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1. A Rainbow Is A Rainbow!


A rainbow is a rainbow, 
with whom you ride it is all that matters! 

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2. Dotty's Topsy Tale - Kindle

Dotty's Topsy Tale - Now Available for Kindle! Dotty's Topsy Tale features Dotty, a pink hippo that doesn't quite fit in. With help from her best friend, Chizzy, she finds she can be happy with herself no matter what her color. The book introduces a purple baby hippo, Violet, to gently explore the topics of bullying and discrimination.

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3. Smoke Texting


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4.

Lucy and Henry Are Twins
By Elizabeth Winthrop


It's like buses no blog posts for 2 months... and then 4 come at once!!! I am busy busy painting...excuses excuses!


Lucy and Henry Are Twins is published by Two Lions (Amazon Publishing) and written by the widely published author Elizabeth Winthrop.


'Lucy and Henry are brother and sister. They may be twins, but that doesn't mean they do everything the same way.' 'Delightful illustrations and simple rhythmic text combine to make a wonderful first book for twins...'


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5. Art is about to happen.

Here are some children. Here is a basket of colourful pencils.
Art is about to happen.

The children know exactly what to do with this big basket of colourful pencils: dig with both hands. Dig right to the bottom.
The rattle of pencils is the ritual that has to come before the concentrated frowning and the murmured incantations: This is a lion. This is a lion. This is a lion. This is a tree. This is a tree. This is a tree.

Have you ever used one of those pencils?
Did you think: it's a wonder what a child's imagination can do, I can't draw a THING with this?
No one can. We all tried. Some of us thought it was our fault and stopped trying.

Those are fake pencils.

The reason these children are digging through them with so much energy is because they are looking for one that works. They know to go for the shortest nubbins at the bottom of the box. Ignore the long ones, no one else got anything out of them.

They are foraging, with great determination.
Imagine what that determination could do.

When a child makes art, it's not a case of playing pretend. It's not like playing brain surgery with a spoon and a pudding. It's not like feeding a plastic doll. They are not playing artist. THEY ARE ACTUALLY MAKING ART.

They use what they are given. They scratch faint lines, they rub puddles of chalky water across dissolving printer paper with splayed brushes. They powder fat snakes of glue with scales of confetti and glitter.

What would happen if someone gave you a bowl of confetti and some glue and told you to make art?
You might refuse. (I would.)
Children are generally good-natured enough to at least give it a try. But even the most loving guardian and the children themselves may look at the result and find it hard to see if, in fact, somehow, art has happened.
You stick it on the fridge, and you can tell what it is and everything... but is it art?
Well, it’s creative.
“Creative” often means “Wow, I’m glad I didn’t make that”.
Would you ever wish you’d made something that a child made?
Yeah... this is definitely very creative.
Maybe one day, if those children keep being creative and try very hard, some of them might even become artists...

But - who cares if they may be artists one day? What's the point in telling them they may be artists one day if they work hard? What's that got to do with anything? Is this whole confetti business some sort of test? Are we trying to trick them into law school or something?
It simply doesn't matter what they will be one day.
Art is not just for artists. It's for humans. It's not a privilege. It’s a way to think with your hands (or your feet or your voice or your whole body, depending on the art, but we started with children and a basket of colour pencils, so pictures are trying to happen right now).
Art lets you have a good look at your thoughts, and show them to the world if you want.

You don't need a license to make marks. You just need something that makes marks.

The joy of making pictures is more than an act of imagination. It's physical. Your gestures made visible and permanent, the marks you make, belong to you alone, like your own body. They come before communication, before expression: they are the basis of all those things.

Give them things that leave marks. Try them out yourself. Are they enjoyable to use? Can you get a range of different marks out of them? Are they the marks you expected? Do they surprise you?

In short, do you feel like you are making something - or do you just feel like you are using something up?
Keep trying out materials. You'll know them when you find them.

You don't need to buy whole sets of expensive tubes of paint - or sets of anything, or anything expensive. You don’t need many different colours. Every good piece of art material unlocks endless possibilities. By good I mean anything that readily creates or receives a mark, which may include beetroot juice or a particularly well-charred stick, and the lovely white rounded cards that are used to package tights. Do professional artists paint with their breakfast tea sometimes? Of course they do, if it's nice and strong!

Some good art materials command respect: you must wear clothes that you don't mind staining, and you must handle them carefully. A bottle of red ink could spoil a whole carpet.
You may be surprised how much respect children can show for a powerful substance like that. Being careful for a good reason is fun, and using something that requires your supervision is exciting and memorable.
Those children like to see you deal with important substances, you know.

Art materials often need some care. Brushes need to be washed and stored carefully. Maybe the children have pets, or toys that they care about. Can they look after those? Then they can look after their tools, if you teach them.


You can give them a load of fake colourful toys that don't make a mess because they don't actually leave any traces at all - or you can let them make art.
A real brush costs no more than a pack of toy ones. A box of decent watercolours costs more than a pound shop set – get one with fewer colours. Find some bright colours that mix well, and you’ll suddenly have a whole range. Or pick just one single colour, but one that leaves a mark. Get to know that colour. Ask that colour what it can do, and you will be surprised.

By all means and of course: check if the paints are toxic. If they eat paint, they aren’t ready for paint that must not be eaten. But don’t underestimate them as they learn. If they can learn to deal with boiling water, and learn to deal with cleaning products, they can learn to deal with art materials. You'll be there to help them with the messier ones, and find ones that are safe enough as long as the area is covered against smears and splashes.
You may well find that as soon as they are actually making marks that are meaningful to them, the children won't be anywhere near as messy as you fear because they won't have to make up in dramatic performance and make-believe for what the material denies them in actual experience.
They will WANT to make something beautiful rather than just have a play-time with colourful sticks that are better for throwing than drawing with.

Maybe you don’t have a budget for art materials. Don't forget about all the good stuff you can just use for free. If you have a pair of scissors and some paper glue, anything colourful in your paper recycling may be a collage picture waiting to happen. A felt-tip pen and some scrap paper is better than that whole basket of useless crayons.

One last thing: Don't just hand everything over to the children. Why should they have all the fun and education? Make some art together. And I mean: each make their own piece. If the materials work, you probably won't need to help them to make it look good any more. Of course you can also collaborate on things, that's part of the fun. But above all, respect each other's art: you make your thing, they make theirs. You will find that you can teach one another a lot.

It’s amazing what a child’s imagination can do - but don’t let them imagine that they can’t make art.
Make those fake pencils into a tiny fence for a herd of amazing beasts painted with tea stains and thumb prints, pink highlighters and ink.

Art is about to happen.
Don't miss out.

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6. May -- Opening Doors of Wonder, books, kids, dogs and movies

 

    Forbidden ForestCentaurs
   

Opening the doors to a child's imagination...

An 8 year old girl, after reading the first chapter in a manuscript, helped convince her father, the CEO of Bloomsbury, to publish Harry Potter. It had previously been rejected by eight publishers.

HgwrtsWinterThe Harry Potter book series that followed has found an enormous and passionate following around the world. The seven books in the series have been published in sixtyseven languages. The books have taken readers to Hogwarts and beyond, to a world of wizards, flying broomsticks, and magic wands ...a world of the imaginationThere are over 450 million books in print. There are eight movies that have translated the the books into fantasy adventure films with a worldwide gross of over seven and a half billion dollars... there are websites, games, theme parks, as well as a wide variety of merchandise.

The Harry Potter books were the catalyst for the major cross-over phenomenon of adults reading YA books, a change in the book buying  marketplace that continues to this day. 

And it all started with the imagination of J.K. Rowling -- and an 8 year old girl who liked to read, who helped open the doors to a world wonder, a world of fantasy, magic and imagination for millions of children, teenagers, moms and dads around the world.

The centaurs in the Forbidden Forest and the Hogwarts school are from the Harry Potter movies.

..................................... 



JKRowlingGuardian "Many prefer not to exercise their imaginations at all. They choose to remain comfortably within the bounds of their own experience, never troubling to wonder how it would feel to have been born other than they are". J.K. Rowling,  Harvard Commencement Speech, 2008

 
..........................

The Courage to Love...

Lev Grossman, journalist, critic, and best selling author -- Warp, Codex, and the Magicians series -- wrote a very personal, insightful and in-depth appreciation of the legacy of J. K. Rowling, the Harry Potter series, and the Deathly Hallows. It was published in Time  Here are excerpts...

"Deathly Hallows is of course not merely the tying up of plot-threads, it's the final iteration of Rowling's abiding thematic concern: the overwhelming importance of continuing to love in the face of death....


VoldemortHarrySo we have known for a while that Voldemort cannot love, that he has been spiritually ruined by his parents' deaths, and he will kill anyone to stave off his own death. Harry, though also an orphan, has found the courage to love. "Do not pity the dead, Harry," a wise man tells Harry in Deathly Hallows. "Pity the living, and, above all, those who live without love." Characterologically speaking, the greatest question that remains in Hallows might be whether Harry can do this — that is, whether Harry can find it in himself to pity the man who killed his parents..."

Grossman then writes of mixed feelings, including sadness, following the completion of Deathly Hallows, the final book in the series...

HarryThe sadness is more an instant nostalgia for the unironic, whole-hearted unanimity with which readers embraced the story of Harry. We did something very rare for Harry Potter: we lost our cool. There is nothing particularly hip about loving Harry. He's not sexy or dangerous the way, say, Tony Soprano was. He's not an anti-hero, he's just a hero, but we fell for him anyway. It's a small sacrifice to the one that Harry makes, of course, but it's what we, as self-conscious, status-conscious modern readers, have to give, and we gave it. We did and do love Harry. We couldn't help ourselves."

............................ 

ArmChairBooks2 Reading... 
"Losing one’s self is, after all, one of the rewards of reading. The opportunity to inhabit another self, to experience another consciousness, is perhaps the most profound trespass a work of literature can allow." - Eula Biss

 

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Opening the Door for Hermione 

"You really are the cleverest witch of your age"  HermioneWand

These are the words of Sirius Black, at the close of the movie Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. 

In the book, at this same moment, Sirius spoke to Harry, and says,"We'll see each other again. You are -- truly your father's son, Harry."

Seth Lerer, writing about Theaters of Girlhood in his history of Children's Literature, cites this telling movie moment as a "benediction of female accomplishment"... "this movie takes as its telos the authority of girlhood. It makes Hermione the real performer of the story: the stage manager of HermionePotionsLabmagic; the director of its time shifts, costume, and control.The film becomes a girl's film, one in which the female audience can find their affirmation. Yet the book remains, despite Hermione's obvious centrality, a story about men and boys: about Harry's search forfor his relationship to his dead father; about his need to find surrogates in Black, or Dumbledore."

