever since. He’s constantly turning pet projects into mini-businesses–most recently, he started up Contino Brand. And even amidst his successes, he’s learned the art of saying no for the sake of self-preservation.
Jon has spoken about how his preference for modern minimalism and his hand-drawn gritty aesthetic meets with a clash. That clash has governed a unique vision that brings the best of clean design and true-to-form drawing together. I’m enthralled by this intersection, and so clearly see the passion and determination that stands solidly behind Jon’s work. His personal history only continues to illuminate it.Add a Comment
Blog: Shelf-employed (Login to Add to MyJacketFlap)
JacketFlap tags: 1960s, African Americans, bio, Civil Rights, family life, J, memoir, New York, Non-Fiction Monday, nonfiction, novels in verse, poetry, religion, South Carolina, writing, Add a tag
Woodson, Jacqueline. 2014. Brown Girl Dreaming. New York: Penguin.
Despite the title, Brown Girl Dreaming is most certainly not just a book for brown girls or girls. Jacqueline Woodson's memoir-in-verse relates her journey to discover her passion for writing. Her story is framed by her large, loving family within the confines of the turbulent Civil Rights Era.
Sometimes a book is so well-received, so popular, that it seems that enough has been said (and said well); anything else would just be noise. Rather than add another Brown Girl Dreaming review to the hundreds of glowing ones already in print and cyberspace, I offer you links to other sites, interviews and reviews related to Brown Girl Dreaming. And, I'll pose a question on memoirs in children's literature.
First, the links:
- Brown Girl Dreaming is a National Book Award Finalist in the Young People's Literature category.
- Jacqueline Woodson was interviewed on NPR regarding Brown Girl Dreaming.
- Read an excerpt from Brown Girl Dreaming here.
- Even the prestigious Christian Science Monitor carried a review of Brown Girl Dreaming - the review written by award-winning author, Augusta Scattergood.
- Elizabeth Bird's "Fuse 8" review of Brown Girl Dreaming - thoughtful and insightful, as always
- AudioFile Magazine's review of Brown Girl Dreaming and an excerpt - read by Jacqueline Woodson herself
- New York Times Sunday Book Review of Brown Girl Dreaming
As a librarian who often helps students in choosing books for school assignments, I have written many times about the dreaded biography assignment - excessive page requirements, narrow specifications, etc.
Obviously, a best choice for a children's book is one written by a noted children's author. Sadly, many (by no means all!) biographies are formula-driven, series-type books that are not nearly as engaging as ones written by the best authors. Rare is the author of young people's literature who writes an autobiography for children as Ms. Woodson has done. When such books exist, they are usually memoirs focusing only on the author's childhood years. This is perfectly appropriate because the reader can relate to that specified period of a person's lifetime. Jon Sciezska wrote one of my favorite memoirs for children, Knucklehead, and Gary Paulsen's, How Angel Peterson Got his Name also comes to mind as a stellar example. These books, however, don't often fit the formula required to answer common student assignment questions, i.e., birth, schooling, employment, marriages, accomplishments, children, death. Students are reluctant to choose a book that will leave them with a blank space(s) on an assignment.
I wonder what teachers, other librarians and parents think about this. Must the biography assignment be a traditional biography, or can a memoir (be it in verse, prose, or graphic format) be just as acceptable? I hate to see students turn away from a great book because it doesn't fit the mold. If we want students to be critical thinkers, it's time to think outside the box and make room for a more varied, more diverse selection of books.
Blog: Redeeming Qualities (Login to Add to MyJacketFlap)
JacketFlap tags: books, 1910s, carolyn wells, girls, new york, series, Add a tag
Patty’s Suitors is pretty much Kit Cameron’s book, if you’re looking for an easy way to remember it (and I am). It also gives us proposals from Ken and Phil (yes, again) as well as another flying visit from Big Bill Farnsworth, but Kit is new and Kit is involved throughout. And Kit is funny, and Phil Van Reypen hates him, so I’m pretty cool with that.
Kit is the cousin of Patty’s new friend Marie Homer (who exists to provide an alternate love interest for Ken as well as to introduce Kit, but who seems nice). Patty ends up accidentally talking to him on the phone one night when she’s trying to get hold of Marie, and, being Patty, conceals her identity and flirts with him instead of apologizing for the wrong number.
This clearly appeals to Kit’s sense of humor, and, once the issue of Patty’s identity is cleared up, they spend most of the rest of the book playing pranks on each other. He proposes to her, too, but she mostly talks him out of being serious about it.
Anyway, it doesn’t mean much. Once she’s out in society, people are always proposing to Patty. And then she steers them towards her friends. Kit gets pointed in the direction of Daisy Dow, who used to be awful to Patty but I guess isn’t in love with Bill Farnsworth anymore. Ken is paired off with Marie Homer by the narrative even before he’s proposed to Patty. I wish Ken didn’t have to propose to Patty, though. It reduces him, somehow. He’s been a part of Patty’s life since Patty at Home, and everyone thinks he’s great. I understand that everyone has to fall in love with her, but when it comes time to refuse him, Patty has to give him reasons she’s not in love with him and reasons he shouldn’t be in love with her, which is a) super condescending, and b) not her decision to make.
She doesn’t give Phil reasons. I’m very resentful of Phil Van Reypen being treated better than Kenneth Harper. And Patty apparently likes Phil best right now, which makes me like Patty less than I’ve ever liked her before.
Bill shows up toward the end, in an episode that should definitely tell you, if you didn’t already know, that he’s endgame. There have been plenty of men and boys who have been jealous of Patty’s other suitors, but none of them have made Patty jealous, and that seems to be the point of this bit — to show us that even if Patty doesn’t know it yet, this one is different for her.
