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Can solidarity exist? Or is it just a fantasy, a pious dream of the soft of heart and weak of brain? Gross inequality, greed and prejudice: these manifestations of selfishness which stalk our world may seem to invite our condemnation and to call for an alternative – but what if they are part of the natural order?
Discovering Wes Moore is the YA follow up to education advocate, veteran, and Rhodes Scholar Wes Moore’s New York Times bestseller, The Other Wes Moore. The Other Wes Moore is the story of two men with very different paths. While one is heading off to Oxford University on a scholarship, the other was sentenced to life in prison. The Other Wes Moore traces their paths from childhood to adulthood. What went wrong in the life of the other Wes Moore? Discovering Wes Moore is an accessible version of the bestseller, for young readers, requested by teachers.
This Way Home is Wes Moore’s first young adult work of fiction, with Shawn Goodman. Moore and Goodman’s book is set in Baltimore, which has been in the news most recently due to several protests in response to police brutality. Elijah and his friends live for basketball but a street gang threatens to take that all away if the team doesn’t rep their colors. What happens if they don’t give in? What happens when a community takes a stand?
I want them [young people] to say, “He gets my life. He gets what I see. He understands what I know.” — Wes Moore on writing This Way Home
Watch this episode to learn more about Wes’ books, what he is doing to further his service mission as a veteran, and how he’s making attending college a bit easier for young people in Maryland.
We’re giving away three (3) signed copies of Discovering Wes Moore and This Way Home. Enter to win this mini bundle, now!
For fans of “The Wire “and “Unbroken “comes a story of two fatherless boys from Baltimore, both named Wes Moore. One is in prison, serving a life sentence for murder. The other is a Rhodes Scholar, an army veteran, and an author whose book is being turned into a movie produced by Oprah Winfrey.
Two men. One overcame adversity. The other suffered the indignities of poverty. Their stories are chronicled in “Discovering Wes Moore,” a book for young people based on Wes Moore’s bestselling adult memoir, The Other Wes Moore.
The story of the other Wes Moore is one that the author couldn t get out of his mind, not since he learned that another boy with his name just two years his senior grew up in the same Baltimore neighborhood. He wrote that boy now a man a letter, not expecting to receive a reply. But a reply came, and a friendship grew, as letters turned into visits and the two men got to know each other. Eventually, that friendship became the inspiration for “Discovering Wes Moore,” a moving and cautionary tale examining the factors that contribute to success and failure and the choices that make all the difference.
ABOUT THIS WAY HOME
This Way Home by Wes Moore with Shawn Goodman
Published by Delacorte Press/Random House
One young man searches for a place to call home in this gut-wrenching, honest novel from New York Times bestselling author Wes Moore with Shawn Goodman. Elijah Thomas knows one thing better than anyone around him: basketball. At seventeen, he’s earned the reputation of a top-level player, one who steps onto the court ready for battle, whether it’s a neighborhood pickup game or a tournament championship. What Elijah loves most about the game is its predictability: if he and his two best friends play hard and follow the rules, their team will win. And this formula has held true all way up to the summer before their senior year of high school, when a sinister street gang, Blood Street Nation, wants them to wear the Nation’s colors in the next big tournament.
The boys gather their courage and take a stand against the gang, but at a terrible cost. Now Elijah must struggle to balance hope and fear, revenge and forgiveness, to save his neighborhood. For help, he turns to the most unlikely of friends: Banks, a gruff ex-military man, and his beautiful and ambitious daughter. Together, the three work on a plan to destroy Blood Street and rebuild the community they all call home.
This Way Home is a story about reclamation. It’s about taking a stand for what matters most, and the discovery that, in the end, hope, love, and courage are our most powerful weapons.
ABOUT WES MOORE
Via theotherwesmoore.com Wes Moore is a youth advocate, Army combat veteran, social entrepreneur, and host of Beyond Belief on the Oprah Winfrey Network. His first book The Other Wes Moore became an instant New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestseller.
