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An advance copy of my next book arrived yesterday, to my total surprise! I am absolutely thrilled with the way it turned out. (Hard to see in the photo, but there's a spot varnish on the butterflies, Charles, and the title. I totally wasn't expecting such a wonderful detail. The design geek in me is very, very happy!)
I'm feeling truly fortunate and thankful to be working with such an amazing Editor, Art Director, and the whole team at Abrams!
The book will be out in October... stay tuned for some behind-the-scenes book posts in the weeks leading up to release!
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I'm working on an italian edition of Black Beauty with Edizioni EL. I'm always happy when I have the opportunity to work on a classic I loved as a child. My dream project would be an illustrated edition of Watership Down (there's a pitch in the works in my spare time. I hope it will see the light one day.) One of the reasons I enjoy working with Edizioni EL is that they leave me a lot of freedom. When I told them that I was tired of my usual digital work, they let me try something a little different - a graphite rendering and digital colour. It's a good way to step away from the computer and the final result is very appealing to me at this stage. Here's a little preview of the work and some sketches. As you can see, I'm still working on the layouts digitally. It's easier for me, as I know how much room I have on the page, but then I transfer them on Fabriano FA2 and use pencils. Follow me on IG to see more as I move along - https://www.instagram.com/gaiabordicchia/
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March is Women’s History Month and we’re bringing the month to a close by celebrating in grand style. Before women make their history, they first had to have some focus, bravery, and perseverance to get them there. Let’s face it, all women have hurdles to jump over, but every woman that makes, and contributes, to history qualifies as a “Gusty Girl!”
Before we continue, we need to pause for a…..
” Many of the situations that the author encounters in this book have inherent dangers and can lead to serious or even fatal injuries. One particular undertaking-Climbing the Golden Gate Bridge-is also illegal and should not be attempted. Readers should not venture into any of these situations without professional instruction, suitable training, and proper supervision. Neither the publisher nor the author assumes ay responsibility for any injuries incurred by the reader.”
This is the first page of one of the greatest reads of the year. You’re probably in one of two camps after reading this warning. The first camp can’t wait to find out what could be in this book to create such a warning and the second camp will run as fast as they can. Just so you know, I’m in the first camp BUT I greatly advise people of the second camp to take a deep breath and read it anyway. There’s something for everyone to help unveil the gutsy in all of us.
First I had to know more about that Golden Gate Bridge story and second I just had to know more about author Caroline Paul, what type of woman is she and what escapades in her life led her to write a guidebook for tween girls about creating such adventures? The Gutsy Girl:Escapades for Your Life of Epic Adventureis probably one of the finest reads I’ve picked up so far in 2016.
Author Caroline Paul was one of the first women on the San Franciso firefighting force as well as an experimental plane pilot, throughout the pages of her book we also learn that she is a recovering/rescue scuba diver. All this from a woman who says she was the biggest scaredy cat in the world as a child. Caroline greatly believes that girls are taught to be frightened by being instilled with the language of “fear”, while boys are fed that bravery and resilience are the goals to aspire to.
The Gutsy Girl: Escapades of Your Life of Epic Adventureis her antidote to empower tween girls to embrace their own bravery and resilience. This book is FUNNY and extremely imaginative and really intelligently written. Inside she shares her own stories one by one and the lessons and bravery she learned. Not all of them have happy endings but all of them have a take away to a new understanding of who she is or was at that time. This book is also part manifesto using language, insights, and encouragement into bravery and shear gutsiness. This is a guidebook however, and guidebooks mean you have to take action. Caroline Paul has also placed many great and inventive activities called Daring-Dos, as well as journal pages to reflect on ones own Daring-Dos experiences.
While sharing her escapades, author Caroline Paul is brilliant about showing the boundary lines between being gutsy and being stupid. She is always cautioning against being reckless and the difference between recklessness and being adventurous . She just doesn’t say it once, it’s sprinkled everywhere throughout the book in many different ways.
Some of My Favorite Parts
I learned some fun new things….