Tagged: 1910s, carolyn wells, girls, new york, series Add a Comment
Blog: First Book (Login to Add to MyJacketFlap)
JacketFlap tags: Books & Reading, books, diversity, donate, family, Family Engagement, Guru Krupa Foundation, Literacy, new york, parents, WIC, women and children, Add a tag
Lydia sat with her two children in the waiting room. Her eldest read aloud from his new book, pausing every now and again to teach his mother and younger sister how to say the words in English. His little sister beamed with pride when he let her turn the page.
Andrea Gatewood of the Nassau County (NY) Department of Health knows that providing new books to families like Lydia’s leads to priceless interactions. For the past ten years, she and her colleagues at the Nassau County Women, Infants and Children (WIC) Program have been giving books from First Book to the local low-income women and children they serve.
Traditionally, WIC programs supply women who are pregnant or recently gave birth and children up to age five found to be at nutritional risk with supplemental foods, health care referrals and nutrition education. But at five WIC sites in Nassau County, families also receive colorful new books.
“The books from First Book teach children how to count, the alphabet, the importance of family, other languages, colors, different foods and incentives to promote physical activity,” said Andrea. “They strengthen family bonds, promote diversity and improve literacy.”
Andrea takes great care in selecting books that are both engaging and culturally relevant as nearly 100 percent of the children she serves come from minority households.
“We have distributed books at Christmas, Halloween and to kick off the school year. Our goal is to reach as many children as possible,” Andrea shared. “The partnership between First Book and WIC has allowed thousands of children to receive brand new books and will have a lasting impact on an individual and community level.”
Over the past ten years, the Nassau WIC Program has received approximately 20,000 books from First Book, thanks to grant funding made possible by members of the First Book – Long Island volunteer chapter and the Guru Krupa Foundation. The Foundation, based in Jericho, New York, funds initiatives related to education, health and basic sustenance of underprivileged children in India and the United States, and has helped First Book provide more than 51,000 books to children in need in the greater New York and Los Angeles areas in the past two years.
“We at Guru Krupa Foundation believe that education is a cornerstone for future success in life,” said Mukund Padmanabhan, president of the Guru Krupa Foundation. “Supporting initiatives that bring the benefits of education to underprivileged children can lead to enormous future dividends, not only for the children but to society.”
Join the Guru Krupa Foundation in supporting program leaders like Andrea by making a gift to First Book. Just $2.50 provides a brand-new book to a child in need.Add a Comment
Blog: MISS O's SCHOOL LIBRARY (Login to Add to MyJacketFlap)
JacketFlap tags: children's books, Little Elliot Big City, Mike Curato, New York, Add a tag
Tuesday, August 26 Librarian in Cute Shoes | @utalaniz
Wednesday, August 27 Teach Mentor Texts | @mentortexts
Thursday, August 28 Read. Write. Reflect. | @katsok
Friday, August 29 Kit Lit Frenzy | @alybee930
Saturday, August 30 Daddy Mojo | @daddymojo
Sunday, August 31 The Trifecta:
Sharp Reads | @colbysharp
Connect. Read. | @mrschureads
Nerdy Book Club | @nerdybookclub
Monday, September 1 Miss Print | @miss_print
Also, be sure to tune into the Let’s Get Busy podcast on August 26th for a full hour-long interview!!
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Blog: print & pattern (Login to Add to MyJacketFlap)
JacketFlap tags: DESIGN STUDIOS, NEW YORK, Add a tag
Tomorrow sees the opening of the Printsource trade show in New York when many top studios and designers will offer their latest portfolio prints to buyers. A few flyers for the show came into P&P so here are some names to look put for if you are attending the show. Starting with Paper & Cloth in booth A5 and as you can see below they have some fabulous new designs to showcase. Below : JaneAdd a Comment
Blog: OUPblog (Login to Add to MyJacketFlap)
JacketFlap tags: *Featured, Current Affairs, Religion, 9/11, american civil religion, current events, ground zero, memorial day, memorials, new york, peter gardella, tourism, twin towers, world trade center, franske, waverly, memorial, Add a tag
By Peter Gardella
Unlike the 4th of July with its fireworks or Thanksgiving with its turkeys, Memorial Day has no special object. But the new 9/11 Museum near the World Trade Center in New York has thousands of objects. Some complain that its objects are for sale, in a gift shop and because of the admission fee. Together, the old holiday and the new museum show what has changed and what remains constant about American civil religion.
For a century after Memorial Day began, it had its own date, May 30. That was lost in 1968, when Congress passed a law moving Memorial Day to the last Monday in May. Rather than interrupting the week whenever it falls, as July 4th still does, Memorial Day became the end of a long weekend. A search for Memorial Day parades finds as many parades happening on Sunday as on Monday. Some happen on Saturday.
These parades are not nearly as important as they were in the decades following World Wars One and Two, when veterans were much more numerous than they are now. The unpopularity of Vietnam also hurt Memorial Day parades. In my childhood, all grammar school children in my town marched on Memorial Day, but now even high school bands march reluctantly. Having parades to honor war dead came to seem to be celebrating war, and after Vietnam celebrating war was unacceptable. Memorial Day was once called Decoration Day, a day for visiting and decorating graves, and this quieter ceremony persists. On Memorial Day, the president still lays a wreath on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, and a small crowd gathers for a speech.But the site of the World Trade Center drew large crowds in the first weeks after the attack. The 9/11 Memorial has been drawing millions since it opened in 2011, and the new Museum will draw millions more. It will become a pilgrimage site of American civil religion.
