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1. German Authors Unite Against Amazon

German-language writers have joined their English-language counterparts and organized a protest against Amazon.

More than 1,000 authors from Germany, Austria and Switzerland have come together to challenge Amazon for hurting authors in its negotiations with the Bonnier Group. In a letter addressed to readers and Amazon chief Jeff Bezos, writers have accused Amazon of not carrying popular books as a result of dispute. In addition, they claim that Amazon has manipulated recommendation lists at the expense of their books.

“We authors are of the opinion that no book seller hinder or even customers should discourage the purchase of books selling books,” reads the letter (translated in Google). “Amazon has no right,  to take ‘into jail,’ a group of authors, which is not involved in the conflict. On top of that a book seller should not inform its own clients incorrectly or hinder their purchases by artificially extended delivery times.” (Via The New York Times).

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2. Lindsay Lohan Says Memoir Will Be a Trilogy

Actress Lindsay Lohan is working on her memoir and she expects the story to be delivered as a three-part volume.

The book will be based on her journals, which she has been keeping since she was a child actor. In the book, she’ll talk about her family issue and drug problems, as well as work she has done with girls in India.

“I would never write to violate someone else or objectify them, that’s not my intention,” The Mean Girls star told MailOnline. “I like to write because it’s like therapy for me. I want to put a lot of photos and cool stuff, it will probably be like a trilogy, like Harry Potter because there’s so many.”

Lohan did not reveal if she was working with a publisher on the project. Lohan herself is the subject of two books. The Lindsay Lohan Story by Ally Croft and Lindsay Lohan: Talented and Troubled by Meredith Miller.

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3. Lauren Oliver Launches the Ghostly Goodreads Challenge

Writer Lauren Oliver has launched the Ghostly Goodreads Challenge in honor of her forthcoming novel, Rooms.

Every time ten bibliophiles add Rooms to their Goodreads shelf, Oliver tweets out a new section of an original ghost story. She will continue writing this ghost story until Ecco releases Rooms on September 23, 2014.

Thus far, Oliver has unleashed more than twenty sections of her story. Readers can follow along with the hashtag #ghostlygoodreads.

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4. X-Files Star Gillian Anderson Has Written a Sci-Fi Novel

X-Files star Gillian Anderson has teamed up with author Jeff Rovin to write her first book.

A Vision of Fire is a sci-fi novel about single mom, child psychiatrist Caitlin O’Hara whose world is turned upside down when her teen client starts speaking in tongues. Simon & Schuster is releasing the title in October, but has made an excerpt available through the Simon451 Fall 2014 Preview Sampler.

Check it out: “It was an unseasonably warm October morning, better suited for a stroll than a stride, but Ganak Pawar and his daughter maintained their usual quick pace up the East Side of Manhattan.”

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5. Remembering Lauren Bacall Through Her Writing

Beyond being one of the greatest actresses of the 20th century, Lauren Bacall was also the author of three memoirs: By Myself; Now and By Myself and Then Some.

“Writing a book is the most complete experience I’ve ever had,” she told The Los Angeles Times. “I’m happily stunned with the results and astonished by the reaction.”

“When you have nothing but dreams, that’s all you think about, all that matters, all that takes you away from humdrummery – the fact that your mother was working too hard and didn’t have enough in her own life, that your grandmother, loving though she was, wanted you to get a decent job to help your mother, that you didn’t have enough money to do anything you wanted to do, even buy a lousy coat for $17.95,” she wrote in the 1978 By Myself. “Dreams were better – that was where my hope lay – I’d hang on them, never let go.”

 

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6. From the Hearltand: Elsa Martson

Considering authors who write about African American, Latino, Arab or Muslim Americans, Native Americans in my state of Indiana has uncovered a true wealth of authors. It’s a bit funny to see such richness in this state when Indiana in YA is usually seen as the last place on earth. But, to those teens who live here, Indiana is the center of the universe. 

Elsa Martson is an Indiana writer who expands the universe of all young readers. She’s very active in the world of YA lit, whether she’s hosting a listserv chat, speaking at a local conference or writing another book that focuses on the people and cultures of the Middle East.Elsa has written over 20 children’s and young adult books including Santa The-Compassionate-Warrior-330Claus in Bahgdad And Other Stories About Teens In the Arab World and Figs and Fate: Stories About Growing Up In the Arab World Today.  Her most recent book, The Compassionate Warrior: Abd el-Kader of Algeria won the following awards. 

  • Co-winner of the 2013 Middle East Book Award for best “Youth Nonfiction”
  • Finalist for 2013 Midwest Books Award in the categories “History” and “Young Adult Non-Fiction”
  • Finalist for 2013 Foreword Review “Book of the Year” Award in the category “Young Adult Nonfiction”
  • 2014 Eric Hoffer Award, First runner-up in the “Culture” category
Later this year, she’ll release The Olive Tree. 
A story for all ages, about how an old olive tree in Lebanon caused conflict–and inspired reconciliation. Based on the author’s award-winning and much reprinted short story. With illustrations by Claire Ewart.
Let’s meet Elsa!

 

Where did you grow up?

I’m a New Englander from way, way back;  I grew up in Newton Centre, Massachusetts; and then my parents moved to a small town on the Massachusetts Dscf0689bw_web-330coast, Duxbury, just north of Plymouth.  It’s a beautiful place, with beaches, marshes, pine woods, and fascinating houses from the 17th-19th centuries.  I still feel steeped in the culture and history of  New England.  One of my current works-in- progress is set on the coast of Maine at the start of the American Revolution.

How did you end up in Indiana?

So I’m not a Hoosier at heart.  But Bloomington has been a great place to live!   I came here with my husband, Iliya Harik, who was Lebanese (I met him when we were students at the American University of Beirut).  He taught Middle East government at Indiana University for his entire career, with occasional leaves overseas. That made it possible for our family to live in such places as Cairo, Beirut, and Tunisia . . . wonderful inspiration for my writing.  But it was always nice to come home to Indiana.  (I have three sons: Ramsay, a secondary-school teacher of religious studies in Austin, Texas—and my first-line reader!  Amahl, proprietor of a fitness-training studio in Providence;  and Raif, a computer guy in Austin.  And grandchildren Savannah, starting health-care studies, and Kahlil, a 2-year-old ball of sunshine.)

What were some of the first books you found as a child that turned you into a reader?

I grew up in a book-filled home—my dad was a professor of English at Northeastern University in Boston—so becoming a reader was as natural for me as loving to climb trees. From my very young childhood I remember Barbar the Elephant, and in grade school I loved the E. Nesbit books and Mary Poppins—delightful blendings of fantasy and realism.

What three things would you like to add to a list of world treasures?

Oh my,  I’ll probably have some brilliant ideas tomorrow—but here’s what I’m thinking today.

The coast of Northern California, for the sheer beauty of its long, wide beaches, golden grass-covered slopes, redwood forests…..

Two or three piano concertos by Mozart—although I dare say he’s already on the list.

The translucent alabaster sarcophagus of Pharaoh Seti I, every inch covered with tiny hieroglyphs painted  a heavenly blue—for the beauty and sheer amazingness of the thing. (It’s in the Soanes Museum in London.)

What book(s) are you currently reading?