.................

Harry's Destiny...

"J.K. Rowling never shies away from the great existential mysteries: death and loss, cruelty
and compassion, desire and depression. Harry  is anything but sheltered and protected from the evils of Voldermort. Think of those fiendish Dementors who are experts in making you HarryHermioneHogwartsOminouslose hope...The presence of loss and the threat of death perpetually hover over the boy magician and he becomes heroic precisely because. like his literary predecessors, he is destined for greatness even though he also possesses the weaknesses, failings, and vulnerabilities of all humans." -- 
Maria Tatar, writing about Theaters For The Imagination, in her book, Enchanted Hunters, The Power of Stories in Childhood. 

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YALECCClogoThe Mind of the Dog

Dog lovers find dogs to be quite special. Dogs are forgiving, affectionate, helpful, and unconditionally loyal.

Therapy dogs help people to heal from emotional problems and support people with physical problems. And they enable kids, helping them to learn to read.

Dog owners often feel that their dogs know what they are thinking.

How much of this is instinct, intuition, or conditioning? What is going on in the dog's mind? What are they thinking?

Yale University has established a Canine Cognition Center to better understand the dog's mind.Here is an excerpt from their website: 

YalecccDogBannerHuman"The Canine Cognition Center at Yale is a new research facility in the Psychology Department at Yale University. Our team of Yale scientists studies how dogs think about the world. Our center is devoted to learning more about canine psychology—how dogs perceive their environment, solve problems, and make decisions. Our findings teach us how the dog mind works, which can help us to better develop programs to improve how we train and work with our canine friends."

 Here is a link to an informative CBS documentary news broadcast on the research and goals of the Yale  Canine Center : Studying the Brain of Man's Best Fried. This video includes scenes where the research tests with the dogs is taking place.

........................

 Castle in the Mist is the second book in the Planet Of The Dogs Series...Here is an excerpt... "The trail became rougher and then, through the trees, CITM-Dogs in a snowy forest-blog sizethey saw the ancient castle of the Black Hawk warriors.  It was an awesome sight.  It had been built as a fortress castle long ago – before the memory of people could recall.  It was later abandoned and lay empty for hundreds of years until the forest people began to use it once again.  It was a large, solid structure with two towers rising above the walls.  The ancient stones rested on granite bedrock, and the back wall rose straight up from the vast waters of the lake.  As they approached, the sun was setting and mist was rising over the waters.  Soon, the mist would move over the land."

To read more, and for sample chapters from all the books in the series,visit our Planet Of The Dogs website.

We have free reader copies of the Planet of The Dogs book series for therapy dog organizations, individual therapy dog owners, librarians and teachers...simply send us an email at planetofthedogs@gmail.com. and we will send you the books,. 

Jordyn castleOur books are available through your favorite independent bookstore, Barnes & Noble, Amazon, Powell's and many more...Librarians, teachers, bookstores...You can also order Planet Of The Dogs, Castle In The Mist, and Snow Valley Heroes, A Christmas Tale, through Ingram with a full professional discount.

 
The illustration from Castle In The Mist is by Stella Mustanoja McCarty. The photo is by C.A.Wulff.

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An Alternate Universe... The Harry Potter Legacy

Michiko Kakutani is a highly regarded book critic for the New York Times. Following the publication of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows,” the seventh and final book in the series, she wrote a review of the book and an affirmation of the Harry Potter Legacy.

Here are excerpts:

"It is Ms. Rowling’s achievement in this series that she manages to make Harry both a familiar
HarryHermioneDangeradolescent — coping with the banal frustrations of school and dating — and an epic hero, kin to everyone from the young King Arthur to Spider-Man and Luke Skywalker. This same magpie talent has enabled her to create a narrative that effortlessly mixes up allusions to Homer, Milton, Shakespeare and Kafka, with silly kid jokes about vomit-flavored candies, a narrative that fuses a plethora of genres (from the boarding-school novel to the detective story to the epic quest) into a story that could be Exhibit A in a Joseph Campbell survey of mythic archetypes.

In doing so, J. K. Rowling has created a world as fully detailed as L. Frank Baum’s Oz or J. R. R. Tolkien’s Middle Earth, a world so minutely imagined in terms of its history and rituals and rules that it qualifies as an alternate universe, which may be one reason the “Potter” books have spawned such a passionate following and such fervent exegesis. 

The world of Harry Potter is a place where the mundane and the marvelous, the ordinary and HarryRonOwlthe surreal coexist. It’s a place where cars can fly and owls can deliver the mail, a place where paintings talk and a mirror reflects people’s innermost desires. It’s also a place utterly recognizable to readers, a place where death and the catastrophes of daily life are inevitable, and people’s lives are defined by love and loss and hope — the same way they are in our own mortal world." 

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Celebrating Reading

 

 

OldLibrarySignLiz Burns, activist librarian, blogger ("its all about story"), book reviewer (YA and chhildren's books), and author (PoP Goes the Library) wrote a post about libraries and reading. Here is an excerpt:

"As libraries, especially public libraries, take a look at programs and resources and books within the context of the Common Core --

GlasgowLibraryManReadsRemember. We are more than the Common Core. We are also about escaping into literature. We are about the joys of getting lost in a book. We are about celebrating the act of reading for the sole reason that some of us like to read. Or, rather, love to read.


And that simple pleasure, well, sometimes, it does get attacked. Is the person reading the
right books? What are they learning from those books? Is it making them a better person? Is it Books3uplifting? Does it have a moral? Is deep reading going on? Is the reading being done the "right" way? Will this make someone a better employee? Is reading too passive? Isn't it better to be making something than reading? Isn't it better to be talking to people? Don't people have better things to do than read? Than read that book?

I think one of the wonders of libraries is that it is still a place for the person who loves reading. Libraries are more -- we are the sum of our parts, more than any one part of our mission. And part of that more is, and should continue to be, celebrating reading and being there for readers."

 


.....................

Planet Dog Foundation  Has Awarded More than A Million Dollars in Grants to Therapy Dog Organizations...

Chicago's Canine Therapy Corps was one of the recipient organizations.  

CTCPhotoSteveGrubmanCanineTherapyCorpsThe Canine Therapy Corps (CTC), with over 100 volunteers, helps to heal and bring hope to children and adults with a wide range of difficult and painful problems including autism, cancer, PTSD, addiction recovery problems, emotional behavioral problems, rehabilitation and senior issues and more.

The kids and therapy dogs in this excellent CTC  video will touch your heart...the video includes interactions and healing moments with kids, dogs, therapists, parents and volunteers.

Here is their Mission Statement:

The Canine Therapy Corps...

CTC_Keshet_25Empowers and motivates individuals to improve their physical and psychological health and well-being by harnessing the human-animal bond;
Provides goal-directed, interactive animal-assisted therapy services, free of charge, using volunteers and certified therapy dogs;
Advances animal-assisted interventions through research and collaboration.

The group photo of CTC dogs is courtesy of Steve Grubman

 

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Imagine That

An Interview with Jack Zipes, By the Editors of Interstitial Journal, on how media and marketing have reduced the cultural value of Fairy Tales...

Here are excerpts:

..."The nineteenth century, especially in Europe and North America, became the golden age of fairy tale collecting that led to the foundation of folklore societies. By the twentieth century, the fairy tale and other simple folk genres began to thrive not only by word of mouth and through
OlPosterWizardOzMusical2print, as they had for centuries, but were also transformed, adapted, and disseminated through radio, postcards, greeting cards, comics, cinema, fine arts, performing arts, wedding ceremonies, television, dolls, toys, games, theme parks, clothes, the Internet, university courses, and numerous other media and objects. Among the modes of hyped advertising were posters, billboards, interviews, window dressings, department store shows, radio, tv, and Internet interviews, ads in newspapers, magazines, and journals, and all the other kinds of paratexts that accompany a cultural product. As I argued in my book Why Fairy Tales Stick: The Evolution and Relevance of a Genre... Hyping is the exact opposite of preservation and involves, as I have argued, conning consumers and selling products that have a meager cultural value and will not last. Some recent fairy tale films produced by the mainstream culture industry reveal how filmmakers and producers hype to sell shallow products geared primarily to make money. They use the mass media to exploit the widespread and constant interest in fairy tales that has actually deepened since the nineteenth century..."

The interview continues with examples of marketing compromises made to achieve financial success that blur or change the integrity of the original tales.  

.............................

 A fairytale doesn’t exist in a fixed form... 

"Like a mother tongue, the stories are acquired, early, to become part of our mental furniture
CoverCottageintheWoodsCatherineCoville(think of the first books you absorbed as a child). The shared language is pictorial as well as verbal, and international, too. Such language – Jung called it archetypal – has been growing into a common vernacular since the romances of classical antiquity and the middle ages – Circe from the Odyssey and Vivienne from Morte d’Arthur are recognisable forerunners of fairy queens and witches, and the sleeping beauty herself first appears in a long medieval chivalric tale, Perceforest. A fairytale doesn’t exist in a fixed form; it’s something like a tune that can migrate from a symphony to a penny whistle."

 This is an excerpt from Marina Warner’s Once Upon a Time: A Short History of Fairy Tale 

 

 ...............

The New Edition of Born Without A Tail

In her original book, Born Without a Tail, C.A. Wulff chronicles the true-life adventures of two animal rescuers living with an ever-changing house full of pets. She takes us on a journey from childhood through adulthood, sharing tales, (mis)adventures and insights garnered from a lifetime of encounters with a menagerie of twenty remarkable animals.

BwatcoversThe new edition also has a prologue about Wulff's journey into advocacy; and, it also has several additional photos. Here’s what some readers have said about it:

 “I can’t say too much about this book, it’s more than a ‘dog book’ it’s RocketatOUACStore
a people, animals, life book.
I was hooked from the first page and read it straight through, and have re read it since, enjoying it just as much the second time around.  Anyone who’s ever had a heart dog, a misfit cat, ever been touched by the love of an animal should enjoy this book. It’s a keeper.
 

“A collection of funny and heartwarming tales that shaped the life of a young animal advocate. Inspiring and written from the heart.“ I was touched by this account of love, friendship, responsibility and true selflessness. If you love animals you will not be able to put this book down.“ .

The book covers and the photo of Rocket are by C.A. Wulff.

................................

LogoBetterLumos is part of J.K. Rowling's effort to make the world a better place. Her focus is on children and poverty. She is the founder of Lumos, one of several charities she supports. Here are excerpts from the Lumos website:

Across the globe 8 million children are living in institutions that deny them individual love and care. More than 80% are not orphans. They are separated from their families because they are poor, disabled or from an ethnic minority. As a result, many suffer lifelong physical and emotional harm. 