As Mayor Bloomberg said at the dedication ceremonies, the site of the World Trade Center will join Gettysburg, Pearl Harbor, and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial as a “sacred marker” and a “solemn gathering place.” The word “sacred” was used by many at the dedication, and this sense of being set apart marks the sites of civil religion. The word “solemn” was identified more than a century ago as an aspect of religious feeling by the psychologist and philosopher William James. Expressions of religion involve solemnity, respect for what is held sacred, even when triumphal pride or ecstasy may also be expressed. Such solemnity can be felt at older sites of American civil religion, like the Capitol or the White House, the Washington Monument, and the memorials to Lincoln and Jefferson. The new Martin Luther King Memorial continues a mood of solemnity combined with triumph. It’s a place where clean white stone invokes eternity.
But the 9/11 Memorial belongs to another tradition, finding the sacred in dirty objects. Twisted beams of steel and mangled fire trucks dominate a seven-story atrium. More intimate objects, like displays of sweatshirts that were for sale on that day, now covered in ash, and shoes worn by survivors as they fled the Twin Towers, and melted fax machines and rolodexes, are displayed under glass to help visitors identify with the human victims and their suffering. Voices from last cell phone calls can be heard. This power in everyday objects has appeared before in memorials to the Holocaust and in the museum on Ellis Island. Leaving objects on graves and memorials is new to American civil religion, but it is a practice with old roots, seen on the graves of slaves in the South and in the tombs of Egypt. Visitors to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial surprised groundskeepers by leaving objects at that memorial when it opened, and people left objects along the fences that separated the streets of New York from Ground Zero in the months after September 11.
Questions have been raised about the stress on objects in the new museum. Some think that unidentified human remains should not be in the same building as a museum visited by tourists. According to some family members of victims, the gift shop profits from the deaths of their loved ones to support the salaries of administrators. Some object to the cafe. Even more object to the $24 admission fee. One answer might be to keep the gift shop and cafe but to eliminate any admission fee, following the examples of Smithsonian and National Park Service sites, some of which also contain human remains.
Many new forms of American civil religion stress death and the ancestors, not God and the future. The new museum goes down into the earth to bedrock, rather than rising toward heaven. Like the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, which follows the line of its landscape and honors the dead, and the Pearl Harbor Memorial, which centers on the sunken wreck of the U.S.S. Arizona and the dead that it contains, the 9/11 Memorial and the 9/11 Museum both emphasize descent. In the Memorial, cascades of water, the largest man-made waterfalls in the world, flow from bronze parapets etched with the names of the dead into the former footprints of the Twin Towers. The sound of the water cancels street noise. The sight of the water falling into the squares at the center of each footprint suggests the underworld journey.
But next to the Memorial and Museum rises the spire of One World Trade Center, the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere. This pairing echoes the rise of the Statue of Liberty, next to the buildings of Ellis Island where immigrants were examined and sometimes rejected. However much expressions of American civil religion change, they still affirm personal freedom, the triumph of the human person over all difficulties, and even over death.
Peter Gardella is Professor of World Religions at Manhattanville College and author of American Civil Religion: What Americans Hold Sacred (Oxford, 2014). His previous books are Innocent Ecstasy (Oxford, 1985), on sex and religion in America; Domestic Religion, on American attitudes toward everyday life; and American Angels: Useful Spirits in the Material World. He is now working on The World’s Religions in New York City: A History and Guide and on Birds in the World’s Religions (with Laurence Krute).
The post Memorial Day and the 9/11 museum in American civil religion appeared first on OUPblog.
Blog: Redeeming Qualities (Login to Add to MyJacketFlap)
JacketFlap tags: books, 1920s, adventure, marieconwayoemler, new york, poland, Add a tag
I mostly avoid reading Marie Conway Oemler books I haven’t read before — I dread the point at which there won’t be any left I haven’t read. So I’ve been putting off reading Two Shall Be Born for, like, five years at least.
I don’t know if it was worth waiting for. I don’t, at this point, expect any book of hers to live up to Slippy McGee or A Woman Named Smith, and this one certainly doesn’t. But that’s not to say it isn’t pretty interesting and weird, and that’s all I really want, I guess.
I don’t want to say that this is Marie Conway Oemler’s Ruritanian romance, although it has a bit of a flavor of that. And I’m not sure if I want to say that this book is Mary Roberts Rinehart-ish in the same way that Slippy McGee is Gene Stratton Porter-ish, but there were moments when it seemed to have more in common with Rinehart than with Oemler’s other work. I only recognized Oemler in flashes — the disheveled single-mindedness of an artistic genius, the hero who looks like “a young god with good morals,” anything relating to what Irish people are like.
The premise of the book is, I suppose, about people falling in love at first sight. Fortunately, that’s not actually what the book is about. Countess Marya Jadwiga Zuleska’s love interest doesn’t even appear until what feels like more than halfway through the book, but apparently isn’t quite. Really it’s Marya Jadwiga’s book, but I didn’t feel like I got to know her as well as I got to know anyone in A Woman Named Smith or Slippy McGee or evenThe Purple Heights.
Marya Jadwiga is the daughter of a famous scholar and Polish patriot who apparently functions as some kind of spymaster for a Polish independence movement. Everything he has, he contributes to this movement — including his daughter, who he educates so as to make her as useful as possible to him. It’s not really clear exactly what that education consists of, or how he intends to use her, but I think the book would have been so much better if it had been. Anyway, we never really find out what he meant to do, because his impending death and the pressure exerted on him by Russian and German agents force him to change his plans and send Marya Jadwiga to America.
I mean, other stuff happens first. But I don’t really know how to get into it without spoiling the grisliest axe murder I’ve read since The After House, so.
Once she gets there, there’s a little bit of a Samuel Hopkins Adams in The Flagrant Years vibe, and once we’re introduced to Brian Kelly there’s a bit of a Samuel Hopkins Adams in general vibe, neither of which upset me. Brian’s story gives us a little of the character makeover thing — he’s had a fight with his rich dad and run off to become a policeman, and of course he learns to be a very good one. But, as with Marya Jadwiga, I wished more time had been spent on the learning part. If not the traffic policeman stuff, more than a few vague hints about other, more exciting police work would have been appreciated.
