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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: harry potter, Most Recent at Top [Help]
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1. J.K. Rowling Pens 500-Word Piece on Minor ‘Harry Potter’ Character Celestina Warbeck

J.K. Rowling has written a 500-word piece about Celestina Warbeck, a character nicknamed the “singing sorceress” in the Harry Potter books. Rowling has called Celestina “one of my favorite ‘off-stage’ characters in the whole series.”

Fans will find this new content on pottermore.com. In addition to the essay, Pottermore visitors will also have access to one of Celestina’s tracks, “You Stole My Cauldron But You Can’t Have My Heart.” This project marks the first time a song has been posted on the website.

Here’s more from the press release: “Celestina is referenced in three of the Harry Potter books.  The first mention is in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (Book 2) when Harry hears her name on the Wizarding Wireless Network (wizard radio) while visiting the Weasley home.  She’s referenced again in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (Book 6) when she appears on a wizarding radio Christmas broadcast and once more in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Book 7).”

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2. J.K. Rowling Writes Letter to Shooting Survivor

Last month, Texas teen Cassidy Stay witnessed her entire family die in a violent shooting. At the funeral, she quoted Harry Potter as a source of solace. “Happiness can be found even in the darkest times if one only remembers to turn on the light,” she read.

Author J.K. Rowling has responded to this act by writing the teenager a letter in purple ink from the voice of Dumbledore.

The Telegraph has more:

A spokesman for the 49-year-old author said: “We can confirm that JK Rowling was in touch with Cassidy Stay, however, the contents of the letter remain private.”

Asked whether a meeting between the two is on the cards, she added: “We wouldn’t comment on that but [Cassidy’s] is a remarkable story.”

 

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3. YouTuber Creates ‘Harry Potter’ & ‘Scott Pilgrim’ Mash-Up Trailer

What happens when you cross Harry Potter with Scott Pilgrim vs. The World?

The comedian behind “The Unusual Suspect” YouTube channel tried to answer this question with his “Harry Potter vs. The World” mash-up trailer. The video embedded above features scenes from all eight Harry Potter films.

Thus far, the video has drawn more than 607,000 views. Two days ago, The Unusual Suspect announced on his Facebook page that filmmaker Edgar Wright (the Scott Pilgrim movie director) complimented this project. What do you think? (via io9)

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4. Fusenews: This. That. Those. (A Trilogy)

  • NDWilsonVid1 300x167 Fusenews: This. That. Those. (A Trilogy)As per usual there are some Wild Things links I’d love to share today.  Lemme see here . . . Well we got a real stunner of a review over at Chapter 16.  That’s some good and gorgeous stuff going down there. Phil Nel called us “Punchy, lively, and carefully researched.”   The blog The Boy Reader gave us some serious love.  And today on our blog tour we’re at There’s a Book.  And then there’s the video at the Wild Things blog.  N.D. Wilson sent us a vid of the true behind-the-scenes story of Boys of Blur.  It’s kicking off our video series “Wild Things: Sneaky Peeks” where authors reveal the stories behind their books.

Aw heck.  I’ll save you some time.  Here’s the video.  This guy is amazing:

Don’t forget to keep checking back on the site for a new author a day!

  • It’s one thing to notice a trend.  It’s another entirely to pick up on it, catalog the books that represent it, and post accordingly.  I’d noticed in a vague disjointed way that there was a definite uptick in the number of picture books illustrated with photographs this year.  Trust Travis Jonker to systematically go through and find every last livin’ lovin’ one in his The State of Photography Illustration in 2014 post.  In his comment section I’ve added a couple others I’ve seen.  Be sure to do the same!
  • Since I don’t have school age kids yet I’m not in the school loop at the moment.  So it was a BIG shock to me to see the child of a friend of mine having her First Day of Kindergarten picture taken this week.  Really?  In early August?  With that in mind, this may seem a bit late but I care not.  The melodic cadences of Jonathan Auxier can be heard here recommending truly fantastic summer children’s book fare.  The man has fine fabulous taste.
  • In other summer news I was pleased as punch to read about the Y’s Summer Learning Loss Prevention Program.  You know summer slide?  Well it’s good to see someone doing something about it.  Check out the info.  Check out the stats.  Check out the folks trying to combat it.
  • It’s interesting to read the recent PW article Middle Grade and YA: Where to Draw the Line? which takes the issue from a bookseller P.O.V.  Naturally librarians have been struggling with this issue for years.  I even conducted a panel at NYPL a couple years ago called Middle Grade Fiction: Surviving the YA Onslaught in which MG authors Rebecca Stead, N.D. Wilson (he’s everywhere!), Jeanne Birdsall, and Adam Gidwitz discussed the industry’s attempts to brand them as YA (you can hear the full incredibly painful and scratchy audio of the talk here).  It’s a hot topic.
  • This.  This this this this this.  By the way, and completely off-topic, how long until someone writes a YA novel called “This”?  The sequel could be named “That”.  You’re welcome, publishing industry.
  • Harry Potter fan art is near and dear to my heart but in a pinch I’m happy to consider Harry Potter official cover art as well.  They just released the new British covers (and high bloody time, sayeth the masses).  They’re rather fabulous, with the sole flaw of never aging Harry.  What poor kid wants to look the same age at 10 as he does at 17?  Maybe it’s a wizard thing.  Here’s one of the new jackets to chew on:

HalfBloodPrinceBrit Fusenews: This. That. Those. (A Trilogy)

That might be my favorite Dumbledore to date.