Urban slumMeanwhile, the numbers of children in so-called orphanages continues to rise in areas outside Europe. Lumos has now begun work in the Latin American and Caribbean region. We have started in Haiti, where approximately 30,000 children are currently living in almost entirely privately funded orphanages. Once again, we find the familiar ratio of 80% non-orphans, and recognize the driving force of poverty. 

Lumos has a single, simple goal: to end the institutionalization of children worldwide by 2050. This is ambitious, but achievable. It is also essential. Eight million voiceless children are currently suffering globally under a system that, according to all credible research, is indefensible. We owe them far, far better. We owe them families.

 ...........................

 

WCDogsLogo

Nancy Hauser's Way Cool Dogs has two new articles with excellent guidelines for people thinking of getting a dog. One article is an overview, dealing primarily with breed and size...Here is an excerpt from the second article:

 "All dogs need a certain amount of affection, attention, grooming, mental stimulation and physical activity. But different dogs need different levels of each, and should match that of their owner. For example, do you want to brush your dog or have the time? Are you going to be at work most of the day, and have a dog sitter rounded up to care for your pet while you are gone? These things all need to be well-thought out at all dogs are different with different needs."
 
Both articles will link you to the very helpful Dog Breed Selector.

Abc-animals-animated
 
Way Cool Dogs also offers: ABC Animals-Animated Flashcards where you can record your own voice or sounds. This is from their site:
 

"It’s finally here – our ABC Animals – Animated Flashcards mobile app for iOS!Image is in WCD folder in Blog Material)

ABC Animals – Animated Flashcards is an animated flashcard app for iPhone and iPod with 52 beautifully illustrated animations of adult and baby animals. Featuring phonics and a slideshow! Record you own voice and sounds and download free coloring pages!"

 

 ...........................

 The Power of Illustration at the Eric Carle Museum EriccarleMusem-logo

UliShulevitz

If you have an interest in the power of illustration to ignite children's imagination, and you'll be in New England in the coming months, consider visiting the  Eric Carle Museum in Amherst, MA. where multiple exhibits are taking place.

 
AliceBolamEricCarleMuseumChildren's memories of early books have often been enhanced by
illustrations of worlds of wonder. As an adult, the mind still carries images from these early journeys. Historians attribute much of the great success of Taylor's versions of the Grimm's Tales in early nineteenth century England to the illustrations of George Cruikshank.
 
The Eric Carle Museum is featuring exhibits by four outstanding artist/illustrators: Alice Bolam Preston (1888-1958);  Eric Carle ; Uli Shurevitz; and Gustav Dore. 
 
Many of Dore's illustrations are considered to be pioneering classics. Here is an excerpt from the museum's website regarding Dore and his
influence on modern illustrators:

 
DoreRedRidinghood2"Sleeping Beauty,' 'Little Red Riding Hood,' and 'Beauty and the Beast.'  Doré’s timeless illustrations are presented in this exhibition along with the works of contemporary children’s-book illustrators. Allowing for a side-by-side comparison, the influence of Doré becomes apparent in the works of famous contemporary illustrators like Jerry Pinkney, James Marshall, and Fred Marcellino..." 
 
The Eric Carle catipillar logo is by Eric Carle; the flying boat illustration is by Uli Shurevitz; the fairy in the garden illustration is by Alice Bolam Preston; and the Little Red Riding Hood illustration is by Gustav Dore. They are all part of the Eric Carle Museum exhibits. 

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        AdspringreadsPOD2012  

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       The Planet Of The Dogs series is in China

        HBG

The Chongxianguan Book Company in Beijing has published the
complete Planet Of The Dogs series in China. They have translated the text and produced new illustrations (above) and covers. On the left, are illustrations from the Chinese books. On the right are illustrations from the English version. Deanna Leah of HBG productions introduced the books to our Chinese publishers.You can visit the Chinese web page for Planet Of The Dogs through this link: CHINA 

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  GirlDogWomanBookNew York City R.E.A.D.  Update

Intermountain Therapy Animals have been responsible for developing R.E.A.D. programs and training more than 3000 registered therapy reading dog teams in the USA, Canada, Europe and beyond to South Africa. European countries include Italy, Finland, France, Sweden, Slovenia and Spain. All of  this since 1999.

New York City has a growing and vital program, New York Therapy Dogs R.E.A.D.®, under the direction of Nancy George-Michalson. Here, in her words, is a brief summary of their activities ...

"Our ITA R.E.A.D. teams are being placed in a variety of schools and the NY Public Libraries working with children with Autism, ESL students and developmentally and emotionally challenged children as well as children who are just curious about reading to a therapy dog. The response from the staff and families has been remarkable."

If you have a dog, live in the NYC area, and have considered therapy reading dog work, click the link above. Or, you can write directly to Nancy at NGM-ART@nyc.rr.com

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"If you must keep your dog outdoors, construct an excellent dog house and kennel based on considerations of your dog’s breed, age, health status, your climate and environment, and safety and health features. Schedule daily activities so that your dog doesn’t become depressed or frustrated, leading to difficult behaviors. Never chain your dog.

It is now a well-established fact that dogs are social, pack-oriented animals who thrive on human companionship and are happiest while living indoors as part of the family. When you bring a new dog into your family, the dog learns to view your family members and your other pets as his or her pack.

Everything proceeds well as long as your dog is content with his or her place in the pack. Many behavior problems can be avoided with a little extra effort or training to make the dog comfortable with this position. CITM-Children in he castle-blog size

The most devastating thing the leader of a pack can do is to isolate an individual from the pack to solve a problem; different problem behaviors will likely arise. The dog might become profoundly depressed or anxious. Nuisance barking is common among dogs kept outdoors. Also, a lonely, isolated dog might disassociate from the family pack and cease to be watchful or protective of the family. You must schedule daily play time or take daily walks. Engage in a new activity with your dog such as nose work."

Anna Nirva, editor and prime mover on Sunbear Squad, continues this post with detailed, comprehensive considerations and guidelines for creating a Humane Dog House.

The illustration, from Castle In The Mist, of the children and the dog, is by Stella  Mustanoja Mccarty.

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"Dogs have given us their absolute all. We are the center of their universe. We are the focus of their love and faith and trust. They serve us in return for scraps. It is without doubt the best deal man has ever made." -- Roger Caras
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7. Caterpillar Shoes Book Blast $50 GC Giveaway

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We’ve teamed up with Mother Daughter Book Reviews again for our latest release Caterpillar Shoes.  You can enter through May 6th for a chance at winning a $50 gift card by clicking the Rafflecopter link:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

You can download our latest children’s picture book for only $.99 for a limited time or it is available FREE if you have Kindle Unlimited.  Start your free trial of Kindle Unlimited HERE.

Patches is an energetic caterpillar who is trying to decide what activities to do. In the end, she doesn’t put any limits on herself and lives her life to the full.

Also check out our other kidlit stories:

Lil Glimmer

The Nutt Family: An Acorny Adventure

The Pig Princess

The Bee Bully **AMAZON BEST SELLER**

Eager Eaglets: Birds of Play

Cactus Charlie

Suzy Snowflake

Monsters Have Mommies **AMAZON BEST SELLER**

The Cat Who Lost His Meow

The Christmas Owl **AMAZON BEST SELLER**

Ten Thankful Turkeys **AMAZON BEST SELLER**.


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8. April is Month of the Military Child: Interviews with Seven Super Kids

by Sally Matheny

April is Month of the Military Child

Did you know the military community makes up 1% of the American population? One percent. Wow. My gratitude for America’s military grows every day. I also appreciate the families of those service members. The spouses and children of our military also serve our country.

Did you know April is the Month of the Military Child? More than 2 million children have a parent in the military. For today's post I had the pleasure of talking with seven super kids. I'm sure you'll enjoy what they share as much as I did. 

Read more »

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9. The Kidtastic Giveaway

More April surprises have arrived.  We have joined forces with some other great children’s book authors for a big giveaway.  During April 5th – April 9th you can download the kindle version of our book, The Pig Princess from Amazon for FREE.

Pig cover

And since we think pigs rule we want to let you know about Scott Gordon’s children’s book, Pigtastic which is also FREE on Amazon during this period.

Pigtastic

We saved the best for last.  You can enter to win a 3DS XL and a game of your choice.

ENTER HERE.: a Rafflecopter giveaway


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10. Young Children, New Media & Libraries Infographic

Young Children, New Media & Libraries Survey

Young Children, New Media & Libraries Survey (image courtesy of ALSC)

Between August 1 and August 18, 2014, 415 children’s librarians responded to a survey of 9 questions concerning the use of new media with young children in libraries. The survey was created as a collaborative effort between Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC), LittleeLit.com, and the iSchool at the University of Washington. Preliminary finding are available through an infographic created by ALSC’s Public Awareness Committee.

You can download a copy of this infographic from the ALSC Professional Tools site.

The post Young Children, New Media & Libraries Infographic appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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11. Caterpillar Shoes

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Happy World Poetry Day!  We’ve been busy working on our latest children’s picture book, Caterpillar Shoes.  This story is about a colorful caterpillar named Patches.  She’s an energetic caterpillar trying to decide what activities to do.  In the end, she doesn’t put any limits on herself and lives her life to the full.  This is our twelfth children’s book and we are so excited for it’s release.  Stay tuned here to learn about upcoming promotions for this book and others.

Th only limit to a paintbrush and a blank canvas is your imagination.

 


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12. HighFive Magazine: “Watch Us Move!”

This is an illustration of mine printed in HighFive. Kids’ keeping active–with a little help from animals!

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(Copyright Highlights for Children)

0 Comments on HighFive Magazine: “Watch Us Move!” as of 3/17/2015 10:08:00 AM
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13. Kindle Direct Publishing

Here is a nice write up KDP did on my in their latest newsletter.  So cool!

Your Voice

KDP Author Angela Muse

Muse, Angela 2014

Angela Muse, author of The Bee Bully, shares her experience with Kindle Direct Publishing.
“I wrote my very first children’s book in 2009 as a gift to my two young children. If not for my son and KDP, my experience as an author would have ended right there. One day in 2011, he asked me why I wasn’t publishing any more children’s books, and I didn’t have a good answer. The stories were there. In fact, I’d written several that were just gathering dust in my closet. The platform for indie publishing was there. Amazon had launched KDP, and many authors were finding success. Of course, those voices that keep us from following our dreams began to mount in my head. What if people can’t find my stories? What if people do find my stories and they hate them? What if I can’t find a good illustrator that I can afford? After quashing all those voices, I decided to go nuts…literally.

“While collecting acorns with my children in the fall of 2011, I created a story entitled The Nutt Family: An Acorny Adventure and decided that this would be my next release. I found a brilliant illustrator in Poland, held my breath, and hit the publish button. In 2012, my journey as an independent author began by publishing more titles including The Bee BullyThe Pig Princess, and Suzy Snowflake.

