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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: Penguin, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 1 - 25 of 198
1. Penguin to Close My Artist’s Way Toolkit Site

myartistswayPenguin is shutting down the website My Artist’s Way Toolkit on May 15th 2014. The site was based on Julia Cameron‘s book and supplied interactive tools designed to encourage creativity.

The site, which has been available to readers through subscription, included writing exercises, creative affirmations and a toolset for organizing a user’s own work.

Here is more from the website: “Before the site shuts down, you should export all of the great content you’ve built within the site. You will find explicit instructions on how to do just that here. And don’t worry, all charges from February 1st on will be refunded, which you will see reflected on your next credit card statement. If you have any questions, please reach out to us atappsupport@us.penguingroup.com.”

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2. Review of the Day: Curiosity by Gary Blackwood

Curiosity Review of the Day: Curiosity by Gary BlackwoodCuriosity
By Gary Blackwood
Dial (an imprint of Penguin Young Readers Group)
$16.99
ISBN: 978-0-8037-3924-6
Ages 9-12
On shelves April 10th

Blackwood’s back, baby! And not a minute too soon. Back in 1998, the author released The Shakespeare Stealer which would soon thereafter become his best-known work. A clever blending of historical fiction and adventure, the book allowed teachers the chance to hone Shakespeare down to a kid-friendly level. Since its publication Mr. Blackwood has kept busy, writing speculative fiction and, most recently, works of nonfiction for kids. Then there was a bit of a lull in his writing and the foolish amongst us (myself included) forgot about him. There will be no forgetting Mr. Blackwood anytime now though. Not after you read his latest work Curiosity. Throwing in everything from P.T. Barnum and phrenology to hunchbacks, Edgar Allan Poe, automatons, chess prodigies, murder, terrible fires, and legless men, Blackwood produces a tour de force to be reckoned with. In the press materials for this book, Penguin calls it “Gary Blackwood’s triumphant return to middle grade fiction.” They’re not wrong. The man’s about to acquire a whole new generation of fans and enthusiasts.

Fear for the children of novels that describe their childhoods as pampered or coddled. No good can come of that. Born weak with a slight deformity of the spine, Rufus lives a lovely life with his father, a well-respected Methodist minister in early 19th century Philadelphia. That’s all before his father writes a kind of predecessor to The Origin of the Species and through a series of misadventures is thrown into debtor’s prison. Fortunately (perhaps) Rufus is a bit of a chess prodigy and his talents get him a job with a man by the name of Johann Nepomuk Maelzel. Maelzel owns an automaton called The Turk that is supposed to be able to play chess against anyone and win. With Rufus safely ensconced inside, The Turk is poised to become a massive moneymaker. But forces are at work to reveal The Turk’s secrets and if that information gets out, Rufus’s life might not be worth that of the pawns he plays.

Making the past seem relevant and accessible is hard enough when you’re writing a book for adults. Imagine the additional difficulty children’s authors find themselves in. Your word count is limited else you lose your audience. That means you need to engage in some serious (not to mention judicious and meticulous) wordplay. Blackwood’s a pro, though. His 1835 world is capable of capturing you with its life and vitality without boring you in the process. At one point Rufus describes seeing Richmond, VA for the first time and you are THERE, man. From the Flying Gigs to the mockingbirds to the James River itself. I was also relieved to find that Blackwood does make mention of the African-Americans living in Richmond and Philly at the time this novel takes place. Many are the works of historical fiction by white people about white people that conveniently forget this little fact.

Add onto that the difficulty that comes with making the past interesting and accurate and relevant all at once. I read more historical fiction for kids than a human being should, and while it’s all often very well meaning, interesting? Not usually an option. I’m certain folks will look at how Blackwood piles on the crazy elements here (see: previous statement about the book containing everything from phrenology to P.T. Barnum) and will assume that this is just a cheap play for thrills. Not so. It’s the man’s writing that actually holds your focus. I mean, look at that first line: “Out of all the books in the world, I wonder what made you choose this one.” Heck, that’s just a drop in the bucket. Check out these little gems:

“If my cosseted childhood hadn’t taught me how to relate to other people, neither had it taught em to fear them.”

“I was like some perverse species of prisoner who felt free only when he was locked inside a tiny cell.”

“Maelzel was not the sort of creator imagined by the Deists, who fashions a sort of clockwork universe and winds it up, then sits back and watches it go and never interferes. He was more like my father’s idea of the creator: constantly tinkering with his creations, looking for ways to make them run more smoothly and perform more cleverly – the kind who makes it possible for new species to develop.”

As for the writing of the story itself, Blackwood keeps the reader guessing and then fills the tale with loads of historical details. The historical accuracy is such that Blackwood even allows himself little throwaway references, confident that confused kids will look them up themselves. For example, at one point Rufus compares himself to “Varney the Vampire climbing into his coffin.” This would be a penny dreadful that circulated roundabout this time (is there any more terrifying name than “Varney” after all?). In another instance a blazing fire is met with two “rival hose” companies battling one another “for the right to hook up to the nearest fireplug.” There is a feeling that for a book to be literary it has to be dull. Blackwood dispels the notion, and one has to stand amazed when they realize that somehow he managed to make a story about a kid trapped in a small dark space for hours at a time riveting.

Another one of the more remarkable accomplishments of the book is that it honestly makes you want to learn more about the game of chess. A good author can get a kid interested in any subject, of course. I think back on The Cardturner by Louis Sachar, which dared to talk up the game of Bridge. And honestly, chess isn’t a hard sell. The #1 nonfiction request I get from my fellow children’s librarians (and the request I simply cannot fulfill fast enough) is for more chess books for kids. At least in the big cities, chess is a way of life for some children. One hopes that we’ll be able to extend their interest beyond the immediate game itself and onto a book where a kid like themselves has all the markings of true genius.

It isn’t perfect, of course. In terms of characterization, of all the people in this book Rufus is perhaps the least interesting. You willingly follow him, of course. Just because he doesn’t sparkle on the page like some of the other characters doesn’t mean you don’t respond to the little guy. One such example might be when his first crush doesn’t go as planned. But he’s a touchstone for the other characters around him. Then there’s the other problem of Rufus being continually rescued by the same person in the same manner (I won’t go into the details) more than once. It makes for a weird repeated beat. The shock of the first incident is actually watered down by the non-surprise of the second. Rufus becomes oddly passive in his own life, rarely doing anything to change the course of his fate (he falls unconscious and wakes up rescued more than once,) a fact that may contribute to the fact that he’s so unmemorable on the page.

But that aside, it’s hard not to be entranced by what Blackwood has come up with here. Automatons sort of came to the public’s attention when Brian Selznick wrote The Invention of Hugo Cabret. Blackwood takes it all a step further merging man and machine, questioning what we owe to one another and, to a certain extent, where the power really lies. Rufus finds his sense of self and bravery by becoming invisible. At the same time, he’s so innocent to the ways of the world that becoming visible comes with the danger of having your heart broken in a multitude of different ways. In an era where kids spend untold gobs of time in front of the screens of computers, finding themselves through a newer technology, Blackwood’s story has never been timelier. Smart and interesting, fun and strange, this is one piece of little known history worthy of your attention. Check and mate.