Brian and Marya Jadwiga meet one evening after Marya Jadwiga stabs someone (yeah, it’s pretty cool) although they’ve already seen each other and fallen in love at first sight at that point. Brian brings Marya Jadwiga to his boarding house, and the final turns of the plot take place there, among the friends he’s made. But the two of them, having gotten the falling in love part out of the way at the beginning, don’t seem to have much to say to each other.
It’s as if, having already fallen in love, they don’t need to get to know each other. And that’s what I hate about stories where people fall in love at first sight, because the getting to know each other part is the best part, and I don’t understand why anyone would want to skip past it. Especially Marie Conway Oemler, who’s so, so good at having her characters enjoy each others’ company. I mean, Sophy and Alicia. The Author and anyone he appreciates properly. Armand de Rancé and Slippy McGee. There’s no pair of characters in Two Shall be Born that made me feel like just seeing them interact was enough, except maybe the Kelly siblings. Some of that might be because it’s meant to be a very serious book, with attempted rape and beheadings and people watching each other die, but Oemler wasn’t really a serious story kind of author.
I did enjoy Two Shall be Born. I just think Oemler could have done something batter. I mean, that, and I wish I could read A Woman Named Smith or Slippy McGee for the first time again.
Tagged: 1920s, adventure, marieconwayoemler, new york, poland Display Comments Add a Comment
Blog: (Login to Add to MyJacketFlap)
JacketFlap tags: Author Interview, i am a cat, jamee edwards, kidlit, new york, writing, writing dialogue, Add a tag
It’s Author Interview Thursday… Yes! I have to admit that I had a low period earlier on this year due to some issues with my illustrator and a potential book deal that got put on ice for the meantime. However, following my visit to the London Book Fair (and you can read all about it here) where I met quite a few famous authors and attended some world class seminars, I’m happy to say that my enthusiasm and passion for writing and growing my self publishing business has been rekindled. Something that has greatly benefited from this renewed passion is Author Interview Thursday! It has been an absolute pleasure meeting and interviewing the featured guests every Thursday. I learn so much and I hope you do too. It was such a delight getting to know our featured author today. I found the story regarding her inspiration for storytelling very inspiring. She has written and acted in several theatre productions. I love the fact that she delights in bringing out the unique talents and gifts in her students, clients and readers. With the months of May and June themed as National Teen Self-Esteem and National Child Awareness Months respectively, I believe she’s the perfect author to kick us off for the month of May. So without further ado, please join me in welcoming Jamee-Marie Edwards.
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and the first time someone complemented you on something you had written?
My passion for storytelling was inherited from my grandfather since childhood. I remember him taking me out (as part of my family’s tradition) to watch the planes take off and land on the weekends. As I sat on the hood of his car, he would amaze me with stories from his childhood. There was always an exciting story to be told in his company. With that being said, I thought it would be fitting to use Jamee-Marie Edwards as my pen name in honor of the literary seeds my grandfather James Edward Lawrie planted in my life.
As I matured, I acquired a passion toward health, the sciences and the arts. I truly feel blessed and thankful to have such a rewarding career, which has allowed me to combine all of my passions into one. Educating children about living a healthy lifestyle through the arts (storytelling, dramatic presentations) is one of my dreams that has finally been actualized. I am currently employed in the health office of Allen Christian School located in Queens, N.Y. and recently obtained my Masters in Public Health with a concentration in Health Promotion and Education. The Media/Television Production teacher at my alma mater high school, Hillcrest H.S., was the first person to say those infamous words to me “You Got It!” This came after my group performed a skit I wrote about challenges travellers face at an airport. The teacher and the class got plenty of chuckles out of that one.
What can a reader expect when they pick up a book written by Jamee-Marie Edwards?
As an author/health educator/science buff/animal lover, my books are typically fables which encompass health, character development and science related themes such as self-esteem, healthy lifestyles and animal kingdom basics. Overall, I write from the heart with a purpose to take readers on a journey filled with colourful illustrations and entertaining dialogue from fun loving characters who depict real life situations, lessons and resolutions.
Congratulations on the publication of your first children’s book ‘But I Am a Cat!’ Can you tell us where the idea for this book came from and what you hope the reader takes away after reading it?
Thank You David!
In the scheme of life, we all wonder, “Where do I fit in?” I wanted to create a playful, but meaningful story that gives children, and even adults, a lesson on what it truly means to be “comfortable in your own skin.” It is my desire that “But I Am a Cat!” will inspire readers to discover, embrace, and celebrate their unique gifts, talents, and abilities. The book was also written to fuel a child’s interest in the sciences, as it presents a fascinating look into the basics of the animal kingdom, giving children new insights on the habitats of some of their favorite animals.
You’ve written several stage plays and acted in quite a few. How did this help or hinder when you were writing your children’s book?
My theatrical background proved to be very beneficial in my endeavor as an author. This especially holds true in the area of character development. As an actor and writer, you must “know your character” (i.e. their objectives, style, mannerisms, etc.). The goal is to make your characters believable and relatable.
Can you tell us how you worked with your illustrator to ensure that your vision was conveyed through the illustrations in the book?
I was very fortunate to work closely with an illustration coordinator throughout the entire process. Before the process began, we had several conversations to ensure I was matched with an illustrator that best suited my vision. In addition, I was able to incorporate pictures of my cat Mason (who is the main character) and other animals I desired. Each sketch had to be approved by me, down to the vivid coloring of the illustrations.
As an indie author, marketing can be one of our greatest challenges. I have found that social media has played an integral part in marketing my book. I also participate in various events— schools visits and health fairs, to market myself. I always have promotional items such as business cards, bookmarks and pencils on hand to help get my name out and build my brand. Book giveaways/contest are also beneficial.