One I read recently that made a big impression on me was Big Fat Disaster by Beth Fehlbaum (Merit Press, 2014).  It’s about a girl in Texas, a compulsive eater, whose dad—a rising politician—has just been hit by scandal;  he abandons the family and they have to move, virtually penniless, to another small town.  So Colby has a lot to feel bad about, and she handles it by gobbling sugar.  What I especially liked  is that Colby is not particularly likable: she’s irritable, irrational.  But we always care about her and hope that eventually she’ll find the strength to become the confident, sympathetic person that’s hiding inside all that baggage. 

When did you realize that you are a writer?

My dad was a writer and a storyteller, who made up bedtime stories for my sister and me.  I think that gave me the idea that I could tell stories, too.   At the age of eight or nine, I started to write two “novels,”  one of them set in ancient Egypt.  Naturally neither got beyond the second page, but I enjoyed them while they lasted.  And discovered, many years later, that my novel The Ugly Goddess, set in a  fascinating period of ancient Egyptian history, was the realization of that very early dream! It may take 40 or 50 years to realize your dreams—but it can happen! 

 

What stories do you most enjoy telling?

I like to tell stories about young people who face challenges or troubles and somehow manage to end up in a better place.  When I started writing, wanting to use the unusual places I’d had a chance to spend time in (Cairo, Carthage, Greek Islands), I wrote rather complicated mystery/adventure stories about young Americans in those settings.  But at a conference the well-known author Avi once told me:  “I think you should write stories that move people.”  I now feel  that the stories in my collection Santa Claus in Baghdad and Other Stories About Teens in the Arab World best express what I want to do and perhaps can do best.  They still have an “exotic” element, being set in a variety of contemporary Arab societies, but my main concern is to depict young people trying to deal with the lives they were given, and make the best of it.

How did you decide to write about the Middle East and North Africa for young adults?

Since early childhood I’ve been intrigued by “other times, other places,” so I always had an international bent.   A Rotary Foundation fellowship took me to the American University of Beirut, and my marriage to the young man I met there—and the combination of his work and my own lifelong interests—led naturally to specializing in that part of the world.

But there’s another reason.  The Arab world is badly misunderstood, rejected, and disparaged in this country—even though Arab-Americans have always been exemplary as an immigrant community.  Since the founding of Israel in the Arab country of Palestine, in 1948, this prejudice has been drastically hardened by political complications, which are harmful not only to Arabs but to the interests of the U.S. and ultimately, I believe, to Israel.  I feel a mission as a writer to counter some of the ignorance and  politically motivated prejudice by presenting the people of the Arab world in ways that Americans can comprehend and relate to sympathetically.

You’ve described the whole Arab/Muslim world as invisible through use of the term “people of of color” and through their lack of representation in children’s literature.  Could you mention a few of the significant events, authors or books in children’s lit relating to books by and featuring Arab/Muslim Americans of which we should be aware?

Until the mid 1990’s there were very, very few books for young people with a positive Arab viewpoint—largely, I firmly believe, because of the prejudice mentioned above.  The door started to open with the publication of two very successful books by an already successful writer, Naomi Shihab Nye:  the novel Habibi and picture book Sitti’s Secrets, both about Palestine.  This showed publishers and writers that it was possible to produce books that give a favorable view of Arabs—without a storm of criticism.  Two other picture books published at about this time, by Florence Parry Heidi and Judith Heidi Gilliland, The Day of Ahmed’s Secret (Egypt) and Sami and the Time of the Troubles (Lebanon), were also important “door openers.” 

Since then, we’ve seen a slow but pretty steady increase in accurate, fair, and sympathetic books about Arabs, by British, American, and Israeli authors.  But very few Arab or Arab-American writers!  Although there are many Arab novelists, poets, and essayists, the idea that literature for children is an important and worthy use of literary talent has been slow to catch on.  Books for kids have been published in Arabic for years in such countries as Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine, and Kuwait; but they very rarely attract attention for translation and publication in the U.S.  I keep hoping!

I keep a list of recommended books, mostly fiction, mostly about the Arab world,  which I think is as comprehensive a list as you could find, going back to the 1970s.  I’d be happy to send it electronically to anyone who gets in touch with me  (elsa.marston@gmail.com)   Besides the ones mentioned above, here are some that I especially recommend:

Ibtisam Barakat, Tasting the Sky:  A Palestinian Childhood

Anne Laurel Carter,  The Shepherd’s Granddaughter (Palestine)

Elizabeth Laird, A Little Piece of Ground   (Palestine)

Zeina Abirached, A Game for Swallows  (Lebanon)

Alalou, Elizabeth and Ali, The Butter Man  (Morocco)

Carolyn Marsden,  The White Zone  (Iraq)

Mary Matthews,  Magid Fasts for Ramadan (Egypt)

Jeanette Winter,  The Librarian of Basra  (Iraq)

Randa Abdel-Fattah, Ten Things I Hate About Me;   Does My Head Look Big in This? (Arab-Australians)

Claire Sidhom Matze, The Stars in My Geddoh’s Sky  (Egypt, Egyptian-Americans)

Cathryn Clinton, A Stone in My Hand  (Palestine)

Maha Addasi, The White Nights of Ramadan  (Gulf States)

What does diversity mean to you?

Talking about books, I take diversity to mean inclusion of good books about the Arab/Muslim world!  But of course I would include all cultures and countries—and encouragement of good writing and storytelling, that will hold up well in translation and publication in diverse societies.  I also welcome positive attention to all sorts of human conditions.  It’s wonderful to have books that broaden our understanding and appreciation of different experience—whether social, gender, religious, occupational, or virtually any other walk of life.   

 

 

Previous Posts From the Heartland

DHARATHULA “DOLLY” HOOD MILLENDER

KEVIN WALTMAN-


Filed under: Authors, Interview Tagged: Arab, Elsa Martson, Heartland, Indiana, interview, Middle Eastern YA Literature, Muslim

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7. Surrounded by Sharks

Surrounded by Sharks

Top 5 things I learned while writing Surrounded by Sharks (for ages 12 and up)

By Michael Northrop

I’ve always been fascinated by sharks and have been a devoted viewer of Shark Week

since it first aired in 1987, but even I was surprised by some of the things I discovered when I waded into the research for my latest book.
  1. Sharks are nature’s true smelling machines. Unlike bloodhounds and the owners of the world’s other notable noses, sharks don’t breathe through their nostrils. They use them for only one thing: finding food (and, okay, the occasional mate).
  2. Sharks’ senses are all sharp, but the one they use up close is a sort of underwater spider-sense. They can detect even the tiniest electrical charges in the water, as small as five one-billionths of a volt. If a fish swims by, the shark can sense its bioelectric field, each flick of its tail and beat of its heart.
  3. In the book, Davey stays afloat with the help of a discarded water cooler bottle. About ten million tons of plastic make their way into the ocean each year. And, fictional flotation devices aside, they serve absolutely no purpose other than pollution.
  4. The cool stripes that give tiger sharks their name fade out as they reach adulthood. As with humans, it’s the young ones that have all the style!
  5. While sharks get all the attention, riptides are the real killers at the beach. Over the past ten years, rip currents have killed an estimated one hundred people annually in the US alone. That’s more than floods, tornadoes, lightning, or hurricanes. Sharks are responsible for about one fatality every two years, fewer than fireworks, roller coasters, or falling vending machines.