Born in 1978, Wes and his sisters were raised by their widowed mother. Despite early academic and behavioral struggles, he graduated Phi Theta Kappa in 1998 as a commissioned officer from Valley Forge Military College, and Phi Beta Kappa from Johns Hopkins University in 2001, where he also played football and earned a bachelor’s degree in International Relations. He then became a Rhodes Scholar, studying International Relations at Oxford University.
After his studies, Wes, a paratrooper and Captain in the United States Army, served a combat tour of duty in Afghanistan with the 1st Brigade of the 82nd Airborne Division. Wes then served as a White House fellow to Secretary of State Condeleezza Rice. He serves on the board of the Iraq Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), The Johns Hopkins University, and founded an organization called STAND! that works with Baltimore youth involved in the criminal justice system.
Wes is committed to helping the parents, teachers, mentors, and advocates who serve our nations youth. A portion of all book proceeds for “The Other Wes Moore” are being donated to City Year and the US Dream Academy.
LitWorld is counting down the weeks until World Read Aloud Day by highlighting a different strength of read aloud each week.
This week is BELONGING WEEK ("When has reading helped you feel like you belong to a community?")
In my classroom, the books I read aloud bring the class together as a community -- a truth this year in particular.
We started the year with Dan Gemeinhart's THE HONEST TRUTH (I reviewed it last year here.) When we finished, I suggested to the class that we share a "lighter" book next. They were vehemently against it -- they begged me for another book with hard issues that they would feel in their hearts. Another book that would make them gasp with fear, and cry with relief. Another book that would put them in the shoes of a character who is dealing with hard problems.
We had a chance to Skype with Dan Gemeinhart, and he showed us the arc of his next book, SOME KIND OF COURAGE (available January 26). In a stroke of good luck, the arc arrived the next day in a box full of arcs from Scholastic.
SOME KIND OF COURAGE was our second read aloud of the year, and it was all kinds of magic. The book can be compared to THE HONEST TRUTH in its theme, characters, and story arc. Both are stories of quests, but SOME KIND OF COURAGE is historic fiction, rather than realistic fiction. Gemeinhart has the ability to write memorable scenes, and his mixture of sad or nerve-wracking scenes with humorous scenes is masterful. We are Skyping again this Friday, and we feel privileged to be one of the first classes to give him feedback on this book. I don't think I'm giving anything away when I say that we'll be giving him two thumbs up!
Because of a change of schedule, four of my students were going to be missing read aloud two out of the four days we have it. I was completely flummoxed about what I should do. There was just no other time in the schedule when I have them that I could work it in, and I didn't want to deny all the rest of the kids just for those four. I was stuck. Then their teacher came to me and shared that they are feeling the same way. Missing read aloud was a non-negotiable for them. So we worked it out so that my four can stay for read aloud and not miss anything in their other class. WHEW!
If that's not a testament to the strength of our classroom community around our read aloud, I'm not sure what is!
I wanted you to know that I am teaching at Sketchbook Skool for the first time! Sketchbook Skool is an online video course (or ‘kourse” as they say at Sketchbook Skool) that lasts six weeks and has a different teacher every week. We made more than a dozen videos in which I appear telling stories, sharing pages of my sketchbooks and doing some demos. Here’s a video trailer about the kourse
During the week I am teaching, I will be right there with you, answering questions and comments and admiring the artwork you’ll share! It’ll be so fun!
One of the things I love about SBS is the wonderful, supportive community that has developed there. There are thousands of people from around the world, some are professional artists and illustrators, some are complete beginners, all collaborating and encouraging each other. It’s a great experience I think you’ll love, too!
Enrollment starts today and the kourse begins on January 15th. I hope to see you in klass!
As a special treat (and for the very first time ever) Sketchbook Skool is offering a 20% discount only to members of Illustration Friday — like you. When you check out, just use the code: Pennyatskool2016and do it soon — it expires on January 15th.
I'm writing a haiku-a-day again this December (inspired loosely by Bob Raczka's The Santa Clauses). I wrote a haiku-a-day last December, too, but it was different last year.
I wrote alone.
