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1. 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #398: Featuring Ninja Cat Vs. Angel Cat

Hi, dear kickers. The illustrations I had planned to share today aren’t up, because I had some issues with the image files. Well, most of the images are fine, but two of them are not, so I’ll just wait. I’ll get that fixed soon (I hope) and post about the book another day.

But since posting without images is just not something I can tolerate here at 7-Imp, I’m sharing a piece of art my 10-year-old made. She and her sister are all the time drawing ninja cats, and this particular image cracks me up. It’s the age-old narrative of good vs. evil. This time it’s Ninja Cat vs. Angel Cat. Who will win?

Note for any new readers: 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks is a weekly meeting ground for taking some time to reflect on Seven(ish) Exceptionally Fabulous, Beautiful, Interesting, Hilarious, or Otherwise Positive Noteworthy Things from the past week, whether book-related or not, that happened to you. New kickers are always welcome.

* * * Jules’ Kicks * * *

Forgive me for this super short post, but I’m going to let kicks 1 to 7 be sleep. Sleep when you really need it. I’ve had a long, busy day, and I’m going to put myself to bed.

But please do tell me: What are YOUR kicks this week? I always enjoy reading them.

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2. How to Survive in a Bookstore as an Author

Industry Life

by. Adam Silvera

I’ve worked in bookstores on and off for five years now. I started off at Barnes & Noble in 2009 before accepting a job at my favorite independent children’s bookstore the fall of 2011 where I’m back working part-time. I’ve also been hanging with a lot of local New York authors who aren’t sure about protocol with setting up launch parties, pitching panels, signing stock, etc.. so here’s a post with how we’ve handled things in the stores I’ve worked at with the understanding that all stores – especially indies – operate differently. Okay, let’s battle.

First, figure out who the go-to person for events and author care is. Sometimes it’s an events manager, events coordinator, special projects manager, the owner, a bookseller with extra responsibility, whatever the title, this is the person you’re going to be harassing/befriending. Helpful Person can assist with planning any events you want to put together and will also keep you in mind for any panels the bookstore is putting together on their end. If you have a publicist, they can also coordinate all this for you, but sometimes it’s just easier if they’re CC’ed and chime in at all the right times.

LAUNCH PARTIES

Bookstores love hosting launch parties, especially for local authors who can usually guarantee a great turnout and excited family members who will each buy ten copies for their neighbor, doctor, dentist, ex-wife, etc. New York authors (or authors launching in New York) are especially lucky because they benefit from their publishing team coming out to celebrate. Bookstores can plan events anywhere from a week to eight months so take the initiative to reach out to the bookstore to lock down the date yourself. It’s rare that a bookstore will say no to hosting an author if they have staffing and an available evening, but if an author is turned away it might be because of too short a notice to order books or concern with getting an audience. Don’t expect to the bookstore to draw in the crowd alone, definitely help promote it across all your platforms so everyone can make money. It’s a business – a charming business, but a business. It costs money to bring it books and it costs money to return them.

EVENTS

Pretty much the same deal as above. If you’re an out of towner, bookstores still want to host you! The only time they’ll shy away is if you’ve already done an event with another store in the area that week or month. Getting readers to come back out can be difficult unless you’re part of a group panel where there’s an opportunity for you to be introduced to the fans of another panelist. Panels are awesome, by the way, especially if you have a theme. Feel free to pitch your Super Special Panel of Super Specialness to a bookstore with multiple available dates and times for all authors and the contact information of all your publicists.

PRE-ORDERS

Independent bookstores love taking pre-orders! Yes, they take pre-orders and can usually be done directly through the bookstore. You should also check out indiebound so we can continue to have awesome bookstores that carry our awesome books and host our awesome events. It’s also a good opportunity to work with the bookstore to offer your readers a little extra something as incentive, like a poster of your book cover, special keychains and buttons, signed copies, etc. You or your publisher produce that swag and send it to the bookstore and the bookstore promotes it accordingly through their website, online platforms, and newsletters. (Trust me, I’ve seen a keychain boost sales, don’t shrug it off.)

SIGNING STOCK

Are you only in town for a hot second but want to sign stock for a bookstore? Awesome! Let the bookstore know in advance (like at least a week or two) so they can order a sufficient amount of stock for you to sign. Don’t let them know day of because they may only have three copies. Or zero. After you sign stock, be sure to direct interested customers to where you’ve signed stock so everyone (author, bookseller, customer) will be happy.

THANK YOU, BOOKSTORE! 

Lastly, don’t feel bad if you’ve never done this, but find a special way to say thank you. Thank You cards are so perfect and so are Thank You cupcakes. Even writing a little something extra in a bookseller’s copy of your book goes a long way. And if you become a big name trying to figure out where to have your next launch party, be sure to remember the bookstore that took a chance on you before anyone knew who you were.

Okay, hope this helps! I’m sure I’ve missed stuff so feel free to ask me anything in the comments section. Happy Friday!

adamfaceauthor

Adam was born and raised in the Bronx, New York and is tall for no reason. In the past he worked as a marketing assistant for a literary development company. He’s currently a children’s bookseller and reviews children’s and young adult novels for Shelf Awareness. His debut novel, More Happy Than Notabout a boy who wants to undergo a memory-alteration procedure to forget he’s gay, will be available June 16th, 2015 from Soho Teen. Go say stuff to him on Twitter.

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3. Three Bears in a Boat – Perfect Picture Book Friday

Title: Three Bears in a Boat Written and illustrated By: David Soman Published By: Dial Books for Young Readers, 2014, Fiction Themes/Topics: boating, bears, adventure Suitable for ages: 3-7   Opening: Once there were three bears, Dash, Charlie and Theo, who lived by the … Continue reading

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4. Maggie Vaults to “Battle of the Books” List!

Maggie Vaults Over the Moon is listed among the great reads on the 2014-15 Battle of the Books list in the Wichita Diocese Catholic Schools. The Battle of the Books is a popular reading contest for 5th and 6th graders … Continue reading

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5. The Science of Poetry @ #ALSC14

I love science, and I love poetry, so attending this session was a slam-dunk decision for me! This program was hosted by Sylvia Vardell and featured the poets Alma Flor Ada, Susan Blackaby, F. Isabel Campoy, & Janet Wong

Sylvia Vardell started us off by reading a poem call ed “Recycling” by Susan Blackaby, then walked us through the steps of “Take 5 with Poetry & Science:”
1. Read the poem aloud
2. Read again, inviting kids to participate in the reading
3. Discuss and research the poem and its topic
4. Connect the poem to a specific science topic with a demonstration or hands-on activity
5. Share more, related poems & other readings

Susan Blackaby shared some of her lovely poems and discussed the connections and similarities between poetry and science. Both science and poetry require precision, careful use of language, trying and trying again, and making revisions. Both use observation and description. Both are beautiful.
She also told us how, when her book Nest, Nook, & Cranny was reviewed by a biologist to make sure she had all the science right in her animal poems, there were no problems with the simple poems… but she had a wrong fact about beavers that forced her to make a change to her villanelle, a poetry form so complicated that “it can just reduce a poet to tears.”

Alma Flor Ada talked about the importance of children seeing “people like them” reflected in the people and subjects they read and study about. She said, “I think every child needs to know the richness and diversity of everyone who contributes to culture and science.” Ms. Ada read us a lovely essay from her and Isabel Campoy’s book Yes! We Are Latinos. Isabel Campoy followed with another moving essay from the book.

Janet Wong shared her insight on the value of reading poetry aloud with children, not just studying poems on the page. Reading aloud together, discussing poems, joining in and making connections with the poetry are much more engaging then dissecting them as a written assignment. She also talked about something that disturbs Janet Wong: at teacher conferences, her general poetry anthology sells out quickly, & some teachers say “Oh, you only have the science book left? I don’t do science.” That’s not responsible, Janet says, because teachers model their attitudes towards science to their students.

All of the poets talked about the ways that science poetry can be both a way into science for kids who think science isn’t for them… and a way into poetry for kids who think they aren’t poets.