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8. Naomi Klein’s New Book Trailer

Author Naomi Klein, best known for the 2000 book No Logo, has a new book out about the impact of climate change on our economy called This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs the Climate.

In the book, Klein argues that climate change is “an alarm that calls us to fix an economic system that is already failing us in many ways.”

Simon & Schuster has created a trailer for the book. We have embedded the video above for you to explore further.

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9. Authors Unite in Full Page NY Times Ad Against Amazon

More than 900 authors including Stephen King, Malcolm Gladwell and Suzanne Collins have signed a letter calling readers to email Amazon chief Jeff Bezos and ask him to end the company’s dispute with Hachette.

“We call on Amazon to resolve its dispute with Hachette without further hurting authors and without blocking or otherwise delaying the sale of books to its customers,” reads the letter published under the name Authors United.

The anti-Amazon letter ran as a full page ad in The New York Times yesterday. The ad campaign was spearheaded by thriller author Douglas Preston. Here is more from the letter: (more…)

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10. Straight From the Source: Michele L. Hathaway on Writing Historical Fiction

Michele L. Hathaway has an M.A. in Social Anthropology and is a freelance editor and writer. Her stories are in various stages of emergence.

What typically comes first for you: a character? An era? A story idea? How do you proceed from there?

My stories vary tremendously, but at their core is a love of culture, past, present, and even mythical. The era and story idea come first, the characters emerge later to make the culture come alive. Sometimes the landscape is the starting point. This is the case for the Navajo stories I am writing. I spent quite a bit of time in the North American Southwest as a child and an adult, so it occupies a large swath of my inner landscape. I feel more alive here than anywhere else on the planet. Sometimes I am captivated by an entire era, such as the first 400 years A.D. of Mediterranean history, along with key historical figures from this period. Then again, I have a story idea that takes my characters around the modern day world, but the research involved with getting these cultures right is almost identical to historical research.

How do you conduct your research?

At the beginning of a project, especially one where I don’t have a large body of knowledge already in place, I’m like a child at a carnival. I careen from one amusement to another until I find myself breathless at the top of the Ferris wheel. From here I look down on the whole journey. When I get back to earth I filling in the blank spaces on a need-to-know basis.

If you are wondering what I’m talking about, here’s the general plan: I go to the library and load up on as many books as I can get my hands on. I scan these, usually finding I am attracted to some more than others. Resources that are most helpful I might buy so I can mark them up and keep them near for reference. I copy the bibliographies of the most helpful to see what inspired the author, where their research originated. I’ve found gems this way. From there I follow trails that branch further and further. If a source is mentioned by several authors, I look at that. I never stop researching, I always have a book or two going as I write. This keeps me in the story, inspires, guides, and corrects. One thing to be aware of is new research coming out. Since I began my Navajo stories, I’ve found a few new books that are gems. So check back with your library from time to time.

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Do you have a specific system for collecting data?

No unless you count the carnival method mentioned above, and the aftermath.

What kinds of sources do you use? 

I use any and all resources that apply. I use books, the Internet, travel, experts and interviews. Books may include academic, historical fiction, and picture books. Picture books should not be underestimated. They are great for researching folk tales and imprinting visual details. When I was researching for a forest fire scene, I needed the photos to help me with concrete details.

The Internet is also helpful for visual images as well as hunting down an obscure fact, like the name of the owner of the Thunderbird Trading Post in 1945—Leon Hugh “Cozy” McSparron, by the way. I couldn’t have thought up a better name. Sometimes you need to hear coyote song or the crackle of a forest fire, or see Mexicans harvesting vanilla beans, or Navajos playing string games.

If I find a book that does more than inform, but inspires, I contact the author. This has led to great help and a friendship or two. You’ll find that people who are passionate about their topic are happy to talk about it.

Finally, if I can, I travel and observe the setting of my novel first hand, be it Navajoland or Egypt—what a great excuse to travel, eh?

At what point do you feel comfortable beginning to draft? How does your research continue
once you begin writing?

An author, whose name escapes me, once said, “Write sooner than you think you can.” When I feel, not quite saturated, but too impatient to wait any longer, I begin. Usually my characters are coming alive within the history, the culture, the landscape, or the myth. I write until I find a hole in my knowledge. Then I stop and research until that hole is filled. I continue on as quickly as I can. When I find new information, I add that or rewrite if I need a course correction.
What is your favorite thing about research?

I love to learn new things, and I love to put these things into the framework of a story. Writing historical fiction allows me to be a perpetual graduate student without the exams—the book is my thesis. I haven’t graduated yet, but I can see the day, shimmering in the distance.

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What’s your least favorite thing about research?

I wonder if I have done enough, if I am missing something important. I don’t have time to read every book cover to cover, so I worry that I have missed something. Or missed the “right” book.

What’s your favorite thing about writing historical fiction?

Studying history is time travel. I am transported to places and times I can’t go to any other way. It is one of the most thrilling rides of my life.

What are some obstacles writing historical fiction brings?

I believe the most difficult thing about writing historical fiction is getting the psychology of the period right. It is easy to fall into the trap of dressing a modern American in a toga and calling him a typical Roman. Critics will jump all over that. As they should. A 1940’s Navajo girl in boarding school will not talk back to her teacher, no matter how spunky she is. A Greek-Egyptian Boy from 345 AD is probably not going to see slavery as extreme injustice. Making your story true yet accessible to modern readers is tricky. Check out Connie Willis’ Doomsday Book for a good example of grasping the psychology of medieval England. (warning—this is a devastating book, a Hugo-Nebula Award Winning, wonderful, devastating book. I love it.)

Sometimes it is helpful to read a stratified selection for research. Read writers from as many decades or centuries as you can find to help off-set bias. This is complex and yet fascinating. The reality is there is no way to see history through a pure lens. We bring ourselves, our culture, our social bias to any historical interpretation. We have to do our best here. We have to work hard, work honestly, write the truest story we can.

What’s one of the most interesting things you’ve learned while researching?

Wow! It is hard to pick one and hard to think of one, because at some point the research goes internal and becomes a part of me, transforms me. I can think of one or two things that stand out though. One is the complexity and beauty of Navajo myth and legend. We hear so much about Greek and Roman myth, but have no idea how deep and interwoven Native American literature is with history, culture, creativity, beauty. I could go on and on. Part of why I write these stories is to share this body of wonderful literature.

Has your research ever affected the overall trust of your book? How so?

My research has shown me where I have gone off track, but most often where I need more depth. I find the feedback from “experts” most helpful. Research has not caused me to have to abandon the work, rather it provides course corrections and transforms it, always transforms it, so that I am following a truer path. Not a perfect path. Not a path everyone will agree with, but a truer path. And that is the best all of us can do.

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Because life isn’t always clear cut, the motives behind our actions don’t always make sense. But stories need to follow a logical path. What sorts of decisions have you had to make about “muddy” historical figures or events in order for your book to work?

When retelling myth, there are almost always different versions of the story because it is from oral tradition. At some point, the writer of fiction has to choose one version (or even blend versions, which does not change the truth of the story, but that is another topic). For example, in Navajo legend, the Hero Twins are sometimes born of one woman, or sometimes they were born of two women but are still twins. This does not present a problem for the Navajo, but the rest of the world can’t reconcile the dissonance. To avoid confusion, I have chosen to have them both born of one woman.