This year, I invited my Poetry Month Partner in Craziness, Carol (Carol's Corner) to join me. I put my links out on Twitter and one of my other Poetry Month Partners in Craziness, Steve (Inside the Dog) agreed to come along. A new writing partner, Leigh Anne Eck (A Day in the Life), has joined in. My students (well, some of them) are writing a haiku-a-day between arrival and morning announcements/beginning of content time.
I am not alone.
And as if I needed to be bludgeoned repeatedly with the idea before it would truly sink in -- I am learning (again) that while the writing habit opens my eyes to the world, encourages me to NOTICE (my One Little Word for the year), and instills discipline, it is the community and the conversations that make it a writing LIFE.
Each year in July, I greet a new group of post-doctoral psychiatric trainees ('residents,' 'registrars') for a year's work in our psychiatric outpatient clinic. One of the rewards of being a psychiatric educator is witnessing the professional growth of young clinicians as they mature into seasoned, competent, and humanistic psychiatrists.
In this podcast (click through to download or connect to online player), LeeAnna Mills, Former Legislative Chair and Past President of the Alabama School Library Association, librarian at Northside Middle School and District Library Media Coordinator for Tuscaloosa County Schools, discusses how you can use data to reach administrators, school board members, and legislators in support of library services for young people.
Wendy Stephens is a member of the YALSA Advocacy Resources Taskforce.
LEE & LOW BOOKS has two writing contests for unpublished authors of color: the New Voices Award, for picture book manuscripts, and the New Visions Award, for middle grade and young adult manuscripts.Both contests, which are now open for submissions aim to recognize the diverse voices and talent among new authors of color who might otherwise remain under the radar of mainstream publishing.
In this guest post, we wanted to highlight another groundbreaking writing contest that’s bringing attention to marginalized voices and fostering a love of writing in students: the Celebrate America Writing Contest run by the American Immigration Council. Coming into its 19th year, the Celebrate America Writing Contest for fifth graders has been bringing attention to the contributions of immigrants in America through the eyes and pens of our youngest writers.
In this guest post, Claire Tesh, Senior Manager of Education at the American Immigration Council, discusses the mission of the Celebrate America Writing Contest and how it has helped to shape the immigration narrative.
It is impossible to escape the negative vitriol and hateful rhetoric around the issue of immigration that dominates the headlines, talk radio, popular culture, and in some cases the dinner table. In an effort to educate children and communities about the value of immigration to our society The American Immigration Council teams up with schools and community groups to provide young people the resources and information necessary to think critically about immigration from both a historical and contemporary perspective, while working collaboratively and learning about themselves and their communities.
The American Immigration Council developed “Celebrate America,” an annual national creative writing contest for fifth graders, because they are at the age where they are discovering their place in the world both locally and globally. They are also finding their own voice, opinions and ideas through writing, creating and sharing. Students at this age start making sense of current events; they have a better working knowledge of basic history, and have a sense of global awareness.
Thousands of Entries
“Celebrate America” began 19 years ago with just a couple dozen entries. Today it has grown to over 5,000 entries annually! Since 1997 a total of close to 75,000 students have participated in two dozen cities, in nearly 750 schools and community centers across the nation.
As the lead on the contest since 2006, I have read thousands of entries and have attended numerous events featuring the writers. It is difficult to pick just one example, but in 2008 the winning entry America is a Refuge really showed how much a 10-12 year old can comprehend about the issue. That year, the winner, Cameron Busby, explained to a reporter from the Tucson Citizen that “I want to be a horror writer when I grow up,” and in order to tell the story of America being a place people come to be safe and thrive, he used bits and pieces of some of his classmate’s true horror stories of their own or their family member’s immigration journeys. This excerpt shows the young writer’s entry and how he made sense of injustice and how America has always been a nation symbolic as a beacon for hope:
A small child holds out a hoping
a crumb of bread,
or even a penny just to be fed
Hoping America is a refuge. A
child weeps over her mother’s
the tears streaming down her
Praying America is a refuge.