The excellent handout from this session lists the books these poets have written, lots more books of science poetry, and a long list of websites to suppor science learning (and link to science poetry):

http://www.ala.org/alsc/sites/ala.org.alsc/files/content/NI14Handouts/ALSCHandoutScienceofPoetry.pdf

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6. Making Advocacy Awesome @ #ALSC14

Making Advocacy Awesome @ #ALSC14

My first program of the conference was led by the awesome triple-threat team of Jenna Nemec-Loise, Helen Bloch, and Katie O’Dell. They jam-packed their session with information and inspiration to turn us all into powerful advocates for libraries and children’s services.

Jenna Nemec-Loise started us off with a tour of the excellent & comprehensive resources on the ALSC Everyday Advocacy Website: www.ala.org/everyday-advocacy, and described the elements of advocacy:
Be Informed
Engage w/ Community
Speak Out
Get Inspired
Share Your Advocacy Story

Helen Bloch talked about “building the foundation,” or having the groundwork already done, the relationships already established, etc. so that you are ready to advocate for your library at any time- to respond to crisis or to seize an opportunity.
Think about advocacy in terms of Who, What, Where, When, Why, & How.
Who- budget deciders, possible allies, local media
What- Demonstrate the value of the library and of children’s services
Where- Advocacy takes place both inside & outside the library
When- All the time
Why- the work we do is important!

Katie O’Dell explored the roles of advocacy- for administrators, frontline children’s staff, as a partner of other organizations, & more.

After the panelists’ presentations, we formed breakout groups:

Jenna Nemec-Loise led a group in developing example elevator speeches, using a 3-step process:
Identify a group you serve, list one service or program you provide to them, & describe it in terms of why that’s important. This was mine:
“I help childcare providers find & use resources to transform their centers into rich learning environments.”

Katie O’Dell walked the group through her excellent planning form for developing an advocacy campaign (posted online here: http://www.ala.org/alsc/sites/ala.org.alsc/files/content/NI14Handouts/MakingAdvocacyAwesomeProjectManagertemplate%20%281%29.pdf)

Helen Bloch led a brainstorm to identify actual and potential allies to help spread and support the library’s advocacy message.

We finished by banging the drum loudly as we cheered for advocacy and went forth to change minds and save the world!

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7. Alison Bechdel, MacArthur Fellow, 2014

tumblr_nc25b7qq501rr9j8oo1_400

Image via Out Magazine

bechdel_2014_hi-res-download_2_2-1024x682Congratulations to cartoonist and graphic memoirist Alison Bechdel, one the 2014 MacArthur Foundation Fellows, or “genius grant” honorees, whose work in comics and narrative has helped to transform and elevate our understanding of women—”Dykes to Watch Out For” in all their expressions, mothers and daughters,  and the implications of social and political changes on those who dwell everyday in a broad variety of female-identified bodies. Additionally, Bechdel is well-known in film studies circles for her duplicitously simple three-question test for gender parity, which has drawn broad attention since first delivered via her 1985 strip “The Rule.”

From the Washington Post:

1) Does it have two female characters?

2) Who talk to each other?

3) About something other than a man?

If the answer to all three questions is yes, the film passes the Bechdel test.

Bechdel is also the subject of two feature-length interviews in Hillary L. Chute’s Outside the Box: Interviews with Contemporary Cartoonists, and a contributor to Critical Inquiry’s special issue Comics & Mediaboth of which were released this year. Below, see video footage of a Bechdel/Chute interview from 2011, when Chute visited Bechdel at her home in Jericho, Vermont:

To read more about Outside the Box or the Comics & Media issue of CI, click here.

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8. Firebird: A Chat withMisty Copeland and Christopher Myers

Ballet is so rigorous and formally precise. I spent a lot of time watching videos of ballet and going to see Misty dance specifically, because as precise as ballet is, the specificity of her art was most important to me. I wanted not just to capture the excitement of ballet, but the thrill of watching Misty perform those precision moves, the artistry that she brings to it.”

 

Today over at Kirkus, I talk with Misty Copeland and Christopher Myers (pictured above), the creators of Firebird, a picture book released by Putnam this month. That’s Chris quoted above, who is talking about Misty’s work as the second African American soloist in the history of the American Ballet Theatre.

That link will be here soon, and next week here at 7-Imp, I’ll have some artwork from the book.

* * * * * * *

Photos used with permission. Photo of Misty taken by Gregg Delman.

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9. Good morning, Kidlit and GOODNIGHT, ARK! Laura Sassi’s Debut! (plus a giveaway!)

Originally posted on Writing for Kids (While Raising Them):

Good morning, writers! (Yawn! Stretch! Crack fingers. Sip tea.)

Let me tell you the reason for my uber-early morn, besides rousting my middle-schooler from her zombie-slumber. Not only do I have a SCBWI event at a “hipster cafe” (according to said middle-schooler), but I’m here to announce another debut by a friend! I’m pleased to share with you an adorable Noah’s ark tale, GOODNIGHT, ARK by Laura Sassi. Once again, a picture book writer makes a breakthrough with a new twist on a familiar theme.

goodnightarkLaura, a lot of time on this blog is spent talking about inspiration and story ideas (because of PiBoIdMo). What’s the genesis of GOODNIGHT, ARK?

First off, I just love your play on words here. The Biblical story of Noah’s ark is indeed found in Genesis! And I’ve always loved the story of Noah and the flood and all those animals packed in the ark…

View original 1,186 more words


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10. Welcome Margo Kelly, Author of Who R U Really?

Hi all–I’m so excited to help announce the release of Margo Kelly’s WHO R U REALLY? I love to hear about “path to publication” stories and Margo was kind enough to share her experience with us today. After you read about her inspiring journey, don’t forget to enter the Goodreads contest below…and then go check out Margo’s book!

Margo Kelly’s Path to Publication

In January, 2009, I decided I wanted to change careers and pursue a long forgotten dream of becoming a published author. Sound familiar? I purchased Janet Evanovich’s HOW I WRITE and Writer’s Digest’s GUIDE TO LITERARY AGENTS, and I began my research into the industry.

Six months later, I finished my first manuscript, MANIFESTED, and I started sending out query letters. The rejections flooded in. I had tough skin. I knew rejections were part of the process, but one of the form letters pushed me over the edge. I struck a match and sent the rejection up in flames. (Yes, that was back in the days of snail mail.) Then I took a deep breath and went back to querying.

I also started writing my next manuscript. I read more books on the craft of writing, subscribed to magazines and journals that would help me better my skills, wrote flash fiction to tighten my story telling, and connected with two great critique partners that I met through online communities.

A year later, in August, 2010, I had finished my second manuscript, THE EDUCATION OF THIA, and began to send out query letters. The requests for partials and fulls came in right away! I was so excited! But then rejections followed. I paid attention to the agents’ feedback, because I wanted to improve the story and make it saleable, but it was tricky, because while one said, “The main character is too naive” another said, “The main character sounds too adult.” I revised none-the-less.

With a bright and shiny polished version of the story, I headed off to my first writer’s conference. I met up with my critique partner, Melissa, and we had an absolute blast. Plus, two agents at the conference requested my full manuscript, and I just knew one of these fabulous agents was going to offer me a contract. Yes-sir-ee!! I went home too excited to work on any writing. I was waiting to hear from the agents.

More than a month later, I sent very polite follow-up emails to the two agents from the conference. Both responded, explaining how busy they were (of course, I understood, I wanted them to take care of their current clients first, that made sense). But I was demoralized. I couldn’t seem to start a new manuscript. So I pulled out MANIFESTED and dusted it off. I figured I could work on rewriting it and improving it until I found my writing mojo again.

Three months later, one of the conference agents emailed to tell me she’d decided to shelve my manuscript, unread. She was no longer looking for new clients. By the summer of 2011, the second conference agent emailed and apologized for the delay in reading my manuscript. She said the writing was great, but it didn’t excite her enough to offer me representation.

My tough skin had been broken, and I wasn’t sure I wanted to continue down this publishing path. Then I was diagnosed with a rare 12mm lesion in the middle of my brain. After a lot of time and money, the specialists decided there was nothing they could do about it. I had to reevaluate my life, my priorities, and my goals. What if my time was limited here on earth? How would I want to spend it? Through self-evaluation, I realized writing was still important to me, and as a result I refocused my efforts with great fervor.