  • There are whole generations of children’s librarians that went through graduate school reading and learning about educator Kay E. Vandergrift.  I was one of them, so I was quite sad to read of her recent passing.  The PW obit for her is excellent, particularly the part that reads, “Vandergrift was one of the first professors to establish a significant Web presence, spearheading the use of the Internet as a teaching tool. Her website, a self-declared ‘means of sharing ideas and information with all those interested in literature for children and young adults,’ was considered an important resource for those working with children and linked to more than 500 other sites.”  If you need to know your online children’s literary history, the story isn’t complete without Kay.  I always hoped she’d get around to including a blog section, but what she had was impressive in its own right.  Go take a gander.
  • I don’t consider myself a chump but there are times when even I get so blinded by a seemingly odd fact on the internet that I eschew common sense and believe it to be correct.  Case in point: The Detroit Tigers Dugout Librarian. Oh, how I wanted this to be true.  Born in Kalamazoo, a town equidistant between Detroit and Chicago, my baseball loyalties have always been torn between the Tigers and the Cubs (clearly I love lost causes).  So the idea of the Tigers having their own librarian . . . well, can you blame me for wanting to believe?  I WANNA BEE-LIEVE!
  • I’ve a new pet peeve.  Wanna hear it?  Of course you do!  I just get a bit peeved when popular sites create these lists of children’s books and do absolutely no research whatsoever so that every book mentioned is something they themselves read as children.  That’s why it’s notable when you see something like the remarkable Buzzfeed list 25 Contemporary Picture Books to Help Parents, Teachers, and Kids Talk About Diversity.  They don’t lie!  There are September 2014 releases here as well as a couple things that are at least 10 years old.  It’s a nice mix, really, and a great selection of books.  Thanks to Alexandria LaFaye for the link.
  • So they’re called iPhone wallpapers?  I never knew that.  Neil Gaiman’s made a score of them based on his children’s books.
  • Daily Image:

Maybe it’s just me but after seeing the literary benches cropping up in England I can’t help but think they make a LOT of sense.  More so than painting a statue of a cow or a Peanuts character (can you tell I lived in Minneapolis once?).  Here are two beautiful examples:

Wind the in the Willows

WindWillowsBench Fusenews: This. That. Those. (A Trilogy)

Alice Through the Looking Glass

AliceWonderlandBench Fusenews: This. That. Those. (A Trilogy)

Thanks to Stephanie Whelan for the link!

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2 Comments on Fusenews: This. That. Those. (A Trilogy), last added: 8/6/2014
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5. Happy birthday, Harry!

harry birthday cake Happy birthday, Harry! Happy birthday to one of kidlit’s most beloved and backlashed big-name characters, Harry Potter! (He’d be thirty-four this year. Holy hippogriff.)

The Horn Book has had a lot to say — good, bad, and damn, these books are long — about The Boy Who Lived over the years. Here’s a roundup of reviews, articles, and blog posts about the series, including Roger Sutton’s breakdown of how it’s changed publishing.

 

Book reviews

Movie reviews

Editorials

mj12 Happy birthday, Harry!Articles

Blog posts

Recommended read-alikes list

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6. Harry Potter read-alikes

These titles — all recommended by The Horn Book Magazine — offer a mix of magic, adventure, humor, and suspense that will enchant Harry Potter fans.

duane so you want to be a wizard Harry Potter read alikesSo You Want to Be a Wizard by Diane Duane [Young Wizards series] (Delacorte, 1983; reissued by Harcourt, 2003)
A splendid, unusual fantasy tells of the efforts of two young wizards, Nita and Kit, to keep the world from being overcome by the Prince of Darkness. This twentieth-anniversary edition of the first book in the series contains a new afterword and a short story about Nita and Kit, originally published in Jane Yolen’s anthology Dragons and Dreams.

jones charmed life Harry Potter read alikesCharmed Life, The Magicians of Caprona, Witch Week, The Lives of Christopher Chant, Mixed Magics: Four Tales of Chrestomanci, Conrad’s Fate, and The Pinhoe Egg by Diana Wynne Jones [The Chrestomanci Chronicles] (reissued by Greenwillow, 2001)
This series is linked by the character Chrestomanci, a magician with nine lives, whose charge is to maintain the balance of magic among parallel universes.

jones merlin conspiracy Harry Potter read alikesThe Merlin Conspiracy by Diana Wynne Jones (Greenwillow, 2003)
The story is narrated in alternating chapters by Roddy (a girl) and Nick. Roddy and a friend summon Nick, an unknown helper, when they discover that the Merlin (in charge of magic) has been murdered. Writing on an epic scale, the author deftly creates a fully realized fantasy universe with a series of worlds that resemble one another and our own but with distinct differences. This is a vastly absorbing story of good battling evil.