Part of the reason why it’s a popular contest is because it fits neatly with the fifth grade curriculum and it is easy for teachers to implement by offering timely lessons and expository learning opportunities from classroom visits by experts to interactive web-based games. The contest is unique in that it allows for any written work that captures the essence of why the writer is proud that America is a nation of immigrants and students can express themselves through narrative, descriptive, expository, or persuasive writings, poetry, and other forms of written expressions. The teaching and learning opportunities the contest brings to both the classroom and the community has made it very popular and most teachers who participate do so year after year.In the Classroom
Monica Chun, a teacher from Seattle who has participated in the contest for several years and whose student, Erin Stark, was a national winner in 2013, starts the assignment by asking students to ask their relatives at home a question: “Who was the first person in our family to come to America?” No matter what ethnicity or how recent or distant a family’s arrival be, every student is going to have a unique answer to this question.
Involving the Community
”Celebrate America” encourages youth, families and surrounding communities to evaluate and appreciate the effects of immigration in their own lives. The unique contest includes the following components:
Immigration attorneys or trained volunteers visit classrooms, whether in person or virtually. The visitors give short presentations about the history of American immigration and the contributions immigrants have made over the years;
Teachers complement the contest by implementing lessons about immigration, social justice and diversity into their curriculum;
The American Immigration Council provides classrooms with innovative, relevant, and interactive lessons and resources;
Communities organize events, naturalization ceremonies and other celebrations to showcase the local winners;
The winning entry from each locale is sent to the national office and judged by well-known journalists, immigration judges and award winning authors;
The winning entry is read into the Congressional record, a flag is flown over the Capitol in the winner’s honor and the winner reads their entry at a 700+ person event that celebrates immigration; and
In the submissions the youth voice brings hope that there will be solutions to the immigration debate.
The American Immigration Council believes that teachers, parents, and students are essential to building a collective movement toward a better future: in our classrooms, in our schools, and in the larger society. With the community’s engagement, educators, parents and students can help bridge this divide and approach the issue of immigration with intelligence and empathy.
The contest has an impact not only in the schools and communities that participate, but also in the halls of Congress. Each year when the winning entry is read into the Congressional Record, it is rewarding to know that our leaders are hearing words of wisdom from a young person who has big ideas and who has chosen to use their voice to invite others to learn about immigration and to celebrate America’s diversity.
When the winning entries are read to new citizens at naturalization ceremonies or at dinner galas in communities of all sizes, almost every attendee has tears in their eyes because the young readers are speaking from their hearts and they represent the future. Each and every year the young writers continue to surprise us with the depth and empathy in their writings whether it is their common sense solutions to an immigration system or the story of their own immigrant background. Any writer, no matter how old and how experienced, should look at these entries to get a sense for authentic voice and various styles of writing. The thousands of students who submit to the contest get recognized in their communities and the affect is exponential because students start in the classroom and their voice continues to be shared within their schools, within their communities and beyond.
The students participating in “Celebrate America” are America’s future citizens, voters, educators and activists and it is truly an honor to shape the contest so that it provides some of the tools to think critically about immigration and to learn to explore the economic and moral effects of immigration policy as they engage in the public debates. But, today as we try to navigate the complicated maze that is immigration law and policy, it is through their incredible choice of words, that they are our guides, our teachers, and our voices of reason.
For further information on eligibility and submission process:
Coming May 26th, from Running Press Kids: Butterfly Park
by Award-Winning Author/Illustrator Elly MacKay
Running Press Kids is teaming up with select blogs to promote a very special picture book artist, Elly MacKay. Elly MacKay creates paper worlds inside a miniature lightbox theater, and turns those worlds into picture books. The images in her upcoming picture book, BUTTERFLY PARK, are nothing short of breathtaking. Let others know about Elly MacKay and her tour @Twitter: #ButterflyTrail
“Once there was a girl who loved butterflies. And when she moved to a new town, she felt lucky to find a place nearby called Butterfly Park! But when she opened the gate, there were no butterflies to be found.