“When I first started, I didn’t have a clue about where to find good illustrators, how to get book reviews, and most importantly, how to effectively market my books. In the beginning, I researched and networked with other authors to gather as much data as I could to help me in all these areas. The biggest hurdle was the marketing. I tried many different techniques, but one of the most effective was utilizing the free promotion days in KDP Select. Once my books were free, there were lots of websites and social media outlets that were willing to promote them. I also tried to focus on my audience as much as possible. For the most part, I write children’s picture books, but the children are not the ones who will purchase them. I focused on the parents and finding blogs and sites specific to that audience who would want to promote or feature my books.

“I wasn’t one of those people who sought out an agent for my work and tried to go the traditional route. With KDP, I have a golden opportunity to go at this myself and do things my own way. I can set my own goals and deadlines. I can market my books in the manner I choose. I can decide my price structure. I have full control.

“Did I make mistakes along the way? You bet, but I also learned a lot in making those mistakes. I found support from many great authors who were also forging ahead in the indie publishing world, and we were all doing this together. It felt like we were all out in this big ocean trying to catch oysters, each of us looking for our own pearls.

“It’s been almost three years since I began this journey, and I’m so grateful to KDP and the KDP Select program for giving indie authors a chance, that not long ago, we never would have had. I wouldn’t have received fan mail from preschool aged children who enjoyed my stories if not for KDP. One of my goals as a children’s author is to get kids to read. KDP allows me to publish quality children’s picture books to help me accomplish that goal. The smiles and giggles from the kids who read my books are just the icing on my indie publishing cake.”

 


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14. GUYKU, A Year of Haiku for Boys – Perfect Picture Book Friday

Title: GUYKU A Year of Haiku for Boys Written by: Bob Raczeka Illustrated by: Peter Reynolds Published by: Houghton Mifflin Books for Children, New York, 2010 Themes/Topics: seasons, poetry, haiku, nature Suitable for ages: 4-8 Opening: The wind and I play         … Continue reading

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15. March Surrounded by Wonders, kids, books, dogs and movies

    Hänsel_und_GretelAlexanderZick

 

Hansel and Gretel...

Life was harsh for the country people who told this story to relieve the  cruel reality of their daily existence.

Hansel and Gretel encounter abandonment, fear, hunger, cannibalism, and magic...they are lost in a cruel world of kill or be killed.

The children must rely on their own courage and ingenuity to survive and prevail.   

Welcome to the world of the wonder tale.

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Wonder Tales before the Grimms 

VERSAILLESLEREVEDUNROI-9During the reign of Louis XIV, cultural endeavors in all the arts were encouraged and highly regarded in the court of Versailles. Writers, including Moliere, Racine and Marais, were respected and often admired. Ideas were in the air in the salons of Paris and in the court itself.  

Marina Warner, edited The Wonder Tales, Six French Stories of Enchantment, introducing the reader to the European birth of the fairy tale and making a case for calling then tales of wonder. Among the writers with stories included are Charles Perrault, Marie-Catherine D'Aulnoy and Henriette- Julie De Murat. Perrault was perhaps the most influential, if one considers the stories (from folk tales) he published under the title, The Tales of Mother Goose. These eight stories included Cinderella, Blue Beard, Little Red Riding hood, and the Sleeping Beauty in the Woods. 
 
Here are excerpts from the Oxford University Press overview of the book...

"Once upon a time, in the Paris of Louis XIV, five ladies and one gentleman-- all of them 
aristocrats-- seized on the new enthusiasm for "Mother Goose Stories" and decided to write Bluebeardsome of them down. Telling stories resourcefully and artfully was a key social grace, and when they recorded these elegant narratives they consciously invented the modern fairy tale as we still know it today."

 

Heroes and heroines are put to mischievous tests, and their quest for love is confounded when their objects of desire change into beasts or monsters. Still, true understanding and recognition of the person beneath the spell wins in the end, for after wonder comes consolation, and after strange setbacks comes a happy ending. In Wonder Tales, a magical world awaits all who dare to enter."

 

 

 
The illustration of Blue Beard is by Gustav Dore. 
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Good but Grimm Bedtime Reading

 Mary Leland, in the Irish Examiner, has written a most insightful and interesting article on folktales and myths and the life and times of the Brothers Grimm. She also writes about Jack Zipes and the significance of his recent translation of the original  version of Children's and Household Tales by the Brothers Grimm. 
 
CruikshankElvesandShoemakerHere is an excerpt from the beginning of her excellent article:

"Many readers may argue with the poet Schiller’s assertion that ‘Deeper meaning resides in the fair tales told to me in my childhood that in the truth that is taught by life.’ Even so, perhaps those same readers will admit that the belief, quoted in Bruno Bettelheim’s master-work ‘The Uses of Enchantment’ (1976) has some validity.

They will certainly do so if they acknowledge the staying power of the fairytales told or read to them in childhood, and if they remember that strange hinterland in which mystery, search, loss, redemption and triumph still bring some imaginative consolation to the perceived injustices of the very young.

The fact is, as Jack Zipes discusses in his fascinating anthology, fairy tales incorporate the truth that is taught by life...."

The illustration of the Elves and the Shoemaker is by George Cruickshank.

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The Grimm's Wonder Tales Sweep England in the Nineteenth Century

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David Blamires, in a very comprehensive and rather scholarly article for Open Book Publishers, details the impact on readers in England of the  Edgar Taylor translation (1823) of the Grimm's original Childrens and Household Tales. The article provides both overview and details of the English versions throughout the 18th Century. Blamires credits the illustrations by George Cruikshank as being very important to to wide popular acceptance. 

RapunselbyGeoCruickshank "Without a shadow of doubt the single most important German contribution to world literature is the collection of traditional tales made by the Brothers Grimm and first published in two small volumes in 1812-15. It outshines Goethe’s Faust and such twentieth-century classics as Mann’s Death in Venice or Kafka’s The Trial by virtue of an infinitely greater readership. Not only have the tales been translated in whole or in part into virtually every major language in the world, but they have generated countless new editions and adaptations and become the cornerstone of the study of folktales not only in Germany, but throughout the world... 

When Edgar Taylor made the first translation of the Grimms into English
as German Popular Stories, translated from the Kinder und Haus Märchen, collected by M.M. GeorgeCrukshankCinderellaGrimm, from oral tradition (London: C. Baldwyn, 1823), the fairytale as a genre was very much in the grip of the French. Of course, such truly English fairytales as ’Jack the Giant-killer’, ’Whittington and his Cat’, ’Tom Hickathrift’, ’Tom Thumb’ and ’Jack and the Beanstalk’ had circulated in chapbooks, but English tales were not systematically collected until later. It was the fairytales of Charles Perrault, Madame d’Aulnoy and Madame Leprince de Beaumont that dominated the scene..." 
The illustrations of Rapunzel and Cinderella are by George Cruickshank.

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Born Without A Tail Returns

Logofull bp Logo2_flatPreferredThe enhanced second edition of Born Without A Tale, by C.A. Wulff will be published later this month by Barking Planet Productions. The book is a heartwarming life journey memoir by of Wulff's never ending rescues, healings, and adventures with a melange of dogs and cats. 

Here's a description of the first edition from Amazon:

When your home has a revolving door for abused and abandoned animals, keeping pets takes
on a whole new dimension! Sometimes hilarious, sometimes heart-rending, Born Without Bwatcoversamp_sm (2)a Tail chronicles the true-life adventures of two animal rescuers living with an ever-changing house full of pets. The author takes us on a journey from childhood through adulthood, sharing tales, (mis)adventures and insights garnered from a lifetime of encounters with a menagerie of twenty remarkable animals.--

And here is an abridged sample of a review...there are many more on Amazon : 

"I can't say too much about this book, it's more than a 'dog book' it's a people, animals, life book. I was hooked from the first page and read it straight through... The writer has a great way of drawing you in, making you at home in her world. Anyone who's ever had a heart dog, a misfit cat, ever been touched by the love of an animal should enjoy this book. It's a keeper."                                     -- Bookpleasures.com

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Lost Wonders Found In An Immersive Theatrical Experience

Imagine walking into a warehouse converted into an environment of wonder where you find clairvoyant ravens, a runaway princess, and elves with magic powers.  I discovered all of this is happening in London when I read a recent post by Kristen in her Tales of Faerie blog. Here is an excerpt...  

GrimmTalesPhotobyAngelaB."Any readers who live in England/will be travelling to the UK this spring? There's a unique fairy tale play going on, Philip Pullman's Grimm Tales for the Young and Old: An Immersive Fairy Tale, adapted and directed by Philip Wilson....

Reviewers seem overall very impressed with the play, especially the format. Instead of an audience sitting in chairs in an auditorium, they follow the characters through a large warehouse with different sections set up as each fairy tale. Props to the creators of this play for not only staying faithful to the Grimm fairy tales, but introducing audiences to lesser known tales, such as "Faithful Johannes" and "The Three Little Men in the Woods" (which seems to be the audience favorite)."

ThreeGnomesinForesGrimmIllstrationHermannVogelIn the words of Philip Wilson (Director & Adapter) of this theater piece:

"I love the fact that, in German, these are known as 'wonder tales' rather than the more twee term 'fairy tales': and so audiences coming to the Bargehouse will find themselves plunged into a parallel universe in which extraordinary adventures happen - and the darker side of these stories will come to light..."

For more information and a video, visit Grimm 

Photo by Angela B; Illustration by Hermann Vogel

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PawsGivingIndependence

Paws Giving Independence (PGI) is a multi-faceted, grass roots organization, located in Peoria, Illinois, that does wonderful work in providing service dogs for people with disabilities. Their PGI MontyyFourthGradedogs serve people ranging from the Jesse Brown Veteran's Hospital in PGIMontyChicago to the Peoria Children's Home Youth Farm. 

The photo on the left is of Monty, who recently had his first day of school with his new friend, the young girl in the photo. They are both in fourth grade. Monty now lives with her in her home, and they go everywhere, including the school bus, together.

Monty was trained by a Bradley University student as part of the Wags for Mags program, initiated by Paws Giving Independence (photo on the right).This ongoing program of student volunteers works directly with people and training the dogs for service. Anyone with a disability can apply for a PGI service dog. Saturday, June 6, 2015, is the day for PGI's  Running With The Dogs Day. 

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Dogs As Healers in the Planet Of The Dogs Series

 In the first book in the Planet Of The Dogs we are introduced to Bella, the healer lady of Green Valley. And it is through Bella that people have their first experience with dogs as healers...the first Therapy Dogs. Here is an excerpt...