What were some of your favourite books as a child?
“The Little Engine That Could” is without a doubt my favourite book of all times. Although I owed a copy of the book, my mother told me I was adamant about taking the book out with each library visit. I also loved reading anything by Dr. Seuss, Don Freedman’s Corduroy, The Nursery Rhymes Classics as “Jack and Jill” and “Humpty Dumpty”, “Curious George” and “Uptown, Downtown” to name a few.
What book or film has the best dialogue that inspires you to be a better writer and why?
“I think I can, I think I can, I thought I could, I thought I could!” are the infamous words of the Little Engine. I realize words have the power to change a person’s life, be an Inspiration to others.
Hmmm, this question is a toss-up considering the fact that, I am truly a kid at heart and I can appreciate all animations with positive themes. I am also chuckling as I read this question because I do have a closet full of my childhood toys and books. However, if I must choose, I would have to say Shrek. As stated by Jeffrey Katzenberg (Shrek’s producer) the theme of the movie is ‘there is something wonderful about us all.’ As a facilitator of self-esteem workshops, I realize the importance of instilling a positive self-image into children, teens and adults alike. My choice is also in honor of May being National Teen Self-Esteem Month.
What three things should a first time visitor to New York do?
Choosing only three things to see from the city that never sleeps was definitely a challenge. However, I did manage to narrow the plethora of activities and sights the Big Apple has to offer to: Times Square where the infamous New Year’s Eve Ball is dropped. The bright lights and fan-fare especially at night is a must see. Of course, NYC is also known for its stunning productions on Broadway. Lastly, what would a trip to NYC be without a visit to Central Park? From the gardens, to the infamous fountain that is often seen on the big screen and the surrounding attractions as FAO Schwartz (toy store), the park seems endless and a venture through it is worth the trip. In addition, if I may sneak in another one, Rockefeller Center during the Christmas holiday season. The tree lighting is amazing!
What can we expect from Jamee-Marie Edwards in the next 12 months?
“But I Am a Cat!” is the first of the character development “I Am” series. So the next installation is in the works. Of course, there is always another skit or play waiting to be birthed. I would also like to venture into the Young Adult world.
I would appreciate and love to connect through
My website - www.maeinspireu.com (may inspire u)
Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/jameemarie.edwards
Facebook Author Page - https://www.facebook.com/pages/Jamee-Marie-Edwards-Author/435774816492157?ref=hl
Twitter - @JMarie_Edwards
Instagram - JAMEE_MARIE_EDWARDS
Link to IPAD Application - https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/but-i-am-a-cat!/id815125891?ls=1&mt=8
I am also on Linkedin.
Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.” I hold this eloquent statement close to heart and love to share with students during school visits. I believe it can be inspirational to adults alike. Continue to BELIEVE in your dream of becoming an author and surround yourself with people who are pursuing or have pursued the same dream. I have joined countless writing groups/forums/associations as a support system to exchange ideas and to give and receive encouragement and inspiration. Remember tomorrow is another day and another chance. So many people give up too easily and are closer to their dreams than they think. Keep pushing! #dream #believe # create # succeed
David, this was truly an honor! I greatly appreciate the opportunity to share and all that you do to encourage and inspire others. Continued blessings always!
The pleasure was all mine Jamee-Marie and it was such a joy to have you today. I really found the story of how your grandfather inspired the desire in you to write and tell stories very uplifting. It really goes to show that as children book authors, we really are in a privileged position to inspire the next generation. Jamee-Marie and I would like to hear any questions or comments that you may have regarding our interview. So do leave your comments in the box below and remember to share this interview on your social network.Display Comments Add a Comment
Blog: Jen Robinson (Login to Add to MyJacketFlap)
JacketFlap tags: Late Elementary School, Mysteries and Thrillers, Newsletter, Reviews, art theft, illustration, male protagonist, mystery, new york, photographic memory, police, Add a tag
Book: Eddie Red Undercover: Mystery on Museum Mile
Author: Marcia Wells
Illustrator: Marcos Calo
Age Range: 9-12 (lightly illustrated middle grade)
Mystery of the Museum Mile is the first book of the new Eddie Red Undercover series by Marcia Wells. Eddie Red is a code name for Edmund Xavier Lonnrot, a sixth grader with a photographic memory and the ability to draw (well) anyone he has seen. When Eddie's talents are inadvertently discovered by the New York Police Department, he is hired to help on a special case involving art theft. He's only supposed to visit some museums and draw the people he sees, under the guidance of a grouchy but protective cop named Bovano. But of course things get more complicated, and more dangerous, than that.
So, ok, there are a couple of points here requiring suspension of disbelief. The NYPD hiring an 11-year-old? Said 11-year-old's parents going along with it? The photographic memory AND drawing skill? But personally, I found it well worth letting those points go and enjoying the ride.
Edmund (or Eddie Red, as you may prefer to think of him) is a solid character. Smart, sure, but realistically insecure about it. Loyal to his best friend, who has pretty serious OCD. Eddie breaks the rules in order to learn more about the case, but he's nervous about that. He's not your young James Bond, able to do everything. He's more your regular kid who has one particular skill. He desperately wants to solve the case so that he can make enough money to remain in his private school.
Eddie is also pretty matter-of-fact about being a young African-American male in the city. The color of his skin isn't a big deal, but it's not glossed over, either. It's an integral part of who he is, and who his parents are. This, together with his white friend Jonah's quirks, makes this a mystery that should feel relevant to a wider range of kids than many. Eddie does have a very mild love interest, which didn't really feel necessary to me, but there's not enough to it to be off-putting for younger kids.