“The girl tried to catch some butterflies and asked neighborhood children to help bring them to Butterfly Park. But to their disappointment, the butterflies didn’t stay. As the entire town got involved, they finally realized what they needed to do. Together, the girl and her community planted flowers in Butterfly Park, and in time, the butterflies came.” [publisher]
Running Press Kids has put together a special illustration tour, each Tuesday, leading up to the late May release date of Butterfly Park. Why an illustration tour, and not a “normal” book tour? MacKay used her acclaimed paper-cut artwork, giving each spread a 3-dimensional look. While knocking on neighbors’ doors, looking for help, the kids look like they could dance right off the page. Paper-cut art must be a tedious labor of love. The result is a magnificent picture book, with a final 4-page spread worthy of framing. The book jacket is also a poster of flowers that entice butterflies. To WIN YOUR OWN COPY of Butterfly Park, all it takes is a comment. Winner announced on Monday, May 11th.
Well, this is an image reveal, so here it is, the left half of spread number ten:
It took them up and down through the town. Curiosity grew. Windows and doors began to open.
“Centered on the park’s elaborate art nouveau gateway, MacKay’s lyrical paper collage and diorama constructs feature layered details and out-of-focus backgrounds for a sense of depth. Brightly patterned butterflies, delicate flowers, and human figures pose like gracefully off-balance dancers…. Worthy of theme and equally pleasing to the eye and the spirit.” ~~Kirkus Reviews
“MacKay’s artwork recreates the feel and pleasure of Edwardian-era illustration, and lovers of picture book fantasy will embrace it.” ~~Publishers Weekly
Butterfly Park Written and Illustrated by Elly MacKay Published by Running Press Kids 978-0-7624-5339-9 May 26, 2015 38 pages Age 3 +
2014 Blue Spruce™ Award Nominee – Ontario Library Association 2013 Best Bets Top 10 Picture Books – Ontario Library Association 2013 Best Books List (preschool—early elementary) – Atlanta Parent Magazine
2014 Best Books of the Year (children—teens) – Amazon Canada
About Elly MacKay Elly MacKay is the author and illustrator of If You Hold a Seed and Shadow Chasers. She attends Nova Scotia College of Art and Design, and now her artwork is sold around the world, including her Etsy.com shop, Theater Clouds.
The quandary: You want to support someone's new book and as much as you'd like to buy it, you can't. Perhaps you can't justify the cost of the new book right now. Perhaps your author friend is prolific and has multiple books coming out, and you can't afford to get them all. Perhaps you have so many author and illustrator friends that if you tried to buy all their books, you'd need to sell your car first. Or your house.
Here are some other ways you can show support for an author's book:
First, read the book. How do you read it without buying it? Borrow it from the library. For picture books, you could even read the book AT the bookstore.
Reserve a copy at the library. At least at some libraries, this helps show the library that at least one person is interested in that book. If popular enough, the library may order more copies.
Review/rate the book. Post a rating and/or review in sites like Goodreads, LibraryThing, Amazon, BN.com or your own blog. If you didn't like the book, don't lie. Nilofer Merchant suggests using a phrase like "this book is not for you if you are xxx" because even this kind of negative review may help others know the book IS for them. Take a few extra minutes to browse the other reviews of the book and then (if the feature's available) Like the reviews that you did like or found helpful.
When you read the book, read it where people can see it. Not sure about the rest of you, but I'm always surreptitiously checking out the covers of books that people read in public. This is where print books have the advantage of digital. Read the book on public transit, in the park, on the beach, at the airport, while waiting in line. You never know when people will decide to check out the book just because they saw you enjoying it.
Recommend the book to others through social media. Including the book cover (either scoop the cover image from the publisher/author/illustrator website or photograph the book cover in the library or bookstore) especially helps. Even just a short "Loved this book!" along with the cover will be appreciated. You can make it even more personal by adding a reason why you loved it. Take the time to tag the author or illustrator; tagging not only alerts the author/illustrator to the post but it also encourages people to click your tag link to find out more about the person.