On shelves April 10th.

Source: Galley sent from publisher for review.

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First Line: “Out of all the books in the world, I wonder what made you choose this one.”

Notes on the Cover: And now let us praise fabulous cover artists. Particularly those creating covers that make more sense after you’ve finished the book. The glimpse of Rufus’s eye in the “O” of the title didn’t do much more than vaguely remind me of the spine of the The Invention of Hugo Cabret at first (an apt comparison in more than one way). After closer examination, however, I realized that it was Rufus in the cabinet below. The unnerving view of The Turk and the shadowy Mr. Hyde-ish man in the far back all combine to give this book a look of both historical fervor and intrigue. And look how that single red (red?) pawn is lit. It’s probably not actually a red pawn but a white one, but something about the image looks reddish. Blood red, if you will. Boy, that’s a good jacket.

Professional Reviews: A star from Kirkus

Misc:

  • Care to read Edgar Allan Poe’s actual article for The Messenger about The Turk?  Do so here.
  • A fun BBC piece on the implication of The Turk then, now, and for our children.  It appears to have been written by one “Adam Gopnik”.  We’ll just assume it’s a different Adam than the one behind A Tale Dark & Grimm.

Videos: Want to see the real Turk in action?  This video makes for fascinating watching.

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3. Review of the Day: Nightingale’s Nest by Nikki Loftin

NightingalesNest Review of the Day: Nightingales Nest by Nikki LoftinNightingale’s Nest
By Nikki Loftin
Razorbill (an imprint of Penguin)
$16.99
ISNB: 978-1-59514-546-8
Ages 10-14
On shelves now.

Magical realism in children’s novels is a rarity. It’s not unheard of, but when children’s authors want fantasy, they write fantasy. When they want reality, they write reality. A potentially uncomfortable mix of the two is harder to pull off. Ambiguity is not unheard of in books for youth, but it’s darned hard to write. Why go through all that trouble? For that reason alone we don’t tend to see it in children’s books. Kids like concrete concepts. Good guys vs. bad guys. This is real vs. this is a dream. But a clever author, one who respects the intelligence of their young audience, can upset expectations without sacrificing their story. When author Nikki Loftin decided to adapt Hans Christian Andersen’s tale The Nightingale into a middle grade contemporary novel, she made a conscious decision to make the book a work of magical realism. A calculated risk, Loftin’s gambit pays off. Nightingale’s Nest is a painful but ultimately emotionally resonant tale of sacrifice and song. A remarkably competent book, stronger for its one-of-a-kind choices.

It doesn’t seem right that a twelve-year-old boy would carry around a guilt as deep and profound as Little John’s. But when you feel personally responsible for the death of your little sister, it’s hard to let go of those feelings. It doesn’t help matters any that John has to spend the summer helping his dad clear brush for the richest man in town, a guy so extravagant, the local residents just call him The Emperor. It’s on one of these jobs that John comes to meet and get to know The Emperor’s next door neighbor, Gayle. About the age of his own sister when she died, Gayle’s a foster kid who prefers sitting in trees in her own self-made nest to any other activity. But as the two become close friends, John notices odd things about the girl. When she sings it’s like nothing you’ve ever heard before, and she even appears to possibly have the ability to heal people with her voice. It doesn’t take long before The Emperor becomes aware of the treasure in his midst. He wants Gayle’s one of a kind voice, and he’ll do anything to have it. The question is, what does John think is more important: His family’s livelihood or the full-throated song of one little girl?

How long did it take me to realize I was reading a middle grade adaptation of a Hans Christian Andersen short story? Let me first tell you that when I read a book I try not to read even so much as a plot description beforehand so that the novel will stay fresh and clear in my mind. With that understanding, it’s probably not the worst thing in the world that it took a 35-year-old woman thirty-nine pages before she caught on to what she was reading. Still, I have the nasty suspicion that many a savvy kid would have picked up on the theme before I did. As it stands, we’ve seen Andersen adapted into middle grade novels for kids before. Breadcrumbs, for example, is a take on his story The Snow Queen as well as some of his other, stranger tales. They say that he wrote The Nightingale for the singer Jenny Lind, with whom he was in love. All I know is that in the original tale the story concentrates on the wonders of the natural world vs. the mechanical one. In this book, Loftin goes in a slightly different direction. It isn’t an over-reliance on technology that’s the problem here. It’s an inability to view our fellow human beings as just that. Human beings. Come to think of it, maybe that’s what Andersen was going for in the first place.

It was the writing, of course, that struck my attention first. Loftin gives the book beautiful sequences filled with equally beautiful sentences. There’s a section near the end that tells a tale of a tree that fails to keep hold of a downy chick, but is redeemed by saving another bird in a storm. This section says succinctly everything you need to know about this book. I can already see the children’s book and discussion groups around the country that will get a kick out of picking apart this parable. It’s not a hard one to interpret, but you wouldn’t want it to be.

As for the characters, there wasn’t a person here that I couldn’t recognize as real. I was quite taken with the fact that Loftin continually sidesteps a lot of the usual middle grade tropes. Gayle’s nasty foster brother Jeb, for example, could easily have been labeled the typical bully type character for this book. Bullies in children’s books, after all, have a tendency to be one-note characters. Jeb, in contrast, is capable of talking like a normal human being from time to time. He’s a horrible human being at other times, but at least you get the sense that he’s not just a walking two-dimensional caricature. It makes a difference.

The ending is going to be problematic for some folks. It is not, I should say, unsatisfying. I think even people who don’t have a problem with what it says will only have a problem with HOW it goes about saying it. But the end of the book goes so far as to make it clear that this story really doesn’t take place in the real world in which we live. The characters face real world problems, but that doesn’t preclude the presence of something magical. “There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio . . .” and all that jazz. For some readers, this may feel like a kind of betrayal. As if the author didn’t have the guts to stay in the real world from start to finish, but instead had to rely on something otherworldly for her climax. I don’t see it that way. Loftin’s choices seem very deliberate here, from page one onward. Just because something is magical, that doesn’t mean you can’t interpret the book in other ways. Don’t like the supernatural element at the end? Then why are you assuming it’s real? After all, we’re getting this whole story through Little John’s perspective. Who’s to say he’s the world’s most reliable narrator? Just because a book is written for children, that doesn’t mean you have to take it at face value.

In any case, I don’t believe the magic detracts in the least from what Loftin is saying here about the banality of poverty. This isn’t a book that romanticizes what it’s like to be poor. It’s just Little John’s everyday existence, to a certain extent. And with the introduction of The Emperor, readers get to see firsthand how money, or the lack thereof, has a lot to do with self-worth and what you have to do with your pride and sense of self-worth when you’re indebted to another person. Little John witnesses firsthand his own father’s humiliation at the hands of the Emperor, and then finds himself in possession (in a sense) of something The Emperor wants. But rather than give him power, this just focuses the rich man’s attention on the boy, making him easy prey. Better that you never have something the wealthy think that they need. And as Little John says at one point, “What was right didn’t have a thing to do with what was.”