If a historical figure is famous enough, there will be problems. No question. One of mine is a saint. He is revered by millions. I cannot presume to write a biography; few are qualified to attempt it. Therefore, I am writing about him through the eyes of a young protagonist. This way the story is about the boy, but I can open a window on this amazing historical figure, allow for his flaws, but not presume to offer a complete biography.

Why is historical fiction important?

Historical fiction is not only important, it is fantastically important. It is obviously important for its historical content, but there is so much more. I believe, historical fiction is a safe environment to explore modern issues. For children this is critical. Because the story is set in another time, it is not so close that it generates anxiety, but it brings up situations and issues children may have to deal with now or in the future—a sick sibling, an absent father, or even the trauma of war. All of this can provide them with tools to help them cope with their situation, help them discover who they are and who they want to become.

One day I was on a bus driving along the waterfront in Alexandria, Egypt. Two women in head scarves were sitting on the sea wall talking while their toddlers played nearby. It struck me in that moment, in that one scene as the bus sped by, that I was more like them than I was different. They were two friends, with children, having a chat. I’ve been there. They are me and I am them. I’d like others to see the world that way. That we are more alike than we are different.

 

 

The post Straight From the Source: Michele L. Hathaway on Writing Historical Fiction appeared first on Caroline Starr Rose.

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11. Ursula Le Guin & Michael Cunningham Talk Genre in New Interview

There is an arbitrary division between “literature” and “genre,” according to legendary sci-fi author Ursula Le Guin.

In a new interview with Le Guin conducted by Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Michael Cunningham, produced by Diversion Books and Electric Literature, Le Guin explores this idea.

“There are very real differences between science fiction and realistic fiction, between horror and fantasy, between romance and mystery,” she said. “Differences in writing them, in reading them, in criticizing them. Vive les différences! They’re what gives each genre its singular flavor and savor, its particular interest for the reader—and the writer.” You can read the entire interview at this link and take advantage of the half priced eBook edition of The Lathe of Heaven by Le Guin.

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12. Stephen King to Reveal New Book Cover in Facebook Game

Stephen King‘s next book Revival comes out in November. To help reveal details about the book, he is playing a little game on Facebook called #RevealREVIVAL.

Today, the new cover will slowly be revealed as squares covering the design are unlocked. You can help uncover the design and reveal more about the book by liking this page and sharing the app. When enough likes, comments and shares have taken place, the entire cover will come to life in an interactive format that gives clues about the book. Here is a quote from the bottom of the puzzle:

In one way, at least, our lives really are like movies. The main cast consists of your family and friends. The supporting cast is made up of neighbours, co-workers, teachers and daily acquaintances… But sometimes a person who fits none of these categories comes into our life… When I think of Charles Jacobs – my fifth business, my change agent, my nemesis – I can’t bear to believe his presence in my life had anything to do with fate…’

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13. From the Heartland: Dharathula “Dolly” Hood Millender

Local authors provide teens access to the landscape of local history and geography. They write about stories that include the language, hangouts and routines of local teens. They also visit schools and libraries and remind young adults that reading and writing are important and that anyone right here in this town, in this state, in Indiana of all places, can indeed become a successful writer.

I’ve recently been researching local young adult authors and I’m so amazed by the work they do that goes beyond authoring books. So many authors seem to have a tremendous level of dedication to their community of readers. Sometimes, it can be difficult to find all that they do. We read about the visit Matt de la Peña made to New Mexico to visit schools when students requested his visit after so many books there were banned. We see the letters that Nikki Grimes that shares from the relationships she’s developed with students that span (and inspire) the years. I’ve spoken with Angela Johnson and know of her service to prison communities, but you typically have to dig to find out this kind of information.

And, digging is just what I did to find out about Dharathula “Dolly” Millender. At age 94, Dolly has to be the oldest living children’s and young adult author in Indiana, if not the nation. Dolly is both woman and an African American very much ahead of her times.9780020418108

Nicholas Hood, Dolly’s grandfather, settled in Indian after he became free.

Her mother, Daisy Hood, received a teaching degree from Fisk University in the early 1900s. She was quite active in the NAACP and one of the founders of the Phyllis Wheatley Association in Terre Haute. This organization built the Phyllis Wheatley House that provided housing for African American female students at Indiana State Normal School. (The now Indiana State University.) At that time, the university did admit African American students but did not allow them to live in the dorms or eat in the dining halls.

Her father was every bit as active. Orestes Hood attended Purdue University where he completed a two-year teacher’s course of study in electricity. He taught for a while in the East Saint Louis schools before moving to Terre Haute, IN. Here, he opened the only radio shop in downtown Terre Haute at a time when radios were as important as computers are to us today. Orestes was contracted for work throughout the city for individual and corporate work. When he was hired by Purdue University to repair audio-visual equipment, Orestes became the first African American professional staff member on the campus.

Understand, please this was Indiana in the early 1900s. (Dolly wasn’t born until 1920.) Slavery ended in this country a scant 35 years prior. The Civil Rights movement had not yet begun. The Harlem Renaissance was about to start. Terre Haute was about to hustle and bustle as bootleggers were about to set up camp. Native Americans had been removed years and years before.

30% of the white male population in Indiana belonged to the Ku Klux Klan.

From 1900-1910, the population of African Americans in Indiana was about half of what it was for whites. In fact, in 1900, there were considerably fewer than 100,000 African Americans in the state and most of these settled in urban areas.

Horses were the mainstay of travel and telephones were new on the scene.

So, as I continue to recount details of Dolly’s life, we have to know there’s much that is missing. I don’t believe it came as easy to the Hoods as it seems by reading a list of their accomplishments. As we read on, try to keep in mind when and where this all happened.

Dolly was born 4 February 1920 and had seven siblings. Her parents were of that generation that wanted thimageseir children to have a better life than they themselves did and this certainly required an education. Dolly attend the then Indiana State Teacher’s College (now Indiana State University) in 1941 where she earned a bachelor’s degree in English, minoring in music and library science. Dolly lived in the Phyllis Wheatley house because colored students could not live on campus. Her brother, Orestes attended college at the same time as Dolly. He held a one man sit-in to successfully de-segregate the university’s dining facilities in the late 1930s, about 30 years before the sit-ins across the southern United States.

Dolly graduated and worked as a librarian at a junior college in South Carolina, in the Library of Congress and in severa71PD7NPSY2L._AA160_l school libraries. She eventually began working as a school librarian in Gary, Indiana until she retired in 1978. She became the official historian of Gary, a city councilwoman, a school board member and the founder and CEO of the Gary Historical Society. She also received a Master of Science degree in Educational Media from Purdue University in 1968.

Her mother had always told stories about famous Negroes, and very few were present in books. Between the stories she heard and the influence of a former teacher publishing The Child’s Story of the Negro, Dolly was able to publish Crispus Attucks, Boy of Valor as part of Bobbs-Merrill’s Childhood of Famous Americans Series. The company also approached her to write books on Martin Luther King Jr. and Louis Armstrong for the series. The Louis Armstrong millendebook was revised and republished by Simon and Schuster.

Dolly’s motto is “The joy of living is the joy of giving service to others.”