The illustrations in The Gusty Girl :Escapades for Your Life of Epic Adventure are done by her partner Wendy Macnaughton who also has a great sense of humor. One of my favorite illustrations is the Gutsy Girl International Phrase Book. It had me howling probably because I’ve needed to ask these very questions of people in far off lands and unknown languages.
Did you know this about how to know what temperature it is ?
So cool right ?
Something To Do
Writer Caroline Paul wasn’t always brave, or adventurous.
“I had been a shy and fearful kid. Many things had scared me. Bigger kids. Second grade. The elderly woman across the street. Being called on in class. The book Where the Wild Things Are. Woods at dusk. The way the bones in my hand crisscrossed.
Being scared was a terrible feeling, like sinking in quicksand. My stomach would drop, my feet would feel heavy, my head would prickle. Fear was an all-body experience. For a shy kid like me it was overwhelming.”
She gives great examples of current gutsy girls and women. Some known most we’ve never heard of but I’m so glad to know about them now.
Right within the pixels of Jump Into a Book we’ve had the pleasure of reviewing books based on Gutsy Girls. Here are a few of my favorites:
Below you’ll find a list and some links to some more gutsy girls. Go discover them and see what their bravery and adventuresome spirit inspires you to do.
Laura Dekker who set sail on the boat she made and remodeled with her father. Just shy of her 15th birthday, she set sail around the world to become the youngest person to ever circumnavigate the globe ALONE.
Learn more about her here. She also has a blog and a book called One Girl, One Dream.
Marie Antoine started climbing trees as a kid for fun. Now she does it as her job. She’s one of the few botanists who work in the canopies of the world’s largest trees the redwoods. From 325 feet up in the air, you’ll find her munching her lunch and taking a little snooze in the hammock she brings along. That’s a long long way down. One of my personal daring dos is to climb up into a Redwood tree. Just thought I’d share that. I first learned of Marie from the book The Wild Trees by Richard Preston which talked about her and her husband Stephen Stillet and the work they do way up there. Here’s a great look at their lives.
Shark Whisperer Cristina Zenato grew up is the African Congo. She is an accomplished diver. Christina calms the sharks by rubbing around their nose and mouth along small jelly filled holes. This quiets the shark into a semi-paralytic state for up to 20 minutes. During the time the sharks are hypnotized, Christina pulls out fishhooks, removes parasites from their skins, and extracts various samples for scientific research. In lieu of being fearful of these large sea creatures, she calls them family and says they are greatly misunderstood. Do you know who else says that ? My eldest daughter, “Bun-Girl” who also has had her own adventures with sharks.
To find out more about Christina Zenato have a look here.
This book honestly speaks to girls and women of all ages. I found it to be timeless in it’s appeal. She beckons us to embrace the spirit of adventure or at the very least to explore the idea. She shares what it means to be brave, that perseverance is how to get through it, that we don’t need to be perfect just present and the most important take away for being a Gutsy Girl is to laugh at oneself a lot. That’s an important skill especially when trying to do nearly impossible things.
Are you a Gutsy Girl?
Ready to get your “sleuth” on? My Secret Codes, Mysteries and Adventures Activity PDF for kids will keep young minds percolating for HOURS!
Inside young super detectives will discover:
*19 pages of sleuthing fun for your family to enjoy.
*Use Pilot Frixion Pens and craft paper to create Invisible Secret Notes!
*Make I Spy Cookies!
*Discover a President of the United States who was a Master Code Creator!
This free activity guide is a great way to encourage kids to pull books off of shelves, discover the power of imagination and build a new excitement and anticipation for reading. Fill out the info below and grab your FREE copy. Enjoy!
I was recently commissioned to do a few maps for an upcoming book* due out later this year. A few people asked to see the final art after I posted some work-in-progress details over on Instagram, so here it is, along with some process show-and-tell.
Since I'm usually asked to illustrate places that exist in reality, this project was super interesting, because these were more fantasy-based maps.