Reading the book, I found it enormously painful. But I at least had the wherewithal to realize that it was uniquely painful to me as a mother. Any parent reading this is going to instantly fret and worry and think about Gayle’s position in her foster home. But for kids reading this book they’re going to identify with Little John and Gayle as children, not as parents. This is a book about terrible decisions made, for the most part, by good people. This can, at times, make the story emotionally hard to follow, but I like to think Ms. Loftin had things well in hand when she came up with her tale. There’s a great comfort in knowing that even when you screw up royally, you can still find forgiveness. If kids take nothing else away from this book, I hope that they understand that much. Smart and beautiful by turns, The Nightingale’s Nest does one thing that few will contest. Once you’ve read it, you’ll have a hard time getting it out of your head.

On shelves now.

Notes on the Cover: It was indeed the cover that I noticed first about this book. Unfortunately the name of the artist has been difficult to find, but it’s lovely isn’t it? The girl, clearly Gayle, could be floating or flying or just lying on the ground, depending on how you look at it. Of course, most notable is the fact that she appears to be African-American. There’s been a lot of talk over the last few years about showing black faces on our book jackets, so I applaud Razorbill for having the guts to do a cover that isn’t a silhouette. That said, I did notice that at no point in the novel does the book specifically say that Gayle is dark-skinned. In fact, it doesn’t really describe her skin at all. We get a sense of how soft her hair is and how beautiful her voice, but nothing much more beyond that. Could this be one of the very few cases in which a kid’s race isn’t mentioned in a book and yet that kid isn’t just assumed to be white? If so it’s a big step forward in the world of book jackets. Someone should conduct an interview with Razorbill’s art director about the decision to go with this cover. I’d love to know if this is indicative of books in the future. If so, it’s a trend I’ll be watching with great interest.

Source: Galley sent from the publisher for review.

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Misc: Finally, you can read an excerpt over at I Read Banned Books.

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4. Merry Christmas!!!

I want you all to know that I really appreciate your visits and comments on my little blog. Thank you!!!

If you follow me on Instagram, you've seen my #HoHoDooDa sketches. Here are a few of them for your viewing pleasure.

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5. Penguin To Publish Alexa Chung Style Guide

Penguin Books will publish a new book from the British television presenter/model Alexa Chung in the U.S. in November.

In the book, Chung will will share her tips on style and things like how to decide what to wear. Titled, It, the book will include writing, drawings, and photos from the Fuse News anchor. The author will also share personal photos in the book. To get a feel for the types of photos Chung likes to take, you can check out her Instagram and Tumblr pages.

Here is more about Chung from the press release: “She is the recipient of numerous style awards, including the British Style Award, voted for by the public, which she has won three years in a row. She was recently appointed Young Style Ambassador for the British Fashion Council.”

New Career Opportunities Daily: The best jobs in media.

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6. “Speak the language.” Children’s book illustrator E.B. Lewis shares his emotional work and words

“Art is a language,” Children’s book illustrator E.B. Lewis told a roomful of illustrators, aspiring and professional. What is a language, Lewis asked. “Letters of the alphabet that join together to form words, then paragraphs. And finally stories and jokes,” he answered his own question. And the mark of fluency? Maybe not what you think. “Telling [...]

7 Comments on “Speak the language.” Children’s book illustrator E.B. Lewis shares his emotional work and words, last added: 4/12/2013
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7. European Commission Approves Penguin Random House Merger

The European Commission has approved the merger of Penguin and Random.

The Commission ruled that they were not concerned with unfair competition, “because the merged entity will continue to face several strong competitors.” This was one of the major hurdles facing the merger of the publishing companies owned by Bertelsmann and Pearson. Here’s more from the release

The Commission assessed the impact of the transaction on the upstream markets for the acquisition of authors’ rights for English language books in the European Economic Area (EEA) and worldwide, and on the downstream markets for the sale of English language books to dealers in the EEA, in particular in the UK and Ireland. The Commission found that on both types of markets the new entity Penguin Random House will continue to face competition from several large and numerous small and medium sized publishers. As regards the sale of English language books, the merged entity will furthermore face a concentrated retail base, such as supermarkets for print books and large online retailers for e-books, like Amazon. In addition, the Commission’s investigation revealed no evidence that the transaction would lead to risks of coordination among publishers in relation to the acquisition of authors’ rights and the sale of English language books to dealers.

New Career Opportunities Daily: The best jobs in media.

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8. Review of the Day: No Fits, Nilson! by Zachariah Ohora

Nilson1 237x300 Review of the Day: No Fits, Nilson! by Zachariah OhoraNo Fits, Nilson!
By Zachariah Ohora
Dial (an imprint of Penguin)
$16.99
ISBN: 978-0-8037-3852-2
Ages 3-7
On shelves June 13th

The small child is a frightening beast. A truly terrifying creature that can level the most powerful adult with the mere pitch of their fury laden screams. As a children’s librarian I used to tell my husband that mine was one of the few jobs I knew where an average day was punctuated by human sobs and screams of terror, misery, and fury. What then is the reasoning behind the idea that you should read a child a book about a fellow kiddo having a meltdown? Well, kids can get a lot out of that kind of identification. They can put themselves into the role of the parent, to a certain extent. Or maybe it’s just good old schadenfreude. Better her than me, eh? Whatever the reasoning, meltdowns make for good picture book fodder. Add in a giant blue gorilla with a penchant for wristwear and you’ve got yourself a picture book as fine as fish hair. A treat to eye and ear alike, Ohora is truly coming into his own with a book that truly has universal appeal. And a gorilla. But I repeat myself.

Amelia and Nilson are inseparable. They play together, eat together, and with some exceptions (Nilson is afraid of water so no baths) they’re never out of one another’s sight. The fact that Amelia is a little girl and Nilson a gigantic blue gorilla? Not an issue. What is an issue is the fact that Nilson has a terribly short fuse. Good thing Amelia knows exactly what to do to calm him down. Don’t want to go with mom to do chores? Amelia calls them adventures instead. Nilson’s getting testy waiting in line at the post office? Amelia hands him her froggy purse. It’s the moment that Nilson gets the the last banana ice cream that Amelia’s composure finally breaks down. Now she’s the one who’s upset. Fortunately, Nilson knows the perfect way to make everything right again.