Dolly is passionate about local history. She is local history! She is listed in Who’s Who Among African Americans.

I’m not a 15 year old searching for identity but I have to say that just knowing about Dolly Millender and Kevin Waltman, I feel that much prouder of who I am and where I am. Share these stories with your teens! Dolly and Kevin’s books are still available, so pick up a copy! And, stay tuned because there are more IN YA authors who write about people of color!

 

 

References

Duncan, Hilary. Dolly Millender, ’41, Naomi Millender, 67. State Magazine. Retrieved from http://statemagazine.com/hood-legacy/

Reynolds, Crystal. The Joy of Giving Service Dharathula “Dolly” Millender. Retrieved from http://www.indstate.edu/diversity/docs/The%20Joy%20of%20Giving%20Service%20Dolly%20Hood%20Millender%20Biography.pdf

Visclosky, Peter J. 2010. Dolly Millender. Retrieved from

http://capitolwords.org/date/2010/02/02/E125-4_dolly-millender/

 

 

 

 


Filed under: Authors Tagged: Dharathula "Dolly" Hood Millender, Indiana Authors

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14. Authors Talk Summer Reading

Scholastic Summer Reading Challenge

What’s the Big Deal About Summer Reading?

You have probably heard over and over again how important it is to keep reading during the summer while you’re not in school. If you haven’t heard this before, well then let me be the first person to tell you summer reading is important, people! You SHOULD read over the summer while you’re not in school!

We asked 2 very special Scholastic authors why this is true. Gordon Korman is the author of the Swindle series

, a few books in The 39 Clues series, and, like, a million other books. He published his first book when he was 14 years old! David Shannon is the author of picture books such as Alice the Fairy, A Bad Case of Stripes, and No, David!

Q: What is the top reason kids should read over the summer?

Gordon Korman: I think reading is kind of a self-feeding cycle — the more you read, the more you WANT to read. But when I write, my goal is primarily to entertain my readers. So my top reason kids should read over the summer is for fun.

David Shannon: To keep from becoming a slug! Reading keeps your imagination running in a way that TV and video games can’t. It works out your brain but relaxes your body, and those are both good things. There’s more down time in the summer, too, and you can read whatever you want.

So there you have it. Have fun and don’t be a slug! READ! When you do, you can log your minutes and be eligible for prizes in the Scholastic Summer Reading Challenge.

 Leave a Comment to tell us why YOU love summer reading, and whether or not you agree with these authors’ advice.

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15. George R.R. Martin’s Children’s Book is Coming From Tor Books

Tor Books has plans to republish George R.R. Martin‘s children’s book The Ice Dragon.

The latest version of the story will include new artwork from Spanish fantasy artist Luis Royo.

The Telegraph has more: “Parents worried about exposing their kids to a work by the notoriously bloody Game of Thrones author needn’t panic: a brief summary of The Ice Dragon reads more like a Hans Christian Anderson tale than Martin’s traditional style. The book tells the story of a young girl, Adara. Born in the heart of winter, Adara is the only person from her village able to connect with the mysterious Ice Dragon, a legendary creature that visits only when the weather turns cold.”

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16. From the Heartland: Kevin Waltman

My recent interview with Crystal Allen got me wondering who are the Indiana authors who write about teens of color? This is an important question when you consider how many YA books are set in NYC. Teens in Indiana , or any state, benefit from stories set where they live because setting can provide one more way for young readers to relate to their reading. Stories that mention the Pacers, Fort Wayne or Turkey Run State Park not only resonates with readers, but they also let readers  know that where they live matters and indeed they must, too.

Local authors are also important for teachers and librarians. Little can emphasize the importance of reading and writing more that a visit from these experts! Don’t we all get giddy around these rock stars of words and imagination?

You’ve met Crystal and I have several others for you to meet over the next couple of weeks. While some have lived in Indiana their entire life, others passed through for a few years. “Once a Hoosier, always a Hoosier!”

These are the authors those students I used to teach in Indianapolis would just love to meet!

Kevin Waltman lived in Indiana for his childhood, high school and college years. Indiana is where Kevin developed his love of basketball, partially because, well this is Indiana! But more important, his dad was legendary college coach Royce Waltman. Kevin currently lives in Alabama. Most recently, he’s been writing the D-Bow High School Hoops Series (Cinco Puntos Press). The first book in the series, Next came out in 2013 and Slump releases in October.

Where did you grow up?

            I was born in Bedford, Pennsylvania, where I lived until I was 11. After that, I lived in Bloomington, Indiana, for five years, then in Greencastle, Indiana, where I went to high school and college (DePauw University). After college I lived briefly in Washington, D.C., before moving to Indianapolis for five years before moving down to Alabama, where I’ve lived since 2001.

Do you have any pets?

          Our dog Henry. Technically, he’s my wife Jesssica’s dog, as she adopted him before we started dating—but we’ve been together for 9 years now, so Henry feels very much like my dog, too.

What were some of the first books you found as a child that turned you into a reader?

            As a little child, I read and read, but the series of books that stand out in my memory are the Black Stallion books. I just couldn’t get enough of those. Like a lot of boys, I hit a bit of dead period in my reading in my teens, but The Catcher in the Rye got me jump-started again.

Which famous person would you most like to write a review for your book?

           Roy Hibbert or Mike Conley, Jr. They’re both NBA players with Indiana connections, and they seem genuinely interested in helping young people—my potential readers.

What book(s) are you currently in the middle of reading?

            I just started The Crying of Lot 49 by Thomas Pynchon, but I’m only a couple pages in, so it hasn’t taken over my imagination yet. Before that, I read On Such a Full Sea by Chang-Rae Lee, which is honestly one of the best books I’ve read in some time, at least since The Wind-up Bird Chronicle. And I’m also reading a tale from The Complete Sherlock Holmes in between every other book I read.

Is there much difference between life in Indiana and life in Alabama?

            Alabama’s hotter. Okay, that’s a bit of a joke, but in some ways that underscores other differences. The more rural nature of Alabamians, their relationships to the land, their penchant for comfort food—all of it seems influenced at least in part by the Southern weather. There are, certainly, other differences. Alabama, like other Southern states is more conservative, more religious, and poorer than Midwestern counterparts. However, though those traits are broadly true, the differences on those fronts don’t seem particularly pronounced when compared to Indiana.

                  Then, of course, there’s sports. I sometimes get rather quizzical looks when I tell Alabamians that I’m writing novels that focus in part on basketball, where in Indiana that is rather central to most people’s activities. Down here, it’s football first. And second. And always.

I have noticed that you teach writing at the university level. I would think teaching writing would be so difficult because there are just some things about writing that one cannot teach. What is it about teaching this skill that you enjoy?

13897446-mmmain

Click to hear a podcast interview with Kevin.

            It depends on what type of writing you’re talking about. I teach a lot of English Composition, which is really about preparing first-year students to write academic essays: how to research information and cite it; how to analyze and develop arguments; how to explore a topic as even-handedly as possible. That seems quite teachable if a student is actually earnest in wanting to learn. Creative writing is trickier, and I think that’s probably what you’re referring to here. In some ways, teaching that is largely telling students to break all the rules that they’ve been taught in English Composition. Rather than one or two accepted styles, there are endless styles. Rather than painstakingly developing “argument,” they can let go of “having a point” altogether. They can fabricate things. They can make up words. They can re-invent themselves over and over again. English Composition is like teaching students how to make a good lasagna, with a few possible variations they might try once they master the recipe. Teaching creative writing is like taking students to a kitchen and pointing out all the possible ingredients, then saying, “Have at it.”