In this case, the art director sent over detailed notes about the story, along with a rough sketch of how the author visualized the world in her head. This was all extremely helpful, and gave me a great starting point, yet still left a lot of creative freedom...
Below is the first sketch sent to the publisher. (I swear I had some tiny rough thumbnails, but they were lost in the flurry-of-paper that is my studio.)...
Close up inking details and adding a tone wash...
Coffee meditation break. (No worries! None was spilled! Don't try this at home, kids!!)...
Good art can be a little dark and disturbing. In the case of a new exhibition at the Whitney Library Gallery, it can also be classified as creepy, spooky, kooky, mysterious and more than a little fun. The show features dark drawings and haunting images, much of them from a new children's book, "The Stumps of Flattop Hill," by Las Vegas-based author Kenneth Kit Lamug.
"... There are several other sources of enjoyment in a long voyage... the map of the world ceases to be a blank; it becomes a picture full of the most varied and animated pictures." –from THE VOYAGE OF THE BEAGLE
Charles Darwin was born 207 years ago today, on February 12, 1809. Today is also Darwin Day– a celebration of Darwin's life and amazing contributions to the world of science. Cake for everyone!
Follow along with Best Selling author Hervé Tullet’s spirited reading of Press Here!
From Chronicle Books:
Press here. That’s right. Just press the yellow dot, and turn the page. The single touch of a finger sparks a whimsical dance of color and motion in this joyful celebration of the power of imagination. A NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
A PUBLISHERS WEEKLY BESTSELLER A NATIONAL INDIE BESTSELLER
AN ALA NOTABLE CHILDREN’S BOOK NOMINEE
A PUBLISHERS WEEKLY BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR
A KIRKUS REVIEWS BEST CHILDREN’S BOOK OF THE YEAR
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It’s time! Time for The Audrey Press Holiday Book Sale!! Giving Young Readers the Gift that they can Open Again and Again!
As the holiday season approaches, consider adding the gift of books to your shopping list. There are many wonderful booklists available for parents looking to give their child the gift of reading and adventure. A book makes a great gift because they are meaningful, beautiful, portable, appealing, and inexpensive and it’s a gift that can be opened again and again. Books are the perfect gift for any age and a gift that doesn’t require batteries or sizing instruction!
If you would like to get started on your family reading adventure, or would just like to add to your family bookshelf, Audrey Press has some special deals on their catalog of books to get readers and gift-givers on their merry way. From November 30th to December 15th, give the gift of reading, adventure and education at extra-special Black Friday prices!
Discover the joys of delving into this timeless children’s literature classic and see the Secret Garden through new eyes and a modern twist! Kids and nature go hand-and-hand and enjoying the bounty that the great outdoors brings is not just a “summer thing.” A Year in the Secret Garden is a delightful children’s book with over 120 pages, with 150 original color illustrations and 48 activities for your family and friends to enjoy, learn, discover and play with together. Grab your copy ASAP for the Holiday Book Sale price of $15.00More details HERE!
Do your young readers love nature and all of nature’s critters? The Fox Diaries: The Year the Foxes Came to our Garden offers an enthusiastically educational opportunity to observe this fox family grow and learn together. From digging and hunting to playing and resting, this diary shares a rare glimpse into the private lives of Momma Rennie and her babies. Grab your copy ASAP for the Holiday Book Sale price of $12.00HERE.