Nilson2 300x184 Review of the Day: No Fits, Nilson! by Zachariah OhoraWhen we think of the great tantrum picture books out there, the mind immediately leaps to the be all and end all of fits, When Sophie Gets Angry Really Really Angry by Molly Bang. That book sort of set the standards for meltdown lit. It’s simple, it gets to the point, it teaches colors (though that’s more a nice bonus rather than anything else). After Sophie authors tried to come up with different unique takes on a common occurrence. Rosemary Wells came up with Miracle Melts Down, Robie Harris dared to discuss the unmentionable in The Day Leo Said “I Hate You “. And who could forget David Elliott’s truly terrifying Finn Throws a Fit? In the end, this book is almost an older version of Knuffle Bunny by Mo Willems (it involves preschooler fits rather than toddler fits, which as any parent will tell you are a different beast entirely). But part of what I like most about No Fits, Nilson! is that it sort of harkens back to the early days of Sophie. Ohora makes a metaphor out of the familiar and in doing so makes it even more understandable than it would be if his gorilla was nowhere in sight.

Ohora’s previous picture book, Stop Snoring, Bernard! was a lovely book to look upon. As an artist, the man has cultivated a kind of acrylic mastery that really does a wonderful job of bringing out the personalities of his characters within a limited color palette. However, while the art in Bernard was at times beyond stunning, his storytelling wasn’t quite there yet. It was all show without the benefit of substance. So it was a great deal of relief that I discovered that No Fits, Nilson! had remedied this little problem. Story wise, Ohora is within his element. He knows that there is no better way of describing a kid’s tantrums than a 400-pound (or so) gorilla. Most important of all, the metaphor works. Nilson is a marvelous stand-in for Amelia, until that moment of spot-on role reversal.

Nilson3 300x184 Review of the Day: No Fits, Nilson! by Zachariah OhoraAs I mentioned before, the acrylics threaten to become the stars of the show more than once in this book. Limiting himself to blue, red, pink, yellow/beige and green, Ohora’s is a very specific color scheme. Neo-21st century hipster. Indeed the book appears to be set in Brooklyn (though a map on one of the subways manages to crop out most of the Bronx, Queens, Staten Island and half of Brooklyn, so maybe I’m reading too much into the setting). As I also mentioned before, painting beautifully is one thing, but coming up with delightful, memorable characters is what separates the RISD grads from the true picture book masters. Nilson is the one that’s going to get the kids the most excited to read this book so it was important for Ohora to make him a unique blue gorilla. Not the kind of guy you’d run into on the street. To do this, Ohora chooses to accessorize. Note the three watches Nilson wears on his left arm and the three on his right. Note his snappy black beret with the yellow trim, and yellow and black sneakers. Next, the artist has to make Nilson a gorilla prone to the grumps but that is essentially lovable in spite of them. For this, Amelia is a very good counterpoint. Her sweetness counteracts Nilson’s barely contained rage. Finally, Ohora throws in some tiny details to make the reading experience enjoyable for adults as well. The typography at work when the tiny words “banana ice cream” move from Amelia’s mouth and eyes to Nilson’s mouth and eyes is a sight to behold. Ditto the funny in-jokes on the subway (New Yorkers may be the only folks who get Ohora’s “Dr. Fuzzmore” ads, and the one for the zoo is a clear cut reference to Stop Snoring, Bernard!).

Yeah, I’m a fan. Kids may be the intended audience for books like this one, but it’s parents that are shelling out the cash to buy. That means you have to appeal to grown-up sensibilities as well as children’s. What Ohora does so well is that he knows how to tap into an appreciation for his material on both a child and adult level. This is no mean feat. Clearly the man knows where to find the picture book sweet spot. A visual feast as well as a treat to the ear, this is a book that’s going to find an audience no matter where it goes. At least it better. Otherwise I might have to sick my own 400-pound gorilla on someone, and believe me . . . you do NOT want to get him angry.

On shelves June 13th

Source: Review from f&g sent from publisher.

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Professional Reviews:

Misc:

  • Whence the inspiration for the book?  This comparison chart should clear everything up (WARNING: CONTAINS SOME SWEET KICKS).

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9. The Grimm Legacy (2010)

The Grimm Legacy. Polly Shulman. 2010. Penguin. 325 pages.

 The Grimm Legacy has an intriguing premise. Wouldn't it be fun if fairy tales were true and there were magical artifacts gathered together in a library collection in New York? Wouldn't it be fun to work in such a library, such a collection? To be able to 'try' some of these artifacts yourself. But it isn't all fun as our heroine, Elizabeth Rew, and her fellow pages (Marc Merrit, Anjali Rao, Aaron Rosendom) learn. For someone is attempting to steal the real magical objects and replace them with fakes. And the attempt is succeeding. These four teens (Elizabeth, Marc, Anjali, and Aaron) must learn to work together--despite great personality conflict--to solve the mystery of WHO is stealing from the Grimm Collection. This fantasy novel has mystery and drama for it's a dangerous task before them.

While I liked the book well enough to keep reading, I didn't love it. I just didn't make a good connection with the characters. Some of the characters were interesting; for example, Anjali has a very spirited sister that plays an important role in the novel. But I wasn't satisfied with their development; the characters just didn't feel believable enough.

Read The Grimm Legacy
  • If you enjoy YA fantasy
  • If you enjoy fantasy 
  • If you are interested in the second novel in the series which involves time travel! It's called The Wells Bequest!
© 2013 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

3 Comments on The Grimm Legacy (2010), last added: 4/20/2013
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10. Jonathan W. Stokes Inks 3-Book Deal

stokes

Filmmaker Jonathan W. Stokes has landed a six-figure deal with Penguin Young Readers Group’s Philomel imprint.

This middle-grade trilogy project marks Stokes’ debut as a novelist. Philomel president Michael Green will edit the manuscripts.

According to Deadline, the story “has a globe-trotting Goonies vibe and follows a sixth-grader and his pals as he tries to save his archaeologist parents after they’ve been kidnapped by fortune hunters.”

 

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11. Actions I'm Taking After Reading the New Read-Aloud Handbook

I've included some general responses to my recent reading of the 7th edition of Jim Trelease's The Read-Aloud Handbook in a separate post. Here, I'm sharing the bits that motivated me to want to take a specific action, and/or change something that I'm doing, in terms of my daughter's reading experience.

Mind you, I'm already reading to my daughter (now 3 1/2) regularly. She visits the library, and chooses her own books. We have books in the car, and we take books with us when we go on trips. We read mostly picture books, but are dabbling in early readers, and even dipping our toes into chapter books. I've read at least two earlier editions of The Read-Aloud Handbook, as well as various other titles on this subject, and I'm confident that we're doing a reasonable job already. 

Still, I found some useful take home messages, places where I think we can do a little bit better. Like these:

Perform Repeat Reads of the Same Book

"Research shows that even when children reach primary grades, repeated picture book reading of the same book (at least three times) increases vocabulary acquisition by 15 to 40 percent, and the learning is relatively permanent." (Page 10, Chapter 1)

The immediate take-home message for me on this is to make sure that we do read new picture books at least three times (unless we dislike them, of course). This isn't much of a problem with books that we own, but sometimes the big stack of library books goes back with books that were only read once or twice. I guess mostly this is a reminder of being patient about re-reads. 