"The next morning, just as daylight brightened their home, Tomas and his family had another POD-Healer and the dog-blog sizevisitor, Bella, the healer lady. Bella helped the people of Green Valley when they were having babies, or when they were sick. She had a large garden of flowers and herbs that she used when healing people. All the people in Lake Village, including Omeg, liked her and respected her. Bella had been dreaming of the dogs and understood the reason they had come to Planet Earth. 

Before Bella reached the house, Robbie and Buddy, who now slept in the barn, sensed her arrival and ran up the road to greet her. The family was happy to see her and to find that she welcomed the dogs. They  were  surprised that Bella was  so comfortable with Buddy, who lay at her feet while she sat at the table drinking a refreshing cup of mint tea. Bella had an even bigger surprise for everyone. She said, “From my dreams, I have learned that the dogs can help me in my work. I know they have the power of love and the power to help people heal,” she said. Tomas and Sara looked at her in amazement. Daisy and Bean were not so surprised. Then Bella said, “I want to take the little dog to visit Delia, the sad one...”

For sample chapters from Planet Of The Dogs, Castle In The Mist, and Snow Valley Heroes,  A Christmas Tale -- and more information about all of our Barking Planet books -- visit our Planet Of The Dogs website.  

POD-Daisy&Bean-blog sizeFree copies of the Planet of The Dogs book series  for therapy dog organizations, individual therapy dog owners, and librarians and teachers with therapy reading dog programs...simply send us an email at planetofthedogs@gmail.com.

"In PLANET OF THE DOGS, Robert McCarty weaves an enchanting story that will delight the young reader as well as the young reader's parents or grandparents. Parents and grandparents should be forewarned, however, that their young readers will be pleading with them unrlentingly for a visit to Green Valley."  Warner V. Slack MD, Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School; Father, Grandfather
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All Barking Planet Productions Books are available on the internet at Barnes & Noble, Amazon, and other booksellers --  as well as your local independent bookstore. 

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LitWorld and World Read Aloud Day

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LitWorld brings literacy, reading, books, and empowerment to disadvantaged children.

LitWorld celebrated their annual World Read Aloud Day on March 5th.

"World Read Aloud Day allows members of our year-round programs to invite more people into their literacy community and brings LitWorld’s messages to the rest of the world. World Read Aloud Day is now celebrated by over one million people in more than 80 countries and reaches over 31 million people online. The growth of our movement can be attributed in large part to our network of partner organizations and “WRADvocates” – a group of reading advocates and supporters taking action in their communities and on social media."

Visit their website and learn more about their wonderful work: LitWorld

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The Wind In The Willows

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"But Mole stood still a moment, held in thought. As one wakened suddenly from a beautiful dream, who struggles to recall it, but can recapture nothing but a dim sense of the beauty in it, the beauty! Till that, too, fades away in its turn, and the dreamer bitterly accepts the hard, cold waking and all its penalties."--Kenneth Grahame, The Wind In The Willows; Illustration, E.H. Shephard

 
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I was drawn to read this book. 

Cover frontThe Motherless Child Project is terrific and timely. The central character, Emily Amber Ross, a 16 year old girl, is bright, interesting, conflicted, and very likable. The fact that she lives in a home where there can be no mention of her mother and her childhood becomes a driving force in her life. The story builds into a suspenseful, compelling, poignant rush of events. The ending is exciting and satisfying. I would think that word of mouth will be significant. In addition to being an excellent, and meaningful read -- The Motherless Child Project would make a great YA crossover movie. 

Janie McQueen and Robin Karr are the co-authors of The Motherless Child Project

 

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 The Unintelligible Truth of Folktales

Laura Miller, in Salon, conducted an excellent interview with Maria Tatar on the occasion of the publication of The Turnip Princess. Here is an excerpt:

What do you in particular find so compelling about this form?

Speed_goldenhood1"What I really love about fairy tales is that they get us talking about matters that are just so vital to us. I think about the story of Little Red Riding Hood and how originally it was about the predator-prey relationship, and then it becomes a story about innocence and seduction for us. We use that story again and again to work out these very tough issues that we have to face. My hope is that this volume will get people talking about not just the stories and the plot but the underlying issues.

Milan Kundera has this quote in “The Unbearable Lightness of Being” about painting that goes something like: Painting is an intelligible lie on the surface, but underneath is the unintelligible truth. Folktales are lies, they misrepresent things, and they seem so straightforward and so deceptively simple in a way. It’s the unintelligible truth beneath that’s so powerful, and that’s why we keep talking about them. They’re so complicated. We have a cultural compulsion about folklore. We keep retelling the stories because we can never get them right."  Illustration by Lancelot Speed

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Ugly1894DucklingCover"He now felt glad at having suffered sorrow and trouble, because it enabled him to enjoy so much better all the pleasure and happiness around him;” 

 “It is only with the heart that one can see clearly, for the most essential things are invisible to the eye.” 
― Hans Christian Anderson, The Ugly Duckling

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Animated Movies and Inspiration from Tales of Wonder 

ImagesLast year (2014), the Oscar for the best animated film -- Frozen -- was "inspired" by Hans Christian Anderson's classic story, The Snow Queen. In addition to substantive story changes, this Disney fantasy removes the dark fear and danger of the original and substitutes dazzling animation, fast pacing, and romantic gloss. Frozen has a sound track of soaring romantic music. the film also won an Oscar for best song: Let It Go.

Disney achieved their goal. In addition to recognition by their peers in winning the Oscars, the film has been extremely popular and made a great deal of money, grossing $1,274,219,009. That figure represents an incredible number of children and adults experiencing the Disney version of the story.

Here is an excerpt from Anderson's original Snow Queen, which, unlike the film, I find permeated by a sense of the ominous, of danger and events beyond control...

Snow_qween5"There stood poor Gerda, without shoes, without gloves, in the midst of cold, dreary, ice-bound Finland. She ran forwards as quickly as she could, when a whole regiment of snow-flakes came round her; they did not, however, fall from the sky, which was quite clear and glittering with the northern lights. The snow-flakes ran along the ground, and the nearer they came to her, the larger they appeared. Gerda remembered how large and beautiful they looked through the burning-glass. But these were really larger, and much more terrible, for they were alive, and were the guards of the Snow Queen... but all were dazzlingly white, and all were living snow-flakes."

Hopefully, many more children, having experienced the Disney version, will be drawn to read the original.

Illustration of the original Snow Queen is by Vilhelm Pedersen.

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Little Red Riding Hood...There are many versions and many interpretations in film, TV, CaleAtkinsonLilRedtheater and illustration of Little Red Riding Hood. The story had a major role last year in Disney's production of Into The Woods, a film inspired by a popular Broadway musical.

On a more modest scale, Cale Atkinson, a talented young Canadian illustrator, created a delightful short animated  version (1:37) of Red Riding Hood on Vimeo.

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Disney's Big Hero

Big-Hero-6--3This year, Big Hero 6 , also a Disney film, has won the Oscar for best animated film. This time , inspiration for the film was inspired by a Marvel comic story. The film is a significant departure from the original. Humor, imagination and outstanding animation bring Hiro, a brilliant teenage robotics inventor, Baymax his robot, and the fantasy future world of San Fransokyo to fun-filled life.

Disney, through the collaboration between Winnie the Pooh director Don Hall, and Chris Williams, director of Bolt, succeeded in adding charm and fun to the original premise; as a result, Big Hero 6 found a large audience worldwide: $546,225,000 (this figure will grow with winning the Oscar).

Here is a link to the delightful trailer: Big Hero 6.

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 Disney Returns with Cinderella on March 13. 

CinderellaPoster2015Cinderella back and, once again, has a cruel stepmother ... If Kate Blanchett was my cruel stepmother, I would be most grateful if Helena Bonham Carter was my fairy godmother --  especially if Kenneth Branagh was my director. This comment is based on watching the trailer for Cinderella - the next Disney movie.  

See for yourself:  Cinderella Trailer...and listen to the soaring music.

The advance reviews suggest this Cinderella will please and delight young girls and their families. Personally, I'm still marveling at the movie created by Linda Woolverton, Robert Stromberg, and Angelina Jolie in Malificent, inspired by Sleeping Beauty.

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TheGuardian
Alison Flood writes about the drop in popularity of JRR Tolkien's books in the UK in an article for the Guardian. The article suggest that movies have been a primary influence in the reading choices of UK students. Perhaps Peter Jackson's Tolkien-based films don't inspire readers. Here are excerpts...

"Annual What Kids Are Reading report sees dystopian fantasy and larger-than-life comedies dominate... 

TolkienBooksJRR Tolkien’s fantasy novels have been elbowed out of the annual lineup of the most popular books for schoolchildren by a deluge of dark dystopias and urban fantasies.

The seventh What Kids Are Reading report, which analyses the reading habits of over half a million children in over 2,700 UK schools, revealed today that Tolkien’s books have dropped out of the overall most popular list for the first time since the report began six years ago. In previous years, Tolkien’s titles have featured within the chart’s top 10 places, mostly among secondary-school children.

Instead, this year in secondary schools the most popular title was John Green’s tale of a heartbreaking teenage romance, The Fault in Our Stars, followed by two dystopian stories: Suzanne Collins’s Catching Fire, from the Hunger Games series, and Veronica Roth’s Divergent, set in a world where people are classified according to their personality traits...."

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 Nancy Houser posted an informative article in Way Cool Dogs on Separation Anxiety in Dogs. To people who don't know dogs, this may sound a bit over the top. Dog owners, however, will appreciate this fact-filled article.


"Separation anxiety in dogs is that dreadful moment as they fall apart in front of our eyes as we WCDSeparation-Anxiety-in-Dogs-650x723walk out the door, leaving them … alone. We could be be having a medical emergency, a day of shopping, a day of hard work, an exhausting afternoon at the grocery store … or maybe even a quick trip outside to check our mail. And truthfully, it does not matter. Every situation becomes a period of hell for dogs with separation anxiety, an animal who is a social animal that needs a lot of companionship.

Where and when we  go does not matter; what matters is the fact that we are gone and they are not. They are at home, and alone.  Mother Teresa once said, “The most terrible poverty is loneliness, and the feeling of being unloved.”   She was speaking of humanity, of course, but current dog studies are proving that dogs not only have intelligence but similar emotions and emotional disorders as we do, and should be treated as such.

What is canine separation disorder?

According to dog experts, canine anxiety is divided into three different categories:

  • Noise anxiety
  • Separation anxiety
  • Social anxiety.

Canine separation disorder is considered to be one of the most common causes of behavioral problems in dogs..."