The Waldorf Homeschool Handbook is a simple step-by-step guide to creating and understanding a Waldorf inspired homeschool plan. Within the pages of this comprehensive homeschooling guide, parents will find information, lesson plans, curriculum, helpful hints, behind the scenes reasons why, rhythm, rituals, helping you fit homeschooling into your life. Discover The Waldorf Homeschool Handbook: The Simple Step-by-Step guide to creating a Waldorf-inspired homeschool will makes a great gift so grab your copy ASAP for the Holiday Book Sale price of $17.00
The Ultimate Guide to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Enhanced Digital eBook is an entertaining and educational children’s book enhanced with animations, games, recipes, videos, and more providing hours of fun for kids and parents alike. Based on the beloved story of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory this interactive children’s e-book is filled with action and adventure. With over 20 crafts and activities (including creating Gobstopper Gum and Chocolate Rivers, golden tickets, handmade Willy Wonka hats, etc.), this beautifully illustrated e-book re-lives the wonder and amazement through Willy Wonka’s world of magic. Download your copy ASAP for the Holiday Book Sale price of $3.99
Don’t have an Apple device, but still want to experience the thrill, activities and magic of The Ultimate Guide to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory? This entertaining and educational children’s book based on the beloved story of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is available in PDF form! With over 20 crafts and activities (including creating Gobstopper Gum and Chocolate Rivers, golden tickets, handmade Willy Wonka hats, etc.), this beautifully illustrated PDF re-lives the wonder and amazement through Willy Wonka’s world of magic. Download your PDF copy ASAP for the Holiday Book Sale price of $5.00!
Review Bloggers! We Need YOU! MCCBD 2016 Review Blogger Sign-up is OPEN!
***Review Bloggers-Sign up is HERE (Sign-up is open until December 31, 2015. There are no guarantees everyone will be matched with a book donator)
Our past few weeks have been a swirl of doctor appointments and deadlines. I had to skip a few of my weekly Books We’ve Read roundups because usually I put them together on weekends, and my last three weekends were quite full! Three weeks’ worth of books is too many for one post, but I’ll share a few particular standouts…and next Sunday I’ll be back on track with my regular “this week in books.”
Mordant’s Wish by Valerie Coursen: a family favorite, now sadly out of print (but available used). This is a sweet story with a chain-reaction theme. Mordant the mole sees a cloud shaped like a turtle and wishes on a dandelion for a real turtle friend. The windblown seeds remind a passing cyclist of snow, prompting him to stop for a snow cone—which drips on the ground in the shape of a hat, reminding a passing bird that his dear Aunt Nat (who wears interesting hats) is due for a visit…and so on. All my children have felt deeply affectionate about this book. The domino events are quirky and unpredictable, and the wonderful art provides lots of clues to be delighted in during subsequent reads. If your library has it, put it on your list for sure.
Sloth Slept On by Frann Preston-Gannon. Review copy provided by publisher. A strange, snoozing beast shows up in the backyard, and the kids don’t know what it is. They ask around but the adults are busy, so they hit the books in search of answers. All the while, the sloth sleeps on. The fun of the book lies in the bold, appealing art, and in the humor of the kids’ earnest search unfolding against a backdrop of clues as to the mysterious creature’s identity. Huck enjoyed the punchline of the ending.
Possum Magic by Mem Fox, illustrated by Julie Vivas. I’ve had this book since before I had children to read it to: it was one of the picture books I fell in love with during my grad-school part-time job at a children’s bookstore. Fox and Vivas are an incomparable team—it was they who gave us Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge, which I described in 2011 as perhaps my favorite picture book of all time, an assertion I’ll stand by today. Possum Magic is the tale of a young Aussie possum whose granny works some bush magic to make her invisible, for protection from predators. Eventually young Hush would like to be visible again, but Grandma Poss can’t quite remember the recipe for the spell. There’s a lot of people food involved (much of it unfamiliar to American readers, which I think is what my kids like best about the book).
Rilla and I finished Dancing Shoes, our last Saturday-night-art-date audiobook. Now we’re a couple of chapters into Swallows and Amazons. She’s a little lukewarm on it so far—so many nautical terms—but I suspect that once the kids get to the island, she’ll be hooked. The Ransome books were particular favorites of Jane’s and I’m happy to see them get another go with my younger set.
After Charlotte’s Web, I chose Natalie Babbitt’s The Search for Delicious as our next dinnertime readaloud (for Huck, Rilla, and Wonderboy). We’re nearing the climax now and oh, this book is every bit as gripping as I remember from childhood. The kingdom is about to erupt in war over the question of what food should define “delicious” in the Royal Dictionary. The queen’s brother is galloping across the kingdom spreading lies and fomenting dissent, and young Gaylen, the messenger charged with polling every citizen for their delicious opinion (a thankless and sometimes dangerous task), has begun to discover the secret history of his land—a secret involving dwarves, woldwellers, a lost whistle, and a mermaid’s doll. So good, you guys.