The mystery involves following clues, putting things together, and applying a bit of geometry (Jonah is helpful here). A fair number of scenes take place in Jonah and Eddie's school for gifted kids, which I found interesting.
Here are a few snippets, to give you a feel for Wells' writing:
"People always ask how to spell my name. It's European and looks pretty unusual, but it's easy to pronounce: Lawn-rot. Some family down south owned my ancestors back in the slave days, and the name stuck." (Page 16)
"I try to follow. Sadie, our cat-who-may-be-an-evil-overlord-in-disguise, heads me off. Leaping in front of the kitchen door, she arches her back in a ripple of fur and hisses." (Page 39)
"He remains standing, staring out the window. He has quite a pasta/beer belly packed onto his tall body. This man is what my mother would call a touch cookie. Only he's more like a tough loaf of old and angry Italian break, with too much garlic mixed in." (Page 53)
There are also occasional full-page illustrations, representing Eddie's drawings of important characters in the story. Calo's pencil (charcoal?) sketches are a bit professional to actually be created by a sixth grader, but they are a nice addition to book, fleshing out Eddie's talent and giving readers a glimpse of the characters.
All in all, Eddie Red Undercover: Mystery on Museum Mile is a nice addition to the ranks of middle grade mysteries. I look forward to Eddie's further adventures. Recommended!
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers (@HMHBooks)
Publication Date: April 1, 2014
Source of Book: Review copy from the publisher
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Blog: Neil Gaiman (Login to Add to MyJacketFlap)
JacketFlap tags: commerce, New York, Blackberry, art, cellars, Keep moving, Add a tag
(I do not really have a lot of fixing things knowledge. And while you may want to read a book by me, you do not want me to put up your shelves. Trust me on this.)
I went into New York overnight, finished writing a very much overdue introduction in my hotel room, emailed it off moments before I fell asleep, had a Really Cool Secret Meeting this morning, and am typing this on the train back, the Hudson river grey and, on the far bank, distant leafless hills and cliffs. I want Spring to begin.
I'm currently pondering whether or not to write a short story for a company. They've asked me to write one. I can write whatever I like, as long as I put their product in it and do not show their product killing people horribly, or even nicely. It would be a fun, interesting project that would pay well. To make things more interesting, I've already mentioned their product in a novel, I like their product, and I can see where the story would go.
But I'm not sure. I'm going back and forth on it.
I loved doing last year's project for BlackBerry, mostly because it felt like they were a patron of the arts. They gave me a very open brief ("What would you like to do on social media?") and let me go off and do it. They gave me a BlackBerry, and I promised I'd use it for a year. They made short films which I loved, about writing and inspiration and creation.
(And I just noticed that the BlackBerry Keep Moving videos have become unlisted on YouTube, so here they all are, for in case anyone needs them. The fourth is my favourite.)
(As a note here: when the year was up, I wanted to stay with BlackBerry as a phone platform. I really liked it, and kept finding myself frustrated when I'd use iPhones or Android phones, but I was grumpy about the lack of apps. They gave me a Z30. It's a wonderful phone (here's the USA Today write up.) But y'know, like they said in the USA Today review, no Yelp and no Netflix.
But then, a couple of weeks after I got the Z30, they released the latest operating system, 10.2.1, which also now natively runs Android apps. I archives on my old Android phone any Android apps I wanted on the Z30, bluetoothed them over to the BlackBerry, installed them, and now use Yelp and Netflix and Audible and such with abandon.)
But the BlackBerry project, while it was done for and with the assistance of BlackBerry, never meant I had to put a BlackBerry into a story. Which made me happy. Now I'm trying to figure out why that would have felt like crossing a line in the way that the Nokia phone (which, if I were writing it today, would be an iPhone) in the first chapter of American Gods does not. And what that line is. And why it troubles me.
Getting ready for the Art Speigelman conversation at Bard on Friday. We plan to talk a whole lot.
The Symphony Space "Selected Shorts" night on May 7th has now sold out. The only other event I'll be doing in New York this year is the Big One -- the Carnegie Hall event on June 27th. (You do not want to miss this: it's the same thing that sold out Sydney Opera House, with FourPlay String Quartet and me).
Which reminds me. One final TRUTH IS A CAVE.. night has been added to the world. Edinburgh, Sunday July 6th. As they say on their website:
Created for Sydney's renowned Graphic festival, this haunting tale of adventure, revenge and treasure, told as a hybrid between a storyteller, an artists and an Australian string quartet is playing five performances only - Carnegie Hall in New York, the Warfield in San Francisco, two sold-out shows at London's Barbican, all leading up to this very special night at Usher Hall.
Here's the Usher Hall tickets link.
Ayelet Waldman asked me if I could mention that she has a new book out, and I will, and not just because I have not yet written my speech for her daughter Rosie's Bat-Mitzvah: It is called Love and Treasure. That's the Amazon link, and here's the Indiebound.
oops. This sat on my computer for 36 hours. In the meantime, Spring has definitely sprung. Deer are frisking through the woods and platoons of wild turkeys are self-importantly strutwaddling up and down the drive. I hope Spring heard me grumbling, and decided it was time to turn up.
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Pen and ink 15cm x 10cm. Click to enlarge. Add a Comment
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Click here (or on the flyer above) to sign up! Feel free to share this link, or download the graphic and share.
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Blog: Becky's Book Reviews (Login to Add to MyJacketFlap)
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Your letter is here. I have read it twice, and with amazement. Do I understand that Jervis has given you, for a Christmas present, the making over of the John Grier Home into a model institution, and that you have chosen me to disburse the money?