Share and retweet the author's or illustrator's posts. Be judicious -- don't share/retweet everything, especially if you tend to share/retweet a lot on your feed. To authors and illustrators: make sure your post is PUBLIC if you want it shared. I can't tell you the number of times I've started to share someone's FB post but then discovered that it's a Friends-Only post; even if I shared it, the only people who see it would be our shared friends who already have it in their feed. If you're confused, read this FB support page about how to control who sees your posts.
Post a photo of the book in the wild. Especially around launch time, I find that social media sometimes gets inundated with images of just the book cover. Make your post more personal by taking a selfie of you holding the author's book, or another reader with the book -- photos with people in them always get more Like-love. Or take a photo in a fun setting, like adding a cup of tea beside a picture book about a tea party, for example. Or if you see the book in your local bookstore or library, take a photo and tag the author or illustrator. I can't speak for other author/illustrators, of course, but I always appreciate when someone does this.
If the author or illustrator is on YouTube, subscribe to their channel so you can more easily find out when they upload new trailers or videos.
Talk about the book. Don't underestimate the power of word-of-mouth. Recommend the book to friends, work colleagues, your local bookseller and librarian. When a friend of mine recommends a book they personally like and think I'd like, too, I pay MUCH more attention than when I see a generic "this new book just came out, you should get it!" post on social media.
Whether or not you can afford to buy my book(s), THANK YOU SO MUCH to everyone who has supported me and my work! I really appreciate it.
Do you have other suggestions about how to support book authors and illustrators? Please post below.
The Mumbai slums have recently achieved a weird kind of celebrity status. Whatever the considerable merits of the film Slum Dog Millionaire and the best-selling book by Katherine Boo, Behind the Beautiful Forevers (now also a play and a film), these works have contributed to the making of a contemporary horror myth.
[Editor’s Note: In response to our announcement last week that Illustration Friday will be focusing more heavily on the art of idea generation, illustrator Shawn Ferreyra reached out with us to share his own process for coming up with new ideas. What follows is an intimate look at Shawn’s idea generation methods in his own words. You too can share your techniques through our contact page.]
I came to illustrating via theater via playwriting via screenwriting via comics. This is one of many exercises I learned back in my playwriting days that I’ve adapted for illustration. I hope this is helpful!
Go to Staples or whatever and get a 3×5 index card holder and fill it with blank 3×5 index cards. Carry it with you at all times along with a sharpie or a felt tip pen. Nothing fancy.
Start an observation diary. Not a diary of your thoughts or feelings. A diary of your observations. On index cards. Not in a notebook. On index cards. One card per observation. Don’t write on both sides. Don’t date your cards.
Overheard a wall street guy say something cringe worthy? Write down what you heard. Saw an interesting person on the subway? Draw them. No more than 3 minutes. Street preacher said something crazy? Write it down. Saw an interesting still life? Draw it. No more than 3 minutes. Saw a woman reading and laughing out loud hoping someone would ask her what’s funny? Describe it in as few words as possible. Saw a gorgeous cityscape or landscape? Draw it. No more than 3 minutes. See someone constantly blinking when they speak? Describe it in as few words as necessary.
Do this for a few weeks, maybe a month. At the end of the month, lay all your cards out on a huge table. Start organizing them. How should you organize them? I don’t know, there is no should. Your mind is going to make you see patterns. You’re going to start to see things that go together. You’re going to start to see bits and pieces coalesce to suddenly become fully realized ideas.
You’re going to start to realize that the cards aren’t just your observations, but fragments of how you perceive the world, what you’re obsessed with, what you’ve been thinking about and wishing for. Your unconscious mind has been meditating and mulling these things over this whole time, and you’ve just tricked yourself into showing them to your conscious mind.
Thanks so much to Shawn Ferreyra for sharing his idea generation process. Want to help make Illustration Friday more of a place of learning? Leave some thoughts in the comments or send us your own process for coming up with ideas and shaking up your conscious mind here.
Building Writing Communities Community is defined by Merriam Webster as: a group of people who live in the same area (such as a city, town, or neighborhood) a group of people who have the… Continue reading →