The article continues
 to analyze of canine anxiety disorders; Read more:Separation Anxiety.             The illustration is by Nancy Houser

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The Wonders of Reading for Children

An excerpt from Neil Gaimon's impassioned presentation on the importance of libraries, books and reading:

"There are no bad authors for children, that children like and want to read and seek out,
TomThumbDaumlingbecause every child is different. They can find the stories they need to, and they bring themselves to stories. A hackneyed, worn-out idea isn't hackneyed and worn out to them. This is the first time the child has encountered it. Do not discourage children from reading because you feel they are reading the wrong thing. Fiction you do not like is a route to other books you may prefer. And not everyone has the same taste as you.

Well-meaning adults can easily destroy a child's love of reading: stop them reading what they enjoy, or give them worthy-but-dull books that you like, the 21st-century equivalents of Victorian "improving" literature. You'll wind up with a generation convinced that reading is uncool and worse, unpleasant..."

This link, Neil Gaimon, will take you to all of this excellent presentation as reprinted in the Guardian.  Illustration of Tom Thumb by Alexander Zick.

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 “We read books to find out who we are. What other people, real or imaginary, do and think and feel... is an essential guide to our understanding of what we ourselves are and may become.” 
―  Ursula K. Le Guin      

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 How To Greet A Dog...and How Not To Greet A Dog (or cat)....

Unlearn polite human greeting behaviors … greet a dog or cat safely...Here is an excerpt and link to an article by Anna Nirva...

Yesterday at the shelter where I volunteer, a group of new volunteers were being led through the dog kennel room as part of a shelter volunteer orientation tour. I was returning a dog to a kennel after a
Dog 1.26 by 2.173 incheswalk, and several of the volunteers left the group to investigate the dog as I was leading him toward his enclosure. Two well-meaning people quickly approached the young dog straight-on, with hands outstretched, staring directly into the eyes of the shelter dog. Chief, the dog, a young, sensitive coonhound mix, feeling threatened, immediately moved through the open gate to the back of the kennel with his tail tucked and head lowered. “What’s wrong with him?” one of the new volunteers asked.

I had just found the topic for my weekly post...

In the western world, we are taught at an early age to greet new people by approaching them with upright posture, looking directly into their eyes and offering a hand to shake or squeeze. It becomes second nature to us, so as a result, many of us animal lovers greet every living thing–except bugs–using those same “good manners.”...

We must UNLEARN that set of social rules to avoid frightening dogs, cats, and other animals... read it all on SunBear Squad

The illustration from Snow Valley Heroes, A Christmas Tale is by Stella Mustanoja-McCarty

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" You think dogs will not be in heaven? I tell you, they will be there long before any of us." -- Robert Louis Stevenson

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16. Miss Emma Ant

My newest picture book for children is here! "Miss Emma Ant" tells the story of  talented, hard-working Emma, the architect for her colony's anthills. Ants in the colony, not recognizing their own special skills, grow jealous of Emma, and taunt her until she quits her job. Chaos ensues! Will pleas from apologetic ants convince Emma to return to work? Vibrant, expressive illustrations and fun

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17. If The House Fits...


There once was a woman who lived in a shoe.

Illustration by
STEVEN JAMES PETRUCCIO

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18. Miss Emma Ant Coloring Page

The picture book is coming soon! (function(d, s, id) { var js, fjs = d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0]; if (d.getElementById(id)) return; js = d.createElement(s); js.id = id; js.src = "//connect.facebook.net/en_US/all.js#xfbml=1"; fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, fjs);}(document, 'script', 'facebook-jssdk'));Post by Donna J. Shepherd, Writer, Speaker, Singer.

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19. Run, Librarians, Run!


On Tuesday, the new mural was kicked off to a flying start, when I met the two Y4 classes, from St Joseph's Primary and Smawthorne Henry Moore schools in Castleford, who have been chosen to help me to create the artwork. We worked in Castleford Museum, just upstairs from where the mural will be housed. I had each group for less than two hours, so we had a lot to achieve in a short time


You may recall, I decided on a tiger theme, because of the local rugby team and it was a small step from that to having tigers rampaging among the librarians and children in a 'jungle library'. So, I asked the morning group to focus on tigers. I demonstrated various quick techniques to help the children structure their animals and give them movement, then they were off!


They were so into it and all drew like demons for the entire time. I just love the one at the top by Riley Farrar from St Joseph's! Those that finished their tigers early, had a go at librarians. I showed them how to use body language and eyebrows to get across emotion. Not everyone finished colouring, so I will be getting out my Derwents soon!


For the afternoon session, I changed things slightly and asked children to be more general, drawing other jungle animals. We had some interesting discussions: 'Miss, can I draw a penguin?', 'I don't think you get penguins in the jungle, do you?', 'Well, how about a shark?'. Thank goodness for Jungle Grumble, to get some idea of the animals you might actually find in the jungle!

I also asked them to think about background details for the jungle library, whist being careful not to actual colour the background, as that will of course be done digitally by me, once the design is sorted out.


The afternoon group drew me some children and a few more librarians too. Bethany has definitely got to win the prize for best librarian illustration. Look carefully and you will see that she has also featured one of the library's 'talking books':


As well as having a well known rugby team, Castleford is an important archeological site (the museum is full of Roman artifacts, including the wheels of a chariot), so I have been asked to try and feature the Romans in the mural too. It's a hard match to the existing theme, but I wondered if a few Roman soldiers might come to life from the Ancient History bookshelves. They could help restore order and fight off the tigers perhaps. With this in mind, a few children drew Romans for me:


I did the return journey to Sheffield with a lovely, fat package of amazing illustrations. This week I have been scanning them into my computer, just as low-res images for now, so I can play around, dropping them into the templates I created, trying to combine as many of them as possible into what will ultimately be one big illustration, rampaging around the walls of Castleford Children's Library.

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20. Stunning book covers by artist Iacopo Bruno

Post by Jeanine

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Beautiful drawings, stellar storytelling, and gorgeous typography are among the many skills and expertise of Italian illustrator, Iacopo Bruno. They are also the key components of truly successful book covers, so it’s no surprise that Iacopo’s portfolio is jam-packed with delightful covers and his client list inclusive of many major publishers.

His style varies just enough to adapt to an impressive range of audience and subject matter. Sometimes his covers feature delicate hand lettering, vivid silhouettes, lively characters, or a touch of vintage or steampunk details—and often a combination of these elements. But the end result is always an inviting cover, drawing any reader into the world that lies within.

Iacopo founded DOT, a graphic design studio based in Milan that specializes in editorial and book design, illustration, and typography for a range of client markets. He’s created over 300 book covers, always bringing enthusiasm to each new project.

More of his work can be seen here: studio site | cover blog |sketch blog 

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21. An Alligators Valentine


This is a promotional piece I did for Valentines Day a year ago. Having moved to Florida a couple years ago and seeing many alligators, I was inspired. The art was done with acrylic inks and gouache.

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22. Feb- Storytellers, Books, Kids, Dogs and Movies

 

   Töölö 2015 015

                            Storytellers and The Oral Traditon

The photo is of a statue of a woman who could recite (sing) 32,000 verses of poetry
from the Kalevala, the Finnish national epic. Her name was Larin Paraske (1833-1904), one of the last Finnish Rune singer-storytellers. During  the Finnish renaisance of the nineteenth century , artists, writers, and composers (including Jean Sibelius) listened to her interpretation of the Kalevala. The Kalevala was passed on for centuries by rune singers. In earlier times, there were hundreds of Rune singers in this land of lakes and forests.

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Cinderfellas: The Long-Lost Fairy Tales

Here are excerpts from an excellent article about the soon to be published (February 24), The Turnip Princess. The article is a preview from the New Yorker of Franz Xaver von Schönwerth's "Lost" Fairy Tales. It was written by Maria Tatar, who also wrote the English translation of the new book.

..."Schönwerth’s tales have a compositional fierceness and energy rarely seen in stories King-Golden-Hair-008gathered by the Brothers Grimm or Charles Perrault, collectors who gave us relatively tame versions of “Little Red Riding Hood,” “Snow White,” “Cinderella,” and “Rapunzel.” Schönwerth gives us a harsher dose of reality than most collections. His Cinderella is a woodcutter’s daughter who uses golden slippers to recover her beloved from beyond the moon and the sun. His miller’s daughter wields an ax and uses it to disenchant a prince by chopping off the tail of a gigantic black cat. The stories remain untouched by literary sensibilities. No throat-clearing for Schönwerth, who begins in medias res, with “A princess was ill” or “A prince was lost in the woods,” rather than “Once upon a time…”

This fascinating article continues, describing the cultural shifts that resulted in the softening of Franz_Jüttner_Schneewittchen2these folk stories, and noting many instances where stories that were originally about boys, became stories about girls.

" ...Boy heroes clearly had a hard time surviving the nineteenth-century migration of fairy tales from the communal hearth into the nursery, when oral storytelling traditions, under the pressures of urbanization and industrialization, lost their cross-generational appeal. Once mothers, nannies, and domestics were in charge of telling stories at bedtime; it seems they favored tales with female heroines."

Tatar offers several examples of these changes. Here is her summary of a change in role that struck me as a vivid example, a precurser of the Princess and the Frog...

"Equally charming is the  story about Jodl, a boy who overcomes his revulsion to a female frog MaxfieldParrishFrogPrinceand, after bathing her, joins her under the covers. In the morning, he awakens to find himself in a sunlit castle with a wondrously beautiful princess..."

Greater Understanding of Fairy Tale Magic  

...Here at last is a transformation that promises real change in our understanding of fairy-tale magic, for suddenly we discover that the divide between passive princesses and dragon-slaying heroes may be little more than a figment of the Grimm imagination."

The illustration of Snow White is by Franz Juttner. The illustration of the Prince and the Frog is by Maxfield Parrish.

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Tales Told by People 

 "...Von Schönwerth spent decades asking country folk, labourers and servants about local habits, traditions, customs and history, and putting down on paper what had only been
passed on by word of mouth.
In 1885, Jacob Grimm said this about him: "Nowhere in the SnowWhiteWalterCranewhole of Germany is anyone collecting [folklore] so accurately, thoroughly and with such a sensitive ear." Grimm went so far as to tell King Maximilian II of Bavaria that the only person who could replace him in his and his brother's work was Von Schönwerth."

This excerpt is from an early Guardian article by Victoria Sussens-Messerer reporting on the discovery of a trove of "new Fairy tales" by Franz Xaver von Schönwerth

The illustration of Snow White is by Walter Crane.

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The Original Tales of the Brothers Grimm

OriginalFolkandFairyTalesBrothersGrimmZipesJack Zipes has translated into English, for the first time, the original volumes (1812-1815) of folk and fairy tales collected by the Brothers Grimm. 