Fill More Book Baskets

Another thing that Trelease advocates is the placement of book baskets in strategic locations throughout the house. I did this when my daughter was younger, but I haven't updated the baskets and locations recently. I need to stock a basket for the bathroom, and figure out a way to keep books closer to the kitchen table. This is going to tie in with another project that we're just starting - putting aside some of the board books (sob!), which currently fill the baskets. 

Get A Bedside Lamp

A related idea, Trelease also suggests buying your child a bed lamp, and letting them stay up 15 minutes later if they are reading in bed. We're not quite ready for this idea in my house yet (we tend to read to her until she falls asleep), but a bed lamp is clearly something that we're going to need soon.  

Read More Poetry

Trelease also talks about the need to read aloud stories that rhyme (Chapter Two). I haven't been as good about reading my daughter poetry as I would like. She's now starting to play with rhyming herself (and has just discovered tongue-twisters), and I think it's time for us to add more poetry to our repertoire. 

Always Say the Title and Name of the Author

In Chapter 4: The Dos and Don'ts of Read-Aloud, Trelease says:

"Before you begin to read, always say the name of the book, the author, and the illustrator--no matter how many times you have read the book." (Page 74)

I used to be very good about this, and had been letting it go a bit lately. This reminder has already gotten me back on track with attribution. I also like to say where the book came from, if it was a gift. 

Read More Slowly

Another reminder from Chapter 4, always good to hear again:

"The most common mistake in reading aloud--whether the reader is a seven-year-old or a forty-year-old--is reading too fast. Read slowly enough for the child to build mental pictures of what he just heard you read. Slow down enough for the children to see the pictures in the book without feeling hurried. Reading quickly allows no time for the reader to use vocal expression." (Page 75)

I think it's always tempting for adults to read quickly, and get through more books. There's a feeling of accomplishment if we read five books tonight before bed. But reading them better, more slowly, with more expression and discussion, is clearly better in the long run. I'm going to work on this.

Chart Reading Progress

My daughter loves to look at her growth chart, and see how much she's grown. Trelease advocates creating a home or school wall chart so that kids can see how much they've read. He says that:

"images of caterpillars, snakes, worms, and trains work well for this purpose, with each section representing a book. Similarly, post a world or U.S. wall map, on which small stickers can be attached to locations where your books have been set." (Page 76)

I especially like the map idea, because we LOVE maps in my house. I'll have to think about the best way to do this. US map? World map? Both? 

Initiate Home Drop Everything and Read (D.E.A.R.) Time

Trelease suggests setting aside time each day for the child to read by herself (even if she is just flipping through books that she can't yet read). He adds: "All your read-aloud motivation goes for naught if time is not available to put that motivation into practice." (Page 77)

We've done this informally, especially in the car. But I like the idea of having a designated quiet self-reading time. I'm happy to also use the time to model reading, by reading my own book. I'll have to think about how this could be integrated into our schedule. 

Spend Less Time Pecking Away on My Phone

I don't have one quote for this, but a number of references in The Read-Aloud Handbook have affirmed something that I've been concerned about for a while. I spend too much time looking at things on my phone, in my daughter's presence. I'd rather either be present with her, or have her see me reading books (or newspapers or magazines). If I am going to read electronically, I prefer to do it on the Kindle Paperwhite, which is only for reading books. I always call this my "Kindle Book", to reinforce the idea that when she sees me with it, I am reading.  

Continue Limiting TV Time, and Turn On the Closed Captioning

Trelease has a whole chapter on the impact of television and audio on kids and reading. I've been determined since before she was born that my daughter will not have a television set in her bedroom (and I won't have one in mine, either). We currently only allow her to watch television on weekends (though she does sneak in a bit of extra time on the iPad during the week sometimes). But she's like an addict, constantly asking if it's the weekend, and then binging on movies when it is. 

I'm particularly struck by the results of a study that found looked at children's schooling level by age twenty-six vs. the amount of television watched in childhood. "Children who viewed less than one hour a day were the most likely to achieve a college degree." (Page 147) Another study suggested "no detrimental effects on learning (and some positive effects) from TV viewing up to ten hours per week; however, after that, the scores begin to decline. The average student today watches three times the recommended dosage." (Page 148)

I'm not going to make any changes right now, besides turning on the closed captioning (something that Trelease has recommended for years, so that kids SEE the words). But I'm going to keep an eye on how many hours of TV watching creep in over the weekends. Just as soon as the baseball playoffs are over, anyway. 

Limit iPad Time When Traveling

We don't have a portable DVD player, or a DVD player in the car, and I don't see much need for one. But we have downloaded a few select movies onto the iPad. We've found this useful for long car trips, or other times when we need a break. (Most recently, when we brought our daughter along on a wine tasting trip to Napa.) I'm not prepared to give this up - it's been awfully handy on long flights. But I do take this point by Trelease into account:

"The recent addition of the DVD player to family transportation does nothing but deprive the child of yet another classroom: conversation with parents or the shared intellectual experience of listening to an audiobook communally." (Page 154)

I don't think that  my daughter is quite ready to follow along with an audiobook, but I do plan to use them for car trips when I think that she's ready. In the meantime, I'm going to work on talking more, and resorting to the iPad less, especially in the car (though I won't give it up entirely). 

Conclusion

A pretty fine list of actions to take, considering that this is at least the third edition I've read of The Read-Aloud Handbook (out of 7 published editions). Trelease has said that this will be the last edition that he writes, which makes me sad. But I'm very happy to have this one. 

How about you all? Have you read The Read-Aloud Handbook? Has it affected your efforts to grow bookworms in your own household? I'd love it if you would share. 

© 2013 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook. This site is an Amazon affiliate. 

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12. Reading Aloud to Kids Builds Background Knowledge

I recently read the 7th edition of Jim Trelease's The Read-Aloud Handbook (more details here). The section (in Chapter 1) on Background Knowledge stood out for me. Trelease says: 

"Background knowledge is one reason children who read the most bring the largest amount of information to the learning table and thus understand more of what the teacher of the textbook is teaching... For the impoverished child lacking the travel portfolio of affluence, the best way to accumulate background knowledge is by either reading or being read to." (Page 13-14)

There is no question that my daughter has acquired background knowledge from books. Recently we were in the parking lot at the grocery store, and a taxi cab passed by. My daughter said: "Look! A taxi cab! I've never seen one in real life before." (Forgetting various airport trips, I guess.) She had, however, seen a taxi cab in Night Light by Nicholas Blechman. And despite the one in the book having been somewhat stylized, the rendition was accurate enough for my Baby Bookworm to know one when she saw it. 

Do you have examples of ways that your child has used books to build background knowledge? Or is this so pervasive that you don't even notice? 

See also my related post about making connections between books and day-to-day life, from this year's Share a Story - Shape a Future literacy blog tour. 

© 2013 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook. This site is an Amazon affiliate. 

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13. Penguin Settles Price Fixing Suit with the DOJ

Penguin Group has reached a proposed settlement with the Department of Justice (DOJ) over the price fixing lawsuit filed in April 2012. Macmillan (as Holtzbrinck Publishers LLC) and Apple are the only two remaining parties who have not settled with the DOJ about an alleged conspiracy to fix eBook prices.