nix sabriel Harry Potter read alikesSabriel by Garth Nix (HarperCollins, 1995)
A compelling fantasy has for a heroine Sabriel, the daughter of the necromancer whose duty it is to protect the Old Kingdom: unlike other mages, he has the power to bind the dead as well as bring the dead back to life. The story is remarkable for the level of originality of the fantastic elements and for the subtle presentation, which leaves readers to explore for themselves the complex structure and significance of the magical elements. The story continues in sequels Lirael: Daughter of the Clayr and Abhorsen; a prequel, Clariel, will be published in October 2014.

prineas magic thief Harry Potter read alikesThe Magic Thief written by Sarah Prineas; illus. by Antonio Javier Caparo (HarperCollins, 2008)
Precocious pickpocket Conn becomes an apprentice to Nevery Flinglas, a wizard trying to stem the loss of magic from the city. Readers will find the familiar character types and straightforward plotting of this amiable tale (akin to that of another well-known boy wizard) easy to grasp, while the evolving conflicts and distinctive setting will draw them on.

rutkoski cabinet of wonders Harry Potter read alikesThe Cabinet of Wonders by Marie Rutkoski [Kronos Chronicles series] (Farrar, 2008)
Petra Kronos’s father has magical abilities to construct creatures out of tin and to make a wondrous weather-controlling clock. When the prince of Bohemia blinds Kronos, cutting out his eyes and magicking them for his own use, Petra resolves to steal them back from the prince’s Cabinet of Wonders. Rutkoski’s bucolic old-world atmosphere keeps her workmanlike plotting feeling fresh and fortuitous. The story continues in sequels The Celestial Globe and The Jewel of the Kalderash.

stephens emerald atlas Harry Potter read alikesThe Emerald Atlas by John Stephens [Books of Beginning series] (Knopf, 2011)
Siblings Kate, Michael, and Emma discover a book that transports them back fifteen years in time. Thus begins their adventure with the Atlas, one of three Books of Beginning–powerful magical volumes whose secrets brought the universe to life. This imaginative and enjoyable series starter explores the bonds of family and magic while setting up an inevitable good-versus-evil showdown. The story continues in The Fire Chronicles.

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The post Harry Potter read-alikes appeared first on The Horn Book.

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7. Harry Potter Birthday Cake Bake-Off

Harry Potter StampVote for your favorite Harry Potter birthday cake.Harry Potter Birthday Cake

Which birthday cake do you vote for as the best fan-made Harry Potter birthday cake?! Leave your vote in the Comments.

Marisa, STACKS Intern

Birthday cake image credits: Daniel Drexler, woodleywonderworks, Two Kings Confections, TipsyCake Chicago

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8. Harry Potter Book Covers Revealed

Bloomsbury Children’s Books will publish new editions of JK Rowling’s wildly successful Harry Potter books on September 1st.

Artist Jonny Duddle created the new covers for each of the seven books. In advance of the new releases, the publisher has revealed the updated covers for the new books. Check them out after the jump.

(more…)

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9. July Books of the Month

Recommend me!It’s time for Books of the Month!I asked you all what books you were reading

. Then I made a word cloud to show which titles are most popular. As he has been for some time now, Percy Jackson leads the pack in popularity, but some other titles have been steadily rising in rank over the months. (Percy had better watch his back! Dork Diaries is sneaking up there!) See for yourself:July books of the monthHarry Potter Readathon

!!!

Let’s keep this going. What books are you reading now? What books do you absolutely, positively love and think everyone in the whole wide world should read? Leave the title (or titles!) in the Comments below. I can’t wait to see what new books you recommend!

See ya,

image from kids.scholastic.com — En-Szu, STACKS Staffer

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10. Harry Potter Personality Quiz

Harry Potter illustration  by Mary GrandPre

Personality Quiz: Which Harry Potter character are you?

Have you ever wished you could go to Hogwarts after reading one of J. K. Rowling’s books?! OK. Stupid question. OF COURSE YOU HAVE! Whether you’ve read the series or watched the movies, all the characters are so relatable that there always seems to be that one character you have a lot in common with.

Which Harry Potter character are you most like? Take this quiz and find out!

  1. While working on a group project you . . .  A) tend to get wrapped up in your own work and are quick to correct others. B) are very well organized and take your responsibilities very seriously. C) are the natural leader but take everyone’s thoughts and ideas into consideration. D) hate doing the work if it doesn’t involve you totally being in charge.
  2. Your favorite subject at school is . . .  A) Arithmancy (Mathematics). B) History of Magic (History). C) Defense Against the Dark Arts (English). D) Charms and Potions (Science).
  3. You notice that someone has left a bag in the corridor so you . . . A) give it to a professor. B) bring it to the main office hoping the person who lost it will look there first. C) try to figure out whose bag it is and return it. D) take it back to your room and rummage through it.
  4. You spend your time after school . . . A) reading and studying in the library. B) supervising  a group activity or club. C) playing on your school’s Quidditch (sports) team. D) challenging your friends to duels in the schoolyard.
  5. You usually come across to others as . . . A) intelligent and goal-oriented. B) responsible and reliable. C) brave and loyal. D) overly confident.
  6. Your tragic flaw is . . . A) sometimes acting like a know-it-all. B) judging others too harshly. C) getting too absorbed in your own personal pursuits. D) being conceited.