Zipes, a pioneering scholar and prolific author of books relating to folk tales, fairy tales, legends and myths, has also written an insightful and  informative article on the Brother's Grimm, their motivation, methodology, and the world in which they lived and worked. The article, The Forgotten Tales of the Brothers Grimm, was published in the The Public Domain Review.
Here are excerpts...
 

"...Turning to the tales of the first edition the first thing a reader might notice is that many of the stories...were deleted in the following editions for various reasons, not because they were poorly told but because they did not meet some of the requirements of the Grimms... 


RRHDore...
The second thing a reader might notice about the tales in the first edition is that most of them are shorter and strikingly different than the same tales edited in the later collections. They smack of orality and raw contents. For instance, Rapunzel reveals that she has become impregnated by the prince; Snow White’s mother, not her stepmother, wants to kill the beautiful girl out of envy... 

...The literacy of the informants, however, did not diminish the folk essence of the tales
that, as the Grimms and other folklorists were to discover, were widespread throughout Europe and told more often than not in dialect. The tales came to the tellers from other tellers, or they read tales, digested them, and made them their own. Indeed, we always make tales our own and then send them off to other tellers with the hope that they will continue to disseminate their stories...

And yet, the Grimms, as collectors, cultivators, editors, translators, and mediators, are to be thanked for endeavoring to do the impossible and to work collectively with numerous people and their sources to keep traditional stories and storytelling alive. In this respect their little known first edition deserves to be rediscovered, for it is a testimony to forgotten voices that are actually deep within us. Hence, the irresistibility of the Grimms’ tales that are really not theirs, but ours. "

The illustration of the wolf about to eat Little Red Riding Hood's grandmother is by Gustav Dore. 

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                    Vogel2

Grimm Legacies: The Magic Power of the Grimms' Folk and Fairy Tales      by Jack Zipes was published in December, 2014 (Princeton University Press) as a complement to his translation of the Original Fairy Fairy Tales (above). Here is a review: 

GrimmLegaciesDec2014Princeton"In this landmark work of fairy-tale scholarship, Jack Zipes comes to grips with the multiple legacies of the Brothers Grimm in German and Anglo-American cultures. With nuance and inexhaustible insight, Zipes shows how mythmaking, marketing, hype, Americanization, the appeal of collective action, and utopian longing have sustained 'the magic spell' of the Grimms' tales throughout two centuries of use and abuse. Anyone seeking to understand the popularity of the Grimms' fairy tales or their richly diverse reception will do well to begin here."--Donald Haase, editor of The Greenwood Encyclopedia of Folktales and Fairy Tales


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The Rune Singer Storyteller begins Poem 1 of the Kalevala... 

AkseliGallenKallela-KullervoDepartsForTheWar"It is my desire,  it is my wish
to set out to sing,  to begin to recite,
to let a song of our clan glide on,  to sing a family lay,
The words are melting in my mouth,  utterances dropping out,
coming to my tongue,  being scattered about on my teeth."

Translation by Francis Magoun from the Kalevala poems compiled by Elias Lonnrot (1802-1804)

The illustration is from a painting by Akseli Gallen-Kallela

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PawsForAutismPaws 4 Autism is "helping families help their kids connect to the world 4 Paws at a time." 

The following excerpt is from the Planet Dog Foundation  (PDF) which provided a Grant to help Paws 4 Autism fulfill their mission.

"Paws 4 Autism utilizes specially trained dogs to help children with autism and their
PawsForAutism.4families. The PDF grant will specifically fund the Canine Assisted Social Skills in Education Program (CASSIE) which provides social and communication skills training for individuals aged 6-14 who have autism...Paws 4 Autism is 100% staffed by volunteers."

Visit the Paws 4 Autism website to learn more:

"Paws 4 Autism CASSIE program is currently working with 32 families in Kansas City, with a wait list of over 200 and growing..."

 

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World Read Aloud Day is March 4, 2015


WRADNepalWorld Read Aloud Day is LitWorld's Celebration of reading. In 2014, over 75 countries participated. 

This photo is from Nepal

Every year, on the first Wednesday of March, World Read Aloud Day calls global attention to the importance of reading aloud and sharing stories.

 "World Read Aloud Day motivates children, teens, and adults worldwide to celebrate the power of words and creates a community of readers taking action to show the world that the right to literacy belongs to all people. By raising our voices together on this day we show the world’s children that we support their futures: that they have the right to read, to write, and to share their stories.

WRADPhillipinesWorld Read Aloud Day allows members of our year-round programs to invite more people into their literacy community and brings LitWorld’s messages to the rest of the world. World Read Aloud Day is now celebrated by over one million people in more than 80 countries and reaches over 31 million people online. The growth of our movement can be attributed in large part to our network of partner organizations and “WRADvocates” – a group of reading advocates and supporters taking action in their communities and on social media. "

Here is the link for more information or to be a part of this wonderful event, LitWorld.

The photo on the lower left is from a World Read Aloud Day group in the Phillipines.

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"When I examine myself and my methods of thought, I come to the conclusion that the gift of fantasy has meant more to me that any talent for abstract, positive thinking.
Albert Einstein~(1879-1955)

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  IntlChildrensDigitalLibraryThe International Children's Digital Library (ICDL)

 Free Children's Books on the Internet in a huge digital library. Many of them appear to be from another era.  From their site...


AesopFables.jpg1"The ICDL has been visited by over three million unique visitors since our launch in November, 2002.

  • The ICDL collection includes 4619 books in 59 languages.
  • Our users come from 228 different countries.

Free access to high-quality digital books from around the world. Browse by age, genre, book length, character types, or even the color of a book's cover."

Here is the Link: ICDL

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Tell Me A Story 

SurLaLune , Heidi Anne Heimer's website for Fairy Tales and Folklore is a veritable constellation of fairy tale books, information, annotations, illustrations, and links. Here is a excerpt from an article she posted on folklore, fairy tales and the oral tradition of storytelling.    

RapunselbyGeoCruickshank"...Then there is the whole explanation of how folklore comes from oral storytelling tradition. Be aware that this website and most fairy tale studies deal with literary fairy tales, tales that are once removed from oral tradition, set down on paper by one or more authors. Once the story is written down, it becomes static in that version. It is no longer only folklore, but part of the world's body of literature. In contrast, the beauty of storytelling is how the same story is slightly different each time it is told, even by the same storyteller. Oral fairy tales are elusive creatures that folklorists study, record and try to trace through history. It is an invigorating field of study, but not the one I have pursued on SurLaLune. Note that sometimes the literary fairy tale came first and was then absorbed back into oral tradition, such as with 'Beauty and the Beast.'"... 

The illustration of Rapunzel is by George Cruickshank.
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The Planet of the Dogs, as the Story Was First Told



POD-Daisy&Bean-blog sizeDaisy and Bean,
who lived on a farm near Lake Falls Village (on planet Earth), found themselves on the Planet of the Dogs. They were the first humans to be there. This was long, ago, before there were dogs on planet Earth.

They had been chosen as emissaries, to help with a transition --  the dogs had decided to come to earth to help people learn again about loyalty, courage and love. And they needed to learn how non-violent solutions could turn back invaders. .

The following excerpt takes place following a huge gathering of the dogs,who had come to hear the decision, by Miss Merrie, Queen of the dogs, and the Dog Council, about helping people on earth....

 
"Rex, a big shaggy dog -- bigger than Buddy, and very old -- then spoke. 'You must not tell anyone about visiting the Planet of the Dogs.  People won’t believe you, and they’ll think that you aren’t telling the truth, or that it was just something you imagined. And some will become frightened and tell false stories about you. And this will interfere with our efforts to help people. You must keep your visit here a secret. Can you do that?' ”

To read more, visit the Planet Of The Dogs

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Free Books for Therapy Reading Dogs

JezebellPOD00000005Therapy reading dog owners, librarians and teachers with therapy reading dog programs --  If  you email us at planetofthedogs@gmail.com , we will send you free reader copies from the Planet of the Dogs Series...Read dog books to  kids and dogs.

The photo is of therapy reading dog Jezebell, seen here with a reading student friend. They were part of teacher Julie Hauck's pioneering Pages for Preston reading program for second and third graders in the Longfellow Elementary School, Sheboygan, WI.

 

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Up On the Woof

Uponwoofhdr2
 

 "I’ve been accused of treating my dogs like children, but I honestly see that as more of a badge of honor than a criticism. After all, the more science learns about dogs, the more ArielWaldoapparent it is that they are like children. They are as bright as any toddler, and because they are completely dependent on us, it means they stay babies all their lives. That means it’s our responsibility as pet parents to make sure their physical (food, water, shelter, safety, hygiene, play, medical) and emotional (love, encouragement, comfort) needs are met. It means teaching them, and seeing that their lives are enriched and that they are intellectually stimulated."

The excerpt above is by C.A. Wulff, from her Up On The Woof blog. Wulff is a dog loving animal advocate/activist; book reviewer and columnist (Examiner); yelodoggie artist; author of dog world books; and associate publisher at Barking Planet Productions.

In the Spring, Barking Planet Productions will publish an updated and revised edition of Wulff's fascinating memoir, Born Without a Tale. 

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Oh,_the_Places_You'll_Go
Your off to great places,

Today is your day!

Your mountain is waiting,

So...get on your way!
-Dr.Seuss

 

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New Cinderella from Disney opens March 13.

CinderellaPoster2015

 

Cinderella returns.. Will it be Sugar Coated Survival Skills or will the spirit of Malificent return?

After the success of Frozen, which glossed over Hans Christian Anderson's Snow Queen, it's no telling. However, the director (Kenneth Branagh) is excellent, as is the cast (Kate Blanchett, Lily James, Helen Bonham Carter, Richard Madden).


Frozen, with its romantic music and sugar coated romance, is a favorite to win an Academy Award (February 22).
 

Here is a link to the trailer: Cinderella

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In Defense of Little Girls Who Like Princesses

Lizzy Burns wrote a caring, thoughtful, and very lively blog defending little girls who like playing princess. Here is an excerpt... 

"There is nothing wrong -- absolutely nothing wrong -- with your young child liking princesses. ClioApril-2012Any princess...I get annoyed at the gendering of toys and books -- Legos and science are for boys, feelings and dress up are for girls -- but that is because Legos and science and feelings and dress up are for any child, boy or girl, and problematic messages are sent by calling one "boy" and one "girl."

Princesses (especially pink sparkly princesses) can be problematic not because they are pink sparkly princesses but because what it means to be a princess, to want to be a princess, and how society views that, along with misunderstandings about the nature of play and imagination (and I'd add, that goes for children, teens, and grown ups.)

I'm not the first person to talk about princesses, what they mean, what they don't mean, and the depth and substance that is needed for the "princess talk..." 