On November 11, 2011, I sent out eleven queries for BUT HE LOVES ME (formerly known as The Education of Thia). A dream agent from my dream agency requested a partial the same day (it was a Friday). Monday, she requested the full. Wednesday, she requested a phone call. Thursday, we discussed ideas for revisions. I loved all of her suggestions, and my mojo exploded! She said if I could accomplish these revisions, she’d offer me formal representation. I wanted it! I got to work, and I was on fire! I sent her the revised manuscript about a week and a half later (I know, it sounds like I rushed it, but I’m telling you: I was ON FIRE!!). She read it right away and requested more revisions. I got right back to work. I was still excited about the process, and I was thrilled to think that someone had caught the “vision” of my story. While I was busy working on more revisions, she surprised me and mailed me a contract! YES! Not to mention, in the time I was working with her on revisions, other agents had requested partials and fulls. Out of respect, I contacted them to let them know I’d received an offer. One of the agents told me I’d be nuts to not accept the offer from this great agency.

On December 12, 2011, I signed with Brianne Johnson of Writers House. I’ve been smiling ever since, because I have the best agent from the best agency.

From there, we finalized revisions and made another title change before sending the manuscript out on submission. It took a while to sell, partly because the main character’s age put the story on the fence between middle-grade and young adult. However, Jacquelyn Mitchard of Merit Press (an imprint of F+W Media) saw the “merit” in the story and made an offer. With another title change and more revisions, the book, WHO R U REALLY?, will finally be published on September 18, 2014.

Now I’m polishing my next manuscript, and I’ve already started writing another. The publishing process certainly requires persistence and patience, but the future is so exciting.

*************************

Margo Kelly is a native of the Northwest and currently resides in Idaho. A veteran public speaker, she is now actively pursuing her love of writing. Who R U Really? is her first novel. Margo welcomes the opportunities to speak to youth groups, library groups, and book clubs.

Follow her online:
Website: www.margokelly.net
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MargoKelly.author
Twitter: @MargoWKelly
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/margokelly

Scheduled Appearances:
September 26, 2014 – 5pm – Book Signing at Hastings in Meridian, Idaho
September 27, 2014 – 4pm – Book Signing at Hastings on Overland in Boise, Idaho
October 3, 2014 – 7pm – Book Launch Party at Hyde Park Books in Boise, Idaho
October 11, 2014 – 4pm – Book Signing at Barnes & Noble in Boise, Idaho

**************************

Who R U Really?

When Thea discovers a new role-playing game online, she breaks her parents’ rules to play. And in the world of the game, Thea falls for an older boy named Kit whose smarts and savvy can’t defeat his near-suicidal despair. Soon, he’s texting her, asking her to meet him, and talking in vague ways about how they can be together forever. As much as she suspects that this is wrong, Thea is powerless to resist Kit’s allure, and hurtles toward the very fate her parents feared most. Who R U Really? will excite you and scare you, as Thea’s life spins out of control.

who r u really

 

“Kelly has painted a realistic picture of how a smart girl can get caught up in something dangerous online. … Guaranteed to give readers goosebumps.” — School Library Journal. (http://www.bookverdict.com)

“Thea’s mistakes, while frustrating to encounter, are frighteningly plausible, and the relationships among characters are well–fleshed out, especially between mother and daughter. Kelly’s first novel is a suspenseful page-turner.” — Kirkus Reviews (www.kirkusreviews.com)

Who R U Really? will be published in hardcover and e-book versions by Merit Press (F+W Media) on September 18, 2014.

Win a copy of Who R U Really? on Goodreads here:  https://www.goodreads.com/giveaway/show/103716-who-r-u-really

Buy online:
Amazon
Barnes & Noble
Merit Press

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11. An Open Letter from Sharon G. Flake

sharonflakepicI am writing to you because I believe you are unstoppable.  And that this is a quality you try to instill in the young people you work with or influence.

On September 30, 2014, my new novel, Unstoppable Octobia May, will hit bookstores nationwide.  On that day I would love you and/or the young people you influence to join me in shouting out to the world that they too are unstoppable by holding up the following sign, words, image:

I AM UNSTOPPABLE

#UNSTOPPABLEOCTOBIAMAY

If you and the young people you influence feel as if you’d like to show the world what skills make you/them unstoppable–while unstoppablealso holding up the sign–great!  All this year I will be doing one thing or another as I try to get young people to express what makes them unstoppable.

In my novel Unstoppable Octobia May, a young girl is doggedly chasing down secrets as well as the truth regarding a boarder in her aunt’s boarding home.  She is unstoppable and so are you and the young people you impact.

If you would like to join me in this effort, do let me know. On September 30th post your signs, etc. on Twitter and Facebook, create vines, have fun, all while making sure to include the following:

I Am Unstoppable

#UNSTOPPABLEOCTOBIAMAY

It is time we all let the world know just what we think of young people and what they think of themselves.  Unstoppable!  Determined!  Powerful! That’s who they are.  That’s who we want them to be.

Thanks.  And do let me know if you plan to participate.  And do pass this along!

You can reach Sharon through her website: http://www.sharongflake.com/.


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12. THIS SAT 9/20 BOOK FAIR!

Just learned of the HUGE Book Fair in Princeton this Sat.  So if you can get there, and like book fairs, (who doesn’t) this one is a must!….lots of BIG names…including our very own Melissa Iwai and Anne Rockwell with their TRUCK STOP (from Viking).  stop and say hello!

http://bookfestival.princetonlibrary.org/

 


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13. If My Dream is all about Me, Can I Help Someone Else in a Dream?

We can dream for ourselves and we can dream for others.

Dreaming for Another

It is often said by dream experts that the dream is all about the dreamer so when we work with a dream we use methods that help the dreamer see each part of the dream as being a part of herself or himself. When this is done and the dream is worked through, the dreamer receives gifts of insight, solution and healing. If I can help myself through my dreams, can I use them to help other people—even though they are about me?

The answer is a definite “Yes!” In fact, studies done by Henry Reed, Ph.D. of the Edgar Cayce Institute for Intuitive Studies have shown that dreams are very effective when they are intended to help another person. Dr. Reed has even demonstrated in The Dream Helper Ceremony that a group of dreamers can intend to have a dream that will help a member of their group—and can even do so without that member even conveying the nature of his or her issue! The group of dreamers report dreams that can give more helpful information, often diagnose the issue, or possibly provide a solution for the member seeking help. These dreams also, at the same time, offer an important message solely for the person who dreamed the dream. On doing this exercise in my dream classes I found the same results among the class participants.

Why? It seems that empathy is at work here on the part of the dreamer. The intuitive dreaming mind is naturally, and all along, creating problem-solving solutions for the dreamer. This is its nature. In order to keep helping the dreamer and to answer the request to help another, the dreaming mind apparently creatively comes up with a dream scenario that will match the needs of both the dreamer and person being dreamed for. The dreaming mind thus intuits both the needs of the dreamer and the person being dreamed for! So, don’t be shy. Ask for a dream (Dream Incubation) that will not only help you with an issue but will help someone you know who has a problem.


3 Comments on If My Dream is all about Me, Can I Help Someone Else in a Dream?, last added: 9/19/2014
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14.

Mmm… no, la Divina Commedia non è opera mia

La cosa più ponderosa da me scritta è un catalogo di bricolage, genere certamente non definibile letteratura.
La trama comunque era variegata e ricca di colpi di scena: passava dallo sterminio dei tarli al lifting di una vasca da bagno afflitta da rughe rugginose.
Ho infatti lavorato molto per la Pubblicità. Forse troppo.
Notti e domeniche alla macchina da scrivere.
Caffè e tabacco.
Ma – prima della Pubblicità, durante e dopo – ho scritto anche dell’altro, e parecchio.
Era probabilmente l’impulso di riscattare le banalità farneticate al servizio dell’industria e del commercio.
Ci sono riuscito?
Mah…!