Ready for the moment of truth? Count up your answers and find out which Harry Potter character you are!

If you answered mostly A’s:  You are Hermione Granger!

Like Hermione, you are a smart, natural born thinker. You love problem solving and learning, and you tend to get caught up in your own studies.

If you answered mostly B’s: You are Minerva McGonagall!
Like Professor McGonagall, you are very well organized and always get the job done. People come to you to help solve their problems or give them advice. You have a very strong set of morals and always try to do the right thing.

If you answered mostly C’s: You are Harry Potter!
Like Harry, you are very easy to get along with. You are a loyal friend and are very independent. People look up to you and trust you to lead the way. You learn best by doing and taking things apart to figure them out.

If you answered mostly D’s: You are Draco Malfoy!

Like Malfoy, you are quick-thinking and adaptable. You are sometimes pessimistic, but you are also strategic and usually predict how things will play out. You are intuitive and very confident in yourself and your abilities.

PS. You are invited to celebrate Harry’s birthday with us at a live readathon

on July 31. Happy birthday, Harry!

—Amanda, STACKS Intern

Harry Potter illustration by Mary GrandPré

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11. Harry Potter Name Meanings

Harry Potter illustration by Mary GrandPreHarry Potter Name MeaningsHarry’s birthday on July 31

, we’ve compiled a list of Harry Potter name meanings! Whether you’re a seasoned Harry Potter fan and honorary member of Dumbledore’s Army, or you’re just starting your first year at Hogwarts, you’ve probably noticed J. K. Rowling’s characters have some quirky names. From Hermione to Bellatrix, it turns out their names might signify more than you realize. Check out the following Harry Potter name meanings to see just how much thought went into naming our magical friends of the wizarding world.
  • Harry means “army leader.” Fitting, yes?Hermione means “well born” (Take that, Malfoy!) and “stone,” which is also appropriate considering her run-in with a certain serpent in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.Ronald means “mighty counselor.” Now that sounds like a reliable friend!Albus means “white” in Latin. Wait, what color is the headmaster’s hair?Sirius means “dog star.” You can say that again!Argus means “bright.” Perhaps she was being sarcastic here? But then again, as Hogwarts’ caretaker, Filch is always walking the halls with a lantern at night!Tom means “twin.” Ponder this one when you get to Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows! We might also consider the relationship between Harry and Tom Riddle’s wands . . . Bellatrix means “warlike.” No surprise there!Cedric means “kind and loved.” He does try to stop the other fourth-years from wearing the buttons that make fun of Harry in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire!Draco means “dragon.” He does, after all, use words like he’s spitting fire . . . Cho means “beautiful.” Plenty of Hogwarts fourth-years would agree!Alastor (a.k.a. Mad-Eye Moody) means “man’s defender.” This one, too, will be clear if you’ve read the very beginning of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows!Dolores means “sorrow.” That’s definitely what I felt when Umbridge arrived at Hogwarts!Severus means “stern” or “severe.” Okay, fair enough – the meaning of Professor Snape’s name was probably the most obvious!Sybill means “prophetess.” There couldn’t possibly be a more perfect name for the Hogwarts professor of Divination!Arthur means “strong as a bear.” That’s the head of the Weasley clan, thank you very much!Minerva means “goddess of wisdom” or “wise” – as any Gryffindor head of house should be! Add a Comment
12. Favorite Scenes from Harry Potter

Harry Potter illustration by Mary GrandPreCelebrate Harry Potter’s birthday with us all week long!live readathon/ virtual birthday party

on Thursday, July 31. Please come if you can and bring a friend. You’re TOTALLY invited!

Let’s start the week with this Writing Prompt from Skyelark Moon

on the Harry Potter Message Boards who is obviously a fan of the Harry Potter series, as you can tell from this question . . .

**Spoilers from ALL

 the books follow!**

Which scenes are your favorites from each of the Harry Potter books? Here are my answers.Skyelark Moon STACKS Profile

  1. The Philosopher’s Stone (a.k.a. The Sorcerer’s Stone)
: I have always loved the scene in Diagon Ally especially when Harry is in Ollivanders. Something about it is so . . . magical. :DThe Chamber of Secrets: The moment when Harry and Ron are figuring out the secret to the Chamber of Secrets has always been one of my favorite parts. I love mysteries, so this was a great part to me. :DThe Prisoner of Azkaban: I love the chapter “Cat, Rat, and Dog.” The Marauders are some of my favorite characters, and seeing them interact with each other is fantastic.
  • The Goblet of Fire:
  • I have always liked the section in between the first and second tasks: namely the scene where Harry opens the egg in the water. ;)The Order of the Phoenix: The Room of Requirement is one of my favorite places in Hogwarts, so naturally all of the Dumbledore’s Army parts are my favorite. :DThe Half-Blood Prince: I really like the part when Harry first uses the Half-Blood Prince’s book to brew the Draught of Living Death. :PThe Deathly Hallows: I love the ending of The Deathly Hallows, especially when they seem to be figuring out where all the Horcruxes are. As I mentioned previously, I really love mysteries, so this part was great, in my opinion. :Dreadathon on Thursday

    !