Here's a link to read it all: Lizzy Burns

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The Tin Man Returns in a theatrical perfomance piece invoving actors, puppets, a musical soundscape and innovative staging. Here is an excerpt from the New York Times Review by Laura Collins Hughes...

Led by a Tender Heart, Before It Is Ripped Out

‘The Woodsman’ Tells the Tin Man’s Tale

"Using words is dangerous in this eastern corner of Oz, yet sound is everywhere: the mournful music of a violin, the rasp of a witch, the spooky wind of the woods.

 

Woodsman2A movement piece with puppets, James Ortiz’s “The Woodsman” is an elemental reimagining of L. Frank Baum’s world of Oz. The spectacle is handmade, infused with breath and light...
This is the Tin Man’s back story: how a regular human named Nick Chopper (Mr. Ortiz) came to be a rusting pile of metal in need of a heart. The story, laid out in a spare spoken prologue in this largely wordless piece, involves the witch who rules this part of Oz. Her only apparent vulnerability is an aversion to sunlight..."

Here is a link to the full review: Laura Collins-Hughes

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How to Create a YA Phenomenon, in Nine Easy Steps by Amanda Dobbins

Humor, Irony, tongue-in-PC, and truth mix in this article from New York Magazine's Vulture Website. Here's an excerpt...

"The Divergent series has sold 5 million books and is regularly called 'the next Hunger Games' or 'the next next Twilight.'Interested in writing the next next next teen franchise? Here’s a step-by-step guide. 

DivergentBookCover1. Start a blog.
Early online readers got to watch Roth write Divergent, find an agent, and sell it to HarperCollins—all in real time on her website. By the time the book was published, “she was already a social-media phenomenon,” says editor Katherine Tegen. 

Pro tip: Blog about lots of things!
A list of non-writing topics mentioned on Veronica Roth’s blog: dead raccoons, traffic lanes, sweet-potato soup, spiders, a OneRepublic CD. 

2. Don’t be afraid to be trendy.
The Hunger Games was big at that point, but there were a couple other books that were on the cusp of the dystopian-sci-fi trend—Matched and The Maze Runner. But the timing just worked so that Divergent ended up...Read it all: Amanda Dobbins

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WCDogsLogo"How to find the best vet for your pooch
is about providing the best care for your dog. Dogs have a way of working their way into our heart and becoming more than just an everyday pet. If you have a pet dog then the chances are that they have become a firm member of your family. For this reason alone you are going to want to make sure that they receive the best veterinary care, which involves the best choice of vet. You probably wouldn’t visit a doctor with a bad reputation, and you will want the same for your dog..."

Read more on Nancy Hauser's Way Cool Dogs: Best Vet

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Motherless Child Project.

The voice of Emily Amber, a 16 year old girl in South Carolina, pulls you in. I rarely read YA MotherlessChildProjectbooks and I'm still in the process of reading The Motherless Child Project. However, I can report that a compelling momentum drives this story. Here is an excerpt from early on in the book...

"...In my house, no one talks about anything concerning my mother, not dad, not Jon, Nicky nor me. The best way I can explain it is like this - when it's a fact in your life that your mother is MIA, and you know you'll never get anywhere by asking where she is because you tried numerous times with bad or worse results, you just move on with your life. What else can you do?..."

I'm looking forward to reading all of the Motherless Child Project and reporting on Emily Amber in the next Barking Planet blog. For more information, visit author Janie McQueen.

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SheSpeaksBark-Logo_HorizontalOn Jan 29, Kaitlin Jenkins, posted an article  on her blog, She Speaks Bark,  about National Seeing Eye Dog Day. I found her article to be warm-hearted and informative. Here is an excerpt... 

"Guide Dogs, or Seeing Eye Dogs as they’re often called, provide support and independence to
GuideDogsforBlindClickerImage2014visually impaired individuals. Often, the companionship of the seeing eye dogs allows a visually impaired person to take many of their daily tasks back into their own hands. Suddenly a world that was always limiting a person is once again re-opened, and they’ve got a constant companion who is looking out for them at all times. The partnership between a trained guide dog and their person is something to behold, and it’s something I’ve always found incredibly powerful and fascinating."

GuideDogsBlindLogoHeaderHer article led me to Guide Dogs for the Blind. This outstanding organization, located in San Rafael, CA, and Boring, OR, offers a lifetime of support to visually impaired people. In their own words...

"We are a passionate community that serves the visually impaired. With exceptional client GuideDogs2services and a robust network of trainers, puppy raisers, donors and volunteers, we prepare highly qualified guide dogs to serve and empower individuals who are blind or have low vision. All of our services are provided free of charge; we receive no government funding."

Here is a link to their humorous guide to Blindness Etiquette video...I smiled, laughed and learned.

The photo of the woman and her dog is courtesy of Guide Dogs for the Blind

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CinderellaRackham"She was made to work like a slave from morning to night. She had to get up at daybreak, carry water from the well, clean the fireplace and the fires, cook all the food and wash all the dishes. But that wasn't all, because the sisters did everything they could to make things worse for the poor girl...And when she was done at the end of the day, could she look forward to a comfortable bed? Not a bit of it. She had to sleep on the hearth, in among the ashes and the cinders..."

Cinderella - from Philip Pullman's Fairy Tales from the Brothers Grimm

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A Dog's Life, Outside and Inside

Anna Nirva,in her Sunbear Squad blog, discusses how dogs are
Sunbearsquad-logosocial animals who are happier, and usually healthier, when they live inside. There, they can be part of a pack (people are also members of their pack). Often, however, dog owners choose to keep their dogs outside and this can necessitate -- if humane conditions are to prevail -- the need for a proper doghouse. Here is a brief excerpt: 

"If you must keep your dog outdoors, construct an excellent dog house and kennel based on considerations of your dog’s breed, age, 5 Doghead 7-1.457 by 1.68 inches
health status, your climate and environment, and safety and health features. Schedule daily activities so that your dog doesn’t become depressed or frustrated, leading to difficult behaviors. Never chain your dog..."
 

Anna offers detailed, comprehensive, information and considerations ranging from the dog's physical limitations and the local environment to design features that will help the dog to stay safe and healthy. Here is a link to read it all: the Humane Dog House. 

The illustration by Stella Mustanoja-McCarty is from Snow Valley Heroes, A Christmas Tale.

................................

A man may smile and bid you hail
Yet wish you to the devil;
But when a good dog wags his tail,
You know he's on the level.
--Author unknown

.................................

 

 

 

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23. Designing My Children's Library Mural:


On Friday afternoon, I emailed my mural design to Wakefield Libraries - hurrah! It's looking really fun, as the children's drawings were even better this time around. This is a section from the middle:


The drawings weren't all finished and some were a bit wishy-washy, but I found it rather soothing, spending a whole day touching them up, colouring-in with my big tin of Derwent pencils. Then John helped me out by scanning everything (just low-res for now).

I abandoned my original plan of designing it in 3 sections: I needed to see the whole thing as one, with all 4 walls strung together into a long, thin template. I used the plans I drew a couple of weeks ago. 

With over 100 drawings, it was hard to know where to begin. I had calm, library-like details as well as crazy, tiger-infested ones. This gave me the idea for the layout: the tigers could be bursting in from one end, so the other end would still be normal, for contrast. This is the far left, the calm end (with just the odd hint of tiger-trouble): 


I established a horizon line early on, to stop things floating, and started to import the drawings, creating little groups and gradually building it up. It didn't look enough like a jungle though, so I introduced big fern-like shapes and tree-covered hills in the distance. Here are the first 2 stages:


I did my best to include everyone's work, though it got fuller and fuller! I did have to admit defeat before I fitted in every drawing, but I squeezed the vast majority in there. This is the tiger end, with my tiger from Open Wide, starting things off:


As with the first mural, in Wakefield Central Library, I was asked if I could pop some of my own characters in amongst the children's. There are quite a few dotted through this one. 

Here is the section which joins onto the one above, as the tigers work their way into the library. My little trio of bats-in-hats are from When You're Not Looking! of course. I love some of the detailed and surreal shelving systems the children devised:


I hope you are impressed at how I managed to shoe-horn the Romans in. This was a requirement, because Castleford is an important archaeological site. In the end, it was a fun addition to have them bursting from the history shelves:


It was such a massive job that I had to spend all week glued to the computer, working it all out, but it was good fun and John had to virtually drag me from my chair at about 7 o'clock each evening.

I haven't yet included Henry Moore (Castleford was his place of birth), for want of a copyright-free image, but my idea was to add a hill in the background, with one of his massive sculptures on it. If necessary, I have a couple of sketchbook paintings I have done at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park.

Here's the whole thing. It should enlarge to a size you can see properly:


Cross-fingers that they like it, after all that work! I'll let you know.

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24. when?! (rapidly, scrappily drawn in despair and frustration)

when oh when


Filed under: love

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25. Talking to the Henry Moore Foundation


Great news - Wakefield Library Service love the mural design, so it's full steam ahead. 

While I was away during the first half of this week, working with under-graduates at Bishop's Grosseteste Uni in Lincoln, John was helping out back home, scanning all the children's work again, this time at high res. It is extremely boring to have to scan everything twice, but I didn't know until now which images were going to be used and at what size; the original drawings have been re-sized a lot, to make them fit together within the design.


I also decided to try and fit a Henry Moore sculpture into the design, because of his Castleford history. It makes for a good discussion point for school groups coming into the library. As I mentioned previously, using someone else's photo would raise copyright issues. I have various sketches of Moore's sculptures, but the one above, from a visit to the Yorkshire Sculpture Park is the only one in full colour. We still had to run it by the Henry Moore Foundation though, to get their blessing. Luckily, they love it and so have now been added to the invite list for the Grand Opening.


It was no mean feat trying to find a spot for Henry, but in the end I moved a bush-baby out of one of the trees (above), to create a space on a column between two bookshelves. I also popped a tiny owl (I think that's what it is) on top, which really helped to make the sculpture 'belong':


It's a bit surreal, but well, it's not as if the rest isn't! I did like the bush-baby though, so I rejigged things in another section, to make room for him in a new location. It's a nightmare though, because each thing you move has a knock-on effect. Spot the differences:


My next job is trying to find a way to work with the high res scans in Photoshop. I am working at 25% of the real size and divided the design into 6 sections, but the base layer of each section was still coming up at 470MB - still too big to be practical. So I am also having to work on just the upper part first, adding the below-bookshelf-height elements at the end.

It's still going to be a bit of an ordeal for the computer and I will have to 'flatten' the artwork as I introduce each new element, as floating layers make a file enormous and my poor computer is likely to throw in the towel if I am not extremely careful. 'Saving' really often seems like I good idea!

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