Giornali libri e TV, l’altro che ho scritto

Ha detto Raymond Chandler: «Gli scacchi sono il più cospicuo spreco di intelligenza umana che si possa riscontrare al di fuori di un’agenzia pubblicitaria».
Ebbene, ringrazio in veste di ex-creativo-copywriter, l’incredibile lungo elenco di agenzie, uffici, studi, boutique e grafici pubblicitari che mi hanno dato modo di sprecare cospicuamente il mio cervello consentendomi sempre un pasto caldo e di non dormire sotto un cavalcavia.
Ringrazio altresì – stavolta in veste di scrittore, un tempo anche giornalista free-lance – gli editori che malgrado tutto mi hanno pubblicato.

Copia (2) di Copia di giornalista-con-macchina-da-scrivere[1]

Nota 1

Guido Sperandio alias GuSpe alias Ebenezer Le Page, Ebby, il Vecchio Ebby… L’uso dell’alias è generalmente associato a ricercati dall’Interpol, a soggetti che usano una diversa identità per ogni colpo.

223029961-d1326e26-f0fd-4658-b34c-1d10679aa6e7[1]

Ma capita anche a innocenti e innocui geni o banali scribacchini di ricorrere a un alias.
Sono i cosiddetti ben noti noms de plume.
L’innovazione tecnologica ha immesso in Internet schiere di blogger e altro, e il nom de plume si è democratizzato, è diventato americano: nickname.
Così nel momento in cui adottavo i vari nick (GuSpe e altri) provavo l’eccitante sensazione d’essere uno di quei citati truffatori. Nel mio caso, d’alto bordo naturalmente. In guanti gialli. Da Cinque-stelle-Costa Azzurra.
La mia sarà stata una sensazione immorale ma, ripeto, era elettrizzante. (Che poi, magari pure fossi un truffatore di quel calibro! I miei vicini di casa mi guarderebbero con maggior rispetto.)

Nota 2

Facebook.  Non sono il Guido Sperandio http://it-it.facebook.com/people/Guido-perandio/1605316265 Trattasi di casuale omonimo, uno dei vari Guido Sperandio coi quali mi scuso per il rischio d’essere confusi  e subire la mia discutibile nomea di scribacchino. Mi rammarico di esistere e mi  impegno a non disonorare ulteriormente il comune patronimico.

...1936 odiug!

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15. E is for Esoteric: 2014 Alphabet Books Get Creative

What is it about the alphabet that gives artists the license to get weird?  Historically, the alphabet book is one of the earliest American children’s book forms.  You know.  “In Adam’s fall, we sinned all.”  That kind of thing.  I’m certain someone has already written, or is in the process of writing, the full-blooded history of American abecedarian outings for the young, so I won’t delve into such matters to any great length.

Now every year we get some wacky alphabet titles in the mix.  The usual art books.  Coffee table picture books, if you will.  I’m used to seeing one of them, two max, in a given year.  So you’ll forgive me for being so surprised when I saw not one, not two, but a whopping FIVE esoteric picture books come out in 2014 to varying degrees of artsy fartsyness. They’re also rather hugely enjoyable in their own odd little ways.

With that in mind we’ll begin with the most accessible and work our way out from there.

Once Upon an Alphabet by Oliver Jeffers

OnceUponAlphabet E is for Esoteric: 2014 Alphabet Books Get Creative

You may have heard me mention this Jeffers title in my recent Newbery/Caldecott prediction list for the fall.  The book creates one short story per letter of the alphabet, making it a devilishly clever creation.  Definitely falls into the older kid category of picture bookdom, but I’d argue that the stories and art are so much fun that it won’t have a hard time maintaining a child’s attention.

Take Away the A by Michaël Escoffier, illustrated by Kris Di Giacomo

TakeAwayA E is for Esoteric: 2014 Alphabet Books Get Creative

And you thought they couldn’t come up with an original concept for a picture book anymore?  Ha!  Check this puppy out.  In it the book goes through the alphabet, taking away a single letter from each word so as to produce a new one. The text reads:

“Without the A
the BEAST is BEST.

Without the B
the BRIDE goes for a RIDE.

Without the C
the CHAIR has HAIR.”

Back me up on this when I say no one’s ever done this before.  They haven’t, right?  Just brilliant.

Work: An Occupational Alphabet by Kellen Hatanaka

Work E is for Esoteric: 2014 Alphabet Books Get Creative

Now we’re getting a little more design-y.  The book is ostensibly a listing of different jobs by letter (though, as my husband pointed out, just try and make a living as an “explorer” or “mountaineer” these days).  Hatanaka has this smooth digital style that’s easy on the eyes.  I did actually attempt this one with my three-year-old, thinking (for some reason) that the lure of the jobs would hold her attention.  It didn’t but that could just mean it’s for older children.  Certainly there are a lot of visual gags in here that will appeal primarily to them.

Alphabetics: An Aesthetically Awesome Alliterated Alphabet Anthology

by Patrick and Traci Concepcion, ill. Dawid Ryski

Alphabetics E is for Esoteric: 2014 Alphabet Books Get Creative

And here we go.  Your first clue that kids may or may not be the primary audience for this book?  Well, it contains a zombie smoking a cigarette (recall the recent cigar brouhaha with The Scarecrow’s Wedding?), a “sultry seafaring sailor” by the name of Stella, and a “hellacious Harley hog”.  On the other hand it had an entry on “Gus the gregarious giant with geek-chic glasses” which definitely appeals to the Portlandia in me.  This is sort of an Urban Outfitters alphabet book.  Looks nice in a small studio apartment.  Children need not necessarily apply.

Alphabetabum: An Album of Rare Photographs and Medium Verses by Chris Raschka and Vladimir Radunsky

Alphabetabum E is for Esoteric: 2014 Alphabet Books Get Creative
(Not to be confused with the other Chris Raschka alphabet book Talk to Me About the Alphabet)

Apparently these photos are from Radunsky’s personal collection with Raschka providing three line verses per letter.  They primarily feature West European, white kids and Kirkus was down on the book because it found it too snarky.  Not a problem I particularly had, though again I question whether or not an actual child would want to have anything to do with this book.  Rather, I would hand this to teen fans of Edward Gorey that buy old photos in antique stores for fun (which is to say, myself circa age 15).

Any others I may have missed that are in the same vein?  Surely there’s another one out there sporting a 2014 publication date.  Surely.

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16. Darlene Beck-Jacobson: Bringing Stories to Life

darlenebeckjacobson:

We’re about one third of the way through the blog tour for WHEELS OF CHANGE. Hope you’re enjoying the posts as much as I am being part of it.

Originally posted on Robin Newman Books:

I am thrilled to interview my friend and fellow Creston Books author, Darlene Beck-Jacobson.

blog tour photo

Teacher, speech therapist, and freelance writer, Darlene’s stories have appeared in Cicada, Cricket, and other magazines. Her debut historic middle grade novel, Wheels of Change (Creston Books), hits bookstores on September 22, 2014. She has also been working on another historic middle grade novel, A Sparrow in the Hand, exploring the coming of age of two sisters growing up in the coal mining area of Pennsylvania during the 1920’s. A chapter from this novel appeared in the March 2001 issue of Cricket magazine. You can also read this story on her website: http://www.darlenebeckjacobson.com 

Here’s what Kirkus has to say about Wheels of Change:

Changes fomenting both locally and nationally during the final year of Theodore Roosevelt’s presidency are seen through the eyes of feisty, bighearted Emily Soper, daughter of a carriage maker in…

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17. KidLit Events September 16-23

We have a lot of exciting events this we, from early readers to young adult, authors and illustrators. There is also a free writing workshop, so take notes and mark your calendars. While you’ve got your calendar out, be sure to put a big circle around September 27th for Tweens Read 2014!

September 17, Wednesday, 5:00 PM  LOUISE LOVES ART by Kelly Light
Blue Willow Bookshop
Kelly Light, Author/Illustrator

Kelly will also be appearing at Barnes & Noble, The Woodlands, September 18, Thursday, at 7:00 PM

For fans of Olivia and Eloise, this stunning debut from Kelly Light is an irresistible story about the importance of creativity in all its forms.