    Harry Potter illustration by Mary GrandPré

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    13. Harry Potter Theme Parks

    Harry Potter StampDiagon Alley in Florida, and the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in JapanHarry Potter movies,

    complete with all the shops and spots like the Leaky Cauldron, Gringotts, Weasley’s Wizarding Wheezes, Wiseacre’s Wizarding Equipment, Madam Malkin’s Robes for All Occasions, Florean Fortescue’s Ice Cream Parlor, and more. Guests can get their fill of Nosebleed Nougats, butterbeer ice cream, and other Diagon Alley specialties. The main attraction, of course, is the Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts ride. The other attraction is . . . THE HOGWARTS EXPRESS!

    The Hogwarts Express is actually a shuttle between 2 different theme parks inside of Universal Studios. You need a “Park-to-Park” ticket to ride the Hogwarts Express which costs $136. For $96, you can see either Diagon Alley or Hogsmeade (but not both).

    This Diagon Alley is the first of its kind in the (Muggle) world, but the first Wizarding World of Harry Potter to open outside of the U.S. is now in Osaka, Japan. It opened on July 14th and it is almost identical to the original one in Florida. Tom Felton

    (who played Draco Malfoy in the movies) and Evanna Lynch (who played Luna Lovegood in the movies) greeted fans on opening night and led lucky visitors into the new park the following morning!
    Wiseacre's Wizarding Equipment shop

    Universal Studios Japan

    Another Wizarding World is set to open at Universal Studios Hollywood in California in 2016.

    So much Harry Potter

    coming to life! It’s so exciting . . . and also kind of overwhelming. What do YOU think? Would you go to Diagon Alley? What other parts of Harry Potter’s world would you like to see made real for us Muggles? (Well, to be honest, Harry Potter has always felt very real to me!) Share your thoughts in the Comments below!

    En-Szu, STACKS Staffer

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    14. Watching some Harry Potter!



    Watching some Harry Potter!



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    15. Harry Potter Readathon

    Extra!Please join us for a live readathon to celebrate Harry Potter’s birthday! Harry Potter Message Board

  • How: Sign in to the Message Board at noon with your STACKS screen name. If you don’t have a screen name, it’s easy to get one – and free! Sign up now.
  • Hogwarts

    Art copyright Kazu Kibuishi

    Hope to see you at the readathon!

    Sonja, STACKS Staffer

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    16. Fantasy Who Would Win?

    Fantasy Books Festival

    Who would win in a fight between your favorite fantasy characters?

    I know what MY favorite thing about fantasy books is: fantasy books often have the most exciting, epic, earth-shattering battles. In worlds where anything is possible, magical creatures, logic-defying supernatural abilities, and even nature itself can turn any old argument into a knock-down, drag-out fight to save the universe. It’s so exciting!

    Fight scenes in fantasy books always leave me wondering what I would do if I had the abilities or strengths that the characters have. Would I try to save the world, too? Or would I go on silly adventures instead? Probably a little bit of both!

    Today’s Fantasy Books Festival post is all about special abilities. Everyone loves a good collision of fantasy universes

    , so do a little imagining yourself: who would win in a fight between these fictional characters?
    • Maleficent (from the Kingdom Keepers series) or Gandalf (from The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings series)
    • Annabeth Chase (from the Percy Jackson and the Olympians
     series) or Hermione Granger (from the Harry Potter series)?
  • Dragonet Clay (from the Wings of Fire
  •  series) or Eustace (from The Voyage of the Dawn Treader) . . . as a dragon?

    Who are your winners? Why? What are your suggestions for fantasy face-offs? Share in the Comments below! 

    Till next time,

    image from kids.scholastic.com — En-Szu, STACKS Staffer

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    17. Making words count

    I have become more than a little obsessed with word counts.

    And if you think that sounds like an incredibly boring subject for a blog, you might be right. But let's see what happens.

    http://www.booksandsuch.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/Word-count.png
    When I first began writing, one of my many fears and doubts I had was that I didn't really know how long my book should be. I didn't even know how long a chapter should be. So I did some research, and discovered that the first Harry Potter was 76, 944 words long. But then again, The Golden Compass - another literary lodestone as far as my ambition was concerned - was more like 125, 000.

    I ended up with a first draft of my first middlegrade novel which was over 100,00 words long, which as my agent rightly said was also too long for my intended readership. The Deathly Hallows, the last Harry Potter, is about 198,000 words long which just goes to show what happens when you're too successful to take notes. Sorry, I mean, which just goes to show how there is no limit to a child's reading stamina if they really love a world and the characters.