My literature class (Beanie and some other ninth-grade girls) continues to read short stories; this month we’re discussing Poe’s “The Purloined Letter” and Thurber’s “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.” In November we’re doing Around the World in Eighty Days, so I’ve begun pre-re-reading that one in preparation. But I also found myself picking up a book I read, and didn’t get a chance to write about, earlier this year: Dear Committee Members by Julie Schumacher. The fact that I’ve read it twice in one year is probably all the endorsement I need give: with a TBR pile is taller than the Tower of Babel, I really shouldn’t be spending any time on rereads at all. But there I was stuck in a waiting room, and there it was on my Kindle, calling me. It’s an epistolary novel—you know I love those—consisting of letters (recommendations and other academic correspondence) by a beleaguered, argumentative university writing professor. His letters of recommendation are more candid and conversation than is typical. He’s a seriously flawed individual, and he knows it. But his insights are shrewd, especially when it comes to the challenges besetting the English Department. I thoroughly enjoyed this book on both reads.
Beanie finished Betsy and the Great World and is now reading Betsy’s Wedding (Rose insisted, and I fanned the flames) and Rilla of Ingleside, as our 20th-century history studies take us into World War I. Don’t Know Much About History continues to work quite well for us as a history spine, a topics jumping-off place, especially given the way it is structured: each chapter begins with a question (“Who were the Wobblies?” “What was the Bull Moose Party?”) that serves as a narration hook for us later. Then we range into other texts that explore events in more depth or, as with the Betsy and Rilla books above, provide via narrative a sense of the period. I probably don’t have to tell you I’m pretty excited about getting to include Betsy and Rilla in this study. Rilla of Ingleside is one of my most beloved books. The fact that my youngest daughter’s blog name—which I use nearly as much as I use her real name—is Rilla is probably a good indication of how much this book (and Rainbow Valley) means to me.
My late-September busy-ness put me in a bit of a slump with my sketching progress—it’s really the first time I’ve dropped the ball on my practice since I began just over a year ago. This week I pulled out our Illustration School books (Beanie and Rilla found them under the tree last Christmas) and decided that whenever I feel slumpy, I’ll just pick a page in one of those, or in a 20 Ways to Draw a… book (we have Tree, Cat, and Tulip) and follow those models. It’s an easy way to get some practice in and there’s something satisfying in filling a page with feathers, mushrooms, or rabbits—even when I make mistakes. Which I do. A lot.
This roundup doesn’t include much of the teens’ reading, and nothing from Scott although he has racked up quite a few titles since my last post. I’ll get the older folks in next time. And I suppose it goes without saying that these posts also provide a bit of a window into our homeschooling life, since I try to chronicle all our reading—a large part of which is related to our studies. If you’re curious about what resources we’re using (especially the high-schoolers, about whom I get the most queries via email), you’ll find a lot of that information here.
Speaking of which: any favorite WWI-related historical fiction you’d like to recommend?
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So very hot. We were languid this week and didn’t seem to read as much as usual, but maybe that’s just me. We had a lot of medical appointment stuff happening with Wonderboy and it’s possible I just didn’t do a good job keeping track of what people were reading. A few things, though, absolutely shone.
A Fine Dessert is one of those picture books everyone is talking about this year, for good reason. Four families, four centuries: mothers and daughters in Lyme, England, 1710; on a Charleston, South Carolina plantation, 1810; in Boston, Massachusetts, 1910; and a father and son in—we were all so excited to see the narrative arrive in our own backyard—San Diego, California, 2010. Each pair gathers the necessary ingredients for a most delicious-sounding dessert: blackberry fool. This is a deft and fascinating look at progress and culture: what changes over time, and what stays the same. Rich history, rich dessert: a delicious combination. Naturally, there’s a recipe for the dish in the back of the book—along with informative notes from author and illustrator. Is there a blackberry fool in our future? Absolutely.