Meet Louise. Louise loves art more than anything. It’s her imagination on the outside. She is determined to create a masterpiece–her piece de resistance!

Louise also loves Art, her little brother. This is their story.

 

September 18, Thursday, 5:00 PM THE ODD SQUAD, KING KARL by Michael Fry
Blue Willow Bookshop
Michael Fry, Cartoonist/MG Author

Michael Fry will discuss and sign KING KARL (Disney-Hyperion), his newest novel in the ODD SQUAD series for kids. Nick, Molly, and Karl have nowhere to turn but to each other in KING KARL, the latest Odd Squad adventure, and they’ll need every ounce of wit, resourcefulness, and help they can get in order to rise above their biggest challenge yet.

Visit Michael Fry’s website to read the first four chapters of KING KARL.

September 18, Thursday, 6:30 PM MADE FOR YOU by Melissa Marr
Murder By The Book
Melissa Marr, MG, YA & Adult Author

Melissa Marr will sign and discuss MADE FOR YOU (Harper Collins). Eva Tilling wakes up in the hospital to discover an attempt has been made on her life. But who in her sleepy little North Carolina town could have hit her with their car? And why? Before she can consider the question, she finds that she’s awoken with a strange new skill: the ability to foresee people’s deaths when they touch her. While she is recovering from the hit-and-run, Nate, an old flame, reappears, and the two must traverse their rocky past as they figure out how to use Eva’s power to keep her friends—and themselves—alive.

Visit Melissa Marr’s website to read an excerpt of MADE FOR YOU.

September 20, Saturday, 10:00 AM
Writespace
The Houston YA/MG Writers
Writing Workshop: “More Than Words: Crafting Dialogue with Impact”

Join the Houston YA/MG Writers and YA author Kathleen Bagley for this free workshop! Dialogue is the backbone of character, but it is also notoriously hard to get right. It can be too long, too short, too wordy, too sparse, and, worst of all–sometimes dialogue just doesn’t work. But how does one know if one’s dialogue is working? In this hands-on workshop/lecture, Kathleen will show you several examples of dialogue that DOES work, and we’ll focus on what is done right. I’ll also show you how to cut out lengthy, unnecessary dialogue, and, most importantly of all, how to work with the most important aspect of dialogue: what is left unsaid. (Bring a writing utensil, because you’ll definitely be writing and sharing.)

September 20, Saturday, 1:00 PM SHATTERED by Mari Mancusi
Blue Willow Bookshop
Mari Mancusi, YA Author

Mari Mancusi will discuss and sign SHATTERED ( Sourcebooks Fire), her newest novel for young adults. Trinity, Connor, and Caleb are holed up in an abandoned West Texas farmhouse. Their only problem is Emmy, a baby dragon who is growing like crazy. When Emmy is caught on tape and the video goes viral, they find themselves on the run again. Their only hope comes from an old map leading to a man who has come from the future to help them.

September 23, Tuesday, 5:00 PMHALF A WORLD AWAY by Cynthia Kadonata
Blue Willow Bookshop
Cynthia Kadohata, MG Author

 Cynthia Kadohata—author of the Newbery Medal–winning book KIRA-KIRA, the National Book Award winner THE THING ABOUT LUCK, the Jane Addams Peace Award and Pen USA Award winner WEEDFLOWER—will discuss and sign new novel for children HALF A WORLD AWAY. (Atheneum Books for Young Readers).

Eleven-year-old Jaden is adopted, and he knows he’s an “epic fail.” He’s sure that’s why his family is traveling to Kazakhstan to adopt a new baby—to replace him. And he gets it. He is incapable of stopping his stealing, hoarding, lighting fires, aggressive running, and obsession with electricity. He knows his parents love him, but he feels…nothing.

But when they get to Kazakhstan, it turns out the infant they’ve chosen has already been adopted, and literally, within minutes, they are faced with having to choose from among six other babies. While his parents agonize, Jaden is more interested in the toddlers. One, a little guy named Dimash, spies Jaden and barrels over to him every time he sees him. Jaden finds himself increasingly intrigued by and worried about Dimash. Already three years old and barely able to speak, Dimash will soon age out of the orphanage, and then his life will be as hopeless as Jaden feels now. For the first time in his life, Jaden actually feels something that isn’t pure blinding fury, and there’s no way to control it, or its power.

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18. Quick Comic for Teachers: Math Problems, Charles Schulz

This one has been flying around the internet for years, but it always makes me laugh.

Maybe it will have the same satisfying effect on you.

It’s interesting, I think, that Sally uses the word “hell” here. In the context of Peanuts, it’s almost shocking. And therefore more powerful. And, I think, a little funnier.

Thank you, as always, Charles Schulz.

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19. Aspiring Adults Adrift

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In 2011, Richard Arum and Josipa Roksa’s Academically Adrift inscribed itself in post-secondary education wonking with all the subtlety of a wax crayon; the book made a splash in major newspapers, on television, via Twitter, on the pages of popular magazines, and of course, inside policy debates. The authors’ argument—drawn from complex data analysis, personal surveys, and a widespread standardized testing of more than 2300 undergraduates from 24 institutions—was simple: 45 percent of these students demonstrated no significant improvement in a range of skills (critical thinking, complex reasoning, and writing) during their first two years of study. Were the undergraduates learning once they hit college? The book’s answer was, at best, a shaky “maybe.”

Now, the authors are back with a sequel of sorts: Aspiring Adults Adrift, which follows these students through the rest of their undergraduate careers and out into the world. The findings this time around? Recent graduates struggle to obtain decent jobs, develop stable romantic relationships, and assume civic and financial responsibilities. Their transitions, like their educational experiences, are mired in much deeper and more systemic obstacles than a simple “failure to launch.”

The book debuted last week with four-part coverage at Inside Higher Ed. Since then, pundits and reviewers have started to weigh in; below are just a few of their profiles and accounts, which for an interested audience, help to situate the book’s findings.

***

Vox asked, “Why hasn’t the class of 2009 grown up?“:

The people Arum and Roksa interviewed sounded like my high school and college classmates. A business major who partied his way to a 3.9 GPA, then ended up working a delivery job he found on Craigslist, sounded familiar; so did a public health major who was living at home two years after graduation, planning to go to nursing school. Everyone in the class of 2009 knows someone with a story like that.

These graduates flailed after college because they didn’t learn much while they were in it, the authors argue. About a third of students in their study made virtually no improvement on a test of critical thinking and reasoning over four years of college. Aspiring Adults Adrift argues that this hurt them in the job market. Students with higher critical thinking scores were less likely to be unemployed, less likely to end up in unskilled jobs, and less likely to lose their jobs once they had them.

. . . . . Roksa and Arum aren’t really arguing for a more academically rigorous college education. They did that in their last book. They’re fighting the broader idea of emerging adulthood—that the first half of your 20s is a time to prolong adolescence and delay adult responsibilities.

A Time piece chimed in:

Parents, colleges, and the students themselves share the blame for this “failure to launch,” Arum says, but, he adds, “We think it is very important not to disparage a generation. These students have been taught and internalized misconceptions about what it takes to be successful.”

Frank Bruni cited and interviewed the authors for his piece, “Demanding More from College,” in the New York Times:

Arum and Roksa, in “Aspiring Adults Adrift,” do take note of upsetting patterns outside the classroom and independent of career preparation; they cite survey data that showed that more than 30 percent of college graduates read online or print newspapers only “monthly or never” and nearly 40 percent discuss public affairs only “monthly or never.”

Arum said that that’s “a much greater challenge to our society” than college graduates’ problems in the labor market. “If college graduates are no longer reading the newspaper, keeping up with the news, talking about politics and public affairs — how do you have a democratic society moving forward?” he asked me.

And finally, Richard Arum explained the book’s findings in an online interview with the WSJ.

To read more about Aspiring Adults Adrift, click here.

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20. Too Much of a Good Thing: An Ashlynn Acosta Intuitive Discoveries Mystery

What do we own?