    US kids in line to get their hands on 198,000 words of The Deathly Hallows

    (And truly, of course there is no "right" length to a book. Some of the most perfect middlegrade books - A Monster Calls, Once, Holes - are all much shorter than any of those. I would broadly say that any book which verges on fantasy and involves substantial world creation, is going to always be on the longer side because part of the pleasure comes from luxuriating in the rich, embroidered nature of the imaginary universe conjured up. The story is the length of the story you need to tell. But it's always useful to have some kind of bench mark to work towards in your head, I reckon.)

    Either way, I was no J K Rowling, and cutting 100,000 words down to the ultimate 67,000 words my first book was published as became something of a laborious task. Because word counts have real implications for storytelling. For every bit you hack out, you still need to compress or explain elsewhere, so word counts never strictly go down or up, they fluctuate, like a water table.

    Which meant that when it came to my sequel, which I had less than a year to write, I was determined not to so massively overwrite the first draft, to avoid the later pain. Luckily, along the way, I discovered this marvellous software called Scrivener, which I'm sure some of you are aware of.  Some love, some are baffled, I'm certainly not here to evangelise, but there are two very useful word count features it has over MS Word.

    The first is this. You divide your chapters up into your separate text files, which apart from being very easy to manage, means you can keep a constant check on your word count as you go along, like so. The word count appears automatically at the bottom of each part or chapter, and you can make a note in what Scrivener calls the 'binder' - basically a long column to the left of your writing window:








    And I find this more than helpful. Patrick Ness (who has some great tips on writing and chapter length here ) said he decided each chapter of The Knife of Never Letting Go had to be pretty much 2500 words for reasons of rhythm. That gets to the heart of why I find word counts so important. There isn't always time to endlessly re-read and edit when you're drafting, and many feel that's counter productive anyhow. So word counts are an incredibly useful, visual shorthand for seeing if any part of your story is really out of balance. Like Ness, my view with these current books I'm writing is that if I can't tell the chapter's story in around 2000 words, it's too long. And generally - if it's way under 1500, I'm probably not there yet.

    There's one last reason I find word counts useful, and that's for the daily routine. Graham Greene famously wrote 400 words a day, always only 400, even if that meant finishing mid-sentence. He rarely revised, wrote over 25 books and was a genius. Others I know like to binge-write - anything from 2000-5000 words a day, although that could be hard to sustain.

    Which brings me to the second really handy feature of Scrivener. The daily word target. You type in your submission deadline, the target length of your book, and set various options like whether you write at weekends or not and this handy pop up window tells you - every day - what you need to write. Here's mine for Book 3 today.







    It may sound horribly automated and soulless to some, but trust me, as that bottom progress bar begins at red and proceeds to green, nothing can be more motivating. The counter includes negatives, so if you delete loads of stuff, it increases accordingly. The truth, for me at least, is that in the wide empty sea writing a book can be - no end in sight, following a chart that keeps being affected by so many variables, feeling alone - just hitting my daily word target is an incredibly easy way to stay focused and motivated. Even on the dark days, when the ideas refuse to flow, if I can just get to my words, I feel I've achieved something. Even the greatest task feels manageable broken down into small chunks.

    Speaking of which, I had better get on it...

    *This blog is about 1000 words long, and the ideal average blog is considered to be about 500 words, so too long. I always overwrite. Which is why I'm not much good at Twitter. Sorry.

    *My second book was longer than my first, and the third will be longer again. No matter how hard I try! Does anyone else have this problem?

    Piers Torday
    @PiersTorday
    www.pierstorday.co.uk






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    18. Fusenews: Because nothing says “birthday” like Barbarsol

    First and foremost, hello.  How are you?  Are you having a nice day?  So nice to see you here, but before we go any further I must tell you that you very much need to leave me.  Just for a little while.  As you may have heard, my book with Jules Danielson and Peter Sieruta, Wild Things: Acts of Mischief in Children’s Literature, is coming out August 5th.  To prepare, Jules and I have created a blog that posts a story a day that got cut from our final book.  Here’s what you may have missed so far:

    Bunny 300x191 Fusenews: Because nothing says “birthday” like Barbarsol- A story about the greatest ALA Conference photo of all time.
    - A tale of all the various authors and illustrators who have gotten advice from Maurice Sendak over the years.
    - Advice on why you should never invite Hans Christian Andersen to stay the night.
    - A tribute to everybody’s favorite Wicked Angel.
    - Two rough broads / Newbery and Caldecott winners.
    - A tribute to the fantastic Nancy Garden.

    That said, here’s all the other news what wuz.

    • All the world is ah-buzz with the information that J.K. Rowling just released on Pottermore.  Rita Skeeter is still reporting (so no, there is no justice in the universe) and she has the scoop on 34-year-old Harry today, as well as his buddies.  For my part, I’m just socked that I’m only two years older than Harry.  Makes my crush on Snape that much more creepy, I guess.
    • One of my favorite blogs, Pop Goes the Page by the Cotsen Children’s Library, is turning one!  Best of all, if you send them your artistic birthday well-wishes, the selected winner will receive a $150 online shopping spree at Discount School Supply.  Not half bad!  Go do that thing.
    • Credit Martha Parravano for creating a quite incisive interpretation of the Caldecott winners and near misses of 2013.  Lots to chew on, even if you don’t always agree.
    • There were many reasons to attend this last ALA Conference in Vegas.  But three in particular are standing out for me today.  Reason #1: I could have seen Mo Willems and Daniel Handler sharing a stage at the same time.  THAT would be an event well worth witnessing.  Can I get a witness who was there?.  Reason #2: Starr LaTronica’s Shoes.
    StarrShoes Fusenews: Because nothing says “birthday” like Barbarsol

    Need I say more?