The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York must approve the settlement, but it would end Penguin’s role in the suit. In addition, the DOJ noted that they are “currently reviewing” the merger deal struck between Penguin and Random House. If the merger occurs, then “the terms of Penguin’s settlement will apply to it.”

Here’s more from the DOJ Antitrust Division chief of staff Jamillia Ferris: “Since the department’s settlement with Hachette, HarperCollins and Simon & Schuster, consumers are already paying lower prices for the e-book versions of many of those publishers’ new releases and bestsellers … If approved by the court, the proposed settlement with Penguin will be an important step toward undoing the harm caused by the publishers’ anticompetitive conduct and restoring retail price competition so consumers can pay lower prices for Penguin’s e-books.”

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14. The Magic of Ordinary Days

The Magic of Ordinary Days. Ann Howard Creel. 2001. Penguin. 304 pages.

I picked this one up after watching the movie adaptation. I just loved the movie. It felt like it would be my kind of book too: set just in the right time period for me to love, World War II. But would I like the book or movie better?

Olivia (Livvy) Dunne finds herself married to a stranger, Ray Singleton--a farmer--after she finds herself in an unfortunate situation: she's pregnant. Her father arranges with another minister to marry off 'poor' Livvy to a good, stable man. The two meet on their wedding day. She asks him WHY he's willing to marry a stranger and IF he'll be able to love the baby. His answer surprises her, he feels it's God's will to bring them together, and, of course, he'll love her baby. It is the raising of a child that makes a father.

The novel chronicles their lives together that first year as she adjusts to an isolated country lifestyle, as she tries to find ways to occupy her time and grasp the fringes of her true dreams. She loves history and archaeology. She loves finding and discovering old things. She loves finding out about the past, imagining herself in that past. Ray is only a little helpful, it is Ray's sister, Martha, who is able to help her the most. For Martha has stories about their parents, grandparents, etc. It is Martha who is able to tell her about the settling of the place, the original structures built, how their family lived and worked and struggled to create a legacy for the family. And Livvy does see how very much Ray loves the farm, the land, the strong connection he feels to the past and present.

Livvy is lonely still, however. She becomes friendly with two Japanese women living at a nearby Japanese internment camp. She actually meets them in her own fields--for they have been hired to help with the harvest. It seems they are an answer to her prayers; they are so nice and friendly and pleasant to talk with. They even volunteer their tailoring services--providing her with a maternity dress and suit. But is the friendship genuine? I think it's as genuine as it can be since Livvy doesn't like being vulnerable and the two sisters almost by necessity don't feel comfortable telling all their secrets either. I'm not even sure Livvy realizes this until the end when she sees that by protecting herself, protecting her heart, always keeping things inside, she's keeping love out too.

Livvy's perspective provides insights to readers about what it was like to live during this time. Livvy tries to keep up with the war through newspapers--though she has to content herself with news that is a day or two old since the delivery is so slow. The travel restrictions also keep Livvy at home with Ray instead of allowing her to visit her family at Christmas and New Years--like she originally planned. ("I'll Be Home for Christmas" would have still been a 'new' Christmas song, having been done in 1943. "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" would have been another 'new' holiday song first introduced in the 1944 musical, Meet Me in St. Louis. "The Christmas Song" was written in 1944, but not recorded until 1946.) 

I really enjoyed this novel. I loved Ray and Livvy. I loved Martha and her daughter too.

Read The Magic of Ordinary Days
  • If you like historical fiction with a touch of romance
  • If you like stories set during World War II
  • If you like rural/country stories set on farms
  • If you like marriage-of-convenience or arranged marriage stories 
  • If you enjoyed the movie

© 2012 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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15. More Penguins




The penguins just keep on coming around here. It helps that the boys continue to make penguin requests. 

I've been posting a lot of sketches on Instagram (laurazarrrin) You can see yesterday's penguin blog post here.

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16. Penguin Awareness Day…who knew?

I found out from my friend, Juana Martinez-Neal,  that today is Penguin Awareness Day. There seems to be a day for everything under the sun. It just so happens that I have been drawing lots of penguins lately.


You might have noticed my new blog & website header already.


My kids have been requesting a penguin cowboy for weeks now, so here he is.


I loved playing Cowboys & Indians as a kid, and so do penguins. I always wanted to be an Indian.

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17. Publishing Industry Self-Publishing News

LouiseCB January illust

This January illustration was sent in by illustrator Louise C Bergeron.  Her work always makes me smile.

In the past month, I have gotten a number of requests for self-publishing information, thus the reason for sharing this information with you.  The one important piece of advice I can personally share is not to rush your book out, because you are excited and can’t wait.  If you want your self-published book to stand up to the big boys, you need to cross every “t” and dot every “i”. We’ll talk more about that over the weeks. 

Digital Book Wired reported:

Responding to a changing self-publishing landscape, including Pearson’s acquisition of leading self-publishing services provider Author Solutions, Penguin’s Book Country workshopping and self-publishing community has made some changes and added new features, including a free ebook creation, publication and distribution tool. It has also raised the royalty rate that it offers authors to 85% of net sales, up from 70%.

Book Country had taken criticism from self-published authors for charging authors for publishing services and for the percent of revenues that it takes after the book goes on sale. Author Solutions, now a sister company to Book Country, has also faced similar criticism.

The writer community and self-publishing platform will also now offer an online editor service that will help authors with their ebook formatting issues. The self-publishing tool will now also be open to all kinds of writers, not just writers of genre fiction, which the tool was focused on before. The writing community, however, will still be limited to genre work. Book Country will now distribute to more retailers and also be abandoning its print self-publishing capabilities.

Read the Full Article

Since its April launch, www.BookCountry.com has nearly 4,000 members who have posted 500 pieces of fiction, according to the company.

The self-publishing tool is integrated with Book Country’s “genre map,” a detailed classification system of many genres and sub-genres, offering authors fairly sophisticated marketing capabilities, including use of BISAC codes that help readers find books in their area of interest. Users are also given an online marketing guide and advice on pricing through a pricing calculator. Revenues from books sold are to be split between Penguin and the authors, depending on the price the author selects for the book and the distribution method.

“You don’t have to drive around with books in the back of your Subaru anymore”, said Penguin global digital director Barton.

Users can opt for professional print- and e-book production through outsourced firms for $549, produce it themselves for print and digital distribution for $299 or produce it themselves for e-book-only distribution for $99.

*******

Random House sold 11.2 million ebook units; Hachette 8.7 million; Harper UK 7.2 million, and Pan Macmillan 4.5 million. Some of those units were driven by the deep-discount 20-pence promotional bestsellers that have roiled the UK market in recent months.

*******

ePublisher Premier Digital announced a strategic alliance with Ingram in a lengthy press release that doesn’t really explain the business relationship, except to say that it covers “the management and distribution of print and digital content” though Ingram’s “integrated print, digital, and full-service distribution services.”