Huck really enjoyed Up in the Garden and Down in the Dirt. You walk through the year with a grandmother and child, tending the garden and watching the activity of a whole village of little creatures below the soil. Sounds like familiar territory, but this is a new presentation, gorgeously illustrated, and my kids loved watching the below-ground bustle of roly polies, earthworms, and other nibbling creatures.
Land Shark: everyone read it but me! I’ll have to report back later on that one. Seemed to be a hit, though.
Huck devoured Glorkian Warrior—a young graphic novel I’m told is most entertaining. Now, the Mother Goose was a tiny bit of a cheat. This is a much beloved book in my house—a gift from my sister when Jane was born, and considerably tattered from hundreds of readings. Huck knows it more or less by heart. Which is where the cheat comes in: I have a policy of requiring a kid to memorize a poem before he (it is nearly always my youngest who asks) may download a new iPad app. The neighbor kid turned Huck on to some free motorcycle game, but Huck couldn’t add it to our device until he recited a poem for me. He trotted off to the poetry shelf and came back—oh, it must have been seconds—later, triumphantly announcing he’d learned one by heart. Sure, he had. IN THE CRADLE, PRACTICALLY. He rattled off Jack and Jill and hustled away to download his game before I could muster an argument about loopholes. Next time I’ll have to be more specific about which end of the poetry shelf he may draw material from, the scamp.
The Supergirl graphic novel was a Rilla read.
Continued from last week:
I don’t know how I’m going to make it through the last two chapters of Charlotte’s Web. Just the sight of the next chapter title—”Last Day”—got me all choked up. And, you know, this is very likely the last time I will read it aloud to my own children.
Vanessa and Her Sister is so good, you guys! I’m reading pretty slowly, just because I’ve been so busy and I zonk out quickly most nights. But that’s all right because I’m happy to be savoring it slowly. Gorgeous writing. And I took Kortney’s advice and requested Hermione Lee’s Virginia Woolf biography from the library. It arrived and is about three inches thick. It doesn’t seem to be available on Kindle, more’s the pity. All fat books should be available on Kindle.
Beanie reread a bunch of Harry Potter books this week, and I don’t know what everyone else was into. Rilla checked out a stack of library books about the moon. She’s been spouting interesting tidbits at me all week.
I have two more crammed-full weeks ahead of me, and then I hope to get back to posting in between these Sunday book recaps. But for now, I’m just happy I’ve managed to pull this together four weeks in a row!
We are doing a special promotion through 9/15/15 to coincide with our favorite season. We’ve teamed up with a bunch of really cool kidlit authors to offer some great free and discounted eBooks. 4EYESBOOKS has discounted The Nutt Family: An Acorny Adventure on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooks & Kobo. Chess Nutt and his sister Praline are always pretending to have crazy adventures. What happens when these two acorn siblings have an unexpected real life adventure on their own? Things get a little nutty!
Other books in this great promotion will be discounted from 9/11 – 9/15. Check them out HERE.
How can you help? Read to children in your life and give them the gift of books–including letting them choose some of their own books. Volunteer your time at your library or school after-school reading program. Create a Free Little Library. Donate to your local library or library of your choice, and to literacy organizations:
Everyone else is doing it, so I thought I'd post my five reasons why you should apply to be a Cybils Awards judge. As you would expect, there's a lot of overlap with other people's reasons, but I'll add my own spin on them, and with an emphasis on my category, Young Adult Speculative Fiction. For those who don't know what speculative fiction is, it includes fantasy, science fiction, horror, dystopian, steampunk, and basically anything else with supernatural, fantastical, or futuristic elements.
1. Read and discuss good books. Hopefully you don't need an excuse to read, but it doesn't hurt to be able to say, "Sorry, I can't do the dishes, I have to finish this Cybils book." Cybils judges engage in intense reading - and for Round 1, a LOT of reading - and intense discussions with a small group of people who share your book passion.