    Reason #3: This blog got a little shout out in Brian Floca’s Caldecott speech.  See if you can spot where it is (hint: it’s not by name).

    • Anywho, I wasn’t able to attend that conference because of my pregnancy.  I also wasn’t able to attend this conference: The Second Annual 21st Century Nonfiction Conference.  Doggone it.  Held in lovely New Paltz, NY, I was pleased at least to see that my co-worker Amie Wright kicked butt and took names.  You can read a great write-up of the event here.
    • I know you have a lot going on today, but if you enjoyed watching Faerie Tale Theater with Shelley Duvall back in the day then maybe you’ll appreciate this catchy little ditty made out of all the times the charming host said, “Hello, I’m Shelley Duvall.”  I don’t do ringtones but if I had to choose one . . .
    • I can still remember it like it was yesterday.  Way back in 1992 I listened to a librarian read Sukey and the Mermaid by Robert D. San Souci (illustrated by Brian Pinkney) to a group of kids.  It was remarkable at the time, not just because it featured a black mermaid, but because it featured a mermaid at all.  I don’t know if you read my recent review of The Mermaid and the Shoe, but mermaid picture books aren’t exactly prevalent.  Well over at Latin@s in Kid Lit, Cindy L. Rodriguez has written the post Diversity Needed Under the Sea: Not All Mermaids Have Blond Hair and Blue Eyes.  Their focus is mostly YA, but it’s interesting to note that aside from Sukey, picture book mermaids of color are few and far between.  Fairies of color have it even worse.
    • Get out your fightin’ gloves.  SLJ has just launched the Up for Debate series.  Them’s fighting words (literally).
    • Daily Image:

    Trying to figure out how we could pull this off in the States.  Over in Britain the Story Museum hired a photographer for its 26 Characters exhibition.  His mission?  To photograph famous authors as their favorite literary characters.  The image of Neil Gaiman as Badger from Wind in the Willows circulated a couple months ago.  Now more pics have been revealed and they are lovely.  Here are two . .

    Philip Pullman as Long John Silver

    PullmanSilver Fusenews: Because nothing says “birthday” like Barbarsol

    Michael Morpurgo as Magwitch from Great Expectations

    MorpurgoMagwitch 500x394 Fusenews: Because nothing says “birthday” like Barbarsol

    Naturally I’m trying to figure out how we could do this here.  The Eric Carle Museum could host the images (we’d have a brief debate over whether or not photography is technically “illustration” and then decide ultimately that it was).  Or maybe the Rich Michelson Gallery could do it.  Then it’s a question of finding a photographer and picking the authors.  As for the costumes and make-up, Britain utilized The Royal Shakespeare Company.  Can’t really top that but it would be nice to get professionals involved. Pondering, pondering, pondering . . .

    share save 171 16 Fusenews: Because nothing says “birthday” like Barbarsol

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    19. Alfonso Cuarón May Direct ‘Fantastic Beasts & Where to Find Them’

    Rumors have been circulating that Oscar-winning filmmaker Alfonso Cuarón may helm the first Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them movie. Back in 2004, Cuarón (pictured, via) served as the director for Harry Potter & the Prisoner of Azkaban. In past interviewsHarry Potter series author J.K. Rowling praised Cuarón's work on that film adaptation. Last February, Cuarón sat for a Reddit AMA session. One participant asked if he would ever take on another "fantasy film like Harry Potter" and he answered: "I only did the one because it was such a great experience I was afraid I would overstay my welcome. And I also felt that I had given what I could to that universe." Does this mean that Cuarón won't make a return to the Wizarding World? Who would you choose as the director?

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    20. Star Wars Stuff

    Well, Episdoe VII is officially under way. Principal cast has been announced and shooting has started. As a life-long fan, I have much confidence in JJ. Contrary to many, I totally enjoyed what he did with Star Trek and thought Into Darkness was better than his first one. To me, it seems Mr. Abrams is a fan first and a businessman second. I hope that he makes my beloved universe his own, acknowledges the fans and makes something not only for kids, but also those of us who never really grew up.

    Star Wars Weekends 2007

    I have my hopes for what I would like to see in the new trilogy; characters like Mara Jade and events like the death of Chewbacca. Don't get me wrong - I don't want to see Chewbacca die. Jar Jar heads that list. Chewbacca's death was an epic moment and a great sacrifice. He swore a life-debt to Han and it should be a necessary moment, even if it does not occur as it did in the Expanded Universe novel.