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: article, authors and illustrators, Book, reference Tagged: Author Solutions, Book Country, Book Distribution tool, ebook creation and publication, Pearson, Penguin, Self-Publishing

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18. PIDDLES THE PENGUIN!

What ho! Otto here!
Here is my new bestselling work of children's literature!

It is about a penguin called Piddles who widdles everywhere.

"Brilliant!" I hear you say, wondering why no-one has penned such a tome before. That is why I am a Bestselling Author and International Poet and you are not. (Statistically speaking it is very unlikely another Bestselling Author and International Poet is reading this. But if you are actually a Bestselling Author and International Poet, I apologize.)

It will be free, of course, for a short period, purely out of the goodness of my heart, on Monday and Tuesday. Probably this coming Monday and Tuesday, the 28th and 29th of January. But as it is only 99 cents, or 77 pence, why not buy it anyway? You can always return it if you don't like it!

Click on this rather shakily drawn cover image to view the thing on Amazon.com, or click on the links underneath!

Piddles the Penguin ebook for kids


CLICK HERE TO VIEW ON AMAZON.COM
CLICK HERE TO VIEW ON AMAZON.CO.UK

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19. Ta-dah! Otto Fishblanket is Number One! No, it's not.

Otto here again!

Piddles the Penguin has rocketed to the Number One spot in  Kindle Store , Books , Fiction , Children's Fiction , Literature , Humourous (Free books, that is) on Amazon.co.uk.


Over twenty people have downloaded my book!

Oh, rats, it's gone down to Number Two, now.

This means I have failed as an International Bestselling Author, and must lay down my pen.

CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD THE FREE BOOK WHILE YOU CAN ON AMAZON.COM
CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD THE FREE BOOK WHILE YOU CAN ON AMAZON.CO.UK
And here is a picture from said sad failure of a book:
Penguin peeing in a flowerpot

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20. Upcoming Events: Breathless Reads at The Grove


So, I was a little breathless this morning. Lita from Barnes & Noble - The Grove in Los Angeles asked me to moderate the Breathless Reads panel. As soon as my husband committed to giving me a ride over, I said yes, yes, YES!

I hope you'll join us!

Date: 
Sunday, February 10, 2013

Time: 
2:00 pm

Location: 
Barnes & Noble at The Grove
189 Grove Dr K 30
Los Angeles, CA 90036 [ MAP ]
323-525-0270







Marie Lu - Prodigy


Brenna Yovanoff - Paper Valentine

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21. Hachette, Penguin and Simon & Schuster Launch Bookish

Hachette Book Group, Penguin and Simon & Schuster have launched Bookish, nearly two years after the site was first announced in May 2011.

The site will recommend books and let readers shop for books. It also shares book excerpts and features essays from its editors and authors (we’ve included some excerpts below).

According to Digital Book World sources, the publishers have invested “about $16 million” in the new venture. Bookish also counted the participation of 16 other major publishers, including Random House, Inc., Scholastic, HarperCollins Publishers and Perseus Books Group.

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22. Penguin Friend


I'm adding to my Waddle of penguins. This one's taking a break from playing.
Now I need to get back to my real work.

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23. Author Event - Breathless Reads at Mrs. Nelson's


Earlier this week, Read Now Sleep Later had the awesome honor of being the official bloggers for the Breathless Reads Tour stop at Mrs. Nelson's Toy & Book Shop in La Verne, CA. RNSL's very own Alethea moderated the Breathless panel the day before at B&N and told us how great it was. Kimberly and I were super excited to cover this stop on the tour. (Note that this is going to be a pretty long, picture heavy post.) I (Thuy) will be posting in black while Kimberly will be adding her comments in blue.

Kimberly: Did we mention we both took the day off from work to attend? No, day jobs! You will not get in our way! Onward!


We arrived a couple of hours early and were able to get our shopping done before the panel began. After a short break for dinner, we returned to the store to meet Beverly from Mrs. Nelson's and Kathryn, the moderator of the panel. Mrs. Nelson's always goes above and beyond for events and this was no exception.

Kimberly: For real. 

There was a candy station at the back of the room where guests could create their own survival packs filled with M&Ms, Skittles, and candy hearts. That's totally my kind of survival food.

Kimberly: I might, might, have eaten my weight in Skittles that night. Just saying. 


The turnout for the event was very good and everyone seemed very excited to see things get started.  


Kimberly: I'd like to state that I thought this panel was exceptional. All of the talented authors are articulate, charming and positive. There was real excitement in the room and when the panel started- Standing Room only!

After the necessary intros, we got right down to the questions (please note that I am paraphrasing so please don't quote me. Hopefully our audio recording of the panel comes out well and we can put that up at a later date). I am not going to recap all the questions, just some of our faves.


What was the biggest lesson or surprise you had when getting your first book published?

JK: Jessica was surprised by the sudden rise in esteem in the small town she grew up in. A teacher who always had to discipline her for fighting or reading during class called to ask her to come visit their school. Being a published author changed people's perspective of her. 

ML: Surprised by how much of a writer's job is not writing. There are events, interviews, Facebook and Twitter. Surprised by how solitary writing is for half of the year and the other half is extremely social.

BY: Surprised that writing her second book was not that same as writing the first book. She thought that after the first book, she had it down, but then realized that she had no idea how to write the next book. She learned that each book is different and she won't know how to write it, but she will learn and grow from each one.

AC: Agreed with Marie that the extreme dichotomy of solitude vs the world of social media for an author surprised her. She also learned how little most people know about the publishing industry itself.


If you could choose one author to have dinner with, who would it be and what would you ask them?

AC: Neil Gaiman. Andrea is a huge fan of Neil Gaiman and told a funny story of how she used to live across the river from him and had to sometimes tell herself that she was not going to go stalk him. She also said that she had a funny blog post from a long time ago where she talked about wanting to meet Neil Gaiman at the grocery store (I totally found it - here). She would ask him about world building and mythology.

JS: Jessica would love to meet fantasy author Lois McMaster Bujold. She would love to pick Lois's brain and ask her about how she writes such great characters.

ML: Though deceased, Marie chose fantasy author Brian Jacques as her dinner date. Marie would love to ask him about world building and about the food in his books. Apparently there are a lot of food references in his books and Marie wants to know if these foods are real and if Brian could make them for her.

BY: Brenna chose Christopher Pike to invite to dinner. Brenna read a lot of Pike's work when she was a young adolescent and she wants to tell him about the odd perspective his books gave her adolescence. 

kind of love this pic of andrea kimberly took

What is your advice for aspiring writers?

AC: Write the book. She quoted Neil Gaiman saying that the difference between a published writer and an unpublished one is that the published author wrote the book. Don't give up and keep writing.

BY: Don't tell yourself "No." People will tell you "No" every day but don't start to doubt yourself. 

ML: Write, even if the words are bad. Just get it out. Sometimes you have to write a bad scene to get through it, but don't stop. 