A Lady Desires a Painting
Artwork by Christine Soltys

For the many who have asked, Ashlynn Acosta will be making her second appearance as the intuitive teen sleuth in Too Much of a Good Thing, a young adult mystery novel set in Gloucester, Massachusetts. In the intriguing story, our heroine deals with issues of hoarding, ownership, greed and possessiveness that lead to a crime.

The problematic relationship with her single dad, a “just the facts” police detective, has healed through the challenges met and shared in Dead Men Do Tell Tales. Relishing this lively new connection with her dad, Ashlynn suspects any woman seriously claiming her father’s attention. When a beautiful redhead enters the scene, Ashlynn faces the need to solve a mystery in the midst of a budding romance between her father and this most surprising lady. Pressure builds when her buddy group divides into romantic couples and she is paired with a guy who evokes new feelings in her! She is overwhelmed by it all.

Ashlynn’s very first date takes place as she tries to uncover the real mystery in the midst of too much of too many good things. Intuition and real dreamwork are the tools Ashlynn uses to help her understand and act on her new feelings as well as unravel the secrets in a mansion on a hill where a rich old lady has been found dead.

In a Reader’s Guide at the end of the novel, you can learn more about the intuitive tools Ashlynn uses and learn how they can be employed to unlock your own mysteries and solve your own problems.


0 Comments on Too Much of a Good Thing: An Ashlynn Acosta Intuitive Discoveries Mystery as of 9/12/2014 8:16:00 PM
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21. Too Much of a Good Thing: An Ashlynn Acosta Intuitive Discoveries Mystery

What do we own?

A Lady Desires a Painting
Artwork by Christine Soltys

For the many who have asked, Ashlynn Acosta will be making her second appearance as the intuitive teen sleuth in Too Much of a Good Thing, a young adult mystery novel set in Gloucester, Massachusetts. In the intriguing story, our heroine deals with issues of hoarding, ownership, greed and possessiveness that lead to a crime.

The problematic relationship with her single dad, a “just the facts” police detective, has healed through the challenges met and shared in Dead Men Do Tell Tales. Relishing this lively new connection with her dad, Ashlynn suspects any woman seriously claiming her father’s attention. When a beautiful redhead enters the scene, Ashlynn faces the need to solve a mystery in the midst of a budding romance between her father and this most surprising lady. Pressure builds when her buddy group divides into romantic couples and she is paired with a guy who evokes new feelings in her! She is overwhelmed by it all.

Ashlynn’s very first date takes place as she tries to uncover the real mystery in the midst of too much of too many good things. Intuition and real dreamwork are the tools Ashlynn uses to help her understand and act on her new feelings as well as unravel the secrets in a mansion on a hill where a rich old lady has been found dead.

In a Reader’s Guide at the end of the novel, you can learn more about the intuitive tools Ashlynn uses and learn how they can be employed to unlock your own mysteries and solve your own problems.


0 Comments on Too Much of a Good Thing: An Ashlynn Acosta Intuitive Discoveries Mystery as of 9/13/2014 1:56:00 AM
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22. Talents and Skills Thesaurus Entry: Blending In

As writers, we want to make our characters as unique and interesting as possible. One way to do this is to give your character a special skill or talent that sets him apart from other people. This might be something small, like having a green thumb or being good with animals, to a larger and more competitive talent like stock car racing or being an award-winning film producer. 

When choosing a talent or skill, think about the personality of your character, his range of experiences and who his role models might have been. Some talents might be genetically imparted while others are created through exposure (such as a character talented at fixing watches from growing up in his father’s watch shop) or grow out of interest (archery, wakeboarding, or magic). Don’t be afraid to be creative and make sure the skill or talent is something that works with the scope of the story. 

 

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Courtesy: USAG-Humphreys at Creative Commons

BLENDING IN

Description: Being able to blend in to one’s surroundings, whether it be a socialite party, a corporate event, or a busy street. People with this skill are chameleons who can fit in easily with different groups and look the part even if it’s not really them.

Beneficial Strengths or Abilities: To succeed in this area, one must have the ability to accurately read people and situations. This skill involves manipulating others to believe that one belongs, so being able to easily lie or deceive is a must. A strong memory is necessary in order to remember what has been told to whom, and quick thinking is a beneficial quality when one must react believably to suspicion or difficult questions.

Character Traits Suited for this Skill or Talent: perceptive, observant, bold, alert, charming, discreet, private, hypocritical, manipulative 

Associated Stereotypes and Perceptions: Spies, assassins, and government agents are often endowed with this skill, along with politicians and socialites who know how to work a room. Most often, this skill is embodied by those who wish to deceive—people with an agenda. But in real life, we often do this without guile simply as a way of fitting in.

Scenarios Where this Skill Might be Useful:

  • In one of the above career paths where blending in is part of the job description
  • when one needs to infiltrate different people groups in order to gain information
  • when someone is running for her life and needs to remain incognito
  • when it’s necessary to gain access to a person outside of one’s inner circle and win him over
  • in high school
  • when someone has moved to a new area and is trying to fit in and make friends
  • in a culture where one’s political or religious views are in opposition to those in charge and it is necessary to keep one’s beliefs private
  • in a situation where one wants to make a good impression

Resources for Further Information:

20 Tips on Blending in with the Locals

You can brainstorm other possible Skills and Talents your characters might have by checking out our FULL LIST of this Thesaurus Collection. And for more descriptive help for Setting, Symbolism, Character Traits, Physical Attributes, Emotions, Weather and more, check out our Thesaurus Collections page.

The post Talents and Skills Thesaurus Entry: Blending In appeared first on WRITERS HELPING WRITERS.

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23. Jerry Craft: From reluctant reader to celebrated cartoonist, author, illustrator, and more!

Guest post for the Brown Bookshelf
by syndicated cartoonist, author and illustrator,
Jerry CraftJerry Craft

I published my first book back in 1997. Since then I have written and / or illustrated more than a dozen others. I think the reason why I’ve dedicated my life to get kids to read is because I went through most of my life not enjoying reading whatsoever.  In fact, whoever coined the term “reluctant reader” must have known me as a kid. And as a teen. And even as a young adult. To be honest,  I was a grown man before I ever read a book on my own for enjoyment. It’s not that I couldn’t read, I was an “A” student who made Honor Roll every semester. It was that reading was never anything that was fun. Actually, it was a chore, like mowing the lawn. (Even though there were no lawns in the Washington Heights section of NYC, where I grew up.) And for a kid with a very active imagination, I needed something to grab my attention.  I know my parents read to me as a kid, but once the Dr. Seuss stage passed, I was on my own.Sure, I’d see them read newspapers and magazines, but have few memories of them with books.

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The Zero Degree Zombie Zone, written by Patrick Henry Bass, illustrated by Jerry Craft

In school, reading was always something I HAD to do, there was no getting around it. And believe me, I tried. Books being boring. For one thing, even though I attended schools that were 99% African American, I don’t ever remember having to read a book that featured characters that looked like any of us. Unless you count runaway slaves. So if it wasn’t for Marvel Comics, my reading enjoyment would have been close to zero! As a kid I was a huge comic book fan. Each week, I’d anxiously run to the corner candy store in order to buy the latest issues of Spider-Man, X-Men and Fantastic Four. But even then, if the plots had too many non-fighting pages, I’d kind of gloss over all that boring dialogue in order to get to the good stuff. Ka-Blam! But even though I, and many of my classmates, were reading, having a teacher catch you with a comic book was only slightly better than being caught with some kind of illegal contraband. Apparently, they didn’t want any of those “foul things” rotting our fragile little brains. It wasn’t until I reached the 7th grade that I had my first, and probably only, teacher who was a comic book fan. That was refreshing.

And then … as if books didn’t have enough competition with things like stickball, and touch football (way back when kids used to go outside to play) they invented the Atari 2600! That was one of the very first video game systems, for those of you who may not know. And reading for enjoyment went the way of the dinosaur.

In high school, there were a bunch of us who read comics, but unfortunately as I got older, the books that we were supposed to read for got bigger. And more boring. And even less reflective of my life. The memory of having to read William Faulkner’s, “As I Lay Dying,” still haunts me to this day!