In YA Spec Fic, we've sometimes had upwards of 200 nominated books in Round 1, and while you don't have to read them all, Round 1 judges in YA SF can expect to have to read at least 40 books over a 3 month period. (Presumably, you'll already have read some of the category nominations). It's crazy intense, but so much fun! Round 2 judges have to read 5 to 7 books in a little under 6 weeks, but they get to read "the best of the best" and choose a winner.
2. Make lifelong friends. Those intense discussions with like-minded people? Turns out they're a great basis for a friendship. I've made lifelong friends from serving together on a Cybils panel. (And KidLitCon is a great place to meet up with them in person!)
3. Influence the books available for children/teen reading. Yup, awards do have an influence. And while the Cybils don't get as much media as, say, the ALA awards, we have a pretty big and dedicated following that includes teachers, librarians, and booksellers. The books you choose may end up on reading lists, getting purchased by a library, or in bookstore displays. Books that win awards and get that attention may be more likely to be reprinted or have a sequel or other books by the author published.
4. Get your blog better known. Did I mention we have a following? Round 1 judges are encouraged to blog about the books you read, and while Round 2 judges can't blog the finalists during the round, they can post reviews after the winners are announced. Throughout the Cybils season, we post review excerpts with links to reviews by both Round 1 and Round 2 judges to the Cybils blog, thus further aiding discovery of judges' blogs. During the summer, you can contribute themed book lists for posting on the Cybils blog. Being a Cybils judge can bring greater visibility to your blog, increase your traffic, and give you greater credibility with publishers.
5. Learn a lot. I mean, a lot. I sometimes think I know a lot about YA SF, but every year I'm blown away by the knowledge and expertise of my fellow judges, and every year I learn more from them.
What I'm looking for
As Category Chair for YA Speculative Fiction, I have the responsibility to choose the judges for my category. It's my least favorite part of the Cybils: I hate having to choose one person over another, but unfortunately we usually don't have room for everyone.
Here are some of the things that I look for:
1. A passion for speculative fiction. If your "about" on your blog says that you don't really like most spec fic, then I'll most likely pass. If you don't post about SF much, I'll think long and hard before choosing you.
2. Knowledge of spec fiction and its subgenres. Speculative Fiction is a very diverse genre. One day you might be reading a scary ghost story, and the next a futuristic dystopian. I look for people who have read broadly within the genre and can discuss the various aspects, literary elements, and tropes of the genre.
3. Critical thinking skills. I have to know that you can think critically about books and analyze the literary elements and readability of a book. Reviews are a great way to demonstrate this, but if you don't review books, hopefully you can submit other blog posts that demonstrate your critical thinking skills.
4. Open to diverse perspectives. I want to see that you have a demonstrated interest in diversity, and a tolerance for worldviews different from your own.
5. Diverse backgrounds. I mean this in two ways. First, I look for people who can bring expertise or experience with one or more under-represented groups, in what we usually mean when we say diversity. For example, do you blog about people of color, LGBTQA+ characters, differently-abled characters, different religious or worldviews, etc.? Second, I look for a variety of personal and work experience, so that the panel is hopefully made up of a good mix of librarians, teachers, parents, booksellers, authors, etc.
So I have I scared you off yet? Oops, I was supposed to be convincing you why you should apply! Please do apply, and if YA Speculative Fiction isn't your thing, we have plenty of other categories ranging from Easy Readers to Young Adult. We even have a book apps category!
It’s winding down! Summer may slipping away, but the Jump Into a Book team is always looking for creative ways to showcase amazing kidlit authors while also offering up companion activities to keep families reading and “jumping” into the pages of their favorite books.
This week I would like to focus in The Golden Compass; a wonderful book by author Philip Pullman.
In the world of Jordan College at Oxford, Lyra Delaqua’s life is more than simple. She shares many adventures with her daemon Pantalaimon and her best friend Roger. She occasionally learns from the scholars, but only when she’s in the right mood. She’s neither a peasant nor a noble child.