                  In both cases, though, there are times when, as an instructor, you can actually see moments of recognition in students. You’ve maybe told them something a dozen times, but for whatever reason that final explanation clicks for them, and you immediately see a breakthrough in their writing—which also means a breakthrough in how they conceive of themselves as scholars and writers. That’s rather rewarding.

What attracted you to writing about basketball?

            My dad was a basketball coach (in order: Bedford High School head coach; assistant coach at Indiana University; then head coach at DePauw University, the University of Indianapolis, and Indiana State University). Basketball was a part of me from the get-go. Though I played poorly and quit my high school team, I always loved to play—and I was an avid pick-up player until a few years ago when I hurt my knee. But more than playing, I watched endless hours of basketball. When I was a kid, I’d get dropped off after school at the Bedford gym where my dad was running practice. As a teenager, I watched every game on ESPN every single night. I went to hundreds of my dad’s games. I went to Pacers games, to random college games, to tournament games in Indianapolis and Milwaukee and Nashville. To Final Fours in Atlanta and Denver. Alabama games. Summer league games. I once tried to estimate how much time I’ve spent watching basketball—it came out roughly to a full year of my life.

                  So, to answer your question: writing about basketball feels almost as natural as breathing.

How did you decide you wanted to write for teens?

            This is a little trickier. I don’t know if it was ever a conscious decision, as much as it was a happy accident. Sometime in 2000, I met the now-somewhat-famous-y.a.-author David Levithan, and he was busy scouting authors for a new y.a. imprint at Scholastic, where he is an editor. I sent him some material. He liked it. And that’s how my first y.a. novel, Nowhere Fast, began. I followed that up with Learning the Game for Scholastic in 2005, and then after a hiatus where I was working on other projects, I returned to y.a. for Next. It’s good to be back.

Is it difficult to maintain Kevin’s character over 3 books? In what ways does he develop?

            Well, I’m in the middle of writing the third book now. And this is the first time that I’ve ever written a series. So the tricky part has been balancing “maintaining” characters while changing them enough so that there’s real development from book to book. At the same time, I can’t totally reinvent Derrick or any other character when I start a new manuscript—they need to have some consistency. In fact, Derrick—because his basketball goals keep him so focused—has been in some ways the slowest to change. He changes all right, but his end goal stays the same, and as I work on the third book I find that other characters—Wes, Jasmine, Uncle Kid—are undergoing more radical changes around Derrick.

It sounds like there are many generational messages in the D-Bow series. What influenced you to put those relationships into your stories?

            I think there are two forces. The first is that, with sports, it’s hard to separate the player from his parentage (in whatever form that may come). One of the most touching moments in sports over the last few years was Kevin Durant’s MVP speech, particularly his words for his mother. Any player, if he’s honest with himself, owes something. For Derrick, his parents keep him grounded and disciplined, and they keep him from taking an easier—and more questionable—path. Meanwhile, Uncle Kid has been vital to his development as a player. And even if it’s not about growth as a player and a person, the way people experience sports when they’re young is often a way to share an experience with a parent: watching or going to a game together.

                  The other forces are personal. I’ve recently become a parent, and as any parent will tell you that changes everything. There is not a single idea or object in my world that hasn’t been somehow altered and made more brilliant by our daughter’s presence. Her exhilaration at her world becomes mine. So while I’m not consciously putting anything in my books about her, I’m a fool to think that anything I do is left unaffected by her. And, finally, I recently lost my father. Again, that’s not something I’ve consciously worked into the books—in fact, I revised Slump so Derrick’s father’s health problems were less similar to my own father’s. But, again, my own relationship to sports is inextricably tied to my own relationship to my father. So my dad—and my history with him—hovers like a shadow beside every sentence I write in this series.

What does diversity mean to you?

            To me, it means a goal that Americans still need to meet. I don’t mean to deny the progress America has made, not just since the pre-Civil Rights era, but since I was a kid. Most students I encounter now almost reflexively champion the benefits of diversity, though there are still exceptions. That’s great, but I think sometimes it’s lip service. That’s true of individuals who praise diversity publicly because they’re “supposed to,” but who don’t embrace any policies that might actually bring such diversity about. And it’s true of America in general, too. I live just outside of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, which was recently featured in The Atlantic in a story about how our public schools are being re-segregated. It makes sense to focus on Tuscaloosa, since it’s in the self-proclaimed “Heart of Dixie,” but the sad truth—and I don’t offer this in any way to acquit Tuscaloosa of the charges that article leveled—is that such re-segregation is happening all over the country. And that kind of segregation creates a persisting “underclass” that Americans—or at least too few of the officials we elect to office—don’t seem to care that much about, no matter how much we extol the virtues of diversity.

                  So, yes, we’ve come a long way, but I think there’s a self-satisfaction because we see “diversity” all over our televisions, or at college graduation ceremonies, or even in some board rooms. Those images, important as they are, blind us from the segregation that exists between the haves and the disproportionately minority have-nots. There’s work to be done.


Filed under: Authors, Interview Tagged: basketball, Cinco Puntos, Indiana, Kevin Waltman, series

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17. David Sedaris Has Trash Truck Named After Him

In honor of his help picking up litter in the UK, the Horsham District Council has named one of their garbage trucks after author David Sedaris.

The truck was unveiled at a ceremony on July 23rd. The vehicle has a drawing of a pig on the side of it and reads “Pig Pen Sedaris: Thanks David for helping to keep the area clean.

The West Sussex County Times has more: “District councillor for Chantry Ward, Diana van der Klugt, said: ‘David Sedaris is a familiar and very welcome sight in the lanes and by-ways of this lovely part of Horsham District, as he tirelessly and painstakingly goes about gathering up the litter so thoughtlessly discarded.’” (Via The Guardian).

 

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18. George W. Bush is Writing a Book About His Father

Former president George W. Bush is working on a book about his father George H. W. Bush.

The book has yet to be titled but is slated for a November 11, 2014 release in the U.S. and Canada by Crown Publishers. The hardcover edition’s first printing will include one million copies.

Here is more about the book from the press release: “…the book covers the entire scope of the elder President Bush’s life and career, including his service in the Pacific during World War II, his pioneering work in the Texas oil business, and his political rise as a Congressman, U.S. Representative to China and the United Nations, CIA Director, Vice President, and President.”

 

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19. I AM A WITCH’S CAT

We’re so excited to share with you I AM A WITCH’S CAT, available this week, written and illustrated by Harriet Muncaster.

I Am a Witch's Cat

We in the HCCB School & Library department are pretty huge fans of tiny things (dollhouse food, figurines, these amazing things . . . you name it), and we couldn’t be more delighted to have found a kindred spirit in Harriet Muncaster. Harriet’s book tells the story of a little girl who believes that her mother is a good witch and that she is a special witch’s cat, and it’s illustrated with photographs of handmade miniatures—characters, furniture, accessories, and details, all lovingly crafted and composed into scenes. We just love it to pieces.