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The Offenders: Saving the World While Serving Detention! By Jerry Craft, with Jayden Craft & Aren Craft (his sons)

Fast forward to college where I attended The School of Visual Arts. Most people who know that I went there, think that I was a cartooning major. But the cartooning classes were so popular that I was never able to actually sign up for one. Instead I majored in advertising copywriting where I wrote headlines for newspaper ads, radio commercials and TV commercials. This was right up my alley. What I wrote could be funny, it could be serious, but whatever it was, it had to be short.

Fast forward about 10 years, when I left the struggling advertising world to get a job at King Features Syndicate and later at Sports Illustrated for Kids. It was during this time that I had created my Mama’s Boyz comic strip. Again, the writing was funny and short! This was way back when personal computers just started taking off. And for the first time in my life, I found something that I actually ENJOYED reading other than comic books. Software manuals! Really!  I could actually sit down for hours and read a book on how to use Photoshop or Flash. The books were not only huge, nor were they the least bit exciting. But for some reason, I LOVED them!!!

Then one day I got an email from a fan of my Mama’s Boyz comic strip. I used to have a page on my website where I showed how slang had changed from my father’s era, to mine, to the current group of teens. After exchanging a few emails, he told me that he was an author and wanted to know if I wanted to swap books with him. Why not? I sent him a copy of Mama’s Boyz: As American as Sweet Potato Pie! (which I had published myself), and a few days later I got a package in the mail with not only one book, but two! And they were long. “Aw crap, I remember thinking, now I HAVE to read both of these books, ‘cause he’s gonna want to know what I think of them.” And so I started the task. By now, I was married and living in Connecticut, so I had a few hours commuting on MetroNorth each day that I could devote to reading them. And you know what, I liked them. In fact, I LOVED them!!! When I was done, I was proud to write my new author friend, Mr. Eric Jerome Dickey and tell him what I thought of Sister, Sister and Friends and Lovers. From that point on, I felt like a superhero who had gotten super powers as a result of some freak accident. I LIKED TO READ! Now it was a matter of catching up on books that I had always heard about, but had never actually read. Classics like The Autobiography of Malcolm X and Invisible Man.

HomeSchoolinA few years later I had kids. Not wanting them to be reluctant readers like their dad, I literally read to them every single night for the first six years of their lives. Maybe longer. And then  they’d read to me. Or we’d do it together. Short books. Long books. Everything we could get our hands on. I even did voices for the characters. Plus I made sure that they saw characters who looked like them. Their bookshelves were filled with names like Eric Velazquez, Bryan Collier, Shadra Strickland, Don Tate, E.B. Lewis, R. Gregory Christie, and anyone whose last name is Pinkney.

Then when I decided to write chapter books, there was no better sounding board than the two of them. They were my own private focus group. A few years ago, I was reading them a story that I was working on about 5 middle school bullies who get superpowers. And this time, instead of just sitting back and listening, they (now teenagers) were critical. Very critical. “Dad, no kid would say that,” I remember one of them saying. “Well what would he say?” And they told me. And it was good. After a few sessions of them setting me straight, I decided to make them co-writers. Luckily they accepted. And after about a year of writing, we were overjoyed to see, “The Offenders: Saving the World While Serving Detention!” published.

I had not only come full circle, from reluctant reader, to reader. Then to father of readers. Now that they had actually helped to write a book, they had broken through the circle. And that’s something that even a little boy from Washington Heights with an active imagination would have NEVER imagined possible.

_____________________________________________________________

Jerry Craft has illustrated and / or written more than two dozen children’s books, comic books and board games. Most recent is a middle grade novel co-written with his two teenage sons, Jaylen and Aren called: “The Offenders: Saving the World While Serving Detention!” — an adventure story that teaches kids about the effects of bullying. He is the creator of Mama’s Boyz, a comic strip that won four African American Literary Awards and was distributed by King Features from 1995 – 2013. He also illustrated “The Zero Degree Zombie Zone,” for Scholastic. For more info email him at jerrycraft@aol.com or visit http://www.jerrycraft.net


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24. Newbery / Caldecott 2015: Fall Prediction Edition

Now we’re in the thick of it.  Do you hear that?  That is the clicking ticking sound of the reanimation of the Heavy Medal and Calling Caldecott blogs.  They’re a little groggy right now, trying to get their bearings, figuring out which foot to try first.  But don’t be fooled by their initial speed.  Very soon they’ll be acting like well-oiled machines, debating and comparing and contrasting like it’s nobody’s business.  But why let them have all the fun?  Time for a little predicting on my end as well!  I’ve been discussing these books with folks all year and through our debates I’m getting a better sense of the titles that are more likely than others to make it in the end.  So, with the inclusion of some fall books, here’s the latest roster of predictions. Please note that as the year goes on I tend to drop books off my list more than I add them.  This is also my penultimate list.  The final will appear in December.

2015 Newbery Predictions

The Night Gardener by Jonathan Auxier

NightGardener Newbery / Caldecott 2015: Fall Prediction Edition

It’s so satisfying when you like a book and then find that everyone else likes it too.  This was the very first book I mentioned in this year’s Spring Prediction Edition of Newbery/Caldecott 2015 and nothing has shaken my firm belief that it is extraordinary.  It balances out kid-friendly plotting with literary acumen.  It asks big questions while remaining down-to-earth.  And yes, it’s dark.  2014 is a dark year.  It’ll be compared to Doll Bones, which is not the worst thing in the world.  I could see this one making it to the finish line.  I really could.

Absolutely Almost by Lisa Graff

AbsolutelyAlmost Newbery / Caldecott 2015: Fall Prediction Edition

You know what?  I’m sticking by this one.  Graff’s novel has the ability to create hardcore reader fans, even though it has a very seemingly simple premise.  It’s librarian-bait to a certain extent (promoting a kid who likes to read Captain Underpants will do that) but I don’t think it’s really pandering or anything.  It’s also not a natural choice for the Newbery, preferring subtlety over literary largess.  I’m keeping it in mind for now.

West of the Moon by Margi Preus

WestMoon1 Newbery / Caldecott 2015: Fall Prediction Edition

Notable if, for no other reason, the fact that Nina Lindsay and I agree on it and we rarely agree on anything.  As it happens, this is a book I’ve been noticing a big backlash against.  It sports a complex and unlikeable heroine, which can prove difficult when assessing its merits.  She makes hard, often bad, choices.  But personally I feel that even if you dislike who she becomes, you still root for her to win.  Isn’t that worth something?  Other folks find the blending of historical fiction and fantasy unnerving.  I find it literary.  You be the judge.

Boys of Blur by N.D. Wilson

BoysBlur Newbery / Caldecott 2015: Fall Prediction Edition

I could write out yet another defense of this remarkable novel, but I think I’ll let N.D. Wilson do the talking for me instead:

brown girl dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson

BrownGirlDreaming Newbery / Caldecott 2015: Fall Prediction Edition

The frontrunner. This is Woodson’s year and we’re just living in it.  I’m waiting to hear the concentrated objections to this book.  Waiting because I’m having a hard time fathoming what they might be.  One librarian I spoke too complained it was too long.  Can’t agree myself, but I noted her comment.  Other than that, nobody disagrees that it’s distinguished.  As distinguished as distinguished can be, really.  If it doesn’t get the gold (look at all the nice sky-space where you could fit in a medal!) I will go on a small rampage.

Dory Fantasmagory by Abby Hanlon

DoryFantasmagory1 Newbery / Caldecott 2015: Fall Prediction Edition

Betcha didn’t see that one coming.  You were probably expecting a discussion of Revolution or A Snicker of Magic or something, right?  Well darling, I’ll confess something to you.  I like simple books.  Reeeeally simple books.  Books so simple that they cross an invisible line and become remarkably complex.  I like books that give you something to talk about for long periods of time.  That’s where Hanlon’s easy chapter book comes in.  What do I find distinguished about this story?  I find the emotional resonance and sheer honesty of the enterprise entirely surprising and extraordinary.  And speaking of out-there nominations . . .