I liked Daddy-Long-Legs. But I LOVED Dear Enemy. Sallie McBride, a friend first introduced in Daddy-Long-Legs, has at the request of her friend taken leadership of the John Grier Home. So much work, so much responsibility, is it even something that she wants to do short-term? Yes, she's agreed to it. But it was in the moment. She wanted to show her politician boyfriend that she COULD do it if she wanted to do it. That it wasn't because she wasn't CAPABLE that she was hesitating. But now that she's there, now that she's seen all those children that NEED, always need, need, need. What has she gotten herself into?! And the people she has to work with?! Readers get to know all the details through her correspondence...
There are two men in Sallie's life. The first is the politician, Gordon Hallock, who is willing to indulge Sallie's ambitions for a while at least until she's ready to admit she's ready to settle down and be his wife. (He's very generous to the John Grier Home.) The second is a (Scottish) doctor, Robin McRae, who is the physician for the orphanage. Sallie and the doctor don't always get along, in fact, they argue quite a bit. Both tend to be passionate and opinionated. But there are times when they don't argue, times when they're on the same side. There are times her 'dear enemy' is her closest friend....
I found Dear-Enemy to be giddy-making! I really loved this book.
Her description of the doctor:
Usually, he's scientific and as hard as granite, but occasionally I suspect him of being quite a sentimental person underneath his official casing. For days at a time he will be patient and kind and helpful and I begin to like him; then without any warning an untamed wild man swells up from the innermost depths, and--oh, dear! the creature's impossible. I always suspect that sometime in the past he has suffered a terrible hurt, and that he is still brooding over the memory of it. All the time he is talking you have an uncomfortable feeling that in the far back corners of his mind he is thinking something else. But this may be merely by romantic interpretation of an uncommonly bad temper. In any case, he's baffling. (144-5)Her description of the politician:
There is no doubt about it, Gordon is the most presentable man that ever breathed. He is so good looking and easy and gracious and witty, and his manners are impeccable. Oh, he would make a wonderfully decorative husband! But after all, I suppose you do live with a husband. You don't just show him off at dinners and teas. (164)Read Dear Enemy
- If you liked Daddy-Long-Legs
- If you like epistolary novels
- If you like romance or historical romance
Blog: Valerie Storey, Writing at Dava Books (Login to Add to MyJacketFlap)
JacketFlap tags: New York, Overtaken, Travel, The Great Scarab Scam, Add a tag
Yes, I really went to MOOD last week! And in New York too! Which I guess is only momentous if you are, like me, a total Project Runway fan. In case you're not a fan or have no idea what I'm talking about, I promise that I did take advantage of touring other New York sites, too.
At the moment, though, I'm still a little breathless, and not just from wheeling my suitcase through the airport. It all happened so fast, and there was so much to take in, and there's so much I want to say about the trip . . . where to start?
How about at the Metropolitan Museum of Art where I saw the Egyptian collection:
This was particularly special for me as Egyptian antiquities were the inspiration for my book The Great Scarab Scam. Added bonus: some great ideas for future pottery and ceramic work:
It was also a thrill to see the samurai collection at the museum because it's the basis of my current National Poetry Month project on Japan. (Samurai armor has always intrigued me; so much so that I used it in a section of Overtaken):
And it felt very elegant (if not a little dangerous) to be served a Metropolitan Martini on the museum balcony while a string quartet played in the background:
Unforgettable: walking through Greenwich Village and bumping into Pillow Fight Day. (Or that's what I thought it was. I could be wrong; maybe Rizzoli's ran out of signed copies of Overtaken?)
Seeing the ice skating rink at Rockefeller Center was a big highlight too; especially as when I went back there the next day the maintenance crew was a) closing the rink for the spring/summer season, and b) retrieving the biggest, goldest, bling-iest bracelet ever from a flower pot as I watched with great surprise and interest. I did my best to refrain from insisting it was MINE: "Yes, Officer, I was right here on this very spot only yesterday. Honest."
And of course there was the totally unexpected river taxi ride that just happened to go to my hotel while passing the local statuary:
But on the very last day of all, after the Guggenheim (Solomon R. in the guidebook), Central Park, Fifth Avenue, and more pasta than I'm sure is legal, all my dreams came true and I went to MOOD! I played with Swatch! I pulled his ears! (I don't think you're really supposed to pull his ears, but he didn't seem to mind.)
Swatch refusing a signed copy of Overtaken:
In case you're interested, that's the inside of my coat on the chair along with the Mood bag holding the fabric I bought (see top photo again) as well as an amazing sketchbook called a Fashionary. Each page of this nifty little book has 3 templates of "models" you can draw the clothes on whenever you're seized by the muse: A dress just like the Empire State Building! A cape made from faux Central Park squirrels! The possibilities are endless and might even land you on Project Runway one day.
So, yes, I had a really, really good time. And I finally understand all those I-heart-New York souvenirs because you can't not love New York. Now all I need is a nap and time to design some pants for Swatch in my Fashionary. Catch you all later.
Tip of the Day: Be spontaneous--take a risk. I hadn't made serious plans to go to New York; it just sort of happened. Which also means I had no itinerary whatsoever, and it couldn't have worked out better. Just like writing and artwork, once you dive into a project, you can work out the details later. The important thing is to go there. Bon Voyage!
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Blog: Jen Robinson (Login to Add to MyJacketFlap)
JacketFlap tags: Newsletter, Reviews, Young Adult, first love, new york, private school, spy novel, teen girl spy, young adult fiction, Add a tag
I quite enjoyed Robin Benway's first novel, Audrey, Wait! When I heard that her newest book featured a 16-year-old female spy, well, of course I was intrigued. Also Known As proved to be the perfect read for my trip back from Austin last week.