    The cast consists of a young group of relative unknowns. Sound familiar? Still, there is one Harry Potter alum, two from Coen Bros and one that endured Attack the Block. One of the biggest treats for me is to see Max Von Sydow join the ranks of Alec Guinness, Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee. In case you are not familiar with this legendary actor, he starred in the classic Strange Brew.

    I could rant about how great the original trilogy was, everything wrong with the prequels and what they musn't ruin in the new movies. I won't do that. We all have our own opinions and own hopes. Isn't that what Star Wars is really about...hope? It is adventure, humor, mystery, love and good conquering evil. On top of all that, it gives us hope...hope that there is something bigger, greater out there - something that binds the universe together. It gives us hope that we can revisit our childhood and remember the things that made us happy.

    Star Wars remains one of the earliest inspirations for my own writing. The Hero's Journey is a universal map that applies to my first novel, The Fourth Queen. I even tried my hand at some SW Fan Fiction (which might end up on this blog some day).


    "They're for sale, if you want them."

    As I continue my training in the Jedi way, I find that I can part with material things. To that end, I have created a Facebook album featuring over 300 figures collected since 1995. Feel free to make me an offer on any or all of them.



    As always, thank you for reading my blog. 
    Please be sure to visit me on FB: www.FB.com/MarkMillerAuthor




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    21. Has Harry Potter Changed Your Life?

    Harry Potter stamp

    Writing Prompt: How Harry Potter Has Changed YOU

    Hi! Everyone remembers the first time he or she opened a Harry Potter book and started reading. Think back to the time before Harry Potter was in your life and tell us how reading the books has changed you as a person, changed how you look at certain things, and changed your perspective on life in general.

    Firstly, Hermione became my alter-ego and I became a self-motivated, straight-A student. Now I just do my absolute best with everything because she makes it cool to be a nerd. I became more responsible because of Hermione.

    Seeing how Harry suffered at the Dursleys’ house made me put my stupid, little problems in perspective.

    Seeing how coolly weird Luna is made me accept myself as an individual, if you know what I mean. Like, before, I was obsessed with conforming and being popular, and Luna made me step back and realize that there’s only one of me. And my friendships have actually improved since then.

    Harry showed me that you need to believe in yourself and know who your true friends are even when everyone hates you. – EarlyElf6

    I must thank Luna the most. Without her, I would probably have always kept my quirky weirdness to myself. To me, HP has been a lot more than words on paper. It has been a life-changing, motivating, roller coaster ride of a story and I absolutely adore it. – Popcorn3Penguin

    Leave a Comment and tell us: How has reading Harry Potter changed YOUR life?

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    22. The Roots Perform a ‘Harry Potter’-Themed Rap Song

    Last night on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, The Roots performed a Harry Potter-themed rap.

    Throughout the song, the band made references to The Boy Who Lived, butter beer, quidditch, Diagon Alley, the Hogwarts Express, and more.

    We’ve embedded the video above for your enjoyment–have you ever composed a song about one of your favorite books? (via Defamer.com)

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    23. How Would the ‘Harry Potter’ Series Read From Draco Malfoy’s Point of View?

    @diddy_marie_ It would look a lot like this. pic.twitter.com/wPnCh0LPxP

    — J.K. Rowling (@jk_rowling) June 9, 2014

    What happened when one Harry Potter fan publicized a wish through social media? J.K. Rowling herself responded.

    Cassidy posted a message on Twitter wondering how the Harry Potter series would read from the villainous Draco Malfoy’s point-of-view. Rowling gave a snarky reply along with a screenshot from Tumblr.

    Thus far, Rowling’s tweet has attracted 9,153 “favorites” and 8,679 “retweets.” Who’s your favorite character from the Harry Potter series? (via BuzzFeed)

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    24. J.K. Rowling has written a new short story about Harry Potter–as an adult

    Harry Potter fans get excited! J. K. Rowling has written a new 1500-word short story about Harry Potter in his thirties and his friends from the perspective of gossip columnist Rita Skeeter. This is the first time J K Rowling has written about her famous characters as adults since the end of the series. If you’re a Harry Potter fan, click on the link above and go read the story. :)

    Thank you to The Bookseller for the information.

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    25. Harry Potter Reconnects With Old Pals to Watch the World Cup in New JK Rowling Piece

    JK Rowling has published a new piece starring Harry Potter for the Harry Potter fan site Pottermore.com.

    In the 1,500 word piece, which is called Dumbledore’s Army Reunites at Quidditch World Cup Final, reads as a gossip column written by the Daily Prophet’s Gossip Correspondent Rita Skeeter. In the piece, Harry hangs out with his old friends to watch the final of the Quidditch World Cup 2014.

    Here is an excerpt: “The Potter family and the rest of Dumbledore’s Army have been given accommodation in the VIP section of the campsite, which is protected by heavy charms and patrolled by Security Warlocks. Their presence has ensured large crowds along the cordoned area, all hoping for a glimpse of their heroes. At 3pm today they got their wish when, to the accompaniment of loud screams, Potter took his young sons James and Albus to visit the players’ compound, where he introduced them to Bulgarian Seeker Viktor Krum.”

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