Harriet was kind enough to give us a behind-the-scenes looks at her process for creating the fantastic art from I AM A WITCH’S CAT.

Harriet Muncaster:

I have always been fascinated by tiny things. When I was young I spent my time making miniature houses and clothes and writing minuscule fairy letters. That love of tiny things has never left me, and so, when I took illustration as my degree at university, it felt almost natural to start making my pictures in 3D. I create dollhouse-sized scenes (or sets, as I call them) out of cardboard and fabric and then photograph them to make a flat picture.

In these photos, you can see some of the process I go through to make the scenes. If it is a room, I usually start with a box-like shape and then put in the flooring and wallpaper. I either paint the wallpaper on or make it on the computer and stick it on as you would proper wallpaper (like in the bedroom scene below)!

Beginnings of the bedroom scene

Beginnings of the bedroom scene

 

The furniture is made from card stock. It gives me a lot of freedom to make everything from card because I can literally make it into any shape I like. I can use the card to make something really fancy or really plain and in whatever style I like.

I also like the way one can use lighting when creating a 3D picture. It is possible to really set the mood by using different sorts of atmospheric lighting. My favourite bit of lighting in the book is the scene where Witch’s Cat is saying goodbye to her Mom at the door and the coloured glass in the door is shining against the wall in a rainbow pattern. I got this effect by using coloured cellophane sweet wrappers and then shining a light behind them.

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Experimenting with some lighting filters made from coloured cellophane chocolate wrappers as seen in the hallway scene

 

The hardest thing to make in the book was the trolley in the supermarket scenes. It took me absolutely ages and was extremely difficult and fiddly to make! It’s definitely the most delicate thing in the whole book.

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The checkout scene in full, with trolley

 

One of my favourite things to make in the book was the patchwork quilt on the bed. I just love the colours in it, which are quite autumnal. I tried to incorporate a lot of autumnal colours into the room scenes, as it is a Halloween book.

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Trying the mom character for size, with close-up of patchwork quilt

 

It feels very magical when a scene becomes finished and you can look right into it and touch it. It’s a real, tiny little world of its own with its own atmosphere and feel to it. I love how tangible it is!

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Kitchen scene in the early stages

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Food boxes all ready to be put into the scene.

Thank you so much, Harriet!

Check out Harriet’s great blog for a whole lot of miniature inspiration, including a post about how she created the cover art for I AM A WITCH’S CAT. And in case you haven’t quite had your fill of tiny for the day, here are some bonus photos:

Hallway wallpaper design

Hallway wallpaper design

Design for some of the the food boxes in the shopping scene ready to be printed, cut out and folded into 3d boxes

Design for some of the the food boxes in the shopping scene ready to be printed, cut out, and folded into 3D boxes

Mom character. Checking everything is good with her position and the way she is holding the vacuum cleaner

Mom character. Checking everything is good with her position and the way she is holding the vacuum cleaner

Characters, furniture and accessories all neatly boxed up to be transported for exhibition

Characters, furniture, and accessories all neatly boxed up to be transported for exhibition

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20. International Best-Selling Author Paul McKenna on His Writing Process

Paul McKenna, the hypnotist and self-help guru from the UK, has a gift for writing best-selling nonfiction books. After an early career in radio, McKenna transitioned to TV and then to publishing. He’s written 16 nonfiction books, with provocative titles like I Can Make You Thin, which happens to be the best-selling self-help book in UK history.

In our latest So What Do You Do column, McKenna talks about the way he revolutionized nonfiction books (by putting a CD in the back, with a hypnotic trance on it) and why he’s not interested in writing an intellectual tome:

When I’m writing a book, I imagine I’m holding a copy of the book, and I start to flick through it and I get a sense of the emotional tone, or I get a sense of the pace of the book, whether it’s short chapters or long ones. The other thing I do is imagine the [reader] is sitting in front of me, and I think, ‘What do I need to tell them to help them get better?’ My readers need enough science to tell them that what they’re about to do is safe and has been practiced on other people and is a worthwhile process and then I walk them through it. And I’m not interested in writing intellectual books for other intellectuals to read. I’m interested in helping as many people as I can, in as easy and painless a way as possible.

For more from McKenna, including how he got his very first book published, read: So What Do You Do, Paul McKenna, Best-Selling Author, Hypnotist and Host of Hulu’s McKenna?

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21. Arianna Huffington: ‘In writing as in life, don’t be afraid to take risks and experiment.’

Back in 2013, The Huffington Post editor-in-chief Arianna Huffington delivered a commencement address at Smith College. This act inspired her to write a book on looking beyond the acquisition of money and power to Thrive. Check out the highlights from our interview below…

(more…)

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22. Meet Crystal Allen!

Crystal Allen writes middle grade/young YA fiction that break the mold of what we too often find in children’s literature.  I’m looking forward to reading and reviewing The Laura Line which was released in 2013.

51O8GYjCtrL._AA160_Thirteen-year-old Laura Dyson wants two things in life: to be accepted by her classmates and to be noticed by baseball star Troy Bailey. But everyone at school makes fun of her for being overweight, and Troy won’t give her a second glance. Until their seventh grade history teacher puts Laura front and center by announcing a field trip to the old run-down slave shack on her grandmother’s property. Heck to the power of no way! Her grandmother insists that it’s more than just a shack; it’s a monument to the strong women in their family — the Laura Line. Something to be proud of. But Laura knows better: if her classmates can’t accept her now, they never will once they see the shack. So she comes up with the perfect plan to get the field trip canceled. But when a careless mistake puts the shack — and the Laura Line — in jeopardy, Laura must decide what’s truly important to her. Can Laura figure out how to get what she wants at school while also honoring her family’s past?

Crystal recently agreed to the following interviewing and I have to say it’s been such a joy getting to know her! I’m sure you’ll understand why I say that as you read her interview.

crystal-allen-220

What is one of your most clear memories of being a teen?

I loved theater and drama.  I tried out for every play in middle school and high school.  My first role was the Wicked Witch of the West in The Wizard of Oz when I was in the fifth grade.  When the play was over, all of the first and second graders hated me, so I chased them all over the playground.  It was awesome.

I love the opening line on your blog: “Holy Crackers and Cream Cheese! Oh, Mylanta! You’re here!” What are your favorite snack foods?

I love to snack on almonds, fruit, Twizzlers, or Mexican food, not necessarily in that order.

Which famous person would you most like to have to write a review for your book?

Michelle Obama.

What three things would you like to add to a list of national treasures?

My definition of “national treasures” is different than what may actually qualify as a national treasure.  But, if I could add three things, it was be these three:

  1. All Senior Citizen Facilities or Nursing Homes. I believe senior citizens are our most beloved National Treasures.
  1. YMCA’s, Boys and Girls Clubs of America, and inner city recreation centers .  The importance of these alternatives for youth around the country is invaluable, and has helped deter many from taking wrong paths.
  1. The Houston Astrodome. The Astrodome may already be on the National Treasures list, however, I know there are talks of demolishing it.  The Dome has so much history, and to tear it down would certainly destroy a strong piece of Houston history.

Why would you be up at 3am?  Reflux.

What book(s) are you currently in the middle of reading?