Also Known As features Maggie, a talented safecracker who works with her parents for a shadowy spy organization called The Collective. The 200 members of The Collective, including Maggie's family, travel around the world righting wrongs, through not necessarily legal means (e.g. safecracking). When Maggie gets her first real assignment, however, she finds herself in particularly dangerous territory: a private high school in New York City. Her task is to befriend a cute boy named Jesse, before Jesse's dad can publish a news story about The Collective. Maggie's mission is to gain access to the dad's computer, and find information about who might have leaked the story. But what seems simple enough becomes complicated when (you knew this was coming), Maggie develops personal relationships with a couple of the teens that she encounters. And spies are not supposed to make friends, let alone fall in love.
What I liked best about Also Known As was Maggie's voice. She reminded me a bit of Ananka, the primary narrator for the Kiki Strike series, but with more of a sarcastic streak. She discusses spying matter-of-factly, like this:
"The first rule of being a spy: Listen. Our family friend Angelo always says that a good spy never asks questions, that people will always tell you what you need to know." (Page 4)
"Personally, I would have rather jimmied the lock open because hi, let's play to our strengths, but my parents are always about doing things the simple way. It gets annoying sometimes, I can't lie." (Page 7)
She's just plain funny, too:
"When I was five, I had to leave a princess-style canopy bed behind in Sydney, and I'm not exaggerating when I say that it was tragic. I think I'm still grieving for that bed." (Page 21)
(Giving herself a pep talk about starting high school for the first time) "You could eat those kids for breakfast. You won't, though, because that would be cannibalistic and wrong." (Page 31)
See? I could go on all day, but I think you get the idea. There are a couple of strong supporting characters, too. Roux, Maggie's first-ever same-age friend, is impressively complex. A former mean girl turned school pariah, Roux has wealthy but neglectful parents. A grumpy doorman is her only real authority figure. She drinks too much, and isn't above turning to prescription meds to help cope with her issues. (Content advisory here, though Maggie steers clear of these substances.)
Maggie's other friend is Angelo, an older man who has been a mentor to Maggie's family for as long as she can remember. He is cryptic about his past, but always gentlemanly and supportive. Bonus points for the way Benway reveals, casually, mid-way through the book that Angelo is gay (through a reference to falling for someone on a case early in his career). Angelo sets up meetings with Maggie by leaving her little sketches of the places that they are supposed to meet, which I loved (sketches not shown).
So, fun premise, solid characters, and fast-paced plot (especially later in the book). All excellent. I was less thrilled with the love story between Maggie and, well, no need for spoilers. There's a bit more description of kissing than I personally needed (though nothing further than kissing). And also quite a bit of conversation along the lines of "you and me against the world", "no one else understands me", etc. I think this will probably all work for the target audience, of course, but I personally would have had a bit less love story and a bit more spying.
That minor quibble aside, I enjoyed Also Known As, and look forward to reading the next book in the series, Going Rogue (which I luckily have, though it's not due out until January). Also Known As is a light-hearted story featuring a teen girl spy who, in addition to having adventures, has to cope with protective parents and the challenges of fitting into the high school shark tank. Something for everyone, I'd say! Recommended for library purchase, especially at the high school level. A great follow-on to the Kiki Strike books, aimed at a slightly older audience.
Publisher: Walker Children's Books (@BWKids)
Publication Date: February 26, 2013
Source of Book: Bought it on Kindle
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Blog: Redeeming Qualities (Login to Add to MyJacketFlap)
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So, here is a thing that could pass for a description of a book, or possibly a Hallmark Christmas movie, minus the Christmas:
A girl manufactures a fictional fiancé to show up her dismissive roommates. She tells them she’s getting married the day after their double wedding. When she gets on the train for the country retreat she’s planned for her “honeymoon,” she discovers that her friends and their husbands are on the same train, because the friend who lent her his farmhouse has also lent them houses on the same property. She talks the nearest man into impersonating her fiancé, only to find that he’s her crush, disguised in order to avoid the man who’s trying to serve him with a subpeona.
Weirdly, those are the parts of Wanted: A Husband that I didn’t like. Also, that is just the second half of the book. The first half is a makeover book, and I kind of love it.
The heroine is Darcy Cole, a graphic artist living in an apartment with two other girls, Maud and Helen, both of whom have recently become engaged. Darcy is the cranky, dull, disheveled one. She receives no male attention, ever, and doesn’t seem likely to, which is why the opening of the book finds her at the door of her friend Gloria Greene. Gloria is an actress, and a generally pretty awesome person, and, after warning Darcy that it’s not going to be easy or cheap, she offers to make her over.
I love makeover books, I guess. And this — well, it’s Samuel Hopkins Adams. And there’s a grumpy trainer. And Darcy becomes nicer as she becomes more physically fit. The whole sequence is so deeply appealing to me that I don’t know what to do with myself. Mostly I just wish there was more detail.
Once Darcy’s new good looks and attractive personality are faits accomplis, Wanted: A Husband loses momentum. I mean, the fake engagement scenario is fun, for sure — see Patricia Brent, Spinster — and I understand that the whole first half of the book is setup for it, but maybe that’s not where the book wanted to go. And it’s not just my partiality for the makeover section — both halves of the book would have been better if they’d had more space to move. Almost every plot point would have been better for being expanded upon. Still, it’s a delightful, Samuel Hopkins Adams-y romp, and it’s full of bits that couldn’t have been improved upon, like Maud’s fiancé’s appreciation of Darcy, Gloria’s dislike of Maud and Helen, and Jack Remsen and Tom Harmon’s defeat of the subpoena-server. And honestly, I almost never think the second half of a book lives up to the first half, or that a book I like wouldn’t have been even better if it was more detailed, so maybe it’s just me.
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WARSAW, New York – Storybook heroine Maggie Steele will be traveling to the New York State Indoor meet this weekend with eight vaulters who are ready to soar. State qualifiers from the Warsaw Pole Vault Club (PVP) received copies Maggie … Continue readingDisplay Comments Add a Comment
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