Once Upon an Alphabet: Short Stories for All the Letters by Oliver Jeffers

OnceUponAlphabet Newbery / Caldecott 2015: Fall Prediction Edition

Face facts.  Jeffers is a risky Caldecott bid, even when he’s at his best.  The man does do original things (This Moose Belongs to Me was probably his best bet since moving to America, though I’d argue that Stuck was the best overall) but his real strength actually lies in his writing.  The man’s brain is twisted in all the right places, so when you see a book as beautifully written as this one you have to forgive yourself for wanting to slap medals all over it, left and right.  A picture book winning a Newbery is not unheard of in this day and age, but it requires a committee that thinks in the same way. I don’t know this year’s committee particularly well.  I can’t say what they will or will not think.  All I do know is that this book deserves recognition.

Let the record show that the ONLY reason I am not including The Key That Swallowed Joey Pigza by Jack Gantos in this list is because it does require a bit of familiarity with the other books in the series.  I struggle with that knowledge since it’s long been a dream of mine to see a Joey Pigza book with the Newbery gold and this is our last possible chance to do just that.  Likewise, I’m not including The Madman of Piney Woods by Christopher Paul Curtis only because knowledge of Elijah of Buxton makes for a stronger ending to the tale  But both books are true contenders in every other way.

And now for the more difficult discussions (because clearly Newbery is a piece of cake….. hahahahahahahaha!!! <—- maniacal laughter)

2015 Caldecott Predictions

 

Bad Bye, Good Bye by Deborah Underwood, ill. Jonathan Bean

BadByeGoodBye Newbery / Caldecott 2015: Fall Prediction Edition

I only recently discovered that if you take the jacket off of this book and look at it from left to right you get to see the entire story play out, end to end.  What other illustrator goes for true emotion on the bloody blooming jacket of their books?  Bean is LONG overdue for Caldecott love.  He’s gotten Boston Globe-Horn Book love and Ezra Jack Keats Award love but at this moment in time it’s downright bizarre that he hasn’t a Caldecott or two to his name.  Hoping this book will change all that.

A Dance Like Starlight by Kristy Dempsey, ill. Floyd Cooper

DanceStarlight1 Newbery / Caldecott 2015: Fall Prediction Edition

I’m sticking with Floyd here.  The man’s paid his dues.  This book does some truly lovely things.  It’s going to have to deal with potentially running into people who just don’t care for his style.  It’s a distinctive one and not found anywhere else, but I know a certain stripe of gatekeeper doesn’t care for it.  It’s also one of three African-American ballerina books this year (Ballerina Dreams: From Orphan to Dancer by Michaela and Elaine DePrince, ill. Frank Morrison and Firebird by Misty Copeland, ill. Christopher Myers anyone?) but is undeniably the strongest.

Viva Frida by Yuyi Morales, photographs by  Tim O’Meara

VivaFrida 500x500 Newbery / Caldecott 2015: Fall Prediction Edition

People don’t like it when a book doesn’t fall into their preexisting prescribed notions of what a book should do.  Folks look at the cover and title of this book and think “picture book biography”.  When they don’t get that, they get mad.  I’ve heard complaints about the sparse text and lack of nonfiction elements.  Yet for all that, nobody can say a single word against the art.  “Stunning” only begins to encompass it.  I think that if you can detach your mind from thinking of the book as a story, you do far better with it.  Distinguished art?  You better believe it, baby.

Three Bears in a Boat by David Soman

ThreeBearsBoat Newbery / Caldecott 2015: Fall Prediction Edition

Seriously, look me in the eye and explain to me how this isn’t everybody’s #1 Caldecott choice.  Right here.  In the eye.

Grandfather Gandhi by Arun Gandhi and Bethany Hegedus, illustrated by Evan Turk

GrandfatherGandhi 478x500 Newbery / Caldecott 2015: Fall Prediction Edition

What can I say that I haven’t said a hundred times before?  I’ve heard vague whines from folks who don’t care for this art style.  *sigh*  It happens.  I’ll just turn everything over to the author for her perspective on the story behind the story then.

Remy and Lulu by Kevin Hawkes and Hannah E. Harrison

RemyLulu Newbery / Caldecott 2015: Fall Prediction Edition

Okay, try to think of a precedent for this one.  Let’s say this book won the Caldecott gold.  That would mark the very first time in the HISTORY  of the award itself that two unmarried artists got a medal for their work, yes?  And yet the book couldn’t exist without the two of them working in tandem.  Remy and Lulu is an excellent example of a book that I dismissed on an initial reading, yet found myself returning to again and again and again later.  And admit it.  The similarities in some ways to Officer Buckle and Gloria can only help it, right?

I don’t think I gave this book adequate attention the first time I read it through.

Have You Heard the Nesting Bird? by Rita Gray, ill. Kenard Pak

HaveYouHeard Newbery / Caldecott 2015: Fall Prediction Edition

I heard an artist once criticize the current trend where picture book illustrators follow so closely in the footsteps of Jon Klassen.  And you could be forgiven for thinking that animator Kenard Pak is yet another one of these.  Yet when you look at this book, this remarkable little piece of nonfiction, you see how the textured watercolors are more than simply Klassen-esque.  Pak’s art is delightful and original and downright keen.  Can you say as much for many other books?

This is one of those years where the books I’m looking at have NOTHING to do with the books that other folks are looking at.  For example, when I look at the list of books being considered at Calling Caldecott, I am puzzled.  Seems to me it would make more sense to mention Blue on Blue by Dianne White, illustrated by Beth Krommes, Go to Sleep, Little Farm by Mary Lyn Ray, illustrated by Christopher Silas Neal, or Dragon’s Extraordinary Egg by Debi Gliori (wait . . . she’s Scottish and therefore ineligible?!  Doggone the doggity gones . . .).

For additional thoughts, be sure to check out the Goodreads lists of Newbery 2015 and Caldecott 2015 to see what the masses prefer this year.

So!  What did I miss?

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25. Rachel Sussman and The Oldest Living Things in the World

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This past week, Rachel Sussman’s colossal photography project—and its associated book—The Oldest Living Things in the World, which documents her attempts to photograph continuously living organisms that are 2,000 years old and older, was profiled by the New Yorker:

To find the oldest living thing in New York City, set out from Staten Island’s West Shore Plaza mall (Chuck E. Cheese’s, Burlington Coat Factory, D.M.V.). Take a right, pass Industry Road, go left. The urban bleakness will fade into a litter-strewn route that bisects a nature preserve called Saw Mill Creek Marsh. Check the tides, and wear rubber boots; trudging through the muddy wetlands is necessary.

The other day, directions in hand, Rachel Sussman, a photographer from Greenpoint, Brooklyn, went looking for the city’s most antiquated resident: a colony of Spartina alterniflora or Spartina patens cordgrass which, she suspects, has been cloning and re-cloning itself for millennia.

Not simply the story of a cordgrass selfie, Sussman’s pursuit becomes contextualized by the lives—and deaths—of our fragile ecological forbearers, and her desire to document their existence while they are still of the earth. In support of the project, Sussman has a series of upcoming events surrounding The Oldest Living Things in the World. You can read more at her website, or see a listing of public events below:

EXHIBITIONS:

Imagining Deep Time (a cultural program of the National Academy of Sciences in Washington, DC), on view from August 28, 2014 to January 15, 2015

Another Green World, an eco-themed group exhibition at NYU’s Gallatin Galleries, featuring Nina KatchadourianMitchell JoaquimWilliam LamsonMary MattinglyMelanie Baker and Joseph Heidecker, on view from September 12, 2014 to October 15, 2014

The Oldest Living Things in the World, a solo exhibition at Pioneer Works in Brooklyn, NY, from September 15, 2014 to November 2, 2014, including a closing program

TALKS:

Sept 18th: a discussion in conjunction with the National Academy of Sciences exhibition Imagining Deep Time for DASER (DC Art Science Evening Rendezvous), Washington, DC (free and open to the public)

Nov 20th: an artist’s talk at the Museum of Contemporary Photography, Chicago

To read more about The Oldest Living Things in the World, click here.

 

 

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