Panic – Sharon Draper

The Sweet Dead Life – Joy Preble

(Starting soon)  The Great Greene Heist – Varian Johnson

You write fun, middle class stories with a bit of a lesson that any child can enjoy. What authors have inspired your writing?

Christopher Paul Curtis

Sharon Draper

Donna Gephart

Neal Shusterman

The Laura Line is your newest book. That title is so intriguing! Can you explain it, or will that give too

much away?

The Laura Line is about Laura Dyson, a thirteen year old, overweight girl who has dreams of being a model…or a major league baseball pitcher.  Because of her weight issues, students make fun of her to the point that Laura begins to believe that she is all of the ugly things her classmates say she is.  It’s not until Laura ventures into an old shack on her grandmother’s farm and finds a ledger filled with documents from the female ancestors in her history, (all of them named Laura)  that she begins to stand up for herself.  Now, Laura Dyson not only knows who she is, but has evidence of all the wonderful things she can become.+-+191835251_140

Could Laura and Lamar be friends?  Yes!

I love that you’re a Hoosier! (Once Hoosier, always a Hoosier!) What is it about Indiana that made you decide to set Lamar there?

I grew up in a small town in Indiana and I needed Lamar and Xavier to be small town boys.  Once I began drafting the setting, and adding basketball as Xavier’s biggest talent, it was clear to me that Indiana had to be part of the story, especially since basketball is HUGE in Indiana.

Is setting difficult for you to choose when you begin writing or does setting come right along with the character?

Detailed setting comes with my characters, especially after I understand where they plan on spending the majority of their time.

Finally, what does diversity mean to you?

To me, diversity simply means everybody.

 


Filed under: Authors Tagged: african american, Crystal Allen, interview

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23. MIDDLE-GRADE FANTASY (for the beach AND the classroom)

Looking for some recommendations for a middle grader who loves fantasy? Well, we’ve got just the list for you!

Here are some stellar picks for the kid looking for magical powers, mysterious forests, heros, and villains to take to the beach with him.

The Thickety

THE THICKETY, by J. A. White, is the start of a new fantasy series set in a world where magic is forbidden but exists in the dark woods called the Thickety. This book would be a great recommendation for fans of the Septimus Heap series, and here’s a book talk prepared by librarian, author, and Common Core workshop presenter Kathleen Odean:

How would you like to have the power to summon amazing creatures to do your will? When Kara finds a book in the Thickety, a dangerous forest, it awakens her magical powers. Local villagers view magic as evil but for Kara, it’s a connection to her mother, who was executed as a witch. The spells thrill Kara until the magic starts to change her in frightening ways. Is Kara in control of the magic—or is it in control of her? If she doesn’t figure it out soon, she could lose everyone and everything she loves.

There’s even a Common Core-aligned discussion guide with activities written by the author, J. A. White—an elementary school teacher! (You may not want to send this to the beach, though. Maybe save it for September.)

 

The Castle Behind Thorns

THE CASTLE BEHIND THORNS, by Schneider Award winner Merrie Haskell, is a magical adventure set in an enchanted castle that will appeal to fans of Gail Carson Levine, Karen Cushman, and Shannon Hale.

When Sand wakes up alone in a long-abandoned castle, he has no idea how he got there. Everything in the castle—from dishes to candles to apples—is torn in half or slashed to bits. Nothing lives here and nothing grows, except the vicious, thorny bramble that prevents Sand from leaving. To survive, Sand does what he knows best—he fires up the castle’s forge to mend what he needs to live. But the things he fixes work somehow better than they ought to. Is there magic in the mending, granted by the saints who once guarded this place? With gorgeous language and breathtaking magic, THE CASTLE BEHIND THORNS tells of the power of memory and story, forgiveness and strength, and the true gifts of craft and imagination.

Thinking ahead to the new school year, Common Core applications include: Comparing and contrasting texts in different forms or genres; determining the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including figurative and connotative meanings; and analyzing the impact of a specific word choice on meaning and tone.

The Dyerville Tales

THE DYERVILLE TALES, by M. P. Kozlowsky, tells the story of a young orphan who searches for his family and the meaning in his grandfather’s book of lost fairy tales.

Vince Elgin is an orphan, having lost his mother and father in a fire when he was young. With only a senile grandfather he barely knows to call family, Vince was interned in a group home, dreaming that his father, whose body was never found, might one day return for him. When a letter arrives telling Vince his grandfather has passed away, he is convinced that if his father is still alive, he’ll find him at the funeral. He strikes out for the small town of Dyerville carrying only one thing with him: his grandfather’s journal. The journal tells a fantastical story of witches and giants and magic, one that can’t be true. But as Vince reads on, he finds that his very real adventure may have more in common with his grandfather’s than he ever could have known.

If you’d like to bring this one into your classroom next year, Common Core applications include: Determining the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text; analyzing the impact of a specific word choice on meaning and tone; describing how a particular story’s plot unfolds in a series of episodes; and describing how the characters respond or change as the plot moves toward a resolution.

The Hero's Guide to Being an Outlaw

THE HERO’S GUIDE TO BEING AN OUTLAW, by Christopher Healy, is the hilarious and action-packed conclusion to the acclaimed hit series that began with THE HERO’S GUIDE TO SAVING YOUR KINGDOM.

Prince Liam. Prince Frederic. Prince Duncan. Prince Gustav. You think you know those guys pretty well by now, don’t you? Well, think again. Posters plastered across the thirteen kingdoms are saying that Briar Rose has been murdered—and the four Princes Charming are the prime suspects. Now they’re on the run in a desperate attempt to clear their names. Along the way, however, they discover that Briar’s murder is just one part of a nefarious plot to take control of all thirteen kingdoms—a plot that will lead to the doorstep of an eerily familiar fortress for a final showdown with an eerily familiar enemy.

And Common Core applications for this one include: Explaining how an author develops the point of view of the narrator or speaker in a text; comparing and contrasting texts in different forms or genres; and analyzing how differences in the points of view of the characters and the reader (e.g., created through the use of dramatic irony) create such effects as suspense or humor.

Happy reading!

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24. Haruki Murakami’s New Novel Excerpted on Slate

Haruki Murakami‘s new novel Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage comes out next month.

Slate has an excerpt of the RandomHouse  book, which is currently available for preorder. Check it out:

“I have a kind of weird story related to death. Something my father told me. He said it was an actual experience he had when he was in his early twenties. Just the age I am now. I’ve heard the story so many times I can remember every detail. It’s a really strange story—it’s hard even now for me to believe it actually happened— but my father isn’t the type to lie about something like that. Or the type who would concoct such a story. I’m sure you know this, but when you make up a story the details change each time you retell it. You tend to embellish things, and forget what you said before. … But my father’s story, from start to finish, was always exactly the same, each time he told it.”

 

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25. ‘Humans of New York’ Blogger Photographs Malcolm Gladwell

Humans of New York blogger Brandon Stanton has photographed David & Goliath author Malcolm Gladwell (pictured, via). Follow this link to see Gladwell’s picture.

Stanton posted the photo on Facebook and it has received more than 131,000 “likes.” When Stanton asked if Gladwell could share a piece of advice, he replied: “Change your mind about something significant every day.”

Some of Stanton’s past subjects from the literary community include editor Yaniv Soha, literary agent Brian DeFiore, and PostSecret book series author Frank Warren. What do you think?

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