However, this simplicity only lasts until she catches the Master of Jordan trying to poison her nobleman uncle, Lord Asriel. This sets off a series of events that wrenches Lyra from her careless life at Oxford.
Lord Asriel is the first to introduce the aspect of Dust to her, something that he believes can only be found in the north, the place she desires to go more than anywhere else on planet. Thoughts of the great, white north race through her mind on a daily basis. This could be her chance—to travel to the north with her scholarly uncle to help him discover this so called dust.
But events are set in place to keep this from happening. Children are disappearing from Oxford. No one knows where they go or what happens to them once they are gone. All they know is who is taking them—the Gobblers. But the gobblers are faceless, and day by day, more children and their daemons are disappearing from all over the world.
After Lyra’s uncle has departed for his journey into the north, Lyra is introduced to the charming and graceful Mrs. Coulter, who intrigues Lyra so that she agrees to go with Mrs. Coulter and her eerie golden monkey to become her assistant, learn the ways of traveling, and venture into the north.But before Lyra leaves Jordan College, she is called to the Master who gives her a curious device called an alethiometer—a truth measurer. He gives her no information—not how to read, nor why he is giving it to her. He only emphasizes the great need to keep it secret.
For the first few weeks with Mrs. Coulter, Lyra’s life is drastically improved. She dresses well, bathes frequently. She learns about geography, cartography, and every other “ography.” But dark secrets are soon revealed—secrets of Dust, something called the Oblation board, and possibly what is happening to the children snatched up by the Gobblers. Lyra escapes from Mrs. Coulter just barely, and on her journey to find truth and her friend Roger, she encounters and learns more than she could ever imagine including Lord Faa and Farder Coram of the water-bound gyptians, Lee Scoresby the hot air balloon pilot from Texas, Serafina Pekkala—queen of a tribe of witches–, and Iorek Byrnison, an exiled bear prince from Svalbard. Together this ragtag band of determined allies travel into the north, discover the secret of the Gobblers, and many more secrets that even the alethiometer kept hidden.
The Golden Compass was one of the most interesting, intriguing books I have read in awhile. Everything is different about this book. Pullman has his own style, his own view of the world. The introduction of the idea of daemon’s as a person’s external soul is a very beautiful idea to me, especially since I am such an animal lover. There are so many unique, intricate ideas weaved into this book that you must read closely to catch them all. I am thoroughly intrigued and can’t wait to finish out the series with The Subtle Knife and The Amber Spyglass.
**Some of these links are affiliate links
Golden Compass Inspired Activities at Copalette.com. Enjoy a plethora of fun activities inspired by the book including Serafina Pekkala’s Mini Bow and The Golden Compass Game Spinner:
Make a pouch to hold your own alethiometer at Special Collections Learning:
What are the Northern Lights?
Scientifically known as Aurora Borealis, the northern lights are electrically charged particles from the sun that collide in earth’s atmosphere. So basically it’s these tiny particles that are really excited and in turn create these beautiful colors in the sky. SO..Where is the best place to see the northern lights?
Remote Islands in Norway
(and my Head Elf, Becky, tells me that Northern Minnesota should be added to this list!
Do your young readers love nature and all of nature’s critters? Experience the magical story of a family of foxes that took up residence right in the front yard of the author and publisher, Valarie Budayr. The Fox Diaries: The Year the Foxes Came to our Garden offers an enthusiastically educational opportunity to observe this fox family grow and learn together.
From digging and hunting to playing and resting, this diary shares a rare glimpse into the private lives of Momma Rennie and her babies. Come watch as they navigate this wildly dangerous but still wonderful world. Great to share with your children or students, The Fox Diaries speaks to the importance of growing and learning both individually and as a family unit. It is a perfect book for story time or family sharing. Not only can you read about the daily rituals of this marvelous fox family, there is an information-packed resource section at the end of the book that includes lots of facts and even a few “fox movies” that you can enjoy with your family. Grab your copy of this beautiful and inspiring book HERE.