JK: If Jessica had to tell her younger, aspiring author self something, it would be to go out and do something. Live life. Find out who you are. It's so easy to get wrapped up in a book and imaginary worlds, but you need to get out there and experience life for yourself.


If you couldn't be a writer and had to choose a "normal job," what would it be?

JK: Casting director

ML: Fighter pilot

BY: Fashion designer, dollmaker, psychological profiler, forensic anthropologist

AC: Dancer or cowboy

Favorite literary couple:

AC: Anne Shirley & Gilbert Blythe (Anne of Green Gables)

BY: Peabody & Emerson (Amelia Peabody series)

ML: Phèdre & Joscelin (Kushiel's Dart series)

JK: Po & Katsa (Graceling series)


There were a few more questions after this, but then the signing started. We hung out near the end of the line because Kimberly and I both had a giant stack of books.

Kimberly: And because we were having so much fun, even though it was getting kinda late, we didn't want to leave. 

All of the authors were really fantastic and fun. They signed all the books and posters and I think everyone had a good time. Here are a few last tidbits that I got while speaking with the authors during the signing session.

  • I got Jessica to give me a quick pronunciation guide to her book Origin. So Eio is pronounced Ee-oh (not Ay-oh as I've been saying it, though Jessica admits that she forgets sometimes as well). And Ai'on is said like Iowa. She also said that the Ai'on tribe is not a real tribe but is based on a real tribe from the Amazon.
  • Since Marie had expressed an interest in being a fighter pilot, I asked her if Kaede in Prodigy was her vicarious way of being a pilot and she said yes.  During the panel, Marie also mentioned that her editor named her baby Primo after the Elector Primo, who is named after her boyfriend. 
  • Brenna said that she loves all of the covers to her books (yes - so gorgeous!) but admitted that The Replacement might be her favorite because it was her first novel and the cover exceeded all of her expectations. 
  • I asked Andrea about her new adult series coming out this fall. She said that her publisher had approached her about writing an erotica novel and she came up with the idea for the series. She says that she is a very fast writer (she writes a book every 3 months or so) and says that she often comes to her publisher with ideas for new books or series. She also said that it would be extremely smutty (yay!).

Phew! And that was the end of the evening. Many thanks to Mrs. Nelson's for putting on such a wonderful event as well as the authors and Penguin for putting on the tour. Thanks to my co-blogger Kimberly for being my partner in crime. Kimberly recorded the audio for the panel. We're going to take a listen to it and hopefully it will be good enough to put up. We will definitely let you know if and when that happens.

Shout out to our friends who were also at the event - Crystal (Elegantly Bound Books), Nicole (The Reader's Antidote), Stacee (Adventures of a Book Junkie), Lindy and Ro (A Bookish Escape), and Lolly. I am sure there were other bloggers there as well. You should definitely go to one of the tour stops if you can. We had an awesome time. For more photos please visit our Facebook album for the event.

Kimberly: Also want to mention that Thuy and I did purchase some beautiful SIGNED books that night that we are planning on giving away to you, Lucky Readers! So keep an eye out on Read Now Sleep Later, and on our solo blogs Nite Lite and The Windy Pages.

You may also be interested to know that Mrs. Nelson's has signed books ready to be purchased! So if you missed the event, but still want a signed copy, visit their website or give them a call!


 Who's your favorite Breathless Reads author? Are you going to any of the events?





&

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24. Review – The Treasure Box

Many of my generation (sadly not all) and those of the next, fortunately have not endured the atrocities of war like those seen during the Holocaust. That we are able to feel its impact, appreciate the drama and acknowledge its implications is the unique potency of a picture book. Margret Wild and Freya Blackwood exploit this power wondrously well.The Treasure Box

The quiet unassuming cover of the Treasure Box magnetised me from the moment I was handed the book. The subdued colours, lone tree bereft of leaf and life, fragments of words adrift; all at conflict with the title, which promises something far brighter and more uplifting. I was a little unprepared for the subtle magnitude of the tale, again preoccupied by the end papers, comprising scraps of text which interestingly are taken from Sonya Hartnett’s and Morris Gleitzmann’s foreign editions of their own wartime tales of displacement and loss.

We join young Peter’s story after his home town is destroyed leaving the library in ruin. Books once housed there are transformed to nothing more substantial than bits of ash as ‘frail as butterflies.’ That is all but one; a book that by fortuitous happenstance had been taken home by Peter’s father before the bombing.

Treasure box illoPeter’s father is intent on safe-guarding the book for the stories it contains; stories that tell the history of Peter’s people, of a past ‘rarer than rubies, more splendid than silver, greater than gold.’ The book is secured in an old iron box which forms part of the meagre possessions they flee with from their homeland.

Peter’s father does not survive the soul crushing exodus but instills in Peter tremendous tenacity and a promise to keep their ‘treasure safe’. Unable to continue with such a load but true to his word Peter buries the box under an ancient linden tree, to which he returns many years later. His single-handed courage and loyalty perpetuates the most valuable treasure of all – the gift of hope and love.

Margaret WildMargaret Wild’s eloquent sense of story and place transports the reader into the very heart and soul of Peter and his father. Her thoughtfully sparse narrative paradoxically permeates every inch of the page and ounce of our attention. Neither her words nor the illustrations compete for space in this book. They work in convincing unison, caressing the story along and guiding us skilfully through horrific, almost unimaginable situations like sleeping in ditches, and holding the hand of a dying father.Freya Blackwood

Freya Blackwood’s artwork is instantly recognisable, however is taken one step higher using collage and multi-layering to create a stunning subtle 3D effect. Characters literally appear to be trudging across the page, accompanied by the metaphoric charred fragments of the leaves of a million books. The story is further enriched with delicate contrasts and symbolism on each page, all in the haunting sepia coloured tones of despair and misery.

Only the intensity of the treasure box itself, shown in vibrant red throughout, never fades. By Peter’s maturity, colour and prosperity have returned to his hometown. Even the library radiates with a glorious, golden yellow – hope restored.

I happened upon this picture book late last year, in spite of its 2013 publication date. I thought it was a most serendipitous discovery, but did not fully appreciate its immense value until I uncovered its contents. Truly one to treasure.

Penguin / Viking January 2013

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25. Thomas Pynchon, Elizabeth Gilbert & Charlaine Harris to Publish Novels This Year

Today Penguin USA released its year-end report, counting a $156 million operating profit for the year.

The publisher also gave readers a peek at Thomas Pynchon‘s upcoming novel, Bleeding Edge. Publication is set for September 17th. Here’s more from Penguin Press: “it is 2001 in Silicon Alley, New York City, in the lull between the collapse of the dot-com boom and the terrible events of September 11.”

In addition, Elizabeth Gilbert will also publish a novel in October, “infusing her inimitable voice into a story of love, adventure, and discovery.” In May, Charlaine Harris will end her Sookie Stackhouse series with Dead Ever After. (Via Sarah Weinman)

New Career Opportunities Daily: The best jobs in media.

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